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Disclaimer: Don't own 'em. Never did. Would like to, though...
Qui hands me a glass of Boralian ruby wine, and I can't help but smile. Did he know this was my favorite varietal? I examine the color against the light shade of my tunic, noting that the deep color hasn't faded at all. I once owned a bottle of this, but I opened it years ago -- for T'nell and his master.
He's looking at me expectantly. "Nice," I say, swirling the glass before inhaling the scent. Jos-berries, a little tar, and something earthy. Just as wonderful as I remembered. "This was such a great vintage. I'm quite impressed." And I am. Who knew Qui collected wine?
He smiles, almost patronizingly. "And here I thought you'd never be anything other than a beer drinker."
I force down a smirk. "Tastes change, just like everything else." Sometimes it seems that he still sees his padawan when he looks at me. I've spent more time being a knight on my own than I ever spent under his watchful eye. Doesn't he see that? I realize I've been staring at him, and I look away.
He's silent. Time to change the subject. "I heard that the charges against Aubris Feln were dropped for lack of evidence," I offer.
His forehead wrinkles. "Yes. A mental scan was conducted and it showed his intentions were innocent. He thought he was doing what the prince wanted. The prince refuses to testify, and so the matter has been dropped."
Well, that's interesting news. "How did Obi-Wan react?"
"He was shocked, of course. He was truly convinced that Aubris violated Bail."
"So was I," I reply, suddenly feeling uneasy. Not that I care about Bail Organa, but I'm still not sure what happened between me and Aubris.
"Why?" Qui asks, looking quietly surprised.
It's probably best to answer honestly. "I've had an... uncomfortable experience with Aubris myself. In retrospect, I think he pushed me into it."
"Really? When was this?"
"A few weeks ago. I had just brushed it off as a mistake after having had too much to drink, but now I'm not so sure." I really don't want to think about this right now, but it's bubbling to the surface almost against my will.
Qui stares at me for a moment, as if trying to decide if he wants to know more. "It doesn't matter. There is nothing more to be done. The mental scan was fairly conclusive."
Conclusive, my ass. I snort softly and raise my glass to my lips to cover the sound. Qui is staring at me. "Of course it was," I respond at last, smiling as coolly as I can manage.
Qui's eyes narrow. "What do you mean?"
Resigning myself to an argument, I set my glass down and turn to face him. "Qui-Gon, it's quite possible to hide or alter certain information during a mental scan. Surely you know that."
"On some level, yes, but the scan was conducted by Ecco De-Daris. She would have been able to detect any attempts at deception."
I roll my eyes slightly. "You can't possibly be so naive, Qui." Well, perhaps he could be. "He could have done it easily. I could do it."
I can see the irritation in his eyes. "I doubt that sincerely, Xanatos. That sort of deception requires a level of skill that neither you nor Aubris possess. Only a highly trained master soul healer would be capable of it."
He knows so fucking little about me. "You are indeed naive," I retort, and slump back into the sofa with my glass in hand once more. I'm not so certain I want him to know me better, sometimes.
"How dare you... You are in no position to judge me." The anger in his voice is oddly reassuring.
I keep my voice calm and sip my wine carefully. "Defensive. I must've hit close to the mark."
"I am not being defensive," he hisses.
If that's not defensive, then I don't know what is. I struggle not to grin, but can't prevent my lips from turning up slightly. Qui scowls and crosses the room to stare out the window. He's quiet for a minute or two, and I can feel him struggling to calm himself. Is he that angry because of me? I exhale and close my eyes, waiting for him to yell at me, to ask me to leave. He doesn't. His emotions are settling down now. Is he actually thinking about what I said?
I sigh and sit up. "I'm sorry, Qui. I didn't mean to offend you. But it is possible." I hope he doesn't ask me to explain why I know that to be true.
He leans against the transparisteel, and his voice sounds tired when he speaks. "Even if it were possible, the committee would never accept it. The results of a mental scan are considered authoritative."
"Are you so comfortable letting it go, knowing that he may be guilty of such a crime?"
He turns to face me, and the tiredness in his voice in visible in his eyes. "I don't have much of a choice. The committee is considering charging Obi-Wan."
"For his inappropriate relationship with Bail Organa. It doesn't look very good, you know."
No, it doesn't look very good, though I'm not sure it's as dangerous as Qui seems to think it is.
"Ah, yes, of course," I say, nodding slightly. Three guesses as to how the Committee found out about that. "The old 'no attachments' rule. What do you think?"
"About Obi-Wan and Bail? I don't know, honestly. I can't say for certain that my perspective on the matter is unbiased."
"Because your feelings for Obi-Wan have clouded your judgment." It's a struggle to keep the bitterness out of my voice. "Ironic, isn't it?"
He doesn't react to that jibe at all, holding my gaze firmly. "It gets even better. The committee expects me to advise them about the relationship, so that they can make a decision."
"Ah," I say, exhaling through my teeth. "So if you tell them that you believe the relationship is inappropriate, they'll ban Obi-Wan from having any contact with him." And isn't that what he wants, really? He couldn't ban Obi from seeing Bail, so maybe the Committee could do it for him. I feel myself getting angry, and try to swallow it down. "You'll have him all to yourself again, without having had to be the bad guy."
"That is quite enough," he spits, crossing his arms over his chest and glaring at me.
"But it's the truth, isn't it?" I retort, standing to face him. "You believe it's an attachment. You don't trust him to use his own judgment."
"And why should I? After all, look what happened to you."
My jaw drops slightly and I force it closed again, gritting my teeth. "I see," is all I can manage for a moment. My anger spikes and I don't even try to hide it. "It still comes back to that, doesn't it? I'm truly sorry, Master, for any disappointment I have caused you."
"I was never disappointed in you, Xan; only in myself. I showed poor judgment in taking you to bed after that mission."
I'm almost trembling now. Poor judgment? "And what fine judgment you've shown with Obi-Wan. Perhaps if you'd started fucking me when I was sixteen, we wouldn't be in this mess now." I knew that night with me meant nothing to him, but that remark hurt more than I want to admit.
"He was seventeen," he grumbles.
As if that makes such a fucking big difference. "Oh, so sorry."
"What do you want from me?" he snaps, voice tinged with anger and exhaustion. "Why do we keep arguing about this? I thought we had agreed to put the past behind us."
"We did. You brought it up, not me." I turn away, struggling to regain control of my emotions. I will not be the one to break here.
"Xan... I am in love with him. That isn't something I can stop doing just because of you." Qui's voice nearly breaks, and something in it diffuses my anger significantly.
I sigh. "I'm not asking you to stop loving him." What am I asking him for, then? "I'm only asking you to consider the possibility that you could love me as well." I pause, surprised at myself, but... yes, I think that is what I want. I turn to him and force myself to look at him before continuing. "I want to be much more than a regular fuck to you. That's all I've ever wanted." And it's true.
I wait for Qui to respond. He closes his eyes and sighs softly, as if his emotions are being stretched nearly to the breaking point. He opens them again and stares at the floor.
Fuck. He doesn't feel that way about me. I've told him how I feel, and he doesn't feel the same. We'll be friends, but that's all. I've been a fool to think otherwise.
"Forget it," I say, as much to myself as to him. I look away. "This isn't going to work. I want more from you than you're willing to give. I can't..." Enough. I've said enough. Time to go, while I still have a shred of self-respect. "Good night, Qui-Gon." I walk towards the door, half-hoping he'll stop me, and half-hoping he won't. He doesn't, and the door slides closed behind me.
I lean back against it for a fraction of a second, and then realize that he can probably still feel my presence. I don't want him to feel how much he's just hurt me. He'd just take pity on me, and that... that's not what I want. I sprint down the corridor, slam my palm against the signal panel on the lift, and will it to come faster. I've got to get away from here.
The door opens, and I wince -- the lift is full of people, all of whom stare at me as I slam down shields. I'm not fooling anyone, so I give them a small glare and step into the lift. No one says a word as the lift starts to move.
Down. Shit. I need to go up. I focus on my breathing. The lift makes a few stops, and gradually, everyone gets off. Finally, the lifts starts moving up, and I find myself blissfully alone. I lean back against the wall and let my shields loosen a bit. I have no idea where I'm going to go. The thought of going back to my empty quarters is depressing, but I don't want to see anyone. I don't even have anyone to talk to. T'nell is on a mission. I'm not going to talk to Obi-Wan about this.
The lift slows, and I groan when I realize I'm back on the level where I started. I push off the wall and straighten my robes, in case someone is getting on. The door slides open.
Qui is standing there. What is he doing here? Shocked, I step forward, just as he crashes into me. He backs away, looking as surprised as I feel. He takes a step backwards, and I step off of the lift.
"What are you--" we both begin, and then stop. A look of relief spreads across his face and he stares at me.
Then it hits me -- he was coming to look for me. He wants me.
I hear the lift doors slide closed behind me, and I stare at him. I feel like I should say something, but my voice doesn't work. I can only blink at him. Like an idiot. He stares at me, with an almost desperate emotion in his eyes. I stare back.
I launch myself at him, the sound of his voice shattering the last of my self-control. My mouth smashes against his just as his body slams into the wall. I press against him, kissing him, clutching at his robes frantically, thinking of nothing but getting closer to him, taking what I've always wanted from him. I'm vaguely aware that he's kissing me back, moaning softly. I can feel a mix of surprise and desire swirling around him, and it pushes me. I need skin, and I force one hand into his leggings, finding him half-hard already. He moans into my mouth, and I stroke harder.
Then he pushes me away, breathing hard. "My quarters," he whispers.
Reality crashes in for a moment -- we're out here in the corridor, and this is Qui-Gon, for fuck's sake! Am I out of my mind?
But if this is all I can have...
I nod, and we stumble back to his quarters. He palms the door open and turns to face me, backing into the room. One hand hooks into the waistband of my leggings, and he tugs me towards him. The desire in his eyes is unmistakable, and I imagine I see something more there as well. Just the possibility of it makes me giddy.
Grinning madly, I step forward. The door closes, and I find myself slammed against it, Qui hovering centimeters from my face. No turning back now.
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