Title: Bittersweet Memories|
Fandom: Star Wars TPM (slash)
Rating: bordering on R at times I'd say.
Summary: Amidst the ruins of the Jedi Temple, Obi-Wan remembers happier times.
Spoilers: end of TPM
Category: H/C (to a certain extent); Drama; some humour, mostly tears.
Disclaimer: Georgie boy owns all the lovely characters I'm playing with.but I own the story * grins *.
Archive: my website (http://www.user.xpoint.at/e.lebic/default.htm); Haven-of-Fic; MA; CIN
Warnings: character deaths!!!
Notes: Written in response to Coan_Teen's "100 phrases challenge" at the CIN. I used all of them (if I've misunderstood any meanings.sorry :D) - they are marked as * bold italics *. I assume in this one that Mace is Bant's Master and that he and Qui are very close friends as well as a close relationship between Mace, Qui and Yoda.
* Hint *: Feedback will result in making me happy. ;D
Here we are. Yoda and I. Standing amongst the ruins; the stones and rubble at our feet are all that is left of the Jedi Temple, of our Order. It's been a long time since we were here. The only reason we came was to say goodbye. Soon this planet will tremble to the sound of the beat as the Imperial soldiers march through to set up their rule.
We don't know how long it will last. I dream of pain that is still to come; of the pain that has passed my by and of that I still feel. The Jedi have been eradicated - if Palpatine knew Yoda and I were here, we would be terminated as well. But we've been around a long time, even while he took power.
We fight him the only way we can - by evading his detection. The 'Emperor' might have the best spy network, the highest qualified man to kill for him and the greatest terror - Darth Vader - at his side.but he will never catch us.
"All your city lies in dust." I whisper, echoing the words Palpatine spoke the day he began the Jedi purge by his attack on the Temple. Few survived. Most of them were hunted down. Yoda and I remain. We are just prisoners here, of our own device. We could have left some time ago and never returned. Yet we did; we came back to share the last few moments of our life as Jedi of the Order.
When the sun rises on the glass spires and cityscape of Coruscant tomorrow we will part - forever. 'Everything we got, we got the hard way'. That's what Qui-Gon told me once about the Jedi. It was never easy being one of those who are different to the gross of the universe's population. Yet the Order was established, the Council and the Temple. Persistence and dedication have raised the Jedi; and these two qualities will lead them on.
I hold two brown paper packages tied up with string in my hand. One is for Yoda, the other for me. Memories of a time that's long been gone. These small parcels contain the last carefree smiles and laughs we shared; the times we were friends.and happy; those were the days of our lives we must hold on to, amidst the chill of death and destruction, our only haven, our last refuge when we are all alone, Yoda and I.
My most cherished memories are those of a camping trip Bant and I made with our Masters. I had been pestering Qui-Gon for the better part of the week to make sure he was coming, but he didn't seem to rise to the bait. Never before have I dropped more hints.and it seemed to be totally in vain.
Bant, having decided that we were making that trip, no matter what, dragged me off shopping. We were searching, through thrift-store jungles in the lower levels of Coruscant, as my friend insisted that they did not only have the best prices, but also the greatest things on offer. I didn't believe her, of course, but who was I to argue?
So I trudged along, listening to Bant's chattering on happily, pointing out one thing or the other. It didn't occur to me that she was probably shopping there most of the time, until I saw her haggling with a fruit trader from the other end of the galaxy.
Anyone would have been exasperated with his stubborn insistence on an exorbitant price; in fact, I would have used a small touch of the Force to get him to agree to my offer; yet Bant just looked at him gravely and said:
"Make me a deal, and make it straight. Or I'll make sure I'm the last person you try to cheat. These cherries are neither ripe nor Corellian! I'm not easily fooled, buddy."
I must have stared at her, because she turned to me, grinning widely and shrugging.
"I like to watch things on TV. You wouldn't believe what you can learn from the documentations about the barter systems in the galaxy."
When we finally returned to the Temple, we were both laden down with more goods that I had believed we could possibly get with what little money we had at our disposal. It's not like the Jedi were ever overpaid.
Bant prepared the ingredients we would need for dinner - we had planned to have vegetable soup and Corellian stew, minced meat pies and raw fish in a strange looking and stranger tasting sauce and maybe some salads.
In the meantime, I took care of potatoes, fresh veggies and desserts. I never was a good cook, yet I've had my fair share of warming food rations on missions. The results were, of course, fatal. By the early evening, Bant was already doubling over with laughter.
"Love maker, heart breaker - poisoned look, devil cook." She chanted again and again.
Teasing me, that was what she always enjoyed the most. Especially my being the 'Temple heartthrob' amused her; Obi-Wan, the infamous lover who could not be tamed or, as she delighted in calling it - chained - to any other heart.
"But somebody should be told that my libido hasn't been controlled." Was all the answer she got and she sobered a little. We had had 'that' talk two years ago, in the popular night club 'Baby's On Fire' that we frequented at that time. I had told her I was in love with my Master and she had promised to be there whenever I wanted to talk.
We had never mentioned my feelings again, yet every time my 'promiscuity' was brought to light, I reminded her that I was, in fact, very steady in my heart, if not in my sexual liaisons. We joked about telling Qui-Gon, but I never dared to actually do it.
"Still haven't spilled the beans, have you Obi?"
"You know, I was hoping I'd get some down time with Qui-Gon on this trip. A relaxed atmosphere where we could really talk."
"Oh, you sly creature! I knew you had something in mind. But why all the fuss about me and Mace coming along? Why, you even invited Yoda!"
"Just in case.you know, if he turns me down or anything."
But Bant only grinned and innocently handed me a pot of soup. "Put a lid on it." Casually she added, ".and fuck your Master this weekend, will ya?"
I was just pushing my sleeping bag into my largest bag-pack when Qui-Gon appeared at my open door and leaned at the doorframe.
"What are you doing, Obi-Wan?" he said, in a tone of mild amusement. As if he didn't know.
"I'm packing my bags for the Misty Mountains. Are you coming with us now or aren't you? Master Yoda and Master Windu are ecstatic!"
"Ecstatic? Are you trying to kid me, Obi-Wan? Mace has just stopped by with his bag-pack to complain about being forced to go camping!"
"And Master Yoda? Surely HE is looking forward to having a bit of fun."
"Mmh.yes, I suppose he is and that is precisely why I don't think I should join you. Yoda's spirits have been know to.run away with him.at times. But I 'll think of it, nevertheless."
"We could tell stories, sing, sit around the campfire. Let the whole galaxy be for a while. Wouldn't that be nice? A change would do you good."
"I said I'd think about it, Obi-Wan. I'll tell you on Sunday morning, alright?"
"Qui-Gon! Sunday'd be too late. You know we're leaving early on Saturday morning! Why do you have to be such a tease!"
My Master just grinned at me, mirth sparkling in his eyes. This is a memory that never fails to make me smile, for it is a moment of pure joy that will always warm my heart.
"Well, then I suppose. If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad." Qui-Gon gave a mock sigh, belied by his playful tone and added, as an afterthought. "I don't want to miss a good thing."
"Life in the fast lane, sure to make you lose your mind it is. Always big bustle, there is on Coruscant. Relax there, you cannot."
Yoda declared steadfastly time and again during our journey to the Misty Mountains on N45Z700, a small planet out in the great nowhere of space. It boasted nothing but forests, springs and lakes; hills and mountains in a temperate climate. It was hard to get camping permits, but Master Windu had good connections to the foresting committee on Coruscant.
When we finally reached our destination, Qui-Gon gave a mock growl: "Been so long since I found out what people mean by down and out."
"Come, Qui. black roof country, no cold pavement, tired starlings, your typical holiday nightmare." Master Windu interposed playfully.
Bant and I merely grinned at each other and when dusk fell we had just finished putting up our tents. Sitting around the fire and sipping my friend 's excellent Corellian stew, we grinned at each other and enjoyed the quiet. It was a warm glow of friendship that surrounded us and we began a playful banter.
"Good stories to tell any of you have, mmhh? Want to hear them now, I do!"
"Well, there was an incident when Bant was singled out in a bar." I began and Qui-Gon raised his eyebrow. Master Windu looked up with a slight mischievous twinkle in his eyes and said: "Oh really?" I couldn't resist the opportunity and, under Bant's intense glares began my story.
"It was almost a year ago. Bant and I were at that pub in the lower levels, the 'Starfish and Coffee'."
"Ah, good slogan it has! 'Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer'. Remember it well, I do. Gone there often, I have, when younger I was."
"It's that old?"
"Insult me you do, Qui-Gon?"
Bant and I were grinning. Master Windu chimed in.
"Well, go on! What happened?"
"Well, we were having a good time, and Bant was very."
"I had drunk a bit too much. I hadn't eaten a lot that day and I just."
Master Windu smiled knowingly. "We all have our little vices."
Yoda chuckled and I continued, seeing Qui-Gon's grin.
"Anyway.Bant was quite.tipsy and she attracted some attention from this Wookie. He heard her giggling and he came over to us."
"He was trying to hit on me.a real jerk. He was more drunk than me, you know."
"Heya, little one. You remind me of a babe I know back home." I mimicked the accented basic and Qui-Gon laughed outright. Yoda cackled and Master Windu tried very hard to keep a straight face.
"Obi-Wan stood up, faced him.that is, he looked straight at his furry shoulder, then lifed his eyes and asked 'you trying to hit on my girl?'"
"Not that that helped, that Wookie didn't consider me to be much of a challenge."
Bant's eyes were sparkling as she took up the story again: "Well, Obi said 'you can knock me down for a six any time but you won't get my girl' and gave me a little push with the Force, so I fell straight into his arms."
"And then she babbled 'I'm your toy, honey' and cracked up."
"I was having a great time, you know! Obi looked so sweet, hair dishevelled, in civilian clothes that were a few sizes too big for him."
"Have you been in my closet again, Padawan?"
I grimaced at Bant and smiled. "It was your turn to do the laundry, Master, yet you didn't."
Qui-Gon laughed and held his hands up in mock surrender. "So what happened?"
"Well, I shoved the Wookie to one side, balanced Bant with the Force, threw a few credits to the barkeeper and dragged my giggling friend through a throng of drunks, followed by a Wookie almost twice my size.and then I just waved down a taxi, bundled her into the back seat and drove quietly back to the Temple."
"Ah, wild night you had! Good to hear it is! Fun, the young people must have!"
"Yoda - I'm surprised at your lack of concern here." Master Windu interposed, but his smile was widening every moment.after all, hearing that his proper, quiet Padawan who constantly 'took care' of him was not as perfect as all that was quite amusing to him.
"You'll never make a saint of me now, Bant! What, with your bad example, I will hit the bars more frequently now."
"Oh, Master!" Bant was groaning good-humouredly as she poked him playfully into the ribs.
Later that night, Yoda insisted on telling us a ghost story. He said it was a popular way of spending evenings at the campfire and we just nodded, drowsy from a good warm meal and the peace of the forest around us.
"A greying tower there used to be, alone on the sea. (1) Live there alone, a brother and a sister did. At night, hear the whisper of the winds, they could. Once, hear a voice they did. Faint it was, mysterious it was."
"Yoda, come on! We've heard that story so many times already! Don't you have anything new?" Master Windu groaned.
"Know a better story, you do? Tell it you should, Mace!" Yoda's indignation was not of long duration, of course, especially not when Qui-Gon sighed.
"Please, anything but a story from Mace - do have mercy on us! Bant, Obi-Wan! What about you? Any more 'incidents' you'd like to share with us?"
"I could tell you all a little parable if you like." Bant said, and the gleam in her eyes as she looked at me sent a shiver down my spine. She was up to something.
"Sure, begin right away, you should." Yoda interposed and waved his tiny hands.
Bant didn't need to be asked twice and launched into a lengthy and very dry account of the doomed love of a mouse for a lion.
"Don't be cruel said the mouse to the lion, my soul longeth after you. But the lion only flashed his teeth at her and yawned. She turned away sadly, and didn't see him as he pounced."
"Oh Bant! Stop that! It's cruel.the poor mouse!"
"It was stupid of her to believe there was a chance for her with the lion! She ought to have known better!"
"Why?" Qui-Gon joined in mildly. "Love is not something we can choose; it chooses us."
"That's a very interesting philosophical point of view you have there, Master Jinn.what do you think, Obi."
Realization hit me. Bant had deliberately told that stupid story to get me and Qui-Gon talking about love. I glared at her and sent her a mental nudge, as I answered.
"I agree with Qui-Gon."
"Wise that is. Need is love and love is need. Interchangeable, these two emotions can be. Need to love someone you do. Loving someone a strong craving is. Want to be with that person you do. Choose this person, you cannot. Find them you will. Mostly unexpectedly."
The way Yoda looked from me to Qui-Gon as he said this convinced me that he had, beyond a doubt, understood the nature of my feelings for my Master. I just wondered if the man I loved had seen through me that easily as well.
"Is there anybody going to listen to my story?" Master Windu's voice was quiet, and the way he looked at his half-filled glass of Corellian brandy revealed his slightly tipsy state.
"What is your story about, Mace?" Qui-Gon asked, looking straight into my eyes. A jolt of warmth ran through me and I believe I blushed.
Bant nudged me and I drew back into the shadows a little further, away from the light of the fire to hide my embarrassment. I was too old to colour because of a simple look.
"I feel there is some need for discussion of the Jedi's attitude towards sex."
Master Windu mumbled, and we all stared at him. Being usually very reserved, especially when it came to talking about topics like this, we were all surprised by this sudden desire to share his views with us.
"Have you never felt that we have no right to feel wild, animal passion? I mean, Jedi are not the type of people to sidle up to each other and breathe: 'Today's your lucky night - so let's do it like they do it on the Discovery Channel'. There is, of course, wild sex in the working class. But we are not supposed to be part of that, are we?"
"Maybe you should stop drinking, Mace." Qui-Gon suggested.
"Oh no, Qui. I want to talk about this. You remember? Damn it, Janet, I love you? That was when I was fifteen. I was so taken with her, I wrote that stupid song and performed it in front of a dining hall full of Padawans and Masters."
"That was a normal teenage crush, Mace."
"No. I wanted her! Never wanted anyone like her again. But she turned me down. Said as a Jedi she had to live chaste.and then, when I had given her up, she left the Order to marry that smuggler."
Qui-Gon sighed. Bant's eyes were huge in her face and Yoda shook his head sadly.
"Forget your first sweetheart, you never can."
Suddenly, Master Windu's head shot up.
"But what I'll never forgive you, Qui, for all you are my best friend.you had her!"
"What? I did not!"
"She said you'd slept with her!" Mace's voice was petulant and stubborn, his face set in an expression of betrayed trust.
I looked at Qui-Gon and saw him shake his head. He stared at Mace and said, in a tone that carried absolute conviction:
"She offered. We were alone in my quarters, Yoda wasn't home. She slipped into bed beside me and said she wanted to have sex, I told her I didn't and crawled out to sleep in the bath. That was it, I swear. You can ask Yoda -he found me in the bathtub!"
Master Windu was about to reply something, but Yoda cut him short.
"Enough of this nonsense we have had. Enjoy camping here we should. Give it away now."
And with a well-applied Force touch, the bottle of brandy Master Windu had been holding flew out of his hand and landed safely in the ice box.
"Sing now, we will!"
Qui-Gon grinned and chimed in: "Let's have a party, there's a full moon in the sky!"
"BORN TO BE WILD!!!!!!!" Yoda screamed and jumped on top of a log, waving his stick madly in the air, wiggling his hips.
If Bant and I had thought we would get a break from laughing after that, we would have been wrong.
Yoda continued his spirited interpretation by croaking 'Take good care of my baby', with Master Windu mumbling dejectedly now and then 'Anybody seen my baby?' and Qui-Gon winked at Bant, whispering: "Music makes the people come together."
But all I could think of was that this was the right moment. I knew I had to get rid of the others. They were, at that moment, in a state where they wouldn't care too much about me slipping away. All I had to do was to convince Qui-Gon to join me.
Bant, once again, helped me. When Master Windu mumbled sadly: "I've opened up my heart oh so many times, but now it's closed." She leaned towards my Master, a concerned look in her eyes.
"I do hope you don't feel the same! It is such a negative outlook on life. And there are so many good things." she looked at me then, and Qui-Gon followed her gaze. He smiled.
"You are right, Bant. There are many good things. Anyone for a walk?"
Master Windu, being interested solely in his own dejected thoughts did not even look up, Yoda kept singing 'YMCA' at the top of his voice and Bant shook her head politely. I, however, jumped up like a flash.
"I'm so glad we came on this trip." I blurted out before I could stop myself.
Qui-Gon only smiled. I looked at him, the full moon painting a hazy, milky halo around his form and I knew there was no other time but this to finally say it.
"I love you."
"And I you."
It were only a few simple words, yet they made the greatest difference in the world. We shared our first kiss in a little clearing, the moss we stood upon glowing pale and ghostly beneath our feet. It was like soaring up into the clouds, like being anchored in the skies.
"You're the closest to heaven that I've ever been and I don't want to go home right now. The night is young and you're so beautiful." Qui-Gon whispered and I leaned against him, drawing him to the ground with me.
My lover and I returned to the camp in the early morning hours. Bant was up already, grinning cheerfully and waving at us as soon as we were in sight. Yoda stirred and Master Windu groaned when his Padawan shook him.
"Wake up, Master!"
"I'm blue." was the answer that came forth from the depths of the sleeping bag and, a few minutes later, it was followed by Master Windu's head, one deep sigh and a desperate moan.
Bant grinned, holding a glass filled with an unidentifiable green liquid in front of his nose. I recognised it at once, it was her special recipe against hangovers. I grinned as I sent the thought to Qui-Gon via the training bond. He chuckled and Yoda shuffled towards the sleeping bag. Standing beside us he poked Master Windu's huddled form with his stick and cried:
"Back in the saddle again! Get up you must, drink your medicine. Forget your headache you will.much to do today, there is!"
"Oops, I did it again, didn't I? I had too much brandy."
"Yes, Mace, that is indeed what you did."
"Not all that is!
"Loved you last night they have!"(1)
Master Windu's expression was one of polite disinterest as his eyes slowly adjusted to the light. Qui-Gon glanced at Yoda and grinned.
"Oh yes, you were exceptional indeed! Bant was quite struck with you!"
"Well, you sang 'Can't buy me love' as you stripped down to your boxers and."
"You've got to change your evil ways." Master Windu commented dryly when he finally picked up that he was being teased.
Bant waved me over to help her with the breakfast, so I left the Masters to their own devices. My friend had a knowing look on her face and her grin was wider than ever.
"Did you enjoy it?"
"Somebody'd better put you back into your place, girl. That's private!" I growled, but she just giggled and handed me an egg and a pan.
"Smash it up. And tell me. You may leave out some details, if you wish, but I want the story!"
I grinned then and whispered: "The sun is up, the sky is blue, it's beautiful and so are you."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Qui-Gon said that to me when I woke up. It's more than just a fling."
"Obi! A fling? Even the blind man can see that's not so! You're both glowing!"
" I don't care too much for money! That's what being a Jedi is all about! In fact, everybody says it's just like Robin Hood. The Order I mean. We're a band of do-gooders who do nothing but help the poor."
"Oh shut up, Mace! That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!"
"Robin Hoods, we are not! Look good in green, the Jedi do not! Beige tunics we have! No woodmen we are!"
"What in Sith's name are they talking about?" Bant sighed exasperated. "That don't impress me much, they behave like kids!"
"Some masterly discussion about philosophies and politics I suppose, but who understands them anyway?"
"Quite right.shall we go and rescue poor Windu?"
I nodded, taking the eggs and bacon and called over the Masters: "Breakfast! Anyone for tennis afterwards?"
The camping trip was the last time we were all together. About three months later, while Qui-Gon and I were on a mission, something happened that shattered a part of my world.
I had a sense of foreboding, when the prime minister of Altynia sought me out in my quarters late in the evening.
"Oye como va, good Jedi?"
"I'm fine, thank you, prime minister."
"What can I do for you?"
"A message came for you. Great Master Yoda sent it. I am most sorry to bring it to you. Most sorry."
He put a piece of paper on the table, bowed and left. The bad feeling increased tenfold as I began reading the tiny handwriting.
'Accident there has been. Dead, your friend is.'
I needed nothing else to tell me it was Bant. Of all the people I have known in my life, she was the only true friend.
Qui-Gon found me a few hours later, when he returned from a late meeting.
"What's wrong with you, love?"
"I can see that."
I pushed the paper towards him, not looking up. Tears were running freely down my cheeks and I didn't care. I had to give in to the emotions, there was no way I could just accept this tragedy without any feelings.
"Bant. I'm sorry, Obi-Wan. There is no need to cry. She's one with the Force, she'll always be with you. Let go of this grief, find your centre. Serenity, Padawan."
"Serenity? Sith, Qui! Your serenity, that's what makes you statuesque. You can be like a stone at times, do you know that? She DEAD! GONE! I DON'T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT SERENITY! Stay away from me!"
Qui-Gon flinched, I felt it in the Force, as if I had slapped him across the face. But he still sat down beside me and took me in his arms.
"Cry then, if you must. I'll be here, love."
I was cold that night. Not even my lover's warm body prevented the chill from creeping into my bones. I was mumbling, tossing and turning in bed and Qui-Gon finally used a touch of the Force to put me to sleep.
I still didn't know how exactly Bant had died. And, in truth, I couldn't have cared less. All that mattered was that she was no longer part of my life, that for the first time I was faced with a loss that was too powerful to come to grips with.
Why do we dream in metaphors? I never did, not before, not after that night. But this once my dreams were images, forebodings and emotions mixed into a cocktail of pain and grief and fear.
I stood in a white room with black curtains. Black like the veils that would be hung in the Temple corridors, white like the sterile halls where Bant would lie, mourned by those who knew her, passed by those who didn't.
"Boy you can give me a shine." Someone held their shoe in my direction and I looked up straight into Bant's sparkling eyes.
"Won't you clean my shoes, boy?"
I was too stunned to speak, I simply stared at her, then caught her in a fierce hug. She was there, I could touch her, her skin damp as usual, her body warm and alive against mine. So real.
"It's plain to see we were meant to be; friends forever, you and me." She whispered and I remembered how proud she had been of her poem. It had been ours, a token of our friendship, words that expressed how close we were.
"You make the rockin' world go round." I had told her when she showed me those lines and she had smiled.
I was dimly aware of the tears that slipped from my eyes; Bant pushed me back a little and brushed them away. That fleeting touch of her fingers against my cheek sent a cold, unnatural shiver through me, as if my heart were being torn and my soul shredded with this gentle caress.
"Love is stronger than justice, Obi. You are angry and confused.but it was my time. Sometimes you've got to give in. There are fates that cannot be changed."
"But you are.were. You saw the best there was in me."
"You have your Master, your lover." She gently admonished me.
"We care a lot for each other, we love each other, but it's not the same. You know that!"
I was being childish, irrational, untruthful to a certain extent, and I knew it, but all Bant did was smile at me.
"Why don't you stay for the night? I'll hold you and stay with you till you fall asleep. Then I'll leave."
I nodded, tears threatening again. And Bant, my dearest, truest friend wrapped me up in her arms and her love and held me as I wept myself to sleep.
"You'll remember me when the west wind moves." Said the warm breeze as it passed over me, hugging me, smelling of water and damp skin and Bant.
When I awoke, I was alone.
I talked to Qui-Gon that morning. I was mortified and shocked at my outburst. I should not have let my feelings run wild. He was not responsible for my inability to deal with my emotions after all.
"I'm so sorry, I should not have screamed at you. I was wrong, I will behave myself.I promise I'll never talk back to you again."
"There's no need to apologize, love; and please remember that you're not my slave. I don't mind you voicing your opinion, your disagreement, your thoughts. In fact, I cherish this. You won't see me offended by what happened yesterday, because you had every right to be angry. I wasn't exactly tactful."
"But you were right. I should learn to be still. To accept emotions, not to let myself be caught up."
"Serenity is all very well, but I understand that your feelings at such a time are in too much turmoil to be smothered by Jedi stoicism and calm. It was wise of you to let them all go. Maybe I should have cried when I lost Xanatos. It would have purged me of much of my disappointment, I believe."
Then Qui-Gon smiled and hugged me. "You won't be alone, love. I'm here for you, don't ever forget that."
I don't need any tokens to remind me of the day I lost my lover to the Force. The day when that cursed Sith's blade killed him.
That touch to my cheek filled me with a coldness that is beyond description, an emptiness that was deeper and darker than death itself, for it was a joyless, hopeless life looming ahead of me, the fear of never loving again that threatened to consume me.
While I had found comfort after Bant's death in the mere knowledge that Qui-Gon was there, in the fact that no disagreement on whatever principle ever alienated us or forced our love apart, there was only nothingness now.
I longed to die, to end it all. And there was my tearful 'I promise' - one single thread that held me in this life. I loathed Qui-Gon's request just as much as I embraced it as the sole possibility of survival.
Yoda stood beside me. And still I failed in training Anakin.
"Kill you, too much love will."(1)
I snap out of my reverie and look at the small green creature beside me.
"Dedicated to serving and protecting, the Jedi were. Prepared for the Dark Forces, we were not. Mollified by the promise of victory we were. Light triumphs over Dark. Hrmpf. Not so, this is."
"No one lives forever. You have told me so yourself after Qui-Gon's death. We all follow our own path, make our own choices."
"Yes. Walk this way you must on your own, from now on."
"I will, Master."
I kneel down beside the ancient Jedi and hold out one of the brown paper packages tied up with string to him. He smiles when he looks inside.
"Good memories these are. Cherish them I will."
I hug him and hold him tight. Now, as the sun rises over the devastated building, painting the remainder of the walls, the rubble itself with the ghostly shade of red, tingeing the memory of death with bloody hues, we walk away from each other.
"Nothing's gonna touch you in these golden years." A soft voice whispers in my mind. I smile for I know it is Qui-Gon's.
The Force has led me to seek refuge on Tatooine, amidst the dunes Anakin once called his home. In the gold of the sands I will wait. Now I'm ready to feel your hand, my love, your presence. But even if I will not, I don't want to die anymore, for I have chosen to live. I know that it's gonna be me. I will be the one to open the door to the universe for the last of the Jedi and the first of a new era.
I feel free of the burdens of the past. I have come to embrace serenity. Now I'm ready to close my eyes, to let go of all memories but of those that will sustain me. Bant, Qui-Gon, Yoda and the moments we shared, the warmth and the happiness.
It's the terror of knowing what this world is about that can drive you insane. But the love that's within you can drive out even this. Goodbye, everybody. I've got to go. I bow in reverence to the ghosts between the rubble, the presences I still feel lingering in the Force.
A reunion in death. That is what I wait for and that is what my most glorious thought will be.
(1) There used to be a greying tower alone on the sea. Last night they loved you. Too much love will kill you. (had to be adapted to Yoda's pattern of speech)