A/N: Don't own anything that belongs to George Lucas. What if Obi-Wan wasn't ready for the trials but saved his master from murder that terrible day on Naboo? Being alone is the worst disease—and sometimes its incurable. Tell me if I should write a sequel or not! ^___^ Re-posted as a one-shot. Sequel? Yes? No? Tell meee. —Andrea

- - -

Not This Way

x. a story of obi-wan kenobi

- - -

He never asked for much. As a matter of fact, he asked for nothing at all for the past years. Obi-Wan Kenobi, the one whom would always be the steady one—who would always be the perfect Jedi and the perfect role model for his gifted apprentice. His apprentice that seemed to always deny everything he tried to give—he tried to teach. His apprentice whom only remembered the bad things that Obi-Wan would say about the boy.

It was the boy who Obi-Wan would die for.

Anakin was out again. Where? Obi-Wan knew, but, since what happened last time, he figured it would be wiser to just wait for the boy to come trudging back to their quarters. Anakin had his mental shields built up so strongly that he, probably; not even master Yoda could penetrate them or even peek into the boy's mind.

Was it always Obi-Wan who said something wrong?

'Padawan,' he recalled, 'concentrate on here and now. We will not be seeing Senator Padmè in quite a long while, so please… concentrate—focus now.'

It must have been the way he had said it, hadn't it? But it was the truth. His padawan was dwelling for to much on the girl he had fallen in love with—the girl who they were going to see nothing but a few days—which was not quite a long while. He had lied for just that brief moment to get his padawan to pay attention to him. His lessons weren't that boring, were they?

Obi-Wan smiled slightly, but it quickly faded on his saddened face.

Sometimes he wondered if Anakin really thought of him as a friend—not a boss or a master. He remembered thinking of Qui-Gon that way. He never disrespected Qui-Gon.

Qui-Gon…

Obi-Wan sighed, his fingers twiddling in his lap gently. Of course he was worried. How couldn't he be worried for Anakin? But the boy could take care of himself… and he had found out the hard way. A few months before, Anakin had run off in frustration to a club in the depths of Coruscant. Obi-Wan had gone after him, to apologize for losing his temper at the boy during their saber practice.

The boy immediately accepted his apology.

But when Obi-Wan had asked for an apology in return, Anakin turned to his new 'friends' and then practically spat in his master's face with disgust, "I don't owe you an apology, Master."

Obi-Wan lowered his gaze to the floor and swished his feet around for a moment. The boy didn't owe him an apology. But he was disappointed with Anakin for staring at his friends for that split-second, embarrassed. He wanted to maintain his pride.

A Jedi didn't crave such things.

And when Obi-Wan confronted his padawan, Anakin simply said 'I do not know what you're talking about, Master.' And the subject was left off.

Obi-Wan absolutely never spoken to Qui-Gon in such a way as his padawan did. It happened quite a few times in the past few days, as well. It wasn't such a surprise. Obi-Wan didn't mean Anakin any harm in telling him his faults in saber practice. He also was very proud of him for winning.

But Anakin did not care.

"Qui-Gon, I think… I think I'm failing this boy," Obi-Wan muttered quietly out into the dark room. He was sitting on his sleep couch with his legs crossed. He had tried to meditate numerous times after Anakin's fleeting, but he just couldn't find his center. He was worried about the boy.

"I think I'm failing you. I'm… sorry."

And it was true. Anakin was so much better, though. But as his anger goes, it seemed to be flowing downhill. Every time Obi-Wan had tried to speak to his padawan about the 'tantrums' he was throwing, Anakin immediately got infuriated and ran off into the temple.

It would have been so much better if Qui-Gon was still alive. Obi-Wan would be a Knight and Anakin would be a fine, young Jedi. Something that Qui-Gon had always wanted and something that Obi-Wan would never fulfill in his master's dream. Anakin would have been such a better padawan for Qui-Gon. If only he was just a little bit faster on Naboo and would've caught up with his master before… before…

Focus on here and now, Obi-Wan thought sadly. There is no changing the past. What is already done is done.

And what he had already done was have his heart torn little by little with every breath that his padawan took.

I am not worthy to teach this boy. He is far too strong and I… Obi-Wan's thoughts paused as he held his breath, leaning back into his soft blankets and closing his eyes halfway. And I am, by far, exceedingly weak in his eyes—and in my eyes.

He did not deserve such a gifted boy.

"How can I teach this boy when he is so much stronger than me in every way? Master, if only you… If only I was a little bit… faster…"

Feeling his emotions run haywire, his eyes began to sting with hot tears that he didn't want to shed at all. But as he tried to blink them back, they fell. Bringing his hands to his face, he let his fingers brush against his beard and wipe away his silent tears. It wasn't supposed to happen this way… Not this way…

- - -

Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi woke up with a jerk in his uncomfortable bed on the Nubian vessel that he, his master, and his master's new obsession, as well as the Queen of Naboo and her handmaidens, and her soldiers, were boarded on. He wiped his face instinctively, feeling tears running down his cheeks. What a terrible dream…

A dream was what it was. It was a dream and nothing more.

No. It was a premonition. It was a glimpse into the future and he knew it. But he didn't want it to be true!

Oh, Force! Obi-Wan called out mentally as he sat against the wall of the ship, pulling his robe against himself tighter, Please don't let that be ME! Such anguish from one person… Was that I in the future? And Anakin, MY apprentice—my master's new obsession?

'Master,' Obi-Wan called through him and his master's bond, 'master, please answer me, please…'

After a moment, the door to his small room on the ship opened and there, in perfect stance, stood his master in the doorway.

Obi-Wan's voice came out in a hoarse whisper, "Master, I'm sorry—"

"Find your center, padawan," he spoke at the same time Obi-Wan did and then stepped in the room, shutting the door behind himself.

Nodding, but pulling his cloak around himself even tighter, Obi-Wan leaned back against the wall completely, pulling his legs up on the 'bed' he was sitting in which was attached to the wall. Taking a deep but shaky breath, Obi-Wan stared at his master as he sat across on the empty 'bed' on the other side of the small room.

Obi-Wan began slowly and quietly, "I didn't mean to wake you if you were asleep, Master. I had a—"

"Dream? I know. I had one, as well. Most likely, it was the same. Was it of you older?"

Obi-Wan's mouth went dry as he tried to open it and say something. 'Yes,' he stated through their bond instead.

"It must mean there's something coming—something important that will change your life and mine as well, padawan, if we do not change it. We must keep a watchful eye and always be with the Force."

"Yes, Master."

It seemed as if their disagreement about the new force-sensitive boy was put aside for the moment. That was why Obi-Wan was in this room in the first place. His master ordered him to meditate, but he had fallen asleep shortly after.

There was a long silence between the two before Obi-Wan broke it, quietly muttering, "I didn't mean to disagree with you, Master—about the boy. It's your decision, and…" Suddenly, Obi-Wan felt cold. He closed his mouth, eyes trailing to the door. It was closed, so he didn't know why he had felt that sudden chill down his spine. He lowered his head towards his shoulders shamefully, as he looked back at his master, never finishing off his sentence because he was afraid his voice might fail him again.

"I understand. I sense your sorrow," Qui-Gon stared at the boy with his ice-blue eyes, "and you're forgiven. I know this may be a hard time for you. Soon, very soon, you will not be my pada—"

"Master, please," Obi-Wan begged, his whisper hardly heard, "tell me the truth. Am I really ready for the trials?"

There was a hesitation, and Obi-Wan noticed it, no matter how small it may have been, as Qui-Gon said sternly, "Yes, you are ready." But Obi-Wan noticed it.

Obi-Wan did not answer, but only built up his mental shields so his master couldn't sense the hurt he had just inflicted on his apprentice.

"Good night, and sleep. Tomorrow will be a big day."

Obi-Wan's eyes drifted towards his master, but the door had already shut before he could answer. Peeking into their bond for a split second, Obi-Wan found that Qui-Gon was going to see Anakin. Anakin…

Obi-Wan bit his bottom lip and closed his eyes, trying to find his center, his calmness. He did for a moment before slumping over into the uncomfortable 'bed' and fell back to dreamless sleep.

- - -

Obi-Wan watched helplessly as his master knelt, meditating, as the laser shield walls went up in place, blocking him from being at his master's side. He had been too slow! The black and red tattooed monster paced back and forth, waiting, waiting…

'Master,' Obi-Wan called through their bond, 'I'm getting ready to run. I'll be at your side any moment now—any moment!'

'Yes, my padawan, keep your focus. Keep your focus—and on five. One… two, three, four… RUN!'

Obi-Wan sped as fast as he could through the laser shields that disappeared immediately and just ran. He felt all the adrenaline rush through his body like liquid. Calling up on the Force, somehow, he knew, if he hadn't done that, he would have never reached his master.

'Good,' Qui-Gon managed to say through their bond before the two Jedi were engrossed in the battle between good and evil.

The horned Sith had charged at Qui-Gon but Obi-Wan, using the Force for his quickness, jumped in front of his master, blocking the attack with his light saber. It was right then when Obi-Wan got to stare into those blood-red eyes of the demon that he was fighting.

Suddenly, nothing else seemed to matter but protecting his master from this monster. Pushing the Sith back with the force, he ran after the Sith who was still regaining himself from the blow. But Obi-Wan was on the Sith in a moment, lashing down at the demon with every power he had left in him.

The seconds seem to go by so quickly, Obi-Wan hadn't even noticed he had lunged his light saber right into the Sith's chest.

Using all his last strength, he brought his knee up into the air and kicked the monster down into the airshaft.

And the Sith fell in silence.

Obi-Wan felt himself lose his balance and he closed his eyes, his energy finally disappeared. Falling to the side, he never felt himself hit the floor. But he was clutched tightly to a panting chest. He finally fainted.

- - -

"Obi-Wan, wake up."

Feeling himself come around, Obi-Wan opened his eyes to see a deep blue.

"Master… I thought I was going to lose you."

"And I, you, Obi-Wan."

Obi-Wan smiled faintly, bringing the blanket closer to his face. He suddenly felt warm as his master stared down at him, smiling.

"Obi-Wan?" the young Jedi asked, smiling slightly. "Padawan? Well, Master, is the Sith…?"

"Yes. He's gone. Thanks to you. And you are no longer my padawan. You are to take the trials whenever you are feeling better."

Obi-Wan felt his stomach lurch for a moment as he sat up groggily. He put his fingers to his forehead, his eyes turning back at Qui-Gon but his face turned to the wall. "Anakin? You mean he…?"

"Yes, he is my padawan now. And, if you pass the trials, you will become a Jedi Knight."

"But, Master… I'm only seventeen. Most padawans take the trials when they are twenty-five…"

"I have faith in you, Obi-Wan." Qui-Gon put a hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder, sending soothing waves of sleep. But Obi-Wan pulled himself away gently, staring at his master in the eye.

"Faith? Will that be enough for me to pass?"

"No. It will not. But you will pass, and not just with my faith."

Obi-Wan didn't say anything after that. He did not know if he was ready to take the trials himself. But, the one thing he did know, was that he didn't want his braid to be severed—not just yet… But it seemed he had to, since he had no master anymore.

"Anakin is to get his hair cut. I came in to check on you—you've been asleep for about 30 hours. Would you like me to come back and check on you?" Qui-Gon said as he stood, slipping his hands inside his sleeves.

Obi-Wan said quietly, laying back down and facing the wall, "No, Master. I'm quite all right. I am to become a Knight—I must get over my silly…"

"All right. I'll see you later. May the force be with you when you are to take the trials."

Qui-Gon was out the door.

But Obi-Wan had never finished off his sentence. Building up his shields so no one could feel his thoughts, he said mumbled, closing his eyes, "I must get over my obsession over my role model: you."

"And your welcome," he said, slightly louder as if Qui-Gon was still there. "You're welcome. I saved your life. I saved your life and your welcome. There's no need for a 'thank you.'"

He jerked himself up from the healer's bed he was in and grabbed his cloak that was draped over the chair Qui-Gon was sitting in. But if he did not have a master anymore, than why did he still have a braid? And why did he and his master still share the bond? He pulled the hood over his head and made his way out into the hallway. If this was the way Qui-Gon wanted it to be, than this was the way it was to be.

He would go see Yoda now.

He suddenly felt a strong hand against his shoulder and he stopped walking.

"Qui-Gon," he began without turning around, "I need to talk to you…" But when he turned around he realized it was Mace Windu.

"Ah, Obi-Wan, we all know what you have done. We are very proud of you."

A smile came from Mace Windu—Mace Windu!

For a moment, Obi-Wan felt slightly bashful, but he quickly turned away.

"I thank you, Master Windu. But I must—this braid… Am I still padawan to…?"

Sighing, Mace Windu gripped the youth's shoulder. "No. That is what I was meaning to speak to you with."

Obi-Wan looked up at Mace Windu, straightening his shoulders so he looked as self-confident as he could—putting on a mask that hid his feelings completely. "Am I to get it severed before the trials?"

Mace Windu nodded firmly. "Follow me." The Jedi master began to walk down the opposite hallway. Taking one last look towards where Qui-Gon had left, and seeing him with the boy, Obi-Wan turned around and followed.

He could feel Qui-Gon's eyes were not on him—and he knew he wasn't noticed. He doubted his master would be there when Yoda would cut his braid. He was still not a Jedi Knight, but he did not have a master. So what was Obi-Wan now?

- - -

Obi-Wan Kenobi knelt before the short, green Jedi Master. They were still on Naboo and in a room that was absolutely breath taking. But Obi-Wan had been more focused, and didn't stare around the room to look at the marvelous statues and paintings. He was focused on Master Yoda and Master Windu.

Mace Windu's fingers were grazing across Obi-Wan's padawan braid thoughtfully.

"Never happened before, this has. Willing to get you off his hairy back, Qui-Gon is."

Despite the humor in Yoda's comment, Obi-Wan lowered his eyes. "I know. He is happy with the boy… Anakin."

"Never happy with you, you think he was?" Yoda said as he hobbled over to Obi-Wan and studied the youth carefully.

Obi-Wan did not answer. He only looked straight forward, feeling Mace's fingers on his braid.

"We'll have to cut it. There is no reason to keep it on when the boy has no master." Mace said as he took something out from his cloak.

Obi-Wan didn't dare look. He only took a deep breath and shut his eyes halfway as he stared at the ceiling.

"All right, it is," Yoda said, clicking his cane on the floor. "Take the trials, you will. Young, you are, but judge you on your age, we do not."

Feeling, suddenly, cold, Obi-Wan brought his hands around himself and straightened his back. He would let this happen if it was supposed to—and it was supposed to.

But before the knife could touch his braid, Obi-Wan blurted, "Isn't my master supposed to be here?" He looked down towards Yoda whom shook his head dismally.

"He's not your master, anymore, young one," Mace said, with his hand still on Obi-Wan's shoulder. "Right now, Anakin's hair is to be cut. He knows of this."

Obi-Wan nodded softly.

"Present at your Knighting, he will be," Yoda said, chuckling, "If not, I will hit him with my cane, nothing he fears except my cane!"

Obi-Wan still did not smile. Mace gripped his shoulder and said quietly, "If you pass the trials, everything will go smoothly. It may seem a little out of order right now… but the Force will soon put it back into place."

Obi-Wan nodded.

The grip on his shoulder loosened and it seemed like everything fell utterly silent. The only sound heard was the severing of Obi-Wan's braid.

- - -

Obi-Wan shut his eyes, feeling warmness in them, but everywhere else, he felt extremely cold as he if was just buried in a pile of melting snow. No. Not now… Not here… Not in front of Master Windu and Master Yoda… Obi-Wan opened his eyes, blinking away his tears successfully.

He put out his hands, catching the braid Mace Windu dropped in his hands.

"Be ready for the trials, young one. Now, for your bond."

Obi-Wan bowed deeply to both Jedi Masters and clutched the braid in his hands tightly. He felt Mace Windu's fingers on his forehead and he closed his eyes. It came so suddenly; Obi-Wan wasn't sure if it had happened. The bond he shared with his master was separated, then, just suddenly, disappeared. He felt very hollow.

"How, feel you?"

Obi-Wan opened his eyes, then stared down at the short Jedi Master. He opened his mouth to say, his voice cracking, "Hollow, sir…"

Yoda nodded, tapping Obi-Wan's shin with his cane. "Used to it, you will get."

"I feel empty…"

Yoda grunted, nodding his head solemnly.

Obi-Wan went on, "I don't like this, Master Yoda… Will I always feel like this? So vacant…?" He looked towards the Jedi Masters, whom did not say a word. "Always…? So cold…"

"Dismissed, you are. Meditate. Feel better after meditation, you will. Get ready for the trials."

Obi-Wan bowed deeply to the two Jedi Masters and turned around swiftly. His strides became longer. He suddenly wanted to get as far as he could from Yoda and Mace Windu. He unconsciously made his way to a small room. It was a bedroom. He didn't know whose it was, and at the moment, he didn't care. He only knew it was as empty as he was.

Shutting the door, he leaned against it and finally let his tears fall. He didn't like this feeling at all. He didn't like feeling of being so hollow.

Letting his back slide down the wall, he brought his knees to his chest and clutched himself tightly. He wasn't ready… He wasn't ready. He sobbed quietly for a long, long time.

- - -

And his thoughts were true. On the second day, Obi-Wan had taken the trials—and he failed. He knew why, as well. He was not ready. He was far too young to be separated from his master. Obi-Wan sat in the gardens. The fog seemed as thick as water. He had failed. Now what was supposed to happen? He had no one to talk to—no one to tell—no one to confide in. He still was not a Jedi Knight; he was still, a padawan, a student, and a boy still not ready to be on his own.

Qui-Gon was still not aware of his old padawan's failure, was he?

What was he supposed to do now? He figured the only thing to do was go back to Coruscant. Go back to Coruscant and study, train, maybe? He needed to pass the trials no matter what. It was his only choice in life right now. He had nothing else to do. Oh, how he wanted someone to talk to—someone that would understand… someone that would actually care.

No, he didn't need pity from anyone. All he needed was himself. If he lost himself, he didn't know what he would do…

Suddenly, he let out a wretched sob. Getting out of his mediation sitting, he brought his knees to his chest and bit his lip to stop the sobbing. He wished it were just yesterday. None of this would have happened… Qui-Gon would still be his master and the boy—the boy… would be… a slave…

No, it was better off for everyone else this way. As long it was better off for everyone else, it was fine. Obi-Wan had never thought of himself, did he? He wasn't thinking of himself when he fought off the Sith—he was thinking of his master. He saved his master's life that day. He knew. The dream he had was of the future if he had not saved his master.

But, right now, Obi-Wan was in so much more agony than he was in that blasted dream!

Shivering, the youth pulled his hood over his head and buried his face in his knees. He was so glad no one could see him right now…

"Master Obi-Wan?" came a voice that caused Obi-Wan to jump and wipe his face furiously. He peered through the fog to see a small figure standing slightly far. Obi-Wan held his breath, knowing who it was. It was Anakin Skywalker—the boy who stole his life.

"Yes?" Obi-Wan asked, clearing his throat.

"What are you doing out here? You should be inside… it's really rainy and wet."

"I was meditating."

The boy approached him, and was staring down at the Jedi. "Are you all right? You're all wet…"

"I'm fine. Please, go away, Anakin," Obi-Wan said a little louder as he turned his head away.

"I got my hair cut today," Anakin said quietly, trying to lighten the mood.

"So did I. Now, please…"

"Really?" Anakin interrupted as he knelt down. "Hey, your braids gone! I just got one—"

Obi-Wan jerked himself up, his boots sloshing around in the muddy grass he was sitting in. "I said go away. Go away. Go away. Go away… I just—I… don't know."

Swaying a little, Obi-Wan stared down at Anakin. He was a gifted boy, indeed. It was no wonder Qui-Gon had only seen him for a little while and had a liking to him. And it took years for Obi-Wan to at least try to get his master to like him while he loved this boy in nothing but a few days. Obi-Wan's face faltered and he swallowed hard.

"I'm sorry. What is it that you wanted?"

There was no need for Obi-Wan Kenobi to lose his calmness. There was no need at all.

He saw Anakin look towards the floor, not answering.

"I'm sorry… I didn't mean what I said. I just—I feel…" A Jedi does not feel. "I just… I'm sorry, young Anakin. What was it you were trying to tell me?"

Anakin looked up to Obi-Wan and smiled brightly. "I was running around with Jar-Jar and we found little frogs! I was going to give one to Qui-Gon but he's not here right now. He's with Yoda. Do you want one? We could catch one together and then I was thinking of wrapping one up for Padmè. Do girls like frogs? And then maybe we—"

Could this boy just go on talking forever? Obi-Wan forced a smile as he put his hand on the boy's spiky hair.

"… I need to train."

"Oh, Yoda told me! Did you pass the trials?"

What a wretched little boy… Obi-Wan thought as he bit his lip, his eyebrows twitching into an emotion he couldn't comprehend. Then he took a deep breath. "I'm not in a mood to speak with you right now, Anakin. Please—"

"Uh-oh! Qui-Gon's callin' me. I think I gotta go. Maybe we could catch some frogs later? But the fog might be gone… Ah! Ok, Master! I'm coming!"

The boy ran off before Obi-Wan could say anything.

Obi-Wan clenched his fists and took a deep, shaky breath. He felt tears run down his cheeks. Qui-Gon could easily replace him, so why couldn't Obi-Wan?! Because Obi-Wan loved his master dearly! He was the only family he had… But a Jedi doesn't crave love, acceptance, and a Jedi definitely does not crave anger.

But Obi-Wan was still human, wasn't he?

Didn't he deserve someone?!

Obi-Wan began to walk slowly. He didn't know where he was walking to, but he had to go somewhere far from his old master and anything that was remotely related to him. His master didn't even thank him for saving his life, did he? But that was all right. Obi-Wan knew that what he did was something that he would not regret. He loved his master no matter what.

But right now he felt so empty of all emotion except for regret. Not regret for what he had done, but regret for actually becoming a Jedi. If this was how it was all to end, then why did he want to be the best at it?!

Smile, Obi-Wan, he told himself as he began trudging back towards the palace, smile because they want you to.

Later today would be the parade—the festival, of the peace between the Gungans and Naboo. Peace… He knew his master would be there, with Anakin at his side as they watched the queen hold up the orb that represented their peace. He wished he could've felt peace.

But the parade was nothing to worry about, for it was to be later that day. And it was quite earlier that day at the moment.

Trudging his way back into the palace, leaving muddy tracks, he knew he had something to do. He didn't know what. And he didn't know when. But he suddenly had the urge to go back to his master and say something—anything. But his thoughts were so muddled he didn't realize whom he knocked himself into.

"I'm sorry," Obi-Wan muttered, his accent clear. "I'm looking for—" Wiping the mud off of his face, he turned to look up towards the man he had bumped into. "Qui-Gon…"

The older Jedi smiled warmly. He must have been looking for Anakin. "Hello again, Obi-Wan. Have you seen Ana—"

"No, Master," Obi-Wan said loudly, his eyes trailing towards the floor. "I—feel. I want—need…" No, all wrong! He should have rehearsed what to say. Now he was just babbling. "I can't understand… what this is…"

"How did your trials go?" Qui-Gon asked, placing his hands inside the sleeves of his cloak.

Obi-Wan jerked his head upward to stare at his master in the eye. That was what he wanted to say. "The trials…" Obi-Wan choked out a laugh. "The trials, Master?"

"Qui-Gon."

"The trials, Qui-Gon?"

"Yes, did you pass?" Qui-Gon seemed slightly irritated when he had said that.

The two shared a long stare at each other. Qui-Gon noticed something different about the boy's eyes. They were gray. They were a deep shade of gray that seemed to hypnotize Qui-Gon for a moment. But that moment was cut short when Obi-Wan nearly screamed.

"Did I pass?! NO! As a matter of fact, Qui-Gon, I did not!" Obi-Wan seemed out of breath, as if he was gasping out his words, "Of course I didn't pass! You know why, Qui-Gon? I didn't have a master. I didn't have a damn master to tell me better—to tell me 'NO. You're not ready.' I didn't have one! But I took the trials because you said I was. I wasn't. And I failed. I failed miserably. Now what am I? What am I supposed to do now?! I can't retake the trials until I'm ready. But I won't be ready because I have no idea why—why—why… And this boy! Master, this boy has your trust—your love—in nothing but a few days! I had to work for YEARS to be able to actually get you to like me! But now I know that was such a lie—if you could—if you could… throw me… away… so easily…"

Obi-Wan's eyes began to sting, and he quickly looked away, trying to blink back his tears. He let out too much emotion. He let out way too much emotion. He couldn't handle it. His body was trembling with sobs he wouldn't let out. His voice was quivering with words he couldn't say anymore. His breath was cut short in nothing but gasps because of all the emotion he still couldn't let out.

Suddenly, Obi-Wan laughed. His laugh was quiet, hardly audible, but it was a laugh, nonetheless.

"All these… wild emotions," he said, grinning as he looked back up at Qui-Gon. His face was streaked with tears—too many tears. "All these wild emotions flung out at you. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you… I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

"Obi-Wan Kenobi. Has this really eaten away at you that much? I have never seen you so…"

"Senseless? Stupid? Idiotic? Mad? Angry? Afraid? Afraid… oh, Master, I've never been so frightened in my entire life. Now that I feel so hollow—as if… Did you even know our bond was severed? Did you even notice you couldn't feel me? Did you notice I got my braid cut? Did you notice that you never even said 'thank you' when I had saved your life? Did you know what you did, Master? That boy… That imprudent little child… he makes me feel so terrible—I can't even say it."

"Say it. I need to know the truth."

"Do you? What will you do? You already know how much of a failure I was. This boy, you love this boy because… he is the 'chosen one,' as you say. The boy will be the end of me. Yes, he's so kind-hearted… Master, do you even know…? Do you even know what…? What he…?"

"What? What did he do, Obi-Wan? You're blubbering to me about everything. This boy is the Chosen One and he is a very gifted child."

"I know he's gifted! I know he's so much better! Stop telling me things I already know! I just want you to… to… At least, at the very least, tell me… that I was…"

"That you were what? Have I really raised such a weak, impotent Jedi?"

Obi-Wan faltered for a moment before he took a step back, more tears streaming down his face. "Y-yeah. It … looks like you did. It looks like you bent me into shape, didn't you? Look at me—I'm such a fool. This would have never happened if… Well. I don't know. Anakin is a dangerous boy—he'll be the end of me. You were just too dense to listen to the Council. Somehow, I know, you manipulated them. You made them believe the boy was good. I can still see straight—so straight. I didn't need you for that. Even though my vision is shaky—even though my fingers are quivering, I still… I… You're such a… You were a terrible mas—"

Before Obi-Wan could finish, and right in mid-sentence, he felt a hard slap against his face. Qui-Gon had slapped him right across his face. Obi-Wan tumbled back from the force of the slap. Qui-Gon was a very strong man—too strong.

"You were a terrible master," Obi-Wan finished off quietly, "and I loved you for it. But I'm sorry I couldn't be like him. I'm sorry I can't be like him. I'm sorry…" He felt his knees get shaky, the blood rushing away from his face instantly. He suddenly felt a wash of anguish and sickness rush over him. But he straightened himself and wiped his face.

His master was still silent, but watching his every move.

Obi-Wan let his fingers brush against his wet cheek, still afraid to touch it since it was burning hot. And it was the only part of him that was hot. The rest of his body was complete ice.

Ice.

"I feel cold… so cold… so empty."

Obi-Wan turned and walked away shakily. He didn't look back. He just walked as calmly as he could to his quarters at the palace, and, then, finally, felt a rush of apathy swoop over him, enveloping him as he plopped down in his plush, overstuffed bed.

He lost his will to cry. He lost his will to feel sorry for himself. He lost his every will to do anything anymore. His face was throbbing in pain. Had his mast just found out right now about how much agony he was in? Most likely.

He was to go back to Coruscant. Obi-Wan was to go back to Coruscant. He was to train himself to be able to pass the trials. That's all he needed. He only needed himself. Tomorrow he would go back to Coruscant. He would lie in his own bed for just a little while… and then he would pass the trials. Then his whole life would be ahead of him…

Right?

- - -

The next day, Obi-Wan had managed to avoid everyone. He didn't even say goodbye to anyone at all. He just boarded a vessel to Coruscant and he was there in nothing but a few hours. Right now, he stood in the middle of his room. His old room. This room would soon belong to Anakin Skywalker. Feeling like a vulnerable child again, he took his pillow and hugged it, sinking down to his knees.

No.

That was it.

He didn't care.

He didn't care what he had to live for anymore. Whatever it was, it didn't include Qui-Gon and didn't include anything he had hoped he would live up to.

Have I really raised such a weak, impotent Jedi?

Yes. Yes, Master, you have. But the thing is, you don't seem to care. Which is all right with me, I suppose. Obi-Wan stared blankly at the gray floor. He then looked up towards the ceiling, not liking the grayness of the carpet, but only to find a gray ceiling smiling down at him. So, he closed his eyes, shivering. He had been shivering ever since his master had backhanded him.

But I deserved it. I said such terrible things about him. And none of it was true. He is a great master. It was just me who was… the trash—the junk—the recycled one.

What was left for him? Taking the trials?

Why did he want to take the trials, anyway?! To please his master?! His master did not CARE!

Letting go of his pillow, he slumped against it on the floor, and reached down towards his light saber. He didn't have anything to live for. His master was happy with his new replacement. He had failed the trials, so the Jedi did not need him. What else!? Were those the only two things he would have been capable of living for if he weren't such a weak, impotent Jedi?

He pressed the nose of his light saber against the nape of his neck. All he needed to do was ignite it. Then this life would pass him by.

He wondered, would the Force comfort those after death who end their own lives?

He bit his lip and closed his eyes. No tears welled up in his eyes, and he only whimpered ever so softly that it could have been mistaken for a breeze floating throughout the void quarters of an old, severed master-padawan relationship.

I lay me down to… sleep…

- - -

His fingers wouldn't dare move to the ignite button. He couldn't do it. It was his chance, but he was far too frightened to do anything but shiver. He didn't know how long he lay there on the floor on his pillow. Maybe Qui-Gon and Anakin were approaching? He pressed the extinguished saber into his skin and closed his eyes, reaching out into the Force. He couldn't feel anything.

But he did feel the two familiar force signatures approaching.

With a whimper, Obi-Wan strained himself up from the floor to his feet, letting his saber slip out of his fingers. They couldn't come now. They couldn't see him like this. Slowly stumbling towards the balcony, he pulled his cloak tight, shivering. When he shuffled himself out onto the balcony he noticed it was just beginning to crack dawn.

He leaned against the thin railing of the balcony and his eyes wandered down… down… Coruscant was such a huge planet. To think of falling down there would be haunting. But, to actually do it… Obi-Wan leaned against the railing, taking a deep breath of the strong gust of wind that blew him to the side. If only it blew him just forward and no to the side.

Obi-Wan felt a chill run down his spine, allowing himself to begin shivering again. He lifted his leg and placed it on the railing and he lifted himself up to stand completely on the railing. It took some amount of balance, but Obi-Wan had learned balance when he was very young, indeed. He wanted the wind to push him off.

To die this way, he would just keep falling… falling… or a speeder would hit him, one or the other. To him, both choices represented the same answer, so he didn't care.

"Master Obi-Wan!" a voice gasped from behind. But Obi-Wan had shut everything else away. The only thing he focused on was the nirvana that was waiting below.

The breeze of wind seemed to get stronger. Stronger… stronger… stronger… just a little bit, ah, better… Obi-Wan felt himself tilting forward. But, suddenly, a stronger breeze rose from below and tried pushing him upward and back. No, no… Leaning forward, Obi-Wan felt someone grab onto his cold hand, trying to pull him back towards the balcony gently.

Then the gust of wind was too much, and Obi-Wan fell back into the balcony like a dead, withering leaf.

He felt himself crumble against someone strong, but he closed his eyes, not wanting to know. He didn't want to know who was there to catch him when he fell.

"Obi-Wan, open your eyes. Look at me," Qui-Gon's voice soothed as Obi-Wan felt himself getting propped up against someone warm. Feeling tepid, Obi-Wan opened his eyes and looked straight at Qui-Gon Jinn. His hand, though, was still clutched by a younger boy whom stood off to the side, staring at Obi-Wan sadly.

There were no words he needed to express what he was feeling.

Obi-Wan whispered so quietly, it could have been mistaken for the breeze, "Hold me." He snaked his hands up and into his master's cloak to wrap his shivering arms around his master's chest. Qui-Gon did not move for a moment before he looked to Anakin, nudging his head towards the room. Anakin patted Obi-Wan's hand gently and then made his way into their quarters.

"I'm sorry, Master. I'm sorry," Obi-Wan chanted quietly.

Qui-Gon stroked the boy's spiky hair, and was about to tug onto his padawan's braid and say 'everything's all right.' But it wasn't there. He felt, suddenly, very guilty for what he had done.

"I'm sorry," Qui-Gon stated. "I didn't mean to cause you so much suffering."

"The Dark side wanted me, Master. I was blind—I was too focused on myself and no one and nothing else. It won't happen again. It won't…"

"I'm glad to hear that, Obi-Wan. I am also very sorry for trying to make you take the trials. You are very young. I failed to see that. I only saw the positive things in you, Obi-Wan. I saw you as the perfect Jedi. I thought you were ready. You are, Obi-Wan, but you're still not ready to be off on your own. I had to have Yoda tell me that. He hit me in the shin with his cane quite a few times, as well. I went through a lot of pain for you."

Obi-Wan smiled, clutching onto Qui-Gon a little tighter.

"I was lost. Could you ever forgive me for trying to do something like that? That's all I ask for…"

"Of course you have my forgiveness. You weren't the only one that was blind. I was blind to see that you were still just a boy." And Qui-Gon noticed that while he ran his fingers across Obi-Wan's hair. The youth was quite small compared to Qui-Gon's body frame. "And I'm so sorry for not seeing it earlier. I did think you were ready, though. It wasn't just because of Anakin."

"I'm sorry for feeling so jealous towards the boy. He deserves everything you give him."

"Enough about the boy. Tell me, Obi-Wan, how would you feel if I would teach you for just a little while longer for the trials?"

Obi-Wan let go of his master and stared at him straight in the eye.

"Wh-what?"

"I'll train you for the trials—just a little bit longer. If the Council forbids it—well, I will do it anyway. Obi-Wan, you have potential. You'd make a great Jedi Knight. And I can't let a person like you not be able to become a Knight. It's your future—your destiny, Obi-Wan. You'd be a great, great Jedi Knight. Now, come, let us speak with the Council now."

Obi-Wan smiled brightly. He surprised himself that he had not tears running down his face at all.

"You really mean it?"

"I would never lie to you, my Obi-Wan."

"You do have a like to take in pathetic life-forms," Obi-Wan grinned, narrowing his eyes. "So it will only be until I get another chance at the trials. I will pass them, too."

"You're no pathetic life-form, believe me. I do regret taking in that Gungan. But he did become very useful."

"Jar-Jar was an idiot. I think I like this boy far better."

Smiling, Qui-Gon stood, bringing his new padawan, re-discovered, to his feet. "Just until the trials, Obi-Wan."

"Well, I know. I shouldn't get too attached to an old man like yourself."

Qui-Gon grinned, then wrapped his arms around the youth. "Good. Because I'm not sure if I could let you go a second time."

Obi-Wan couldn't tell if what he had said was sarcasm or the truth. But whichever it was, he found himself calm from those words. As he leaned his head against his master's shoulder, he stared out into the sunset. It was a bright new day. A few more days of mornings like this one and then, finally, he'd let go unhesitatingly.

x.

fin.