Title: The Regret of Memory
Summary: Obi-Wan discovers the truth about a long-ago tragic event.
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters and I make no money from this work.
Author's Note: This is from a challenge presented by my dear friend at SSB, Karen. I've never written from Obi-Wan's perspective before, so keep that in mind when you read, huh?
Obi-Wan scratched absently at the tender redness on his forearm, even as he crouched down to try and stay out of Luke's line-of-sight. He sighed when he realized that the sore spot was actually a bit of sunsburn. It had been quite a few years since he'd allowed himself to be burned by Tatooine's twin suns. Obi-Wan paused in his silent observation of the boy to wonder if he still had some of the creams Beru had given him a few years ago.
He was trying not to think on the reason that he might have been distracted enough to get burned, but his traitorous brain kept shuffling the images through his mind.
Yesterday had started off ordinarily enough. The Sandpeople had invited him once again to their annual storytelling event. The Tusken Raiders were a people without a written language, so all their stories and legends were passed down by word-of-mouth. Obi-Wan was still leery of them, as they were of him, but there was a measure of mutual respect, and he did want to keep it that way. The Sandpeople were grudgingly impressed at the way Obi-Wan had chosen to live in the Jundland Wastes, only rarely venturing into the relative sophistication of Toshi Station.
Kenobi had been invited to these the last few years, which he decided to take as a great step forward in the relationship between himself and the often dangerous natives of Tatooine. It was difficult for him to understand their guttural speech, and in truth, he only attended these 'celebrations' because he hoped to keep himself on their good side and away from any stray gaffi stick attacks from youngsters trying to impress the elders of Tusken society.
He'd been mentally marking the time until he could gracefully make his exit, when a new story had begun. Obi-Wan's attention had drifted, but was sharply jerked back to the present when he caught the phrase 'glowing sword' from one of the storytellers. He'd listened in growing horror as the narrators described the viciousness of the 'demon' that had wiped out an entire clan of their brothers. True to the bizarrely contrary nature of these beings, they had sounded almost as if they admired the strength of the enemy who had decimated dozens of Sandpeople, and had taken great delight in sharing every gory detail.
Obi-Wan had finally managed to make his escape a short while later, his brain still reeling with the images the Sandpeoples' words had conjured. He wasn't sure what he felt…disgust…anger…disappointment…pity? Even now, after he'd had a full day to contemplate Anakin's long-ago actions, Obi-Wan wasn't sure what he thought. Anakin had been very close to his mother, Obi-Wan knew that, but even with the benefit of hindsight, he still had a difficult time understanding the frustrating young man who'd been his Padawan.
Having lost Qui-Gon so horribly and abruptly, Obi-Wan thought he might have understood Anakin's grief and anger, to a degree. The Jedi, while they espoused peace, always knew they were embroiled in a war, and had accepted that life could sometimes come to violent end. Anakin had always struggled with that reality, and Obi-Wan wondered if he had thought his mother safe from the galaxy's evils on Tatooine. Unfortunately, every planet in the galaxy had its own brand of danger.
Thinking of Anakin always brought about a terrible combination of sadness, anger, and guilt in Obi-Wan. No matter how he tried to banish it, he could never quite rid himself of the memory of that horrid battle on Mustafar, and the venom in Anakin's voice as he'd screamed his hatred. The few glimpses he'd had in the years since of the black armor of Darth Vader only made it worse, and truthfully, perhaps that was one of the reasons that he avoided visits to Toshi Station and the comm screens there that spewed the rhetoric and images of the Emperor's regime. Vader had become the very image of the Empire, the Emperor himself fading into the background to pull his strings, probably cackling madly with glee at the way he'd fooled not only the Jedi, but the entire galaxy.
Obi-Wan sighed once again as he glanced down at the now irritated area on his forearm. He would definitely need some of Beru's creams now. Perhaps a visit to the Lars farm might not be out of order. Granted, Owen had nearly shot him last time, but he somehow felt the need to make sure the boy at least knew about his presence.
"Hey, Ben. You okay?"
Only the rigid training of so many years, despite the fact that it had been an age since he'd had to use it, kept Obi-Wan from startling. He looked up to see a pair of bright blue eyes looking at him with question and concern. So like his father's… But better not to think on that.
"I'm quite all right, Luke. Just got a spot of sunsburn on my arm here. Not sure how that happened, really," he said with a smile at the boy.
Luke smiled back and Obi-Wan again had to crush the memories of another young boy grinning up at him.
"How did you know I was here?" Obi-Wan asked carefully. He didn't want to spook the child by letting him know that he kept an eye out for him.
"I saw the light shining off your hair. How'd it get all white like that? I've never seen anyone with white hair before."
Obi-Wan tried not to grimace at the boy's youthful honesty, and only barely stopped himself from cursing this blasted planet that he'd ridiculously chosen all those years ago.
"That's what happens when you get old, son," Obi-Wan said with a rueful chuckle. He supposed that the boy probably hadn't seen many elderly people (he tried not to flinch at thinking of himself as 'elderly'). Tatooine was a rough existence even for the hardiest of souls.
"I'll bet Aunt Beru has some stuff she can put on that. I fell down a huge cliff while a krayt dragon was chasing me. Busted nearly all my bones! But Aunt Beru put me right, quick as a scurrier. Come on, I'll give you a lift in my new Skyhopper," Luke said as he offered a hand to Obi-Wan to help him to his feet.
Kenobi hid a grin as he listened to Luke's running narrative, much of it exaggerated by childish imagination. Obi-Wan was pretty sure the fall 'down a huge cliff' had been nothing more than trip and the 'busted bones' nothing more serious than scrapes and sprains.
Luke took him by the hand and began guiding him over to the craft that he happily told Obi-Wan had been a present for his fourteenth lifeday. That gave the old Jedi pause for a moment. Had it really been so long since he'd fled to the Outer Rim and handed over Anakin's son to Owen and Beru? Had it really been that long since his way of life had been so devastatingly destroyed?
As he listened to Luke complain about how he was happy enough to be able to fly, but he'd really wanted a starcraft, one that was capable of going out of atmosphere, Obi-Wan reflected on how different and yet similar his son's life was to Anakin's.
Anakin, too, had felt trapped on this planet. He'd wanted to escape, to see the galaxy and do great things. He'd wanted desperately to be a Jedi. Luke undoubtedly did not even know what a Jedi Knight was. He had no concept of what the Force was, although Obi-Wan had watched him long enough to know that it was strong in Luke. Perhaps even stronger than Anakin.
As he looked down on the blond hair that was so like his father's, Obi-Wan could not help but hope that when the time came to train Luke – and that time would come, Obi-Wan had no doubts about that – that he would be able to get it right this time.