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

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

The Aviary was lively today. Qui-Gon had come down to feed and care for the many resident strays. Though Qui-Gon was the most renowned 'collector,' he was far from the only person to do so in the Temple. He had completed his work quickly and stayed to watch the various creatures go about their lives. The smaller creatures liked to be close to him and fit easily in the huge pocket of Qui-Gon's surcoat, so he was wearing that article for the first time in what seemed like an age. He liked the knee-length sleeveless coat, but all too often found himself in need of his more formal tunics or even his uniform to lend his activities an official air. But today was all for himself, so he was free to give his patients a ride in his pocket and waste time.

The Council had indeed restricted the whole of the Group to Coruscant's local sector. They could not go further than eight hours' travel in any direction and were expected to be at the disposal of the Council at any time of day or night. While this precluded most types of work around the Temple, it didn't prohibit goofing off. Qui-Gon had taken the opportunity to do just that. Obi-Wan had left early, saying that he and Corubia were going to try and start cataloging his book collection that morning.

His comm link chirped and he had to maneuver it out from under a scrogo before answering. "Jinn."

"Quigs! Where are you?" Arjet Paje sounded just a little harried.

"I'm in the Aviary. Is there something I can do for you?" Whatever it was, he was sure it would not be work-related. Arjet went to a great deal of trouble to get Qui-Gon to relax every now and again. The nameday party was a shining example.

"I've lost my Padawan."

Qui-Gon laughed. "Why are you calling me? Chirp her commlink. Mindcall her."

"I did. Her link is in her room. I guess she forgot it. And she's shielded up something awful... I can't get through to her." From the rhythm of his speech, Qui-Gon could picture him perfectly, pacing in a little circle and tugging on his copious hair.

"Well, let me think. She and Obi-Wan were supposed to work in the library today. Did you check there?"

"Yes, yes, of course. They said she was there earlier but got kidnapped by Trainees! I thought they were having me on, but she's not down here."

"You're at the library? Is Obi-Wan there?"

"No! I thought he'd know where she went, but they're both gone!"

Qui-Gon laughed outright. "Don't worry, Arjet. I know where your Padawan is. But let me ask you you still have that double-boiler we used to share?"

"Uh, yes...why? I don't have time for games, Quigs! I have to find her!"

"Don't worry, just get the double-boiler and the scrapers if you still have them. Meet me at the Trainee's garden." Qui-Gon put his comm link away, restored the scrogo to its enclosure and headed out of the Aviary in the direction of the nearest catering unit.

When Qui-Gon entered the Trainees' Garden all activity paused and silence descended. He had forgotten what an unusual occasion his arrival would be here. He spied Obi-Wan sitting in the middle of a circle of children, his mouth agape, hands frozen in mid-motion of carving a bit of candy. One of the children leaned closer to him and stage-whispered, "Busted."

Qui-Gon pointedly turned away from the little group, looking for a place to set his load down. One of the other children stopped her work with a patch of flowers and approached him. "May I help you with something, Master?"

"Yes, please. I need a place to put these. Master Paje will be along to help me shortly." Qui-Gon indicated his supply of foodstuffs with his chin.

The trainee looked a little embarrassed, saying, "Well, the only place really is over there with Padawan Nall and Obi- uh, Padawan Kenobi. Maybe you could take the spot on the other side of the dydrangias?"

Qui-Gon followed the child to a place somewhat apart from Corubia and Obi-Wan's activities. The Padawans were carrying on as if nothing was wrong, despite the fact that they were doing everything in their power to not be noticed by Qui-Gon. This was a peculiar Padawanian trait, one Qui-Gon often wished he still had. Masters at the Temple were inclined to let the students do as they would, knowing that a Padawan got little if any free time to just fool around and be young. Unless something dangerous or disruptive occurred, they would be left to their own devices.

As a consequence, the Padawans learned that if they could avoid eye contact or direct speech, they weren't in trouble.

"Is there anything else I can do for you, Master?"

Qui-Gon looked more closely at his companion. "Yes...What is your name?"

"I'm Sayjil, Master."

"Sayjil, would you take this jug and fill it with potable water, please?" Qui-Gon handed a pitcher to the girl.

"Yes, Master."

Qui-Gon began opening packages while keeping an eye on the silvery-skinned child. She ran back to the flowerpatch she had been working on and picked up her lightslate. She typed rapidly with one hand, nodded then dashed to the water taps.

*Probably had to look up 'potable,' you dimwit,* Qui-Gon berated himself as she made her way back to him.

"Potable: suitable for drinking," she said, using a tone more suited to a classroom.

"Very good," Qui-Gon praised. "Did you have an assignment, or are you here on free time?"

"It's my free period just now. I'm trying to breed a pure strain of green saderias, but I keep getting problems in the third generation. I thought I'd come do my data while I had the chance," she explained.

"Maybe my Padawan could help you. I think he knows something about it," Qui-Gon suggested.

"He helped me lay out my garden, but I sort of wanted to do this myself. Oh, and he gave me a really good charting system to use. I wanted to try again before I got him to help me." She sat down and watched Qui-Gon measuring various ingredients into a large bowl. "I'm really just being stubborn this time. He always knows what's going wrong and shows me how to fix it better than anyone."

Qui-Gon studied the girl closely for a moment. She'd be as good a test subject as any. "Now if you just sit still and watch, I'll give you something for being so helpful."

"Yes, Master." The tone was properly deferential, but her eyes glittered with excitement. "Obi-Wan, I mean, Padawan Kenobi says you know some of the best tricks... is this one of them?"

"Is that what he says? Well, yes, I suppose this is one of them, but I don't think Obi-Wan knows about it." Qui-Gon looked up to see Arjet enter the garden. The other master had a box of tools under one arm and the small boiler in tow. Qui-Gon waved him over. //Don't even look at her, Arjet.//

<<Right, right. I forgot about that. What the hell is she doing down here, Quigs?>>

//Spoiling the Trainees, same as us.//

<<You've lost your mind. >>

//No, just my stuffiness. Come on, Arjet. Tell me you haven't missed this, and I'll call you a liar. I missed this and I am bar-none the stodgiest, most hidebound, most ice-cold Master the Jedi have to offer. //

<<Oh. I see. Not your mind. You've lost your heart. >>

//We've already discussed this, friend. //

<<Yes, we've discussed it, but how far did you get with Obi-Wan?>>

Qui-Gon didn't want to answer, so instead he settled the freestanding double-boiler between them and powered it up. Soon a sticky syrup was boiling away between them. Next he arranged two marble tiles and a set of scrapers on either side of the boiler. Last, he put a box of tongue depressors in easy reach. One look at Arjet told him the issue had not been forgotten.

<<Well? >>

//I'm trying, Arjet. I really am. He just can't seem to get it into his head that he's worthy of love. I don't know what to do, except to be patient with him, love him as best I can...he deserves better. Arjet, I...I've never been in love before. Not like this. I don't know how to win another's heart.// Qui-Gon blushed from top to toe.

Arjet began stirring the syrup; drawing it up in a dipper and letting it cascade slowly back into the pot. <<Well. That is a problem. But listen, you never lacked for company when we worked together. What about all that? >>

//Oh, Arjet! That was kid stuff! I can't go around sending him flowers and sneaking presents into his bedroom! He'd laugh in my face! //

<<Quigs, you idiot! Just how old do you think your Padawan is? >>

That startled Qui-Gon so badly he answered out loud. "Oh. He's, well, he's not quite twenty-three, is he?"

<<You're damn right he isn't! But he's Temple-raised, my friend, and if there's one thing you learn fast around here it's that sex doesn't change a professional relationship. If you haven't been wooing him outside the bedroom, he's bound to have the wrong idea. >>

//Oh boy. Um, what do I do?//

<<For skies sake, Qui-Gon! >> Arjet turned away from him, reaching for the rest of the supplies. <<Practice on the kids. If you can't figure it out from there, I'll swear I never knew you. Bah! And to think you succeeded in seducing me! My standards must have risen since then. >>

Qui-Gon watched as Arjet placed a tongue depressor on the marble tile before him and poured a circle of bright red syrup over it. He waited exactly three heartbeats before working it over with his scraper; twisting, shaping and cutting the rapidly hardening candy. He rapped the tile once with the handle of the flat tool and lifted the stick away. "Ha. Rooster. Record time."

Sayjil squealed with delight. "Do it again, Master Paje!"

Both the masters turned, surprised. They had forgotten their lone audience member. Arjet handed the lolly rooster over to her, but not before a collection of children came to see what had gotten such a reaction out of their normally quiet and contemplative friend.

Noisy demands to 'Do it again! Do it again!' soon filled the garden. The Jedi masters were hard pressed to keep up with the demand. Fish, scopos, lizards, flowers of all sorts and the odd mistake that couldn't be readily identified but was pretty good to eat anyway were produced at a fast clip. Sayjil was pressed into service to keep the syrup pot filled. Qui-Gon was laughing and chatting with the children around him when suddenly all fell silent.

He looked around to see Corubia and Obi-Wan staring down at their masters. Sayjil leaned close to him and whispered, "Busted!" The Padawans did not look amused. They did not speak their displeasure, rather kept the conversation internal, but mentally projected though the link to their Masters.

**Well. I guess this is one more area we'll have to abandon to get a little peace.** Obi-Wan's thoughts were bitter.

:: I heard you on that one, brother. I guess we'd better go back to the library. At least we're marginally needed there.::

Obi-Wan slung their dyebox strap over his shoulder and they turned on their heels in unison, making for the door to the Temple corridor.

//Oh skies, Arjet, I didn't think...//

<<You and me both, Quigs.>>

It was Sayjil that saved the Masters. "Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan! You can't go yet!" She chased after the two Padawans, face stricken. "You PROMISED!"

Obi-Wan turned on the little girl, schooling his expression to mildness. "And did you keep your end of the deal?" he inquired, clearly seeking a way out of his oath.

"Sure did." She chirped. "Look, here's first generation and second, here's the scales, just like you said...oh. Oh, I'm sorry, Padawan Kenobi. You have somewhere to be. I didn't mean..." Sayjil tucked her lightslate under her arm and fought a valiant fight with disappointment. "Next time. I'll...try to remind you next time."

Qui-Gon was floored by what happened next. Obi-Wan sank to his knees and drew the girl in for a hug, cuddled her for a long moment and then settled down on the grass. "Never think that I am too busy to keep my word to you, Sayjil. Come on, Cor. I can't do this alone."

The children around them quickly decamped to where the Padawans settled in on the grass. Whispers of 'They're doing the Dragon, look, c'mon. The Dragon!' filled the air. The Masters followed the children to watch.

Qui-Gon had never seen the like. Obi-Wan and Corubia worked seamlessly, with no perceptible communication, even at the subvocal level. Obi-Wan prepared a yellow wad of taffy while Corubia came in behind him with a sharp carving knife. Where he stretched and pinched, she cut and shaped. The blade passed within a hairsbreadth of his fingers, but they never faltered or slipped. Now Obi-Wan cut, teasing and scoring scales while Corubia gave final shape to the wings. A flurry of flicks and tucks, and a final twist, then a rampant dragon reared its snarling head, wings unfurled, tail gripping the skewer, one claw raised in defiance. This was swiftly painted in greens and reds, then handed over to the waiting Sayjil. She hopped up and came to show it to the Masters. "See? They only do this for you if you're really special." She looked at her lightslate and temporized, "Or if you did something just right, like my flowers. It's my flowers that are special."

Qui-Gon's heart thudded. He saw clearly in this child what he hadn't really been able to see in Obi-Wan. The aching need for approval, the self-doubt and worry, fear of failure, hope for success all colliding in a mind too caught up in its own concerns to recognize its own needs. Understanding only the drive to please, to earn love. Qui-Gon knelt down on the ground with Sayjil, took her hand and whispered. "You're special. It's you that's special, not the flowers. And if a dragon is what special people get, I have some work to do. Don't let Obi-Wan leave."

She nodded, dashed back over to the Padawans and planted herself on Obi-Wan's lap. Qui-Gon heard her chattering away, filling his ears with whatever she had thought of. The Jedi's heart swelled, watching Obi-Wan's care of her, his focus on her interests even as Corubia began gathering up their things once more. //That boy's too wonderful by half.// Qui-Gon poured a long, wide pool of syrup.

<<What are you doing, Quigs?>>

//Dragons are for special people.//

The scraper fair flew over the hardening candy, cutting and scoring, making filigree and angle, bending into three dimensions the shape in Qui-Gon's mind.

<<Where's the wings?>> Arjet asked.

//I only know this kind, without the wings. I hope it's good enough.// Qui-Gon bit the tip of his tongue, concentrated on getting the long mustaches just so, made the undulations as even as possible, the tail and claws as elegant as anything he'd ever seen in painting or sculpture, brought the Force to bear on the syrup as his time ran out, adding scales and a happy glint to the Dragon Lolly's eyes. He rapped the marble tile once and lifted it free.

<<Skies above, Qui-Gon. That's not a candy. That's art.>>

//He deserves better.// Still, it was the best he could do on short notice. The light glittered through the scarlet red candy, creating the illusion of gilt and movement as Qui-Gon approached Obi-Wan. "Padawan, I..." he stopped. "Obi-Wan, Koateleu, I..." he stopped again, knelt down by Obi-Wan, drew a deep breath. "I made this for you, especially. And I was wondering if you would like to have dinner with me tonight. Not here, there's a lovely restaurant in the Ds'hvala district, if you'd be so kind as to accompany me."

**Did you just ask me out on a date?** Even Obi-Wan's inner voice was high-pitched with shock.

//Yes. Will you go?//

Obi-Wan's fingers closed over Qui-Gon's as he took the Dragon Lolly. "Oh yes. Absolutely." And he leaned forward to kiss Qui-Gon full on the lips.

"Ugh, mushy stuff," Sayjil assessed, but stayed where she was, so as not to disturb the two. It was the chirp of Obi-Wan's comm link that finally interrupted them.

"Kenobi." **What time?**

//I'll pick you up at seven. Now, do you think you can beat me and Arjet at making candies or not?//

**Any day, any way, Master.**

Qui-Gon left his apprentice to take his call. And to get a head start on making treats.

"Darnit, Kenobi! If you don't hold still I'll never get this thing tied right." Corubia undid the sash and started again.

"I don't see why I have to go through with all this," Obi-Wan groused.

"Because it's a date, you nitwit. Darn it! Okay, turn around and look in the mirror. I'll have to do it that way." She positioned Obi-Wan in front of the full-length mirror and started the elaborate process of tying his inner sash once more. "You need to dress nice."

"But ... formal? I look like a noble."

"Exactly, little bro. He's trying to, you know, romance you. Give him something to work with." Corubia finally got the rebellious kimono tie exactly as she wanted it and secured it with a silver pin.

"Oh no! If that's what this is about, you can forget it. I'm going to put on my field uniform and wear a sack over my head." Obi-Wan tried to escape but found himself suddenly seated under a lapful of Corubia. She pinned him to the chair and stared at him from nose-length distance.

"If you didn't want this, why did you accept this date? Hmm?" she waited. When no answer was forthcoming, she continued. "And if he didn't want this, why would he have asked?"


"Oh is right. Now get your stockings on while I find a nice outer robe. I want something blue to go with that charcoal."

"Explain to me again how you got a key to Clothing Storage? This stuff is supposed to be for undercover operatives." Obi-Wan pulled on the thin silken socks, admiring the way they accentuated his leg muscles. His clothes were all of very fine silk and suited him quite nicely. Corubia had done something to his hair to make it fall in soft waves where it was long enough to hold shape. His braid was still secured in his tail, but otherwise, he found the effect to be rather appealing.

"Friends in low places, little bro. Here we go! See if this fits."

"I don't see why I have to go through with all this," Qui-Gon groused as Arjet circled him, winding the wide outer sash in an elaborate pattern.

"You're the one who invited the kid to the 'Whispering Plum Blossom'. And don't try to tell me you're NOT taking him there. I know you too well." Arjet stepped back to admire his handiwork. "You look good in silver. I can see why you chose it all those years ago."

"This isn't funny, Master Paje. The last time I wore this stuff you would have fallen down laughing at the idea of my becoming a Master. How do you talk me into these things?"

"Oh no, this was all your idea, Qui-Gon. Now come here, we have to do something with your hair." Arjet steered Qui-Gon to his desk chair and began undoing the leather thong. "And I never laughed at the idea of you becoming a master. Despaired of you surviving our nightlife? Yes. Three times a week, minimum."

"We were a couple of wild ones, weren't we?" Qui-Gon mused.

"Still are, when we get the chance. The only drawback is that we've been banned from every club and bar worth going to on this planet and we never get offworld together anymore. There! Perfect!" Arjet handed Qui-Gon the mirror.

"No. Try again. I'm not going for the 'Warrior' look this time. Panther, not Lion, okay?" Qui-Gon slapped the mirror down on the desk. "There's still one club we're allowed in, you know."

"Not for lack of trying. If anyone good enough to get into Seceria ever acts up enough to get thrown out, I'll eat my boots." Arjet replied.

"Sooo what are you saying? Is that a challenge?" Qui-Gon looked through a box of hair ornaments, trying to select one.

"Nah, not really. Besides, you can only incite an orgy in one place so often before it becomes cliché. And anything beyond that, well, we are Jedi Masters now," Arjet sighed regretfully. "But there's nothing to stop us from teaching our Padawans the way they should go."

Qui-Gon brightened considerably at this idea. And at the thought of his Padawan. "Do you think he'll enjoy it? I don't have any idea what kind of treatment he's expecting."

"Professional opinion? Your Padawan spends 90% of the time thinking he deserves to be kicked just on general principle."

"Really?" was Qui-Gon's dry return. "And in what pursuit does he spend the other 10%?"

"Um, being kicked. Hadn't you noticed?"

"To my shame, I did not notice until quite recently," Qui-Gon admitted.

"Okay, so you can make up for lost time. Protect him from other people's boots and his own. He'll soon find he has nothing to fear from yours."

"No. No fan. I absolutely refuse. And no keebu hat, either. That's for old men. I might be stuffy and boring, but I'm not old yet." Obi-Wan crossed his arms in a gesture of finality.

"Oh, all right. Come on, let's have a look at you," Corubia steered him to stand in front of the full-length mirror once more. "Well. You know what? If I'd seen you dressed like that before now, I'd've gone after you myself."

"Come on, Corubia! I'm your brother! You're my sister! Ew."

"Yeah, on moral grounds, ew, but look at you!" Corubia turned the harsh fluorescents off and let the warmer, more natural chiplights illuminate the reflection.

They had decided against white or brown, choosing a softer, textured charcoal for the pants and inner robes. An outer robe of midnight blue silk offset the brilliantly white sleeves of the undershirt. The silver pin was the only new thing that could be construed as jewelry, although Corubia had tried to add another ring to 'balance' the one he already wore. Obi-Wan would have blended nicely at any social dinner or state ball. He looked elegant, refined, gentlemanly.

"Wow. I look...good." Obi-Wan said, surprised.

"To say the least. Come on, we have to get back to my place before Qui-Gon comes to pick you up." Corubia scooped his belongings up in one arm. "Now remember, you're the pursued here, so act like it."

"Act like it?"

"You know what I mean, Kenobi. And forget being Jedi. This is personal time, the 'beyond all that' bit. Oh, and your date's name is 'Qui-Gon', not 'Master'." Corubia threw a glance over her shoulder. "See if you can get him to dance with you. You're a very good dancer."

"You should know. We learned together."

"And Qui-Gon taught us, so don't sweat it. Of course, if he does get up the guts to actually ask you, I owe Master a credit. I don't think he will."

"Why not?" Obi-Wan demanded. He could think of a great many reasons, not the least of which being that they were talking about his master. He just wanted to know Corubia's reason.

"I think he's totally forgotten everything he used to know. Your master was quite the swain when he and Master were partners. Got reprimanded twice for raising hell in some of Coruscant's less reputable nighttime entertainment establishments. You will not be visiting those tonight, so don't worry about it." Corubia said this with just a little too much authority.

"You two set this up, didn't you?" Obi-Wan accused.

"No, really, we didn't. We thought about it, collectively hoped for the past week, but no, this is all his doing. And yours," Corubia replied. "But I think Master remembers enough of his own experiences to correctly assess what Qui-Gon has planned for you."

"Well? What does he have planned?"

Corubia just headed for the laundry hamper, humming under her breath.

"Come on, put your head between your knees. Breathe, just breathe. That's it. Feeling better? Here's your fan." Arjet grinned at his friend.

"I can't do it. I can't. I just...come on. We'll snatch a speeder and go hide out at the Seceria club for the night." Qui-Gon gave his best pleading look.

Arjet went from friendly to threatening in the blink of an eye. "You would stand him up just because you had a little panic attack? What kind of a sadist are you?"

"An old one, who might be foolish enough to think this is a good idea when he's getting all dressed up in the safety of his own quarters, but not quite stupid enough to do this in public. Look at me, Arjet. I'm not that Knight you fell for, lo these many years ago." Qui-Gon kicked the wall he had been leaning against just seconds before.

"No. You're the man Obi-Wan might fall for if you'd just get a move on and pick him up on time. Come on, hat, fan, flowers and you're ready to go. You can do this. Just remember, you're the wooer here. Treat him like the precious being he is. And don't forget to dance with him. You're a wicked fine dancer. That's what did me in, you know. The way you MOVE."

Qui-Gon opened the door to the taxi and waited for Obi-Wan to situate himself. Leave it to Arjet and Corubia to see that they were dressed not only for the occasion, but for their pairing as well. Damn that Arjet anyway. None of this would be happening if he hadn't started scolding in the garden.

Qui-Gon settled in next to Obi-Wan and gave him yet another long, appraising stare. Okay, don't damn Arjet. They had hardly spoken, beyond awkward greetings and discussion of plans. Qui-Gon didn't quite know where to begin. His Koateleu looked ... well, stunning. Cultured and serene, poised and confident. Too bad he was radiating the jitters. Ah well, no one but another Jedi would know that and tonight Qui-Gon was dead set on not being very Jedi at all. He allowed himself the pleasure of admiring the curve of Obi-Wan's hip, the way the silk cupped it just so. He became so involved in cataloging this sight that he missed what Obi-Wan was saying. "Hmm?"

"I asked you if we were really going to do this. Date, romance, say out loud that this is more than just convenience fucking," Obi-Wan repeated.

"This is more than just convenience fucking. And if that isn't saying it out loud, I don't know what is," Qui-Gon replied.

"You know what I mean, Qui-Gon. I need to know. Are we going beyond wishing? Are we going to let this happen?" Obi-Wan was looking out the window as they sped through traffic.

Qui-Gon was lost in admiring the way moonlight clung to his date's skin. Funny how he'd never noticed that before. "Yes. Oh yes. Obi-Wan ... I am not a man of many words. Stop laughing. Look at me. I would offer you my soul if I knew how. I will offer you my life, my oath, my loyalty and love for as long as you might find use for them. I will offer and pledge them to you at any time you might be willing to accept them, in any way you see fit to ask for them. I await only your permission to offer these things to you."

Obi-Wan slid across the seat, took Qui-Gon's chin in a strong grip. "If you dare to be lying in this moment I will have my satisfaction, Qui-Gon Jinn." His eyes glittered with promises of violence, should he be so treated.

Breath was harsh in Qui-Gon's throat. *How can he believe I would?* He pressed his lips together, trying to stop the trembles there. No good. He gripped his hands together in his lap, forcing himself not to pull away or try to wipe at his eyes. *Not now. Breathe deep, not now. Hold on.* Only one sigh escaped to tell the tale of pain that Qui-Gon felt at Obi-Wan's accusation.

Obi-Wan saw it immediately. Soft lips captured Qui-Gon's mouth, warm tongue caressed it away. Then strong hands cupped Qui-Gon's head, cushioning it from hurt as he was borne down across the taxi seat. Obi-Wan covered his body, pinning him while kisses were pressed, hot and strong, to his mouth. He relaxed, opened himself, ready to give whatever assurances the other man might require. Anything to prove the veracity of his words.

The embrace softened, turning into an exploration. The soft exchange held the same feel as beginning a lifelong study, an intensive labor, a joyful work to bring fulfillment in every moment for all years to come. Part of Qui-Gon wanted to pull away, to stop and explain everything within him before things went too far. Another part of him was on vigilant guard for any action that might end in pain. Most of him just lay back and enjoyed it all.

The taxi driver was quite tactful in leaving them to each other until Obi-Wan came up for air. "Whispering Plum Blossom. Call if you need a lift home."

The interior of the Whispering Plum Blossom was done almost entirely in holos. The tables were arranged in tiers, overlooking a passable representation of a wooded glade with rushing stream. The walls and pillars were done in holos of plum trees that overhung the booths and settings the diners occupied. There were no mosquitoes or rain to ruin the idyllic scene, as there normally were in Obi-Wan's real life experience. He and Qui-Gon were free to take their seats in plush comfort, order from an extensive menu and wine list and admire the view without needing to swat anything.

Obi-Wan never gave the woods a second glance.

Qui-Gon, though. There was a picture worth a glance or hundred. Obi-Wan settled into a nice long gaze, thoroughly cataloging the exact shade of blue in his date's eyes and how nice it went with the masses of hair that framed his face. Beautiful, noble, regal, handsome, distinguished, cultured...nervous? "What is wrong, my Ma-, uh, Qui-Gon?"

"How old do I look? Old enough to be your father?" Qui-Gon demanded.

"What? Well, yes, of course. I thought that was the point to the dye job, beard, all that." Obi-Wan was certain that he had understood this correctly when it had been explained to him.

"That's it. No more. I'm letting this grow out and I'm not doing it any more. I won't have people looking at you like that." Qui-Gon pointed with his chin, indicating a group seated some few feet away.

"Like what? How were they looking at me?" Obi-Wan hadn't been paying attention at the time.

"Like you must either be my son or my boytoy and those robes are too enticing for an evening out with dad. You get enough of that running around with Drel. You hate playing that Faydrus and I won't have strangers thinking of you as him." Qui-Gon's voice was taking on heat as he spoke.

"Hmm. Well, I think I know how to solve that problem. Just answer the question," and Obi-Wan slid around the curved seat of their booth and put a hand on Qui-Gon's shoulder. "Is this something more, Qui-Gon? Am I something more than just your boytoy? I'd like to be..."

The words were cut off when Qui-Gon took Obi-Wan's face in his hands. "Truly? Will you truly let me love you?" All worries of outside observers were instantly banished.

"Now, wait just a second...there is still a great deal I need to stipulate here," Obi-Wan retreated from his master's touch. He grabbed his Jedi calm and reserve with both hands and held on for dear life. The hope in Qui-Gon's voice had almost undone him, moved him to declare his undying love and be done with it. *Be cautious now, Kenobi. This might be the trickiest negotiation you ever deal with.* "I'm not about to bind myself to you for all eternity here, but yes, I think I'd like to call this something more than a passing fancy ... can we agree on that?" He saw the change in posture, slowed breathing as Qui-Gon shifted instinctively to the role of negotiator. *Damn. He's much better at this than I am...*

"Yes, Obi-Wan. I think we can agree on that."

"You gave me a token of your affection some few days ago, you asked me to think on what I might want with you. I still don't know what I can realistically have, what with you being ... well, we're not exactly social equals, you know." Obi-Wan took a sip from his wineglass to hide his embarrassment. "But we will be one day. That's what I'm looking to, here. IF I pass my knighthood trials, our Bond will be broken. We both know what that means realistically."

"Yes, Obi-Wan. Whatever part of our current relationship is supported by that bond will simply dissolve, fade. I've been through it before," Qui-Gon reminded him.

Obi-Wan quirked a smile at his teacher. "Well, I haven't, so I don't really know a lot about it. So I'd like to stipulate that I don't really know how much of what I feel for you *is* influenced by our Bond. My belief is that my feelings for you are true and honest. My worry is that I might be... under the sway of an outside force."

"I very much doubt that, Padawan. The Bond touches on trust, but only to reinforce what is created between us. The rest ... I don't think it's an issue," Qui-Gon said.

"Well ... I really hope it isn't, but I won't be sure until the Bond isn't there anymore. So, when I say I want to hold off on certain things until after my knighting ... that would be my reason."

"I understand and accept those terms," Qui-Gon said, folding his hands in his lap. "I have some terms of my own to propose."

"By all means." Obi-Wan inclined his head.

"You are currently working with misconceptions about me, my desires, my needs and my ... sexual tastes. I feel it is incredibly important that we come to a more honest understanding before we resume a sexual relationship. I also would like to better understand your past behaviors, for my own comfort." Qui-Gon's hand crept across the table to touch Obi-Wan's fingers. "I need to know you better."

"I ... I feel the same," Obi-Wan conceded.

"For all that we have much yet to say and hear, I want you to understand that I love you, deeply and with all the lasting commitment I can offer," Qui-Gon continued. "I need to know... do you feel anything at all like that towards me?"

Obi-Wan swallowed and pulled his hands into his lap. He let his eyes wander over the restaurant, trying to decide how to explain. "I have known how you felt for some time now. The night after the Semsha you showed me how you felt, truly. It was just a moment, but...I began to hope. Began to think and consider and weigh my options. Then, while I was on San Saloor, the Force... spoke to me. Showed me things I hadn't really considered. I'm still thinking and weighing, really, but I have decided this. IF I pass my Trials and our bond is broken, I would like to continue our relationship. I'm talking about the more romantic, poetic...I'm trying to say that I do love you, in that indescribable..." here Obi-Wan broke off and reached out through the Force, hoping to find a way to express what language could not encompass.

Qui-Gon's mind was open to him, as it always had been.

**See, hidden upon the water, desires of the Living.**

//Where did you learn that?//

**One of my books...** Obi-Wan hesitated, then reached for Qui-Gon's hands. Pressing their palms together in such a manner as to align certain energy points, he recited:

**That which is All flows and runs
The Mighty River of all that is Living
As connected to every other Living as to itself
So stand Alone, so stand Together
With the Will that binds in Hope
With the Language that speaks in Desire
So join you one to another**

Obi-Wan carefully unwrapped his feelings between them, showing to his master things he had not even truly been able to show himself. The loneliness, the solitude and need for utter autonomy that he had always lived with. Then the more dangerous stuff, the welling in his heart that drove the coldness from his breast when Qui-Gon touched him. The strength that came of having another being to lean on in times of need. And love. More than like. A craving and a gift in one, down on the most basic levels of existence. Not the need to be loved, that he could live without feeling, forever. No, something else, a wealth of emotion, desire, connection, hope, joy, protectiveness, loyalty, peace, lust, faith, tears, respect, laughter, the scent of warm bread, taste of a kiss given in sleep, warmth of hair and breath, sweet surrender to the strength of something greater than the self.

//You want to give love, have your love valued by another. No, you want me to value your love. I do. A thousand times over, it is stronger and deeper and more perfect than anything I ever dreamed of being offered, my Koateleu, my other self, my Obi-Wan.// Qui-Gon's mind was not just receiving now, but opening and sharing as well, all the things he had thought denied to him forever. He offered all these things to Obi-Wan. The embrace of an equal, understanding in the eyes of a lover. A beating heart with purpose, a mind whose first thought would be of Jedi, second that of a Master but all others dedicated to the happiness, safety, joy and peace of his Koateleu.

More, so much more, passed between them in the space of a few heartbeats. Promises made and wishes fulfilled, heady and bright, feeding the slender strands of hope and faith until they flourished, making strong threads of love and sweet desire hum between them. All poetry, all music and beauty bloomed inside them, was recognized and understood, accepted as part of them. Obi-Wan reached out, put his hand upon Qui-Gon's and whispered "I swear."

Qui-Gon folded his other hand over Obi-Wan's. "I swear."

The moment could not last. It did not shatter or break, but simply faded, becoming a part of them both on a basic level. **//I am living and I love you. I am hungry and I love you. I see you and I love you. I am with you and I love you. I will part from you I love you. I will find you and find myself in you and I love you have loved you will love you I love you.//**

After a time, the intensity of their connection began to recede, become simply another thread in the flux of the Force that filled and surrounded them. Qui-Gon passed his hand over his eyes, then looked up, smiling. "I think we should celebrate. Do you think you can keep up with me?"

"Any day, any way, Pantreti," Obi-Wan grinned.

"You know, I like that more every time you say it," Qui-Gon laughed and signaled for the wine list once more.

"Okay, what's next?" Obi-Wan asked, pushing his now-empty soup bowl aside.

"Well, I thought you might like to try some fougani," Qui-Gon replied.

Obi-Wan goggled.

"What?" Qui-Gon asked, signaling to the waitperson.

"Fougani? For me?" Obi-Wan squeaked.

Qui-Gon frowned, but refrained from replying as the waiter placed the dishes and poured the new wine pairing. When the staff had withdrawn again, Qui-Gon spoke. "You are in the finest fougani restaurant in the galaxy and you're surprised that's what we're having?"

"This is a fougani restaurant?" Obi-Wan's voice was weak with shock.

Qui-Gon sighed and folded his hands. "Just because I can't cook worth mentioning doesn't mean I have no refinement in the appreciation of culinary arts."

"Yes, Master. I'm sorry, Master," Obi-Wan instinctively replied.

"Now then. Fougani-sanu," Qui-Gon nodded to the waiter again and picked up his chopsticks.

Obi-Wan watched the careful deployment of their first course with reverence. The thin wooden trays were delicately painted to complement the six fougani-sanu upon them. He breathed deeply, memorizing the aroma for future reference. Then with careful deliberation he selected one and ate.

The texture and flavor were at once delicate and sensual. He sighed, carefully chewing the grain and fish with all the attention they deserved. He swallowed, a little surprised when his lips began to tingle, but all the more honored that Qui-Gon had chosen to gift him with the rare and prized sanu-fugu. He sipped his wine, then drank deeply from his water glass to prepare his palate for the next bite.

When his plate was cleared, he looked at Qui-Gon and offered his brightest smile. "Thank you, Pantreti. That was marvelous."

"You're not done yet, Koateleu," Qui-Gon replied, indicating the tiny bowl of sesu-sandi next to his plate. "This will be quite... stunning, as I recall."

Obi-Wan obediently ate the ribbonlike sesu-sandi, swallowing without chewing as Qui-Gon demonstrated. When the sandi hit his stomach he closed his eyes and bit down on his lip to keep himself from moaning. A warm burn began in his middle and radiated outwards, filling him with a peaceful contentment while simultaneously awakening every nerve ending. After a long moment, the sensual input settled into his groin, a low counterpoint not unlike a sexual afterglow.

Obi-Wan opened his eyes, wanting to thank Qui-Gon once more, but found words to be wholly inadequate.

Qui-Gon smiled. "Ready for the next course?"

Obi-Wan nodded eagerly, ready to thoroughly enjoy whatever Qui-Gon had in store for him this evening.

It would seem, in Qui-Gon's expert opinion, that Padawan Kenobi could not hold his liquor. Of course, he shouldn't be able to, at this point. Far too young, much too focused on his training to have put in any serious time at the bottle. Despite the vast amount of food Obi-Wan had put away, the alcohol had won out.

Qui-Gon couldn't have cared less. He simply hooked his arm more firmly around Obi-Wan's waist and guided him carefully along the skywalk, headed in the basic direction of the Temple. When Obi-Wan was a little less ... enthusiastic, Qui-Gon would call a cab and get them home. Until then...

"Okay, let's take it from the top," the Master encouraged.

Obi-Wan snorfled into Qui-Gon's sleeve. "No. I absolutely can NOT sing this song with you."

"Okay, then you'll have to listen to it again," Qui-Gon agreed, and launched into the raunchiest drinking song he knew. "Verse One.

'Twas on the Good Ship Venus,
Me skies, you should have seen us!
The figurehead was a whore in bed
And the mast an upright penis!

Singing o-de-o-de-annna!"

Obi-Wan howled with laughter, as he had done on the three previous tries. He waved his hand helplessly, indicating that Qui-Gon should continue, despite the disruption. The master gamely complied.

The first mate's name was Topper
And Topper had a whopper
Once around his neck and twice around the deck
Then up his ass for a stopper!

Obi-Wan sat down on the walkway, leaning heavily against the glass enclosure. "Stop!" he gasped. "Please, skies above, stop!"

Qui-Gon sat down next to him. "As you will, Koatel."

"You know," Obi-Wan began, once he had his chuckles under control. "I'm not as drunk as you think I am."

"Really? Then what's your excuse for such an unseemly display, my prim and proper Padawan?" Qui-Gon inquired.

"You're being so nice to me," Obi-Wan lamely admitted. "I don't want you to stop yet."

Qui-Gon pulled Obi-Wan in for a hug. "I'm not going to stop yet. Not tonight, anyway. Maybe not until as far as lunch, tomorrow. Isn't that something to look forward to?"

That cracked Obi-Wan up again and Qui-Gon contented himself with holding his lover while the mirth took its course. "Master, sorry, Qui-Gon... listen, did I ever tell you what a Pantreti was?"

Qui-Gon smiled. "No need. I found out for myself."

"Did you? Good. Because I'm feeling a little Ulanta-ish right now."

And with that, Obi-Wan stood and bolted for the next walkway-exchange. Qui-Gon was up and after him in a flash, laughing merrily as he pursued.

They had no problem finding a taxi back to the Temple, but the closer they got to their rooms, the more withdrawn Obi-Wan became. Qui-Gon firmly kept his disappointment to himself. *He's not ready. He's much better, nearly so, but he still doesn't have a grasp on what is happening between us,* Qui-Gon soothed himself. It seemed that even more 'patient pursuit' was needed. "Koateleu, is there something on your mind?"

Obi-Wan looked up, surprised. "Oh ... yes. I suppose so," the younger man replied. He thumbed the lock on their door and shrugged. "I shall love you forever."

"And what do you think loving me would mean, Koateleu?" Qui-Gon's brow furrowed. He couldn't help but see the drag of his lover's step in the hall, the faint sighs and hunch of shoulder that had marked his posture as they came through the Temple. And now this.


"You say 'I will love you forever' as if you were pronouncing your own death sentence," Qui-Gon clarified.

Obi-Wan shrugged. "I won't be my own person anymore. I'll belong to you, and ... nothing I do will be mine any more, because I'll always have to share with you."

"And you don't want to," Qui-Gon surmised.

Obi-Wan drew a deep breath and let it out very slowly. "Nooo," he finally pronounced. "I want to. I think that makes it worse."

"Ah," Qui-Gon said, finally understanding. "You've worked so hard and so long to be self-reliant and now all that work has been for nothing."

Obi-Wan nodded miserably.


The younger man lifted his eyes to meet Qui-Gon's.

"Am I now your prisoner?"


"Do you intend to invade every part of my life, dictate my every move, demand that I bow and scrape to your every whim? Will you insist that I be unshielded to your thoughts and mind-touches at all times? Must I give up all things that you have no joy in?" Qui-Gon cocked his head to one side.

Obi-Wan frowned, considering that. After a moment, his eyes cleared and he smiled. "Oh."

"I love you, my Koateleu, but I don't intend to take over your life. I'm not going to spend the rest of my days glued to your back, peering over your shoulder or weaseling in when you'd rather be alone. I'm not going to give you my every thought or gain your approval for my every action. I want to be with you, but I don't want to JUST be your partner. I'm sorry, love. You're just not that interesting." One of Qui-Gon's rare, bright smiles punctuated this statement. "I don't think you'd find me that interesting, either."

Obi-Wan laughed outright and closed the distance between them. His arms wound around Qui-Gon's torso in a hug full of light and acceptance and freedom and want. "I am such a fool."

"Now, there you'd be wrong again. Qui-Gon Jinn don't raise no fools."

"'Doesn't raise any,' Master. I will insist that you mind your grammar in my presence," Obi-Wan snickered.

Qui-Gon let his head fall back as his laughter bubbled up and out of him. "We're going to be fine, Obi-Wan," he chuckled, and kissed the tip of his Padawan's nose.

"Oh yes. We most definitely are," Obi-Wan heartily agreed, lifting up on his toes to claim Qui-Gon's mouth.

Qui-Gon wanted, more than anything, to follow that kiss to its natural conclusion. However, he had promised himself a certain amount of disclosure before that would again happen, and he just didn't feel up to that kind of soul-baring tonight. He broke the kiss and took a step back. "Where were you planning on sleeping tonight, Koateleu?"

Obi-Wan blinked, then frowned. "I forgot..." he began. "Well, considering that we won't, that you apparently don't wish to... my room, I suppose."

"If you wish to bed with me, you are welcome..." Qui-Gon began.

"No, I... no. It's not something I am comfortable with doing, Pantreti," Obi-Wan explained.

"Then with your permission... that is... do you mind if I sleep unshielded tonight?" Qui-Gon asked.

"What? No, of course not," Obi-Wan replied, surprised.

"Would you do me the honor of remaining... receptive this evening?" Qui-Gon further requested.

"Well, yes, of course. I'm afraid I don't understand," Obi-Wan replied, confused.

"You will, my Koatel. You can always block me out if it makes you unhappy," Qui-Gon reminded him. "I will do nothing unwanted or intrusive."

"Yes, Master. Thank you, Master." Obi-Wan leaned up for another kiss. "Tonight was so wonderful. I thank you for it."

"You are more than welcome, Padawan. I hope it is the first of many such nights with you," Qui-Gon replied. "Sleep well, my love."

They turned away from one another, each towards his own, solitary bed.

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 Water

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

52 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: Trainees are spoiled. Qui-Gon Takes Action. The Date.

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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