It was far too quiet in the quarters that they had shared for so many years together and it unnerved Obi Wan in more ways than he had ever guessed. It wasn’t familiar to him any longer. Not in the way it had been when he had been his Master’s padawan after a long dark period for both of them.
It had changed. Qui Gon had less plants in the room than he remembered. The Force Sensitive vine was there, drooping despondently in a reflection of its’ owners state of being in that time. A few other succulents were scattered about the shelves and little mechanical odds and ends peeked through the spaces not taken up by the pretty rocks Obi Wan himself had put there.
The arrangement was different enough to make Obi Wan wonder if Qui Gon himself had done it or if Anakin himself had in the years since he had moved in as Qui Gon’s student. It made Obi Wan just this side of wistful that he hadn’t been around to know these things. He had been busy and his missions and Qui Gon’s hadn’t really dovetailed that much until the last battle on Christophsis.
He shook his head, wincing at the remembered pain of a bad concussion and moved away from the shelves and shuffled off to sit on the overstuffed and comfortable chair that Anakin, the less battered out of all of them, had thoughtfully moved form Obi Wan’s own quarters. He settled himself down painfully, wincing at the dull pain in his braced ribs as he did so and felt as if he was at least twenty years older than he actually was. He rubbed his sore knee and turned to the still form lying on the bed, unconscious and blissfully unaware of the changes in his world.
Out of all the endings that Obi Wan had ever imagined for himself and his Master, this hadn’t ever been one of them.
Death for himself. Death for Qui Gon. He grimaced at the thought, but knew that it wouldn’t do to pretend that wouldn’t be an outcome. As much as that made his chest ache with a hollow pain and his stomach, it was the most likely outcome for Jedi. The job lasted until the pyre was lit. They all had to have a realistic view of what being a Jedi meant and ignoring their mortality wouldn’t do anyone any favours.
He swallowed hard and scrubbed a bandaged hand over his face, wincing at the pressure on the still healing burns. Bacta could only do so much and ever since the explosion, when they had been running themselves even more ragged than before, there simply hadn’t been enough time for him to stay in Bacta. With Qui Gon out of commission, they simply couldn’t afford to have him and Anakin out for longer than necessary.
“It will scar some.”
Vokara had warned him when he had been pulled out of the bacta and patched up with even more bacta bandages and braces for his knee and still tender ribs. Butterfly patches over the gashes above his eyebrow and on his cheekbone. He knew he was lucky that he hadn’t gotten any shrapnel in his eyes. A small bit of scarring was the least of his worries. They were Jedi, it came with the territory.
He sighed and looked, really looked at the reason why he and Anakin hadn’t gotten ripped in half once their ship had exploded on the dock. They suspected that it was the Death Watch, since they had been on Mandalore trying to keep Satine’s position in place before the clans tore themselves apart. Or maybe the Separatists. Obi Wan had not a clue and hadn’t bothered to ask.
Anakin had also been quiet, but it wasn’t unusual for him. Especially with how busy he was with Ahsoka and quite possibly, Padme. He only had a suspicion that was the case and he knew that he and Qui Gon would have to have a talk about attachments with him. Or at least get him to be a bit more tactful and subtle if he was heading in that direction.
That would come later. Obi Wan knew very well that he was distracting himself from the matter at hand by thinking of tasks that could very well be put off.
Obi Wan’s eyes slid down Qui Gon’s bruised and pink scarred face and shoulders, down to the left sleeve that hid the truncated arm. Anakin had been the less concussed out of the two of them and had wrapped a tourniquet around it to stop Qui Gon from bleeding to death. Obi Wan had been too stunned and in pain himself to do anything else but watch Anakin scream for medics, who arrived promptly and whisked all of them away.
He must have passed out at some point, since the next thing he knew, he was getting pulled out of a bacta tank and vomiting over the side of his bed at the sudden change in atmosphere. He was handed a tissue and given some water by a sympathetic Anakin while Ahsoka hovered in the background. She had tried to not be anxious, but it showed in the stiff set of her shoulders and how she chewed on her bottom lip when she looked around the medical bay.
“Do I look that bad?”
He had tried to joke, but Anakin’s pained grimace was enough to tell him his joke had fallen flat. His face had the shiny pink of just barely healed tissue and he was holding himself a tad stiffly, telling Obi Wan that he wasn’t a hundred percent himself yet. He was also only just keeping it together, his Force signature uncontrolled and sparkling with live energy that was making Obi Wan somewhat queasy as it thrummed through their bond.
“Qui Gon’s going to be in Bacta for five days.”
Anakin supplied the answer to the question that he could feel Obi Wan shaping in his own mind. Obi Wan nodded to himself and sipped more of the water to soothe his parched throat and ease the sticky sweet taste of the Bacta out of his mouth.
He spat out some in a basin that one of the healers provided and drank the rest, feeling more like himself and a hundred times better than when he had just been pulled out of the bacta. He was given another glass of water and downed with alacrity under Anakin and Ahsoka’s watchful eyes before he attempted to ask anything else.
“It’s that bad?”
Ahsoka paled to a lighter shade of orange and Anakin’s mouth opened and closed a few times as he tried to figure out exactly how to tell Obi Wan about the laundry list of injuries Qui Gon had suffered in his efforts to save them from the worst of the blast. They both looked at each other then, silent communication going on between them when Healer Che came into the room.
With one practiced glance, she read what was going on and shooed Anakin and Ahsoka out with brisk efficiency, promising them Obi Wan in half an hour or so.
“I have no doubt that you’re asking about Master Jinn and his condition.”
She gave him a look that made him want to duck his head as if he was a mere padawan and had been brought in after giving in with ill grace. He didn’t, but it was a near thing.
“You got yourself a serious concussion, four broken ribs, a dislocated knee and more cuts and scrapes that I care to count. You also have second degree burns on your hand. But that will heal.”
She rattled off the injuries while she bandaged him up and helped him get his least complicated set of robes on. Once he was looking more or less presentable and able to somewhat move without too much assistance, Che led him to the bacta tank where he-
Obi Wan shut his eyes and pressed his fingertips to his closed eyelids in an effort to not remember the mutilated body of his Master, his love , as he floated listlessly in the Bacta. His arm gone and his leg sporting a brutal line of stapled together flesh that not even a five day soak in bacta would completely eradicate. Obi Wan also remembered the pink, puckered skin on the left side of Qui Gon’s face and what remained of his arm as well as the short hair.
He opened his eyes and smiled a small, bitter smile at the sight of Qui Gon’s cropped silver brown hair, something that he again hadn’t ever thought he’d get to see. Only Master Yoda recalled a time when Qui Gon had short hair. As far as anyone recalled, Qui Gon had always had his long hair and that wouldn’t ever change. Yet it had and Obi Wan was bearing witness to it. Just like he’d never thought he’d be keeping watch over him only to deliver him to the judgement of the Council.
Obi Wan was dreading this task, since he knew exactly what the verdict would be. Vokara hadn’t pulled any punches after Qui Gon had been pulled out of the bacta, shivering and unable to focus due to the now milky white pupil of his left eye and damage to that ear. Obi Wan had listened while Ahsoka and Anakin had done their best to re-orient their grandmaster.
He had wanted to be the one right there, murmuring comforting words to bring Qui Gon back to the present and helping him on the road to recovery. Except that when he did try, Qui Gon fought hard and he was relegated to hanging back once they had realised that Qui Gon was agitated whenever he laid his good eye on Obi Wan. He still thought that Obi Wan was in danger and his instinct had been to save him. Once they had all understood, it had been decided that it was best for Obi Wan to try and talk to him at a later time. Preferably after Anakin and Ahsoka had gotten him calm and coherent again.
“He’s done as a field operative. Even with cybernetics, he’s not going to be the fighter he was. The leg has healed as much as it ever will. I’m sorry for that. But it’s better than him being dead. Even if he may not see it like that at this time.”
Healer Che had looked at him with some sympathy and roughly patted his shoulder.
“I don’t envy you the next task, but with you Skywalker and Tano, he will be fine.”
Obi Wan had only nodded at that, not really sharing her optimism. Qui Gon was horribly unpredictable. Even Obi Wan, with all his years beside Qui Gon, couldn’t ever really predict his behaviour a hundred percent.
He could either withdraw, or rage. Those were the only two things that he was sure would happen.
He wasn’t looking forward to either of those reactions, if he was honest. But then, he was the only one that was more or less equipped to deal with them. Anakin wasn’t the most stable of them and Ahsoka was still a youngling.
He was the only one left and the only one that loved Qui Gon in that way.
Obi Wan sat back and chewed on his bottom lip as he collected himself in preparation to wake Qui Gon. He gave it a few moments before he closed his eyes and prodded at their bond, faint and only a small line of bright green, but there. He waited before trying it again, finally getting it to its usual near incandescent green.
It was then that he felt the sharpness of awareness and it was then that he opened his eyes to have Qui Gon staring at him with a much too penetrating stare.One eye was still milky and sightless, but the other was still navy blue and focused on him.
Qui Gon stared at him for a few moments, his gaze assessing and penetrating before he smiled and reached over to fold Obi Wan into his arms.
It wasn’t the most graceful embraces that they had shared, since it was off balance and the feel of one arm across his back instead of two threw him off, but the warmth and feel of Qui Gon’s chest made him forget all that. Just hearing Qui Gon’s steady heartbeat under his ear was enough to make him breathe a sigh of relief.
He had his love back. They would be able to deal with the rest, no matter what that would be.
“I’m glad you’re safe, Obi.”
Qui Gon whispered, his voice cracked and slightly too loud as he spoke.
Obi Wan winced, but couldn’t help but to shiver at the sound of that low voice he was afraid he’d not hear again.
“I am. As are Anakin and Ahsoka. You had us worried for a bit.”
Qui Gon,Obi Wan had noticed, had tilted his head so that his right ear was facing Obi Wan. Once he had done that, he hummed in agreement. It made the bond between them go brighter and then pulse as Qui Gon took stock of all the injuries he had suffered. He waited, not wanting to move or say anything in case Qui Gon lost control of himself once he realised the extent of the damage. The bond flared once or twice, but Qui Gon’s serenity didn’t waver. Nor did it darken into the beginnings of despair, something that Obi Wan was fearing would happen.
Even though it hadn’t happened yet, Obi Wan made a mental note to keep it in mind in the next few months as the transition phase would happen. He shivered at the thought, hoping he wasn’t right. But he knew, just like whenever he got Force nudges, he probably was.
Qui Gon finally said, his voice curiously flat as he made the statement.
“You did take the brunt of an explosion.”
Obi Wan murmured, making Qui Gon huff out a raspy laugh.
“I’d do it again if I had to.”
Qui Gon assured him, making Obi Wan’s heart break just a bit, because he knew that Qui Gon meant every word. Even at the detriment of himself and his calling as a Jedi, he valued his apprentices highly and had sacrificed so much to keep them safe.
“And nothing you can say can convince me otherwise. So save your breath, Obi Wan. It’s done.”
Qui Gon admonished him, his voice only mock stern as he pulled away and tilting Obi Wan’s face up to his. Their eyes met and Obi Wan inhaled sharply as he looked into Qui Gon’s eyes, the ruined one still difficult to get used to. He wanted to look away, since it was as intense as staring into a supernova. It always had been that way with Qui Gon, Obi Wan realised as he took in the careworn and changed planes of his former Master’s face.
He just hadn’t had an instance to acknowledge it until now, when it and Qui Gon, were literally staring at him in the face.
The idea of not having that in his life, not being able to look at him in anything but holos and his own memories made Obi Wan’s face crumple. He didn’t think anymore of consequences or his actions. He was just so tired of being silent. Of being selfless and comforting himself with the cold comfort of the righteousness of the Code.
He had nearly lost Qui Gon. Again. And the possibility of loss still hadn’t gotten any easier. No matter how much he had released his feelings of attachment to the force, they still remained. Especially the ones regarding Qui Gon, Anakin, and Ahsoka.
He loved them and he was going to be proper kriffed if he was just going to stand by and watch them die without them knowing that.
Particularly this beat up old fool in front of him.
That was the reason that ran through his mind and the bond as he grabbed Qui Gon’s robe and pulled him in for a forceful kiss, his words failing him for just that one moment in time.
It wasn’t the kiss that he’d imagined sharing with Qui Gon. It was desperate, sharp, tasting of the residual bacta sweetness and saltiness of his own tears. It wasn’t perfect, but it was more than he had ever expected to have with Qui Gon and he’d treasure it. He’d never regret this impulsive act, Even if Qui Gon himself did.
At least he’d have told the truth in his heart and why Qui Gon’s sacrifice would have gutted him if it had been successful.
He pulled away once both of them were running out of air, both breathing heavily once the kiss was ended. Qui Gon looked surprised, but there was no sign of displeasure in his face or in their bond. In fact, it was quivering and pulsing with relief and joy at finally getting a much longed for outcome. It made a tentative smile cross Obi Wan’s face, but it didn’t stop the words he desperately needed to say.
“We could have lost you, you noble fool! How could it have been worth it if I had to live without you? How could you ask that of me again? ”
Qui Gon closed his eyes and turned his face, a faint blush staining his cheekbones as he did.
“I didn’t know and didn’t know how to ask. I didn’t want to presume. Or impose my feelings on you. I didn’t want a forced or lukewarm love from you. I want you. ”
Obi Wan swallowed hard at the blunt admission of love.
“You always had me, Qui. If you had only said the word, I would have come.”
Obi Wan explained softly, making Qui Gon shake his head and laugh. He had to, or else he’d just start crying over the years wasted to longing and unrequited love.
“But Satine? You feel for her, don’t you?”
It was Obi Wan’s turn to blush at the question.
“I won’t deny that I do. She is an amazing woman and I’ll probably love her for a long time. If not the rest of my life. But you also loved Tahl, Qui. Does your love for her diminish the love you have for me?”
Qui Gon huffed out a rough, shuddering sigh at that as he leaned closer to Obi Wan.
“Not at all. It strengthens it because it taught me to appreciate the love I have. Nothing is guaranteed.”
He replied in his now roughened voice. His eyes were drooping slightly and Obi Wan felt slightly guilty at wearing him out, but he couldn’t have put it off any longer. He had nearly lost him again and he was kriffed if he would remain silent about his feelings. Force knew that third chances were quite thin on the ground, especially with how the war was going.
“Exactly. The love I carry for her doesn’t diminish what we could have. What we can have and I won’t let this chance slip through my fingers again. Not if I can help it.”
Qui Gon laughed and pressed another kiss at the corner of Obi Wan’s mouth, ruining the moment with a jaw cracking yawn.
“As much as I’d like to continue, you need to sleep. I promise I’ll still be here. Not bloody likely I’ll be on the battlefield anytime soon.”
Obi Wan rejoined, standing up slowly and carefully, lest his still healing injuries give him grief and helped as best as he could with getting Qui Gon into bed and comfortable again.
“Sleep. You need it.”
He couldn’t bend over and give him a kiss as much as he wanted to, so he did the next best thing and took Qui Gon’s remaining hand and pressed it to his mouth, kissing the palm.
Qui Gon smiled sleepily at Obi Wan and pulled his arm under the blanket, falling asleep in mere moments.
The bond hummed happily and Obi Wan let out a sigh of relief. He didn’t know how long this calm would last, but he would take the advice of his former Master now lover and live in the moment.
And if he did cheat a little and use the Unifying Force to reassure himself, no one else had to know.