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Rest and Recuperation

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan awoke to an odd sound. MRRRGGSSGGnobi. He hadn’t heard such a sound before and couldn’t quite place it. Trying to open and focus sleep-gritted eyes, he attempted to look about the room for the source of the disturbance.

MRRDJSKGJNOBI. The end of the sound could have been his name, but where exactly was he?
He opened his eyes again and saw the pale color of his bedspread at the temple, his face lying in an undignified puddle of drool. Thankfully, he was in his quarters and alone. Pushing himself up on disturbingly shaky arms, he discovered the source of the noise.

His com, of course, which he’d been laying on. Ah. He picked up the offending object, which was resounding with the gruff yet melodious tones of Master Windu.

“General Kenobi, are you there?” He tried to shake himself awake and vigorously cleared his throat.

“Of course, how can I be of assistance?”

“You’re expected in the Council Chambers in 20 minutes.”

Stars end, this was not good. “Ah, yes. I’ll be there presently.”

He sat for a moment on the bed, perplexed and a little dizzy. What was the hour? He had the haziest recollection of entering his quarters in the early evening after that long affair on Ryloth and then nothing after. Looking down at himself, he was still shamefully dressed in blood stained and blaster burnt robes. He stood and shook himself a little and several pebbles fell from his person. Hmmm. He must have collapsed fully dressed on his bed and slept for… He looked at his chrono… 14 hours.

The Force wept, what a mess. He couldn’t possibly attend a Council meeting in such a state. Walking briskly into the ‘fresher, he ignored his stomach’s pitiful groans. No time for that now. He stripped and threw the offensive garments down the laundry shoot. Hopefully they’d be burned.

After a quick shower, he tried not to study himself too closely as he trimmed his hair and beard into a presentable state. A strange tremor had taken up residence in his hands and he couldn’t quite shake the fog of fatigue from his mind. He dressed and rummaged through his rucksack to find a few stim capsules he had left. That would have to do.

By some kind of grace he didn’t know he possessed, he somehow made it into the council chambers, where the usual throng awaited him. He moved towards the middle of the room to speak, but was overcome by an odd rushing sensation in his ears and a fluttering in his chest. He could see that Master Windu was speaking, but couldn’t quite hear any words coming out of his mouth. How odd.

An extremely unpleasant sensation came over him, and he was quite afraid he’d be sick all over the council floor, which reminded him of the time as a padawan where he’d ate far too much sweet ice milk at a formal dinner on Corellia and sadly made an embarrassing mess all over his master. This charming thought was interrupted by the unfortunate loss of his vision. Desperate not to make a complete fool of himself in the council chambers, he tried calling on the Force to fortify him. Sadly, it didn’t answer.

He awoke on the hard floor to the concerned faces of the various beings of the council chamber, all of which looked perplexed as to what to do next. Covered in drenching cold sweat and trembling faintly, he was sure he made quite the scene. Mace Windu, who always knew what to do next, bent down, grabbed him under the armpits, and pulled him back to standing. It seemed like the high tower of the Council Chambers had developed some kind of rotational abilities.

“Are you going to faint again?” Mace said, studying his face.

“Of course not. I apologize for my momentary indisposition.” He was aware that this was a lie; the fluttering sensation was starting up again. Blast. Obi-Wan tried to get his body to cooperate by force of will.

“Momentary? I’ve seen livelier corpses. This debriefing can wait. We’re going to the Halls.”

Obi-Wan took a few deep breaths. “It was just a brief weakness, I’m sure it will pass with a few hours of rest.”

Mace raised his eyebrows and frowned wearily. “Looking at you, I rather doubt it. Master Che has told me that you’ve been skipping your post-deployment physicals.”

Obi-Wan crossed his arms around his chest in an attempt to steady himself. “I wouldn’t want to bother her or her healers. They’re overworked as it is.”

Mace wrapped a steadying arm around his shoulders and started walking. “There’s no choice in the matter, you slippery eel. You’re going now, and I’m taking you there myself.”

They took the lift back down and started walking, well Mace was really half-carrying him but for a while his feet were still on the ground. All he knew was that the rushing began again, like there was an ocean between his ears. The last thing he felt was strong arms swinging him into an undignified bridal carry and everything went black.

Some undetermined amount of time later, he slowly returned to consciousness. He was somewhere cool and quiet that smelled oddly clean and disinfected. The bed he was lying on was soft and he felt safe and calm until he placed that distinct smell, the Halls of Healing. Blast and damn.

Cracking open bleary eyes, he peered at a Sullustan padawan puttering about the room, studying some readings on the monitor above him.

“Oh, Master, you’re awake!” She remarked.

He rubbed at his aching head. “Unfortunately. How long have I been here and when will I be able to leave?” Obi-Wan asked, trying briefly to sit up and regretting it fully.

“Um, 3 days?” She said, eyes darting nervously about the room. “Let me get Master Che.” She bolted out before he could ask any further questions.

Three days? He didn’t remember any of it. Steeling himself, Obi-Wan tried to sit up again and swung his legs over the side of the bed. The world turned on its axis, gravity surged, and he somehow ended up in a heap on the floor for second time in a week. His blasted limbs didn’t really want to obey him, so he just lay there, maybe panting a little. A horrible dinging sound echoed throughout the room, so he just closed his eyes.

The next time he woke up he was back in bed, and Master Che was looming ominously over him, frowning intently. She looked as exhausted as he felt, dark stains under her blue eyes, lekku twitching.

Maybe he would attempt flattery. “Master Che, you’re looking quite lovely today.”

She clearly wasn’t having it. Not even a hint of a smile. “Stop talking. You’ve made quite a mess of yourself, Kenobi. Even for you, this degree of self-destruction is quite remarkable. I may have to write it up so others can learn from it.”

He tried to get his foggy brain to remember why exactly he was here. “Am I injured?” He vaguely remembered something to do with the council chambers.

“Injured? Hmm… not precisely. While you have numerous partially healed fractures of your pelvis, ribs, sternum, and spine, that’s not why you’re here,” she said, plopping down in a chair in an almost defeated fashion.

“I don’t have time to sugar coat this. Must I remind you that you have a physical body and that you’ve pushed it to its utter limit? How long did you think you could live off stims and the Force until you collapsed, as you did?”

“My men and the Council were counting on me to finish the mission. There was so little time.” It sounded silly as he said it, and he felt almost contrite.

Her face softened just a little. “I’m as angry at the Council as I am at you. In the past year, you’ve had only a handful of days away from missions. They can’t expect to use their knights like this; it’s not sustainable,” she huffed a little, crossing her arms and leaning back in the chair.

“Back to you, Kenobi. Sustaining yourself with the force and stimulants alone has resulted in the inevitable adrenal collapse. Your body can’t currently produce the hormones it needs to sustain it. You’re malnourished and a good 12 kilos lighter than you were the last time you were here. I’ve placed you on the injured list. You won’t return to duty until I allow it.”

This was ridiculous. Yes, he could stand to take better care of himself, and catch up on sleep and a few meals, but not allowing him to return to the war was ridiculous. He huffed and ran a hand through his hair. It did feel a bit brittle. That was not good, not good at all. Perhaps there was some truth in what Master Che had to say. Perhaps.

A bit bewildered, he brought his thoughts back to the present. “For how long?”

“As long as I say. You have several more days here with us, as your heart’s function is decreased, seems like a stress cardiomyopathy and your electrical system has been quite irritable. I don’t think it’s permanent, but should recover with time. Maybe a month or two, if you rest completely and stick to the diet I prescribe. No stimulants and that includes limited tea only.”

He rubbed a tremulous hand over his bearded chin. “A month! That seems excessive, but I suppose I can catch up on my research.”

She crossed her arms over her chest. “No research or stress of any kind.”

What would he do then? “Well, I can attend the council and assist with strategy.”

She sighed. “Absolutely not.”

“Teach younglings in the crèche, then?”

A deeper sigh. “No. No sparring. No council. No stress. No rambunctious younglings for now.”

“What will I do?” He was utterly perplexed.

Master Che rested her small hand against his shoulder in an uncharacteristic gesture of comfort. “Rest. Eat. Read a novel. Meditate. Walk in the gardens. Gentle Katas. Regular check-ups. That is, it until I say otherwise.”

He stared at her dumfounded, unable to come up with any viable response. “Master Che, I couldn’t possibly…. There is a war and the galaxy suffers. I am a General and expected to lead.”

She stood up and studied his face, her own unreadable. “It will suffer without you for a while. As skilled as you are, you’re just one man. There’s simply no choice in the matter.”

He stared up at the ceiling for a moment, dumfounded. His limbs did feel oddly heavy. “I don’t know how I can do this,” he said, utterly dumbfounded.

Master Che grinned for the first time. “I don’t see that you have a choice,” she said, turning and striding out the door.

Exhausted and bewildered, he fell back against the bed and passed out. When he woke up a while later, the lights were dim and a familiar presence was sitting by his bedside. He opened his eyes and sat up a little, embarrassed about his current state of disarray.

“Cody, what are you doing here?” he asked, trying to make his hair lay flat as best as possible given the limited resources. He squared his shoulders and tried to find his usual composure.

“No offense sir, but I came here to gloat,” Cody replied. He was dressed in his off-duty uniform and looked tired. There was an uncharacteristic grin on his face.

“Gloat?” He asked, trying to arrange the pillow behind his back so that he could sit up in a semi-dignified fashion.

“Yes, gloat. Sir, I trust you with my life, but I don’t trust you with your own.” Cody’s warm smile had turned to a frown.

“Cody, I…”

“The men and I, we do care about you sir. We want you to be well. Have I not been begging you to take care of yourself and take some rest for the past months? So there. I’m gloating. And only because I was right.”

“Cody, I didn’t mean to worry you. And you don’t have to call me sir. I hope to think that we’re friends?” Obi-Wan reached out and touched his forearm for a moment.

Cody smiled a little at that, then his face returned to its rather stern lines. “We don’t want another General, so you have to get well.”

He sighed, a little overwhelmed by all of this. “I’ll try to do better, Cody.”

Cody stood up to leave, grabbing his jacket off the back of the chair. “You’ll have to. And General? You look terrible.”

Obi-Wan leaned back and sighed, still crippled by the mind-numbing exhaustion. He was beginning to be afraid to look in a mirror. Oh well. The remainder of the day passed uneventfully. He was poked and prodded and forced to drink some kind of chalky liquid and eat nutritional gruel. The hours seemed endless, filled with tedium. He sat on his bed, meditating, while they ran tests on his errant heart. It did seem to race with some regularity.

Another day had passed and he hadn’t even been allowed a datapad or anything. This was ridiculous. He already felt loads better and his men shouldn’t be left without their General. He wasn’t a Jedi Master so that he could sit around and indulge himself.

They’d left him his com, but he really didn’t feel like talking, and the only messages he received were from an increasingly irate Anakin.

-Master, are you ok? Something doesn’t feel right
-Are you going to answer me?
-I’m worried, Master.
-Master, I heard from Depa that you got sent to the Halls? What happened?
-I’m really worried now! So is Ahsoka.
-Obi-Wan Kenobi, answer me or I’m leaving my post and coming to strangle you myself!!

Sighing profoundly, Obi-Wan just didn’t have the heart to answer him quite yet. It would be best to talk with Anakin in person and reassure him. He knew from Cody that the 212th was set to leave today for the Outer Rim to join him. This whole healing thing was nonsense. He should be with them, not lazing about like a useless lump. How to escape? Surely a plan would present itself.

He spied a robe on the back of the chair by his bed, and wrapped himself in it, then quietly got out of bed and padded in his socks down the hallway. There was the slight problem that he was wearing this robe over the pajama like garb of the healing halls and had no boots, however he would hopefully be able to remedy that.

Fortuitously, he spied a Twi’lek senior padawan doing his time in the Halls, helping arrange relief supplies. Obi-Wan grinned to himself, noting that he and this young man were of similar size. He straightened his shoulders and broke out his most charming smile.

“Good morning there, padawan- Brin is it?” He said, cocking his head to the side and energetically beaming, whilst trying to appear perfectly normal.

The padawan looked up from the supplies he was sorting and blinked at him like a startled rabbit.

“Oh! Master, um General Kenobi. Ah… what are you doing here?” The tips of his lekku were twitching nervously.

He walked over closer to the padawan and leaned against the table he was working on in a friendly manner. “Well, there’s been a bit of a mix up. I was in for a minor injury, which has been treated, but I can’t seem to find my robes or my boots. I’m sure they were just misplaced. The healers have been so overworked lately.”

The padawan shyly looked him over. “Are you sure you’re feeling well, Master?”

He grinned, willing some color into his face. “Of course! Well enough to spar, I would say. I hear you are quite the saber wielder yourself?”

The padawan blushed furiously. “Oh no, Master. Nothing like you! I could help you find your things?”

Now he frowned and widened his eyes to a semblance of despair. “No time for that, my ship departs in an hour. Now, Padawan Brin, what saber form do you use?”

“Ataru, Master,” Brin said eagerly.

“Oh, well, what a coincidence! I too favored Ataru when I was your age. It requires such agility. Now that I am older, I favor Soresu. Perhaps we could spar someday? You could show me what the younger generation is doing with Ataru these days.”

The padawan was blushing so furiously he was turning purple. “Oh, Master Kenobi, I’d be honored!”

He reached out and patted the padawan’s shoulder. “It would be my deepest pleasure. Now Brin, I really must meet up with my troops. This is going to sound odd, but may I ask a favor of you?”

“Anything, Master!”

“Yes, well, I need to borrow your clothes… and your boots. I promise that I’ll return them and that we’ll have that spar.”

The padawan looked uncertain for a moment, but then shook his head and started to strip to his underthings. The clothes trade went about uneventfully, and he made his way down one of the back corridors that he healers used.

This padawan favored brown robes with synth-leather, which was certainly styled after his own former padawan’s apparel. Well, Anakin was popular with the younger set too, he had to admit. He straightened out the borrowed robes into some semblance of order and pulled his hood up. Hopefully in this odd garb, he wouldn’t be recognized. Looking at his chrono, he knew the council was in session at this hour, so he wasn’t likely to be caught by any of them.

He tried to walk purposefully, and avoid wobbling like the newborn bantha he felt like. Disconcertingly, he could feel his heart pounding in his chest. Maybe there was some truth to Master Che’s words?

Well he’d made it this far, there was no turning back now. He headed for the large front doors, where hopefully he’d be unnoticed in the crowds of Jedi coming and going. Then he’d make his way around to the back entrance of the hangers. Once he was on his ship, he’d told himself that he’d rest and let Kix fuss over him. Was it so wrong to want to be with his men? He should be leading them. He’d never forgive himself if something happened to them that he could have prevented.

He made it out onto the tall steps, where he was temporarily blinded by the sunlight. The strange rushing sound started up again, like his star fighter was firing up inside his head. He noted one of the temple guards giving him a curious look. He had the sudden urge to vomit. How odd, had the sun gone behind a cloud? Everything had gone dark. He heard a hard thud and felt the marble cool beneath him. All went quiet.

He awoke again to the unpleasant sensation of Master Che standing over him with a grim smile on her face, noting that he was back in the same room in the healing halls. The same Temple Guard he’d seen earlier stood stalwart in the doorway. He (presumably) was quite the large fellow.

“Well Master Kenobi. You now have the dubious distinction of being the first Jedi Master to pass out on the front steps of the temple and be carried back by a Temple Guard like a bride across the threshold. Well, at least the first in recent recorded history. I’m glad that a troop of junior padawans got to witness your foolishness and receive a much-needed lesson in the failings of their elders.”

His heart still felt like it was fluttering oddly in his chest. He tried to swallow to make the sensation go away. Master Che injected something into the intravenous line in his arm and soon the sensation faded.

“I was feeling better, Vokara. I can’t lay here while my men could be dying. They need me. Anakin and Ahsoka need me.”

“The 212th is competent and Anakin is no longer your padawan. He is grown and a fine Jedi. They will go on without you. If you continue on like this, your heart will stop… Do you hear me? You will have an arrhythmia like you just did. What if that happened on the battle field?”

He did feel dizzy and the weakest that he’d ever felt in his life and knew that he was minutes away from unconsciousness again. An odd feeling of despair and regret washed through him and he closed his eyes. “I honestly don’t know if I can do this.”

“You can,” Master Che said, looking at him thoughtfully. “You’ll need someone to keep you in check.”

Obi-Wan heard a faint whistling from the corridor outside his room, and Master Che went to open the door. She poked her head out and called to someone passing down the hallway. “Ah, Master Vos! How fortuitous.”

Obi-Wan tilted his head and saw a rather grey and wan looking version of his old associate, who stood sheepishly in the doorway. “Master Che? Oh, hi Obi. You look terrible.”

“Come in here, Vos,” she said, with a look that would not bear disobedience.

Quinlan didn’t really look up to arguing anyway, and meekly stepped inside the room. Obi-Wan noted that he too was wearing the loose garb given to the ill and injured. Relieved that Vos was also sharing in his misery, Obi-Wan wondered what she was up to.

“Master Vos, I have a mission for you.”

Quinlan’s face perked up a little with this. “Does that mean I can leave this Sith-forsaken place?”

“Soon enough, soon enough. You’re still recovering from the Noorian flu, but hopefully this task won’t strain you too much. Given that you’re no longer contagious, your mission is to look after your friend here. If you mind him until he recovers, I’ll take you both off the injured list. If he misbehaves, the two of you won’t be out in the field again until you’ve gone completely grey,” she said, face earnest and grim.

Quinlan looked confused at first, but then nodded and presented Obi-Wan with the grin of the slightly unhinged. Obi-Wan was too gob smacked to even come up with a witty retort. Thankfully, Obi-Wan’s body found it to be a good time to conveniently pass out. At least he could avoid thinking about his future prospects for a while.

Chapter Text

Morning came again without warning, funny how that seemed to happen lately. Obi-Wan slowly woke up, sensing that he was somewhere safe and not alone. Had Cody strong armed him to the medbay again? He cracked one eye open reluctantly. No, he was in the Halls still and remained in one of the higher acuity rooms, surrounded by the low, almost inaudible hum of the monitoring equipment.

He cracked the other eye open, noted the person sitting at his bedside, and reality greeted him like a punch to the teeth. Sighing, he blearily acknowledged that he must have some profound Force exhaustion to not be able to recognize the presence of his old… acquaintance. Quinlan was dressed in his usual robes now, dutifully reading a datapad which he set on the floor.

He turned towards Obi-Wan and grinned. “Like the elusive mud worm of Malastare, you’ve woken up from your 100-year sleep.”

Obi-Wan was too exhausted and groggy for this. He couldn’t seem to shake the fog that crept over his mind, so he resorted to his habitual banter. “Quinlan Vos, is it really you? Elusive, that’s an awfully big word.”

Quin snorted and regarded him fondly. “Reading up on my vocabulary, so you don’t treat me with disdain.”

It had been a long time since someone had looked at him with this affectionate kindness, and it was an odd sensation that made him uncomfortable. “Quin, really, disdain? Another big word.”

“Hey, I went to the same classes you did. Some people don’t want to sound like a snooty Coruscanti wine merchant who writes an etiquette column for The Globe on the side.”

He tried not to smile. “Wine merchant, really?”

Quin frowned a little and clasped Obi-Wan’s forearm with his large, warm hand. “What happened between us, Obi? I thought we were friends, but lately you haven’t given me the time of day,” he said, scratching at his chin. “I guess I’m not good enough for the likes of the High General.”

“Quin, that’s not it, I just…” Well maybe that was it; he’d been so busy and self-important that he’d ignored his dear friends. He did miss bantering with someone for the sake of it, other than for some ulterior motive. The feeling of a warm hand on his arm was admittedly a little overwhelming. No one had touched him out of kindness for a long time. This thought was interrupted by Master Che blustering into the room.

“I hate to break up such a charming scene, gentlemen, but I need to examine Master Kenobi. Out, Vos. You guard duty starts tomorrow. Meet him in his chambers at 1200.”

Obi-Wan almost asked if Quinlan could stay but realized that this sounded ridiculous and would be equal parts annoying. Unwittingly, his eyes lingered on Quin’s strong back as he ducked his head and bolted out of the room with uncharacteristic meekness. At least Master Che invoked terror universally.

“Ah, Master Che, it’s so pleasing to hear your dulcet tones and be soothed by your charming bedside manner.” When he noticed how worn she looked he almost felt guilty for teasing her. If anyone needed a vacation it was Vokara.

She grimaced as she moved to stand beside the bed. “Kenobi. I’m in no mood to banter. Sit up straight and undo the top of your gown.”

“Really, without dinner first? Vokara, I’m shocked.”

Her expression remained impassive. “You must be feeling better if you can be this ridiculous. Now, if this scan looks satisfactory you can leave tomorrow. You haven’t had any serious arrhythmias in 24 hours.”

Stars wept, all his hopes rested on this scan. “Oh, those are some sweet words, my dearest. Please go on.”

Vokara sighed deeply. “You are insufferable. There are conditions. You must wear this heart monitor,” she said, handing him a wrist strap and gesturing for him to put it on. “And, you must take the supplements I give you and follow this meal plan. Everything will be delivered.” She handed him a datapad. “I will send a junior healer to monitor your progress and you’ll check in here once a week. And take absolutely nothing that could be construed as a stimulant.”

She picked up an ultrasonic device and used it to look at his heart while she continued to provide instruction. “No sparring until I release you, only stretching and walking, the most gentle katas at half speed. Meditating, of course, is fine. You can read, but nothing that will make you tear your hair out.”

She put the probe down and gave him a small half smile. “Now I don’t care if you want to research the mating habits of semi-domesticated tooka, but nothing about Sith or war or anything that could be construed as stressful.” She set the device down after making some notations. “Your cardiac function is a little bit improved, but still off normal. Please don’t push it.”

He studied the datapad she handed him and gaped at the huge amount of food she wanted him to eat. One day was more than he’d eaten in… well, a long time. “Master Che, are you sure you didn’t give me the menu plan for a Wookie feast day?”

She let out an even deeper, world-weary sigh. “It’s a perfectly normal amount for a human male of your size who has been ill. Your sense of normalcy is so skewed by your self-destructive tendencies that you have no concept of reality anymore. At a minimum, you must drink the supplements four times a day. They’re in your quarters.”

He felt oddly overwhelmed and swallowed back the bubble of anxiety in his throat. How was he supposed to do this? He just wanted to go back to his men.

He must not have been shielding very well, because Vokara gave him one of her rare kind, gentle looks. “You can do this. You must let your friends help you. You’ll be well soon enough if you work at it. It only seems insurmountable.”

Unnerved, his eyes felt hot and sticky. He could never live with himself if he became emotional now. They were conveniently interrupted by a droid bringing in his late meal tray. “Now… show me you can keep this down and you’ll be free tomorrow,” Vokara said as she left the room.

Obi-Wan didn’t feel anything resembling hunger, but dear Force Gods how he wanted to leave. He choked down the unappetizing slop and tried not to focus on how it felt like lead in his belly. At least he’d be in his own rooms tomorrow, even if they were to be inhabited by Quinlan Vos.

Yes, Quin had painted him green when he was a toddler, but also had comforted him endlessly when he lost his Master. This was a strange thought. He suddenly felt terribly alone. How long had it been since someone appreciated him for himself without needing something from him? He couldn’t say.

The night was uneventful; he was still so exhausted that he could do nothing but sleep, not even ruminate over the uncomfortable thoughts dancing around in his mind. Vokara told him he’d do a lot of sleeping coming down from his stim and Force overuse. Obi-Wan hadn’t slept this much since he was an infant, he suspected.

The next morning, he was examined again by a junior healer, and the results seemed to be acceptable. His instructions were reiterated; he could have one weak cup of tea per day, he must wear his heart monitor, he was not to do any activities which could raise his heart rate significantly, he was to follow his diet plan, and check in regularly. He was advised that his escort would be by presently.

Obi-Wan assumed that it would be Quinlan, but it wasn’t. Standing there, handsome and petulant, was his former Padawan.

“Anakin, I’m pleased to see you, but don’t you have better things to do with your time off than check up on your old Master?”

“Master!! Why didn’t you answer my coms!? I’ve been worried sick!” Anakin said, standing there with his arms crossed, bristling with righteous anger. Within those crossed arms were what looked like his robes and boots.

Obi-Wan tried to give off the aura of calm serenity. The monitor at his wrist started beeping insistently, so he covered it with his hand at took some slow breaths. “Young one, as you can see, I’m just fine. I hope you’re here with leave of the council and that you’ve completed your mission?”

Anakin broke eye contact, looking off to the side of the room. “Yeah, pretty much. Rex and Cody are on clean up duty. Nothing they can’t handle.” Anakin dropped the clothes on the bed and pulled him into a bone-cracking hug, which caused a startled Obi-Wan to let out an undignified squeak. “You look terrible, Master.”

Obi-Wan sighed and gently extracted himself from Anakin’s grasp. “So I hear,” he said, rolling his eyes.

Determined to leave, Obi-Wan swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood up, legs disturbingly wobbly. Anakin watched on with a look of naked concern best ignored if one cared about their dignity. He stripped out of the gown he was wearing and started to put on some loose robes, so ready to bolt that he didn’t really caring that Anakin was there.

Once he finished, Obi-Wan noticed Anakin was staring at him with abject horror. “Master, when did you get so…”

Obi-Wan grimaced. He knew he was a little bit ‘diminished’ but Anakin didn’t need to overreact so. Anakin always worried like a hen with one chick. “Anakin, stop. I’ve been a bit unwell and I’ve been given some time to recover.”

“I’m not overreacting! Cody was right when he said… Well, maybe I shouldn’t say.”

Obi-Wan sat back down on the bed to pull on his boots. “What did he say?”

“I shouldn’t tell you, Master. Cody told me some things in confidence. He was just worried about you.”

Obi-Wan softened what was likely a thunderous expression. “I won’t be mad at Cody, Anakin. I promise. He’s a good man.” Better than I deserve, he thought. Cody would never let him down. “What did he say?”

Anakin looked away and fiddled with the hem of his robe. “That you weren’t taking care of yourself. That you were a mess. In the past few months, he spent every day afraid that you were going to die from exhaustion.”

Obi-Wan drew in a deep breath, feeling guilty that he had worried Cody. “Oh Padawan, I don’t think it’s as bad as that.”

“Um, seeing you right now, I’m pretty sure it’s that bad. Master, you collapsed in the Council Chambers. Your heart almost stopped.” Anakin regarded him with big, plaintive eyes. “You were never great at sleeping Master, but when did it get so bad? I, um, Ahsoka and I and the men, hell the Order needs you. The Council wouldn’t be able to get their heads out of their asses without you.”

“Anakin!” he admonished, realizing that he thrived on those facts and had worked his whole life at making himself indispensable. What would he do if he were no longer needed, if he had no one to help? Obi-Wan didn’t think he could bear it. Thinking on that, he should really meditate on his pride.

“Well, it’s true and you know it. Anyways, let’s get you back home,” Anakin said, giving Obi-Wan a hand up.

The walk back to his quarters was interminable. His legs were shaky and exhausted, muscles burning like after his Master had dragged him along a 100-km jaunt through a desert tracking a nearly extinct wild dog. Anakin kept looking at him nervously, obviously unsure of how he should help and unable to cope with his weak and decrepit master.

“Maybe we should rest a minute? I’m really wiped after my last mission,” Anakin said.

Obi-Wan turned to look at Anakin, who was buzzing with his usual frenetic energy. He looked like he could force leap over the temple without taking a breath, but Obi-Wan could recognize that Anakin was approaching panic and winding up towards hovering.

This particular hallway had a bench so one could overlook the center atrium. Obi-Wan acquiesced and sat, trying to hide the fact that he was out of breath. Master Che had warned him that it would take quite some time to get his strength back, and he was beginning to see she was right.

“Master, I could get you something to drink? Or a snack? I could get a hover chair? Maybe we should go back to the Halls?” Anakin was standing over him, now hovering aggressively.

“Anakin, please. I would have to be dead, legless, or as aged as Master Yoda before I’d go in a hover chair. I’ll be fine in a moment. Sit down. Just watching you is exhausting me.”

Anakin complied and sat beside him. “Why are you so opposed to a hover chair? You were carried to the halls by Master Windu, like a blushing bride.”

Obi-Wan groaned and rubbed at his throbbing temples. “Who told you that?”

“I hate to say it Master, but the whole Temple knows. Some Padawan got a hold of the video feed and it made its way through the ranks.”

Sweet Force gods, this whole situation was certainly going to be an exercise in humility. It would not be the Jedi way to hunt this young one down and commit Padawanicide, though it was tempting. It was no wonder the Jedi passing by were giving them curious looks and giggling.

Obi-Wan had a sudden urge to be alone in his quarters, away from prying eyes. He steeled himself and stood up, willing the blood to return to his head. His vision went starry, but thankfully returned in a moment. Anakin caught his arm and steadied him, and Obi-Wan felt a warm stream of energy pass into him. It felt wonderful. His former padawan, though frustrating, was still a remarkable young man.

“Thank you,” he said softly.

Anakin looked down and flushed. “Come on Master, let’s get you back to your rooms.” He accepted Anakin’s steadying arm around his shoulder for the rest of the way back.

Once they arrived, he flopped down on the small couch, somehow ready to sleep again. It was dark and cool in his quarters, and smelled like home. Someone had dusted and put his things away, not that he was ever that untidy.

Anakin stood over him as he lay on the couch. “Master, I’m supposed to make you eat lunch.”

He scrubbed wearily at his beard. “I’m far too tired. Later, Anakin.” His eyes felt so heavy and he’d finally caught his breath.

“They said you’d say that, so I’m supposed to make you drink this,” Anakin said, walking over to the cold storage and pulling something out. It was that horrible chalky supplement. “If you don’t, I have to tell Master Che, and I really, really don’t want to.”

Obi-Wan sighed and accepted it, bolting it down with disgust. He’d been forced to drink that swill as a Padawan after being ill or after particularly difficult missions. He’d rather drink emulsified clay.

As he drank, Anakin looked down at his comm. “I have to go, but Master Vos will be here in an hour or so. You’re just going to rest, right?”

Nodding, Obi-Wan handed Anakin the empty container and lay back on the couch. He didn’t say anything as Anakin helped him remove his boots.

Obi-Wan woke a while later to a knocking outside his door. It was substantially later than 1200, but Quin was always infuriatingly tardy. Secondly, why didn’t Vos just use the button? He toddled over towards the door.

“Quinlan Vos, if you use your lightsaber on my door I will feed you in pieces to that odiferous hutt.”

He opened the door a found a grinning Vos, arms full of various items and a rucksack over one shoulder. One arm held a particularly large bottle of Correlian whiskey. Hmm, Master Che hadn’t said anything about abstaining from that.

“Oh hi, Obi. Are you still mad about that Cad Bane thing?” Quin cocked his head, some of his black braids hanging in his face.

Obi-Wan noted that Quin was dressed now in his usual nearly sleeveless robes, and that his biceps looked particularly shapely. He imagined running his hands, or his tongue down the smooth surface. Blast! Where had that thought come from? He shook his head a little, trying to clear it and make sure that his shields were up. Vos definitely looked better than he had the last time Obi-Wan had seen him, more his lively self.

“Of course not. I’d almost forgotten about the whole thing.” He showed Quinlan his room which happened to be Anakin’s old one, and he plopped his rucksack on the bed and brought his other items to the kitchen.

“I brought you those spicy red noodles that you like, and this.” He pointed to the bottle of whiskey. “It’ll be like old times.”

Obi-Wan smiled, in spite of himself. They’d had some good times, back when they were more than friends. He couldn’t pinpoint when it had ended, sometime around when he’d become a Councilor. He thought back on what Vos had said before; did he really think that he was too good for him? Probably. He would need to meditate on that.

Quin grinned back. “Now plop your bony ass down on the couch while I heat us up some of this.”

After a moment, he brought them both bowls of steaming noodles covered in fragrant sauce. After the nutritious gruel he’d had for the past few days, it was like heaven. He realized he was groaning with pleasure.

Quin smacked his shoulder. “Haven’t heard you make those noises in a while. Didn’t even think you remembered how,” he said, raising his eyebrows suggestively.

Obi-Wan coughed a little, choking on some sauce, and set the bowl down. All the blood rushed into his face. He suddenly felt very full and very hot, which made it a good time to change the subject.

He pulled at the collar of his robes, loosening them. “Ah, I think I’ve had enough for now. How is Master Tholme?”

Quin laughed and took the bowl from him, putting it away. “Master Tholme is well, the wily old bastard. He worries about you and wants to bake you cookies.”

Obi-Wan was glad for this change in topic. Though he came off as being gruff and terrifying, Master Tholme had always been fond of Obi-Wan and glad of his friendship with Quinlan and always a bit critical of Qui-Gon’s treatment of his Padawan. He was a good man, and he did make good cookies.

“That would be nice. Why don’t you pour us some of that whiskey?” Obi-Wan was going to need it to get through this first night. Just a little wouldn’t hurt any.

Quin complied, and handed him a mug. He took a sip and it was so good, like fire and honey. How he’d missed this. Contented, he leaned back against the couch.

“Aren’t you going to miss being in your own rooms?” Obi-Wan wondered. He’d never been so happy to be back in his own.

Quin looked at him quizzically. “Rooms? I don’t have any.”

“Really? How do you not?”

“Eh, I gave them to Aayala and never got ones of my own. I’m usually away anyways.” He scratched his head a little. “I stay there sometimes, or with whoever will have me, if you know what I mean,” he said, giving Obi-Wan a knowing grin.

It dawned on him that Quin was probably just as exhausted as he was and just as lost. It was sad that he had no real home or place to go. At least he had his rooms, Anakin and Ahsoka, his small belongings, and all the odd friends he’d picked up along the way. He guessed that Quin had some of these, he had Aayala, but something about it made him feel terrible, liked he’d abandoned his once close friend.

Tiredness crept over him again, and despite his heavy thoughts, it was getting hard to keep his eyes open. Quin beckoned him to come closer on the couch.

“Come here Obi. You look like you need some comforting.”

Obi-Wan froze for a moment, a little bit uneasy. Part of him softened at the use of that little name; Quin was the only one he’d ever let use it. How long had it been since someone had offered him this kind of gentle affection? He couldn’t say.

Quin smiled at him softly, opening up his arms. “You little prickle-plant, come here. Stop thinking. Everything’s going to be fine.”

Obi-Wan gave in and leaned up against him, snuggled against his strong chest. He quickly fell asleep, utterly at peace for once in a long while.

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan woke to a low rumbling sound, like a large cat purring. The room was dark, and by smell and feel he knew himself to be home. His relationship with the Force had been tenuous lately; he could still feel it’s comforting presence, but his senses were off. Vokara had said this was from his Force exhaustion. It was disquieting, a void that couldn’t quite be filled.

With excruciating slowness, his foggy mind realized he was draped over another person, who was humming softly. They were warm, and firm, and also felt like home. Ah, Vos. It was all returning to him. Shame, similar to nausea, stuck in the back of his throat. What was he doing?

Obi-Wan sat up quickly, paused while the room spun, then stood up. “Quinlan, oh. I must have had a moment of weakness. I apologize for falling asleep on top of you. You must be uncomfortable.” He cringed at the wet spot on Vos’s robes where he had been drooling.

“A moment of weakness? How about 4 hours of weakness. You needed the rest and I don’t mind being your pillow.” He grinned and beckoned at him to come back.

“I, I should go to my bed,” Obi-Wan said, bewildered. He shouldn’t be doing this. Not again. He didn’t have the time to have this happen again. He was prone to attachment, it would be his downfall, perhaps.

“Obi…” Quinlan turned his head and met his eyes like he was going to say something more, but didn’t. “Suit yourself. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Obi-Wan turned and walked away, shaking with something more than fatigue. He resisted the urge to call back to him, or turn and look at him with longing. He’d set this aside once, and he’d do it again. He tried not to focus on the warmth of his friend’s eyes, his dear face, his easy care. He tried not to remember what they once had, and that coming back to it would be as easy as breathing.

Feeling a little lost, he collapsed on his bed and immediately fell asleep. At least his illness prevented the usual nightly churning rumination of thoughts. An unfathomable amount of time passed, and he awoke to a very good smell, like the hot cakes they used to have on special occasions as Padawans. For the first time in a while, he felt his stomach grumble and recognized a feeling he hadn’t experienced in a long time, hunger. He acknowledged that even for a Jedi, that wasn’t normal.

Obi-Wan sat up on the side of the bed and steadied himself, while studying his own hands. They looked bony and veiny and rough, and he almost didn’t recognize them. This thought was interrupted by Vos bellowing at him through the door.

“Now that your hibernation is over, come out here and have breakfast.”

He huffed a little, “Yes, I’m coming.” Obi-Wan threw on a sleeping robe and went to the ‘fresher. He tried not to spend much time looking at the hollow-eyed creature in the mirror as he cleaned his teeth and splashed some water on his face.

When he emerged, he found Vos wearing only loose pants and an under tunic, fussing with some food in the kitchen, whistling softly. Obi-Wan tried to ignore the strong, handsome lines of his neck and chest, clearly visible from the deep V of the tunic. He cleared his throat.

“Hey there, Nobes, take a seat. I’m supposed to make you drink this,” Quin said, holding up a mug of that terrible drink. “And make you take these tablets. If you do that, you can have hot cakes.”

Obi-Wan shook his head and sat down at the little table. He eyed the collection of horror in front of him, trying to will it away.

“Come on, you have to do it or Vokara will sic her minions on us. It won’t be pretty.”

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes. “Yes, Master.” He gulped the drink down in two swallows and took the tablets with some water.

“ Well, I’d have been a hell of a better Master than Qui-Gon.”

Obi-Wan shook his head at him in response. He wasn’t quite ready for that topic of conversation. Quinlan had been, well, not fond of Qui-Gon, though he’d never admonished Obi-Wan for his grief.

Vos set the plate of food in front of him. “You’re almost as stubborn as that old goat, but you’re way better looking. You were pretty adorable sleeping in there, all curled up like you did in the Crèche. I had half a mind to climb into bed with you and snuggle.”

“Quinlan, really?” He tried to look annoyed, but actually, that would have been pleasant.

“Hey, I’d never take advantage of you in your weakened state.” He reached over to grab his own plate and smirked at Obi-Wan. “Don’t give me that look. Ok, I probably would.”

“Did you really come in and look at me?”

Vos lost his playful smile. “Yeah. I’m supposed to be looking after you. Had to make sure you hadn’t died in there.”

“I hope you’d be able to feel it if I had died.”

Quin squeezed his shoulder, his hand strong and calloused. “I dunno, you kinda look and feel like you died already.”

“Quinlan Vos, what a horrid thing to say. I need a shower, and then I’ll look delightful as always.”

Quin grinned and took his own already empty plate away. Obi-Wan looked down at his, which was maybe a third of the way gone and knew he was done for now. His belly felt like it was full of molten lead. Well, that was to be expected. He never really ate breakfast. Lots of people didn’t, it wasn’t that unusual. Still, he was glad Quin didn’t comment.

“Thank you for cooking. You didn’t have to.”

“I don’t mind. Anyway, I supposed to be watching out for you, Master Che said so. With her holding all the power, I’m going to take my job seriously. And between you and me, I like looking at you,” Quinlan said, winking.

Obi-Wan tried not to smile. “As you wish. I’m taking a bath.” He felt gritty and he knew his hair was a sight, somehow both greasy and standing on end. Some tiny part of him wanted to look as good as he could. He tried to push that down deep inside.

“Do you need help?”

“Quinlan, are you so desperate to see me naked? I think I’ll be fine.”

Quin’s usual smirk turned to an uncharacteristic look of worry. “I meant it seriously. You aren’t um, always the steadiest right now. I could try to avert my eyes.”

“You’re not capable of that. Quin, I’ll be fine.”

Vos looked uncertain. “You know where I am.”

Obi-Wan was grateful that he’d never been pressured to give up his Master/Padawan suite. He shouldn’t love the luxury of it, but he did. Mainly because it was one of the older units and the ‘fresher had a bath tub. There weren’t enough Master/Padawan pairs anymore to fill even half of the suites anymore. That thought brought him back to the war that he should be fighting in, not wallowing in a tub. Stars wept, he was so tired.

On to one thing he dreaded right now, looking in the mirror. It’s not that he was a vain man, well, maybe he was a little vain, but at least he realized it and meditated on it occasionally. Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to look at his face and was appalled by what he saw looking back. His hair was a fright, but that was easily fixable. What wasn’t was the hollows in his cheeks and eyes, his pallor. No wonder people looked on him in pity.

Well, nothing could be done about that now. He turned on the tap and filled the bathtub with decadently hot water, then climbed in. It felt ridiculously good, nothing that you could ever get on a star cruiser.

Everything went quite well until it was time to get out. Obi-Wan realized that all the blood had pooled in his legs. He focused inwards, trying to use the Force to aid his circulation, but it wasn’t having it. Blast. He tried to push himself out of the tub, but everything went black every time. The last time he tried, he thought without hyperbole that he could possibly be dying. His last thought would be that he almost regretted taking off that damn heart monitor for his bath.

He heard a soft shuffling outside the door and knew Quinlan was nearby. He’d probably felt his distress, hell, probably half the Temple had.

“Obi, do you need some help in there? I’m going to open the door.”

Obi-Wan tried to call out and instead made a sound like a Wookie in childbirth, but that was probably insulting to the Wookie. He thought he might be sick.

Quinlan walked through the door and approached him gently, like one would with an injured wild animal or strange child.

“Can’t move. Too hot. Don’t look,” was all Obi-Wan could make out. He closed his eyes tight and tried to pretend this wasn’t happening.

“All right,” said Vos in a soft voice, standing above him. “This time I’m not looking. I’m going to get you out.”

He felt strong arms grab him under the armpits and hoist him out of the bath, then was held safe and steady against Quin as he dried him off and got him into bed as gently as one would an infant. All he could think of was that he must be getting Quin wet.

“Should I get help? I’m a little worried here. I still mean what I said earlier about you looking like death.”

Obi-Wan felt the bed dip as Vos sat beside him and started to dry his hair. Obi-Wan was already recovering a little, the nausea was receding and the room had stopped spinning. “Handsome death, of course. No, I just need to lie down a minute is all.”

“I’m going to stay here with you, whether you like it or not.”

He almost groaned aloud at the feeling of Quin’s hands on his hair as he dried it. “I suppose that’s acceptable. But don’t you try anything.” He was a little ashamed, but getting helped out of the bath by an ex-lover was far better than being carried about by Mace Windu.

Quin squeezed his hand. “Fine. This time I won’t. Can’t make any promises about the next.”

Quinlan scooted over so he was sitting cross-legged on the bed next to Obi-Wan. He’d set the towel down and started massage his scalp with strong fingers. Obi-Wan instinctively tensed; he’d told himself he wasn’t going to do this again. True, Anakin was no longer his Padawan, but there was Ahsoka, and he was a leader of the Order and needed to set a good example. Part of him desperately craved unconditional love and comfort, the part he rarely ever had let anyone see.

Quinlan paused, and slowly pulled his hands away. “You never used to flinch from me. What happened between us?”

“I don’t know. We grew apart I suppose.”

Laying here beside Quin was a safe place for introspection. Anakin had needed more and more of his support and guidance, and he was made Councilor, and he had tried to morph himself into the mold of what he thought the perfect Jedi was. That way, no one would see his faults, not even himself. No one would notice his hypocrisy, anger, impatience, impulsivity, and love.

Maybe he was wrong? His mind didn’t seem to be working quite clearly anyway. The Force seemed calm and warm around them, even encouraging maybe. Who could say. He wiggled himself closer to Quin and put his hand on his thigh.

Quin looked over at him, face unguarded and soft. “It doesn’t have to be that way, you know. You’re an expert at hiding emotion, Obi, but you forget how well I know you. I can see you’re hurting and not just physically.”

Obi-Wan didn’t say anything, but let out a ragged sigh. Quin continued. “Let me in. Let me help you. Any way you want it. Just think about it.”

“All right. I will.” He closed his eyes, sinking into the pillow. All these strange emotions were exhausting.

Quin grinned again, his old levity had returned. “Good. Now why don’t you rest a little and I’ll watch over you. I promise I won’t try anything, but that doesn’t mean I won’t think about it.”

When he woke up later, Quin was gone. Obi-Wan wandered out of his bedroom and found him doing a shirtless kata on the rug, muscles in his back contracting pleasantly. Obi-Wan felt his face grow warm.

“Hey Obes, a made you a snack and have your drink ready. I’m going to go to the salles for a bit. You need anything?” He asked, towel around his neck.

Obi-Wan averted his eyes. “Uh, no. I’ll just read for a while.”
“I got some holovids you could watch” Quin said, winking.

“Quinlan Vos. I cannot imagine that I’d have any desire to watch that kind of vid.”

“I dunno old man, you might like it. Anyway, I’m off. Com me if you need anything. And no baths.” Quin pointed at him and gave him a stern look, then walked out the door.

Obi-Wan had no appetite, but drank the foul protein beverage and picked at the fruit and nuts Quinlan had set out for him. He was utterly desperate for tea and horrified when he opened the cupboards to see that his stash was gone and there was only some bland herbal mix. It was a travesty.

He was idly reading a holobook when he heard the door chime and then open. Vokara Che walked in, and he stood up to greet her. She looked worn as always.

“Master Che, how lovely to see you. Would you like anything? Water, tea- we only have herbal and it tastes of lawn clippings… whiskey? It’s Vos’s, of course.”

He at least got an eyebrow raise out of her for that one. “As tempting as that sounds, no. Sit back down.”

“Vokara, I didn’t think that you made house calls? Don’t you have a minion you could send?”

“And miss out on seeing my most infamous patient? Never. Truthfully, it’s good to leave sometimes,” she said, sitting beside him on the sofa.

Obi-Wan worried for her; the war was taking as much if not more out of their healers than it did from their generals. There simply weren’t enough of them. He was of a mind to send her an extra-large box of Chandrillian chocolates in the next few weeks.

“Where’s Vos?” She asked.

“In the salles, I believe. He has his com with him,” Obi-Wan said, a little wary of facing her wrath.

“Don’t look so worried. The two of you aren’t prisoners.” She took out her ultrasound scanner and looked at his heart, then drew a blood sample. “Good. Things look like they’re improving. You’ve had a few irregularities on your monitor, but nothing serious. Have Vos take you for a few walks here and there. Not too far.”

Obi-Wan chuckled a little at the idea. “Like his prized pet.”

“I’m quite certain that he doesn’t mind.” She got up and took her items with her. Obi-Wan wasn’t sure but he thought he may have seen her wink.

The next few days passed uneventfully. He dutifully took his medicines and drank the drink, tried to eat and generally behave. He and Quin talked, but not about what they should have talked about, mainly just pointless banter. He started to get antsy, itching to do something, yet his body was still not cooperating, impossibly weak. It was getting to be insufferable.

“Why don’t we go out to the gardens?” Obi-Wan had asked one morning.

Quin grinned back at him, impossibly handsome, braids all caught in a band on the back of his head. “I thought you’d never ask. We could go hide in the bushes and have a kiss and cuddle like we used to.”

“Only if you behave,” Obi-Wan said, smacking him in the shoulder.

They slowly made their way out of the Temple to the grounds. Obi-Wan was getting stronger, little by little, but was still weak as a Loth kitten. They found the spot they used to frequent as Padawans, out in some trees beyond the little river. No one was in the gardens right now, there was just the low drone of insects and the constant hum of the city planet, muted by the high walls.

They sat together between two trees and Obi-Wan caught his breath. He lay down on his back and looked up at the sky, wondering how Cody and the 212th were doing without him. Were they safe? Of course, they weren’t.

Quin scooted over and lay down beside him in the plush grass. “I can pretty much see your brain working, Obi. Relax a little, enjoy the sun. What are you so worried about?”

“My men, Anakin, the war. We’re losing so many Jedi. Aren’t you worried?”

Quin gave him a thoughtful look. “Of course, but it’s out of my control right now. The whole thing is. The war, everything. You have to get stronger before you can be helpful. You can’t be effective when you can’t even go out to the gardens without wheezing like an old man.”

“Hmm Quin, when did you get so wise?”

“I’ve always been this way. You’ve just had your head too far up your ass to notice. Not that I blame you, you have a very fine ass.”

“Quinlan Vos, you are a menace.” Obi-Wan said, the warmth of his voice belying his words.

“Yup, but I’m your favorite menace. Remember when we used to sneak out here? Had our first kiss behind that tree”

“It was terrible.”

Quin squeezed his hand in affectionate solidarity. “Yes, it was. Neither of us knew what we were doing.”

“No. Remember Tholme and Qui-Gon giving us ‘the talk’? It was the most awkward moment in all of recorded history,” Obi-Wan said, shuddering at the memory.

He smiled and rolled towards Quin. It was so pleasant, here in the sun, birds flying about, flowers blooming, that he almost felt drunk. Quin’s strong features were so dear, and he had the urge to reach over and feel how warm his skin was, trace his finger over the golden tattoo on his face, feel the softness of his lips.

He was definitely projecting heavily as Quin gave him a knowing smile and rolled towards him, cupping his face in his hands. Obi-Wan felt the blood rush to his face. He knew he wanted this, who was he kidding? They probably should talk about things more but…

That thought stopped when Quin kissed him. It was everything he expected and remembered and wanted. He threw his arm around Quin’s neck, running his hands down his strong back. His heart started to race and…

They were interrupted by a loud alarm coming from Obi-Wan’s wrist monitor and the sound of his com beeping. The Sith-damned heart monitor. A tenuous voice emerged from his com.

“Master, um, Kenobi are you all right? Your heart rate is way too fast. Take some deep breaths and see if it comes down.

Quin started giggling in an unbecoming and uncontrollable fashion, tears in his eyes. Obi-Wan glared at him, but took a few slow deep breaths and tried to think about something wholly unappealing, like Masters Yoda, Poof, and Rancisis in a hot tub naked.

“That’s better. Take it easy the rest of the day. If it happens again, you’ll have to come to the Halls,” the tinny voice replied.

He lay there for a while longer while Quin regained his composure, and they returned back to his quarters even slower than the way there. Every time Vos looked at him he dissolved into giggles. Maybe this time away wouldn’t be so bad? At least he had his old partner in crime. Why had he just walked away from their relationship? Was it really worth it?

They got back and plopped back down on the couch about to discuss dinner, when there was a disturbance in the Force. Anakin stormed into his quarters, a thunder cloud of anxiety and worry. He looked utterly anguished.

“Master! And Master Vos! Padme, um I mean Senator Amidala is in trouble and the Senate and Council can’t know and I don’t know what to do.”

Ahsoka trailed behind him silently, looking apprehensive and lost, and passing Obi-Wan nervous, unhappy looks. Anakin’s relationship with the Senator was the most poorly kept secret between them, and they desperately needed to talk about it, but this wasn’t the time or place. Obi-Wan sighed heavily. He knew this peace and quiet couldn’t last long.

Chapter Text

Quinlan Vos appeared to be irate, but then most beings were either angry or terrified upon witnessing one of Anakin’s rampages. He was glaring at the frantic Anakin, arms menacingly crossed around his broad chest, eyes narrowed.

“Skywalker. Calm the fuck down and sit the fuck down. Use that tiny thing you call a brain for one second and realize that your former Master is ill, and you’re stressing him out.”

Anakin, startled out of his state of panic, obeyed and sat on the couch beside Obi-Wan.

“Quin, it’s all right…” Obi-Wan started.

“No, it’s not. I know you love him and that’s fine, but he’s a big boy now. Braid’s cut and everything. He has to realize that you can’t drop everything to give him what he needs with no concern for your own well-being,” Quin said, smoothing down his braids.

Anakin studied his hands, looking contrite. “I’m sorry Master, he’s right. I, I’m just really worried.”

“Well, you’re here, and we’re listening. So, tell us what the problem is,” Quin said gruffly, pulling up a chair and sitting down. He beckoned to a silent, worried Ahsoka to come join them.

“Eritaé commed me this morning, and sounded really worried,” Anakin explained.

“Eritaé?” Vos asked.

“She’s, um, one of Senator Amidala’s handmaidens or really body guards. There’s a few of them.”

Quin grinned, seemingly back to his old easy-going self. “Hmm, sounds hot. Go on.”

“They’re all really pretty,” Ahsoka interjected, then covered her mouth, looking a little sheepish.

Anakin cleared his throat. “Anyway, she commed me and said that Padme, uh Senator Amidala, and Senator Chuchi were doing an undercover investigation at some club. They thought the some of the other Senators were involved in some kind of sex-slavery ring. They went out last night and they haven’t come home.”

“Just call her by her name Anakin, we all know you’re an item.” Quin said bluntly.

Anakin turned the color of Nabooian plum wine while making an unbecoming choking sound, and Ahsoka grinned excitedly, holding back some nervous giggles. Obi-Wan shook his head and took a few calming breaths, hoping the fluttering pressure in his chest would calm down. The monitor started to chirp a little, and he covered it with his hand.

“Why didn’t she go to the Council and ask for help or go to you?” Obi-Wan asked, though he thought he knew the answer. Plus, this was Senator Amidala they were talking about, and if anything, she was bold.

“She thought I was still away, and she did ask the Council. They said they didn’t have the time or personnel to investigate unfounded claims while the Republic was at war. They said they’d look into it later, but you know how she is!”

“We tried contacting Senator Amidala ourselves, but she didn’t answer,” Ahsoka said.

“Do you know where they went?” Obi-Wan asked.

“Eritae said it was some fancy place called ‘The Shining Star’, a companions’ club in the upper levels. Master, it’s been over twelve hours since anyone has heard from them.”

“Anakin, you know Padme, she’s strong and can generally defend herself. She may just be occupied or not in a place she can comm you. Can you sense her?”

“I’m too worried! I don’t really feel anything,” he said, as he got up and started to pace.

“Skywalker. Stop it. You’re making us all agitated. Sit back down. I’ll help you go look for her. And you,” Quin said, pointing at Obi-Wan, “you aren’t going to have anything to do with this. It’s non-negotiable, Obi.” He said, with obvious affection.

Ahsoka looked rapidly between Quinlan and Obi-Wan and tried to hold back her grin. Obi-Wan sighed heavily. “I could just sit in the speeder and be look-out or something else that’s not terribly taxing.

“No!” said the three of them at once. Ahsoka seemed to have startled herself with her vehemence. Obi-Wan hated to think that he still looked as terrible as everyone had said.

“Tano will stay here with you to make sure you’re all right, while Skywalker and I go investigate.”

Ahsoka looked a little peeved, but thankfully didn’t complain. Obi-Wan didn’t blame her. He enjoyed her company, but imagined things would be a bit dull for her around his quarters. It was rare that he ever saw her sitting still.

“You’ll have to go undercover. You can’t go looking like that,” Obi-Wan said. Quinlan and Anakin were both dressed in their customary robes. Quin’s face wasn’t plastered all over the holoweb, but Anakin’s was.

“You’re right Master. I’ll go run to my rooms and get clothes. I’ll be right back,” Anakin said, running off.

“I think I have some old things of Qui-Gon’s that you could wear, Quin,” Obi-Wan said.

Quin raised a brow at that, but followed him into his bedroom, shutting the door behind them. Obi-Wan rummaged through his closet, finding a pair of fitted dark grey trousers and a black shimmer-silk shirt.

Quin leaned against the wall, watching him. “Your Padawan is a shit-magnet. Damn, I was lucky with Aayla.”

“Stop, he tries very hard, and means well. He always does the right thing in the end, and he’s saved me more times than I care to admit.”

Quin gave him a warm smile, and pulled Obi-Wan against him, into the welcome cradle of his strong arms. “Well then, sweet face, I can’t entirely dislike him.”

“Quin, you’re wrinkling the clothes,” Obi-Wan said, despite enjoying the embrace thoroughly. He wiggled away and pushed the garments out towards Quinlan.

Quin didn’t take them, as he seemed to be distracted by something in the closet. He reached in and pulled out a pair of very tight synth-leather pants that Obi-Wan had forgotten he’d even owned.

“I remember these,” Quin said, grinning. He ran a reverent hand down them. “If we ever have to go undercover together, you should wear these.”

Obi-Wan snatched them away from him. “Quin, don’t be ridiculous. Those won’t fit. I was 20 when I last wore them.”

“What, do you think you grew into some hulking rancor after that?” Quin said, tenderly brushing the hair off his forehead. “You’re smaller than that right now anyway” Quin said, giving him a soft, worried look while rubbing his thumb over Obi-Wan’s cheekbone.

Obi-Wan melted a little. He wanted to lean against him and ignore the world, ignore all the current calamity. Unfortunately, with a rampaging Anakin about, it wasn’t an option. “That, that’s not true.”

Quin moved his hands down to his hips, cupping them in his palms. “Do you think I don’t remember the feel of you? The weight of you in my arms?”

Obi-Wan huffed fondly. “I’m not some fragile creature Quin.”

“No, not usually. But you are right now.”

Obi-Wan gave in and leaned against him, letting Quin support him for a moment. Quin ran his hands along his spine gently. He felt so solid and strong, and Obi-Wan worried that if this progressed, that Quin would no longer find his weakened self very attractive.

Unfortunately, this weighty moment was interrupted by the sound of Anakin barging back into his quarters. “Well, I guess that’s my clue to get moving,” Quin said, reaching down and patting Obi-Wan on his posterior.

Obi-Wan cuffed Quin in the shoulder as retaliation, and he changed into the borrowed attire. Quin was a little shorter than Qui-Gon, but also a little broader through the shoulders and chest. The clothes were quite tight and unreasonably attractive, causing Obi-Wan’s face to go quite warm. They left Obi-Wan’s bedroom to face the coming storm.

Anakin also looked dangerously handsome in his civilian attire. He’d slicked his hair back and looked reasonably unrecognizable. Quin approached him. “Skywalker. You’ll be my sweet little thing and I’m the wealthy spice runner.”

“Why do I have to be the escort?” Anakin asked, looking disgruntled.

“Because you’re younger and prettier and these assholes thrive on stereotypes. No more talking. From here on out, I lead.” Quin headed towards the door, pulling Anakin in tow. “Let’s go, sweet cheeks.”

Ahoska was studying the whole thing from her seat on the couch and dissolved into a fit of giggles. Sighing, Obi-Wan watched the door shut behind them, then sat down on the opposite end of the couch. Now composed, Ahsoka gave Obi-Wan a knowing look.

“I didn’t know you and Master Vos are…”

“We were good friends Ahsoka. We were Padawans together, "Obi-Wan said.

She toyed with her beaded ‘braid’ a little. “That seems kinda funny I guess. People always say that master Vos is so…”

“So, what?”

Ahsoka looked a little worried now, like she’d brought up a topic she should have never broached. “Well, you just don’t seem like two people who would like each other. He’s kind of a rule breaker, isn’t he?”

“I may not be as stuffy as you think I am, little one. I was young and foolish once, and no one is perfect.”

“But you’re such a good Jedi, Master! All the Padawans look up to you. They think you’re the best!!” Ahsoka said, a little indignant.

He smiled at her fondly and patted her shoulder. “If I were wise, I would not be where I am right now. We all make mistakes, which we have to learn from.”

“Oh! Master said that I needed to make you dinner and make you take some medicine,” Ahsoka said, and walked into the galley kitchen to poke around.

Obi-Wan groaned internally. “Can you cook, little one, or should we go to the commissary?”

Ahsoka nodded. “Yup, I can cook. Skyguy taught me how. He said you couldn’t cook to save your life.”

Gods, he loved Ahsoka’s frank honesty. “Well, I can’t be perfect at everything, can I?” Obi-Wan asked, smiling fondly as Ahsoka shrugged. He should really spend more time with his Grandpadawan.

They passed a quiet evening, eating together while Ahsoka quizzed him on his theories about the use of Jar’Kai. Obi-Wan looked forward to the next time they could spar together. In a few years, she would be a formidable opponent.

After dinner, Obi-Wan moved to the couch to read while Ahsoka worked on her studies. They didn’t hear anything from the boys, but weren’t too worried at this point. At some point, Obi-Wan fell asleep.

Lost in dreamless oblivion, he was awoken from the deepest depths of slumber by a familiar person shaking his shoulder. Ugh, it couldn’t be morning. What had been happening?

“Go away, Master. It can’t possibly be time to get up,” he mumbled into the arm he must have fallen asleep on, starting to drift off again.

“Um, Master Obi-Wan, it’s me. Ahsoka. Something’s happening.” That was definitely not Qui-Gon’s voice.

Coming back to reality, Obi-Wan felt like he needed a pry bar to get his eyes open, but he managed. He blinked a few times, blearily taking in Ahsoka’s worried face. “Ah, Ahsoka. I’m sorry. I was a little disoriented.”

She still looked terribly concerned. “Are you feeling ok, Master?”

Obi-Wan sat up and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Yes, little one, just fatigued. What seems to be the problem?”

“Your com went off. I couldn’t really make out any words.” She walked over and handed it to him, and they both stared at it intently. “Skyguy feels really worried, when I get a glimpse of him through our bond.”

Obi-Wan too could get a hint of anxiety from Anakin, though very distant. He frowned.

The com went off again, and they heard a male voice shouting, followed by a muffled kerfuffle, then shrill female screams. Everything sounded far away, like the com unit was out of reach. Obi-Wan tried to contact Quinlan, but it seemed his com was turned off. Ahsoka got nothing from Anakin, who had sent the last worrisome message.

“Can you sense Master Vos?” Ahsoka asked.

“No, but he is a master at shielding.” He also didn’t want to admit that his Force abilities were quite off right now.

“What should we do?”

Blast, all his friends were off planet and he was not going to wake up Mace Windu for this. “We’ll have to go look for them and see what nonsense they’ve gotten themselves into.”

“You’re not supposed to leave, Master!! Skyguy told me that you absolutely were not allowed to help. I can go by myself! I think Bariss is on planet too! She could go with me.”

“Little one, there’s no way I can let you go there alone at this time of night. Even with Bariss, it wouldn’t be safe. Not with the clientele that frequent these establishments.”

“But we’re Jedi!”

“There are other ways to be cunning other than Force use. It simply can’t happen. We’ll go together and you can help me,” Obi-Wan said, getting up and retrieving his ‘saber.

“Should we go undercover?”

“No, Ahsoka. We’ll go as Jedi. There’s no time for that anymore.”

“Won’t the council be mad if they find out?”

“Likely, but leave them to me.” Ahsoka seemed satisfied with that answer. She was still at the stage where her Master, and her Grandmaster, could do no wrong and solve any problem.

Together they walked out to the hangers to get a speeder. No one was really around except for maintenance droids. Most Jedi with the authority to take them were off planet, and the only other people who left the Temple at this hour were naughty Padawans. Not that he’d ever been one of those, he thought, smiling to himself. He felt his breath catch in his chest.

He hated to admit it, but the brisk walk had left him breathless. He could feel his heart rate climbing, and Ahsoka was looking at him with unabashed worry. He leaned against the speeder to try to catch his breath.


“Give me a moment, Ahsoka, I’ll be all right,” he sputtered. The tight sensation in his chest was growing, and he started to feel a strange sense of doom. He wasn’t sure if it was for himself or his errant Padawan and friend. At this moment, the comlink went off again, with more muffled yelling and screaming.

He slumped down to the ground, still supported by the speeder, sense of hearing going in and out in waves. He heard an alarm going off and Ahsoka yelling. Doom gave way to calm and everything went black and peaceful.

When Obi-Wan woke some time later, he was back in the halls. He could smell the sweet, sickly presence of bacta on his person. Peaking his eyes open, he saw the room was a bit crowded. Present were Anakin, Quinlan, Ahsoka and Master Che. Some looked more displeased than others.

“Hello. You all seem to be having a party in my honor,” he said grimly, voice hoarse and dry.

“We almost had your funeral,” said Master Windu, who happened to walk into the room to join the throng. Anakin, Quinlan, and Ahsoka all looked on with sheepish guilt.

“Well, that sounds cheerful. How long have I been here?”

“Three days,” said Master Che, raising the head of his bed so he could sit a little. “Your heart stopped twice and any recovery in function that you had is gone. You’re only still alive by the combined strength of our stubborn wills.”

“How fortunate,” Obi-Wan said. The room was full of thick, awkward silence.

“I know we’ve discussed this already, but I still can’t seem to comprehend why the three of you acted with such blatant disregard for his welfare as well as for your own. Mace stated.

“Someone was supposed to be watching him,” Anakin said, looking at Ahsoka.

“Hey, I was watching him. We were afraid you were in trouble! You commed us and all we could here was screaming and some kind of fight.”

Mace Windu looked done. “Enough. You are not blaming a child for this. She’s a brilliant girl, but she doesn’t quite have the mental fortitude to stand up to that one,” Mace said, serving Obi-Wan a pointed look.

Obi-Wan gave them a weak, two finger salute from his bed. His whole existence had dissolved into chaos.  "Are the Senators unharmed?"

Anakin hung his head. "Yeah, they were just in 'extended negotiations'.  They didn't need any help from us.  We may have started a brawl.  I dropped my com."

“Sometimes I think that the three of you have the combined common sense of a tooka. I’m not including Tano in that statement,” Mace said shaking his head in exasperation.

“Skywalker, I will meet with you privately at another time to discuss this. Tano, return to your course work. Vos, you will do exactly as Master Che says. Kenobi, I have no words for your level of self-neglect. The next time you will ask for help, you boneheaded fool. Master Che will give you your sentence as well,” Mace said, turning on his heel and leaving the room.

Master Che gave them all an exhausted, but mischievous grin. “All of you except Vos, out.” They complied, unwilling to face her wrath. She looked like she had descended into chaotic evil.

“Cleary the two of you have difficulty following explicitly clear instructions. You will now. Kenobi, if things get worse, you will die, or need a permanent electrical pacing device or a new cloned heart. Either of those things will put you into an early retirement from active duty. Do you understand?”

She was squeezing his hand tight enough to hurt, hopefully inadvertently. “Yes, Master Che,” he replied like a scolded youngling. This was all sounding incomprehensibly terrible.

“Not to worry, my silly children. I have a plan for you. Since you obviously cannot avoid nonsense on this planet, I’m sending you to another. Vos, you will accompany Kenobi to the vacation planet of Artesia. A crèchemate and associate of mine runs the recovery center for severely injured or ill Jedi, and she’ll be awaiting you there,” she said, and turned towards Quin.

“Vos, I have a mission for you there, which we’ll discuss later. You’ll be there under the pretense that you’re still recovering, which truthfully you are.”

Obi-Wan looked over at Quin. He’d been so fixated on his own struggles that he’d failed to notice that his friend was still a shade paler than usual and still drawn with dark-ringed eyes.

Vokara thankfully released Obi-Wan’s hand. “The Noorian flu virus is still active in your system, and could flare. I’m guessing that you still feel run down,” she said, looking at Quin.

“I guess,” Quin replied, in a noncommittal tone.

“Excellent!” Vokara said, maniacal smile back in place. “Once Kenobi recovers enough to travel, you’ll both be on your way. If I hear any word of your misbehavior, I will kill you both myself,” she said cheerfully.

Obi-Wan and Quin shared a worried look as she nearly skipped out the door. “I can’t take any more of this,” they heard her mutter softly. She continued to grumble under her breath as the door shut behind her. This was not good.

Chapter Text

“Master Vos, welcome. I told you that I had a mission for you.”

A few days had passed since the most recent debacle, but Quinlan was still apprehensive. Steeling himself, he entered the tiny closet of a room that served as Master Che’s office. The lady herself was sitting at a surprisingly messy desk, strewn with stacks of holopads and half-finished cups of caf. Her robes were slightly askew, and she was chewing on a stylus. The whole thing was pretty weird, but she gave him a welcoming smile and beckoned at him to come in.

Feeling unsure, he leaned against the door frame. “I should be scared, shouldn’t I.” He’d felt a similar apprehension falling from a waterfall as a Padawan.

She was still grinning at him, showing her sharp, white teeth. “Don’t be ridiculous, I’m not some kind of an ogre. Sit down. Would you like some caf?”

He hesitated by the chair being offered to him. “Now you’re being nice to me. I should be really scared.”

“Vos, just sit. This’ll be far easier than minding your ridiculous friend.”

He obeyed and plopped down in front of her, looking around the room, keeping his hands to himself. “Where is Obi, anyway? Is he hidden in here somewhere?”

She snorted. You couldn’t have hidden a tooka in this room. “No, I sent him back to his quarters to prepare for the journey.”

“Alone? He can get into trouble in seconds. If there’s no trouble around he’ll make some of his own.”

“I’m quite aware. He was accompanied by a Padawan healer, and I asked Skywalker to check on him in a little while.”

Quinlan frowned. If only that idiot boy had the same amount of common sense as he had Force abilities. “Not sure that will help, but ok. What do you want me to do?”

A dark look crossed her face, dimming her smile. “The Master healer at this facility was a crechemate of mine as I said, her name is Nima Bril. She is convinced that someone at her healing facility is feeding Jedi secrets to the Separatists; secrets about our numbers and facilities, healing abilities and the like.”

She picked up a holopad and handed it to him. “This has a description of the facility as well as a list of the patients and those who serve there. The patients at this facility are recovering from the worst injuries and are quite vulnerable. Easy prey, I suppose.”

“Does she have any idea who it is?”

“A few suspicions, but nothing solid. That will be your job, Vos. Figure out who the mole is. The Council will expect periodic reports on your progress.”

“That doesn’t sound too bad.”

“No, not for you. The harder task will be caring for your friend and making sure he rests.” Master Che reached across the desk and clasped his forearm with her wiry blue hand. “He is one of the best of the order and we need him. But he needs you. I’ve never felt the pull towards attachment myself, but I’ll turn a blind eye to it if it brings our General back whole. Do what you can Vos, we can’t stand to lose any more good Jedi.”

Vos tried not to grin. Well, well, Master Che the matchmaker. Master Che allowing him to ignore the Code. The war must really be taking a lot out of her, though that wasn’t a happy thought.

Maybe he should do her a favor and find her someone that would introduce her to the pleasures of attachment. Then again, that was probably pushing it too far. He had no idea what kind of lover she liked, anyway.

“Now go and behave, Vos. And take care of yourself,” she said sternly as he got up from the chair. He could have sworn she winked at him as he left.

Obi-Wan was sitting on his bed, beside an empty duffel that needed to be packed. He was trying not to process all the oddities of the past weeks and just be mindful of the present, like his old Master would have recommended. It was hard not to think of the future in one big jumbled panic, especially now, when he had no control over it.

These were heavy thoughts, but they were gladly interrupted by his former Padawan stomping through the door. He looked cowed and ashamed, his head hanging just a little. Obi-Wan hated seeing him like this, none of this was really his fault and the war was hard on him as well.

“Anakin, I’m happy to see you, dear one,” Obi-Wan said, as he got up and lightly touched Anakin shoulder, beckoning him to follow him to the kitchen. “Would you like tea? Or hot chocolate?” Obi-Wan wasn’t sure why he asked, when he knew what the answer would be.

“Chocolate please. But Master, should you be doing this? You’re supposed to rest.”

“I think I can stand to boil water, though don’t ask me to cook you anything.”

Anakin shuddered. “Never.” Anakin had learned at a very young age that if they wanted anything good to eat, they’d have to eat out or he’d have to cook it himself.

Obi-Wan shuffled around in the cabinet for a minute, trying to find the chocolate packets and his tea (non-stimulant, of course), not quite finding the one he wanted. He was startled by Anakin turning him around and pulling him into a tight hug. Squashed, he let out an undignified squawk, but then settled into it.

“Master, I’m sorry!! I made of mess of things… I wasn’t thinking.” Anakin was leaning heavily against his shoulder. He could feel his robes beginning to dampen from tears.

Anakin had his troubles with control of his emotions, but rarely did it come to tears. Obi-Wan rubbed his back and tried to project an aura of calming comfort. It was getting difficult as Anakin was resting a large portion of his not insignificant weight on him. For being so lanky he was oddly heavy. Maybe it was the weight of destiny.

Obi-Wan gently but firmly pushed him away. “Anakin, you’re going to knock us both over. Let go of me for a moment and let me get our drinks. We can sit on the couch and talk.”

Anakin looked sheepish. “Of course,” he said, clearing his throat and straightening out his robes.

Obi-Wan mixed the drinks, then brought them over to the couch, sitting beside Anakin. “Here you are. I’m here. I haven’t left you.” He knew it wasn’t really in keeping with the Code, but it’s what Anakin needed to hear.

Anakin let out a breath of relief. “You almost did! And it was my fault.” He set his mug down on the little table, a dark look crossing his face. “I didn’t think of anyone’s needs but my own. I wasn’t a good Jedi. I need to be better. And I, I rely too much on you.”

“Anakin, it wasn’t your fault, it was my own. My own hubris at failing to recognize that I too am fallible. I wasn’t a good Jedi either. And young one, I still want you to ask me for help.”

“You’re the best Jedi! So much better than those idiots on the Council. They make you do too much.”

Obi-Wan sighed. “Anakin…”

“Ok, so that wasn’t the best thing to say, but I value your opinion most. Please get well, Master. Will you comm me?”

“Of course, Anakin. You can always talk to me, you know.” He got up and tottered to the bedroom. “Now, I should get to packing. We leave tonight.”

Anakin followed him into his room to supervise, helping him pull out this and that. He thankfully didn’t say anything when Obi-Wan packed the leather pants, though he may have snickered a little.

As Anakin left, Ahsoka popped in for a minute. She too gave him a massive hug, or as massive as her skinny arms would allow. He wasn’t sure what to make of the amount of affection he’d been receiving lately. After she was done, she looked a little uncertain.

“Uh, sorry Master, I was just really happy to see you looking better. You looked so bad in the hanger. You weren’t moving and…”

Obi-Wan melted inside. “Don’t apologize. I’m sorry you had to see that, little one.”

She crossed her arms across her chest. “You need to come back healthy, Master. There’s a lot I want to learn from you. And Skyguy… He needs you.”

He shook his head softly. He was far too tired to lecture on the dangers of attachment and plus it was true. Maybe if they got through the war he’d worry about it more. Right now, there was just no time.

“Plus, who else is going to teach me Jar’kai?” Ahsoka said, grinning.

“Ahsoka, there are others who could….”

“No! I want to learn from you.” She took a step back and a deep breath. “Please get better, Master. You’re really important to us.”

Something in his heart melted a little. He hadn’t known Ahsoka thought of him other than as a stuffy old man.

She turned to leave to run off after her Master. “We took you for granted, Skyguy and I, but we’re not going to anymore. Please get well?”

Blast, how was it that a child was the voice of reason here? He’d better do as she asked. He finished packing and waited.

A few hours later, Obi-Wan was escorted to the waiting ship, which he bore with dutiful acceptance. Many of the Council Members were there to see him off, grinning maniacally. He hoped that sometime in the next thousand years it would be forgotten and that he wouldn’t be an enduring reminder of a Jedi’s fallibility.

He was at least glad that he didn’t have to stay in the medbay. There was a droid who would check on him and attend to him if necessary, and he did still have to wear the blasted monitor. Entering into the small passengers’ cabin, he set his holopad down on the miniature table with a thunk. It held all the instructions he was supposed to follow within it. There were two tiny bunks in the cabin, both large enough to make an ewok comfortably cozy.

As exhaustion seemed to be his constant companion of late, he set down his bag and laid out on one of the bunks, letting lassitude take him as the ship left orbit. Quin wasn’t with him in the cabin, but he was comforted by the warm feel of his presence on the ship. Likely he was assisting the pilot. Best to rest for a while, wasn’t that what everyone was telling him?

For the first time in a long while, Obi-Wan dreamed and it was not a good dream but a vivid one. He was surrounded by fire and smoke, leaving an acrid taste in his mouth. His lungs burned and eyes watered. He knew he was fighting with someone, but who? He felt devastated, lost, bereft, filled with overwhelming grief. He was screaming, as tears streamed down his face. The person, his aggressor, had his back turned towards him. It was a man, tall, with golden-brown hair. It could almost be…

He awoke gasping, forehead drenched in cold sweat, cheeks wet with more than just perspiration. The cabin was filled with the heavy cold of hyperspace, and he shivered and shook. As he tried to catch his breath, the cabin door opened, and the lights turned on dim. Quinlan walked in, the door closing behind him, and sat down beside him on the bed.

“Hey Ben, your little alarm was going off.” He reached down and touched his hand “Are you ok? Your hands are like ice.”

“Cold” was all he could muster, still overwhelmed.

“Yeah, I see that.” Quin took the blanket off the other bed and nudged him gently. “Move over a little.”

Quin managed to slot himself between the wall and Obi-Wan on the narrow cot, which only really worked because Obi-Wan was laying half on top of him. Given how cold he was, he didn’t mind. His heart warmed at the use of his little pet name from the creche; he hadn’t heard it in so long.

Quin put his arm around him, holding him against his chest. “Just focus on breathing for a minute. I got you.”

After a moment, he calmed, and relaxed against Quinlan’s warmth and the steady rhythm of his breaths. “What happened?” Quin asked.

“A dream is all. Just a dream.”

“Are you sure? Your dreams used to be, well…”

“Prophetic? Yes, I guess. My damned connection to the Unifying Force. But I haven’t had one of those in a long time, Quin. I think this was just the production of an overtired mind.”

“If you say so.” Quin didn’t sound convinced.

They lay there quietly for a moment, each seemingly lost in thought. “You can’t be comfortable like this,” Obi-Wan remarked. He himself was finally quite warm and cozy though.

“I’m fine. Sleep. Stop thinking,” Quin rumbled.

“I’m sorry; I treated you abysmally of late.”

“Ben, sweetheart, do you think I ever stopped loving you? Rest. Stop thinking. We’ll have plenty of time to talk while you heal.”

Quin must have placed a sleep suggestion upon him, because he woke up a few hours later feeling refreshed, and in essentially the same position they started in. It could not be comfortable for his living pillow.

“Are you all right? Have I smothered you?”

Quin slid out from beside him and went to sit on the other bed. Obi-Wan hadn’t noticed that he was wearing just his shorts. “Aside from being poked to death by your bony body I’m fine. I have a lot of incentive to fatten you up though.”

Obi-Wan smacked him with the pillow, studying him in the dim light. Quin didn’t look the best himself; Obi-Wan had been too distracted by his own woes to notice. He appeared to be down some of his own proper bulk, which worried him. Quin and himself were alike in that they would always try to hide their wounds, mental and physical. He’d have to be on the lookout to make sure that he healed as well.

“You should consider yourself lucky you got to be so close with me. Only a chosen few are given the privilege.” He tried to look as imperious as possible, sitting up straight on the side of the bed.

Now it was Quin’s turn to hit him with a pillow. “A few, you giant slut? You’re my favorite one, though. And the hottest… usually.”

Quin came over and sat beside him, then pulled him into a short, breathless kiss. Just as abruptly, he stood up and walked toward the door. “Now, I don’t want to get your heart racing, so I’m going to go get you something to eat.”

“Get some for yourself too, you giant idiot,” Obi-Wan yelled out the door, grinning. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad.

Chapter Text

After their meal, Quinlan and Obi-Wan sat on one of the narrow cots in the cool, dim passenger’s quarters. There was still several hours before they arrived at the vacation planet Artesia, and thankfully the ship had its own pilot. Both were pleasantly drowsy and content to rest for a moment. They leaned against each other, arms draped around each other like they did when they were Padawans.

Obi-Wan had always known Quinlan, in some way or another. They had been in the same clan in the creche, though Quin was a little more than a year older. As a young child, it might has well have been a decade, and he’d was cliquey with his own little friends. Obi-Wan didn’t truly notice him until he was a junior Padawan, alarmed by the fact that he couldn’t figure out why the tall Kiffar boy gave him funny feelings he felt ashamed to talk to his master about.

“You’re thinking again. It’s giving me a headache,” Quin said, squeezing his shoulder.

“Remember when we were Padawans?” Obi-Wan asked, thinking about the time he’d been distracted by a near shirtless Quin leaving the training salle. Qui-Gon had been supervising an Ataru training session with Obi-Wan and Garen, which involved a lot of concentration for two fourteen-year-old boys. Quin had only been wearing a towel and trousers, and he had surprisingly developed shoulders and abdominal muscles for fifteen going on sixteen. Obi-Wan’s breath had caught in his throat and his face had become red and hot.

During his impromptu ogling session, a surprised looking Garen had burned his arm and knocked him on his ass. The lecture he’d suffered from his Master had been worth that brief glimpse and the mortification. He thanked all the little stars that he didn’t have to be fourteen again.

“I’m not sure why you’d want to remember a time when you had to clean Qui-Gon’s exceptionally smelly boots, but ok.”

It was no mystery to Obi-Wan that Quin strongly disliked Qui-Gon and thought him a tactless ass who took terrible care of his Padawan. “I was thinking more of our time together.”

“Good. I don’t want to talk about your endless adoration for that old wanker.”

Obi-Wan snorted. “Gods, Quin, he wasn’t that bad.”

“He was. He wasn’t good for you.”

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes. “Unfortunately, no one else wanted me. Anyway, that wasn’t what I meant to talk about,” Obi-Wan said, dryly.

Quin looked a little ashamed.

“What were you thinking about, then? And no guilt trips right now, you can stew in your misery later. I supposed to keep you from wallowing,” he said, squeezing Obi-Wan’s shoulder.

“A fine job you’re doing then. Anyway, you’ve completely distracted me from the sentimentality I was feeling. I was going to tell you that I was glad that you were my first lover, and the only one I’ve ever kept coming back to.”

Quin pulled him closer, his warmth belying his mock insults. “You’re actually implying that you have feelings besides self-righteousness?” His voice dropped and softened. “Sometimes I think you’re like some kind of ginger Kyber crystal, always drawing me in. I keep coming back to you, no matter where I go or who I fuck.”

Obi-Wan reached over and toyed with a braid. “That was actually slightly romantic… Quin, I’m sorry. I didn’t treat you well.”

“The whole ignoring and turning me away thing?”

“Yes, that. I… I am prone to attachment. I wanted to show a good example to my Padawan as he got older and I saw that he was prone to the same… And I thought that as a Council Member, that I should continue to be a model of Jedi decorum. It all sounds silly now.”

“You’ve always been skilled at denying yourself happiness.”

“Are we supposed to be happy?” Obi-Wan asked. He certainly didn’t think he was made for happiness.

“We are supposed to be in harmony and peace- which is kinda like happiness.”

Obi-Wan arched a brow. “Are you actually referencing the Code?”

“Maybe? Here’s the way I see it. There’s attachment, and then there’s Attachment. It’d be one thing if I let a planet burn to save you, another if I saved the planet and you got hurt or died in the process, because that’s what you’d want. Duty comes first, but that doesn’t mean you can’t love.”

Quin scratched at his head thoughtfully and continued. “You can love someone, but still be willing to let them go. This is how I love, and damn what the Troll thinks about it. He’s too old to function.”

“Sometimes, you’re actually quite wise,” Obi-Wan replied softly. Maybe he was right?

“Don’t tell anyone. It’d blow my cover. Anyway, If I can continue to be wise for one more minute, I’m going to say this. Let go of your fear of attachment. I think you’ll feel a lot better. You love your former Padawan and his little Togruta squirt. And that, that’s ok.”

Obi-Wan continued to lean against him, relishing Quin’s warmth while his mind was turning over and over with thought. If he hadn’t been so hell bent on being the perfect Jedi, he wouldn’t have landed in this mess in the first place and maybe Anakin wouldn’t look so lost half the time. He thought back to the dream of fire and destruction, of the figure turning towards him in anger and thought of Anakin’s need for affection and validation.

“Sometimes, I think you’re right…I should tell Anakin how much he means to me. He’s a brother to me.”

“Think about it at least.”

“And I need to tell him that I know about Senator Amidala and that I will never turn him in. That I wish him only happiness.”

“You’re getting the hang of it”, Quin said and turned to kiss Obi-Wan’s cheek. “Now that’s enough of that serious business. Let’s talk about which of the Council members have ever gotten laid. Now, you we know are a big slut, so we’ll throw you out…”

Obi-Wan laughed and leaned into him some more. Things felt better, and they’d be arriving soon.

They landed at a beautiful, gleaming white structure, the landing pad looked like it was on silver polished to a high sheen. It was tall, surrounded by towering palm trees and giant ferns. To one side, Quinlan could spy a calm aquamarine ocean, reflecting back a cloudless sky. It was idyllic, if you liked such a thing.

Obi-Wan was leaning against him, blocking his eyes from the bright light and blinking. The endearing idiot never did that well with direct sun, but that’s what you got from having the pale eyes and skin more suited to some dim, misty meadow. They walked slowly towards the door and were greeted by a familiar Mon Calamari that neither of them had expected.

Quin was glad she was here; Obi-Wan needed his friends.

“Bant!” Obi-Wan called happily, a rare unguarded smile on his face.

Bant ran up to them, white robes fluttering, and nearly knocked Obi-Wan over in her excitement. “I’m so happy to see you, Obi!” She released him a took a step back, studying his face. “Though I wish it was under better circumstances. You look terrible.”

“Well, then I’m in the right place. I didn’t know you would be here; I have to say that it’s a pleasant surprise.”

“They rotate us off the fronts sometimes. It’s my turn to be here for a while, though I feel a little guilty about it.”

“You two barves need to know how to relax once and a while. All I can say is that I hope the drinks are good on the beach,” Quinlan said, giving Bant a friendly hug. Of Obi-Wan’s childhood friends, she was definitely his best, her friendly but no-nonsense attitude refreshing. She also loved him, and Obi-Wan needed everyone that did.

“Vos, you old reprobate. I’m glad you’re here. There’s a lot to talk about, but Nima will go over that with you later.” She looked back towards Obi-Wan. “Can you walk? Oops, silly question. Quin, can he walk?”

“He can walk, just very slowly like an elderly auntie.”

He would prefer to walk if anyone thought to ask him his opinion,” Obi-Wan said, archly.

“Nope. No one did.” Bant laughed and Quin put his arm around Obi-Wan’s back to help him shuffle in.

“Nima’s the Chief Healer here?”

“Yes, Master Bril I should say. She wanted me to take you both for some more testing before you go to your quarters. She’ll meet with you later.”

“Brilliant! Just what I wanted, though I was hoping to go read a holonovel on the beach,” Obi-Wan replied with a weak version of his usual charming smirk.

The bright light made him look washed out and terminally exhausted. Bant picked up his wrist, feeling his pulse. She reviewed the data on his wrist monitor and frowned.

“Maybe tomorrow.” Bant said, trying to hide the worry on her face. Giving Obi-Wan his hand back, she took them both by the arm. “Let’s go boys. Why put off the inevitable?”

Though they went in the back way, Quin could see that the building had clean lines and tall, vaulted ceilings. There were very few hiding spaces of any merit, at least on his first look. The atmosphere felt calming and supportive. If there was anything evil going on here, it was in deep hiding.

Obi-Wan was deposited in a large treatment room and given a gown to change into. Quinlan hated leaving him, but Bant escorted him into another smaller room where a Zabrak Padawan healer did a quick scan and drew some blood. The Padawan then escorted him to his living quarters.

“Usually the quarters are shared between two. We were going to give the General private quarters, but then we were told that you’d rather share?”

He wasn’t in the mood to explain anything to this snooty Padawan. “I get lonely,” he said, deadpan.

The Zabrak cleared his throat. “Yes, well, here you are. Your things will be delivered shortly.”

It was a simple room with a kitchenet, small sofa and table, and two beds. There was a surprisingly spacious refresher and a window with a view of the water. It thankfully held no sense of its previous occupants. He looked around the room, touching objects and furniture, trying to get a feel if anything nefarious happened here. The memories he could see are faint, of pain, hope, exhaustion, recovery. Nothing unexpected, at least in this room.

There was a small balcony overlooking the water, which made the whole thing seem strangely luxurious for Jedi. He leaned on the rail, letting ocean breezes stir his hair, wondering what would happen if he just took Obi-Wan and they ran away to somewhere in the Outer Rim and forgot the war and its vagaries.

Fuck that, the two of them would be bored in a matter of minutes. How could they function without constant stimulation and danger? Well, he could think of a few activities which could stave off boredom, and he let his imagination run wild for a minute, grinning to himself.

Quinlan was disturbed from his fantasy by a knock at the door. He opened it revealing a small, violet Twi’Lek of middle age. She had a kind, sharp face a little lined by care. “Master Vos? My name is Nima Bril. I’m the one who sent for you.”

“Quinlan. Master Vos makes it sound like I’m as old as Yoda and just as confusing.”

She smirked a little. “Of course. Will you come with me? I’ll give you a tour and then we can talk.”

“Sure. Lead the way.”

He followed her out of the living quarters and into a large atrium. Massive windows were open, allowing the briny sent of the ocean to blow around the airy space. Birdsong like the tolling of tiny bells echoed throughout. Jedi in various states of healing were sitting in wicker chairs, some talking, some reading. Tall doors led to a flowered garden split by a path to a wide beach of white sand. In the distance, he could see buildings, which must be the City on this vacation planet.

She brought him through the cafeteria, training salles for regaining strength and physical therapy, heated baths, and the actual medical ward. When the tour was finished, she took him to her office and beckoned for him to sit.

“I’m glad you’re here, Quinlan. I know you’re partly here to help your friend recover, but I also need your help.”

“Master Che said that someone was leaking information?”

“Something like that. I need someone who can investigate the situation without it being obvious. Since you are recovering from being ill, no one will question why you’re here. I’ve heard you have unique talents that would allow us to keep this investigation clandestine.”

He figured that the Jedi Council kept him around for his psychometry- by touching objects, he could sense the memories of those who came into contact with them. This ability was only known by those closest to him and the Council. Master Che must have told her.

“I guess. I’m a good tracker. No one takes me too seriously, which is a plus in my line of work.”

She raised a brow ridge and smiled. “What did Master Che tell you?”

“Not a lot. That maybe someone here was a Separatist spy or something like that.”

“Maybe. I’m not sure what is going on, but I don’t think it’s any good. I was wandering the halls one night and caught someone sending an odd transmission. They ran off before I could see who it was.”

“Were you able to save it?”

“Part of it. It hadn’t completely sent yet.”

“What makes you think this person is a spy?

“I keep track of all the Jedi that are healed here and leave. Over the past few months, the majority of the Jedi who go back into the field after leaving this facility die. They were all completely healed.” She paused and took a deep breath. “Not only do they die, but in situations that they normally shouldn’t.”

“Aren’t more dying everywhere?”

She sighed and pinched at the bridge of her nose. “I’ve compared our mortality numbers to those of the other recovery facilities and ours are higher. Much higher. There’s no exact pattern to the deaths either, but it’s devastating. I need you to at least try to get to the bottom of it. The Force tells me it’s not a product of chance.”

“Of course. I’ll start snooping around right away. You’ll show me that transmission?”

“Yes, but you do need to recover for a few days first. Rest and get your health back, then I’ll show it to you. Your blood work looks better than it did at the Temple, but you still need a little time.”

He was itching to start investigating, but he guessed he did need to look like he actually belonged here. “Ok. Obi-Wan will need me anyway.”

“Ah yes, the General. We can’t let him get too involved in this. He truly is not well.”

“He’s not… But he’s a stubborn bastard. He’ll be hard pressed to admit it.”

She contorted her face into a mock grimace. “So I hear.”

“I won’t let him get too stressed about it, but it’ll be impossible to keep it all from him. He’s sneaky.”

Grinning, she stood up and made her way back to the door. “I defer to your judgement… I must be going. We’ll meet again in a few days’ time?”

“Sounds good.” Quinlan left her in search of Obi-Wan, who wasn’t in their shared quarters. After some searching, he found he was still in one of the treatment rooms undergoing the last of a series of tests. He lay on the table, shirtless, covered in some kind of electrodes, shivering a little. A young human, likely a junior healer, sat in the corner of the room, taking notes.

Quinlan could feel Obi-Wan’s misery projected through the Force; too cold, hungry, worried, exhausted, bed too hard and uncomfortable. He knew Obi-Wan was pretty far gone if he’d given up on shielding. It didn’t seem that he needed a senior healer though, just a break from all the bullshit.

“It’s time to be done now.” Quinlan stated. Whatever this was, they could do it tomorrow.

“This is the last test. There’s only an hour left,” the healer stated impassively.

“Look at him. He’s had enough. If you can’t manage that much empathy, you should find another job. Will this change his treatment tonight?”

“Um, no,” the healer said meekly.

“Then do the damn bloody test tomorrow.”

Obi-Wan opened his eyes and glared at him for a moment, blinking blearily. In the corner, the healer was shocked into silence. Quin took off the electrodes and wrapped him in his cloak, then helped Obi-Wan off the table. He wobbled dangerously and fell against him, and Quinlan caught him under the shoulders.

“Should I get a hover chair?” the healer asked, now capable of speech.

“No need.” Quinlan easily swung him into his arms, worried that he didn’t protest. He’d always thought of Obi-Wan as sturdy and strong, but he was so far from that right now. He was glad that they were opening up to each other again but hated that it took this to get there.

Beings in the hallway stared at him as he carried his charge back to their quarters, but he didn’t give a damn. Once they arrived, he laid Obi-Wan on the bed and found him a soft, thick tunic to wear. He sat down beside Obi-Wan and toyed with his hair. It was getting too long.

Obi-Wan looked wrecked and grey-white and peered at Quinlan desperately. “I feel so low, Quin. So terrible. I need to tell Anakin how much he means to me. I need to tell you.”

He brushed the fine auburn hair off his forehead and tried to comfort him, giving him what strength he could through the Force. Quinlan wasn’t made for this, but he’d try. “In the morning, you can. You’re going to be fine, it’ll just take time. Just rest.”

Quinlan laid down beside Obi-Wan and took his hand. “Things will look better in the morning. I’ll be here with you.”

Obi-Wan settled and was quiet, and Quinlan laid there with him until he was asleep. I love you, you fool, he thought to himself. They both had a lot of work to do.

Chapter Text

It was truly unfortunate when one woke up smelling of bacta for the second time in a short span of days. Obi-Wan didn’t remember misbehaving, instead distinctly remembered obediently complying with all the hours of testing he’d been put through followed by Quin’s rescue. He ached a little at the thought of his friend who’d been so gentle and tender with him lately, and he’d taken it for granted.

Obi-Wan opened his eyes and studied his surroundings, knowing that he was at least tucked in to a soft bed, comfortable and warm. He discovered he was back in one of the treatment rooms and that he wasn’t alone. A Twi’lek woman was sitting on a stool by his bed, studying him intently. The lights had been dimmed and the place smelt impossibly clean and empty.

“What happened? I swear I didn’t do anything naughty this time,” he asked, rubbing at his beard.

The corner of the healer’s mouth twitched a little. “No, not this time.” She scooted her chair closer. “I’m glad to see you’re awake. You went back into an abnormal heart rhythm in your sleep. Your friend ran you back in here before we could even respond,” she said, taking his wrist in her soft hand and checking his pulse. “I’m Nima by the way, Nima Bril. In theory I run this place.”

“Yes, Master Che mentioned you… I thought I was getting better? What does this mean?”

It was hard to admit that he was worried, though he imagined she could see it in his face, feel it in his being. Death didn’t frighten him, but he didn’t feel ready, nor did he imagine it would be so inglorious. He had so much left to do; so much left to say, to Anakin and to Quinlan. Since he had that odd dream, he’d been filled with a sense of urgency, that there was something he must fix before things fell irreparably apart. If only he knew what that was.

“It’s a setback, but not insurmountable. There’s more healing to try and I did use some different crystals on you this time. I also am going to try you on some conventional medications to help control your heart rate while it heals.”

His back and neck ached some from laying still. “May I sit up?”

She stood up and raised the head of his bed, then pulled a tray in front of him that held some kind of foamy looking drink with a slight pink tinge. It didn’t look like the usual nutrient drink. He also noticed the lack of a certain person who he’d done nothing but worry and inconvenience lately.

“What’s this?” He asked, pointing to the drink. “Where’s Quinlan? Is he ok?”

“Your friend is just in the room next door resting. He was about to fall over, though he’d never admit it I’m sure… And that, that’s your breakfast. Would you like tea?”

“Are you real? I may have died and gone to another place where med centers are pleasant and welcoming… I would possible kill someone for tea if I had the energy.”

“No murder is necessary,” she said grinning, and stepped out for a moment.

He took a gingerly sip of the beverage and then nearly dropped it in happy surprise. It was smooth and pleasantly thick, sweet and fruity without being strong or acidic. The doctor came back with a mug of steaming tea, herbal and crisp.

“This is our special tea blend, made to be healing and non-stimulant.”

Well, it was better than nothing. “I’ll take it. And this drink is superlative. I may be dreaming.”

“I find it’s easier to get ill people to eat if things actually taste good,” she said.

Her expression changed to something like remorse. “I’m sorry for the actions of my Grandpadawn the day before. I didn’t mean for you to have all those tests in one sitting. Cara was just trying to follow my orders, but she took them a little too literally. We all have our strengths, and Cara’s is in research and the lab, not patient care.”

There was a sound from outside the room, and a Miralian man entered with the same Padawan healer. She hung her head sheepishly and toyed with her blond braid, staying close to the man in front of her. Her master then. It was a bit odd, usually Miralians didn’t take Padawans of other races, but not entirely unheard of.

“This is my former Padawan, Arren,” she said nodding at the man, who had a handsome face with even, square features and tattoos across his temples and cheekbones. He grinned and bowed a little in response. “And Cara, who you of course met.”

The Padawan looked more annoyed than contrite and huffed a little. “I’m sorry about the tests, Master,” she said reluctantly, while studying the floor.

“It’s no matter. I’m pleased to meet the both of you.”

“Arren is a pharmacist of sorts. He’s brought you some medicines that we’re going to try to use to support your heart. There may be some trial and error, unfortunately. We don’t often use these on Jedi,” Nima said, frowning a little.

“Well, I wouldn’t want to be like everyone else, would I? Let’s get started then.”

Obi-Wan held out his hand and a couple of capsules were deposited in it. He swallowed them down with his cooling tea. It didn’t even taste like a bland herbal blend, it had a mellow fullness to it with a hint of a spicy kick. If he could marry tea, he would have considered it and thrown attachment to the wind.

“Do you like the tea? It’s my special blend; I formulated it when I was a Padawan,” the man said.

“It’s superb. I’m beginning to think my vacation here was not such a letdown.”

“Excellent!” He said, beaming. “I’ll make sure you have some in your quarters once you go back.”

“When will that be?”

“Perhaps tomorrow,” Nima said, looking up at the monitor screen above him. “I’d like to watch your response to the medication for the rest of the day. We’ll let you be for a while and I’ll send in your friend. He’s been wanting to see you.”

With that, the three of them left, and a few moments later a tired and bedraggled Quinlan Vos ambled into the room, sitting on the edge of his bed.

“You scared the shit out of me,” he admonished, but then leaned in and kissed his forehead.

“I’m sorry.. but look, I’m better now, Quin!”

“Yeah, you look about as sturdy as that handmade Alderanian glass strung together with wire. If someone turned on fan, you might blow away. I’m kind of afraid to even touch you.”

“I’m not going anywhere, and I’m not going to break,” he said, trying to convince himself as much as he was trying to convince Quinlan. It wasn’t very effective judging by the skeptical look on Quin’s face. His eyes were a little sunken and ringed with dark shadows. They were supposed to be here to heal, Force be damned. Obi-Wan decided at this moment that he’d put all his effort into it.

He scooted forward and pulled Quin into his arms and buried his face into the crook of his neck. He smelt of leather and the sun on clean skin, like he always did. Obi-Wan came to the conclusion that he taken this man for granted, had expected that he’d always come back to him, always be there if he needed despite how Obi-Wan treated him, and he had. He didn’t deserve this kind of unconditional love.

“Thank you,” Obi-Wan said, voice muffled against Quin’s shoulder.

“For what, you barmy nut?”

“Being you. Helping me. You are… important to me.” Well, that sounded ridiculous, but it was the best he could muster right now. I love you, he thought, but couldn’t seem to get the words out.

Quin gently pushed him away, so he could look in his eyes. He cupped the sides of Obi-Wan’s face with his rough, warm hands. “You’re still scaring the shit out of me, Ben. Where’s the sarcasm and denial?”

“Temporary delay in delivery. Soon to return... Quin, I have to talk to Anakin.” The odd sense of urgency was returning, pervasive in its need.

“Ok, Obi. Do you need help?”

“No, just give me a moment?” Obi-Wan squeezed his hand.

“Yeah, of course.”

“Please get some rest, Quin.”

“You too, old man,” he said, getting up to leave.

“You’re older than me.”

“Age is relative. You were born elderly.” He grinned and left the room.

Once Quinlan left, he pulled the small table beside his bed closer. They’d left Obi-Wan his commlink and some holobooks, so he wouldn’t be bored out of his mind while he was resting, and he used his com to contact Anakin.

“Anakin, are you there?”

“I’m in my quarters. We’re on the way to Toydaria.”

“You’re not busy right now?”

“Nope. What’s going on? Is everything ok?”

“I.. I don’t know.” Why couldn’t he just say what he needed to? They’d always danced around things, never really talked about their feelings.

Worry crept in to Anakin’s voice. “Are you worse? Do I need to come there?”

“No, Anakin. Please continue with your mission. I just need to tell you something.” He reached over for his water, mouth suddenly dry, words stuck in his throat.

“What is it? You’re scaring me.”

“Anakin, I just, I… You’re a fine Jedi, and I’m proud of you. You’re going to be better and stronger than I could ever imagine. I’m so very proud.”

“Master, stop it. You’re really scaring me now. Anyway, you’re the best Jedi.”

Obi-Wan drew in a deep breath. Time to share some facts about his past. “Anakin, dear one, I’m not. I almost wasn’t a Jedi. I missed being sent to the Agricorp by a hair’s breadth. Qui-Gon took me as an apprentice at the last minute. A few days later and I would have aged out.”

“I can’t believe that. I didn’t know that,” Anakin said, sounding taken aback.

“I didn’t tell you because I was ashamed. I’m still ashamed. I was angry and emotional and didn’t have much control. Even after I met you, I was still lost, still full of doubt.”

“I.. It’s still hard to believe. Why are you telling me this now?”

“Because I need you to know. And I need you to know that I care about you. Anakin, if you’re in trouble or having doubts, please tell me. I’ll understand, and I’ll help in any way I can. I mean it. The council need never know.”

“Ok Master. If you’re sure. But are you ok? I’m really worried. You’re not acting like yourself.”

“I’ll be well in time, Anakin. And I meant it, dear one. I’m very proud of you. I.. I have to go now,” His mouth was so dry and chest so tight he wouldn’t be able to say much more.

“Ok Master. Com me soon?”

“I will.”

It wasn’t a perfect talk, but it was a start. Time now to rest.

Quinlan Vos was trying to rest but failing. He really wasn’t made for sitting around. There wasn’t even any beach front Cantina or anything like that, at least on the grounds of this facility. He debated seeing if he could find a way in to the vacation city to poke around, but he guessed that’d be frowned upon right now.

He stretched and got up from the bed he’d been lounging on and left his quarters, wondering if Master Bril was back in her office. He soon found out that she was.

“It doesn’t look like you’re resting,” she said, raising a brow ridge.

“No good at it. Never have been. Much to the eternal torment of the crechemasters.”

“Well then, what can I do for you?”

“I’d like to go to the communication room and take a look at that transmission, if you wouldn’t mind.” He was getting restless and tried not to jiggle his knee up and down.

“I don’t see why not. Shall we go?” She got up and beckoned for him to follow.

She led him down a few hallways until they arrived at the room, and she sat in front of one of the consoles. “I came here a few weeks ago to send some information to Master Che, and I caught someone receiving a transmission, though the whole thing didn’t go through. Whoever they are, they’re a master shielder. I couldn’t get any sense of the individual’s identity, other than a sense of wrongness like I’ve never felt before. It made me feel ill.”

Quinlan doubted that she’d ever encountered a dark side user or knew what they felt like. He wished he could keep it that way, but there was already something dark underfoot here. He sat down beside her, and she used her fingerprint to pull a data chip out of a secured drawer.

“I recorded the beginning of the transmission onto this. Whoever was receiving it stopped the transmission when they heard me come into the room, so it’s only partial. I scared them off before they could delete the thing.”

She placed the chip into the viewer and a small blue being appeared, hooded and cloaked. Quinlan had seen a hologram like this before and had an idea what the gravelly voice would sound like. He suspected that this was the Sith Master.

Only the lowest part of the being’s face was visible, a humanoid chin, arms were folded in his cloak. The voice sent shivers down his spine. He looked over at the doctor, who’s lekku were twitching anxiously.

“Things are proceeding according to plan, my friend. It seems you just may earn my respect. Continue with your work as we discussed, but I stress that you must be subtle. If we get too greedy, the enemy will notice. Meet the quota that we discussed…”

The transmission ended there. “Do you recognize that person?”

“My guess is it’s a Sith. Probably the Master Sith.”


“We know Count Dooku is a Sith, but we’re fairly certain he is not the Master but the apprentice. We need to see if we can figure out where this originated from. I doubt you have the equipment necessary for that. Can I sent it to Aayla to analyze back at the Temple?”

“Your former Padawan? Of course,” she said, handing it to him.

“What console did they use?” he asked, looking at the array of equipment in the room.

“This one,” Nima said, pointing at one of the screens.

Quinlan sat down before it and laid his hands on the keys, closing his eyes and trying to get a sense of its past users. Some he could see were just ordinary Jedi and a few staff, going about their business. He pushed them aside mentally and then was struck by something foul.

Icy, oily darkness overwhelmed him, seeping through the cracks in his shields like the grease-slicked mud of a used battlefield. Definitely a dark side user. He reached into what little was left of their memories to see if he could get any image of the being. The tiny glimpse he got was of a cloaked humanoid, but that was it. Nothing more identifying than that, but no lekku.

He felt his consciousness sinking into the dark as it spilled over him in waves. He tried to strengthen his shields and pull himself out and was left gasping and sick. The doctor was looking on at him in worry.

“What did you see?” She asked, a healing and supporting hand on his shoulder. He felt warm waves of well-being wash through him.

“A darksider given the foul stench. Humanoid. Not a Twi’Lek or Togruta. That’s about it.”

“Well, it’s a start. Let’s get out of here for a moment.”

She led him back to her office and poured him a small mug of what looked like Corellian brandy. “Here. It’s medicinal.”

He took it from her without hesitation and took a hefty gulp. “I’ll start getting to know the patients and staff around here and see what I can dig up; see if I get the same feeling from other objects they may have used.”

“It’ll have to stay secret or will never catch who’s behind this.”

She was right, of course. If they could figure out what was going on here without anyone noticing, maybe they could trace it back to the Sith Master. If they could figure out the ring leader in this whole shit circus, maybe they could end it once and for all. But, just like the Sith said, they too would have to be subtle.

“The Sith are sneaky, so we’ll have to be sneaky, and I’m a master at sneaky.”

“Excellent. Now, go get some rest,” she said grinning.

Quinlan gulped down the rest of his brandy and left her to her business. Nothing like a mission and sense of purpose to calm the mind. Now he could go do just that.

Chapter Text

“I hate you!”

Obi-Wan found himself on that odd lava planet again, but now he could truly see his opponent. Bile rose in his throat and he found himself shaking with horror, but he wasn’t surprised. It was Anakin, unhinged and broken and utterly lost, screaming like a rabid animal, eyes yellow ringed with abraded red.

Obi-Wan found himself falling to his knees, gasping, sobbing. The jagged rocks and gravel cut into his knees and hands. What happened? He couldn’t remember how he got here, how they got here both physically and emotionally. He could feel heat rising around him, smothering him. Anakin’s words were immolating his soul, burning it to char and ash. He coughed on the acrid smoke and readied himself to die, to feel the hot hum of a lightsaber burn across his neck.

Closing his eyes, he prepared himself for death, the smashing of his consciousness into oblivion, the tiniest fragments of himself shattering into molecules and scattering into the vastness of the Force. Something touched his shoulder and he startled into awakening, sitting up gasping.

“Obi? Wake up, come on, wake up.”

He opened his eyes and met Quin’s worried brown ones. Obi-Wan found that his face was wet and hot, his breath coming in ragged pants. The monitor on his wrist was screaming, but as he calmed, the urgency relented.

“Hey baby, you’re scaring me,” Quin said, pulling him close, holding him safe in the embrace of his arms. “Just breath. Breathe.” He brushed the hair off Obi-Wan’s forehead with infinite tenderness. “You were dreaming.”

Obi-Wan leaned against Quin’s solid shoulder, trying to match his even breaths. He was back in their rooms after being released from the inpatient section, and bless the stars, yes, he’d been dreaming.

“Anakin… It was Anakin. What am I going to do?” His words fell out of him in staccato sobs.

“What do you mean, Ben? What did you see?” Quin gave his shoulder a squeeze and got up from the bed. He walked over to the kitchenette, blessedly putting water on to boil.

Thank the Force it was Quinlan with him. Most other Jedi would have just told him to center himself or release his emotions or to let go of something. Fuck, he would have told himself those platitudes even a few weeks ago. Now, they sounded empty and useless.

Obi-Wan took a few deep breaths and at least tried to stop shaking. The monitor had stopped its incessant chirping. “I had another dream like the one I had on the way here, except much clearer.”

“What happened?”

“I was on some kind of volcanic planet with Anakin, and Quin, he’d turned. His eyes were yellow.”

“To the Dark Side… hmmm. What was going on?” Quin asked, as he finished making a cup of tea. He didn’t seem surprised by this realization, which was a little frightening.

“He was trying to kill me, I think.”

Quinlan grimaced as he measured out the tea. “Fuck, Ben, that’s twice you’ve had that dream. It can’t be a coincidence.”

“Anakin hasn’t turned yet, I know it. Stars, Quin, what should I do?” He shuddered, feeling lightheaded and weak. “I… I feel helpless right now. I don’t have the strength for this.”

Quin walked back over to him and handed him the tea, furrowing his brow. “Fuck man, I’m kind of worried that you’re admitting that,” he said, sitting beside him. “He loves you, but he doesn’t totally trust you.”

Obi-Wan processed that statement, both hating it but also knowing that it was true. “I know,” he admitted softly.

Quinlan gave him a soft, fond look and squeezed his forearm. “He thinks you might betray him to the council. He’s keeping some secrets, that one. The dream makes it obvious.”

“I… I may have, in the past, and you’re right, he is hiding something.” Obi-Wan reached over and brushed the braids off Quinlan’s face. “How in the nine bloody hells did you get so wise?”

“I play dumb really well. People don’t think of me as a threat; it makes me very good at what I do.”

Obi-Wan set his tea down and gave Quin’s hand a squeeze. He felt warm and fond and couldn’t quite think of the right words to say. He’d repressed feelings of affection for so long that they overwhelmed him. “I’m starting to take you seriously.”

Quinlan made something between a snort and a laugh. “At least you’re honest, and Anakin’s definitely hiding something. But he hasn’t fallen yet- the Force is showing you this for a reason.”

“What can I do?”

“Keep reaching out to him. Make him trust you. Make him want to tell you what’s going on. This whole business- what’s going on here and your dreams- they have to be connected. I’m just not sure how.”

Obi-Wan was having a hard time containing his curiosity and innate need to be useful. “What exactly is going on here? Are you allowed to tell me?”

“No one specifically said not to,” Quin said, giving him a sly grin. He explained the situation, how the Jedi that had been healed at this facility were dying at an increased rate and about the transmission he’d seen.

Obi-Wan was taken aback. “Bloody stars, Quin, does the Council know? Do you think something is really killing the Jedi once they leave?”

“It may be coincidence, but I doubt it. Plus that transmission was real and it was to the Sith Lord. That probably proves it’s not a coincidence.”

“Why isn’t the council doing anything?” Obi-Wan asked, perplexed.

“They are doing something. They sent me. If whoever’s behind this knows we’re onto them, they’ll run. This sleemo has a connection to the Sith, and we need to carefully exploit that. We’ll never have that chance if they bolt.”

“Hmmm. They should warn the Jedi that are healed here, though.” He stroked his beard thoughtfully. “I’m going to help.”

Quin laughed and rolled his eyes. “Of course you are. I hate to say it Ben, but you aren’t always the best at being sneaky.”

“Quinlan Vos, I am a master of the art of clandestine missions.” He let out an exasperated sigh. “This coming from the man that cut down that Hutt’s door. I’m quite offended.”

Quinlan frowned at him shook his head, not rising to his bait. “Anyway, you aren’t supposed to do much right now.”

“I’m not going to exert myself, don’t worry. Let me get to know the other patients. I am good at talking. I assume they are possible suspects?”

“Most anyone at this point. All I know is that I don’t think they’re a togruta or twi’lek or anything else with lekku or large horns. They seemed to have a human shaped head.” Quinlan wrapped his arm around Obi-Wan’s shoulders. “Flirting is like breathing to you, so I guess you won’t work too hard.”

“We all have our gifts, Quinlan. Don’t be jealous,” he said, wiggling down to lay on the bed.

He couldn’t fight sleep anymore, so he gave in. As he drifted off, he felt Quin’s lips brush his own, ever so softly. He was safe and protected.

Obi-Wan woke up the following morning to bright, clear sunlight streaming through the large picture window in their quarters. Through the corner of his eye, he could see glimpses of sunlight reflecting off the water. This was a lovely place, and he was starting to feel a little better.

Quin was sitting on the other bed, knees hugged to his chest, studying something on a data pad. He was wearing a sleeveless tunic and loose pants, and his feet were bare. The morning sunlight made him look gilded, glowing. Obi-Wan felt his mouth go dry.

This lovely moment lasted until Quin opened his mouth. “Are you awake? Good. Let me help you take a shower because you kind of stink.”

“Quinlan Vos. What a cruel thing to say. I have been ill, and I certainly don’t…” Then he noticed, that yes, he rather did and was horrified.

“I suppose a shower may be warranted.”

“Yep. It’s weird that you’re less than perfectly groomed so I thought I’d point it out,” Quin said, grinning. He got up and walked to the kitchenet and got out a glass of the fruity nutrient shake and handed it to him. “Drink this first, and take your medicine,” he said, getting out a pillbox. “You’ll need whatever strength you can get.”

He obediently drank it and got up to move towards the ‘fresher. “You’ve put on a good show, but I know that this is just an elaborate ploy to get me naked,” he said, taking off the sleep shirt he was wearing and throwing it down the laundry shoot. Despite his glib words, he felt self-conscious and a little unsteady. The dizziness came back in full force whenever he stood up.

“Kriff, you got me,” Quin said, smiling fondly. He at least didn’t look horrified or disgusted, and started taking off his own clothes.

“I see you’re getting naked too?” Not that I’m complaining, he thought to himself, trying to surreptitiously take in the lean, muscular lines of his body, nearly as familiar as his own.

“It’ll be a tight fit, but I’m not leaving you alone in there. You’re too good at finding some way hurt yourself, even in a shower.”

It was a good thing he wasn’t feeling overly frisky or energetic because being pushed up against that firm body in a small space would be, well, rather stimulating. Self-confidence wasn’t usually a problem for him, but he was a little displeased with his overly pale, scrawny, fuzzy self. By the way Quin was looking at him though, it didn’t seem that he minded. Obi-Wan felt what little blood he had rush to his face.

“Shall we, then?” Obi-Wan asked cheerfully, trying to reconcile the feelings of awkwardness and early desire.

“Don’t look at me like that. I’m not going to ravish you.”

“You’re not? I’m disappointed in you.”

“Well, baby, save it for another time. I happen to prefer partners that can stand on their own two feet for more than a few minutes without wobbling.”

“Touché. You don’t know what you’re missing out on.”

“I do, sweet cheeks, if your memory is still capable of stretching back for a few years. Just going to have to delay gratification for a while.”

“Really Quin, are you capable of that?”

“We’ll see,” Quin said, turning on the water and adjusting it to the desired temperature.

He stepped into the steaming shower, pulling Obi-Wan in after him and placing steadying hands on his hips. The heat seemed to make the blood rush back out of his head, and he leaned against Quin for support until he regained his balance.

“Just lean on me; I won’t let you fall,” Quin said, pouring some shampoo into his hand and massaging it through Obi-Wan’s hair, strong fingers pulling gently on the strands inducing just a hint of pleasure-pain. He tried not to groan.

Since the heat was making him feel weak and wobbly, he was glad it wasn’t allowing for much blood flow to, ahem, other regions, especially as he was being lathered in soap so expertly and gently, Quin’s hands touching him as if he was something rare and priceless instead of a bedraggled, worn-out, middle-aged man.

When he was done, Quin dried him off, wrapped him in a towel and carried him back to bed like an over-tired child. “There, much better.”

A little breathless, Obi-Wan tried to come back with a witty retort. “You seem to like having your way with me, but I can walk.”

“Sorry princess, but everyone likes having their way with you. How else can I show off my brutish strength?,” he said, sitting on the bed beside Obi-Wan.

“Quin, I…” Force be damned, he was not skilled at this. “I’m glad you’re here with me. I… you … yes, I’m happy you’re here.” It was probably the worst attempt at affection ever uttered and it was a damn good thing he was a Jedi because he would have failed at being an ordinary person, plagued with emotion.

Quin raised a brow, the corner of his mouth twitching into a smile. He lightly lay his hand on Obi-Wan’s chest, over his heart, as if he were trying to read it somehow, then leaned down and kissed his forehead.

“Rest a little and then I’ll take you back to the healers,” Quin said, in a low, fond voice.

“Are you going to rest for a while yourself? Don’t try to pretend that you were perfectly well when you got here.”

Quin grimaced, looking a little sheepish. “Scoot over then. I’ll rest if you will.”

About an hour later, Obi-Wan woke to Quin stirring beside him. “Rise and Shine, sweet cheeks. It’s almost time for me to take you back.”

Obi-Wan slowly got up and dressed himself in the loose robes Quin handed him. “What will you do today?”

“I’m going to go meet with Dr. Bril again. She’s going to give me a datapad with all the bios and backgrounds of the healers and staff at this facility to start with. I also going to send that transmission to Aayala to look at.”

Obi-Wan did want to help, but he still felt overwhelmingly weary. “I’ll see if I feel up to meeting other patient’s today, but I doubt it. I’ll probably come back here and com Anakin.”

“Yeah, I don’t think you should start today. She’s also going to give me the names of all the Jedi that died after leaving this facility. I need to review their deaths and see if there’s any common themes.”

That sounded like it would involve a lot less exertion. “I can help with that too, you know.”

“You can, when you feel up to it. I don’t want you kriffing this up and having another setback. Let’s see how it goes.”

A little while later, Quin deposited him back in one of the healing rooms and he was greeted again by the Miralian healer/pharmacist and his sullen Padawan, who was fussing with some caspules in the corner of the room.

“Ah, Master Kenobi!” he said, grinning. “You look better today.”

“Yes, strong enough to wrestle a gundark,” he said, raising a brow. “I bet you say that to all your patients.”

“You got me. A positive attitude goes a long way.”

“Charming, I’m sure. I do feel a little better, I suppose.”

He raised a brow, smirking a little. “Since we started the medication, you’ve had fewer episodes of arrhythmias. You had one last night, but it resolved itself without intervention. I’d say that’s a good start.”

“Given the last few weeks, I’d have to agree.”

“Well, I’m going to check a few things over and likely increase the dose of one of the medications. In the next few days, you can start doing some very gentle katas again and we’ll monitor your response to exertion.”

That sounded promising. He gave Obi-Wan a container of pills and sent him back to his quarters where he dutifully nibbled on the snack Quinlan left him and went to com Anakin.

“Master?” he heard faintly followed by clanking, humming, smashing, and blasting. Ah, the sounds of war. He wasn’t quite sure that he missed it.

“I can here that it’s a bad time, young one.”

“Nope Master, give me a minute.” Another loud crash followed by the sound of objects hitting something stationary, accompanied by a clone grumbling, likely Rex by the sound of it.

“Just about done. Are you doing ok? Are they getting you better? We miss you out here.”

“There’s been some improvement.” Ah blast, there had been far too much emoting in the last day. “I must admit that I miss you… and Ahsoka and your Captain.”

“You better hurry up and get better or we’ll destroy all these clankers without you.”

“What a tragedy,” he said, dryly. Where was he going with this? Focus, Kenobi. He brought his mind back to the horror of his recent dream.

“Anakin, is everything well with you? Is anything wrong?”

“Uh, no, Master. Everything’s fine.” He didn’t sound entirely certain.

“If you’re frightened or have doubts or anything, please let me know. I, I haven’t always been good to you, I think.”

“Master,” Anakin paused for a minute and Obi-Wan could almost hear the gears in his head turning. Force, he’d faked his death without giving any thought as to what Anakin would have felt about it. When had he become so callous?

“Master, quit it. You keep scaring me. I’m coming to see you when this mission is over. It should only be a few days.”

He almost asked if the Council had approved it, but then stopped, for once knowing that it would be the wrong thing to say. He did miss his former Padawan, his brother, his near constant companion. He needed Anakin as Anakin needed him. Startled by this realization, he nearly dropped the tea he was holding. Obi-Wan wasn’t alone. He had help. He would do everything he could to stop what he saw in his dream from happening, Code be damned.

“I’ll be glad to see you.”

In their quarters, a nefarious individual sat and schemed. Interesting that the famous General was here. He didn’t look like much in person, but his reputation proceeded himself. He would be such a prize to take down and put an end to. Funny how this rather unassuming man was such a thorn in their Master’s side.

They did have to take their Master’s words into account; their goal here was to subtly weaken the Jedi, but Force, it was so tempting to be rid of him. The High General was ill and weak, and it wouldn’t be that hard to make it look natural… Well, they should discuss it with their Master first. Hopefully that Kriffar idiot wouldn’t be in the way. The being sighed. They would have to exert patience. They could not be caught.

Chapter Text

This morning’s check-up was with the grumpy Padawan, who studied her boots while she droned on about his health. “The medication dosing seems to be working, so we’ll keep the dose as is. You can start taking some walks, but you have to stop and rest if that alarms,” she said, pointing at his wrist monitor. “Your heartrate can’t get too high. It’s too much stress on your heart.”

“What about katas- only the gentle ones, of course?”

She shuffled her feet and nibbled at a fingernail. “In a couple days you can start, but they have to be supervised in the therapy salles, with monitoring.”

“Excellent. Will that be followed by nap time and snack?” he asked, smiling, wanting to see if he could make her smile. She didn’t even look at him, but instead studied a strand of her yellow hair.

Why was she so sullen? Obi-Wan could generally charm most sentient beings without much effort. Did it have anything to do with what was going on here? If not, maybe she knew some secrets of the place, some kind of clues. He would have to try harder.

Obi-Wan arranged his features into the warmest, most concerned half-smile possible. “Padawan, is everything all right with you?”

She raised her head abruptly, making eye contact for the first time. “What do you mean, Master?”

“I mean no offense, but you seem unhappy here.”

She blushed furiously in response. “I… I’m not. Taking care of patients isn’t for me. I just want to be back in the lab.” She returned to vigorously studying her fingernails. “I shouldn’t be burdening you with this.”

“Young one, it’s not a burden, and in all fairness, I did ask. What do you study in the lab?”

“Drug design, Master. Some Jedi, like you, need conventional medications, at least for a while. I study how they work on Force sensitives to make sure there aren’t any prohibitive side effects.”

That was clearly her calling. With her explanation, her whole demeanor brightened, and he caught a glimpse of a smile. “That sounds quite interesting. Why are you here then?”

“My master thinks that I need to spend some time learning to care for the sick-that it isn’t the Jedi way to be holed up in a lab all the time. Plus there’s a shortage of healers, I guess.”

“I see.”

“I just…” She looked down again, ashamed.

“What, young one?”

“Working with sick patients, it just takes a lot out of me. I’m not good with talking or healing. I can help people by working in the lab.”

“There are many ways to help others. Not all of us are social creatures. Have you talked to your Master about it?

“Yeah, but he said the lab’s busy right now with more important things than my little projects. He says that healers are needed in medcenters and in the field, not in the lab, at least until the war was over.”

It always came back to the foul war. “I suspect all our lives will be quite different once the war is over. Sometimes we must do our duty. For both our sakes, I hope it’s over soon.”

“And for the galaxy’s,” she said, grinning a little.

“I concede your point,” he said, winking at her. Now, time for a little questioning. “Cara, that’s your name, isn’t it?

A nod. “Cara, I have to ask a question. What is the longest time patients have to stay here? I don’t want to be setting any records,” Obi-Wan said, hanging his head sheepishly.

Quinlan and he had agreed that the culprit was unlikely to be a patient as they came and went, but he supposed they shouldn’t rule out that possibility. They didn’t have any leads yet.

“I doubt it, Master. You’re doing so much better. There’s some Jedi that have been here over a year!”

“A year? How terrible.”

“Yeah! And between you and me, there’s a few who I doubt will ever leave.”

“Really? Why not?”

“Too badly injured to go back into the field. They need lifelong care.”

“Hmmm. Do they still have their wits about them?”

“A few do. That’s the worst, I think. It almost would be better to not know.”

Obi-Wan couldn’t imagine a life without serving the Order. He shuddered. “I would have to agree.”

She finished sorting out his pills and handed them to him, shyly smiling. “There you are! We’ll see you back tomorrow. Don’t let your heartrate get too high!”

Obi-Wan nodded. He’d walk his way out to the open-air hall and see what patients he could chat up. Quin would be much appreciative. He did feel better up and moving and was able to ambulate without feeling dizzy or faint for the first time in a while.

When he reached the hall, it was so pleasantly warm and faintly floral scented ocean breezes were blowing through the space and rustling the nearby palms. He sat down in one of the lounge chairs and unwittingly fell fast asleep. So much for the interrogations. Those could wait just a little while longer.

When he woke up some time later, sea breezes were stirring his hair. He shivered a little and stretched, noticing that someone had sat down beside him, a young Togruta woman, her leg in a complicated cast. She was studying him intently, eyes wide with curiosity. He wondered how long she’d been there. She’d at least be a start in his spying scheme.

“Hi! You’re new here!” she exclaimed. She was tall and quite muscular, an impressive figure if not for the obvious injury.

“Well, yes, yes I am,” he said, employing his warmest smile.

“I’m Dasha,” she said warmly extending her hand.

“It’s a pleasure. Obi-Wan,” he replied, as he had his own nearly crushed.

Her violet eyes widened. “Kenobi? The High General?”

So much for anonymity. “That’s me.”

“I thought you looked familiar.” She grimaced, then cocked her head inquisitively. “I always thought you’d be… Never mind.”

“Be what?” This conversation was not going the way he wanted it to. He’d have to wrest it back into his hands. She continued to study him as if he were a very curious specimen.

“I… it’s really not important.”

Now he had to know. “You can say it, Dasha. I’m curious now.”

She averted her eyes sheepishly. “I guess I thought you’d be taller. You and General Skywalker seem so larger than life on the holovids.” She looked herself over. “Even I’m bigger than you.” She shrugged. “Anyway, you asked.”

“Quite right. I hate to disappoint you, but you’re taller than Anakin too.” Pettiness was not the Jedi way, but he was tired. Obi-Wan cleared his throat, heralding a change in the tenor of the conversation. “How long have you been here, Dasha?”

She seemed relieved he’d let that first bit go. “A few months now. I had to have a bunch of surgeries on my leg. It was crushed in a speeder crash.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Two months you say? That seems like a terribly long time.”

She shrugged. “Yeah, I guess. Those two over there have been here for a lot longer.” She nodded her head towards a fragile-appearing Zabrak and skeletal male human, who were drinking tea and engaged in a quiet conversation a few tables over. “What are you here for, anyway?”

“My heart doesn’t seem to want to beat like it should. Terribly bothersome thing. When do you think you’ll be ready to leave?”

“A few weeks! I’m excited to get back in the field. I’ve only been knighted a year.”

Obi-Wan chest tightened. This poor girl could almost be Ahsoka. He was horrified by the thought that she might be one of the ones to die after leaving. He and Quin couldn’t let that happen. Obi-Wan would have to see what those long-timers knew.

He looked up to see a worried look on her face. “Is something the matter, Master? Are you feeling ill?”

He suddenly felt very tired and a little lightheaded, with an urgent need to leave this place. That wasn’t an option, but he could go back to his rooms. Tomorrow he’d talk to the other two. It was a good start. He needed things to look natural, and he needed to be at his best.

“A little. It was a pleasure to meet you, Dasha. Perhaps I’ll see you again before you leave?”

“Yeah! That’d be great,” she said, brightening.

He stood up and gave her a little bow, heading back to their rooms.

Quinlan had spent part of the morning talking to Aayla about the transmission. It originated from the Senate district, that was all they could make of it, but that was enough. After, he’d sought out Bant to see what she thought about the whole situation.

He met her at a secluded table in the currently empty cafeteria, where she was drinking tea and eating a late midday meal.

“Quinlan! Sit!” she said, beaming and pulling out a chair. “How are you?” She asked, squeezing his forearm. “Do you want something to eat?”

“Good enough, little Bant and no, not hungry. Thanks for meeting with me.”

“Of course. It’s terrible, isn’t it? I haven’t been here long, but I can’t imagine anyone hurting the patients. I don’t even know where to start.”

“That makes both of us,” he said, grimly. “How many healers are there?”

“Well, many. There’s only a few Master healers.”

“Let’s start there.”

“All right, so there’s usually a rotating Master, someone taking a break from the front lines, and right now that’s me, but we change every few months.”

Bant was about as likely to commit murder as a tame tooka kit, and anyone else wouldn’t be there long enough. “Who else?”

“Well, Master Brill, who you’ve met and Master Zelm, her former Padawan. They’re the Chief healers. Then there’s a whole slew of Padawans and junior healers that rotate through.”

“Master Bril has her own Padawan, a Pantoran by the name of Crim Mereel. She’s gentle and soft spoken, a true empath, from what I can tell.” She took a sip of her tea and looked at him thoughtfully. “Master Zelm has a Padawan as well, a Human chemist named Cara Horn. Those four are the most permanent of the healers.”

“I met that other Padawan. She was not an empath.”

“Cara is a scientist, not a healer. She’s a good girl. I do think her Master should let her go back to working in the lab most of her time.”

“There’s a lab here?”

“Yeah, they compound medicines, work on antivirals and the like, grow and mix various healing herbs and teas.”

This was sounding promising. “Hm. Where is it?”

“In the back of the complex.” She smacked his hand. “Quin, it’s very secure. Don’t you go sneaking in there.”

“I’m not. I’m going to ask for permission.” Dr. Bril would hopefully allow him in.

She stood up, picking up her tray. “You better!! I’ve got to go back to work.”

He left her there and wandered out to the beach, letting the cool waves crash at his feet. Shorebirds twittered and ran across the sand, which was soft and fine as the sugar on an Alderaanian sweet bun. He’d have to take Obi-Wan out here. The sun was as warm and welcoming as a gentle touch.

When Obi-Wan returned to their quarters, he opened the door and ran straight into a wall of solid, warm Kiffar and was enveloped in strong arms. He let out an undignified squeak and stiffened a little. He was just getting used to easy affection, but at least it was a pleasant thing to get used to. Obi-Wan relaxed and let himself lean into it.

“Quin, what is this?”

“It’s called a hug. People do it sometimes.” Obi-Wan thought back to the times Anakin awkwardly tried to show him affection. He secretly liked it.

Quinlan took a step back and caught Obi-Wan’s face in his hands, studying him for a minute, grinning, then gave him a quick kiss. Obi-Wan felt the blood rush to his face. “Were you standing here, waiting for me?”

“Nah. You’re not that special.” He said, brushing the hair off Obi-Wan’s forehead. “I was about to hunt you down. See what trouble you’d gotten into.”

“Well, I managed to not make any mischief,” he said feeling a little awkward.

Obi-Wan extracted himself and sat down at the table. Why couldn’t he just give in? Quin looked so handsome in his sleeveless tunic, the same tunic he would have bemoaned as ridiculous a few months ago. Maybe he was making some kind of progress.

“You’re thinking again and way too hard,” Quin said, coming to sit by him in the other chair. “You’re pretty when you blush. It spreads all the way down your neck.” He gently laid a finger in the hollow of his throat. Obi-Wan shuddered.

A strange sensation and urgency came over him. Obi-Wan nearly jumped out of his chair and straddled Quin’s lap, digging his fingers into his thick hair as he gave him a proper kiss which was enthusiastically returned.

When they finally broke for air, Quin was laughing. “That’s what I missed. That’s my feisty sand cat, not some old stuffy Councilor.”

“I hate you,” Obi-Wan said, grinning and toying with a braid.

“Doesn’t look like that from here.”

“Mmm, no. Maybe not.” Obi-Wan said, whispering into Quin’s ear as he leaned in to resume his amorous attack. It was unfortunately interrupted by a tinny but insistent beeping. He could feel that his heart was heaving in his chest but chose to ignore it.

“Karking blasted Force-forsaken piece of bantha dung,” Obi-Wan exclaimed, grabbing the wrist monitor and throwing it across the room as he struggled to catch his breath. It may have left a mark on the wall.

Quinlan simply stood up and deposited him on the bed, laughing so hard tears were streaming down his face. He seemed momentarily unable to speak. Quin used that moment to pick up the monitor and hand it to him.

“Don’t laugh at me. Its bloody frustrating,” he said, maybe pouting a little and putting the damn thing back on before medics came to the room.

“You’re telling me. I didn’t know you could holler like that anymore.”

He had his own anger issues as a Padawan, but forced himself to internalize it, to be a beacon of calm when he’d taken on Anakin. To become someone else, the Jedi he’d always imagined he’d be. Some days had been easier than others. “It was an unfortunate outburst.”

“It was perfect,” Quin said, wiping his eyes. “Are you feeling ok?” I’ll make some tea.”

His heartrate had come down and breathing slowed. “Yes. Tea will not make up for the fact that I can’t blasted do anything. How are we going to catch this person?”

Quin set about making him tea anyway. “Hey, we got further into it than we did the last time we tried to make out. Maybe there’s a little progress? And there’s plenty you can do that’s not physical, you know that. ”

Obi-Wan sighed. “I met this young knight today, so earnest and good. I’m worried for her, for the rest of the Jedi here.”

“I am too. Hey, I found out that the transmission came from the Senate District.”

That sparked something in his mind, a memory from a horrible time. “You know Quin, that reminds me of something Dooku said to me.” He rubbed at his beard, wondering about the connection.

Quin turned away from his tea making and looked back at him. “What?”

“That the Senate was under control of a Dark Lord of the Sith. I thought it was nonsense at the time, that he was spewing propaganda to get me to join him. Haven’t thought about it again till now.”

Quin handed him the mug of tea and started to pace around, hand on his chin. “Did you ever talk to anyone about that?”

“I don’t remember. I was distracted by other things. It was an odd time. My memory of it feels almost cloudy or strange. Do you think that it could be true?”

“I do. The transmission supports it.” Quin walked back towards him and sat on the edge of the bed. “I’ve spent a lot of time studying the Sith. Too much time, I used to think. What I learned was that they are master manipulators and excel at subterfuge.” He grimaced. “I think the most likely explanation is that the Sith has been hiding under our noses the whole time, just a few districts away from the Temple. It makes sense, Obi.”

“It does make sense. Though something about it is hard to wrap my mind around. Quin, we serve the Senate. Do they want to get rid of us? Can they?”

“No, love, we serve the Republic. And I wouldn’t underestimate the Sith. I think what’s going on here has ties to a lot more.”

Obi-Wan scrubbed at his forehead. This was all troublesome and exhausting. He needed a simple task. “Do you have those datapads with the list of deaths? We should look at them.”

Quinlan got up and removed a couple of pads from the bottom of a pile on the side table. He passed Obi-Wan one and he started to read. It was hard to see a connection between the group. Some were old, young, Padawans and Knights alike. Different sexes and species who died in different ways, the majority of them violent, though not surprising given the war. As he read, Quinlan sat with his head in his hands, lost in thought.

“What is it?” Obi-Wan asked, squeezing his shoulder.

“Just thinking, Obi. There’s only about four healers that have been here long enough to be involved, though I guess it could be some other worker. There’s a big lab here, too. I just wonder if they’re somehow poisoning them?”

“Looking at these deaths, they didn’t seem to die of poisoning. Most died in battle,” Obi-Wan said, then his eyes caught a mission debrief written by a clone captain that was most curious.
“Quin, read this.”

They both read the following: ‘Master Cren and our squadron were ambushed by battle droids. He’d dropped his lightsaber and moved to grab it with the Force like I’d seen him do a thousand times but couldn’t seem to. He could have thrown the battle droid like he usually would have but didn’t. It shot him straight in the chest before I could intervene. It was like he couldn’t save himself.’

Obi-Wan shivered and looked over at Quin, who was doing the same. “Maybe there is something to your idea, Quin. It was like he couldn’t touch the Force. Maybe you should ask Dr. Bril about it?”

“That’s a good thought.” Quin said, looking down. His lovely brown eyes were still dark-ringed with fatigue. Obi-Wan could feel it himself, in his growing headache. They both weren’t perfectly well and needed a break.

“Poisoning seems unlikely, but we won’t rule it out.” Obi-Wan scooted towards him and put his arm his shoulders. “Come on, let’s rest a little. The answers will come if the Force allows it.”

Chapter Text

Obi-Wan woke up to the pleasant sensation of a warm body next to him, a sensation he could easily get used to. He could tell that Quin was awake and lost in thought. Obi-Wan turned towards him to soak in his warmth.

Something felt off this morning; he could sense the heavy exhaustion that he’d had at the beginning of all this starting to return. It was weighing him down, dragging him back towards sleep. He couldn’t seem to quite open his eyes.

“Are you awake, Ben?”

“Somewhat,” he grumbled.

“About time. You’re getting very lazy in your old age.”

Obi-Wan opened his eyes and sat up, swatting Quinlan repeatedly with his pillow. The room spun a little, and he felt oddly queasy. Obi-Wan lay back down, looking up to study the ceiling. The light coming through the bay window was pale. It was still dawn.

“Quinlan Vos. The sun has barely risen. What a way to treat an invalid.”

“You’re too violent to be an invalid. I may have a bruise from your vicious attack.”

Quinlan gave him a slow smile and leaned down to kiss him. While Obi-Wan appreciated the sentiment, he still felt quite off, and his nausea was growing. He gently pushed Quinlan away. “Sorry, darling, but I need to clean my teeth.”

“I don’t care about…” Quinlan studied his face for a moment, brushing Obi-Wan’s hair across his forehead. “Are you ok? You look kind of peaky. Well, more than you usually do.”

“I don’t feel quite right. I suspect I’m just tired.”

Quinlan frowned. “You probably over did it yesterday. Stay in bed for a while. You don’t have to get up right now.”

It was certainly strange, this life of leisure. “I suppose I will. What are you going to do?”

“Meet with Master Healer Bril, talk to her about our Force block theory and see if I can get into the lab to poke around.”

“You’re good at poking.”

That earned Obi-Wan a sharp finger in the side. “Don’t you know it, baby. Speaking of poking, I have dinner plans for us, so you better rest up.”

“Really? What might those be?”

“It’s a surprise, you meddling bastard. I’ll see you before dinner.”

“Yes, but I’m your meddling bastard.”

Quinlan smiled at that, flushing a little. “You are.”

Quinlan brought him a cup of water and shut the blind before heading out. The room was dark and still. Maybe if he slept for a while he’d wake up feeling better. Obi-Wan closed his eyes and counted his breaths, clearing his mind and quickly fell back to sleep.

When he woke up a few hours later, the sense of wrongness was still there, just slightly lingering around the edges but nothing like it had been earlier. He padded out of bed and made some of that fine tea and savored it slowly with the breakfast Quin had left him.

Sometimes he was overcome with urgency, to get back to the war, to Anakin, to the Council, but part of him knew it was going on without him and would continue to do so whether he was there or not. He did worry about Anakin and Ahsoka and badly wanted to see them again. Anakin would be there tomorrow, and he looked forward to his visit.

Once he felt steady enough, Obi-Wan walked out to the main hall where the patients seemed to congregate. He felt a little more out of breath today, stopping every so often to rest, but the heart monitor didn’t seem to be alarming. Maybe it was an improvement? He couldn’t quite tell.

There was a counter in the hall where one could obtain drinks, and he poured himself another cup of tea and scanned the small crowd. He spied one of the patients Dasha had pointed out the other day, one that had been there a long time. There was an empty seat beside him, so Obi-Wan used that to his advantage.

Obi-Wan sat down and looked over at the other man. He was maybe 15 or 20 years older than himself, with greying dark hair. He was cachectic, like all the life had been sucked out of him. Obi-Wan selfishly hoped that he didn’t look that bad. He ran a nervous hand through his hair.

“Fine day, isn’t it?” Obi-Wan asked, hoping to start up a conversation.

“General.” The man said flatly, not bothering to make eye contact.

This will be a challenge, he thought to himself, but he was up to it. He gave him his most welcoming smile. “I see you know who I am, Master…?”

“Flynn,” the man grumbled.

“Well Master Flynn, I’m glad to meet you. Have you been here long?”

“Long enough, since your Order dumped me here to rot.”

“My Order? Isn’t yours too? I certainly have no ownership of it.”

“Not any more, it’s not. As soon as I wasn’t useful, it spit me out and left me here. If I had the strength to leave, I would. You may be their darling now, but just wait. They’ll do the same to you.”

How ominous. He didn’t quite feel equipped to counter that. “I’m sorry to hear that. I should hope not.”

Master Flynn wasn’t deterred from his rant. “I’ve begged for something to do. A desk job. Something in the archives. Anything. But no. I have to stay here until I die. I’ve outlived my usefulness.” He took in a shuddering breath, seemingly gathering steam to continue. “This war. Your Council keeps throwing us out there, using us up like droids, not caring if we live or die. Don’t you realize, precious, that they doing it to you? You’re just so indoctrinated that you can’t tell.”

Obi-Wan felt oddly disturbed and took a deep, calming breath. “The galaxy is in danger. Innocents are being harmed. We have to help, despite the consequences.”

“Are we helping though? Do you see any end in sight? Don’t you see that we’re descending into chaos?”

There was some truth to what Master Flynn had to say. “I don’t know. I hope that some good is coming of this.”

“But you don’t know, do you. People say that you’re one of the best Jedi out there, but you don’t know.”

Obi-Wan scrubbed at his beard. “Only the Force knows the end of this.”

The man hung his head. “The Force has forsaken me.”

Obi-Wan’s chest felt heavy, the sense of nausea returning. There was no answer to that, no counter. “I am sorry.”

The man’s features softened, just a little. “It’s no fault of your own. You seem like a good sort. I hope you recover from whatever ails you and that the war is over soon with as little loss of Jedi lives as possible. Ignore this grumpy old man.”

“Thank you. I understand the need to vent one’s feelings sometimes.”

“You’d never do it though. You’re too good.”

“Hardly.” Obi-Wan paused for a moment. There was no good way to transition into this question, and he had to ask it. “Master Flynn, I must ask you something. You’ve been here sometime. Have you heard… Have you heard that some of the Jedi who leave this place are coming to harm or being killed? More than one would expect even with the war?”

He frowned and turned his head thoughtfully. “No, I really haven’t, but I haven’t paid attention either. What do you know about it?”

“Very little. Only a rumor is all; there may be nothing to it. Have you noticed anything odd going on?” Obi-Wan asked, taking a sip of his cooling tea. It seemed to settle his nerves.

“No, not really. Nothing really seems to change here. I’ll let you know if I do.”

“Thank you. I suppose I should be going.” He felt the need to rest again before Quinlan’s surprise.

Obi-Wan slowly made his way back to their quarters. Master Flynn was angry, yes, but he didn’t seem like the type that would want to hurt his comrades, despite his anger towards the Order. None the less, Obi-Wan would let Quin know what chair he was sitting in so that he could investigate later with his own special skill.

Quinlan sat around for a while, re-reading some of the death reports and the descriptions of the Jedi on file. There were a few scattered reports similar to that of the Clone captain’s they’d read the other night. He had a strong suspicion that they were right.

It was time for him to meet with Master Bril, and she cordially escorted him into her office. “Good Morning, Master Vos. How are you?”

“Fine, I guess.”

“Good to hear. I take it you have some questions for me?”

“Yeah. Obi-Wan and I were looking through these reports, and we had a few thoughts. Could these Jedi, the ones that died, could they have been blocked from the Force somehow? At least partially? By something that happened here? Some kind of treatment or medicine?”

Nima studied the report for a moment. “Perhaps? But I wonder what the commonality would be. All of these Jedi, they were treated for different conditions and injuries. I can’t think of any treatment or medicine that would have connected all of them. And whatever it is, it isn’t effecting everyone.”


“Yeah, so it couldn’t be the food or something like that. No issues with your Force connection? I feel fine.”

“I’ve not had any issues, no. We all eat the same things and drink the water, so I doubt it’s that,” Nima said, looking at him thoughtfully. “There are Force suppression serums, but the recipient is certainly aware they have received them. None of these patients complained about such a thing. If it was a drug of some kind, it would have to be fairly insidious. I know of nothing like it.”

“It could be some kind of Sith or Dark magic.”

“I suppose. I don’t know much about things like that,” she said. Quinlan knew some and could have some research done at the archives.

“My guess is that there has to be something in common with the Jedi that died. We just can’t see the connection yet. Speaking of that, I’d like to see the lab and take a look around.”

“I hardly doubt the lab is harboring malicious activity, but it’s reasonable. I’ll take you late tonight so that there won’t be anyone there other than droids. Meet me here around 22:00?”

“Sounds good.”

He wandered over to one of the training salles and busied himself with some strenuous katas, trying to clear his mind, then sat in the commissary for a while. Back in their quarters, he found Obi-Wan curled on the couch, asleep, a data pad on the floor beside him.

Quinlan had to admit to himself that he was worried about him. Jedi usually recovered quickly from illness and injury and he just didn’t seem to be making that much progress. Maybe some, but not enough. What did he know? He wasn’t a healer. He’d ask Obi-Wan to bring it up at his next visit.

He took a shower and dressed, and when he came back to the main room, Obi-Wan was stirring.

“Productive day, I see?”

He loved Obi-Wan’s indignant scowls and he was making a perfect one right now, especially adorable paired with his sleepy, bleary eyes. “Quinlan Vos. I will let you know that I interviewed another patient today.”

“Really? Find anything out? Did he seem like a suspect?”

“He was quite angry, but I don’t think he’d hurt anyone.” Obi-Wan described the location of the chair he was in for a moment. “Maybe you should check it out, just to be safe.”

Obi-Wan looked like he was starting to get up from his spot on the couch. It wasn’t time quite yet. “Don’t get up yet. Rest a little bit longer, and then it will be time for my surprise. I have to go pick up a few things first.”

Quinlan came back an hour or so later with a large bag filled with mystery. In the meantime, Obi-Wan had showered and tried to make himself as presentable as possible, which was challenging given the circumstances and his limited means. He’d have to make do with charisma and charm.

“Are you ready, Obi? It’s a kind of a long walk, but it’ll be worth it.”

Obi-Wan hoped his rebellious body would cooperate at least long enough to enjoy the evening. “Of course? What do you have there?” He asked, pointing to the large bag.

“Not telling. Are you sure you’re ok? You’re not pink like you usually are.”

“I am not pink.”

“Yeah you are. It’s cute.”

“I am a 38-year-old man. I am not cute.”

“You are. The fussier you get the cuter you are. It makes me just want to kiss that look off your face.”

Obi-Wan felt his cheeks grow warm, pink even. “Fine then. You’re ridiculous. And cute.”

Quin shrugged. “Shit, I’ll take any compliment I can get. Now let’s get going.”

He pulled Obi-Wan up to standing and pulled him out the door. They walked out of the complex and onto the beach, following a path along the dunes. Though beautiful, the walk was interminable. He tried to control his breathing, so he wasn’t panting like an overheated bantha, but judging by the worried looks Quin kept giving him, he wasn’t doing a very good job.

The monitor chirped a warning a few times but didn’t go off, so he wasn’t terribly worried. What he wouldn’t give to have his old endurance back. This was getting ridiculous. He’d never taken so long to heal before.

He’d lagged some behind Quinlan, who turned and studied him, brows furrowed. “Maybe it was too early for me to bring you out here. Do you want to go back?”

“I’m fine. It’s just a little walk. I want to know what you have in the bag.”

“Doesn’t everyone? Ok,” he said, falling back and taking Obi-Wan’s arm in his own

 “Here’s the spot,” Quin said.

They’d left the dunes and were on a secluded area of beach, far enough from the center for them to be alone. Palms swayed in a gentle breeze while shore birds called. The sun was just beginning to set. It seemed too lovely a place to be harboring some kind of malevolence.

“Ok, Ben. Sit over there in the sand and look at the ocean while I set up. No peeking.”

Obi-Wan obeyed, laying back and catching his breath, letting the sun warm him. Some minutes later, Quin called to him. Obi-Wan turned around and saw that he’d set up a blanket on the sand, with a basket of food and some bubbly wine. He’d taken off his tunic and rolled up his trousers revealing strong, shapely calves and his very pleasantly sculpted chest. Obi-Wan felt short of breath again, this time for other reasons.

“You going to sit there staring or come over here and join me?”

Obi-Wan got up and started to scamper over, nearly falling over himself in the sand. So much for charm and charisma. Quin raised a brow and laughed at him.

“Take off your boots and make yourself comfortable. You could take off your robe too,” he said, smiling suggestively.

Obi-Wan hesitated for a moment, not feeling overly self-confident. He looked down and studied his boots, unsure about everything. The sense of malaise was growing.

“Come on, baby, no one relaxes on the beach in knee high leather boots.”

“I’m starting a trend,” he said, reluctantly pulling them off. He hadn’t worn an undertunic in deference to the heat, so he loosened the robes he was wearing. That would have to do.

“Come here and sit by me,” Quin said, shaking his head a little. “I’ll only eat you if you’re naughty.”

Obi-Wan raised his brows but obeyed, enjoying the proximity of all that smooth, glowing skin. “I hate to see what your definition of naughty is.”

“Come closer and you might just find out.”

Obi-Wan laughed and gave him a gentle shove. “You’d never be so lucky.”

“We’ll see.” Quin poured him a glass of the wine and opened the food basket, which looked delectable. “I hope you’re hungry.”

He unfortunately found it hard to recall the last time his was hungry, which was a strange thought. It was likely in the time before his meal choices were ration bars, ration cubes, ration sticks, rations squares, and ration drinks all which tasted of chalk and dust and cloying depression. It would almost be better if they didn’t even attempt a flavor. With that thought in mind, he studied the spread set ahead of him with delight.

There was some kind of thinly sliced meat, cheese, crackers, nuts, a diverse spread of fruits, honey, some kind of spiced sweet-bread, and chocolate. He felt his stomach twitch a little in interest. He couldn’t remember the last time he had chocolate.

“Quinlan Vos, where in the galaxy did you find all of this? This is certainly not Jedi approved fare.”

“Nah. I met some of non-Jedi staff and made a few contacts.”

Obi-Wan broke off a piece of chocolate and savored it. “Of course you did.”

Obi-Wan felt as melted inside as the chocolate in his mouth. He reached over and kissed Quinlan’s cheek, breathing in his faint hint of leather and brandy and sun-warmed skin.

“Quin, I, I’m amazed at all you’ve done for me, how kind and patient you’ve been. Look at all this.” Obi-Wan pointed to the blanket, the wine, the spread of wonderful food. “I feel selfish. I’ve done nothing for you. It’s my fault you’re even here.”

“You’ll make it up to me,” he said, kissing Obi-Wan’s forehead. “When you’re a little feistier. Plus I like making you happy.”

“You don’t have to do all of this to make me happy, even though I quite enjoy it. I’m so sorry I pushed you away in the past years. Forgive me?”

Quin looked away for a moment, studying the horizon. “Ben, I was never mad. There’s nothing to forgive.”

“I don’t deserve you.”

“That’s for me to decide. Now, stop your chattering and eat.”

They enjoyed their meal and then lay together on the blanket sipping the sweet, bubbly wine. Obi-Wan pillowed his head comfortably on Quin’s shoulder as they watched the sun set in a riot of purples, pinks, oranges, and blues.

“My arms going to sleep,” said Quin, gently pushing him onto the blanket. He leaned over Obi-Wan and kissed him sweetly, still tasting of chocolate and wine.

“Now I have something else I want to do for you,” he said in a husky voice, gently prying open Obi-Wan’s robe, lightly kissing his collar bones.

Obi-Wan tried not to tremble. “Quin, I, this didn’t work the last time… I’ll get too excited… and the monitor will shriek.”

“Then don’t get too excited. You just lay there. Let me enjoy you.”

What could he say to that? He did lay there as Quin explored his body with his very clever mouth, sending shivers of need rocking through him. Quin pulled down his trousers and, well, did some very creative things with his tongue, bringing him to a shuddering, planet-moving orgasm which left him incapable of speech other than incoherent groans.

Quin lay down beside him and toyed with his hair. “You really are the best lay.”

“Quinlan. I didn’t do anything.”

“I still enjoyed it. You make the prettiest noises.” He sat up and stretched, shaking out his braids. “Like I said before, you’ll make it up to me.”

“It seems I have a lot of making up to do.”

“Yeah, I’ll put in on your tab. I plan on enjoying every second of it.” Quinlan looked down at his chrono. “Shit. I have to meet Master Bril in a half an hour. It’s the best time to look at the lab.”

Obi-Wan tried to get up and felt overwhelming exhausted. He sunk back down to his knees and made the pretense of trying to clean up and put things away. Once his head stopped spinning, he got up again and followed Quinlan down the dune path.

Which was a good plan, except when it wasn’t. He just couldn’t seem to keep up in the slightest, limbs floppy and useless. Quin turned around and frowned at him.

“I knew I probably shouldn’t have dragged you out here.”

“Quin, it was worth it. I’m just… very tired.”

Quin walked over to him and squatted down. “Here. Climb on my back, like we did when we were kids.”

“Don’t be silly. You’ll fall over.”

“I really don’t think so. Climb on, just like Master Yoda.”

“Don’t you dare compare me to him,” Obi-Wan grumbled while he reluctantly did as he was told.

Quinlan stood up with his arms under Obi-Wan’s legs and ambled away, the bag on one shoulder as well.

“You’re going to hurt yourself,” Obi-Wan said into his shoulder.

“Nah, it’s like carrying a backpack. A noisy backpack.”

“Don’t be a martyr, Quin.”

He laughed, and Obi-Wan could feel it rumble in his chest. “Don’t you lecture me on martyrdom you ridiculous barve.”

Obi-Wan turned his thoughts away from his fatigue and their lovely night. “I was thinking… I have a check-up tomorrow. If Cara is there, I’ll try to talk to her alone or make some excuse to speak with her alone another time. Maybe she knows if something’s off about the lab.”

“Sounds good. I’ll see what I can find in the lab, and I’ll check out that guys chair.”

Once they got back, Quinlan ran off as Obi-Wan shook the sand out of his boots and went directly to bed.

Quinlan met up with Master Bril in her office, and she led him through a series of passage ways to the lab. It was a large room, currently filled only with droids. He could see a greenhouse off to one end. Numerous vials of odd colored substances lined the shelves.

“Can I poke around?”

“Please do. I’ll just sit and read.”

He wandered around the space, running his hands over the various benches and workspaces, over microscopes and other instruments, using his own special skill. He got no sense of that dark being he’d seen in the communication room from any of them, no feelings other than the usual jumble of normal day to day thoughts. The greenhouse offered no clues either, just a myriad of strange and ordinary plants and the smell of lush, wet earth.

When he was through, he wandered back over to Master Bril. “Anything?” she asked.

“No, not here.”

They walked out and as she shut the door he noticed a couple of locked doors towards the back of the lab that somehow he hadn’t noticed before. “Where do those doors lead?”

“Those are just private offices. My Padawan’s, and Master Zelm’s.”

Quinlan made a mental note of this in case something came up later. “I see. Do they know about what’s going on here?”

“I’ve mentioned it to them, but neither of them has any real leads that they can think of.”

She left him and went off to her own quarters. Quinlan went out to the main hall and found the chair Obi-Wan had mentioned and sat in it, hoping to not draw attention to himself. A few other nocturnal sorts were wandering about. He got a sense of anger and loss, of jumbled memories of a bombing and a mission gone wrong, a Padawan laying still and bloody. There was grief, heart-wrenching in its certainty, but no darkness or malice.

Shivering, he left the chair and walked back to their quarters. What did they know so far? Some, but not enough. A darksider here had received a transmission from the Sith Lord, that had originated from the Senate district. The Jedi from this facility that had died likely had some kind of Force block, though what was causing that was hard to say. That was it. He had to keep looking.

When Obi-Wan woke up the following morning, Quinlan was gone. He still felt terrible, the nausea and dizziness persistent. He stumbled out of bed and made tea, wrapping his cold fingers around the steaming mug and breathing in the smell. The taste of it was soothing.

He was startled from this bliss by someone at the intercom. “Master? Are you there? This was the only time I could stop by on the way back to Coruscant.”

Kriff and damn. Setting his tea down, Obi-Wan pulled on his trousers and wrapped his outer tunic around him. It would have to do. He opened the door and let Anakin in.

“Come in Anakin, sit down, do you want any…” He was interrupted by Anakin nearly attacking him with a massive hug, lifting him clear off the ground with his enthusiasm.

“Kriff, Master, I am so worried about you. You’ve sounded so weird.”

Anakin set Obi-Wan back down and he tried to straighten out his already half-haphazard robes to no good effect. His decorum seemed to be fleeing along with his dignity. Obi-Wan studied Anakin, who looked tired and worn, eyes dark circled.

“You still look terrible, Master. Aren’t they supposed to be helping you here?”

“You don’t look so great yourself, Anakin. I’ll order us some breakfast. Would you like caff?”

“I’d kill for caff, but breakfast? It’s after midday,” Anakin said, looking more worried if at all possible.

“Oh yes, I suppose it is,” he said, putting in a food order with his data pad.

Obi-Wan sat down on the couch beside his former Padawan. He was tired and discombobulated and out of sorts and just needed to say a few things.  It was time.  He couldn't wait any longer.

“Anakin, I fear I haven’t been the best Master for you. I, I was raised so differently than you were, and I tried to teach you as I had been taught. It wasn’t the right thing. I never meant to hold you back. You’ve always been stronger than me, I just wanted to help you focus it. I’m sorry if I wronged you.”

Obi-Wan looked up and saw that Anakin’s eyes were wide with shock and full of tears. “No, Master…” he said softly.

“I haven’t been very honest with you either. You mean more to me than you could ever imagine. I could never find the right way to tell you, so I’m telling you now. You are very important to me and very dear.”

Anakin just stared at him, expression stark and yearning.

Obi-Wan needed to keep up his momentum and finish what he had to say. “I haven’t lost my mind and I mean it. I worry we’re growing apart and I’m worried about you. If something is wrong, please tell me. I only want to help you. Is everything all right?”

“Yes and no, Master,” Anakin said, fidgeting with his glove, eyes averted. “I need to tell you a few things. Stuff I should have told you a long time ago.”

“Go ahead Anakin.”

“Master, I, uh Senator Amidala and I…”

“Are together. Yes Anakin, I’m aware of that.”

“There’s more. We’re actually married.”

Obi-Wan took a deep breath. “I see.”

“Are you going to tell the council?”

“No! Anakin, no.” He didn’t know what to do with this, but he’d never tell.

“And there’s more. Before I married Padme, before I came for you on Geonosis…” Anakin hung his head in his hands, grief and anger and despair bleeding through their bond.

“Go on.”

“Master, promise that you’ll forgive me…”

“Anakin, I will. Please go on.”

“We went to Tatooine. My mother had been taken by the sand people.” He was shaking with sobs at this point. “I went after her… Master… I killed them all. All of them.”

Obi-Wan felt the color leave his face. It wasn’t surprising though. When Anakin had showed up in that arena he’d felt like a bleeding wound in the Force. Anakin must have thought Obi-Wan would have been too distracted to notice, but he had.

Obi-Wan couldn’t think of anything to say. He was horrified and yet, it was over and done. There was nothing to do about it now but to move on, and he needed time to process all of this. He took Anakin in his arms and held him to his chest, like he had when Anakin had been a terrified child. Anakin sobbed into his robe for some time, grief calming from a hurricane into a steady rainfall.

“I’ve been having weird dreams… I can’t sleep. You die sometimes. Padme dies sometimes. There’s fire and ash,” Anakin said, voice muffled by Obi-Wan’s robes.

Obi-Wan rubbed his back. It was a little awkward with a grown Anakin, but this was what he needed. “I’ve had them too. Something is changing Anakin. I think something is about to happen. We think there is a Sith in the Senate.”

Anakin let go of him and backed away. “What?!”

Obi-Wan explained the transmission that Quinlan had looked at and his conversation with Dooku. He explained about the dead Jedi, and their theories. The Force seemed to be telling him that it was better for Anakin to know.

“Who could it be?” Anakin asked, a quizzical expression on his face.

“I really don’t know. Just keep your ears and eyes open, Anakin. There’s much going on that we don’t yet understand.”

Anakin nodded solemnly. “I will.”

They were distracted for a moment by the arrival of the food. They both picked at it half-heartedly, too keyed up on unfamiliar emotions to feel hungry. Anakin set his fork down and peered at Obi-Wan.

“I mean it Master, you look bad. I think you look worse than when you left. What if this evil person is attacking you? You need to get better, not be somewhere you could get hurt.”

The thought had crossed his mind, but he’d pushed it away as a byproduct of anxiety. “I think I would know if I was being attacked in some way… And Quinlan will watch out for me.”

“Those other Jedi obviously didn’t know!! I don’t like it. I think you should go back to Master Che.”

Obi-Wan shuddered. “Force forbid, Anakin. I don’t think they are any less adept here. I do have a check-up in a few hours and we’ll see what they have to say. I was feeling better until a couple of days ago. I’m sure it’s just a minor setback.”

“Maybe.” Anakin didn’t sound convinced. “I’m not really supposed to be here,” he said, looking at his chrono. “I’ve been called to report to the Council in a few hours.”

“Go then, dear one. I’m glad you shared those things with me. Watch out for anything suspicious and talk to me if you need to.”

“Are you sure you aren’t possessed Master? I’m not sure if I know you.” Anakin said, smiling.

“Quite sure,” Obi-Wan replied. “I’ve just had some time to think.”

Chapter Text

After Anakin left, Obi-Wan’s head was swimming. He acknowledged that he wasn’t the best at expressing feelings, but he would try if it meant helping his former Padawan. There was so much to think about, so much to process, yet he was relieved Anakin had told him everything.

Obi-Wan shivered a little, his brain too muzzy to make heads or tails of it all. He looked out the window, noticing the light glinting off the water. He knew he shouldn’t just be sitting here; he had the feeling there was something he should have been doing. Looking at his chrono, he saw that it was time for his check-up.

Getting up quickly was a mistake. His vision tunneled to black, and he fell to the ground, covered in cold sweat. Blast and damn, what was wrong? He’d eaten today, drank water, taken his medications all like a good boy and yet here he was, on the floor again. Dread came over him; dread that his body had permanently betrayed him.

He tried to sit up, resulting in waves of paralyzing nausea. He didn’t know where Quin was and didn’t want to worry him yet, so he commed for medical assistance. It was time for his appointment anyway.

“Yes, hello, I need…” he paused, swallowing back the sick feeling as his vision threatened to fade again. This was so undignified and yet, was his current reality. He let go of his pride. “need some help, ah, getting off the floor.”

He didn’t remember much after that, which was good for what was left of his ego. Sometime later, he realized he was back in one of the treatment rooms with Masters Bril and Arren, as well as Cara looking down at him thoughtfully.

Obi-Wan tried for a friendly grin. He hoped it didn’t come across as a grimace. “Well I see that I’ve gathered quite the audience. I hope this means good news?”

Master Bril approached him with the soft, sad look one gives the hopelessly simple minded or the terminal. He shivered as she sat down beside him.

“Your heart is not recovering as it should. I’m not certain as to why.” She wrapped cool fingers around his wrist, feeling the pulse. “The rhythm has been more erratic, and your blood pressure was very low when you arrived here.”

Obi-Wan tried not to despair. It was not the Jedi way. He should take everything as it came with calm equanimity. “The monitor hasn’t been alarming… I have felt worse the last 36 hours or so,” he admitted.

Master Bril nodded. “It hasn’t been quite fast enough for the alarm, but still too fast.”

“There must be something we can do?” Obi-Wan asked.

“Well, yes, there must,” she said, rubbing at her forehead and sighing deeply. “I have you on some intravenous medications to stabilize things, but it’s temporary. I’ve been talking with some civilian doctors, and I think we need to reset your heart’s electrical pathways.”

Obi-Wan couldn’t hide a grimace at this point. “Sounds lovely. When do we start?”

“It’s not as simple as in the Force-null. The Force is trying to heal you, but it’s not doing it correctly and is causing the arrhythmias. We’d have to do a procedure that combines civilian and Force healing, followed by some time in bacta. It will take a few days to plan. For now, you have to stay in these rooms.”

Obi-Wan nodded and sank back onto the pillow, exhausted and perplexed. He allowed himself to doze for a little while, drifting in and out of awareness. He heard the low whirring of droids puttering around. They were monitoring him, he supposed.

In this ephemeral state, he started to overhear some conversations. It sounded like the current one was just outside the door. He strained his ears, hearing what sounded like a man and a woman arguing. Sick tension hung in the Force like some kind of dark miasma.

“No. I won’t do it!”

“Padawan, please. I need all the help I can get. This will be a challenging healing.”

“I can’t heal him. I won’t do it.”

“Why? Why won’t you help me?”

“I just can’t.” A sigh almost like a sob. “I just can’t. I have no way to explain it.”


“What does it matter! It probably won’t work. I’m not wasting my energy on this. I’m exhausted as it is.”

“Padawan, what’s going on with you?”

“Nothing!” He yelled, then spoke again in a softer voice. “Nothing. As you know, there’s too much to do and not enough of us to do it. I don’t know why we’re wasting our time on one man… I’ve got to go.”

“Padawan, please think on it. Please?” A pause and a little more firmly, “It must be done.”

The other’s voice went low and flat. “Fine. I’ll assist if I must.”

A third voice, higher and sweeter than the other two joined in. “Master, what’s going on?”

“Nothing, Cara! Leave it.”

The voices dissipated and a moment later, and someone entered the room, anguish bleeding through their shields. Obi-Wan opened his eyes to see it was Cara, flush faced and scowling. She evened out her expression when she saw he was awake.

“Oh, Master Kenobi! I’m sorry you’re back here.”

“So am I!” he said, giving her what he hoped was a friendly and encouraging smile. “Is everything all right, Cara? I heard raised voices.”

“Just a stupid argument between my Master and Grandmaster.” She frowned for a second, clearly formulating her next few words. “They…They’re both overworked.”

“Have you talked to your Master about getting back in the lab?”

She wrung her hands a little. “No. He’s just been so weird lately. Not himself.”

“In what way?”

She looked unsure about answering but continued on. “I can’t seem to get him out of the lab. He’s distracted and won’t talk to me,” she fumed. “It’s not like him.”

“When did this start?” Obi-Wan asked. He didn’t want to seem too pushy or inquisitive, but he guessed he’d stumbled on to something just by the virtue of being in the right place at the right time.

“A few months ago, I guess.”

“Did something seem to set it off?”

“I don’t know. He won’t talk to me.” She ran her hands through her short, blond hair. “I shouldn’t talk about this anymore. I’m supposed to be taking care of you, not worrying about other stuff.”

“It’s a welcome distraction, young one. I need something to think about other than my deteriorating health,” Obi-Wan replied.

Arren Zelm was definitely a person of interest in this whole debacle. He was looking more suspicious. Quin had searched the lab, though, and hadn’t found anything. Maybe Master Zelm was just overworked as he said? Obi-Wan doubted it.

Lost in thought, he continued to drowse for a while. A few hours later, Quin came blustering in, clearly unhappy with the situation. Obi-Wan opened his eyes and saw that Master Bril was back in the room as well, fussing with some medications in the far corner.

Mindful of his monitors and lines, Quinlan strode over and took Obi-Wan in his arms, holding him tight. Aware that Master Bril was still there, Obi-Wan gently extracted himself and sat up, leaning against the wall behind him.

“What in the hell is going on? I heard you had to call for help,” Quin asked, sitting beside him.

Obi-Wan cast a nervous glance towards Master Bril, who looked like she was stealing herself to deliver the bad news. Obi-Wan cut her off, to spare her a little. “Things are a little worse, Quin. They may have to do a procedure on my heart.”

Quinlan was fuming, arms crossed about his chest. “I don’t like this. I’m sorry, Master, but I don’t trust anything that’s going on here.” He looked to Obi-Wan. “We need to get you out of here. Back to the Temple.”

Nima studied the ground, expression uncharacteristically bleak. “I’m sorry. I did check for any known poisons or toxins and the results were negative.” Her lekku twitched a little, and she looked back up at Obi-Wan. “Given the mystery, I understand the need for caution. I’ll discuss your return with Master Che.”

Obi-Wan sighed and rubbed at his beard. “Don’t be too hasty yet. Can Quin and I talk privately for a moment?” he asked Master Bril.

She nodded and too quickly turned to leave. “Certainly. I’ll be back in a little while.”

Obi-Wan lowered his voice, aware that someone could be listening. “Quin, dear one, just wait. I’m in the best position to investigate. I’m in the middle of this. It puts me in a good position to spy.”

Quin shook his head. “You’re too sick. I can’t let you be the bait.”

“Please Quin, Please,” Obi-Wan pleaded, taking his hand. “The Force tells me we need to follow this through till the end. Anyway, I’ve mastered the art of being the bait.”

Quin reached up and cupped the side of his face. “Obi, I don’t want to lose you. I’m not sure I could take it.”

“Dear heart, remember that talk we had about attachment?” Obi-Wan reached over and caressed Quin’s cheek. “Something is happening; the galaxy is changing. We need to follow this through. If it means risking my life, so be it. We risk our lives constantly. We have to follow as the Force wills it.”

“Fine, but I don’t have to like it. I have a few conditions.”

Obi-Wan laughed. “I would be disappointed if you didn’t.”

“I want Bant to examine you. We know she’s not involved in this. And we need to talk to Vokara- about our suspicions and about your health.”

“I agree with your conditions. Come sit beside me for a minute,” Obi-Wan said, scooting over on the narrow bed.

Quin joined him, putting his arm around Obi-Wan’s shoulders. It was a tight fit for two grown men, but at least that made for enforced cuddling. “You could get hurt too, you know. This case certainly isn’t allowing you much rest,” Obi-Wan said.

“I’ll rest when I’m dead,” Quin grumbled.

Obi-Wan gave his side a poke. “Remember the waterfall? When we were Padawans?”

Quin groaned. “How could I forget? I especially loved when you came tumbling after me.”

“Quin, I’m not going to leave you to fall alone. Whatever happens, I’m going with you.”

“You sure are sentimental today, baby. I like it.” Quin kissed his forehead. “There’ll be no Qui-Gon Jinn to rescue us.”

Obi-Wan felt the usual dull ache in his chest at the mention of his old Master. “We’re adults this time, Quin. We’ll rescue ourselves.”

“Shit, you’re probably right. For once.”

Obi-Wan would have shoved him, but that would have ended with them both on the floor. “Quin, something else happened today, something that supports my reasons to stay here and spy.”

“Yeah?” Quin asked, his voice rumbling through him.

“I overheard an argument between Masters Zelm and Bril.” Obi-Wan went on to share the extent of the conversation with him and went on to tell him about Cara’s concerns.

“He’s definitely the right type. Humanoid, access to all the patients, works in the lab, hasn’t been acting right… but why would he do this?”

“I don’t know. Maybe we can get some background information on him?” Obi-Wan asked.

“I can look into it. The bigger question remains how? How is he doing it?” Quinlan played with a braid thoughtfully. “They checked your blood for toxins, didn’t they?”

“Yes, but we could have Bant draw some more and send it to the Temple.”

“I like that plan,” Quin said, giving his shoulders a squeeze. “I really didn’t see much in the lab, but I didn’t go into the personal offices. I’m going to have to find a way to get in there again.”

“Quin, it’s sure to be locked and coded.”

“Yeah, I know. We’ll have talk to Master Bril about it. I think our suspicions are really going to upset her.”

“Yes, I heard my name?” This was the fortuitous time the Twi’lek healer chose to come back into the room.

Quin rapidly shifted off the bed, sitting back in the chair. If she noticed their cuddling, she had the grace not to mention it.

“These rooms secure?” Quinlan asked.

“I, well I would think so,” Master Bril replied.

“Come closer anyway,” he replied, beckoning for her to come sit on the edge of the cot.

“I need to look into the offices in the lab. Can you get me in?”

“I can, but why?” An anguished look passed across her face, and she twisted her hands together.

“Just some suspicions is all,” Obi-Wan said softly. “Can Quin look?”

She looked bereft. “I can’t lie to everyone, not anymore. They’re starting to be suspicious anyway; they know about the strange deaths.”

She paused thoughtfully for a moment, then looked at Quin pointedly. “You will search all the offices, including my own, after I’m able to inform the other healers.” By the anguish on her face, it was clear that she knew that they were starting to suspect someone.

Quin softened his voice, agreeing with her. “It’s probably better to not draw suspicion on any one person. We don’t want them to spook and blow all our leads.”

“Yes. No one here knows about your unique skills,” she said, giving Quin a resigned look. “so it’s not as if anyone can truly hide.”

“Nope,” Quin said, standing up to stretch. “It’s not that I don’t trust you, but I want Bant to look him over. Someone impartial to this whole situation.”

Master Bril acquiesced and made to leave again. “I’d understand if you didn’t trust me. I’ll send for her.”

Bant arrived a few moments later, looking a little tired and harried. As soon as she saw Obi-Wan she ran over to him, hugging him tight.

“Oh, Obi,” she said, voice muffled into his shoulder. “What a mess. Only you,” she said, shaking her head. “Only you.”

Master Bril turned away and walked towards the door, still looking crestfallen. “I’ll be going for a while, call me if you need me,” she said as she left.

“I thought you were getting better?” Bant asked, getting out some instruments from the cabinets so that she could do her own poking and prodding. Obi-Wan tried not to shudder.

He stretched his arms behind his head, still feeling like his equilibrium was lost. “The last day or so has been worse, dearest Bant.

She studied his heart rhythm on the available telemetry strips and noted his recorded vital signs, frowning. Quin watched her, tapping his foot impatiently, but this was the man who kicked down doors. Bant looked up from her work and shook her head fondly. “What is it, Quin?”

“I’m afraid that someone is poisoning him. The same person behind all this,” he said, gesturing wildly.

“The others weren’t sick when they left, were they?”

“No, it seems like they thought they were healed- or thought they were,” Quin said, ruffling Obi-Wan’s hair like he didn’t care that Bant was in the room. Bant, kindly, didn’t mention it or avert her gaze.

“They could be giving Obi something else like a toxin or something to slow his healing, Quin said, scratching his head. “Or they could be giving him the same thing in different quantities.”

“I guess that it’s possible. Your blood work doesn’t show any toxins,” Bant said, reading the datapad.

“I don’t trust the tests. I don’t think we can trust anything here,” Quin said, firmly.

“Since I’ve been left out of this conversation like the helpless invalid that I am, I’d like to interject that I don’t think Master Bril is untrustworthy.”

“I don’t think she means anyone harm, but I don’t think she’s above protecting someone close to her,” Quin replied.

“I’m not sure I agree. I don’t think she would do anything to harm her patients, ” Obi-Wan said.

“I didn’t say that she’d do it willingly.” Quin rubbed Obi-Wan’s shoulders with his large, warm hands. “It never hurts to get a second opinion. Bant, can you to look him over, see if you come to the same agreement as Master Bril. I’m not letting him have some crazy procedure without you and Master Che agreeing.”

Obi-Wan huffed, but Bant nodded in agreement. “That sounds reasonable. It shouldn’t take me long.”

“There’s one more thing I’d like you to do.”

She rolled her eyes playfully. “Only for you two.”

“Can you draw some of our blood and send it to the Temple for analysis? I don’t want it tainted by anyone else.”

“Sure. Both of you?”

“Yeah, as a comparison. And I guess we both could be poisoned, though I feel fine.”

“So did the others,” Obi-Wan said, frowning.

Bant sighed in response. “There’s a courier that leaves for the Temple later today. I’ll bring it myself, then I’ll meet with Master Che in person.”

Obi-Wan had a sudden longing to just return to the wars. “That’s a lot of fuss.”

Quin literally put his foot down. “Obi, this is important. Not just for you, but for the galaxy. I’m sure we’re onto something.”

“I believe you,” Obi-Wan replied, trying to reassure Quin and himself. This was all so overwhelming.

Bant finished her exam, drew the blood, and transferred some information into her data pad. “Behave, Obi, and don’t try to leave. You still need those IV medications. As soon as I know more, I’ll let you know. I should be to the Temple by the afternoon.”

She was almost out the door when she glanced back at them. “And you two- maybe try being a little more subtle.”

This left them with a few blessed moments alone. Obi-Wan grinned and made like he was going to shove Quin away. “Really, did you have to be so damn affectionate in front of her,” he asked, trying to look affronted.

Quinlan crossed his arms about his chest and shrugged. “What can I say? You’re just too kriffing irresistible.”

“You’re just too damn ridiculous.”

“Bant doesn’t care. I can’t hardly see her reporting it to the Council. Even those useless barves probably have better things to do than worry about us.”

Obi-Wan raised a brow. “Need I remind you again that I am one of those barves?”

Quin laughed. “I try to forget. Denial is an effective coping strategy.”

The rest of the day passed uneventfully. Quinlan refused to leave his side, working mysteriously on a datapad, awaiting the time Master Bril would let him back in the lab to have a peek at the offices. He had brought Obi-Wan a few holobooks to read, including a fascinating one on the migration patterns of aiwha during their wintering season.

There were more tests and things and medication adjustments and other boring nonsense. He was allowed to totter about the halls with his medication bag, like the sad ghost of his former self. He was starting to get angry. Obi-Wan supposed it was selfish, but part of him really wanted to catch this bastard and be done with it all. The wiser part of him realized that the ‘bastard’ had not caused his initial illness, he himself had, and having a scapegoat was not the Jedi way. Retribution also certainly wasn’t, but it sure would be pleasant.

As promised, Bant contacted them the following evening. Her hologram appeared, looking pensive. “Well boys, what do you want to hear first?”

“The blood result,” Quinlan said firmly.

“Well, it’s kind of interesting…”

“Just spit it out.”

Bant huffed and rolled her eyes. “Fine, bossy. To be honest we really thought there was nothing at first until I ran it again. There’d been what looked like an inconsequential anomaly on the first run- I’d thought it was a lab error, but then I saw it on the second go as well.”

“What is it?”

“That’s the thing, I’m not sure. We concentrated the sample and are running it again. It wasn’t there on your blood work, Quin, or on any of the controls we ran. It’ll take some time.”

“What about Obi-Wan’s condition?”

“Master Che and I reviewed all the tests and we agree with Master Bril. Master Che thinks that the procedure will help immensely. You’ll have to be careful after that, but she thinks it will work. Master Che is going to come back with me when I return.”

Obi-Wan tried not to grow increasingly overwhelmed. “Isn’t that a bit much? She’s needed at the Temple.”

Bant grinned. “Don’t tell anyone, but there’s a few people who are attached to the idea of your well-being. It’s possible one or two of them are on the council.” Bant shrugged. “Honestly, Obi, I think she likes you.”

“The horror,” Obi-Wan gasped, in mock terror.

The idea that he was more than just a cog in a wheel warmed him. He knew he was more than that to Quin, and that was enough, for the most part. It was surprising and welcoming to know that others cared. After Bant left, they were alone, and Quinlan demonstrated just how much he cared, pulling Obi-Wan in for some gentle and then not so gentle kisses. If Obi-Wan wasn’t ill and there wasn’t a war, things would have been very, very nice.

Quinlan was pulled away by Master Bril, who informed him that it was time for his investigations. She’d been able to notify the healers of his investigations and clear out the offices. He searched Master Bril’s first and found nothing of interest other than heaps of datapads of medical records.

He searched Cara’s and Master Bril’s Padawan’s shared office and found nothing out of the ordinary, then Bant’s which of course was pointless. He continued into a few offices of the junior healers, but saved the best for last, heading into Master Zelm’s.

Within moments, he knew he was in the right place. Quin shut the door behind him and poked about for any hidden cameras. The office was a little cluttered; there were some hand drawn notes on the surface of the desk, what looked like molecules. The usual stacks of data pads were present. There were no mysterious vials or substances. A half-eaten ration bar sat sadly amongst the fray.

Concentrating and closing his eyes, he placed his hand on the desk. Overwhelming darkness surround him, and he almost pulled his hand away. It was almost like a fog, clouding his thoughts. The memories conjured were of malice and greed and desire. Not lust per se, but something else equally yearning. He caught a brief glimpse of the memory of a conversation with the hooded Sith, though it was fragmented and weak. This was definitely their man; it was the same presence as in the earlier transmission he’d seen.

Quin took a few deep breaths and evened out his features. He couldn’t go out of the room all in a kriffing bluster or they’d know. As he left, he spotted a cannister on the edge of the desk. It was open and full of tea leaves. A half-filled mug sat beside it. Even baddies had their vices, he guessed, leaving the room.

They’d have to play this carefully. He didn’t want Master Zelm to bolt or go on the defensive, or the offensive for that matter. They needed to follow him to the Sith. The easy part was over. Now, they needed to figure out how he was doing it. Once Quin came out of the lab, a small crowd of healers was assembled.

“What did you find?” the Padawan Cara asked.

Quinlan had perfected his Sabac face over many years and was glad to put it to use. He gave his usual nonchalant shrug, molding his face into a harmless and hapless grin.

“Nothing in particular.”