"I'd believe in anything were it not for you
showing me, by just existing, only this is true:
I love you. Without question, I love you."

--Tim Rice, "The Road to El Dorado"


I love my Master. It's as simple as that. He's as necessary to me as breathing, eating, sleeping. Probably more.

Not that the Force or the Council gives a damn. The Force didn't let him live after the fight on Naboo because I love him. The Council doesn't let me stay with him because they understand.

They don't understand. They can't understand. Which is why I'm not telling them. I can just imagine Master Windu or Master Yoda's reaction if I were to tell them that I'd rather resign my knighthood than be separated from my Master. Weak, this makes me, Yoda would say. Vulnerable to the dark side, to be so afraid of losing him.


I'm not afraid. Not any more. I faced that particular demon while fighting the Sith, next while kneeling in misery on a stone-cold floor and watching my Master die. Fear doesn't motivate me now: it's more like a single-minded determination to be with him for however long the Force will allow it. It's a question of priorities more than anything else, and if I had to stop being a Jedi to achieve it, I'd damned well do it.

Fortunately, the Force isn't requiring that kind of sacrifice from me. Not yet, anyway.

I had an excellent teacher over the past thirteen years, so I've become adept at manipulating things to my advantage. Mind you, these manipulations harm no one unless it's myself, who could be out there zipping around the galaxy as a solitary Jedi Knight rescuing princesses and slaying dragons and negotiating boring treaties. Knightly reputations are built on such things, don't you know, and my Master said that I'd become a great Jedi Knight.

So what? I don't want to be great. Maybe I did once. Maybe. But not any more. I just want to be with him.

The Council lets us stay together because we're a good team, we get the job done. Period. No sentimentality there, no emotional entanglements. Jinn and Kenobi work well together. Always have, always will. Given the impermanence of things, that could change with the blink of an eye next week, but right now it's good. Really good. I've got no complaints. So what if I have to walk at his left shoulder, two paces behind him for the rest of whatever? As long as we're together, that's all that matters. And, actually, don't have to do that. I want to. Big difference there.

I never thought he'd die, you know? Not like that. We'd been through so much together and for so long... I guess that somewhere deep inside me I thought that he was invincible because we'd always fought our way clear of everything. We'd never lost. I knew that he was one of the best of us: the best swordsman, the best warrior, the best... Jedi, so who could touch him? Legends were being woven around him long before he chose me as his Padawan. I was flattered and honored when I found out that I was being included in those legends after becoming his Padawan.

His death rocked me to the core, made me question everything about the Order and our positions in it. Are we just puppets? Tools of Justice for the Chancellor to use? Or are we allowed to be men as well, with a whole slew of individual vulnerabilities, frailties, needs? What is passion and what is serenity, anyway?

I suspect that my answers to those questions will be years in coming. I don't dare talk about them with anyone–not even with him–because those sorts of philosophical musings will make even your own Jedi Master cast a wary, sideways glance your way. I'll keep my silence, thanks, rather than be subjected to the automatic inquisition that would follow such blasphemous queries. A Jedi as a mere man? Perish the thought. And yet, we can be hurt, crushed, shattered, killed–physically and otherwise–just like any other living being.

If my Master had died, I would not have gone with him. His death would not have shattered me, for he taught me to face the darkness within–times of inner agony when just the thought of living hurts more than anything, when dying emotionally or spiritually seems much easier than impaling yourself on your own lightsaber. I wouldn't have died with him, and one reason is because I'd have had to face him on the other side. Even after death, the last thing I'd ever want to do is disappoint him. I love him too much to ever disappoint him. To see that sadness in his eyes? That's not an option. Not in this world, not in the next.

Thankfully, I got my Master back, but my innocence is long gone. I thought he'd be there, you see? Still mentoring me, still teaching me, still sharing adventures for a long time after I was knighted. "Live in the moment," he told me over and over again. I tried to, but somewhere in the back of my mind was the overconfident voice of the child insisting that my all-powerful Master would be there as long as I needed him. Which is forever.

Yes, I know that's unrealistic. Impossible. Death comes to everyone and everything. But I thought....

I don't know what I thought. That the Force would deal more gently with us, maybe. That we were special because he is special, deserving special treatment. More than likely, however, I was simply victimized by my own naivete. Surprise, surprise, Kenobi: your Master is mortal and so are you.

I don't mind being mortal, as long as I can be with him.

* * *

My Master is standing over there... just over there...laughing at something one of the more attractive delegates has said to him. He's looking diplomatic and patient as ever... and I love him.

This is our first mission since his complete recovery. I stay in the shadows, not needed or wanted at the moment, and I watch him. It's been only a matter of weeks since he regained his feet and his stamina, reclaimed what the Sith nearly succeeded in destroying.

For the past six months, his life has been in my hands more than in anybody else's. The healers helped keep his body alive and cloned new lungs and other necessary organs, but it was the training bond we share that held him here. It yawned wide open on Naboo, stretching to nearly sever even as he died. I fell into it, grabbed at his spirit and his mind, and just refused to let go. He was balanced there for some time, distanced from the agony of the Sith's impalement and totally bewildered not to have become one with the Force when he awoke back on Coruscant to a herd of healers and smelly bacta and a Padawan-Knight who grinned a death's head grin of triumph before collapsing beside his bed because I'd not eaten or slept properly for ten days.

For six months, I've kept our bond wide open; monitoring my Master's every breath, sensing if he awakened in the night or so much as shifted in his bed. He let me see him fragile and frail and vulnerable to so much. Too much. He hated it, and I think it frightened him as well, just a little. But I knew that, together, we had the power to change that, to heal it, until he was what he was before Naboo. And I was right.

Was it hard for me to see him frail and vulnerable? Not as hard as facing my own unforgiving demon: what if I had failed to save him? After that, everything else was easy. Relatively speaking.

I saved him. I love him. We're together. What more is there?

He's just over there, his eyes crinkling at the corners as he laughs, his long fingers curved around a goblet. He won't drink what's in there; he periodically discards it and picks up another, to give the illusion that he's imbibing, but he's not. Always, he's in control of himself, his body, his mind. The liquor would not allow this and so, he won't drink.

I drink in the sight of him, instead. Shivering even as I take deep pleasure in the fact that he... just... is.

I know that my eyes are hungry, but he cannot see them, so why should I worry? I love him without physical passion (there is no passion.... is there?), and yes, there are times I want him so badly that it hurts. I channel those feelings and reactions elsewhere–into meditation, kata or sparring–for such things are inappropriate. I know that my Master loves me, but he would not welcome my hunger. If being celibate means that I get to keep him in my life, then I embrace that celibacy happily.

What do I get in return? I've made him promise never to leave me behind in a fight again. In the future, he'll let me stand and fight with him.

Pure and simple: that promise means that he'll let me love him. I won't let him forget it.

My Master is flirting now. I've watched him do this before. He lays a hand at the small of her back–which "her" or "him" has never mattered; over the years, I've seen him favor countless men and women with his touch. He bends so that his long hair brushes their cheek and his breath stirs their skin. His eyes hold theirs, making them feel as though they are the only person in the room, and theirs are the only words he hears.

I know it's nonsense. Even as those soulful blue eyes devour his latest conquest and he listens to whatever temptations she's suggesting, he's got an ear cocked to the surrounding conversation. I can count down the microclicks he will spend with her–300 to 0–as he never lets himself be claimed by anyone for too long. And so, it's 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... and then he's laying a hand on her shoulder, squeezing it slightly, running that same hand down her arm to capture her fingers and either kiss them or hold them against his heart just before he murmurs a gallant apology, bows slightly, and backs away.

She melts. Of course. Happens every time, no matter how young or old they are. I give an amused smile even as my Master leaves the latest feminine puddle and returns his attention to the delegates. I guess it's time for me to stop watching him and work my own brand of magic in the room.



I love my Padawan. How could I not? Yes, he's been knighted, but I'll think of him forever as my Padawan. I try not to call him that, I try to remember and most of the time I succeed. He doesn't seem to mind when I fail, nor do I mind when he calls me Master.

He saved my life. When I was told this, my first thought was, 'Of course he did,' as though it were the most natural thing in the world. And when I asked him how it was that he brought me back, he said quietly, "I never let you go."

He hasn't. Not once, over the last thirteen years. I am ashamed to admit that I cannot claim the same. I let him go. Repeatedly on our first mission together, before we were Master and Padawan, and once on Naboo.

It was a mistake I shall not repeat.

However long the Force grants me life on this level of existence, I will never leave Obi-Wan behind again. When I went to inform the Council that I wished to be assigned missions with this new-made knight, they forestalled me by announcing that it had already been decided to send Obi-Wan and I out as a team. No arguments were necessary. And so it is that Anakin is studying under Yoda and Mace's watchful gazes.

"Skywalker, your Padawan will be," Yoda announced.

"After we get through with him." Mace smiled tightly, his dark eyes narrow and determined. "He is willful and obstinate. He has much to learn about the ways of the Force, and of the Jedi."

And so it will be. Since I did not die on Naboo, Obi-Wan will not have to train Anakin. Given Mace's grim reaction to Anakin's attitude, more than once I've wanted to ask my apprentice, "Did you save me from death in order to save yourself from training the boy?" I've not dared to voice the question, for mock-fear of the answer.

One day, Anakin will be mine to train. It will be years before the child is allowed a lightsaber, much less a Master, and so I refuse to worry for that day. In the meantime, I am contented to live in the moment and be with Obi-Wan.

No, I am more than contented. I am happy. Over the past few months, I've come to feel as though I've found the other half of my soul.

He doesn't know this. It's not something I can tell him. But through our bond I feel his constant presence in my mind and count myself fortunate that he is with me. I don't know if he's aware of that bond; it's far closer than it should be. I probably should mention it to him and dissolve it, but–Force forgive me–I don't want to.

I want him.

The delegates prattle about their treaties and their fleeting importance in the universal scheme of things. I absorb their arguments easily and tuck them away for the negotiations next morning. Their motivations and reasoning are no different from that of the 5,000 other delegates I've dealt with over the years. Second verse, same as the first, and so my mind is free to concentrate on other things... such as the fact that Obi-Wan has been cornered by one of the many lovely courtesans serving this kingdom.

With no small amount of pride, I realize that my Padawan seems to be as adept as I am in evading these men and women. Common in every system, they are this side of wearisome, for all have the same intentions in mind: get the Jedi into bed. Lost in their fantasies, these people project power and mystique onto members of our Order: someone so controlled and mysterious must surely be a master at the art of making love?

Perhaps so, perhaps no.

Padawan are under their Master's protection and it's usually made clear to the kingdom or society to which we're sent that such approaches are not welcomed by the apprentice. That protection ends when the Padawan is knighted, and so it is that Obi-Wan has been sent into a different kind of battle.

Young knights sometimes think that this sort of attention is flattering and make the mistake of getting caught up in the masquerade. Like the courtesans, they confuse the magic with the magician, never stopping to consider that passion based in nothing more than infatuation and fleeting attraction will most likely end in tears. Sometimes, it ends in an embarrassing report to the Council, as well. Each knight must learn that their role may be that of an advisor, friend, negotiator, miracle-worker and yes, on occasion, magician. But lover? No.

Bowing my departure, I leave the group of delegates and work my way to the alcove where Obi-Wan has been lured. Even as I approach at an angle and strike up a conversation with one of the officers of the kingdom, I watch the woman who has cornered Obi-Wan lean against him and hear her murmur, "Knight Kenobi... Let me love you."

Clasping the woman gently by the shoulders, my Padawan steps back, out of her immediate circle. Smiling, he shakes his head and, in that singular voice that I know so very well, he murmurs, "I'm sorry, but that would be like offering water to a drowning man."

"You're loved, then?"

A slight bow. "Yes, m'lady. Very much so."

With a sigh, the coutesan flounces out of the alcove, leaving Obi-Wan to stroll back into the meeting hall proper, catch my eye, and grin. Obviously, he's suffer no ill effects from the aborted encounter. Reaching my side, he clasps his hands behind him, bows to the officer, and speaks the necessary pleasantries to join our conversation.

The conversation continues, and I participate even as my mind is racing. [Someone loves my Obi-Wan?] I rack my brain trying to figure out who this could be. [As far as I know, only Bant and I are close to him.] The thought of Obi-Wan and Bant... .It's impossible. Not just anatomically and biologically, but emotionally as well. The Calamarian and my Padawan are like brother and sister.

Perhaps it is someone Obi-Wan met while I was recuperating. If that is the case, then the announcement of this mission–and the one following it, as we will not be returning home between-times–should have upset my Padawan. At least a little. Separation from a new love is serious, is it not? I remember my own upsets at such separations, yet I've not been able to discern any turbulence in Obi-Wan.

Confused, I wonder who this lover is that instills such peace and confidence in my Padawan. The evening passes more quickly, in a blur of conversation and preparation with Obi-Wan remaining by my side. Reaching through our bond, I sense only his usual groundedness, calm, and deep affection. That affection has been there for me ever since I awoke after Naboo. Each time I sense it, it startles me anew with its intensity.

[Why don't you just ask him who he's been seeing?] I ask myself. The answer comes back, to no great surprise: I simply do not want to know. I do not want to give a name to the undeserving creature who holds my Obi-Wan's heart.

I love him, and we are together. I could not ask for more.

But still, I wonder.

* * *

I am a Jedi Master. More than that, I am a skilled negotiator, able to interpret body language and read meaning into myriad small details that others think meaningless. I am also a master of subtle communication and analyzing same. Over the past two weeks I have made it my business to read my Padawan.

Slowly and with great reluctance, I have been forced to reach a certain conclusion–one that even now I am struggling to accept. Not because it offends me, but because it excites and warms me. Because I scarcely dare believe what my training, instincts, and decades of experience are telling me is true.

Taking a mental and emotional step back from our relationship, I have watched Obi-Wan. What I have seen is:

Item: a fully vested Jedi who is no longer required to act as my Padawan. In short, I am no longer his responsibility. I am capable of and am expected to tend my own wardrobe, toilette, clothing, supplies, luggage, etc., yet Obi-Wan insists upon tending these has he always has.

Item: he offers to comb my hair for me, and then takes twice as long as is necessary to remove the snarls, pull it back, and fasten it. He... plays in it. At first, I thought I was mistaken. After being treated to this indulgence for the past ten days, I have accepted that there can be no mistake.

Item: he has made dressing me a meditation, despite my protests that I am perfectly happy and able dressing myself. Concentrating in the moment, he serves as my valet without embarrassment–which saves me being embarrassed even as I try to protest that this is not part of his duties. He's not servile. He's... I have no other word for it...loving.

Item: he makes sure I get enough rest, that I am awakened gently, and seems inordinately pleased that we have established a morning routine which includes kata first, then showers, and then breakfast. He does not indulge me; he simply caters to my needs while answering his own. His conversation is stimulating, the range of his topics astonishing, and he shows no discontentment at not being out on his own as a new-made knight. In short, this eager soul, this boy made man who has never been able to contain his dreams or his energy or his eagerness to become and BE a Jedi, seems perfectly happy just being with this old knight.

Conclusion: He takes care of me, and I take care of him. I love him, and I am beginning to think–no, to believe–that he loves me.

Now what?

* * *

My meeting with Mace in the corridor upon our return to Coruscant was by chance, as was my question. If I had thought about it beforehand, I never would have gathered the courage to ask. Too much of my heart was at stake, too many doubts could have been solidified if Mace's answer had been other than it was.

"When is Obi-Wan going to begin missions by himself?" I asked as we walked along, intent upon nothing more than reaching the dining room.

Mace looked startled. "While you were still recovering, Obi-Wan petitioned the Council that you be allowed to remain a team. We thought you knew this."

"I didn't know. But I'm glad of it."

That reply seemed to satisfy Mace, even as Obi-Wan's petition satisfied me more than Windu would ever know. The last piece of the puzzle locked into place in that moment: Obi-Wan was with me because he wished to be. My instincts and my interpretations of his behavior were not wrong: he loved me.



I don't know if I'll ever know what happened to change my Master's mind about the bond that we shared. All that I'm sure of is that from the moment he returned to our quarters one night, he was different. The way he looked at me was different, and I didn't know why. The warmth in his eyes, the way he leaned up against me while sampling the dinner I was making for us, the complete and utter contentment surrounding him... I'd never seen him like this and hesitated to ask its source. If he wanted me to know, he'd tell me.

Our dinner was quiet, with companionship more than conversation ruling the meal. Our silences have never been tense, and this one was no exception. The exception was in the way my Master touched my wrist to make a point, ruffled my hair as he rose to clear the table, and hugged me on the way out of our small kitchen. I could count on the fingers of one hand all of the times he's hugged me over the years, and I couldn't name one instance when this had happened in the past five years. A hand clasped across my shoulders in easy comradeship, yes. But a hug? Those had been left behind with my childhood.

Or so I thought.

I'm sure that I cast puzzled looks his way. He merely smiled and sent more affection through our bond. It was almost as if he knew it was open full throttle and either didn't care or was taking full advantage of it. But to what end?

Kneeling on his meditation mat before the huge plexiglass window that dominated our living space, my Master raised an eyebrow. "Join me?"

"Of course, Master." This was no different from what we did every night. So why were my palms sweating? Why was I tensing with trepidation as if I'd done something wrong? Something had shifted in our relationship–something my Master wasn't yet prepared to share. When he did share it, it was either going to be very good or very bad.

Taking a deep breath, I sought my center, aligned it with my Master's, and sank into that still place that was so familiar to me. Evening turned to night, the sun chased away to be replaced with the semi-darkness that Coruscant nights had long become. We never bothered with lights–had no need for them as the skyscrapers and lines of traffic lit the room. And still my Master meditated, and I with him.

He left his meditation before I left mine. I could feel him return to his normal level of consciousness, center himself, and rise. I was totally unprepared for what he did next.

Kneeling behind me, as close as possible with his thighs splayed out on either side of me, my Master slid his hands around my hips and continued the journey to spread his fingers across my thighs and rest there. His bearded cheek lay against mine, even as he pressed his lips to my temple. A wave of pure love washed through our bond, making me gasp with its intensity and rock back against his chest.

"I love you, Obi-Wan."

The words were murmured softly into my ear, and his beard tickled the sensitive skin. When I turned my head, my eyes widened with shock and disbelief, he grasped my chin, tilted his head, and kissed me.

He smelled and tasted like himself–scent and sensations so familiar that they seemed to have always been with me, even as a part of myself. My lips moved under his and my fingers tangled themselves in his hair, demanding that his touch continue, that he not draw away and leave this unfulfilled between us.

In a blaze of inner light, the bond expanded to fill my mind. In that moment, he was fully inside me, completely and eternally. Opening my eyes, I met his gaze with wonder and saw myself reflected back. Even as he was in my mind, I was in his as well. Seeing through his eyes, I knew myself beautiful, wanted, cherished. And claimed. For that was what this was, nothing less.

"Mine," he whispered against my lips, and I felt the bond tilt and expand even further.

I made room for him inside me, opening to him and making spaces for him. Large as he was, he filled me completely, taking what was his and more–all that I had to offer. All that I had been, could be, would be was his, and he knew it. I knew it as well. And I was not arguing.

I understood, at long last, why my Master had rejected physical coupling. Its limited intimacy paled compared to what he offered me now. One kiss–one touch of our lips anchored both of us and let the bond expand into the innermost recesses of both our minds. One kiss was all it took to entwine us in a lifebond that would never allow him to leave me again.

"Qui-Gon," I whispered–prayer, benediction, and promise.

"Padawan," he whispered in return, his commitment no less deep.

We slept entwined that night, as we would for all the nights to come. Three weeks later, we attended another embassy gathering, where I worked the room and saw my Master cornered by a courtesan. Foolishly thinking that he might need rescuing, I made my way to his side in time to hear his reply to her proposition.

" offering water to a drowning man." He bowed slightly, exchanging a warm smile with me as I came to stand beside him.

The woman glared up at him, then slid her glance to me. "The two of you are partnered?"

"Very much so."

She sighed. "What a waste."

Bowing, I murmured, "I assure you, m'lady, it is not wasted."

Tilting her nose, the woman gathering her skirts and moved past us. Watching her go, I leaned into my love. Mine.

Let the world and the Council be ignorant, let them misunderstand what we share. Qui-Gon's mind is entwined with mine constantly. Touching, we are always touched. Our intimacy is complete and constant; I want and need no other lover, and neither does he.

I love my Master. It's as simple as that.


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