Crystallize

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Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan Fanfiction
Title: Crystallize
Author(s): torch
Date(s): September-October 1999[1]
Length: 16,500 words, 95k
Genre: slash fanfiction
Fandom: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
External Links: Crystallize (The Flambeau Factory)
Crystallize (Master & Apprentice)
Crystallize (AO3)

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Crystallize is a Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan story by torch (16,500 words). It is set pre-TPM.

Summary: "A peaceful mission develops some unforeseen complications, and Qui-Gon Jinn learns something new about Obi-Wan Kenobi, and something new about himself."

Recs and Reviews

Unknown Date

You read Torch's exquisitely beautiful TPM story "Crystallize" and have your entire definition of "love story" turned on its head. [2]
A beautifull story, the most lovely I've read in this fandom. (94 k)[3]
crystallize, by torch. qui/obi. pg, star wars:tpm. qui-gon pov, very accurate character-wise, i think. pretty and calm. left in a state of sort of peaceful uncertainty on purpose, i've no doubt, but that doesn't stop me from seeing it as a flaw. it doesn't feel finished.[4]
Beautiful, gorgeous pre-slash. A great story, and the feeling just builds.[5]

2000

This story is a low-key grisaille that captures the zenlike restraint of Qui-Gon's character -- which matches what we see in canon pretty well. In tone and style, this is classic torch. The story unfolds in third-person, from Qui-Gon's point of view, and takes place at a watch station on a wintry planet, to which Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon have been assigned for guard duty. (Hibernating aliens: that's all we need to know.)
The central metaphor of the story is Qui-Gon's assembly of a 'dar' puzzle, a set of force-sensitive crystals that when assembled will show the answer to a question you have not yet asked. The 'picture' is not recognized until the final piece is set into the stone, and once assembled it displays Obi-Wan's face. Qui-Gon's subtly faceted epiphanies on this subject come not long after.
I haven't read a lot of PM fiction yet, either fannish or published, but the tenor of the relationship between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon seemed to keep a close line to canon, or canon as I imagine it to be. There was intimacy, but familiarity had not bred contempt; there were walls of formality, a certain ritualization between master and apprentice that manifested in Qui-Gon's casual guidance. This is very much an on-the-job sort of Qui-Gon, who has no problem saying to his padawan, "Here are your love issues, go meditate on them." (That's just my paraphrase, by the way. This isn't Qui-Gon Jinn, Therapist of Love.)
The story's lucid, understated tone makes possible one of the few unsentimental yet explicit declarations of love I've seen in slash writing:
Qui-Gon put the medical supplies away while Obi-Wan pulled on pants and shirt again. Turning back, he saw his apprentice take a few stiff steps towards the door, and went to intercept. He put his hands on Obi-Wan's shoulders, moved by an impulse he couldn't explain. "Padawan. You know I love you, don't you."
And Obi-Wan looked up at him with eyes the color of water, looking as steady and whole within himself as if he'd just spent the day meditating on serenity. Smiled faintly in secure, trusting acknowledgement. "Yes, I know." Then he gathered up the rest of his clothes, and Qui-Gon followed him to the bedroom and watched as Obi-Wan lay down and sank easily into a healing trance, bright eyes closed, still body humming with force and life.
This story has winter rhythms, emotional shades of white on light grey, and a movement that only gradually becomes apparent. There's no place in the story for sex, but sometimes translucent angst is more fitting.[6]

2001

"Crystallize, a Phantom Menace story by torch, is a beautiful, subtle exploration of Qui-Gon's growing attraction to Obi-Wan. It's almost a fairy tale in its simplicity, yet the emotions presented are complex and real. This story is a perfect lullaby for a winter's night."[7]
"torch is a master of the kind of delicate, subtle, masterful prose that makes one groan and throw down one's pen and say, "what's the use?" in a fit of writerly inferiority-complexiness. "Crystallize" is a story in which very little happens... and yet it does. Read. Learn. Enjoy. Especially strong Qui-Gon, as well, which is always a blessing."[8]

2002

"I was waiting for torch to write a brilliant, quintessential Q/O fic, and here it is. It's a subtle exploration of Qui-Gon's developing feelings for Obi-Wan, and the process of realization. I was, and still am, totally enthralled by this piece. The style of it is so beautiful that I swear I can hear the snow crunching underneath their feet as they walk."[9]

2004

"This story, to me is the quintessential illustration of a well-crafted pre-slash story. It is first and foremost an adventure story, well written and rich with depth and texture that carry the reader into the heart of the story. We are with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan as they experience the clean crisp cold and the peace of a sleeping frozen planet. We follow their thoughts and feelings against a backdrop of snow and solitude. We experience the rising tension in an evolving relationship that is wrapped in an illusory coat of casual familiarity. The author weaves such an enchanting picture that you simple slip in."[10]

2006

This story made the biggest impact on me out of probably any fanfic I have ever read from any fandom. The slow, quiet pace of it is enchanting and it fits the mood of emotions that Qui-Gon discovers perfectly. The story is the essence of the statement that simplicity is beauty. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan have a rather extensive mission on a snowy planet to protect a race of people who hibernate during their long winters. During this time, they have ample opportunity to reflect on themselves and their relationship. However, there are so many intriguing little details and ideas going on the fic that lead to Qui-Gon's revelation - a strange puzzle, an old bedtime story, the people they are guarding, the winter-world they brave. It's all woven into such an organic story.[11]

2014

Here is the perfect story for this time of year.

Crystallize takes place on Remis, a planet where people hibernate in the wintertime and must be safeguarded by the Jedi. Qui-Gon takes Obi-Wan there, both to protect the hibernators and as an extended meditation, which they don't usually have time for in their hectic lives.

Their duties are part of a pleasant, if Spartan, routine of checking all of the outposts, to make sure the automated security systems are in place; shoveling themselves out of their watchstation to keep from being snowbound; and trying to keep as warm as possible under these extreme conditions.

Qui-Gon becomes fascinated by a native pastime -- a dar puzzle, made of translucent, crystalline rectangles, which he painstakingly assembles piece by recalcitrant piece. As Qui-Gon tells Obi-Wan, "When all the pieces are in place, it is supposed to show an answer to a question."

I think you'll like the answer that Qui-Gon gets.[12]

References

  1. Master & Apprentice date: 24-Oct-1999.
  2. Yahtzee. Recommendations. (Accessed 06 February 2011)
  3. Trinityslash: Recs. (Accessed 21 April 2015)
  4. Cimorene. Recs: Star Wars, via Wayback. (Accessed 10 May 2015)
  5. Emma Grant's Star Wars Recs, last updated 01 June 2004. (Accessed 28 April 2015)
  6. Anna S. Anna's Recs: Story Reviews, 04 March 2000. (Accessed 13 August 2011)
  7. Jan and June's Slash Recommendations, November 02, 2001. (Accessed 06 February 2011)
  8. MaggieFic: The Recs 2001. (Accessed 06 January 2011)
  9. Destina Fortunato. Star Wars Fiction Recommendations, updated June 13, 2002. (Accessed 06 February 2011)
  10. batagur in tpm_flashback. Crystallize by torch, 29 September 2004. (Accessed 26 September 2011)
  11. recnabo. Star Wars Fic Recs, 21 July 2006. (Accessed 24 April 2015)
  12. Merry Amelie in quiobisupport. Fiction rec: Crystallize Q/O, PG-13, 10 December 2014. (Accessed 27 April 2015)