Summary: Buffy and Qui-Gon discuss the nature of attachment, love, and the Jedi Code. One Shot.
Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars or Buffy. Oh, if only, if only...
WARNING: Contains possible spoilers (huge) for Periculum. (If this is the way I decide to go.) And yeah, a lot of musing about the Force is to be expected.
On the hills of the planet Telos, the sun drifted low towards the horizon. It's soft fading light covered the landscape of waving grass with a soft golden glow. In the far off distance, small domed buildings dotted the plains. Their windows were lit from within by glowpanels and cast a bluish tint on the long grass stems and gray ferrocrete walls. It was a quiet place, peaceful and Buffy Summers-Skywalker felt herself drifting off in meditation as she sat cross-legged next to her Master.
But her mind was not at peace, thoughts scurried across her quiet still pool of concentration like water skitters. Disrupting the surface and leaving long ripples of troubled contemplations. It had been nearly two weeks since she'd seen her Master Qui-Gon Jinn. He had been sent by the Council to investigate escalating troubles on the Outer Rim and seek out the truth behind the disappearances of more than a few Jedi. Buffy admitted to being lonely without him, missing his sharp wit and keen insight. She had tried to emulate him while he was gone, still herself with patience and listen to the call of the Living Force. Sometimes, in moments of deep meditation she would reach out into the stars, attempting to locate him and the bond they shared. Sometimes, she tried to do the same for Anakin but without much success. Her time on Coruscant was limited and the majority of her teachings were centered in the Hidden Jedi Enclave on Telos. She had not seen or heard anything of her young brother in months. Sometimes, she desperately wished to, but as always the Jedi Code lingered in her mind. There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge,
There is no passion, there is serenity,
There is no death, there is the Force.
Buffy recited those words, hoping that they would calm her mind as they sometimes did. She had missed Qui-Gon a great deal and wanted to succeed in this training exercise. She often pondered the meaning of the Code, being that they were the opposite of her own philosophy when she had been a Slayer. At first, she had disregarded them, wanting to focus only on what she could learn from combat and grow as a warrior. She hadn't wanted to fail again. That time felt far away now, even if it had been only five months since the death of the Zabrak Sith Lord on Naboo. Due to her age, she was extremely old for a Jedi apprentice who had just come to the Force, and lack of experience in the alien galaxy, the Jedi Council had adopted a wait and see approach. They split her time between training with her Master and receiving standardized Jedi training with other Masters at the Enclave.
At first, she had resented her exile to Telos. Hating her separation from her adopted sibling, hating that she could not protect him or guide him. She still disagreed with their decision to separate them and she knew that her few times on Coruscant were cleverly scheduled to keep the two of them apart. Buffy understood that the Council had separated them so that their training would not influence each other and so that Obi-wan would not constantly turn to his old Master for guidance. She accepted that they had wanted Qui-Gon to focus his teachings on her, without the distraction of Anakin. She felt this was unfair to both her and her Master, but Qui-Gon did not complain. She wondered though, why he didn't simply disobey. Buffy knew that the Jedi were unlikely to change, the Council would not renege it's stance about attachment and her Master had a long history of defying the Council, choosing to do what he deemed best rather than listening to their wisdom. It was a stance she generally agreed with. So, why doesn't he?
Buffy knew she could demand to see her brother, but that it would be pointless if she did. She was a student here, her path guided by learning and understanding. She was not in a position to make demands. Besides, reflection had taught her that it would be childish and petty if she did. Buffy sighed.
"I sense questions in you, my very young apprentice."
Buffy's eyes opened, startled and she glanced at him in surprise. "How did you know?" She'd been certain that he was deep in meditation. Or, she supposed, possibly asleep. Sometimes, it was difficult to tell. That's why we rely on the Force.
Her internal, new Jedi voice told her. So that we might sense what our other senses cannot feel.
When had it been that the Jedi Masters had invaded her brain?
"Perhaps, it was your fingers stirring against the blades of grass." Qui-Gon said blandly, opening his eyes. They slid towards her with a twinkle. Buffy swallowed, her hands had been playing with the grass. "Or perhaps, it was the sound of your boots twitching on the soil." Buffy reflected that she did have a tendency to scuff her soles against things when she was upset. "Or maybe it's your distress bleeding off into the Force. It could be any or all of these things."
Okay, he was definitely amused and as usual he was spot on. Buffy was always discouraged by his awareness of things around him, it made it almost impossible to hide, deflect, or lie. She couldn't keep her feelings from him, he carved through everything and brought her straight to the heart of the matter. When she was with the Jedi, particularly him, she found herself faced with her flaws. They sometimes appeared unfeeling but they were kind in their way, insightful, and knowledgeable. Qui-Gon especially focused his efforts on compassion towards others, he taught her how to use her bonding abilities to help those around her grow and in doing so, how that helped her.
"Nothing's wrong exactly." She said, after a moment's silence. There was nothing wrong with contemplation and rashness could often lead to disaster. This didn't mean that a Jedi could not let their impulsiveness be a strength, it was in it's way, simply that they must also consider the world around them even as they leapt into the fray.
Linking her fingers together in thought, she stared out across the open plains below them. Tame Boma, large reptilian beasts the size of earth cattle wandered across the grass, feeding on the thick waving stalks. The soft breeze brought earthy scents to her nose, the smell of dirt and pasture coupled with manure was oddly pleasing. It brought her closer to the world around her. Opening herself to the Living Force and feeling the life around her had given her new appreciation for the outdoors. She enjoyed meditating outside, instead of in the confines of the Enclave. She had no natural affinity for animals, but she didn't shy away from them now as she had before.
Buffy contemplated asking her question as she watched the Boma wander by below, their thick legs and claws pounding against the soil. The setting sun gleamed off their beaded green and yellow hide, turning them golden. The Telosians raised them for their beautiful hides, milk, and the meat the males provided. Boma meat was considered something of a delicacy in the Core Worlds and the Inner Rim.
"There is no shame in seeking answers," Qui-Gon's warm hand rested on her shoulder, kind and encouraging. "There is no knowledge that can be found in isolation from other, Buffy. And," he added with a smile. "I would not be a very good Master if I did not help ease your mind. Even the smallest answers, even the stupidest questions can help us grow in the knowledge of the Force."
Buffy smiled. She enjoyed her time with her Master, even if it was confusing. He never believed that her insights were lacking in value. Only that she always had more to learn. She and the Code often had difficulty getting along, but Qui-Gon gave her hope for understanding, clarity, and peace.
"Master," she began. The word sounded strange on her tongue, odd but appropriate. It reminded her of battles and an enemy long dead, a life full of mistakes best learned from and then left forgotten. She had only been with him for a few months, but calling him Master was more natural and she was often surprised by how much, how quickly she had changed over the long days of nonstop training. In the beginning, she had felt lost in the complexity and endless shades of gray. Life had been easy when she was a Slayer, black and white. But as a Jedi, she'd learned that even true evil could be redeemed by compassion and kindness. A Jedi valued all life, from the smallest and most insignificant bloatfly to the most corrupt and powerful politician. It was frustrating. Calling the other Jedi "Master" did not feel as natural yet, but she sensed that it soon would be. Scary. "The Jedi Code, it forbids attachments like love and friendship." Which was both frightening and confusing for Buffy, she thought it was a little stupid.
When she'd been a Slayer, she'd survived because of those connections. My friends gave me a reason to keep fighting. I'd never have survived without them.
Literally. Xander had saved her life, brought her back from the edge of death. She wondered if she'd ever really thanked him. "But how can I have trust without friendship?" She swallowed. "I mean, I get why the Jedi forgo the whole hate thing. The Dark Side is freaky scary, but why love?" She held her breath in apprehension as she watched his face. She wondered if he thought it was a stupid question.
"That is a difficult question," Qui-Gon admitted. "And one that every Jedi struggles with. I do not believe that we can sacrifice such connections entirely, after all bonds and emotions are a natural and powerful part of the Force." His smile turned from gentle to sad. "It is a puzzle we must find our own answers for. But it is not a question you should feel foolish for asking, young one." He patted her shoulder gently. "I have had this conversation many times before, with my own Master and also with my apprentices."
"Was it something Obi-wan struggled with?" Buffy asked. She was surprised, she'd never guessed that Mister By-the-Book Jedi had ever questioned the Masters or the Code. Buffy supposed though, that such questions were inevitable and suddenly felt stupid for having overlooked it. She didn't think...well, that was the real problem wasn't it? She didn't think.
"Yes," Qui-Gon nodded. "Something I believe that he struggles with still."
Buffy guessed that there was a story there, but one that he wouldn't tell. It is not my place to discuss such things, that is a question best asked to Obi-wan himself.
That's what her inner Qui-Gon voice said. He was invading her mind again. Buffy knew that he knew she wasn't comfortable talking to Obi-wan about things like that. Obi-wan had been his past apprentice and she was his current one, there was a sense of familiarity between them, a joke that only someone who studied under Qui-Gon could get. But for her there was also a rivalry, Obi-wan was growing into a great Jedi Knight and she couldn't help but wonder if her Master compared his two students. Especially since the Council kind of forced him to take me.
So, instead she chose the direct question and one she knew her own Master would answer.
"What about you?"
"The danger, Buffy," Qui-Gon said. "Is not love itself. Love is a powerful emotion, one that often does a great amount of good. It fuels our kindness and our compassion, love for the Force brings humility and respect for all life." He released her shoulder, tucking his hands into his wide sleeves. He sighed. "Danger is in selfish love, passionate love that defies all logic or reason, the selfish love that puts the safety of the object of affection before the good of the galaxy, the Republic, and the will of the Force."
"A Jedi lives their life in service to others." Buffy murmured, echoing the words she'd been taught. She hadn't known what those words had meant then, they'd just been words, but this conversation gave them meaning. She saw, perhaps for the first time, why the Jedi path was so difficult. It asked much of those who followed it. And I guess we often fall short.
"You've got to sacrifice a lot to be a Jedi." She'd meant those words as a question, instead, they became a statement of fact.
"It is not for everyone," Qui-Gon said wryly. "Service, sacrifice, and commitment to others before yourself, it is not easy." He tilted his head, long brown hair drifting about his shoulders. "There are few rewards and little glory to be had, but we make a difference in our own way." He paused and turned his eyes from her, instead drawing on the Force to follow her reactions and emotions. "Tell me, young one, has there ever been a time when you let love blind you?"
Buffy's mouth went dry. She thought of Angel, Angelus, and Jenny Calendar. Her waking dreams and guilt about them, about her past life always tended to disrupt her meditations. Regret colored the music of the Force and sometimes it grew so heavy that it blinded her. She knew in her heart that she had not fought as hard as she could have to stop him. Had no found it in herself to sacrifice her greatest love until the last final moments when the good of the world was at stake. He had used that love against her, had tormented her, her friends, killed Jenny, tortured Giles. Her love and hate for Angel had often lead her to leap blindly into dangerous situations without looking. "We cannot stop this ritual alone."
Kendra's words echoed through her. Kendra, her death was also partly Buffy's fault. She wouldn't have survived against the Turowhatsis without Kendra getting Giles and her friends. Buffy knew she could lie and say no, but there didn't seem to be much point to it.
"Yeah," she admitted. "My emotions gave me strength, but at the same time, I was blinded by them." She stared down at her hands. "I guess they were assets and at the same time detrimental."
She was too engrossed in thought to notice the sad ghost of a smile that touched Qui-Gon's lips. He recognized that look on her face all too well. It was one he'd seen on the faces of countless Jedi, one that he had also worn when his friend and love Jedi Master Tahl had died. He knew the joy of love and the pain of love. He knew how far a man could fall for love. "There is no help for me now. There is only revenge."
"We must all learn to balance." Qui-Gon said, his voice was gentle and sympathetic. "But how would we learn?" He asked. "If we did not also sometimes fall?"
"Endless, humility is." Buffy quipped. Thinking of the small, green, wrinkly, and wise Jedi Master often made her smile. And giggle. But usually just smile. "Always, more to learn have you." He repeated it to his classes over and over, but Buffy remembered it every time she felt stupid or foolish. She felt the truth in it as she hadn't before and sometimes, she found herself wishing that she'd listened Giles more. It was a horrifying thought. "You know," Buffy sighed. "I used to think that I was right, I had all the answers. I didn't..." she paused. "I guess, I just didn't think I needed to know more. I was the best at what I did, the only one who could...so instead of learning, I just, well I coasted." She shrugged. She didn't want to be that way anymore. She couldn't afford it. She was already so far behind the other, younger students. "Master Yoda would call it being willfully ignorant." She was surprised by the warmth and wetness of tears, hastily she blinked them back. She would not cry. Whenever she talked about things, it was always about her. She was getting tired of it. Maybe, this'll be the last time.
This was supposed to be about Anakin, about Angel, even about Jenny and her friends. But she was only talking about her. She hated that part about the Jedi, looking at them forced her to see her own ugliness. But she needed to let that go. She wasn't perfect. She could forgive. "I guess, I thought I had all the answers but the truth was..." she sighed, defeated. "I didn't know anything."
"Then," Qui-Gon said. "You have taken your first steps on a much longer road."
"You and all the Masters really love saying that." Buffy grumbled. She hated Jedi crypticness. But she still found a smile twitching on the corners of her mouth.
"And one day, Padawan, so will you."
Buffy groaned. "I'll just bet Obi-Spaghody says that all the time." Qui-Gon coughed and Buffy rolled her eyes. "Yes, Master." She added. She was certain that she would never, ever say that. Never give in to Jedi crypticosity. But even as she thought the words, her shoulders slumped in defeat. He was probably right, it was inevitable. But maybe,
Buffy thought. Maybe that's just part of growing up.
Her heart was warm, all gooey and mushy. But I don't have to do it alone.
Qui-Gon would be there, helping her find her way.
"Remember, my very young apprentice," Qui-Gon smiled. "Compassion and humility keep our minds open. A Jedi is not an automaton, emotions are a natural part of who we are, but we cannot let them blind us to the needs of others and the will of the Force. You must not let them rule you."
Buffy thought for a moment, she did a lot of thinking lately. In fact, sometimes thinking was all she did. But she understood now. The Code was intentionally vague, she supposed, so that an apprentice could understand it on their own. Learning to let go and surrender was a lesson every Jedi needed to learn. The Galaxy relied on them to be impartial, to be able to give aid and settle disputes impartially. A Jedi needed to listen to every side, not merely the one that shouted loudest. Sometimes, the distasteful choice was the correct one. She remembered the old question: If a woman and baby are being chased by bandits, what do you do? Do you attack? Do you help them escape? Or do you stop and ask them, why are you chasing her?
In the beginning, Buffy would have said attack them. Now, though, she wasn't so sure. If I had to break down a door or knock, I think... I'd knock.
"Every choice we make echoes outward, right?" Buffy asked. "We can't always know what the results will be or what we'll affect. And there are many possible paths..." She felt silly, but it sounded right. More importantly it felt right and she looked up, rewarded by her Master's smile.
"Every like we take has the potential to create a wound in the Force, no matter how small, from which the Dark Side might grow and flourish."
Buffy nodded. So, if I had to choose between Anakin and Mom, my real mom...who would I pick?
It wasn't an easy question to answer. She swallowed. And do I make the choice based on what's best for everyone or for myself?
Love made decisions murkier, clouded and confused things. Qui-Gon wasn't saying that she couldn't love Anakin, that she couldn't love or fall in love, but the danger was that she'd let that love become her whole world like she had with Angel, her decisions and choices revolving around what was best for them, instead of the Republic, the galaxy, the Force. A Jedi couldn't afford to be that selfish. She could have friends, make bonds. She glanced at her Master. But I always have to serve something higher than just that.
She got it. Focus on the bigger picture.
She was different now, changing. The Force and the Jedi, they were changing her. Buffy breathed deeply and smiled, but that wasn't something to be afraid of. No, not all. In fact, she felt at peace with the idea. She was changing, but she was...well, at home
. Her smile widened and she looked out at the beautiful haze of the setting sun, darkness was falling. She wasn't afraid anymore. Fancy that, I'm home.
"Now, my easily distracted Padawan," Qui-Gon said. "Let's begin this evening's lesson."
Buffy's eyes flew to his face, startled. "You mean," she moaned, horrified. "That wasn't it?" All that brain power had been spent for nothing! "I thought we were just doing the whole Jedi Master Apprentice bonding thing!"
Qui-Gon chuckled. His very young apprentice never ceased to amuse him. He was her master and she was his apprentice, this was the path the Force had chosen for him. It was one that he found himself surprisingly content with. He believed, even as others didn't, that the girl could learn and then when she did, when she discovered the necessity of an open mind, she would become something great. He had no doubts. He often found himself learning from her as she learned from him. She could be taxing, trying, pigheaded, and was stubborn to a fault Not unlike his past apprentices. But learning was the nature of teaching and it was a rewarding experience.
"You still have much to learn." He said. Buffy groaned and Qui-Gon hid a wry smile behind patient blue eyes. "Now," he continued, getting down to business. "Let's begin."
"Close your eyes."
He chuckled, letting his own eyes fall shut. "And let the Force flow through you."
AN: I'll be honest, I wrote this to get myself back into the swing of writing Star Wars. It's been forever since I updated anything...I know! I think I needed to know if I could write Buffy as a Jedi, to keep the parts of her that make her Buffy, but at the same time letting her grow and change. The first step to learning is often in realizing that we were wrong. I do however, enjoy the idea of Buffy ending up in a completely different place as a Jedi than she was as a Slayer.
I'll try to get back to Periculum soon.
Also... Be kind, I wrote this between 1 and 4 AM. And yeah, the title is kind of uninspired... Review please!
And yes... "My very young apprentice" is Qui-Gon's little joke.