The Cruelest Cut Of All
Excerpt by Jemmiah
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“Breathe in.”

Kenobi inhaled as An-Paj listened to his heartbeat with the stethoscope.

“Breathe out.”

He couldn’t understand it. He’d been given a thorough examination. His blood had been checked. His midi-clorian count had been checked. His recovery time in response to physical exercise had been checked. Everything from his fingernails to his eyelashes had been checked.

There was nothing wrong with him.

“Well young man. I never thought I’d hear myself saying this but you’re in top shape. Nothing chipped or fractured. Nothing sprained or in need of splinting. No Bacta tanks on red alert…”

He thought Obi-Wan would look relieved but instead the boy just sighed.

“So are you going to tell me what’s up or are you going to sit there and look miserable?”

“I don’t know what’s wrong.” Obi-Wan shrugged and studied his fingernails. “I don’t feel unwell. I just don’t feel…right either.”

“Uh-huh.” An-Paj considered it. “You can put your shirt back on.” He watched the forlorn expression on the Padawan’s face as he picked up his tunic top and started to dress himself. “When did you start to feel this way?”

“I don’t know.” He sighed again. “Last week, maybe.”

“And did you do anything out of the ordinary last week? Eat anything unusual, for example?”

Kenobi considered.

“We had a small outing to one of the cantinas.” Obi-Wan paused. “I don’t think there was anything too unusual about it.”

“And who else was there?” An-Paj regarded him carefully.

“Jay Abran, Simeon, Kryztan…Jemmiah.” He finished with another sigh.

“Uh-huh.” The healer said again. This was proving interesting.

Obi-Wan finished dressing and his eyes strayed back to the chrono. They’d been flickering in that direction a dozen times during the consultation.

“Wonder if she’s back yet?” Kenobi mumbled, not aware that An-Paj was sporting a grin the size of a Bantha.

“Who’s this?” The healer asked as if in casual conversation.

“Hmm? Jemmiah. Evla’s taking her shopping.”

Gotcha, thought An-Paj!

“Well, if you’re ready you can wait outside. I want to have a little discussion with your master. Just to put his mind at rest.”

“Oh.” Kenobi sighed and moved to the doorway. “Thanks.”

An-Paj waited until he had left and clapped his hands together briskly. He was looking forward to telling Master Jinn what was wrong with his apprentice! He put his head round the doorway and spotted Qui-Gon’s tall figure seated outside, and affected a serious façade.

“Master Jinn.” He waved him in to his consulting room.

Qui-Gon looked more than a little uncomfortable. He wasn’t any fonder of this place than his padawan and between them they’d both clocked up a considerable amount of time in the infirmary. During a Bacta shortage crisis in the Republic the council had contrived to send the pair of them on as few field missions as possible so as to limit the damage…

“I think you’d better sit down.”

“What’s wrong?” Qui-Gon asked, plainly concerned.

“I won’t beat around the bush, Master Jinn. I think you might have a problem.”

Qui-Gon’s anxiety became alarm. “Problem? What sort of a problem?”

“Well, Obi-Wan’s moping about, generally lethargic, can’t eat, can’t sleep…”

“Yes, I know this.” Jinn became frustrated. “What do you think the cause could be?”

“I think I know the answer.” He walked over and clapped his hand on the big man’s shoulder. “If it’s what I think it is then it could be very serious.”

Qui-Gon swallowed.

“The symptoms all add up to one thing.” An-Paj said somberly. He handed Qui-Gon a glass of water that he hadn’t asked for.

“W-what is it?” Jinn stammered, growing paler all the time.

An-Paj watched as his friend raised the glass to his lips.

“I’m afraid it’s my duty to inform you that your padawan…is in love.”

Qui-Gon nearly choked as the water he swallowed came out his nose.

The healer whacked him on the back a couple of times until the situation calmed itself.

“It’s a good thing I was at hand,” An-Paj said, pointing at the glass, “or you would have drowned for certain!”