Evening Sacrifice for the Lifting of Your Hands

He was crouched behind a large outcropping of rocks that jutted out of the hillside. Panting, he tried to catch his breath as soundlessly as he could. The sound of mortar-fire was distant enough from where he hid that he did not fear being struck; he flinched at the explosions, but did not reach out with the Force to deflect the distant shells.

Once more he felt for the packet he'd strapped to his belt, double- and triple-checking that it was still there. No good to get all the way back only to find he'd lost it somewhere. But it still hung there.

Obi-Wan sighed. He wished he could have tucked it more safely inside his tunic, but the heat from his body would have ruined the sap of the Racia fern. He needed the sap very badly.

His Master needed it badly. Hit by one of the innocuously named water-bombs, Qui-Gon had suffered massive burns mere seconds after contact. The local healers had acted quickly as soon as they'd seen what Obi-Wan was bringing them, but there was little they could do while the town was under fire.

Supplies were short, and it was too dangerous to venture out into the swamps for the fragile plant that would save Qui-Gon the pain, the scarring, and the potential nerve-loss if the contact spread too far. The war had everyone huddling in town for safety; the shelling on the outlying areas and roads had yet to be turned towards the buildings.

There hadn't really been any question, for Obi-Wan. He was a trained Jedi, and, though a few years short of Knighthood, he could certainly traverse two miles of hilly woods, enter a black swamp to find a single plant, and return. The fact that the entire area up to the swamp's edge would be under heavy fire mattered little.

Qui-Gon needed this, and that was all Obi-Wan cared about. If he couldn't protect himself with the Force and find his way through the camps of soldiers and woody terrain, then what good was any of his training?

Obi-Wan waited for another barrage of mortars to still, then dashed out again. The pouch bounced against his hip as he ran. The Force did not give him a Jedi's extra speed; he was using all his concentration to form a shield around himself and guide himself back to the little town.

He knew approximately where it was, but there were also enemy forces patrolling the boundaries. He'd zig-zagged so much while avoiding them, avoiding mortars, and getting around the hills, that if he had been left to his own unassisted sense of direction, he knew he'd still be back at the swamp.

He tripped and rolled down a short incline and scrambled to a stop. His heart was pounding; another quick pat to verify the pouch was there and he was on his feet once more.

Qui-Gon would be angry with him, he knew. His Master had gone into a light trance as soon as he'd been able, confident that eventually he would heal himself -- or be taken back to the capital where the healers could work unimpeded.

But once Qui-Gon had slipped into the trance, Maya, the head healer for the tiny town, had looked at Obi-Wan gravely.

"His wounds are severe, Jedi. His trance may delay the spread of the injury, but the damage is already great. He may lose his hands entirely, if we do not get help soon."

That was all Obi-Wan had needed to hear to make his decision. Maya had been willing to tell him all she could, even finding a picture to tear out of a book for him to take to use in identifying the fern.

And now, with enough Racia to treat three times the injuries Qui-Gon had suffered, Obi-Wan was nearly there. He could feel it in the Force, the currents that told him a town was near: concentrations of living things, of mechanical things, all overlain by the dark stirring of warfare.

He would have to take down his shielding and use all his concentration to sneak past the soldiers into town. It should be easy. Just like a hundred other exercises he'd performed, both in the Temple and at Qui-Gon's side.

Never quite like this. But Obi-Wan shook his head. Thinking such things would *not* get him through to Qui-Gon. Do or do not. Doubts would never help. He had to get this plant to Qui-Gon. He didn't have a choice. He took a long, slow breath, concentrated on the Force, then ran.

It was the Force that warned him in time to duck, curling his body around the small pouch.

The explosion thundered in his head, pounding at him as the mortar struck the ground. The shock waves ran through every cell in his body, blasting into each one and tearing past, leaving Obi-Wan lying, stunned, on the ground.

When he was able to raise his head, he saw a crater. If he moved three more inches, he could fall in.

He swallowed.

His hand went first to the pouch. Still there. He hoped not damaged, but he didn't have time to check further than peeking in to see that the sap wasn't all leaking away. It wasn't.

Pushing himself to his knees, Obi-Wan felt his head ringing. His back ached, and his left arm felt decidedly odd. He stood, letting the Force flow through him and hold him upright.

He blinked and realised where he still was, then propelled himself forward, out of the open. He moved with Force-enhanced speed, no longer trying to avoid being seen by the enemy, who had evidently already spotted him.

Obi-Wan could see the town ahead of him and aimed directly for it. He soaked up the energy of the Force, letting it practically carry him on. He recognised the buildings; he'd returned to the same part of town he'd left. The same part of town the tiny hospital was, where Qui-Gon would be waiting.

Determined, he ran.

Maya was surprised, but happy, to see him. She was on her way out of the emergency treatment rooms; Obi-Wan held out the pouch to her. She took it, eyes going wide, then took him by the arm and led him inside.

He stumbled, then fell against a bed. As she helped him lie down, he let the Force go, relaxing his concentration.

And discovered he *hurt*.

He opened his mouth, and the second wave of pain hit him. His back, his arm, and his head all screamed. Maya said something, and he felt a touch at his wrist. A pressure there, then something more soothing flowed up his arm. As it filled him, the pain receded. Soon he could hear Maya talking.

"I think you'll be fine, Jedi. Tori will tend to you now. Corin has gone to tend to your Master. I will go and bring you back word of his treatment." She looked down at him, frowning slightly. "He will not be pleased if he wakes to find you injured. So lie still and let Tori do his work."

Obi-Wan didn't try to nod. He watched as she left, then he felt hands touching him gingerly. The touch roused brief flares of pain, and he decided that there were better ways to wait out the medical treatment. He closed his eyes and sought a trance.

Several hours later he opened his eyes and found his Master standing beside him. Obi-Wan yawned and started to stretch -- and found himself rather efficiently bandaged.

Qui-Gon turned his head at the movement and looked down at him.

Obi-Wan blinked, then grinned. "You're healed! You're all right?" He reached out with the Force to ensure it and found his Master beside him, battered, weak, but well.

"Yes, Padawan. I am all right." Qui-Gon's voice was soothing, soft with concern; it made Obi-Wan want to close his eyes and just listen to him speak. But then he caught the undercurrent of his Master's feelings. As he did, Qui-Gon frowned.

Obi-Wan tried not to squirm.

"Obi-Wan, there was no reason for you to go out there."

"You were hurt!" Obi-Wan protested, interrupting.

"My life was not in danger, Padawan. There was no need for you to risk yours." Qui-Gon was still frowning, only slightly, but it was more than Obi-Wan usually ever saw when he had done something wrong.

Obi-Wan started to sit up and felt dizzy. Qui-Gon caught his arm and pushed him gently back down onto the bed. But he didn't stop frowning.

"Master, I--" Obi-Wan began.

"It was not necessary, Padawan. I expect you to never do it again."

Obi-Wan gaped at him in surprise. He could feel the anger in his Master, now. Though Qui-Gon was trying to control it, it was there, roiling inside him. Obi-Wan pulled away from it as if stung. He swallowed, and tried to respond calmly. "I was told you wouldn't fully recover without the Racia."

"You were told I might lose my hands." With Qui-Gon looming over him this way, Obi-Wan felt the urge to dig himself underneath the blankets to hide. He controlled it, however, knowing he had no choice but to face his Master's reprimand. "Is that not correct, Padawan?"

It took him a moment to get the words to answer. "Yes, Master."

"My life was not in danger. No lives were in danger. There was insufficient reason to risk your own."

Obi-Wan couldn't nod, though he knew he was expected to say that he understood.

"Padawan?" his Master prompted after a moment.

Obi-Wan looked up. "But your hands! If you lost them, you wouldn't be a Jedi any longer!"

"That is not true," Qui-Gon corrected him sternly, but with that little bit of the gentleness that was always in his Master's voice. "I would still be a Jedi, even without use of my hands."

"But you'd have to go back to the Temple. You couldn't be my Master, you'd be assigned a teacher or something...." Obi-Wan realised he was beginning to lose control, and he stopped, tried again. "I... I was...." As he tried to calm down, he realised what had happened, what he had actually done. Shakily, he faced it and told his Master. "I was afraid, Master. And I let my fear guide my decision."

Qui-Gon regarded him intently for a moment; Obi-Wan let his Master feel the truth in his words, as he'd only just realised it, himself. Qui-Gon nodded. "Next time you must control your fear."

Obi-Wan grabbed Qui-Gon's hand. His words died, though, and his Master looked at him in mild surprise. "What were you so afraid of, Obi-Wan?"

The reprimand was long gone; now there was only the concern. Obi-Wan tried to answer. "Of losing you, Master. I'm sorry. I didn't think past losing you."

Qui-Gon moved to sit beside Obi-Wan's bed, not removing his hand from Obi-Wan's grip. "You would not have lost me, Padawan. I would still be around, even if just chasing after five year-olds at the Temple."

Obi-Wan swallowed. "Not even that much, Master." He turned away and let go of Qui-Gon's hand. The fear was still pounding at him, whispering to him things he didn't want to hear.

"Obi-Wan, in a few years you will be losing me that much anyway. When you become a Knight."

Obi-Wan didn't reply. He didn't want to think about it. 'Live in the present moment,' he was always being told. It was difficult for him sometimes, but for this -- he could ignore that future, waiting for him.


He looked back. "I don't want to." The words were remarkably easy to say.

Qui-Gon looked startled. "What? You don't want to become a Knight--"

"I don't want to *leave* you." Obi-Wan struggled to sit up; this time Qui-Gon helped him and held him as he fought off the dizziness. "I love you."

Qui-Gon looked at him. "Obi-Wan...."

Instead of explaining his unexpected words, Obi-Wan let his Master feel what it was he meant. Let him feel the extent of the love, the depth of it, the very nature of the love he had kept private for as long as he'd felt it.

Qui-Gon was staring at him, eyes wide, hands holding Obi-Wan's tightly. Obi-Wan had never intended to show him this. Not yet, not while their Master/Apprentice relationship needed to remain foremost. He wasn't sure why he'd done it now, unless it was simply the shock if his Master's displeasure. But he calmly waited for some reaction. Qui-Gon was still looking at him in amazement.

"Master?" he finally asked.

Qui-Gon raised his hand, caressed his face once, leant forward, and kissed him. Obi-Wan didn't move a muscle.

Maybe he'd hit his head harder than he'd thought.

Qui-Gon broke the kiss, and Obi-Wan could see him smiling. He could feel it, as well, smiles and delight and a dozen other things rolling off his Master and into him.

He tried to ask an intelligent question and only said, "Uh?"

Qui-Gon grinned. "Yes, Obi-Wan. A thousand questions. For us both. But not now. You need rest, as do I. We are both still healing, and I need you strong and well again."

"Er?" His voice rose slightly as he felt the emotions attached to those words.

Qui-Gon smiled at him and laid him back on the hospital bed. Obi-Wan was staring, unable to form any more coherency than he'd already shown. Then his Master lay down as well, sideways on the edge of the bed, and wrapped his arm around Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan lay motionless for all of three seconds. Then, with a sigh, he closed his eyes and snuggled in. Later, his Master had said. They'd discuss it later.

He fell asleep.

Obi-Wan woke more slowly than he had the first time. There was no pain, no disorientation, and no fleeting panic when he realised who was still holding onto him. He snuggled closer, smiling, and felt two arms hug him tightly. He raised his head, but before he opened his eyes he was kissed again.

He wriggled happily, brain still asleep enough not to care about the questions and disbeliefs. He opened his eyes as the kiss ended and smiled at his Master's face hanging inches away from his own, smiling down at him. Obi-Wan tilted his head upwards in mute request; Qui-Gon laughed once, then complied, resuming the kiss once more.

Obi-Wan made no attempt to move, other than to stretch his body slowly along the length of his Master's, curled against him. He felt Qui-Gon's hand on his side, moving down, then back up, catching the fabric of his tunic and raising it.

Obi-Wan shivered. It occurred to him that they were in the middle of a public ward in a hospital; he opened his eyes and saw four walls close around them.

"A private room, Obi-Wan," his Master told him. "Early this morning."

Obi-Wan nodded. Satisfied with the information, he returned to his Master's mouth. Kissing it, he brought his hands up -- discovering one arm in a cast, which he could only move partway to his goal. He left it lower, resting his fingers on Qui-Gon's arm, and raised the other to his Master's face.

Qui-Gon moved to kiss his jaw, trailing soft kisses down to his neck. Obi-Wan shivered again, felt dizzy and disregarded it as irrelevant. Qui-Gon brushed his hand across Obi-Wan's stomach, raising himself up slightly, watching as Obi-Wan gasped.

Obi-Wan let his hand fall and tried to move his tunic out of the way. It was difficult, and he found thick bandages wrapped around his middle just above his Master's hand. But Qui-Gon helped him ease the clothing out of the way, and Obi-Wan lay back down.

"Touch me," he asked, and Qui-Gon's eyes went slightly darker at the request.

He traced the lines of Obi-Wan's stomach, back and forth in a slow motion. Obi-Wan watched as Qui-Gon lowered his head to watch his own hand; Obi-Wan shivered as that hand moved.

His legs fell open as the hand moved lower; he whimpered as Qui-Gon skirted the soft erection there and tried to move his hips back towards Qui-Gon's hand.

He heard his Master laugh again and grinned. "Well, touch me, then!" he demanded.

Qui-Gon kissed his chest, right above the bandages, and said, "Patience, Obi-Wan."

Obi-Wan whimpered again. "I don't want patience. I want *you*."

Qui-Gon moved swiftly back up to kiss him. Obi-Wan pressed himself against his Master's body; reaching down and grabbing at the edges of Qui-Gon's tunic, he tried to pull on it without moving away.

Qui-Gon helped him again, leaning back just enough to pull the tunic free and throw it to the floor. Then Obi-Wan pulled him close and tried to feel everything at once. His Master's hands were on his back and his side; large and warm, they were long familiar. His mouth on Obi-Wan's neck -- a touch he had never felt 'til today. Qui-Gon's chest and stomach pressed down upon his, the skin like electric fire igniting his own.

His legs, long and muscular, entangled in his, holding him still. His erection, hard, already weeping, pressed against his own hardening cock. Obi-Wan moaned and tried to bring him in closer.

Qui-Gon responded immediately, pushing himself down and rubbing himself against Obi-Wan. His Master continued to kiss him, stroking Obi-Wan's back and tugging his leg into position.

What little thought Obi-Wan had had fled, and he opened himself as fully as he could to the man lying above him. He heard a groan from his Master and felt a rush of emotion. For a moment it clouded the physical sensations, and his body was lost in a sea of love and arousal not entirely his own.

Then something pressed against him, and he found himself once more moving with his lover. He cried out softly and wrapped a leg around Qui-Gon's, lifting his hips so he could feel more of the body rubbing against him.

Qui-Gon moved as well, thrusting upwards and pausing; Obi-Wan moved in that pause and tried to match the power he felt in his Master's movements. He tried to hang on as well, tried to find a place for his hands and a place for his mouth when Qui-Gon moved his own away. He couldn't keep track of it all, couldn't respond the way he wanted to and still let himself feel what was being done.

"Lie still," Qui-Gon whispered in his ear, and he did so, letting his arms and legs fall.

His Master continued the rhythm, moving his body slowly, achingly, along Obi-Wan's, touching him once with his hands, once with his tongue, once with his cock, and then with all three. Obi-Wan cried out and grabbed onto him, feeling his body shaking. Then he was losing all control, and only the weight of his Master's body held him down.

When he opened his eyes, he grinned. Qui-Gon kissed him, then smiled back.

"Later?" Obi-Wan asked, remembering those hundred questions they still had.

His Master nodded. "Later."