CHAPTER NINE--Almost a Knight


For all that it was one of the most beautiful planets in the Republic, Obi-Wan would forever suppress a shiver when he heard its name. His Master had survived their battle with the Sith warrior--barely, and only because by some miracle Obi-Wan had managed to pour three-quarters of his own life force into Qui-Gon, so that when they had been found both men had been close to death.

Yoda himself had come to tend them, along with three of the strongest healers on Coruscant and two others from the mysterious, mystical Henge temple. Obi-Wan vaguely remembered the six shrouded beings entering the darkened, secluded room where he lay with his Master. /Deathwatch,/ he'd concluded then, grateful that the Force would take them together. And then Yoda's mind had slid inside of his, and Obi-Wan was being coaxed gently back from whatever twilight world he'd entered to retrieve his Master.

/Not without him!/ he'd mentally hissed at the old Master, clinging to Qui-Gon's essence and refusing to move from the spiritual plane until Yoda had sighed and brought back the older man first. Obi-Wan had followed the slender, frayed bond he still shared with Qui-Gon, pacing back through the Jedi Master's mind and feeling the agony of re-entering a body whose lungs and spine and diaphragm and belly had been cored out by gamma-beam radiation that was never meant to touch flesh, much less linger in ways that continued burning long after the Sithblade had been removed.

Qui-Gon's heart had lurched and then flatlined with the pain, so that Yoda's helpers had to literally yank Obi-Wan's mind from the older man's and force him back into his own body before going to work on Qui-Gon. Yoda himself had sat on Obi-Wan mentally until another healer could rush forward and inject something that knocked him senseless, all in the effort to keep him in his own body and not follow Qui-Gon down into a still-probable death.

/Master... please... stay..../ he sent through the still-unravelling bond, all of his tears and half of his heart still focused on the other man.

He went down into the darkness without hearing any reply, terrified that when he awoke it would be to find the other bed empty and Yoda close by to deliver the message that the Padawan most dreaded hearing. /He died on me once. Isn't once enough?/ he managed to send into the Force before losing consciousness. /Please.... not again./

He had awoken days later to his Master's voice softly calling his name in the middle of a Naboo night. A long time afterward, and Obi-Wan had been told that he had been unconscious as long as his Master had, perhaps keeping Qui-Gon company in some unseen realm until the injured organs had been regenerated and stabilized.

"Master?" he whispered, turning onto his side and groping in the dark between the beds.

"Obi-Wan...." A cold hand found his and held on. The voice behind it was weak and thready, but it was still *there*, and that was all that Obi-Wan had asked to happen.

Closing his eyes, Obi-Wan used the Force to slide their beds closer together. The machinery protested momentarily and Obi-Wan held his breath, lest the healers descend on them en masse. His Master was shaking so hard that Obi-Wan had the bedrail down and was half into the other man's bed, had his arms around Qui-Gon before he had the chance to wonder what he was doing.

"So... c-cold."

"You're probably still in shock, Master.." Obi-Wan was grateful for Qui-Gon's intricate lessons in Force manipulation as he used it to layer the few blankets they had and ordered his body to warm itself another two degrees. "But you can breathe, and your toesnails are scraping against mine so that I know your spine has been renewed. That means that you're not paralysed and you can walk and... and... gods, Master, but you're ALIVE."

Qui-Gon offered a breath of a laugh, all he could manage as he still shook hard enough to rattle the beds. All of these gifts were more than Obi-Wan had dared to hope for. Qui-Gon's teeth chattered against his Padawan's neck while his long arms reached all the way around him and just held on. Obi-Wan had never seen his Master so vulnerable, had never dreamed that he could be so vulnerable, or that life could be so fragile. Pressing a kiss to his Master's forehead and moving even closer, Obi-Wan realized that such fragility made their time together all the more precious.

/What of the Sith?/ Qui-Gon sent through their bond.

/Dead. Went to pieces./ He sent an image of the creature whistling its way down the energy shaft.

Qui-Gon wheezed another laugh through lungs that were still working to clear themselves of some faint fluid. /Well done, Padawan./

The Master faded into sleep soon after that, but Obi-Wan stayed awake for a long time, sifting his fingers through the long hair and pondering what tomorrow might bring.

/He didn't ask about Anakin,/ he thought to himself. Even if he had, Obi-Wan had no idea where the boy was, nor did he much care, come to that. What had happened in the Council chamber now held the sense of non-reality to it for Obi-Wan. His journey to the other side of life to hang onto his Master felt like a much stronger memory.

/Did my Master really toss me aside?/ he wondered. /Try to trade me in for a... better model of Padawan? Did that really happen, or did I just dream it?/

Two weeks later, and Obi-Wan had his answer: the Council meeting had happened, but the Force had been merciful in more ways than one. When the battle of Theed was over, after the droids had all been melted down, the Nemoidians had been taken back to Coruscant for a Senate tribunal, and Qui-Gon was finally allowed to leave the medical center under Obi-Wan and Yoda's watchful eyes, the Chosen One announced at about the same time and to Queen Amidala that he had decided he didn't want to become a Jedi after all. What he really wanted was to learn how to pilot her wizard ships like the one he'd used to destroy the droid control ship, and by the way could 'Dala get his mom off of Tatooine and bring her there?

Seated in the garden of the villa which he and Obi-Wan had been given for the time it would take Qui-Gon to recover fully from his injuries, the Jedi Master set his jaw and glared at Yoda who had brought the news.

"All that I put Obi-Wan through, and Anakin wants to fly ships?" he growled.

Those words earned a startled look from the Padawan in question, wrecking the flow of the kata he was working on, to the point that Qui-Gon turned his glare on his Padawan and gestured that he should begin again.

Breaking off his effort, Obi-Wan wandered across the grass and sank down to sit at his Master's feet. "Actually, I think I'm far more interested in this conversation."

Yoda hrrmphed before continuing. "Stay here, young Skywalker will. Change his mind again, he will not."

"What about his mother?" Qui-Gon pursued.

"Sent for, she has been. A Jedi young Anakin was not meant to be, Qui-Gon. See this now, you do?"

The Master reached for his apprentice's braid, entwined it around his fingers. "Yes, but he still needs watched. He's too powerful with the Force to not be watched."

"Agree, the Council does.

Qui-Gon arched an eyebrow. "How good of them. I'm only sorry that this solution did not present itself before I took on the Council and hurt my Padawan in the process."

Obi-Wan squeezed his arm. "It's all right, Master. You thought you were following the will of the Force."

"Hard to hear, the Force is sometimes," Yoda pronounced, starting at the Master. "Especially when your own will you try to layer over it."

Qui-Gon looked away as Yoda gathered his gimer stick. The old Master chuckled. "Meditations you should do on humility, Padawan. Leave you to heal I will. Home to the Temple I am going now. Will see you next when you are healed." He pointed his stick at Obi-Wan. "Tend him well, Padawan. When next we meet, a knight you will become."

"Yes, Master." Wrapping an arm around Qui-Gon's legs, he held on and shivered as his Master silently continued winding his braid around and around.

"Find my own way out, I can."

They watched the old Master skirt the pond. Yoda waved and chortled at the fish who came to the surface expecting to be fed. Qui-Gon sighed deeply when Yoda was out of hearing.

"I am sorry, Obi-Wan."

Half turning, Obi-Wan resting both arms across Qui-Gon's knee. "For what? For thinking that Anakin was the Chosen One? For trying to train him when I was still your Padawan? For making me very angry, or for creating such turbulence in our bond that you nearly died of it?"

"Yes. Sorry for all of it, " Qui-Gon said quietly, cupping Obi-Wan's face in his hand. "Your eyes are still shadowed from that day, and you shield far more often from me than you should."

"I'm concerned for your healing--"

"That is only half of the truth, Padawan. What is the other half? That I broke your heart when tried to claim Anakin as my learner?"

"I can't claim that it didn't hurt, Master. It did,. And deeply. But it's been set right now, and Anakin is apparently where he needs to be. It's just that I...."

"You... what?"

Frowning, Obi-Wan gazed out across the pond. "I never expected my trials to come in such a heartbreaking way, nor my impending knighthood to make me feel so sad. I don't want to leave you, any more than I wanted you to leave me during that fight."

Qui-Gon ran the braid between his fingers. "That's what Masters and Padawans do, Obi-Wan. One prepares, and the other is prepared, and one day they part company. The Order doesn't expect us to stay together forever."

"What if I want us to be together forever?"

"Then I'd say what I have said before: you must search your feelings and be certain of what you want."

"I'm cer--"

"What you are is still under a great deal of stress," the Master interrupted, shaking his head.. "This is no time to make decisions that might affect both of us for the rest of our lives. I am not fully healed, and that makes you fret and worry that you might lose me again at any time. I gasp for air and cannot breathe during our workouts. My muscles are not yet built back to their former strength, and I sense your fear that I will never be the same as I was. I'm not going to collapse on you, Obi-Wan, but the healers were right; it's going to take a good three months for me to regain what the Sith took away so quickly. We shall see where I am then, and you shall have the time you need after you are knighted to decide if you wish to commit yourself to this old knight."

His fingers brushed Obi-Wan's cheek. "I am grateful that you are here with me, working the Sith out of me, quite literally I sometimes think. But the truth of it is that in three months you will be sent out on your own as the knight you are meant to be."

"And my being alone feels right to you?" Obi-Wan pressed him.

Qui-Gon swallowed hard and drew a deep breath. "What I feel about it doesn't matter. A Master is meant to train a Padawan, to set free the Knight."

"But what do you feel about that?"

Qui-Gon stared down at him for a very long time. "I will miss you," he finally whispered. "In my life as well as in my heart and my mind."

Turning his head, Obi-Wan rested his head on Qui-Gon's thigh and let his tears fall, unnoticed, into the grass while his Master continued combing through his hair.


"Idyllic and painful and rather scary," was how Obi-Wan later described the three months he spent alone with Qui-Gon.

It was the most honest time they'd ever spent together, with Qui-Gon snarling at his student when Obi-Wan cajoled and almost cruelly provoked his Master into raising his saber just one more time, just one more round of defending himself and all in an effort to make screaming muscles respond as they had before they'd been damaged.

Qui-Gon wept and cursed at himself and at his Padawan, calling forth every hellish phrase in every language he knew to hurl his fear and his despair not only through his words, but through the bond as well. Battered physically and mentally bruised, Obi-Wan still absorbed it all and threw everything back in a controlled frenzy of physical therapy, knowing all too well that if he let the older man slack off Qui-Gon would never have back what he had been. Failure and open compassion was simply not options, and both of them knew it.

Within only a few days, the masks had been totally ripped away. Nothing remained of the gentle, elegant Master Qui-Gon Jinn; of a complementary necessity, little remained of the respectful, diffident Padawan Kenobi. No longer bound by the roles of Master and Padawan, then were simply men--one injured and hurting and struggling against a body that wanted nothing more than to sit down and quit, while the other poked at the injured one an intricate dance of torture, challenge and encouragement.

Halfway through their time together, Qui-Gon simply hit the wall. "I have had enough of you, Padawan!"

Snarling, he cast aside his lightsaber and stalked away from the therapy session. Bolting after him, Obi-Wan knocked the older man to the ground so hard that all of the breath left his lungs.

"Fight me, damn you!" Rolling the older man over, he punched him hard.

Obi-Wan was Force-shoved across the clearing and into a tree for his trouble. Gaining his feet, Qui-Gon glared at him and made sure his nose was not bleeding. Brushing down his robes, he then turned around to keep walking.

Behind him, Obi-Wan ignited his saber and launched himself at his quarry once more. A warrior's howl erupted from him, learned on some planet or other, guaranteed to strike fear into any enemy and to scatter any avian bystanders gathered within two parsecs.

The training of more than forty years kicked in when Qui-Gon's instincts and the training bond told him that Obi-Wan was not going to pull back from this attack. Whirling, the Master called the fallen lightsaber to his hand, only to discover that the weapon he now faced was the same double-bladed lightstaff that had killed him.

All color drained out of his face. "Obi-WAN!"

The Padawan offered him a death-head's grin. Laughing and dancing sideways, he twirled the weapon and then advanced. Slashing at his Master's feet, he made the older man Force leap over his head in an effort to get away.

"Running, Master? I wouldn't advise it. I'll follow, no matter where you go."

Lungeing forward, Obi-Wan attacked with all that was in him, spinning and slashing, forcing his Master backward until the older man stumbled and went down on one knee. The blades slammed together and sputtered. Qui-Gon flinched.

"Where did you get--"

"I built it." Shoving harder, Obi-Wan growled into his Master's face. "You call yourself a Master? Get up and fight, damn you."

That did it. Rising, Qui-Gon pushed back and set his shoulders. The coldest look Obi-Wan had ever seen came over his face as the Master gathered the Force into himself. It swirled past Obi-Wan to become a nexus of power within the Master, lending strength to his strategy that Obi-Wan had never seen before, not even with the Sith. The next moment, Qui-Gon bore down on his Padawan as though he'd become the Sith himself.

"You call yourself a Jedi? Fight, damn you," Qui-Gon murmured, a gentle, sinister echo of Obi-Wan's own words before he offered a casual Force-shove that made the ground feel as though it were tilting Obi-Wan's feet. Striding forward as Obi-Wan danced backward in an attempt to regain his balance, the Master offered a violent series of offensive lunges that his apprentice was hard put to avoid.

Obi-Wan's lungs began to burn as Qui-Gon pushed him back through the clearing. The dance began in earnest now, with Obi-Wan calling upon every bit of his training to avoid the next saber singe, the next bruise to thigh or shoulder or arm, not to mention the next riposte that would demand that he dance out of the way to avoid having his ankles nipped.

He raised the lightstaff to the horizontal, only to have Qui-Gon thumb his own saber up to full power and slam the weapon the same as he'd done on Naboo. Obi-Wan's eyes widened to hear the thrumming vibration increase to that power.

/Sith's blood, he can really hurt me now!/

Gathering himself, Obi-Wan did a series of backflips to put much distance between him and his Master. /I've pushed him too far--he's really going for me now./

Qui-Gon followed calmly--too calmly, much as he had down the reactor corridors before the fight had turned against him. He paced carefully after Obi-Wan who had no choice but to raise the lightstaff again as the older Jedi came bearing down on him. Everywhere he spun, Qui-Gon was there, cutting off his planned exit first, and then his room to maneuver. All he could do was spin and kick and fly and defend... and none of it was enough. He dared not set the staff itself to full power--he would not risk hurting his Master--but Obi-Wan could also not see a happy end to this fight.

"Master, enough!"

But it was as though Qui-Gon couldn't--or wouldn't--hear him.

Once again the staff was at the horizontal, and this time Qui-Gon's saber slammed through it at its most vulnerable point. It splintered in Obi-Wan's hands with only a single blade remaining; it sputtered as it was also damaged. Obi-Wan did the only thing he could think to do in a desperate act of self-preservation; he slammed the hilt straight toward his Master's nose, just as he'd seen the Sith do.

The Master had learned all too well what such an opening could do, and his weapon was there to defend this time. The titanium hilt went to pieces in Obi-Wan's hands, and the green blade of his Master's saber swept past his ear on the upswing. Faster than thought, it reversed direction only to halt mere millimeters from his shoulder, ready to quarter him. The lightstaff lay in pieces at Obi-Wan's feet, and he dared not change out his weapon, dared not draw his own, spare lightsaber against the older man. Locking his gaze with the older man's, Obi-Wan lifted his chin in false defiance, only to have a soft whimper of dread escape his lips.

Stepping back, Qui-Gon doused the saber and bowed to his Padawan. "It appears that I also do not need to kill you to finish you, Obi-Wan."

"It would appear not... Master." Obi-Wan gasped for breath, the adrenaline melting out of his limbs and his legs threatening to not support him as they began trembling. Shakily, he bowed in return and felt the Force power fade from around his Master. "Why did you do that?"

The older man grinned down at Obi-Wan before reaching out and pulling him into a hard hug. "To make sure that I still could. Thank you for a fight well fought, my Padawan."

"Right. Sure. Anytime."

Qui-Gon came to him that night as Obi-Wan lay in a naked, boneless heap, feeling his muscles tighten and starting to ache after the abuse they'd undergone. /Now, you'll pay for it,/ they seemed to say. Obi-Wan had gotten used to feeling the message after numerous battles throughout the years; frequent battering were a Jedi's way of life. He usually just ordered everything to heal while he slept and felt pretty much all right by morning.

He didn't bother to gather a sheet across himself when Qui-Gon entered his quarters; he was simply too tired to care and besides, the Master had seen it all before for a great many years, anyway. Obi-Wan wasn't, however, too tired to care that Qui-Gon came in wearing only his leggings, loosely tied at the waist to hang low on his hips. His muscles were well-defined, and Obi-Wan looked with a critical eye.

/His definition is good, so the workouts are definitely working, and he's gained back most of the weight he lost. Even the scar is fading./ Obi-Wan's penis twitched at the sight of the big man coming ever closer, straight for him. His stride was focused, if not predatory. /I don't think I'm up to predatory tonight,/ Obi-Wan decided. /Next time we fight, remind me to ask him to remove his tunics./

Qui-Gon was also wearing his hair down. It flowed free over his shoulders after it had been allowed to air dry after his shower. /And that's because I didn't have the strength to dry it for him as I usually do. He'll have the Sith's own tangles in there tomorrow morning./

Moving with a warrior's grace across the thick carpeting and looking as though he hadn't fought a fight in weeks, the Master sat on the side of the bed and tapped Obi-Wan's hip bone. "I have something for you. Roll over."

"I don't think I can."

Qui-Gon chuckled softly before sliding his hands beneath Obi-Wan's rear-end and back, and then rolled his Padawan over without further ceremony.

"Hey!" Obi-Wan protested.

"I thought you might want a backrub."

Oil was drizzled abruptly onto his back. Obi-Wan arched and hissed, and then buried his nose in the pillow.

"You must be tired," Qui-Gon noted. "You didn't even complain."

"If I complain you might change your mind, and I know what's coming will be good. Be nice to me, Master. I got beat up today."

Long-fingered hands spread the oil generously across his back. "Was your opponent a terrible bully?"

"Very much so. He didn't let me win."

"Perhaps you'll win tomorrow."

Obi-Wan groaned at the thought of another workout the following afternoon, then lost himself as strong hands began working swiftly and firmly in an undeniable demand that his muscles relax. There was no sleeping beneath this massage; his Master's touch was too determined. Too ruthless. Those muscles would relax from sheer intimidation, if nothing else.

His feet were tended next, and then his legs and even between them. His buttocks and balls were also massaged, with Obi-Wan raising on his elbows to protest the swift, almost cavalier treatment.

Qui-Gon merely shoved him back down. "You're too exhausted for lovemaking; you'd only fall asleep on me, and I prefer my partners awake as well as willing."

"Then I want a rain check."

"I'm sure that can be arranged." A kiss was placed at the back of Obi-Wan's ear. A heavy weight rested half across him, and then those lips were back. A beard was nuzzling and those skillful lips were suckling on his earlobe.

"Masterrrrrr," he purred, feeling his erection start to press into the mattress.

An insistent hand parted his legs and began stroking his balls. "Yes, Padawan?"

"I thought you said I was too exhausted? And what happened to my rain check?"

"I'm sure it's raining somewhere."

That voice was so close, as close as the caressing hand between his legs. The strokes became more like petting... gentle, sweet pettings that relaxed as they aroused him.

"I want to turn over," he demanded.

"Very well."

The heavy weight disappeared, and Obi-Wan was turned over slowly. Warm oil was applied then to his legs, flank, chest, belly, and arms. Slick-coated fingers wrapped themselves around his erection to begin a hot, gliding motion up and down. He thickened and throbbed, and a finger traveled the length of the heavy vein on the underside. Obi-Wan groaned at the sensation, then arched as a hot tongue licked firmly from the base of his erection straight up to the top.

His fingers were in his Master's hair and he sat half-upright, only to have a huge hand push him gently, but firmly back down onto the bed. A forefinger began stroking between his eyes... relaxing him.

/Don't..../ he protested through the bond. /That's always put me to sleep..../

/That's the idea, Padawan./

/I thought you.... you wanted to... make.... to make love./ Gods, he was going cross-eyed again, and that tongue was doing things. Again. Licking slowly, agonizingly, repeatedly over his manhood. It was stimulating and relaxing and just too much to think about--Qui-Gon's mouth on him, savoring him as though he were the finest of the cold, creamy, sweet treats. He felt himself seep at the thought, and then his Master's tongue was at his tip, wriggling inside to taste the sweet, salty bitterness of his need. Moaning, Obi-Wan opened his legs a bit further and arched in sheer luxury.

"More....." he groaned.

Qui-Gon removed the Padawan fingers that were tangled in his hair, entwined his own with them, and purred as he descended and swallowed his Padawan. Obi-Wan gasped and writhed as Qui-Gon set up a slow, firm sucking rhythm, meant to bring him slowly to full erection, to let his climax grow evenly, steadily. Cupping his Padawan's testicles, Qui-Gon caressed the base of his erection, only to hold the velvet-tight sacs in the palm of his hand and squeeze, ever so gently.

"Master...." Obi-Wan arched slowly, his heels digging into the bed.

/You are exquisite, my love./ Qui-Gon watched the beauty of it and pressed his own throbbing arousal against the mattress. He suckled harder and just a bit faster only to pull pulled back and swirl his tongue inside once more. To lap at the essence there, to inhale the unique musk that was Obi-Wan and all his.

Obi-Wan cried out and arched again, stronger and harder. Humming, the Master resumed his slow sucking and felt the balls tighten ominously in his hand. The Master drove their rhythm as he controlled Obi-Wan's dance in the salle back at the Temple. /Follow me, Padawan..../ Obedient to the end, Obi-Wan followed, instinctively using the bond to link his desire with Qui-Gon's and listening with an exquisite trust. Just as he had always listening to his Master in battle, so it was that he listened to him in bed.

Qui-Gon purred beneath the power his Padawan had so willingly placed between his loving hands. /Now, Obi-Wan./

He suckled hard at Obi-Wan's explosive need and sent the sensation of his own thickened arousal straight down the bond to overwhelm his Padawan. Obi-Wan screamed his release and Qui-Gon opened his throat and swallowed him down, suckling greedily before losing himself in his own climax. Collapsing half across Obi-Wan, he spasmed hard, panted and lapped at the softening organ, and finally thought to release Obi-Wan's testicles.

"Master." Obi-Wan's voice was slurred in passion and exhaustion. His fingers were in the older man's hair, petting and stroking before he sent a wave of love through the bond that made Qui-Gon gasp with its intensity. "Love you so much....So glad you stayed...."

Within a very few minutes, he was asleep. Well-satisfied with his relaxation methods, Qui-Gon rearranged the covers over his Padawan and then climbed into bed beside him. Obi-Wan murmured softly before rolling over and wrapping himself around his Master. Entwining his own limbs with Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon was contented that it should be so.


CHAPTER TEN -- Knighted

Three months later nearly to the day, Obi-Wan once again stood two paces behind and to right of his Master in the Council chamber. He'd done it a hundred times over the past twelve years, but after today he would never do it again. Qui-Gon was the picture of serenity, standing as tall and strong as ever, his graying mane fanned out across his broad shoulders, his robe swirling about his ankles as he tucked his hands into his cloak and answered Mace Windu's last question.

"Agree with the Council's assessment, I do."

Mace Windu gestured shortly. "Come forward, Padawan Kenobi."

He took two steps forward, which brought him up to stand beside his Master. Glancing up, he exchanged a slight smile with the older man before kneeling before Yoda, who was nodding in satisfaction.

The Master's dark eyes glimmered with pleasure. "Bestow on you the rank of knight this Council does. Waited a long time for this day have I, Knight Kenobi."

"As have I, Master." Obi-Wan dipped his head lower, then rose to face Qui-Gon.

Drawing a deep breath, the big man reached for Obi-Wan's braid to gently pull the bottom tie free. It was then that Obi-Wan realized his Master wasn't quite as calm as he appeared. His fingers were trembling, and his eyes were shadowed.


/Plenty of time to talk later, Obi-Wan. Now, hold still./ A mental smile accompanied the order--the last he'd ever give his Padawan. Qui-Gon began to gently unravel the braid that he had begun and completed for Obi-Wan countless times over the years. Those moments had been a solid part of their relationship, with Obi-Wan never really giving a thought to the time when the braiding would end. He'd imagined being a knight, and knights did not wear braids, but somehow it had always escaped his musings when he thought ahead to actually being a knight.

The colorful ties were removed, and the braid was unraveled until the hair flowed free from Obi-Wan's temple, down to his waist. Long, thick fingers stroked from his temple to the end of the braid, smoothing the thin, rippled strand of hair that had long been a Force-tangle of auburn and near-gray. Qui-Gon's fingers trailed over his cheek.

"Our commitment to each other as master and apprentice ends now, my Padawan. Go forward into the Light and serve it always."

"Yes, Master."

Traditionally, it was the last time Obi-Wan would hear Qui-Gon call him Padawan; conversely, it was also the last time he would be required to call Qui-Gon his Master. Blue eyes locked into green as Qui-Gon took the ceremonial dirk from his belt and laid it against Obi-Wan's temple. The first strands of the braid were severed, and the training bond pulsed as Qui-Gon prepared to sever it as well.

/Master, don't end the bond.? Cut the braid, but please don't end our bond. The words flowed out in a rush at the last possible second, and Qui-Gon frowned down at him, alarmed.

/Tradition dictates--/

/Sod tradition! I don't want to lose you!/

The briefest of hesitations, and then Qui-Gon drew back from the bond. /As you wish, Obi-Wan./

A few short strokes with the dirk, and it was over. The hair at his temple blended in with the other short spikes. Moving around Obi-Wan, the Master severed the senior Padawan's tail as well. Wrapping the hair in the palm of his hand, the older man concentrated a moment before lifting his hand and dropping the hair. It disintegrated before touching the shining tiles, dissolved into mist under the Jedi Master's focused power to become one with the Force.

Obi-Wan supposed that since the training bond was still intact, he was probably still a Padawan. /I don't care. He's still in there, that's all that matters./

"Congratulations." Mace Windu offered one of his rare grins. "Go and celebrate, you two."


"Have we committed any grievous sin by keeping the bond intact?" Obi-Wan asked once the chamber doors had closed behind them, and they were left alone in the cavernous corridor on their way to the turbolift.

"No sin that I know of." Sliding a companionable arm around the younger man's waist, Qui-Gon smiled down at him. "Most Padawans are more than happy to get their Masters out of their thoughts permanently."

"I just... I can't lose you." Settling beneath Qui-Gon's arm, Obi-Wan returned the hug.

"You'd never lose me, bond or no bond."

He shook his head, shivering at the absence of the braid that had been part of him for so long. "I want you right where you are, Master. Just a thought away. If you don't mind."

"Mind?" Qui-Gon arched an eyebrow as they stepped into the lift. "I was dreading the severance of our bond as much as you were. Perhaps more." He lightly stroked Obi-Wan's temple where the braid had resided. "You were been a pleasure to teach and to guide, Padawan. More than that, you cast light and healing into the dark places forged by Xanatos. You are an endless joy in my life."

"Endless?" Obi-Wan laughed outright. "I think not. Remember that night on Talurigh, when you watched me sneak off with the king's fourth daughter and was helpless to stop me?"

"You were a joy even then," Qui-Gon insisted. "The joy faltered only temporarily when the king threatened to cut off your essentials the next morning."

"You always said that you'd tell me how you got me out of that after I was knighted. Well?" He leaned against the opposite side of the lift, crossed his arms, and waited.

Qui-Gon studied the turbolift's level lights as they flashed by. "I lied to the king. I told him that appearances were deceiving, and that you preferred being with me to being with any female. I assured him against all odds that his daughter was certainly still a virgin."

"You said that?" Obi-Wan gaped up at the older man.

"I did. The young woman was summoned, and she agreed with me," Qui-Gon continued calmly. "It was a masterful performance on both of our parts."

"No wonder you wouldn't tell me how you resolved it," Obi-Wan groused.

"So tell me, Obi-Wan... was she untouched?"

Obi-Wan merely smiled.


Entering their shared chambers that evening for perhaps the last time as Obi-Wan was destined to move into a new set of knights' quarters, Qui-Gon shrugged out of his outer robe and laid it across the couch. Drawing a deep, weary breath, he pulled the hair-tie free and ran his fingers through his hair.

"I'll make tea, Master." Obi-Wan slipped past him to lay his own robe over his Master's before moving into the food prep area.

"Thank you, Obi-Wan." /So many endings, yet much is the same,/ the older man thought, watching him go. /But not for long. Even now, he's moving out of my life./

Wandering across the room, the Master reflected that the dinner celebrating his Padawan's knighting had been a much more subdued affair than he'd thought it would be. Qui-Gon knew that Bant had stopped by weeks before only to disappear into Obi-Wan's chamber and plot out the celebration. When Qui-Gon had probed politely afterward, Obi-Wan had said that yes, they were indeed going to Indiscretions, but it would be a small, intimate group as so many of his set were either already knighted or were traveling the galaxy with their Masters.

When the evening finally came, only Bant, Tawn and Qui-Gon had actually been in attendance. Tawn and Bant made one couple, Obi-Wan and himself the second, and rather than eat a hurried meal and then retire to the more public, entertaining section of the club, the new knight had seemed contented to remain at the Master's side all evening and engage in a somewhat subdued conversation.

Dinner had been a quiet affair in a private salon featuring archaic candles for lighting and quiet, soothing music piped in. Pillows were thrown around a low table, with Obi-Wan somehow managing to half-recline on Qui-Gon all evening. The Master hadn't minded in the least; it had been extremely pleasurable to have Obi-Wan's solid weight and happiness so close for so long. The food had been exquisite and the conversation amusing, with Bant and Tawn telling incidents from Obi-Wan's childhood.

"I haven't heard these stories before," said Qui-Gon, sipping his wine. "Where was I while you coached my Padawan in the finer arts of battle?" He arched an eyebrow at Tawn. "And where was I when you and Obi-Wan played all of your pranks?" Blue eyes locked on Bant, who blushed a bright orange.

"Actually, we paid Master Yoda to keep you out of the way," Obi-Wan drawled, tracing a pattern on Qui-Gon's thigh.

"You must have. I never heard any of these stories."

"Of course you haven't heard them. They're embarrassing.

"He also paid us to keep quiet until after his trials," Tawn murmured. "We'll collect shortly, Kenobi. A joint mission or two with me to Hoth should cover my side of the debt."

"Hey, ice is preferable to mud, any day."

Exchanging a glance with Bant, Tawn and her finished in unison, "Calamarian mud mission, definitely."

Qui-Gon toasted them. "It sounds like you have the next near of Obi-Wan's life planned out for him."

"Over my dead lightsaber they do."

Everyone had laughed, but Qui-Gon hadn't missed the frequent, yearning looks Knight Tawn had cast Obi-Wan's way. /That one would like nothing better than to actually serve missions with my Pad.... with Obi-Wan. How long will it be before he formally petitions Obi-Wan to do just that?/

The evening had wound down with Bant and Tawn inviting Obi-Wan to come with them and enjoy the hard-driving beat of the dance floor long into the night. Much to Qui-Gon's surprise and confusion, Obi-Wan had refused the invitation with a hug and a smile. Waving his friends on, the new-made knight had turned to Qui-Gon and asked if he minded if they went home.

No, of course not, and so home they went.

Settling on the couch, Qui-Gon watched took the mug of tea that Obi-Wan offered to him. "Padawan, you don't have to serve me any longer."

"But I enjoy serving you, Master. I have always enjoyed taking care of you." Sitting crosslegged on the couch, close beside the older man, Obi-Wan drank from his own mug and then waved a hand, dimming the lights.

"I'm sorry that more of your friends couldn't be there tonight," Qui-Gon murmured.

Obi-Wan looked confused. "But they were there, Master. You and Bant and Tawn were exactly the people I wanted with me to celebrate tonight."

Qui-Gon considered that information for a moment. "You wanted a quiet dinner instead of the same sort of boisterous party you had when you became a senior Padawan?"

Obi-Wan nodded.

"But so many of your friends were missing."

Obi-Wan set aside his tea mug. "I think that you may be confusing the people I run with and my closest friends. A few years ago, you were used to seeing me out with an entire group of Padawans."

"Yes," Qui-Gon agreed.

"Do you remember that night at Gyrations, when I was out with the group and you rescued me from Sh'Taka's baiting?"

"I do."

Obi-Wan shrugged. "That's the last time I went out with that group. Do you also remember a conversation we had shortly after that, when I told you about how empty my relationships were? The night you counseled me to chastity?"

"Yes, Obi-Wan."

He slipped off of the couch to kneel between his Master's legs. "That night, you also told me to look for a gentle heart. To look for someone capable not just of lust, but also of love. A few months later on the mission to Dalcarta, I nearly lost you and realized that I loved you. When I told you, you asked me to meditate on my desire and find out exactly what I wanted of you."

"I remember, Obi-Wan. I also remember asking that you come to know your own heart and mind. To understand what, exactly, you were feeling for me."

"And then on my Naming Day, you kissed me." Obi-Wan grinned up at the older man. "There have been other touches as well. All of the times we made love on Naboo, as if you couldn't get enough of me but didn't really mind trying. It was... rather enjoyable, Master. Now that I'm knighted, I want to tell you that I've been thinking and meditating for a number of months, and I've made up my mind. I would like very much to--"

Leaning forward, Qui-Gon pressed his fingers to Obi-Wan's lips. "Obi-Wan, think before you speak, please. You're very young."


"No, hear me out. You have lived under my influence since you were twelve years old. That's over half of your life. You've never had time to be away from that influence, to be out on your own. Never had time to be the knight you've dreamed of being."

Rocking back on his heels, Obi-Wan looked up at his Master for a long moment. Shaking his head, he murmured. "You're telling me to wait again? Suggesting that I don't know my own mind yet?"

"I'm suggesting that you need to spend some time alone to see if you don't prefer being off on your own, to me."

"Master...." Rather than finish the sentence, Obi-Wan shook his head and snapped his mouth closed. Rising to his feet, he said, "Right, then. I guess I should be packing."

Sketching a brief bow, he left Qui-Gon without another word and disappeared into his chamber. Slumping back on the couch, Qui-Gon closed his eyes. /I did the right thing in encouraging him to leave,/ he thought, /but it doesn't feel very good. What am I going to do without him?/

Drawers were pulled and slammed in his former Padawan's room. Rustlings were heard, and in a very few minutes Obi-Wan exited the chamber. Qui-Gon braced himself to say goodbye, but Obi-Wan didn't seem headed for the front door. Instead, he carried a box into Qui-Gon's private suite of rooms across the hall. Qui-Gon entered his bedchamber in time to see Obi-Wan hanging up his tunic in the closet.

"Obi-Wan, what are you doing?"

"I'm moving," came the calm answer. Turning to the chest of drawers where he'd parked the box, he gestured. "Would you mind telling me which one of these I can put my stuff in?"

"Your... stuff?" Qui-Gon shook his head. "I don't understand."

Leaning against the dresser, Obi-Wan folded his arms and scowled up at the older man. "You told me that I should move, and I am. In with you. And before you say another word, please listen to me." There was a steel to his Padawan's voice that Qui-Gon had never heard before. "I've listened to your points for years, but you're not hearing mine. You keep telling me to be sure of my commitment to you, but you never seem willing to let me make that commitment. Well, Master... I've got news for you; surprise, I've already made that commitment."

"Obi-Wan, we need to talk about this."

"No. We've been talking about this for years, but the words aren't cutting it. So let's try some action. Find me a drawer and make room for me." He glowered up at the older man.

"Obi-Wan, you've never had a life of your own!"

"Thanks to you and our missions, I've seen a lot of lives. Beyond that, I have a very good imagination. And you know... when I think of myself in those other lives, I'm not happy."

"But you're a knight now!" Qui-Gon protested, stepping forward and squeezing Obi-Wan's shoulders. /We can't do this... it's too fast, he doesn't know what he's doing, asking... what he's committing to. He can't!/

Obi-Wan narrowed his eyes. "You know what the difference is between being a padawan and being a knight? It means that you cut off my braid. I'm still the same person I was yesterday, the same person I'll be tomorrow. And you know, Master, I don't want to be a knight if it means that I can't have you in my life. You know what else? I think you're scared of me."

"I'm what?"

"Scared. Of. Me. Of having someone in your life who's really committed to you. Who says, 'All right, show me who you are and what you need and I'll be there for you.'"

"That's not true, Obi-Wan."

"Then you tell me what the problem is, Qui-Gon, because that's the best I can come up with until you talk to me."

The Master rocked back at the sound of his given name on Obi-Wan's lips. The younger man grinned... a 'gotcha' grin that told Qui-Gon that the use of his name had been a deliberate choice.

"Yeah, Master, that's right. We're equals now. So, are you going to tell me what the problem is or not?"

"What if you change your mind about me? About all of this?" Qui-Gon's gesture encompassed the room they were standing in, which contained the essence of what Qui-Gon was, as well as the bond he and Obi-Wan still shared. "As your Master, I could command your attention and respect. As your lover and bonded mate--"

"You'll still command my attention and respect. Master, I've loved you since I was thirteen, so that's nothing new. I've been in love with you and wanted to share everything with you since I was twenty-one and nearly lost you on that trip to Dalcarta, so perhaps you'll agree that this is hardly a spur-of-the-moment decision on my part. But...." Pacing forward, Obi-Wan laid his hands on either side of Qui-Gon's face, reached up on balls of his feet, and kissed him lightly. "Should the day ever arrive when I change my mind, you'll be the first to know."

The bond sparkled with amusement, as though falling out of love with his master was the most impossible thing Obi-Wan could imagine, but if it pleased Qui-Gon to worry about it, then Obi-Wan would accommodate that worry.

"You are the one I want, Qui-Gon. No other. I haven't wanted another since before Sh'Taka. My head just had to catch up with my heart in order for me to realize that. Now...." He rained kisses up his Master's nose and nibbled at his beard. "Why don't you clear a couple of those drawers to I can put my stuff in?"

Qui-Gon laughed. "You certainly have a one-track mind, Obi-Wan."

"Yeah, for about three years now. Now, about those drawers...." When Qui-Gon still didn't move, Obi-Wan shrugged. "Look, it's really very simple. You told me to search my mind and my heart and be sure that I wanted to be with you. I have, and I am. I don't know how to convince you, except by not letting you separate us. If you want me gone, you're going to have to toss me out on my butt."

"You don't understand," Qui-Gon all but growled, grabbing his former Padawan by the wrist to stop the distracting caresses. "If I let myself love you, there will be no separation. I will never be able to let you go."

Obi-Wan grinned up at him. "Sounds good to me. I don't want to be let go."

"Please, Obi-Wan... be sure."

"I've never been so sure of anything in my life, Master!"

"How can you be so sure?"

"How can I..." Obi-Wan blinked up at him and pulled away to sit down hard on the bed. "Wait a minute." A dawning awareness and horror filled his features. "This isn't about me, is it? It's about you. You're the one who's not sure. It's not that you're afraid I don't want you, it's that you don't want me."

Clutching the comforter with rigid fingers , Obi-Wan closed his eyes and bowed his head. "How could I be so stupid? That's why you told me to move, to go. You didn't ever mean for me to stay. It was all just a game to you, wasn't it?"


"I'm so very sorry, Master. I misunderstood." Green eyes shimmering with tears lifted to meet distraught midnight blue. Obi-Wan blinked back the tears and set his jaw. "I'll go."

Getting to his feet, he retrieved his box and turned toward the door.

A low growl from behind him was all the warning Obi-Wan got before the door slid shut and locked, almost on his nose. A broad hand on his shoulder spun him around so hard that Obi-Wan dropped the box. He was yanked hard against a broad chest, melded hip against hip as long-fingered hands slid the length of his back and a warm mouth captured his. A warmer tongue slipped between his teeth to decisively claim him, and his Master's growls resumed as a low rumble in his ears and a deep vibration in his own chest.

He gulped great breaths of air into oxygen starved lungs when Qui-Gon finally released his mouth, but Obi-Wan was not allowed to move away. Those large hands roamed over his body, slid off his tunics and pulled them free to drop them into a puddle at his feet. His face was cupped in large, calloused hands. His Master's graying moustache tickled his skin, and the kissing began again. Qui-Gon's hair trailed over Obi-Wan's chest as his collarbones were tongued and sucked at. Every inch of his chest was inspected and his nipples were sucked and tweaked, so quickly that Obi-Wan could do nothing but moan and arch for more of the same.

His ribs were neglected in favor of his behind being clasped and squeezed, and then he was being lifted higher to meet the all-too-obvious and very insistent straining need behind his Master's leggings that found an urgent answer in Obi-Wan's own body.

"Qui-Gon..." he choked, uncertain if he were begging or protesting. It didn't matter; his Master either wasn't listening, or Obi-Wan was being ignored. Entwining his fingers in his Master's mane, he climbed the older man until he was straddling his hips, shivered as the Force sparked with their shared arousal, and felt that he might explode right there.

"You will not," came the low voice, the accent thick with passion. "I will not allow it."

Obi-Wan was carried to the bed and settled upon it. Climbing up over him, Qui-Gon stripped away their boots and leggings, and then arched over Obi-Wan to remove his own tunics. Long, strong thigh muscles bunched, a supple spine arched. Reaching up eagerly, Obi-Wan ran his fingers from Qui-Gon's sternum to his crotch, lifted and weighed the heavy testicles, caressed the foreskin that was already straining away from the swollen, engorged organ tip.

"Gods.... you're beautiful. So large and so full. Where to begin?"

"I have never been--"

"Don't say that, don't ever say that again!" Obi-Wan hissed. "You can't see what I see, what I've seen for the past thirteen years but haven't been allowed to touch or taste or claim before."

Obi-Wan swirled his hands over the furred chest, the well-defined muscles and all of the small scars. Each one had a history, each one told a story, and Obi-Wan knew them all. Had shared so many of those stories. His hands trembled as he encountered the last scar, earned on Naboo. Tears streaked from the corners of Obi-Wan's eyes only to be lost in his hair.

"I came so close to losing you, and now you have the balls to tell me that you don't want me?"

"My Obi-Wan...." Leaning forward heavily, Qui-Gon braced his hands to the side of Obi-Wan's head. His flowing mane created a private world within its confines as Qui-Gon nuzzled between Obi-Wan's eyes and urged another kiss, this one slower and deeper than the last.

"Of course I want you," he rasped in a voice made rough by passion. Their erections rubbed and throbbed together. "I have wanted you for so long that it is a constant ache inside me. I have wanted you each time you walked out that door on your way to see Tawn, or Sh'Taka, or any of the other two-score lovers you have taken. Wanted you each time I told myself that you could never want me."

His lips were close against Obi-Wan's now, breathing the same breath, speaking against the softness and driving the younger man nearly mad. The bond between them blossomed and expanded as Qui-Gon pushed closer, demanding that Obi-Wan drop his own shields in answer to his master's ever-increasing need.

"I stayed behind every time when you walked out, to battle fury and frustration." Qui-Gon's beard tickled Obi-Wan's lips as he spoke. Settling more heavily over his Padawan, the Master tangled his fingers in the short, spiky hair and caressed Obi-Wan's ears until the younger man writhed beneath him. "Listen to me... feel me against you... and know how much I want you, how much I have always needed you.

"You must be very sure, Obi-Wan, for once we have joined, I will never let you go." He arched slowly against the younger man and purred deep in his throat. "Once I have been inside you, I will stay inside you. You'll never be rid of me, my Padawan. I will claim you and keep you and never let you walk out that door alone again. This is why I ask, repeatedly, are you so certain that you want to tie yourself to me?"

The focused strength of the Master was within him, entwining heart and soul, reaching ever deeper.

"You can refuse me yet." Qui-Gon's lips were at his ear. With every exhalation, the Master made soft noises of need, acknowledged and magnified by Obi-Wan's own body. "You can ask me to go yet, Padawan, and you will be safe. Safe from my need and my possessiveness. But once I have entered you...."

Fingers of the Force caressed him, just there, inside of him. Crying out, Obi-Wan arched and panted as his need expanded tenfold. His fingers curled around Qui-Gon's wrists.

"Master..." he whispered.

"Master, what?" Qui-Gon whispered. Ever so gently, he set up a rocking motion against his Padawan's hips. "Tell me, Obi-Wan.... What do you want?"

"You... always... please!"

"Please what?"

"Dammit, take me!" Raising his head, he snapped his teeth at Qui-

Gon's throat. "Stop teasing me!"

He needed so badly to climax, but before that happened he wanted... Gods, how much he wanted.

"Take me!" he nearly sobbed, entwining his fingers with Qui-Gon's and trying to match that maddening rocking with his own movements. "Gods, Qui-Gon. What do you want from me?"

The Master stilled over him then. Absolutely stilled, and Obi-Wan wanted to scream and lash out in frustration. He settled for shuddering deeply and summoning every ounce of control he'd learned at Qui-Gon's hands to lie still beneath the heavy Master. To match his breathing, and to wait.

"What do I want...." Qui-Gon purred. Lifting his head, he breathed against Obi-Wan. The predator was back, contemplating the fate of his prey. He tightened his grip on Obi-Wan and his blue eyes held raw hunger and a self-knowledge of that hunger that made Obi-Wan's eyes widen. "It's very simple, my Obi-Wan. I want everything."

"What the bloody Sith do you think I'm offering you!"

A long hand caressed the length of his thigh, and Qui-Gon smiled. "What, indeed."

That hand raised Obi-Wan's leg. Qui-Gon slid back a little and Obi-Wan felt him slide between his thighs. His engorged penis slide down as well, caressing every inch of Obi-Wan and leaving trails of moisture behind to remind him of its journey.

"Gods....Master....." Obi-Wan groaned.

"Lift yourself and open to me."

He obeyed, just he had obeyed every other order this man had ever given him. Obi-Wan was then prepared in silence with Force touches and a sweet-smelling oil that appeared seemingly out of nowhere. The new knight was sobbing by the time Qui-Gon began sliding into him, so very slowly, so very... maddeningly... slowly. He clung to his Master's broad shoulders and spread himself wide, savored the heavy heat and musky scent as Qui-Gon thrust ever deeper in the smallest of increments.

Nothing existed in the world but Qui-Gon... his hands urging Obi-Wan upward at intervals, his hips pushing Obi-Wan's legs ever wider in order to give his Master exquisite access to the warm haven before him. Qui-Gon filled him, body and soul, wrapping his mind around the bond they shared as easily as he had wrapped the Padawan braid around his fingers. The claiming came slowly and sweetly, with a Maser's torturous control. Obi-Wan shuddered time and again, certain that he must empty himself before the joining was complete.

"You will not... I will not let you," that voice came again. It echoed through his mind as well as around the room, until Obi-Wan wasn't certain if they were still in Qui-Gon's rooms or if they'd found a private Force level all of their own to share.

Obi-Wan's nose was buried against Qui-Gon's neck, his fingers were tangled in his mane. His senses were filled with the man--the scent of cinnamon and stark arousal, naked power and need. His Master had never been so close, and Obi-Wan felt a fullness, a stretching in both mind and body that had never been there before. Qui-Gon's thrusts took on a languid heaviness, his growls dropped into purrs. The Master stretched that moment into forever, forcing Obi-Wan to ride the wave with him. /Not yet... not yet.... not yet.../ came the litany and the rhythm in his mind. They rode the wave and denied the crest together as the bond expanded within both of them.

Finally, Obi-Wan could stand no more. Summoning all of his will and shaking himself mentally from the spell Qui-Gon had woven so completely around them, the younger man raised his head and fastened his teeth around his Master's earlobe.

Between his teeth, he hissed, "Mine," tightened his grip on Qui-Gon's neck, and quite deliberately sucked.

In an instant, Qui-Gon was roaring over him and thrusting hard. Once, twice, twice and he held there, suspended in the moment. Obi-Wan thought that he felt those full sacs tighten and spasm against him a moment before the Master shuddered deep within him, and crashed over the crest they had created together.

"Padawan!" he screamed, rigid as he came. Obi-Wan continued to suckle, drawing every bit of passion he could, basking in the exploding bond and clutching Qui-Gon's back as his own climax claimed him. It went on and on and on, stretching luxuriously against Qui-Gon's hot stomach, spreading itself and its seed as though it had come home at last.

/I think I have,/ Obi-Wan through smugly. He spread himself mentally across Qui-Gon's mind as he softened, purring his contentment at the all-encompassing bond, savoring the warm, solid, safe connection he felt with this man.

"I love you," Obi-Wan whispered, still attached to Qui-Gon's ear as the older man collapsed over him. At the last minute, Qui-Gon was sentient enough to spare Obi-Wan at least some of his weight.

Boneless and connected, the two men floated for a long time, until day turned to night. Until their entwined limbs were illumined by the silent, eternal traffic of Coruscant. Until Qui-Gon summoned energy enough to shift slightly and kiss his Padawan's temple, the same that had lost its braid so many aeons ago and only that morning.

"I love you, too, Obi-Wan," he managed, his fingers and legs still entwined with his Padawan's.

"Does this mean that you'll empty one of those drawers for me after all?" Obi-Wan asked sleepily.

Qui-Gon laughed softly. "I think it does."



Obi-Wan awoke to boneless bliss and the added bonus of Qui-Gon rubbing his back. He was lying with his face smushed into the pillows and could only mime a kiss when that blanketing mane descended and his Master pressed a kiss at the side of his mouth.

"G'morning," he managed, squinting against the light of day. Never, if he lived to be a hundred, would Obi-Wan be a morning person.

/Good morning,/ came the mental answer, purr-growled as it had never been before.

/The hedonist is back,/ Obi-Wan thought as Qui-Gon settled beside him, pulled him closer, and Force-closed the evil curtains against the light that had awoken him in the first place.

/The hedonist never left, Obi-Wan. He just had to wait until you grew up and decided that you wanted him./

"Oh, I want him." Obi-Wan poked at the expanded bond, the touch that now encompassed him inside and out. "Will it always be this intimate between us?"

"Yes." Qui-Gon smoothed Obi-Wan's hair as it tickled his nose. "The bond has deepened considerably. We can't be parted now, not even by death. That means you'll never be alone again, my Padawan."

"With anyone else, that thought would terrify me," Obi-Wan admitted after thinking about it for along moment. Pressing his lips to his Master's shoulder in an affectionate kiss, he basked in the sated sensation of being well-loved. "With you though, it's like sinking down into warm bath water."

"I think that's one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me," Qui-Gon murmured. "Thank you."

"Anytime, Master." Sighing, Obi-Wan draped an arm around his Master's torso and snuggled closer. He smiled to feel Qui-Gon relax into the new bond, and looked forward to continuing their life together.



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