The Cactus Garden was sweltering in the midday sun. It was an arena like structure on top of a building, terraced with dry-stone walls, allowing the cacti the maximum amount of sunlight without leaving them open to the wind… . It was lonely and eerily silent, as if there was more desert outside, and not the usual Coruscant traffic.
Obi-Wan could easily see why Khameir loved this place so. It was the utter opposite of what he had been subjected to in his training, and it was just Obi-Wan's luck that he'd braved his master's wrath by making a stop here and meeting Camy and Aiken. Without it, who would know what might have happened.
Now Obi-Wan was waiting for Qui-Gon. Khameir was at Ronya's gallery, delivering the paintings he had finished on Oruba, and Obi-Wan had contacted his old master.
It had been half a year, which was hard to believe; it felt longer. The damage to the Temple was long since paid for, as was the Falcon. Khameir had left the couch-painting behind, as well as some smaller pieces, together with a note of ownership, in lieu of hard currency.
Sometimes Obi-Wan missed the Temple. He had one of the sketches from the couch-painting, and he knew that Garen, Bant and Siri had received the same for their trouble of sitting through several hours of other vids just so that Khameir could get the color and lighting right.
Maybe they had burned theirs. It would be all too understandable.
Obi-Wan cast out with his senses, but there was no threat. The Council still had a score to settle with him, but he'd asked Qui-Gon for a meeting alone, and to bring a knife.
Finally, he felt his former master approach.
"Master Qui-Gon", he greeted and rose. It was a lot more awkward than he had anticipated.
Silence settled and made to unpack the picnic basket before Obi-Wan found something to say.
"Are you doing well?"
"It could be worse." There were more lines on Qui-Gon's face than before. "How are you doing?"
"Very well, thank you." They were hunting slavers and pirates for a living, and it was a satisfying occupation. Things with Khameir were sometimes smooth, sometimes bumpy, but that wasn't exactly a revelation. However, they wouldn't come to a stop anytime soon.
"So why did you ask me to come here?"
"To apologize. I shouldn't have emulated Khameir and tried to work things out on my own. It was a very immature thing to do. The decision would have been the same, but it might have been less painful."
Qui-Gon nodded, but didn't offer any words of forgiveness.
"Also, I would like to make things formal." He tugged at his Padawan braid. "I searched my heart and found myself unfit to be a Jedi. Master Qui-Gon, I therefore ask you to take this braid from me and thus release me from service."
It was a ritual to sever a training bond, rather depressing, and degrading, but necessary. Obi-Wan steadied his breath and waited at his end of the connection.
"I claim this braid as a remainder of your failure", Qui-Gon said at last. He produced the knife and ever so carefully cut the braid without touching Obi-Wan's skin even once. "You enter your new life without any mark of learning, skill or honor. May you earn yourself such anew as the time passes."
Obi-Wan tugged at his end of the bond, and it unraveled. The hole it left wasn't quite as big as expected.
"Thank you, Master. May the Force be with you."
"And with you, Obi-Wan Kenobi."
Obi-Wan turned and walked off, although Qui-Gon looked ready to burst into tears on the spot, and like he might need some comfort. Yet all the Master would do was meditate.
When Obi-Wan cried himself to sleep that night, and Khameir whispered nonsense into his ear to soothe the pain, he found that he much preferred his method.
So. This is it. I hope you enjoyed reading this, and I would like to thank everyone who left their carefully guarded anonymity and wrote a review.