Sentinel Idyll: Temple

I have reasons for what I’m doing, and I’m happy to discuss them with you in the comments log if you like.
Reseda Che is gay, just putting that out there right now. I did not see this coming; sometimes I’m as surprised by developments as you guys are.
This story goes with Sentinel Idyll: Priory, and someday there might be Mereaux and Sunrise House editions too.  Background on ‘who the heck is Reseda Che anyway’ is here, and background on Jiron’s wife is here and here.
Usually I would leave you to work out the basics yourself, but today is an odd one so I’ll make this as easy as possible.  POV is Nasriel, year is 23 BBY, place is the Temple.
Thanks to Erin for letting me angst at her, and for gently reassuring me that I’m not a bad person for writing this, and thanks to my two amazing beta readers (who I suspect would rather not be named) for pointing out holes in the philosophy behind the story.

It has to be one of the best feelings ever, coming back to the Temple with there’s a full crew together, not just one team.  When Jiron and Reseda and I are arriving alone, we have to slip into the Temp through the hangar bay, to avoid trouble.  Sentinels in the Temple stand out like an acklay at an Ewoks’ picnic, and are about as popular.  And most of us have a handful of names – I mean, me, I’m Kal to my master, and Princess to our traveling partner, and Witch to my Temple friends, and Nasriel plain to the other Sentinels.  So a dozen Sentinel kids have about as many names and are about as confusing as nearly fifty Temple kids.

In a party of a dozen freshly-returned Sentinel Padawans at the Temp, ten will have dirty hands, hair, or faces, eleven will have dirty clothes – and I mean mud, not just haven’t-been-washed-in-a-while – four will have visible piercings or too-long hair or bright-colored hair, six will be making the quartermaster’s stores their first stop to pick up new gear, five won’t have eaten in two days, none of them will have slept in about as long, and all will have filthy boots.  And that’s just the kids.

Today’s awesome.  Today we’re back at the same time as Gree and Marnle’s crew (that’s Gree, Marnle, Gree’s Padawan Halwaro, and Marnle’s Padawan Foz), and Tzinu and K’Tarr, and two other teams who I haven’t met before.  So there are enough of us to bypass the hangar doors, and stride in up the main staircase, making a big deal out of it.  And we’re chatting and laughing and making as much noise as everybody else in the entire entryway.  And Kijé and Sim-and-Lim and Telc join us on the way down to Ninth Lower Level – to the place I’d count as my… fourth home.  Because I’m a Jedi, it’s supposed to be the first.  But because I’m a Sentinel, Mereaux and the Priory come before.  And because I’m Jiron’s Padawan, and he was Lusien’s Padawan, Sunrise House at Malastare comes first of all.

Anyway.  We get in, and squabble over who’s getting what room, because Tzinu and Reseda both want the bachelors’-quarter furthest from the lift-tubes – Tzinu pulls rank and gets it.  And when I’ve ditched my pack – and told ‘Roni we had a deal, I get the top bunk this time – and grabbed the clean clothes that Mi at Sunrise House mended for me so I’d look spiffy for the Temple brats – and scooted to get a shower while there’s still hot water – it’s getting pretty late and I’ve got the luxury of options.  I can comm Kijé and ask him to escort me up to the Temple refectory to eat with the Boehme gang who I haven’t seen in three months, or I can stay here and trust to luck and Gree’s amazing chef skills.  Mostly Sentinels take care of their own cooking, in the kitchen in the Temp, but the quality ratchets up a notch here, because we can get ingredients from the Temple kitchen instead of vaguely hoping that everybody chipping in rations will produce something edible.

In the end Res decides for me by comming Kijé and telling me firmly that he wants me to have fun with my friends for one night in the whole year – and he wants me out of his hair – so please, Princess, just skedaddle!  Reseda is absolutely the only person who calls me Princess, and that only when he’s dead serious about something.  Also, he’s Twi’lek: he doesn’t have hair.  He only forgets this when he’s thinking hard about something else.  So I skedaddle.

Coming back, it’s pushing eight hours after noon, and Jiron’s said he wants me back by eight on the dot, so Kijé and I race back from the refectory – and he wins, of course, because he’s a boy and about thirty centimeters taller to boot.  Kijé’s away on mission in the morning, so he’ll have to get an early night.  If it wasn’t for that, he’d come down with me and try to wheedle a second dinner out of Gree, but we part at the lift-tube, like grownup Jedi, like there isn’t the least difference between Sentinel and Templar – and for us, there isn’t.  So he says may the Force be with you, Witch and I say And with you, Kijé, see you next time I’m back; and I head for ‘Roni’s and my room to stow a book Sima’s lending me.  Going down a Temp corridor can be a little strange, because all the doors open out to save space – and you never know who’s behind them.

I don’t get that far: I’m almost to the corner of the corridor when someone grabs me from behind in a bone-crushing hug, and I’d shriek only there’s a hand over my mouth… and I turn around and it’s only Foz, but he’s looking pretty weirded out.  I mean, part of the reason Marnle and Gree came back right now was because Foz is like this close to Knighthood and so he’ll take the Trials in a couple days, and then carry on with Gree and Halwaro and whatever Padawan he gets assigned.  And Marnle will travel with one of the other bachelors, probably Tzinu, because K’Tarr’s got a Padawan, little Wirem who barely talks.  When a Sentinel gets Knighted (we still call it getting a haircut, but the Templars quit that a generation ago), there’s a big reshuffle of the teams.

Foz whispers in my ear, “Hey, hey, Witch, don’t go in just now.”

So I bite him, like, because, and then, keeping his hand over my mouth (brave guy, Foz – ‘Roni wouldn’t dare) he creeps forward with me so we’re behind the door to ‘Roni’s and my room.  I can just see through the gap between the hinges, and ‘Roni’s sitting at the table mending the buckle on his boot, and Res is standing at the other side of the table, leaning on it, and talking very earnestly.  I catch the middle of a sentence: Res is speaking.

“… look, I sent Nasriel to go chill with her friends because I have to tell you this.  It’s been driving me crazy these two years, ever since Lusien died and I started traveling with you on the official.”

Jiron sounds very tired.  “Get to the point, Res.”

“I think I love you.  I mean, I want you, I mean… ‘Roni, c’mon, we’ve spent pretty much every day together since our Masters started working as a team, I’ve had plenty of time to think about this.  I feel like that girl in that holomovie you were watching with Nasriel the other night – like I’ve been living next door to the love of my life all this time and never had the guts to say so until now.”  I remember that.  That was such a bad movie.

“Res, this had better be a joke.”

Reseda shakes his head emphatically, so hard that the beads threaded onto the rings in the ends of his lekku rattle together.  And ‘Roni does something I’d never expected.  He scoops up his lightsaber in his left hand, and I hear his steel finger-ring clink against the metal, and he holds up his hand with the back toward Res, so that the ring and the lightsaber are both visible.

Roni says, “Okay, then these are two reasons why not.”  Reseda makes like he’s waiting for Jiron to say something else, and he does.  “One: I’m a Jedi.  Attachment is forbidden, and you know it.  Two: I’m a married man.  I can’t spend time with Ferli, and I can’t think about her, but until the nine hells freeze over, I’m going to be faithful to my wife.  That means I can’t even entertain the idea you’re suggesting, not for an instant.  Also, Res, no offense, I’d say the same to anyone, but… what you’re doing is beyond just un-Jedi.  What you’re doing is perverse.”

Foz moves slightly, and Jiron looks up, but doesn’t think it’s anything, and goes back to what he was saying.  “Reseda, I don’t believe this.  All these years we’ve traveled together, fought together, seen each other at our best and worst… you know me like Ferli never will.  We’re comrades, not – not lovers, that’s horrible.  Why do you have to do this, why do you feel you have to throw all that away on some crazy kid stunt?”

Res stares back at him steadily.  “I didn’t mean like a fling, ‘Roni, what do you take me for?  I mean I love you.  I love you like you love Ferli, even though you won’t admit it.  Like – for Force sake, like the girl in the movie.”

“How dare you invoke the Force in this?  And how dare you presume you understand how I feel about Ferli?  You have no idea what that sort of love is.”  ‘Roni’s dropped the reasonable-man mask, and he’s seething.  Last time I saw him this mad was when I had Tandari fever and Mi said she didn’t know if I’d survive it.  “I love you as a brother, Reseda Che, but you go too far.  Get out.”

“Tell me you don’t feel the same,” Reseda whispers.  “Look in my eyes and tell me.”

Very deliberately, Jiron sets down his tools, and stands up, so he’s taller than Reseda.  He comes around the table, and takes Res’s face in his hands, and says, very gently, “I do not feel the same.”  Then he lets him go, and returns to mending his boot.  Without looking up, he adds, “What are you going to do now?”

Res is ashen.  “I tell you the secrets of my heart and you spit in my face.  I can’t work with you anymore, Jados.  I just can’t.  I’ll ask to be reassigned.”

At that instant, Foz decides he’s heard enough, and knocks clumsily against the wall.  Half-shutting the door, with us inside it, he says, “Hey, Res, you know it takes more than just a mutual agreement to split up like that.”

“Fine.  I’ll take it through official channels.”

“How official you wanna get?”  Foz sneers.  He’s not always a very nice person to deal with.  “You gonna tell the Spire Council you want to -” Foz says something rude, and Jiron dives to grab me and cover my ears.  He does this a lot, the places we go.  But he lets me lets me listen again when Foz stops talking and Reseda starts.

“You filthy snaking eavesdropper, Ferens!” Res yells, loud enough to be heard upstairs in the Temple, I bet.  “I’ll handle it through a Temp Council.  Will you help me call one?  Will that make you happy?”

In most Sentinel stuff, everything’s pretty casual. But the really serious cases take two people to initiate.  Calling a meeting.  Lifting a veto on a visitor to the Priory.  Big stuff.  A Temp Council takes ten Knights – we’ve got just enough, counting Foz.

But Foz isn’t done.  Of course.  “Oh, what, do you like me too?”

“Force, you’re a moron, Ferens.  No, I don’t like you.  In fact, if you were to fall, right now, into a river of lava at – at Mustafar, it would not bother me in the least!”

And now I’m feeling sick.  Because before Res said anything, we were like one big family.  And now Res says he’s in love with ‘Roni, and they’re arguing, and Foz is being nasty, and… you know how it is, when your family are hating on each other and there’s nothing you can do but yell stop it and hope they listen?  So I do.

And ‘Roni picks me up and holds me on his lap, and he hasn’t changed, he’s still just ‘Roni like ever.  But it doesn’t help, because everything’s falling to pieces, and I’m only fourteen, I don’t know what to think.

“I’m calling a Temp Council,” Res repeats.  And ten minutes later we’re in the kitchen, because it’s the biggest room besides the Temp dojo, and ‘Roni’s still holding me and I realize… I make him feel safe too.  Because he’s just as confused and upset as I am, and he’s only twenty-four, and he doesn’t know what to think either.  And I’m sitting there waiting for the others to come, and wondering what is it that makes Reseda think like that.  Not just because of Jedi-don’t-fall-in-love-and-if-they-do-they-don’t-say-so.  But because of… what kind of weird is it that a guy falls in love with another guy?  I’m sure he’s seriously in love, it’s just really… not normal.

Because he’s the oldest, Marnle’s appointed chairman.  Even he’s not all that old.  “I wish Master Dooku were here.  He’d know what to do,” Marnle says.  “I think you boys should split up.  Jiron will go on with Nasriel – because that satisfies the rule of nobody traveling alone – Reseda will find someone else to travel with.  It’s not good for you to work together if you feel like this.”

I still feel sick.  Why did Res have to – I mean, I love Jiron too, but he’s like my big brother, all warm and strong and safe and… we’re Jedi.  There are some things you just don’t even think, let alone say or do.  I’m really going to miss traveling with Reseda – he tells the best stories of anyone – except maybe… but I was only five when he died, so I probably don’t remember right.  Res tells the best stories, then.  And he always makes sure I’m okay – are you warm enough, did you get enough to eat, here have some of my water since you’ve finished yours, oh, what’s wrong, Princess, don’t cry – even when ‘Roni’s been drinking and forgotten about me.  Which isn’t often, of course.

And in the end Marnle decides Reseda can travel with K’Tarr and Wirem.  Our paths don’t cross too much.  It’ll be months before I see him again.  And Marnle also decides one of the teams will have to leave first thing tomorrow, because we do not want to make this worse by hanging around the Temp together for a long time.  And it’s going to be us.

So we spend the evening packing up, and Jiron finishes fixing that buckle, and Res swings by while ‘Roni’s gone to take a shower, to pick up his stuff.  And we have tea together, and Res tells me it’s not my fault, it’s not ‘Roni’s fault, he guesses it’s his own fault but he’s not sorry for poking holes in the grand mystique of the Jedi Order, and he’s not sorry for speaking his mind.  Reseda tells me he has to follow his heart – someone else told me a few times that you can’t follow your heart, because you will be deceived, and that you have to lead your heart in accordance with good conscience and sound reason.  Reseda tells me he can’t see the difference between what he’s done and if he’d fallen in love with, say, Gree – I can: Gree’s a woman.  It’s not a bit the same, it just doesn’t fit that he loves Jiron like that, it’s wrong somehow.  I don’t understand half of what Reseda’s saying, and in the end he gets that, and just pats me on the shoulder and goes away again, looking defeated.  Like he went ten rounds with a nexu and the nexu had the best of it.

In the morning, while we’re having breakfast and getting our finances sorted out from the purser upstairs in the Temple, Reseda and Jiron don’t even look at each other.  It’s all Princess, could you ask your Master if he’d pass me the milk and Kal, please enquire if Reseda is finished with the sugar.  I hate it.  I know, I know, Jedi don’t hate.  I really really don’t like it.  At all.

And when ‘Roni and I are ready to go, and just about to head out – through the hangars, it’s not like last night, nobody’s happy and triumphant and bringing the noise now – Reseda comes after us, and swoops me up and swings me around, and kisses me on the head when he puts me down again.  And for a second I think he’s coming with us after all, because that’s how he usually says hello to me, but he doesn’t then go and clap ‘Roni on the shoulder and they stride off together while I scuttle to keep up, like usually happens next.  No, he turns away, but ‘Roni coughs, and holds out his hand.

“Can we part as friends, at least, Res?”

“Yeah.”  And Reseda takes Jiron’s hand, and shakes it firmly, like a real man, the way he taught me to (which is weird when you think about it) and goes away again between the ships in the hangar.

I cry when we’re out of sight of the Temple.  Because I don’t know what happened, and I don’t know if Res is going to be okay, and I don’t know if we are either.  And ‘Roni dries my eyes and gives me a sweet – which he usually says are bad for me – and tells me a story on the public shuttle to our next stop.  It’s not as good as Reseda’s stories.

The End

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About coruscantbookshelf

"A writer is an introvert: someone who wants to tell you a story but doesn't want to have to make eye contact while doing it." - Adapted from John Green
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