Still uncertain, Obi-Wan stood his ground. Qui-Gon walked over, almost hesitantly. Glancing at the others in the corridor, Qui-Gon lowered his voice. "May we speak in private, Obi-Wan?"

Obi-Wan searched Qui-Gon's eyes, looking for some clue as to what he might be thinking. Licking his lips nervously, he nodded. The class he should be attending was the last thing on his mind.

Following his master, just one step behind and to the right, he was silent until they approached their once-shared quarters. He paused at the doorway, whlie Qui-Gon went in and then turned to him expectantly. Shaking his head, he forced himself to follow.

Once inside, the silence was thick. Obi-Wan avoided Qui-Gon's gaze, and the master looked as close to unsettled as he had ever seen him.

Finally, the silence was too much. "You asked to speak with me, Master?" Obi-Wan tilted his head up, meeting the other man's gaze head on.

Qui-Gon nodded. "Yes, my Padawan. I have been thinking, meditating. The recent weeks almost alone have left me ample time for both."

Obi-Wan tried not to wince, but couldn't help the surge of hope that began to burn in his heart. When he didn't speak, Qui-Gon continued.

"It would appear that I have been," he paused, Obi-Wan couldn't help but think he looked as if he had a lump in his throat. "Wrong, Obi-Wan. I do believe I was wrong in my rejection of you."

A smile broke on Obi-Wan's face, and he felt as if his cheeks were on fire. "Master . . ."

Before he could finish, he was cut off by Qui-Gon waving his hand absent-mindedly. "It is of no consequence now, of course. I must admit, your choice of partners surprised me, Obi-Wan."

Obi-Wan shook his head, his smile not fading. When Qui-Gon wouldn't look at him, he grabbed the other man's hand. "You're not just saying that?" A fragment of doubt broke through. "You truly believe that we could be together, as I asked?"

Qui-Gon searched his gaze, slowly lowering his shileds. Each suddenly found himself drowing in sensation too long lost. "Obi-Wan?" he asked in a hoarse whisper.

The young man nodded, unexpected mositure burning the back of his eyes. "You never lost me, Master. I only worried I had lost you."

Qui-Gon shook his head, his eyes cloudy with emotion. "Never. I am sorry..."

Shaking his head, Obi-Wan place a finger over Qui-Gon's mouth, his eyes soft. "No apologies."

They were both silent then, their mouths meeting in a kiss of new beginnings.

the end
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