DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the characters from Star Wars in any shape or form. I own any OC I can invent, though. I am not making a £ out of this. It is just for shits and giggles.
Finally what you folks have all been waiting for! It's been an awful lot of time and it's long overdue with the craziness that my life has become, etc... but here is the first out-and-out romantic scene between our two favourite nerds!
In this chapter: some angst, some philosophy, but mostly fluff.
Warnings: PTSD, mentions of child abuse, mentions of sexual abuse, LGBTQIPA+ themes (just in case you ask, they're both bi, but Obi-Wan is also gray-ace).
"Ha! I knew you would make it!" Reeft exclaimed, wrapping Obi-Wan into a bear hug while the others cheered and hooted like fans at a bolo-ball match.
Maul seemed still a bit shocked by the whole chain of events and limited himself to smiling wanly as he hid in his cloak, trying to regroup.
At least no one tried to hug him, Obi-Wan thought, but he extracted himself from the hug-fest as soon as he was able to and moved back to his side to support him if he so required.
"So you're going to be living with us for a while..." Xiaan commented, giving him a once-over.
"It appears to be so." Maul replied in the stiff, slightly standoffish way that he used when he wasn't very comfortable.
"Are you going to be taking classes with us too?" A'sharad intervened.
Maul considered the matter for a moment, as if he had not quite thought about it yet, then nodded.
"I suppose I will be. - he replied - I have much to learn about everything."
"That's so rad!" the Tusken boy said.
"Rad?" Maul repeated, quirking an eyebrow.
"Cool? Awesome?" A'sharad volunteered.
"Do you really think so?" Maul asked.
"Yeah, of course! - the Padawan replied, slightly defensive - We haven't had new recruits in ages and you are the guy who kicked the Sith Lord in the pants. It's legit, man." he reassured.
"Padawan Kenobi has as much credit for that as I do." Maul protested, as usual, even though it wasn't strictly true.
"Which beggars the question: why is Obi-Wan not a Knight yet again?" Bant asked, arms akimbo and a stern tone in her voice.
"I have no idea, to be honest. - he replied, surprising himself with the realisation that he really didn't care overmuch - I suppose they want me to concentrate on helping the others out more than on striking off on my own." he replied.
"But if you don't get knighted, Master Qui-Gon can't take me as his next Padawan!" Anakin protested, slipping in the conversation.
"You're barely ten yet! - Quinlan exclaimed, ruffling his hair - You should enjoy the peace and quiet of being an Initiate while it lasts, kiddo."
"Yeah, just group lessons and no one to boss you around 24/7. It sounds like a dream from where we stand." Garen interjected with a theatrical sigh.
"That's not true! Master Dooku is giving me one-to-one remedial lessons. And he is strict!" he protested.
"Oooh. Maybe he is going to end up taking one last Padawan, after all. - Xiaan intervened in a wondering tone - Especially if Master Jinn decides to tutor both Obi-Wan and Maul."
"Hey, folks, isn't it a bit early days to start speculating about who is going to do what?! - Obi-Wan protested - We've only just come out of the hearing, and the Council is still in session. Who knows what they are going to concoct?" he added, waving his arm towards the closed door.
"Well said mate! - Quinlan exclaimed, wrapping a lanky arm loosely around his shoulders - Let's not think about it now. We have more important things to do, like commemorating the fact that you are both still here with us." he declared.
"We bought cake, to celebrate. - Bant added - And without any looma fruit. Obi-Wan told us you are allergic." she added, turning towards Maul.
"Uh... thanks. - he said, oddly tongue-tied, flushing in embarrassment under the tattoos - And yes, it really does a number on me." he added, directing a quick glance and a wave of grateful feelings towards Obi-Wan.
"And then maybe we can show you around. - Anakin added - This place is huge and full of awesome things." he added enthusiastically.
"Yes, I am sure you have never seen anything quite like it." Bant added.
They all seemed to have adopted Maul as if he was just some kind of exchange student or something like that, and it was sweet and heartwarming, but Obi-Wan imagined that it could also be quite overwhelming, especially after a stressful experience such as the meeting. Maul looked a bit like a rabbit in the headlights, now that he thought of it.
"You don't have to do it if you don't want to." he whispered through the link.
"It's fine. Just a bit sudden. - Maul replied - I think I can manage." he added.
"You can always use the safe word if it becomes too much. - Obi-Wan reminded him - You say it and I get you out of there, alright? And don't worry about offending other folks if we leave. Your welfare comes first." he added with a wave of affection and comfort.
"Alright." Maul agreed in the same tone.
"I can't wait for you to show it to me, Lady Knight. - he said out loud - Lead the way, please." he added, gesturing towards the distance.
Bant giggled a bit, saying something about gallantry and manners, then set off, and the whole group followed her along the corridor towards the mess hall.
Obi-Wan fell in step with Maul and when he extended a questing hand towards him, the Padawan took it, and if someone found it strange, at least they didn't say it out loud and they walked hand in hand all the way, wrapped in the cheer and laughter of the others and in their own private bubble of joy.
"How do you feel?" Obi-Wan asked, much, much later as they settled down for the night.
"Totally wrecked. - Maul replied, stretching comfortably on the mattress - I would have never thought that carrying a conversation with people for a few hours would be so draining." he added.
"You didn't have to go along with everything they suggested, if you didn't feel like it." Obi-Wan chided gently. He lifted the blanket and slipped into bed, facing his friend, so that they could continue their conversation as they had grown used to do.
"I know... -Maul sighed, closing his eyes - But I didn't want to give them the impression that I couldn't take it. It was hardly a strenuous challenge."
"And you have a badass reputation to mantain." Obi-Wan commented, only half-joking.
"I do, in fact. - the Zabrak replied in a waspish tone - They are your childhood friends, but they are just strangers to me. I need to make sure I am not seen as a pushover."
"You, a pushover? Never. - Obi-Wan retorted with a chuckle - I just don't want you to push yourself too hard."
"I don't think I can help it. - Maul replied with another sigh - This is the way I am. Everything is a challenge."
"Not this, I hope..." the Padawan commented, gesturing to indicate both of them and the bed they were curled in.
"No, not this. This is safe. You are safe." Maul replied quietly, and his feelings were also quiet and relaxed as they came through the link.
Obi-Wan was tired too, the emotional rollercoaster of the day ahd left him bone-weary, and he couldn't think of anything better than to let himself be lulled to sleep by that quiet affection.
"I will always be here to catch you." he promised.
There was a moment of silence and a blaze of happiness and anguish and doubt. Maul looked at him with an intense, hungry weight to his gaze, then closed his eyes once more with a sigh.
"I am afraid I love you." he confessed.
"Well, but I love you too. - Obi-Wan replied along the accepted lines, feigning calm - I thought you knew. I don't see where the problem is."
"You don't understand. - Maul retorted, his voice and feelings thick with frustration - I love you not just as a friend. I love you all the way. I want to be by your side and make you happy. I want to hold you... and kiss you... I want everything." he confessed in a whisper, lowering his eyes and curling up as if expecting a violent reaction.
Obi-Wan froze, struck mute and paralyzed by that confession. It was not so much that he had not realised that Maul had feelings for him, because those feelings had an exact mirror in his own heart, but that he had openly voiced them, and now they were there, bright and warm and real and he could not ignore them or try to downplay them any longer.
"I... know that you are probably not gay, and I didn't even think I was gay myself, before, but from the little I know, what I feel for you is not just friendly love. It's the same kind of love I felt for the girls. - Maul continued - I... I am sorry if this makes you uncomfortable, but I didn't want to keep on lying to you, to keep on pretending that I saw you just as a friend so that I could make you stay here. I didn't want to run the risk of you finding out later and thinking that I had always manipulated you. And you have been so bloody wonderful today, and I don't know... this seemed like the time when everything was possible, so there, I said it. It's done. I am ready to face the consequences." he added sadly, withdrawing even more.
"It's alright if you don't want to sleep here anymore. I... I understand. - he continued when Obi-Wan remained silent - I would never hurt you, or do things that make you feel uncomfortable. No is like a sacred word for me, but I understand that it might feel wrong to stay here, knowing... knowing that I feel physical attraction towards you." he continued, increasingly dejected and embarrassed, increasingly prepared for rejection.
"You don't have to do anything, alright? I am not trying to push you into something because you feel sorry for me. And I know that maybe it's not just that you don't want it, but also that you can't because of your vows. - he continued, trying to reassure him - You say no, and I will can it forever. I can be your friend, I can toe the line. You are safe with me. Just don't shut me out, please. Tell me I have not lost you and all that we could be." he pleaded, and only then Obi-Wan realised that he had closed the link almost completely.
His mind was in utter turmoil.
He had let his feelings for his nemesis run their course, so far, influenced by the honest, open intimacy that Maul had continued to grant him. He had not even tried to examine them too deeply, let alone keep them in check as he was supposed to do, and now he didn't know what to do. Those feelings that churned into his heart, they were no longer strictly brotherly or friendly. They had not been for a while, if he was totally honest with himself.
How many times he had battled the impulse to kiss him in the last week or so? And how many times had his skin itched with the desire to touch him and be touched?
And what about that morning, what about the warm feeling that had started twisting in his gut when Maul had come out of the room in his new clothes and he had wanted nothing better than to admire him for a while and then help him out of them straight afterwards?
His body had awakened in ways that had never manifested themselves before and he had found the situation not alarming, but exhilarating.
He had been in love before, or at least he imagined that he must have been. The brief spike of intense feeling he had experienced towards Siri had then morphed into a steady, friendly, acceptable affection, but he had nearly thrown his future in the Order away for Satine once.
He had felt a profound sense of affection, respect and companionship for the young Duchess, their ideals had matched in many ways and she had been undeniably beautiful and lovely. He had been in love, but it had been a tame, gentle love, one more of the spirit than of flesh and blood and passion.
It had made him feel happy, but guilty at the same, like a quitter, like a man that throws his ideal in the gutter for a pretty face, and in the end he had given up on it.
For duty, for the only life he had known, the only life he could imagine for himself back then.
He had done the right thing at the time, he always told himself, and he should do it again.
He should tell Maul that it had to stop, that likely it was not real, that it was just a transfert effect, a backlash from his previous experiences, or a consequence of forced intimacy.
He should tell him that if they stopped sleeping together, if they stopped sharing minds, it would all go away.
He should lie and tell him that he didn't feel the same, but he found out that he could not and deep down he didn't want to.
Back on Mandalore he had been too young and inexperienced, and the AgriCorps debacle had been too fresh in his mind for him to realise that there was more beyond the Order, too dogmatic to think that the Code might not spell the absolute truth.
Back then the world had been black and white, sharply defined despite Master Qui-Gon's efforts, but now, after what he had been through, after the events he had witnessed, he could see the shades of grey, he could see them all around, and in one of those shades of grey, balanced between peace and passion, lay the possibility of not having to run away in fear from anyone who got too close, of sharing his life with others, of love.
"Please, Obi-Wan, say something..." Maul pleaded, pale and tense, distressed, and it was real, all of it.
He had felt his love reverberate through him and it had felt good, and if a Darksider could swich sides, and a Dark Lord could be kicked in the ass by a Padawan and an Apprentice, then everything was possible, even that a Jedi might love, love with all his heart and soul and flesh, and not turn Dark, and it might have been the influence of his partner's recklessness, but he wanted to try.
He leaned in gently, slowly and stopped when his nose was mere inches from Maul's and he wanted to ask, but the words dried in his throat and evaporated from his mind, so he just opened the link as wide as it would go and looked in his partner's red-gold eyes as understanding slowly dawned in them.
Maul nodded quietly, breathless and Obi-Wan couldn't tell who moved first, only that they met in the middle, pressing their lips together in a tentative, gentle kiss and he could not think of feel anything else but the soft pressure of his lips against his own, and the warmth of his skin where they touched, holding each other tight, and he tasted sweeter than honey, headier than wine and he was in way over his head, but he loved it.
"I didn't know I was gay either, but I'm glad I found out." he whispered when they finally parted.
Maul hummed under his breath but didn't reply. He was too busy carding his fingers through Obi-Wan's hair, a contented, dreamy expression on his face.
"Even though I suppose the right word might be bisexual." the Jedi continued, victim of his own kind of babbling attack.
"I didn't even know that was a word. - Maul admitted with a low chuckle. - And I never liked men before you."
"Me neither. - Obi-Wan admitted - You are one of a kind, my nemesis. I never felt like this for anyone, man or woman, before." he confessed.
Maul gave him a sceptical look. "What about your two blond girlfriends?" he asked, a hint of jealousy showing in his tone.
"I loved them, but differently. - Obi-Wan replied - It was never physical. I never felt the urge to... do some of things I want to do with you." he confessed, blushing furiously.
"And what would those be?" Maul whispered in his ear, nearly vibrating with anticipation.
"Anything you like." Obi-Wan replied, and Maul captured his lips again, kissing him with passion and urgency, and then pressed him back against the mattress, straddling his waist as he kissed him breathless, and somehow Obi-Wan's hands found their way under the shirt of his pajamas and he could finally, finally run them all over his skin like he had wanted for a long, long time.
Maul's hands had found their way into his clothes too and he felt as if his skin whas igniting wherever he touched, and his body was full of fire and delight and it was maddening and wonderful, and he could tell that Maul was feeling the same.
The undeniable signs of their arousal were rubbing together as they rocked against each other, filling them with pleasure and it was all good, until suddenly it was not and a flood of anxiety and worry flowed through the link.
Maul pulled back, quick as lightning, and knelt on the unmade bed in a pall of frustration, shame, and anxiety, tense as a violin string and ready to bolt.
"Did it...?" Obi-Wan asked, rising on an elbow.
Maul extended his thumb and forefinger mimicking a blaster, then sharply lowered his thumb, pulling an imaginary trigger.
"Yeah, boom... - he replied, shaking his head - I was fine, and then... I was not." he added, a slight tremor in his voice.
Obi-Wan sat up but he didn't know what to do. He wanted to offer comfort, but he didn't want to crowd him or force him to accept any kind of contact when he was in that state so he just sat there, on his hands, so that he wouldn't even be tempted.
"And it's not bloody fair, because I know it is you, and I know you're nothing like him in any concievable way, but something inside me doesn't see the difference... - Maul continued, looking up at him with wide eyes and pinprick pupils - I loved it. And I want it. I want everything you are willing to give me. I don't want him to take even this from me, from us." he said, and he lowered his gaze again as his eyes filled with tears.
"He is not. - Obi-Wan said quietly - It is going to get better with time, you'll see."
Maul didn't reply. He didn't even look up.
"It's only been a week since you kicked him out once and for all, and it's been a long day. - Obi-Wan continued - Give yourself time. It's not your fault, none of this is. Let's take it easy, one step at a time. Kissing is fine, isn't it?" he asked.
Maul risked a glance, then nodded quietly.
"Then we can kiss. Let's take it from there and see how it goes. - the Jedi proposed - You set the pace. You decide what to do and when to stop. I have waited until now, I can wait as long as you need. You are worth the wait, my nemesis." he added softly, extending comforting feelings towards him.
"What... what if it never gets better? Not all the way? What if I can't...?" Maul asked, still trembling slightly, still in the grip of the thing that made him feel worthless and broken.
"It won't make a difference to me. - Obi-Wan replied with a wry smile - I will still love you and cherish the things we can do together. I want you to be happy and safe. This is the only thing that matters to me, the only thing that ever will. I promise." he added, leaving the link as open as possible so that he could see that it was true, without catches.
Maul kept silent and still for a moment longer, then sighed.
"I believe you. - he whispered - I... I just think that you are so kind, and brave, and beautiful... you could have anyone you wanted, and..."
"And I want you. I want to be by your side as you find the truth you're looking for, as you become the person that you wish to be. - Obi-Wan retorted - You make me happy. You make me feel full of life. I felt detached from things, I felt superior, but now I am in the thick of it, and I laugh and cry and get angry, and I care. I feel life all around me, the pulse, the flow, the struggle. You changed me, and I like this change. I like how we changed and learned together, and I can't wait to see the rest."
He would have added more, but Maul kissed him again, silencing him, and he could taste the salt of tears on his lips, and maybe he was crying too, and smiling at the same time, and his heart was so full that it felt like it was going to burst, and that was what he meant, and that was what he wanted, the fullness, the ache, even the tears, and the peace of knowing that he was where he was supposed to be.
"You are a sweet-talker, little Padawan..." Maul whispered fondly between kisses. Eventually they had lain back down on the bed, side by side, too worn to even try to do much more than holding each other and enjoying warmth and contact. It felt good.
"And you like it." Obi-Wan retorted.
"I like everything about you. - Maul confessed - Your voice, your eyes, your scent... even your silly Padawan braid." he added, but with hardly any bite to his tone.
"Now who is the sweet-talker?" Obi-Wan joked.
"I'm exhausted. I've even run out of sarcasm for the day." Maul retorted with a slight smirk.
"We should try and sleep. - Obi-Wan proposed - Are you going to be alright with sleeping next to me after...?"
Maul nodded and snuggled as close as he possibly could without stabbing him with his horns, trying to find a comfortable position to sleep.
"I'll take it as a yes." Obi-Wan whispered, wrapping his arms around him so that there was hardly any space between them.
Comfort and calm washed over him, covering him like another blanket and the way Maul fit against him felt just perfect, as if the Force had made them especially for each other.
"Passion, and yet peace." he told himself, smiling as he fell asleep.