Birthday Blues
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Birthday Blues
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/He won't remember,/ Obi-Wan told himself firmly as he
pulled on his tunic. /I'm kidding myself if I think he
will. And I don't mind. I really don't./

It was his fourteenth birthday today, and Obi-Wan was
trying very hard to convince himself that he would not
mind if - *when* - his Master did not remember. He had
been apprenticed to Qui-Gon for just over a year now,
and after a beginning that had been rocky in more ways
than one, he felt they had now settled into a fairly
good working relationship. And if they were still not
what he would call close; if his Master still retained
a somewhat reserved manner around him; well, he could
live with it. He was Qui-Gon Jinn's Padawan. That was
the important thing.

/So who cares if he doesn't remember my birthday?/ He
thought, glancing in the mirror to check his
appearance. /It doesn't matter because he teaches me
and spends time with me every day. *That* is what's
important./

He stared at his reflection for a moment longer,
trying to determine if he looked any older that he had
yesterday. Not that he could see. Nothing noticeable
on the outside, anyway. Nothing his Master might
notice.

/Stop it!/ He told himself. /I know how busy he is
with these negotiations...I can't expect him to
remember my birthday on top of all of that!/

They had been on Barredai for two months, trying to
negotiate a peace treaty with a neighbouring system,
Gafar. The negotiations had been hard going; the Gafar
representatives had at first been openly hostile and
showed utter disdain for the Jedi's intervention,
peace negotiations in general and *these* peace
negotiations in particular. (How much of it had been
real and how much of it put on just to be difficult,
Obi-Wan had not been sure). But slowly, very slowly,
Qui-Gon had brought them round to the point of
actually talking to each other rather than flinging
insults. And with the help of Qui-Gon's astounding
diplomatic skills, they were inching their way towards
a peace treaty.

None of this was happening without considerable effort
on Qui-Gon's part, though. Obi-Wan knew that his
Master was expending enormous amounts of energy trying
to keep the negotiations going smoothly. After each
meeting, Qui-Gon would come back to their quarters
exhausted. Desperate to help, Obi-Wan had tried to
ease the strain for his Master as best he could.

/So if he doesn't remember my birthday, it's because
he has a hundred other things to worry about that are
much more important,/ Obi-Wan told himself firmly,
meeting his reflection's eyes in the mirror. /It's not
because he doesn't care./

With that thought, Obi-Wan set his jaw and headed out
into the common room of their quarters.

Qui-Gon was already up, of course, and just about to
leave for the day's negotiations. For the past two
months, Obi-Wan had been dividing his time between
attending meetings with Qui-Gon and devoting time to
his studies. Somehow Qui-Gon still found time between
meetings to keep his Padawan up to date on the
situation, ensure his studies were progressing and
continue his physical training. Obi-Wan often wondered
how his Master possibly managed to juggle it all.

"Good morning, Padawan," Qui-Gon greeted him, looking
up as Obi-Wan entered the common room.

"Good morning, Master. Did you sleep well?" He
couldn't keep the note of concern out of his voice.
Qui-Gon had looked more tired than usual this last
week.

The corner of Qui-Gon's mouth quirked up slightly.
'Fine, thank you, Padawan. You needn't concern
yourself." He beckoned Obi-Wan over. "I think that
today you should stay here and concentrate on catching
up with some of your studies. You have fallen a little
behind in astronavigation and biophysics, so you
should work on those. I have programmed your datapad
with the lessons you need to cover today."

"Yes, Master,' Obi-Wan said obediently. He felt a stab
of disappointment and tried desperately to squash it.
/I knew he wouldn't remember./

"Good," his Master said, getting up from his chair.
"Now, I must go, else they may try to start without
me." He headed for the door.

"Go in peace, Master," Obi-Wan called after him.

"Study hard, Padawan," Qui-Gon replied, smiling. A
moment later he was gone, the door sliding shut behind
him.

Obi-Wan stood there for a long moment, staring after
his Master. /He really didn't remember,/ he thought
miserably. He suddenly realised that all his
assurances to himself that he didn't mind if Qui-Gon
didn't remember had been false. He *did* mind. He
minded a lot. Suddenly he wasn't very hungry.

Obi-Wan hurriedly strengthened his mental shields so
that his Master would not pick up any of his emotions
through their training bond. He did not want Qui-Gon
to know that he was sulking about something so trivial
when they were on such an important mission.

/It wouldn't be so bad if we had been at the Temple,/
he thought sadly. /Bant would have remembered...and
Garen and Reeft, it they weren't on a mission.../ That
was part of the problem, he realised. He missed his
friends. He had been left alone a lot during the day
for the past two months, and basically, he was lonely.
He had become somewhat used to it, he would study and
meditate and exercise, but it didn't mean he liked it.
And now to be lonely on his birthday...that was just
adding insult to injury.

But there was nothing he could do about it, and so he
tried to resign himself to a day of studying. He
wasn't feeling very diligent, however. He felt
abandoned, and not a little hurt. /Maybe I should
meditate for a while before I start studying,/ he
thought. /It's probably a good idea./ He pulled the
meditation mat over by the window, knelt in the
customary position and closed his eyes, trying to
release his hurt into the Force.

***

Walking down the corridors on his way to the meeting,
Qui-Gon suddenly stopped short. /Oh, by the Force. I
forgot to wish him a happy birthday./ He shook his
head. /Some Jedi Master I am./

He reached out to Obi-Wan through their training bond,
but found that the boy was shielding. Stronger shields
than usual, too. He hesitated; considered going back.
But on checking his chrono, he saw that there was
simply no time. The meeting was due to start shortly,
and the negotiations were finally getting somewhere;
he could not afford any mishaps now.

/I'll just have to apologise this evening when I take
him out to celebrate. He must know I'm planning
something for him; I'm sure he won't take it to heart
that I didn't mention it this morning./ That decided,
he headed off to the meeting.

***

Obi-Wan opened his eyes and sighed. Meditation was not
helping. He still felt miserable. /All right,/ he
thought. /I'll try to study. I've got to do it
sometime. I don't need to get in trouble on my
birthday./ He grabbed his datapad, sat down at the
table, and tried to bury his misery in
astronavigation.

***

Two hours after that, Obi-Wan put the datapad down
with a frustrated sigh. Astronavigation was not the
solution. Usually it was his favourite subject, but it
made no difference today. He was bored, miserable,
and...hungry. He got up and padded into the kitchen to
find some breakfast. Maybe he could appease his
feelings with food.

***

Meditating hadn't helped. Studying hadn't helped.
Breakfast hadn't helped. Maybe if he went and did some
exercise, that might help. If he could do some
exercise and get some of his frustration out of his
system, he might still be able to get back to his
quarters and finish his lessons before Qui-Gon
returned. If he didn't finish them, he *would* be in
trouble on his birthday, and right now he didn't think
he could cope with that.

He went to the small gym that had been reserved for
their use, and ran through his warm-up katas, trying
to concentrate on the movements and nothing else. Once
he had warmed up, he went on to some more complicated
forms. He threw himself into the movements, but his
form was off, and finally he gave up in disgust. He
took a shower and headed back to his quarters, feeling
worse than ever...and getting more than a little
worried about his still unfinished lessons.

On the way back, he passed the gardens. Looking
longingly at the grassy paths, he wondered if he had
time to do a circuit or two - he just couldn't bring
himself to go back inside yet. Then he sighed. /All
right,/ he told himself. /If I want to go for a walk
in here, I have to use the time to try to release my
emotions into the Force. Then I *have* to go and study
before I really get in trouble./

Walking along the paths beneath the trees, he tried in
vain to calm his mind and focus. But his thoughts were
running around in hopeless circles, and he was too
distracted to be able to marshal them properly.
Suddenly he had a very strong desire to burst into
tears.

He struggled against it as hard as he could. He would
*not* cry. He took several deep breaths, and managed
to bring his warring emotions back under control. He
turned decisively. /No more of this,/ he thought. /Go
study and don't think about it anymore./

He was heading back the way he had come when someone
called his name. He turned to see Gyar, the son of the
Barredai governor, coming towards him. The governor's
house was also contained within the huge area that
housed the government buildings of Barredai, and Gyar
lived there with his parents. Since Obi-Wan was
restricted to the government grounds unless he was
with Qui-Gon, Gyar was the only person anywhere near
his own age that he had met on this mission. They had
become friends quickly, and had spent time together
whenever Obi-Wan's study schedule allowed it, although
that wasn't often. Gyar was sixteen, and a little
wild, although he presented a serene enough face to
the world when he had to play 'the dutiful governor's
son', as he had put it. But there was no real harm in
him, and all in all Obi-Wan liked him.

"Hey, Obi!" Gyar greeted him as he hurried up. "What
are you doing out here? Have you got time off today?"

"Not really," Obi-Wan said, making a face. "I'm
supposed to be studying, but I can't concentrate."

"*You* can't concentrate? *You*?" Gyar stopped,
studying his friend. "What's wrong? You don't look too
happy."

Obi-Wan sighed. "It's my birthday."

Gyar gave him a sideways look. "You know Obi, last I
heard, birthdays are meant to be *happy* occasions."

"Not when nobody remembers," Obi-Wan said glumly.

Sudden understanding crossed Gyar's face. "Oh. By
'nobody' I guess you mean Master Jinn." Obi-Wan
nodded. "Well, I'm sure he didn't mean to forget."

"I know. I'm just feeling kind of lonely, I guess. And
bored."

Gyar looked at him for a moment, then he grinned. "You
know, nobody should ever be lonely on their birthday.
Or bored. I think there's a rule against it or
something."

"Well, I think I broke it."

"Yes, but you don't have to *keep* breaking it." Gyar
was looking more mischievous by the second.

Obi-Wan noticed his friend's wicked expression and
heard a set of very loud alarm bells go off in his
head. "What did you have in mind?" he asked
apprehensively.

"Just a small celebration. We can't let you turn
fourteen without doing *something* to mark the
occasion, can we?"

"But I have to study."

"Obi, come on. It's your *birthday*. You don't get
another one for a whole year. You can't study all day
on your birthday." When Obi-Wan didn't argue, Gyar
continued. "I can get my father's speeder, and we can
go get some lunch, take a tour around the city, see
the sights...you know. Just celebrate a little."

"Gyar, you know I'm not allowed to leave the
grounds..."

"I'll have you back before the negotiations are done
for the day. I promise. I'm not allowed to go out
today either, I'm grounded, but it's your *birthday*.
Come on, Obi, I'll feel bad if I don't do something
for you. Please come."

Obi-Wan's mind was racing. He should say no. He knew
he should say no. He was already going to be in
trouble if he didn't finish the work Qui-Gon had set
for him. But if he left the grounds without
permission, he would be in much, much more trouble.
That was deliberate disobedience. And Qui-Gon did not
take kindly to disobedience.

But he was so lonely...and it was so tempting...

/I shouldn't,/ he thought desperately. /I shouldn't. I
*shouldn't*. Master Qui-Gon will kill me. But, oh
Sith, I want to go...surely it won't do any harm.../

Obi-Wan took a deep breath. "All right...I'll come."

"Great!" Gyar was already pulling him along,
practically bouncing with excitement. "You won't
regret it, Obi. Come on, let's go get the speeder!"

Obi-Wan let himself be pulled, but a small corner of
his mind had a very bad feeling about this...

***

True to his word, Gyar took them to get lunch, then
gave Obi-Wan a long and extensive tour of the city and
it's surrounding areas. He introduced Obi-Wan to
several of his friends for the sole purpose of telling
them to wish Obi-Wan a happy birthday, which they did
quite happily. He dragged him into an entertainment
complex and talked him into playing hologames for the
better part of an hour. He drove them to the spaceport
to admire the ships that were currently docked.
Finally, he took them back into the centre of town to
find somewhere for dinner.

As they drove back through town, Obi-Wan checked his
chrono. He gasped. "Oh, Sith. It's really late, Gyar.
We need to get back."

"I know, but I'm starving. Aren't you? We'll just have
dinner, and then we'll go back, OK?"

"I don't have any credits left." Obi-Wan had emptied
his credit chip getting lunch.

"Well, I do," Gyar said cheerfully. As the governor's
son, he had a seemingly bottomless credit chip, which
he was quite happy to use. In fact, he had been using
it all day, on himself and Obi-Wan, and Obi-Wan had
finally given up trying to talk him out of it.

Obi-Wan thought for a moment. He *was* hungry. And the
negotiations probably wouldn't have finished for the
day yet... "All right. But after dinner we have to go
back. And we'd better eat fast."

Gyar found them a restaurant where he was a regular,
and they sat down at a discreet table in a corner.
They ordered fast and ate faster. But when Obi-Wan got
up to go, thinking they were finished, Gyar motioned
him back down. "One drink, OK? It'll only take a
minute."

Obi-Wan nodded reluctantly and Gyar ordered a drink
for each of them. But when the drinks arrived and he
found his to be distinctly alcoholic, he began to feel
worried. "Gyar, I'm underage," he hissed. "*You're*
underage. This is a bad idea."

"It's OK, Obi. They know me here. They know I won't
cause any trouble. Just relax and drink. We won't be
long, I promise."

More and more Obi-Wan had a really bad feeling about
this whole thing.

The bad feeling was justified when Gyar's 'one drink'
became two, and then three. Obi-Wan had drunk half of
his own and then declined any more. He watched
nervously as Gyar finished his third. "Gyar, please,"
he said. "We're late. We really need to get back."

Gyar looked up at him, then gave him a sheepish grin
and nodded. "Sure. Sorry. I'm going to be in trouble
too, I guess I was putting it off. We're going now,
OK?" He got up and led the way from the restaurant,
weaving slightly.

Obi-Wan watched him apprehensively. When they got back
to the speeder, he said, "Are you sure you're all
right to drive?"

"What? Oh, sure! Don't worry, I'm not drunk or
anything. I'll be fine. Anyway, you can't drive.
You're underage for that too. And I can't leave the
speeder here; my father would kill me." Seeing
Obi-Wan's worried expression, he grinned. "I'm *fine*,
really! I've driven like this lots of times."

Obi-Wan was unconvinced, but he climbed into the
speeder anyway. Gyar was determined to drive, and he
was wasting time arguing.

***

Qui-Gon palmed open the door to their quarters, and
was surprised to find it empty. "Obi-Wan?" he called.

No answer.

/Where could he have got to?/ Qui-Gon wondered. He
considered the places his Padawan could be. /Perhaps
he's in the gym, or the gardens./

He reached out to Obi-Wan through the training bond.
He could not sense the boy's thoughts, as Obi-Wan was
still shielding, but what could not be disguised was
the fact that Obi-Wan was not in the gym, or the
gardens. In fact, he was not on the government grounds
at all.

A dark expression settled over Qui-Gon's features.
Obi-Wan knew he was not to leave the grounds.
Disobedience on this level could not be taken lightly.

He turned and went back out the door.

***

True to his word, Gyar's driving seemed unimpaired.
But Obi-Wan was too busy worrying about what would
happen when they got back to even notice. It was late.
*Very* late. It was getting dark, and the negotiations
would surely be over by now. Which meant Qui-Gon would
have gone back to their quarters to find him. Which in
turn meant Qui-Gon would have discovered that he was
not there. He took a deep breath. /Face it, Kenobi,
you are a dead man./

Apparently Gyar was getting a little worried too,
because he increased his speed, and they reached the
government grounds in record time. Gyar palmed open
the gates, and they drove inside...only to find that
they had been expected.

An entourage consisting of the governor, several
security officers and vehicles, and Qui-Gon Jinn stood
waiting for them.

Both boys winced. This was bad.

Gyar stopped the speeder, and the governor walked over
to stand beside it, his face like a thundercloud.
"Gyar," he said grimly, "get out of that speeder."

Gyar jumped out so fast he practically left a vapour
trail.

"And you!" The governor snapped, pointing at Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan's exit was almost as speedy as Gyar's.

A moment later, the governor turned his attention back
to his son. His eyes widened. "Gyar," he said, "are
you *drunk*?"

"Um...only a little bit, Father."

/I will not laugh,/ Obi-Wan told himself firmly. And
really, when he looked at Qui-Gon, it wasn't that
funny.

The governor grabbed Gyar by the scruff of the neck
and marched him around to the passenger side of the
speeder. "Get in!"

"You just told me to get *out* of it."

Obi-Wan was fairly convinced that was not a wise thing
to say, and after one look at his father's face, Gyar
apparently agreed, because he jumped into the speeder
nearly as fast as he had exited it. The governor
walked back round and got into the driver's side. He
started it up and headed up the long drive towards the
government buildings. Gyar, irrepressible as ever,
turned around to yell, "Bye, Obi," and wave, before
they drove out of sight.

Obi-Wan heard one of the security team offer to drive
them back to their quarters, but Qui-Gon declined,
saying they would walk. Obi-Wan knew why. /He needs to
release his anger into the Force so that he doesn't
kill me where I stand when we get back,/ he thought
glumly. /This has got to be the worst birthday of my
life./

As the security team left, Obi-Wan took a deep breath
and walked over to where Qui-Gon stood. He could
hardly bring himself to meet his Master's gaze, but he
forced himself. The look in Qui-Gon's eyes made him
cringe in shame. There was anger there, certainly; but
more than that, there was deep disappointment. Obi-Wan
dropped his eyes to stare at his boots, struggling to
hold back the tears. He was only now realising the
full implications of what he had done. He had been
wrong, he had been so wrong, and now what would
Qui-Gon think of him? /I've shown I'm unworthy of
being *anyone's* Padawan, let alone Qui-Gon Jinn's,/
he thought in anguish. /I thought he didn't want me
before, but now.../

"Come, Padawan," Qui-Gon said, his voice giving away
nothing of what he felt. He turned and led the way
back to the government buildings, and Obi-Wan trailed
despairingly behind him.

Qui-Gon said nothing all the way back to their
quarters. It was a long walk, and Obi-Wan had plenty
of time to reflect on what he had done. He had never
felt so miserable in his life.

On reaching their rooms, Qui-Gon palmed open the door
and led the way inside, and Obi-Wan followed him in.
Still fighting back tears, the boy bowed his head and
waited for the axe to fall.

Several long moments passed, then Qui-Gon turned to
face his miserable apprentice. He had indeed used the
walk back to release his anger into the Force, so that
he could deal with his rebellious Padawan calmly. When
he spoke, his voice was level. "Well. Would you care
to tell me what you thought you were doing, Padawan?"

Qui-Gon's voice may have been level, but Obi-Wan knew
he was seriously displeased. He took a deep breath,
lifted his head and met his Master's gaze squarely. "I
- I don't know, Master," he said, his voice trembling.
"I - I wasn't thinking."

"That is quite obvious." Qui-Gon said flatly. "You
blatantly disobeyed me by leaving these grounds
without permission. You also drank alcohol, did you
not?"

"Yes, Master."

"Breaking the laws of this planet, as you are underage
to do so."

"Y-yes, Master."

"You then let Gyar drive back here intoxicated, and it
is sheer luck that you were not involved in an
accident. Either or both of you - or someone else -
could have been killed. It was a foolish, reckless
thing to do. You took utterly unnecessary chances with
your safety."

Obi-Wan directed his gaze back at his boots, his
cheeks burning with shame.

"And I assume it is safe to say that you did not do
any of the work I had assigned you today."

"Y-yes, Master." Obi-Wan swallowed hard. /Just beg for
forgiveness, ask for punishment and get it over with,/
he thought. /I deserve everything I get./ He lifted
his head again. "Master, I was wrong, and I am so
sorry. I know I deserve to be punished."

"Yes, Padawan, and you will be. I cannot and will not
allow such disobedience. The fact that it is your
birthday is no excuse, I'm afraid."

There was a long moment of silence. Obi-Wan stared at
his Master, thinking he must surely have misheard. Had
Qui-Gon just said...

"You - you *knew* it was my birthday?" he burst out.

A frown of confusion appeared between Qui-Gon's brows.
/What does he mean by that?/ "Of course I knew,
Padawan. I had meant to say something to you this
morning, but I was preoccupied. I had thought we would
do something this evening, to celebrate..." His voice
trailed off. As he had been speaking, Obi-Wan had gone
paler and paler and was now white as a sheet; staring
at his Master with tears brimming in his eyes. The
look of abject horror on his face would have been
almost comical if the situation weren't so serious.
Suddenly, Qui-Gon understood. "You thought I had
forgotten," he said gently.

Obi-Wan's face abruptly went from white to crimson.
His eyes dropped. "Y-yes, Master," he managed to choke
out.

Qui-Gon approached his Padawan and tilted the boy's
head up so that Obi-Wan met his eyes. He was still
angry at Obi-Wan's behaviour, but it pained him to see
the boy in such distress. And it pained him more to
know that Obi-Wan had thought he would forget his
birthday completely. Had he been so cold to Obi-Wan,
that his Padawan thought he would forget something so
important to him? /I've underestimated his
insecurity,/ he thought, angry at himself. /I didn't
realise how deeply unsure he was of his place with me.
I thought he knew he was wanted. Obviously those early
rejections have wounded him much more deeply that I
thought. I will have to be careful of this. I will
have to make sure he *knows* that I care for him./

"Padawan," he said gently. "Your birthday is important
to you. And you are important to me. I would not
forget."

"But, I thought - I mean, you've been so busy - and
then you didn't say anything this morning, and I was
so lonely-" Obi-Wan stopped short. That sounded like
he was making excuses, and he knew he didn't have any.


Qui-Gon sighed. Of course the boy was lonely. This
mission had been a difficult one for him. "I know it
has been difficult for you these last two months,
Padawan. And apart from this episode, you've done
well." He reached out and put a gentle hand on
Obi-Wan's head. "I am sorry for my preoccupation this
morning, Padawan. My error has caused you pain, and I
regret it."

Obi-Wan could hardly believe his ears. Had his Master
really just *apologised* to him?

"Yes, he did," Qui-Gon said with a gleam of humour in
his eyes, catching the thought, and Obi-Wan blushed.
Sith. He'd been so distracted by his misery that his
shields had slipped.

"Your shields are generally good, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon
said, "but you do sometimes broadcast when you get
upset. We can work on that. However, even without
hearing your thoughts I would have known what you were
thinking then. It was written on your face." He
ruffled Obi-Wan's spiky hair affectionately, and the
boy gave him a tremulous smile.

Qui-Gon sighed inwardly. He did not want to have to
punish Obi-Wan when the boy's emotions were already in
turmoil. A part of him wished he could just let his
Padawan's behaviour pass. But he knew that he could
not. He had been too lenient with Xanatos, and look
where that had ended up. He could not make that
mistake again.

He put his hands on Obi-Wan's shoulders. "But now,
Padawan, I am afraid we still have the issue of your
punishment to deal with. I can understand that you
were unhappy, but I cannot let disobedience pass."

"I know, Master," Obi-Wan said. "I was wrong."

"You know what you can expect for disobedience on this
level, do you not, Padawan?"

"Yes, Master," Obi-Wan said resignedly. "You're going
to spank me."

"You've left me little choice, Padawan," Qui-Gon said
sternly. "In addition to the spanking, I will be
assigning you extra lessons and meditations. And for
the remainder of our time here, you will not leave our
quarters unless you leave with me. Is that
understood?"

"Yes, Master."

"Good. Now, shall we get this over with?"

Obi-Wan nodded miserably. He was not looking forward
to it. Qui-Gon had spanked him once before, about six
months ago. That spanking had been for a particularly
reckless piece of disobedience that had nearly got him
killed. As expected, his Master had been less than
pleased. Obi-Wan rated that spanking as one of the
most embarrassing experiences of his life, and he did
not relish the thought of repeating it. If he had a
choice, that is, which of course he didn't.

Qui-Gon pulled out one of the chairs from the table
and sat down, and Obi-Wan came to his side without
having to be told. "All right, Obi-Wan, I'm sure you
remember what to do," he said.

Blushing furiously, Obi-Wan unfastened his pants and
pushed them down, then leaned over Qui-Gon's lap and
was settled in place. Gritting his teeth, the boy
braced himself and waited.

Qui-Gon began the punishment without preamble, and
with enough force to make it clear how displeased he
was with his Padawan's behaviour. As the spanking
continued, Obi-Wan counted the blows, biting his lip
to keep from yelping and struggling not to cry. But
Qui-Gon was thorough, and Obi-Wan was in tears long
before the end.

When it was finally over, Qui-Gon helped the boy to
his feet and Obi-Wan pulled his pants back up, trying
to swallow his sobs. Too humiliated to meet his
Master's eyes, he turned and fled to the relative
safety of his room where he could cry out his hurt and
shame in peace.

Qui-Gon let him go. His Padawan was too embarrassed to
be able to listen to him now. A little later he would
go and talk with the boy, when Obi-Wan had had a
chance to calm down and release some of his raging
emotions into the Force.

***

Obi-Wan was lying on his bed, recovering from his
crying fit, when Qui-Gon knocked on the door to his
room. "Padawan? May I come in?"

Obi-Wan sat up, wiping his eyes. "Yes, Master." As
Qui-Gon entered, he fixed his gaze on the floor, still
unable to meet his Master's eyes.

Qui-Gon came over and sat down beside him on the edge
of the bed. "Are you feeling better?"

"A little." Obi-Wan looked up at Qui-Gon briefly, then
dropped his eyes again. "I'm very sorry for my
behaviour today, Master."

Qui-Gon took Obi-Wan's chin in his hand and lifted his
head until the boy was looking at him. "I know you
are, Padawan. And I am sorry that I had to punish you.
But you have learned a lesson from all this, have you
not?"

"Several lessons, I think, Master." Almost a smile
there. Obi-Wan was nothing if not resilient.

Qui-Gon smiled slightly. "I'm glad to hear that."
Deciding that now was the time to offer comfort, he
reached out to gather his Padawan into his arms and
was surprised when Obi-Wan practically fell into them,
clinging to him tightly. Qui-Gon stroked the boy's
hair gently, and heard renewed sniffles from Obi-Wan
as his emotions surged again. But this time, his
Master's soothing presence helped him to bring them
back under control with more ease, and after a few
more sobs, he was quiet again; releasing his feelings
into the Force.

When he was sure Obi-Wan was calm again, Qui-Gon
released him, moving back slightly. "Now, Padawan, I
think you would benefit from some meditation on your
actions today, and the consequences of them. And on
how you plan to avoid earning those consequences in
the future." He brushed a gentle hand over the boy's
hair, imbuing the gesture with as much affection as he
could.

"Yes, Master," Obi-Wan said obediently, wiping his
eyes on his sleeve. The hug his Master had given him
had let him know that he truly was forgiven, and he
was feeling much better.

"And then I think you should go to bed. You've had a
long day."

"Yes, Master."

Qui-Gon smiled at the boy. "And tomorrow, we will do
something to celebrate your birthday. A day late is
better than not at all."

Obi-Wan looked up at him in surprise, then smiled.
Sore backside or no, he suddenly felt happier than he
had in weeks. "Yes, Master. I'd like that."

Qui-Gon gave his braid a gentle tug. "Happy birthday,
Padawan."

"Thank you, Master."


End




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