The Price of A Kiss   Rating: PG
Diana DeRiggs

She found herself losing herself in his lips. To her surprise, she enjoyed kissing him. It wasn't that she particularly enjoyed kissing; she hadn't done it enough to know if she was an aficionado. And it wasn't because she was kissing a man she shouldn't have been kissing. There was normally an illicit rush from doing something so intimate. Plus there was the fact that they were both committed to other people and things.

Besides, of all the physical things that could happen between the bodies of a man and a woman, kissing seems too intimate. Not necessarily sexual, but definitely erotic and sensual.

As she concentrated on the motion and pressure, she decided she liked the way his lips felt. They were firm in their movements, but soft to the touch. Tender and warm, hard and strong at the same time. Everything about him was like this, his body, his personality. Everything was in perfect balance. It made him worth pursuing.

She thought it was good that he was in a committed lifestyle, in a demanding relationship. It made this intimacy safer, somehow. She dared to press her form against his body, extending the kiss through her whole body.

When they paused for air, he ran his hand through her hair, now loosened from its stark fastenings. "This is special," he stated, simply. She looked up at him, and noticed how blue and clear his eyes were, and how well balanced they sat on his strong, long face. How beautifully constructed he is, she mused, enjoying the feel of his large, strong hands.

"Yes," she sighed, not knowing what else to say, not wanting to ruin the moment. She cradled her head over the well between his shoulder and his collarbone. Their difference in height made this a comfortable nuzzling and nestling position for her.

"I think I love you," she murmured, and immediately regretted not keeping herself silent. "Oh no!" She couldn't help from exclaiming, "I didn't mean that! Please, please don't worry! I know it can't go farther that th--"

"But why?" He asked the question quietly. Why? Why can't this go on? Or why do I love you? Her body tensed as she tried to think of a way to take back the emotionally charged words.

He didn't seem to notice, and continued to stroke her hair, enjoying the shiny, dark strands flowing through his fingers. Though she had limited means on a desert planet, her hair was clean and sweet-smelling.

Her eyes filled, despite her habit of not crying. It was a waste of water to cry, she'd learned. But this time, she couldn't help it. She was filled with regret, and now sadness, as she realized how special this moment was. She felt like kicking herself for ruining it.

"I won't forget you, Shmi," the tall man murmured into her hair, pulling her closer to him. "But I'm sorry ... I shouldn't have succumbed ..."

"It was both of us," she didn't want to say his name at that moment. A lump formed in her throat and she tried desperately not to cling to him. "I felt like I had to. Was it the Force?"

He sighed and put both arms around her, "There are no accidents in the Force. It's all ordained in the living Force." She didn't really understand what he meant, but she supposed he understood her feelings. She'd heard Jedi could read minds. Her cheeks flushed as she realized at that moment that she was wondering what covered parts of his body felt like ...

Qui-gon Jinn pulled her chin up so he could kiss her again. He remembered the lips of another woman, a decade ago. Jedi are forbidden attachment, and he loved Tahl enough to leave the Jedi Order to have her. But for better or for worse, she had died long ago, and he had not allowed himself to love again.

He told himself that he did not love Shmi Skywalker -- not like he loved Tahl -- but he was drawn to her. It felt right and natural to kiss her like this, both physically and spiritually. Still, he had to caution himself from taking advantage of a slave.

But he knew, deep down, these were all excuses to prevent himself from attachment. He was forbidden by the Jedi Order, and he was forbidden by himself.

He felt her hand wandering at his waist, and he grabbed her wrist, perhaps too abruptly. "What is it?" Shmi was confused and startled by his action.

"No, please ... it's not you," he held her hand firmly but tenderly in his, "I'm strange that way. But you must understand, being a Jedi is a big responsibility." He couldn't look in her eyes, so pulled her closer to him, so her head was nestled under his chin. "Sex is something beautiful, it requires your whole being. It makes a man vulnerable to attack and exposure."

He kissed the top of her head, "I can't afford that, I'm sorry."

She understood, but the rejection still stung. Shmi forced herself to push her growing desire for this man away, "I understand. I'm sorry ... I just assumed ..."

"I know," Qui-Gon shushed her quietly, "but believe me when I say the kisses we share mean the galaxy to me. For that, I thank you."

Shmi was filled with shame, wondering if she really wanted to have sex with the Jedi or if she was trying to obligate him to her ... to help Anakin. Everything she did, she did for Anakin. But what was that feeling she felt when she and Qui-gon pressed their lips to one another?

Qui-Gon smiled as he felt her guilt wash out of her. "I understand Shmi. I don't know what will happen at the podraces, but if Anakin wins and he proves himself good enough for me to risk presenting him to the Jedi Council, wouldn't you prefer to know it was because he was honestly qualified?"

Shmi tried unsuccessfully to suppress a sob of embarrassment. The Jedi had not openly scolded her for wanting to use sex to trade for something she wanted, but the rejection and reminder stung her again. He was right, of course. But how dare he humiliate her! She was just a slave, how else could she get something so important to work out the way she wanted it?

He pressed his lips to hers again, for the final time. She thought she heard him murmur, "Trust in the Force; it will be with you -- and Anakin -- always." He got up -- and without looking back -- he left her home in the slave quarter to commune with the Force on his own.

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