Title: The Healer's Cold
Fandom: Star Wars
Pairing: Obi/Qui referenced
Disclaimer: George Lucas gets paid the big bucks for a reason. I get absolutely nothing. Tala's all mine, though.
Summary: Tala's caught a cold and Qui-Gon looks in on him.
Notes: Set during Day 20 of 'The Ondarian Virus' and posted exactly a year after that was posted.
The Healer's Cold
It was early in the afternoon when the door chime broke into Tala's attempt at falling asleep. He cleared his throat and called out across the room to the door of his quarters. He pushed the mess of used handkerchiefs off the rest of the sofa and pulled the blanket up to hide the fact that it was afternoon and he was still in his pajamas. "Come on in!" The loud call hurt his throat and he coughed a little into the crook of his arm. The coughs passed quickly, however.
As the door opened and closed, Tala looked up and his dull brown eyes widened. "Qui-Gon? What are you doing here?" He said up straighter on the sofa with worry. "Nothing's wrong with Obi-Wan, I hope?"
Qui-Gon shook his head with a chuckle. "No. He's having one of his bad days, but that doesn't have anything to do with the virus." The environmental controls in Tala's quarters had been set high on the warm side of things, so Qui-Gon took off his cloak as soon as he entered. "I thought it might be better for me to get out of our quarters for a while. And as you and I never get to see much of each other, I thought I might drop in on you for a little while." Before he could set his cloak aside, he paused. "I do hope I'm not imposing. I can leave if you would prefer." He took a step backwards.
Tala considered it. "Well, normally I would be delighted but I am feeling a bit under the weather. And it wouldn't do for you to catch my cold. Not with a sick padawan on your hands."
With a soft smile, Qui-Gon walked forward and dropped his cloak onto the back of a chair. "Is that the best excuse you have? Because if it is, I'm definitely staying."
Tala nodded, smiling back. "I guess there's no harm in a quick visit then."
Qui-Gon helped himself to a seat in the chair. "So how're you feeling today? Last I heard, not so well."
Tala nodded and coughed into his arm again. But this time the coughs kept coming. As his face flushed from so much coughing, Tala lowered his arm and reached forward for the glass of water on the table. Used to getting water for Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon had gone for it as well and got to it first. He handed it over quickly and Tala took a few strong gulps before the coughing completely subsided. "As you've probably guessed," Tala said, smiling weakly, "I'm not much better."
Qui-Gon nodded sympathetically. "You do sound pretty rotten." Qui-Gon reached over and felt Tala's forehead. "Do you have a fever?"
Tala shook his head. "No, it's just a head cold." He frowned and turned his head, leaning away from Qui-Gon. He cupped a handkerchief to his face and tensed. "Ehffffshhhh! IhhShfffff!" He blinked and lowered the handkerchief. "Of course with my medical expertise I know it's just a head cold. But right now I feel that's like saying Hoth is just a little chilly."
Qui-Gon laughed lightly and shifted a little in his seat as he changed the mood. "Do you have everything you need?" he asked. "Have you eaten lunch? Do you have enough to drink? Enough blankets? I could make a run out to the shops for you."
Tala nodded. "When I felt a cold coming on I stocked up on the essentials. And I did have a bit of lunch earlier. I do know a thing or two about nursing a cold, Qui-Gon."
Qui-Gon looked skeptical. "Perhaps. But you don't catch colds very often." Certainly not as often as Qui-Gon tended to. Or Obi-Wan for that matter. "And while I'm here I just thought if I could do anything to make you feel better, I should ask."
Tala closed his eyes for a moment in thought. He understood Qui-Gon's desire to want to do all he could to make everything better. It was a very innate Jedi drive. Not to mention that he was probably feeling rather helpless when it came to Obi-Wan's illness. No matter what he did, his padawan's cold would still take thirty days to pass. "I'm all right, Qui," Tala said softly. He opened his eyes and smiled. "Truly."
All right, perhaps, but not perfectly fine. His nostrils twitched, and he raised his handkerchief again, refolding it as he sniffled and his breath sped up. "With the exception of... of..." He cupped it to his face. "IHFFFShhhh! hehhFishhh! EhhhF-" The sneeze hovered on the verge for a moment, his brow furrowing but the rest of him staying motionless. "Schhuhhhh!" He sneezed finally. Then he shivered and tugged the blanket around himself more securely. "Excuse-hihhh- excuse me." He snuffled into his handkerchief a few more times, then balled it up, counting it as beyond use now.
Tala swallowed and cleared his throat. "I'm going to go get another handkerchief." Tala started to stand. "I'll be right--"
"Oh no you don't!" Qui-Gon said, holding out a hand to signal for him to stay where he was and sit back down. "I'll get you one."
Tala shook his head. "Qui, I'm perfectly capable of--"
"Of course you are, but so am I." He stood, towering over the sick healer on the couch. "Now, where do you keep them?"
With a resigned but appreciative smile, "I keep them in my dresser. Top drawer. Behind the underwear but to the right of the socks."
"Of course," Qui-Gon said, heading straight for the dresser in the bedroom. He returned with two handkerchiefs and set one down on the arm of the couch for later as he gave the other to Tala.
Tala blew his nose into it immediately and sighed deeply. "Thank you." He folded the handkerchief and then looked back at him. "I'm so sorry. Where are my manners? Would you like something to drink?"
Qui-Gon shook his head and got up again. "I'll take that to mean you're thirsty." He got out glasses and poured juice into both. Juice was just about the only thing in the fridge but he didn't mind. He settled next to Tala on the couch and handed over the drink.
"You didn't have to do this." He took a few sips and sighed again. "Oh, but Force I'm glad you did." He coughed a little and drank a little more.
"I'll bring the bottle over so you can have seconds and thirds." When Qui-Gon returned, Tala had finished his juice and had moved on to another bout of sneezes.
"hehhFShhhh! hahhhShhhh! ehhhFShuhhh!" He was going through the handkerchiefs a bit more quickly than Qui-Gon had anticipated. Qui-Gon retrieved more from the bedroom and found Tala lying down but curled up and still sneezing. "huhhShuhh! hahhFShhhh! hehhhSHUH! KShihhh" Qui-Gon got another blanket from the bedroom and tucked it around Tala snugly. "hehhhTShhhh! hahhFShhhh! SHUHH! Oh... excuse me again."
"Goodness," Qui-Gon said once the sneezes seemed to have subsided. "You could certainly give Obi-Wan a run for his credits." He collected the used handkerchiefs as Tala sat up to try to do it.
Tala relaxed again, sniffling. "You should have heard me yesterday." He shook his head. "But I'm glad you didn't. Was not a pretty sight. Sorry you have to see me now."
Qui-Gon narrowed his eyes and chuckled. "Think nothing of it. You have seen me in much worse conditions."
Tala nodded, recalling several of those situations. Remembering them seemed to make him feel a bit better in comparison. "So instead of talking about various uncomfortable illnesses, how about telling me what you've been up to lately?"
"Not much," Qui-Gon admitted. "Without a padawan to assist me, most of my work has been rather limited. I suppose the change is nice, as it gives me opportunities to spend more time with Obi-Wan, but I do look forward to getting back to normal."
"I'm sure Obi-Wan feels similarly," Tala said reassuringly.
"As it's so painful to spend time with me, you mean?"
Tala laughed, holding back coughs as he did so. "Of course that isn't what I meant. You're lovely to have around, Qui-Gon."
Qui-Gon beamed at the compliment. "And how have you been spending your convalescence?" he asked. "Finding time around all the sneezes to write, I hope?"
Tala nodded almost automatically, but Qui-Gon caught the look in his eyes, and Tala sighed. "Not as much as I'd like. I'm finding it difficult to concentrate. Even just reading makes my head hurt." He sniffled and dabbed his handkerchief at his nose. "I can't even recall where I left my... hehh... ehhhSchhhh! hehhhFShhhh! Snff... where I left my reading glasses."
Qui-Gon got up at once and headed straight for Tala's bedroom again. Tala turned, raising himself up on his knees and resting his forearm against the back of the sofa to call over it, "Don't bother looking. Please. I won't be able to... sniff, snuff... to read anyway. I'm exhausted." But his words were lost to the sound of Qui-Gon rustling around in the other room. So he sat back down and pulled the blankets back around himself to wait until Qui-Gon returned.
The Jedi Master was back in no time, however, but he did not bring reading glasses. He had a datapad in his hand and was smiling as he held it up for Tala to see. "What do you want to hear?"
"You plan to read to me?"
As he sat back down in the chair, he nodded. "I read to Obi-Wan all the time. He says he finds the sound of my voice soothing."
"That's because he's in love with you," Tala chuckled. "And I do appreciate the gesture but this was supposed to be a quick visit--"
"Mmm," Qui-Gon replied absentmindedly, scrolling through a list of titles on the datapad. "How about a nice, light comedic drama? That way you can be entertained but not terribly invested in it."
"Good. I will take that as a yes." He selected a novel and began reading from it. Tala had no choice but to lie back down and relax again.
By the time Qui-Gon was three minutes in, it was apparent to Tala that the man had indeed done this before on many occasions. He was a very considerate reader, picking up on Tala's breathing patterns and pausing when sneezes struck. He paused at sniffles and short coughs as well, though did so briefly as though he were just letting the impact of the sentence he'd just read sink in. It made Tala feel quite at ease to listen to the story and not worry about missing anything or having Qui-Gon make his symptoms into a big deal.
Not a big deal, that is, until his sneezing lasted a whole five minutes without much more than a breath or two of silence in-between. "hehh-Chhhhh! Kshhhh! Ehhhh-ehhhFShhhhhh!" Tala finished up finally, catching his breath and moving slowly as though all his energy had been drained by the sneezes. He lifted his head, looking at Qui-Gon clearly around the cushion and arm of the sofa. "'Cuse be. I'b so sorry."
"Arnup'tchow," Qui-Gon replied. He leaned forward, reaching for the stack of handkerchiefs he'd brought. "Better blow your nose."
"I dow," Tala replied, snatching a fresh handkerchief before Qui-Gon could do so. He gave his nose a good blow, then lifted his head with the hanky still pressed to his face. "I ab a healer." He blew again, eyes closed, body tense. Then he relaxed again. "Add I do dow how to take care of byself." He refolded the handkerchief, mopping it at his nose, then blew more.
"I know that," Qui-Gon said soothingly. "In fact, when I informed Obi-Wan that you'd taken ill, he felt bad that you don't have anyone to look after you. I told Obi you can take care of yourself."
Tala finished up with the handkerchief and dropped it into the pile of other used ones. He took a new one to wipe his nose dry. "Well if that's the case, why did you come by to see me?"
Qui-Gon smiled. "Apart from the obvious, you mean? Me needing to get out and caring about you and all that?" Tala nodded. Qui-Gon shifted in his seat, settling in for the explanation. He took a deep breath before beginning. "You're a healer at the
here. Which means you work shifts that last, what, half a standard day? Longer, sometimes?" Tala nodded again. "When you're sick, taking care of yourself is a nonstop job. So I thought you could use a little break." He cleared his throat and looked back down at his datapad. "Now, where were we?" Temple
As Qui-Gon resumed reading, Tala relaxed. After a while, he found the words drifting over him and he realized he had not been following the story for several minutes. Before he could ask Qui-Gon to repeat the last part, he yawned fiercely.
Qui-Gon noticed. "Feeling tired?" he asked, to which Tala wearily nodded back. "Time for some of that tea of yours, then?" Agreeing, Tala threw off his blanket and began to get up for it. Qui-Gon quickly set down the datapad and was beside the couch in an instant. He draped the blanket back over Tala. Shaking his head. "No, no. I will fix it for you."
"That's no need. I can fix it myself-ehhhhTChhhhh! Sniff!"
He tried repeatedly to rise, but Qui-Gon held him down with only minimal effort as Tala was weak from his cold. "Let me get it for you. You should just sit and relax." When Tala had relented, Qui-Gon headed straight for the kitchen.
"That's easier said than done," murmured Tala, settling back into the couch but still looking somewhat uneasy. Instinctively, he followed along with Qui-Gon's actions in the other room. He couldn't help but notice that Qui-Gon put the kettle on a burner Tala rarely used, and that the Jedi added less than a full spoonful of the medicinal herbs. He was about to mention that mistake when Qui-Gon dipped the spoon back into the small canister for just a little more. Tala bit his tongue and simply waited with equal amounts of trust and doubt.
Qui-Gon sat down on the edge of the couch as he handed Tala the mug of tea. Tala drank speedily and steadily, knowing well the consequences of doing otherwise. And when the cup was drained, he could barely keep his eyes open.
Tala was only vaguely aware of Qui-Gon helping him up and supporting him over to the bedroom. "There you go," said Qui-Gon as Tala lay down in bed. Qui-Gon pulled the covers up and tucked them very tightly around Tala's body to keep him warm. Then he placed a few clean handkerchiefs on the pillow and petted Tala's arm through the covers. "Sleep well, my friend."
Sniffling, Tala reached out from beneath the covers to retrieve a handkerchief and rub his nose. Qui-Gon tucked the covers back into place afterwards. Then Tala looked up at the Jedi Master, his eyelids heavy and his whole body screaming for sleep. "You're an excellent care-giver."
Qui-Gon smiled and affectionately ran his hand over Tala's short, frizzy hair, messing it up an unnoticeable amount. "I learned from the best." He gave it a moment then whispered. "I'll lock your door on my way out." But Tala was already asleep and did not hear. "And I'll turn off your door chime so you can sleep soundly."