Title: Growing a Little

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Star Wars

Rating: PG

Warning: just innocent cuddling

Pairing: Qui/Obi eventually

Disclaimer: I'm not getting paid for this and I'm not George Lucas. How many times must I say this?

Summary: Qui-Gon does his best to look after a sick Obi-Wan, even though Obi doesn't really want his master fussing over him.

Notes: Very loosely inspired by circe's "I Spy". Basically, I love the image of a guy sleeping with his head in someone's lap... but sometimes that's not really the most comfortable position to be in, especially when sick. People's legs really aren't as soft as pillows... and once in a while a cranky Obi is cuter than an overly cuddly one (though admittedly not often)



Growing a Little


     I heard the door to the fresher slide open and closed. The footsteps that crossed our common area were slow and forced. I set down the datapad I hadn't really been reading and headed out of my own room, hanging in the doorway. I watched Obi-Wan walk to the couch, rubbing the back of his index finger against his nose repeatedly. He took a deep breath, shoulders rising, then sagging, and then he collapsed onto the couch. He sat on one side, sitting upright only from the support of the arm of the couch, which he clung to with one hand as he continued to rub his nose with his other.


     I watched my padawan freeze for a moment, eyes closing and jaw dropping as he sensed his own sneeze coming on. Eyes still closed, he leaned forward and pulled a tissue out of the box on the table. He did not need to sense the box; he had been through enough tissues already to know just where the box was. There was balled-up evidence of that scattered on the table and floor. He folded the tissue in rough fourths, and held it up to his face. "ehhh... ihhh-TSCHHH!" His hand gripped the couch arm to steady himself, for he had fallen forward at the sneeze, and there was another on its way. "heh-IHGShhhhh! KTchhh!" He gave a soft moan, wiping various parts of the tissue at his nose, then crumpling it up and tossing it towards the table. It hit the edge and bounced onto the floor, but he did not see. His eyes were shut again. His hand, gripping the couch, relaxed. But his body shook with a shiver.


     Using this as my cue, I walked over, making sure my footsteps were loud enough to be heard and my shields down. The last thing he needed now was to be startled. I walked behind the couch, putting on hand on his shoulder to let him know where I was, and then the other on his head. I rubbed my hand against the short buzzed hair, feeling it tickle my palm. He shivered again, weakly, and leaned into my touch instinctively.


     "Here," I said, easing him forward a little with my hand on his shoulder. My hands left him in order to pull the blanket that was draped over the back of the couch. I shook it, flapping out in front of me to straighten it out, and then draped it over his front, tucking it around his back as he sat back against the couch.


     He shivered again, more lightly this time, and then adjusted to the newfound warmth. He turned his head, looking up and back at me. "Thangs, but I was okay before," he said with a stuffy sniffle and in a light voice. He was clearly trying to sound much less hurt than he felt. He raised a fist to his mouth and coughed into it, giving a bit of a wince.


     "Would you like me to see if we've any cough drops left?" I asked, already on my way over to find out anyway. Behind me, I sensed his reluctant nod, and checked the cupboard. There was a small bag, with three left. I knew we were running low, but I made note to get more. I turned and tossed it over to him. He caught it, unwrapped it, and popped it in his mouth immediately. "How about tea?" I asked, remaining in the kitchen area. Obi-Wan shook his head, sucking on the cough drop. I could already detect the strong cherry scent from across the room. "Juice? Milkshake? Fizzy drink? Water?" He continued to shake his head, looking slightly frustrated as he did so. Taking the hint, I stopped asking questions, though that took much self restraint, and walked back to him.


     I had never been very good at leaving a suffering person alone. I had always assumed it a Jedi trait, and been suspicious of those willing to let others suffer for whatever reason, even the greater good. It wasn't simply from a kind heart that I returned from missions with injured creatures that needed to be cared for, or that I chose the path of a negotiator over a fighter, though I was certainly skilled at that as well. I took no pleasure in killing, even when it meant killing those who deserved it. But a Lightsaber wound almost always meant a quick death if the weapon was used correctly.


     Watching my own padawan learner suffer, however, was quite difficult. I knew very well he could sneeze and cough without my help. But each time he went to, I felt a pull at my heart, telling me I should be by his side, holding him, trying to help. And I felt a pull towards him. Whether it was my own instincts or perhaps what we shared through our training bond, I did not know. But I wanted to be the one to make him feel better. I wanted to do everything I possibly could. I wanted to help him, even though I knew he did not need so much of my help. Obi-Wan was strong, very strong, but that did not mean I could stand idly by and watch him suffer so.


     "ihhh-HUHShhhh! ihhSHHH!" He pulled another tissue out of the box and took a deep breath, blowing his nose miserably into it, then tossing it away. Every one of Obi-Wan's actions was getting slower and harder for him. His expressions revealed more misery, and his little complaining grunts and moans, though quiet, had not been there earlier in the day. Clearly his cold was not improving, much to his annoyance. His efforts had not been rewarded, and it was starting to take a toll on him.


     I took a seat on the other side of the couch, surveying the mess before me. There was a bowl of half-eaten soup, several empty glasses, a datapad that hadn't been read, and of course the tissue box. These were all surrounded by dozens of used tissues and discarded cough drop wrappers.


     "I'll clead," he promised, as though he were reading my mind. His voice was deep and slow, and showed absolutely no intention of cleaning right this second.


     I shook my head. "No. Do not be silly, Padawan." I leaned forward and began gathering the tissues and wrappers, clenching them in my hand.


     "You dod't have... have to..." he managed, reaching out to stop me. "Gerbs..."


     "I will not catch this from you," I reassured him, though completely without basis for my words. I could guarantee him nothing, though I had a very strong feeling I wouldn't. I gathered a handful and a half and took them to the kitchen, tossing them away. I thought of returning with the trashcan, but decided the mess wasn't really worth it. After a few more trips, I'd cleared the table of all but a fresh glass of water and the tissue box.


     I sat back down on the couch with a sigh and a stroke of my beard, in thought. For someone who did not want me to take care of him, he was certainly a handful when sick. I'd retrieved his assignments from instructors and gathered notes from his agemates. I'd stopped everything to make him soup on demand, and pushed liquids on him whenever silence filled the room too long. He grumbled every time I came over with a blanket or a glass of juice... but he wrapped up and drank just the same. And he chose to sit out on the couch instead of stretch out on the sleep couch in his room. I would have offered him my bed if I thought there was any chance of him accepting the offer. I wanted him to be as comfortable as he could possibly be.


     "hehh..." He needed to sneeze again. His eyes shifted towards me for a moment, then away, trying to ignore me. I tried not to make him uncomfortable by critically watching his every move, and looked towards the tissue box instead, seeing him sway out of the corner of my eye. His hand reached for it automatically, plucking out a tissue, but no tissue popped back up in its place. "ehhhhhhhhhh..." I looked over briefly, seeing his face screw up with some sort of pain. Obi-Wan pulled his legs up onto the couch with him, resting his forehead against his knees. His next breath out was shaky, but forced, as though the sneeze was hurting him by not simply striking as he wished it to. "ih-yihhhh..." Then, suddenly, he took in a sharp breath and his whole body tensed. "IHHHHShhhh!" He sneezed hard, rocking forward, his stocking feet coming up off the couch. He exhaled deeply, then blew his nose into the tissue, folded it, and blew again.


     Obi-Wan parted his legs, looking down at the table. "Ugh..." he sighed, rubbing the tissue against his nose. "Bgadeedboretissesss." The word, slurred from fatigue and heavy congestion, tumbled out of his mouth quickly. A moment later he drew another breath. "hehhYishhhh! ehhhKshhhhh!" His eyes opened with difficulty, and he looked down at the tissue box, as though a simple look could refill it. I could tell he had not the energy to move, let alone retrieve a new one. Cupping the used tissue over his nose, he looked over at me pleadingly. "I'b godda deed bore tissues."


     "Of course, Padawan," I said, getting up at once. I brought a fresh box from beneath the sink in the 'fresher, opening it on the way.


     I pulled a few tissues out and handed them over to Obi-Wan, who buried his nose in them. He blew hard, shaking his head and digging his nose deeper into them. Then he wiped his nose and tossed them away. "Thags," he sighed. He rubbed his finger against his nose with another sniff. There seemed to be no need to sneeze at the moment, but that didn't stop his nose from bothering him.


     "Think nothing of it," I replied softly. I was glad to help, of course. I wished I could do more, really. But at least he was learning to rely on me a little when he needed to. He did look much too tired to have made the trip for the tissues himself, and I was more than happy to have been of service to him.


     Still rubbing at his nose almost constantly, he pulled out another tissue and blew his nose hard a few times. He lowered his hand, scrunching up his nose and tilting his head to the side a little. Obi-Wan rubbed the back of his neck, then tilted it to the other side. He sniffed and groaned as the sniff seemed to cause the tickle in his nose to pop back up again. Tiredly, he went for another tissue. "hehh..." He brought it up to his face, waiting. "heh-EHShhhh! IhhShhh! IHKSHhhhhh!" He paused for a moment expectantly, nose still twitching. The expression on his face showed that he just wanted it to be over with. I couldn't blame him for that. My padawan looked absolutely exhausted. Then came the pre-sneeze breaths, soft and light at first but building into heavy gasps. "uhh... ihh... ehhh...Yyehhhh... EHhhhh-HEH-IHHShhhhh!" Immediately he blew his nose again, looking altogether too tired to do any more sneezing.


     Obi-Wan looked over at me, and I tried to look as though I had not been watching quite so closely. I was worried about him, and unable to ignore him in this condition. I wished very much he would let me help more.


     As though knowing my thoughts, he said, "You cad go back to your work if you deed to," he said, snuffling into yet another tissue. "I dod't deed you here."


     Frowning, but with no intention of leaving, I shook my head. "I've read enough briefings today to last me a week. I'll stay if it's all the same to you." Though I could tell my answer is disappointing, I could sense that it also came with a bit of relief to him. And he made no more attempts to push me away or persuade me to go.


     My guess is that he had not the energy to do so. Just keeping up with his runny nose was taking quite a bit of effort on his part. He rubbed at his upper back, wincing a little as he sniffed hard. Perhaps more than just a little.


     "Are you hurting?" I asked him, concernedly.


     He nodded, his head heavy. "Just by dose... all the congestiod. Add I'b so tired. By body aches." He sniffed hard again. I certainly believed that out of him. He hadn't had much sleep the night before, or this day, either. Despite my telling him he needed to sleep as frequently as I could work it in, he had only sat on the couch and tried to read to no avail, or had walked from room to room, trying to occupy himself with anything he could think to do. He'd taken several showers, changed into pajamas, tried one of his assignments, and listened to communications waiting for him. The coughing and sneezing went on steadily all the while. He was bound to be tired out by now. And the congestion had just grown worse. He had abandoned all pursuits by now.


     "ihh-HEHShhhh! ehhh-Chhhhh!" He sniffed hard and went for the tissues again, the blanket having fallen down to his lap as he snapped forward and brought his hand to his face. He sniffled wetly as he fought with a tissue the box wanted to keep. Then he blew his nose a few times and closed his eyes with a soft groan. Obi-Wan's head fell to the side, as though too heavy for his neck to hold it.


     "Perhaps you should lie down and try again to sleep," I suggested softly.


     Bobbing his head up and down for a nod, he leaned more into the arm of the couch, trying to use it to sleep against. But he squirmed and scooted around without stop, unable to find a comfortable position now that he was trying to find one. He sighed, frustrated. His hand pushed on the arm of the couch, as though willing it to give a little into a better position.


     "Come here," I said, holding my arm out along the back of the couch and patting my thigh. "Stretch out on the couch here." He stared back, eyeing my leg. "I'm warm," I explained. "And I will not catch this bug from you."           


     He looked hesitant for a moment more, then leaned towards me in agreement. He scooted up the couch a little, straining as the blanket was trapped under one knee. He grunted, pulling at it while trying to balance on all fours on the couch cushions and move forward at the same time. He was getting nowhere.


     I put a hand on his shoulder, steadying him, guiding him against the back of the couch. Then I pulled the blanket out from beneath him. He gave me a grateful smile and crawled to me, curling onto his side with his head on my thigh. I draped the blanket over him and tucked it around, giving him a soft smile. He smiled back and closed his eyes as my hand rested on his arm through the blanket. But he did not stay still. He fidgeted, then immediately felt the need to sneeze again.


     Sensing it building within him almost as soon as he did, I waved a hand and summoned the tissue box over using the force. I pulled several tissues out and handed them to him. His head bobbed back and forth with each building breath. "hehh... ihhh... ihehhh... yehhhh..." As the sneeze worked its way out, he propped himself up on one elbow, his head leaving my leg to give himself more room when the sneeze actually struck. "ehhhh... yihhhh..." Then his hand tightened around the tissues, pressing them to his nose and pulling away from me just a little more. "IHHTShhh! ihhYeshhhhhh! KChuhhhh!" He collapsed back down with a groan and let his arm go loose, holding the half-used tissues. He sniffed hard and coughed from the intense congestion.


     His head was back down upon my thigh, but not for long. He fidgeted again, not able to get comfortable here, either. First the blanket wasn't covering him enough, and then he couldn't get himself in the right position. "Your leg..." he grunted, scooting about on his side, moving his head this angle and that. "Too hard... too high. Ugh." He sighed in frustration. Obi-Wan turned onto his back, finding his head lay on my leg at an even stranger angle that way. He turned back onto his side, but either his shoulders were too broad or he couldn't get his arm in the right place or my leg really was too high or low. Annoyed and ready to give up, he propped himself up again and looked up at me, about to explain. But, slowly, closed his mouth, unable to say the thoughts that first came to his mind.


     Obi-Wan's eyes met mine for a few moments, and then he sniffed again. His tone changed, his frustration gone, and weakness back. "I'b sorry. I just cad't get cobfortable right dow. I do abbreciate it, really. All your care. It... it is deeded." He sniffed hard several times, turning away to give his nose another hard rub. Then he looked back at me, eyes wide with hurt. "I feel awful, add I cad't get byself to feel ady better."


     I reached over, my hand patting the top of his head, then running down. My hand cupped the back of his neck, giving it a bit of a rub. He let out a startled, pleased breath at the touch. His eyes closed, and his head bowed forward to give me better access to the back of his neck. I rubbed more. And when I was done with the neck, I moved on to his shoulders. He raised and lowered them as I massaged, finally letting his body go slack, relaxing at my touch.


      "Come here, then," I whispered, guiding him closer. I pulled him to my chest, and let him lounge upon me, using my chest as a pillow. He snuggled close, finding comfort at last, cradled against me with my arm around him. I readjusted the blanket, covering him with it again. "There," I said softly. "Is that any better or should we try another position?"


     "Better," he said with a sigh. He gave a single nod, cut short from a strong yawn. He did not fidget, did not budge. "Oh buch better... thags." Obi-Wan draped his arm over my waist with a squeeze of a hug. That felt better to me than his apology just moments before.


     "Good," I replied, hoping my deep, calm voice soothed him. To back it up, I gently petted his head, with soft, tender strokes. His eyes slowly closed and he drifted off to sleep surprisingly quickly. I did not move for hours, occupying myself instead with datapads. I kept my correspondences to written or audio only, so no one would see how sick the snuggling Obi-Wan was. He slept soundly for hours, and when he finally woke up, the wave of relief that passed through his bond when he realized he was warm and still lying against me was intense. I sent him back a wave of comforting energy, and before I could ask if he wanted something to drink or needed to blow his nose, he snuggled closer and fell back to sleep.


     I tightened my arm around his shoulders in a hug and prepared myself to stay for as long as he wanted me there. If I didn't seem to be helping much while he was awake, he seemed to be most grateful for my help while he was asleep.





(roughly 5 years later)


     I was sitting on the couch reading before I turned in for the night, when Obi-Wan emerged from our bedroom with a blanket in hand. He looked quite distraught about something. "What's wrong?" I asked, directing a deep yawn into my fist. I set the book down on the couch arm and looked over at him.


     "I'm sorry about being a little short with you before," he said softly. "And I think you're right. I think maybe I am coming down with something." He gave his nose a rub with the side of his hand. "Could I cuddle with you on the couch for a little bit before bed?"


     I smiled and patted my lap in welcome. "Of course, Obi."


     He headed over, walking slower than usual. He sat down on the couch, pulling his legs up, and then curling up, with his head on my thigh and his hand beside it. I draped the blanket over him, tucking it around him tightly until he gave me a smile to signal he was warm enough. Then I reached down and stroked his hair, pulling his padawan braid out of the way in case he needed to sneeze or cough. "Do you remember the time when this wasn't comfortable to you?" I asked softly, my strokes soft and gentle, trying to soothe him.


     He smiled and nodded, rubbing his cheek against my legging-clad thigh. "Don't know what I was thinking- oh... ahhh..."


     Quickly I withdrew my handkerchief and pressed it to his face. His hands covered mine, holding it and me in place. "hah-IHHShhh! Uh... Sniff!"


     I slid my hands out, leaving him to hold the handkerchief as he blew his nose into it. "Bless you," I whispered, brushing my fingers against his forehead and top of his head as he blew his nose.


     "Sniff! Thanks. Sniff! Yes, I am definitely coming down with something." He coughed and closed his eyes, and I put my arm against his side and back, rubbing his side where my hand fell. "I think I needed to grow a couple more inches," he said suddenly.


     "What's that?" I didn't quite follow his train of thought, but I was understandably slightly distracted by the desire to cuddle him closer.


     "I needed to grow a little before it was comfortable to sleep like this," he clarified. "Because now it is."


     His height certainly wasn't the only thing that changed over the years, but whatever the reason, I was glad he was comfortable now. "Get some sleep," I whispered, petting his head with my other hand. Then I picked up my book up again to find where I left off.


     "Would you read out loud a little to me?" he asked, closing his eyes. "Please?"


     "Of course, Padawan. As long as you promise not to stay awake just to listen to me." I looked down at him, smiling suspiciously. He opened one eye and looked up, grinning. I knew most likely he would stay awake a while to listen, but I didn't mind so long as he fell asleep in the end.


     We didn't have anything scheduled for the day after anyway, and today we had been somewhat separated. He had snapped at me while we were sparring. I had been trying to explain that having total control meant not allowing for momentary influences from the force. He needed to learn to control himself while staying open to the ebbs and flows of the living force. But I had known then, as I had all day, that he was coming down sick. His moods while sick were hardly what they once were, but whenever he got a bit cranky I knew a cold was not far behind.


     With a deep breath I skimmed the page to find where I had left off, and began at the top of the paragraph. He was asleep before I reached the bottom of it.