Fandom: Star Wars: The Clone Wars series
Pairings: Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon implied
Disclaimer: Definitely not my world and I don’t make a dime from this!
Summary: Ahsoka is fairly certain her master has a cold. She just doesn’t know what to do about it.
Author’s Notes: I’ve had the idea for this fic for a few years now.
Bunnies: #9, #20
Feedback: It’s my first time writing a Clone Wars story, so I would adore some!
“Trust can be earned and given, but it can never be bought.”
The Jedi Council and Senate approve the creation of a base of operations on one of the moons in the Muldari System. Its strategic placement puts it close enough to the front lines to allow quick responses to any number of battles at a moment’s notice. And its location is out of the way and far enough away from the trade federation’s numerous blockades, which makes it easy for storing and distributing supplies. General Skywalker and his Padawan Ahsoka have been given the task of setting up this base and preparing the squadrons to protect the area.
“We’ll set up camp here,” Anakin Skywalker barked as he jumped out of his ship. Ships were landing all about, expelling clone troopers through every open door and hatch. Ahsoka saw to her ship and her R2 unit before grabbing her pack and saber and following her master through the masses. The scouts had said this was a good moon for a base and Ahsoka sensed its eventual potential. Of course, right now, all the moon was giving them was darkness and coldness and, oh yeah, wetness.
“It would have to rain before we could get the tents set up.” Ahsoka waved her hand to move a stack of crates out of the nearest cargo ship.
Ahsoka turned. Anakin was just a few feet behind her, but another hundred clones were there as well. And the sneeze had been soft; she’d barely heard it. It could have come from anyone. But, somehow, she knew it had come from her master.
Tents went up. Building frameworks went up. Beds were sleeping rolls and chairs were boxes. Sometimes she missed her room back at the temple—not so much because it was warm and comfortable and dry, but because it was always there. It was stable and calm, reliable and so completely hers. It was the one place she could be alone. And she missed the quarters she had with her master, the shared kitchen and couch where they could meditate together.
Not that Anakin was the best at meditating. Of course, she wasn’t the best at it either, but sometimes it felt good to focus on the Force and their bond and the life in everything around them. “Master?” she called, turning.
Anakin was further away now, but he looked over his shoulder. //What is it, Snips?//
She grinned . Maybe he had the same idea. //After we get set up tonight, could we meditate?//
He cocked his head at her then cleared his throat. “Sure.”
It was late by the time a rudimentary camp was in place. The tent she was to share with her master was large enough for their gear, bedrolls, and some equipment that absolutely could not get wet. She sat down on her bedroll, feeling the hard ground beneath that, and smiled. Even hundreds of light years away from the temple, the ground was still the ground and it was still hard. Master Yoda had a lesson about that, but she couldn’t remember how that went. Ahsoka closed her eyes and reached out to the Force.
Her eyes flew open. Anakin rubbed the back of his wrist at his nose then settled down on his bed. He didn’t say one word about what was undeniably a sneeze, so Ahsoka didn’t say anything either. “I’m surprised you wanted to do this tonight. You didn’t get much sleep on the ship. You must be exhausted.”
She shrugged. “I’m not that tired.” She closed her eyes again and, a moment later, she could feel him. He reached out through the Force and touched her, as if patting her head and drawing her onward. She followed his path, trying not to let thoughts take her from the path. There was so much certainty in the way he reached out to the Force, and that was so reassuring. Everyone had thought the Council had been crazy for assigning her to him, but he’d proven to be the perfect master for her. Not to mention that Anakin Skywalker was almost always right in the middle of the action. She followed him into battle just as eagerly as into meditation—maybe even more-so, because she was more confident of her abilities with a lightsaber.
Another sound broke her concentration. It took her a full three seconds to realize it wasn’t another sneeze. It was, in fact, a snore. Anakin Skywalker was fast asleep.
When he didn’t respond, Ahsoka began laughing. She fell over on her bedroll, arm around her middle and one over her mouth so she wasn’t too loud. Anakin had never before looked more serene and at peace. Here he was thinking she was too tired for this and he was really the one who was exhausted.
Ahsoka climbed into the sleeping bag and tucked her lightsaber under her pillow for safe-keeping. “Master, it’s all right. You can go to bed now.” But he didn’t hear her and before she could figure out whether she should shake him awake or not, she was asleep herself.
Ahsoka got very little sleep that night. She woke at the sound of harsh, repetitive coughing and forced her eyes open. “Master?” Her body felt heavy and her mind fuzzy.
//Just a tickle in my throat. Sorry to wake you.//
“Whatimezit?” She blinked at the wall, not sure how to tell how dark it was outside through the canvas.
//Middle of the night… go back to sleep.// He coughed and coughed, cleared his throat, and coughed some more.
Ahsoka couldn’t make herself sit up, but she turned her head. Anakin was sitting up, wrapped in his bedroll, fist pressed to his mouth. “Master, can I—”
//You can go to sleep, Padawan.//
She so wanted to find out what was wrong with her master. But this was a command of sorts and he hadn’t used his nickname for her, which meant he wasn’t in the mood to discuss anything. Besides that, she was utterly exhausted after the journey and the work of setup. All the noise he was making kept her awake, however. She started counting his coughs as if they were fuzzy little ornics jumping over a fence. And then she started counting his sneezes. Ten. Twenty. Fifty. Anakin didn’t just have a tickle in his throat. He had a cold in his head.
When morning came, Ahsoka felt so bad she might as well have been ill herself. Someone had made some strong singepa tea that woke her up a bit. She tried to remember where she had left off in counting during the night but didn’t come up with a number before she caught sight of her master. He was standing amidst some of the squadron captains, laying out some of his plans. Why he hadn’t woken her for this, she didn’t know, but she headed over quickly to catch the tail end of his strategy.
Ahsoka winced. He sounded so congested and his voice was deep and rumbley. “Master… you—”
“You were late for the briefig.”
“Yes, I’m sorry. But… shouldn’t you be back in the tent? You sound dreadful.”
He looked at her a moment, perhaps unsure as to whether to tell her off for pointing out his weakness or to confide that he felt miserable. In the end, he did neither. He coughed into his fist, a painfully dry cough. Then he cleared his throat, though he spoke to her through their training bond. //I thought Togrutas were all about survival of the fittest.//
//We can be. But we can also be fiercely loyal. And you’re my master. I’m worried about you.//
//I’m fine, Snips. Go help Rex get the troops organized.//
She stared at him. Didn’t he realize how bad he sounded? //Master, you need—//
//Go. Help. Rex. Leave me be. That’s an order.//
Obediently and respectfully, she nodded and left.
She continued walking away, but turned, walking backwards for a few paces so she could see Anakin. He pulled out a cloth handkerchief and his face screwed up as he blew his nose into it copiously. He coughed and blew his nose again. Then he rubbed his hand against his forehead and stuffed the hanky back into his pocket.
Ahsoka turned back around, fingering the silka beads that made up her padawan braid. They reminded her of her position. Ahsoka Tano would never disobey a direct order from a Jedi Master without good reason.
Fortunately, she had good reason.
What she didn’t have, however, was time.
After she helped Rex with the squadron assignments, Anakin had her unloading the rest of the ships. After that, she was ordered to perform diagnostic checks on all of the fighters and their droids. Then, in a complete insult to her abilities, Skyguy had her doing an inventory of all the weapons.
All she had to do was sneak away and get ten minutes alone in mission headquarters. But every time she thought she could get away with it, Anakin showed up to give her something else to do.
And every time he showed up, he looked and sounded worse than the last time. His voice was starting to go and the sweat on his brow was noticeable. Instead of just a single sneeze here or there, he would have little fits of sneezing and coughing.
She was working on the inventory when Anakin broke away from the pack of clone troopers. He waved dismissively at them, apparently indicating that they should continue pouring over the maps. And he stumbled off toward the tent he shared with Ahsoka, sneezing continuously into the crook of his arm the whole time.
Ahsoka felt sorry for him and wanted to go to him. But, more importantly, she needed to send a transmission. She took a deep breath, squared her shoulders, and walked up to the two clones standing outside mission headquarters. “I need ten minutes undisturbed,” she told them, speaking with an air of command, as if this was precisely where she was supposed to be. “Please guarantee my privacy.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” One of them said, stepping aside so that she could go in.
Grateful the tent was empty, Ahsoka went straight for the communications terminal that had been set up. The transmitter and receiver had been boosted so that the outpost could serve as a true base of operations and communications had been the first thing they’d set up once the building had been assembled. Though she had the clearance codes to get through. It took her a while to establish a secure connection. But, eventually, the translucent holographic image of Obi-Wan Kenobi sprang up in front of her.
“Master Kenobi… I need your help.”
“Padawan, I wasn’t expecting to hear from you.” He paused, narrowing his eyes with a suspicious glare in them. “What sort of trouble has Anakin gotten himself into this time?”
“No trouble,” she replied. “At least, not yet. Master Skywalker is… well, I think he’s ill.”
“Ill? Do we need to send a medical team? Is it that serious?”
“No, I think it’s just head cold and he probably had it before we got there. The environment here doesn’t seem hostile in any way and no one else has fallen ill… yet.”
“I see.” Obi-Wan nodded. He sounded so wise. She loved being her master’s padawan. And she was sure that she never would have made it this far if she had been anyone else’s, especially Obi-Wan’s. But sometimes it didn’t hurt to have the wisdom of an older, more experienced master; especially one who knew her own master so well. “Then how can I help you, Padawan?”
“I’m concerned about Master Skywalker. He really doesn’t seem well at all. Lots of coughing and sneezing and I think he’s running a fever. More importantly, he’s losing his voice. If he leads a patrol out and they run into the enemy, he won’t be able to give orders effectively.”
“I understand the problem, but I fail to see why you’re contacting me.”
“He won’t let me help. He won’t even let me near him. Every time I try to get close, he gives me some absurd order. He had me doing a weapons inventory, Master Kenobi. A weapons inventory. A youngling could do that. I’m sure he’s just doing it to keep me away so I won’t find out he’s sick.”
“But you already know.”
“He doesn’t know I know.”
“You said he was coughing and sneezing and running a fever. How could you not know?”
Ahsoka shook her head. “He’s going to be furious with me for figuring it out. Master Kenobi, how did you handle him when he was sick?”
Obi-Wan looked thoughtful for a few moments. “When he was my padawan, he mainly did one of two things when ill. He would use his illness to get away with ditching his duties, including his class work. Or he would try to hide his symptoms so that he wouldn’t seem ill in front of me. We once spent an incredible holiday feast somehow missing each other all day in our own quarters because he didn’t want me to find out he’d completely lost his voice. Whichever method he employed, the way I dealt with it was to order him to take medicines and go to bed. He gets these headaches when he’s sick, but some pain killers and sleep always put him right.”
Uncertain, Ahsoka realized she was winding her beaded padawan braid around her finger again. She could just picture how her Skyguy would react if she ordered him to anything he didn’t want to. “Somehow I don’t think that technique will work for me.” She thought for a moment, then she had an absolute brainstorm. “How did you handle your master when he was ill?”
It was Obi-Wan’s turn to look uncertain. “I would climb into bed with him and snuggle with him until he felt better.”
Her eyes widened slightly. “Oh. Um, I definitely don’t think that technique will work for me.”
“I suppose not.” He smiled, a little pleased by the memory and a little embarrassed by it. “But I do have an idea about how to handle my former padawan…”
Ahsoka left the headquarters and looked around. Anakin Skywalker was nowhere in sight to order her to do anything. Good.
She visited the makeshift field hospital that was currently a cot in a tent surrounded by a dozen and a half boxes of supplies. She rooted through for some items then ventured back out again.
She checked on what was coming together to be a pretty decent mess hall. She poked around the ships, though she really didn’t expect Anakin to be there. It didn’t take long before the sound of another sneeze caught her attention. A smile crept onto her face as she headed in the direction of the tent.
Anakin sat on his Jedi robes, laid neat and folded upon the ground. His bedroll was unzipped and wrapped around him almost completely. Only one hand which held a datapad and most of his face could be seen. He was shaking slightly with cold, though beads of sweat shone on his forehead. “Sdibs!” He looked surprised to see her, and the one word made him cough and snuffle.
She sat down cross-legged on her bedroll, facing him, not more than a few feet away. If he was going to be furious with her, then so be it. She had to do what she could. “Master Skywalker, I know that you’re ill.”
He set his datapad down.
“I can tell. Your color’s off.”
He laughed at this, actually laughed, which just made him cough again. “Whose badawad are you? All this…” He gestured to himself and rubbed two straight fingers beneath his nose. “The sdee… sdeezig did’t give you a clue?”
She shrugged good-naturedly. “Well, maybe that as well.” Ahsoka dove into the small bag she’d picked up and pulled out a box of tissues.
Handing it over turned into just getting it close enough before he swiped it from her hand like a wild animal that hadn’t eaten for days finally spotting his favorite prey. Anakin pulled out a tissue and cupped it to his nose, rubbing with his eyes closed as if savoring the sensation for the first time. Then he pitched forward suddenly, violently. “hettchihhhhhhh!” He snuffled into the tissue, folding it, wiping at his nose. “Thads. Ode day I hobe to be able to sdeeze without soudig ridiculous.”
She cracked a smile. He was taking this better than she had expected. He hadn’t even tried to kick her out yet.
“What are you doig here, Sdibs? Abart frub watchig be sdeeze, I bead.”
“I’m here to talk with you. Master Skywalker, I know you’re unwell and I want to do what I can to make you feel better.”
She expected him to deny it. She expected any number of threats or yells. She expected him to order her away, never to see him again in this condition. Instead, he sat there chuckling but wearing such a crestfallen expression. “I failed you.” Before she could ask him to elaborate, he did so. “I’ve beed tryig to keeb you away frub be all day.”
“Because you didn’t want me to know.” It was a statement, not a question.
“Doe,” he corrected her anyway. “Because I did’t wadt you to catch by cold.”
He looked so sad and pathetic, big blue eyes that were fever bright and a little red from lack of sleep, a nose all flushed at the tip and flaring against a tissue with each breath. He looked as defeated now as he did on any rare occasion when he lost a fight. He hadn’t been avoiding her because he didn’t want to show her weakness… he had been avoiding her because he’d cared about her.
“If you get sick, there’s dobody to see to the base’s setup. I trust you, Badawad.”
She very rarely blushed, and this time was no exception. But she was flattered and thrilled and would have hugged him if it hadn’t meant getting closer to his snuffly, sneezy body.
Instead, Ahsoka pulled a small white bottle out, the contents of which gave a tell-tale rattle as she handed it over. This wasn’t the technique Master Ob-Wan had equipped her with but she’d decided to give it shot. “These are for your headache, Master.”
Upon taking the bottle, he opened it and popped a single pill into his mouth, swallowing it down dry like the tough, stoic warrior he was.
“And this…” She pulled one more item out of her bag and held it up for his inspection. “This is for you. I was told I should use it to blackmail you into letting me help you.”
He chuckled and she willingly handed it right over. Anakin wasted no time in ripping open the plastic wrapping and bunching up the pack a little to let the air activate it. Then he pulled the personal heat pack under the blanket with him. It took a few seconds, but a contented smile crossed his face. And Ahsoka noticed that he had finally stopped shaking with shivers. Suddenly she understood a little better why Obi-Wan’s technique of snuggling with his master was such a good one. She didn’t have those sorts of feelings for her master, but she would have liked to have hugged him to let him know he didn’t have to go through this alone.
“Thadks, Sdibs. You’re fadtastick.” He closed his eyes and swayed in place for a few seconds, basking in the warmth. Then he leaned right over all the way and curled up on the floor of the tent, still wrapped in his bedroll for the most part. “Tired,” he muttered. “So tired.”
“It’s been a long day,” she supplied, thinking of all the menial tasks he had set for her. And she hadn’t even finished that inventory. But that didn’t matter at all. She crawled into her bedroll and smiled at him.
She expected a smile back, but instead he suddenly looked confused. “Wait… who told you to blackbail be? Who did you talk to about by little head cold?”
Ahoka closed her eyes, wincing. Oh, Anakin was going to be furious with her!