Summary: 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.
Takes place ten years before EP1
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."
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 definitely sealed
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
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.
Obi-Wan bowed his head and looked appropriately contrite. "You
don't have to tell me that," he
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
"You look fine," Qui-Gon reassured him. "You're just not used
to wearing anything other than a field
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 statement and nod
once in awhile." He grinned devilishly. "And if the conversation
becomes unbearable--there's always the
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
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
Tia saw the object of her sister's enchantment. "The teenager
with the braid, stuffing his face with egg
"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
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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
Jackpot! "Oh is your master here too? Where is he at?" Tia was
craning her neck to see above the
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?"
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
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
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
"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
Qui-Gon was left with just the woman. He turned to her and offered
her his most charming smile.
"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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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 statement.
"How do you know my name?!" she snapped.
Obi-Wan was startled by her reaction. "Your... step sister told
At that, Mandie screeched in frustration. 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,"
Her statement softened and she remained where she was. Obi-Wan
sighed in relief. His apology had
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
"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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
"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
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
a lot 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
"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
"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
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
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 statement 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
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,
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
"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
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
statement 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
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
"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.