Bonds of Choice 9.99:
The Language of Great Mystery: Written on the Air

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

Obi-Wan stretched his shoulders back and resettled on his bunk. Scratch had promised him he was no more than two hours away from Coruscant almost six hours ago, and the Jedi's serenity was beginning to wear away. A low chittering noise from the doorway attracted his attention. He looked up to find Duran and Myrkit wrestling in the hallway. He smiled a little, and drummed his fingertips on the floor, as he'd once seen Nate do, to attract their attention. They turned towards him, seemed to discuss their course of action, and scrambled up his arm and onto the bed without so much as a by-your-leave.

Obi-Wan chuckled as the ferrets rooted around him on the bed, overturning stacks of datachips and knocking his lightslate onto the floor. When they made for his book, however, he lifted it up out of their reach. He was given twin looks of affront before they resumed their exploration. Finally, the two ferrets decided his belly was the best place to rest and curled up there. Obi-Wan sighed and began stroking them, accepting their presence from long experience with Qui-Gon's pets.

That brought him up short. *It has been years since Qui-Gon actually brought a pet into either of our quarters. Poor Master, he must miss them. He spends so much of his free time in the Atrium.*

And that was odd, because until recently it wouldn't have mattered one way or another whether there were creatures in Qui-Gon's rooms. Well, actually it would have mattered very much to Qui-Gon... and yet he used the area Obi-Wan had set up for him. Why? Surely that one otter versus turtle incident hadn't been the only factor...

Obi-Wan stroked the soft ferrets, not just with his fingers, but with his sense of the Force. He let his mind touch along the edges of theirs, let their calm acceptance of the universe around them, their place within it, soothe his frustration and impatience. Obi-Wan began to understand just what it was that attracted to Qui-Gon to his 'pathetic lifeforms'. If Qui-Gon sensed this calm, this peace through his 'animal ken' or some base-instinctive Force manipulation... well no wonder. And no wonder he would be moved, time and again, to help restore that peace when it had been disrupted.

*How could I have been so blind?*

With no answer forthcoming, Obi-Wan returned to the work he had been distracted from. It wasn't proper work, just translations, though skies knew he'd spent plenty of time trying to get his affairs in order for his return. He had checked his mail this morning to find a request from the Kurasian Senatorial office. It had taken him a while to remember that the Kho'la'bo was still in his room, in need of return. It had taken even longer to get in contact with the Kurasians, get an appointment, then cancel and re-make it because of the delay in transit. The whole thing was a mess, and on top of it all, Obi-Wan didn't want to deal with the Kho'la'bo, the Kurasians, or anything else to do with THAT mission ever again. Something told him he wasn't going to get a choice in the matter.

He lifted the lightslate and returned to his book, preparing to read aloud for the transcriber on the slate. The slender volume in his hands had turned out to be a record of meditations. To Obi-Wan, they were a wealth of thought-provoking exercises. Once he realized what he had discovered he had thrown himself into the study and translation of each poem, or 'keto', hoping to find some piece of wisdom that would help him come to terms with the path he now seemed to be upon. He had been long in study of the texts and had only slowly realized that each one was connected to a meditational pose. He wondered when these keto had fallen out of popular use, and why.

Putting those considerations aside, he continued with his work.

"Ne, duc nata sere, fane du Katu Ferese
Ne, duc nata sersol, privaco du Esper
Ne, duc nata efama, keadenu du Tabeo
Ne, duc nata mere, lamne du Pocada
Ne, duc nata talmaka, sereol du Qualedia Jedi
Ken un copo Pise no covere
Escrib ta Indivi"

"See, hidden upon all things, the language of Great Mystery
See, hidden upon the air, the secrets of the Breath
See, hidden upon the fire, the passions of the Spirit
See, hidden upon the water, regrets of the Living
See, hidden upon the soil, wishes of the Future
Read and hold within yourself the words of our Language
Know and acknowledge Truth unmasked
Written on the Body"

This, at least, he understood. The 'Language of Great Mystery' had come to be called 'Force-signatures'. He supposed the latter term was easier to grasp, but the original term was quite a bit more apt. As a being strong in the Force, he left his mark on everything, everywhere he went. Days from now another Force-sensitive would be able to touch the bed where he lay and sense that he, Obi-Wan Kenobi, had slept there. Everything the Force touched had its own pattern, and those patterns could be read as plainly as any script. Every emotion had a sigil and every color had a taste. The elements of the universe came together in the Force, speaking their existence in hidden words. The Force itself spoke the Language of Great Mystery. With training and focus, a Jedi learned to hear it.

Obi-Wan cleared his throat and spoke for the transcriber again. "Each keto is paired with a pose. I can only assume that these keto go best with that particular pose, or that each pose enhances the contemplation and understanding of the given keto. I intend to speak with Master about this. I hope he will be able to further instruct me on their uses. End transcription."

The lightslate beeped obediently and Obi-Wan stretched slowly, careful not to disturb his bed companions. The click of boot-heel in the corridor drew his attention back towards the door. Obream stuck his head in. "Hey. We're just about ready to move out. There's some kind of trouble getting a space at the Temple, so it's taking a while..."

Obi-Wan shrugged. "I never have that problem."

Obream smirked "You wouldn't, of course. Friends in low places."

"More like preplanning with backup measures," Obi-Wan returned.

"Well, whatever it is, I wish we had some. We've got a lot to cover in this report, and I'd rather see my bed sometime this week than not. I wish I had some credit saved up with Morin right now." Obream leaned against the doorframe.

"Don't look at me. I spend all my goodwill on housing the Gannet."

"You would," Obream grinned. "Always the fair trader."

The Padawan shrugged. "That's me. Trusted purveyor in fine goods and services."

"Well, you might want to get over that. From what I've heard out of you, someone's finally got a leash on your collar." Obream dodged the pillow Obi-Wan threw at him. "Which is probably a good thing, considering your reputation."

"Reputation?" Obi-Wan paused his bombardment to ask.

"Yeah, you know... ice prince? 'Don't let your heart get involved with that one... Obream ruined him for the rest of us.' All that." Obream quirked his mouth.

"Who..." Obi-Wan narrowed his eyes. "Where did you hear that?"

"From everyone, at least once a month, since... oh, since your master put an injuncture against me. No one's willing to forgive me for it, you know."

Obi-Wan shook his head, confused. "Forgive you?"

"Duh. Kenobi... I fucked up royally... and not just for myself. For you, too. And for anyone who might have cared for you, over the years. Forgiveness on that point is not easily gained." Obream scuffed his boot on the floor. "Not that I deserve it."

Obi-Wan gave a sad little half-smile. "I forgive you."

Obream's head came up, eyes wide with surprise. "Well. Yeah, I guess you would, wouldn't you?"

"But... how far... do you think..." Obi-Wan rubbed his hand over his face.

"Do I think your 'one hot bod' is of this opinion? Dunno, you tell me. I guess it depends on the individual, whoever they may be. You got any reason to think they wouldn't want you to care about them?" Obream leaned more comfortably against the doorjamb.

"Quite the opposite," Obi-Wan assured him.

"Okay, last bit of advice: First chance you get, go for it."

Obi-Wan laughed. "Sorry, I don't really work like that."

"Like what?" Obream stepped into the room and let the door close behind him. Myrkit noted the unexploited cuddle space and abandoned her companion to make use of it. Obream chuckled indulgently and began scratching the friendly mammal. Obi-Wan spent a long moment soothing Duran, who was slightly affronted by his mate's abandonment. After a long moment, Obi-Wan answered.

"Did you ever go to Kenederal when you were a Padawan? You know, those camping trips and all?" At Obream's nod, Obi-Wan continued. "Remember the Blackwater?"

"Yeah... they spent the entire trip out *warning* us not to swim there, that the water was fine, but there were snags and crap under there. Dangerous." Obream looked down at the ferret, not making eye contact.

"Let me guess. The year you went, you were the one to jump in."

Obream nodded, a rueful little smile playing across his lips. "Got cut up pretty good on all that submerged wreckage."

"Who went with you?"

"Couple friends of mine, you know. Sort of like on a dare. We thought we were so *smart,* scanning down for plants and deadfall, predators... it never occurred to us to look for inorganics, which I suppose was the point." Obream rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Has *anyone* ever come back from Kenederal without a new entry on their medical records?"

"Not that I know of. Like you said, I think that's the point. Getting hurt like that, away from your master, even in some minor way, it teaches you something you can't learn any other way. You're not invincible, even with the Force. No matter how much skill or power you gain through training, you're still mortal, and very, very breakable. So, well... my best friend, Corubia, she's a mer. She decided she could handle the Blackwater, but... she ended up with a nice, incapacitating scratch all along here," Obi-Wan indicated the left side of his ribcage. "Gills, you know. She came up spitting water and blood, and I was the one supposed to be watching for the Knights."

"So you went in to get her?" Obream guessed.

Obi-Wan sighed. "No. I stayed right where I was, pulling her with the Force and screaming bloody murder for one of the Knights. I knew... I *knew* it was dangerous and I *knew* I'd get hurt if I went in. So I didn't."

"That must have been a great way to reinforce your friendship," Obream chuckled.

"Oh, she was pissed at me for almost two whole hours. Then she figured out that if she hadn't done something stupid in the *first* place, she wouldn't have gotten hurt. That's not the point. I was never tempted to do the Blackwater swim. It never entered my mind, really. I didn't have to try it myself to know it was dangerous - someone had already taught me I could get hurt, and badly. Well, so... that's why the 'ice prince' thing. I don't need to get hurt that way again." Obi-Wan shrugged. "Well, that's what I thought."

"I think you're taking the 'look before you leap' sentiment a little too much to heart there, Obi," Obream said.

"I... uh... I think you might be right there. But that doesn't mean I'm gonna go ahead and leap, you know. I'm still looking."

Obream nodded. "Just don't be too hard on 'em, okay? Hey, uh... so... where's your scar?"

Obi-Wan laughed. "No scar. I sprained my ankle coming down the cliffs. They had me teamed with a guy I didn't know and..." he gave a low whistle, describing his unchecked descent with his hand.

"Ah... trust issues. I hope you've been working on those."

Obi-Wan refrained from pointing out Obream's culpability in that area, though the urge to remark upon the irony was extreme. "Not as much as I should have been, but... I'm doing better. Listen, thanks for the counsel, but..." Obi-Wan gestured with his lightslate. "I want to get some more of this finished."

"You're more than welcome. You're not bound to take my advice of course, but you might want to think about it. You wouldn't want to discourage them by making them wait too long." Obream stood. "I should be up front for final landings. Get your gear together, bucko. We're home."


Qui-Gon shook his hair back and tossed another grin at Swed. The noise of the Common Room was nearly overpowering the music they made but that mattered not at all to the Master and the newly-promoted Knight. Swed was playing upon an electric guitar, challenging Qui-Gon to match or supersede him as he improvised and riffed with wild abandon. Qui-Gon was sticking to his vyol, using its comfortable familiarity to make up for his lack of recent practice. Unfortunately, his hair was slowly escaping his hair-kerchief and tangling in the string pegs, hampering his efforts somewhat. It only made him laugh and try all the harder.

Obi-Wan's ship was in orbit. Corubia had brought these intelligences to him some few hours ago. He had just started playing, and had considered abandoning his performance to prepare for the inevitable Council meeting. She had prevailed upon him to stay, insisting that traffic was backed up to the skies and gone. She assured him he had plenty of time.

Halfway into the second song, and time constraints had lost their influence over him. The Padawans and younger Knights had pushed the tables back, creating an impromptu dance floor. The room was thick with heat and energy, reminding Qui-Gon of the more lively dance clubs of Coruscant, minus the near-traditional smoky fog. He had paused some time ago to unbutton his green cotton shirt, letting it hang open down past his hips. His jeans were long worn out, holes and tears providing all the ventilation he might need. His soft half-boots were abandoned in the corner, unneeded for the nonce. Perspiration slicked his brow, ran freely down his chest and collected on his waistband. Swed looked like someone had dumped a bucket of water over his head and Qui-Gon assumed he himself wasn't any more presentable.

He couldn't have cared less.

Someone was shaking his shoulder and he turned to find Arjet's laughing eyes staring up at him. "Council's calling for us. Your boy did well."

Qui-Gon's eyes went round with shock as he looked around for the crono. Surely it wasn't that late! But it was. "I have to change clothes..." he began.

"No time. Trydal's gonna be done with his report in about ten minutes, and we have to be there for the covert clearance," Arjet explained.

"Well... hell," Qui-Gon muttered, setting his instrument aside. "I look like a wild one."

"To say the least. Not that it matters. You're only going on record as security second, so there won't be any imaging of you. I'm not getting into uniform for it, no reason why you should." Arjet stepped back, displaying his loose trousers and tunic, soft exercise shoes and hair-kerchief. "Not exactly a fashion statement."

"But... Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon lamely protested.

"Oh get over it! He's gonna have to figure out you weren't born in a uniform! Might as well be now."

Qui-Gon heaved a sigh and nodded in agreement. "Let's go, then."

Swed handed him his boots and promised to deliver the vyol to Qui-Gon's quarters later on. Qui-Gon smiled his thanks and squared up his serenity for the meeting ahead.


Obream Trydal was just wrapping up his report when Qui-Gon and Arjet entered the Council chamber. Obi-Wan noted the opening and closing of the Council doors, was peripherally aware of his master's presence, but kept himself focused on the report at hand.

"It would be advisable to send a supply crew in before re-opening the Temple, but it is structurally sound and habitable to the standards required by Lrakin Rilka. Padawan Kenobi's report as to the local supply is more than favorable. While he believes the local elements leave something to be desired in the way of respectability, they represent no threat to a Jedi presence. Therefore, it is the opinion of this survey that the Jedi Temple at San Saloor in the Perrys Sector can be returned to service at the Council's will." Obream was every inch the Jedi Knight, calm, poised, relaxed and seemingly at ease.

"Padawan Kenobi, what say you further on the locals?" Ki Adi Mundi asked.

"There is definitely a thriving community of the criminal element in San Saloor proper. I had some contact with them, enough to evaluate their influence. They did not seem alarmed at the idea of a Jedi presence, which is worrisome to me. When the outlaws do not begrudge a governmental presence, something is seriously amiss. Unfortunately, my duties prevented any official investigation." Obi-Wan smoothly danced around truth and lies, imparting the needed information, withholding what he had been commanded to withhold.

The Council had no final questions on the survey mission and Obream was dismissed from their presence. He gave Qui-Gon and Arjet an inquisitive glance, but bowed himself out without voicing whatever questions he might have had.

Mace waited only long enough for the doors to close before intoning "Let the record be opened for Covert Record number one, Operative Padawan Kenobi reporting."

Obi-Wan glanced around, looking at Qui-Gon and Arjet for the first time. He raised an eyebrow at Arjet, who nodded his approval. "Security prime, code Master Arjet Paje, attending."

"Security second, code Master Qui-Gon Jinn, attending," Qui-Gon added.

Mace nodded his thanks to the others and turned to Obi-Wan. "Master Paje told us of your... secondary operations in Perrys, specifically in the town of San Saloor. There was some indication that things went successfully. We need only your confirmation that this is so."

Obi-Wan cleared his throat. "The orders I received to that quarter were carried out with no complications."

"Very well. Can you tell us anything to which Master Paje might not be privy at this time?" Master Gallia inquired.

"No, Master. He is, to the best of my knowledge, informed of all I have done. If he has any further information, it has not been vouchsafed to me," Obi-Wan assured them.

*Good boy,* Qui-Gon smiled to himself. *Covering them both from further questions.*

"Master Poof, does this information resolve the situation you foretold to us?" Master Windu inquired.

"It does not," the Councilor informed him.

There was a long moment of silence in the Council chamber as they considered this. Obi-Wan held himself as still as possible, doing his best to not ask all the questions that leapt to the forefront of his mind.

"Very well. Padawan Kenobi, you are expected to continue growing your hair," Master Gallia said.

"Yes, Master," Obi-Wan replied. "If I may ask... why was I told to let it grow?"

Mace steepled his fingers, letting a moment pass in thought. "We were given a sign, a directive, indicating that this should be done to produce a certain outcome during a certain period of time. That has not yet come to pass."

"Thank you, Master," Obi-Wan did not press for information the Council did not want to give him. Qui-Gon frowned at him for that, but said nothing.

"Well then, we shall turn you over to your Master once more. You are returned to adjunct status, Senior Padawan. This mission is declared a success. This meeting is adjourned," Mace smiled at the younger Jedi. "Well done."

Obi-Wan blushed at the praise and bowed, saying "Thank you, Master."

He turned to go, Arjet and Qui-Gon following close behind. They were quiet until they gained the lifts, where Arjet turned to him. "Any recommendations?"

"Salvage that pirate ship. Learn some of that pilot language. Get someone out into Ero Phelian now, if not sooner," Obi-Wan replied without hesitation.

"We have two people near there, just now," Arjet assured him. "Though, as to their location or... vitality... I couldn't tell you for sure. How the hell did you get pirates to go fetch Jedi, anyway?"

"I didn't know that's what they were doing," Obi-Wan replied. "I thought they were just delivering a message."

Arjet snorted.

"Well, anyway... I made them think they were going to do what I said, for free, and like it. Then I paid them," Obi-Wan said.

"How much?"

Obi-Wan told him.

Arjet took a moment to get his jaw back off his chest. "And they were okay with that?"

"Well, considering they didn't think they'd be paid at all... yeah. They expect that much again, when they get back."

"Absolutely no problem there," Arjet assured him. "Qui-Gon, you have one well-trained student here. Keep him close to you, if you can."

Qui-Gon rested a hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder. "I shall, if it is within my power."

Arjet looked startled for a moment, then smiled at his friend. "I'll leave you to it, then."

He got off on the next floor, though Qui-Gon was sure it was nowhere near his ultimate destination. Just as well. It saved Qui-Gon the problem of finding some place to put him while he welcomed Obi-Wan home. Some things were best kept between just a master and his apprentice.


Obi-Wan held his questions until the door to their quarters closed, but no longer. "Master, why are you dressed... like that?"

Qui-Gon turned and offered a rueful smile. "I have always dressed like this, my Padawan."

"I beg to differ, Master," Obi-Wan protested.

"Beg all you like, it doesn't change the fact that this has been my way of dressing for many years." Qui-Gon kicked his boots off near the sofa and headed for the kitchen. "Though you might want to consider the question of when I *stopped* dressing like this. Hungry?"

Obi-Wan's eyes were glued to the boots, lying haphazardly in the middle of the common area. After a moment, he remembered to answer his master's question. "No... I'm fine... Master? Are you quite well?"

Qui-Gon returned, glass of juice in hand. "Quite, I do assure you."

Obi-Wan nodded slowly and headed for his own room to set his packs down. *Okay, there has to be a reason...* he began. Then he stopped. *Just how much attention have you paid to his habits since you came to live here?* he demanded of himself.

None.

He sighed and pulled his own boots off, stripped down to his undertunic and returned to the front room. Qui-Gon was lounging on the sofa, lightslate on his lap, headphones pumping music directly into his ears. His foot tapped absently while one hand kept rhythm on the sofa. His head was tipped back against the armrest, throat exposed to Obi-Wan's view.

Obi-Wan swallowed, then returned to his room. That one glance at Qui-Gon, and his heart had begun to race. *He's the most lovely being...*

He shifted his weight from foot to foot, acutely aware of the arousal that was beginning to spike through his body. *I can't... I... I should...* What? Meditate? Release to the Force? Neither seemed appropriate. Qui-Gon had shown no inclination towards a... physical welcome-home and Obi-Wan was loath to be so forward. *Ice Prince, that's me. I have to do... something!*

A moment of aimless wandering led him to stand before Dauhge's tank, where he finally knelt. The little green turtle was meandering about his tank, a calm focus for Obi-Wan's suddenly confused mind. He let his eyes follow the reptile on its meandering travels, relaxing all his thoughts to peace and serenity with practiced ease. When calm was reinstated to his mind, he felt prepared to deal with his master once more.

He went into the common room and straddled the arm of the sofa. "Master?"

Qui-Gon's eyes drifted open, fixed Obi-Wan with a considering look, then lazily drooped closed once more.

"Master... should I leave you alone?" Obi-Wan asked, tone apprehensive.

Qui-Gon pulled the headphones away from his ears. "What?"

"I asked if you wanted to be left alone..." Obi-Wan repeated, confused. "You... you don't seem very happy to see me..."

"I am always happy to see you, my Padawan," Qui-Gon replied.

"So, but... no kiss..." Obi-Wan winced, appalled at how pathetic he sounded.

"Do you want a kiss?" Qui-Gon asked, tilting his head to one side.

"Well of course I want a kiss!" Obi-Wan stood and wrapped his arms around himself. "I... wait. Do YOU want a kiss?"

Qui-Gon closed his eyes and Obi-Wan stared, amazed, as he simply lay there, breathing for a long moment. "I suppose," Qui-Gon finally replied.

"You *suppose*?" Obi-Wan demanded.

"The fact is, I want a great deal more than a kiss, Koateleu. I just don't think you're inclined to give it to me. So I'm waiting for such an inclination to evidence itself," Qui-Gon explained.

"Skies, Pan! If you wanted to fuck, why didn't you just SAY so?" Obi-Wan sighed, relieved.

Qui-Gon closed his eyes again and murmured so quietly Obi-Wan missed what he said.

"Pardon me?"

"I said I didn't particularly want a fuck."

Obi-Wan closed his eyes. He steadied his breathing and focused on the image of a perfect, white blossom. He released his various types of frustration to the Force and opened his eyes again. "Well, when you know what you *do* want, feel free to call upon me." He turned towards his room.

"I know exactly what I want, Obi-Wan. It happens that this is the first time you've shown any interest in the subject," Qui-Gon said.

"Is that so?" Obi-Wan turned back to his teacher.

"Yes," Qui-Gon replied, his expression inscrutable.

"You are making me insane," Obi-Wan informed him and continued into his room.

Qui-Gon remained upon the sofa for a long time, eyes fixed on the closed door between himself and his partner. After a time, a tiny smile crept across his lips. He stood and stepped into his shoes, then went to knock on Obi-Wan's door. "I'm going to see Arjet. Comm me if you want me," he said.

No reply was forthcoming. With a bounce in his step, he left his quarters. Halfway down the hall he began singing under his breath. "And the vine it winds around around, and the vine it winds around..."


Obi-Wan lay face down on his bed and concentrated on his breathing. What was Qui-Gon DOING? He had barely spoken a WORD, barely...

*I'm missing something,* Obi-Wan decided. *Something important. What... What does he want from me?*

Qui-Gon's words came back to him. Was this really the first time Obi-Wan had expressed an interest in what Qui-Gon wanted? Surely not, but... but if he HAD shown interest, inquired, Qui-Gon certainly would have told him. Almost certainly. *I should have asked...*

But now Qui-Gon was gone, and Obi-Wan certainly didn't feel up to launching an interrogation at this point. He didn't even know what questions to ask. *Okay, I'll start there. What is it I want to know?*

He turned over onto his back and stretched, body arching up off the bed. *Oof. I need to be working out more...* he decided, feeling the complaint from several quarters. *Okay... good, that's... that's a good idea...*

He stood up and stripped out of his uniform, dug through his packs and pulled out a set of workout clothes. He glanced at his lightsaber but decided combat drills weren't what he needed. *Maybe some poses...*

Plan established, he left his room and headed towards the physical training center. This time of day was the most busy, with Trainees and junior Padawans in classes and groups, working with one another all through the complex. Obi-Wan entered one of the larger chambers, a mirror-lined room with hardwood floors. There was a group of about twenty students scattered about, each in various stages of the Mountain Pose. It took Obi-Wan a moment to realize he had intruded upon a formal class, rather than a casual gathering. He looked around and finally spotted the instructor. One of the Training Masters was working with a particular student, his hands guiding her shoulders to the proper position. With a start, Obi-Wan recognized Knight Rendian Elan.

Obi-Wan cleared his throat and Elan looked around. He murmured something to his student and came over to meet Obi-Wan. "Greetings, Padawan Kenobi. Can I help you with something?"

Obi-Wan looked away. "Would you believe I need help with my Mountain Pose?"

"Not for a second, Obi. But let's see it anyway," Elan replied, stepping back.

Obi-Wan bowed, then set his feet close together on the floor. He spread his toes and set his heels, drawing up from the ankles, lifting with the knees, inner rotation on the thighs, flex of belly and lift of chest. His shoulders settled back, back, shoulderblades touching just barely behind him.

"You're holding your pose in your face, Padawan. Relax your tongue, let your eyes fall back in the sockets... better. Relax your arms, your hands... focus on the breath. Better, better. Now, do you want to tell me why you're down here?" Elan's tone was so familiar, the voice Obi-Wan had first learned to confide in.

"It's Qui-Gon, I mean... Master Jinn..." Obi-Wan began, then stopped. "I don't know what he wants from me."

"Have you asked him?" Rendian asked

"I... I don't think I'm ready to," Obi-Wan admitted.

"Really? Why is that?"

"Um..."

"I see. Well, mind your knees and think about that while I work with the others," Elan instructed with practiced ease.

Obi-Wan did as he was told, pondering his reluctance as he followed the class through their exercises. From Mountain they progressed to Tree pose, left foot on the inside of the right knee, hands overhead. Obi-Wan relaxed into the familiarity of the basic poses, feeling more comfortable as his muscles warmed and his body strove. At the same time, his mind was doing laps, pursuing the reason for his unease with a singular focus.

*Why am I not ready? I know the Force wants me with him. I know we have a lot of work to do before I'm even ready to...*

"Obi-Wan, relax your face. You look like you just bit into a jubuke," Elan reprimanded from across the room.

Obi-Wan shifted from right foot to left, being more mindful of his countenance. When Elan called for Downward Dog pose, Obi-Wan was more than ready for it. He pressed up into position, feet flat on the floor, palms pressing down firmly as he let his weight hang between them. Some part of him registered the various groans from his classmates. *I remember when this wasn't a resting pose,* Obi-Wan smiled, then schooled his mouth back to relaxation. He let his head fall forward and simply observed the pose, letting his thoughts still for the first time in days.

Obi-Wan focused on his breath, letting the taste of it pool upon his tongue. As he relaxed further into his posture and observed his pose, he drew up the keto he had been recently translating. The taste of his breath reminded him of the Language keto:

Ne, duc nata sersol, privaco du Esper
See, hidden upon the air, the secrets of the Breath

Sinking deeper into those keto, he drew up the Downward Dog keto:

Between soil and sky is Air
the Breath of all between.
Draw in and hold it, warming
Release and tell your secrets to the All
Release and tell your secrets to Yourself

Obi-Wan let his eyes drift closed and immersed himself in the Force. He let the eddy and flow of the Moment draw his thoughts toward contemplations that would lead him eventually to understanding. He drew air in through his nose, focusing on his questions and the source of his confusion. Releasing the breath, he sent those questions out of himself. Deeper and deeper he descended in meditation until all respiration tasted of one word in the Language of Great Mystery. His mouth was full of the flavor that meant Qui-Gon Jinn.

*What if Qui-Gon thinks... believes I do not love him? Does that mean he would not love me?*

Obi-Wan held the pose, letting his breath be his focus and catalyst for contemplation. Sex, he knew, was not specifically an indicator of love. That was a lesson he had learned early and taken to heart. *But does sex specifically mean there is NOT love?* This, he knew, was far from true. Qui-Gon had professed love often, clearly and without remorse. Obi-Wan thought back, then to the time when he began his explorations and experiments with his own sexuality. That learning had begun, of course, with Qui-Gon's blessing. They had been sharing a lunch when Qui-Gon brought the subject up.

"Padawan, I have received a request for approval from one of your friends. Padawan Charistae came and asked..." Qui-Gon had begun, then stopped. "Do you know what a request for approval is?"

Obi-Wan had blushed and nodded.

"Padawan Charistae asked if she might have it. She's... a bit older than you, just turned eighteen. If you would like for me to accept, I will... but you will need your advanced Humanoid Sexuality class, and a birth control implant..."

Obi-Wan hadn't answered immediately. The prospect was exciting, permission to date, to do more, if he wished. "Swed and Jenji are signed up to take HS next week," he said.

"I think you are a little young, yet, Padawan. I... I really think you might want to let me turn Charistae down. It will give you time to ponder, to consider whom you might... prefer," Qui-Gon had hesitated. "Someone you know a little better would be preferable."

Obi-Wan had nodded, accepting his master's words.

"Isn't Swed a little old for HS?" Qui-Gon had asked.

Obi-Wan shrugged. "He'll be twenty in a couple of months, but his physiology runs a little slower than standard. I think he's about on time. Why?"

Qui-Gon smiled. "Well, I was just wondering if maybe he was waiting for someone."

"Not that I know of," Obi-Wan had replied. "I'd like to take the HS if I can, Master. Just to be... ready."

And that had been the end of it. Corubia had taken the same session as he. At the time the four of them had suspected a bit of matchmaking on the part of their masters. Their following foray to the professionals' quarter had been more rebellion at that than anything else. Obi-Wan had quite enjoyed that introduction to sex, had been glad later that his first partners hadn't been hampered by shyness or lack of experience. Now he wondered. *Could those first encounters have shaped me so much?*

Apparently they had. Even in the beginning, when requests for approval had been many, Obi-Wan had selected his partners on what now seemed very shallow criteria. Never had he entertained the idea of a long-term relationship. Until Obream. Obi-Wan focused his breathing again and released his residual anxiety to the Force.

Obream.

*Everyone has their heart broken at least once, Kenobi. You managed to protect yourself from further pain, but... but what have you given up for that? And what have you gained? Solitude, a psychological flaw, a reflexive fear of intimacy... is it worth it? And whom have you hurt? Whom are you hurting still, with this aloofness and cold-heartedness?*

The air warmed within him and again he tasted Qui-Gon. *He's patient, but you can't assume he'll wait forever. The warmest embers will cool if left untended...*

He knew not how much time had passed from that moment until the time he realized someone was calling his name. From the sound of it, it wasn't the first time. He descended from his pose and looked around. The children were gone; only Knight Elan remained.

"You looked like you were getting somewhere. Feel like talking?" Elan tossed him a towel and a bottle of water.

"No, but that's a sure sign that I need to," Obi-Wan replied, drawing his knees up to his chest.

"Indeed," Elan agreed. "So... troubles with your training?"

"No, not really. It's... a personal matter. You see, Qui-Gon and I are lovers now..." Obi-Wan explained. It felt odd to admit as much to someone he hadn't seen in so long. *Admit? Admission implies guilt...* he mused.

"So is that where the problem comes from? You don't know what he wants from you as a lover? I find it hard to believe you're so inexperienced, but I could recommend some resources..." Elan began with perfect reasonableness.

"No it's not... not THAT..." Obi-Wan replied, taking the opportunity to wipe his face. "THAT I can handle, thank you."

"I never doubted you could, really," Elan sat down next to him and took a long drink from his water bottle. "So, then..."

"It's this whole... relationship thing. I don't *do* relationships. At least, I haven't had much success with them and... that's where I'm having trouble," Obi-Wan sighed.

"Do you WANT a relationship with Qui-Gon, or would you prefer this to be something more casual?" Elan pressed.

"I thought... when we started out, I suppose I thought it would just be a fling... intense, good, but destined to end. Now, though... I've gotten some pretty good indications that it shouldn't be."

"Shouldn't be, or won't be? And indications from where?"

Obi-Wan drank some water before he answered. "The Force. I was on a mission, shepherded, and I had... well, a vision or something. Not really a foretelling, more like a series of memories all strung together. Well, I did have ONE vision of the future, with an implication that only I would understand. It would seem that I *must* become more... permanently involved with Qui-Gon, or bad things are going to happen."

"And you're not comfortable with this?" Elan inquired.

"Not in the least. Qui-Gon needs someone who can take care of him, be a true partner to him. And he needs something more, something I don't even understand, really. I think he wants... love, commitment, dedication..." Obi-Wan winced, realizing how cruel he sounded. "And it seems like I'm the one who has to give it to him."

Elan was silent for a long moment. "Are you feeling manipulated?"

Obi-Wan thought that over. "Well, if not that, then pressured. Yes. It would seem to me that some outside influence is *pushing* me to accept him. As if I have no other choice but to be with *him*."

"So you're rebelling."

"I am not!" Obi-Wan objected. "I'm just... considering my options."

"Waffling."

"Look, it's not like that. I mean, we're talking about *QUI-GON JINN* here. One of the best Jedi Masters ever!"

"Intimidating, isn't it?"

"Oh, I don't know why I even talk to you!" Obi-Wan fell back flat on the floor.

"Well, I am one of the few people who is willing to bully you," Elan mused. "Though I bet your friend Corubia would pay a hefty sum to have this conversation with you."

Obi-Wan rolled over to face his crèche master. "What if I try to love him, and I can't? What if I'm just not capable? What if I'm not..."

"Good enough?" Elan asked, ever so gently.

"Yeah."

"Well, at least you're consistent," Elan smiled. "Did Master Jinn ever get around to explaining your Potential to you?"

Obi-Wan nodded. "Why didn't you..."

Elan shrugged. "Machinations of various higher-ups. Particularly Master Paje."

"Why does he seem to have a hand in EVERYTHING?" Obi-Wan demanded.

"Because he has been your guardian and protector since the moment you came into the Temple," Elan replied. "Mine too, and several others. He's up to something, planning for the long run and setting up pieces for some endgame that I can't even really imagine. But that is neither here nor there. Obi-Wan, I'm sure you're already aware that High Potentials are generally in possession of some flaw or another... as are all beings. For High Potentials, though, it can be slightly more cumbersome. I've often thought your self-image could use some work..."

"You needn't be gentle, Sir. I have severe and unchecked feelings of unworthiness. Of this I am perfectly aware," Obi-Wan informed him.

"Well, then *act* like you know it. You feel like you're not good enough to be with Master Jinn, you *know* those feelings come from an unreliable source and *yet* you continue to give in to those feelings. You also continue looking for a method to justify them." Elan tisked at his one-time student. "I'd lay cookies to credits that you haven't even discussed this with him."

Obi-Wan frowned.

"You might as well go ahead and talk to him, find out what he wants. Only THEN will you be able to dither properly about whether or not you can give it to him," Elan stood up. "I have to go see about getting an art room for tomorrow's group. Obi-Wan... listen to me. You said the Force is urging you towards being with Qui-Gon. PLEASE pay attention. Don't reject this out of baseless fears or ephemeral emotions. Find the *truth* of yourself, your situation, and accept that."

Obi-Wan nodded unhappily.

"Is he really so difficult to be with?" Elan asked, concerned.

"No. He is... I can't imagine anyone better. That's the problem."

"I see. Well, if he's so good, doesn't he deserve the best you can do for him? Don't hold out. And come to me again, if you feel you need me. I'm always about." Elan bowed. "And I will always be here for you."

"Thank you, Sir. You've always been most faithful to me," Obi-Wan sat up to bow in return.

"Be as faithful to yourself. Good day."

Obi-Wan fumbled through his pockets and pulled out his commlink.

"Nall."

"Cor! It's Obi! I'm back. Did you get my message while I was away?"

"Sure did."

"Can we have everything ready by tomorrow?" he asked.

"Absolutely."

"Are you sure your master is okay with all this?"

"Sure I'm sure. He thinks it's funny."

"Okay, well, I'll see you then. Kenobi out."


"Tea?" Arjet offered, taking a seat across from Qui-Gon.

"Yes, please," the younger Master replied. He struggled to hide a smile, but it simply wouldn't be stifled.

"So... how's operation 'submarine' going?"

"Um... all on schedule, near as I can tell. Do you know you have the sneakiest Padawan in the Order?" Qui-Gon inquired.

"Yes," Arjet confirmed. He seemed ready to go on, but the Learner in question chose this moment to put in an appearance.

"Luckily, I use my powers for good, rather than evil. That was Obi-Wan on the comm. It is my duty to report that my covert operation is in motion and our fish is very nearly in the boat," Corubia announced as she came in to join them at the table.

"And everything is ready for tomorrow?" Arjet inquired.

"Most assuredly. If Master Jinn can be persuaded to recall his appointment at the appropriate time," Corubia replied.

"I'm not sure I trust any of you on this," Qui-Gon began. "Just what is it you're plotting?"

"That would be telling," Corubia smiled. "Sorry. Enlist a double agent and you only get half the story."

Qui-Gon chuckled. "I'll have to remember that, in my future dealings."

"So, what did you do to my brother? Do I need to call you out for it?" Corubia asked.

"Well, I... I didn't do anything I didn't want to do," Qui-Gon hedged.

"Always a good start," Arjet assured him.

"And I gave him something to think about."

"Possibly the most dangerous move ever considered, but probably necessary," Corubia put in.

"Then I left him to stew," Qui-Gon concluded.

"So... what are you looking to happen?" Arjet asked.

"Hopefully, he'll stew in such a manner as to make him open to conversation. Then... honesty." Qui-Gon drank deeply of the astringent tea Arjet seemed to be favoring these days.

"Total honesty?" Arjet pressed.

"Even the stuff he doesn't want to hear. Even the stuff I don't want to say," Qui-Gon assured him.

"Tall order," Corubia said.

"Very. I don't expect this to be pleasant. We're likely to end up rather... stressed. But it's either this or give up. I'm not really very good at quitting," Qui-Gon shrugged.

"Good old stubbornness. That trait has saved you more often than any other," Arjet smiled.

Just then, Qui-Gon's comm link chirped. "Jinn."

"Master? It's Obi-Wan. Can we talk?"

"Sure. What's going on?" Qui-Gon asked.

"Not like this... would you meet me in our quarters?"

"Absolutely. I'm on my way," Qui-Gon ended the call. "Wish me luck."

"Lots of it..." Arjet said, saluting with his cup. "And don't forget, meet us here at noon tomorrow."

"Right, right. How could I forget?" Qui-Gon gave his friends a suspicious look, then shrugged. "As long as you don't feed me that awful sego-merthat again."

"Wouldn't dream of it. I like my carpets this color," Arjet replied, his expression a study in solemn serenity. "Go on, now. Be gentle."

Qui-Gon finished his tea and set out for his quarters to open the most important negotiation of his entire life.


Obi-Wan found Qui-Gon waiting on the sofa when he returned to his quarters. He had taken some time to focus on the Moment, an exercise *much* needed. He was hovering on the edges of serene contemplation, firmly centered and strictly balanced when he took a seat on the sofa. The Force was pulsing through him, stilling his thoughts to something like clarity. To his surprise, he found his master to be in a similar, pre-meditative state. **Master?**

//Hmm?//

**Is there something we can do to... seek harmony?**

//Unity Feathers?//

**Delighted to.**

There was a long pause in their thoughts as Obi-Wan waited for Qui-Gon to move himself into Obi-Wan's mind. When he realized his master was not going to do this, he asked **Why do we wait?**

//You are beyond the need for intrusive mindtouch. We are already joined. Did you not want to begin this?//

Obi-Wan replied by starting the paired meditation. In his mind he created a dark void, a backdrop for the exercise. When this was achieved, he closed his eyes and formed the mental image of Qui-Gon Jinn, Master Jedi, and let the image become reality between them. In the same moment, he became aware of his master's mental image of himself. The images floated in that mental void, shared between master and student, the groundwork for their communal meditation.

Obi-Wan looked his own image over, surprised at what Qui-Gon had presented him with. He was not in his regular uniform, far from it. Instead, he wore loose silvery pants and a pale blue sweater. His feet were bare, hair in the exact style he currently wore, braid tucked away with his tail, too-long locks standing up in artful disarray. He began his alterations there, changing it back to the shorter cut with which he was more comfortable. Next he let the braid be where it *ought* to be, then left the rest alone.

He looked to the image of Qui-Gon, amused to note his master had changed his attire. A long, colorful vest covered tunics, hanging to just above his master's boot-tops. His hair was now hanging loose and wild, not a strand of silver in it, and the length had been extended halfway down his master's back. He looked... natural. Obi-Wan looked back at his own image and sighed. *When will I truly know what I am?*

He pushed that thought aside and took control of Qui-Gon's image once more. The Unity Feather only required that feathers, in some form, be used. Perfect feathers, images so strong within the creator's mind that an outside observer could see them as clearly as the person who visualized them. He considered the man before him and decided to use the image that had always seemed most natural to his master.

Creamy white wings spread out behind Qui-Gon, and Obi-Wan sensed his master's amusement. He had so often tried to make this image work, make the power and grace so naturally a part of the Master come through in the symbol of these wings... so often that he had begun to believe this as an exercise in futility. That belief, however, had never deterred Obi-Wan from trying again and again. Besides, it had been amusing, over the years, to see his master's opinion of his student alter and be represented in the Feathers.

He focused himself again on the wings. Strong, arching up high and spread wide in pure white splendor. Often he had added silver edges, or pale, milky tones to echo the Jedi uniform and his master's greying hair. He studied his primary image again, trying to understand why his vision did not ring true, no matter how he tried.

*Your understanding is incomplete.*

That was the explanation Qui-Gon had always given him, one that had so often frustrated Obi-Wan. Understanding of what? The exercise? The symbolism? The subject?

Qui-Gon?

Well, that seemed the most likely answer, now that he thought about it. The image before him was one of Jedi purity, strength, wisdom, serenity, all the things he believed his master to be. But was that all... inclusive? He had to think it was not. There was nothing of Qui-Gon's fire, his stubborn tenacity, his often-sublimated emotional pain - none of the things that Obi-Wan wanted so often to simply ignore. But in ignoring them, he could not achieve an honest unity. Also absent was Qui-Gon's sense of humor, appreciation of beauty, unconditional love... nor was there music here.

*Qui-Gon loves music,* Obi-Wan suddenly realized. *And animals. These are really, really wrong...*

He began reshaping the wings, transforming them from the holy symbol of a Master and into the more delicate, elegant lines of the crane. *Better... needs more...*

He focused in on the softer, short plumes on the inner lines, coloring them to a rich yellow-green. Then, with careful deliberation, he began selecting colors for the primaries. Red for spirit, gold for perseverance, bright blue for laughter, rich violet for artistry, amber for affection. Indigo for lust. The image drew splendid life into itself, achieving a strength and clarity that Obi-Wan had so often missed. Still, it wasn't quite right, not entirely the truth. Still something missing, something vital that Obi-Wan couldn't quite put his finger on.

He let his thoughts still, trying to bring forth his total impression of his master. *And lover, don't forget that. And friend, partner... he's not just your damn teacher, you know. He's had a life before you, without you. Where is that, in these feathers?*

And that was it, of course. He had added nothing of his own curiosity, his lack of information regarding his master's true self here. This was only the picture of how he *thought* his master was. Where was the uncertainty? Where the mystery of the man he had lived with for so long? And just how long was he going to accept the illusion that what he knew and liked about Qui-Gon was the sum of his parts?

He focused on the image once more and let the rest of the feathers be grey. Grey for uncertainty, the unknown and undiscovered parts of Qui-Gon Jinn. The spaces that yet needed to be filled in Obi-Wan's knowledge. Almost... almost...

*You're ignoring something...* he repeated to himself. *He's no pure Jedi and never has been. He's failed in the past, lost friends, hopes,... students, because of that failure. You've wanted to see him as a Perfect Master, but he isn't. He doesn't WANT to be, either.*

So Obi-Wan carefully tipped each feather with dead, matte black. The Darkness that Qui-Gon fought and defeated, every day of his life. The Darkness that Obi-Wan never thought about, never feared, never battled. The Darkness that had touched Qui-Gon and would forever dominate his destiny. *Black is made by all colors...* Obi-Wan thought, unsure of that idea's origins. He put it away for later consideration and refocused on the image. Nearly there...

He let the tunics fall open, trying to find the last detail he needed to complete this picture. Something he'd seen only briefly, an element merely hinted at. *Music* he reminded himself. Yes... that's it...

He recalled the glimpse of Qui-Gon dancing before his mirror and let that memory guide him. *He moves with power, grace... that much is sure. But then... he had a freedom.*

Freedom. That was the key to this riddle. Qui-Gon was, above all things, free.

And finally the image was complete. No longer did the Master stand, sure-footed and ready for duty. Now he flew in a complicated, free-form ballet of unchained spirit. Obi-Wan held the image and waited for Qui-Gon to be ready for receiving it.

A moment later, and Qui-Gon was ready for the exchange. Obi-Wan sent his creation over and received his own. At first he frowned, but then he had to laugh.

Qui-Gon had presented him with the image of himself holding a small feather-fan. For years Qui-Gon had added feathers to that little fan, each one holding some significance in Qui-Gon's estimation. Some were easy to work out. The fire-wing primary was for Obi-Wan's burning desire for knowledge. A short, yellow, fuzzy one he had puzzled over for ages, and had come no closer to understanding. His attention today fell on the newest addition. A peacock, he thought, knowing of no other bird that had three-foot long tail feathers topped with a vibrant, round pattern. So his master thought him a peacock, did he? But in what sense?

It suddenly occurred to him what other significance a peacock feather had between himself and his master. When, months ago, he had made and offered the Feathers of Heaven to Qui-Gon, they had used only one of the pair. The blue plume had been the catalyst for their current relationship, but the other had gone unused. The other, Obi-Wan smiled to note, had been made of a peacock feather. So... what does that mean? He wracked his brain for what he had read regarding the feathers. Always in pairs, they came. No specific feathers needed, but they must not be a matched set. They must be readily identifiable as separate pieces to a whole. One for desire and one for love.

And Qui-Gon had always known what the second feather was for.

*Well I'll be damned. He sees my love for him.* Obi-Wan let the image fade away and opened his eyes. He fixed his gaze upon Qui-Gon once more, stilling his emotions and finding peace within that knowledge. *Okay, he knows. He knows and accepts and wants it. Okay. Okay. Everything's just fine.*

And somehow, it was.

After a long moment, he opened his eyes. "Well?"

"Your understanding grows more complete," Qui-Gon replied. "We should talk."

"No," Obi-Wan contradicted. "You should talk. I should listen. This time, I swear I will listen with an open heart."

"Well," Qui-Gon sighed. "I wasn't really expecting that."

"How long has it been since I simply sat and listened to your words, Master?" Obi-Wan shook his head. "See? There I go again." He folded his hands in his lap and gazed steadily upon his master.


Qui-Gon drew his knees up against his chest and wrapped his arms around them. His Padawan sat less than two feet away, a vibrant, beautiful, highly sexual being with absolutely no sense of being loved or cared for. *Time to end that.*

"There was once a time in my life when all things were beautiful, exciting, new... and nothing was beyond my reach. I was very young, Obi-Wan. I was raised, not as you were, not in the crèche, but by a Master. My master, Sarafel, found me and took me as her Padawan as soon as she could get me back to the Temple. I was almost twelve before I knew how unusual that was." Qui-Gon stretched his legs out and settled in for the long haul. He fixed his eyes on the carpet and took a deep breath.

"The reason I didn't know is because I was... kept apart... from the other children. I was considered to be dangerous, a threat, a possible future enemy of the Order, a fact that was not kept secret from me. The Council knew, through the Force, that I held some special place in the scheme of things. I believe it frightened them. I know *I* frightened them. Master was allowed to raise me here in the Temple, but only as long as she accepted the hardest missions, the most difficult tasks, and trained me up as quickly as possible. This, she did."

Qui-Gon glanced over at Obi-Wan, but his expression had changed little. His brow was slightly furrowed in deep concentration, but he was otherwise still.

"When I reached an age when I was deemed old enough to explore matters sexual, I had begun to feel... disconnected. Every move I made was the subject of intense scrutiny by myself, my master, the Council, random strangers... anyone with any kind of interest was constantly calling me into account over my choices. I was *young*, Koatel, very, very young, for all that I grew up being sent on missions no child should have ever been subjected to. I saw combat for the first time when I was eight. I took my first life at nine and things never got any better. By the time I was sixteen I was comfortable in my place apart from and above my peers. But by the time I was eighteen, I discovered I was desperately lonely." Qui-Gon rubbed his eyes. "My master is a good person, but... I was lonely."

Obi-Wan looked on him with the frank curiosity of a child seeing a creature in a zoo. Qui-Gon frowned. Obi-Wan blinked, then stilled again.

Qui-Gon stood abruptly. "Never mind."

He was aware that Obi-Wan called out to him, aware that his student was following him when he left their quarters, but not for nothing was he a Jedi master. He made his way quickly to the busiest corridor and faded in with the foot traffic. When he was sure he had the spare moment out of visual contact, he stepped into a lift.

A few levels later he got back off and took another to the floor he sought. A quick scan of the area told him that Obi-Wan was nowhere to be seen, so he turned his steps towards the Aviary. As he walked, he pulled out his comm link.

"Paje."

"Arjet, I need a favor."

"Quigs? I thought you and Obi-Wan..."

"We were. I need a favor."

"Anything in my power. You know that."

"Get me off planet. Now. Today. I changed my mind. I'll... get Obi-Wan assigned to the crèche and... something. He wants to teach, anyway. Daego, Ero Phelian, I don't care just get me the hell out of here." Qui-Gon palmed the Aviary door open and stopped just inside. The calm joy of living from every creature's mind washed over his soul like a balm.

"Quigs, what happened?"

"Nothing! Nothing happened. I just... I can't DO this, Arjet! He was looking at me like..."

There was silence from the comm link for a long moment. Qui-Gon stepped inside the net pass-through and sat down on the tile floor. He opened one of the enclosures. A small bundle of fur instated itself on his lap and he began to slowly stroke its back.

"What was he looking at you like, Qui-Gon?" Arjet finally asked.

"Like I was a... *thing*. I couldn't... I can't..." Qui-Gon faltered to a stop.

"You're going to have to. Request denied."

Qui-Gon stared at the comm link in shock as the connection was cut.

"Master?"

Qui-Gon twisted around to see Obi-Wan standing in the pass-through of the net enclosure. His face was a study in worry and confusion. He came forward, moving slowly and keeping his hands to his sides as Qui-Gon had taught him, the proper manner to approach a skittish creature. When he was just an arm's length away, he sat back on his heels and lifted his fingers towards Qui-Gon's hair. Qui-Gon sat very still, watching those fingers with a fierce intensity.

Obi-Wan stroked Qui-Gon's hair once, twice, then retreated. After a long moment, he moved forward and sat down, slipping his legs to either side of Qui-Gon's body. "Tell me what I have done to you..."

Qui-Gon jerked, started to rise and found himself captured in a firm embrace. "WHAT did I DO to you??" Obi-Wan demanded. "I've never seen you look so hurt in my life, and it had to have been me. I was the only one sitting there. WHAT did *I* do?"

"It's not you, Padawan. It's just... memories and... the past..."

"Bullshit. You were planning to run off and leave me here. Leave me. Your Padawan. That absolutely is not like you, Master. Now tell me, or I go corner Master Paje and see what he knows." Obi-Wan wrapped his arms around Qui-Gon's ribcage. "Please, Pan, just... just tell me."

Qui-Gon leaned forward to put the animal back in its cage. He twisted around to face his lover. "You fucked me like... like you didn't even know me. Like you didn't give a damn who you were in or what I thought about it. Like you didn't give a damn about me. I can't handle that."

Obi-Wan blinked, pulled back from Qui-Gon. "This is about sex?"

"Sex actually *matters* to me, Koateleu. I don't go into it with an emotional divorce towards my partner. So when you took me... and you didn't care about me..." Qui-Gon swallowed, wondering if the burning in his chest was detectable through their bond. "I felt used."

"Oh Master. Oh skies... why didn't you stop me? Why did you let me?" Obi-Wan demanded.

Qui-Gon gave a strangled laugh and looked away. The light splintered and wavered as tears threatened. "Let you? How could I deny you? I love you, Obi-Wan. Love you. I just... I wanted..."

The tears fell. Not many and not hard, but enough to make his breath catch in his chest and his nose run. "Obi-Wan, I'm so sorry. I just wanted you to like me, too."

"And... and you think I don't?" Obi-Wan laid a hand on Qui-Gon's. "You think I don't love you at all?"

Qui-Gon shrugged. "You love me. I saw that in your thoughts. But when you were fucking me... skies I hate the way that sounds. When you were fucking me you didn't care about me at all."

"Well, then... don't you think we should stop?"

"I... I suppose that would be for the best," Qui-Gon sighed. "I just don't know how we go back to being student and teacher, after this."

"What? Oh. Oh, well... that wasn't what I meant. I meant, shouldn't we stop having sex until we're ready for it?" Obi-Wan shrugged. "It usually helps..."

Qui-Gon frowned.

"Hey! Don't go running off again!" Obi-Wan forestalled him. "Listen, I just... I had a lot of time to think at San Saloor. In fact, I had a pretty solid bit of revelation set down for me in my meditations. I think... I think we started out badly. And I think maybe we should try to start again."

Qui-Gon sighed in relief. "You do? Because I was sort of thinking the same thing."

"Really?"

Qui-Gon nodded.

"Okay, how?"

Qui-Gon shrugged. "I didn't really plan anything. I didn't think you'd go along with it."

Obi-Wan frowned. "What did you think I'd do?"

"Throw me out on my ear. So to speak." Qui-Gon looked away. "That's what you usually do, when someone starts to care about you..."

Obi-Wan closed his eyes. "You heard about me."

"Your friends care about you. They want you to be happy and thought I might be able to help you. They also thought I might need some background information," Qui-Gon explained.

Obi-Wan was silent for a long moment. "If I kill them, I can't be knighted, right?"

"No, you can't," Qui-Gon agreed, a tiny smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.

"I'll just have to get creative, then," he announced. Then he sobered. "I didn't mean to hurt you, Master."

"I didn't mean to be hurt, Padawan. I really thought I could handle it, accept it. Too bad I turned out to be human, instead," Qui-Gon gave a weak smile.

Obi-Wan smiled in return. "I sort of prefer humans, so... I think it's a good thing." Just then the hour-chime sounded. "Dammit, I have to reconfirm that appointment with the Kurasian senator tomorrow and their offices are about to close. I don't believe this conversation is over, so... I'll see you later."

Qui-Gon quirked his mouth up on one side. "If you're quick enough."

"I... Master?" Obi-Wan took Qui-Gon's hand in his own and placed it over his heart. "I have not forgotten my Oath. I swear to be thy loyal, constant apprentice. I swear to be honored by thy love."

For a long moment Qui-Gon could not breathe. Then he took Obi-Wan's free hand and placed it over his own heart. "I swear to be thy protector, kindred, friend. I swear to love thee before I am loved." He leaned forward and brushed a kiss upon Obi-Wan's brow. "I swear."

Obi-Wan closed his eyes and bowed his head. "We should have remembered our oaths sooner."

Qui-Gon couldn't help but agree. He watched his student retreat from the Aviary, heart filled with many disparate emotions. He folded his legs up into Lotus and closed his eyes. There was much yet to meditate upon.




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 9.99: The Language of Great Mystery: Written on the Air

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

68 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Closed-Unfinished
Written May 29, 2000 by HiperBunny

Setting: Star Wars Episode 1

Primary Races: Human

Contents: Slash (M/M). Alternate Universe, Angst, Fraternization, Sex (First Time)

Pairings: Obi-Wan/ Qui-Gon

Blurb: Obi-Wan comes home. Qui-Gon speaks up. Things go badly all around.

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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