Qui-Gon wondered where Obi-Wan might have gone. Probably to find Master Epergene, the creche-robbing poor excuse for a Jedi. That man had no self control, and no business being allowed around padawans. Why, he was old enough to be Obi-Wan's Master.

*Or his lover,* a voice inside him chided.

No. "No," he said aloud, adding the emphasis of his voice to comfort himself. But it didn't work. His mind conjured up images of Obi-Wan, kissing Epergene, their arms wrapped around each other. And other, more intimate images, Obi-Wan, between Epergene's legs, his head moving up and down as he--

"No!" That image had to go. It wasn't right. It was absurd really. Epergene, in that position, with Obi-Wan--it shouldn't be.

*It should be you,* the voice whispered.

Qui-Gon shook his head mutely. He shouldn't even think that. Obi-Wan was too young.

Even as he tried to tell himself that, the image came back to him, only this time, it was Qui-Gon's legs that Obi-Wan hovered over. The Jedi master covered his mouth on a groan, the image enough to arouse him almost to pain. Force! He'd wanted Obi-Wan all along, and he had been too blind to see it.

He raced out the door back toward the dance, catching up with his apprentice just before he reached the party room. "Obi-Wan!"

His padawan turned, eyes narrowed. "Come to order me to go back to my room like a good little boy?"

"Not exactly."

"What then?" Obi-Wan had clearly lost his patience with his master.

Qui-Gon looked around, spotted an open room, and dragged his apprentice by the arm through the door, shutting it behind them. "I came to tell you that I was a fool."

"What?" The deadpan tone would have been funny under other circumstances. "Excuse me...I meant...*what?*"

The words came tumbling in a rush out as if Qui-Gon were afraid he might not have the nerve to say them if he waited. "I thought you were too young when all along I was just telling myself that because it was easier."

"I don't understand."

Taking a deep breath, Qui-Gon forced himself to slow down. "You were right. I was lying to myself. As long as I saw you as someone too young for me, I didn't have to worry about rejection, or losing you."

"And you just suddenly realized this?"

He nodded. "I'm sorry.

Obi-Wan shook his head. "I don't know whether to kiss you or storm off."

"Do I get a choice in that?" Qui-Gon said with a small smile.

"No." He ran his hand through his hair. "Well...you were man enough to admit you were wrong...." A small smile appeared on his face. "I *suppose* that makes you mature enough for me...."

Hope surged inside Qui-Gon. "So we're okay?"

"We'd be a lot better if you'd kiss me."

How could he argue with that kind of logic? Smiling, Qui-Gon did as Obi-Wan asked.

the end

Return to Beginning