Why Is It Always My Fault?
Summary: Pre-TPM. Obi takes a bet from Mace and ends up sick.
Feedback: Please, to Siobhancl2@aol.com
Disclaimer: I don't own anything or anyone. All the characters and their universe belong to George Lucas. I am just playing here for a bit.
Notes: Everything in // // is Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan talking through their bond.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Obi-Wan stood on the shore of the small lake located in the aviary gardens. It was winter on Coruscant and although the weather was for the most part regulated on the planet, the winters were still cold. His breath hung in the air, frosting the space in front of him with a fine mist before evaporating in the chill. Great white Crybeighs circled the water and dove into its chilly depths flying back out with fish dangling from their large powerful beaks. The low temperatures didn’t seem to bother them in the least, Obi-Wan observed lost in thoughts as wide and circling as the birds that wheeled and dove before him. He had been bored of late. He and his Master Qui-Gon had been given some time off from the duties of interplanetary diplomacy. And while Qui-Gon enjoyed the peace and the long hours of meditation, Obi-Wan had grown restless and so he had left their apartments and come to the garden in hopes of quieting his spirit.
The call of the Crybeighs was an eerie mournful sound that echoed through the still evening. No one remembered who had been responsible for bringing the first Crybeighs to Coruscant. They were not indigenous to the planet. In fact no one was sure exactly what the original lifeforms of Coruscant had even looked like; there were no records of the planet that far back and no one who was alive could recall. The only lifeforms that could now be considered indigenous lived far below the inhabited realm of the overpopulated planet and no one was daring enough or foolhardy enough to explore those reaches. The few who had, had not returned to the surface. Obi-Wan shuddered with the dark thoughts of what lay below them.
"But diplomacy calls for…."
"Forget diplomacy, I am telling you Depa, it won't work with the Tyraidians I've tried. Believe me I've tried."
The voices of Councilmembers Depa Bilaba and Mace Windu floated through the still of the garden and broke into the young Jedi's thoughts.
He turned at their approach and bowed slightly out of respect, "Masters."
"Obi-Wan, what are you doing out here", Mace looked around the small glade expecting to see his long time friend Qui-Gon.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?", Depa walked up next to the apprentice and redirected his gaze back to the lake and the feeding avians, "Almost like a dance," she whispered softly.
"Yes, Master, it is. I was looking for some peace of mind, it has been rather elusive lately." Obi-Wan gazed resignedly at the shore before him; the water lapping peacefully at the stones around its' perimeter seemed to quiet his heart some.
A dark hand clamped solidly down on his shoulder as Mace stepped up next to him. A small snort of laughter from the tall Master caught the attention of the other two.
"Yes Mace, did you have something to add?" Depa's soft voice held just the slightest hint of irritation blended with sarcasm.
"As a matter of fact I do!" The wicked glint in his eyes brought a smile to the young Jedi's face. He had seen that particular look on this Masters face, usually right before he was about to retell some tale of his past adventures with Qui-Gon; those were the best. Obi-Wan loved to hear tales of his Master's youth.
Mace moved closer to the young man and nudged him slightly as he motioned toward the lake, "Did Qui-Gon every tell you about the time I dared him to jump the lake?" Obi-Wan's eyes widened as he assessed the width of the body of water before them. "In the dead of winter?", Mace continued with a laugh.
"Mace." Depa cast a cautioning glance at the other Master.
With a wink at his fellow councilmember he laid an arm around the young Jedi's shoulders and walked him closer to the shore.
"Oh yeah, the dead of winter, about as cold then as it is today." he picked the story back up, nodding for emphasis as Obi-Wan turned to look at him, his face scrunched up in doubt. Undaunted the older man looked back out at the waters, "Its true. He was in one of those bragging moods he gets into every so often. He had levitated four boulders that day in class and I had only levitated three. What can I say it was an off day for me, and so he was being his regular egotistical self about being more intuned with the force than I, so bet him he wouldn’t be able to jump this lake here, not even *with* the force."
happened?" Obi-Wan intent on the man before him, urged him on when he
stopped momentarily mid-story to watch the diving Crybeighs.
"Well, lets just say that he didn’t quite make it. He was soaked and mad! Was he ever mad, and he blamed me can you believe that? And he caused such a raucous that he scared the birds out of this garden and into the Garden of Stones where Master Yoda was holding a class." His laughter rang out through the quiet infecting the young man at his side.
"And was Master Yoda mad at the two of you?", Obi-Wan's laughter made his words gasps of air as he asked the inevitable question.
"Mad is not the word to describe what Master Yoda was! He must have lectured us for hours. And the whole time poor Jinn stood there dripping wet until Master Yoda noticed that he had created this huge puddle of water right in the middle of Master Yoda's study!" The older Jedi bent double with laughter at the memories the story evoked. "I think we cleaned the bird pens for two months after that one!"
"I believe it was four Mace and as I recall you not only bet Qui-Gon you taunted him with a double-dare. So in a sense, he was correct it was your fault." Depa corrected the storyteller.
"What!" the disbelief was written in every line on the stunned Jedi's face, "You would take his side. He didn’t have to take the bet."
"And suffer your taunting for who knows how long after? I'd say he had no choice in that one, you can be merciless, my friend."
"Would you listen to that?", Mace turned to Obi-Wan for support.
"How long was he mad at you?" the apprentice laughed, enjoying the banter between the two Masters.
"That time? Quite a while. Which is probably why he has never told you about it."
"I bet I could jump the lake." Obi-Wan gazed back over the expanse trying to gauge the width and testing his own force reserve at the same time.
"Perhaps Obi-Wan, but now is not the time to try. Its much too cold out here, come let us go inside and get something warm to drink, supper should just about be ready.” Depa extended her hand towards the young man.
"No I think I could make it."
"No I don’t think you can."
"What? What'd I do? I bet he can't. Jinn couldn’t." Mace appraised the young Jedi, "Well maybe he could, maybe." A small smile tugged at the corners of his mouth as Obi-Wan stood slightly straighter under his scrutiny.
Depa interposed herself between the two men and pressed Mace away from the apprentice.
“You shouldn’t have done that Mace.” Depa reproved the tall Jedi.
“He’s not going to try it.”
“I bet he does. He's young, he looks up to you and Qui-Gon, and you know it!”
“No he won’t.”
A streak of white blurred past them, throwing itself across the expanse of the small man made lake. Halfway across Obi-Wan's forward motion was broken by a rising Crybeigh, rousted from its rest by the unexpected intruder and plummeting him into the frigid water below.
“You’re in trouble.”
“I’m in trouble.” Groaned the dark Jedi covering his eyes at the sight of the soaked Padawan swimming to shore and the thought of having to take the young man home to face his Master.
As Obi-Wan reached the shoreline Mace and Depa waded out and helped him to stand, he was shivering, and bone cold. A nasty gash on his knee was staining his trousers a bright red and he held his wrist gingerly as he limped out of the lake.
"What were you thinking?"
"What was he thinking? What were you thinking? This is your fault!" Depa threw a glare at Mace as cold as the water dripping off of the hurt Padawan.
"My fault! Why is it *always* my fault!"
"Need you ask?" she threw the comment at the exasperated Master, and turned to the hurt young man, "Come on Obi-Wan, lets get you home."
"Oh, Qui-Gon is going to kill me," moaned the apprentice. And as if to emphasize his predicament he was immediately caught in a fit of sneezing.
"Yeah probably. But not until after he kills me first," muttered the other as he pulled the Padawan against him and helped him walk slowly back to his quarters.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Qui-Gon was seated on the floor in his chambers; his hands resting in his lap, his breathing even and slowed, deep in meditation. He had been so glad when he and Obi-Wan had been given a reprieve from their duties. He missed the calm of the Temple and the long spans of time he had for meditation. He had just settled himself even deeper when a sharp pang in the force brought him abruptly back to reality.
He focused on the source of the disturbance and found his Padawan a bundle of nerves and in pain. He stood from his kneeling position just as the door to their apartment flew open, slamming into the wall behind it and ricocheting back into the two figures limping through the door.
"I'm sorry Master. I…"
"It's not his fault Jinn. Its mine." Mace maneuvered the young man into a chair in the kitchen and turned back to Qui-Gon, "Do you have any bandages?"
"Your fault!" Qui-Gon pushed past his friend and kneeled in front of the apprentice gently moving the torn fabric away from his injured knee. "Obi-Wan you're soaked and freezing, what happened Padawan?" he took the young man’s chin in his hand and raised his head until their eyes met.
"Master I really didn’t mean to. In fact I would have made it if it weren't for that Crybeigh I frightened. I didn’t mean to fall in," The Padawan winced as his Master probed the wound, cleaning away the debris and dirt.
Mace returned with a clean bandage, leaning around Qui-Gon and placing it on the table next to him.
"It's not the boys fault Jinn, its mine. I told him about that time you tried to jump the pond in the aviary and well I sort of bet him that he couldn’t do it either."
"You what? Windu it’s the middle of winter!" The Jedi Master stood in one swift movement rounding on his friend. Hands up before him in an attempt to ward off the angry Jedi, Mace backed up bumping into the doorframe behind him.
“Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan’s almost an adult now he can make his own decisions.” The defense was useless.
The apprentice knew were this was going and moved to stop his Teachers forward advance. “Master”, the voice and the touch on his arm, did just that. Qui-Gon turned back toward his student with every intention of lecturing him on the idiocy of youth when Obi-Wan’s knee gave out in the middle of another fit of sneezing.
Catching the youth and guiding him back to the chair, he pushed him gently down and knelt back in front of him again.
“Obi-Wan.” though the reprimand was still in his tone, the softness of his voice cushioned the effect. He touched the boy's forehead, it was hot. Just as he feared his Padawan was about to be sick, very sick by the way he had begun to shiver.
Obi-Wan looked over his Masters shoulder at the other Jedi who was stealthily trying to sneak out the door. The apprentice nodded almost imperceptibly to the dark man and tried to keep his Master focused on himself as the old friend slipped out.
“Don’t think your getting off the hook that easy, Mace,” growled the kneeling Jedi as he gently felt the wrist Obi-Wan had been cradling, checking for broken bones, “I am not through with you. Nor you, young man.” The later was stated with a very stern worried look. “Your wrist is twisted but it will be fine, now go change quickly before you get any sicker.”
By the time he turned around the door to their apartments was just swinging shut.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Obi-Wan stepped out of the refresher unit. Cleaned and warm finally. Too warm in fact. He had changed into his sleeping trousers and tunic and now stood in the hallway, bracing himself against the nearest wall with one hand to keep himself steady.
His Master appeared from out of no where coming alongside him and guiding him into the living room.
“Did Mace perhaps tell you the whole of the story?" his voice was soft as he grabbed a pillow and stuffed it behind his Padawans head pushing him down gently onto the couch. Obi-Wan frowned, his mind was rather fuzzy and he couldn’t quite remember what exactly Mace had told him now, come to think of it, he couldn’t quite keep any thought in his head. A cool hand brushed his hair back from his forehead as Qui-Gon sat on the edge of the couch, trying to get a read on just how sick the young man in his care was.
“Well the rest of the story is, that I was sick for nearly a week from falling into that freezing water. In fact Master Yoda took me to the healers, that’s how bad I was." his eyes locked on to the blue green ones staring glazedly back at him trying to let him know the seriousness of the situation.
Obi-Wan grabbed his wrist as Qui-Gon made to move away, shocking the Master with the quick move for one so ill, “No healers Master, please. I hate that place. I am there too much anyway. Please let me stay here, I’d rather be sick here at home than there. Please.” In the end it was the pleading in the young eyes staring into his that made him give in.
He carefully disengaged Obi-Wan’s hand from his wrist and bent back down close to his Padawan’s face, “Alright Obi-Wan. No healers. But I want you to rest. I am going to bring you some Andular tea, and you will drink it do you understand. I know you hate it, but I have a feeling you’re going to need it.”
“Yes Master.” The young Jedi relaxed back onto the couch and closed his eyes.
//And thank you.// The whisper touched Qui-Gon just as he reached the threshold of the kitchen causing him to falter and turn back. His Padawan looked so pale lying on the couch a seizure of coughing causing him to double in on himself. It was going to be a long night. //You’re welcome my Obi-Wan. I’ll be right back.//
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The intercom chimed into the darkened room, softly chirping repeatedly for attention. Mace Windu rolled over in bed, dragging his mind from its sleep wrapped fog.
“Windu”, the half-mumbled response from the Jedi barely registered with the computer as being intelligible.
“Mace.” At the tone of the voice on the intercom the sleeping Jedi came fully awake, jolting upright in sudden panic.
“Uh, Qui-Gon? What’s wrong? Why are you calling me at this hour? Do you *know* what time it is!?!”
“I *absolutely* know what time it is my friend,” the low growled enunciation of the words causing Mace to wince. He knew what was coming, “and you will come down here to my quarters and sit with me and a very sick Padawan or I will come and fetch you myself. This is your fault.”
“Now Mace. Now!” The link went dead leaving the Jedi Councilman sitting in the dark once again. He considered simply returning to sleep and letting his angry friend cool down when a small tug at the force focused him on the room where the Master and Padawan were currently awake. Qui-Gon was upset, upset with Mace, upset with Obi-Wan and worried about the sick student. A small shift in his awareness and he could sense how ill the young man really was.
//I really hope you are on your way down here.//
He smiled at Qui-Gon’s internal reprimand, a link they had established as close friends in academy. //I’m on my way. I am on way, don’t worry.//
//Who’s worried? If anyone is, it should be you.//
Mace ignored the hidden threat, getting out of bed he moved hurriedly into the antechamber reaching out to turn on the lights.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Qui-Gon let the tall Jedi in. His face normally stoic was creased with concern and aggravation. He swept his hand behind him impatiently gesturing for the other to step inside when he hesitated.
Mace looked around the Master into the living quarters, Qiu-Gon followed his gaze. His Padawan was lying on the couch, blankets piled on him and a small square of wet cloth covering his forehead. A bowl of ice water rested nearby on the low table. The young man was breathing shallow and fast. Qui-Gon had pulled a large overstuffed chair next to the couch to sit adjacent to the sick boy. His gaze shifted back to Mace who moved quietly into the room.
“He’s been out of it for a couple of hours now. He has a high fever, he’s fighting it, but I don’t know. He’s been having coughing fits and he’s restless I cant keep him still, shivering one minute, burning up the next.”
“Qui-Gon, he needs to go the healers. I’ll help you take him." Mace turned back to the weary man still standing in the doorway leaning heavily against the frame and slowly shaking his head. “Yes, he’s too sick for you to keep here you know that.” The dark Jedi crossed quickly to the couch and pressed the back of his hand to the flushed cheek of the apprentice. “Qui-Gon!”
The Jedi Master pushed himself away from his resting position, closing the door softly behind him he walked to the overstuffed chair and dropped into it with a sigh. Repeating the same gesture of his friend, he touched the feverish face of his Padawan. “I promised him no healers this time Mace.” Blue eyes momentarily sought the brown ones now darkened with concern before returning to gaze on the sick student before him. “He’s there so much and he hates it. He’s right he’s there too much, too much for one so young. And I can take care of him just as well as they can. And when I cant, that’s why you’re here.” This time when his friend looked back up at him there was firm resolve written in every line of the weary face.
Mace didn’t respond. He looked between the two of them for a minute; Master and Padawan, father and son; he’d seen that look in both of their eyes on more than one occasion. “Alright." the consent was reserved but given the option of fighting the other Jedi on the matter, he relented. Changing the subject he pressed, “When was the last time you ate.”
“I haven’t. I was meditating when you brought him home. I haven't had time. The sickness seized him so fast.”
“First things first then. You have to eat. I’ll fix you something.” Mace removed his cloak draping it over the back of the couch and moved into the kitchen. Qui-Gon absently watched him go, grateful for the moment for his presence.
“Hey don’t you have anything good in this house to eat? What do you guys eat? No wonder the kid is so skinny. This is awful.” Qui-Gon raised an eyebrow at the tirade of criticism coming from the other room. At the sound of crashing pans he got up and cautiously followed his friend.
“What is this? Just what do you think you’re doing?” Qui-Gon looked in amazement at the scene before him. In less time than it was humanly possibly his friend had demolished the cooking area, digging into every cabinet and drawer in an attempt to find what he wanted. He stood over the sink, frozen by the interruption, with two large eggs in his hands and a pile of vegetables, seasoning and whatever else he could find stacked next to him. A skillet on the range was already sizzling.
“This is food. I’m cooking”, he responded incredulously as if the questions where not worth asking.
“Oh no. No you’re not. You are not making Tulvare surprise! I hate that stuff.”
“It’s good for you!”
“It is not. And it tastes horrible. I don’t know where you learned to cook like that but it’s awful.”
“What! You like Tulvare surprise. You ate it on that outing we had when we took the children to the Setnurn hills and you loved it. Remember? Even Obi-Wan ate it.”
“I do not.”
“Yes you do!”
“I most certainly do not! In fact it was all I could do to keep it down the last time you made it. What was I supposed to do in front of thirty ten-year old initiates. Why do you think Obi-Wan left so quickly to scout out the surrounding area, it certainly wasn’t to look at the scenery my friend!”
“No wonder we got lost the next morning,” muttered Mace darkly.
“I only wished I could have thought of some reason to go with him!” He moved forward and took the eggs from the others hands, setting them gently back in the refrigerator and taking out some Odarvi rice in their stead. “No. No Tulvare surprise. You go sit with Obi-Wan and I will make us something to eat.”
"Well how do you like that? I thought you were my friend!" The mock indignation in Mace's voice did not deter the other Jedi in the least.
"I am your friend and that's why I am not letting you cook!" With that he all but pushed the man out of the kitchen and slid the door shut behind him.
When he came out a little while later with two steaming bowls of rice and vegetables he found his friend sitting on the edge of the couch wiping the small cloth slowly across Obi-Wan’s forehead and down the sides of his face. He set the bowls down and leaned over the broad shoulders of the Councilman.
“How is he?”
“No change.” Shaking his head he returned the worried stare. “Qui-Gon….” He let the statement trail off.
“No. Not yet. Let’s give him the night. If he is worse in the morning…,” the Jedi Master stopped a sigh punctuating his fears, “If he’s worse in the morning, I promise Mace, we’ll take him in then.”
“Alright.” Standing up to make way for the Master, Mace seated himself into the overstuffed chair and picked up his meal. The bowl of sautéed vegetables mixed into the rice steamed in his hands giving off a warm spicy aroma. “Rice?”
“Its good for you.”
“Why don’t you eat normal?”
“Normal? What do you mean by normal? This is normal.”
“No this is healthy. This is NOT normal.”
“What’s wrong with healthy?”
“Oh come on Jinn, just once live a little. Give in and have something delicious and well," he poked at the vegetables moving them around experimentally with his fork, a slightly disgusted look twisting his face, “well good tasting.”
Stopping mid-bite, Qui-Gon dropped his fork into his bowl and sighed in exasperation. “If I gave in and ate things that were ‘good tasting’ I would look like you and would have to resign myself to sitting on the council and thinking about what to do and who to assign to what to do, instead doing all your dirty work.”
Qui-Gon picked his fork back up, ignoring the indignation on the others face and took a bite of his meal before his smile could give him away. “Eat. It’s getting cold.” He motioned at Maces bowl with his fork.
“Jinn." shaking his head in defeat unable to come up with a quick witty response he simply did as he was told.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Late into the night Obi-Wan's fever raged. Mace placed the cool cloth on his forehead as Qui-Gon took his hand in his own stilling the young mans restlessness with soothing waves of the force. The Jedi Master had seated himself on the floor in order to be closer to his apprentice allowing his friend the comfort of the over stuff chair that they had pulled closer to the couch. It had been a good idea to have Obi-Wan stay out here on the couch in the living area, there was plenty of room for them all.
"I remember when you took him as your Padawan."
"Forced to take him, you mean." Qui-Gon teased, sitting back to gaze at the apprentice. Thoughts of that day chasing through his mind.
"Oh come on Jinn, admit it. You always knew there was something special about Obi-Wan. Did I ever tell you that I asked Master Yoda for him?" Mace grinned at the surprise and shock on his friend's face.
"You what?!" the Jedi Master pinned the other with eyes that had gone cold. "You didn’t!"
"Its true." Mace shrugged and looked back at Obi-Wan for a minute before continuing. "I went to Master Yoda only two days before you came back to watch the initiates fight. I had asked him specifically if I could take Obi-Wan as my Padawan. I'd been watching him while you where away brooding."
"I was not brooding."
"Moping, mourning, feeling sorry for yourself. Whatever you want to call it. You almost lost him a few times before me too! But that crafty old Yoda would never let any of us take him. He always had some excuse, like he was too slow or too clumsy or needed more work with his basic skills."
"Obi-Wan was never clumsy or slow!" Qui-Gon jumped hastily to his Padawans defense. The pride in his voice caused Mace to smile and laugh lightly. Without skipping a beat the offended Jedi continued, "Why that meddling little old toad, I ought to……"
"You ought to thank him you stubborn, ornery, sorry excuse for a Master! You'd be dead by now if you hadn't taken Obi-Wan as your Padawan. I watched you every day withdraw into that shell of self-denial and self abuse that you built around yourself. Without this young man you would have died long ago, maybe not physically although there was a good chance of that too, but the good man that I know as my friend would have died without the life and joy this one brought back to you."
Qui-Gon sat quietly for a time, gazing at the fever-flushed face of his apprentice remembering those lonely days and long nights when he wondered what he was doing and questioning his future as a Jedi. He remembered Master Yoda calling him in to talk with him about Obi-Wan and the fear and dread that had washed over him at the thought of another Padawan; fear of allowing anyone close again and dread at the possibility of him failing with another young life.
"You know I was just afraid, afraid I would fail him", the words were quiet, his eyes unfocused as he talked out his feelings. "He was so young and had so much promise. I truly didn’t believe that, that part of my heart would work anymore after Xanatose and I was afraid to find out that I was right."
Mace sat quietly, watching as Qui-Gon gently smoothed the hair back from Obi-Wans sweat dampened cheek. He held out the bowl of ice cold water when the Master removed the now heated towel from the Padawans forehead, dipped it into the bowl and laid it back on his chest to cool the fevered skin. He didn’t respond or move when his friend slowly continued, pouring out his heart, pent up over the years, locked away in its cage of fear and guilt.
"I really did try to hold him away from me, from getting a foothold on my heart. It didn’t matter what he did, I dismissed it. Even when the first fledgling tug of a bond began to develop between us I rationalized it away. He was in a stressful situation I was the only other Jedi around, at least that was what I told myself. It wasn’t until he was standing there in front of me wearing that horrid collar on Bandomeer and offering to give his life to save me that I knew it was too late." Memory saddened blue eyes met the dark ones fixed on him, his hand absently reaching out to touch Obi-Wan. "And how many times my friend did I almost loose him? How many times did my self made hell cost him his sense of respect or crush his need for acceptance?"
"A few." Mace was always honest. The silence stretched between the two of them until Qui-Gon lowered his eyes.
Blue eyes jerked up, riveting on the others. "I hope so. I don’t know what I would do without him."
A deep sigh from the young man caught their attention. His breathing became shallow and he moved restlessly, murmuring softly.
"Master…", the call was soft and breathless, "Master?"
"Sshhh, it's alright Obi-Wan. It's alright. Rest my young one, rest." Qui-Gon kneeled next to the couch one hand on the young mans chest the other resting gently on his forehead. Mace watched as the Master whispered softly to his apprentice. The contact and words working wonders that all the healers in the temple could not effect as the Padawan stilled, turning into the touch, his breathing deepening and leveling out.
Mace smiled, "Yeah and now you're just big softie." He teased attempting to lighten the mood.
"Oh and you should know about that. I heard about you bringing that baby Tarsmain back to the Temple while Obi-Wan and I were on Ryliss." Qui-Gon readjusted his position seating himself with his back propped against the couch, his arm thrown over his Padawan as he kept up a steady stream of healing force flowing into the sick boy. The sarcastic grin on his face let the other know he was not going to let go of this one. "What were you thinking? Did you really think it had been left abandoned up that tree?" The Masters laughter was infectious.
“How did you...? Who told you about that?”
“Oh the Temple has ears my friend.” Qui-Gin answered slowly looking around them out of the corners of his eyes as if expecting to find some listening device in the very room they sat. His smile betraying the teasing mock in his voice.
“And mouths too it would seem.” Mace shook his head with the memory. "Yeah I had to fix every door that brute broke down. How was I supposed to know that mother Tarsmains leave their babies up in trees while they go out to feed? That was one huge beast and it sure was ticked." Leaning forward for emphasis he raised his hands in front of him about 2 meters apart, “I swear Qui-Gon that thing had teeth that big! And claws at least six inches long!”
“What? Its true!” He continued, attempting to save face in front of the Jedi Master who was hopelessly caught between trying to breath and stilling his laughter.
"You know you could have asked me, I would have told you! Did you ever see me go near a Tarsmain? I heard it made quite a nasty gash in the Main Garden gates trying to locate its cub.”
“You don’t know the half of it.” Mace sat back hard in the chair exhaling his breath in a heavy sigh. “It broke three doors, including mine and I had to pay to replace all of them. Master Yoda was so mad he wanted me to rebuild the darn things myself. From scratch! Sometimes I think he must wonder why we were ever brought to the Temple!”
"I think he believes the force brought us to test him!" Qui-Gon wiped the tears from his eyes, trying to catch his breath.
“You know he hasn’t been that mad since you brought home that clutch of crystal sand spiders!”
“Oh no, please! I remember that, that was awful.” The Jedi Master cringed at the images the memory evoked. “And they all hatched at the same time. And I thought they had escaped, I didn’t know they were practically invisible until I tipped the cage up to look in and they all tumbled out.”
“My friend that was the best! How long did Yoda lecture you that time? I don’t think we saw you for weeks!” A fit of giggles caught the dark Jedi. “We all thought Master Yoda had killed you!”, he stammered.
“Yeah, well I think it crossed his mind a time or two. And I believe he lectured me for a good seven hours straight after which I was sent to meditate on the why’s and wherefores of appreciating nature without touching it.” Qui-Gon glared at his friend, who was lost in his own thoughts on the matter unable to control the humor he saw in the whole situation. “Now it wasn’t that funny Mace!”
“Oh yes it was. All those sand spiders out in the Temple, couldn’t even see the darn things. And then how many people got bitten before we found them all?”, a snicker of laughter caused him to pause.
“Thirteen.” Supplied Qui-Gon humorlessly gazing at the ceiling waiting the other out. “Good thing they aren't poisonous.”, he muttered to himself.
“Did you ….did you know”, hardly able to catch his breath Mace started laughing harder, “did you know one of them bit Master Ploon and he turned purple?!?! Oh Jinn, he still brings that up in council every once in a while when he gets really mad at me, he still believes it was MY fault!”
At that Qui-Gon did start laughing.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Qui-Gon had fallen asleep on the floor, his head cradled in his arms resting on the edge of the couch next to Obi-Wan. Traces of the morning light edged in through the windows, giving the room a soft warm glow. Mace watched the two of them sleeping. He leaned over and retrieved the small cloth once again from the young mans forehead intending to wet it more and replace it. At his touch the blue green eyes of the apprentice flickered open, looking around confusedly, sickness and sleep still fogging them over.
“Look who’s awake.”
The soft voice caused the Padawan to shift slightly, looking back over his shoulder to focus on his Masters friend.
“Master Mace?” His voice was a whisper, and cracked with the dryness the fever had brought.
The older man nodded, "How do you feel?"
Obi-Wan closed his eyes for a moment breathing slowly, "Better. Tired." As he started to sit up Mace leaned out and pressed him back.
“Ssshh. You’ll wake Qui-Gon.” He lifted his chin in the direction of the sleeping Master. Obi-Wan moved slowly, turning onto his side shifting under the pile of blankets that pressed him down until he could see his Master, resting on the edge of the couch. Gently he reached out and placed his hand and the sleeping mans head watching him for the span of a heartbeat.
“He’s been up with you all night. But he wouldn’t let me take you to the healers.” Mace smiled and shrugged at the Padawan as his head jerked up to look at the other in surprise.
Slowly the Padawan moved his hand till it was resting on the nearest shoulder of his Master, lifting slowly and evenly with his deep breathing.
//Obi-Wan?// The apprentice watched his sleeping teacher.
//Yes, Master. I’m alright.//
Qui-Gon drew in a deep breath waking slowly out of the slumber he was caught in.
“Obi-Wan?”, as realization sunk in, he sat up and drew back looking into the face of the young man. He looked quickly at Mace, who only nodded in return. “How do you feel my Padawan.” He reached out with his hands, one hand went to the back of the young mans head drawing him closer as the other gently touched his forehead. Wrapped in his Masters strong hands the student relaxed and closed his eyes.
“I feel fine, Master.” He didn’t move, letting the other have his way until he was satisfied the fever was gone. Qui-Gon released the apprentice and sat back with a sigh of relief looking between his friend and his Padawan.
“You had us worried.”, Mace smiled at Qui-Gon, “Well you had the old man worried anyway.”
Qui-Gon raised his eyebrows in question at his choice of words.
“Well, I guess the worst is over,” the dark Jedi clamped a hand on his friends shoulder and with a yawn, made to stand up, “I think I’ll be going now.”
“Oh, I am not through with you.”
“What?” Qui-Gon’s statement stopped him. “Obi-Wan’s fine. I am tired, I am going to go.”
“No. No I am definitely not through with you. This is still all your fault.”
“What?!?! Oh no, we are not starting that again!”
“What were you thinking?!”
“What was I thinking? Why don’t you ask him what he was thinking!”
“You’re the adult…”
“Jinn I am warning you.”
The argument trailed down the hallway as the two older Jedi, one trying to escape and the other demanding responsibility and answers fought to gain control of the door. The sick Padawan now forgotten in the heat of the old argument listened to them for a few moments before kicking off the covers that held him down. A huge smile spread across his face as he sat on the edge of the couch following the back and forth bickering of the two men.
“You did too.”, accused Qui-Gon.
“I did not!”
“Oh come on now!”
“What. What!? Why is it always my fault.”
Padding quietly after them the young man went to the rescue, if he didn’t stop them soon they would go on this way all morning long. Things really are back to normal he thought, shaking his head and smiling to himself as he followed the voices down the hallway.