I could feel Qui-Gon's disappointment and near misery through our bond. He seemed to think that we would never share another night out together, much less another dance outside of the salle.


Over the next few months, I deliberately and systematically coaxed him out, sometimes to meet the same group we'd shared company with at Indiscretions and sometimes by ourselves. We shared lectures and gallery openings, more book sales and visits to the nature dome. To our Coruscant explorations I added every bit of stolen time I could squeeze for us at the ends of missions. We had swims and walks on distant beaches, we invaded bazaars, we attended cultural events. I was at Qui-Gon's side for hours and days on end; my interest never flagged, while his caught fire. After awhile, it became a game between us to see which one of us could think of more things to cram into the spare time we had. Fairly soon, my Master stopped asking, "Wouldn't you rather be doing something different with...." In its place came the question, "Obi-Wan, would you like to...."

I never said no. As I came to know him better as a man and less as my Master, I knew that I would never say no. As long as it was with him, I'd do anything.

Of course his taste in art and events was more mature than mine. Of course we didn't always see eye to eye when it came to forms of entertainment. But he body surfed for hours on Lavio, getting sunburned and growling about it with me, but continuing to challenge the waves. In return, I did my best to study up on and appreciate the ancient ruins of Rorpelk with him. Moldy history wasn't my forte, any more than fighting the sea for a day was his. Yet we enjoyed it because we enjoyed each other.

As the weeks passed, I was encouraged by the fact that no new romantic interest darkened our doorway or claimed my Master's time when we returned from missions. I was dominating his life certainly, but I couldn't be with him every waking moment while we were at home, and I knew all too well that the 'come hither' looks and invitations from knights and other Masters hadn't stopped just because a few rumors had begun that Kenobi and Jinn were seeing a great deal of each other outside of the training salle and their missions.

Those rumors came compliments of the other Padawans who shared the dance floor with us at Indiscretions, not to mention my own circle of friends who confirmed the rumor that Qui-Gon and I were very much together these days. The gossip was strong enough that my Master must have heard it, perhaps he was even questioned about it. When he didn't mention it to me or ask me to spend more time with others, I realized that the first part of my plan had succeeded: we had developed an intimacy to our relationship that was not the norm between Masters and their Padawans. My Master was enjoying being with me. If he'd become bored, or if the rumors of our sharing time together hadn't been to his liking, I was certain that he'd have gone elsewhere by this time to look for company.

I wanted everything with my Master, and knew that while intimacy was a feeling, love was an action. Almost, it was time to implement part two of my plan.

"Has anyone complained about my bringing my Master to Indiscretions?" I asked Garen one afternoon while we shared a table in the commissary. Qui-Gon was seated nearby, but not within earshot as he discussed some matter of consequence with Adi Gallia and another Master.

"No one's complained that I've heard," Garen assured me. "Qui-Gon tells some good stories and he's great company. Is he uncomfortable around us?"

"Not that he's mentioned. I was just wondering." I smiled to myself, seeing that my Master seemed to have bridged the timeless chasm between Padawans and Masters without even half trying. I supposed that after negotiating compromises between diverse races across the galaxy, winning over a few apprentices couldn't be all that difficult. The point was, he'd wanted to do it, else he wouldn't have returned with me to the club and put some effort into it.

"He's not the only Master there now," Garen pointed out. "At first, after you two adapted that kata, everybody wanted to dance with Qui-Gon. Now, they bring their own Masters."

"They still want to dance with mine," I mock grumbled, stabbing my lunch for emphasis.

"He arrives and leaves with you. Only with you" He grinned at me. "Seems you two have become a couple, Obi-Wan. Congrats."

"What are you congratulating me for?"

Garen leaned over his plate, the better to whisper conspiratorially as other, possibly curious, Padawans filled the tables nearby. "I remember that even when you were thirteen, you didn't want to share him. Nothing's changed that I can see, except that now it looks like Qui-Gon doesn't mind being possessed by you."

I rocked back in my seat. "I'm not possessive where he's concerned, Garen. I wouldn't presume--"

"Yeah, right. You walk into that club, all cocky and self-confident with that walk that says you own the world called Master Jinn, and it's good, too. He glides along behind you and watches you with that smug half-smile that shouts, 'Taken.' Whether that means he owns you or that you own him...." Garen shrugged. "Depends on the night and the kata you're dancing. And have you noticed that no matter you two have become regulars, everybody still defers to you and asks *you* for permission to dance with him? He's a Master for crying out loud and he's sitting right there, all silvered calm and majesty, but you're the one they ask, 'Do you mind if I?...' You nod your consent like some grand pasha granting leave for them to touch your minion. Only then do they turn to your Master and ask him to dance. Sith-spit, Obi, you're just his Padawan, but everybody senses that he belongs to you. 'Look all you want,' your attitude says, 'dance or spar, but don't touch him or I'll have to cut off something important."

I widened my eyes. "I'm that obvious?"

"Oh, yeah."

I glanced across at my Master. "Do you think he's noticed?"

"Noticed? Sith hells, Obi-Wan, he *condones* it. Goes along and seems perfectly comfortable with it. It's been the talk of the Temple for weeks now, and nobody's seen him doing anything to change it."

I knew from experience that if the corridors were talking about something Qui-Gon wanted quashed, it was quashed. One clipped word of disapproval, one cold blue-eyed glower, and the subject died. Clearly, the subject was alive and well and basking beneath his... beneficence?

I watched Qui-Gon surreptitiously the next evening we attended Indiscretions. Sure enough, he did seem to be somewhat amused and defer to me when the other Padawans approached, regardless the purpose of their approach was clear; to spend a bit of time with my Master. Lounging back in the chair at the table we had come to claim as our usual, with his shoulder rubbing against mine, Qui-Gon silently watched them come. His eyes were dark, smoldering as they assessed each petitioner. He did not shift his position to welcome them; he sat like some insouciant savannah cat waiting for me to endorse their dance. Only after that did he shift his weight forward, nod, and rise to accept the invitation.

There seemed to be other, unwritten rules to this game, as well. Qui-Gon maintained a minimum of a half-meter between himself and the other person; he never touched anyone but me on that floor. He shared only one dance per evening with each petitioner, and he always returned to my side immediately after the dance was done. Returning to his chair, he settled back until his shoulder was once more touching mine. Retrieving his drink, he calmly resumed our conversation and was ever the cool, tranquil Jedi.

We had definitely settled into a life beyond what he had offered me after Bandomeer as Master and Padawan. I continued making it clear that I enjoyed being with him every chance he would allow. In return, he began almost courting me.

Covering my hand with his own while we ate together one morning -- in full view of everyone in the commissary, no less -- he stroked my skin and commented softly, "You have beautiful fingers, Obi-Wan."

"S-so do you," was all I could stammer as a jolt of desire shot through me. His touch was so unexpected and so welcome, for a moment I didn't know how to react. After he'd withdrawn his hand, I wished that I'd had the presence of mind to clutch his fingers with mine and not let go.

Smiling so that his blue eyes danced, he nodded and returned his attention to his meal. Less than an hour later, we were waiting serenely atop a landing pad for our mission transport to arrive. Reaching over, my Master ran his fingers through my hair and seemed lost in thought for a long moment.

"I've always enjoyed the color of your hair. I find that I'm looking forward to your knighting, when you can grow it out. Then, there will be more of it for me to enjoy."

I'd been the subject of Qui-Gon's intense focus before -- in the training salle or while he drilled me on some military strategy or historical ruckus -- but it had never felt like this. It had never created a delicious coiling within me. I realized that the blue eyes boring into mine were studying me intently, watching for my reaction, perhaps. /Might you welcome my touch, Obi-Wan?/

I felt the question as clearly as if he'd sent it singing across the bond. My answer was gods, yes. He didn't catch me off-guard this time: bowing with all solemnity, I said,"I will enjoy your enjoyment then, Master."

Reaching up, I dared to slide a hand up his chest and beneath his heavy hair to sift my fingers through it.

"You know, I've been able to indulge myself a little more than you have over the years," I murmured, deliberately speaking so softly that he had to lean down to hear me. "You've let me tend your hair since I became your Padawan." Just so there would be no mistake as to my meaning, I opened my side of the bond and sent feelings of contentment and near-awe his way. /I love touching you any way you'll let me./

I had no way of knowing if he'd pick up the thought along with the emotions, but I thought there was a good chance he might. Laying a hand on my shoulder, Qui-Gon pulled me in for a hug and caressed my cheek with his beard. He seemed about to say something more when our transport descended, it's repulsors thrumming, and all chance for conversation was lost in the noise. Stepping back, he slid his hands back into his robes and was once more the visual epitome of the austere Jedi Master. The bond between us thrummed with his pleasure, though -- a quiet sort of passion and promise, all for me.

He wasn't trying to seduce me; what he was seeking was far more important than simple seduction. This was my Master starting to explore the possibility of touching between us. 'You know that I love you. I want you to know that I have also noticed and am enjoying your body,' he seemed to be telling me, man to man rather than Master to Padawan.

Outwardly, I was the picture of the perfect Padawan with my hands tucked into my sleeves and my gaze cast downward as I followed Qui-Gon onto the transport and bowed at his side to greet our host. Inwardly, I was counting up the months and making the realization that it had been almost a year since Dagan had left my Master's life. Our relationship had been growing slowly, steadily for nearly twelve months. I was eager to move that relationship forward; so was my Master, it appeared.


Obi-Wan and I share everything but sex. This includes the physical attraction and the accompanying tension, the slow, steady, nerve-wracking anticipation of touching, along with the soul-searing sensitivity whenever we happen to brush up against each other.

He is twenty-three now, and while I acknowledge my Padawan's adulthood I am still uncertain and very insecure. I do not want to wreck what we have for something we yearn to have. I do not want to reach for him, only to discover that my touching disappoints him and hurts us. I want to wait until he is knighted, until we can meet as equals. Then, if he finds our lovemaking is unsatisfactory, Obi-Wan can escape my company easily and move on with his life.


The Council sent me on a solitary mission to Rhialta's distant moon a few days ago. Obi-Wan stayed behind at the Temple in order complete two finals and finally be caught up with his peers who spend more time at the Temple. As accommodating and conscious as the Council has been to my Padawan's academic progress, I suspect that they are gearing up to send us on either a very long, difficult mission, or a series of small, physically and mentally exhausting ones. They never do things by halves, and they never indulge a Master/Padawan team without exacting payment later in some diabolical form.

It felt strange, not having him at my side. For months, he has been nowhere else, and I've liked having him there. Very much. I was only two days away, lecturing on "From Creche to Death: A Jedi's Life" at a civilian conference on comparative religion. It was a lecture I'd given a few times before, one that required little preparation beyond digging out my old notes and tailoring same to the time allotted to me.

I arrived late the night before, wrapped in my robes from the moment I exited the luxurious transport, saying as few words as possible to the nervous assistant who met me and disappearing into the suite of rooms they'd secured for me. It was all part of playing the mysterious Jedi -- a role that the organizers much expected me to fulfill. The rules demanded that I not appear until the function began, and then I was expected to be strictly.... well, Jedi. Not a difficult assignment, but one made fifty times more boring without Obi-Wan at my side and his sardonic commentary running across the bond.

I retreated to my rooms, took a short shower, and sank into a meditative trance. Not much was left of the night; they would require my presence in only a few hours, so that sleep was out of the question. Sunlight was spilling in through the blinds, and a service droid was asking permission to enter when next I opened my eyes. Breakfast was wheeled in, and I stared at the offerings. No ordinary fare this; every one of my favorites was there, things no convention organizer could have known.

"Who ordered this for me?"

Wheeling away from the cart, the droid whistled and directed a blue column of light onto the carpeting.

"Good morning, Master." There, in adorable miniature, stood my Obi-Wan. Bowing formally, he locked his holographic gaze into mine and grinned. "I hope that you'll forgive my boldness this morning, and also that you'll find the food to your liking. They assured me that everything would be as I ordered, right down to the tea brewed to your exacting standards. If it is not, please let me know and we'll have the service droid beheaded."

That grin again, so self-confident and cocky that I laughed out loud. "I miss you, Obi-Wan. I wished you were here with me, to share all of this."

"I miss you, too, Master."

Gods, but he was transmitting live. No wonder he was so small, it was the cheapest medium available, I was sure. Going down on one knee, I stretched out my hand and looked at him intently. "You can't afford the credits to pay for this, Padawan."

"I pulled in a few favors, Master. Don't worry about it. I didn't want you going into battle ungirded by a decent meal, and I knew you wouldn't bother to eat if I wasn't there with you."

"How well you know me."

He offered another bow and reached out to me. His blue hand swept through mine in miniature; his mind-touch no less strong for the distance between us.

"Enjoy, Master. I'll be waiting when you get back."

And he was gone. The tantalizing scent from the jaqua cakes was not, however, and I rose to dismiss the droid and savor them. Obi-Wan had planned well; the tea was perfect, as was the rest of the meal. I felt less lonely, less alone while I dressed, knowing that back on Coruscant Obi-Wan was going about his duties and looking forward to my return. I was amused and touched by all the trouble he'd gone to. I was also hungry. He satisfied that hunger quite nicely, as I was certain he'd satisfy any need I cared to place before him. I wasn't certain what I'd done to deserve such a Padawan, much less the gentle care of such a beautiful man. Whatever it was, I hoped to the Force that I'd continue doing it.


On to next chapter