Title: Homecoming
Author: Wolfling (wolfling.msn@attcanada.net)
Rating: G
Pairing: Q/O
Spoilers: Only the obvious one from TPM and some from the original trilogy

Summary: Obi-Wan's thoughts as he faces Darth Vader on the Death Star.

Feedback: is gratefully accepted :)

Notes: This is the sequel to Afterthoughts. Sorry sa, no sex. I tried but they wouldn't cooperate. Thanks to Lori for giving this a quick beta.

Homecoming

By Wolfling

So it has come to this.

Standing in this sterile corridor I face my former apprentice. It was inevitable I suppose. There is far too much between us that remains unfinished.

He senses it too. His voice when he speaks is powerful and commanding, in direct contrast to his wheezing breath. A booming bass mechanically amplified and projected, calculated to be the most intimidating it can be. He still manages to sound like a spoiled child.

"I've been waiting for you Obi-Wan. We meet again at last. The circle is now complete. When I left you I was but a learner. Now *I* am the Master."

I search the form encased in black metal and silk that steps toward me with his light saber raised looking for at least a trace of the boy I had known. But it is hopeless. The boy I had trained, the boy that my Master had seen such promise in, is totally gone.

What I had told his son had been the truth: Anakin Skywalker is dead, and it is the man who stands before me, Darth Vader, who killed him.

And that is how I addressed him as I spoke; he did not deserve the other name anymore. "Only a Master of evil, Darth."

I lunge at him and he parries and the battle is joined.

As we exchange blows, feeling out each other's strengths and weaknesses after such a long time, I begin to feel something else as well.

It is a strange sensation, a presence in the Force, at once both familiar and alien, and a... lightening of spirit, as if all my burdens were dropping away, one by one.

We come to one of those natural pauses that happen in fights like this, each taking a step back. That is when I see it: the faint shimmering just beyond Darth that is slowly growing more solid.

I feel my heart speed up in a way that the fight alone is not able to cause. It can't be...

Can it?

But it is; the shimmering was gradually resolving itself into the shape of Qui-Gon, my Master, smiling at me over Vader's shoulder.

Vader is taunting me but his words barely register. "Your powers are weak old man."

I almost laugh. At that moment, seeing my Master, I feel like there isn't anything I can't do. "You can't win Darth," I tell my erstwhile apprentice, my eyes still on Qui-Gon. "Strike me down and I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."

Vader strikes at me then and I parry automatically. Qui-Gon shakes his head at me with mock sternness and his lips form the word, "Focus." Even without sound I can understand him clearly.

The fight. Right. Tearing my gaze from my Master's form I force my concentration back onto the duel.

My opponent stands between me and the hanger where the ship awaits. So as we fight I gradually turn, switching positions with him, then I start to back up, step by step towards escape.

All the while I am aware of Qui-Gon's presence, hovering just on the edge of my sight, standing there watching the fight, watching me.

Waiting for me.

Just like he promised.

We reach the entrance to the hanger; if I turn my head I can see the ship waiting. But with every second that passes I am becoming increasingly sure that I will not reach it. That in fact, I will not survive this fight.

The thought fills me with conflicting emotions, even though I have been sensing this moment for some time. It is why I told Luke that his destiny lay along a different path from mine, why I did not take him with me.

But still, my responsibility to him remains. I have barely even begun to teach him the basics. To deprive him of his teacher now...

*You have set his feet on the Path, Obi-Wan.* My Master's voice ringing in my head, as clear as my own thoughts. *It is up to another to guide him further.*

I parry a few more blows from Vader as I try and come to terms with that. Will I be able to meekly step aside and let another finish Luke's training, I wonder. I look at Qui-Gon waiting patiently. How can I not when to refuse to do so is to deny my Master?

Another pause in the fighting. I can feel Vader's gaze probing at me, seeking a way through my defenses. He is puzzled I can tell. He senses my attention is not fully on the fight and doesn't understand why.

I wonder how he would react if I tell him who it is that is distracting me.

"You should not have come back," Vader says. In pity? Triumph? Contempt?

Not that it matters. Regardless of why he said it, he is wrong. I had to come back here, had to face him, had to fight him again. This is unfinished business, it has to happen before I am free to move on.

Vader attacks again and I sense that this fight is nearing its end. So short. How different from the last time we faced each other, when it went on for hours. At the time it had seemed like forever.

But not this time. This time I can feel the seconds ticking away, bringing its end closer and closer with each one. Bringing my end too, I suppose. But I am not afraid.

Somehow over the hum of our sabers and the crash and crackle when they meet I hear it. A soft voice full of recognition and disbelief.

"Ben?"

I turn and look; sure enough there is young Luke in the middle of the hanger gaping at me in shock. Behind him I can see the others making a run for the ship while the guards are distracted. Including Luke's sister.

Somehow they had managed to rescue her. Good.

My attention focuses back on Luke. I meet his eyes and realize that my Master is right. I had helped begin Luke's journey but it is not my place to share it with him. I am suddenly confident that he will find another teacher. I even believe I know who it will be.

*It is time, Obi-Wan.* I look back at Qui-Gon, who has moved closer and now is standing directly in front of me. I would hardly have to reach out a hand to touch him.

He opens his arms, beckoning, waiting. I can't help but smile at him, at the gesture. I feel an incredible peace settle over me as I salute him with my saber and close my eyes. Our waiting is finally over.

I hear the hum of Vader's light saber cleaving the air as it comes towards me and I brace for the pain, the feel of it biting into my flesh. Instead what I feel are warm familiar arms closing around me in a tight embrace.

I open my eyes and look up into my Master's smiling face. "Welcome, Obi-Wan," he whispers softly, giving my braid a playful tug and I realize I am once again the young man I had been when I was his Padawan.

Before I can answer he closes the remaining distance between us and kisses me.

Instantly I am lost in the sensation, and feel a bolt of pure joy shoot through me as it slowly sinks in. Finally, after all this time I am in my Master's arms, with his mouth pressed to mine. I tighten my own grip on him as I kiss back as passionately as I am being kissed.

I am finally home.

END