"Hang on to Yourself"
Disclaimer: No one belongs to me except for Tyrell, who is all mine... they belong to the Almighty Lucas. Too bad he doesn't know how to treat them well.
Distribution: ask first
Characters: Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, mentions of another
Content: Non-Q/O implied, Q/O, h/c, drama
Warnings: Um... a lot of angst, and no happy ending.
Author's Notes: Obi-Wan is around twenty-one in this story. The song title comes from a David Bowie song from his excellent album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.
Depressingly enough, this is just one scene out of a larger story that I was inspired to start writing. It came about because I kept reading stories wherein the two were in love with each other, but afraid to admit it due to various reasons. (This is not a slam on those stories! I've written at least one of those myself. ;)
And I wondered.... what if one of them loved someone else? And so Master Tyrill was born.
Picture, if you will, a cheerful, happy woman, a classmate of Qui-Gon's and someone with whom he is deeply, completely in love with and who shares that love. Now picture Obi-Wan, who has known for years that he loved his Master. Now you understand the basis of this story. ;)
Notes: // indicates Obi-Wan's thoughts, ** indicates telepathy
"...turn off the sun, pull the stars from the sky.
"...'cause if he ever saw, than it was through these eyes of mine,
I was so tired. That was the leading thought in my head as our transport touched down on the landing pad. Weary beyond belief, heart-sick from the events of our ill-fated mission, and somehow, I knew that something else was wrong. The weariness and the shadows that seemed to nearly enshroud us whispered softly, memories of blood and fire and war... and something else. Something different.
//Enough, Obi-Wan. Calm yourself. We're back at the Temple, and after we rest, everything will be fine.// I tried to convince myself of that, but the confidence in my inner voice was definitely not reflected in my inner feelings. I could feel my master's weariness--he, too, was tired and sickened, but he also bore the guilt for our mission's failure. //Not that I could ever convince him that it was not his fault. More, the fault of warlords and hatemongers who think of nothing but gold and power. I don't think our mission had a hope of succeeding, even from the start.//
I clamped down on my emotions, not needing the sidelong look from my master to tell me that I was broadcasting. //The last thing I need right now is Master Yoda's lecture on serenity.//
Calming myself, I waited. As the transport landed and its doors opened, I followed my master down the ramp to the landing pad, the sudden cool air a shock after spending the last week in transit. I walked slowly, my body aching, seeing the weariness I felt reflected in my master's movement, the way that he carried himself.
As we walked across the pad, I suddenly dreaded entering the Temple. //I can feel... something. Something is terribly wrong... but what?// Casting about, I could find no disturbance in the Force, no ripples... nothing at all.
I began to reach out for my master, to ask him if he too felt the wrongness, when he stopped. Taken aback, I nearly ran into him, confused by his sudden lack of movement, until I saw Master Yoda waiting for us at the entrance.
"Come, you must. News, I have. And not good." Yoda gestured impatiently at us, and turned, entering the Temple. My master followed, a bit slower than he had walked before, and I moved along beside him, hardly daring to look at him until we had entered the Temple ourselves. When I did, I nearly regretted it. Sudden grief was etched into his features, as if the weight of Coruscant herself had abruptly slammed down onto his back. I wondered, alarmed, at what had caused this reaction... I could find nothing wrong, other than that stillness in the Force... and then I knew, and grief slammed into me as well.
I don't recall which antechamber Master Yoda led us into, but I remember the dry, dusty smell... it called to mind the smell of blood and smoke, and I shook my head, driving the memories away.
Yoda cocked his head, his ears drooping a bit as he watched us before speaking. "Qui-Gon, sorrow for this news I feel, but tell you I must. Master Tyrill... dead she is." My master's face tightened visibly at the words, and I could feel his shields cracking under the strain, the grief and weariness he felt leaking out to us.
//Even I feel her absence... how must Qui-Gon feel, losing a lovemate?// The thought was almost horrifying. //To lose our bond would nearly kill me, and our bond is not as deep as theirs was...//
Master Yoda continued speaking for a moment, but I remember nothing of his words, other than the vague information that Master Tyrill had died while on a mission. My attention was on my master. I knew very well how much he loved Master Tyrill, and I was afraid that this would be too much. //Too much... too much, after the bloodshed and the failure... now this...// The pain emanating from him echoed along our link, and I shivered as coldness swept over me, dimming my sight for a moment.
When Yoda finished speaking, I felt like I was almost drowning in the silence that filled the room. I wanted desperately to speak, to offer words of comfort, but my tongue seemed frozen. I could only watch as my master struggled with his emotions; I was unable to even reach out to him.
When he finally spoke, his voice was rough, but steady. "Master. If you will excuse me, I must retire." Master Yoda looked at him, and nodded. When he left the room, Yoda stopped me from following.
"Padawan Kenobi." I looked at him in surprise, and then glanced at the doorway, anxious to follow my master. "Attend to your Master, you must. Leave him alone now, you must not. Need you, he does, but admit it, he will not." I nodded, speechless. Yoda hesitated, then said softly, "Care he will need, and comfort. Love he has lost, and love will he need." Then he turned and left the room, leaving me to wonder how much the venerable Master knew of my innermost thoughts.
I hurried through the halls, attempting to catch up to my master. He needed me. Master Yoda was right--although Qui-Gon would never admit it to me, not now, he needed me with him. //He'll want to be alone, but he needs to grieve... and now, after everything else, he won't be able to.// I couldn't shake off the coldness that had swept over me... I felt clumsy and slow, my footsteps echoing off the stone floors as I moved.
In the hall that contained the Masters' private rooms, I caught him before his door. I saw the flicker of grief-born anger in his eyes when he saw me, but disregarded it. He stood, waiting for me, but I gave him no chance for the confrontation that he so obviously wanted.
"Master..." I bowed before him, something that I normally did only in the most formal of circumstances. "Master, it is my wish to assist you this night. I know you are weary, and..." With a curt wave of his hand, he cut me off.
"Very well, Padawan. Come in, then." And he disappeared into his quarters. Taking a breath, I wondered if I really wanted to do this. And realized that I did. //How often does he let me in? He needs me, and I can't turn away. I love him too much.//
The door closed behind me as I entered the main room, automatically glancing around. I'd only been here a few times, and none recently. A muffled curse caught my attention, and I turned to see Qui-Gon wrenching his belt off, dropping it on the floor. I winced at the metallic sound as his lightsaber hit the stone floor, and could only stare as he strode into the bathroom, dropping his clothes behind him as he went. The door closed with an almost audible snap, the muted sounds of running water soon audible behind it.
//Qui-Gon... please, please, just let me help you tonight, just this once...// I thought, almost wistfully, as I gathered his discarded clothing, straightening and folding it, placing it beside the 'fresher. I picked the belt up off the floor and coiled it on top of the rest of the clothes, placing his lightsaber on the stand beside the bed. Then I stood there, wondering what else to do.
//I have to do something... Master Yoda said not to leave him alone, and if I just stand here like a fool, Qui-Gon will kick me out when he gets out of his shower and try to deal with his grief alone...// My heart twinged. //Tyrill... I miss you. I loved you too, you know. Even though it hurt not to have Qui-Gon love me, at least I knew you loved him, that you made him happy...// My sorrow threatened to overwhelm me, and I resolutely stuffed it back down into a corner. //Later. I can grieve later. Qui-Gon needs me now.//
I glanced around the room again, thinking. //What can I... first, shields. Qui-Gon will never forgive me if we end up broadcasting to the entire Temple.// Sending my mind outward to set shields around the both of us, I was surprised to find myself bouncing back from stronger shields than I could ever produce. I smiled a little as I felt Master Yoda's imprint, and sent a brief tendril of thanks towards him. Then I withdrew entirely and tried to make myself useful, purposely not thinking about anything specific as I did so.
Looking towards the small kitchen area, I saw my Master's tea set, and was inspired. I set the water to heating, made sure the cups were clean, and when the tea was done, I set the tray on the table by the window, the fragrance lifting my spirits slightly, making me feel warm again.
I turned back the bedsheets, fluffed the pillow, and decided to dim the lights. //What else... his sleeping robe. He'll want to sleep...// Opening the closet, I rummaged through the hanging clothing for a moment, until I found the light sleeping robe. //Should I leave it on the bed? Maybe I should knock and see if he wants it now... // Indecisive in where to place the robe, Qui-Gon re-entered the room to find me holding it instead.
One lone towel was slung about his hips, offering him modesty. He stopped just past the door and glared at me. When I dared to meet his eyes, the look in them told me that he wanted me to offer to leave, or, failing that, to offer him an argument, to provoke the emotions that he was trying to contain.
"Why are you still here?" I winced at the angry tone, but told myself that it was the grief. //I know you would rather be alone, Master, but I loved her too, and you need me...//
"Here..." I proffered the sleeping robe, and Qui-Gon took it, casually dropping the towel and wrapping the robe around him. I licked my suddenly dry lips and turned my eyes away slightly, waiting for him to make the next move.
"Padawan, I thank you for your help, but I *don't* need you here." His voice was mostly steady, with more than a twinge of irritation. //Well, that was a bit more calm, but still not what I want to hear...//
"Master, with all due respect... please. I only wish to..." He interrupted me, the irritation increasing to anger again.
"You wish to plague me with your presence when it *is not* wanted! Obi-Wan, go to your own room!" he growled.
//Go to my...?// I grinned suddenly, the weariness and grief lifting from my heart for a brief moment. Qui-Gon stopped whatever he was about to say and stared at me.
"Go to my room? Master, you haven't told me to do that since I was fourteen and embarrassed you in front of the entire Council." My grin died down to a faint smile, and I waited anxiously, hoping that his anger would lift at the memory.
"Fourteen...? Oh." Obviously he remembered. I watched him run his hand through his dripping hair, heard the drops fall on the floor as he turned his head away for a moment, watching the reflections in the window.
"When I asked you why you hadn't returned to our rooms, the night that the Councillor asked you to help her with a personal problem..." I let my voice trail off, keeping the smile on my lips with increasing difficulty. Qui-Gon's lips twitched, and he responded, "I still hear about that." And he smiled slightly, a true, if rather forced, smile.
"I made some tea for you, Master." Turning away from Qui-Gon and towards the table, I gestured at the steaming tea pot. He blinked, obviously wondering where the argument had gone, then walked over to the table, sniffing the tea appreciatively. When he sat, I knelt beside him and poured the tea carefully, offering him the cup.
He took it, eyeing me a bit over the rim as he drank. Then his eyes closed for a moment, and he said softly, "This was Tyrill's favourite tea." His hand trembled, and I caught the cup just as he dropped it, his hands going to his face as he fought to regain his control. I set the cup on the table, unable to ignore the tears that I saw dripping down his face.
//Formality never did suit me,// I thought as I rose and put a hand on Qui-Gon's shoulder, feeling his trembling through the thin cloth, offering support if he needed it, and letting him know that at least, he wasn't alone. He remained hunched over for another moment, then took a deep, shuddering breath and raised his eyes to mine.
"I loved her." I closed my eyes briefly, unable to face the torment that I saw in his, the deep grief in his voice nearly undoing me. Then I looked at him again, and said softly, "I know."
Qui-Gon's eyes dropped, and he took another deep breath before standing. I stepped back to allow him room, my hand dropping from his shoulder, and watched silently as he turned toward the bed, taking slow steps, his trembling obvious now.
I brushed aside my own tears and reached for the tea tray, intending to carry it back to the kitchen area. When I had crossed the room, I heard a small sob from Qui-Gon, and almost threw the tray down in my rush to get to his side. He was standing in front of the bed, looking down at something in his hands. Even as I watched, he sobbed again, and turned to me a little, and I realised that he held the holo of Tyrill that normally sat on the shelf beside the bed.
Before he collapsed, I put my arms around him and pulled him close to me, guiding him to the bed. We collapsed onto it together, my arms still tightly around him, his head on my shoulder, and we stayed like that as he finally wept uncontrollably. My own tears mingled with his, and we stayed twined together for a time, until his grief had run its course for the moment and he spoke softly.
"I loved her. I loved her with all of my heart, Obi-Wan."
I said nothing. My presence was secondary to his need to grieve, and I knew that being here was only going to cause me pain... but I couldn't leave him.
"From the first time we met, I knew... I knew that she was special. She was so bright, so full of life... and she loved me. She loved me! She brought happiness to me, and she told me that I did the same for her..." Qui-Gon's voice trailed off for a few moments as fresh tears came, shaking him. I held him tightly, sharing his grief, and when they had passed again, he resumed his thoughts.
"I asked her to Bond with me." Almost bemusedly, he said this. The words were like an icy arrow, straight to my heart. //Bond...// Even my thoughts were broken, confused. Except one. //I'll never Bond with anyone, Qui-Gon, except you.// I gritted my teeth, but my own tears blinded me, my heart twisting in pain, and still Qui-Gon continued.
"I asked her several times. Every time, she refused. With a smile, and with love, but she said no. I never understood why... All she would ever say is that we were not meant to be Bonded. I never understood..." He trembled again, and whispered, "I loved her. I never wanted to Bond with anyone but her... and now I have no one."
My heart broke. I felt like I was raw inside, bleeding, bleeding to death. //Can you die from a broken heart?// I wondered. My tears became sobs of my own now, as Qui-Gon finally fell silent, possibly weeping again. I'll never know. I couldn't see him, couldn't feel anything but a great, blinding pain that threatened to rip me apart. I couldn't stop trembling, my body nearly shaking itself to pieces.
Finally, finally, I calmed again, an almost icy calm settling over me, to find Qui-Gon looking at me, his reddened, tear-rimmed eyes actually filled with worry for me. I almost laughed. //Why worry now, Master? I'm already dead in every way that counts.// The bitter thought almost frightened me, and I pushed it away. Instead, I said, "I'm here, Master. And... I loved her too."
As if that had flipped a switch inside of me, I found my grief for her filling me again, and I started talking, remembering, sharing my memories of her with my master. And he started talking, sharing, and we laughed, and cried some more, and finally, we fell silent.
I lay there, gently stroking Qui-Gon's back, wondering how my own personal pain could so overwhelm my grief at the loss of a friend that I known for years, wondering where this strange calm that had settled over me had come from.
And as I lay, gently touching my Master, I somehow wasn't surprised when he began stroking me. I wasn't surprised when I met his eyes and saw the desire there, or when his touches became caresses. I knew that he wanted me, and why, and I understood.
I knew that he wanted comfort, and reassurance--reassurance that he was still alive, that he was not alone; I knew that his grief was still there, and that this would mean nothing to him other than the comfort he sought. I knew that he would feel guilt, afterward, when he was able to feel again, and I knew that I would help him with that, too. I knew all of this, and I touched his mind, gently, and could feel his grief and his loneliness and his need... and I accepted.
And I offered.
I tilted my head up, and he lowered his lips to mine in a kiss that set me ablaze with desire, the sudden urgent need pushing all else to the background. He kissed me again, his tongue tangling with mine, and the urgency seemed to sweep over both of us then.
I pushed the sleeping robe off of him, letting it fall behind him on the floor, and held myself up so that he could pull my clothing off as well. I tried to reach for him, to please him, but his hands and lips and tongue followed the path of my disappearing clothing and caught me up in the storm that surrounded us, until I was aware of nothing but his touch, felt nothing but my desire, and wanted nothing but him. I moaned and writhed under him, and cried out to him, opening my mind to him so that he could know for himself what I needed. In answer, I felt his desire, and his touch became gentle, preparing the way for what we both craved.
When he slid into me, I felt a moment of calm, and I clutched him to me, cherishing the moment, storing it away for later recall... and then he was moving, and I was moving, flying with him into the fire that we had created, and then I was lost, lost to the storm.
When I awoke, we were still tangled together, and I ached. I turned my head and watched Qui-Gon sleep, the first peaceful sleep I think he'd had since we'd left Coruscant on that Sith-damned mission. I ran my fingers through his hair, something I'd wanted to do for years, memorizing the silky feel of the of the strands slipping through my fingers. I stroked his cheek softly, rubbing the scratchy velvet of his beard, and kissed his forehead.
//I love you, Qui-Gon.//
Then I slid out of the bed, careful not to wake him, and gathered my clothing. I walked into the bathroom and took a long, hot shower, letting it soothe my aches, washing away the last tracks of my tears from the night before. //I'll cry many a tear more over this night, though, I'm afraid.// The strange calm that had settled over me was still there, and I was glad. Without it, I didn't think that I could hold myself together, and the last thing that my master needed now was his Padawan having a breakdown.
I washed myself off, and turned the water off, drying off as I remembered the night before. I remembered the words he'd spoken, and my heart ached.
//You'll never be alone, Master. Not as long as I am alive.//
I gathered my dirty clothes and dressed slowly, recalling as I did so the path of my master's hands as he had removed each piece of clothing.
//Enough. It is tomorrow now, and now he'll feel the guilt that he couldn't last night.// I took one last look in the mirror, then re-entered the main room.
"Obi-Wan..." My master's low tones took me by surprise. I turned, and saw that he was awake, sitting up in bed. Waiting for me.
//Courage, Obi-Wan... the hardest part is past.// Taking a deep breath, I walked to the bed and knelt beside it, meeting Qui-Gon's eyes.
"Yes, Master?" My voice was steady, I realised with an odd sense of pride. A look of hurt flashed in his eyes at my formality, then was gone as he raised a hand to my face, his fingers ghosting over my cheek. I shivered briefly at his touch, unable to control my reaction, and he lowered his hand. A moment of silence passed. Finally, he spoke, his voice uncertain.
"Obi-Wan... I must... apologize. A weak word, but..."
This time, I interrupted him.
"Master. Please..." A note of pleading entered my voice against my will. I swallowed, my throat dry as I looked at him, seeing the regret in his eyes. My emotions were probably written in my face, but I didn't care.
"Please, don't. You... needed me. I knew what you were offering, and why, Master. And I accepted." I paused, seeing the effect my words had on him, feeling his hurt and his relief and the last swirling remnants of his pleasure, and forced myself to continue. "And I offered myself, as well. I don't... I don't expect anything else."
Seeing the visible relief, as well as regret, on Qui-Gon's face, I had to wonder. //Do you know, Master, that when you took me, you took my heart as well?// I took a breath, and reinforced my shields, keeping my fragmented emotions to myself.
"Obi-Wan, I... I don't know what to say." He seemed almost embarrassed, in a way. A smile forced its way to my lips.
"Then don't say anything, Master." A ghost of a smile graced his lips as well, and I took my chance. Before anything else could be said, I put my hand up to his face, and kissed him. One last, chaste kiss. When I pulled away, I could sense his confusion before I even looked at him again.
"Good morning, Master," I said softly, and then, before he could respond, I turned and walked out of the room. I shut the door firmly behind me, the heavy sound of it closing echoing down the hall, and I was aware that I was shutting away my heart with the motion.
//I was wrong, so wrong. The hardest part is yet to come.// I took a shaky breath, and raised my eyes skyward for a moment. //I hope you understand, Tyrill.//
And somehow, I think she did.
~ Fin ~
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