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Waiting to Fall

Author: Emma Grant
Rating: NC-17
Summary: [2.01] The first episode of Season Two!  Qui realizes that his love life is becoming quite complicated.  
Warnings: None
Disclaimer:  (Most of) these characters are the property of Lucasfilm.  We're just playing with them.
Note:  Thanks to Jedi Rita and Helens for the encouragement and the betas.  It's lovely to be back, chicas!


I lean against the railing and close my eyes.  

I can still see strobes of colored light through my eyelids, and can feel the beat of the music pounding in my chest.  It makes me dizzy, so I open my eyes again.  Hundreds of bodies of various species, genders, and states of undress writhe together on the dance floor below.  Confetti swirls in the air -- little bits of shimmerplast that flutter downwards for an eternity before being caught in the currents of the room's air filtering system and pushed up to the high ceiling once more.  They flicker softly in the light, making the atmosphere seem ethereal -- in a twisted, drug-induced sense, that is.  Those bits of color are strangely unaffected by the blaring music, even though it's nearly impossible for all of the animate occupants of this building to ignore the pulse in the air.  Sometimes I think that my heart beats faster simply for hearing it.

Fuck, I've missed this place.  I hadn't been to Rising for months -- not since Siri's Coming Out -- and I've come here three nights out of the last five.

"Having a good time, Master?"

The voice in my ear is louder than it needs to be, considering how close Obi-Wan is standing.  I wince slightly, then pull away to grin at him.  He's tricked out tonight -- hair stylishly spiked with some sort of colorful glittery substance, eyes lined black, multiple piercings in his ears, nose, and eyebrow that he'll remove and heal in the morning.  I hope.  His shirt is transparent and tight, with curling silver streaks randomly woven through the fabric.  At first glance it almost appears that his torso has been painted.  

I raise a skeptical eyebrow at his current sense of fashion.  I hope it's a phase.  

He winks at me, either oblivious to or unconcerned by my disapproval.  My gaze travels from my colorful padawan, up to the glittery air, and then down to a dark-haired man dancing below.  He's lost his shirt since I last spotted him.  His chest is glistening with sweat, and the little bits of silver shimmerplast stuck to his skin draw my even more sharply.  He turns his head, sees me staring at him, and smiles.

It's a struggle not to grin like an idiot.  I settle for an expression I hope is more subtle.

Obi-Wan sighs heavily next to me and hands me a drink.  His gaze falls on the dancer as well, a bit wistful and perhaps a touch envious.  "Honestly, Qui.  You should just go down there.  He's been teasing you mercilessly all night."

I smile smugly.  "Maybe I like being teased."

"Maybe you'd like getting fucked even better."

I down the drink and place the empty glass on a nearby table.  "And what about you?  I haven't seen you drag anyone off to the backroom tonight."

He smirks slightly.  "The fact that you haven't seen it doesn't mean I haven't done it.  You just can't keep your eyes off of--"

"When?" I interrupt.  "When, and who?"

He grins and looks back down at the dance floor, saying nothing.  I nudge him with my shoulder.  He nudges back.  He isn't going to talk.  I wriggle one finger against his ribs and up under his arm.  He squeaks and twists away, mock glaring at me.  Daring me to keep going, to make him talk.  

This is a game I always win.

I step behind him and press my body up against his back, pushing him into the railing.  I feel the giggle in his throat as I kiss my way from his shoulder up to his ear, slowly -- the way he's always liked it.  I pause with my lips behind his ear, trying to ignore the piercings.  It's a bit difficult, as there are so many.

"Come now, Obi.  You know how much I adore hearing the details of your many sordid encounters with strangers in dark corners."  I feel him shiver slightly against me as my breath brushes his cheek.  My eyes fix on the dancer below, who's now watching me nuzzle my padawan -- with obvious interest.  He winks at me, and smiles invitingly.  Tempting, but not yet.  I wink back and slide my arms around Obi-Wan to caress his chest.  An eyebrow is raised by the man on the dance floor below, followed by a lascivious smirk.

Obi-Wan laughs and looks up at me.  "You're using me to get to him, aren't you?"

"No.  Of course not."

He grinds his ass against my groin slightly.  "Liar."

My hand drifts downwards.  "I'm using you to live vicariously.  I want to know who my padawan's been fucking tonight."

"And I want to know who my master is going to fuck tonight."  

He pulls away from me and grins before slipping into the crowd.  A moment later, he appears on the floor below, walking slowly towards the object of my attention, who smiles at him in greeting.  They begin to move their bodies together, both staring up at me.  Inviting me.


I watch for a moment more, and then finally give in.  I make my way down the stairs and across the floor, walking as slowly as I can bear.  They watch my approach, both with fairly triumphant smiles on their faces.  I shake my head and smile.  

I quirk an eyebrow at Obi-Wan as he backs away, and then I turn to Xanatos.

-- Who's now smirking quite a bit.  "I win," he whispers, snaking bare arms around my neck to pull me close.  Those striking blue eyes are a bit dilated from whatever he's on tonight, but I don't mind.  He's gazing at me in that way I've only begun to appreciate in the last week.

"You always do," I sigh.  He smiles even wider and I can't resist leaning in to kiss him.  He returns it with a whimper and I pull him hard against me, feeling his growing arousal through the low-slung black leather pants I've been admiring all night.  "You're irresistible, and you know my weaknesses."

"Yes," he whispers against my lips.  "Padawans, it appears.  Your own, to be precise."  

Too true.  I kiss him harder, forcing his mouth open and plunging into him a bit ruthlessly.  He hardens against my thigh and I grip his hips to pull his groin firmly against mine.  Our erections graze and he pulls back, panting.

"Enough.  We're leaving -- now."  He takes my hand and pulls.  I don't resist.


His tongue is amazing.  I have no idea where or how he learned to do that, and I'll have to remember to ask him later.  Sometime when I'm not on my hands and knees while my former padawan fucks me with his mouth.  

I groan something incoherent, and he pauses.  "Sorry?"

"Don't stop!"

A muffled laugh, and then, "Sorry."  The tip of his tongue pushes inside me again, wet warmth burrowing into me, stimulating nerve endings and sending jolts of pleasure into my already aching cock.  He licks inside me somehow -- that's the only way I can describe it -- and he pulls out again, flicking his tongue lightly across the slightly swollen skin.  The bed shifts as he sits up, and before I can protest again, one wet digit presses inside me, twisting slightly, searching for--

"Oh, fuck..."  I can't take much more.  I don't want it to end.  When did he get so good at this?

He manages to keep that finger inside me, fucking me slowly, while he makes a selection from the bottles of lube that now litter his bedside table.  He'd laughed at me earlier when I dumped the lot on the bed.  We've been meeting in his quarters, so they're not doing me much good in mine.  

He chuckles.  "Force, Qui.  What do you do with all this lube?"

I can't let that one go.  "I should think you'd know the answer to that question by now."  The finger continues its movements, eliciting a small gasp from me.

He's able to think about two things at once, apparently.  "I'm serious!  There have to be at least ten bottles here--"


"-- and I don't see why you need more than one good one."

"I... ohhh... can we... talk about this later?"  I really don't want to explain that a few of those bottles are souvenirs from the first few months of my relationship with Obi-Wan. He was a bit of a lube freak then, and new bottles would show up frequently when he was first trying out bottoming.  "More lube" seemed to be the solution to every sexual hang-up he had.  

Xan has rolled on a barrier and slicked himself, and is now pressing into me slowly.  I exhale audibly, relishing the burn even as it begins to fade.  He drapes his body across mine, pressing still-sweaty skin against me.  His weight feels strangely comfortable.  He kisses between my shoulder blades.

I'm going insane from the anticipation of what's coming.  He's been making me wait all night, teasing me.  "Please," I whimper, trying to shift my hips enough to feel some friction.  

"Mmmm..." is all I hear as he starts to move.  Slowly at first, long, deep strokes that seem to fill me almost to the point of discomfort, followed by a long glide back out again.  I love the way his cock caresses me on the inside, the way my body grips him as he almost pulls out completely, the way I have to relax and give in to the sensation of him -- so hard and yet so soft -- pushing into and pulling out of my ass.  He maintains this pace until I'm begging him to go faster, harder.  He does, and he starts to angle his strokes to hit my prostate each time.  It doesn't take much longer.  I come without ever touching myself.  He pauses as I groan into the pillow, still trembling slightly.  I feel him kiss my shoulders softly, still filling me.

"Qui?" he whispers.

"Hmmm?" is all I can manage.

He is quiet for a moment.  Then he starts to move again -- quickly, the way he likes it, to bring himself off.  I push back against him, trying to help as best I can.  He finally grasps my hips and holds me still, pumping into me hard and fast.  It feels good and I tell him so.  He comes then, crying out more loudly than I did, almost sounding like he's in pain.  

Then he collapses against my back, cock still quite hard inside me.  I feel his breath as he pants from the exertion.  My ass burns a little from the pounding he gave me at the end.  He's fucked me four times in the last week, and I've needed a day to recover every time.  

I hear his breathing begin to slow against my skin, and I wait.  I try not to move, not to do anything to remind him that the moment is over, that he's come, that he--

He shifts away, pushing himself onto his hands and knees with a small grunt, then slides off the bed.  I hear him padding out the door, heading to the 'fresher.  The door closes behind him, and the sound of water running from the tap reaches my ears through the wall.

I sigh.  It bothers me, for some reason I can't quite explain, even to myself.  Obi-Wan has always been content to fall asleep in my arms after sex, sweaty and sticky.  But Xan is almost the opposite.  He gets tense after he comes, and suddenly needs to put space between us.  I try not to take it personally that he practically sprints to the 'fresher to wash away all traces of me.  At least he doesn't brush his teeth.  

The water stops.  The door opens.  "Hungry?"  The voice in the doorway is quiet, almost tentative.  I roll onto my back and glance toward him.  I can't help but smile at his naked form, leaning casually against the frame of the door, silhouetted by the light coming from the main room.  


He nods and stares at me for a moment.  "Tea, then?"  Apparently he's not ready to come back to bed just yet.  I nod and he disappears.

It was like that even the first time, almost a week ago now.  We'd fought that night, and he stormed out in anger.  I didn't stop him, and regretted it almost instantly.  So I went after him, only to find that he was already coming back.  We barely made it back to my quarters, and once inside the door I slammed his body up against it, pouring all of my pent up desire and frustration into his mouth as I kissed him as hard as I could.  We stripped each other quickly, roughly, from the waist down, almost falling on the floor in the process.  We were groping at each other almost desperately at that point, and I dimly remember thinking that I'd never wanted anyone so much in my life.  It was the most intense desire I think I've ever felt.  I simply had to have him, and I don't think I could have stopped myself then, even if he'd asked me to.  

There was an awkward moment as I fumbled through pockets of clothing on the floor for a barrier, finally coming up with one and almost tearing it in my haste to get it on.  I pressed him into the door again, and he wrapped his legs around my waist.  I fucked him there against the door, in the common room of the quarters I shared with him all those years ago, pounding into him as hard as I could, hearing him cry out in a mix of pain and pleasure that drove me blindly onward.  He came fairly quickly, and I followed almost immediately.  It wasn't until I tasted blood that I realized I'd sunk my teeth into his shoulder and broken skin.  He later let me heal it partially, even as his eyes sparkled.  He said he didn't mind it at all.  

"Tea," he announces, appearing in the doorway once more.  This time he returns to the bed and sits facing me, cross-legged.  He hands me a mug and smiles slightly, almost shyly.  

After we picked ourselves up off the floor that first night, he didn't even look at me.  He said nothing.  He simply headed straight for the kitchenette and made a pot of tea -- he even remembered where I kept it.  I sat on the floor watching for a while, terrified that it had all gone terribly wrong, that he already regretted it.  But he motioned for me to come and sit at the table with him, and he wanted to talk.  So talk we did -- about what this meant, what would happen next, what our expectations were for this relationship.  It was almost refreshing to have it all out in the open like that.

Even now, he looks as if he wants to talk about something.  I don't mind.  I'd rather fall asleep wrapped around him, but I've learned that he doesn't want to do that right away.  I take a sip of my tea and return his intense gaze.

"What were you thinking about, just now?" he asks.

My eyes fall to the pink teeth marks still visible on his shoulder.  "The first night, last week.  How intense it was."  I smile.

He glances down and traces the scar with a finger.  "It's almost healed now."  His eyes meet mine, surprisingly dark and mischievous.  "I like the way it looks, though."

We sip our tea, quiet for a long moment, both studying the rumpled sheets carefully, casting furtive glances at each other occasionally.  He looks as if he's working up the nerve to say something, so I wait.  

Now that he's sober, his blue gaze seems quite serious.  "Qui," he begins, not looking up from his tea at first, "have you decided what you're going to tell the Committee about Obi-Wan and the senator?"

Quite a different subject than what I was expecting, and not one I'm particularly ready to think about just yet.  I sigh.  "No, I haven't made a decision.  I have no idea what I should do."  And it's true -- I don't know what to do.  The Committee of Ethics expects me to report on the nature of my padawan's relationship with Bail Organa at next week's meeting.  "If I tell the truth," I continue, "they'll file charges against him.  How can I do that to my own padawan?"

Xan cups his mug in his hands as if warming his fingers.  "Even if it's for his own good?"

I shake my head.  "But I don't think it is, quite honestly.  I'm not certain his relationship with the senator has been such a negative influence on him."  Neither am I certain how much of my own feelings on the matter stem from the fact that I am hopelessly in love with Obi-Wan, and that I resent the senator for his place in Obi's heart.

"Do you really think that?"  Xan asks, a skeptical expression on his pale face.

I nod.  "Yes, and I know it's a direct contradiction of what I said a week ago.  I may have let my own... feelings interfere.  I think I may have acted rashly."  

Xan scoots a bit closer, so that our knees are touching.  "If you lie to them, though, they'll remain suspicious.  Unlike Aubris, Obi-Wan won't be likely to escape the Committee's scrutiny so easily."

I sigh and twist a bit of bedsheet around my fingers.  "I'm not planning on lying, you know.  It hardly matters what I say, in the end.  De-Daris has been trying to get me suspended from the Committee for years.  She's part of the reason I'm not sitting on the Council now."  I scowl slightly, unable to resist dredging up old bitter memories.

"I'm sure the truth behind that statement is rather complicated," Xan quips, nudging my knee slightly with his.  We sit quietly for a moment as I avoid his gaze.  "Qui," he prods softly, "you shouldn't think of it as lying when you haven't even asked Obi-Wan for the truth.  You don't really know what their relationship is like.  You're assuming--"

"Obi told me he is in love with Bail Organa," I say, a bit more sharply than I intended.   "And that the senator is in love with him as well."  

"Ah," Xan responds, frowning a bit.  "And you're in love with Obi-Wan.  That's the problem, isn't it?"  I glance up at him.  "You're being asked to choose between two unpleasant options.  You could betray the person you're in love with, essentially taking away the person he loves, and perhaps have him to yourself again as a result.  But that would be an empty victory, wouldn't it?  You'd always wonder if he'd've chosen you over Bail in the end."  He pauses for a moment, as if to let his point sink in.  "On the other hand, you could protect him by not telling the truth, and thus compromise yourself, possibly even harm your career irreparably."  He takes a sip of his tea and shrugs.  "But then he'd know you truly loved him, and you'd know he'd be happy.  He might even come back to you eventually, since the senator -- the prince is unlikely to maintain any sort of permanent relationship with a Jedi. But neither choice is acceptable."

I close my eyes at the bleak picture he's painted.  This is precisely what I've not been letting myself think for the last week.

"Of course," he continues, "all of this hinges on your firm belief that the relationship is inappropriate."

I blink at that.  "Of course it's inappropriate.  What are you talking about?"

His eyes narrow slightly.  "What if it wasn't?  What if their relationship was completely in the open?  Wouldn't the situation be different if they behaved publicly like any normal couple of that age?  It's only because they've spent months sneaking around in private that the relationship is suspect.  It would be relatively easy for them to make it known that their relationship is not at all inappropriate, even if just in Jedi circles."

I blink again.  Is he saying what I think he's saying?  I frown, even though I feel a tiny bit of relief wash over me.  I need to think about this.  I run one hand through my hair, pushing long strands back from my face, and look back up at him.  "Xan, you have a very good point."  He smiles and raises the mug to his lips.  I fight a yawn.  It's been a long night, after all.

"Are you going to stay?" he asks, with a diffident tone that doesn't fool me for a moment.

"Do you want me to stay?"

He shrugs.  "If you like.  It's fine with me."

I kiss him.

I wake up wrapped around Xan, something that's happened on several mornings in the last week.  I could easily get used to it.  He's a fairly sound sleeper, and not much of a morning person, so I don't try to wake him.  I watch him sleep -- dark hair falling into his face, mouth slightly open.  The scar on his cheek is visible and it draws my attention for a moment.  That is something we have yet to discuss.  I'm not particularly looking forward to it.

I kiss his forehead before I go, even though he isn't aware of it.

I go to my favorite garden to meditate, then back to my quarters for a shower.  Once clean, I peek into Obi-Wan's open door to see my padawan sprawled across his bed, blanket askew and only covering half of him.  Shaking my head, I move forward to straighten the blanket.

He stirs and squints at me.  "Master," he mumbles, stretching a bit.  His hair is clean and the piercings are gone -- and healed.  He must have cleaned up before he went to bed.

"Good morning, Padawan.  Sleep well?"

He yawns.  "Nah lon' anuff."  He scoots to the far side of the bed and pulls the blanket aside with a smile.  I hesitate for a second before stretching out beside him.  He tosses the blanket over me and snuggles against me, top of his head tucked under my chin.  I stroke one hand softly down his back, tracing his spine from his shoulders down to where it disappears under his sleep pants.  I pet him again and he makes a small humming sound.

"Nice."  He settles even further into the mattress, clearly intent on going back to sleep.

It strikes me that this is the second time I've found myself wrapped around a sleepy padawan this morning.  How lucky can a man get?  I kiss Obi's forehead and watch his face as he begins to drift away again.  He did a great job healing the piercings.  I can't tell where any of them were.  I notice that he kept one, though -- a jeweled stud in the lobe of his left ear.  The stone is incredibly beautiful, greenish-blue with a brilliant cut.  It looks fairly... expensive.  I frown at that.  I'm not sure I would have noticed it earlier among all the others.  I stare at it for a moment, and it occurs to me that the color matches his eyes.  It's on the tip of my tongue to ask him where he got it, but I don't.  Instead, I close my eyes and hold him tighter.

Some time later I'm aware of a hand stroking me through my leggings.  I decide to keep my eyes closed, to pretend I'm still asleep for as long as I can.  For some reason, I want to find out what he'll do.  His hand slides under the fabric and strokes slowly, fingers curling comfortably around hardening flesh, almost teasing out my erection.  It's all I can do not to make a sound.  My breathing has sped up, though -- he must know I'm awake.  But he says nothing, just continues moving his hand in a familiar rhythm.

He stops for a moment, and I almost open my eyes to see if he's waiting for me to respond.  Then his hand is back, but cool and slick now, and moving more quickly.  I bite my tongue to stifle a moan, determined to remain detached from this, for some reason I can't explain.  His hand leaves again, and his weight shifts on the bed, and then he's slowly impaling himself on my cock.  

I gasp and pull his body tightly against me, all pretense of being asleep gone.  Once his ass is resting against my thighs, he stills, and waits.  I press my lips against his shoulder.  I press my forehead into his hair, which smells faintly of a woodsy shampoo and sweat.  I move just enough to pull out of him a few centimeters, and push back in again.  He sighs.

We continue that way for a surprisingly long time, moving together gently, making no sounds except for our breathing.  At last I feel his hand moving on his own flesh, stroking himself, and I grasp his hips firmly and speed up my thrusts.  Another minute and he comes, gasping softly and shuddering.  A few moments more and I climax as well, grunting through gritted teeth.  

We lie still for a few minutes, and then he moves, breaking the physical connection between us before turning and snuggling against my chest, burying his nose in my skin.  I kiss his forehead and pull him close.  I'm suddenly unable to avoid thinking how different Obi is from Xan.  I don't want to compare them.  I don't want to think about Xan with I'm with Obi, nor think about Obi when I'm with Xan.  It seems that I'm going to have two lovers, both of whom I have quite a long history with, and I'm afraid it may be difficult to keep them separate in my mind.

Maybe I've been foolish to compare them all along, to assume that Obi's behavior would be the same as Xan's was.  After all, Obi is here in bed with me, despite being in love with his senator.  He hasn't pushed me away, and he's never asked me for anything.  When I ask him for nothing, he gives of himself freely.  That's the way it should be between us, at this point in time.

I nuzzle in his hair again, and the unfamiliar scent fills my nose.  We share the shampoo that comes from the quartermaster, and it doesn't smell like this.  I open my eyes and see the jewel on his ear again.  My stomach twists.  

"Obi," I whisper, kissing his hair.  "I know you're still seeing him."

His breathing is even and shallow, and he doesn't respond.  

I close my eyes.  What I am I going to do?

I open the door to the conference room one minute before my diplomacy seminar is scheduled to start.  I'm usually not this late, but this morning, I... overslept, I suppose.

I take my seat, power on my datapad, and glance around the large table at the collection of knights and senior padawans sitting about, chatting casually.  A few smile and nod at me to acknowledge my arrival.

One of them is Knight Aubris Feln.

I smile a bit coolly at him; honestly, it's the best I can do at the moment.  The seminar hasn't met for two weeks, and it had slipped my mind that he would be here today.  How could I forget?  Aubris is one of the most promising negotiators I've ever met, and I would have bet any number of credits that he would have gone on to a brilliant career as a Jedi diplomat, and perhaps even earn a seat on the Council eventually.  

I suppose there isn't any reason why that won't still happen.  After all, he wasn't even charged by the Committee of Ethics.  There are no barriers in his way.  Why do I still feel so uneasy about the situation?  He passed a mind scan, after all.

I breathe, smile, and then begin by introducing the treatise we'll be discussing today.  Just as I'm wrapping up the introduction, the door opens and Xanatos enters, blushing a bit as all eyes fall on him.  He doesn't actually participate in the seminar -- he just observes.  Still, it's good to know that he's interested, and it pleases me that he makes an effort to attend.  He glances around the room and stiffens slightly when he realizes that the only available seat is next to Aubris.  Aubris smiles warmly as Xan settles next to him.  Xan smiles back.  I'm the only one who knows Xanatos well enough to see right through that smile.

Two hours later, the seminar ends, though we're still in the midst of a heated discussion about H'Kaliff Banf's theory of ordinal mediation.  Aubris began the debate by pointing out a logical fallacy in Banf's position essay -- something that I had never noticed before.  It was a subtle point, but a critical one, and a lively discussion ensued.  After more than an hour, everyone agreed that some time was needed to research the text and build arguments.  Padawan Llyith is still convinced that the problem lies in the translation, and so she has volunteered to look up the text in the original Kamalian and translate the relevant portion into Basic herself.  I had no idea she knew any Kamalian.  

Overall, I think the seminar is proceeding quite nicely.

We make plans for our next meeting, and the group disperses noisily, many of them still arguing amongst themselves.  As they file out of the room, I notice Xan and Aubris are staying behind, both watching me.  Xan drifts to the back of the room when he sees Aubris step forward.

I freeze for a moment, a bit unnerved by the expression on Aubris's face.  His hazel eyes are shining brightly, and he's smiling.  There's absolutely no indication that he might feel awkward around me --  me, a member of the Committee of Ethics, and the man whose padawan brought fairly lurid accusations against him so recently.  I force my expression to remain neutral.

"Master Jinn," he says, bowing very slightly, just enough to show respect, but not enough to seem like he's trying to garner undue approval from me.  

"Knight Feln," I nod in return.  "Your contributions to today's discussion were quite intriguing.  I was truly impressed."  He grins and flicks his eyes down in response, then glances back up at me through blonde lashes.

Oh...  I fucked him once, didn't I?  I'd forgotten.  I exhale and smile back.

"Master Jinn, I'd... like to ask a favor of you," he continues, head tilted slightly.

I glance towards Xan, standing by the door.  He raises an eyebrow and then leaves the room.  I look back at Aubris, who is patiently watching my face.  "Yes, of course.  Please."

He nods and presses his palms together in front of his chest.  "I believe you are aware that I've been working towards a High Diplomat classification for the last few years.  I've recently decided to file my application, and I was hoping that you would submit a recommendation on my behalf.  I'm sure I don't have to tell you how much it would mean to have a recommendation from you, Master Jinn."

"Oh."  My mind is momentarily blank with shock.  "I... yes, of course I'll... yes."  I struggle to keep my features serene as it dawns on me what I'm agreeing to.  "Please send me the details, at your convenience.  I'll... see what I can do."

He smiles brightly.  "Thank you, Master.  I truly am grateful."  Another slight bow and he leaves in a whirl of robes.   

I sit down, primarily because I have to before I fall down.  A recommendation?  Aubris Feln is certainly gifted, and could be a great asset to the diplomatic corps, but...  What do I think?  Do I really believe that he is guilty of assaulting Bail Organa?  There were no charges filed, after all.  I have only Obi-Wan's word and Xanatos's discomfort to suggest otherwise.  Not even Bail Organa himself wants to speak out on the event.

At every turn today, I'm reminded that this issue isn't going to go away quietly.  I need to decide where I stand -- with Obi-Wan, or... against him.  

The door opens, and Xan's head peeks around the frame.  "Qui?" he asks, expression mildly concerned.  "Everything all right?"

I resist the temptation to respond sarcastically, and just sigh.  "It will be," I say.  "I have some thinking to do, though."

He nods and watches at me for a moment.  "Evening meal tonight, my quarters?  I'm going to cook."

I smile at that.  He could barely brew tea as a padawan, but I'm slowly learning that he's a different man now than he was then.  His skills have developed considerably -- in many areas.  "At what time?"

Obi-Wan returns from his beginning 'saber skills class and collapses on the floor, quite dramatically.  I glance up from the data pad I'm studying to the sight of his sweaty form sprawled on the rug.

"Class went well, Padawan?"

"Grrunnmph," he responds, one arm draped over his face.  

I grin and place the data pad on the table.  "You rather enjoyed teaching level ten maths, as I recall.  I would think that beginning 'saber skills would hardly be a challenge after that."

He snorts and pushes himself up on his elbows.  "I can assure you it's entirely different, Master.  They're all so... twelve!  And cocky!"  He sits up and dabs at his sweaty forehead with his sleeve.  "I seriously question the judgment of the curriculum master.  A roomful of hyperactive adolescents, each armed with a dangerous weapon?"

"Come now, Padawan," I smile, remembering a feisty red-headed boy who nearly took another initiate's head off in an effort to impress me, not so long ago.  "Surely you're exaggerating."  

"I'm not, Master.  They think they know what they're doing.  Their technique is non-existent, their strategies are sloppy and predictable, and they are incapable of accepting constructive criticism."

"They're children, Obi-Wan," I sigh, shaking my head at his impatience.  "Of course they haven't mastered the weapon yet.  That's why they're in your class."

"I know, Master," he grumbles, letting his head fall to his knees.  "I apologize for my lack of patience.  I'm sure I'll manage.  If it wasn't for this one child who seems determined to make my life difficult..."   He looks up at me and shrugs.

I can't help but grin at that.  As they say, one reaps what one sows.  I return to my reading, and after a moment I feel his eyes still on me.  "Padawan?" I ask, not looking up.

He stands and stretches, drawing my attention once again.  A band of sweat-slicked skin appears as his tunic rises with the movement of his body, and his exercise leggings slip down just slightly on his hips.  My gaze is drawn to his navel, and to the barely visible trail of dark hair disappearing into the waistband of--

"Master?" he asks, smiling knowingly.  "Did you want something?"  //Like me, bent over the couch?//

I smirk slightly.  Tempting.  But I have plans for the evening, and I'm not 20 anymore.  I must conserve my energy, so to speak.  "Not at the moment, no."

He walks across the room to stand behind me and leans over my shoulder to look at what I'm reading.  "Going out tonight?"  

I inhale carefully, but the heady scent of his sweat stills fills my nostrils.  There have been quite a few occasions on which I've licked it off of him when he's returned from working out.  He stopped showering in the communal changing rooms when he realized the effect it had on me.  

I exhale, almost reluctantly.  "I have plans."  I keep my eyes on the datapad when I feel his arms slide around my shoulders.  "And you?"

"Not sure yet," he replies, warm breath tickling my ear.  He knows the effect he's having on me now.  "I'm thinking of going to Rising."

"Alone?" I ask.  Almost all of his friends are off-world at the moment, so he's been going out with me quite a bit lately.  A few weeks ago, I would have loved the attention, but this week...

"Not necessarily," he responds, kissing me on the cheek before releasing me and heading for the 'fresher.  I exhale, trying to channel my arousal somewhere else for the time being.  

As the water starts, I find my thoughts drifting back to last night's conversation with Xanatos.  He didn't say he believed Obi's relationship with Bail Organa wasn't an inappropriate attachment, but he certainly made the point that their behavior has been indicative of such.  

And he all but suggested it wasn't too late for them too correct that misperception.

I'm still not sure what I think about Obi and Bail, but I'm starting to agree that the relationship hasn't affected my padawan's training to the extent I suspected originally.  Perhaps I did react more as a jilted lover than as his master.  

And his relationship with Bail hasn't changed our relationship, to be honest.  Had he fallen in love with me, it would have been truly inappropriate, and I have no doubt it would have negatively affected his training.  The fact that he's involved with Bail and me both is, in a way, good for him.

Obi-Wan was still dressed only in a towel and a smile when I left our quarters, and by the time I reached Xan's door, I was nearly ready to burst.  Earlier in the week, Xan added my print to the door's open-command list, so a touch of my palm to the panel is enough to let me in.  

"Qui, you're late," he chastises from the kitchen area, where he's standing next to a table set for two.  

"Sorry," I say before taking three steps across the room and pulling him by the hand towards the bedroom.

"Qui," he whines slightly, resisting the pull.  "What are you doing?"

I pull him to me roughly and press him against the wall just by the bedroom door.  "What does it look like I'm doing?" I whisper, just before kissing him.  He responds with a slight moan and lets me push one of his hands down to my erection.  He strokes me for a moment, and then pulls his mouth away from mine.  He can't back away, and I continue kissing his neck.

"Qui," he groans, "this is wonderful... but the food is going to get cold."

"We can reheat it afterwards," I whisper, pulling at the fabric around his waist roughly.

He squeezes my cock through the fabric of my leggings.  "I'm sure we can reheat this, as well.  After we eat."

I give up on his tunics and drop to my knees, pulling his leggings down roughly.  His semi-hard cock bobs inches from my face.  "After we eat.  Right."  And I swallow him whole before he can protest further.

He whimpers and his knees buckle slightly, but he stops protesting.  In fact, his hands twine in my hair and he pulls, just a little.  My mouth slides down to the base and up to the head of his cock, tongue painting wide strokes as I move.  I still marvel at the taste of his skin, at the scent of him, and at the sounds he makes when I suck him into my throat as far as I can.  

"Oh, Force... stop," he whispers, pushing me away roughly.  I worry for a moment, but he grins at me after catching his breath, and nods towards the bedroom.  

We strip quickly and efficiently, and I press him onto the bed face down while reaching for the nearest bottle of lube.  He doesn't protest, which surprises me -- he's been reluctant to bottom so far, and he only seems willing when it's hard and fast like this.  I haven't asked why he won't let me make love to him slowly.

After a perfunctory preparation, I press into him.  He stiffens a bit and I wait until he tells me to move.  I feel a twinge of guilt that I pushed into him when he wasn't ready, but all thought bleeds away as he encourages me to fuck him -- hard.  

I want to make it last, since this may well be all for the night, but I can't take much more.  I push into his mind, just enough to intensify his orgasm, and feel him push me back out again.  I brush away the slight, instead slipping a hand under him to help bring him off.  He comes with a cry, his body clutching my cock in tandem, pushing me over the edge as well.  

We lie together in a pile of limbs, breathing hard.  I don't want to move.  I just want to stay like this for a while, with his body beneath me.

He wiggles slightly.  "Qui..."

"Mmmm..."  I kiss his shoulder lazily, not letting him up.  He can wait a bit, just this once.

He wiggles more, and I lift my body to let him turn over beneath me.  He starts to move away, but I pin him down with my body, pressing my mouth on his.  After a moment, I realize he isn't kissing me back.  I lift my head to look down at him and see that his eyes are closed and his face is tense.

With a sigh, I roll to the side, mumbling, "Fine. Go on, then."  He does, without looking at me.

By the time he returns from the fresher, I'm half-dressed.  His eyes narrow slightly. "Going somewhere?"

"No," I reply.  "I just thought it best to be clothed while we eat."  He snorts and retrieves his leggings from the floor, then leaves the room without a word.  

What the fuck did I do this time?  I give myself a moment to calm down before moving to the kitchen.

He's busily reheating dishes, and flashes a tight smile when I lean against the table to watch him.  After a moment, he gestures for me to sit, and hands me a bottle of wine to open.  

When we're finally both seated, the tension is nearly palpable.  We eat quietly, barely looking at each other.  I'm struggling to think of something to say -- anything to start a conversation that won't end in a fight.

"So what did Feln want today, after the seminar?" he asks.  

I pause, running through a list of possible ways that talking about Aubris could start an argument.  Seems safe enough.

"He wanted me to submit a recommendation on his behalf.  He's applying for a High Diplomat classification."

Xan's eyes widen, and he stares at me for a moment while he chews.  He shakes his head.  "Un-fucking-believable.  A recommendation?  What did you say?"

I shrug, cutting off a morsel of fylrex tenderloin.  "I said I'd think about it."

Xan nods.  "Diplomatic of you.  But what do you think you'll do?"

I chew and shrug again, then take a sip of wine.  Stalling.  "I don't know, honestly.  Until two weeks ago, I would have said he was one of the most gifted negotiators I've ever met.  And now..."  I shake my head.

"Now we know why," Xan mutters.  

I ignore the remark, as it seems a bad idea to argue the specifics of the legal situation at the moment.  In fact, it seems a bad idea to argue about anything.  "But recent events, of course, have caused me to reconsider my perception of him.  I'm honestly not certain if I should decline his request, or if I should submit an honest recommendation, perhaps hampering his career because of..."  I trail off, not knowing how to finish the thought.

"Because of personal feelings?"

I nod.  That's close enough.  We're both silent for a moment, and I look up to see that he appears lost in thought.  I wait, keeping my mouth occupied with food so I have an excuse not to speak.  The moment stretches into several quiet minutes.

Finally, he thunks his wine glass onto the table noisily.  "So," he begins, almost hesitantly, "what do you want to talk about?"  He glances up at me, and I'm sure the expression on my face is one of mild shock.  He raises his eyebrows slightly, putting a forkful of meat in his mouth.

I sigh and push back from the table slightly.  Fine.  Let's get this over with.  "Why are you angry with me tonight?  What did I do?"

He swallows and nods.  "Fair enough.  I'm not angry, I just..."  He pauses, picking up his wine glass.  "I don't know.  I'm sorry I was so irritated with you before."

"Did I push you too far, when I got here?"  I sigh in frustration, feeling like I'm grasping for wisps of smoke in the air.  "I know you thought we'd eat first, and maybe take our time after."

"Well, that's partially it.  It's not so important, though."  He blows a strand of dark hair out of his eyes, looking down.

I swallow down my rising irritation.  "It seemed important at the time.  You couldn't get away from me fast enough.  Sometimes I wonder if I'm just a fuck to you, and once it's over, you want to zip up and move on."  He flushes slightly, and drops his gaze to the table.  He doesn't say anything.  I wince, knowing that comment was far too harsh.  "Look, Xan, I know you're not one for cuddling afterwards, but... tonight was a bit extreme.  I'd like to avoid that situation again, if possible."  

"Qui, I'm sorry," he sighs.  "I don't know what my problem is.  I thought that..."  He pushes away from the table, putting distance between us again.  "I've wanted you for a long time, you know?  And I thought that once we...  I thought everything would be fine.  But it's even more complicated now than it was before."  He finally looks up at me.  "Am I making sense at all?"

I nod, since I can't think of another way to respond to that confession.  "Xan, can I tell you something, honestly?"  He says nothing.  "I'm not sure what you want from me, and I find it extremely frustrating.  I'm trying to be what you need, but it isn't working."

He snorts.  "No, I suppose it isn't.  Especially since you have no fucking idea what I need."

I bristle immediately.  "Well, perhaps that's because you won't tell me?  All we talk about is me, and whenever I try to learn more about you -- what you think, what you want -- you change the subject.  You even resist letting me into your body, let alone your heart and mind!  What else can I do but guess?"

He stands and walks across the room, and I can feel his anger from where I sit.  Despite the fact that he's been shutting me out since he returned to Coruscant months ago, I've developed an increased awareness of his emotions.  

"Maybe this was a bad idea," he whispers.  My stomach twists at his words.  "I thought this would be easy, but it isn't.  Is it worth all of this?"  He turns to face me, and his expression is somewhere between shattered and hopeful.

"What do you think?"

He shakes his head, looking away once again.  "Maybe... Maybe it isn't.  Force, you're in love with someone else.  How can I ever live up to Obi-Wan in your eyes?"

And at that moment, I see inside him -- inside shields he normally holds tightly.  He's afraid -- of being rejected, of being hurt, of not being loved, ever.  Something breaks inside me and I can't look at him.  I close my eyes.

"Qui-Gon, perhaps we should just forget this," he whispers hoarsely.  "We did try.  We can still be friends if we stop now."

I stand then and cross the room, pulling him into my arms and kissing him soundly.  When our lips part, he pulls away, an expression of shock on his pale face.  It makes me smile, bizarrely.

"You won't get rid of me that easily, Xan," I say, cupping his cheek in one hand.  "No, you aren't Obi-Wan.  And I don't mind, really, so that must mean I am growing to love you, and that I'm not merely substituting you for Obi in my heart."  His eyes widen at that, and he backs away.  "I'm not going to let you go, you know.  You told me a week ago that you thought I could love both you and Obi-Wan.  I believe you may be right."  

He exhales shakily, still staring at me.

I hold my hand out, and he takes it.  I pull him into an embrace.  "I'll help you clean up, and then I'll go," I whisper into his hair.  "Think about it, all right?"

I feel him press his face into my neck.  He nods and squeezes me tightly.

After an incredibly sweet kiss goodnight, I reluctantly leave Xan's quarters for my own.  I'm not sure why it seemed important to leave, but I believe he needs some time to think.  Strangely, I don't need to think at all.  For the first time in many years, I'm convinced that Xan and I need each other.  It won't be easy, but I believe it will work.

I walk through one of the large common areas, and hear a soft voice calling my name.

"Master Jinn?"  

I turn to see padawans Bant Eiren and Ta-Llyith standing behind me, dressed in what can only be described as clubbing gear.  I nod at them both, realizing that I've never seen either of them in anything other than Jedi robes.   We exchange pleasantries for a moment.

"Master Jinn, is Obi-Wan feeling well?" Bant asks at last.  I have a feeling this question was her main purpose in stopping me.

"I believe so.  Why?"

The girls exchange a glance.  "We knew most of his friends were off-world, so we invited him to go out with us tonight," Llyith replies.

"But he said he wasn't in a clubbing mood and didn't feel like going out," Bant continues.  "It seemed a bit out of character for Obi."

Out of character, indeed.  I smile.  "I'm sure he's just tired.  His 'saber skills class was tiring today, I believe.  He was still in our quarters when I left this evening."

Bant smiles in that uniquely Calamarian way.  "Please tell him we missed him tonight.  Good evening, Master Jinn."  Both girls bow slightly before walking away.

I head for my quarters, looking forward to a quiet evening with my padawan.  

But the rooms are empty and dark when I arrive.  It's obvious where he is, and it's also obvious that I can no longer put off the conversation we must have about Bail Organa.  I have been thinking about Xan's suggestion, and I've also been thinking about my own feelings on the matter.  I haven't yet sorted out what I will say, but I seem to have all night to do so.

I settle on the sofa to think, and to wait.


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