And occasionally Qui-Gon took him completely by surprise.
He still stepped outside after eating, as he found he enjoyed watching the suns set. It was also a good time to test the wind for sandstorms, as he now had the experience to detect their coming in his bones. That was a sign of aging, but age had its uses.
“What do you feel?” a voice asked behind him one evening, but he knew the voice too well to overreact.
“Nothing,” he replied. “There will be no storm tonight.”
Qui-Gon moved in front of him. “Take me to the boy.”
Obi-Wan shook his head. “His uncle will not let us see him. And I have told you it is more than a night’s walk from here.”
“If a journey it must be, then prepare. As for his uncle, he need not know.”
“Preparation will take time.”
Time indeed. The vaporator had to be checked, the entire system set to run completely on its own for nearly a week. Leaving it alone that long was risky in any case; on a real farm it would never have been thought of, but if Qui-Gon wanted him to, Obi-Wan would attempt it. The walls also had to be reinforced and everything stored. Finally enough food had to be packed for the journey, as well as a lantern, and an emergency force-shield generator, owned by every inhabitant on Tatooine, in case of a particularly vicious storm breaking through their walls.
It was a full day before Obi-Wan was ready. The suns were again setting when he stood outside alone and asked, “Qui-Gon?”
He felt a very gentle touch to his mind. Qui-Gon was saving his strength.
Not since many days before that memorable night at the beginning of the sandstorm season had Obi-Wan walked this way. Yet he could walk without thinking.
It would make more sense, he knew, to go around the Wastes instead of through them. He lived near the south end; he could travel along the edge of the Dune Sea and then along the Wastes’ southern border. But this would take him too near the planet’s other inhabitants, by whom he wished to be forgotten about. And of course, through the Wastes was a shorter journey.
You have not been looking after young Luke much, Qui-Gon observed.
His uncle does not make it easy, Obi-Wan reminded him.
His uncle cannot stop what must happen.
Must happen? Obi-Wan let his master feel his confusion.
I see many things, Obi-Wan. I will not tell you them all. I do not even see all of the future. But I have foreseen much of this boy’s destiny, as well as his sister’s.
Obi-Wan waited for him to say more, but he fell silent. In silence they walked, Obi-Wan now forced to concentrate to find his way in the darkness, even with the aid of the lantern.
As he traveled, he became aware of Qui-Gon’s somehow moving in his mind, attaching himself to Obi-Wan’s senses, literally seeing what Obi-Wan was seeing. Can you see without my aid? he wondered.
In a very certain way. I look at the walls of this canyon, which I can see far clearer than you can, and I know its presence, I see the presence of the Force in it, I see its past and future, I know what is beyond it. The amount of information can be disconcerting. When I merge myself with your senses, I see and know only what they do.
Obi-Wan walked even after dawn, but as the temperature rose he grew exhausted, and finally curled up in his cloak to sleep, the shield generator activated and laid next to him. Again he felt Qui-Gon move in his mind, leaving him with a soothing and lulling caress.
He woke in the late afternoon to another touch, and an urgent thought, You are too much heated. You have water. Drink!
Obi-Wan drank, and ate, and was amused to feel Qui-Gon again access his senses. Do you miss this yourself, Master?
I admit I am glad to be able to experience it again.
When Obi-Wan again started walking, he asked, When were you first able to do this?
When Anakin- but at the occurrence of Anakin’s name, he paused in the face of the flash of hot jealousy that invaded Obi-Wan’s mind. This troubles you?
You even need to ask that? Obi-Wan felt Qui-Gon’s disapproval, but at that moment he didn’t care. Why was it always him? Why were you willing to go to such efforts for him?
He is the Chosen One.
There was such a surge of pure anger that Qui-Gon fled Obi-Wan’s mind, appearing instead next to him. “So it was all a matter of duty!” Obi-Wan yelled out loud to him.
“Obi-Wan, you forget,” Qui-Gon replied severely, “to come back as I have, you must be selfless. You must have concern for only the galaxy. Selfish love, such as that which I held for you, did me no good.”
This tone of voice always silenced Obi-Wan, always swept his anger out of his heart. The shame that followed was harder to get rid of. He could not look at his master at that moment, but only walk away, trusting him to follow.
It was several hours later when he spoke again, to inform Qui-Gon of the upcoming sandstorm. “Now we’ll see how well the generator actually does.”
He felt his mind touched again, Qui-Gon moving back into his senses, to be able to feel the approach of the storm as he did. As he did, he brushed away shame with a gentle, I am glad for what you are now. A selfish pride.
Then, Yet you loved Anakin yourself.
As you would have. But you would have forgiven him better than I.
You still have not yet recovered. Obi-Wan, you must put this behind you by the time the boy has need of you. We have been too reckless, both of us. We have played with fire, and it has burnt you further than even I feared.
Obi-Wan didn’t really need Qui-Gon to tell him this. Not when he had lived with consequences of their actions for fifteen years, though for many of those years they had felt as if they were lifted away.
The storm started blowing in the very early hours of the morning. Obi-Wan crouched down in the corner of the canyon and activated the generator.
He felt the effect immediately. Though the real sand had not yet come up, there was a certain grittiness in the air, having built up over the last hours, which vanished. It’s definitely working.
Qui-Gon gave no response. As the winds grew stronger, blowing around the edges of the shield, Obi-Wan closed his eyes, letting everything fall from his mind except the sound of the storm, trusting to Qui-Gon to alert him if need be. Then, slowly, he drew away from the storm, leaving with it those parts of him taken by emotion, until he drifted into still waters.
He floated there until he lost track of time, then until the whisper, The storm is almost over.
His surroundings came back to him. Qui-Gon was right. The winds were quieting; Obi-Wan could see through the sand. The first sun had risen; the second would be up within the hour. Again he ate and drank a small amount from his supplies, then rose and continued walking. The sandstorm had taken up time, and though he would not have to sleep as much as the previous day, he would not walk the entirety of this day either. At the rate they were going they would likely reach the Lars homestead very early the following morning, provided there wasn’t another sandstorm.
Luke Skywalker was now approaching eight months of age. Obi-Wan, as an Initiate, had at times dealt with the babies newly arrived at the Temple, and by eight months, they were typically trying to take their first steps. A few of them even achieved speech, but this was uncommon.
What shall I look for, he asked, besides the normal stages of development?
You do now need me to tell you that, Obi-Wan.
He walked even more than he expected to before he again lay down. Again before he slept he felt the caress of Qui-Gon in his mind, but this time it was a gesture of parting, and he was gone before Obi-Wan could ask why.
There were no further storms. Obi-Wan believed the season must be ending. Was the air emptier? Another year and he would be able to tell.
When night came, he attempted to measure the change in temperature. He only felt the cold more. This will not do, he told himself.
At last he emerged from the Jundland Wastes, a number of hours before dawn. He stopped a good distance from the homestead and attempted to resume his meditation. The hope of Qui-Gon’s returning batted at him as a distraction. He drove it away with a firm, He will return when he returns.
Yet without him Obi-Wan could not sink so deep in meditation as he had during the sandstorm; he had to keep an awareness of when the first sun rose. Though when it did, he did not break the meditation, but continued waiting patiently, until from a great distance, he saw Beru Lars emerge.
He saw her walk over to a moisture vaporator and examine its moniters. She did not looks pleased. “Owen!” she called.
And then her husband emerged, with little Luke on his back.
Obi-Wan could see his face painfully clear by the time he uncle reached the vaporator. Even at less than eight months, his features reminded Obi-Wan very strongly of his father’s at eight years. Or was he merely projecting little Anakin’s face onto a baby enough distance from him that his own face was not clear enough to contradict it?
He could not hear what the two adults said to each other; they were speaking too softly, but it was clear there was something wrong with the vaporator. Luke looked very interested in the vaporator, even reaching out a hand to touch the antenna.
Owen Lars handed the boy over to his aunt, and she started carrying him back towards the homestead. Yet Obi-Wan could hear him when he started mumbling.
Suddenly she stopped walking. She shifted Luke until they were face to face, and Obi-Wan could sense her growing excitement.
Her husband noticed she had stopped. He came over, and Obi-Wan watched as she explained something to him. Whatever it was, he seemed more uneasy than excited.
However, they both were absorbed enough that neither noticed Obi-Wan drawing closer. He was beginning to suspect what was going on, and he had the feeling Qui-Gon had foreseen it, and deliberately sent him here this morning.
But then Luke quieted. Obi-Wan could sense his Aunt’s disappointment. He could even sense some disappointment from her husband, though more relief.
Luke was looking past them now, and his eyes suddenly met Obi-Wan’s. For several seconds the two of them were frozen, in mutual fascination. Then Luke lost interest, and looked away towards the horizon, his gaze more intent. Obi-Wan followed it, and moments later had to blink against the rising of the second sun, even as he heard a little voice say, “Sun! Sun!”
All three adults had their attention moved back to Luke. His eyes had scrunched themselves up against the sun, having just learned, it seemed, that he could not look at it. “Sun,” his Aunt repeated happily. “I think he’s looking to the sky already, Owen.”
Her husband was not pleased. “Babies don’t even say their first words for another two months! This isn’t good.” He turned his gaze towards the horizon, and of course saw Obi-Wan. “What are you doing here?” he demanded angrily.
“Calm down, sir,” Obi-Wan started.
“Here to cast one of your spells on him? What have you done to him?”
“I’ve done nothing. His advanced development is all his own. I’m sorry,” he added, even though he wasn’t, at least not about Luke being as he was.
“Don’t try to tell me any of your destiny poodoo,” the other man growled. “I won’t have *my* nephew following you on some damn foolhardy crusade like the one that destroyed his father!”
It must only make him angrier, Obi-Wan knew, that he could only see pity in the Jedi’s eyes.
“Take him inside, Beru.” His wife gave Obi-Wan an apologetic look before turning away.
Obi-Wan turned away likewise. There was nothing more to see or hear.