Age Shall Not Wither by alyse [ - ]
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Category: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Characters: Obi-Wan Kenobi
Rating: NC-17
Genres: Angst
Warnings: None

Summary: Qui-Gon reflects on the effect his decision to train Anakin might affect his current Padawan. Told in the first person.

I sigh as the damp air settles into these weary joints. Ageing may suit those on the council, where age is considered synonymous with wisdom, but for a warrior such as myself, one who feels most at one with the Force when wielding a sabre, in battle or in practice, age brings no comfort. I could feel age stalking me during that battle on Tatooine. That frightened me, badly. Oh, I've been in battles before where the odds were stacked against me, where I came close to losing, and more than once lost. Without effort, I can call a dozen or so such skirmishes to mind. But never before have I been tested so severely by just one opponent. It's shaken my confidence, that I know, to be tested by one such as that. And we will face him again, my Padawan and I. That I know as well as I understand that the sun will rise tomorrow, as it once rose in my Padawan's eyes. A light I may have extinguished with my thoughtlessness. No, age brings no comfort to me. And even less wisdom it seems.

I can still feel the taste of it in my mouth, my Padawan's pain. It's strange that, how I can feel ripples in the Force in my jaw. Some feel it in the back of their necks, the hair there tingling. Or down the spine, like icy shivers. Me, I've always felt it like a clenching of the jaw, a tightening of the throat. A taste of pain, acid and harsh.

I should have spoken to him beforehand, warned him of what I intended to say to the Council. I meant each word that I said. He is ready to take the Trials, ready to be a Knight, and at last my equal. And then, perhaps more? However, coming straight on the heels of my defence of the boy, my certainty that he needed to be trained, and that I was the one who needed to train him, how could he take it as anything but rejection? I forget sometimes, seeing him now as a man, how uncertain the boy was. How unsure of everything but one thing - the constancy of rejection.

I did a lot of damage, both then and now. Then in rejecting him as Padawan several times, each time driving his self-esteem further down. It still surprises me now that when I finally acknowledged him as my Padawan, he didn't just tell me to 'go to Hoth', or whatever the equivalent phrase is for his generation. I fight back laughter at the picture this creates in my head. He was always too stubborn for his own good, my Padawan. He still is in a lot of ways. My thoughts darken as I remember the way he has barely spoken to me since we left Coruscant. The only time he has broken this self-imposed silence was when he warned me of how dangerous he perceives the boy to be. I dismissed that as jealousy at first, and now I'm not so sure. Unwillingly I recall his words to me as we waited on the Neimoidian Flagship. I dismissed his 'bad feeling' then, as I dismiss his concerns about the boy now. I've been dismissing him too much recently. The thing is, I know how dangerous the boy is. I'm not so blind that I cannot see that, but am I the only one who can see that that is why the boy should be trained? How much more dangerous would he be untrained, or Force forbid, trained by Sith?

Regardless, my Padawan had every right to voice his concerns to me - I have always encouraged him to have his own opinions, no matter what the Council may think of my teaching methods. Better a Jedi who questions occasionally than one who follows blindly. Better in many ways to be a renegade than to be as hidebound as some of the Council, and many of my compatriots. For all that I tell my Padawan to live in the moment, there are eddies in the Force I can not ignore. A storm is coming, and it bodes ill for all of us, and I can't help but wonder whether a Council as rigid as this one will be able to withstand it.

With a conscious effort, I drag my mind back to the present, and once again my thoughts return to the damage I have done now. I can no longer feel my Padawan. After that first, brief flare of pain, I felt his shields slam down in the Council Room, and he hasn't raised them since. It's … unnerving. For more than a decade now, I have felt that connection that exists between Master and Padawan. The connection I have with Obi-Wan has been deeper than the one with either of my two other apprentices. It was a connection that formed before I'd even acknowledged it. I'd chosen my other apprentices, not had them choose me, or be chosen for me by the Force. Obi-Wan chose me, consciously or not, and my unconscious mind agreed with that choice no matter how much my conscious mind kicked and screamed and denied it. It had not been a pretty sight, I acknowledge now with a wry, inner smile. But the boy won in the end, and thinking of the man I know now, I thank the Force he did. Yes, Obi-Wan chose me, and now the Force has chosen Anakin. All I have to do is make Obi-Wan see this as fate and not rejection.

And after that feat, I'll walk on water.

I sigh again. For possibly the first time since he came into my life I have absolutely no idea what to say to my Padawan. Where do I begin to repair the damage? Do I just walk up to him and say, I know you're angry, forgive me? Would he listen? Or has the chasm between us just grown too wide for mere words now? If he would lower his shields, I could show him. Show him how sorry I am that I hurt him. Show him that I am proud of him, and that I do believe that he is ready for the Trials, and that I did not say this just to be rid of him. But I cannot tell him these things yet. A decade's experience of my Padawan tells me that I will have to wait until he is ready to listen, which means waiting until he comes to me.

As if in answer to my silent prayer, I hear his footsteps behind me, and his soft, almost hesitant, "Master?" Now it is my turn to hesitate, as again it comes. "Master?" What am I waiting for? I wonder dimly. His voice comes again, stronger this time.

"Qui-Gon?" Ah. How long have I been waiting to hear those words from his lips? At last I turn to face him.

"I've been thinking," I say, keeping my voice low, directing my eyes towards the others. We cannot afford to be overheard. "We are treading on dangerous ground. If the Queen intends to fight a war, we cannot become involved. Not even in her efforts to persuade the Gungans to join with the Naboo against the Federation, if that is what she intends by coming here. The Jedi have no authority to take sides." I start to walk slowly away from our rudimentary camp, and my Padawan follows.

"But we do have authority to protect the Queen," he points out. Ah, my Padawan, how well you have learned the lessons of diplomacy I have striven to teach you.

I slide my eyes sideways to look at him. "It is a fine line we walk, then." Testing him as always, but at least the topic is a relatively safe one. He doesn't agree with me immediately, but after what seems to me to be an eternity he takes a deep breath, stopping and turning to face me. I glance over his shoulder, but we are out of earshot now, and out of sight.

"Master, I behaved badly on Coruscant, and I am embarrassed. I meant no disrespect to you. I do not wish to be difficult in the matter of the boy." He has the courage to breach the gap between us that I could not, and I feel a renewed surge of pride in him.

"Nor have you been," I chide gently, smiling at him now. "You have been honest with me. Honesty is never wrong. I did not lie when I told the Council you were ready. You are. I have taught you all I can. You will be a great Jedi, my young Padawan. You will make me proud."

He reaches out and grips my hand for a moment, and I can feel his relief through our bond - our bond that he has now opened up between us again, although his mind is still shielded against me. As it should be, I think with an internal sigh, now that he is to be a Knight and not my Padawan anymore.

"Padawan," I say again, just to hear the sound of it. His eyebrow quirks up slightly, as he hears to tone of regret in my voice. I smile slightly. "I won't be able to call you that for much longer," I explain in response to his unasked question. Almost of their own volition my fingers reach out and catch his braid. "And this will have to go."


Its my turn to raise my eyebrows at his pithy response, and his turn to explain, which he does with that familiar half smile playing around the corners of his mouth. How I've missed that smile. "I'm all for tradition, Master, but this hairstyle is rather inelegant."

"Traditions are important, Padawan." Cringing slightly, I hear the lecturing tone enter my voice, but he indulges me.

"Yes, Master." I love the sound of those words coming from him, and I continue, just to hear him say them again.

"They are part of what makes us Jedi."

"Yes, Master." This time he lets me hear the amusement in his voice, and it occurs to me that perhaps he is calling me Master the way I called him Padawan, because he can, and all too soon I will cease to be his Master. My thoughts are brooding and dark tonight, and I don't know why. I try to dismiss them.

My fingers are still stroking up and down his braid. It's soft and silky and I love the feel of it under my fingertips. "Will you grow your hair long?" I ask idly, wondering how it would feel to have a head full of such soft hair to run my fingers through.

"Perhaps," he replies. "I don't think I'll grow it as long as yours," he adds with a smile as his fingers reach up and gently touch the ends of my hair. The gesture is oddly sweet, a word I do not normally associate with my Padawan. Impulsive, impatient, headstrong, vibrant, impish - yes, but never sweet. Too spiky and fierce to be sweet. Too desirable.

His smile turns wicked then. "Or perhaps I'll just cut it all off like Master Windu."

My jaw drops, I can feel it, and I can also feel the way his body shakes slightly with suppressed mirth. I scowl at him, but he knows there is no heat behind it.

"Imp!" I growl. He grins openly at me then.

"You haven't called me that since I was a child."

"You've more or less behaved yourself since then," I grumble, tugging on his braid affectionately. I find myself strangely reluctant to let it go.

"What will happen?" he asks. I frown at him, for real this time.

"The Trials?" I ask. He shakes his head slightly.

"No, Master. I'll deal with the Trials as they come, whatever they are." Ah, good. For a second I wondered. Details of the Trials are not to be discussed with Padawans. If they are ready, then they will cope. If they are not, then no amount of warning will help, and he knows that.

"No, Master," he continues, "I meant afterwards, if I pass these Trials."

"When," I correct him, for I have no doubt that he is ready. It's whether I am ready to let him go that I doubt. "Well," I begin, moving my hand down to the end of his braid, where it rests at his waist, "there are rituals." He knows this, but perhaps he needs to hear my voice as much as I seem to need to touch him. The chasm between us does not gape as it did, but there is still some small distance to go.

I begin to wind his braid around my fist. "Rituals to mark your progress to Knight, to mark the end of one stage and the beginning of the next." My voice lowers, and I do not meet his eyes, instead concentrating on my hand where it catches his hair. "Necessary steps as they mark the setting aside of the old, and the embracing of the new." As I continue to wind his braid around my hand it pulls him closer to me, until we are barely inches apart. He is not a short man, medium height and build, but still I tower over him. I forget that too sometimes, now that he no longer runs to keep up with me. Or perhaps its that I've adjusted my stride to his for so long that I no longer notice the slowing of my own steps.

His braid is now fully wrapped up around my palm, and my hand cups his head gently, my thumb stroking over the point where his braid grows. He leans slightly into my touch, and my eyes finally meet his. His face is calm and unbidden the words of the Jedi Code come to mind, 'There is no passion, there is serenity.' Even as a Master I struggled with that concept, and now perhaps I finally understand. This is right. This is serenity.

"These rituals are simple," I continue, my voice strangely calm now that this moment has come. "They involve the removing of the braid," I move my other hand around to the back of his head to stroke the ponytail there, "and the removal of this." I tug on it gently, and that earns a brief smile, although it doesn't reach his eyes. His eyes remain calm and serious.

"And that is all?" he prompts gently.

"That is all there is to the ritual," I reply. My hands remain cradling his head, and his face is tilted up towards me, waiting. "There is one more thing that I have promised to myself to do when you reached Knighthood."

He knows what I'm going to do. As I move my face towards his, his eyes close and he leans further into me. His mouth opens up under mine. A single thought reverberates through my mind. 'This is right.'

At first the kiss is soft, almost chaste, and then his hands reach up to grab my tunic, pulling me closer. His tongue enters my mouth and I feel the joyous shock of it all the way to my groin. A soft sound of need escapes him, or perhaps from me. I loosen my grip for a moment to drag him further into the forest, away from the camp and he follows me willingly, as he always has. Into battle, into a conflict with the Council, and now into my arms. I am blessed.

His hands are in my hair now, pulling my head down to his while he rains kisses across my face. When I finally manage to capture his lips again with mine I can feel them curl upwards in a smile. Imp. My Padawan imp.

He must have caught my thought, because now I can feel his laughter, and it does more to lighten my mood than any amount of kisses. That's the one thing that I have missed, as he's grown older - his sense of humour - as he's adopted the more serious demeanour of a Jedi soon-to-be knight. I don't know if he caught that thought too, but the intensity with which he is kissing me now would lighten any heart, so perhaps I was wrong.

I have waited countless years to reach this point, ever since I stopped thinking of my beloved Padawan as a boy and noticed the man he had become, so why could I not wait the few days it will take for him to be confirmed as Knight, and approach him as an equal? Perhaps it is the fact that there has been distance between us these last few days, a distance that has never existed before. Perhaps it is because of the battle I fought on Tatooine that has left me with an uncomfortable sense of my own mortality. Or perhaps it was the fact that after battling my desire for him for so long, now that the end is in sight I can no longer resist his siren call. I cannot say. There is a sense of urgency driving me, and the fact that he now has my robe halfway off is not helping.

"Obi-Wan," I breathe into his mouth. "Always so impatient…"

"We'll be missed," he whispers back between kisses. "We don't have long before our absence is noted. Or before duty compels us to return." These are oddly formal words from someone who has now removed my robe completely and is working on my belt. I raise one eyebrow at him, pulling away from him slightly. My Padawan lecturing me on duty?

"Perhaps we should return…" I tease him slightly, unable to resist. He responds with words that I didn't know he knew, but which after years of dealing with freighter captains I do understand, and flips me onto my back with a Force assisted push which would have knocked the breath straight out of me if I hadn't half been expecting it.

He moves to straddle my thighs. I can't see his face clearly in the gloom of the forest, but I can sense his glare through our bond. Mental note to myself - don't tease your horny Padawan.

He senses that thought too. "The best idea you've had all day, Master." He moves in to kiss me again, but I stop him with a hand placed squarely in the middle of his chest.

"Qui-Gon," I say. He's confused for a second before the light dawns.

"The best idea you've had all day, Qui-Gon," he repeats, and I sense rather than see his smile. He captures my face between his strong hands, his blunt fingers gentle. He stares at me for a long moment, saying nothing more, before leaning down and stealing a long kiss.

Too long. While at any other time I may luxuriate in it, I still have that feeling of time being too short and it forces me to action.

The tables are turned and I flip him over onto his back, settling myself onto him with a thump that makes him squeak. He growls at me as I laugh, but his growl turns to a moan as I plunder his mouth.

It becomes a wrestling match, each of us seeking supremacy and neither of us willing to relinquish the upper hand. He focuses and flips me back onto my back again. His control of the Force is admirable in this situation. Perhaps I erred in his training by not introducing this exercise earlier, since being able to be one with the living Force has been his one weakness. He has no problem now. I, however, would have difficulty in lifting a pebble, let alone a grown man, as his lips move down my body trailing heat in their wake. He captures the top of my leggings in his teeth, and drags them down, freeing my now rigid cock. He wastes no time in familiarising himself with it.

Too fast now. He's driving me rapidly towards the edge of my control and I know release is close, as his mouth moves on me, his teeth and tongue combining to send white hot flashes of desire through me. He sucks hard, and I cry out, teetering on the very brink before my hands fasten in his hair and pull him away. For a moment I hold him there as he struggles against me, before I summon my concentration, and almost fling him away, moving to pin him with my body before he can react.

I sense his confusion, his desire and a little hurt. It's a heady mix, and it almost sucks me in again. "Do you trust me?" I ask, my voice harsher than I intend, but I am surprised I'm still capable of rational thought let alone speech. A strange question, perhaps, given that he's trusted me with his life for over a decade, but I need to hear him say it.

He looks even more confused for a moment, then nods. I'm frightening him a little, I think, which I didn't intend, but he doesn't show it. I ease my grip on him slightly, and lean down to capture his mouth again, sucking his bottom lip into my mouth. He surges up against me, gasping, and I can feel his erection pressing into my stomach.

"I want more than this," I breathe. "I want to be inside you, my Obi-Wan."

His eyes widen, and I can sense the rush of emotion through our bond - surprise, and a little fear, mingled with a rising excitement. I wait for him to gather himself, not rushing him or forcing his decision. After a few eternally long seconds, he nods once. He doesn't trust himself with words, I think. "I won't hurt you, love," I murmur to him, although a part of me knows that some pain is inevitable this first time.

And I instinctively know that this will be a first for him. My Padawan is not lacking in experience. If I hadn't observed from a distance the number of time he's been pursued, and caught, the skill with which he's kissed, and pleasured me would have told me that. In fact I believe that he may be more experienced than I. So it's a little strange that this remains untouched ground.

// For you // the whispered thought comes through our bond, and I am rendered speechless. // That will be a first. //

"Imp," I growl again, to hear his laughter. He turns serious, and the moons have risen so that I can see his eyes now, glowing in the moonlight. The love in them fills my heart with joy.

"I love you," he says. "I trust you, and I want you."

It's all the encouragement that I need. It is but the work of a moment to remove his remaining clothes, and then I sit back on my heels just to look at him for a long moment. He is beautiful, my Padawan. When I have drunk my fill, I meet his eyes again. They are still calm, but I can sense the underlying excitement, and there is an answering surge in my blood. Another kiss and then I remove my own clothes.

I cannot rush now. Time is short, that is true, but to rush this would be sacrilege. The Queen is safe, and we can do little else until she leaves this Gungan sanctuary when the sun rises. We cannot have until then, but an hour will go unnoticed.

He gives himself over to me as I kiss each inch of his skin. No wrestling like before, but a sweet surrender. He is mine as I am his. I take my time, memorising him. The taste of his skin, the smell of him, the light dusting of hairs on his chest almost bleached out by the moonlight, the darker, crisper hairs around the base of his erection. Each part of him explored and savoured.

Finally, I kiss the tip of his erection, sliding my tongue around it, and then almost swallowing him whole. He arches beneath me with a wordless cry. Oh, I have some experience of my own, my Padawan. He tastes salty and musky and sweet at the same time. I drive him to the edge as ruthlessly as he drove me, releasing him only to wet my forefinger in my mouth, before tormenting him further. I gently seek the entrance to his body while my mouth drives him wild. He tenses for a second, but the pleasure I am giving him outweighs any lingering fear or any pain, and he relaxes allowing me access.

I find what I seek, and earn another cry, this time muffled by his hand. His body thrusts blindly, lost in sensation, rocking back onto my hand and then into my mouth. He is so close I can almost taste him. I crook my finger slightly, scrapping it over his prostate and that is all that it takes. At the last moment I pull back, allowing him to spill himself into my hand rather than my mouth. He comes hard, my name on his lips, biting hard on his hand to stop himself from screaming.

His eyes are closed, and when he opens them in response to my "Obi-love," they are dazed, and the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. "I need you to turn over, love," I say, and he nods, still dazed, before he complies.

This time the passage of my finger into his body is eased with his own semen, but he still tenses slightly. I lean over and kiss him between the shoulder blades, soothing him more than words could. A second finger joins the first, widening him, and I can sense through our bond that there is some discomfort bordering on pain, but despite that he pushes back against me.

A third finger joins its fellows, and any pain now seems surpassed by the pleasure, as his arousal becomes apparent. He's rocking back against me, seeking more, and I oblige, coating my erection in his essence and replacing my fingers with it.

I ease into him as gently as I know how to, and although he hisses sharply, he also pushes back. I rock slowly, each gentle thrust easing me further and further into his tight heat, until at last I am fully sheathed within him. Oh love, you feel so good.

I rock back onto my heels, pulling him with me until he straddles my lap, his back against my chest. I move my hand round to grasp his erection but do no more. I give myself over to him now, letting him control the speed and the depth so that we can take this at his pace. I want his first time to be perfect.

It takes a little practice on his part, but he soon finds the angle that gives him the greatest pleasure, each thrust brushing over his prostate, and driving his cock up into my clenched fist. As far as I am concerned being inside him is pleasure enough, and sensing and seeing his pleasure is only increasing mine.

His breaths are almost sobbing now, and I am dimly aware that mine are the same. I kiss his throat, his temple, any part of him I can reach until he turns his head and I can capture his mouth. I feel the familiar tension in my belly, the tightening in the pit of my stomach which tells me that I am close. I open my mind to him. Perhaps it is too much this first time, but Force I want him to know how I feel, what he does to me, how much I love him. His mind reaches out to mine, and suddenly the connection is made. I am him and he is me and I no longer know where I end and he begins. I am both penetrator and penetrated, and it is too much to take. I plunder his mouth ruthlessly, swallowing his cry of pleasure as he swallows mine, and I explode inside him.

Replete, I rain kisses over his face, tasting salt. I cannot say whether it is sweat or tears, and if the latter whether they are his or mine. I ease out from his body, and pull him down onto the forest floor with me, wrapping my arms tightly around him, and rocking him, murmuring meaningless sounds of comfort into his ear as the last shudders from his orgasm course through his body.

We lie entwined and comfortable for a while, and I listen to the sounds of his breathing even out. And then the doubts come, similar to the doubts that plagued me earlier. I should have waited. He was too vulnerable. I'm too old for him. That last feeling is the most strong.

There must still be a lingering connection remaining from our lovemaking, because he rolls over and rises up to straddle my thighs again. "You… are… not… old," he growls, prodding me in the chest to emphasis each word. "You are in the prime of life. Mature. Experienced. Wise - most of the time…"

"Most of the time?" I interrupt with an incredulous laugh at his presumption. "I hope my next Padawan has a better appreciation of my wisdom…" This time my words have caused him no pain. He knows that I will take another Padawan, but not another lover, and his place in my heart is secure.

"No one can claim to be wise all of the time, Master." My own words, spoken some time in the dim and distant past and thrown back at me now with an impish smile. "Besides, you interrupted me. Where was I? Oh yes, wise. Distinguished." He rolls the word out in that cultured voice that I love so well. His voice lowers. "Devastatingly attractive." I laugh again, and he tilts his head on one side watching me indulgently. The darkness cannot hide the love in his eyes. "A few grey hairs and the odd line here and there do not make you old, my Master. They merely make you the person that you are. I would have no interest in you if you were a callow youth. It is your very experience that makes you so attractive to me. And I love each wrinkle." The last is added with a sly smile, and I cannot take offence at his teasing.

However, time is running out, and I cannot delay the inevitable anymore.

"We must go back, beloved," I say. He nods, suddenly all brisk business. He knows as well as I that there is a time for love, and while we have stolen a few brief moments, our time has run out for the moment. He slides off me gracefully, rising to don his discarded clothing and to adjust them into a semblance of neatness. I watch him for a second, enjoying the move of his body before I too reluctantly rise, sliding my love for him into a compartment of my mind I have specially constructed for that purpose so that I will not be distracted in the hours ahead. It comes easily, but then I have had years of practice at it.

"After you, oh ancient and venerable Master," he teases me, gesturing me ahead of him, and ignoring the mock glare I give him. As I move away I catch a sudden glimpse of myself seen through his eyes. Tall and graceful, the moonlight catching the grey in my hair and turning it silver. He sees me as beautiful, and I am awed.

Perhaps there are some advantages to ageing after all.

The End