So, as I occasionally do, this afternoon I thought, you know what? Any stories that have been reviewed today I'll update by Saturday. It's like my own little writing challenge to myself. To my surprise and somewhat wry amusement, three stories have been reviewed today so therefore I will do my best to update the other two in addition to this one.
This final chapter of "A Not Pointless Little Hurt/Comfort Fic" is dedicated to Shanowa for this morning's review. Shanowa is the author of the excellently dark "Scream," a great Obi-Wan fic that is based in the EU but thankfully one doesn't need to know the EU background to enjoy the story.
Thank you to everyone who took a bit out of their schedules to not only read this fic but also to let me know that you did. I too am sorry to see this story draw to a close, but gratefully acknowledge that its reception was far better than I had anticipated and I thank its very gracious readers for that.
A Not Pointless Little Hurt/Comfort Fic
It was by far the most uncomfortable three days he had ever spent in succession, and that was saying something.
Obi-Wan was still heavily sedated – even after three days, he hadn't settled down enough while in the bacta tank for the Healers to ease back the doses of sedatives they were pumping into his system to prevent him from panicking and tearing off his breathing mask or bandages again.
So Qui-Gon waited, sometimes resting on a medical bed nearby, mostly meditating or pacing. The ache in his knee had returned from his renewed movement, but he ignored it; the Healers urged him to return to his quarters, promised they would notify him when Obi-Wan awoke, but Qui-Gon ignored them. He needed to be with his Padawan, needed to be there when Obi-Wan's eyes opened and see for himself that they were again clear and focused, that his Padawan really had survived the blaster bolt that had torn a chunk from his unprotected side.
The Chief Healer thought Obi-Wan would be able to leave the confines of the bacta tank today, and Qui-Gon had already requested the responsibility of cleaning up his Padawan and watching over him to make sure Obi-Wan would not suffer any lasting damage from either his injury or thrashing around in the tank as he had. To that end, Qui-Gon had carefully collected soft cloths and readied a basin for warm water with which to clean away the remnants of bacta that would stick to Obi-Wan once he was removed from the bacta tank.
As he waited for the Healers came to take Obi-Wan out, he prayed quietly that the Padawan who opened his eyes would be the same Padawan who had nearly abandoned Qui-Gon three horrible days before.
Mace and Yoda arrived eventually, ready if their assistance should be needed, and the healers pulled Obi-Wan's body from the tank, carefully lowering the still Padawan to a waiting medical bed. A healer removed Obi-Wan's breathing mask and Qui-Gon watched tensely, his own breath lodged somewhere in his throat, his stomach jerking painfully as Obi-Wan took his first few gasping, shuddering breaths on his own.
The familiar sound of his Padawan struggling to breathe was painfully recent to Qui-Gon, and he swallowed convulsively against the gut-clenching worry that made him step forward and lay a hand on Obi-Wan's pale shoulder. The bare skin under his callused fingers was reassuringly warm, but it did little to ease Qui-Gon's emotional burden.
He waited, patiently, mechanically, until the Chief Healer nodded in satisfaction and offered him a warm smile; they had actually become quite good friends over the years as she had cared for himself and Obi-Wan more times than Qui-Gon wanted to acknowledge at this moment.
He did allow a small, calming breath, releasing a little tension into the waiting caress of the Force as he walked quietly along, hand still on Obi-Wan's shoulder as a Healer carefully guided the hoverbed upon which Obi-Wan lay into one of the secluded rooms where Obi-Wan would sleep off the rest of the sedation. When the Padawan awoke, one quick checkup and then he was free to go, like nothing had happened.
Qui-Gon swallowed hard against the knot in his throat. Like nothing had happened.
Unwanted anger surged through the Jedi Master at the words echoing mockingly through his mind – like hell nothing had happened! Something had happened: Qui-Gon had almost lost his Padawan again.
The Healer glanced up at him in concern, startled by the unexpected shift in the air. Be calm, he instructed himself sternly, calling on the Force and wrapping himself in warm bands of tranquility as he struggled to focus all of his attention on his Padawan.
Qui-Gon painstakingly assisted the Healer in moving Obi-Wan's lax body, now covered with a thin sheet, onto a stationary bed. The Healer smiled at Qui-Gon and nodded before making her exit and Qui-Gon took over carefully, filling the basin he had prepped with warm water from a small sink in the corner of the room. He set about gently cleaning the clinging bacta from his Padawan's face and hair with a warm, damp cloth, dipping the cloth in the warm water and threading meticulously through Obi-Wan's short hair. While his body drifted through the routine of cleaning Obi-Wan up, Qui-Gon allowed his mind to wander as he took in the still form of his Padawan.
It wasn't just the significant patch of discolored skin on Obi-Wan's right flank that bothered him; it was the jagged scar on the inside of his Padawan's left forearm that he lightly ran the damp cloth along, and the long, poorly-healed welt down Obi-Wan's back that hadn't faded.
It was the calluses on each finger that Qui-Gon slowly scrubbed and across the palms of Obi-Wan's slim hands.
It was the surgery Obi-Wan had had at seventeen to repair a damaged kneecap, and the multitude of cuts, scrapes, and bruises that Qui-Gon had tended over the years. It was the myriad of scars that covered his Padawan's young body from when they hadn't made it to a bacta tank in time. Qui-Gon's own body was decorated much the same, and he wondered, as he did in these quiet moments, if it was worth it, worth getting involved in everyone else's problems – whether they wanted the help or not. Was it worth risking his Padawan's life as often as happened? Was it worth the pain of not being able to follow when Obi-Wan trod near death's door with the alarming frequency that he did?
At times like this, gently scrubbing down the ravaged body of a young man who had always and would always choose duty over self, Qui-Gon wasn't so sure that it was.
Obi-Wan was lying silently in bed, staring listlessly at the ceiling when Qui-Gon returned that evening, having been forcefully ejected by Yoda and told not to return until he'd eaten something and rested for at least a short while.
Qui-Gon had presumed that approximately twenty minutes counted as a 'short while,' despite the disapproving look Yoda gave him when he returned less than an hour after he'd been thrown out. With a gentle smile and words that Qui-Gon didn't overhear, Yoda gave Obi-Wan's knee a pat and made his exit.
Obi-Wan looked better, Qui-Gon noted, though the dark circles that hung tellingly under his tired eyes stood out prominently in the pinched whiteness of his face. His expression had the set that Qui-Gon had come to associate with Obi-Wan having been deep in thought over something, and he wasn't disappointed when his query of 'how are you feeling, Padawan?' was met with a shrug and the polite question:
"May I ask you something, Master?"
Qui-Gon settled gracefully into the chair near the bed. "Of course, Padawan," he replied genially. "Whatever you like."
Obi-Wan's brow furrowed, confusion etched into his voice. "It's about the Code, Master. I don't … I don't remember much about what happened, but I remember you kept asking me to recite the code."
"That's right," Qui-Gon nodded. "I was trying to keep you awake."
Obi-Wan nodded in reply. "Right. Well … I know that I didn't make it to the last verse, but I remember that you were very sad, Master; I remember that you were crying because I was ... was ..."
And Qui-Gon understood where Obi-Wan's halting questioning was going.
"What is the last line of the Jedi Code, Obi-Wan?" he asked quietly.
"There is no death, there is the Force," Obi-Wan recited obediently, his familiar furrow firmly settled in place.
"That's right," Qui-Gon laid a gentle hand on his Padawan's arm, catching his gaze pointedly. "And while that is true, you should never be too far from your heart, Obi-Wan."
"I don't think I quite follow you, Master," Obi-Wan said, the discomfort in his tone not unexpected to Qui-Gon; The Jedi Master knew that he was treading dangerous ground as the words he had said and was about to say to Obi-Wan now were not exactly Council-approved. But he also knew that Obi-Wan would understand what he was trying to convey.
"What I'm saying, Padawan, is that it's impossible to not feel anything at all unless you're a droid – and maybe not even then," he said lightly, with a smile, sincerity still tempering his words. "I cannot let my emotions control me, but that doesn't mean I won't allow myself to feel them."
Obi-Wan nodded, his eyes fixed firmly on his nervously twisting fingers. Qui-Gon hooked a finger under his Padawan's chin until Obi-Wan's reluctant gaze met his.
"Obi-Wan, when a Jedi becomes oblivious to emotion, he's out of touch. Trying not to feel … it's impossible to do that and still be whole. I cried because my heart was breaking at the thought of losing you." He tapped Obi-Wan's cheek gently. "I never want to feel that way again, so please be more careful, Padawan."
Obi-Wan smiled wryly, finally relaxing a little. "I never mean for these things to happen, Master."
Though the Padawan's comment was meant to be light-heartened, Qui-Gon felt a sharp pain crowd his throat, tightening on the next words he uttered.
"I know, Obi-Wan."
But they did happen, and that was the problem.
"Obi-Wan… " he said slowly, "are you happy to be a Jedi?"
"Of course," Obi-Wan said promptly. "I am honored to be called a Jedi."
"But you almost died, Obi-Wan."
"But I didn't," Obi-Wan smiled. "And if I had, Master, it would have been the will of the Force."
Qui-Gon was struck by the warm light of wisdom in the clear grey eyes that gently looked back at him, and he was not surprised when, for just a moment, Obi-Wan became the teacher, and he was a student once again.
"We cannot choose what happens to us, Master," Obi-Wan murmured softly, conviction strong in his voice. "Our task is to choose what we will do with what we are given. Do we take the easier course and hide in shadow because we are content to merely exist? Or do we strive to be illuminated as the best version of ourselves that we are able to be?"
Qui-Gon's smile broke like dawn through his mourning, through all of the ache that had been his world for several days and he tousled Obi-Wan's drying hair lovingly; Obi-Wan gave him a longsuffering look, but Qui-Gon couldn't explain that he needed to touch his Padawan, needed to keep reminding himself that Obi-Wan's skin was warm, and not the horrid chilling cold that he had been when Qui-Gon had last held him.
"When did you get so wise, Little One?" he asked curiously.
"I learn from the best," Obi-Wan returned with a smile.
"I'm flattered," Qui-Gon returned dryly, pleased despite himself, relieved that the knot of tension was slowly dissipating though he knew it would never go away completely, not as long as Obi-Wan lived and would be in harm's way.
"Oh, I was referring to Master Yoda," Obi-Wan grinned serenely. "You try to teach me not to follow the Code."
"I'm hurt, Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon sulked just a little, but he really couldn't deny that he more often than not disagreed with the strict rules.
"And of course I'm just teasing, Master," Obi-Wan leveled a serious gaze at the seated Jedi Master. "You teach me to think for myself."
The words filled Qui-Gon with a quiet pride and he was once again amazed that he had been blessed to have such a perceptive, kind Padawan.
"Thank you, Obi-Wan," he said simply. "Shall we go home?"
"Until the next time," Obi-Wan nodded in wry agreement, a furrow again dipping his brow. "But I need my clothes, please."
Qui-Gon couldn't help himself. "Why?" he questioned innocently. "It's not like everyone here hasn't already seen … all you have to offer, Padawan."
"What??" Obi-Wan looked properly mortified as he gripped the sheet that had pooled around his naked waist and glanced quickly under it as if to confirm the horrified blush staining across his cheeks was indeed appropriate. "You mean I was naked in there, Master?? The whole time??"
"Well, you had a breathing mask on," Qui-Gon pointed out, his sides quivering helplessly as he struggled to keep from laughing aloud.
"Oh, Force," Obi-Wan slunk down on the bed, pulling the sheet up over his head. "Never mind. I'll just stay here."
"At least you'd be safe," Qui-Gon pointed out.
And despite Obi-Wan's earlier wise words, Qui-Gon couldn't keep himself from thinking that that wouldn't be such a bad thing, after all.
The end. please let me know what you think!