Rising Light

Chapter 5 / The Visitor

The dream has no defined beginning—she's just suddenly immersed without remembering what happened beforehand.

It's both exact and vague at the same time. Surrounding her are comforting neutral tones of gray: sleek silver panels that rise from a smooth polished floor—these span out ahead, making up an indistinct, softly lit hallway. It beckons wordlessly to the dreamer, enticing her to discover whatever lies ahead.

Given no other inclination, Sabé moves forward slowly without feeling her body. There's a floating sensation accompanied by an elusive feeling of familiarity.

What is this place? I know I remember it from somewhere…

A soft rustling whisper catches her attention and Sabé looks down at herself to see that she's wrapped in feathery black from head to toe. With wonder, she instantly recognizes the dress she hasn't thought of in years… a clever disguise, a most weighty role. This is the garment she wore when fate carried her life down a very decisive turn.

Ahead, there's an almost too-bright expanse that draws her focus. Recollection nudges at her. The doorway out, isn't it? Yes, it is. But to where?

She drifts closer still and can begin to make out dunes of endless beige—and suddenly Sabé realizes what was so obvious this entire time. Tatooine. The royal starship.

So this is a memory.

Even as she realizes this, she sees that someone stands at that way out. His hands are clasped behind himself thoughtfully. Was he there before?

His Jedi robe, russet like freshly tilled earth, billows around him lightly. At the back of his closely-cropped hair there's a short ponytail. At his right-hand ear, the Padawan's braid winds down. He must hear her approaching, because he turns as if in slow motion, a mildly curious look on his young, clean shaven face. He smiles softly when their eyes meet in a familiar way. There's mischief and fondness alike on his boyish features. His eyes are blazing and otherwordly. Obi-Wan. Sabé smiles in her spirit, a gentle feeling washing over her. She can feel the warmth emanating from where he stands. She wants to go to him, of course she does. But… something stops her.

A new presence. A feeling. A prickle on the back of her neck that doesn't fit with the dream. Nothing unpleasant, just… different. Turning, she sees a very tall man who was not there a moment ago watching her with a mild and pleasant expression. He's in Jedi robes, and leaned shoulder-first into one of the walls. While it has been years, she knows him immediately and without doubt. Thunderstruck, Sabé watches as Qui-Gon Jinn rises to his full height and smiles kindly at her.

"Hello there," he greets, then makes a small bow. The accented voice is every bit as silken and likable as Sabé remembers. No immediate reply comes to her—she's too stunned at how clear his image is and how tangible he seems. Why am I dreaming about Qui-Gon Jinn…? His smile increases, causing his eyes to crinkle slightly. "I don't believe we ever met properly," he offers conversationally.

Sabé feels a disbelieving, confused smile grow on her face. "Well, I… I do know who you are…" she replies, feeling her own voice rather than hearing it out loud.

He smiles anew, a small and mysterious little gesture. "And I know who you are," he replies evenly. Even though the words are plain, he is enigmatic somehow. Sabé keeps studying him. Every detail is crisp and vivid: careworn features and twinkling eyes, the smile that plays beneath the neat beard; the graying hair that fans across his shoulders half tied back; even the fabric of his Jedi robes looks exact and touchable, real. Sabé contemplates him with open and curious scrutiny, a strange instinct nudging at her.

"This is a dream," she begins slowly and cautiously, "but are you…?"

He chuckles so softly and briefly she might have imagined it. "Real?" he supplies, seeming to be amused at the thought. He takes a moment to contemplate, all while that same maddening smile plays on his mouth. "I believe that I am as real as someone who has died can be." He doesn't concern himself with furthering that part of the discussion. Instead, he folds his arms into his own sleeves and approaches her more closely. "Tell me, Sabé. How is my old apprentice doing?" He looks to the image of Obi-Wan, who still stands at the doorway out. The younger Jedi is oblivious to the interaction taking place, instead looking out into the desert contentedly.

Confused, Sabé wonders if she's missed something. For a moment, she debates herself on if Qui-Gon is real or just a very vivid dream. "Can you not ask him yourself?" she finally asks.

The wizened master gives the slightest shake of the head and his eyes remain on Obi-Wan. He's matter of fact in his gentle way: "He is very unreceptive to my attempts to reach out."

Sabé recognizes the flicker she hears in his tone. It's worry. She lets her gaze go to Obi-Wan briefly before her eyes question Qui-Gon once more. "From what he's told me… he feels the same of you."

There's a fond if bittersweet smile then a soft hmm. "He always had a certain way of seeing things, that Obi-Wan," Master Jinn muses, almost to himself. Then his expression sobers, turning faintly concerned. Faded blue eyes find Sabé's, and the four words strike a somber chord: "His grief consumes him."

She knows this, and she knows this well—but hearing it from Obi-Wan's dear old Master makes it somehow more real. Sabé looks at the memory of Obi-Wan—young and before the unthinkable happened. Her heart gives a pang as despite the pleasant lull of the dream, she remembers the harsh truth of the bitter waking world beyond. The idea of facing that world after waking leaves her averse. "We've both been thrown into a storm we could never have imagined facing," she murmurs after a moment. Her tone is colored by the profound loss she's endured. By the heaviness she still hasn't quite found a way to carry. Even thinking of it briefly in a dream leaves her feeling fractionally more blank. "Everything from before is gone…"

Qui-Gon gives another soft hmm and causes her to feel a flicker of hope and of desperation to know what he means when he sagely proclaims: "Not everything." Interest caught, Sabé listens with anticipation. "The Jedi were very wise in many respects," he reflects offhandedly, "But not even they were exempt from flawed thinking." There's a knowing quality to him that causes more and more curiosity. "Feelings are inescapable," he continues thoughtfully, "And love is nothing to run from. One of the Order's greatest flaws was denying that reality." He is tranquil in a way that Sabé covets. His eyes suddenly alight on hers. "But there is a new way coming."

His words strike a feeling of awe and fear alike into her. Her heart is beating faster. He seems to be alluding to something specific, something he thinks she should know. Mentally attempting to follow, Sabé gives her best guess. "…Luke?"

Pleased, the Jedi master bestows a secretive smile upon her. A silent yes. "And others," he says, briefly indicating her. A small avalanche of worries, fears, and uncertainty cascades over Sabé, leaving quiet hanging in the air for a few beats. He's referring to her yet to be born child. The child Sabé didn't prepare for or seek to have. The child Sabé can't totally wrap her mind around. The idea of this baby someday being someone who will be part of 'the new way' is overwhelming to say the least of it. "You're apprehensive," Qui-Gon comments gently.

Somewhat defensive, Sabé shies away from discussing what's so foreign to her still and stays neutral. "That's putting it mildly." They fall into mutual silence. Eyes on Obi-Wan again, Sabé remembers Qui-Gon's words: his pain consumes him. And how indeed it has. Their time on Tatooine since the Empire rose to power has been the most hellish thing Sabé could ever fathom. She knows Obi-Wan's pain is similar to hers, but different. More personal, more layered. And as always, it deeply worries and unsettles her to see him unwell in any way. It leaves her feeling powerless to help. "Will he be all right?" she asks momentarily. She's apprehensive to hear the answer. And in desperate need of reassurance.

Qui-Gon is serene. "As the suns set, still they will always rise."

A rueful smile causes Sabé to shake her head and eye Obi-Wan once more. Trust a Jedi to speak in riddles… and yet it does give her a small glimmer of hope. Still… she has more questions, one of them more pressing than others. "Why have you come to me like this?" she asks, but as she looks at him again, the place where he stood a moment before is now empty. "Qui-Gon?" She peers around, but he has disappeared completely.

Left just as disconcerted as she was at his appearance, Sabé notices that the dream abruptly feels hazy again, soft around the edges. How strange, she thinks, and after a moment of silence, she gives a quiet huff of irritation, then ponders Obi-Wan once more. Her irked feeling lifts away like humidity under strong sunlight. The soft expression on the Padawan's boyish face is captivating, taking Sabé back to the time when this man was a mere stranger… a question mark. Feeling her eyes on his profile, the young Jedi turns and contemplates her, smiling ever so softly. That cerulean gaze is lit by the spark of youth and tempered by familiar wry wit. It's automatic, the recollection of how falling in love with him felt: a flutter of interest, a shy and growing feeling of affection and gentleness, that ever-constant pull. To look at him now is to remember the years spent skirting around the inevitable… the years attempting to ignore their ever-deepening connection.

And to think that now after all that, they've come back to the place it all started to live out their days.

Overcome with a certain type of fondness that only Obi-Wan can inspire in her, Sabé moves toward him and he holds his hand out to her. She reaches out to take it, but he's suddenly so bright. Blindingly. In fact, so much so that she cringes and puts a hand up, but when she does that there's a panic-inducing backward fall into oblivion. Sabé hears herself gasping and breathing hard in panic at the sudden movement. Blinking and disoriented, Sabé comes to her waking senses to find her hand blocking out harsh morning light beams coming in from the huge gaping spot nearby where a wall should be. Her other hand is beside her and clenching into blankets, an attempt to catch herself in a fall that she only dreamed.

Peering around through a woozy squint, she's quickly reminded of where she is. No longer in the traveler's lodge in Mos Eisley, but instead on the very uncomfortable hard-packed pallet she and Obi-Wan made last night in the first night here: their very new, very imperfect, very unfinished home. Even as she registers any number of stiff joints and the usual morning nausea, she also realizes that Obi-Wan isn't next to her. Worry spikes, then grows intense as she realizes: I slept all night… Luke didn't wake! Head whipping the other direction as she bolts upward, she sees that Luke isn't in the little cot he was in when she last saw him. Convinced of the worst, she's already jumping up and groggily spinning in a quick circle to check for any signs of the missing two.

Nothing. No one.

Snatching up her blaster, Sabé rushes in full out alarm, barefoot, toward a muffled sound on the northern wing of the house without a single coherent thought, only a thousand vague terrors making her hands shake and breath come in short little stabs. But thankfully it's all imagined: she finds Obi-Wan and Luke in the master bathroom, alive, well, and going about routine business. Her blaster sags to her side as she presses a hand over her hammering heart. She vaguely feels the kyber crystal there, serenely resting between skin and fabric. Luke is awake and babbling sweetly, carried deftly in the crook of Obi-Wan's arm as the Jedi Master uses his free hand to carefully trim up with scissors. His beard, which had been bushy as a Bantha the day previous, has been tamed down into close semblance of the neat, closely cut style from before. He looks shockingly different for it too—and better, most certainly. He acknowledges her with a brief glance and smile. "Good morning," he says pleasantly, briefly glancing at her weapon and understanding immediately. There's an unspoken apology in his eyes. "We haven't gone anywhere, no need to worry."

Sabé exhales to steady her nerves and after a few embarrassed seconds, she very carefully sets her blaster onto the nearby stack of containers. She gives herself a moment to take in the scene and recover from her alarm. Thankfully, Obi-Wan doesn't say anything more about the gaff, which helps. His decision to clean himself up interests her—since he's had constant access to all the tools he's using right now, but let himself look like someone from the wilderness regions. Is this a sign that he's feeling more like himself again? In either case, it heartens her. And anyway, there are more pressing things on her mind: "Did you get up with Luke last night?" The one-month-old baby usually wakes every few hours fussing and needing tending to.

Obi-Wan casts a brief smile down at the youngling. "Yes, but only a handful of times. He's sleeping for longer and longer periods lately, it seems."

Relieved but still flustered, Sabé drifts a bit closer as she pieces it together. "I really must have been sleeping hard…" she mutters, taken aback at herself. She's never been a deep sleeper, and certainly hasn't slept more than a few hours at a time since taking charge of Luke…

"You were," Obi-Wan confirms as the scissors make snappy little sounds against a final few spots along his jawline. "And… I didn't want to wake you," he says, giving her his full regard for a moment. There's a soft, weary smile paired with gentle eyes. "You looked so peaceful. And I know you haven't rested well since…" he hesitates, then delicately decides on, "everything."

Comforted and thankful for his thoughtfulness, Sabé smiles back briefly in kind. She hopes she can do the same for him soon, too. "Thank you," she murmurs, a swell of love for this man doubling her heart in size. As her pulse continues to slow down after her fit of alarm, she takes in a deep breath and leans into the door frame, settling there to watch Obi-Wan make his finishing touches. He holds Luke so comfortably and easily, and something about the sight of him holding the child as he trims his beard strikes Sabé as the most attractive he's ever been to her. It is a perfect example of his steadfast selflessness, his dogged, gentle loyalty. He's surprisingly deft and intuitive with Luke, which only endears her more to him and makes her think of him as a father. Loving him has never reached a threshold or a bottom, and perhaps it never will… there is always a new depth, a higher peak. It leaves Sabé humbled, and unbidden, last night runs through her mind again: waking up under moonlight and making love for the first time since escaping Naboo, being close to each other in a way she needed more than she's known. It leaves her feeling a sense of wholeness and belonging where there was for a torturous time very little of either. She feels like she can breathe again. Hope again. Smile again. And that's when she realizes she is smiling, and big too, even as Obi-Wan peers at her with a curious little expression on his face, a tiny smile. He wants to know what she's thinking. She shakes her head as her smile grows, because the words escape her. "So what inspired—" she gestures to him broadly, "all this?"

Obi-Wan considers his reflection in the very small, cracked mirror he has set onto the countertop, and his expression softens. Sobers. His reply is thought-out and faintly colored morose gray. "It's… time to be myself again." He pauses. "Whoever that is." The words strike Sabé as deeply sad. Qui-Gon's words come across Sabé's mind: his pain consumes him. At some point today, she supposes she should share her dream with him, but not yet. No, not yet. Obi-Wan lets out a satisfied breath, nods at himself, then delicately sets the scissors down and turns to Sabé fully. His expression asks silently for feedback on his work.

"Well, you certainly look more civilized," Sabé says approvingly, choosing to refrain from dwelling on her dream. Luke sputters with gusto as if he disagrees with her assessment.

Good humor makes a russet eyebrow briefly twitch and Obi-Wan chuckles down at the baby. "Appearances can be deceiving," he jokes, even as Sabé reaches up to push strands of his increasingly longer hair out of his eyes. It's both an affectionate and helpful gesture, and Obi-Wan briefly peers up at her fingers. "I'm thinking of letting it grow long again," he says. It's an unspoken question: what does she think about that?

Sabé studies him: his hair is about an inch longer than a month ago and remarkably shaggy. She remembers when he had it long enough to pull back before the Clone Wars. "It suits you longer," she says, secretly hoping he'll grow it long enough to pull back again. She never got to see it that long and down. She thinks that then feels oddly about such a fanciful thought. Luke coos, and distracted from her internal judgments on herself, Sabé grins at him and takes him from Obi-Wan, kissing the baby's face hello and getting two enthusiastic tiny hands whacking either of her cheeks with very poor coordination.

Obi-Wan eyes himself in the mirror again uncertainly, still mulling over his hairstyle. "It's not too… rogueish?"

Sabé chuckles, shifting Luke to rest face-to-shoulder where his excitedly pumping hands can't reach her face. "That's exactly why it suits you." She glances around at the rough walls of the very humble house that is now theirs. "And this place."

She has a good point, and Obi-Wan chuckles too, approaching Luke and Sabé then putting an affectionate hand on Luke's head, which is moving around as he gawks with developing neck strength. "Ben and Isa, the reclusive, rogueish hermits living at the Jundland Wastes' edge…" Obi-Wan muses, then nods, making eye contact with Sabé. A smile lurks behind the veil of his beard. "But what will you do with your hair?" he teases, and Sabé barely registers the question: instead, given over to a sudden urge and burst of affection, she grabs the front of his tunic with her free hand, cranes her neck up, and kisses him firm and earnest, feeling his surprise then his reciprocation in the brief touch. When she pulls back, Obi-Wan is pleased but puzzled, his voice a little huskier for it. "What was that for?"

Sabé deeply searches his eyes, not sure how to say everything that's inside succinctly. She settles on: "Because I don't want to take you for granted. Us for granted." She's quiet and sincere, haunted by the ghost of all the pain they've gone through since escaping here to Tatooine. "I… can't explain it, but I felt like I lost you somehow ever since coming here," she admits, then adds on the very important: "Until yesterday."

Understanding fills Obi-Wan's eyes and he nods quietly. "I know," he says, his tone carrying the weight of his heart. He gently reaches up to tuck a stray strand of hair behind her ear. A tender, lingering touch. Their eyes hold for a long moment, speaking sentiment without words. There is a shared feeling of wanting to stay in this moment… to just be near each other emotionally and physically. "No more taking each other for granted," Obi-Wan finally says, then kisses her softly, a promise in his words and his touch: Things will be better.

And for the first time in such a long, painful time, Sabé can truly begin to believe that someday, somehow, eventually… things truly will be.


Night has fallen, leaving Tatooine transformed from a world of beige to cool blue darkness softly touched by rising silver moonlight. A few feet outside of the still-gaping hole in the side of the Kenobi-Nebira homestead, Sabé's slender build stands quiet and small against the rugged, dark outlines of the Jundland Wastes. The air is cold and dry, breezeless.

Obi-Wan approaches her alone. "There you are," he says, coming to stand behind her with gentle hands on either arm. She turns her head slightly to acknowledge him. "Aren't you cold?" he asks softly. She doesn't wear a jacket or cloak over her day clothes.

Sabé shakes her head no and breathes in deeply, briefly grasping either of his hands with hers. "It feels good," she says, and that's when Obi-Wan realizes where she's returning her gaze: upward to the many emerging stars. "I'm wondering which one is home," she murmurs, then catches herself. "Naboo, I mean." She hesitates, then settles back into him a bit more, allowing him to gently embrace her. Obi-Wan rests one of his warmer cheeks against her cooler one and for a brief moment, they listen to the enduring silence together and reflect. Sabé's energy is pensive and thoughtful, causing Obi-Wan to wonder what she is thinking of. His thoughts drift. It has been a long, tiring day, the kind of day that seems to have started only a few moments ago—but is already at its end. However, they were able to accomplish quite a bit: their trip into Anchorhead to visit the markets yielded the supplies and food they'll need for the next few days, then they followed that up with a few hours organizing and setting up the kitchen and all its appliances. After that they worked on getting two more vaporators repaired so that their watersource will be plentiful. All of this was done together while sharing the duty of wearing or carrying Luke, feeding, and changing him. The setting of the suns came all too quickly, and now here they are… left with a moment of well-earned peace. Just as he thinks that, a harsh, distant sound emanates across the desert plains and mountain passes, causing both of them to straighten and stiffen as they crane their ears to better hear and decipher the sound. "Was that…?" Sabé whispers lower than low.

On alert, Obi-Wan nods, knowing her question without hearing it. That strange sound is exactly like he's heard it described to him… and exactly the same sound the foes that he and Sabé encountered years ago made in their unexpected attack. "Sand People," he confirms tensely, even while he leans into the Force and evaluates the tide of sensation. He can feel malice, restlessness, and hunger… but its aim is not focused toward them, and the beings are further off than he might have guessed based off of sound alone. "Too far away right now to concern ourselves with," he assures Sabé, who already has a hand ready to draw her blaster. She glances at him darkly, seeming to question his statement. "Trust me, my love," Obi-Wan says earnestly, then puts an arm across her shoulders. It still bodes well to get out of the open. "Come inside, will you?"

She does, but not without a few backward glances. Inside, a warm fire snaps merrily in the fireplace hearth, and DC-10 watches over Luke, who is on his back in the makeshift bed swatting at the little mobile that Obi-Wan found in the markets today. Rough silver cutouts of stars and moons twirl out of reach above the baby's head, and he coos and sputters happily when DC-10 nudges the objects into movement again. A sound that relaxes both Sabé and Obi-Wan. On the wall beside the infant, the fire casts dancing shadows from the little mobile's movements—resulting in a magical effect. The home feels cozy and safe, despite the looming threats that are constant here.

"Master Luke is quite taken with his contraption, I have to say," DC-10 says with a certain satisfied tone.

Sabé glances toward the outside world, her thoughts plainly still lingering on the Sand People. "Will you go into guard mode, DC-10?" she asks, carefully kneeling then sitting beside Luke.

"Certainly," the droid says, then positions themself near the hole in the wall and goes stock still as security activates.

Seeming to be as reassured as possible by that, Sabé unholsters her weapon, lays it to the side, then reclines next to Luke, propping herself up on an elbow as she watches him play. She spins the little stars for him, her expression growing fond and watchful as she continues to relax. After a moment of observing, Obi-Wan joins her opposite of Luke, mirroring her stance and watching Sabé just as she watches Luke. She clearly loves the baby boy, he knows that much—he sees it every day in all manner of the way she protects and cares for him. While she's never referred to herself as his mother, she absolutely is. She's taken the role on fully without hesitation, only fierce love and full commitment. Obi-Wan understands: it's easy to love the boy, despite knowing the tragedy he came from, the dark heritage his father gave him, despite all the unknowns ahead. Loving this innocent, brand new person is automatic. Obi-Wan reaches up and without touching the objects, gently spins the silver shapes with the Force to Luke's delight. A shriek of joy sounds and uninhibited laughter follows, causing Sabé and Obi-Wan mutual tenderness.

"I've never heard him laugh quite like that before," Sabé breathes in equal surprise and affection. She and Obi-Wan's eyes meet briefly as they bond over the moment. Sabé then puts a hand on Luke's belly and tickles lightly. "Obi-Wan picked a good gift for you, didn't he?" she fawns, and Luke chortles.

Obi-Wan touches the baby's head, which is full of whisper-soft blonde hairs. "I hope next visit to market we can find a proper bed for you, little one," he says with a sigh, lingering on all the lack for a brief moment. It will be a long marathon to turn this barren house into the home he feels that Luke and Sabé deserve. He contemplates Sabé for a moment, his eyes going to her stomach. He corrects his previous thought: Luke, Sabé, and their currently nameless daughter. So far, Sabé doesn't look much different physically and Obi-Wan forgets sometimes, for only a moment or two, that she is pregnant. But when he remembers, he marvels in a very still, small way. His child. His daughter. Made from the union of his and Sabé's own flesh and blood. It feels sacred to him, holy. Bigger and more meaningful than anything else he has ever heard of or seen before. Fatherhood remains a mostly foreign thought to him, one he has to keep working to understand, process, and anticipate—he and Sabé have been so focused on survival that there has been little time spent speaking of their daughter. But to be here in this home and realize this is the place her life will begin, the place where her feet will first take steps… it emotionally bowls Obi-Wan over.

Sabé remains momentarily unaware of Obi-Wan's thoughts. She's studying Luke, searching the baby's gaze with contemplation. "He has his father's eyes," she comments softly, so softly that perhaps she was thinking out loud. Realizing she's mentioned Anakin, her abruptly worried eyes fly to meet Obi-Wan's.

While it is a mildly disconcerting and sobering topic, Obi-Wan has been having that same thought since ever looking into Luke's soft blue eyes. It is not a new observation. He contemplates Sabé's apprehensive face. His mind is not on Anakin Skywalker. His next question is very quiet and deliberate: "Whose eyes do you think ours will have?"

Sabé's eyes, a beautiful russet that has always made Obi-Wan think of fertile earth, are startled. In the dark orbs, the fire crackling nearby reflects warmly. A surprised, touched smile grows. "Yours I hope," she finally answers. Obi-Wan feels himself react with a smile of his own that says he has different thoughts. A curious questioning expression hovers on Sabé's face. "What?"

Obi-Wan holds her gaze. "Well, I was going to say I hope she has yours."

Sabé smiles in a way that seems both touched and hesitant. Hopeful. "So… you've been thinking about her."

Obi-Wan keys into something now, not only by observance, but through Sabé's Force signature. "Well of course, haven't you?"

There is a long pause before Sabé responds without answering his question. "What kinds of things do you think about?"

Studying his partner for a long moment, Obi-Wan decides not to press. Only to be honest. "Worries of course," he reflects, "endless worries. But also… hopes in between those dark places. Dreams, perhaps." He hears himself say dreams and frowns ever so slightly, feeling another instance of uncertainty: Inability to reconcile who he has become with how he was raised. "A Jedi isn't meant to dream."

Sabé is ever so mildly cynical. "Jedi were not meant to do many things they did in fact do." The cynicism fades into intent curiosity she's tries to downplay. "What things do you dream?"

Obi-Wan wets his lips briefly. His internal imaginings feel incredibly intimate and even forbidden. But who is left to forbid him from having the family he is very clearly about to have? "You," he starts off vaguely. "Me. Us." He looks to Luke, then to Sabé's belly before meeting her eyes again. "Them." He pauses, surrendering his mind to glimpses of a life he has not lived yet where two children laugh and smile, caught up in the wonder that being young so easily brings. "I imagine us all living happily, somehow," he says, feeling awkward discussing the subject but only because it feels taboo. He breathes in steadily, pushing away the training that makes his mind second-guess his feelings and emotions. "The children growing strong and tall…" He pictures himself with his daughter. He imagines she shares eye and hair color with Sabé, he imagines she is brave and kind and strong. He imagines her coming to him when she is afraid, or hurt, knowing her father will always be ready to receive her with love and care. He imagines both children running to him with laughter and trust. He will teach, defend, and live his life for their betterment, always. His heart feels bigger inside his chest, but even as the beauty of the scenario flits through his mind, the reality does too. He remembers Anakin's hate-filled screams on Mustafar, and the great sinking feeling comes over him as it always does. "I don't know how I'll train them, Sabé," he manages quietly, convinced anew that he will fail. That he will somehow destroy or sabotage the little lives entrusted to him. What if someday one or both of them falls to the Dark Side too?

Sabé reaches over to touch his arm, concern etched onto her beautiful features. It halts Obi-Wan's thoughts in their tracks. "That's not something to think about yet, is it?" she asks carefully. "Luke is a baby and… she isn't even born yet." She softly lets the backs of her fingers brush his cheek. His worry remains, and so she offers what she can. "You'll have what you need as the days come. I'm sure of it."

They are words that truly touch and uplift him. And she's right—it's in line with his teaching, too. Focus should be kept on the here and now. Although… there is one thing in the near future he would like to know about… one thing he is eager to know… still, he falters, trying to gather the courage to ask. "What will we name her, Sabé?"

Again, Sabé seems immediately startled, then in rapid succession sentimental, worried, then reluctant. "I—I don't know," she says, pulling her hand back to herself and dropping eye contact. "I… don't feel ready to choose a name," she admits, her voice catching on emotion. "I'm too afraid."

While he might be able to guess, Obi-Wan asks, and gently too. "Of what?"

There is stark fear in her wide eyes when she looks at him again and admits it all. "A-afraid I can't do this." She swallows, wets her lips, shakes her head. "Physically, emotionally… I'm afraid of how much I'll love her… how dangerous it is here. Of failing her. Of losing her. All of that, and she doesn't even have a name yet." It's Obi-Wan's turn to reach out and take hold of her arm. He understands. Oh, how he understands. Sabé smiles weakly, then her eyes cut to Luke, who seems to be sensing the adults' mood and is quiet, watchful. "All these fears for her, I fear for Luke too."

Obi-Wan squeezes lightly, holding onto her. "Afraid or not, I'm with you." He seeks her eyes and pauses for emphasis. "All of you."

Sabé attempts a brave expression. "I know," she returns with a voice full of gratitude and love. She believes in him. That alone is enough to grow hope larger. Obi-Wan squeezes again and lets go, resting his hand on the infant between them gently. Sabé's hand covers his. A silent symbol of their mutual commitment to each other and their unique little family unit. They are in this together.

Obi-Wan truly does understand his loved one's feelings of fear, and can't imagine a scenario where they both wouldn't be terrified witless about their quickly coming future. Among all the losses and galactic upheaval they've endured, parenthood is no small responsibility. Sabé deliberates silently for a long moment, her eyes prompting Obi-Wan to realize she has something important to tell him. He couldn't have predicted what she is about to say. "I've been trying to find a time to tell you this all day," she begins hesitantly, "but… last night I dreamed of Qui-Gon." Thunderstruck at the mention of his Master, Obi-Wan blinks twice. "But it wasn't a dream," Sabé says with utmost conviction. "It was really him."

Confounded, it takes Obi-Wan a moment to find words. His mind is automatically set to spinning at lightspeed with questions. But only one comes out, and clumsily too. "Qui-Gon? W-what did he say?"

Sabé shakes her head shallowly. "Well… he seems worried about you," she says carefully. "And eager to speak. He said you've been unreceptive to his attempts to reach out." Faintly appalled at that statement, Obi-Wan wonders if he heard correctly. "I told him you feel the same way about him," Sabé quickly adds, then falls silent to study Obi-Wan's reaction. In short, the Jedi Master is at a loss for words. Unreceptive to attempts to reach out? All Obi-Wan has done since coming here is beg for answers—for a sign—for anything. No. No, this cannot be true. Sabé is sensitive to Obi-Wan's hurt astonishment. "He didn't really say much else, except to offer some hope for the future," she says, studying him with empathy and sympathy. As if on cue, Luke whimpers and moans, the threat of an oncoming flood of tears. Sabé is already intervening. "Ohh, come here little one," she says, somehow simultaneously sitting up and scooping Luke into her arms to cradle and rock him. "Shall I sing you a song?" she asks softly, bouncing him rhythmically as he keeps moaning lowly—not quite a cry, but not a good mood either. "Shh, there there…" she soothes, even as she eyes Obi-Wan with curious worry.

Obi-Wan sits then fully stands, gathering his wits and taking a deep breath. He manages a small, courageous smile at Sabé for her benefit more than his. His mind is very distracted and he needs to find his center of balance. "I'm going to meditate for a bit, if you don't need me for the time being."

Sabé's concern is visible. "Should I not have told you?" she asks apprehensively. "Are you all right?"

By choice, Obi-Wan is steadfast and measured. "I'm fine, just…" he searches for the right word. "Surprised." He gives her a positive little expression. "Thank you for telling me."

Sabé nods, still bouncing the baby in her arms. While trepidation and worry linger in her eyes, she manages a smile. "We'll be here. Take all the time you need."

Obi-Wan nods, then bends and cranes to leave a soft kiss on her forehead before he leaves.

Under the quiet shroud of night, he sits cross-legged on the sand a few paces away from the homestead. Stars speckle the night sky overhead in a brilliant pattern of pinpricks, and the rising moon casts Tatooine a soft tint of blue. He doesn't dwell on the scenery surrounding him though. Obi-Wan's eyes are closed and his senses are dull to the physical world outside of himself as he goes deeper and deeper into his trance. Floating in the sphere of energies, he is synced with all living beings, he is part of the pure symphony that connects all as one. The heartbeat of the universe urges Obi-Wan to just Be. To let go, to surrender and to leave himself behind. But he isn't ready, or perhaps is not able to answer the call. Searching questions nag at him like flies, clouding his vision and competing for his attention, preventing him from sinking down into the serene depths of the Force. That is the place he needs to be, but has not been able to return to since Anakin. Since Mustafar.

Like an ocean underneath him, the Force ripples and rolls, undulating gently with a pulse he can hear, feel, and taste. Let go, sink deep, come home, the call comes over and over again. It's in his bones themselves. Still, Obi-Wan clings to the surface stubbornly, lost in regrets from yesterdays and fears for all the coming tomorrows. Let go, sink deep, be here now, the call reverbs. Come home. Obi-Wan's spirit craves the rest and peace he knows awaits at the deepest part of himself, and his grip on the past and the future weakens. A whisper, which sounds so much like Qui-Gon's voice, comes: here and now, Obi-Wan. Be here. Be now.

And weakened from his valiant fight to hold onto the things that do not serve him, Obi-Wan finally lets go of it all. His demands on himself, his anxieties, his attachments, his feelings, his thoughts. He gives up and unclenches his hands. Everything he carries gently lifts away like fireflies into the ether as Obi-Wan sinks deep to the very core of everything. The sensation is comforting and secure, like being cradled in a womb, like being wrapped in cool healing waters. As the deep closes over him and surrounds him, his soul unfurls and expands, made one with the great song of all creation. Here nothing exists and everything exists: all is infinite yet confined, beyond definition. This is the place he belongs, this is the place all came from and all shall go. And there, Obi-Wan exhales in a way that is not physical. At last, he is made whole again. He stays here in this place he had forgotten the feeling of and lets it remind him of who he is, lets wave after wave of renewal wash over him. Eternity passes, in a handful of what feels like seconds. Then without warning, he feels an urgent call to the surface and his eyes snap open: he is mildly breathless, jolted from being in such a deep meditation then suddenly being earthside again.

In front of him there are soft blue dunes kissed by highlights of silver from the high moonlight—a few hours have passed, he sees, all in the span of what felt like seconds. The air is cold enough that his nose is slightly numb. Obi-Wan shivers, frowning slightly as his keen senses alight on something new. If he didn't know better, he'd think he was sensing…

"There you are," comes a quiet, familiar voice from right beside him.

Obi-Wan gapes in astonishment as his heart flies to the top of his throat, his eyes not believing what he's seeing: sitting cross-legged beside him with hands on either knee, a man who is the most transparent glowing blue-white. "Qui-Gon…!" Obi-Wan chokes out.

Qui-Gon's familiar face, which has not aged a day since his death, bears a smile that makes his eyes twinkle. "It is good to see you, my young apprentice," he greets, mild as a spring day. His expression shifts into something slightly teasing. "Or should I say, my once-young apprentice." Eyes misting, Obi-Wan hears himself laugh in disbelief and overcome joy alike as his master continues conversationally as if nothing has happened. As if they are simply meeting again after some time spent apart. "And of all the places to find you now… Tatooine."

Face to face with the only father figure he's ever known, his teacher and guide and friend, Obi-Wan is at a loss for words. All he can come up with is a stunned: "I—I've been trying to reach out to you every day since Yoda told me I could."

Qui-Gon nods, his eyes perceptive and wise. "I know."

Obi-Wa's elation becomes tempered by his apprehension and confusion. "Do you also know everything that has transpired, Master?"

Softening at the mention of the tragedy that has conspired to plunge the universe into darkness, Qui-Gon inclines his head respectfully. "The Force has shown me all," he says heavily, then peers at Obi-Wan closely, missing nothing. "It takes great strength to endure what you have, Obi-Wan."

It is Obi-Wan's turn to incline his head and let his eyes fall away. "I certainly don't feel strong," he comments quietly, almost stung by the assessment. There are now tears in his eyes for different reasons, and he looks at Qui-Gon pleadingly. "Please, Master—why have you been so elusive?"

While Qui-Gon's expression is sensitive and caring, he gently challenges the question. "Have I been?" Again, Obi-Wan is surprised. Qui-Gon's lips turn upward and eyes speak kindness. "I've been here waiting for you all this time." His smile grows, touched by bittersweetness. "When you were younger, our lessons so often dwelt on staying in the present," he reflects, sharing a long-suffering look with his student. "For good reason too." Obi-Wan can't help but smile too even through glimmering eyes as memories only they can share come to mind. That was indeed one of the lessons they returned to time and time again. Qui-Gon regards him with deep, abiding affection. "All in all, I am deeply glad to see you again, old friend."

Nodding his emphatic agreement, Obi-Wan still can't believe it. "And I am deeply glad to see you." When Yoda told him this communing was possible, Obi-Wan had been eager for it immediately, starving for another Order member to speak to and be heard by. Perhaps this was another lesson in patience.

Qui-Gon studies him for a heartbeat or two, seeming to miss nothing. "As always, Obi-Wan. The Force is at work in you, more deeply than you know."

That statement is another refrain that Qui-Gon's tutelage so often featured, but it causes an internal falter in Obi-Wan. His faith is shaken. His core beliefs have been deeply compromised. It's left him with scattered pieces of an incomprehensible puzzle. Is Qui-Gon a missing piece? "You once told me to follow the will of my heart," Obi-Wan begins slowly. "My deepest and most pure inclinations. I have done this, willingly at times, unwillingly in others…" his voice loses strength. "And look what's happened." It's an unsaid question he needs answered: why did this happen to me? Did I cause this?

His old master contemplates him with an unnerving mellow affect. "So you think everything that happened is your doing?" he prompts, not giving the theory any true consideration, instead smiling sadly instead and letting one eyebrow raise slightly. "Some might say it takes great ego to assume they could singlehandedly do such a thing."

Obi-Wan is silent for a moment. He hadn't considered that… and yet he doesn't see many alternatives. "Am I not to blame?" he asks, valiantly holding emotion at bay. "With what happened with Anakin? I trained him, Master, I had a part in it—you cannot dent that. You said he was the Chosen One. Who would bring balance to the Force." He can feel the heat of Mustafar again, the sting of the acidic and ashy air. It's very hard to speak again. "He destroyed everything instead." The pain of losing his best friend and apprentice to the Dark Side strikes him anew, and the blames Obi-Wan has indeed put onto himself are leaden as stone. "I just want to understand," Obi-Wan whispers painfully. "Where is my part in all this?"

Qui-Gon is compassionate. "Exactly where it needs to be," he replies immediately, no shred of doubt present. His smile is sad. Understanding. "Other than that, I do not know. Trust the Force, Obi-Wan. Even when it is the most difficult thing to do. Even when nothing makes sense." Qui-Gon contemplates the desert scenery for the first time, his eyes scanning the distance. "The story is not finished yet." The late Jedi Master's mouth twitches with a smile born of wonder as his transparent eyes meet Obi-Wan's again. "And truly, is it ever?"

Obi-Wan shakes his head ruefully. Once again, he is overjoyed and struck by how easy it is to pick right back up where things were left. "I see that little has changed, Qui-Gon Jinn," he says, his voice full of all the affection he has for this man. "You still exasperate me beyond measure."

Qui-Gon chuckles readily. "And you are still far too easy to exasperate, Obi-Wan Kenobi."

Touché. They share a small grin, remembering old times. Obi-Wan's soul is lifted high in this moment. He has been reunited with his beloved master and friend—this is a miracle in the midst of horror. This is water in the desert. For a moment, Obi-Wan lets himself take in Qui-Gon's face. It's been so many years, and he forgot certain details, but now those details all stand perfect before him again with nothing changing at all. It makes him think back. It makes him wonder anew what he always has. "Did you know?" he prompts, wetting his lips nervously. There is a long silence and Qui-Gon waits for the rest of the question. "Did you know you were going to die?" Qui-Gon makes no reply, only lets his eyes question his old Padawan. "I've always had a feeling, looking back," Obi-Wan explains slowly. "Certain things you said just hours before it all happened…"

There is a long beat of contemplation. Then: "Yes. I knew." Even though Obi-Wan has spent years believing his private theory was correct, to hear it confirmed still astonishes and saddens him. Qui-Gon takes a long, serious moment to evaluate Obi-Wan. "Had I told you… what would you have done?" he asks, and at Obi-Wan's telling silent expression, Qui-Gon nods gently. "And that is why I did not tell you," he says heavily. "What the Force wills must come to fruition. Even when it is not what we want."

Sour, Obi-Wan clenches his jaw in response to the brief barrage of things that come across his mind. "I have a hard time agreeing with you," he says lowly, eyes searching the distance blindly. "After what I saw. What we went through. The massacre…"

"Not everything is for us to understand," Qui-Gon says regretfully. "As painful as that may be." Attention drawn to his master again, Obi-Wan finds himself looking into eyes that are blazing with steadfast strength and encouragement. "Have faith, Obi-Wan. A new way is coming. And there are more than one who are chosen. I have seen them in visions. They will do great things." Breath catching as he understands the implication, Obi-Wan listens with stillness. "Young Luke," Qui-Gon says, then smiles ever so faintly, his expression almost bordering on proud. "Your daughter."

No. Not them too. It's too much for Obi-Wan—his Master here again, speaking to him of all this. After Anakin, after the Jedi Order being wiped out… he turns his head away, coming up against a wall of negative emotions. "I cannot think of this right now," he manages, because the fears will come if he dwells on the path ahead. He already feels a protectiveness over Luke and his daughter that he wrestles to reconcile with his teachings.

Qui-Gon nods, his expression wise and temperate. "I think you are beginning to understand why the Jedi were so against attachment," he observes, but not without deep understanding and compassion. "It complicates everything."

Obi-Wan breathes out heavily, eyes on the desert once more. "It changes everything."

A soft hmm. "So it does."

There is a long and thoughtful pause. "Will you help me?" Obi-Wan finally asks hopefully. "To train the children?"

The Jedi Master sends a jesting glance his way. "What else do I have to occupy my time with?" Obi-Wan shakes his head, grinning with exasperation and amusement alike. That is a yes then. Another wave of relief comes over him. So he is not alone in the way he thought he was. As Sabé said, he will have what he needs as the days come. Smiling anew as he thinks of her, Obi-Wan's chest expands for all the feelings inside of it. Watching closely with interest, Qui-Gon's smile is knowing. "Tell me about her," he prompts. "In your own words. This is a story I have long wanted to know."

Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon visit for the rest of the night, and by the time that Obi-Wan returns inside to find Sabé asleep with Luke nestled in her arms safely, the suns are beginning to rise. He'll rouse Sabé gently to begin another day, but this time, things feel different. He has found his feet again, he has found himself. He has remembered that even as the suns set, still they always must rise…

And he vows to guide his family toward that rising light until his last day.

Author's Note: Hey everyone! Firstly, I'm sorry about how long it took me to get this chapter out. Basically, 2020 is just awful. I've been juggling stress, depression, grief, deaths, trying to get my life/work figured out due to the pandemic's financial impact on me/my fam, doing essential things for my community—it's a lot. Obviously I've been putting first things first, and fanfic had to wait. I write because I love the escape, I enjoy the artistic/creative release and the way I can just melt into another world. But the past couple months my priorities were different, and other things needed my attention. I have missed the Star Wars universe though. And am glad this chapter finally came to me.

I hope you enjoyed this update - please leave me your thoughts :) From now on I will be writing and posting without a schedule/without a predicted time frame on updates, definitely more slowly than quickly (I dread to think what other fuckery 2020 has in store for me to deal with) - but new installments of Obi-Wan and Sabé's Tatooine life will continue to come your way whenever I can get them to you! In the meantime: May The Force Be With You, be safe, look out for others, and be kind no matter what.