Who Needs a Vacation?
Series: Yes a small one.
Summary: Pre-TPM. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan attempt to get away for some time alone. Obi-Wan is around 20 years old.
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Disclaimer: Don’t own anything or anyone. All the characters and their universe belong to George Lucas
Notes: Everything in // // is Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan talking through their bond.
It was quiet. Finally, it was quiet and he was at peace. Obi-Wan looked back into the sleeping chamber from his seat at the ship's console. Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn was sleeping soundly on one of the small sleep couches. Smiling to himself the young Jedi turned back to the viewscreen, it had been too long since they had gotten away for just some rest and relaxation. Too long since they had taken a trip where the destination wasn't another "simple" diplomatic mission, as Yoda liked to call them all. He brushed his Masters mind gently with the force not wanting to wake him but needing to know his sleep was restful. Qui-Gon stirred at the touch and rolled over but did not fully awaken. Obi-Wan withdrew his mental touch and sat still listening until the others breathing deepened and evened out again. He had been the first to notice the toll their schedule had been taking on the older Jedi. His Master's long time friend Mace Windu had been the second to notice the dark circles under his eyes and the slightly tired posture he had adopted as of late. When Master Windu approached Obi-Wan one night in the meditation gardens they had both agreed that some time off was what the two of them needed most. Master Yoda had approved and even provided them with the shuttle they were now using. Luxurious it was not, Obi-Wan noted looking around the sparse cabin, but it was quiet and it suited their needs. He knew he should be sleeping but he couldn't get his mind to calm down, not even using the relaxation techniques Master Qui-Gon had drilled into his head over and over. They were finally getting away, just the two of them. It was something they had done often enough when he was younger but as he had grown older and more capable they had less and less time to just get away from the hassles of everyday Jedi life. In fact it seemed that trouble found them no matter where they went. He smiled remembering the last time they had tried to take a small vacation and ended up in the middle of a very messy interplanetary dispute.
He stood stiffly stretching muscles and joints that had remained in one position too long. Moving to the aft quarters he stopped and stood silently in the adjoining entrance for the span of a heartbeat watching his Master sleeping. It wasn't often he had the pleasure of watching the older man sleep. Qui-Gon was usually the one watching, the one always alert, awake first. That he was sleeping so soundly only attested to the fact that he was in need of a good break from his duties. Obi-Wan knew he needed rest also, even if he couldn't sleep his body needed the rest. He lay down on the opposite bunk, careful not to make too much noise. Knowing the exercise was useless, but trying to calm the excitement that threatened to overwhelm him.
He had almost fallen into a light sleep when a sound more than a feeling touched on his conscience bringing him back fully awake. Qui-Gon still slept soundly. When he tried to pinpoint the exact source of the sound and his unease it escaped him.
//Padawan// Qui-Gon stirred beginning to wake responding to Obi-Wan's anxiety.
Obi-Wan quickly damped down his feelings.
//Shhh…everything's all right, Master//, He could tell his reassurances weren't working as he felt the Jedi's conscious level rise even as his unease increased.
Suddenly the small shipped bucked wildly as if swatted by a giant fist. Alarms went off in the cabin as the stabilizers tried to compensate for the radical change in velocity as the hyperdrive went abruptly off line. Obi-Wan was flung from the sleeping bunk, his head hitting the wall on the opposite side of the small room with a dull thud.
As the ship began a steep uncontrolled dive, the remaining air left in his lungs was crushed out of him as something solid connected painfully with his ribs. And then he knew only darkness and silence.
The first sensation to intrude in his mind was an insistent worried pressing on the bond he shared with his Master.
He hadn't realized he had shut himself completely down. He felt sluggish and it was hard to respond to Qui-Gon's worried pleas. His eyes wouldn't open and something heavy wrapped his body. Struggling weakly against his bonds he felt a hand touch his forehead and he stilled immediately. The force gathered around him flowing into him through the contact the touch brought, calming his fears and taking away some of the pain that was creeping into the edges of his awareness.
//Master?//, he responded weakly pressing back at the bond they shared.
"Yes Padawan, I'm here."
This time his eyes obeyed when he willed them to open, and he was momentarily disoriented by the information that flooded his senses. Light filtered softy through a green leafy canopy, stories above his head. Small sounds of forest dwellers and insects filled his ears; the only parts of his body that seemed to work without hurting. Qui-Gon's hand moved from his forehead to his chest. He realized then that the weight that kept him from moving was his Master's robe wrapped protectively around him. When Obi-Wan struggled to sit up, Qui-Gon slipped his arms behind him and lent his support.
"Slowly Padawan you have broken ribs and I wasn't able to completely heal your concussion." The voice was firm and gentle like the touch that held him upright until he was stable.
The cloak slipped from around his shoulders and he turned gingerly to face his Master, Qui-Gon was watching him intently. He was relieved to see that Qui-Gon was in one piece, but the nasty cut and spreading bruise on the older Jedi's temple caught his attention.
"Master, you're hurt", he reached up and gently touched the cut, causing Qui-Gon to wince, pulling back slightly. All of his own aches forgotten Obi-Wan moved out of his Master's touch and assessed the Jedi's injuries. "You should have concentrated on healing yourself and not on me."
"I was more worried about you Obi-Wan. You've been unconscious for several hours now, your injuries were greater than mine." Sighing he squinted into the light slanting through the trees as though searching for how much time had passed.
Obi-Wan took in their surroundings. Qui-Gon had moved them to a small clearing, the shuttle was a few yards away resting on its side. The port engine had been sheered from the body of the vehicle and the nose was buried in a tree that was at least as wide as the ship was long. The young Jedi wasn't sure he had ever seen a tree quite that large before except for the vids he had seen of Kashyyyk. Qui-Gon had removed several usable items from the shuttle that they would need and piled them next to a fallen tree behind where Obi-Wan sat.
"The shuttle….what happened?' Obi-Wan turned his attention back to Qui-Gon.
"It seems there was an electrical fire that started in the cabin. It shorted out the hyperdrive and destroyed all the sensory equipment and life support systems. I was able to activate the emergency beacon but I have no idea where we are. The navcomp was lost also. We were close enough to this system that I was able to crash land otherwise we'd still be out there, with no life support."
"And the bad news?" Obi-Wan managed a small smile
"The bad news," Qui-Gon sighed, "is that it will be dark in a few hours and I have no idea what lives in this forest."
"Well," the older Jedi stood slowly to his feet, "the first order of business is to get to some shelter and find some wood for a fire. I have the feeling we will be here at least one night." He extended his hand down to help Obi-Wan to his feet. "There were some caves that I saw just beyond this clearing in that direction." He motioned with head as he steadied Obi-Wan. Ducking his head slightly he tried to look directly into Obi-Wan's eyes, which would have worked had they not been squeezed so tightly shut, as the younger Jedi stiffened and caught his breath.
"Padawan?" The young apprentice's breathing was shallow and labored. He held tightly to the strong arms wrapped around him willing the world to stop moving.
"No, it's alright," he gasped, "just this nausea."
"Side effect of the concussion I am afraid. Can you make it?"
Obi-Wan took in as deep a breath as he dared. His ribs were well on their way to being completely healed but still gave him sharp pains. He drew the force around him and used it to push the pain and sickness aside, there would be time enough for that later, now there was work to do.
And just when he thought he had controlled the sick feeling inside of him, the earth started moving again. Only this time he was sure it wasn't him. A low dull roar like the grinding of stone wheels seemed to move beneath them, growing in intensity and volume even as the ground beneath their feet began to roll as if made of water just below the surface of the mantle. As quickly as it started it passed and left complete silence in its' wake.
Wide eyed Obi-Wan turned to his Master who had calmly replaced his robe and begun picking up the supplies they would need to see them through the night.
"Yes, Obi-Wan?" Qui-Gon looked over his shoulder to the younger man frozen in place. "What is it?"
"Yes, it may not be entirely stable. But I wouldn't worry. Chances are it won't happen again tonight, at least not with that magnitude."
"Not entirely stable? "
The younger Jedi still hadn't moved and Qui-Gon realized with amusement that his apprentice had never experienced a groundquake before.
"Obi-Wan, it was only a small groundquake."
"No more than a 5.0. And I am pretty sure we are far enough away from the epi-center to not feel any aftershocks. It will be all right. I found it rather fun actually."
"Fun!?!" Maybe his Master had hit his head harder than he thought. At this Qui-Gon began to laugh. Handing the startled Padawan a bundle of meal packs he gently pushed him in the direction of the caves he had indicated earlier.
"Are you going to repeat everything I've said now?" he asked with a small laugh. "Come Obi-Wan, did I ever tell you about the time Master Windu and I were on Ord Mantell when they had their big groundquake? Of course they are common on that planet but I thought Mace was going to go comatose on me. Seems I forgot to tell him about them. Now that was a groundquake, a seven pointer if I recall….", his voice trailed off as he headed out leading the way to their night camp.
"Fun...," mumbled Obi-Wan under his breath looking around as though he expected the ground to produce something even worse, like perhaps falling out from underneath him. "Right, fun." He followed obediently trying to catch up with his Master now laughing at the memories the groundquake had conjured up.
Obi-Wan hoped desperately that someone somewhere was paying attention to their distress beacon.
* * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * *
The flame leapt brightly into the darkness illuminating the cavern around them. Outside the entrance the stars had begun to pierce the velvet of the night sky.
Obi-Wan was cleaning the up the last of their shared meal placing the disposable, now empty, packages into the fire causing it to spark and pop with an odd rhythm. Hypnotic, that was the word that came into his Master's mind. Obi-Wan smiled at him over the shimmer caused by the heat.
"Yes, hypnotic. That's a nice description." He smiled and settled himself against a rock. He had removed his robe and was using it as padding for his still slightly sore ribs.
"I can't remember the last time I made a fire," Qui-Gon said.
Obi-Wan's laughter caught his attention and brought his eyes back on the younger man, now trying to contain his mirth. He looked so young. Qui-Gon wondered if he had ever been that young and full of life. His Padawan had brought back the joy into his life, into a heart he thought had lost the ability to ever love again. The smile came of its own echoing the one across the flames that lit his heart with warmth as the fire lit the cavern.
"Yes? I take it you remember?" Qui-Gon couldn't keep the humor from his voice. "Enlighten me young one."
The old title made Obi-Wan's smile growing even wider. "The last time you made a fire Master, you and Master Windu had taken the older children and I out camping. And while you were trying to teach us how to roast wenderpolyps Master Windu kept secretly throwing chugga berries into the fire so they would explode and send everyone running for cover claiming it was your wenderpolyps combusting." A fit of giggles threatened to topple him over.
"I remember that. That darn Mace always playing pranks. Yes and I remember how unhappy Master Yoda was about that one too!"
Another bout of laughter carried across to the Master who was finding it hard not join his Padawan.
"And….and did Master Yoda," the young Jedi was trying to speak around gasps of air, spent from his laughing, "did Master Yoda…did he hit you with his…with his walking stick!?"
"Obi-Wan!" Qui-Gon reprimanded although the tone had no effect upon the giggling Padawan. "I thought you had outgrown that fascination with Master Yoda and his walking stick!"
A choked out, "Yes Master," accompanied by more laughter was his answer. This time though he did laugh, giving into the joy of youth that had saved him so long ago.
When they had both caught their breaths. He locked eyes with his student now almost a man. "That was a long time ago, Obi-Wan. You were so young then." Looking back into the flames he recalled the times they had spent together, bonding, time alone, time they had needed and still did. Obi-Wan did not answer he just watched the emotions on his Masters face letting him sift his memories on his own.
When he finally spoke again the softness of his voice startled Obi-Wan. "Perhaps it was too long. You were right, my Padawan in arranging this time away for the two of us. Things have gotten pressed and busy, our schedules haven't allowed time for each other."
"This wasn't exactly what I had in mind, Master," just the hint of humor colored his words.
Qui-Gon arched his eyebrows taking in the surrounding cave lit in a deep golden glow. "It wasn't?" Obi-Wan's smile sparked one of his own. The younger Jedi shifted against his rock, wrapping his arms tightly around him to ward off the encroaching coolness of night.
"Padawan, come here." Qui-Gon moved slightly to his right and indicated the space next to him near the fire.
"Master, I am not that young boy anymore, the dark no longer scares me."
"Obi-Wan, you will always be that boy to me. I have never ceased to love you as I did then and your age makes no difference to me. If anything I love you more now. But, you are cold and still hurting, now come. You need rest."
He hesitated for only a fraction of a second and then moved stiffly around the fire to sit next to his Master. His ribs did hurt, he was cold and tired and his body just wasn't moving like he wanted it to. When he was seated he turned and lifted his head slightly to meet the gaze of his Master. The warmth of the fire reflected in eyes that could be cold enough to freeze all the oceans on Mon Calamari and yet they held only tenderness for him. He had been allowed a rare treasure indeed, an open door to the side of Qui-Gon that loved. That side was reserved for a very few and his heart swelled with pride and contentment, touching his Master through the force.
Qui-Gon reached out and brushed his cheek, his eyes never wavering. "Thank you, Padawan." He took Obi-Wan's robe from where it lay rolled in a bundle in his hands and shaped it into a pillow. Replacing his hand on the young Jedi's face he gently pulled him down cushioning his head in his lap. "Sleep, Padawan, sleep." With a sigh Obi-Wan relaxed. Qui-Gon's arm slipped around his shoulder and drew him closer even as his Master poured peace and calm into the weary apprentice's mind.
//Rest// The force flowed around him, warming him and securing him, gathered around them by his Master as though he were wrapped in the arms and love of the older Jedi, completely safe. It reminded him of when he had been young and afraid or hurt. Qui-Gon had always formed a cocoon of the Force around them and he had been lulled to sleep then, even as he was now.
* * * * * * * ** * * * * * *
It was well before daylight, the stars just beginning to dim in the still dark sky. But he been awakened by a presence just outside the cavern. The fire had died down and only embers glowed brightly in the cooling bed. Qui-Gon had fallen asleep, one hand resting gently on Obi-Wan's head cradling him, one hand still on his shoulder. His chin resting on his broad chest moving evenly in slumber. Obi-Wan focused his attention outward trying not to awaken his Master, but the feeling was back again and stronger this time.
Something outside was definitely considering coming in.
Slowly he reached for his lightsaber, tensing for action. He became aware that his Master was awake when the hand on his shoulder moved and Qui-Gon straightened behind him. Sitting up he glanced at the older Jedi whose gaze was fixed on the entrance to the cave.
//Something's out there.//
//Yes, I felt it too Padawan. Careful.// His Master glanced at him quickly out of the corner of his eyes.
Obi-Wan moved into a crouched posture in one smooth fluid motion pulling his lightsaber into a defensive position, ready but not ignited. Qui-Gon's had shot out catching his arm and drawing his attention back.
//Wait. Maybe it will pass.// With his gaze locked on his Master and his Force awareness thrown out towards the front of the cave monitoring their intruder, the young Jedi patiently stilled his forward movement. Years of training had taught him not to question his Master's instructions. Qui-Gon instinctively moved one had to the hilt of his lightsaber never removing the restraining hand from his student, trying to gauge the intent of the creature outside.
Obi-Wan although patient, was no less focused. He had no doubts that he would kill this creature before letting it get past him. Qui-Gon though stronger in the force than he, was still exhausted from the crash and healing his Padawan, and Obi-Wan knew it. The older Jedi smiled inwardly at the possessive thoughts raging in his student.
//Let's give it a chance to change its' mind. Remember, Padawan, a Jedi fights only as a last resort.//
//Yes, Master.// The taut muscles under his fingers didn't lax in the least, but Qui-Gon could feel the young Jedi calm considerably.
Suddenly a black form moved stealthily into view; all but blocking the entire entrance to the cave, eclipsing the stars outside. Obi-Wan tensed and stood as Qui-Gon released his hold on the apprentice. The creature,
easily the height of Obi-Wan, stalked cautiously in, smelling the air with a muzzle that ended in a short upturned nose revealing large teeth curling up from it's lower jaw.
//This is its' lair.//
//Try to dissuade it first, it's only confused.//
//Yes, Master.// Obi-Wan ignited his lightsaber, bathing the cavern in blue light, casting odd shadows in the recesses. Crossing in front of Qui-Gon he drew the beasts focus away from his Master. He wove the lightsaber back and forth capturing the attention of their intruder, its' small dark eyes lit eerily by the blue blade. Qui-Gon stepped in the opposite direction hoping to come up on the animal around the other side. A deep snarl emanated from low in the creature's throat. Only the force protected the young Jedi when the animal threw its' bulk towards him faster than he could anticipate. Qui-Gon moved forward knowing he would be too late. Obi-Wan's hand came up at the last minute, palm outward and slammed the animal into the far wall of the cave with a barrier of focused power. The impact of the huge creature brought down a cascade of small rocks and boulders that settled in a cloud of dust just inside the opening of the cavern.
//I wouldn't do that again, Padawan. I am not sure this cave can handle it.// Qui-Gon reached out with the force feeling the structure of the cavern and sensing small tremors running through it.
//Not entirely stable?// Obi-Wan teased.
"Obi-Wan!" The animal had gained its feet, huge paws unsheathed claws as long as Qui-Gon's fingers. Spikes on its massive shoulders raised up through the matted mane. It planted it's front feet and slashed a whip-like tail straight at Obi-Wan. The young Jedi vaulted into the air executing a twisting somersault to land well out of the way on the far side of the creature his back to the cave entrance.
Momentarily loosing his prey the creature refocused on Qui-Gon. It's patience, what little it had, had worn thin and it lunged at the older Jedi leaping across the cooling fire bed. As one the Jedi moved. Sensing the beasts intent seconds before it charged, Obi-Wan spun, his blade extended full length in his hands sweeping the weapon in an upward motion cleaving the monsters body in two. Qui-Gon at the same time arced his blade down in a powerful blow decapitating the creature in mid-air.
Quickly he shut his lightsaber down and removed the carcass from the fire pit lest its stench fill the cave. Turning his attention back to his apprentice he found the younger Jedi leaning against an outcropping of rocks using the force to calm his breathing.
"Yes, Master, I'm fine. Just needed to catch my breath." His right arm moving protectively around his ribs. Qui-Gon moved to his Padawan's side gently shifting his arm out the way and placing his palm low against the tight abdomen, he shunted waves of healing force into the boy.
"Yes, Master, thank you," Obi-Wan smiled gratefully.
The crunch of footsteps behind them startled them into action. Qui-Gon spun around as Obi-Wan leapt to his feet igniting his blade once more.
"Now that's not a very nice way to greet your rescue party," the rich deep voice said slowly, humor tainting the words.
"Mace," Qui-Gon ground out, reaching over to touch Obi-Wan. The young Jedi deactivated his weapon and stepped obediently behind his Master.
Mace Windu walked farther into the cavern taking in the fire pit and the pieces of their attacker strewn on the floor. "Homey," he smiled. Frowning down at the head of the beast a look of disgust curled his lips. "Now that's just……ugly." He looked back up at the two Jedi watching him expectantly.
"Don't tell me this was one of your 'pet' projects Qui-Gon?" the Jedi Master laughed questioning his long time friend.
"Very funny Mace," Qui-Gon replied ignoring the choked laugh that came from behind him. "And I suppose you volunteered to come looking for us?"
"You have got to be kidding," the other growled. "Master Yoda woke me up in the middle of the night and told me to come find your sorry ass. He said he was sure I would know where to look. Although why he thought I had anything to do with it is beyond me."
This time the laughter behind Qui-Gon wasn't stifled.
"Obi-Wan don't start," warned the older Jedi looking sharply over his shoulder at his Padawan. Mace lifted in his eyebrows in question at the cryptic conversation.
"Don't ask," warned Qui-Gon. Silencing the discussion further, but he had a feeling the subject was far from dropped.
Mace turned and began walking back out toward the clearing, "I landed not far from your crashed shuttle. You did know that was Master Yoda's personal shuttle didn't you Jinn?'' the long-time friend called back teasingly.
Again a small stifled laugh filled the silence.
"Of course it would have to be," answered the Master wearily.
"You know Master Yoda's probably going to want to see you as soon as we get back."
"He wasn't too happy, you know how he gets."
Obi-Wan couldn't stand it any longer and began laughing at the conversation. Mace Windu stopped mid step looking back over his shoulder he called to Obi-Wan, "I bet you anything Master Yoda hits old Jinn here with that walking stick of his!" The young apprentice dissolved into a fit of giggles as the old conversation was brought back up again.
"You just had to say it didn't you? You couldn't let it lie." Qui-Gon Jinn pushed past his friend in mock disgust. "You know, Mace, I'll just bet that creature had a mate somewhere out here. I hope it comes looking for us, because I am going to feed you to it."
Obi-Wan walked a pace behind the two old friends listening to their good-natured bickering. This was a good idea he thought. No, it hadn't been what he expected but they had gotten away, together, alone and their bond was, incredibly, even deeper and richer for it. Qui-Gon's shoulders were no longer stooped and the light glowed again in his eyes. He had gotten some of his much-needed rest and had even found his humor again.
//In you, my Padawan. I found them all in you.// Qui-Gon looked back over his shoulder with a slight smile meeting Obi-Wan's gaze
//And I in you, Master.//
//Thank you, Obi-Wan.//
Mace observed this silent exchange out of the corner of his eyes a devilish grin playing on his lips. "You know Qui-Gon you're looking rather old these days," he teased clamping a hand down on the shoulder of the man beside him.
"Mace…." warned his friend shaking his head and shrugging off the friendly touch, "Sometimes…" while the laughter of the young apprentice rang out through the clearing touching joy into the hearts of the older men.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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