TITLE: From Little Acorns (Mighty Oaks doth grow)…
This story is set approx. three months after "I Promise You"
NB: Obi-Wan is fifteen (just) in this story.
The eye closed; long dark lashes folding shut in fastidious concentration.
Intrigued, the other eye stared straight ahead.
The object placed under such intense scrutiny was, on the face of it, nothing spectacular. A medium sized pot filled nearly to the top with rather moist soil sat on the side of the dining table, with its admirer merely inches away. Chin resting on bended arm, Jemmiah continued to stare in rapt fascination at the little mound of earth.
It wasn't so much the soil that was interesting but the contents…
"What have you got there?" A deep voice from over her shoulder asked.
"N-nothing." Jemmy replied quickly.
Qui-Gon frowned in puzzlement. It wasn't like Jemmiah to remain so still and silent for any length of time. Especially when occupied with something as mundane and seemingly normal as a bowl of compost.
"If it's nothing, why has it got you so enraptured?" Qui-Gon folded his arms. "What are you up to?"
Jemmiah turned a hurt expression on him.
"It's a project we've got at school." She replied in an injured tone. "We've been given three bulbs to grow. We have to see who can grow them the fastest and who gets the biggest flowers on them. That sort of thing. And let me tell you, there's a LOT of competition."
Qui-Gon's puzzlement grew as quickly as his smile did.
"I never had you down as a lover of nature." He apologized, leaning in for a closer inspection of the plant pot.
"I'm not that bothered usually," Jemmy admitted, "but this is interesting."
"But it's not doing anything." He said. "How can you find it so thrilling?"
"It is," Jemmy let her brooding stare fall back on the soil, "you just can't see it."
"Oh." Qui-Gon stifled a laugh at her expression. "Well, if you'll forgive me for saying this, I'm not sure that your staring at it will help it to grow any quicker."
"Course it will." She said defiantly.
The Jedi master shook his head ruefully. She'd been living with them now for three months and just when he thought he had her more or less sussed out she'd go and surprise him again.
"And how will it do that?"
"I'm not just staring at it," the ten-year-old tilted her head to one side. "I'm thinking nice thoughts at it to get it to grow quicker."
Qui-Gon looked at her in astonishment.
"And what are you thinking of?" He asked.
"Well, I'm trying to picture what it'll look like when it's all grown up and beautiful with lots of flowers. And I'm thinking how tall it's going to get."
She stood up, with her hands grasped protectively round the pot.
"But most of all I'm picturing Sophie Digwurt's plant all scabby and chewed up by killer Chomp Weeds!" She grinned, walking away to sit down on the couch.
Qui-Gon regarded her as she stared intently into the soil again.
"It's nice to know the fair play ethic is still alive and well in modern schooling." He muttered.
Mealtime had passed in an unusually silent fashion.
Obi-Wan had sat down and stuffed himself as was befitting a constantly starving, growing young man of fifteen. The normal source of noise and chatter however was still preoccupied with the plant pot that sat next to her on the table, and for the first time in three months Qui-Gon found himself in the awkward position of being the one forced to make the conversation. His padawan didn't seem to mind. Infact, Jinn was under the impression that was one of the reasons that Obi-Wan had been so happy that the young girl had come to live with them.
It meant that he could get on with his meal all the quicker.
Qui-Gon sighed inwardly as he watched Jemmiah pick up her spoon, eyes still on the pot at the side, and slowly, very slowly begin to bring the food towards her lips. At the last minute she remembered to open her mouth.
"What did Zac have to say for himself today then, Obi-Wan?"
Obi-Wan swallowed the food in his mouth.
"You must have discussed something?"
"Not really." He tucked into his sweet with all the gusto of a hungry wood ant.
This was getting ridiculous, thought Qui-Gon.
"Is it true that if you talk to plants they grow faster?" Jemmiah asked suddenly.
Qui-Gon considered it.
"Well, they have done research into this subject and although they couldn't find anything conclusive, they do think that it's possible."
"Was that a yes or a no?" Jemmiah asked, her brows furrowing.
"Yes." Jinn said, taking a mouthful of water.
"Then how does it work?" She hesitated. "Plants don't have ears. How do they hear?"
How does she come up with these questions, Jinn wondered.
"Well," he thought as considered his answer, "it's to do with vibrations. They can't pick up on the actual words but they can feel the sound waves around them."
"Like the force?"
"Exactly like the force." Qui-Gon smiled, pleased to be back on a subject he knew something about. "The plant is a living thing. The force is in all living things…"
"It's not in Sophie Digwurt." She growled.
We're going to have to do something about that Corellian temper, thought Qui-Gon to himself.
"Even in Sophie Digwurt." Qui-Gon replied.
"I want proof of that." Sniffed the girl.
Qui-Gon put down his spoon.
"What's the legendary Miss Digwurt done to get you all riled up?" He asked.
Jemmiah chewed the same mouthful of food for a good long while.
"She said my plant wouldn't grow because it wouldn't want to see my ugly, Corellian face." She pouted.
"Did she?" Qui-Gon became indignant. "First of all you are NOT ugly."
"I am! Everyone thinks I am! They call me freaky eyes!"
"Why?" Obi-Wan managed to say through a mouthful of toffee.
"Because my eyes are a funny color."
"They are NOT a funny color. They are a lovely color." Qui-Gon reassured her. "They're just unusual."
"Master Qui-Gon's right." Obi-Wan nodded. "They're just jealous."
"Quite so, padawan." Agreed Jinn.
"And they keep laughing at me coz I'm so skinny." Jemmiah looked at the table.
"You will grow in time." He pointed to the pot. "Like that plant."
"It's not doing much of anything either." She sighed.
Qui-Gon watched the sorrowful expression.
"Perhaps I should have a word with this girl." He said.
"N-no. Don't do that!" Jemmiah pleaded. "It'll only make things a hundred times worse."
A small smile crept onto her face.
"Anyhow there's no need. I've already taken care of her."
"How?" Qui-Gon dreaded the answer.
"It doesn't matter." She said impishly. "Just something to make sure she doesn't tangle with me again."
Qui-Gon considered mentioning that he didn't think that revenge was the right way to go about things but then he saw that her mood had lightened and decided to let it rest. For a few minutes more nothing disturbed the silence except for the sound of contented munching.
"Do you know what else Digwurt said?" Jemmiah spat the word out.
"Oh, I'm always happy to hear what our leading horticultural expert has to say." Qui-Gon smiled.
"She said that if I was a plant I'd be a stunted weed, or a piece of Corelli Bog Wrack coz the slugs are the only thing that'll touch it."
"She sounds delightful." Obi-Wan said dryly, remembering his own torment at the hands of Bruck Chun for so many years.
"And she also said that the Jedi were a bunch of con artists and tricksters, and that I couldn't get my plant to grow even if the force DID exist, which it didn't."
"Sounds like a challenge to me." Qui-Gon remarked.
"That's what I thought." Jemmiah agreed. "So it'll be up to me to prove her wrong."
"Good." Smiled the master. "I'm sure you will."
He watched as his padawan helped himself to another slice of toffee cake, then switched his vision back to the girl who was once again hawkishly staring at the plant pot.
I hope this plant surfaces rapidly, he thought, because if it doesn't everyone's life is going to be made a Corellian hell…
The morning began as usual for Qui-Gon.
He woke up, looked at the time on the chrono by his bed and sent cheery and wakeful thoughts to his padawan.
As usual his padawan ignored them.
Then he wrapped his robe around him and ventured out onto the balcony, again sending Obi-Wan his morning alarm call.
Again his padawan ignored him.
Qui-Gon proceeded with his regime by breathing in the air deeply, trying to persuade his heart and lungs that he hadn't left them along with his body, behind in bed, this time issuing Obi-Wan with a stern reminder that it was time to venture forth into the land of the living and see what glorious things the force would throw at them on this truly wonderful Coruscant morning.
Obi-Wan responded in typical fashion by placing his cushion over his head.
The next port of call for Qui-Gon was the kitchen to pour himself a glass of fresh Citrus juice. This was the point (today being no exception) where he would inform Obi-Wan that if he wished to eat anything at all that morning he had better look lively and move his rear to the dining area.
Just as ever, the bleary eyed padawan threw open his door and hastened to the kitchen.
Qui-Gon ended the morning ritual as he always did by thanking the force that he knew his padawans' weaknesses…
A small sound interrupted his thoughts as he bustled round in the kitchen, preparing to make the toast. He glanced towards the couch.
"What are you doing up so early?" He asked.
Jemmiah straightened up from her bent double position.
"I'm talking to my bulbs!" she frowned.
Qui-Gon could now see three pots instead of the one she had shown him the day before.
"Do you not think you're perhaps taking this a little too seriously? He enquired.
"No way am I going to let that reptile beat me." She muttered.
Jemmiah bent over again.
"Listen, I'll strike a deal with you, OK? You start growing and I'll buy you a bigger pot. How about that?"
"It's not going to answer you." Jinn said flatly.
"I know, I know!" Jemmy pulled an impudent face. "I'm just giving it some encouragement."
"Seeing as you're up, perhaps you should get changed for school."
Jemmy looked at him in horror.
"It's the weekend!"
"Is it?" Qui-Gon frowned. " Sith! So it is."
"You said a bad word. I win!"
"What do you mean by that?" Qui-Gon couldn't understand what she was talking about.
"I had a bet with my bulbs that I could get you to swear within ten minutes of your getting up. I won, so now they have to start growing."
"I'm not convinced it works like that." Qui-Gon said, faintly embarrassed that he'd cursed in front of a ten-year-old.
"Course it does." She frowned at the soil again. "I'm not asking so much, am I? I'm only asking you to do what comes naturally…and anyhow, if you don't start growing in the next couple of days I'm going to drop you out of a high building!"
"Jemmiah!" Qui-Gon warned.
"Well, it's enough to drive anyone stark raving mad! How long do these things take to grow? I've been doing everything to help 'em and absolutely nothing has happened."
"These things take time. And if you drop them out of a window that's not exactly going to help you get one over on Ms Digwurt, is it?"
"Who says?" Jemmiah grinned. "I'd make sure she was underneath the window at the time!"
She picked up one of the pots.
"I'm sure you'll grow for me. I mean, you could have had Sophie tending to you. How would you have liked that, eh?"
Obi-Wan sauntered over; his short spiky hair and braid in considerable disarray.
"Master, why is Jemmy talking to the plant pot?"
Qui-Gon thought about it.
"Not now, Obi-Wan. It's too early in the morning for silly questions. And far too early for my even sillier answers."
Two days later and nothing had emerged from the soil.
"What am I doing wrong?" Jemmy moaned.
"You aren't doing anything wrong. Perhaps there was something wrong with the bulbs."
"More likely I killed them." She mumbled. "I seem to have the knack of doing that."
"Pardon?" Qui-Gon frowned.
She waved his question away.
"It doesn't matter. It doesn't look like I'm going to be winning any competitions, does it? Sophie Digwurt's bulbs have already started to poke above the surface."
"Nature's a funny thing." Qui-Gon smiled. "It doesn't necessarily follow that because your school colleague has got plants that are beginning to sprout that everyone else's will be the same."
"Figures." Jemmiah snorted. "Trust me to get the backward ones."
Qui-Gon tried to think of something comforting to say but felt he had just about exhausted his stock supply of consolatory words. It was a considerable relief therefor, when Mace Windu turned up outside his door.
"What's happening?" Mace asked. "There's nearly always some catastrophe or disaster round at your place so I thought I'd drop in on the off chance."
"You have no idea." Qui-Gon replied wearily. "I'm caught in the middle of school warfare and the Coruscant gardening society!"
Jemmiah walked over to Mace with a forlorn expression on her face.
"Why aren't my bulbs growing? You're on the council. You're s'posed to be smart. Tell me what I'm doing wrong, please? Otherwise Digwurt's gonna win and I might be forced to do something REALLY horrible."
"Who is Digwurt?" Mace screwed up his face.
"You don't want to know." Qui-Gon sighed.
Mace looked at the sad expression and melted. As Jemmiah had hoped he would.
"Hmmm. I'm not the green fingered one around here. Usually it's Qui-Gon."
"I know. The balcony looks like an allotment and he still can't help me." She muttered.
"Yoda has lots of plants." Why don't you ask him?"
"Do you think he'd speak to me?" Jemmy wondered. "He must be kinda busy."
"It's a good idea, Mace. Infact, it's a brilliant one. You take her to see him." Jinn smiled.
"It was your idea."
"But he was your master! And I see enough of him at Council meetings."
"He WAS my master. And I saw him everyday for seventeen years!"
"Point." Mace conceded.
Windu glanced down at Jemmiah.
"Oh, OK. C'mon then." He agreed reluctantly.
"Thanks Master Windu!" The gleam immediately returned to her eyes and left Mace wondering if perhaps the hang dog expression had been for his benefit.
Jemmiah grabbed her plant pot.
"Ready when you are sir!" She smirked.
Qui-Gon watched the pair of them leave. Ten years old and she already knew how to wrap a man around her little finger.
He didn't envy Mace at all.
"Master Yoda? May I have a word please?"
"Heard you I did. One moment you will wait." Yoda's voice grumbled over the intercom. "Old, I am. Move fast I cannot."
"He sounds kinda annoyed." Jemmiah whispered. "Perhaps this wasn't such a good idea."
"There's no need to be afraid of Yoda." Mace replied. "His bark is worse than his bite."
"He bites people?" Jemmiah jumped back a little.
"No, no. It's just an expression that means…oh, never mind. I thought you liked Master Yoda?"
"I do," Jemmy admitted, "I really like it when he sneaks up on Master Jinn and makes him jump!"
The door opened suddenly.
"Enter you may."
Mace managed to shuffle Jemmiah forward into the room with a guiding hand between her shoulder blades. The Corellian girl looked round Yoda's apartment and gawked.
"This is amazing!" She replied.
Well, she thought to herself, the smell was pretty awful but the place itself…
Everywhere she turned there was another variety of plant. Infact it was like wall to wall plants, with ivy creepers and marsh reeds and giant red leafed Aldera Lily pads sat in what looked like the middle of an artificially built lake. Only it was more of a swamp than a lake.
She could see Windu's nose begin to wrinkle in distaste at the smell.
"Like my home, you do?" Yoda regarded her through sleepy eyes.
"Did you do this?" Jemmiah asked. "It's incredible!"
"Hmm." Yoda nodded. "More to this old man than meets the eye there is, is that not right Master Windu?"
"Err..yeah." Said Mace, trying not to breathe in the strong, boggy smell.
Yoda looked amused.
"A cold you have?"
"Do, do." Mace shook his head. "I ab fine Baster Yoda."
"Hmmmmm." Yoda turned his eyes back to the Corellian child holding the plant pot. "Glad I am that you came to see me or visit you I would have."
"Thanks, I think." Jemmy blinked.
"A problem you have." He stated rather than asked.
Jemmiah shrugged and proffered the plant pot.
"I can't get this to grow. Everyone else in my class at school have plants that have sprouted but mine are still mooching around under the soil. I don't know what I'm doing wrong."
Yoda wandered down a large log towards her, tapping on the wood with his stick.
"Believe you are at fault you do?" He asked.
"I can't think what else it could be." Jemmiah looked at her feet.
"Hmph." Yoda snorted. "Blame things on yourself too much you do. Things not in your control."
"So it's not my fault?" Jemmy frowned as Yoda left his stick to one side and put his hands on the soil, frowning in concentration.
"Growing this plant is." He said eventually. "But slowly. Needs nurturing, it does."
"Then it's OK?" Her eyes lit up.
"Time it needs. Time and attention. Give it both and blossom it will."
Jemmiah frowned at the soil.
"Can I help it to grow? Is there something I can do?"
"Speed up time you would have me?" Yoda chuckled. "Grow at its own speed it will. But help it you can."
"How?" Jemmy asked curiously. "I asked Master Jinn and Master Windu for advice but they weren't much help."
Yoda's eyes travelled to Mace.
"Not an expert when it comes to the living force is this one." He nodded at Windu. "What said Master Jinn?"
"To wait and let nature take its course."
"And right he is." Yoda agreed. "Learned well my padawan has. Listen to Master Jinn you should. Learn much from him you will. And from his padawan."
Yoda closed his eyes momentarily as if trying to see something which wasn't quite there.
"Unhappy you are." He said.
"No." Jemmiah disagreed. "I like it here. It's just…I want to be normal. Like everyone else."
"Hrmph!" Yoda's eyes snapped open. "Pleased you should be that you are different. Tell me what you think is normal. Like your friends at school?"
Jemmiah thought about it.
"Maybe you're right." She considered. "If normal means being like Sophie Digwurt then I'm happy to stay as I am."
"What else?" He asked.
"It's just that I want to make a difference." She looked uncomfortable. "Nothing big. Everyone round here fits in and can do all sorts of things that I can't. I don't have the force."
"Think this matters to those who care for you?" Yoda asked.
Yoda looked straight at her.
"Make a difference you will. And a big difference it will be. But only in time."
"It seems to come down to time, doesn't it?" Jemmiah sighed. "I don't understand. What sort of difference?"
"Take the bulb." Yoda answered, "Be patient you will. Results you will see."
Mace was still hovering in the background, trying not to breathe through his nose. Yoda chuckled to himself.
"Wait outside, Master Windu. Speak with the imp alone I will."
"Well?" Qui-Gon asked when Mace escorted Jemmiah back, "what did he have to say?"
"He said you were right." Jemmiah didn't look too pleased. "He told me to show some patience."
Qui-Gon stood for a while with a puzzled expression.
"What's the matter?" Jemmiah frowned.
"I'm sorry. It's just that I could have sworn that you said something about Yoda telling you I was right."
Jinn shook his head as if dazed.
"I'm going to immortalize this day in my diary."
"How come the troll sent me out of his home?" Mace grew curious.
"You're complaining?" Asked Qui-Gon.
"Not on y our life. I hate the stink of that place."
"How do you think I felt? It didn't do much for me in the romantic stakes. I always had to sneak round to my girlfriends homes and even then they complained that my robes smelled like they'd been rotting in a bog for weeks and weeks." He looked at Jemmiah. "Cover your ears."
"You had girlfriends?" She asked, suddenly interested.
"There's no need to sound so surprised." Qui-Gon said, slightly wounded. "Even despite Yoda's attempts to stop me with his ancient recipe for gruel I managed to grow into a reasonable figure of a man, even if I say so myself. Don't you think so?"
"Well," She began, "you're maybe a little past your best…perhaps if you got rid of the beard?"
Qui-Gon looked shocked.
"I don't think so." He replied. "This beard and I go a long way back. I'm not shaving it off for anybody, and especially not to satisfy the curiosity of a ten year old girl who should be doing her mathematics homework."
"Rats." Complained Jemmy. "Nevermind. I'll get you one day. I'll make it my life's work to have that beard removed."
"Absolutely no way." Jinn answered with a smile.
"Oh, yeah. I almost forgot. Whilst he was singing your praises," Jemmiah placed the plant pot on the table next to the other two, "he also said that I couldn't really expect you both to help because when it came to the more practical, hands on aspects of gardening you were both totally useless."
"He said that did he? From someone who spends his private life hanging around a giant swamp I think that's a bit rich!"
"How could he say that about me?" Jinn demanded, pointing to the collection of ferns on his balcony.
"Don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger." Jemmiah looked back and forth between the three plant pots.
"I can see what Yoda means about you. "Jinn looked at Mace. "You single handedly managed to kill off virtually every decent plant in the herb gardens when you had that punishment for pulling Quirida-Xac's chair away from underneath him using the force."
"It wasn't my fault!" Mace declared indignantly. "I thought they were weeds! And what about you? Force feeding Yoda's plants gruel for years and years? That as good as makes you a mass murderer!"
"I'm a better gardener than you any day!"
"You know it!"
"It's true." Qui-Gon said smugly.
Jemmiah looked at him with large, rounded eyes.
"Prove it." She said.
"I said prove it." She pushed one pot over to Qui-Gon. "You take that one and…" she pushed the other at Mace, "You take that one. Let's see which of the three of us gets their plant the biggest."
Mace looked uncertain.
"What are you scared of, Mace?" Qui-Gon remarked. "Are you afraid that a ten year old girl is going to beat you?"
"Of course not!"
"Well then. Do as she says. Prove it!"
The self-satisfied gleam in Qui-Gon's eye was all the challenge that Windu needed to rise to the bait.
"OK. Fine. I accept." He shot his hand forward and shook on it. "May the best man win."
"I think not." Jemmiah grinned.
"Haven't you got studies to see to?" Qui-Gon reminded her.
"Yes." Jemmiah picked up her plant. "In a little while. I'm going to water my plant first."
"You don't want to over water it." Qui-Gon suggested.
"Whoa, Qui-Gon. She's the enemy now. If she wants to kill the thing that's up to her."
"You are also the enemy." Jinn smiled at Mace. "Go attend to your plant."
Sighing, Mace picked up the identical pot and poked his finger into the soil. Despite his bravado he knew very little about plants.
"Is this soil too dry, do you think?" He asked.
"Uh-uh. Not saying." Qui-Gon refused to help. "Figure it out for yourself."
Mace hooked a protective arm round the circumference of the pot and walked towards the door.
"I only came in to see if there was anything interesting happening." He muttered.
"Oh, force preserve us. What is it NOW?" Qui-Gon hissed, standing up and laying to one side the training schedule he'd prepared for his padawan over the next month.
There was a brief lull and the irritating pounding of music suddenly ceased as quickly as it had started. Qui-Gon blew out an annoyed breath. Which one of them was awake and playing music at this time of evening?
Then it started again.
"I don't believe this." He gritted his teeth.
Someone was going to regret this.
It was roughly 11.30 at night, give or take a few minutes. Not the sort of time for children to be up and playing loud music. Shutting his ears against the din, Qui-Gon strained his senses to see which of the two was the culprit, although he had a fair idea. Sure enough, he discovered his padawan was teetering on the edge of consciousness whilst Jemmiah was very much awake…
"That does it. If she thinks that she's getting away with this…"
Qui-Gon forced himself to calm down a degree or two before striding purposefully to Jemmiah's room. He paused for a brief moment, rapping twice on the door with his knuckles and then pushing the door open.
Jemmiah turned to face him with an extremely guilty expression on her face.
"Do you have ANY idea of the time?" He asked coldly.
"N-no." Jemmy frowned.
"Look at the chrono."
Jemmiah squinted up at the wall chrono.
"It's 11.29…whoops! It is a little late I s'pose." She confessed.
"What do you think you are doing playing music at this hour? And why aren't you dressed f or bed?"
"I'm not tired." She grumbled.
Qui-Gon looked closely at her.
"That is a blatant lie." He tried to look intimidating.
"I'm NOT!" She answered. "And the music wasn't my idea. It was Master Yoda's. He said that instead of speaking to my plant I could try playing some music…"
"Not at going on midnight." Qui-Gon glared.
"But he said…"
"Master Yoda is a very wise and honorable being but this is NOT Master Yoda's house. He is NOT in charge of you." Jinn folded his arms. "I am. Do you have a problem with that?"
"No sir." Jemmiah looked at the floor.
"I expect you to show some consideration for others whilst you live under my protection. Is that understood?"
"Good." He looked round the room. She'd managed to gather a fair amount of possessions in the three months since she'd arrived at the temple but her room was still neat and spotless. Obi-Wan on the other hand had very few personal belongings and yet his room always managed to transform itself into a hovel. He'd never understood how this happened.
It was something he classified as one of the hidden mysteries of the force.
"I'm sorry about the music." Jemmy shrugged. "I could always get some personal ear sets and…"
"Get changed for bed and go to sleep." He instructed.
"But I'm not sleepy!" Jemmiah insisted.
One look at Qui-Gon told her he wasn't buying it.
"I am going to check on you in twenty minutes and I want to see you either asleep or giving a very good impersonation of someone who is." He stared levelly at her.
He could have sworn she was on the verge of stamping her foot at him but she backed down with a curt nod, refusing to look him in the eye.
"Goodnight. AGAIN." He said, shutting the door on a very angry young lady.
Fifteen minutes had passed and Qui-Gon decided it was time to make his inspection.
He could tell she was still awake because he could feel the frustration, the annoyance and the exhaustion flooding from her in waves. He hoped she was at least attempting to get some sleep or there was going to be trouble…
His hopes were quickly dashed when he saw a light on from underneath her door.
Right, thought Qui-Gon silently, she's picked a fight with the wrong person…
This time the door flew open without any warning.
Jemmiah looked positively shocked.
"You said twenty minutes!" She said through a creaky voice.
"As I said earlier, I am the head of this household. I make the rules."
"That's not fair!"
Qui-Gon gave her a look that told her he was not joking this time.
"Give it here." He held his hand out for the little torch that she'd been using. "I don't allow Obi-Wan to read after hours and I am not making an exception for you."
"I wasn't reading!" She said sulkily. "I was shining it on my plant!"
Jinn looked firstly at her and then the pot with the soil in it.
"This has gone too far." He marched over to her bed and picked up the plant pot and the torch.
"What are you doing?" Jemmiah demanded.
Qui-Gon didn't even answer her, simply turned his back and marched through to the balcony, putting the pot down with all the other plants that were out there.
"No, not out there," Jemmy pleaded as she followed him out, "it's cold! How's it s'posed to grow when it's all frozen?"
He turned back to face her.
"Get back into bed."
"I'm not tired." She said belligerently. "Can't I get a hot drink?"
"You're just stalling."
"I don't want to go to sleep!"
"That's hardly an answer."
"Just…because. I'm not ready." He could see her digging her nails into her hands to stop her from shouting and causing an even bigger scene.
"Not good enough." He took a step forward. "I will not be dictated to by a sulky child who wants everything her own way. We'll talk about your behavior tomorrow. Now, for the last time: GET TO BED or I really will be angry."
Jemmiah once again looked as if she was going to give him an argument. She shot a brief look of disgust at her plant stuck out on the balcony and virtually fried Qui-Gon with a furious glare before stalking back to her room and slamming the door.
For the first time since he'd brought her back Qui-Gon wondered if he'd done the right thing in letting her stay with them. It had been the first full-scale battle between them. OK, he'd won the battle but he didn't think that discussing the matter tomorrow was going to bring about any kind of resolution.
He sighed, realizing that with all the hullabaloo the urge to sleep had completely worn off…
Mace sat and stared at the soil.
He wondered how he always seemed to end up involved in somebody else's hair brained schemes no matter how hard he tried to avoid them. He didn't suppose there was much harm in it, after all plenty of people kept plants in their homes to help oxygenate the place.
And if Qui-Gon was looking for a friendly rival then he'd chosen the right man.
All their lives it seemed that the two of them, along with Dex, had always been getting into trouble. Always finding invisible potholes to fall into. Always showing off and competing with each other.
Usually Qui-Gon won.
Windu chuckled as he prepared to do a search for information on houseplants on his computer.
This time he would come out on top.
That would take the smile off Jinn's face!
From somewhere in the distance, somewhere beyond the fringes of wakefulness, Qui-Gon heard something that disturbed him. He didn't know what it was, just that it was demanding his urgent attention. Swimming against the tide of sleep Qui-Gon struggled to bring himself to full consciousness, the mist still firmly wrapped around his mind.
He heard it again.
Blinking the sleep from his eyes the master sat up in bed, listening intently this time. He didn't have long to wait.
A shorter one followed soon after.
Swinging his long legs over the side of his bed, Qui-Gon threw on his robe and bolted straight for Jemmiah's room from where the screaming had come from. Even before he had got to his door he could hear her yelling and screaming again.
"Lights on." He commanded, screwing up his face as the light hit his pupils.
She'd managed to fall off her bed and onto the floor taking half the blankets with her, most of which were wrapped round her legs in a tangled mass. That had probably explained the dull thud he thought he'd heard initially on stirring from his sleep. Still fully asleep and yet half sat up and shouting and screaming at something beyond him that he couldn't see, Jemmiah struggled in futile fashion to kick at the imprisoning blankets on her lower body.
Qui-Gon bent down beside her.
"Easy, easy." He tried to calm her down with the force.
It didn't seem to have much affect.
He saw Obi-Wan at the doorway.
"Master, what is it? What's wrong?" He asked in confusion.
"She's having a nightmare, that's all." Qui-Gon replied.
"That's all?" Obi-Wan stared at her. "It's enough to wake the dead!"
Jemmiah screamed something out in Corellian that Qui-Gon couldn't make out. There wasn't much use for ancient Corellian any more as the planet had used Basic for millennia, although it was still taught on the principle of national identity being so important. Qui-Gon had never had the need to learn it but decided to try remembering the words the girl was uttering in hope of unravelling this nightmare at a later day. Dex Berlingside spoke fluent Corellian. He'd almost certainly know…
"Can't we wake her up?" Obi-Wan asked.
"Too dangerous." Qui-Gon replied. "We'll have to let this one play itself out. Why don't you go and make some hot chocolate for the three of us, hmm?"
"Er…yes, master." Kenobi glanced back at the squirming figure as Qui-Gon held her gently.
He was glad he didn't have to share her dreams.
Jemmiah yelled something else that Qui-Gon didn't understand and then suddenly sat bolt upright, gasping for air.
"Shhh. You're alright now." He said gently. "It's Ok. It was just a nightmare."
If she heard him she gave no recognition.
This has gone on far too long, he thought, as he watched her start to tremble violently with shock. She'd had nightmares before, noticeably on the flight back from Nargotria but absolutely nothing like this…
"Hush," he said, brushing the hair back from her face, "you'll be fine. Do you want to talk about it?"
Eventually he was rewarded by a short shake of the head, interspersing the shivering.
"Come on then." He tried to remove the blankets from round her in an effort to redress the bed.
She shook her head.
"You can't spend the night down here." He said calmly but firmly. Suddenly he got some insight as to her behaviour a few hours before.
"Have you had these dreams before?" He asked.
He wasn't surprised when she nodded.
"Last night? The night before?" He enquired carefully.
She nodded again.
"Is this why you didn't want to go to bed?"
"Why didn't you say anything?"
This time he received a shrug.
"They weren't as bad as this?"
He reached for her dressing gown and draped it over her shoulders.
"You can speak to me you know. If you're having problems you should tell me about them. If you keep things to yourself then they only get worse. Now, are you sure you don't want to talk about your dream?"
She shook her head again.
Qui-Gon sighed. If she wouldn't talk then there wasn't an awful lot he could do to help. And he had no doubts that if she didn't talk these nightmares were going to become a semi-regular occurrence. Somehow he had to persuade her to speak to somebody, even if she wouldn't thank him for it.
"Right then," He said as he helped her shakily to her feet, "come on. Something tells me that none of us are going to get much sleep tonight so we may as well all be awake together. I think Obi-Wan's making a hot drink as I instructed."
He heard the sound of munching somewhere in the distance.
"I think he's raiding the refrigerator as I DIDN'T instruct him." He added dryly. "Let's see what damage he's managed to inflict on the supplies, shall we?"
Four hours later and the light streamed in from the balcony and onto Qui-Gon's face, causing him to wake up for a second time. He'd sent Obi-Wan back to bed but Jemmiah had finally fallen into a troubleless sleep on the couch by his side. Wincing at the awkward position his body had been forced to adopt he carefully moved himself away from the sleeping girl and over to the holoterminal.
Yoda answered him not long afterwards.
"Tired you look." He said a touch too smugly for Jinn's liking.
"So would you be if you'd had the night I'd just had." He replied. "Master, I need your advice."
"Your young ward does not dream the dreams of pleasant sleep." Yoda stated.
Qui-Gon looked at Yoda's image.
"May I ask as to how you know this?" He asked.
"Know me well you should, Qui-Gon." Yoda smiled. "Problems this one has."
"I'm not sure how best to proceed. I confess to being a little worried this time."
"Seen too much she has in her short life." Yoda nodded. "Disturbing her it is. Talk the problem through you must. Tend to her as if she were that plant. Leave her in the cold you must not."
"She won't speak to me."
Yoda seemed to consider this.
"Bring her before the healers."
"I think she's spent too much time there already." Qui-Gon sighed. "And I'm not sure what An-Paj can do other than perhaps…" he broke off suddenly as Yoda's true meaning sank in. "You mean the soul healers?"
Yoda watched the evident discomfort on Qui-Gon's face.
"She won't care for that." Jinn said.
"Do things to be popular, you do Qui-Gon?" Yoda asked. "Distasteful it may seem but for the best it is."
Qui-Gon agreed reluctantly.
"Speak with you later I will." Yoda smiled.
"Thank you, master."
"Take care of that one you will or answer to me you shall." He chuckled, pointing beyond Qui-Gon to the slumbering girl on the couch.
"Yes master, Yoda."
Jemmiah awoke an hour later.
No matter what she did her eyes refused to open properly. It felt as though they had been gummed together during the night by some unseen glue-wielding maniac. Something felt odd…it didn't feel like her own bed.
Vaguely she thought she saw a large shadow standing infront of the source of light and forced her eyes to at least open into tiny slits. Master Jinn was awake.
So how come she was in the living area?
It came back to her with frightening clarity, causing her to groan at the memory. She'd refused to go back to her room because like a true coward she'd been too afraid.
Sophie Digwurt would have laughed herself sick if she'd known.
The horrid thought of that particular individual had suddenly reminded her that she had to get ready for school. With a grunt she forced herself to sit straight, causing the large shadow that was Qui-Gon Jinn to turn round.
"You're awake." He said with a half smile.
"What's the time?" She asked through a voice hoarse with screaming.
"That's not important today." He replied.
She frowned, trying to take in his meaning.
"But I've got school."
He responded by pointing at the plant pot, which now had the tiniest of tiny green shoots in the middle of the soil.
"YES!" She coughed/yelled as much as her poor abused throat would allow. " Good old Yoda! Who would have thought that playing Jizz would have that affect on a bulb! I can go to school and tell them…"
"No school for you today." Qui-Gon remarked.
She looked stunned.
"You're tired and wouldn't get out of the temple without falling flat on your face."
"I'll be OK." She pulled herself up.
"I've already informed your school that you won't be going in today." He said.
He could see her looking at him as if trying to locate a reason for his bizarre behavior.
"I've made an appointment for you to see someone about your nightmares." He watched her squirm at the thought.
"Who?" She asked distrustfully.
"The soul healers within the temple."
She stared at him.
"What's one of them?" The suspicion growing in her voice all the time.
"Well," he began cagily, "they'll ask you some questions to try and establish what's at the root of these nightmares and then they'll see how best they can help you."
Her eyes became impossibly big.
"Head doctors?" She asked as if she hadn't heard right.
"It's not like that…"
"You want to take me to the loony brigade?"
"They're there to help you."
She looked anxiously at him.
"Do you think I'm mad?"
"Absolutely not!" Qui-Gon replied. "But you're under a lot of stress which you need to get sorted out and I believe this is the best way."
"I don't do the psychiatry thing!" She replied. "I'm fine! Why did you have to do this?"
"It's for your own good." He said softly. "If you don't like any of the question that they ask you have my word that you do not have to answer them."
"You have my word on it."
She looked very uncomfortable, Qui-Gon thought, as he watched her shuffle her feet nervously.
"I bet Master Yoda wouldn't send me." She mumbled.
"What would you say if I told you this was Master Yoda's suggestion." He said gently.
All the fight seemed to dissolve from her suddenly.
"I don't know." She sulked. "You spend a day or so talking to a plant and they think you’re a nut case!"