He probed the site. Yes. It was stronger - a braid instead of a thread. He touched Obi-Wan's mind and was overwhelmed by all the emotions there, emotions a Jedi should control but Obi-Wan wasn't controlling them. There was fear and anger, and guilt and pain, but above all there was love, and that love was not only directed at him but it echoed his own. Obi-Wan did love him, and in the way Qui-Gon had tried to make himself not desire.
"Master, all the time I thought you were...you were dead, I kept thinking about you. I left Apina's bed because it was wrong, because while I loved her, it was not the way I should have. And you were gone and I couldn't tell you this, tell you that I'd been lying to myself all these years. You were gone, and I was alone and I'd would always be alone." He swallowed and made himself sit upright.
"I'm sorry, Master. Forgive me. This is unseemly, unbefitting a Jedi."
Somehow, Qui-Gon found the strength to reach out his hand to touch the other man's face. "It is only the truth of how you feel. It is far more seemly than the council's outright lies."
Obi-Wan touched the hand on his face gently and then began to stroke it. "Even this small touch feels so right...We will confront the council. Tell them they are wrong." He continued to stroke his Master's hand. "If only you were well, I would show you just how much I love you." He smiled. "I can't seem to concentrate on anything else. I'm sorry."
"No more apologies. I will strive to become well now, so that you may show me." Qui-Gon smiled. "Already I feel stronger." He blinked. "I cannot do this. You are weak from lack of sleep. I cannot take your strength."
"You can take anything. My love. All I am is yours." He tightened his grip. Qui-Gon could not take it away. "But you are tired. And you must sleep. I will come here again." Hesitantly, he bent. Qui-Gon felt Obi-Wan's lips lightly brush his face. "Get well, my love."
Obi-Wan left the room. Qui-Gon felt himself begin to drift off to sleep naturally for the first time in days. As he did, he felt a soothing presence enter, and gentle hands brush his forehead. The last thing he heard before he drifted off was Aribl's rich voice telling him to have sweet dreams.
"Hey! Padawan Kenobi! The Council is -!"
The shouted warning of the Jedi Knight stationed at the main door of the Council Chamber was oddly neutral in its inflection, despite the irregularity of the interruption.
With his robes flowing, the air around him crackling with barely suppressed energy, the angry young man threw a glance over his shoulder and replied flatly even as he pushed open the big door."I am no longer a Padawan," He told the Jedi, whose name he did not at this moment recall. Inside the door, every eye turned upon him, a circle of Knights and masters in the center making their reports and the Council itself staring, and he finished the sentiment loudly enough to be heard by all."And I am no longer subject to your every whim!"
Striding to the center of the Chamber, head held high, anger firmly in check, he scarcely noticed the way the others fell away before him, making way.
"You have not been summoned." Eeth Koth, who had been directing the questioning of those present, spoke mildly, but there was no doubting his displeasure, or that of the others. Mace Windu's face was set in a forbidding dark mask.
Qui-Gon had always told Obi-Wan that he, and they, had an ally in the slum-born master, who had become a Jedi by the barest of margins.
There was nothing of encouragement on his face at this moment.
Taking a deep breath, Obi-Wan forced his voice to remain even and his heart to beat steadily.
"I have been lied to, Master Koth. I have been hurt and left to suffer. Would you have me make an appointment to discuss this?"
"Found him, you have." Master Yoda thumped his cane once, and the sound was dismal. "Foresee this I did not."
"You are a knight now, Obi-Wan Kenobi." Windu spoke slowly, every word meant to lend weight to the next, making it clear that that title, which Obi-Wan had worked for so long and hard, might be at risk if he continued. "Your one-time Master is no longer your concern."
"Go back to the Dark Side!" The words were snapped with utter contempt, and not even the Jedi Council members could quell a visceral response to this childhood taunt. Windu flung his head up, nostrils flaring, clearly fighting the urge to respond in kind.
"I was misled and left to suffer, and why? My Master suffers, and *why*?!" Unable to prevent the rise of his voice, Obi-Wan cut himself off and took a deep breath, staring at the floor momentarily.
In the silence of the Chamber, a room that oozed power, he heard the faint whisperings of cloth and boots as the others made their way toward the door, to escape this shameful scene.
"Young, are you." Yoda's frustration filled the air, as powerful as anything else in the room. "To know, you did not need."
Following the dictates of the Force without thought, Obi-Wan dropped to his knees where he stood.
His voice quavered with suppressed emotion and closely-help pain.
The silence swelled.
With his hands limp at his sides, his head bowed, completely submissive, Obi-Wan reached for the new bond, and opened it wide.
Someone - he couldn't quite tell who, but it sounded like Master Depa Billaba, the most recently joined Council member - gasped softly, and Obi-Wan let her feel the bond, which grew in strength as each moment passed, feel the love and trust that composed it.
And the pain that had so nearly strangled it.
"We did not know, Kenobi." Adi Gallia sought to comfort him. "There was no sign of a bond."
"The young healer said something." Windu steepled his fingers in front of his face, unhappiness deepening.
"Broken, the bond was," Yoda snapped. "Exist then, this bond did not."
"Because I denied it once, a long time ago."
Obi-Wan's whisper was loud, echoing sibilantly off the plasteel and tile."I was young, and foolish, and I denied my heart."
"And your Master kept his own counsel, as is his habit." Sounding irritated, as he often did when Qui-Gon was the topic, Mace left the sentence hanging in the air.
"What was he supposed to do, inform us?" Not recognizing the wavering voice, Obi-Wan tilted his head just enough to get a glimpse of whoever spoke so disrespectfully to Master Windu.
With his extended neck crooked, Master Yarael of Quermia seemed to be scolding Windu, but Obi-Wan did not dare risk looking to see the other Master's response.
"I have no doubt that he approached his Padawan as the Code dictates, and that he accepted the rejection honorably."
"Accept, he did. Too well." Again Yoda sounded exasperated, but fondly so. "So well he hid it, see it we did not. Separate them, we would not have."
Shifting on his knees, Obi-Wan felt a sudden restlessness seep through him. The source was murky and he did not want to be rude to the Council by going deeper into himself to search for it, though it nagged at him...
"They *are* bonded." Billaba spoke up firmly. "The separation cannot be continued."
"Our plans for Master Jinn cannot be delayed," the military strategist Oppo Rancisis objected. "This opportunity will not present itself again."
The restless feeling intensified and Obi-Wan found himself half-rising, unaware of the action until it was almost completed, casting out with his mind for the source, which suddenly seemed urgent.
"A battle cannot be won by a dead soldier," the one-eyed Even Piell argued, but Obi-Wan barely heard the words. The wide-open bond was shrinking, contractng, fading from his grasp, and he lurched to his feet, reaching for it with desperation, his body mimicking his mind, knowing that his mate was in danger, that he was weakening...
"Master!" He shouted, startling the Council members.
"Kenobi, restrain yourself!" Windu snapped, and would have continued, but was interrupted as the door to the Council Chamber was unceremoniously shoved open for a second time, and the Healer Aribl stumbled in, looking drawn and pale, hair clammy with sweat.
"Qui-Gon Jinn is dying!"
Windu looked stricken. "Are you positive, Healer Aribl?"
"Of course I am. I am a Healer and an Empath. Look at Obi-Wan - he seeks to be with his mate."
Obi-Wan could hear nothing after the word "dying." Unable to leave, he collapsed on the floor. He felt Aribl's arms around him. "Soon, Obi-Wan, soon."
"We need him alive."Windu's voice was almost pleading.
"After you kill by keeping his bondmate away?" The remaining council members gasped at the nurse's audacity. "I can help them. I can help them both. But it must be now. And I need your help." He lowered his voice. "Obi-Wan, I will need you most of all."
Obi-Wan nodded and tried to stand, but his legs would not hold him. "I'm sorry, Aribl..."
"It's all right, Obi-Wan." Somehow that gentle hand calmed him again. Then Aribl turned to the council again. "Master Windu..."
Next thing Obi-Wan knew, he was lifted in a pair of strong arms, with no more effort than if he'd been a child in truth. He struggled briefly, but another touch from Aribl allowed him to subside. "Where shall I take him, young healer?"
"We must go to Master Jinn's room *now*." Aribl paused briefly. "I have summoned my own bondmate. He will wait for us there."
It didn't take long for them to reach the Temple and then Qui-Gon's room. Obi-Wan recalled almost nothing of the trip. All of his thoughts revolved around his Master and the bond between them. Once they arrived, he felt another pair of strong arms take him and settle him on the bed.
Qui-Gon lay beside him, his eyes closed and his face pale. When Obi-Wan tried to reach him in his mind, all he felt was pain and weakness and a sense he could only call "leave-taking." "Qui-Gon, no! Not when I just found you!" He barely realized he'd spoken the words aloud. Lacking the strength to do more, he rolled to his side and held his Master's arm to his body.
He heard Aribl only dimly. "Master Windu, you may remain here, but you must not interfere with anything we do. This is Master Jinn's only chance."
"I do not understand, young healer, but please, do what you must to save Qui-Gon. I will remain." There was a note in Master Windu's voice that Obi-Wan had never heard before, but he could not think about it now.
Then Aribl was touching him again. "This is good, Obi-Wan. I want you to open yourself as much as you can to Master Jinn and also open yourself to the Force." Concentrating, Obi-Wan did as he was asked. He was aware of the fifth man in the room, who had to be Je-Sma, Aribl's bondmate, doing the same.
Aribl's physical touch disappeared. Obi-Wan felt something immensely powerful and yet somehow gentle contact him. It asked him to draw power and channel it through his bond to Qui-Gon. This he did and gladly, keeping none for himself. The draw became more and more powerful and he was hard put to keep up...and then for a moment it faltered.
For that moment, Obi-Wan despaired. Then a new mind joined them - one strong but familiar. There was more power now. He could feel it being used, he could now sense Aribl's efforts to take care of both the body and the soul of his patient.
And then he felt it change - all the pain and confusion was suddenly *gone* and Qui-Gon was no longer trying to say good-bye. In fact, he was pouring love and happiness down the bond. And at that moment, he felt a surge of strength and then the power draw stopped abruptly.
Something...somebody...fell to the ground. He opened the eyes he didn't remember closing in time to see Je-Sma scoop an unconscious Aribl up from the floor and cradle him in his arms. Obi-Wan jumped from the bed, as did, to his surprise, Qui-Gon. Je-Sma nodded gratefully and put his bondmate in their places. He sat beside him on the bed and stroked the young man's face, oblivious to all else.
Master Windu looked at the pair on the bed with awe. "He Healed you, Qui-Gon. I have never seen the like. He used the Force and his own energy to bring you back from near-death. I was there, in the circuit. I *felt* him use everything he had. And what little remained when you were Healed he gave to Obi-Wan." His voice was very quiet.
Qui-Gon seemed to be examining himself. "I feel as if I had never been injured. I, too, have never seen anything similar. He is a loss to the Jedi. He would have been the best of knights."
Je-Sma looked up. "No. My bondmate's ability is only to Heal. To use it for anything else would be to destroy it and him." *And me.* All heard those unspoken words.
"Will he recover, Jedi Je-Sma?"
"Yes, Master Jinn. He just needs to rest for a few days. As, I think, do you. You may feel strong and well, but your body needs to adjust to health again."
"You've done this before, young Jedi?"
"*He* has, but never to this degree. I can only help."
"Let us leave these two alone, then. I will find both of you quarters away from prying eyes. We must still preserve your secret, Qui-Gon. And you both must complete your bond. And Master Jinn must rest." He removed his robe and gave it to Qui-Gon, who drew it on over his short gown and used the hood to shadow his face. Shyly, Obi-Wan took his Master's hand as Windu spoke briefly into his communicator.
Windu put his communit away and led them out of the hall to a part of the Temple Obi-Wan had never seen before.
It took some time, which worried Obi-Wan. And there were other urges rising to the surface. He needed to be alone with Qui-Gon. Finally, there was a room door open ahead. A figure scurried away at their approach. Master Windu gestured for them to enter.
The room was beautiful. It was lined with bright draperies and filled with comfortable furniture and art. There was a large meal set up on a table, under a stasis field, and beside it was a huge bed covered in pillows and brocades. There were windows, too, looking onto a starry night sky.
"Thank you, Mace. It is you who are responsible?" Qui-Gon sounded happy.
"Yes. You deserve this. You both do."
"Windows, Master? Is that safe?"
"They are projections, but of our own skies. A First Night deserves stars. Be happy, and may the Force be with your bonding."
He bestowed one last smile and left them alone.
Unable to help himself, Obi-Wan stared at the door as it closed behind the Jedi Master.
Standing very still, Qui-Gon seemed to be drawing into himself, regaining his famed reserve, and the younger man frowned as he looked over his shoulder and noted it.
"I'm sorry, Master, but I admit to being confused. I have always been under the impression that Master Windu does not approve of you."
A low chuckle drew his complete attention from the door and he turned, smoothly, reaching a hand to Qui-Gon, only to have it caught gently, lifted to warm lips and nuzzled.
"Mace was my dearest friend for many years and he has yet to forgive me for choosing my own path. Our friendship perseveres, though not in a form everyone recognizes."
With the softness of his Master's lips moving over his skin as the older man spoke, Obi-Wan just barely registered the words.
"Master..." With an audible swallow he stopped himself and chose another name to use. "Qui..." The single syllable fell so easily from his lips that he marveled he had not said it before. Of course the other man felt this through the wide-open bond and was amused by it. Then Obi-Wan was drawn close to a broad, heavy chest, and held there with all the strength of love.
"It goes well, Obi, as we do. We have no need of titles or endearments."
"No word could say what I'm feeling right now." He agreed, tilting his head back and looking up, seeing that Qui-Gon was literally glowing with the Force that flowed through them both.
He wondered if he looked the same.
"Indeed you do." Both large hands framed his face as the stare was returned. "Together we rival the stars."
The first kiss was sweetness embodied, which slid quickly into aching hunger.
As soon as his Master's heart started beating double-time Obi-Wan pulled away slightly, with a frown that was softened by his swollen mouth, testing the bond as he spoke.
"You should rest. You are only newly healed."
"Rest is *not* at the top of my priority list, Obi." Roughly-but-gently he was manhandled to the big bed, which was dressed with fluffy blankets and linens in several shades of green and blue, softly streaked color and thick comfort.
Once he had Obi-Wan flat on his back he lowered himself over the younger man, on his elbows to prevent squashing him, and they resumed kissing.
After several minutes Obi-Wan was gasping, but enjoying the lightheaded feeling, and the weight of his Master above him, and the hot rod of flesh that was pressing so suggestively into his belly.
"Clothes," He said firmly when they broke to breathe, and Qui-Gon seemed to agree, using both of his hands and the Force to strip himself while Obi-Wan did the same. Then they were naked, their bare skin pressed together, and he moaned helplessly, hands traveling eagerly, wantonly, wanting to touch and feel all of Qui-Gon, thrilled and excited by what he found.
Their cocks pressed together when his Master shifted higher to hold his head for plundering, and he bucked up, wanting more, hands scrabbling over broad, muscular shoulders.
"Obi, Obi, Obi..." Qui-Gon chanted between kisses, breathed into his ear. "Perfect Obi."
"Not," the younger man gasped, struggling to keep up. His Master seemed to have gained a world of experience in the past few days, experience he had never suspected."Not perfect..."
For as long as he had known him, Qui-Gon had been strictly celibate, as far as Obi-Wan knew. When he was younger there had been a few brief discussions on responsibility and the care and keeping of a lover, but he had never known his Master to act on that advice.
"Perfect for me." Pushing himself up, Qui-Gon gazed down at him with an expression that could only be described as sappy. "And that makes you perfect."
"Master..." Sighing, Obi-Wan shelved the argument. "You're going to tire yourself out."
"What do you want?" The question was purred with dark intensity and Obi realized he was being distracted from his worry. "Tell me what you have done, what gives you pleasure." The steady rocking motion of the narrow hips into his made answering almost impossible.
"Ungh..." Thoughts tumbled unregulated and he snatched one at random. "Nothing, Qui. Nothing with another male."
It was the truth but only now, in these circumstances, did he find the will to question this decision he did not remember making.
Had he avoided male lovers because he had not wished to hurt his Master further?
"Because you wanted -" Qui-Gon moaned and reached for him, wrapping strong arms around him using his size and leverage to roll them over until Obi-Wan was on top.
"Because you wanted me to be the first!" He exulted, the truth laid bare in Obi's teeming mind.
"Yes." Realizing it, accepting it, Obi-Wan felt the urge to sing, or scream. Of course! "YES!"
Then reality intruded and he slowed their movements, Qui-Gon allowing him to do so reluctantly, and looked down at his lover, kissing him tenderly, scattering touches over his weathered face. "But not at your expense," He whispered, serious now. "I would not weaken you further."
"The only way you could hurt me at this moment would be to deny me." Closing his eyes briefly to feel that tenderness, Qui-Gon opened his eyes and they shone hot with desire. "I will not hurt you, Obi."
"I know that." With a welcoming smile and saucy wiggle, Obi-Wan pushed himself up to his knees until he straddled his Master. "This will be easier on you."
Sitting carefully, he felt the heat of Qui-Gon's erection press into his crease and shuddered, moving against it.
"This way." His master's hands slipped between them and a single long finger explored that private place. Obi-Wan leaned back, lifting his hips, eager, asking for that intrusion.
"Gently, gently," Qui-Gon murmured, speaking perhaps to himself. With a touch of the Force sheathing it, the first finger slipped into Obi-Wan up to the knuckle and his shivers increased, the sensation delighting and filling a need he hadn't known he had. So careful was his Master that he felt no pain at all, only the depth of their connection echoed inside of him.
And he yearned for more.
"Please..." Panting, he rocked, taking the finger deeper. In answer to the almost-silent plea Qui-Gon used his other hand to stroke and tease the erection that stood out proudly from Obi-Wan's body, begging for that touch.
"Slowly, Obi, slowly." With more care than Obi-Wan perhaps wanted at that moment, the finger was pushed deeper, and he felt his body open to welcome it, to welcome any part of his Master that cared to join him. This led to a second finger and a hot rush of liquid fire to his groin and deep-chested, throaty moans that tore themselves free of his waning control.
Forcing his eyes to open at least halfway, he stared down at his Master, his lover, and the fire blossomed into something more, something too powerful to be contained. It made him ache deep inside, a pain that did not hurt. It only wanted. And wanted. And wanted...
The word spilled from him on another groan, this one threatening to take his soul with it. "Please, Qui, you." Even begging had an attraction; it made Qui-Gon's nostrils flare and his heart thump and his body twitch, all which made Obi-Wan want him more. "Please, you," He repeated shamelessly.
"One more." Abandoning his fiery cock, Qui-Gon used his free hand to spread the cheeks of Obi-Wan's ass wider, working a third finger in, generously coated with nothing more than the Force, and where had he learned to use it like that?
"Ready..." Rising on his knees, tilting his hips back wantonly to give access, Obi-Wan clutched at the chest beneath him, watching his sweat drip onto the smooth skin there.
He wanted to lick it off.
"Just -" Qui-Gon caught his breath and moaned as Obi-Wan did just that, laving a hard nipple and closing his mouth over the area to suck fiercely.
"Just breathe when I tell you," He managed to blurt out.
Nodding, Obi didn't protest as he was carefully arranged, sitting up straight on his knees, pelvis thrown forward with a gentle tug on his hips, both of Qui-Gon's hands on his ass, spreading him wide. The heat of Qui-Gon's cock pressing against his newly-awakened entry.
"Deep breath," Qui-Gon gasped, waiting until Obi-Wan, dazed, complied. "Hold it..."
They froze, neither moving, and then his hands tightened on Obi-Wan's hips and his words flowed over him like love. "Exhale, slowly..."
As Obi-Wan breathed out, trusting implicitly in his Master's knowledge, the first few inches of that cock sank painlessly into him and he shuddered, impaled, feeling the older man fighting for control beneath him. All he wanted was one look, one visual taste, but when his eyes opened he couldn't close them again, the sight was too splendid to look away from.
"Breathe..." Qui-Gon sighed, meeting his eyes. It was all there, in his eyes, in the bond between them, in his own eyes, Obi-Wan knew. And he breathed, and let the air whoosh out of him slowly, needing no prompting this time, and his Master entered him further.
"Yes." With a sigh, Obi-Wan repeated the pattern, and at last sank to his knees, bottom pressed firmly to Qui-Gon's loins, and the circuit was completed.
"Good?" Qui-Gon asked, hands roaming his body, caressing and stroking, finding all the little places that made him shudder harder as if he'd always known them.
"Perfect." With a smile that couldn't last in the face of such powerful pleasure, Obi-Wan moved. Rocked his hips, forward and back, and moaned at the sensation.
"Try this." The hands were back on his hips, urging him up, and he went reluctantly, not wanting to release the cock inside him, but then the hands were pulling him back down and it pushed back into him and he had to smother a scream by stuffing a fist into his mouth, shocked by the very urge.
He *never* screamed in bed.
"You do now." A quick, desperate chuckle, and then those hands were urging again, directing, teaching, and Qui-Gon's hips were lifting to meet the downward thrust and Obi-Wan was *full*, his body was completely, utterly *filled* and nothing had ever felt like this before.
"Perfect," Qui-Gon muttered thickly, bending his knees, bringing his legs up for leverage, thrusting harder.
"Yes!" Obi-Wan moaned, giving in to the rhythm, letting it dictate his movements, and his body knew what to do. Taught by a Master.
The strokes were becoming regular, ending somewhere so deep inside him he didn't want to think about it, touching something that made him feel just unbelievably needy, and then Qui-Gon increased the pleasure by moving a hand to his cock and grasping it tightly, using just the right amount of pressure and there was no way a fist was going to stop this one.
Hanging his head back, totally loose, Obi-Wan screamed at the top of his lungs, riding his Master home.
At the peak of the wail his body betrayed him by clenching and then jerking helplessly, his seed rolling over Qui-Gon's hand to drip on the sweaty stomach, and his Master made a *sound*, an unreal sound, and Obi-Wan flipped his head over and looked at him just in time to see the big body arch up off the bed, head back, hands grasping, muscles springing tight like cables.
The flush of new heat inside his own body was amazing and erotic and....perfect.
The collapse was slow and mostly controlled, Qui-Gon reaching for him and pulling him down so that he could slump on the heaving chest and share the oxygen they were both trying to breathe, the cock inside him softening and slipping free with no fanfare, the relaxation of their bodies as welcome as the tension had been.
"How..." The word was too thick to be understood; Obi-Wan swallowed and tried to wet dry lips with an equally dry tongue, found that there was another close by willing to help.
It was not worn from screaming and soon the words could leave his mouth coherent.
"How do you feel?"
"Perfect." A purring chuckle accompanied another long kiss.
"How do I feel?"
"Like a star has fallen into my arms."
"In other words...." Shifting slighlty, Obi-Wan closed his eyes and snuggled closer. "Perfect."
"And hungry." Lifting his head, Obi-Wan snickered as he made the accusation, Qui-Gon's stomach breaking the peace with its rumble.
"Well, that too." Tightening his hold, the older man seemed unwilling to let him go.
"Well, I'm sleepy." Settling back into the embrace, Obi-Wan seemed just as unwilling to leave.
"No," Qui-Gon corrected, their bond warning Obi-Wan a split-second before he moved, swinging his legs off the bed, lifting the smaller man in his arms and carrying him toward the table where the food waited, protected by a stasis cover, sitting them both in a single large armchair with a soft grunt.
Obi-Wan opened his mouth and laughed, happiness flooding the bond. They ate together from communal plates, each helping himself, and they watched the stars in the window, which were none the less beautiful for being recorded, and somewhere in that perfect time, chewing thoughtfully on a piece of passion fruit he had stolen from under his Master's nose, Obi-Wan realized that he could almost hear the flickering pop of a campfire.
And the silent song of the stars.
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