Title: Tenet Nosce|
Fandom: SW: The Phantom Menace
Summary: When Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon's orders are switched from helping Naboo to chasing slavers, it changes their lives forever.
Series: Bonds of Choice #1
Paring: Obi-Wan/ Qui-Gon
Category: Slash, First Time, AU, Angst
Status: New; Complete
Date: July 14, 1999
Witnesslist Category: Inadmissible in Court
Disclaimer: Not mine, no money. please don't hurt me.
Archive: Yes to: CKoS, haven-of-fic, M_A, RedRoom, Smutfic, TheRestIsSilence, TranformationFic, Witnesslist, WWOMB
All Others: Just let me know where.
Warnings: M/M sex, AU
Notes: This is an AU. It takes place during TPM, but from a safe distance, at Qui-Gon's request.
BOOCOBIGTHANKYOUS to Rauhnee for betas and Battle Training info. Semper Fi!
HUGEHONKINTHANKYOUS to Dorian for the most intense beta in the universe. You are the Grammar Goddess!
LOVEFLUFFANDNUTTERS to Beldthora Serpentsdottir for dragging this beast through creation and whumping my muses. Also love to the rest of the Dysphasian Vandals for alphas, deck time and repeated assurances that I hadn't lost my mind. May I have my mind back now?
First in a planned series, which will get more and more AU, but hey, the next one's gonna have Obi-Wan bellydancing, so that's worthwhile, too. Right? Feedback will help the writing process.
This story began because of some flip remarks made on the Muse List regarding Obi-Wanmuse whupping my Highlandermuses, pink powdery stuff from Andelu 2, and an at-the-time uninvented "Feathers of Heaven" trick. Having shot my mouth off, my muses (with conspirators in the persons of Rauhnee and her Qui-Gonmuse) got this story finished despite my protests.
"Focus. Concentrate. Don't think - feel. Trust your instincts."
*If I had a credit for every time I've heard that ...* Obi-Wan thought. *Okay, so do it!*
Once again Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padawan, stepped onto the chair his Master had set up for him. A strong chord ran from two anchor points in the walls. He focused his thoughts. Entered the present tense, the moment and he was stepping onto the chord, focusing on it, feeling it through the Force, breathing slowly, with control, finding balance within his body and mind. Focus.
The laser blast cut at him from high and to the right. Lightsaber met the attack easily as the vodbird floated around him, attacking from all angles. High, low, back, front, all sides were equally open to attack.
Don't think - feel.
Obi-Wan defended himself seamlessly, returning each volley to the vodbird. When they stopped, he simply held himself ready. When they began again, he defended himself, advancing and retreating along the line, balance and feelings in a harmony of actions. He could see what was about to happen and had the block in place before the attack began - Jedi traits, Jedi training, Jedi abilities all together in this fluid dance of light and energy and simple human flesh.
"Good. You may come down now," said the calm, deep voice of his Master.
Just for fun, Obi-Wan executed a tight backflip for his dismount. "May I remove the blindfold, Master?"
"Yes, of course. Go ahead and begin cooling down. There is something I want to discuss with you about this next mission." Qui-Gon was seated at a low table near the window. Stars sped by, and in the far distance Obi-Wan could make out the shape of their quarry.
"Master, why are we on this mission? I thought we were to settle the trade dispute of some sort, closer to the outer rim." Cooling down slowly to prevent his muscles from stiffening up, Obi-Wan walked in little circles beside the table.
"The Council has sent others to Naboo to deal with that. We have enough problems with traders right now without them thinking they can run slave freighters under our noses. This must be stopped before the Senate loses what little bit of respect exists out here." Watching the stars pass by, Qui-Gon Jinn, Jedi Master, was the picture of serenity. He had kept his student in the dark about the nature of the mission until just this moment.
"You said it was contraband goods! We're not just going to destroy that ship when we get to her, are we?" Kenobi paused his step for a moment, then continued his pacing.
"No. We're going to attempt to board them, save what individuals we can. The hope is to take the ship intact and bring it back here." Qui-Gon went to the console and pulled up a display of a star system. "Martari, a colony world. We should be able to sort out there."
Obi-Wan filed the information away for future reference.
"Now, the complication to this is that the assault will be two-pronged, and extremely dangerous. I think it would be best if you and I split up, one going with each boarding party," Qui-Gon poured a cup of water for his apprentice and held it out to him. It was accepted as the little circle brought them close. Obi-Wan sipped as he paced. "Tell me what you remember about smugglers' ships."
"Well, they're usually undermanned, overloaded and a technological nightmare. Everything sacrificed for the size of the cargo it can carry. No heavy weapons array, no personal quarters, very minimalistic on the droids they carry. Most smugglers seem to rely on sentient lifeforms for their crew." He was dragging up every case of piracy and smuggling he could recall, every precedent and past history, summarizing as patterns emerged. "They usually rely on speed and short trips to keep them out prison. And bribes in the right pockets."
"Except now they have us on their tail, and they've lost some of their ship's drive capabilities in that little skirmish day before yesterday. They're fast, but not fast enough. It will come to fighting, I'm sure. They're not ones to surrender easily." Qui-Gon gestured for his student to sit. "What I'm telling you is that you will be fighting sentient beings, not droids. I will not be at your side in this fight, although I do wish it otherwise. You are ready for this, Obi-Wan."
"You're telling me I may have to kill a person without you beside me?" Obi-Wan quickly shuffled through memories of the battles he had seen. There were many to choose from, and many dangers survived. He realized that he had brought more than his fair share of death to the Universe, especially for one with just 22 years; whispers of doubt and loathing skirted through his mind. They were immediately quelled with the rock-solid assurance that the Force had guided his every action. Pure and unshakable training by his master had brought him to those moments in time. He briefly wondered how different killing might be without the steadying presence of Qui-Gon at his side.
"I hope not. We plan to break through the lower cargo holds, go upwards, take the bridge in the forward central deck, then pilot the slaves and goods back to Martari. In theory, we shouldn't see much resistance. Once we breach the cargo bay doors, we'll have just two decks between victory and us. Through the bay, up through what we believe to be the prisoner hold and onto the command deck." Another display lit up on the console, outlining the attack. The ship was simple and basic with four decks-- the lower one being a cargo hold. It had two main bay doors for loading on opposite sides of the craft. Taking both sides simultaneously would split the strength of the skeleton crew even further.
Obi-Wan saw the wisdom of the plan, but the thought of facing another sentient being in battle, of taking a life, of doing this without his master close at hand made his stomach clench hard. Fear. He locked down on it, focusing, tracing the emotion back to its source where it could be dealt with.
The unknown. He was afraid of the unknown. Well, he had his abilities, his training, and the assurance that his master thought him ready. These were the only tools he needed to face the unknown. He focused on the moment, and let the fear go.
He looked up and found his master smiling at him. "Very good, young Padawan. Very good."
Sitting still had become less and less possible over the past few hours; the Arata was fast approaching its quarry. The vessel 'Kitgorian' had failed to comply with Republic inspection standards, then bolted from port as soon as the authorities began to make noises about it. If they'd known whom to bribe, this whole mess could have been avoided. Instead, Padawan Learner Obi-Wan Kenobi found himself getting a serious case of the jitters. His concentration was splintering piece by piece as their quarry lost its head start on them.
*It's not fear this time. It's something else. Something important is about to happen, and I feel it. I can't quite see it yet.* This had happened on occasion, and he almost asked Qui-Gon if he sensed it as well. One look and he didn't need to ask. The Jedi narrowed his eyes, then relaxed them once every few minutes, a dead giveaway that he was trying to work something out. *Something IS about to happen, but I can't see it because the outcome is unclear.*
Still, that didn't help with the pre-battle jitters.
The boarding went pretty close to the plan. The assault craft locked on to the exterior of the cargo bay doors, and Obi-Wan entered the airlock. The inner doors closed behind him, then the outer doors opened to reveal the naked hull of the smugglers' vessel. He cut a rough doorway in the hull using his light saber and held a careful breath while he kicked the center loose. Rush of pressure change as Obi-Wan closed the outer doors again. Then the inner door opened and the assault began.
The Jedi ended up playing rearguard for most of the trip through the lower cargo hold. * Not that there's all that much to guard against.*
They made it to the ladder that led to the next deck up and emerged into hell.
This was the deck they were using to hold the prisoners. Rows and lines of sling-bunks marched from one side to the other. Individuals were webbed in place, apparently under some sort of sedation for the journey. The hold was bitterly cold, and every surface seemed to be frosted over from the breathing of the humanoids imprisoned in their own bodies. The air was not the only thing that made Kenobi shiver.
One end of the room was a swarm of laser blasts and screams of pain. The catwalks above were thick with pirate crew blasting down into the hold. Obi-Wan shouted, "Take them out! Quickly!" The fighters with him spread out and began mounting a defense for the helpless souls around them. The young Jedi could see that the force on the catwalk was now concentrating on a single target, one that was giving them no small amount of difficulty. He made out a flash of white then blue, down one of the rows and ran towards it. *The enemy of my enemy ...*
He came up beside her, Light Saber at the ready, but not anticipating an attack. A figure in white with pale blue fur turned, nodded once and gestured with a long silver-colored staff. Kenobi directed his focus towards the intended target that was being pointed out - one of the catwalk supports. The other support was swaying crazily but went unnoticed, as it was supporting a path unused by the enemy force. A quick dash, and Obi-Wan cut through the other support.
The catwalk swayed under its own weight, twisting as it tumbled and making a sort of helix arcing from the floor, up to the remaining pathway, and back down to the floor. Defending himself from the laser fire as he ran, Kenobi dashed to the other end. His new ally made it to the other side of the twisted arch and began climbing up. The added weight pulled everything just a little off balance, with a jump and he had hold of the steel mesh that made up the floor of the ex-walkway. His weight corrected the near-collapse, and he put his Lightsaber in his teeth and climbed quickly. He could see his co-conspirator coming up the other side just as quickly; they reached the top almost simultaneously, with enemies on either side of them turning to cut them down.
They stood back to back, Obi-Wan finding that calm place within his focus once more. The blaster fire and its deflection became the only reality. Somewhere below him he caught the greenish glow of Qui-Gon's saber, but then it was gone, and there was only motion and the moment and the feel of a stranger guarding his back. His breathing came less easily, but the nearest fighters were down. Taking a step towards the others, Obi-Wan let his precognition take control; he fluidly deflected the oncoming fire and cut down his enemy one by one. When the last one was down, and still, he turned, looking for his comrade.
The catwalk had been cleared of danger. Swinging over the side, Obi-Wan dropped to the floor below and rejoined his group as they made their way to the bridge
The captain had surrendered by the time Obi-Wan arrived. Qui-Gon was quietly advising the leader of the assault team but turned away with a smile and a nod when he saw Obi-Wan. "Come, Padawan. We are not needed here."
Obi-Wan followed his master back down to one of the boarding vehicles, onto the Arata and into their quarters in silence. Qui-Gon had hot tea on the table between them before they spoke.
"All right, tell me what happened," he opened.
Obi-Wan drew in a breath. Making sure his voice would be steady, he collected his thoughts. He opened his lips to reply, but a small choking sound was all he could manage. He looked at his master closely for the first time in many days. The gentle hands, the purposeful gaze, the soft lips and thick hair came into sharp focus. A man of peace, a man of justice, a man of purity and light looked back at him through his master's eyes.
*Too beautiful,* Obi-Wan thought. It was too beautiful, when so much ugliness had just surrounded him, so he closed his eyes for a moment. There, in the darkness, the images of the battle came back, more clearly than he had seen them in the moment they had occurred. The ugly mayhem he had brought into being, using the skills his gentle teacher had so carefully given him. He smelled again the cauterized flesh of a once living being, saw the torso separate as life was destroyed. Within him the echoes of screams, the smell of offal as dead bodies voided, tasted his own blood from where he had accidentally bitten his own lip. The faces of those he had killed, their bodies fallen around him. These people, he knew, had families, comrades who would miss them. These beings had been loved or hated but were now, because of him, just dead. He opened his eyes again, then folded his arms on the table and put his head down.
Qui-Gon held him while he wept.
The dreams had chased him back into wakefulness, and he was confused for a moment, but not at the fact that the shadows were unfamiliar, as was the room and bed. He didn't really have a room to call his own anymore. No, the oddness was familiarity. His boots were off, as well as his cloak. Just pants and shirt on, now that he thought about it, and something familiar. A sound?
No. A smell. Obi-Wan put his hand out across the bed and encountered the locks of his master's hair. Hm. Why were they in the same bed? Not that this was an odd occurrence. Even the prestigious Jedi were put into situations where they were lucky to have a place to lay down at all. But on the Atara, they had been assigned a suite with a smaller bedchamber to one side for Obi-Wan. *Something must have happened ... I'll just go to bed.*
He was snuggled down between the cool sheets before the memories pounded back to the forefront of his mind. He sat up, screaming wordlessly.
Qui-Gon was at his side instantly. "Shh, shh. It's okay, it's over now."
"It'll never be over. This is what my life will be, forever! I've always known it, but now it's real. They'll die and die, because if they don't I'll die," the young Padawan was sobbing helplessly. "I'm sorry, Master. I've failed you totally."
"You must sleep. I'll put you under, and we'll talk about this tomorrow," Master Jinn touched his student's moist cheek. "Relax."
It was not the sleep of the dead, but just enough to rest him for the lessons he must learn.
Obi-Wan's body dragged him back into the land of the living at the normal hour the next day. He ran on autopilot long enough to get to the training area, where he sank to his knees and waited for Qui-Gon. His master was not long in arriving. Obi-Wan stayed at rest, waiting for his master's word.
"How do you feel, Padawan?"
"Angry, disgusted, sad. Afraid."
"And what are you afraid of?"
Kenobi tried to center himself, to find the balance that had come so easily just one day before. "I'm afraid that I have failed you, that all your time has been wasted on me. I don't know what is wrong with me. How could I do ... the things I've done? Why did you teach me how to do them? If this is the path of the Light, I don't see how the Dark Side can be all that much worse." Obi-Wan half wanted to take his words back, but also wanted to shout them to the world.
"Then you can see how doubt and fear lead to the Dark Side. I think all that is really needed now is a bit of perspective. Come along."
Obi-Wan followed his master out of their room and down one deck to another private suite. Qui-Gon touched the panel by the door, and a chime rang within. "Come," someone called, and the door slid back.
Qui-Gon turned to his student and gestured for him to enter first. When Obi-Wan turned, his master was gone. The door closed behind him, and he scanned the room for its occupant. Finally he spied a still form in a tiny alcove to the left. "Hello?"
"Greetings. I see you survived the fray. My name is La'Karata Nurian. I wanted to thank you for your help with saving my people." The figure stood and stepped into the light Obi-Wan recognized the blue person from the slave hold. "You're all right? Your people? Can you explain that a little better?"
"It could have been a lot worse. As soon as the attack began, those bastards came down and started picking us off. If you hadn't stopped them, I fear no one would have survived. Now instead of dying unknown by the orders of Gardola the Hutt, we can make our way back to Nevatha and begin again."
"Your whole race? You can't be serious! There was no more than a few thousand in that hold." His words were cut off as she stepped closer. He could see that the blue was actually a short, thin fur that covered her body. Pale cream stripes and spots mottled the upper arms and shoulder that was exposed by her simple wrap.
"Oh yes, Jedi Kenobi. We have waged wars and wars, trying to retain our freedom. Our numbers have been diminished, but we still remain. As long as the Nurians survive, so do our people. I am still here, and so are a few others, so have no fear for us. We have survived worse than being hijacked, rescued and relocated. The reason I am here is that you have rendered great service to us and must be rewarded. I have been selected to provide this reward.". Stepping closer, she took his hand.
"Please, La'Karata Nurian, I seek no reward, wish no gratitude. I did that which was mine to do, no more."
"But no less, and surely you understand that what you do is ... special. Now I will offer you something equally special." Her mouth closed over his, and he found himself lost in the drift of his own thoughts. Her mouth sucked at his, opened and explored easily, with calm familiarity. He closed his eyes and relaxed, felt her body go boneless against his. He wrapped his arms around her, seeking connection, reaching to find ...
He broke off abruptly. "No, no. I do not want this. This was a mistake, please forgive me." He stepped back, towards the door.
"Obi-Wan, wait. Listen, listen."
He paused instinctively, ready to hear all that was and was not said.
"You have a strong capacity for love in your heart, one that you do not always acknowledge. Emotion that strong can be both a strength and a weakness at the same time. If you do not find its place in your destiny, it may destroy you." She turned to a table and picked up a long slender box. "Here you will find one of the more ... eclectic gifts of the Nurians. If you wish to follow the path of desire, these will be invaluable to you. But first, you must find that path and decide whether or not to take it."
He opened the box and found three long vials of oils and a set of exquisite, exotic plumes. Beside these were the Palele branches and a round shaker. Opening this, he saw a goodly supply of pale pink powder known for its sensual properties. His eyes widened. "This is worth a fortune. Cava, Meran and Srepha oils, the plumes ... I can not accept these. They would only travel the stars with me. These should be given to those who would use them." He closed the box and held it out to her.
"Think before you offer them to me. Look closely at everything here. I know you aren't some blushing virgin, even if you play the part of a cloistered monk. Nobody grows up in that den of iniquity the capital has become and stays pure. Feel; know your instincts and desires. That is the first rule of the Nurians, and perhaps the only advice I can give you. We thank you for your help." She turned away from him and drew on her cloak. "I must get back to the others. They will need my skills."
"What are you to them? Leader? Healer?" a multitude of questions bubbled to his lips.
"I am what needs to be, and that changes from moment to moment." She picked up her staff, and he saw it was now a slate gray, not the bright silver he remembered. "You will always be a friend to us, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Your name is in our book of heroes."
And like Qui-Gon, she was gone. He looked around the now empty room, his brain just now catching up to all that she had said. Kneeling down, he centered himself in the pose of rest and reflection. Setting down the box, he blew out an exasperated breath "Calm yourself," he whispered. If ever he needed the guidance of the Force, it was now.
The universe fell away. Obi-Wan focused on his movements, lifting the box lid again and laying items out neatly. To his left he arranged the three bottles of oil and the Palele branches. On his right he placed the bundle of plumes and a small coil of twine. Beneath the plumes Obi-Wan found a slim volume. It was handwritten, in TeVadarian, not his best language. There were lovely illustrations that also seemed to have been hand painted. He took a deep, cleansing breath, and began the laborious task of translating the information.
Hours later Obi-Wan put the book aside and rose to stretch his limbs. The painful return of circulation to his lower extremities caused him to check the time. Good, a while yet before his master would miss him. Time enough, though. Gathering up his gift, Obi-Wan placed the assorted items on the table and arranged them according to the book's careful illustration. Then he moved to the open area in the center of the room and moved through several poses and exercises to wake himself more fully to emotion. Obi-Wan's focus became centered on what he wanted, that which he most desired, and he directed his focus into making it a reality.
Taking up the coil of twine, Obi-Wan separated one barely visible thread from the bundle. He laid it carefully aside and took up the bundle of feathers. From the array of textures and colors, he selected three rich, blue plumes and placed them beside the thread. Then Obi-Wan took one long, roughly barbed feather, and put it before him on the table. The others he bundled back together and placed back in the box. From the Palele branches he took one about as thick as his smallest finger and began removing the dry leaves and twigs, then the outer bark, which left him with a perfectly smooth wand about equal with the length of his arm.
Turning the pages of the book absently with the Force, he also used that power to lift the rough-barbed feather before him. He considered it from all sides, then delicately stripped all the barbs upward, off the quill, leaving just the wide, round, flat head attached. The barbs were green and golden, the same as the round pattern in the tip. They gathered up against that pattern in a fluffy, wild bunch. He took the Palele wand in one hand, held it against the long quill, and caught the thread up, guided and touched only by his control of the Force. Then he began the long process of wrapping the quill to the wand.
When the first feather was finished, Obi-Wan began the ritual again, with the softer, blue feathers. This time the going was even more slow as he took his time to wrap carefully around the barbs as they stood on the quill. These feathers were too delicate to be altered in any way, so he took the finest care to protect each fine plume. The book explained that this technique had been developed by a culture with very strong telekinetic powers. Obi-Wan felt his use of the Force was about as close as he would come to those abilities in this lifetime, and he was grateful for all the long hours Qui-Gon has spent in his training. *Perhaps I can give some of that care back.*
When he laid the completed feathers down, he discovered that his body was trembling, and slick with sweat. He decided to push himself a bit and complete the creation, although time was running short. Focusing on the moment, he pushed that consideration from his mind. On the side of the box was a long, flat drawer, built into the false bottom. He pulled it out, took out one of the many packets, and drew his light saber. He took also from the drawer a small metal dish. Into this he placed the aromatic herbs from within the packet, and he lit them with his saber. Not quite to ritual specifications, but there was reverence in the act. When the smoke was billowing nicely, he held the feathers within it. The long barbs took on a bronze glow, as if they might be burning from within, then shifted to red, and progressed through the visible light spectrum. When they luminesced indigo, Obi-Wan spoke the name of the one this pair had been created for.
Abruptly the glow departed, and he was left holding two very precious Feathers of Heaven.
He packed his gift, and with it, his hope, then made his way back the quarters he shared with his master. His clothes were as sweaty and wrinkled as if he had spent the whole morning in strenuous exercise. Stripping down and getting into the fresher cubicle, he let the pulses remove the waste from his skin, which left him pink and clean He was into clean clothes with the speed learned early on in his training. Every fold perfect, his hair in place, and ready to face whatever the Universe had chosen to throw at him today. The Feather box he stowed in his personal storage then sat to wait for Qui-Gon.
His master entered, nodding to his apprentice before making his way into the fresher. Qui-Gon looked tired, wrung out from whatever he'd been doing all morning. Obi-Wan was selfishly grateful to know that his master might be just as tired as he himself was. When the other Jedi returned, he waved one hand towards the catering unit and sat down at the low table. Obi-Wan wasted no time in dialing up and serving a meal for them. They ate in silence, until Qui-Gon pushed his chair back and folded his hands at his waist.
"It seems the entire slave cargo was the remaining population of a planet called Kurasa. The Hutt have taken it by now, I'm sure. The Nurians say it has been rendered useless to their people as a home. We spent all day and found a new colony world for them. It's a little further to go, but La'Karata Nurian assures us that they will be able to survive on their own without further assistance from us or the Republic." Qui-Gon fixed his apprentice with a narrow look. "She also tells me that her people rewarded you."
"Master, I tried to refuse, to return it, but it seems there are complications with this particular gift." Obi-Wan began.
"Normally, I would march you down there and see it returned immediately..."
Obi-Wan felt his stomach turn over.
"However," Qui-Gon continued, "After spending a few hours with La'Karata, I believe you. Perhaps if I saw this gift, I could understand what was so special about it."
Now his stomach was running through an enthusiastic aerobic workout. "You want to see the gift?"
"Yes. Now will be soon enough."
"Yes, Master, of course." He rose to retrieve the box. "But please understand, if I offer this gift to you, and you feel you can not accept, I will have to destroy them."
"Really? Is it that important? Perhaps you should make your own decision in this regard."
"No, Master. There is no other being I could offer them to." Obi-wan took the box out of the cabinet and set it on his chair. After clearing the dishes from the table, he placed the box before his master. "I followed the instructions for the creation of this pair. Although there are supplies here for perhaps fifty pairs, I will destroy them all if it is your wish."
He lifted the lid and took out the two carefully worked Feathers of Heaven. Placing them before Qui-Gon, he looked up. Hope shone in his eyes.
Qui-Gon looked at the objects before him, then back at his young apprentice. Obi-Wan took out the oils and set them beside the feathers, then added the shaker of Heaven Dust to the offering. "Do you know what these are for?" he asked his student.
"Yes, Master. There were rather detailed instructions included." He held the book out for his master's approval, but it was waived aside.
"And you understand what this offer implies?"
"Well, if it's only an implication at this point, I'd rather just say it out loud. I care about you very deeply, and I wish to offer you a sexual relationship, Master."
"Not love undying? Not eternal devotion to my very being?"
"I do not have these things to offer at this moment. If they are required of me, let us destroy these and never speak of it again." Obi-Wan reached for his light saber and made ready to undo all the hours of work he had put into the crafting of the gift.
"No, no. Do not do that yet. I ask because yesterday you went through an extremely unsettling experience, and now you come to me with this offer," Qui-Gon began.
"I meant to save these until I knew exactly how I felt. Your request pressed the point," Obi-Wan explained. His heartbeat was picking up, and he moved to control his breathing. He knew he loved Qui-Gon, deeply, and with all the devotion described. He had fought this bond so long it might be too late to let it be.
And besides, Qui-Gon made no indication as to whether or not the feelings could be reciprocated.
"Obi-Wan, put these away. Do not destroy them, but put them aside. It will be as though the offer was not made. If, at some future point, you feel you can honestly offer them to me, then we will have this conversation again."
Obi-Wan let out a sigh of relief and packed his gift away - still no indication of acceptance, but no outright rejection, either.
Two days later the Arata and her prize set down on the colony planet of Renal Sejon. It took another day of scouting to find an appropriate area to establish the new colony, and the better part of another to get the five thousand refugees settled. Being a nomadic people in their own right, the Kurasans wasted no time in laying the groundwork to re-establish their accustomed lifestyle. The five thousand separated into their respective clans and worked under the direction of the ten surviving Nurians. The Nurians were a combination of tribal chiefs, spiritual leaders and civil engineers. Their plan was ready and orders issued before the Arata touched down. In the morning of their third day hunting parties were out, housing was being seen to in a rudimentary sort of way, and noises were being made to the effect that the Republic's people could be on their way now.
Qui-Gon had awarded them anything they might want from the pirate ship, and they took everything, except highly technological equipment that they could not maintain on their own. They sent a message to their Senator on Coruscant, something to the effect of 'Having a nice time. Wish you were here.' Obi-Wan was at a loss to understand these people; the gift they had given him had put his mind off-center. He decided to go speak to La'Karata before they left.
She was in one of the cone-shaped tents that had been cobbled together from what looked to be very expensive cloth. No doubt one of the items meant to be sold along with the people now occupying it. He waited outside, as he had seen others do, and when she saw him standing there, she motioned for him to enter. She was seated on a flat cushion, with several more on the floor around her. He gestured towards one, and she nodded. After a moment's hesitation, Obi-Wan dropped into a cross-legged pose, one he knew he could maintain for hours in comfort, if required. "La'Karata Nurian, I am afraid I must seek your advice," he began.
"You come to me, rather than to your Master?" she asked.
"It is difficult for an advisor to be objective when the matter at hand is one's self," he clarified.
"Ah, yes. This concerns the gift I gave you? You offered to him, and he did not accept."
"No, not exactly. He knows I may make the offer at some point, but now I am unsure as to whether or not I want to."
She fixed him with a long, level gaze. "Try again."
"I'm not sure that he will accept, so I'm afraid to offer."
Again, the Look. "Closer. Let's do that one more time."
Obi-Wan began to see why she was in such a high position amongst her people. Her way was much the same as Qui-Gon's when faced with a difficult person. Like himself. "I don't know what you want me to say."
"The truth. The pure and simple truth. You know for a fact that your master would accept the offer of a physical liaison with you. What you do not know is if he will accept the love you feel for him, and you are frightened of his rejection. Fear clouds your thinking, boy."
*She would have made an excellent Jedi, if the Force were strong with her,* he thought. Still, her words had merit. He calmed his mind, with an effort he was not used to putting forth any more. Fear burned within him. Fear of being put away, unloved, perhaps sent to a new Master if the offense was deep enough. All baseless fears, really. Qui-Gon had all but raised him, seen him through his experimental stage with smiling eyes and words of wisdom. The one time Qui-Gon had flatly forbidden an association, it had turned out for the better to such a degree that Obi-Wan had simply ceased to question his master's guidance in such matters. No such words of condemnation had been voiced on this question.
Then again, the word 'Love' had never entered into the conversation.
All the hurting and confusion around his heart and mind stemmed from this one thing: Was he, Obi-Wan Kenobi, a person worthy of love?
He opened himself to the Force and let it all drain away. Feel -- don't think. Go with your instincts.
He crossed the distance between himself and La'Karata on his knees. Her arms went around his shoulders as he drew her close for a long, hot kiss. Her mouth was soft, tender, willing, and his body reacted to the embrace with a startling swiftness. He stroked the soft fur on her arms before reaching up to sink his fingers into the long, luxurious hair he had ached for, night after night.
Hair that was not there. Her skull was covered in the same blue fur as the rest of her body. He sat back on his heels. "It's him, isn't it?" he asked.
"Why else would you question yourself so deeply? What else could bring you to this pass of uncertainty and doubt?" she smiled, letting her understanding shine in her eyes.
"I thank you for this, and so much more."
"You have saved me and mine. I could do no less than try to save you and yours. And from what I know of you Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn might be the only family you can have." Taking his hand, she led him to the door. They stood, watching the activity around them. "All of them, every one here, could tell you how they are related to every one else. We are all family, through tribe, through clan, through love. It is what sustains us. Your life will be long, much longer than you think possible. It will be the same with your master. Time wears on a person, and it may be that only your family can see you through the ordeal."
"My father was Cen-Ral Kenobi. My mother was Ron Erala. I was born on the planet of ... " he stopped. This was a recitation he had been through time and again. The names meant nothing to him; the holos of their faces meant less. They had never come to visit, although he knew others at the Temple had regular visits from parents, siblings, on and on. None had ever come for him, and still he was made to learn the names, relationships. "For all I know, they are dead. Qui-Gon, my master ... to lose that love over nothing but lust would destroy me."
"To withhold that love out of nothing but fear will destroy you sooner. I must see to my duties. I think perhaps it is time you see to yours."
The room was darkened when Qui-Gon came in. He had spent the day helping the Kurasans in mapping water sources and had collected quite a bit of dirt and mud on his person. His eyes adjusted to the relative gloom, and he realized there was a small amount of light from the area he and his Padawan used for exercise and training. Chip-lights were glowing-- little pinpoints of soft amber light illuminating the form of his student, who sat cross-legged, arms relaxed at his sides. He was dressed in loose pants and nothing more. The calm demeanor and patient expression spoke volumes for Obi-Wan's mental state.
"May I see to you, Master?" Obi-Wan asked.
Qui-Gon nodded and came closer. Obi-Wan rose and began helping his master disrobe. He folded the soiled clothes and put them aside, then picked up a bowl of water and began cleaning the day's salt and dirt away. The cool water was a welcome change from the muggy heat of the planet's summer days. Qui-Gon began to relax under the ministrations. The bowl was put aside, and a thick cloth taken up to dry the clean skin. "A massage, perhaps?"
Qui-Gon allowed himself to be arranged on the pile of cushions that now occupied the floor-space nearby. Obi-Wan selected a vial of oil from the three standing on the low table, and poured a small amount in his hands. He waited for it to warm before he worked it into the stiff neck and shoulder muscles. The sensation was exquisite, and not until the strong hands began working their magic on his back and sides did Qui-Gon speak.
"To what do I owe this honor?" he asked.
"To the fact that you have cared for me, raised me and never abandoned me for any reason. To the fact that I trust you," was the only reply. Obi-Wan continued his careful stroking along the long legs. He took an especially long time on the feet, being sure each muscle and digit was totally relaxed and soothed. Turning his master over, Obi-Wan drew Qui-Gon's head into his lap. The facial massage was given even more time and care.
"Only this, and nothing more?" Qui-Gon asked.
"And to the fact that I love you."
Qui-Gon sat up to face his student, searched him with every power at his command. To his relief, there was no fear, no doubt. Just the calm, sure, rock-steady knowledge that this was true. The two locked eyes for a long moment before Obi-Wan looked away.
"You do not need to return my feelings, Master. Love is something I can feel without reciprocation."
"I know, Obi-Wan. You think you have done so for your whole life. Know this, as sure as you know yourself. I love you, will love you, for as long as love can be."
The words hit Obi-Wan in the gut. No, actually, just above and to the left of the gut. He had prepared himself for the words of rejection he felt would surely come, but had not been ready to hear an admission of love.
No fear, though, just shock, surprise, and an overpowering sense of joy. He reached back and took up the Feathers of Heaven and offered them to Qui-Gon. With steady hand, his master accepted them, and laid them aside. He lifted his fingers to Obi-Wan's hair, stroking it back gently, focusing all of his not inconsiderable attention on his student.
The touch brought Obi-Wan completely within the moment, his awareness coming sharply to the now. Qui-Gon leaned forward, pressing a warm, soft kiss to the younger man's brow. With his lips he traced a slow tour of his soft cheek along the jawline and over the dimpled chin before planting a smooch on the tip of his nose. Then Qui-Gon's mouth was on his, arms tight around him, lips strong and warm, beard tickling him gently as the kiss traveled again, taking the scenic route across cheeks and eyes, forehead, then back to the open wet mouth again. Tongues explored and memorized, laid claim and paid reverence in the long, infinite expanse of the moment. Obi-Wan filled his hands with the soft, long hair, the reality of that long-cherished dream overwhelming him as he struggled for breath, for life, for the touch and smell and feel of Qui-Gon Jinn.
The kiss was over all too soon, but the pleasures waiting would not be denied. Obi-Wan silently handed a different vial of oil to his master and got another handful for himself. They made a long, loving game of massaging the oils into chest and stomach, mouths meeting and melding again and again over the long moments before Qui-Gon gently turned Obi-Wan onto his stomach. Qui-Gon removed the loose pants and put them aside with his own clothes. Now the oil was spread over and massaged into the younger man's back and legs, causing them to become tingly, and then to begin amplifying each touch, each sensation. Soon, his whole body was alive with the warm touch of the strong, sure hands.
"Are you all right?" Qui-Gon asked.
"Have you ever used Heaven Dust before?"
"Then we will begin with a very small amount.
"I trust you."
The powder was sprinkled over his back and legs, and Qui-Gon took up the fluffy blue plumes. They swept from his scalp to the soles of his feet and back, a touch so light he was unsure as to its reality. Then a rain of blows, light puffs of softness began at his shoulders, lightly working the dust deeper into his skin. He was sure he could feel it going into his bloodstream, bringing his senses more clearly into focus. He heard the slow, calm breaths he and his master took, felt that they were now in unison. The scent of his partner was as clear as the lingering taste of him. Obi-Wan opened his eyes and saw the particle/waves of the light, how it gathered on the golden, oiled skin of his master.
"What ." he began.
"Shh, no. There is nothing wrong. I haven't drugged you and you're not imagining things. This is as far as it goes. It just makes it easier to sense and control the energies around you. The herbs you smoked onto the feathers activates it. A little help to the midi-chlorians," Qui-Gon's reassuring smile calmed Obi-Wan, who lay down again.
Again the soft plumes worked his way down then back up his body. The process was repeated as Obi-Wan turned over on his back, with kisses exchanged, and long lingering trails of sucks and licks interrupting from time to time. Finally, Qui-Gon set the plume aside, and stretched out beside his young lover. The trails his fingers traced along the willing chest seemed to be etched in sound and fire. When he began sucking the hard, sensitized nipples, Obi-Wan arched up off the cushions, moaning.
"Tell me what you want, love," Qui-Gon whispered as he released the rosy flesh.
"You. I want you, inside me," Obi-Wan replied. He took up the third bottle of oil, and poured a generous amount into his master's hand. With a firm grip on the wrist, he drew it downwards and between his legs.
As the long fingers began pressing and petting the sensitive opening, Obi-Wan sighed and rocked his hips minutely. He steadied his breath and focused on relaxing his whole being. As his body responded to his desire, his master filled him with one, then another exploring finger. The stretching sensation was peculiar, but he reminded himself to feel pleasure, not pain and soon he was ready for a more intimate connection. He gently pushed his master's hand away and turned over on his stomach.
"Better this way," Obi-Wan explained.
"Then this is not your first time?" Qui-Gon asked.
"I didn't learn *everything* I know from you," he laughed.
Qui-Gon chuckled at that and moved to kneel inside his young partner's legs. He oiled his own cock and drew his lover's hips back and up. With one hand he guided his aching member towards the ready form beneath him. With the other, he began stroking the likewise ready cock that had waited so patiently for his attention.
Obi-Wan sighed at the slow, gentle entry, then gasped and jerked suddenly as Qui-Gon leaned closer. The feel of their skin touching was unreal, electric, hot and four-dimensional. He could feel the arousal in every inch of skin, as if his whole body had been transformed into an erogenous zone of insane sensitivity.
"Shh, shh. Now you know why Heaven Dust is so sought after," Qui-Gon whispered, trying to soothe and still him.
In response, Obi-Wan planted his arms on the cushions and pushed up, curving his back to mold himself along the length of his lover. "More, deeper," he demanded, wrapping his legs in and behind Qui-Gon's.
The response was swift and strong. Qui-Gon pumped hard and quick into the hot, slick ass that flexed and squeezed around him. He planted both hands and locked his elbows, to give himself an anchor to his strong thrusting. Qui-Gon ground his chin into the top of Obi-Wan's head, enjoying the wriggling motions added as his partner pleasured himself against the soft, warm cushions. Soon the slender hips were snapping upwards, and the muscles clenched impossibly hard all around and under him.
With a shout, Obi-Wan came, his arms collapsing from underneath him. He writhed and bucked as the sensations rippled and echoed along his body, through every muscle and sinew. He yelped as Qui-Gon sank his teeth into his shoulder, then reached back and gripped his long hair, encouraging the sucking, biting pleasure that rushed through him. The sighs and moans continued as the pleasure was fed back and back through his body. Soon they were chorused by the orgasmic release of his lover. The sensation of the final, powerful thrusts drove him to the limit of tactile input, and he felt soft, pleasant darkness wash over him.
He opened his eyes, surprised to be standing. Well, okay, he was propped up between Qui-Gon and the wall of the fresher cubicle. Qui-Gon was patting his face, speaking to him softly. "Wake up. Come on, love, you're giving me enough of an ego trip without this. Come on, there you go! How do you feel?"
"MMMMppphhhh," was the best he could do for a reply.
"You'll start to feel a little more control once we get the dust off of you. Just try to stand up, okay?" Qui-Gon reached over to turn the pulses up a bit. "That's good. Now just stand right there. I'll be back."
As the fresher did it's work, Obi-Wan found himself reviving. By the time Qui-Gon returned with his robe, he was able to walk all by himself. Qui-Gon guided him back to the pile of cushions in the workout area and helped him lay down again. "Since you seem to have moved our beds here anyway, I'll just get us a blanket or two," he explained. "But we should talk in the morning, you understand.
Obi-Wan nodded, reaching up to pull his lover down beside him. The lassitude of sexual release was tugging at his mind again, and Obi-Wan found it difficult to resist. When he felt his master's arms around him, drawing the warm blankets up to his chin, he gave up the battle. He steadied his breathing until it matched the one against his hair, and slid into the welcome oblivion of sleep.