Title: A Watched Pot

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Star Wars

Rating: G, O/Q preslash

Disclaimer: GL, not me. Blame my muses but don't pay me or sue me, please.

Summary: see the bunny for the weekly hatching #49: After years of being the carer, it's Qui-Gon's turn to be looked after by Obi-Wan. He struggles between maintaining his composure as a Jedi Master and using it as an opportunity to teach Obi-Wan to accept illness gracefully, rather than to fight it or hide it unnecessarily.

Notes: Okay... I was *trying* to get a little deeper with this fic. There's a half dozen ideas all whirling around in their various complexities. It would really make my day if someone actually understood the big one I was going for- I really tried hard to make it show through but it's hard to know if that actually worked. I apologize profusely if the result was a curmudgeon mess of themes.



A Watched Pot

     His concentration focused on the datapad before him, Obi-Wan sifted through his messages. However he found nothing of much importance. Frequently his master left him messages of tasks to be done and he was always eager to do all that was expected of him, especially with evaluations coming up. But there was no message there from Qui-Gon and nothing at all related to his work as a Jedi. Nothing from any of the other masters and nothing from his professors, even. He had a little bit of work still to do to prepare for a mission he and Qui-Gon were going on later that week so he set his mind on that. So engrossed in his work was he that he barely noticed the sound of the door opening and the familiar footsteps.


     Surprised, he looked up to see Qui-Gon. But he caught himself before blurting out 'You're home early' after deciding that was a silly and obvious thing to state. He should have been paying better attention and sensing his master, anyway. So, instead, he smiled and said. "Welcome home" as naturally as possibly, though he was teeming with curiosity. No matter how glad he was to see his master, he was suspicious to find Qui-Gon home.


     "Thank you, Padawan," Qui-Gon replied huskily. He cleared his throat a few times but that seemed to make little difference as his voice was still deep and rough. Then, before Obi-Wan exploded with his curiosity, Qui-Gon explained. "I began to feel a bit poorly." Obi-Wan instantly looked concerned, so Qui-Gon clarified. "It is merely an itchy throat and a case of the chills. But still I excused myself from my duties for the day and went to the healers." As he spoke, he dug a handkerchief out of his pocket. When he stopped speaking, he turned to the side and held the handkerchief up into place. "uhhhh-Uhfshooo! And there are some sneezes."


     Obi-Wan cocked his head and watched. He sensed no restraint and no hesitation from his master. When Obi-Wan fell ill he always worked up until the very last moment, pushing himself far too hard, hiding his illness as best he could, and then regretting it later. But Qui-Gon seemed open with his malady. Of course, Qui-Gon did not need to worry about being evaluated and tested constantly, either.


     "I'm afraid I've caught a bit of a cold," Qui-Gon admitted honestly. His breath caught and he aimed again at his raised handkerchief. "huhh-UHShoo! Effshooo!"


     Obi-Wan watched his master sneeze, knowing that Qui-Gon had noticed him watching. His master moved more slowly than normal as he took off his outer robe and hung it on a hook by the door. He looked as though it took a considerable amount of effort to walk across the room towards Obi-Wan. Never having seen a Jedi master sick before, Obi-Wan found the scene intriguing. Though he did look sick in all the typical ways, he still had an air of nobility to him and good control over all he did, even sneezing. It was a far cry from how Obi-Wan looked and felt when he was sick.


     Before today, he had not even imagined Jedi masters could get sick. With their incredible command of the force, it seemed strange that they could catch something as minor as a cold.


     "It happens, sometimes," said Qui-Gon, clearly knowing his padawan's thoughts. "Even healing trances cannot get rid of... of every..." His lower lip quivered and his gentle eyes closed. "Everything- uhhh-Chushhhhh!" He sneezed again, wetly, missing his handkerchief halfway and catching it against his hand. But he simply refolded the handkerchief, wiping his hand discretely in the process. But he did not groan or complain, as Obi-Wan had expected.


     Complaining was second-nature to Obi-Wan when sick. No matter how well he tried to handle a cold, it always got the better of him. When it got to the point where he could not fight against it, he could not help but moan and groan at the fact that it overpowered him. Then all he could think of was how much he wanted it gone and how he wanted to feel better. And for all his abilities, what made him feel better was to act needy and attach himself to Qui-Gon and let his master care for him properly.


     "Please excuse my sneezes. I meant to pick up a box of tissues on the way home," Qui-Gon realized. "But I must admit after seeing the healers the only thought in my mind was to get myself home and into bed at once." He coughed and raised the small bag in his hand. "They gave me some herbs to put in my tea to help my temperature and my other symptoms."


     Realizing that his master looked far too exhausted to fix himself tea, Obi-Wan walked over to him and took the bag at once. "I will brew you some immediately." He set the bag down on the kitchen counter, then reached over to the paper and pencil to scribble notes. "And I'll go out to pick up some tissues for you. And soup, too, as I think we're running low. Is there anything else you can think of that you need?"


     Qui-Gon thought for a moment, then shook his head and yawned widely. "I think I had better get into bed before I fall over. Could you please bring the tea in there when it's ready?"


     "Certainly, Master," Obi-Wan said with a nod, his gaze following his master to the bedroom. He watched as Qui-Gon slowly sat down on the edge of the bed and carefully pulled off his boots. Off came the rest of his clothes, one article at a time, until he wore nothing at all. He then levitated the discarded clothes to the hamper as he slipped beneath the covers. Though Obi-Wan had seen his master in the nude dozens of times before, this time he set all his energy into his work to keep from thinking about it. Such thoughts were improper for a padawan to have for his master. Especially when his master was feeling so poorly.


     Obi-Wan worked hastily on the tea, wanting to be both quick and perfect with it. First he filled the teapot and set it on a burner. As he waited for the water to boil, he set out a cup and saucer. He added a spoonful of tea leaves and the proper measure of herbs as indicated on the bag Qui-Gon had brought from the healers. While keeping an ear out for the whistle that would indicate the water was boiling, he retrieved the tea strainer from the drawer beside the sink and the heavy bottle of honey from the cupboard. Ready and waiting, he stood at the stove and stared at the teapot.


     The only sound he heard, however, came from his master in the other room. Qui-Gon was sneezing again and, from the sound of it, doing so openly. Obi-Wan supposed that was partly due to the fact that he was alone now and partly due to the fact that they had a limited supply of tissues in their quarters and none of them in the bedroom at the moment. Obi-Wan abandoned the tea components briefly in order to retrieve the nearly empty box from the 'fresher. He set it on a tray to take in for Qui-Gon when he brought the tea. They would contain Qui-Gon's sneezes and sniffles until Obi-Wan could leave to buy more.


     But the water still had not boiled, and Obi-Wan was growing impatient, listening to Qui-Gon sneezing and coughing in the other room. He needed the medicinal tea badly. Obi-Wan watched the teapot intently, trying to use his powers to convince the water to boil. But even with the Force, there was no rushing the water to boil. The more he watched it, the less likely it seemed to boil and the more desperate he became, wanting to both help and please.


     A tired voice called out to him. "Padawan?"


     Obi-Wan turned, looking back to the bedroom. "Yes, Master?" he answered Qui-Gon.


     "Is the tea ready yet?" There was practically no emotion in Qui-Gon's voice. The Jedi Master sounded neither desperate nor curious in his question.


     Obi-Wan tried to sound convincing and comforting in his answer, however. "Nearly, Master. I will be there in a minute." As the words were heard in the bedroom, Obi-Wan felt something in their bond. He was surprised when it died away as quickly as it had arisen. It was nearly like the neediness he, himself, felt when sick. But it was such a brief burst that Obi-Wan could not have been sure.


     Turning his attention back to the water, Obi-Wan tried to picture it boiling in his mind. "Boil!" he commanded, staring at it even harder. It did not obey, however. The pot sat upon its red hot burner defiantly, making no noise and producing no steam.


     "uhhhTShooo! huhh-CHISHhooo!"


     Obi-Wan glanced over his shoulder as he heard the rustling of covers in addition to the sneezes, this time. Qui-Gon was up again, and moving across the bedroom. He was heading for the dresser. He leaned on it, arm bent and back curved, while he pulled open a drawer and extracted a fresh handkerchief.


     Obi-Wan watched Qui-Gon carefully unfold it as his eyes closed and mouth dropped open. Moving so slowly it made Obi-Wan feel pained and want to rush over to help, Qui-Gon lifted the handkerchief and, at the same time, tilted his head downwards. "huhhh-Ufffshhh! Efff-shhhhh! UffffChuhhh!" The sounds of what would otherwise have been great sneezes were muffled into the handkerchief. The way he leaned against the dresser kept his body from jerking too much, as well, but it was still quite a sight to see Qui-Gon's large form shaken from something as simple as a sneeze when it took hours of training to make him even break a sweat.


     Qui-Gon blew his nose, which was a terrible sound to both pairs of ears, then headed straight back to bed. He sank into the mattress with a deep sigh and shivered as he pulled the cooled sheet and blanket back up over himself. Obi-Wan watched as he then scooted around a bit under the covers, trying to get comfortable. Somehow the covers had come untucked at his feet and he kicked to get them back into place to cover his bare feet. He was a tall man and the bed was only slightly longer than he, and with the fact that he was hugging the covers to his chest to keep warm and comfortable there, it was a struggle he was not close to winning. He gave up after mere moments and curled up. And though he looked warm, Obi-Wan could tell from his master's expression that Qui-Gon was still unhappy that the blankets were loose around his feet. As though trying to give himself some sense of security, he pulled his arm out and tried to tuck the covers around himself more tightly, but when he pulled on a blanket to slip his arm back underneath, they loosened around him again. Yet he did not look at all frustrated by the fact. He seemed less than pleased, but patient that the matter would be resolved in time.


     Having no doubt how his master wished it to be taken care of, Obi-Wan immediately took a step towards the bedroom. However the whistle of the teapot caught his ear and the tea instantly drew his attention again. Relieved that the water was at last ready, he prepared the tea and set a cupful on the tray. Then he carried it to the bedroom.


     "Let me get the covers," said Obi-Wan, sensing that his master was still displeased and nearly about to begin kicking again. He set the tray on the nightstand and practically dove for the blankets. He slid them around the mattress and gave them a test tug to be sure they were on securely. Then he moved smoothly over to the tray and handed over the tea just as Qui-Gon sat and reached for it. "Careful," Obi-Wan said softly. "It's hot, Master."


     Qui-Gon nodded in understanding and sipped the tea. Leaning over to the tray, he added a bit of honey, stirred and then drank again. Obi-Wan pulled one of the spare blankets out from beneath the bed and wrapped it around Qui-Gon's bare shoulders so he would not feel chilled while sitting up and drinking. With a deep sigh of contentment, Qui-Gon leaned back against his pillows. "Thank you, my Obi-Wan."


     Nodding, Obi-Wan tucked the blankets more around Qui-Gon and sat down on the edge of the bed. "I'm sorry it took so long. But can I get you anything else?"


     Qui-Gon spent a longer period of time drinking, then lowered the cup to his lap. Obi-Wan noticed his nostrils twitch but saw Qui-Gon looked perfectly calm when he handed the mug of tea to Obi-Wan. "Take this, please. I'm about to sn... sneeze again..." Qui-Gon's voice was breathy as well as deep as he finished and raised the handkerchief to his face. Again, Obi-Wan sensed a moment of desperation, just before the sneezes struck. "uhhh-Hffffshhh! EfffChhhh! TCh-Fffshhh!" But by the time they had ended, all that Obi-Wan sensed from his master was relief and calm... and a considerable amount of pain.


     "Master?" asked Obi-Wan worriedly.


     "I've a splitting headache, which is only intensified every time I must sneeze," Qui-Gon said understatedly. He took the tea back from his padawan. "Would you be so kind as to get me a cold, wet washcloth for my forehead? I think that might help my headache and my fever as well."


     "Of course!" Obi-Wan said, springing to his feet with quick Jedi reflexes and walking straight to the 'fresher at once.


     Once there, he immediately set upon the task of wetting a washcloth. But his mind wandered to his Master's condition. He really should have thought of getting a cold compress himself. As it was, his tea-making skills were honed not over practice but repeated observation. Qui-Gon always made plenty of tea when Obi-Wan was sick. Obi-Wan mentally went through a lit of other things his master did to care for him, trying to determine, by example, what else he could possibly do for his master. It was not yet dinnertime, and Qui-Gon had already asked for more tissues.


     Obi-Wan's memories then stumbled on a peaceful image of Qui-Gon lying in bed with Obi-Wan's stuffed-up head in his lap. Qui-Gon was reading a novel and Obi-Wan was, despite almost constant sniffling, falling asleep to the sound. Inspired, Obi-Wan now grabbed the nearest datapad from the bookshelves in the 'fresher; they had bookshelves in every room of their quarters and even some in the closet.


     "Pada... ehh-UHFSchhhh! Padawan?" Qui-Gon's voice was, again, completely calm. But Obi-Wan was starting to understand that, deep down, Qui-Gon was just as needy and unhappy when sick as Obi-Wan was. Qui-Gon was simply better at controlling his emotions so they would not be seen. Obi-Wan was starting to get used to the tone and the way Qui-Gon seemed to gracefully accept what he could not change. Qui-Gon was patient when it came to what he wanted because he was confident in his padawan's ability to take care of him properly. He simply needed to be the master and prod a little to be sure Obi-Wan did as he was supposed to.


     "Coming, Master," Obi-Wan called as he wrung the washcloth out once more and headed back to the bedroom. This time he climbed under the blankets with Qui-Gon, who had finished his tea. He took the empty teacup and moved the tray to the nightstand. Then he hugged Qui-Gon and eased him down beneath the covers. With several tissues in hand and his head on a pillow in Obi-Wan's lap, Qui-Gon sighed when Obi-Wan placed the washcloth on his forehead. "Better?" Obi-Wan asked.


     "Much," replied Qui-Gon.


     "Good," Obi-Wan said, running his fingers through his master's thin brought-grey hair. "I brought a datapad with me. I thought you might like me to read to you a bit to help you sleep."


     Impressed, Qui-Gon raised his eyebrows. He seemed quite glad without being overly joyful. "I would appreciate you doing so, my Obi-Wan. How I would love to fall asleep to the sound of your voice." Obi-Wan smiled, slightly embarrassed. His voice was nothing special. Certainly nothing as nice as his master's. "What book did you bring?"


     Obi-Wan read the title and groaned, "The history of transcontinental trade in the inner rim."


     "Not exactly the romantic and comforting sort of story I had in mind," said Qui-Gon.


     Realizing that meant Qui-Gon had actually been hoping for this, Obi-Wan quickly got up to retrieve another card for the datapad. He settled back into bed and began to read. Qui-Gon snuggled up to him and, in no time, fell asleep. Obi-Wan stayed in bed for a little while longer, wanting to be sure Qui-Gon was asleep, then he slipped away and then headed out to hit the shops.




     Obi-Wan's arms were full of bags when he returned home nearly an hour later. He had bought far more than just the few things he'd set out for, but he wanted to be sure they didn't run out of anything. Plus he had a surprise or two in store sure to please his master. He just managed to grab hold of the door and slide it open a little when he heard voices from within. One was, unmistakably, his master's. But the other was that of Master Windu, and it made Obi-Wan freeze in place. Curious, he peeked inside and listened closely.


     Qui-Gon sat at the desk on the far side of the common area, with his back to Obi-Wan and his eyes fixed upon the terminal where Master Windu's image appeared. "I'll send the documents we have gathered in preparation for our tri... trip..." Qui-Gon had started out strong, but his nose prevented him from completing the sentence perfectly. He had the box of tissues sitting beside the console, and pulled several out as he turned to the side, aiming the sneezes away from Mace's image. "uhhh-Chishhhh! Huhhhh-UfShhhhhhh! HEHShhhhhh!" He blew his nose discretely and looked embarrassed. "My apologies. My nose..."


     Mace shook his head and shrugged. "It seems to me it is for the best that someone else be reassigned this particular mission. If you don't mind my saying so, you really don't look at all well, Qui-Gon."


     Shaking his head and sitting up straighter in the chair, Qui-Gon seemed to be trying to look regal and well. Apart from a runny nose and exhaustion in his eyes, he did look like a normal, untouchable Jedi master. "Truthfully, I feel incredibly miserable, though not for the lack of care." Qui-Gon complained. Obi-Wan raised his eyebrows, realizing that his master was, in fact, capable of complaining and realizing that there must be a reason why Qui-Gon had not complained up to that point.


     Mace looked surprised. "Are you using this to testing your padawan, then?"


     But Qui-Gon shook his head. "Not a test but a lesson. While I appreciate his care, I don't want Obi-Wan to know I feel so terrible. Of course I don't want him to think I'm putting on a brave front, either. He needs to understand there's a dignified way of being sick. Giving in without giving up."


     "And you're planning to teach him this?" Mace sounded skeptical.


     "I'm going to... to try," replied Qui-Gon with difficulty. "uhhhh... UhhhFShhhhh! HehhShuhhh!"


     Sympathetically, "Blesses."


     Qui-Gon nodded his appreciation and balled several used tissues into a fist. He rubbed his whole hand roughly at his nose.


     "Far be it from me to question your teachings when it comes to your Padawan Learner, Qui-Gon, but I sense this means a lot to you. Why is that? Jedi are not ill so often for this to be a crucial life lesson."


     "I know it," Qui-Gon said. "But I feel I'm not wrong in this concentration. I didn't choose where the Force took me just as I didn't choose to catch this terrible cold." His eyes closed, and he waited with anticipation. "uhhh... huhhhChuhhhh! hehhhShehhh! K'Shuhhhh!" As Mace blessed him again, Qui-Gon rubbed again at his nose. "I had better get back to bed before Obi-Wan gets home and sees me up and working. I hope he is not too disappointed when I tell him we're off the mission. But I shall have him send over those documents when he gets the chance."


     "Any time," Mace said casually. "Feel better, Qui-Gon."


     "Thank you, Mace. May the Force... the... uh-oh..." He quickly pulled another tissue from the box and buried his nose in it. "huhhh-Shuhhhhh! ehhhhShuhhhh! Huhhh-Chushhhh!"


     "And with you," Mace said, saving him the trouble of finishing.


     Qui-Gon ended the communication, gathered the tissues, and then made for the bedroom. Still naked, Qui-Gon had wrapped a blanket around himself. But he was shivering terribly as he walked across the rooms. He collapsed into bed, barely mustering up enough effort to burrow beneath the blankets.


     Despite the lack of a test, Obi-Wan was now determined to take care of his master as best he could. He went straight to the kitchen area to prepare more tea. As their mission was cancelled, there were no important tasks for Obi-Wan to be concerned with apart from helping to improve the health of his master. And though he had been looking forward to finishing the preparations and leaving for an off-world mission, he knew it was in their best interests to let someone else take the mission instead. Qui-Gon would have no choice but to stay in bed and take it easy, then. Without work, he would be less concerned with seeming like a proper Jedi master.


     Obi-Wan reached the bedroom again to find Qui-Gon curled on his side in bed, blowing his nose hard into a handful of tissues. When he reached for new tissues, he moved quite slowly which was most unlike himself. Even for a man his size, Obi-Wan had never seen anyone more quick and graceful not only when fighting but with common, everyday movements. It was one of the first things Obi-Wan had ever noticed about his master, but certainly not the only thing he admired.


     But never before had he seen his master look so much unlike himself as now. As though it hurt to move, Qui-Gon lifted his heavy hand to hold tissues to his face. A pained expression crossed his face, and his whole body tensed up as though bracing for something strong and terrible. And when the sneezes came, that was precisely how they sounded. "huhhh-SCHuhhhh! Uhhhh-TChuhhhh! KShuhhhhh! HehhhShuhhhh!" As he blew his nose quite profusely, he groaned and shook with coughs. Then he shivered but threw off one of the blankets that kept him warm.


     When Qui-Gon looked up and saw Obi-Wan, he coughed and sat up, giving his padawan a smile. "Bore tea," he said, his voice now both deep and filled with congestion. "Exactly what I deeded. Thag you, Obi-Wad. Just... give be a... a..." His shoulders raised and he covered the lower half of his face with the tissues. "huhh-KShuhhhhh!" Qui-Gon cupped a fresh tissue to his nose to clear his nose once more.


     Obi-Wan, again, waited patiently, noticing that his master did not look even half as weak and sick as he had minutes before during the same task. Moments ago, he had looked like death warmed over but now he simply looked like a Jedi Master with a bit of a sniffle in his nose. He handed over the tea and moved the tissue box to the nightstand so he could sit down on the side of the bed.


     Qui-Gon drank for a while, taking small but almost continuous sips. Then his eyes widened suddenly. Obi-Wan started reaching towards the tissues but Qui-Gon spoke. "I nearly forgot to mention this, but our mission to Bandar has been cancelled because of my illness."


     Obi-Wan tried to look surprised by the news, though in truth he was just as disappointed hearing it now as he had been when he'd overheard it before. He was prepared for it now, however, and had the perfect follow-up question planned. "Are you really feeling so sick as to abandon the mission without even discussing it with me first, Master?"


     Pausing in his drinking, Qui-Gon found himself struck by the question which was a double-edged sword. If he replied no, he would be promoting the idea of fighting common sense and personal health in order to do one's duties at all costs. However if he replied yes, he would be admitting that he felt terrible and inviting worry and all sorts of negative emotions he and his padawan were much better without. The latter was probably closer to the truth, but he considered his options quite carefully before replying and Obi-Wan knew precisely what such a long, thoughtful pause meant. "As Jedi we must sometimes air on the side of caution."


     Obi-Wan nodded in understanding, though he wished Qui-Gon could have given him a more truthful answer.


     "Are you terribly disappointed to lose the mission?"


     Obi-Wan shook his head like a knee-jerk reaction. "It was your place to make the call, not mine. There will be plenty of other missions for us when we're both feeling at our best. I shall send the council our work up to this point," Obi-Wan said, and got up to do so.


     When he returned, he found Qui-Gon drinking down the last of his tea just in the nick of time. His nose twitched and he took in a deep, sharp breath. "huhh..." He cupped a hand to his face. "huhhh-huhhShuhhh! K'Shahhh! huhhChuhhh! hehhhShuhhh!" Hen he reached a hand over towards the tissue box and realized it was out of reach now. Qui-Gon looked at it pointedly, holding his hand out. It rocked back and forth slowly, then one end lifted off the nightstand. But it fell down again in a thump and he lowered his hand in exhaustion. "hehhh-Kuhshuhhh! Huhh... huhhhh-UHShuhhhh!" He sneezed openly, too far gone to even lift his hand to rub at his nose any more.


     For the briefest of moments, Obi-Wan considered the state his master was in. Clearly in need but not wanting to admit the extent of his illness and hoping Obi-Wan would not notice. Much as he would like to have seen his master complain as any normal person would do at that stage, Qui-Gon Jinn was not any normal person to him.


     So Obi-Wan quickly jumped to his master's aid, retrieving the tissues and rubbing them at Qui-Gon's nose for him. "Do you need to blow your nose?" he asked a bit awkwardly, but Qui-Gon shook his head no. Obi-Wan sat back down on the bed beside Qui-Gon, feeling bad for his master. If Qui-Gon was incapable of using the Force for something so simple, it was a clear sign of how badly off he really was. "I think it's probably good that we're not going ahead with that mission. You need to conserve your strength."


     Qui-Gon gave a deep sigh. All ability to be calm and at peace with his illness had failed. And all attempts at being sick gracefully, nobly, and most importantly conservatively had left him. And, worse yet, the Force clearly did not want him to keep up these pretenses to his padawan either. He coughed such that his whole body shook and closed his eyes in a manner that indicated his head was hurting terribly. His failure to accomplish what he'd set out to do was no help.


     "Master," Obi-Wan began, his voice gentle. But the buzzer on the door to their quarters sounded and made them both turn their heads. Qui-Gon immediately pushed himself up so he was sitting in bed instead of lying down. He ran his hand through his hair and then rubbed vigorously at his nose. Obi-Wan gave him a stern sort of look. "You needn't bother. I'll send whoever it is away."


     "Padawan," said Qui-Gon, trying to sound stern if not for the tickle in his nose and the weakness of his scratchy voice. "I am a Jedi Master. A sick one, perhaps, but a Master still. And that may be important."


     "Yes," Obi-Wan said, rising. Though he did not wish the person at the door to wait, he kept himself calm and kept his voice soft and steady. "But even a Jedi Master, especially a sick one, is allowed to be asleep when visitors come to call." He then smiled. "I know it is not what I would do if sick, but perhaps your responsibilities should all be suspended until you feel better. There's nothing more important than your health, Master." Without waiting for a reply, though the look in Qui-Gon's eyes was good enough, Obi-Wan headed to the main door to their quarters while shutting the door to the bedroom just in case Qui-Gon needed to cough or sneeze.


     At the door was Master Prescot. She smiled at Obi-Wan. "Hello Padawan Kenobi. Is your master at home?"


     Obi-Wan stood tall. "My master is indisposed at the moment. I think he may be asleep."


     She nodded. "I'm sorry to disturb. I've come about your master's evaluations. Just tell him he may deliver them to me by the end of the week. There's no rush."


     "Thank you, Master Prescot." He bowed his head respectfully and she thanked him back before leaving.


     When he returned Qui-Gon had managed to sit up. "Was that Baster Brescot?" he asked. "I brobised her yesterday I would fidish your evaluatiod."


     Obi-Wan sat back down on the bed and took a few more tissues from the box. He handed them to Qui-Gon, who blew his nose fully. "It was Master Prescot," Obi-Wan agreed.


     But before Obi-Wan had a chance to say anything more, Qui-Gon went on. "I appreciate you wanting me to rest, but I can't suspend every one of my responsibilities until I'm better. After all, I still have a padawan to look after. I can't take a complete break from teaching you and taking care of you."


     A smile broke on Obi-Wan's face, and he gave a gentle laugh. "Oh, but I am learning, Master. And I'm old enough now to take care of myself as well as my master when he needs it. That *is* a padawan's duty, is it not?"


     Qui-Gon smiled slowly as the words sunk in. "Obi-Wan, this is not a test."


     "I know," Obi-Wan said quite plainly. "But it is something I need to do. And what you need now is plenty of rest and care." He reached over and eased Qui-Gon down, then tucked the covers around him. Qui-Gon hadn't slid down completely as pillows supported his head to help his breathing. Obi-Wan plumped them in a busied sort of way, as though something had clicked on in him. "Luckily, I had a very good teacher in that respect. You will not want for anything." He laid his hand upon his master's hot forehead.


     Without needing to be asked, he got up to get a fresh cold compress and returned with a heat pad and a cool glass of water as well. Qui-Gon looked exhausted but moved immediately towards each comfort as it was offered. Feeling encouraged in his care-giving, though he was certain Qui-Gon would have done a better job had their roles been reversed at the moment, Obi-Wan signaled for Qui-Gon to wait.


     Obi-Wan closed his eyes and concentrated hard. He lifted his hand and took a deep breath. Several moments later, a bag came over to him from the other room. He reached out and plucked it out of the air. Then he opened the bag and rooted around in it. "I got you your favorite fruit juice while I was out." Qui-Gon smiled and took a few sips. "But I also purchased a new book card while I was out," Obi-Wan said, pulling it from the bag before tossing it over the side of the bed. "It's supposed to be the best Millosian murder mystery ever written and just came out yesterday."


     Qui-Gon's smile faded as another sneeze came upon him. "hehh--" Obi-Wan was quick with tissues. "hahhh-Kuh-Shuhhhh! Huhshuhhhhh!" He did not even need to move afterwards. He relaxed back against the pillows as Obi-Wan dried his nose. "When did you get so good at this?" he asked, restraining a cough.


     "Since you needed me to," Obi-Wan replied pleasantly. "It happened when you weren't watching. That's when all the most interesting things happen, after all."


     "Remind me to pay less attention to you from now on," chuckled Qui-Gon. "huh... huhhhChhhh! Sniff! Not that I'll need reminding. I can barely keep my eyes open. I think I had better go to sleep."


     "I'll read to you," Obi-Wan offered.


     "No," Qui-Gon replied. "There's no need right now, my Obi-Wan." Unable to resist and feeling as though he shouldn't, he reached out from beneath the covers and gently touched Obi-Wan's cheek. There was something more there, some realization of potential, some sense of pride. Something unmentionable but undeniable and pushed forward by the Force. Something previously present but watched and blocked.


     It was that something that made Obi-Wan move closer and settle down on the vacant side of the bed for a while even though Qui-Gon would soon be asleep. He flipped the cold compress over and smoothed the blankets out over his master's chest. Qui-Gon simply lay there quite comfortably. He and let Obi-Wan care for him, accepting both his illness and his fussing padawan.  And knowing that they might both need to watch things between them a little less closely.