Jedi Temple, Coruscant

22 BBY

There were at least eighty people in the holovid area of the archives, masters and padawans alike, pressed close together around the projector that was showing live reports from the vid news.

"…Scene of turmoil here at the Senate landing pad as ground crews begin to clear the wreckage and investigators begin the slow process of determining the perpetrator of this vile act…"

Obi-Wan sent a surreptitious look at his padawan, cringing at the profound waves of rage and anguish Anakin was sending. The young man's fists were clenched, and his mind was as well. Obi-Wan shook his head slightly. He had learned a great deal during their decade together. But nothing could have prepared him for this, though he had feared something of this kind when they had left Theed after the invasion. Anakin took a shuddering breath, closing his eyes. Obi-Wan felt him attempting to release his tumult into the Force, and felt his failure. He had to get Anakin away from the reports and prying eyes, find some way to provide a healing balm to the black lesion that was spreading across his consciousness.

"…Just in, we are now receiving reports that Padme Naberrie is unharmed. The casualties on the landing pad we previously reported are now believed to be a decoy and handmaiden of the senator…"

Obi-Wan's and Anakin's heads jerked up in unison. Anakin exhaled convulsively, his hands relaxing and his eyes widening in hope. It came to Obi-Wan as a stunning blow in the vicinity of his gut, his former sadness at the loss of an old friend flaring into a bottomless horror at the loss of another.

"Thank the Force, " Anakin exclaimed rather thoughtlessly, and then turned to Obi-Wan as their connection alerted him. "Master?"

Obi-Wan was backing away from the projector. "Just…" He gasped for air, turning to hurry out of the archives. "Just wait here."

Masters, knights, and padawans scrambled out of his way as he half-ran through the corridors, his thoughts racing as he looked for solitude somewhere, anywhere. To his great relief he found the Hall of a Thousand Fountains empty. Probably everyone was gathered around the holovids sprinkled in various parts of the temple. Probably…

He leaned on one of the fountains, closing his eyes against the cooling spray. His muscles seemed to turn to water as well. He sank onto the lip of the fountain, one hand coming up shakily to rake through his hair.

"Our own weaknesses we never see until mirrored in the eyes of our padawans they are," Master Yoda had said once.

Indeed, Obi-Wan thought, his head bowing. Indeed.

There had been one letter from her, about three months after he and Anakin had left Naboo. His joy at seeing her carefully written name on the flimsy envelope had been unprecedented. But he'd realized soon enough how inappropriate his eagerness and haste were in opening the letter, and after staring at the folded parchment for a full minute, he'd reluctantly discarded it unread. Despite his caution, over the years there had been moments in the hazy place between wakefulness and sleep when he could feel the distant, flickering pulse; the dim signal of a force presence somehow unlike any other he had encountered.

Why had he not sensed it? It couldn't be true, because he had had no inkling of it. Surely if she had…


But it was as the Masters had said. The dark side clouded everything now. Everyone had noticed the clarity of the Force weakening. Even Master Yoda was not as certain now as he once had been.

"Master Kenobi."

"What!" Obi-Wan snapped, rounding on the shrinking padawan with flashing eyes.

The squib padawan seemed to become two feet shorter, his large, flat black eyes becoming even larger. "Forgive me, Master. You are being summoned by the Council."

"What do they want?" He knew the padawan didn't really deserve the tone he was using, but he couldn't seem to help it. Why now of all times?

"I'm not certain, Master Kenobi. But I believe you will be assigned to the Naberrie assassination attempt."

Obi-Wan looked back at the rushing curtains of water, the light catching all the little drops in a myriad of colors and patterns. He forced himself to breathe slowly. If there was anything of a Jedi in him, it had to take over now.

"Master?" the padawan said timidly.

Control trickled back into his mind. "Tell them I will be along momentarily," he said quietly.

The padawan bowed and practically ran from the Hall. Obi-Wan stood slowly, brushing the dampness from the front of his robe, passing one hand over his eyes. Then he turned and followed the path of the padawan, squaring his shoulders to his duty.

A/N : Here's my theory on why Obi-Wan was so grumpy through AOTC. As far as I can tell, here wasn't much time for chitchat and correcting misconceptions in between the assassination attempt and the Battle of Geonosis.

So, that's it for now! I hope you enjoyed this, and your reviews have been so kind and very much appreciated. Keep a look out for the sequel. I'm calling it The Grey Divide and it is Post AOTC, Pre ROTS era.