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

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

Obi-Wan sat bolt upright in bed and pulled the blankets over his head. Something was IN here... something was AFTER him...

The flicker of traffic outside his window brought him back to place. *My bed. My room...*

He lay back down and tried to analyze what it was that woke him. It was still here, still surrounding him like a warm and silken river. Oh yes. Qui-Gon's love. His *mind* knew it was safe, knew it was just the emotional output of a man who would do anything, everything to protect the life of his Koateleu. His *heart* wanted to treat it like an invasion army. His soul was holding its vote in reserve, apparently settling on an eleventh hour rescue of Obi-Wan's sanity, if such a thing were necessary.

He closed his eyes again and steadied his breathing, alerting his body to the fact that it could stop dumping adrenaline into his bloodstream now, please. He was sweating and trembling, more tired than he could ever remember being while not on a mission. He started to raise mental shields, but stopped himself for what seemed like the hundredth time that night. *You want it? You need to know what it is before you really decide. If you can't live with it, you need to know now.*

And that was the thought that kept him from hiding, from closing off and protecting him from the feelings Qui-Gon was gently but persistently radiating. He could get up and leave their quarters. He knew Qui-Gon would never project further than his intended target. He could wake Qui-Gon and ask him to stop. He did none of those things. Instead, he curled up around his pillow and let the love flow through him, bringing every Jedi art he knew into play. He would find a way to accept this, to embrace and cherish these feelings. He would not let his own insecurities deprive him of the person he was meant to spend his life beside.

The question remained: how?

He was peripherally aware that Qui-Gon was awake now and checking on his student. Obi-Wan wordlessly projected his continued acceptance. He could sense the strain Qui-Gon was under, the nagging doubts that were beginning to surface in his master's mind. He couldn't let that win. With a minuscule Force-touch he opened his own door, then Qui-Gon's. "Pantreti?" he called.

"Yes, Koatel?" Qui-Gon replied.

"I love you. Really. This is what I want. It's just taking some time to get used to it," Obi-Wan explained.

"I know. Same here," Qui-Gon replied, a little chuckle in his tone.

"YOU are what I want, Qui-Gon," Obi-Wan reiterated. "You are where I belong."

Qui-Gon was silent for a long time. Finally he answered, "I'm very glad to know that."

"Can I get you to promise me something?" Obi-Wan asked.

"Of course," Qui-Gon said.

"Will you protect the hope I have, even without knowing what I'm hoping for?"

Again the silence stretched out between them. "Yes," Qui-Gon finally replied.

Obi-Wan closed their doors again and turned over. Nowhere was it written that good things came easily. Obi-Wan was willing to do what must be done to make this work. And should he falter, Qui-Gon would be there to help him.

Neither Padawan nor Master wanted to cook the next day. In truth, they would have remained abed to a scandalous hour had either one of them voiced their desire to do so. But training is training, habit is habit, and breakfast is needed to do things properly, so they walked together to the dining hall. Obi-Wan was withdrawn, huddling mentally and physically behind shields, under his uniform, into himself. The night had brought him little rest and less acceptance. The day looked to be something of a challenge, to say the least.

Obi-Wan focused on his step, the rhythm of his boots meeting the ground, centering himself on that constant. The shape of his weight and the touch of gravity that bound him to the planet. Unbidden, a thought surfaced in his mind:

See, hidden upon the soil, wishes of the Future.

He shuddered, thinking of all that had been spoken of the evening before. Before he could check that line of thought he recalled the matching keto.

*O wish not for another day nor another thing
Beyond the very thing within your hand
Beyond the land upon which you stand
Within these and these alone are matters enough
To content thee all your days.
Those gifts within the Future are secured
Only through acceptance of the Now*


**I'm sorry, Master. I'm so sorry.** His head came up, spine stiff and straight as a man facing his executioner. **I thought to love you, I thought to have you, to keep you like a beast, like a possession. That is so very wrong of me... so very unworthy of you...**

Qui-Gon stopped and spun on his heel, putting a hand on Obi-Wan's chest. His eyes glittered with equal parts impatience and disappointment. //I thought you said you knew what you wanted, PADAWAN. I thought you were so sure.//

**I am sure what I want. And in the glamorous recesses of a fine restaurant, there is nothing to stop me. But here, in our LIFE, everything we are stops me. You, Pantreti ... you must have an equal to partner you, and I am none.** Obi-Wan's eyes wandered over Qui-Gon, taking in his fine form. They were stopped in a hub where several corridors met under a shining, angular sunroof. The light sparkled, backlighting Qui-Gon's hair. Obi-Wan looked up at him, their height difference impressing itself upon his perceptions. Qui-Gon looked a strong and calculating god, his shining hair a halo of pure power.

And then his hand flashed towards Obi-Wan's face.

Obi-Wan blocked it easily, reflexes and training coming into play as Obi-Wan's hand swept up and out, moving the strength of the strike away from its target. "I don't deserve that," he pointed out.

//If you are not my equal, you deserve whatever I put on you to accept. If I choose to beat you black and blue right here beneath the skies and before everyone, I'll do it.// Qui-Gon's voice took on a stubborn tone.

**Oh, no, my Master. You taught me better than that. If you really want to beat me, you're going to have to prove to me that I deserve to be punished. I don't. I'll apologize for this, but I won't be abused.** Obi-Wan fell back into a defensive posture, presenting his left shoulder, head back, knees bent and ready to spring. He hung loose and ready, prepared to match his strength and speed to Qui-Gon's reach and experience.

He didn't have long to wait.

Their first pass was in high quarter, neither scoring a hit, just a series of blows and blocks as each took measure of how serious his opponent was. Qui-Gon was both strong and skilled, with the advantage that he had taught Obi-Wan everything he knew about combat. Obi-Wan was fast, well-taught, and possessed of a flair for improvisation that stood unmatched throughout the Order. The foot traffic parted for them, where it did not stop outright to watch the singularly unusual exchange.

Qui-Gon trapped Obi-Wan's arm, tried to force him to the ground. Obi-Wan raised his Force-control to the conscious level and broke the hold, tumbling back and past his master. Their movements became almost too fast to see, each one diving deeper and deeper into the Moment, seeing every strike and tactic just microseconds before it was used. Qui-Gon's head snapped back as a roundhouse kick caught him in the jaw.

Qui-Gon stepped in and replied with a low sweep that took Obi-Wan off his feet. Forward he advanced, trying to land a boot to keep his student down, but Obi-Wan caught his calf, jerked hard, pulling him off balance, then rained a quick set of blows on his pressure points to immobilize his left leg. Qui-Gon Force-shoved Obi-Wan away, then drew up onto his right knee, left leg angled out beside him. He could only correct two of the six affected points before he needed to defend himself again. Another Force-shove and Obi-Wan was on his knees. Qui-Gon controlled his right arm, jerking up and back, feeling the pop as shoulder dislocated. Obi-Wan cried out, then curled himself around to palm-strike Qui-Gon's chest. The fell away from each other, both injured but neither prepared to concede victory.


Master and Apprentice turned towards the new threat as one, Qui-Gon preparing himself to defend his wounded charge, Obi-Wan ready to sacrifice himself in protection of his weakened master. Their opponent was a formidable one, not to be taken lightly.

"Explain yourself you will, Qui-Gon." Master Yoda's ears were laid back against his head in exasperation. The better part of the Jedi Council was ranged in a semicircle behind him.

//I am teaching my Padawan his place, Master Yoda.// His mental 'voice' was steady, prepared to face down Yoda, the Council and any deities that might happen along to oppose him.

"And that place is?" the ancient Jedi demanded.

//By my side, in battle, on life,// Qui-Gon's eyes glinted ready defiance. //He has invested that hope in me, in good faith. I sought only to protect that faith.//

"Dislocated his shoulder while protecting him, you have," Yoda pointed out.

//And I think he broke my jaw trying to prove he's not my equal.//

"Strange it is, both ways. Seriously hurt he could have been," Yoda persisted.

//Better his body be broken than his heart, his mind, his will...his self-confidence and belief in his choices.//

"What say you, Padawan?" Yoda made his slow way towards the fallen student.

Obi-Wan was gasping for breath as he spoke. "I am not his equal. It was not my place to exact such a promise. It was my words, my will that made this so, not his." He firmly pushed the blinding agony in his shoulder away, focusing instead on the argument, the new battle before him.

"Judge yourself by your rank, do you? Gained over time, rank is. A function of experience, only. Proper place decided by the Force is. Change that you can NOT." Yoda poked him in the chest for good measure. He closed his eyes, sighing. "I sense no fear in you. Misconception, though, there is much."

The diminutive master made his way back to Qui-Gon. "Agree with YOU the Council does. By your side, Kenobi belongs. Kiss him more often you should. To the infirmary you both must go."

And the Council swept past them, continuing on whatever errand the fight had interrupted.

Qui-Gon made the repairs to himself sufficient that he could tend to his Padawan. He would leave the setting of the shoulder to more skilled hands than his own. Obi-Wan was near to tears as the endorphins began to burn off. //Congratulations, Koateleu.//

"What have I done, Pantreti?" Obi-Wan clung to the words, needing anything to focus on outside of his own pain.

//Overcome every argument and misgiving you could possibly have about me and our relationship together. You've caused yourself a problem, though. They'll be expecting us to bond as a working pair when you gain your knighthood.// Qui-Gon scooped his partner up in his arms, knowing he could make better time if he just carried the weakened man.

"I'm not sure we should fight them on that."

//Of course we shouldn't. But watch what you say and do in the future. Master Yoda does so love a big wedding.//

J'kata met them at the door of the infirmary. "First door on your left. Should I just reserve that room for you two?"

It was a slow walk back to their quarters. Qui-Gon had decided to forgo breakfast, what with his jaw feeling the strain of healing. It hadn't quite been broken, but had sustained a bruise bad enough so as to not make much difference. Obi-Wan had sat stoically through the re-setting of his shoulder and had even agreed to use the painkillers J'kata gave him.

Once they were out from under the eye of the medical team, the absurdity of the situation had hit them full force. Obi-Wan had pitched his voice in imitation of a certain council member and said "Wear pink in the wedding you should."

That had seriously cracked them up, to the point that they were leaning against one another, tears streaming down their face when they reached their door. They laughed so hard the lock would not respond to either voice signature, which set them laughing again. Qui-Gon had finally thumbed the print-identifier, dumped his humor-incapacitated student onto the sofa and collapsed into the desk chair. There were messages for them both on the dataset, notifying them that he and his Padawan were put on reserve for the time being.

That sobered him rather quickly. Reserve meant working here in the Temple until that status was repealed. It was rare for them to be in official residence at the Temple, on-call to the work at hand. Obi-Wan would probably be overjoyed, but Qui-Gon was not at all happy about it. His presence had a tendency to spark wild rumor if not outright panic in the less-reputable sort on-planet. Obi-Wan levitated the lightslate from his master and read the mail for himself.

"Great," the Padawan groaned. "Stuck here for skies only know how long."

Qui-Gon narrowed his eyes at his student. "I thought you liked working in the Temple."

"Yeah," Obi-Wan shrugged. "But I'll give you very good odds that they won't let me go teach. They'll put us to work in the Financial office or something."

"You're probably right, but that's the way it is for a resident. When I was still doing all my research work it was a constant battle to prove I was working. For some reason, the scheduling department doesn't think pure research is essential to the Order. They'd usually try to put me in the crèche or something. Arjet eventually started getting us missions so we could have a little peace and quiet to think." Qui-Gon chuckled ruefully. "Guess I just never got out of that habit."

"What habit?" Obi-Wan turned over onto his stomach, intensely focused on his master's revelations.

"Getting off world as much as possible, to avoid scut work. To hide from the Order. Like that." Qui-Gon stood to fetch some juice. "Do you have your painkillers on?"

"Yes, Master," Obi-Wan singsonged playfully. "Do you?"

Qui-Gon lifted his hair to display the patch on his neck. "Hungry?"

"I guess so. Maybe some fruit or something."

"You'd better eat now. We'll be shuffled into the rotation within a couple of hours." Qui-Gon dialed up some grapes and berries from the caterer and made his deliveries to the coffee table. Obi-Wan sat up to make room on the sofa.

"Guess you're not gonna be allowed to run around in jeans and tee shirts today, huh?" Obi-Wan picked up a cluster of grapes and began popping them into his mouth with rapid-fire precision.

"Nope. Back into uniform with my old bones," Qui-Gon watched his student eat while slowly sipping his juice.

"Want some?" Obi-Wan offered.

"No, thank you. You did a pretty good job on my jaw, here," Qui-Gon rubbed his beard gently.

Obi-Wan frowned in thought, then picked up the bowl of sweet berries. "Well, we'll just have to make it worth the effort," he purred.

Obi-Wan sighed and tugged his uniform straight, pasted a serene smile on his face and chimed for the lift. Next to him, Qui-Gon was similarly preparing himself.

"Fidgeting won't make it any easier, Padawan," Qui-Gon gently chided him. "Time to get your game face on."

Obi-Wan sighed again and smoothed his expression to one as inscrutable and serene as his Master's. The lift opened up to one of the back hallways of the Temple's ground level. A wash of need and greed hit Obi-Wan like a stench. He strengthened his shields and bravely followed Qui-Gon to the assignment board. Another sigh escaped his lips when he saw the sigil for "Petitioners' Hall."

Qui-Gon said nothing but proceeded to the office he would occupy for the morning. Obi-Wan went with him to make sure all was well before a warning glance from his master told him to stop dawdling and get on with it.

The Petitioners' Hall was a long corridor on the ground level of the Temple. The floor and pillars were of matching green marble, the walls of wooden paneling with filigree cutwork. Into it any being might enter and ask for help of the Jedi. To Obi-Wan it was riot of uncontrolled emotions emanating from persons of diverse backgrounds. Their clothes told stories of extreme wealth, abject poverty and everything in between. Obi-Wan entered from the Temple side-walk, a narrow passage that ran between the panel walls and the stone wall that formed the back of the offices nearby. He could stand here in the shadows and observe the petitioners through the wooden screening. More likely than not they would never even know he was there.

//I would know, Padawan. Get out there.//

Obi-Wan sighed. He felt slightly ashamed at his reluctance to help these people, but their pleas were often some issue that should be handled by a civil court or some other institution. Most he would hear and turn away. Some he would bring to Qui-Gon for further examination. A bare handful of the crowd now milling just feet away from him would be granted whatever it was they requested. *Pathetic, the lot of them.*

//I've been more than reasonable, Obi-Wan. You'll do Hemesha Kerat at this afternoon's workout. Perhaps tomorrow morning you'll see to your duty with a more willing heart.//

Obi-Wan's spine stiffened at the rebuke. "Sure," he muttered. "And maybe tomorrow the Hutten will all sprout wings and perform an air-ballet for the Council."

//I heard that.//


He pulled his hood up and triggered the lock-release on the panel before him. By stepping quickly, he seemed to appear out of nowhere. For a brief moment his presence went unnoticed by the crowd, then whispers of "Jedi" filled the air. He folded his hands into his sleeves and did his best imitation of Qui-Gon for them all. A quick glance around told him he wasn't the only Jedi standing about the hall, just the newest addition to the ranks. The rules were very clear about how the process must run, though most petitioners didn't bother to familiarize themselves with the protocol. Apparently many believed they simply had to show up and a silken carpet would lead them to all they ever hoped for.

A slight touch on his shields caught Obi-Wan's attention. **Hmm?**

^^Hey, Obi! It's Swed. They've got me and Jayden cooling our heels, waiting for something from the Senate. So of course, it's the Hall for me until then, bastards. I heard you might be down here today.^^

**At least we don't have to suffer alone. What's the score?**

^^The usual, though there's one down your way that looks like she knows what she's about. Might be something to that. ^^

Obi-Wan glanced around. A woman in battered leather pants, dark blue shirt and leather jacket was making her way around the room, peering under the hoods of the Jedi. Her heavy boots made a loud click on each step, but she was otherwise silent. Obi-Wan focused on her carefully, trying to pick out her goal. Her thoughts were calm, controlled, her emotions in as much check as one could expect. A short litany ran through her mind, one that Obi-Wan couldn't help but be surprised at. *Ginger hair, greygreen eyes, short, mouth to die for.* Eventually she ducked down to look up Obi-Wan's cowl. He kept still, never letting on that he'd been peeking.

^^Is she going to petition you or bid on you?^^ Swed inquired with a mental snerk.

**Maybe she thinks the Order's selling me by the pound.** Obi-Wan returned. **Skies. She's coming back. Don't make me laugh, okay? I don't want to have to block you out.**

^^Sure thing, boss man.^^

"Are you the Judicial Darkwing? Are you the man who sold the world?" she asked him.

Obi-Wan controlled his surprise. "Indeed, I am not."

"Is there such a man at this Temple?" she persisted.

"Yes, Lady." Obi-Wan kept to form, answering truthfully any question asked, but volunteering no information.

The woman sighed with frustration and tried again. "Can you find out where the Judicial Darkwing of the Jedi Order is?"

Obi-Wan gritted his teeth briefly and supplied the prescribed answer. "I can."

"Will you get that information and give it to me?" the Lady persisted.

"I will," Obi-Wan bowed once and disappeared behind his panel once again.


**She knows how to play the game, anyway. She just asked for Arjet, but I don't think she knows that. At least, she thinks she's looking for me, but she asked for Arjet.**

^^Why do you have all the fun?^^ Swed groused.

Obi-Wan picked up a lightslate from a nearby table and leaned against the cool stone wall. Judicial Darkwing was one of the registered aliases of Arjet Paje, though Obi-Wan hadn't known it until Arjet had pressed him into service while on an unrelated mission to San Saloor. It took Obi-Wan a long moment to bring up the required file. Duty assignment, inactive. Location, unknown. Cross-reference, Master Arjet Paje. He put his requisition sigil on the file and followed the cross-reference. *So much bloody paperwork.*

At some point in time it had become necessary for the Temple to start keeping track of aliases, to a certain degree. For example, if one were to look up 'Faydrus Deek' in the Order listings, it would tell you he was not on active duty, his location was unknown and it would refer you to Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi.



**I have a lady in the hall asking after one of Arjet Paje's aliases.**

//You're kidding.//

**I swear. Asked for the Judicial Darkwing or the man who sold the world. Then again, she seems to be thinking he looks like me so...**

//The man who sold the world... that could be any of us, really. I suppose you'd better tell her the official word while I get hold of Arjet. No one would come here looking for us unless the situation was dire.//

**Yes, Master.** Obi-Wan set the lightslate down and squared his shoulders to face his petitioner. Why me?

//Do you want another bit of discipline training, Padawan?//

**Do you want to come take these petitions yourself, Master?**

//You're on thin ice, here, Obi-Wan.//

Obi-Wan replied by coolly raising more mental shields and strengthening the ones he already had. And stay out, you nosy old fart, he thought smugly. There were times when one must take drastic measures.

When he entered the Hall again, the woman had wandered off. Swed touched his shields again and Obi-Wan sought him out though the crowd. When they made eye contact Obi-Wan shook his head 'no' and then waved him over.

Swed crossed the Hall and stood next to him. After a moment he shook his sleeves back and dropped his hands to waist level. His fingers flicked in handsign. 'What happened?'

Obi-Wan brought his hands down and answered in kind. 'Qui-Gon was eavesdropping.'

Swed wrinkled his nose at the news. 'What's up with that?'

Obi-Wan shrugged. 'He's just annoyed at having to play arbiter for all these petitioners.'

'No reason to be rude,' Swed opined.

'Which is why I shielded up,' Obi-Wan explained.

"Where is The Darkwing?"

Obi-Wan looked up to find his petitioner standing before him once more. "His location is unknown."

"Is it a common thing for the Jedi to misplace one of their members?" she inquired hotly.

"No," Obi-Wan replied.

"Are you looking into the matter?" she sighed.

"The matter is being looked into, Lady," Obi-Wan assured her.

"How long will it take to find him, do you think?" she persisted.

"I do not know, Lady."

She turned away, looked for someone among the crowd and left Obi-Wan to his post. Obi-Wan narrowed his eyes in concentration, maintaining his shields when Qui-Gon attempted to contact him mentally. A short pulse on the Bond, a more insistent tug than the mere thought sharing was also ignored. After a pause, Obi-Wan's commlink chirped.


"Point made, Padawan. I apologize. You may bring the petitioner here."

"Yes, Master," Obi-Wan replied, ending the transmission. Heh. Point to Kenobi.* He put his comm link away and began a slow tour of the hall. To the right and left of him, petitioners made way for the Jedi. Obi-Wan did his best not to sneer at such a pathetic display. The quality of that thought brought him pause. *I'll tell Qui-Gon. I'm sure he knows what exercises will help me with this.*

He found his quarry speaking with a very young man who looked quite like her, in a corner of the hall. Obi-Wan stood waiting, displaying all the patience of a mountain for their outsiders' eyes to see. Eventually the young man noticed him and indicated Obi-Wan's presence to the petitioner. She turned. "Yes?"

*Thank the skies above. An open-ended question.* "If you will come with me..." Obi-Wan offered his arm and led her away, noting that her companion hesitated only a moment before stepping in stride on her other side.

Obi-Wan led them through the arched egress and down the elegantly decorated corridors. These were for public consumption and Obi-Wan wasn't altogether comfortable in them. The displayed silkscreen murals, potted plants, lush waiting areas and soothing tones of fountains here and there did everything to perpetuate the Jedi mystique but nothing to set the tone for what actually happened in the Temple. Obi-Wan suppressed a grimace and thumbed the lock on Qui-Gon's office. "Your petitioner, Master."

"Thank you, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon replied. Obi-Wan moved to stand behind and to the right of Qui-Gon's chair.

"YOU'RE Obi-Wan Jedi?" the young man demanded.

Obi-Wan bowed. "At your service. Would you care for any refreshment?"

The woman fixed him with a steady look, then turned back to Qui-Gon, easily reading the power dynamic. "Master Jinn, I come to you with the most dire of news and a need for immediate assistance. I was contracted to pull a pair of Jedi out of Ero Phelian last week, but not given any directive whatsoever as to their disposal. I suppose if either of them could speak, they might be able to tell me. As things stand, I could only think to bring them here, where they probably belong anyway."

"And you are?" Qui-Gon inquired.

"Merane Solo. This is my son, Han," she indicated her companion. "You don't seem to understand... one of your Jedi is dead, the other might be dying and they're on my ship! I want them off of it NOW. And I want the rest of my pay."

"Where is your ship?" Qui-Gon demanded.

"Hangar three. No one could tell me what to do with them, so they sent me to ask here."

Qui-Gon stood quickly and turned to Obi-Wan. "Contact Arjet. Tell him Master Giavanni and Knight Zareen are here and there's been a casualty, ID unknown. Bring him to the... what ship?" he turned back to the strangers.

"Millenium Falcon."

Obi-Wan nodded and closed his eyes, not needing further instructions. He sent his thoughts out into the Force, picking up on Corubia and springboarding from her connection to her master. Arjet was nearby, close enough for Obi-Wan to reach. Peripherally, he was aware of Qui-Gon calling for a medical team to the hangar, and a tug on his sleeve set him moving in his Master's wake. **Master Paje?**


**Yes, sir. Master Giavanni and Knight Zareen are in hangar three. Master Jinn says you should meet us there... one of them didn't make it.**

A tumult of emotion chased Obi-Wan out of contact with Arjet and he glanced around himself to discover he had followed Qui-Gon into a lift. His master looked back, quirking a smile for his student. Obi-Wan looked down to hide his blush. The lift opened onto the chaotic scene of the industrial shipper's hangar. The Jedi followed their visitors to a disreputable looking freighter and boarded. Qui-Gon paused at the head of the ramp, as if scenting the air for something. After a moment he strode down the hall, knelt on the floor and pried a crawlspace covering up. Obi-Wan took it and set it aside. Within the crawlspace were hidden the badly injured field operatives.

Obi-Wan reached in and seized the nearest limb. With Qui-Gon's help he maneuvered a slender female form out of the space. It was clearly the Knight, and it appeared that her lesser experience had not served her well, wherever she had been. A moan drew Qui-Gon's attention back to the space, leaving Obi-Wan with yet another corpse on his hands. He moved her down to the entryway, made sure her eyes were closed and hands folded, but refused to further examine her condition. *Work to be done,* he reminded himself.

//Obi-Wan, I need your help.//

**I am here, Master.**

//Pressure, here, and... let's get this opened and... okay, good... vitals?//

**Strong and stable,** Obi-Wan assured him.

A louder moan led credence to Obi-Wan's assessment. "Master Giavanni, can you hear me?" Qui-Gon addressed their patient.

"Yeah, yeah. Skies afuckingbove, could you do something about my arm?" the wounded man coughed twice and returned to silence.

"How long was he in that hole?" Obi-Wan demanded.

"Since we came through Ero Phelian. We picked up a tail and had to hide them, even this close to the Central System. It's hot, whatever he was out there doing," Merane shook her head. "Well, get him off my damn ship!"

"Du Jedi ketun kep heroics, but you're just gonna have to wait until we're done with your ship to get it," Obi-Wan growled.

That shut the pilot up long enough for Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon to finish their assessment. //I've seen worse, but not often,// Qui-Gon observed. Couple of projectile shots, deep cuts to extremities, blaster-burns of some kind, though the patterns were ... odd. There also seemed to be cough, fever, chills, some blood loss, confusion edging over into shock, probably more. Footsteps on the gangplank drew Obi-Wan's attention.

Arjet and Corubia strode past Knight Zareen without a second glance. Arjet shoved Obi-Wan aside and knelt down beside Master Giavanni. "Vanni? Vanni... are you with us?"

"Right here, Arjet," the other master responded without opening his eyes.

"You okay?"

"Gonna live."

"Did you get it?"

"You're gonna hate it. But yeah."

"Okay, get some rest. Time for that later."

Another set of coughs took the wounded Jedi and Arjet was shoved aside by the arriving medical team. Arjet watched his transfer to the stretcher with haunted eyes, then turned on Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan.

"Why didn't you get here sooner?" he demanded.

Obi-Wan stepped forward, defending Qui-Gon from attack. "Our messengers did not tell us what they had," he explained. "The fault is mine, for not discovering it sooner."

Arjet looked down at Obi-Wan, meeting his hot gaze with steady a steady, cool one. "When you jump so quickly to take the blame, I begin to doubt that there is any to be had. Well then." Arjet turned to the pilot and her son. "The Solo family. At last we meet. I must admit, this isn't exactly what I expected out of such... respected shippers as yourselves. Only half the cargo viable, and that badly damaged. Would you care to explain what the hell happened?"

"Who are you?" Merane demanded.

"I believe you call me 'the man who sold the world'," Arjet smiled evilly.

"Well shit." Han punched the bulkhead. "Where were you?"

"What do you mean?" Arjet inquired.

"We got some message from out of San Saloor. We thought you were meeting us there. Luckily, the Nathaniel Bereak set us straight, coming through Eab Nanoorn, said there weren't any Jedi in Perrys still, and you had come back to Coruscant!" he explained.

Obi-Wan rubbed his brow. "Fucking Tene Tatu. I KNEW we were losing something in the translation," he muttered. "Didn't you get instructions with your credit?"

"Well, yeah... but that would have been suicide," Merane protested.

Obi-Wan tugged on Corubia's sleeve and she stepped aside. He pointed to Knight Zareen. "And this would be... what?"

Arjet held tight to Kato's hand as the healers transported him to the infirmary. *Padawan Kenobi is going to make one hell of a Shadow,* he thought. Cold comfort, but it would seem Qui-Gon's student was planning on holding the Solos very personally responsible for the outcome of this mission. He had been in the process of locking the Falcon down and making Merane and Han 'guests' of the Temple until Kato's condition was more certain. Qui-Gon had simply crossed his arms and provided clearance and pointers while his Padawan arranged for things.

All of which had left Arjet free to mind Kato. He helped the healers move Kato onto a bed and stood ready to assist in any way possible. After a time, one of them shook him by the arm. "Can you bring him around?" the pink and green healer inquired.

"I'll try," Arjet replied, then focused his thoughts on the unconscious man. <<Vanni ? Can you hear me?>>

==What do I have to do to get some peace around here?==

<<WAKE UP.>>

Master Giavanni's eyes fluttered open. "That bad, huh?"

"Afraid so, love. What do you... do you remember about Zareen?" Arjet murmured, leaning down to press his forehead against Kato's.

"Yes... yes, of course," was the haunted reply. "She was so brave, Arjet..."

"She... she didn't discorporate. Corubia's taking care of her," Arjet explained.


"Corubia Nall, my... I took a Padawan while you were gone."

"Oh," Kato sighed. "Oh. Did I see Qui-Gon Jinn earlier, or was I hallucinating?" Kato asked, changing the subject.

"Nope, that was him. In the flesh."

"He looked like shit," Kato smiled.

"Well, you try sleeping with your very much younger student some time and see how much rest you get," Arjet chuckled.

"Okay, we're ready to get started," the healer whispered to Arjet.

"You ready, Vanni?" Arjet asked.

"As ever. Let's just get this over with," the younger master replied.

"Okay, we're gonna start with the shrapnel. We've got locals, but you've got to stay awake. Shock and sleep just don't mix," the healer explained.

"I'll be sure to tell you if any feeling leaks through," Kato assured him.

"Okay, here we go. Projectile, left hip, and..."

Kato closed his eyes and hissed as the healers began their work. "Okay, I'm feeling that pretty clearly," he managed to whisper.

"We're done," the healer brusquely replied. "Projectile, right calf."

Arjet gently stroked his lover's face and hair, watching him work through this necessary step towards healing. <<Is there anything...>>

==Don't leave...==

<<Not even if you begged.>>

They were both bone-weary once the healers were done: Kato from staying awake, Arjet from holding him conscious. Once the medtechs were done with their follow-up procedures, they cleared Arjet to send Kato into a deep sleep. This he did with much relief. Now there would be nothing but the waiting while the healing settled in. He went with the techs while they relocated Kato to a recovery room and sat down by the bed to wait.

Some time later he started awake, surprised that he had dozed at all. Qui-Gon stared down at him, concerned. "What's up, Quigs?"

"Time to eat, Master Paje. Corubia's about to walk a hole in your carpet and my Obi's here to look after Master Giavanni. Food, rest and you'll be back here when he's ready to talk to you." Qui-Gon's tone brooked no argument.

Arjet got unsteadily to his feet and Qui-Gon slipped an arm around his shoulders. "What the hell happened to him, Quigs?"

"Obi-Wan is still sorting through their mission logs. Ero Phelian's... we're going to have to do something about it, with or without the Republic's backing. I'd be taking it to the Council right now, but clearly you've got your hand in it," Qui-Gon said. He leaned Arjet against the wall near the lifts and pressed the call-button. "I can't help but think this has something to do with Obi-Wan. Merane Solo mentioned San Saloor..."

Arjet rubbed his eyes. "Yeah. I had him send a message to arrange for their retrieval. He doesn't really know what he did."

Qui-Gon helped Arjet into the lift when it arrived. "I thought it might be something like that."

"He ... he was looking for someone," Arjet began.

"Not now, Master Paje. You eat and rest, then we'll all get together and plot," Qui-Gon assured him.

Corubia was waiting outside her apartment door when the two Masters arrived. She smiled wanly at Qui-Gon as she took Arjet from him. "I'll handle it from here," she said.

"Call on me if you need anything," Qui-Gon said.

"I don't think he's got much fight left in him," she replied before the door closed.

Qui-Gon stubbed his toe against the carpet before he turned his footsteps towards his own quarters. //Obi-Wan?//

**Yes, Master?**

//How is he?//

**Still sleeping, but the medics are behaving strangely.**

//Keep an eye on that.//

**Yes, Master.**

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 Soil

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

41 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: Actions bring consequences. The Council delivers a Decision. Smugglers bring news.

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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