Official Disclaimer: All places, things, and characters belong to Lucasfilm and are being used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended and I am not receiving money for this fic.

Author's Note: I don't know whether to continue this, but if I do this will most likely be updated once a week, time permitting. Reviews might help (hint, hint...), and I'll try as hard as I can to finish it as soon as possible if I continue it. This is pretty different that my other fics, a bit more angsty emotion-wise. Tell me what you think, and don't forget to review; comments and suggestions about what you think should happen are great. Thanks!

Also, a huge thanks to my awesome editor, Scully. Your suggestions were a huge help.


Exile

By Ender


Prologue

Obi-Wan Kenobi, usually a stoic and composed person in public, felt long, wet tears start to flow down his red face, leaving burning trails of saltwater. Never in his entire life had he felt more destroyed than at this moment, standing frozen in front of the Jedi Council. It had taken them only seconds and a few quietly spoken words to completely obliterate the work and dedication he had adhered to his entire life, twenty long years of training.

"Under the circumstances, we feel you must be released," Ki-Adi-Mundi had stated, "for the safety of the Temple." Why? he wanted to scream, scream until his throat was ragged and bloody and he could no longer utter the pleading words. Why, if I'm not to blame? Why?

However, it was not appropriate for an advanced Jedi Padawan to beg, so he remained silent and let himself implode, blocking out all sensation. Obi-Wan felt his very soul wither and turn to ash as he stood frozen in the moment of silence, blood rushing painfully through his ears.

"We will give you transport to your planet of choice and enough to start a new life there," Mace Windu continued in a drone, his words hanging lifeless in the stale air.

But I don't want to start a new life, Obi-Wan's inner voice raged, and for all of his masterful control he could barely quash what he felt from rising to the surface.

"So sorry, we are," Yoda chimed in, his voice a mournful tone that Obi-Wan had never heard him use before, "A promising student, you are. A great loss this will be."

You have no idea what loss is, the voice inside of him sneered, none of you. Obi-Wan was stunned at its forcefulness.

The Padawan's senses, now almost deadened by pain, faintly picked up a tiny motion to his right. It was his master, Qui-Gon Jinn, uncomfortably shifting his weight, something he had never done before the High Council. Obi-Wan's heart raced, nearly pulsing out of his chest as he regained the smallest sliver of hope. In the past, Qui-Gon had argued with the Council over their decisions, some of them less grave than this. He had argued and won. At this point, only his Master could help Obi-Wan.

The Padawan waited, muscles tense, jaw locked, listening for his Mater's deep bass to start a protest. Qui-Gon would challenge the Council, show them why their ruling was wrong. It wasn't Obi-Wan's fault that the Temple was being attacked by an unknown force, he would say, the Padawan had been cleared of any suspicion. Why should he be banished, he would go on, if it only seems that the culprit was trying to get at Obi-Wan, to see him wronged against?

Precious seconds ticked by in the deathly silence as Obi-Wan waited to be saved from the dreadful fate that would await him after his dismissal. Slowly, his eyes grew wider as he realized that Qui-Gon was not going to speak.

/Master?/ Obi-Wan tried to speak to his Master over their training bond. /Master, you don't agree with them, do you?/

His shocked words were blocked by Qui-Gon's impenetrable shields, shields he only raised when he was feeling pain. Incredulous, Obi-Wan felt all hope melt away and a pit of dread open in his stomach.

Knowing he now had to answer, Obi-Wan composed himself and waited for his final dismissal.

"May the Force be with you, Obi-Wan Kenobi," Yoda's praising voice rang out in the chamber, a small salute to one of his favorite students.

"Thank you, Master."

Obi-Wan forced his stiff back to bend and bowed one last time, then turned sharply on his heel and strode out of the chamber feelings like a broken man. He had never known this degree of exhaustion and pain. Once he was outside of the chamber and the doors had swished shut, Obi-Wan half leaned, half collapsed against the nearest shining silver wall, stinging tears streaming down his cheeks.

Trying to clear his sudden bout of dizziness, Obi-Wan closed his eyes, staring at his eyelids. This could not be happening. He heard the soft steps of his Master, no, former Master, approaching from his right. Obi-Wan gathered himself and stood up straight, heading for the balcony on the other side of the spire. He couldn't face Qui-Gon now.

"Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon's voice pleaded, "Wait." Obi-Wan kept walking to the railing, then grabbed it tightly with both palms. He ignored Qui-Gon completely. "Padawan, look at me."

Obi-Wan turned his head quickly, still grabbing at the railing desperately while he stared at Qui-Gon. The Jedi Master almost wished he hadn't given the command. The suffering storming in Obi-Wan's clear blue eyes was almost too much to bear. Qui-Gon looked down and broke the boy's gaze, noticing that Obi-Wan's knuckles had turned a bleaching white from squeezing the rail so hard.

"I'm not your Padawan, Qui-Gon," Obi-Wan's forceful voice nearly broke as he uttered the Master's name. He turned back around to view the cityscape, his next whisper barely audible over the hum of the city. "No longer."

Qui-Gon could think of no answer, but tried to explain to Obi-Wan what the Council's intentions were.

"Obi-Wan, you must see that this is the right thing to do. Though it is not your fault, lives in the Temple could be in danger from this madman. His acts, the attacks on children, have been linked to your life. He does this to get at you, it's been proven. You would be helping the entire Temple by following the will of the Council." Even while uttering the empty words, Qui-Gon could not bring himself to say it, to say 'leaving the Jedi'. He did not want to think of what was to come.

Obi-Wan turned back to him and Qui-Gon was appalled at the amount of rage etched into the boyish features.

"So my entire life is to be ruined, thrown away because they believe, believe, that my absence will stop the attacks? Even if he does this to 'get at me', he wins if I am dismissed. What is there to guarantee that he will stop when I am gone?" Qui-Gon was silent and Obi-Wan could feel his conflicting emotions.

"I can feel it, you know this is wrong. And yet you stood there and said nothing. Nothing at all. You-" Obi-Wan cut off and turned away, unable to continue his sentence, tears choking his already-raw throat.

"It is the only way," Qui-Gon whispered, not believing his own words.

"As you wish. It doesn't matter now if it is or isn't." Obi-Wan stated in a dull voice. The conversation fell into a lull and both realized that they had heard enough silence for one day. Qui-Gon felt Obi-Wan's anger unexpectedly calm as the former Padawan turned fully towards him. All he could detect now was deep-rooted sorrow.

"Thank you, Master, for training me these past years. You gave me a chance when others would not. I just hope you do not look upon this as a failure." Obi-Wan unhooked his lightsaber from his utility belt and handed it to the stunned Master.

"Please return this. I won't need it anymore." He stood and waited, preparing himself for what would come next. Qui-Gon was dreading the moment as well.

Not truly believing what was happening, the Jedi Master took the lightsaber from Obi-Wan's outstretched hand and activated it, the blue beam slicing through the crisp air. Qui-Gon reached up his left hand and grabbed Obi-Wan's Padawan braid, then lightly gave it one last tug. He lifted the 'saber and in one clean stroke severed the braid from his Padawan's head, the glowing blade slicing masterfully through the air.

Obi-Wan had to bite down on his tongue, drawing a drop of blood, to suppress his cry. His head felt unnaturally light as the braid was freed from his scalp, air ruffling his remaining, fluffy hair. This was wrong, he knew it was wrong. Feeling sick, Obi-Wan bowed for the very last time to Qui-Gon.

"Goodbye, Qui-Gon."

"Goodbye, Pa-...Obi-Wan. May the Force be with you."

"And with you."

Obi-Wan, noticeably shaking, brushed past Qui-Gon and headed for the door. Then he was gone.