Title: The Light

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Star Wars

Rating: PG13 (for very, very tame smarm)

Parings: Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan

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.

Summary: Two years after Qui-Gon's death, Obi-Wan finds himself trying to handle Anakin, despite coming down sick. Luckily, he gets some help.




The Light


     Obi-Wan hovered over the burner in the small kitchenette, staring at the teapot as though he could use the force to will it to heat faster. "Hurry up," he muttered to himself, rocking forwards and backwards on the balls of his feet. After another minute, he decided it was warm enough. He pulled the pot from the stove and poured the water, stirring the tea in and taking several large gulps of it before breaking for a breath.


     //Slowly, now.// The soothing voice rang in his head and he closed his eyes with a nod. He began to drink more slowly, savoring the taste this time. It was almost exactly how Qui-Gon used to make it, albeit Qui-Gon's had been a bit hotter.


     "Master Obi-Wan?"


     Obi-Wan nearly dropped the cup. He had not sensed Anakin's presence, yet there the boy was. He cleared his throat and turned around with a forced smile. "Morning, Anakin. Sleep well?"


     Anakin nodded and yawned. He sat down at the small table but did not take his eyes off his master. "You?"


     Obi-Wan shrugged and turned back around, getting things out of the cabinets. "Not as well as I would have liked and my morning meditations ran long. I have not had the chance to prepare your breakfast yet, I'm afraid."


     "That's all right," said Anakin cheerfully. "I have time before my first lesson. I'll go get something at the cafeteria."


     "You don't need to do that," said Obi-Wan, pouring some flakes into a bowl and taking the milk out of the fridge. "Just give me a moment--"


     "It's all right. I don't mind," said Anakin in the smallest, most considerate of his voices. He got up. "I'll head over there right now."


     Obi-Wan sighed and nodded, turning back around. Perhaps it was for the best. "As you wish, my Padawan. Have a good day. And may the force be with you."


     "And with you, Master!" he chirped and gave Obi-Wan a wave as he left their quarters. His back was turned, but Obi-Wan sensed it.


     Suddenly alone again, Obi-Wan abandoned the half-made breakfast to slump down into the other chair at the table, elbows resting on the table, head in his hands. The pounding in his head had neither been quieted by a night's sleep nor by a morning healing trance. Even the tea did not seem to help the pains and aches in his body.


     There was no mistaking this feeling. He had felt it too many times before on too many occasions. "I'm getting sick," he muttered. Obi-Wan lifted his head to look into his bedroom. Dark and empty where once there had been such light and love. He couldn't bring himself to be sick in that bed again. He turned his eyes towards the sofa, head pounding at the movement, and decided it would do for a while. He would wake and shower before Anakin returned in the afternoon. Yes. That would be best.


     Obi-Wan pulled himself to his feet and willed the blanket over as he walked to the sofa. He wrapped it around his body then fell onto the cushions with a bit of a moan at the pain in his head. He wished very much that he hadn't done that. He sniffled and pulled the blanket tighter around himself, hugging the extra folds to his stomach, rubbing his cheek on the soft fabric. Comfortable and cozy, he closed his eyes and thought back.


~ * ~


     //Asleep on the sofa again, my Obi-Wan?//


     Not asleep any longer, thanks to that voice. Young Obi-Wan pulled his blanket closer around himself and rubbed his cheek against the blanket, feeling its soft fuzzies embrace his face. He smiled mildly but found absolutely no reason to want to open his eyes. He knew what Qui-Gon looked like well enough. Four years as a man's Padawan and two as his lover and you tended to learn his face.


     "Obi-Wan?" His voice was stern, commanding.


     This was reason enough. Obi-Wan pulled up his heavy eyelids and squinted upwards. "Hello, Master Qui-Gon." He hoped that he sounded more pleasant to those listening to him than he did to hear himself.


     Qui-Gon Jinn did not look amused. He stood tall, arms crossed over his chest. "When I come home and find you asleep on the couch, it generally means one of three things. First," and he began to pace, much to Obi-Wan's dismay. It was never a good sign when he paced. "You have been up all night doing studying you should have completed earlier. Or second, you were reading those graphic novels about space pirates and bounty hunters that I told you not to read because they would make you unable to fall right to sleep and give you nightmares. Or third--"




     Qui-Gon stopped in mid-sentence and mid-step. He looked down to see Obi-Wan sniffling, a finger rubbing boyishly beneath his nose, a flush of embarrassment in his cheeks. Qui-Gon sighed and squatted down. He pulled out his handkerchief and tended to Obi-Wan's nose. "It is the third then, is it?" The Padawan nodded meekly. Obi-Wan leaned forward and kissed his hot forehead. "Would you like me to go make you some tea, Love?" Obi-Wan nodded and closed his tired eyes once more.


     Qui-Gon brought the tea back and scooted Obi-Wan over so that he could sit on the edge of the couch to tend to his Padawan. Obi-Wan sniffled, looking up at Qui-Gon rather reluctantly. "I could go back to my bedroom if you do not want me on the couch," he volunteered, already preparing to get up.


     But Qui-Gon shook his head. "No, Love. Just stay where you're comfortable. I mind it not." It would be easier to watch after Obi-Wan with him out in the middle of their quarters rather than stuck back in his own bedroom anyway. He pulled over one of the couch cushions to prop Obi-Wan up with better and handed him the tea. Obi-Wan took it gratefully and began drinking with eager gulps. Qui-Gon reached out and touched his wrist gently to stop him. //Slowly, now.// Obi-Wan smiled and obeyed, drinking more slowly.


     When finished, he handed the tea back and curled back up, sniffling. Qui-Gon, sensing the impending sneeze perhaps even before Obi-Wan was aware of it, pressed the handkerchief to the Padawan's nose. "huhh...Uhh-SHEHhhh! huhKESHHH!" Obi-Wan froze in place as Qui-Gon rubbed his nose dry for him, then eased him back against the pillows with a gentle touch. "Thank you, Master."


     "Thank me by getting some sleep and feeling better." He pulled the large blanket warmly around Obi-Wan, tucking it between him and the back of the sofa, and tucking it under him on the other side. He leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on Obi-Wan's lips. His beard tickled Obi's face, and the Padawan smiled as he drifted off to sleep.


~ * ~


     "But why did you fall asleep on the sofa?" asked Anakin, trailing Obi-Wan from the living area to his bedroom. The boy did not cross the threshold inside, but instead hung in the doorway to nag at him.


     "I was tired, Anakin," replied Obi-Wan, trying to let the force guide him past the pointless emotion of getting annoyed with his Padawan for simply being curious. Curiosity was a trait to be praised, not condemned. Obi-Wan only wished his student had picked any other target than himself.


     "But why not sleep in your bed?" he asked. "And why were you tired? Was it because you did not get a good sleep last night?"


     Obi-Wan gave a great inward sigh as he slipped his robes over his head and slid his arms through. "Please let it rest, Anakin." He had possessed every intention of waking before Anakin's return, but had slept soundly through the morning, mid-day, and afternoon. He had awoken at the sound of the door to their quarters sliding open. "Do not question my actions any further. It is not your place."


     Anakin huffed, arms crossed over his chest. "You always say that."


     "And I will continue to say it until you learn your place, my young Padawan." But Obi-Wan smiled again as he turned back around. "I am in the mood for some ice cream. Would you like to stop for some on the way back from saber training?"


     Anakin's face burst with a smile, from his round cheeks to his sparkling eyes. "I would like that very much, Master."


     Obi-Wan nodded. And so it was decided. "Good. Now go collect your light saber and we will head down to the garden for practice." Anakin lingered, looking suddenly very guilty about something. "Anakin?" said Obi-Wan sternly, and he raised his eyebrows in an 'out with it!' sort of way.


     "Master Obi-Wan... I..." he hesitated, looking down at his feet and going a bit red in the cheeks. Obi-Wan cleared his throat loudly in indication that he wanted his Padawan to continue. Anakin swallowed and finished, still looking at the floor. "I am not exactly sure where my light saber is. You see, I was practicing yesterday morning--"


     "When you should have been studying astronomy," Obi-Wan added.


     "Yes, Master," he said ashamedly. "And I'm not sure where..."


     Feeling that the Padawan had suffered enough guilt for the moment, Obi-Wan spoke up again. "Your light saber is on top of your dresser. I found it beneath your dresser yesterday while putting away your clothes." Anakin's face lit up considerably. "Do not misplace it again, Young One. You should not need me to yet again explain the importance of a light saber to a Jedi."


     Anakin shook his head. "No, Master. And thank you for finding it for me."


     "Run along, quickly now." He ushered Anakin towards the Padawan's room with a few waves of his hands. Alone once again, he quickly pulled out his handkerchief and rubbed at his nose through the folds. It was tickley, runny, and he was exorcising considerable restraint to keep from sneezing in front of Anakin. But he took advantage of his solitude. "huh...hehEhtchiii! hetCheeeh!" He blew his nose then took up a clean handkerchief and a spare one just in case. He tucked them away and headed into the main area just as Anakin emerged, his light saber hanging from his belt now. Obi-Wan placed a hand on the boy's shoulder and together they headed out.


     Training went along nicely for the first hour or so. They rehearsed basic formations and strategies that Obi-Wan had discussed last session.  For a boy who had just learned the basics at a much older age than younglings were when normally taught saber skills, he showed incredible promise. His preciseness in movements was unprecedented, and his ability to predict oncoming danger was unbelievable. But then Anakin grew frustrated with a particular defensive movement and Obi-Wan grew tired.


     "But I don't understand!" the young Padawan Learner whined, lowering his saber. "It's jut a defensive move, it's not important how properly I do it as long as it blocks the attack. If I do well enough on offense, I don't need to learn defense so well." Anakin, several years too old for one, nonetheless needed a nap.


     Obi-Wan, many years too old for one, strongly needed a nap. He sighed and rubbed the side of his hand against an aching brow. "Jedi rarely take the offensive in a fight for any reason other than to strike a final blow and win the battle. We do not usually start fights by attacking and *even if*" he stressed, heading off Anakin's new complaint before it could leave the boy's mouth "even if we are on the offensive, it is vitally important to understand the defensive moves and strategies. If you do not understand exactly the position your opponent is in, you have no hope of beating him or her. You must learn to move to master technique, yes, but you must also understand it, Anakin. Know your opponent's weaknesses and strengths with every motion they make."


     Anakin grumbled. It seemed as though his arm was too weak to hold up his saber any longer. "You make it sound as though I will have to fight saber duels often."


           Obi-Wan did not want to break into another discussion about the Sith. Every time the subject turned in that direction, all he could bring to mind was Qui-Gon's dead body. Qui-Gon who should have been the one to survive that battle. There was no reason why it had to have been Obi-Wan. Not when Qui-Gon was wiser and stronger and would have made a much better Master for Anakin. "I think that's enough for today, my young Padawan. Practice your katas and we'll be on our way."


     The young boy narrowed his eyes. "Will we still stop for ice cream?"


     Obi-Wan took the boy's saber with a nod. "*If* you finish your katas. Now, go on. Let me see your form." He sat down on the garden bench to watch the young padawan move gracefully in place, moving the whole strength of his body through his limbs, punching forward, kicking high. Looking around to be sure no one was watching, he pulled out his handkerchief and rubbed his nose. It was feeling stuffier and stuffier as the day went on but he had managed to hold back his snifflings to the point when they weren't noticeable. Anakin, who was usually very observant, did not even notice. Nor did the young Padawan see him rubbing his nose this time. Anakin was too absorbed in his routine for such things. He was concentrating hard at being graceful.


     And Anakin was graceful, yes, but sloppier than usual. His thrusts and movements were much too weak at times and much too forceful at others. Obi-Wan did not have a good feeling about this but did not feel well enough to stop the boy mid-routine and correct every problem. Perhaps they could discuss the faults during dinner. Or at tomorrow's session. Obi-Wan sighed and lowered his head into his hands again, thumbs rubbing at his forehead. Softly he muttered, "I can't imagine ever frustrating my master like this."


     //Oh, how quickly they forget,// whispered a voice in his ear. Obi-Wan lifted his head with a bit of a smile.


~ * ~


     Qui-Gon came out of the 'fresher after a morning shower and trim to his beard to find the sofa empty and the blanket abandoned. He sensed that Obi-Wan was still in their quarters, and poked his head into his Padawan's bedroom. "Obi?"


     Obi-Wan appeared from the far corner, wearing his full uniform and robes and carrying his saber in hand. "Yes Master?"


     Qui-Gon went forward slowly, looking his Padawan up and down. "Why are you dressed? Did I not tell you to rest?"


     Obi-Wan tucked his light saber safely into his belt. "I have classes in a few minutes, Master. That test on governmental procedures outside the republic, and then saber practice with the other Pada...Padawans..." He spun on the spot and lifted his hand to his face. "uhhhSHEHHH! Huh-CHEHHH!" He sniffled wetly and rubbed the side of his hand at his nose. "Excuse me."


     Qui-Gon came close and put a hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder to turn him back around. He felt the heat from Obi-Wan's skin and laid a hand on his forehead. The boy burned with fever, but his over-bright eyes shone with hope and duty. //Oh, how quickly they forget,// said Qui-Gon through their bond with a smile. He pulled Obi-Wan close, resting the Padawan's head against his chest to comfort him. "Obi, Love, you're ill. There's no need for you to attend practices or sit for exams. Part of being a Jedi is knowing where your limits lie. And if you cannot still draw that line for yourself, as your Master I must do it for you." He reached down and pulled Obi-Wan's light saber from his belt, then levitated it over to the top of the dresser.


     "But Master, I have responsibilities. I will not be allowed to make up the exam. And they will be one short at practice if I do not give them time for a replacement." Obi-Wan held his hand out to will his saber back, but Qui-Gon pulled his hand back.


     "I will make your excuses. The only responsibility you have right now is to your body. It needs rest and care if it is to recover. The sooner you give it that, the sooner you will be able to attend classes and practices once again. And after that last fiasco, I am certainly not taking a sick Padawan with me on a mission offworld." He gently stroked Obi-Wan's soft cheek. "Now, the only thing you must do is decide whether you want to rest in our bed or back out on the sofa."


     Obi-Wan pulled back a little, nodding his head towards the sofa. Without another word, Qui-Gon silently helped his Padawan change back into pajamas, then escorted him back to the sofa where Obi-Wan crawled beneath the warm blanket. He seemed to look relieved once he was there, with Qui-Gon sitting beside him and stroking him in comfort. And when his head began to ache again, Qui-Gon was there to press a cold hand on his forehead and rub gently.


~ * ~


     "Master Obi-Wan? Have you a headache?"


     Obi-Wan looked up, only just realizing that he had his head in his hands again and had been again rubbing at his own forehead in an attempt to alleviate the pain. "Thank you for your concern, but I am all right," Obi-Wan replied, not a lie but certainly not a complete truth either. He stood and put a hand on Anakin's shoulder. "Are you still interested in ice cream?" The boy nodded excitedly and they headed home by way of a small ice cream shop on the other side of the park.


     They waited in what was a very short line, Anakin bouncing excitedly as he tried to decide on a flavor. When it was their turn, Obi-Wan ordered for them. "One double scoop of strawberry-vanilla and one... Padawan?" He looked down, eyebrows raised and the ice cream man followed his gaze down to young Anakin.


     "Chocolate almond fudge." Anakin announced it with such excited decisiveness that he might as well have been declaring the solution to universal peace. Neither man could resist smiling at him. They collected their ice creams, Obi-Wan pressed his thumb on the pad to pay, and they headed back to their quarters, eating quickly before their ice cream dripped down to their hands.


     "Why do you always get that same flavor, Master?" Anakin asked, looking up at Obi-Wan as they walked.


     "Why do you always get a flavor you have never tried before?" Obi-Wan asked right back. The ice cream was delightful. Exactly what he'd needed. It cooled him sufficiently and soothed his burning throat.


     "I like trying new things," answered Anakin. "I want to try every single flavor there is."


     Obi-Wan smiled. "And I like eating the one I know is my favorite." Though truth was, he hadn't tried every flavor to be sure this was his absolute favorite. He had barely tried a handful. But the flavor was more than a taste to him. It was a collection of fond memories. The memory of his tonsillitis and how Qui-Gon fetched him bowl after bowl of ice cream until his throat felt better. The memory of his first meeting of the healer Tala who was now one of his closest friends. The memory of how every time he was sick, Qui-Gon would surprise him with a bowl of ice cream to make him feel better. Truth was, it wasn't until now that he realized why he had craved the ice cream so badly. And it was rather sad to finish it off just as they reached their quarters.


     "Have you studied thoroughly for your exam tomorrow, Anakin?" Obi-Wan asked as he squatted down and took out his spare handkerchief. He wiped the remnants of ice cream boy's face. Anakin waiting for him to finish, then shook his head. "Well, then I believe I know what you will be doing this afternoon. Call me if you need me to test you on the facts." Anakin nodded and headed to his room.


     Obi-Wan sat down on the couch with a sigh. He wanted more tea badly but had not the energy to get up and fix some. Nor did he want to bother Healer Tala about it. Knowing Tala, he would move right in until Obi-Wan stopped sniffling and hover over the Jedi Master relentlessly with tea that made him sneeze. Obi-Wan did not especially want to invite in someone who would make him look childish in front of his Padawan. And he wasn't too badly off quite yet as to need to involve a healer.


     He rested an elbow on the arm of the couch and rested his head against his hand, closing his eyes. He felt perfectly miserable and didn't really feel like doing anything about it.


     //My Padawan... how are you feeling?//


     Obi-Wan smiled as the gentle voice soothed his ears. "Absolutely miserable, Master," he whispered back. Quickly, and with a glance at Anakin's room to be sure the boy was inside, he pulled out his handkerchief and lost himself in its folds. "herushhhh! hehShiiii! huhChee!" He blew his nose and then stifled a yawn into his handkerchief before tucking it back away.


     //Then perhaps you should lie down and try to rest?// Obi-Wan seemed reluctant. He wanted to be sure Anakin was working properly and then he had to start dinner. //There will be time enough for everything when you are feeling better. Please rest.// Obi-Wan shivered to feel something of a cool breeze brush his cheek lightly and he knew what that meant. Obi-Wan had never disobeyed an order from Qui-Gon before and he was not about to begin now. He did not realize exactly how much he'd needed a nap until it was fully upon him. When his eyes closed heavily with fatigue, there was no opening them again until he got some sleep.



     He had the strangest dream. Which was stranger yet considering that Jedi were not supposed to be conscious of their dreams if they had any in the first place. But it merely meant he was not fighting things as he should have been, not setting up the proper barriers, not protecting himself from the terrifying doubts and fears that his mind created when unconscious.


     In his dream he was wandering through the corridors with the feeling the whole time that he should be back in his quarters, asleep. But there was a bright, mysterious light that he caught out of only the corner of his eyes and the urge to follow it was too strong. He walked hurriedly down one corridor to find it just turning a corner up ahead. His paces quickened. Down it went through the hallways, past doors both familiar and un, until it got to the library. Obi-Wan was running by this point and tore into the library after what he was now sure was a bright light as tall as a man and he knew who it was. Obi-Wan ran down the center of the library, books sliding off the shelves in his wake, datapads swept off tables to the floor at his speed. He finally came to a stop at the bust of his master, those kind eyes glowing pointedly at him. "Master?" he whispered.


     "Obi-Wan," came Qui-Gon's voice from the bronze head. "You disappoint me by failing."


     Feeling hurt, Obi-Wan shook his head. "No, no master. I--"


     "I asked you to teach the boy. You are not teaching him."


     "I am Master!" Obi-Wan protested, perhaps a bit too much.


     There was a horrid screeching sound as the bronze head shook back and forth slowly. "No. You are playing the sick Padawan right now. You are not acting as a Master should."


     Obi-Wan's mouth hung open, not knowing what to say to this. "Master..." he breathed but found he could not continue. But as quickly as the light had appeared, it vanished. The head was again motionless, and Obi-Wan was very much cold and alone once more.




     "Master Obi-Wan?" Or perhaps not as alone as he had thought.


     Obi-Wan's eyes flew open. He was sitting on the couch still, head still resting on his hand. He burned with fever. He could feel the sweat on his forehead and when he breathed he felt the cold rush of air between his hot skin and sweat-soaked clothes. He sat up straight with a cough to clear his throat and buy him another moment to collect himself. "Anakin, yes, sorry. I must have fallen asleep." His eyes longed to close again even as he said the words, but he fought to keep them open, Qui-Gon's words still ringing in his ears. Jedi did not dream, not in the same way as others did. Thanks to the midi-chlorians, their dreams were always peaceful and suppressed in a way that they would not interfere with their waking hours. Apparently, he was too weak for the normal blocking and protection. Or perhaps it had not been a dream at all but a message. Anakin was still looking up at him, waiting patiently. Obi-Wan sighed. "What is it you want, Padawan?"


     Anakin held out the datapad. "You said you would quiz me to help me prepare for me exam tomorrow?" He looked up at Obi, a little worried as he kept his distance. "But if you need a nap I can come back later."


     Obi-Wan shook his head and balled up the blanket, pulling it onto his lap to make room for Anakin to climb onto the other side of the couch. "No, it's all right. Come sit. I will quiz you." He took the datapad from Anakin and gave it a look. His sight was blurry and at first he was unsure of what language it was written in, even. His head thumped when he tried to concentrate harder, then his eyes focused on a few words. He saw the phrases 'state-to-state compact' and 'realm-wide security under article five' but they didn't seem to make as much sense to him as they should have. Before he could formulate a single question, he felt the terrible urge to sneeze again, stronger than it had been all day. Knowing there was no way to hold this one back, he fished out his handkerchief, the one without the chocolate stains, and buried his nose in the folds. "huhSHEE! uhhCHESHH! heh...ehhh...ehhh-CHUSHH!"


     "Bless you Master!" young Anakin was nothing if not chipper. Obi-Wan would have preferred if the sneezes had gone unnoticed, or at the least uncommented about. "You're not coming down with something, are you?"


     Obi-Wan shrugged and lowered the handkerchief with a sniffle. "I'm well enough. Now... ah... tell me about the governmental system on Ad...Adlandia." Quickly he recovered the handkerchief. "huhkSHHH! hehTCHIII!" He blew his nose and, with a sigh, sat back against the couch. He looked over at Anakin's concerned expression. "All right," he whispered. "I think maybe I am coming down with something."


     Anakin crawled over and put his hand on Obi-Wan's forehead. "You're really warm, Master. Should I go call the healers? Your friend Tala could come over and help."


     Obi-Wan shook his head, pulling the blanket up over his chest. "It's just a little something. I'll be fine after a nap. How about I quiz you after din... dinner?" Turning his head to keep his sneezes away from Anakin, he brought the handkerchief again to his face. "uhhHutCHII! hetSHEII!"


     "That's fine." Anakin took his datapad back and climbed down from the high sofa. "Can I get you anything, Master Obi-Wan? My mother used to make me soup when I was feeling poorly."


     Both shivering and sweating at once, Obi-Wan shook his head. "No thank you, Padawan." Anakin nodded and returned to his room with the same cheerfulness as he'd had coming out. Obi-Wan groaned inwardly and sniffled into his handkerchief. There was no doubt now that he wasn't being a very good master, even after Qui's warning to him.


     //What's wrong, my Padawan?// came the soft, soothing voice in his ear again.


     Obi-Wan lay down on the couch, cuddling up with his blanket. He rested his head on a cushion then pulled the blanket over his head. "Go away," Obi-Wan whispered. "I'll just disappoint you."


     //You could never disappoint me,// said the voice. But Obi-Wan knew better.


~ * ~


     The blankets of Qui-Gon's bed weighted him down heavily which, Obi-Wan supposed, was one of the ways his master was assured Obi would stay put until he felt well again. Obi-Wan did not think his master needed to bother with such measures, but was indeed glad for the warmth the heavy blankets provided.


     Qui-Gon came in from the refresher, shaking a thermometer in his hand. "Why is it," he murmured, "that all the other masters' Padawans don't come down sick half as much as mine does?"


     Obi-Wan shrank back, sliding down beneath the blankets so that only his eyes peeked out. "I'b sorry, Baster." The blankets concealed the flush in his cheeks. "I did't bead to disaboidt you."


     Qui-Gon settled down on the side of his bed, still shaking the thermometer. "You could never disappoint me, my Love," he whispered, tugging the blankets down a little to gain access to Obi-Wan's whole face. "Now open your mouth and let me slide this under your tongue."


     The young Padawan stared at the thermometer a moment, feeling worse just looking at it. He guessed none of the other Jedi Masters had to buy thermometers to keep up with their Padawans' temperatures. He bet none of the other Jedi Masters had to spend so much time playing nursemaid to their sick Padawan Learners.


     "Open up now, Obi-Wan. Do not make me ask you twice." Qui-Gon's voice was full of warning, and Obi-Wan obeyed without further hesitation, pursing his lips to keep his mouth closed.


     Truth was that his nose tickled still and he was absolutely certain another sneeze would shortly be upon him. And it seemed that the sneezes did not care that he had a thermometer in his mouth this time. "Mmstff?" he tried to warn Qui-Gon as he desperately looked around for a clean handkerchief.


     "Don't try to talk while you have a thermometer in your mouth," Qui-Gon admonished. The Jedi Master had been blocking Obi-Wan since he had come down with the cold, for the young Padawan's ability to do so on his own was limited by weakness, and Qui-Gon wished to keep from catching the cold himself if it could be at all helped. But as his eyes fell on Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon did not need a word of communication to understand. He pulled out his handkerchief and pressed it to Obi-Wan's face immediately, pinching the boy's nose closed through it. Obi-Wan tried to keep from sneezing as best he could, holding back the urge and trying to breathe through his terribly stuffy nose at the same time. Behind the handkerchief, his face twitched from the tickles he was trying to restrain.


     Just as Obi-Wan was sure he had lost the fight, as his breath caught in a sharp gasp and his mouth fell open, Qui-Gon pulled the thermometer out and set his attention on the handkerchief he held up for Obi. "HUKTchiii! HetChee! HUHKtchhhhh!" He snuffled wetly into the handkerchief and Qui-Gon removed it, wiping his tender nose with care. "Sorry, Baster," he said through the congestion.


     "It's all right, Lad," Qui-Gon said softly, brushing his cool fingers against Obi-Wan's hot forehead. "You cannot help the sneezing. The thermometer was in for long enough, besides." He held it up with a showy little shake. "As I thought, you are running a temperature. Which means..." he trailed off, looking pointedly at Obi-Wan.


     Obi-Wan gave a short sigh, crossing his arms across his chest. "Which means no getting out of bed until it's normal again."


     Qui-Gon nodded. "That is correct." He passed his fingers over Obi-Wan's forehead again. "Now will you cough for me so that I can be sure it hasn't settled in your chest yet?"  Obi-Wan forced a dry cough. "Again?" He coughed again, deeper but still dry like the tickle against the back of his throat. "That's it, Love. Sounds all right for now. But it's that fever I worry about. Feel sick?"


     "Feel sick," he replied. And he pouted with a soft, pitiful sniffle. Qui-Gon sighed and pulled down the blankets, sliding beneath. He took Obi-Wan in his arms, brining the boy to his chest and wrapping his arms around tightly from behind. He snuggled him close, kissing below Obi's ear, then on Obi's neck. He pulled back after nuzzling affectionately. Obi-Wan smiled. "Feel better," he whispered.


     Qui-Gon smiled back. "I'll take care of you," he whispered. "I'll look after you."


     "You should't have to," Obi-Wan replied miserably.


     Qui-Gon hugged him tighter. "I'm in bed with you, keeping you warm and making you feel better, and still you find reason to complain and call this all your fault. Dear Love, just relax and concentrate on feeling better so you can be my sweet Padawan again." He sighed deeply and nuzzled Obi-Wan once more. "And then you can go back to pushing yourself too hard and being completely too adorable for me to resist. All right?" Obi-Wan nodded with reluctance but feeling too absorbed in comfort to complain any longer.


~ * ~


     //Obi-Wan,// came Qui-Gon's voice again, soft and soothing through the waves of the force which embraced the new Jedi Master. //How many times have I told you not to push yourself when you're sick?//


     Obi-Wan opened his eyes, afraid his dreams were getting to him again. "Master?" he whispered. "hehKSHII! hehTsheee! hehtshhhhh!" He pulled out his handkerchief and rubbed at his nose. "Master?"


           There was a slow flash of light and Qui-Gon's face appeared in front of his, squatting concernedly in front of the sofa. //I'm here, Love. How do you feel?//


     "Feel sick," Obi-Wan said softly. "I'm so sorry, Master. You wanted me to look after him better, and here I am sick."


     Qui-Gon shook his head slowly, looking much like the way the bust shook its head. //You have to take care of yourself, too.//


     Obi-Wan sniffled and rubbed at his nose. "You told me I wasn't being a good master. You told me I shouldn't be feeling sick when I've got a job to do."


     Qui-Gon looked concerned. //When did I say that?//


     "I had a dream," he said ashamedly. "A dream with you like this."


     //That wasn't me. That was your fever, my Love.// Qui-Gon raised his hand and brushed his fingers against Obi-Wan's forehead. Obi-Wan shivered violently as the cold chill penetrated his forehead and spread through the rest of his body like blood. Qui-Gon made to pull away but Obi-Wan whimpered. So Qui-Gon left his hand there, cool and soothing against the burning hot that was Obi-Wan's forehead. //You need to rest so that you can feel better and be my sweet Obi-Wan again. And then you can go back to pushing yourself too hard.//


     "But, Master... Anakin..." He clamped his handkerchief to his face. "hurksheee! hukCHISHH!" He blew his nose and closed his eyes. "I have to take care of Anakin."


     Qui-Gon smiled and shook his head. He leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on Obi-Wan's forehead. The man shook again with violent chills. //I'll take care of you and Ani. I'll watch over you both.// He pulled back with a soft smile. His gentle eyes sparkled as though he wanted nothing more than to take Obi-Wan in a hug and nuzzle him to sleep again. //Now stay warm and get some sleep.//


     Obi-Wan nodded wearily, in the middle of a fierce yawn. His eyes slowly closed and he drifted off to sleep with a smile on his face.



     Obi-Wan slept soundly for hours, straight through the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. He woke when he felt a hand touch his arm through the blanket and shake him. "Master?"


     He opened his eyes at once, expecting to see Qui-Gon there. But there was only young Anakin, looking cold. "M-master Obi-Wan?"


     Obi-Wan sat up, head spinning, eyes full of concern. "Anakin? Are you all right?" Anakin did not reply but did not need to. He gave a fierce shiver and Obi-Wan reached down and felt his forehead. It was burning hot. "Oh... my Lad..."


     Anakin did not move to cover his nose as he jerked forward. "ehtchhh!" He sniffed wetly. "I don't feel so good."


     Obi-Wan went for his handkerchief on instinct, then remembered it had been well used already. When he went for his spare, he remembered he'd used it, too. "Hop up here first," he mumbled. He pulled the blanket off himself and wrapped it around Anakin. The blanket was so large and thick that it came up around his ears and down past his feet in ripples for two feet. "One, two, three, jump." He pulled and Anakin jumped and then snuggled against Obi-Wan beside him on the sofa. Obi-Wan stood, looking back over his shoulder to be sure Anakin was all right as he headed for the refersher.


     He returned in a split second with a fresh handkerchief clutched in one hand shaking a thermometer in the other. He wasn't entirely certain why he had to shake it, but that's what Qui-Gon had done. Obi-Wan squatted down in front of the sofa and reached up, rubbing Anakin's nose dry. He started to insert the thermometer but stopped at the look on Anakin's face. "Going to sneeze?" he asked, and Anakin nodded. Obi-Wan guided the handkerchief into Anakin's hand and up to his face.


     "ehtchh! itchuh!"


     "Blesses. You know how to blow your nose, right?" Anakin nodded and performed to Obi-Wan's satisfaction.


     Obi-Wan decided to try the thermometer again, this time making sure Anakin was ready. "Do you have to sneeze again, Padawan?" Anakin shook his head. "Sure?" Anakin was sure. "All right, open your mouth and keep this under your tongue." Anakin obeyed and closed his eyes as he waited. The boy looked tired and not at all in the mood to be quizzed for his exam any longer.


     Obi-Wan pulled the thermometer out and rubbed Anakin's nose again for the boy was sniffling quite a lot. Anakin opened his eyes for the verdict. "You have got a temperature," Obi-Wan informed him. "And you know what that means?" Anakin, who had never before been sick around Obi-Wan shook his head, not knowing. "It means you're going straight to bed and you're not getting out until it's normal again." Anakin nodded with understanding. Obi-Wan looked over at the bedrooms, expecting both to be dark, empty and depressing. But there was an unmistakable faint glow coming from his.


~ * ~


     Obi-Wan woke in the middle of the night, his clothes soaked with sweat, the sheets sticking to him, the blankets keeping him from moving. The room was cold and dark and the bed empty apart from him. "Baster?" Obi-Wan called in a panic. His senses were going mad, telling him it was the middle of the day rather than the night, telling him that Qui-Gon had left him alone. "Qui?" he called again, more anxious, trying weakly to push the blankets down.


     //Calm yourself, Padawan. Everything's all right now.//  Qui-Gon came into the room with a bowl of ice cream cradled in both hands. He switched the bedside lamp on, flooding the room with a gentle glow that was as warm and soft as his presence. Qui-Gon settled on the bed and brushed his fingertips lightly over Obi-Wan's forehead. "I sensed you would wake soon and wanted to have this ready when you did." He leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on Obi-Wan's lips. The lips were soft and lonely and moved pleasantly to invite more. Qui-Gon obliged, letting his passion as much as his caring flow through the kiss until Obi-Wan's mouth tugged on his lower lip, then released it. "How are you, my Love?"


     Obi-Wan's heart was starting to slow back down to normal at the sight of Qui-Gon's face and the feel of his comforting touch. "Better dow that you're here. hehTchehh! hihKtchhh!" He sniffled and rubbed at his nose. "Is that for be?"


     "Mmhm," Qui-Gon handed the ice cream over carefully as he propped the pillows up behind Obi-Wan and helped him sit. "Now eat it slowly," Qui-Gon reminded him, and Obi-Wan had to work to do so, the strawberry-vanilla taste dancing in his mouth and soothing his throat. Qui-Gon wrapped his arm around Obi-Wan and drew him close, taking in a deep, relaxing breath. "Do you remember when you were young, my Padawan? I used to let you sleep in bed with me whenever you were ill." Obi-Wan nodded. "And when you started getting older, you would to fake a few coughs and sneezes in order to crawl into bed with me." Obi-Wan nodded again, a little flushed in the cheeks. "And I would play along and hold you tightly all night, just like you wanted." Qui-Gon's breath was soft and soothing against Obi-Wan's neck. "And now there's no need for this is your bed as much as it is mine."


     Obi-Wan took a few sips and then looked back with a smile. Qui-Gon slipped his arms down over Obi-Wan's from behind and helped him hold the bowl. Or taking it over completely when Obi-Wan needed to raise his handkerchief and sneeze. When the ice cream was finished, Qui-Gon took the bowl from him and set it aside. Obi-Wan turned, still sitting up, and snuggled into his master's chest. Qui-Gon pulled the blankets up to his shoulders and held them in place, then kissed the top of Obi-Wan's head. Obi-Wan drifted back off to sleep in Qui-Gon's tight hold, the soft lamp light warming his face and Qui-Gon warming the rest of him.


~ * ~


     "hehTchih! hihTchiii! hehChehhh! uhhShehhh!" Obi-Wan directed the sneezes into his shoulder then sniffed hard and turned his attention back to Anakin. "Excuse me."


     "You're not feeling too good either, are you, Master Obi-Wan?"


     "Not really." He sniffed again and gave a weak smile. "But I think it's time for you to be in bed." Decisively, Obi-Wan took Anakin's hand and helped him down from the sofa.


     He led Anakin over to his bedroom. Anakin looked slightly uncomfortable, never having been allowed within before. "I can sleep in my own bed," he said softly, tugging on Obi-Wan's hand.


     "You can. But you'd be warmer in here." Obi-Wan grabbed a few extra blankets from the closet and laid them out across the bed after tucking Anakin in the middle. Obi-Wan leaned on his dresser a moment for support as the room spun around him. It was time for him to go to bed as well. "huktchiii! hetchiii! Huhtchehh!" He pulled out his handkerchief, giving it some last use before replacing it with a clean one. Then he climbed into bed as well. Anakin was still wrapped in the enormous blanket, and still shivering a little. But he looked comfortable as Obi-Wan lay down beside him, draping an arm over him in a loose hug.


     Anakin's body tensed and he shook with a sneeze. "ehtchh!" He shivered as he blew his nose, and Obi-Wan drew the blankets around him better, then brushed his fingers ever so gently across his Padawan's forehead.


     "Did Master Qui-Gon take care of you like this when you were sick?" Anakin asked, closing his eyes again.


     "When I was your age, yes," Obi-Wan replied, thinking back to those strong arms that had held him through the sneezes and coughs and fevered dreams. And though it was the times later on that he looked back on with special fondness, the times when he had been sick in bed and he and Qui-Gon had been lovers, his master had always treated him with loving care whenever he needed it. He closed his own eyes and felt a force surge of cold and warmth from behind that he knew to be Qui-Gon without having to look. "Now stay warm and get some sleep," Obi-Wan soothed.


     //And you do the same, my Obi-Wan,// came the soft voice from behind. Obi-Wan almost imagined the blankets moving to allow Qui-Gon in to join them. The Jedi Master and his Padawan drifted off to sleep, embraced by a warm glow of light.