"Would you die for him?"
The question caught me off guard. I had sensed Master Windu's arrival and knew that he would speak to me about what had happened. I could tell he was here to impart some bit of wisdom to me. He never missed an opportunity to teach a lesson.
I glanced at Master Windu and then returned my gaze to my Master. Qui-Gon was meditating in the gardens, a favored activity at this time of evening. Almost everyone else was at dinner, and the gardens were all but deserted. But tonight I had invaded his sanctuary.
My fear had brought me here; my relief had kept me from intruding on his meditation.
"What do you mean, Master Windu?" I finally asked with a last glance at Qui-Gon, who remained oblivious to our presence.
"If you were in a situation where one of you had to die, would you die for him?" Master Windu repeated matter-of-factly.
I could no longer stare into those dark eyes; he seemed to see right through me. I tore my gaze away and looked once again at my Master. I sensed that Master Windu would be satisfied with no clich?d answer; he wanted me to examine my heart and be completely honest in my response.
I thought about our rocky beginnings and how his fear had come between us, the time my stupidity had almost cost me my life as a Jedi, Qui-Gon's heartbreak at Tahl's death. We had conquered so many obstacles between our first day together ten years ago and this one.
But the thought that haunted me was that this day might have been our last day together.
Qui-Gon had come close to dying, too close. I shuddered to think of what might have been. A simple accident would have been all that it took to end his life and change mine forever.
I still shook in reaction to the incident, but he was going about his daily routine as if nothing had happened. It angered me on one level, but reassured me on another.
I carefully ignored the gash on his forehead, the only reminder of his encounter with an out-of-control speeder on the streets of Coruscant. Any other human would have been killed before he ever knew what hit him. But Qui-Gon had sensed the danger at the last moment and rolled out of the way, while I stood by horrified and unable to move. He had cut his head on a pipe sticking out of a building, but the speeder had not touched him. The driver soon got it under control, and no more was said about the almost-accident.
But I could describe every moment, every movement. The possibilities of it haunted me.
Now he was on his knees, his shoulders relaxed, his breathing deep and even. He was in a perfect state of meditation. I knew I was incapable of achieving that state right now, and I envied his tranquility.
I loved him.
He was the only father I would ever have. He was my mentor and my friend, my Master and everything I aspired to be as a Jedi and a man.
But Master Windu did not want to know what I felt for him. He wanted only to know if I would die for him.
I stared at the figure kneeling there in the gardens he loved.
I turned to Master Windu. "Yes, I would die for him," I answered at last.
He nodded solemnly. "And he would die for you, Obi-Wan. Do you know why?"
I shook my head; we do not speak of love in the Jedi Order. It is a forbidden thing, a hidden weakness that few will admit to harboring.
"He would gladly die for you because life is a transient thing, a fleeting moment that passes by in an instant. But the Force, that is eternal and lasting." He put a hand on my shoulder. "Do not be afraid to die, Obi-Wan, or even to suffer the loss of a friend. The Force will be with you, always."
He pointed to Qui-Gon. "He's alive and well, and he'll be hungry when he's done. Go fetch your Master some dinner, Padawan." He had given me the lesson he intended, and now I was just another Padawan, waiting for his Master.
I rushed to the exit, already planning what I would get him for his meal. I spun around to face Master Windu one last time.
"Thank you, Master Windu," I grinned at him, "but if it's all the same to you and the Force, I'd like to keep Master Qui-Gon around for a while longer."
His laughter echoed in the garden behind me.
"Would you die for him?"
Padm?'s voice was hard as she sought to control her fury. I stared at her through narrowed eyes. I had barely escaped with my life, and she wanted to know if I would die for him? Had she not heard a word I had just said to her?
"I almost did die for him," I reminded her.
"But today he is the one who is gone!" she cried, tears rolling down her face at long last. The storm would come now; her anger and her anguish would be set free as she lashed out at me. I breathed a silent sigh of relief. She needed to express her pain; she needed to rage against the unfairness of it all. The time for practicality and acceptance would come later.
She let me embrace her then. She sobbed out her heartache, her tears soaking my tunic, which was already crusted with blood. Was it my blood or his?
I don't know how long she cried, or how long I murmured soothing sounds against her ear, struggling to help her bear the unbearable. As she began to quiet just a bit, I felt a brush of movement against my hand.
I stared down; her belly was fluttering with the motion of Anakin's children. The babies pushed out against her flesh, making their presence known. The lives cradled within her were all that had brought me back to my feet after battling their father. They had lost their father through my failure. I would protect them since he could not.
I brought her face up so that I could look in her eyes. I wanted her to see my sincerity as I gave her the answer she deserved.
"Yes, I would have died for him," I told her. "He was my Padawan, and my friend. He was like a son to me, and I would gladly have given my life for his if it would have changed anything."
She closed her eyes against my honesty. Then she trembled and opened them again, accepting the truth of what her husband had become long before the confrontation that had taken him away from her at last.
"I know, Obi-Wan, I know." She pulled away slightly. "I just?" She could no longer speak.
I could feel her grief welling up inside her. Right now she saw only a vast darkness before her which was devoid of hope. She saw nothing in her future but this awful ache, an emptiness that would remain there forever.
I took her hands and placed them on the mound of her belly. "You do have hope, and a reason to go on." She stared up at me, a desperate plea for reassurance in her eyes. "These are his children; a part of him lives on inside of you."
She nodded and turned away from me then, needing to mourn in solitude. I watched as she wrapped her arms around her children and began to speak softly to them.
I felt their Force signatures radiating out, as if seeking the comfort of touch. They were incredibly strong, and I felt a sense of awe wash over me.
I would have died for him, I told his children.
No words came back to me, of course, but I felt a sense of peace for the first time in months.
My work was not done.
My life for theirs, I pledged.
Would you die for him? I asked myself.
He was rash and impulsive. He was impatient and headstrong.
Luke was truly his father's son.
But he was also the son of Padm?. I saw her in the set of his bones, the earnest expression of his face. He had Anakin's power, a raw source of energy that blazed to life within him. But he had a core of serenity that was a gift from his mother. He was the best of both of them, and that was what gave me hope.
Would I willingly risk my life for this boy?
I studied Luke, with his bright blue eyes and tousled blond hair. The sight of him brought back painful memories that I had buried long ago. I remembered a boy with curious eyes and quick hands. I missed that boy and the man he'd once been. But now, standing before me, was his son. Here was hope.
His cheeks were flushed from his rapid flight back from the farm of his childhood. His eyes were red with tears that he would not shed. He had lost everything and everyone he loved. And now I had presented him with the new destiny that was his birthright.
Padm? had given him a great legacy. Anakin's power was awe-inspiring, but it is love that cannot be defeated in the end. And it was love she had passed on to him. He had a capacity to love, and to sacrifice for that love, that his father had not possessed. Anakin had wanted to possess love- this boy would embrace it.
So I met the familiar blue eyes, and I looked deep into the soul of a Skywalker once more.
Yes, I would die for him.
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