Title: Awkward Silence

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Star Wars

Rating: PG13

Parings: Qui-Gon/random woman

Disclaimer: Contrary to what you might think, I didn't come up with the Star Wars universe or its characters, George Lucas did, even if he's still a little fuzzy on some of the details. But as such, I get no money from this, only innocent enjoyment.

Summary: A responsible Obi-Wan catches cold for the first time as Qui-Gon's Padawan. But they both have things they dread having to talk to the other about.



Awkward Silence


     Obi-Wan trudged home slowly, packet of herbs and a bottle of horrible-tasting medicine in a bag dangling from his hand. His head felt as though it were on fire, and he moved much slower than usual, which is why Master Tau-Lin had allowed him to leave early and visit the healing dome in the middle of training. Well, that and the frequent sneezes. "hah-IHHShhhhh! hehKESHhhhhhhhh!”" Obi-Wan snuck the handkerchief the healers had given him out of his pocket and rubbed his nose roughly, one-handed.


     It seemed to take forever to reach his quarters, but a sense of warm relief spread through him when he finally did. He envisioned a long nap and being told not to bother with his work at all until he felt better, though he was most certain that part of it wouldn't come true. Every time he could remember being ill in the crèche, he had been forced to do work at the same time. The lesson to be taught was that important things could not simply be put on hold when one did not feel like doing them. Luckily, Jedi did not get ill often, and he had survived years as a Padawan Apprentice without coming down with a sniffle.


     But now that he had one, he decided that this time he would be responsible about it and do just as a proper Jedi would. While he would work hard to get his assignments finished, he would need to remind himself to take it easy, perhaps even take a nap before starting on his work this evening. Thoughts filled his head, thoughts of warm blankets, gentle caresses from Master, and cups of tea to dull the pain. But when he opened the door it wasn't at all the soft, comforting picture he had envisioned.


     He had expected Qui-Gon to look after him while he wasn't feeling well as others had done before, when he was taken ill. But he also expected a rather long lecture about healing trances and eating healthy and using the force to refrain from catching such simple ailments in the first place, just as he had received before during each of his illnesses. But he was an older, wiser Padawan now. One who was perfectly capable of taking care of himself and looking after his mistakes. And if he caught ill at all, he deserved every scolding word but was intent on both doing his duty and healing himself at the same time. However, even a stern lecture was not what he received upon entering.


     Qui-Gon was naked, though this was nothing too shocking to Obi-Wan. It was hardly possible to share quarters with someone and never see them naked. But what Obi-Wan was not used to seeing was precisely what Qui-Gon was doing while naked. His master was atop the table, hovering over and equally naked dirty blonde woman, mouth around one nipple. They were frozen in mid-action, both pairs of eyes looking over at him in shock. Qui-Gon exhaled heavily, puffing up the long hair which had fell into his face so he could regard Obi-Wan more clearly. Clearly they had assumed he would still be at classes at this time of day.


     Obi-Wan froze for a moment, taking in the scene. Then he spun on his toes and headed for his own room. No words exchanged. No apologies from either man. Obi-Wan shut the door to his room, leaning back against it as another sneeze burned in his nose. "huh-huh­CHIHshhhhhh! IHHHSchhhh!" The handkerchief would only satisfy him for so long before it grew too damp that it became useless. There were tissues in the 'fresher under the sink, but he didn't dare leave his room again to retrieve them. Nor did he feel much like a cup of tea, any more. So he sat on his sleep couch, putting the herbs aside for when he could use the kitchenette without disturbing a sexual encounter. He poured a medicine cup full, glad that the cup came with the cap, and downed it in one gulp. The medicine was revolting, and he choked after swallowing, desperately needing water. But that, too, was in the 'fresher, or the kitchen, and either way would mean going back out there to bear witness to another of his Master's flings.


     So he used the force to repress his need to cough, his throat calming, the rest of his body relaxing. He was barely able to pull the blankets up as far as his shoulders before he fell into a sound sleep.


*                      *                      *


     He woke much later, dazed with fever this time. His head throbbed, and even emptying his nose several times into the handkerchief did not help it any. "heh...hehhhhh..." and to top it off, he felt sneezey again. He's spent the morning in classes, stifling sneezes into the crook of his arm, and it looked like, now that he was back home, he would be doing the same thing. He rubbed the side of his hand back and forth beneath his nose, sniffling wetly, but the urge to sneeze stayed in full. With a sigh, he buried his nose in his robes. "hehAH-KESHShhhhhh! hahEHHShhhh! HIHTchhhhh!"


     Sniffling was very unbecoming of a Jedi, even for a sick Jedi alone in his own room. It was clear he needed to find a better solution than a useless handkerchief or his sleeve. In fact, he was shocked he was still dressed at all. It wasn't like him to sleep in his clothes unless they were on a mission and there was no other choice. Feeling he could at least control that, he pulled off each layer of clothes and tugged on his sleep pants and a nightshirt. But the shirt seemed tighter and heavier than usual, and he pulled it off again, tossing it onto the floor with the rest of his discarded clothes. This, too, was unbecoming of a Jedi. Still sniffling, feeling exhausted, and as though he wanted nothing but to crawl back beneath the blankets, he sat down on the floor and gathered up the clothes. He intended to toss them all into the hamper, but then remembered the clothes hamper was in the bathroom.


     With a frustrated sigh, he realized he could avoid it no longer. After sensing that no one was out in the common area, and listening to be doubly sure, he opened the door to his room and headed over to the 'fresher. Luckily, it was empty as well. He put his dirty things aside and ran the water at once, lapping it up in handfuls, the coolness trickling delightfully down his throat. Then he sat down on the toilet seat, pulling the box of tissues with him. He went through nearly twenty before the need to sniffle left. Though he still couldn't breathe through his nose like normal, the pressure in his head did seem a little lessened.


     On his way back to his room, tissue box in hand, he checked his master's room. Qui-Gon was not there, either. Perhaps he was taking dinner out tonight, or perhaps he had not wanted to wake Obi-Wan, or perhaps they had moved their round of love-making to the woman's quarters instead. Whatever the reason, Obi-Wan was glad for a bit of privacy. He made a cup of tea, leaning on the counter and nearly falling asleep where he stood as he waited for it to be ready. And though he did not like eating or drinking in his room as spills and crumbs in bed were, too, inappropriate for a Jedi, he badly needed the comfort of his own sleep couch.


     Obi-Wan snuggled beneath his blankets, sipping his tea slowly so as to savor the way it coated his throat. He wished he'd asked the healers what herbs they were, because they were wonderful. In fact, when he was finished with his first cup, he went back for a second. Meanwhile, he worked on assignments and reports. When those were completed, he reorganized his list of correspondences and put together a detailed schedule for the rest of the month. He wanted everything done and squared away so that he could go to sleep tonight and be able to sleep through the night without waking up and feeling guilty about his work. The last bit of his tea was cold by the time he finished everything he could think to do. So he put the glass aside.


     "hehhIHHHShuhhh!" Obi-Wan reached for a tissue, pulling the box to his lap. He needed to sneeze more, and his nose was running again. "hahEHKshhhhh! HETShhhhhh!" Obi-Wan blew his nose as many times as he needed, then relaxed back against his pillow with a sigh. It hardly seemed logical but he felt even more miserable now than he had earlier that day before the medicine, tea, and nap. He felt as though he had to control it all now, with Master nowhere around to look after him. He had to constantly remind himself to blow his nose whenever he felt the urge to sniffle. He had to remember not to drink too much tea. He had to remember to get his work done so that he could sleep. And he had to remember how long it had been between dozes of medicine and when the next was due.


     Obi-Wan picked up the bottle, realizing that he was indeed due for more. The second cupful was much worse than the first, in part because he already knew how dreadful it tasted. As he swallowed and pulled a face, he heard the door to their quarters slide open again. He sensed his mater's presence. The medicine was already snaking through him, making it hard for him to keep his eyelids up, let alone any other part of his body. He managed to raise a heavy hand and use the force to will the door to his room closed. Obi-Wan could feel his master through the force, trying to sense him, but Obi-Wan raised his shields and did not let Qui-Gon penetrate. He knew it was rude, he knew Qui-Gon invariably needed to speak with him, but he also knew the swiftness with which this medicine worked. In mere seconds he was asleep again.


*                      *                      *


     Obi-Wan woke very early the next morning, switching off his alarm at least an hour before it was scheduled to go off. He sensed that Qui-Gon, who was normally a very early riser, was not even awake yet. He was quite glad of this fact, for he desperately needed to sneeze, and did not want to bother Qui-Gon with them. "hah...heh-ehh-KEHShahhhh! Huh-CHUHshhhhhhh! hehEEHshhhhh!" Just awoken and already exhausted, Obi-Wan pulled himself up, taking a blanket with him to make another cup of tea. This time, he felt so tired that he was forced to sit down at the table as he waited from the water to boil. He wished very much that he'd brought tissues along with him, for his nose was giving him much more trouble this morning.


     The annoyingness of his sniffles was starting to get to him. He sounded like he had as a small boy with the sniffles. He remembered some of the Jedi Masters giving him stern looks every time he sniffed, or worse yet, forcing handkerchief on him and holding them at his nose until he blew into them. Frustrated, he grabbed a napkin from the table and buried his nose in it, letting the sneezes come as they would. "heh-AHKTchhhhhh! huhEHHkshhhhh! IHHHShhhhhh! EH-SHUHH!" He blew his nose immediately, repeatedly, and shivered with chills. Then he tossed out the napkins and checked on the water. There was still time to get another blanket before it was ready. As he turned to retreat to his bedroom, he found his master standing across the room from him.


     "Morning, Padawan." Qui-Gon's voice was calm as always, bearing a gentle smile. Obi-Wan nodded politely back at him. "You're up very early this morning, aren't you? Though I suppose you fell asleep early last night." Obi-Wan nodded politely again. And then came the question he had not wanted to be asked. "Why is that, Obi-Wan?"


     Obi-Wan thought the reason must be a blatantly obvious, and he didn't want to actually put it into words. Jedi did not complain, and surely did not complain to their masters as though they were little children. He took a deep breath, feeling his lungs inflating but not knowing what to say with the breath. What followed was a terribly awkward silence between Master and Padawan, both not knowing what to say and neither meeting the other's eyes.


     Qui-Gon seemed to sense his Padawan's hesitation. "Sit down, Padawan," he said finally. He sounded so commanding that Obi-Wan, who had been again thinking fondly of bed, obeyed and settled on the couch beside Qui-Gon. He sat cross-legged, pulling his legs up so they were covered by the blankets. Qui-Gon sighed and closed his eyes for a moment, supposedly gathering his own thoughts. "Padawan, you know that occasionally I have friends over. Now, I know I do not need to teach you about what we were doing, but I feel as though you require some explanation. You see--"


     "No, Master!" Obi-Wan interrupted. He tried without success to hold back an amused smile. "Please, I..." he lowered his eyes, now trying to figure out what to say on a subject he had nearly completely forgotten. "You are my master, and it isn't my place to question you. These are your quarters as well and you are free to bring in anyone you like. Your personal life is none of my business, Master. You owe me no explanation."


     Qui-Gon was silent for a while. "You... you do not want to speak about what you saw yesterday?" asked Qui-Gon finally, sounding a bit taken aback.


     "No, Master," Obi-Wan repeated, again trying to hold back his amusement.


     Qui-Gon ran a hand through his hair a few times, pulling out some of the tangles. "Then why have you been closing yourself away in your room and in your mind, my Obi-Wan?" He spoke very softly, curiously, seeming really to have no idea. "I thought you must certainly be upset about it."


     "No, Master," he said again, with a bit of a chuckle which helped to hide the fact that his nose was running and tickling again. "I only, well, I have a rather bad cold, Master. One," he added quickly, feeling that he should just get the worst of it over with, "one I know I really should not have caught but I didn't realize it until it was upon me and then there was nothing I could do about--"


     "Padawan!" Qui-Gon interrupted this time, and he was chuckling as well. "It is not your fault that you've caught a cold." Rather than getting up and retrieving a tissue while his master was speaking to him, Obi-Wan risked a soft sniffle. One Qui-Gon noticed immediately. "Did you expect me to be cross with you for being sick?"


     The answer was an unmistakable yes. But it seemed now, to Obi-Wan, that perhaps that was where he had gone wrong, though he couldn't quite understand why. "Yes, Master. Of course."


     Qui-Gon laughed again. He stretched an arm out along the back of the couch, hand coming close to Obi-Wan's head. "Come here, Obi-Wan." He patted his lap. Obi-Wan hesitated, thinking of a spanking he had once heard a Padawan could receive for being particularly bad. He knew that most of a Padawan's initial study and discipline was done before he was chosen, and had never heard of a Padawan who needed such physical punishment. "Come here, please?" he tried, cocking his head, raising eyebrows.


     Obi-Wan cautiously scooted over until Qui-Gon nodded and wrapped his arm around Obi-Wan in a hug. Obi-Wan was shocked at how warm his master was to the touch, though he wore no shirt, merely sleep pants. Qui-Gon did not speak immediately, and did not scold. He simply held Obi-Wan, periodically petting softly. He ran his hand gently over Obi-Wan's buzz and fingered his braid. Then his hand fell down to Obi-Wan's shoulder, squeezing.


     Obi-Wan closed his eyes at the touch, not quite used to it but glad for it. His nose tickled again, but he dared not get up to retrieve a tissue to deal with it. He looked towards the table, thinking about getting another napkin but feeling ashamed at using something so crude in front of Qui-Gon. On the other hand, he didn't much want to sniffle or sneeze in front of Qui-Gon either. He rubbed a finger beneath his nose a few times to try and rub the tickle away. "heh...hehhhh..." He wasn't succeeding, however.


     "Padawan?" Qui-Gon said, looking down at the struggling Obi-Wan.


     Not wanting to stay silent when his master wished him to speak, "I-heh-told you, Master. It's a... a..." But all the talking made everything much worse. He cupped his hand over his nose and mouth. "hah-ihmm!" he stifled it as best he could, though his nose still tickled and ran and he needed to blow it.


     Understanding, Qui-Gon pulled away and went straight for the 'fresher. He walked out a moment later, looking confused. "There was a box of tissues there just yesterday," he said.


     "Id by roob," said Obi-Wan, his nose too stuffed to talk properly. He sniffed out of need and grimaced at it all, his hand still up to cover his nose.


     Qui-Gon returned shortly with the box of tissues, setting it down on Obi-Wan's lap. Obi-Wan took one and wiped his nose, then blew softly to great relief. "Excuse be," he said, still annoyed at his congestion. His nose continued to tickle, and he felt the need to cough more.


     "Blow you nose more if you need to," Qui-Gon instructed, taking his place on the couch once more and wrapping his arm back around Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan went through tissue after tissue with blows, stopping only when he felt no more need to sniffle. "Goodness, no wonder your nose is so red," Qui-Gon said softly, touching the tip of Obi-Wan's nose.


     Obi-Wan wiggled his nose as the touch made it tickle again. "M-master!" he said, irritated. Qui-Gon chuckled and held a tissue to his nose for him. Obi-Wan had little choice. "hehIHHShhhh! hehKEHtchhhh!"


     "Blesses." He pulled Obi-Wan closer, rubbing the boy's arm through the layers of blankets. When Obi-Wan was again finished blowing his nose, Qui-Gon spoke again. "Obi-Wan, will you please simply tell me the next time you're feeling sick and want to be left alone? I was up all night last night worrying about... well, about what I'd done."


     Obi-Wan smiled meekly. "Did I say I wanted to be left alone?" he asked softly. "Though perhaps you could warnl me the next time you wish to make love to a woman on our table?"


     Qui-Gon smiled as well. "Or the couch or even my bedroom, yes promise I will." He stroked the back of Obi-Wan's head. "Though I do not think I'll be bringing any friends over until you start looking a bit better, Padawan."


     "Do I look so bad, Master?" Obi-Wan asked, pulling away from Qui-Gon's touch in order to look his Master more squarely in the eye. He knew how bad he felt, and he supposed he looked the part as well, but if he looked so bad as for Qui-Gon not to want others to even look upon him, that was something else entirely.


     "No," he said softly, bending down and kissing the top of Obi-Wan's head. "I only meant that you should rest and relax and not be bothered with visitors of any kind."


     Obi-Wan nodded, his nose tickling again. "huhUhhhhShhhh! heh-heh-CHIHshhhhh! EHHHHShhhhhh!" Now very glad indeed that Qui-Gon had brought the tissues over, he set to work immediately on another series of blows.


     "Blesses. And Goodness..." Qui-Gon said, putting his hand to Obi-Wan's forehead. "You really do have a bad cold. Perhaps you should go see the healers?" He directed the mess of used tissues over to the trashcan in the kitchen area, allowing Obi-Wan to come closer to him without worrying about knocking any to the ground.


     "Already have," said Obi-Wan, taking Qui-Gon's tight squeezes as a sign to cuddle closer. "I went yesterday."


     "Oh, really?" Qui-Gon was surprised again. "I am impressed with you. How did it go?"


     He gestured towards the kitchen counter. "I got some herbs for tea, and some... medicine." Obi-Wan's face fell. He was due for more of that awful medicine now.


     "Some medicine you're supposed to have now, I take it?" Qui-Gon asked, easing Obi-Wan's head into his lap. Obi-Wan nodded wearily, sniffling. Qui-Gon summoned the bottle over from the room. He read the label. "This is awfully powerful."


     Obi-Wan nodded again. He took a fresh tissue and blew his nose. "It puts me right to sleep in almost an instant." He made to stand up to go to his room but Qui-Gon held him down. "I thought..."


     "Are you comfortable here, Obi-Wan?" he asked, his voice so soft now that it was a gentle whisper. Obi-Wan nodded. "Then there is no reason to leave?" Obi-Wan nodded in agreement this time as well.


     "ehhh...ehhHUHSHhhhhh! huhEHTShuhhh!" Obi-Wan sneezed again. He blew his nose as Qui-Gon poured the cup full of medicine. "I shouldn't take it if I'm to stay awake for lessons this morning," he admitted.


     Qui-Gon petted him gently like a puppy. "You're ill, Padawan. I don't want you to attend classes and I certainly won't push lessons on you myself until you're well." He chuckled. "Did you think I'd make you go off to classes as well?"


     Nodding, "I finished up all my work and everything."


     Awkwardly, because Obi-Wan was lying down and close to the couch, Qui-Gon reached down and hugged Obi-Wan. "I am very proud of you, Obi-Wan. You are more responsible than I have ever realized. But for now, I believe you should just take it easy and concentrate all your energy into getting better." He paused. "And I'd like to help you, if you'll permit me."


     Hardly believing his ears, Obi-Wan froze. His master was proud of him. His master thought him responsible. Obi-Wan certainly had no problem with this. In fact, it was enough of a touching response that he sat up to accept the medicine. However, he did pinch his nose as he drank it down. The taste was so strong now that it made him cough. "H-horrible," he sputtered.


     Qui-Gon nodded with understanding and took the cup back, setting the medicine aside. "Now get some rest, Padawan mine. I'll make you some tea and breakfast when you wake up."


     This was exactly what he'd wanted, all he'd wanted, from the start of it all. Warm blankets, gentle caresses from Master, and cups of tea to dull the pain. He'd thought it needed to come with some scolding, too. But Master Qui-Gon had not even thought to do so. On the contrary, he seemed even more tender and caring than normal. It was possible he still felt guilty about the incident the day before, but Obi-Wan had a strange feeling that it was simply Qui-Gon's nature. But he had no further time to think about it as the medicine knocked him out again.