Fandom: Star Wars
Rating: R? NC-17?
Disclaimer: Do I look like George Lucas?
Summary: Obi-Wan seems to be coming down with something just as he and Qui-Gon are sitting down to do some important work. This is the darker side of how it could have happened.
Notes: This story is coupled with 'Light' and written before it, incidentally
Feedback: Sure, I'd love some
"sniff! Sniff!" He almost always sniffled in sets of two. Every time the first happened, it seemed the second simply had to follow. Logical, really, that if he disturbed the silence with one he might as well try to further clear his nose with a second, so quick that the two might almost sound as one. But the second was most times a little louder, as though the first was just feeling its way out in preparation for a sniffle that would really help his nose. And though the first meant he was so desperate as to really need to sniffle, the second signaled that what he really needed was another dozen in order for it to get any better. He almost always sniffled in twos.
"Sniff! Sniff! SNIFF!" Except when he sniffled in threes. And though that was rare, that was when it was clear he was incredibly desperate, and perhaps a little frustrated with his nose as well at needing to go for three in the first place when two might usually suffice. The first two were typically of medium volume, a little louder than if he'd been going for two from the first of it. And the third, very forceful, hoping that with the last, strong sniffle his nose could go a long while without needing another sniffle.
But that was hardly ever the case and his hope was false nearly every time. For even after three sniffles, it seemed he had to sniffle again just as quickly as if he'd only sniffled twice. "sniff, Sniff!"
Entirely distracted by his analysis of his padawan's condition, Master Qui-Gon Jinn set down his datapad and bowed his head. In frustration, he lifted a thumb and forefinger to his eyes and rubbed. "Padawan," he said, a bit of a growl hiding just beneath his voice. "Must you continue that irritating sound all evening?"
His cheeks flushed, Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi looked up from his own work. "Sorry, Master," he whispered. "I shall try not to--"
"Do not try," Qui-Gon snapped, grabbing the datapad back and forcing his eyes across it to find his place, determined not to let himself be distracted any longer. "Simply do not do it any more."
Obi-Wan bit his lip and nodded. "Yes, Master." This seemed an easy order to obey. After all, he had managed to control the itchy feeling in his throat that made him want to cough. And he had control over the tickle in his nose as well. Whenever it felt as though a sneeze was coming on, he was able to block it out by slipping into a simple meditation for a few seconds, relaxing his face, soothing the tickle so that the urge retreated to the back of his nose. If worst came to worst, he could pinch his nose shut as well. Lately, he had not needed to do so, relying instead on his skills to keep the sneezes back. But sniffling, that was something he did on his own. It wasn't simply something that happened and he had to fight it. It was something he caused, something he performed. It was his choice to draw breath through his stuffy nose in such a way. And not doing it seemed much easier than trying to control the other practically uncontrollable urges.
However, as time passed, he found this increasingly difficult. Without his sniffles, his nose ran. Terribly. He lifted his finger to his nose, pressing against his nostrils to keep it hidden. The instinct to sniff was excruciatingly difficult to fight, as his nose began to tickle again, on top of running. It seemed, suddenly, that if he did not sniffle, he would surely sneeze and such a sneeze would not be one of his polite, controlled sneezes but, instead, a terribly messy sort of thing he would be utterly embarrassed at. And yet, he had been told not to sniffle. However, it really seemed the best option, at the moment, and his nose was feeling stuffier now than it ever had. Even as he rubbed the whole side of his hand beneath his nose, it did not feel any clearer. On the contrary, it practically pounded with fullness. Desperate, and relying only on instinct, Obi-Wan closed his eyes. "sniff, Sniff!" And then, not planning it, and so quickly after in need that it was terribly out of the norm, "SNIFF! SNIFF! SNIFF!"
"Obi-Wan!" his master scolded angrily, slamming the datapad down on the desk. "I thought I made it perfectly clear that I did not want you sniffing like that all night. I do not believe you have any idea how incredibly distracting it is to listen to."
Obi-Wan, rubbing his other hand beneath his terribly runny nose, looked up. "Add I dod believe you hab ady idea how biserable it is to deed to sdiffle." He cringed to listen to himself, all stuffy and snuffley. Even talking made his nose seem worse. "Sniff! SNIFF!" As soon as he gasped for breath, he apologized, "I'b sorry, Baster. I just... I just hab to."
"You certainly do not just have to sniffle. There are a number of more courteous options available to you if you have a particularly runny nose."
Obi-Wan looked as though he could top the list of the down-trodden. Other options had not really crossed his mind. He had simply needed to sniffle, so he sniffled. "sniff! Sniff! There were't ady tissues id the 'fresher. sniff! Sniff!"
"For goodness sakes, Padawan," Qui-Gon snapped, his hand digging into his robes, fumbling about, then withdrawing a small pocket square. "Blow your nose and stop making that terribly irritating sound. I will not be able to concentrate on my work for a moment with you keeping it up like that." He waved his hand and the small, folded handkerchief flew across the small room with rough force, hitting Obi-Wan in the chest. It seemed as though Qui-Gon had misjudged the distance across their small quarters, but Qui-Gon never misjudged such things.
Obi-Wan took it and unfolded it, draping it over his hand but so that he had a good grip on it. He buried his nose in the cloth, took a deep breath with his cheeks burning hot at the thought of what he was about to do, and blew.
Both Jedi cringed terribly at the sound, though Obi-Wan especially because he knew as soon as he began blowing that he would need many more than one to be in a state in which he did not have to sniffle any longer. This was something Qui-Gon clearly did not understand, across the room, his attention on his work once more. He was apparently trying to distract himself from listening.
Obi-Wan folded the handkerchief, then pressed it to his face again for another equally wet blow. Then another, and another. After the fifh, and the sound of a deep exhaling from his master across the room, Obi-Wan decided to stop and folded the handkerchief again to wipe his nose as thoroughly as possible. He set it down on his lap, trying to decide whether it would actually be of any use should he need to use it again. He still did need to use it again, in fact, his nose all itchy and tickly and sniffley now, but he did not want to do too much blowing at one time or that might irritate his master as well. Wondering if Qui-Gon perhaps had another handkerchief he might use, Obi-Wan looked up and saw Qui-Gon staring at him, angry and expectant. "Um, excuse me," Obi-Wan breathed. "Oh, and thank you." He had not really been sure which his master had wanted to hear, but felt he was somewhat safe now having said them both. Though if he'd had his way, he would have just sniffled a few more times and he wouldn't have needed to ruin a perfectly good handkerchief at all.
"Mmm," Qui-Gon murmured, turning his attention back to his readings yet again. "You might have asked me for a handkerchief earlier, had you needed one."
Obi-Wan glared at him, knowing full well Qui-Gon wouldn't see the look. "You might have offered one if you thought I needed one. I was doing perfectly all right until just then."
"Perfectly all right?" laughed Qui-Gon, still pretending to be absorbed in his work. "Is that what you call coming down with a nasty virus and not bothering to tell me about it until it is fully upon you and we're trying to get work done for tomorrow's meeting?"
Obi-Wan huffed. "I was perfectly all right. It's just a little something I must have picked up from that Abrosian delegate. If you'd bothered to keep track of me, you might have sensed it early on."
"You had your shields up and you know perfectly well even I cannot sense everything about you when you do that. Besides, I did not know I had to baby-sit my padawan on missions," Qui-Gon said, still trying to sound amused as he read and re-read the same lines.
"Isn't that what you've been doing for the last ten minutes anyway?" Obi-Wan snapped back, his cheeks now a bright red. Pointedly, and staring straight at his master, Obi-Wan gave three very loud sniffles. "SNIFF! SNIFF! SNIFF!"
Qui-Gon's gaze shot back up, and once again the datapad was slammed down on the desk to enforce his position. "That's it. I have had it, Obi-Wan. Now you're purposefully being childish, rude and distractive and I will not be able to get a bit of work done if you keep this up."
Grabbing his cloak and his work, Qui-Gon tore from the room, letting the door slam shut behind with a bit of assistance from the force.
Obi-Wan's eyes filled dangerously with tears, and he blinked them back, careful not to let them fall in case his master returned suddenly. "Childish..." he muttered, putting on a strong face now that he had his tears under control as well. Not a single one had escaped down his cheeks. "Look who's being childish with the storming out and slamming the door," Obi-Wan remarked to make himself feel better. "Sniff! Sniff!" He stood and collected his work. "Calm and wise Jedi Master he is not!" Obi-Wan flopped into bed, the double bed that was the only spot for sleeping in the small quarters they had been assigned.
Perhaps the small size of their quarters had been a factor, as they had never before lived together in such a completely shared space, but they had been through more arguments in the last few days on their mission than ever.
"hahKIGshhhh!" Obi-Wan sneezed, just barely managing to cover his nose and mouth to keep the sneeze to himself. But, realizing that he was alone in the room, he shoved his hand into his pocket as the tickle built again in his nose. "hehhh..." He did not fight it, but it was slow in coming. It figured that just when he wanted to sneeze, the sneezes did not want to show themselves. "hehhh... heh... Oh come along!" Obi-Wan complained, raising a finger to his nose and scrubbing at his nostrils. "hahhh..." Yes, that seemed to have done the trick. "hah-IHGshuhhhhh!" he sneezed freely and without restraint. With a smirk and a bit of pride at the incredible feeling of relief it had brought with it, Obi-Wan sniffled again. "Sniff! Sniff! Sniff! Sniff!" Without needing to stop to try and be polite, or needing to be silent to show proper etiquette, he could sneeze as much as he liked now, too.
Boots kicked off, most of his clothing shed, and shivering under the covers, Obi-Wan tried to get back to his work. Qui-Gon would be angry again to see him working in bed, Obi-Wan was sure. Beds were, after all, for sleeping in. On the other hand, desks were for working at. And he should be old enough to know the difference between the two. As Qui-Gon might say, one should not assign objects purposes they were not meant to have, after all. Though telling that to Qui-Gon next time he was horny and without proper lube, and Obi-Wan would probably get his head bitten off for that as well. "Let him... heh...hahGushuhhh! hahIhgshhhhhh! Sniff! Sniff! Let him come in and scold me," Obi-Wan said, lying on his side and pulling the covers up past his ears, just enough to let light in so that he could see his datapads beneath the covers. "When he sees that I've, sniff, finished all my work despite my location... Sniff! ...and despite my cold, he'll have no choice but to listen to me." Determined, and still sniffley, he set to work.
For a few moments, he wanted to forget completely about work. He would have been happy to put it all, including the argument, aside if only to have Qui-Gon in bed with him again. He turned his head and sniffled into Qui-Gon's pillow. Even with his stuffy nose, he could detect the scent, so soft and relaxing. Though he had only been gone only a short while, Obi-Wan already wanted Qui-Gon back, even if it meant more fighting. "hehhhh...hah-EHHGshhhhhh!" He rubbed his nose and returned to his work, trying to put the rest out of his mind.
"I might have expected something like this from Xanatos, maybe, but not from Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon muttered as he paced across the meeting room, straightening place settings and stacking empty water glasses. He had constantly reminded himself that even the best of Jedi had to go through a rebellious period in their youths. Qui-Gon had simply not been prepared for it to happen just now. In truth, he had hoped that Obi-Wan, with his fetish for sticking to the rules and his calm way of reasoning out of anything, would never hit that period full-on. Or, hopefully, pass through it so quickly that Qui-Gon could take no notice of it. But, alas, it had hit at last, and with a vengeance. Not to mention with a cold that already made Obi-Wan tired and irritable. And just as they had a mission off world, at that. His padawan could not possibly have picked a worse time to be an angry, unruly, disobedient-- "Oh no!" Distracted by his thoughts, Qui-Gon had accidentally tipped over a half-empty glass and spilled it all over the fine wooden table and plush chairs.
Quickly he mopped it up, then gave a deep sigh. In trying to react to Obi-Wan with proper equal and opposite responses he had grown as irritated and unruly as Obi-Wan himself. This was, he knew, no way for a Jedi Master to behave, not when he was so angry that beautiful tables and chairs were damaged from it. And not when his beloved padawan took the brunt of it. With a sigh, he took his seat at the meeting table and cleared away his work. He would meditate for a little while, then finish straightening up, then go back to their shared quarters and patch things up with his padawan. As much as he disliked having reasons to be furious with Obi-Wan, he disliked much more actually allowing himself to be furious with his padawan.
It was late by the time Qui-Gon returned to the room, but the light was still on inside. He found his padawan spread out in the center of the bed, fast asleep. The young man was surrounded by datapads that had not been switched off properly. His arm had flailed out to the side and hit one, so that it constantly cycled through the current document, carelessly draining the device's energy. In a flash, Qui-Gon went from calm and forgiving to annoyed again. "This is why we work at a desk, not in bed," Qui-Gon grumbled, collecting the datapads and skimming through them before stacking them neatly away. "Has barely begun to do his work, at that. But what else can I expect from someone working in bed? He was bound to fall asleep early into the task."
With a sigh, Qui-Gon kicked off his boots and stripped down to all but his underpants. They had made a point of traveling light, which meant no nightclothes of any sort. And while Qui-Gon might normally have slept naked, he did not want to give Obi-Wan with his sick little body, any thoughts. He also suspected, from the way Obi-Wan was practically taking up the whole bed, that the covers might be stolen from him in the middle of the night, as well.
Qui-Gon reached down and gave Obi-Wan a bit of a nudge. "Scoot over," he ordered. Obi-Wan, fast asleep, did not budge. "Hey, Padawan, move over. Make room," he said, pushing a little so that Obi-Wan's body would get the idea even if his mind was off on the dreamscape. His body did not, however. With a sigh, for he was tired and wanted to at least get in bed even if he was too caught up to fall asleep right away, he resorted to shaking Obi-Wan's shoulder. "Wake up a moment and move over," he said. "Obi-Wan..." his tone died away as his voice faded. Obi-Wan had not woken. "Obi-Wan?" Qui-Gon shook harder. "Obi-Wan?!" Obi-Wan was, and had always been, the lightest of sleepers. Unless, of course, something was very wrong.
Terror taking over for fatigue and anger now, Qui-Gon sat down on the edge of the bed and pressed the back of his hand to Obi-Wan's forehead. "Force, but you're really burning up!" He exclaimed, feeling Obi-Wan's cheeks, then his hands. //Obi-Wan? Can you hear me?// he tried, but it was no use. Obi-Wan could not be reached that way, either. "Not good," he muttered, tearing from the room to get to the 'fresher. He returned in a flash with a damp washcloth, placing it over Obi-Wan's forehead. "It's all right," he whispered, squeezing onto the side of the bed, lying on his side so that he just fit. "It's all right," he repeated, stroking his fingers against Obi-Wan's cheek. "You'll be okay." Qui-Gon could not remember a time when he had sounded less reassuring. It did not seem to help Obi-Wan any, who lay as motionless and pale as he had moments before.
As a tear shamelessly trickled down his cheek, Qui-Gon leaned forward and pressed his face into his padawan's short, fuzzy hair. "Obi-Wan," he whispered. His arms took the hot young man up, holding him close, holding him tightly. They had fought. Pointless arguing that, by their very nature, should never have happened in the first place. They had both known that it really had not meant anything, that at their core they were bonded with such love and devotion that an argument about how to control a runny nose was of absolutely no weight. It did not need to be said. "But I wish I had said it," breathed Qui-Gon, his tears wetting the top of Obi-Wan's hot head. But even at that, Obi-Wan did not wake up.
The suns rose and set, and the meeting started and ended, but Qui-Gon remained in their room. He flat-out refused to leave Obi-Wan's side as the young man lay, unconscious and feverish. Sometimes Obi-Wan would be silent, his breaths shallow and laced with congestion that even being propped up by two pillows did not help with. Other times he thrashed about, calling out words in foreign tongues, words of anger and hatred. But he held Obi-Wan's hand tightly in his, fingers laced. And he countered the feverish mutterings with gentle humming, or comforting words about times when they had enjoyed walks in the park or shared a dessert. He held Obi-Wan in his arms when his padawan thrashed around violently, trying to hold the young man steady. Once a fist slammed against his nose, making it bleed for a few minutes, but he would not let go even then. He administered sponge baths, and kept the cloth on Obi-Wan's forehead cool and damp the whole time, even if he had to hold it there himself for hours on end because Obi-Wan had chosen to lie on his side rather than his back.
Several times, Qui-Gon tried to reach Obi-Wan through their bond, a bond he knew should transcend anything else, including a fever. But it seemed that the shields Obi-Wan had constructed around himself were not only still in place, but strengthened thanks to the fever. When he tried to get through, Obi-Wan did not fight as he normally would, but instead retreated further within himself. As Qui-Gon tried harder, he realized that Obi-Wan did not want to be reached, and would rather stubbornly fade away into nothingness and death than accept the warmth Qui-Gon had to offer. The fiery fever struck long, and it struck hard. And Qui-Gon was beginning to doubt that Obi-Wan would ever wake from it. Those moments of silence, between the thrashing and agitated yelling, those were the worst.
Qui-Gon was fighting sleep early the next morning when Obi-Wan's fever finally broke. Though Qui-Gon shook him and covered him in kisses, nothing seemed to help wake him. //Don't you do this to me, Obi-Wan,// Qui-Gon tried, brushing fingers over the now warm forehead. //Wake up this instant.// But Obi-Wan did not reply or wake. And Qui-Gon was forced to continue to sit and wait by his side.
Obi-Wan would either open his eyes and be all right or he would simply slip away into the cold and dark, perhaps never to be properly united with the force. He was not ready to die. And Qui-Gon was not ready to lose his padawan, or his soulmate, this way. He did not wake for a few hours after that, a few hours that were spent in the most intense sort of worrying Qui-Gon had ever experienced.
Obi-Wan woke amidst the next morning's sunrise, as its light was already shining in and across the bed. He blinked, catching an eye-full of sun. He threw his hand up to block the rays, and snapped forward with two sun-provoked sneezes. "hakugggshhh! HEH- KUGggsshhhhhh!" Instinctively, he sniffled. Then, as his eyes adjusted to the light, they caught the face of his master. "S-sorry, Master," he managed, his lips dry, his throat sore.
Unable to contain his emotions, as a wise and calm Jedi master should, Qui-Gon threw himself down on the young man, hugging him into his arms, against his body, so tightly Obi-Wan coughed just to get a breath in. "Damn you," Qui-Gon said, pulling up, face wet again. "Don't apologize for something so completely pointless." His voice broke, and he fell back on Obi-Wan, sniffling, himself, in between tears. "In fact, don't ever apologize again."
"Master?" Obi-Wan asked, rubbing at his nose, sniffling more.
//You were asleep so long, I feared you would not wake, my Love,// Qui-Gon told him, unable to speak for the tears and kisses he was covering Obi-Wan with.
//Being a little melodramatic, aren't we?// Obi-Wan asked, still rather shocked at the good morning treatment he was receiving, especially as his last memories had been of an argument.
The tone had been that same snide, irritated tone Obi-Wan had been using of late. But Qui-Gon could not care less. Obi-Wan could punch him in the nose on purpose this time and Qui-Gon would still be overjoyed just to see that he was able to move his arm. Placing a firm kiss on Obi-Wan's lips, Qui-Gon had to reply through their bond. //You almost die on me, and I'm racked with guilt for a day and a half for being angry at you. I'd say I'm allowed to get worked up.//
"Almost... sniff, sniff, die?" said Obi-Wan, astounded. He rubbed his nose with the side of his hand, sniffling.
//And every time I tried to reach you through the fever, you'd pull away from me... I was afraid that if I kept trying to find you, there might be nothing left. Yes, I'm being very melodramatic, in fact.//
Obi-Wan did not know what to say to this, but he felt cold and hot, and so filled with all sorts of emotions that he couldn't quite place anything in the right spot. There was guilt for being angry at his master, but also a longing to unite with him again. At once, he lowered whatever shields he had erected and let Qui-Gon in completely. He also felt a tickle in his nose, one that he found he had not the strength or energy to control. It was all he could do to turn his head away. "heh-Ehggshuhhhh!" He rubbed his nose some more. "Sniff! Sniff! Ugh... don't have a handkerchief... do you?"
Qui-Gon shook his head. "Just sniffle. Ohhh, to hear your sniffles..." and he took Obi-Wan in his arms again, snuggling him close.
"Qui!" Obi-Wan laughed, pulling his head away so that at least he was not sniffling directly into his master's ear. "What if I accidentally sneeze on you?"
"Go right ahead," said Qui-Gon. "Because I'll be damned if I'm ever letting you go ahead. And no matter how much you're sniffling, I'll be damned if I ever leave your side again while you're sick."
Obi-Wan reached up, drawing his fingers through his master's hair to comfort him. Whatever it had been to make Qui-Gon change his mind like this had also left him scarred and worried, and this was not how he liked to see his master. "I'm all right," he said, stroking his hand up and down Qui-Gon's back.
"I told you that you would be," Qui-Gon sniffled, giving him a smile. Determined to have his way now that he could believe Obi-Wan would be all right, he forced the young man to scoot over and snuggled under the blankets with him. His arms were still wrapped around tightly, his face nuzzling into the side of Obi-Wan's head.
"hah... Qui... I'm... hahEhggshhhhh! Ihhgchhhhh! Sniff! SNIFF!" He sniffled wetly and dragged his hand under his nose.
Qui-Gon warmed against him, snuggling so close he was almost on top of Obi-Wan again. "How I missed hearing those," he whispered, reaching up and stroking a finger gently down the bridge of Obi-Wan's nose.
Obi-Wan smiled and nuzzled back. He was still weak, but the effort was clearly noticeable. "And I missed this."