Title: Always
Author/pseudonym: Sandra Lee
Rating: PG
Pairings: Q/O

Archive: Yes to Master_Apprentice, OKEB and CKoS
Series/Sequel: No
Other website: http://ssfdu.tripod.com/
Disclaimers: George's sandbox - not mine. I just creep in after dark and smash his carefully constructed sandcastles.

Notes: // denotes telepathy.

Summary: Response to a long ago Wedding Challenge but Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan do it their way.

Warnings: Schmoop, a tiny dash of angst I guess.


"Obi-Wan. It's time."

I looked up as I first heard the low soothing tones of my Master's, surfacing from the mediative trance I had been in.

All thoughts of meditation vanished as I heard the simply spoken words.

'It's time.' No explanation needed.

Finally it is time and we both felt it.

I shut my eye briefly and centred myself, letting the calming influence of the force flow through me, then nodded in agreement.

He offered his hand to help me up from where I was kneeling and smiling I took it. Once on my feet and standing before my Master I felt unaccountably nervous, like I was a 12 year old again waiting to be chosen.

A gentle squeeze of the hand that enclosed mine reassured me somewhat and without a word he turned and led me out of the small hut that we were staying in, our hands remaining joined.

Such a small thing - my hand being held in his, but it meant so much. My Master isn't very demonstrative, the touches he gives are many but brief. Usually to calm or encourage a person, he will brush his hand against their arm or place a comforting hand on a shoulder, but never longer than what is proper.

 The twin suns had only just finished setting, the sky still streaked with bold slashes of orange and crimson fading into purple and finally deepening to night.

Neither of us knew where we were heading. We trusted in the force to guide us.

Across fields and plains we walked, silently aware of each other and the moon rising above us, but unconcerned at the amount of time that had passed.

Breathing deeply of the fresh night air we continued, the terrain slowly becoming more rocky and uneven, until our journey led us to the base of a steep incline.

Until this time, our hands had remained clasped, but looking --

With a small smile and a tightening of his hand around mine, my Master let go and we continued.

By the time we neared the top, our breathing had sped up due to the slightly thinner air and I felt the beginnings of impatience stir within me.

I stopped for a moment and closed my eyes, accepting the emotion for what it was and letting it go.

I felt the warm mental caress of my Masters approval. //Very good, Obi-Wan. Remember that nothing really worthwhile is ever easy//

//Always imparting wisdom whenever and wherever you can Master?//

//How else could I keep an unruly Padawan such as yourself in line//

I snorted quietly and felt his gentle amusement at the sound.

//Is that why Master Yoda is always sharing his wisdom with you Qui-Gon//

That comment earned a small chuckle.

//I believe you have caught me, my Padawan//

I think I surprised him with my vehement reply.

//Yes I have// thought fiercely. //And I am never letting you go//

//Calm yourself, Obi-Wan. I am here and I don't plan to ever leave you. If I left I would be leaving a vital part of me behind and I don't believe that a man can survive long without his heart//

//Oh. Master//

I felt humbled by his mental declaration. It wasn't often that my Master spoke of his feelings, he didn't need to, we both knew what they were. But that made hearing it all the more precious.

His voice broke the quiet.

"I do love you Obi-Wan. You are the part of me that I never knew I needed, but now need more than air itself."

The wave of love he sent in my direction was almost tangible.

I embraced it, smiling then sent it back two-fold. The entwined threads that bound us together as Master and Apprentice glowed faintly between us in the darkness.

A cool breeze ruffled my hair, drawing me back to the here and now, and for the first time I noticed our surroundings.

We had ended up on a wide plateau, the ground fading from uneven and rocky where we stood to being covered in a soft looking mossy grass towards the edge.

The flatness of the earth here was disrupted by clumps of tall grass and sweet smelling night blooming flowers, all combining together to offer an idyllic place for us to be joined.

The twin moons, now high in the night sky bathed the area in a soft light.

"Master, this is beautiful." I whispered in awe.

"Indeed it is my Obi-Wan." He replied serenely.

He reached out and took my hand once more, drawing me over towards the edge.

I gasped slightly at the view below us, having decided much earlier not to let the proper, stoic Jedi that I was supposed to be and had been drilled into me at the academy get in the way of expressing any and all emotions I felt on this occasion.

Below us was a harbour curving around the great expanse of the ocean, the shore dotted with tiny lights from the dwellings and campfires. The water stretching for as far as the eye could see like a dark shimmering, velvet blanket that reflected the moonlight as clearly as any mirror.

In silent agreement we chose this spot and knelt, facing each other with the soft moss like grass gently cushioning our weight. Close to the edge but not near enough to be concerned.

I looked up and met my Master's gaze calmly, staring into eyes much bluer than my own that were now lit with an inner fire that caused my skin to tingle and my heart to beat faster.

"It is time." I declared, echoing his earlier statement.

Were those precious words said only a few mere hours ago? It almost felt like a lifetime.

He nodded, to both I assume and I shivered a little in the cooling breeze, even as the adoration in his eyes warmed me up.

The wind stirred at my hair. The vows we were about to exchange, stirred at my soul. And the sometimes overwhelming passion I felt for my Master, stirred at my sense.

Without thinking about it I knew without a doubt that he shared these feelings.

I focused inward and felt the force flow through me, through us, a wave of living energy, and our growing bond tickled at the edges of my consciousness.

My Master held both of his hands out and I offered my own, grasping his firmly.

I couldn't help but smile and my Master smiled in return even though the moment was wonderfully solemn -- as it should be, yet without all the pomp and ceremony of the Jedi Council's presence. Out here, under the night sky there was a curious and strangely joyful sense of freedom that lightened my heart even further and I knew I would never have felt this in any other place.

Protocol demanded that this should be taking place on Corusant, in the Grand Hall of the Jedi Temple, with the Council and assembled Master's, Knights and Padawans as witness, but our hearts said otherwise. They said that this was the time, and this was the place.

It felt so *right* here, surrounded by tall grass and wildflowers, on the very brink of the world it seemed. Here we could practically reach out and feel the blessing of the force and the approval of the moons and stars themselves.

I mentally grinned at that bit of whimsy and waited for the response I knew would be forthcoming.

Surprising all he said was --

//You could be right my Obi-Wan//

It appeared that I wasn't the only one that felt it.

I closed my eyes for a moment and concentrated on what I knew of the long and frankly boring lines of the ritual speech.

I expected a gentle admonition for that and I got one.

//Respect Obi-Wan. That ritual has been used for millennia//

//I know that Master, and I meant no disrespect, but it doesn't feel *right*. We will have to go through it all with the Council as soon as we return, so why do it now when it seems wrong?// I questioned.

I opened my eyes and awaited his reply.

He sighed, then spoke quietly.

"You are right -- as you *usually* are in these matters my Padawan. The bonding ritual does not seem appropriate in this setting."

There was no room for a sense of triumph. I was beyond such things and we both knew what I said was true.

 A few moments passed and then with sudden clarity I remembered a bonding ceremony that we had attended in an official capacity a few cycles ago. I recall being affected by the simplicity of the words and phrases of their most sacred of rites and I smiled.

My Master looked at me curiously.

"Master, do you remember the ceremony we witnessed on Kydon Prime?"

I accompanied my question with a mental image and watched as Qui-Gon slowly smiled.

"I believe that would be most suitable my Obi-Wan."

I was delighted, knowing that the vows we would now speak would mean a hundred -- no a thousand times more than the official ceremony.

A high cheerful cry of  bird was heard somewhere in the distance, then echoed by another and my Master took that as his cue.

"Let us begin Obi-Wan."

I shuffled a little closer, our hands still joined until our knees were also touching, needing as much contact as possible with my Master.

I craned my neck slightly so we were easily gazing into each others eyes, his warm breath against my face making me tremble.

My Master began -- which is only as it should be. He leads and I will follow, always.

With a gentle squeeze of my hands, he started.

"I Qui-Gon Jinn -- offer my heart, my soul and my body into the keeping of my beloved."

A brief pause as we both fully take in the meaning of the words.

"Will you take my offering and hold it dear, keeping it safe and trusting in our bond to always be there and bind us together? Will you accept my offering? Will you accept me Obi-Wan Kenobi?"

"Yes." Joyfully I accept.

I was enveloped by love, warmed by it and I shivered in anticipation as I prepared to make my vows.

 "I Obi-Wan Kenobi -- offer my heart, my soul and my body into the keeping of my beloved. Will you take my offering and hold it dear, keeping it safe and trusting in our bond to always be there and bind us together? Will you accept my offering? Will you accept me Qui-Gon Jinn?"

No hesitation as he huskily answered "Yes."

It was my Master's turn again.

"I Qui-Gon Jinn, pledge myself to this man, Obi-Wan Kenobi for all time. Willing to share his life fully for all my days in times of sorrow and in times of joy."

My Master drew our still clasped hands up until my left hand covered his heart.

"I Qui-Gon Jinn, entrust my heart to this man, promising to keep no secrets"

He then leant forward and whispered, "I Qui-Gon Jinn, give my body to this man, that he may find shelter and comfort in my arms and pleasure in my touch."

I knew what was coming next, but the knowledge never prepared me for the reality.

Soft lips against my own, the slight tickle of stubble against my chin --  a touch that was so light it was almost chaste but generated a scalding heat wherever we were joined.

Pleasure like I had never known in my life, caused by this simple kiss.

It was a simple kiss, but behind it stood long periods of complex emotions.

The time I first realised I loved my Master.

The time I first realised I was *in* love with my Master

The time I first realised that he was in love with me.

How many cycles ago was that? A few I know. Except for in our shared thoughts it remained unspoken but not unfelt between us and those feelings were never acted upon til now, now when we knew it was right to do so and I was finally old enough.

All too soon he leant back, and I whimpered quietly, feeling strangely incomplete.

//Soon Beloved, calm yourself//

My Master's growing presence in my mind acted like a soothing balm.

I needed this to continue.

I needed this to be over so we could complete the next step.

I needed this to never end.

I wondered briefly if my Master felt this strange inner turmoil -- not quite excitement, not quite fear, but something in between.

Mental arms reached out to me and pulled me close in a gesture of reassurance.

//Yes Padawan, I feel that too. Let go of your fear of the unknown and all will be well. I promise//

//Yes, Master. Thank you// I replied shakily.

I did as he said and it was easier than I imagined.

My mind now clear again, I focused once more on the ritual.

"I Obi-Wan Kenobi, pledge myself to this man, Qui-Gon Jinn for all time. Willing to share his life fully for all my days in times of sorrow and in times of joy."

With each word my voice grew steadier and I took our hands from where they still lay over his heart and placed them over my own.

"I Obi-Wan Kenobi, entrust my heart to this man, promising to keep no secrets"

And with those words I kissed him, probably with a little more enthusiasm than he exhibited but I felt no complaints.

This time, if anything the heat between us increased, my whole body feeling electrified.

Reluctantly we parted after what seemed too short a time, but instead of separating fully, my Master rested his forehead against my own.

Taking a deep breath, we started speaking simultaneously.

"As an act of faith in this union, I open myself to my beloved. I will hide nothing and in doing so offer my soul."

 And as the final words were spoken, I closed my eyes and began to consciously let down my mental shields, slowly and steadily working until I was fully open and completely exposed to my Master emotionally.

This was by far the hardest part of our bonding.

I waited patiently until I felt my Master's readiness, his shields taking longer than mine to be lowered.

I wasn't surprised by that. My Master had more cycles to perfect his shielding and I knew how difficult this part would be for him after…

I halted that particular line of thought, not willing to introduce a spot of darkness into our light.

//I am ready my Obi-Wan//

I reached within myself, searching the depths of my being for the core of my spirit.

Once found, I pushed outward with it, urging it on through our existing bond and I felt my Master do the same.

For a moment, time seemed to still and then I felt a tremendous shock course through my body as our spirits finally connected and began to merge.

I gasped, and immediately felt my Master's hands tighten around my own, offering strength.

I had no concept of what this moment would be like, and not nearly enough words to describe it.

A kaleidoscope of infinite colours and sounds, burst across my senses, followed by the disorientating feeling of having two heartbeats.

That was until I realised what I was feeling was Qui-Gon's pulse, his life-force. The sensation finally faded until I knew his heart was beating in tandem with my own.

Eyes wide open now in wonder, I could see the force enveloping us in an intense blue light, life and warmth flowing between us, around us and through us.

I raised my eyes once more so they met and held the now even more vibrant blue of my Master's gaze, and then looked on in awe as tendrils of the force surrounding him, reached out to my own and twined themselves together until I could barely see my Master's beloved features through the brilliance.

How much more of this could I endure before I began to lose myself within the force?

Then I remembered that I had nothing to fear because Qui-Gon was here with me and he would *always* keep me from harm and protect me if it was within his power.

Our conscious minds eventually started to shut down, leaving the force to complete our bond as we slipped into a state between meditation and coma.

And there we stayed, kneeling on the soft ground at the edge of the world, our hands joined our foreheads still touching, until the first warm rays of the twin suns caressed our skin.

I drew in a deep shuddering breath, as did my Master, as we came back to ourselves -- startling a small furred creature that was regarding us curiously from a nearby rock.

I laughed, startling it even more -- feeling giddy in the morning light as my mind worked at a frantic pace trying to comprehend and catalogue all the new sensations and emotions I was now feeling.

I felt reborn, changed in ways that would take some time to comprehend and yet the same -- only more.

The lingering presence of my Master at the back of my mind thrilled and reassured me that no matter what -- I would never be alone again.

A movement out of the corner of my eye, caught my attention. Another of those small furry creatures came scampering out of the long grass and settled on it's haunches besides the other one.

It too gave us a curious look before turning to the other and making a small chittering sound -- a reply was made and then both turned to us, tilting their heads to the side in an identical pose and watched us.

I laughed again, bemused to be the object of such intense study -- my Master laughed quietly with me.

Qui-Gon stretched a little -- groaning at the use of stiff muscles.

//Look at me -- I'm getting old, beloved.//

I shook my head in denial //Never, Qui-Gon -- you will never be old. Not in my eyes.// And on a lighter note I added. //Maybe when you reach Master Yoda's age. I'll reassess my opinion.//


//Old Man//

Contradicting my thought -- I was suddenly grasped and pulled into strong arms, as my heart-mate settled comfortably on the grass and pulled me between his legs to rest against his broad chest.

I signed happily and snuggled closer -- I had waited years for this.

"Was it worth the wait, my Obi-Wan?" His voice, a gentle caress.

"You need ask?

His arms tightened around me. "I guess not." And I could sense the smile that lit up his features without having to turn and look.

A soft purring sound rose from near my feet and I looked once more at our 'audience'.

They now sat, leaning against each other -- their long fluffy tails raised behind them and entwined.

 I smiled at the sight, almost believing that everything surrounding us was at peace and we were blessed by that peace -- the only dark cloud was a faint worry about the Council's reaction.

//Do not fear, my Obi-Wan -- we did what we had to, and the Council will eventually see that.//

//I don't want you getting into trouble with the Council, Master.//

//Aren't I always in trouble with the Council to some extent?// He mused, and it was almost enough to provoke a chuckle.

//It seems that way, Master -- and I now appear to be following in your footsteps. But I am worried that they will send me or you away for a time, to test our bond -- I'm not sure I could handle that at the moment.//

//Hush, beloved. They will not separate us -- I won't allow it. We will always be together now, always connected by our soul-bond and nothing -- not even death can break that//

I shivered a little, nuzzling against him -- trying not to think about that possibility.

//Together, Obi-Wan -- Always. I promise you that.//

//Together, Qui-Gon.//

And we sat there, now quiet as the twin suns rose, hearts, souls, minds and bodies connected -- revelling in the here and now.

As one.






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