Body Art 1

by Master Eliz-mar Von

CATEGORY: AU (No Naboo!), BDSM (actually, to be accurate, this features an "erotic power exchange", but BDSM as a category will do)


SPOILERS: For nothing, as the events in TPM never happened

TIME: Six months after TPM would have taken place. Obi-Wan is a Jedi Knight.

WARNING: Consensual bondage, m/m sex (Q/O)

DISCLAIMER: These beautiful, sweet men belong to George Lucas who obviously doesn't know what to do with them.

NOTE: My own "rope kit" consists of two 50' (5/16" diameter) ropes, one blue and one black, three 25' (1/4" diameter) ropes in red, dark green, and white, various smaller "anchoring" pieces in a wine color. All of the ropes are solid braided polyester, very satiny and comfortable for the wearer (purchased at Home Depot, dyed at home with Rit). I'm currently learning how to create what I'm told are called "Japanese rope harnesses" thanks to a lovely gentleman at the dungeon I belong to (Galleria Domain in Chicago, a place of elegance and wonderful, warm people). My domestic partner, Gary, has been my happy "model".

ARCHIVE: Yes, on M_A archive only, with my e-mail address,

FEEDBACK: Positive feedback welcomed and deeply appreciated - to

SUMMARY: What begins as an attractive use of ropes turns into an effective tool for two Jedi Knights just returned from a harrowing mission.

(Obi-Wan's POV...)

When I came into the room, I looked up to see my Master watching me intently. I love that look, and I shivered. It was Qui-Gon Jinn's predator look, which meant he had something new in mind for me. "Master," I breathed, greeting him as I sank to my knees before him. I put my crossed wrists to the small of my back as I'd been taught.

He loomed over me, hands on his hips. "We have a couple hours to ourselves, it looks like," Qui-Gon murmured. I didn't dare look up but I could feel his heated gaze on me anyway. "I believe the time will be well spent in an artistic endeavor." His hand came and sifted into my hair. "Stand."

As gracefully as I could manage with his grip on my hair, I rose to my feet, my eyes still downcast. "Yes, Master," I replied, hiding a smile. This would be what we called "body art", my Master using my body for his artistic expression. All Jedi were encouraged to have hobbies that allowed them to express their creative sides, a balance to the study, contemplation and the maintenance of our physical fitness when not actually involved in a mission. Since discovering the creative possibilities of erotic power exchanges (EPE) on our last vacation to the pleasure planet Domasub, Qui-Gon and I have continued to explore these "possibilities" when we've had time.

My own responses to the "use" of my body would be a part of that art form. I loved it for its sheer, lush sensuality. And it meant that my Master did not need a more strenuous activity this afternoon, for which I was relieved. Fortunately, our moods for that sort of thing usually coincided, as we were very close. Since my Knighting six months ago, we'd settled into our partnership - with the addition of this "kink" in our relationship - with ease and a great deal of satisfaction on both sides. EPE proved to be the very thing to center us in the Force more firmly after a particularly harrowing mission.

He released my hair, though his fingers lingered at the spot behind my ear where my padawan braid had grown. Qui-Gon stepped close to me and tipped my chin up. Since I did not have permission to meet his eyes, I closed mine, concentrating on our link and his closeness. I leaned into his touch a little, feeling my own power as a submissive, ready to yield it all to my dominant. I felt his breath against my cheek, then smiled when his lips grazed mine.

"You are so beautiful," Qui-Gon murmured, his eyes still smoky. "I shall make you more beautiful still. Strip for me, Obi-Wan." He stood back to watch, thumbs hooked in his belt.

I struck a pose first, leaning my weight back on my left foot, the other out in front a little, my wrists crossed at the back of my waist. I still kept my eyes lowered. "Master, if you please... quickly or slowly?" I asked quietly.

I felt his smile, then my pulse raced as he suddenly stepped close again and, his hand gripping my chin, he kissed me hard. Then he was backing away again, leaving me trembling. "Quickly, I think," Qui-Gon replied.

I stripped efficiently and quickly then so as not to make my master wait any longer. When I'd set my boots and clothes aside, I returned to strike the same pose, only this time I was naked and his heated gaze was roving over me.

"Prepare my equipment. I require your collar, my ropes, the cuffs, and one leather lace," Qui-Gon ordered me quietly.

The ropes! I let my delight bleed over into our link and felt his answering pleasure in my response as I hastily went about assembling what my master would need. First the lightweight transparisteel case which revealed its contents after I concentrated with the Force for a moment. I brought the flat case from under our bed to set it on the table for my master, Force-touching it open. I grinned at the colorful contents, then went to get the rest.

When I returned to position, Qui-Gon had already set up our portable suspension frame. When he straightened, I knelt, offering him my collar, my head bowed already for him. "Please, Master..." I murmured.

Master Qui-Gon touched my cheek, my shoulder, little claiming signals that I so loved. I inched forward more on my knees, needing that claiming. Then he was fitting my leather collar around my neck. As he brought it around to the back to fasten the buckle, he settled my head in against his groin. I whimpered, thrilling in his nearness, subtly daring to rub my cheek against his bulge. I heard his laugh above me, and I smiled, laying a kiss against him.

"Easy, my bright one, I'll let you pleasure me later," Qui-Gon chuckled, tugging gently on my collar to draw me away from him. "Stand."

Unfortunately, I knew that "later" would be quite a bit later. After our session this afternoon, we'd only have time for a short meal before the High Council required us to appear before them to give our mission report. But I knew that I'd have what I wanted tonight anyway.

I stood and when he gestured, I presented my wrists to him for the cuffs. Deftly Qui-Gon fastened the cuffs on me, then stood back, pausing. I did not look at his expression, of course, but I gathered from the little bobble in the Force that he was making a decision. To continue, I hoped, but to my surprise, he next removed the cuffs, tossing them aside. I realized with a rush that he had another plan.

I knew what this meant, and it gave me a shiver. He'd just decided on a course that would eliminate our time to eat together afterwards before the Council meeting. Which meant that I would not have much time to adjust before facing the twelve, keenly perceptive members of the Jedi High Council.

Of course I could do it. Qui-Gon Jinn knew my limits and my strengths better than I knew them myself. I trusted his perception completely, and loved doing so. It just added another little element of tension to my art form. Our art form...

He blindfolded me then. But through the Force and the humming in our link, I could still sense him, hear the swish of his robe and the click of his boots, and I felt when he neared to whisper in my ear. "Let your mind clear, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon guided me, taking my wrists and putting them to the back of my neck. I allowed him to arrange me, resting on the delicious little ripples in the Force and his gentle touch in my mind. "Together we will put the mission into its box..."

Occasionally a mission proved extremely unsettling. We'd seen atrocities aplenty. This last one was stressful in its own way, as we'd seen much to sicken us. But I would not dwell on that now, seeking to, as my master suggested, put it into its proper perspective in the grand scheme of the galaxy. We had to do this, for it is all too easy for a Jedi Knight to fall to depression because they cannot cure the ills of the Republic. Of which there are countless.

"Yes, Master," I breathed.

Qui-Gon's POV, continuing:

Since our original training bond had evolved properly into the close mental linkage of two intimates, Obi-Wan and myself were often touching one another's minds, tuning in to the emotions and general thoughts of the other. No words; often we just seemed to know what the other was thinking. Right now I could fairly well follow my Obi-Wan's trend of thought as he processed my decision. Yes, we needed to put this mission where it belonged. We would have to deal with it in great detail before the Council in a scant two hours. The burden of this adjustment would be on Obi-Wan, who expected to be rather transported by our sensual artistic endeavor.

Before I started with the ropes, however, I took up the long leather lace as I knelt before him. I nudged his stance apart; he shifted to give me access. I drew the middle of the lace up under his sac and the ends up around the top of his genitals, circling them. Crossing the ends, I ran them around the base of his penis where I crossed them again and began twisting them to form a sort of braid. After I had a length of about two inches, I brought my twisted piece down to separate his testicles, then underneath separated the ends to draw them back around to the top of his penis again where I tied them off neatly.

He stood quietly as I'd done this, but I could feel the slow simmering begin in his mind, and the focusing he'd need to process what I was doing. Taking away his vision, I'd left Obi-Wan with hearing and touch with which he would register my constant presence with him. It was one reason I remained fully clothed, the sound of my tunics, robe, and boots giving him something more to track.

Standing, I laid a hand on his shoulder, turning to take up the first rope. To begin, I selected a rope of a bright crimson, the color of aerated blood. Seeing that he was holding still for me, I continued the touch on a mental level, assuring him of my warmth and presence. When I saw him relax, I prepared the rope by putting the two ends together and running it through my hands until it was doubled. I tied a simple knot about three inches in from the end loop, then put the knot in Obi-Wan's hand. "Hold this, pretty Knight," I instructed him, smiling when he chuckled.

As Obi-Wan held onto the knot behind his neck, I separated the two rope pieces extending from the end loop, drew them over his head and tied them together in another knot just at the base of his throat. Then I made a second front knot just below his sternum, and a last one a few inches just above his groin. I checked to make sure he was keeping the back knot where I wanted it; he was, so I gave him a little kiss behind his ear. As I straightened, I caught his grin. "Thank you, Master," he murmured.

I could feel Obi-Wan relax even more. He loved the ropes, loved the feeling of containment I could give him within their bindings. These were no ordinary ropes, of course, made as they were from something silken and strong, solidly braided to make then strong and smooth. "Part your legs for me again, my Knight," I murmured, returning to his front. As he shifted, I separated the two parts of the rope, drawing each between his legs, one to either side of his groin. I went around to the back of him and tugged on the rope pieces.

Obi-Wan let loose a little gasp as I tightened the ropes against his front and drew them up through his crack at the back. Swiftly I brought them up and through the end loop which I took from him. "Wrists crossed on top of your head," I told him as I pulled the two long ends through the loop.

He was already practically purring as the silken ropes pulled against his skin as I worked. Checking our mental bond, I felt Obi-Wan's adjustment, for finally the ropes were around his torso - at least from neck to groin - to start to give him that sense of bondage he wanted. I felt his trust, and it soothed me, giving me what I craved, that taste of power over him.

"Mmmm, pretty Knight," I murmured, stepping close as I separated the two ends and ran each around to the front of him under his arms, tightening them as I did. Each end was then slipped through the rope on either side of his neck above the first knot, then brought back around to the back again. "What color, do you think, Knight Kenobi? Think of the mission..."

He still wasn't used to being called that, I saw with delight. But mingled with his enjoyment of the teasing was a sobering as I called his attention again to the mission just past. An unwelcome request, to be sure, but he needed to process during this. "Red, Master," Obi-Wan whispered. "Red for blood."

"Blood unshed as well," I whispered back, working the two ends below the back knot to form a diamond before bringing the ends back to the front again. "Blood saved and preserved. Yours, and if our efforts indeed bear fruit, the blood of many."

He tested the rudimentary rope harness, pulling against the ends in my hands as I finished creating the diamond shape in the front. Just once, one pull to center himself in the bondage I was applying so prettily to his body. "Yes, Master," he murmured, relaxing again. "Red for blood saved."

I continued to work, making more diamond shapes in the back and front, working with and around the knots down the front and down the back with the paired rope pieces as far down as the base of his spine. Periodically I went back up to tighten and adjust the ropes so they were symmetrical and firmly around him. When I was done, I made another pass back between his legs with the ends, then worked the ends back up through the existing pattern to finish.

Done, I inspected my handiwork with a pleased sigh, my hand gripping the center paired ropes in the small of his back, moving him back and forth to look at him rather than walk around him. Obi-Wan smiled, enjoying the handling as I knew he would. "Now, my beautiful Knight, what color next?"

He answered, to my wonder, without hesitation. "Dark brown, Master," Obi-Wan replied promptly. I shifted our connection from a physical one to a mental one again as I stepped back over to the case of ropes, selecting a shorter piece of dark brown, another solid braided rope but of a slightly smaller diameter than the long red one.

"Why dark brown, Obi-Wan?" I asked as I took one of his wrists from where it rested against his head.

"The color of your Jedi robe, Master," Obi-Wan replied immediately. He stood still as I drew the ends of the doubled rope around his wrist through the end loop and then wrapped them around his wrist again two more times.

"Explain, my Knight," I murmured, testing the wristlet of ropes to be sure they were secure but would not risk decreased circulation or numbness.

"When..." He licked his lips and started over. "When the Brunakji elders selected me for elimination, you chose my life over the mission."

I paused, nearing and bending down to whisper in his ear. "This is unusual?"

"No, Master," Obi-Wan breathed, leaning back into my nearness. "No Jedi would abandon another so. But it is something I should never take for granted, the value of my life. Plus it reminded me what my own life means to you."

"It means everything, Obi," I whispered, leaning against the back of his head for a moment. "The Brunakji do not place value on individual lives." I paused for a moment, then straightened. I began to work the dark brown ends of the rope around his wrists into the red ropes of his torso harness, effectively binding his arm against his side. "And when they persisted?"

Obi-Wan's life had been in danger the moment he stepped on the planet Brunak and the danger never let up, for the elders did not seem to grasp the concept of "no" either. They continued to attempt to kill him with a frightening, dispassionate veracity. Two Jedi, to their warped understanding, were one too many. Extra was waste, and waste was to be eliminated.

"I understand, Master," Obi-Wan said in a low voice as I began to work a second dark brown rope around his other wrist, preparing to bind his other arm to his side as well. "I know why you continued the mission despite the danger to me. There was too much at stake and you had to depend on my own resourcefulness to stay alive."

He'd tried talking, running, fighting... to no avail. Still they came for him. They did not try to overwhelm him by sheer numbers, which was all that saved him. In the end he'd had to hide from them, using the Force and his link with me to prevent discovery. I was trying desperately to stop the Brunakji from deciding that the denizens of their neighboring planet, Hyunak, that they were so much waste, too. I could not spare a moment to try to protect my beloved Obi-Wan, who refused to take the transport and leave me alone on the planet in order to get away from them. My Knight... no longer my student, Obi-Wan was perfectly my equal, accepting responsibility for himself.

"We are Jedi Knights," I murmured, agreeing, though I punctuated my words with a final tug on the ropes that now bound his arms firmly against his body. "What are the ropes, my Knight?"

"The Code, Master," Obi-Wan responded, letting the well of emotions surge again. To risk one's life over and over again... that was our life as Jedi. Our vows and our commitment to peace and justice bound us. "And... and the Force, Master," he added after a moment.

I put my arms around him, holding him as he worked through the surge of feelings. My arms, the ropes made him feel safe. And I felt safe, too, holding him against me. It was why I'd known for many years I could only love another Jedi, only another like me who subjected themselves to the will of the Force.

"My blessed, beautiful Knight," I sighed, kissing his face. "So brave..."

"I am Jedi, Master," Obi-Wan said firmly. "Yellow."

I stilled. [Are you sure?] I whispered into his mind, giving him that intimacy.

He shuddered, but replied clearly, [Yes, my Master. I need that.]

[Very well.] I came around him again and took his face into my hands. [Beloved Obi...] I kissed him deeply until he trembled, then went to the case to retrieve the yellow rope.

This was not like the others. This rope was rough and was going to leave marks. He only asked for this when he was feeling a need for catharsis like now. I could feel that need, a sharp hunger that echoed in me somewhere. Again like with the others, I doubled the rope up, then I knelt to fasten it to his right ankle, one pass through the end loop and three times around. I used a second yellow rope on his other ankle, then passed the ends of one through a spreader bar, and the end of the other through from the other direction.

"Tighter, please, Master. Please make them tight," I heard above me.

I stood and slapped his face, hard. "You are not in control of this, save the colors," I reminded him, knowing he'd done that on purpose... and I'd given him what he wanted. Then I slapped him again, once for me, to reassert my dominance over him. "Do you understand?" I said softly.

"Yes," he gasped. "Thank you, Master."

I lingered on his lips this time, pouring my love for him into our mental bond until he sighed against me, steadying. Then I knelt to continue. The left pair of yellow rope ends I drew around his ankle again, working it into the anklet already formed, then I drew it up the outside of his calf to his knee. I went around with the ends, pulling hard to fasten them firmly just below the knee.

A muffled gasp could be heard above me as the ropes burned him. I laid a hand on his thigh, pausing for a moment until he had processed the sensation. Leaning in, I kissed him on the side of the knee, then continued. After wrapping around the knee, I drew the ends up to the top of his thigh and around, though this time I anchored the ends to the original rope harness of red. I had still more of the yellow left on this end, a lot more, and, standing, I continued to weave the ends through the red torso harness.

I could feel his tension in my mind as well as every time I touched him. I knew the coarse, yellow ropes were scratchy and burning, but this is what he'd asked for. As I finished with his left side, I moved very close to him and whispered in his ear, "And why yellow, my Knight?" I left the two long ends dangling at his shoulder - they'd be attached to the suspension frame later - and knelt to begin the right side.

"Yellow," Obi-Wan breathed, holding as still as he could as to minimize the burning rub of the yellow ropes. "Yellow for fear, my Master. The fear that tries to drag me into the Dark."

At Obi-Wan's right knee, I paused, resting my forehead against his thigh for a moment. "Are you afraid now, Obi-Wan?"

"No, Master," he answered promptly, and I heard a note of pride in his voice. "I trust you, my Master."

"You will not always have me here, my Knight," I whispered, closing my eyes for a moment.

Now he hesitated, and in our bond I could feel the abrupt and unwanted dismay at that reminder. There were many years between us, the age difference great. "Or you will not have me, my Master," Obi-Wan said at last, reminding me again of the mission. Suddenly he twisted his body to make the ropes scrape against his skin. I jerked him back into place, but it was done. Now he was mute, though breathing a little faster.

[There is no death, Obi,] I reminded him as I continued to weave the yellow ropes up the right side of his body, keeping my mental "voice" as tender and loving as I could. [There is the Force, my sweet Knight. We shall be together forever in the Force.]

[I know, Master,] he replied, holding back a whimper as he steadied himself, centering in the same Force which swirled around us like a sweet caress.

Standing, I affixed the remaining ends of the yellow ropes into the top rings of the suspension frame. It was not expected to hold him off the ground, not like this, but it would support some of his weight. I had set up the frame so that it sat before a full-length mirror. My final addition to my "art piece" was to remove my Obi-Wan's blindfold so he could see. Then I backed away silently, though I remained with him in his mind, keeping a close, intimate touch.

Obi-Wan's POV, continuing:

I kept my eyes closed even after Qui-Gon took the blindfold from me. I wanted first to let the ropes work on me some more. Although I knew that I was not fully suspended, I let my body sag in my bondage anyway, feeling its hold on me.

I was captured in the ropes - and the ropes became my vocation, my life as a Jedi. Red for the blood I would gladly spill at need - my own first. Or preferably, as I'd said, the bloodshed I would help prevent. Dark brown for my commitment to the Order and our beliefs, personified in my teacher who had shown me like no other had what it meant to be Jedi. And yellow for the fear, the anger, the paths to the Dark that I must master in myself, must keep in their places so that I may hold firm to the Light. Indeed, these tested me the most, and hence the yellow rope burned, chafing my skin. Not all the red on my body would be rope.

Pulling on the ropes, I felt a resurgence of emotion and gave in to it, letting for a moment the beast come to the fore. I growled and thrashed madly, letting myself be cut further by the rough yellow ropes, welcoming the pain, welcoming the hold these bindings had on me, my mind recalling the horrors we'd witnessed on Brunak. Then, just as abruptly, I calmed completely, resting in the ropes yet again.

In the back of my mind, he was still there, watching and guarding in silence. He - Qui-Gon Jinn, Jedi Master - he knew. And that made so much of a difference to me, that I could do this, be like this, yield like this before the one man who truly knew what this did for me. For had I not traced my fingers over the myriad tiny scars of a lifetime as Jedi that the bacta tank and healing trances had not been able to diminish on his body? Did I not see the scars in his heart and mind as well? It was more than enough right now that he was there.

When the pain sifted away to dullness, I opened my eyes. And I found a smile rising to my lips, seeing my master's handiwork at last. I did not see what most would - a man captive in bondage. I saw my own sacrifice and dedication, my hard work, and my faith. I was beautiful. I don't know when the tears started to stream down, adding to my master's work, but when they did, I saw him move close at last, meeting my gaze in the mirror from over my shoulder.

Then Qui-Gon added something also, and we both smiled. He brought his large, callused hands around to the front of my body, letting his fingers splay over the diamond patterns. "My Knight," he murmured, and I felt his pride and love in me. "So beautiful."

I nodded. "We are, my Master." I sighed as he continued to play his hands over me, feeling me through the criss-crossed ropes. Then his fingers wiped the tears from my cheeks.

"Beautiful Obi," Qui-Gon whispered, kissing my ear. "Your master grants you a favor."

I touched his mind shyly, wonder flooding through me as he shuddered in delight. [Master, if you would take me... like this. We shall complete this beautiful picture like that, Master. If you would please grant me the favor.]

The look he threw me raised the temperature of the room dramatically. Then I felt Force-fingers opening me, and, thrilled, I leaned into the ropes, wanting to give him good access. Qui-Gon's hands moved back, one to settle on my hip, then other to move aside his tunics - he was, of course, still fully dressed, formal robe and all - and to free his member from his leggings. Then he started to press into me.

I yielded. I gave myself to him, all the rest of me that he did not already own, in this time I would be his completely. Later, before the Council, I would own myself again and know we both preferred that. But now, here, like this... I was His.

I'd expected Qui-Gon to hold me by the hips and drill into me, but he surprised me by simply wrapping his arms around me and moving in and out of me with a careful slowness that made my heart ache wonderfully, not to mention how thoroughly it massaged my prostate. I felt swept up into a cataclysm of ecstasy like the Force itself making love to my body. By now, my genitals were straining against the leather lace bindings and despite my control, I let loose a little whimper, wanting to beg him to release me and stroke me, but I was not permitted to beg.

I felt his lips on my neck, then his large hands shifted down to undo the lace from around my swollen penis and sac. My master knew what I needed. Once the leather lace was dropped, he fitted his hand around my member and murmured in my ear, "Wait."

Despite his order, I could not help but surge up into that grasp, aching to let loose. But again the ropes pulled me back into my proper place. I was his. His to please and to be granted pleasure to at his whim. [Yessss...] I hissed into his mind, into that place of owning.

[As you yield to me, Obi-Wan,] Qui-Gon replied to me, his body still moving within me, against my back, [you yield to our true Master, the will of the Force. I too, yield to it... Our loving Master, who will one day embrace us, keep us safe forever. Our yielding allows it to leave behind the peace where the Light is the greatest.]

[Yes, Master,] I responded to both of them. [There is no fear, no death...]

The Force crushed us with power. Qui-Gon moaned against my shoulder and convulsed as he came deep within me. At the same time, he began to stroke me, gasping his command. "Yes, NOW, my Knight!"

I was already close to the pinnacle. Abruptly I was spurting onto his hand. I cried out and undulated within the embrace of the ropes as the waves of orgasm shuddered through me.

Then all was still except for the harshness of our breathing. Qui-Gon's arms, not the ropes, supported me now, for he clung to me, his cheek against mine as he bent his head over my shoulder.

I felt purged and clear. A peace settled over me that I knew I could not have won through mere meditation or even through simple love-making. I glanced again in the mirror at the ropes encasing my torso and limbs, thought again about the colors, what the ropes meant. The mission was locked away in its box now, placed in perspective where it could not be allowed to threaten me again. Glancing at the reflection of my master's face in the mirror, I saw as well as felt in my mind how his tranquillity matched mine.

I could have rested there, in the ropes, in his arms, all day, but for the Council. Qui-Gon's gentle touch in my mind inquired and I answered with a caressing touch back. All was well. Yes, I could stand, in fact I felt very strong.

His lips grazed my cheek, then he straightened, beginning the process of removing the ropes.

When at last I stood clear, Qui-Gon turned me around, inspecting the rope marks intently. Only the yellow ropes, of course, had left burn marks from when I purposely struggled against them. Because of his care, the skin was only abraded, not broken. His fingers traced the scrapes on my sides, then he gazed into my eyes deeply. "We will deal with this later, my Knight," he murmured.

I looked forward to that. A shared healing trance with my beloved, then a blissful night's sleep in his arms. "Yes, my Master," I murmured back, smiling.

Qui-Gon sighed, looking me over again. "It's time, Obi-Wan. Are you ready to face the Council?"

Except that I was still naked and bore reddened weals and scratch marks. "Yes, Qui-Gon," I replied, winking at him as I went to retrieve my clothes.

In moments, after a hasty clean up and dressing, we left our quarters, hoods up, departing to meet with the Jedi High Council.

(Still Obi-Wan's POV)

I delivered our report solemnly, Qui-Gon silent at my side, our arms folded formally in our robe sleeves as we faced the Council together. They let me tell the entire sordid tale without interruption, their faces Jedi-impassive. Despite my words, I still felt the placid calm that had settled into me by the end of my time of bondage, the serenity that had deepened as my master removed my ropes and we walked here.

When I was finished, I waited for the questions I knew were coming. In my mind, I felt the wordless assurance of my beloved Qui-Gon that I had done well.

"Knight Obi-Wan," Master Koon spoke into the silence. "Do I hear you correctly saying that the Brunakji decided to kill you because two Jedi Knights, not one, were present on their planet?"

I bowed to Plo Koon, a very fair man and a friend of Qui-Gon's. "Yes, Master Koon. The Brunakji declared that two were a waste, and that Master Jinn as the senior of us should demonstrate our understanding of their society's philosophy of frugality by killing me in ritual in their elders' presence."

I had already stated this, and more, giving the facts of the mission, how I'd escaped the mindless intent of the Brunakji to eliminate me.

"Tell us what you understand of this 'philosophy', Knight Obi-Wan," Master Mace Windu asked solemnly.

Bowing to Windu as well, I related what I understood. "The Brunakji who are in power on the planet believe that a society must be reduced to its simplest levels of functioning in order to be efficient. Therefore any redundancy must be rooted out. Any groups of citizens performing identical functions - and that is open to their own interpretation, Master - those groups are thinned until only one or two individuals are left. We witnessed the reduction of a library staff to a single person, the others - archivists, administrative personnel, maintenance staff - ritually slain on the steps of the building to demonstrate conformance with the current policies." It had been one of the most horrifying things I'd ever witnessed. And that was just as we'd arrived, before the Brunakji had decided to extend their butchering to the Jedi.

"A form of population control?" Master Adi Gallia asked.

"No, Master," I replied quietly, bowing to her. "Although that might have been the explanation in the beginning. We do not know. The current government claims religious reasons." Which was the unfortunate part, for that was the one reason the Republic could not use to overturn the government.

"You keep mentioning the 'current government'," Windu reminded me. "This is a recent development?"

I felt Qui-Gon's gaze on me. I was still calm and without tension. "The Brunakji Asradj party," I explained, "which was the strongest opponent to the government that had been in place for centuries, overturned that government three months ago... by killing every member of that party they could find. They are systematically killing all their opponents."

Yoda was nodding, his gaze narrowed at me. "Knew this we did not. Always unsettled, the Brunakji have been, though peaceful... until now. Yet none of this was part of your mission there, hmmmm?" He glanced at Qui-Gon.

My master sighed and nodded. "Their sister planet, Hyunak, is beset. We went to try to negotiate a peace between the two peoples, but apparently the elimination of the Hyunakji was also part of the Asradj's plans to 'simplify' their planetary system. When Obi-Wan had to go into hiding to avoid being victim to their purge, I tried to talk them out of including the Hyunakji in their sphere of influence."

"Failed you did," Yoda commented.

"Yes," Qui-Gon said reluctantly.

"No," I said immediately with mild surprise. We looked at one another. "Master Qui-Gon, you did convince the Brunakji elders to call for a cessation of the purge during the Janar festival season."

"So the Brunakji will have a good holiday before they resume killing one another..."

"But we each contacted elements of opposition who might gain an edge in the meantime, Master," I reminded him.

"In six months?"

"Many things can happen in that time." We hadn't actually discussed this beforehand. Still, I felt a rumble of amusement and felt it echoed in him. Usually he was the one, not I, making an argument for trusting in the will of the Force working through our actions, no matter how small. And had been, only an hour ago. We smiled, remembering.

"Indeed," Yoda added, nodding thoughtfully. "Your work may bear fruit yet. Trust in the Force, we shall."

"Are there any other questions?" Windu asked, glancing around.

In response, Master Depa Billaba stood and approached us. She was known to be deeply intuitive, capable of accurately reading the hearts and spirits of many species. She stopped before me, gazing deep into my eyes. I held still, turning my own attention within to the Force in me and the watchful sentinel in my mind, my beloved.

After a moment, she spoke. "When the killing at the library started, they prevented you from leaving, holding both of you firm, and making you watch. There was no way back to your transport; indeed, you called for the transport to leave without you. Then, your minds full of screaming and the blood of twenty innocents slain before your eyes, you were taken before the elders." There was a shudder of horror to her voice. This was all lifted from my memories. What else she may have seen there, I did not know, though her eyes narrowed at me shrewdly. "Rather a lot for a young Knight to have to witness."

"I have seen killing before, Master," I replied smoothly.

"But not on this level..." Her dark eyes held mine, challenging me.

"No, Master." If she was looking for a sign of weakness in me, she wasn't going to find any.

[The mission is in its box now,] my master murmured into my mind. [Remember the ropes.]

[I remember the red blood of the innocents,] I replied into his, feeling the strength of our conviction as Jedi. [Perhaps we should ask to go back in six months?]

[Yes, if the Force and the Council will it.] Qui-Gon then sent me a wordless pulse of love, which I returned.

Depa Billaba bowed to me at last. "You are a worthy Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You understand much." Then she bowed to Qui-Gon, the compliment to him implicit.

"Watch this situation we shall - from a distance," Yoda commented, regarding us. "Discuss this in a few months with you again, we might."

"For now," Mace Windu finished for them all, compassion in his voice, "go in peace. We discern that you both have already found some in dealing with this terrible event, which is fortunate. May the Force be with you both."

Outside, Qui-Gon slung a long arm across my shoulders. "We should get something to eat," he murmured as we walked back toward our quarters. "And then we both have an appointment with a healing trance."

I slid my arm around his waist, sighing as he matched his pace to mine. "And then?" I couldn't help giving him a sidelong glance up, checking his expression.

Qui-Gon Jinn smiled warmly down at me, his glance flicking over my face. "Then someone with far more resilient knees than me is going to attend to the ropes all over the floor, my Knight." He winked at me.

"And then?" I winked back.

"And then I'm going to kiss my Knight until he's ready to faint, and THEN take him to bed where he's going to become my cuddle toy."

I laughed. "You find me cuddly?"

"Excessively," Qui-Gon returned, grinning.

"Are you going to rub my hair and suck your thumb?" I teased. The mission was deep in its box, locked away for now.

"I will likely rub and/or suck something, yes," he teased back suggestively.

I laughed with him, long and free, master of fear, master of myself.

The End