Category: JA/ Angst

Rating: G

Summery: On the anniversary of losing Xanatos, (possibly the first after taking Obi Wan as his apprentice) Qui Gon reflects. First person.

Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars or the Jedi Apprentice books. This story is written without permission and not for money.

Author's note: Since writing this I've gone from disliking to being kind of disgusted with the Jedi Apprentice books (sorry if you're a fan of them) but I still think this story is pretty good, so enjoy.

Beta read by Kitty and Paula. I hope I took enough of their suggestions.

It is late and it is raining. The thunder woke me, and when I saw the rain pouring down outside our window and heard it dripping and trickling over the temple's terraces, I felt an irresistible urge to go out and meditate in it. Coruscant is built over five miles deep on every continent, but it is not worth nothing that its inhabitants have kept the clouds clean, and the weather is still wild. It was wonderful, soothing and awakening at the same time. The rain enfolded me like an aura, the cold water pattering on my skin, streaming through my hair, refusing to let my nerve endings go to sleep and forget they are alive, and the force seeming to pour down with the rain, refusing to let my mind forget it is alive, even in its stillness.

After an hour in the outer gardens I came in to our quarters, wrapped myself in a dry robe, and settled in front of the window where I am now. I do not think I will sleep again tonight.

Outside the rain whispers in many voices, falling in curtains between the gray towers, and the wind murmurs deeply. I thank it; I had a need to feel cleansed and revived today. It is not a day I like to dwell on. Jesswren, Plo, and Yoda know what happened today, but they have said nothing to me. Perhaps some others remember. Obi Wan does not know, and I have not told him. Maybe some day, but not now. I know I have been have quiet, more morose than usual, but only last year I would not have allowed all the power of the Force to give me solace as the rain did tonight.

I watch the gray clouds boil and glow with lighting. A different kind of meditation comes to me. My mind is not quiet, memories rise up and pass like manta owls on padded wings and I do not interfere. I let them come and go. I cannot look back without pain, but I can look back without fear. I will listen as long as the past has need to speak. I see, hear, and smell the rain and know that I will be allright.

Slowly reflection begins to weave itself into something more solid. I close my eyes as the memories become more and more real, coalescing into something deeper. The present time and place slowly dissolve until I can see myself as I was after Telos. He is almost close enough to touch. I see him boarding a homeward bound shuttle, agile, physically self possessed, every inch the perfect Jedi, except for the eyes. His eyes are haunted, glassy. They are windows to the soul with signs reading CONDEMNED hung in them.

And I rise and follow him. It is as real to me as walking down the temple halls.

I hear him whisper the words that become his mantra: *never again*. I follow him through the years, walking two steps behind like a guardian spirit as he wanders, a strange, restless loner. I watch over him as he lies awake at night, feeling self-hatred eat him from inside, and he lets it eat him. He is utterly without compassion for himself. He feels the hate eating him from inside, and tries not to think of the blissful numbness giving in to it could bring. I see, I feel, I understand as he builds a tomb and a fortress around himself. I am with him on every mission. A Jedi driven by overpowering guilt, with nothing to lose is a difficult thing to contend with. He helps many, but it brings him no peace. Some speak of him with pity, others as a sand panther gone rogue from his pride, howling at the moon. He does not care either way. He guards his heart as ferociously as a battle dog, thinking that there is still something left worth protecting.

He doesn't see me, except for once, at the beginning. In a cabin of the ship sent to bring him home, those condemned eyes meet mine. He looks right into my eyes, and for a second I feel recognition, a connection. We are one, seven years apart, memory and moment, a perfect circle. But then this second of understanding fades. My spirit drifts from the past back towards my here and now. He looks away and shakes his head, trying to convince himself he has not just seen his own ghost.

Looking back I wish I could talk to him. Not to try and tell him that it wasn't all his fault, that he cannot protect himself by snuffing out his love for everything. That he is above the pain, that he must learn to trust again or it will kill him. He has heard these thing many times in many ways from many others before, and

I have no illusions about the extent of my own influence.

What I want to tell him is that there is hope. I want to tell him that his heart is not completely dead, as much as he might wish that were true. I want to hug him hard for just a second, although he would probably hurl me up against a wall with the force and all of his will for my pains. He touches *nothing*, not even plants, if he can help it, and though he does not know it, he has missed that. I want to tell him that I will not deny him, ever. That I will not forget. I want to tell him not to deny himself. What I want to tell him is that he is sick and he is hurting. Often, I don't think he notices. What I want to tell him is that there is hope. Advice to an old fool from this much younger hearted fool.

But I cannot. The past is gone. If I follow like a guardian spirit, I am a poor one, for I cannot speak or act. And perhaps my small efforts to ease his pain would have been just as futile as the greater efforts of others. I can only follow by his side as one who knows. And perhaps that is enough.

The End