Title: 2005 Gift for laughing_newt

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Star Wars

Rating: G/PG

Disclaimer: These characters and their world are not mine. I've no rights and no money.

Summary: While on the run, Qui-Gon suffers a bit of a setback.

Notes: Written as a gift fic for laughing_newt during the 2005 holiday season. There's a Qui line at the beginning I blatantly stole from Batman: Begins because I love Liam saying it *G*



2005 Gift for laughing_newt

     His body was getting a bit tired and his heart was racing. Obi-Wan breathed in slowly through his mouth, sucking the air from the breather. When he exhaled, he did so out of his nose. A tiny stream of bubbles passed before his eyes, but he swam right through them. He was following his master, who was swimming just ahead of him through the lake.


     It felt as though they had been underwater forever, but Obi-Wan knew it could not have been more than an hour. Still he felt tired of swimming and was exceedingly relieved when the water began to get increasingly shallow. He lifted his head out of the water and took the breather from his mouth. Even the muscles of his face hurt from holding it in his mouth for so long. As such, he spoke to his master through their bond. //Do you think we lost the Leeblins, Master?//


     Qui-Gon stood still for a moment, thinking. Then he replied through their bond, perhaps feeling likewise, //I believe they've lost our trail, but they will find it again soon enough. We can afford to rest our bodies for a little while.//


     Obi-Wan nodded. As relieved as he was to be rid of their pursuers for a while, he almost wished that they would have to keep moving. From the instant he had emerged from the lake, he was struck with how dark and how very cold it was outside. He was shivering so completely from head to toe. Soaking wet hit freezing cold. His fingers were wrinkled and his arms were covered in chill bumps. As his teeth chattered and body shook, he folded his arms over his chest and rubbed his hands vigorously up and down his upper arms.


     "Rub your chest to get warm," Qui-Gon said, hugging his arms around his chest. "Your arms will take care of themselves."


     It did not help much. But he knew well enough that they could not risk making a fire. The smoke would be seen far above the tree line and their enemies would zero in on the position in a matter of minutes.


     "hehhh-CHAHH! huh-huh-huhCHOO!"


     Obi-Wan looked up, his teeth chattering, watching Qui-Gon shivering and sniffling. "M-m-master?"


     "C-cold," Qui-Gon replied. He held an arm out. "Come h-here?"


     Obi-Wan immediately went to Qui-Gon, pressing himself against the taller man. Their wet clothes stuck to each other, making strange squishing and sticking sounds. And even though Qui-Gon was just as cold and wet as he was, when they were together it almost seemed as though they were generating heat. Obi-Wan at least felt warmer up against Qui-Gon. And from the way Qui-Gon hugged him, he assumed Qui-Gon felt similarly.


     After a while, however, the warmth did not seem to be enough. With his arms wrapped around Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan hugged tightly, but he was starting to feel very cold again.


     "HEHSChhhhh! EhhhhChooo! Sniiiiiff!"


     Obi-Wan looked up, trying to study Qui-Gon's face but not seeing much more than Qui-Gon's chin and cheek. "Bless you," Obi-Wan said.


     Qui-Gon groaned and took one arm from around Obi-Wan to rub at his nose. "I feel miserable," he muttered.


     "Are you..." Obi-Wan paused, considering, then he went for it. "Are you coming down sick? A cold? Fever?"


     Qui-Gon nodded. "Yes, I believe so." Qui-Gon groaned again and looked up towards the sky. "Tala is going to kill me!"




One and a half days ago...


     "Say 'Ahhhhhhhhh', please." Tala said, sticking the tongue depressor in very far.


     Obi-Wan felt like gagging and choking for a moment. But that went away as soon as he did as Tala had instructed. When it was over, Obi-Wan reached up and rubbed his wrist against his nose.


     Tala pulled out another instrument and, with it, looked into Obi-Wan's nose. The little light pressed against his nostrils, irritating them further. Obi-Wan held out as long as he possibly could, then he cupped a hand to his nose and mouth. "ehhhTShhhhhhh!"


     Tala looked at him with suspicion as Obi-Wan sniffed. "You should try having someone stick one of those in your nose and not sneezing. It can't be done," Obi-Wan said, sniffling. "But I promise I'm over my cold." He rubbed at his nose again. "I can go on the mission, right?" he asked hopefully.


     Tala took a while to answer, to make it dramatic. Obi-Wan, and the onlooking-Qui-Gon, grew anxious. But finally Tala smiled and nodded. "Yes you can." Then he looked over at Qui-Gon. "You, on the other hand..."


     Qui-Gon sighed. "Tala, it's just a little sniffle. I haven't come down with Obi-Wan's cold."


     "Not yet," Tala warned. "I will let you go on the mission so long as you promise to stay warm. I want you to keep taking those herbs I gave you, and to continue meditating. All right?"


     Qui-Gon nodded as he collected Obi-Wan. "All right." He gave Obi-Wan's shoulder a squeeze. "And I am certain my Padawan will be looking out for me, as always." Obi-Wan nodded affirmatively.


     Tala did not look entirely convinced, perhaps because he knew them far too well. But he wished them luck with their mission.




     Obi-Wan thought they could use some of that luck right about now. "hehhh-hahhhCHOO!" Qui-Gon was sounding worse by the minute and Obi-Wan was starting to feel as though they needed to move on again. He couldn't explain it, but he had a feeling that their pursuers were getting close. And with Qui-Gon sneezing they were sure to be heard. Their only hope was to keep moving and stay near places where they could hide quickly if necessary.


     On one side was the lake and on the other was a thick forest. Mountains lay far beyond that, but on the other side of the lake was the city. It seemed they had no choice but to move into the forest.


     "Master... we should be going."


     Qui-Gon nodded. "The forest will be dense, but we should try to stay together."


     Obi-Wan had absolutely no intention of straying from his master's side. He knew it might be difficult to see Qui-Gon at times, but he knew he would be able to sense Qui-Gon. He was also fairly certain that he would need to be alert when it came to sensing his surroundings. He would need to avoid running into trees and would need to avoid their pursuers as well. As Obi-Wan pulled away from Qui-Gon, they both shivered violently. Obi-Wan felt the desire to go back to him, hugging him to try to warm up again. But if he could not warm up his master, the least he could do was help keep him safe. "That way?" Obi-Wan asked, gesturing towards one spot between trees.


     Qui-Gon nodded in agreement and they were off. They navigated the forest well at first, running through the dirt and fallen leaves and past the foliage and brush. After a while, however, their pace slowed. It was not due completely to their exhaustion, though their limbs felt heavy and stiff after the long swim and then their wet arms meeting the cold air. The terrain was getting more and rocky and elevated.


     Obi-Wan stopped as he realized he was no longer with Qui-Gon. He looked around, seeing trunks of trees in every direction until he noticed a hint of brown cloak behind one tree. He headed over quickly, reaching Qui-Gon who had stopped. "Master, we really should keep going."


     "I know," he said, panting. "I just need to... catch my breath." He was shivering as well. And his breath was hitching. He turned and pressed a fist to his nose and mouth. "huhh-huhh-Choo! hahhShoo! HAHShooo!" Qui-Gon shivered so violently afterwards that Obi-Wan simply had to wrap his arms around his master again.


     "We need to get you warm. And dry. Or your cold will get worse."


     Qui-Gon nodded and coughed a very troublesome cough. Qui-Gon's cold was too new to be settling in his chest already. Whatever the extent, it was clear that Qui-Gon would not be able to run as well as usual.


     "We could find somewhere to hide," Obi-Wan suggested.


     "I'm..." Qui-Gon rubbed at his nose. "I'm not so certain I will be able to be quiet even if we do." He coughed and cleared his throat to no avail. Then he pulled back, holding Obi-Wan out at arm's length. His expression was full of seriousness. "I should turn myself in. That would allow you to get away. You could come back for me."


     "Absolutely not!" Obi-Wan exclaimed. When they'd first arrived on the planet and had still been in the government's good graces, they had seen the detention units while on the tour. The conditions and torture carried out was not something he would let Qui-Gon suffer for even an instant. There was always another choice, and they would just have to have trust in the Force that they would find it. Until then, "I will help you move quickly. You can have some of my strength."


     Qui-Gon, busy rubbing more at his nose, smiled back at his Padawan. "That seems fair, as you are obviously borrowing some of my optimism." He cupped his hands over his nose and mouth. "huh-huh-HUH-Shooo! hehhChoo!" Each threw him forward, shoulders raised and pain in his expression.


     "I wish I could offer you more," Obi-Wan said sympathetically.


     And then they heard a sound that was quite separate from their voices and the sneezing. Footsteps. Coming quickly. In their direction. Nearly upon them.


     Obi-Wan had no time to panic. He grabbed Qui-Gon's arm and pulled. "Run!" They did, with no regard for anything except to escape from whoever it was. And as they ran, Obi-Wan could not help but remember how they had been reduced to freezing and dripping and running for their lives in the first place.




     Obi-Wan bowed deeply beside his master, who spoke for them both. "We are most honored to accept your hospitality. We have had an excellent visit. However, we really must be going."


     In an instant, as though on cue, Laser guns were pulled out and aimed right at the Jedi. "I'm sorry, Master Jinn. But you and Padawan Kenobi will not be going anywhere."


     At the mere glimpse of the weapons, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan had pulled out their Lightsabers. But less than a second later there were several dozen armed men with weapons pointed at the Jedi. Qui-Gon turned to the Leeblin prime minister, his expression calm but his tone harsh and eyes fiery. "You planned this from the beginning."


     The man nodded, his arms crossed over his chest. "Even before your arrival we had decided to hold you hostage if the talks did not go as well as we wanted. This would be the only way to make the Republic see how strong we are."


     Obi-Wan shook his head in protest. "The Republic does not care about strength the way you do." The differences between the two cultures had been evident from the start.


     "Oh, they care," the prime minister said, sounding very sure of himself. "And they will care when they hear we are holding two of their Jedi hostage."


     Qui-Gon took a deep breath that Obi-Wan was sure only he noticed. His master was straightening not only to speak but to gather strength. "You must realize, Your Excellency, that two Jedi would never allow themselves to become prisoners." Without notifying Obi-Wan-- without needing to-- Qui-Gon sprang into action. Literally. He jumped up in a graceful display, kicking one man right in the chest and sending him sprawling back against the ground. //Obi-Wan, do not kill,// Qui-Gon told him through their bond. //Defend the blasts and strike only in means of escape. They are too dependant upon their guns. They will only shoot.//


     Their escape was easy enough. Blaster fire could be absorbed by their sabers or deflected. And, as they broke through the lines, there was nothing but firing on them. No man touched the Jedi physically, with the exception of being pushed away or hit.


     Getting out of the city was even easier. It took them away from the one place they wanted to be, though, and that was their ship. Without it, they had no way to get back to Coruscant. They were certain that it would be heavily guarded now and of no use to them like that. It was best to shake those following them first, before deciding what to do next.


     The Jedi moved quickly and none outside of the meeting chamber dared confront them. However, there was the problem of enemy airships. The Leeblins were an advanced culture, and seemed to be able to mount an offense unusually quickly. Their only escape, which was instantly recognized and agreed upon by both, was to drive into the large lake and hope the ships could not track them.




     It was not the Leeblins who had found them this time. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan came to an abrupt stop at spearpoint. They were surrounded by a group of no fewer than thirty warriors. Unlike the darker-skinned Leeblins, these had lighter skin and fairer hair. But their bodies were covered with different symbols and shapes, using mud as paint. Instead of blasters they all held long, sharp spears. One stepped forward, towards the Jedi, and spoke in a language Obi-Wan did not recognize.


     Qui-Gon cleared his throat and spoke back. Amazed, Obi-Wan watched the warriors react as though they fully understood Qui-Gon's meaning. The one who had stepped forward, a woman whose hair reached down to her waist, replied.


     "Master?" Obi-Wan whispered nervously. He felt the tip of a spear touch the back of his neck and another press into his sleeve, not hard enough to draw blood, only to alert Obi-Wan to their presence, as though he might forget.


     "She says that we are in their forest," Qui-Gon explained, rubbing his arms to warm himself. He was shivering still.


     "Yes," Obi-Wan said with a nod. "I gathered as much. These must be the Greesians that the Leeblins mentioned to us." Qui-Gon nodded in agreement. "But how do you come to speak their language?"


     "It is not so different from what is spoken on my home world," Qui-Gon explained. Obi-Wan suddenly had the feeling that perhaps he and his master had not been chosen by the Council for this mission arbitrarily. "There are some significant differences, but I think we understand each other. I will attempt to tell them why we are here."


     "The truth?" Obi-Wan asked, feeling uneasy, but still not quite to the level of panic. "Do you think that is wise?"


     "I feel it is," Qui-Gon said, ending any and all remaining doubts. He cleared his throat again and spoke slowly in words that sounded strange and halting to Obi-Wan's ears. The woman considered his words, and then replied.


     Qui-Gon smiled.


     "What is it?" Obi-Wan asked at once.


     "These are indeed the people our pursuers spoke of. And the two peoples are at war." He looked down at Obi-Wan with a confident smile. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."


     "Can you ask them if they will help us, then? Can you ask them for refuge?"


     Qui-Gon nodded, his jaw hanging open. Obi-Wan knew that look. He wrapped an arm around Qui-Gon's middle to keep the man steady. Qui-Gon cupped his hands to his face, wanting to be over and done with his sneezing as quickly as possible, lest he lose the thread of conversation. "hahh-ahhhh-HUHSchhhh! Hehh... sniff! Sniff! heh-Shooo!" Qui-Gon rubbed his soaked sleeve beneath his nose, to no avail. "Sniff! Sniff!" He quickly jumped back into the conversation, however.


     There was a short exchange, back and forth, with both parties gesturing widely at points. Finally, Qui-Gon smiled and bowed to the woman, and to the other warriors. They slowly lowered their spears. Qui-Gon turned to Obi-Wan. "They have ships, Padawan. Ships that can get us across the galaxy at least, possibly back home if we are lucky. And they are willing to g-give us one." He sniffed hard and hugged his arms tightly to his chest to try to get warm.


     "A ship?" Obi-Wan said incredulously. "But these people..." He looked at them more closely and still saw nothing but thing clothes made of animal skins and mud paint on bare skin. The Leeblins, on the other hand, had clothes clearly manufactured out of synthetics and by machines.


     "It does not make sense for two civilizations to live and grow in such close proximity to be so vastly different technologically. If the two have been at war for so long, then the Greesians would have to be equally advanced in order to fight and stay alive against their adversaries. I understand this is just a front to strangers. And clever... hahhh... hahh-SHOO! They are willing to help us in exchange for some intelligence as to their plans, which we can certainly provide... Sniff! "


     Obi-Wan put a hand on Qui-Gon's back, looking quite sympathetic. "I think we should comply, Master." The thought of getting out of this mess and off the planet was quite favorable. The Force had clearly led them to this solution, and Obi-Wan felt they should take it. He looked back at his master, shivering from the cold and sniffling from his cold. "But can you ask them first for some warm blankets? Can you ask them for some dry clothes? For you at least, Master?"  


     Qui-Gon chuckled. "Thank you, Padawan Mine, for looking out for my health through all of this. I would like to be warm again." He rubbed his nose. "I also believe it is in our best interest to go as soon as possible if we do not want to be found by the Leeblins."


     Obi-Wan stared at him, waiting.


     Qui-Gon stared back, then he sighed and nodded. "I shall ask them the moment we are safe. Is that soon enough?"


     Obi-Wan hesitated, thinking it over and feeling it was a good compromise. He nodded and Qui-Gon smiled back. They followed the group of warriors deeper into the forest.