Qui-Gon nodded. "So you did, Obi-Wan."

He watched his Padawan for a moment as Obi-Wan relaxed his posture, letting his arms drop to his sides. Qui-Gon waited for a moment, to see if Obi-Wan would speak, but was met with silence.

"There are rules, Obi-Wan." When Obi-Wan made to speak, Qui-Gon held up a hand. "Some rules even I would hope to never break, my Padawan." He couldn't help but smile just a bit, at the confused look on Obi-Wan's face. He reached out his hand, unable to resist tugging on the long plait of hair that ran down his apprentice's chest.

"Those that are there to best serve my student, for example, are best left observed." Qui-Gon moved his attention from the braid, to watch the expressions change on Obi-Wan's face as he processed what Qui-Gon was trying to tell him.

Qui-Gon knew he was, in effect, breaking the rules all the same by hinting at his thoughts. He could only hope that Obi-Wan returned his feelings. The idea that he didn't, or might request another Master, was more than the elder Jedi ever wanted to be faced with. Steeling his infamous patience, he prepared to wait for whatever Obi-Wan might say.

*

Obi-Wan listened to what, he knew for Qui-Gon, probably amounted to a full confession. A thousand scenarios crossed his mind, anything that might possibly fit into the rule that his Master was referring to. His attention, however, was distracted by the hand that was pulling, ever so slightly, on his Padawan braid.

One thought alone kept returning to the foreground. Was it possible that Qui-Gon had feelings for him as well? Thoughts that might extend beyond those for a Padawan?

While the questions sought to give him hope, Obi-Wan found he couldn't ask them aloud. After speaking with Yoda, he was too uncertain as to what would happen, were he to confess his heart's desires.

Somehow he knew that Qui-Gon was waiting for him to say something, but his mouth was dry. The words refused to come. An icy tendril of fear snuck out to lace around his heart. He took a deep breath, forcing the emotion outward into the Force.

*

Qui-Gon felt the fear that built in his student, as well as the answering release. He was proud that Obi-Wan had so quickly let go of the negative emotion, rather than seeking to control it. He knew, however, that the silence from Obi-Wan would only continue.

"Obi-Wan."

He watched as Obi-Wan focused on his face, rather than some distant point over his shoulder. When he was sure he had his attention, Qui-Gon took one of the smaller hands in his own. Rather than speaking, he lowered his shields slowly, allowing Obi-Wan to see inside, if he so chose.

Qui-Gon felt the familiar touch of his Padawan in his mind, and let out a long breath. He realized they were quickly going past the point of no return; but rather than shy away from it, knew they must face it. They couldn't move forward, with shields and suspicions lying between them.

*

Obi-Wan closed his eyes, reaching across the now open bond between himself and his Master. He had been surprised when Qui-Gon lowered his shields, and because of this, his touch was hesitant.

Continuing farther along the bond, Obi-Wan thought he saw what he was supposed to find. A steady pulsing red glow, deep within Qui-Gon's mind.

He was just about to reach out for the glowing sphere, when his attention was grabbed by a brilliant white flash, buried far deeper inside his Master's mind. Obi-Wan was torn; the pull of the bright white area was far greater than the red that lay behind it.

Examine the red sphere.

Continue toward the bright area.