Bonds of Choice 7:
Duets and Duality: On the Move

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

Qui-Gon settled the last of his things in his quarters and lay down on his bed for a think. Corubia and Obi-Wan had outfitted one of the rooms on the upper deck for his rooms, installed a sort of observation window in the ceiling so he could watch the stars from his bed if he chose. The flitting lights soothed his thoughts, let him relax and consider without needing to remove himself from his personal space. They had offered to make another chamber for Torlamin, but she had declined, on the grounds that she was not often on the Gannet.

That was true enough. More often than not Torlamin's duties kept her on or near Coruscant, not far from the observing eyes of the Council. No doubt she told herself that it was an honor. In fact, it showed a distinct lack of trust on the part of the Order to keep her so close. The fact that he and Obi-Wan were often sent to distant systems to solve complex problems spoke volumes to those who knew how to read the subtext.

Additionally, much of Corubia's training had taken place on or near Coruscant. Now, admittedly, there were certain health-related issues for her particular species of merbeings that had influenced the forum for her training, but it was still quite odd how often she was kept on-planet, under the training of someone else when Torlamin was sent offworld. Corubiasitting had become one of the main pastimes for Masters stationed at the Temple. The Council had even begun to pick up slack with her case, now that she was advanced far enough. Again, there was an implied honor to having the Council work with one's student. But in the subtext ... Qui-Gon sighed.

That he had failed to read the subtext regarding Rue Torlamin was weighing heavily on his mind just now.

*She's so good at hiding what it is she does. I wonder who else knows?* Well, Arjet, surely. He had a nose for that sort of subterfuge. He made a habit of keeping himself well-informed of activities within the Order. Qui-Gon could hear him now. "Ignorance is the strength of the underhanded. Maintain a lack of education in your opponents and you have all the power you need."

This seemed to be a lesson Torlamin had learned on her own.

*She wanted so much to be part of us, one of us, though she were as ill-suited to the task as any I have ever seen.* Now he wondered just what she thought Arjet was doing in his study. Nothing like what was happening, clearly. *Obi-Wan is in danger.*

That was certainly clear now.

He turned over onto his stomach, buried his head in the pillows. *It must be done now, and quickly. I can not let him go on as he is, half-informed if that. He must be instructed most thoroughly in his own abilities, more thoroughly even than I was at his age.*

Qui-Gon was more than confident that Obi-Wan would see and understand quickly what he was. If they could just get past that damned flaw! His disbelief in his own worth would have to be overcome. It had been Qui-Gon's hope to guide him slowly, let his perspective shift naturally, over time. It seemed that would be a luxury he could not afford. Well then, nothing for it. *I'll just present him with the facts and let him draw his own conclusions. And if he draws the incorrect conclusions, I'll just ... give him the answers.*

The thought galled him. Qui-Gon was not over-fond of forcing ideas and opinions on his students. He much preferred that they get the sense of achievement that came from working things out on their own. But in this instance, no mistake could be made. No matter how uncomfortable or difficult it might be to fit the ideas of being a High Potential might conflict with Obi-Wan's current self-image, he must be made to understand his abilities and the duties that came with them.

*He MUST.*

A Jedi's greatest tool, most reliable weapon, was his or her mind. More battles were fought with the intellect than in any other arena. From philosophy to history to language to science, it was information, in great quantity, that paved the road of success for himself and countless others. So it would also be for Obi-Wan. Yes, his heightened reflexes, physical attributes and battle-training would save his life. But what they would save was not Obi-Wan, Jedi Warrior, but the mind that held control over those abilities. Harbored within his body, his mind, was a treasure of wisdom and thought that would create the legacy of a great Jedi Knight.

Just as it had for Qui-Gon and others like himself.

Over the years, Qui-Gon had seen Obi-Wan interact with many other Padawans. There were few he felt truly comfortable with, though he had many acquaintances. Corubia was far and away his best friend, an association Qui-Gon encouraged as much for her benefit as his. There were others, though, that he knew to be well within Obi-Wan's circle of trust. Two, in particular, had been quite close to him for many years, though their paths did not often cross of late. *I should have made sure he stayed closer to them, * Qui-Gon chided himself. *I'll be sure to correct that, and soon. *

When first Obi-Wan had become his Padawan, he had spent much time with Swed, Jinji and Corubia. It was with them that he had come up through the ranks of the Trainees, with them that he found his bearings as a Padawan, and with them that he stood as an equal rather than a superlative. They had created a nice comfort zone for one another, helped one another in their endeavors. Jenji, a gifted artist, had often used Obi-Wan and Swed as her subjects. Corubia had orchestrated pranks on a monumental scale with them all. Swed, well, he was an odd duck even among odd ducks. Given to severe depression and overexertion, he'd needed the others to remind him to rest, to fool around, to stop thinking and working all the time.

And Obi-Wan? Well, he'd been in charge. Always. The others turned to him in times of crisis, personal or otherwise. He had never failed them or taken them down the road of failure. Sometimes the paths he'd chosen were ... less than reputable, but they were always better for the journey.

Somewhere in the last two years or so, their paths had diverged. The assignments of their respective teachers had brought them together less often and schedules had allowed them less time together when they all happened to be in the same place at the same time. It was during this period of separation that Obi-Wan's feelings of unworthiness had really begun to show itself. Qui-Gon had no doubt that it had always been there. Everyone has something like that lurking about. But clearly the approval of his Master hadn't been enough to keep those feelings at bay once his friends had somewhat faded from his life.

Or perhaps his master had simply failed to let his approval be fully felt.

Qui-Gon tossed restlessly as that thought took hold. *Have I failed him so completely? Did I do nothing to make him feel loved and cared for? *

He considered the last two years carefully, tried to understand when it was that Obi-Wan had sincerely begun to loose a grip on his own self-worth. He could trace it neatly to the root, to the exact moment when his Koateleu had sincerely faltered in his self-perception. The path was thankfully a short one, but it indicated something sincerely disturbing.

Although there had been hints and snatches of uncertainty, Obi-Wan had not really begun to loose his center until that mission to save the Kurasians. Only then, when he had taken life on his own, without Qui-Gon's comforting presence, had he begun to question his motives and ultimately himself, his worth.

Hard on the heels of that came his confession of love for Qui-Gon.

Qui-Gon mulled that thought carefully. Could their ... relationship ... come from some kind of confusion, schism in self-perception? Was it, in short, a mistake? The thought chilled him to the core. He had felt Obi-Wan's love for him, had thought it to be a clean, true emotion ... but if it were rooted in Obi-Wan's feelings of unworthiness it could not be allowed to go on.

Several questions rolled around in Qui-Gon's mind. Did Obi-Wan's declaration of love come from honest feelings? Was his current reticence to make their relationship a more permanent thing from the feelings of unworthiness he now struggled with? Or had he reached out for love, approval, in this way simply because he hadn't had much of an option at the time?

Qui-Gon drew long, deep breaths, tried to calm his heart. If Obi-Wan did not truly love him, he would accept that. There was no other option. He had loved and lost before, he would survive again, if need be. If Obi-Wan offered nothing more than what they had now, at this moment, Qui-Gon would count himself well-blessed and deeply rewarded for all time. He would hope for nothing more, but hold himself still and await Obi-Wan's pleasure with as much grace as he could manage.

Until then, there was much work to be done. A great many lessons must yet be taught before such questions could be answered. He must prepare his Padawan to handle problems much more serious and far-reaching than who he did and did not love. He was on the edge of a developmental stage that would be life-altering in the extreme. He would needed all the information available and he needed it now. This very day.

"Ignorance is the weapon of the underhanded. I must not put such a weapon into Torlamin's or any other's hand. Not to be wielded over my Koateleu. He is ready."

Qui-Gon got up off the bed and began scanning through the information he would need to impart to Obi-Wan. He would arm his student with the one weapon that could never fail him. Self-knowledge.

Obi-Wan and Corubia installed themselves in the cockpit. They laid in a switchback route to their final destination while Corubia filled Obi-Wan in on the gossip back on Coruscant and undid the Faydrus Dekk hairdo. "Do you remember that Juka Mora? You'll never guess what happened to him."

"I'm sure I won't, considering I don't recall him," Obi-Wan replied.

"What? I thought better of you than that, Kenobi. You've always remembered their names before." Corubia broke out in a huge grin. "Oh, come on. The one you picked up in the Common Room, right after you lost your apartment. Remember?"

"Oh! Oh, right, right! Cor, look. Nothing happened. I crashed out there and went back to Qui-Gon's suite the next morning, ever faithful to my Jedi morality." Obi-Wan let heavy sarcasm drip from the statement. "You know the score here. How could you even think I'd do that?"

"You're serious about it not being serious between you two?" Corubia pressed.

"Just like I want it. Oh, the sex is great, don't get me wrong! But you know I can't let it get ... complicated. He's in deep enough for both of us, but that's a luxury I can't afford. Not now." Obi-Wan stretched and popped his back.

Corubia gave him an appraising glance, then asked, "did I ever tell you the story of Ulanta and Pantreti?"

"Oh boy, why do I think there's an object lesson coming my way? You spend too much time with Yoda," Obi-Wan complained.

"Well, not so much any more, but this really does apply. See, there was this girl named Ulanta. She wanted to be a great warrior and scholar and so on, never spent any time just being relaxed and maybe taking a partner, right? So then there was this guy, Pantreti, who knew her really well, spent a lot of time training with her, in fact, he loved her. They were perfect for each other, but Ulanta wouldn't acknowledge it. One day, Pantreti declared his love for her, but she got scared and ran away. He pursued. She called out to her goddess,"

"Goddess? Come on, Cor, you're really stretching it now," Obi-Wan chuckled.

"Yeah, well, just go with it, okay? So the goddess looks down and says, yeah, I'll get you out of this, and turns Ulanta into a strong vine. So Pantreti sees this happening and calls to his god, begging for a way to be with his true partner. The god turns Pantreti into a stout tree growing near the vine. Over time, the vine grew and twined itself to the strong tree and the lovers were together for always." Corubia finished her story with a grin. "So what does that tell you?"

"Um, deities have really strange ideas of how to help out?"

"Skies, Kenobi! Doesn't that story remind you of anyone?" she exploded.

"Okay, okay. I get it. You think this is like me and Qui-Gon. So which one am I? Pantreti?"

"No, you dimwit Human Being! You're Ulanta! You're the pursued! Qui-Gon's Pantreti, 'He who pursues by standing calm and strong'! Oh, I don't know why I even bother with you!" Corubia sat and took over the flight controls.

Obi-Wan pondered that for a long moment. "Uh. Well. So, what about Juka Mora?"

"He finally passed his physical. Took him long enough. You'd think a Master like his could get him into higher form faster than that." Corubia's eyes darkened for a moment. "I'm glad we don't have to worry about that. If I had to go through status trials every year, I think I'd die."

"Yeah, and it's just dumb luck that Qui-Gon's so good he brings my records up with him. Otherwise, I'd be right along with most of the other Padawans."

"Right, Kenobi. You just tag along and Qui-Gon does all the work. I've seen the reports you two turn in. You're good at what you do, more than a perfect partner for Qui-Gon. You know what Luce said she heard her Master talking about with Master Windu? They're saying they want you and Master Jinn as a permanent team. I mean, if you want to, once you pass the Trials." Corubia turned in her chair to look at him. "Would you want to?"

Obi-Wan swallowed around the lump that had suddenly sprung in his throat. "How serious do you think they are?" He asked.

"I don't know. I only got the dirt secondhand. Why?"

"Qui-Gon asked me the same thing this morning. Do you think he's heard something concrete?" Obi-Wan turned a worried look towards his friend.

"Could be. He might have made the suggestion himself," Corubia pointed out.

"Nah. He's probably worried that he won't be able to scrape me off if the Council puts a hand in. I mean, if they offered it to me, I'd be mad to turn it down. Besides, Qui-Gon ... don't you dare repeat this. And this goes beyond that weird crush he's picked up. I think he's starting to like me." Obi-Wan blushed from top to toes.

"You THINK he's STARTING to like you? Kid, did you ever get over your assignment anxiety? I think it's pretty obvious he ..." she snapped her mouth shut. "Good day, Master Jinn."

"Good day, Corubia. Obi-Wan, I want to speak to you. Can you handle this yourself, Corubia?"

"Blindfolded, Master Jinn."

"That sounds like a good idea. Do so."

Corubia groaned and Obi-Wan chuckled as he stood to go.

Qui-Gon led Obi-Wan to the meeting room where he had been punished during their journey to Renal Sejon. Obi-Wan pushed that memory down even as Qui-Gon spoke. "Cloak, boots and socks by the door, Padawan."

Obi-Wan forced himself to keep breathing. He could withstand any punishment, any trial. He always had and always would, because Qui-Gon would never try him beyond his strength. Oh, up to the limit and hold it there for a while, but never beyond his ability. Of this Obi-Wan was quite certain.

"Sit where you will, Padawan."

Obi-Wan chose to curl up on the low ledge by the window. He pulled his knees up under his chin and wrapped his arms around his legs. What it lacked in formality it made up for in Obi-Wan's sense of security. Qui-Gon did not protest, but brought a stack of printouts to the window and settled in beside him. His countenance was calm and unreadable.

"Obi-Wan, we're going to look some information over together Information that I foolishly believed you had gathered for yourself. I don't know why I thought you would have done so. Do you know what these are?" Qui-Gon held out the sheaf of hardcopy.

Obi-Wan thumbed through them. "These are my training records, from before I was your Padawan."

"And these?" Qui-Gon handed over another stack.

"The rankings that just came out. What do you want me to do with them, Master?" Obi-Wan was utterly confused.

"Just begin with the top sheet of your files and start reading. Tell me if you have any questions. I'm going to go get us some lunch, so I'll be back soon." Qui-Gon stood and headed for the galley.

Obi-Wan sighed and began reading. The trainee's records were almost never shown to the subject. Obi-Wan wondered what he was supposed to find in them. *Perhaps there is a clue here as to what's wrong with me. Maybe they already know how I managed to slip through the system.* With that thought, Obi-Wan began reading in earnest, seeking out the kernel of knowledge that would explain which particular cosmic joke had put a Padawan braid behind his ear.

He was almost through the file when Qui-Gon returned. He threw it down in disgust and took a mug of tea from the tray. "It's not in there," he growled.

"What were you looking for, Padawan?" Qui-Gon asked.

"I don't know. Something. Look at this! 'Subject is ranked third in his group of eighty. Displays extremely high intelligence, agility, strength, mental acuity. Language skills assessed at the highest levels. Mathematics skills will need to be tested at higher levels for a true measure to be taken.' And here, a year later. 'Subject has mastered three languages in both written and spoken forms in the past year. He has been moved into a physical training group of older trainees.' And this one right before you took me as Padawan. This one, I knew about, by the way. 'Subject unsuitable for regular training. His special needs will require handling of the most demanding sort.' Where is my other assignment? There must have been records made." Obi-Wan flipped through the sheets again, almost frantic.

"What other assignment?" Qui-Gon asked.

"Wherever they were going to send me. I know they were going to put me out of the Temple, Master Torlamin made that pretty clear from the beginning. They didn't leave me in one place long enough to get comfortable. I don't know. If they hadn't been bouncing me and Corubia around together, I might have gone mad." The file was in serious physical danger, so Qui-Gon retrieved it. "Dammit! I don't understand."

Qui-Gon nodded and handed Obi-Wan his lunch plate. "So. Corubia was right. She's a clever girl, that one. You have no idea what this file says, do you?"

Obi-Wan shook his head and lit into his sandwich. "Not really. I just wanted to know where they wanted to send me before the Council pushed me off on you."

"Okay, let's try this another way. You eat and I'll read. Pretend we're talking about, oh, well I imagine you two were pretty much interchangeable back then. Imagine this is Corubia's file and tell me what you hear." Qui-Gon cleared his throat and picked up a page from the middle of the stack. " 'Subject has difficulty conforming to the level of the training group. Advancement recommended immediately.' Or this. 'Manual skills on par with projected rate. Lightsaber construction held no apparent challenges.' And this one. 'Subject accidentally memorized all texts for the coming term. Class reassignment as listed.' What does that sound like to you?"

"Um," Obi-Wan tried to compute what he'd just heard. It just didn't jibe. On the one hand, it sounded like high praise. Only, he knew it was about himself, so why would anyone be saying good things?

Qui-Gon waved the question aside and stood. He appeared to be lost in thought as he paced slowly about the room, then turned to face his student once more. "Okay, let's put it another way. With all these skills and abilities do you really think the Jedi would have let you out of their sight for a single moment? Much less put you out of training? I assure you the question was never asked, much less considered. As far as your assignment, yes, it was changed. You were assigned to someone else before they gave you to me. I had to argue long and hard to be allowed to take you, because the Master you were assigned to held considerable rank and had a great deal of pull with the Council. Only when they saw us together that first time did they understand why I was so frantic to have you. And the other Master stood aside in favor of me."

"Who?" Obi-Wan's throat was almost too dry for speech.

"Master Yoda. He was near aching to train you, but even he is subject to the Will of the Force." Qui-Gon sat again and reached out to stroke Obi-Wan's cheek. "My Padawan. Obi-Wan. Are you beginning to understand? You are no more a burden to me than breathing is. You are special and important. You really are. Especially to me. You must try to understand this if you are to overcome your Enemy. Will you try?"

Obi-Wan quirked a smile at his master. "There is do, or do not. There is no try."

Qui-Gon smiled back. "Indeed. And if we are to make it through your training, I very much need you to 'do'."

"Yes, Master. May I have some help to study all of this?" Obi-Wan was pulling the pages back into their proper order. "It is a shade overwhelming."

"Of course, Obi-Wan. And one more thing," Qui-Gon reached out lightning-quick, moving almost too fast for Obi-Wan to see. When he withdrew, the brown silk ribbon had been returned to Obi-Wan's ankle. "I don't know what that means to you, but clearly it is important. Honor me by wearing it."

Obi-Wan bowed his head obediently. "Yes, Master." His tone was deferential and low.

Qui-Gon stood, "I'm going to go check on Corubia. I'll be right back."

Obi-Wan reached down to touch the ribbon. *Now, my Pantreti, I just have to work out what I want this to mean.*

When Qui-Gon returned they began reading through Obi-Wan's file together. Qui-Gon explained every entry and what it meant on a realistic level. They took time out to stretch and just talk to each other. For the first time in two months Obi-Wan began to feel comfortable around his master again. And for the first time ever, he was beginning to gain some perspective on his place in Qui-Gon's life and in the Jedi Order.

"So now you know a little bit about yourself. This should have been explained to you long ago, when you were still a trainee. The High Potentials are a precious commodity. We are few, far between and difficult to manage, but our records show that the finest Jedi have come from our numbers."

"Is the Council made up of High Potentials?" Obi-Wan asked. "Will you take a place with them when my training is complete? Will I be expected to?" The thought was a little disheartening. Not to mention boring.

"No, Obi-Wan. The Councilors are selected on different criteria. I have no doubt that either one of us could fill a seat competently, but our abilities are best used elsewhere. Also, such a job would likely bore one of us into a coma within the month. We're an energetic lot, given to doing rather than managing. That's the greater part of the Council's job: Managing the Order. Choosing what we will and will not be involved in. Like that." Qui-Gon twisted on the seat, popping his back.

"Sounds dull."

"To us, it would be. Think of all the things you've learned how to do, just to keep busy. Those candy sculptures, your singing, dance, languages, all your refined battle skills, gardening, the higher meditations ... this sort of learning will never stop for you. It has never stopped for me. Before too long I expect you'll pick up a musical instrument of some sort. I know you teach classes at the Temple just to fill time. Most Padawans would faint dead away if someone suggested they be a Temple instructor in their spare time."

"Corubia does it, too," Obi-Wan objected.

"And who else that you know of?" Qui-Gon asked.

A moment's thought led Obi-Wan to the obvious answer. "Oh. She's one, too. What about Master Torlamin? Are High Potentials always trained by other High Potentials?"

"More often than not, but not strictly so. There are a very few Masters that have done admirable jobs at it, regardless of their own Potential. My Master was one of them. Arjet Paje is another. Torlamin is not one of us." Qui-Gon's eyes unfocused for a moment. "I'm sure this is a little overwhelming to you just now."

"Yes, Master. To say the least. It doesn't seem quite real, yet."

"Take your time with it. Let it settle within you for a while yet. You'll soon see what I mean. And you'll have plenty of time to do it in, too. That's something else you'll find out about before too long. We live much longer than another of our species can realistically be expected to. There's a trick to it, of course, one I can not teach you. But it will be taught to you soon, I believe." Qui-Gon began gathering the hardcopies up and putting them in order.

Obi-Wan sat still, thinking. His right thumb traced the pattern of his tattoo absently as he tried to think of a way to phrase his next question. "Master, there's something I want to ask. I understand if you find it impertinent and choose not to answer, but ... "

"Please ask, Koatel. I will give you the answer if I know it," Qui-Gon promised.

"The Nurians showed me that everyone has some flaw, some issue that they can not overcome by themselves. An Enemy within. What is the name of your Enemy?"

Qui-Gon sat down hard, nearly scolded Obi-Wan for asking such a thing. Then he pressed his lips together, thinking hard on how to answer. "If there were to be a word upon my arm, I think most likely it would be Pride."

Obi-Wan held his peace, hoping for a more detailed explanation.

"You see, Obi-Wan, I always knew what I was. I knew of my potential, my place relative to those around me. Long ago I came to accept for fact that there were few who could be called my equal." Qui-Gon sighed and rubbed his eyes. "For you, being different from others was a source of loneliness. I took joy in knowing I was not like the ones around me. I have striven, every day of my life, to make myself better, smarter, more capable that those I am surrounded by. I hold myself apart because I know there are few who can keep up with me.

"Additionally, I have long felt it to be true that there would never be one equal to me. At times I have met this person or that who I thought might be my equal, but for one reason or another I have yet to find someone who could accept me as I am, accept that I am different and not resent it. We are few and far between. That equals solitude. My Enemy, my Pride whispers to me that it is because I am better than them all. Sometimes I can not bear myself for being so vain."

Obi-Wan nodded, understanding.

Qui-Gon stood again, began pacing the perimeter of the room. "More often than not I find myself fighting the contempt I feel for those who will not do better, who accept 'good enough' when they could achieve perfection. This is one of the things that fuels my ongoing battle with the Order, why I seem to be so defiant. I want to change the things that are beneath us as a people and I am less than elegant when I try to do so. It is my pride, Obi-Wan, that brings me so much trouble. My conviction that everyone is lost except me and that only I know the true path." Qui-Gon could not look at his student as he admitted this.

He paused, rubbed at the floor with his toe for a moment before he continued. "Then there was Xanatos. I destroyed him, Obi-Wan. My pride made me blind to how far gone he was. I have never had the need to seek power or serve any interest other than peace. It was inconceivable that any student of mine could be otherwise. I failed to teach him properly. I can not hold him responsible for not learning. That failure should have permanently deflated my self-image ... it did, for a while. For years I believed I had finally overcome that weakness. Pure foolishness. I now see that I never shall. For how can I fail to be proud, at least a little bit, when I know I have taught one such as you?"

Obi-Wan looked up, startled.

"Please don't be upset with me, Koateleu. I swear to you it isn't the same kind of pride I felt before. I don't gloat and congratulate myself on how well I've done to teach you. Rather, I am pleased to see you becoming a person you will be happy to be. If you think this is wrong ... I'm sure I could stop. Tell me, Obi-Wan ... is it unseemly for me to feel this way? I'm afraid I don't have much experience in trying to be humble." Qui-Gon finally turned back to his student, searched his eyes for an answer.

"I'm sure you do nothing wrong in this, my Master. At least, I can't think of a reason why it should be thought wrong ... so long as you keep it this way. So long as you don't make decisions or take action based solely on those feelings ..." Obi-Wan hazarded.

"I see. I think I agree with you, my Obi-Wan. But if you see something in me that seems ... prideful, overly so, I hope you will do me the service of pointing it out to me. No one would see as well as you can," Qui-Gon reminded him.

"Yes, my Master. If you wish me to, I will. But tell me something ... even with all the troubles you've had ... the loss, the pain, Xanatos ... how is it you are still Jedi? Wouldn't the Council have seen these things in you and put you out before now?" Obi-Wan asked, trying to take the subject to something a little safer.

Qui-Gon actually smiled at that. "It is a difficult thing to be sent out of the Temple, Obi-Wan. Especially after one has reached the rank of Master. Well, not really ... .one could leave at any time. You know that. Not many do, though. Those who are not suited to this life rarely make it past being a Padawan. Those who do can rarely make it out of the ranks of the Knights unless something very odd happens. Once you've taught a Padawan, you've analyzed yourself, your motives, your needs and expectations so much and so often you either bolt or just keep going forever. There are those who say I would have done the Order a service to have bolted."

"And yet you stay, Master. You could leave the Order at any time, but you stay. Why is that?"

"Well, what else is there for me? Should I go out and take a crown, take a job, leave all the work undone that perhaps only I can do? Maybe I could get a job writing fortune cookies? I love what I do. Giving it up, leaving this way of life would likely destroy me. I bring hope, life, peace to those who can not bring it to themselves. I was given gifts, abilities, that must not be wasted. Even I am not so prideful as to think I can use those for my own profit alone. No. Beyond all pride or any amount of doubt, I know I was given these powers for a reason. So were you. Our Enemies create a lovely duality, don't you think?" Qui-Gon smiled.

Obi-Wan returned the smile. "Yes, Master. Indeed they do. I in believing I have no worth, you in believing you are more worthy than all you know. What a pair we make."

"Indeed. What a pair we would make, Koatel," Qui-Gon agreed.

The shipboard crono chimed middle evening just as they stacked the last page. Corubia and Torlamin appeared at the door. "I just got the last comm burst from Coruscant. I think we're gonna be okay on this one." Torlamin headed to the dataset and began pulling up information.

Qui-Gon went over to join her and Corubia took the seat next to Obi-Wan. She hummed a little tune and Obi-Wan blushed as he recalled the words that went with it.

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

It was a line from a cycle of meditations on the nature of the Dark Side, but it seemed strangely fitting when taken out of context. He reached over and squeezed Corubia's hand and shook his head, discouraging her.

She smiled, but stopped her song. They turned their attention to what the Masters were saying.

"The target is this moon here, not the planet itself. The environment is cold, heavy ice and snow. We'll be searching in the abandoned settlement here, and down into these canyons if we don't find what we're looking for. If we don't find the target, we'll pull back to the planet, which is a desert world." Illustrations popped up from the holoprojector as Master Torlamin spoke. "We don't expect any sort of population. Cord Random proposed that this was a drop-off point, or some kind of storage unit, so resistance, if any, should be minimal. We'll know more when we get close enough to scan."

"The main thing is that if we find anyone there, it is likely to be the Sith himself. He may have a few guards, but more likely not. Obi-Wan, you need to be ready. From the combined information of the Council and the Nurians, you will have the best chance of ending the threat he represents." Qui-Gon spoke in all seriousness.

Torlamin snorted. "Great destinies only get you a great funeral. Obi-Wan, you stick to us. We'll let you know what needs to be done."

Qui-Gon and Torlamin exchanged hard looks for a long moment before Qui-Gon spoke. "Padawans, could you go and see to preparing dinner? I must seek the council of Master Torlamin."

Obi-Wan and Corubia exchanged looks, murmured "Yes, Master," and left.

They set the table for four and were scrolling through the catering unit listings before either of them spoke. "Corubia, what's wrong?"

"Master, well, you know how she's so logical and practical? She hasn't sensed anything about what your place is in this, so she doesn't want to take the word of those blue folk." Corubia looked embarrassed.

"What do you think, Corubia? I know you have a good sense of the Living Force." Obi-Wan was worried. What if all that training had been nothing? It could be that Torlamin was right. Obi-Wan just couldn't see himself as the savior of the galaxy anyway ...

Corubia smacked him on the back of the head. "Focus, Kenobi. I had my answer the second I reached Renal Sejon. There's a sort of, I dunno, eddy or flux around you. I don't know why Master doesn't see what it is, but clearly you're central to whatever's going on here. I'll tell you this much. If I lay eyes on a Sith, I'll be the one standing right behind you."

"Gee, thanks," he joked. "Really, though. You think I can handle it?"

"You'd better, Kenobi. I don't think anyone else stands a chance."

"Qui-Gon, you can't go filling that boy's head with tales. You'll just make him nervous over nothing." Torlamin was pacing back and forth across the meeting room.

Qui-Gon sat on the window seat, in the same spot Obi-Wan had occupied. He did not make any comment.

"I don't care how many visions those primitives had, there is no way that boy is some kind of savior to the universe. He's headstrong, willful, far too sure of himself. You're only encouraging him." Torlamin made heavy gestures with her hands as she spoke. "What do you hope to accomplish? Add a little more shine to your illustrious name?"

Qui-Gon spoke softly, holding himself perfectly still. "Let's back this up a little. Willful? Sure of himself? Are we talking about the same Padawan? Just how much time have you spent with my student?"

"Oh, not so much of late, but I knew him of old. I was still teaching the trainees when he was young. I remember what a time we had teaching him his place in the Order." She continued to pace. "If it hadn't been for Corubia's influence on him, he would have been put out of the Temple years ago."

"Really," Qui-Gon said, his voice soft and mild.

"Yes, really. You'll spoil him yet, despite all my hard work. I mean, I'm sure you're doing the best you can with what you have, but really, Qui-Gon! He'll need to think about the Trials soon. Surely you'd like him to show well, even if he doesn't pass. I know you don't want another utter failure to your name." Torlamin fixed him with a cold stare.

"Do as you will with your own student, Torlamin Rue. I can do nothing about your training of her, much as I have wanted to. Never again interfere with my Padawan. If you so much as speak to him outside of my presence, I'll have you up before the Council for breech of protocol in the training of a Padawan. I may do that anyway. I am following the orders of the Council in all that I do here. You must know how unusual that is for me. If you defy me, you defy the Council. I promise you don't have the experience to pull it off." Qui-Gon stood and straightened his robes. "We will not speak of this before our apprentices. But do not forget yourself again. I am the senior Master here and will not hesitate to pull rank if that's what it takes to protect Obi-Wan. Is that understood?"

Torlamin worked her jaw once or twice. "Yes, Qui-Gon. I understand your intentions perfectly."

"That I very much doubt. Let us go to dinner before those two send out a search party." Qui-Gon led the way from the room, the picture of calm.

After a long and silent dinner, Obi-Wan went to his quarters to rest. The door slid open and he heard a familiar bubbling sound. He laughed when he found Dauhge's tank sitting on top of the bedside shelves. The little turtle was paddling as always, occasionally obscured by a note affixed to the glass.


Surprise! I thought this might be nice to have on your mission. The Council made special orders that he be brought to you. They're still having a good laugh at Qui-Gon's expense about how you and this turtle saved a Jedi Master. I guess he's part of the team now. I hope he brings you peace.

Master Paje

Obi-Wan laughed. No wonder Corubia had insisted on putting his packs away for him! Sitting on the shelf below the tank was the food and smaller 'travel bowl', as well as the other items he would need for the small reptile. He settled in to watch Dauhge, for meditation and for the quiet it brought him. After everything that had happened today, it was a much needed relaxant before he went to bed.

He had just settled when the doorchime rang. He called for it to open and came from his bedchamber to the sitting room. Qui-Gon was hovering in the doorway. "How may I serve you, Master?"

Qui-Gon tucked his hands into his sleeves and stood ramrod straight. "Has Master Torlamin tried to speak to you, Padawan?"

"No, Master."

"If she does when I am not there, you will report all details to me immediately, is that understood?"

"Yes, Master."

Qui-Gon stood still for a long moment, his gaze unwavering and hard. *This is something more than concern,* Obi-Wan decided. After another long moment, Obi-Wan folded his legs under him and closed his eyes.

"What are you doing, Padawan?"

"Well, I was just beginning my evening meditations when you arrived. I thought I'd continue with them while I waited," Obi-Wan explained.

"Waited for what?"

"I don't know. Whatever it is you want."

Qui-Gon watched him closely for a long moment, then asked the last thing Obi-Wan would have ever expected to hear from his Master. "Where did you learn to suck cock like that?"

Obi-Wan was so surprised he answered honestly. "Whores."

Qui-Gon looked ready to swallow his own tongue. "You ... what?" he finally managed.

"Yeah, after they gave us the 'don't get diplomat's daughters knocked up' class and I had my implant ... well, I'm really surprised you don't remember, Master." Obi-Wan kept his face perfectly still. "I asked you for the name of a reputable .. house of ill repute."

Qui-Gon took the three steps to the sofa and sat down hard. "You actually went?"

"You did okay the speeder for us that night, Master," Obi-Wan reminded him.


"Yes, Master."

"Your first time was with a prostitute."

"Only the best, my Master. Several of them in fact. Over a course of a few hours or so. Are you sure you don't remember?" Obi-Wan cocked his head to one side. "I charged it to your account at the Temple. You said it would be all right."

"Why? Why didn't you wait until you had someone you cared about? Why?" Qui-Gon seemed at a loss for synonyms.

"Well, I wasn't looking for a lover, Master. We were just curious. I mean, there we were, me, Cor, Jen and Swed, like ducks in a row at the back of the classroom. Don't tell me this wasn't planned, we figured that out right off the bat. All four of us listening to lessons on how to get laid the Jedi way. Even the instructor was looking straight at us, you know?" Obi-Wan actually chuckled at the memory.

The four of them had left the classroom in a daze, gone to the infirmary and gotten their birth control implants then adjourned to a secret balcony near Corubia's rooms to discuss the situation. Corubia had been the one to work it out first. "Our Masters think we're all going to fuck each other," were her exact words.

And that just hadn't set right with Obi-Wan. Although they were painfully curious about sex, they didn't want to be involved in a romantic relationship. Love would be as love would be. At that age, they'd still believed that. No need to complicate a perfectly good friendship. So Swed had looked out over Coruscant and pointed to the Jenrada district, where the finest courtesans in the Republic plied their trade. "There. We go there. Tell us how, Obi-Wan."

A long moment's consideration and Obi-Wan had done just that. It had been a wholly satisfying evening to say the least. Obi-Wan couldn't understand what Qui-Gon was so upset about.

"And what else did these whores teach you, my Padawan?" Qui-Gon's voice was strained.

"Well, that sex and love aren't the same thing. I had to get myself a little life lesson to drive that one home. Oh, and that I'm just as human as the next human, and that Jedi or not, I'm an animal, too. And animals like to fuck." Obi-Wan stretched slowly, finally understanding what information Qui-Gon was looking for. His master wanted to know, roughly, how experienced his Padawan was. Luckily for them both, the answer was 'very'.

He heard the click of boot a moment before strong hands closed around his shoulders and dragged him to his feet, pushing him backwards. *I always forget how strong he is. That's going to leave a mark.* Obi-Wan grunted as his back came into swift and solid contact with the wall behind him.

Qui-Gon's lips opened over his, tongue demanding entrance to Obi-Wan's mouth. The kiss was hard and bruising, crushing Obi-Wan's lips against his teeth. He moaned and returned the kiss just as hard, hungry to feel his partner's strength.

There were certain tendencies he had seen in his master, certain ... tastes. Something heretofore unspoken between them. "I was beginning to wonder when you'd admit to liking it like this," he smiled.

Qui-Gon's eyes went round, then narrow. "Who have you been talking to?"

Obi-Wan laughed. "I don't need to talk to anyone to notice your desires, Qui-Gon."

"Say that again."

"You heard it the first time. Now, I don't know how to tell you this, but I'm just a little tired tonight, so maybe not anything too complicated right this second," Obi-Wan let his hips lift away from the wall, slid his feet apart, raised his arms over his head. "But, if you think you can keep the love-marks in places that my clothes cover and tell me what you're after, I'm sure we can come to some sort of arrangement."

Qui-Gon's hands worked fast, stripped away Obi-Wan's tunics while his mouth renewed his assault on lips, cheeks, ears, and throat. Obi-Wan relaxed under the attention, enjoying the feel of his master's beard as it scratched trails over his skin. Something about Qui-Gon's unbridled passion held him in awe, like watching a storm rush to catch him.

Qui-Gon was murmuring softly, tone begging and demanding all at once. "Please, Koatel, I want this, want this. I swear I'll stop if you ask it. I love you, please. I want it hard and rough and I want ... "

Obi-Wan pushed Qui-Gon away for a moment. "I know you like this, but I don't want to hurt you much, okay?"

"Okay, okay, no way would I ask that of you. You are so wonderful, Koatel."

Limits set, Obi-Wan happily joined in the fray. Their robes and tunics were soon in a trail from the sitting room to bedchamber. Obi-Wan had managed to reverse their positions at some point, slamming Qui-Gon against the doorframe while kicking his boots off. Qui-Gon had moaned and gone still. *Okay, this is working for him ...* Obi-Wan caught a small bite of skin over Qui-Gon's collarbone and held him while removing his own pants. His cock was hard, aching and not a little interested in helping Obi-Wan get some of his own back. "You want this?" Obi-Wan hissed around the flesh between his teeth. He thrust himself against Qui-Gon, to emphasize his question.

"YES, yes, please Obi-Wan." Qui-Gon's hands came up, pulling his partner's head back. He yelped as Obi-Wan bit hard, ensuring a bruise for later.

He pushed back, made a little turn towards the bed, bringing Qui-Gon around and trapping him between himself and the other side of the doorframe. Qui-Gon struggled, finally slipping free as Obi-Wan became distracted by the process of removing his trousers. He made about half a step before a strong came out and grabbed his ponytail, pulling him back sharply. "Ow," Qui-Gon protested. "Easy on the hair."

"Sorry," Obi-Wan quickly released the hair and took hold of a free arm. Their shoulders hit the wall simultaneously and Qui-Gon stumbled back, blundering into the bedside table. Something fell with a crash. "Was that anything important?"

"You might want to keep an eye out for glass. I think that was Dauhge's travel bowl." Obi-Wan replied. He slipped a leg behind Qui-Gon's and applied leverage just so, tossing him to the floor. "You in me or me in you?"

"You in me first," Qui-Gon demanded.

Obi-Wan turned to his bedside table and grabbed his bath kit. After fishing about for a moment, he came up with a small vial of rose oil. Perfect. He gave his own erection a thorough coating, let his moans of pleasure roll out of him as his fingers rubbed the oil in. He reached for Qui-Gon, then pulled back, surprised. "You're that sure of yourself?" He was scandalized that Qui-Gon would come to him already prepared for the taking.

"Not sure. Just hopeful," Qui-Gon smiled, then moaned as Obi-Wan tested his readiness. "Close your eyes, Koatel," Qui-Gon whispered. "I need more than this."

"Okay," Obi-Wan agreed, sealing his eyes to the beautiful vision beneath him and opening his mind to the Force-signature it created. He pressed his cock to Qui-Gon's body, slipping the head inside, then paused, waiting for his partner's body to adjust. He felt a shift in the Force as Qui-Gon did something, then heard another deep moan of pleasure and something darker. A clatter of glass, tiny pain-spike and Obi-Wan's eyes flew open.

There were twin lines of red running down Qui-Gon's left upper arm. Faint, barely perceptible, but Qui-Gon had indeed cut himself and liked it. Obi-Wan was stunned, reflexively focusing on the injury with Force-enhanced sight. *More than this.* The blood beaded in tiny spots, glistening. Obi-Wan leaned forward, driving himself deep as he tried to get a closer look. The bright crimson against pale skin combined with the sounds Qui-Gon made were a sensual assault. Then Qui-Gon began to move under him. *I can do better than that, Pantreti.* His mouth locked in over the cuts, biting, tasting the metallic fluid as he drove hard.

"Thankyouthankyouthankyou oh skies above," Qui-Gon left Basic, switching into languages diverse and lewd. Obi-Wan was no longer capable of understanding, only need.

He drove deep and fast, utilizing every scrap of strength he had gained over the recent weeks of training, focusing down on the taste of flesh and blood, sweat and musk and the feel of Qui-Gon's tight, slick body convulsing in pleasure. Long, strong legs wrapped around him, pulling him in tighter, deeper, allowing for no escape. Obi-Wan's hips snapped forward, the force of his thrusting moved them both across the floor in increments. His mouth traveled, seeking lips, beard, nuzzling into hair, teasing and nibbling on ear before he dipped down to seize a nipple. He sucked and chewed red welts across Qui-Gon's chest as he sought the other. His fingernails dragged long, red paths down Qui-Gon's ribcage, causing him to arch and moan helplessly. Then Qui-Gon shifted his weight under him, twisted just so and he could take no more. Obi-Wan screamed as orgasm ripped through him, half-angry that it had ended, half-joyous that he might regain some of his sanity. He clung to his master, sobs of ecstasy and confusion wracking his body. **Oh skies above ... my brains are melting.**

Qui-Gon pulled him closer, let him slip free as soft, gentle lips smoothed over his eyelids. //Shh, no more. No more of that. You've had enough and so have I. Something more sweet for you, Koatel. Shhh.//

Obi-Wan curled up against Qui-Gon's chest, the gentle sounds soothing the shock and violence from him. Eddies of pleasure continued to wash through him as the aftershocks of orgasm settled down. "Come on, be careful. We need to get up, come on." Qui-Gon helped Obi-Wan to his feet. "More?"

"Gentle?" Obi-Wan suggested.

"Anything you want, Koateleu."


"Are you sure? I mean, I don't want to intrude on your space."

"You deserved better than that," Obi-Wan whispered.

"That was exactly what I was asking you for, Obi-Wan."

"Please, my Pantreti, come into my bed," Obi-Wan slid his arms around Qui-Gon's hips, tugged gently and nearly fell as his pleasure-weakened body failed him.

Qui-Gon was there to stand him strong. "Thank you. Bless you. Now I want to give you what you're asking me for."

"Tired," Obi-Wan whispered.

"Okay, Koatel. Okay." Qui-Gon guided his partner around the broken turtle bowl and onto the bed. "Tell me what you want to do."

"Taste you," Obi-Wan curled down over Qui-Gon's stomach, took a deep breath and drew Qui-Gon's cock into his mouth.

"Wait, wait, You've done enough work for one night," Qui-Gon whispered, pulling at Obi-Wan's shoulders.

The younger man shoved his hands away. **Give me what I want. I know you like this. I want your pleasure. Give me what I want,** he demanded.

Qui-Gon lay back, relaxing onto the pillows. "Take what you will of me, Koateleu."

Obi-Wan swallowed the beautiful erection, lifting and tilting his head to just the angle he desired. **Move for me, Qui-Gon.**

Qui-Gon obliged, gripping the sheets in fistfuls, lifting his hips in long slow undulations, pleasuring himself within his partner's oral embrace. Little moans and whimpers sent vibration from Obi-Wan's throat into Qui-Gon's cock and balls.

**Harder. More, now,** Obi-Wan insisted, gripping Qui-Gon's hips in his hands, pulling at him. **MORE!**

//I'm really close here, Obi-Wan.//

**And? **

So Qui-Gon steadied Obi-Wan's head and pumped in earnest, feeling his orgasm like a mad animal clawing at the base of his spine. He focused on that energy, channeled it into himself, the connection he shared and let it go. Pleasure like firesparks exploded behind his eyes. He howled his victory for the universe to hear, plunging deep into Obi-Wan's kiss.

Obi-Wan spent long moments licking the last drops of fluid from Qui-Gon's belly and penis before stretching up onto Qui-Gon's chest and along his body. "Bed's small. Not really enough room for two," he murmured by way of apology. "Will you stay here? I could go out to the sofa ... "

"You're fine where you are, Koatel." Qui-Gon touched Obi-Wan's cheek, then touched the charm around his neck. "What's this?" he asked.

Obi-Wan closed a protective hand around the stone and crystal amulet. "Hope for the future. Mine." He let go the necklace and slipped his arm around Qui-Gon.

"Are you really going to let me sleep next to you?" Qui-Gon murmured.

"Anything you want, Qui-Gon. Clearly, I'll give you anything you want." Obi-Wan was more asleep than awake at this point.

"I have it, Koateleu. It's all right here."

Go to Part 1         Part 2         Part 3         Part 4         Part 5         Part 6         Part 7         Part 8         Part 9         Part 10         Part 11         Part 12         Part 13         Part 14         Part 15         Part 16         Part 17         Part 18         Part 19         Part 20         Part 21         Part 22         Part 23         Part 24        

Bonds of Choice 7: Duets and Duality: On the Move

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

56 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Closed-Unfinished
Written October 20, 1999 by HiperBunny

Setting: Star Wars Episode 1

Primary Races: Human

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

Pairings: Obi-Wan/ Qui-Gon

Notes: Here be male/male sex. Slightly rough. Just, stay with me, okay? This all gets worked out eventually.

Blurb: Qui-Gon makes a decision, Corubia makes an allusion, Obi-Wan learns some interesting factoids about his past.

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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