TPM Tatooine Rewrite: Through Glass
chapter twenty-nine: through the glass
I'm looking at you through the glass, I don't know how much
Time has passed; all I know is that it feels like forever…
"I will never be a Jedi, will I?"
The old Jedi's ears drooped at the quiet certainty in Obi-Wan's question, his wizened face twisting in sorrow.
"Help in different ways, little Obi-Wan, we all do," Yoda repeated softly, and Obi-Wan's head dropped back to his chest, a strangled whimper barely cresting past his thinned lips.
The Jedi Master remained with the grieving man, stroking Obi-Wan's hair and murmuring gentle words of strength; and in the solitude of the small room allowing himself, the observer Delian imagined, far more emotion than Jedi were reputed to be allowed. Finally, Obi-Wan lifted his head and nodded tightly at the small Master and Yoda nodded in return, an encouraging smile brightening his small, sad expression.
"Meet you later at the loading dock, I will," he murmured, giving Obi-Wan's shoulder a last squeeze and hobbling out slowly, giving Delian - still pressed in the corner trying to avoid being noticed and consequently sent away - an unreadable glance. Delian waited until he had disappeared around the doorframe before inching out from the wall and back toward Kenobi, sinking down next to where Obi-Wan still sat listlessly. Feeling more exhausted than she should - Kenobi's breakdowns had that effect on her - she gently rested her slumping form against the bed frame as Kenobi lifted his head to look at her questioningly, his bloodshot eyes settling on her warily. His expression struggled for a moment before settling on tired acceptance and he gingerly shifted around uncomfortably until he was sitting beside her while still leaving a considerable amount of space between them. Delian hid a wistful sigh at the distance; the last time she had held him, she had been fighting to save his life, and the Corellian longed to replace that horrific memory with something more sweetly pleasant.
But she would take him any way she could have him. Even sitting next to his broken down shell was better than not being with him at all, and she hadn't given up on him. Some unmentioned pricks might have though they'd found something 'better,' but Delian wasn't letting Kenobi slide away. She couldn't.
She studied him discreetly as he labored cautiously to position himself - Kest, he was thin even under the thickly warm clothes he was bundled in, and he had a shudder to his slight frame now that wouldn't quite disappear. The long sleeves of his tunic covered the multitude of puncture marks and scars riddling his arms as he braced himself carefully to swing into a slouch that would ease some of the pain still lingering in his lithe body. He gently but wearily tipped his head back against the bed, his tiredly closed eyelids covering the dull grey eyes beneath. There was nothing but agony written across his exhausted face; the life had gone out of his once laughing eyes, the creases in their corners now born from anguish rather than amusement, and the humor had long left his full mouth.
But despite his evident fatigue, Kenobi seemed to have regained some strength since Master Yoda had visited, some small flashes of the man he used to be peeking through; his aura was steadier. But he was still … off.
They said nothing for a long time, they just sat; occasionally a Healer would pad in to check on the Jedi - as Delian had expected they would after Obi-Wan's earlier outburst - but as he was calm and silent they did their work efficiently and moved on.
Delian irritably pushed down the quiet longing to reach for him. He so clearly needed comfort; she was surprised that Yoda had been able to touch him at all but she suspected that Yoda - and the despised Qui-Gon Jinn - were the closest thing to family that Kenobi had.
The Corellian traced a fingertip across the floor absently in the space between them, needing to break the resigned, desolate silence that enveloped the room.
"What for you now, Obi-Wan Kenobi?" she wondered aloud, skewing a look at his drawn face. His eyes remained closed as he answered quietly but firmly,
"I don't want to be a farmer, Delian."
"Well," she drawled, allowing a little smile into her voice, "you could stay with me. I think I still own a little piece of you."
It was the wrong thing to say: he tensed so fiercely she almost expected his white knuckles to burst from his callused skin.
"I think someone else owns a lot more of me," he murmured tightly. Before she could stutter out an apology, he switched tracks quickly, resolutely steering himself back onto less unsteady ground. "I need to be a Jedi, Delian. It's what I'm meant to do."
He finally opened his eyes, leveling a somber, desperate grey gaze at her with enough Light in it that she knew he was convinced of the truth of his words, that that small conviction was the one thing keeping him from completely losing his sanity.
"I don't have a choice."
A Calamari healer poked her head in through the open doorway, her husky voice thick with regret. "Obi-Wan, your departure time has been moved up; you'll be leaving for Bandomeer within the hour."
Obi-Wan sighed, a breath gusting from his lips. "I'm not surprised, after that little tantrum," he admitted wryly. "I didn't mean to, I just feel so … angry," he confessed bitterly, darting a nervous glance toward the door, trying, maybe, to keep the healers from overhearing him. "And confused. And … " another pause as he hunted for the right word, stumbling just slightly as he settled on, "fractured." He tried for a self-deprecating shrug, but Delian could see how bothered he was. "I can't control what I'm doing sometimes. Just like when … " he trailed off, a lost and wounded man who still couldn't comprehend the horrible things that had been done to him and the familiar life that had been torn away despite his best efforts.
From within his tunic, he withdrew the Padawan braid that Qui-Gon had returned to him, looking at it, almost through it as he rubbed at it with his thumb. Delian wisely stayed quiet this time, just watching him work through his thoughts.
"I wanted to help," Obi-Wan finally said softly. "I wanted Master Qui-Gon to remember that he could rely on me."
Delian couldn't hold her tongue at that. "Why do you even care what that prick thinks?" she snapped in exasperation, her ire rising at the thought of her last conversation with Qui-Gon. "He's an ass."
Kenobi frowned tiredly, allowing his hands to drop loosely over his upraised knees. "No. He's … determined. Driven." He slewed a glace at her, quiet conviction in his eyes. "I wish he were here."
"After everything?" The blonde asked incredulously. "The podrace and Anakin and all that shit, you still care about him? What the hell for?"
Obi-Wan's gaze on her sharpened, a burning pinpoint of feverish light in them as he said quietly, "Yes. I still care about him." He shifted his lithe body, clenching his teeth as his wounded leg scraped across the floor, his severed braid tumbling to the floor, ignored for the moment.
"I remember … sometimes," he mumbled, "sometimes it was so dark… And the only way I could calm myself, could bring myself back was to remember that I was a Jedi. Sometimes when … She … came for me and I knew she was going to … t-to … " his voice ground to a stuttering halt and he snapped his mouth shut in frustration, scrubbing a pale hand across his face. Finally, more under control, he finished softly,
"I had to remember that I had a higher purpose. That I was a Jedi. That I have work to do."
Delian tilted her head, listening, imagining she was resting her head on the broad shoulder just out of her reach and that life was back to being amusedly simple, where she teased and admired him, where she could touch him without him shying away. When he was whole.
"So, the galaxy needs Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Knight, huh?" she asked with a twist of her lips, retrieving his dropped Padawan braid from the floor and handing it back to him quietly.
"Yes," he said softly, glancing at the braid, "it does."
Silence drifted back over them until they came to take Obi-Wan away.
Sometimes, he was just an ass.
Not even frequently.
And unfortunately, sometimes when it mattered the most.
To the people who mattered most.
He slowed to a stop, boots skidding on the floor in a most undignified way, knowing even as he rounded the corner that he was too late.
"He's gone, isn't he?" he murmured, quietly taking in the emptiness of the room. Even filled with the tattered edges of Obi-Wan's ragged soul, the medcenter room had still breathed with the life Obi-Wan's presence brought to any place he inhabited. Wry, amused, serious - and most recently, sad.
Delian stood at the bed, straightening the sheets mechanically even though they would be stripped and replaced with clean bedding within hours. "Yes," she replied simply. "He had another breakdown so they're shipping him out early."
Qui-Gon nodded understandingly even as his heart sank. "The Council often rushes to relocate unstable Jedi for the sake of those with less training, like our Initiates and younglings," he murmured mechanically. "In the event they are unable to defend themselves against an unintentional psychic attack from an uncontrolled Jedi."
"What will happen to Kenobi?" Delian wanted to know. She knew he was being reclassified as a farmer, but what did that mean for hislong term goals and plans? Kenobi was so certain he needed to be a Jedi … was there any chance of that now?
"He's being reassigned to Bandomeer," Qui-Gon explained, perhaps not knowing that she already knew. "He'll receive counseling and training from our Masters and soul healers there, and in a year, if he is well, he'll be assigned to a Jedi Master to complete his Padawan training."
It felt odd, both lying to Delian - he knew the Council had no intention of allowing Obi-Wan to finish his training - but also saying the words aloud, even if they were untrue: Obi-Wan as another Master's Padawan.
But Delian disregarded his lie easily. "No, he won't," she argued angrily. "You didn't see Yoda's face. He's not going to be a Jedi, Qui-Gon. He's done." She sighed smally, pained and heartsick at his loss. "And he knows it," she added, her shoulders slumping.
Qui-Gon put a hand on her shoulder quietly, realizing that in all this time, she hadn't given up on Obi-Wan. All this time, some small part of her had believed that the old Obi-Wan would come back somehow.
And there was, he suspected, the small fact that Delian obviously loved Obi-Wan.
Qui-Gon exhaled a sigh. As did he.
"Not in the same way, I hope, because he's mine," Delian said aloud, the smallest waver in her voice betraying the wry humor in her words.
"Did I say that aloud?" Qui-Gon asked mildly, allowing a brief smile that quickly disappeared under the weight of emotion that pressed in on him.
His beloved Obi-Wan. Alone now, facing an uncertain future.
And he hadn't even said goodbye.
Sometimes, he was an ass.
Yoda was there to see him off.
Obi-Wan paused nervously at the door to the vessel assigned to Bandomeer, already stocked with empty containers waiting to be filled. A regularly scheduled trip to Bandomeer would also include Initiates who hadn't been chosen by a Master, but Obi-Wan was making this trip alone - other the Council pilot for whom he was currently waiting - because he had, essentially, been deemed too unstable to be around younglings still learning to Shield properly.
Force, he couldn't believe this was happening to him.
He tried valiantly to ignore the emotion crushing his throat and closing off his breathing until tiny pinpricks of light danced before his eyes and his head swam. He reminded himself then that he needed to breathe, he had to breathe, he had to live.
Whether he wanted to or not.
He had the brief, shamed thought that maybe he'd be able to sneak off the ship when they stopped to refuel, and somehow find passage back to Tatooine where She waited for him. But he laughed a little, dismissively, at his foolishness. Surely by now She would have found someone else. She didn't need him.
But he didn't completely discount the idea.
"Leave the past behind now, you must."
Of course. He didn't need Her.
Or so he told himself with every breath.
From behind him, Yoda spoke softly, and Obi-Wan immediately felt a humiliated flush crawl across his cheeks. Because he'd had to, once he was able he'd given the Council a formal, very terse report on what had occurred on Tatooine.
Because he'd wanted to, he'd told Master Yoda bits and pieces about his stays with both Delian and Marjhan, whatever he felt like he could manage when the Darkness wasn't too close. To his surprise, his old Master hadn't judged him, hadn't faulted his mistakes; though when his head was clear Obi-Wan could quietly admit to himself that he'd neatly glossed over many parts of his time on Tatooine. Whether or not Yoda had surmised for himself Obi-Wan's lapses into weakness, the former Padawan wasn't sure.
But whatever the old Master's personal opinions, he hadn't stopped the Council from from deciding he was unfit to be a Jedi - a decision he himself had already reached months ago, when Darkness had first laid her slender fingers across his soul and body.
"Yes, Master," he murmured obediently, knowing he was lying even as the words crossed his lips. How could he? How could he forget what had happened to him? And how could he block out Her voice, whispering in his ears as he stared at the gaping opening of his ship's doorway.
I can't do this.
He turned an alarmed look toward Master Yoda, the words echoing in his mind wanting to slide from his frozen and shaking lips but he found he was trembling so hard he couldn't even stutter his panicked thought aloud, and oh Force his damned leg was buckling under him and he was going down … !
Then moment passed.
And he was still standing.
Obi-Wan blinked heavily, the first beads of sweat sliding from his hairline down his too-warm face.
"All right, are you, little one?" Yoda asked, his small, clawed hand brushing against the back of Obi-Wan's leg gently.
No, Obi-Wan thought. I'm not. How can I be?
He forced a brave smile he didn't feel, hadn't felt in a long time. "Of course, Master" he said softly. "Just thinking about the next chapter of my life." He risked a hopeful look at Yoda. "Qui-Gon isn't coming, is he?" he asked, trying not to let hope show through in his tone. "To say goodbye, I mean." It seemed like he had wondered that so many times over the past several months, wondered when his master would come for him. He had waited in desolation, and had been disappointed time and again.
He knew even before the regret crossed Master Yoda's face that it was time to stop waiting.
I can't do this, he thought desperately.
You don't have a choice, he told himself firmly, as he had so many times before.
He couldn't volunteer himself in exchange for a hyperdrive motivator.
He couldn't stay on Tatooine while Qui-Gon accompanied Queen Amidala to Coruscant.
He couldn't go with Delian; he needed to stay in Mos Espa until Qui-Gon returned.
He couldn't take on a Sith alone.
He couldn't let them take his memories.
He couldn't allow himself to be sold like property.
Obi-Wan swallowed hard, spots beginning to dance in front of his eyes again as his breathing sped up, his thin chest tightening.
He couldn't let Her hurt anyone because of his stubborn disobedience.
He couldn't not wait for Her to come with her damned hypo every night.
His chest was so tight now each breath was a wheeze. Obi-Wan put a slender hand against the doorframe, leaning heavily against it, tears crowding into his eyes.
He couldn't not agree to go to Her in exchange for his memories. He needed them.
He couldn't say no to Her.
He couldn't move as Her fingernails raked across his skin.
He couldn't distance himself far enough as She …
Obi-Wan gently rested his forehead against the arm braced against the ship, throwing the memory aside as soon as it surfaced.
He couldn't do this. But just like all those other times, he didn't have a choice.
And now he would be a farmer.
Because he didn't have a choice.
His eyes opened and he slowly lifted his head from his arm. With more politeness than he'd ever witnessed from the cocky Corellian, Obi-Wan saw Delian nod respectfully toward the old JedI standing silently near Obi-Wan. Sometime that Obi-Wan couldn't put a finger on passed between them, an understanding of sorts, and Delian smiled.
"Master Yoda," she said courteously, almost - but not quite - sketching a slight bow. Yoda offered her a small nod, a slim hint of a smile in return, and patted Obi-Wan's leg a final time.
"May the Force be with you, little one," he said softly. "Walk a dark road, you will; darker, perhaps, than the one that are your feet even now on. Guide you, the Light will, if let it you do. Strong, you must be."
A prickle of foreboding danced across Obi-Wan's skin and he nodded tightly, wondering, absently, just how much trouble he could get into as a farmer. Delian watched the old master shuffle out, then turned back to Obi-Wan with a crooked grin.
"Ready to go?" she asked simply.
Qui-Gon Jinn allowed himself a comfortable stretch as he slowly walked down the landing ramp, basking in the sun's warmth, wishing it would sink into his soul and relieve the persistent chilliness there that had insisted on lingering since his ill-fated visit to a bloodstained room that had been used as Obi-Wan's punishment quarters on Tatooine.
He couldn't forget, but the beauty surrounding him helped a little - and Naboo was beautiful, no question, and he knew he'd been correct - or rather, the little voice inside his mind had been correct - in suggesting that he choose here, where he could rest, yes, but he could also help. He had spoken briefly with Senator Palpatine before leaving Coruscant - the Senator himself was also planning to return to Naboo to aid his people with rebuilding after the wreckage left by the Trade Federation's brief occupation. Qui-Gon had pledged to help the Nubians in any way possible, feeling, perhaps, a little sting of guilt that he had been unable to protect their queen.
Palpatine had been warmly grateful for Qui-Gon's help; the senator had always shown kindness to the JedI, displaying an interest in their comings and goings. He had even politely asked Qui-Gon if his Padawan would be accompanying him, and expressed deep regret when he learned that Qui-Gon would be making the trip alone. Qui-Gon, too, keenly felt the emptiness of not having a Padawan by his side.
Of not having Obi-Wan with him.
Things should have been different. Qui-Gon would have given his life to have Obi-Wan, whole and healthy, here with him now. Obi-Wan wasn't meant to be a farmer.
He wanted to brush the thoughts aside, tried to, but they were crowding against him and he couldn't fight them. All of the unacknowledged emotion inside him was building, cresting, trying to take him down -
A rustling noise from the small ship behind him caught his attention and he turned, surprised but grateful for the sudden interruption, and somehow, inexplicably, tears sprang into his eyes as he saw Delian make her way down the ramp, gingerly guiding - without actually touching - a pale Obi-Wan Kenobi.
"They really need bigger closets on these ships," Delian complained irritably.
And Qui-Gon thanked the Force for giving a foolish old JedI another chance.
Anakin Skywalker was deeply ensconced within the Temple, unreachable for now, but that mattered little to Palpatine.
Obi-Wan Kenobi was on Naboo. Delightful, delicious, powerful Obi-Wan Kenobi was right here on his very doorstep.
Soon to be his apprentice.
And a cowed galaxy would fall before them.
ooo The End ooo
And at 12:33pm on Monday, August 29, 2011, Syn quietly finished a story she'd been working on for over ten years. Please review if this story has entertained, amused, or even made you love/hate a character just a little bit more at any time in the last ten years.
To the amazing readers who have stuck this out for so long, and to new readers: your comments and encouragement have kept this story going on when I might have given up on it long ago. Thank you. Thanks also for all the positive feedback on Delian; OC's can have a tough time escaping the Mary Sue stigma that automatically surrounds them, and I hope Delian has succeeded in being her own character. (It helps that George Lucas gave us multiple characters in the prequels that were already annoying; anyone else looks amazing by comparison.) Through Glass is by Stonesour.
I'm posting cleaned up, possibly slightly edited versions of all chapters along with the final chapter. Enjoy, and the sequel will be posted as soon as I wrap up my other unfinished fics. Or at least some of them… ;) Now! Go review!