Title: Scars of the Heart Author: devilinthedetails Characters: Qui-Gon Jinn; Obi-Wan Kenobi; Bant Eerin; Tahl Genre: General, Friendship, Hints of Romance Summary: Tahl won't open her heart to Bant, and Qui-Gon is determined to change that. Healing Wounds Obi-Wan had gone down to the Temple Archives so Qui-Gon was alone in the common room of the quarters he shared with his Padawan when the alert that announced a visitor chimed. Rising from the sofa, he pressed the access panel to reveal Obi-Wan’s Mon Calamari friend, Bant Eerin. “Bant.” Qui-Gon invited her in with a smile. “Come in.” “Thank you, Master Jinn.” Bant’s wide eyes flicked about the common room as she entered, the door panel closing automatically behind her. “If you’re looking for Obi-Wan, I’m afraid he’s gone down to the Archives.” Qui-Gon knew it would do no good to attempt to contact Obi-Wan to inform him that Bant had arrived to visit him. Jocasta Nu ruled her Archives with such an iron fist that nobody dared to keep their comlinks anything but off when in her domain of studious silence where technological interruptions were met with stern lectures and cold stares. “You are, of course, welcome to wait for him to return or I can let him know that you stopped by to see him when he returns.” “It’s not Obi-Wan I was hoping to speak to.” Bant appeared almost anxious, and the sudden suspicion that some of the moisture clinging to Bant’s beige robes wasn’t the dampness of a recent dip in the Temple’s lake but a nervous sweat flared in Qui-Gon’s mind. “It was you I was hoping to speak to if you have the time.” “Certainly I have the time.” Qui-Gon laid a gentle hand on her tense shoulder, trying to set her at ease. “I always have time for you, Bant.” “I have need of your guidance.” Bant twisted at her robes, a sure sign of adolescent discomfiture across species. “I know I should look to my Master for counsel, but...” “Any Padawan may seek out the counsel of any Master at any time,” Qui-Gon reassured her, noting inwardly that his own headstrong apprentice had the habit of seeking out Yoda for advice that would contradict his won seemingly for the sheer joy of being contrary. “I’m honored that you feel comfortable seeking my advice, Bant.” Sensing that this would be a long conversation best conducted with warm mugs of a soothing, herbal beverage in hand, he added, “I was just about to make myself a pot of Gatalentan tea. Would you care for a cup?” “That sounds perfect.” Bant was opening up–emerging from her shell–at even the promise of tea. As they stepped into the small kitchenette Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan could use when they didn’t want to head down to the Temple refectory, Qui-Gon gestured for Bant to slip into a chair tiny table that could accommodate two beings with elbow room and three in a pinch as he filled a kettle with water and placed it on the stove to boil. While he waited for the water to boil, he removed two clay mugs from a cabinet and tucked tea bags scented with many of Gatalenta’s most distinctive herbs and aromas into them. Once the kettle came to a hissing boil, he poured the water over the tea bags and carried the mugs over to the table where Bant was waiting for him. “Tea is ready.” Qui-Gon slid a steaming mug across the table to Bant as he took his seat across from her. “Now why don’t you tell me how I can help you?” “I sought you out because I have a question about my Master that I can’t ask her.” Bant stared into the dark depths of her seeping tea. “I know you’re close to her, so I hoped you might be able to tell me what I’m doing wrong–why she won’t trust me and open up to me.” “You must understand that it isn’t anything that you’re doing wrong.” Qui-Gon took a deep breath, inhaling the rich, herbal scent of Gatalentan tea, before trying to explain. “It’s simply something–some pain buried inside her that she might not even want to acknowledge–that makes it difficult for her to trust and open up to anyone. Her blinding on Melida-Daan left many wounds on her that haven’t healed yet, I’m afraid.” “Wounds I can’t heal?” Bant’s Mon Calamari eyes were wide as the oceans of her homeworld. “Perhaps some of them.” Qui-Gon lifted his mug to his lips and sipped, reflecting on how it had once been his own unhealed wounds caused by Xanatos’s betrayal that had made him rebuff Obi-Wan, keeping the eager, brave boy who had become his erstwhile Padawan at arm’s length until he could no longer deny Obi-Wan’s courage and integrity, the fundamental traits that distinguished Obi-Wan from Xanatos. “Perhaps some of them nobody–not you, not me–can heal. Perhaps some of them only she can heal. Perhaps some of them only time can heal. What I do know is that there are some we can heal through patience and forbearance. Tahl needs you to be patient with her. Can you do that for her, Bant?” “I can.” Bant’s tone was soft and serious. “I promise I’ll be patient with her.” “Very good.” Qui-Gon nodded his approval of her pledge. “I’ll speak with her about how important it is that she learn to trust you and open up to you.” “That’s more than I could ask for. Thank you.” Bant seemed to glow at this, and, after that, they made companionable conversation about Bant’s progress in her training until they had finished their tea, at which point, Bant rose to take her leave. Bant had barely left and Qui-Gon begun to clean the mugs when Obi-Wan entered their quarters laden with an imposing stack of holobooks. “I hope you left some holobooks in the Archives, Padawan.” Qui-Gon’s glance rose from the mug he was washing to the pile of holobooks Obi-Wan had unceremoniously dumped on the table nearest the entrance to their quarters. “Jocasta Nu would hunt me down to slit my neck with her lightsaber if I didn’t.” Obi-Wan sniffed and must have breathed in a whiff of Gatalentan herbs. “Did you have Gatalentan tea without me, Master?” “Yes, I regret to inform you that I did.” Qui-Gon assumed a mock somber voice as if imparting grave news on his apprentice. “And you didn’t save me any?” Obi-Wan asked with more than a trace of indignation. “It would’ve been cold by the time you got up here to enjoy it.” Qui-Gon chuckled. “I could’ve made it iced tea and enjoyed it very much, Master.” Obi-Wan sniffed again. “Was Bant here?” “Yes, she was.” Qui-Gon nodded. “And you weren’t going to tell me about that either, Master?” Obi-Wan shook his head. “No.” Qui-Gon tapped his apprentice’s wrinkling nose. “I wanted to see if you could sense she was here.” The way Qui-Gon could always sense Tahl’s presence, and Tahl could always sense his...The idea was disconcerting, and to distract himself from it, he went on, “She was seeking my wisdom, Obi-Wan.” “Seeking your wisdom?” Obi-Wan echoed with unmistakable surprise. “Seeking my wisdom.” Qui-Gon arched an eyebrow. “Is it so impossible for you to believe that someone might seek out my wisdom, Padawan?” “I plead the seventh.” Obi-Wan raised his palms in surrender, referring to the amendment in the Republic’s constitution that allowed a being to remain silent rather than to admit to anything incriminating.