The Ondarian Virus

Part 19

 

This part's rating: G/PG

See part 0 for full header

 

     Qui-Gon entered the room with a glass of juice and sat down on the bed. It was now a motion as innate to him as any other after so many days of tending to his sick padawan. With a single smooth gesture, he handed over the glass and took the thermometer out of Obi-Wan's mouth in exchange. As Obi-Wan drank, Qui-Gon held the thermometer up and examined it.

 

     "How is it?" Obi-Wan asked around gulps.

 

     "Much improved," Qui-Gon replied, smiling. There was just a hint of fever now and by both accounts Obi-Wan was feeling much better as well. Obi-Wan said his chills had stopped and his headache was gone. He even said his congestion was better, though that was partly due to the vaporizer that filled the room with moist heat and let him breathe more easily. Qui-Gon saw the change in his padawan as well. His eyes were no longer over bright and his cheeks were no longer flushed against an otherwise pale face. His speech showed he was much more aware of his situation and he no longer had to fight to stay awake, even if sleep came easily to him.

 

     Obi-Wan smiled back and finished up his juice. He handed the glass back and shook his head when Qui-Gon asked if he wanted more.

 

     "Can I do anything more for you?" Qui-Gon asked, rising.

 

     Obi-Wan considered for a moment, apparently having prepared an answer for such a question but feeling unsure about whether to say it or not. "Yes, Master," Obi-Wan replied softly. Hovering beside the bed, Qui-Gon patiently waited for elaboration. "I feel much better today. Well enough to do work in fact. But I do not feel that I should risk wearing myself down so that I get as sick as I was yesterday." Automatically he reached for the tissues, a sneeze on the way.

 

     His nose wrinkled and his brow furrowed as he concentrated on the sensation. "ahh-hahhh... hah-AHShhhh! Hahshhhh!" He blew his nose then sniffed a few times.

 

     "Bless you."

 

     Obi-Wan smiled good-naturedly. "Thank you." He sniffed a little more, then continued. "Still, I miss being a Jedi. I miss our missions, though. I miss the reports and the assignments. I miss the lectures and the assemblies. But most of all I miss the physical parts of it. The moving, the breathing. So I was wondering if I could watch you going through the forms? Like I used to when I was young and could not yet wield a saber or perform most of them." He coughed and cleared his throat. "Of course I will understand if you would rather not..."

 

     Smiling, Qui-Gon shook his head. "I should be glad for the exercise. I miss training with you and I have not been through the full forms in days."

 

     Obi-Wan looked rather relieved that his request had been received so well. He reached out an arm and gathered the tissue box, a pillow, and a few blankets, holding them all with his other arm. Qui-Gon set down the glass in order to scoop Obi-Wan up in his arms. Obi-Wan leaned into him, head on his master's strong upper arm, his arm around Qui-Gon's neck.

 

     Qui-Gon carried him into what had once been Obi-Wan's bedroom and set him gently on the padawan-sized sleep couch there. With a wave of his hand, the lights running the perimeter of the small room lit with a soft, yellow glow. Apart from the small trunk in a corner that had once contained all of Obi-Wan's worldly goods as an initiate, the room bore no resemblance to the one which had once been Obi-Wan's. The sleep couch had been pushed against a wall and beside it was a shelf full of books that did not fit into the shelves in the common room. The facing wall contained a large mirror that stretched the length of the wall but raised off the floor a few feet and came short of the ceiling by the same amount. Thick mats covered the floor, and Qui-Gon pulled off his boots before stepping onto them in his bare feet.

 

     Qui-Gon pulled back his hair into a single ponytail, and then he looked over at Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan was settling into his pillow and blankets, getting comfortable and ready to watch his master go through the forms. As he pulled out several tissues and cupped them to his face, he was glad he was low enough so he did not have to see his reflection in the mirror. He breathed heavily into them, as though about to sneeze at any moment but not quite feeling the urge to.

 

     "Are you sure I cannot get you anything else before I start?" Qui-Gon asked.

 

     Obi-Wan started to shake his head but stopped. He looked up at Qui-Gon imploringly but a bit timidly. It took Qui-Gon a second, but them he melted with a soft smile and sparkling eyes. He undid his belt, then pulled off his outer and under tunics, folding them all neatly beside his boots just off the mat. A bit shyly, Obi-Wan nonetheless grinned in approval.

 

     Qui-Gon shook his head. "You really are far too easy to please, Padawan Mine." He bent over and kissed Obi-Wan in a reassuring sort of way. Then he took his place on the mat.

 

     As he mentally readied himself to begin, he missed Obi-Wan sniffling into the tissues and mouthing 'yes, yours' back to Qui-Gon. Completely out of habit, Obi-Wan breathed deeply in synch with his master, and let his breath out just as slowly.

 

     His throat itched in reaction and he muffled a few coughs into his handful of tissues. As he felt the urge to sneeze rise up, and he rubbed at his nose hard to keep it away, he briefly thought perhaps he should not have asked to watch his master perform the forms. Sneezing while Qui-Gon was deep in concentration would disturbing if not dangerous when it came to the more advanced forms. But once Qui-Gon started, Obi-Wan's hesitation vanished.

 

     Qui-Gon stood up straight and rolled his head to loosen himself up. With another deep breath in through his nose, he lifted his hands, palms out towards Obi-Wan. He exhaled through his mouth and pushed outward in one smooth, controlled motion.

 

     Pinching his nose through a tissue, Obi-Wan watched on longingly. He remembered doing them every morning before and after meditation as an initiate. And he recalled the day when the masters had demonstrated how those movements that had become so natural could be combined to create the basic forms. And those basic forms were the very basis of fighting. They kept the body strong and toned. They kept the mind relaxed but attuned to every movement. They kept a Jedi skilled and ready and let him work with the Force like nothing else.

 

     Obi-Wan could have used such control now, as his nostrils twitched and his breaths raced. He took his eyes off his master, who was still breathing deeply and stretching his arms and legs to loosen up. Obi-Wan squeezed his eyes shut, trying hard not to sneeze. He pressed a finger beneath his nose, applying pressure to his tickling nostrils, but the sneeze remained. His heart jumped with worry, feeling the sensation playing just at the tip of his nose. He refused to disturb Qui-Gon as he'd been the one to suggest this in the first place. But his breath hitched and he fell forward, lips pursed, all his strength going into holding back his sneeze. Unfortunately, in his weakened state, his strength was not enough. "INkk-uhh!" He stifled it as well as he could.

 

     The tickle did not stop at one sneeze, however. As he held his finger against his nose and tried to control his breathing, he pulled tissue after tissue from the box. If sneezes weren't going to do it, he would have to try to quietly blow his nose. "ihh..." he inhaled softly, tensing up in concentration. "EHNgguh! UHShkk!" His head ached as he held them back, and Obi-Wan quickly dropped his hand and buried his nose in the tissues. He blew as quietly as possible, but he looked up and realized Qui-Gon had stopped to watch him. He flushed a little at the reversal of roles and wiped his nose dry. "I tried to hold them back, I really did," Obi-Wan explained.

 

     "I know," Qui-Gon said. "I do not mind you sneezing, Obi-Wan. In fact, it is more disturbing to see you working so hard not to. You could hurt yourself."

 

     Obi-Wan nodded and sniffled into the tissues.

 

     "You are sick. Naturally you will need to sneeze. I knew that when you brought the idea up. It will not bother me to hear, but I want you to promise not to try and restrain them like that, all right?" Obi-Wan nodded again. "And please promise me that you interrupt and let me know if there is something really wrong."

 

     From his spot on the mat, Qui-Gon held up his hand and used the Force to tuck the blanket more tightly around Obi-Wan.

 

     "I... hahh..." Obi-Wan's nose twitched again and he sneezed fully. "huh-CHUHhhhh! Sniff! Sniff! I promise."

 

     Qui-Gon smiled approvingly and closed his eyes with another slow, deep breath. He waited for a moment, reaching out to the Force for guidance. Then he launched into the first basic form. Obi-Wan's eyes followed his master's graceful moves. Arms pushing from one side to the other, guiding the air about him. Form one blended into form two, adding movement in his legs, stepping carefully in familiar patterns. Form three added hand movements, rolling and directing his arms. Kicks accompanied form four, and by the basic form five he his who body was twisting and turning, moving in the beautiful dance of the Jedi.

 

     Vividly, Obi-Wan recalled the joy of seeing this dance for the first time, all spelled out for him in perfection. Even more joyful had been the moment he had first watched his new master perform them for him. He knew every Jedi knew the forms so well they could go through them in their sleep. He knew the basic forms were just that: basic. But the way Qui-Gon worked them filled Obi-Wan with such excitement that he had felt such a compulsion to jump right up and join his master in the dance with the Force.

 

     Similarly, now he was finding it difficult to stay beneath the warm blankets with such a fantastic display before him. Qui-Gon moved seamlessly from the basic forms to the intermediate ones. After that were the advanced and highly advanced forms. The complexity and number per level increased exponentially.

 

     Another need to sneeze struck Obi-Wan just as Qui-Gon was working through one of the most difficult forms. The Jedi Master's chest glistened with perspiration, his eyes were closed peacefully, and his face was firm with concentration. Obi-Wan did not want to take his eyes off it for even a second, but even when he closed his eyes he could still feel the movements through the Force. Fulfilling his promise to his master, Obi-Wan did not make an attempt to hold back his sneezes. However he did muffle them into a mass of tissues to quiet them a little. "ahhhShfff! hahShifff! Ihhh... ehKShhffffffff!"

 

     Obi-Wan sensed absolutely no disturbance in the Force when he sneezed. He looked up to see that Qui-Gon had not even flinched at the disturbance, despite the intense concentration required for that particular routine. He had, however, acknowledged it with a warm glow between their bond. Obi-Wan felt both relieved and comforted, knowing that even when his master was at his deepest level of concentration, he was still connected to Obi-Wan. Their bond was so strong that it could overcome any solo activities. The training katas. The off-world virus. They were still connected with a bond stronger than any of it.

 

     Before Obi-Wan knew what he was thinking, what he was feeling, he realized Qui-Gon had gone beyond the highly advanced forms to one that was all too familiar and far too startling. //Master!// he called through their bond.

 

     Qui-Gon's eyes stayed close, but a gently smile appeared on his face. //Calm, Padawan Mine. And move with me.// The form he had begun was one that could only be performed with two Jedi. It was the most rudimentary of the paired forms, the first one they had ever attempted as Master and Padawan.

 

     //I cannot, Master. I am too weak. I will not be able to support your weight.// Nonetheless, he began to sit up to join in.

 

     Qui-Gon smiled more broadly. //No, Padawan. No need to get up. Just join me in the Force as you were a moment ago. Concentrate on our bond. You will not let me fall.// He came to a natural pause in the movement, balancing on one foot in order to open his eyes and look over at Obi-Wan. //Through what we are, you have all the strength you need for this.//

 

     Trusting his master, Obi-Wan closed his eyes and followed his master's lead back into the Force. He forgot his itchy throat and tickling nose. He forgot that he was still lying on his old sleep couch. In his mind and in the Force he joined Qui-Gon on the mat and began the paired form from the beginning, intending to catch up to his master's spot. He was unsteady at first, but felt Qui-Gon helping to guide him, taking his hand and moving with him until it was time their movements countered each others' like a mirror instead of like a shadow. Obi-Wan faltered for a moment as he felt his feet leave the floor.

 

     His stomach jumped with nerves he had not felt since his first year as a padawan. But Qui-Gon soothed him and urged him on. Refusing to let his master down, Obi-Wan concentrated on the form and on his master. The part of him that felt the need to be back to his usual Jedi ways burst out of him and allowed him to perform the paired kata.

 

     He opened his eyes at the most critical moment, surprised to realize he was still on the sleep couch. His grip on the Force was firm, though, and he locked his gaze with Qui-Gon's as though they were moving together as always. As they completed the form, with Qui-Gon safely back on the ground with his body coming to a slow rest, they smiled at each other. "I did not realize that was possible," Obi-Wan said softly.

 

     "I had heard it was," Qui-Gon said. They always kept a small pile of towels at the side of the room and Qui-Gon retrieved one, dabbing it to his brow and to his chest. "I had never before tried. I had never even dreamed of trying. Though somehow it suddenly felt right. It was almost as though I could feel your hands steadying me as I moved. And when you were to flip over my back, I could nearly feel the breeze in the air around me as though you really were moving." Qui-Gon sat down on the floor beside the low couch, his legs crossed and his hand upon one of Obi-Wan's. "I knew you would not let me fall."

 

     Obi-Wan beamed with pride. "Thank you for our bond, Master."

 

     Qui-Gon started to reach up to caress Obi-Wan's cheek, but Obi-Wan pulled away as he sat up, feeling the need to sneeze again. He breathed deeply, and cupped tissues to his nose as his face fell. He did not need to stifle them this time. "EhKUSHH! IhhhKShhhh! HEHShhhh! EHSH!" He blew his nose hard and opened his eyes.

 

     Sitting upright, he was tall enough to catch his reflection in the mirror across the room from him. He saw his slightly bloodshot eyes and his more than slightly red nose. Though he did not have a fever, he still looked a bit peaked as well as plainly exhausted. "Sith!" he exclaimed, running his hand over his stubbly chin and then over his hair which, though it was short, still looked messy. "Qui, why did you not tell me how dreadful I look?"

 

     Qui-Gon reached up again and brushed his hand against Obi-Wan's cheek on its way to pressing against Obi-Wan's neck. It was hot from the workout yet tender. His eyes were locked on Obi-Wan's again, and a reminder of the motions they had just helped each other through was communicated through their bond. "Because you still look wonderful to me."

 

     Obi-Wan looked away in embarrassment, though instinctively he turned his head towards his master's hand. Qui-Gon caught Obi-Wan with a soft kiss, guiding the young man's head back into place, then following it with a more involved kiss. "Qui..." he protested, his cheeks flushed. "I'm..."

 

     "You're much improved," Qui-Gon whispered, giving him another kiss. "And quite kissable." He kissed again, crushing the younger man's lips beneath his own until Obi-Wan gave into it completely and relaxed. "And a stronger Jedi Padawan I have never known." He wrapped his arms around Obi-Wan, who immediately hugged back.