Disclaimer: It's George's sandbox, I'm simply destroying the sandcastles.
Genre: Fluff. Pure, unadultered fluff
Era: Pre TPM, JA AU
Summary: The beginning of something great, good or bad, starts with a single step...
Notes: This little ficlet was written for an friend at the Force boards because she asked so nicely :) It is a precursor to Tragedy on the Landing Pad and delves into the beginning of Obi-Wan and Luminara's relationship.
It had started innocently enough - as most things do - with an introduction.
As children, they'd been introduced by the crèche master. As they grew, a friendship blossomed and they began to spend more time together. Sharing meals, lightsaber practices and meditation sessions. Common classes as Padawans before obtaining set Masters. First her, and then he just weeks before he'd have been shipped to the Agri-core.
For a time things plateaued between them as their new levels of training began. Focused on their independent training and the lessons of their Masters, they saw little of one another over the course of several years and their childhood friendship faded into memory. Padawans were discouraged from interacting in those initial, crucial stages of training and so it was with them.
Then, unexpectedly, their Masters were paired together for a mission and they were brought back together once more and their friendship was renewed...
"I don't see what good it is to sit here and listen."
"Observation can be a most useful tool, Padawan."
The brief, mutinous set of the other Padawan's features before they smoothed into acceptance was almost amusing - as amusing as the other Master's next words.
"Padawan Luminara gains much from observing her Master, as you will, Obi-Wan. Patience and persistence are key to negotiation."
Obi-Wan hesitated for a split second. "Yes, Master."
Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn chuckled softly and shook his head. "Stay here and observe. Someday soon you will need to do the negotiating."
The Jedi Master left the two Padawans as he went to join the discussion, and Obi-Wan sidled closer to Luminara, his gaze on their Masters. Luminara slanted him an amused look. "Is there a reason you dislike watching your Master negotiate, Padawan Kenobi?"
He made a face. "You used to call me Obi-Wan."
"And you still avoid a direct question."
He grinned, but quickly schooled his expression into one of polite interest lest it be misinterpreted by the delegates. "It's tedious. Anyone can see that to solve this conflict both sides must come to a mutual compromise."
"And what compromise is that?"
Their eyes met and Obi-Wan's lips twitched, threatening to break out into that adorable grin once more. "Land. Both wish it for something different and don't see that with careful planning, both could get what they want. They simply have to work together."
"Ah, but neither side is willing to work with the other lest it show weakness."
"Which is why this is tedious." Obi-Wan shifted his stance, doing his best to make as little noise as possible lest he disturb the discourse several feet away. "If each side would simply see that by giving they have the position of strength, they'd be bending over backwards to give as much as possible and resolve this conflict."
"Are you sure you're not the one who's supposed to be at the table, Obi-Wan?" Luminara's eyes sparkled in the depths of her hood. "You sound as if you have given this much thought."
"Before you and your Master arrived, Master Jinn and I spoke with both sides briefly to assess the situation. I've had little to do but think of a solution since."
"You would rather be elsewhere?"
"Wouldn't you?" Obi-Wan's look was knowing. "This is hardly your area of expertise."
"Negotiation is another form of healing - only it heals the bonds between neighbors instead of the bonds between cells." She looked back to where the Masters were continuing to listen to each side's grievances - real and imagined. "But you are correct. It does grow tedious."
Qui-Gon shot the two Padawans a cautionary look - their whispers had been noted and commented on by those at the table. He nodded to the door as Luminara's Master continued to speak. Obi-Wan inclined his head and half-bowed in apology before grabbing Luminara by the arm and pulling her from the room. She made no sound of protest, but there was tension in her posture that hadn't been there before. Obi-Wan waited until the door closed behind them and then exhaled with a grin.
"I thought he'd never let us leave."
"We should still be in there, Obi-Wan - and would be if you hadn't been determined to discourse."
He chuckled. "Same Luminara. Your welcome."
"I am being ungrateful, aren't I?"
"Maybe a little. Come on, there's a fabulous view of the canopy from the top level of the spire."
Luminara cast one last look at the door behind which their Masters were ensconced, and then turned to follow the other Padawan - and stopped. Obi-Wan was already walking away only this time she could see him clearly.
They'd been reintroduced inside the negotiation chamber and the only thing she'd noted was his change in height - he was now taller than she. He'd left the hood of his robe up, as she had, inside the chamber, but now it was thrown back. His short, cropped hair was spiky, his long Padawan braid trailing down over broad shoulders she didn't remember. And ones she hadn't really expected. When her Master had told her they were going to be teaming up with Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luminara had felt no more than curiosity about her childhood friend. Now, with him in front of her and walking away - his form cloaked beneath his Jedi robe - she found something more than her curiosity stirred.
Luminara shook off the strange sensation and followed, moving swiftly to catch up with him. Side by side, they took the stairs up several floors until they reached the lifts that would take them to the top of the spire. So quickly had this assignment come that she didn't really know which planet they were on - and it didn't really matter. As the lift doors closed them in, forcing them closer together, and shot towards the roof, the hairs on her arm prickled as if she was being watched.
Glancing at Obi-Wan, their eyes met and locked and he cocked an eyebrow. "Hiding something under that hood, Ara?"
Her mouth went dry at the soft inquiry that accompanied the nick name she hadn't heard since childhood. For some reason it was almost intimate, like a caress, and seemed to slide across her skin. She reached for her hood, wondering what he'd say to her new tattoos, only Obi-Wan hands came up to catch hers. She stopped, allowing him to take her hands in his as his thumbs gently traced over the tattoos on her knuckles.
"You've earned a few more honors I see."
He didn't release her hands, his thumbs continuing to brush the soft skin almost unconsciously as he searched the shadows of her hood. His fingers suddenly paused, his right hand lifting slowly away before reaching up to her hood.
Luminara tossed her head, and with a little encouragement from the tips of his fingers, it fell away. His eyes widened, his face echoing his surprise as he took in the new tattoos on the lower half of her face, just under her lower lip. His gaze seemed drawn to it, fixated on the stains - but not only on them. Seeming of their own accord, his errant fingers moved again to brush, whisper soft, against the sensitive skin under her lips.
They froze, awareness humming to life inside the turbo lift as tension spiked between them.
Obi-Wan's thumb moved, an echo of his similar caress against her knuckles, tracing the line of tattoos from the tip of her chin to the root and finally brushing ever so gently across the blackened bottom lip. The gasp that slipped from between her lips brought his gaze back to hers. She almost licked her lips as the thought came unbidden to mind.
Would he kiss her?
"Does it hurt?"
Whatever she'd been expecting him to say or do, that wasn't it. She shook her head fractionally, forcing away the errant desire. "The tenderness has mostly faded. My Master is very skilled in the healing arts and traditions of our people."
A ghost of a smile touched his lips. "She would have to be with you as her Padawan."
"You look undecided about something, Obi-Wan."
"I am." His confirmation was soft. "Something I think breaks my vows as a Jedi."
She arched an eyebrow in inquiry.
He said nothing, his hands dropping away as the turbo lift suddenly came to a stop and he stepped back from her. The doors opened onto the roof top patio, revealing the contrast of the twilight sky and never a ending sea of greenery that showcased the planet's primary resource. Other cities were visible in the distance, their lights winking on in the pre-darkness, but - as they stepped onto the terrace - their eyes were inevitably drawn upwards. A trio of moons surrounded the planet and one was always somewhere in the sky.
Luminara inhaled deeply, closing her eyes as she stretched her arms wide - almost as if she were trying to embrace the feeling and freshness. To absorb it for a time where there would be little of it surrounding her.
"Still the same Ara."
A smile curved her lips. "You knew I'd like this."
"I thought you would. When my Master told me you were coming, I immediately thought of this place - I only found it this morning."
Her eyes slowly opened, dark pools of near black as they stared almost straight upwards. Bent at the waist, her arms outstretched for balance, she kept them on the heavens rather than face the disturbing form of her friend and the un-Jedi like thoughts he brought unbidden. She couldn't help but wonder why he [i]hadn't[/i] kissed her in the turbo lift - if maybe he didn't want to - and for some reason that thought made her frown slightly. She shouldn't be wanting him to kiss her at all!
"Something the matter?"
She schooled her expression, banishing her frown. "Nothing of import."
His fingers slid over hers, down along the digits in an unintentional caress as he sought to draw her attention away from the emerging stars. Her fingers convulsed about his automatically, drawing them closer even as she wobbled, suddenly clutching his hand for balance. Something she hadn't needed to do for a long time and was symbolic of the effect he was unintentionally having on her. She did feel off kilter, almost like trying to walk upright under water.
Their eyes met once more and he smile faintly, his features shadowed by the semi-darkness. A pressure on his fingers tip brought her nearer. She didn't notice as he matched the step she took with one of his own.
"Nothing?" His voice was pitched low, an almost amused caress that matched the slide of his fingers over hers. "It takes more than nothing to make you stumble."
"How would you know?" Her retort wasn't the haughty declaration she'd hoped it to be, but rather a breathless question that would have made her wince in other circumstances. "You haven't seen me in four years."
"I've heard about you. About your flexibility and dedication to your lightsaber form. I've heard about your unconventional training routines and their results."
"Jedi shouldn't gossip."
He chuckled softly, bringing their twined fingers up to his lips and gently kissing the backs of hers. He touched her in no other way except for where the hem of his robe brushed hers, yet she was rooted to the spot by the almost surreal feel of the situation they found themselves in. She couldn't have moved to save her life.
"Praise is hardly gossip." His eyes glittered in the semi-dark, lending him a roguish appearance that had been lacking inside. There was an air of something about him that hadn't been there in the presence of their Masters. "My Master would be dismayed with me right now."
"I'm having a very un-Jedi like urge, Ara." He leaned closer, her fingers still caught in his, and used the backs to stroke her cheek.
"Then we would share in that disappointment so I, too, confess to un-Jedi like thoughts."
"And those would be?"
Her gaze dropped to his lips in silent answer.
Obi-Wan needed no further encouragement. He ducked his head, not having far to go as she was only slightly shorter than he and she unconsciously stretched her neck to help him. Their lips met, her free hand catching his, but no other part of their bodies touched. Obi-Wan was gentle with her - yet hesitant. Luminara stepped closer, planting one of her feet between his as she used the grip on his fingers to balance herself. Lifting to her toes, she changed the angle of the kiss, allowing him to back away if he chose.
Drugged by his kiss and floating in a sea of sensation, she pulled back first to gasp for air. Her heart raced as their eyes locked once more and she caught him gasping as much as she. His fingers tightened on hers and then relaxed in an unconscious question and one she understood on a primal level. If she chose, he would let her go.
Luminara instead shifted a fraction closer, aligning them from hip to shoulder as she continued to stand on her toes. For a fraction of a second, her gaze held an unconscious challenge; one that dared him to defy what he was and was choosing to become. To her delight, Obi-Wan accepted that challenge, his nostrils flaring briefly before his lips swooped down to capture hers once more.
His hands slipped from hers one at a time, sliding upwards along arms and under the voluminous folds of her cloak. They slipped away before returning and the cool night breezed suddenly brushed across her bared shoulders as the cloak pooled on the ground at their feet leaving her in a sleeveless jumper. She didn't notice, not until his warm fingers slid across her bare flesh and pressed, sending her back to her heels.
It caused friction, sliding their bodies abruptly against one another and Obi-Wan tore himself away. "We can't."
"We can." Luminara didn't know what possessed her as she grasped Obi-Wan's face in her hands. "There's nothing wrong with pleasure."
"This... is more than pleasure, Ara." His tone was raw and pained. "I can't do this to you - to us. Our Masters-"
"What they don't know, can't hurt us."
They shared a look, and in that moment Luminara knew she'd won. She was gathered close, his arms coming about her almost reverently even as his lips came back to hers, this time hot and insistent and demanding her all. She gave it, submitting to the sensations and feeling enveloping her for the first time since her training had begun. And in the center of it was Obi-Wan. Always Obi-Wan.
It was a night neither would forget for a long, long time.