Title: A Padawan's Priorities
Timeframe: JA (Obi-Wan is 18)
Category: Completely Random Mush (and proud of it)
Summary: Qui-Gon takes on a big, important project and is soon completely absorbed and stressed out. Obi-Wan refuses to take no for an answer.
Characters: Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi
Author's Note: Semi-sequel to "Priorities"—certain references will make more sense if you read that first, but it isn't required. For Layren! This is in response to her persistent begging for Qui-mush. This fic has no other reason for existing. Really. It's quite, quite useless. Nothing but marshmallow fluff with a little pink sugar sprinkled on top. (Mmmm . . . marshmallow chicks . . . must go buy half-off Easter candy . . .) I apologize for the lack of torture.
Disclaimer: Yeah, yeah, we all know what goes here. All hail the Flanneled One:abject genuflection:
"I can't believe I let him talk me into this again!"
"Aw, does my Master have a headache?"
Qui-Gon looked up and aimed a glare at his cheeky apprentice as the boy approached him from the kitchen, carrying a steaming mug. "For your information, he does," he growled. "Not that you would care, insolent child of mine."
Obi-Wan slapped his hand to his heart and staggered a pace back, still keeping the mug perfectly level. "Master! You wound me!" He straightened with a grin and finished his journey to the common room couch. "I made you some tea."
Qui-Gon eyed him doubtfully. "Marjili with cinna?" He was a bit bewildered by his Padawan's obsession with that particular blend. It was nicely spicy, true, but rather too sweet for his tastes.
"You think I would waste my favorite tea on you, ungrateful Master of mine? We go through that stuff much too quickly as it is." Obi-Wan waved the mug under the older Jedi's nose. "Come now, guess again."
Qui-Gon caught a tantalizing whiff of the hot beverage and hesitated for a moment, then tried to wave it away. "Obi-Wan, I don't have time for this."
"There's always time for tea." Obi-Wan sat next to him on the couch, glancing over the datapads and flimsies spread over Qui-Gon's lap and most of the low table in front of him. "At least you have two weeks to organize the tournament this time, instead of just one. Isn't that easier? And you already did it once, so you aren't figuring it out as you go."
"Yes, but a lot of things change in four years. The procedures for reserving the main salle are entirely different, for instance, and of course there's a whole new batch of Padawans, and . . ." He paused, realizing that Obi-Wan was ignoring him, and was, in fact, removing all the datapads and flimsies from the table and setting them in tidy little piles on the floor. "What are you doing, Obi-Wan?"
"You need a break, Master." Obi-Wan tried to take the datapad from his hand, but Qui-Gon stubbornly held on. After a brief tug-of-war, the Padawan acquiesced with a sigh. "Fine, keep it. But drink the tea. It's zubreken blend, your latest favorite."
"Oh." Feeling slightly chastened somehow, Qui-Gon accepted the mug and hunched over it, sniffing it deeply as he waited for it to cool enough to drink, his eyes still fixed on the datapad in his hand. After a moment he became aware of an unaccustomed pressure on his neck and shoulders and sat a bit straighter in surprise. "Obi-Wan, what are you doing?"
"I'm helping your headache, Master. Please relax, or this is going to be much more difficult than it needs to be."
Qui-Gon almost started to relax, then remembered himself and tensed up again, twisting away from the questing fingers with a low growl. "Obi-Wan, this is not a good time for you to practice your massage skills. Or lack thereof."
"This is the perfect time," Obi-Wan contradicted. "Now hold still."
The older Jedi huffed. True, it was sweet of the boy to try to help him and all, but dash it all to pieces, he was still the Master here, and he was not taking orders from his eighteen-year-old apprentice! "Did you get knighted while I wasn't looking? Obi-Wan, stop!"
He tried to pull away, but Obi-Wan held onto his shoulders with sharp fingers, and he jerked back again, trying to buck the boy off. Unfortunately, the jerk was a bit quicker and harder than he intended, and he felt the Padawan's face bounce off his shoulder blade and heard a muffled yelp.
"Oww. Mazder, thad hurd."
"Sorry," he mumbled, rather ungraciously. He looked over his shoulder at his Padawan, who was rubbing his nose with one hand, the other still clenched on the back of his collar. "Shouldn't you be studying or something?"
Obi-Wan released a odd-sounding sigh, wheezing, with the edge of a whistle. "No. I'b finished for doday. Are you goig to led me helb you now? I'b nod stobbig you frob workig."
"Not for lack of trying."
Obi-Wan sniffed hard and gave his nose one last rub, then returned that hand to the man's shoulder. Qui-Gon refrained from commenting. Anything to make the boy hush so he could concentrate. "Force, Masder, you're grumby when you're stressed."
"Not as grumpy as I will be if you don't stop making impertinent comments."
Obi-Wan hummed a nasal little tune, getting down to business with his fingers. And a very good business it was, too. He could set up shop.
After a time Qui-Gon cleared his throat. "I'm sorry I maligned your skills earlier."
The boy's wandering little hum became decidedly more chipper. He'd had to get up on his knees on the couch to get the right leverage, and now he lowered himself down to sit next to his Master, wrapping an arm familiarly around his shoulders and craning his neck in an attempt to read the datapad the man still held. Obi-Wan putting an arm around Qui-Gon was quite a different gesture than the same thing going the other way—the boy had to strain to encircle that broad back, and Qui-Gon imagined that it looked something like a feli kitten trying to snuggle up to a malia pup.
Still, the simple act warmed him, the gentle openness of his Padawan. Obi-Wan was not much for casual contact, even with his friends. While he appreciated it very much and returned affection quite eagerly when it was offered, he almost never initiated it himself, almost as if he was afraid to intrude his presence where it wasn't wanted. Apparently, in this case he had decided that the intrusion was necessary, and he attacked with all the single-mindedness of purpose that impressed Qui-Gon on the battlefield and irritated him at home.
"Obi-Wan, you know I don't like it when people read over my shoulder."
The infuriating young Padawan just hummed complacently. "So, you're going to present the awards personally this time?" he asked conversationally. "You know you'll have to shave your head, paint it purple, and refer to yourself in the third person. It's tradition now."
Qui-Gon shook his head firmly. "Under no condition will I ever shave my head."
"But you're all right with the purple and third person part?" Obi-Wan chuckled, bristly hair brushing Qui-Gon's collar as he shook his head. "My master. Such priorities."
Priorities. Qui-Gon froze, eyes widening slightly. He slowly lowered the datapad, craning slightly to look at the young face nestled against his upper arm, upturned to watch him with eyes that were much too big and much too blue. "Padawan, are you trying to tell me something?"
Obi-Wan merely blinked. "Not following, Master."
Qui-Gon sighed in mingled exasperation and concern. "Do you want to talk about something? Tell me about a problem you're having? Is some aspect of your life in need of my attention?"
"Am I neglecting you?"
"Oh." Obi-Wan gave him a beatific smile, sunny and bright. "Not at all, Master. You're still doing just about everything with me, y'know: meals, meditation, afternoon sparring, everything. You've asked me if my stomach hurts an average of seven times a day since Mace talked you into this."
It was Qui-Gon's turn to blink. "That many?"
The boy nodded solemnly. "Though you don't have to, of course. My appendix can only burst once."
Qui-Gon grimaced and rubbed a hand over his forehead. His eyes felt sore and dry, his head swimming with weariness. "All that, yet you continue to pester me. What am I doing wrong?" he asked of the universe in general.
"You're killing yourself by attempting to do all the work in a few scant hours in the evenings," Obi-Wan scolded. "I truly just want you to take a break, Master. You don't have to do this alone. Make Master Windu help. You're keeping a corner market on guilt, as usual—use some of it to trap our favorite councilor."
The Master grunted, continuing to study his datapad. After a time, he realized that his eyes were traveling over the same information several times, not absorbing a word. When he blinked, it took longer and longer for his eyes to open again.
"Master, I think you're feeling sleepy."
"In fact, I think you're feeling so sleepy that you'll just go ahead and lay down right here."
Qui-Gon felt himself being urged down to stretch out on the couch, his head pressed to lay on a pillow in Obi-Wan's lap. He didn't fight all that hard, really. One of the boy's hands gently pried the datapad from his loosened grip, and the other carded through his long hair, massaging his scalp. The big Jedi Master all but purred, barely conscious at this point.
"Hmmm, what is my Master working on so obsessively? Matching the Padawans in the first tree? You know, I've been spending a lot of time in the salle lately. Probably more than you or Master Purple-Head. I know most of the Padawans and their styles pretty well. So here's the deal: you sleep, and I'll work this out and let you revise it in the morning."
Sleep pressed Qui-Gon yet more firmly downward, but did not quite have the strength to push him under. He tipped precariously on the razor edge of sleep—the slightest shove would send him over, yet he did not fall. At last he realized what was going on. "It's you, isn' it?" he slurred.
"Me, what?" The voice was entirely too innocent to be real, but the gentle fingers in his hair prevented Qui-Gon from giving the Padawan the smack he was asking for. They also prevented him from opening his eyes more than a slit.
This was too comfortable to spoil.
Qui-Gon barely managed to make out the blurry features of his defiant, disobedient—but very sweet and loving—and altogether irritating apprentice as the boy focused on the datapad. "You . . . 'r' makin' me drowsy," he accused. "Gonna have to work on thish skill later . . . y'don' quite have it unner control."
An evil little chuckle rumbled through Obi-Wan's chest. "So certain, are you? I have you exactly where I want you. If not, why can't you throw off the suggestion?"
"Rebel-yus, stubborn, sneaky, manip'lative liddle Pad-wan . . ." Qui-Gon accused, waving a finger vaguely in the direction of Obi-Wan's face.
"Now, Master, if I have to tie you down with electrocuffs to make you listen to me for five minutes, I will do so. I simply thought this might be a slightly more comfortable way of doing it, and less likely to get me thrown out of the order." Again that sunny, beatific smile that Qui-Gon could never quite prevent from melting his heart, try as he might.
"I'm lissning," he grumbled. "What you wanna say t'me?"
"Only that you don't have to do everything all by yourself—be the perfect Master and the perfect teacher and the perfect tournament organizer and however many other roles you've dragged onto yourself. You once told me that while we must focus on the mission, whatever that may be, it should not be to my detriment. Nor to yours."
"S'true," Qui-Gon admitted.
"Good then, you'll let me help! And Master Windu, and anyone else we can draft . . . er, recruit."
Qui-Gon mumbled something. He hazily suspected that Obi-Wan had chosen that moment to strengthen the sleep suggestion, making speech more difficult. He'd never guessed just how . . . devious the boy could be.
Obi-Wan sighed contentedly, snuggling himself into the couch, settling Qui-Gon's head more firmly in his lap. "It's all settled then. You can go to sleep now, Master. I'll show you the tournament tree in the morning."
But the Padawan didn't force him under, at least not immediately, and Qui-Gon drifted for a moment. Despite his very deep irritation with the situation, he also felt strangely soothed, comforted, and pleased.
"'M sorry I said you would not care, Pad-wan," he murmured as he let his weariness engulf him.
"It's all right, Master. I know it was the stress talking." Qui-Gon thought he felt the brush of a kiss on his forehead, but couldn't be sure as sleep took him. It was certainly out of character for his reserved apprentice. Perhaps he had imagined it.
Obi-Wan's words chased him into the darkness, leaving a deep contentment in their wake. "You said that I'm your first priority. Well, you are mine, my Master. And I wouldn't have it any other way . . . ."