chelle

Phantom Menace

Disclaimer

No copyright infringement is intended or should be inferred. No money was made from the writing or posting of any content on this fan site.

From Bi The Way, at http://www.bitheway.org/

chelle's site is maintained by chelle.

The Real Obi Wan

chelle

Title: The Real Obi Wan

Fandom: Phantom Menace

Author's email: chelle@chelle.slashcity.org

Author's URL: http://chelle.slashcity.org/

Category: Slash

Pairing: Qui-Gon Jinn/Obi-Wan Kenobi

Archive: Ask first

Rating: NC-17

Spoilers: the early Jedi Apprentice novels

Beta: A pair of chocolate covered Jedi to Maureen, my beta-reader. Without her constructive criticism and insight this story would be far less than it is. Thank you, my dear, for pushing me where I was reluctant to go. That said, all remaining mistakes, grammatical or otherwise, are solely my responsibility.

AN: Very bizarre crossover. I didn't plan it. Honestly. It just snuck out. And then, well, it was just too good not go with, although it changed several key scenes. Hopefully, you will all laugh as hard as I did when I thought of it. If not, my apologies. This is my response to Whisper's Obi-Wan loses his memory challenge. I'm afraid it is not quite as angsty as Dark~Angel's wonderful story. This was my first attempt at something other than PWP so please be gentle.

Qui-Gon woke suddenly, hope filling him. "Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan?"

He was on Coruscant, at the bedside of his Padawan, who was healing from an injury sustained on their last mission. The young man had been unconscious for two full days. And Qui-Gon was fearful. He could sense Obi-Wan, and did not fear for his life, but what was coming to him across their bond was not quite right somehow.

Now Obi-Wan had opened his gray eyes at last. And something was definitely wrong. "Where am I?"

Qui-Gon tightened his grip on Obi-Wan's hand. "You're on Coruscant, Obi-Wan. In the infirmary."

"Coruscant," he repeated, trying to lift his head and look around.

Qui-Gon gently urged him back onto the pillows. "Do not try to move. You've been unconscious for two days. You need rest."

"Two days?" Obi-Wan echoed. "What happened?"

"We were ambushed. You were injured." Qui-Gon said quietly. "Do not worry about it now, Padawan. We'll speak of it later."

"Is that my name, Padawan?"

Qui-Gon turned his head in time to lock eyes with the healer, Mair Tal, who had just entered the room. The two seemed to reach an unspoken agreement and Qui-Gon turned his attention back to the bed. "No, Padawan is not your name. It is your title. Your name is Obi-Wan Kenobi. You are in training to become a Jedi Knight. You are my Padawan; it is the formal name for a Jedi apprentice."

"A Jedi Knight." Obi-Wan repeated. Leaning deeper into the pillow and closing his eyes.

"Yes." Qui-Gon responded.

After a few moments Obi-Wan opened his eyes again. "And what is your name?"

Smiling warmly, despite the worry showing clearly in his eyes, Qui-Gon answered him. "Qui-Gon Jinn at your service, young Padawan."

Obi-Wan returned the smile, the corners of his lips curling up slightly.

At that point the healer spoke. "Padawan Kenobi, can you tell me the last thing you do remember?"

Obi-Wan closed his eyes and tried to concentrate. He shook his head. "Nothing," he said. "I can remember nothing."

"Do you know what the day it is?" Obi-Wan shook his head. "Do you know the name of the Supreme Chancellor?"

"Chancellor Valorum."

The healer nodded. "Good. Do you know the leader of the Jedi Council?"

"Yoda. Master Yoda."

Mair Tal smiled at him. "See you do remember some things." She leaned over him. "May I examine your wound?"

Obi-Wan assented. She looked closely at the injured side of his head. It was healing well, judging by the appearance. She reached out with the force. She examined the patterns of energy within Obi-Wan, tracing them. Everything was as it should be. She sighed inaudibly. She hated inexplicable conditions.

"Your wound has healed well, Padawan Kenobi. With luck your memory will return soon."

"With luck?" Qui-Gon repeated, a decided edge to his voice.

Mair Tal smiled, tried to be reassuring. "We understand the body down to the molecular level, but there is still something about the workings of the mind which eludes us. It is not uncommon for head injuries to result in minor memory loss. Once the wound is healed, the memory usually returns, in its own time."

"But my loss is not minor. I remember almost nothing of who I am." There was no trace of fear or panic in the young man's voice. It was a calm statement of fact.

"True." The healer responded. "But we have no reason to believe your memory will not return. In fact, I am more concerned about how we will treat you in the meantime, than I am about the permanence of your condition."

"Meaning?" Qui-Gon asked.

She turned to look at the Master. "He is an advanced student, able to channel a great deal of the force with ease. But his memory loss will affect his skills. We have never been able to detect a pattern in which skills are retained and which are lost with this sort of injury. It appears to vary with the individual. You will have to stay close to him, Master Jinn and provide the necessary support and control. For example, at the moment he is broadcasting rather loudly."

Qui-Gon looked abashed. "I didn't realize. I thought it was our bond."

"A natural assumption."

"What do you mean broadcasting? And please do not discuss me as though I were not in the room."

"You are projecting your feelings, Obi-Wan. With the force. Other force sensitives can feel them." Qui-Gon answered.

"Oh." Obi-Wan, disappointment with himself evident in his voice. "How do I stop?"

"I'll show you." Qui-Gon reached out, extending his shields around both of them. He began showing Obi-Wan the force patterns which created the shields, which shielded your thoughts and emotions in, which kept those of others out. Only after he had begun the exercise did Qui-Gon realize how deeply into his mind he had allowed Obi-Wan, how much the apprentice may have seen. 'Ah well,' he told himself, 'what is done is done. We can deal with that later if we must.'

Obi-Wan was fascinated, so absorbed he did not notice the healer leave. He watched Qui-Gon's manipulation of the force with wonder, eager to attempt it himself. Following Qui-Gon's example, he reached for the force, felt it flow easily into him. He tingled with the sheer pleasure of it. Then he began moving the force in the patterns shown to him. Good, Qui-Gon said into his mind. You are doing well. Obi-Wan continued, then sat back to examine his handiwork, feeling very pleased with himself. There was only one problem. The shields he had constructed surrounded them both.

Qui-Gon laughed.

"Don't worry, my Padawan. I've been trapped in far worse places than your mind." While he felt very safe in Obi-Wan's mind, he was less certain about having Obi-Wan in his. He would just have to be very careful, that's all.

"I can redo it, Master Jinn."

Qui-Gon shook his head. "You've had enough exertion for one day." He released the hand he was still holding and rose. "Now that you have rejoined the land of the conscious, I need a shower and a change of clothes. I'll return in an hour or so."

"You don't have to, Master Jinn. I'm fine. Really."

Qui-Gon looked down at him, his face unreadable. 'Did Obi-Wan sense something? Is my presence causing him discomfort?' "Obi-Wan, you have not called me Master Jinn in ten years. Please call me Qui-Gon or master, if you prefer."

"What do I usually call you?"

"Master, you save Qui-Gon for special occasions." Qui-Gon replied, a hint of mischief in his blue eyes.

'Such as?' Obi-Wan thought, but didn't ask.

Qui-Gon continued. "How about this? I'll come back as I planned and sit with you for awhile. If you truly don't need me, I'll go."

Obi-Wan nodded. "Yes, master."

"Good." Qui-Gon smiled down at him again before turning and leaving the room.

Obi-Wan watched him leave, a Jedi Master. And he was to be a Jedi Knight. It seemed incredible, a child's dream. But apparently it was his reality. He had felt the force, manipulated it. That he knew. And there was no doubting the power of Master Qui-Gon Jinn. Every muscle in his body sang with it. Strength, grace, control. He thought about their shared shields, wondered how much of his thoughts reached the other man, wondered exactly what their relationship was. Master and apprentice, he had been told. But what precisely did that mean, what did it entail? That Qui-Gon cared for him, deeply, was evident. Obi-Wan knew without asking that this was the first time Qui-Gon had left his bedside for more than a few minutes. The other man's concern and affection had been clear in his mind. Obi-Wan could feel them still. He was convinced there had been something else, something he could not quite name. Puzzled, he reached out.

Yes, Obi-Wan?

Obi-Wan started at the contact. Master, I am sorry. I didn't mean to. I..

Calm yourself Obi-Wan. You can contact me whenever you wish. I am only a thought away. Are you all right? Do you need anything?

Still abashed, Obi-Wan replied, No, Master. I am fine. I just didn't realize this would happen.

There is a bond between Masters and their apprentices, Obi-Wan. It aids in training. We can speak more of this when I come to your room if you wish. As long as you are not in need of me, I would like to finish my shower while the water is still hot.

Of course, I'm sorry.

Please stop apologizing Obi-Wan. You've done nothing that requires an apology. You rarely do.

Embarrassment still oozing from every pore, Obi-Wan withdrew.

Humiliated, Obi-Wan lay in his bed, trying not to think of Qui-Gon in the shower. Trying not to think of exactly what his master had been washing when he had interrupted.

***

Feeling clean and well fed for the first time in days, Qui-Gon returned to the infirmary. Before rejoining Obi-Wan he sought out Mair Tal. He located her in the office she shared with another healer.

Hearing her response to his knock, he opened the door. "Healer Tal, may I speak with you for a moment?"

"Certainly, Master Jinn. Please, come in."

Qui-Gon sat in the chair indicated. Leaning forward, he began. "I have several questions." Mair Tal nodded. "First, how long will Obi-Wan be without his memory? Is there a chance it could be permanent?"

"Yes, there is a chance it could be permanent. But that is very unlikely. How long he will remain without his memory I do not know. It could be weeks, or months."

"Years?"

"Possible, but as I said, unlikely. With the physical damage healed, his memory should return."

Qui-Gon nodded his understanding. "Okay. How much can I tell him, should I tell him? I know my Padawan. He is going to be full of questions, about himself, his past. He dislikes not knowing…anything. A loss like this. I am concerned how it will effect him."

"Speak in generalities. Answer his questions, but do not give him specific details."

"Wouldn't details help him to regain his memories, give him something to focus on?"

Healer Tal shook her head. "Not usually. We all see things differently. An important detail to you could be something of which he took no notice."

"Healer Tal, he is my Padawan. We have faced danger and death together on many occasions. I am certain we recall some of the details of those occasions similarly."

"No doubt you do, or did. But it is still best to wait before supplying him with your memories. Give his a chance to come out first."

"Should I take him to favorite places, surround him with familiar things, music, food?"

"Yes. I would also advise that he stay in your quarters, rather than with the other apprentices. His control of the force will remain uneven until his memory returns. Plus, you are the person he is closest to, your presence will help to stimulate his memory."

"That will not be a problem."

'I didn't think it would,' Mair Tal thought to herself.

"When will you release him from the infirmary?"

"Tomorrow."

"I will have a place prepared for him then. Thank you, Healer Tal." Qui-Gon rose to leave.

"You are welcome, Master Jinn. Please call on me whenever you need me, regardless of the hour. The next few weeks will not be easy, for either of you. I wish to help however I can."

The master smiled, acknowledging her offer. "Have a good night, Healer."

"And you."

Stepping into the corridor, Qui-Gon turned towards the room where his apprentice lay staring at the ceiling.

***

Obi-Wan was frustrated. He had spent every moment since his accidental conversation with Qui-Gon trying to remember, to no avail. He could feel Qui-Gon, knew he was in the building. He considered reaching out to him, but decided against it. He had embarrassed himself enough for one day.

There was a knock at his door. "Come in Master."

"How are you?"

Qui-Gon asked, stepping into the room, his presence filling it.

"All right."

"The truth Obi-Wan."

Obi-Wan sighed. Why he had thought he could hide anything from this man, he didn't know. "Frustrated. I've been trying to remember."

"Of course you have." Qui-Gon said, moving to the chair beside Obi-Wan's bed. As he spoke, he sent a wave of understanding and reassurance along their bond. He felt Obi-Wan start at the contact.

"I'm sorry, Obi-Wan. I didn't mean to startle you." Qui-Gon's face registered concern.

Obi-Wan sent his own wave of reassurance back along the bond. It would not do to have this man think he might fall apart for no discernible reason. "Is this part of the bond you mentioned?"

"Yes. The bond between a master and apprentice allows us to sense each other's thoughts and feelings at levels deeper than we can with others. It enables us to reach other in emergencies. It allows me to simply show you the force skills for which there are no words."

"Like with the shielding."

Qui-Gon nodded. He decided to change the subject. For some reason discussing their bond made him want to squirm. "I have spoken with Healer Tal. You will be released from the infirmary tomorrow. Into my care." He watched Obi-Wan carefully, looking for the slightest sign of discomfort. "She recommends that you stay with me instead of in the apprentice's quarters."

Obi-Wan did not look troubled by the suggestion. He looked relieved. "Good. I was thinking that it would be quite difficult to be with people who know me but who I cannot remember."

"Isn't that true with me as well, Padawan? Or have you remembered something?"

Obi-Wan hated to squelch the hint of hope in those eyes. "No, I haven't remembered anything. It's just." He paused searching for the right words, gave up. "I imagine it would be different with others than it is with you. That's all."

Qui-Gon offered support. "I have no doubt that you are right."

An attendant knocked at the door, then entered with food. Qui-Gon took that as his cue to leave and stood.

But Obi-Wan stopped him. "Please stay." Qui-Gon sat. "At least keep me company while I eat." Then he stopped. "I'm sorry. You're a Jedi master. You must have more important things to do than sit here."

The intensity of Qui-Gon's reply shocked him. "Obi-Wan, never, for an instant, believe that there is anything more important to me than you are."

Realizing what he had said, Qui-Gon sought to soften it, to take the edge off. "You are my Padawan," he continued, his voice less fierce. "Your safety, your training, your care are my paramount responsibility."

Obi-Wan nodded and reached for his fork. Care, indeed.

***

Obi-Wan entered his master's quarters. Curious, he looked around, taking it all in. The main room was austere. Simple furniture, a table with chairs, an oversized couch, a desk, and lots of shelves holding interesting looking objects. There was an adjoining bathroom, a small kitchen, and two sleeping chambers. The larger one he assumed was Qui-Gon's, the smaller his.

Qui-Gon led him to the smaller room. "This was your room when you first became my apprentice. You stayed here until you were 16, when you moved into the apprentice quarters."

Obi-Wan looked around, a bed, a desk, and more shelves. Vaguely Obi-Wan wondered if the objects on them were his or Qui-Gon's.

"Yours, mostly. Things you chose not to take with you."

"What was I like, when I came here?" Obi-Wan asked, an unmistakable sense of loss in his voice.

"Headstrong," Qui-Gon replied. "But you were also eager to learn, determined to be a Knight, to do good. And brave, even at thirteen you had courage enough for two. Unfortunately, courage and inexperience are a potentially deadly combination. You were always willing to plunge ahead. It took you a long time to learn restraint and patience. How to wait for the right moment." Qui-Gon's expression grew distant. "I feared that I had lost you more times than I care to remember."

"But you didn't. I'm still here, if a little worse for wear."

Qui-Gon looked down at him. Eyes twinkling, he reached out and tugged Obi-Wan's braid, "Yes, you are definitely worse for wear."

At that moment Obi-Wan struck. The pillow from his bed flew across the room hitting Qui-Gon on the side of the head. Qui-Gon reacted like a Jedi Master. He grabbed the pillow and began striking Obi-Wan with it, seeking to drive him backwards onto the bed. Obi-Wan gave way at first, then, when Qui-Gon was confident of victory, he reached out and tickled his ribs. This time Qui-Gon was caught by surprise. Dropping the pillow, he sought to capture Obi-Wan's wrists, and stop those fingers. Obi-Wan managed to elude him for a few minutes, long enough that they both toppled onto the bed. They lay there, side by side, laughing and trying to catch their breath at the same time.

"Whatever inspired you to do that?" Qui-Gon asked, as his laughter subsided. "No one has tickled me in, well, probably longer than you've been alive. I didn't know I was still ticklish."

"Then I am sorry, master."

"For what?"

Qui-Gon asked

"Not tickling you sooner."

'Memory or no, he is still Obi-Wan,' thought Qui-Gon. "Okay, why did you throw the pillow?"

"I felt I needed the practice?" Obi-Wan asked with exaggerated optimism. The response drew the anticipated reaction. Qui-Gon was looking at him sternly now, but mirth still showed around his eyes. "You were so tense it was almost unbearable. I thought a little silliness might relax you."

"You were right. Thank you, my Padawan."

"It was the least I could do, since I am the cause of the tension."

"Through no fault of your own."

"Or yours."

"Or mine," Qui-Gon agreed, surprising Obi-Wan. He had been sensing what he believed was guilt in the older man. He had assumed that it was related to his injury. Perhaps he was wrong.

Rising, Qui-Gon said, "Let us go to the practice ground and see if we can find some other defenseless objects for you to hurl about."

***

Four weeks later, his memory had still not returned. There were not even hints of memories. They had spent a great deal of time in the places Qui-Gon told Obi-Wan he had always preferred. His old friend Bant and her Master had been kept on Coruscant in the hope that her presence might help stimulate his memory. Obi-Wan had enjoyed her company tremendously, easily understanding how they had become close, but he remembered nothing. He was becoming frightened. Qui-Gon sought to reassure him, but Obi-Wan could sense his Master's own concern. And the reassurance sounded hollow to them both.

To further complicate things, his easy success with the shields had been a fluke. The rest of his skills were distressingly unpredictable. In some areas, advanced tasks came easily, while simple ones eluded him. In others, his ability to judge the amount of force required was severely compromised.

They were meeting with the healers and a representative of the Council today. Obi-Wan struggled to control his anxiety.

It will be all right, Obi-Wan. It will be.

Yes, master, Obi-Wan acknowledged. He frequently felt that Qui-Gon believed he could make everything all right, just by force of will. A not very Jedi like attitude, but Obi-Wan was learning that his master was not an ordinary Jedi. Then, his bed made, he stepped into the main room he had shared with his master for the past four weeks.

Qui-Gon greeted him with a smile. "Let's go."

Obi-Wan looked up into his Master's blue eyes for a moment before nodding.

***

Qui-Gon squeezed his shoulder as they climbed the steps to the infirmary. Reassurance and affection flowed along their bond. Sometimes Obi-Wan felt that if he reached out just a little he could lose himself in that affection, and, more temptingly, in Qui-Gon.

They were the last to arrive at Mair Tal's office. The Council representative, whom Obi-Wan did not recognize, and another healer were already there with Mair Tal.

Greetings exchanged. Obi-Wan decided to take control of the conversation. "Healer Tal, what exactly is my prognosis? Is there still a chance I can regain my memory, and my skills? Or should I sign up for the Agri Corps?" He had intended the last to sound light hearted; it didn't.

"No need to sign up for the Agri Corps just yet Padawan Kenobi. If ever. Even if your memory doesn't return, skills can be relearned." She smiled reassuringly. "However, we are changing our recommendation about the location of your recuperation."

Obi-Wan glanced at his master, "You wish me to leave Master Qui-Gon's quarters?"

"No. We wish you to leave Coruscant." Seeing the look on his face, Mair Tal quickly added, "With your master."

The other healer took this moment to speak. "We feel it would best if you focused on your training, not your memory loss. From what I understand, you are a very promising student. Concentrate on regaining your skills. The mind can take care of itself, if allowed to."

The Council representative added, "Because of the unevenness of your current skills and because the healers feel that you need to be free from distractions. We've decided to send the two of you to our training facilities on Valdemar."

"Valdemar is extremely isolated. What if Obi-Wan needs a healer?" Qui-Gon was clearly not happy with this decision.

"It has a fully equipped medical facility," was the reply.

"Fully equipped with droids." Qui-Gon was not all that fond of droids. "I do not want Obi-Wan's recovery compromised by a lack of suitable care."

Obi-Wan interrupted. "Master, I want to go. It feels right to me, somehow." After a moment, he added, with greater certainty, "We should go."

Looking intently at his apprentice, Qui-Gon nodded. "Very well, Padawan. We will go." 'But there hadn't better be any force-damned talking horses,' he thought fiercely.

***

Early the next morning, Qui-Gon rose and went in search of Mair Tal. She was with a patient. He waited in her office. Pacing. Qui-Gon Jinn never paced. That he did so today was clear evidence of how deeply anxious he was. At first he had been confident that Obi-Wan's memory would return, that the memory loss had been solely the result of physical injury. Now, he feared the worst.

Healer Tal noticed the pacing as soon as she entered. Forgoing comment, she gestured to a chair, while moving behind her desk to her own. Qui-Gon shook his head at the offered chair. Thought better of it and sat.

"What did you need to ask me, Master Jinn?"

Qui-Gon looked at her. He had to face this, had to ask. Taking a breath, he began, "Healer Tal, Obi-Wan's memory loss is psychological, isn't it? He is choosing not to remember."

Healer Tal studied him closely. Anxiety and fear were etched on his face. Qui-Gon Jinn had a reputation for being calm and in control no matter how difficult the situation. It was the reason he and his Padawan were often given the most difficult assignments, especially those that involved negotiations. Now a very uncalm Master Jinn sat in her office. He was not simply worried about his Padawan, she realized. He was worried that he had caused him harm.

Choosing her words carefully, Mair Tal replied, "Yes, that is the most likely explanation. Usually a memory loss like this is the result of severe trauma. The patient has seen or experienced something so horrible that they are willing to bury everything just to forget it."

Qui-Gon was leaning forward in his chair, elbows resting on his legs, hands clenched together. He was staring unseeing at his clenched hands, radiating worry and fear.

"Qui-Gon," Mair Tal asked gently. "can you think of anything that might explain this? Did anything unusual happen on your last mission?"

He shook his head adamantly. "No." He rose and resumed his pacing. "I've been over it and over it. We were never separated for any length of time. At no point did Obi-Wan seem especially upset."

He stopped pacing, looking directly at Mair Tal. "Healer, Obi-Wan is one of the bravest people I've ever known. I cannot imagine anything he would not face. Except…" Stopping, he looked away and resumed his pacing.

"In almost thirty years as a healer I have never heard of anyone being so traumatized by learning of another's love for them that they choose to forget who they are." Mair Tal said quietly.

Qui-Gon looked at her as if he had been struck. Then he flushed.

"That is what you feared, isn't it."

He flushed more deeply.

Mair Tal was bemused, how a Jedi Master could be so foolish she didn't know. "Qui-Gon," she asked gently, "did you tell him how you felt?"

He shook his head, "No, but I thought he may have learned of it somehow. Saw it in my mind. Sensed my feelings."

"Perhaps he did. But if that were the case, I sincerely doubt he would have been so horrified that he would block out his memory just to forget that you love him."

Qui-Gon looked up at her, meeting her eyes for the first time since she had entered the office. "I am being foolish." There was a hint of an embarrassed smile.

She readily agreed,

"Very."

He sighed. "I know it is irrational. Obi-Wan was always so strong in mind as well as body. I was confident that he would recover quickly. When he did not…"

"Your irrational fears began to get the best of you." Qui-Gon nodded. "You may be a Jedi Master, Qui-Gon, but you're only human. Let it go."

"I will."

Qui-Gon promised, his own foolishness now completely undeniable.

"Good. Now, why not tell me why you believe your feelings would harm Obi-Wan."

Once again unable to meet her eyes, he looked down at the floor. Then rose and moved to a window. He looked out for a long moment before turning and answering her. "Because it is wrong. He is my Padawan. He has been placed in my care. It is my job to teach him and to protect him. He trusts me. I cannot abuse that trust."

"He may be your Padawan, but he is also a grown man. Eventually you will have to tell him or this will come between you. Not telling him, letting him wonder why you withdraw from him, can cause far more damage than honesty. If he does not reciprocate your feelings it will be awkward, but survivable. If he does, you will both be very happy."

"You know the Council frowns on such unions. I would not ask Obi-Wan to go against them for my sake."

"Frowns on, not prohibits. The frowning is to prevent Masters from taking advantage. That is not an issue here."

Qui-Gon moved back to the chair he had previously vacated. "How did you know?"

"From the moment Obi-Wan was brought in you showed the devotion of a lover, not the concern of a master."

"Did others notice?"

"Probably." She smiled at him. "I can't say for certain. Here in the infirmary we gossip about each other, not our patients."

Qui-Gon smiled back, but it clearly required effort. "So if it was not my love which has driven Obi-Wan to this place, how do I find out what it was?"

"You don't. He does. All you can do is create a place where he feels safe, a place where it is okay to remember. Do what you have always done, Qui-Gon, support and teach him. The rest is up to him."

"Thank you for your understanding Healer Tal. And your advice. I will consider it." He rose to leave, paused again. "If I do choose to speak with him, would telling him now hinder his recovery?"

She shrugged. "I do not know what would hurt or help his recovery at this point. In this, I think, you must trust the force to guide you."

Thanking her again, Qui-Gon left to meet his apprentice.

***

They had been given a small, two person craft for the journey. Once in hyperspace, they had settled into the small lounge. Obi-Wan was reading. Qui-Gon was pretending too. In actuality he was watching Obi-Wan. It was so strange to be with this young man who was, and was not, Obi-Wan. He had Obi-Wan's face, he moved like Obi-Wan, laughed like him. But he felt, different. He had not lost all that had made him who he was. His determination was still there, as was the quick grin, and easy humor. But he lacked the experiences which had made Obi-Wan, well, Obi-Wan. Qui-Gon puzzled at it, attempting to sort out exactly what was altered.

"That's it." Obi-Wan said, annoyance in his voice. "I can't find it."

"What?"

"The talking horses. I've read everything in the database on Valdemar and there are no references to talking horses."

Qui-Gon burst out laughing. He laughed so hard his eyes began to water. Obi-Wan just stared at him, uncertain as to whether he should be amused or annoyed.

When Qui-Gon finally regained control, and had wiped the tears from his eyes, he confessed the truth. "There are no talking horses. They're from a series of books that were popular when I was a child." His apprentice was staring at him, arms crossed. Annoyance had apparently won out. "I am sorry, Obi-Wan. Why didn't you just ask me?"

Amusement replaced annoyance. "I probably should have." His blue-gray eyes twinkled. "But I'm glad I didn't. It was worth all the wasted effort to see you laugh like that."

"Any effort which brings knowledge is not wasted, Padawan."

"Yes, I know," a hint of his former annoyance showing in his voice. "So did you enjoy these books?"

"Not especially. But Mace Windu did. Kept telling people he was going to be a Herald-Mage when he grew up."

"A herald-mage?"

"In the books, Heralds are kind of like Jedi. They have similar abilities and they ride around on these white horses protecting and serving the people of Valdemar. Herald-mages are both Heralds and Mages."

"And Master Windu liked these stories?"

"Immensely. He was always wanting to pretend to be characters from the book. He'd call himself Vanyel and me Yfandes."

Obi-Wan looked at him quizzically.

Qui-Gon sighed. "Vanyel was the last Herald-Mage. Yfandes was his horse."

This time it was Obi-Wan who gave in to uncontrollable laughter. Qui-Gon found himself unable to keep from joining him. Every time it seemed they might stop. Obi-Wan would look at him and say, "Yfandes." Then it would start again. Eventually, it did end, it had to. By this point they were both lying on the floor, staring up at the ceiling. After several moments of silence. Obi-Wan spoke. "I did not realize that you and Master Windu were once so close." He didn't add the obvious, that perhaps he had known and simply forgotten. "What happened?"

Qui-Gon's reply was diffident. "People grow and change. Drift apart. It's part of life."

Perceptive as always, Obi-Wan replied, "But what came between you was your difference in philosophy. Master Windu believes in adhering to the dictates of the code. You believe in following the living force, even when it means…" He stopped, grimacing in frustration.

"Obi-Wan?" His Master's concern flowed along their bond.

"It was right there." Obi-Wan replied through clenched teeth. "The rest of that sentence. A memory. I lost it."

Qui-Gon resisted the impulse to reach out to his Padawan, either physically or through their bond. He knew that at this moment such an effort would not be appreciated.

Obi-Wan focused his mind. Taking in a deep breath, Obi-Wan released his frustration with the breath. Well, most of it anyway. But it was becoming harder and harder to do.

"Padawan?" Qui-Gon asked quietly.

"Yes," Obi-Wan responded, turning his attention to his Master.

"I am proud you. You are handling an unbelievable difficult situation with exceptional grace and control. You are very much a Jedi. Even if your memories do not return you will make a fine knight."

Obi-Wan beamed. "Thank you, master. I owe it all to your training." He paused a moment. "At least I think I do."

Chuckling, Qui-Gon rose and offered Obi-Wan a hand. Obi-Wan accepted it and was pulled into a standing position, very close to his master. Seeking to hide the effect his Padawan's proximity had on him, Qui-Gon offered to help him find the Valdemar novels. "I think you will enjoy them. And they are probably in the database, at least they will be if Mace ever uses this ship."

Obi-Wan laughed softly. "I would like to read them. If nothing else it will pass the time. Thank you for thinking of it," The tell tale pause, Qui-Gon knew he was in trouble, "Yfandes."

Qui-Gon just shook his head.

***

Two days later, they were in the cockpit, coming out of hyperspace.

"So that's Valdemar." Obi-Wan observed. He glanced at his master. "Did we ever come here to train?"

"No. I've never much cared for the place."

Obi-Wan bit back the obvious reply. "I finished the first of the Herald Mage novels last night," he said casually.

Obi-Wan was going somewhere with this. Qui-Gon could sense it. So he asked the expected question, "What did you think of it?"

"I enjoyed it for the most part." Obi-Wan was watching Qui-Gon's face. "But I was disturbed by Vanyel's discomfort with his own desires and his father's rejection. Is it really like that outside of the temple? Are same-sex unions frowned upon?"

"In some places, by some people, yes." Qui-Gon had noted the intensity with which his reactions were being watched. "Why do you ask?"

Obi-Wan shrugged, "Curiosity. There is so much that I cannot recall, but that I feel I should know."

Qui-Gon turned and looked into those blue-gray eyes. Yes, there was more. He waited.

Finally, Obi-Wan spoke again, "Master, may I ask you a personal question?"

"You may always ask, Obi-Wan. However, I may choose not to answer." Qui-Gon squelched his rising anxiety at the direction the conversation was taking.

Screwing up his courage Obi-Wan asked the question which so intrigued him, "Have you ever had a male lover?"

Qui-Gon looked at him, his eyes narrowing dangerously. Obi-Wan thought 'I've gone too far this time.' But Qui-Gon surprised him. Turning his attention back to the view in front of him, Qui-Gon answered.

"Yes, Padawan, I have. And women as well. I always found the person to be more important than the gender." Momentary silence. Then, "Are there any other questions you wish to ask me?" The tone of his voice said clearly that there had better not be.

"No, master."

"Good. Take the controls, Obi-Wan. You need the practice."

***

They walked in silence from their ship to the training facilities. Finally, Obi-Wan could stand it no longer.

"I have one last question, Master." Obi-Wan's voice was quiet but firm.

"Only one, my Padawan?" There was a hint of amusement in his voice.

Obi-Wan was relieved. Apparently, he had been forgiven.

There was nothing to forgive.

Obi-Wan stopped walking. "Do you know how disconcerting it is to have someone respond to an unvoiced thought?"

"As a matter of fact I do. You've done it to me any number of times."

"Oh."

"Your question, Padawan." Qui-Gon prodded gently.

Obi-Wan looked down. Forcing himself to raise his eyes and meet his master's gaze, he spoke, "What have I, that is, who have I?" Taking a breath he finished in a rush, "Have I had lovers and, well, who were they?"

"I do not know, Obi-Wan." Qui-Gon said gently. "For the first time I wish I did, but I do not"

Obi-Wan's confusion was written all over his face, and flowed across their bond. Qui-Gon reached out and placed a hand on his shoulder. "I know that you had offers. I've witnessed many people pursuing you over the years, but I do not know who you allowed to catch you, if anyone."

Disappointed, Obi-Wan nodded, turning away. They resumed walking. Qui-Gon silently cursed himself for not having the courage to ask Obi-Wan what it was the younger man had wished to hear and why he had been confused that Qui-Gon hadn't known the answer to his question.

***

The training facilities were unoccupied except for the two of them and the droids. Despite the lack of occupants they had settled into a shared suite, slightly larger than the one they had been sharing on Coruscant.

Every day they practiced. It was not progressing anymore smoothly than it had on Coruscant. Obi-Wan's control was still shaky. Qui-Gon believed that part of the problem was caused by the discrepancy between Obi-Wan's physical skills and his force skills. His muscles still recalled the most complex, intricate moves, drilled into him by years of practice, but he could no longer gauge the force necessary to complete them. It had resulted in innumerable falls, several this morning alone.

Obi-Wan twisted in the air, bringing his feet back under him. He reached for his lightsaber; it flew to his hand. He grasped it securely as he landed, lost his balance and ended in the dirt.

Grimacing he rose. He did not bother to brush off the dust as he walked toward Qui-Gon, who met him in the middle of the practice area.

"That was better."

"Don't lie to me Qui-Gon."

Qui-Gon glared at his apprentice, annoyed by both the words and the tone. "I do not lie, especially not to you."

"No, you just conceal things." The look on Qui-Gon's face caused him to immediately regret his words.

"I think you've had enough practice for today. The rest of the day is yours. Do as you wish." With that Qui-Gon turned and strode away.

Obi-Wan watched him leave, relief and regret flowing through him simultaneously. Quickly he made a decision and headed from the practice area. Exiting the training facility, he entered the woods beyond.

***

Qui-Gon watched him go. The situation was becoming untenable, perhaps dangerous. Obi-Wan's training was not progressing and his frustration was escalating. Even worse was the sense of loss which surrounded him now. Obi-Wan was beginning to give up hope. Recalling Mair Tal's advice, to trust in the force, he decided to meditate again upon the problem. Perhaps it was time to share his memories with Obi-Wan, to give him some sense of his history, of their history. An idea beginning to form, Qui-Gon walked toward his chamber, to search his feelings and the force.

***

Several hours later, Qui-Gon emerged from his room, now certain of what he must do, what he must offer Obi-Wan. He did not need to look for Obi-Wan. He knew exactly where he was. He was still in the forest, and hungry. Qui-Gon headed for the kitchen. Having prepared enough food for both of them, he went to find his apprentice.

***

Obi-Wan was sitting in a small clearing. He was meditating, Qui-Gon noted with approval.

"I was attempting to control my frustration." Obi-Wan said, opening his eyes.

"Control it or release it?" Qui-Gon asked, stepping into the clearing.

"Control. Release stopped working several days ago."

"It would be easier to concentrate if your stomach were not growling, Padawan."

Obi-Wan looked up at him, grinned. "You brought food."

Qui-Gon dropped gracefully to the ground beside him, placing the bag of food in front of Obi-Wan who opened it eagerly.

"Join me?"

Qui-Gon nodded and Obi-Wan handed him a piece of fruit. "Thank you for this, master."

"You are welcome, Obi-Wan."

They ate in silence. While they ate Obi-Wan contemplated what he should say. He needed to voice what was happening, how he was feeling. And Qui-Gon was the only one who would, who could, understand. Of course, he was also the only other person present. When the food was gone, Obi-Wan began speaking. "I cannot help but feel that I am not the real Obi-Wan. That somewhere out there is the real Obi-Wan Kenobi, the one with memories. I'm merely his shadow, occupying his life, but not really him." Qui-Gon was watching him intently, seeking to understand. "You feel it to don't you? That I am Obi-Wan, and yet not him."

"Yes," Qui-Gon agreed. "That is sometimes how it feels."

Obi-Wan looked away again. "There are times when the memories are right there, just out of reach. I can feel it. But when I try to reach them, they vanish again." He paused. "I've tried waiting, hoping they would somehow slip into my conscious mind. But it never happens, they just fade away."

"I've been thinking." Qui-Gon said carefully. "Mair Tal advised me before we left that we should trust in the force, seek answers there. Perhaps it is time we tried something else. I could share my memories with you. Give you something to focus upon."

Surprise and hope shone in Obi-Wan's face. "Think carefully before you decide. We could end up doing more harm than good, my memories could permanently replace your own."

'Better your memories than none at all,' Obi-Wan thought. Aloud he said, "You've been meditating on this? Seeking guidance?"

"Yes"

"And it seems the right course to you?"

"Yes."

"I don't need my memories to know that I trust you with my life, and my mind. I wish to try this, whatever the risk." He was looking directly into his Master's eyes.

Qui-Gon broke the contact, looking away. "There is something I must tell you first. You were right to accuse me of concealing things from you."

"Master, I…"

Qui-Gon held up his hand, Obi-Wan fell silent. "No, Obi-Wan. You were right. I have been concealing." He paused, forced himself to continue, "I have been concealing my feelings for you." He looked back at his apprentice. "I love you, Obi-Wan."

"I know,"

Obi-Wan said softly.

"No, you don't understand. I love you. Not the way a master loves an apprentice."

Obi-Wan interrupted. "I do understand, Qui-Gon. You love me the way one adult loves another, romantically, sexually."

Qui-Gon's response was a barely audible whisper, "Yes."

Obi-Wan moved so that he was kneeling in front of his master. "I've known ever since I woke up in the infirmary. It was written all over your face. I could feel it every time you touched me. It was very confusing. To sense your love for me and wonder why you never spoke of it, never acted like a lover." He paused. "You never told me, did you?"

Feeling foolish, Qui-Gon admitted he had not. "No. You may have guessed, but I never told you."

"Oh, Qui-Gon," Obi-Wan breathed. Qui-Gon tensed slightly at the sound. Pity, he did not want.

"I'm only telling you now, because I did not want you to find out accidentally, to stumble across it in my mind." Qui-Gon said, his voice tense.

Obi-Wan reached out and took one of his master's large hands in both of his. He raised it to his chest, pressing it against the area over his heart. Then he sent his own feelings along their bond. He felt Qui-Gon's astonishment, sensed it turn into pleasure as Qui-Gon realized that his Padawan loved him in return.

"I suppose that I cannot speak for that other Obi-Wan, the one with memories, but I know how I feel. I love you, Qui-Gon."

Qui-Gon reached up with his free hand, brushed his fingers down the side of Obi-Wan's face and across his lips. Leaning forward, he replaced the fingers with his mouth. The kiss was tender, exploratory, and filled with a longing that caught at Obi-Wan. He wanted to give Qui-Gon everything, anything, whatever it took to fill the aching need he felt in his beloved master. The kiss continued, deepened. Qui-Gon's arms wrapped around him, pulled him close. Obi-Wan tangled his hands in Qui-Gon's hair, wanting this not to end. Inevitably, it did.

Obi-Wan sat back, watching Qui-Gon, who watched him in return. Just as the silence was growing awkward, Qui-Gon spoke, "We should go back. If we are to try and work on your memory, I want it to be with healers nearby, even if they are only droids."

Obi-Wan rose and offered his master a hand. Qui-Gon took it. Rising he pulled Obi-Wan into a tight embrace. They held each other for a long moment, before turning and walking back to the training facility.

***

Upon returning to their suite, Obi-Wan immediately asked, "So what do you have in mind? How do we begin?" Without waiting for a response he added, "Please tell me it is not with meditation. I think I've meditated enough in the last month to last a lifetime."

"A whole lifetime, Padawan?"

"At least. Maybe two."

Qui-Gon laughed. "Don't worry. There will be no more meditating, at least for this evening." Walking to the windows, he closed the shades, shutting out the early evening light. Lighting a candle, he placed it in the center of the room on the floor.

"Candlelight, master? I thought we were going to be trying to restore my memory."

There was a sensuous undertone to Obi-Wan's voice.

"We are. The flame can help to focus our…" Catching sight of Obi-Wan's smirk he stopped. "Just get over here."

Obi-Wan joined him in the center of the room and the two sat facing each other, the candle between them. Qui-Gon reached into a pocket, removing a small stone, he handed it to Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan looked at him quizzically. "It is the first gift I ever gave you, on your thirteenth birthday." Qui-Gon explained. "I thought that memory might be a good place to start."

Obi-Wan turned the rock over and over in his hand. He liked the feel of it. "Where did you get it?"

"I told you that when I gave it to you. Shall we see if you can remember?"

Obi-Wan nodded and shifted his attention from the rock to his Master. He felt Qui-Gon reaching out along their bond and he did likewise. Qui-Gon was systematically lowering his shields, allowing Obi-Wan into parts of his mind he usually kept to himself. Obi-Wan noticed that some shields were left intact and he could not help but wonder what was behind them, and if he would ever be welcomed there.

Obi-Wan began to lower his own shields. You don't have to do that. Qui-Gon told him.

I know, he responded. But it may help.

Qui-Gon waited until Obi-Wan was done with his shields, then directed Obi-Wan's attention into his own mind. Satisfied with the connection between them, he recalled Obi-Wan's thirteenth birthday. Recalled a spaceport where he had stopped Obi-Wan from entering the waiting ship, directing him instead to close his eyes and report what he saw. Obi-Wan had accurately given a detailed description of the ship, but stumbled on describing the hangar. He had inaccurately reported the location of a purple flower growing from a vine on an old stone overhang.

Obi-Wan watched the memory unfolding in Qui-Gon's mind, watched his thirteen year old self squirm as Qui-Gon inquired if he was distracted. Qui-Gon had been teasing him, enjoying his discomfort. Obi-Wan remembered thinking how complicated his new master was, how difficult to read. He remembered his disappointment when his gift was a rock. A rock that he realized was now pulsing in his hand. He registered the change and returned his focus to the memory. Qui-Gon was saying that he had found the rock in the River of Light on his home planet. He had thanked his master sincerely, hiding, he hoped, his disappointment. Now that he was sharing Qui-Gon's memory he realized that he had not been successful. His feelings had been completely transparent to his master. Qui-Gon asked if he had performed the birthday ritual. He confessed that he had not. Qui-Gon had been unmoved by his excuses, advising him to find the time to complete it. 'Had he found it?' Obi-Wan wondered. Then they were boarding the ship and Obi-Wan felt Qui-Gon releasing his focus on the memory.

As Qui-Gon withdrew from his mind, Obi-Wan lifted his eyes from the flame into which he had been staring, to meet his Master's blue eyes. I remembered, excitement blazed in his mind. "There were things I could not have gotten from you. My own thoughts and perceptions, I remembered them," he added aloud.

"I know, Padawan. I saw it too." The excitement in Qui-Gon's voice matched his own. "Can you recall any more?"

Obi-Wan closed his eyes, concentrating his attention inward. "We were on Bandomeer. That seems significant somehow, but I don't know why."

"Can you recall the ship? What happened after we went aboard?"

"The pilot was a very disagreeable Phindian. Although I think my feelings toward him changed, but I don't know how or why."

"Your feelings toward him did change, as did mine." Qui-Gon answered. Studying his apprentice closely he asked, "How are you feeling now?"

"Exhilarated."

Qui-Gon chuckled. "And why shouldn't I be? It's been an eventful afternoon."

Obi-Wan tried to sound defensive, failed. He sounded quite happy.

Grinning, Obi-Wan maneuvered around the candle to Qui-Gon's side. He leaned against Qui-Gon, lifting one of his arms and placing it across his chest. "Comfortable?" Qui-Gon asked.

"Very. And I have no intention of moving."

"I have no intention of asking you to." Qui-Gon said quietly, his lips just above Obi-Wan's ear. He reached out with the force. Pulling a nearby chair closer, Qui-Gon leaned against it. He changed position again, stretching his legs out in front of him. He could not resist pressing his cheek against Obi-Wan's hair.

"Tell me about the stone." Obi-Wan was holding it up, studying it again. "It is obviously force-sensitive. What can it be used for?"

"We never really took the time to find out, Padawan. You found it very useful once, not long after I had given it to you, but we never tested it systematically."

"We've plenty of time now."

"Ummm." Qui-Gon said against his hair.

Obi-Wan stopped talking and surrendered himself to the sense of peace that was descending over them both. It was the first peace either of them had known since Obi-Wan had been injured.

Qui-Gon reveled in the feel of Obi-Wan against him. How many times had he wanted to hold his Padawan this way? Far too many to count. He was still reeling from Obi-Wan's sharing of his feelings that afternoon. He so wanted to believe that Obi-Wan would still feel that way when his memories returned. It seemed so much more than he deserved, that this irrepressible, courageous, and all too beautiful young man could love him.

Not more than you deserve. Obi-Wan's voice in his mind startled him. "Not more than you deserve." Obi-Wan repeated out loud. He turned so that he was able to look at Qui-Gon, angled across his lap. Obi-Wan's eyes were blazing, his words were adamant. "You told me recently that I was brave, how can you have such respect for my bravery and none for your own? I know that my memory is a little faulty right now, but I don't need it to know you possess courage, and honor. How many lives have you saved?" he demanded. "How many wars have you averted? How many people sleep safely at night because of you?" He finally stopped, lying in Qui-Gon's arms, glaring at him.

Qui-Gon opened his mouth to speak, shut it again when Obi-Wan resumed scolding his master. "And beauty? Don't you ever look in a mirror?" Obi-Wan's anger was starting to fade. His voice softening somewhat he continued. "I wish you could see yourself move. That is beauty. Sheer grace and power. Sometimes just watching you cross a room is enough to make me," he stopped, flushing slightly, "distracted." Reaching up he caressed Qui-Gon's cheek. "You're trained to be observant. Haven't you ever noticed the reaction when you walk into a room?"

Resisting the urge to press his cheek against Obi-Wan's hand, Qui-Gon answered, "Obi-Wan, I'm a Jedi Master, people are supposed to notice when I enter a room."

"They don't respond that way to Master Windu."

"That's because he's not a Jedi Master; he's a Herald-Mage."

Laughing, Obi-Wan wrapped his arms around his Master and laid his head against Qui-Gon's shoulder. Qui-Gon tightened his arms around Obi-Wan in response. "I do not really have such a low opinion of myself, Padawan."

"You hadn't better." Obi-Wan lifted his head. His mouth now very close to Qui-Gon's. His eyes moved from Qui-Gon's mouth up to his eyes. He knew his eyes held a clear invitation.

'I don't," Qui-Gon said, his voice husky as desire suddenly coursed through him. Then Obi-Wan was kissing him. Obi-Wan's lips pressed against his, soft and warm. Then ever so slowly, Obi-Wan urged his mouth open and slid his tongue inside, stroking it along Qui-Gon's tongue, again and again and again. He slowly withdrew his tongue, caught Obi-Wan's lower lip between his own and sucked, harder than Qui-Gon was expecting. Qui-Gon moaned, low and deep, the sound itself a kind of release. Please, Obi-Wan, Don't.

Obi-Wan released his mouth and sat back, studying Qui-Gon and trying to control his hurt at the rejection.

Qui-Gon reached up, ran his fingers along the side of Obi-Wan's neck, as he spoke. "I want you, Obi-Wan, more than I've ever wanted anyone, more than I ever imagined wanting anyone. And that is why we can't do this, not yet. I don't think I'll be able to hold back, love. I know I'll reach for your mind, seek to link to you. I'm afraid you'll get too many of my memories, that it will erase any chance you have of regaining your own."

Obi-Wan nodded, took a deep breath. His eyes reflected his unhappiness with the situation. "Okay, I'll be patient. I'm a Jedi. Isn't patience our stock in trade?"

"That. And cold showers."

"I think those are only for us," Obi-Wan replied. "I just want to make certain that I understand this clearly. You really do want me, you just want to wait until my memory returns?" Qui-Gon nodded slowly. He knew his Padawan well enough to be suspicious. "And after that I may have you body and soul?" Qui-Gon nodded again, growing more suspicious. "And I may do with you whatever I wish?"

There was no answering nod this time. "That depends."

"On what?"

"Whether or not you kiss me that way again." Qui-Gon replied, pulling him close. Obi-Wan wrapped his arms around Qui-Gon's shoulders, loving the feel of him. They stayed that way a long time, letting desire fade. Their embrace was disrupted by the rumblings of an empty stomach.

"I think you need nourishment," Obi-Wan whispered. Extricating himself from Qui-Gon's embrace, he rose. Watched as Qui-Gon did the same. Reaching out with the force, Obi-Wan turned on a light, then snuffed out the candle.

"I suppose," Obi-Wan said as they headed for the kitchen, "that if Stefen could be patient I can too."

Qui-Gon gave him a quizzical look.

"You don't remember. Stefen was Vanyel's lover. His much younger lover." Obi-Wan turned and made a point of looking his master over fully, from top to bottom. "You know Master, you really are much more like Vanyel than Yfandes. There's the hair, and the significantly younger lover, and the fact that you only have two legs, and you're much easier to brush…" Seeing the look on Qui-Gon's face, Obi-Wan let out the laughter he had been trying to contain and ran for it at the same time.

Qui-Gon caught him just outside of the kitchen and pinned him against the wall. He grabbed both of Obi-Wan's wrists and held them up over his head. Leaning down, his mouth near Obi-Wan's ear, he whispered, "You know Obi-Wan it really isn't nice to tease your elders. Didn't your master teach you this?"

"No. Not that I can recall." Obi-Wan answered. Only a small hint remained of his previous humor.

"Then perhaps it is time he did." Qui-Gon lowered his mouth to a spot on Obi-Wan's neck that he had discovered earlier, when he had stroked it with his hand. He just kissed it at first, brushing his lips firmly against sensitive flesh. Then he licked it, ever so slightly. Returned to kissing. Kiss, lick, kiss, lick. He could feel Obi-Wan's arousal. It flowed across their bond. He nibbled slightly. Obi-Wan groaned. Straightening up, Qui-Gon released his neck. "As I said Obi-Wan you really shouldn't tease your elders. Not unless your prepared to be teased in return." Releasing Obi-Wan's wrists, he turned and walked into the kitchen.

Obi-Wan leaned against the wall, practicing his Jedi calming techniques.

***

Obi-Wan woke, alone. Stretching, he reached out for Qui-Gon with the force. His master was still sleeping. Obi-Wan drew back, not wishing to disturb him. Getting out of the bed, he padded to the window. Valdemar's sun was just coming up. The blue sky was streaked with shades of red. Obi-Wan watched, thinking over the previous day's events. He was deeply relieved that Qui-Gon's feelings, and his own, were now out in the open. Dancing around them had been increasing the strain on them both. He would have been happier if he had not slept alone, but he was willing to wait. Still, he could not help but wonder if the explanation Qui-Gon had offered for his reluctance to share his Padawan's bed was the entire truth. It would be just like him to be convinced that in making love to him, he would be taking advantage of his injured Padawan. Sighing, Obi-Wan left the window to get cleaned up and start the day.

Soon he was seated in the middle of his room, holding Qui-Gon's gift in his hand. Deliberately, he slowed his breathing, calming his mind and opening himself up to the force. He focused his attention on the rock, levitating it slightly as he did so. Then the images began to come.

He was on the entrance ramp to a ship, walking beside his master, thinking that a lifetime would not be enough time for him to truly understand his master.

He was in a cell. A device was strapped to his head. He was using the force, struggling to hang onto his memories. He was using the stone to focus.

They were battling in a tunnel, someone named Xanatos.

He was holding something to his neck. Qui-Gon was speaking, "No, Padawan. There has to be another way."

Breathing heavily, Obi-Wan withdrew from his meditation. The stone dropped into his hand. Qui-Gon was standing in the doorway.

"I'm sorry Padawan. I did not mean to interrupt."

"That's all right. I was done. At least for now."

"Breakfast, then?"

Obi-Wan rose and walked to the door. As they started down the hallway, Obi-Wan asked, "Master, who is Xanatos?"

Qui-Gon stopped and looked at Obi-Wan, incredulity and hope on his face.

Obi-Wan smiled. "I remembered more during my meditation." Seeing the look on Qui-Gon's face, his smile got broader. "I remembered being in a tunnel with you, battling someone called Xanatos. He kept calling you master. I found that a bit confusing."

"Xanatos was my first apprentice. He turned to the dark side. He had laid a trap for me on Bandomeer, together we defeated him." Qui-Gon was speaking slowly, clearly evaluating his words carefully.

"That is where you first called me Padawan, accepted me as your apprentice."

Qui-Gon nodded, "Yes."

"You were hesitant to accept me. Afraid of losing another apprentice to the darkside."

Again, Qui-Gon nodded. "Yes."

"It hurt. Your rejection."

Qui-Gon reached up and put a hand on his shoulder. "I know, Padawan. Having caused you that pain is one of my few regrets. I should not have been so blind, and stubborn. Yoda tried to tell me."

"Forgive yourself, Master. I did a long time ago." Obi-Wan said gently. "Now, what are you cooking?"

"Who said I was cooking? I prepared dinner."

"Yes, but I'm a terrible cook."

"You'll never get better without practice."

***

Obi-Wan was preparing their breakfast, with some assistance from his master, who did not want the meal to be entirely inedible. Qui-Gon had long ago become convinced that his apprentice's inability to cook was a way of trying to avoid the task. He actually enjoyed cooking so it wasn't usually a problem, but every once in a while he forced Obi-Wan to cook. Just to remind him that one could never fully avoid unpleasant tasks.

As they carried their food to the table, Obi-Wan returned to the subject of Xanatos. "So why did Xanatos turn Master?"

"It's a long story. I'll give you the condensed version." He paused to take a bite and swallow it. "Xanatos was too old when he came to the temple. He had strong memories of his family, which was very powerful and wealthy. When given a choice between following the code or assisting his father in grabbing even more power, he chose power."

"That must have been very difficult for you."

"It was, especially since I killed his father."

"That is the reason he came after you on Bandomeer."

"Yes." Qui-Gon paused, toyed with the food on his plate. "I hated him. Hated him for turning, hated him for betraying me." He looked up. "You are the one who healed me, Obi-Wan. The one who showed me how to find strength in the light side and let the darkness of hate go."

"Glad to have been of service." Obi-Wan said lightly. He knew that Qui-Gon knew the truth, that learning he had been able to aid Qui-Gon when he needed it meant a great deal to Obi-Wan.

Taking that as a cue to change the subject. Qui-Gon asked if he had finished the last of the Herald Mage books.

"Not quite. Almost."

"Are you still enjoying them?"

Obi-Wan smiled his answer. "I find the idea of a life-bond intriguing. Someone you are fated to be with, bonded to by forces beyond your control."

"You find that romantic, Padawan? I always considered life-bonds to be one of the author's more fanciful notions." He sat back slightly in his chair, studying the man across from him. "I prefer the idea of choice myself. I want to choose the person who shares my life, not have someone else do it for me."

"So you do not believe that I was fated to be your Padawan and you my Master?"

Qui-Gon mulled it over. "Fated, no. But do I believe that the force may have taken a hand in bringing us together? Yes, I suppose I do."

"And how is that different than fate?"

"The force we are free to resist. It may encourage us in a certain direction, but I think that is more a question of exposing us to possibilities, rather than controlling our actions. We receive guidance from the force. Guidance we are free to disregard or misinterpret."

"And which do you do, Master, disregard or misinterpret?" Obi-Wan asked, teasing.

The reply was serious. "On occasion, both." Rising, Qui-Gon picked up his dishes and carried them to the sink. Obi-Wan followed him.

"What do you wish to practice today?" Qui-Gon asked as they finished the cleaning up.

"I get to choose?"

"Certainly. You've earned a reward."

"Lightsaber."

"Again, Obi-Wan?"

"Yes, Master again."

***

Qui-Gon watched his Padawan spinning through the air. He was not making any mistakes today. It was thrilling to see him fight like the Obi-Wan of old. He moved with speed, parrying blasts from the three remotes he was battling with ease. Smiling, Qui-Gon raised a hand and the remotes stilled. Igniting his saber, he moved into the practice area.

"Feel up to fighting an old Jedi Master?"

"Today I feel up to anything."

Qui-Gon struck and Obi-Wan raised his blue blade to meet his master's green one. The two half glared, half smiled at each other for a moment, before pushing away. Then the battle began in earnest.

At first Obi-Wan enjoyed the contest. It felt good to move with some of his old skill, and his master was a more than worthy opponent. But as they struggled anger filled him; it was directed at Qui-Gon. He sliced at his master with a vengeance, his anger giving him strength, feeding his abilities. Even angry he was no match for Qui-Gon Jinn. Within minutes of his master becoming aware of the change in him, he was being held against a wall, beaten.

"What was that?" Qui-Gon demanded.

His anger draining rapidly away, Obi-Wan looked away. "I don't know where that came from, Master. I'm sorry."

Qui-Gon released him. "No harm done." There was no masking the concern in Qui-Gon's eyes. "But perhaps we should work on something else this afternoon."

"Yes, master." Obi-Wan answered quietly, wishing he knew what the hell had just happened.

***

Every morning Obi-Wan meditated with the stone. And every day he remembered more. With the return of his memory, his abilities improved rapidly. He should have been happy. He was remembering. He was no longer the shadow Obi-Wan, every day he got closer to once again becoming the real Obi-Wan. But he wasn't happy, he was irritable almost all of the time. Worse than the irritability were the bouts of anger, invariably directed at Qui-Gon. Obi-Wan did not understand himself. He knew he loved Qui-Gon, more than anyone else in his life. Qui-Gon had been more to him than a teacher or a friend; he was Obi-Wan's master. And Obi-Wan wanted still more of him. He wanted Qui-Gon as a lover. He was certain of this, as certain as he had ever been of anything. So why was he so angry that he sometimes felt overwhelmed by the desire to hurt his beloved Master? What, he wondered, had Qui-Gon done?

He knew his anger hurt Qui-Gon. And that saddened him. His master was more distant every day. Sometimes he shut himself off from their bond entirely, unable to bear the emotions directed at him. Obi-Wan had sought to reassure him, but found that he could not.

'Why did he have to remember?' he thought fiercely. 'Why couldn't Qui-Gon simply accept him as he was? Why wasn't he enough? Why did Qui-Gon insist on having the real Obi-Wan back? Why couldn't Qui-Gon love him as he was, without all of his memories? What was it Qui-Gon had said, that he feared he might overwhelm Obi-Wan with his memories?' That would not be so bad he decided. To have an excuse not to continue his increasingly difficult efforts to regain his memories, to return to the place he and Qui-Gon had been just a few short days ago, sounded perfect to him.

These thoughts foremost in his mind, he went in search of Qui-Gon.

***

"Master?" Obi-Wan asked softly from the doorway of his Master's quarters.

Qui-Gon was sitting on the bed, reading. He set the viewer aside. "Yes, Padawan?"

"May I speak with you for a moment?"

"Anytime you wish, Obi-Wan. You know that."

Obi-Wan entered the room and sat on the edge of the bed. "I've been thinking perhaps it would be better if I just accepted things as they are and stopped trying to remember."

Qui-Gon did not respond, just looked at him, his expression unreadable.

Feeling the need to explain, Obi-Wan plunged on. "This anger. I think that it is my mind telling me not to push it. Obviously some part of me felt I was better off not knowing," he paused, "something. Why not just accept that?"

"You can, Obi-Wan, if that is what you truly want." Qui-Gon answered, his voice carefully neutral. Obi-Wan was not fooled. Obi-Wan knew such a choice would be a disappointment to Qui-Gon and the thought angered him. Qui-Gon continued, "Only you can discover what is hidden in your mind. The choice is yours alone."

"You would think of less of me, though. Admit it."

"As I said, Padawan, the choice is yours. I will respect that choice and your right to make it."

"You're being evasive." There was an all too familiar edge to Obi-Wan's voice.

"Fine. "Qui-Gon snapped. The last few days had tried Qui-Gon's patience, even a Jedi Master had limits. He was frustrated and annoyed with Obi-Wan, with his anger and petulance, and his self-indulgent refusal to get control of his emotions. Now this. "Do you truly wish to know what I think? I think that this talk of accepting your memory loss is unworthy of you."

"Unworthy." Obi-Wan repeated.

"Yes."

"I see, " Obi-Wan said slowly. "Tell me master, am I really so unlovable? Is that other Obi-Wan, the real Obi-Wan so much better than I am?" Obi-Wan's eyes were snapping dangerously. "Maybe you should take what you can get. After all that Obi-Wan may not love you. With all of my memories back, I may not love you."

"Get your memories back, Obi-Wan and stop loving me. I find that I do not wish the love of a petulant, self-indulgent child. the man I love is a Jedi, not someone so lacking in courage he is afraid to look in his own mind. Not someone unable or unwilling to control his own emotions."

"Control," Obi-Wan snorted. "You're good at that. Maybe that's why you want the real Obi-Wan back. He's easier to control."

"I don't need to control the real Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon shot back. "He can control himself."

"So you really want him back. Be careful what you wish for Master. After all when I remember I'll know what it was you did to me to make me like this. How will you feel then? When any chance for my love is gone?"

Qui-Gon stared at him, struggling to control his own rage. "So, you believe this is my fault? That I injured you in some way?" Leaning close to Obi-Wan, he spoke, his voice crackling with danger, "Before this moment I would have believed myself utterly incapable of hurting you. Now, I want to." Qui-Gon sat back. "Go Obi-Wan. Get out of my sight."

***

Obi-Wan seethed. He stalked about his room, wanting to lash out at someone, but he had enough sense of self-preservation not to resume the confrontation with his Master. He was being childish and he knew it. He was allowing himself to be controlled by his anger, and if he were honest with himself, his fear. He was afraid of whatever secret it was his mind held. And he was angry with Qui-Gon for wanting him to remember. Not only that. He had come to believe that the secret in his mind was directly connected to his master and was the greater cause of his anger with Qui-Gon.

Qui-Gon was right. He was behaving like a petulant child. But damn it, didn't he have the right to behave anyway he chose?

He'd been injured, robbed of his memories, his skills…He let out the breath he had been holding. He was doing it again, thinking like a self-indulgent child. He may have been injured, and he may not be the real Obi-Wan, but he was still a Jedi. Perhaps it was time he began to act like one.

Extracting the stone from his pocket, he sank to the floor in meditation pose.

***

Qui-Gon was also in a meditation pose. But his meditation was not going well. He was still angry and his anger was interfering with his ability to focus. 'How,' he wondered, 'could Obi-Wan with partial recall be a complete stranger, less like his Obi-Wan than he had been when he had no memories at all? and how could he be so damned infuriating?' He was actually angrier with Obi-Wan than he had ever been with Xanatos, and that frightened him. He had felt truly capable of injuring Obi-Wan. There was no denying the passion Obi-Wan ignited in him, not necessarily a good thing in this case. Obi-Wan got past his defenses, ruffled his calm, challenged his control. Perhaps any relationship between them other than Master and Apprentice was not such a good idea after all. He sighed and resumed trying to calm his mind, to focus his attention.

NO! The scream and the anguish which accompanied it, poured through him. Shattering glass. Obi-Wan. Qui-Gon ran, reaching out for Obi-Wan with the force.

***

Obi-Wan was sitting on the floor of his quarters. Knees drawn up, arms tight around them. He was rocking back and forth, tears flowing down his face. The window a few feet in front of him was shattered. Qui-Gon flew to Obi-Wan's side and pulled him into his arms. Holding Obi-Wan tightly he rocked him and made soothing noises.

At last Obi-Wan calmed somewhat. "Whatever it is, Padawan, we'll face it together. Just as we always have."

Obi-Wan pulled away from him. He looked at his master through eyes made puffy by tears. "No we won't, Master. You won't be there." He stopped for a moment, then said, in a barely audible voice, "You'll be dead."

Qui-Gon's confusion was evident in his face.

"I remembered. During the battle I had a vision. Why it happened during a battle I don't know. It makes no sense. But when I saw you deflecting a blow from that slaver, I had a vision of you fighting another. He had a lightsaber; it went through you, a killing blow."

"Obi-Wan,"

Qui-Gon said softly reaching for him.

Obi-Wan knew what his master was thinking, that the future was always in motion. But this was a certainty, he knew it. "It was a true vision, master. I saw your death."

"This is what you chose not to remember?" Qui-Gon asked.

Obi-Wan nodded. "Padawan, love, master's should die before their apprentices. I'm two decades your senior. I should die first."

"This isn't that far away, master. A year, maybe two. And then you'll be gone." Obi-Wan's eyes began to tear again. Don't you dare tell me there is no death, only the force.

"I won't." Qui-Gon replied aloud. He was at a loss. The depth of his Padawan's devastation shook him. Qui-Gon had no idea how to comfort him, how to ease his pain. And he was still here. What would Obi-Wan be like when he was truly gone?

Obi-Wan stood, walking toward the bathroom. "I need to wash up."

Qui-Gon merely nodded, watching him. Obi-Wan had chosen to forget everything rather than face losing him. This was not good. He needed to find a way to convince Obi-Wan that he could survive on his own, that life without him would still be worth living.

"If you say so Master. I find it hard to believe, however." Obi-Wan had reentered the room.

Qui-Gon looked up at him, knowing that Obi-Wan had answered his unspoken thought.

Qui-Gon rose and went to him. "It will be, Padawan." Qui-Gon's fear and worry filled the room. He wanted to force Obi-Wan to promise him that he would go on living, that he would not attempt to follow his master when the time came.

Obi-Wan knew what his master needed. He needed Obi-Wan to reassure him, to tell him that he was strong enough to live through what was coming. Putting a confidence into his voice that he did not feel, Obi-Wan said what he knew he had to. "I will find a way Qui-Gon. I have time to prepare." His voice trailed off. He looked into his master's eyes, giving him the promise he knew Qui-Gon could not ask for, "I will not seek to follow you into death. To do so would be a betrayal, of you and of myself. I will be a Jedi Knight, Master. One you will be proud of."

"I have no doubt of that Padawan." Qui-Gon's voice was tight, choked.

Qui-Gon reached up, ran his fingers down the side of Obi-Wan's face. Obi-Wan took a step forward, into Qui-Gon's arms. Their lips met in a desperate kiss. Obi-Wan clung to his master, wanting to remember every touch of their lips, to engrave it in his mind, a cherished memory to ease the inevitable grief.

Qui-Gon pulled back, ending the kiss. "This moment, Obi-Wan, focus on this moment."

Obi-Wan nodded. "I will." But his eyes were filling with tears.

"Oh, love." Qui-Gon's voice was soft. He gently brushed away a tear. Then kissed away several more.

"Stay here, tonight."

Qui-Gon pulled Obi-Wan tight against him, "Tonight and every night. I won't waste a single one, I promise you that Obi-Wan."

Obi-Wan looked up at him, a hint of a smile about his lips. "I intend to see that you keep that promise, Master." Wrapping his arms around Qui-Gon's neck, he pulled him down for a kiss. This one was gentler, less desperate. The tension began to leave Obi-Wan and he leaned into his master, letting Qui-Gon's strength enfold him. His fear and grief started to recede, replaced by desire, ignited by the feel of Qui-Gon's lips on his, Qui-Gon's tongue exploring his mouth. They kissed until they were both so aroused that they could no longer deny the urge to go further.

Stepping out of Qui-Gon's embrace, Obi-Wan took his hand and led him to the bed. Standing beside it, he reached out and undid his master's belt and sash. Then he opened his tunic and pushed it off of his shoulders. He had seen his master's bare chest and shoulders on countless occasions, even touched them, usually to help tend a wound. Always before he had squelched his body's response to the sight, but not tonight. Reaching up with both hands he placed them on the edge of Qui-Gon's shoulders and stroked toward his neck, then down his chest. Hard muscle and warm skin, under his fingertips. Qui-Gon's scent, the sound of his rapid breathing, filled Obi-Wan's senses. He felt like every fantasy he had ever had was coming true. All thoughts of losing Qui-Gon vanished as he focused entirely on the moment, on the undeniable reality of Qui-Gon under his hands.

"Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon said softly.

Obi-Wan raised his eyes from his master's chest to his face, his mouth opening in a delighted, shy smile. "Obi-Wan," he repeated, his hand stroking from Obi-Wan's face, down his neck and chest to his belt. He began to undo the belt.

"Yes, Master?"

Qui-Gon shook his head slightly, "I just like saying your name."

Obi-Wan laughed softly, "And I like hearing you say it, Qui-Gon."

"I told you that you saved my name for special occasions."

"Ummm," Obi-Wan responded. Qui-Gon had skillfully removed his belt and sash. Obi-Wan's tunic dropped to the floor and it was Qui-Gon's turn to explore. Callused fingers ran up his sides, stroking over his ribs, then across his chest. Obi-Wan reached up and wrapped his arms around Qui-Gon's neck pulling him down for a kiss. He pressed himself fully against Qui-Gon, savoring the feel of flesh against flesh.

The longing he felt in that kiss reminded Obi-Wan of their first kiss, the one they exchanged in the forest. This time he felt an echoing longing in himself. Not breaking the kiss he sat on the bed and, lying back, pulled Qui-Gon with him, on top of him. Qui-Gon pressed him into the bed and Obi-Wan could feel Qui-Gon's erection pressing into him, not far from his own. He wrapped his legs around Qui-Gon's and started pushing himself against his master, using his body to stroke his master's erection through his clothing.

Qui-Gon broke the kiss and moved to Obi-Wan's neck. He skillfully nibbled at the same spot he had a few days earlier. Obi-Wan tangled his hands in Qui-Gon's hair, moaning his name.

Qui-Gon's mouth returned briefly to his apprentice's lips before moving lower, to the hollow at the base of his throat, and then to his chest. The tip of Qui-Gon's tongue connected with a nipple, very lightly. Obi-Wan gasped. Another lick, firmer this time. Again. Fingertips replaced the tongue, stroking hardened flesh. Then the mouth returned, covering his nipple and sucking with increasing firmness. Obi-Wan arched his back, wanting more of himself in that mouth. Pleased with the reaction he was getting, Qui-Gon shifted his attention to the other side. He continued his ministrations until Obi-Wan's hands pulled him upward.

Obi-Wan's mouth locked on his. His Padawan's tongue entered his mouth. The kiss was demanding, forceful. Qui-Gon surrendered to that kiss, not resisting when Obi-Wan reversed their positions, rolling Qui-Gon onto his back.

Kneeling over his master, Obi-Wan examined his prize. His master's handsome face was flushed with desire. He looked vulnerable, exposed. Obi-Wan thought he had never looked more beautiful. There was only one thing wrong. His master was overdressed.

Obi-Wan leaned forward to repeat the caressed he had received. He kissed Qui-Gon's neck, sucking and nipping. Then he moved downward. His master's nipples were darker than his and slightly larger. Unconsciously he licked his lips before leaning forward to take one into his mouth. Qui-Gon exhaled sharply, "Obi-Wan."

Yes, Master?

Don't stop.

I believe I'll have to eventually. Unless you wish to keep your pants on all night?

Okay, stop.

Obi-Wan relinquished his prize, chuckling softly. "Yes, Master."

Swiftly he moved lower, undoing the fastenings of Qui-Gon's pants. Qui-Gon lifted his hips to assist with their removal. Then watched with approval as Obi-Wan removed his own before rejoining his master on the bed. Obi-Wan stretched out next to Qui-Gon who rolled onto his side to face him. Smiling, Qui-Gon ran his hand up Obi-Wan's thigh, over his hips. "What do you want, love?" he asked, quietly.

Obi-Wan returned his master's smile. There was no need to even consider the possibilities. He knew exactly what he wanted. "You. Inside me."

"You're certain?"

Obi-Wan nodded. "Unless there is something you would like more?"

Qui-Gon's voice was low, lust-filled, "No, there is nothing I would like more."

Reaching out with the force, Obi-Wan retrieved a bottle from the bathroom and handed it to Qui-Gon. "Impatient as always," Qui-Gon observed affectionately.

"Just prepared, Master. Shouldn't a Jedi always be prepared?"

"Indeed." Qui-Gon gently pushed Obi-Wan onto his back and lying next to him, resumed kissing him. He placed the bottle on the bed and began caressing the young man in his arms. He reached out with the force, his awareness flowing along their bond. Obi-Wan opened his mind to Qui-Gon, lowering shields and inviting his master into his mind. Obi-Wan trembled as the mental sharing increased his desire to a level he would not have thought possible. He could sense Qui-Gon's thoughts, and more importantly, his feelings. Qui-Gon's arousal, his love, his need for Obi-Wan, were all felt by his apprentice. Obi-Wan tensed slightly in anticipation as Qui-Gon's hand left him to retrieve and open the bottle. Then he felt a lubricated finger, moving around the edge of his anus.

"Obi-Wan."

He turned his head to look directly into his Master's electric blue eyes. "You've never done this before. Are you truly sure you want to now? There are other things we can do."

In response Obi-Wan sent him the image, the thought, which most aroused him, that of Qui-Gon fucking him. His legs on Qui-Gon's shoulders, Qui-Gon's hands digging into his hips…

"If this hurts, even a little, I stop."

Obi-Wan nodded. Then arched as Qui-Gon's finger pushed into him. He gasped as it brushed his prostate, began moving slowly in and out. He willed himself to relax, wanting to open himself completely to his master, to Qui-Gon. Within a few minutes a second finger followed the first. Obi-Wan's head was arched back, his mouth open, his breathing rapid. The sight of his naked and thoroughly aroused apprentice was almost too much for Qui-Gon. He added a third finger, was grateful when Obi-Wan accepted it eagerly.

Please Qui-Gon. I want you. Not fingers. You.

Qui-Gon withdrew his fingers and oiled his cock. Positioning himself between Obi-Wan's legs, he drew them up onto his shoulders, stroking each one as he did so. Then he looked down at Obi-Wan. He had imagined this countless times, but the reality was so much better. Obi-Wan was so beautiful, want and need showing in every muscle. Positioning himself, he slid slowly forward. He stopped with just the head inside, allowing Obi-Wan's body to adjust.

For Obi-Wan there was no pain, just an intense feeling of being stretched, opened. To be open to Qui-Gon was exactly what he wanted. He willed himself to relax further, reaching out with the force he pushed himself forward, impaling himself on Qui-Gon's cock.

Qui-Gon gasped at the sudden sensation, as Obi-Wan's unexpected movement buried his cock fully in the young man beneath him. He leaned forward, one arm resting on either side of Obi-Wan's head and kissed him, wildly. Obi-Wan responded in kind. His tongue moved frantically in Qui-Gon's mouth. His hands moved rapidly over Qui-Gon's back, shoulders, sides, arms, any part of Qui-Gon that Obi-Wan could reach.

Qui-Gon broke the kiss and sat back. Very deliberately he placed his hands on Obi-Wan's hips. Looking directly at Obi-Wan, he began to move slowly back and forth. Obi-Wan moaned his name. Qui-Gon thrilled at the sound and at the intensity of Obi-Wan's gaze. He could sense Obi-Wan's escalating arousal, knew he would come in a few more strokes. He increased his pace in response, seeking to give Obi-Wan the stimulation he was craving. Then it happened. Obi-Wan came. His entire body trembled as his cock jerked repeatedly, his fluids spurting into the air. 'He's so beautiful,' Qui-Gon thought before his own consciousness was shattered.

Qui-Gon opened his eyes. Obi-Wan was grinning at him. Carefully he withdrew from Obi-Wan's body, then moved up beside him, pulling Obi-Wan close to him. "Pleased with yourself, are you?"

Obi-Wan laughed. "Yes. I'm even more pleased with you."

Qui-Gon chuckled in response, "Glad to know I didn't disappoint." He lightly kissed the side of Obi-Wan's neck.

"How did you know that I had never done this before?"

"I saw it in your mind."

"Ahh." Obi-Wan paused for a moment. Then continued, "There were women, but I couldn't bring myself to be with a man other than you. I tried a couple of times, but it just didn't feel right."

"I am honored you waited for me," Qui-Gon said, his voice only half-teasing. "And amazed at your patience."

"Very funny."

He ran his fingers through Qui-Gon's hair, which was now half-in and half-out of the tie. It looked silly, and endearing. "If I had known all I had to do was lose my memory in order to get you to confess your undying love for me I'd have done it sooner."

"You could have mentioned your feelings."

Obi-Wan shook his head. "And risk losing you as my Master?"

"You would not have lost me as your Master."

"I know that, now. But then I wasn't so sure." He looked sternly at Qui-Gon. "Why didn't you say something sooner?"

"I did not want to take advantage of you, to abuse your loyalty or your trust. In a way I believed that I had betrayed you. I was supposed to be your teacher, not a dirty old man lusting after an apprentice half his age."

"Hmmm. Qui-Gon Jinn, dirty old man. It has a certain ring." He was hit with a pillow.

Seizing the pillow, he pulled it from Qui-Gon's hands. Leaning forward he kissed his master, softly, gently, but with a clear invitation. None of that matters now.

I know.

Breaking the kiss, Obi-Wan moved to the edge of the bed. "I need a shower. Care to join me?"

Qui-Gon reached the shower ahead of him.

***

Hours later, Qui-Gon lay awake, cradling a sleeping Obi-Wan in his arms. He was suffused with happiness and worry. To be able to share his feelings for Obi-Wan, to have them returned, was everything he could imagine wanting. But he feared for Obi-Wan. Was this the right thing, or had he simply made it more difficult for Obi-Wan to face what they both knew was coming? His death. Qui-Gon was a Jedi Master, death did not particularly frighten him, but his heart caught at the thought of leaving Obi-Wan. Had he done the right thing? Would their becoming lovers strengthen or weaken Obi-Wan when the time came. He had to believe it would strengthen him, that knowing how much Qui-Gon had loved him, trusted him, respected him, would give him confidence. That memories of nights like this one would be a source of comfort, not cause greater pain. Inhaling deeply, Qui-Gon released his fear with his exhalation, letting the force take it. He closed his eyes. His last thought before sleep overtook him was, 'Stefen survived the loss of Vanyel.'

***

Additional disclaimer: Vanyel, Stefen, and Yfandes are the property of Mercedes Lackey and DAW books. No profit was made from their use in this story.