Title: Gift for A

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Star Wars

Rating: G

Disclaimer: These characters and their world are as not mine as they could possibly get.

Summary: On an offworld mission, Obi-Wan comes down sick and closes himself off from Qui-Gon. Qui-Gon does what he can to look after his padawan anyway.

Notes: Written for A for the winter holidays, 2004



Gift for A


     During the life of every young Jedi Padawan, there comes a time when he learns how to create shields that keep out even his master. More importantly, there comes a time when he decides to actually use this ability to hide his innermost feelings and actions. It is a fact of life every Jedi Master must come to terms with in the form of sudden, unexpected disconnections. The trick, as both Master and Padawan eventually come to realize, is to keep their bond strong despite this occasional but perfectly normal desire to be private. There are, naturally, more ways of understanding and connecting than to simply sense each other's thoughts and emotions.


     Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan may have been advanced enough as Master and Padawan to be ordered to complete an away mission together, but they had not yet come to that aforementioned point in their relationship. So when Obi-Wan raised his shields completely halfway through their visit to Sinlin, Qui-Gon grew somewhat concerned. The mission required them to communicate constantly and, with one member of their bond closing himself off to the other completely, their success quickly began to deteriorate.


     "Having trouble concentrating tonight?" Qui-Gon asked a bit playfully and a bit concerned. His hands found his Padawan's shoulders and began massaging. There had to be some sort of trouble for Obi-Wan to have raised his shields, and Qui-Gon was hopeful a little tenderness and touching might help him get to the bottom of it.


     Obi-Wan looked up at his master with a sheepish sort of smile. "I admit my mind is wandering more than it should. I find it difficult to concentrate here sometimes. The sounds from outside... the aromas in the air... it's not at all what I am used to back home."


     The Jedi Temple was silent, even during the day, apart from areas such as the training rooms and the cafeteria, of course. Here, there were always sounds of rushing water from nearby waterfalls, or of birds just outside the window or passersby just outside the door. Qui-Gon was even fairly sure that if he concentrated hard enough, he could hear the grass grow. The quarters they had been assigned were near the kitchens, and always smelled like what the next meal would be. It was rather nice in the sense that they knew what to expect, and were able to guess at various courses like a game. But it also made them hungry earlier than usual.


     Qui-Gon spoke softly, smoothly, as he continued to rub Obi-Wan's shoulders. "One of the most important parts of off-world missions is learning how to adjust to other cultures and other environments. Our circumstances are very rarely ever under our control, but we must deal with them wisely nonetheless." Obi-Wan nodded in understanding and obedience. He kept his shields up and himself guarded, however. "You must concentrate on the speech if you want it to sound intelligent and well-written. I expect nothing less from you, my Young Padawan."


     It was true that Qui-Gon had high expectations when it came to his padawan's abilities, but that was for good reason. Obi-Wan had demonstrated great potential any number of times in everything from negotiating to fighting. Obi-Wan, too, had an abnormally high drive for success, even higher than a normal padawan's. In addition, it was clear how much pleasure it gave Obi-Wan to succeed in tasks his master assigned him, no matter how easy or hard they seemed.


     And when Obi-Wan had trouble completing tasks, this was also quite clear. He was too mature to be frustrated, or to dwell on negative emotions, but there was a definitely change in his demeanor. Qui-Gon did not like to see it. "Is your location the only hindrance in your task at present?"


     Obi-Wan was not quick to answer. He seemed to consider the question a while as he closed his eyes and leaned back into Qui-Gon's touch. His body swayed along with the rubs, as tension flowed out of his shoulders. The datapad went ignored for a while, until he finally answered, "At present, yes." Then he picked it up again and scrolled through what notes he had made thus far.


     Unable to press further, Qui-Gon sighed inwardly. He stopped rubbing and bent down, nearly having to bend right in half in order to equal Obi-Wan's height with the younger man sitting on the low chair. He stretched an arm out across Obi-Wan's shoulders and gripped upper arms with both his hands. Then he squeezed gently and placed a kiss on Obi-Wan's temple. "I am going to shower and ready myself for bed. I expect you to follow suit when I am finished."


     "Master..." Obi-Wan began to protest.


     Knowing well what would be said based on Obi-Wan's need for perfection, Qui-Gon headed it off. "There will be time enough to finish your speech tomorrow. Perhaps your words will flow more smoothly after a good sleep."


     Obi-Wan relented with a nod. "I will finish up soon, then. Thank you, Master."


     As Qui-Gon nodded and headed for the 'fresher, he heard a sniffle. He turned back around to look at his padawan. Obi-Wan appeared fine, and as though nothing at all had happened. Qui-Gon could have sworn he had heard an Obi-Wan sniffle, however. He kept his ears open for another as he prepared for bed and as he lay in bed listening to Obi-Wan showering and changing as well. Nor did he hear anything similar as they lay in bed before falling asleep. They had been assigned a room with only one bed. This was not uncommon on most planets, and they were used to sharing a bed by now. Qui-Gon listened closely until he fell asleep, but did not hear another sniffle.


     The next morning was a much different story, however. Obi-Wan's sniffles were impossible to miss from the time they rose to the time they breakfasted together in their room. Obi-Wan stared at his datapad through much of the meal, taking his eyes away only to stab at food on his plate. And despite the sniffling, he had a healthy appetite. The same could not be said for Qui-Gon, who was starting to worry about his padawan. The young man was no stranger to colds or flus, but Qui-Gon had hoped this would be a mission devoid of such complications. It was beginning to look as though that was too much to hope for now.


     Though one would not know it from simply talking to Obi-Wan. When asked how he felt twice, he replied both times that he felt perfectly fine, apart from having an unfinished speech.


     As the morning progressed, so did his symptoms. Frequent sniffles turned into sniffles and coughs. Obi-Wan only coughed when he thought no one was looking, and then he did so as discretely as possible, into a fist or into his shoulder. With his suspicions as they were, Qui-Gon was always watching Obi-Wan, however, and quickly lost count at the number of coughs. When asked a third time, Obi-Wan again insisted he was fine, and Qui-Gon decided it would do no good to ask in the future. Luckily, no one else at their morning meeting seemed to notice Obi-Wan's progressing symptoms.


     There was a break mid-morning for brunch, which was presented on a table on the far side of the conference room. Obi-Wan had spent the morning sitting in the meeting beside his master, taking notes occasionally and working on his speech in-between. When brunch began and everyone left for food, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon were among the few who remained at the conference table. Qui-Gon put his hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder. "I would be happy to look over what you have for your speech thus far. Why do you not go get something to eat, Padawan?"


     Taking it as an order more than anything else, the young Obi-Wan looked up, his eyes sparkling, his nose running slightly. He handed over the datapad and rose from his seat. Qui-Gon smiled. "Would you bring me a small plate of fruit and a cup of tea, Padawan?" It was not unusual for Qui-Gon to take tea several times throughout the day. It kept him awake and soothed him at the same time. This time, it also allowed him to subtly steer Obi-Wan towards the drink and when Obi-Wan returned to Qui-Gon, he came with the requested food as well as two cups of tea. Obi-Wan drank his slowly, sniffling as steam tickled his nostrils and closing his eyes as the hot liquid traveled down his raw throat.


     The tea helped Obi-Wan's coughs, as well, for Qui-Gon did not see very many coughs from him during the late morning meeting. On the contrary, he seemed more alert and seemed to enjoy watching the debates and talks from the various officials. It was not often that visits between dignitaries from multiple planets needed to be supervised by Jedi. Usually such diplomatic matters were below such things. But every so often the Jedi presence was requested because of strained relations or matters that needed to be debated. In this particular case, it was both.


     By lunchtime, however, Obi-Wan's alertness had faded away. He yawned discretely several times and looked embarrassed when he realized Qui-Gon had seen the yawns. "I'm fine," he whispered, without having been asked his condition. Qui-Gon was beyond looking suspicious or hoping Obi-Wan might admit he was something other than fine. So Qui-Gon simply nodded.


     "As is your speech," he said approvingly.


     Obi-Wan beamed. That was high praise indeed. For a moment, there was a telepathic connection between the two of them. Feelings of pride and accomplishment. It existed for the briefest of moments, then Obi-Wan raised his shields fully again. Obi-wan looked down at his plate and pushed a few of the vegetables around his plate with his fork. He had not eaten very much at all, though he had made an effort to do so, and another effort to look like he was eating.


     Qui-Gon did not need their connection to see what it was Obi-Wan thought he was hiding by keeping his shields up. Obi-Wan ducked his head down a little and coughed lightly into his forearm.


     Qui-Gon took the opportunity to pretend to accidentally drop his spoon onto the floor. Obi-Wan noticed and bent over to retrieve it for his master. Qui-Gon quickly dropped his hand to his lap and then moved it over a few inches so that when Obi-Wan had finished searching for it on the floor and straightened up again, his hand brushed against Obi-Wan's forehead.


     Realizing what Qui-Gon had done, Obi-Wan pulled away at once, a bit taken aback. But Qui-Gon looked casual and innocent as he took the fork from Obi-Wan's hand with an appreciative smile. He had found his padawan's forehead to be warm, but not hot. If Obi-Wan was running a fever, which he doubted, it was an incredibly mind one that merited no cause for concern. However, it did seem that from then on, Obi-Wan was aware that he was not hiding his sufferings well enough.


      The best example of this was when his sneezes were added to his sniffles and coughs. The first sneeze struck just as lunch was wrapping up, and it was hidden by the din of small talk and plates being cleared from the table. The second and third occurred while they were on a tour of the south side of the city along with a handful of other delegates. They had been walking from the dining hall to the arboretum, and Obi-Wan had paused unnaturally between steps. He muffled them all into the sleeve of his robes, having no handkerchief at hand.


     Qui-Gon was less worried about the sneezes, however, when he noticed how much slower and weaker his padawan appeared to be. Though they had started out at the head of the tour group, following their guide as the Sinlinian explained the sights out of the windows lining the hallway, they ended up in the back, struggling to keep up.


     As they reached the arboretum, Obi-Wan seemed both grateful and out of breath. So busy rubbing his runny nose into the crook of his elbow, Obi-Wan barely noticed the beauty that was the collection of natural flora and fauna of Sinlin. With so much life filling the large room, Qui-Gon could feel the force rushing through him and he wished he could share that emotion intimately with his padawan through their bond. But Obi-Wan was still guarded.


     "ehh-hehhhhh..." Obi-Wan's eyes closed and Qui-Gon's attention turned to his padawan. Clearly a fourth sneeze, or perhaps more than that based on the strength of the build-up, was about to strike. "hahhh..." He swayed unsteadily, drawing breath in short, swift gasps. "hahhh-CHISHH! hehh-IHShhh! ehhh-Hishhhh! Sniff! Sniff!" He quickly swiped his hand and wrist beneath his nose, his nostrils flaring with sniffles. His eyes were closed, but that did not keep him from feeling dizzy.


     Qui-Gon could see this even if he could not sense it. He reacted at once, wrapping his arm around Obi-Wan's shoulders. He bent his legs at the knees until his head was level with Obi-Wan's, and raised his other hand, pointing forward. He whispered softly, "Look at those birds. We don't have birds in the temple arboretum, do we?"


     "Not often," replied Obi-Wan, leaning into his master instinctively. Once in a while birds managed to find their way in through the outer doors to the arboretum. They might stay for days before being caught and released again. "And none so fine as these."


     Under the pretense of pointing out other things, Qui-Gon kept his arm wrapped around Obi-Wan. It steadied and warmed Obi-Wan at the same time, and he did not attempt to break away from the comforting touch. As they moved on to explore other parts of the conference center, Obi-Wan stuck to his master, half buried at times in his master's robes. He continued to cough and sniffle, and his constant rubbing at his nose showed that he needed to sneeze as well.


     A young padawan in a more modern era, Obi-Wan had never adopted the habit of carrying handkerchiefs. He preferred tissues, especially when it came to sneezes, and sometimes had one or two stuffed in his pocket. But balled-up tissues were much less formal looking than a neatly folded hanky like the one his master always carried without fail.


     Qui-Gon reached into sleeve where he kept his thickest handkerchief. He fingered it as he watched Obi-Wan snuffle uncontrollably, his nose stuffy and runny all at once. Qui-Gon knew how Obi-Wan would react if a handkerchief was forced upon him. Obi-Wan would have no hope of pretending that he was fine. But Qui-Gon also knew that his padawan needed to blow his nose. The sniffling padawan was starting to draw attention now, and Qui-Gon was starting to work through a way to allow Obi-Wan to save face while still being cared for.


     "hahhh... hehhh-IHTChhhhhh! Hitchooshh!" The sneezes were growing steadily worst. Wetter. Stronger. They shook Obi-Wan's frame and made Obi-Wan shudder afterwards as he sniffled with a wet hand or arm. The padawan blushed as practically everyone in their group stared at him.


     Extracting his handkerchief, Qui-Gon forced it into Obi-Wan's hand at once. "How many times have I told you to carry a hanky when we're somewhere with beautiful flora? You know sometimes flowers bother your nose."


     Obi-Wan wiped at his nose and his hands repeatedly, with snuffles and sniffles and good hard rubs. His whisper muffled through the handkerchief, "I'm sorry, Master." And by 'I'm sorry' he clearly meant 'thank you'. Qui-Gon could see that in his eyes. And in the way Obi-Wan did not hurriedly tuck the handkerchief away in shame. Instead, Obi-Wan kept it pressed to his nose to catch and hide his runny nose.


     After visiting several other locations, including the newly renovated hall of Sinlin provinces and the old traditional chapel, the tour concluded. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon had time enough to visit the banquet hall to oversee preparations for that night's affair. Qui-Gon looked over the details from the number of seats to the dietary restrictions being accounted for, while Obi-Wan examined the stage, podium, and the posted list of the order of speakers. All looked to be in order. Apart from Obi-Wan, that is.


     From across the large room, Qui-Gon watched Obi-Wan back away from the podium. The young man's jaw was dropping, eyes fluttering shut, chest heaving. "ITSChhhhh! EhhhTchooo! Hehtchooo!" Obi-Wan sneezed towards the handkerchief he was holding out in front of his face a few inches.


     //Obi-Wan,// Qui-Gon started to communicate before he realized Obi-Wan would not hear him through their bond. He disliked the idea of shouting his concerns across the room, however alone they were there, so he headed over to Obi-Wan. He used the extra time to try and decide upon the wording, but when he reached the floor in front of the stage, he had as little idea of how to proceed as he had back across the room. "Obi-Wan," he began.


     Obi-Wan looked down as he approached the end of the stage. In a flurry of robes, he leapt off the end and landed deftly a foot from Qui-Gon, the soles of his boots smacking the marble floor. "I know, Master," he said.


     Surprised and not wishing to show that, Qui-Gon waited for Obi-Wan to go on. Qui-Gon was amazed that Obi-Wan would actually admit his illness. And that his padawan had been able to know his thoughts without being able to sense them.


     Obi-Wan went on, "I know we need to get going to the... sniff, sniff... to the meeting." He scrubbed his nose with the back of his hand rather violently, then looked at Qui-Gon with an expression as innocent as the one Qui-Gon had given him after trying to gauge Obi-Wan's temperature earlier.


     Resignedly, Qui-Gon nodded. "You are correct." He put an arm around Obi-Wan's waist and drew him close into a hug. Obi-Wan accepted the gesture and wrapped his arms around his master with an equally affectionate squeeze. For a moment, as Qui-Gon's chin and cheek were brushed by the soft ends of Obi-Wan's short hair, Qui-Gon considered swooping the young man into his arms and carrying him to their assigned quarters. He would insist upon Obi-Wan staying in bed, and he would stay home from the night's formal banquet in order to see that his padawan did so. And then he would nurse Obi-Wan back to health, holding him at night when the congestion was the worst and convincing Obi-Wan to drop his shields.


     With his shields raised, Qui-Gon had no way of knowing exactly how poorly Obi-Wan was feeling. There was no way to know whether Obi-Wan really could or could not handle the long afternoon meeting and banquet that were scheduled for the day. Qui-Gon knew he should ask and demand a truthful answer. It was a master's place to elicit truth and decide what was best for his padawan. But Obi-Wan was no longer a boy. He had already been taught lessons on the importance of honesty and on taking care of himself. If he had not learned them yet from experience than there were no words Qui-Gon could say now to make Obi-Wan magically lower his shields and willingly retreat to bed to nurse his cold. If Obi-Wan insisted he was fine and could carry on with his work, Qui-Gon had no choice but to believe him. He gestured and together they headed for the conference room.


     Of course, that did not mean he had to be ignorant towards his padawan's ailment, either. He was aware of each and every symptom. And he was ready to move in if they got too bad. As they sat at the table and helped with the negotiations, however, Obi-Wan's symptoms steady increased.


     "You need to understand where they are coming from on this issue as well," Qui-Gon said, his hands folded on the table and his head slightly bowed. He looked over at two of the lawmakers. "The Criosians have believed they had claims to the majority of the moon since the treaty of..." He paused, waiting for information that did not come. "Padawan? The name, please?" There was silence after this as well.


     Qui-Gon turned his head to see Obi-Wan fighting back a sneeze. The fight was time-consuming and seemed to take more energy than Obi-Wan had in him. Grinding his teeth, Qui-Gon frowned. This was not the first time during the meeting that Obi-Wan had not been able to provide him with needed information at a normal rate. It was not in Qui-Gon's nature as a Jedi Master to feel annoyance, and he knew Obi-Wan could not help his sneezes. But he also did not like to rely on someone who was not able to do his work properly. Qui-Gon met Obi-Wan's eyes for a moment and mouthed the words 'Let the sneeze out. Quickly.'


     Obi-Wan's eyes snapped shut. The tenseness in his shoulders lessened. His furrowed brow relaxed. He pulled back with a deep breath, then snapped forward with a sneeze. "hahhh-CHIHHH!" He caught it in the handkerchief, then crumpled up the handkerchief into his palm, closing his fingers around it. He sniffed a long and hard sniff, then raised his head. "The Treaty of Eldonta, in the year of thirty-eight-nineteen. Signed into being by three of the five governments present here today." His voice sounded deeper and laced with stuffiness. It was not yet affecting his speech, but by the end of the day it no doubt would.


     Not needing to thank Obi-Wan for finally doing his job, Qui-Gon jumped back into his point. "But we also understand that your world never acknowledged that treaty." Qui-Gon went on, trying to ignore Obi-Wan's nearly constant sniffles now.


     As the meeting went on, the coughing and sneezing only increased. After a while, Qui-Gon took Obi-Wan's datapad from his hand and looked up the information himself. He was still forced to pause in order to look it up, but the time that took was much less than if he waited for Obi-Wan to do it. Without anything active to do, Obi-Wan still tried to follow along. But he was constantly distracted by his cold.


     Several times, Obi-Wan nodded off for a few moments. He kept his coughs and sneezes quiet, but soon lost the thread of conversation and was unable to offer advice during breaks when he and Qui-Gon would have normally conferred.


     When the meeting ended at last, Obi-Wan was hardly aware of the fact. He managed to stand up and follow Qui-Gon out. Seeing that his padawan was somewhat unaware of his surroundings and simply following rather automatically, Qui-Gon put his arm around Obi-Wan to help guide him down the corridors. Obi-Wan closed his eyes and snuggled into his master's robes as he was led back to their room. He paused several times in his steps as the urge to sneeze struck him. With the handkerchief rather used up, he muffled them all in the crook of his elbow and wiped his nose on his sleeve repeatedly. Luckily, he would be changing out of these robes before the evening's banquet. And even more luckily, he would be back in their room very soon.


     "The beetig wedt well, did't it, Baster?" Obi-Wan asked hopefully as they continued down the hallways. He sniffled and wiped his nose on his sleeve. He gave a tug on Qui-Gon's robe to indicate he needed to sneeze again. "ehhh-hehh..." He rubbed his nose into his sleeve again. "hahhh... hah-ehhh-IHshhh! ehhhChuhhh!"


     Caught up in watching the sad display, Qui-Gon had forgotten Obi-Wan's question. Not to mention that he did not really know how to answer the question anyway. The meeting had been all right, but it would have gone much more smoothly had Obi-Wan not sneezed through the whole thing.


     They reached their quarters in no time. Sniffling terribly, Obi-Wan broke awake from Qui-Gon and went straight for the dresser upon which a box of tissues stood. He pulled several out at a time and cupped them to his nose with both hands. He gave several strong, liquid blows, then crumpled the tissues up and tossed them away. "It's getting late," Obi-Wan said, his voice fairly less stuffy after the blowing. "I would like to get to the banquet hall early to be certain everything is set... set up... hahhh-IHSHhhhh!" He blew his nose one-handed this time as he pulled open a drawer in the dresser. Out came his formal robes and a change of leggings.


     Qui-Gon stood just inside the room, leaning back against the closed door. He sighed and shook his head. "After that meeting you still have no qualms about going to the banquet, Padawan?"


     Obi-Wan lifted his head and looked at him curiously. "Master? I must give my speech tonight." He seemed to be unable to fathom the idea of not attending.


     Giving him a stern look, Qui-Gon started, "Obi-Wan..." He sighed deeply. "You are sick, Padawan mine."


     With a deep sigh, Obi-Wan's shoulders sagged. "I was hoping you might not notice. My shields... and I tried hard not to cough and sneeze all the time..."


     Qui-Gon walked over to Obi-Wan and wrapped both arms around him. Obi-Wan nuzzled his face into Qui-Gon's chest, sniffling still. Qui-Gon put a hand on his head and stroked the soft hair. The touch made Obi-Wan lift his head and look up. "Just one look into your eyes was all I needed to know you were sick."


     Obi-Wan looked away shyly. "I should have known that you knew. Sniff! Sniff!" He rubbed his sleeve against his runny nose again. "But if you knew, why did you...?"


     Reaching over Obi-Wan's shoulder, Qui-Gon pulled a tissue from the box and handed it to Obi-Wan. "Because you are old enough to make some decisions yourself. I had hoped you would use wisdom rather than stubbornness. But you insisted upon working and fulfilling your responsibilities. And you cut yourself off from parts of the force when your need for it was greatest."


     Obi-Wan's voice was muffled by Qui-Gon's robes. "When you're sick, you always take care of yourself, but you also manage to handle your responsibilities so well. I was only trying to do you as you would."


     "Is this really what I would do?" Qui-Gon asked, stroking Obi-Wan's head.


     "I know what you would have me do, Master." Qui-Gon raised his eyebrows. Pulling out of the hug, Obi-Wan looked down at his formal robes. He sniffled. "I know you would have me changing into my sleep clothes, rather than my formal uniform." Qui-Gon nodded. "You would have me give my speech to you to present in my place." Qui-Gon nodded again. "And you would have me get into bed and nurse my cold." Qui-Gon nodded yet again.


     "The decision is yours, Obi-Wan. I will not make it for you." He crossed his arms over his chest.


     Obi-Wan nodded back, his breaths unsteady. He turned and gathered a few more tissues into his hand. He cupped them to his nose and mouth just as his eyes closed. "hahhh-hah-IHShhh! Ehtchuhhh! hehhKShhhh!" He blew hard and used one hand to scrub the tissues against his nose. Coughing, he crossed the room and sat down at the foot of the bed. "I don't think I'm well enough to attend the banquet, Master. Would you please give the speech on my behalf? The delegation needs to be introduced before any can present."


     "I will indeed, Padawan. I will make certain everything runs smoothly tonight, and I'll return as soon as possible." Qui-Gon walked over to the bed and patted Obi-Wan's back as he kissed Obi-Wan's forehead. "Now, as for those other two things I would have you do?"


     Obi-Wan nodded and coughed. He exchanged his formals for his sleep pants and, after changing, crawled beneath the covers. Qui-Gon brought the tissue box over before changing into his own formal robes. Sniffling with a tissue pressed to his nose, Obi-Wan watched his master move about, undressing and dressing, finding the datapad and looking through Obi-Wan's speech again. He had to struggle to keep his eyes open. "I know," he whispered as Qui-Gon turned to him, "I should get some rest while you're gone."


     "Exactly what I was going to say," Qui-Gon said, smiling. And, suddenly, he felt Obi-Wan's shields slip down a notch. Qui-Gon waited another moment, not wanting to press hard.


     Needing to sneeze again, Obi-Wan covering his nose with tissues. "hahh... ahhhh-heh-IHHTChhhh! hahhChooo! Sniff!" By the time the sneezes were finished, Obi-Wan had lowered his shields completely and allowed Qui-Gon to embrace him through their bond. No matter how nice physical touches had been, both of them wore expressions that showed how much they had missed the closeness that came from their bond.


     //Take care while I'm gone. Be aware of the force and of what your body is telling you. Give me a call if you need me. I will be able to hear you now,//  Qui-Gon told him telepathically.


     //Yes, Master.// Qui-Gon was on his way out when Obi-Wan called out to him. //Master?// Qui-Gon paused in his steps. //Today... I hope I did not--//


     "You did not ruin anything today, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon said out loud, shaking his head. "But--"


     Sensing what his master was going to say, Obi-Wan finished for him. "But I should not risk attending the banquet tonight."


     Qui-Gon nodded, smiling warmly. It was good to have his connection with his padawan again. "Feel better, Obi-Wan. I will bring some dinner home with me and tell you all about the banquet when I get back." Obi-Wan smiled back, then closed his eyes and relaxed beneath the covers. Sensing the appreciation his padawan felt, Qui-Gon switched off the lights and made his way out of the room silently.