Title: Under the Weather
Fandom: Star Wars
Disclaimer: These boys are not mine, as much as I wish they were. And, thus, I get no money from this.
Summary: In the middle of a storm off-world, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan do what they must to survive. However, it takes more out of them emotionally than physically.
Notes: Inspired by week #2's bunny in the sneezefic weekly hatching.
Under the Weather
"Okay," Obi-Wan said, throwing his hood back as soon as he had crawled into their makeshift shelter. "I sent the beckon up, but I doubt anyone will be able to see it with all this cloud cover. And as soon as the storm really hits, we'll need to abandon the area anyway. Though I hope it will not have to come down to that." Obi-Wan paused, looking over at his master, sitting, huddling, with his arms crossed around his legs which were pulled tight against his chest. "How are you feeling? Is your cold any better?"
"You've only been gone a few hours, Padawan," Qui-Gon spoke, his voice low and harsh. "It shouldn't be a surprise to you that I'm still sick."
Obi-Wan frowned as he pulled his dripping wet cloak off. The small wooden hut they'd managed to build off the ground protected them well enough from the rain for the time being, but it was far from warm and secure. When the winds blew hard, they could still feel some spray and they both felt the chill. Qui-Gon stared a moment at Obi-Wan's pert nipples through his shirt, then his head snapped down, saving him the embarrassment of noticing them for too long. "huhShhh! huhChoo!"
"Still sick, and sounding worse," Obi-Wan commented, to which he received a glaring look from his master and quickly understood the subject of Qui-Gon's head cold was not the best to focus on presently. So he tried to keep his mind on the situation at hand. "Ah, from what I could sense, the storm is heading a little north. It has the potential to miss us completely, but that's still rather unlikely."
Qui-Gon nodded as he rubbed his hand and sleeve cuff against his runny nose. "We'll keep a close eye on it and stay here as long as we can. If it comes to it, we'll head for that crevasse beneath the rocks we found this morning and stay in there. It seemed low enough to the ground that the storm might be able to pass right over us." Qui-Gon stopped to cough.
Obi-Wan pulled off his canteen and handed it over. Qui-Gon put up a hand, gesturing that he was fine to go without it. Obi-Wan shook his head and pushed it closer. "Have a sip at least, Master. I'm sure you must be dehydrated. And that's not good for your..." He had been about to mention his master's cold again. "Not good for you," he finished, quickly.
Qui-Gon reluctantly took a few gulps from the canteen, wishing that the lukewarm water within could be cool against his paining throat. Though if it was cold water he sought, there was plenty falling from the sky at the moment. He gave a violent shiver and tightened his grip around his legs, hugging them to his chest. He buried his face in his knees, feeling another sneeze coming on. Their makeshift shelter was small, and the last thing he wanted to do was sneeze on Obi-Wan and have his Padawan catch the cold as well. His eyes felt tired, his eyelids heavy. He closed them, knowing they would close anyway as soon as the sneeze struck. A wave of fatigue washed over him, but he tried to push it away as the sneeze came upon him. "uhhChhoo!" He shivered again and sniffled, the sound muffled by his knees.
Obi-Wan crawled over and wrapped his arm around his master's back. Qui-Gon lifted his heavy head to look at his padawan's sympathetic face. Then he rested his head on Obi-Wan's soft shoulder. "I know I've no choice but to wait it out," Qui-Gon whispered, letting his eyes close again. "I simply wish I'd not fallen ill before the mission. And I wish we had not lost contact with the council before we had a chance to send the distress call."
"Shhhh..." Obi-Wan hushed him, putting a hand to the back of Qui-Gon's head. "Quiet, Master. I'm sure it will be all right. We've been in worse situations before and survived." Qui-Gon gave a weak smile. While this statement was loaded in truth, he couldn't remember ever feeling quite so bad in a difficult spot. But he knew the force had a way of helping them to safety. "Night is falling." Why don't you try to get some sleep while you can? Obi-Wan suggested. "There's nothing to do except wait it out, now."
Qui-Gon took the suggestion, having faith in the force and in the fact that his padawan would not abandon him for any reason. He felt warmer with Obi-Wan beside him, even with the wind and rain blowing in through the cracks between the sticks making up their shelter. And he felt more comfortable with his head on Obi-Wan's shoulder, despite the uncomfortable bumpy floor and the darkness and uncertainty surrounding them.
"Master?" The call pulled him out of the deep sleep, and Qui-Gon woke to find Obi-Wan shouting to him from still only inches away. The roar of the wind was immense, and the sound it made as it blew through the trees was as though it was screaming to them. Just as he opened his eyes, half of the shelter was torn away and thrown right towards them. Obi-Wan raised his hand in time, eyes shut with concentration, channeling his strength into the force as he had been taught. The wall and part of the roof flew to the side, missing them by inches. Qui-Gon had flinched anyway. "We must go!" Obi-Wan insisted, pulling on his robe again as the wind and rain came down upon them. The rain was so thick that they could barely see each other, let alone what was happening. The storm was taking over everything, including each one of their sensed.
Qui-Gon gave a nod and Obi-Wan seized his hand, squeezing tightly to show he was still there. He pulled his master forward and off the platform towards the rock formations they'd explored earlier in hopes of finding a cave. What they had found instead was a gap beneath one of the rocks, just large enough to allow them to squeeze under. It looked stable and secure enough, but they would be able to hold the rocks above it up with the force long enough to escape if they needed to. Of course, if the storm was powerful enough to overturn these rocks, there wouldn't be much hope for them once they crawled back out. As they reached the rocks, a cracking, crunching sound reached their ears that told them their make-shift shelter was no more. These rocks were their last hope for survival now.
"You first!" Qui-Gon shouted, putting a hand on the towering rocks to catch his breath. His throat was in pain from the heavy breathing, and his whole body was aching. He needed a moment to catch his breath and steady himself. Obi-Wan looked reluctant, as though wishing desperately his master had chosen to go in first, but not wanting to go against his master's clear orders. The crack beneath the rocks looked hardly large enough for both of them, and Obi-Wan feared going in alone and suddenly finding that Qui-Gon was not right behind him. "I'll follow!" Qui-Gon reassured him, giving the young man a hard kiss on the forehead. "Go now. Or neither of us will be safe."
Obi-Wan hit the ground, muddy and wet. He slid under the gap, finding a narrow tunnel about as long as he was tall. The ground sloped upwards for a ways, then downwards. As he squirmed and inched along, the mud became dry dirt against his face and stomach and the rocks scraped his back. At the end, there was a little more room both to the side and above. It was enough for him to turn and lift his head to see if his master was indeed following. But the space beneath the rock was still quite minimal, and Obi-Wan had a sudden fear of the rock collapsing in on him from all sides before Qui-Gon could get there to help.
The panic began to build in his stomach, and he clawed at the dirt, unable to catch his breath, wanting desperately to crawl back out and choose to be devoured in the swirling winds of the storm they'd seen uproot trees earlier. He closed his eyes as hot tears stung them, trying to release the panic to the force, but being unable to relax long enough to do so. He couldn't stay here. Not without his master. There was not enough room to breathe, let alone survive for long. He would be crushed and suffocate to death. He had to go back out.
"Hush, Padawan Mine," came a deep but gentle voice in his ear. Not yelled, this time, but whispered. Strong arms wrapped around him and drew him close. "We'll be safe under here. There's nothing to worry about."
Obi-Wan felt himself being pulled into Qui-Gon, his face and front pressed against Qui-Gon's chest. There was room to lie on his side comfortably, he found. But he kept his eyes shut tightly as the panic still held him. He grabbed at his master's robe and tunic, holding them tightly. "Cannot... stay here..." he gasped.
"You can. And you will," said Qui-Gon softly, soothingly. He rubbed the back of Obi-Wan's head comfortingly, then pulled his hand back, cupping it to his mouth and nose. He had to sneeze again, but there was no room to easily turn and pull away. "huhChhhh! hehhShooo! huhShoo!" Obi-Wan whimpered, feeling Qui-Gon shake against him. Qui-Gon sniffed hard and kept talking, trying to reassure Obi-Wan that they would be all right. He knew his padawan, as a young boy, had been frightened of small spaces. "It's all right. This is no smaller than a cramped cockpit."
But Obi-Wan remembered clearly how hard it had been to get used to sitting in one of those without panicking for more room and non-recycled air. The space here seemed even smaller now that it was also housing Qui-Gon's body. There was even less room to breathe, to move. "No," he said, shaking his head, gasping for breath. He began trembling, shaking independently of his sobbing. "Can't... breathe..."
"We're outside," Qui-Gon said. "Can't you smell the fresh air coming in here?"
Obi-Wan knew the tunnel was very short, and that fresh air was no more than six or seven feet away from his head. But all he could smell, all he could taste, was stale, hot air inside. All he could feel was the dirt and hard rock. He didn't want to die like this. He tried to pull away from Qui-Gon and crawl free.
But the storm picked up, getting ever closer to them, as though it knew just where they had run to and was determined to find them and destroy them. To leave now would mean certain death, even for a Jedi. Qui-Gon held Obi-Wan tightly and refused to let go. The younger man fought against him, but even sick, Qui-Gon overpowered him. "It's all right, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon soothed. "There's plenty of air, plenty of space."
Obi-Wan shook his head in protest. Things felt far from all right. He continued to struggle, desperate to leave. Anything was better than here.
Qui-Gon knew he would have to try another approach. He'd have to distract his padawan. And nothing distracted Obi-Wan more than a noble task he was being told to complete. "We're back in our quarters on Coruscant," he tried. Obi-Wan stopped struggling. "We're in my nice warm bed together."
"T-together, Master?" asked Obi-Wan weakly, hesitantly.
"That's right," Qui-Gon nodded. "You and me. You're helping to keep me warm because I'm sick."
"You are sick," Obi-Wan remembered, his eyes still tightly shut but his shaking starting to slow a little. "You've got a head cold."
"I do," Qui-Gon nodded again, sniffing wetly to better bring the point across. "And you're taking care of me. You're keeping me warm and comfortable. And you're holding me when I need to sneeze or cough and keeping me calm, just like you've been doing all day."
Obi-Wan nodded slowly, and his breathing slowed as well. His eyes opened a little, trying just to focus on his master in front of him. He reached up and caressed Qui-Gon's cheek. "I am," he whispered.
"You will not leave me?" Qui-Gon asked, releasing his hold on Obi-Wan just a little and rubbing his nose with a hand. It was tickling again. Though now he had the opportunity to crawl away, he did not move to do so.
"Of course not. I'm not going anywhere if you need my help." Accepting the task, Obi-Wan snuggled closer and put his arm around Qui-Gon. They were both covered in mud from the crawl in, but he didn't seem to notice or care. Or perhaps he had forgotten completely where he was.
"I need you to be strong for me," Qui-Gon whispered. "I need you to take care of me."
"It's all right, Master," Obi-Wan whispered. He scooted up a little and kissed Qui-Gon's forehead. "Go ahead and sneeze. I'll hold you tight. I'll take care of you."
He cupped a hand to his nose and mouth, and felt both of Obi-Wan's arms wrap around him, squeezing tightly. "heh... huhChhh! hehShoo!" He shook at the force of each. The short nap had done much good, but he was still feeling achy and tired all over. Sneezing took so much out of him. He shivered weakly and closed his eyes.
"Bless you, Master," Obi-Wan soothed. He slipped out of his robe and draped it over both of them. "I'm pulling the covers up and tucking them around you," he said, continuing the fantasy of being back in their quarters in Qui-Gon's bed. He did not notice the mud drying on the robe and the dirt they lay upon which was not a soft sheet. "You'll be nice and warm in a minute. Just stay close to me." Qui-Gon sighed deeply and relaxed in Obi-Wan's arms as the storm raged just feet from them. He hugged Obi-Wan close, keeping the young man's mind from their situation while he kept his own senses closely attuned to the storm, just to be sure they really were in no danger.
Around them, the storm continued in a fury of high winds and rain for hours on end. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan slipped in and out of sleep, but still managed to hold each other tightly for support and reassurance. Qui-Gon took the job of paying attention to the storm, while Obi-Wan put all his attention towards his master. And both put their faith in the force in helping to guide rescuers to their location as soon as it was safe to do so.
Shivering, Obi-Wan drew the blanket around his shoulders more tightly. He and Qui-Gon had been forced out of their muddy and soaking clothes and wrapped up in thick blankets as the emergency transport took them to the nearest space port where they could arrange a ride back home. After several days of storms and inadequate shelters, they were most glad for the bit of quiet and comfort, and for the chance to contact the council and report.
"Yes, we're all right now, Master Windu," Qui-Gon said into the small audio communicator in his hand, glad Mace could not see what a sorry state the two Jedi were currently in. Though he supposed the congestion and fatigue in his voice spoke towards that anyway. "And we did succeed in the survey portion of our mission. We will be back with a formal report as soon as we can secure proper transport." And get a good meal and rest, though that went without saying.
"We are glad to hear that you and your padawan are safe, and we look forward to your return. May the force be with you." Master Windu's voice was full of static and interference, as it was not a secure transmitting channel, but the best they could do under the circumstances.
"And with you." Qui-Gon ended the transmission and set the communicator down.
"ihhTchuh!" Qui-Gon turned to see Obi-Wan rubbing at his nose. "Sorry," he whispered, looking a little embarrassed. Timidly, "I think I might have caught your cold."
"I shouldn't be surprised," Qui-Gon said, shaking his head. He put his arm, and with it part of his blanket, around Obi-Wan and pulled the young man close in a hug. "You've had a very hard few days and we've been in such close quarters. It was bound to happen." He turned his face down, watching as Obi-Wan rubbed his cheek against Qui-Gon's blanket and side. "But I'll take care of you the way you took care of me. That's a promise."
"Snuggled up warm in your bed together, Master?" Obi-Wan asked hopefully, looking up into Qui-Gon's face.
His master beamed and nodded, while rubbing his own tickling nose. "Yes, of course my Obi-Wan." Obi-Wan sighed and relaxed against his master, who half-stifled a sneeze into his shoulder. "heh-hKsh!"
The two Jedi sat beside each other on the floor of the ship, holding each other to keep from shivering too badly. Both were still chilled and wet, though Qui-Gon still had a towel around his shoulders to keep his hair from dripping down his neck, and Obi-Wan's short hair had dried much more quickly. Apart from some coughs, sniffles, sneezes, and yawns, they were quiet. It was nice to hear nothing but the sounds of the pilots on the controls as they sped through space. The roar of the wind and rain pounding down was finally gone. The fight to stay safe, to stay alive was over. There was nothing to do now but hold each other and sleep.