Summary: Light-hearted, humorous, romantic fair; While attending a political reception, Qui Gon and Obi Wan attract the attention of two sisters who are just as miserable and bored as the jedi.
Disclaimer: Infringement on any held copyright by George Lucas is not my intention. I don't write for profit, only fun. No money will be made from this piece, I assure you!
Author's note: Mush Alert! If you don't care for romance, read no further! After the last two stories I wrote, I needed to do something light and frivolous with my favorite guys. Like me, they had been put through a lot and deserved a night off.
Qui Gon stopped walking and turned to face his muttering, unhappy padawan, who had paused to study his reflection in the highly polished windows lining the entryway of the Senate Building.
"Oh Master, is it really necessary that I be here?" Obi Wan grumbled. "I don't enjoy attending these formal functions. They make me very uncomfortable."
"Stop complaining, Obi Wan," Qui Gon chided. His young padawan rarely complained so Qui Gon knew the extent of the boy's discomfort with having to accompany him to this reception. "We were both personally invited by the new ambassador. It would be impolite not to accept his invitation."
Obi Wan frowned.
Qui Gon tried to hide a smile. "Besides, this will be a good opportunity for you to work on your social skills. So consider it part of your training if that helps any. Then maybe next time we attend a formal reception, you won't feel so uncomfortable."
Obi Wan continued scowling at his reflection, then turned and faced his master. Qui Gon was resolute. There would be no chance of changing his mind. Obi Wan thought he might as well give up. Now his master was trying to disguise the coming hours of boredom as a training exercise. That definately sealed his fate.
Placing a reassuring hand on Obi Wan's shoulder, Qui Gon smiled and said, "We'll make an appearance. Greet the ambassador and then we'll excuse ourselves. We do have a transport to catch tonight."
Obi Wan nodded and sighed.
"Once we are there," Qui Gon continued, "You just might be surprised and enjoy yourself."
"With politicians, businessmen, ambassadors, and militia officers? That 'will' be a surprise!"
Qui Gon put his hands on his hips and gave his young apprentice a quick reprimanding look. "Don't be so close-minded. You will mind your manners and be gracious. And sociable."
Obi Wan bowed his head and looked appropriately contrite. "You don't have to tell me that," he murmured.
Now Qui Gon looked contrite. "I know. I apologize." He turned and frowned in the direction of the reception hall. "You're here mainly because I want you here," he began. "If I have to suffer through this affair, so do you. After all those politicians and businessmen, I'll need to talk to someone with integrity and intelligence to restore my faith in humankind." He faced his padawan, his dark blue eyes twinkling.
Obi Wan grinned. "I thought I sensed a certain amount of reluctance on your part, but you seem so confident, I thought I must have been mistaken."
"Outward appearances can be deceiving."
"I'll remember that," Obi Wan said and faced his reflection once more. He readjusted the unyielding collar of his dress uniform and stood back for one last appraisal. He didn't like the way he looked in black and he thought the silver brocade trim was too flashy. It was very impractical attire, not something any respectable jedi would be caught wearing. "I don't like these uniforms. They're too restrictive."
"You look fine," Qui Gon reassured him. "You're just not used to wearing anything other than a field cloak."
Obi Wan glanced at Qui Gon. "I'm just thankful we don't have to wear these very often. I suppose a tunic and cloak would be too casual for this affair?" Qui Gon nodded. Obi Wan sighed. Unlike his apprentice, Qui Gon looked stately and elegant in his uniform. He marvelled at Qui Gon's ability to look noble in whatever he chose to wear. Obi Wan just hoped he didn't look as uncomfortable as he currently felt, and the form fitting uniform wasn't helping any. He sighed heavily in resignation. Perhaps this would be a good opportunity to work on his social skills. He frowned as they started slowly towards the reception hall.
"At least try to look like you are enjoying yourself," Qui Gon continued. "Stop scowling."
"What do you suggest?" Obi Wan put forth, with a hint of a smile.
Qui Gon sighed. "I've always found the best course of action is to listen with a rapt expression and nod once in awhile." He grinned devilishly. "And if the conversation becomes unbearable--there's always the Force."
Obi Wan laughed. "May the Force be with us."
Mandie Orman scanned the reception hall for her older step sister. She weaved her way through the crush of beings and towards the entrance. She had been heading in that direction but now she was no where to be found. In the time it had taken Mandie to fetch Tia a drink, her sister had simply disappeared.
Mandie sighed heavily. Without Tia to talk to, this party was going to get dull very fast. The idea of attending a formal reception had sounded glamorous and exciting when their father first asked them if they wanted to accompany him to welcome the new ambassador. He had been invited because he was a principle businessman in the province the ambassador was now serving. Unfortunately, this reception was anything but exciting.
The room hummed with conversations in a myriad of languages from a multitude of species. Mandie didn't understand most of it. She made her way over to the corner of the hall where the band was playing so she could hear the music better and at least watch the dancers. She would have liked to dance herself, but there wasn't a human even remotely close to her age attending this function, let alone one who might ask her to dance.
Mandie finished Tia's drink and started to make her way to the buffet table. At least the food was good and spicy cocktail drinks were plentiful.
Obi Wan had intended to stay beside Qui Gon for the duration of the evening, but leave it to his master to find a long lost alien friend of a mutual friend and strike up a lengthy conversation in a language Obi Wan didn't understand.
Certain his absence wouldn't even be noticed, Obi Wan inconspicuously drifted away from Qui Gon and went off in search of food.
"Mandie! Where did you go? I've been looking everywhere for you! I thought you were getting me a drink? What are looking at?" Tia Orman questioned her younger sister.
"Sssh! It's not a what. It's a who."
Tia tried to follow the direction of her sister's gaze. "Who then?"
Mandie sighed. "Over there. By the ice sculpture on the center table. The guy in the black uniform. Isn't he dreamy?"
Tia saw the object of her sister's enchantment. "The teenager with the braid, stuffing his face with egg crescents?"
"Well at least he's a human." She started towards the buffet table but Mandie grabbed her arm.
"What are you doing? You're not going to go talk to him are you?" she whispered anxiously.
"No, I'm going to get myself a drink. Besides, he's a little too young and too short for my taste." Tia smiled slowly. "Why don't you go talk to him?"
Mandie looked startled. "Oh I couldn't!"
"Why not? You've been moaning all night about how there was no one here your own age. Well, there you go." She paused and studied the young man more thoroughly. "He is kind of cute." She suddenly furrowed her brow. "You know what, I think that's one of the jedi. I heard they might be here tonight."
Mandie could feel her heart melting. "A jedi? Are you sure? How can you tell? I've never seen one before."
Tia was nodding. "Oh yeah. Look, he's wearing a lightsaber on his belt and that braid. I think that means he's an apprentice." Tia's smile grew. She started looking around the room. "Which means he's got a master around here somewhere."
Mandie smiled. "One for each of us." She sighed softly. "And I thought this reception was going to be dull."
Obi Wan had just popped another egg crescent into his mouth when he felt someone standing directly behind him. He turned around quickly.
A tall, very pretty woman was smiling at him. She placed a cocktail drink down on the table and held out her hand in greeting.
"Hello there. I'm Tia Orman. What's your name?"
Obi Wan swallowed the hors d'oeuvre so he could speak, but it stuck in his throat and made him choke. He coughed slightly. "I'm..." he paused to clear his throat, "I'm Obi Wan....Kenobi." He took her hand and shook it once. His eyes were watering and he turned from her and seized a water goblet from the buffet table and quickly took a drink.
Tia tried hard not to smile. "Are you going to be all right?"
Obi Wan managed to nod. "Yes Ma'am. Thank you." He faced her again and smiled.
"Ma'am? Oh my, you are young aren't you?" Tia asked, frowning.
Obi Wan was confused. He didn't understand why she suddenly seemed insulted. "I'm sixteen." Obi Wan seemed to have placated her with his reply. He could feel her mood suddenly become cordial again. It made him more confused. He chalked it up as simply his lack of experience with women.
Tia smiled again. "See that girl over there with the long blonde hair, Obi Wan?" She pointed at Mandie. "She's sixteen too and she would really like to meet you. Why don't you go introduce yourself?"
Obi Wan eyed Tia warily then turned to look in the direction she was pointing. There was a girl watching him, just beyond the buffet. Their eyes met and she looked shocked at first, then angry, then turned quickly and disappeared in the crowd. Obi Wan was even more confused now. He faced Tia.
"I don't think she wants to meet me."
"Yes she does. She's just very shy. Her name is Mandie. She's very sweet and at the moment, very bored and very lonely. Just go and say hi." Tia's hand was on his shoulder reassuringly. She smiled easily.
"Why?" Obi Wan asked. "Who is she to you?"
"She's my step sister."
Obi Wan nodded. "Are you sure she wanted to meet me? Why didn't she come over here with you?"
Tia sighed. "I told you. She's too shy. She hasn't really had a lot of... experience with boys. But I know she likes you. Please go talk to her. You won't regret it, you might even like her too."
Obi Wan didn't feel comfortable approaching a strange girl that fled from him the moment they made eye contact. He wasn't really sure what they would talk about. But the chivalric jedi in him felt an obligation to appease Tia and seek out the unhappy Mandie.
"All right. I'll go talk to her," Obi Wan announced. He swallowed down the last of his water and took a deep breath.
"Oh thank you, Obi Wan! I really appreciate it," Tia was saying. "You jedi are such gentlemen."
Obi Wan smiled. "Thank you."
"Your master must be pleased to have a polite young man such as yourself for an apprentice." She was gambling now, but it just might pay off.
"Ah, we were discussing manners earlier this evening," Obi Wan replied.
Jackpot! "Oh is your master here too? Where is he at?" Tia was craning her neck to see above the crowd.
Obi Wan gestured towards the stairs. Qui Gon was holding court there with no less than half a dozen beings and seemed quite content to go on doing so. "There. The very tall man with the long hair."
A slow, eager smile crept over Tia's face. "And what's his name?"
"Qui Gon Jinn."
Tia turned to Obi Wan and offered him a dazzling smile. "Thank you again, Obi Wan. You've been so helpful. You run off and find Mandie. And if I should get the chance to talk to Master Jinn, I'll be sure to tell him how helpful you are." She picked up her cocktail and started off towards the stairs.
Obi Wan smiled mischievously. "Go get him," he whispered and laughed to himself.
Qui Gon could only justify the conversation he was having by remembering the senator had asked him to explain the Force. Though the small group of beings surrounding him looked fascinated, he knew without a doubt, not one of them had a clue as to just what it was he was talking about. Qui Gon felt more than a little chagrined. He was a jedi master after all and certainly capable of explaining the basis of his beliefs to a non-Force sensitive being and make himself understood.
They watched him, and nodded now and then as if in complete comprehension.
"So, this energy field," the senator was saying. "It comes from everything? If that's so, why don't I feel it? I mean, if I already have it. I should be able to use it just like you, right?"
Qui Gon shook his head. "But you are not sensitive to it's presence."
"You're saying..." the senator droned on. Qui Gon inwardly groaned. "Even if I were to get the training on how to use it, how to tap into it, I still couldn't?"
"Not unless you were already sensitive to it," the jedi master stressed. "You have to be born with it. It's how the jedi identify one of their own at a very young age. The infants are born with Force sensitivity."
"Then it doesn't reside in all of us. Just jedi?"
Qui Gon closed his eyes and counted to ten. And this man was a representative of his people, Qui Gon thought. It certainly didn't give him a high opinion of that particular system. Where was Obi Wan when he needed him? Maybe his apprentice could think of another way to explain the Force to the senator so he would understand.
Qui Gon sensed someone else had joined his discussion group. He opened his eyes and quickly scanned the beings around him for the new face. As it turned out, she was standing very close to him. She was an attractive woman, in a dark blue gown, with long plaited blonde hair that draped elegantly over her bare shoulders. She had large gray eyes and a strong, intelligent face. As he looked down at her, she smiled brightly and he thought he heard her sigh softly.
Qui Gon totally lost his train of thought. He pried his eyes off the woman at his side and asked, "I'm sorry, what were you saying Senator?"
"Oh, never mind. I doubt I'll ever be able to grasp that concept," he admitted finally. "I suppose that's why you are a jedi and I'm a politician." He gulped down the last of his drink and inclined his head. "Good evening to you, Master Jinn." He drifted away and one by one the others around Qui Gon peeled off from the little group and went in search of more entertaining fair.
Qui Gon was left with just the woman. He turned to her and offered her his most charming smile. "Hello."
"Hello," she said still smiling up at him. "I didn't mean to chase anyone away," she began, gesturing at the departing politicians.
Qui Gon shook his head. "Don't apologize. You didn't chase anyone away and even if you did, it was a great service to me. I'm Qui Gon Jinn," he said, introducing himself.
"Miss Tia Orman." Her eyes sparkled as she stood gazing up at him admiringly. "I hope you don't think I'm being too forward, but I was talking to your apprentice, Obi Wan earlier. He's the same age as my younger sister and I asked him to go introduce himself to her. I asked him about his master, just out of curiosity and he spoke so highly of you, I really wanted to meet you."
"I'm flattered, Miss Orman," he said, wondering what Obi Wan would have told this woman to make her want to meet him. Whatever it was, he was grateful. Qui Gon quickly searched the reception hall for his missing padawan. "Where did you meet up with Obi Wan?"
"Oh, back at the buffet table."
Qui Gon had to smile. "That doesn't surprise me." He faced Tia again.He noticed her glass was empty. "What are you having, Miss Orman? I'll be happy to get you another drink."
Tia lowered her eyes briefly and nodded. "Only if you call me Tia." She raised her glass to him. "And only if I can come with you..."
Qui Gon nodded. He offered her his arm and she readily accepted it.
Obi Wan had searched in vain for the elusive Mandie. The girl had disappeared into the crowd as if she wore some sort of cloaking device. He decided to give up looking for her and was surprised at the depth of disappointment he felt. After all, it would have been nice to meet her. He didn't often get the chance to meet girls. Especially ones that showed any kind of interest in him. And according to her sister, Mandie had wanted to meet him; she was just too shy.
Obi Wan found himself at the terrace doors. He tugged at his collar and unfastened the top two buttons, cursing the uniform and it's throttling tendencies. He peered out through the doors at the terrace and decided to step outside for awhile to get some fresh air.
He no sooner set foot through the doors when he spied Mandie. She seemed deep in thought, gazing out over the lights of the city below, the breeze animating her long hair and making it dance slowly in a hypnotizing rhythm. The white gown she wore shimmered in the light of the moons and Obi Wan thought she looked supernatural, standing there. Like a vision or a dream. He suddenly realized he wasn't breathing and released a small sigh.
He carefully walked over to her. He didn't want to startle her or do anything to cause her to move from where she was. He wanted to just look at her awhile in simple appreciation of the artistic image she presented him.
She suddenly seemed to know she was no longer alone. She stiffened and turned her head slowly.
"Mandie?" Obi Wan said quietly.
She gasped and whirled around then, her eyes wide. She stared back at him with a horrified expression.
"How do you know my name?!" she snapped.
Obi Wan was startled by her reaction. "Your... step sister told me."
At that, Mandie screeched in frustration and tried to dodge around him to the doors. She was going to strangle Tia when she found her. She could just imagine the things her sister must have told this boy about her. Tia probably even told him Mandie thought he was cute.
She was so embarrassed, she just wanted to get away from him and tried to dodge around him to the doors, but instead suddenly found herself nose to nose with him.
Determined not to let her flee from him again, Obi Wan had blocked her path. She had to stop short or run into him. He immediately regretted this course of action because now she glared at him angrily.
"I'm sorry," he hurriedly apologized, pouring as much sincerity into his voice as he could and slinking away from her. "Please don't go. I just wanted to talk to you," he added.
Her expression softened and she remained where she was. Obi Wan sighed in relief. His apology had apparently worked.
Too nervous to say anything, Mandie merely turned away from him and took a deep steadying breath. Part of her wanted to still leave, but another part of her wanted to stay. She was intrigued by the fact he actually wanted to meet her.
Obi Wan could sense her embarrassment and tried to think of something to say to make her feel better.
"My name is Obi Wan. I came here tonight with my master. He's been fairly occupied and I haven't had anyone to talk to all evening. I thought maybe... I could talk with you." She still didn't say anything, she just stared at him, her eyes like large jeweled orbs. Obi Wan stared back at her, thinking how he could get lost in those eyes of hers.
To his delight and surprise, Mandie turned then and walked back over to the terrace wall. She leaned against it, resting her arms on the stone ledge. Obi Wan smiled and came up beside her, careful not to get too close. He didn't want to do anything to scare her off again.
She faced him and blinked up at him a couple of times, then offered him a sweetly shy smile.
"I'm sorry too. I didn't mean to be rude. You just startled me," she said. Her heart was pounding and her palms were sweating and she was surprised she wasn't babbling like an idiot.
"Why did you just watch me back at the buffet table?"" Obi Wan continued. "Why didn't you introduce yourself?"
Mandie lowered her eyes. "It's stupid really. I didn't know how. I didn't want you to think I was being too forward or anything."
Obi Wan shook his head. "But I wouldn't have even known about you, if it weren't for your step sister. If I had seen you, I would have gone over to you and said hello."
"Really?" She tried not to let him know how pleased she was to hear him say that. She was determined to keep cool, but it was getting harder with each passing minute. She couldn't seem to stop staring at him and decided he was probably the cutest guy she had ever met.
Obi Wan couldn't understand her response. "Of course. That shouldn't surprise you, Mandie," he said softly. A thought suddenly occurred to him and he frowned. "Do you think I'm being too forward?" Clearly that was something to be avoided.
"Oh no!" she quickly reassured him. "Don't worry about it. It's different with guys."
This was news to Obi Wan. "Is it? Well, if I am, I don't mean to be. I have a hard time being cavalier towards girls. I mean, I don't get to meet many girls my age." He bit his lip, thinking. "I can't even remember the last time I spoke to a girl."
She smiled at him again. It helped knowing he was just as nervous and unsure as she was, and just as capable of social indiscretion. "You're doing all right," she said quietly. He smiled back at her and she thought her heart skipped a beat just then. "I travel around alot with my father and my step sister and I really don't get a chance to meet boys. So, Obi Wan, I'm glad we met. Now we both will have a chance to brush up on our social skills. We should make the most of this opportunity," she told him.
Obi Wan nodded in wholehearted agreement. Qui Gon had told him he needed to work on socializing to the point of viewing this reception as a training exercise. With Mandie, he was also being given the opportunity to work on something he felt was much more important-- rapport with the fairer sex.
"May I ask you a personal question, Qui Gon?"
Tia's eyes were fixed on the dance floor, watching the whirl of couples glide by in time to the music. Qui Gon already knew what she had in mind. He nodded.
"Do you dance?"
He smiled. "I have danced before but, let me warn you, I'm long out of practice."
Tia glanced over at him skeptically. Even the way he walked was graceful and rhythmic. Surely he was a superb dancer. She sighed. "Oh. Well, if you need practice, I'd be more than willing to help you out." She smiled, her eyes twinkling invitingly.
Qui Gon raised his brow. How could he refuse such a charming offer? "All right then," he said and held out his hand to her. "Would you like to dance, Tia?"
Her smile increased two-fold as she slipped her hand in his. "Why Qui Gon, how thoughtful of you to ask. I'd love to!"
They stepped onto the fringe of the dance floor and the other dancers parted to make room for them. Tia felt like a queen. She felt privileged to be with him, knowing it wasn't everyday she would get to dance with a jedi. She decided she didn't really care at this point if he could dance or not.
Qui Gon took Tia in his arms, pulling her close to him, his eyes locked on hers. He smiled and started off, backing her into the midst of the other dancers with an effortlessly graceful turn.
Tia felt like she was being suspended by his strength and unerring ability. They glided around the dance floor as if levitated. Some of the other dancers even stopped to watch them. Everything felt right. They moved as one, absorbing the music into themselves. They were beyond merely hearing it, they were experiencing it. It was as if they had been dancing together all their lives.
Tia couldn't take her eyes off of Qui Gon. His face was mesmerizing her. His deep blue eyes were full of genuine warmth and kindness. His quick, charming smile relayed a natural affinity for simple pleasures. There wasn't anything pretentious or superficial about him; what she saw was exactly what she got when it came to him. And right now, Tia liked what she saw very much.
Qui Gon gazed at the lovely lady in his arms and was struck with a bit of melancholy. How nice it would be to really get to know this woman, he thought. Spend time discovering exactly who she was. Such an opportunity rarely presented itself to him and he knew tonight would be no different. But he felt very grateful to have met her and would not mar the time they would have together with wistful regrets. Quite simply, he would just have to make the most of it.
Qui Gon smiled. Tia smiled back. He pulled her closer to him, aware of how perfectly she fit against him and moved with him. He was acutely attuned to her. He could feel even the slightest motion her body made, right down to the rhythm of her pulse. He sensed what she was feeling; every faint tremor of emotion that cautiously surfaced and was intrigued by her complexity.
"Qui Gon Jinn, I think you were lying when you said you were long out of practice," Tia said.
"Jedi don't lie," he replied matter-of-factly. "It's true. I haven't danced since... I can't even remember the last time I danced."
"How do you explain this then?"
Tia laughed lightly. "You're a superlative dancer. I've never had a better dance partner. Does it just come naturally with you?"
Qui Gon shook his head. "Perhaps it comes naturally to jedi," he corrected. "From a very early age, jedi are taught balance, timing, and rhythm. It's important for a jedi to be able to move efficiently and effectively."
"Oh I understand," Tia nodded. She spared a glance at the lightsaber he wore at his hip. "So it's easy for you to incorporate this... training into something like dancing?"
Qui Gon smiled. "I suppose you could say that."
"So in a sense, I'm like the lightsaber. And the music merely tells you how and when to move me. We are not just dancing, we are 'saber' dancing then." She grinned up at him, her eyes sparkling.
"Saber dancing? I like the sound of that," Qui Gon told her, turning her around in a slow graceful arc. "I'm fortunate to have had the pleasure of brandishing as fine a lightsaber as yourself."
Tia laughed. "Why thank you, Qui Gon. It's not everyday a woman gets a compliment like that. As a matter of fact, I was thinking earlier, it's not everyday a woman is graced by the company of a jedi. Tonight must be a rare indulgence for you."
Qui Gon nodded. "Rare indeed. The council keeps me busy. There is always something going on somewhere that calls for jedi intervention. Then having Obi Wan with me also leaves little time for socializing. But I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm committed to the Order and my calling as a jedi." He noticed Tia looked a little sad suddenly. She lowered her eyes and sighed somewhat despondently. Qui Gon stopped dancing momentarily and cupped her chin in his large hand, tilting her head back, once more raising her eyes to his. "But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy spending a frivolous evening now and then with an enchanting lady such as yourself." He was pleased to see the light return to her eyes and a slow smile cross her face.
Tia felt her cheeks warming and her skin tingled where he was touching her. "It's all so unfair," she whispered.
Obi Wan could tell Mandie was feeling more comfortable with him and beginning to relax more. He kept up a steady stream of questions concerning her travels and her family, carefully avoiding anything that might be considered too personal. She was starting to open up more, readily discussing her feelings and opinions on different matters. He decided he liked her alot. She was smart and easy to talk to. He could tell she was sensitive by her thoughtful comments and the way she responded to his questions.
She was fascinated by the fact that he was a jedi and had been training to be a jedi all his life. She had heard of the jedi but admitted she really didn't know very much about them and had no concept of the Force.
"What is it like to use the Force?" she asked.
Obi Wan shrugged. "I have always been able to use the Force so it's just a natural state of being for me. I wouldn't know what it is like not to have it, to feel it, and use it." He looked over at her, her eyes were wide with wonder and curiosity. He took a deep breath and tried to think of an easy way to explain it to her. "You have a perception of everything around you, a sense of things, in a way. Even beings who don't use the Force like a jedi still have this sense of their surroundings." He leaned forward slightly. "It's like when I came up behind you earlier. Even though you didn't see me, you still had a feeling someone was there. That feeling, that sensitivity, is very similar to using the Force. I suppose in jedi, it is just stronger and clearer."
Mandie smiled slightly and shook her head. "I understand what you mean," she began, "But I have to admit, it wasn't some vague perception of you that told me you were behind me. Actually I knew because I heard you sigh."
Obi Wan looked back at her amused. "I was holding my breath," he told her.
Mandie turned to face him. That surprised her. "Why did you do that?"
Obi Wan moved closer to her and lowered his voice. "Looking at you was like having a vision of something unique and precious and I guess I thought if I moved at all, even to breathe, that vision of you would disappear."
"Oh," Mandie replied. It was all she could think of to say. Did that mean he thought she was pretty? She wasn't really sure but it made her feel warm and tingly. She became very self-conscious, noticing he had moved a little closer to her. His hand rested on the stone ledge just besides her own and she longed to reach over and touch it. What would he do if I touched his hand? she wondered. Overwhelmed by her odd craving, she blushed and turned away from him again, careful to keep him in sight out of the corner of her eye.
Taking cue from Mandie, Obi Wan retreated as well. He straightened and inched back a step or two. He had felt her tense and wasn't sure what had caused it. He only hoped it wasn't anything he had done or said. Surely she would tell him if he did.
"Mandie, what's wrong?" he asked quietly.
"Nothing," she replied in a very small voice. When he had moved away from her, she wondered briefly if he had 'sensed' her desire to touch him. She felt embarrassed and a little annoyed with herself for making him want to put some distance between them. Maybe she was making him nervous?
She wouldn't look at him and that convinced Obi Wan that he was at fault. He sighed heavily. He knew there was something wrong between them now, but decided not to pressure her and tried hard not to panic. Maybe if he tried to explain what he had meant by calling her a vision because maybe he had insulted her somehow. He seemed to be inadvertently doing that alot tonight.
"I just want you to know that I thought you looked beautiful standing there in the moonlight, like something out of a dream, all soft shadows and shimmery, with your hair blowing in the breeze." He paused and tentatively reached out and captured a loose strand of her hair between his fingers.
Mandie's heart began pounding inside her. She didn't know what to say and was too dazed to move. For a few moments, she watched him twist her hair around his long fingers, then finally looked up at him curiously.
"Am I being too forward again?" he asked her quietly.
Mandie blinked a few times and then shook her head causing him to pull her hair. She grabbed at her head and Obi Wan froze, horrified that he may have hurt her, but she blushed and started to laugh.
"That was stupid of me, wasn't it?" she smiled. "I'm all right."
Infinitely relieved, Obi Wan sighed. He placed his hand on the side of her head that her hair had been pulled and rubbed it tenderly. "I'm sorry. That was stupid of me," he told her. "It's just that your hair looks so silky. I just had to touch it."
"I don't mind," Mandie replied truthfully. She loved the way his hand felt cradling her face and she couldn't help leaning her head into it. She found herself moving towards him, wanting to touch him too. Smiling reassuringly, her eyes locked on his, she laid her hand on his upper arm.
Obi Wan moved even closer to her and gazed down at her, studying every feature of her face. Slowly he began rubbing his thumb gently over her temple. He could feel her leaning into his caress. She closed her eyes and sighed. Her hand began stroking his arm languidly.
Obi Wan was fascinated by her reaction to his touch. It seemed to bridge the remaining distance and awkwardness between them and open the path to a new way of communicating. He was surprised by his own reactions to touching her and being touched by her. This was all wonderfully enlightening.
"You are so pretty, Mandie," he whispered.
Mandie felt like she was floating, certain she was due to wake up from the dream he had spoken of earlier. She felt so aware of him and only him in a way she had never experienced before. Everything around her had dissolved into space and there was nothing left that was real except for him.
She opened her eyes slowly and gazed up at him adoringly. She placed her hand on his other arm, pleased when he responded by slipping his hands around her slender neck and tilting her face up to his.
"Perhaps this is the opportunity we were going to make the most of," she said and sighed.
"We shouldn't let a chance like this pass us by," Obi Wan agreed, his face mere inches from hers. "Who knows when we'll find ourselves at this point with someone again."
"We had better take advantage of it then," Mandie murmured.
"Would it be all right if I kissed you?"
She smiled. "Have you ever kissed a girl before, Obi Wan?"
"No, but I'm very willing to learn."
Mandie licked her lips. "Well, we can both learn something new then. I've never kissed a boy either."
Obi Wan smiled, pulling her up against him. He softly touched her lips with his, turning his head to get just the right contact and gently increased the pressure as she began to respond. The physical sensation of her mouth tenderly moving on his was indescribable. If he would have known how thrilling and sweet kissing was, he would have kissed someone a long time ago, but he was also glad Mandie was the first girl he kissed.
Qui Gon heard the hour chimed and sighed heavily. He turned to face Tia with a sad smile.
"I need to find Obi Wan. It's time for us to go. We have a transport to catch tonight."
Tia's heart sank but she nodded slowly. "I understand," she told him, her voice low.
Qui Gon took both her hands in his and squeezed them tightly. "You made this evening special for me."
Tia gazed up at him longingly. "Maybe if I get to Coruscant again, I could look you up?" She tried to smile but failed, knowing that the chance of them ever meeting again was unlikely, and her request was futile. But he nodded and smiled back at her.
"I'd like that." He released her hands and gave her one last look before turning away from her. Damn, it was going to be hard to just walk away from her. He could feel her disappointment and see the sadness clouding her beautiful gray eyes. He sighed. "Good bye Tia. Thank you again for everything."
He stared at her intensely, as if committing her every feature to his memory. "Everything you are." He reached out and touched her cheek softly with his fingertips.
Tia couldn't stop her eyes from watering. He turned slowly and began walking away. She suddenly sprang forward.
He turned and faced her again. Tia hurried over to him.
"I'll never forget you, ever. But if you wouldn't mind too terribly, there is something you could do for me that would make my memories of tonight even more wonderful." Her expression was imploring.
Qui Gon smiled warmly. "Anything..."
Tia took a deep breath. "Then kiss me. Please kiss me. Let your kiss be the last thing I remember about tonight."
Without hesitation, Qui Gon folded his arms around her, holding her tightly against him. He kissed her slowly and savoringly, oblivious to his surroundings, totally focusing himself on her. Tia's hands slid up his back, pressing him closer to her, never wanting to free him from this embrace. He kissed her hungrily now, opening her mouth with his, his tongue deeply seeking hers. Tia felt as if he was setting her on fire. She couldn't breathe anymore and was sure her heart had burst and ceased to beat.
They finally parted reluctantly and stood gazing at each other for a long time before either one spoke.
"Thank you, I definately won't forget that," Tia whispered, her lips still tingling, her mind still swirling. She smiled easily. "Good-bye, Qui Gon. Think of me the next time you dance with your lightsaber, okay?"
Qui Gon laughed lightly. "I will. I promise."
Obi Wan heard his master calling him. He straightened and frowned. Mandie continued kissing the side of his face, making her way slowly down to his neck. He allowed himself one more kiss from her, closing his eyes and savoring the ripples of warmth it spread through his body, then he pulled away from her slightly and looked down at her regretfully.
"Qui Gon is looking for me. I guess it's time for us to leave," he told her. Mandie stared back at him confused.
"How... do... you... know?" she questioned, insisting on kissing him in between words. She felt she was addicted to kissing now. She couldn't get enough of it. And Obi Wan was a lot of fun to kiss.
"The Force," Obi Wan explained. "He's calling me through the Force." He kissed her again and then shook his head. "I'm sorry, Mandie. But I really do have to go." He tried to concentrate on straightening his slightly disheveled uniform, hurriedly fastening his collar buttons and tossed his long braid over his shoulder so he could realign the brocade.
"So soon?" Mandie muttered. She smiled suddenly, mischieviously. "We were just starting to get to know one another."
Obi Wan grinned at her and pulled her to him again. "I know," he began, "I wish I could stay longer." He thought he would have never said that about this reception. "I'm really glad I met you and I enjoyed 'getting to know you better', so to speak. I think we both made great strides in socializing tonight."
Mandie laughed. She put her arms around his waist and hugged him tightly. "I wish I could see you again...I really like you, Obi Wan. Just remember, no matter where you are, I'll still think about you and you'll always have a special secret place in my heart because you were my first kiss."
Obi Wan sighed. "Thank you, Mandie. You'll always have a place in my heart too." He bent towards her, capturing her mouth with his for a final lingering kiss. "Good night," he whispered in her ear.
"Good bye," she whispered back. He locked eyes with her briefly then turned quickly and strode from the terrace.
Tia set off to find Mandie. Once she found her, they should both probably find their father, and see if he was ready to leave.
She circled the entire reception hall twice, before remembering Mandie's fondness for city lights and headed for the balcony. Sure enough, her little sister was there. She was leaning against the stone ledge, peering out over the city, looking forlorn and lonesome.
Tia felt a twinge of regret. Here she had had such a wonderful evening and her poor sister was probably miserable. She sighed heavily and went out on the terrace.
"Mandie? Are you all right sweetheart?"
Mandie turned to face her sister with a brilliant smile. She bounded over to her, excitedly.
"Oh Tia! I had the most incredible time!" she gushed.
"You did?" Tia was pleased, but confused.
"I met Obi Wan. You know, that jedi's apprentice?"
Tia smiled. Her heart flooded with joy and gratitude. "Oh yes, I remember him." She put her arm around her sister's shoulder and hugged her. "If your jedi was anything like my jedi, I know you had a night you'll never forget."
Obi Wan threw his cloak over his shoulders, happy to be free of his dress uniform. Qui Gon was throwing different things they'd need in a bag and trying to finish getting dressed as well.
He had been strangely quiet all night and Obi Wan thought perhaps he was angry that his apprentice had all but disappeared on him the entire evening. But it wasn't anger, Obi Wan sensed it was something else... more like melancholy.
He was surprised when Qui Gon turned to him suddenly and put his hands on his hips with an expression that could only be described as omniscient.
"So Obi Wan, you must have found the reception bearable after all. You certainly don't look any worse for the wear and I sense a certain amount of self-satisfaction in you."
Obi Wan nodded, avoiding Qui Gon's eyes. "It was an enlightening evening to say the least."
Qui Gon merely nodded. Obi Wan gathered his courage and faced his master.
"I sense the same is true for you, Master. You must have found yourself an 'interesting diversion' from all those politicians and businessmen." Obi Wan was proud of himself for being able to maintain a straight face while saying that.
Qui Gon's brow raised. He smiled slowly. He and Obi Wan exchanged knowing looks. They didn't need to say another word. They both knew.