Characters-Rating: Q/O - NC-17
Category: Drama, Hurt/Comfort, First Time, Angst, Romance
Summary: Dealing with the consequences of a difficult mission
Warnings: Rape is talked about.
Feedback: Yes please! It keeps the plot bunnies fed and healthy.
Notes: This story was inspired by the intersection of the Merrie Month of Masturbation challenge on M_A and Emu's request for a Virgin!Obi-Wan story told from Qui-Gon's point of view. Some warped part of my psyche decided to run with it. Neither wholly masturbation, nor entirely Qui-Gon's point of view, but I think it fulfills the spirit of the two requests.
Thanks and acknowledgement are also due to M. Fae Glasgow (Knight M'Faei) for the Scottish Trifle 'Of Day's End and Dinner' in Nanshoku, which planted seeds that grew in my mind into the mission that is referred to in this tale, to Lee Writestuff for showing the way in her 'Warrior's Heart' series and to SarahQ (Master Esahrra Qew) for her beautiful and thought-provoking 'Essay on Passion.'
Many thanks also to Ruth, Layna, Emu, Gloriana, Waldo and Mark for helpful commentary and editing.
Originally published in 'Rituals and Meditations'
[This is telepathy,] and /these are thoughts./
Disclaimer: George Lucas is god and owns everything... except this weird permutation which is just for fun and I doubt he'd want it. The poem, however, is mine.
Need and Discovery
Gail Riordan 2001
Face to Face
O is my heart betrayed thus to my eyes
Now seeing clearly what some feeling knew -
A secret, silent kept until surprise
Did startle knowledge forth for mind to view:
A face & form that have too well known pain
But too, transcendent joy and lover's gaze;
Stern principled and sensitive, and vain
In valor's due, but never slow to praise;
A passionate intelligence & skill
Honed sharp and sure, hard tested by travail;
Charisma and compassion matched with will
That shirks not duty, nor in care would fail
This was and is a spirit I would serve
With all I am & have, nor from him swerve.
We are men, not droids. Flesh, not metal. Flesh learns, has needs, desires, inclinations; can be taught to control, act on and meet those needs. As Jedi, we are taught to learn. Taught to know our bodies, to work and act with them, not against them. Taught to recognize, respect and meet the needs, desires and functions of the flesh, the heart, the mind and spirit, as they develop from infancy to adulthood and beyond. Never to the point of indulgence of course, or to the detriment of or distraction from our calling and duty as Jedi. But to ignore those needs would equally be detrimental and distracting.
Sex/sexuality is a natural, powerful and deeply rooted function of the body, affecting the heart, mind and spirit as much as the flesh.
The Piiresti held my Master for almost three months. The Kiir of the Shekhet kept and used him as a sexual gratification object nearly the whole time.
I wasn't there, for which he is grateful. I don't know if I am grateful or not. I have read the report, though.
The Kiir didn't damage him, physically, was not cruel or thoughtless or neglectful of any of his chattels. They are a people that pride themselves on what they call 'good stewardship.' If anything the man was over-attentive. (I could almost wish he had been neglectful!) The report says that my Master was 'required to attend upon' the Kiir 'several times a cycle'. I can read between those lines, and given the little that Qui-Gon has said, I suppose it is fortunate that our training involves a good deal of physiological control.
We are taught to learn - our bodies are particularly taught - through practice, repetition, touch, awareness. We are taught to know and care for our bodies as we are taught to know the Force, as vessels of the Force. My Master is the most strongly connected person to the Living Force I know. One of the most controlled.
But ... I also think that had he not been brought up a Jedi he would have been an unabashed hedonist.
The fact that ultimately he gained the Kiir's respect even from the position he was put in and forced to work from, talked his way out of captivity, and managed to get the cease-fire agreement without further bloodshed, only adds to his reputation. It could not make me love or care for him more than I already do -- merely adds layers to it.
Now the Piiresti are calling his captivity a 'communications error,' a 'misidentification,' a 'regrettable confusion,' and have proffered apologies all round. Big of them.
I am unspeakably glad to have him back & relatively unharmed. But now I do not know what to do, how to help. He is suffering.
The body learns, becomes accustomed to exercise and stimulation. It never occurred to me before that this could be a problem.
To the degree that adrenaline and endorphins assist fitness and fighting abilities, the fact that they are addictive is an acceptable, even unavoidable, dependency. I have known since before I reached physical maturity that appetite for sensation was a thing I would have to guard against, keep in check, without in any way desensitizing or blunting my instincts, senses and awareness. I could not let the physical get out of balance with the meta- and non-physical aspects of my self and life. Moderation, discipline and control were my watchwords for the body.
Xanatos accused me of being overly spartan, of unnecessarily circumscribing my, and his, existence. But in truth (as I eventually realized) I was not strict or spartan enough with him. He was too like me in inclination and not enough in discipline. With Obi-Wan I think I have found a better approach/balance - and he helps me more than he knows in keeping my own balance.
But this, now. It is as I feared - assumed - defended myself against.
My body's (and, I must admit, the rest of me as well) capacity for and responsiveness to - indeed willing indulgence in - sensation, once unleashed from the control I kept it under, allowed me to not merely endure and survive what Kiir Twari required of me, subjected me to. (He was - is - very highly sexed, and took as much if not more delight in giving stimulation - pleasure, as he saw it - as receiving it. Vigorously. Four to seven times a day. Beginning at four, and as my body learned acceptance, working up to as many as seven.) But also to eventually earn his respect and political attention sufficient to retrieve the mission and get the cease-fire. This I cannot regret.
Now, though, it is as if my body has changed shape or substance and the controls and disciplines that once worked no longer fit, no longer function as I need them to. While the chemical residues were still being worked out of my system this was no surprise.
I felt it far more important to keep my mind clear - deactivating, breaking down, and dissipating the psychoactives and slow poisons - than to waste energy on the sensitizers and aphrodisiacs which were, in any case, natural elements of nearly every foodstuff I was given. Weakening myself would not have been a good idea. The healers assure me that I am now clear of all the chemical and biochemical agents, if not all the psychological artifacts.
I will not let my body rule me. I cannot. The healers have done what they can, have purged the drugs, patched the 'decorative' holes, declared me free of any bodily injury. They offered me counseling. Master Eren is a dedicated healer and has helped me in the past, but there was nothing he could tell me about this that I did not already know. What is left is mine to deal with. Alone. But I begin to fear that I have not the resources, that I cannot/will not be able to cope sufficiently by myself. Self-stimulation is not enough. I am not sleeping. I find myself distracted, jumpy, irritable and at a loss.
Then there is my apprentice.
Obi-Wan wants very much to help, to do something, without the least idea of what it is I need. Obi-Wan. My Padawan, my responsibility and charge, my delight and despair and relentless temptation. My caring, prickly, passionate and Code-abiding virginal Obi-Wan, twenty next half-year. When I left on this mission I could still, just, see the boy in him. Now I cannot help but see the man. Over the years I have fostered the growing adult, dealt sensibly, sympathetically, dispassionately with adolescent upsets, youthful crushes. Never allowed my mind or my feelings to see him as other than much loved student and friend. No longer are my feelings so comfortably contained. I had been celibate by choice and without hardship since Xanatos reached adolescence. I was not a week on that ship before I knew the touch my body yearned for was Obi-Wan's: his hands, his mouth, his mind and cock and come. The drugs and the relentless attentions had weakened too many of my defenses.
He was waiting for me on the landing platform when I finally made it back to the Temple. His embrace, his joy at my return and unquestioning/uncomplicated care for me were almost my undoing. Even weak from withdrawal, weary, stressed and ill, my body - I - wanted him: fiercely, frighteningly, inappropriately. I was grateful to have enough mental strength to keep that desire from the training bond we share. Grateful for the exhaustion that denied/prevented a physical display. He is my student. I love him too well to put him to such a question, in such a position. He must, must be allowed to make his own choice freely in such things, quite separate from any shadow or intimidation of my authority. I am not free to ask that love, that much of him.
But he is free. A Senior Padawan, adult and of age throughout the Republic. He is free to ask, to come to me, should he so desire.
/I will not picture you, my Obi-Wan, my oil and honey and pepper-powder apprentice, as I work to ease and satisfy my body's need. I want you in the flesh, not in fantasy. It is too much like coercion/ non-consent/using, not loving. I did not do it then and I will not do it now. I want you freely or not at all. But your name is there, silent on my lips all the same./
I saw him. I saw him and I watched. His door had slid open in that way it does sometimes and I went to close it for him and saw him and froze, transfixed, watching.
Gods of all stars but he is beautiful. My Master: more than twice my age, scarred and strong and ill-used and so beautiful, all that pale length stretched out on the bed, limned in the nightside lights of Coruscant. He was pleasuring himself - masturbating - he didn't see me, and I could not look away.
Even now, alone in the shower, my mouth was still dry and my flesh still heavy although I had brought myself to completion once already. I turned my face into the spray, letting the water slide over me, hot and smooth, and remembered it all again, lovingly, paying attention to the details (there's a novel use for Jedi awareness training!), fixing it firmly in my mind.
Qui-Gon, my Master, was half-lying on his side with his back mostly to the door, the covers turned down and his shoulders propped with pillows and all the fine strength of him exposed in the dim light. One hand was gently fingering his cock, rising to his nipples, combing through the dark hair that curled at the base of his shaft. The other, glistening, moved on his ass cheeks, sliding slowly deeper and deeper between them. With a hot jolt straight to my groin I realized he was stroking his anus, rocking a long, blunt finger in and out. Then he shifted, curled his leg, pushed in with two fingers as his breath quickened. My own breath was getting heavy, but I kept it silent as he stroked himself, front and back.
There was a towel with things laid out neatly on it on the bedside table. Without my quite following the motions, he had taken up a rounded, thickish shaft and was slowly sliding it in where his fingers had been, a stretching thickness, piercing deeply. His other hand was still moving slowly and steadily between his legs, on his cock. His breath was harsh and he made tiny, need-filled noises as he tossed his head against the pillows, eyes clenched tightly shut. He thrust deeper and faster with the thing until he held briefly, shudderingly still, then slowly, slowly withdrew it. I held my breath. It gleamed wetly, a sheen of light oil, like the sheen of sweat that made highlights of the planes and angles of his body. I could see the fine tremors running through him.
He had taken something else from the array of things, this one shorter and thicker with a blunt, round shape on top and a slightly narrower sort of stem at the base that flared out to a ring. It gleamed also, and I realized that everything, including his fingers, was oiled, that he had prepared everything beforehand. My heart beat heavily in my chest as I watched him, his hands steady, thighs trembling, press the thing into himself, until he gave a faint gasp and it stayed, held fast at the narrower part. I could just see a glimpse of the stretched pinkness of muscle around the thing, the curve of buttock. My own anus was pulsing in a way I had never before felt, wide awake and interested, my groin hot and tight.
With the thing filling him, he rolled onto his back, legs splayed wide, eyes shut, mouth open, both hands working on his big cock, weeping & dark with arousal, cupping and squeezing his balls as his hips bucked and his breath caught and sobbed. He was coming, liquid pulses ribboning out on his belly, held breath, a look that was almost pain on his face - pain and need and a strange mix of shame and acceptance that eased into release and wearyness, something that was perhaps contentment. His hand crept up, smoothed lazy circles on hip and belly and chest, rubbing in the semen, his hips still rocking gently, letting the aftershocks roll through him. He looked wanton, not at all the dispassionate Master I was used to when the subject of sex came up. I didn't know whether I was more shocked or aroused to see him so.
After a few moments he stilled and seemed to draw into himself, then reached to flip the edge of the towel over the things on the nightstand and draw up the covers. His eyes had opened briefly, blindly, as he curled around the pillows, but I am sure he did not see me, did not know I was there, watching, because they fell closed again. He rubbed his cheek across the pillow, once, twice, hair in silver-touched disarray.
I am sure it was only my imagination, my wish, that I thought I heard or maybe felt my own name just before my Master's breathing deepened into the slow cadence of sleep.
Nothing had prepared me. This sight, image, the mere idea had never occurred to me before and it heated me like fire: Qui-Gon Jinn, my serene, reserved Master, pleasuring himself, masturbating before sleep, falling asleep with a ... thing? phallus? - I didn't know what to call it - up inside him and my name on his lips. I could not breathe, could barely move. Somehow I got the door fastened shut in silence and escaped, head whirling, to my own room. I stripped frantically, trying to stay quiet. I was painfully - deliciously - hard, but his sleep (always light) had been so fitful and broken since he had gotten back, and I really didn't want to do anything to disturb what rest he could get. The sound of the shower would not be a problem, we showered at all hours and the room was well insulated. It would cover any noise I made and in a moment I was going to need one anyway.
Hardly time to get under the spray and I was coming in my hands, biting my lips against a threatened shriek. Oh Force. Oh gods and stars above.
I had the memory fixed now, details of sight and sound, of scent and Force and my own kinesthetic responses. I could get a little past the haze of arousal and revelation (my Master, doing that, wanting that....) and think about the what and how and why and what-now of my own strong, even extravagant, response, physical and otherwise. (Coming myself so hard and so fast from only watching, listening, wondering....)
I had been relieving my own tension - 'doing the one-handed kata' - regularly and sensibly for many years. I had dealt with the physiological and hormonal changes of my growing body with little fuss and Qui-Gon's supportive, unobtrusive and unintrusive help.
The male form I found rather more interesting than the female (though that had its attractions too) and I'd certainly had urgent moments before, but I had never thought of Qui-Gon that way - hardly thought of myself that way. I'd long since decided that sex, and sexuality, and the (visibly apparent! carried out in the halls!) embarrassments and time-consuming complexities of intimate relationships were not for me, not now, now yet, maybe someday, in the future. I had other things to do, things I needed to do, like learning to be a Jedi, taking care of my Master, going on missions & watching his back, getting the Sith-damned Seventh Slow Kata down so that my Master and I could do it together properly, the way it was supposed to be done. And my body had (mostly) gone along with the program. I had pleasured myself before, but I had never felt what I had just felt, was still feeling. I'd never even fantasized much when I touched myself, happy in the simple physical sensation. Now tonight's remembered images, thoughts, ideas, were fizzing hot in my groin, trickling along my nerves, stiffening my shaft again.
In the shower, under the endless, inexhaustible warm stream, my hand began to mimic the slow, almost negligent touch I had witnessed, just sliding the foreskin over the head and back, no pressure, little friction, just smooth, delicate sensation. The drops of water were a startling ecstasy on my exposed flesh, each one distinct, then wet and clasping warmth, sliding, over and back, more delicacy, more pattering ecstasy, gathering in the base of my spine, the palms of my hands. His hands had done this. A pure sensation warmed me in the here and now. I imagined it to be my Master's - Qui-Gon's - big, gentle hand touching me so, as he had touched himself. A shiver thrilled through me; my cock twitched in my hand, (it certainly liked the idea.) I imagined my hands on him, learning him, his shape and weight and heat, and I twitched again, harder, nearly rigid once more. (Oh, well & truly interested. My body liked where this line of thought was going....)
I put soap in my other hand, slicking it over the invisible dusting of hair on my chest, around my belly, not disturbing the slow, wet movement going on lower. I let my hand curl back, paused to grip and knead the handful that was my cheek. Not thinking, just feeling, experiencing the sensations I was giving myself. Sliding my fingers between my cheeks, reaching to touch, to explore the muscle there, a place in myself I had hardly ever given thought to, and never erotic thought. It was soft, warm, a pleated pucker that responded eagerly to the tentative touches I was giving it. I clenched my inner muscles and it moved against my fingers, inviting entry. Qui-Gon had done that. Had pressed his fingers into himself, a glaze of pleasure on his face, enjoying it. What could it possibly feel like?
I wiggled a soapy fingertip gingerly against the center of the pucker, glad I had attended to my nails that morning. A tight warmth, a short, snug channel (... just the length of the narrower part of that ... thing ...) the muscle spasmed against my finger, a pleasurable jolt, and I pushed further, deeper in, vague memories of some class or other telling me the rectum lay just beyond, a crumpled, larger space than the anal sphincter. There it was, folds and valleys yielding and smooth to my touch. The second knuckle was an interesting stretch. But now I wanted more soap, more slipperiness, and what about two fingers? Two would go deeper, it had looked like Qui-Gon had used at least two, would stretch more.... Relax. Breathe. Use that carefully taught individual muscular control - a new muscle to learn. Oh that felt good.... What an interesting sensation, tingly and hot and somehow open, exciting & scary both. My heart was speeding and my cock was weeping in the loose grip of my other hand.
It was only myself making me feel this way - exalted, exhilarated - what if it were Qui-Gon's fingers opening me, slow and sure and gentle. What if it were his cock pressing into me, filling me? (/Oh, trusting me with that part of him! Trusting me with his need and desire!/) I couldn't breathe, my heart was a trip-hammer. To have that, to know that, to give that.... And I was coming again, long pulses hard against my palm, the muscles surging and clenching against my fingers. Again I wanted to scream, to cry out my Master's name over and over, to shout with this overwhelming sensation, but I only cried out in tiny wails, whimpers (just as he had -- /Oh Master, is this what you were feeling? Oh Master,/) so as not to risk waking him, he needed sleep so badly....
My legs had gone boneless and I sank down to the tile, letting the corner hold me up as I knelt, water cascading over me, washing away the white streamers of my semen. I wanted what he had been feeling to be like what I was feeling. I wanted him to have gotten pleasure while I watched him, felt the wonder I was feeling. I wanted to see him come again, without any of the sense of loneliness, of suffering, of pain or shame or need the Force had hinted at. I wanted to see joy on his face, pleasure and release and love.
I wanted his hands to do what I had imagined them to do to me. I wanted to know if it was enjoyment that had him thrusting that long thing hard and deep into himself (I so wanted it to be enjoyment, not a Kiir-made Kiir-twisted need). I wanted to know if he would want to take me into that place. (Oh, I wanted that! Just the idea, me in him or him in me!) I wanted the how and why and what of the slow push in of the stemmed thing, his wanton movement against the sheets. I wanted pleasure for him. I wanted him.
I was still - again? - feeling that heat & shimmer & pulse in my groin, my anus.
Perhaps it was time to reconsider the celibacy idea. Review those parts of the Human and Humanoid Sexuality class I hadn't paid much attention to at thirteen & see if there were considerations I didn't yet realize, things I didn't know. This would be a significant decision, pursuing sexual activity. (I wanted to touch him, have him touch me....) I needed knowledge, thought, discussion, meditation. And whatever I decided I needed to speak with my Master about it.
I realized with a little surprise that while I was somewhat afraid of the possibility that he might say 'no,' that he didn't want me 'that way', I wasn't at all wary of actual rejection - I do know he loves me.
I stood up and started to wash properly and thoroughly, scrubbing my hair, getting my circulation going. Now I was tired, wanting my bed and the cool embrace of sheets.
I have loved my Master a long time. This physical fire is new, and I know I could probably apply it to someone else, (some other place, some other time, as other people do) but he is whom I want. In a strange way having added lust to my feelings only shows me how deep-rooted and complex my caring for Qui-Gon actually is. I know we will be able to talk about this, somehow. And the Force is telling me all will be well. (Not if I will get what I want, here. It doesn't work that way.) All will be well. I trust that feeling.
I awoke this morning with a lighter heart, having slept surprisingly well. I had decided that expecting my body to re-adapt immediately and completely to its mundane, pre-Kiir state was unreasonable, and had, after easing the day's accumulation of need, left the big plug in.
For nearly three months I had never been without it, or one like it, for any length of time except when bathing or while with the Kiir - and in that case its absence was only the preliminary to different sensation. More than merely growing accustomed, my body -- no, my body is not separate from my self, this is a habit of thought I must stop, now. I no longer need/require to make that separation, and to continue will only make acceptance, healing and moving forward harder - I enjoyed the sensation, the feeling of being filled and stretched, the clench and release of my inner muscles around it. I could allow myself a reasonable amount of indulgence in it here, in the Temple, at home.
Furthermore, for all that time, being so filled had meant not being fucked/about to be fucked and thus it provided a physical reassurance and comfort that I had to admit I also needed. A signal my body had learned to understand: that it was safe to sleep.
I stretched out on my sleeping couch, savoring the clean scent of the linen, the familiar weight of the coverlet. There was more to my lightness and relief this morning than having come to an acceptance of a need.
Obi-Wan's resonance in the Force was different, reaching for a new harmony with my own, trying out new notes within himself. There has been a shift in his physical presence, a brighter fire now shines in him.
There had been no indication of such a shift last night when I retired. I knew he had been having some trouble coming to terms with aspects of what had happened to me, and I had been careful to deal with my needs in private, so as to give him space, and minimize discomfort for both of us. I wasn't hiding - I never locked my door, or hardened my shielding beyond what was usual for day to day privacy and individuality - but I did not want him to have to know the lengths to which I went.
(There had been almost nothing that Kiir Twari did or had done to me that my body had not found enjoyment in. The piercings were an exception to that, and I was very glad to have them gone. Pain had not been his interest or desire, but sensation had, giving and receiving, and he possessed an extensive repertory of techniques and devices, toys, most of which he had tried on me/subjected me to. His skill in reading people was not inconsiderable either. When I had finally induced him to sign the cease-fire and let me go, he had looked at me with a smile in his orange eyes, unrepentant and proud: "I enjoyed you. Teaching you. Learning from you. I trust you will remember all our lessons, overt and ... otherwise. I know I shall." His glance had flicked to the signed scroll, conceding defeat, then back to me, dressed again in my robes, but somehow naked beneath all the Jedi layers, wearing what he had bade me wear (cleaned, oiled, plugged, more than half hard in the ring, the brush of silk and linen alien against my skin, my sensitized nipples) by choice, by need, by will and the honor/strength of my word, and took the victory back again. He knew what he had taught me of myself. "I have left you ... a gift. A remembrance." The smile was satisfied, but the look in his eyes had shifted to reveal a hint of true depth, a rare sincerity. "I hope it will please you, to use it." And he had bowed to me as to another of his own rank. When I got to the transport and looked over my luggage - as promised, everything had been returned in good order - I found a beautifully lacquered box, the sort exchanged between Piiresti high-status partners-in-joy, fitted out with a wide array of pleasure-toys obviously custom made and new. Works of art of their kind, and surprisingly free of the stamp of coercion and struggle that tainted so much of the place I was leaving. I was chagrined at how grateful I felt, ashamed/ chagrined to know how deeply he had seen into me, how much I would, indeed, need them. And I did use them, though I was not in a place where I was pleased, precisely, to so do.)
My nightly physical meditations. Thinking back I recalled that I had thought I had heard the soft snick of the door re-opening itself, but had been too tired, too deep into myself to get up to close it. Had Obi-Wan, then, and seen?
Yes. And seen ... nearly the whole, until release and sleep had taken me. Not what I would have chosen him to see, had I been choosing. I would have wanted something more of joy and less of need, of desperation.
I examined what I could feel of him through the bond with care. No distress. Some confusion, embarrassment, delight, self-consciousness, the first hints of resolve, shafts of arousal, pure physical joy that spiked to my own groin - Oh. He was stroking himself, had woken aroused, was attending to his pleasure and need with all the focus he had previously reserved for other things. I tightened my shields a bit and addressed myself to the demanding need hard between my own legs.
My Obi-Wan, dedicated, lively, virgin, deliberately chaste, long physically mature, was now coming into his sexuality.
Previously, sex had been a thing of only fairly limited intellectual interest to him. He had clearly decided to put other concerns - study, training, meditation, 'learning to be a Jedi' - before developing any kind of physically intimate relationships, much less engaging in casual sexual exploration. I had wondered a little at the time, even as I found myself pleased at his dedication and focus, but did not worry overmuch. He was too well trained in perception and observation to be oblivious to sexual interest directed at him, but he was uninterested, and always polite in deflecting or turning down advances. Simply a personal choice, not a stand on principle. Something he would think about and possibly act on some time in the future.
That some time appeared to have arrived. Now I understood the images shaping my dreams - the strength and suddenness of Obi-Wan's revelation had flowered in the Force, and I, attuned to him, had dreamed flashes of him: coming in the shower, touching himself, exploring.
So. The next few days should be interesting. The next few hours. I kept any personal hope under strict control. I may have inadvertently been the cause of his revelation (and looking closely at my feelings revealed little shame or guilt there - this was a natural and long due step in Obi-Wan's development, and if it had not been me it would have been someone or something else) but how much, or even whether he turned to me was - had to be - his free and unfettered will. I would not influence him. Not even by wishing. My wishes had power.
But I could not help but worry and wonder if my very need was not influencing him. My need is for stimulation. My desire is for him. The desire I can, and do, control. The need, it seems, I can merely restrain. If it is my need affecting him, where and what is my responsibility in this? A thorny subject for the day's meditations.
Best to be getting up, then.
Obi-Wan greeted me with a startled glance and a smile. I nodded to him, noting that indeed the Force flowed in greater harmony with his movements, reflected his finer awareness of his physical self in physical space. His eyes were bright and busy with thought, a clear blue-grey that marked his presence in the moment, the engagement of his formidable powers of observation and analysis.
I firmed my shields a touch, and did not allow myself to contemplate what colour his eyes might become under ... other circumstances. His half-conscious sensual and sexual presence was far more powerful than the unconscious had been. Once he had gained full awareness, new lessons and exercises in control would be in order. His interest and arousal were palpable in the Force, my body responding to his with dismaying eagerness. I strengthened my shields still more and deliberately subdued my reactions, grateful for the drape and thickness of my night robe.
How was my apprentice going to approach integrating this new awareness, these new ideas? His body was well on its way to a very nearly gleeful acceptance - the Force-patterns not unlike those of a plant that had been given a bigger growing space after being in a pot that had become just a little small. A very timely development. But mind and heart and spirit are more complex. It occurred to me to hope that I had not been delaying him with my restraint. Not a useful line of thought. Awareness in this moment was sufficient.
I settled myself at the table and watched as he set out our usual morning meal. Obi-Wan has always taken pleasure in the minor housekeeping duties traditional to the Padawan, the more so since I have never demanded them of him, (or of any of my apprentices). This morning he was particularly attentive and precise. I did not hinder him.
He jumped very slightly every time our eyes met, and would smile or frown or worry at his lower lip. His glance kept wanting to drop, not to the floor, which would have worried me, but to a mid-point - the edge of the table, the seat of my chair, a middle distance - as if drawn by some irresistible force. He was not usually so self-conscious, and I was briefly puzzled as to why.
When he finally sat with an entirely new and almost imperceptible kind of shivering wiggle and the loud sense of 'I won't ask', I was suddenly aware of my own body, of the plug filling me. Realized that he would have seen me putting it in, that fascinated curiosity warred in him with embarrassment and respect for my privacy. He wanted to know 'what' and 'why' and 'was it still there' but could not quite formulate the questions, had not yet found the words. Was not necessarily certain he really wanted or was ready for those answers.
I wondered what form his questions would take when he did find words. We ate in a pregnant sort of silence.
"Master," he said abruptly, putting down his teacup, "do you think there is value in either abstinence or activity as far as sex goes? For a Jedi?"
Ah. Starting at the Outer Rim and working inward. A carefully remote question, obviously thought out while he was polishing his plate. His mind and heart were still studying the concepts while the body was eager for details.
"Value?" I watched his face as I answered, noting the way he steadied down in anticipation of data and ideas to process. "Neither course is to be valued over the other, either in an absolute sense or without consideration of other factors. Sex is both a physical function, individual and addressable to an extent with either sublimation or masturbation, and a matter involving relationships, ranging from the ephemeral to the long-term, and the continuum of emotions. There can be value in either course, depending on the person or persons involved, the situation - context - they are in, other considerations. As Jedi, we are taught to be aware of our drives and needs to a very precise degree. We are also taught to be aware of the situations we are in and the implications of our actions. Thus, for Jedi, the choice between activity and abstinence may be made with a greater awareness of the whole, and with the guidance of the Force, but that choice is still to a very great extent situational, not absolute." He was following me. Just. Good. "Did you have a specific situation in mind?"
"Not a situation so much. But, well, Padawans are encouraged to wait, or do some exploring with each other and then wait, and a lot of the people out there in the Republic seem to think we all either take vows of celibacy or go at it like chiriks in heat, and Master noMuurR goes on and on about the 'focusing value of chastity' and, well...." He trailed off, trying to work his way through his tangled thoughts and feelings. I waited for him, not prompting.
"I guess the situation would be if someone had pretty much decided on abstinence, and was comfortable with that, and then something happened, and that decision doesn't seem so reasonable any more, or doesn't work, or...." He trailed off again. I could not tell if he was asking purely hypothetically or was in some way addressing his situation, or mine, or somehow both. I decided not to attempt to second guess him, and again answered what he actually asked.
"Re-assessing one's choices at points of change is always valuable, Padawan. And changing one's mind in light of new or different circumstances does not devalue the choices made before." No, the trouble arises when the change is forced, imposed, and the choices limited to the distressing and the unacceptable. I had chosen to accept Twari's use of me, of my body, whatever the personal cost, because the cost to innocents if I did not was utterly unacceptable, unthinkable. I was past resenting the situation, and I did not regret the choice; I regretted being forced into it, and the means used to so force me. I regretted that my pain was now spilling over to my apprentice, requiring him to make choices he was not sure he was ready for. I was grateful that his options were of paths of growth, and not of sacrifice.
I had paused too long. Obi-Wan was looking at me with concern, a crease between his brows. I went on, and the line smoothed out. "It is important the choice be informed, if at all possible. Usually, with relationships, it is possible to take the time necessary to gather data and think things through."
He grinned at me, and I knew he was thinking of all the times I went with instinct and the Force of the Moment, all the way back to that pivotal moment in the mines of Bandomeer. I acknowledged his grin with a raised eyebrow. "Or to trust one's feelings and the Will of the Force." Mock repressively. "Not lightly, in any case." I knew Obi-Wan occasionally despaired of what he called my impulsiveness, but however impulsive those actions seemed, they were never lightly made. On some level he knew that. I had faith that some day he would trust that in himself, and then he would be a Knight.
I got up and began to gather the dishes while he sat and watched me. "A determined period of celibacy can have a usefully focusing effect, as Master noMuurR says, and there are times when circumstances require abstinence or reliance solely on oneself, but celibacy as a way of life has its drawbacks."
"But what about the Code? 'There is no passion, there is serenity'?"
I was almost surprised that it had taken this long for him to bring the Code into the conversation. Obi-Wan likes neat structures, and the Code is very neat. I gave him a mild glare.
"Are you equating sexual activity or desire with passion, and abstinence with serenity?" The arrested look on his face told me he had been. "Don't you think Master noMuurR is passionate about chastity?" He hadn't thought of it in quite that light before. He nodded slowly. The parallel lack of serenity in my own situation was obvious to me, but would not be a useful point to make. "The Code does not proscribe strong feeling, or the fulfillment and exercise of the needs and desires of the body. We are told to listen to our feelings, and attend to the needs of the body. Give me another interpretation."
I washed the dishes while he thought. It didn't take him long.
"Is it more like passion equals obsession and serenity is balance, Master?"
My bright Padawan. "Yes, that is a good way to look at it. Given that interpretation, what are the implications of your earlier question about the value of sexual activity or abstinence for Jedi?" He started to answer but I forestalled him. "Think about it, find the answers for yourself."
He nodded again, filing the instruction away. There was already a greater harmony between his mind and body. He got up from the table and began drying and putting away the dishes. I was very conscious of his nearness, the warmth of him. He seemed to be equally conscious of me, aware of the space between us in a new and subtly charged way. Another sign, had I needed one, of his changing state.
"Is there anything specifically in the Code or the Law and Tradition about relations between Jedi?" He asked, rather suddenly. Unaccountably, he had flushed.
Quite a bit, actually, and it would be easier for both of us if he read it himself, rather than have me tell him about it. Not to mention that if he spent time in the Archives, he could look up information on all the details he was carefully not asking me. I know him too well for it to be otherwise.
"Yes, there is." (In fact, hadn't 'Humanoid Sexual Health and Hygiene' covered that? But it had not seemed relevant to him when he had taken the class, and so it hadn't been remembered.) "We have nothing on the schedule today. Why don't you take the time for study and meditation on these questions?"
"With your passion for research, you should be able to find all the applicable commentary in short order." I kept my face straight, my tone deliberately dry. "Perhaps I should ask for a summary paper."
He looked at me in startlement, "Are you teasing me?" Mock outrage.
Of course I was, gently. Obi-Wan should know that. He did know that. He was teasing me. I smiled at him, what felt like the first real smile in a long time. He smiled back, brilliantly, warming me through. All the simmering arousal that had dimmed during the serious part of the conversation was back, glimmering in his Force-signature. Oh, he was a force to be reckoned with, my Obi-Wan, even at this nascent awareness. My conditioned response had me hard again, my muscles clenching and pulsing around the thick stem of the plug. I was once again glad of the concealment of my robe.
"To the Archive, then. Shall I join you for mid-meal?"
"No, take the whole day. Late meal." I would need the hours as well.
He bowed to me as he left our quarters, not at all mocking, and I could tell he was relieved to be in search of data and temporarily out of my presence.
I will be patient. I will give us both time. For truly, it could not have been easy for him, waiting and wondering while I was gone. It pleases me that even while I can feel the desire that has sparked in him, he is seeking knowledge, centeredness, thinking and meditating before making a decision in this.
As it behooves me to meditate and think likewise. I am continually learning from him. For me to help him find balance and acceptance, I must find balance and acceptance of my own.
When I got up this morning I knew that what had happened last night was not a quirk, a dream, a passing, ephemeral thing. My morning erection was urgent and demanding, and every image, every thought and feeling and physical response felt printed on my skin, woven in with my bones. There had indeed been some deep change in me, an awakening, a fundamental shift.
The Archive is quiet, with nooks and corners designed for study and contemplation. I went there directly after first meal, my head buzzing and my whole body tingling with new feelings.
I got one or two startled glances as I made my way through the halls, until I took a deep breath and remembered to damp down & shield my Force-presence. I realized with some chagrin that not only had I not been shielding, but that I had been very nearly broadcasting, and if the passersby in the hall had picked up on it, my Master could hardly have missed it. But he hadn't said anything beyond answering the questions I asked, and one gently teasing remark to which I had responded in kind.
I kept seeing the vision of him touching himself, feeling again the pleasure I had brought myself in the shower and thinking of him this morning. Remembering the light of Qui-Gon's smile. I couldn't think of the last time I had seen him really smile, and wondered a little in retrospect about that teasing exchange - had he been laughing at me, at my circuitous, cautious approach? But no, that was unworthy of me, that was uncertainty and embarrassment speaking. It had been quite clear in the training link that he was pleased with me, even though I could feel very little else of him beyond his simple presence, nothing at all of his other feelings, or of his physical state.
One thing puzzled me: if his suffering - need - was about sex and love and physical desire, as the preponderance of evidence suggested, why hadn't he just come to me? I was well past my majority however one might count it, and the more I thought of it, the less I felt I had imagined the sense of my name coming from him last night. There had to be a reason, a compelling reason, and that he had sent me to the Archive gave me hope that I would find it here.
I settled myself in one of my favourite corners and started downloading things to the display terminal. The annotated and expanded text of the Code, the _Law of the Temple and Traditions of the Jedi Order_ (the Law & Tradition for short), Master Iyrrd's 'Commentary' on same, a couple of promising essays on passion & serenity (Master Esahrra Qew and Knight M'Faei for starters), the Piiresti mission report, complete with all the appendices, logs and related files, '_Human Sexual Health and Hygiene_' and after a moment of thought and a brief attack of acute self-consciousness I recalled the title of the book Bant and Garen and I had once laughed uncontrollably over, and asked for it, too: '_How to Please a Partner - Tips, Tricks and Toys for the Male Who Prefers Males, (Human)_' - it was one of a series covering most of the peoples of the Republic, arranged, logically enough, by species, gender and pairing preference.
The stemmed thing that had (and continued to have) such an effect on me was called a butt plug. Knowing its name did not lessen its fascination, but did allow me to put the idea aside for a bit. In fact, the whole volume looked to have a wealth of useful information, though I made myself wait to read the rest of it.
The Law & Tradition first. Stars, an entire volume on 'On Relations Between Jedi'. Surely I wasn't going to have to wade through all of that - no, here was the section I wanted: "Interpersonal, Intimate: Masters/ Padawans: No Master or Knight may approach a Padawan, regardless of age, in a manner sexual or inappropriately intimate, lest the Learner be or feel pressured in any way by the status, power or influence of the Master. Masters may not approach their own Padawans in particular, as the potential for damage to the Learner's trust, confidence and self-image is unacceptably high. Under no circumstances...." It went on at great length and detailed numerous painful examples. Oh, Master. And this would be an instance where his convictions and the Code coincided.
But it could not be the whole story - there were Master and Padawan couples. I scrolled further down the index. A ha.
"Interpersonal, Intimate: Padawans/Masters: ... once of age ... a Padawan may approach a Master, making their sexual interest clear. The Learner must take the initiative in the offer, and demonstrate their independence, maturity and general readiness for such a relationship. Special care must be taken if the Padawan wishes to initiate a relationship with their own Master. ..."
I skipped further down until my eye was caught by the intriguing header: "On First Night Offerings and Virginity." I read the whole section, and the commentary, and went back and read the Master's section on First Nights and thought for a long time. Maybe that was my answer, but there was a lot more information I needed. I keyed up 'Health & Hygiene'.
As I read, I realized that very little of this information was new or surprising. Most of what the textbook had to say, and the commentary, covered ground I had already known, but that had never really registered, hadn't been particularly relevant to who I was or what I was concentrating on doing. I'd never had any trouble on missions mapping relationships, intimate or otherwise, but I'd never applied any of that observation to myself, or to my Master.
Time for that to change, obviously. The switch had most definitely flipped.
I approached the Piiresti mission report almost gingerly, half afraid of what it would tell me now that I was so much more aware. I made myself read through it carefully, paying attention to the cultural addendum, the conclusions, what my Master had not said in the detailed log.
The Shekhet Piiresti are conducting a running conflict with the Tri'ee'at, and are freetraders as well. The cease-fire involves a specific volume of space (see Map 1) containing both non-combatants and protected planets, as well as Shekhet and Tri'ee'at outposts. The details of the agreement are as follows: ....
The terms of the cease-fire were agreed to after three months (Republic standard) of the agent's on-site presence, necessary in order to gain the requisite status and attention to convince the leader, Kiir Twari of the Shekhet rath, of the need and value of the agreement. This involved personal submission of the agent to the Kiir, under threat of failure of the mission and damage to the above-referenced populations. ....
The decision was made to approach the Shekhet rath, rather than the Tri'ee'at, as it had been confirmed that the Kiir - roughly 'seniormost' and equivalent in authority to a Republic fleet admiral - had had previous contact not only with the near neighbors of the Piiresti system, but also with the Republic, and was determined to be a likelier prospect in terms of awareness of and openness to ideas of a wider universe. This assumption ultimately proved correct.
Notes and Observations on Piiresti Culture, Biology and Physiology. (Humanoid, Class VIxa1, Sub-group A'lans, Type R27a)....
Significant sexual dimorphism. Previous Jedi - Republic - contact had been with the predominantly female planetary population. Moderate familiarity with that culture gives an incomplete picture of the mobile and space-going male (rath) culture.
A 'rath' is composed exclusively of males, and is organized on very strict lines of status, age and skill. The Shekhet rath is a grouping composed of the population of some two dozen large and self-sufficient ships, numerous support and small ships and one very large 'flagship' under the leadership of the Kiir and the collection of Tiirs. If the Shekhet are typical of rath structure, then these lines and relationships may be clearly seen and analyzed. See Appendix D for notes, observations and extrapolations, as well as detailed charts modeling the structure. ....
Their biology and physiology encourage quite separate lives for males and females; procreation is almost wholly divorced from companionship, and is done by arrangement. All children are raised by their mother(s), and at adolescence the males are sent to join their father(s).
Intimate relations are all m/m and f/f, the two sexes are only intimate across gender to procreate, usually in doubled pairs.
The Piiresti are aware that they live in a wider universe than themselves, and outsiders are known. Beings of obviously 'alien' physiognomy are treated largely with a polite indifference, without overt hostility, but also without interest or attention. Aliens fall entirely outside the caste system, and as such, interaction is unpredictable, and questions of such things as information exchange or trade are left up to the discretion of the highest caste person available.
There are some not well understood status/sexual dynamics between high-caste and low and/or non-caste individuals, ranging from elaborate 'inspection' and 'marking' activities to outright sexual taking, possessing or spurning. ....
While largely Human in appearance, the Piiresti have both similarities and significant differences from Republic Human standard physiology and biology. These differences are particularly marked in the areas of reproduction, digestion and genitalia. ....
The sex drive is generally quite strong, though the Kiir's is particularly so, and it is culturally expected that people have sex frequently. Custom varies widely as to scope and extent of intimacy in public. Many social gatherings are strongly sexually oriented, with suitable supplies and locations set up for the purpose. There is no stigma placed on public displays of affection or attraction, even when quite overt. Disruption of public functions or neglect of one's duty or responsibilities however is strongly frowned upon. ....
They have very sensitive & responsive anal passages. Both the rath and planetary cultures have codified behavior regarding anal hygiene and 'modesty'. To be without an anal plug is considered either rude and provocative or inviting. Specific plugs can be indicative of social status, relationship status, or other preferences. One of the formal greetings between males of differing status involves what amounts to butt-sniffing, where the lower caste person acknowledges the higher caste's right to inspect his plug. Males and females wear them, usually from the time they are out of diapers.
Plugs and anal toys are favored courting gifts. In witnessed 'Partnerships-in-Joy' - the functional equivalent of marriage - 'pleasure-boxes' are customarily exchanged between the pair. This consists of an elaborate set of toys and plugs, as well as probes, rings and other sensory and insertion devices intended for anal and genital stimulation and pleasure. Usually they are all new, presented in an artistic arrangement in a pretty container. This exchange symbolizes a variety of things: hope, cleanliness, untrammeled beginnings, a wish for mutual pleasure. ....
Normal dress for a male is a pair of trousers - literally, two separate legs that overlap in front, supporting and covering the genitals, and are fastened around the waist or hips, merely meeting or gapping in the back, allowing exposure of the separation of the buttocks.
Vests and split surcotes are common overgarments. Shoes are commonly not worn except by personal preference, unless part of a uniform or out of a safety, work or environmental requirement. Covering the whole body is usually done only at need, such as while working with volatile substances or where the atmosphere may become compromised. ....
Jewelry is popular: nipple rings, piercings, necklaces, hair decorations, finger rings, bracelets, anklets. Again, status indicators, but more in material and workmanship than type or quantity.
Cockrings are not jewelry, though they may look like it. Older & high status males wear them as a matter of course, (the biology again encourages this), and receiving one's first cockring is an important mark of maturity. To call someone 'unRinged' when they have been 'Ringed' is a very strong insult, usually requiring an overtly sexual reaction or answer. ....
Mammalian: bearing and nursing females have four breasts, non-lactating females and males have prominent and sensitive nipples. Multiple births are the norm and 'sibling-groups' typically consist of four children, essentially quadruplets, usually 3 males and 1 female. 'Fifth' siblings are rare, and are viewed with some suspicion and trepidation. A 'Fifth' is always male (unless the birth is 5 females, which has only happened once in record) as it is not birth order that determines number, but other considerations, and females count first.
The words 'litter' and 'littermate' are considered extremely rude and insulting, and are only applied in a derogatory manner, or in reference to those non-sentient animals which share the trait of multiple-birth reproduction.
Incest taboos apply only to ones sibling-group and one's parents (all four), but not to other sibling-groups even if of the same parents, and not usually to the parents' fellow-sibs. ....
Foodstuffs, brought in from Piirest, grown naturally on the larger ships of the fleet and hydroponically on the smaller, occasionally imported from other systems, are almost without exception highly chemically active, and many are mildly toxic to the Human system. Several of the compounds are addictive. The principal side-effects of ingestion are heightened physical sensitivity, particularly to touch and scent, increased sexual responsiveness and desire, a distancing of the Force-sense, and a gradually increasing difficulty in extracting needed nutrients from the available food. Long-term ingestion by Humans, even Jedi, is not recommended.
See the Healer's report for specifics. ....
The Healer's report was, as usual, dense and obscurely written but I made myself read it anyway. Chemicals and procedures, short and long-term consequences, projected physical recovery schedule. Though extensively detailed it still skirted the things I most wanted to know and at the same time gave me the feeling of prying into privacies. One sentence was particularly disturbing: "Given this individual's history (see medrecord-QGJinn) and known idiosyncrasies re: intervention/psychological integrity and personal relations, long-term psycho-physical prognosis as regards integration of mission consequences uncertain but hopeful." In other words 'he's come through bad things before and we just have to trust in his strong will and pig-headedness to pull him through this one.' They didn't actually know. The detailed addendum was screenfuls of med-speak and I gave up on it.
(Indeed, the report as a whole was oddly stilted & distant, not a typical example of my Master's reporting style. But then, he had still been in the healer's hands at the time.)
The information the Council had on the Piiresti was such that I had been ordered to stay at the Temple: one older agent was thought to have a reasonable chance of success, where my age - too old to class as a child, too young by their lights to make decisions or add to my Master's status - would make the job more difficult. Re-reading the report showed me quite clearly that in this instance, and little as I liked it, the Council had made the right decision. Not only was it likely that I would have been instantly subject to harassment both physical and sexual (which I would not have been and was not now prepared for), but my presence would have added significantly to my Master's dilemma, not eased it.
As I read and thought and put things together from my new perspective, I made several realizations, including that much of my Master's current suffering came out of his strength, not from something broken or fragile. If the Kiir had hurt him physically, used pain or straight threats and torture rather than sensory pleasure and psychological pressure, all of his defenses and controls would have worked for him, as I had seen happen in other situations. Patently they hadn't worked this time. I wondered if perhaps Qui-Gon felt in a way betrayed by his body, somewhat in the same way I was being surprised by mine. I couldn't know - had no idea of how to ask or even if it would be a useful question for either of us.
The Piiresti looked Human. And acted ... almost Human. As Qui-Gon had undoubtably looked Piiresti, and had deliberately worked to act in accordance with what was known of the culture.
He had presented himself to the Shekhet rath as 'like' them, rather than emphasizing his differentness - alienness. He obeyed the prompting of the Force in this, and was ultimately successful because of it. He had been accepted immediately, taken as he presented himself - and the lack of knowledge and understanding on our part of the differences in the rath culture from the planetary culture gave the Kiir the opportunity to willfully misunderstand that presentation.
In the end, the Force had been right: peace, balance and a greater understanding and cooperation had been achieved in that sector between all the people there, and all because of my Master's perseverance, strength, endurance and skill. He had achieved the needed status from within the structure, by way of the Kiir, and the cease-fire had been signed and upheld, had become a productive peace in the meantime.
But by what harsh means, and at what high cost. Not the highest, certainly, but high enough. My Master was still paying the price of that peace in lost focus, impaired and unpredictable reactions - I was even yet the only person who could walk up from behind him without making him flinch, though he startled much less strongly now than he had at first - broken sleep and difficulty meditating. Paying in a continuing need that manifested as a hunger for physical - sexual - stimulation, an ache that even his impressive shields had not completely kept from me, though I had not understood it or really registered it until now. The body learns, adapts, even to extreme circumstances.
Nothing in the report, though, gave me reason not to approach him, not to offer him my love, my help, my curiosity and my growing urge to explore the possibilities of my body and his.
I turned back to the textbooks and essays, looking for the facts, the terms, information to aid me, fuel and fodder for the deep meditation I knew I needed to thoroughly integrate and understand all the factors. Thinking I wanted wasn't enough. I had to know, and knowing, make my decisions and choose my actions within the Force.
My body sang with alert awareness, a new kind of arousal that was both sexual and not. That alone would help shape my meditation, but I could not let it dictate it or allow it to rule me. This whole thing was much too important and the Force too insistent for me to be other than patient, cautious and thorough. Grounded. Centered. Unified in myself in heart and mind and spirit and body. Mindful of all the lessons my Master had taught me.
When I had read through pretty much everything, which took a while, I stood and stretched, hyperaware again of each muscle and joint - a continuation of the state I had woken up in. I realized I had better visit the toilet and relieve myself, particularly before settling in for what might well be hours worth of meditation.
I finished my standing business, lost in thought, and sat to do the other, paying attention to previously ignored sensation. It was yet another surprise, now that I had noticed it, how satisfying and, well, pleasurable, this perfectly natural & needful act was; this private moment where I could appreciate how unexpectedly enjoyable the smooth functioning of my body could be. Almost a Living Force moment, a glimpse of the ever-present net of light that I knew my Master was always aware of on some level.
There was something here. Centered in the body, a center of the body.... Meditation called to me, perhaps even the Fourfold Centering, and it would be rude, not to mention quickly uncomfortable, to tie up the most convenient restroom in this area. I washed my hands and returned to the study corner I had taken over.
Start with the body, kneeling, knees apart. Aware of that deep center. Breathe into the belly, all the way down. Relax the deep muscles, feel the fire at the base of the spine, coiled in the groin. Start there, at the root of the pillar.
Centered in the Force, centered in the body. (/Would - could? - sex between two people be like that, what I had just felt, smooth and natural and joyful? Be a Moment in the Body of the Force? My body wanted this, was ready for this./)
Centered in the Force, centered in the heart. (/Two people, Qui-Gon and myself, making light, creating beauty and love together. Oh my Master (my love) how could a being be so callous, about beauty, about your beauty, such wonder, to force intimacy? To smirch themselves with such selfishness, greed, violence? To damage, break defenses I hadn't even known were there, that were depended upon by him, by me, by others, until I saw the effect of their loss, the suffering my Master could not hide from me. Let me help. Let my love help, whatever form it may take. The Desire of the Heart in the Force..../)
Centered in the Force, centered in the mind. (/I have knowledge now to recognize this desire in myself as natural growth, natural feeling. I recognize in my Master both desire and need, though I know not the full nature of either his need or desire. I have both hope and reason to believe I am his desire, that desire is the natural upwelling of his body and heart and spirit. His need is clouded to me, beyond my knowledge but present to my senses, a disturbance in his Force, an internal conflict, sexual, very much part of this situation. A need for which I am part of the resolution. (Oh, my Master, have I made this harder for you, all unwitting?) He cannot, will not approach me in this. He will not countenance the least breath of coercion. The Will of the Force in the Informed Mind. But I can approach him./)
Centered in the Force, centered in the spirit. (/It is love I feel, and love he feels for me. It was right that I should have come to this place in myself, this realization, this desire. It was meet and right that I follow the Inspiration of the Spirit of the Force, offer Qui-Gon my love in this way, my First Night, ask for his love - and his knowledge, for I shall most surely need it, even as I have needed his knowledge and love and guidance in so many other things./)
Centered in the Force, Living and Unified in the Moment, Shaped by the Past, Creating the Future. My inspiration, my choice, my will and desire, this moment and going forward, together in the Force.
I opened my eyes. The world was laced with color, light shimmering and dancing in the air, sweet and spiced with the incense of knowledge. I had always before had limited success with the Fourfold Center. Now I understood it better. I breathed deeply, just outside ordinary awareness. There was still something not quite settled in my feelings.
How it was that Qui-Gon had come to some of his knowledge, the suspected source of his need, cause of his present suffering. A hot squirmy feeling prickled through me. My Master, reserved, passionate in his serenity, private in his habits and person, while giving in his nature, had been coerced, forced to acquire knowledge and need I couldn't help but think he hadn't wanted. Made to endure the use of his body (in public! By strangers - a stranger - who should have known better, who had known better, and held the power of life and death of innocents over him.) Made to suffer that use and knowledge and threat. We had been over this. It was over. But I couldn't seem to let it go. I felt ashamed and embarrassed that I couldn't seem to release this squirmy feeling to the Force.
There were things I wanted to know and didn't know how to ask, answers I didn't know how to find out, whether I even could find out, or ought to know. My curiosity had gotten tangled with my outrage and I didn't know how to unravel the knot. I had read the report now twice, but there was so much it didn't say, and my publicly outspoken Master is a very private man. How could I ask him to help me understand my feelings when the reason my feelings were in a twist was because he had been, well, raped. (That's how I see it. None of that was by free consent, not his desire; his choice only in the face of worse consequences.) And now I wanted to love him, and do some of those very same things, even though I was not perfectly sure what some of those things were. What if things went wrong when I did ask? (Because I was going to ask. All my meditations had pointed that way.)
I certainly couldn't go to any of my friends with this. It was not my story to share. The mere idea of going to one of the Council revolted me - they had sent him there! (Not a terribly rational reaction, but this was about feelings, not reasons.)
I was paging through the report again, as if something new would leap out at me. I hadn't understood much of the Healer's addendum, as they were even more cryptic in their notes than Master Yoda most of the time. But a line did stand out: 'Post-mission counseling - Master Healer Eren Daret.' I knew him. My Master knew him, had known him for years. He had counseled both of us after we had come back from Telos the first year of my apprenticeship. I could trust him, if I had to.
I really was going to offer my Master my First Night. Now. Tonight. This was right and the right time, but it was still a comfort to know there was someone we both could talk to, if, well ... we needed someone else to talk to. Someone other than ourselves.
I could feel my thoughts skidding and took a deep breath, centering, calming. /Don't center on your anxieties, Obi-Wan, focus on the outcome you want, not the one you fear./ I could hear Qui-Gon's patient delivery, every nuance exact. The underlying care, the love. No matter what the outcome of my asking, we would still be all right, Master and Padawan, friends, and maybe, maybe we would be lovers as well.
I'd spent enough time in the Archives. Now I wanted do something with the energy my meditations and decision had given me. Sparring with the initiates was always good for that.
It turned out that sparring partners weren't needed, but supervisors for unstructured playtime were, as was often the case. While I was with the young ones, the fives and sixes just out of the crèche, I kept finding myself grinning and laughing, almost wanting to skip, as they enjoyed dashing about the atrium lawn garden.
Flashes of my meditation kept returning to me, the tactile, physical sense of the body-center rushing along my nerves and muscles as I ran after the children, the light and sense of expansion of the spirit-center splashing & sparkling around me as I paid heed to the exuberance of the young, just forming Force-presences around me. My heart-center still burned hot, my awareness of and connection to Qui-Gon (not the Master, or not wholly, but the man, the person) a palpable thing, a beacon, a lodestone. My thoughts and feelings reaching for him, for the sense of him along the training bond, just for the pleasure of knowing he was there, would be there.
Oh, but I had been blind, hadn't I. A very selective, long-term, close-focus blindness.
This was being in love, not just loving. Actually in love. Obi-Wan Kenobi in love with Qui-Gon Jinn. I felt as if I could float, or fly, as if a fountain were bubbling and welling in my heart, my chest. And here I'd thought my friends had been exaggerating when they had told me about their own feelings. If anything they had understated the case.
I had a marvelous time playing with the initiates.
My Master was still out when I got back to our quarters, meditating in one of the gardens, probably. It was still fairly early in the evening. I was glad for the chance to bathe and dress in my newest and cleanest robes. As I did I was still very aware of myself, how the soap felt as I scrubbed, the swirl of the water around my feet, the texture of the towels. I paid particular attention to my genitals and anus. I'd read about ways to make sure of being clean inside & out, but I wasn't quite ready to do that, even if I could find something suitable to use. So I was thorough with the bathcloth and did some more with soap and water and my fingers, practicing.
All that attention reawakened the slow fire that had been with me all day. Getting dressed I could feel the weave and weight of each garment, the glimmer of Force in each once-living strand of linen and wool. Clothed in light. Aware and respectful of the gift of the animal and plant life that clothed and sustained us. Aware of the light & life within me.
Qui-Gon returned as I was setting the table with a small supper of bread and pickles, cheese and fruit. Tea was the evening beverage of choice for both of us, so I had made a pot of chamyss, one of his favourites.
I looked up as he came in, and my body suddenly felt too small for my heart. This was definitely in love. As if there had really been any question. I made myself breathe steadily.
He looked tired, worn, much of the lightness of the morning drained out of him. He did brighten as I went to him and took his heavy cloak, hanging it up by the door. I bowed him to the table with a smile and he sat gratefully.
"Thank you, Padawan." Softly, as I poured the tea.
I wanted to lift the invisible weight from his shoulders, smooth the creases from his brow, pick a fight with who or whatever had undone all the good last night's unbroken sleep had done him and returned the grey wearyness to his spirit. I had hoped for another smile like the one I'd gotten at breakfast. I would just have to work for it.
So, begin as I meant to go on.
I sat and began to fill my plate. "I took your advice, Master, and consulted the archives before meditating. The information was very helpful. I was able to use the Fourfold Centering."
"Very good." He had filled his own plate, but was not yet eating. "Did you reach any useful conclusions?"
Even through the privacy shielding we were both maintaining I could tell that he wasn't feeling as dispassionate about the answer to that question as it sounded, but I also knew he would never pry. But I wasn't quite ready to fully answer, either.
"Yes I did. How was your day?" Shift the subject, just a little.
"The Council sent for me this afternoon."
Oh, damn. That would certainly explain the lines of wearyness. "Why didn't...."
"They wanted me. You were with the initiates. There was no need." His hands were making patterns with the bread and cheese. "They wanted to know how much longer it would be before they could give us another assignment." New patterns on the plate.
A new assignment? We weren't ready for a new assignment, certainly not the kind we typically got.
"I had to tell them I ... didn't know. Master Koth was quick to point out I had already had more than three weeks, and would I be so kind as to let them know as soon as possible when I did 'consider myself fit' or know when that would be."
Oh, that had to have hurt. It had hurt. My Master takes his duties very seriously, as he has taught me to. And one of the things he takes seriously is that both of us be at least minimally fit and prepared for whatever our duty may throw at us. And he wasn't, not yet. Not that conviction made asking for time any easier.
He sighed and finally began to eat his food instead of arrange it.
"Any idea what they want us for? Maybe it's something undemanding like an inauguration or a wedding. A survey of water resources on Golalat." I put a smile in my voice, little-boy hopefulness. (Golalat was an ocean planet that I had consistently gotten confused with its arid system-sibling Farlateen when I was first a Padawan, and a running joke between us.)
I got the snort I was hoping for.
"Not likely, Obi-Wan." He sighed again, but his mood had lightened to a mere grumble. "No. I don't know. Or why they want us in particular." He pushed his now-empty plate away with a frown and curled his hands around the teacup, gazing at the greeny-gold depths. "They disapprove of my actions and solutions, and then want to turn around and send us out again immediately."
An old and well worn grumble. I didn't say anything - what could I say? It was perfectly true - just refilled his cup and nudged the fruit-bowl closer. We had had similar exchanges hundreds of times, but I had never before been so aware of the dynamic between us, how I could affect him, his feelings, with my words and actions. I'd learned to do it quite consciously on missions - so much of what gets called 'Jedi mind tricks' are really only kinesics and spacial awareness, vocal controls and nuances, perceptual training and the like, that are not restricted to the Jedi (Chancellor Valorum is quite skilled and completely Force-blind) - but I had not thought further to realize that of course it applied to daily life as well, conscious or not. Rather a frightening thing to realize, in a way, frightening and exhilarating to know that I had that power, that it was mine to use, lightly, responsibly, with those close to me as well as for the common good in the service of the Force.
A final revelation in a day full of them; I felt as though most of the last cycle had been spent in a place with all the doors and windows open, a kind of receptive, revelatory trance-state. Now I knew, knew, not only why my Master had not come to me, but why he, consciously, had been so careful of me lately, and I, unconsciously, had picked up on that & responded by being equally circumspect. Because sexual awakening and awareness should be, must be, arrived at naturally, not forced. /Oh My Master, I have made it harder for you, haven't I./
"Padawan?" [CorCom to Padawan, CorCom to Padawan....]
Force. I'd been staring at the fruit bowl without seeing for who knows how long. Lost in a trance indeed. But there was humor and deep affection in his mental voice.
"What? Oh, I just put two and eight together."
"I see." There was a hint of smile in his voice. "And you got...?"
"And I got twelve. Or something. I ...." I stopped, not quite sure where I was going with that, and gave him a smile of my own, then stood up and started clearing the table to give myself time to put my words together. He watched me patiently, eyebrows raised in undemanding inquiry. Finally I left the tea-things and led him over to the couch in the common room. We sat down, facing each other.
I took a deep breath. Ground and center. Here goes. "Master, I have questions in need of answers; answers personal to and of you. May I ask, and will you answer?" Stars, a formal question request. Where had that come from? But somehow it felt right.
"Ask your questions, Padawan. I will answer." Deep voiced. Still and serious face. His hands were braced in his lap, flat on his thighs; I don't think anyone else would have seen the tension in them.
He had given me leave to ask, an unqualified promise to answer. I had his full and unwavering attention, and he had not invoked anything that would give him an out or a loophole. Another rather frightening and exhilarating thing, to know that. To know that he would not flinch from answering, from giving me what he knew or believed to be right or true, no matter the personal cost. I vowed to be careful with my questions.
"First. Master, the Law of the Temple states that no Master may approach a Padawan in any manner sexual, lest there be damage to the Learner's self-awareness and confidence, or influence over the Learner's free will and choice. I ask: do you believe this, follow this?"
"Yes." Low but steady. Watching me as I watched him. I could not read what I saw in his eyes. This answer was no surprise.
Another deep breath. "Second. You know you can influence people, even me, in very subtle ways, without their knowing it. You have taught me this skill, and have in the past and for good reason, used it on me. Have you ever influenced me in this, tried to bend or shape my desire in any way?" (Oh, a hard question to ask, hard and necessary; an answer we both needed to know.)
Qui-Gon's eyes had gone very dark, the lines on his face pronounced. His voice, when it came, was extremely quiet and grave. "No, Padawan. I have never tried to influence you, your desire or sexuality, consciously or by intent. I have, to the best of my ability, worked not to."
But he was afraid he had anyway, I could see that doubt, that misery, in the moiling edges of Force around him, in the tense set of his mouth. He didn't know, because he was an abstract thinker and philosopher-poet who saw the connections between all living things and believed in shades of grey, not absolutes. Thus the qualified no, which was assurance enough, more than enough, for me. I could certainly forgive anything which might have unconsciously slipped past his formidable skill and intent.
He could read me much more easily than I could him. I felt the Force ease around him just a fraction even as I made a tiny nod to myself. I rolled my shoulders to loosen my own tension. I wasn't quite finished yet. Another deep breath. This was hard. One of the hardest things I had ever done.
"Third. I gather that a lot of what happened to you during the Piiresti mission was ... sexual. And coercive. And affected you more than ... affected you personally, physically and emotionally, and ... some of those things are still affecting you, physically and, um, sexually?" My hands were twisting, clenched tightly in my lap. I could feel my cheeks flaming and was sure I was red to the ears with embarrassment at what I was asking, but I still had to ask. "Was it, ... did he, ... didKiirTwarirapeyou? Is that ... how you think of it?"
I knew my Master would never hit me for asking a question, even that one, why was I hunching my shoulders as if against a blow?
It was not the question he had been expecting me to ask. He cocked his head thoughtfully for a moment and I tried to recover my composure. Eventually he let out a small sigh.
"Technically, yes, it was rape."
I flinched at the word, and saw my reflexive response echoed in him, but he did not allow it to stop him. I had asked the question, I was entitled to the whole answer.
Carefully, he went on, eyes still distant with the abstracted look of interior observation. "I do not think of it that way, though, not really. I ... am not quite sure what I do think. My feelings are ... not very articulable on that matter." He refocussed on me, and I could nearly feel his gaze, an imponderable weight. "As to the first part of that question, yes, I am still ... trying ... to come to terms with the effects of long-term ... use ... as they continue to manifest. And the effects I am having the most difficulty with ... are sexual."
I didn't miss the 'try', nor the otherwise carefully neutral and dispassionate language in a voice that was colored by feeling that was anything but. He was not finding it any easier than I had to talk about. It struck me then that he was also still operating under the handicap of having to avoid influencing me as to my own desires.
(How could I not love this man? Even if that love was never expressed physically, in the joining of our bodies? And while some of what I had learned tonight both clarified and added complexity to my desire, none of it diminished it, or the sense of rightness that I had felt at the end of my earlier meditations.)
Suddenly I had a question I hadn't thought of before, but seemed relevant. What number was I on? It didn't matter. "Is my changing - increasing - developing sexual awareness and interest making it hard for you? Is that any part of why you couldn't give the Council an answer?"
"No, Obi-Wan. I am sure that you would comport yourself admirably in regards to that area, were we to find ourselves on a mission tomorrow. No. It is my own concentration and reflexes that I feel are ... not yet recovered."
"But getting called before the Council didn't help, did it?" I hadn't actually meant to ask that, but Qui-Gon answered me anyway, a hint of a smile tilting one corner of his mouth.
"No, it did not."
Now there was only one more question that needed to be asked this way, within the strictures of the ritual request. I was reasonably sure I knew the answer, but needed to hear it formally. Wanted my Master to hear himself say it, for his own need and comfort.
"Lastly. Master, do you believe I am come to years, knowledge, discretion and perception sufficient to willingly and freely offer my love to another in a physical and sexually intimate relationship?"
His eyebrows rose slightly at the language, (I had gotten the words straight out of one of the books I had read this morning) but he did not laugh. His voice was quite serious and deliberate as he spoke, and his eyes held mine for a long moment.
"Yes, Obi-Wan. I do believe you are of an age and sufficiently prepared to choose to make such an offer."
I let out a breath I had not realized I was holding and bowed my head to him as much to hide the sudden silly grin on my face as to offer him my quite sincere respect. I hoped he could not hear the racing and pounding of my heart.
"Thank you, My Master. I am fully answered of my asking. I am honored by your truth and teaching."
"As I am honored by your trust and seeking. Well have you asked, my Padawan; may you use the knowledge you have gained with equal wisdom."
He stood to stretch, and grimaced at the stiffness in his back and shoulders. I winced in sympathy, but mine weren't much better.
"I think, Obi-Wan, that I shall take a bath. Would you care for a game of cennit when I'm done?"
A game we often played, both interesting & relaxing. It sounded like a good idea, even if I couldn't figure out how to get from where we were now, to where I wanted to be. Where I hoped he wanted to be. All the questions asked but one, and that the most important.
"Yes, I'd like that. I'll tidy up and make some more tea."
Go on to part 2