One particularly talkative stallowner expounded on the dangers of the Jundland Wastes, and finally declared, “You punished yourself going there. You must have committed hopelessly atrocious sins for a punishment such as that.”
“I have, you happened to be right,” Obi-Wan replied truthfully. “You will stop chattering now, and sell me what I want, and at your lowest price for it.” The stallowner promptly confirmed this as also truthful, and Obi-Wan avoided that particular town completely after that.
By night he and Yoda drew themselves close to the space heater, under first their crude shelter, than within what of the house was built, and Yoda taught him things about the Force he had never thought to learn. Having deduced Anakin’s fears for his wife’s life, and the part they had played in his turning, he thought it a bitter irony, that had he stayed on the path to becoming a Jedi Master, and had he ever been disciplined enough, he could have kept a hold of her even after death. She might not have had the abilities of the Jedi, but the Force had been strong enough with her, and she able enough to dedicated herself selflessly to things greater than her, that it just might have worked. But he found himself forced to believe that even if Anakin had known this, he would have scorned it, for what he would be convinced was the easier and surer way.
Even after they’d set the roof over their heads and the house was complete, and the Sand People repelled enough times that they started avoiding the area, Yoda stayed on, repeating things, guiding Obi-Wan through meditation after meditation, his voice becoming more familiar to Obi-Wan than his own, as Obi-Wan was finding less and less reason to speak. Then finally one night, as he left the surrounding desert for the encasement of his mind, and built barriers around himself, and broke them open to let in not the desert, but the surrounding Force, he felt a whisper of another familiar voice.
Retaining control in the face of that voice, loved and missed for nearly fifteen years, proved impossible. Joy overwhelmed Obi-Wan, blotted out his senses, and the voice itself was lost.
He returned to the desert, to the dwelling, and to a pleased, if mildly disappointed Yoda. “Learn to control you reaction, you must. But doubt that you will, I do not. Needed here, I am no longer.”
He flew away before dawn, in the tiny transport Senator Organa had given them as a parting gift, along with a generous amount of hard cash. Somehow as he watched the ship disappear, Obi-Wan knew he would not see Yoda again while he lived.
The life of a Jedi was by nature a lonely one, but between first Qui-Gon then Anakin constantly being with him ever since he left the crowded spaces of the Initiates, Obi-Wan was not used to being completely alone in the way he then was. And he certainly was not used to being unoccupied. Keeping an eye on the baby Luke could only be done to a limited extent, at least until he was older; it swiftly became clear that on hearing of Anakin’s fate, Owen Lars intended to raise his son to never be more than a simple farmer, and distrusted any interference from a Jedi. A small mechanical system drew water from the air, and Obi-Wan was able to raise food for himself, thus providing minimal work, but negating any need to venture far from his new home for any other reason.
A Jedi should have patience. Lack of occupation was not to induce restlessness, only peace and serenity. Yet Obi-Wan was restless very often. The worst times were during the late afternoons. After his daily meal was eaten, and there was rarely any work left to be done. Somehow he could never start his meditation immediately, but found himself pacing his home, wandering outside, standing staring at the Wastes until he grew cold, and coming back in, drawing the lights down and struggling to calm his raging mind.
By evening it had usually passed. Then he would meditate as Yoda had instructed, drawing close to the living Force, waiting as patiently as was humanly possible, until Qui-Gon’s voice spoke to him again. He drew his support from the memory of having heard it once, the sound of it guiding him as a beacon.
When he had been thus alone for a month, he began to fear he would never again hear it. Perhaps Yoda had failed to teach him something. Or perhaps it was simply that he didn’t have the strength of will required. Perhaps the loss of Anakin was a blow from which he could not recover.
Finally one night he stopped early, due to a pain in his foot. He examined it over the heater, which soothed the pain, and found a simple strain, easily taken care of. His mind felt dull and heavy after, and at first he did no thinking at all.
As he sat there, slowly he became aware of the sound of the wind outside, much too strong. Pulling himself up, he strode over to the door and inched it open.
He quickly slammed it shut again against the blowing sand. He had dealt with these sandstorms, and was fairly sure the house could withstand them. Although he sat near the door, in case it was blown off.
The wind grew louder. Obi-Wan’s head was filled with images of sand beating against the outside walls, against the sides of the canyon, and further still. It was likely, however, that this was only a mild storm; he knew the larger ones, which could go on for miles, would come later in the season. Those would mean more work to be done in repairing and reinforcing the walls. The roar of the wind would be able to tell him eventually when the heart of the storm was passing over, though he would need more experience to learn how to hear it.
The Force changed little. Blowing sand could not disturb it.
Except there was something there, something which might or might not have to do with the storm, which teased the edge of his mind. Curious, he focused his attention on it-and again heard that long awaited voice.
Excitement built up within him but this time he restrained it, remained focused, forced himself to reflect indistinguishable sounds across his brain like a calm pool of water. He again beat down the disturbance of his mind when he heard his own name. Obi-Wan, you can hear me.
Yes, Master. Overwhelming joy and fear battered at him, even fiercer than the sand battered the walls outside, threatened to tear him away. He clung to Qui-Gon like a young Kashyyk slider clung to its mother after birth.
I have much to communicate. Words had a calming effect, strengthened the presence in Obi-Wan’s mind. It was almost as if there was a fuzzy sound clearing up. Perhaps not much of it tonight. This will get easier in time. When I have done this long enough, I may be able to manage it with ease.
I am glad of that. But you are fading from my mind. Even as he observed this, Qui-Gon was blinking out like a snuffed candle.
And then he heard, literally, the voice say, “I am still here,” and he nearly leapt up in surprise, his concentration hopelessly broken, yet the transparent, frizzled image of Qui-Gon that sat opposite him remained.
“I have done it,” a look of rare surprise. “I did not think I would manage it so soon.”
Then a warm smile, the one which Obi-Wan had once prized over all other rewards.