Title: Leave It All Behind

Author: Amy Fortuna (peacefulpassion@hotmail.com)

Rating: PG-13

Category: POV

Disclaimer: George, I have no money, I spent it all on toys and fourteen showings of your movie. Therefore, don't sue me.

Archive: master_apprentice, SWAL, WWOMB; anywhere else, just ask, I won't say no.

Series: The 'inspired by a song' series--the same universe, but can be read in any order. Timeline is (Color Them Wonderful), What Keeps Me Down, Star-Crossed Voyager, What Do You Say?, Can't Be Really Gone, In The Still of the Night, Leave It All Behind.

Warnings: Follows canon...good for some, bad for others.

Spoilers: Yeah.

Summary: Obi-Wan attempts to find peace one year after The Scene.

Feedback: Is what makes life worth living.

Notes: Inspired by "Leave," a song by R.E.M. from the soundtrack to "A Life Less Ordinary."

Note that the stages of grief are denial, self-blame, anger, and depression. Obi-Wan meditates on their opposites to reach acceptance.

*are italics*

*******************

Obi-Wan stood alone in the middle of the night, listening to the cold pounding sea, wondering, waiting, and for the first time, aching.

One year had drifted by since Naboo. He hadn't shed a tear, but hadn't smiled either, not real smiles. Just forced shadowy things, worlds away from the sweet days *before*, when anything at all could make him smile in the face of danger, plying witty words in a bright haze of delight.

It had been one year.

One year since his universe collapsed on the floor and died, whispering words he did not really want to hear.

Since then, he had shut down. Become like a statue. Trained Qui-Gon's precious 'Chosen One,' but kept his true feelings locked away, frozen stiff in his heart.

No more.

He had to come to terms with Qui-Gon's death, and he had to do it now.

They, these buried emotions, would kill him from the inside out. He would be destroyed, lost to everyone, even Qui-Gon, and that is something he did not wish to happen.

He needed to be whole. He needed to be real. He needed to be alive.

So that is why he was there, alone on the quiet beach in the starlight.

As if in a ceremony, he began to remove his clothes, not really knowing why, merely feeling an irresistible impulse.

He laid his lightsaber, belt, and sash on the ground. Then shed tunics, boots, and pants, folding them neatly and placing them aside.

He would need them again, because, he thought, he *would* go on after this, leaving the past behind, yet not shutting it away from his heart.

Naked now, though in this tropical breeze not cold, he stared out at the endless sea.

Stretching out his hands and closing his eyes, he faced the waves, though a little away from their cool touch.

And took one step forward.

The step of acknowledgement.

He remembered screaming denial, his master's eyes meeting his, emotions unguarded for a split second, love and terror surging through their bond.

*It happened. Oh Force, it really happened and what am I without you?*

Shivering now, not from cold, from the memory, he took another step, feet touching the cool sand where the waves had washed up.

The step of absolution.

What could he have done to save his master?

*...could have...could have done something. Couldn't I have?*

No.

Nothing at all.

Trapped behind red walls, he was only able to watch and scream.

Why then did he blame himself, hugging to his breast the shivering "It's my fault"?

*...throw it away, cast it to the timeless sea and continue, never again to castigate myself for another's actions...*

He took another step and his feet met the cool water that washed up foaming on the beach.

The step of serenity.

One white-hot flash of anger at the universe spun through him and he reels, nearly falling, opening his eyes to see only the midnight sea lapping at his feet.

Ah. This was the hard one then.

Letting go of his anger will be a task more difficult than he thought. Kneeling in the water, hands clasped in front of him, he raised his face to the solemn sky and let the words flow.

*Oh, Qui-Gon, love, why...we would have been so happy together...all eternity could not have contained our joy and you had to go and leave me with the boy...*

He gasped at his effrontery but continued.

*...you spoke of him last instead of speaking to me...instead of telling me you loved me you told me to train him...!*

Wait!

Anakin, the Chosen One, was very, *very* important to Qui-Gon.

Qui-Gon could have requested anyone in the Temple to train him, including Master Yoda.

But he did not. He asked *Obi-Wan* to train him.

Therefore, Qui-Gon believed that *Obi-Wan* would be equal to the task.

*...He was proud of me. He trusted me. He loved me...*

What reason did Obi-Wan have to be angry?

*...He told me that he loved me. Not in so many words of course, but in every way that counts...*

Obi-Wan's heart melted at this realization.

*...Oh, I have been so blind. He really did love me...*

Obi-Wan rose back to his feet, stepping forward again into the ankle deep water, now smiling.

The step of acceptance. The last step. The final melting of the frozen thing that his heart had been for the past year.

Never again. Knowing his master loved him, he could go on.

And he flung himself into the water at full length, laughing under his breath.

Joy that he thought had disappeared from his life forever came rushing back and he became giddy with it, turning his face up to the stars, taking water in his hands and throwing it up into the sky, smiling like a child.

The thoughts circled through his mind like the spinning worlds.

*...I've hurt so many with my refusal to move on. But no more! I'll live again and one day I may love again...I'll be the best master to Anakin that I possibly can...we'll be the best Jedi team ever...and when I die, I'll rejoin my love in the bliss of eternity...*

Laughter. Acceptance. Peace. At last. It was right there waiting for him.

*******************

Obi-Wan leaned against the doorframe, watching Anakin, supposedly asleep, on his bed in the moonlight.

"Welcome home, Master," a tired voice said, as the boy sat up. Obi-Wan walked over to the bed and sat down, pulling his padawan into his arms.

"Yes, Ani, I'm home," he said, smiling tenderly into the boy's hair.

"Where were you?" Anakin asked, voice muffled.

Obi-Wan held him tighter and said quietly:

"Anakin, a wound must be cleaned before it can heal. I was...cleansing my heart of all the hurt I felt about," he paused, not sure how to say it, "about Qui-Gon's death."

Anakin looked up. "You loved him."

Obi-Wan smiled. "In many ways."

"You miss him a lot." It was a statement, not a question.

"Yes. Oh, yes, Anakin, I do. But I realized that...we'll see each other again."

Anakin drew back slightly. "That's what my mom said. 'We'll see each other again,'" he quoted shyly.

Obi-Wan brushed a hand over tousled blond hair. "You will," he said. "You will. Count on it, Ani."

Anakin lay back and sighed. "I wish...." Then he changed the subject. "I never saw you smile before like you are tonight. They're real smiles, not pretend ones. Is that what healing is?"

"Yes," Obi-Wan said. How perceptive his padawan had been!

He laid a hand against the boy's hair, touching the braid reverently.

"Ani," he said at last,"just because something is healing doesn't mean it's stopped hurting. I'll need your help."

"What can I do to help, Master?" Anakin asked.

Obi-Wan laughed gently and bent forward until their foreheads were almost touching.

"For one thing, Padawan...you can tell me if you see a pretend smile again, all right?"

"Yes, Master," Anakin smiled in return.

Obi-Wan kissed Anakin's forehead lightly.

"Go to sleep, Ani," he whispered.

The boy's eyes closed instantly, and Obi-Wan stood up, moving away, now at peace.