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“Well," he said softly, "in this life you're often born one thing and die another. You don't have to accept that what you're given when you come in is all you'll have when you leave. -Terry Brooks, The Phantom Menace

—-

A royal starship was a difficult place to be alone. Especially this starship, filled as it was with handmaidens and security guards, so many sets of keen and watchful eyes. And of course there was the Gungan, lumbering from room to room, in search of mischief, or just someone patient enough to listen to his garrulous tales.

Qui-Gon was here too, and the boy. Anakin. He sensed them both in the Force: his Master a steady, familiar glow, while Anakin’s fire, untrained and eager, spilled over everything. Obi-Wan was well-shielded, as he wanted to avoid them, was finding it rather difficult to process the last few hours.

He was not angry.

He was not angry because he understood the way of things, had understood them for a long time: the wind would blow, day would become night, and Qui-Gon Jinn would do what the Force told him to do. Qui-Gon listened to the Force above the Council, and certainly above his apprentice. It was why Obi-Wan’s confessed feelings of foreboding were dismissed--why Obi-Wan himself, now, was to be dismissed.

He had been an angry child, back when no one wanted him. Obi-Wan remembered Bruck Chun needling him--Oafy-Wan. Unclaimed one. He had felt adrift, carried away on the currents of inevitable failure, until he was caught on Qui-Gon Jinn’s branches. That was how the man had seemed. Impossibly tall, grown from the earth, rooted in the soil and the Living Force.

Obi-Wan had suggested Tatooine. A barren world, without trees.

He was not angry. He had left anger behind, alongside his childhood, his naïveté. A Jedi was not allowed possessions, and so he let those things go, and other things. He was always letting go.

Perhaps he was angry, but he could let it go.

Now get on board.

Qui-Gon’s last words to him echoed in time with Obi-Wan’s heartbeat. He walked down the corridor, fingers curled inside his voluminous sleeves. The sleek, silver interior of the Queen’s ship seemed different, but he recognized that it was himself who was different. He had been dismissed twice, once before the entire Council, and again privately. Like he was something in the way.

An obstacle. After twelve years, suddenly Obi-Wan was a guest overstaying his welcome, who needed to be hurried out the door to make room for Anakin Skywalker. The ache that seeped through his chest was his own failing. He knew it was not personal. He knew this was what Qui-Gon did, felt compelled to do. The Council had offered him no other choice—

Obi-Wan walked faster, reached the door to their sleeping quarters. But before he could step inside, a pathetic little sound wrenched free. His ears burned and he ducked into the dark, empty room, hoping no one had seen, or heard. He didn’t bother turning on the lights. He crossed to a sleepcouch and stood there, looking up at the shadowed ceiling, waiting. He felt the Force around him, and tried to find his center in its depths, but he was too distracted, listless. He swallowed past the tightness in his throat.

A Jedi did not cling to possessions.

Not that he possessed his Master. Not that Qui-Gon could ever be possessed. But he had been as close as anyone could come, tethered to him by duty and title, and friendship. He was not so emotional to think Qui-Gon wanted to sever everything that linked them together. He would not be hysterical, or make this rift more meaningful than it was.

Still, Obi-Wan was not able to breathe deeply yet. The tension in his throat and chest was spreading to his stomach, the muscles seizing whenever he thought of what had been said about him, and to him, only hours earlier. Minutes earlier.

Now get on board.

When had Qui-Gon last spoken to him with such ice in his voice? Like he could not bear the sight of him? No. He blinked up at the ceiling, but everything blurred, and he closed his eyes. He was exaggerating, because it was all too fresh.

And because he had never...never...cared about anyone as he cared for Qui-Gon.

He wondered if the Council could tell. Yoda had not agreed that Obi-Wan was ready for Knighthood, though he had not disagreed either. Did the ancient, wise, perceptive Master notice how Obi-Wan’s jaw clenched, how his entire being recoiled in shock? Yoda, Master Windu, they sensed he was not ready, despite his clumsy attempt at defending his own skills. He didn’t even remember what he said. And of course they must have noticed—

He sat on the couch. It had been a long day. A long and unexpected mission, and it wasn’t over. He needed to sleep, while he could.

Cold, recycled air gusted down from the vent, and stirred the braid against his shoulder. Instinctively he reached for it, took the plaited strands between his fingers, as he had done for over half of his life.

I take Anakin as my Padawan Learner.

Those were the words he was carrying with him, heavier than the rest. He wished Qui-Gon had told him beforehand. He was not angry. Just caught off guard. A few strained minutes in the Council Chamber could not undo their years together. He made another undignified noise, cleared his throat, coughed.

There is little more he can learn from me.

Obi-Wan coughed again, and unbuckled his boots. He should have been meditating. Qui-Gon would expect him to be meditating, specifically to reflect on his…disrespect. His jaw tightened. He tucked his legs into the simplest pose, tentatively placing his hands on his knees. He calmed his breathing, reaching for the Force and its peaceful indifference. He could submerge himself in that grace, feel it fill his veins and replace his hurt, rooted as it was in attachment….disrespect...

Sharing his misgivings with his teacher was disrespectful.

Announcing your intent to train another student with your current student standing beside you, apparently, was not disrespectful.

He opened his eyes, defeated.

Qui-Gon was right. He still had much to learn. What more he could learn from Qui-Gon’s specific ideologies was a question that sat uneasily in the bottom of his stomach. From the earliest years of his apprenticeship, Obi-Wan defended his Master from criticism. Stood beside him, steadfast, when Qui-Gon openly questioned the Council. For years, this had been Obi-Wan’s unique role. And he stood beside him when Qui-Gon placed his hands on Anakin’s small shoulders, and said….

But there was no use in dwelling on the past, even if that past was quite recent, even if he still wore the same clothes he had sweated through in the Council session. He pulled at the neck of his tunic, decided he was too tired to change, and slumped over on the couch.

------

He woke with his limbs clutched up to his body, still turned on his side, facing the wall. He listened to Qui-Gon enter the room, footsteps careful and quiet. Obi-Wan thought only a little time had passed since he fell asleep, based on the turgid slowness of his mind, and how his eyes stung when he tried to open them.

He had never been very good at feigning sleep with Qui-Gon. Perhaps because it always felt wrong to lie to the man, or hide from him. So Obi-Wan remained as he was, huddled on the couch. Qui-Gon was moving carefully around the room, taking off boots, going to the fresher and coming back out. The air recycler kicked on, which relieved the silence but chilled Obi-Wan, who in his exhaustion had fallen asleep on top of the blankets. He heard footsteps come closer, and then a heavy quilt was smoothed over him.

New weight settled on the edge of his sleep couch. It was the closest he had been to Qui-Gon in days, and the ache in his chest bloomed again, sharper, deeper. He was angry, and sad, and his heart was going to beat so hard it would crack him in two.

“Is there room for me?” Qui-Gon asked softly. He didn’t sound at all like the person who sent Obi-Wan away in that clipped tone on the landing pad. If anything, he seemed hesitant.

For Obi-Wan, there was no other answer. “Of course,” he murmured, and scooted over, turning so his back pressed against the wall.

Qui-Gon paused, then reclined on the couch. He was a big man, and it was a narrow space. Qui-Gon shifted and repositioned a few times before landing on his side, head propped up in his hand. In the dim light, his face was reduced to its strongest features, and Obi-Wan studied the nose, the beard, before finally and guardedly landing on his eyes.

Looking at Qui-Gon now, after what had been said, hurt nearly as much as the scene in the Council Chambers. A lump formed in his throat.

Qui-Gon reached out and placed his thumb in the cleft of Obi-Wan’s chin. “I have been cruel.”

“No,” Obi-Wan shook his head, “Master, I understand—“

“You only understand because I’ve been cruel and thoughtless before.” Qui-Gon whispered. His eyes were midnight blue, and shone nearly black in the darkness, mournful. “You understand, but it is still wrong.” Qui-Gon was studying him, cradling Obi-Wan’s chin in long, broad fingers.

They did not touch very often, beyond a quick squeeze of the shoulder or clap on the back. It was for the best, and Obi-Wan knew that, too. He knew Qui-Gon had not meant to hurt him, he knew what was proper, he knew better than the way he was behaving. But he leaned into the hand, which was warm and textured by old scars and hardship, and closed his eyes tightly.

“Obi-Wan…”

He coughed twice. Blast it, he was frustrated. He did not do this. He would be undergoing his trials soon, probably at the end of this miserable, strange mission. His throat felt thick, and his voice came out in a rasp, “I’m alright.”

Qui-Gon did not move, not even his hand, maintaining that physical connection that was both comforting and debilitating. In the Force, he was open, a viridescent energy as familiar to Obi-Wan as his own. He and Qui-Gon had spent so much of the Naboo assignment apart, or at odds, or not speaking.

Their partnership could be contentious, but never like this.

Obi-Wan was angry, yes, but more than that, he was afraid, terrified, that he was losing Qui-Gon to a cause Obi-Wan did not support. What would the future be like, now that Anakin Skywalker had upturned their lives? He pressed his lips together tightly, taking several centering breaths, willing himself into composure. “But I wonder...Master...is there room for me?”

His words felt pathetic, even as he said them. Obi-Wan was glad for the darkness, because maybe Qui-Gon would not see the flush that undoubtedly burned his cheeks. Blast it blast it blast it.

Qui-Gon surprised Obi-Wan by kissing his forehead, fingers sliding through short, sleep-flattened hair. “Always, ” he smiled, “and you don’t take up much room.”

It was rather a wonder Qui-Gon could fit on the sleep couch, his body nearly hanging over the edge. If Obi-Wan were a larger man, it wouldn’t have worked. He could feel the calm warmth of his Master, who despite everything was not brooding, though he had just been chastised by the Council. Again.

And engaged in battle with a dangerously skilled Sith.

And was returning to Naboo, where the only certainty seemed to be bloodshed.

Obi-Wan shivered beneath the quilt. The image of Qui-Gon locking blades with the dark warrior hovered over everything. His rational self wanted to deny the Zabrak was a Sith. How could it be? The Sith were extinct, snuffed out long before Master Yoda’s time, the stuff of Temple fables and crèche nightmares. But Qui-Gon would not even utter the title if it were not a true possibility.

The Sith and the Chosen One, materializing on the same day, from the ether of impossibility.

He shivered again, as Qui-Gon stroked his hair. He felt numb, like he should be more surprised by the revelations. Instead, Obi-Wan was focusing on his own heartache. Some Knight he would be. Some match for the Sith, if they crossed paths.

“On Tatooine, I thought…” he looked away, embarrassed by the depth of his emotion.

“I know,” Qui-Gon answered, and brushed his lips, the coarse hair of his mustache, across Obi-Wan’s brow. “But here I am. Obi-Wan...it has been a confusing time.”

Obi-Wan could not stop shaking, though not from the chill, or the Council meeting, or the hateful glare of the Sith that still burned within his mind. He laid his hand over Qui-Gon’s, where it rested on the side of Obi-Wan’s face.

“Qui-Gon,” He said, the syllables feeling foreign on his tongue, so rarely was Obi-Wan the one to speak them. It was always ‘Master’.

Qui-Gon pulled back slightly. To his relief, Obi-Wan saw fondness in the older man’s eyes, though it seemed at war with some inner conflict. “Obi-Wan…”

He was reminded of other nights, other rooms.

“You are my Padawan.”

“But I cannot deny—“

“I must.”

His heart felt too light, and was beating too fast, a tremulous thing unable to endure the reemergence of monsters. The Sith. His own problems with attachment, abandonment, and the devouring need that he struggled to control, that was against the Code to even name. He could be stronger than this. He knew he could. He could be an island within the Force, solitary, peaceful…

Except there was no island within Obi-Wan where Qui-Gon’s footprints would not eventually appear on the shore. He thought of calm water. Calm.

He could be stronger than this.

Obi-Wan cleared his throat. “I’m...I’m sorry. It isn’t my place to disagree with you about the boy. And it was wrong of me to discuss it with Anakin present. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Qui-Gon patiently studied Obi-Wan’s face. He was close enough for Obi-Wan to feel the warmth of his body, the reassurance of his breath. “I talked to him. He’s a perceptive boy, but still just a boy. Resilient. And easily distracted. Specifically by Padme.” The Master chuckled. “I think if you talked to him, you would come to a similar conclusion.”

The words carried a faint, but no less painful, rebuke. Who had Obi-Wan become over the course of this mission? A grown man, jealous of an innocent child—a former slave? He burned down to his guts with the shame. He vowed then to try harder with Anakin. “Forgive me, Master.”

Qui-Gon exhaled softly, and ran his fingers down the length of the Padawan braid. “I think I could forgive you anything, Obi-Wan, though you’ve never given me a reason. I can’t help but wonder if you were meant to be taught by a man like me.”

It was not the first time Qui-Gon had expressed such thoughts. And Obi-Wan could not deny that in his younger years he wondered if they were suited for each other at all. He remembered the way Master Windu looked at him during especially tense arguments between Qui-Gon and the Council—and even tonight, those dark eyes found his amid the conversation about Anakin, seemed to reflect something too close to regret...or pity. Obi-Wan touched Qui-Gon’s arm, as if to reject that misplaced condolence, to reaffirm, especially to himself, his dedication to Qui-Gon Jinn. He gathered a careful breath. “I would be a far lesser man without your tutelage, Master. I have not acted correctly.”

Qui-Gon smiled, but none of the mirth reached his eyes. “Is there a correct way to act when one has been rejected by their Master in front of the entire High Council?”

Obi-Wan didn’t know what to say to that. The hurt lay at the very surface, a wound so new that a slight stir of air stung. He wanted Qui-Gon to leave nearly as much as he wanted him to stay. “I know it wasn’t personal,” he whispered finally.

“But it was.” Qui-Gon countered. “ How could it not be? How could things not be...personal...between us?”

Obi-Wan’s stomach clenched on ‘us’. He was suddenly very aware of how close Qui-Gon was, felt the ghost of the kiss given to him only minutes before. Perhaps that was why the Order ruled so harshly in matters of attachment. But he could not bring himself to regret those small moments, nor could he cease the longing inside him. “I know you only did what you felt was necessary. And even if it was personal, I forgive you.” Obi-Wan felt the pain shift and lessen inside him. Forgiving Qui-Gon was natural. A relief. He was still hurt by the Council session, but he would stop reeling from it, and the forgiveness could come in pieces, over time. Holding on to jealousy and anger was against the Code. He did try to follow the Code, when he wasn’t being entirely foolish. Obi-Wan traced his fingers along Qui-Gon’s bearded jaw, perhaps testing the man’s contrition, or just because he felt emboldened to touch him. “I suppose I will not be your Padawan much longer.”

Qui-Gon caught the fingers. His eyes gleamed fiercely. “Your Knighthood was earned long before today. You are more than ready.”

Obi-Wan knew what he meant, but another implication stirred in the place he kept certain feelings and instincts. He swallowed with a click, Qui-Gon’s hand so large and coarse around his own. He met his Master’s gaze and whispered, “I am ready.”

It was wrong. Everything he had been raised to believe screamed against it. But reality seemed upside down since they first arrived on Naboo. He had been scrabbling for purchase and this was a solid foothold. If nothing could be the same now, why could he not ask for what he wanted?

Qui-Gon seemed to understand, as his hand moved to graze Obi-Wan’s waist. These were the brief caresses confined to private moments. And they were just touches, soft brushes against a flank or bicep. It was only when Obi-Wan had too much to drink and leaned into Qui-Gon in their room on Chandrila that the kissing began. Obi-Wan could not explain what led him to such a flagrant act of rebellion—except that he was trained by a master rule-breaker. He had been surprised by his own daring, more surprised that Qui-Gon met his mouth in return. Since that night, they had kissed a handful of times, quiet moments in shared quarters, brief interludes in private spaces, never discussing it afterwards. Until Qui-Gon suddenly broke away one evening, and held Obi-Wan back gently by his arms.

“You are my Padawan.”

“But I cannot deny—-“

“I must.”

“Perhaps I am not ready,” Qui-Gon answered, wide palm settling on Obi-Wan’s hip bone. “Who could be ready for you?”

His face burned; his hip burned where Qui-Gon touched him. Obi-Wan had been hurt by the abrupt end to their little shared intimacy, not realizing until now, with Qui-Gon’s hand on his hip, that what he saw as something pure and comforting had scared his Master. Because Qui-Gon was more experienced, and knew better than Obi-Wan that their infrequent embraces and kisses would escalate.

Complicate.

Obi-Wan saw the change in Qui-Gon’s gaze now, the same quiet smolder. He would be denied again. Here he was, bringing another complication into an already complicated, tense mission. “You,” he murmured, despite himself. He had the sensation of being outside his body, saying things that he should not be saying. He was the obedient student. An example for younger Jedi. When Qui-Gon told him they must stop, he had stopped, without another protest.

Now he was not stopping.

“If I am not your Padawan…” he trailed off, and rested his hand over Qui-Gon’s, on his hip.

Qui-Gon smiled. “Will you not always be my Padawan, as I will always be your Master?”

“We could be...other things, couldn’t we? Are we not always changing?” Obi-Wan knew this truth intimately; for years he had seen Qui-Gon as a teacher, friend and his closest family, if never quite father. When Obi-Wan grew older, he noticed with deep and private dismay that his body began to react differently to the sight of Qui-Gon. He spent countless hours in meditation, searching for the root of his inappropriate feelings. At first he was able to dismiss them as fleeting, pubescent fantasies—they spent so much of their lives together, and Qui-Gon Jinn was a handsome man he already loved.

But then years passed, and those feelings, rather than dissipating, continued to evolve.

Qui-Gon chuckled quietly. “In some ways, you have never changed. You’re as stubborn now as you ever were.” His fingertip lingered over Obi-Wan’s bottom lip. “In other ways, you are different. Stronger and wiser. So kind. I look at you now and you take my breath away.”

Obi-Wan tried to control his breathing, as the meaning of Qui-Gon’s words seeped into his overtaxed mind. Only hours before, he was merely competent, and left the Council Chambers feeling like a great crater had divided him from Qui-Gon. How could he reconcile that with this moment, this sudden closeness?

He closed his eyes, gathering the Force around him, letting his thoughts scatter like so much debris in a breeze, and leaned forward, as he had done in that room on Chandrila, and pressed his mouth against Qui-Gon’s.

Qui-Gon made a noise in the back of his throat, a noise of pleasure, and the sound vibrated along Obi-Wan’s teeth. Broad hands grasped his face; he felt the man’s surprise, urgency and then...then, his arousal. Those past nights of kissing had seemed almost platonic, on Qui-Gon’s end, at least. The older Jedi was controlled, his touches calm, lacking the desperate fervor of a lover. Now Qui-Gon surged into the kiss, his long body arching on the narrow bed, and his hands moving from Obi-Wan’s face to his waist.

Each point of contact sent shivers along his skin, deepened the ache that moved lower, lower. Qui-Gon Jinn was a powerful man, Obi-Wan knew that, but he seemed overwhelmingly so with his hands, his mouth, his aura everywhere.

Qui-Gon broke off the kiss long enough to dash the hair out of his eyes.

Obi-Wan smiled. His throat felt thick when he looked into the eyes. He knew these eyes like a clear sky or cool ocean. “I’ve..” his voice sounded ridiculous, a little scrape in the faux-nocturnal silence of the starship, “I’ve wanted this—“

He was kissed. Qui-Gon tasted faintly like tea, like the spicy mints the Naboo favored. But he smelled of sandalwood and sweat and the skin-scent unique to Qui-Gon. “I’ve wanted it too,” breathed, “Force help me…”

Obi-Wan went very still at his center. He needed to memorize the words, the voice, soak in it. Live in the moment. Perhaps he had never understood that mantra until now. The future, even the very immediate future, was clouded, and his foreboding about this mission had only grown stronger since the Tatooine detour. Yet somehow, his heart was light. Qui-Gon wanted him. The idea of it was bewildering, could carry him through whatever waited for them on Naboo.

He ran his hand down Qui-Gon’s arm, slowly, allowing himself the time to feel and appreciate firm muscle.

Qui-Gon mirrored his movements, caressing Obi-Wan’s skin, with his hands and then with his lips. He kissed Obi-Wan through his tunics, from his shoulder to his neck and jaw, his beard as rough as his mouth was soft, a contradiction of sensation that Obi-Wan could barely endure.

“It was never my intention to slight you. You are always…” Qui-Gon paused, pulling back, and touching Obi-Wan’s cheek. He was a man rarely given to melancholic reflection, “I care about you very much...more than the Council would appreciate.”

“Certainly they wouldn’t notice after today’s events,” Obi-Wan said, because he couldn’t help but say it. There was no rancor in his voice. He simply spoke the truth, and felt more of the heaviness lift away. ‘Very much’.

Qui-Gon didn’t find the levity in his comment. Instead, his eyes flashed with pain and shame, just as they had in the chambers. “From the look Master Windu gave me, I’m surprised I wasn’t expelled on the spot. And I would have deserved it.”

“Nonsense,” Obi-Wan insisted, “You deserve…” everything “...if Anakin Skywalker truly is the Chosen One, you deserve to train him. I can think of no one better suited, Master.”

“Anakin is important, but I would not have made such a callous declaration if the Council had left me any other choice. I thought after your Knighting that I would be finished with training apprentices.”

Obi-Wan snorted a little. “I was so terrible as to inspire your retirement?”

“Quite the opposite,” Qui-Gon said, “I feared I could never train another without comparing them to you. I worried I would find a perfectly good student lacking, because they weren’t you. I know I have withheld things from you, but it’s...it isn’t because I didn’t believe you worthy of praise, Obi-Wan.

“I was afraid of you.”

Obi-Wan gazed up at the man, huge and graceful, wild and refined, the sort of Jedi any youngling aspired to be, and was stricken speechless. He was a capable student, yes, and that is how he had just been described to the Council. Awarded his share of accolades within the Temple and without. Qui-Gon had never given any indication he would stop teaching. And had never, never seemed afraid of anything, let alone Obi-Wan. His mouth moved, but no response would form. He could hear the air recycler hum; distantly he thought of how many life forms slept on the ship, while in this little cabin Obi-Wan’s entire universe was twisting and expanding.

“I feared how deeply you had taken root in my heart.” Qui-Gon let Obi-Wan join their hands, and Obi-Wan was surprised by the cold sweat he felt on the rough skin. Their fingers curled around each other. “I still fear it. That was why I couldn’t bear for us to continue...what we were doing, on Chandrila and after. I have felt this before, and nearly left the Order for it. I cannot risk your future—“

“My life is my own. And how often have you told me not to focus on what could happen?” Obi-Wan pointed out. He flashed a cheeky grin; though a modest man by nature, he still knew how to put his charms to use. Qui-Gon had once remarked that Obi-Wan’s wit, coupled with a smile, could persuade a Hutt to fast. How he treasured comments like that, precious in their scarceness, words he repeated in dark or lonely times. Those were his possessions, he realized. In a way, Obi-Wan hoarded his Master’s compliments, like a Tatooine junker hoarded scrap. Surely no one else cared that Qui-Gon liked Obi-Wan’s smile.

But Obi-Wan cared. ‘Very much.’

“What happened to my diehard Code follower?” Qui-Gon wondered.

“I learned that absolutes are fine, in theory. And most rules exist for a reason.”

“I see. So some rules are…”

“Debatable, in value.” Obi-Wan gently grasped the back of Qui-Gon’s neck and drew him into a kiss. Qui-Gon was warm, always warm, the kind of man who sweated through sheets in a cold room and his smiles were warm and his mouth was warm, Obi-Wan wanted him closer, to forget those hours when he had felt the chill of abandonment. He didn’t want to feel like that ever...ever…He sensed concern, faintly, at the edges of his awareness in the Force. He held onto it, like he held onto Qui-Gon’s collar and neck. He could hold onto these things and let go, this time let go of those words Qui-Gon said to the Council, and on the landing platform, release the pain of being in the way.

“I’m sorry,” Qui-Gon murmured against his temple, a hot stir of breath, and kissed him there, in the forgiving darkness, where they were reduced to their breaths, their bodies.

For the first time in his life, Obi-Wan found it was easier without the light. Qui-Gon kissed him deeply, pinning him against the sleepcouch. He had slept beside his Master before, huddled against him out of necessity or comfort, but now the solidness of the man felt entirely different, the muscled weight pressing down on him.

Obi-Wan pulled back for air, but long, callused fingers caught his chin, stroked his jaw as he was kissed again. Qui-Gon’s hands slid under Obi-Wan’s tunics, paused.

“Obi-Wan, is this—“

He heard the hesitation. His heart was pounding. He loved Qui-Gon. He was afraid of what would happen on Naboo, with the looming Sith. And after. If they survived. He loved him, the love was a part of him like his bones and blood were a part of him. He loved him. “Yes,” He whispered, and guided Qui-Gon’s hand down to his cock.

Even through the layers of clothing, the touch was almost unbearable. Obi-Wan was already rigid, wanting. “‘s good.” He hissed, “Ah…”

Qui-Gon laughed against Obi-Wan’s temple. “Good?”

He managed to find his Master’s eyes among the shadows as he replied, “Very much.”

----

In the Council room, Obi-Wan had felt deserted. He was numb, and abruptly empty, and did not recognize the man who stood beside him.

In the dark room on the starship, Obi-Wan felt everything, spread his legs and looked up expectantly at the man who kneeled over him.

---

He had never considered what it would feel like to be taken. He was a quiet person, but he could not help the cry that came from him as he was filled. His whole body tensed against the hot pressure. His hands grasped at the sheets, knees against his chest, and when pain succumbed to pleasure, the heat melted down his spine, and all he could think, with relief, was finally, very much, at last---

Yes yes yes.

Qui-Gon bent forward, his long hair brushing Obi-Wan’s chest, claimed his lips in a long kiss.

Obi-Wan sensed the willpower it was taking for Qui-Gon to remain still, to give Obi-Wan the chance to adjust.

He closed his eyes, and saw the Coruscanti skyline at nightfall as it had been when Qui-Gon announced his intentions to train the boy. He allowed himself to feel that onslaught of resentment and sorrow, just for another moment. He had been hurt. Qui-Gon had hurt him. But it did not define him, or them. He was not being left behind. Qui-Gon was within him now.

Wanted him, in the center of stillness and acceptance, in a place where no one else had ever been.

The skyline faded.

He opened his eyes, and saw the dark room, heard both their breaths, the occasional, quiet moan.

Obi-Wan could have stayed there just as he was, back flat on the bed, sweat slicking the skin where their hips connected and Qui-Gon stretching him. He was not given to flights of fantasy. He was a realist, committed to codes and tradition. Yet here he was, glimpsing Qui-Gon’s navy-bright eyes, and thinking:

We fit together. We always have.

And Qui-Gon’s cock, fully sheathed now, was too much. So much. So big, his Master was more than he could ever take, in body or soul—

Qui-Gon kissed him again, ran hands along his hips, and gave a small, testing thrust. The man grunted softly.

They had to be quiet. All the people outside—

Another thrust, and the hard thickness brushed something that made Obi-Wan keen between gritted teeth.

Qui-Gon covered the sound with his mouth, starting a slow rhythm now, in and out. His elbows rested on either side of Obi-Wan’s head, and Obi-Wan wrapped his legs around Qui-Gon, becoming more desperate for the friction and fullness.

“Good?” Qui-Gon murmured, and he sounded labored, and Obi-Wan’s cock needed. A rough chuckle, and fingers traced along the leaking, sensitive crown.

Obi-Wan gasped, jerking. He was only accustomed to his own, very infrequent touches. He bucked against the caresses moving from tip to shaft, and when Qui-Gon grasped each of his tight balls, Obi-Wan felt the rush of incipient orgasm. Ohh... He would come he would come he would—

“Patience.” Qui-Gon said, removing his hands and slipping completely out of Obi-Wan’s body.

Obi-Wan flushed. To be admonished now, under these circumstances...except this might be the only time they had each other like this, something his Master no doubt realized. He wanted it to last as long as possible. Patience. He could be patient, even when his blood pounded and he was consumed by new sensation. “Yes, Master,” He responded, in a deliberately obedient tone, the same tone he used when deferring to his teacher’s commands.

He watched Qui-Gon’s eyes flash, and he knew his tease had struck just where he wanted, because Qui-Gon sat up and hauled Obi-Wan onto his lap. Big hands stroked up and down Obi-Wan’s back, his hips, gripped the outside of his thighs.

Obi-Wan placed his palms against the naked, broad chest. His fingers raked over coarse patches of hair. He had never grown much hair there himself. He always noticed the differences between their bodies, of course, but now those contrasts took on a curious excitement. They rarely spent time apart, knew each other’s every minutiae, but there were still parts unexplored.

Qui-Gon kissed his forehead, hands cradling Obi-Wan’s cheeks. For a few moments, they simply stayed as they were, hard cocks brushing together, breathless little shocks, skin and sweat and hands and mouths.

Lips grazed his ear: “Could you ride me like this?”

He heard hesitance, despite how far they already gone, Obi-Wan’s body already breached for the first time. It was an unusual emotion to sense from his self-assured, impulsive Master. Qui-Gon laid a warm hand on his back and kissed his ear and then down to his cheek, his jaw.

“Y-Yes,” Obi-Wan said, undulating his hips.

For years, he had assumed he would not do any of this. He would be chaste, a Proper Jedi. He fought the evolution of his desires, meditated for hours on the inappropriate feelings he harbored. Sometimes he felt too ashamed to meet his Master’s eye—they were so close, would the man not sense his burgeoning attraction? All Obi-Wan had ever wanted was to be a Jedi Knight. He did not want the embarrassing, often overwhelming, feelings that woke him in the night, that ultimately caused him to kiss Qui-Gon on Chandrila.

And then, Qui-Gon had kissed him back.

Despite himself, it was what Obi-Wan really, truly wanted.

“I cannot deny—“

He was lost after that first reciprocation. Now he was sure he would never be found, because he knew what it was to sit on Qui-Gon’s cock, so full his eyes would have crossed if they weren’t rolling to the back of his head. He clutched at Qui-Gon’s forearms while he ground down onto the hot length, and Qui-Gon’s cock was hitting his sweet, helpless spot, the ohhhhhh, the switch that turned off all Obi-Wan’s thoughts save for more harder deeper there there yes harder yes.

Qui-Gon wound the Learner’s braid around his fingers, so every thrust pulled on Obi-Wan’s scalp. He liked the small pains. He wanted to moan and move, but he could not imagine the humiliation—or consequences—if they were overheard.

So he bit his lip while Qui-Gon pushed into him, bit down deeper as a hand cupped and squeezed his ass and Qui-Gon dropped his head against Obi-Wan’s shoulder.

It went on that way, half-embraces and frantic momentum, ever-building, all of it in darkness, in near silence.

Obi-Wan knew he would not last much longer. Qui-Gon laid him on his back and spread his legs, and Obi-Wan’s hips felt loose, every bit of tension gone. His body took the cock in a single, slick move, natural, he was just a place for Qui-Gon’s cock now, natural and right—

Qui-Gon kissed his chapped lips. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I…” His fingers brushed the head of Obi-Wan’s cock right as he pushed in and Obi-Wan buried his face in Qui-Gon’s sweaty neck, his long, shocked cry of climax quieted by the warm skin. He clutched onto Qui-Gon as his muscles clutched the cock still inside him. Only a few more thrusts and Qui-Gon gasped, hand returning to Obi-Wan’s braid as he came.

——

They washed up in the fresher, taking turns at the sink. Obi-Wan could feel a soreness inside, without the adrenaline of desire to distract him anymore. He glimpsed Qui-Gon, finally seeing him, in the fresher’s artificial light.

Qui-Gon met his eyes and passed him a towel. He supposed things between them would return to duty, the mission, the Sith’s dire threat.

And the boy.

He was still here, somewhere on the ship, a living and breathing reality.

Qui-Gon smiled slightly at Obi-Wan. Sweat gleamed on his temple. His hair was mussed and a pale, red scratch was appearing on his right bicep.

Obi-Wan flushed and turned away.

——-

His sleepcouch was not fit for sleep after their coupling; Qui-Gon beckoned him to the other couch, where he was already curled, bare body covered at his waist by a blanket.

Obi-Wan cleared his throat before slipping in beside Qui-Gon and turning on his side, looking at the rest of the room. A brief pause, and then Qui-Gon squeezed his arm. “Best sleep now,” He whispered, “Tomorrow won’t be easy.”

“Yes, Master,” Obi-Wan said instinctively. He heard the older man’s breathing slow, his Force presence calmed by unconsciousness.

It took longer for Obi-Wan to succumb to his exhaustion. His mind returned to the Council chamber, yellow eyes, “I’m sorry”.

He could not help but wonder if Qui-Gon was apologizing for today, or for things that were yet to be.

Obi-Wan shifted closer to the warmth of the man who had taught him. The eventful day flickered through his thoughts, ending on the searing kisses and touches. His hips flexed under the blankets. He felt a lazy heat pool in his loins, but he was able to meditate, and from there drifted to sleep. He dreamed of Naboo, a world full of trees.

——-