Title: Delicate Games

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Star Wars (between eps I & II)

Rating: G

Pairing: Qui/Obi-implied very weakly

Disclaimer: I don't own the boys in any way. This is just for fun.

Summary: Anakin is still sick and he and Obi-Wan are still learning to deal with each other

Notes: This fic was inspired/brought to you by Zuma, http://zone.msn.com/en/zuma/, my current online game obsession :-)



Delicate Games


     Curled up in warmth, he was snuggled on the couch amidst mounds of soft blankets and softer pillows. The controller was clutched tightly in his hands, his eyes fixed upon it unblinkingly. He leaned slightly to one side, tilting the controller, then quickly to the other. He rocked in place in excitement, biting his lip, his fingers flying back and forth against the controls.


     "Padawan, are you still playing that game?" came a deep voice as the door to their quarters slid open and closed. From the sight that awaited him on the couch and the sounds of zooming ships and explosions, he felt it was silly to have asked. "I thought you promised to do some of your missed work this afternoon."


     The boy shook his head, his eyes not leaving the game controller. Just 2,000 points and he would make it to the next level. "This is... mental exercise of a kind, too, Master," he said. "Besides, I tried to do some of my report and still felt too sick to do it. YES!" All interest in the conversation was lost, as he continued to play the game, advancing 750 points as his virtual ship rounded the tight corner without scuffing the boundary once.


     Feeling that he never should have bought his padawan the game, he rounded the couch and reached down, placing the back of his hand against the boy's forehead. His padawan squirmed free of the touch and his hand left one side of the controller to push it away. "Awww no!" The move cost him valuable seconds of maneuvering, however, and he was only able to catch his ship before it had a head-on collision with the ship in front of him.


     Feeling both annoyed and a bit angry at the disrespect, a stern throat clearing failed to win the boy's attention as well, and that was the last straw. With a strong wave of his hand to control the force, the game slid from the eager fingers and across their common area to the far wall and the floor in front of it.


     "Aww, Master!" he complained, sounding angry himself. "I had topped my highest score. I was about to reach the final level!"


     "Anakin Skywalker!" Obi-Wan's voice shot sternly, topping his padawan's strength of tone with ease, capturing the boy's attention.  "When I wish to speak with you, I would appreciate your full and undivided attention. I believe I deserve that much, as your master." Anakin sighed and turned halfway around, looking up at Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan nodded at him. "I will overlook your comments towards me just now as I realize you are feeling sick. But please show a bit more respect next time." Anakin nodded, scowling a bit but trying to be obedient.


     Obi-Wan walked around the couch again, sitting down beside Anakin. "You look quite a lot better," he observed. "More color in your cheeks, your fever's down, voice sounds clear. You should be well enough to attend your classes tomorrow."


     Anakin sniffed hard, his nose a little stuffy. "I'm not sure about that. I don't feel feverish any more, but I'm still pretty sneezy. And I wouldn't want to give anyone my cold." There was a brief pause, where Anakin dramatically raised his hand and turned away. His eyes narrowed, then closed. His breath grew heavy and fast. "hah-AHHShooo! Sniff! See, Master?"


     Suspecting that his padawan had used his Jedi powers to invoke the sneeze, but unable to prove it as both their shields were up, Obi-Wan sighed. "All right. I will not push you to return to your duties until you are well enough. But I would like to see you get some of your assignments done for the temple classes you are missing."


     "They're just classes," he muttered. "I've got top grades anyway. I don't see why I need to study so much. What I really need is more saber training."


     Obi-Wan could not deny that his padawan did indeed need that, but all things in moderation, and there was much the classes could teach that he would need when faced with difficult decisions and difficult circumstances on missions. "We'll concentrate on more training when you start feeling better, and not before," Obi-Wan said. "And while we're on the subject of things you should do, I would like you to write a formal letter of apology to the masters of the crèche for skipping out on your service time there a few days ago, leaving me to make your excuses for you."


     "But I was sick," Anakin whined lightly.


     "I know you were," said Obi-Wan, nodding. He remembered his padawan lying shivering and coughing on the sofa when he walked in after his lunch with Bail. Anakin had been sniffly and sneezy for days on end, allowing Obi-Wan to try to help but only time seemed to have really helped the situation at all. Obi-Wan, who had had little sleep over the course of his padawan's illness, had been trying to stay awake in the middle of the night two nights past when Anakin's fever finally broke. The boy had slept nearly the whole rest of the day yesterday and almost straight through the night. "But it was your responsibility to tell them you would not be able to help, not mine."


     Anakin huffed and made a face. "Don't understand why I need to do my service time there, anyway. Just a bunch of dirty diapers and lots of crying."


     "Every padawan must complete a number of service hours outside missions," Obi-Wan said, for perhaps the twentieth time. "It helps you learn to rely on your fellow Jedi in times of need. It helps the masters know that things are being taken care of properly, and helps you to understand that the importance of helping others starts in your home and your heart, not on a mission on some distant planet. You must look after others as they look after you." Obi-Wan took a deep breath. He had perfected this speech after the second or third run-through, but decided Anakin only deserved the short version, on account of his feeling sick.


     "But I was never even in the crèche. Wouldn't it make more sense for me to do my service elsewhere?" A look of excitement flashed on his face. "I could wash and wax all the ships in the docking bay, for example!"


     Obi-Wan coughed and closed his eyes, shaking his head. "Your assignment to the crèche was not an arbitrary one, my young padawan. You will remain there until you have learned what you were meant to learn from it. And, as such, you owe them a written apology for your sudden absence." Anakin made another face. "Be glad I am not making you apologize in person." Anakin sighed deeply.


     Obi-Wan reached over and rubbed the top of Anakin's head. Anakin liked his padawan haircut longer than most, but it was still soft against Obi-Wan's hand. It reminded him of the first haircut Anakin had ever received the second time he arrived at the temple. He had been so young and seemed so innocent then. Everything had been so new to him. Obi-Wan wondered what ever happened to that boy.


     "But, Master," Anakin said, rubbing a single finger under his nose. "I feel sick. I couldn't possibly do any work right now." He made a point out of drawing a quick, deep breath "hah!" He cupped both hands around his nose and mouth. "heh-AHShooo! Ahshooo! Huh-Chooo!" He sniffed hard and put on a bit of a pout, with tired eyes and a sad look.


     Obi-Wan sighed at the spectacle he had no choice but to believe. Anakin, hugging the blankets around him, leaned to the side, putting his head in Obi-Wan's lap. Anakin knew his master's weaknesses very well, and knew Obi-Wan would not possibly refuse him like this. Obi-Wan's hand instinctively began petting Anakin's head, in soft, gentle strokes. "Oh, Padawan," he sighed, shaking his own head. He recalled fondly the number of times Qui-Gon had done this with him. Qui-Gon had always been so comforting, so caring when Obi-Wan was sick. Obi-Wan only wished he could be the same to his padawan. "Of course I will not make you work if you are truly not feeling well."


     Sure his master could not see his face, Anakin smiled slightly.


     Bending forward, Obi-Wan gave Anakin's head a gentle kiss. Then he slid out from beneath, pushing two pillows in his place for Anakin to lie upon. "Feel better then, Ani," he whispered, with one final pet on the head.


     As he turned to go to his room and leave his padawan in peace on the couch, he sensed movement, and then use of the force. With a grin and a headshake, Obi-Wan whirled around fluidly, holding up his hand. The game controller, which had been zooming straight towards Anakin, veered right and landed in Obi-Wan's hand instead.


     "Awww... Master," Anakin said, looking up with the same sort of pout. "It makes me feel better."


     "Mmm," Obi-Wan said, raising an eyebrow and keeping a tight hold on the game. "I've no doubt. But if you are feeling too sick to write a letter and do your assignments, you should not be squinting and wasting energy on a game. Either do your assignments or sleep. Those are your choices." He gave his padawan a sweet, slight smile, then turned and headed off to his room, keeping the door open just in case Anakin decided to try anything else.


     He could see the couch from his desk, as he sat behind it. He watched Anakin give his pillow a frustrated punch, then watched him lie back down on the couch with a huffy sort of sigh, pulling the blankets around himself and looking utterly miserable, not from his cold but from boredom.


     Obi-Wan could not help but smile a bit at this. He could not get a good reading of his padawan, as they kept their shields up so as to help Anakin contain his illness, but he was fairly certain every one of the sneezes he had just witness had been induced in an attempt to gain sympathy and keep from working. Whatever the reason, however, Obi-Wan felt his padawan must have a reason for doing so, for Anakin was known for having good reasons for the things he did. When he missed an entire day of classes, it was discovered that the boy had been at the hanger the whole day, researching the various ships. When he skipped out on his escort duties one day when delegates from Wattalari were visiting, it turned out he was reprogramming the computer in the planetarium to allow for a more interactive quality and had simply lost track of time.


     Obi-Wan coughed to clear his throat and shook his head. He wasn't sure what to do with his padawan. Anakin needed to be mindful of the rules, and his place in the temple. Obi-Wan felt that whatever Qui-Gon or the council had told the boy about being the chosen one to bring balance to the fore had gone to his head. He had great skill and control of the force, but that did not mean he was a Jedi. Not yet. Which meant he was still required to go through all the steps and complete all the training, whether he could think of things he wanted to do better or not.


     Truly, Obi-Wan might have suspected that the head cold had been faked completely, if not for two things. First, was that even Anakin would not induce such a high and dangerous fever just to skip out on work. And second, was that Obi-Wan felt he was coming down with it, himself.


     It had been inevitable, really, after all the time he had spent with Anakin over the last few days. He had gone without meals to sit by the boy's side, and gone without sleep to watch over him. He forced tea and tissues when Anakin was awake, and pressed a cool cloth to his head when he was feverishly asleep. His own work now sat, piling up and neglected, and he feared it might be longer than he wanted before he could catch up.


     There was movement in the other room, and Anakin rose from the desk, a blanket wrapped around his shoulders and hugged to his chest. It trailed on the floor behind him as he walked over to Obi-Wan's room. "Master?" he said softly. "I think I'll like to do some of my assignments now."


     Obi-Wan smiled approvingly. "All right, Padawan. They are in the datapad on the desk in your room. You may work there or out on the sofa if you prefer."


     "I was thinking..." he said quietly. "Could I sit out on the balcony while I do them? I think I would like the fresh air, and it's not at all cold out." Obi-Wan hesitated. In addition to fresh air, sitting outside allowed him to watch and be distracted by the passing starships. Several times when they were supposed to be meditating outside, he had caught Anakin watching them instead. "All right," Obi-Wan said with a sigh. "But come in at once if you feel the least bit chilled. It will be growing dark soon and the evenings are getting colder."


     Anakin's face lit up with happiness. "Yes, Master. Thank you!" He rushed into his room to get his datapad and headed straight for the balcony, sliding the glass door shut behind him.


     Obi-Wan sighed. Anakin would get very little done outside, he was certain. And he felt guilty for approving the request. In truth, he was starting to feel worse and did not want his padawan around to witness him sniffling and sneezing and shivering in a most unbecoming way. This way, Anakin would be less annoyed at him, and be away for several hours at the least. Obi-Wan had not had much time to himself over the days, and was very glad for it now. He left his desk, and the work upon it, and collapsed onto his bed with a few coughs.


     He pulled at his own blanket, trying to get it around himself. "Mmph." But there wasn't enough material on one side to wrap around him completely. He rolled over onto his side to accommodate it, and snuggled up into his pillow. He knew well that he should change out of his uniform first, as sleeping in it would wrinkle it beyond belief and reveal his condition to his particularly perceptive padawan. But Obi-Wan simply could not gather the strength to get back up and change now that he was down. He pulled the blanket tighter and closed his eyes.


     But though he finally had hours to himself, he did not sleep. Rather, he could not sleep. His head started to feel fuzzy, and the blanket was too hot. In fact, so were his clothes. He managed to undress halfway before he got cold again, shivering terribly and wrapping back up in the blanket.


     Then he stacked his pillow on top of Qui-Gon's old one, which he hadn't had the heart to get rid of, even when they moved quarters. The move had been good for Obi-Wan, in the end. But it had all the same furniture in all the same places. This one just had a bigger room for his padawan and a balcony. Both of which made Anakin very happy. His head started to ache, when it was elevated more, but his nose was stuffed and the congestion coming on made him cough when he was more horizontal.


     In the end, he kept the pillows stacked and pushed away the blanket, lying spread-eagle on his back to cool himself off. The heat flash lasted only a short while. Long enough, in fact, for him to sneeze thrice "ihhhShhhh! ihhhShuhhh! hihKShhhhh!" and sit up, coughing. He got up, retrieving a new box of tissues from the 'fresher and taking a long drink of water while at the sink there. Shivering, he returned to his bed, kicking off his shoes and burrowing beneath all his blankets along with the tissue box.


     He curled up on his side, hoping to get just a little bit of sleep, but his nose was really starting to bother him now. It had been feeling stuffed all morning and early afternoon, but now it felt runny as well. This meant much more blowing and rubbing at it, though the sneezes weren't very frequent yet.


     Obi-Wan tried to figure out his temperature, based on what he'd observed in Anakin a few days back. But all he was sure about was that he did indeed have a fever, and it probably was not too high quite yet.


     "hehSHHHH! ihhKshhhh!" Sneezes, on the other hand, were easier to identify. Every time he tried to close his eyes to sleep, his nose tickled or ran, or his throat itched. The covers went on and off frequently, though they were mostly on, and he was mostly sniffling and shivering and curled in a ball to keep himself warm. He stopped bothering with blowing his nose in favor of just sniffling. But even the lack of movement did not help him sleep.


     After nearly an hour of this, he got up and went to the refresher for a shower. The shower helped immensely, and he stayed in much longer than normal. He emerged looking better and feeling much better. He changed into a clean, loose-fitting tunic and clean pants, feeling altogether clean and healthier. He still gave his hands a good scrub before starting on dinner, however.


     Anakin came in from the balcony just as he was setting dinner on the table for them. Anakin entertained him with a tale from the culture class he had been reading notes for. Obi-Wan had learned the same one when he was a padawan, but was more than happy to let Anakin go on about it. He had taken small portions of food, but hadn't eaten much. He did, however, drink three or four glasses of water to help quiet his need to cough throughout. In all, he managed dinner with just a few coughs, a few sniffles, and a single sneeze which he stifled against his shoulder. Anakin sneezed a few times as well, pushing back from the table once and turning away so Obi-Wan would not have to witness the sneezes. However, he was looking and sounding much better.


     When dinner was over, Anakin offered to wash the dishes and clean up, for which Obi-Wan was more than obliged to him. "I think I'll turn in early, then," he said, trying to put it casually. But he already felt another sneeze and wanted to escape as soon as possible. He gave a soft, careful sniffle to test, and the urge flared up in his nose with twice the intensity. He wished desperately that he hadn't done that.


     "Master, are you all right?" Anakin asked, watching Obi-Wan drain his fourth glass of water and leave the table, food still on his plate. He never left food on his plate.


     Obi-Wan turned away and gave his nose a firm rub. Then he turned back and nodded. "My eyes were bigger than my stomach," he said, smiling. "I'm simply very tired. I haven't had much sleep lately." He nodded towards Anakin, who understood well why his master had not been sleeping. "Goodnight, Ani."


     He turned and headed for his room quickly, sniffling and rubbing his nose. A sneeze was desperate to get out, and he was trying his best to make sure it didn't. He made it across the common area and had a hand on his door, when it finally escaped. "hehCHTTT!" Obi-Wan had tried to hold it back, but only succeeded halfway. He sniffed hard and pushed on his door to open it, hoping to make a clean getaway. Then he could work on strengthening the force shielding his room to dampen sound. With luck, Anakin need never know he was feeling sick tonight.


     "Master?" Anakin called, making Obi-Wan freeze in place. Hunched forward, and with a deep sigh, Obi-Wan turned back, waiting for what he knew would come. "I did not want to say anything during dinner. But you look... I mean are you... I mean... did you catch my cold after all?"


     He was not annoyed at his padawan for noticing, but things would have been much easier had Anakin not. Obi-Wan took in a deep breath, letting it out slowly. Then he nodded. "I believe I did. I am feeling quite unwell. I apologize for my hasty retreat." He ran a hand across his forehead. He was sweating terribly. He wondered if the chill going through him now was from fever or from admitting this to Anakin. Before he could make a decision, another sneeze struck hard. He cupped his hand to his face, bending in half in preparation. His arm was out straight, palm flat against the side of his open doorway. He needed the support, he soon found. "hehSHhhhh! ihhhSHHH! huh... huh-IHHHHSHhhhhhh!" He groaned and fell back against the other side of the doorway, pushing it open further with his shoulder. He raised a hand and summoned the tissue box over. He pulled out a few and rubbed at his nose.


     Realizing his padawan was watching him through the whole display, he blushed slightly, though there was already a flush in his cheeks from fever. "I am sorry, Padawan. But I do not believe I'll be able to teach you much for the next few days." He had hoped very much that he would have been well enough to at least make the attempt. But with the way he was feeling at the moment, he realized he should really have known better. Perhaps his padawan had been playing up his suffering and using illness to his advantage, but ignoring it and lying to his padawan had been just as bad. He needed to face the fact that, even as a Jedi Master, he was not only just as susceptible to catching terrible colds, but also prone to making mistakes. The reports could wait, but he would need Anakin taken care of.


     Obi-Wan sighed, rubbing the aching part of his forehead. "While I am sick, I'll arrange for one of the other masters to work with you in saber training, and I'll have the instructors check on your attendance and work." He paused to cough harshly into the handful of tissues. Then he lifted his head and looked Anakin straight in the eyes. "But if you attend classes, do your work and serve at the crèche for these next few days, I will find no fault in you running off to the flight simulator or to talk with the pilots in the hanger in your free time. Do you understand?"


     Anakin's face brightened considerably. "Yes, Master. Thank you very much, Master!"


     Obi-Wan coughed again and rubbed at his nose. It was running again, which was what was making his throat itch. He nodded heavily and added, "But I do still want to see that apology to the crèche masters when you write it."


     Anakin nodded. "Yes, Master."


     Obi-Wan nodded back, his nods from before had just stopped before more started up again. Nodding made him feel like he was actually participating in the conversation. When, really, he was already rather fuzzy about what he had said. All he wanted to do was to lie back down in bed now and try again to sleep. Remembered how rough Anakin's first night sick had been, and was not looking forward to a similar one.


     "Master?" Anakin called again.


     Several steps into the room, Obi-Wan found he had not the energy to turn back around. He froze in place at the sound of his name, and then nodded. "Yes, Padawan?" he asked, his voice tired and soft. He was not in the mood to argue about Anakin's service hours, or his need for classes. He was not in the right mind to grant permission to use the comm unit after normal hours. He did not want to hear anything that would equate to Anakin taking advantage of Obi-Wan's weakened state.


     "Would you like me to bring you a cup of tea and honey?"


     Surprised, Obi-Wan stayed frozen as the words registered. He was feeling chilled and shivery. And his nose and throat could well use the steam. His head bobbed up and down. "I would like that very much, Padawan." He looked over his shoulder with a smile. "Thank you."


     Anakin smiled and turned, going straight for the cupboard. Obi-Wan resumed walking and reached his bed after what seemed like hours. The covers seemed too heavy to lift, so he crawled under from the side and readjusted them as best he could. Then he rested his head on top of the pillows and hugged the tissue box to his stomach as he blew his nose one-handed. No matter how much he blew it, it never seemed to clear to his satisfaction.


     Anakin came in with the tea not long thereafter, not taking any care not to spill it and not bringing a saucer with the teacup. Obi-Wan was simply relieved to see the tea and sat up to take a drink. It was hot and soothing, and reminded him Qui-Gon, who always considered tea to be the best medicine. Obi-Wan felt remember Qui was much more soothing, however. He nodded his appreciation to Anakin.


     "I'm sorry you're sick," he said softly. "I did try to keep my shields raised." He had, indeed, but there had been times when the fever took over that such things were out of his control.


     "I'll be all right," Obi-Wan reassured him with a weak smile. As Anakin walked out, Obi-Wan called out. "Padawan?" Obi-Wan coughed and took another sip of tea. "Take your game," Obi-Wan said, nodding to where it sat on his desk. "But I'd better not hear you playing it until after you've shown me that apology letter."


     Anakin smiled and snatched it up eagerly. "Thank you, Master." He hesitated for a moment, rocking in place at the desk. He saw the work piling up on one side of his master's desk and felt a pang of guilt at it, and at how sick his master looked. "Do you need me to do anything else for you?"


     He considered it for a moment. There were a half dozen things he wanted. But right now, rest and tea were at the top of his list. Obi-Wan sighed and shook his head. "Simply wake me in the morning to tell me if you're going to class or if you still feel sick and are staying home. That way I can make the arrangements for you."


     Anakin looked down at his hands and nodded. "I think I will probably be well enough by the morning. But would it be improper to skip my classes and work in order to take care of my sick master and catch up on my own assignments and our shared mission reports?"


     Feeling relief flow through him, Obi-Wan shook his head. Anakin was much more thoughtful than he gave the boy credit for. "No, I do not think that would be improper in the least. In fact, I would appreciate the company. Thank... thank you." He secured the tea as he reached for another tissue to sneeze into. "ihhhHUHShhh! ihhhChhhh!" He snuffled into it, not wanting to blow his nose in front of Anakin. But he did wipe his nose, making sure his moustache was clean as well. After taking another sip of tea, he smiled up at Anakin. "Goodnight, Padawan."


     "Goodnight, Master," Anakin replied, closing the door all but a crack on his way out.