The man standing before him frowned, and in the time it took Qui-Gon to blink he seemed to shrink before his eyes. Suddenly, instead of seeing the man he had come to know as his Padawan, it was a mere boy before him. He was confused for a moment, before the boy looked up at him with soul-deep eyes.

"Why doesn't he want me?"

Qui-Gon gasped. It wasn't possible. "Obi-Wan? How did you get here?"

The little boy sniffed. "I don't know." He searched the Jedi Master's face, seemingly unphased by his odd surroundings.

"Do you know why he doesn't want me? I did my best, but Master Qui-Gon still didn't want me." He dropped to sit crosslegged on the hard ground. The boy stared at his hands. "They're sending me to the Agri-Corps tomorrow. I told my friends I didn't care." He looked up at Qui-Gon with the tears in his eyes that he had kept hidden when he was younger. "It's the first time I ever lied to them."

Qui-Gon moved to kneel next to the boy, placing a hand on his shoulder. "Everything will be okay," he said. He was still confused, listening to the way Obi-Wan spoke, he obviously didn't recognize him. The Jedi Master was at a loss to explain anything of what had been happening to him.

When Obi-Wan didn't reply, Qui-Gon squeezed his shoulder. "You do believe me, don't you?"

Obi-Wan shrugged. "I don't want to be a farmer. I want to matter."

"You do matter." Qui-Gon replied quickly, he tone leaving little room for debate. "You're very important, Obi-Wan." He brushed several locks of hair away from Obi-Wan's forehead. "You will be a great Jedi."

"I will never be a Jedi." The boy's statement was simple, his tone defeated. "I have no Master, no one to want me."

Qui-Gon shook his head. "You are mistaken, little one. You have someone who loves you very much."

Bright eyes met Qui-Gon's gaze, almost piercing his very soul. A gaze too old for such young eyes. "He never told me."

"He was a fool. Give him another chance?" Qui-Gon was no less confused, but suddenly felt hopeful. The emotion only served to confuse him more in the long run.

The boy shook his head. "It hurts." He lay down on the ground, and curled up onto his side. "It hurts so much, Master."

Qui-Gon closed his eyes for a moment, trying to regain his bearings. He was fast becoming hopelessly lost.

When he opened his eyes, the boy was gone. As was the campfire. Instead, he was alone and in every direction was nothing but darkness. He shivered.

*

A low voice laughed. In front of him, Qui-Gon Jinn lay suspended to a low table, shivering. His hair was longer, falling almost to the floor, and a tube ran into his arm with nutrients. Electrodes ran from his temples into several machines.

"Yes, I'd say he's responding quite nicely indeed." The figure stood and adjusted his robes. "However, I have more pressing business to attend to. I'll leave him in your care."

The man stole away quickly, turning just before exiting out a small side door. "I do hope he will remain in one piece, Vader. After all, we've had our toy this long. It would be a shame to lose him now."

The ominous figure bowed. "Yes, my Master."

The End

Return to Beginning