Bail walks out of the 'fresher, and I look from him to T'nell. Bail is smiling, and that's a good sign. He's been glancing at T'nell all night, and now he's gotten to the point where he's staring. He must be incredibly nervous -- especially if the way I feel is any indication. The fact that I've had more three-ways than I can remember doesn't help at all -- this is still a big first for both of us. I'm glad it's T'nell. I feel more for T'nell than I do for just about anyone. Well, with the possible exception of Qui, and I certainly wouldn't want to suggest a three-way between me, Bail, and my master -- I suspect Bail would not like that idea one bit.
"Well?" T'nell asks. "Where do we begin?"
I look back at Bail. "My room?" I ask softly. Bail nods, and I point it out. He goes first, leaving me behind with T'nell. T'nell's expression, behind Bail's back, is a little disappointed -- not by Bail at all, I'm sure, but by my choice of rooms. Qui's bed is a good deal bigger than mine. But since Bail would probably be scandalized if I suggested we have our inaugural threeway in my master's bed, I prod T'nell to get him moving and follow the two of them into my room.
To my surprise, Bail has already started taking off his clothes, his shirt unbuttoned to the waist revealing his beautiful brown skin. And he looks surprisingly unselfconscious doing it. I expected to have to peel him out of his clothes. Actually, I'm a little disappointed I didn't get to do that. Unwrapping Bail is always fun. But I don't spend too much time bemoaning not getting to undress him; he's got his pants off, too, and for just a moment, T'nell and I stand and outright stare at him. Force, he's gorgeous.
"What?" Bail asks, grinning a little shyly. If the lights were on a little more, we might even be able to see him blushing. Instead, the lights are at about thirty percent, and they cast shadows on his skin as he slips his shirt off his shoulders. He clears his throat and glances from one of us to the other. "I think you're both overdressed," he says, eyes going pointedly to T'nell. I wonder if he keeps staring at T'nell because T'nell is a new element, or because he's trying to psych himself up for what he's about to do.
Maybe he's just attracted to T'nell. I certainly couldn't blame him for it. The thought gets me grinning. Maybe we'll have more nights like this in the future. Many more nights like this. Oh, yes.
T'nell clearly doesn't mind the attention. He smiles and runs his hands down the front of his body, undulating a little. I can see we're about to be treated to a short striptease, and so I wander over to Bail and put my arm around his shoulders. I ease Bail back so we're both sitting on the edge of the bed, with me facing him on his left side, and Bail supporting himself by leaning back slightly on his hands.
"T'nell, you should have been a dancer," I tease.
T'nell wrinkles his nose at me, but then flashes a grin at Bail. "What do you think?" he purrs.
Bail smiles a little, but doesn't say anything. Poor guy -- I think he's still nervous. I draw my hand up from his knee to his inner thigh. He shifts and puts his hand over mine, not to stop the motion but to guide my hand into a soft stroking motion on his skin. I grin and decide to toss subtlety away. I draw my hand up over his cock and stroke that instead.
Bail lets his hand drop from mine. He uses both hands to keep himself upright; now that his attention is half on T'nell and half on the strokes of my hand, he must need all the support he can get. T'nell slides out of his shirt and tosses it aside, then runs his hands down over his chest. It's as if I can still hear the rhythmic beats from Rising; I can see his body moving to them. I keep moving my hand, now in time to the rhythm T'nell displays as he dances. I almost expect Bail to put his hand over mine and tell me to slow down, but instead Bail leans back, spreading his legs a little wider and getting comfortable.
Oh, yes. Definitely potential here.
T'nell gets his boots and socks off -- ah, the joys of trying to get out of footgear without hopping around one-legged and looking ridiculous. T'nell does this better than most people I've seen, although he's also been known to fling boots and socks into random corners of the room in an effort to get naked as quickly as possible. This time, he's slower about it, and when his footgear's been removed, he comes back up to standing and runs his hands over his chest again. He sucks two of his fingers into his mouth and slides those now-glistening fingers over his nipple, moaning -- maybe moaning a little too much. I have to stifle a bit of a snort. So does Bail, but a quick twist of my hand as it reaches the head of his cock has him moaning again. He tilts his head back and sighs, and I lean over and kiss the base of his neck, humming softly with pleasure.
T'nell slides -- no, slinks -- out of his pants, and I grin over at him. "Tease," I tell him.
"A tease is someone who doesn't follow through," T'nell purrs. "I've got every intention of following through." But he goes ahead and finishes undressing, kicking his pants aside, and then comes over to the bed, where he drops to his knees in front of Bail.
"Well, what shall we do with the beautiful junior senator?" T'nell asks. "I could suck him off..." He runs his tongue out over his lower lip. "Or fuck him..." Bail lets out a breathy little moan; oh, he's enjoying what he's seeing and hearing, and I'm glad. "Or I could suck him off while you fuck him," T'nell suggests.
"Or--" Bail finally puts a hand over mine and stops my strokes. "Or you could fuck me while I fuck Ben." T'nell gives him an odd look, and Bail quickly corrects, "Obi-Wan. While I fuck Obi-Wan."
"Oh, Force, you two have pet names for each other," T'nell groans. "What does he call you?"
"Shut up," I tell T'nell, leaning forward and giving him a playful shove in the shoulder. My body is humming all over from the way Bail made that last suggestion. I love how he's being so active here, not just letting me and T'nell sweep him away in physical pleasure the way Siri and I did that first night at Rising. Let's try not to lose that momentum... "Are you coming up here or what?" I ask T'nell.
T'nell gives my bed a considering look. "I don't know, Obi. There's not a whole lot of room up there..."
I give him another little shove. "There's always been enough room for me and--" I suddenly realize I don't want to mention all the different people who've shared this bed with me, and I especially don't want to mention that I've shared this bed with Qui. "--whoever," I finish lamely. "And if you don't think there's room, then how about this?" I strip out of my clothes with none of the grace or sensuality Bail or T'nell displayed -- enough already, let's just get naked here -- and go up to the head of the bed, kneeling on all fours. The relatively small width of the bed shouldn't matter then; if Bail's behind me and T'nell's behind him, and we're all on our knees, we ought to do just fine.
I feel the warmth of Bail's hand on the small of my back. "You look fantastic like this," he murmurs. "So hot. I'm going to like fucking you."
The rough words send a shiver of lust up my spine. Force, as if I wasn't hard enough already. And at the same time, I almost smile at Bail's choice words. He says fuck so seldom that he's probably doing it now mainly to fit in. Mm, fit in. Enough thinking, and enough talking -- I arch my back and look over my shoulder. "Good," I purr, "because I'm really going to like having you fuck me." And I like getting to say it that way, too -- fuck me. "Come on, Bail." I twist my lips up into a seductive little smile and flick my tongue out over my bottom lip. Bail grins right back at me, and although it's a nervous grin, it looks fantastic on him. Force, I'm lucky.
T'nell walks over to my nightstand and pulls out my favorite lube along with a stack of barriers, more than we'll probably need. Ah, T'nell: always one for excess. I grin at him. "Better safe than sorry," he teases. "Here," he says quietly, and he hands the small bottle of lube to Bail, who looks a little rattled all of a sudden. Maybe it's just the knowledge that we're about to do this. Then again, maybe it's the way T'nell knows his way around my bedroom. T'nell puts a hand on Bail's shoulder and squeezes gently. "Why don't you get started, and I'll join in after?"
Bail nods, and then he takes T'nell's hand and pulls a little, his head tilted up. T'nell leans down and fits his lips over Bail's, and Bail draws his hand behind the back of T'nell's neck. I'm starting to feel the strain in my neck and back from having to crane my neck around to watch, but I don't want to move out of position with Bail behind me, his hand still warm on the small of my back, so I turn back toward the pillows. I can wait.
I hear T'nell pull away, and then Bail's hands are both on my back, making long slow strokes over my skin. I shiver a little in anticipation. I love these touches -- the warmth, the connection, feeling like my skin is alive all over.
Then again, I also like being fucked hard and rough, and I have a feeling these soft touches are going to last just as long as it takes for T'nell to join in. Or at least I'm hoping for that.
Bail takes his hands away, and then I feel him working his fingers into me, quicker than usual. Oh, yes. It's going to be good tonight. I give a slightly louder moan than I really need to and arch back against his fingers. I want to be supportive, encouraging -- arousing. Even if it makes me look a bit like a holovid star. "Come on, Bail," I grin. "Fuck me."
"If you insist," he teases, and I hear the tearing of a barrier packet and the sound of Bail slicking the barrier over his cock. He doesn't tease me any more; he just lines himself up and slides in, just slow enough that I can feel every inch of him inside me as he presses his hips hard against my ass.
"Nice," I tell him, purring and pushing back against him. "Harder."
He doesn't say anything, then; he puts his hands on my hips and starts to move, a few slow strokes first to get himself in the rhythm, and then harder, and faster, and I can hear him panting behind me. I lower myself to my forearms to get a better angle, and groan.
Suddenly, he stops mid-thrust. I hear T'nell whispering, "It's all right. Just keep going." And Bail moans, then starts up again, slower now, a little stuttered. He lets out a soft, whispered breath, and T'nell chuckles. "Never felt that before, hm?" he asks.
Bail laughs. "I have," he says, and his voice sounds a little strained, but very pleased, "but not while I was fucking someone."
"Oh, well, that's what I meant," T'nell grins. "Lean over him a little."
Bail leans over me, and his hands glide up to my shoulders. "Like that?" he asks.
"Just like that," T'nell agrees, and suddenly Bail is pressing into me even harder, and he moans, and I moan right along with him, and then T'nell moans, and we're a group of three moaning men and I have to laugh.
"Ahh--" Bail pants. The laughter must have made my ass shake just a little, and he squirms a little, trying to get comfortable. "Don't -- don't anyone move just yet," he says. I can hear a laugh in his voice. "I feel -- oh, Gods, this is intense."
"Mm-hm," T'nell agrees, and I feel his hand come down over my hip, caressing. I moan, trying not to move, trying to keep still for Bail, but it isn't easy. "Intense... and satisfying... and hot..." I feel the rock backwards as T'nell slides back, then the rock forwards as he moves in. Bail lets out a shuddered moan, and presses forward against me, then back against T'nell.
"It's -- all of that, yes," Bail laughs, and then T'nell's hand on my hip disappears. I imagine it's steadying Bail's hip now, and so when Bail starts to move in me, I can picture the way T'nell must be rocking back and forth, the three of us starting a rhythm together. Well... the two of them starting it, and me on the receiving end. But I'm definitely not complaining. I'll have my turn in the middle one of these nights.
And then, just when I've started to think both of them have forgotten about me, I feel a hand wrap around my cock. I don't know whose it is. There are so many hands everywhere here that I can't tell one from another. I press back hard, groaning, and T'nell laughs and says, "I think he likes that, don't you?"
"I think he does, too," Bail says, his voice low and full of good humor. "I think..." His voice trails off a bit, and he moves against me in suddenly-fast thrusts, pushing into me hard, hard enough that I throw my head back, gasping for breath. "I think," Bail repeats, panting too, "I really want to feel Ben -- Obi -- coming -- want to feel you -- squeezing around me."
The hand around my cock tightens, and that's all it takes -- I gasp, and my back arches as I come, squeezing around Bail just like he asked, and then Bail gives out a similar loud groan, pressing hard into me, and T'nell, too, all three of us pressing together hard and our breath running together as we try to hold still and keep from keeling over.
Finally, Bail squirms against me. "Wow," he says.
"Wow," T'nell agrees, laughing.
The hand on my cock draws away, and I grin. "Wow," I say, completing the circle. And then we all laugh, and I hear Bail let out a soft murmur as T'nell collapses on the bed, on his side facing me.
Bail slides out of me next, and leans down to put a soft kiss on my lower back. "I'm sticky all over," he says. "Do you mind if I go shower?"
"Mmm. Do you mind if I join you?" I ask.
"You're both insane," T'nell groans. "Why can't you just stay here? It's comfortable."
I turn to T'nell and kiss his sweaty forehead. "We'll be back," I tell him. "And you'll probably be asleep, so don't complain."
"True," T'nell offers. Bail climbs off the bed, and I follow him.
We make our way into the 'fresher, and Bail wraps his arms around me in a giant hug. "Thank you," he says softly.
I put my arms around him and let him rest his head on my shoulder. "You're welcome," I tell him, though I'm thinking, for what, exactly?
But he picks up on that. "For making this easy on me. For picking someone who wouldn't want too much, who wouldn't ask for more than I was comfortable doing." He smiles. "I wouldn't want to do this every night, but... it was fun. And I do want to do it again."
"Good," I smile. "I'd love to do it again. Maybe with someone else next time."
He pulls away and turns to the 'fresher. "We'll see, won't we?" he says, voice lilting, almost teasing. "How about that shower, Ben?"
"Sounds perfect." I lean over and rest my cheek against his shoulder. "And then..."
"And then I have to go," he says.
He's not watching my expression as his words sink in. My face falls. Go? Now? "Why do you have to leave?" I ask. "Don't you want to stay here?"
He puts his hand on mine, but doesn't turn around. "I can't," he says. "It's all right, Ben. I'm fine--" And he finally turns around, looking me in the eyes. "I just don't want to spend the night here. For one thing, your bed's not nearly big enough for three." He smiles, and I can see he's not hurt or upset -- he just doesn't want to stay here, and that's all there is to it. "Maybe someday we'll bring someone home to my place. My bed's big enough for four."
I laugh at that and climb into the shower with him, and I rub soapy, slick hands over his body, getting off the night's smoke and sweat, the sticky fluids left over from all the sex. He moans as I give him a nice scalp massage, then rinse the shampoo out of his hair. I squeeze his shoulder as he shuts off the water.
I wish he'd kiss me. I feel like I've pushed him into a great deal tonight. I want to know he's still feeling all right, that he isn't trying to avoid kissing me for some reason. It's funny how such a simple thing can feel so intimate with the right person. I've spent hours kissing fellow padawans, but a kiss from Bail means something. And yet... nothing. Bail simply dries off, and heads back to my bedroom.
T'nell is indeed sleeping when we get there. Bail gathers up his clothing and dresses quickly. I stay undressed, since I'm only going to sleep anyway. Bail wraps his arms around me one last time before he goes. "Have a good night," he whispers. "I'll comm you."
"I'll be waiting." I lean in very close, my lips against his ear, and I breathe, "I love you."
"I love you, too, Ben." Bail smiles and strokes my cheek softly. "Good night."
He doesn't kiss me. I don't quite know what to make of that. After Bail leaves, I climb into bed with T'nell and spoon up against him, and he murmurs my name as we get comfortable together. There. Comfortable. Maybe that's what's been missing this evening.
T'nell mutters something incomprehensible when I get out of bed in the morning. I punch him lightly on the shoulder. "Get up," I tease. "Can't stay in bed all day. Don't you have crèche duty today?"
He moans and grabs a pillow, shoving it over his face. I laugh and head off to the 'fresher. He'll get up eventually. He might groan -- we all do when we're on crèche duty -- but T'nell is one of the few padawans I know who genuinely enjoys spending time with "younglings". Maybe it's just that T'nell gets along with everyone.
When I get out of the 'fresher, T'nell is still lying in bed with my pillow over his face -- all I can see is the pillow, a lump under the covers, and a padawan braid hanging out beside him. I snatch the pillow away from him, revealing the back of his head. Which makes me grin and slap him on the ass. He finally jumps and turns over, glaring at me. "Hey--!"
"Up," I insist. "You'll be late."
"Since when did you develop a sense of responsibility?" T'nell grumbles. But he gets up anyway and starts tugging on last night's clothes. "Did Bail get home all right?" he asks.
"I presume so." I grin a little. "Did you have a good night?"
T'nell is quiet for a moment. "I really did," he says at last. "Did you?"
"It was a good start," I tell him. He smiles at me, and we head out of my quarters.
My only scheduled activity this morning is Xanatos's seminar. On my way there, I run into Siri, and I nudge her with my shoulder -- one does not simply tackle fellow padawans in the hallways of the Temple -- and she nudges back. "Kenobi," she smirks. "How was your evening?"
"Great," I tell her. "How was yours?"
"Bet it was more great," she says.
I roll my eyes at her. "You're female. You have an unfair advantage when it comes to, ah, repeat performances."
"Or you could say we had a double unfair advantage," she grins. "I went home with that cute Nubian aide. Errie? Remember her?"
I remember Bail noticing her, that's for sure...
"You're scowling," Siri says, and then she takes a second glance at my face. "No, you're really scowling," she says suddenly. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," I tell her.
"That's one of those nothings that means 'Something's wrong but I feel dumb about feeling this way, so I don't want to tell you', isn't it?" She nudges me with her shoulder again. "Why are you scowling about Errie?"
"I wasn't scowling about Errie..." in particular. I would have scowled if Bail had been interested in any girl. Well, he's given Siri a once-over here and there, but that's Siri. She's a friend, not just a girl, which is precisely why I invited her into Bail's inaugural public three-way. I trust her.
"You were very much scowling about Errie," Siri insists. "You practically snarled when I said her name. What's the matter? Does Bail want her to be a part of your next threeway?"
I wince, and she wraps a sympathetic arm around my shoulders. "It's not that he asked for it," I begin.
"It's just that he's not slack," she finishes for me.
I shrug. "Clearly not."
"It's not the end of the world, is it?" she asks. We draw up outside the room for Xan's seminar, and she shakes her head at me. "Does it matter, so long as he still wants you?"
"Well, yes, it matters." I drop my voice, hoping that the people who are already inside the room won't hear us. "What if he really does want a girl in the next threeway?"
"Oh, ew, sex with a girl," Siri says, rolling her eyes. She sighs and puts her hand on my arm. "Look, can we talk about this later? I think Xanatos is starting."
I sigh and follow Siri into the room where Xan's seminar takes place. Xanatos raises an eyebrow when he sees the two of us come in together -- or maybe that raised eyebrow is because of my expression. Blast -- I didn't realize the frown on my face was still that obvious. Siri looks like she and I were discussing weather patterns or something equally uninteresting -- but it's not her boyfriend we were talking about, is it? I make a definite effort to get my face just as expressionless as hers, and Xanatos clears his throat, starting today's discussion.
"Good morning," he tells us. "I've got another ethical dilemma for you..."
This time the "ethical dilemma" involves getting a prisoner off a slave ship by killing her first. It's not a permanent death; the prisoner will be revived. Still, she doesn't know that, nor are you permitted to tell her.
I think I'm going to end up developing a reputation for being a stick-in-the-mud by the time I'm done with Xan's seminar. An overly conservative Jedi in the making. When ethical dilemmas are presented, I choose the path that most directly coincides with my understanding of the Code.
Siri, on the other hand, is inventive. "Temporary discomfort to one person in the act of saving her life does not constitute 'intentionally inflicting harm,'" she argues.
"Temporary discomfort -- you make it sound as though we're stepping on someone's foot," I fire back.
"Someone's theoretical foot--"
"--as opposed to strangling them in front of a crew--"
"So they can be revived later," Siri says. And she's more calm than I am, making her argument. I cross my arms over my chest, seething. Once again, we've run to the end of the session, neither one of us really convincing the other, both of us with supporters and detractors.
"Padawan Kenobi," Xanatos murmurs. "There are a number of times the best course of action is to follow the Code, and sometimes--" Oh, here we go again. Sometimes we can just throw the Code out the nearest airlock. I hate that about Xanatos. I frown hard at him.
But that's not what he says as he keeps going. "Sometimes someone like myself -- or the Master who handled Outer Rim assignments before me -- can benefit from a more solid application of Code principles." I uncross my arms and look at Siri, almost smug now. "Padawan Tachi," he continues, "I'm impressed with your ability to think on your feet, as it were." I close my eyes to keep from rolling them. Of course he approves of Siri. She's just like him. In another ten years, she'll be the next Xanatos. Just what the Order needs. "I'd like to see the two of you for a few minutes. The rest of you can go now."
Siri and I exchange looks as Xanatos shuffles the rest of the padawans and young knights out of the room. It takes him a few minutes to answer the leftover questions they have, but finally he manages to see the last of them off, and he comes back into the room, shutting the door on his way in.
"All right. It's been a while since I've seen two such talented padawans with such... differing approaches to questions of ethics." Xan's eyebrows arch in a way that dares us to take umbrage with the way he phrased that comment. I think his time with Qui is rubbing off on him -- that was a little more diplomatic than I'd ordinarily expect from Xan, and I definitely don't remember him being able to pull off an intimidating look so effectively. "There's a mission I've been considering taking, one that was until recently covered by a master and padawan team. They should be giving us weekly updates on their progress. They've missed the last two scheduled comms."
Xanatos looks from one of us to the other as he continues. "I think the two of you would do well on this assignment. Padawan Tachi, you're one of the sharpest thinkers I've seen in years, and I suspect covert ops are going to fit you like a glove. I've already talked to your master, and she's agreed to let you go with me -- if you think you're ready for this sort of assignment." He turns to me. "Padawan Kenobi, I think your level head would be a hell of an asset on this mission. Force knows you outpace both Siri and myself on that. I've talked to your master as well, and he thinks the experience would do you some good."
I try not to smirk, thinking about how Xan might have approached this -- where he was, where his hands were, what Qui was doing at the time. But the reality of what Xan is asking for settles in a few moments later, and I turn to Siri, trying to figure out what she thinks before I give an answer.
"Thank you for your confidence, Knight Xanatos," Siri says. Apparently she's deliberated long enough. "I'd be honored to take on this assignment." Force -- I know Xan just said he's talked to Master Gallia, but shouldn't she have taken at least a little time making up her mind?
Xan snorts. "That's about as much formality as I can stand, Siri. How do you feel about the assignment?"
"Ready," she says immediately. "I want to go." Hmm. Maybe Master Gallia prepped Siri on the assignment. I wonder why Qui didn't do the same for me.
My turn next. I wish Qui had warned me about this, but I'm not going to turn down my first covert-op mission. "I'm in," I tell Xan. And we'll see just how serious he was about someone like me being useful in keeping his mind on solid applications of Code principles.
Xan regards me for a few seconds, as if trying to decide whether to ask me how I feel about the assignment or not. Finally, he shakes his head, and grins at both of us. "All right," he says. "We'll be leaving as soon as possible, and I'll make an appointment with both of you to discuss the mission essentials and what you'll need to pack. For right now, that's all."
Siri grins at him and heads out. "I'll see you later, Xan," she says.
I stay put. Xan heads for the door, ignoring me, and I sigh heavily and follow him out. "Xanatos--"
"Come on. I'm meeting Qui, and I'm late."
"Oh." I take a few quick steps to keep up with him. "All right. Look. I know I must get on your nerves when it comes to covert ops strategy and tactics. I just want you to know I'm glad you asked for me anyway."
He gives me a wry grin. "Well, I have a number of reasons for most of the things I do -- something you'll figure out pretty fast once we're working together on a serious level," he says. "I think it'd be good for us to have a chance to work together more. For Qui's sake."
Surprised, I raise my eyebrows at him. "That's a thought," I murmur. "How are the two of you doing?"
He only smiles as we keep walking down the corridors. By the time we get to my quarters, I'm pretty sure I won't get anything further out of him, and when we step into the common room, we can hear voices coming from Qui's room. Qui's voice, and--
--wait. I'd know that voice anywhere. That's Aubris Feln.
Xan holds a hand up to me, keeping me from knocking at Qui's door, and puts a finger to his lips to indicate silence. He steps back, and I can feel him growing -- distant, somehow. The feeling I get from him is as though his presence in the Force is much further away than he really is, and I frown, wondering where he picked up that technique. It could be useful for things like--
--eavesdropping. "Xan," I hiss, "we should leave them alone."
Xan shakes his head and beckons to me, putting his finger to his lips but holding out an arm to me. I frown, but step into the curve of that arm, and suddenly I can hear more than just their voices -- I can hear their conversation. I blink up at Xanatos. What is he doing?
//Consider it a lesson,// he sends to me, tightening his arm around my chest, and then I get a definite shh noise in my head.
"I don't understand. What exactly would I need to do in order to prove I deserve a chance to work on independent missions at the Republic's border?" Aubris asks. Qui is silent for several seconds, and Aubris continues. "Does this have anything to do with the ethics investigation? Because as you know, I was--"
"Knight Feln, my reasons for denying you that letter of recommendation are my own. You can look to someone else to sponsor you, if you like. I'm not going to interfere."
"I'd appreciate hearing those reasons," Aubris tells Qui. "Until recently, I had every reason to believe I was one of your star pupils. You selected me for the assignment involving Caamas and Alderaan. You--"
"Enough," Qui snaps. "Arguing with me will not change my mind. You will need to find another sponsor."
"Fine," Aubris says, and I can nearly hear ice dripping from the syllable. A moment later, I feel Xan's Force presence in the proper place, lined up with his physical presence. He doesn't let me go, though. Instead, he presses his lips to the side of my neck. //What the--?//
//Well, either we got distracted necking or we were eavesdropping on Feln and Qui.//
I do my best to mask the confusion I'm feeling and let him kiss me. Maybe it's another lesson, of a sort. My eyes close just as the door to Qui's room slides open.
Aubris stalks out of the room and glares at both of us. "Xanatos. Kenobi."
"Hello, Aubris," Xan purrs against my skin. Xan seems fairly friendly, which sets my teeth on edge, but surely he doesn't mean it. Does he? Either way, I'll be damned if I'm going to pick a fight with Aubris Feln again. "How are things with you?" Xan continues.
"Fine," Aubris sniffs. He raises an eyebrow at me. "I see you've started behaving more like a padawan and less like a lovestruck bantha. Congratulations."
I start to say something, but Xan's grip on me tightens. "I don't know what you're talking about," I tell Aubris. He rolls his eyes and stalks out of my quarters. Good riddance.
Once he's gone, Xan lets me go. I shift, hoping my robes will do something to cover my erection. I might not be too friendly with Xanatos, but he's attractive enough. I'd still fuck him all over again given half a chance. It was fairly odd being in his arms like that, though. I have no idea if he's interested in me or not.
Bet he did that on purpose, too, just to confuse me. It'd be just like him.
Qui steps out of his room a few moments later. He doesn't greet either of us with a smile. "Hello," he says.
"Qui," Xan says. He puts a hand on Qui's shoulder and steers him back into his room, where Qui's terminal still shows Aubris's list of courses and commendations. I suppose Aubris insisted on pulling those up and showing them to Qui while they were arguing about his letter. Qui sits down heavily and flicks the terminal's screen off. Xan stands back and crosses his arms over his chest. "What was that about?" Xan asks. "The letter of recommendation...?"
"What letter?" I interrupt.
Qui puts his hand to his forehead and sighs. "Aubris has been after me to sign a letter of recommendation for him for some time now. He wants to work independently, on border disputes and the like in the outer reaches of the Republic."
"I take it you're not helping him," I sneer.
Qui looks up and shakes his head. "No, I'm not. Regardless of the results of the ethics investigation--" and he looks at me sternly-- "I don't know that I trust his abilities as I once did. I have no idea how much of his talent comes from using the Force to push people into settlements, and we can't afford to have someone like that working where he won't be monitored."
"Mmm," Xan says, noncommittally, and he gives me a look I can't quite identify. "Qui, perhaps this would be a good time to discuss the rest of the ethics committee's conclusions."
Qui's gaze turns sharp, and he gives me a similar look. "Xan, I'm not sure you need to be here for this."
"What's the matter?" I ask. I plant my feet and cross my arms over my chest. "What are you two talking about?"
"The ethics committee's mandate that Qui file ongoing reports on how you and Senator Organa are doing," Xan says.
I stare at Qui. The ethics committee mandated what? Why didn't he ever tell me he was supposed to file reports? "And what's your report going to say this time?" I ask, barely managing to get the words out.
Qui's not even looking at me. He's glaring at Xanatos, and I can tell he meant it when he said, a moment ago, that Xan doesn't need to be here for this conversation. I'm almost glad Xan is here, though -- it'll be harder for Qui to be anything less than impartial with someone else "standing guard". I'll have to remind myself to thank Xan for that later. I wonder if Xan thought of that as well.
"All right," Qui says at last. "I know you're still seeing -- Bail -- regardless of the directive not to do so."
My heart catches in my throat. I don't say anything; it wasn't a question, and I don't have to confirm it or deny it.
"I don't know, Qui," Xan interrupts. "I've seen them together. At Rising. Didn't look any different from any of the other relationships padawans are having at Obi's age."
This time Qui and I both turn to look at Xanatos, and I think our expressions mirror each other -- both puzzled frowns. Has he, or is he just making that up on the spot? And why is he helping me? Not that I'll turn down help, but it'd be nice if I knew what his motivations are.
Maybe he just wants me to owe him a favor. That'd be just like Xan, too. Figures.
But then Qui says something that makes my heart leap further still. "No," he says. "It doesn't, does it?"
"We went home with T'nell last night," I offer, figuring the information will only help at this point. And it's true. "Bail left early. I think he had a meeting to go to. I haven't talked to him since."
"Planning to see him again?" Xan asks.
I force myself to shrug. "When he gets around to comming me, or when I have time to comm him, we'll figure it out then."
Xan lifts an eyebrow at Qui. "Well. Sounds like a perfectly reasonable relationship to me."
Qui is quiet for long moments, and then nods, finally taking his eyes from Xan and planting them at a spot on the ceiling. "All right," he says. "That seems like about what I'll say in my first report, then." Xan's expression grows just the slightest bit smug. I wonder why. Has he been trying to convince Qui to give me a favorable report? Does Xan simply want me occupied with Bail so I can't interfere with his relationship with Qui? I can't stand it! What are his motivations?
But I can't really get into this in front of Qui. Qui seems as if he's just come to a decision, and I certainly don't want him changing his mind about it. I exhale a breath I didn't even know I'd been holding. "Thank you, Master," I murmur. "If the two of you will excuse me, I have studies to attend to."
"Of course," Qui says. Xan nods to me, and I head into my own room.
It's not studies that I'm going off to attend to, of course. I need to comm Bail, need to let him know that it's going to be all right. I know the last few times we've been out together have been difficult for him, and that he's had some difficulty adjusting to trying to behave like "normal padawans" would in a relationship, but if we can see each other in public, without having to hide anything, all the work will be worth it.
When I get through to the senate office, Bail's secretary tells me he went home early. I thank her and comm him at home.
He looks surprised to hear from me, although I can't imagine why. But at least he's smiling. That's a good sign. "Hello, Ben," he says. "How are you?"
"I'm fine, Bail. How has your day been?"
"Good." I can see him relaxing in his chair and settling in. Good, he's ready to be on the link for a while. "And what brings the elusive Padawan Kenobi to my commscreen this afternoon?" he teases.
"I wanted to give you an update," I tell him. "My master had a talk with me a little while ago. Apparently he's about to give the Temple ethics committee its first update on my -- well -- our behavior over the last several weeks."
Bail stiffens for a moment, despite seeing that my posture's relaxed, and I'm smiling. He's not picking up on my body language -- but then, Bail's not as sensitive to body language as Jedi are, I suppose. "Oh," he says at first, and then, "I take it he'll have a positive report?"
"It looks that way," I tell him. I lean back in my chair a bit. "It seems the plan of the last few weeks has been working."
"I'm glad," Bail murmurs. "It's been... intriguing, certainly."
"Did you..." I pause, trying to figure out how to phrase the next several things I want to say. "Did you enjoy last night?" I ask, finally. One thing at a time.
He shrugs and then nods. "It was... fun," he says. "I liked T'nell."
I raise an eyebrow; "...fun" isn't exactly the kind of enthusiastic response I was going for. "Is there someone you would have liked better? Should we have tried it with someone else?"
Bail grins for a moment, but then shakes his head. "No. No, it was fine, with T'nell. Really, Ben."
"I noticed you were watching some of the senate aides," I tell him. Damn. I meant to be subtle about this, but I suppose it's a bit late now. "I'm sure any of them would have been happy to join us. Maybe next time we could..."
"Maybe next time we could just have a night for the two of us again," Bail says quietly. "Would that be so difficult?"
Taken aback slightly, I shake my head. I thought he liked coming home with T'nell the way we did. But maybe it wasn't as fun as either of us had hoped for. "No, no, of course not. In fact... in fact, it sounds like a good idea. Some time for just the two of us. Yes."
Bail relaxes just a touch, and gives me a seductive little grin. "Good. Because now that we've passed your master's test for the ethics committee..."
"Well, it's not just the one report," I point out. Bail sits back and frowns at me through the commlink. "It'll be an ongoing process for a while."
"For how long?" Bail asks. "And what if it is an ongoing process? Does that mean we have to go home with other people every night?" I can see how tense he is. I can see the slight movement of his hand that implies he's tapping his fingers on his desk. Not good. Not good at all.
"I -- no," I tell him, flustered, "and I don't know for how long yet. But I thought -- well, I thought you might enjoy having a slightly more open relationship. I mean, the way you were watching the senate aides -- it's not as if it would bother me if you wanted to go home with one of them."
The tense, closed look on Bail's face disappears all at once under what looks to be a wave of shock. Bail is clearly flabbergasted. "Oh," he says. "Well." He turns away from the screen for a few seconds, then runs his hands through his hair. "I guess it hadn't occurred to me to go home with someone else instead of you. I have a hard enough time adjusting to seeing new people when you are there, let alone when you're not." He frowns at me. "Do you want me to see other people? On my own?"
"No," I stutter. "Well -- I mean -- if you wanted to sleep with someone who's..." Female, I want to say. "Not interested in me," I tell him, finally. "You have your own admirers."
"I don't want admirers," Bail says, suddenly sounding tired. "I realize it's not your way of doing things, Ben, but if I'm going to pursue anyone, I'd prefer to do it for reasons apart from just sex."
I wince. It's hard to remember, sometimes, that Bail's life has been so different from mine. I know he's not from a planet where they take casual lovers. I know the Jedi approach to open relationships startles him sometimes. I know the way padawans are forbidden to form emotional attachments has been as hard on him as it has been on me. "I'm sorry," I murmur. "I didn't mean to offend you."
"What's the matter with you?" he asks. "Why do you keep going on about the senate aides? Do you think I really have eyes for anyone but you when we're in Rising?"
"Maybe," I blurt out.
Before I can take it back, he frowns at me. "Who?" he asks.
"The, ah..." I sigh; there's no way around this, is there? "The Nubian aide Siri went home with. Errie. I saw the way you were looking at her..."
Bail looks as if he'd flush red if his skin weren't so dark to begin with. He runs fingers through his hair again and shakes his head. "Would you even have noticed my doing that if I'd been watching a male aide rather than a female aide?"
"Shit," I mutter under my breath. "That's not the point, really -- I didn't mean..."
"Ben." Bail leans forward. "I understand that you're slack. I understand you might find women threatening."
"I don't find--"
"But don't assume that if I'm attracted to someone, I immediately want to fuck her. Please."
I bite back the first thing that comes to mind -- but what's wrong with that? -- and try to look concerned and understanding. "All right," I tell him. "I'm only trying to say that if you did--"
"--then I'd support you."
Struck speechless again, Bail shakes his head for a while and then sits back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest. "This is not what I'm after," he says. And he looks absolutely miserable when he says it. "I don't want my lover's support in pursuing other people."
I can't think of any response to that. I shake my head and wonder how things can seem so easy sometimes, and so difficult other times. How a conversation that starts out easy and positive can end up with the two of us arguing. There are times when I can't help thinking that Qui and all the others are right. Relationships are complicated. Distracting. Frustrating.
And I love him. I remind myself that the complications are worthwhile.
"Ben..." Bail starts again. "It's been a long day. Perhaps we could talk again when neither of us is so... incitable?"
"All right." I pause. "Tomorrow, then?"
"Why don't I comm you next time?" he asks. I blink a few times, but nod; what else could I say? No, Bail, I'm going to keep forcing my comms into your home until you ban me from contacting you.?
"Bail? I love you."
"I know, Ben. I love you, too." And he clicks off.
There's a frustrating twist in my gut that says I'd feel a good deal better if I went out and got laid -- and that Bail would probably be disappointed in me for feeling that way. I sigh and push away from my terminal.
The door chime sounds, and I raise an eyebrow. Well, if opportunity happens to walk into my lap, that's not my fault, right? It won't be as if I went out looking for it. I head for the door and open it.
"Siri!" I blurt out, surprised. "I, er -- what's going on?"
Siri grins, and walks into my quarters. "I've got a proposition for you," she purrs. And, oddly, I have a suspicion that I'm going to end up taking her up on it.