From The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Excerpt by Jemmiah
|"You are joking!" Qui-Gon exclaimed as he made a dash over to where Sal-Fina sat, rubbing her leg. "Please tell me this is yet another one of your sick jokes?"
"Is it the sort of thing I would joke about?" Sal-Fina grimaced. "SITHSPAWN! My toe feels as if it's on fire!
"Don't keep rubbing at it, you'll make the poison spread quicker!" The master commanded sharply.
"You heard me." Qui-Gon kneeled down beside her to examine the slightly swollen digit, spotting the two little puncture marks on her big toe. "Did you see what it was that bit you?"
"I dunno…some spidery thing." Sal-Fina let out a ragged breath, trying to keep calm but feeling she wasn't succeeding very well.
"And what?" the blonde master bit her lip as the fiery sensation in her toe continued to build.
"It looked like a rock."
"You'll have to give me a little more to work on than that!" Qui-Gon said anxiously, watching as Sal-Fina dug her nails into the palms of her hand.
"How many legs did it have?" suggested Qui-Gon.
Sal-Fina shot a withering glare at Qui-Gon, eyes narrowing in discomfort and annoyance.
"I don't know! It moved like a spider and it looked like a jagged rock with stripes on its back! How am I supposed to know how many damned legs it has? Like I stopped to get its autograph…it hightailed it into the distance before I could examine it under my pocket microscope!"
"I'M TRYING TO HELP YOU!" Qui-Gon snapped.
"IT'S NOT WORKING!!!" Sal-Fina yelled back. "What I could do with right now is some practical help rather than an impromptu nature studies class!"
"I don't know what I can do if I don't know what I am up against." Jinn insisted hoarsely. "Just keep still and try not to flap about."
"I'm NOT flapping!" Sal-Fina's expression became indignant. "YOU are the one who's flapping!"
"Stop panicking and let me think…" Qui-Gon tried to wrack his brains.
"Oh, gods - we ARE in trouble." Replied the injured master, rolling her eyes. "I'm dying and you want to try thinking…"
"Are you sure you can't recollect anything else? Any distinctive features?" pressed Qui-Gon.
"Yeah, it had teeth! They're the ones that spring to mind first and foremost…look, I keep telling you I KNOW NOTHING!"
"Now that I can believe." Qui-Gon answered dryly, placing a hand on her breastbone and pushing her onto her back.
Sal-Fina gave a startled squeal. "What the Kriff do you think you are playing at! I'm no longer that kind of girl!"
Qui-Gon grabbed hold of her leg and hoisted it upwards and was answered instantly by a mild kick to the jaw with her other foot, warning him to avert his eyes.
"What was that for?" Qui-Gon held his bruised face with one hand but retained his grasp on Sal-Fina's leg with the other. "Will you calm down! How can I help you if you won't sit still?"
"Maybe it has something to do with the fact I'm not wearing any underwear!" growled Sal-Fina. "As no doubt you can see for yourself!"
"Huh?" Qui-Gon made the mistake of trying to see what on Coruscant she was moaning about now…and quickly averted his eyes when he realized that what she was saying was true. His face didn't so much blush as volcanically explode with embarrassment. "W-why didn't you tell me?" he stammered in abashment.
"Are you dense? What do you think I just did?"
"I meant before!" Qui-Gon answered waspishly, still with his eyes fixed upon the ground.
"Because I didn't know some madman was going to knock me flat on my back and throw my leg in the air like I was a deranged Flamingo!" Sal-Fina desperately attempted to pull the blanket down her legs to cover her…modesty. She was surprised she had any modesty left after all these years. It wasn't as if her body was any great mystery to Qui-Gon, especially not after she'd caught him sneaking a peak not half an hour before!
"It's not a position uncommon to you." Qui-Gon was ungentlemanly enough to point out.
"At least I can still bend into this position. I may not be as young as I used to be but I'm supple enough to move my body without having to call in a healer to attend my ageing and infirm back every couple of hours."
She pulled a face and tried to mimic him to the best of her ability. "Leona, I've strained my back - could you take a look at it? Leona, I'm feeling all tense. Come and see how rigid my muscles are…Leona, something's just gone snap - oh, and my back's sore as well. Can you do your usual?"
"Pardon?" Jinn was aghast at her words…and the imagery they evoked.
"You heard." Retorted Sal-Fina. "You're a pervert!"
"I am not!" Qui-Gon was tempted to drop her leg onto the ground.
"I saw you earlier getting an eyeful when I was changing." Sal-Fina challenged him with an unwavering stare. "Go ahead and deny it if you can!"
"You were doing the same to me!" Qui-Gon retaliated. "Ah-ha! Got you there, haven't I?"
"I did it to YOU because YOU had already done it to ME!" Sal-Fina felt quite smug. "You started it!"
"Do you want this toe taken care of or are you in the mood to suffer?" Jinn let his dancing eyebrows do the talking, warning her not to push him too far.
Sal-Fina realized she didn't exactly have much of a choice. She could picture herself as somebody else might see it: a naked (save for a blanket) middle aged woman with her leg being held up in the air by an equally middle aged man desperately trying not to look her way. Despite the pain in her toe she almost felt tempted to laugh. Ambianca certainly wouldn't have liked to see this and as for Qui-Gon's padawan…
"You've not proved yourself to be healer material so far." Drawled Sal-Fina, looking him up and down. "You act without explaining, you manhandle people and frankly your bedside manner stinks." She reconsidered her words for a moment or two. "I've changed my mind. You'd fit right in with An-Tiseptic's bunch…"
"I want you…" Qui-Gon began.
"Thank you, but I don't think your girlfriend would be pleased." She chuckled weakly.
"…to keep this leg up. Understand?" Qui-Gon warned her.
"Why? Where are you off to?" Sal-Fina began to get worried. "You're seriously going to leave me like this? I'm sorry but this is not my idea of dying with dignity!"
"You are NOT going to die." Qui-Gon stated. "Now, just stay like that and I'll be right back. I'm going to go…"
Sal-Fina surprised him by pulling him forward and bending halfway to reach him, placing a kiss on his cheek.
"…Get help? Thank you!" she gasped. "I'm sorry I ever said anything nasty to you…good luck!"
Qui-Gon stood up and amid some consternation wiped his cheek free of faint red lipstick traces.
"Thanks." He mumbled. "But I was only going to the bushes to retrieve your underwear."
In normal circumstances Qui-Gon would have been proud of using such a put down as that but now - when it most mattered - he was too worried to think about getting the upper hand in their verbal sparring. He knew he had to keep Sal-Fina as immobilised as possible (which given the nature of the woman was no easy task) and try to halt the spread of the poison. If he had proper use of the force and not the scant, tenuous grasp he was currently holding on to he might have been in a better position to help.
The wound itself didn't look too bad. The two little marks were just about visible but certainly they were not deep which gave Qui-Gon reason to hope for a better outcome than he initially had. It could well be that the 'creature' that had dealt the nip to Sal-Fina's toe had just skimmed the surface of her skin with its teeth. Unless the creature was highly toxic Sal-Fina might come out of this reasonably well.
If the creature was indeed extremely poisonous it didn’t take a genius to work out the prognosis.
Qui-Gon bundled up Sal-Fina's clothing (wondering as he always did in the case of Jemmiah how it was possible to slip into undergarments the size of a data chip) and jogged back to the prone master who lay back and eyed him suspiciously.
"Here's your socks," he threw them to Sal-Fina, "your tunic top, your…er, your…just put them on, would you?" he looked away.
"Funny," Sal-Fina managed to snicker, "I know I'm getting old when I'm being told to put 'em on!"
"Sal, please just…"
"Yeah, yeah." Sal-Fina regarded her toe for a moment. It didn't feel nearly as bad as it had before. Obviously Qui-Gon's trick of elevating the leg was working somewhat.
Her hands strayed onto her undies and suddenly she realized her problem.
"You'll have to do it." She said bluntly.
"I said, you will have to help me put them on. I can't pull them up like this, can I?" she indicated her raised leg. "The best I can manage is to raise the other leg to the same level…"
//Oh, Sith!// Qui-Gon groaned inwardly.
"…and then you will have to do the honors."
Qui-Gon closed his eyes. The things a jedi had to do in the line of duty…
"When we get back," Qui-Gon gritted his teeth together as he stood before her, still looking away, "I am going to demand a vacation to recover from THIS one!"
He had no idea how he accomplished the deed, merely that he managed to keep his eyes off Sal-Fina the whole time. There was no way he was going to be branded a pervert again! He knew that Leona as a healer must have dressed and undressed hundreds of people in her time at the infirmary but even so he wasn't sure she would quite understand what he was trying to achieve here.
He wasn't sure if he knew either.
It was like one of those old games the crèche children played with the long, twisted and coiled wire that you had pass a metal hoop over, and if the hoop touched the wire it set of an alarm and you had to start again. It was supposed to test hand/eye co-ordination and reflexes but it wasn't always so. Dex had been pretty impressive with it, rarely setting the buzzer off. That was until Mace had discovered the Corellian boy had cheated by disconnecting it from the power socket before he started…
There was no buzzer to set off but he managed to get the offending article of clothing onto Sal-Fina as quickly as possible in virtually one movement and all done without even looking at her. Quite what skills he was putting to use this time he really wouldn't know but one thing was for sure: he hadn't learned it in the crèche.
Sal-Fina (with both legs still waving in the air like an up-ended turtle) completed the move by wriggling on her back until she finally managed to pull them fully on. Qui-Gon's expression amused her. It was almost worth getting bitten just to see the look on his face.
And her toe?
It throbbed a bit but it didn't seem that bad. Dare she hope? Would things be all right?
"You can look now." Sal-Fina snorted a laugh as Qui-Gon allowed himself to turn round. "Imagine if somebody had caught us. What would they have thought, hmm?"
"It doesn’t bear thinking about." Answered Qui-Gon out the corner of his mouth.
"Look," Sal-Fina sighed deeply, casting her eyes upward at Qui-Gon, "Please Jinny - I can't stay like this indefinitely. There must be something else…"
"Tourniquet!" Qui-Gon snapped his fingers.
"My toe has suffered enough!" Sal-Fin a pouted. "I'm tired and I want to get some sleep."
Qui-Gon wondered if maybe the effects of the poison in her system were beginning to take hold. He chewed fretfully at his lip for a moment, wondering what to do next.
"I'm going to carry you over to the pod." He stated finally. "You can rest your leg against its frame. Then…"
Sal-Fina caught the uncertain look in his eye.
"You know what I think you are going to have to do?" Sal-Fina smiled suggestively.
"What?" the flat tone the master used just about summed up the way he was feeling.
"You are going to have to suck the poison out!"
Qui-Gon curled his lip ever so slightly at the prospect of sucking Sal-Fina's big toe.
"In that case," he remarked with evident distaste, "I'm glad that when you were bitten by the creature you hadn't sat down on it."