Disclaimer: I don't own the boys, therefore I wouldn't dare to make money with this.

Author's Notes: This is a tentative ending for MorningHell's "Obdurate Heart", which contains a massive amount of Maul/Obi slash. If you don't that, don't bother with this.

If you're wondering what I'm talking about, go find "Obdurate Heart" via my bio, where it's listed as a favorite.

This thing has been sitting on my computer since fall 2006, when it became clear that MorningHell wouldn't end Obdurate Heart. Since I sometimes have trouble living with unfinished stories, I wrote an ending just so I could have closure.

However, I recently remembered that I actually wrote this, and decided to just go ahead and ask if I was allowed to post. I was, and I hope I'm doing MorningHell justice with this.

I did emulate her style a little, but I know it doesn't sound like her, and it's too quick and dirty.


Chapter XXVII

"It may help human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people."

– Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens


Obi-Wan woke from uneasy dreams just when dawn sent its first tentative light over the horizon. He tried in vain to fall asleep again for half an hour, then got up and watched the sunrise, since he had nothing better to do and meditation eluded him.

The sight of Theed palace this early in the morning was strangely peaceful, and also made Obi-Wan wish he could share it with someone.

"How terribly romantic. I didn't think you were quite that sappy," Maul would say, but would snuggle close anyway. Maybe. There would never be a chance to find out.

Nevertheless, he made himself wait until well after the scheduled examination, then sought out the droid.

"He is well enough for some light exercise," it declared. "You should encourage him to walk around a little. At this pace, he shall be fit enough for a trial in another standard tenday or so."

A small lump of dread settled in Obi-Wan's stomach at the announcement. It screamed that a tenday was not nearly enough time, only ten more days until the Council would arrange transport, only ten more days of wit sharpening repartees, philosophical discussions and unexpected tenderness.

Obi-Wan hated himself for that weakness, the attachment he had so fought and yet was unable to deny.

To distract himself, he relayed the news to Qui-Gon, who was busy with some thing or another, but didn't bother to tell Obi-Wan about it. Only then no more excuses were left.

Maul was awake, sitting on the edge of his bed and glaring at Obi-Wan.

"Hey," Obi-Wan said, sure he knew what had prompted the hostility.

Maul patted the bed in response. "Come here."

Raising an eyebrow at that most unusual greeting, Obi-Wan did as he was told, and was pulled into an almost frantic kiss. For a moment, he could feel raw need pouring off Maul, choking him with demands and implications, then the shields were restored and Obi-Wan's attention expertly diverted.

Despite all his resolve, he could not bring himself to protest, because who was he to deny a dying man water or a desperate man some reassurance? Something had rattled Maul deeply, he was sure.

Later, Obi-Wan let himself be pinned down by Maul, who was pressing his face into Obi-Wan's shoulder as if he wanted to memorize the feeling of it.

"You have given me the perfect in," Obi-Wan realized.

Maul opened one eye questioningly.

"If I threatened to stay away… it would be interesting to find out how much you would do to get me back."

Maul raised his head and gave him a smug look. "You couldn't stay away from me if you tried," he drawled, and resumed his nuzzling.

Blinking, Obi-Wan considered the potential answers, but found them all to be wrong – lies to himself or lies to others or one word that would be like a step off a cliff. Surely honesty was preferable?

"True," he admitted, and took the step.

He could feel Maul's smile on his skin, and released a relieved breath. No insults or jibes were coming forth. Instead of his soul being a stain on the ground it found itself caught in its fall.

"So…" he said. "What happened?"

Maul stopped his ministrations, but did not bother to look up. "Things are coming to a close."

"The droid said you'll be well enough to endure a trial in a week or so."

"It also suggested some light exercise… I do not think it has an idea that you're providing me with some already."

Obi-Wan slapped a conveniently placed arm. "We were being serious for once," he scolded and refused to get flustered by the comment.

"Hmm," Maul agreed.

"And you're being too quiet."

With a small sound that might have been a sigh, Maul hefted himself up and placed his mouth on Obi-Wan's ear. "I don't want to die just yet," he whispered.

"If you'd just agree to cooperate…"

"…They would still lock me up. In the most rancid holding facility this side of the galaxy, as I believe you said. Same difference."

Obi-Wan made to protest, then thought better of it. This might have been a confession of sorts – Maul just might miss him. Also, if Obi-Wan had understood the insinuations properly, Maul had become what he was just to stay alive. He already had been locked up all his life… Taking the moral high ground was ever so easy when you didn't have a knife to your throat.

Slowly, it occurred to him that he would miss Maul, too. Overcome with a sudden wave of grief, he began to caress Maul's back who soon wriggled out of his embrace.

"You had better leave now."

Somehow, it felt like he was being thrown out. Obi-Wan dressed quickly and fought the need to apologize, although he had no idea what he had done, or not done, for that matter.

"I'll be back tomorrow," he said and did not bother to wait for a reply.

xxx

As in the past days, it was impossible to reach a state where all thought went still and there was pure concentration. Obi-Wan rolled his shoulders but stayed put on the terrace. All day his reasoning had run in circles, and he was tired of it.

Maybe if he took one hard and honest look on the situation, he could come to a conclusion and find something that he could focus on for meditation.

Very well. So he was in love, if he had to name the mess of protectiveness, tenderness, lust and sheer need for closeness he felt when it came to Maul. He was not entirely sure he also did love Maul – the man was just so infuriating sometimes.

His feelings would put Obi-Wan into a severe quandary even if Maul were not a Sith. No matter if fellow Padawan or civilian, Obi-Wan would have to chose between a relationship and the Jedi. There were ways to do good outside the order, though, as he knew. One would not get directed around so much, but would not have the peer pressure to keep the moral standards.

In any other situation, Obi-Wan just might risk disappointing Qui-Gon a second time and leave, only reality involved a Sith who had done unspeakable things and deserved punishment.

Closing his eyes again he looked inward and asked for counsel on the matter. Did Maul need to pay? If the Force demanded a rectifying of things, he would not argue.

Meditation did come more easily, although it was a disappointment… Obi-Wan had the distinct feeling that the Force had given him a shrug. I have no quarrels with the tattooed man. Besides, he did pay – just look at that tattoo, or ask about childhood memories… or look at how he feels now, torn between anger at you for not being able to comfort him and wanting you there all the same.

Obi-Wan blinked and was back in reality. Vague plans of a great escape sidled back into their holes as he took in his surroundings and realized he was being watched.

"Good evening, Master," he said.

"Good evening, Padawan."

Qui-Gon sat down on the ground beside him. "There's a few things I wanted to discuss with you."

"Yes, Master."

"First off… you are sporting an enormous hickey."

What? Where? Oh that idiotic Sith.

"On your left shoulder," Qui-Gon elaborated, and sure enough, Obi-Wan's fluttering fingers found a sore spot only half hidden by his tunic. He cold feel the mother of all flushes creeping up his neck into his cheeks, and had the definite urge to run.

Qui-Gon laughed softly. "No need to panic, Padawan. Everyone does some experimenting sooner or later, though I do trust you to end it now, before anything happens that you or the young lady will regret later."

Obi-Wan nodded, gaze firmly fixed on the ground, while his heartbeat slowed down a little. Now all he had to do was to keep Qui-Gon in the belief that some young lady was actually involved.

"Of course, Master."

"Very well. I never had any complaints about your conduct in these matters, so I'm positive you'll act responsibly. What I am actually here about is our prisoner. I had some lengthy talks with the Council in the past few days, and they have decided to hold the trial here. Various wronged parties are being contacted and invited just now… they want you to act as a character witness, by the way."

Obi-Wan snapped his head up. "… they might not like my opinion."

Rubbing the bridge of his nose, Qui-Gon sighed. "Here you go again. As long as you're being honest they will respect whatever opinion you have formed on Maul's character, whether they like it or not."

Stung by the reprimand, Obi-Wan studied the pattern of the tiles. "Yes, Master."

"We are also positive that your estimate was correct – Maul will not start talking. The Councilors are currently discussing which methods to break him are sanctioned by the Code." Qui-Gon's tone implied that he didn't like the idea in the least.

"Torture is not the way of the Jedi", Obi-Wan offered calmly.

"No, it's not. However, breaking and entering is not out of the question."

The calm, defeated statement made Obi-Wan shudder. The thought of having one's mind stripped bare and ravaged for information… could anyone survive that intact? Would Maul be able to realize what kind of prison he was in or would he be a mere hull? A vegetable neither capable of feeding nor cleaning itself…

"I'll try to talk some sense into him tomorrow."

"You do that." Qui-Gon gave Obi-Wan a pat on the shoulder, as if wishing good luck. "And you might consider to seek out Anakin before he forgets what you look like."

"Yes, Master."

xxx

Obi-Wan found Anakin shortly before bedtime, so not to be obliged to stay very long.

"Hello," he said.

The boy seemed greatly pleased to see him. "Hi. Haven't seen you in ages."

"I was busy." Obi-Wan plopped down on the ground next to Anakin.

"Uh-uh. So how's the Sith?"

"I'm not sure. He hasn't started to talk yet, but I think he's finally showing some nerves. I hope he's going to reconsider."

Anakin gave him a shrewd look. "Why?"

"Excuse me?"

"Why do you hope he's going to reconsider? I mean – of course you want information, but you… I dunno… sound like you don't want him hurt."

This boy was far too perceptive.

"I've talked to him… and I realized he probably didn't join willingly."

"What?"

"Look… you left your home because you wanted to, didn't you?"

Anakin nodded. "It's much better than being Watto's slave… I miss my Mum a little, though."

"Hmm. I'm sure she's alright. But suppose someone forced you to leave, by threatening to kill you or your mother if you didn't."

"You mean someone made Maul do all those things?" Anakin's eyes widened in understanding.

"Yes."

"Whoa… like a slave collar. Urrgh." He shook himself to demonstrate his opinion.

Yes, urrgh. It summed up the situation nicely.

xxx

"Morning," Obi-Wan greeted Maul, because surely it did not deserve the term 'good' in any way. He hadn't slept much because of nightmares, and Maul, too, did look rather worse for wear.

Nevertheless, Maul sat up lazily and regarded Obi-Wan with an inscrutable look.

"You're early."

"Hmm." Obi-Wan let himself sink down next to Maul and dry washed his face. "I have news. Only I'm afraid they are all bad."

Maul raised a non-existent eyebrow. "Is there any other kind these days?"

"It depends on the point of view, I'm sure."

Clucking his tongue, Maul reached out and ruffled Obi-Wan's hair. "So start talking already."

With a sigh, Obi-Wan tipped on the spot where the hickey was. He still had trouble to reign in his anger about Maul's thoughtlessness. "Care to explain this?"

Maul leaned in and examined the spot, finally giving it a small peck. "You got into trouble about it?"

"I would have if my Master didn't trust me implicitly."

"Mmh." Maul put his hand under Obi-Wan's chin, running his thumb over the cleft and finally tugging a little to make Obi-wan look at him.

"I'm sorry, Obi-Wan," he said in a somber tone. For once, he seemed completely open and unguarded, and Obi-Wan wondered why he had once found these eyes to be repulsive.

"Just be more careful next time," he said and leaned forward for a quick kiss.

"There won't be so many next times, if your mood is any indication," Maul noted and withdrew.

"No… they are going to hold the trial here. The Council and 'other wronged parties' are currently on the way."

"This is hardly a surprise."

"No, it's not." Obi-Wan sighed. "Only they are apparently willing to try and break your shields by sheer force if you don't cooperate."

"Thus ending this little farce with a bigger one," Maul supplied dryly.

"Aren't you afraid they might succeed?"

"If they do, it won't matter much to me any more, won't it? Either way I'm dead."

"Maul… please reconsider."

"I thought you didn't like me much."

"Only when you're hell-bent to maintain your Sith-like demeanor."

"I am a Sith," Maul pointed out calmly.

"And I'm a Jedi. Yet I think I have sufficiently proven that I don't have a durasteel pipe shoved up my backside, because otherwise no… appendages of yours would fit there."

Maul burst out laughing before Obi-Wan could regret his comment. He knew that his face was turning a most fascinating shade of red.

"I shall miss this," Maul panted when he had regained some sort of composure. Then, he made a little choked noise and hugged his knees to his chest.

Obi-Wan bit his lip. This was exactly the point where they had left off yesterday. He reached out and took one of Maul's hands.

"We don't know what kind of deal they are going to offer."

"And you don't get it, do you? I'm a pawn, and always have been. I never was privy to the big plan because I was meant to die here."

"Oh," Obi-Wan said. Apparently Maul had been bluffing the whole time… "So even if you wanted to strike a deal…"

"I couldn't."

"Why didn't you just say so?"

Maul made a vague gesture with his hands. "Self preservation. It's what I excel at."

Suddenly suspicious, Obi-Wan narrowed his eyes. "I guess seducing me was a means to that end, too."

"At first," Maul admitted. A punch into Obi-wan's guts couldn't have been more painful. He fought the urge to strangle Maul here and now, too stunned to speak or, preferably, shout.

"But I did grow to like you," Maul continued. "Which puts me in a certain predicament."

"Indeed?" Obi-Wan sneered.

"Quite so." Maul raised his head and gazed at Obi-Wan levelly. "I suddenly found myself concerned with your feelings. I can hardly ask you to help me escape when it would result in you being unhappy."

"Do forgive me, but I have some trouble believing that," Obi-Wan said, feeling incredibly weary. This conversation had crossed most possible emotions by now and was looking to revisit some, and Obi-Wan really had no inclination to follow it anymore.

Maul sighed, apparently as exhausted as Obi-Wan. Slowly, the tight shielding around the Sith's mind let up, and invited Obi-Wan to see. It was a vortex of pure fear. Darkness incarnate. With something that had to be a tremendous mental effort, it thinned and let other things through, mainly confusion centering around Obi-Wan, who also found that curious mix of emotion he felt towards Maul, like a warm cave in a snowstorm. He retreated, and the shields slammed back up again. In a scramble of limbs, Maul was on the other side of the bed, looking extremely defensive.

Obi-Wan regarded Maul for a moment, trying to understand what he had just seen. So it was genuine interest… but right now, he couldn't feel offended by it, just glad that there was someone as scared and confused as he was. He worried his lower lip while an oppressive silence settled in the room. A decision kept eluding him.

"I'm sorry," he said after a while. "I need some time to think about this."

Maul nodded grimly. "Good-bye, then."

xxx

"Ambassador Dulan," Qui-Gon greeted with as much enthusiasm as he could muster. The man had had the impertinence to outright demand a meeting.

"Master Jinn. Thank you for having me at such a short notice." Dulan gave a small bow, ostensibly deferential, yet at the same time he exuded a smugness that made Qui-Gon rather uneasy.

"How may I be of service?" Qui-Gon asked. Best to get right down to whatever unpleasant business the ambassador had brought.

A smirk ghosted over Dulan's face. "It appears you forgot to mention that your Padawan learner was present at the holding cell when Omad died."

Suppressing a frown, Qui-Gon tried to look vaguely interested. "It seemed of no consequence."

"And indeed it would have been. However…" Dulan produced a datapad with a small flourish, "other things have come to our notice as well, and would have come to yours also, had you bothered to have a look at the cell's surveillance. Your apprentice seems to be rather… fond of Darth Maul, to put it mildly. I'm sure it's in your and his best interest if a thing like that was kept quiet."

With exaggerated care, Dulan set the datapad on Qui-Gon's desk, where its white casing was a stark contrast against the dark gleaming wood, a spot almost impossible to overlook, like that love bite on Obi-Wan's shoulder.

"…all we ask of you is to support our position in the oncoming trial," Dulan finished his little speech, although Qui-Gon was sure he had tuned out at least one sentence. He nodded, but didn't bother to see the ambassador out.

Sighing, he picked the datapad up, although now that the connection was made, he would not need it. Voyeurism wouldn't change anything.

He needed to find Obi-Wan quickly, to see how far the corruption had progressed, and then he would need to ask Queen Amidala for quarters in which a Jedi apprentice could be kept grounded.

If there had been a transgression on Obi-Wan's part, it was to be punished, not covered up. Here, at least, Dulan had severely miscalculated.

xxx

Matters took one stroll through the garden to resolve. For a while, a song was echoing through Obi-Wan's mind. Can't live with him, can't live without him. Only the 'without' would be permanent, and extremely painful, and Obi-wan knew he would regret damning Maul for as long as he lived. Maul had offered him something that was as good as a confession of love, and what he really should have done was saying 'I love you, too', or some other sappy nonsense.

And then they could have gone and planned an escape.

Finally, he settled under a tree for some meditation, and reaching the state of pure concentration was surprisingly easy.

After a while, on a whim, he went looking for everyone's Force signature, found Qui-Gon and Anakin and, finally, Maul.

Obi-Wan, Maul's mind voice acknowledged. Didn't know you could do that.

Neither did I.

So why are you bothering me?

What would you do if you were free? The question had been nagging Obi-Wan for days now.

There was the mental equivalent of a shrug. I've never dared to contemplate such a thing.

So do it now.

I honestly don't know. All I ever knew was to be a weapon, at my master's disposal.

You really don't have any memories about your life before…

I was two. Or maybe three. Children that age don't have any conscious memory.

Oh.

Indeed. I surely wasn't your average Sith.

Could you be an average rogue Force-user?

Another mental shrug. What would that entail?

Putting some pirates out of business.

I already did that. It's not too hard.

Do you have any escape plans at the ready?

Stunned silence. Do I have what?

Escape plans. You're a Sith, don't tell me…

I won't. … where is my ship?

What ship?

My point exactly. All you have to do is drop by here as usual, then we pull an effort and mind trick the guards. We could be off-planet in less than half an hour.

And that's it?

You could try and procure my lightsaber and the speeder bike control if you want a challenge.

xxx

After an extended search, Qui-Gon found the boy in one of the gardens, deep in meditation, looking calm and serene as ever. Really, he felt like he did not know Obi-Wan anymore… why wasn't there any sight of an inner struggle? There had been, days ago, but he'd been too preoccupied to notice, and yesterday, apparently, it had already been resolved, a voice inside his mind nagged him. And to think he had never even pegged his apprentice as being attracted to men in the first place.

Finally, Obi-Wan opened his eyes, smiling a little when he realized Qui-Gon was there.

"Good evening, Master."

"Obi-Wan. Walk with me?"

"Of course." Confusion showed on Obi-Wan's face for a fleeting second. Rarely had he managed to shield that well.

"Ambassador Dulan just left here. He had some severe accusations to make."

"Of what nature?" Obi-Wan queried, entirely too… normally.

"That hickey… Maul left it, didn't he?"

Obi-Wan stopped. A ripple like a desperate call ran through the Force, then all went calm.

(In another place, a slightly confused Sith apprentice raised his head and let his nostrils flare as if tasting the wind. Soon. Sooner than expected, and more hurried. He had best get ready. A quick exertion of mind fed the surveillance camera a loop of himself dozing.)

"Yes," Obi-Wan said, chin high. There was no hint of shame there.

"Whatever were you thinking?"

"Nothing much, I believe." Obi-Wan's eyes sparkled briefly, for a moment his Padawan seemed to be his old self. "I followed my heart, just as you advised me. It took me through a lot of dark places."

"It has a tendency to do that. I only hoped that you would get wiser for it."

Obi-Wan shrugged. "I fell in love instead."

"I thought I taught you how to let go."

"You did." Obi-Wan shrugged. "It wouldn't let me go, however much I struggled."

Qui-Gon rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I don't understand you. In fact I feel like I never did. Are you truly willing to throw everything away for a man who surely will spend the rest of his life in a prison?"

Obi-Wan sighed. "He's already paid . I'll explain it later. Only now… I'm sorry."

Something behind Qui-Gon moved and then hit the back of his head, hard.

xxx

For a few seconds, Obi-Wan stood and gazed at his unconscious master. He'd gone and done something unforgivable. But the tree branch had hung just at the right angle, and what was he to do – let himself be herded away into some holding cell of his own?

After a last glance he spun around and ran to get Maul. Now was as good a time as any.

xxx


xxx

Epilogue

Love and do what you will.

- Augustinus


Master,

I suppose you're surprised that I'm not dead yet. Actually, I'm better than I have been in a long time.

We found ourselves a place where Maul can heal. I'm afraid our hurried escape didn't do the wound much good.

Finally, the wound was healing apace. Obi-Wan inspected the purplish scar critically, until Maul slapped his hand away.

"That tickles."

"I know…"

"Your insolence requires some punishment, Jedi."

"That was the idea." Obi-Wan grinned and bent down for a lazy kiss before Maul could pull him.

I'm aware someone is out to find us, but since we haven't left a trail of dead bodies, they'll have some trouble.

We're not planning to make things easier for them, so currently we're just the friendly gay couple next door. Maul, while temperamental, isn't exactly out to make my life, or anyone else's, miserable.

"Ben, dear," Nara, their elderly neighbor, stuck her head out of her apartment. "I made choc cookies. Would you like some?"

Obi-Wan laughed. "You know how Khameir loves these things. One day he'll burst from them, I swear."

Her eyes sparkled. "I'm sure you provide him with enough exercise, dear."

He coughed. He hadn't thought prim little old ladies could be so… well… dirty.

"Don't take me too seriously, dear." Her voice lowered. "Any word from his family?"

"Nah. All quiet. He'll be completely restored soon, so we'll be able to move."

She sighed. "Such a pity to lose you."

"We'll come see you sometimes."

Everything considered, I'm not sorry at all to have left. However, I would have liked to avoid hurting you in the process. I know you're sorely disappointed. I couldn't help it. I'm sorry and hope you'll be able to forgive me one day.

Say hello to Anakin for me. I'm positive he'll make a much better Padawan than I did.

"Still trying to finish that letter?" Maul asked and leaned over Obi-Wan's shoulder.

"Hmm. I'm done."

"Miracles do happen. May I?" Maul held out his hand.

"I only need to sign it."

Obi-Wan

-- Master Jinn,

While I am aware you must despise me deeply, I would still like to thank you for depositing a stray Sith like me on your Padawan's doorstep instead of keeping me for yourself.

M.

Obi-Wan shook his head. "You're impossible."

"No. I'm merely applying the Dark Side of humor."

Chuckling, Obi-Wan gave Maul a quick peck on the cheek. "I love you," he whispered.

"I know," Maul whispered back, earning his delicious backside a swat.


I sure hope no one's going to kill me for this…