by Ally ( ally_ranger@yahoo.com )

Rating: PG

Archive: M_A sure, others ask.

Category: Q/O, Drama, Angst, Romance

Summary: After years of longing, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan find happiness in each other. However, circumstances change and Qui-Gon must make a hard choice and live with the consequences. Line challenge response (see end)

Feedback: If you want.

Spoilers: Ha! As if!

Disclaimer: Owned by Lucus they are. Make money, I do not.

Notes: When there is no tag detailing setting, action is taking place at the Temple.

[Coruscant -- The Jedi Temple]

Qui-Gon Jinn felt like a man being torn apart. The highs and lows of pleasure and pain had come to him in rapid succession, rocking him like a boat in an angry sea -- precariously close to drowning, but uncaring because he was far too appreciative of the wild ride.


The ride had ended.

He had been in love, *was* in love. But it was over.

He just hadn't told Obi-Wan yet.

[Three weeks earlier -- Republic Transport Prolac]

Qui-Gon picked up the data pad from the cot and opened it.

[... told me again and again to tell him how I feel, that he won't reject me, even if he doesn't return my feelings... but Bant doesn't know what it's like. She doesn't love her master. She doesn't have to be afraid of driving the person she loves away with such an obviously unrequited admission...]

No, not the mission report he'd come looking for.

Obi-Wan's journal. Qui-Gon dropped the pad and it landed on the floor next to his feet. He felt ill, yet elated -- a heady combination of sensations that swirled around his abdomen like butterflies on acid. Ill -- he had read Obi-Wan's journal and violated his padawan's privacy, even if unintentional; and elated because his feelings of love for the man his padawan had become were returned.


He started, looking up wide-eyed. Obi-Wan stood in the doorway of their shared cabin with only a towel wrapped around the waist of his wet, well-muscled body.

Qui-Gon floundered for a moment before he managed to gain his mental equilibrium, forcing his mind to calm. An excuse. He needed a reason for being on Obi-Wan's bed, his padawan's journal lying so far unseen at his feet.

"I was..." there was the briefest of pauses while his mind remembered his earlier intentions. "...looking for the mission report so I could add my conclusions about the treaty." He managed to not rake his eyes over the sight that his padawan was presenting to him even as he praised his recovery.

Obi-Wan looked relieved. "Oh. It's right here." He retrieved the pad from the top of his pack, turning his back for the few moments Qui-Gon needed to retrieve the dropped journal and put it back on the bed.

"I've just about finished it Master."

He handed it to Qui-Gon, who felt as relieved as his padawan looked. The journal was in its proper place and his padawan appeared oblivious.

"Thank-you Obi-Wan. I'll finish it for you while you get dressed. Dinner in a half?"

Obi-Wan nodded, clutching tightly to his towel with one hand. "Yes Master."

Qui-Gon left with a short nod, a flush beginning to turn his entire face and his ears a bright red. He thanked the Force as he fled -- if he hadn't dropped the evidence of his transgression when he did...

Obi-Wan, despite his confessed love for Qui-Gon, would not have been forgiving if he had caught his master reading from his journal. Once years ago, while on Coruscant, Qui-Gon had returned to their shared quarters to find Obi-Wan looking dangerously close to knocking one of his age mates out cold. When Qui-Gon had managed to calm his padawan down, he learnt that Obi-Wan had found his friend reading his journal while he had been making snacks in the kitchen.

Obi-Wan had been nineteen then and in a fine temper for days afterwards.

Qui-Gon sat down in the kitchenette, placing the mission report on the table. His padawan was twenty-four now and fiercely protective of his privacy. It would not have been pretty if he had been caught.

Still, if it had happened, if Obi-Wan had returned just a few seconds earlier, there would have been an opportunity for Qui-Gon to discuss Obi-Wan's feelings with him. But Qui-Gon was at a loss. The Code stated very clearly that intimate relationships between a master and padawan were not to be initiated by the senior member of the pairing. He had cursed that edict many times in the past while at the same time he had found himself frequently quoting it again and again in an effort to calm his raging desire. Many times he had stumbled upon Obi-Wan in near nakedness or dripping with sweat, clothing clinging to his body after a long work out. Situations that pointed out all to clearly what Qui-Gon wanted and what he could not have. In those precarious moments, when he wanted to confess everything to the man he loved, he cited the damn Code and held his tongue.

His mind repeated the phrases now in a desperate bid to stop him from turning around and charging back to devour Obi-Wan. *A master shall not initiate intimate relations with a padawan. A master shall not...*

Qui-Gon decided that he had found a new definition of misery. To know and not be able to do anything about it.

For a relationship to occur Obi-Wan had to make the first move -- had to state with no room for uncertainty, that he wanted Qui-Gon. An admission in a journal did not qualify as an attempt on his padawan's part to initiate a relationship.

The universe was laughing at Qui-Gon Jinn. He was sure of it.

"Would you like some help with the report or dinner, Master?"

Definitely laughing. For the second time in five minutes, his apprentice startled Qui-Gon out of his thoughts. This time though Obi-Wan was dressed, something else to be thankful for.

"Well... I could use your skill in opening the ration packs. We've just about run out of fresh produce."

Obi-Wan laughed and Qui-Gon's heart palpitated; he had always loved to hear his padawan's laughter, to see that huge grin that always accompanied it. Swallowing in misery, he surmised that it felt much worse to love Obi-Wan now that he knew he was loved in return.

Obi-Wan retrieved the rations and tore the packets open. "I hope you don't mind eating now. I'm famished." He passed a bar to Qui-Gon and for a brief moment their fingers touched.

Torture. He was being tortured. And laughed at.

"Thank you Padawan." /I love you too/ he said silently, within the safe confines of his mind, wishing he could utter the words aloud.

"I don't understand! For three weeks now you're professing your love to me and now its over?" Obi-Wan stood before him, the expression on his face a mixture of shock and betrayal.

"Yes." Qui-Gon forced himself to look his padawan, his lover, in the eye.

"Just like that." Obi-Wan said his voice laced with bitterness. He turned away from Qui-Gon, hugging himself tightly.

Qui-Gon's heart ached. He wanted to reach out to Obi-Wan. Take it all back. He couldn't. This had to be done and no matter how much it hurt either of them, it had to end.

He would never ask Obi-Wan to make the choice that he had to, between their relationship and his training. That would have been crueller than what he was doing now and there was plenty of hurt here without adding to it.

"Obi-Wan you make it sound like I'm just tossing you aside. I'm not. Your training must come first. Surely you can see that this new relationship we have can only interfere with it. The line between teacher and student should not be crossed; it can lead to abuse or overconfidence on my part. What if I was blinded to a potentially fatal fault in your fighting skills? What if I'm too close to you to see the flaws? I've been guilty of that before."

Obi-Wan spun around on his heel, anger radiating outwards through the force, buffeting Qui-Gon's senses.

"Don't. Don't you dare compare what we have with Xanatos! Don't you dare use him as an excuse! Not this time and not for this. Stop hiding behind his ghost. You say you don't want to mess with the master padawan relationship? Why couldn't you have thought of that three weeks ago? No, I definitely won't think that I am just a toy for you to cast aside when you are bored with it. You've given me *every* reason to believe otherwise."

"Obi-Wan --"

"No!" Obi-Wan held his hands up. "Enough -- it's over. You used me and abused me and I've outstayed my welcome in your bed. I get it." He stalked past Qui-Gon to the door. "I believe that I will be eating in the dining hall 'Master'." Obi-Wan palmed the door and it opened with a small whoosh. "Breakfast, lunch and dinner."

Qui-Gon did not protest, just watched, silent, as the door slid shut behind his padawan. When he was sure that Obi-Wan was not going to charge back in for another painful round of bitter verbal sparring, he slumped down on the floor, his head falling into his hands, silent tears wetting his large palms before splashing to the floor.

It had not gone well; not that he had expected it to. He had taken the heart of his lover and ripped it from his chest. Obi-Wan accused him of using him as a play toy, but his padawan couldn't have been further from the truth. Qui-Gon had hurt him, yes, bruising his heart in a way that his trusting student would have thought impossible. But if Obi-Wan thought that Qui-Gon didn't love him...he would way off the mark.

Qui-Gon *loved* Obi-Wan and that was why he had done it.

Hurt the one you love *because* you love them.

It was so perverse but so true.

[Three hours earlier.]

"You've embarked on a dangerous path, Qui-Gon. Do you have any idea of the trouble this could cause?" Mace Windu waved his hands as he spoke, his displeasure evident. "This is setting a bad example for other master and padawan pairs..."

Qui-Gon sat beside him in one of the temple gardens, wisely choosing not to speak. When Mace ranted it was much safer to sit quietly and nod in all the right places.

"... then there's the fact that he's so close to his trials.

Couldn't you have waited a year? How can you guarantee that he will remain focused on his studies? How do you know that you won't be blinded to his faults? You don't know..."

There had to be a point somewhere, Qui-Gon was sure of it. He let his mind wander to the subject of this dressing down. Along the training bond Qui-Gon could feel that Obi-Wan was immersed in something, his focus so tight on what he was doing that he didn't notice Qui-Gon's gentle check-up.

Sparring. Only sparring could devour all of his padawan's attention. That meant a sweaty Obi-Wan and clingy clothing that he would be more than willing to remove from his lover. He smiled and turned his awareness back to the garden and a fuming Mace.

"It's merely hero-worship, you must be able to see that!"

That got Qui-Gon's attention. Hero-worship! Of all the absurd things...

"Mace, I don't think that you are in a position to tell me with any authority, how Obi-Wan feels about me. I've seen his heart and I know it's true. He loves me as much as I love him. I --"

"Are you so sure Qui-Gon? Are you willing to risk his apprenticeship for what is most likely a crush?"

"What in Sith's hell are you going on about? Why would Obi-Wan's apprenticeship be at risk? The Code does not forbid relationships between masters and padawans!" Qui-Gon stood up, the abruptness of the movement showing his state of agitation.

"It's at risk because I am considering petitioning the Council to have you removed as Obi-Wan's master if the relationship continues.

You've proven yourself to be blind to the faults of an apprentice before and we can't afford to loose someone like Obi-Wan. There are Dark times ahead..."

Xanatos! Of course Mace would have to dredge up Qui-Gon's worst failure as a way to make a point. He was outraged by the comparison.

"I never had a relationship with Xanatos! He was my student, nothing more."

"He was your student and you could not see the darkness because you did not *want* to! He was just a student and Obi-Wan is your lover.

Do you think given your history, that you can objectively train him?" Mace held up his hand before Qui-Gon could answer. "Think carefully my friend. We are talking about your apprentice's knighthood."

Qui-Gon sat back down tight-lipped, his hands clenching and unclenching. He was furious. He ached to strike out at Mace and remove the threat to his Obi-Wan, to *them*.

Common sense and years of diplomatic work held him back.

That reaction, the absolute devotion to his padawan, was they very thing the other man was trying to prevent. Could he make the same mistakes with Obi-Wan as he had with Xanatos? He did not want to believe that it was possible. If it was... Could he in good conscience risk Obi-Wan's knighthood when they had both worked so hard and for so long?

Qui-Gon felt nauseous.

He couldn't. It meant too much to Obi-Wan.

Defeated, he shook his head.

Mace squeezed his shoulder, offering comfort. Qui-Gon brushed the hand away in anger. His closest friend had placed him in an impossible position, backed him into a corner and held a mirror up to him. The past, present and future were reflected back and Qui-Gon did not like what he saw.

His failure with Xanatos. His new relationship with Obi-Wan and the possibility of Obi-Wan failing his trials because his own master was blinded by love and unable to prepare him properly.

It hurt and Qui-Gon wasn't willing to take comfort from the person who inflicted the wound. Even if he might be right.

Mace stood up. "The infatuation will end. Go to the boy. Tell him it's over."

[Republic Transport Prolac]

They ate in silence. It should have been companionable, but Qui-Gon was too aware of Obi-Wan seated across from him to enjoy it. Their legs brushed together under the table and Qui-Gon stiffened involuntarily.


He hoped to make to Obi-Wan feel comfortable enough to admit his feelings. Flinching away from casual touches was not a recommended way to accomplish that goal.

The leg moved and Obi-Wan glanced up at him.

"Not enjoying your meal, Master?" Obi-Wan pointed to Qui-Gon's half-eaten ration bar and then to his own empty packet.

"I'm not particularly hungry at the moment, Padawan. You're welcome to it if you want." Qui-Gon pushed the bar over to him.

Obi-Wan shook his head and pushed it back to Qui-Gon's side of the table.

"You really should eat Master. We've had a tough time these last few days and you hardly ate unless I shoved the food down your throat. Eat." Green eyes implored him to pick up the bar. "Please?"

That simple plea was all it took for the rest of the bar to disappear into Qui-Gon's mouth. If Obi-Wan ever knew it was that easy for him to get his master to do his bidding...

He swallowed the bar and was rewarded with a knowing smile. Oh no.

His apprentice already knew that he had Qui-Gon wrapped around his little finger. A pity that Obi-Wan wouldn't try to wrap him around any other parts of his body.

Obi-Wan wasn't going to be returning to their quarters that night.

Qui-Gon resisted the urge to comm him, despite his almost overwhelming need to hear his apprentice's voice.

The training bond was muted, the comfort it offered no longer there.

When the door had slid shut on the sight of his distressed padawan, tight mental shields mimicked the action, blocking Qui-Gon from Obi-Wan's mind. That silence was a glaring reminder of how badly he had hurt Obi-Wan. Hurt might be too minor a word. He broke up with the man, as if the last three weeks had never happened.

They were the most memorable three weeks of Qui-Gon's life.

[Republic Transport Prolac]


Qui-Gon glanced up from the mission report. "Yes Obi-Wan?"

"I'm in love with you."

The door chime sounded and a quick check of the time told Qui-Gon that it was not visiting hours -- it was well past midnight. A bolt of panic flashed through him and for an instant he wondered if something had happened to Obi-Wan.

He squashed that wild thought before it could take up residence in his mind. Whoever it was and whatever they wanted, it was not to tell him that something was wrong with Obi-Wan -- even with the shields in place, Qui-Gon was sure he would *know* if there was a problem. He told himself that as he opened the door.

An angry young woman strode in without invitation.

"How could you do that to him? Are you heartless? He loves you! What were you thinking? Telling him you love him and then taking it all back because it doesn't fit in nicely with the master padawan dynamic! I never thought that anybody could be so cruel." Bant stood in front of him, her hands on her hips, eyes squinted into an unforgiving glare.

"Well?" She threw her arms up in the air. "What do you have to say for yourself?"

"I don't have anything to say, Bant." Rubbing absently at his head, heart sick and very tired, Qui-Gon asked, "Do you realise what time it is?" Hopefully if he reminded her of the hour she would leave and take her anger with her.

"I know damn well what time it is 'Master' Jinn. It took me hours to get Obi-Wan to calm down enough to talk to me and even longer to get him to sleep. The state he was in when he came to my room, I thought you must have died or something. Only in reality, you did much worse."

Qui-Gon wasn't in the mood for this. "Well, Bant, I'm sorry my reasonable health disappoints you so. If you're done ranting at me..." He gestured a hand towards the door.

Bant ignored the hint. "I'm far from done Jinn. Do you have any idea how bad you hurt him? Do you?" Tears began to trickle down her face adding to Qui-Gon's growing pain. Obi-Wan must have really scared her to shake the usually calm Mom Calamarian.

Qui-Gon looked away from the evidence of the hurt he had inflicted. "I think you should leave Bant."

"No." She crossed her arms and stood firm in the middle of the room.


Unbelievable. Three weeks ago the universe had been laughing at him by giving him the knowledge that the one thing he wanted, wanted him too and he couldn't have it. Now, he could almost think that the Force, the universe, whatever had placed him in this difficult situation was smirking. He didn't get to have Obi-Wan after all and now he got the consolation prize of living with three weeks of memory and an angry Mon Calamarian staring him down.

"No." She made no move to leave. "Not until you give me a reasonable explanation as to why you hurt Obi-Wan like you did."

"That's between Obi-Wan and mys--"

"Obi-Wan doesn't have a clue why you broke up with him, other than that ridiculous story you fed him regarding his training." Bant said.

"It's the truth. Obi-Wan will be facing his trials sometime in the next year and he needs to be focused."

"Oh come on, you can do better than that! How about this? You needed a warm body to snuggle up to for the three-week trip home and your padawan was conveniently available. You took his offer of love and used it for sex. Did you even love him? At all? Ever?"

"Of course I love him and I still do, it's just that..."

Bant wasn't going to give him the chance to defend himself, her mind was already made up. "What? You expect me to believe you love him when you used him like that! You threw him away because it was inconvenient for you, after all, he's just a padawan and you're a famous Jedi master."

"I didn't have a choice Bant." This was spiralling hopelessly out of control.

"Sithspit!" She was very angry now, waving wildly as she argued. "There's always a choice. You could have said that you didn't feel the same way as him. You could have..."

"It was our relationship or his Knighthood! His whole life has been dedicated to becoming a Jedi Knight. I would not ask him to sacrifice that for me. I made that choice so they wouldn't take his dream away from him!" Even as he said it, Qui-Gon realised his mistake. Bant was Obi-Wan's best friend and she would tell his padawan what had been said, tell him 'why'. He didn't want his apprentice to have the weight of that decision on his shoulders, even though Qui-Gon had made it for him.

Bant stopped her tirade, shocked. "His -- his Knighthood?"

[Republic Transport Prolac]

Qui-Gon awoke to find a sleeping, naked Obi-Wan curled up next to him, cheek pressed into his chest, one arm draped around his waist.

Memories of their joining skittered across his thoughts. Images, sounds and feelings making his heart beat faster. He ran his hand through Obi-Wan's short hair, its rough texture tickling his palm. He was going to learn this body, commit every curve, nook and cranny to memory.

Qui-Gon's hand moved down to trace Obi-Wan's jaw line, following with his still swollen lips before darting down to an exposed nipple. His explorations began to rouse the sleeping form at his side, but he continued on, mapping his lover with his hand. Obi-Wan's arm received his attention next, Qui-Gon's fingertips skimming over well-defined muscles.

It felt so good to be able to touch like this, without fear of recrimination, possessing the knowledge that his touches were welcome. After years of not being able to touch...

Obi-Wan shifted and ran his hand over Qui-Gon's stomach. He was definitely awake now. Qui-Gon continued to run his fingers over Obi-Wan's arm, his stomach warming as he felt the love Obi-Wan held for him flow along their bond.

"'Morning Master."

"Good morning Obi-Wan." He kissed the top of his lover's head and felt the lips pressed up against his chest turn up in a smile.

The hand on his stomach made pleasant, lazy circles, before moving lower. Lips latched onto his nipple and then Qui-Gon knew only pleasure.

"That's not fair! They haven't even given you two a chance." Bant sat next to Qui-Gon and took his hand in hers, giving it a supportive squeeze.

He held onto it. "Mace seems to think that it won't work. He cited my track record as evidence. He would do it, you know. Petition the Council." Qui-Gon swallowed trying to will away the fresh set of tears that threatened to spill.

"Master Windu?" Bant dropped his hand, her mouth forming a little 'O' as she digested what Qui-Gon had told her.


She shook her head, disbelieving. "Master Windu... It wasn't the Council who told you to end it?"

Qui-Gon nodded in confirmation, wishing that Bant would share her thoughts with him.


She took his hand again, both of her hands warming it, her face animated with understanding.

"Every time you and Obi-Wan go away on missions and I'm on Coruscant, Master Windu comes by every few days to ask about Obi-Wan. Have I heard from him, how he's doing, has he met anyone interesting?" She shook her head, amazed.

"I always thought that he asked because he wanted to check up on you discretely. Obi and I always thought that Master Windu, you know...had a crush on you." Bant blushed, her gaze leaving Qui-Gon's for a moment, then returning her face alight with knowledge. "I was wrong though. I should have seen it, 'cause looking back it was so obvious. He was fishing for information because he liked *Obi-Wan* not you!"

Qui-Gon followed that train of thought to the end of the line. "You're suggesting that Mace deliberately sought to break us up?"

That was a heavy accusation, when made by any member of the Order. But as a padawan, if Bant whispered those words to anybody outside the safety of Qui-Gon's living room, she could face serious reprimands for her behaviour.

Understanding the seriousness of the situation, Bant considered his question, careful in her answer. "No, Master Jinn, but I think that it could be possible that Master Windu might be focusing on what happened with..." She waved her hand but didn't utter the name. "...as a reason to discredit your relationship with Obi-Wan because he may be...jealous? He may not know that his judgement is clouded."

There was a long pause and Qui-Gon wondered if she would continue.

"I know that it's not my place to question the wisdom of a Master and a Council member, but is Master Windu the best person to be making decisions about your relationship when his own feelings could impair his ability to be unbiased?"

[Republic Transport Prolac]

"You read my journal."

"Yes." Qui-Gon sent a quick prayer to the Force, begging for Obi-Wan to remain with him in the warm confines of their bed. To loose him now ...

He turned to face his lover, to get a closer look at those much loved eyes, hoping to gauge how bad the oncoming storm would be.

Obi-Wan caressed his arm. "I was hoping you had."

"Hoping?" Qui-Gon did not try to hide his surprise and relief at that wistful admission.

Obi-Wan gave a small nod as his fingers began to trace patterns over Qui-Gon's chest. "Yes. I hoped. I ... left it there instead of the mission report because ..."

Obi-Wan blushed and looked away. Qui-Gon caught the roving hand and kissed it in encouragement.

"Because ..." Qui-Gon prodded gently.

"Because I wanted you to read it. I was afraid that if I told you straight out and you didn't want me ...  It was easier to wait and see how you reacted."

"Are you pleased with my reaction?" Qui-Gon pulled one of Obi-Wan's fingers into his mouth and sucked it.

His question was considered for a long moment.

"Yes. I-I think so." Those bewitching eyes met Qui-Gon's.

Releasing the captive finger, Qui-Gon studied his lover's face. "You think so?" That answer was simply not good enough.

"I'm not entirely satisfied Master." A smirking, irrepressible and insatiable Obi-Wan took one of Qui-Gon's hands and placed it on his erection.

His padawan's point proven in that action, Qui-Gon laughed and kissed Obi-Wan's nose. "Well, we will have to rectify that problem immediately!"

The short flight back to Coruscant had been a pivotal point in Qui-Gon's life. Obi-Wan he was sure, would be forever changed too. They had both longed for something they thought out of reach for many years, had resigned to take comfort in what little they had, while all along wishing, pining for something more.

Then in the course of a few short hours, their worlds had turned upside down and everything they had each dreamed of alone at night in large, lonely beds, had been theirs for the taking and they had both lunged for the dream and lived it.

And then he destroyed it.

Both their lives had changed, but they had taken a turn for the worst.

Qui-Gon wished that he could take back the previous night, pull Obi-Wan into his arms and hold him there; never uttering the words that ripped through the heart and soul of the one he loved more than his own life.

Too late.

Or perhaps not -- Bant was hopeful, preferring to believe that the hurt could be undone and the threat of forced separation removed. She didn't have a plan, short of going to the council and proclaiming that Mace Windu had unconsciously sabotaged Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan's relationship, but the hope shone in her eyes.

Qui-Gon admired her positivity, but he knew better. Age and experience on his side, he knew that words could not be unsaid. And they tended to scar worse than any physical injury and took longer to heal.

Despite his protests, Bant seemed assured that there was a happy ending on the horizon. If Qui-Gon would just look for it. So sure was the Mon Calamarian that it could be fixed that for a few minutes Qui-Gon allowed himself to feel the hope well up in his chest.

The fatalistic part of him ran that tiny glimmer through with his light sabre.

He recognised that it wasn't like him to give up, but he could see no way that he could salvage his relationship with Obi-Wan. Too much hurt. Obi-Wan wouldn't want him, not now.

"Master Jinn?" Bant's soft voice intruded on his silent misery. "I have to go back to Obi-Wan. I don't want him to wake up alone." Her grip on his hand tightened, "Don't give in, this will work out. We just need to think it out and," she paused and blushed, "you need to meditate." She added, slightly abashed at ordering a master to do anything.

She took her leave then, turning at the door to gaze at him. Indecision was written in her expression.

"Go Bant. He needs you more than I do." Qui-Gon pulled his face into a stiff smile that did not reach his eyes. "Go."

Bant nodded, offering her own smile and left, her light vanishing behind the metal door as it closed.

Alone again, Qui-Gon let the unshed tears loose.

[Republic Transport Prolac]

"I love you."

Qui-Gon flushed with pleasure. "I love you too."


He heard the hope in his padawan's voice and found that it matched his own.


Nothing more needed to be said.

Some time later, the door chime woke Qui-Gon from a fitful, tortured sleep.

In his haunted dreams, Obi-Wan left Qui-Gon first, or accused Qui-Gon of taking advantage of him. In one scenario, his padawan had petitioned the Council to sever their bond, claiming that Qui-Gon had influenced him into having an unwanted sexual relationship. Raped him.

The chime saved him from having to witness his own execution at the hands of a Dark Obi-Wan's sabre.

Struggling off the couch Qui-Gon stumbled to reach the door. It slid open before he was halfway across the room, the over-ride function activated.

Mace Windu strode into the room.

"Qui-Gon! Damn it, I was worried about you! I've been comming you for a good ten minutes and ringing that damn buzzer for another five ..."

Retreating to the couch, Qui-Gon just looked at the Councillor, numb and not particularly paying attention. There was nothing that he wanted to hear from this man.

A blatant mental probe jolted Qui-Gon out of his thoughts just in time to hear the enquiry, "... have you told him yet?"

Qui-Gon wasn't ready to answer any questions yet, he had one of his own and he wanted an answer. "You would truly take him away from me, wouldn't you?"

Bant's suspicions seemed so right now that he was facing the man who had threatened to remove Obi-Wan from his care. "And who would be his master? You? Who, Mace?" Qui-Gon spat the words out, angry with Mace, at the world, at himself for letting Obi-Wan go.

And for allowing the relationship to proceed in the first place.

Qui-Gon's response was not the one that Mace had expected. The usually prudent council member jumped to the wrong conclusion immediately. "You haven't told him have you! Sith's hell, Qui-Gon! You have a responsibility to him. Tell him now, damn you, or I will petition the Council at this afternoon's session."

Mace began pacing; his tone harsh, implying that he was willing to carry out his threat. "Poof and Mundi have indicated their support Qui-Gon. They have also stated that they believe Obi-Wan would benefit immensely if you were not allowed to see him until he is knighted."

The pacing stopped and Mace pinned him with a glare that made Qui-Gon's heart skipped a beat. The words sunk in. It was his worst nightmare. No, he could not loose Obi-Wan like that. Death would be kinder than forced separation, than any separation at all.

Oh, Bant was wrong, so very wrong. Regardless of Mace's motives, there would be no happily ever after. Not when Mundi, Poof and Mace had their talons prepared to sink into Qui-Gon's back. Three influential council members against one Jedi Master. It seemed that his fate was sealed.

"I've already told him Mace." He said, voice cracking under the strain of his emotions. He stared at his hands, fisted tightly, knuckles white. He could almost feel Mace's shock.

No doubt, the man thought that his renegade friend would defy him, as was typical of Qui-Gon's famous contrary nature. Never mind the fact that it was also well known that he cared deeply for Obi-Wan's welfare.

"You've told him? When?" Mace's surprise was very evident; his voice filled with amazement.

"Yesterday. At lunch. He's ...  with a friend now. I don't know if he's coming back."

Qui-Gon's admission was greeted with silence. Neither man looked at the other as they both contemplated what had been said.

Mace broke the pause, his voice sounding from near the door. "Perhaps I should check on Obi-Wan for you? Is he with Bant?"

Ah, Qui-Gon thought, it was definitely true. Mace was after his padawan. Defeated, Qui-Gon knew there was little he could do about it now.

He nodded, his voice not up to the task of talking when all he wanted to do was scream at the unfairness of it all. So Mace would be the Councillor in shining armour who would rescue Obi-Wan from his heartache.

A part of Qui-Gon rebelled at the thought of giving up on his love so easily. *Fight it! You love Obi-Wan, why are you letting Mace win? *

The other part of his mind, the section allied with his heart and already defeated, offered a small hope to quell his rising despair. Perhaps when Obi-Wan was knighted ... there would be no restraints, nothing to hold them back. If Obi-Wan would still want him.

When. If.

He would hold onto that hope. He was not going to defy Mace and loose Obi-Wan forever. Take what you can get, he had thought that often enough when he couldn't have Obi-Wan in his bed. Better in your life than not at all.

He would take what he could get.

The hours passed in a haze, time deciding to punish Qui-Gon for his broken vows by crawling slower and slower still. His memories joined in the torture, plaguing him wherever he went in the small apartment.

He had taken a shower and images of Obi-Wan, wet and wrapped around his body crying out in pleasure, had driven him from the stall.

Fixing a lunch at noon, simply because noon was time to eat and not because he was actually hungry, Qui-Gon had remembered eating the last two pieces of fresh fruit on board the Prolac. Straight off Obi-Wan's naked body.

Everywhere he turned, ghosts of his doomed relationship with his Padawan confronted him.

It was maddening.

He walked aimlessly around the living area, picking up knick-knacks and summoning the memory or story connected to their acquisition. They offered little comfort or distraction though, because most of them belonged to Obi-Wan, had memories of Obi-Wan attached to them.

Qui-Gon tended not to collect many trinkets or material goods. He hadn't needed them after he accepted Obi-Wan as his padawan. The gap that had been sore and aching after Xanatos had been filled with that one addition to his life. All material goods paled in comparison to the light and laughter that his apprentice had brought to their pairing.

Qui-Gon sighed as he touched a feather. Sleek and black it was a reminder of a mission that had ended with both of them accidentally tarred and feathered. He had protested when Obi-Wan plucked the feather from his hair, it wasn't the sort of thing that anyone should *want* to remember. But Obi-Wan had been adamant. He wanted the feather, so he got it. For the memories, he had said. The collection had started that day.

"I never saw you laugh so much as you did on that mission, Master."

Qui-Gon did not turn although Obi-Wan had startled him. He waited a moment and collected himself, turning when he felt the familiar calm wash over him.

Obi-Wan stood in the doorway his eyes boring into Qui-Gon's. Staring into their murkiness, Qui-Gon wanted nothing more than to flee into his bedroom.

It hurt all over again. He wanted and he couldn't have. He would always be taunted by the vision of Obi-Wan. Always.

Instead of running, he met those eyes calling on all of his training to keep him rooted to the spot. He would meet whatever Obi-Wan had to say with the dignity befitting a Jedi Master.

And save the break down for after Obi-Wan left.

Obi-Wan stepped inside the door and folded his arms, but came no further. His gaze falling to the dark feather.

"I kept the feather because it reminded me of your laughter. I've always loved that sound." Obi-Wan raised his eyes and Qui-Gon stared into their depths.

How he wished he could ease the hurt he saw in them.

But he remained silent. There was nothing he could do. No words could express how he felt, how sorry he was. That his decision was right, even if it was painful. He couldn't say those things and expect Obi-Wan to listen like the diligent student that he was.

They continued to stare and Qui-Gon started to shift under the intense scrutiny. After a full minute of looking red rimmed eyes, Qui-Gon began to wonder if Obi-Wan had simply come home to make him feel worse.

Why was he there?

One worrying thought spun around his mind, a question that he needed an answer as much as Qui-Gon needed air to breath.

He had resolved not to tell Obi-Wan about Mace, about the possibility of separation. Had Bant?

"Obi-Wan ... " He began, but he was stopped by a sharp shake of his padawan's head.

"I've just come to get some fresh clothes, Master. I just need to be away for awhile."

Qui-Gon stood where he was and watched as Obi-Wan retreated to his room, stung. Obi-Wan was leaving. But for how long? Would he come back?

He shook his head, angrily brushing away a stray hair as he wiped the thought from his mind. He couldn't deal with it now without blubbering like a complete idiot in front of his padawan. Later, he promised himself. He would think about what would happen if Obi-Wan left *for good*, later.

Switching mental gears he thought about Bant. It looked like she hadn't told Obi-Wan. If she had, the young man would be confronting Qui-Gon this very instant.

He thanked the Force for the small favour. Only one person needed to feel the pain of making such a life altering decision. He was glad that it had been him. Obi-Wan was young and with time, he would rebound and find someone else. Not so for Qui-Gon. Obi-Wan was it. He would not take another lover. No casual flings, no heart-stopping romances. After tasting perfection, he knew he would never be able to settle for anything else. Only Obi-Wan.

Pushing that thought away too, because it led to more thinking than he felt he could handle, Qui-Gon turned back to his inspection of the curious items that littered their shelves.

Running the feather across his palm one last time, he placed it back on the mantle and picked up another of Obi-Wan's treasures. A shoe. He turned the battered thing over in his hand and examined it.

An old sport shoe, probably electric blue once, one size too large for Obi-Wan and three sizes too small for Qui-Gon. Its fit irrelevant because it didn't have a partner.

Just one lonely shoe. Qui-Gon smiled a bitter smile that didn't reach his eyes. He and the shoe had a lot in common, apparently.

"We were on Helzi when I got that." Obi-Wan said as he re-entered the living area with his pack in hand. "We were helping build a refugee camp and some of the older kids got bored. You decided to entertain them by teaching them ..."

"Gustball. I remember. This was the ball."

"Yes. You were laughing, despite the fact that you kept getting tackled into the mud." Obi-Wan's eyes clouded over as he remembered. "It was one of the only times you let go of your Jedi Master mask and let anyone see who was underneath. I fell in love with you that day."


One month after that game they had returned to Coruscant and Obi-Wan had broken up with Knight M'Lel, his partner of over two years. They had been one of the most committed couples in the temple and it had shocked quite a few people, including M'Lel, when it ended.

Now he knew why it had happened. Obi-Wan had left M'Lel for him and the slim chance that one day he might have a place in his master's life.

"I'm sorry." Inadequate words that they were, they were all Qui-Gon had to offer.

Obi-Wan nodded at the gesture, moving towards the door.

Qui-Gon realised that he had no idea where Obi-Wan was planning to stay, although he assumed it would be with Bant. *Assume, one never should. *

"Obi-Wan. Wait!" Qui-Gon commanded when Obi-Wan reached the threshold.

It was apparent that he was reluctant to turn, but Obi-Wan responded to the command automatically, his lips pressed into a tight line.

"You ... I mean, I would like to know where you are staying so I can contact you if something comes up." Qui-Gon stammered as he stared at the distressed look on his apprentice's face.

"Oh." Obi-Wan said, surprised. "I'm sorry Master. I'll be staying with M'Lel." As an afterthought, he added, "with your permission, of course."

Qui-Gon flinched at the mention of the Knight.

"Not Bant?"

Obi-Wan frowned and it struck Qui-Gon then that he didn't have a claim on Obi-Wan any more.

He corrected his words immediately. "Of course, Obi-Wan. Your time is your own, as long as you attend your classes."

Obi-Wan gave him a long hard look. "I would be staying with Bant, Master, if she wasn't about to go on a mission. She's with the Council right now." Not that it's any of your business, his tone said.

"With the Council? Right now?" Qui-Gon repeated in shock. Oh no.

This could not be good. Qui-Gon's instincts told him what Bant was going to do in the Council chamber and it had nothing to do with missions or briefings.

Bant had told him that it would work out and he'd brushed it aside thinking all was lost. Qui-Gon knew he should have realised that she would head straight to where the problem was -- even if it meant risking her own apprenticeship by accusing a Mace in front of a fully assembled Council.

Shaking from rage and shock, Qui-Gon pushed past his startled apprentice and raced towards the chambers before Bant had the chance to make the biggest mistake of her young life.

[One Day Earlier]

Qui-Gon looked up when Obi-Wan emerged from the 'fresher, dressed, thankfully, in everything but his outer tunic. No temptations for either of them today. Too many responsibilities and meetings. Later though ...

"What's on the agenda, Master?" He said before he kissed Qui-Gon, wrapping his arms around his master, a morning tradition that they had started on board the Prolac. The only variation in this new tradition occurred when they parted reluctantly. Any longer in that embrace and Qui-Gon knew they would not leave their apartment until the next morning.

Not today.

Obi-Wan pulled himself up onto the kitchen bench and watched Qui-Gon prepare breakfast.

"Well, you need to requisition some more clothes to replace the ones you lost." Qui-Gon said his expression bland.

They stared at each other for a long blissful moment before they each broke into huge grins.

'Lost' was not usually what it was called when clothing was shredded as it was removed with a little to much haste.

Obi-Wan laughed clearly remembering the incident judging by the bulge in his pants and his closed eyes. His wicked smile indicated to Qui-Gon that he was remembering the best bits.

Straining to ignoring his apprentice, Qui-Gon ticked off Obi-Wan's tasks on his hand. "I believe there was a message from Healer T'Kath, probably wants to check up on that knee of yours and to assure herself that you don't come back from every mission battered and bruised."

More smiles this time -- Obi-Wan was covered in all sorts of bruises. There were a couple of bite marks too. "And you have to sign yourself up for classes, I have a feeling we'll be spending some time here under Council supervision."

"As long as they don't ask to watch, Master."

"Indeed. And I have a meeting with Mace in about an hour."

Obi-Wan accepted a bowl of cereal handed to him, "No fruit?"

Laughing, Qui-Gon stole a long, lingering kiss before he replied. "No fruit."

Sighing, Obi-Wan squirmed where he sat, looking uncomfortable. "What is your meeting with Master Windu about, Master?"

Qui-Gon decided to take pity on Obi-Wan and he took away the cereal and stood between his apprentice's legs. He shrugged and began to fondle Obi-Wan's arousal through the coarse cloth.

"No idea, love. But I'm sure it can't be anything too important."

As he raced down the corridor and towards the Council chamber, Qui-Gon could feel Obi-Wan at his heels as clearly as he could feel the young man's puzzlement through the training bond. Surprised that he could sense Obi-Wan again, Qui-Gon stumbled, turning his ankle.

He recovered and sent reassurance through the bond, concerned that he had frightened Obi-Wan with his sudden, inexplicable mad dash. He sensed as he ran, using the Force to propel him, that Obi-Wan was testing the Force for signs of danger as he tried to understand where they were going and why.

Qui-Gon couldn't spare his breath to tell him so he just ran hoping to get to the chamber before Bant ruined her life.

Too many lives ruined already.

Dodging and weaving through the crowds in the hall, they arrived at the chambers less than a minute after they had left his quarters.

Two Jedi guards stood to block the entrance to the large circular room as they slid around the final corner. The ornate doors were shut; Council was in session. And Bant wasn't in the waiting area.

Sith's Hell!

"Master Qui-Gon Jinn?" Cel-a Levar, a Teaching Master, approached them from an elevator. "Are you here about Bant?"

He nodded in reply. Not bothering to ask how she knew or what she was doing there; Qui-Gon instead turned his head back to the closed doors and the two Jedi who guarded it, wondering how to get in.

Levar followed his gaze and nodded her blue head in understanding. "Come with me then." She took Qui-Gon's arm and led him to the doors.

Obi-Wan looked at the two of them, confused, before he followed.

Just metres from the doors they were stopped by the guards.

"The Council is in session." The tallest said, folding her arms and glaring at them.

Levar glared back. "I know. I am Master Levar. I bring with me Master Jinn and Padawan Kenobi. I have been called here to act as a surrogate Master to Padawan Bant Eerin. Her master is not at Temple."

The tall guard turned away to check her claim with the members inside. Her partner eyed them warily, his yellow hand on the hilt of his sabre. A moment later, he received a nod from his companion, a confirmation of 'all clear' and the party of three were admitted into the chamber.

Qui-Gon knew the instant that he entered that it was too late to stop Bant.

She stood in the center of the ornate room, her arms crossed and her face set in a savage glare as she followed the movements of Mace Windu.

And Windu ... The Senior Council member was once again pacing, looking foreboding and grim, a multitude of other negative expressions flittering across his dark features, while several of the Council members looked at Bant and then Master Windu, stunned.

Depa Billaba greeted them as they joined Bant before the council.

"Master Levar, thank you for your haste."

Her eyes ran over Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. "Master Jinn, Padawan Kenobi you were not summoned, but your presence is certainly appreciated given the nature of Padawan Eerin's complaint."

They both bowed.

"Now," Depa said, looking to Bant, "Padawan, you have come before the Council with a complaint that could be considered slanderous in its nature. Do you wish to proceed or will you withdraw now, without reprimand?"

Bant cast a glance at Master Levar and then Qui-Gon. "I wish to proceed with my complaint, Master Billaba. I mean no slander, but I feel that it is too important not to be addressed. If my claim is unfounded I will accept whatever punishment the Council decided to give."

"Master Levar, have you anything to say?"

"No, Master. Bant is at an age now where she can make her own decisions and accept their consequences. I know her master would agree with me if she were here." Levar said as she moved to stand beside Bant, gripping the Mon Calamarian's shoulder in a show of support.

More than anything, Qui-Gon wished that he were a telepath. If he were, he would tell Bant a thing or two about the time and the place for such complaints to be aired. The Council chamber was not the ideal place.

There was still time for Bant to retract her accusation. After her initial glance in his direction Qui-Gon knew she would not look his way again. The glare that he had given her, accompanied by a sharp shake of his head had not been what she wanted to see. She wanted his support, but he could not give it. Hadn't he hurt enough people already? One was enough when that one was Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Don't do it, he chanted in his mind. No chance that she would hear him but it was the only thing he would do. The Code stated that only the petitioner could retract a complaint. It did not matter whether or not the complaint directly involved the party making the petition or not. They had a right to be heard and no master, padawan or other could revoke that right.

Qui-Gon could only watch while Bant hung herself with the generous amount of rope the Code had given her.

Adi gestured to Bant. "Padawan, you may proceed."

"I wish to lodge a formal complaint against Master Windu." Bant said, her voice clear and confident as it rung through the chamber. "I charge him for his interference in the matter of the relationship between Master Jinn and Padawan Kenobi."

"What?" Obi-Wan exclaimed, clearly stunned. He cast a wild glance at Bant and then his green eyes settled on Qui-Gon, searching his master's face.

Qui-Gon held that gaze for a moment. Those eyes he loved were crinkled with confusion and betrayal. Qui-Gon could imagine the questions that were flying around in Obi-Wan's mind. Why hadn't he been told? Was it not his decision too?

He felt ill at the fact that Obi-Wan had to learn of this in front of the entire Council. If Bant had not decided to interfere, Qui-Gon knew he would never have had to see that look in Obi-Wan's eyes.

His padawan's gaze fell back to Bant when she began to speak her case.

"It came to my attention that Master Windu approached Master Jinn in the Temple gardens and offered an ultimatum. Padawan Kenobi's relationship or his Knighthood. Master Jinn chose the latter because he loved Obi-Wan and wanted to see him succeed." Turning her head, she glanced at Qui-Gon. She understood his sacrifice and now she was going to fix it.

Qui-Gon wanted her to. And he didn't. He couldn't decide which he wanted any more. He could not have Obi-Wan if it meant that Obi-Wan could not realise his dream and become a Knight. That was unacceptable.

Bant redirected her eyes to Adi. "I believe that Master Windu harbours feelings for Padawan Kenobi and that his judgement on this matter was clouded." Bant looked at each Councillor in turn as she spoke her conviction in her words obvious.

"I do not believe that Master Windu set out to intentionally break this couple up because of his feelings for Padawan Kenobi. I believe that his judgement was clouded though and his interference has caused much distress for Master Jinn and his padawan. If my claim proves true, then his actions can not be ignored and Master Jinn and Padawan Kenobi should be free to pursue a relationship if it is their wish." Bant concluded her petition and bowed.

The chamber erupted with talk when Bant concluded her complaint, Council members turned to one another in shock at the suggestion that one of their own could have succumbed to such a dark temptation. Only master's Yoda and Yaddle remained silent, each gazing thoughtfully at the players in the drama before them.

Qui-Gon stared straight ahead thinking, something he felt he had done a little too much lately. Obi-Wan knew now. Despite his every intention to keep this knowledge from his padawan, the truth had been revealed. Perhaps it would have been a relief now that there was no more to hide. But now that the truth was known, how would Obi-Wan react? Would he still want Qui-Gon? And would Qui-Gon be able to risk Obi-Wan's Knighthood? He hadn't been able to when Mace asked him in the gardens. What made now any different?

Master Depa Billaba turned to Mace. "Master Windu, have you a reply to this complaint against you?"

Mace shook his head fiercely. "I refuse to explain myself to a padawan! This is a travesty. That she was even allowed to lodge a complaint at all is a mockery of the system."

"To have their grievances heard, the right of all Jedi it is." Master Yoda said, his gimmer stick twitching.

Qui-Gon stifled a smile. His old master was not above hitting council members on the shins if he felt a sharp whack would benefit them.

"If answer you will not, then answer Qui-Gon will." Yoda added after a pause.

Qui-Gon's smile was erased immediately. He should have realised that he would have to testify to his conversations with Mace. But he hadn't wanted to think that far ahead.

"Yes," Adi Gallia said in agreement. "Master Jinn, did such a conversation occur between yourself and Master Windu?"

All eyes turned to him but the only eyes he was interested in were gazing up at him their magnificent green clouded in confusion.

"Yes." He replied looking directly at Obi-Wan. His apprentice was the only one in the room who he felt deserved an explanation, now that he was being forced to give one. Maybe, after this was over and everything had been said and done ...

Maybe Obi-Wan would forgive him.

"Would you tell us what was said Qui-Gon?"

He nodded and reluctantly turned his head to the owner of the voice, Plo Kloon.

He told them. Recalling for their grim fascination every detail of the hurt-filled conversation, leaving nothing out. When he finished he turned to Obi-Wan, needing to see his reaction. His apprentice would not meet his searching look, his green eyes staring steadfastly at his boots. His ears were pink and his jaw was set.

Obi-Wan was fuming.

Saddened, the small ray of hope that had started to form again at the thought that it just might work out, died.

"Only conversation with Master Windu this was?"

"No, my master."

"No?" Bant exclaimed whirling around to face him. "You mean there's more?"

He smiled. At least he was keeping with his tradition of surprising people.

Plo Kloon addressed Bant's outburst. "Padawan, you have not been addressed. Please refrain from speaking until you are asked to."

Bant turned away, looking properly chastised.

"Master Jinn?" Plo prompted.

"No, that was not the only conversation I had with Master Windu." He recalled the conversation and took a deep breath, fighting away the emotion that was woven into each memory, releasing it all to the Force. Suitably calm, he began to testify.

"He came to my apartment earlier today and intimated to me that Master's Mundi and Poof supported his conclusion that I could not train Obi-Wan and have a relationship with him at the same time. He also said that Mundi and Poof would push to separate Obi-Wan and I if I did not end the relationship."

"True is this, Master Poof? Master Mundi?" Yaddle said after conferring with Master Yoda.

The two members nodded.

Murmurs and whispers greeted this admission. Never before had three councillors conspired to deliberately break up a relationship between two Jedi. It was outrageous.

"Speak of this later, we will." Yoda said, waving his gimmer stick about. "For now, discuss the charge against Master Windu, we will."

Eight council members bobbed their heads in agreement.

"Mace," Adi said as she moved to stand beside him, "will you not say something to defend yourself? This charge is serious. Another Jedi Master has confirmed that you had an involvement in this. Two of your fellows have agreed in their complicity. Will you not speak?"

Mace shook his head and glanced up at Obi-Wan before his eyes fell on Qui-Gon, an undefinable emotion in them.

Qui-Gon looked at his friend, trying to read his emotions, but his breath caught when he felt Obi-Wan's hand slip into his. There was a murmur at this action, but no one protested the deviation from decorum.

Mace looked away from the pair. "I never gave him an ultimatum. I simply asked him to examine his own past behaviours. For Force's sake, the man was blinded to Xanatos' faults because he was too close ... "

"And because Obi-Wan is not just a cherished student, but also a lover, you believed that history would repeat itself. So you stepped in." Adi finished for him.

"Yes! We can't afford to loose apprentice's to the Dark or to have them failing their trials because their master's encourage infatuations."

"I see," said Adi. She cocked her head slightly; a movement long associated with the telepathic communication the council members were capable of. The room was silent as the various masters glanced at one another, gesticulating into the air, faces taking on many expressions as they 'talked'.

Qui-Gon felt the currents of the Force swirling around the room while the matter of Mace's interference was discussed. Now that he was here, Qui-Gon was desperate for the master's to rule in Bant's favour. She would make a good Knight some day and make her master proud. She stood up for what she believed in, ignoring the consequences to herself for the sake of the greater good. Following Qui-Gon into heresy.

Bant's future wasn't his only concern either. His also had a question mark next to it. He would walk out of this room a Jedi, which had never been in doubt. But to walk out with Obi-Wan as a part of his life again -- that was the only future that Qui-Gon could see himself living in.

And he might just get to have a future after all, thanks to the meddlesome Bant. The comforting grip of Obi-Wan's hand in his had not just sparked hope, it had set it alight in a brilliant fire that was burning its way through Qui-Gon's soul.

He allowed the hope to flourish.

The Force eddies slowed and finally stopped. The session was ready to proceed.

"We have some more questions before we will rule in this matter." Master Kloon said. He gestured to Mace.

"Master Windu, your personal feelings for Padawan Kenobi have been questioned. Is Padawan Eerin correct in assuming that you do harbour these intimate feelings?"

Mace sank into his chair. "I don't see how this is relevant to the issue."

"Tell us then, what is relevant you will?" Yoda's ears were dipped low.

"Qui-Gon should not be allowed to have a relationship with Obi-Wan *and* be allowed to train him! It's just not right." He sprang out of the chair, pacing again his agitation shining off him. Ignoring the looks he was receiving for his tone, Mace continued to rant. "One or the other. There has to be a balance. It's just ...   it's not right!" He threw his hands up in the air.

"Ah," said Yoda, leaning forward in his chair. "Not right, it is, for Qui-Gon to have Obi-Wan as lover and student, when means this does that neither you can have?"

"Yes!" Mace exclaimed. Too late he realised what he had just said.

"I mean that, I never meant to imply ... "

"Imply nothing you did. Told us with your own words, your reasons for your actions."

Qui-Gon's eyes darkened. It was all true. Mace had unknowingly set about destroying his relationship with Obi-Wan because he wanted the young man for himself. But that didn't mean that there wasn't an issue at hand. Thanks to Mace's intervention, Qui-Gon questioned his ability to train Obi-Wan while having an intimate relationship with him.

Could he do it and succeed?

"Padawan Eerin." Adi said, her voice calling everyone's attention to her, "your complaint has been heard. A more detailed investigation will be conducted. You will not be reprimanded for your actions."

To the rest of their little group, she said, "Master's Levar, Jinn and Padawan Kenobi, I thank you for your presence. I should not need to remind you that the contents of this petition are sealed until a judgement has been made?"

They all shook their heads.

Adi nodded her approval and looked to Master Yoda.

"Free to pursue a relationship with your padawan, you are Qui-Gon. On occasion, observe Obi-Wan's training we will." Yoda beckoned to him and Qui-Gon stepped forward until he was in front of his master, kneeling.

"All will be well, my padawan. Wrong this was and sorry I am. Hope I do that these," he poked the space above Qui-Gon's heart with his stick, "hurts will be healed."

"I hope so, my Master, but I feel the pain is too great. I ...  Ow!"

Yoda's gimmer stick hit Qui-Gon's knee with a mighty whack.

"Give up so easily, my Padawan does not. Trained him to be better than that, I did. Fix this you will or whack you again, I shall."

"Yes, my Master." Qui-Gon scooted out of range before Yoda could give him another bruise.

They were dismissed mere seconds later.

No one spoke until they were out in the hall, the doors to the council room sealed shut behind them.

"Oh, Obi-Wan, Master Qui-Gon, I am so happy that this has been sorted out!" She hugged them each. She jumped about the hall, her excitement drawing frowns from the guards.

Qui-Gon smiled at her happiness. He too was pleased. Bant had escaped with her apprenticeship unharmed and no punishments or admonishments marked on her record. Her obvious conclusion that everything was now solved was dubious, however.

Master Levar came forward and squeezed Qui-Gon's arm, offering an encouraging smile. Her arm then caught a whirling Bant and held her still.

"Come Padawan Eerin," she commanded, the effect spoiled by her happy smile, "we must discuss your problem solving methods. I'm sure that you can celebrate with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan *later.*" She gave a half bow, "Mater Jinn, Padawan Kenobi. Good day to you."

In a flurry of robes she turned and headed to the elevators, tugging a struggling, over-excited Mon Calamarian behind her.

"I think we should go home and talk," Qui-Gon said, looking at their intertwined fingers.

Obi-Wan nodded, looking at his feet.

They walked in silence, both in body and mind. The training bond was muted; they were both shielding, needing their space as they digested the events of the past few days.

Qui-Gon mused about his fears, wondering how one determined woman could fix something that seemed so big and unsolvable in less than an hour. What was it that he had feared so much?

The answer struck him as they reached their own hallway. His control had been taken away. By Obi-Wan when he completely surrendered himself to his apprentice on board the Prolac and by Mace, Mundi and Poof who had threatened him into following a path he would never had considered two days ago.

Stripped of his control, his shield of armour for a larger part of his life, had done more damage than he would have thought possible. And he had lost Obi-Wan to boot.

They arrived after much thought and Obi-Wan palmed open the door to the apartment, letting go of Qui-Gon's hand as he stepped inside.

Qui-Gon followed him just inside the threshold, but went no further. The door shut and he rested his forehead against the cold metal.

Home at last after the ordeal before the Council, he found that he couldn't hide behind his 'I'm the Master and I know best' facade any longer. Now that the truth was known, he had a lot of explaining to do and a lot of ground to make up with Obi-Wan.

But he was puzzled as to where to draw the line in their relationship. Mace's words still caused a burning ache inside him. Teacher and lover? Could it be done and by him? Would Obi-Wan want him, despite his show of support in the chambers?

"Obi-Wan," he said his voice muffled slightly by the door pressed against his lips, "I think we should ... ahh!" he gasped as he was grabbed roughly from behind and whirled around, his body pushed into the door.

Obi-Wan pinned Qui-Gon against the cold metal, his hands pushing deep into Qui-Gon's shoulders in a strong, almost unbreakable grip.

Baring his teeth, Obi-Wan looked like a man possessed. He released one shoulder and pulled Qui-Gon's head down for a rough, punishing kiss.

Stepping back, letting go of Qui-Gon completely, Obi-Wan growled, "I'll talk, you listen. You are *mine*, Qui-Gon Jinn. Don't you dare do that to me again."

"Obi-Wan ..."

"No. No more excuses. No more Xanatos and ghosts from years past. This is just you and me. You. Me." Two fingers jabbed at Qui-Gon's chest and then his own.

"Your Knighthood ..." Qui-Gon protested.

"Means nothing to me if I don't have you to share it with me. Not as a companion, not just as a teacher, but in everyway that I need you." He leaned forward and captured Qui-Gon's lips again. "I. Need. You." He gasped between kisses.

"You promised me forever, Qui-Gon," he said as he moved backwards, breaking the kiss and giving them both space. "Are you a man of your word?"

"Obi-Wan, I hurt you, I ..."

"Because you love me, I understand that *now*. And we can deal with all that later. The past day has made me realise many things, and the most important one is that I can't function without you. I won't do it. I am yours just as much as you are mine. Regardless of the slip ups, the mistakes. I am yours. If you want me." The fire in his eyes and the desire that fuelled it struck Qui-Gon a stinging blow. Obi-Wan still loved him and wanted him.

"So, what's it going to be Qui-Gon? What do you want?"

Qui-Gon took it all back; their time on the Prolac was not the pivotal moment of their lives.

It was now.

"Let go of your fears, Qui-Gon." Obi-Wan pleaded softly. "I don't care about Mace, I just don't care. I love you and I want you. Come live in the moment with me." Obi-Wan held out his hand, green eyes misty now with unshed tears.

Qui-Gon looked into those eyes, remembering their shared happiness when they had found everything they needed and wanted in the arms of the other, and decided.

No more fear, no doubts.

He would live in the moment. With *his* Obi-Wan.


[Two days later.]

Qui-Gon answered the door dressed only in his robe, hair mussed and a love bite in plain visibility on his neck. He was startled to see Mace Windu standing in the hallway.

"My friend." Mace said bowing, but coming no closer.

"Mace ... I ... what are you doing here?"

"I've come to apologise. I said and did things that were wrong and I wanted to tell you how sorry I was. I never meant to cause so much hurt. I just didn't want to believe that it was love between you two. Because..."

"Because then you wouldn't have a chance with Obi-Wan, Mace?"

"No, Qui-Gon. Not Obi-Wan. It was you. I'm in love with you."


Line Challenge by The Emu: "The infatuation will end. Go to the boy. Tell him it's over."