Title: Timing

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Star Wars

Disclaimer: Hi *waves* I'm not George Lucas. Sorry to burst your bubble but I don't get paid for any of this. I just love his characters and I like to play.

Summary: Obi-Wan doesn't have the best timing when it comes to catching a cold. It doesn't have to be an important meeting or off-world mission for a head cold to be inconvenient.  

Notes: Written for circe for being the bestest beta-reader ever! Months ago she mentioned computer network downtime to me in an e-mail and this started to fall out a few minutes later.




     Obi-Wan bounced on the balls of his feet, preparing for take-off. But a hand on his shoulder made him freeze and relax, allowing him to delay his task for a few moments more. He looked over and grinned. "You've got good tibig, Badt."


     Bant grinned back, pulling her hood up over head. "Good? No, coincidence more likely. It seems like I've been here thirty times today already. You?"


     "Fifty at least," he grumbled. He sighed and looked out of the glass door directly in front of him, though he could not see very far. It was a blinding white outside, with the whole of the city blanketed by a raging snowstorm. Violent winds. Feet of snow. Inhuman temperatures. They had seen all the complications and catastrophes associated with such a storm... and then some.


     Then his eyes slammed shut and he just managed to raise his arm to bury his nose in his thick sleeve. "uhhh-Schhphhhh! KuhShhphhh!"


     Bant clucked her tongue against the roof of her mouth, dug a handkerchief out, and handed it over. Her silver eyes flashed with sympathy. "Bad timing, catching a head cold in the middle of all this madness."


     He nodded and rubbed his nose, knowing from experience that it was now his handkerchief as she wouldn't want it back. He tucked it away and raised his hood as well. "Ready?" He saw her nod just before he ducked his head down. Then he crossed his arms over his chest, letting his long sleeves cover his hands and arms so that the only part of him exposed to the elements was a bit of his face. Then he purposefully walked into the door, pushing it open.


     The walkway hadn't been shoveled recently, as the droids assigned to such work had to be used sparingly as even they froze up or rusted if they were out in the cold for too long. But frequent traveling from the padawans today kept the walkway somewhat clear of snow, though slippery with ice. The wind pushed them this way and that, slamming them against the side of snowdrifts with only their Jedi powers to help keep them on their feet.


     By the time they reached the end of the walkway and had shut the door, their faces were stinging and their limbs felt frozen. They stomped their feet and shook the snow off. Obi-Wan immediately took out the handkerchief again. "ehhh-Uhgschhh!" It bent him practically in half, and he stayed that way as he continued to sneeze. "huhhKSchhh! uhhhChooo!"


     The data chips in his inner pocket clicked together as he shook with sneezes, so he kept his free hand against his chest until the sneezes passed. He straightened with a cough and many weary rubs to his still tickling nose.


     "You look exhausted, Obi-Wan." Bant said, pressing her hand against his forehead to feel for fever. It was still too cold from the trip outside.


     "I ab," he replied weakly, stuffing the handkerchief into his other inner pocket while pulling out handfuls of data chips from the other. He sorted through them, selected one, then put the others away again. "They've got all the badawads out curryig dow that the lides are dowd. But they still exbect us to go to our classes add do our traidig add work..." He sniffed hard and rubbed his nose into his sleeve, too tired to bother with the handkerchief.


     "Of course," she said with a smile. "We're padawans. We're expected to hold down our usual responsibilities, even in times of crisis. And, frankly Obi-Wan, I'm surprised to hear you of all people suggesting otherwise!" she laughed.


     He smiled back, nodding. "It bust be the head cold clouding by judgbedt." She laughed again.


     "Padawans?" They both winced slightly, looking over at Master Windu who had just rounded the corner a few doors down the hallway. "Surely you are not wasting time? With the power down in half of the temple, whole sections inaccessible, and communication down throughout the temple and city, there are important messages that need to be delivered."


     "We understand, Master Windu," Bant said quickly and apologetically. She flashed Obi-Wan a smile. "I will see you later tonight to study for our mechanics drills tomorrow." He nodded back. "May the Force be with you both," she said, waiting for them to reply in kind before heading quickly down the hall.


     Then Mace turned to Obi-Wan. "You do not sound well at all, Padawan Kenobi. Have you been to see the healers?"


     Obi-Wan shook his head. "I did't wadt adyode there to catch this frob be." When the power outage had hit, many residents of the temple had been relocated. Many of the Senate dignitaries had been moved in with others Senators and senior, padawanless Jedi. However, others were assigned to stay at the healing dome where there were many available rooms and beds. "But Baster Qui-God took by teberature. This is just a tidy head cold," he explained, holding up two fingers to demonstrate how small a head cold he considered it.


     As Master Windu regarded him skeptically, Obi-Wan's expression changed. He felt a sneeze coming and was not about to sneeze openly in front of a Jedi Master. Well, excluding Qui-Gon, of course. He turned to the side a little and dug around in his pocket to retrieve the handkerchief. He cupped it to his face as securely as he could with one hand, not wanting to get the data chip anywhere near his sneeze either. "uhhh... huh-ChshhhhChuhhh!" The double had been strong and, with his nose tickling so much, he was forced to blow it a little to stave off a full-blown fit of sneezing.


     After Obi-Wan had straightened and apologized, Master Windu looked much more forgiving. Obi-Wan could see in his eyes the same sort of kindness his own master showed him. "How many more messages are you to deliver?"


     Obi-Wan took a mental tally, trying to recall the feel of the chips in his hand just minutes before. "Odly six," he explained. "But I'b slated to be od currier duty for adother three hours. I dow I soud sick, but I wadt to do by bit to helb."


     Mace paused for a moment, thinking. Then, "I think we can do without one padawan's assistance during this shift. When you finish with your current assignments, I want you to return to your quarters."


     Obi-Wan hesitated, then nodded obediently. "Thadk you. Sniff! I should go dow, though. Baster Biddow id dext od by list."


     "By all means," Master Windu said, gesturing down the hallway. "Oh, but will you do you me the favor of relaying a message to Qui-Gon for me?" Obi-Wan, of course, replied that he would. "Tell him that he needs to take better care of his padawan."


     Obi-Wan smiled sheepishly. "Thadk you," he repeated, feeling the need to get done with his duties so that he could return home as soon as possible. "Bay the Force be with you, Baster Widdu."


     "And you, Padawan Kenobi. Feel better."


     Obi-Wan nodded and hurried along, turning the corner before Mace opened the door and let in a blast of cold air.


     The first five messages took nearly a half an hour to deliver, even with Obi-Wan hurrying. He nearly gave the wrong chip away once, but loaded its contents into his datapad to double-check before he left and caught the mistake in time.


     The sixth, and his last, chip was to be delivered to Master Nu, who had recently taken over the position of Chief Librarian of the Jedi Archives. He paused outside the library to blow his nose as thoroughly as possible before entering.


     The library was dark and the only retrieval stations lit and ready for use were the two at the main desk. Obi-Wan guessed they were running on back-up power as the library was quite an important tool but certainly took a back seat to the cafeteria, healing dome, and council chamber. Nonetheless, the library was spacious and he could see that several sections of it were currently being used as makeshift classrooms for the younglings. The whole of the library still felt as quiet and peaceful as ever.


     He spotted Master Nu behind the main desk and headed over. He decided not to address her by name. Despite his attempt at clearing his nose, it still felt rather stuffy and runny. And, as he approached her, it started tickling. "Dot dow!" he whispered to it under his breath.


     "Did you say something Padawan Kenobi?" Master Nu leaned across the desk to hear him better. Her hair was tied back in a bun and she wore a no-nonsense expression.


     He shook his head and surreptitiously gave his nose a rub. He held out the data chip.


     She smiled and took it. "Thank you, Padawan."


     "You're wel... wel... huhh..." He tried to finish and fight back the sneezes. He tried hard. And he failed. "hihhhChoo! hehhChoo! hihhSchuhhh!" He quickly buried his nose into the crook of his arm. "HEHChphh! HIHShmmph!" The sound echoed throughout the nearly silent library.


     But the damage was done. He was shushed by practically everyone there. His cheeks flushed and he muttered an apology through his sleeve. Master Nu looked concerned, but Obi-Wan shook his head. "I'b headig back to by quarters right dow," he assured her.


     She nodded and thanked him again in a dismissive sort of way. He quickly took his leave, sneezing a few more times as he headed down the hallway.


     Obi-Wan swung by the communications relay station on level 24 on his way back to his quarters to find that they were no significantly closer to fixing the problem, which meant much more use for the padawan learners. By the time he reached his quarters, he'd been outside three more times and was shivering terribly.


     He caught sight of Qui-Gon sitting at the desk on the far side of the common area as he entered. The Jedi Master was surrounded by books, papers, datapads, and chips, and he smiled when he looked up and saw Obi-Wan. "Padawan, I didn't expect you home for another two hours at least." He smiled but the sentiment was brief as he returned to his work immediately.


     Stripping off his cold, soaking wet cloak, Obi-Wan decided that their customary kisses could wait until later. Qui-Gon was so far away and the couch so near. He sat down upon it and in a minute had slouched to the side against the cushions. "I rad idto Baster Widdu, who gave be a bessage," he said tiredly, looking over at his master. Qui-Gon seemed swamped with work and Obi-Wan didn't have the heart to relay the message exactly. "He told be to go hobe to you add rest idstead of fidish by shift."


     Qui-Gon paused, then set the datapad in his hands down on the desktop with a sigh. "He thinks I'm not taking good enough care of you, doesn't he?" Obi-Wan sniffled so he would not be required to answer. Qui-Gon pushed away from the desk, rolling backwards in his chair a foot or so. Then he stretched thoroughly and Obi-Wan thought he could hear a few joints cracking.


     Tired, Obi-Wan's eyes were trying to close, even as he was protesting and digging out the handkerchief again to handle his runny nose, then tucking it back away. "Baster, you dod't--"


     "It's about time I took a break, anyway," Qui-Gon admitted. "And I think Mace might be right."


     Obi-Wan didn't know if Qui-Gon used his Jedi powers or not to help but before he knew it, Qui-Gon was sitting next to him with a steaming hot cup of herbal tea and Obi-Wan's blue blanket. There was a snuggle and the sensation of beard against his cheek, and Obi-Wan found himself grinning despite his cold.


     "Wait," he whispered, as Qui-Gon kissed his forehead tenderly. Obi-Wan turned his head, nose wrinkling, breath hitching. "Bad... tibig..." He fumbled for his handkerchief, unable to get it in time.


     Fortunately, he felt Qui-Gon's handkerchief against his nose and he leaned into his master as his eyes closed. "hehhChuhhh! huhhhSchhhhh!"


     Obi-Wan sighed, feeling the handkerchief gently drying his nose. Qui-Gon kissed Obi-Wan and then rubbed the back of the young man's head. "Fortunately for you, Padawan, I have excellent timing."