Actions

Work Header

Can't return to who I was before

Chapter Text

“You knew me,” Alpha-17 says.

Obi-Wan looks up from his contemplation of hyperspace. The ship they’re on isn’t very big. It isn’t designed for all the passengers on it. He’s done his best to give the Alphas space, remaining in the cockpit as they entertain themselves however they choose.

“In your other life,” Alpha-17 elaborates. “You knew me.”

“You aren’t him,” Obi-Wan says which is more of an answer than he wanted to give.

“Tell me,” Alpha-17 says.

Obi-Wan gestures for him to take the copilot chair. He watches space pass them by for a few moments before he speaks. “We were captured by Separatist forces. Tortured. It isn’t a pleasant story. None of it is, really.”

Alpha-17 doesn’t seem fazed by the prospect of having been tortured in another life. “Your memories of Cody are warm.”

“Until he ordered our battalion to fire on me.” Obi-Wan turns his chair away from Alpha-17. He sighs. “This Cody isn’t the one I knew either. No one is. I am grateful I’ve been given the opportunity to change things, but it’s as though I’m walking through fields of ghosts. Everyone I know died, and the people I see now aren’t them. They just wear their faces.”

“You should come to Mandalore with us when this is over,” Alpha-17 says.

Obi-Wan laughs. He can’t help it. Cody, his hardened, tough-as-nails commander, had once described Alpha-17 as the toughest vod the Kaminoans decanted. They had bred the aggression and attitude out after the Alpha-batch, but Cody always suspected that Fox had a bit of Alpha in him.

The point is, Obi-Wan must be in dire need of comfort if Alpha-17 is offering it.

“You do know what we’re doing, correct?” Obi-Wan asks. “Either we fail, in which case we are dead, and the galaxy is fucked. Or we succeed, in which case I have assassinated the Chancellor of the Republic. There’s no happy ending for me. But there will be for others, and that is enough.”

“Shitty,” Alpha-17 says. And then, “We’re having a strategy meeting. Join us.”

It isn’t a request so Obi-Wan checks their course and then follows Alpha-17 to where the rest of their crew is waiting.

#

Obi-Wan has been preparing for this moment for over ten years. It doesn’t feel like nearly enough time as he enters the Senate Chambers. Even with a lifetime tacked onto the one he’s lived so far, he isn’t prepared. How is he supposed to defeat a Sith Master?

Palpatine is waiting for him in the Senate Chamber.

Obi-Wan had requested a private meeting, an opportunity to see the gears of the Republic, and Palpatine had agreed, despite the last-minute, and odd, request. Does he suspect? Does he know?

Obi-Wan offers a bright smile as he looks at the unassuming man in front of him. “Sheev Palpatine, former Senator from Naboo, current Chancellor of the Republic. Darth Sidious, Sith Lord. Are there any titles I’m missing? I’d hate for this to be uncivilized.”

Palpatine’s pleasant, almost fatherly expression sours immediately. He seems to age before Obi-Wan’s very eyes, turning from a middle-aged man to a wizened, elderly one. “Kenobi,” he says, in a raspy, low voice.

“And now that introductions are done, we can get down to business.” Obi-Wan keeps up his charming, negotiator smile, even as he trembles with a mixture of fear and anger. This is the man who destroyed everything and everyone Obi-Wan ever loved. And he’s attempting to do it again. “Will you come in peacefully?”

“On what charges?” Sidious asks, clearly humoring him, as he tries to figure out his next move.

And by next move, Obi-Wan means the most efficient way to kill Obi-Wan and dispose of his body. “Treason, for starters. Funding and encouraging the Trade Federation to invade your own planet. Training Darth Maul and setting him on Queen Amidala. Murdering Darth Plagueis. I don’t know his non-Sith identity, but I do know you killed him.”

“You know a lot,” Sidious says. “Far more than you should.”

Obi-Wan knows the next stage of the plan. All of this hinges on him. Even though it’s his purpose, it’s why the Force sent him back, he shies away from it. But, he has always done his duty.

“Sith thrive on fear and suffering,” Obi-Wan says. “I have a lifetime of it. Do you want to see?”

Obi-Wan opens his mind and shoves the memories of his past self at Sidious. It’s an entire lifetime of pain for Sidious to gorge himself on. Hopefully, enough to distract him from what’s happening in this lifetime.

 

Obi-Wan is twelve. There are tears running down his cheeks, because the Jedi don’t want him. He wasn’t good enough for anyone to choose, and then he was bad and they’re sending him away. He won’t ever be a knight and help people. He’s stupid. Useless. Oafy-Wan, just like Bruck said.

“A failed initiate?” Sidious asks, delighted. He digs deeper.

The slave collar is tight around Obi-Wan’s neck. It hurts but not as much as being cut off from the Force. He’s afraid. Afraid of being whipped. Afraid of being forgotten. Afraid he’ll die here. And then Master Jinn rescues him. Obi-Wan’s hope is short lived, because there’s a door, and they can’t get it open. There’s only one solution. Obi-Wan has a bomb around his neck. He will die, but everyone else with live.

It’s enough.

 

Master Jinn’s scowl is fierce and anger radiates off of him. “You will obey me, padawan, and return to the Temple with me and Tahl.”

“The Force wants me here,” Obi-Wan says. “There are people who need help.”

They fight and then Obi-Wan is left behind. Master Jinn has chosen Master Tahl over him. But why should Obi-Wan be surprised? Master Jinn never wanted him. He made it clear at the Temple. Whatever respect Obi-Wan had earned on Bandomeer, he’s lost it now. He gave up his dream for the Young.

They are worth it.

 

“I will train the boy,” Master Jinn tells the Council.

Obi-Wan has had a bad feeling since Master Jinn returned to the ship with a little boy in tow. He never expected this. But why not? His apprenticeship has been a series of small betrayals, exchanged between the two of them. This is where it always was going to end.

“Have a padawan already, you do,” Master Yoda says.

“He is ready for his Trials,” Master Jinn says.

Sidious cackles. “So easily set aside.”

 

“No!” Obi-Wan screams but the Force doesn’t answer. Master Jinn slides to the floor, wounded by Maul’s blade.

The ray shields go down, and Obi-Wan charges forward. He attacks Maul with renewed strength. He defeats the Sith, and then he kneels at his master’s side. He draws Master Jinn’s head into his lap. He runs his fingers through his master’s hair. He knows there’s nothing he can do now but give him comfort before the Force reclaims him.

“Obi-Wan,” Master Jinn rasps.

Obi-Wan leans in. “I’m here, master.”

“Promise me, you will train the boy.”

Obi-Wan’s stomach sinks. His master’s last words to him, and they aren’t for him. They’re for the boy. For Obi-Wan’s replacement. He bows his head. “I will. I will train him.”

 

“Your life, General. You should be more careful with it.”

Obi-Wan takes the lightsaber Cody holds out to him. “Thank you, Commander. I’m glad to know it’s in good hands when it isn’t with me.”

Cody’s expression is fond, and Obi-Wan goes to look into the canyon their camp is set up on the edge of. He hears the chirp of a comm. He turns to see who is contacting his commander. Cody’s shoulders are stiff. There’s something unreadable in his expression.

Cody signals and then the men fire.

Obi-Wan tumbles over the side of the cliff.

As he falls, all he can think is what / how / why. And then he hits the hard surface of the ground, and pain radiates through his body. It doesn’t fade. It grows worse, and it takes him three shuddering breaths to realize what he’s feeling.

The Jedi.

The Jedi are dying.

“Oh, this is lovely,” Sidious says. “What more do you have for me, Kenobi?”

 

Obi-Wan’s horror claws at his throat but doesn’t escape. How is there any escape from this? Anakin, his face in shadow because of his hood, but with yellow eyes glowing from the dark. He strides through the Temple and cuts down anyone in his path. It doesn’t matter their age. It doesn’t matter if they plead. It doesn’t matter if they knew him or if they were strangers.

“You gave me my apprentice,” Sidious says. “Did I ever thank you?”

 

“You were my brother!”

Mustafar is hot. The sulfur burns the inside of his nose and throat. Obi-Wan’s emotions are as volatile as the volcanoes which dot the planet’s surface.

The fight is painful and brutal. It ends with Anakin, mortally wounded. It ends with Obi-Wan, walking away. It ends with Padmé, screaming and dying and bringing life into the galaxy.

It doesn’t end. It never ends.

 

Luke turns into Obi-Wan’s shoulder and sobs at the sight of his aunt and uncle’s farm as it burns. Everyone Obi-Wan touches is in danger. Anyone he cares about, they are destined for death.

 

Obi-Wan has not felt pain like this since—since the Purge. His chest aches and his soul weeps as he realizes what has happened. Alderaan is gone. He doesn’t understand how, but it happened. Dead. Billions dead in a single moment.

He is tired.

When is it enough?

 

Obi-Wan faces off against the Sith that used to be his apprentice. All he needs to do is buy enough time for the twins to escape. He has always been willing to trade his life for others. Isn’t that what he learned on Bandomeer?

He raises his lightsaber, not to guard but to surrender.

And his padawan, his brother, kills him.

 

He wakes up with a gasp in the Temple. A mobile spins slowly above his bed.

“What is this?” Sidious asks, a note of honest curiosity in his voice. “What an enigma you are, Kenobi. What other secrets do you have?”

 

Cerasi dies and Obi-Wan screams.

Sidious laughs and it slides, oily and wrong, through Obi-Wan’s head. “Did you truly think you could change anything?”

 

Dooku closes Obi-Wan’s hand over his padawan braid.

Leaving.

His master is leaving him.

This isn’t supposed to happen.

Sidious’s cackling echoes through the chamber. “A second lifetime, and you still haven’t learned. You were never enough. What can you do against me?”

Obi-Wan struggles to ground himself in the present, to remember why he’s here and what he’s doing. He shoves away old hurts and ancient aches. He is in front of Sidious now. The man’s gnarled fingers are on his head. Sharp nails press into his skull.

“I have learned,” Obi-Wan says. His voice is raw, as if Sidious scraped him out when he was rooting through Obi-Wan’s memories. “Do you really think I came alone? The time has come. Execute Order 66.”

Obi-Wan is close enough to see Sidious’s surprise at the command. And then his glee. The blaster bolts are aimed at Obi-Wan’s back. He knows how fast they travel. He knows where the Alphas are stationed. He knows how long to wait, wait—

Obi-Wan drops, pulled to the ground with the help of the Force.

Sidious shrieks as he’s hit with blasterfire. He stumbles, but he doesn’t fall. He doesn’t die. He hisses and throws out his arms. Wherever the Alphas were, they aren’t now. Obi-Wan only hopes the Force-toss didn’t kill them.

Obi-Wan turns over, but before he can stand, there’s an invisible hand wrapped around his throat. It squeezes tightly, choking him. Even though he knows it won’t help, he tries to grab it. He claws at his throat instead and scores angry red lines against the faint scar from the electrowhip on Lorra. It doesn’t help.

His vision goes dark and then it clears again, the pressure lessened.

“Even with a second chance, your legacy is failure and death,” Sidious says. His smile is cruel. “Do you really think I’ll let you die? If I strike you down, you’ll become more powerful than I could ever imagine.” He laughs and a shiver runs down Obi-Wan’s spine.

Did the blaster bolts weaken him at all? Is he bleeding out? Is there any hope?

“No, you are mine now,” Sidious says. He curls his hand and Obi-Wan chokes again. “I will keep you in Force suppressants, and you will remain at my side. You will watch as I order an air strike on your precious Temple. You will tell me every leader of the rebellion, and I will lay their bodies at your feet. You will watch as Alderaan meets its fate again. Maybe, I’ll even have you press the button.”

“No,” Obi-Wan says. Begs, really. His feet scrabble against the smooth floor, but there’s no purchase. Tears slide out of his eyes.

Sidious laughs, the cackle of a man who has lost his tether to reality. He squeezes his hand, and the pressure increases on Obi-Wan’s throat. Black spots his vision. A little more and—the pressure lets up. Sidious’s smile is all sadistic glee. “No, Kenobi, you will not die. You will witness my victory. You will serve as a reminder of the futility of hope.” Sidious spits the word. “You will be the first to bow and declare me emperor. I will rule this galaxy! I will—"

A lightsaber slides through Sidious’s body, and the Sith chokes on his words. The saber rips up, parting his rib cage, his sternum, his throat, and then his head. Obi-Wan sucks in air as Sidious falls to the ground. Behind him, stands Dooku. Count? Master? Tyrannus?

Obi-Wan looks at Sidious’s body. “Is it over?”

“Yes,” Dooku answers. He kneels at Obi-Wan’s side. “It’s over. Rest now, padawan.”

Obi-Wan is exhausted. His head is an open, throbbing wound from where Sidious had ripped through his memories. Part of him longs to fall into this embrace and sleep. But part of him is wary.

“Your saber isn’t red,” Obi-Wan mumbles. This is important. He doesn’t remember why.

#

Obi-Wan wakes up in the Halls of Healing. Slumped in the chair next to his bed is Dooku. His hand is clasped tightly around Obi-Wan’s. Obi-Wan smiles and his smile grows as his master stirs.

“I had the strangest dream, master,” Obi-Wan says. And then he registers the presence of someone else in the room. He turns to see a familiar figure lurking in the corner of his room.

Jango Fett. No, not him.

Commander Cody. No, not him either.

Alpha-17.

Memories rush back, and Obi-Wan turns in time to puke into the bucket Dooku helpfully holds out for him. It’s hell on his already abused throat, and tears sting Obi-Wan’s eyes. He settles back against his bed.

“Not a dream,” Obi-Wan rasps.

Healer Che bustles in before Dooku can respond.

#

Obi-Wan’s permitted a walk in the Room of a Thousand Fountains. Ostensibly, he’s still recovering. It’s why he hasn’t been hauled in front of the Council or the Senate, but it won’t last much longer. He almost wishes they would just do it and get it over with.

He has spent this lifetime, living toward a specific moment. Now that it’s happened, he isn’t sure what comes next. He doesn’t like the uncertainty.

His senses alert him to the fact that someone is following him. It isn’t Alpha-17, who is Obi-Wan’s ever present shadow. Bodyguard? Whoever is following him, their Force signature is light. Young. They are stalking him. Hunting him? But it isn’t something for him to fear.

Obi-Wan turns into one of the secluded parts of the garden in hopes of drawing out this mysterious stranger.

A young Togruta pops out of the bushes. She bares her teeth in victory, not threat. Her eyes are big and blue and take up almost her entire face. The white markings on her face are faint against her skin, not yet fully developed.

“Hello, little one,” Obi-Wan greets. “Are you lost?”

“No. I found you.”

“Indeed, you did. What is your plan now?” Obi-Wan sits on the bench under a blooming tree. He pats the space next to him and Ahsoka scrambles to join him. She settles up on her knees, so they’re closer in height.

“You’re Obi-Wan Kenobi,” she says.

“I am.”

“I’m Initiate Ahsoka Tano. Will you take me as your padawan?”

Obi-Wan’s too surprised to guard his reaction. “Pardon?”

“Everyone wants to be your padawan,” Ahsoka says. “Healer Che has been chasing people away from the Halls for days. But I’m the first to find you so I get to ask first.”

Obi-Wan exhales slowly. Her enthusiasm is gratifying, but it presses on old aches. Is this a second lifetime he’s destined to want her and then have to let her go? “Ahsoka, I won’t be taking a padawan.”

“Why not? You killed a Sith apprentice when you were still a padawan, and then you helped Master Dooku kill a Sith master as a knight. You have the best lineage.”

“Where did you hear about that?” Obi-Wan asks. He knows the Temple gossip mill churns quickly, but he hadn’t expected initiates to already have heard about what happened at the Senate.

“There’s a video,” Ahsoka says. “It’s everywhere. The crechemasters tried to keep us from watching, but they couldn’t. Does your throat still hurt? I can make you tea. Or, um, I can get some from the commissary. I’m not allowed to cook yet.”

“I’m sorry, you saw a video of my confrontation with Sidious?” Obi-Wan asks.

Ahsoka nods. “You were very brave, Master Kenobi. And he was really mean. I’m glad he can’t hurt us anymore. Was he really the chancellor?”

“He was,” Obi-Wan says. “Ahsoka, I appreciate your initiative and your drive, but we should return you to your crechemaster before anyone worries.”

“Or I could stay with you. Nothing bad will happen to me while I’m with you.”

“I appreciate your faith, little one, but I’m afraid I must insist.” Obi-Wan stands. After a moment of hesitation, he holds his hand out to Ahsoka. She hops off the bench and then grips his hand tightly, all the way back to the creche.

After he’s successfully handed her off to her crechemaster, Obi-Wan crosses his arms over his chest and glowers at Alpha-17 until the man approaches him.

“Did you record the fight with Sidious?” Obi-Wan asks.

“Of course,” Alpha-17 answers. “I also distributed it across every channel I could access.”

Obi-Wan pinches the bridge of his nose. “Why?”

“Because we assassinated the Chancellor of the Republic, and the galaxy needed to know why. Have you given any thought to what you’re going to do now that your mission is complete?”

“Have you?” Obi-Wan shot back.

“The Primes have already reached out to Mandalore’s current ruler. The Kaminoans will honor their contract which means another two million vode. We’ll settle in the Mandalorian system, raise ourselves, and then do whatever the hell we want. That’s what it means to be sentient and free, doesn’t it?”

“And you still want me to go with you?”

“As you said, this place is haunted by ghosts. Besides, there are no more decommissions allowed. Whether the vode are born physically different or even Force sensitive, they will live. The Force sensitive ones will need teachers.”

“Oh, Jango will love that,” Obi-Wan mutters.

“Prime-1’s opinion is irrelevant,” Alpha-17 says. “You were right. He was raising us for his war. We have agreed to help take Mandalore, but we are not his. We belong to ourselves.”

“Well,” Obi-Wan says. “Congratulations.”

#

Finally, Obi-Wan is summoned to the Council.

He arrives, prepared to stand trial for his recent actions. He isn’t prepared for the crowd of people—witnesses?—that fill the room along with the councilors. Is this supposed to be a humiliation? To show his failure in front of Qui-Gon and Anakin? Are Quinlan and Bant here to help restrain him?

Does the Council really believe, after everything, that Obi-Wan means the Order harm?

Alpha-17, as always, follows Obi-Wan into the room.

Mace gestures for Obi-Wan to sit. Too tired to protest, Obi-Wan does. His confusion grows when, instead of interrogating him, Mace gestures to someone else.

Bant and Quinlan take a seat a few feet away from Obi-Wan. Bant clears her throat and glances at Obi-Wan before she directs her gaze to Mace. “Councilor Windu, what can I do for you?”

“When did you first notice something was different about Initiate Kenobi?” Mace asks.

Oh, Obi-Wan thinks, and he closes his eyes.

“He was twelve,” Bant answers. “One day, he was different. He felt different in the Force. Tight. Like he was holding everything in. Normally, Obi-Wan’s feelings leaked out, and he was scolded for it. But then he stopped letting Bruck provoke him into fights. I was excited at first. I thought he was listening to the masters and changing. But then he stopped doing anything.”

“Did you tell anyone about your concerns?” Mace asks.

“Yes.” Bant sounds a little affronted that he thought she hadn’t. “But the crechemaster dismissed my observations. Obi-Wan was nearing his thirteenth birthday. Any changes were assumed to be him trying to impress a master. I tried to explain that it was the opposite, but it didn’t help. I didn’t tell anyone what I suspected after that.”

“What did you suspect?” Mace prompts.

“Obi-Wan changed.” Bant shrugs. “I didn’t really have the words for it. It’s why I tried to talk to someone. But once I was shut down…and then things moved quickly. Obi-Wan became Master Dooku’s apprentice, and then we were all in and out of the Temple and any changes, it was easy to assume they were because of our new experiences.”

“Thank you,” Mace says. “Knight Vos, when did you notice a difference with Initiate Kenobi?”

“Around the same time Bant did.” Quinlan pushes an apology and a silent plea to trust through the bond he and Obi-Wan share. “But I was older, and I had more evidence. Obi had always been emotional, but he was suddenly solemn. Closed off. He didn’t want to train in the salles anymore, even though it was his favorite thing. He was studying with Jinn—I mean, Master Jinn—even though Master Jinn had refused to take him as a padawan. It was weird.”

Quinlan slouches in his chair, as if this meeting is beneath him, and he fiddles with his hair. “One evening, Obi-Wan handed me his datapad. He practically dared me to take a reading from it. It was—” Quinlan swallows, his throat bobbing as he searches for the words he wants. “Intense. The strongest impression was Obi-Wan having an allergic reaction. I felt his throat close up. And then I felt him filter the toxins out of his body.”

Quinlan anticipates Mace’s next question. “I confronted him about it. He was twelve. He shouldn’t know how to do that. He told me he’d had a vision. And when I pressed him about his sudden change, why he was learning about farming techniques instead of at the salles, he told me he was going to the AgriCorps. In his vision, Jinn took Obi-Wan as his apprentice and later died. He wanted to change the future.”

“Thank you,” Mace says. “Is there anything else either of you two would like to add?”

They shook their heads and then took their places with the rest of the witnesses. Mace called Healer Che to the table next.

“You know I won’t give you details,” Healer Che says, jumping on the offensive. “There is such thing as healer-patient confidentiality.”

“I understand,” Mace says. “Did you notice anything odd or different about Initiate Kenobi?”

“Yes.”

Mace draws a breath.

“There were inconsistencies with Initiate Kenobi’s reactions and his known experiences.” Healer Che folds her hands on the table. “And that is all I’m willing to disclose.”

Mace exhales slowly and then inclines his head in both thanks and a dismissal.

Qui-Gon and Anakin sit at the table next. Obi-Wan tucks his hands into his sleeves and wishes he could be anywhere but here. Must he really listen to this nonsense? What does it matter whether they believe he has visions of an alternate future? It doesn’t change what he’s done in this time.

He listens, along with everyone else in the room, as Qui-Gon describes the differences he noticed in Obi-Wan. Anakin chimes in with what he picked up from Obi-Wan’s “dreams”. There are murmurs when Anakin talks about being Obi-Wan’s padawan, about a few memories that are too concrete to be a vision.

And then Dooku sits at the table.

Obi-Wan thinks he handles it very well, given that his former master is neatly dissecting their entire apprenticeship and noting how Obi-Wan wasn’t the typical Jedi.

“The Naboo invasion changed things,” Dooku says. “My apprentice, who had shown himself capable and beyond many of his peers, set himself apart again by defeating the first Sith we had encountered for many, many years.” Dooku’s smile twists into a frown. “The Council refused to believe that the Zabrak was a Sith. There were those who did believe, and they knew we couldn’t afford to dismiss the Zabrak as a darksider. He was a Sith, and Sith always came in pairs.”

Obi-Wan has a bad feeling about this.

“We needed to locate the Sith master. It was suggested that as the one who defeated the apprentice, Obi-Wan should be the one to search for the master. I didn’t want to see him put into that danger, so I volunteered myself in his stead.”

Obi-Wan explodes out of his chair. He spins away from the Council and their startled reaction, the way half of them have their sabers out and the other half are prepared to draw. Obi-Wan runs a hand through his hair as he stalks toward the windows which overlook Coruscant.

Long-forgotten, faded dreams return to him. While recovering after Maul, he’d seen snatches of meetings between Dooku and—

Obi-Wan spins to face Master Yoda. “You can’t help yourself, can you?” Anger comes easily, rushing up to fill the emptiness inside of him. It burns away the hurt, but it’s dangerous. Obi-Wan releases it into the Force, stays still and breathing slowly until he’s fully in control. “You convinced me that I was unwanted. You were so certain you knew my path that you forced me on it. You turned other masters away from making me an offer. You sent me away. All to engineer what you thought was the perfect master-padawan pair.”

Obi-Wan can’t help but look over at Qui-Gon. The man seems surprised at first, and then his expression turns sad, as if he’s understanding what had happened in Obi-Wan’s previous life.

“I was prepared this time,” Obi-Wan says. “I wouldn’t be Qui-Gon Jinn’s padawan, but it was my choice. I would go to the AgriCorps and see what the Force held for me. And then.” Obi-Wan’s gaze slides toward Dooku now. “Master Dooku made an offer. In spite of your plans, Master Yoda. He wanted me. You have no idea what that meant to me.” Emotions rise up again, threatening to choke him.

“And then he rejected me,” Obi-Wan says, his voice barely above a whisper. “All for your fucking agenda!” Obi-Wan takes a deep, gasping breath. “Apologies, Councilors, witnesses.” He bows to each group in turn. “That was an uncivilized outburst.”

He bends over and braces his arms on his thighs. His breathing is short, ragged, never enough air for his lungs. He can feel the Jedi in the room reach out, probing, testing to see if they should offer to help, but he lashes back at each of them. He doesn’t want them. He doesn’t need them.

“That’s a shitty recovery position,” Alpha-17 says, briskly. He doesn’t ask for permission as he strides up to Obi-Wan and then pulls him into a better posture for breathing. “Who taught you?”

“Not you,” Obi-Wan says snippily.

Alpha-17 just laughs.

“And you are?” Mace asks.

“Alpha-17,” Alpha-17 drawls.

Mace doesn’t know enough to know how disrespectful the tone and the lack of “sir” is, but Obi-Wan does. He gapes, impressed and a touch worried at Alpha-17’s recklessness.

Alpha-17 grins and then grabs one of the chairs, spins it around, and then straddles the back as he sits down and addresses the Council. “I am part of the second batch of clones produced by the Kaminoans. I am a clone of Prime-1. You may be more familiar with him as Jango Fett.”

“Clones?” Mace echoes.

Alpha-17 turns to Obi-Wan. “The Jedi didn’t know?”

Obi-Wan laughs even though it isn’t funny. “No idea. You were created for the Jedi but at the order of a Sith.”

Mace clears his throat. “Alpha-17, do you have something to add regarding Obi-Wan Kenobi?”

“We were ostensibly made to fight a war for the Jedi,” Alpha-17 says. “A war that I believe we’ve now prevented. Regardless, we were trained to fight alongside Jedi. And we’re clones of one of the most infamous Jedi killers in the galaxy. We learned that too.” Alpha-17 smiles, all teeth and threats. “The first rule of dealing with Jedi is nothing is impossible.”

This is too much for Councilor Droom. “Are you saying you believe in time travel or visions that span an entire lifetime?”

“I don’t disbelieve it,” Alpha-17 answers. “Do I think it’s probable? No. But I don’t rule out the possibility. As soon as you underestimate a Jedi, you die.”

“What made you consider this possibility with Obi-Wan?” Mace asks.

“He found us. Kamino’s been wiped off all the maps in the galaxy, but he knew where to find it. And when he saw one of my brothers, he called him by name. The Kaminoans gave us designations, but Kenobi knows our names. And then he showed us parts of the future.” Alpha-17 grins. “Kicked the Primes’ asses into gear.”

“You shared your vision with others?” Plo Koon asks, curious.

“I did but it was for a reason,” Obi-Wan answers. “I don’t intend to share with anyone else. It was…” Obi-Wan trails off, determining how best to explain. And then he remembers that they’ve all seen the footage from the Senate Chambers. “You heard what Sidious found in my head. It wasn’t pleasant. Everything I have done has been to avoid that future coming to pass. Why would I then show what I have tried so hard to keep from happening?”

“Was it that terrible?” Depa Billaba asks.

Obi-Wan sighs. The answer, of course, is yes. “You heard Sidious say he would make me watch as he ordered an air strike on the Temple. In my previous life, his apprentice led a march on the Temple. When I walk through the halls here, I sometimes see it. Bodies on the floor. The whimpers of the dying. The gardens burning.” Obi-Wan opens a channel to his grief so everyone in the room can feel it.

“I’m sorry,” Depa says, and she pushes comfort at him, sorry for both the question and for what he’s been through.

Obi-Wan smiles as he brings his shields back up. “Am I to be imprisoned?”

Surprise ripples throughout the room.

“Imprisoned?” Mace asks.

Obi-Wan gestures to the set-up. “This was a trial, was it not? Conducted by the Jedi Order rather than the Republic, because they have no hope of holding a Force-sensitive, especially one with training like I have.”

“This was an inquiry,” Mace says. “There is no trial. You defended the Republic against the gravest of threats.”

“Oh.” Obi-Wan wasn’t expecting that. “What happens now, then?”

“That is for you to decide,” Mace tells him.

#

Obi-Wan has packed his meager belongings, bought a new comm, and given the number to those who might want it. When Jango and Bo-Katan arrived with a full invasion force behind them, Satine invited them to the negotiating table to broker the terms of a peaceful transfer of power.

Satine is now on Kalevala, overseeing her peaceful utopia. As promised, once the vode assisted the Primes in securing they system, they spread out amongst planets of their choosing to live their own lives. Alpha-17 has coordinated from the Temple, remaining by Obi-Wan’s side as Obi-Wan figured out his next steps.

Alpha-17 hasn’t said “I told you so” yet, but it’s a long flight to Néarchi. There will be plenty of time.

Dooku is on Mandalore itself, serving as a Jedi Ambassador to the new government and assisting in creating the first Force-sensitive school on the planet in its history. If Obi-Wan needed proof that he had changed things, there it is. Yan Dooku and Jango Fett, working side by side.

Obi-Wan had late meal last night with Quinlan and Bant, and he saw Qui-Gon and Anakin this morning, which means there is only one final person to see before he goes.

Mace refuses to accept Obi-Wan’s lightsaber when Obi-Wan tries to hand it over.

“I’m leaving the Order,” Obi-Wan explains and then holds it out again.

Mace, the asshole, clasps his hands behind his back. “You are allowed to keep your lightsaber. You have both the training and the discipline.”

Obi-Wan huffs. He clips his lightsaber to his belt. “This is why I’m leaving, you know.”

Mace raises his eyebrows in a clear request for more information.

“I have memories of being a councilor,” Obi-Wan says. “I know you drink brandy at formal functions to seem sophisticated, but your true tastes run toward fruity and brightly colored.” Obi-Wan’s lips quirk up on Mace’s surprise. “I know you, but you don’t know me. Everyone here is alive, but I’m haunted by the dead anyway. I held Qui-Gon in my arms as he died and yet, he’s teaching seminars on the Living Force. I fought a war with Adi Gallia, but she sees me a green knight. I was many things; a Jedi master, a councilor, a general, a brother and a hermit. But what I am…” Obi-Wan shakes his head. “For so long, the Temple was my life. Being a Jedi was how I defined myself. But now, I think I must find myself outside of it.”

“I understand,” Mace says. “I cannot imagine the path you have walked. You are always welcome here. We will not turn you away, but you may choose to never visit. I hope the Force will be kinder to you now.”

“It was kind,” Obi-Wan says. “It allowed me to save everyone. Kindness doesn’t mean painless. You—there are things I am seeing that I cannot explain to anyone, because they don’t understand the significance. But there is hope in the galaxy, again. There are trials in our future, but we are better prepared to meet them this time.”

Mace nods. “May the Force be with you, Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

“And with you as well, Mace.”

Obi-Wan readjusts his pack and then heads to the Temple hangar. Alpha-17 is at their ship, waiting for him.

“Took you long enough,” Alpha-17 says.

Obi-Wan rolls his eyes. “It was fifteen minutes, at most.”

“That isn’t what I was talking about.” Alpha-17 smirks and ushers Obi-Wan to board first. “I told you, you would make your home with us.”

“If all your brothers have attitude like yours, I might change my mind,” Obi-Wan says. He tosses his bag into one of the cabins and then proceeds to the cockpit.

“We’re all assholes in different ways,” Alpha-17 says. He takes the pilot’s chair. “Prime-1 had quite the range.”

Obi-Wan snorts as he helps plot their course to Néarchi. “And Prime-2?”

“She’s fucking violent. The sisters are all cutthroat. It makes training fun. You’ll see. Alpha-51 has already started a tournament bracket and a betting pool.”

“This is your idea of a good time?” Obi-Wan asks.

Alpha-17 grins as he gets the clearance for takeoff. “You’re going to fit right in with us.”