The Glowing Hope

by Farfalla

On the loneliest of desert nights, Ben Kenobi lies down to sleep. He has put to rest his old name, Obi-wan, an identity as gone as all his Jedi brethren in the massacre. He cannot believe how quickly the clone army destroyed his people. Now, he and Yoda are all that remain of a once-proud order, and even they are split apart for safety--and shame.

In the hut, he hides, watching over the infant Skywalker from afar. He still has no idea how he is ever to repay his debt to the universe, his own failure to preserve Anakin's goodness. He will not make the same mistake with young Luke.

How?

He has time to puzzle it out. If there *is* such a thing as enough time to come to the solution.

He lies on a hard bed, hoping the hardness of stone barely covered by linen will distract him from the gaping wound in his soul. His life has been ripped away, completely destroyed by one whom he once called brother. Nearly singlehandedly.

Is there anyone left to love?

"You are not alone."

He is bolt upright in bed and his lightsaber zooms to life in his hand before he places the voice. It has been thirteen years.

"Qui-gon!" He turns off the blade. A dim, silver glow suffuses the form of the man walking towards him, his Jedi robes swaying around his placid form. "Yoda said you'd learned the path to immortality!" Obi-wan continues, sliding his lightsaber back into his belt.

"Indeed I have," the apparition affirms. "It's a lonely universe. I only wish I'd been able to save the rest of the Jedi."

Obi-wan sagged at yet another reminder of the great tragedy. "We cannot let ourselves be dragged down by thoughts of what might have been, or how we could have saved them."

"Your thoughts are on the future."

"Yes. On Luke. Someday, I will have to instruct him to use his gifts--I must watch over him and see that the *Emperor* never discovers where he is or steals him the way he did Anakin."

"And in the meantime?"

Obi-wan took a deep breath. "Heal."

Qui-gon paused while he drew nearer. "I'm proud of what you have become, Obi-wan. I'm honored to have trained you."

Obi-wan looked straight into the eyes of the glowing figure. "These troubles all came from love. The universe was destroyed for love. Anakin's love for Padmé."

"Love is not always a path to destruction," Qui-gon reminded him.

"I am already destroyed," Obi-wan muttered bitterly.

"No," Qui-gon countered. "You have survived."

"And for what purpose? To wait forever, protecting a farm boy from evil he cannot possibly imagine? To live as a hermit in a desert wasteland, tortured by memories for my entire existence?"

"To give me a reason to return," Qui-gon answered quietly. "I have achieved immortality through my connection with you. Without you, my existence remains on the spiritual plane only."

Obi-wan studied him carefully. "You mean that because you came back and were able to show Master Yoda how to preserve the living spirit--"

"--the Jedi will never die."

"Because of me."

"Love is not always a path to destruction," Qui-gon repeated. "Sometimes it is the path to the best in us."