I'm glad you guys like the rewritten first chapter!
Of Moments of Insanity
Obi-Wan walked the hallways, his hands shoved deep into his pockets. He'd only gone a little bit before the nervousness had kicked in. This feeling that he wasn't alone – that someone was watching him, following him somehow. His feet carried him by a group of Knights; Obi-Wan didn't bother acknowledging them, not even when they broke into whispers behind him. As he stepped into the lift and turned he was surprise to find the group gawking at him.
Perhaps he should have bowed?
The doors slid shut and the lift took off, quickly taking him towards the safety of his room. He didn't know why he thought he'd be safe in his quarters but he did. Obi-Wan shifted uncomfortably as the feeling lingered.
Force! It made no sense! He was clearly not being followed, yet still-
Obi-Wan let out a hiss of breath as a flash of black streaked across the windows of the lift. He jerked away from the glass side and stared at it, eyes wide. The only thing he saw was the mixture of his reflection and the side of the Temple. As the doors to the lift open Obi-Wan swiftly made his way to his room. He locked the door behind him and nearly collapsed against it. The Initiate ran his hands through his hair, finger nails scraping across his scalp. He clasped them together and rested them on top of his head, pressing his neck against the coolness of the door.
Maybe it was all the stress? He closed his eyes and tried to center himself. After some work Obi-Wan managed to release his feelings of anxiousness into the Force…only to let out a pitiful groan when he realized the feeling did not follow them.
"What is wrong with me?" Obi-Wan growled impatiently, bringing his hands to rub his eyes. Ever since the meditation exercise earlier he'd just felt like there was someone constantly breathing down his neck. Watching everything Obi-Wan did – stalking him. He groaned and banged the back of his head against the door. "I'm losing my mind!"
'I wouldn't say that.' Obi-Wan's body flattened itself against the door at the sound of the voice, his hands flying from his eyes to his lightsaber, shakily holding the ignited blade in front of himself. But there was no one there. Obi-Wan deactivated his lightsaber and threw himself onto the bed. He spent the rest of the night with his face buried in his pillow.
What was wrong with him?
The next day classes flew by in a blur. Vaguely Obi-Wan recalled at some point his friends worrying over him. He'd given them some ridiculous lie before escaping to his next class. Other than that he'd been left alone. At least he thought he was alone. The feeling had yet to leave him. If anything, it had grown stronger. The presence seemed more pronounced. Obi-Wan skipped dinner entirely and sat in his room, staring at the same data pad about Yuili Yuili the Jedi philosopher, pretending (and failing) that everything was fine until night fell. Than he had fled the room.
If the feeling of being watched wasn't bad enough in the open, Obi-Wan had discovered it was suffocating in small areas. It was as if he could feel the other presence standing behind him, watching everything he did. Obi-Wan was seriously beginning to consider the idea that he was actually going crazy.
His feat carried him down the hallways with a will of their own. He tried not to think about anything but Obi-Wan's mind kept returning to the feeling that surrounded him.
They said that if you were crazy, you couldn't know you were crazy. Yet Obi-Wan was pretty sure he was losing it. The feeling was literally everywhere. He'd even skipped his shower today. And that voice…it was a male's voice. Completely unlike Obi-Wan's own – he could have sworn a man was in his room with him. Obi-Wan let out a frustrated puff of breath before deterring into a small vending area. He stared at the brightly lit machines, wishing he had brought his ID card with him. Something hot sounded good.
Qui-Gon made his way towards his quarters, trying to restrain his frustration with Mace. The negotiations were failing. The negotiations he was supposed to be at. Not that Qui-Gon didn't believe Master Rewi couldn't handle the situation. That wasn't it at all. It was just that Master Rewi was rather young and inexperienced. The Master glowered as he walked. Yoda and Mace would pay for grounding him like this. He wasn't quite sure how yet, but they would. Movement to his left caught his attention and Qui-Gon's steps slowed to a stop.
The Initiate from before stood in a small eating area, staring at the drink vending machine with a look of lamentation.
"Do you ever sleep, Initiate?" The boy stiffened and Qui-Gon winced. That had come out harsher then he meant it to.
"Yes." The boy answered after a moment. The lie was blatantly obvious in his voice and Qui-Gon looked at him with hooded surprise. A blush rose up the boy's neck and cheeks, stormy blue-grey eyes flickering to down to stare at the tiled floor. Qui-Gon slipped his card into the vending machine and ordered a tea. Sending the Initiate a short glance he quickly made the order for two.
"Do you take cream or sugar?" The boy looked at him confusion. "In your tea."
There was a long pause and then, "Just cream."
The doors of the machine opened and Qui-Gon picked up the teas. He handed the lighter one to the boy. He took it hesitantly and then muttered a thank you. An amused eyebrow rose as the Initiate downed half of the cup in one gulp, clearly wincing as the heat of the liquid went down. A content sigh escaped the boy and Qui-Gon felt the edges of his lips turn up in a smile.
"Feel better?" The boy looked up in surprise, as if he'd forgotten Qui-Gon was there. He licked his lips quickly before nodding. "What's your name?"
And with that, the Initiate that had hounded his thoughts had a name. Qui-Gon rolled the name over in his mind, slightly surprise when he realized he'd heard it somewhere before. Most likely at one of the Initiate fights but still, he'd ask Mace about him in the morning.
"Hello Obi-Wan, my name is Qui-Gon Jinn. And I owe you an apology." That certainly caught the boy off guard.
"Yes. I do." The Master sighed gesturing towards the sitting area. He made his way towards an overstuffed chair and sat down, waiting until Obi-Wan followed his example to continue on. "I shouldn't have acted the way I did with you that night on the balcony. I…was upset about something else and I took my anger out on you. It was unfair of me. And I caused you harm. That is totally unacceptable."
Obi-Wan frowned and glanced down to the bruise easily displayed by his night shirt. It was an ugly, angry bluish-brown color, physical proof of his lasp in control. It had haunted Qui-Gon from the moment he had first seen it. The boy returned to his study of his tea and Qui-Gon watched in mild fascination as the Initiate's faced transformed, his lips taking a sharp frown as his brows furled. The expression somehow made Obi-Wan looked both older and younger simultaneously, narrowed eyes seemingly staring through the cup in his hands and beyond it.
I'm being forgotten again, the Master noted with no small amount of curiosity, what could he possibly be thinking about?
The tea was welcome warmth to Obi-Wan's icy hands. The temple hallways were always chilly but at night it was doubly so. A shudder that had nothing to do with the cold ran down his spine as he fought to ignore his instincts. They were proving untrustworthy. They would lead him to believe that at this moment someone was standing directly behind him yet the reflection in the window clearly showed that no one was there.
…was he mad? Obi-Wan decided he had to be. What should he do? What could he do? If he told anyone what would happen to him?
The sound of the Master's deep voice brought him out of his thoughts. The Initiate blinked and found with no small amount of alarm that the Master watching him with that unnerving intensiveness again.
"I'm sorry, what?" Obi-Wan asked, nearly slapping himself at how dumb he must sound. It seemed that the Master was always there to encounter him at his worst moments. Qui-Gon frowned and repeated his question.
"Do you accept my apology?"
Obi-Wan stared at him surprise for a long moment, still taken aback by the fact that he wasn't getting scolded again and nodded before dropping his gaze to the cup in his hand, watching the small tea leaf particles float around in the murky brown liquid. He wondered when he could leave without seeming rude.
He looked up at the Jedi Master and froze, the tea flying from his hands. Some part of him registered Qui-Gon's hand flashing out and catching the cup before it could spill much, but Obi-Wan was far to captivated by the reflection in the window behind the Master. A black haired man stood behind him, his hands resting on the back as he leaned forward. Obi-Wan blinked and he was gone.
"-Wan?" Shaking himself slightly he tore his glaze from the window and found Qui-Gon staring at him worriedly. Blushing heavily now Obi-Wan took the tea from the Master and apologized quietly. "Are you alright?"
"I just got a little dizzy; I guess I'm just really tired." The look in the Master's eyes sharpened and Obi-Wan fought the urge to shrink back at the pure intimidation that seemingly radiated from the man. Clearly, Qui-Gon Jinn was not a man who tolerated being lied to.
"You do seem to enjoy late hours." The Jedi Master's words were slightly clipped. "Have you always been so night oriented?"
"Ever since I was a child." Obi-Wan answered truthfully; glad he did not need to lie further. He sighed and shifted the cup in his hands. "Some of my earliest memories of the Temple are of being awake in my bed in the Crèche. I just can't sleep."
Qui-Gon made a humming sound in the back of his throat before taking another sip of his tea. He placed the cup down on a side table before continuing his questioning. "Is that why you wander the hallways?"
Obi-Wan nodded. "Better than sitting in my room with nothing to do. Besides, sometimes it makes me tired." Well, that was a half-truth. Rarely did the Initiate ever feel the need to sleep any more.
He shook his head after a moment. This night was proving to be more and more unbelievable as it went on. Here he was, explaining his sleeping habits to the very Master he had been trying to avoid for the past few days. His eyes found the small pool of tea that spilled from his cup and silently cursed.
Would he ever manage to not look like a fool in front of Qui-Gon Jinn?
'Aw, don't be so hard on yourself.'
Obi-Wan couldn't stop the strangled sound that escaped his throat. He stood quickly, spilling more tea as he did. Qui-Gon was watching him intently again.
Oh Force. He knows! He knows something's wrong! Panic erupted inside him and Obi-Wan edged around the chair. He couldn't know! Obi-Wan refused to let him know.
"I should go." Obi-Wan croaked out and he nearly bolted for the hallway, thoughts whirling with panic and fear. He had almost reached it when Qui-Gon's voice called him to a halt.
"Obi-Wan," Slowly, the Initiate forced himself to glance back. "Are you sure you're alright?"
"Yes, Master Jinn."
Obi-Wan nearly stumbled again as the voice echoed through his head but he saved himself and strode determinedly out of eyesight.
If he was going to lose his mind, it wasn't going to be in front of Qui-Gon Jinn.
"Obi-Wan Kenobi? Why the sudden interest in an Initiate?" Mace asked as they took a morning stroll through the Temple hallways. Qui-Gon shot him a irritated look, not enjoying the smug look on the other Master's face, but he refused to even acknowledge what the dark skinned man was hinting at. There were not enough words to properly phrase how badly he did not want to traverse down that particular pathway of conversation.
"Mace," He said darkly, "I came for information, not to be gloated at."
"I'm sorry my friend, truly." Mace rested a gentle hand on his back. "It's just curious that you would inquire about that particular Initiate. You see, we've just recently begun reviewing his file."
Qui-Gon felt his eyebrows rise in surprise. The boy was under review? What could he have possibly done to require a full Council review? "What has he done?"
"Nothing like what you're thinking, Qui-Gon. It's simply because of his reputation." At the other Master's blank look Mace sighed. "Qui-Gon, this is why it is important for you to spend more time in the Temple. You have got be the only one who hasn't even at least heard about it. It first started almost a year ago. Reports starting coming in about seeing a human male Initiate roaming the halls at night. Since then he has gathered quite a myth, they've even given him a name: The Sleepless One."
Qui-Gon snorted. "What a ridiculous name."
"I know." Mace said in soft agreement, nodding to a few groups of free standing Jedi as they passed them, "You can blame Knight Hil'lk for the name and most of the rumor mill around it though. You know him, such an imaginative lad."
"Mm," Qui-Gon did indeed know the young Twi'lek Knight; he'd even had the displeasure of working a few missions with him. "Imaginative wouldn't be quite the word I'd choose to describe him." Next to him, Mace shrugged a small smile on his lips. "Kenobi is popular, then?"
"Well, I suppose you could call it that. I doubt Obi-Wan is even aware of the hold he has over the upper Jedi. The fact that he usually avoids anyone else out at night only adds to his appeal." Mace snorted. "Some of the younger Padawans believe he's a ghost."
"How did you find out who he was?"
"We started reviewing the security vids. For the last four months he's been out every night, almost to dawn."
Qui-Gon frowned. The boy wasn't kidding when he said he hardly ever slept. The look on the Initiate's face as he dropped the tea flashed through his mind and Qui-Gon suddenly found himself angry on his behalf. "You've known this for a year and you're just now acting?"
Mace threw him an annoyed look at his accusatory tone.
"In case you've forgotten, Qui-Gon, the Jedi Council runs the entire Order. We are quite busy." An irritated silence fell between the two friends as they walked. After a moment Mace let out a sigh. "If you're still interested, we've found nothing out of the ordinary in his files. Average student; excels in languages and histories, a bit behind in mathematics and political science. With the exception of being bumped up to Saber III class, Obi-Wan's right where he should be for his age group."
He waited for Mace to continue but the Council Member sighed before coming to a stop. He nodded towards one of the many windows that over looked a garden courtyard and Qui-Gon stepped forward so he could get a better view. It took him on a few seconds to pick Obi-Wan out of the line of bodies, his body moving through the martial form with practiced ease.
"That's it, Qui-Gon. Besides a few minor discipline issues here and there, nothing out of the ordinary at all. Frankly, we're stumped."
Qui-Gon gave his friend an incredulous stare for a moment, then; "Have you tried asking him?"
"Master Yoda wants to wait until the time is right. You know he's going to be very pleased when I tell him you inquired about Obi-Wan."
Qui-Gon fought the urge to smack his friend, aware that the Master Instructor from the class below was watching them intently. Mace waved at her cheerfully before leading them on.
He was never going to hear the end of this.
The shower was hot and it felt wonderful. Obi-Wan had fought the urge to for as long as he could, but after the Forms class he needed a shower. The odor of a twelve year old boy could be a powerful thing and he had no desire to be called 'Stinky-Wan' ever again. Yet even now Obi-Wan was aware of the uncomfortable feeling that someone was watching him. He wanted to dally under the hot water for a longer period, but the ever present eyes kicked his modestly in drive and he cut it short.
Obi-Wan froze as he stepped out of the shower. There on the ground, spread out like a human body, were his clothes. Obi-Wan fought to control the fear that had erupted in his chest at the sight and side stepped the clothes, quickly exiting the room. He was barely dry as he threw a new set of clothes on and fled. He stood in the lift, shaking from both the cold and fear. He hadn't remembered putting his clothes like that. No, no. He knew he hadn't put his clothes like that. Obi-Wan felt a hard lump develop in his throat.
Without warning the lift buttons erupted into color, blinking random and forming strange patterns. Obi-Wan stood stock still, staring at the blinking buttons, literally feeling the blood leave his face. Slowly he closed his eyes and made himself count to ten. When he opened them again, the only button illuminated was the one he had pressed.
Obi-Wan had to force himself to look away from the consul and step from the lift as it came to a halt. He was vaguely aware that he was shaking. There existed this constant fear, just on the verge of his mind. No matter how many times Obi-Wan tried to do the calming exercises he was taught, it always remained there, growing as each new strange thing happened.
Obi-Wan's feet took him on a path that was only vaguely familiar to him and before he knew it, he had found his way back to the Master's wing. He passed the vending area from the night before and Obi-Wan knew he had to go, least he encounter Master Jinn again. Yet he couldn't bring himself to turn around. He was afraid to stop moving forward, as if by looking behind him he'd come face to face with his discomfort. He forced himself to stop walking. He had to leave this place before he got into trouble. Obi-Wan squeezed his eyes shut as he made himself turn around.
This is crazy!
"Open your eyes." Obi-Wan commanded himself. Yet he made no effort to do so. Obi-Wan tried again. "Open your eyes, this is stupid."
Obi-Wan utterly froze, every muscle in his body locking as the Initiate was suddenly aware that something was standing in front of him. He could feel hot breath on his face, smelling slightly of some sort of spice. He could even feel the heat radiating off the body in front of him. Obi-Wan let out a muted gasp as he felt something grab his hand and in shock his eyes flew open.
He found himself staring at a blue tunic, decorated with silver inlays. Slowly, Obi-Wan brought his eyes to his hand. It was clasp in the grip of a much larger, tan one. A hand that he could see through.
'My, you are a flighty one aren't you?'
The unadulterated terror Obi-Wan felt at that moment was unlike anything he had ever experienced before. He stared at the iridescent hand, unable to do anything else, as his mind erupted into full blown panic. What was happening to him? He'd gone so mad he was hallucinating! No, no, no! Obi-Wan shook his head as an even greater fear filled him. He wasn't going mad, no this was all real! The world spun around him violently and Obi-Wan could feel himself swaying.
'Idiot! Breathe!' The voice hissed. Obi-Wan stumbled back a few feet, his hands flaying about in an attempt to find the wall. No sooner had he found it, it disappeared and the world tilted dangerously. Suddenly strong hands were supporting him and a much more commanding voice filled his ears.
"-eathe, Obi-Wan! Breathe!"
As if some spell had been broken he could feel himself breathing greedily. Almost instantly the presence of the cool oxygen righted the world and Obi-Wan could literally feel his senses coming back to him. The worried face of Qui-Gon Jinn swum into view. But he wasn't alone. No, standing behind the Jedi Master stood a tall, irritated looking man. He leaned down and Obi-Wan heard himself croak in fear as the man passed through Qui-Gon and they came face to face.
'What did you think you were playing at, kid?'
Qui-Gon stared nervously at the pale boy in front of him. The boy was breathing again - thank the Force - though they were short, shallow takes. From his grip on his arms, Qui-Gon could feel the fine tremors that rocked Obi-Wan's body.
Powerful relief struck him that he had decided not to go back to bed. Qui-Gon didn't want to think about what could have happened if he hadn't sensed the Initiate's presence at the door. It was pure luck that he was awake in the first place. He had awoken with a powerful craving for tea and as he made it, Qui-Gon became aware of a seemingly stationary Force signature in front of his door. Vaguely recognizing the signature and curious of who could be standing at his door for so long at such a late hour he'd open it. Imagine his shock when Obi-Wan collapsed into his home.
But why he had not been breathing was beyond him. What was evident was that Obi-Wan was completely terrified. Of what, Qui-Gon had no idea. To his horror, the boy stiffened in his arms and then went limp, his eyes sliding shut. For a moment the Master struggled with the sudden dead weight and awkward hold, before hefting the boy up into his arms. Qui-Gon stormed to the nearest lift, declaring an emergency lift straight to the Healing wards – no stops whatsoever.
What could have possibly scared him so?
…And the plot thickens. What do you think?