Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with George Lucas or Star Wars. I have borrowed some people and a lot of the world created by Dave Wolverton and Jude Watson from the Jedi Apprentice books, but they are not mine. I am making no money off of this.
Writer's Note: This started as a random idea, I don't even know where I got it. I realized at some point that another fic I was working on dovetailed nicely into it - that is book two. If I get it written, there might even be a book three.
Writer's Note 2: I can't believe I forgot! Many, many thanks to Jovieve for beta reading this, and for helping me to fix all the problems I didn't even know existed. You are awsome. Thanks.
Ch 1: "My Eyes Had no More Tears to Cry" - 98 Degrees, My Everything
Obi-Wan Kenobi stood before the Jedi Council, listening as his third Master in two years told them he could not be trained. Master Toman's voice was regretful, quiet, a tone Obi-Wan had not heard from him in a long time, and it echoed slightly in the round room. He was silent, his eyes on the floor but not even trying to find patterns in the tile below his feet, fighting the feelings that welled up in him. He couldn't give in, not yet, so he fought to keep the Force around him calm. He knew he failed. He seemed to fail at everything lately.
He could tell when the Council stopped listening to Master Toman and turned their attention to him. Their eyes bored holes into his soul.
"What have you to say?" Yoda asked, his voice carefully neutral.
Obi-Wan shook his head without looking up and nearly lost his balance. It would make no difference if he said anything, and might well make it worse; it had the last two times. It was definitely better to remain quiet. Besides, the less he said, the sooner he could get the cold pack from his room to try to help his knee. He clamped down heavily on the ache to strengthen his stance at least a while longer.
"Thank you, Master Toman," Mace Windu said. "Obi-Wan, that will be all."
He bowed and turned to leave without looking up, trying to hide how relieved he was and knowing he'd failed in that too. He managed to get out of the room without limping, and as soon as the doors closed behind him he fled, ignoring the pain in his knee and the surprised and disapproving looks from the Knights as he ran past them. He wound up in a small, little-known garden spot in the temple, one that Bant had found and shared with him, nestled in a corner of the thirty-second floor. It consisted of a tree and a small pool just big enough for her to wade in. A bench sat next to the pool, and to one side was a small grassy spot perfect for meditation. He was nearly staggering by the time he reached the little garden, and limping heavily. He stopped, wavering, then leaned against the tree and slid down it to catch his breath and to try to get himself in control, one knee pulled up to his chest, his injured leg stretched out in front of him. Before long, he had fallen into a half doze that even the rumbling of his stomach did nothing to break.
"I wondered where you'd gone."
The voice was calm, even gentle, and unexpected. Obi-Wan raised his eyes only far enough to see that it was a Knight, at least, who addressed him. It took a minute for that to get through the haze in his mind, and as soon as it did, he started to get up. It was no good; he'd been worked hard that morning, then his Master - former Master, now - had told him that the Council was waiting to see him. There had been no time to cool down, no time to tend to his knee at all. He'd barely had time to change into a fresh tunic, noting in passing that his few belongings had been gone through again. He'd been glad he'd thought to hide his mother's bracelet better this time, and had tucked it into an inside pocket of his tunic. He didn't want to have to track it down again.
He tried again to get to his feet, and this time a large hand closed on his elbow, giving him much needed support. "I'm sorry, sir," he said softly, once he was on his feet. "Usually I…." He stopped as he felt the Force whisper around his body. Trembling slightly, he closed his eyes and braced himself for the mental invasion.
"When was the last time you visited the healers?"
His eyes shot open in surprise and some panic to see someone he didn't know, catching a glimpse of long dark hair and a face with a broken nose before he dropped them immediately, even more sure of a mental invasion in spite of the kindness in the stranger's dark eyes. "I'm fine. Really."
The hand on his arm let him go, and the Jedi Knight stepped back, out of his way. "Very well, then. Return to your quarters."
Obi-Wan bowed slightly, gathered what composure and strength he had left, and strode from the garden. Once in the hallway, away from the Knight, he slowed and let himself limp as he made his way to his quarters, taking the lift in spite of disapproving looks from a couple of Knights who left the one he boarded. In the two years he'd been Padawan, under three different Masters, he'd been told to remain in his quarters in the student's wing. He'd been forced to watch others, many of them friends, move to the shared quarters as they were chosen and hide how disappointed and frustrated he was with it. He had finally quit caring. Or so he told himself.
He looked up and smiled shyly at his dearest friend. "Hi, Bant."
"Are you okay?" The Mon Calamari girl looked worried.
He shrugged as she fell into step beside him. "Yeah, I guess. Why?" He didn't tell her he wasn't feeling well, and even a little light-headed. He hadn't eaten since breakfast; that had been light and under Toman's scornful eye. He didn't know how long he'd been in the corner garden. He could definitely use a drink of water, too, but that would have to wait until he got back to his quarters. They weren't far, now. He was also looking forward to a nap; as far as he knew, he finally had nowhere to be. It was almost a relief.
"They said you were called before the council," she said softly.
Obi-Wan sighed, not so surprised the news had gone around the Temple already. Master Toman hadn't been quiet about telling him of his summons. "Yes. Toman has repudiated me. I'm not his Padawan any longer." He still didn't really believe it. Even saying the words out loud didn't make it real. He wondered if it was because Master Toman had kept him for a year, longer than the other two. He wondered if it would ever sink in. It hadn't been real the last two times, either. He couldn't remember when it had sunk in then, or even if it had. Both Master Denk and Master Toman had chosen him so quickly afterward that it was almost as if he hadn't ever been repudiated at all.
Bant walked along silently beside him. "I'm sorry," she said softly. "What will you do now?"
"I don't know. I was told to return to my quarters." He paused at his door and managed a smile that he hoped didn't look as fake as it felt. Bant deserved better than that. "So I did. Until later." One good thing about being on the initiate floor instead of the wing with his Masters was that Bant hadn't left yet. When she did, he didn't know what he'd do. He'd certainly care that he was still there then.
"Want to meet for dinner?" she asked.
"Yeah, that sounds good. I'll see you then."
Obi-Wan closed the door and leaned against it, fighting the spots that swam before his eyes. He needed to get to his bed and sleep; that would help him feel better. And Bant would wake him up when he didn't meet her for dinner, if he slept that long. He took a step toward the bed and everything went black.