Another post? *throws it at whoever reads it and hides* Chapter 16: “I don’t know which way I’m going; I don’t know what I’ve become.” (Till Kingdom Come, Coldplay) The pain that breathing caused Obi-Wan woke him up. Bolting upright made it worse as his chest and ‘saber wound screamed in protest. He felt someone push him back down and resisted wildly until he heard the familiar, soothing voice of Shilo. Calming, he followed the insistent hands back down. “Shilo!” he gasped. “Where’s my medicine?” He felt someone take his hand gently and gripped it tightly. “Ben, where it hurt?” “My chest!” he groaned. “I can’t breathe.” Shilo moved off and fiddled with something while Obi-Wan closed his eyes and fought to put air into his lungs. By the time the pain filtered away, he was trembling and a sheen of sweat coated his skin. “Where’s the flame?” he asked, confusion evident in his shaky voice. “This be better medicine.” Shilo said firmly. “I don’t think it will work very well.” Obi-Wan answered dubiously, gingerly sitting up. “Where are we?” “The Halls of Healing in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.” Obi-Wan jumped at the sound of Qui-Gon’s voice. Looking around, he realized that it was his Master’s hand that held his. “How long have I been here?” “Two days. It’s been three since you woke up last. We almost lost you again.” Qui-Gon reached up to caress Obi-Wan’s hair, but when he neared the Padawan braid, Obi-Wan cried out and backed away. “Ah.” Qui-Gon said sadly. “I see.” He ignored the boy’s flinch as the door hissed open. “Hello Padawan Kenobi.” Djara greeted. “I see you’ve finally woken up. How do you feel?” “I’m fine.” Ovi-Wan said guardedly. Djara scoffed. “Shilo, how is he doing?” “Withdrawl is beginning. I had to give him more medicine.” The Vraeling ignored the glare shot his way. “Other than the obvious?” “He be fine for now. It be good that he wakes up.” The large Djem nodded her agreement. “Padawan Kenobi, you have some clan-mates that wish to see you.” “Who?” “Padawan Muln, and I believe that young Quinlan Vos is back.” Obi-Wan’s eyes lit up and Djara smiled. “They should be here any moment. I’ll send them in. Qui-Gon, I need to speak with you.” Frowning at Djara’s tone, Qui-Gon released Obi-Wan’s hand and followed the Healer out the door. “He’s lying.” she said immediately. “That much is obvious.” Qui-Gon said dryly. “He awoke with chest pain so intense he couldn’t breath.” “That’s the beginning of his withdrawal.” “From what?” “It’s an experimental drug called Tordoxaine.” “What does it do?” Qui-Gon asked. Djara hesitated. “It attacks the midi-chlorians in his cells. It’s why he experiences such intense pain when the Force is used against him, because the midi-chlorians are too damaged to filter the Force. Now, we can try gene therapy to encourage new midi-chlorians. But it will be painful, and...” She trailed off. “Qui-Gon, you need to be prepared for the fact that his midi-chlorian count may never recover.” “What would that mean?” the Master asked with growing dread. “Well, with his midi-chlorian count as low as it is right now, it would mean that he could never be a Jedi.” she concluded softly. Qui-Gon collapsed against the wall, covering his face with his hands. “Dear Force.” he whispered. “We can worry about that after everything else is done.” Djara said firmly. “What else needs to be done?” Qui-Gon asked wearily. “Most immediate is the Tordoxaine. We can’t wean him off of it because of the obvious danger, so it’s going to be cold cut. The withdrawal period will be severe.” “What can be expected?” “Severe cramping and muscled pain, vomiting, dizziness, difficulty breathing.” she listed off. “We also need to work on his physical healing as well. After that’s done, we’re going to have to re-break a few ribs and his fibula. They never healed right.” Qui-Gon nodded, storing away the information. When he turned to re-enter the room, Djara grabbed his arm. “One more thing.” she cautioned. “He is going to beg you for the Tordoxaine. You must tell him no. No matter how much he hates you for it.” ______________________________________________________________________ Garen Muln waited nervously in the hanger bay. Quinlan would be arriving any moment. His head rose to the sky as a small Republic Cruiser flew into the docking bay. Garen bounced nervously as his friend Quinlan Vos and his Master Tholme walked down the ship’s ramp. “Master Tholme, the Council has granted me permission to bring Quinlan with me.” Garen said, bowing. “They also say to report to the Council chambers at eleventh bell.” “Very well.” Tholme said. “Off with you, Vos.” “Yes Master.” “Let’s go.” Garen muttered, dragging the young Kiffar by the arm. “How was the trip?” “Good.” Quinlan answered. “We finally got the two settlements to form their own government and they’ve decided to join the Republic. But I’m glad to be back.” he added happily. “Eight months is a long time to be gone. What’ve you and Kenobi been up to?” Garen stopped and whirled on Quinlan, pacing in short laps. “Garen?” Quinlan asked, concerned.” “Look, Quin.” Garen said, brown eyes intense. “You’ve missed a lot. Obi-Wan’s in the Halls of Healing, in the critical ward.” Quinlan’s chocolate eyes widened. “What happened?” “Basically he was kidnapped and tortured for six months. We just got him back a few days ago.” “How bad is it?” the Kiffar asked incredulously. “Bad.” Garen answered tersely. “We’re going to see him now. Don’t mention his collar.” Confused, Quinlan allowed himself to be led to the Med-ward. Nodding at Djara and Qui-Gon, the two teenagers entered Obi-Wan’s room. Quinlan’s sharp eyes narrowed as he took in Obi-Wan’s pitiful form, but he forced his features into his classic nonchalant smirk. “Hey Kenobi. You look terrible.” Obi-Wan looked up. “Thank you, Vos.” he answered dryly. “You’re flattery knows no bounds.” Quinlan winked and threw himself into a chair by Obi-Wan’s med-couch. The yellow tattoo across his eyes contrasted starkly with his dark skin as he scrutinized the room. He noted the cat-like boy by his friend staring at him with apprehension. He winked cheekily and the boy looked away. As his gaze fell on Obi-Wan’s lightsaber lying on the bedside table, whispers crooned in his mind... Unaware of his friend’s state of mind, Garen greeted Shilo amiably and sat on Obi-Wan’s other side.. “Hey Garen.” Obi-Wan said softly. “It’s been awhile.” “Actually, it wasn’t as long as you think.” Garen corrected. “I was on the ship sent to rescue you.” Obi-Wan’s eyes widened in surprise. “Why didn’t you come to see me?” “You only woke up once. By the time I got there, you were already asleep again, and...” Garen trailed off and looked at Quinlan. “Quin?” he asked blankly. Obi-Wan was horrified. “Quinlan! No!” But the psychometric’s fingertips had already touched Obi-Wan’s ‘saber hilt. With a cry, the Kiffar stiffened, eyes moving rapidly behind closed eyelids. The door hissed open and Qui-Gon was half-standing, frozen and staring between Obi-Wan and Quinlan. Obi-Wan was muttering “Oh gods, oh gods...” and Quinlan - Qui-Gon strode over to the young man and removed his hand from the ‘saber hilt. With a shuddering gasp, the Kiffar slid to the ground and curled around himself. Djara rushed forwards and pulled the young man up. “I’m gonna be sick.” he whispered. “Djara brought over a waste-basket with the Force, just as Quinlan heaved. When he was done, Djara handed him a glass of water. Shilo was on Obi-Wan’s med-couch again, murmuring to him quietly. The young Jedi had calmed down considerably, but he was still sneaking wary looks at the psychometric. Quinlan staggered upright, then collapsed in his chair, a trembling hand worrying his Padawan braid. “Sorry, Obi-Wan.” he muttered, mortified. “Sometimes I just can’t help it. The whispers...” he shook his head. “They don’t leave me alone.” “I would have preferred you didn’t see that.” Obi-Wan said nervously. “Yeah.” Quinlan laughed shakily. “Me too.” Qui-Gon regarded the Kiffar. Obi-Wan had explain psychometry to him; the ability to read and see emotions and memories from an inanimate objects. He also knew that the gift was particularly strong in Quinlan Vos. He wondered what the boy had seen. “Well that’s quite enough excitement for one day.” Djara proclaimed. “Out with you two. He needs his rest.” “Bye Obi.” “See you Kenobi.” Obi-Wan waved at his friends gloomily. Djara injected something into his IV. “What is it?” he asked suspiciously. “Painkillers. Your chest is hurting again, isn’t it?” “How did you know?” “You keep rubbing it.” Obi-Wan stopped his hand and placed it back on the bed. He watched as Djara pulled out pristine white bandages and a jar of bacta salve. The little color left in his face disappeared. He shook his head as Djara walked forward. “It’s just bacta, Padawan Kenobi.” she reassured him, but Obi-Wan continued to shrink away. Shilo took the salve out of the Djem’s hands and crawled up behind Obi-Wan. “Hush, Ben.” he ordered. “Please don’t, Shilo.” the young man whispered. “It hurts too much.” “It will help.” Shilo promised. Holding the older boy steady, he unwrapped the bandages from Obi-Wan’s chest and applied a small amount of salve to a half healed whip welt. Obi-Wan gasped as his back arched against the pain. Shilo, undaunted, applied more, struggling to keep his patient still. The door hissed open and strong arms embraced Obi-Wan. Startled and afraid, he tried to pull away, but when the pain became too much to handle, he gave in and pressed tightly against whoever it was; they couldn’t cause him more pain than he was already in. Qui-Gon held tightly to his apprentice as he tried to arch away from the salve. He murmured quietly to his Padawan, trying to take his mind of the pain, but he wasn’t sure that Obi-Wan heard him. Shilo refrained from using the salve on his patient’s ‘saver wound. Instead, he wrapped bacta-soaked bandages over his chest. Obi-Wan cried out, convulsing. “Take it off!” he shouted wildly. “Shilo, take it off!” Qui-Gon caught his hands and held them firmly as the boy tried to tear the bandages off. “Can’t you give him painkillers?” Qui-Gon demanded. “Already have.” Shilo said sadly. “Or else he not be awake right now.” Qui-Gon struggled to hold his charge still. “Wouldn’t that be better?” Shilo shook his head. “He go to sleep too much, he not wake up.” Sighing, Qui-Gon, still holding Obi-Wan’s arms carefully, sat behind his apprentice, pulling the frail body to lean against him. Obi-Wan resisted for a moment before laying back. He shifted, face tight with pain. “Take them off.” he begged. “Please, it’s too much.” “You’re bleeding too much for that.” Qui-Gon told him gently. “Please!” Qui-Gon didn’t answer, only cradled the trembling youth closer. Obi-Wan made a weak attempt to break his Master’s grip, but collapsed a short time later, chest heaving with pain and effort. When the healing of the bacta finally took effect, Obi-Wan had succumbed to sleep. Qui-Gon shifted to the side and motioned for Shilo to join them. Wearily, the Vraeling boy crawled into the hollow of Qui-Gon’s free arm and nestled against him. “I’ve contacted your parents. They’ve agreed to let us care for you until you’ve recovered.” “Not till Ben be better.” the boy murmured.” Qui-Gon was surprised. “Don’t you want to go home?” he asked. “Course.” came the sleepy reply. “But Ben be *my* patient and I care for him until he be better.” Qui-Gon smiled. “They said you might say that.” But the boy was already asleep. ______________________________________________________________________ Some time later, Bant entered the room to check on her patients. Palming the door open, the young Healer walked to the med-couch, but when she looked up, she stopped short. A grin spreading on her face, she grabbed the small camera that was kept in her tunics at all times and snapped a picture of the room’s occupants. Qui-Gon was asleep, lying on the med-couch with an arm wrapped tenderly but protectively over Obi-Wan, who was leaning against the Master’s chest. Qui-Gn’s free arm was occupied by Shilo, who was nestled against the older man’s side. At the sound of the camera, the young Vraeling half-raised his head, green-slitted eyes blinking blearily. Seeing no danger, he gave an enormous yawn and laid back down with a small sigh. Her day made, Bant stowed her camera away with another grin and left to tend to her other patients.