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After having spent the entire night watching his son sleep, Xanatos was now nervous as the city-planet of Coruscant was mere hours away. He hadn’t been to the Republic capital in more than twenty years; not since he left Qui-Gon and the Jedi behind. If not for Obi-Wan, he may never have returned.
“What’s wrong, Father?,” came Obi-Wan’s soft, core-accented voice.
Xanatos whirled around, not having sensed his son’s approach. “You startled me, Ben,” he told the young man. “I wasn’t expecting you.”
“I noticed. I wanted to surprise you so I was shielding my presence,” he informed his father.
That statement piqued Xanatos’ interest immediately. It wasn’t unusual for such a young Jedi Padawan to be able to hide his presence in the Force, but it was highly unusual for one so young to do it successfully, or for any significant length of time. In this case, as he thought about it, Xanatos realized he hadn’t actually sensed Obi-Wan’s presence on the ship for the last few hours. That development would need further researching.
“Tell me, how long have you been able to shield yourself for such a long period of time?,” Xanatos asked conversationally.
Obi-Wan shrugged. “As long as I can remember. Master Yoda had always worked with me on strengthening my shields. He told me it was important for a Jedi to be able to shield his presence and his thoughts,” he volunteered.
Xanatos wondered why Yoda himself would take on the task of teaching a child such an advanced technique. Learning to shield thoughts began at a young age, and was a common practice. However, cloaking ones Force signature wasn’t a skill that was needed often, and when it was, the duration of use was usually rather small. It was meant to give a Jedi Knight the time he/she needed to make a quick escape. If he had interpreted Obi-Wan’s words correctly, he’d been learning to completely cloak his presence in the Force since he was a child. It was yet another mystery that would require further investigation.
“Well, it seems that your skills are far beyond those of your age-mates,” he stated confidently as he clasped Obi-Wan’s shoulder.
Again, Obi-Wan shrugged. He seemed totally unaware of his own strength in the Force. Xanatos knew his son was powerful, he could feel that power radiating from the teenage boy every time he was near. The lingering question seemed to be where that strength, that strong connection to the Force came from.
“We’re preparing to land at the Temple,” Qui-Gon informed his apprentice and Xanatos.
Xanatos’ apprehension at being back at the Jedi Temple had sky-rocketed the moment they entered the atmosphere of Coruscant. He suddenly wished he still had a lightsaber in his possession. For all he knew the entire Jedi Council was waiting for them at the landing pad, just waiting to strike him down for his long ago betrayal.
“Jedi do not seek revenge, Xanatos,” Qui-Gon said from his position next to the younger man.
“Stay out of my head, Jinn,” Xanatos snapped sharply.
“Perhaps you should tighten your shields,” was the calm reply from Qui-Gon. “You’re broadcasting rather loudly.”
Xanatos turned quickly face Qui-Gon, his sapphire eyes blazing. “Perhaps you should refrain from spewing your inadequate teaching…” He started to say, but stopped when he caught the look on Obi-Wan’s youthful face.
“This is neither the time nor the place for this discussion. I apologize for my behavior, my son,” Xanatos said to the boy.
“As do I, Padawan. I offer no excuse for my behavior,” were Qui-Gon’s quiet words to his student.
Obi-Wan accepted their apologies. “Maybe we should exit the ship, Master. I’m sure the Council is anxious for our report of the situation on Praxus.”
Both Qui-Gon and Xanatos were proud of Obi-Wan’s actions. The young man was mature beyond his years; far more mature than either his master or his father.
“You’re absolutely right, Padawan. Let’s go,” Qui-Gon said as he headed for the exit.
Obi-wan followed dutifully, but Xanatos remained stationary. His feet refused to carry him from where he stood.
“Father, aren’t you coming?,” the young man asked.
Calming his nerves and clearing his mind, Xanatos slowly moved forward. “Yes son, I’m…I’m coming.”
The three of them exited the ship, Qui-Gon leading with Obi-Wan and Xanatos trailing behind. They could see Masters Yoda and Windu waiting for them at the opposite side of the Temple landing pad.
Coming to a stop in front of the two senior members of the Jedi Council, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan both bowed in respect. Behind them, Xanatos’ eyes were riveted on the two Jedi Masters. Mace Windu didn’t look any older than when Xanatos had last seen him, but Yoda was certainly showing his age. The small green Master seemed frail, and tired.
“Old and tired I may be, Xanatos, but frail I am not,” Master Yoda spoke, startling the tall man.
Xanatos, his eyes suspiciously moist, moved around Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan and came to kneel in front of the little Master. “Forgive me, Master. I am careless in my thoughts these days,” he told Yoda.
Yoda’s clawed hand moved to rest on Xanatos’ broad shoulder. “Forgive you I do, youngling,” Yoda said quietly. “Good it is to see you again, Xanatos.”
Qui-Gon was stunned at the reception his former student was getting from Yoda. The little Master almost seemed happy to see the dark-haired man. He shifted his gaze towards Mace Windu, hoping to see at least some small measure of censure where Xanatos was concerned. But he saw none.
Mace stepped forward and extended a hand towards Xanatos. The younger man stood from his kneeling position and gripped the offered hand, his nervousness having abated completely during his short exchange with Yoda.
“Welcome home, Jedi Renashaii,” Mace said, his words bringing twin looks of shock and disbelief to the faces of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan.