Fandom: Star Wars
Disclaimer: I'm merely playing with the Jedi boys. I promise to return them, relatively unharmed, to their rightful owners when I'm finished. The only thing I get out of this is a warm fuzzy feeling from playing... and from feedback should there be any.
Summary: Off-world, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan explore a room of documents. But they can't avoid running into learning some lessons along the way.
Notes: This was the most random bunny that has ever bit me. No clue where it came from or how the fic happened since I've got so many in the works... but here it is nonetheless.
Their guide carried the lantern in front of them, but it was dim and lit only a few feet ahead at best. It was all they would need once they reached the room, but the journey there was dark and foreboding. It looked as though they were descending into nothingness until they were virtually upon it. The force was making Qui-Gon a bit unsteady and uncertain about something, but there was nothing too urgent or important about it so he followed their guide and Obi-Wan followed him. He could feel his padawan's hand on his hip to keep them together as they headed down. He could feel a normal level of apprehension from Obi-Wan between their bond, and sent a gentle reassurance back. Their steps echoed eerily and were soft on the stone steps. The stairs leading down into it were narrow and as dark as they found the old courthouse basement to be.
"Well, this is it," The guide said, setting the lantern on a table and looking around the old room. "Hasn't been used in about fifty or fifty-two years, but everything that survived was stored here." Obi-Wan came down to settle beside his master and the guide looked at both of them. "If that's all, I need to be getting back to the others. I trust you can find your own way out?"
Qui-Gon nodded with a reassuring smile. "Yes, thank you very much, Mister Rollins. We appreciate your guidance and can take it from here."
The man nodded back and headed up the stairs rather quickly. Obi-Wan waited until their guide was gone before turning to his master and speaking. "Master, I don't think I understand why they're so scared of this room. When we mentioned it earlier, everyone got very quiet and solemn or left the room in a hurry. It seems to scare people and they don't want to talk about it."
Their mission here was so simple a protocol droid might have been able to complete it. A master and his padawan could only be sent to a planet with a culture like this for one reason, and that was learning. Qui-Gon had made certain to take advantage of every learning opportunity possible, but he found his young padawan eagerly bringing up subjects that made good lessons on his own. He would make a good master one day, with skills like that.
Qui-Gon nodded and moved the lantern to the center of the table in front of them. "That is a very accurate observation. Do you remember the briefings we read on the transport ship during the journey here last week? They were short in the history section for a reason. These people fear what came before them, they fear what they might have been and might have done. For some people, not knowing is safer than finding out things were wrong or different."
Qui-Gon rubbed his nose and headed to one end of the room, just barely lit by the lantern light. His eyes traveled over the bound volumes of records. "So they systematically lock it away and move on. In this way, they may be repeating their mistakes of the past or moving on above them, but the people do not know which. They are only conscious of the present state of their world and society."
Obi-Wan looked confused and walked over, standing just behind his master. "But what of their oral traditions? Or their memories? Do they not understand these are links to the past? How can they look to the future for change at all without understanding where their people once were and what they once did? Do they not understand there are reasons behind every law and every nation boundary? Why do they even keep records around if such things frighten them so? And how long ago must it be to be considered dangerous- a day, a year, a decade?"
"Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon sighed. He turned and put his hands on his young padawan's shoulders. "These are all important and intriguing questions to be addressed when understanding these people. But this is neither the time nor the place for them. We will speak later about this. We have a job to do here now."
Obi-Wan nodded. "Yes, of course, Master. I'm sorry."
Qui-Gon turned back to the books and, after a few moments of sensing, selected one from the shelf. Then he looked back at his padawan. "And then we will speak about why you did not read the mission briefing as well as you should have."
The Jedi Master's tone was firm, but his smile told Obi-Wan that it was merely a gentle joke. Obi-Wan smiled back. "Of course, Master." The two walked the book to the table where Obi-Wan leaned against his master eagerly to see it. "I've never seen a real book before," he said, his eyes darting over every bit of it. Not on paper like this, anyway. Datapads, cyber books, tablets and electronic data volumes... but not real, old books like this." He reached down and stroked the page with the very tips of his fingers. "It must have been such a slow process to make this." Obi-Wan shut his mouth and shook his head. "I'm sorry, again. This is not the time to discuss ancient forms of communication either."
Qui-Gon smiled approvingly at him. This was the first long away mission they'd had in a while. And while it was nice to be off world for a change, Obi-Wan had been overly excited for much of the mission thus far. If Qui-Gon could compliment his padawan for anything thus far, it would have been his eagerness to learn. Qui-Gon had to admit it was rather thrilling to live through his padawan, feeling the enthusiasm and anticipation through their bond and seeing how Obi-Wan's eyes lit up at each new sight and experience.
"It's all right, Young One. We've got quite a few of these to go through before we're done. By then, I wonder if you won't be bored with these old, inefficient books." Obi-Wan gave a smile that showed he would be glad to prove his master wrong. His master rubbed an itch out of his nose and smiled back.
Qui-Gon bent over the book and flipped through a few pages. He held his face close to the pages and squinted on the words scrawled upon them in an unsteady hand. "I am not sure this is going to be much help," he said after a minute or two. "Would you please find all other volumes from this year, Obi-Wan? We will have to go through each one for details and put them all together in the end."
Obi-Wan nodded and headed for the large row of bookshelves which spanned the walls on all sides. The volumes were so thick and fat that the wooden shelves bowed in the middle from the weight, and seemed happy to see people reliving their burden even a little.
Qui-Gon squinted as the lantern light danced across the page. He could barely make out the words written upon them. And though he was sure they would find their answers in no time if they had the sunlight to work from, they had sworn upon penalty of death not to remove anything from the record room. He feared using their lightsabers as a light source as well. A Jedi weapon was not an honorable or appropriate light source, and there was no telling what the heat from one might do to the books if it got close enough. So they would have to make do with the dim lantern light.
As Qui-Gon read and flipped through the pages, a light tickle began building in his nose. This was no surprise at all, considering the thick layer of dust upon everything in the room. Even the stairs had been coated with it and, thus, the books were not immune either. Qui-Gon's nostrils twitched lightly with the sensation as it worked its way from the back to the very tip of his nose.
Automatically, Qui-Gon reached into the inner pocket of his robes. He felt around inside but aside from a datacard his fingers felt nothing but the inner fabric of the pocket. He straightened in a moment of panic and reflection. The temple leader's daughter, two days back, had scraped her knee on a stair. She'd been crying and clinging to Obi-Wan who had carried her up the flight. And Qui-Gon had stopped the bleeding by pressing his handkerchief to the scrape. It seemed he had not stocked his pocket with a fresh one afterwards. He made a mental note to remember next time to always carry two handkerchiefs, and to restock as soon as possible after using one or both.
The tickle grew worse and he a bit more desperate. It was making his breath catch and his eyes close. Determined not to sneeze on the books, or anything else that would kick up more dust, he turned to his padawan, hand outstretched. "Obi... may I have your hah-hanky?" he asked quickly, holding his other hand to his face. He pinched his nose as he fought against a frown and gasping breaths.
Without taking his eyes off the spines of the books and without setting down the stack of three books in hand, he withdrew a handkerchief and held it over his shoulder. Qui-Gon took it at once, clamping it to his nose with both hands. "huhChhhff! hehShfff! huhChuffff!" He backed away from the shelves and the table with the current book and lantern. He stood in the middle of the room, breathing heavily into the handkerchief as he felt the need to sneeze return not moments after having sneezed the previous tickles out. "huhh..." he closed his eyes tightly and gave into his need. His body tensed on its own, shoulders raising, chest rising with deep breath. "hehhChhff! huhhShfff! huhKShhfff! ehhChuff-Chuff!" His sneezes were so violent that he shook at their force.
When Qui-Gon straightened and looked up, Obi-Wan was on his arm, wearing an expression of concern. "Are you quite all right, Master? It's all the dust, isn't it? That always makes your nose tickle so."
Qui-Gon breathed out heavily and nodded.
"I could clean some of the room out, if you like," Obi-Wan volunteered. "You could go outside for some fresh air and I could clean some of the dust off the floor and table at least."
Behind the hanky, Qui-Gon smiled. While he was eager for fresh air and for the tickle that was again building in his nose to leave, he knew he could not ask that of his padawan. The task of cleaning the room would take far too much time, time that they did not have. And there would be no good way to clean enough of it off every book, every page. But Obi-Wan's offer was kind, and Qui-Gon did not want to hurt his feelings. He sent a wave of gratitude through their bond. "I am afraid it has gone too far for that al-already-huhh-huhCHFFF!" This sneeze was strong, and threw him forward. Sensing his need and reacting with Jedi reflexes, Obi-Wan held onto his arm to support him. One sneeze triggered another, however, tickling his nose badly. He tensed again and drew another breath. "hehhhh..."
"It's all right, Master," Obi-Wan said, tightening his grip on Qui-Gon's arm. "Sneeze as much as you need to."
Qui-Gon had not the chance to smile at this, as the sneezes struck swiftly. "hehhChuff! huhShufff! hehShffff! KShffff!" As he straightened again, he sniffled into the handkerchief. He felt rather thankful that his padawan kept a handkerchief, let alone such a clean and soft one. But at the same time, he knew he should not keep this up all day. So much sneezing would prevent him from getting work done, and Obi-Wan's hovering over him like this would keep Obi-Wan from doing the same.
"Are you sure you would not like to go back up for a few minutes at least? Until your sneezes die down?"
As lovely as the suggestion sounded, Qui-Gon shook his head. If nothing else was done this day, nothing else learned about culture or even the history of communication, he would be sure to teach Obi-Wan something by example. Qui-Gon blew his nose excessively and then folded the handkerchief. He held a dry side to his face and straightened up. "I can handle myself well enough to conduct my duty. Thank you for your suggestion, however. Now let us search through these books."
Obi-Wan took another volume from the shelf and carried all over to the table. Qui-Gon kept the handkerchief pressed to his face to use it as a filter for breathing. And though Qui-Gon sneezed off and on all the while they were there, and though Obi-Wan marked him closely with concern, they accomplished their task quite well indeed.
"I am relieved we were able to piece most of it together, Master. Your allergy did not slow us down much at all," Obi-Wan said brightly as he held his arms out, six books piled on them. With one hand, Qui-Gon took one at a time from his padawan's stack and placed them back on the shelves in their appropriate positions. His other hand still held the handkerchief over his nose and mouth.
Qui-Gon nodded, unable to talk for an oncoming sneeze. The tickle filled his nose fully, making him gasp and frown. "hah... hahCHUFF! KShfff!" He snuffled wetly and shook his head. "I ab esbecially relived we were able to coblete the work today. Sniff! I'b dot sure by dose could have haddled a returd trib." He returned the last book to the shelf and felt a wave of accomplishment settle in.
Obi-Wan eyed him, smiling. Qui-Gon knew by now they were both used to how congested he sounded when talking, and that there were no reserve handkerchiefs at hand into which he could blow his nose. Nonetheless, Obi-Wan had kept a close watch over him and kept track of the affliction. "May I suggest we return to our quarters and wash before we meet the temple officials for dinner and discussion?"
Qui-Gon was quick to agree to this. A shower, a fresh change of clothes, and a few good blows of his nose into clean hankies was just what he had in mind for himself. He patted Obi-Wan's shoulder and gestured that the padawan should lead the way out. "Of course you dow we bust dot sbeak of bost of this udless we are... are..." Qui-Gon broke off telling his padawan for another sneeze or three. "hehhh... hehshff! hehChuff! hahChfff!"
Obi-Wan took the lantern from the table and used it to lead the way up the dusty stairs, ruining the footprints they'd made going down into the room. "It's all right, Master," he said, loudly enough so his master could hear from the stairs behind him. "I've never told anyone about your allergies, and I do not think it proper to start doing so now. Besides, I've learned a lot from this experience."
Qui-Gon raised an eyebrow. He could feel it coming through their bond, and yet he walked into it just the same. "What's that, Badawad?"
Halfway up the stairs, he paused for effect, the lantern swinging slightly from his hand, catching their partial shadows on the walls. "I learned that you should stay out of dusty record rooms." He cast a grin over his shoulder and then hurried up the rest of the stairs, leaving his sniffling but chuckling master behind to catch up.