Title: Point Me Toward Tomorrow
Author's Note: This is my first effort in the realm of fan fiction. It is unbetaed. All mistakes are my own.
Disclaimer: Star Wars is the property of George Lucas & Lucasfilm Ltd.
"Is this seat taken, my friend?"
As Obi-Wan Kenobi shook his head, the handsome dark haired gentleman slid inside the bar booth.
"Small galaxy, isn't it?"
The Jedi knight chuckled, "Not really, I thought I might run into you, Xanatos."
At the man's bemused look, Obi-Wan patiently sipped his Corellian ale before explaining. "I can't believe it's mere coincidence I was assigned to mediate a mining dispute on Rem Severon, which happens to be situated in the neighboring sector of Telos."
"News travels fast. Can't I offer up congratulations on your ascension to knighthood without arousing your suspicions?"
The Jedi slightly tipped his head graciously in acknowledgment.
"Qui-Gon must be very proud."
Suddenly, cool cerulean eyes turned stormy grey distinctly marking the young man's pique at the mention of a sensitive topic. "I'm celebrating the completion of my first successful mission as a full fledged Knight. Feel free to join me in getting stinking drunk."
"An admirable way to pass the evening, if you're looking to drown your sorrows in a bottle."
Clearly not offended by the remark, Obi-Wan suggested, "Stay and I'll regale you by admitting how right you were lo those many years ago on Bandomeer."
The noble raised an eyebrow intrigued, "And what tidbit of wisdom did I impart leaving you with such a lasting impression?"
"As I recall, when we first met, you said that I would never be good enough for the likes of Qui-Gon Jinn."
"Don't take what I said on Bandomeer to heart, Kenobi. I didn't even know you then. It was a taunt, pure and simple."
"Nevertheless, truer words were never spoken."
The Telosian motioned to the service droid for a drink, "I heard about Naboo."
"Still spying on your favorite master and apprentice team. Just how accurate are your informants?"
"You'd be surprised how thorough my sources are. Especially those who sit on Council," he redirected the subject, "You slew a Sith. Very impressive."
Leaning forward as if to convey a secret, the Jedi confessed, "I went Darkside while doing it."
"Did you?" Xanatos grinned amusingly. "Kenobi, you are so full of Light, you practically glow. You may have channeled your anger in the heat of battle, but you were no where near turning."
"And how would you know?"
The older man replied smugly, "Oh, I rather consider myself an expert on the subject."
Obi-Wan decided not the argue the point, "This isn't the type of establishment that I would imagine you'd frequent, Xanatos, so why the social visit?"
"Believe it or not, I'm not here to gloat and rub salt in your wounds. Breaking away from your master is something I can actually identify with. Quite frankly, the old man was always a fine taskmaster where you were concerned. So utterly wrapped up in his fear of failing that he drove you infinitely harder than necessary."
The Jedi shrugged, "I am the knight you see before you today, primarily because of his teachings. It may have been a slow tumultuous start, but I've always been grateful that he took me on, even though in the beginning it begrudged him to do so."
Xanatos downed his drink and requested another. "I'm sure as the devoted, dutiful padawan, you are well versed and accepting of his virtues as well as his failings, but there are limits to how much abuse your self-respect can take."
Obi-Wan sadly concurred and suddenly saw the man before him in a new light. Instead of his mortal adversary, he saw the only person who intimately understood what it was like to walk in his apprentice boots. The kinship felt strange, yet somewhat comforting leading the knight to release his pent up frustration.
"He totally blindsided me in Council chambers. I knew he was determined to see his 'chosen one' trained, but I still can't get over how casually he dismissed me for a boy he's only known for a few days." It felt good to vent, so he continued, "His assessment in nominating me for Trials was very enlightening, not to mention lukewarm. He declared me head strong...said I still had a lot to learn about the Living Force. The most defining word he attributed to me was capable." Shaking his head at the dispiriting memory, "...capable."
It was apparent the lackluster appraisal had wounded the young Jedi's self esteem and the older man knew better than to show any trace of pity. "He must have explained his actions later on, voiced some regret. We're talking about the Master of compassion for all life forms here."
"Actually, I was the one who apologized to him."
"For not behaving like a faithful padawan and deferring to his wisdom about the matter. For following my instincts and advocating caution which he probably only misconstrued as jealousy." Shaking his head in consternation, "I thought I knew him. I thought he valued my perspective. Why bother teach me to speak my mind, then refuse to respect my opinion?"
"Aren't you familiar with Qui-Gon Jinn's doctrine of The master's always right, even when he's categorically wrong."
The younger man tilted his head and smirked at the quip.
Xanatos, pleased that he was able to make his companion crack a smile, asked, "Was he sorry at all for how he handled things?"
Obi-Wan's expression turned serious once more. "Why would he be, when he wholeheartedly believes he is following the Will of the Force?"
The Telosian chuckled in dismayed amusement. "Let me get this straight. He dumps you declaring you're good enough to be his equal and yet at the same time demands you kowtow to him like a padawan."
"Technically, I was still his apprentice, but even so the irony doesn't escape me."
Xanatos delved deeper. "Surely, the old man must have opened up to you at some point. If not after saving his life, than after cutting your braid."
Obi-Wan uncomfortably shifted in his seat and cleared his throat, "There wasn't an official ceremony."
The noble stared incredulously. "Do tell."
With a heavy sigh, the knight took a sip of his drink before elaborating, "Master Yoda privately explained to me that in light of my killing the Sith warrior and saving my master, I was to be knighted. At first, I hesitated. It just didn't feel right for me to skip Trials. Having predicted my reaction, Master Yoda told me both he and Master Windu conferred earlier and agreed that it was my decision. However, if I chose to follow tradition, I needed to have Qui-Gon's permission."
"Let me guess. He said No."
A sadness overtook the young knight as he shook his head. "I never got the chance to ask. While walking back to the recovery room, Master Yoda and I could hear Qui-Gon and Mace Windu in the middle of a heated exchange. Mace was broaching the possibility of my taking Trials, but Master was adamantly claiming they were unnecessary. He insisted that it was of the utmost importance that I be be knighted immediately for he had a new padawan to train. After which, he stated quite clearly that he was done with me, that he had cut me loose and that I wasn't his concern anymore."
Xanatos let out a deep breath he was holding.
"Until then, I naively thought I'd actually overcome the insecure feelings I had as a rejected thirteen year old initiate, but the painful memories just came rushing back. Suddenly, it didn't matter if I was only to be knighted out of expediency. I had no intention of staying where I was no longer welcome. So I gave him what he wanted. I told Master Yoda to knight me on the spot."
The young man recalled the event with a deadpan voice and expression. "I felt totally numb. I knelt and after a few ritual words were spoken, Qui-Gon cut off my braid. It was a rather somber moment. No one said a word until I stood and thanked Qui-Gon for the time and effort he invested in me...then I couldn't get away fast enough."
Silence settled between the two until the former Jedi pointed out, "It's not a weakness to want respect, especially if you've earned it. Not to mention, it's a real kick in the teeth to desperately want your master's approval and be bitterly disappointed."
The ginger head nodded. "Though contrary to what you might think, my self-image isn't so bent out of shape that I consider myself a complete washout as a Jedi. Simply living up to Qui-Gon Jinn's standards made me work and strive harder any of my other peers. It's just that I've always come away with the sinking feeling that I've let him down. That I was never good enough, let alone anyone special."
"That statement couldn't be further from the truth, Obi-Wan. You had the impossible task of living in my shadow and even if you were the perfect padawan, as I've heard you've been dubbed, trust me, Qui-Gon Jinn would have never admitted it."
Obi-Wan modestly blushed at the reference to his well bandied moniker and abruptly changed the subject, "All things considered, I'm done recounting my sob story. It's your turn, Xanatos. Care to share any depressing master/apprentice stories with me. I've never actually heard the first hand account of your fall from grace."
"The night's still young. I may very well unload a tale or two myself," the Telosian amicably answered as he ordered the most expensive bottle of vintage Alderrean wine available. "You do realize, you'll have to go back to Coruscant and face him eventually."
"It may be a while," the knight reasoned, "the Jedi are in constant demand and spread pretty thin throughout the galaxy. There's plenty of field work to be had."
Downing another drink, Xanatos was frank. "You sell yourself way too short, Obi-Wan. You actually saved him from becoming an bitter lonely old man. After I turned, it was you who healed the scars I left."
The young man begged to differ, "You give me too much credit. Anyway it's hard to forget how badly he didn't wanted me in the first place. How I had to practically force him into accepting me as his padawan. In the end, if I'm totally honest with myself, all I was, was someone to keep him occupied until the one he truly wanted came along."
"The man's an oblivious fool who's probably realized by now the blunders he's made concerning you and is kicking himself as we speak."
"Perhaps," Obi-Wan smiled. "More than likely, he calmly accepted my departure and simply moved on with his life."
Xanatos pointed his finger at the Jedi in emphasis, "Something you should do as well. There's no room for doubt. Your successful mission here proves you can stand on your own. It's time to move forward without looking back."
"Is that more of your expert opinion?"
"Just some friendly advice. It seemed like an eternity before I let go of my obsession with vengeance. Until I realized that the vendetta was eating me alive from the inside out. Make no mistake, I still have serious issues with our former master. I simply refuse to let my negative emotions for the man ruin the quality of my life any further."
The younger man looked upon his companion with a new found admiration. "You've mellowed. You certainly don't carry that aura of lethal darkness anymore. There's a definite difference between you and that purely evil Sith monstrosity I encountered on Naboo."
A sly smile graced the noble's lips. "Careful, or you'll ruin my reputation." Raising his glass, Xanatos toasted, "To Knight Kenobi. With special commendation for managing to survive an apprenticeship with the renown, but obstinate Qui-Gon Jinn."
A lighter-hearted Obi-Wan grinned as the two clinked glasses, "It was very decent of you to stop by, Xan," he said then added sincerely, "I appreciate the sympathetic ear and understanding shoulder to lean on."
"Don't mention it, little brother. Now, let start working on that hangover you'll live to regret tomorrow, meanwhile I'll tell you the tale of my final days as a Jedi..."