Twilight Burning 1:
Halo

Rina and Destina Fortunato

July 1999

You wear guilt
Like shackles on your feet
Like a halo in reverse

Eyes on him, again. Obi-Wan felt those eyes, could sense them climbing his body, as clearly as if hands had tossed aside his clothing and begun harsh explorations underneath. Trouble was, it was only a stare. Nothing palpable, nothing dangerous about a random glance. Right?

He turned, but couldn't quite catch the midnight blue eyes in the act; Qui-Gon dropped them too quickly, having read Obi-Wan's body in the midst of moving. His Master was the picture of serenity, going over recent research reports, catching up on his reading. Obi-Wan felt a rising irritation, at himself for not confronting Qui-Gon, and at Qui-Gon for choosing not to act on this...this...whatever it was.

Obi-Wan was no longer a boy, not in need of constant instruction, reminders about the Code and the Force and whatever else Padawans need Masters for. He needed his Master for something else entirely. And Qui-Gon was too...traditional...too locked into duty to allow himself more than that occasional, brief, searing, secretive gaze.

It was, after all, not a thing which was permitted. Padawans and Masters were forbidden to engage in any sort of relationship beyond the scope of learning. Love wasn't supposed to enter the picture, at least not the kind which was keeping Obi-Wan up at night lately. Not any kind of love, in fact, beyond the love an apt pupil might have for his teacher.

What else might the teacher have to teach, if he were permitted to break that boundary?

I can feel
The discomfort in your seat
And in your head it's worse

In his seat across the small room, Qui-Gon kept his eyes locked on the printouts in his hands, reading the same paragraph time and time again and still not retaining any of it. When had his apprentice's mere presence become such a distraction to him? The attraction he felt was not right, it was not allowed, it was...not listening in the least bit to the stern lectures his brain had been attempting to force on it.

Where had these emotions come from? When had he stopped looking at his Padawan with the simple pride of a teacher for his pupil? When had it changed to this damning lust that threatened to overrun his rigidly shielded thoughts, leaving his emotions naked before one the person he dare not reveal them to?

Naked... The word brought with it a swirling image of Obi-Wan's lean body, muscles taut as he strained toward some unseen, unthinkable objective, head thrown back, eyes half-lidded, golden-brown skin slick with moisture, hands reaching out imploringly.

Rattling the reports in his hands as he flipped a page over even though he had no clue what he had been reading, Qui-Gon tried to put aside the desire to lift his eyes and look at his apprentice again. Obi-Wan was watching him now and he could not, would not let this come between them. It was his duty to train the younger man to be the best Jedi possible and he would not fail in this matter.

For a moment thoughts of Xanatos, his second - failed - apprentice crowded forward, presenting an all too clear picture of the price that had been paid for his lapse.

Never again. Obi-Wan was so close to his dream of becoming a Knight. While Qui-Gon freely admitted that he had little gift for prescience, he knew in his heart that his Padawan was one day going to be one of the Order's best champions. The determined, hotheaded boy who had so stubbornly insinuated himself into an embittered Jedi's life that he could not imagine what it would have been like without him had disappeared. In his place was a young man brimming with confidence in himself and the Force, sure that he could do anything by will alone.

I would that it were so, Padawan, Qui-Gon sighed to himself, knowing that there would be no rest for him this evening. His emotions were so tightly tangled together that shielding them from the younger man was becoming an active exercise rather than something routine. The bond they shared was close - too close. Through it, he knew that Obi-Wan desired the same thing he did but it could not be. There would be no chance of anything happening that would damage the other man's future with the Jedi. The pleasures of the flesh were too ephemeral to even consider it.

There it was again. That dark pulsing at the edges of his consciousness, letting him know that Obi-Wan's thoughts were centered on the same subject his were. Too close. Something was going to have to be done and soon.

Setting the printouts on the table beside him, Qui-Gon rose, his expression one of total composure. "I am going to meditate, Padawan. Should you need me I shall be in the south garden."

An answer would come in time, Force willing, for there was one thing the older Jedi was certain of: things could not remain as they were for long.

There's a pain
A famine in your heart
An aching to be free

Obi-Wan watched his Master stand, unable to stop himself from picturing the movement of the powerful muscles beneath the tunic, and felt surges of sexual energy running through him, shocking in their blatant intensity. He choked back surprise and annoyance at his own lack of control, even as he heard Qui-Gon's pronouncement of the need for meditation. Obi-Wan thought vaguely to himself that perhaps he should try meditation immediately... especially with Qui-Gon looking at him expectantly.

"Yes, Master. Perhaps I'll join you later." His voice was mild, but he felt ready to scream aloud at any moment, and desperate thoughts of Qui-Gon's mouth and tongue on him were making him sweat...he beat the images back, squeezing his eyes closed for an instant. Qui-Gon's gaze remained a tangible temptation, as close a sensation to fingertips on bare skin as Obi-Wan could tolerate. He shifted anxiously, hands flitting restlessly over the lightsaber components he had been working with, accomplishing nothing with their empty motion.

Still, Qui-Gon looked at him.

"Padawan? Are you well?"

Obi-Wan felt the heated flush which was creeping across his face and contemplated a number of answers, biting them all back. He reached out with the Force, not even certain he was able to conceal the turmoil in his own mind, and felt for Qui-Gon's emotions. His Master's mind was like the still surface of a pond; no ripples, only an untroubled serenity.

"Of course, Master." What the hell did Qui-Gon care for the Council and Code, anyway? He had to be aware of the depth of Obi-Wan's feelings. This was not a new situation, after all... Obi-Wan knew it had been building for a number of years, at least in his own impatient heart. He couldn't believe Qui-Gon hadn't wondered, once or twice, what it would be like to lay together with Obi-Wan, joined together so deeply that nothing mattered, not the mission, not the Council, nothing but the slow, deep movement, the cries of passion, the...

Qui-Gon seemed to hesitate for the merest fraction of a second, studying Obi-Wan's rigid body, before leaving the room as he'd planned. Obi-Wan shuddered with relief the moment the older Jedi was out of sight, and his fingers clenched reflexively around the cold pieces of his lightsaber. Something was going to happen, something to force the issue.

And he might have to be the one to make sure of it -- if he had the courage.

Can't you see
All love's luxuries
Are here for you and me

Once the door slid closed behind him and Qui-Gon was certain that Obi-Wan was not going to follow him out into the corridor, the Jedi leaned against the cool, featureless wall, closing his eyes and rubbing his temples trying to will his body back into quiescence.

I'm going to have to do something about this. But not tonight, not when the image Obi-Wan had unknowingly shared with him still burned in his mind, sending flaring pulses across frayed nerve endings so that it felt as if his whole body was under the lash of an expertly handled whip.

The one consolation in all of this was that he was sure his apprentice was unaware of his failing in this matter, of how close Qui-Gon had come to giving in on numerous occasions. The completion of the difficult mission on Banterah, Obi-Wan looking up at him, grinning, his lips parted slightly in a way that begged for a kiss. The way the younger man's eyes strayed to him as they watched the couples dancing at the banquet. The terrible dark urge he had felt to whisk his Padawan from the hall to their rooms and partake in a more primal version of those rhythmic movements....

Control. That was the key to this. If his meditations did not bring him an answer Qui-Gon knew he would have to discuss the matter with someone, preferably not a member of the Council.

Sometime during his ruminations, the Jedi had begun walking again, his long, easy strides carrying him toward the softly lit archway leading to the south gardens. This had been his favorite place in the Temple for as long as he could remember, a setting that usually brought him peace and serenity the moment he entered. But not today.

Making his way along the path that led through the lush ferns and tropical plants that had been carefully cultivated here, Qui-Gon at last reached his destination and knelt, automatically settling himself in to a comfortable posture as he began to turn his mind inward. Soft splashes from the small waterfall-fed pond filled his ears, and he slowly began to relax as the iron-hard control he held his emotions under loosened, sending a small shudder through his body.

There is an answer, find it. A last conscious thought before he lost himself in the pervasive song of the Force, opening himself up to whatever visions or guidance it might provide

Bring your chains
Your lips of tragedy
And fall into my arms

Obi-Wan tried for the tenth time to fit two small pieces together inside a tiny compartment of his lightsaber. A red-hot frustration which was anything but peaceful flared up in him, and he had to actively resist the urge to fling the weapon across the room. He gritted his teeth and sat back in the chair, willing his breathing to slow, his muscles to relax. Qui-Gon would not be pleased with his lack of patience. Nor would his Master be particularly accepting of Obi-Wan's private reluctance to quiet his mind, for fear he would dull the rush of feelings which was suddenly plaguing him, troubling him much more acutely than ever before.

As tempting as it would be to blame all this on Qui-Gon, his Master had never given him the slightest bit of encouragement. Always the perfect mentor, the perfect Jedi...but Obi-Wan was suddenly struck by recent memories, clues which were small enough to be almost insignificant, but staggering when seen as a whole.

For instance, there was his Master's stark fear when Obi-Wan was injured on a short mission to Endor, and the way his hands had lingered on Obi-Wan's body, tending him gently as the minor wounds healed. Obi-Wan had been hurt many times before, and much more seriously, but the terror he sensed in Qui-Gon that day was something new. Yet, he had allowed himself to believe Qui-Gon's explanation, as his Master brushed it aside as an overreaction, a fear that dissipated when the true extent of the injuries were known.

The nagging questions began to twist through his mind after that mission, the sneaking suspicions forming. They curled themselves insidiously around his desire for his Master and began to take root. And there were other moments...his Master seemed unable to stop looking at him, in public, in private, even when Obi-Wan was supposed to be asleep. The startling erotic clarity of his dreams recently, which he now understood must be influenced by Qui-Gon's own unconscious needs. And the subtle humming carrier wave between them, its intensity growing every day, until it was like a swirling electrical charge...

Go to him.

Unexpected and clear, the abrupt command came out of nowhere, catching Obi-Wan off guard. He stood up from the table, pacing like a caged animal. It was ridiculous. He couldn't do this. The consequences would be more than Qui-Gon could accept. It would upset his Master's carefully ordered world, throw everything known into chaos, create a situation which was dangerous, totally out of control. His respect for his Master's life work, the dedication he'd shown to Obi-Wan and his path as a Jedi, was primary to him.

Go to him.

More urgent this time, overthrowing reason. The living Force was flowing through him, driving him, and Qui-Gon had instructed him never to ignore the call of the Force.

He would go to the gardens. And perhaps they would talk, and go over this thing openly, and he could have a measure of peace and calm, and concentrate on the simple tasks which were quite beyond his capacity in his present state of mind.

Obi-Wan took a deep, resolved breath and turned to go.

And found Qui-Gon in the doorway.

Taking note of his student's surprise, the Jedi Master remained where he was, the look he gave Obi-Wan impressive in its inscrutability. "I believe we should talk, Padawan."

If the words hadn't been so painfully drawn from his lips, Qui-Gon would have laughed at the absurdity of the situation. His apprentice looked as restless as he felt and the older Jedi was compelled to draw on every bit of his training to maintain his collected appearance.

His trance had started off normally, bringing with it a sense of ease but the moment he had opened himself fully to the Force that had all changed. The first image had been of hands, just that, nothing more. Unable to discern who the hands belonged to or what their meaning was, Qui-Gon had let the vision carry him along, knowing that trying to control it would only lead to a headache later.

Details appeared as the image sharpened and Qui-Gon recognized the hands; the tanned skin, the broad palms and long fingers, the calluses raised from years of training - they were his own.

The vision acquired a tactile component as it shifted, changing to a picture of his hands moving across an expanse of lightly sun-kissed skin, tracing and learning each line, each sweeping curve as muscles contracted and relaxed. Moving lower now, across the tight, flat stomach and the indentation of a navel. Stopping to trace the shallow cup, swirling one finger inside in an attempt to catalog every bit of the bounty spread before them.

Lower still now, to the flaring head of the penis, lifting it from the bed of crisp gingery curls to stroke down its length. Capturing and rolling the silken length between his palms, listening to the harsh gasp of his own breathing as it twined and mated with Obi-Wan's...

The vision shattered apart at that, splintering around Qui-Gon in a multitude of tiny, razor sharp pieces, each one slashing at the Jedi's already tattered self-control. This could not be. He could not allow it. But by the hells he wanted it, wanted to feel the smooth stretch of his Padawan's flesh beneath his hands, to hear the hitch in Obi-Wan's breath as he brought him nearer the edge...

Go to him.

The words were a command, not a suggestion, and one that would not be ignored.

The situation had to be dealt with, diffused, before it consumed both of them. Qui-Gon stood, for the moment feeling every bit of his age, and started back to the rooms he shared with his apprentice. As hard as it would be, the older Jedi knew that if they could not work through this he would be required to step aside as Obi-Wan's teacher - something that tore at his soul and, though Qui-Gon struggled not to acknowledge it, at his heart.

Go to him.

Demanding now, an urgent prodding like a shove between the shoulder blades, causing him to lengthen his stride. The door slid back at his approach and Qui-Gon halted, assaulted by the full force of his Padawan's emotions. Praying for the strength to deal with this as he had to, the older Jedi waited until Obi-Wan turned, the apprentice's expression changing from one of determination to wary expectation.

And when our world it falls apart
And the walls come tumbling in
Though we may deserve it
It will be worth it

Obi-Wan felt tense and tight, his body a mass of throbbing energy with no outlet, as he watched Qui-Gon enter the room. Keeping himself at a distance from the younger man, his Master sat heavily in the large chair near the window.

"I've never known you to abandon your meditations after such a short interval, Master." Obi-Wan's observation was pointed, sharp with an unspoken challenge.

"When one is seeking answers, Padawan, one must first ask the questions." Qui-Gon's tone was controlled, but there was an edge there, just underneath the philosophical patience. "Discovery comes as the inevitable is confronted." A pause, then Qui-Gon added, "We cannot continue this way."

Bewitching blue-green eyes met nocturnal, deeper blue, their gazes merging, pulling together like tides toward shore. Obi-Wan felt emotions crashing through him at an unthinkable rate, jarring him as they smashed together, rational thought and better judgment splintering against uncompromising desire.

"If you're going to tell me it's forbidden, don't bother. I don't care," Obi-Wan said darkly, abandoning any ideas of calm discussion or putting the issue to rest. "I can't control what I feel...what this is. I've tried. I already know I can't have what I want." His tone was low, almost dangerous. "And I won't let you send me away. I won't go."

Qui-Gon's throat constricted as Obi-Wan looked at him, waiting, wanting him to solve the problem but leaving little room for resolution. His own hunger seemed to be clawing its way up inside of him, scratching toward the surface, leaving bloody trails across his heart, his conscience, his responsibilities.

"This mustn't happen," the Jedi Master said, somewhat desperately, feeling his control crack even as the words landed flat between them. "If you won't go, then I will. After so many years, to lose what you've accomplished would be unacceptable. You must become a Knight."

"If you try to hand me off to another Master, I'll leave the Jedi." Obi-Wan saw the words hit his Master, who flinched as they struck true. He knew Qui-Gon did not doubt his sincerity. "You want me to complete my training, and so I shall. But not without you."

Qui-Gon felt trapped, and stunned. The decision was not his to make any longer. If he pushed Obi-Wan away to ensure he became a Jedi, his Padawan would discard that future to make a path with Qui-Gon. And if he succumbed to the feelings between them, he would be setting them on a path which might lead to utter disgrace, and the loss of everything he held dear. Two paths, with the same probable outcome.

"You cannot throw away your destiny, Obi-Wan." As soon as he said the name, he saw Obi-Wan shudder with the emotion generated by Qui-Gon's voice, felt the power of that emotion lash through him, and shuddered himself in response.

"My destiny is here, Master." Four strides, and Obi-Wan was on him, straddling him in the chair, his mouth open and moving harshly, coercing his Master's lips into obedience. His kiss, brutal with the intensity of his need, softened as Qui-Gon yielded to the raw passion which ached within them both. He held Qui-Gon's face between his hands, pulling him up into the ravenous kiss.

He was lifted, and with a gentle shove Obi-Wan tumbled backward onto the ground, Qui-Gon stretched against the length of him, lips still fastened to his. Qui-Gon's hand touched the back of Obi-Wan's neck, and Obi-Wan arched up into the kiss, a low sound of pleasure coming from a place long buried within him.

Doubts, denials, and conflicts were stripped away by the rough, seductive sound and Qui-Gon's fingers spasmed, closing over the tender skin at the nape of his apprentice's neck. The pressure drew another guttural moan from the younger man and Qui-Gon greedily swallowed the vocalization, drawing it into himself and savoring it as he did everything about Obi-Wan.

Pinned by the weight of his Master above him, Obi-Wan writhed, seeking a way to strip the clothing from the larger man without losing any of the contact between them. Each near-frantic shift pushed his aching body against the pressure of Qui-Gon's thigh and rewarded Obi-Wan with an answering thrust of the other man's hips.

There was no time for subtlety or gentle seduction; the need within both had been too long denied for any of the niceties of romance. Now there was only the driving need to possess and be taken, to cross that final boundary that separated them and indulge in the acts that had had been reserved for the most private places in their minds and thoughts.

The feel of hands working at stripping his robe and tunics away brought Qui-Gon partially back to himself and he tore his mouth from his apprentice's to stare down at him. "Padawan..." The sight before him made any other words impossible. Obi-Wan's sea-change eyes shone with a sensual abandon. A sheen of sweat caused his skin to glow and his lips were swollen from the force of the kiss they had shared. His beauty was fascinating, an elixir more powerful than any aphrodisiac. Pushing himself up on his hands, Qui-Gon separated their bodies slightly, trying desperately to get some handle on the maelstrom of emotions whirling inside him. "Obi-Wan," he began again, allowing himself the luxury of trailing his fingers down the younger man's cheek.

"When will the time for talking be finished, Master?" Obi-Wan's tone was raw and needy and he shifted again in an effort to bring the other man closer. "You felt the call as I did. Now you try to reason it away."

"I cannot deny what I know to be the truth - not any longer, but this is not the time or the place." The settling of the younger man's expression into a dark glare drew a pained smile from Qui-Gon. "Do not think this is any easier for me, Obi-Wan, but if we are to take this step, it must be with a firm vision of what changes it will bring about. I would not and will not do anything that will bring you regret." He lifted his head higher, as though listening to a sound beyond the range of normal hearing. "We cannot broadcast these emotions here, in the Temple, not this first time." He stopped, looked at Obi-Wan's darkening eyes. "If we do, we'll be stopped before we have begun."

"I don't care where we are or what the time is," Obi-Wan growled mutinously and then sighed, seeing the look of stubborn firmness he knew so well, and had learned to emulate. He studied Qui-Gon's strong features, drinking in the rugged planes and angles of the other man's face as if this would be his last chance to see them at this proximity. "When, then?"

"Tomorrow evening." The words had a weight to them, a finality that secured the emotion tightly. "I will make arrangements." Qui-Gon rose swiftly to his feet, extended a hand to his Padawan and pulled him up from the floor. They stood, hands clasped, irrevocably sealing a bargain of desire, a choice which would alter their lives forever.

END

  since 02-04-07

 

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