Title: The Intermediary

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Star Wars

Rating: G (very tame smarm)

Parings: Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan(~15/16 yrs)

Spoilers: none, really

Disclaimer: Contrary to what you might think, I didn't come up with the Star Wars universe or its characters. As such, I get no money from this, only innocent enjoyment. Oh, um, but Tala all is mine (not that anyone else would want him)

Summary: Tala makes his rounds during cold season and does a few good deeds for the day. Guess who's got the sniffles? Aww, poor little Jedi :-)




The Intermediary


     "Come in!" I heard a young woman's voice call out and I obeyed, swinging the door open slowly and peering in. The room was dimly lit compared to the bright lights of the outside corridor and it took a few moments for my eyes to adjust. When they did, I saw that most of the bunks were empty, not surprising as it was the middle of the morning. Most of the students would be in lessons. Most, but not all. "Healer Tala!" called the same voice with relief, and I saw Jedi Padawan Mae-Lin approach from my side. She was gorgeous, with long, flowing, jet black hair. And she was tall for her age, not to mention for her species. Not the sort of women one could refuse when she called you up in a panic. She put a hand on my chest, her other on my back, and her forehead against my shoulder, all with a gentle squeeze of gratefulness. "Thank goodness you're here. He won't let any of us near him. He refuses food and won't get out of bed at all. Malik has already caught it from him, and Petrew wasn't looking too well last time I saw him either."


     I nodded. She looked worried about them, so I gave her a little pat on the back. "Thank you for calling me. And you're feeling well?" I sensed as much, but thought it would not hurt to ask.


     "I am fine," she said with a smile of reassurance.


     That was good, at least. One less nose for me to worry about. "Then I will see Obi first and then attend to the others."


     She nodded back. "Good luck. You'll need it with Obi!"


     I headed over to the lump of blankets on what I knew was Obi-Wan's tiny bunk. I sat down on the edge and patted the lump gently to wake it. "Obi-Wan, wake up."


     The lump stirred and sniffled. "I dod't wadt you catchig by code!" Came the muffled call from beneath the blankets. "Go away, I'b sig!"


     "You're sick?" I rubbed the lump gently. "That's why I'm here." I pulled back the covers to find Obi-Wan curled in a ball. The little one was shirtless, shivering at the cold air of the room, but brightened as he looked up at me. "Tala!" he exclaimed and sat up at once, wrapping his arms around my middle, trapping my arms against my sides. I laughed. He sniffled, nose running, against my chest. Lovely. I wanted my arms back.


     He pulled back, looking up at me with a pleased expression. I patted his leg. "Does this mean you do not want me to go away after all?"


     He shook his head with a smile, but rubbed his finger under his nose.


     "So what's the matter, Obi?" I asked, knowing quite well but wanting to hear it from him. Truth was, there was a nasty cold bug that had been spreading through the students for a week now. I'd actually been surprised Obi-Wan hadn't come down with it sooner.


      "I haved't beed feelig so hot," he admitted. "I... I thig it's a code." He sighed and reached over to his nightstand where a small pile of balled-up tissues had been piled. He sifted through, selecting one he could still use and lifted it to his nose. "HUH-Shhhhh! HEHT-Chhhhh!" He sounded stuffy, quite tired of sneezing, and looked a bit embarrassed as he snuffled and rubbed at his pinkened nose with the used tissue.


           "I think it's a code, too," I joked, offering the handkerchief I kept in my front pocket, pressed and ready. As I healer, I refused to even leave my quarters without a handkerchief in case such a similar situation arose. Especially during cold season. And especially with young Padawans stuck indoors all the time. "Blow your nose," I instructed, reaching over and rubbing the top of Obi-Wan's head, his buzzed hair soft against my palm. "You need it badly."


     He nodded and obeyed, a flush of embarrassment in his cheeks. He knew I should be scolding him on a good number of things. For allowing himself to fall sick with a common ailment. For not taking better care of himself now that he had come down with something. For not even acquiring a few proper handkerchiefs or asking for an extra box of tissues. For allowing others to catch what he had. For not contacting me for assistance. But I hadn't intended to bring those up, and the red of his cheeks told me that he already knew and had learned his lesson.


     "How is your workload this week?" I asked, standing so my weight was off the bed, then pulled one of his blankets around his shoulders. "What do I need to have you excused from?"


     He shrugged. "Dod't bother. I've got a lot of worg. I've got to do it." He started to pull off the blanket so that he could get up, apparently to do the work. I felt his stress level rise to a panic and sickness.


     I wrapped my arm around him, securing the blanket in place and holding him down. "You weren't doing your work before I came in, which means you feel too sick to do it right now. I'll give you a medical excuse because you deserve it. You're sick and you shouldn't have to worry about all that work." I touched his forehead and it was burning up, not surprisingly. "So I don't want you to worry about it after I leave, either." These over-achieving Jedi. Never knew when to give in and admit a little help when there was work to be done. "Now, what all do you have to do this week?"


     My convincing speech as a healer seemed to have worked. He leaned into me with a deep sigh which I took to be a thank you, or as close as I'd get from him on this subject. "Just classes, I guess. Baster Qui-God gabe be a whole lot of worg but doesd't deed to see it udtil dext week. Sniff, sniff!" He wiped his nose with the handkerchief. "Says he's very busy add cad't see be udtil thed."


     I raised an eyebrow in suspicion. Too busy for his Padawan learner? Did he even know Obi-Wan had fallen ill? "Really, now?" Obi-Wan nodded in confirmation and I made a mental note to go see Qui-Gon a little later and give him a talk about taking care of his little Padawan better. I wrapped the blanket tighter around Obi-Wan, then eased him back down onto the bed. "Well, don't you worry about any of that. Just concentrate on feeling better. I'll send over a med droid with a box of tissues and some juice for you. And I want you to try and eat something tonight at dinnertime. Will you be all right?"


     Obi-Wan looked up at me, a pleading look in his eyes that seemed to answer 'no' to my question. "Tala," he whispered. "I dod't wadt to stay here." He raised the handkerchief once more. "HEH-Chuhhh!" A pause. He waited. "HIH-Yetchuhhh!" And he blew his nose furiously before continuing. "I'll mage everyode sig. Isd't there a bed at the healig cedter I could use?"


     Hardly anybody got any privacy in this place when sick, that was true. And with a half dozen roommates to worry about also, I could sympathize. "I'm afraid they're all full. I could offer you the bed in my own quarters if you like, but I'm afraid there isn't anything from keeping the patients nearby from catching your cold either."


     He looked disappointed and sniffled. "I would't kig you out of your owd bed, Tala," he said, snuggling up with the blankets. "I just thought I'd... I'd ask..." he trailed off, seizing the handkerchief again. "heh...HEH-EHHshhhhh! IHH-Shhhhh!"


     "Arnup'tchow," I whispered, putting my hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder and giving it a gentle rub. "I'll see what I can do about your sleeping situation, how's that?" He gave me another bright smile and my heart melted for the little guy. Poor thing, sick in bed with a cold and worried about giving it to his roommates. And the closest thing he's got to a dad can't be bothered with him for a week. It was the least I could do. "Now get some rest and drink a lot of liquids. I'll be back to check on you tonight after my rounds."  Obi-Wan nodded obediently and, sniffling, closed his eyes to go to sleep.


     I headed over to the bed two down from Obi's where Malik lay sniffling. "Good morning," I greeted him, and he whimpered, retreating beneath the covers. Sick Padawans. They were all the same.


*          *          *


     I knocked on the door of Qui-Gon's quarters for the third time, before using my medical override and letting myself in. The living room area was dark, but there was a dim light from the bedroom area. It was only early afternoon, and I was used to seeing Qui-Gon hard at work at his desk, not closed off in his bedroom at this time of day. "Qui-Gon!" I called out, closing the door behind me. "It's me, Tala." Not that I really needed to identify myself as I was sure Qui-Gon had sensed me just fine already.


     He came through from the bedroom with his robe on, though it had slid off one shoulder and was about to do the same on the other one. He had a balled up handkerchief in one hand, which he lifted to his nose as he sniffled with congestion, then drew a heavy breath and sneezed wetly. "hatchooo! Hetchooo! hihchooo!" He dabbed gently at his nose which, I saw when he lowered the handkerchief at last, was bright red at the end to offset his pale face. "Tala," he gave a weak smile. "How'd you know I was sick?"


     "I'm a healer, it's my job to know these things," I fibbed, hoping he wouldn't pick up on the lie. I directed him towards the couch and waved my hand to turn on the lights. My limited Jedi abilities were still good for something now and again. "How's the cold?"


     "Miserable," he replied. His voice was a little congested, but clear enough for him to sound much like himself, albeit at a slightly lower tone. "I can't stop... snee...zing..."  He buried his face in the handkerchief again. "Hetchoo! Hetchuhh! Hihtchuhh!" There was one more, and he waited for it, wheezing slightly, eyes shut tightly. "Hah-tchoo!"


     "Arnup'tchow," I whispered, guiding his head to my shoulder as I put an arm around him. Now I saw why Qui-Gon had given his student so much work to keep him occupied for a week. "Blow your nose," I instructed. I pulled out the handkerchief in my back pocket and handed it over. "Here. Looks like you could use a fresh hanky," I told him, hugging him close as he had begun to shiver.


     "Thanks," he replied, snuggling close to me for the warmth. He rubbed at his nose with a sigh. "You're right. That is much better."


     I bet it was. "I'll have a droid bring you over some tissues, and some juice. Have you been drinking enough?" He shrugged. "Well if you don't know then you should probably drink more."


     "hetCHOO! HhihChoo!" He shook, then relaxed against me once again. "Sorry," he mumbled into the handkerchief before blowing his nose.


     "You think I haven't seen this a hundred times already today?" I laughed, running my hand through his hair comfortingly like I used to do back when we were roommates and he was stressed or wasn't feeling well. "There's a rash of colds all over the planet. It's the season for them. You were bound to come down with something sooner or later."


     He shook his head and grabbed a couch cushion, hugging it as he curled up, with his head in my lap. "So why'd it have to be sooner?" Nothing reduced the great Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn to a child like a head cold.  I stroked his head and he closed his eyes, sniffling, whimpering so softly I barely heard him. Worse than the Padawans was he, and I didn't mean the ailment.


     "The sooner you get sick, the sooner you'll get over it." He whimpered again and I couldn't help but roll my eyes. "Come on, over to bed with you, and I'll get you a drink."


     He shook his head again, sniffling into the handkerchief in one hand while he hugged the cushion with the other. "I've got two reports to file, and a meeting with the council... tomor... oh not again-hehIHshoo! Hehtchoo! hahShoo!"


     "Arnup'tchow." He relaxed again, blowing his nose. "Well, you were taking a nap before I got here which means you felt too sick to do work--"


     "How'd you know I was--"


     "How long have we known each other?" I felt his forehead, finding it slightly hotter than Obi-Wan's, though that was at least twenty forehead feels ago. It had been a busy day. "I know you, and I know we won't be getting any work done once I'm gone. I'll grant you medical leave. I don't want you working until you're feeling better."


     He shivered and rubbed his nose. I could sense it coming before he could, before he even tensed up and drew breath. But it did come, and he sneezed hard. I put my hand on his arm to hold him steady as he shook. "hih-Ihshooo! Heh-Shooo! Hih...ehhh...ehhShoo!" I pushed his hair back from his face and combed it into my fist in a ponytail but had nothing to bind it with. That didn't matter as long as it was out of his face as he sniffled and rubbed at his nose. "Tala, I'm not a little Padawan, I don't need a note. I can take care of myself."


     I raised my eyebrows. The opportunity was too good to miss. "If you could take care of yourself that you wouldn't be here right now with a head cold."


     He growled and pushed my hand away. Qui-Gon pulled himself up, straightening his robe and sniffling. I stood as well and put a hand against the small of his back. "Off to bed then. I'll tuck you in and check on you later after I've made your excuses to the council."


     Qui-Gon shook his head, sniffling, but obeying. He mounted the bed at the foot and crawled up it to the top, then beneath the covers. "They're going to kill me when you tell them," he muttered, his head sinking into the pillow as I brought the blankets up and folded them down to his shoulders so he'd be free to breathe.


     "As if none of them have ever caught a cold? I told you it's going around this season. Of course they won't be angry at you." I petted his head again to comfort him. He sniffled but nodded in agreement with me, or perhaps to indicate that they would indeed be angry. Either way, he said nothing else about it. He shivered, curling up on one side of his very large bed. "Still cold?" I asked, rubbing my hand up and down his arm now through the blanket.


     "Why, do you want to get in here and warm me up?" he asked jokingly.


     I raised my eyebrows again. "What, and catch your cold? I've got enough patients to worry about without having to deal with my own sniffles thank you very much." Qui-Gon laughed. That was a good sign. I'd been there nearly half an hour now and finally I'd gotten him to laugh. His fever couldn't have been that high. "Have a good sleep, my friend. I'll be back to check on you and bring you something to make you feel better. Maybe I can scrounge up some tea." I watched him yawn and close his eyes pleasantly. And I decided he needed sleep more than he needed a glass of juice, so I let that matter drop. I would send a med droid a bit later though.


*          *          *


     "Obi-Wan..." I whispered, glass of juice in one hand, my other shaking him gently to wake. "Wake up and take some juice."


     Obi-Wan woke, groggy and sniffley. I already had some tissues ready, and he blew his nose at least ten times before speaking. "Oh, hi, Tala." No hug this time. He must have been feeling worse.


     "Oh hi, yourself." I handed over the glass and instructed him to drink it all. "You didn't eat anything for dinner like I asked, did you?" I inquired, standing and walking over to the middle drawer of the dresser he shared with his roommates.


     Obi-Wan shook his head, still sniffling. Then sneezed as well with relief, as though it allowed him to keep from answering my question out loud. "HAH-Shhhh! HEHTChhhhh! HIT-chhhhh!"


     I continued on, not drawing attention to the sneezes as he blew his nose and pulled his blankets up further to hide himself. "But you got a good nap, which is just as important." I took out a few pairs of sleep pants and shirts, though Obi-Wan seemed content to sleep without one, as well as socks and undies. "Which one is your toothbrush?" I asked, piling the clothes at the foot of his bed then heading to the bathroom.


     "The blue ode," he called, and I repressed a smile. Blue, like his light saber. I should have guessed. He was propped up on an elbow when I returned and gathered his clothes in my arms again. "Why?"


     "You did ask me for somewhere else to sleep, didn't you?" Obi-Wan nodded. "Well, I've found you a place. So get up and put your robe on and I'll take you over." He didn't hesitate, but he didn't move very quickly either. I had to physically hand over his things and pull him off the bed. He walked slowly as well, stopping every few minutes to get out a few tissues and blow his nose or sneeze.


     "IHH-Chuhhh! HEHChuhhh!" He gave a bit of a groan as he averted his eyes from the others passing in the corridor who gave him looks of suspicion or sympathy or whatever else. "Tala," he whispered, rubbing his nose with the balled up tissues and pushing them back into his pocket. "How buch futher?"


     I took his things from him and put my arm around his waist from behind. "Not much. You're doing fine, just keep going. I've got you." He leaned on me, sniffling. I'm sure he was doubtful that all was going fine, but that didn't matter. We were almost there. And after a few more hallways, we were there.


     We stood outside, and Obi-Wan looked at the door skeptically. "Tala, these are Qui-God's quarters."


     "Mmm hmm," I said with a smile, then knocked on the door.


           Obi-Wan took a step back, tightly gripping my arm with both his hands. "I haved't dode ady of the worg he gabe be. Add he'll be agry I caught a code. He's beed wardig be to do the brober healig beditatiods, add still I get sig. He'll kill me!"


     "He'll do nothing of the sort," I replied, trying to pry at least one of his hands off before he cut off the circulation in my arm completely. "He'll offer you a warm bed to sleep in and pass you tissues when you have the sneezes. Now," I typed in my override code, sensing again that Qui-Gon was in but simply not in the mood to answer the door. "Let's go in." I nearly had to drag the Padawan inside and I quickly shut the door behind so that he could not bolt back out.


     The living room area was lit this time, as was his bedroom, which he came out of. "Tala, you've got to stop barging in on me like... this..." he voice died away, but not from an impending sneeze. He stood still a moment, looking Obi-Wan over from head to toe. And Obi-Wan took in his Master's unkempt appearance, for Qui-Gon had changed into his pajamas since last I had seen him. The moment was long, full of meaning, full of understanding, though neither took his eyes off the other so much as to even look in my direction. If I hadn't known any better, I would have thought they were speaking telepathically, but Obi-Wan was much too young yet and usually with my limited Jedi skills I can sense thought transmissions. Still, perhaps they were communicating silently in their own way.


     Then, as though timed perfectly to break the silence, one of Qui-Gon's hands grasped the molding around the doorway. His other clenched into a fist, raised to his nose. "huhChoo!"


     At nearly the same moment, Obi-Wan pulled one of the remaining unused tissues from his pocket and held it up to his face with both hands. "HAHT-Chhhh! HIT-Shhhh! HEPT-ttshhhhh!" he sneezed weakly, swaying a little, and shivering a little. I went to steady him, but Qui-Gon was already there in two strides with one hand on Obi-Wan's back and his other grasping the young man's arm. "Baster Qui-God--" Obi-Wan began, but was cut off.


     "Hush, Padawan. There's no need." He steered Obi-Wan to the bedroom, turned down the covers, and helped Obi-Wan off with his robe.


     "I'll just put your things on the dresser, here," I told Obi-Wan, following them into the bedroom.


     Qui-Gon tucked Obi-Wan into his bed at once, laying a palm against Obi-Wan's head, then looking up at me. I nodded, knowing Qui couldn't possibly accurately sense the fever with his own cold interfering. "You stay warm under the covers," Qui-Gon instructed. "I'll go get you some juice." I smiled at how Qui-Gon had completely forgotten his own suffering in the face of his Padawan's. Now this was the Qui-Gon I knew.


     I crossed the room and blocked the door, my hand on Qui-Gon's chest. "I'll go get the juice. There's no need for you to bother." I caught a flash of relief behind Qui-Gon's eyes. As much as I knew he wanted to care for Obi-Wan, he was just as sick, and he knew it. I headed over to the kitchen area and poured two glasses of juice, glad to see that the medical droid had brought enough to last them quite a while.


I returned to find Qui-Gon settling into the bed himself, a bit hesitantly and cautiously, but Obi-Wan on the other hand seemed to welcome it. Qui-Gon propped himself up with pillows, then assisted Obi-Wan in doing the same. I quickly hid outside the room, back flat against the wall outside to listen in on their conversation. I had forced them together a bit swiftly, and I sensed they could use another few moments to each other.


     "heh...heh...HAHShhhh! HETChhhh!" That was Obi-Wan sneezing.


     "Here," and that was Qui-Gon.


     "Thag you Baster Qui-God," he snuffled and blew his nose.


     Qui-Gon laughed. "Call me Qui until your nose clears, all right, Padawan?"


     "Yes, Baster Qui."


     More deep laughter, then some congested coughing. "Just Qui." The blankets rustled and there was a soft grunt. "What's wrong? Not com... comfortable...?" I knew that sound in his voice. He was about to sneeze. "hehChooo! ahhTchhhh!" Quiet sneezes, but wearisome nonetheless. I wondered how long since he had had a proper rest.


     Obi-Wan's voice was timid. "Bless you. Yes, I'b cobfortable, just... a little..."


     "Cold?" The Jedi Master finished for him. Then there was silence. "Me too, little one." Another pause. "Come here?" It was a request, not a command, but his voice was so soft and caring I nearly went to him. There was an instant loud rustling of movement, then a sigh, and I took it as my cue to enter.


Before I could even get to the bed, Qui-Gon had pillows under his own head, and an arm around Obi-Wan who was resting his head on Qui-Gon's chest, his arm draped over in a loose hug. Qui-Gon was running his hand through what short hair Obi-Wan had in the same comforting way I did for him. Both men, though they looked pale and tired, wore unmistakable smiles and seemed warm and comfortable beneath the blankets.


     "Juice," I announced, sitting down on the edge of the bed beside Obi-Wan. But the young man wasn't currently able to take the drink from me. He tensed, pulling away from his master a bit, though Qui-Gon kept a protective arm around him. "HAHShhhh! HAH-Chhuhhh! Chushhhh!" He sneezed and Qui-Gon passed him over a handful of tissues from the box on his bedside table. I had to keep the drinks steady so as not to spill them with the shaking of the bed after the sneezes.


     "Bless..." he managed to whisper before the tickles caught up with him. As Obi-Wan tended to his runny nose, Qui-Gon stiffened as well. "huh-Uhshhhh!" The sneeze shook him forward and shook the bed almost as much as Obi-Wan's had.


     "Bless. Here," Obi-Wan said, offering one of his tissues back over to his master, and I could see the smile on Obi-Wan's face behind the tissues he rubbed his nose with.


     Qui-Gon accepted, chuckling softly, then took Obi-Wan in another warm embrace. I pulled the fallen covers over them both and administered juice and extra tissues to both. "Am I to assume you don't need me to stop by again tonight to check up on you?" They both shook their heads. Obi-Wan sipped his juice, then closed his eyes, resting his head on Qui-Gon's shoulder. Qui-Gon just beamed and held him closer. "Feel better then," I wished them, and let myself out. I had promised to bring something that would make him feel better, hadn't I? It looked like Obi-Wan had been the perfect thing.