Qui-Gon felt the eyes on him before he knew who they belonged to. He tensed, and shifted, turning just enough to look around the crowded cantina without making his actions obvious to all and sundry. Beside him, he felt Tahl shift too, reacting to him, Micah quickly following.
Qui-Gon? Micah asked, audible over their pair-bond in a way they stood now chance of having with spoken conversation. Qui-Gon shook his head, the tiniest of twitches, and felt his friends relax on either side of him.
No, nothing malicious, I don’t think. Just…sad?
Curious now, more than anything, Qui-Gon plucked his drink from the bar and turned in his seat to survey the room at large, carefully searching for the source of the eyes and the echoing sadness and…longing, that he still felt aimed at himself.
There, over by the door. Sipping his drink, Qui-Gon let the almost too sweet flavors wash over his tongue as he tipped his head in a slow, languid motion that gave him a better view of the cantina’s entrance. Like the rest of the establishment, the entryway was crowded, and Qui-Gon let his gaze slide lazily over the crowds, allowing the Force to nudge and guide him until he found a pair of blue-green eyes that stared back at him. When their gazes met, Qui-Gon jumped, feeling something in the back of his mind click and settle into place. At the same moment, the stranger’s eyes grew wide with shock, and he turned on his heels, shoving his way through the crowds surging in.
Inexplicable panic surged in Qui-Gon’s veins, and before he had quite thought through what he was doing, he had slammed a handful of credits down on the bar and was weaving his way through the crowd of dancers and drunks, following the stranger and ignoring Tahl’s shouts after him. It was crazy, he knew, but the Force was thrumming in his ears and he knew in his bones that he could not let the man just disappear.
Qui-Gon caught up to the stranger a few block away, far enough from the main street that the pounding music and incessant chatter had faded to a dull hum at the back of his mind. The stranger was just ahead, wrapping himself tight in a cloak almost identical to the start issue Jedi cloak Qui-Gon had seen a million times before, even as he knew this man was no Jedi he had seen before.
“Wait!” Qui-Gon called, his longer legs and greater stride giving him the advantage as he put in a burst of speed and closed the remaining space between himself and the man, catching his shoulder with one hand. “Please, wait!”
The man tensed under his touch, and for a moment Qui-Gon thought he had made a mistake, that there would be a fight, but then the stranger sighed, long and low, and Qui-Gon felt him relax.
“I’m sorry,” Qui-Gon began, suddenly realizing just how this must look. Here he was, a Jedi Knight, chasing after a random man he had seen in a cantina, and hadn’t even said a word to! “I’m sorry, I just―”
His words died as the man shrugged off his hand and turned around, lowering his hood and giving Qui-Gon his first proper look at his face. He looked to be about Qui-Gon age, maybe older, but no more than thirty. Maybe twenty seven? Twenty eight? But there were shadows under his eyes, eyes that shifted and changed like the sea on Mon Cala, and they made him look older. More tired. His hair was beautiful, copper-gold, like metal and flame all twisted together, his beard short and neatly trimmed. He was beautiful, and it took Qui-Gon’s breath away like a blow to the stomach.
“I…” he said again, lamely, and felt his cheeks heat with a blush as a tiny smile curled the man’s lips. He cleared his throat and tried again. “I’m sorry for running after you but I…well…may I know your name.”
Internally, he cursed. He must sound like a creep! But to his surprise, the man’s smile widened, if only just, and he said, in a quiet, gently accented voice; “No need to apologize. My name is…Ben. Ben Lars.”
Qui-Gon smiled, and ignored the obvious falsehood. He still sensed no ill will from this man, from Ben, and he was not quite so drunk as to have utterly lost his sense just yet. “Ben. I’m Qui-Gon. Qui-Gon Jinn, Jedi Knight.”
The man’s smile softened and grew. “It is good to meet you, Master Jedi.”
Qui-Gon shook his head. “Please, just Qui-Gon.”
He was quickly become entrance by the way Ben’s eyes sparkled when he smiled. “Of course, Qui-Gon.”
They stood in silence for a long moment after that, until Ben shifted and cleared his throat. “Well, I should―”
“Wait!” The word burst from Qui-Gon so suddenly that it surprised even him. He blushed again, and licked his lips, an old nervous habit rearing its head. Ben blinked, startled, but waited, watching Qui-Gon with an easy curiosity. Qui-Gon shifted, suddenly nervous.
“Would you…that is…might I buy you a drink, Ben? Perhaps somewhere a little quieter than before?”
Ben stared at Qui-Gon for a long moment, and then nodded, carefully. “I think I would like that, Qui-Gon.”
Qui-Gon could not help the grin that spread across his face, and he offered Ben his arm.
As they walked, Qui-Gon reached out to Tahl and Micah, soothing their concerns and promising he would not do anything too stupid.
I’ll be back before dawn, I promise.
When she replied, Tahl’s mental voice was a little distant. No, I don’t think you will.
Qui-Gon felt Micah’s confusion mimic his own. Tahl?
Just…be careful Qui.
I always am. He promised, more serious that he had been a moment earlier, and let the three-way link fade.
Qui-Gon had honestly meant to just buy Ben a drink. Really. But when they stopped at a street corner, and Ben had looked up at him, it had been so easy, felt so right, to just lean down and press his lips to Ben’s.
The shorter man made a small, heart-wrenching noise, but before Qui-Gon could pull away, Ben had his hands in Qui-Gon’s loose hair, holding him close as he kissed back with something almost like desperation. Qui-Gon groaned, and pressed Ben back against the wall behind them, where they were hidden by the shadow of an overhang, and then poured everything he was into the kiss, suddenly desperate, like there was a hole in his chest that only Ben could fill.
“I…I have rooms,” Qui-Gon gasped, when they finally broke apart, pressed together as close as they could. “At the Temple.”
Ben’s face was flushed, his lips swollen and his pupils blown wide as he shook his head. “No,” he whispered, voice already ragged, and small gods, but Qui-Gon wanted to hear more. To feel more, to taste more, with a strength and desire that was utterly foreign to him, and a little frightening. “Not there. Please, I― Just, anywhere but there.”
Qui-Gon nodded shakily, pressing his forehead to Ben’s for a moment as he struggled to gain his center. Then he straightened, and held out his hand. “I saw a hotel, not too far from here.”
Ben’s smile could have lit an entire system, and it sent sparks of heat dancing through Qui-Gon, as Ben took his hand, and they all but ran down the street.
It was not the nicest hotel Qui-Gon had ever seen, but that hardly mattered, not when Ben was kissing him again before the door had even closed, and Qui-Gon was using a careless flick of the Force to through the lock, pulling away only so long as it took to squirm out of his tunics, which joined Ben’s in a heap on the floor. Ben yelled and laughed when Qui-Gon grabbed him by the waist, hoisting him into the air and then tossing him back onto the blessedly large bed. Qui-Gon found himself laughing too, when Ben reached up and caught hold of his hair, pulling Qui-Gon down on top of him, kissing him like it was his only goal in this life.
They stayed like that for a time, content in their closeness, and the press of warm skin against skin; Qui-Gon occasionally straying to kiss and nip at the pale stretch of Ben’s throat and collar bones, making the other man laugh and squirm at the brush of his beard against sensitive skin. Eventually, Ben’s patience gave out, and he pressed his hips up against Qui-Gon’s, grinding against him and making Qui-Gon gasp. Ben laughed, low like a purr, and rutted up against Qui-Gon again as his lips found the soft skin below Qui-Gon’s ear and he murmured, “As fun as this is, Qui, could we perhaps pick up the pace?”
There was a challenge threaded through the too-steady words, and one that Qui-Gon was more than willing to meet. He growled, and slid down the bed to quickly rid Ben of his trousers and underwear, Qui-Gon’s own remaining clothes swiftly following suit. Free of fabric, he began pressing kisses up Ben’s inner calf and thigh, making the man squirm and let out all sorts of lovely little noises. Just before he reached Ben’s groin, Qui-Gon stopped and switched legs. Above him, Ben tossed back his head with a long-suffering groan.
“This is not what I meant when I said hurry up,” Ben panted, eyes squeezed tightly closed. Qui-Gon smirked against his hip, taking a moment to watch the other man stretch and twist against the sheets, looking for something, anything, to take the edge off. Then he moved, ducking his head and taking Ben into his mouth.
Ben shrieked, caught off guard by the suddenness of it, arching up off the mattress and curling in until he was nearly wrapped around Qui-Gon, his knees pressing tight against the side of Qui-Gon’s head, before he went slack, dropping back down. Qui-Gon pulled off, and grinned up at him. “Sensitive, are we?”
Ben scowled, but there was little heat behind it. “I didn’t say stop, did I?”
Qui-Gon laughed, swept his hair out of his face, and went back to work. By the time his jaw began to protesting, Ben was a writhing, keening mess above him, and Qui-Gon was so hard it hurt.
“Qui!” Ben cried, a plea and a gasp as he tangled his fingers in Qui-Gon’s hair, just tight enough to hurt and make Qui-Gon groan around Ben’s cock. Ben jerked and came with a shout, body tensing and arching up.
When he slumped back to the bed, loose-limbed and breathing hard, Qui-Gon swallowed and pulled away with an obscene noise that made Ben shudder. Grinning, Qui-Gon licked his lips, feeling Ben’s eyes on him, and crawled back up to let Ben pull him in for a kiss.
“Good?” Qui-Gon murmured.
Ben nodded, a lazy, satisfied smile on his lips. “Wonderful. Fuck, your mouth.”
Qui-Gon couldn’t help the shiver at the praise, his hips jerking on their own accord, and Ben’s eyes flashed with something that in any other situation might be very dangerous.
“I suppose I ought to return the favor, hm?” he purred, one hand sliding down between them, wrapping nimble, calloused fingers around Qui-Gon cock, squeezing just hard enough to make Qui-Gon gasp, and thrust up into his hand.
Ben laughed, and climbed on to of Qui-Gon, kissing him lazily while starting up a antagonizing slowly rhythm with his hand.
“I’d ask you to fuck me,” he breathed between kisses, lips still brushing against Qui-Gon’s. “But unless you are in the habit of carrying lube…”
Qui-Gon groaned, and closed his eyes. “Not this time,” he admitted. “W-wasn’t, fuck! Wasn’t planning on doing more than drinking.” He opened his eyes and managed a smirk. “Next time.”
For a moment, Ben’s expression shifted, something lost and achingly sad shining in his eyes, but then it was gone, and Qui-Gon’s attention was fully occupied by the hand on his cock speeding up as Ben whispered, “Of course. Next time. But in this moment, Master Jedi,” another squeeze, and a light scratch of nails that had Qui-Gon’s eyes flying open with a choked curse, “I would like to see you come apart for me.”
Qui-Gon moaned, and came hard when Ben dragged his thumb over the head of his cock, shouting something that was almost Ben’s name.
They lay in silence for a while after, curled around one another and enjoying the quiet of the afterglow. It was soothing, Qui-Gon thought, Ben’s head on his chest, his steady breathing matching Qui-Gon’s own. Finally, Ben spoke, stroking his knuckles over Qui-Gon’s cheek. “Thank you,” he murmured. “I think I needed that.”
Qui-Gon grinned, and stretched up to kiss Ben’s nose. “My pleasure, I assure you.”
Ben laughed, a soft huff of air against Qui-Gon’s skin, and snuggled closer. Qui-Gon yawned, draping an arm loosely over Ben’s waist, his eyes growing heavy. He felt Ben press a kiss to his collar bone, and then sleep overtook him.
Qui-Gon was alone when he woke. Frowning, he sat up, stretching as he looked around. The room was empty, no noise coming from the ‘fresher, and a touch to the Force confirmed it. He was alone.
Qui-Gon was not sure how long he sat on the bed, processing and sorting through the thoughts swirling around his head, until he could finally find something that resembled peace. He sighed and rubbed his face, moving to stand up, when he heard the rustle of flimsi. He found it under his hand, half crumpled where he’d pressed it into the pillow. Hoping for an explanation, he smoothed it out.
Under that, in smaller, messier writing, like Ben had been in a hurry:
And then two sets of initials. The first, BL, had been crossed out, and replaced with OWK.
Qui-Gon stared at the note, until he felt a gently touch to the pair bond.
Qui? Are you alright?
Qui-Gon sighed, and replaced the note on the pillow. He needed a shower.
I’m fine, Tahl.
It’s okay if you’re not.
I’m fine, Tahl.
He could feel her hesitating, and then a mental sigh.
I’ll be home soon. He promised, and this time, he meant it.