Bruck Chun is a poodoo-head.
Obi-Wan knew that he should not be thinking such things. After all, initiates his age had been trained since forever not to think bad things about other kids in his clan. But he didn't care. After all, he was five and practically a Padawan and the Masters always told him to tell the truth, no matter what. So he would tell the truth because that's what Jedi did.
Truth is that Bruck is a poodoo-head. He has been a poodoo-head since the day he was born and would be a poodoo-head until the Force took him back again.
Well, unless the Force didn't take back poodoo-heads. He knew he shouldn't be thinking what he was thinking but wouldn't that be great? No more Bruck, no more teasing, no more listening to him brag about how he can do everything better than anyone else, better than the Masters, better than Obi-Wan could, better than the rest of the Clan put together.
No more Bruck teasing him with that stupid name.
Okay, he had to admit that he was mad at the poodoo-head because Bruck had pushed him into the best block tower he'd ever built and wrecked it. And Chun then called him by that... name and all the other kids in the Clan started calling him that. It wasn't very nice.
He was not Oafy-Wan.
He knew he should be letting it go like the Masters said. Whatever letting go meant. But that wasn't any reason not to tell the truth.
Poodoo-head... poodoo-head... poodoo-head!
And he would have kept that thought in his head for a long, long time, enjoying every second of knowing that he was right and Chun was wrong - well, except for one odd thing. Behind him, someone started to giggle.
Now he knew he should have been alone there. He'd made sure there was no one around when he'd gathered up all the plastiwood blocks that he needed to build his great tower and he'd cleared a space in the back part of the Clan dormitory for it. He wouldn't want people to see what he was doing until it was all done and perfect and something that Bruck couldn't wreck.
It was really huge and tall and the best tower he'd ever built so far and he was almost finished. But he didn't want anyone to know about it until he was done and now there was another kid watching him.
Annoyed at being caught out he stood there for a minute, hoping that whoever it was, it wasn't Chun and his poodoo friends.
When there was another giggle and nothing else, he sighed in resignation and turned around, expecting the worst. But instead of pointing fingers and more name-calling, he saw a little girl, maybe two or three, staring at him with her big blue eyes, her face all scrunched up.
She didn't have any clothes on.
Stars! Why do all little kids like to run around naked? It was embarrassing and kind of yucky. Besides that, he didn't have time for this.
The kid must have gotten lost and he should stop what he was doing and take the girl back to her cr?che, wherever that was. Find her some clothes, too, before he took her back. But he wasn't sure.
If he called the cr?che master, they'd come and ask why he had a girl with him and why was she naked and did he take her clothes and what happened that she was there in the first place. He couldn't tell them anything because he had no idea who she was and as for the naked part, really... kids should learn to keep their clothes on.
What was worse was that everyone would find out that he was trying to build the biggest and the best block tower ever made in the history of the Jedi Order and he'd never finish it in time. And then he would get called loser and failure and Oafy-Wan. Bruck would claim that he was still the best at everything and that Obi-Wan couldn't build anything without knocking it over. Again.
And they might call him worse names - cause he had a naked kid in the room with him. Yuck.
Maybe he could just ignore her. Maybe she would go away.
That might work. Then she could go giggle at someone else and get them into trouble instead.
So he turned back and started putting up more blocks onto his tower and tried to forget that she was there. But she wouldn't leave. Instead, she took one of the colorful blocks and started toward his tower. The way her face was all frowny in a kind of concentrated sort of way, he figured she was trying to help so he grabbed at her hand, trying to take the cube and said "No!" in a loud clear voice.
That was the wrong thing to say and the wrong thing to do. The kid just scowled at him and said, "Mine." Then, she hugged it to her chest, daring him to take it back.
Oh, this was bad. Obi-Wan figured that if he tried to get it, they'd end up fighting about it and fall over right into his tower and topple all his hard work. That would be a terrible thing.
So he did what any Jedi would do. He decided to share, sort of. He took another block and gave it to her and said, "You could build your own tower."
For a minute, he thought that the girl was going to insist that she help with his but then she smiled and grabbed the second cube and started to put one on top of the other in her own little pile. Then she was looking around for another one and, before you know it, her tower was getting pretty tall and she was giggling again.
But she still didn't have any clothes on.
Obi-Wan shook his head at the whole mess. He figured if she was going to stay here for a while, he better get her dressed at least. Watching her carefully to make sure she hadn't decided that her tower was done and she would help him with his, he walked over to his locker and pulled out a tunic and some leggings. They would be huge on the kid but at least she would look the part of a Jedi and he wouldn't be in trouble for anything. This time.
She was frowning again at her tower, looking to see where to put the next block when he came over to her and pushed the clothes into her hands.
"You need to get dressed," he insisted but she dropped the fabric, looking as stubborn as any one he'd ever seen. Her frown could even scare old poodoo-head Chun and her mouth was flat. She looked like she could punch him out right there.
Glaring at him, the kid said, "No. Hot."
He just sighed and picked up the clothes and shoved them at her. She might be pushy and a little girl but Obi-Wan could be just as stubborn and he was older, too. "I don't care. Get dressed or go away."
"No, too hot." Folding her arms across her chest, she stood there as if she could outlast the universe or at least one five-year-old boy. She shook her head and sniffed at him.
If Obi-Wan was in the mood for jokes, it would have been funny, especially if it was someone else, anyone else but him having to talk a naked three-year-old into getting dressed.
Stars, she could out-pout Master Yoda. "Well, put on the tunic at least."
"No. Not mine."
Oh, oh, the glare she was giving him had just gotten glarier and she looked like she was about to hit him. This could ruin everything. Obi-Wan had to think fast before she destroyed his tower and ran away and told everyone that she'd been in his room. Without any clothes on. Yucky girl.
So he looked down at the tunic and pants and then gave her a little smile. She was a smart kid but he thought maybe she would fall for this. He hoped she would because he'd run out of ideas otherwise. "Yes, it's mine and I lik.... like you a lot." He pushed the outfit towards her again. "Jedi share things, you know. And I wanted to share this with you. Like a Jedi should."
"Jedi share things?" He must have caught her off-guard. She seemed to be expecting him to bully her into getting dressed and here he was, asking her if she'd like to share his stuff - as a favor. She looked uncertain and the pout had gone away.
Carefully and with great dignity, he nodded, "Yes, Jedi share things and you could wear this. Just like a Jedi." But he didn't shove the clothes at her again. Instead he stood there patiently and waited for her to reach for them. If she thought it was her idea....
Sending him a brilliant smile, she grabbed both the tunic and the leggings and started to put them on - hurriedly as if she thought he would take them back. "Siri is Jedi."
Trying not to laugh at her standing there swimming in his clothes, Obi-Wan gave her a pleased nod. But it was hard. The tunic was almost dragging on the floor and the leggings flopped this way and that as she walked around in them. But she seemed to be glad to have something new to play with, almost as if she were dressing up for a dance or the Opera. Girls were just so weird.
"My name is Obi-Wan." He thought that maybe since she was wearing his clothes, she might want to know his name.
But instead, she just giggled again, "Silly name, Obi," and went back to seeing just how much noise she could make flinging out the legging bottoms and flapping her arms, trying to make them snap with each sudden movement. At least she wasn't playing with his blocks any more.
"No, Obi-Wan." For some reason, he wanted her to remember his real name. Why, he wasn't sure. After all, she was just a girl, wasn't she?
"Obi," she insisted, staring at him for a moment and starting to pout again.
It wasn't important enough to argue. Besides, she was kind of cute with the flapping leggings and the fact that she was almost buried in the tunic. "Okay, sure. Obi."
With that, her brilliant smile returned and she danced up to him. "Obi share. Thank Obi." And then she lifted up on her little feet and put out her chubby fingers to pull him down to her level and then she kissed Obi-Wan right on the mouth.
Yuck and double yuck.
He wanted to wipe his face right then but he didn't dare. She might start yelling or do something that silly girls do and then he'd be in for it. But he couldn't help asking, "What did you do that for?"
Blinking at him, those huge blue eyes of hers were suddenly getting all watery and she was looking at him as though she was going to cry. Sounding very puzzled and not a little hurt, she said slowly, "Thank Obi."
Her face was quivering. Did that mean that she was upset?
He didn't want her to be unhappy or anything but kissing a girl was not something he wanted to do. And if Chun and his friends ever found out, that could be ten times worse than getting kissed by a yucky girl! He'd never hear the end of it. It would be awfuler than being called Oafy-Wan and getting tripped all the time.
Oh, this was bad. He better let her know or she might do it again. Of course, he should make it sound like it was obvious so that she didn't get all mad or anything. "Well, girl Jedi don't kiss boy Jedi. Never ever. It's a Jedi rule. And you wouldn't want to go against the rules, would you?"
But when the quivering only got worse and her cheeks were getting wet and she gave a kind of sobbing hiccup, he knew he was in for it unless he said something else very, very quickly - something to make her stop. Before he got into trouble. "Don't cry, Siri, please don't. All right, you can kiss me if you want. Just make sure no one else sees you, okay?"
Nodding, she wiped her face and nose with one sleeve of his tunic and gave him a little smile. "Love you...."
He had been so focused on keeping Siri from crying that he'd forgotten all about Bruck or his Clan or being aware of his surroundings like a good Jedi should. So the snort from behind him just about scared him clean out of his wits.
Whipping around, he saw Bruck standing there by the door with his hands jammed onto his hips and his bony chest puffed out like some kind of big ugly bird would do when they were too stupid to run away. Obi-Wan really didn't like him very much. It wasn't Jedi but he didn't care. The boy was just mean.
"Oafy-Wan kissing a girl? That's disgusting." Bruck let out another snort and then started hollering, "Oafy's got a girl-friend! Oafy's got a girl-friend!" The way he said it like that, all creepy and kind of slimy, just made Obi-Wan want to hit him.
He didn't dare. Last time they got into a fight, he'd had to clean the Clan 'freshers for a week. Of course, Bruck had to clean the 'freshers too but that didn't make him feel any better. The look on Master Yoda's face had just been really awful, disappointed and sad, and he had told himself that he never wanted to see that look again. But the poodoo-head Chun was asking for it.
Obi-Wan pushed Siri behind him. Just in case. "Go away, Bruck."
Instead of doing the smart thing and leaving, Bruck laughed and walked over next to him. Looking down at the girl, his face was all scrunched up in a sneer - trouble waiting to happen. "You're such a loser, you know. Kissing a yucky girl. But I guess she's too stupid to know better than to hang around with a nobody like you."
Feeling Siri pressed up against his side, Obi-Wan glanced down and gave her an encouraging smile and then scowled at the other boy. "Shut up, Bruck. She's just a kid. Leave her alone."
Bruck shoved his face close to his own, and grabbing onto his tunic, shook him a bit. Reaching up, Obi-Wan tried to pull away but Chun was too strong. "Why don't you make me? Oafy-Wan. The nerf that keeps tripping over his own feet. Can't make any friends here so I guess you have to kidnap them from the cr?che."
Then, with a sound of disgust, Bruck let go and shoved Obi-Wan aside, turning his attention to the scowling girl. "Hey, kid. You should stay away from this loser. Go back home before Oafy-Wan trips over you, too."
It was then that things got out of hand. Bruck pushed past him, grabbing onto Siri's arm and began dragging her toward the door. She screeched at him, clawing at his hand and calling for help. Obi-Wan wasn't about to let some stupid nerf hurt the kid and he yanked her away from Chun, sending her spinning safely out of the way.
But as Obi-Wan shoved her aside, Bruck took advantage of the situation, swinging his big fist right around. The sound of Bruck's hand hitting Obi-Wan's face was nothing to the pain that exploded in his head. For a moment, he blanked out. Then instinct took over and he jammed his own fist right into Chun's nose. There was a satisfying crunch of breaking bone and blood spurted out of Bruck's face. Backing off, Obi-Wan only then noticed that his hand was throbbing; he shoved it under his armpit to try and stop the pain.
Obi-Wan blinked, looking at the mess in the dorm room. There was blood and snot everywhere. Bruck lay sprawled out on the floor, screaming his name, and all around him were the remains of the block tower that Obi-Wan had so carefully built that morning.
The poodoo-head had ruined it after all.
But it didn't matter. Siri came first. He had to get her out of there.
Grabbing onto her hand with his own good one, he half-walked, half-dragged her into the hallway, hustling down toward the turbolift. Behind him, Bruck was still screeching, threatening to tell the Masters that he'd been attacked. But Obi-Wan would cross that wire-trap when he came to it.
When they were far enough away that it seemed safe for the moment, Obi-Wan kneeled down and hugged Siri. She had been very brave.
She hugged him back and gave him a little kiss on the good cheek. "Obi save. Love Obi."
That made him blush but he needed to get her back to her group, back to the safety of her cr?che before poodoo-head Bruck recovered enough to come after them. "Siri, what is your cr?che name? Do you know?"
She nodded solemnly, "Nexu. Know where it is. You come?"
Yes, he knew where that was, a couple of floors down. She must have either taken the stairs or the turbolift earlier but he needed to get her back where she was safe. He tugged at her hand and started walking again, her following him only reluctantly. "I'll take you home. You'll be safe there."
"Obi stay?" Her blue eyes glistened with hope as she said it. Her hand trembled in his.
But then her sweet face fell when he said, "Siri, I can't stay. My Clan needs me. And I need to go to the Masters and tell them what happened." As she started to quiver again, looking unhappy and a little scared, he said quickly, "That's what a Jedi would do."
Her concentrating kind of frown came back and she only took a few more steps before she nodded. "Obi good Jedi. Visit Siri?"
Smiling down at her, he chuckled, "I guess I am. I try hard to be. And I promise to visit when I can. If that's okay with you?"
Giving him a solemn nod and then a brilliant grin, she tugged on his hand, "Okay. Obi visit. Love Obi." And then she started pulling him down the hallway, laughing and eager to return to her cr?che and start their visit.
He knew that she didn't really understand. He had to go and find the Masters and face punishment for what he did. He was sure there would be plenty this time.
But at least he had made a new friend today and even with all the pain and the ruin of his block tower and the fear of what lay ahead, there was one thing that he was glad to know.
Girls weren't really so bad after all.
Original cover by rhonderoo. HTML formatting copyright 2006 TheForce.Net LLC.