It isn't a formal request; the Jedi Order would never formally request one of their Shadows back from the Outer Rim just to make sure one of their own was okay. But Bant remains concerned for a friend who never stopped being one and Kit Fisto remains completely charmed by Bant. Aayla, in turn, remains charmed by Kit Fisto in an entirely different way (a way that gives Bly great frustration and rage, to Quinlan's utter delight.)
And while many things may have changed thanks to the never ending war, one thing that would never change is the fact that Aayla will always know how to find Quinlan.
"They did what?" Quinlan asks in disbelief. "That's Shadow work. Kenobi is a good many things, but he isn't a Shadow."
"I'm aware of that," Aayla answers dryly. She glances in the general direction of Bly, off in the corner glaring at them both.
"Is he ever gonna be convinced that we're not sleeping together?" Quinlan asks, feeling the need to briefly change the subject away from the Order's currently foolish ideas. He already knows the answer to his question is no. Just because clones can't understand how Padawan and Master bonds work...
"It's unlikely," Aayla answers, but her smile is far too understanding. Quinlan's already planning on sending word to Kit that Aayla could use some company. It will please Aayla and make Bly furious and it's what they both deserve. "It's equally unlikely that Obi-Wan will address his own inability to handle what's happened without viewing it as a failure."
"Yeah. Sounds like Obi-Wan. I get that most of us are busy, but ... What a kriffing mess."
"Good thing my master is so capable of fixing even the worst of messes, then, isn't it?"
Quinlan laughs and offers his bottle to clink next to hers. "You'll always be my favorite Padawan."
Aayla grins, her lekku move to express her fondness, and Bly glares at them harder.
Oh, yes, it's definitely time for Kit to visit.
But in the meantime, Quinlan has somewhere else to be.
Although Aayla had made the situation sound dire, Quinlan is still momentarily struck speechless by the version of Obi-Wan who greets him on the landing pad. Cody's there, respectfully standing off a few feet away, looking far less possessive than Bly (even if an accidental touch of Quinlans' fingers on Cody's armor had once revealed that both clones harbored less than pure thoughts for their commanders.)
Obi-Wan is there, and he looks exhausted. They're all exhausted and Obi-Wan has been for at least ten years now. But usually they are all better at holding it in, and Obi-Wan is the best of all of them at it, thanks to that promise to a dead master and an equally strong promise to a headstrong former Padawan.
He's bald, there's no beard, and he looks younger than Quinlan can ever recall him being, even when they were Padawans together.
"Kenobi, that's a terrible look," Quinlan tells him.
"The hair will grow back," Obi-Wan says eventually. "The beard, too."
"Let's hope so. You're not a Padawan anymore." At the mention of "Padawan," Kenobi visibly winces, and Quinlan doesn't have to use his psychometry to know why. Ah, Skywalker. Such a good general, and so very bad at people skills. In a way, it makes him a perfect match for Obi-Wan, but at the present, Quinlan is sure that it's only compounding things.
"Yes, well, not to be abrupt, but why are you here? I hear things in the Outer Rim are truly dire these days and need your unique skills more than we do."
"Yeah, Jakku is a real disaster. Every day, some new jerk finds a way to krong things up." Quinlan throws his arm around Obi-Wan and gives it a squeeze that doesn't even get him a funny look. "I'm here, Kenobi, because the Order has officially lost their mind and starting sending people on the wrong missions. I"m also here because the Jedi do love to gossip."
"I'm sure whatever you heard -"
"Bant loves you. I fear her more than you. So, you can either come with me quietly, or I can keep bothering you until you eventually give in to my considerable charms."
"Honestly, Vos, I thought the war would have cured you of your fondness for melodrama. Yet, I keep being disappointed."
"Just think, you have my undivided melodramatic tendencies for at least the next forty-eight hours."
Behind them, Cody tries to stiffle a laugh, and Quinlan thinks that he will definitely send Kit to see him, too, if for a different reason. There's no reason that everyone shouldn't benefit from those tentacles, after all.
Quinlan will always remember the fumbly touches of days long gone by and learning how to coordinate his wants with another person's wants. Those lessons were, more often than not, learned with Obi-Wan. The comforting and familiar Padawan braid falling across Quinlan's chest is long since gone, but the sensation of smooth skin between his legs and nuzzling his neck is foreign.
It is fortunate, then, that Obi-Wan shines so brightly in the force, even when he's miserable, that it makes up for the lack of familiarity that Obi-Wan's current look gives him.
It's also fortunate that Obi-Wan is just as touch starved as ever, and his fingers dig into Quinlan's skin with the kind of needy impatience that he only allows himself within the confines of a bedroom.
When the needy touches have paused and Obi-Wan is catching his breath beside him, Quinlan states, "It seems to me like you quite enjoyed my melodramatic antics just now."
"It would appear so. Perhaps I am getting sentimental in my old age."
"Enjoy the old age while we can, Kenobi. The War might not let us all reach Yoda's ripe old age."
"No, I suppose not."
Quinlan sighs and traces a soft bit of blond fuzz that is desperately trying to be a shadow along Obi-Wan's jawline. "You're a great Jedi. You would have made a great farmer. You would have been amazing in the EduCorps. But you would have been a terrible Shadow, and they never should have sent you on that mission."
Obi-Wan tenses beside him. "Is this your attempt at comfort?"
"Yup. Not going great?"
"As great as my effort to re-grow my hair."
"So, something that will take time?" Quinlan kisses the top of a shoulder that used to have a bit of plumpness in addition to the muscle and bone that is there now. There also used to be freckles. Quinlan wonders if he can kidnap Kenobi and get him to spend some time shirtless under the sun.
"We don't have time, Quinlan. In case you haven't noticed, there's a war going on."
"We do have some time," Quinlan argues stubbornly. "And considering the mission that you just finished, it's time you need to take."
"Quinlan, I can't. Anakin -"
"Anakin can wait. He's your Padawan. That bond will always heal. Trust me."
Quinlan kisses the denial away; he keeps kissing until they are both breathless for a second time. Obi-Wan doesn't push him away; rather, the kisses hold all of the neediness that has only grown, thanks to the Order's questionable decisions.
"You need the time, Obi-Wan. Trust me, I have more experience with cases like these."
"Well, I suppose I can't argue with experience," Obi-Wan says sarcastically. "Please do lead the way, Master Vos."
"I have every intention of it," Quinlan tells him, and he does – for however long the war will let them.