Bonds of Choice 4:
Allocating Resources

by Fur and Fantasy
NC-17 for M/M
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

A clawed scratching at the outer door to his quarters drew Qui-Gon out of his shower early, far too early to be anything good. On reflex he checked for his Padawan's presence. He found Obi-Wan's mind naturally asleep and apparently untroubled in his tiny quarters in the north wing.

"Nice," an appreciative growl with a matching mild desire flicker in the Force greeted him from the vicinity of the kitchenette when he stepped into the main room, still naked and wet. "Master Qui-Gon Jinn?"

"Yes, who are you?" Qui-Gon came up short on better ideas faced with a dark cinnamon, humanoid feline female with darker hair tied back in a ponytail, standing in his quarters like she had every right to be there and wearing nothing but a deep purple loincloth and loose sash, tapping away on a lightslate. "And why didn't you ask to come in?"

"I'm Lrakin Jackee Rilka, Head of Allocations." She gave him another appraising glance, lingering on his crotch, before turning to her lightslate. "And I did ask, twice in fact, then waited some more and I warned you I was coming about now. I take it you didn't read your mail before getting wet?"

Qui-Gon took a breath to center himself in the face of the first creature in the Temple since Yoda to treat him with such casual disregard. "No, I did not."

"Then it's your own fault I surprised you in the shower, not like you're hard on the eyes like that." Rilka dragged her attention back to her lightslate. "How long has the water tasted like this?"

"Since I was assigned these quarters," he replied. "Taste like what?"

"Sythroclorine and Comran impurities mostly." She cocked her head, "you can't taste them?"

"No. The water tastes no different here from anywhere else in the Temple."

She nodded and made a note. "When were you assigned these quarters?"

He searched his memory several moments before giving up on a true date. "Twelve years ago, isn't that in your records?"

"The records are a cuth mitaki brabin mess. Worthless." Her triangular ears flattened for a moment before flicking up to face him again with the next question. "Your Padawan is Obi-Wan Kenobi?"

"Yes," he took a casual step backwards, towards the bedroom, and his lightsaber.

"Good, they've got something in here correctly at least." Rilka's long-furred tail snapped against a cupboard before she stalked out of the kitchenette, aiming for the bedroom. "Just one?"

"Bedroom? No, there is a spare one," he waved in the direction of his store/ spare room, where Obi-Wan occasionally slept when they worked too late into the night. "What is the purpose of this?" Qui-Gon finally demanded as she slipped by him again and into the bathroom.

"I'm the new Head of Allocations." Rilka called back with the echo of the small tiled room distorting her voice. "My mission statement is to eliminate waste and confusion regarding and in my unit." She cocked her head at him over her shoulder. "I'm surprised the entire Temple doesn't know exactly what I've been ordered to do. The scuttlebutt's rife around here. But then, it's also said that you and your Padawan don't keep up on the gossip much, so I shouldn't be surprised you don't know."

*I must get Corubia to explain that bit and what she knows about this Jackee Rilka. That girl knows far too much of the Temple gossip. Force only knows how a Padawan gets that kind of info.* "And what does this," he gave a general motion encompassing his quarters and her presence there, "have to do with the Allocations Office?"

Rilka leaned against the doorframe to the bathroom and started at the Jedi Master for a long moment before answering. "Everything. Through my office comes the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the power to light and heat your rooms, the water for the gardens, your shower, your drinking. The money to pay the civilians that make everything happen that a Jedi is too important to do." She held up one clawed hand when he opened his mouth to protest. "Beneath you, is not what I said. Too important for you to do. It's a waste of your training, a quarter century on average from what I understand, to have a Jedi keep the books or deliver clothing to a room. That's what the noncoms and civilians are for, to make those better trained available for important missions." She flicked her eyes down to the lightslate. "Now, back to business. Are you in a relationship aside from your Padawan?"

Qui-Gon slammed down the shock before answering truthfully. "No, I am not."

"Cool, that makes things easier." Rilka smiled as she pushed herself off the doorframe and strode for the outer door with another appreciative glance lingering over Qui-Gon's muscular body. "Be prepared for a change in living arrangements if Obi-Wan isn't amounting to engaged. Jedi Tradition may be strange to me, but this facility was built with it in mind, so in the name of efficiency, it'll be followed. At least until I can fix the building."

He watched her disappear behind the outer door before returning to finish his morning routine with a bemused shake of his head for this newest resident. She knew how to make an impression, even if it wasn't the best kind. He tried not to think about her traipsing into Master Yoda's rooms like this.

It wasn't until Qui-Gon was nearly dressed that it sank in that she'd meant the tradition of a Padawan moving into their Master's quarters.

Obi-Wan settled into his seat on the window and watched his students wreak havoc on the lower levels of the poetry library. He was teaching a crash course in Drekan while Qui-Gon finished an assignment with the older trainees. His students were of a wide range of ages, from trainees to one Master with some free time. Obi-Wan loved teaching languages more than any other subject and had offered this service during his downtime. The Council had assigned them to duty Daego, but the Daegians were being even more difficult than usual about accepting help from the Jedi. Once the mission got underway, it would take next to no time for completion. It had been given them in deference to Obi-Wan's recent injury, a courtesy he could not truly understand.

Obi-Wan looked down to the lightslate on his lap. Orian, one of the younger trainees, had a surprisingly firm grasp on the subject. His translations were perfection itself, taking account of nuance and full meaning inherent in the vocabulary of the language. Obi-Wan was in the process of writing a report for the boy's records. He hoped the teaching Masters would direct his learning into the area of language and communication. Not that Obi-Wan was any expert, but he did know more languages than any other Padawan currently in training.

The crono chimed the end of the hour and Obi-Wan looked up to wave goodbye to his students for the day. He strolled out of the library and up a level to find Corubia just ending her Poses class with the nine-year-olds. She was scratching her blue Padawan buzz cut, rubbing sweat out in droplets as the last of them filed out. "Hey Kenobi! Wow. You'd think a Wookie would have better balance than that. Maybe he's just in a clumsy stage. So, what are we up to for the afternoon? I've got another 'special training class' later."

"Me too. Wanna go for lunch?" Obi-Wan asked.

"Yeah, lemme pop in the quick-fresher for a second. I'll be right back." She picked up her bag and headed for the gymnasium changing rooms. Obi-Wan just watched her. He loved the way her skin glistened in green and yellow patterns. He remembered the day when, as kids, she had first shown him that she had thin, flexible scales and that it made her sort of shimmery when she was damp. He had been equally amazed when later her finger and toe webbing had thinned and receded, becoming less noticeable as her body matured. 'Throwback adaptation' she had explained and perfectly normal to her kind. Her bright blue hair would be a thick, heavy shock when she was allowed to let it grow out, but for now it was trimmed short and tame, like Obi-Wan's.

She came out of the changing room in fresh robes and they set out towards the dining court.

They waited in line to reach the catering units. Corubia dialed in her accommodations number and made her order while Obi-Wan fished up his credits card. He slipped the ID into the slot and called up a meal he could afford with the meager credit left to him. Corubia gave the card a derisive snort as they collected their food and hunted a table. "Pure foolishness."

"Shut it, Cor. I don't feel like having this conversation again." Obi-Wan plopped down at a small table.

"Mark my words, Kenobi. Your days are numbered. I heard they got a new department head down in Allocations and she's redesigning the system like a being possessed. She just booted Oruban out of her digs and harassed Master Melik until he extended an invitation for Oruban to move into the Padawan quarters in his suite. Guess Melik lost his library!" Corubia laughed. She always had the latest news around the temple. It just seemed to make it's way to her.

"Someone actually harassed Melik into doing something? I thought he was as unflappable as a stone." Obi-Wan considered the new situation. "I guess I'll find out today for myself. I've got to get my card updated."

"Good luck. I'm laying deep and involved plans to avoid Jackee Rilka at all costs!" She giggled behind a hand. "Oh, and it gets better. Nijra was sent to escort them to their rooms and show them around when they first showed up ..."

"Them?" Obi-Wan cocked an eyebrow at her.

"Rilka's brought four assistants, all her species. Anyway, you know how much a prude Nijra is? Well, these guys don't wear anything but a belt and sash they use to clip stuff onto." She brushed a hand lightly over her breasts and crotch. "Completely nude as a matter of course."

Obi-Wan tried very hard not to collapse laughing at the mental image that brought up. "She must have freaked."

"Oh, more than that, three of them are male, one of them's named Rigger. Apparently she stared at his balls so long that Rilka had to ask someone at the hanger for directions here. So he spent the next four hours she was with them making passes at her. Greig said that Rigger said he was trying to be friendly since she had such an interest in him. He said he was obliged to help her out as he wasn't bonded and that he really didn't mind, even if she looked rather strange, being furless and all."

"So we have five folks walking around the Temple naked?"

"Well, not any more," Corubia shrugged. "There was a big hooya with the Council and some Masters and they consented to wearing loincloths, but nothing up top, so the two females are still barebreasted. It'll still cause havoc for a while." She grinned.

"No kidding. How'd they get away with it?"

"Religious freedom. I hear that Rilka says that anything more than what they are wearing now in peacetime is an offense to the tenants of their code and they aren't happy about what they've agreed to, but they'll live with it as long as necessary."

"Maybe they'll leave soon, then."

"Not likely. Rilka's here for thirty years before a transfer is even discussed. I heard she wanted a challenge on a settled world and we're it."


"Ah, Master Mace Windu. It's good to finally meet you in my primary capacity." Rilka smiled as she looked up from her lightslate, paper, pen and datachip strewn desk. "Have a seat."

"Yes, better than the last time." He inclined his head, hoping to avoid the rant he could all but feel rumbling under her calm exterior and sat as indicated. "How are you settling?"

A dark pink tongue flicked across her chocolate nose. "I haven't seen the inside of my quarters yet, but I'm made a lot of progress on the job. Three more interviews and I crash for the day, barring an emergency."

"So what did you need to see me about?" Mace steepled his fingers and opened up to the Force, trying to read her temperament. Mostly professional disgust echoed through to him, strongly laced with something close to anger.

"You are a permanent Council Member?"

"Yes." He refused to give any credence to the slowly growing knot in his stomach about how upset she had been at him earlier.

"And it is true that you do not intend to take on Padawan."

"That is correct."

"And the room you currently inhabit is not one designed for a Council Member, but one meant for a Master-Padawan pairing."

"That is correct, I had no reason to..."

Rilka raised her hand, claws unsheathed. "I know, that has changed. Step one in efficiency and organization is getting everyone to sleep where they are supposed to be. You are inhabiting quarters meant for something else." Rilka smiled slightly, a not all the reassuring look given her sharp teeth. "You are now assigned to room 1C-502."


"I expect quarters 3B-983 to be vacated by zero seven hundred tomorrow. That's when the coding will be changed. You are already coded into your new rooms."

He flicked across her mind more directly, checking if this was a vengeance. Somewhat to his disappointment, it showed that she firmly believed this was in the best interest of running the Temple and acquiesced. "I see. I will relocate tonight."

"Thank you, Master Windu," she regard him levelly. "There is no need for us to be opponents."

Obi-Wan entered the Allocations Office with his completed requisition in hand, sparing just enough attention to recognize Master Windu as the large body he had to avoid as it stalked out.

Since he didn't live with Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan got all of his provisions through this office. Clothes, food, accommodations, anything he needed to subsist while he was on Coruscant had to be cleared through the filing and updating of interminable information. Every so often he came down, cleared up all the needed work and got his card replenished.

He gave his lightslate to a minimally dressed young charcoal-gray feline male he didn't recognize behind the desk, and waited as the forms were filed. "Obi-Wan Kenobi?"

"Yes?" Now that he was somewhat obliged to look, he realized that this was one of Jackee Rilka's Kats that Corubia had mentioned. The beautifully designed black, burgundy and silver nametag attached to his cream sash read 'Rigger' in standard phonetic. *So this was the one that embarrassed the hell out of Nijra. He sure seems mild enough.*

"Lrakin Rilka wants to interview you before she authorizes this. She's ready to see you now." The slender feline motioned towards the back office.

Inwardly Obi-Wan groaned and cursed in every language he knew. Outwardly, he retrieved his lightslate and serenely advanced to the office door Rigger indicated.

Despite his instructions, Obi-Wan knocked politely as the door was shut, reading the centered inscription on the milky glass under his knuckles while he waited.

Lrakin Jackee Rilka

Commanding Officer

Resource Allocations

The Jedi Temple on Coruscant

On his right, blinds blocked any view through the large window, so there was no way to see inside.

"Cum'in," her slightly filtered voice growled.

*I'm dead. Whatever she's pissed about, I'm dead.* He palmed the door open and slipped in to face a dark furred and barechested female feline sitting at the large and heavily cluttered desk.

"Who?" Rilka's irritated expression cleared quickly. "Oh, hello Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi. Good, please sit down." She waved at a comfortable chair across from her and put her work to the side.

"Yes, Ma'am." He instinctively tried to make himself as non threatening as possible as he obeyed and tried to think of what he'd done that she could be upset with.

"You are currently involved in a serious relationship?" The question was delivered with perfect neutrality.

"What?" He couldn't help the near-squeak that came out in shock.

"Are you sleeping with anyone you intend to stay with long term? A relationship that would be hindered by your Master." She elaborated.

"Umm, no ma'am." He sternly controlled his fidgeting that was trying to rise at this path of questioning.

"Any environmental needs different from Master Jinn?" She cocked her head, nearly daring him to say yes.

"No, ma'am."

"Good," she locked eyes with him, "any problems?"

" ma'am. I just didn't expect ... that is, can I be of help in any other way?"

Rilka offered a friendly smile. "Just answer truthfully and save me the paperwork. Now, do you have a problem sharing standard accommodations with your master?"

"Well, we do on missions, but here at the Temple, things are usually different." Obi-Wan sincerely hoped this would not get into personal history.

"Well, we'll see how long that lasts." She dug through a pile of datacards, muttering "Kenobi, Kenobi. It should be right here."

"Ma'am, uh, Lrakin Rilka? I uh, sort of like it this way," he offered, sincerely hoping that he'd understood correctly that the word on her door was her rank, an that using the same way her subordinate did was not an insult.

"Duly noted, Kenobi. Aha!" She pulled a small card out, much like his allotment card, and tossed it to him. "There will be a general announcement on this, but you need yours now. The allocations system as it stands is just about dead, give me a few more months to catch the off-worlders and it will be. The number on the back is your ID. It works much like the old accommodations number or your credits card. You can use the card, or type in the number once you have it memorized to get what you need just like before. The only real difference is that the limit isn't enforced. Your usage will be tracked by the new software and if it starts to look strange you'll be called in to explain it. It also means that you are on your own allotments, not your masters. Questions?"

"No, Ma'am. I understand." Obi-Wan offered quickly, not really ready to digest everything that had happened, much less implied.

"Contact this office if any arise. Problems are not anticipated, but they are usually inevitable when modifying a system this size."

"Yes Ma'am. Thank you Ma'am." Obi-Wan beat a hasty retreat from her unsettling domain.

"Seven your desires are and seven wishes too, Da da da," Corubia was bopping down the hall singing an upbeat version of a meditation poem.

Obi-Wan grabbed her by the arm. "Come on, Cor. That's funny when we're playing, but not in here."

She glanced around and gave him a startled look, but stopped singing.

"Come on, or we're going to be late." Obi-Wan steered her through the door and into the exercise room. They had both been assigned to a special training class, the nature of which remained unknown to him.

One wall was lined with blasters of all varieties. In the middle of the room the other students were seated in a small circle around an arrangement of supplies. They took seats next to each other on the cushions just as a Master came into the room. He made a quick head count and sat down with them.

"My name is Master Arjet Paje. You may have heard of me." He turned his gaze to the floor.

Obi-Wan had indeed heard of Master Paje. Had seen him before, in fact. He was an infamous, often denied member of the Jedi Order. His location was rarely known and his missions went firmly undiscussed. The ones that did make it into public knowledge were those that were meant as object lessons to certain powerful individuals or organizations. Despite all that, or perhaps because of it, Qui-Gon had often spoken well of Master Paje.

"Okay, we're going to start with some meditations. Then we will begin learning mantras that will draw your mind to a particular way of thinking. Let's warm up. Begin with the Single Sand meditation." Arjet Paje was relaxed, smiling and utterly at ease. Obi-Wan was surprised but relieved. He closed his eyes and began.

When Obi-Wan finished his meditation he stood to stretch. He saw the others begin to rouse themselves in a similar fashion. Master Paje was arranging the equipment on the floor. "Please gather round as soon as you are ready."

Obi-Wan smiled, feeling the rush of joy and peace that always came from the Single Sand meditation. He took his time arranging himself on the cushion again and looked his supplies over. They consisted of a high powered lightchip, a glass marble and a pair of dark glasses.

"This is an exercise you have probably done before. Control, containment, will and the Force. Put your glasses on and activate your lights." Master Paje leaned against the back wall. "Good. Now gather up the light and concentrate it in the marble."

Obi-Wan took the marble in his hand and did as he was commanded. The radiant light from the chip constricted into a tight beam and fed into the marble which soon glowed as brightly as the chiplight.

"Good. Now allow it to dissipate and deactivate your chiplights." Master Paje flopped down on one of the unoccupied cushions. "So you are all familiar with the mechanics of this type of control. Now we will begin to hone your speed and skill. A laser beam is nothing more than light. Just concentrated controlled light. A blaster's shot is little more than that, but at a very high power and of rather short duration. With your Jedi reflexes and your skill with the Force, you can and will use this otherwise unwieldy and crude device with all the skill you wield your lightsaber."

"But why, Master Paje? If we have our lightsaber we will not need a blaster to defend ourselves or protect our charges." Obi-Wan turned toward the speaker. It was the unmitigated prude, Nijra. A more by-the-book, annoying goody-goody had never walked this or any planet. Leave it to her to ask the obvious.

Master Paje turned his gaze on Obi-Wan. "Padawan Kenobi. Answer her."

Obi-Wan bowed over his crossed legs and ordered his thoughts. "The blaster is not a proper Jedi weapon, that is true. The Lightsaber is the weapon of the honorable warrior of the Order. It is used in self-defense and the defense of others who are unable to protect themselves. It would logically follow that we are being taught to be proficient with a less than honorable weapon so that we may perform well in less than honorable duties." Obi-Wan looked at Master Paje, who gestured for him to continue. "Also, there are times when, for security or diplomatic reasons, a lightsaber might not be present. Suppose your 'saber was damaged at a time when you could not repair it. Do you just call 'time out' and run back to the Temple for parts? That's not usually possible, in the field."

"Well put, Padawan Kenobi. You should try your hand at poetry, if you have not already. Write that down and send it to me later." Master Paje stood and went to the racks of blasters.

"Yes, Master Paje."

"Now, put less prettily but more to the point, a Jedi with a blaster has only two concerns. Those concerns are combined so that among us there is one law. We aim to please, we shoot to kill. There is no other reason for you to take up this weapon. Coupling its power with your abilities should be nothing less than precise and lethal in all circumstances. You will learn to concentrate the fire into a cluster the size of your thumb. Later you may learn to warp it into a sheet of cutting energy. This skill can be expanded from the hand-held blasters like these. You will be able to use ship's weapons with the same accuracy and devastation. Now come and take your weapons and let us go to the practice range." Master Paje took up his lightslate and began making assignments.

Obi-Wan lay on his belly, blaster balanced in his hands, mind focused on the tiny target some fifty yards away. A grape. *Of all the things to be using a blaster on.* Obi-Wan lay perfectly still and waited for the command to fire.

"We aim to please, we shoot to kill."

Obi-Wan put his finger on the trigger, focused his awareness on the grape and squeezed the trigger. Using the Force like a funnel, he channeled the beam to touch nothing but the grape and vaporize it.

He shuddered to think what he could do to a sentient life form with this skill.

The targets were set up again, the exercise repeated over and over. At long last, Arjet Paje called a halt. He checked the weapons back in, inspecting them carefully before putting them away. "Okay, Padawans, your attention please."

Obi-Wan turned to face him.

"You have all mastered this technique. Well, I expected no less than that of you. There's a reason I scheduled you all last," Paje gave a lopsided grin and the others laughed. Obi-Wan let his confusion pass. "As usual, this skill is a closely guarded secret of the Order, do not discuss it with anyone. Most importantly, don't use it unless you're really trying to destroy something. You probably noticed the conditioning here, to begin the focus with a particular phrase. Make it a rule of thumb to keep it that way. Never forget that there is no defense against what you can now do. It means death to whomever or whatever you turn it against. This is not for covering fire, warning shots or any such thing. You can cut through force fields, armor, a row of beings ten deep, if you need to. If you ever receive an order to use it, you will more than likely be killing in cold blood. Any questions? Good. Report to your Masters that you have gained Blaster Proficiency level 10."

Obi-Wan and Corubia left the room together. Obi-Wan stepped away to make a comm call to his master.


"Master, I have gained Blaster Proficiency level 10."

Qui-Gon laughed. "Already? Moving right along there, aren't you Obi-Wan?"

"As it pleases you, Master."

"What do you have plans for, today?"

Obi-Wan looked at Corubia and raised an eyebrow. She made kneading motions with her hands. "Corubia wants to spend the some time with the Trainees."

"If you two keep feeding them sugar like this, the Training Masters are going to skin you and scale her," Qui-Gon's words were stern, but his tone was laughing.

"Tradition, Master. Padawans must spoil the life out of Trainees so as to exact revenge on the evil oppressors who raised us all." Obi-Wan was laughing outright.

"Oh. Well, far be it from me to prevent an uprising of the oppressed. Dinner in my rooms at the usual hour. Oh, and keep your commlink active. There's a riot in the Segrave sector. They may call on us to help put it down."

"A riot this close to the Temple? What happened?"

"Some bill failed to pass in the Planetary Council and the backers are in an uproar. Don't worry. If the violence gets this close, we can handle it. We always have before and we always will."

Obi-Wan felt something ... a knowing, brush across his senses. "The Council is expecting it to come here, aren't they?"

Qui-Gon was silent for a moment. "Are you with Corubia?"

"Yes, Master."

"Do not repeat this to her. I'm not certain she would keep it to herself and this is not general knowledge. Torlamin will tell her if she needs to know. Is that understood?"

"Yes, Master."

"They should be here some time this evening. I will be telling Central Defenses that you and she will be with the Trainees. You know your duty."

"Of course, Master. I'll see you at dinner, then." Obi-Wan knew better than to behave as if doom were on the horizon. Only the future was coming, nothing more.

"Come on, Cor. Let's go get your stuff. Master wants me at his place for dinner." Obi-Wan linked his arm through hers and headed for the lift to her room.

Qui-Gon switched off his comm link and looked down at the desk, trying to re-order his thoughts. He had been digesting information for the better part of two hours. Some forty datachips stood at his elbow, with another dozen to go. He cast about for something to do, rather than begin on the next chunk. Just then, the doorchime sounded.

Arjet Paje was propped up against Qui-Gon's doorframe, not a whit changed from the first time Qui-Gon had met him all those many years ago. His long, strait hair hung in sheet of strawberry blond, falling across his face and covering one eye. The eye that could be seen was a pale sea green, and glittered with good humor. From old habit, Qui-Gon reached out and brushed the brown locks back. "I heard you had Obi-Wan in your marksmanship class today."

"Yes, I did. He seems to be progressing nicely." Arjet brushed past Qui-Gon and made for the catering unit. "Tea?"

"None for me. I'm memorizing, just now. Stimulants will only give me a headache." Qui-Gon resumed his seat at his desk and put a datachip in the reader. He struck a chime on the desk that was tuned to a particular tone and let the file scroll past him on the vidscreen. Although he did not see the individual words, the information was stored away. When the file ended, he shut the screen down and leaned back in his chair, waiting for his brain to digest it.

"You always look so weird when you do that," Arjet opined.

"I can't help it. My eyes have to move that fast to get it all," Qui-Gon shrugged. "Just think what it must be like when the ability first manifests. It's a lot worse to look at when it isn't under control."

"And people wonder why I don't envy you High Potential types. Weird eye tricks, brains the size of suns, emotional problems that make most of us look like garden variety paranoids." Paje came and sat on the floor next to Qui-Gon's desk.

"Speaking of which, did you get a chance to assess Obi-Wan?" Qui-Gon interrupted. "And I do not have emotional problems."

"Denial, denial. It's the first sign, you know. And yes, I had a look at young Kenobi. It's every bit as bad as you reported, but no worse. I don't see any reason to involve the Council at all. We can handle this." Arjet twisted a block of hair around his index finger and tugged it thoughtfully.

"That's what you said nine years ago. 'We can handle this.' You said it before that about a great many things," Qui-Gon reminded his friend.

"And was I ever wrong?" Paje returned.

"Once. And that's what has me worried."

Arjet looked deep into his teacup. "Don't be like that, Quigs. You knew the situation with Xanatos when you took him on."

"You said I could handle him and I believed you. He started having problems, you said 'We can handle this'," Qui-Gon wasn't being fair and didn't care.

"Point of order, Master Jinn. I said if anyone could handle it, it was us. I never said we were certain to succeed. I never even said the chances were good. Neither did you."

"And you said you'd handle the fallout if we failed. Do you still think you can handle it?"

"I haven't found him yet, Quigs. He's very good at hiding by now. He knows what will happen if I find him." Arjet's eyes went hard and dark. "I've handled worse."

"And Obi-Wan? Can we really handle him?"

"It won't come to that, Qui-Gon. You know he's a completely different case. It's a lack of self-confidence here, not an overabundance of one. You know that's easier to deal with than anything else he could have developed. Just take your time. Find the roots of the problem and undercut them. Starve the problem, root and branch. You CAN do this." Paje gestured fluidly with one hand.

"I can do this," Qui-Gon smiled. "I just wish it wouldn't hurt him so much to go through this. Why didn't we start on this sooner?"

"Do not dwell on the past, Quigs. Use the events of now to shape the future. You can not change the past, or the necessity of what we chose to do. Now you must take up the burden and repair the damages. I'm sure you'll find they're not permanent. I am CERTAIN they are not insurmountable. I have great faith in you and your apprentice." Arjet drank off the last of his tea. "I think you were doing something when I came in?"

"Just filling my head with another culture. Ho hum." Qui-Gon smiled and put another datachip in the reader. "It's good to see you again, Arjet."

"I'll be on call any time you need me. I know this is going to be a difficult pass for you both. I am here for you, Qui-Gon Jinn." Arjet stood and came closer. He took Qui-Gon's hand and dropped a kiss into his palm. Then just as quickly as a breath, he was out the door and gone.

*Oh, Arjet. I'm so sorry we never had the time to find out what might have been between us. But maybe it's for the best. I could never have given up my Koateleu for you.*

The garden was filled with laughter today. Obi-Wan leaned back on his elbows in the grass, soaking up the sound of it. This wasn't the manicured meditation gardens, but the bit of earth created for use by the Trainees. They learned their first uses of the Living Force here, carefully encouraging the little plants out of the ground. Children from ages four through twelve dashed about like beings possessed, joy spilling off them and into the flow of the Force. Obi-Wan loved it here.

"C'mon Obi! Just one more!" A small boy landed on Obi-Wan's stomach and bounced impatiently.

"I've already done three for you. Ask Corubia. She's better at it than I am anyway." Obi-Wan set the boy aside.

"You do a MUCH better bird than she does. Besides, you tell stories with yours."

Obi-Wan sat up to discover that his fan club had not left his side. "Well, okay. Just a couple more, then I have to go to my Master."

"Are you in trouble, Obi-Wan?" this from Sayjil, an older child with thoughtful eyes and silvery skin.

"Am I breathing?" Obi-Wan returned. "Now, I think you wanted a bird, right Aeson?"

A loud chorus of "A bird! A bird!" garnered attention from all over the garden. Even Corubia came over to the circle of children to watch him. Obi-Wan fought the blush reflex. She had taught him how to do this, as she had learned from her mother on visits home over the years. Her parents were candymakers on her home planet and had wanted Corubia to know something of their lives.

He took up a wad of white taffy from the bowl at his side and kneaded it for a moment to make it pliable. He had told stories to himself while learning the different shapes, so he could remember the steps. Corubia had asked him to write them down and sent them home to her parents. She never used them herself, though. They were Obi-Wan's creation.

"Once upon a time there was a lake," Obi-Wan said, putting a small amount of blue dye in the taffy and working it through. He stuck the wad onto a thin skewer and took up his knife. "There were two colonists that lived nearby. Every day they walked two crooked paths to get some water."

Here Obi-Wan carved two strips of taffy away from the wad and twisted them into bird legs. He continued telling the story, drawing out the wings, the neck and head, the tail, then decorating the bird with brushstrokes of dye. He finished his story by putting dots of deeper blue on the tailfeathers. "And the old man said to his wife, 'Oh! Those are just fish trying to be tadpoles."

The children laughed. Obi-Wan gave Aeson his bird and turned to Sayjil. "I'll do a special one for you. There's no story, but I think you'll like it anyway. How about a little song instead?"

She nodded and he held out his hand to Corubia. She came and sat behind him to help sing and carve. She slipped her legs to either side of him and rested her chin on his shoulder. The Dragon in Flight was complicated, requiring more than two hands to create. "We'll call this one the Bad Ol' Dragon," Corubia declared.

"Oh, not that one! The Masters will kill us for sure," Obi-Wan egged her on.

The kids joined in. "Do the Bad Old Dragon! Make it really really bad!"

So Corubia dyed the taffy black and Obi-Wan began the song. It was a meditation poem on the Dark Side, the one Corubia had been singing earlier. The kids knew the poem and some sang along.

"Seven your deceptions are and seven falsehoods, too
But only one misstep will bring you down.

Seven your desires are and wishes to fulfill,
But only one will answer for the need within your heart.

Seven are the hopes you hold, and seven destinies
Seek the one that lies upon the Solitary Path.

Seven are the enemy and seven traitors come
Justice is a single entity

Seven are the scattered pieces, chaos is their rule
Order is the law that you will wield

Seven are the obstacles you easily perceive
Evade the obstacle you can not see.

Seven is the number by which we are overcome
We make the strength of one the strength of ten."

It wasn't supposed to make sense, Obi-Wan knew. It was really just to make you think in terms of battling the Dark Side, which was sevenfold stronger than any individual alone. The strength of the Jedi came not from their numbers, but from the individuals who made themselves ten times stronger, sometimes a hundred or a thousand times stronger than any one being could be.

With the Force. Through the Light.

He put the finishing touches on the dragon, making the scales glitter in reds and greens. Its head reared up menacingly, the tail twisted in armored splendor around the stick. The wings spread high and wide to catch the wind. He handed this to Sayjil.

"I want to keep it forever. It's so beautiful!" the little girl whispered.

"Ah, but that's the catch to Taffy Toys," Corubia reminded her. "They won't last no matter what you do. Better to enjoy it now while it's pretty than wait for it to crumble."

Obi-Wan smiled when the girl obediently began licking her dragon away. A few moments later and she was sharing the wings with a friend. Obi-Wan and Corubia began packing up the candy, much to the displeasure of their company. "Now kids, come on! Obi-Wan has to go home. Master Jinn needs him," Corubia explained.

"Master Jinn ALWAYS has him!" Aeson complained. "He never gets to come and play like you do."

"Yes, but Master Torlamin is here at the Temple more often. The Padawan must obey." Obi-Wan snapped the locks closed on the paint box and slung the strap over his shoulder. He stood and dusted his knees off. Just then the incursion alarm sounded. Three hoots and a trill on every comm link in the Temple. The children in the garden froze. "Trainees, fall in on my rank!" Obi-Wan shouted.

There were no other adults in the garden. Two Senior Padawans usually equaled a Knight when it came to monitoring the children. There were about two dozen trainees falling into perfect ranks of four by four. He turned to Corubia. "Lead or follow?"

"I'll follow," she said.

Obi-Wan went to the head of the file. "March!"

They stepped out in perfect unison. Obi-Wan never failed to be amazed at the discipline the Jedi-raised children exhibited. The older children kept an eye on the younger, the Padawans watched the older kids and Obi-Wan led them to their emergency shelter. Up stairs and down corridors they trotted, making good time and causing no problems or confusion. Obi-Wan and Corubia reached out through the Force to add strength to their calm mental state. When they reached the training rooms, Obi-Wan called "Halt!"

A training master stood at the door with her clipboard. "Report."

"These are the Trainees from the Lower Garden. We were there watching them, heard the alarm and brought them here." Corubia said.

"You were down there stuffing them full of sweets again, Padawan Nall. And you too, Kenobi. Don't think we're ignorant of your subversive activities. Get to the Upper Armory and find your masters."

Obi-Wan slipped the dyebox strap off his shoulder and handed it to Sayjil. "Will you take care of this for me?"

"I am ready to protect," she promptly replied.

Obi-Wan entered the armory and broke away from Corubia. What should have been a scene of chaos was settling into perfect order as every Jedi found their partner and waited for orders. Obi-Wan followed his bond to Qui-Gon and seamlessly took his place at his master's shoulder.

A hush fell over the room as Master Windu spoke. "Onto the walls. The Sector Guard has informed us that the mob can not be held at the gates. They will soon be upon us. As you pass through the armory, take up your weapons."

As one the Jedi spoke. "I am ready to protect."

Moments later Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon stood on the rooftop of the Temple. The outer wall of the building was their first line of defense, though it had been centuries since anyone had threatened them. A cool wind whipped through his robes. Corubia and Master Torlamin stood at his left. Off to the right, Lrakin Rilka stood with her Kats, in full body armor, armed to the teeth and ready to serve alongside the other combat-trained staff in service to the Jedi. The civilian, noncom staff was inside, ready to man the interior defense system. Obi-Wan hoped it didn't come to that. Then again, if a mob could defeat every Jedi on hand, maybe the civilians would have the good sense to surrender.

He felt Qui-Gon pouring energy into their bond, so he began strengthening it from his end. It was through this bond that he received his command.

//They come. Select a target.//

Obi-Wan looked out and saw that a wave of small transports and people on foot filling the square below. He raised his blaster and took aim, clearing his mind as Master Paje had instructed him, but did not place his finger upon the trigger.

//We will attempt to get their attention now, Padawan.//

He felt his strength blend with Qui-Gon's. Then, like a sun emerging from eclipse, the Force burst with bright energy as every Jedi, every Padawan, every trainee and sensitive in the Temple concerted their efforts. He heard the echoes of Suggestion, raised his hand and gestured from long ingrained habit. **BE CALM! BE AT PEACE!**

The mob slowed in its tracks.

//Weapon down, Padawan. It will not be needed.//

Obi-Wan obeyed even as his mind boggled at what he sensed in the Force. Others not present joined the power of the Jedi at the Temple. They seemed far away, as if they spoke from all over the planet. Then from farther away, in the nearest star systems the Force glittered with the presence of Jedi everywhere. Even on the edges, probably those sent on missions to the furthest reaches of the Rim they shone like diamonds in his mind. They all turned their thoughts to Coruscant and the protection of the Temple. In turn, the Jedi on the wall gave direction to the energy fed to them. As a chorus, from the Council to the youngest Trainee the Jedi gave shape to their will. Obi-Wan's thoughts were one with them. **Go home. Be happy. Go home. Be loved and at peace.**

The command was repeated ten thousandfold and redoubled as each Jedi wished this on each other as well as the crowd below. Obi-Wan turned and slipped his arms around his master even as his master leaned down to kiss his lips. Obi-Wan reached out and took Corubia's hand, drawing her into another sort of embrace. **Find yourself loved. Go home.**

Obi-Wan looked over his shoulder to see the mob receding towards the avenue. On the Temple Wall everyone smiled and pulled their minds back behind shields. Even as that connection ended, the residue of peace and love filled them all. Obi-Wan held harder to his master and pulled Corubia closer to them even as Master Torlamin laid a hand upon her shoulder.

It was later said that there was no Jedi left alone in that hour. Padawan held Master, Knight embraced Trainee and friends joined together in the remembrance of the love and Light they served. Even those imprisoned and on solitary missions felt the arms of friends and loved ones about them. Above the doors of the Jedi Temple Obi-Wan Kenobi felt the embrace, acceptance and was soothed as water saves the thirsting man, as love rescues the lonely.

Two hours later Qui-Gon was finally going to get the shower he had been headed for when the general alarm sounded. Obi-Wan was sitting at Qui-Gon's desk typing up his share of the report and listening to some music.

"Who is that?" Qui-Gon asked.

Obi-Wan glanced up. "Singing? Jim Morrison. I think his stuff's really hot."

Qui-Gon had never really paid attention to his Padawan's choice in music before, but today there was no way to ignore anything he did. And the aching lust that poured from the singer's voice only made the situation that much more tense. Whoever this Morrison person was, he must be a formidable man, energywise.

Before you slip into unconsciousness
I'd like to have another kiss
Another flashing chance at bliss
Another kiss, another kiss

Obi-Wan had gotten up and fetched a glass of water from the kitchenette, swaying ever so slightly to the beat, subtle movement at hip and shoulder. That was when Qui-Gon sought out the refuge of his shower. There was too much raw carnality mixed in with the emotion left over from the afternoon's conflict for any sensible resolution to occur.

Unfortunately, Qui-Gon could still hear the music through the closed bathroom door. Obi-Wan had begun to sing along with this James individual. Qui-Gon had to admit, his Padawan was a pretty good singer. Too good, in fact.

The days are bright and filled with pain
Enclose me in your gentle rain
The time you ran was too insane
We'll meet again, we'll meet again

The water hit Qui-Gon in a lukewarm rush before slowly gaining heat. He let his mind wander, lathering up a washcloth and cleansing the day's dirt away. He smiled, recalling the picture Obi-Wan had made not so long ago, curled up on the floor of the shower cubicle, rocking and humming his contentment in the Moment. The boy was just too beautiful to be believed, no matter how you sliced it. His peaceful expression had only added to the image.

Qui-Gon soaped his chest slowly, surprised to find his nipples were stiffening, even under the warm spray. He rinsed off and reached for the shampoo, determined to ignore his other slowly rising body parts. He worked a thick, rich lather up in his hair, slowly massaging his scalp, working out each tangle, letting himself relax under the warm cascade. Reflexively he reached out through the Force to check on Obi-Wan, listening with enhanced abilities. Over the thrum of water on tile, he heard Obi-Wan's voice as the younger man was swept up into a different song.

Come on, come on, come on, come on
Now touch me, baby
Can't you see that I am not afraid?
What was that promise that you made?
Why won't you tell me what she said?
What was that promise that you made?

Qui-Gon groaned, slumping against the tiles. The driving rhythm and sexual overtones lent power to his personal need. *He's doing that on purpose. He HAS to be ... * and that thought was much more erotic than assuming it was mere coincidence. Desire welled up in him, a dark and aggressive thing. Much too forceful to take up with his newest partner. Far too harsh for the tenderness that he felt for Obi-Wan. But not too dangerous for himself, alone.

Now, I'm gonna love you
Till the heavens stop the rain
I'm gonna love you
Till the stars fall from the sky for you and I

Qui-Gon turned towards the wall, pressing one shoulder into the corner. His hands were still slick from soap and shampoo as he caressed his nipples to full hardness once more. He reached out with one hand to readjust the spray, then returned his attentions to his own body. Fingernails dragged trails along neck, across the curve of his ear, down abdomen and into the valley where hip joined torso. Long lines of heavy red welts formed on his skin as he dragged his fingernails over thigh and buttocks. Qui-Gon closed his eyes, picturing Obi-Wan's strong, sure hands treating him so. His own hands craved flesh to be held, squeezed, aroused, flesh not his own. Qui-Gon bent forward, marking calf and ankle before rising once more, hunched forward as the hot water bit into the marks. His back was beginning to ache under the untempered assault the shower provided. His lips touched cool tiles as he whispered to himself, "Love you, Obi-Wan. Love you so much ... "

Come on, come on, come on, come on
Now touch me, baby
Can't you see that I am not afraid?
What was that promise that you made?
Why won't you tell me what she said?
What was that promise that you made?

He stroked his balls gently, rolling them in his fingers, paying close attention to himself for once. The emotions of the day coupled with the raucous song in the next room was doing him no end of good. With one hand he continued to tease along scrotum and inner thigh. With the other he squeezed his cock and began stroking himself in earnest. His tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth as his breathing sped up.

Unbidden, the memory of Obi-Wan breathing just so, just that way as Qui-Gon took him, sprang full-bloomed into Qui-Gon's mind. He wondered what Obi-Wan looked like when he pleasured himself, wondered if his eyes got that surprised look just before he came. Qui-Gon had come to adore that surprised look, of late.

Soon he was panting hard, leaning against the tiles, whispering swiftly, gasping "Koatel, Obi-Wan, love you, Koatel." His hips were swaying, thrusting himself faster between his fingers. His soap slicked fingers squeezed down harder, enticing, fulfilling his need for friction, contact.

I'm gonna love you
Till the heavens stop the rain
I'm gonna love you
Till the stars fall from the sky for you and I

And like stars exploding behind his eyes, he came, biting hard on his bottom lip to keep from crying out. Low grunts of release echoed through the bathroom as soap and semen mixed on his fingers, belly, thigh. His skin tingled as he turned towards the shower, letting the water cleanse him on the outside as the release had cleansed him inwardly. He kept his eyes closed, struggling to control his breathing, struggling to remain standing. With some spare part of his brain he picked out Obi-Wan's voice over the falling water once more.

I'm gonna love you
Till the heavens stop the rain
I'm gonna love you
Till the stars fall from the sky for you and I

*My feelings exactly, Koatel.*

A light tap on the door, then Obi-Wan called "I've sent the report off, Master. I'm headed to my room. Call if you need anything."

"I will, Padawan," Qui-Gon replied. *I would if I could, Obi-Wan, but I can't trust myself with you right now.* "Would you mind leaving that disk here? I'd like to hear it again."

Obi-Wan was silent for a moment. Qui-Gon grinned, picturing his expression of consternation. "Yes, Master. I'll leave it on the desk. Goodnight."

Qui-Gon waited until he was sure Obi-Wan had left for his room. He went to the desk and set the music chip on play. 'The Doors'. Hmm. Interesting name for a musical group. He dialed up a mug of kokala then went to settle onto the sofa. Although his time alone in the shower had relaxed some of his physical need, his emotions were still grinding along a rough and aggressive trail. Sipping at the warm beverage, he tried to let his mind relax. He was too tired to meditate properly and too wound up to sleep. The thrumming music meshed nicely with his agitated emotional state.

Love me two times, baby
Love me twice today
Love me two times, girl I'm goin' away
Love me two times, girl
One for tomorrow
One just for today
Love me two times I'm goin' away

*Ha! I'm having enough trouble loving just the once, Jim.* Qui-Gon was beginning to wonder if he had made a serious mistake in accepting Obi-Wan's invitation for a physical relationship. Too much of their bond was tied up in trust and communication. Between lovers, such things often became complicated, layered with promises and expectations that must be tended carefully. It was his responsibility to see that he and his apprentice kept to the rule of thumb for personal matters.

"Jedi first, then Master. Only after that are you an individual." He spoke this aloud, trying to make it real once more. That belief had once been concrete. Nothing could be allowed in any Jedi's life that could distract them from remembering what they were BEFORE thinking of who they were. He had been ruthless with Obi-Wan, keeping him from thinking on family or home, both of which had been denied him forever when the Jedi came and took him away. The Feldarians would not prevent their children from being taken on for training, but neither would they admit that a child of theirs was being trained. They simply forgot that the child had ever existed.

Obi-Wan had been forgotten the moment he was placed in the crèche. It was Qui-Gon's part to make him a Jedi. Now the Master began to see that it was also his duty to make Obi-Wan remember himself, find his place and individuality. And as they had joined their minds in battle today, Qui-Gon saw that Obi-Wan had almost no sense of his right to a place in the Order.

Love me one time
I could not speak
Love me one time
Yeah, my knees got weak
But love me two times, girl
Last me all through the week
Love me two times I'm goin' away
Love me two times I'm goin' away
Oh, yes

*It is never enough to just be a Jedi. No one can live like that.* Qui-Gon reminded himself. And yet, for years, he had. He had concentrated on his job, his calling, the training of apprentices, had no life outside of the Temple. Well, that was not so unusual, really. But even within the Temple, he didn't have much of a life. Even Obi-Wan found time for things other than training and classes, hectic as his schedule usually was.

It hadn't always been like this for the Master. He thought back to his days as a young Knight, when he had been made work partner to Arjet and finally settled in to his role, saving the world, defending Justice. They had shared some wild times, he and Arjet. Spoiling the trainees with candy was the tip of the iceberg, then.

His life had changed, slowly. There had been more and more danger in their missions. Eventually Arjet had followed a totally different path. Then he'd taken his first apprentice, Pequara Shereid. She was doing well, on permanent assignment to Rebkara. He had a missive from her every now and then, but she had moved on, beyond their close-knit relationship.

Then Xanatos ...

Love me one time
I could not speak
Love me one time, baby
Yeah, my knees got weak
But love me two times, girl
Last me all through the week

Qui-Gon sat up, spilling his drink. "THANK YOU JIM MORRISON!" he cried. He pulled his shirt off and went to get another, mind whirling.

Not just last him through the week ... he folded his legs under him, settling into a simple pose and let his mind relax, relax, just relax. The music from the other room became his focal point, the sound drew his mind into the patterns he needed, shifting from normal thought into the more hyperactive realms of the Moment. His mind, his knowledge, blended seamlessly with the Force. He stood in the Now, past and future laid out for him like a map. Sure, a poorly drawn, confusing map with lots of blank spaces, but if you knew how to read it, as Qui-Gon did ...

There. The thread of his life was twined firmly around Obi-Wan's. Had been for some time. But right there, just two or three weeks ago, they had been more firmly joined. Well, the spiritual mirrors the physical, he reminded himself. Then, further down the line, months, years, it was hard to tell exactly, one of the layers to their connection had a break in it. From there the lifelines continued, but the relationship was obscured. *That will be Obi-Wan's Trials. I have until then to win him.* Satisfied, he let go the vision and followed the music back to the real world.

Well well well. Not just through the week. *Still time enough,* he hoped.

Love me two times
I'm goin' away
Love me two times, babe
Love me twice today
Love me two times, babe
'Cause I'm goin' away
Love me two time, girl
One for tomorrow
One just for today
Love me two times I'm goin' away
Love me two times I'm goin' away
Love me two times I'm goin' away

Qui-Gon turned to his shelves and grabbed a shirt. *Sorry, Jim. It's not going to be like that.*

It occurred to Qui-Gon that there was a lot he didn't know about Obi-Wan. He tried to leave his student as much personal space as possible. Some Masters insisted that their Padawan lived with them, worked with them, trained and served at all times. Qui-Gon hadn't wanted his bright and eager charge to become stifled by the elder man's more sedate lifestyle here at the Temple. He left Obi-Wan to his own devices when possible, allowing him freedom to make his own choices.

Now would be the time to draw closer to his partner. The person who he hoped would be his mate, even if Obi-Wan would not know it for a long time yet. Still time to learn about the person he had raised and taught. Still time to learn the person he was coming to love not as a subordinate, but as an equal.

And the first step in that learning was to make Obi-Wan even more a part of his life than before.

"Lrakin Rilka, may I have a few moments of your time?" A marginally familiar male voice drew her attention from locking the Allocations office main door four hours after the battle. It had taken that long to get what couldn't wait another day done. Her crew ... her family now ... where long since released to their quarters. She wanted nothing more than to join them and finalize it, having long forgotten what this limbo felt like.

*Goddess, what a halfweek.*

"Master Qui-Gon, right?" She eyed the huge but graceful human with only a fraction of her normal interest, but still *Goddess, he's even more beautiful dressed* wandered through her thoughts.


She regarded him, took a deep breath to assess his condition and found and odd mix of guilt, arousal and something akin to hope. "Is it about Allocations in some way?"

"Yes, Lrakin."

She let her ears slip down with the disappointment she felt. "I'll answer to Rilka or Jackee as well, this is home ... you are part of my Trinah -- my extended family now." She palmed the office open again. "Please come in," half a step in and she hit the lights on, then led him back to her office and almost collapsed in her chair behind the desk. "Please sit, and what is this about?" She kept her voice impeccably neutral.

"If this is a ..."

"Just say it and let's deal with it, okay? I'm here. Tomorrow will be no better." *An outright lie, but he'll never know. Duty first, and always, as it must be.* She closed her eyes for a moment before focusing on him and her job completely.

"I wish to have Obi-Wan moved into my Padawan Room." Qui-Gon accepted her choice of duty over whatever she felt she needed.

"That's it?" Her ears flicked forwarded as disbelief crept into her voice.

"Umm, yes Lrakin Jackee." He opted to mimic her treatment of his name and title. It earned him a smile -- or what passed for one from a Kat -- and a small flicker in the Force around her he identified as relief. "Is there a problem?"

"Goddess, no," can out a breathy sigh. "But I do need to ask a few questions."

"I understand," Qui-Gon nodded slightly.

*I doubt it, but cooperation is cooperation.* She tapped several keys on her desk lightslate in rapid succession, scanned what popped up on her screen and began. "Okay, are you requesting this to avoid being forced to accepted it?"

"No. Why would I?"

"To save face. If it's your idea ..."

"I see," he nodded slightly. "No, I want Obi-Wan to join me. He is at a critical stage of his training that would be hindered by being so far away. I have encouraged his independence this long, it is now no longer an option."

"Okay," she tapped lightly. "Have you discussed this with him?"


"Is a week from yesterday too long? I have him scheduled for a move then. If you need it sooner ..."

"A week is fine, Lrakin Jackee. The situation is not that dire. Merely important." Qui-Gon rose easily. "I thank you for your time and understanding."

"You're welcome, it's my job ... and you are family now. Now sit back down a minute. As long as I've got you here ..." she swiveled her chair around and rapidly shuffled through her collection of cards in ordered boxes behind the shelves muttering "Jinn, Jinn, Qui-Gon Jinn; Master. Got it."

"More of your changes?"

"You could say that. The old system was giving me headaches just sorting though it. I really don't want to think about running it. Frankly, it's probably a good thing the disorganized, shortsighted kulag that built it is long dead, or I'd be calling a BloodHunt. 'mazing that the Jedi have done so well with such a mangled support structure." She tossed him the card. "This is an Allocation's Card, your Padawan has one as well. Give me a few months and so will the rest of the Temple. It works much like your accommodations number, actually, it works exactly like it from what I've translated. If your spending becomes unusual in comparison to your apparent needs and missions, you will be called into this office to explain. It will all be tracked by the new software we finally got installed. Once you memorize the number, you won't have to use the card. The biggest changes will likely take a few months for me to kick everyone's tails into gear in the sub-offices ... but when all is said and done you should be able to walk into Clothing and walk out with what you need." She smiled slightly at what she had planned for them. "They'll have it in stock."

"I see." Qui-Gon slipped the card into a small inner pocket of his cloak.

"In time." She grinned back. "Oh, and are you going on a mission? I'd like to get the pipes fixed in your quarters and it's easiest on everyone if you're off planet."

"We have a mission scheduled in three weeks, but it is not a reliable date." He offered without giving any unnecessary information.

"Oh, yah, that Daego thing." Rilka tapped away at her desk's lightslate and studiously ignored the surprise that crept into his scent, though not his expression. "Let's see, medical's normal on both of you, so it's probably not doing much damage. I can probably just put you on Alpha Standby. The first time you're off planet and expected to stay there for at least 48 hours, a crew will do the repairs. I'll just keep an eye on the assignments, you don't have to worry about it."

"All right."

"One last thing, any pets?"

"Not often." Qui-Gon answered somewhat truthfully. They rarely stayed for long, and these days Obi-Wan insured they had a place and care in the Aviary. "But Obi-Wan has a turtle."

She smiled again, the tip of her pink tongue remained sticking out between sharp white front teeth. "Yes, the infamous Dauhge."

*I don't want to know. No. I want to know how she knows but I really don't need to know the answer. She's worse than Corubia.* He settled for a slight nod. "Is that an issue?"

"No, but they change what I expect to see on your Allocation and some of them need to be warned about -- either in general or to certain species." Rilka interlaced her fingers and stretched up, barely suppressing a yawn. "Do you have any questions?" She gestured him up.

"I do not believe so."

"Good. If any arise, do contact this office, or me personally. Normally, there would be someone on duty 24-7, but tonight is special." Rilka walked him out of the office, clicking off the lights as they went.

"Special how? If you don't mind." Qui-Gon asked softly just inside the outer door.

Rilka regarded him for a long moment before leaning against the wall. "If I explain it, will you grant me a small favor?"

"What do you want?"

"Just to smell you, thoroughly," she locked eyes.

*What harm can come of that?* "All right."

"Thank you," was barely whispered as she covered the arms-length between them in a single motion, draped both hands on his shoulders and slipped her muzzle between his neck and loose hair with an open mouthed sigh.

After her first deep breath, Qui-Gon relaxed his stance to ease the pressure on his shoulders and allow her to reach without stretching quite as much. All he accomplished was to draw her closer, and bring her breath and rough tongue further along his neck.

Jackee relaxed completely to allow her mind to catalog and accurately translate the information it was rapidly being given. *There will be no second chance at this.*

Breath in to gather his scent, lick several times to gather his taste, breath out to ruffle his hair and clear the air for the next breath. She let it all wash over her at this most ancient of rites.

Human. Male. Strong. Certain. Paired!? Different. Powerful. Alpha. Alone. Obi-Wan. Fresh desire. Herbal mixture -- sort later, cleanser. Arousal? Animal-Healer, Ancient-Kin. Kimandr.

Accept. Respect. No Threat.

'Obey' was spoken weakly by the part of her mind not yet accepting her new rank.

She shifted slightly to bring her right fangs against a small patch of skin licked nearly numb and sliced a small cut, hurriedly licking the blood away before the small wound sealed.

As the rich metallic rolled across her tongue and down her throat, it confirmed what she smelled. All of it.

"You did more than smell, Rilka." He didn't quite reprimand as she pulled away.

"I ... know." She let herself nearly collapsed against the wall. "I need ... confirmation of what I smelled. I am sorry, but I ..."


She pushed her face though spread finders. "I need to know how dangerous you are to me."

"By biting me?" He started at her unblinkingly for a long moment. "Why?"

"Not by biting you," Rilka shook her head. "It was just a convenient way to taste your blood. I needed to know how much control you could exert over my Clan."


"More than I would like."

"I have no interest in interfering with your Clan." He touched her chin lightly to get to her face him again and saw both resignation and exhaustion there, but little else. "If you can tell so much, surely you know that." He projected calm and sincerity towards here almost without thinking.

"I know, not like it really matters. You are what you are, as are we." She took a deep breath and leaned back to relax. "Now, you wanted to know about why tonight's special. Remember I said you are Trinah -- family now?" She dropped her head to stare at the floor for a moment before meeting his eyes and continuing. "I didn't believe you could turn the mob without violence. I don't believe all of what I've heard of Jedi combat abilities. To protect what is here, to do what I have sworn my life to, I ... claimed ... this temple as my territory. I called on the rights of a Queen Mother. My sisters lent me power, enough to quell the mob if need be. I would have killed them all on the first injury to one here. In claiming the right, I have also claimed those that serve here as my Clan ... my family, my responsibility. The four other Kats here are my Ashara ... my inner family, the core of the new Clan. Everyone else are my Trinah -- extended family. On a level, I am responsible for all Jedi now, for as Jedi belong to the Temple, all that belongs to the Temple belongs to me."

Qui-Gon watched her silently for a long moment, feeling the ebb and flow for Force around her and the massive jumble of contradicting emotions emanating from her. Then, without warning, it stilled as she regained control.

"It is nothing to worry about. It brings no demands on you, as a Trinah, only on the Ashara." Rilka leaned against the door, quietly trying not to think about everything she hadn't said about it.

"Even though I am ..."

"Kimandr," she quickly supplied. "Yes, even though. Your innate abilities give you the right to petition for Ashara status if you want, but nothing more." She bit back the part that Obi-Wan probably could as well, and her gratitude at fate that they were both male.

"And there is now a ritual of some kind I have kept you from in my curiosity. Truly my request could have been dealt with later." Qui-Gon bowed to her, "I will leave you to your Clan duties now, and I thank you for your time and knowledge."

Rilka watched him depart, bemused by the raw confusion in his scent over the entire Trinah issue. He would definitely bear watching, for so many reasons. A final check on the door and she all but bolting to the lift that would reach her quarters before someone else stopped her.

"Lrakin Rilka, may I have a word with you?" Another man asked calmly as she entered the lift.

"Is this about an allocation?" She tried to keep her voice even.

"No, it ..."

"Then you have until I get to my door, Master Windu."

Obi-Wan had just dismissed his class in Drekan for the last time. He had nothing on his schedule for a couple of days and was planning on spending some time with the trainees. He was still in a haze of peace and serenity left over from the 'battle' on the walls last week. Everyone was. He wondered if it was possible for anything to bring him down. Corubia had not missed the kiss Qui-Gon had given him, though it seemed that everyone else had. She had drawn the logical conclusion but said nothing to anyone, a minor miracle in itself. Obi-Wan was glad. He was in too good of a mood lately to try to explain something he had yet to put much thought into. He was in too good of a mood for anything even remotely that annoying. As he neared the door to his room, he saw there was something taped to it.

"Oh no. Nonononononono." Obi-Wan looked at the thin yellow envelope with something like terror. *Fear is the path to the Dark Side,* he reminded himself. *It's just paper. It can't hurt you.*

He opened the envelope with some trepidation, read the notice and put it away. Arrgh. *A Padawan is obedient. A Jedi overcomes adversity,* he reminded himself, thumbing the lock on his door. Okay, not so much HIS door anymore, considering that he only had three hours to clear the milk crate they called apprentice quarters. But still, for the moment, it was the door that led to the area that housed his stuff. Not that he had a lot of stuff. But still. Well, so much for his good mood.

Obi-Wan began gathering his things, folding, packing, and removing himself from the space formerly known as his. He glanced over at the aquarium where Dauhge paddled, all unknowing. The turtle was Obi-Wan's responsibility but now it now seemed he was unable to provide proper housing for the little creature. Indeed, he was unprepared to even provide storage for the now-also-homeless reptile. *I will NOT move in with Qui-Gon. By all that is holy, I WILL take care of myself.*

He had all of his possessions packed in a matter of minutes. The rounds of housing musical chairs had bumped him right out of his space on numerous occasions before this. When it came to supplying the needs of Padawans, Obi-Wan was now just three pecks from the bottom of the list. His Master had spacious quarters. His master was an active Jedi Field Operative, often away from Coruscant on Council Missions. His master would see to it that he had all that he needed, be it education, food, medical attention or a sofa to crash out on until a room came free. And if he didn't, Rilka would likely be on him in a flash for causing her extra work. Curse it all to any place sufficiently disgusting and uncomfortable.

Oh, Obi-Wan knew he was being unreasonable. His life was exciting, interesting, a challenge. It was spiritually fulfilling, emotionally balanced, physically exhilarating, everything a young human male needs. Of course, he spent three quarters of his time in the public eye, another eighth in peril and the last shred mostly in eating, sleeping and training. Sure there was plenty of downtime, plenty of self-days in that plan. Plenty of privacy and quiet space. Right. Pull the other one. He took Dauhge's smaller, more portable bowl from the low shelf, filled it with water from the aquarium, transferred the turtle and switched off the pump. He put the turtle food packet into his sleeve.

His meager luggage sat in the center of the floor, accusing him. 'We've only been here six months! We just got settled in,' it seemed to exude. 'Who do you think is going to take us in this time?'

*I will NOT move in with Qui-Gon.*

Obi-Wan prided himself that his Master never need spare a second thought about his Padawan's well being while they stayed at the Temple. Obi-Wan had become a master of manipulating the system, arranging his housing, food allotments, clothing dole, all the things that got him through being alive, a Padawan, and not on some miserable little hole-in-the-wall planet for once. His friend Jenji had told him, in much detail, the luxury of training under Master Ar'thapa. Invitation to live in the Master's quarters, meals planned together, evenings doing nothing more than watching the threedy, munching snacks and talking about ... stuff.

Obi-Wan tried to imagine doing any of these things with Qui-Gon. The best he could come up with was a memory related to the first time Obi-Wan had received and eviction notice. He had been about 13 at the time and had gone immediately to his master's quarters, ready to ask his advice, seek his council, get some HELP. When he entered, he'd found Qui-Gon face down and snoozing at his desk. It was clear that Qui-Gon had just pulled an all-nighter of some sort and needed his Padawan to look after his well being. Again.

Having bundled Qui-Gon off to bed, using equal parts logical persuasion and the subtle mental suggestion that the body does indeed need rest, Obi-Wan had set about tidying the work area. He found stacks and stacks of datachips, all related to their next mission. Apparently Qui-Gon had been trying to swallow all the available information on a culture whole. He looked at the stakes, millions of lives, the governments of six planets, trade disputes that affected jobs and lives and real people who had no idea that the hope of their continued happiness was being seen to by a teenage boy. Obi-Wan realized that his rooming problems were just way too petty to bother Qui-Gon with. He'd gone down to the Allocations office, picked up a pamphlet and some forms, and dealt with it himself.

Three weeks of sofa surfing with friends and acquaintances, the odd stranger, and two miserable nights on a bench in the gardens, and he'd had a new room all to himself. This little cycle repeated about once every two years. He'd never once asked to stay with Qui-Gon.

And Qui-Gon had never suggested that he do so.

So Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Padawan, stuck his eviction notice in his teeth, hitched his 2 bags over his shoulder, picked up his turtle bowl in his left arm, got his small box of valuables (sundry, misc., not all that valuable really) and set out to deal with the situation. First stop, Corubia's place. She roomed with Master Torlamin and could probably find a spare ledge for Dauhge.

When the door slid open, Corubia took the letter from between his teeth and looked it over. "Oh, man. They got you again? Must be part of that shakedown in Allocations." She took Dauhge and waved Obi-Wan into the room. "That sincerely bites. What are you going to do?"

"I hate to impose on you like this, but I don't even have a shelf to put the poor boy on, this time. They caught me flat-footed. May I?" He gestured towards the vid unit.

"Be my guest. You've got, what, sixteen days before you two go off saving a world again?" She headed to the caterer to dial up some tea.

Obi-Wan shook his head. "This whole mess at Daego has sort of ground to a halt. We're just sitting here, twiddling our thumbs, waiting for them to decide for themselves that they could use our help. Been pushed back another seven days. They even assigned Qui-Gon some seminar for the littles." Obi-Wan pulled up the addressing roster for the Temple apartments.

"Why don't you just stay here?" She asked, bringing him a steaming mug of liquid perk.

"You know I can't. You live with Master Torlamin. If I move in with you, or even crash out here until we leave, Qui-Gon will hear about it. Then I'll catch nine different flavors of hell from him until I get the situation straightened out. Ooh, look. Swed got that nice room in the south wing. He still owes me a crash," Obi-Wan made a note of that and kept scrolling through the listings. The thought of staying with Master Torlamin was less appealing than sleeping in the gardens. She was a good enough Master, but there was something rather odd about her. Both he and Corubia had studied under her when they were Trainees and he had never heard anything but good report of her from Corubia ... still, Obi-Wan could not shake his distrust of her.

"Qui-Gon's your master. He's supposed to help you," Corubia pointed out.

"Qui-Gon is my master. He's supposed to train me. I'm supposed to take care of things. First: him, his health and his mental well being. Then my physical health and fitness, to continue doing those things. Then my training. Somewhere below about twenty other things that we must see to, jointly, comes the question of where I put my head down to sleep. I have a system here. It works. Leave it." Obi-Wan knew he wasn't being fair to his friend but felt strangely unable to stop the bitter words.

"Well, I'll look after Dauhge for as long as you want me to. And no sleeping in the garden this time. If you think anybody buys your story about communing with nature, you're daft," she warned him.

"As long as Qui-Gon buys it, that's all I care about."

Swed was more than happy to take in the Temple's resident stray of the day. It was, in fact, something of a boon. Over the years, Obi-Wan had earned a reputation as a very comfortable guest to have. He was clean, quiet, frequently absent and could cook. His belongings and needs were few and he came with a capacity to give that frankly astounded most, especially considering his meager resources. On one very notable occasion he had masterminded and implemented a plot to throw the blowout party of the year for Corubia's 19th nameday. In just five hours he had collected on every favor he was owed. He then immediately indebted everyone to him again by providing a scene of Padawanian debauchery and indulgence unrivaled by any social function since. All this despite the fact that he had not credit one to his name, no room of his own and the leisure time of your standard issue overtaxed apprentice.

Qui-Gon had never heard a word about it. Neither had any other resident of Temple, as evidenced by the continued good health of all involved.

So when Obi-Wan Kenobi turned the Poor-Pitiful-Me look on Swed, there was no contest. A waive in the direction of the sofa, a short flurry to clear a small bookshelf and Obi-Wan was ready to launch his counterattack on the Allocations office. He dialed up the staff on Swed's vid, recognizing Rigger as the Kat's sharp, dark face flickered into existence; his ears perfectly centered and forward. "Allocations main desk."

"Hi there. Obi-Wan Kenobi. I just thought I'd let you know that my room is vacated. When can I come down to start working on getting a new one?" Obi-Wan was perched on the edge of the desk, cross-legged, and leaning back slowly. It was a very surreal thing to do to someone on a vidphone. If you could keep your balance, you just slowly disappeared from view.

An unreadable look flicked across Rigger's face for a moment before he composed himself. "Your new room assignment has already been made. I'll transmit it to your location," Rigger informed him with a small smile before disappearing, to be replaced by readout.

"All right, Kenobi! The Force is with you for once." Swed was genuinely happy for his friend.

"Yeah, for once." Obi-Wan scanned the document for the pertinent information, lost his balance and hit the floor hard. "I don't believe this." He was back on his feet and calling for a hardcopy in a flash. "Swed, I'll be back. I have to go see to something." He snatched up the printout and went looking for his master and some answers.

"Good day, Obi-Wan. I was wondering when you'd be along. Where are your things?" Qui-Gon was just clearing up the dishes from his late lunch.

Obi-Wan stepped in and took over the task, "at Swed's. He's letting me crash with him." A little terse, that, but at least he hadn't shouted.

"Well, no need for that. I just moved a few things into storage, and the second room will do nicely for you," Qui-Gon went to sit at his desk in the sunny alcove beyond the common area. "That's what it's there for, after all."

"I know what it's there for."

Qui-Gon gave his Padawan a hard look, resisted the urge to use the Force to see what was wrong. Digging the facts from the boy's mind would only be counterproductive. "Good. Then it should come as no surprise to you when I install my Padawan in the room designated for Padawan installation."

Obi-Wan folded his hands behind his back. He took a deep breath. He reminded himself that he still had a lot to learn in the arts of diplomacy. Only then did he allow himself to speak. "What brought this on, Master?"

"Lrakin Rilka was telling me about all the warm bodies she had to shelter and the fact that there just wasn't enough rooms to go around anymore. I thought about that. It's a tough job, dealing with all the needs that must be met within the confines of the Temple. Then I figure, 'Oh, you're one to talk. You're one of the biggest problems she has.' They've been having to find boxes and closets to cram my Padawan in for, what, nine years now?" Qui-Gon pulled up a file on the dataset. "Look at all these applications you send in. Clothes, food, housing, all of these things are in my allocation, you know. I'd be more than happy to help you with all that. Having your allotment put on card access must be incredibly time consuming."

Obi-Wan reminded himself about the diplomacy thing again. "Yes, Master."

"Yes Master what?"

Yes, Master it is incredibly time consuming. That is why I do it on my own time. Do you suppose you'd have time free to help me go down and replace my boots? These are done for."

Qui-Gon glanced down at the date, mentally shuffled through his schedule and offered "Thursday, after lunch?"

"Um, sorry, they'll be here tomorrow. I put in the request when we got back from freeing slaves again. Besides, Lrakin Rilka has changed the system now. I'll not need your help with these things in the future."

"You're being very difficult. I most heartily do not approve." Qui-Gon stood and went to the window. "These are all things that you could have brought to me, Obi-Wan. You come to me so readily for learning. Why don't you want my help in living?" His tone was very slightly hurt.

Obi-Wan double-checked his shielding before mentally screaming *BECAUSE YOU'VE NEVER GIVEN A DAMN ABOUT HOW I LIVE!* He clamped down on that rage, calmed his mind, calmed himself. Breathing. Breathing is good. "I don't know, Master." Tone even, properly deferential.

"Well, think about it while you go get your things. You are moving into your quarters. Now. This is not a suggestion."

Swed said not a word when Obi-Wan came to collect his things. He just gave a wave of encouragement and turned back to his studies. When he walked into Corubia's quarters, he handed her the reassignment slip, went to get Dauhge and came back for the damnable document. She read over it a second time, then let out a low whistle. "Took him long enough."

"This isn't funny, Cor. I can take care of myself." Obi-Wan retrieved his paper.

"And so could Oruban before she got moved in with Melik," Corubia pointed out.

"Yeah, but Rilka MADE Melik do it. Look, it says on the assignment slip 'At request of the Master'. I doubt Oruban's did." Obi-Wan asked.

"Actually, it said 'By order of Lrakin Jackee Rilka'. Apparently Rilka made the change, then badgered and threatened until it was carried out. I helped Oruban move, and she was griping about Rilka in six different languages. You're just being stubborn at this point. You didn't ask to stay with Qui-Gon because it was too petty. Okay, thin, but acceptable. He never offered because you always kept the situation quiet. Fine, you knew it wouldn't last forever. Nine years is a good, long time to pull the wool over a Master's eyes. He's been in those quarters for how long now? It was going to come up sooner or later. You've finally been invited, so accept. It's not like you have a real choice in the matter. It's your quarters, too, now. You have the paperwork to prove it. No big deal. No hassle, no stress and you can stop eating out of the common room caterer. No more life on a credits card. Do you know how silly that looks?" Corubia asked.

"What looks silly?"

"You, running around like you do, Padawan braid flapping for all the world to see but living like you don't have a friend to lean on. What you're doing here is what the Knights curse loud and long about. You'll have plenty of time to develop your lone-man lifestyle after you take the Trials. That's at least three years from now. Shouldn't you be enjoying what time you have, knowing somebody is looking out for you?" Corubia took his face in her hands. "They're the only family we get."

"What is it about women and this whole family thing?" he laughed.


"La'Karata Nurian said almost the same thing to me, not a month ago. 'Qui-Gon may be the only family you have.' I know better than to ask for what I won't get." The bitterness in his voice was ugly, sickening. "Why, under any sky you name, would Qui-Gon treat me like I'm family? And what would I know about having a family anyway? I'm nobody. When the time it takes to look out for me starts outweighing the work I can do, he'll hate me. He'll resent being burdened with me and then there won't be anyone in the galaxy I can even pretend holds me in their heart." The sob caught him by surprise. Breathe. "I have to go."

The door slid shut. Corubia lifted the comm link out of her robes. "Did you get that?"

"Loud and clear. Thank you, my dear girl."

"My pleasure, Master Qui-Gon. Anything for that boy. Skies above know, he's worth it."

"Now we just have to get him to think so," Qui-Gon chuckled.

"See, now, that's your job, Master. I'm just a lowly little Padawan here."

Obi-Wan thumbed the suite door open and stalked into his new room. It was clean. It was carpeted. There was a window. Heaven. It had Dauhge's tank burbling on the shelf next to the desk. A note was attached to it, saying "Welcome home". Obi-Wan recognized Corubia's handwriting. *I'm going to kill her.*

He dropped his pack next to the dresser and started putting things away. Each article placed was like a coal on his pyre. He took his box of not-all-that-valuables to the shelves that ran floor-to-ceiling in several rows and columns behind the desk. Oh boy, this was going to be sad.

He put his Feathers of Heaven box on a topmost shelf, out of harm's way.

He set a holo projector base at eye level.

He put the pale green cluster of crystals that Qui-Gon had given him on his eighteenth birthday on a shelf towards the middle, where it would catch sunlight. They warmed up quickly and began the soothing hum and ring for which they were so prized. This was his only true 'valuable'.

He put Dauhge in his tank and fed him.

He took his toiletry bag into the bathroom. Toothbrush in holder, shaving kit in cabinet, sundries in sundry places. Back to the bedroom.

Boots off, beside bed. Lightslate on desk, lightsaber on bedside table. That was it.

"I told you to bring your things here and move in." Qui-Gon was standing in the doorway.

Obi-Wan kept his back to him. "I did."

Qui-Gon made a slow circuit of the room. He paused to tap on Dauhge's tank. He smiled at the crystal. He opened each drawer of the dresser to check the contents. He turned to face his Padawan. Obi-Wan briefly considered turning his back on his master. He settled on staring at the floor.

"Didn't you used to have some kind of gravity maze?" Qui-Gon asked, referring to a physics puzzle Obi-Wan had been fascinated with some months before.

"Traded it."

"For ..."

"Jenji does really good work, but she never works for free. So I ..." It was too humiliating to try to explain. He went to the bookshelf and switched on the holoprojector. Qui-Gon came to look at it. It seemed to be an image of the Spiral Stone garden on a moonlit night. A miniature Obi-Wan was making his way up the spire in perfect form.


A sunny path in a garden, Corubia sitting beside it with a lap full of blossoms. She slowly looked up, smiled and waved at the viewer.


A swirling blue background, Obi-Wan standing, hands on hips, an exasperated look on his face. He looked frustrated, lonely, tired and very young. He looked just like he'd done three all-nighters and was headed for a fourth. A figure came in from the background and wrapped his arms around Obi-Wan's waist. They hugged, both facing the viewer. The weariness faded from Obi-Wan's features and gave way to a contented smile. Qui-Gon was transfixed by the image of himself hugging his Padawan.

"When was that?" he asked softly.

"During the final round of the obstacle competition a few months ago. You remember there was all that aerial stuff I was having a hard time with? Well, Jenji was watching me trying to work it out and caught that. I had to have it. I just ... had to." Obi-Wan switched the holo off. "She does really good work, so I traded her my puzzle for it. She added the other two for my nameday."

"This is everything? All that you have?"

"Yes, Master. Everything in the world that I care about is in this room."

Qui-Gon didn't miss the implication. "I think it's time we discussed the nature of our relationship."

"Yes, Master."

"I have to see Master Gallia this evening, but tomorrow morning we WILL have this conversation."

"Yes, Master."

Qui-Gon left for his appointment. Obi-Wan took a deep cleansing breath and fell back flat onto the floor. The ceiling was done in a pattern of pale swirls. *He's gonna kill me about that holo. One night left to live. That's plenty of time. What to do? What to do?*

Moments later he was out the door and headed for the Common Room.

The Common Room was halfway between the dining hall and the training center. It was the hub of social interaction for the lower levels of the Jedi hierarchy, mainly dominated by the Padawans currently in the Temple. Obi-Wan didn't make it down much, so his entrance brought a round of greetings and offers of refreshments. He sat down at one of the many tables and was soon involved in a discussion of a question someone's master had posed.

"What IS the nature of evil? Is it an inherent part of the sentient soul? Is it a fiction created by society to explain the actions of those unable to accept the mores of that society? What defines an action as good or evil?" This was from Swed. He had the grace to not ask Obi-Wan how things had gone with Qui-Gon.

"I think it's part of the circle created by all life," Obi-Wan offered. "A principal part in the duality of nature. Without it, there could be no good. There would be no basis of comparison."

The conversation went more eclectic from there, drifting to murderers, philanthropists, and the concept of the Sith. Obi-Wan found himself most often arguing for the same points as Juka Mora, a young humanoid he knew only a little. Juka had a creamy white complexion, with pale pastel swirls and spots. His body was well toned, slender and inviting. Over the course of the evening, Obi-Wan had gathered that Juka was inclined to invite him for more private entertainment. It also became clear that Juka had a room of his own.

Obi-Wan went to fetch a round for his table. When he returned, everyone got quiet so quickly that it was obvious they had been talking about him. "What?" he smiled.

"Oh, Swed was just saying he thought Qui-Gon might have a little competition," Juka smiled.

"Really? From who? What's going on?" Obi-Wan doled out the drinks and took his seat again. His face was carefully neutral.

"From Juka. Obviously." Jinji grinned from the other side of the table.

"For what?" Obi-Wan let the question hang in the air just long enough. "For ME? Ha! As if I even register on Qui-Gon's radar!"

"So the crush goes on unrequited?" Juka teased.

"Well, it's not love undying, right Swed?" Obi-Wan winked at his friend. It wasn't lying. Not really.

"Right, Kenobi. Well, I guess I'm gonna be turning in."

Others voiced the same feeling and the party began to break up. Kenobi was not the only one to leave the room in company.

Later that evening, Obi-Wan tucked the covers around himself and his friend, snuggled down and smiled. *Problem solved. Qui-Gon will never need worry about sheltering me. I WILL take care of myself, whatever it takes.*

Somewhere higher up and to the south, Qui-Gon tossed in his sleep.

Obi-Wan awoke to the sound of a calm, insistent chirping from the direction of his clothes. He opened one eye, fixed on his comm link and retrieved it using the Force. *That's so handy ...* "Kenobi."

"Padawan, I believe we were meant to have a conversation this morning." Qui-Gon sounded very ... odd.

Panicked, Obi-Wan looked around for a clock, then reached over and grabbed Juka's wrist. The report from the chronometer was not good news. "I'm sorry, Master. We forgot to set the crono."

"Who are you talking to, Obi-Wan?" Juka woke up to retrieve his wrist.

"It's Master Jinn. I have to go. I'm really sorry." Obi-Wan was hopping into his boots. "Master, I'll be right there." He tugged his robes on in record time and was ready to go.

"Are you in trouble, Obi-Wan?"


"What does he want to talk to you about?" Juka was crawling out of bed at this point.

"The nature of our relationship. I think I'm probably dead." Obi-Wan turned to face his bedmate. "I don't want you to think I stayed here just to hide from him."

"I don't care why you stayed. You wanted a place, I provided." Juka grinned lopsidedly. "It's not like anything happened."

"Yeah, well ... wish me luck."

Qui-Gon was sitting on the long sofa in the central area. He was stretched out comfortably when Obi-Wan entered and stood before him. The Padawan folded his hands behind his back and delivered his master a mild, attentive look. "How may I help you, Master?"

"You may help me by telling me what the problem is." Qui-Gon was in no mood to be mystical or wise.

*Uh-oh.* "Have I done something wrong, Master? Failed to serve you in some way?" His voice was even and soft, a pup showing his belly to the alpha male and hoping for the best.

"No. Not once in all your years with me have you ever failed in your duty to me as your Master. You see that I eat regularly, sleep comfortably, have a clean and restful living space and a partner I can count on in any battle or forum." Qui-Gon steepled his fingers.

"It is my honor to do so, Master."

"Why do you do it? What makes you think you are called upon to look after me like this?"

"It is the duty of the Padawan ..."

Qui-Gon cut him off. "Fuck Padawan. Fuck Master. Fuck duty and service in all its myriad forms. You, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Why are you doing this? I don't require it of you. You would certainly be trained even if I cleared up my own messes. You would gain your learning if you had parked your butt on the sofa ten years ago and never lifted a finger to help me. Somehow. I'm not sure how I would have done it, but I am a stubborn man. If I set out to teach a log how to duel, I'm sure it would be able to defend itself when I was done.

"You, however. You act like I hate you. Like I've beaten you down and hurt you. Duty this and honor that. Don't you want to be my apprentice, Obi-Wan?" Qui-Gon delivered these words with increasing heat.

Obi-Wan stared at the floor. *I will not cry. I will not cry. I don't deserve any better than to be sent away. I will not cry now that I've finally failed.*

//Failed what, Koateleu?//

*SHIT SHIT SHIT!* Obi-Wan slammed his mental shields closed, cutting off even that deep and abiding connection to his master's thoughts.

Qui-Gon cleared his throat. "Failed what, Obi-Wan?"

"Well, you, of course. I don't really worry about failing anything else. I've finally become more trouble than help. More bad than good. I'm sorry I let this happen, Master. Please don't send me away yet. I would ..." Obi-Wan stopped to breathe and steady his voice. *No crying.* "I will serve you perfectly if I get the chance, Master."

Qui-Gon was off the couch and had Obi-Wan by the braid, twisting it around his fist as he dragged Obi-Wan to the bathroom. He turned his apprentice so that they were both facing the mirror. Obi-Wan suffered all in silence.

"What do you see, Padawan?"

Obi-Wan collected his wits and looked. "Your hair is a little frizzy this morning. You didn't get much sleep; your eyes look tired. Ow."

Qui-Gon raised his hand to smack Obi-Wan's arm again if needed. "What do you see?"

Another deep breath. Again he focused on the image reflected back at him. *I hate these tests.* "You look very angry, as if I'd killed your pet. Like I did something so bad that you can't forgive me."

"Damn you! That is my Padawan there! At least have the decency to acknowledge him in my presence!" Qui-Gon had Obi-Wan by the chin now, turning it so the light fell on a faint line near the temple. "See that scar? He got that saving my life. As I recall, this particular one came from carrying my unconscious body to safety through the streets of Alderass City when a rogue faction had chosen me as their scapegoat. He almost lost his ear that time. There are probably dozens of scars with similar stories all over his body. This life has been lain on the altar of sacrifice every day for ten years to serve and protect me. Why? I know you want to be a Jedi Knight, but there hasn't been a Padawan like you since ... there might not have been one like you before."

Obi-Wan was confused, found he could not answer.

"I thought, I HOPED some of it might be that you cared for me, that you saw me as a person you could cherish, be with, enjoy on some level. Why do you offer yourself to me so willingly? What is going on here?" Qui-Gon let go of Obi-Wan. "Well?"

Obi-Wan opened his mouth to say something, anything. A wild, high laugh escaped him. He clapped his hand over his mouth. It didn't help. Laughter bubbled up out of him, crippling him. He sank to his knees. Still his breath hitched, cramping his muscles. He curled up into a ball on the floor, laughing. *I will not cry. I will not cry. I may die of hysterics, but by all the skies in the galaxy, I will not Not NOT cry.*

He couldn't have been more wrong. The tears were spilling out, hot and stupid. His chest was empty and aching. Sobs wrenched out of him. Then he was laughing again. He managed to look up at Qui-Gon. "Would you believe, I want you to like me?" Obi-Wan went off on another gale of laughter.

"Tell me you're kidding." Qui-Gon sounded less than amused.

"Nope. I wanted you to remember me after I was gone. You mean so much to me. You're the only person I could trust, so I didn't want to lean on you too much. I still don't. I don't want to use up whatever space I've earned with you, Master."

"You really believe that drivel you spout about earning your keep, being of use so I don't hate you. You silly, sweet, moron." Qui-Gon smiled. "Why do you think I train you?"

"You have to. I'm your apprentice."

"Oh and you don't think I could get out of having an apprentice? Did it completely slip your mind that I chose you? That I asked to be able to train you? There was no small amount of squabbling when your name came up for apprenticeship." Qui-Gon handed Obi-Wan a hand towel to dry off on.

This small kindness completely undid Obi-Wan. He sobbed into the washcloth for long minutes, the sound echoing on the tiles. The cloth was soaked before he could answer. "That's not what I heard. I heard you didn't want an apprentice at all. Least of all me, I'm sure."

"No, Kenobi. I wanted no apprentice except you. They could find no other to equal your potential. You've done yourself a great disservice, believing I taught you only because I had to."

Obi-Wan shook his head. "I don't believe that, really. I just can't think of any other reason you'd allow me to be near you. Or to bed you."

"This is not about sex, Padawan," Qui-Gon's voice was thick and dark.

"I'm sorry, Master. Please, I'm sorry. Just forget I said that, okay?" Obi-Wan was babbling, panicked. *Oh please shut your MOUTH, Kenobi!* He clenched his jaws together and let the tears flow. He lay there, limp and trembling. He felt Qui-Gon kneel down beside him.

"Obi-Wan, please. I want to help you, I must help you. I can't bear to see you this way."

"I'll go. I'll just go in the other room, we'll close the door and tonight none of this will have ever happened." Obi-Wan pushed up off the floor on to his knees and tried to stand.

Qui-Gon was having none of it. "Be still."

Obi-Wan froze. Then strong arms came around him and pulled him close. He lay his head down on Qui-Gon's shoulder and tried to slow the sobbing. "It's not true, you know. I never wanted to be a Jedi Knight."

"What? There was nothing to indicate ... "

"Oh, I guess I said that wrong. I WANTED to be a Jedi, but I was pretty sure I wouldn't be allowed to be trained. Master Torlamin always told me how close I was to being sent out of the Temple, that she was probably the only person who would ever take me as a Padawan. She pushed me so hard! I thanked her for it later, but, well, at the time I figured I'd end up in the AgriCorps or on some little remote world making things grow. I liked the gardens when I was little. I was good at them." Obi-Wan had regained some control of his breathing as he spoke.

"And then what happened?"

"Well, I had other teachers, then the prelims started up. I just went through them, you know, doing my best, trying not to fail too badly. I figured it might help me to get a place with the Healers or something. Then they sent me to the Council to receive my assignment and ... "

"And I was standing there arguing a blue streak with them."

"You looked so angry, but all I could think was 'That's Master Jinn. Maybe they've asked him to fix me.' I was so grateful that I might be allowed to try, I swore I'd be everything you ever needed or wanted in a Padawan. I've really tried, Master, every day of my life since you took me as your Padawan I've tried to live up to it."

"Live up to what?"

"Listen to how this sounds. 'Padawan Kenobi. Apprentice to Master Qui-Gon Jinn'. I was supposed to be Obi-Wan the Farmer or Miner or something. I've tried to live up to what you, the best Jedi Master in the Temple, must expect from his student. I know I'm nowhere close. I've stopped trying to be the best at anything. I just don't want you to forget me."

Qui-Gon pushed Obi-Wan back and looked him in the eye. "Best Master in the Temple?"

"Okay, not according to the Rate and Rank. I'd be off a couple on that. But in my humble opinion? Yes. That would be you. Who else could have kept me in the good favor of the Order all these years?" Obi-Wan pushed up off his master. "Look, I need to change clothes. Can we continue this in a bit?" Obi-Wan picked himself up off the floor and made his way into his new room.

Qui-Gon sat where he was, feeling the body heat fade, the tears begin to dry from his nightshirt. *I'm not a monster, Obi-Wan. I'm really not. I wish I was free to show you all there is within my heart.*

A movement in the next room caught Qui-Gon's eye. Obi-Wan had wasted no time getting out of his day-old robes and into a set of soft pj's. The rich royal blue did something absolutely unspeakable to his eyes, transforming them from mere organs of visual input to something otherworldly and sensual in the extreme. Qui-Gon smiled. *He has no idea how I see him.*

Qui-Gon thought back to the day Obi-Wan had been given to him as his new Padawan. He had looked so bright and earnest, so willing to please, so different from any Padawan Qui-Gon had taught before. Different, but this time in a good way.

*I was so determined to give him all he deserved in an education. Why did I never think to give him affection, love, comradeship? Why did I not invite him into my home? He's the one who makes it a home to me, anyway. He belonged here from the beginning. Jinn, you are an idiot.*

In reality, he had thought to do all of those things. Had always intended and tried to be a caring, thoughtful Master, but things got in the way. Never enough time to do the things that must be done, much less the things he wanted to do. Clearly, the care of Obi-Wan must now fall into the former category rather than the latter. Clearly so, come hell or high water.

*Assignments, studies, missions, duty, sleep, all the things that make life roll by all to fast. One day you wake up and you're in love with your Padawan. One day you wake up and he's old enough to deal with all the things you knew were coming, planned for, knew would have to be dealt with because of mistakes that were made early on and out of your control. And now you find out, day late, credit short, that the damage is just as bad as you thought it would be. Now, old man, are you ready to do right by him, do right by your Obi-Wan and see him through this? He needs your help, needs you to be there while he heals from wounds neither he nor you could defend against. Hell, you couldn't prevent some of the hurts because you caused them yourself!*

"Master, what would you like for breakfast?" Obi-Wan called.

"Well, what do you like for breakfast, Obi-Wan?"

"Um, I can make you whatever you want, Master." There was a clatter Obi-Wan sat some dishes down on the table. He came over and put his head in at the door.

"Answer the question."

"Do you mean, what do I like best? Uh, fresh selthuri melon and sweet rolls. Hot tea with sugar and milk. Why?"

"I don't think I've ever had selthuri melon. Why is that? We've had breakfast together at least a thousand times. We usually have the same thing. Why don't I know what you like for breakfast?" Qui-Gon was genuinely upset by this gap in his knowledge.

"What do you want me to like, Master?"

"Would you please STOP that?" Qui-Gon rubbed at his eyes, smearing dampness onto his sleeve. *How could I have let him go on thinking he NEEDED to be this way?*

"Yes, Master." Obi-Wan folded his hands behind his back and studied the floor before his feet.

Qui-Gon put his head down on his upraised knees, tried to devise an answer to his question. *Am I able? Did Arjet do right by choosing me to care for and educate this precious jewel of a human being?*

A fresh set of silent tears soaked into his sleeves as he examined himself, his motivations, his abilities. *Yes,* he decided. *I can do this. I will do this. I will do it well and good, no matter what it does to me. I will give him what he needs. What is more, I swear by every sky I could name that I will give him what he deserves.*

"Master, may I be excused to see about breakfast?" Obi-Wan's question broke Qui-Gon's train of thought.

Qui-Gon's head snapped up. "Have you just been standing there? Don't answer that. Yes. Of course. Make whatever you like."

Obi-Wan's heart leapt at those words. The perfect opportunity to soothe some of his master's ruffled feelings. He began dialing up ingredients on the caterer, then set about preparing the meal by hand. He knew the meal he was preparing was simple, but he had some confidence in his skills as a cook. He also knew Qui-Gon's preferences and played on that knowledge. Soon the table was set with toasty-warm hotcakes, mixed berries in sweet cream, thin sliced, lightly fried fetura strips, two kinds of juice and cav. He also put out two different kinds of syrup. He knew Qui-Gon preferred a mix of the two, but hadn't been able to work out the proportions yet. He surveyed the table and found himself longing for a simple flower arrangement. How Corubia would have laughed to see him like this. "Master, breakfast is ready."

"Oh. Thank you, Obi-Wan."

"I'm not trying to rush you, but I made hotcakes and they're getting a shade cold here."

"You did what?" Qui-Gon came out and stood by the table, staring. Obi-Wan moved to pull his chair out. "Where's the selthuri?"

"Oh! I'm sorry! I'll get some right away." Obi-Wan dashed the five steps to the catering unit and punched in the code he could (and had) type in his sleep.

"Obi-Wan I didn't mean ... "

"Just one minute, I'll be right there," Obi-Wan called over his shoulder. *Come on, come on!* The packet slipped out of the slot and Obi-Wan broke the container open. Short work with a kitchen knife and spoon, slices onto plate and he sat the fruit by his master's plate in less than the requested sixty seconds.

"Obi-Wan, I meant ... why didn't you make the breakfast you like?" Qui-Gon's voice took on his 'instructive' tone.

Obi-Wan took a moment to think, hands going to the small of his back from years of ingrained reaction. Honest answers. *Come on, Kenobi. Just give him the right answer, the truth.* "You were clearly upset. I wanted to do something to make you feel better, so I ... uh ... well, I cooked what I knew you liked."

"And you say you're an inadequate Padawan?" Qui-Gon quirked his eyebrow up and began mixing his syrups. Once again, Obi-Wan watched carefully. Once again, he could see no relationship to this mixture and the last he had observed.

"Master, I make no judgments on what sort of Padawan I am. That is for your part." Obi-Wan clenched his fingernails into his palm. The little jolt of pain kept him steady.

"But you do pass judgment on yourself. Sit down and eat before it gets cold."

Obi-Wan obeyed and Qui-Gon followed his own command. They ate in silence, a quiet which continued until Obi-Wan had dried the last dish and put it away. Then Qui-Gon asked "why don't you think you're a good person, Obi-Wan?"

Obi-Wan choked, recovered and stared at his master. "I'm not a good person?"

"That's not what I said. Look at me!" Qui-Gon came and put his arms around Obi-Wan. "That isn't what I said and it isn't what I meant. You ARE a good person. I just want to know why you don't think you are."

Obi-Wan reached up and ran his fingertips over Qui-Gon's beard. He wasn't nearly so calm as he had thought. The hysterics from earlier that morning were just a whisper away. The panic in him rose, pushing the truth past his lips in a rush. "I just feel so cold inside. Look." He opened his mind to his master, lowered his inner shields and showed Qui-Gon that achy, empty place that ate at him in the night. "See? I'm hollow. There's nothing in me worth having. I'm only as good as the work I can do." This was said in total honesty, without a scrap or shadow of depression or maudlin self-pity. The exact same way as if Obi-Wan had said the sky was blue on Coruscant.

//Let me show you what that place is for.// Qui-Gon leaned down and with all the delicacy at his command, kissed Obi-Wan full on the lips.

Obi-Wan's heart swelled and seemed to fill that horrible blackness.

He slipped his arms around Qui-Gon's neck and leaned into the embrace, molding their bodies together. His erection was trapped between himself and his master.

It was not alone.

Qui-Gon wrapped one arm tight around Obi-Wan's shoulders and scooped his legs up in the other. Holding the younger man close to his chest, Qui-Gon made his way towards the bedroom.

"Where are we going, Master?" Obi-Wan felt dangerously close to another laughing fit.

"Putting us where we want to be," was the reply. A bump and bounce later, Obi-Wan was face-up on Qui-Gon's bed. "All right, enough melodrama for one morning." He quickly began disrobing and raised an eyebrow at Obi-Wan. "Well?"

Obi-Wan was not so easily convinced. "Just what kind of Padawan do you think I am?" he demanded with mock indignation.

"The kind with a stiffie and too many clothes on. Now drop those trousers or have it done for you." Qui-Gon smiled down at his 'captive'.

Obi-Wan grinned and obliged. Slowly. His fingers played down the buttons of his top, toying with each one before slipping it free. He shrugged in a long, exaggerated motion that left the shirt in a rich blue puddle behind his head. It continued to do that amazing thing to his eyes.

Next, he tugged the drawstring of his pants loose, put his right foot flat on the bed and lifted everything up to slip the garment off. An arch of hip, flick of foot, and they hung from Qui-Gon's head. That did it. The Master pounced.

Their mouths met in a hot, long sucking kiss that curled Obi-Wan's toes into the bedsheets as if that was the only thing keeping him grounded. Their cocks rubbed and slipped together as they ground their hips, rocking, arching, pressing for just the right touch, just the right sensation.

Qui-Gon sat back on his knees and opened the oil. Obi-Wan spread his legs eagerly, ready.


Qui-Gon laughed, rubbing the oil into Obi-Wan's stomach and inner thighs where he had poured it. "A bit cold, then?"

"You might say that!"

Qui-Gon continued laughing as he drew his Obi-Wan into another kiss. The laughter was soon replaced by low growls and moans of desire. The slippery body beneath him made use of the strategic advantage by planting his feet more firmly and thrusting up against Qui-Gon's weight. The heat they generated warmed the oil quickly, increasing the pleasure tenfold.

Which turned out to be about threefold more than Obi-Wan could stand. He grabbed Qui-Gon around the shoulders, thrust hard and fast, screaming his orgasm into his hair.

This just about did it for Qui-Gon. He tucked his cock between the quivering thighs and bore down hard, thrusting, pushing, moaning his need and release. With no further ado, Obi-Wan's sighs drew him into the orgasmic abyss.

They clung together, sweaty and panting for a long moment. Qui-Gon suddenly identified the sputtering noise beneath him. He pulled his hair back, clearing it from Obi-Wan's mouth. "Sorry."

"I've suffered worse." Obi-Wan was tingling in new and interesting areas and felt rather forgiving at this point. They lay still, waiting to get control of their bodies back.

After a long moment, Qui-Gon rolled off and pulled Obi-Wan up onto the pillows. "Well, I think that was pretty nice."

"Yeah, that was good," Obi-Wan agreed, snuggling into Qui-Gon's chest.

"But I have to tell you, it wasn't spectacular."

"Yeah. Too quick," Obi-Wan agreed. "We'll have to try it again some time."

Qui-Gon leaned down and planted a kiss on Obi-Wan's head. "No time like the present."

Obi-Wan groaned. "You can't be serious! I can't!"

"Really? I can." Qui-Gon took Obi-Wan's hand and guided it down to his already-stiffening member.

"You're gonna be the death of me," Obi-Wan complained.

"Yeah, but what a way to go. Just relax, Koateleu. I'll show you," and Qui-Gon turned Obi-Wan onto his stomach.

Obi-Wan curled his arms up under the pillows, relaxing obediently. "I don't think this is going to work, Master. I mean, I'm here for you all the way, but I have all the tumescence of a wet noodle right now."

"The more you talk, the more I realize just how young you really are," Qui-Gon murmured in his ear. "Trust me, Obi-Wan. There is so much I want to share with you yet. This is only the beginning."

Trust. Well, Obi-Wan supposed he could come up with a little trust here. He trusted Qui-Gon with his life almost every day. Why not trust Qui-Gon with his desire?

Strong fingers worked into Obi-Wan's shoulders, massaging them gently, sensually. Hot, sucking kisses trailed along his neck and spine. Qui-Gon tugged his legs apart and knelt between them, trailing fingertips down his back, touching everywhere, long, slow, petting strokes. A lick and tickle of beard to the small of his back made him shiver. "Aha," Qui-Gon murmured.

*Aha?* Obi-Wan wondered.

Qui-Gon concentrated his attentions on that surprisingly sensitive area, scratching gently with fingernails, kissing and sucking along the hollows of spine, then kneading and rolling with the palms of his hands. Obi-Wan writhed, twisting under the touches. He was surprised at the quality and intensity of sensation his master created within him. "Skies above," he breathed.

"Didn't know you had a little hot spot here, hmm?" Qui-Gon murmured.

"Yes, Master."

"Stop that."

"Sorry, it's a reflex. Ooh, like that. Don't stop, this is wonderful."

"Then let's remember our agreement. This has nothing to do with that" Qui-Gon slid his hands between Obi-Wan's thighs and pressed up and inward, searching for his prostate from outside his body.

*When did I agree to that?* Obi-Wan wondered. Then a sensation took over his body, causing him to quiver with desire and heat.

"Turn over, Koatel," Qui-Gon whispered. "See? I knew you had it in you."

Obi-Wan cracked one eye open and looked down, surprised to see what rose between his thighs like a defiant gesture. "Oh ... well," he grinned. "You're very good at this."

Qui-Gon lay himself down on Obi-Wan once more. "Tell me what you want."

"To be honest, I hadn't planned this far ahead. I came down here expecting to be dismissed from your service, you know." Obi-Wan caught a double-handful of long hair and dragged Qui-Gon down in to a hot kiss. Their tongues plundered, lips parting to accommodate the battle for dominance. Obi-Wan finally yielded under Qui-Gon's demands.

"Want to be in you. And you don't live in my service." Qui-Gon cast about, searching for the oil again.

"Want you in me. And I never believe anything anyone tells me in bed," Obi-Wan grinned, then gasped as Qui-Gon took his left nipple in his mouth, laving it gently. "Later, let's talk about that later."

Qui-Gon bit gently, stretching the sensitive nub before releasing it. "Did you ever think about piercing these?"

"Well, yeah, but I never got around to it. OH! Skies, that's good." Obi-Wan arched his hips up, opening, and felt his upper thought abilities short out. Qui-Gon worked two fingers in and out, slicking the passage, opening it gently but swiftly. Obi-Wan slid his right foot up Qui-Gon's side, over his shoulder, opening himself even further.

Qui-Gon entered him slowly, stretching him gently over his cock while his mouth worked hot kisses against his ankle and calf. Obi-Wan tried to move, speed up the pace, but found himself spread and pinned, helpless to his master's desires. "Slowly, Koatel. I want to show you something."

Obi-Wan nodded and closed his eyes, concentrating on the moment, the pleasure at feeling Qui-Gon move slowly back and forth within him. He brought his whole focus to bear on just that one thing. Then Qui-Gon began trailing gentle touches along his aching shaft, then stronger strokes, speeding his own thrusts in time to the strokes. Obi-Wan held still for as long as he could. When his control finally slipped, he rolled his body in long, slow undulations, rocking from shoulder to hip in sensual indulgence. Qui-Gon did not stop him, so he sped his motions, pleasuring himself fully within Qui-Gon's grasp and upon Qui-Gon's shaft. He felt the tension, knew release was upon him and cried out, a low, pleading sound as the orgasm gathered somewhere in his belly and rose to explode over his senses.

He was vaguely aware of Qui-Gon's fingers doing some odd *something* to him. As he caught his breath and opened his eyes, he looked down to where Qui-Gon continued to stroke him. "That's not possible," he breathed, realizing that he was still firmly erect.

"Clearly, it is possible, Koatel," Qui-Gon smiled.

"But what ... " Obi-Wan's line of inquiry was ended abruptly as Qui-Gon leaned into him, taking him in earnest. No teasing, no taunting, just straight up wanton desire. Obi-Wan slid his legs tight around Qui-Gon's waist and hung on. He was too close too the edge, too close, but he hung on, determined to see, to breath it ...

Obi-Wan watched in wonder as his partner descended into orgasm with a smile and a shout. His arms slid down around Obi-Wan's shoulders as his hips jerked spasmodically. Obi-Wan slipped his hand between their bodies stroking himself, as Qui-Gon whispered "Koateleu fretev ael an lue, Koatel."

"Yes, Qui-Gon. We belong like this," Obi-Wan agreed as his toes curled and muscles flexed, spiraling up into climax one last time.

Obi-Wan curled his fingers into Qui-Gon' s hair, tugging him back for a kiss. They both rolled over onto their sides, waiting for the higher motor functions to come back on line. They passed the time in a long, wet kiss that left them both gasping for much needed breath. Finally they just lay still and hoped for the best.

"Oh, I almost forgot. I got you a present last night." Qui-Gon got up as soon as he was able. He went to his shelf and came back with a black box.

Obi-Wan was a little taken aback. "Oh. Thank you."

"Open it."

"What? Oh, yeah, right." He lifted the lid and found a metallic multicolored cube. It was about five inches to a side and marked in rows of colored squares. "What is it?"

"Well, you liked your gravity maze so well, I thought you might like to try this. I loved it when I first got it." The cube floated up under Qui-Gon's control. He manipulated the puzzle until one side was made up of just blue squares. "So, when you get all the colors divided up, so all the sides are solid, it'll give you the next level. There are many different puzzles in it, then it brings you back to this. They're all three-dimensional logic puzzles. You have to find just the right use of the Force to solve each one."

Obi-Wan took the cube in his hand, looked, understood. "This was yours?"

"I got it long ago, when I was a Padawan. I just got it back to the original pattern last night, so you should have plenty of fun ahead of you. I have to get up, Koateleu. The Council waits for no man, even if nothing's going to happen." Qui-Gon pulled a face of annoyance.

Obi-Wan laughed and gave him a farewell kiss. He settled back and started working on his new exercise.

//Playing with your new toy.//


//It's a toy, not a training tool. Try to enjoy and relax today. I don't want you to move unless you're just going to grab a snack. You're under orders to lounge in bed and eat junk food.//


//I'm the old stodgy one. Stay off my turf and have a good time today. If you're not here when I get back, you'd better have eyewitness proof that you've been fooling around.//


//Obedience, Padawan.//

Obi-Wan snorted once, but accepted the futility of arguing. He was being given the day off whether he liked it or not. Why not just like it?

Besides, his good mood was back and he intended to enjoy it.

Go to Part 1         Part 2         Part 3         Part 4

Bonds of Choice 4: Allocating Resources

NC-17 for M/M
Het Level is None
Slash Level is Slash Smut Level is Low
Femslash Level is None
Herm Level is None

130 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Closed-Unfinished
Written October 1, 1999 by HiperBunny and Rauhnee Ranshanka

Setting: Star Wars Episode 1

Primary Races: Human

Contents: Furry. Slash (M/M). Alternate Universe, Angst

Pairings: Obi-Wan/ Qui-Gon

Notes: Disclaimers: The Boyz and most of the concepts herein belong to George "Our Heavenly Father" Lucas. Please don't smack me with a big ol' lawsuit. The songs "Crystal Ship", "Love me Two Times" and "Touch Me" belong to either the Doors or whoever finally ended up with the rights to their music. Not me, anyway. I made no money off of this.

Jim Morrison is dead, and he doesn't really make an appearance in this story, but he comes pretty honking close. Please, Mr. Morrison's spirit or his family, don't sue me either.

ACHTUNG!!! This story underwent a major re-write (added 33% to it, give or take) for the second time after feedback proved to me that I had left out some major plot points. If you are at all even MARGINALLY following this series, I do heartily encourage you to check out this re-post. You'll be missing big chunks of info that will come in handy later if you don't. Plus, there's new naughtiness to be found within. Really. If you read the next installment without this, you're going to be thinking, basically, "WHAT?"

Rauhnee's help was so amazing on this that she's been promoted to co-author on this one. She really deserves it! Rilka and the Allocations Office was written by her. I had this idea that maybe a Marine could get their butts in gear and she kindly took the job after she made a few too many comments on how bloody inefficient the Temple was and how badly they needed a Woman Marine to take over Allocations. What a lovely job she's done with it, too!

Pics are now available of Lrakin Jackee Rilka.

Big thanks go to my Padawhine Mre, who also babied this thing through post-feedback surgery. She's fearless. She lets me know when I get my characterization hopelessly incorrect ("Master, you've written Qui-Gon like a scumsucking bastard.") and is kind enough to indicate when I get it right. ("This is better, Master. I take it back.")

This was originally written under the influence of the Sith Academy. After a radical joke-ectomy, it is actually a presentable portion to the 'Bonds of Choice' storyline. Perhaps, one day far in the future, I'll share that original with you all. Like when this is all just some horrible nightmare.

Rauhnee's notes: Not much to add, but I wanted to make sure Mercutio knows how much she's appreciated after she did the unthinkable -- not only gave a major LOC with useful crits in it, but actually responded to a requested for more information. You give hope, darling. Thank you.

And Mercutio, if you're a he, I'm sorry. Educated guess.

// Qui-Gon's telepathy //
** Obi-Wan's telepathy **
* thoughts *

Blurb: Some down-time at the Temple creates a few complications such as war, famine, homelessness, Taffy Toys and (of course) sex.

Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.

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