Notes: I actually wrote this some time ago, I just never HTMLed and posted it. *sweatdrop* This is a sequel to my other Star Wars ficcie. It is slash. If that offends you, please don't read it. These characters don't belong to me, they belong to George Lucas. Please don't sue me, I'm a college student and have no money. ^_^
Master...? Are you proud of me? I've finally come full circle. It has been too long. Longer than I would have liked. And you've been silent all that time. I don't want to admit it, but... it hurts. Like a dull ache in my chest that never goes away. The tears still haven't stopped - my heart still weeps for you, Master.
I block another furious downstroke, my arms trembling with weariness. Is this how you felt that day long ago? Knowing that your skills were still sharp, your mind still willing - but your body unable to perform at the level you demanded? It is a harsh reality this aging. I find, yet again, that I do not like it.
But enough of my senile babbling. It hardly matters now. What matters is, as I said before, that I have come full circle. Events are echoing through the years to engulf me in their horror once more. And for the second time, I find myself staring down the deadly blade of a Sith Lord. A more deadly opponent I have never faced - nor have I ever been so reluctant to win.
You were right about one thing, Master - it was imperative that the boy be trained. Perhaps... perhaps had I not been the one to do it, the Republic would not be in the dire straights that it is now. Darth Sidious - the Sith Master - took on a new apprentice to replace the one that I had killed. And he is far more dangerous than any other could have been. They call him Darth Vader.
The black-clad Sith sends another flurry of swordstrokes my way, which I block with ever-increasing difficulty. I push myself down, gathering what reserves of energy I can. This fight is not a question of winning, nor even of surviving. It is a question of buying time. But I dare not dwell overly long on that thought - Lord only knows whether or not Vader would hear it, and I dare not risk him finding the boy before he is ready...
I almost laugh at the thought. The boy... Once that word meant so much else. A hope - my only hope for a future. A future that seemed dimmer every day without you in it. I think the Jedi Council was almost relieved when you passed on. I should not think such things... but I fear that they are true. They were relieved - on many counts. You were never known for your easy compliance with their wishes - you defied them often and often for little reason other than your own conscience. And then there was our other problem... The Jedi Council always believed that a Master and Padawan should be close, but they strongly believed that we had overstepped the bounds. I hesitate to even think it, but I am almost certain that one or two of them hated us for what we had... Perhaps they were jealous.
A light smirk crosses my face. Once upon a time and long ago, such an expression would send hordes of lovely girls screaming my way... And I had interest in none of them. I would have traded them all to have you back again - I still would. Now, that tiny expression of mirth serves only to anger my opponent further. No matter - I can already see my charges across the hanger bay looking for a clear route back to their ship. The Millenium Falcon. I sigh slightly - Anakin would have loved that ship...
Vader's next furious attack brings my attention back to the fight. I can't die yet. Not quite yet... It isn't time. But how to stall? Ah... I have it. I allow that smirk to cover my lips once more and let my voice, deeper than it once was, roll smoothly off my tongue, "Strike me down, Vader - and I shall become even more powerful than you can imagine." It is, of course, a power I would never use - for the dead are not allowed to interfere to that extent in the lives of the living... but the statement is true enough. To become truly one with the living Force... there is no greater power than that.
Vader shakes his head as he attacks once again, "Pathetic old man. Now, your failure is complete."
My eyes close in pain, the battle freezing for a moment as his words sink in. Have I failed? I suppose, in a way, I have. The boy is barely half-trained and hardly ready to take on an enemy as dark as the Emperor. There remains only one Jedi strong enough with the Force to train him the rest of the way. And Master Yoda will surely refuse claiming, once again, that the boy is too old.
And this time... this time I fear he may well be right. For the boy is no boy - he is a man. Never has anyone been taken to train as old as he is. But Luke Skywalker is the only hope for the Jedi - his sister, while she would be a strong Jedi Knight, is even less trained and less ready than he is. That is my one regret... I would like to know them better - Luke and Leia. Luke is very much like I imagine you must have been as a youth. Young, hot-headed, eager to champion every lost cause in the galaxy - perhaps that is why I care for him so much. More than Anakin ever was, Luke is a son to me.
And Leia... Strong, independent, cunning, and courageous - yet distinctly feminine at the same time. She is Padme Naberrie all over again - though her will and strength are that much more wordly than her mother's. Never would this one be content to hide behind decoys - she would be right up in the front of the battle, her face open for all to see, firing away with her blaster - as she is even now.
But I must not think of these things - it is not the time for it. Master Yoda will have to train Luke - he will see that he has no choice. I will _make_ him see. And for now... I block Vader's sword one last time, then turn just in time to catch Luke's eyes. They widen as he sees me - I can see his lips move to form a word... "Ben...?"
Just now, his bright blue eyes are confused, uncertain - he is waiting for me to pull a bantha out of my cloak - and there are none to be had. No more tricks, no more deceptions. Just the truth. I speak it in my gaze, in the wave of love I send along the bond between us. He is confused even further - he does not understand. So be it. I raise my light saber to a resting position in front of me - no... not mine. This light saber was yours - I found that I could not give it up once I had "borrowed" it on that last day. I hope you will forgive me for this one last transgression, my Master...
I meet Vader's soulless eyes... and for once, see a flicker of the boy I knew. He is just as confused as Luke at this moment - I can feel that through the Force around us. He does not understand why I have ceased to fight. I search for the severed link that once bound us together as Master and Padawan - there is just enough left for me to reach him. "*You swore, Ani. You swore that when you were trained... when you were ready... you would set me free. You are long overdue on that promise - and I am weary beyond belief.*"
Vader freezes, shocked that I would dare to reach out to him - horrified that I would still use that name. His body hardens in front of me, becoming once again the servant of evil that he has darkened into. He raises his light saber-- and Luke finally figures out what is happening. But it is too late - I have made sure of that. What Luke does not, what he _can_ not understand is that I _want_ this... I want it with every cell in body. And I will not pass up this opportunity.
Vader swings his light saber and I feel a momentary flash of pain as my world dissolves in a blaze of light and warmth. Are these your arms I feel around me? An anguished yell brings my focus back to the fight. Luke is shooting in Vader's direction, tears of pain streaming down his face at the loss of his Master. And as I said... I have now come full circle. My failure... or my greatest success... is now complete. A grateful smile crosses my lips as what remains of my physical body melts away from me.
Somehow... somehow I know that my tasks here are not finished. I will not be allowed to join you quite yet - but I am closer than ever I was before. For now... I can feel you. All around me... I feel safe, protected - like I haven't felt since before meeting one Anakin Skywalker.
I swallow hard as I readjust to my new bodily manifestation. I am a spirit... what a strange notion. I rub a hand over my tired face, somewhat surprised to note that not only does it feel as if my body is real... but it is still old. Not as tired as it was - but still aged. The thought slips away from me - what had I been thinking? Ah yes. Meeting Anakin...
I remember the first time we brought Anikin to Coruscant. You offered to take him as your Padawan. To say that I was furious... was hurt... would be an understatement. A vast understatement. I loved you so tremendously... and I thought you felt the same. And yet you were willing to toss me aside in an instant for the chance to train Anakin. I believe I actually hated you for a while, then.
What a fool I was. I wasted the last month we had - over petty jealousy. Even now the thought brings tears to my eyes. Had I but known... Had I any inkling of what might await us on Naboo... I would never have been so obstinate - so stubborn. I am grateful, for your sake, that we made peace before you died. Yet somehow... I was not able to let it go that easily. I wish I could have. I held onto that guilt so tightly that it smothered me.
And now, all that is in the past... I must focus on the present - on the moment. As you were always urging me to do. I laugh lightly - no doubt you would find this amusing. That it took Death to make me learn the lessons you sought to teach me in Life. Yes, you would most certainly appreciate that humor... And so, with a much lighter heart, I turn my mind back to my rag-tag group of rebels. Until I can guide him to Yoda - and perhaps even after - my young Padawan will need my help.
And I pray... I pray that by my actions here, you will consider me worthy of rejoining you. Master... I love you, I need you, and I miss you terribly. Please don't let it take too long...
It has been some time now since my death. I still have not seen you. My heart grows colder with each task I complete. Each and every good deed I do is held up for inspection, as if I am trying to tip an overbalanced scale into my favor - the reward being merely your presence.
And this time... I believe I have truly done it. Luke is a Jedi Knight - as he was meant to be. Leia knows of her kinship to him - and is willing to be trained once the time is right. The Rebel Alliance has won the war against Darth Sidious' corrupt Republic. And more important than all of that... Luke has accomplished what no other Jedi has ever done before him. He turned a Sith Lord back to the Light. And Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight and good friend, walks among us again.
A smile crosses my face, and I rest my chin lightly on my hand, scratching absently at my snowy-white beard. Luke, his friends, and their new allies, the Ewoks, are enjoying a celebration the likes of which have never been seen in this universe - not even on that grand day when Queen Amidala and Boss Nass formally acknowledged their alliance - and their victory against the Trade Federation.
Luke is happy - but pensive. He had his father's own word that he had saved him, but he still does not believe. In spite of his skepticism, he is an excellent Jedi Knight - the Force is strong with him, as it is with his father. But he is young - and still desperately in need of reassurance. He is not yet ready to be master of his one Jedi Council.
Taking pity on him, I finally reveal myself in his line of sight. His eyes light up when they land on me, grateful for what I am showing him. I smile back, eyes lit with the bond of love that we still share. But I am not finished. I make a beckoning motion and, grumbling all the way, Yoda makes himself visible on the fence post at my side. Luke's smile gets even wider, but there is still a darkness lurking behind his eyes.
My own smile widens, finally deepening into its familiar smirk, as I play my trump card. Ani, self-consciously folding his hands into his new Jedi attire, appears on Yoda's other side and offers Luke a tentative grin. Luke's eyes finally light up with a fire of pure, unalloyed happiness such as I have never seen them possess. He has his proof now - he did save his Father - and all the parental figures that he has known in his life as a Jedi are together and happy. Finally content, he allows Leia to pull him away from us.
Yoda and Anakin stay a while longer, watching the party, before fading out of visibility, engaged deeply in a philosophical argument about Light and Dark. I stay longer, though I too fade from mortal sight. My heart feels like a lead weight in my chest as I wait, hoping... no - _praying_ that you will somehow magically appear.
I continue to wait. You still do not appear. After another hour has passed, I let myself sink down to the walkway, slumped against the railing post. It hurts... It hurts so badly... I thought... I thought the pain would stop...
I press a hand to the stabbing, white-hot ache in my chest as the tears begin to slide down my cheeks. I have not wept openly for you in more than thirty years, Master - perhaps that is why the tears come so easily now. I begin to sob quietly - of all the things that I said I could handle... this was not one of them. I can not even _contemplate_ eternity without you! The tears fall harder.
"Master..." The word is little more than a whimper as it escapes my lips. I can't do this... I can't. _Please_... If I ever did anything right in my life... Why do you torment me like this?
I feel the return of Anakin and Yoda, each watching me from concerned eyes. Ani kneels down next to me, resting a hand on my shoulder. I lack the strength to shake it off - everything seems so cold all of a sudden... I ignore Ani's gasp of surprise as I bury my face in my hands. Wait... I get this nagging feeling of something not being quite right...
Ani's hands are under my chin, lifting my face to meet his. He strokes a hand over my cheek and I pull away irritably, just wanting to be left alone with my grief. He pats my cheek again, eyes filled with wonder. And then it strikes me... what is out of place. My beard is gone. As quickly as thought - it is gone. I run a hand over my smooth, unwrinkled face, through my short-cropped hair, trailing down the braid on the right hand side of my head. I shudder slightly. I am a Padawan again... like I was when you died... The tears return with a vengeance, falling down my cheeks like a flood.
Ani pulls me in close to his chest, his hands rubbing slow circles around my back as I sob, broken-hearted, into his tunic. I'm falling... falling into a deep black hole with no chance of ever escaping. Not this time. I lose track of everything going on around me, until...
The feel of Ani's arms has changed. The touch is stronger - more secure... more familiar. I freeze as those hands smooth down my hair, the back of my neck, down my spine... I don't dare open my eyes for fear that this will be yet another dream. I squeeze them as tightly shut as I can, knowing that I'm being childish but not caring.
One of those strong hands leaves off its soothing motions to rest under my chin and slowly tilt my head up. Warm, familiar lips close over my own and I relax into the sensation, warmth filling me to bursting from every point of contact... lips on mine, one hand cupping the back of my head, the other pressing against my lower back. When the kiss is broken, a warm chuckle fills my ears and my heart feels ready to break a second time. But this time... this time... you are there to pick up the pieces for me.
Finally feeling steady enough to open my eyes, I do so - staring directly into your piercing blue gaze. The tender smile on your lips as you lightly stroke my face takes my breath away and I laugh with the sheer wonder of it. I feel braver now... I lift my hands from where they are resting against your chest and bury them in your thick mane of hair. I grimace when they hit a snag, idly wondering if you take care of it at all without me around to brush it out for you...
Your chuckle takes me by surprise - then I realize. The bonds that forge us together are made even stronger by being what we are, now - by being as close to the Force as we are. We hardly needed words back then - and now they are truly unnecessary. But I long to hear your voice...
You smile, eyes twinkling mischievously as you indulge me, "I have missed you, Obi-Wan..."
Your smile spreads to me, a light smirk taking over my lips, "Tell me one thing..." You smile and raise an eyebrow. I continue, "...being as I have now been a Jedi Knight for over thirty years... is it still necessary for me to call you Master?" I finger my braid lightly as I wrinkle my nose at you, eyes dancing.
You cuff me lightly across the temple, not even hard enough to daze, "You may call me whatever you like, my young Padawan - I could not bring myself to care... now that I finally have you back again."
Your arms tighten around me and I bury myself into the security of your embrace. Even I am not sure if my last words are spoken aloud - but you understand them, either way, "I love you, Qui-Gon... My Master. Always."
And I find, now - here in your arms once again - that I am finally... at long last... at peace.