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Eavesdropping

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“We have already discussed this. The boy is too old. He should not be trained.”

“It is the will of the Force. He must be trained.”

“He cannot be trained.”

Eavesdropping is rude, especially when the ones you’re eavesdropping on are your own master and the highly ranked council member, Mace Windu.

Obi-Wan knows this, but he found he rather didn’t care at the moment. He was far too curious as to what they had to say. So, he draws his mental shields as high and tight as he possibly can to keep the two elders from sensing his presence. Either he has impressed himself in his shielding abilities or the two are just caught up in their conversation, which is sounding more like an argument every second, to notice him.

It was late, very late, making the likelihood of another Jedi discovering the pair and their eavesdropper too little to worry about. Qui-Gon had instructed Obi-Wan to watch over Anakin as he ‘runs some errands,’ that was two hours ago. It was enough time for Obi-Wan to feed and entertain Anakin who was now sleeping peacefully on the couch in their quarters.

At first, Obi-Wan felt reluctant to leave Anakin, but Bant had commed him. She was his best friend and he had not seen her in months. They could not find the time in between missions and Bant’s healer classes with Master Che.

Obi-Wan was on his way to the Room of a Thousand Fountains to meet with Bant only to find two highly esteemed Jedi in the middle of intense, verbal exchange.

“Mace, please, if you just listen to reason-”

“No, Qui-Gon. It’s you who won’t listen to reason.”

Well, that certainly sounds like his Master.

The thought makes a small smile appear on his face. Obi-Wan can recall on many occasions when Qui-Gon was as stubborn as a bantha in discussions. He was firm in his decisions and no one could sway him, much to the Council’s dismay.

“He is destined to be a Jedi, Mace. He’s the Chosen One!”

“You do not know that.”

“I do. His midi-chlorian count is the highest the Jedi has ever seen.”

It’s true, Obi-Wan had done the tests himself. He never imagined it possible for someone to have such a high count. Obi-Wan didn’t even need to see the results to know Anakin was strong in the Force. His force presence was like a bright, burning star. His wide-ranging emotions are extremely vivid in the Force. Obi-Wan had to tighten his shields against the mental onslaught.

“Which makes him dangerous. I sense there is much fear in him.”

“He will learn to let go of his fear. I will teach him.”

He tries to ignore the little tendril of betrayal entering his mind. He hadn’t expected Qui-Gon to claim Anakin as his apprentice in the Council meeting. He was surprised by how quickly Qui-Gon was willing to train Anakin. Obi-Wan had to almost die for Qui-Gon to accept him.

He knew his master believed Anakin must be trained, but Obi-Wan never thought of the possibility of his master training him.

He never wanted you to begin with, now he can have a reason to get rid of you.

He shook his head to calm his thoughts. Releasing the distraught feeling into the Force, he willed the rising heat growing on his face to go away.

He heard Mace let out an exasperated sigh. “You already have a padawan, Qui-Gon.”

“Obi-Wan is ready to face the Trials. There is nothing more he could learn from me. I’ve taught him everything I know.”

Qui-Gon said you still have a lot to learn until he met the Chosen One.

“As Yoda said before, the Council will decide when Padawan Kenobi will face the Trials. Now is not the time. There is a possibility the Sith have returned, and you are focused on training a boy based on a prophecy?”

“He is the Chosen One.”

“So you’ve said.”

Obi-Wan could only imagine the look Mace was surely giving his Master right now. Through the years of his apprenticeship, he’s learned that Qui-Gon has the most success than any other Jedi in irritating Master Windu. The thought of his Master’s antics eases the agitating feeling he had felt before. It never made the pained worries completely go away, but the distraction was a welcome one.

“He must be trained. He will bring balance to the Force. The prophecy is true.”

“A prophecy can be interpreted in many ways. The boy’s future is clouded. He is attached to his mother, and he fears her death. There is a reason why Jedi do not have attachments.”

“What if we do not train him, and he is taken by the Sith. His future will already be certain.”

Obi-Wan could hear Master Windu sigh again. “Qui-Gon…”

“I will train him. It is the will of the Force that Anakin is trained.”

The two’s irritation started to show through their tone now.

“Qui-Gon, you have other responsibilities at present that need your focus more than a prophecy does, like your own padawan and finding out if this dark presence is a Sith. Whatever happened to keeping your concentration on the here and now?”

“I am Mace. Anakin is the here and now. He will one day bring balance to the Force. I will not let my responsibility to Obi-Wan be a hindrance to Anakin’s training.”

Oh… that hurt.

He felt like he had just been hit with a ton of bricks. His own emotions and the two other Jedi’s surrounded Obi-Wan’s force presence. Qui-Gon’s determination and Mace’s exasperation bounced off the walls of Obi-Wan’s mental shields. At some point, he had stopped breathing. When had he stopped breathing?

“I cannot believe you, Qui-Gon.”

This time it was his master’s turn to sigh. Qui-Gon’s voice was so tired, and his apprentice felt like such a kriffing mess up at the sound of it.

“Please, let Obi-Wan take the Trials. We will find the Sith soon, but I will not ignore Anakin’s need for training also.”

Obi-Wan doesn’t know what Windu replied. He doesn’t care to know actually. It was entirely rude of him to eavesdrop. He regrets ever listening in to the clearly private conversation.

Another grievance you’ve made for your master.

He’s humiliated. The heat spreading faster across his face is now a full-blown blush. Obi-Wan thinks he might suffocate on his own shame.

He quickly starts to his and Qui-Gon’s shared quarters. The hallways are quiet and empty, giving no distraction from the hurt settling painfully deep in his gut.

He couldn't believe he had been so foolish. At the start of his apprenticeship, things were tense. However, with time, he thought that his master had grown to like him, care for him even. Obi-Wan still hopes he does. He hopes that maybe Qui-Gon does care for him. His master is just focused on someone that he believes is more important.

More important than you.

Obi-Wan may not believe that Anakin should be trained, but even he agrees that the boy has great potential.

Anakin hasn’t even held a lightsaber and he is still better than you.

He physically cringed when he thought about how he practically threw himself at Qui-Gon to take him on as an apprentice. There was no dignity in his past actions. The man had made it clear he didn’t want another apprentice.

He didn’t want you.

Obi-Wan wrapped his cloak tight around him as if it would defend him from the incoming thoughts. His defense tactic didn’t work. The thoughts still came. No matter how hard he tried to stop them or how tight he closed his eyes or how high he put his shields. There’s no way to shield your mind from yourself.

Stupid.

His eyes stung and the unshed tears made his vision blur. Another hot wave of humiliation washed over him as he let his emotions get the best of him.

You’re in the way. You’ve always been in the way. Qui-Gon wasted 12 years of his life training you, a hindrance.

His worst fear has finally come to play: his master doesn’t want him. Force, he sounded like a child.

Weak.

Selfish.

Slow.

Stupid.

Failure.

Hindrance.

Hindrance.

Qui-Gon said you were a hindrance.

He couldn’t stop the single tear from falling.

You always were.

You always will be.

A Force forsaken failure.

A hindrance.

His commlink beeped.

Obi-Wan almost tripped on his own feet at the sound. It was from Bant. How could he have completely forgotten about her? Another failure to add to his list. He plainly could picture her standing in the Room of a Thousand Fountains as she waited for him.

He didn’t want to think about how much of her time he had wasted. A time that she could have spent on more pressing matters.

He couldn’t face his friend like this. Besides, he didn’t feel like talking at the moment. He sent her a message and continued to his quarters.

Something came up. We’ll have to meet another time. I’m sorry.

Bant sent back a reply by the time he arrived. He responded as he made his way to his room. Anakin was still peacefully asleep on the couch in the living area. Obi-Wan wished he felt peaceful. He would take any emotion over this burning misery right now.

Silently as he could, Obi-Wan closed the door. He needed to meditate. Meditate on all the hurt he felt and release it. He hopes Qui-Gon won’t be coming back anytime soon. What would Obi-Wan say to him?

He didn’t bother turning on the light. He doesn’t need to see right now. Obi-Wan didn’t want Qui-Gon to see him anyways, not with the silent tears falling freely down his face now. His back faced the door as he sat in a meditation pose.

He doesn’t know how long he sat there or how long he tried to find peace. He just knows that he can't find it. He wipes away the dried tear tracks on his face as his thoughts attack him again.

You can’t even meditate.

Failure.

Obi-Wan keeps his shields up. Anakin’s bright presence burns near him in the Force. He doesn’t want the boy to sense the wretched emotions churning inside him right now.

Qui-Gon will never care for you as he does him.

He gives up the meditation pose. His bed is much more comfortable than the floor, but Obi-Wan can’t find it in himself to get up. So, he leans against the nearest wall and curls up as tight as he can. The cold feeling of the wall touches one side of his face. It slightly helps the redness from his blush to go away.

He doesn’t know what to do now. How could he complete his training after hearing that? He only hopes the Council will decide to let him take the Trials soon. Once he is made a knight, Obi-Wan will no longer be Qui-Gon’s responsibility. He’ll no longer be a hindrance.

If you even pass the Trials.

No, he can’t think like that. Obi-Wan scrambles to find something to distract himself from his thoughts. He needs… needs… he needs to go to sleep. Yes. They are leaving for Naboo tomorrow morning. He needs all the rest he can get before he loses the chance.

He pulls his cloak even tighter around him like a makeshift blanket. He needs to sleep, but his stomach is in knots. Going to sleep will only make the morning come quicker. Once the morning comes he’ll have to face his Master and Obi-Wan can’t.

Karking coward.

What’s he supposed to say to his Master? He can’t tell Qui-Gon that he heard what his master said about him. Obi-Wan is embarrassed enough.

Force Obi-Wan doesn’t know what to do. Why couldn’t he just have been good enough? Good enough for his master to want to take him in. Why did Obi-Wan have to chase him around and be so kriffing clingy? What’s wrong with him?

Stupid Oafy-Wan.

He scrubs at his face in frustration trying to keep from crying like a youngling. He tries so hard to keep the tears at bay, but when he spots the gift his master had given him for his thirteenth birthday lying on his desk, he couldn’t hold it in anymore. The river stone taunted him from across the room.

If Anakin hasn’t sensed his presence then he’s sure to be woken up by Obi-Wan’s pathetic sobs.

Failure.

This isn’t the first time Obi-Wan felt like this. His thoughts attack him with no mercy. He always knew he wasn’t enough. He disappointed his master more times than he could count. Qui-Gon didn’t have to say anything because Obi-Wan already knew. He’s been struggling like this for a while, but this time it was different. He never broke down like this before. Qui-Gon never said anything like that before.

At least he never heard Qui-Gon say anything like that before. Obi-Wan hopes his master hasn’t.

He’ll only be telling the truth about you.

A hindrance.

He draws on the Force to guide the rock to his shaking hand. The silver moonlight coming through the crack in his blinds glimmered off the stone. The faint light revealed deep, red veins snaked around it.

The stone was Force-sensitive and it had saved Obi-Wan's life years ago. It’s the most treasured possession he owns. He took a deep breath as he centered his attention in the Force onto the rock.

It helped clear his thoughts and Obi-Wan sighed in relief. His shoulders slumped as the breath left him. Force, he was tired. The emotional turmoil he had just been through has exhausted him.

Obi-Wan found comfort in the rock he was holding. Its steady presence in both the Force and in his hand lulled him to a dreamless sleep.

———————————————————————

Qui-Gon did not succeed in changing Mace’s mind about Anakin. He was hoping that a conversation between just the two of them would allow Qui-Gon to convince him, but it did not turn out that way. It doesn’t matter.

Qui-Gon will leave the Order if he has to. The only problem is Obi-Wan still needs to finish his training. He wishes the Council would listen to him. Qui-Gon knows he told Obi-Wan that he still has much to learn, but it’s nothing he can’t learn after his Trials. He wanted to be there for his Padawan through the journey, but the Force has called him in a different direction.

He found Anakin asleep in the living area. He pulled a blanket over him as he smiled to himself. Anakin burrowed deeper in the blanket as the Force shone with contentment around him.

Obi-Wan must be in his room. Qui-Gon is a little surprised that Obi-Wan hasn’t shown up yet, that’s not like him. He notices the lights are off so he must be asleep, but Obi-Wan is not in his bed when he peeks into the room. He scans over until he sees a hunched figure beside the wall.

He’s about to ask why in the world his padawan was sleeping on the floor until he hears a faint, “Qui-Gon?”

The man sighs as he examines Obi-Wan. He didn’t find anything out of sorts except for Obi-Wan’s shields were unusually high. Satisfied with what he found, Qui-Gon took one last look at Obi-Wan before leaving the room.

If Qui-Gon had turned on the lights, he would have seen the tears still on Obi-Wan’s face and the river stone still clasp in his hand.

Qui-Gon silently shut the door as he went to Anakin. All thoughts on Obi-Wan vanished as he found the boy, leaving the forgotten padawan alone.