Whatever his deceptions, Fra-Zon hadn't lied about her voice. Her melodious tones rose into the air, caressing Obi-Wan's ears with sweet beauty. She sang no words, merely let harmonic sounds ripple up and down scales, singing to her plants for her own joy.
Standing at the gate, he watched her as she tended her garden. Despite two grown sons, Sei-Lona Jinn was still a beautiful woman, only a few wrinkles disturbing the delicate features on a porcelain white face, the rich dark hair of the Valona reaching half-way down her back. Her figure was upright and slender in a blue gown which matched the blue of her eyes, of her sons' eyes. Concentrating on the lush leaves of a cella rose, she carefully clipped dying blooms, allowing new growth to flourish.
Obi-Wan opened the gate, walking hesitantly up the path. Behind him, his Master remained on the sidewalk, letting the gate clang shut, isolating him outside. "Madame Jinn," Obi-Wan said quietly.
Smiling, she studied the handsome man, an inquisitive frown crossing her face as if recognizing a face she couldn't quite identify. "Do I know you, kind sir?"
"We haven't been introduced." Unsure what to say, how to raise the reason for his presence, Obi-Wan retreated into polite platitudes. "Your garden is exquisite."
"Thank you." Her pride wasn't the pride of arrogance, but the quiet satisfaction of a loving dedication. A stranger on her property didn't scare her; this young man was too obviously civilized. "All except this poor bush," she added, walking to a squat bush covered with the white splotches of mildew. "I can't stop the mildew."
Kneeling next to the bush, Obi-Wan reached out gently, sensitized to the plant's distress by his recent experiences connecting to the life of moonberries. The Force seemed to leap from his fingers to the leaves. Shutting his eyes, he surrendered to the healing power which poured from his soul. He had always been attuned to energy of plants, but like so many facets of his life, that attachment had changed, strengthened since the events which occurred after Qui-Gon's partial transformation to a demon. He heard a shocked gasp and knew the splotches were shrinking, the leaves once again a healthy yellow-green.
He looked up at Sei-Lona, noted the realization dawning in her eyes. "Obi-Wan," she said quietly. "Obi-Wan Kenobi."
"Yes, Madame. But how - "
"My son?" Shaking hands reached down to his kneeling figure. At his glance toward the gate, she turned and ran, flinging the gate wide as Qui-Gon's arms opened, enfolding her, her sobs of reunion coating his cloak. They held each other as Obi-Wan could see the answering tears trickling down Qui-Gon's face. He remained in the garden, respecting their time together.
Recovering, Sei-Lona leaned back in her son's arms, hands moving to trace his features. She smiled with delight at his tall figure, the top of her head only reaching his shoulders. As Qui-Gon smiled back in relief, she saw his fangs.
Her scream was as loud and piercing as her singing was beautiful.
Obi-Wan's arms tried to catch her as she ran back down the path, the gate slamming shut, leaving Qui-Gon outside. "Madame, Madame, everything is fine, trust us, he isn't a demon, your son isn't a demon." The words tumbled out in a reassuring rush, the Padawan following her frantic dash into the house.
The elder Jedi had dared to enter the garden, sitting on the ground by the cella rose when Obi-Wan finally left the house. He waited until his Master sensed his presence through the meditative trance and opened his eyes. "She's calm now. She wants to talk to you."
"Does she hate me?" The despair in his eyes echoed in his voice.
"Of course not, Master. She loves you but she knows of the demons and was afraid. I have explained to her that the transformation was never completed. She regrets her fear."
Qui-Gon rose and followed Obi-Wan into the deserted living room. The younger Jedi gestured to one wall. "You can see why she recognized me."
The wall was filled with holos in frames of etched gold and silver. Some were expected; a man, obviously his father, in the officer's uniform of a private cruise ship, Sei-Lona singing, his parent's wedding picture, the couple standing in front of the first offices of Jinn Enterprises. Fra-Zon's baby picture, graduation pictures from different educational levels, a candid shot with teenage friends, his proud stance at the dedication of the new Jinn Enterprises building.
Others were unexpected. A young Qui-Gon in a class of Jedi students, standing with Yoda at the ceremony announcing their Padawan/Master relationship, after a successful diplomatic mission with a group of delegates. Lastly, pictures with each of his apprentices, Arre'esia, Xanatos, Obi-Wan.
"She's followed my life," he murmured, a painful feeling he hadn't known existed releasing itself within his chest. The Jedi were not encouraged to even know or be attached to their birth parents; allegiance to duty and the Jedi life must take priority over family considerations. He had never realized that he was loved and missed all those years. The holos were obviously captured from various news vids. Though not keen on the concept of publicity, the Jedi understood that the people they defended needed to trust and understand their protectors. Journalists were invited to attend many ceremonial functions to demystify the sacred guardians.
His Mother entered from the kitchen, placing a tray on a low table. "May I try again?" she requested, remorseful at her earlier hysteria.
"Please." The hug was long and sincere, though the tears did not flow this time.
The two separated and sat, Qui-Gon on the green velvet couch, Sei-Lona on the matching chair. Obi-Wan was in the middle, a buffer between the two as they struggled to adjust to their discovery of each other. She leaned forward, one hand on the teapot's handle, looking briefly at her son.
"Yes, I can still drink and eat, though my main nutritional needs have changed," he responded, throat tight.
Taking his words as assent, she busied herself with pouring cups. "You sustain yourself on blood?" Her direct question indicated her knowledge of the Valona demons.
Clearing his voice, the Jedi answered honestly. "The Jedi developed a synthetic blood protein, but yes, I can drink blood. Please, Mother, tell me. What am I?"
She shook her head sadly. "I cannot tell you what you are. I can only tell you what you must fear becoming." Handing him a cup, she considered where to begin.
"For thousands of years, demons have been part of Valona life. The change would usually happen to young men. Teeth would become fangs, nails would be claws, reason would be lost. They would become an unreasonable beast, driven to live on fear and blood. They would kill indiscriminately to quench their thirst. In barbaric times, some demons lived for years, hiding and terrorizing the population."
She sipped her tea, the heat of the cup warming her palms. Neither Jedi disturbed her tale. "As our science advanced, we realized that the combination of a recessive gene and an intense tragedy, generally the death of a loved one, triggered a biochemical change. The Valona are a proud, forceful people. Your brother - you have a younger brother, Fra-Zon - shares those traits."
"Yes, Mother," Qui-Gon responded neutrally. "I know. The Jedi researched my family after the partial transformation occurred. Those traits have made him quite a success in business."
Sei-Lona glowed at the perceived compliment to her younger son but resumed, "Our pride kept us isolated from the galaxy for many years. The thought that one gene could turn us into monsters - it was too shameful to admit. Our science has never advanced enough to identify the gene and we are too proud to ask those with superior genetic research. But the demons population began dying out. The demons gene - it is strong in certain families, but only through the female line. Those women who were at risk stopped having children."
"A recessive gene and a tragedy cannot be the full truth, Mother. I started transforming but I have suffered no great loss for many years."
She shook her head in disbelief. "A friend, a lover did not die recently?"
"No, Mother. I began to change when I was on Valona. Obi-Wan was kidnapped and I was urged to kill him. We were told by his kidnapper that I would become a demon if I killed Obi-Wan. Only my Padawan's trust and love stopped me from that dreadful action." He caressed Obi-Wan's cheek with the back of his fingers. Obi-Wan's love-filled look revealed the depth of their relationship.
"It doesn't make sense. It doesn't happen that way. I have tracked your life as best I could. I thought you had not suffered any tragedy at the right age, that you were already safe."
"Please, Madame, tell us the rest of your story." Obi-Wan tried to divert Sei-Lona's obvious distress.
Checking her confusion, she proceeded. "All my life, I knew I was a potential risk. The demons gene has been strong in my family. I was raised with many stories of male descendants who killed and were killed. But - I wanted children. You can understand, can't you?" She pleaded with her son for forgiveness of her selfishness.
"I understand." His words were truth. He did comprehend even though he had never fathered a child. He had been a Master to three Padawans, experiencing the joy of raising two young individuals to adulthood, seeing them mature and develop into responsible human beings. With the middle 'child' - Xanatos - he had learned instead the nightmare of a twisted personality enshrouded in a charming disguise. Despite that agony, he was grateful for the close friendship he shared with Arre'esia and Obi-Wan's love and loyalty.
"No man would marry me. The number of demons in my ancestry was too well known. Travel from the planet was limited but a spaceship, a passenger liner, landed in an emergency. My father - your grandfather - worked for the government. I helped him locate temporary quarters for the passengers while the ship was repaired. I met the officers. I fell in love with your father." She smiled with sentimental remembrance. "He looked so handsome in his uniform. Oh, it wasn't a real uniform, not a military uniform, but he was so tall and kind and didn't know my history. He wasn't afraid to love me. You look so much like him, both you and Fra-Zon."
She crossed the room, lifting a holo off the wall, lost in a memory of love and the first true happiness of her life. "I told him the truth. I hated to, but I couldn't lie to him. He just laughed. He said hadn't I ever considered my genes would be diluted. We could protect and love our children and they would never suffer tragedy. Your father wasn't like Fra-Zon, he wasn't driven, but he believed he could handle anything and I believed in him." One finger carefully traced the outline of her husband.
"Your father didn't want to explain the demons to his fellow officers. He thought it would make them nervous of me. My voice was my freedom. I sang for the Captain and we told him we were in love. The Captain was a very romantic man. He gave me a job and helped smuggle me off-planet. He married us in space."
Qui-Gon listened to his parents' story reduced to a few simple sentences, knowing that the dangers and risks were greater than presented. Restricted planets were notorious for suppressing their own citizens' rights when preventing external contact. Hopefully, there would be time later for him to hear all the details.
Sei-Lona kept talking, her voice dropping to a harsh whisper. "I told your Father everything. He didn't give me the same courtesy."
"Mother?" Curiosity tinged Qui-Gon's question.
"He didn't tell me his family was strong in the Force." She shuddered. "I didn’t understand the blood tests. The hospital said they were routine. I remember the day they came to take you away. You were so small. Your Father said I had to let you go, that it was best for you. I screamed, I raged. The Jedi looked to your Father for approval and he gave it. I hated him that night."
Too intent on the unfolding tale, the Jedi failed to notice the figure leaning against the doorframe until he spoke. "And despite all your brave sacrifices, abandoning your own home, you still have a demon for a son, Mother. Not quite what you and Dad planned on, was it? A savage beast with Jedi powers?"
Fierce rage enveloped Qui-Gon, anger at his brother's lies, fury at his derision of their Mother's suffering. Qui-Gon lunged off the couch, springing toward Fra-Zon with his bare hands. Obi-Wan leaped after his Master, knowing he must try to stop Qui-Gon from killing his own brother. Whether or not the death of a family member would trigger a total transformation was unknown; certainly Qui-Gon would not want to live with his regret if he deprived his Mother of a beloved son.
Sei-Lona screamed for the second time that day, a high shrieking note of pain, as Fra-Zon's blaster hit Qui-Gon in the chest. Standing behind Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan could not block the shot with his lightsaber. He could only catch his Master's large frame as it collapsed into his arms.
The pain radiated from his chest throughout his body as he woke. A strong arm slipped under his shoulders, lifting his torso. A straw touched his lips and he drank greedily to relieve a dry throat and the empty sensation within his body. Not water, but blood, the unique ambrosia of Obi-Wan, flowing through his veins, energizing him. He looked at his apprentice, shocked at the paleness of his skin and the shadows under his eyes, signaling severe exhaustion.
"I knew you would need me when you awoke. I wasn't sure if you would be strong enough to feed." The younger Jedi almost babbled as he explained why blood had been drained from his body and emptied into a bottle. "They would only take a pint. You'll have to drink blood protein when you are done with this. This is all they'd let you have. I tried to give more."
Qui-Gon's lips released the straw, leaving precious fluid unfinished, horrified at Obi-Wan's colorless skin, concerned for his Padawan. "It doesn't appear as if you should have lost any blood, Obi-Wan."
Lips touched his forehead. "Drink, Master. Drink the nourishment of my blood. Then sleep." Too weak to argue, the Master followed the Padawan's command.
He awoke next to the touch of his Mother's frail hands resting on one forearm rather than his lover's strong arms. "Qui-Gon." She was overjoyed to see him awake, though his gaze was filled with concern.
"Obi-Wan?" he asked.
"I convinced him to sleep, now that they are sure you will live. He wouldn't leave your side. Even for rest." A wave of her hands and Qui-Gon rolled his head to follow the direction. Obi-Wan's slumbering figure laid in a bed next to his, arms outstretched toward his Master as if still needing a connection while dreaming.
"How did I survive?"
"Partially your own demonic strength. Mostly that Obi-Wan poured healing energy into your body until the medical help could arrive. He is devoted to you."
"I would be lost without him," he acknowledged, eyes lingering on that adored face, noting that his color had improved.
His Mother shocked him by slapping one palm at his arm to make his attention return to her. "He endangered his life for yours by insisting you would need his blood when you awoke. He wouldn't sleep. You should not let him make such sacrifices. He is too young and vulnerable." Her scolding tone tried to hide her care and concern for both men.
Qui-Gon wondered wryly what his Mother would say if he confessed how else he had treated Obi-Wan; draining his blood regularly, hiding that fact from the Jedi, Obi-Wan giving him oral sex to avoid being killed, forcing a kiss on his apprentice from perverse jealousy, raping him in an alley. He decided there were things in a man's life that his Mother didn't need to know.
"Fra-Zon?" he asked to avoid answering.
"Your brother is at my house. I told the civil authorities it was an accident, a misunderstanding. He was only trying to protect me." The Mother defended one son to the other, secretly relieved that Qui-Gon was too weak to physically retaliate with her decision. She loved both sons desperately, but the terror of the demons and the sacrifices she had made to have a family were present in her thoughts.
Fra-Zon's complicity in his circumstances was open for debate in Qui-Gon's mind. "Blood?"
"You finished Obi-Wan's," she told him tartly. "But there's the synthetic blood protein."
The taste didn't share the same pure flavor of his beloved, but he drank thirstily, determined to heal himself and confront Fra-Zon.
Obi-Wan awoke to the enveloping presence of Qui-Gon. He was cradled into his Master’s body, Qui-Gon’s long arms wrapped around his chest, his legs tangled with Obi-Wan’s shorter ones. His clothes had been removed while he slept and their naked skin touched. Qui-Gon sensed his awareness, whispering into his ear, “Obi-Wan? Are you alright?”
A moment passed as Obi-Wan oriented himself. “Yes, Master. I’m tired but fine.”
Qui-Gon shared his worry. “You saved my life, Obi-Wan. At considerable risk to your own.”
“You are my Master and I love you. How could I do any less?”
A throaty groan sounded in his ear as one fang latched upon the lobe. “So calm. So understanding. So devoted. I was truly blessed the day you became my Padawan.”
“As was I, Master.”
“Obi-Wan, I need to feel your life. I need to know you are mine.”
In silent acceptance, Obi-Wan arched his head back, angling his throat toward Qui-Gon’s lips.
“No, Obi-Wan. I won’t drink. You are too weak.” He guided Obi-Wan to lay on his back, stretching on top of the prone form. Hovering over Obi-Wan, he traced the plains and angles of the strong features with the sharp points of lengthened fingernails. Obi-Wan accepted the possessive exploration, shutting the lids as the nails passed over his eyes.
"I'm not sure this would be any less exhausting," he murmured. He sensed Qui-Gon's hesitation, the fingers pausing in their sensual inquiry. "Ignore me, Master. Ignore me. You need this." His tongue flicked out and tasted Qui-Gon's fingers as they brushed over his mouth.
Qui-Gon’s hair fell loose around Obi-Wan’s face, enclosing them in a sheltered world. Dimly, the younger Jedi heard the muted hum of medical droids in the background, the rise and fall of patients’ voices. A small part of his mind was conscious enough to hope Qui-Gon locked the door, but nothing could distract him from the intensity in his Master’s eyes.
Sliding slowly down Obi-Wan’s body, Qui-Gon explored with the tips of his nails and fangs, sending edged lines of pleasure spiking through his senses. Resting his head on one arm, Qui-Gon coasted his other hand lazily up and down Obi-Wan’s body, beginning in the middle of his abdomen, creating ever-wider circles. His motions were idle, shying from reaching his Padawan’s nipples or cock, building Obi-Wan's anticipation. Streaks of tingling pleasure radiated from the pointed nails.
“Master, please – “
With those words, the yearning need in his voice, Qui-Gon feasted on Obi-Wan's mouth. Ravenously, he devoured his nipples, sucking hard on each taut peak. Obi-Wan writhed as the desire escalated in a frantic rush. Qui-Gon bit strongly at Obi-Wan's navel before settling between the spread legs and swallowing his erection. Grabbing at Qui-Gon's head to steady himself, Obi-Wan thrust desperately into that hot mouth. The elder Jedi's throat muscles milked his cock and Obi-Wan moaned in pleasure, turning his head to bury his anguished cries of excitement in the pillow.
A faint knock sounded on the door and Sei-Lona's delicate inquiry, "Qui-Gon? Are you awake?"
Obi-Wan was beyond rational thought, lost in a state of delirious urgency. He squirmed on the bed, whimpering. With powerful hands, he squeezed Qui-Gon's head onto his erection. Warm, humid suction engulfed him. Fangs ran delicately up and down his shaft, never breaking the skin but adding an element of danger. With a short scream, he released his climax into his Master's voracious mouth. Qui-Gon drank every milky drop, the taste of Obi-Wan as exciting as the bone-deep knowledge that his apprentice relinquished all control to him.
"Qui-Gon? Did I hear a scream?" A stronger knock came as Obi-Wan collapsed in limp satiety. Qui-Gon was standing quickly, untwisting the sheets and blankets, tucking them around Obi-Wan's exhausted body, concealing his nakedness. Another fast kiss, Obi-Wan longingly licking his tongue at the bitter taste of his own come, before Qui-Gon grabbed a hospital gown, covering his own body, yanking the ties together at his waist.
"Qui-Gon? There's something wrong with the door. Qui-Gon? Obi-Wan?" Concern as the knocks grew more demanding. Qui-Gon moved to the door panel, fingers darting rapidly, and Obi-Wan realized the circuits were cross-wired to allow being locked from inside.
Sei-Lona's relief was apparent as the door slid open, her son framed in the opening. "Qui-Gon. I was worried."
"Don't make a fuss, Mother. I wired the door shut. The droids were disturbing Obi-Wan with their incessant checks."
Bustling in, she placed a bundle of fabric on the visitor's chair. "I brought you clean clothes from your hotel room. And you shouldn't lock the door in the hospital. There might be an emergency," she scolded.
"There was an emergency, Mother. That's why I'm here. With a barely healed hole in my chest."
Sei-Lona ignored his dry response, circling his bed to sit at Obi-Wan's side, one hand patting at his shoulder. Her observant eyes noted his renewed pallor, the sweat drying on his skin, his breathing gradually calming. Obi-Wan could tell when she registered the true reason for the locked door. Her lips pursed as her back stiffened.
"The hole will heal better if you rest. As will your Padawan." She used the title as if affirming Qui-Gon's responsibilities. "You will want to clean up. Your brother and I are expecting the two of you for dinner tonight."
"Dinner with the Jinn family. How charming. Do you think that's a wise idea, Mother?"
She kissed Obi-Wan tenderly on his forehead before walking to Qui-Gon, stopping and raising her cheek so he might give her a similar gesture of affection. "As wise as the care you take with your Padawan."
Brushing his lips on her fragile skin, her son murmured, "Don’t, Mother. Don't ever come between Obi-Wan and I."
She opened her mouth to remonstrate, but stopped at the burning command in his face. He may have himself under control, allowing only bland sarcasm to creep through the tranquil Jedi shield, but her son was perpetually on the verge of surrendering to madness. Sei-Lona departed without further comment.
Identified from an early age with a high midi-chlorian count, Obi-Wan barely remembered his birth family. The Masters and Knights who raised and taught him were his mothers and fathers; his fellow students were his siblings. As an older Padawan, he already experienced a sense of care and responsibility when he helped teach the younger students. These children were the future of his family.
The Jedi training allowed the young students opportunities to interact with families, as the Jedi recognized that many cultures revolved around the family structure, particularly the more tribal societies. Usually the meetings were under the guise of a social or cultural activity, but the young Jedi students were aware of the secondary purpose, even if the families themselves were oblivious. As Qui-Gon’s Padawan, Obi-Wan often stayed in personal homes on poorer planets or mingled with diplomats’ children on richer ones.
Even with this deliberate exposure, the concept of families still made Obi-Wan uncomfortable. People bound together by genetics, occasionally without common interests or understanding of each other's lives. True, families could be wonderful, supportive societal units, fulfilling vital needs, and he cherished the warmth generated in those households. Too often, the parents seemed to have married because of biological attraction, occupied their days at different tasks, and only listened to the other until interrupting to speak of their own concerns. Siblings often fought with each other and argued with their parents, insisting on rebelling against their culture or parental wishes.
Obi-Wan had always known his purpose in life – to follow the path established by generations to Jedi, to serve the Light. No matter how strenuous his training, how difficult the tasks he was assigned, how intensely he must study, he never wavered in his determination to succeed as a Jedi. A family not built on such united dedication always seemed disconcerting.
He studied the Jinns, quelling his nervousness. Sei-Lona cooked dinner and insisted on gathering everyone at the table, fulfilling the matriarchal function of insisting on family unity to disguise disputes. Qui-Gon declined to eat, sipping at a glass of moonberry wine they brought from the hotel. Fra-Zon tucked into his food with great enthusiasm, as if emphasizing Qui-Gon’s lack. Since he felt weak, Obi-Wan forced himself to eat the exquisite meal, though the tense undercurrents left a acrid flavor in his mouth.
"An excellent vintage of moonberry wine. I'm surprised Jedi carry such luxuries around," Fra-Zon's sudden comment broke the silence as he sipped from his glass.
"Wine is not a standard travel ration. Obi-Wan was assigned to assist the moonberry growers with their plight. He succeeded where Agri-Corps failed. The wine was a gesture of appreciation." He glanced proudly at his Padawan, who forced a smile at the compliment.
"Not entirely, Master. Agri-Corps must use my data to find the ultimate cure."
"I shall be certain to watch the moonberry market. It's been declining over the last several years, as the flavor and bouquet of the wine has suffered. I may be able to make a killing by buying futures cheaply." Fra-Zon relished the opportunity afforded by insider information.
Casually, Qui-Gon asked, "Is that why you went to Valona? To make a killing in trade?"
Sei-Lona was shocked as Fra-Zon acknowledged Qui-Gon's observation with a sardonic smile. "Fra-Zon! I told you never to go to Valon!"
"Why shouldn't I, Mother? Restricted planets rarely enter the Republic. I have Valona heritage. It was about time I earned some benefit from it. I planned to establish the first trading contracts."
She protested, "The demons…"
"Oh demons, shemons, Mother," was Fra-Zon's impatient response. "Did you think I was going to pass up a fortune because of some archaic fear?"
"You discovered that it wasn't an archaic fear, didn't you brother?" Qui-Gon pounced. "Suppose I tell you what happened on Valona?"
"Why don't you, Qui-Gon. Read my mind. Demonstrate your superior Jedi skills."
"You went to Valon and met with boring trade ministers, using all your business skills to convince them to grant you a monopoly. Sometimes, sometimes, in the middle of conversation, your world would narrow, focus down, and you would see a pulse beating in a throat, hear the blood rushing through a body, catch a glimpse of a wrist and the fine lines close to the skin." Qui-Gon's voice deepened as his eyes strayed to Obi-Wan's, locking with the blue-gray orbs. The world centered on the two of them. Neither noticed Fra-Zon or Sei-Lona's reaction. "The cravings overcame you, the urge for blood, the drive for possession, the need to rip out a throat. You found yourself just watching him, studying him, his every graceful movement, his every nervous twitch when he felt your attention, but you couldn't stop yourself."
“Actually, the sensations never narrowed to one person. I didn't have a cute little blood toy available.” Fra-Zon’s words were interrupted as Qui-Gon went over the table, his forearm smashing into his brother's throat, slamming him against the wall. Fra-Zon's feet dangled in the air and his breath was choked. Qui-Gon’s hand was raised as if the fingernails were prepared to slash his face. Plates and the bottle of moonberry wine went flying, the bottle breaking as it hit the ground, crimson liquid flooding the floor.
Obi-Wan was there, standing at Qui-Gon’s side, wrapping his arms around his Master’s shoulders. He broke the deadly tableau by inserting his head between Fra-Zon and Qui-Gon, tongue licking at Qui-Gon’s lips. Timeless moments passed as Obi-Wan licked and nibbled, encouraging Qui-Gon to relax, distracting his Master’s attention from his brother.
Qui-Gon's hold released, letting Fra-Zon fall to the ground. His arms circled Obi-Wan, pulling him into a firm embrace, squeezing the breath from his body as his mouth feasted on his apprentice. The imminent rage channeled out of his system, Qui-Gon freed his lips. “He insulted you.”
“Any offense is mine to take, Master. You don’t need to protect me.”
Hands tightened cruelly, pressing him even closer. “I will always protect you. You are mine.”
“I apologize to your Padawan,” Fra-Zon inserted hastily. “My choice of words was inappropriate.”
Qui-Gon didn’t even glance at his sibling. “Do you have any more to tell me about Valon? If not, we’re leaving.”
Fra-Zon shook his head, though Qui-Gon didn’t notice with his gaze still fastened on Obi-Wan. Wearily, he said, “No, Qui-Gon, you guessed correctly. The feelings overwhelmed me and I panicked. I made an excuse about a business emergency and fled. When the news vids reported you were on Valon, I thought about warning you, but I decided I imagined the whole thing. What happened to me doesn't fit the pattern Mother always described. There's nothing more I can say.”
Sei-Lona twisted her hands together, unnerved at the revelations and her son's possessive display. "This doesn't make sense. None of this makes sense. You are both too old for this to happen."
"I know, Mother." Qui-Gon released Obi-Wan, hands lightly touching the neckband, the padawan braid, the side of his cheek, as if loathe to break contact too abruptly. "I thank you for your assistance but now I need to be away from here. I will contact you later."
Obi-Wan stepped outside, allowing privacy for Qui-Gon and his mother to say their goodbyes. Fra-Zon followed him and awkwardness overcame Obi-Wan as they stood in the dusk. Fra-Zon's hand once again drifted down Obi-Wan's braid. "You do realize," he said conversationally, "that I am responsible for getting Mother pictures, now that Father is dead."
Obi-Wan nodded, backing away discreetly. Fra-Zon followed with a deliberate tread, his height and physical presence imposing on Obi-Wan's personal space. "I don't give her every picture," Fra-Zon confided. "I kept the one from this year's challenges." The Jedi knew the picture he meant. One of those annual ceremonies to demonstrate the strength and power of the Jedi, the senior Padawans, Knights and Masters in mock competitions. The battles were intended to reassure honest Republic citizens of their protection and dishearten criminals and political schemers. This year, Obi-Wan won every match he entered, as well as prevailing when teamed with Qui-Gon in duels with other Master and Padawans. With only his inner tunic covering his chest, sweat beading his skin, the holo captured him attacking, hands gripping his lightsaber raised to one side, his balance on his toes tilting his body forward, the fierce concentration on his face as he prepared to swing his weapon down and strike his opponent. "I have it hanging in my bedroom."
So did Navar, Obi-Wan thought savagely. "First you abandon your brother, then you would betray him?" was his cold question. This man may have thrown him off kilter last time, but he didn't intend to be manipulated again.
Fra-Zon's shame at his own weakness turned into defensive justification. "I would have warned him if I realized the danger." He calmed himself, suppressing the need to offer more excuses for his lack of action and lies. "Midi-chlorians and Jedi meditation may have saved him so far, but sooner or later, he won't be able to control himself. Just - don't let him kill you. You can always come to me." Fra-Zon's entreaty seemed sincere.
"Obi-Wan." Qui-Gon stepped outside the house, illuminated by the light pouring through the doorway. "It's time to leave."
"I'm ready, Master. Very ready." Obi-Wan was relieved to end this conversation.
"Brother - " Qui-Gon rested his hands on Fra-Zon's shoulders. "You were right to leave Valon. Don't ever go back."
"Why, Qui-Gon," his brother's response mocked to hide his unwillingness to accept forgiveness, "I didn't think you cared."
"I serve the Light, Fra-Zon. We may never be friends, but I wish no harm to anyone, particularly my brother. Please, look after our Mother."
"I always have." Fra-Zon relented the subtle disdain to give Qui-Gon a brief hug. "Take care of yourself, Qui-Gon."
With a last look at Sei-Lona, Qui-Gon left his blood family, Obi-Wan walking by his side.
Mace Windu listened intently to Qui-Gon's report, expressing his sympathy that so little had been learned before asking, "So will you travel to Valon?"
"No," Qui-Gon responded. "I may have to, but these confrontations - I must center myself, must ground myself in the Force. We will return to Coruscant."
Mace imperceptibly hesitated before saying, "Very well, we shall expect to see you soon. Let us know when you have arranged passage."
"Is there some reason why we should not return to Coruscant? Would you prefer I stayed away and sent Obi-Wan back alone?" Qui-Gon sensed Mace's hesitancy and verbally leaped, despite recognizing that he would never again separate from his Padawan.
"No. The Jedi have not given up on you and Obi-Wan by himself," Mace grimaced, "may not be wise."
"Tell me, Mace." Qui-Gon didn't glance at Obi-Wan, though he felt the questioning confusion in his apprentice's eyes.
Sighing, Mace explained, "You didn't register how much you were broadcasting when you attacked Navar. Your feelings for Obi-Wan, your vision of him."
"My lust." A flat statement, disdaining Mace's dancing around the truth.
"Yes, your lust." Mace conceded. "The Masters and Knights were able to handle their own responses by meditation. The very young didn't understand and were relatively easy to counsel. The problem has been the Padawans in their teens. Their emotional maturity wasn't equipped to cope with that level of broadcasted desire and jealousy. It's been difficult, dealing with released feelings."
"You've probably had a run on that holo of Obi-Wan from last year's challenge." Qui-Gon wry comment implied he accepted Mace's revelation with equanimity. "The problem has been handled? My apprentice won't have to protect himself from indiscriminate advances?"
Mace nodded, relieved at the other Jedi's placid air. "Your presence will likely deter any problems. He may receive more casual inquiries about his availability, but I think everyone's emotions are relatively stable now."
"Then we'll talk again after we've located a ship. Call ended." The communications droid ceased the signal, trundling to the doorway. With a mental blast of energy, it flew through the air, hitting the wall and knocking plaster loose. "You knew?" Qui-Gon's tone was deadly with betrayal.
"No," Obi-Wan averred rapidly. "I only saw Mace and non-human healers. Bant was the only friend who visited. Calamarians can't mate with humans. I didn't realize."
"You saw Navar." The raw anger was rising in Qui-Gon, the intense need to dominate, to overwhelm Obi-Wan. Mace had seen the calm Jedi exterior, but Obi-Wan could feel the emotional passion seeping from Qui-Gon's mind, into the air, into the Force.
"Navar is insane." Obi-Wan knew the violence had to be transmuted before Qui-Gon destroyed the room, created a confrontation with the hotel security, and was arrested. The power Qui-Gon was generating was a heavy blanket of energy, swamping the room. Peacefully, he untied and removed his neckband, dropping it to the floor. A carrying case flew across the wall as the Force spiked with Qui-Gon's rage and his uncontrollable reaction to the sight of the vulnerable line of his throat, the ever-present healing puncture wounds in the soft flesh. "I am yours. Only yours."
"They all wanted you. They dreamed of you. They craved you. Our fellow Jedi." The dresser rocked, pulled away from the wall. The curtains flew away from the window, blowing in an invisible wind before falling to hang straight. The need to destroy, to smash, to obliterate the thought of another lusting after his Obi-Wan warred with hunger created by his apprentice's willing surrender as sash, belt, and tunic followed the neckband.
"But I've only wanted you. Saw you in my dreams. Craved you with my heart and body."
Qui-Gon paced around Obi-Wan's form as the younger man bent down to remove his boots. "I want to kill them for desiring you." The bed rose, shook, spun, dropped to the floor with a heavy clash.
"Forget them, Master. Drink from me. Love me." Ignoring the furniture, ignoring the waves of energy rippling from Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan slid his trousers off his hips. He could hear the speed of Qui-Gon's breath increasing, aroused by his nakedness. Noises as Qui-Gon's own clothes puddled on the ground, then huge hands wrapping around his body, one resting on his abdomen and the other clasped his cock, already stiff in reaction to Qui-Gon's furious jealousy. Fangs digging more into the shoulder than his throat, savagely marking the skin, tasting the blood more than drinking. A thin scarlet path of Obi-Wan's blood trailed down his front.
"I don't know what taste is sweeter." Qui-Gon's free hand collected a glistening drop from the head of his apprentice's cock, then a bead of blood from the wound. His arm crossed over Obi-Wan's chest, hugging his apprentice fiercely, bringing his hand to his own mouth. He sucked at both fingers, the sounds of his greedy absorption next to Obi-Wan's ear. "I want to drink both," he whispered.
A husky laugh from Obi-Wan. "I think that would be a little painful, Master."
Qui-Gon buried his face into the back of Obi-Wan's hair, groaning and laughing in return. "No, I didn't mean quite that literally. I wouldn't risk that damage." Brushing kisses on the soft neck, confessing, "You dilute my rage, Obi-Wan." The constriction in his chest was loosening, the jealousy freed from its confines and dispersed by Obi-Wan's serene acceptance and humor.
"Don't fear to lose my love, Master. No one will take me from you." Obi-Wan was groaning without the laughter as Qui-Gon's huge hand stroked harder on his cock. Shoving his hips back, he felt Qui-Gon's erection grind against his body. With Qui-Gon's chest pressed to his back, Obi-Wan could feel the hard peaks of his Master's nipples rubbing against his shoulder blades.
Obi-Wan surrendered to the flame sparking through his body, as Qui-Gon escalated his rhythm, pumping quickly, driving his Padawan to an ever higher plateau of sensation. "Only I can make you feel like this. Only I can make the universe explode in your brain." Obi-Wan pressed his flesh closer to Qui-Gon, tilting his head, permitting easy access to the vein pulsing in his throat. The subtle request accepted, the sharp tips of Qui-Gon's fangs sank into the vulnerable skin as Obi-Wan shuddered in ecstasy, spurting his seed onto the floor. His body limp and satisfied, he would have sagged to the ground but was held up by the arms circling him.
"Only you, Master. Only you," Obi-Wan whispered. "Navar said it. I was yours before I even knew sex existed."
Qui-Gon drank deeply, craving the sustaining nectar though the rational part of his mind reminded Obi-Wan had suffered too much today. When enough warmth spread through his body to reassure his emotional hunger, he tenderly removed his fangs. His broad tongue lapped at the two jagged wounds before he declared, "No one else, ever again, Obi-Wan. No one else shall ever have your love."
No answer came to his possessive words. Obi-Wan had fainted in his arms. Gently, Qui-Gon lifted the limp figure, slipping him under the covers on the bed, checking his pulse. Satisfied that Obi-Wan's collapse was caused by exhaustion, Qui-Gon spooned next to him, radiating healing energy into the slim, muscled body. He threaded the fingers of one hand through the padawan braid, musing that traveling to Valon may be the better course. That decision could wait for the morning. Now, he must cherish Obi-Wan, the man who saved his soul. He kissed Obi-Wan's temple and whispered into his ear, "Only you, Obi-Wan, only you are my family."
~ The End ~