When Did You Know?
Disclaimer: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is the property of Lucasfilm Ltd.
A heart-sore and battle-weary Jedi Master crawled into bed behind his equally heart-sore and battle-weary Padawan learner and wrapped his arms around him tightly. The dispute they had tried so hard to resolve had deteriorated into open warfare, and the two men had had to fight their way to their transport ship and flee the planet. Negotiations would be fruitless until the bloodlust had died down. So now all the Jedi Council and the Republic could do was watch and wait.
"It couldn't be stopped, Master," Obi-Wan tried to comfort his love. "They didn't want to listen. There was nothing you could have done to stop this. It was the will of the Force."
Qui-Gon just held the younger man closer still. That last laser blast had come so close to Obi-Wan, deflected at the last possible second. I could have lost you, love, he thought almost desperately.
Sensing his teacher's disquiet, Obi-Wan turned in the embrace and held the elder equally fiercely until Qui-Gon had regained some semblance of control. "Shall I tell you a story this time, Master?" Obi-Wan teased lightly.
"Yes," came the rasped reply, startling the apprentice. "Yes, beloved. Tell me when you knew," Qui-Gon trailed off.
"Tell you when I knew you were my lifebonded, my beloved master?" Obi-Wan lovingly inquired. Gathering his master to him just as Qui-Gon had so often done when Obi-Wan was young and scared, he felt Qui-Gon snuggle into the crook of his neck. Obi-Wan sorted out his thoughts and began.
"You've always been the center of my galaxy, since the moment you finally called me Padawan. That word was like a blessing to me when you spoke it that first time. I was thirteen, and I already knew that I would never have anything more than friendships with the girls I'd gone to the academy with. I'd even experimented a bit with some of them, but it had just felt nice, not essential. I began to wonder if I would ever know love."
"Then one day, about a year after you took me as Padawan, we were at the temple on Coruscant, and I had actually woken earlier than you, so I watched you sleep instead of disturbing you. Your hair and beard had started to show streaks of gray, but in sleep the lines of care and worry eased, and you looked younger, more vulnerable. And my heart contracted."
"I was afraid it was a crush; after all, I was only fourteen, and you were twice that. I had often heard of Padawans developing an infatuation for their Masters. And you were a man."
"It is a common occurrence, Padawan," Qui-Gon confirmed. "One that every Master looks for and knows how to discourage. You were troubled by the fact that you felt desire for a man?" Qui-Gon asked, moving down to rest against Obi-Wan's breast, half listening to, half feeling the powerful beat of his beloved's heart.
"It was unexpected, Master. I'd always been more attracted to girls than boys. But it was not a boy who had attracted me this way. It was a man. You. I was so confused by my feelings I actually got up early and went to one of the meditation gardens voluntarily." He paused a moment, smiling softly at the sound of his master's rumbling laugh, happy his self-deprecating humor was so well received.
"I'd just gotten into a comfortable meditation position when I felt a presence behind me. It was Master Windu. He was somewhat surprised to see me up so early and alone. I didn't realize until then just how much I lived in the shadow of my master. Master Windu told me that he sensed I was troubled and perhaps I should speak to you before attempting to meditate. I suppose my reaction was very telling because he asked me if he could help. The next thing I knew I was pouring out all my fears, frustrations, suspicions, wants, needs, desires and wishes to him."
"He took some time, asking me pointed questions, sorting through the morass of information I had given him, and finally shared his thoughts with me. First, he assured me that love between two people of the same gender was just as beautiful and pure as love between two people of opposite genders. Something, he said, I already knew. Which was true, I did; I just needed to hear it confirmed by one of my elders."
"Then Master Windu told me that he thought my feelings were very real and very mature. In fact, he said that I was very lucky to know my heart so well and be so mature for a young man of fourteen. He said I would be a great Jedi someday. I was speechless. He told me to close my mouth and return to my meditations with an easier heart. That I would know how to approach you when the time was right. With that he left me alone. I resumed my abandoned position, calmed my mind and attempted to meditate. Instead I had a vision of myself, much older than I was then, in a strange place, half wearing strange clothes, and you taking my face in your hands and kissing me senseless."
"The Moonwinds masque." Qui-Gon murmured softly.
"Yes. I had seen my future, and it gave me the strength I needed over the next four years as I fell deeper and deeper in love with you, never suspecting that you felt the same way. The first Moonwinds celebration we attended together, I could see the heat in your eyes and thought to myself 'at last' only to have you pull completely away from me."
"The two weeks you had me work with Master Windu would have broken my heart, except Master Windu unexpectedly said one day, 'Have faith, Obi-Wan, your future is closer than you think.' How he knew I'll never guess, and so I clung to that. When you came back, it was as if you'd come to a decision about your life, one I couldn't understand but tried to accept."
"And you didn't pull away from me anymore. Our thoughts and bodies touched frequently, and I thought I could be content with that if that was all I was truly meant to have."
"Then we returned to Alderaan to witness the Moonwinds festival once again, and at your insistence too, and my heart leapt. Could it be that my vision was at last coming true?"
"Once again I needed your assistance with my domino, and once again I saw that flash of desire in your eyes, but this time you didn't pull away. This time you kissed me."
"And when we drew apart, your eyes glistened with unshed tears, and you looked up at me and very somberly said, 'I've been waiting for you, Master, my love.' And for the first time that I could remember, I felt complete - whole," Qui-Gon finished the tale.
Drawing his lover's head up, Obi-Wan kissed Qui-Gon with the same soul shattering intensity of that first kiss and said, "I've been waiting for you, Master, my love and my lifebonded."
"Obi-Wan, beloved." Qui-Gon sighed, cuddling against the younger man.
"I am here, master. Sleep. Tonight it's my turn to comfort and watch over you. Tonight I will keep your night terrors away." Feathering a soft caress over Qui-Gon's temple, Obi-Wan settled back to watch his love sleep, arms wrapped securely around his lifebonded. Tonight he was the protector and his love the one in need. It was balance.
Go to companion piece, A Bedtime Story