Qui-Gon felt all the air rush out of his body when he saw Obi-Wan's grip slip. His first instinct was to rush forward, but he felt Obi-Wan wrap the Force around himself, regaining his purchase on the rings. When Obi-Wan carried onward, Qui-Gon took a shakey breath and shook his head slowly. He had come to the conclusion early in his apprenticeship that Obi-Wan was destined to one day literally scare him to death with any variety of stunt.
Qui-Gon choose to remain silent while Obi-Wan finished the excercise, rather than risk another slip. A few moments later his patience was rewarded when Obi-Wan climbed down from the rings.
He watched as Obi-Wan walked over to the far wall and retrieved his tunic. Qui-Gon closed his eyes briefly rather than watch the play of light on Obi-Wan's sweat slickened chest.
Obi-Wan's eyes didn't leave his Master as he walked across the room toward him. When he was standing in front of him, he took a steadying breath. "Why won't you talk to me?" he asked again, as determined as ever to gain an answer.
Qui-Gon shook his head. "I have asked you the same, my Padawan. In my case, I cannot."
Watching as the elder Jedi spoke, Obi-Wan tilted his head to the side. He tried to read the other man, but with both of their shields raised, he could not. Instead, he stared into Qui-Gon's eyes, searching for the truth there.
"Can't, or won't, Master?"
Qui-Gon shook his head again, and Obi-Wan fought the urge to sigh. "I cannot, my Padawan."
Jerking his tunic over his head, he ran a hand through his damp hair. Obi-Wan reminded himself that only hours before he had been seeking council on being in love with the hopelessly infuriating man in front of him. That was quickly followed by the silent admission that this stubbornness was one of the traits he loved in him.
Obi-Wan rested his hands on his hips, and kept searching his Master's face. There was something going on he couldn't see, he was sure of it. All that was remained was to find out what. "Why can't you tell me?"
Qui-Gon's heart clenched at the soft-spoken question. "There are rules, Obi-Wan."
Obi-Wan laughed softly. "Since when have you been one to cling to every rule that comes along?"
The Jedi Master smiled, many times he could not contest the content of his student's question. "This time I must."
He watched as Obi-Wan processed the information, his forehead scrunching just slightly as it always did when he was concentrating. "I don't understand. What could you possibly not be allowed to tell me about, that obviously we are allowed to discuss otherwise?"
Qui-Gon smiled at the leap in logic. "We are allowed to discuss it, yes." He paused, trying to read what Obi-Wan was thinking, but unable to do so. It was enough of a challenge keeping his own emotions behind his shields. "But I am not allowed to broach the subject, no."
Obi-Wan began to pace, his arms swinging at his sides. "I don't understand what . . ." He paused in mid-statement and turned to look at his Master. "Oh."
Qui-Gon had his hands folded in front of him, and Obi-Wan knew that he was waiting for him to continue. When he didn't right away, Qui-Gon repeated, "Oh?"
Swallowing nervously, Obi-Wan nodded. "I thought of something that it might be." His words were slowly spoken. Obi-Wan closed his eyes, wishing on the skies above that he not be wrong. If he were, the results could be disasterous.
Qui-Gon stood still, determined to out-wait his Padawan, no matter how nervous the silence was making him. He watched Obi-Wan's face, as countless expressions crossing his features. Qui-Gon had to force himself to breathe, during their argument he had never stopped to consider that Obi-Wan might not return his feelings.
The Master knew that Obi-Wan had gone to speak to Yoda, but his teacher had not betrayed the confidence of that meeting. The longer Obi-Wan was silent, the more concerned Qui-Gon became that he had misread the situation. The possibility that Obi-Wan didn't feel the same churned slowly in his chest until it began to ache.
Although he was lost in his own thoughts for the moment, Obi-Wan didn't miss the fleeting emotions that crossed Qui-Gon's face. He hated the pained look that settled in his eyes, and knew that his guess was right.
He swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry. He looked away for a moment, before meeting Qui-Gon's gaze again.
"I love you." Obi-Wan's voice was so low, that he wondered if Qui-Gon would even be able to hear. All he could do then, he realized, was wait for Qui-Gon's reaction.
The Jedi Master blinked as Obi-Wan's soft-spoken words settled into his brain. He found he couldn't speak, and instead simply smiled. The confused crease was back on his Padawan's forehead, and he raised his hand to cup Obi-Wan's cheek. Rubbing his thumb across Obi-Wan's cheekbone, he finally found his voice.
"I love you, too, my Obi-Wan."
Obi-Wan blinked. "I didn't know if you might possibly . . ."
Qui-Gon shook his head, his thumb still brushing the soft skin. He smiled faintly. "That was supposed to be my question."
Before Obi-Wan could say anything, he leaned forward, and pressed his lips to Obi-Wan's. He felt the tension slowly drain out of both of them. Obi-Wan's mouth was responsive under his, and the kiss continued for several long moments. When it ended, Qui-Gon rested his forehead on Obi-Wan's, his eyes still closed.
Qui-Gon laughed, a low rumble deep in his chest as they spoke simultaneously. He dropped his hand to run his fingers along Obi-Wan's braid.
"Let's go home."
Qui-Gon smiled when Obi-Wan nodded in reply. "I'd like that." The Jedi Master was surprised for a moment when he felt Obi-Wan take his hand. Obi-Wan tugged slightly on his hand, and smiled. There was a bright spark in his Padawan's eyes, right before he turned to leave the training room. "Shall we go then?"
Qui-Gon smiled. "Lead the way, my love, and I shall follow."
Obi-Wan paused, and turned back to his Master. "My love?"
Qui-Gon nodded. "Unless you'd rather I didn't . . ."
"No," Obi-Wan said, smiling at Qui-Gon's hesitant reaction. Reaching his free hand up, he placed a single finger over Qui-Gon's lips when he started to reply. "I like it. I just never expected it."
He smiled when Qui-Gon laughed and pulled him into an embrace. "Then get used to it, my Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon whispered into his ear, "for I plan to be around to say it for a long time."
Obi-Wan shivered, but forced himself to break away from the embrace. He tilted his head toward the door and repeated Qui-Gon's earlier sentiment. "Let's go home."
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