Bonds of Choice 8:
Duets and Duality: Repta

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

They reached the moon of Repta late the next ship's morning. It was every bit as inhospitable as they had been led to believe. Although the moon had a breathable atmosphere, it was dangerously cold at this point in the solar cycle. Corubia and Torlamin scanned every square inch of the surface, discovering a dozen tiny installations hidden in the canyons they were targeting. They were seemingly deserted, no transports on or below the surface that they could detect. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan could not sense anything in the Force that would indicate that the installations were inhabited. They set down close to the first buildings, windows whited out in the midst of a snowstorm. They gathered in the cockpit to decide a course of action.

"They could be anywhere in any of these complexes, or in none of them. I think, though, that any of us could pick a cache of these crystals from outside ... given proper concentration," Qui-Gon said.

"You're suggesting we go out into that storm and meditate? Cold like that could kill Corubia. She's not made for that kind of weather," Torlamin objected.

This was true. Corubia's people were merfolk. Though she was readily adaptable to any number of air and water environments, she was unusually sensitive to extremes of air temperature. This sensitivity had kept her out of field work for most of her training. Obi-Wan felt sorry for her, for all the experiences she'd missed, training mostly at the Temple with her Master and whoever was on-planet. Still, he couldn't really recommend she be sent out into variable, possibly deadly conditions. He'd seen her shiver with cold on the windy balconies of the Temple, just as she had stoically suffered the bright rays of summer sunlight. Without a perspiration outlet to regulate temperature, heat was much more her enemy than cold. But cold was by no means her friend.

"I wouldn't consider sending her out there unprotected, any more than I would ask Obi-Wan to do a deep-sea exploration without a breather. Since he and I have the most experience with the Chendry crystals, we will do the searches. I will take the first installation." Qui-Gon turned to his Padawan. "Did you pack the cold-gear?"

Obi-Wan nodded and went to root it out of the cargo hold.

Obi-Wan helped Qui-Gon bundle up at the head of the entrance ramp. He could hear the howling of wind and scrubbing of snow through the bulkhead, a foreboding sound to say the least. "Are you sure you have to go out into that?"

"It would be best to get as close as possible. Perhaps a lead-line wouldn't be amiss, though. Do we have anything ..." Qui-Gon smiled as Obi-Wan sprinted off to fulfill the request. When he returned, he had a coil of rope and a length of gray cloth. "What's this?"

Obi-Wan's face fell. "You don't remember?" He unfolded the cloth, displaying the checkerboard pattern worked into the knit muffler. "You made it for me ... "

"Yes! I remember now! Lovely Scarsican wool ... you got it for me on Sereda, back when I was having one of my nervous phases. I've never seen you wear it, though .. I suppose I thought you lost it." Qui-Gon took the scarf and examined it with an expert eye. He'd had his own bouts of nervous tics over the years, months on end when he couldn't sit still to save his life. One of his covers for it had been what Arjet had dubbed 'playing with string'. He'd learned to spin, knit, tat, crochet, sabrocel, knot ... anything to keep his hands busy and useful. One of his projects had been this scarf. Many yards long, of a basic, repeating pattern, it had marked the end of his last bout of nerves.

"No, I never really wear it ... I didn't want it to get damaged. It's so lovely," Obi-Wan began winding it carefully around Qui-Gon's throat. "So don't mess it up, okay?" he dropped a quick kiss on Qui-Gon's lips before covering his mouth and nose. Obi-Wan then wound the rope around Qui-Gon's waist, knotting it several times before securing the other end to his own belt. "You are strictly forbidden to untie this for any reason, Qui-Gon. If you do, I'll come out and fetch you myself. And that'll be the last kiss you get for a long time to come."

Qui-Gon nodded his assent, eyes twinkling with good humor at the threat.

"I'm going to recite Seraphas Breath ONCE before I haul you back, so do what you must, but quickly. I'll be monitoring you through the Force as well ... I'm no more than a thought away, Master." Obi-Wan stepped close, paused to consider, then embraced his teacher in a fierce hug. "Be careful."

//Yes, my Obi-Wan. I'll come back quickly.//

Obi-Wan closed the doors at either end of the front hallway and lowered the ramp. Wind and snow whipped in, cutting through his cloak. He pushed Qui-Gon towards the ramp. "Hurry!"

He watched as the blank white wind swallowed his master, then settled down on the slowly-freezing deck to time his absence. They had long ago discovered that counting didn't work for them, when it came to timing things. Neither of them cared to wear a wrist-crono. They tended to be heavy and restrict movement in lightsaber technique. The solution had been poetry and songs. In this case, only Obi-Wan needed to be aware of time passage. Qui-Gon would probably be far beyond such considerations. 'Seraphas Breath' was one of the less utilitarian pieces he knew, but one that was calling out to Obi-Wan. A good mood piece for his current circumstance.

In this place between us
We were meant to be together
Though my home may change, and my life
We were meant to be together.

The Seraphas descended
And from his lips came the winds of life
In me the Seraphas changed me, gave wing
Created woman and man in me

Of all things that ever we were, all I ever felt
Was made a strange mixture of love and loss
So often had the gift been glimpsed and reached for
How unusual to hold it in my hand.


Only time and circumstance prevents me now
The Seraphas within me, held within and in reserve for release
As hold I still the need for respiration
As hold I still the thrum of my heart beating
As hold I still the tears of joy now brimming
As hold I still the quickening of life within me
As hold I still the ancient call of passion
As hold I still the words upon my lips
As hold I still the picture of you in me
So hold I still the time from passing
Time that moving would bring us together.

In this place between us
We were meant to be together
And yet at this moment we can step not together
No more than can the stars step from the sky.

The Seraphas yet into you has not descended
And still you remain the standing stone

Obi-Wan breathed out slowly, opened his lips once more adding lines to a poem that had been unchanged for ages on ages.

Twined my soul to yours did you
With nothing more than threads of silk
And no strength known can break me from you now.
Holding still, in duet and duality
We, apart, with space between us.

Obi-Wan reached out to Qui-Gon's mind. **Master?**

A moment passed. No answer came. He stood and began hauling on the rope even as he seized hold of Qui-Gon's body through the Force and pulled it in. The bulky shadow that emerged through the veil of snow and ice was limp and still.

*Oh, skies, no. *

Snow had been forced into his parka, stiffening it with icy crust. The scarf had frozen hard with Qui-Gon's breath, crystals broke under Obi-Wan's fingers as he pulled it away. "No," he denied, watching carefully for any flutter of eyelid on the too-still face, any movement of breath on the raw, cold lips. He tore at the restrictive layers of clothing, pushing them aside, unmindful of the cold wind and snow that washed over himself and his master. He pressed his ear to the bared chest, listening, feeling, WILLING a heartbeat, the rise and fall of respiration. Nothing. Tears stung his eyes, the metallic taste of blood filled his mouth as he bit his lip, straining to hear, to feel. His fingers closed around Qui-Gon's clothes, shaking him, "NOOOOO!"


Obi-Wan began offering thanks to every deity he had ever heard of, in alphabetical order. He closed the entryway, gathered Qui-Gon up in a rescue-carry and headed for his master's rooms on the deck above. By the time he had him on the floor of the bedchamber, Qui-Gon was shivering, teeth chattering, hair wet with melting snow. Obi-Wan stripped him down quickly and bundled him into bed. He stripped himself, leaving his now equally sodden clothes in a pile beside his master's and dove in under the blankets, sharing what warmth he had with his master.

**Qui-Gon! Qui-Gon! What happened!?**

//Chendries. Lots of them. Caught me off-guard ... //

Obi-Wan breathed a sigh of relief. Not the cold. It hadn't been the cold that made him pass out. Psychic shock, or something like. His skin was warming now, the shivers fading. Obi-Wan ran his hands over arms, held long fingers under his arms until they were no longer ice-cold, slipped down a bit to catch chilly toes between his knees, warming them as well.

Now that the shivering had stopped, Qui-Gon was trembling in some other pattern. Wheezing breath escaped his lips. It took Obi-Wan a long moment to realize his master was laughing. "What?"

Qui-Gon smiled down at his Padawan. "Oh, I was just wondering how I might convince you to spend your retirement with me on Hoth."

They decided to stop their retrieval operation until the storm had passed. Long hours passed as the kept an eye on the storm, waiting for an opportunity. Qui-Gon explained that, while the Chendries were not in the nearest buildings, they were quite close by, all together somewhere. The combined energies had quite overwhelmed him, with his shields lowered as they had been. Anger and bloodlust had simply washed through his being until his only recourse had been to flee. The shock had left him utterly defenseless ... he'd passed out in the blizzard. The rest, Obi-Wan had seen for himself.

Qui-Gon had fallen asleep not long after he'd gotten well and truly warm. Obi-Wan wandered down to see Corubia. She was sitting in her bedroom working on an assignment of some sort. "Whacha doin', there?"

"Master Windu had an assignment for me that I didn't get finished before we left. He's been handling all my philosophy training lately. Did you ever notice how much he sounds like Master Yoda when he has to teach something he doesn't agree with?" Corubia smiled.

"Yeah, Qui-Gon does the same thing. Listen I was thinking about what you were saying earlier ... do you really think Qui-Gon likes me, or do you think he likes who he thinks I am?" Obi-Wan sat down on the floor next to the sofa.

"Yeech, that's as bad as one of Master Windu's questions. You should hear the one about the Ewok in the forest."

"I'm serious. You know about all this High Potential stuff, right?" At Corubia's nod, he continued. "Well, Qui-Gon's known about it all along. I haven't. Don't you think that colors how he sees me, as opposed to how I really am?"

Corubia shut her lightslate down and tucked her feet under her. "Well, yes. I suppose it would."

"And what if how I really am is nothing like how he thinks I am?" Obi-Wan pressed.

"That would be a problem," Corubia conceded.

"From what he said, the other High Potentials are really active, stay in the field all the time, work all the time ... don't know. He's so into his missions, into that part of the Order, that I've barely seen all the other things the Jedi do. I want to know about all that, but I don't think I'd have time to find out if I had to chase him all over the Republic, which is what I'd do if we were partnered. I know I don't trust anyone else to back him up out here."

"I've said it before. Here it comes again. You love him, but you're not in love with him," Corubia said this as if she had repeated it many times, in just those words.

"Yeah, well, you're right. I'm not in love with him yet. Maybe I want to be and I know he's already at least halfway in love with me. But what if he finds out I don't want to go gallavanting all over the Galaxy with him, saving worlds, righting wrongs, playing Warrior in a universe sick of war? I really don't want that for my life, but I think that's the life I'd have with him," Obi-Wan put his head down. "I could be wrong. I'm just a little Padawan here. What do I know?"

Corubia slid down off the sofa and pulled him in for a hug. "You're not wrong. You would be an excellent teacher for the Trainees. I think Qui-Gon would understand if that's what you want to do with your life."

"And it IS my life," Obi-Wan smiled. "Or will be, after the Trials."

"You need to tell him all this. You've got to be honest with yourself and Qui-Gon, or someone's gonna get hurt pretty bad here. I also think you're putting too much worry into your rank, Obi. Nobody else cares, you know. Best of the Padawans, worst of the Knights, what's the difference? Not much, to hear most people tell it. So maybe the question you need to ask is WHEN you want to be okay with falling in love. What would it take for you be okay with going gonzo-nuts over somebody?" Corubia looked at him expectantly.

"Not yet. It's just not right. Not while I'm a Padawan, Cor. I've got to go check the weather. Thanks, Sis," Obi-Wan hugged her.

"Any time, bro. And bro ... there's someone I want you to meet when we get back to the Temple. He's ... kinda special to me."

Obi-Wan could have sworn she blushed.

"Yeah, okay. I'm looking forward to it," he smiled. "I'd love to see what you think 'special' is."

When the snow finally stopped flying, they were more than ready to gather their loot and get out of the system. Although there had not been anyone in the sector when they arrived, anyone could have approached during their downtime. All were mindful of the fact that they sat on a satellite that was believed to be a stronghold of the Sith. All were mindful of the fact that they had no idea what to expect, should they run up against one.

All were mindful of the fact that a Jedi had already fallen to the foe they now thieved from.

Obi-Wan had spent some long moments thinking about that. Master Erac had been one of Qui-Gon's longtime friends, though at a remove, as almost everyone was. That they resembled one another, physically, had been the reason Master Erac had been sent to Naboo in the first place. He and Knight Cord Random had been the replacement team for Qui-Gon and himself when they were called away to rescue the Kurasians. And Master Erac had not made it back alive. *If we had gone there, rather than after those slavers ...* Obi-Wan pushed that thought aside and continued to prepare for the retrieval operation.

They dressed as warmly as possible without restricting movement. Although there was no perceived danger, they left themselves ready to fight or run. They worked under cover of darkness, taking advantage of the moon's night. Unfortunately, that also meant they were trekking out into the coldest possible conditions. Obi-Wan was grateful for the layers of clothing and his trusty parka as he made his slow and careful progress across the icy ground. Corubia chirped his comm link and he responded. She would stay onboard and keep track of them all. Obi-Wan was first to leave the ship, followed at a distance by Torlamin and Qui-Gon.

The cold air bit at his nose and eyes, froze his breath to the muffler Qui-Gon had carefully wrapped around his face. Qui-Gon had insisted he wear it this time around. A breeze picked up granules of snow, casting it about like razor sand before settling down once more. Obi-Wan kept his eyes focused on the low shelter and prayed for a heating system.

He reached the door to the station first and scanned carefully for inhabitants. There were none. He raised his shields firmly, having felt the anguished echoes of the Chendries somewhere below him. The door swung open when Obi-Wan pushed and wedged in a snowdrift just inside. A groan escaped the Padawan as he saw the condition of the interior. The roof was weathered and cracked, plascrete giving way under the hand of nature. Rivulets now frozen had cut an icy waterway through the holes and fissures in the floor. Obi-Wan shivered and considered as he stood just outside the door.

He played his handlight over the interior and spotted a doorway on the other side of the room. He clicked his comm unit on "I'm going in."

The ice and snow creaked under his boots, ready to help him to the ground at any second. He made slow progress to the door and discovered that it opened onto a stairway. The steps were slicked with ice and glittered dangerously under his handlight. He could see as far as the first landing, but had no idea how deep the steps went under the lunar surface. He made his first cautious step after checking the stability of the staircase with every sense he had at his disposal. The step held and he lost no time getting down to the first landing. At the second landing he found another door.

He waited for the Masters to catch up to him. They took the lead, shining lights into the dark chamber. The beams bounced and glittered through ropy columns. "Icicles," Qui-Gon identified. Dozens and dozens of icicles made uneven rows around the room

"Master, there's something ..." Obi-Wan felt a strain, a stress through the Force. He could almost feel ... something ... even through his shields.

Obi-Wan stepped forward, laid a gloved hand on the nearest icepillar. There was a feeling ... he put his other hand against his lightsaber and felt like someone had struck a tuning fork against his teeth. He gasped and stepped back. "Master, there's a crystal in there, a sapphire like the one in my lightsaber. I can feel it!"

Torlamin came up behind him and put her hand on the pillar. "I don't feel anything."

"No, not in my hand. In the Force. I can feel them resonate. See?" He put her hand on his lightsaber and she gasped.

"Yes, yes I see," she mumbled a moment later, pulling away.

He flicked the blade on, carefully melted through the pillar and retrieved the sapphire. Inspecting it in the glow from his handlight, he could see that it was undamaged by this most unusual method of storage. The rich yellow stone, particular to the geology of Orilia, was one of the more rare crystals in the galaxy. Obi-Wan tucked it away into his belt pouch. If they were here to steal focus crystals, they might as well be thorough about it. A flick of green caught his eye and he turned to see Qui-Gon coring into one of the other icepillars. He pulled out an emerald that would have paired perfectly with the one in his own lightsaber. He looked at Obi-Wan and grinned before putting it away.

"Okay, now we can find enough crystals to keep us in spare parts for the next few decades. How do we find what we're here for?" Torlamin groused.

Qui-Gon rummaged in his parka and came up with the Chendry they had removed from the Sith lightsaber.

"Wait," Obi-Wan protested. "Last time you fooled with one of those, you ended up unconscious in a blizzard. Let me anchor you."

"Thank you, Padawan." Qui-Gon stepped next to Obi-Wan, pressed his fingers to the pulse at Obi-Wan's throat and dropped the shields on his end of their bond. Obi-Wan thinned his, enough to get a firm hold on his master's thoughts. Qui-Gon closed his eyes and reached, felt a draw and hum between the stone in Qui-Gon's hand and a pillar a few paces away. "There," he whispered as the anguish of rage and painlust sliced through him. Qui-Gon dropped the crystal to break the contact. Both Master and Apprentice sighed with relief.

Obi-Wan went to the pillar and felt for the pain signature, felt it low and to the center of an icicle some two feet thick. He drew his lightsaber, cored a path to the crystal and reached in. It came loose under his fingers and he dropped it to the floor with disgust. "How many of those did they buy?"

"Two dozen," Torlamin reminded him.

"We'd better get to work, then." Obi-Wan picked up one of the silver and violet-shot crystals, made the lightest of contact with it and dropped it as soon as he knew where the next one was. Torlamin watched him retrieve the next one before giving in and helping out. Qui-Gon joined them some moments later.

By the time they'd found ten Chendry crystals, the room was humming with angst and hatred. Obi-Wan removed the stones to the upper landing, only to find their attenuation to them had dulled, as hearing dulls when exposed to loud noise. It took a few false tries, attempts that added stones to their personal stash before Qui-Gon found a Chendry small enough to be bearable. They'd lost precious time, though, with their fumbling. They had found twenty three Chendries and were all searching for the last one when Corubia chirped their comm links. "I think you had all better get back here. I see a small transport coming in fast."

The three Jedi gathered up the crystals and headed for the Fortnight Gannet. Corubia stood at the top the ramp beckoning to them. She dashed down the corridor and took off as soon as they were onboard. The warm ship air hit Obi-Wan, searing his cold-numbed face. He reached up, touched his muffler, wondered how badly they might be frostbitten. His hands were numb, gloves thick with ice. Obi-Wan began dreading how he would feel when the numbness wore off.

Corubia's voice piped in over the loudhailer. "Battle stations. This one's armed to the teeth."

Obi-Wan dashed down the hall to his place in the forward turret.

The new arrival came in low and fast as the Gannet cleared the moon's thin atmosphere. A scattered burst of laserfire died uselessly against the Gannet's shields. Obi-Wan cast about, seeking the enemy. He centered his thoughts on all the lessons he had undergone recently, tried to draw himself into the firefight trance he had learned from Master Paje, needed that clarity. It was Qui-Gon who provided him with the needed focus. His voice came over the comm link. "Wing this one. We need information. We aim to please, we shoot to kill."

Obi-Wan had no time to reply. Corubia had managed to get behind their foe. Obi-Wan took careful aim and blasted the other ship's shield generator to bits. One more burst and the small transport was limping in distress towards the nearest landing place.

Which just happened to be the planet surface.

*Great,* thought Obi-Wan. *From ice castles to desert worlds. I love my job.* Obi-Wan headed down to his quarters for a change of gear and a towel. He had rivulets of melting snow and ice making puddles in the turret.

It turned out that Qui-Gon had fared the worst during their little snow-excursion. His breath had frozen his beard and mustache, which had in turn done some damage to his nose and lips. Obi-Wan spent careful moments soothing the frostbitten skin with Force-healing before they set down on Repta. Corubia had followed the crippled ship at a distance, herding it slowly to land near a canyon so the occupant would have no escape route.

The Gannet's ramp lowered and the hot air hit them much harder than the cold had. "Skies above," Corubia swore, drawing a veil down over her lips. Torlamin arrived with a pitcher of water and poured it down Corubia's collar, to protect her from the heat as well as they could. Obi-Wan had slung his Kho'la'bo across his back. Something like foretelling chittered across his nerves as he reached back and adjusted the staff. He stole a glance at Qui-Gon and saw that he wasn't the only one feeling it. Corubia touched his hand once, then looked away. Only Torlamin seemed oblivious to the eddies and whorls whipping about them in the Force. Her eyes were focused on the enemy ship, unblinking. Her presence in the Force seemed to warp and waver for a moment, then reassumed the steady presence of a Jedi Master. Obi-Wan and Corubia exchanged worried looks.

**What the hell was that?**

::Her skies-be-damned curiosity, Kenobi. Of all the times ... Can I trust you, Obi-Wan? Trust you with my life?::

**Mine given to save yours, Sister.**

::Don't turn your back on her. I'm used to dealing with it, but you? Don't give her a chance. I don't know anything more than that.::

Obi-Wan nodded, **Foresight, my dear?**

::It just started happening while you were away. Looks like you're not the only late bloomer around here.::

They clenched thumbs quickly and brought themselves back to center. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon double-checked each other's gear. Obi-Wan looked Qui-Gon in the eye and made a decision. **How much do you trust me, Master?**

//As much as you trust me, Padawan.//

He lowered his mental shields and extended his touch to Qui-Gon. **Something there is that will try to destroy us. Corubia and I both sense it. We will need to be ... closer.**

Obi-Wan breathed a sigh of relief when Qui-Gon's shields lowered. //As it was meant to be.// His mental voice was richer, more real and in focus than Obi-Wan would have believed possible. Obi-Wan could taste the nuance and deeper meaning of Qui-Gon's thought and found it sweet and reassuring. They let their minds twine on the surface and reflex levels, but carefully avoided testing the shield on their deeper selves. That was not needed for this moment.

Obi-Wan blinked. Only minutes had passed during these exchanges, but it felt like an eternity. Movement from the other ship attracted his attention. He turned to find a figure in black advancing towards them. His skin was mottled red and black. There was a crown of horns upon his brow and he gripped a lightsaber in one hand. As he approached, Obi-Wan felt the most disturbing thing he had ever encountered in his life. The shining purity of the Force dimmed for a bare moment, as if a shadow had passed through it. For a moment he thought he would lose his center, reflexively reached for Qui-Gon's thoughts and found them near to him already. The still pool of Qui-Gon's mind brought peace to his own. The four Jedi advanced, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan taking the lead.

**Four against one doesn't seem very fair.** Obi-Wan observed.

//The Dark Side holding sway over the galaxy will be even less so, should it happen, Padawan.//

Obi-Wan cast one last look at Corubia before letting go his thoughts. He briefly wondered why they were hanging back. Then he saw the being activate a lightsaber. **Well, I guess we found that last crystal, Master. ** This was the Sith and he had repaired his duel-bladed saber, making a weapon something like a staff. Obi-Wan reached for his Kho'la'bo and the Koh that would bring it life. Qui-Gon moved forward to engage the enemy.

Their energy-blades met with the customary whine and crack that Obi-Wan had grown up with. It was so rare to see an honest exchange between two saber-wielders that Obi-Wan was momentarily distracted by the beauty of their movements. Then he leapt into the fray, staff of destruction glittering in his hands. Qui-Gon fell back, winded, letting Obi-Wan take the brunt of the Sith attack for the moment. The connection between their minds hummed in sweet harmony.

Obi-Wan was more than equal to the task. His weeks on Renal Sejon had made him so. The snap and spark that had cracked between the lightsabers was nonexistent. The energy flux was higher, though and Obi-Wan found himself staggered by the force of the Sith's blows. He corrected his technique and launched a flurry of tip-shots that the Sith had his hands full blocking. With a cocky smile, Obi-Wan brought their exchange into high, overhand blows and slugged the sneering Darksider a good one in the face. The enemy staggered back and Obi-Wan launched his second attack, one that sought to defeat the Sith's mind.

**Maul. His name is Maul. ** Obi-Wan sent this to Qui-Gon and dove back into the Sith's mind. They had both recovered and came at one another in a series of long passes. Obi-Wan checked his clearance to the edge of the canyon and discovered he was being forced back to the edge. One tight, Force-assisted flip over Maul's head and their positions were reversed. Obi-Wan pressed his advantage, shifting his grip from the more common center-staff orientation to the butt end. It gave him a longer reach, but had the problem of shifting the staff balance just so.

It was too much of a disadvantage. The Sith slipped one end of his lightsaber past Obi-Wan's guard. The searing pain of contact broke Obi-Wan's hold on the Kho and his Kho'la'bo went gray in his hands. A controlled tumble saved him from any serious injury. He regained his feet and found Qui-Gon driving Darth Maul closer to the canyon edge. He felt the living thing between them, the connection thrum with purpose. It was as if he possessed two bodies, two minds with which to perform his task.

Obi-Wan hung back, ready to assist in the physical fight, but now putting most of his energy into the mental attack. The Sith was well-taught in the Jedi way of battle, and his mental skills were just as finely honed. Obi-Wan shredded his shields only to come up short at new layers. He shifted tactics, focusing down on the chinks of shielding, looking for particular bits of information. **Sideous. Okay, need more than that ...** A star map bloomed behind his eyes and was filed away. Then a skyline. **Coruscant, Master. He's been on Coruscant.**

Obi-Wan's Jedi reflexes had his staff up and ready just moments before the attack would have taken him out from behind. Torlamin's blue saber met his Kho'la'bo in a silent assault. Corubia was behind her, face pale with shock.

Obi-Wan tore his mind away from the Sith and defended himself. *She's a Master. What the fuck? How the hell do I defeat a Master?*

Only one answer came to him: Fight dirty. He accepted that plan and used the Force to scoop up sand and fling it at Torlamin's eyes. She tried to deflect, but was a moment too late. The loss of eyesight shouldn't have slowed her much, but she staggered before regaining her composure. Corubia's bulk hit Obi-Wan from the left, shoving him out of the way. ::Help Qui-Gon. This is my problem now!::

Obi-Wan spun on his heel, refocusing on Qui-Gon and the Sith. Thoughts rolled freely between them. *Share me. Be me. Dance the Violent Duet.* They offered this to one another, tactics and planning taking place between breaths. Qui-Gon and the Sith were far too close to the edge of the canyon for either of them to be safe. Obi-Wan ran to catch up with them. Somewhere during his dash, he managed to catch hold of the Kho once again. He leapt in, swinging low from the hips. The Sith blocked him, but Qui-Gon had a moment to scramble away from the crumbling edge. Obi-Wan saw him take up a defensive stance. **Master, seek the information. Let me deal with this fight.** Qui-Gon's mind moved swiftly to the attack, trusting Obi-Wan to take the battle to it's best conclusion.

The Sith's weapon was powerful and versatile. Obi-Wan had to do something about that. He rained blows from the side, feinted high and snapped the end of his Kho'la'bo through the middle of the handgrip, just as Cord had described in his report. The ends separated, but both maintained their charge.

*Oh FUCK!* Obi-Wan saw the Sith fall into a Florentine stance, ready to use both blades in his attack.

Obi-Wan shifted his stance to compensate for his lack of secondary weapon. He had his lightsaber, but there was no way to use both it and the Kho'la'bo. Qui-Gon should be able to render assistance if he needed it.

He swiftly learned that he needed it.

Qui-Gon came in quickly and drew the Sith off while Obi-Wan fell back. He spared a moment to check on Corubia. She seemed to be holding her own against Torlamin, but wasn't able to do much more than that. Obi-Wan let go the Kho and reached out through the Force, jerking Torlamin's legs out from under her. His attack was so swift and unexpected that it actually worked. Corubia jerked the lightsaber from her Master's hand and clipped it to her own belt. She struggled a moment then managed to send Torlamin into a deep sleep. Obi-Wan re-enforced that sleep with energy of his own then came in on the Sith one more time. Corubia was running to catch up to them all, leaving Torlamin facedown in the sand.

The Sith was driving Qui-Gon now and Obi-Wan wasted no time re-engaging the horned demon. Obi-Wan attacked, keeping the exchange on his dominant side. With the Force, he seized Maul's left wrist and squeezed hard and fast. He felt the connective tissue and bone warp and flex under his grip, saw that saber fall from the useless fingers and get yanked away somewhere to the rear. Corubia had taken control of it as it fell. Qui-Gon came in on the Sith's weak side, cutting his leg out from under him with a muscle-shot to the calf. Maul went to one knee, still trying to defend himself. Obi-Wan bore down on him with thought, pillaging, stripping information, a face, half covered by a hood, thick carpet under boots, random images, storing it all away, driving weapon against weapon, mind against mind, finding an opening and driving the butt of his Kho'la'bo into Maul's ribcage, up and back as hard as he could.

The Sith screamed in pain and rage, threw his anger out in waves of the Dark Side of the Force. Obi-Wan was tossed back, felt the link to Qui-Gon go quiet. He bounced to his feet, saw Corubia also jumping to her feet, but couldn't see or sense Qui-Gon. Qui-Gon had been closest to the canyon edge. Obi-Wan felt the Kho fill him again with strong and vengeful purpose.

Corubia and Obi-Wan fell on the Sith. He stood not a chance against them. Corubia bound blades with the Sith and disarmed him, ducking as the still-activated blade whipped through the air. Obi-Wan raised his glittering Kho'la'bo and delivered a downward swing that sliced neatly from shoulder to hip, diagonally. The slice through the flesh made a sick slurp as the halves slid apart, spilling pale green viscera and alien innards in a pool of vile offal. Corubia turned her head and vomited.

Obi-Wan realized that this was probably the first time she had killed without her Master there to help her. And this just after disabling her own Master in heated combat. And speaking of Masters ...

Obi-Wan ran to the edge of the canyon and saw Qui-Gon clinging to the edge. He threw the Kho'la'bo aside and grasped his master's arms, held tight, pulling with everything he had in his body, the Force and the Kho. Qui-Gon lent his assistance, coming up rather quickly. A shadow fell across his face and he looked up. A booted foot connected solidly with Qui-Gon's jaw and he fell out of Obi-Wan's arms. Obi-Wan rolled away from the shadow and brought his hands up just in time to catch the descending foot. He twisted the appendage, throwing Torlamin off balance. He looked up and saw Corubia coming in, lightsaber high. "NO!" he shouted, dragging Torlamin to the ground and pinning her there. "We have to get her back to the Council." He got Torlamin in a stranglehold and squeezed, counting carefully. She went limp in his arms long before she lost consciousness. Finally he let her go. "Keep and eye on her Corubia. Keep her under. Don't kill her unless you have permission from the Council to do so. We're in enough trouble without having to face charges of Mastercide."

Corubia nodded, but her eyes were dark with anger. Obi-Wan smacked her hard on the shoulder. "Get it together, Cor! Anger leads to hatred."

She shook her head, nodded and focused on getting Torlamin back onto the Fortnight Gannet.

Obi-Wan went to the edge of the canyon and looked down. For the third time running, the only phrase that fit the situation was "Oh Fuck."


//Still here.//

**Bless the skies above us! I'm coming for you. **

//No, Obi-Wan. It's too late. Promise me you'll find the Sith Master and defeat him. He is the great Evil. Promise me ... // Qui-Gon's mental voice started to fade.

**Fuck you. And get a grip on yourself. If you dare give up now I'll go find the Sith Lord and JOIN him just to spite you, so hang on, dammit!** Obi-Wan found a narrow path down the canyon wall and began picking his way down to the place where Qui-Gon had fetched up against a boulder. He was grateful that the walls weren't as sheer as they could have been, nor the canyon as deep.

//You'll be punished for speaking so to your Master, Obi-Wan.// The humor was clear in the thought.

**Then you'll just have to stick around to make sure it's done right.**

//Well, if I must, I must.//

**You must. How are you? I can't really see anything from up here.**

//There's a heavy ... something pinning my leg down. I can't really see what.//

**At a guess I'd say it was a rock. Can you move it?**

//Hadn't tried yet. Here I go.//

Obi-Wan felt a current in the Force, then Qui-Gon whited out from Obi-Wan's thoughts. Obi-Wan hurried his steps toward his master.

Qui-Gon was indeed under a small pile of rocks, much battered and bruised, possibly broken in a place or two, but definitely alive. Obi-Wan studied the pile of rocks then began shifting them off Qui-Gon using both his hands and the Force. When he had the debris cleared away he found out what had made Qui-Gon think the end was near. Somewhere along the fall the Jedi had taken a branch through the shoulder, from the look of it. Obi-Wan sucked in his breath and calmed his thoughts. **Corubia, I need you to get the med unit ready. Qui-Gon's looking pretty bad. **

He waited a long moment. **Cor, hon? What do you say? **

::You'd better hurry or he's just going to have to wait. I have to take Torlamin back to Coruscant. I almost have her strapped in for the journey.::

**Holy shit! Don't do this to me, Corubia Nall! Just give me ten minutes, I'll be right there!** Obi-Wan gave Qui-Gon a fast once-over and made sure he was okay for the quick journey up the side of the canyon. He broke the stick off behind Qui-Gon and pushed it the rest of the way out of his shoulder.

//Obi-Wan?// Qui-Gon was regaining consciousness.

**Just hang on, Master. I'll have you out in a jiffy. Corubia's having a bit of trouble up there, so we need to be fast. Now just relax and put your weight on me.** Obi-Wan lay down next to Qui-Gon and took his weight onto his torso. **Just gonna get the hell out of here now, okay?**

Qui-Gon murmured his assent and Obi-Wan stilled his mind even further. He pictured a cylinder of green liquid and let a pearl fall into it. He rose up through the liquid, a little faster than usual, but just as smoothly as if he were relaxing in his own bedroom. He reached out through the Force, made the canyon wall his point of reference and just drifted, drifted serenely to the top of the canyon face. Finally they came to rest beside the scene of their battle. Obi-Wan took a moment to check Qui-Gon's shoulder. It was bleeding badly. "Master? Listen to me. Put your hand right here and press hard." Obi-Wan put Qui-Gon's hand in place and put his own hand on the opposite side of the wound. *No, this'll never work. THINK, dammit!*

Obi-Wan used the Force to apply pressure, grabbed the Kho'la'bo and stuck it through Qui-Gon's belt. Then stood and slung Qui-Gon up in a rescue carry. **Cor? Still holding on there? **

::Sorry, Kenobi. I godda go ...::

**Over my dead body, not his, girlie. Sorry to do this to you, but ... ** He reached out and suppressed her consciousness, putting her into a deep sleep. He was panting from exertion both physical and mental as he hit the top of the gangplank. He went to the medunit room and installed Qui-Gon there. He programmed for diagnosis and went to find Corubia. She was slumped over the controls in the cockpit, which he saw were indeed ready for takeoff.

He picked her up and carried her back to her quarters, put her on the bed and set the lock to his own voice signature. He let go his grip on her mind so that she could wake normally. Finally he went to find Torlamin. For some reason, Corubia had tied the Master to one of the rolling chairs in the Meeting room. Obi-Wan wheeled the wayward Jedi into her own quarters and locked her in as well.

Then back to Qui-Gon. The medunit reported heavy bruising, major damage to the shoulder and a broken ankle. Obi-Wan sucked breath through his teeth, then started reviewing procedures from the time he had spent studying in the infirmary with J'katha. He set and splinted the ankle, stripped cloak and shirts from Qui-Gon, cleaned and bandaged the wound. It was not as bad as it looked, having passed only through muscle tissue. No major organ damage, so the medunit could handle stabilization until they reached Coruscant.

Coruscant. Oh, boy. The Council was not going to be happy about this.

Obi-Wan went down to the cargo hold and found a cold storage box. He carried it out to the battle site and gathered up the dead Sith while trying not to think about what he was doing. He kept the lightsaber pieces separate from the rest. Then he put the box and saber away in the cargo hold and made his way to the small ship Darth Maul had arrived in.

It took a few long moments of translating to work out the controls and a few more to convince the computer to obey his commands. It took only a little longer to work around the precise damages that had forced the ship to land. Obi-Wan sent up a prayer of thanks for Arjet Paje's teachings. He programmed for remote-piloting from the Fortnight Gannet and made sure the craft was ready for takeoff.

Obi-Wan checked the crono. It had been twenty hours since they landed on the moon of Reptha today. It seemed like an eternity. He stopped at the med unit for a quick checkup on Qui-Gon and some stimulant tabs. He'd be the only one to pilot home.

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 8: Duets and Duality: Repta

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

46 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: The poem "Seraphas Breath" by Jody Marie, used with permission.

Blurb: Crystals recovered, Sith discovered, battles won and lost.

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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