I don’t know what Master Yoda knows. Inscrutable, he is.
Force! I’ve been listening to him too much when I start talking like he does.
His words stuck with me, but they could have meant anything. “Failed him, you did not. His time, it was. Train the boy now, you must.” Those were clear, certainly, and meant to be consoling, although I was not feeling particularly consolable. It’s what he said afterwards, as we parted, that made me wonder. “Attachments, forbidden they are. Important to remember, it is, former Padawan of Qui-Gon Jinn. A good man your master was, but follow the Jedi ways, he did not. Not all the time.”
Attachments were forbidden, I knew it well. And yes, my master and I had violated that rule. We had had the most forbidden attachment of all, that between master and padawan, one that could endanger our missions, endanger our lives. Had it led to the end of his life? Were my feelings too strong to think clearly, act quickly? I don’t know.
Was it wrong to love your master? No, of course not. All padawans loved their masters, or at least all the lucky ones did. How easy to love the one who taught you, cared for you, lived with you. It was almost a stereotype of padawan adolescence – falling in love with your master.
Those of us who were brave enough to confess our feelings got told in no uncertain terms about forbidden attachments. That had been the answer when I asked if my feelings were returned. Not “no” – just that attachments were forbidden, and attachments between master and padawan most forbidden of all.
In a perverse way, that gave me hope. I of all people knew the truth of what Yoda said after Qui-Gon’s death. I’d lived with him, traveled with him, gone on missions with him for years. He did not follow the Jedi ways, not all the time.
Still, he seemed set on following the Way of No Attachments. Many people not of our order think that Jedi are celibate. They confuse No Attachments with No Sex.
The workers at the pleasure houses of many a planet know the difference, though. The Jedi are among their best customers.
I certainly tried my best to let sex be sufficient. I took my pleasure with men and women on planets untold, and with the ungendered humanoids of Alzorano and the multigendered people of Kalimbre. They were all skilled; it was after all their profession. They gave me release but never satisfaction. It was, after all, attachment I craved, and attachment to the one most forbidden to me. So I gave up sex and lived the monkish existence so many think the Knights of my order adhere to.
Not Qui-Gon, though. He excused himself from our quarters regularly, whenever duty did not press us, and visited the pleasure houses of whatever planet we were on. Always alone, never in company of other Jedi. He definitely never invited me along.
But I went along, or rather behind. I followed him; I wanted to know what pleasure he found and with whom. And what I found led me to continue to hope that he might violate the rule of the order.
Qui-Gon always sought out the same type of pleasure worker. Not the varied beings I had had. His partners in lust were always men, always much younger than him. And of the boys in the pleasure house the one he chose was always the one who looked most like me.
I spoke to one of them afterwards. He didn’t want to tell me anything – after all, discretion is what he sold at least as much as sex. But I am a Jedi and I know the ways of the Force. He told me what I needed to know.
“You call them ‘padawan’ and ‘Obi-wan.’ You wish you were with me.” I said it as soon as I was alone with him. He didn’t deny it; didn’t castigate me for violating his privacy. Perhaps he intended to. He opened his mouth to say something, but I stopped him with a kiss. Whatever words would have come out were lost, as he sucked hard on my tongue, his need as palpable and living as mine. As palpable and living as the Force.
And that’s how it was between us, how it was until his death. I failed him, failed to save him from Maul. I lost my master, yes. I lost my lover, too.
I trained the boy. I did my best. It was all I could do for Qui-Gon, the only promise I could fulfill. And it wasn’t enough.
I found myself going back to the pleasure houses he had frequented, talking to the boys he’d had. Only talking. I paid them to talk, to tell me about him. I don’t know if they really remembered – they have so many clients. But they earned their money telling me stories, making me hard and aching with desire as I listened, remembering when he’d taken me like he took them.
It was on Coruscant itself that I found my release. It was in a pleasure house, but not one I’d been to before. I had a bad feeling about it when I walked by, but I went in anyway. There was a man there – I thought at first he was a client. He looked too old for this Life, and too... unusual. Tall, powerful looking, with long hair, an oddly shaped nose, and a smile that made my heart leap. He looked like Qui-Gon Jinn.
I won’t say what I did with him. It was not like what I had done with my master, not loving, not needy. He would have pretended love and desire and the pain of great need, if I’d asked. After all, that’s part of what the clients pay for – a convincing portrayal. But it’s not what I wanted. I wanted pain; I wanted punishment; I wanted to atone for my failure as best I could. I left there in physical pain and emotional anguish. A man who looked like Qui-Gon punished me with his body, but that didn’t expiate my sin.
No, something else did. That night, after the boy slept, I knelt and meditated. I stayed immobile for hours. In pain from the punishment, in pain from immobility, in agony from my failure. Yet with some pride at not giving into the pain, at having the strength of a Jedi to endure and to cope. I stayed up all night that way.
It was late, perhaps even early in the morning when he came to me. It might have been a false vision – sleep deprivation can make the mind weak. I didn’t feel weak, though. I believed then that it was him. “You did no wrong, Obi-wan,” he said. “You did not fail me. It was my time, my time to be one with the Force. Yoda was right.” And then he chuckled, that half a laugh I knew so well. “He was wrong about Attachments,” he added, “but right about the rest. Train the boy. He will bring balance to the Force.” There was such conviction in his voice. The last thing he said to me – if it really was him – was, “This is not the end of the story. You and I will be together again.” He left me – if it really was him, if he ever was with me – with a new hope.