Title: De-Cease Author: ardavenport Timeframe: pre-Episode I, pre-TPM, JA, AU Genre: Drama, Angst Characters: Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi Keywords Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi, madness Summary: There's always a way out. Notes: This story is a continuation, with the author's permission, of LuvEwan's poetically angst-filled Cease. I thought of the title and I had to try it. A follow-up Saga story, Erase, has been written by LuvEwan. Disclaimer: All characters belong to George and Lucasfilm; I?m just playing in their sandbox Jedi patience is legendary. Qui-Gon is legendary among Jedi. He has pushed back the despair of uncertainty to wait and watch, his eyes and hands still searching for, still needing the sustenance of recognition. His daily routine is that of his Padawan, of bathing and feeding, trimming of hair and nails, massaging limbs out of their clinch only to have them curl up again against the pale torso. Even after the last flurry of tests, Qui-Gon imagines a twitch of hand, a fluttering eyelid, some little peephole out of Obi-Wan's waking nightmare, so that his Master can see inside. Even after so many months, he still probes for any response, a tiny crack in the rigid walls of catatonia that imprison his Padawan's mind. He never finds it. He would trade whatever status he has as a Jedi Master for only that. He will. The patience of the Jedi Council is not legendary. They want him to move on. Go. They gently suggest that he leave his Padawan in the care of doctors and impersonal care-givers and a barren hospital room. Those carefully-worded, formal 'suggestions' tighten in his throat. But his revulsion is not for sensible advice of the distant Council, but for himself because for some fraction of a second he pictures himself accepting it. He knows that distance will only initiate his own slow deterioration, a drought of even the trickle of hope that he lives on now. But if he stays, Qui-Gon wonders how long he can hold off that inevitable decay, before the work of the unseen horrors that consumed his apprentice drag him into his own form of depression and madness. The door to their hospital cell opens. Footsteps and rustling layers of fabric enter. Qui-Gon looks up. Dr. Jraye stood before him, a strange look on his wrinkled face. Hope? Was that what it was supposed to look like? Qui-Gon's hand, his fingers, extend toward his Padawan without touching him. A tall being stood next to Jraye; he/she/it is mostly humanoid wearing layers of blue veils hanging down from the head and the shoulders of a sexless body. The tattooed face is harsh and grave with fleshy jowls. And the eyes. . . . the eyes are perfect and featureless and white. OOOOOOOOOIOOOOOOOOO The eyes have expanded, become the whole void that he curled up in. It has lost all its edges to press in and smother him with infinite, white distance. The meaning of Master and braids and sleep and one. . . . one. . . .one have faded into wisps of memory that he still grasps for. It was creeping into him. The white slowly invaded, replacing him cell by cell. When it was done, there would be no sleep, no shelter, no sweet darkness where the eyes couldn't see. He tried to cover himself with those few remaining rags of words with their fading meaning, but they crumbled into dust, into nothing but more white. He stared down at the marks on his hands; they were scabbing over, frosted with white. What were the cuts for? It was so important, but he couldn't. . . . one one one A spot. One little black spot marred the terrible, merciless void. He gasps with relief. He can't remember how he knows what it is, but some primordial reflex of his body drinks it in, the sensation of knowing that the predator has moved on to a different meal. The eyes were looking at something else. Not at him.