The Ondarian Virus
This part's rating: G? (PG for snuggling?)
See part 0 for full header
Additional Notes: Thank you to Lady Korana for her advice regarding some of the technical aspects of the medical parts here!
Qui-Gon gripped the steering column as they began descent. He stole a glimpse at Obi-Wan who was curled up in his seat with an arm wrapped around his legs. His other hand pinched his nose tightly as his cheeks inflated. With the pressurizing technology in the ship, there was normally little need to clear one's ears, but Obi-Wan's congestion seemed to increase that need. And though his ears seemed to be bothering him, Obi-Wan looked pleased to finally be at the end of their journey.
He could not possibly be as relieved as Qui-Gon, however, who had not truly slept in days. Even after the overnight stop on the space station, his worry over his padawan had never been stronger.
The ship touched down softly on a landing pad. Both men sighed quiet sighs once the ship became still. Pausing in the rubbing of one ear, Obi-Wan handed his master's cloak over. On their trip home he had used it as a pillow as much as a blanket. Qui-Gon slipped it on without a word towards its wrinkles and gathered their bags as Obi-Wan seemed in no condition to do anything but curl up in bed.
But the now was not the time for that, as they climbed out of the small ship and spotted a figure walking up onto the pad to greet them. The green robes were immediately recognizable. Obi-Wan groaned and looked up at Qui-Gon. He was standing close to his master for warmth on the windy landing pad, and Qui-Gon's arm was around his shoulders. And he rubbed at his ear, which was still bothering him from the pressure change when landing. "I thought I said I did not need to visit the healers."
"You said that, yes," Qui-Gon nodded. "But I had a bit of time to think on the way home while you were unconscious with a fever and I decided not to currently trust you on matters of health."
Obi-Wan looked up at his master in mild annoyance but was unable to say anything as Tala approached them. "Qui-Gon!" he called out warmly, pulling down his hood despite the wind on the platform. He embraced the Jedi Master, then did the same to Obi-Wan. "I hear you're not feeling so well, Obi-Wan" he said, clapping the younger man. He studied Obi-Wan's face as he began to walk beside him.
"I cannot imagine who you heard that from," Obi-Wan mumbled sarcastically.
"Now, now," Tala said, clucking his tongue. "That's not a very Jedi-like attitude, even if you are sick."
Obi-Wan lifted his hand and rubbed at his nose. "Right now I'm not feeling very Jedi-lih-like." He forced himself to finish quickly and covered the lower half of his face by cupping both hands to it. "huh... hahh-IHShhhhh! hehhKUHshhhh! hihhKishhhhh!" His handkerchiefs used up and his hands wet, Obi-Wan froze in embarrassment trying to decide if he should wipe his nose on his sleeve or not.
Tala came to the rescue, however, having brought along a handkerchief just for Obi-Wan. He stuffed it into the Jedi padawan's hands and looked away politely as Obi-Wan cleaned himself off and blew his nose.
Not a second after he finished, however, did his nose begin to tickle again. "ehhh..." he gasped, instinctually leaning into Qui-Gon for comfort. "hihhhKShffff!" He snapped forward, nose buried in the handkerchief. "hehhShuhhh! Hihhh-KShuhhhh! Kihshhhh!" He rubbed his nose and lifted his head with a weak smile on his face. "My ear finally cleared," he said with a laugh.
Qui-Gon hugged him close with a laugh to match.
The effort of sneezing had made him feel lightheaded, and Obi-Wan was very glad for the two arms, one on each side, supporting him as they walked off the pad and into the temple. He wasn't the least bit surprised when the Jedi Master and the healer steered him towards the healing dome instead of towards his and Qui-Gon's quarters. And he did not have the energy left to protest.
He was taken around to the back entrance, however, bypassing the waiting area and being ushered straight into one of the examination rooms. "Take off your cloak and tunics and then hop up onto the table," Tala instructed, gesturing towards the metal examination table. Obi-Wan, feeling sniffly, instead made for the tissue box which sat on the counter. "Ah-ah!" Tala corrected him, taking Obi by the shoulders and directing him to the table. Tala picked up the box of tissues and set it down on Obi-Wan's lap. "There you are. Yours now. Happy early Name Day."
Obi-Wan rolled his eyes but nonetheless quickly pulled a few tissues out of the box and blew his nose fully into them. Then he set his mind to the task of undressing as he'd been asked. It wasn't as though the sniffles which currently plagued his nose made it difficult, simply that they were symbolic of how weak, tired, and sick he felt. And so Obi-Wan appreciated it greatly when Qui-Gon hopped up onto the table as well and helped him strip off his top layers of clothing. Then Qui-Gon wrapped his arms around the younger man to keep him warm before the examination.
"Do you need anything else before we start?" Tala asked, tearing open the wrapping around a thermometer.
Obi-Wan shrugged and rubbed a tissue at his nose. "I'm a little thirsty," he confessed.
Tala rolled a tall stool up in front of them and perched on it, legs spread. "I'm going to take your temperature first," he told Obi-Wan. "Then I'll get you something nice to drink. But you're going to need to keep from sneezing while the thermometer is in, all right?"
Obi-Wan nodded obediently, then held up a finger to signal he wanted Tala to wait a moment. He pulled a few more tissues out of the box and lifted a handful to his nose for a few hearty blows before he deemed himself ready for his temperature to be taken. Qui-Gon sat back a little, not wanting to interfere or, worse yet, be told off by the healer for doing so.
Tala slipped the thermometer in, then patted Obi-Wan's head. "How long have you been feeling sick?" the healer asked, looking at Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan looked at Qui-Gon to ask for help answering. "He woke up a bit sniffly the day we left," Qui-Gon explained. "That was three days ago." Tala nodded, taking it in.
"So in the way of symptoms...?" Tala said, shining a light into each of Obi-Wan's ears, then into his nose, which made Obi-Wan sniffle more. "Sneezing and congestion, obviously. But sounds and looks relatively all right," he said, peeking at the tissues in Obi-Wan's hand. "Sore throat? Coughing?" Obi-Wan nodded a little. "How about a headache?" Obi-Wan nodded again. "Blurred vision?" Obi-Wan thought a moment, then shook his head. "Dizziness, fatigue?" Obi-Wan nodded again. "Which? Both?" Another nod. He was getting tired of nodding, but at least the constant stream of questioning was keeping him awake. "How's your stomach? Any nausea?" Obi-Wan shrugged slightly and held up his hand. There was a sliver of space between his thumb and forefinger. "Just a tiny bit, then?" Tala guessed. Obi-Wan nodded and rubbed again at his nose. Tala waited for him to finish before reaching up and feeling the sides of Obi-Wan's face and neck to check for swollen lymph nodes. Then he checked his watch and slid the thermometer out from Obi-Wan's mouth. "And we can add a rather high temperature to the list, too." He stroked Obi-Wan's forehead gently, finding it quite hot and damp. Then he smiled reassuringly. "Let me get you a nice warm drink, all right?" Obi-Wan nodded and rubbed miserably at his runny nose which had not liked him for breathing through it for so long.
Tala stood and caught Qui-Gon's gaze. With a nod of his head, he motioned for Qui-Gon to resume his warm embrace in the meantime. And his questioning stare asked if Qui-Gon desired a beverage as well. Qui-Gon did not, but he did wrap his arms around his padawan and hugged him close again.
When Tala returned with a glass of hot cider, it was to find Obi-Wan burrowing into his master's robes. They were dwarfed by the rows and rows of cabinets on both sides. In fact, they were sitting so close together that an unknowing visitor walking in might think there was just one person in the large, white room. But a slightly longer look would easily reveal the movements of each man, and the fact that the sick one was sneezing again. "HihhShfff! hehShfff! hihKufffffff!" Obi-Wan snuffled into his tissues while Qui-Gon gave Tala an apologetic look.
Having seen far worse in his life, Tala waved it off casually. "Here you are, Obi-Wan," Tala said. Obi-Wan rubbed his nose dry then pulled away from Qui-Gon to carefully accept the mug. He drank nearly all at one time, then handed the mug to Qui-Gon so Tala could finish the examination.
Tala inspected Obi-Wan's throat, then listened closely to his heart and to his breaths. "Just one last thing," Tala said, patting Obi's thigh reassuringly before hopping back up. "I need a small blood sample." Obi-Wan nodded and volunteered his left arm. Tala returned and smiled approvingly at him. After swabbing and drawing a bit of blood, he disappeared down the hall towards the laboratory.
Qui-Gon helped Obi-Wan on with his clothes, then handed the mug back over for Obi-Wan to finish it. Obi-Wan shivered and leaned against Qui-Gon with a yawn. "You didn't have to call him. It's just a cold."
"I know," Qui-Gon sighed, hugging Obi-Wan to him. Qui-Gon could sense that his padawan was tense and did not believe this was just a cold, no matter what he said. He tried to keep his tone light and relaxing. "But I've called him over less, haven't I? I just want to be sure that you're all right." Obi-Wan nodded in understanding and closed his eyes as Qui-Gon began stroking his head gently, comfortingly.
Obi-Wan shivered a little and his nose twitched with the need to sneeze again. He helped himself to another two tissues, having tucked the used ones into his pockets. "hihhh... ihhhh-HIHKShffff! hehhKShuffff! ehhhKShhhhhh!" he sneezed weakly. Qui-Gon continued to pet him not a moment later, as though nothing had transpired. "I just want to... sniff, sniff, to get into bed and go to sleep," he sighed.
"As soon as we get the results of the blood work, I'm sure you'll be able to go right home." He kissed the top of Obi-Wan's head, then stopped petting and held his cool hand against the younger man's hot forehead. "And you'll be getting right into bed and staying there until you're better if I have anything to say about it."
A bit of the tension in Obi-Wan's shoulders melted away. "If I do have to stay here, though, will you stay with me?" he asked timidly.
"I certainly will," Qui-Gon reassured him. Obi-Wan was usually not this needy. But then again, Qui-Gon was usually not this worried. When it came to his padawan's health, even Qui-Gon Jinn could not find calming peace through the force. He hugged Obi-Wan closer as the younger man sniffled.
"Even if Tala says you--"
Qui-Gon cut him off. "I'll stay. Overnight. For days, whatever it takes. I'll stay with you."
Tala came back into the room, looking somewhat crestfallen and pensive. "Qui-Gon, may I see you in the other room, please?"
Obi-Wan instinctively clung to his master. It was almost as though Tala had been listening at the door and knew just what they did not want to hear. "I'm staying here," Qui-Gon insisted. "Whatever you have to say, you can say it in front of Obi. Whatever you need me for--"
And Tala cut Qui-Gon off. "What I need is for you to come with me to the other room." He sighed in frustration as his deep green eyes bore into Qui-Gon's.
Understanding, Qui-Gon pried Obi-Wan off and hopped off the table. "I'll be right back," he said softly. "I'm not leaving the center, I'll just be next door for a moment. If you need anything, just give me a call. Okay?" Obi-Wan nodded. Qui-Gon pulled off his cloak and folded it over a few times for a pillow. Then he eased Obi-Wan down and kissed the top of his head again. "I'll be right back."
Obi-Wan hugged the tissue box to his chest and nodded. Then he closed his eyes again and tried to go to sleep, stretched out on the uncomfortably straight and cold examination table.
After walking Qui-Gon to examination room next door, Tala closed the door behind them. Before Qui-Gon could even ask what was wrong with Obi, Tala gestured towards the table in this room. "Hop up and roll up your sleeve, Qui-Gon." After a few seconds more of Tala's no-nonsense look, Qui-Gon obeyed. "It's nothing terrible. I just want to be sure you're not infected or a transmitter. You remember that long list of symptoms we ran through a few minutes ago?" Qui-Gon nodded. "Don't have any of those, do you?"
Qui-Gon thought for a moment, then shook his head. "I'm feeling a bit tired, but I think that's from the trip. I didn't get much sleep since Obi-Wan couldn't switch off with me, and I was far too worried to really sleep. But other than that, I feel perfectly fine." Tala looked somewhat relieved at this, and Qui-Gon spoke quickly, "Tala, what is going on here?"
Tala retrieved another syringe. He sensed the vein in Qui-Gon's arm and drew a bit of blood. "I'm sure you're fine," Tala said, pressing a bit of gauze to Qui-Gon's arm. "I just want to be thorough. Please remain here until I return."
Qui-Gon nodded. Despite Tala's mild reassurances, he was still worried. If it was bad enough for Tala to have to take blood samples, it must be worse than he was letting on. Qui-Gon was quite familiar with the concept of being reassuring and calm on the outside to hide the anxiety.
Qui-Gon took a deep breath and closed his eyes, letting the breath out slowly. He tried to reach out to the force for support, trusting that it would not have brought them this far if it was that serious. It was just a cold, like his padawan kept saying.
He could sense Obi-Wan in the next room, shivering, alone, and uncertain. Qui-Gon could tell when Obi-Wan needed to sneeze again, as well. And he could faintly hear the sneezes through the wall. "hehhShhh! ihhhShhuhh! ihhKShuhhh! Shuhhh!" Obi-Wan wasn't sitting up and wasn't covering his nose. Before he realized he had even jumped down, Qui-Gon had crossed the room, opened the door, and walked towards Obi-Wan.
"Qui!" Tala called from down the hall, freezing Qui-Gon in place. "And you a Jedi Master," he said, clucking and shaking his head. He walked over and patted Qui-Gon's back. "It's all right. I'm ready and we can go back in now."
Obi-Wan did not sit up when they entered. He opened his eyes briefly and smiled, but then shook when more sneezes struck him. "HIHhhhShhhhh! EhhhKShffff!" He caught the second one in a tissue but hadn't reached quickly enough for the first.
"Arnup'tchow," Tala blessed him, pulling the stool over again.
Qui-Gon sat back down on the table, slipping his thigh beneath Obi-Wan's head and draping his cloak over Obi-Wan again. Obi-Wan snuggled into his master, glad he was back.
"So there's a mess of good and bad news here," Tala said. "The most important good part is that what you've got is an Ondarian virus that is their equivalent of a cold. Luckily, I'm immune and Qui-Gon's species seems to have a documented immunity as well. I checked to be sure he couldn't be a carrier and things look good. The bad news is that there's no actual cure or treatment. But it's not fatal and will go away on its own."
"That is good," Qui-Gon said, trying to play that part up rather than the part where there was no treatment. As he sat listening, he massaged Obi-Wan's neck and shoulder. Obi-Wan lay sniffling into a tissue and trying to stay awake.
"During the course of the illness, your symptoms will vary from day to day. Some days you might feel better than others."
"HIHShhfffff! HEHKShfffff! Ihhhkshffffff!" Obi-Wan scrubbed at his nose. Qui-Gon pulled out a fresh tissue and rubbed it at Obi-Wan's nose for him.
"Today seems to be one of those others," Tala observed. Then he lapsed back into his explanation to get it over with quickly. "Now this virus is quite contagious, so I'm afraid you will need to stay in your quarters for the duration of the illness, whether you start feeling better or not. All right?"
Obi-Wan nodded a little, and Qui-Gon gave a firmer nod. "How long might it last?" inquired Qui-Gon.
"Well, the good news is that there is a fixed length, much like a forty-eight hour bug. The bad news is... this virus' lifespan within its host is a month."
"A month!" Obi-Wan exclaimed. Both sets of eyes of the Jedi master and padawan were wide. "You mean I'm going to be sick like this for seven whole weeks?"
Tala shook his head. "No, actually!" He laughed nervously. "This is an Ondarian Virus, so the time period is an Ondarian month. So instead of thirty-five days it will actually only be thirty."
"Thirty?" repeated Obi-Wan incredulously. That was hardly any better than thirty-five. Six standard weeks instead of seven.
"Thirty," Tala confirmed with a nod. He stood up and took both men's duffle bags. "Some of the usual steps to take care of a normal cold and a fever will make you more comfortable. And Qui-Gon, you'll need to shower or at least wash your hands and change your clothes before leaving your quarters. This virus is quite contagious. But there's no reason to keep you here at the center. I'll walk you over to your quarters and give you the rest of the details along the way."
Almost preferring a night in the stiff beds here to the idea of such a long-lasting cold, Obi-Wan nonetheless rose and found himself supported by both tall men. He clutched his master's cloak around him and carried the box of tissues with him as well, just in case.