you were knee-high / you follow the words

They were both there, Yoda and Obi-wan, the two greatest diplomats of the Order, because the vice-president of the Hyper-Communications Cartel had developed a secret share minority, and wanted to bring the company to ground and reenter the Republic without the Cartel's leader, former Republic Senator Po Nudo, being aware.

They had agreed to meet on an uninhabited, unclaimed Outer Rim moon with nothing much of interest. There were no clone troopers with them, as a show of faith.

Unfortunately, Po Nudo had been aware. They'd found the vice-president's body in pieces, with blaster-marks through their skull, tusks, and chest cavity.

'We should put their body in water,' said Obi-wan, 'if there were any around here, which there isn't. The Aqualish funeral tradition...'

He trailed off, hearing a slight noise behind him, well out of range of usual mammalian or amphibious hearing. He exchanged a glance with Yoda, who had been the one to close the unfortunate vice-president's six eyes. Yoda raised the wrinkles on his forehead, and gestured to his lightsaber. 'The funeral tradition?' asked Yoda, as if he didn't know. Right. Keep talking.

'The Aqualish are an amphibious species,' continued Obi-wan, 'and while they have adapted to land, their homeworld is a water world.' Yoda was hopping across the ground, making a great show of examining every little bit of earth. His ears trembled, sensing imminent danger, but Obi-wan still saw the enemy before he did. It was a commando droid, inorganic and thus impossible to sense.

Jedi couldn't sense droids with the Force, not unless the droids were old enough to have gathered a Force presence about themselves, like the ancient Professor Huyang. That was why even B1 battle droids were so dangerous - they could ambush Republic troops in ways that organic foes never could.

The commando droid was lying on a boulder. Obi-wan could see it over the top of the boulder, but it was at a height taller than his head as it aimed a sniper rifle downwards. It would not be in Yoda's sightline.

'Master Yoda!' shouted Obi-wan, lunging in front of the blaster as it whirred into action, then fired.

Agony seared through his leg, below the knee that Dooku had sliced into on Geonosis. Even as he staggered, crying out, Yoda jumped over him, flipping three times to gain height. His lightsaber flashed by his side like a tongue.

The commando droid clattered to the rock in five pieces, three tumbling off it and to the ground. Its blaster was cut in half. Yoda jumped onto the legs, and rode them down. Then, he hopped off and rushed to a crouch beside him. 'Obi-wan!' he said.

'I'm fine,' said Obi-wan. 'It just hurt my leg.' He had sat up, painfully, making himself useful by checking for other enemies and retrieving Yoda's dropped cane. He hadn't found any other enemies, but that didn't mean there weren't any there. He had one palm pressed against his upper leg, so that he didn't press it against his lower leg and touch the wound. From this height, if Yoda hadn't seen them there was no way that he would.

He reached his other hand out to Yoda, who took it. Obi-wan gently pushed past his claws to rest his splayed fingers on Yoda's chest. From the heel of his palm to his fingertips, his lone hand could cover most of Yoda's vital internal organs. Just that one blaster bolt could have torn through his heart, his lungs, and his stomach, and his spinal cord. It could so very easily have been fatal, even for a being as strong in the Force as Master Yoda was. 'It would have hit you in the chest, Master.'

'Moved out of the way, I could have,' said Yoda unhappily. 'Or deflected with lightsaber.'

'And I'm - younger,' said Obi-wan, wincing with pain, as if Yoda had said nothing.

'Very young, are you, yes,' scolded Yoda. Yoda's gnarled hand, and its hooked claws, were somehow smooth and cool on his forehead. Obi-wan felt the pain melting away.

'Master,' he said, frowning, scolding in turn. Ten years ago, he would have been horrified to hear that he had scolded Master Yoda. Fifteen years ago, he would have been flabbergasted that he had jumped in front of a blaster for Yoda. Master Yoda was invincible, after all.

He had been using his hoverchair less frequently, since the war broke out, even at home in the Temple. Obi-wan suspected that it was to avoid an appearance of physical weakness, something Yoda had never shied away from in the past. His delight was in subverting outward expectations of him, and in teaching beings to do the same for themselves.

'Hurt me, it does, for you to be in pain,' said Yoda, clipped. It didn't show that he was hurting physically, but it did show that he was upset.

Obi-wan sighed, ceding the point. He knew that it hurt Yoda when any Jedi was in pain. He knew that Yoda had been hurting a lot, ever since Geonosis.

'Foolish, foolish, Obi-wan,' said Yoda.

'I wouldn't go that far,' said Obi-wan. 'Really, Master, I'm alright.' He got to his feet, leaning more heavily on his unhurt leg. 'However, I do think that we should leave.'

'On that,' said Yoda, taking up his cane, 'agree, I do.' They held hands on the way back to their small ship, like younglings, or like one youngling and one crechemaster. Yoda had served a brief - for Yoda - stint as a crechemaster some centuries ago, Obi-wan knew, both after and before he had served as a diplomat, and before he was elevated to the Council. He still treasured spending time with younglings, which was plain to everyone. All Jedi remembered Yoda from the first years of their memory, their sly, silly teacher who taught them about the nature of the Force before they fight held lightsabers. All Jedi except Anakin.

When they were on the ship, Yoda programmed the navicomputer, and Obi-wan limped to the pilot's seat, which was human-sized, as most things were, and piloted them out of the moon's thin atmosphere. The pain had come back, by then, so they put the ship into hyperspace, then Obi-wan limped back to another chair so he wouldn't accidentally jar any of the controls, and Yoda used the Force to pull a medkit from its compartment in the ceiling. He opened it up, swiftly and efficiently locating a tube of bacta gel, a swab, a bacta patch, and a bandage.

Obi-wan pushed back the end of his tabard, and rolled up his trouser leg. It stuck, around the wound, so he and Yoda gently pried it off, Obi-wan wincing once or twice. The wound was red and black, a nasty burn that was also bleeding, having pierced the flesh. Yoda patted some of the pus and blood away with the gauze swab, then spread bacta gel onto the other side. The pain relief was instant, cool, and blissful. Then Yoda carefully covered the damaged skin with a bacta patch, and tied it into place with the bandage, so it wouldn't be jolted away.

'Thank you, Master,' said Obi-wan. Yoda, washing his hands off, grunted, and put the medkit over to the side, because it was hard to use the Force to strap it in while he was also using the Force to hold it up. Normally Yoda would have no problem from such a feat, but he seemed to be in a bad mood, and the Force opened itself up when met with serenity, not grumpiness.

'Together,' said Obi-wan, lifting it up with the Force. Wordlessly, Yoda twitched one of his hands to the side, and the buckle clicked into place, the medkit now stowed, once again, above the seats.

Yoda climbed onto the seat next to Obi-wan. Obi-wan gave him his robe, to pad one of the sides of the seat with, so he wouldn't be bouncing around quite as much in the case of any turbulence. Yoda, who had never minded a bit of bouncing, put it over himself and made silly hand gestures until Obi-wan laughed. Then, Yoda picked it back up and threw it over Obi-wan’s head.

Then they commed Mace Windu, because even Grand Master Yoda had to report to the Master of the Order.

He flickered into view, wearing white clone armor gauntlets and with something that could have been soot or dirt or dried blood on one side of his face. 'Masters,' said Mace, with a brief bow.

Obi-wan and Yoda, both seated, bowed back from their chairs.

Mace, clearly able to see no third being in the ship, and the discussion over earlier than expected, immediately folded his arms together, eyes flickering sharply over them. He knew that the mission had failed. 'Are you -' he started, and then his look-over reached Obi-wan's leg. 'Obi-wan,' he said.

'I'm fine,' said Obi-wan. He was getting a little tired of the Jedi Order's most important and respected Masters fussing over a simple and easily treated leg injury. 'It's just a blaster bolt to the leg, really.'

Mace, fortunately, acknowledged this, turning his attention to Yoda, who was tilting one ear up at Obi-wan and the other at Mace. His expression was difficult to read. 'Yoda,' said Mace.

'Not hurt, was I,' he said. He sounded nearly petulant. 'Perhaps except by Master Kenobi's unnecessary measures.' He thumped his cane against the floor to emphasis his last words with a clang, which involved using the Force as he threw it and called it back up into his hand.

Obi-wan asked the Force for patience and, blessedly, received it, and understanding for good measure. Yoda, surely, had been completely capable of avoiding the blaster bolt, and was distressed not by Obi-wan taking a hit meant for him, but for a hit being unnecessarily taken. The losses of Geonosis and the outbreak of galactic war had damaged Obi-wan's faith in what he had always regarded as being impossible to break. Yoda, of course, had been damaged too, but that didn't mean that he was less capable than the Yoda of Obi-wan's youth. Still, Obi-wan stood by his choice, and he was more than willing to explain why. 'The force distribution of that blaster bolt -'

Mace cut him off, raising one hand for silence, and Obi-wan obeyed the command. 'Did you jump in front of a blaster bolt intended for Master Yoda?' he asked.

'The Force intended it for me,' said Obi-wan primly.

Mace let out a slow, deep breath, and Obi-wan rather thought to get in front of any further stern words that came from a place of care and concern. 'I've already,' he said, 'been scolded quite enough.'

Mace shook his head. 'Any Jedi would have done the same,' he told both of them, and then he turned to Yoda. 'Master, you can't protect everyone.'

'Know this, I do,' said Yoda sourly. The exchange sounded worn-out, like a discussion that they'd had multiple times. 'Better than you, young one.' Mace sighed. Yoda's right ear twitched up, but his left ear flattened against his skull, a clear sign of his displeasure. 'Think that I am a youngling, do you, Master Windu, Master Kenobi? Small am I, so must be protected?'

'It's not speciesm, it's physics,' said Mace, in the tired, dry tone he used that always left you not completely certain whether or not he thought he was being funny.

'If I thought that you were a youngling, Master,' said Obi-wan, 'I wouldn't have pointed out that you were elderly.'

Yoda snorted. 'Say it like that, you did not. Call yourself young you did, not me old, hm?'

And just like that, the tension broke, like Yoda had always been skilled at doing. Obi-wan chuckled, moving a hand up to his beard. Mace raised an eyebrow. Then, to Obi-wan's great surprise, Yoda jumped down to his feet and, thus standing up, bowed to him in the proper way. 'Your forgiveness, I ask, Master Kenobi,' he said. 'Speaking from emotion, I have been. Not fitting for Grand Master, this is.'

'Rise, great-grandmaster,' said Obi-wan gently. 'I acted from emotion, too. I would not have done it had I not loved you.' He would have taken a blow for anyone, but his reason would have been different.

Obi-wan held out his hand, and Yoda took it, allowing Obi-wan to help him move back up into his seat. He stared up impishly at Obi-wan. 'Not fitting for Grand Master,' he repeated. 'For great-grandmaster, though...'

Mace rolled his eyes. 'Alright, family man,' he said. To both Obi-wan and Yoda's delight, he sounded like he had only just substituted 'family' for 'old'.

They turned to the more serious debriefing, of failure and death and ongoing war and loss, then - but the bright moment, the brief hope of peace, and that strange fleeting, whimsical scene of happy Lineage, for once, remained.