Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi wearily climbed the ramp into the transport. They had completed their third difficult mission only to be dispatched on to the next with no time to catch their breath in between. It happened like that sometimes. A Jedi learned to simply keep going and endure.
Qui-Gon went forward to talk to the captain of their passenger transport, while Obi-Wan carried their small packs to the compartment they’d been assigned. The Jedi Master was pleased to discover that their transport was on a direct flight and they would arrive at their destination in a matter of hours. They were to mediate a trade dispute. As Obi-Wan had pointed out, it at least promised more palatable food and more modern accomodations than their last stop.
The Jedi Master keyed the door of their cabin and was not surprised to see a sitting room instead of the usual bunks. This was a day jump after all, they wouldn’t be sleeping here. A long bench sat along one wall while two chairs backed the other with a small table between. Several datapads that had seen better days and a deck of cards of a type Qui-Gon couldn’t readily identify adorned the table.
The Jedi was surprised, however, to find his padawan sound asleep, stretched out on the long bench seat. Seeing no reason to disturb him, Qui-Gon settled down in a chair for some much needed meditation and reflection. He would enjoy what silence he could get.
A pleasant female voice broke into the master’s introspection to announce that lunch was being served in the forward passenger area. The announcement had not woken his padawan.
“Obi-Wan?” Qui-Gon called to the young man. Still no movement.
A little louder, “Padawan?” as Qui-Gon crossed to sit on the small table and gave an arm an amused shake. Obi-Wan didn’t usually sleep so soundly. He must be tired. Qui-Gon hadn’t slept well on their last mission either. After the first night on the bare wooden beds both Jedi had opted for the carpeted floor. While he wouldn’t dream of telling his apprentice, he had no trouble admitting to himself that his older body preferred a mattress on his bed, preferably a soft one.
Finally, a pair of blue eyes squinted up at him questioningly.
“Time for lunch, Padawan.”
“Oh.” Obi-Wan didn’t move, “You go ahead, Master. I’m not hungry.” His voice was hoarse with sleep.
Now Qui-Gon was concerned. They’d had to skip breakfast to make the transport in time. “Are you feeling alright, Padawan?”
Obi-Wan glanced at the floor and then back up at his master. “Not really, Master. I feel exhausted and while my head doesn’t hurt exactly, I feel like I’m in a fog. I can’t think clearly.” He closed his eyes as his Master laid a hand against his forehead. The eyes reopened as the hand slid around to cup his cheek for a moment.
“You have a fever, Obi-Wan.”
“But we’re about to start a new mission. I can’t be sick now.”
Qui-Gon smiled knowing it would comfort his padawan, “It would seem that you have little choice in the matter, Padawan. There are no medical facilities on this transport, we are on our own.” He pulled a comm chip from his belt pouch. “Let’s take a blood sample and I will transmit it to the Temple Healers and we will find out how sick you are. Then, we will see about the mission.”
Obi-Wan nodded and held out his hand, Qui-Gon gently took it and pricked the end of a finger with the sharp corner of the chip. He noted Obi-Wan’s cloak was being utilized as a blanket, “Are you warm enough?”
“Yes, Master, I’m comfortable.”
“Good, rest. I will be back soon.”
Qui-Gon sat in a communications cubical facing the hologram of a young Master Healer from the Jedi Temple.
“Definitely Malastarian Flu. He’ll be down for several days.”
“I’m familiar with it.” Qui-Gon replied.
“Good. Where did you say you were bound, Master Jinn?”
“Alaster,” Qui-Gon watched as the hologram figure consulted a computer terminal nearby.
“Not anymore. The population of Alaster has never been exposed to this virus. Since your padawan has it, you’ve also been freshly exposed. Neither of you will be getting off the transport ship. Hold on, I will get one of the council members online for further instructions.”
“Thank you.” Again the healer turned to a terminal and while Qui-Gon couldn’t hear him, he could tell that he was apprising someone of their situation. Qui-Gon released a breath in relief. He knew they were lucky that they had caught Obi-Wan’s illness before they’d made planetfall. If the virus’ incubation period had been longer, his apprentice could have set off a planet-wide epidemic. As peacekeepers the Jedi visited many worlds and were exposed to many forms of illness. The force protected them to a large extent but even Jedi were not immune to sickness. They guarded against transmitting it whenever they could. Malastare Flu was common among the old Republic worlds and it was probably only a matter of time before someone brought it home to Alaster but the Jedi wouldn’t be responsible for it today.
Yoda appeared before him breaking his train of thought. “Master Qui-Gon, unfortunate this is. Another team will be dispatched immediately. Contact the Minister and inform him of the change, I will. Stay on the transport, arrive in Coruscant tomorrow, you will. Fortunate this is. Until then, quarantine yourselves, you will. Send someone to meet your transport, we will. The healer says your padawan will be at the height of his illness by then.”
“Yes, Master, thank you.”
“May the force be with you.”
Assuming he had already exposed the Captain with his first visit, Qui-Gon spoke with the captain and apprised him of their change in plans. The large Corellian assured him that all disembarking passengers would go through decontamination before leaving to minimize any chances of spreading the virus further. Thus reassured, Qui-Gon returned to their compartment to find Obi-Wan sleeping again. It would be better if he could sleep the duration of the illness. Qui-Gon recalled Malastarian Flu to be more of a nuisance than anything else. Weakness, fever, upset stomach, headache, Obi-Wan had survived far worse in the years that Qui-Gon had known him.
They were going home. The Jedi sat in the worn but comfortable chair and closed his eyes, finally allowing himself to be as tired as he truly felt. If his apprentice felt even half as exhausted, it was little wonder the boy had succumbed to the virus. The boy, Qui-Gon chided himself, he had to stop thinking of him that way. Obi-Wan was not a boy any longer. He would be ready for the trials soon, ready to take his place as a Knight in the Order. Qui-Gon opened his eyes and gazed at Obi-Wan’s pale face, made innocent by sleep and knew that in his heart, no matter how old Obi-Wan became or how great a Jedi Knight, his heart would always see his Padawan Learner there in those eyes.
As if feeling his Master’s eyes upon him, Obi-Wan stirred. Qui-Gon poured half a glass of water from the pitcher on the table. “Here, Obi-Wan, drink, you need fluids.”
The young man pushed himself up and leaned against the wall accepting the glass, grateful for the cool hand pressing momentarily against his forehead, monitoring his fever.
“What did the healer say?” he asked.
“Malastare Flu, you will live but you will be miserable for the next several days. However, this virus is unknown on Alaster and since we’ve both been exposed, neither of us will be going there. The council is dispatching another team.”
“I’m sorry, Master.”
“Out of your hands, Padawan. There is no blame. Fortunately, this transport will be stopping at Coruscant. You’ll be back in your own bed by midday tomorrow.”
“With a mattress and sheets and pillows,” Obi-Wan closed his eyes and sighed. “That’s good.”
Qui-Gon smiled, “I thought you would like that.”
“Wake up, Obi-Wan. It’s time for dinner.”
“I don’t want any, not hungry.” He tried to roll toward the wall but his master’s hand restrained him.
“It is weak broth and you will have some, my young Padawan. You need to keep your strength up.”
Obi-Wan reluctantly accepted the bowl and sipped from it’s rim. “How long before we arrive home?”
“We have one more stop, then Coruscant. We will be arriving just before dawn. This ship docks some distance from the temple. They are sending someone to meet us, so we will not have to find our own transportation.”
“That is thoughtful of them,” Obi-Wan commented.
“How are you feeling?”
“Miserable, my head aches. My body aches. I feel I am one giant ache. You’re sure I’ll live?”
Qui-Gon chuckled, “Yes, I’m sure. Count yourself lucky, Padawan. I was a knight when I caught it years ago and I was on a mission alone and had no one to take care of me. Just Master Yoda calling me on the commlink every few hours to see if I was better yet and able to continue the negotiations.”
“That must have been terrible, being alone like that.”
“It wasn’t pleasant, but I survived and you will, too. It just won’t feel like it for awhile.”
Qui-Gon helped Obi-Wan on with his cloak and made sure that it was wrapped closed in the front to keep him warm.
“My pack,” Obi-Wan turned back into the room.
“I have it, Padawan. You concentrate on keeping yourself moving.”
“How’s your stomach?”
“Don’t ask, Master.”
“That good? I’ll remember to tell our driver to avoid turbulence.”
“That would be appreciated, Master.”
They disembarked the ship, Qui-Gon’s left arm around his padawan’s waist and his right hand holding Obi-Wan’s right wrist, guiding him down the ramp. Master Adi Gallia was waiting for them. She opened the door of the speeder and helped the unsteady apprentice inside.
“How are you, Obi-Wan?” she asked.
“Not well,” he replied laying his head against the back of the seat gratefully, exhausted just from walking out of the ship.
Adi looked to Qui-Gon questioningly.
“His fever is spiking,” Qui-Gon replied in way of explanation.
She nodded understanding, “Let’s get him home to bed then.”
Obi-Wan slept the final leg of the journey, the soft voices of the master’s conversing in the front seat, lulled him to sleep. He curled up on the backseat and felt as though he hadn’t been asleep any time at all when his Master’s voice called to him to move again.
“Padawan, time to wake up. We’re home. You have only to walk to your bed and I won’t bother you again.”
Obi-Wan opened his eyes and considered his Master through the open door.
“You are lying, Master. You will bother me to eat and drink and to take medicine.”
“I bother you because I care about you, Padawan.” Qui-Gon smiled in amusement.
Obi-Wan grunted as he slid out of the speeder, “You know what they say, Master. Love kills.” He stood shakily and nodded his thanks to Master Gallia.
Adi chuckled, “I will inform the healers you are here. No doubt, they will want to check on your apprentice. I will leave you to see him home.”
“Thank you.” Qui-Gon bowed to her slightly. Again, he had a supporting arm around his padawan’s waist.
Obi-Wan collapsed on his bed, eyes closed. Qui-Gon unpacked their travel packs and walked into his padawan’s room. Smiling, he removed Obi-Wan’s boots and unbuckled his belt. The young man pushed himself up and began slowly removing his own clothing. Qui-Gon retrieved his night attire and helped him into it. Wearily, Obi-Wan pulled back the covers and crawled into his bed. Qui-Gon tucked the blankets around him and then, sat on the bed.
Again, as he had done so many times in the last day, he leaned forward and gauged his padawan’s fever, mentally tracking it’s unsteady ups and downs.
“Yes, as long as I do not have to move anymore. Master?”
“I know after the last three missions we were both hoping for a break but this is not how I wanted to do it.”
“I know, Padawan, but sometimes good things can come from adversity. I for one am looking forward to a few nights in my own bed.”
“Me too, Master.”
“Rest well, Padawan.”
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