Qui-Gon Jinn knocked softly on his padawan’s door, no answer. He wasn’t surprised. The excitement of their most recent mission had finally drained away. It had been the fuel that had powered his young apprentice for the last three days. Masters and their new padawans were given a great deal of time to work together in the temple before being sent out together on missions. The first few missions were usually simple tasks as this one had been to ease the learners into the galaxy outside the safety of the Temple. They were to go to Netha 4 and accept an artifact on behalf of the Republic, return to Coruscant and present it to the Senate on behalf of the Netha 4 government and then deliver it to a museum on the other side of Coruscant for study and display. Obi-Wan had been so excited to be out of the temple that he’d hardly slept at all. The ceremony of state, while routine for the master had been a new and wondrous experience for the apprentice. The boy’s mouth had not stopped moving all the way home yesterday. Now, he was finally quiet.
The Jedi keyed in the door code and entered his apprentice’s quarters, turning up the lights with a wave of his hand. The boy was still soundly asleep. He had obviously been exhausted when he arrived last night as he was still fully clothed. His padawan had removed his boots and belt and collapsed. Qui-Gon knew he should wake him, but Obi-Wan was sleeping so peacefully, the expression on if face, so innocent. Instead, he pulled the blanket from the back of the desk chair and lightly covered the boy.
Qui-Gon left a note on a datapad near the sleeping child and quietly left the room. Safely in the hall, he pulled out his commlink and placed a call to Master Yoda. The Master spent a great deal of time teaching the smaller children. By the time they became apprenticed, he knew each one personally. Obi-Wan would be comfortable dealing with Master Yoda on his own.
“Master, I need a favor.”
“What can I do to help you, Qui-Gon?”
“I am leaving Obi-Wan here this morning. He was exhausted when we arrived last night and he’s still sleeping soundly this morning. I believe he needs the rest. I have to present Netha 4’s gift to the Senate at the beginning of the session today. There is little Obi-Wan can do to help with that. I will return at midday to pick him up before going on to the museum. I have left him a note to contact you when he awakes. Please, assure him that I will return to get him. I did not leave him to punish him.”
“Hmmm, you leave him because you do not have the heart to wake him. See through you, I do. Soft-hearted, you are becoming, Qui-Gon, good for you it is.” the Master teased “Look after your Padawan, I will.”
“Thank you, Master.”
Yoda taught his two morning classes and was surprised that young Kenobi had yet to contact him. On his way to the council chambers he stopped at the boy’s quarters. He buzzed, no answer. With a wave of his hand, the door opened. The sound of quiet, even breathing was all that met his ears in the darkness. Waving his hand again, he increased the light level. The small Master knew well how young padawan’s kept their rooms. He did not wish to trip over something that should not be on the floor. Surprisingly, Obi-Wan’s quarters were clean and orderly. Perhaps the boy was as affected by the pairing as his Master was. Good, thought Yoda as he entered the room. The boy was still asleep. Yoda moved closer to investigate. He sensed something more than sleep. He held out a hand and reached out with the force toward Obi-Wan. He encountered heat, waves of heat radiating from the boy. He pulled his commlink from his belt and called for a healer.
Yoda met Qui-Gon in the hall outside Obi-Wan’s quarters. Qui-Gon was startled to see the healer leaving. He turned questioning eyes to Yoda.
“Sick, your padawan is. Leave the temple today, he will not. A virus, he has. Serious it is not. Finish your mission alone, you must.”
Qui-Gon nodded, “I need to speak with Obi-Wan first.”
Yoda followed Qui-Gon into the boy’s room. Obi-Wan was dressed in his sleeping clothes now and propped up in bed. Qui-Gon sat on the edge of the bed
“How are you today, Padawan?”
Obi-Wan sighed, his hands figitting in his lap. “I thought I was just really tired, Master,” he explained.
Qui-Gon smiled, “You were really tired.”
“Master, you should go. Our mission is unfinished until that artifact is placed in the museum. I’ll be fine here. The mission comes first.”
Qui-Gon laid a hand on his apprentice’s warm cheek, “Alright. You behave and do what Yoda tells you.”
“Of course, Master.”
“I had hoped to spend some tiem with you at the museum, Padawan. We’ll have to go back when you’re feeling better.”
“I’d like that, Master.”
“I’ll be back as quickly as I can.” He nodded to Master Yoda on his way out.
“Look after the boy, I will.”
Yoda climbed up on the edge of Obi-Wan’s bed. “The healer says, rest you should, yes?”
“Yes, Master, rest and fluids.”
“Hmmm, you can rest anywhere, yes?”
“As long as there’s a place to lie down, I imagine so,” Obi-Wan agreed.
“Good, put on your robe over your night clothes and come.” Yoda slid off the bed and moved toward the door.
“Don’t I need my boots?”
“No, not leaving the temple, going upstairs, we are. Sufficient, your socks will be. Needed at council meetings, I am. The meditation room behind the council chamber has many cushions. There you may rest. Bring your blanket.”
Obi-Wan felt very conspicuous following Master Yoda in his stocking feet, carrying his blanket. He felt even more conspicuous following him across the council chambers in front of the wondering eyes of most of the council. He breathed a sigh of relief when the door of the meditation room closed behind them. Yoda piled several cushions on the floor against a wall away from the large window and stood back to admire his handy work.
“There, rest well here you can.”
Obi-Wan sat on the cushions, “Yes, Master, thank you.”
“One thing more, you need.” Yoda left the room and returned a moment later with a bottle of water which he sat next to Obi-Wan. “Need you anything, I will be in there,” he said pointing toward the council chamber door. “Reach out to me through the force, I will hear you.”
“Thank you, Master.”
“Picking up strays?” Mace Windu asked in a teasing tone as the diminutive master took his seat. Mace was new to the Council, having been asked to join after his most recent apprentice was knighted.
“Obi-Wan is my padawan for the day. Sick the boy is, rest he needs.”
“He can’t rest in his own quarters?” Mace asked.
“Until his master returns, in my care he was left. Care for him, I will. You will not wake him.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it. Did Qui-Gon manage to loose his boots on their last mission?” This time Mace grinned.
“The boy does not need boots to sleep, Master Windu.”
Obi-Wan tossed in his sleep. Demons came at him from all sides. He was surrounded. He reached for the lightsaber on his belt but it was gone. He looked frantically around for his master, but Qui-Gon wasn’t there. He was lost. There were too many of them. Their green, mottled hands were reaching for him....
A large hand fell on his shoulder, his eyes flew open and his scream strangled in his throat.
“Easy, little one. I know my appearance often startles others but I’m harmless, really.”
Obi-Wan blinked and then recognized Master Eeth Koth kneeling beside his makeshift bed. The tattoos on his face and the vestigial crown of horns around his head did give the man a menacing appearance. The boy, blushing, relaxed back into the cushions. He took a deep, cleansing breath.
The large Master sat back on his heels. “Bad dreams?”
“Yes, Master. I was being attacked and I could not find my Master or my lightsaber.”
Eeth felt the boy’s forehead before handing him the water bottle, “We have all had that dream, little one. Having a fever affects our dreams. It increases our anxieties and makes everything seem menacing and scary.”
Obi-Wan nodded his agreement as he drank.
“You can go back to sleep now?”
“I think so, Master, thank you.”
“Only good dreams now, Obi-Wan.”
Eeth returned to his council seat.
“My padawan is alright?” asked Yoda.
“Yes, a bad dream is all. He’s alright now. His fever is rising. We should keep check on him.”
Obi-Wan felt someone pulling on his blanket. He opened his eyes to find Master Depa Billaba trying to pull the blanket out from under him. Obi-Wan lifted his body so she could free it.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you,” she shook out his blanket before recovering him with it and tucking it in around him. “I just wanted to straighten your blanket, you were all tangled up in it. It couldn’t have been comfortable for you.”
“Thank you, Master.” Obi-Wan replied sleepily.
“I brought you some fresh water. I know when I’m sick, I always like it cold. It tastes better that way. Go back to sleep Obi-Wan.”
He nodded as she set the new water bottle beside him and took the half finished one away.
Several Jedi teams returned to Coruscant that day with their reports for the council. Master Ki-Adi-Mundi tried to concentrate on Luminara Unduli’s report on the political unrest in the Nothel system but his thoughts kept getting interrupted by coughing from the room behind him. It was barely audible in the Council Chambers except to his sensitive ears. After the debriefing was completed Ki-Adi-Mundi stood before the next mission report could be called for.
“Excuse me, for a moment, Masters, I need to take care of something first.” He quickly disappeared into the Meditation Chamber.
“He means take care of someone,” Mace commented as he exchanged a knowing look with Yoda.
As soon as the door closed behind him, the Master picked up a small cushion and moved toward Obi-Wan. The boy was sitting up, hand politely held over his mouth as his dry coughs issued into it.
“Here, young Padawan, let us use this cushion to prop you up.” He tucked it under the larger cushion allowing the upper half of Obi-Wan’s body to lie at a modest angle. “By raising your head and shoulders above the rest of your body it should ease that cough.”
Then, the Master pulled a wrapped lozenge out of a pocket in his robe, “I carry these for long Council sessions.” He unwrapped one and handed it to Obi-Wan, “Allow this to slowly dissolve in your mouth and the honey in it will coat your throat and make it feel better.”
Obi-Wan nodded, “Thank you, Master. I’m sure it will help.”
Ki-Adi-Mundi smiled at the boy and headed for the door. “I have to get back they are waiting for me. Feel better, Padawan.”
Obi-Wan woke. It must have been late afternoon the way the light was shining through the window. He studied the light patterns on the wall above him for a moment before rolling over to get a drink. He was startled to see Master Windu sitting on a nearby cushion in meditation. Obi-Wan thought he looked so sad.
Evidently sensing Obi-Wan’s motion the master opened his eyes and turned toward him.
“I didn’t mean to disturb you, Master. I didn’t realize you were here.” Obi-Wan wanted suddenly to be very small or invisible, either one.
“You didn’t,” The master sighed.
“Is everything alright, Master Windu?” Obi-Wan asked hesitatingly. He felt, he shouldn’t really be here, even though Master Yoda had said it was alright and he didn’t want to intrude.
“You ever have one of those days, Padawan, when you feel like you’ve gotten up on the wrong side of the force?”
“Yes, Master, regularly, my master says it’s my age and I will grow out of it but usually he helps me feel better, anyway.”
Mace smiled, “The good old days, when we had someone to look out for us. Enjoy these times, young one, they are far too short. Tell me, how does your Master make you feel better?”
Obi-Wan sat up and pulled his blanket around himself. “Usually he meditates with me and we work out the difficulty together. Sometimes, if I’m sad, he just sits with me and that makes me feel better just knowing he’s there.” He paused before continuing,“You seem sad, Master.”
“I am, Obi-Wan.”
“Do you want me to sit with you?” Obi-Wan asked shyly.
Mace gazed at Obi-Wan and sighed, “So young,” for a moment a profound sadness became visible in his eyes. “Yes, Padawan, I’d like it very much if you would sit with me.”
Obi-Wan got up, blanket still draped around his shoulders, and sat on the large cushion next to Mace. As his Master often did, Obi-Wan placed his hand inside Master Windu’s. Mace looked down at the small hand. He reached behind the boy and placed his arm around his shoulders, drawing Obi-Wan close to him. They sat in silence, looking out the window as the sun set over Coruscant.
Obi-Wan shivered with a passing chill. Without taking his eyes from the window, Mace let go of Obi-Wan’s hand and pulling the blanket with him, lifted the boy into his lap, wrapping his arms around the small body. Obi-Wan looked up at the large Jedi Master and saw tears streaming down his face. The padawan remembered Qui-Gon once telling him that sometimes the only comfort you can give is to simply be there for another person. Let them know that they are not alone. Obi-Wan relaxed content to let the man hold him in silence for as long as he needed to.
Qui-Gon was surprised to discover on his return to the temple that he would have to report to the council chambers if he wanted to collect his padawan. When he arrived, the Council had obviously ended sessions for the day. The lights in the chamber were dimmed, only a few of the masters remained, milling about in small groups. Yoda saw him enter and moved to meet him.
“Master Yoda, has something happened to Obi-Wan?”
“Not under my care, rested today your apprentice has in the meditation room.”
Qui-Gon was incredulous, “In the council’s private meditation room?”
“Yes, no trouble he was.”
“Well, good. That is good.” Qui-Gon looked at the closed door and back to Yoda who was making no moves to show him into the room. “I’ll take him home now,” he hinted.
“Wait we must. Master Windu is borrowing your padawan.”
Yoda nodded solemnly, “A ship crashed, no survivors were found, Master Windu has lost an old apprentice to be one with the force.”
Losing an apprentice was every master’s worst nightmare, “I’m sorry, Master, but what does that have to do with my padawan?”
“Wait we will. Time they need together. All is well. Enjoyed looking after your padawan today, we have.”
The inner door to the meditation room opened, Master Windu emerged carrying a sleeping Obi-Wan. He handed the padawan over to his Master and affectionately smoothed the hair from the boy’s forehead.
“His fever broke a little while ago. When he wakes tell him thank you for me. He helped me more than he can know.”
Qui-Gon nodded in dismay.
Mace punched Qui-Gon lightly in the arm as he walked by, “Good kid, you’ve got there Qui-Gon. Take care of him.”
“I will, thank you.” Now Qui-Gon was thoroughly confused.
“Take your padawan home now, you may.”
“Yes, Master. Master?”
Yoda turned to look back at Qui-Gon.
“Where are Obi-Wan’s boots?”
“In his quarters.”
“You let him come up here without them?”
Master Yoda shrugged, “Need them, he did not. Resting he was.” Yoda’s eyes narrowed, “Why think you, the boy needs boots to sleep?” Yoda didn’t wait for an answer, he turned and leaning on his cane began moving toward another door muttering to himself, “The temple has carpet and clean floors. Need shoes here we do not....”
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