This was written for me several years ago by a friend of mine. I hope you like it as much as I do. If you enjoy the story, please be kind enough to email Kat and tell her so. I've put her email addy at the bottom of the page. Thank you.
Despite the similarities in our pen names, Kat and I are not related, lol. Personally I think George Lucas needs to remake the films and include Danny and Jack as characters. Kat could write the screenplay. :-)
Thanks for this, Kat, and for allowing me to post it here onsite.
The Adventures of Padawan Danny
Written by Kat
Obi-Wan cast an unhappy glance at his Master as Qui-Gon entered the cockpit. The Jedi had exchanged his customary robe and tunics for a set of plain, nondescript clothing in preparation for the mission he was to go on. They were on a planet that did not welcome Republic symbolism of any kind, let alone Jedi knights, the symbol of justice in the Republic, and Qui-Gon had disguised himself accordingly. Looking at his Master, Obi-Wan had to admit that Qui-Gon did not look like his usual Jedi self - he could have been anyone, and that certainly boded well for the mission. At the thought of the mission, however, Obi-Wan's frown grew even deeper. He opened his mouth to speak, but Qui-Gon simply raised a hand, cutting him off before he could start.
"Save it, Padawan," he said wearily. "You have your orders. You and Padawan MacIntyre will stay with the ship while Knight Kinross and I retrieve Knight Gavi. You *will not* leave the ship under any circumstances. Is that understood?"
Obi-Wan scowled, understanding but not liking it one bit. "But, Master -"
"I said, is that understood, Padawan?"
Qui-Gon's voice was stern, and Obi-Wan knew better than to argue any further. "Yes, Master," he said unhappily.
"Good." Qui-Gon nodded, satisfied. "I just came to tell you that we're ready to go." He turned to leave the cockpit, and Obi-Wan followed him, trotting along behind his Master as Qui-Gon made his way down to the ship's main hatch, where Qui-Gon and Knight Kinross would be leaving for their mission.
/*Their* mission,/ Obi-Wan thought miserably. /Not *our* mission, not this time./ Instead, Obi-Wan would be left behind on the ship, out of danger, unable to take part in the mission, and stuck babysitting another Padawan until Qui-Gon and the other Knight returned.
Obi-Wan sighed. He really didn't want to be difficult, but he hated the thought of Qui-Gon going into danger without him. He knew Qui-Gon wasn't going alone, that his Master would in fact have another fully-trained Jedi knight with him, but it didn't make him feel any better. He wanted to be there with Qui-Gon himself. He cast a longing look at the lowered ramp that Qui-Gon would shortly disappear down, and sighed again. Qui-Gon shot him a warning glance, and he quickly schooled his features to calm, not wanting to be reprimanded.
"You have your orders, Padawan," Qui-Gon said softly. His tone was faintly disapproving and Obi-Wan nodded, chastened. He knew his behaviour was inappropriate, but he couldn't help himself; the thought of Qui-Gon going into danger without him there worried him immensely.
However, the extraction of Knight Gavi from his captors had been deemed likely to be too dangerous for two young Padawans, so it was decided that the two Masters would carry out the rescue while their Padawans stayed and watched over the ship. From what Obi-Wan could tell, the other Padawan was just as unhappy about the situation as he was.
As if in answer to his thoughts, Knight Jack Kinross entered the room from the other side, dressed similarly to Qui-Gon and followed by his Padawan, Danny MacIntyre. Danny was a couple of years younger than Obi-Wan, but Obi-Wan remembered seeing him around the Temple when he was an initiate. As he recalled, Danny had been something of a troublemaker, and it seemed he hadn't lost that streak. He was pouting ferociously as he followed his Master into the cockpit, and the expression on Jack's face indicated that the battle had been going on for quite some time. And from the stubborn look Danny was sporting, Obi-Wan didn't think it was over yet.
Sure enough, once inside, the younger Padawan flicked his red braid over his shoulder and scowled at both Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon as if they were somehow to blame for the whole situation. "Master, *please*?" he said, pleadingly, looking back over at Jack. "*Please*, let me come with you. You *can't* go without me, what if something happens? What if you get hurt? What if you can't find Gavi? What if -"
Danny's Master put a stop to the torrent of possibilities with a raised hand and a thoroughly exasperated expression, and Danny shut his mouth, albeit reluctantly. "That's enough, Daniel," Jack said. "You are *not* coming. You and Obi-Wan will stay with the ship and you *will not* leave it for any reason. Is that clear?"
Jack held up a hand again, his eyes narrowing dangerously. "Not another word out of you, Daniel. I'm serious. You *will* obey my orders. Is that understood?"
Danny hesitated for a long moment, and Jack's expression darkened even further. "Daniel..."
There was a wealth of warning in that one word, and Danny seemed to see the danger he was in. He nodded reluctantly, scowling, and Obi-Wan breathed a silent sigh of relief. The younger Padawan was pushing his Master far past the point that Obi-Wan would dare to push Qui-Gon. But then, Jack was much younger than Qui-Gon - he had been an age-mate of Xanatos, as a matter of fact - and Danny was his first Padawan, and relatively new to it besides. Qui-Gon had not only had two Padawans before Obi-Wan, but he had also had to deal with the loss of Xanatos. As such, he was comparatively stricter with Obi-Wan than most other Masters were with their Padawans, and approved wholeheartedly of firm discipline.
Sure enough, when Obi-Wan glanced over at his Master, he caught the barest hint of a frown on his face, directed towards Jack. /Oh dear,/ Obi-Wan thought unhappily. He had the distinct feeling that Jack was later going to get a lecture on being stricter with his new Padawan - and in keeping with that, Qui-Gon would probably crack down on him as well. /Goodbye, free time,/ he thought with a sigh.
Qui-Gon said nothing, however, merely raised an eyebrow at Jack. "All right, Padawans, you have your orders. Jack, are you ready?"
Jack nodded, then turned to Danny. "Behave yourself, Danny, and try not to worry. Qui-Gon and I will be back as soon as we have Gavi. All right?"
Danny nodded reluctantly, still looking mutinous but no longer protesting. Jack nodded in satisfaction and turned towards the ramp, Danny following him. "I'll meet you outside, Qui-Gon," he said, and the older Jedi nodded in agreement. Jack disappeared down the ramp and Danny followed, obviously wanting a private goodbye.
Qui-Gon watched them go, then turned back to Obi-Wan. "I don't know how long this will take, Padawan," he said. "A lot will depend on how tight the security is. Keep your comlink on, and I'll keep you informed so you'll know when to expect us."
"Yes, Master," Obi-Wan said obediently.
Qui-Gon nodded in approval, then put a hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder, regarding the boy with a look at once stern and affectionate. "As the more senior Padawan, you are in charge here, Obi-Wan," he said quietly. "Remember your responsibilities."
Obi-Wan nodded, knowing full well what Qui-Gon meant by that. Obi-Wan was to obey his own orders, but also to keep the younger Padawan out of trouble - and any misbehaviour on either of their parts would have consequences for him. "I will, Master," he said earnestly. "Don't worry about me. Just be careful."
"I shall," Qui-Gon said, smiling at him. "May the Force be with you, Padawan."
"May the Force be with you, Master," Obi-Wan responded, and Qui-Gon gave his shoulder a last squeeze before turning and vanishing down the ramp.
Obi-Wan waited, and after a moment Danny came back in, scowling once again. The younger Padawan looked thoroughly put out, and Obi-Wan sighed inwardly as he pushed the button to close the ramp. Once everything was secured, he turned to the other apprentice and forced a smile. "Well, I suppose we should try to put the time to good use - did you want to study together? Or, there's a bit of space in the hold, we might be able to spar a bit if we're careful."
To Obi-Wan's dismay, Danny's scowl deepened even further. "I can't," he said sullenly. "I have to go and meditate."
Obi-Wan nodded, accepting this, trying to be understanding. "All right. Well, I guess I'll go up to the cockpit and keep an eye on the sensors - did you want to come up when you've finished meditating?" He hoped Danny would say yes - that way he could keep an eye on him.
Danny shrugged. "Maybe. My Master said I had to meditate on patience and acceptance until I was calm about the situation, so I may *never* get finished."
Obi-Wan grinned sympathetically. "My Master makes me do that too."
"Don't you just *hate* that they went off without us?"
"I know, it's awful," Obi-Wan agreed. "I really worry about Master Qui-Gon when he has to go on missions by himself. But there's not much we can do about it."
"But what if something happens to them?"
"I'm sure nothing will happen," Obi-Wan said comfortingly. "They're both fully trained Jedi."
Danny sighed heavily, not looking convinced in the least.
"Master Jack seems nice - how long have you been with him?" Obi-Wan asked quickly, hoping to calm the younger Padawan down by distracting him.
"Just over a year now," Danny said. "But this is the first time he's left me behind on a mission. How long have you been with Master Qui-Gon?"
"Nearly three years," Obi-Wan replied.
"He seems kind of - well, *strict*," Danny said hesitantly. Obi-Wan shrugged.
"He is, in some ways," he said. "But he's had two Padawans before me, so I suppose he's toughened up. I'm learning a lot from him, though."
Danny made a face. "Master Jack is quite strict enough for me," he said glumly. "*Too* strict, sometimes. Stupid meditation." He heaved a long-suffering sigh. "I'd better go and do it, or I'll be in trouble when he comes back."
"All right," Obi-Wan said. "I'll be in the cockpit, probably. Come and find me when you've finished?"
Danny nodded, and made his way with dragging steps towards his and Jack's quarters, while Obi-Wan headed for the cockpit. Once there, he checked the instruments, and once assured that all was well - at least, as well as it could be when his Master left him behind on a mission, he amended sourly - he settled down in the pilot's chair with his datapad. If he was going to be stuck here, he might as well catch up on some of his lessons, and Qui-Gon would be pleased that he had put the time to good use.
* * * * *
Obi-Wan had managed to get through a fair amount of his latest astronavigation lesson before Danny came back into the cockpit - he had been interrupted only once, around midday, when Qui-Gon called him to say that he and Jack had reached the edge of the town and were about to head towards the prison compound. The compound was several hours away by speeder, so they had had to rent a vehicle, but apparently that had been easy enough. Qui-Gon had told him that he would check in again when they had reached the compound, and remonstrated that Obi-Wan should watch out for Danny and stay in the ship, and Obi-Wan had replied with the expected, "Yes, Master." He had been pleased to hear that they had not had any trouble, although he couldn't help but feel left out. It should be him there with his Master, Sith take it!
With an effort, he had forced his mind back onto his lessons, and had succeeded reasonably well. He had managed to plough through several more exercises before the cockpit door opened and Danny reappeared, still looking distinctly sulky. The younger Padawan promptly began mooching aimlessly about the room - asking questions, playing endlessly with the controls, muttering under his breath about overly strict Masters and generally driving Obi-Wan to distraction. Obi-Wan was strongly tempted to remind him of his Master's orders; to "meditate on patience and acceptance until he was calm about the situation" - because judging by the expression on Danny's face, Obi-Wan had the feeling he hadn't quite got there. As a matter of fact, he had the feeling that patience and acceptance were about as far removed from Danny's current demeanor as Hoth was from being a tropical paradise.
However, after due consideration, he decided that reminding Danny would be more trouble than it was worth. He distinctly remembered that Danny's temper, like his own, had been something of an issue when he was an initiate - and the last thing he needed was to end up in a fight with the other Padawan. He could just imagine Qui-Gon's reaction if *that* happened, and the very thought made him wince. The problem was that Danny's fidgeting was beginning to annoy him to the point where his own temper was seriously starting to fray at the edges, and he was very tempted to retreat to the safety of his cabin before a fight *did* start. But the problem with that idea was that he was more than a little dubious about leaving the other Padawan alone - after all, Qui-Gon had put him in charge, and Force only knew what Danny would do if he was left unattended in this state.
So he kept his temper, and merely watched in faint disbelief as Danny continued his assault on the cockpit controls. The boy seemed to be nothing so much as a whirling dervish of misplaced energy; worse even than Obi-Wan at his most hyperactive, the older Padawan thought. He wondered briefly if Danny had actually done any meditation at all while he was gone. As far as he knew, the purpose of meditation was to make one calmer - however, it certainly hadn't seemed to work on Danny!
Obi-Wan tried several times to get Danny to come and spar with him, hoping to wear the younger Padawan out that way, but Danny was determined to stay in the cockpit in case their Masters called, and even Obi-Wan's assurances that they could take their comlinks with them could not induce him to leave. He continued to manhandle the controls, and Obi-Wan had to stop him from actually dismantling some of the panels that he seemed particularly taken with and swore that he could fix and perhaps even improve. Obi-Wan was having none of it. Their ship might not have been in perfect condition, but he was not at all convinced by Danny's assurances that he was a *very* good mechanic, and the last thing they needed was for the ship to be in pieces when their Masters got back.
It took some doing, but he finally managed to persuade the younger Padawan not to tear the ship apart - although persuade was a generous term; he eventually had to resort to a direct order as the senior Padawan there and threaten to report Danny to his Master if he so much as loosened a screw on the panel in question. Danny reluctantly subsided, although he glared daggers at Obi-Wan for several minutes until he got distracted by another control that looked as if it needed molesting. However, before too long Danny had played with every control there was and, since Obi-Wan still refused to let him operate on any of them, was finally reduced to staring moodily at his comlink, picking it up every few minutes and shaking it, muttering under his breath about "why don't they *call*?"
After half an hour of this, Obi-Wan could finally stand it no longer - not if he wanted to keep some semblance of his Jedi serenity, at any rate. He extracted a solemn promise from Danny not to dismantle any of the controls and retreated to his cabin to do some meditation of his own, praying to the Force that the younger Padawan would not wreak too much havoc while he was unattended. It was with great relief that he entered the blessed silence of his cabin, and knelt on the floor to meditate. Looking after Danny for even a short time was exhausting; he had no idea how Master Jack managed it on a day to day basis. Obi-Wan shuddered at the very thought. /Please let me never, *never* have a Padawan that difficult,/ he asked the Force fervently, and began his meditation.
* * * * *
He was finally roused from his trance by an insistent tapping on the door. He took several long moments to come back to himself, during which time the tapping had ramped up to a fully fledged knock. A plaintive voice, somewhat muffled, drifted through the door. "Obi-Wan? Are you awake?"
Obi-Wan sighed. "I'm coming, Danny," he said, then rose to his feet and went to palm the door open. Danny stood in the corridor, biting his lip and playing nervously with his braid, Obi-Wan's still silent comlink clutched in one hand and his own in the other. He held out Obi-Wan's, and the older Padawan accepted it with a little grimace, angry with himself for forgetting to bring it with him when he came to meditate. Another look at Danny's worried face made him push his irritation aside, however.
"Obi-Wan, they still haven't called," Danny said, his eyes searching Obi-Wan's face for reassurance. "I'm really worried...what if something's happened to them?"
Obi-Wan checked his chrono, and was a little alarmed himself at how late it was. Qui-Gon had said he would call again when they reached the prison compound, and the journey there was only a few hours by speeder. It was now evening, heading for nightfall, and yet still Qui-Gon had not called. Surely they should have reached the compound by now?
However, one look at Danny's worried face made him quickly try to hide his own fears. "I'm sure they're fine, Danny," he said reassuringly. "Perhaps they haven't got there yet - the journey may have taken longer than they expected, or they might have had to stop along the way for some reason."
Danny looked dubious. "But they've been gone so long, and they haven't called. What if something's happened to them? What if they need our help?"
"I'm sure they're fine," Obi-Wan said firmly. "They're only late calling by an hour or two." /Or three,/ he added mentally. "We can't jump to conclusions."
"But what if they *do* need our help?" Danny asked plaintively. "What if they've been captured or something? Maybe we should go after them, and see if we can find them."
"No way," Obi-Wan said, shaking his head. "We've been ordered to stay here - not just asked, *ordered*. Besides, we don't even know that there's anything wrong. I'm sure they just got delayed, and they'll call soon and tell us everything is fine."
Obi-Wan was trying to convince himself almost as much as Danny, but he forced his voice to sound confident and reassuring. Danny was already worried, and the last thing Obi-Wan needed was for him to do something reckless in a misguided attempt to help their Masters. "We just have to be patient," he told Danny firmly. "You know Master Jack would say the same."
Danny hesitated for a long moment, then sighed. "All right, I'll try," he said morosely.
"There is no try," Obi-Wan said with a faint grin, quoting Master Yoda, and Danny grimaced. "I think I'll go and do some katas for a while," Obi-Wan continued, deciding that he needed to get his mind off his own concern. "Would you like to come with me?"
Danny shook his head. "I don't think I'll be able to concentrate," he said glumly. "I guess I'll go back to the cockpit. You'll come and tell me if they call, won't you?"
"Of course," Obi-Wan said. "You do the same if Master Jack contacts you, all right?" At Danny's nod, he continued. "And don't dismantle anything in the cockpit, please," he said, hoping he sounded firm enough that Danny would do as he was told. "Our Masters will kill us if the ship's in pieces when they come back."
Another nod, then Danny turned and headed back down the corridor with dragging steps. /He really is worried,/ Obi-Wan thought sympathetically. /I hope they call soon - I'm worried, too. They should surely have been there by now!/ He sighed, and reminded himself that he was talking about two fully-trained Jedi knights here. /They can handle it,/ he told himself sternly. /They're fine, just delayed, and Master Qui-Gon will call soon. Right now I'm going to go and practice and keep myself focused, otherwise I'll end up like Danny, sitting and staring at my blasted comlink!/
With that in mind, he headed for the hold at the far end of the ship, hoping that a good workout would distract him from his worry.
* * * * *
Obi-Wan was spinning and twisting his way through a level seven kata, his lightsaber drawn and blazing, when the sudden hammering at the door of the hold gave him such a start that he almost ended up skewering the wall. Backpedaling hurriedly, he deactivated his saber and wiped a hand across his forehead, his heart thumping. *That* had been a close one!
The pounding at the door began again, and Danny's voice came through to him faintly from the other side. "Obi-Wan, open up! It's *urgent*!"
Scowling ferociously, Obi-Wan swore loudly, and stormed across to the door, slapping his hand down on the release panel. He had just opened his mouth to give the younger Padawan a blasting he would never forget, when the sight of the other boy made him stop before he even began. Danny was pale and trembling, and his eyes were filled with tears. Obi-Wan's heart lurched with sudden fear. "Danny, what's wrong?" he asked urgently. "Have you heard something? Has - has something happened to them?"
Danny shook his head, a little whimper escaping him. "I don't know, they haven't called!"
Obi-Wan frowned, confused. "Then why are you so upset?"
"Have you seen what *time* it is?" Danny wailed, his voice anguished. "It's *late*! It's dark now, it has been for ages, and they still haven't called!"
Alarmed, Obi-Wan checked his chrono, and sucked in his breath. Danny was right, it was late - very late. It would certainly be several hours past full dark outside, and yet they had still heard nothing from Qui-Gon and Jack. Surely they should have been in contact by now? He was sure he would have heard if his comlink had gone off, no matter how focused he was on his exercises.
He hurried over to where he had shucked his robe, picked his comlink up off the floor and checked it. Nothing. No record of any calls since that first one from Qui-Gon, at midday. *Hours* ago, far too many hours for it to have taken them this long to reach the prison compound. *Something* must have happened. But what?
/Are they in trouble?/ Obi-Wan asked himself. /Or have they just been delayed? If it's just a delay, why didn’t Master Qui-Gon call and let me know? He must know I'm worried about him!/
"We have to go after them," Danny said suddenly, his voice cutting into Obi-Wan's thoughts. "Something must have happened. We have to go and save them."
Obi-Wan looked over at the younger Padawan, concerned at the tone of near-hysteria in Danny's voice. The younger boy's face was white and drawn, and Obi-Wan could see he was near tears. Clearly, the thought of losing his Master had shaken him badly.
"Danny, it's all right," Obi-Wan said firmly, trying to project confidence and reassurance into his voice. "We have no idea whether anything's happened to them or not. It's very likely that they've just been delayed, and the last thing they would want is for us to blunder on in and blow their cover."
"But they're so *late*," Danny wailed. "They should have called us by now! Something's happened, I know it has!"
Obi-Wan looked up sharply at that. "What do you mean, you know it? How do you know it?" he asked, suddenly even more alarmed. He certainly hadn't felt anything from Qui-Gon to indicate his Master was in danger, but that didn't mean Danny couldn't have picked up something from his own Master. "Have you felt something from Master Jack?" he asked warily. "Something that might mean he was in trouble?"
Danny thought for a moment, then shook his head. "I don't know. I don't think so...I just have this *feeling*."
Obi-Wan frowned at that, biting his lip anxiously. It was all very well to act the senior Padawan and make sure they followed their Masters' orders, but one didn't just ignore a Jedi when they said they had a feeling, even a young, unruly apprentice Jedi like Danny. What if their Masters really *were* in danger? Obeying orders would *always* come second to his Master's life, even if it got him punished. He loved Qui-Gon too much not to try to help. But at the same time, they *were* only a few hours overdue, and he and Danny were under specific orders not to leave the ship. What if they went after them and made things worse by trying to rescue them when there was no rescue needed? He hadn't felt anything from Qui-Gon that would indicate that his Master was in danger - did that mean that Danny's feeling was wrong? And could he risk his Master's life on that assumption?
He took a deep breath. He was a Jedi, and he had his orders. He couldn't break them unless there was a good reason. They had to be sure.
"We wait," he said firmly. "For now."
Danny opened his mouth to protest, and Obi-Wan held up a hand to quiet him. "For now, I said. They're only a few hours overdue. But if they haven't called by morning, and you're still feeling that they're in danger - then we'll go."
"Why don't we go now then?" Danny asked fretfully.
"We have to be sure, Danny," Obi-Wan said, looking the younger boy in the eyes. "They're undercover, remember? What if they aren't in trouble, and we ruin their plan by showing up, or put them in danger? We have to be careful, and we have to be sure. We'll wait until morning, and we'll meditate - then if you still feel they're in danger, or if you feel something from Master Jack, or me from Master Qui-Gon - then we'll go."
Danny nodded slowly, clearly unhappy but apparently convinced, for now at least. "OK. I...I guess you're right. We have to be sure."
"Yes," Obi-Wan agreed, still trying to convince himself. Despite his brave words, the thought of his Master in danger filled him with dread. He just hoped that he was doing the right thing in insisting that they wait. "I'm going to go and meditate for a while, then go to bed," he told Danny. "You should do the same. If we *do* have to go after them, we'll need to be well-rested."
Danny nodded in acquiescence, and Obi-Wan was relieved that the younger boy had listened to him without putting up too much of a fight. In fact, the other Padawan had been surprisingly agreeable once Obi-Wan had put his point across. He had been expecting a full-on battle, but Danny had agreed to wait until morning with hardly any fuss at all. Obi-Wan would have been inclined to be suspicious about that, but decided that he simply couldn't afford to worry about it now. He was worried enough about his Master and his decision without adding more concerns!
The younger Padawan walked silently beside him as he made his way back to his cabin, then headed down the corridor to his own room. Obi-Wan watched him disappear inside, then slipped through the door of the cabin he had been sharing with Qui-Gon. He knelt on the floor to do his meditation, and was reasonably successful in calming his mind and dealing with his worry about his Master. When he finally surfaced he reminded himself that he would need his rest if they did have to mount a rescue mission, and crawled into bed. Sleep was not long in coming.
* * * * *
Obi-Wan was roused from his slumber by someone shaking his shoulder and an insistent voice calling his name. He bolted upright, trying to see who it was, but the room was pitch black. With a wave of his hand, he called up the lights and found himself looking directly into Danny's wide-eyed face. The younger boy jumped when the lights came on.
"Danny," Obi-Wan groaned, rubbing his eyes sleepily. "What are you doing?"
"It's morning," Danny said, in a loud stage whisper, "and they still haven't called. We have to go and rescue them."
"Morning?" Obi-Wan glanced blearily at his chrono and blinked, then scowled. "Danny, it's only just after midnight!"
"That's *morning*," the younger Padawan said stubbornly. "You *said* we should wait until morning, and I have. They still haven't called, so I'm going to go and rescue them."
"Danny, by the Force, try to be sensible! We can't go haring off after them in the middle of the night! Don't be foolish!" Obi-Wan tried to make his voice as stern as possible to counteract the fact that he was only a couple of years older than the Padawan he was scolding, but Danny was having none of it. The younger boy folded his arms across his chest and set his jaw in an expression of pure, unquenchable stubbornness.
"Maybe *you* can't go after them in the middle of the night, but *I* can. And I *am*!" He glared back at Obi-Wan, as if daring him to contradict him.
Obi-Wan scowled darkly, his already short temper growing shorter. "I'm the senior Padawan here, Danny, and that means *I'm* in charge, remember? And *I* said we'd go after them in the morning, and I *didn't* mean five minutes after midnight!"
"Well, I don't care what you said!" Danny snapped back. "I'm going after my Master, and you can't stop me!"
He might just as well have added "so there", Obi-Wan thought despairingly, trying to put a rein on his anger. /What am I going to do? If he won't obey my orders there's no way of stopping him, short of tying him up, and I can hardly do that, no matter how tempted I am! But I can't just let him go off on his own, either. And what if he's right? What if our Masters really are in danger? There's got to be a reason for this behaviour, surely; he *can't* be like this all the time! Maybe he really *has* felt something.../
He closed his eyes for a long moment, trying to ask the Force for guidance, but his nerves were too jangled for him to get any clear impressions of the right thing to do. What was worse, he could understand how Danny felt, because it was how *he* felt, too - if there was a chance that Qui-Gon was in danger, he wanted to be there to help him, no matter what the risks were for himself.
He heaved a sigh, and opened his eyes again to see Danny watching him intently. His face was still set, but there was also a hint of pleading in that stubborn expression. /He doesn't want to go alone,/ Obi-Wan realised. /And I can't *let* him go alone. He's my responsibility. Qui-Gon put me in charge, and I have to take care of him./
He met Danny's wide eyes grimly. "All right," he said. "You win. We'll go now."
Danny gave a yelp of joy and leapt upright, only to be yanked back down by Obi-Wan a moment later. "Wait a minute," the older boy said sternly.
"What?" The younger Padawan stared at him, confused. "Are we going, or not?"
"We can't go out like *this*," Obi-Wan said, gesturing to his own sleep clothes and Danny's tunics. "Jedi aren't welcome here, remember? We need to find some other clothes."
"Oh, right..." Danny frowned momentarily, then brightened again. "There's clothes in the ship's stores, though!" he said. "Wait here, I'll go and look!" He dashed off out the door, and returned a few minutes later with his face barely visible behind the huge mound of clothing in his arms. He dumped it on the floor and grinned at Obi-Wan triumphantly. "There's got to be something in here!"
Obi-Wan was a little surprised at how much spare clothing there actually was, but he made no comment, merely began digging through the pile along with Danny in search of something that would fit him. He had decided that his pants and boots would be fine if he wore different tunics, and although most of the clothing seemed to be designed to fit larger beings he did finally manage to find a tunic that fit well enough, despite the rather disconcerting shade of purple. He looped his own belt around it and added a dark grey trench coat over the top, thinking that it would hide both his lightsaber *and* the ugly tunic. Thus disguised, he turned to see how Danny was doing, and had to fight hard not to laugh. The younger boy had gone for the full makeover - his robe, tunics and trousers lay in a pile on the floor, and Danny was now engulfed in an overly large pair of mechanics overalls and a flight jacket that reached almost to his knees. He looked like a small child paying dress-up in his father's clothes.
Danny looked up then, noticed his scrutiny and grinned. "What do you think?" He asked hopefully.
Obi-Wan couldn't help but smile at his enthusiasm. "Well, you certainly don't look like a Jedi," he replied. "But you're not going to be able to move like that. Hold on and I'll see if I can fix it." He went about making various adjustments to Danny's attire; rolling up trouser cuffs and jacket sleeves until the younger Padawan's feet and hands were once again visible. He then picked Danny's lightsaber up from where it had been dropped and looked at the outfit thoughtfully. "I'm not sure what you can do with this," he said. "I don't think there's anywhere to clip it, and you can't really wear a belt over those overalls."
"I could put it in my pocket," Danny suggested, taking the lightsaber and indicating the large pockets on the flight jacket. "These ones zip up, see? It'll be safe in there."
"I suppose that would work," Obi-Wan said. "But will you be able to get at it if you need it?"
"Sure," Danny said confidently. "It'll be just as easy as if it was on my belt."
"All right then," Obi-Wan said. "Well, if we're going to go, we'd better go, I suppose." He cast a last searching glance at the younger boy. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
"Yes!" Danny said. He looked up at Obi-Wan, his face scrunched in determination. "We *have* to - it's our Masters we're talking about. We can't just leave them."
Obi-Wan took a deep, steadying breath, centering himself, then nodded. "All right, let's go."
He led the way to the main doors and opened them, allowing the ramp to extend, then stuck his head cautiously outside, looking around. He couldn't see or sense anyone in their docking bay, so he decided it was safe and started down the ramp, beckoning Danny after him. Together the two of them crept carefully across the bay towards the exit door, trying to be as quiet as possible. At the door, Obi-Wan opened it and looked out, and was relieved to find the corridor outside was empty. Nodding to Danny, he slipped through the door and turned to wait for the younger Padawan to join him.
"Which way should we go?" Danny asked, his voice a loud stage whisper.
"The compound is to the west," Obi-Wan replied. "We need to get to the edge of town and then follow the road, like Master Qui-Gon said." He checked the direction on his chrono, trying to get his bearings and remember how the spaceport was arranged. "If we head mostly left until we get out of the spaceport, we should come out on the right side."
"You mean on the left side," Danny said mischievously. Obi-Wan made a face at him.
"All right, let's go. We'll keep it quiet and try to avoid people. Master Qui-Gon said this place is pretty rough and since we're both young we'll look like easy targets. We don't want any trouble."
With that in mind, the two Padawans headed cautiously out into the spaceport, Obi-Wan leading the way and Danny following close behind. At first, most of the corridors were empty, but as they came away from the docking bays into the main part of the spaceport, - that is, the part with all the bars - they began to encounter other beings. Obi-Wan was distinctly wary - spaceports were not the safest of places, and Qui-Gon had mentioned something about this one being worse than most. However, he went with the theory that if they kept out of sight as much as possible, they could probably avoid trouble - or so he hoped, at least.
They kept heading left as much as they could, until finally their luck ran out and they reached a dead end on the leftmost end of a long corridor. Danny turned to Obi-Wan, his face dismayed. "Now what?" he asked. "Should we go back?"
Obi-Wan hesitated, looking around. "I'm going to see what's down the other side," he said, moving cautiously down the right hand corridor. "We might be able to get through this way." Danny followed him, clearly not wanting to be left behind. Obi-Wan didn't blame him. This place was making him nervous.
Although the left side was a dead end, the right side led them into a short corridor that terminated in a set of swinging doors. It was a bar, a rather shabby and disreputable looking affair, with a flickering neon sign that read "Cradle" hanging lopsidedly above the doors. Beside the entrance was another sign, roughly hand lettered, which read "thoroughfare to west corner".
Obi-Wan was not sure if they should risk cutting through such a rough-looking place - after all, they weren't being Jedi at the moment, and were therefore fair game - but after sticking his head in through the doors, he saw that there were in fact only a few patrons in the dingy bar. The two Padawans took turns in checking out the numbers, then after some discussion decided to risk cutting through. If they could get to the west corner through this bar, that would put them so much closer to their Masters. So, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible, they crept quietly through the double doors.
Inside, the bar was every bit as dingy and unappealing as it appeared from the outside. The dim, multi-coloured lights did a passable job of hiding some of the dirt, but nothing could hide the general state of disrepair that the place was in. Obi-Wan took a deep breath as he glanced around, realising that they had somehow found themselves in what had to be the seediest bar he'd ever seen, and, or so it looked to him, a bar containing some of the roughest elements around. Gritting his teeth and willing himself to be calm, he beckoned Danny to follow him and started to move slowly across the floor, trying to attract as little attention as was humanly possible. Unfortunately, two young teenagers in a place such as this were bound to attract *some* attention.
They had got about halfway across the room before a raucous laugh rang out from the far corner, and a loud voice exclaimed, "Well, look here! We got us a couple of babies! These two saw the place was called Cradle and they thought we really meant it!" The voice came from a stocky, rough looking humanoid, who was sitting with a group of assorted beings at a table in the far corner. He laughed loudly at his own joke, and the others joined in, all of them apparently finding the presence of the two boys very entertaining in their obviously drunken state. Heads began to turn at other tables as well, as their occupants looked for the source of the amusement.
Obi-Wan kept walking, paying no attention. If all the bar's patrons dished out was insults, he was not worried. Beside him, however, Danny tensed. Obi-Wan reached out to grab his arm, pulling him along beside him. "Ignore them," he said in a low voice. "Come on."
The drunken humanoid was having far too much fun to stop, however. This was the most interesting thing that had happened in the bar all night. "Hey, babies! Where you going in such a hurry? Why don't you stop and have a drink with us? I'm sure barkeep there's got some milk he could heat up for you!"
More laughter, and Obi-Wan could feel that all eyes in the bar were now turned to them, watching as they slunk across the room. He could also feel Danny growing more and more tense and angry beside him. However, they were almost at the other door. Just a little further...
"Come on, kiddies!" The man was yelling after them now, standing up at the table. "Come and have a drink! We won't tell your folks, right guys?" A roar of agreement came from his friends. The patrons at other tables were starting to join in now, calling encouragement. Obi-Wan held his breath, continuing to walk. Just a *little* further...
"Hey, babies! Aren't you listening? Didn't your folks teach you to listen to your elders and betters when they talk? Looks to me like they didn't raise you right!" General laughter from all sides accompanied this statement, and the man doing the yelling could now hardly breathe for laughing.
The only warning Obi-Wan had of approaching disaster was Danny's sudden sharp intake of breath. Before Obi-Wan could stop him, he turned to face the table of inebriated patrons and leveled his most intimidating scowl at them - which Obi-Wan privately thought was about as intimidating as an angry kitten. "Who are you calling babies, you ugly, overweight pile of alcohol-saturated scum?" he demanded angrily. "And who do you think you are to call yourself *our* betters?"
All the laughter stopped, and for a long moment there was silence.
Obi-Wan held his breath, horrified, not daring to move. Why, oh why, oh *why* did Danny have to talk back to them? They had been so close to the doors...
Then there was a sudden scraping sound as the humanoid who had been yelling pushed back his chair, getting laboriously to his feet. When he spoke, all the laughter was gone from his voice, and his tone was low and dangerous. "What did you call me, you stunted little whelp?"
"You heard me," Danny said, ignoring Obi-Wan's frantic attempts to shush him. He took a step forward, his fists clenched and his face scrunched into a look of pure dislike. "I called you an ugly. Overweight. Pile. Of alcohol-saturated. *Scum*. And that's what you are, you stupid, beer-soaked tub of guts!"
The humanoid whose appearance and intelligence was being so maligned was gaping at Danny, as if he couldn't believe that this red-headed scrap had actually dared to speak to him like that. However, his shock didn't last long. Shoving his chair away so hard that it fell to the floor, he started walking towards Danny and Obi-Wan, menace practically dripping from his portly frame. Obi-Wan yanked frantically at Danny's arm, trying to get him to move. "Danny, come *on*!" he hissed urgently.
"What? You want me to run from this steaming pile of poodoo?" Danny's eyes were flashing dangerously. "I can take him!"
"Not without your saber, you can't, and not if all of his friends decide to join in," Obi-Wan said, eyeing the other patrons at the table, who had also risen to their feet. No doubt they were eager to see Danny being taught a good lesson by their inebriated friend, but Obi-Wan was quite sure that if things turned ugly they would be quite happy to involve themselves in the fight too.
Danny was still standing, scowling ferociously at the approaching humanoid, oblivious to Obi-Wan's frantic tugging. If Obi-Wan didn't do something quickly, they were going to find themselves in the middle of a bar brawl - and with lightsabers off-limits, that was *not* a good place to be. Deciding that the only course of action was to make a run for it, and knowing that Danny was as set on fighting as the bear of a man approaching them, Obi-Wan did the only thing he could think of. Grabbing Danny around the waist and ignoring his yelp of protest, he swung the younger Padawan over his shoulder and bolted for the door.
A shout of anger came from behind him as he fumbled the door open, but he used the Force to help him to move faster and quickly slipped through, letting the door swing shut behind him to a loud cry of "Get them!" Using the Force, he searched for a lock on the door, found it and quickly engaged it. Securing his hold on Danny he started down the corridor, although his progress was not heeded by Danny's struggles. "Shut up, Danny, and stop trying to get us killed!" he hissed furiously. Danny ignored him. His patience at an end, Obi-Wan balled up a fist and thumped the younger boy on the shoulder, not hard, but enough to be felt. Danny yelped out loud, and with a growl of frustration, Obi-Wan dumped the other boy on the ground, took him by the shoulders and shook him hard. "*I'm* the senior Padawan here, and *I'm* in charge. Now come *on*!"
Pulling the younger boy after him, he ran down the corridor, hearing thumps from the other side of the bar door that sounded an awful lot like someone was trying to batter it down. The door was hardly sturdy, and the barkeep would have the key anyway, Obi-Wan thought. It surely wouldn't be long before they got through, which meant that the best thing the two Padawans could do was run, and hide.
Pelting down the corridors, dragging Danny behind him, Obi-Wan fled down the most deserted-looking looking passages he could see. They followed twists and turns, turning right and left and right again, and finally came to a door at the end of a small, dimly-lit corridor. Obi-Wan shoved it open and pulled Danny inside after him, then shut the door behind them. The room inside was full of old, discarded machinery, and Obi-Wan had the feeling it had not been visited in quite a while. Perfect. He quickly locked the door from the inside and tugged Danny over behind one of the larger machines, where they would have ample cover just in case. "We'll stay here for a while," he said in a low voice. "Just until they've stopped looking for us."
Danny nodded, but he still looked vaguely mutinous. "I could have taken him," he muttered.
Obi-Wan turned back to glare at the younger Padawan, and Danny flinched slightly at the look on his face. "We're staying here," the older boy hissed. "And I'm going to explain to you just how a Jedi behaves, seeing as you've *obviously* forgotten!"
* * * * *
They remained in the tiny room for almost two hours, most of which was taken up with Obi-Wan scolding Danny in the best senior Padawan voice he could muster, albeit reduced to a whisper. Finally, the older Padawan decided that enough time must have gone past that they could leave and make their way out of the spaceport, although they would definitely need to avoid the Cradle and its surrounding area. He led the way out of their makeshift hidey-hole, with a rather chastened Danny following behind, and finding the corridor empty, deemed it safe to proceed. It took them some time to find their way back through the maze of corridors they had run down, but eventually they did make their way to the west corner of the spaceport, thankfully remaining unmolested and staying well away from the Cradle bar. They found the exit without too much trouble and hurried outside, both of them looking around to try to get their bearings.
It was still dark out - despite their rather prolonged delay in the spaceport it was still the early hours of the morning, although the very faint glow on the horizon indicated that dawn was not too far off. The streets of the city were mostly deserted at this time, and the two Padawans started off down the street heading west, aiming for the edge of town so they could follow the route their Masters had taken.
They had only been walking for about ten minutes when Danny suddenly stopped dead, his head cocked to one side as if he were listening to something. "Obi-Wan," he hissed. "Wait!"
"What's wrong?" Obi-Wan asked warily, turning to look at the younger Padawan.
"I think there's someone following us," Danny said nervously.
Obi-Wan's forehead creased in alarm. "Where?" he asked quietly.
"Behind us, of course - they're following us," Danny said impatiently.
Obi-Wan repressed the sudden strong urge to strangle the younger boy. "*Where* behind us, Danny? Left? Right? Straight?"
"Oh. Well, left. I heard noises from there, and I'm sure I saw someone a minute ago. They were being really sneaky, staying in the shadows so I couldn't get a good look at them."
Obi-Wan gritted his teeth in frustration. Force, this was all they needed! He thought for a moment, trying to work out the best course of action. "All right," he told Danny. "We can't fight them unless we use our lightsabers and we can't do that unless we absolutely have to. We need to try and lose them."
"OK." To Obi-Wan's great relief, Danny agreed readily for once. "What should we do?"
"We'll just have to run for it and try to lose them in the streets. We can get back on track afterwards." Obi-Wan looked around, reaching out with the Force to try to find the best way to go, as well as locate their pursuers. "I think they're all on our left - we'll have to try going to the right. There are lots of little streets, hopefully if we move fast we'll be able to lose them." He cast a determined look at Danny. "When I say go, we run. I'll lead and you follow. And *don't* get separated from me, all right?"
Danny nodded, looking nervously over his shoulder. Both boys could now clearly hear noises coming from the alleyway to their left. Whoever was shadowing them was definitely coming closer.
"All right. Go!" Obi-Wan bolted off to the right, Danny pelting along beside him. They ran helter-skelter along the narrow, winding streets, hearing the sounds of pursuit coming from behind them.
"They're following us!" Danny yelped out, and Obi-Wan gritted his teeth in frustration. At this rate, they were going to have to fight it out - and there was no way they'd be able to go sneaking through the city after having waved their lightsabers around. And that meant that it would be a *lot* harder to find their Masters!
Obi-Wan suddenly ducked sideways with a yelp as a large figure stepped out of the alleyway to his left, lunging for him. He heard Danny cry out and whirled back to see the younger boy fighting to break free from their attacker's hold. Obi-Wan spun on his heel and ran back to help, landing two solid punches before the man holding Danny had a chance to even blink. The suddenness of Obi-Wan's attack made the man loosen his hold on Danny, who wriggled free at once and spun to kick his assailant squarely in the face. The man went reeling from the blow and Obi-Wan grabbed Danny by the arm, preparing to continue their escape - but as he turned, he saw three more men, all armed with blasters, coming from the alley directly ahead of them. Obi-Wan had a split second to look them over before he moved to run again, and groaned inwardly when he recognised one of them as the man Danny had insulted in the bar. /Oh, *great*,/ he thought unhappily.
He dashed down the alleyway on his right, yanking Danny with him. This alley appeared to be empty and as they sprinted along the narrow, twisting street, Obi-Wan allowed himself a brief moment to hope that they might actually get out of this without a fight - and then they were fetching up against a solid wall of building as the alley came to an abrupt dead end, ringed by walls that were at least four storeys high.
Obi-Wan growled in frustration and spat out a string of curses that would have earned him a serious lecture if Qui-Gon had been within earshot. Beside him, Danny turned back in alarm as the sounds of pursuit came from behind them. "Now what?" the younger boy asked nervously. "I can't jump that!"
Obi-Wan shook his head. "We've got no choice now. We'll have to fight. Get behind me!" He shrugged out of his trench coat and threw it aside, yanking his lightsaber from his belt and igniting it just as their pursuers came around the corner. There were several startled cries of 'Jedi!' as they saw his 'saber, and the whole lot of them backed quickly around the corner again. A moment later the blaster fire started, the men taking it in turns to shoot at them from their defensive position.
Obi-Wan deflected as many shots as he could and dodged the rest, backing up against the wall in the hope that the curve of the alley would provide some cover. Danny was still staying behind him, and when Obi-Wan glanced back, he saw that the younger Padawan did not even have his lightsaber out - instead, he was fumbling with a pocket on his coveralls. "Danny!" he hissed, deflecting another bolt. "I could use some help here!"
"I'm trying!" Danny cried, pulling frantically at his pocket. Obi-Wan could hear the sound of ripping fabric. "My 'saber's stuck on something, I can't get it out!"
Obi-Wan had no time to reply, as at that moment several of their attackers came out from around the corner, laying down a hail of blaster fire as they tried to gain ground. Apparently encouraged by seeing that only one of the two Padawans had a lightsaber, they started calling to their friends to join them, pinning Obi-Wan down under such a barrage of blaster fire that he could hardly manage to deflect it all. There was no way he could hold out against this for long - not alone, at any rate.
/Master, I'm sorry!/ he called into the Force, hoping that even if he didn't make it out of this alive, his Master would know that he had tried.
Suddenly, so fast it was almost a blur, two large figures dropped from the roof above them and landed squarely in between the two Padawans and their attackers. Two lightsabers, one blue and one green, snapped up and began to deflect the bolts back at the men firing them. Two of them dropped almost at once, and the others cried out in fear and began to back away.
Obi-Wan looked up in disbelief at their rescuers. "Master!" he gasped, as Qui-Gon and Jack continued to fend off their assailants. Qui-Gon didn't reply, just gestured sharply to Obi-Wan and Danny to join them. Both boys ran up hurriedly, lightsabers ignited - Danny had finally managed to pry his loose from his pocket.
"We need to move," Qui-Gon said, and before Obi-Wan and Danny could even blink they both found themselves gripped firmly by their Masters and flying through the air as Qui-Gon and Jack made twin Force-assisted leaps to the roof above, then off the other side of it to the next street over. Both boys were put down on their feet, and the two Masters extinguished their 'sabers and began to run in the direction of the ship, calling to their Padawans to follow.
"Master, what about Knight Gavi?" Obi-Wan gasped, scrambling along behind Qui-Gon.
"Gavi is safe on board," Qui-Gon said sharply. "Which is where you should be!"
Obi-Wan cringed at the anger in Qui-Gon's tone. "Master, I'm sorry - "
"Save it," Qui-Gon said curtly. "For now, let's just get back to the ship. Force-run, I think. Follow me, all of you."
Anyone who had actually witnessed the escape of the four Jedi would have seen little more than four fast-moving blurs as they headed back to the spaceport, barely stopping for breath until they were safely in their ship, and it in turn was safely airborne.
* * * * *
Obi-Wan stood before his Master, his eyes fixed firmly on his boots. As soon as they were in hyperspace, Qui-Gon had turned to him, fixing him with a gaze as stern as Obi-Wan had ever seen on his Master's face, and Obi-Wan had inwardly cringed at Qui-Gon's obvious disapproval. After a few moments he simply could not bear it any longer and had dropped his eyes, his face flushing with shame at having so disappointed his Master. And so he stood, staring at the floor as Qui-Gon regarded him, severely but silently.
A small eternity later, Qui-Gon said quietly, "Come with me, Obi-Wan." His tone was even, but Obi-Wan did not doubt that his Master was seriously displeased with him.
He followed Qui-Gon down to the main hold area, and found Master Jack waiting there with Danny sitting nervously beside him. Knight Gavi was sitting opposite them, but when Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan entered, he got quietly to his feet and left the room without a word.
/He probably doesn't want to witness the bloodshed,/ Obi-Wan thought morosely.
Qui-Gon took a seat beside Master Jack, and Obi-Wan went to stand before them both, his head still bowed. After a moment, Jack nudged Danny and the younger boy rose and sidled reluctantly over to stand beside Obi-Wan.
"All right, Padawan," Qui-Gon said quietly. "You were ordered to stay on the ship, and you deliberately disobeyed me. Explain yourself."
Obi-Wan bit his lip. Put like that, it sounded so much worse. Deliberate disobedience was a grave crime for a Padawan, and even though he had disobeyed in order to try to help his Master, it didn't alter the facts.
The fact that Qui-Gon had not needed his help at all just made the whole thing even worse.
Obi-Wan opened his mouth to explain the whole fiasco, intending to detail how worried they had been and how they had been convinced that the two Masters needed help and how everything had been done in a good cause...but then he just couldn't. He couldn't make excuses. He didn't have any. He had disobeyed, and he had known it was wrong, but he had let his emotions and his fears for Qui-Gon's safety get the better of him. Not only that, but there had also been a small part of him that had been rather pleased at the thought of going to the rescue - it would have served Qui-Gon right for leaving him behind! He cringed inwardly at that realisation, and felt tears start to come to his eyes. When he spoke, his voice was barely more than a whisper. "I'm sorry, Master. I have no excuse for my behaviour."
"No, you don't," Qui-Gon said, but although his tern was stern it was not harsh. "You disobeyed me, and there is no excuse for that. What I would like to know is *why* you disobeyed me."
"We were worried about you, Master," Obi-Wan said softly. "When you didn't call by nightfall, we thought something must have happened to you. Danny told me that he had a bad feeling, and I decided that we should go after you. It was my decision and it was my fault, and I'm truly sorry."
"No, that's not true," Danny broke in, speaking for the first time. He looked very nervous as he glanced back and forth between Qui-Gon and his own Master, but was obviously determined to have his say. "I talked Obi-Wan into going after you," he said, his voice quivering slightly. "I *did* have a bad feeling about you, Master, I thought you were in danger, so I wanted to go after you. Obi-Wan said we couldn't go because we were under orders, but I said that if he didn't come with me I'd go by myself. I didn't leave him any choice. It was *my* fault, not his."
"No, Danny," Obi-Wan said quietly. "I'm the senior Padawan. You were my responsibility. I let my feelings get the better of me, and I shouldn't have."
"But it was my idea to go after them, and I talked you into it. I practically forced you."
"I wanted to go, though. I knew we were doing wrong, but I wanted to help them so that my Master would see that he needed me."
Qui-Gon broke in then, before Danny could offer a rebuttal. "Before you two argue any more about whose fault it was, may I ask what happened to your comlink?"
"Indeed," Jack chipped in. "And more than that, what have you done to yours this time, Daniel?"
Obi-Wan glanced at Danny, who had suddenly gone very red in the face. "I was just tinkering, Master," he said in a small voice. "It was still a bit funny from when I dropped it in the fountain, I was just trying to fix it..."
"It was fixed, Daniel. I fixed it. And I told you to leave it alone until you had actually learned how the circuitry worked."
"Yes, Master," Danny whispered, shamefaced. "I'm sorry."
"Hmm. We'll deal with that later, Padawan," Jack said sternly. "But that aside, what happened to yours, Obi-Wan?"
"And how exactly did you come to the conclusion that we hadn't called, when we could hardly have got through on a broken comlink?" Qui-Gon asked evenly.
"Broken?" Obi-Wan looked confused. "But the comlink was fine, Master - you called on it that one time, and it was perfectly all right. I barely touched it after that, but it seemed to be in order. Are you saying that you *did* call us?"
"Several times," Qui-Gon said. "I couldn't get through, but we did not sense that you were in danger, so we assumed something had happened to your comlink. Jack tried Danny's, and it didn't work either, but he said that's not unusual, as he has a Padawan who tends to tinker with things." He cast a severe glance at Danny, who went even redder with embarrassment.
Obi-Wan shook his head in confusion. "Nothing happened to it that I know of..." He stopped, his eyes widening. Danny tended to tinker with things...had tinkered with his own comlink until it stopped working...and when Obi-Wan had gone to meditate, he had left *his* comlink in the cockpit with Danny...
"Danny," he said, turning to the younger Padawan and fixing him with his most dangerous look. "What did you do to my comlink?"
Danny took one look at the expression on Obi-Wan's face, then promptly dropped his gaze to his boots.
"Daniel," Master Jack broke in, his voice stern. "Did you tinker with Obi-Wan's comlink as well as your own?"
Danny looked up at his Master, his previously flushed face paling and taking on an almost greenish cast. "I - Master, I - I was just trying to -"
Master Jack stood up. "All right, Daniel, I've heard enough," he said sharply. "You not only tinkered with your own comlink, which I had specifically told you to leave alone, but you also tinkered with Obi-Wan's until it was broken too! You know perfectly well that you don't understand the circuitry that well, Padawan, and through your foolishness you cut our communications. And then, to make matters worse, you coerced Obi-Wan into disobeying orders with you!" He glowered down at his Padawan, his expression hard. "What am I going to do with you, Padawan?"
"I'm sorry, Master," Danny squeaked miserably.
"Not nearly as sorry as you're going to be," Jack said grimly. "Master Jinn, if you will indulge me, my Padawan deserves to be punished, and I think it would be appropriate if it was carried out in the presence of the people he has wronged here." At Qui-Gon's approving nod, Jack fixed his gaze back on Danny. "Come here, Padawan."
Danny stared at his Master, wide-eyed with horror. "Master, please, don't punish me in public!"
"Come here, Daniel! Right now, or your spanking is going to get doubled!" Jack's tone of voice made it clear to everyone listening that he was deadly serious.
Obi-Wan watched miserably as Danny blanched at that tone and slowly slunk over to his Master. Some small part of his mind was quite sure now that Qui-Gon had indeed had that talk with Master Jack about stricter discipline for his apprentice. A moment later another small part of his mind voiced the awful certainty that as soon as Danny had been dealt with, it would be his turn.
Obi-Wan swallowed hard. This was going to be bad.
Danny had crept forward to stand in front of his Master, and was staring fixedly at the floor, his face flaming as Jack efficiently tugged at zippers and drawstrings until Danny's oversized coveralls were pooled on the floor around his ankles. Underneath, he wore only his thin inner tunic and his underwear - and if he was blushing then, his face looked as if it would catch fire as Jack yanked the underwear down to join the coveralls and pulled Danny forward across his lap, his bare bottom balanced over Jack's right thigh.
Jack raised his hand and brought it down with a resounding crack across Danny's bare cheeks, and Obi-Wan winced in sympathy. Danny let out a yelp of pain which tapered off into a whimper, only to reform into an even louder yelp as Jack swatted him again, even harder. In no time at all, Jack was spanking steadily in a hard, fast rhythm, and Danny was alternately squirming, yelping and sniffling as his Master's hard hand swatted him over and over again. As the spanking went on and on, Danny's squirming became more and more energetic, and his yelps grew louder and louder until he was positively howling. All the time Obi-Wan simply watched, mesmerized, as the younger Padawan received a very firm dose of what he no doubt would be next in line for.
As the spanking went on, Danny's wiggling backside grew redder and redder until it was fairly blazing, and Danny was bawling unashamedly and wailing his distress so loudly that Obi-Wan was quite sure he could have heard it right down the other end of the ship. In between howls, the younger boy was alternating between pleading for mercy and promising that he would never, ever be bad again. However, his Master was unmoved, and the punishment must have gone on for a good five minutes more, reducing Danny to even more frantic sobs and pleading, before Jack finally decided that enough was enough. He gave his weeping Padawan a last set of hard, blistering swats before finally stopping and laying his hand lightly across the young Padawan's scorched bottom. Danny went limp across his knees, sobbing, and Jack soothingly rubbed both his back and his scarlet posterior until the boy's weeping had calmed somewhat. When Danny's sobs were reduced to sniffles, Jack then pulled him gently upright and enfolded him in a hug, holding him close until the boy quieted. When he finally let him go, Danny reached down to pull up his underwear and the oversized coveralls, tying them around his waist with the sleeves rather than bothering to fasten them all the way up. The younger Padawan then turned to face Obi-Wan, still scrubbing tears away, and said softly, "I'm very sorry for how I behaved, Obi-Wan, and I'm sorry that I got you into trouble. I didn't mean to, honestly."
Obi-Wan nodded his acceptance of the apology, then watched as Danny turned first to Qui-Gon and then to his own Master to make formal apologies to them. Both apologies were accepted, and Danny stood quietly beside his Master, still sniffling a bit and looking as chastened as a Padawan could be.
Jack put a hand on his Padawan's shoulder and looked over at Qui-Gon. "If you don't object, Master Qui-Gon, my Padawan and I will go and rest for a while. It has been a long night for everyone."
Qui-Gon's gaze fell on Obi-Wan for a long moment, and Obi-Wan could practically feel Qui-Gon weighing up whether to give him the same treatment as Danny had had, or punish him in private. He hardly dared to breathe as his Master deliberated - whatever Qui-Gon decided, he knew he deserved it and he would accept it with as much dignity as he could - but that didn't mean he had to like it, and being punished in public was *not* high on his list of favourite things. He bit his lip, trying to keep his expression as neutral as he could. /Whatever he decides is right,/ he told himself. /Whatever he decides is right, and I will accept it./
Qui-Gon turned back to Jack and gave a small nod. "Very well. I don't think that Obi-Wan's punishment will be made any more effective by having witnesses, so I believe I will handle it in private. And I can handle the piloting for now."
Jack nodded his thanks and rose to his feet, then led Danny out of the main area towards the cabins at the back of the ship. Obi-Wan saw Danny give him a quick, sympathetic glance, and returned it. A moment later the other Master and Padawan had vanished out the door.
Obi-Wan turned to look back at his Master, steeling himself for the punishment he knew would follow. Qui-Gon's gaze was calm and steady, and Obi-Wan felt some of his agitation leave him. Whatever Qui-Gon decided would be right, he knew, and he vowed to himself again that he would accept the punishment as best he could. He took a deep, steadying breath, just as Qui-Gon broke the silence.
"All right, Padawan," Qui-Gon said evenly. "You know that you did wrong, and you know that I will have to discipline you. Is there anything else you wish to add to your explanation of what went on?"
"No, Master," Obi-Wan said quietly. "I know that I was wrong. I *was* worried about you, but I let my fears influence my actions to the point where I put myself and Danny in danger. And - " he paused. This was going to be the hardest part to confess, but he knew he had to.
"And what, Padawan?" Qui-Gon asked, his voice still stern but holding a definite note of affection.
Obi-Wan took a deep breath. "Master, there - there was a part of me, even while I was worried about you and afraid for you, that was - well - sort of *glad* at the idea that you were in trouble. Not glad, exactly, but - well, it seemed *justified*. Because you left me behind, and I should have been with you. Part of me really wanted to be the one to help you." He lowered his gaze back to his boots, his cheeks burning with shame. "I'm sorry, Master."
"Apology accepted, Padawan," Qui-Gon said gently. "I know that you did not mean any harm by your feelings, and that you would have taken no pleasure in my being harmed."
"No, Master!" Obi-Wan said emphatically, looking up at Qui-Gon again, his eyes pleading. "I would *never* want you to be hurt! I - I just - wanted to be with you."
"I know, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon said. "You are my Padawan, and you should be by my side. However, if a mission is risky, I would rather have you safe than in the thick of things, especially while you are still young and inexperienced."
"I know, Master," Obi-Wan said. "I'm sorry that I had such - inappropriate feelings."
"You are only human, Padawan," Qui-Gon said kindly. "Even Jedi are only people, with feelings what we can not always control as well as we might like. For instance, I must admit I felt a certain amount of satisfaction in seeing young Danny get his comeuppance after all this. Jack has been rather too lenient with that boy in my opinion."
Obi-Wan gave his Master a small smile, and it was returned briefly before Qui-Gon became serious again. "And now, my Padawan, we have your own punishment to deal with."
"Yes, Master," Obi-Wan said obediently. He was ready now, he thought. He would take it as well and as quietly as he could. /Which probably won't be very quietly at all./
"Very well then. Come here, Padawan."
Obi-Wan walked over to stand at his Master's side, knowing what was coming.
"Take your pants down, Obi-Wan, and bend over my lap."
Obi-Wan silently untied the drawstring on his pants, then pushed them off over his hips and down to his knees. He repeated the process with his underwear, then stepped forward and leaned over Qui-Gon's lap. Qui-Gon settled him into place, adjusting his position slightly so that Obi-Wan's backside was in the perfect spot for his attentions. "You do understand why you are being punished, do you not?" Qui-Gon asked sternly.
"Yes, Master," Obi-Wan said. "I disobeyed your orders and put myself and Danny in danger, and my actions could have put you and Master Jack and Knight Gavi in danger as well. I'm very sorry, Master."
"I know you're sorry, Padawan," Qui-Gon said. "And I also know that you're not nearly as sorry as you're going to be." And with that, he delivered the first two swats to Obi-Wan's upturned bottom, one to each cheek. Obi-Wan gasped at the sudden sting; those had been really hard.
"What were my orders to you, Padawan?" Qui-Gon asked, delivering another pair of slaps. He was not holding back; the swats were almost full-force, and Obi-Wan couldn’t help squirming as he replied.
"To – to stay with the ship, Master, no matter what," he yelped out.
Another pair of swats fell, and Obi-Wan gave a little squeak of pain as the sting registered. “And what did you do?”
"Ouch! I - I left the ship, Master!"
"I told you when I left that as you were the senior Padawan, you were in charge," Qui-Gon said, continuing to spank Obi-Wan's vulnerable backside with slow, methodical swats. "And although I realise that leaving the ship was not your idea, Danny is a younger Padawan and it was your responsibility to rein him in. Instead, you went along with him, and put him and yourself in very real danger."
"Yes, Master," Obi-Wan gasped out. "I'm sorry!"
Apparently convinced that Obi-Wan was fully aware of his wrongdoings, Qui-Gon began the spanking in earnest, applying hard swats to every inch of Obi-Wan's wriggling backside. It did not take long at all before Obi-Wan was yelping with each swat and sniffling back tears, and when Qui-Gon turned his attention to the sit spot and upped the pace of the spanking even further, the boy could hold out no longer and finally began to cry. Sobbing, he began to beg his Master for forgiveness, promising through his tears that he would never, ever disobey again. Qui-Gon did not stop the spanking, but he did slow down again, going back to the methodical pace of earlier.
“What are you going to do the next time I give you an order, Padawan?” he asked sternly.
“I’m – I’m going to o-obey you,” Obi-Wan wept. "I - I promise!"
"I hope so, Padawan, I really do," Qui-Gon said. "Because if you do not, I will have to assume that you have forgotten this lesson, and I will therefore be forced to repeat it in such a way that you do not forget. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Master!" Obi-Wan sobbed. "I understand! Please, I'm sorry!" He was quite sure that his backside would not take even one more swat. It felt like the skin had been flayed off it. However, Qui-Gon was thorough, and continued the punishment until Obi-Wan was absolutely sure that he had learned his lesson to the fullest and really would never, ever disobey again - and furthermore, that all his future obedience would be done standing up, since he would never be able to sit down ever again.
When Qui-Gon finally stopped, Obi-Wan was hanging limp over his lap, his shoulders heaving with wrenching sobs as he cried out his remorse and pain. He had deserved every swat he got, he knew, and he was deeply ashamed of himself for letting his Master down.
Qui-Gon rested one large hand on Obi-Wan's back and began to rub gentle, soothing circles on it, and after a few minutes Obi-Wan felt his tears began to taper off. Soon he had calmed down sufficiently to get to his feet, and once upright he shakily pulled up his pants and underwear, looking up at his Master pleadingly. Answering the unspoken request, Qui-Gon stood and pulled his Padawan into a comforting embrace. Obi-Wan hid his face against Qui-Gon's chest, beginning to sniffle again, and Qui-Gon rubbed a big hand through the spiky hair, murmuring words of forgiveness in response to Obi-Wan's tearful apologies.
When Obi-Wan finally calmed down completely, Qui-Gon released him and cupped Obi-Wan's chin in his hand, looking down into his face. His Master's expression was still stern, but the obvious affection and forgiveness that accompanied that look made Obi-Wan feel warmed in a way that nothing else could. He knew how much his Master cared for him, and that the punishments he gave were for his own good, and never given unfairly or in anger.
Qui-Gon smiled then, very slightly, and ruffled Obi-Wan's hair. "I think you should go and get some sleep now, Padawan," he said kindly. "It's been a very long night for you."
Obi-Wan wanted to protest, but he really was tired, and besides, he didn't want to push his luck with his Master. *This* time, he was going to do as he was told!
"All right, Master," he said obediently. "But will you wake me if you need me for anything?"
"You have my promise, Padawan," Qui-Gon said. "But please, before you return, do change out of that tunic. I'm sure it's very fashionable, but it really doesn't suit you, and that colour is quite - disconcerting."
Obi-Wan blinked in surprise at that, glancing down at the vivid purple tunic that he had, until then, forgotten he was wearing. He looked back up at his Master, and was even more surprised to see an almost mischievous expression flit across the older Jedi's face. Qui-Gon smiled at him, giving him the barest hint of a wink, and Obi-Wan broke out in a relieved grin. "It's not fashionable, Master," he said, smiling. "It's *ugly*!"
"Well in that case, you won't mind exchanging it for your plain old Jedi tunics, will you?" Qui-Gon said mildly. "Honestly, they're much more becoming - and much easier on my eyes."
Obi-Wan grinned in agreement and nodded. "Yes, Master!" he said emphatically, and headed out of the main hold towards his cabin - and his bed.
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