:: I can only apologise for the lengthy delay of this story, life tends to happen :)
Ice Shards and Snowflakes: 2 Uncalculated Pains
Pain seared through his mind as words screamed into his subconscious.
"Ah!" Obi-Wan flinched at the unnatural burning in his brain, and found himself slipping somehow.
"Whoa!" He renewed his tenuous grip on what he now realised was an ice covered rock. Water was pounding him into its jagged surface, crushing his ribs.
How had he got here? He was so cold he couldn't think straight. His grip on the icy surface slipped slightly and the torrent of water threatened to drag him under.
'Obi-Wan!' Once again his master's voice blinded him with pain that he couldn't connect to his injuries. Obi-Wan could feel the pounding of his head from hitting something, but this pain was unrelated. And it hurt.
'Master?' Even through the bond, his voice sounded weak, Obi-Wan pushed his fear aside to try and seek out his master. His eyes kept drifting shut and when open his vision was still foggy. He didn't feel cold anymore either, he was numb. Dimly his brain registered that this wasn't a good thing, but he preferred it to the pain.
'Obi-Wan, I'm going to get you out, just hold on for now!' Dimly he sensed the Force-presence of his master getting further away.
"No…" He mumbled dimly. Why was Qui-Gon getting further away? Wasn't he supposed to help him? And how did he get into a river anyway? Maybe Qui-Gon had only said he was going to save him, but was really trying to get away from him! Obi-Wan shook his head against the thought he still somehow registered as unlikely, pain rippled in a dull ache through his head from the movement. He slipped a little further into the strangely warm water.
Maybe letting go wouldn't be too bad, he was so tired, and he felt like lead. Slowly his head dropped down onto the icy surface beneath him.
'Obi-Wan! Wake up!' Pain jerked his body back into awareness with a fresh wave of unexplainable searing.
'What?' Why was Qui-Gon bringing him back into this world of pain? The thought flashed through his brain before wonderfully warm drowsiness wrapped around him once more.
'OBI-WAN! Listen to me, open your eyes!'
"Ow," Obi-Wan moaned as the same pain shot through his mind again. Ever the faithful padawan however, he dutifully forced his leadened eyelids open.
Bright white light seemed to blind him temporarily, and he had to fight the urge to close his eyes forever. Instead he squinted against the light and gradually shapes formed before him. Foggy shapes of differing shades of grey gradually silhouetted themselves against swirling black water, and gradually, fighting to keep his eyes open, he made out the vaguely beige form of his master.
'Can you see me?' The pain made him jump once again, and he tried to shove it away angrily, it was the only thing forcing him to stay awake.
'Good, now can you see the rock I'm standing on?' Breath hissed from between his clenched teeth. Each time Qui-Gon spoke through their bond it felt like knives were being driven into his brain. Why? Was Qui-Gon causing him this pain? Why would he do something like that?
'Obi-Wan focus! Do you see the rock?'
'Maybe if I do what he says the pain will stop.' Obi-Wan's mind slurred at him. He forced his eyes open again and looked at where his master was standing to see a long low rock protruding over the water.
'I see it' He replied, and felt a relieved sigh from Qui-Gon that caused shivers of agony to grasp his mind.
'Alright, now, I'm going to catch you, but you have to let go of the rock you're on.' Obi-Wan had to shut his eyes to the pain, pressing his forehead against the ice to attempt to numb the searing from the outside. Against the pain he sceptically registered the plan.
Sensing his hesitation, Qui-Gon spoke through their bond again, pushing more daggers into his mind, his body convulsed against the pain as he held back a cry.
'Trust me padawan! Let the Force guide you.' Obi-Wan didn't think that the Force would be able to help much in this river, but he trusted his master with his life, and he needed the pain to stop, it felt like his mind was being ripped to shreds.
'Okay, just don't hurt me.' He pleaded across the bond, Qui-Gon's slow and confused words tore at his mind.
'I would never let you get hurt, now let go.'
'Then why are you hurting me?' Obi-Wan thought to himself. Preparing himself for the watery freefall he was about to experience, Obi-Wan gathered the numb Force around him tenuously, focusing on the signature of his master, took the deepest breath his crushed chest could manage, and let go.
Water pounded his senses, engulphing him and spinning him until he didn't know which way was up. The Force managed to keep him safe from most rocks mercifully, until his back slammed into another jagged edge.
The breath knocked out of him, he automatically gasped, and breathing in air rather then water his eyes flew open. His body begun slipping back down into the torrent just as he saw Qui-Gon's stricken face, his hand reaching to grab him but hitting thin air.
As the water swallowed him once more he desperately flung out what felt like a lead arm, and faintly felt a hand clasp around the deadened limb as the water dragged him under.
Qui-Gon battled the undercurrent of water to pull his padawan from its icy grip. Thank the Force that Obi-Wan had reached out for him; he would have jumped in to save him. Using all his strength the Jedi master slowly managed to drag his sodden padawan from under the rock and to the surface.
Obi-Wan's head lolled weakly as Qui-Gon managed to grab him around the chest and haul him out of the frigid water.
Half carrying, half dragging his apprentice's body he made his way to safer ground before lying Obi-Wan down. Adrenalin still pumping through him Qui-Gon acted on what the Force was nudging him towards. Sensing Obi-Wan wasn't breathing he hastily brought both hands to the slim chest and begun compressing his lungs.
After a couple of frantic pushes Obi-Wan coughed violently and rolled onto his side. Qui-Gon held onto the younger's shoulders as he coughed out water.
"You're alright, you're alright." Qui-Gon coaxed, unsure if Obi-Wan really heard him, but he stopped coughing in favour of taking shallow, laboured breaths.
"I've got you, everything's fine."
Except that it really wasn't. Now that his adrenalin was wearing off he could take in his Obi-Wan's battered form.
There was a rather large gash on his temple that was bleeding slowly and a couple of other cuts and scrapes, through the gap in his tunic Obi-Wan's chest looked badly bruised.
The most pressing issue of course was how cold the young man was. Qui-Gon couldn't quite believe a human body could be so cold, and Obi-Wan was barely moving, barely breathing, and the fact that he wasn't shivering was definitely a bad sign.
Swiftly he scanned the rocky slope for shelter, but found none. Ironically the shattered transport that had caused this ordeal was now most likely their only form of shelter. Not all of the walls and ceiling had been blasted away by the explosion and some trees had been caught in the crash, providing branches for firewood.
The walk to get his padawan to warmth and safety seemed to take forever, and all the while he was painfully aware of Obi-Wan's coldness. Even with the smouldering remains of the transport to use as tinder, the fire still took what seemed an age to sputter into life, the wood wet with snow. At best all Qui-Gon could produce was a weak, smoky fire that quickly filled the hastily built shelter he was constructing around Obi-Wan.
His Padawan's clothes he had hung out to dry on the outside with help from the wind, although the most he could hope for was for them to freeze dry. Knowing that darkness would likely only be in a few hours, and that the temperatures would drop to an unbearable level, Qui-Gon had wasted no time in building a shelter. Certainly Obi-Wan wouldn't be able to cope with the cold, and Qui-Gon was loath to move him more then he had to, besides, where could they to go?
He had stripped the rubber-like matting from the floor of one of the transport carriages and cut it to give several insulating layers. This trivial use of his light sabre had nearly made him laugh. He covered the rubber with the soft pads from some of the seats and rested Obi-Wan on them, once he was free from his icy clothes.
The Jedi master had tried to dry his apprentice as much as he could, and proceeded to cover him with his own cloak, hoping the familiarity of it would provide him some comfort. Over his cloak he had placed the fabric covers removed from other seats. The overall warming effect was far from perfect, and the older Jedi strained against his own fatigue in order to build some surrounding shelter as quickly as possible, he could feel the wind picking up in preparation for the night.
Using the Force and his trusted light sabre he moved and cut the rubble from the crash. Sheets of the county's synthetic-metal ore were used for insulating the transport from the harsh temperatures, and were fairly undamaged from the crash. Qui-Gon put them to good use, leaning them against the rock he was using as a backbone for the shelter. Once the sheets successfully surrounded the rubber matting, fire, and most importantly Obi-Wan, he pushed and shovelled snow against the bases for support and insulation.
The work was backbreaking. Repeatedly he had to wash his mind away from the pain in him muscles, the bitter cold on his extremities, as the wind begun to howl around him and the light grew dim. The thought of his Padawan kept him going, Obi-Wan, who's bad feeling had proved to be true yet again, and been made so much worse.
'…Just don't hurt me…'
The mere memory of the pleading words brought a shiver to his spine. Surely Obi-Wan had just been confused? But a niggling sensation he knew better then to ignore thought otherwise. After all, what did he know of the side effects of breaking into a bonded mind? Had it even been done before? Did Obi-Wan think he was going to break into his mind again?
Resolutely he shook his head from the thoughts; there was no answering that question now. And if he didn't get Obi-Wan warm then there would never be an answer. He just hoped with all his heart that they could get through to Coruscant and get off this planet soon and safely.
Adding a final shove of snow to the shelter, Qui-Gon hurried inside, the wind chasing behind him with ferocity. The shelter had a curved entrance the shape of a snail's shell to help keep out the snow and wind, but still let out the fire smoke. The passage was thin, but just wide enough for him to move through freely. It was about four paces long before the dimly fire-lit shelter opened up, revealing a small pile of spare firewood. Obi-Wan was nestled against the padding he had placed alongside the rock face, and he breathed a sigh of relief to see his padawan shivering, evidently the fire was doing its job.
Gently he reached over to check the younger's Jedi's temperature before sitting down cross-legged near his head. The temperature was becoming increasingly warm inside, although this shelter would hardly sustain them for long. With a breath he settled into a pose for meditation, needed now more then ever to calm his mind. The action of building cover had given him focus, and now he needed to concentrate on how to get them both safely home, before his mind wandered to the perils of their situation.
Automatically Qui-Gon opened their bond, feeling comfort in the knowledge that he'd be alerted to any change in Obi-Wan's health. As he sank into thought, he tried to push away a niggling sensation in the back of his mind; surely it was something trivial, given their current situation. After all, he was rarely open to the inclinations of the Unifying Force.
::I am inspired and writing the next chapter as we speak, hopefully you will all still be interested after the long wait, and hopefully you still enjoy it
::By the way, thank you to everyone who helped me spell Coruscant, I definitely know how to spell it now!
::Thanks for reading, shadowtheo