The Ondarian Virus

Part 18


This part's rating: G

See part 0 for full header


     Despite the excessive amounts of tweaking, throwing in pinches and dashes of spices at will, the stew was not yet ready. "Ten minutes until mealtime, Obi-Wan. Would you set the table for me?" Qui-Gon called over his shoulder, across their quarters.


     He received no answer, but heard the faint sounds of sneezing from behind the 'fresher door. He waited for them to end before repeating his call. "Yes, Baster!" was the quick reply.


     All day long, Qui-Gon had done his best not to worry as he heard Obi-Wan's congestion return. He had taken Obi-Wan's temperature several times only to find no trace of a fever. And, too, Obi-Wan had insisted he felt well, apart from the almost constant barrage of coughing and sneezing.  Qui-Gon was forced to believe his padawan on the matter, hoping for the honesty and candor they had previously agreed upon.


     Qui-Gon finished the stew and used a pot holder to take the rolls from the oven. Obi-Wan set the table, coughing and sniffling into his shoulder nearly the whole time. "Bring me the bowls and I'll fill them here," Qui-Gon said, gesturing to Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan brought over the bowls, holding them tightly as Qui-Gon filled each with stew and topped it off with a warm roll. "I will get the drinks, you do not need to wait for me to begin eating," Qui-Gon told him. He turned the burner temperature down, letting the remaining stew simmer on the stove for when they wanted second helpings. Then he moved towards the fridge, only half aware of the fact that Obi-Wan was about to sneeze again.


     Obi-Wan, however, was far more aware of the fact. He quickened his pace to the table as his breath caught and his face screwed up. His padawan braid rubbed back and forth on his cheek as the build-up began. He just managed to carefully set one bowl on the table before having to close his eyes and snap a hand up to his face to cover a sneeze. "HIHShuhhhhh! HahhhShahhh! KShuhhhh!"  He felt the stew in the other bowl slosh over the side as he shook from the sneezes. Sensing where the table was, and ignoring the minor burn on his hand from a bit of the stew, he set the second bowl on the table as he gasped for breath before another sneeze. "EhhhKShhhhhh!" He had lifted both hands to his face to cover this sneeze but as he did so, he heard a loud crash just beside him. His hands cupped to his face, and his breath still hitching, Obi-Wan pulled his eyes open and looked down to see the mess of stew and a broken ceramics. "IHPShhhhhh!" He sneezed again, helplessly, unable to attend to the mess right away.


     Qui-Gon, having been startled by the crash, acted at once. He set the drinks on the table, then guided a swaying Obi-Wan to one of the chairs. Then he retrieved a dishrag and a bag to put the pieces of the bowl into.


     "hehh-YIHShhhhhh!" Obi-Wan finished sneezing and hastily rubbed his nose on his sleeve. Then he slid out of his chair and onto the floor at once to help clean up the spilled dinner and apologize profusely. "I ab so sorry, Baster! I should have beed bore careful add codcedtratig odd what I was doig." He sounded close to being on the verge of tears, and Qui-Gon could not remember ever hearing Obi-Wan sound quite like that before. "I'b so sorry!"


     Qui-Gon took a hold of Obi-Wan's hands and kept them still. The last thing he wanted was for Obi-Wan to cut himself. "It is all right, Obi-Wan. I shall take care of it."


     Obi-Wan shook his head. "Do, I broke it. I will clead up." He tried to pull his hands out of Qui-Gon's. "Baster, I'b dot a child. I wod't hurt byself."


     "You already have," Qui-Gon said, running a finger gently over the burn on Obi-Wan's hand at the base of his thumb. Obi-Wan winced. Qui-Gon applied a few healing vibes to the spot and then kissed it softly. "Now go sit down and eat I will take care of this. It is only a bowl, and I made more than enough stew." He stood and guided Obi-Wan into a chair, then bent down and finished cleaning the spill.


     Qui-Gon helped himself to another bowl and sat down across from Obi-Wan at their small table. Instead of eating, Obi-Wan was holding his hands around the bottom of the bowl. "Feeling chilly?" Qui-Gon asked at this. "Or did I over-spice the stew again?"


     Obi-Wan shrugged. "It's dot too bad, actually," Obi-Wan said. "I'b just dot very hudgry." He took his hands off the bowl and ripped a piece off the roll, dipped it in the stew, and ate it.


     Smiling approvingly, Qui-Gon began eating his own. He kept an eye on Obi-Wan, however, who was sneezing more than picking at his food. He talked steadily through dinner, however, discussing various topics with Qui-Gon from current missions going on to the weather. When Qui-Gon finished his helping, he excused himself to get a little more and offered some to Obi-Wan. His bowl still half full, Obi-Wan refused seconds and tried to eat another spoonful.


     "I thought I'd make milkshakes for dessert," Qui-Gon said, sitting down and digging into his stew. "Would you like that?"


     Obi-Wan smiled and nodded, then set to work immediately trying to finish eating. He still had not finished his dinner by the time Qui-Gon finished his second helping, and Obi-Wan shoved his bowl away when Qui-Gon went to clear the table. "I'b sorry," he apologized again. "I'b just dot... hudgry..." He helped himself to several more tissues from the box on the table and pulled back from the table. "hipshhh! ehhhKShhhh! ihhhHshhh!"


     Qui-Gon nodded in understanding and set the dishes in the sink. "Well, perhaps you will feel hungry enough for a milkshake," Qui-Gon said, smiling.


     Looking somewhat relieved to still get dessert having not finished his dinner, Obi-Wan got up. "I will help," he said, moving towards the fridge. But as his hand closed around the handle, his eyes closed and he swayed.


     Qui-Gon caught him before he hit the floor. "Obi?" he called, kneeling on the floor with Obi-Wan's head in his lap. "Can you hear me?"


     It took a moment, but then Obi-Wan stirred and reached up, grabbing hold of Qui-Gon's tunic. "Qui?" he whispered, sounding confused.


     Qui-Gon put his hand to Obi-Wan's forehead. He was suddenly burning up. "I'm right here. You're all right," Qui-Gon soothed. "You *are* all right, aren't you?"


     Obi-Wan rolled onto his side and tightened his grip on Qui-Gon's tunic. Qui-Gon cradled him as Obi-Wan sneezed into his chest. "hahhhTChuhhhh! Sniff! Sniff!"


     Shaking his head, Qui-Gon cuddled Obi-Wan close. "Yes, you are all right." He scooped Obi-Wan up and carried him straight to the bedroom. A stack of pillows, several layers of covers, and a cold compress later, Qui-Gon settled on the bed beside Obi-Wan.


     "I'b so sorry," Obi-Wan whispered. "I kew I wasd't feelig well, sniff, but I did't realize it was so bad... sniff, sniff! Thigs were goig so well... Sniiiiff!"


     "Shhh." Qui-Gon bent and kissed him quiet. "And do stop apologizing, Padawan. None of this is your fault. You're sick." Qui-Gon knew he was more at fault for the matter, having not noticed the signs even after nearly four weeks of being around a sick padawan. He reached up to the box of tissues on their headboard and pulled out a few. He cupped them to Obi-Wan's nose. "Please blow your nose."


     Without the strength to protest, Obi-Wan obeyed and blew his nose. He winced as his ear popped but he kept blowing. Qui-Gon changed the tissues a few times until Obi-Wan had had enough. Obi-Wan shivered and closed his eyes slowly.


     "Stay with me a moment more," Qui-Gon told him, flipping the cloth on Obi-Wan's head over so the cooler side touched the hot forehead. "Tell me what's wrong so I can help. Do you still feel faint?"


     Obi-Wan nodded. "By head feels fuddy. Stuffy add full add heavy. I cad't thidk." He opened his eyes wide, staring up at Qui-Gon apologetically. "I broke a bowl."


     "I know, Love," Qui-Gon said softly, caressing Obi-Wan's cheek. "I cleaned it up. And we have many more bowls."


     "But I liked that ode... oh..." His breath caught. "Qui? HEH-" Qui-Gon pressed another tissue to Obi-Wan's nose. "UHFShhhhh! EHHShuhhh! ehh-EHHChuhh!" His sneezes were strong, and he groaned afterwards. Obi-Wan kept his eyes closed and rubbed hard at the bridge of his nose. "Head aches whed I sdeeze," he murmured, coming as close to an honest complaint as Qui-Gon had yet heard.


     "I can get some medicine to help with that," Qui-Gon told him, wiping Obi-Wan's nose gently.


     Obi-Wan shook his head and reached out, grabbing Qui-Gon's arm. "Dod't go yet. I feel awful."


     "Worse than before?" Qui-Gon asked, already knowing it wasn't worse. Obi-Wan was at least conscious, and he wanted it to stay that way.


     Obi-Wan shrugged. "Baybe you should call Healer Tala? Baybe there's sub herb or something he forgot to bedtiod that would helb? He said to call if I got really bad, rebeber?"


     "I remember," Qui-Gon said, flipping the cloth over again. Then he reached over and switched the vaporizer on. "I went to pick this up at the Healing Dome this morning. Turns out that cold that is going around the temple? Tala's come down with it. He's been relieved of duty until he recovers so he doesn't pass it on to other patients."


     Obi-Wan frowned, looking distressed.


     "It's all right. I'm here. I can take care of you," Qui-Gon soothed. If he needed to, he could always contact another healer and ask for one immune to this particular Ondarian virus, but none of the healers knew them or their conditions even half as well as Tala.


     Obi-Wan smiled. "I dow you cad. I was just worried about Tala. He doesd't have adybody to... to... take care of... h-hib-hah-" The Jedi master was quick with the tissues. "HAHShhhh! Kahshhhh! KChuhh!" He snuffled and blew his nose hard.


     "He would be pleased to hear you are concerned about him," Qui-Gon said. "But he'll be all right. It is just a cold. He can take care of himself."


     Shaking his head knowingly, Obi-Wan said, "Eved *you* deed a little cobfort whed you get sick, Baster."


     Qui-Gon could not deny this. "I will call to check up on him later. But right now, I want to be sure you get the comfort you need." He stuck a few tissues into Obi-Wan's hand and took the cloth from his forehead. "I am going to make this cold again. And get you some water and pills for the headache. If you need to blow your nose while I'm gone, please do. But do try to stay awake for me, all right? You really should take this medicine."


     Obi-Wan nodded obediently, though as soon as Qui-Gon was gone, his eyes fell shut and his breathing slowed. When he wanted to fall asleep it seemed he could not, and likewise when he was trying to stay awake all his body wanted to do was sleep.


     Qui-Gon returned to find Obi-Wan nodding off, and woke him back up. "I'm so sorry, Love. I need you to take this." He eased a pill into Obi-Wan's mouth and followed it with a glass of water until Obi-Wan had swallowed properly. Then he set the cool cloth back on Obi-Wan's hot forehead.


     "Do you deed to take by teberature, Baster?" Obi-Wan asked tiredly. "I... thig I cad... try to stob sdeezig log edough for that."


     Qui-Gon smiled lightly. "No, My Padawan. I know it is higher than it should be. That is enough for now. We will keep your head cool and your body warm and take your temperature later. The medicine may help your fever as well." He took a tissue out of the box and wiped Obi-Wan's nose with it. "So if you need to sneeze, just go right ahead."


     Obi-Wan managed to sniffle and nod. But after a few moments, Obi-Wan seemed to forget what the nodding was for and started looking uncomfortable. He shivered and looked around, as though searching. "I should work od that rebort."


     "Not right now," Qui-Gon said, not wanting to distress Obi-Wan and not wanting to order him, either. He wanted Obi-Wan to feel that he was still capable of deciding what to do, and wanted Obi-Wan to know that Qui-Gon trusted those decisions. "Right now, I have something else for you."


     Obi-Wan looked curious, but his eyes snapped shut quickly and he fell forward with several unrestrained, uncovered sneezes. "HehGGShhhhhh! ehhh-GUHShihhhh! EhhhBShhhhh! KShhhh! KEHShhhh!" He groaned and pressed tissues to his nose, rubbing, wiping. The sneezes had driven out all feelings apart from misery, and he lay there looking dazed and exhausted from the small fit.


     Qui-Gon shed most of his clothing and then slid beneath the covers alongside Obi-Wan. As Obi-Wan snuggled up to him, he passed over a hot water bottle for Obi-Wan to hold onto. Then he stroked Obi-Wan's flushed cheek. It felt like a sauna beneath the covers. Obi-Wan's body was radiating quite a lot of heat, even though the young man was shivering and clenching his teeth so they wouldn't chatter. "I've brought you that milkshake," Qui-Gon said softly, looking down at the face nuzzling into his chest to see the smile appearing upon it. Even half delirious with fever, Obi-Wan knew what a milkshake was.


     He helped Obi-Wan sit up a little, though Obi-Wan seemed plastered to his side. Qui-Gon had no intention to push Obi-Wan away, however, as he wanted to keep the man as warm as possible while Obi-Wan drank the milkshake. "Wait," Obi-Wan said as Qui-Gon brought the milkshake over from the bedside table. "Have to... hafta sdee... ehhhhhh..." he started unsteadily, his face falling and his shoulders rising. "Ehhh-KIHShhhh! HahKShhh! Ehhh-KahShhhh! KUHShhhh!" Nearly all of the sneezes had been directed into Qui-Gon's chest and Obi-Wan cringed at that realization. With the tissues his master had given him still in hand, Obi-Wan rubbed wearily at his nose. He looked up apologetically. "I'b s..." but his words died away at a disapproving look from his master. He cleared his throat. "I'b ready for it dow," he said, correcting himself.


     Qui-Gon's expression softened and he moved the milkshake over, holding it for Obi-Wan. "That's my good lad." Qui-Gon set his hand on Obi-Wan's head, rubbing affectionately. Had he longer hair, it would have been ruffled, but the short buzz was not disturbed much by the rubbing. Qui-Gon tugged on the padawan braid to end the affectionate gesture, then slid his whole arm around Obi-Wan to support the man while he drank.


     By the time Obi-Wan was nodding off again, the milkshake was only half gone. So Qui-Gon finished it off as Obi-Wan fell asleep then and there, half-sitting up against his master and using Qui-Gon's chest as a warm pillow.