Always two there are. No more. No less.


Star Wars: Coming of Age

               “My goodness, Obi-Wan, you look terrible!”

            The young Jedi-in-training looked up with a soft, sheepish smile. “If I look half as bad as I feel, I apologize to your sniff eyes for having to look at me.”

            Kala, a second year Jedi-apprentice sat down on the bench beside him and patted his back in reassurance. “Even like this you're not that bad to look at. What's wrong? Need to talk?”

            He shook his head. “Just a bit sniff nervous about the meetings. And whenever I get stressed I… eh-hehh…” he wavered, quickly holding up a finger to ask her to hold on a moment. His other hand cupped his nose and mouth as he bent forward at the force. “Ehptchoo! Ehhtchhh!” He took a deep breath, sniffed wetly, then lowered his hand to wipe it on his pants. “I come down with a cold,” he finally finished, though it was already self-explanatory.

            Motherly, Kala put the back of her hand against his forehead. “You're not warm…”

            “It's just a head cold, a tickle sniff in my nose for now.”

            Nodding, “But I thought Jedi's didn't get sick.”

            He grumbled. “I'm sniff the exception. I was an incredibly healthy child. Guess I'm making up for sniff, sniff it now.”

            “And what a time- initial interviews!” She clucked her tongue and checked her watch. “I need to get going, Young One. Call me if you need anything- advice, tea, a story before bedtime…”

            He smiled again and thanked her. She left with a soft kiss to his cheek. Obi-Wan's eyes followed after her until she turned the corner and left his view. Then he collected his things and headed to the arboretum to meet Master Yoda and Master Windu.

            The arboretum was quiet, and the artificial sunlight beading down on him made him drowsy. The elders had not yet arrived, so he found a spot out of the way to get comfortable and meditate. Before long, he had lost his senses, and lost his thoughts, and was one with the silent peace of nothingness.

            “Young Kenobi?” a soft voice whispered in this back of his mind, and he pulled himself out to find the masters sitting before him, with his nose running quite neglectfully. He sleeve took care of that as he greeted them. “Hello sniff Master Yoda and sniff Ma… aahh…” he tried to hold it off as best he could with a few rubs to his nose. He succeeded, and quickly finished his sentence. “Master Windu. It is a pleasure meeting sniff, sniff with you both.”

            While their eyes were kind, their faces wore worried expressions. Yoda was the one to put their concerns to words. “Hrmmm… sick with cold you look. Return another time we will, yes.”

            “No!” Obi-Wan blurted out quickly before the two could rise. “Please, I'll be fine. Sniff! It's just a minor cold. I don't want my interviews pushed back.”

            Mace Windu looked at Yoda a moment, and Yoda looked back, then his expression turned to one of sympathy. “All right, Young One. We will continue. But you must remember, a body's temple is no different from the Jedi Temple. It must be held high with care and commitment. To deny it that will bring it down, no matter what Force there is behind it.”

            Obi-Wan, successfully fighting off another sneeze, nodded in understanding.

            “Five interviews you will have,” Yoda explained, jumping to the task at hand. “Then our decision will be made. To train under which Master, or to leave this place, yes. Understand you do?”

            Obi-Wan nodded. “I have what it takes, sick or not.”

            Yoda chuckled. “Over-confident you are,” he was bluntly honest, which frightened many young ones.

            Quickly, Obi-Wan shook his head, ready to clarify before they got the wrong idea. “I am simply sure of my sniff desires and my abilities. Sniff.”

            Patting Obi-Wan on the leg, Yoda replied, “Good answer was that.”

            Mace took over, handing over a small data chip. “The Masters we have arranged for you to meet are Masters Arnoch, Yan, Tala, Jinn, and Boyle. Is this acceptable to you?”

            Gulping, he nodded. It was well known that both Qui-Gon Jinn and Sio Boyle were the two hardest Masters. This is what he got for asking for working experiences. There were two courses- study and work, both bringing out the highest of concentration and knighthood. But Obi-Wan wasn't in it for himself, he was there to help others. To be one with the Force meant to be able to use it for the good of others, and sitting all day in classes learning four hundred meditation techniques was not his idea of helpful. It was just his luck that the difficult Masters would have his same mindset. Perhaps they weren't a bad as rumors told…

            Mace chuckled, “You'll do fine with them, Young Kenobi.”

            Obi-Wan blushed, remembering that the Master's abilities were far superior to others'. Mind-reading was even on the bottom of their list of abilities.

“Your schedule and additional information will be found on disk. Good luck.”

            “Good luck, yes. Need it you will, heeheehee!” Yoda chuckled as the two Masters left for other meetings.



            The race back to his room was almost non-existent as his eagerness to see his schedule overtook his every thought. He sat down at his desk and stuck the chip into the computer even before kicking off his boots and doing away with his tunic. “Reading Information…” the computer churned, processing what it had been given. Suddenly his schedule popped up in front of him. Two meetings over meals. Two in the common room, and the last in one of the dojo fitness rooms. Apparently Master Boyle wanted to see his physical techniques in addition to speaking with him. “Great,” Obi-Wan grumbled with a sniffle for his runny nose. Handkerchiefs… he needed a supply of handkerchiefs, badly. He'd managed to hold the sneezes off during his meeting with Masters Yoda and Windu, and kept the sniffling to a minimum, but he felt it getting worse at every moment, and sniffling just wasn't polite. How long did he have before his first interview? An hour? Two? What time was it now? Twelve twenty-seven. That gave him… three and a half minutes! His eyes nearly popped out. There it was, in glowing green, his first appointment and he was going to be a mess. Correction: a LATE mess.

            He quickly pulled on his boots and tunic, and grabbed a notepad and pen before bolting down to the cafeteria.

            “Young Kenobi… right on time.” Master Yan smiled, making note of something on the pad of paper he carried. The Master looked old, scrutinizing, calculating, and cross, but he also seemed to have a bit of a spark or two of kindness. He was human, with white hair and a while beard, trimmed and pristine. We wore formal robes and a light saber visible on his hip.

            The young Jedi-in-training was wheezing, trying to regain his breath and silence his runny nose. “Sorry, Master Yan. I only sniff just came from my sniff meeting with—“

            He smiled, knowingly. “Of course you did. Shall we pick a table and get some lunch?”

            Obi-Wan nodded, not feeling very hungry, but remembering what Master Windu had said about taking care of himself. “That would be fine.”

            They set their things down and went through the lines for food and drink. Obi-Wan, still used to mostly human food, strayed towards the breads and fruits, finally finding a vegetable soup-like concoction that looked somewhat appealing. To show a little variation to his companion, he chose a Silurian fruit juice mix. Master Yan, on the other hand, loaded up on pasta and hargamofs from the second moon of Oridon. The two nodded heads in respect before sitting, and Obi-Wan was sure to let Master Yan take the lead in discussion.

            Master Yan did not disappoint here, jumping into a question even before his first bite. “Tell me about yourself, Young Kenobi. I would like to hear more of your dreams.”

            He nodded, and opened his mouth to begin, when suddenly he felt a powerful sneeze coming on. He dropped his spoon in the bowl to rub roughly at his nose, to little avail. “Pardon… a mohhehehhh-mo-ehh-mom-eeehhhh-hehTpchoo! Momehhh EhhChoo! Hetchup! Sniff Moment-hupTCHOO! HetCHOO!” he managed, sneezing forcefully into his elbow rather than his hand.

            “Bless you, Young Kenobi. That is what they say when… goodness, are you all right, Young One?”

            Obi-Wan was caught helplessly in a sneezing fit, and suddenly realized he wouldn't be able to stop without a strong blow to the nose. And he with no handkerchief. “HepTush! EhhSHOO! HupTICHOO! Sniff!  Teary eyes looked up at Master Yan. Between the sneezes, he managed a very quick, “Excuse me.” He jumped from his seat and made it, sneezing at every few steps, to the nearest restroom. Toilet paper quickly served in place of a handkerchief and he blew as much as he could until the tickles died down. When he turned to look in the mirror, he was taken aback at his own appearance. His short ponytail had pulled out in the midst of running or sneezing, and his small braid needed to be redone. His face was a pale white, and his nose was starting to run again already. Tired eyes closed as he gave one more blow, a sigh, and then splashed his face with water. When he emerged, he felt a bit more in control, until he saw Master Yan writing on his pad with a look of disappointment on his face.

Obi-Wan returned to his seat with apologies galore.

            “It is all right, Young One. There are some things that may always be out of a Jedi's control. Now, tell me about yourself.”

            Obi-Wan smiled, glad to be given a second chance. He began the tale he had prepared, pausing every so often for a sneeze or sniffle. On the most part, he seemed on top of things. But on the inside, he was a mess.

            The questions and answers of the interview passed quickly, and soon he was bowing goodbye to Master Yan.

            “Let me give you two pieces of advice, Young Kenobi.”

            Obi-Wan nodded, almost scared to hear them.

            “First, your body is a temple, much like that of the Jedi. It takes care and commitment to keep it together, no matter how strong the Force behind it is.”

            Obi-Wan nodded, trying not to laugh or let on that he had heard it before. He wondered if Master Windu knew his metaphors were being used by others.

            “Second, is that I sense great things for you. I see you as a Jedi Knight, Young One. It may not happen this round, or the round after, but you will become a Jedi. Never lose faith in that.”

            But already his confidence had diminished. Maybe not this time? Very few young ones got masters on the first rounds of interviews, but thoughts of doing just that had never left his head. This was his dream, his passion, his reason for being. To fail the first time out…? “Thank you Master Yan. heh… ehhh… hetCHOO! heptchoo! EhSHOO!” He managed to catch them all in his hand, sniff, and continue, “For your words and the lunch.”

            They bowed goodbye, then parted ways. Obi-Wan returned to his room. With a quick look at his schedule, he saw that his next meeting was not until breakfast the following morning. That would give him some time to rest his 'temple' and hopefully get well before taking on the next interview. With any luck, he would nip this cold in the butt before it got too bad.



            Obi-Wan woke late that night, his whole body aching and his head stuffed beyond thought. He squinted at the clock to determine it was nearly midnight. Kala would still be up. Quickly, he placed a call to her on the panel by his bed.

            She answered. “Kala here.”

            “Kala sniff it's sniff Obi-Wad. Cad you do be a big favor?”

            Silence, then, “You sound like you're stuffed with cotton.”

            “I dow, sniff. A favor?”

            “Sure, buddy. What do you need?”

            He coughed to try to clear his voice. “Cad you sniff go over to the bost sniff add get be a… a heh… hehIHHSHH! hehCHHIISHH!” his sneezes were wetter, and stronger. “HehEHshoo! hehTISHOO! heTCHUM! Ehh.. eh-eh-ehTishoo! HetCHOO!” He rubbed his nose on his sleeve, having nothing else available but his bed sheets, and he wasn't quite that desperate yet.

            “Get you… what?”

            “A backage of hadkies?”

            “Handkerchiefs? Sure, anything else?”

            “Yes. Sub juice, add tea.”

            “Sure thing. Just bring it over to your room?”

            “If you could. I dod't thig I cad get sniff out of sniff bed right dow.”

            She cooed, “You poor dear. I'll be over in a few minutes.”

            “Thags a billiod, Kala.”

            “See you soon.” She hung up first and Obi-Wan rolled over, coughing from congestion.

He felt too weak to sit up to rectify the situation, so he just lay there, hoping to fall back to sleep to pass the time. “ehhh…hehh…” he pushed two fingers under his nose, pressing hard. The tickles backed off for a moment or two, then “ehhh, hehh…eeehehhhhh…ehEHSHOOO! HuptCHOO! Hetchooo! Hehtchooo! Hehh… ehhh…” he paused, eyes closed, chest heaving. Then the feeling went away. “Ug! Hade id whed thad habbeds.” He rubbed his nose on his sleeve again, noting that his sleeve was starting to get a bit damp. At this rate he'd have to change shirts before Kala got there.

            The door opened slowly. “Obi-Wan?” was her soft call as she scanned the darkened room for him.

            “Here,” his stuffy voice croaked, waving at her from bed. “Thags, Kala. Sniff, sniff, sniffffff! You're a life saver.”

            She put the juice and tea away then tore open the large pack of handkerchiefs to hand him one. “Sounds like you could use it.”

            He thanked her with a nod and blew heartily, feeling a bit clearer afterwards. “Thags.”

            She sat down on the edge of his bed, stroking his head gently. Her fingers caressed his cheeks, then made their way to the top of his head. “How did your interviews go today?”

            “Dot well,” he said softly, rubbing more at his nose. “Kebt sdeezidg. Uhh… I dod't feel so good.” He coughed and winced at the congestion seeping into plug his nose, ears, throat.

            She continued to pet him gently. Gently, she sifted out the longest strands of his hair to re-do his braid. He'd started it when he reached this level of his Jedi-to-be career, and said he would continue to have it until he reached full knighthood, however long it took. She laughed to think of him as an old Jedi knight, white hair, hell-bent on saving the universe, with a long braid running down to his waist. “When is your first one tomorrow?”

            “Da bordig.”

            “Then you need your sleep.” She tucked the blankets in around him and rubbed his leg soothingly.

            He coughed from the stuffiness and blew his nose again, a wet, messy sound that he was embarrassed to share with her. “Kala, you—“

            “Shhhh,” she said softly. “Just close your eyes and try to rest.

            “But you—“

            “Shhhh, I know, I know. I'll stay just until you fall asleep. I needed a break from studying anyway.”

            Seeing she was determined to stay, he sighed, closing his eyes and letting his body relax. When his nose started to run, it was Kala who reached out with his handkerchief and tended to it. “Thaahhh… eehhh hehEHshah! Hetchoo! Sniff, sniff! Thadgs, Kaya,” he said softly, on one occasion when he lay on the border between being awake and asleep.

            She whispered softly so as not to disturb his mind, “You're welcome, Young Obi-Wan.”


*                      *                      *


            “He was feeling no better when he woke the next morning. The heavy congestion lessened when he was more upright, but it caused his nose to run like an unattended hose. Though it meant he could think a bit more clearly, Obi-Wan wasn't too sure he cared for the trade-off. He Made sure he had three handkerchiefs on his person before heading over to the cafeteria for his breakfast meeting with Master Tala.

            He'd never met Master Tala before, even in passing, and wasn't quite sure what he'd been expecting. But when they met for the first time, he had to admit he certainly hadn't been expecting a woman. Least of all, a young and beautiful one.

            “Good morning, Obi-Wan. Sleep well, I hope?”

            He nodded, trying to keep his speaking to a minimum. “Yes, add you?”

            “Very well, thank you. You sound and look a little under the weather this morning…”

            He nodded again. “I hab a bit of a code.”

            “Ohh,” she felt his forehead. “I'm sorry to hear that. No fever, it seems. Do you want to cancel for the…”

            Obi-Wan vigorously shook his head no. “I'll be ok, if you dod't bide.”

            “No, I don't mind. Let us go in and get some food, then speak some more.”

            Obi-Wan picked the table, and sat down, blowing his nose as much as he could to clear it before she arrived. When she did, he stood politely and waited for her to sit first before he once again sat down. The series of quick ups and downs made his nose run all the more, and he found that he was holding his hanky to his nose more than food got to his mouth.

            “So, why do you want to be a Jedi?”

            It was blunt and fast. He reflected a moment before answering. “I wadt to do sobethig that helbs others. I wadt to brotect beoble frob evil. I wadt to bake a difference id da galaxy. Excuse be a secod.” He lifted the large handkerchief, unfolded it and held it ready. His nose tickled greatly, filling, burning. “Ehhh-hehh…” building, growing, yearning, “eh… ehhh… eh-eh-EHSHAHH! EpTchum! Eptshushh! huhShishhh! ehhTISHH! CHOO! Ehtchoo! Sniff! EhhTCHOO!” His face burned with embarrassment, and he kept his eyes closed still as he blew his nose to clear it a bit.

            “Bless you, Young One,” Master Tala said. “Are you certain you are well enough to—“

            EhhTISHH! HupTCHOO! HetCHOO! Huh-Ehhshoo! Herashhoo! Sniff! Uh, yes, Baster sniff! Master Tala. I'll be fide. Sniff! SNIFF! I wadted to be a Jedi to… to… ehhh… eh-HUSHOO!

            “Young Kenobi, you obviously—“

            EhhhTCHOO! HehSHOO!

            “—are in need of some healing or at least—“

            eeeehhhh… eh ehhh heh-hep…TCHOO!

            “—some serious bed rest. We can reschedule for another time if you wish.”

            He shook his head, blowing heavily until his nose was clearer. “By greatest apologies to you, Baster Tala. I didn't count on it being so strong. I'b better now. Please forgive be.”

            She smiled sweetly. “You're forgiven. But please, if you need to retire, just say so. I do not want you wearing yourself out, by any means. A Jedi's body is a temple, much like the great Jedi temple. It needs the same care and commitment, no matter how strong a Force may be behind it.”

            Obi-Wan had to fight off the laughter, covering his humor with a few coughs. “I understand. I'll sniff be in bed the rest of the day after by interviews.”

            “Good. Now, you say that you want to protect people from evil. What evil were you speaking of?”

            He shrugged. “There is always evil. We all have it inside of us. The dark side of the Force—all the masters and teachers, and even the ancient texts speak of it.”

            “But the Force is strong, and the Jedi continuum strong.”

            “Yes, but it is cobing. I can feel it is. Baybe dot until I ab an old man, sniff but ever sidce I was young, I knew that I would see it and be able to do sodethig agaidst it.” He left out the other half, that he felt it in him that one day he would somehow contribute to it… that was a part he always kept hidden, no matter how deep they looked. He'd been reprimanded for the dark spots on his mind when others tried to get deep inside, but he couldn't let the Masters know. “Add sniff, sniff given the chance to be one with the Force, to hold it and be it and ebrace it in every sense of honor, peace and justice is the sort of goodness that will, I know, win agaidst it. There is evil in so buch… a Jedi cad do sniff little, but I wish to do all that I cad.” He coughed and too the pause between questions to blow his nose again.

            “I see…” she said, looking a little shocked. “You have a very high opinion of yourself.”

            He shook his head. “I feel what I feel. I caddot deny what I see a hundred tibes sniff over id visions.”

            “I suppose not. So has the always been the way for you?”

            He nodded. “Eber sniff, sniff! Ever since I begad my traididg at age three.”

            “You have shown remarkable progress in scholarship, athleticism, and peacefulness.”

            “Thagk you, Baster Tala.”

            She chewed on her breakfast muffin and continued. “But I sense that you are not as calm and forgiving as you would like to be. Please tell me about this.”

            He sunk into his chair. He didn't feel well. He didn't feel up to explaining his faults. “I am not as peaceful as I believe a Jedi must be. When I see a wrongdoing or when I am done wrong myself, I get angry. And sometimes, I am not able to handle my temper through simple exercises. I realize I am only learning still—the path of a Jedi requires more than can be found in self-discovery.”

            Master Tala nodded. “But with walls to thick too break through—“

            “But bide are dot like that!” Good one, Obi-Wan. Now he sounded defensive and short.

            She looked mildly agitated. “I am pleased that you are comfortable with where you are, and at ease enough to be honest. But you will wait for a Master to finish before blurting out a reply, Young One.”

            He bowed his head. There it went. She would not look fondly at the interview, no matter how much better it got. Two interviews and already one was assured he would not become a Jedi on the first round, and the other was very displeased with his nature. There were three left, and two of them the hardest interviewers at the academy. “I'b so sorry. I abologize. It will dot habbed agaid.”

            She finished up her drink. “I think we're about done anyway. Thank you for your time this morning, Young Kenobi. I look forward to seeing you in front of the council in two days.”

            Obi-Wan nodded and stood politely as she stood and left. Then he fell into his seat, gulping down the rest of the warm, soothing tea and wondering how he could have ever been so stupid as to think he would become a Jedi. He was crazy. He rubbed at his nose, and got up to drag himself to his third interview, the one with Master Arnoch. This was to be his saving grace. If nothing could be established with this Master, he felt as if he were completely out of the game all together. From the age of three he had trained to become a Jedi, shirking traditional field learning, true friendships and relations with the farer sex, and a commercial profession. Becoming a Jedi was his passion, and what we wanted to do more than any of the alternatives combined. And now, after it all, he would be denied that, as well.



            He was to meet Master Arnoch in the common room, a popular place for those studying the ways to relax and get to know each other. There were tables and chairs arranged in odd configurations, and games of all sorts scattered about. After a few looks over the room, Obi-Wan spotted the Jedi Master in one of the side tables by the windows. Disconcertingly, the Master was staring directly at him, as if his locating abilities had been on test. Obi-Wan nodded in recognition and headed over, sniffing softly to hold back the runs later.

            “Master Arnoch,” he said with a polite bow.

            The Master was a Telaxian, a species with pale green skin, large floppy ears, bright blue eyes, a large nose, and both lungs and gills for taking in air. He sat back a bit to meet Obi-Wan. “Young One. Are you quite all right?”

            Obi-Wan nodded. He was sure he must have been looking worse and worse as the day went on. His nose, for one, was feeling the effects, sore and raw. “I, uh, have,”

            “Clear and precise answers please. No faulting.”

            Obi-Wan took a deep breath, “I have a code.” He pulled out his handkerchief to give his nose a soft blow to try to clear it.

            Master Arnoch pulled away. “You're sick?”

            Suddenly Obi-Wan felt horrible. “Um… yes… but—“

            “Why are you not in your room? Away from…” he trailed off, but his fearing expression explained it. “In your room resting?”

            “I'm all right. Add I brobise dot to get you sick.”

            He gave a disturbed look. “This is a promise you cannot make, but we will keep our distance. Still Young One, a Jedi's body is like the great temple. It takes care and commitment, even with the Force behind it.”

            Had it not been for just being scolded by Master Tala for interrupting a Master, Obi-Wan would have stopped Master Arnoch before he had the chance to finish the metaphor. It had been a nice piece of wisdom at first, but was now getting a bit annoying and tiring. “Yes sniff Baster Ardoch.”

            Master Arnoch winced at the stuffiness and made sure he was scooted back as far in his seat as possible. “So Young Obi-Wan, Master Jinn tells me he is not able to meet you here until later tonight. Will this be a problem?”

            “Dot a brobleb at all,” Obi-Wan snuffled around his handkerchief. “Thagk you for relaying the bessage for be.” So he faced Master Boyle next, rather than Master Jinn. Both proved to be equally trying and difficult. “ehh-heh…” he tried to hold back. He was not about to sneeze in front of a Master who was clearly less than pleased to be interviewing a sick student. Fingers pressed against his nose through the folds of his handkerchief, stifling the tickling sensation.

            “First,” the Master looked down at his pad of paper for reference, “is the matter of your past. Your parents are dead, your hometown destroyed, only a few still alive. And your temper runs high even now to think of this, doesn't it?”

            “I sniff sibly wish it had't habbed.”

            “So you trained to become a Jedi. Was this out of revenge or desperation?”

            The answer was probably a little of both, but he answered, “It had always beed a dreab of bide.”

            A nod. “But have you come to terms with it? Because my visions show me you will have to confront this again in time.”

            “I have ideed cob to terbs. It's the way the udiverse works.”

            The Master shook his head. “You do not understand my point. I see you have reached peace to an extent with it, but it will happen again to someone you will be close to, in the not so distant future. Will you be able to handle this way the universe works?”

            Obi-Wan narrowed his eyes. He'd learned long ago never to ask for specifics when the Masters told them of visions surrounding him. His aura was very easily read, he'd been told, his path already laid out for him with the proper number of challenging twists and turns, pleasures and disappointments. Many times they mentioned that parts of his life would be devastatingly difficult, even compared to what he'd been through before. Many times they hinted that parts of his life would repeat, perhaps even his demise itself would be part of the circle. Many times they tried to dissuade him from taking such an active path, knowing that there was nothing at all they could say to change his views on the subject. Still, it was the future, and Obi-Wan had learned long ago that to live in fear of his path was futile. He would make of it what he wanted and face what he had to when he came to it. “I will be able to sniff face it. I cannot chadge by dreabs sniff! sniff! and sniff passiods because they will be difficult. Addy sniff road id life will be difficult. I will face what I have to whed I cobe to it.”

            His reaction was noted in the small pad of paper and the Jedi Master moved on. “To the present, Young One. Your records are superb, and you are one the highest in all your classes, even meditation.”

            “Thagk you.”

            “So my question is, how much do you have to cheat to get there?”

            Obi-Wan was struck with a cliché but shocking speechlessness. After a few moments, he coughed to force his voice to work. “Ex… excuse be?”

            “Arranging sparring matches, kissing up to teachers, copying answers during an examination, cheat sheets, how much do you do, Young Kenobi?”

            He was simply disgusted at the prospect, and appalled that such a question would be asked of him. Is that what his appearance was? Is that what his hours and hour of solitary practice and study meant to the council? A fluke, a cheating fluke in a man destined to walk a hard path? He fought down his boiling blood and swallowed his anger. “I do dot sniff cheat id ady cabacity. I dever have, add I dever will.”

            “Then how do you explain your constant successes? After all, you're no Master Yoda. Those classes are meant for everyone to struggle in. And you hate failure, don't you?”

            “I struggle, I dod't dedy that.” He rubbed at his nose, which had begun to run from his trying to hold off tears. “But I work extra hard. I have do life outside by traididg. I bake by traididg by life, add it will be forever. I dever expect to be adythig but a Jedi or to do adythig id life.” He blew into his handkerchief to keep the tickles in his nose down.

            “Hmmm…” he looked cross, and suspicious. “We will see, Young Kenobi.”

            His eyes opened widely. “Thed you will see that I ab beig dothig but truthful, Baster Ardoch.”

            The Master said nothing but gave a nod. “And the future, Young One. What do your visions tell you of the future?”

            Obi-Wan sighed. “A great evil. By beig a Jedi Dight… By havig add ibortadt role id the safety of the galazy, of the udiverse. By fightig for freedob, with the evil, thed agadst it.”

            “You use this term of evil. At your age, Young Kenobi, such lines between good and evil are the easiest things to see. Now the Jedi and the Repbulic are strong, and evil is an asily applied concept to all who fall outside of these categories. But when you learn more… you will find that even friends can be enemies. Will you deal with this?”

            He shook his head. “Loyalty to the Jedi ways will decide by actiods. If I must raise arms agaidst a fried, I will.” His nose was tickling terribly by now.

            “It is easy to say, Young One. But almost impossible to do. Perhaps you are not cut out for this path you find yourself on.”

            He rubbed at his nose harshly, knowing the sneezes were to come soon. “I will becobe a Jedi Dight. Add I will live to fight add ubhold life add beace. I will be ode with the Force. I cad feel it.”

            A soft nod.

            Obi-Wan tried his best to hold them back more, but the tickling was growing too great. “Ehhh… hehhh… ehhhscuse… heh-be-hehIHHSHOO! uhhTICHHH! HeptSHCHOO!” He blew his nose, and noticed the Jedi Master pulling away from him and flinching at the sound of each blow. "EhhTISHHH! eeehhh.. eh eh ehUMPTSHHH! HetCHOO! EhhhSHOOO! IhhhSHOO! Sniff!"

            “This is all I wanted to discuss, Young Kenobi. Do remember your meeting with Master Jinn has moved to tonight. Good day.”

            Obi-Wan lowered the hanky to nod respectively. “Thadg you Baster Ardoch.” It had been a trying, emotional interview. Depressing thoughts of the past and the future, as well as suspicions about his validity and moral character. He was already a Jedi at heart… if he didn't make it… he wasn't sure what he would do, but it didn't look good. And now, two more interviews, with the two hardest.

            Obi-Wan blew his nose again than regarded his watch. It didn't hurt to be early to his meeting with Master Boyle. Tired and emotionally defeated, he pulled himself to his feet to go meet the man in one of the sparring rooms.


            Master Sio Boyle stood at the ready when Obi-Wan entered. The man had on the traditional sparring outfit, including mask, and brandished a light saber in one hand. “Good afternoon, Young One. Please, do prepare for a match.”

            Obi-Wan grimaced at the thought of being tested on his physical endurance while sick. But still, he knew it was pointless to argue; he was already fairly scared and intimidated by the man. “Yes Baster.” He hoped his nose could hold out. Thinking of his future, he let his fear and adrenaline take over his system. He dressed and tried hard to clear his mind. “EhhhTCHAH! hhehh… eehhh… HEHTCHOO! UHPTSHASHH!” He quickly reached into his pocket to retrieve one of the several handkerchiefs he had placed on his person. He picked up one of the Padawan sabers, switching it on, sniffing to clear his nose, and humming softly to clear his mind.

            “You have the sneezes today, Young Kenobi?”

            His mind again filled of his complaint. “Yes, Baster Sniff! A bit of a code id by… by… ehh… ehhhIHHSHAH! ehhhTSHISHH! Sniff! …by doze.” He rubbed his nose on the back of his glove, one of the few things he wore that was actually his.

            “That is unfortunate for you.”

            Obi-Wan wasn't sure what to reply to that. “I'll be ok. I cad still fight.”

            “If you say so… then let us begin.”

            Obi-Wan took in a deep breath. He discharged the light saber and concentrated on its power to lift it in a defensive position across his forehead.

            Master Sio Boyle took the offensive, as was customary of the more skilled, and came at him with a swing and a thrust, just barely missing his ear… probably on purpose.

            Obi-Wan pushed the Master's blue light away, then down and about with a twist, defending himself at the next attack with a parry and a jump to the side, giving himself a moment of bought time to sniff and rub his nose again against his wrist and glove. He would have liked to use the time to gain the offensive, but that was not to be.

            The Jedi Master came after him with a side swing, and Obi-Wan blocked but did not return. Then he attacked with another thrust aimed high towards the young man's neck and Obi-Wan was prepared for it, his beam of light flowing smoothly from the position of the block to a twirl and a twist that knocked the powerful light down and back. It was Obi-Wan's chance to take the upper hand and went for a diagonal cut with his beam of green, that was not only stopped but thrown back at him with more of an amused bounce than a push. He realized then that the Master had been purposefully taking it easy on him.

Perhaps it was because of the cold, but Obi-Wan did not think of that possibility. His rationale, in the split second that he had to formulate it, was that the Master underestimated his abilities as a fighter. Well, he'd show him. Obi-Wan leapt into a complicated thrust and parry advance that almost drew a series of circles about his face. The Master fought off each step, beefing up his own skill to reply with a combination of turns, cuts and thrusts. Obi-Wan fought each off as Master Boyle had just done, his eyes flying to slow down the motions in his mind, his mind overflowing with congestion and detail. In the end, it was just too much and he miscalculated a left parry by an inch to receive a sharp burst of fiery pain on the back of his hand.

            “Arahhh!” Obi-Wan yelled in defeat, his light saber falling to the floor as he clutched his wounded appendage and doubled over around it in pain.

            The Master was quick to come to his aid with a cool cloth and a healing touch which helped close the wound which, they found, was not at all deep.

            “Sorry, Young One. Excellent match, however. Especially for one in your position. You proved yourself well.”

            Obi-Wan shook his head. “It shouldn't have happened. How did I misjudge?” He refused to forgive himself for it. It was a horrible mistake, and one he never made.

            The Master took off his peripheral sparring clothing items and tucked his light saber beneath the folds of his robes. “Will you be all right, Young One?”

            Obi-Wan nodded, angry with himself. “I'll live.”

            “You need to learn to manage your failures, Young Kenobi. I outweighed you by skill and health. You fought a good fight.”

            He nodded again, still angry.

            “You know, Young One, I might have preferred if you had simply told me you were too ill to spar. You need to know your limits.”

            He sniffed, his nose running. “I could haddle it.”

            “Yes you could… but you shouldn't have pushed yourself as you did. Your body—“

            Here it came!

            “—is a temple, not unlike the great Jedi Temple. It needs care and commitment, no matter how strong the Force behind it is.”

            Obi-Wan couldn't hold back an eye roll. “I udderstad,” he said quickly.

            “Learning when not to fight but to run, hide or admit premature defeat is just as important as facing your greatest enemy. Remember to use this,” he pointed to Obi-Wan's head, “before your weapon.”

            Obi-Wan nodded. So that was what the test had been about. And he had failed, miserably. Softly, sadly, “I udder… ud… ehh…ehhhIHHSHOO! ehhhTISHH! Sniff! udderstad.”

            “But you did fight very admirably. Thank you for the match.” He bowed in respect to the young Obi-Wan, who quickly returned the sentiment. “See you in front of the council in a few days, Young One.”

            Obi-Wan nodded. “Thadg you, sniff! Baster Boyle.”

            The Jedi Master left him to his own devices in the room. A defeated Obi-Wan changed, resisting the urge to kick the light saber against the wall. He wanted to burst out into tears and curse himself. Not one of the interviews had gone well. He had known Master Boyle was to be hard, and yet still allowed himself to fall into the trap. He had given him the benefit of the doubt, but should have expected more. Next time, with Master Jinn, he would be on his guard and not allow a kind face or a smile to trick him.

            He had a bit of time until the meeting, but he headed back to the common room for a drink and some relaxing. He needed a good moment in the day very badly.


            Obi-Wan nursed his wound as he polished off a glass of water. He was waiting for his fifth and final interviewer, the dreaded Master Qui-Gon Jinn. So far, his interviews had been simply awful and he simply knew that this one would be horrible. Master Jinn could be dreadfully difficult. But he was prepared, or so he thought.

            “Good evening Young Kenobi.”

            Obi-Wan looked up to see Master Jinn in front of him. He looked much different from what he'd been expecting. The man looked old and wise, with a dignified stature. His features were large, his nose slightly bent, his brown hair tied back to his shoulders. He looked kind and at the same time, terrifyingly intimidating. Obi-Wan swallowed hard and stood to bow. “Baster Jidd.”

            They sat down together and Qui-Gon studied the young man for a moment or two before launching into the standard question, “You're sick, aren't you?”

            He nodded. “I have a code, yes. Sniff!

            “I'll try not to tire you out then. So, I'm your last interview, correct?”

            Obi-Wan nodded.  

            The Jedi Master chuckled. “So the pressure's on, hmm?”

            He nodded again.

            “Let me see… let us first discuss…”

            Obi-Wan held his breath. Anything but his uncertain future.

            “… the matter of your future. Where do you see yourself years from now?”

            Obi-Wan grumbled, preparing himself to give the same answers as he'd given the others. “I see byself studyig the Jedi ways, travellig, fightig for others. I see byself facig sniff the sniff evil out there, havig to codfrodt it and rise above it. I see byself as a Jedi Dight, fightig and speakig out for beace.”

            “How innocently put. Too bad that probably will not happen.”

            Obi-Wan grimaced. Why did he have to dash his hopes like that?

            “The amount of evil in the universe can never be stopped or won against. It's a futile effort. Evil is just too large. And you, you're only one against it.”

            “A Jedi cad be bore thad odly ode with the Force.”

            “If you can get that far. Many never do. Fate is a tricky thing, it feeds off our faults. What is your greatest fault, Young Kenobi?”

            He was hesitant to reply.

            “No need, I have an idea. Your greatest fault is not your anger, as many of the other Masters might have mentioned. No, I can tell it runs deeper within you. Your greatest fault is your fear of failure. It is your fear of not becoming a night, your fear of destroying the sacred, your fear of the future. I have something to tell you about this.”

            So this Master was good enough to see so deeply inside him. Already, Obi-Wan was frightened at what the possibilities might mean. He simply nodded, awaiting the words with dreaded anticipation.

            “Every one of your fears will come true. And you, little Jedi-hopeful, will be forced up against each one. And then what will you do?” He paused a moment with a smile. “What is your worst nightmare?”

            Obi-Wan could not move or speak; he was too terrified by the look in the Master's eyes.

            “I will tell you what a Jedi's worst nightmare is, then. To fail his student, and be forced to kill him.”

            Obi-Wan fought to hold back his emotions.

            “To live with a student for year upon year, growing past close friends. A teacher and his Padawan is a bond that surpasses blood even. You grow together and bring him up to independence and strength with the force. But if something goes wrong… the worst of it all is to have to face your student in true combat, knowing that you must run your handmade lightsaber through his bloody, loving heart. That, Young Kenobi, is your biggest fear, is it not?”            

            Obi-Wan's eyes teared up, but he blinked it back and swallowed all emotions he had. He would not let Master Jinn see him cry. He would hold it in until he was alone, in his room. It was bad enough that he had to look stupid in front of a man who obviously hated him, but to admit defeat and cry like a baby?

            “Young Kenobi,” Master Jinn said once he realized that the young Jedi-in-training would not be responding, “Do you know why I am asking you these questions?”

            Obi-Wan sniffed and cleared his throat, then spoke with a soft, stuffy, cracking voice to answer, “To test be.”

            Qui-Gon made no change in expression at all. “And how fair a test do you believe this could have been? No one could keep from exploding at such questions. No one could keep from feeling defeated, or as if I hated him. How fair is that?”

            A tear tore away and rolled down Obi-Wan's cheek, but he snatched it up immediately. He couldn't answer.

            “I did not ask these questions to test you. All they did was let you test yourself. I'll repeat: do you know why I asked you those questions?”

            Obi-Wan sniffed, pulling out his handkerchief and rubbing at a very tickley nose. “Do, sniff. I dod't… ehh… ehhTupchoo! HetCHOO! Huptchah! Hetchoo! Huptchoo! Herehhshoo! Sniff! Ehh… ehhh.. ehhh IHSHOO! EhhTchoo!

            “Good answer,” Master Jinn remarked, sitting back in his chair and waiting for the young Jedi-in-training's sneezes to end. Then plainly, he answered, “I asked them to be difficult.”

            Obi-Wan narrowed his eyes. “Why sniff, sniff, did you wadt to be difficult?”

            “Good question. I will answer that with another question, if I may. Did you expect to like me going into this interview, Young One? And be honest.”

            Obi-Wan paused, then shook his head no.

            “You thought that I would be…”

            Obi-Wan finished for him, “Difficult.”

            “Yes. And so I was. And yet you were prepared to come into this meeting and stand up for who you are, what you believe, and what you want. Yes?”

            “Yes,” he answered obediently, feeling as though he had just jumped through hoops and landed back where he started, with a headache to show for it.

            “Did you take the time to read my profile on that disk they handed you?”

            He shook his head. “I tried. Sniff. I begad to read it, but I wasd't feeling well add sniff accidedtally fell asleeb sniff before I could sniff, sniff, read buch of it.” He blew his nose wetly; he hadn't realized how much he'd needed to do so.

            “So you came in unprepared, ready to dislike me and do battle rather than give me the benefit of the doubt. That is either brave or stupid. How fair is that to me?”

            Obi-Wan looked down at the ground. “Dot fair ad all. I'b sorry—”

            Qui-Gon patted him on the back. “If you'll give me a moment, I'll tell you exactly what I am like. I am a Jedi Knight not just for myself, but for others. I am sensitive to every moment anything makes, from the wind to a murderer to a fellow Jedi. And I am a representative of the Jedi throughout the galaxy to help preserve peace and save lives. I travel to talk, and when all else fails, to fight. I fight not to win, and I fight not to hurt. I fight to save lives, to stand up for those who cannot fight, to preserve the quality of life for those who need it most—the galaxy's forgotten. I am a Jedi to make a difference, and to do so as peacefully and powerfully as possible. Does this sound of any interest to you, Young Kenobi?”

            Obi-Wan nodded vigorously.

            “Would you like a second chance at this interview?”

            Obi-Wan didn't need to think a moment before blurting out, “Blease, Baster Jidd?”

            Master Qui-Gon Jinn nodded. “Accepted. Here is what I'd like you to do. I'd like you to go back to your quarters, curl up under the covers and get some rest. Sleep for as long as you need to. And when you're rested, take a look at my profile, and that of the other Masters if you have not done so already. Then we will talk. Here, I'll walk you back to make sure you get there all right.” He stood up and adjusted himself, tunic and light saber in the right spots.

            Obi-Wan smiled. “Thadk you, but I cad madage od by…” he stood a bit too quickly, and felt blackness come over him. The next thing he knew he was falling weakly into Qui-Gon's arms.

            The Jedi Master chuckled and helped the young one be steady on his feet. “Like I said, I'll walk you back to make sure you get there all right.”

            Obi-Wan gave him a soft smile. “Thadk you, ehhh… ehhhTCHOO! Baster Jidd.”

            “Bless you, Young Kenobi.”

            They walked through the halls slowly enough for Obi-Wan to be at ease without getting winded, stopping occasionally as Obi-Wan blew his nose with concentration or came down with a fit of the sneezes.

            “Let me tell you something, if I may,” Master Jinn said, after one of Obi-Wan's particularly powerful fits.

            Obi-Wan rolled his eyes. “Dot agaid with the teble betaphor! Blease!”

            “Temple metaphor?!” Qui-Gon burst out laughing, stopping to rest a hand on the wall to steady himself. “They're not still using that one, are they? The 'your body is a temple' thing…”

            Obi-Wan smiled wearily, sniffling. “That's the ode.”

            “I used to get that at least twice a day if they saw me sick and out of my quarters. I still do.”

            Obi-Wan laughed, resulting in a small bit of coughing.

            “No, what I was going to tell you was a bit of a story. I was twenty-eight, and it was my first lone trip as a full Jedi delegate. I'd been rather stressed about the negotiations, and had very little sleep because I had to fly straight from a week's trip at Hoth, the ice planet. I was soaked to the skins, chilled, and too young to listen to my drowsiness when more important things were—bless you—my responsibility. So by the time I was sitting in the meeting with representatives from all around the galaxy, I'd developed a bit of a cold in my nose. And being young and rather head-strong, I'd not packed one handkerchief.”

            Obi-Wan smirked, rubbing at his nose.

            “So there I was, sniffling after every word that was said, mine or otherwise. I was the epitome of embarrassment, but couldn't stop sniffling else my nose would drip all over, and I dared not use my sleeves. So after an hour or so of this, the Queen literally stopped in mid discussion and said,” he cleared his voice to do a proper impression. 'We will stop for a few minutes for the young Jedi Knight to properly blow his nose.'”

            Obi-Wan laughed, then quickly smothered it. He'd laughed at the man; how disrespectful! “Oh, I'b so sorry!”

            Qui-Gon laughed and shook his head. “I was beat red with embarrassment. But I wouldn't be telling you this if I didn't want you to laugh. But just wait— it gets much better. As I said, I had no handkerchief, so I didn't exactly have anything to blow it with, and here are over a hundred delegates staring and waiting for a Jedi to empty his overflowing nose. So in the best stuffed-up voice that I could muster I whispered, 'I deed a hadky' hoping that the delegate beside me would hear and offer one. And at least thirty-five of them shoved handkerchiefs in may face, as well as a few who threw them at me.”

            Obi-Wan laughed heartily. “I would have died!”

            “I did!” he laughed, patting the young Jedi-in-training on the back. “Your quarters, Young Kenobi.”

            Obi-Wan looked up, startled to see that they were there already. The Jedi Master's story had done well to distract his tired body from walking. After such a nightmare as he had been through, he was actually sad to see it over so soon. “I'll get id touch with you toborrow, Baster Jidd.”

            With a respectful nod. “Take care, Young One. Until tomorrow.”

            Obi-Wan gave him a bow and went inside, not realizing until he was in bed how much he needed it. Every muscle in his body ached and his head felt heavy and full. Alone, he blew his nose until he was too tired to hold a handkerchief upright. Then he set it aside and sneezed freely, weakly, until he drifted off to sleep.



            He woke around two the next afternoon, feeling stuffy and sneezey, but a hundred times better for the rest.  After clearing his nose a few times as he read through Master Jinn's rather impressive profile, he called upon Master Jinn.

            “Qui-Gon here.”

            “This is Obi-Wad. Cad we get together id a few bidutes?”

            There was a pause. “Yes, that would be fine for me. I'll come by your room and we can take a walk or get a bite to eat. Al right?”

            “Souds good.”

            “Be right over.”

            Obi-Wan lay down on his bed to wait but promptly woke up to a soft, mental, //Obi-Wan?// Master Jinn hovered over him. “You did not answer the door for five minutes, so I let myself in to make sure you were all right. If you're too tired, I can return another time.”

            Obi-Wan shook his head and tried to stand up, finding that he was too weak and his head too dizzy. “Do. sniff, sniff, sniff I'b sniff ok. Sniff!

            Master Jinn took out his own handkerchief and offered it to the young man. “Here. Take it and blow.”

            Obi-Wan did as he was told, emptying his nose and giving a short cough or two. The blowing caused a bit of an irritation to his chapped, sore nose, and his nose began to fill with a strong tingling sensation. He held the handkerchief up in front of him as his mouth dropped open halfway and his eyes rolled back to close. “ehehhh…” it came weakly. “hehhh… ehh-eh-ehh-eh-hehITCHahhh! HerTshah! HetChishh! HepTSHHH! ChiSHOO! hehh.. ehhTISHH! HetSHahh! Sniff! HehIHHSHH! Hetchoo! hashoo! hahSHOO! Sniff! Sniff!” When he got all the sneezes out, he blew again, causing another slight tickle. “ehhh… hehSHOO! hehIHSHHH! heh… ehhh…” he froze, the sensation almost too much for him to bare as it filled both nostrils and pounded behind his eyes. His heart raced. “HET—uuhhhh…” it backed off. He rubbed two fingers under his nose to be rid of the feeling and sniffed again. Perhaps the man would not mind if he remained in bed for the interview.

            “I would not mind at all,” Master Jinn said in reply to Obi-Wan's thoughts. Qui-Gon pulled up fallen covers and tucked the little Jedi-to-be into his bed. “I'll make us both some tea and we can get to talking. Do you take sugar or honey in it?”

            “Hodey, blease. Add thags.”

            “It is no problem in the least. I'll return shortly.”

            Feeling a bit drowsy still, Obi-Wan supposed he might have to fight to stay awake.


            His eyes flew open, surprised that they had closed and he had dozed. “Sorry Baster Jidd.”

            After handing the steamy mug over to the young man, he tucked him in under the covers. Then Qui-Gon brought a chair over and crossed his leg with a sigh and a sip of tea. “So tell me, Young Obi-Wan, how are you feeling this afternoon?”

            “I'm all right. A little bore tired thad I thought.”

            He reached over and felt the young man's forehead.

            “Id's sniff jusd a sniff head code. I dod't have a fever.”

            Qui-Gon nodded. In truth, the young Jedi-in-training's forehead was quite warm, which accounted for the weakness and drowsiness, but if he wasn't being bothered by such symptoms he wasn't going to bring them to attention. “A day of bed rest before your judging will do you wonders.”

            Obi-Wan rolled his eyes. The judging was tomorrow! Standing in front of the council, being decided upon and scrutinized for all the he was- good and bad. They were already all against him… except perhaps Jedi Master Jinn. Perhaps. “Will you be there?”

            Qui-Gon smiled. “To speak in your behalf, you mean? My decision has yet to be made, Young One, but I promise to be there tomorrow.”

            Obi-Wan smiled back. Perhaps with Master Jinn on his side, he would pass after all. “Thadg you very buch, sniff,  Baster Jidd.”

            “Shall we begin the true interview now, Young Kenobi?”

            He nodded, getting comfortable with the tea and an extra handkerchief amidst his comfort of blankets and pillows. “Yes, blease.”

            “Let us begin with your academics. You seem very gifted in study, but I see you are more interested in being an active Jedi. While good thinkers and theorists will always be in demand, there will always be a place for brilliance in the worlds of delegations and negotiations. What do you specifically plan on pursuing in the future?”

            Obi-Wan had little answer. “I dod't really dow, sniff. I ab idterested id the idtellectual side of life, but there is so buch good to be dode with cobbod sedse and fighting for justice. I thig I would like to be able to do both. There is bore out there thad I dow of and I wadt to try it all.”

            “As for doing more than academics, how goes your sparring against your peers? I saw that at one point you were nearing championship level.”

            Obi-Wan shrugged. “I fide the cobetitions difficult to cobe with.” He held up a finger and raised his hanky as the presneeze expression crossed his face. “eehhh… huhmSHAHH! heeeh… hehhTCHOO! heehhChiSHH! heehhhTCHOO! Sniff! Hetch…HeTCHSOO! UhhhSHOOO! eeehhh…ehhTISHOO!” He blew a little at his nose. “Excuse be.”

            A nod. “Continue when ready. You were saying you find the competitions difficult to cope with.”

            Obi-Wan was glad for the reminder. “Sniff! Well, fighting is reserved for life or death situatiods. But here we are challegig each other.”

            “But without much practice, how can we ever be expected to perform properly and skillfully when a life or death fight comes about?”

            Obi-Wan shook his head. “I like bractice, amodg studet and teacher, or beers sniff! peers. I jst dod't like the tourdabedts. They seeb to be for idstadt gratificatiod and bleasure. But if sniff bractice is ibortadt, losig is just as good as losig.”

            “I'm not too sure I agree with the extremity, but I see your view, Young One.”

            “Sorry, Baster Jidd, Sniff!

            Shaking his head, the elder man replied, “No Young Kenobi, do not ever be sorry for stating your view, especially about me. It is the true mark of intelligence to think freely for oneself. And I highly value second opinions, whether they differ from mine or concur.” He laid a hand on the young Jedi-in-training's leg. “Never stop giving your opinion. Never stop thinking your own way—remember this when you get a Master finally, Young Kenobi. Do you understand?”

            “Yes, Baster Jidd.”

            “Good lad.”

            For some reason, Obi-Wan felt quite at ease with the man, and particularly warmed and proud at the encouragement. He was a good lad. He smiled widely.

            “So how have you been finding your other interviews, Young Kenobi? Are there Masters you've clicked with well?”

            Obi-Wan wasn't certain if he should be entirely truthful.

            “Truthful would preferable, Young One. But lie to me if you must.”

            Obi-Wan blushed. “It's odly that they have dot beed goig well. I'b afraid I will be refused a Badawdshib sniff, sniff Padawanship at the congregation. Add sniff  Ib afraid they will rib be abart with idsults. The Basters hate be.”

            “They cannot possibly hate you as much as you think. Worry, not, Young One. It will go as well as you believe it shall. Be optimistic and hope for the best, and nothing can bring you down too low.”

            “Yes Basteeehhhh…eehhh-hehh…” he quickly took up the handkerchief. “EhhhTCHOO! uuhhhTCHOO!” He blew heartily. “Excuse be.”

            “Quite all right. I fear you'll start losing your voice if I keep you talking for much longer. But I do want to know if you have questions for me.”

            Obi-Wan nodded. “Odly ode sniff!” He rubbed at his nose. “Your write-ub says you have heighted berceptiods add idsticts Sniff! Sniff! Excuse be. Sniff! Cad sniff you tell be about theb bore?”

            “Empathy for every living being. Care for every breath and every movement. Life is precious, Young Kenobi. And in life, there is nothing you can trust more than the very basic movements of your own judgment- your instincts. I pull my hair back always to increase peripheral vision. I keep my eyes open to catch every bit of motion, so that I might deal with it subconsciously or consciously. It is not only helpful in fighting, or negotiations, but through anything. I can tell how you feel just in leaving myself open to you. I believe there is nothing we can react to if we do not first understand it fully. And life deserves our best, Young Kenobi. Every bit of it deserves our respect.”

            Obi-Wan sat wide-eyed. He had already decided that he would love to train under such a Master, but was certain Master Jinn had many more exciting prospects than him, certainly after all he had been through with the Master. Still, it didn't hurt to wish. That was, if he made it so far as to require one. With the Masters as they were and the council as it was… that wasn't looking likely, especially not on the first try like this.

            Master Qui-Gon Jinn smiled to himself to read the young Jedi-in-training's thoughts. He would be all right, just as long as he shirked this head cold of his. But something told him the worst was yet to come. He put down his tea cup and spoke softly, “If that is all, I believe I shall be going. Thank you for taking the additional time for the interview, Young Kenobi.”

            “Thagk you for the secod chadce, Baster ehh…Jidd ehhh-hehIHHSHOO! ehhTChoo! UhhCHAH! UhhSHISHH! Sniff!

            “I shall see you tomorrow in front of the council.”

            Obi-Wan nodded.

            “And I promise to be there, on your side, Young Kenobi. Have no fear or worry, simply present yourself as you are and you shall have no problem.”

            Obi-Wan sighed to hear the reassurance. While the advice was helpful, the fact that Master Jinn would indeed be fighting for him was wonderfully comforting. “Thagk you, Baster Jidd!”

            The elder man bent over and re-tucked young Obi-Wan into bed. “Now get some rest and take care of that head cold. You need to be as well as possible tomorrow.”

            A nod.

            “Until tomorrow.”

            Another nod, and a replied nod from Master Jinn. Then the Jedi Master left. Obi-Wan closed his eyes happily and fell into a deep sleep.



            Visions ran rampant in the form of nightmares that night, as Obi-Wan's fever rose while he slept. Delusions of the council's decision, the numerous pairs of wise eyes staring him down, the Masters angering him past tolerance, his dreams dashed. Obi-Wan tossed and turned in fits of rage and sadness, drenching and tearing at the sheets. He cried out in pain, falling to his knees in his visions, holding his head in his hands. The Masters continued to stare, and tears rolled down his cheeks. They kicked him out of training all together, forever, cast out to the world with no friend, no trade, never to become a Jedi. Never.

            Obi-Wan in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. He opened his eyes to find Master Qui-Gon hovering above him. Started and confused, his body pulled back, aching terribly, banging against his headboard and wall.

            Master Qui-Gon pulled back also, slowly holding a hand up. “Shhhh,” he whispered. “You've had a high fever. It just broke moments ago. You'll be all right, Young Obi-Wan.”

            Tears rolled down his face from the shock, following the paths others had taken when he had been in his fevered delusions. “Why are you here?” he croaked hoarsely, trying to collect himself.

            “I thought I might come to check on you and you were far into it by that time. I cooled you as best I could.”

            This was all moving too fast… what had happened again? “I… uh… I… eehhhFFIISSSHH! CHISHHH!” he sneezed, spraying out uncontrollably as his weak body shook.

            Qui-Gon pulled out his own handkerchief and, with soft, smooth movements, held it to Obi-Wan's nose and mouth. “Blow gently.”

            The young man did, amazed at how stuffy he was for having not sneezed in hours upon hours. He coughed and blew again, and again, until he felt a little better and his tears had ended as well.

            “Better Young Obi-Wan?”

            A weak, timid nod. “T-thagk you Baster Jidd.”

            “You may want to try a change of clothing, and a change of sheets as well. Do you feel strong enough to go get changed on your own?”

            He was unsure, but nodded anyway.

            “I'll help you up and over, then change your bed for you, all right?”

            He nodded weakly. Was the room spinning on purpose?

            A hand was held out, taken, used for leverage. Obi-Wan's sweat-damp body was weak, unstable, and broke out into a rash of Goosebumps and shivers as the cold air of his room hit him. Before he knew it, the Jedi Master's kind hands were guiding his wet clothes off, and handing him fresh ones. His head was spinning, but he managed the chore of dressing, while Qui-Gon set to work on the bed on the other side of the room, to give him respectful privacy. Then Obi-Wan's tired, shivery body crawled back into bed. His nose was running, but wiped by Qui-Gon so gently that he could hardly feel it, and when he sneezed, the handkerchief was there to catch it and for him to blow into afterwards. Obi-Wan felt himself getting more and more sleepy and the gentle, reassuring, comforting stokes from Qui-Gon were helping to contribute. After a while, he thought he might be able to fall back to sleep all right.

            “Getting sleepy?”

            Obi-Wan nodded.

            “Then I'll go if you like. The worst is behind you now.”

            He yawned, but managed, “Thagk you, Baster Jidd.”

            Qui-Gon tucked the covers around the young man and left the handkerchief on the pillow beside him for easy access. “If you need anything, lad, call me.”

            He nodded, yawning again.

            “Sweet Dreams, Young Kenobi.”

            Obi-Wan was already drifting off to sleep.




            Huh…huh…” Obi-Wan sat panting deep, heavy breaths into an unfurled handkerchief. He was half bent over in the chair, legs spread, eyes tight in concentration. While he had woken up feeling much less fatigued and much less congested, his nose had not stopped running or tickling for an instant. He sat outside the council chambers now, nervous and worried, and trying to control “huhh… uuuhhh…” the light tickle in his nose. “ehh-heh-uhhh-hehuh-“ they sped up, and he gripped the handkerchief in front of him more tightly in preparation. “EhhTISHHH! EhhUHSHHH!” tumbling forward with his nose in the cloth. He sniffed and wiped his nose for what seemed to be the hundredth time since he woke. But even as those finished, it seemed his nose wanted more. “EhhIHTSHH! huhCHISHH!” He blew wetly and rubbed again at his nose.

            “They are ready for you Obi-Wan Kenobi,” one of the young Padawans said as she opened the door for him.

            Before he stood, he let yet one more sneeze tumble out, “EhhPISHHH! HetCHISHH!” He blew his nose and tucked the handkerchief away. Then he gave himself one last look over before heading into the council room.


            He had been there once before when he began his trainings, but remembered it to be bigger and more impressive. He supposed to a three year old even a neat broom closet must look like a palace. All the highest and most dignified Jedi Masters sat in tall chairs in a circle, with tall windows directly behind them, revealing all to the world. He felt small, and vulnerable, and found himself looking about for the friendly face of Master Jinn to be reassuring. He turned, sniffing, looking all about the room… but still did not see the Jedi Master. He fought down his anger and gave them all a smile, knowing he had to concentrate on the good. He closed his eyes. Obi-Wan took a deep breath to clear his mind. He felt his soul reach out toward the Force, and when he opened his eyes, everything seemed to be going better.

            “Young Obi-Wan Kenobi.” Master Windu announced to them all for those who might not have known him as well.

            He bowed respectfully to his front, side, back, other side, then again to the front.

            “You stand here to ask to be raised to the status of Padawan, do you not?”

            He nodded, stating as clearly as possible. “I wish to learn the ways of a Jedi in training with a Master and apprentice hood.”

            Master Yoda took over. “Explain why to consider you we should.”

            He nodded again. “My grades in classes are outstanding. I devote full effort and power to my academic study, especially in science and politics, though I have a special passion for history. Sniff!” He could feel his nose tickling again, and only hoped to be able to hold off. He hurried. “My training with bare-handed katas, sword, and of course traditional light saber are progressing at a fast rate, and I enjoy the peace of mastering the arts as well as the challenge. Sniff! Sniff! On this same rate, I have grown stronger, more peaceful, and more in tune with the spirit of the Force. I uhhh…ehhhhh…” wiggling his nose to hold it back, he realized the tickle was too strong already. He pulled out a clean hanky from a pocket amongst one of the layers of tunics and robes, and unfolded it just as the sneeze began to build. He covered his nose and mouth with the cloth as he held up one finger to ask for a moment. “EhhHMPH! UhhTSHUMPH! hehCHUFF! Sniff!” he dared not blow his nose in front of the council, but he sniffed strongly enough to clear his voice. “Please sniff excuse me. I wish to pursue an active Jedi hood, learning how to live in the universe as a Jedi, and how to use my skills for good and peace.” In truth, he had no more to offer but his goodness and his promise to use the Force for the best of peace.

            They said nothing, but some gave him nods, and others looked him over with scrutiny.

            “Thank you, Young One. We hope you continue to show such promise, whether you are an initiate or a Padawan.” Master Windu stood and bowed, and Obi-Wan returned the action, then kept his head up as he left.

            It was not until he reached his quarters that he let out the anger and tears. “I sniff can't belieehhh… hehIHSHOO! hetCHOO! Sniff! believe they… they-ehIHSHHOO! huhIHSHOO!” He fell into a chair, sneezing freely between words. “They were so sniff, snuff, sniff! cold to me!” He looked over at the half assembled light saber that sat in his prized spot on the shelf. It was the first thing he saw when walking into the room, the last thing he saw when falling to sleep, and the first thing his eyes fell upon when opening in the morning. A light saber he simply knew he would have and use as a Jedi. He could feel it. And yet… “EhhTISHOO! HeptCHOO! uuhhh… hehhUHHCHOO! Sniff! SNIFF!” they denied him the ability to become one. Maybe it was all just a dream; maybe it wasn't really happening. He closed his eyes tightly, trying to clear his mind. “EhpTISHH! hehh… ehhhUHSHOO! ehhTISHHUH! Sniff! hehTCHSHHH! Sniff!” he sneezed wetly. He opened his eyes back up. It was really happening.


            Angrily, he kicked off his boots and went over to the buzzer. “Master Jinn?”

            A moment or two, then, “Yes, Obi-Wan?”

            He tried to control his bitterness, as he knew a Jedi must. “Why were you not at the council meeting? You promised you'd be there at my side.” He sniffed, not sure what else he could say.

            There was a pause. “We must talk. But I have a matter to deal with first. I shall be there within the hour.” He paused again. “You will not be too angry with me to not see reason, I hope?”

            Obi-Wan wanted to say a cold, 'we shall see' but instead he said what he knew the Master wanted to hear. “No I will not. I shall be here.”

            They ended, and Obi-Wan fell onto his bed to wallow in self-pity until Master Jinn came. He was saddened, angry, depressed. A series of small errors, and some misinterpreted answers was all the interviews were. Some meant to test him, others meant to pull him down, and others just probing him. How could he possibly tell what was real? How could he possibly be expected to progress, or to show his bright side in the face of all?

            Before too long, there was a buzz at the door. The young Jedi-in-training waited a moment out of spite then pulled himself up and over to the door. He swung it open to reveal Master Jinn… but not as he had expected him.

            The Jedi Master stood gripping the doorway as his chest heaved. His dignified look was completely overtaken with a weakness that was all too familiar to Obi-Wan. His pallet pale, his eyes worn and unfocused, his mouth hanging open. His other hand held a thick, white, and terribly used handkerchief up to his nose. “Ugmph! Cgxst! UhMustah! Uhh…” he regained his breath for a polite, “Excuse me, Obi-Wan.” he rubbed at his nose and tucked the handkerchief away. “Am I to be permitted to sniff enter or are you still too angry with me?”

            In the few seconds it took for Qui-Gon to sneeze, Obi-Wan had gone from bitter to sympathetic to guilty. “Oh Master Jinn! I'm so sorry! Oh, please sniff come in and sit down.”

            Qui-Gon nodded to accept the offer and took a seat in the chair closest to the bed where he had spent much of the night before nursing Obi-Wan through the wild throws of a fever. In fact, Obi-Wan had just pulled him out of bed for this, but he could hardly say anything; the young man seemed to feel badly enough about it already.

            “I… gave you my cold. And then I snapped at you for—“

            “Quiet, Obi-Wan. None of this sniff is your fault.”

            “But it is—“

            ehhh…” another, cleaner handkerchief was pulled from somewhere on his person, and quickly escorted to his nose. The strong, powerful, knowledgeable Master façade fell once more to helplessly give way to the sneezes in his nose. “huhGmph! Uhtchmm!” His other hand reached up to swoop back his long hair from his face and then signal for Obi-Wan to wait one more minute. He then blew gently into the handkerchief in a great flood of relief and lack of congestion. “Please sniff do pardon me.”

            Obi-Wan shook his head. “No pardon necessary, Master Jinn. It is I who am sorry.” He sighed and looked around his room. Where would he go once he was kicked out? Where could he turn when he was turned away?

            “I have many sniff matters to discuss with you, but given my current state and your own, I should think it best to continue another day.” In truth, he felt much worse than he was letting on, but he would never let Obi-Wan know. “But I do extend sniff my apologies for not being present this morning. sniff, sniff. I had given you my promise, and then broke it. I assure you it will be the last time for that, My Padawan.”

            Obi-Wan froze. Had he heard correctly?

            “That is, if you'll take me as Master. I know,” he laughed, “I'm not the sniffle greatest to look upon right now, but I favor our connection and it is a bond I would like to see grow.”

            Obi-Wan couldn't speak. He couldn't move. He sat dumbly, staring at the Master Jedi, trying to make sense of it all.

            Qui-Gon smiled and pulled a clean hanky out from beneath his robes. He leaned forward to wipe the young man's nose for him. “Forgive me for being too mindful. It was neglected and running, Padawan mine. Assuming,” he rubbed his nose with the same handkerchief, then brushed his hand over the young man's short hair, “assuming sniffle that you accept me as your Mas… Mahhh… 'scuse mehh hehh…” the breaths were ever so soft. Very discrete and polite as a Jedi Master should be about getting ready to sneeze. The large, powerful nose was buried in the latest handkerchief and the soft, caring eyes shut.  hehGUMph! eggHguh! EH-Husheh!” Congested, he snuffled out a soft “Bardod,” then set to work with heavy blows to the nose. When he was done, he lowered the handkerchief, cheeks still a bit red from embarrassment.

            Obi-Wan's mind raced. Should he ask if the Master wished to retire, or return to his own quarters? Should he offer some tea or juice, or at least another hanky? Obi-Wan's eyes met those of Qui-Gon. For a moment and a half, there was complete silence. Each man read the other, delving deep down the way that they knew would forever connect.

            eh-heh-TISHEESH!” this time it was Obi-Wan's nose that was the nuisance. He went for his handkerchief only to find Master Jinn had his own at the ready, pressed against his nose.

            “Clear your nose. Then we will both take a small nap. I feel exhausted.”

            Obi-Wan smiled behind the folds. “Yes by Baster.” The words fell from his lips before he could stop them, and he realized he must soon get used to saying them. Then he blew until his nose felt better.

            Qui-Gon smiled back. “It's been took long since I've heard those words, and I could not imagine a better Padawan to hear them from.”

            Obi-Wan guided the Jedi Master to his own bed. He knew how horrible the man must be feeling and wanted to do all he could. Qui-Gon lay down on the outside, on his side, facing out. His handsome, sullen face sank into the pillows and a sudden, relaxed expression passed over his face. Obi-Wan smiled and pulled the blankets up, tucking them around his new Master. Making sure extra hankies were under the pillows and a glass of fresh water stood on the bedside table, he joined the man in bed. Obi-Wan crawled over carefully to the inside and lay above the covers so he wouldn't violate any privacy.

            hegisht! eh-xshah!” Qui-Gon's powerful body shook at each, and he groaned to rub at his growingly tender nose. This cold was becoming much more of a pain than he had anticipated. Having the sneezes was one thing, but the fatigue, soreness, and general sense of 'blah' was already wearing thing. Still, he had an image to maintain and he was determined to keep a good face on and stay in control. “eehhhISHeh! hehEishgx! Uhh… sniffle!

            “Here, my Master.” Obi-Wan offered a clean handkerchief and with it, a reassuring hug.

            Qui-Gon neither accepted nor shied away from it. His body was stiff, in control for the most part. “I'b sniff I'm all right, Obi-Wan.” The half-hearted reassurance did as much as lift a bit of the worry, so he settled in for the nap. Obi-Wan snuggled up to the Jedi Master like a little lost cub and draped an arm over him in loose hug before closing his eyes.

Suddenly another sneeze came over him and he let it out half into his arm and half against Qui-Gon's back. “hehHEHTCHISH! Sniff! Sorry,” he snuffled, feeling soft waves pass through him.

            “Don't worry, Padawan. I'll be here for you always.”

            Obi-Wan could sense the hurt in his master's voice and made no hesitation this time to tighten his arm around his new Master in a secure hug. “And I, for you, Master.”

heh…” the Master's breaths began to deepen and quicken. Obi-Wan readied for the inevitable. “hehehshish! hehgish! uhpisho! Sniffle, sniffle.

The young Padawan did nothing save tighten the hug, holding the man securely as he shook with sneezes. He then stroked the man's cheek in a way that told him he'd be there until the man awoke. “Sweet dreams,” he whispered.

Qui-Gon, slipping into sleep, flashed a soft smile before sending over their slowly-growing bond, //And to you, Padawan mine.//