For what seemed like the thousandth time, I shook the shoulder of my dozing Padawan, calling gently, "Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan." Obi-Wan sleepily blinked, and yawned, displaying his pink tongue and white teeth. He curled back into a ball and promptly fell asleep, ignoring my worried expression.
The communications panel beeped. Exasperated at the interruption, I activated the viewscreen to see the impassive face of the ship's pilot.
"Sir, the Catarrian Ambassador wishes to speak with you."
"Very well. Put him through." My instruction was blunt. I wanted answers and could spare no time for politeness.
The feline features of the Catarrian Ambassador appeared. "Master Jinn, is there any change in your apprentice?"
"No, Ambassador. He is still sleeping deeply and I have been unable to wake him for more than a brief moment. Have you learned any more about this ritual?" I called upon the cool comfort of the Force to calm the fear in my heart. Obi-Wan had appeared drugged when he and the Ambassador's daughter returned to the capital city this morning from some unknown excursion. He had been sleeping since we lifted off Catarria, despite my best efforts to rouse him.
The Ambassador's pointed ears twitched. "Yes, Master Jinn. My daughter has confessed that she is entranced with a revivalist cult that regrets our civilized ways. They hoped to reawaken our natural hunting instincts, our predatory awareness. Your Padawan apparently was being polite in participating, since he does not have our same genetic background."
I demanded to know what had affected Obi-Wan. I wasn't polite.
"They used a combination of incense and medicinal herbs as triggers. They must have an unanticipated effect on someone who does not share our biology. I have samples of all of them. Our chemists are analyzing them. We will send the information to Coruscant as soon as it is available." I could see the Ambassador's thin tail flicking behind his head, a sure sign of his embarrassment over the situation caused by his youngest born but most spirited kitling. His shame reminded me that last impressions are often the strongest and I needed to moderate the harshness of my tone.
"I appreciate your assistance. The medical droid on the ship is designed only for emergency treatment and was not able to provide answers." I promised myself to complain strenuously to the Council about that lack. Jedi often encountered poisons, viruses, and more serious dangers than mere bodily wounds.
"Please, Master Jinn, inform me of any changes to your Padawan's status. Thank you again for your assistance with the diplomatic negotiations. I sincerely regret that we have repaid you in such fashion."
I smiled as reassuringly as I could. "The mistakes of the young, Ambassador. Hopefully, Obi-Wan will awaken and be fine. If not, I'm sure the Jedi healers on Coruscant will be able to help him. I thank you for your assistance in resolving the troubles between the different tribes of Catarria."
We bowed to each other, Jedi and Ambassador acknowledging our equals, before deactivating our viewscreens. Diplomatic niceties finished, I allowed my concern to reveal itself again on my features. My Padawan was always so spirited, so lively. Even when he displayed the Jedi air of serene peace, burning energy flamed within his soul. Seeing him sleeping without waking was disturbing. Crossing back to the bed, I sat down on the edge, studying the blissfully relaxed face. Obi-Wan opened slitted eyes, gazing at me. "Obi-Wan?"
In response, he yawned and stretched his entire body. His arms over his head, fingers pointing, the stretch rippled down his body, back arching, through his legs, toes pointing. Every muscle strung tight with feline grace. The lissome form relaxed back onto the mattress, eyes open, blinking lazily.
"Obi-Wan?" I repeated my query, relieved that sleep did not immediately claim him. I placed a hesitant hand on his shoulder, feeling the warm skin beneath my palm. "Obi-Wan? Are you alright?"
Obi-Wan opened his mouth, but instead of the response I desired - "Yes, Master, I’m fine." - the only sound that emerged was an inquisitive, "Meowrr?"
Carrying my apprentice through the halls of the Jedi Temple, I despaired at the lack of change to his condition. During the trip home, he remained, quite simply, a cat. Sometimes he showed awareness of his abilities as a man, walking upright in the ship's small quarters. Then he would hear a sound, and drop to his knees, slinking around the room on all fours. On his first exploration, he rubbed against every object in the room. I recognized the actions of an animal marking his territory, imprinting his body scent on all he possessed. Sitting in the room's only chair, I was a little unnerved when Obi-Wan slunk to my tall form and rubbed against my legs, staking his claim. He rose up, still on his knees, placing one hand on each of my thighs, stretching to breathe lightly at my face, almost rubbing noses. I admit I swallowed hard at the vision of my apprentice between my spread legs and almost shuddered in ecstasy when his hands began kneading my thighs. I had craved such contact for many years as I watched my Padawan mature. I pushed him away before the Master could be tempted to take liberties with an unaware apprentice. The rejection didn't faze Obi-Wan. He meowed once, resuming his prowl around the room.
As I reached the healers, Obi-Wan seemed to recognize the location, struggling in my arms. He was smaller than me, but nearly as strong and muscular. The unexpected panic disconcerted me, but I tightened my grip, using the Force to strengthen my control over my wiggling Padawan. Obi-Wan was a horrible patient whenever he was injured; his cat sense must instinctively associate the healers as a bad place.
His flurry of resistance unsuccessful, Obi-Wan went limp and passive in my enfolding arms, muscles loose and heavy. His bright eyes stared at me, steady but hurt. I could almost see them asking, "Why are you betraying me?" The clearness of those striking blue-gray eyes wrenched at my heart as I placed the slender form on the examining table. I desperately wanted to accede to the pain he conveyed and remove Obi-Wan from this place, but I knew he needed whatever treatment the healer could offer.
"Master Jinn, you may leave the patient in our care." The healer's sympathetic voice broke into the transfixed stare between Master and Padawan.
"No I - " I broke off. My voice was tight with the pain I was inflicting on such a vulnerable creature. "I must stay."
The healer accepted my statement without objections. Most Masters insisted on taking care of their Padawans, regardless of how minor the injury. I had always stayed with Obi-Wan before when he was wounded, but it was even more essential this time. Before, his gaze was never so accusatory.
Stroking Obi-Wan's soft but spiky hair, I murmured nonsensically as the healer examined him, both with common medical diagnostic instruments and the Force. "Obi-Wan, don't worry. I'm here. They won't hurt you. Obi-Wan. Poor Obi-Wan. Obi-Kitty. I'm here." I didn't know if the crooning reassurance was understood or not; I only knew that I must alleviate the pain behind that unblinking stare.
The healer found several toxins in Obi-Wan's system, presumably causing a mental state similar to early Catarrians. Despite their feline attributes, the Catarrians and Obi-Wan's ancestors must share some biological similarities. We attempted to settle him in the medical center, but the young man twisted and hissed, back arching. Reluctantly, we agreed that Obi-Wan must remain in my care while the analysis was completed. He seemed secure in my arms, and only resisted when I tried to settle him down in a bed. He leaped out of my grasp as I moved toward the door, seemingly aware we were leaving. Obi-Wan positively stalked the halls of the Jedi Temple, spine indignant. His tail would have been twitching furiously if he possessed one. Frankly, I was relieved that he was walking and that the slinking marking would not have to be explained to curious Masters and Knights. Padawans and younger students also might be interested, but at least I could dismiss their inquisitiveness with a disapproving glare from a Master. Position holds some advantages and I would use any to protect Obi-Wan in his unnatural state of mind.
Upon arriving at our quarters, Obi-Wan promptly dropped to all fours, his sinuous body moving against the door and several feet of wall on each side of the doorframe. Gazing up at me, he rumbled, "Meowrr?"
Opening the door, I gestured and Obi-Wan slithered into their shared quarters. The sitting room was explored, smelled, and the furniture rubbed, as was the tiny dining/kitchen area. The freshing chamber was sniffed and used in normal human fashion, to my admitted relief. Obi-Wan bypassed his own bedchamber in favor of mine. Leaping from all fours to the bed, he kneaded the quilted cover, curled into a ball in the exact center of the bed, and fell asleep. I wasn’t sure if he believed himself a small cat, or as large as the Catarrians, but it was a mystery to me why he needed the very middle.
He was never more beautiful to my eyes then when he was resting, strong features softened in repose, feathery eyelashes laying on his cheeks, his indomitable soul so trusting. I gently removed his boots and sash, leaving him dressed in tunic and trousers before retiring to the other bedroom to sleep.
My calm was shaken the next morning when I found the bed deserted. I carefully checked every room and each cupboard, under every piece of furniture, ensuring that Obi-Wan hadn't hidden away. No luck. Closing my eyes and focusing, I sent a soft brush of the Force through our Master/Padawan bond, searching for my apprentice. Obi-Wan was sleeping, dreaming of - mice. Birds. Other small animals. Waiting, stalking, then the mad rush to pounce. The excitement of the hunt, the enticing feel of life trapped within paws and teeth. Playing with the prey, teeth and claws digging into a soft underbelly. I mentally pulled away from immersing in the hunger in that dream, retaining enough connection to direct me to Obi-Wan's physical body.
I paced the gardens, knowing that Obi-Wan was close. Lifted leaves, peered under bushes, seeking a curled form. "Kitty kitty kitty," I called softly, rather than using Obi-Wan's given name. It was only past dawn and the gardens were deserted, but early risers would appear to meditate soon. I wanted to protect Obi-Wan's dignity and reputation, preferring not to reveal my apprentice's state to any other Jedi beyond the healer. Even the stately Jedi would not have been able to resist an occasional teasing comment about being possessed by a cat spirit. Though Obi-Wan would accept with good grace, I hoped to avoid the instance ever arising by concealing this occurrence.
Crawling backwards out from a row of bushes, I yelped in surprise as I came face to face with my own diminutive Master. "Lost someone, have you?" Yoda inquired. "Look in the wrong place, you are." I didn't ask Yoda how he learned of the situation, since I had contacted the healer directly and requested discretion. Yoda always knew everything and always had the ability to sneak up on me. It made him a difficult Master to fool in my young and rambunctious days.
"Master - " Yoda interrupted my feeble protestations, pointing upwards with his walking stick. I followed the direction, my eyes roaming the spire of the clock tower. Stifling a curse, I could see bare feet and arms draping over a ledge and dangling in the air.
"Use of the Force, he still has?"
I sighed. I hadn’t seen any signs. "I don't know, Master. He may have unconsciously used it to help climb up."
Yoda grunted in acknowledgement. "Even without the Force, young Kenobi could climb the tower. Done so, on a dare. Bring him down while he sleeps, we must. Fight us he may not. Fall like a cat, he cannot."
I bit off any question. Whatever pranks had happened in the past were irrelevant now. My Master could be as regal as any other Jedi, but he had a mischievous streak. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’d encouraged my apprentice in escapades forbidden to me when I was a youth. Yoda took his position as honorary grandfather to my Padawan far more frivolously than he had acted as a Master. He and Obi-Wan were a perfect pair with their impish ways.
Bowing my head in acquiescence, we linked minds, summoning our own bond, forming an invisible cradle of Force energy, scooping Obi-Wan off the ledge. That supple body drifted through the air, lowering to the ground. Unfortunately, cats are easily roused to consciousness. Finding himself in mid-air, Obi-Wan spat and writhed, fighting the invisible power. Fortunately, he no longer retained intelligent control of his own Force to break free. Unhappy and hissing, he twisted to land on his feet. He was magnificent in his fury, even with tousled hair and crumpled clothes. Without the sash, his tunic hung loose on his body, revealing his chest to my sight. I dimmed my appreciation as I noted Yoda’s ears twitch. He could read me too easily.
"Obi-Wan." Making my tone commanding, I demanded attention. The obedience of the Padawan won out over the independence of his cat nature. Those stunning blue-grey eyes met mine and Obi-Wan crouched, rubbing against my long legs. He arched his neck and I accepted the hint, stroking his neck. Obi-Wan purred, a deep rumbling sound emerging from his chest, shoving harder into my hand.
"Toxins should purge from his system in a few days, healer says. Keep him inside and safe, you must." Yoda sniffed delicately. "Bathe him also."
I managed not to groan at that comment as Obi-Wan's energetic rubbing almost knocked me off my feet. The more I stroked the soft side of Obi-Wan's neck, the harder Obi-Wan pushed back and the louder he purred. "Yes, Master."
I drew the bath with the door closed, leaving my apprentice in the sitting room after carefully sealing the door and windows shut with the Force. Jedi life allowed few opportunities to raise pets, but I generally knew that cats did not appreciate getting wet and delayed Obi-Wan's realization as long as possible.
Stripping my apprentice's slender form was one of my more treasured fantasies of recent years. Obi-Wan was tolerant and accepting of the removal of his clothes, obviously not attached to these strange fabrics on his skin. I had never quite imagined these circumstances and desperately tamped down any wayward thoughts or bodily reactions. Obi-Wan needed my care and attention, not my desire.
Bathing together was another cherished dream, the two of us cuddled in our large tub, soap, hot water and warm flesh blending. The reality didn't duplicate the fantasy. I opened the door to the freshing chamber and tried to guide him inside. The steamy air hit Obi-Wan’s skin and the battle began. Dragging him inside, I summoned the Force to bind him, dumping him into the hot liquid. The bath was a test of will, Obi-Wan hissing, scratching whenever possible. Thankfully, his nails were trimmed short. I overwhelmed him with mental energy and sheer brute force.
I hadn't washed my Padawan for many years. I remembered a few occasions when Obi-Wan had been ill, sniveling with a fever, and the healers recommended bathing to loosen muscles sore from too many days in bed. Another time when he was 14 and had fallen into a noxious weed. He had resisted scrubbing himself enough to remove all traces of the foul stench, entrenched in one of those unclean phases young boys suffer. I had ordered him into the tub and washed him myself. His body was still scrawny, still awkward at that age, despite the intense Jedi training.
Obi-Wan was not physically sick, and certainly no longer scrawny. His muscles were fully developed and well-defined, covered by sleek pale skin. As much as I would have liked, I wasn't allowed the luxury of fondling perfect muscles but instead soaped the tense body as quickly as possible. Rinsing his head was the worst. He snarled and tried to bite. I ended up as wet as Obi-Wan by the time all the suds were removed from silky short hair.
Released from the torturous fluid, Obi-Wan shook, arching his back, dropping to the ground and scooting from the chamber. I let him go. Obi-Wan's ability to use his fingers was erratic, but at least his Force sense seemed non-existent and I didn’t expect him to break my seals. I stripped off my sodden clothes, taking the opportunity to bathe myself.
The sight that greeted my eyes on leaving the freshing chamber stopped me dead in place, barely able to breathe. My apprentice hadn't dressed himself, but sprawled on his back on the plush rug. Arms raised over his head, hands flexing as he dreamed, legs spread wide. The rug was one of the few luxuries I allowed myself and the dominating blue in the pattern made his skin even paler and more beautiful. I desired nothing more than to drop the towel concealing my own rangy frame, lay down and cover that exquisite form, kissing him awake.
Care attention care attention, I repeated to myself, skirting around the naked body to enter my own room and find clean clothes, suppressing my immediate erection with strict discipline.
The remainder of the day passed without unexpected shocks. I managed to coax Obi-Wan into short trousers, so some of the distracting vision was moderated. A tunic was defiantly refused with a growl. I read and studied while he slept, prowled, and watched the flow of traffic in Coruscant's skies. Obi-Wan lapped milk from a bowl and ate meat for lunch, wrinkling his noise at the fruits and vegetables I served on his plate.
Close to evening, Obi-Wan was sleeping on the rug, this time his legs curled, one arm outstretched, his head cradled on his bicep. His eyes unnervingly watched me reading. Rising, he stretched his entire body, yawning. I stifled my intense desire to study that lithe form as it uncurled and was unprepared when Obi-Wan approached me again, sitting between my legs, hands on my thighs, replicating our positions from the ship.
"Yes, Obi-kitty?" I knew it made little sense to talk to a cat but the intent glance seemed so intelligent. A head brushed against my hand and I accepted the command, scritching my fingers on Obi-Wan's scalp. "Poor little Obi-kitty." I smiled ruefully at my own foolishness. "You are such sweet torment to your old Master like this," I murmured.
The large Padawan body sprang as gracefully onto my lap as a small kitty might, but the weight expelled the breath from my body. Obi-Wan's entire form undulated against mine, as if staking his claim to every inch of my flesh. "Meowrr?"
"Yes, Obi-kitty?" I wrapped my arms around Obi-Wan, tucking him onto my lap as the slender body wiggled into a comfortable position.
Obi-Wan arched back, almost falling off my lap, using our arms wrapped around each other to drag me off the chair and onto the floor with him. The soft texture of the rug cushioned his back as my solid frame covered his chest, his legs tangled around my hips. He gave another long “Meowrrrr?" I could swear he wanted me to continue.
I shivered at the feeling of our bodies wrapped together. The sensation was too delicious for words. “Such sweet torment, you so vulnerable and trusting, so beautiful.” I shook myself and tried to pull back. Even in his current predicament, I should not be confessing such inappropriate thoughts to my own Padawan.
"Tell me more, Master." The intent glance seemed intelligent because Obi-Wan was restored to his normal self. Teasing, the edges of Obi-Wan's lips curled into an amused smile and his eyes lighted with an electric sparkle.
"Obi-Wan?" I could hardly believe that this strange occurrence could end so easily, toxins purged by time, Obi-Wan sane again. "How long have you been conscious?"
"Part of me was conscious all the time, Master. I just couldn't dominate the cat instincts." A throaty purr underlined his words. "I saw your face when I sat between your spread legs on the ship. You wanted me, didn't you?"
"Obi-Wan, this is wrong, our being together. Let me up." His legs tightened around my hips at that response.
"These last few days have been so odd. I haven't been in control of myself, but I've been conscious. It's been - instructive, seeing your reactions to my vulnerability. So determined to control yourself. So dedicated to protecting me. You haven't seemed so caring, so loving for several years. I liked it." Obi-Wan's elegant voice caressed every nerve with the sincerity of his response.
His words were such sweet music to my ears. I had to offer my own confession. "I love you, Obi-Wan. I have for many years but I've tried to suppress my baser reactions. If I haven't seemed caring, it's because I had to hide my feelings. I didn't want to take advantage." I was excruciatingly aware of Obi-Wan's mostly naked body, only the short trousers covering the skin I craved to stroke.
Obi-Wan sensually rubbed his bare chest against my linen tunic. "Stop suppressing Master. I've learned there are advantages to base reactions. Life is very simple, very direct. I know what I want and it's you."
"Obi-Wan, we must consider the ramifications of any sexual relationship to your training." My apprentice sighed at my dedicated objection. He could tell I was weakening since my hands had cupped his face, my thumbs stroking his cheekbones. Actions can be so revealing and I couldn't conceal my need to touch him. Twisting his body, he rolled me to the floor.
"Master, have you heard the saying - Cats don't ask, cats take." With those words, Obi-Wan kissed me in a tactile exploration of my lips and mouth. Though my heart cried out to respond, I reluctantly pushed Obi-Wan's shoulders back, trying to break the kiss. My resistance only encouraged him to stake his position with more vigor, hands wrapping in my long brown hair, hips rocking against mine even as the contact between our chests was broken. Obi-Wan opened his eyes, his stare challenging. Releasing my lips, the upper half of his body languidly dangled in my arms. The fluffy end of his braid draped down to touch my chest.
"This isn't wise, Obi-Wan," I chided. I was still trying to be responsible. After several thoroughly irrational days, I needed reassurance of Obi-Wan's ability to make a logical choice.
"You're a kitty toy, Master. And I'm going to play." The feral gleam in his eyes echoed the passion in his declaration. Using his entire body weight, he bore down on my hands holding him away, combining the physical pressure with a blanket of Force energy. I unlocked my elbows, allowing Obi-Wan to sink down, acquiescing to our shared ardor. Our kiss was mindless, all-encompassing as the apprentice tugged at his Master's clothes. Years of my own pent-up desire exploded. My tunic, sash, trousers and undergarments were flung carelessly away as our heated bodies writhed on the floor. Obi-Wan's trousers soon joined the untidy pile of fabric, torn in two by my own frantic haste. Lips, teeth, and tongue explored each other's bodies with an animal intensity, delighting in finding sensitive points of pleasure. Hands stroked and caressed hard muscles, Obi-Wan kneading my firm chest with glee, his nails sinking lightly into soft skin.
Our fists clasped at each other's erection, wondrously exploring extra-sensitive skin before pumping with a desperate concentration as the pressure quickly built to a frenzy of gasping cries. Hips thrust together in a jerky rhythm as our tongues entwined, sweat binding our bodies. I knew I had waited too long and this opportunity was too unexpected. I couldn't make my passion be as smooth and loving as I had always dreamed. Fortunately, Obi-Wan seemed to share my sentiments. We rode the carnal tide with raging excitement, climaxing quickly, shuddering with the power of our release.
Obi-Wan sprawled on top of me, spent and boneless. Never had so much weight seemed so dear. We kissed gently, idly stroking as the last quivers of ecstasy flicked through our bodies. He rumbled a purr through his chest, and I responded with an answering flicker. "Master?"
"Yes, Obi-Wan?" My response was full of sleepy satiation.
"Did you know that cats make love for several days?"
I laughed, scattering worries about the future to all the different goddesses of nature. I trusted that the Force brought us together to be Master and Padawan; I had to trust that the Force wanted us to be lovers. An even more meaningful relationship should strengthen our abilities. We would make it work. We had to make it work. I couldn't live with any other outcome. Clasping Obi-Wan and rolling, I rose to my knees and stood up, cradling the slender body in my arms. "A kitty toy, am I? As long as I'm not an easily discarded one."
"Don't worry, Master. You're - "
I smothered his words with kisses as I carried him into the bedroom. I didn't want to hear him tease me, describing if I was a white mice toy or a feather on a long stick or whatever playthings capture a cat's fancy. We were together and life was purrfect.