Qui-Gon took a deep breath, before sitting next to Obi-Wan on the bed. He started to speak, but closed his mouth, suddenly unsure what to say.

Deciding on the direct approach, he finally said, "I love you, my Obi-Wan."

Obi-Wan's eyes widened, and for a moment he simply stared at his Master. "You . . . You love me?"

Qui-Gon nodded, smiling at the play of emotions across Obi-Wan's face. He took Obi-Wan's face in between his hands. "I love you," he repeated.

Taking one of Qui-Gon's hands in his own, Obi-Wan looked at the joined fingers. "I never thought you could."

"That I could never love you?" Qui-Gon asked, tracing the cleft in Obi-Wan's chin with a single fingertip. "Every day I look upon a beauty and a spirit that eclipses all those around it. Imagine my surprise when I realized that it was you who loved me."

Qui-Gon brought Obi-Wan's hand to his lips, and kissed the finger tips lightly. "I. Love. You."

Smiling, Obi-Wan nodded. "I love you, too."

The Jedi Master pulled Obi-Wan into an embrace, resting his chin on the top of Obi-Wan's head. "You gave me back my life when I had no use for it," he said quietly.

Obi-Wan wrapped his arms around Qui-Gon's chest, snuggling his cheek into the warmth he found there. "I did nothing so special," he murmured against his chest.

A hand stroked Obi-Wan's hair for a moment before Qui-Gon leaned back, so he could see Obi-Wan's face. "Everything about you is special."

"Master . . . Qui-Gon, I . . ."

His protest was silenced when Qui-Gon covered Obi-Wan's lips with his own. Obi-Wan sighed into the kiss, and when it ended, he leaned back.

"You love me," he whispered, tracing a fingertip along Qui-Gon's eyebrow.

Qui-Gon smiled and kissed Obi-Wan tenderly. Holding Obi-Wan's face between his hands, he moved so that their foreheads were pressed together and whispered, "Always."

the end

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