The sky was dark and vivid,
the bare slants of light coming from the cloud cover looking like a closed eye.
Instead of a massive black front, the storm clouds were tipped with gray twirls
and twists, violent and beautiful. The sea below appeared black, sometimes
reflecting the slightest hint of silver from the roiling sky.
Obi-Wan stood on the beach. He was held in perfect stillness, and for all that Xanatos had taught him, he had not taught him that, and he felt an instant of bitterness.
The waves, appearing almost violently torn from the sea, had not yet reached the boy, though they probably would reach where he was standing and beyond before the day was over. The storm was here to stay. Regardless, Obi-Wan did not have any fear, and Xanatos did not think he would move any time soon. Obi-Wan stood out there as if it was a rite of passage to face the fury of the sea. Or perhaps his own emotions. Who knew? Xanatos wouldn’t, not until he got the chance to talk to the boy. He had difficulty guessing Obi-Wan’s actions, but once those actions were taken, he knew what to do. He could guide Obi-Wan then.
In the meantime, he watched Obi-Wan from the house’s protected patio. It was a large house, starkly modern and uncompromising. Obi-Wan had been uncomfortable the first few weeks after Xanatos had brought him here. It was so strange to him, and Xanatos had known in its very strangeness he had been unable to help comparing it to his old home, the Jedi Temple. But he had grown used to it – and to Xanatos. He had accepted the change with a great deal more ease than Xanatos had in the beginning – from the Temple to outside of it, from Jedi to outcast.
It was the rain that made Xanatos realize that Obi-Wan knew he had come home. Obi-Wan hated the rain. It was cold, wet, and miserable, he told Xanatos in an affronted tone. Which, of course, only made Xanatos drag him out and train him there, instead. After a few unhappy rainy days, though, Obi-Wan had pulled out of his sulk, and watched Xanatos. Xanatos loved the rain; he didn’t ignore it, he embraced it. He loved the feel of it running down his body, loved the way it made him feel, loved swimming in the sea when it rained, because it seemed like even when he broke for the surface, he was still in the sea.
Xanatos taught Obi-Wan to love the rain.
Outside, it rained. Gales were thrown against the house fiercely, and it sounded like small blaster bolts were hitting the windows, the raindrops hit so hard.
Still, Xanatos didn’t go outside. Obi-Wan wanted to be alone. Xanatos was perfectly willing to sacrifice that for his apprentice. He smiled faintly. That sounded odd even to him; he tried to imagine how Qui-Gon would have reacted to such a notion, and failed utterly. Of course, Qui-Gon was like the rest of the Jedi – not simply weak, but blind as well, unable to see anything in anything less than black and white, certainly where the Force was concerned; it was a tool, and more than that, but the strict modes the Jedi taught were unnecessary. That didn’t change Obi-Wan’s ties to the man, or his own, but it gave a new perspective on life, what they had been taught and how they had been raised.
Obi-Wan was simply coming to terms with that in the rain.
Still. Xanatos had waited long enough.
He walked barefoot through the muddy sand, instantly soaked by the fierce downfall. Strands of his long, black hair clung to his neck, to his face, but most of it thrashed in the wind, the water curling it into waves. He made his way to Obi-Wan easily, the Force – strangely quiet in the storm, and utterly pure with wonder – guiding his steps.
Obi-Wan’s hair was still growing out from the Padawan cut, in that in-between place of too long, but not long enough. It was slicked across his closed eyes. His hands were loosely clasped behind his back, but Xanatos could see tenseness in his back through the white tunic. He was barefoot, like Xanatos, but his feet were covered in mud, from waiting so still against the storm.
“Obi-Wan,” Xanatos said softly, nevertheless heard, perfectly aware Obi-Wan knew he was there – if he wasn’t, he would have some serious training to do – but announcing his presence nevertheless.
To his surprise, Obi-Wan turned to look at him. He looked . . . sad. Xanatos was suddenly struck by the fact that Obi-Wan, for all his maturity, was not yet an adult. The faint remains of youthful red in his hair seemed to echo in his red-rimmed eyes. “He’s really dead,” the young man whispered.
“I know,” Xanatos said quietly. He took a step closer, and Obi-Wan lowered his gaze. Silently, Xanatos put an arm around Obi-Wan’s shoulder. After a tense pause, Obi-Wan put his head on Xanatos’ shoulder. And the dark Jedi held him more closely. Obi-Wan grieved, as was only natural; Xanatos was past the point where he felt the need. Qui-Gon was his past. He’d been finally able to let go of that when he found Obi-Wan cast out of the order, and found an apprentice – and in finding someone to teach the hard lessons he had been forced to learn on his own, he had let go of his own teacher.
Obi-Wan was a wonderful student. Always ready to learn, he listened to Xanatos – trusted him, even, after those first days of wariness when Xanatos had rescued him from the pits of Coruscant after being rejected – and reasoned his teaching through, and when it was time, accepted it completely and made the lesson a part of himself. Xanatos felt a rough affection for him, felt even protective at times. That had definitely been as new of an experience for him as Obi-Wan.
Not moving from Xanatos’ hold, Obi-Wan looked up at his teacher, expression calmer, though glimmers of old anger and grief remained. “I wanted to be the one to kill him.”
Xanatos nodded faintly. “I know.” So did I, once. It felt somehow appropriate that Qui-Gon simply died on a failed mission. Why make it dramatic? Such an unsubstantial end was worthy of the Jedi Master. And one day, Obi-Wan would look back on this day and realize it was better this way. Xanatos hoped that day would be in the ruins of the Jedi Temple, but – they would see.
The rain continued to fall. At last, Obi-Wan stepped away from Xanatos. He wiped his eyes, though as wet as it was, Xanatos didn’t see what difference it made. He smiled, perhaps a little tremulously. Xanatos smirked back. Obi-Wan laughed, and Xanatos saw something within him loosen.
“Race you back to the house, Master,” the young man said mischievously. Without waiting for a reply – damn the boy – he took off.
Xanatos sprinted after him, leaving only footsteps behind in the sand. Soon to be washed away by the storm.