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by Padawan Ben

When I was small, I had many fears.

Fear that I wouldn't be big enough.
Fear that I wouldn't be smart enough.
Fear that I wouldn't be good enough to be a Jedi.

Fear that no master would want me, would be willing to have me around long enough to train me.

It nearly happened, too. Qui-Gon finally gave in and accepted me -- grudgingly -- after refusing me five times. FIVE TIMES. That's 5 separate "no way, kid" replies. And he not only told me this, he told Yoda, he told the council, he told everyone on Bandomeer and at the Temple as well.

I'd say that made it pretty official. I think I'm safe in assuming that I'm not just being hypersensitive and over-reacting, both of which I have frequently been accused of being.

He flat did not want me around. Said I was flawed. That I was angry.

No, I was scared.

I was desperate.

So why did he take me anyway? I think it was guilt. Maybe it was fatigue. Or maybe it was sheer embarrassment; he just couldn't turn me down again after I finally did something right enough to really help him.

I don't know.

I've never forgotten, though, that he didn't want me to be his Padawan. How could I? I'd always dreamed of being chosen by a master. "You. Out of all of the initiates, I chose YOU!" It's every students dream, and one that I dwelled on with unhealthy frequency. A sigh and grudging agreement was not the way I'd envisioned it happening.

No warm fuzzies there.

So I tried to be the best Padawan I could be. Better than I could be, because I knew I wasn't all that great. Certainly not good enough to be the legendary Master Qui-Gon Jinn's padawan.

I tried my best to be perfect. To have all the answers. To anticipate anything he might need or want. To stay out of the way when it wasn't the right time for me to be around. I tried my best to be the best.

It wasn't good enough.

I learned everything he set before me. I Studied and practiced. I finally learned not to expect much praise, but to understand that when one lesson was replaced with another, that meant he was satisfied with my performance. It was small comfort, but at least I could measure my progress by that.

Oh, sometimes he'd smile at me. Sometimes he'd tell me "well done, Padawan" or "thank you, Padawan" for some small courtesy I'd offered, some need I had correctly anticipated. It was wonderful. I'd gotten something right. I'd pleased him. Even better were the moments when he'd put his hand on my shoulder, just for a second, and I could feel his approval.

I lived for those moments. Hoarded them, cherished them, took them out again when alone in the dark to admire them anew.

But there weren't that many. Usually I was screwing up somewhere, over some small detail that nobody't thought to share with me yet. I hate that,learning by backhand slap -- those situations where they let you screw it up, then tell you why it was wrong, as though you should have known it all the time. It happened more than I'd like, which I guess is why I felt so dumb most of the time.

It would never happen the same way more than once, though. I'd always find new ways of screwing up each and every time. I finally figured if I kept screwing up long enough, I'd make all the mistakes a Jedi could and then I might have a shot at getting it right.

I'm still working on that part.

My latest error was a biggie. I don't think anyone knows about it, though, so it's not as bad as it might have been.

It's called complacency. I'd been with my Master for almost 13 years. Within days of half my life. I'd learned his ways and how to anticipate his needs and his moods. I'd learned to work my way through his silences. I'd learned to understand what he was looking for with teaching questions. I'd learned to research on my own so that when he brought up some strange subject, I sounded almost half intelligent when he challenged me unexpectedly with questions on subjects never before discussed. He was accustomed to having me around. He was accepting of my presence, my studies, my efforts toward being a Knight. He even said I'd be a good Jedi some day.

I mistook acceptance of my presence for affection. Misunderstood basic kindness and tolerance for fondness.

Stupid of me. Just because I love him doesn't mean he has to feel anything for me.

I thought he did, though. I though he showed some pride in my efforts, that he was satisfied with what I was accomplishing under his tutelage.

I guess I was wrong.

He met Prophecy Boy and reminded me of all the things I'd stupidly forgotten in my emotional euphoria of hopefulness.

"You still have much to learn, my young apprentice."

He said that just outside the council chambers as we watched the sun set behind Coruscant's skyline. I accepted that. I knew I had much to learn. So very much. I needed more time.

Then maybe I could make him proud of me. Just a little. But I only had another year or two at most. I would have to work very hard to be ready in time.

And then, mere minutes later, when the council rejected Anakin (as we all knew they would),he rejected me. When told to chose between us, he didn't hesitate a heartbeat.

"I will take Anakin Skywalker as my Padawan apprentice." Master Yoda actually had to remind him that he already had an apprentice, when I stood, trembling, mere meters away. How quickly I was forgotten.

Stupid me, to forget how tenuous my position was. A mere 13 years and I was lulled into believing in the security of being his Padawan, believing the promise of being a Knight in just a few more years.

So much for that.

"He is headstrong, and has much to learn of the living Force, but he is capable. There is little more he will learn from me."

Not from you. No, Master, it doesn't look like I will learn anything else from you, if you're teaching someone else. I won't have the chance.

Yes, failed again, didn't I. Don't forget any of it, now. I suck as a candidate for Knighthood, but I'm good enough to face the trials and get out of the way. Yoda doesn't think I'm ready, but you're okay with this, it seems. I'll take the trials and come what may, I'll be out of your way. You can keep your new kid.

He's known me for 13 years. He's known that kid for 48 hours. That's all it took for him to choose. I always knew I'd lose as soon as something better came along. And who can argue with The Chosen One. Damn, if you're going to be outclassed, don't mess around with someone merely staggeringly superior to you. No, Kenobi, go pitch yourself against the biggest oracle ever listed in the prophecies of the Jedi.

Dumb Kenobi versus The One Who Will Bring Balance To The Force.

Yeah, I'd choose him too.

I am worried by all that the council said. Dangerous was not a word I'd apply to the obnoxiously cute and precocious Skywalker, but that's what the Council saw. Danger.

I was worried for Qui-Gon upon hearing that. He'd obviously thrown his heart into Anakin's wellbeing and future. He was just as blind now as he'd ever been with Xanatos, and I knew it. How could I not?

I tried to talk to him about it. I tried for the sake of his safety to get him to at least consider what the council had said. He wasn't pleased by my observations. He said I was disrespectful. He told me that it was none of my business. Then he ordered me on board the Nubian cruiser more harshly than he'd spoken to me in several years. What was there for me to do but go? My imput, my company were no longer needed.

My services would necessary on Naboo, but once that situation was resolved, I'd surely be relieved of any further service to my Master. Blinking back tears unbecoming a Jedi, I turned to climb up into the belly of the Nubian ship, pausing at the top of the gangway just long enough to see my Mas-- no, my former Master kneeling before his Golden Child, smiling and lecturing earnestly about something, hands on small shoulders, eyes warm and friendly.

I'd have all but killed for one of those smiles.

I know now he was saving them for Anakin. Each to his own fate, right? I was merely marking time for him.

I understand, my Master. I"m sorry I was a burden to you.

The ship is cold and quiet. There is no sharing a cabin with him this time -- poor shivering little Anakin has moved in already. It's okay, though. He doesn't want to talk to me anyway.

I'll just meditate out here in the common area. No worries.

I wonder if I can get to our quarters before they do when we get back to Coruscant and grab my stuff? It won't take long. I'll run. Anakin's legs are too short and he talks too much to get there with any speed.

I glance over toward the cabin, wishing...but the door remains shut. I get to hang out here in the common area with the rest of the general masses. And the Gungan.

Who's the pathetic life form now, Kenobi?

I can't stand this anymore. This silence. This sense of being dismissed from his presence and his life and his mind, all so suddenly and completely. I can't go into battle like this. I'm too distracted. My heart hurts too badly, Master. Please talk to me? Just once more?

"Master, I am ashamed of my behavior. It's not my place to be difficult about the boy," I begin.

He finally deigns to look at me. Another glance, not so cool as before, but far from the affectionate look I'd grown accustomed to over the years.

Yeah, yeah. Great Jedi Knight. You forsee this. Not 'who is' but who 'will be.' Who is headstrong and has much to learn of the living force. I gotcha. You don't have to lay it on so thick. At least you confessed that you don't really believe that I'm ready.

Nice to know I'm not alone in that assessment.

At least he touched me.

He shepherds his charge through the fighting, sees him safely settled before turning to our battle. And battle it is. The Sith is there. I know what is coming next, and I am far from disappointed.

My Master is disappointed. First thing out of the box, Kenobi gets kicked -- KICKED -- off a catwalk and out of the fight. Gods, no wonder he's disappointed in me. I get into my first real test, and I fail, first attempt. The council is right to judge who is ready for the trials. Sure as hell isn't Kenobi.

I manage to get back up, get back into the fight, but I'm too slow. Too late.

He's not waiting on his inept Padawan. Why should he? He'll handle it by himself rather than let me screw it up again.

And because you couldn't trust me at your side, because you didn't feel I could offer anything to the fight, you went on to fight him by tourself.

And because you didn't have a worthy Padawan at your side, you died.

I managed to pull a save out of this mess at the last moment, but it wasn't through skill. I don't have enough skill. I won because of Sith overconfidence. He stopped fighting, so my meager skills were enough when meeting no real resistance.

He died. I lived.

And I ran to you.

It was the worst moment I have ever experienced.

Watching you struggle to breath. Feeling you struggle to live. I wanted you to live. I wanted it with every fiber of my being. I would have done anything to keep you alive. I wished it was me dying instead of you. It should have been me.

You spoke to me. You knew I was there.

And you asked me to train your new Padawan for you.

My heart just shattered, Master. I can't possibly refuse you, and you know it. But if I'm not good enough for you, how can you trust me to train your Chosen One?

Oh, because no one else will. I understand now. It's not faith in me, it's lack of choices.

I will do it, Master, because I love you.

At least he touched me.

And the miracle happened; you lived. I am more grateful for that fact than you'll ever know. Even if you do not wish to be my master anymore, I would not have you dead. Just knowing that you're in the universe someplace brings me comfort. I selfishly tried my best to assure that you could stay, that you had a chance to live because I need you here.

And while I stood by like an idiot, watching you breathe, your Chosen One flew an unfamiliar fighter to blow up the droid control ship, end the seige by the Trade Federation and single-handedly save both the Naboo and the Gungans. And indirectly, us.

While I sat on my ass and cried because my Master was hurt.

You chose the right one, Master. Stay with the boy. His potential is staggering, and I know you will not be disappointed by him. He will not fail you as I have.

And now I'm in limbo. A knight, but not a worthy one. They didn't know how stupid that fight with the Sith really was, how totally useless I was. I managed to surprise a Sith who was very tired, had a broken lightsaber and was gloating in overconfident victory. Had he stayed on his toes, I'd be toast, too. And for that, I'm now a knight when nobody found me worthy of kitchen duty the night before. Forgive me for doubting this, but I can recognize an honorable mention award when it's dumped in my lap.

I'm still assigned to my Mas-- my former master in some capacity I do not understand. I'm kinda sorta the teacher for Anakin, though everyone knows his master is really Master Qui-Gon. And where does that leave me?

It leaves me lonely, alone, incompletely trained and without proper quarters, since these really belong to Anakin. I'm packed, and I'm ready to go, just as soon as the Master catches up on demands just a little bit. As soon as he no longer needs my help as he heals. and no longer needs me as a constant babysitter and preschool teacher.

He says he loves me. Says he wants me here.

Why is he saying this? Does he feel guilty, since I'm the one that kept him going until the healers reached him? Maybe a little guilty that he didn't really want to finish training me?

That's as likely an explanation as any. And Gods forgive me, I'm so needy I'll take whatever crumbs he's willing to toss me. I do love him. Whatever happens, I will always love him. My "father," the legendary Qui-Gon Jinn. Who could ask for better? I had the best. I was the one who wasn't good enough to stay.

My fault, as always. And my loss.

I wish ....


Never mind.

It doesn't matter.

It won't change.

It never will.

When I was small, I had many fears. Fear that I wouldn't be big enough. Fear that I wouldn't be smart enough. Fear that I wouldn't be good enough to be a Jedi.

Fear that no Master would want me, would be willing to have me around long enough to train me.

I was right.

Goodnight, my Master.


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