Upon returning to Coruscant, Obi-Wan found that his life and his emotions had become permanently divided into before Dalcarta and after Dalcarta. Qui-Gon didn't seem to be very much affected by his previous death and resurrection, but Obi-Wan definitely had been. After receiving a glimpse of what life without Qui-Gon would be like, Obi-Wan could close neither his heart nor his eyes to the love he bore for his Master. Something had awakened within him to the point that he now craved every moment of being with the older man, in whatever form their togetherness might take.

The trip home was made without incident, but Obi-Wan found that he couldn't keep his eyes nor his thoughts off of Qui-Gon. He got hard, just watching his Master. His body was responding as it never had before, letting him know without question what it wanted. But Qui-Gon had told Obi-Wan to meditate on his new feelings until Obi-Wan could be certain of what, exactly, he wanted. The Padawan had to respect that directive, and not act on what he immediately felt until he understood all of it.

//Is an intimate relationship between a Master and a Padawan even permitted?/ Obi-Wan wondered. He thought it must be, as Qui-Gon hadn't refused him unequivocally, but Obi-Wan felt a strange reluctance to voice the question so blatantly. Instead of asking, he began researching the matter almost the moment their ship settled back on Coruscant. Then, he discovered that Master/Padawan relationship weren't approved or disapproved: they simply weren't mentioned in the records, period.

He tried to think of any objections Qui-Gon might have to initiating a relationship with his own Padawan. First came the Master's age. A few minutes' searching revealed that Qui-Gon was about half-way through his life. //So we'll die about the same time unless one of us is struck down in battle.// That meant age wasn't an issue, which brought Obi-Wan a sense of comfort, but a number of other unknowns brought much trepidation. Unknowns such as whether Qui-Gon wanted this as much as Obi-Wan; whether he would even consider setting aside his celibacy; whether he would consider any of this until Obi-Wan was knighted; whether the Council would interfere with any intimate relations they might want to begin; if the gossipmongers in the Temple would damn the relationship as soon as they learned of it (for Obi-Wan sensed that neither Jedi would want to keep their relationship a secret), and thus caused even more problems.

//I wish I could talk to someone about this. My Master would have been my first choice, but I'm supposed to be meditating alone about this. And what might happen between us is private, so there's really no one I can talk to about it.... Except Tawn. If he's in Temple.//

Tawn, Obi-Wan's first choice for a lover at eighteen. Tawn, whom he had never bedded, but who seemed to have accepted easily that Obi-Wan's desires lay elsewhere, for all that Tawn's own desire for Qui-Gon's Padawan remained steady. Steady it may have been, but the Knight was mature enough and respected Obi-Wan enough to not let his attraction interfere with the friendship they had maintained over the years.

Leaving the archives, Obi-Wan checked the residence kiosk and found that Tawn was in Temple. Calling his quarters, Obi-Wan spoke briefly with the Knight's new Padawan and was directed to find Tawn just finishing a workout session with Master Qui-Gon Jinn. Obi-Wan walked into the practice salle in time to see the two men completing what appeared to have been an extensive battle. Disengaging their weapons, they bowed formally before extinguishing the lightsabers and clasping arms.

"Well fought, Tawn." Qui-Gon smiled across at the other man. "I'm sorry that Obi-Wan wasn't around to accommodate you."

"When one cannot take down the Padawan, being thoroughly trounced by the Master is always preferable," Tawn assured him, following the line of Qui-Gon's gaze and nodding a greeting at Obi-Wan, who was watching their exchange and waiting patiently on the edge of the mat.

"Padawan, you were missed," said Qui-Gon, catching the towel Obi-Wan threw to him and moving to his side, "but I think that I've given Tawn much ammunition for the next time you spar together."

Obi-Wan bowed slightly. "I'll look forward to being... trounced. Tawn, I came to see if you wanted to join me for mid-day meal. And you as well, Master, if you're free?"

Qui-Gon shook his head. "Master Turin roped me into a presentation for her Advanced Battleforms at fourteenth hour."

"You mean that you have to go and do this all over again, so to speak?" Tawn said incredulously.

"Yes, but I don't mind. Such sessions are far less arduous than many missions Obi-Wan and I have shared." Sliding an arm around his Padawan's shoulders, he settled Obi-Wan beneath his arm in a tight hug.

Obi-Wan returned the hug with enthusiasm, no matter the sweat-drenched tunic and the damp arm claiming him. Tawn arched an eyebrow at Obi-Wan at the unusually open show of affection. The Padawan in question grinned all the wider, but Tawn dared not ask questions with Qui-Gon standing right there.

"I'll leave the two of you to your meal and head for the showers," said the Master. "Obi-Wan, I'll see you tonight for evening meal?"

"Yes, Master."

Knight and Padawan watched Qui-Gon go, waiting until he was well out of earshot before turning to each other with both trying to talk at once.

"Obi-Wan, your auras are fair singing together. What's going on?"

"Tawn, you won't believe what happened on Dalcarta--"

Grabbing his own towel, Tawn all but dragged Obi-Wan out of the salle. "I'll change in quarters before we go to mid-meal, while you spill what's happened."

By the time they reached the commissary, Obi-Wan had updated Tawn regarding his own vow of chastity or celibacy ("Take your pick as to the definition"), and why, Qui-Gon's death and revival, and Obi-Wan's resulting realizations.

"I love him and I want him. Beyond that, I don't know a thing," said Obi-Wan over his tray. They had settled into a private corner of the room, guaranteed to be undisturbed as Tawn used his Knight status to weave a "don't come here" temporary Force shield around them. Private matters were being discussed; no intruders were welcome.

"You know that he's not against it," Tawn pointed out. "So you've got a chance no matter what you decide."

"I wish I could talk to him about that," Obi-Wan said wistfully. "It would help to know my options. I mean, does he want only a casual affair or to maintain the status quo until I'm knighted? Does he want a partnership after I'm knighted? Does he have something a little longer in mind, no matter when we begin?"

"I don't think Qui-Gon has any expectations in mind," Tawn said slowly. "Were I in his place, and if I loved you as much as he does, I'd want whatever you wanted."

"That won't work, not with someone as mentally strong and independent as Qui-Gon. He can sacrifice for a mission and set aside his own desires to follow the will of the Force, but I'd never want him to sacrifice himself for me and follow only my will."

Tawn scowled. "That's not what I meant. I'm explaining it badly. What I mean is that I think this situation must be just as new to Master Qui-Gon as it is to you, and he probably doesn't have any pre-conceived notions as to what the two of you should or shouldn't do. I think he's asked you to figure out what you're feeling behind the desire so that the two of you can decide together what to do about it. He's probably going to subject himself to the same meditations he expects you to complete."

Obi-Wan stirred his mazj pudding around in circles, more to give his spoon something to do than anything else. "You know, my Master and you have both told me that when it's right with someone, I'll know it. But all I've had are relationships that started off good but soon didn't feel right, no matter how much I wished differently. What if this is the same, and it goes just as sour with Qui-Gon as my affair with Sh'Taka?"

Tawn laughed outright. "Hey, hold it right there. I can't see any affair you might have with your Master ending with the sort of behavior Sh'Taka subjects everyone to. You and Qui-Gon are friends as well as Master and Padawan. I don't think either of you would ever do anything to risk that, or wreck it."

"But how do I know if it's the real thing, or if it's just hormonal? If it's the latter, then it's not right to treat Qui-Gon that way."

"And what if it *is* right, Obi-Wan? What then?"

Obi-Wan's eyes went wide. "That's just as scary to contemplate."

"Some dreams are scary when they start to come true," Tawn admitted slowly, "but what is it, exactly, that you find so scary about your Master?"

"I don't know...." Obi-Wan said thoughtfully. "It's not scary, precisely. It's one of those things I guess I need to meditate on, because it's nothing I can really put into words yet. It's more a feeling. I'm drawn to him, but I'm also holding back. I can't explain it. I trust him as my master and mentor, teacher, guide, father, friend. Why not also as my lover?"

"That's a question I can't answer for you," Tawn said. "I can answer from the Order's perspective, but not from whatever perspective you're holding inside of you."

"So answer from the Order's perspective and let me see if that helps," said Obi-Wan."

"Masters can't take advantage of apprentices, or be seen as doing so," Tawn observed. "It's as simple as that. Besides that, from what I've seen, Qui-Gon isn't someone who enters into any sort of relationship lightly. He's a deeply private, reserved man who comes across as aloof--even cold--to many outside observers. I have to be honest with you, Obi-Wan: many Knights and Masters think that it's an absolute miracle that you've gotten as close to him as you have. I personally think that the Force ordained it, that you were meant to be with him."

"Then does that mean we're meant to be lovers, too?"

"You're the only one who can figure that out, Padawan," said Tawn in a reasonable imitation of Qui-Gon himself. Obi-Wan threw a qualla berry at his friend, who snatched it from the air and promptly ate it.

"Hey," Tawn said, switching back to his own voice, "you know as well as I do that when you're in doubt as to the proper way to proceed, it's usually wise to wait until the proper way reveals itself."

"All I'm certain of is that I want him," Obi-Wan admitted. "Beyond that, my knowledge and the future is just too murky." He shook his head ruefully. "I can see why he told me to meditate on this. Initiating an affair with one's Master isn't the same or as simple as choosing another Padawan or a Knight and falling into bed after a few drinks. I couldn't do that with my Master. I wouldn't *want* to do that with him.

"Perhaps it will all come clear when you're knighted," Tawn suggested. "Until then, no matter what happens you're still his Padawan. You can be with him, focus on him and learn about him, not just as a Jedi Master, but as a man."

"Yeah," Obi-Wan agreed. "And I can tell my hormones to shut up, that I need to learn a little bit more about what I'm feeling beyond this initial wanting. That's a choice I can live with."

Tawn nodded. "If you do that, it shouldn't rock things between you too much. At the same time, it will give you the chance to grow closer. In the meantime...." Tawn arched an eyebrow, asking Obi-Wan to finish the thought.

"In the meantime, I'm still celibate," Obi-Wan said with a sort of half-serious gloom. "But like my Master says, there are worse things than waking up alone."

As the weeks passed, Obi-Wan eventually settled into a celibate sort of intimacy with Qui-Gon Jinn, even as his Padawan duties took on another level of meaning, another layer of caring. Touching became more frequent between them, with Obi-Wan laying a hand on his Master's arm to direct his attention, or sweeping back a strand of hair that had gotten caught in Qui-Gon's beard, or leaning up against him in the practice salle as they watched the other Padawans and Masters spar. Caring in the moment became much easier since Obi-Wan had learned how swiftly his Master might be taken from him.

Qui-Gon seemed to welcome the newly initiated touching, sliding a hand across Obi-Wan's hip to anchor him more firmly against him, offering a private smile meant only for his Padawan when Obi-Wan touched him in any way, and offering many of his own, small touches in return.

Three months later saw them on a hopeless, bloody mission to Kalen. The filthy, unwashed clan leaders spread out their animal-hide maps and snarled at one another over a huge rough-hewn round table, while the clans themselves ambushed and hacked at one another in the treacherous mountain terrain surrounding the city stronghold. The wounded were a neverending stream taken into the healers' tower where they were placed on cots side-by-side. The patients spat and swore at one another, lurched off of the cots and regularly tried to strangle each other or plant daggers in the enemy's ribs.

Negotiations were hopeless. Qui-Gon knew it, and Obi-Wan knew it as well, without having to ask. If these barbarians were as bent on self-destruction as they seemed to be, there was little two Jedi could do to change their minds. Wrapping detachment about themselves as they wrapped up in their cloaks, the two men rose at dawn to move through the lingering mist, climb the central tower, and began yet another endless day in service to the Force and the Council which had ordered them there as a last-ditch effort before the Senate expelled this world from the Republic. Entering the negotiation chamber, the two Jedi wordlessly reached for each other, grounded in the Force, and deliberately strengthened the bond between them.

//Your touch is the only gentle thing in this world,// Qui-Gon told Obi-Wan gratefully before taking his place at the head of the table and wearily turning his attention to the latest bellowed petition, delivered via yet another animal skin cast upon the table, with a blood-encrusted knife slammed through it to anchor it. Qui-Gon's expression never changed, but Obi-Wan felt him flinch through their bond at the strong vibration of pain and torment lingering on the blade.

Many non-productive hours later, the sun began to set and the first snow of the season began to fall. Obi-Wan left the tower to make his way past the clan dregs who were camping in the courtyard and into the cold, damp chamber the Jedi had been assigned on the edge of the stronghold. He had a fire blazing, soup prepared, and an unleavened bread nearly done when Qui-Gon ducked through the low, narrow door. The snow came in with him, swirling around his cloak and boots before he closed the door and shook out his cloak. Leaning against the door for a moment, he bowed his head and heaved a great sigh.

"I think we're done here, Padawan."

"You've given up, then?"

"Balog challenged Talka a few minutes ago," Qui-Gon explained, crossing to the fire and settling on the bed of furs they'd been given in place of a bed. "Talka leaped across the table to take up the challenge. The chieftains ended up slitting each other's throats and the negotiation chamber is drenched with their blood. When I left, their clansmen had already broken the treaty table and were battling it out


"I'm sure their selected deities will welcome them," the older man agreed softly, with no trace of bitterness or sorrow, either.

"Are *you* all right?" Obi-Wan asked before handing his Master a bowl of soup and a platter of bread.

"I'm fine; they were focused on themselves. Even had they not been, physically defending myself would have been simplicity itself. The emotional barrage these past two weeks is something else again." He eyed Obi-Wan as the younger man settled across from him with his own portion. "How are you doing?"

"I'm happy to hear that we're going home. You've definitely given up?"

"The heads of the delegation are dead," Qui-Gon pointed out. "By mid-night, so will the other negotiators. Without them, we can do nothing here. Even with them, we were still doing nothing."

Finishing his meal in short order, the Master shrugged out of his cloak as the heat of the fire and a good meal finally began to penetrate the chill. Lying on his back, he stared up at the rafters while Obi-Wan finished eating. The light of the fire threw the Master's face into stark relief, emphasizing the crooked, yet regal nose. His hair fanned out over the skins, while his eyes glittered in the half-light. There were shadows under those eyes, Obi-Wan knew, for all that the firelight masked them. //He's set to brooding, about lives lost and the senselessness of such battles. Can't have that... he needs to rest in mind as well as body.//

"I found some massage oil in our packs this afternoon," Obi-Wan commented, setting aside the empty bowls. "Would you like a backrub, Master?"

The warm smile that Qui-Gon gave him left no doubt what the Master wanted. Sitting up, the older man immediately raked his tunics up over his head, unbuckled and slipped out of his boots, and shimmied out of his leggings. Obi-Wan laughed at the speed with which the older man achieved nakedness, rolled onto his stomach, and waited for his Padawan's ministrations. Retrieving the oil and a hairbrush, Obi-Wan straddled Qui-Gon's hips, then reached for the tie securing the older man's hair. Resting his head on his arms, Qui-Gon murmured his approval as Obi-Wan gathered the thick mane and began brushing it. Long, firm strokes convinced the tangles that they needed to leave and coaxed the big body beneath his hands to begin relaxing.

"I really don't deserve you," Qui-Gon said, his voice muffled by the furs.

Obi-Wan chuckled. "Remember this moment the next time you're pounding me into mush in the salle."

Setting aside the mane, Obi-Wan took up the massage oil and poured out a generous handful. Warming it in his hands, he then slathered it across the broad back before going back for two more handfuls. The thick muscles were far harder than they should have been, and Obi-Wan spent many minutes digging fingers and thumbs into frozen pressure points, coaxing their release. Qui-Gon grunted under his ministrations, using yet another variation of their special Master/Padawan communication to let Obi-Wan know when he'd Obi-Wan had found a particularly tight area. The older man groaned long and hard when Obi-Wan finally began kneading his shoulders in earnest, spending long minutes there until moving on to his back, proper. He took his time, enjoying the feel and play of the muscles beneath his hands, knowing that his Master was sinking down into the strokes and thoroughly enjoying being touched. He finished the back, only to move on to the arms, the buttocks and the legs, with his Master growing ever more boneless as the session progressed. A deep, steady breathing had replaced the tense hitchings of his breath when Qui-Gon's muscles had been locked.

"Roll over?" Obi-Wan asked softly a few minutes later, uncertain if Qui-Gon was even still awake.

He was, and he did as Obi-Wan requested, turning over on the pelts and revealing his half-erection. Obi-Wan's heart skipped a beat to see his Master's arousal revealed, to mentally register how well-endowed the man was and estimate how much larger he'd grow.

//My touch did that to him?// His gaze skittered up to his Master's face, but Qui-Gon's eyes were closed. Giving a deep sigh, the older man tucked his hands beneath his head and stretched like a cat, all but purring. Grinning, Obi-Wan took up the massage oil once more to drizzle it boldly across his Master's chest and ribcage.

Qui-Gon gasped at the contact with the cold oil, opened his eyes and bolted half upright. His hands automatically went to his chest, but Obi-Wan's were there first, spreading the oil and pushing him back down.

"Relax, Master." He laughed softly. "Let me finish."

"That was *cold*, Obi-Wan."

"I couldn't resist. You looked so... satisfied."

Settling back on the furs, Qui-Gon resumed his pose but didn't close his eyes. "I thought satisfaction was the purpose of this exercise."

"Relaxation is," the younger man contradicted, still grinning as he trailed his hands firmly across Qui-Gon's collarbones and down his arms. "If I wanted to satisfy you, I'd make love to you."

His Master's breathing hitched, then quickened. The erection filled and lifted a bit more. Ignoring both, Obi-Wan concentrated on finishing the massage, on tending every inch of the long, beloved body beneath his hands. Concentrated on driving out the tensions created by themadness of the past two weeks, on just taking care of his Master with no further expectations, demands, or desires. //Just let me love you.//

His Master's arousal grew even further under Obi-Wan's ministrations, with Obi-Wan pointedly avoiding that particular area. Obi-Wan watched, fascinated, as the sac beneath the ever-filling organ drew up, needful and taut.

//Is that because I'm touching him, or simply because he's being touched?// he wondered, carefully shielding the thought from the open bond he and Qui-Gon had maintained on this mission. He sensed that if should he ask Qui-Gon would answer honestly. Obi-Wan decided that, perversely perhaps, he wanted the answer to remain a mystery for now.

Working his way down the long, well-muscled arms and legs, Obi-Wan finished by massaging his Master's feet and then his toes. Returning to the long arms, he took up each finger, rubbed and pulled at it. Obi-Wan could feel the heaviness in limbs now; Qui-Gon was making him do all of the work, which was as it should be. He could feel the utter relaxation and sleepiness tugging at the older man. Glancing up, Obi-Wan saw that his Master's eyes had closed once more, while his breathing had steadied. His need was still more than evident, standing proudly in the firelight, but Obi-Wan sensed that the urgency was not great and knew that the erection would fade with sleep.

Recapping what remained of the oil, Obi-Wan set it aside and contemplated the long, perfect form before him. He couldn't remember ever having had the chance to see his Master totally relaxed and naked before. Yes, he'd seen Qui-Gon asleep and had seen him at rest. Had seen him in the shower and towelling off. But this vision was a rare treat, indeed. He took a moment to memorize the shine and glow of Qui-Gon's skin--far more skin than anyone ought to have, and which covered a body that was so tall and so strongly built that Obi-Wan felt himself harden at the sight.

What would it be like to be enfolded, covered, possessed by that heavy body? He knew what his Master's hugs felt like; he cherished every one that wrapped him in the pair of warm, safe arms that had protected and guided him every day for the past nearly ten years.

Being possessed wasn't the same as being protected--far from it--and Obi-Wan found that he craved the possession. He had seen his Master many times in the passion of battle. What would the man be like in the throes of making love? Would he be one to dominate and control, or one to give generously in equal measure with his partner? Or would he be something else in bed? There was no way to know, but Obi-Wan knew that Qui-Gon was well aware of his size, and how it could intimidate. Damage, even. He could pull back that intimidation, to gentle an animal or a child, to reassure someone they were rescuing, to convince them to trust him. But he could also take full advantage of it, to push back an enemy, to give them pause, to make them fear for their own safety simply by crowding their space. No lightsaber was needed; it was all a state of mind. Qui-Gon could be a formidable opponent, in the salle and on the battlefield. Obi-Wan had no doubt that, should the older man wish it, he could be a formidable lover as well.

//I've always been the one to lead in a relationship,// Obi-Wan reflected. //Should my Master ask it--should he demand it--could I submit to him as his lover as I've submitted to him as his Padawan?//

It was a disturbing question, one for which there was no immediate answer. Obi-Wan simply had no experience being a submissive lover. It had never been asked of him, since those he'd bedded had wanted him to dominate. Had his Master's directive on Dalcarta that he meditate upon his feelings and expectations regarding any possible relationship with his Master included this consideration?

//Possibly,// Obi-Wan reflected. //No, let's make that probably.// This was, after all, the directive of an experience--if celibate--Master. //And just because he's celibate now doesn't mean he has been all of his life. I know that he hasn't been all of his life. He oozes so much sexuality, there's just no way he could be inexperienced.//

Obi-Wan felt that certainty straight through to the bond. No, Qui-Gon was completely aware of the effect he had on others. Should he choose to melt Obi-Wan into puddles simply by kissing him where he stood Obi-Wan had no doubt that the choice would be made reality.

//Any man who knows he's erect and rolls over in front of another man, only to stretch and purr like that.... My Master knew damn well what he was doing.// Rocking back on his heels, Obi-Wan thought hard for a moment. To initiate a sexual relationship with his Master, Obi-Wan was beginning to realize, was to wake a sleeping jykar. //He really meant what he said, that I should consider what I want from him. Maybe I should also ask myself what he might want from me.//

Shivering slightly at that thought, and damping down his own arousal, Obi-Wan stored his musings away until such time as they'd returned to the Temple and he could meditate more completely on them. His Master's erection mocked him, almost, to the point that Obi-Wan couldn't resist leaning over and placing a soft kiss on the tip. Breathing deeply, he smelled his Master's musk--a scent immediately familiar and somehow comforting. It as all he dared to do without Qui-Gon's express permission and consent.

//Not only that,// he reflected, //I don't think I'm ready to deal with this jykar once its awake.//

Getting to his feet, he gathered stray furs and settled them over his Master, effectively removing temptation from his sight. A few minutes later, after preparing for sleep and stripping off his own robes, Obi-Wan slid beneath the furs, rearranged them, and snuggled up against Qui-Gon. A long arm snaked across his middle as his Master rolled over in his sleep and reached for his companion. Obi-Wan found himself snugged tightly up against a warm body, with his Master's obvious need pressing against the small of his back. Obi-Wan ground his teeth as that need found a happy echo in his own body.

//Now is not a good time,// he reminded himself with some reluctance. Entwining his fingers with Qui-Gon's across his chest, he contented himself with just being held and forced himself down into sleep.



"What have you learned?" asked Yoda, meeting Obi-Wan's gaze with a smile. On this, his 22nd Naming Day, Obi-Wan had been scheduled for their annual meeting, alone. Yoda left his Council chair during these meetings. He consulted with his victim eye-to-eye while seated on a cushioned platform in his private chamber with his legs stuck straight out before him and his gimer stick within easy reach beside him.

There was no hiding from Master Yoda; no lying to him, either. After observing the obvious affection and frequent public touching between Master Jinn and Padawan Kenobi, the Temple gossip chain had decided recently that the two Jedi had become lovers. Yoda was perhaps the only one besides the two Jedi in question who knew that they were not, since the first order of business during these private interviews was to drop all of one's shields. Obi-Wan had done so the moment the chamber doors had slid closed behind him, holding Yoda's gaze and crossing the short distance to kneel before the old Master. Prevarication and avoidance was allowed before the Council, never before the ancient one. This bothered some Padawans, but Obi-Wan was not among them.

The Initiate Obi-Wan had been had memories of being the same height as Yoda for a very long time. He'd despaired of ever growing, and the old troll assuring him repeatedly, with more patience that Obi-Wan thought he would ever have, "Much taller than me will you be." Yoda had been right, and Obi-Wan cherished the memory of a Master who had understood a little boy's fears and had offered reassurance, rather than teasing or admonishing him that fear led to the Dark side as others had done.

He couldn't remember a time when Yoda hadn't been in his life; the Master's gravelly voice seemed entwined with the very midichlorians singing through Obi-Wan's blood and with the Force itself. Yoda had been one of Obi-Wan's first friends before he'd become his first Master; why would Obi-Wan have resisted dropping his shields before the one who'd known him from the beginning? Even if Yoda wasn't already aware of all of the shadows inside this Padawan, nothing the Master could find would surprise him.

"Master, I believe that I've learned most of the lessons that the Temple, my Master, and our missions have taught me so far. Right now, I am learning how to wait for what I want, as well as to work for it."

"Want Qui-Gon, you do," Yoda observed bluntly. "Know if having would be as good as wanting, you do not. Attractive man your Master is, hmm? But learn to be swayed not by externals, you must."

Obi-Wan bowed and touched his forehead to the carpeting. "As always, Master, you express what leaves me tongue-tied."

"A warrior you are, Obi-Wan. Not a philosopher."

Obi-Wan straightened and grinned at that, remembering a time when he had pestered Yoda with questions--"Why is the sky blue? Why is space black? Are stars hot? Where did all of the animals on Coruscant go?"

"Force philosopher you must become to discover answers to your questions," Yoda had predicted. "Bother your old Master with them then, you will not."

Half-closing his eyes, Yoda nodded. "More questions you should ask of yourself now. More questions you have to answer than you know."

"The more I learn, the less I feel that I know," Obi-Wan admitted.

"Know everything we cannot," said Yoda, wisping his fingers down Obi-Wan's braid. "Soon, a Knight you will be. Even more questions will you have."

"Was it so for you, Master?"

He nodded. "It is so for all of us. More for you, perhaps, who would tie your soul to a jykar."

Obi-Wan blushed to the roots of his hair, knowing that the old Master had caught his thoughts of becoming Qui-Gon's lover.

"Embarrassed you must not be," Yoda scolded with a smirk. "When 800 years old you are, matters of love and biology will be boring. What other inner lessons have you?"

"I feel that I'm growing closer to knowing who and what... and whose... I am. Or want to be. When I was younger, my foundation was you and the creche, then the Initiates' Tower and our lessons there. Now, my foundation is my Master."

"Foundation is *not* your Master." Yoda gave a sharp Force yank on the Padawan braid, and Obi-Wan winced. "When knight you are, other foundation must you seek. Stronger foundation is found within. *Not* without, Padawan Kenobi."

"I don't understand, Master--"

"You will." Yoda nodded his satisfaction and waved his hand in sudden dismissal. "Pleased I am with your progress, Obi-Wan. "Tell your Master, I will."

And the interview was at an end. Obi-Wan had countless questions when he left; questions he knew that Yoda had no intentions of answering. "Go within," he would have said, which meant that the answers were for Obi-Wan to seek alone, regardless that they might be a lifetime in coming.

Every year, it had been the same. /When 800 years old I am, interviews will I still have with him, hmmm?/


"Obi-Wan, I can't keep giving you rocks for your Naming Day," Qui-Gon said from where he was leaning with his arms crossed against the doorframe leading into Obi-Wan's sleep-chamber.

The younger man ran his fingers over the reticulated gemstone, enjoying the way the dark blue lightning flashed in the light blue foundation, rather like his Master's eyes. "But I like rocks."

"You must have something else for your special day," Qui-Gon insisted.

He looked up at his Master and grinned. "I'm having something else. We're home at the Temple, no one is firing at us, we're clean, we've gotten enough sleep over the past few days and plenty of good food. I'm comfortable, not cold or wet or muddy or sick, I haven't broken anything lately, and we're together."

"Obi-Wan, that's not what I--!"

"If you'd kiss me, Master, my day would be complete." He made the observation softly, conversationally as he stroked his new rock, and then waited to see what would happen.

Qui-Gon looked startled. The startled look was then replaced with something else. Something...almost predatory.

Obi-Wan widened his eyes when his Master unfolded his arms, pushed away from the doorframe, and stalked.... yes, stalked... over to join Obi-Wan at the dresser where he was installing the new stone among the others that Qui-Gon had given him. No one but a predator on some distant planet or other had ever looked at Obi-Wan the way his Master was looking at him now.

/Is this what it feels like to be prey?/ he wondered as Qui-Gon invaded his personal space and loomed over him.

/Yes,/ came the answer through the bond, definitely a hungry purr.

Obi-Wan's mouth went dry, and he seriously thought of backing up a step or two. The bond sizzled, desire exploding from both sides as Qui-Gon held his gaze. A large hand came up to smooth down his cheek. He shivered to feel the smoldering need behind it. Bending slightly, Qui-Gon tilted Obi-Wan's chin and touched his lips to his Padawan's.

/Warm. Dry,/ Obi-Wan thought before he remembered to kiss his Master back. Sliding an arm beneath Qui-Gon's mane, he leaned closer to deepen the contact.

Growling, Qui-Gon slid an arm about his waist. His lips moved over Obi-Wan's, firm in their exploration but not all that demanding. He simply kissed his Padawan, and let Obi-Wan kiss him back. The moment extended, stretched, and went on and on until, eventually, their bodies' demands required that they breathe which they did, in unison, sharing the breath they took between them.

Pressing even closer, Qui-Gon cupped Obi-Wan's jaw between his hands, nipped the end of his nose, and kissed him again. Long fingers caressed Obi-Wan's ears, extending the intimacy of the kiss to one of Obi-Wan's most sensitive areas. A jolt flashed from ear to groin, and Obi-Wan gasped, clung closer out of pure reaction and bit Qui-Gon's lip only to begin suck on it furiously.

Qui-Gon pulled back from the kiss, amusement in his eyes, but his fingers were still teasing Obi-Wan's earlobes. "You liked that?"

"Gods, yes!" Obi-Wan managed, releasing his Master, stepping out of range of those hands that made his skin tingle, and shaking his head as if to clear it. He'd never been kissed like that, not with such clinging affect, and he was instantly, painfully hard, wanting nothing more than to tackle his Master onto the bed or the floor--it didn't matter, so long as Qui-Gon nuzzled his ears again. "Uh... should I apologize?"

Laughing softly, Qui-Gon pursued his Padawan, all but pressing him up against the plasteel wall until they were plastered together, from chest to hip. One long finger reached up, to caress the shell of his ear. "Your ears are that sensitive?"

"Oh, yeah...." He moaned and tilted his head when his Master leaned closer, captured an earlobe between his teeth, and began suckling in imitation of what Obi-Wan had done earlier to Qui-Gon's own lip. Between the sensation and the noises, Obi-Wan had to choose between two instinctive reactions: trying to climb his Master, or sinking bonelessly down onto the carpeting. He gave in to the latter impulse, only to find his Master's arms had entwined around him. Qui-Gon was not only supporting him; he was also effectively preventing his Padawan's escape. /Like I want to escape?/

"What happens if I... do this?" A curious tongue blazed a trail from Obi-Wan's ear down his neck. His tunic was pulled back and his collarbone was thoroughly explored, nipped and nibbled and lapped as though Qui-Gon were trying to map it for posterity.

Obi-Wan rubbed himself against his Master's thigh, which had somehow insinuated itself between his legs. /Probably to help keep me upright,/ came the semi-coherent thought. His sensitive bits were riding on that hard thigh, and his arousal was demanding more room, more attention, and definitely more stimulus. Stepping closer as if in direct answer to Obi-Wan's increasingly urgent need, Qui-Gon thrust his thigh even more firmly between Obi-Wan's legs and then sharply arched his hips so that Obi-Wan was left in no doubt as to the effect he was having on Qui-Gon.

That creative tongue continued working its magic. Qui-Gon added the cool torture of his breath to blow across the wet skin, which sent new shivers down his Padawan's spine. Someone was whimpering; Obi-Wan thought it might have been himself. Gasping, he knew that his senses had narrowed to recognize only the mane of silvered hair in his face, Qui-Gon's breath on his skin, his strong fingers kneading at his lower back, and that ever-present, maddening thigh between his legs that made him want to rub himself against it.

Sunlight streamed through the window behind him, warming his back as Qui-Gon was inflaming his front. Large hands swept firmly up his back and back down, only to settled on his buttocks and squeeze. Moaning, the Master rubbed his beard against Obi-Wan's throat before kissing a trail back up to his mouth. Teasing lips coaxed him to open his mouth, at which point Qui-Gon drew back slightly to breathe between Obi-Wan's lips.

"Want you," he murmured, just before he began thrusting.

A furious backwash of blazing desire-need-love streaked through the bond, surrounding and engulfing Obi-Wan so that he could only thrust blindly once... twice...three times. He found his release and was undone as Qui-Gon followed him over the edge, roaring his Padawan's name and holding Obi-Wan so tightly that he couldn't breathe.

/Master?/ He reached automatically through the bond as Qui-Gon crashed to his knees and further collapsed to carry them both to the floor. There they fell with Obi-Wan half in Qui-Gon's lap and both men panting to catch their breath. Obi-Wan eventually became aware that his fingers were tangled in Qui-Gon's hair. He withdrew his trembling hand only to discover that he'd nearly snatched his Master bald in the throes of his climax. Untangling the woeful hairs from his still-shaking grasp, Obi-Wan summoned a wobbly smile as he sent the hairs on their way.

/So much for my vow of celibacy,/ Qui-Gon's voice reverberated through his mind.

"Uh... sorry?" Obi-Wan offered, shame-faced.

"I'm not sorry." Qui-Gon smiled a smile of such delighted, wicked, and hitherto unseen proportions that Obi-Wan could do nothing but gape at him.


Those strong arms were around him again. His Master pressed a kiss to his temple. "Happy Naming Day, Obi-Wan. Would you like another kiss?"

"You claim that *that* was just a kiss?" His voice broke as it hadn't since Obi-Wan had been fourteen.

Qui-Gon nodded and tried to look innocent, but the arrogant victory in his eyes wrecked the effect.

"Master, that was this side of an all-out seduction--even if we didn't get undressed."

"We didn't need to." Qui-Gon brushed back the Padawan braid, nuzzled his ear again. /I don't need to undress you to--/ The Master clamped down on his side of the open bond before Obi-Wan could hear the completion of the thought.

"If you start it, you have to finish it," Obi-Wan argued.

"Very well." The blue eyes were darker and closer than Obi-Wan could remember ever having seen them. The Master's voice dropped to nearly a purr. "I do not need to undress you, to finish you."

Obi-Wan shivered. /So this is what it feels like to be prey. It could be addictive./ He thought it, but didn't dare confess it, knew that he'd been undone and would continue to be so at little more than a look or a caress from this man. He eyed Qui-Gon cautiously and sensed that the Master had banked his desire once more: he'd been careful to give Obi-Wan what he had asked, with only a little more. Perhaps to give him a taste of what might await, should he decide to make this Master his lover.

Obi-Wan knew that Qui-Gon's instinct to pursue him, to take him, to possess him was still there, and for the first time Obi-Wan wondered if he were equal to it. /I've never been prey before./ Qui-Gon had been celibate for literally years, but it didn't mean that his passion was dead. No, it merely meant that, once stirred, this Master's passion was probably deeper, more devoted, and far stronger than any other lover's that Obi-Wan had ever had. This Master didn't do anything by halves--not even love.

"Now you may understand a little more of why I asked you to take your time," Qui-Gon said, the hungry, needful look disappearing completely from his gaze. "Why I told you to be sure of what you want. When I love someone, I love them thoroughly. And I expect it to last forever. Not many are secure enough within themselves to deal with that sort of intensity. If you decide that you are not, it will change nothing between us, Obi-Wan."

A final warm, dry kiss and an affectionate sweep through the short Padawan haircut was Obi-Wan's before he was set aside. Rising to his feet, the Master looked down at his stunned Padawan. Except for his vaguely mussed hair and tunic, Qui-Gon once again looked every inch the Master in control.

"We both need a shower," the older man observed, "and then I think we should discuss what else you would like to do this day." A big hand caressed his cheek, and then his Master was gone, the door quietly sliding closed behind him.

Obi-Wan spent the next ten minutes trying to absorb what had just happened. Trying to figure out why he felt thoroughly loved at the same time that he felt thoroughly threatened, and why he *liked* both feelings. He also tried to convince his boneless legs that they should deliver him up off of the floor.


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