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Fallen Feathers

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There was something very gratifying about putting things to rights.

Obi-Wan wasn’t fastidious by nature, though he wasn’t messy, either; instead, he tended to straighten things up a piece at a time when it suited him. But there was a special sort of pleasure in fixing Maul’s feathers for him, the many he couldn’t reach himself. Obi-Wan had gotten good at this; at using a pair of pallet knife blades taped to two fingers on one hand, working tandem with bare fingers on the other, to preen feathers. It was time-consuming, but almost meditative– sometimes. When it wasn’t fuel for his continuing unrequited feelings.

There wasn’t a ton of work to be done on the small, fine feathers; he’d pull a loose one, and knew which ones were loose by how the soft parts refused to lay flat, but they only really required knowledgeable fingers to stroke them into place otherwise. Those small feathers shed, it seemed, much like human hair, replacing themselves regularly.

The larger ones required more work; the coverts, lesser and greater. Those, he would drawn between fingers and blades, conditioning them and occasionally fixing them, though they didn’t tend to split like flight feathers did. Those took the better part of an hour alone, but it was an enjoyable hour. Hand over hand, one at a time, from left to right like reading a book.

If, sometimes, Obi-Wan just sat back and admired the gleam and health of the ranks of black feathers laying in their elegant rows, well. It was another part of the compensation.

(If, sometimes, Obi-Wan sat back and wondered what it would be like to lay himself along Maul’s back, sliding his arms under those wings out-stretched, that was something he would have to deal with later in the ‘fresher.)

Usually, by the time he got to the large flight feathers, Maul would be dozing. Those took the most time, given how huge they were, and it probably didn’t help things any that Obi-Wan would sometimes just draw fingers along them admiring them. The primaries, with their brilliant red inner edges. The more bluntly shaped secondaries, all pitch black except where they caught and reflected light.

All so perfectly fit to the smooth, red-and-black skin they complimented.

Maul had expressed some confusion early on, that Obi-Wan had any real desire to do this. That he volunteered for it and didn’t feel put out by the work. And it was work, sometimes hours of it. But over time, Maul seemed to accept that it was at least wanted work, instead of duty or obligation, and Obi-Wan didn’t have to tell him how oddly wonderful he found it, to just go and set things right, or how good it was to get to the end, only to find Maul had drifted off, trusting under his own hands.

(And if, by chance, he had to go retreat to the ‘fresher for a moment alone, with the thought of bared skin on skin, and the brush of feathers against his own naked form, he didn’t have to say anything about that, either.)