The Ondarian Virus
This part's rating: PG
See part 0 for full header
The bed was still empty when Qui-Gon returned to their bedroom. Obi-Wan had taken seriously the previous day's directive from Qui-Gon about relaxing. As he had little-to-no experience in the matter, he had begun with a simple healing trance which he worked at for much of the morning. It had not done much good, however, as he'd had to stop to sneeze every time he got to a deep enough state. After that, he had performed some katas to try to center himself and stay awake at the same time. By stage four of form two, however, Obi-Wan had felt quite winded and allowed himself to stop.
Qui-Gon had suggested simply sleeping but Obi-Wan's sneezes had prevented him from doing much of that, as well. He found himself rubbing at his sniffly, itchy nose more than not. Every time he tried to fall asleep, sneezes seized him. Even one sneeze took one a considerable amount of energy. He had to get a tissue and cover his face. His whole face screwed up in concentration and his body tensed up. After the sneeze, he usually felt the need to blow his nose as much as possible in hopes that it would hold off the next sneezes a little bit longer. And by then, he had concentrated so much on the sneeze that he wasn't able to fall to sleep at all. Unable to give up on the task of relaxing, he turned back to meditation, hoping to reach a place deep within the force where his symptoms were not so much of a bother.
Pausing at the doorway to their bedroom for a moment, Qui-Gon now found Obi-Wan sitting on the floor, leaning back against the end of the bed. Qui-Gon considered backing off, not wanting to interrupt the meditation. But he knew Obi-Wan's nose was runny and throat was scratchy, and he did want to help. So Qui-Gon walked silently into the room, then sat gracefully on the floor at the foot of the bed with his legs folded under him. He closed his eyes and reached out to Obi-Wan over their bond, bringing the man back. It took a few minutes, but both Jedi finally opened their eyes at the same time. "I brought you another cup of tea," Qui-Gon said, handing the mug over.
"Thag you," Obi-Wan said, sounding terribly stuffy. It had been a while since he had blown his nose thoroughly, and it showed. Earlier in the day he declared that trying to clear his nose was a futile endeavor and Qui-Gon had told him not to worry about it. If they needed to, they could always communicate telepathically. Still, Obi-Wan made sure a box of tissues was never out of reach.
Obi-Wan took a small sip of the tea, letting it sit in his mouth a moment before swallowing. He considered it a moment, but before he could inquire, Qui-Gon answered, "I put a little lemon in it this time. Thought you might like something different."
Obi-Wan gave a grateful smile and drank a little more. The steam made his nose twitch a little, and he tightened his grip on the mug so as not to spill it when the sneezes shook him. "hihhhh..." His body tensed, and his nostrils twitched. Then his eyes quickly snapped shut and he sneezed. "HEHHShhhh! HahhKShhh! HuhhTchhh!"
"Bless you." Qui-Gon gently eased the cup out of Obi-Wan's hands and held it for him.
After pulling one, two, then three tissues out of the box, Obi-Wan blew his nose a few times. It was still stuffy afterwards, but it was also starting to look a little pink at the tip and the nostrils. And from the way he winced when he blew, it was starting to hurt from too much attention. "You dod't hab to say bless you every tibe," he said, balling up the tissues and tossing them at the trash can. "If you do, you'll lose your voice by the edd of this."
Qui-Gon smiled and handed the tea back. "I don't say it every time. Just when the mood strikes. Or when you look like you could use it."
Obi-Wan looked back at him with soft, sad eyes. "Add you thought I could use it thed?"
Qui-Gon nodded. He moved over and wrapped an arm around Obi-Wan's shoulders. "Was I right?" Obi-Wan nodded back and put his head on Qui-Gon's shoulder as he drank more. "So how is relaxing going? Got the hang of it yet?"
Obi-Wan shrugged and sniffed from his runny nose. "I'b dot feelig very relaxed yet. I bead, I've beed beditatig add... sniff! Sniff! Sniiiiiff!" He sighed deeply and shook his head. "Ruddy dose... hold od." Then he pulled out a few more tissues and tried to blow his nose again. There was a soft gurgling sound but the blowing did not seem to do anything else for his nose. He held a tissue up to his nose. //Master, I've been meditating, but I keep sneezing. My nose just won't stop bothering me. It's not very relaxing.// He sighed deeply and leaned back against the end of the bed, tissues in one hand and the tea in the other.
As though proving his point, Obi-Wan felt the need to sneeze again. His shoulders raised and he leaned forward. Tightening the grip of the tissue against his nose, Obi-Wan readied himself to keep steady when the sneezes struck. His breaths were shallow and shaky, and his nose and eyebrows twitched as the sneeze came upon him. With all the energy that he was taking to prepare for the sneeze and draw it out, he was completely unable to divert any towards staying relaxed or meditating. "hehhhhh..." He closed his eyes. "hahhh-Ihhhhhh... hah-" He pulled back a little as he took an involuntary breath. "hahhh-IKShhuffff!" His shoulders shook as he tried to hold himself back from snapping in half at the waist. "hehhh-KShhfff! KChffff!" He gave a half-hearted blow into the tissues and then sighed, leaning back against the bed again.
Qui-Gon kissed Obi-Wan's cheek. "Well then, if meditating isn't working and you can't manage to fall asleep, I'll just have to help you learn how to relax." His words were hot breaths against Obi-Wan's neck and face. //Close your eyes,// Qui-Gon commanded, not needing the power of suggestion to get Obi-Wan to obey. Qui-Gon pulled out a few fresh tissues and switched them with the used ones in Obi-Wan's hand. //And if you must sneeze, just sneeze.// Qui-Gon moved closer and put a hand on Obi-Wan's side, his fingers caressing the satiny sleep shirt. //Just concentrate on my touch. Let nothing else bother you.//
With a nod that said he would try, Obi-Wan took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Qui-Gon's hand slid up to Obi-Wan's shoulders and rubbed. "Mmmph..." Obi-Wan leaned forward a bit as Qui-Gon nudged him to do so. This gave Qui-Gon room between Obi-Wan and the end of the bed to reach around and massage both of the young man's shoulders. Qui-Gon squeezed the shoulders slowly but steadily, applying pressure with his thumbs on one side, four fingers on the other side, and his palm pressing down on the top of Obi-Wan's shoulders.
Obi-Wan began swaying a little in time to the massages. But then his breath caught and his nostrils twitched. He stiffened and brought the tissues to his nose, trying to be ready. But Qui-Gon gave a soft grunt of disapproval. One hand continued massaging at the now tense shoulders while the other slid down Obi-Wan's arm and lowered his hand. //No need to be mindful of your sneezes. Let them come. Blow your nose afterwards if you must.//
Obi-Wan nodded. He tried to force his shoulders to sag and tried to ignore the tickle building in his nose. And when the urge finally worked into a sneeze and seized him, he did not fight it when it tossed him forward. "HAHShhhhh! HehhhKChhhhh! ihhh-IhhhhKShhhhh!" Obi-Wan sneezed freely. He snuffled a little into the tissues afterwards, drying his nose.
//Well handled, my Padawan,// Qui-Gon said, kissing the back of Obi-Wan's neck. //You have always been a quick learner.// He sent something warm and comforting through their training bond and resumed massaging with both hands on Obi-Wan's shoulders. Sometimes his hands moved inwards, thumbs rubbing at the back of the young man's neck and base of his head.
After a few moments of this, Obi-Wan's head began to bow down as the relaxing sensation swept through him. //Breathe deeply,// Qui-Gon instructed. //Think only of my touch.// Obi-Wan did as told, concentrating on the massages, not upon the tickles plaguing his nose. Still he sniffled, but they were small automatic sniffles. The rest of his body slipped into gentle relaxation.
Qui-Gon smiled, sensing this change slowly coming over his padawan. "Is this helping, then?" Qui-Gon asked, knowing the answer and knowing how Obi-Wan would answer.
Obi's head bobbed up and down slowly, and Qui-Gon moved his hands to work all his fingers against the back of the young man's neck. "It... ohhh... it helbs a little," Obi-Wan said, reveling in the pleasures of the massage.
"Just a little?" teased Qui-Gon, pressing his fingers harder into Obi-Wan's shoulders now. "I shall just have to work harder, then." His hands traveled down, kneading hard circles into the padawan's back. //Deep breaths, now. In... Out...// Qui-Gon stepped him through, it, his own breaths falling into sync with Obi-Wan's.
Obi-Wan sighed deeply. The tension in his back melted out and he went limp. Qui-Gon was careful to keep him from simply falling right over, but especially kept close watch on the cup of tea in Obi-Wan's hand. The padawan's grip loosened and the cup tilted little by little. "Watch the tea," the Jedi master reminded his padawan. Obi-Wan's grip on the mug tightened.
But as Qui-Gon's massages continued, Obi-Wan relaxed more, leaning and swaying with the touches then breathing in time to them. The cup began to tilt again, and then slip. Qui-Gon's hand slid down Obi-Wan's arm and closed over Obi-Wan's just as the tea might have spilled. Obi-Wan corrected himself, tightening his grip, then looked back with a sheepish smile. "I'b sorry."
"No," Qui-Gon said, kissing Obi-Wan's jawbone, then his cheek. "No, that is all right. Relaxing is exactly what you were supposed to do." He took the mug and set it down. Then he scooped Obi-Wan up in his arms and carried him to the bed. Obi-Wan rolled onto his stomach and sighed as he snuggled into the cool pillow and blankets. "And how are you now?" asked Qui-Gon, climbing onto the bed and straddling the young man.
Obi-Wan nodded and sighed again as Qui-Gon began massaging again. His master's strong hands began at the base of his spine and worked up his back in small circles. The motions pushed the tension right out. "If you could just do this forever, I defiditely thig I could get used to relaxig," Obi-Wan said, sounding sleepy.
His breath caught not a moment later, indicating that another sneeze was on its way. But this time, Obi-Wan barely flinched at the idea of its arrival. Instead of screwing up, his face went slack and his body limp. He did not even lift his head but instead kept his cheek pressed into the pillow as he sneezed unrestrainedly. "ihhhTChhhhhh! hahh-HahhhKShhhh!"
"Bless you," Qui-Gon whispered not so much in sympathy but in approval. He followed it with a sensation through their bond that let Obi-Wan know he had acted properly. Qui-Gon pulled a few tissues out of the box and touched them gently to Obi-Wan's nose. "Do you need to blow, or are you all right?"
"All right," Obi-Wan muttered, his eyelids feeling heavy. //If you keep doing this, I may just fall asleep, Master.//
Qui-Gon smiled. He lay down on top of Obi-Wan's back, careful not to put much pressure on the man. He massaged one shoulder then gave Obi-Wan a soft kiss. //Is there some reason you shouldn't sleep?//
A smile and shake of his head was Obi-Wan's answer. He closed his eyes and took another slow, deep breath without needing to be told to do so. Qui-Gon sat back up and continued the massage until he was sure Obi-Wan was asleep. And then he stayed by Obi-Wan's side for a little longer to watch his padawan sleep restfully. Obi-Wan did not quite have the hang of relaxing yet, but by the end of the second week Qui-Gon was confident the young man would have this down to an art.