"…hear me? Squeeze my hand if you can hear me."
She squeezed, but she was surprised how difficult it was. Her body was almost unresponsive.
The sky above her blurred and shifted; sound came and went. Eventually she became aware that she was being carried.
"…not safe overnight – though by the looks of you, you've been lost for more than one day…"
It was later; the sun was gone, but the heat remained. Her face felt like lava.
"Rest easy… no rush."
She fell back into darkness.
Obi-Wan was surprised to find that once the sunburn faded and the bulk of sand brushed away, his ward was actually an attractive young woman with black hair and full lips. She came close to consciousness a few times during the night, but never broke through.
She was a difficult patient. Even while unconscious, she would flinch away at any touch, and the first time he tried to reach to her through her Force, he was repelled with such potency that he toppled backwards off his stool and hit the ground. The repulsion felt dark, but he didn't sense the dark side around her presently – it was as though she had crawled through darkness to get to him, and it clung to her like oil.
He treated her obvious wounds first, but after the first day he noticed the sand still trapped under her tattered clothes was irritating her – a rash was developing under her collar. So, resolutely, he drew a bath from the salty spring his hovel was built around and started to peel the rags off her.
"I'm not a pervert," he promised her. "I won't even look, except for…" he trailed off as he removed her shirt and found something extremely odd. A device, the size of a comlink, was attached to her sternum, but it wasn't like any legitimate medical or cyborg device; the claws at its edges dug through the skin into bone viciously, and the skin around it was bright red with oncoming infection. He made quick work of it with his lightsaber, and as soon as it was removed, he felt the dark side recede slightly from her aura.
He treated the open wound the device had left, but found it almost impossible to ignore what was on either side of it.
'Not being a pervert, not being a pervert,' he repeated to himself like a mantra until he had feverishly splashed enough water over her to remove the worst of the sand and then applied bacta to the variety of wounds all over her body, particularly her back. He wasn't certain, but at a guess he'd say some of them came from a laserwhip. His suspicion that she was an escaped slave grew stronger.
Finally, he dressed her in his spare underclothes of soft white cotton - a long sleeved shirt, and shorts. Both were too large, but better than nothing.
It was as he was eating his breakfast the next morning that he heard movement from the bedroom for the first time. He heard a thump and got to his feet, and approached the open doorway cautiously.
"Hello?" he asked hesitantly, as he peered into the room and saw the bed empty. He stepped inside, then felt air whip past behind him as her white-clad figure dashed out the door.
"Wait!" Obi-Wan called, turning to run after her. She was out the front door with blinding speed. "I'm not going to hurt you!" he followed her into the bright sunlight. She was running barefoot across the burning sand, but as she glanced back at him over her shoulder, she tripped, and sprawled face-first.
Obi-Wan caught up with her before she could get to her feet. "Wait – please, wait," he grasped her wrist, and she tried to squirm away frantically. He was dismayed by the look of terror in her eyes.
"I am not going to hurt you, I promise - but the desert will, if you go running out there unprepared again."
The girl gave up trying to tug free of his grip, and slumped on the ground. He let go, and stepped back, folding his arms awkwardly. "You don't have to do anything you don't want, but I suggest you come back inside and have some water." He hesitated, peering down at her. "Er - do you speak basic?"
She looked up at him with a resigned expression that made him feel like a jailer. "Yes," she said hoarsely, her first word to him. He nodded hesitantly, then watched in confusion as her expression changed – she frowned, looking at his face closely, and jumped to her feet, stepping slightly closer to him.
Obi-Wan stood his ground under her scrutiny. "What is it?"
"Obi-Wan Kenobi. I found you." She looked like she didn't quite believe what she was saying.
His real name alarmed him. It had been over a year since he'd heard it out loud. He covered his feelings with a small smile. "Strictly speaking, I think I found you," he said lightly. "Were you looking for me?"
Confusion came over her face, and she put a hand to her head, distraught. "I… I can't remember." Her grasp for memory suddenly shot across to him in the Force and he felt the dark side rear, then fade again. He was no longer convinced she was anything as simple as an escaped slave.
"It's alright," he said, attempting to soothe her. "Come inside."
She followed him back into the hovel where he poured a cup of water and set it on the bench for her to take, wary that passing it to her might cause their fingers to touch. She drank it down quickly and he poured another.
"I found you two days ago, unconscious out in the dunes. It looked like you'd been through some trouble. I apologise for your clothes, but I had to remove them to treat your wounds. Some were getting infected."
At this, she suddenly dropped the cup on the floor and grasped a hand to her chest frantically. She tugged out the collar of her shirt and looked down at the place where the device had been, which now had only his neat bandage. "Where is it?" she asked hoarsely.
Obi-Wan pointed behind her to the small table in the main room. The device sat in two parts, seared through the middle by his lightsaber. He had been planning on examining it.
She looked at it closely, but deliberately didn't touch it. "It's… destroyed?"
"I believe so. What is it?"
"It's…" she struggled, and her hands came up to her head again. "It's something bad – you have to get it away from here. Far away."
She shook her head vigorously, her fingers tangling in the hair over her temples. "Take it to the spaceport. Put it on a ship. Get it off-planet." She stepped back across to him, closer than she'd come before. "Please."
Obi-Wan didn't know why, but he trusted her eyes. The device was evil, and he had never seen anything like it before. He nodded. "Alright. Let's go."
They started out across the desert towards Mos Eisley. It would be a long walk.
Obi-Wan glanced across at the girl, now clad in a mishmash of his too-large clothes and her old tattered ones, admiring the fact that she hadn't complained once of the pain he knew she must feel from her wounds. She had even demanded she carry an equal share of supplies in a second backpack, which he knew must be irritating the abrasions on her back.
"What's your name?" he asked gently.
She looked across at him despondently and shook her head. "I can't remember."
This story jumped into my head overnight without any warning. Please let me know what you think of it, and if it's worth continuing. Any readers coming here from my story The New Jedi Order will know that I specialise in Obi/damaged-OC, but I think this OC will be an especially tough nut for him to crack :)