Obi-Wan continued forward, leaving Qui-Gon to watch and hope that whatever he might see while there wouldn't drive his Padawan away from him forever. A lifetime's failings and dashed dreams lay behind the shimmering white curtain, usually buried far behind his shields. He wondered briefly how Obi-Wan had managed to get so far, even with many of his shields lowered. Yet at the same time, knew that the bond between Obi-Wan and himself had defied logic or explanation at other times in the past, this was just one more.

He was surprised then when suddenly Obi-Wan turned away, moving backward along their bond to the red sphere that Qui-Gon had intended for him to see.

*

Obi-Wan felt compelled to examine whatever lay within the white light, and pressed onward. However, while he did so, he could easily read a simmering distress within his Master. Fighting the pull that longed for him to learn more, he turned away from the unanswered questions.

Instead, he chose to seek the answers that he was supposed to find. He knew that being inside of the elder Jedi's mind was a gift, not to be exploited. Secrets, such as he could feel lay behind the veil -- were they meant to be shared -- would be, in time.

Touching his mind to the red sphere, Obi-Wan recognized the feelings that his Master had harbored, so similar to his own. Breaking free of Qui-Gon's mind, he opened his eyes and smiled at the apprehensive Jedi before him.

Wanting to free his Master of the worry that he could feel within him, Obi-Wan took a deep breath and steeled his courage. Leaning forward, he pressed his lips to Qui-Gon's. He felt his Master's initial surprise at the contact, as well as when it faded, allowing the hungry kiss to deepen.

Obi-Wan moved forward, falling into Qui-Gon's embrace, wrapping the other man's arms around his waist, without breaking the kiss. His own arms wrapped around Qui-Gon's neck, his hand tangling in the long hair that fell there.

When the kiss ended, Obi-Wan pulled back just far enough to look in Qui-Gon's eyes. "I never thought I'd get to do that," he said, smiling while trying to catch his breath.

Qui-Gon laughed. "I was beginning to worry you never would."

Obi-Wan pressed his forehead against his Master's. "Thank you."

He felt Qui-Gon shake his head. "Whatever for, my Obi-Wan?"

He traced Qui-Gon's cheek lightly with the back of one hand. "For trusting me." Obi-Wan smiled and tapped him lightly on the temple. "Even when I was getting lost inside here."

"I will show you," Qui-Gon replied. "Someday."

Obi-Wan nodded. What he had caught a glimpse of inside his Master didn't cause the unease his obvious distress of earlier had. "I know." He whispered the words, knowing no greater volume was needed.

"Thank you as well, Padawan."

Obi-Wan leaned back, shaking his head in confusion. "Master?"

*

Qui-Gon smiled, unable to tear his gaze away from Obi-Wan's expressive blue-green eyes. He laid a hand over Obi-Wan's heart. "For trusting me with this."

"You've had that for a very long time, beloved."

The Master smiled, pulling Obi-Wan into a tight embrace. He pressed a kiss to the side of Obi-Wan's face. "As you've had mine."

*

Obi-Wan sighed. "What do we do now?" He watched the conflicting emotions play across his Master's face, and he knew. "You think we should wait."

He was surprised when Qui-Gon didn't answer right away. "Master?"

"The Council will not approve. At least not yet."

"Damn the Council, Qui-Gon!" Obi-Wan stood quickly, pacing. "For matters of state far and wide you say to the hells with the Council." Obi-Wan turned to stare at his Master. His voice was low, realizing. "But not for me."

Qui-Gon shook his head. "It isn't like that, Obi-Wan, and you know it." Obi-Wan easily recognized the Master-tone of his voice.

Obi-Wan shook his head. "No, I don't know that. One moment you're declaring some kind of love for me. The next you're denying it. I grow tired of playing games, Qui-Gon." Obi-Wan stopped pacing, his hands forming fists at his sides. "I'm not a toy for you to amuse yourself with. Neither will I dangle on a chain for you forever."

*

"Nor have I asked you to," Qui-Gon said, leaving his chair. He was confused how things had changed so quickly, become quite the opposite of what they had been mere moments before.

He watched as Obi-Wan's eyes grew cold. "Then I think you have a decision to make. Love me like you say you do, like you showed me you do." A flicker of desperate hope shone in his apprentice's eyes for a moment. His voice lowered, the fire burning out. "Or let me go."

Qui-Gon coughed, emotion catching in his throat. "I can't."

"You can't what, Master?" Obi-Wan shook his head, and turned his gaze to the window. "You can't love me, or let me go?"

Qui-Gon silently willed for Obi-Wan to meet his gaze. When he didn't, Qui-Gon moved to stand before him, his hands held out open. "I cannot let you go, but neither will I risk your future for myself."

"And my wishes? Do they matter?" Cool eyes met Qui-Gon's gaze, and he shivered.

Qui-Gon closed his eyes. "Always."

"Then don't deny me now, Qui-Gon. I'm not a child, not even in the eyes of the Council. I know what I want. Who I want." Obi-Wan paused, and Qui-Gon's breath caught when Obi-Wan touched his cheek. "I want you. Damn the Code."

Qui-Gon couldn't help but smile. "You are far too willful, my Obi-Wan."

*

Obi-Wan smiled in return, the ice that was around his heart thawing. "I like to believe I've gained a great deal of knowledge from my teacher. His stubbornness, I fear, among them."

"The Council will not approve," Qui-Gon replied, a hint of laughter in his eyes.

In return, Obi-Wan laughed out-right. "The council does not approve of a great many things." He paused, a corner of his mouth lifting in a slow smile. "Many of them their own bloody fault."

Obi-Wan watched as Qui-Gon shook his head, but at the same time could feel a caress of love along their bond. "It will not be easy, my Obi-Wan."

"Since when has anything been easy?"

"Never, it would appear."

Obi-Wan smiled. "Then I would sincerely hate to start now."

The End

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