torch, August-September 1999

Disclaimer: they live with Lucas, they're just here on vacation. Sequel to Happening to you and A healthy dose of pain, and surprisingly enough, this isn't a nice story either. Title by Belle and Sebastian. Flames to Do not archive this story without permission.

Nothing left to do

There was incense and scented oil and fresh night air, but nothing could disguise the smell of burning flesh.

Obi-Wan could have used the force to block it out, or at least to keep it from scorching his throat and lungs, settling heavily into his clothes and hair. He did it for Anakin, clearing the air around the boy, not wanting Anakin's last memory of the Jedi he'd idolized to be tainted by the inevitable urge to retch that followed when the body had its normal reactions to the odor of grilled meat. For himself, though... he wanted it. Wanted to keep it. It was like a last touch, a last little fragment of Qui-Gon to hold close.

His arms still remembered the weight of his master's dead body. His cheek still burned with the memory of one fleeting touch. He stood straight, bracing his spine against the weight of guilt that threatened to squash him. I'm sorry, he said, seeing Qui-Gon's hair turn into a waterfall of flame. I'm so sorry.

Next to him, Anakin shivered, and he touched the boy, offering a little warmth, a little contact. It was easy to understand Anakin's worry about what would become of him. Qui-Gon had been his only defender. Obi-Wan blinked against the smoke, remembering his own arguments and the fear and jealousy in them.

He was going to make up for it. The council had given him permission; he was Anakin's master now. Had given him reluctant permission — he could almost feel Yoda's eyes, watching, always watching from now on as the youngest knight ever to take a padawan trained the youngest padawan ever to be taken on by a knight. Oh, they made a fine pair, the chosen one and the newest Jedi rebel, Qui-Gon's last adopted stray and Qui-Gon's hopeless failure of an apprentice...

But he wasn't an apprentice any more. He'd passed the trials. It had been surprisingly easy for something he had been training towards all his life, or maybe it was just that he'd been so numb, nothing had fazed him, nothing had frightened him. He'd needed to pass the trials in order to be able to carry out Qui-Gon's final request, and so he had passed them.

It was all he had left now, this gift, this legacy. And the way in which it had been given. He resisted the temptation to brush his fingers over his cheek. He didn't want to revisit that precious memory too often or too obviously, not the way he was watched now. Enough to have experienced it for what it was.

Qui-Gon had loved him, that tender touch had meant love, giving Anakin over into his care had meant trust, even after the way Obi-Wan had argued with him and doubted him. Even after Obi-Wan had failed to protect him, had stood helplessly by as he was cut down...

Obi-Wan swallowed his tears. He had all his life to grieve. What was important was that he had to honor his promise. He was going to take care of Anakin, the way a master should take care of his padawan. He was going to train Anakin.

Just the way Qui-Gon would have done.

* * *

Short of going

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