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.
“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?”
“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.
Thank you so much for reading!!
The Quinwan will happen, my friends, just not quite yet :D
I'm writing this as a bit of a self-indulgent distraction in the midst of working on my big bang fic, which is kicking my ass. I will try to update regularly, but work is quite busy so I can't guarantee.
Thanks so much to the always wonderful picavenger14 for beta reading this for me! Any nonsense is definitely my own.
Welcome back friends! I hope you enjoy. This will be a bit of a slow burn :D
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
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.
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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.
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(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
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…”
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.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed!
If you'd like, let me know what you think!
Thanks as always to my dear friend picavenger14 for beta reading this for me! Any nonsense is my own.
darthplodder on Tumblr if you're interested
I hope you enjoy!
And I'm borrowing my healer OC from another fic of mine because I can.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“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.
For various reasons, writing has been a struggle lately, but it seems to be getting better.
Thank you for reading!!
If you'd like, let me know what you think :D
Thank you to everyone who's left comments or kudos; I really appreciate it!! And big thanks to my ever patient and helpful beta picavenger14.
darthplodder on Tumblr. Ok.
This story has taken over my brain, so we might be in for the long haul-maybe C:
I hope you enjoy it!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
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.
Thank you for reading! Thanks to everyone who left comments or kudos, I really appreciate it :D!
If you'd like, let me know what you think!
I borrowed my OC from another story (Nima) because I can, thought this story and the other are not in the same 'verse.
darthplodder on Tumblr if you'd like to know c:
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?”
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.
Thank you so much for reading and for the kudos and kind words!! I really appreciate it c:
Not a quinwan heavy chapter, but some stuff needed to happen XD
Thanks of course to my fine beta reader picavenger14. She is best.
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Well, I've been working a lot lately, so I'm not sure about this, but I can't look at it any more.
I hope that you enjoy it!
A warning that the burn is slow
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“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.”
“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.
Thank you for reading and all of your support! I truly appreciate it :D
If you'd like, let me know what you think? Writing a 'mystery' of sorts is tough.
Thanks to my beta, picavenger14 for helping me out! What would I do without you? (Use bowel instead of bowl, apparently)
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