The Path of a Jedi
Book I: A new life, Part I: From the beginning
Period: Jedi Apprentice to TPM and after it
Rating: T, to be secure
Spoilers: all movies
Disclaimer: Own nothing. Everything belongs to George Lucas
Summary: AU, Obi-Wan finds himself back in time and must decide which path to take
Pairing(s): No pairing in Part I. Will be Obidala later, so if this is not your cup of tea, don't bother to read
"I hate you!"
Once more, he felt his heart stop in his chest, responding in despair: "You were my brother, Anakin, I loved you."
Obi-Wan jolted awake, covered with sweat, breathing fitfully. His head ached as if someone had smashed him in the head repeatedly. He slowly sat up in bed and massaged his temples, trying to get a grip. Another nightmare, he groaned, asking himself when it would finally stop.
He got up because, after years of torment, he knew all too well that sleep would elude him for the rest of the night. He entered his small kitchen, trying to find something to drink against a pounding headache that made him almost weep. Exhausted from the realistic dream, he poured water into a glass and sat down at the table. Letting out a deep sigh, he covered his face with his hands. This was happening almost every night now.
The first years on Tatooine, he had been able to sleep three out of four nights; now, he felt relieved if he slept more than one night a week. Every night it came. He had tried to fight the emotional turbulence it brought, but no amount of meditation helped calm him. He would try to reach into the Force to help him, but it seemed reluctant to yield any answers to his dilemma. The guilt over what had happened years ago was making him sick to his stomach. As a Jedi, he knew he had to get over these feelings; he was even almost able to hear his former Master telling him not to dwell on the past.
"Yes, Master, I know that!" he said wryly, surprised that his voice sounded so hoarse even after his drink. "But how? Meditation won't help, and there is no one here to help me get through this, as you seem to have decided to stay away from me."
A long time ago, in another lifetime on the Tantive IV, Master Yoda had given him instructions on how to reach his former Master Qui-Gon through the Force. But all his tries had been futile, and after several years he had just given up, figuring that Qui-Gon Jinn wasn't ready to forgive him his failure.
Frantically Obi-Wan took the glass and smashed it at the wall, for once giving in to his frustration. There he was, an accomplished Jedi Master not able to cope with his past. He felt his anger rising, and he couldn't feel remorse about it. Too many nights had he tried to deal with this like a Jedi was supposed to.
"Be careful, Padawan. You could have hit me with this." The voice sounded slightly amused. Obi-Wan almost jumped out of his skin when seeing the blue-shimmering form of Qui-Gon Jinn standing there, his lips tugging in the hint of a smile.
"How?" Obi-Wan whispered, awe evident in his voice. He hadn't even tried to reach him this time. How was it possible that he was suddenly standing there?
"The time was right, Obi-Wan," his former Master simply replied and took a seat opposite the younger man. He looked just like the man who had died on Naboo except for the blue shimmering around him that indicated that he wasn't alive.
"And you decided that?" Obi-Wan asked, fighting the sarcasm in his tone but failing. How was he supposed to react? After years of torment, Qui-Gon just showed up, sitting there, smiling?
"No. The Force has decided. I am merely a tool. I am here to put an end to this. You have harbored your feelings of guilt long enough, and it is time to let go, Obi-Wan, let me help you." Qui-Gon smiled at him, and when Obi-Wan didn't react but gave him an incredulous look, he continued. "All that happened, Anakin, the Jedi, Padme, the twins. . . . It's not your fault, Padawan, you have to realize this and finally do something about it."
The younger man seemed to search for the right words, then not able to elaborate a suitable phrase, he blurted out, "How can you say that? I was responsible for him; I was supposed to guide him, teach him the nature of the Force. I should have been his teacher, the one he could turn to. The one who should have known what he was capable of before it happened. I should have seen it. But all I've done was to love him. I loved him so much I even turned a blind eye to his flaws. I disregarded the code, and I formed an attachment, an attachment so deep that I wasn't able to see what was coming!"
Qui-Gon looked at him with surprise. "That's the core of your guilt? You think you failed because you loved him?"
"Yes, how could that not have been what blinded me? If I hadn't loved him that much, I would have realized his anger and his closeness to the Dark Side. My attachment prevented me from feeling it. I've never thought he would let me down; I was so sure about him. We were like brothers. How could I even begin to think that he would betray me like that? Had I kept my distance as the Council wanted me to, I would have seen it, I would have felt it. I would never have. . . ."
"Obi-Wan, stop it!" Qui-Gon stepped in with a stern voice, "I disagree. Love never leads to the Dark Side. I loved you like a son, but I've never been blind to your flaws, and if I remember correctly, you have seen Anakin's flaws quite well. You even pointed them out to the Council. They chose to ignore it. Regarding the last days before Anakin's fall, many things led to his decision, but in the end, it was a choice he made. There never is only one person responsible for such a downfall. You must know this!"
"What does that mean? Do you suggest I did nothing wrong? How can I believe this, Master? This is even more frustrating. I can't accept his turn had been unavoidable. This wasn't some destiny; there must have been a way to save him!" Shaking his head, the young man stood up and began to pace, trying to rein in the emotions that came with this conversation.
"No, I didn't say that. You need to listen carefully. I said it wasn't your love, and it wasn't your behavior alone, which has created the situation. Many small things added to the fall of Anakin Skywalker – the Council – the Code – Palpatine – his attachment to Padme. Above all, there was his fear and his inability to deal with it. And, yes, Obi-Wan, you weren't able to teach him that, but you weren't the only one responsible for it. Even I have my deal of responsibility in this. Perhaps I was wrong when I decided to take him with us. Maybe the Council was right, but there is also the possibility the situation would have been worse if I had left him on Tatooine. We don't know that – We'll never know. I need you to move on. Concentrate on the here and now, and examine the past to learn for the future. Don't bathe in your guilt."
Obi-Wan looked at the fading form of his former Master, not believing that he was leaving him again. "Don't you do this to me!" he exclaimed, "How dare you throwing this at me and leaving me to deal with it on my own?" He took a deep breath, fighting against the anger within him. Qui-Gon was gone. He had given him everything that the Force deemed necessary and was once more elusive. But what did that mean? Examining the past to learn about the future? He thought he had done that, but being honest with himself, he needed to admit that Qui-Gon had a point. He hadn't looked at his actions to learn but to confirm his responsibility for everything that had happened.
What was he to do with this now? He needed to meditate to explore what the Force wanted him to do. With eager willingness, he moved outside, where the suns of Tatooine were rising right now. Obi-Wan sank to his knees and almost immediately went into a meditative state. For the first time since Mustafar, he felt calm enough to give himself over to deep meditation. He reached through the Force and was met with its soothing energy.
He suddenly understood why he hadn't been able to get answers before. The Force had wanted to teach him a lesson, and he had denied it, covering the will of the Force with his feelings. He drifted away on the soft waves without noticing how deep he sunk into his meditation. The Force seemed to guide him and lead him, and he merely obeyed.
Mustafar emerged, and for the first time, Obi-Wan was able to see what had happened there as an outstanding spectator. He was led through the Clone Wars, Geonosis, and his whole Mastership with Anakin. When he reached Naboo, he felt a stab of pain, realizing there were things hidden he hadn't yet sorted out. And slowly, he paced back in time, more and more deeply unified with the Force. He let go of everything and just felt the soothing waves, floating with them wherever the Force wanted him to take.