by Destina Fortunato (




CATEGORY: Romance, angst, drama, first-time

WARNINGS: This is not an AU; it follows canon, for the most part. 'Nuff said.


ARCHIVE: M_A and my site only.

DISCLAIMER: Lucas owns 'em. I use 'em. Lots.

SUMMARY: Through interwoven points of view, the evolution of the twelve-year relationship between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan is revealed.

NOTES: I decided to try and put together a picture of the evolution of the relationship between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon from start to finish, taking different points of view into account. I wanted to use recollections of various moments in time, moments completely different from material that was already covered in the movie or books. Man, what a project.

It's hard to believe this started out as a response to the Cage!Fic challenge several weeks ago, because it's mutated into something completely unrecognizable. Beware the warm fuzzies in this one, tho there is still considerable angst in places. Also some of my favorite cliches. Couldn't resist -- and I did manage to completely avoid Naboo.

THANKS: to Beth, Rauhnee, and Pumpkin for early beta and/or valuable suggestions (even if I didn't take them all). And to the Masters of Beta -- Beth, Amber, Catnip, Gwendolen and Kimdy -- for their incredible, detailed comments on the various versions. I owe you guys.

DEDICATION: to DBKate and Rina with love. They know why. And to Pumpkin for the inspiration she provided with her Snapshots, and for encouraging me to add more memories to the story -- she inadvertently created a monster by saying that.

FEEDBACK: Yes, yes, yes! Please!

Formatting note: This fic moves between first-person recollection and memories recounted in the past tense, which is a little unusual. In each of the first four sections, recollections alternate with memories; to make it a little easier to track, all first-person recollection starts and ends with these marks: ~~ ~~

I: Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn

~~ I began to put the fragments together slowly, over time. It was not as simple as one might suppose. Obi-Wan has never been easy to understand, never the compliant padawan, and I was not the perfect master by any means. For so long I remained blind to the mystery of his being, to the gift I had been given. If I had been able to find the key to the enigma or to see as clearly as Yoda did, we might not have wasted so much time, but some things are not meant to be.

There is no room in my heart for regret.

Certain moments in life have gained importance much later, when hindsight makes them clear. Memories, once tainted by emotion and wishful thinking, become distinct when seen through the filter of time.

I never understood how dark my days had become until he brought his light to me. In all the places he has inhabited, past and present, illumination remains. ~~

"Again." Qui-Gon heard the frustration and impatience behind the clipped instruction, and bit back a grimace of irritation. It was a simple exercise, one Obi-Wan should have been able to grasp within minutes. Instead, the boy was on his twentieth try, and his concentration seemed to be slipping.

Obi-Wan caught his lip between his teeth, worrying it as he set his jaw and leapt into the air. He stretched out a hand for his lightsaber, which leapt from the ground and slid into his palm like an extension of his arm. With his other hand, he reached out for the tiny silver ring, dangling twenty feet above the practice mat.

Once again, he missed.

Like a graceful bird, he landed gently on the mat, breathing hard, and lowered his eyes.

"Enough of this. We will return to it tomorrow," Qui-Gon instructed, replaying the exercise in his mind. "Your focus is not all it should be, Obi-Wan."

"I'm sorry, Master."

Qui-Gon looked up as the voice wavered slightly, and a concerned frown furrowed his brow. "Tomorrow is a fresh start. We will begin again when you are not so tired. Go and shower."

"Yes, Master." Obi-Wan turned without looking up and walked slowly in the direction of the showers, leaving behind the distinct aura of someone defeated.

Qui-Gon picked up his training equipment and started for the locker room, then changed his mind and moved into the corridor toward their quarters. His thirteen-year-old padawan had proven he was a valuable asset to the Jedi, and his loyalty to Qui-Gon was complete. Why, then, did it seem that the boy's attention wandered from his duty at every turn?

That lack of concentration became clear when Obi-Wan began advanced training in acrobatics and aerial maneuvers. The young Jedi was out of balance, physically and emotionally. His focus was gone, his measurement of distance completely wrong in most cases. His use of the Force to assist him was haphazard at best, and he seemed reluctant to open his being to the essence of the Force around them. Qui-Gon found the sudden change disturbing.

Once back in their quarters, he showered quickly, mulling over his options. As he relaxed in a comfortable chair near his work desk, he watched the night sky and sleepily contemplated ways he might assist Obi-Wan in conquering his problem.

It was the strong sense of fear and pain that woke Qui-Gon. Obi-Wan's mental distress pulled him out of his chair without conscious thought. Within moments he was running as quickly as he could toward the echo of need resonating in his mind.

Their training bond led him to the practice hall, and he entered the room to find Obi-Wan half-unconscious in the middle of the ring, moaning with pain and attempting to rise before Qui-Gon could discover him there.

"Obi-Wan!" He covered the space between them quickly, falling to his knees beside the prone figure and scooping him into anxious arms. "What has happened?"

"Please, no, please," Obi-Wan begged, arching against his master's body, eyes half-closed.

Qui-Gon pressed a hand to Obi-Wan's forehead and pulled it away with mounting fear - the skin was hot to the touch. With tender insistence, he pressed into his padawan's mind, repairing the broken places, reassuring the boy, measuring the extent of his injury...and it was enough to stop his heart with fear.

He gathered Obi-Wan into his arms and stood, cradling the young man to him, moving at breakneck speed through the halls until he reached his destination. He surrendered Obi-Wan to the healers, hanging back just far enough to be out of the way, but he felt his connection to his padawan strengthening with every moment that passed, gaining substance as Obi-Wan reached for him and found his master there.

An infected wound sustained during a previous practice, the healers said. Obi-Wan had concealed it from him in his quest to be everything Qui-Gon expected - the perfect padawan. Qui-Gon digested the information, allowed himself the luxury of self-recrimination, and went to see the boy as soon as he was allowed in.

It took only one glance between them to cement the bond. Obi-Wan's eyes filled with tears of disappointment at his own weakness, and Qui-Gon's eyes reflected absolution and trust.

"You were foolish to attempt to practice the exercise alone," Qui-Gon said simply, resuming his role.

"I wanted to do it right," Obi-Wan answered. The expression on his face showed his understanding - words were unnecessary. His master already knew.

"Perfection is not required," Qui-Gon said, allowing a glint of humor to show in his eyes as he settled on the bed next to his young student. "I am your teacher. I will be the one to set the tasks, and the pace --and the limits. And you will tell me when you are hurt. Never attempt to conceal things from me. Is that clear?"

"Yes, Master." Obi-Wan closed his eyes as his master's long fingers soothed his temples.

"Rest now, Padawan."

~~ I should have been willing to accept the connection between us, but I was too reserved and aloof. I was slow to give praise where it was deserved. Obi-Wan gave me unconditional loyalty and trust, despite my attempts to remain apart from my feelings.

I struggled to accept what he offered, but my attachment to my previous apprentice had cost me dearly, and I was not willing to repeat that exercise in blind devotion. My mind said it was better to be cautious, but my heart saw Obi-Wan with its own agenda. I couldn't remain at a distance forever. ~~

"No." Qui-Gon pushed away the fingers that tenderly probed his injuries, but the gesture was too weak to be convincing. In the damp cold of the small tent, the loss of the warmth of those hands was noticeable, and he shivered involuntarily. A hissing intake of breath between gritted teeth betrayed his pain as his damaged ribs were rattled.

Obi-Wan looked up, determination settling into the tight line of his jaw. "It has to be done, Master. These wounds are not healing as they should. You have ignored your injuries too long. If I don't do this now, I may not be able to do it at all."

"You are not to waste your strength healing me." Qui-Gon's voice was harsh with exhaustion. "Don't disobey me, Obi-Wan. You'll need all your reserves if we are attacked again."

"You are my reserves," Obi-Wan said stubbornly.

"Part of becoming a Jedi is learning to follow orders, Padawan." The implied rebuke had the desired effect, and Obi-Wan withdrew slightly, kneeling beside the low cot. Qui-Gon regretted having to say the words, but better Obi-Wan be hurt by disapproval than by giving too much of his own energy to a lost cause.

"I can't sit here and watch you die," Obi-Wan said quietly.

Qui-Gon felt the push of emotion through their training bond, stronger than it had ever been before. He allowed it through, partly because it was all the comfort he had, and because he was not strong enough to close his mind. Obi-Wan's love infused the bond, but there was no fear.

Qui-Gon experienced a sudden surge of pride for the boy. He was barely one year into his apprenticeship, just turned fourteen, and already he had so many qualities that would make him a fine Jedi - compassion, selflessness, loyalty. But his stubbornness...that was going to be a problem.

"I have learned much from you, Master," Obi-Wan said, in response to the unspoken thought.

The words provoked a small chuckle, and a wince of pain. "You would do well not to follow my example in that regard, Obi-Wan. I heed my own course, much to the Council's dismay."

"As must we all," the boy said.

There was more he might have said to his padawan, but the night was rushing away from him as sleep came to call, drawing him down into darkness and feverish dreams. His dreams brought with them the restless, aching itch of injury, and apparitions of events past and future, ghosting across faint, distant dreamscapes.

Sweet sensations of warmth and comfort permeated the cold, spreading throughout his body, dispelling the stiffness, and he sank deeper into sleep, restless no more.

Something startled Qui-Gon into wakefulness. Instantly alert, he turned his head to find Obi-Wan burrowed against his side, cuddled up to him in search of body heat. The boy was shivering.

With an instinctive gesture, Qui-Gon reached to pull their robes higher...and realized he could move without pain. His eyes flew to the boy, who was not quite asleep, and not quite awake. "You deliberately disobeyed me," he said, trying and failing to make his tone stern. "You might have done yourself harm. Let me look at you."

Obi-Wan turned his body as Qui-Gon wrapped the robe around him. His face was pale and drawn, and blue from the cold, but the satisfied expression there spoke of love. Without another word, Qui-Gon folded his arms around the boy, hugging him close for warmth, and together, they slept.

~~ One more barrier crossed, one more demonstration of Obi-Wan's strength and his ability to know his own limits. I had not given him enough credit, and soon enough, my faith in him would be put to the test yet again, as would his faith in me. The tables turned quickly, and I faced questions I had not considered for a very long time. ~~

"Well, this is uncomfortable."

Qui-Gon chuckled as he looked down at his apprentice, who was fidgeting around on the floor of their makeshift prison, trying to find a tolerable position. "Sleeping on metal isn't supposed to be comfortable, Obi-Wan. I'm amazed they've given us enough room to stretch out."

Their cage began to sway slowly as Obi-Wan tossed and turned. Alarmed, the young Jedi stopped moving and lay still. "It's no use," he said, sounding resigned. "I can't meditate, and I can't sleep."

Without hesitation, Qui-Gon eased himself down next to his padawan, clinging to the bars as the cage rocked precariously above the flaming torches and muttering citizens. He stretched out an arm, welcoming Obi-Wan into the circle of his protection as the younger man settled against him, using his chest as a pillow.

"How will you stay awake to keep first watch?" Obi-Wan asked, looking up at his master with a mixture of trust and apprehension. He curled his body against Qui-Gon's, sinuous and unconsciously sensual.

With a deep breath, Qui-Gon tightened his embrace and answered, "I can still sense Xanatos through the remnants of the training bond. It can't be completely severed. If he comes for us, I'll know."

Obi-Wan stiffened against the comfort of Qui-Gon's body. "The bond is still there?"

"Yes." Qui-Gon's hand moved down his padawan's arm, reassuring him. "I wasn't able to break the bond completely, just as my bond with Yoda still exists. I'm not sure I can ever be free of it."

"But you tried?" The question was imbued with enormous curiosity and jealousy.

"I do not wish to be tied to him, Obi-Wan." Qui-Gon looked down into his student's face, studying the serious expression. "For many reasons."

For a long moment, the silence between them stretched into something more, something deep and true, waiting to be given voice.

"You'll wake me if you need me?"

The question was a poorly concealed demand, and Qui-Gon laughed. The sound rang out, stirring the crowd into a small frenzy. "Yes, Obi-Wan." He hugged his padawan to him, watching as the boy drifted off to sleep.

~~ As he grew into adulthood, I understood the pride of a father, the victory of a teacher, the lust of a man. I resisted the inevitable, for I knew things must change forever on the day we stepped past the roles of teacher and student together, breaking past the final barriers. I was not ready to let go of the past, and I feared for what the future would bring when he was ready to walk beside me, as my equal. ~~

II. Jedi Master Adi Gallia

~~ I have known powerful men, leaders of worlds, great warriors who could sway the balance of power through the use of a single word. One of those men is a Jedi, not interested in creature comforts or personal ambition. Qui-Gon Jinn's will has shaped the beliefs of others. In his lifetime, he has known great tragedy, and the cost of being his own man has been immense. His way is not often the easy path.

I watched him sacrifice much in the pursuit of his own ideals; I observed as he mourned the loss of truth to the balance of the Force. It broke my heart to see him crushed by a mistake made out of pride. ~~

When he wanted to be left alone, Qui-Gon was difficult to find. Adi was used to seeking him in uncommon places, but when word reached her of what had happened, instinct drew her to the Temple gardens.

Her friend sat in a meditation pose, face tense but composed, and for the first time she noticed scattered strands of silver in his hair. Their youth was behind them, she mused, quieting her steps as she approached. It did no good; he sensed her presence and opened his eyes, watching her as she neared.

"You heard, then?" he asked, unable to keep a trace of bitterness from his words.

"I did." She had not prepared any words of comfort because she knew they would be inadequate. Instead, she knelt beside him and placed her hand on his where it rested on his thigh. "Were you injured in the battle?"

"No." His shadowed eyes bored into her. "I couldn't strike the killing blow, Adi. I had the opportunity, but I lacked the courage to stop him." His voice was too calm, almost devoid of emotion.

"You have never lacked for courage," she said evenly. "You loved him, believed in him. Those are not easy things to put aside."

"I had a duty," he began, and stopped, looking away. His eyes focused on some far-away point as he said, "I am a Jedi. I have been trained to see what others do not, to shape and change events for the good of others. I thought only of myself, of my place in things, of proving my old Master wrong." A small chuckle, rough and ironic, cut Adi to the heart as he continued, "I'm not fit to be a teacher. What an example I will be for generations of Jedi -- the first master to lose a padawan to the Dark Side in a thousand years."

Adi pressed his hand harder beneath her own. After a moment, she said, "Xanatos chose his own path. If anything, you have given him the only tools to prevent his heart from drowning in evil."

He turned his head, and she saw the sudden anger blazing in his blue eyes. "Tools? I taught him to use the Force to his best advantage! I am responsible for this. If I'd listened to Yoda from the beginning, I would not have been blind to his faults. He is lost to the Jedi now, and nothing will change that." His mouth twisted into a thin line. "What do you want here? There's nothing you can do for me."

"Perhaps that is true, my friend...but I know what he means to you." She deliberately used the present tense, knowing that the young man was very much alive in Qui-Gon's heart. "I can mourn with you."

Qui-Gon said nothing more, but he permitted the curl of her fingers around his hand. They meditated for a time, and she felt the raging emotions he attempted to dissipate into the Force. With effort, he released his disappointment, his pride and guilt, but the anger remained.

They never spoke of Xanatos again.

~~ Qui-Gon was forever changed by Xanatos' betrayal. He carried deep scars invisible to the naked eye, scars which grew harder and more twisted over time as he scored them open with ruthless self-examination. He began to withdraw from his friends, from colleagues, and refused to take another padawan. For a time, there was discussion among the Council regarding his state of mind, but Yoda put a halt to it, and refused to hear any more. Qui-Gon was to be left alone, and if he preferred misery to absolution, so be it.

Only one thing has broken through to Qui-Gon in all the years since that day he lost Xanatos. Love conquered the Jedi master, in the form of a strong, dedicated student with quiet, thoughtful eyes. I saw it long before he did, of course - we all did. Yoda went to considerable lengths to ensure Qui-Gon did not ignore the call of the Force. He knew, I think, what would eventually come of it, but he has never told me, and I would not presume to ask.

It pleased me to see life in Qui-Gon's eyes once again, to hear his voice lift with amusement or pride when he spoke of Obi-Wan. Knowing his padawan, it was easy to see the reason why. ~~

"Master Gallia." The young man bowed low.

"What can I do for you, Padawan Kenobi?" Adi smiled at the complete absence of fear in the boy. Most padawans trembled and stammered in front of Council members, but this one was different. He had been taught well, and his manners were impeccable.

"I have come to ask permission to leave the Temple grounds, Master."

"Why do you not approach your own master with this request?" she asked curiously. All apprentices were restricted to the Temple until their fifteenth birthday, and could leave only with special passes provided by their masters. Coruscant was a rough, ugly world, and even a Jedi was exposed to danger in its streets and skies.

"It is because of my master that I wish to leave." At the sudden upward turn of her eyebrow, Obi-Wan shook his head hastily. "Forgive me, I misspoke. I wish to purchase a naming day gift for my master, and it will not be a surprise if he sees me doing so."

"You are under no obligation to purchase gifts for Master Jinn, Obi-Wan," Adi said gently, probing a bit with the Force to determine the boy's truthfulness. It came to her clearly, shining like a bright beacon. There was no deception in the boy, and she doubted he could lie without creating such a disturbance that all around him would know. "That is his obligation to you, on your birthday."

"I know, Master Gallia. That is what will make it so interesting." Pure mischief sparkled in the boy's eyes, and not for the first time, Adi envied Qui-Gon his padawan.

"Very well. Come with me, and I will see you are given the correct documents. Choose with care, young man. Your master is a man of simple means, and Jedi have no need for material possessions."

"Yes, Master Gallia."

She watched him hurry off to catch a transport for the surface, smiling a little. A few days after, she took pains to learn the nature of his gift to Qui-Gon - a most practical second cloak, made of soft dark blue material.

Only later did it occur to her that the boy might have chosen the color to match his master's eyes.

~~ For many years, Obi-Wan struggled to understand the living Force. I discussed this with his master once or twice. Rarely have I seen an apprentice with such raw power, such ability to command and use the Force as he wished. In that sense, he equals Qui-Gon, and at the core this disturbs his teacher. Too similar to another such gifted student, and yet, not similar at all. ~~

"Foolish were you!" barked Yoda. "Thought nothing did you of your master, of the overall good. Only of your pride!"

All the color drained from Obi-Wan's face as the Jedi Master spoke. The lecture continued, becoming more focused on the young padawan's flaws, which Yoda seemed to think were numerous. None of the Council intervened, although several glances were exchanged. It was for the best.

Obi-Wan had taken it upon himself to disregard the instructions of both the Council and his master, and offer himself up as a hostage during negotiations on Det Betherut. He was so certain of his powers of persuasion that he believed he could influence the proceedings if he could get to the wartribe chieftain, and the only way to ensure that audience was to become a prisoner.

Almost as though he had sensed Obi-Wan's intention, Qui-Gon had been reluctant to send him alone to bargain with the Southern tribes, but his padawan was the only other Jedi on-planet, and solving the dispute was crucial. Qui-Gon was needed in the northern provinces, to settle the dispute between Northern and Eastern tribes. The boy was not quite seventeen, but was skilled in diplomacy, and there had been no other option.

"No one questions your good intentions," Master Mundi said soothingly, with a sidelong glance at Yoda. "What we question is your judgment, your methodology. You cannot simply disregard what you are told because you think you know best. Not at this stage of your training."

"Your master's padawan, you *are*," Yoda said, and his meaning was clear.

"Forgive me, Master Yoda. May I speak?" Obi-Wan asked, bowing low. Yoda waved a hand in his direction, and the young Jedi continued, "I bear the responsibility for this. My master has taught me to reason out the best course of action, but he has never encouraged me to disobey the Council."

"Leads by example he does!" Yoda said. "Learned well have you."

"You were thinking more of the goal, and you wanted to please your master. It is understandable, but you allowed your need for approval to overwhelm all else, and your pride was your downfall," Master Gallia said quietly.

Obi-Wan had fallen silent, and his head was bowed. "I understand, Masters."

"Go and reflect on these events," Mace Windu instructed. "Meditate until your heart becomes clear, and then return to your master to discuss what has occurred. You may go."

"Thank you, Master." A low bow, and the padawan was gone.

Several hours later, the Council concluded its business and adjourned for the evening meal. Adi Gallia found Qui-Gon sitting at a table alone, eating without enthusiasm.

"May I join you?" she asked, smiling at him. He gestured to the table, indicating his consent.

"How did Obi-Wan fare with the Council?" he asked, taking a bite of stew.

Surprised, Adi looked up at him. "Hasn't he told you?"

"What do you mean?" Qui-Gon glanced sharply at her. "I thought the Council session just concluded."

"It did, but he was debriefed hours ago. He was instructed to meditate and discuss the matter with you further," Adi said.

Qui-Gon pushed his plate away and rose to his feet immediately. Curious, Adi followed as the tall Jedi strode off in the direction of the meditation rooms. "Perhaps he simply needed time to himself," she suggested.

"I think it is more complicated than that," Qui-Gon told her, quickening his pace.

When they reached the "quiet rooms", Qui-Gon began a methodical search, looking through each large observation window and moving on down the row. The rooms were full in the evening, making the search a lengthy one. Finally, he pulled up short outside one of the smaller rooms.

Obi-Wan knelt in the center of the floor, motionless. Adi felt Qui-Gon gathering the Force and reaching out to his pady muscle in his body tense. "I will not interfere until he is no longer capable of continuing. Obi-Wan is not a boy anymore, and he must bear the consequences of his choices."

"Then I will wait, also," she said, afraid for the master as much for the student.

The night was long, and Qui-Gon paced restlessly throughout. Adi tried to distract him with talk of politics, of missions they had completed together, but he was focused on the waning energy coming from his padawan. One bit at a time, his control slipped, and the haggard expression on his face grew more anxious as dawn approached.

"There, did you feel that?" Qui-Gon said suddenly, turning toward the window. "His focus has broken." Immediately, Qui-Gon directed Force-energy toward his padawan, wrapping the young man with invisible comfort.

Obi-Wan made a small noise and pitched sideways onto the mat, concentration shattered. He caught himself with one hand, pushing up even as Qui-Gon moved through the door and went to him. The communication between them was palpable even without words as Obi-Wan opened his eyes and looked into his master's. Adi did not want to intrude, and with a last look at the two of them, she turned and left them to their privacy.

~~ I have watched these two men together for many years and I see the changes underway between them. Qui-Gon has confided to me many things he would not tell his padawan, and I know now that his heart is full. There will be a time when they will understand each other completely. When that time comes, there will be nothing but joy for them both. ~~

III: Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi

~~ In the beginning, things between us were difficult. My master was unwilling to let me come too close. Eventually, I learned the reasons for his reluctance, but it stung to think he did not want me as his padawan.

Things became easier for us after a time. Still, for many years I would catch him watching me, as if looking for signs of weakness or Darkness to appear in the open where he might catch them. It unnerved me to think that he still harbored doubts about me.

Small events passed by, blending into the passage of time, becoming months, then solar years. My master began to trust me, and I him, over the many days of my apprenticeship.

Some of those days are memorable, and there is one moment that has become fixed in my mind. It was a day of realizations for me. Such things are hard to forget. ~~

Obi-Wan combed his hair for the tenth time, adjusted his tunic, changed belts, and changed belts again. He smiled at his mirror image, pleased.

"You will be late, Padawan, if you don't detach yourself from your reflection," Qui-Gon called, and there was laughter in his voice. "Where are the two of you meeting?"

"At a lounge on the day side of the planet," Obi-Wan responded, brushing out his braid hastily. "We're having dinner, and then we are going to his quarters." Obi-Wan felt his fingers start to tremble, and rolled his eyes at his own nervousness. Saying the words, to his master of all people, had made things seem real.

Choosing a first sexual partner had been difficult for him, and he had waited far longer than most other padawans in his age group. Something told him the young knight with laughing blue eyes and a crooked grin was the one, and the attraction was mutual. He was relieved to be getting it over with, in a way. At nineteen, he was far too old to be embarking on a first romance.

His third attempt to fix his braid failed, and he made a sound of exasperation as he combed his fingers through the strands and began again. Qui-Gon appeared in the open doorway and watched for a moment.

"Here, let me." Qui-Gon brushed Obi-Wan's fingers aside and began to deftly weave his padawan braid, as he sometimes had when Obi-Wan was much younger. The action had a familiar comfort to it, and Obi-Wan felt as though he were somehow moving from one stage of his life to another as those large hands bound the braid quickly.

"Thank you, Master." Obi-Wan smiled and turned away for a moment to grab his cloak. When he turned back, the look in his master's eyes made him catch his breath. It was a strange look, full of unguarded tenderness and pride, and something else...something that made Obi-Wan's heart beat faster and his body tremble.

"You look very handsome, Padawan," his master said quietly, moving away to allow Obi-Wan to pass. A veil of control descended across Qui-Gon's face, obscuring the emotions there, but Obi-Wan had already recognized them, and there was no going back. "I will expect you late tomorrow morning. Contact me if you expect to be longer."

"I will, Master, thank you." They regarded one another a moment more, before Obi-Wan smiled again and was on his way.

Much later that night, with his head on the broad pillow of his lover's chest, Obi-Wan thought of dark blue eyes and large hands, and of the danger of feelings left unspoken. Those thoughts followed him down into sleep, as they would nearly every night for many years to come.

~~ It was always there between us after that. I never spoke of what I had seen, but he knew I was aware. If anything, his distance from me increased. New levels appeared in our relationship, new complexities that I did not have time to solve. I was kept far too busy on mission after mission with my master, running from one dispute to another, always in motion.

I have heard others say that the pain of loss is nothing compared to the pain of never having your heart's desire at all. I suppose it depends on your perspective. It was the pain of loss that brought me my heart's desire, an irony I have never ceased to appreciate. ~~

"You left him there?" Astonishment warred with anger on Obi-Wan's face, as he struggled to comprehend what he was being told.

"We had no resources to assist him. There was nothing to be done!" The Prefect waved his hands helplessly in the air, attempting to illustrate his words. "He is a Jedi. He must save himself. As we must!"

Obi-Wan was a blur of motion as he took hold of the Prefect's shoulders, shaking him roughly. "Where is he?" he demanded, abandoning any hope of controlling his temper.

"In the valley below!" The Prefect began to make a high-pitched noise of fear as he realized Obi-Wan's intentions. "You must not leave us! We need you!"

"You will have to make do without me. One Jedi cannot save you now." Disgusted, Obi-Wan let the little man go and began to walk in the direction of the battlefield.

"You break your bargain! We will not join a Republic with no honor!" the Prefect screamed.

"There will be no treaty," Obi-Wan shouted, turning enough to be sure he was heard. "We will make no pact with a race which abandons its allies to die."

The last word sank into his stomach like a sharp blade, causing him to catch his breath with fear. What if Qui-Gon were truly dead? He reached out for his master, but there was nothing there to guide him. His jaw set into a grim line.

He should not have acted without Qui-Gon's authority. He was barely twenty-one, and not yet a Knight. But he would not leave Qui-Gon to die. It was unacceptable. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he heard the mantra chanted - "There is no death, there is the Force" - but his heart rejected the notion of living without Qui-Gon Jinn, as long as it was within his power to prevent it.

Obi-Wan's fatigue made every step seem torturous. He had been moving forever, fighting and negotiating with only an hour's sleep in each 36 hour day, and he felt close to some invisible edge. Much closer and he would be lost, and Qui-Gon with him. He forced himself to move faster.

Over the last hill, and the battle-scarred plain came into view before him, littered with dead and wounded. Obi-Wan's stomach turned over; if Qui-Gon was among the casualties, he would find him, no matter how long it took. Stinging wind whipped his robes, brought tears to his eyes. He moved slowly down the barren hillside, reaching out with the Force, searching for any hint of his master's life energy.

There was nothing there.

With great care, he passed among the fallen, looking into their scarred and bloody faces, seeking something he did not want to find. For many hours, despair grew within him, and silent tears tracked their way down his cheeks, as he navigated the brutality of war in silence. Darkness fell, and still he searched, until finally, his legs gave out beneath him and he tumbled to the ground, useless.

The dark hid his shivering body, the trembling of his hands as he sat and stared into the night, waiting for the light to return.


The young Jedi closed his eyes against the ghosts of imagination. Strange how wanting something so terribly could make it so real.

"Obi-Wan." Hands closed on his shoulders, and a figure knelt before him. "Are you injured?"

He tried to rise quickly but his body refused to obey, and he tumbled forward into Qui-Gon's embrace.

"You are alive," he said, not daring to believe it. He pushed the older man away, looking up into his face, hands roaming his master's body, seeking damage.

"I escorted prisoners to the Gerat outpost near here...Obi-Wan, answer me, are you hurt?" Qui-Gon's voice contained such a note of urgency that Obi-Wan felt he might explode.

"No, Master, I..." Obi-Wan struggled for the words, and his throat closed.

Comprehension dawned on Qui-Gon's face. "You were seeking me among the dead," he said quietly.

Obi-Wan nodded, and raised his face to his master, who touched him gently, trailing his fingers down the grimy curve of his jaw, and across his lips. With his thumb, he parted those lips to make way for his own as he covered Obi-Wan's mouth in a soft kiss, tender and seeking, claiming what had always been his for the taking.

~~ We were forced to acknowledge mutual desire for one another. I had become a man and I could not act as a child does, with blissful ignorance. Nor could my master pretend he had not opened his heart to me at last. Love shone between us, though we did not name the emotion, or try to control it. It enhanced every action, every communication, every touch and glance.

I would gladly have offered up my life for his. Instead, he took something just as precious, and gave me even more in return. ~~

Obi-Wan stood naked before his love, standing still as Qui-Gon's eyes touched him, making him shiver with need. He had long ago committed the scars and strength of Qui-Gon's body to memory, but it was as if he saw with new eyes, finding things he had never dared notice before. The slight curve of his master's erect shaft as it grew, the flat hard muscles of the belly, the perfect proportions of his large frame, the sensual set of his hips.

Qui-Gon was the first to move, the first to lay his hands against skin, tracing the slender curve of Obi-Wan's shoulders. Obi-Wan's head fell forward against his lover's chest as those hands slipped down his back, then up to the nape of his neck, cupping it gently.

"Are you sure this is what you want, Obi-Wan?" The voice seemed deeper than Obi-Wan could ever remember, almost raw with emotion.

"It is," he breathed, lifting his head and turning his cheek to find a nipple within reach. His tongue flickered out, circling the brown nub, and he thought he had never tasted anything so unique as the salt-bitter taste of his master's skin. His lips closed around hardened flesh, suckling gently, as his arms circled Qui-Gon's waist lightly. A small gasp of pleasure encouraged him, and he moved his attentions to the other nipple, his body burning from the firm pressure of the hands touching him everywhere.

He began to move down, kissing Qui-Gon's stomach feverishly, nuzzling up against the length of that hard shaft. Suddenly, he was lifted and deposited on the bed, legs splayed to the side as Qui-Gon descended over him.

"Not this time," Qui-Gon said hoarsely, eyes gleaming in the dim light. He began to worship Obi-Wan with his mouth, and Obi-Wan drew in a deep, shaky breath threaded with a low moan of ecstasy as sensation swept through and over him. His body became limp as his hips rose from the bed, thrusting up into sweet, firm strokes of a determined tongue. Too much irresistible pressure, and he could no longer withstand the rushing tide of orgasm as it cascaded over him. He heard his master's name fall from his lips in a whisper, and then he was engulfed in silent bliss.

Distantly, he was aware of Qui-Gon settling beside him. He reached for the other man's erection and found it softening and sticky under his fingers. "Watching you was enough," his master breathed against his ear, and Obi-Wan moaned again, parting his lips to receive a deep, sensual kiss. It would never be so perfect again, he was sure of it. Nothing so beautiful could remain so pure.

IV. Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn

~~ Once begun, my love affair with Obi-Wan continued on a fixed course. There was no prohibition against such a thing, provided the padawan was of age, but I had never considered that he might want me as I wanted him. The intensity of his feelings has scorched my heart, made me willing to forget many things in service to my desire.

In truth, I was afraid to allow myself to feel too much, to lose control, to become too much a part of his passion and less a part of the Force. Eventually, I understood my need for him was directed by the Force, and I was conquered by that knowledge. Willingly, I gave way to what I wanted most, relieved to be able to speak my feelings openly. ~~

"You've been poring over those star charts for hours," Qui-Gon said, stealing a glance at Obi-Wan. "Your neck will freeze into that position."

Slowly, Obi-Wan straightened and favored his master with a grin. "That might be useful for other things," he said, chuckling.

Qui-Gon returned the smile and went back to the task at hand, cleaning each of the tiny components of his lightsaber. "Are you worried about the exam?" he asked, polishing the green power crystal.

"Not worried, no. I want to do well; this is the last of the primary examinations before I reach the level where I may take my Trials. But of course, you know that." Obi-Wan chuckled again and set the datapad to the side. "I've never asked you directly before, but would it be presumptuous to ask now? When do you think I may take my Trials?"

"When you are ready," Qui-Gon said simply, setting the crystal aside. "I'll know when that day arrives."

"You've been saying the same thing for eleven years now, Master. I must have come a bit closer to 'ready' at some point," Obi-Wan teased.

"It's not an objective measure, Padawan. The Force will guide me to understanding when it's time. Are you in such a hurry to be away from me?" He spoke lightly, but the question was imbued with meaning.

"You know I'm not. I've thought about what might happen after I am Knighted," Obi-Wan answered slowly. "Separate missions, separate quarters." His voice trailed off, and he folded his hands in his lap.

"I've thought about it a great deal as well," Qui-Gon said. He stood, covering the components with a soft cloth, and went to Obi-Wan, taking the chair opposite him at the table. "Once you are knighted, you are free to make any decisions you wish, without consulting me. Unless, of course, there is something to be said for consulting me."

Obi-Wan smiled, and Qui-Gon's heart turned over. "You are much more to me than master," he said, taking one large hand in his own, twining their fingers together.

Qui-Gon paused. Softly, he said, "You are much more to me as well, Obi-Wan. So much more that I don't wish to be parted from you. There are ways of creating a life bond, if you are willing."

Deep satisfaction settled across Obi-Wan's face. "I am willing, my love."

"Then it is settled," the older man said, stroking his hand across his lover's fingers. For a long time they sat together, simply looking at one another, content.

~~ In the stillness of the night, I have listened to his heartbeat, the regular pulse of his life, and known that his spirit and mine are connected. I listen to his voice and I feel the warmth of youth and vibrant life as he speaks, saying words meant for my ears alone.

The shadows of twilight grow steadily deeper across the room, and I hold my breath for fear I will wake him. He is spread across our bed, one arm pillowed beneath his cheek, lips parted and moving gently as he dreams of worlds as yet undiscovered. The sheet falls like the soft sweep of a feather across his back, baring the curve of one hip, a pale landscape of skin, surreal and beautiful. It's difficult to resist the urge to touch him, to confirm his reality, but I stay my hand and caress him with my eyes.

All is as it was meant to be. ~~

V. Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi

~~ He has been gone many years now. Sometimes in the deepest part of the night, I wake to find myself trembling with need, aching with a loss so great I still have not come to terms with it.

I know he would not want me to grieve, so I celebrate what he was, and what he meant to me. It is a comfort to me to imagine that even in death, the Force sustains him, and he is aware that I love him still. Without him, life has become a path of sameness, and the emptiness does not diminish with time.

Fragments of the past filter through my memory, and I catch them, holding them close and piecing them together to make my picture of him complete. The whole of our life together was broken into such small moments, individual and unique, each carrying the signature of distinct emotions. I cling to each shard, gripping tight to the broken edges until I bleed. It is all I have left of him.

In my mind's eye, he reaches out to me, and I embrace him. There will be a time when I will make that image real. Pieces of the past tumble away, making room for the future to be set into motion. In that future, dreams will die away, and I will know what it is to be with him again.

Time stands still in my heart. I find him waiting, in the place he made whole with his love. The bonds of one world break away, making room for the next. I am perfected by his presence as he draws nearer. He touches me, and I am made complete. ~~



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