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Sweeter Than Wine

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The birthday boy swore that not a drop of alcohol would touch his lips, as tradition demanded, and Obi-Wan stifled a sigh when Qui-Gon sedately informed the Emperor, "Today is also my padawan's date of adulthood according to the laws of Coruscant."

"But this is charming, yes? You must share my son's vow!" the Emperor enthused.

Obi-Wan gave a deep bow, elegantly pointing the toe of one booted leg. "I would be honored, Your Majesty."

Any sort of imposed denial on his birthday was not in itself a particularly distressing thought for Obi-Wan. As a padawan, he was accustomed to spending his birthday however and wherever the demands of the Force and the Jedi Council required. The fact that this birthday gave him legal adult status on Coruscant meant little, since a Jedi initiate was assumed to be mature once accepted as a padawan. But this mission was supposed to be an easy one, minor diplomatic negotiations between two powerful worlds that needed to remain amiable allies for the good of the Republic. Obi-Wan had happily anticipated spending his birthday at the feast celebrating the end of negotiations, the exquisite food and the wines and liqueurs for which the Tefuri, their hosts, were justly famous.

Still, he did his duty without complaint, drinking water and fruit juice throughout the evening, occasionally smiling sympathetically at the Emperor's son, who looked less than pleased with his limited selection of beverages. Obi-Wan didn't remember abstinence on birthdays being mentioned in their briefing papers, and wondered if Qui-Gon had known of the tradition.

His Master was certainly having a good time, sipping at the wines served with each course, chatting animatedly with the Emperor. Obi-Wan had been assigned a less important seat, which had the advantage that he could indulge in his favorite pastime of unobtrusive Master-watching, admiring Qui-Gon's smiles, the crinkles at the corners of his eyes, and how the candlelight brought out the silver in his hair. Being Qui-Gon's padawan was both delight and torment; he loved his Master and enjoyed every day in his company, but their closeness occasionally made disguising his feelings difficult.

"I hope you weren't too distressed to join in the prince's vow," Qui-Gon said as they walked to their rooms, swaggering a bit from the fullness of their bellies.

"No, Master. I was honored to share the prince's vow. And it would have been very awkward if mention of my birthday arose somehow."

"I always appreciate your willingness to do whatever is necessary, padawan. Which is why," he said as they entered their suite, "I liberated a bottle of the brandy." He held it out with a flourish from underneath his robe.

"Master!" Obi-Wan smiled, amused at Qui-Gon's small larceny. His Master was never predictable. "But won't I be breaking my vow?" he protested half-heartedly.

"Sit, Obi-Wan, and you shall have a taste without breaking your vow."

After draping his cloak over a chair, Obi-Wan sat on the couch. Qui-Gon discarded his cloak on top of Obi-Wan's, and sat next to him, uncorking the brandy and holding the bottle in one hand. "Be prepared to tilt your head back and open your mouth," he instructed.

"Master?"

"Patience." Qui-Gon's face smoothed out as it did when he focused on the Force. The amber liquid swirled in the bottle, a small amount slowly floating out of the bottle, through the air, and hovering near Obi-Wan's face. Obi-Wan tilted his head back and opened his mouth, the brandy taking the invitation to ease between his lips. Obi-Wan swallowed, the brandy both smooth and incredibly potent, definitely deserving its reputation as the finest in the galaxy.

"I've never seen you display such control over the Force, Master," Obi-Wan said, feeling the warmth of the alcohol spread through his body.

"As promised, no alcohol touched your lips. Would you like another taste?"

"Yes please, Master."

Qui-Gon focused and another measure floated out of the bottle and into Obi-Wan's mouth.

"Perhaps I was lucky that I couldn't drink alcohol tonight, Master. It would be too easy to get drunk on this brandy. I've never tasted any so smooth and yet so powerful. It's rather like you."

"Like me, Obi-Wan? Smooth and powerful?"

Obi-Wan feared he might blush, a reaction that he thought impossible for himself. "Forgive me, Master. I believe the alcohol has gone straight to my head."

"I'd like to hear what other truths you might reveal," Qui-Gon said. His blue eyes had a look of admiration and suggestiveness that was unusual in their relationship, and even more potent and tempting than the brandy.

A third dose followed the second, and Obi-Wan marveled again how the liquid remained in one piece. As the brandy settled in his stomach, he blurted out, "So can the Force really be used as lube?"

Qui-Gon's lips twitched in a smile. "I see the padawan gossip hasn't changed since I was one."

This time Obi-Wan was sure that he did blush. "I've heard that tale, but never believed it until now. But if you can keep droplets of liquid together - "

Qui-Gon held out his hand. "Do you want to be told what I am capable of, Obi-Wan? Or shown?"

Obi-Wan stared at his hand, capable and callused from years of lightsaber use, the hands of a fighter… and of his lover? "Master?"

"You are an adult now, Obi-Wan. By the laws of the Jedi, you have been for many years. Today the laws of Coruscant agree that you are capable of making all of your own decisions regarding your life. I have waited for this day for longer than I should admit."

"You have disguised it well."

"It is my hope that you have disguised your feelings well too, my padawan. Sometimes I sense that you watch me in a way that reveals deeper emotions than a student for his teacher. Am I right?"

Qui-Gon's direct honesty made Obi-Wan's own admission easy. "You are very right." He laid his palm on top of Qui-Gon's. "Show me, my Master."

They stood, Qui-Gon pulling their bodies together, his strong arms around Obi-Wan's waist, as Obi-Wan's arms settled on Qui-Gon's shoulders. Even the feel of Qui-Gon's tall body against his was exciting, making Obi-Wan shiver in anticipation, as his first lesson in love was that the taste of Qui-Gon's lips was more intoxicating than any alcohol.

~ finis ~