Obi-Wan stepped into the place he would now call home and looked around. Standing on the first step by the door, he couldn't see much, but he knew there wasn't much to see. It was small and lacking many things, but he was a Jedi and the Jedi lived as simple as lives can be. Was. Obi-Wan snapped his lightsaber off his utility belt and stared at it. 'Was' was a perfect word to use. There were no more Jedi. Gone. His family and his friends…all gone. Only Yoda remained from his family and he exiled himself. Obi-Wan wasn't allowed to contact him unless it was in absolute importance, like Luke dying.
With a heavy sigh, he sat down where he stood. He coiled into himself, feeling the grief and sorrow deep within him, trying to burst out, but he wouldn't let it. How did everything go so wrong? How did he not see this coming? Why, oh why, did this happen? Why did Anakin…a sharp pain in his heart stopped him in mid-thought. He couldn't even think of his name without feeling the pain of betrayal.
Anakin, oh Anakin…why? Why?
Where did he go wrong?
Obi-Wan felt the tears in the back of his eyes and quickly closed his eyes to keep them from falling.
"If you're not with me, then you're my enemy!" Anakin's voice sounded loud in his ears and Obi-Wan groaned. He dropped his lightsaber and placed his hands over his ears, but he knew it wouldn't do any good. The voice was a memory. It came from within. He couldn't shut it out.
"You were the chosen one! It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them! You were to bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness." It was his own voice he heard now. Another harsh memory he couldn't block.
He hit his head with the palm of his hand. "Get out," he muttered as a few tears escaped his eyes.
"I HATE YOU!" The biting words were filled with truth and that had pierced his heart more than staring into those yellow eyes.
He shook his head. "Nooo," he moaned.
"Twisted by the Dark Side, young Skywalker has become. The boy you trained, gone he is…Consumed by Darth Vader." Obi-Wan shook his head more violently, but he had seen the truth of Yoda's words. He couldn't deny it.
"Not even the younglings survived." The image of the cold bodies flashed through his head. Those poor innocent children. So young and full of light and hope. His own brother slaughtered them. He couldn't understand how he could do that…not when his own wife carried two children of his very own. Obi-Wan leaned to the side and placed his head on the cool sandy stone of the wall. Innocent. Pure. And now gone. It hurt. Oh, it hurt so much…
"Obi-Wan…there…is good in him. I know there is…still…" Padme's last words, but Obi-Wan couldn't find the hope she had felt. He couldn't see how there could still be any good in Anakin.
"It's over, Anakin. I have the high ground."
"You underestimate my power!"
"Don't try it." Why did he try? Why did he jump? Anakin made him cut through his limbs. He could still hear the sound of his saber whizzing across the air, the hissing sound followed by a buzz as it cut through Anakin's flesh. He could still hear Anakin's screams as the fire caught onto his robes and began burning his flesh. He could smell it even now; the burning of his brother's flesh.
"This is the end for you…my former master." Anakin meant the end of his life, but Obi-Wan was sure he preferred that, then living through this pain and grief. Alone.
"I have failed you, Anakin. I have failed you." And he did. He failed Anakin. He failed the Jedi Council. He failed everyone. His own failing felt horrible, like a dark poison on his soul. He failed Qui-Gon. He failed his father. Qui-Gon trusted him to raise and train Anakin and he failed him. He failed everyone with his training of Anakin Skywalker. He did something wrong and everyone paid the price, with their lives.
"I want you to study hard and do your very best. I want you to remain positive and happy…. Will you promise me that you will remain good and light?"
The words of his old promise came to him, as they usually did during a time of crisis. He shook his head at his own foolishness. Remain positive and happy? How could he do that now? He promised Qui-Gon, but he didn't know how to anymore. His life was in shambles. His own brother, his former student, betrayed them all. It was his fault. He should have seen it coming. He should have helped Anakin. He should have been there for him.
"Was Xanatos my fault, little one?"
Obi-Wan shook his head and banged his forehead lightly on the wall, trying to erase the memory of Qui-Gon's voice. He paused, though, and lifted up his head as something came to him. When had Qui-Gon ever said that to him? It had sounded like he was right there, inside his head. He glanced around the room as if expecting Qui-Gon to be there, but, as suspected, he wasn't. Obi-Wan frowned, wondering if he was going mad with grief. Just his luck if he went mad, hearing the voices of the dead in his mind.
Xanatos. Now that wasn't a name he thought about in a very long time. No, he acknowledged. It wasn't Qui-Gon's fault, but that was different. When Xanatos turned to the Dark Side, he didn't become a Sith and he didn't bring forth the destruction of the Jedi.
Obi-Wan's body stiffened when he heard the voice of his late Master again. He glanced around, but, once again, he found he was still alone. He couldn't mediate. He couldn't find the peace of meditation. How could he find peace in the Force after everything that happened? He tried to mediate before without success. It just brought forth the painful memories of the past few weeks.
The need increased and he found himself sliding into the kneeling position of the meditative pose. He froze the moment he got into position. He hadn't even realized what he was just about to do until that moment. Mediation would bring all the memories he had been trying to push away to the forefront of his mind. Attached to those memories would be the emotion, the feeling of lost, sorrow, disappointment, grief. He couldn't…he couldn't do it. Yet he stayed in that position.
"Master, you don't understand! No one here understands me! They don't because I'm different. And I'm different because I knew my mother!" Anakin had once yelled at him. Obi-Wan, at the time, had tried to calm him by denying his words. Tried to tell him that it wasn't true. Anakin didn't believe him and stormed away, only to apologize for his actions later. Nothing else was said about it.
Obi-Wan bowed his head, wishing he done things differently, said different words, told Anakin what he really meant. Maybe all of this could have been avoided if he spoke what he meant. When he told Anakin it wasn't true, he meant it. Anakin claimed no one understood him because he knew his mother, suffered love and lost of a parent.
Anakin didn't seem to realize he wasn't the only Jedi that was different…the only Jedi that had suffered love and lost of a parent.
If only he opened up more to Anakin…tell him how he felt losing his father. Obi-Wan blinked as a thought came to him. Did Anakin even know Qui-Gon was his biological father? After the meeting with the Council, they seemed to have an unspoken rule not to speak of it. Any time someone mentioned Qui-Gon to him it would only be by his name or his title of Master. Only a few people approached him with questions and there was only one night set aside to tell his friends. A few months after the truth was known, almost no one spoke of it. It was like a shamed thing. No one knew what to say about it. Did he ever tell Anakin? It wasn't like the boy had any reasons to look up his young Master in the archives and see Qui-Gon's name next to the word father and Obi-Wan couldn't remember telling him.
Everything was his fault. If only he was more opened with Anakin and let him in. Things could have been avoided.
Compelled, Obi-Wan felt his eyes close and, before he could second think himself, he opened himself up to the Force around him. Memories of the past few days came rushing in with the painful emotions attached to them. His eyes tightened to hold back the tears. His heart ached in his chest. He could feel the emotions wallowing up inside, ready to explode in millions of sparkling tears. He started to pull out of his meditation, unwilling to subject himself to its pain.
"Release it, Obi-Wan. Release," the voice echoed around him, louder than before. It compelled him to reach back in. He let the pain fill him and then, little by little, he let it slip away into the Force, a painful echo any Force sensitive would have felt if they were anywhere close to him.
"Good, my son. Good." The voice sounded more coherent. There was no mistaking it, not that time.
"Master?" Obi-Wan questioned out loud. A flicker of hope sprang to life inside him, no matter how much he tried to suppress it. He didn't want to be disappointed. He didn't see how this could be. Yes, Yoda did say something about Qui-Gon still being around, but that was right after Anakin's betrayal. Obi-Wan feared being disappointed. He couldn't hope too much that this was real.
"It is I, Obi-Wan," the voice in his head reassured. "Trust your feelings, my padawan. Feel me through our bond."
"Our bond? That was snapped when you died."
There was a soft chuckle. "There is no need to speak out loud, son. You never felt the snap of our bond, did you, Obi-Wan." It was a statement, not a question, like he knew. "It wasn't snapped because I never left. The bond between us is not connected by the body, but by our souls, by the Force which speaks through us. My body died, but my soul lingers, with it is our bond. It is still as strong as it ever been. Disused and buried within from your grief and your bond with Anakin, but it is still there."
Almost fearfully, Obi-Wan mentally searched out his old bond with his Master. It took some digging and he paused mournfully by the shattered bond left by Anakin. Its blacken edges looked sharp and it seemed to pulse with fresh pain.
"That will be soothed during your lessons, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon whispered with a promise.
Lessons? But Obi-Wan didn't ask. He trusted his father's words and moved beyond the broken bond. He went farther into his mind, searching for the old bond he had with his master. He discovered it lying dormant under layers of memories and emotions. He half expected, despite what Qui-Gon had said, to find the bond tattered and nearly non-existent, but it was far from that. It wasn't as bright as it was the last time he saw it. It was dim from disuse, but still whole. He stared at it in wonder. Tentatively, he reached out, almost afraid it wasn't real and it would disappear on him. He had barely brushed against the bond, but it burst alive, vibrant and bright as if it never went into disuse. It blinded him and he sudden felt his father as if he was physically right there. He could feel his body warmth, feel his intimidating figure, smell the black tea and nature that he always smelt around him, he could sense him in his mind. It was as if he never left. "Father…" he choked out.
"I'm here, son," his father whispered back reassuringly.
"You're here. You're here," he repeated, as if still trying to convince himself. His father, with him now. He could feel the tears at the back of his eyes, threatening to spill over.
"Yes, I am, son."
Obi-Wan bowed his head in submission. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Master. I failed. I failed everyone, but most of all I failed you."
He felt warmth around him, as if his father was hugging him. "You did not fail, son. You could never fail me. You tried. You did your best and that is all one could ask for. The fall of Anakin Skywalker has been foreseen many years before even Yoda has been alive. It was destined to happen. You cannot blame yourself. I spent many months with Dash Le'Shing going through my guilt with Xanatos, don't make me do the same with you, padawan."
"No buts, Obi-Wan. Too fulfill his destiny Anakin had to fall. It was intended to happen and nothing you could have said or done would have changed that. You cannot blame yourself." There was a pause before he spoke again, more softly, "I do not have long to speak to you this way, my son. I am here to train you in the secrets of the Shaman of the Whills. It will take years and you will be washing yourself of your guilt and pain. This is the only time I will appear that doesn't do with your training. Let's make the most of it, little one," Qui-Gon said.
Obi-Wan felt a few tears slip down his cheek. "I miss you, father. I've missed you so much. I tried. Force, did I try to let you go like a Jedi is trained to do, but I couldn't. I couldn't let you go." A paused as he tried to regain his composure, with little success. "I was afraid to let you go," he confessed quietly. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be, my son. I am proud of you. I am so proud of you. You are the ideal Jedi. I've never been so proud of someone in my whole existence. What you've done, what you've gone through, how you reacted to every trial you faced," he started to say softly. "You have made me so proud. I love you, my son."
Obi-Wan choked back a cry at the words he had been dying to hear. "I love you too, Father. I wish…"
"Don't," his father interrupted. "Don't think on 'what if's' and 'what could have been'. Don't think of the past. This moment is the only thing that matters now, not what has happened or what will happen."
Obi-Wan gave a short chuckle at his father's memorable philosophy. "We never could agree on that, could we? Not even now."
He heard his father's familiar deep chuckle in his mind. "I suppose so."
They spent several minutes in silence, just taking comfort in each others presence and readjusting to the bond that had been relit. Obi-Wan was able to take several breaths, breathing in his father's presence. It calmed him and soothed him, as if he was still a thirteen year old padawan.
"Will I ever see you again?" Obi-Wan asked softly, almost begging to be physically near his father.
"You will, but it wouldn't be until many more years to come," came Qui-Gon's equally soft reply, like he knew it wasn't the answer Obi-Wan hoped for and was trying to soften the blow.
"Years," Obi-Wan noted despondently. "That seems so far away."
"You are still needed here, Obi-Wan. Luke needs you now," his father reminded him. "When the time comes, you will guide him through the first steps of being a Jedi. Don't despair, my padawan. I am here, just as I've always been and just as I will always be. I'll be watching over you with great fondness."
Obi-Wan felt so worn out and weary. The emotional upheaval of the past week seemed to leave him during his reconnection with his father, leaving him drained and tired.
"You should rest, my son."
Obi-Wan felt this brief wave of panic. "Don't leave! I…" He paused to try and calm his racing heart. "I don't want to be alone."
"You aren't alone, son. I'll be here. Always. Watching over you as you slumber. I will not ever leave your side. Sleep," Qui-Gon said in his usual calm tone.
Obi-Wan shook his head. "I don't think I can." Despite his denial, he had found himself crawling over to the sleeping couch.
"Do not worry, Obi-Wan. No nightmares will disturb you this night. Sleep," his Master urged.
"You promise you'll stay." He felt very much like a young padawan, but he was so tired and feeling too overly emotional too care. He wanted and needed the comfort his father's promise would bring.
"I do promise, my son. I do." Qui-Gon's voice sounded different, distant and Obi-Wan fought to open his eyes, but they were too heavy. He couldn't open them. He felt himself start to drift away.
He was almost completely asleep when he felt something cool brush away his hair from his forehead. Then he dreamed of his father whispering in his ears softly. "I love you, Obi-Wan, my son." He thought he felt something else brush his forehead, cool as well, but it also sent a wave of warmth through his body.