Pairing/Prompt: Patrick, gen, IN SPACE
Warnings: crack. oh man. such crack.
Notes: STAR WARS AU. THAT'S RIGHT. YOU HEARD ME. Also, this was intended to be much longer, but, well. There may be a sequel in the not so distant future. IN A GALAXY RIGHT HERE.
Also, huge thanks to my lovely betas and handholders, airgiodslv and fictionalfaerie , who listened to me rant and descend into madness over the course of writing this. PINCH HITS, MAN. I CAN NEVER RESIST THEM.
“Well, see, the thing is, I actually think the Jedi are assholes,” Patrick said apologetically, which was new for him. But the Temple had gotten sneaky with this guy, who despite Patrick’s attempts to break the news gently was looking at him as though he’d just taken an Andorian firecub and doused it with liquid nitrogen.
“Uh, I mean, no offense or anything,” he offered weakly, and the Knight—‘Call me Gerard!’—flapped his hands and spluttered for a moment. “I’m sure you’re a kickass Knight and all, better than most of the arrogant fuckers they’ve sent, but it’s just not my kind of lifestyle. Sorry.”
The Knight slumped in his chair, gnawing on a thumbnail and looking at Patrick from under his lashes.
“Tell them it was a good try,” Patrick offered, bemused. Adorable wasn’t a tactic he’d expected the Jedi to employ, way too subtle for those bastards, but Patrick happened to have been exposed to a lot of adorable over the last few years and his resistance was at an all-time high. “But the answer’s still no. More coffee?”
“Yes,” the Knight replied automatically, and then scowled, slumping down further. “It’s not very nice to use someone’s weaknesses against them.”
“Exactly,” Patrick said, smiling sweetly. “I’m not nice.” Well, not overtly. He was giving the guy coffee on the house, though. The Jedi were either severely relaxing their grooming standards, or this guy had had a hell of a time lately, radiating exhaustion in thick, fugue-sounding waves. There were signs of recent dermal regeneration on his neck and arms, and he definitely didn’t smell as though he’d had a chance to bathe in a while.
Patrick was going to be generous and not even mention the state of his hair.
“I didn’t know they’d sent anyone,” the Knight said, watching avidly as Patrick wrestled with his erstwhile beverage replicator. Fuck, the BO-BF Unit had programmed it to whistle showtunes again. Whoever said droids couldn’t be good or evil hadn’t met Bob. “I didn’t even know you were here! Honestly!”
“Isn’t lying against the Jedi code?” Patrick pointed out mildly, shoving the largest mug they had in front of the guy, and was about to offer him a scone or something when the shop door played an Bothwellan arpeggio and Patrick’s head shot up. How had he forgotten, fuck? Flai was watching him steadily from the door , massive and solemn, and Patrick got to his feet, brushing off his apron hurriedly. “Gotta run, coffee’s on the house.”
Then the six girls came tumbling out from behind their Father and surrounded Patrick in a chattering bunch, their bright faces turned up to his and their bell-like voices clanging over each other. Apparently Klayt had gotten into trouble with one of the xenobotanists, stealing samples again, and Patrick wrinkled his nose at her as she sang to him impishly, pleased with herself. Gossett’s tone had strengthened; she was going to be all brass and jazz flutes when she grew up, Patrick could tell. Niil, on the other hand, had decided classical vocal work was passé sometime in the last seven days and wanted to practice yodeling, so she could be a mountaineer. Which was extra puzzling given that she’d never left the space station in her young life and had never seen a planet, let alone a mountain. As for the yodeling, Patrick strongly suspected Bob had been playing her Sound of Music soundtracks on the sly. Well played. Patrick was going to dump seltzer in his oil bath.
But much worse was that little Spoula’s vocal chambers were finally maturing—she’d always been the smallest of the saplings, her development slow and shy, and he’d been working so hard with her and now she was curled in on herself, embarrassed by the tinny reverb her sixth chamber produced as it shifted towards an adult state.
“She will not raise her voice with us,” Flai rumbled softly, placing an arm around his smallest daughter, and Patrick smiled ruefully, hearing the undertones of melancholy in his voice, like oboes and wind.
“Go have a draught,” he said, tilting his head towards the café bar. “I’ve got your cauldron on in the back. I’ve got the girls, go on.”
He vaguely noticed the Father-tree making a gesture of greeting towards Knight Way, but by then he was busy hustling the girls on into the music chamber. With Spoula wound so tightly, they were all slightly off-key and discordant, and it hurt Patrick to hear them.
The chamber had, over the years, begun to double as a small hydroponic garden, filled with camellias and spices and rich, carefully cultivated loam. Patrick had nothing to do with it. Bob had grumbled a lot about Patrick not making enough as a music instructor to support him in the style to which he was accustomed, and then suddenly there were plants growing amidst the soundboards. Patrick’d just shrugged and agreed to start running a café as a side business—non-synthicated food products were hard to come by in the station, and Patrick could get away with charging ridiculous prices for some of their beverages. It definitely helped with the finances. But the girls loved the garden, loved the growing things, the warm light and the smell of life.
This, Patrick suspected, had been the primary purpose of the endeavor.
The droid was lurking in the greenery now, doing arcane things with the soil and beeping grumpily to himself. He flashed a few lights and whistled shortly when the girls came in and they all tolled out a greeting. All except Spoula, who only murmured a low note and stayed huddled into Patrick’s side.
It seemed like hours, but he kept reminding Spoula that the other girls had gone through the same thing, that not every note had to be perfect if the feel of the music was right, led her through again and again until she finally unfurled and then all the girls were singing in symphony, their skin bright and blossoming and happy.
“Now, was that so hard?” Patrick asked, raising an eyebrow and brimming with pride at his pupils, who trilled with laughter and begged him for a new song. They deserved a treat, and so Patrick rolled his eyes and agreed, slipping out into the main store to grab an ancient, antique saxophone that he’d salvaged years ago from a theatrical production. Knight Way and Flai looked up as he entered, the low notes of their conversation cutting off abruptly. Patrick blinked at them, shook his head—weird fucking day—and backed into the music chamber, keeping an eye on them warily.
He played the girls a bluesy rift, made them pass it amongst themselves and repeat it until it took on a full, warm quality, and then he led them back out into the main store and told them to expand on it over the rest of the week, incorporate it into the notes they already knew.
“They’ll do their Mother proud one day,” he told Flai as the chattering girls each selected a cake of loam from a platter that Patrick knew Bob had set out earlier that afternoon, nonchalant and tetchy. Bob always complained about the racket Patrick’s music lessons produced, but he was always in the garden when the girls arrived, and would play them snippets of song if they asked, and was fooling absolutely no one. Which Patrick suspected only made him crankier.
“One day,” the Father-tree said, voice clear and hopeful. “Soon. And thank you.”
Then there was the traditional attempt to pass Patrick a thick handful of credits, and Patrick’s exasperated refusal to take more than a quarter of them. Then Flai nodded at the Knight, who was watching the whole exchange in obvious fascination, head propped on one hand, and then the family left the shop.
The silence, after the door closed, was profound.
“Thought you’d have left by now,” Patrick said, uncomfortably aware of the Knight’s eyes on him. He noticed abruptly that the bar counter had apparently sprouted a tiny cityscape of creamers and soil pellets and glucose cubes in his absence.
The Knight noticed him looking and flushed, waving a hand hastily and sending the condiments spinning back into their proper containers.
“Uh, no, still here,” he said, leaning forward on his elbows and regarding Patrick with large, hopeful eyes. Dammit, most Jedi got the point by now. Patrick was going to have to be an asshole, and he’d feel like a jerk since this Knight actually seemed like a decent kind of guy, absent-minded and cheerful and unassuming. Under other circumstances, maybe they’d have been friends. Patrick had sort of thought he was a new customer when he’d first wandered in, staring wide-eyed and wondering at the assortment of arcane and exotic instruments Patrick had collected, and then he’d hummed absently along as Patrick sang and coaxed coffee out of his temperamental replicator.
But then he had felt the bright, curious edge of thoughts tracing along the melody he’d been weaving, and had pulled back with a snap. Jedi. Another fucking Jedi. They really just never gave up.
“I didn’t know Gondwanan saplings could grow away from their home system,” the Knight said interestedly. “But—”
“They sprouted early,” Patrick said gruffly. “It wasn’t Flai’s fault.”
He began clearing the bar, ignoring the tiny forlorn noise Knight Way made as he snagged the mug of coffee from his hands. There were still a few drops clinging to the bottom, but Patrick was being stern, now. The friendly method clearly hadn’t worked, earlier. He dumped the coffee back into the replicator and set the dishes to clean.
“Yeah, Flai told me a magnetic storm took out most of Sector Five and triggered their growth unexpectedly. They were supposed to have another twelve years in hibernation, and by then Flai was supposed to have been Home, with the Mother tree. I t could have been a huge fucking tragedy, but somehow—”
“I know all this,” Patrick pointed out, fussing with the glucose cubes. Gerard had put them back in a rush, and Bob was going to bitch about it until Patrick’s ears bled if he didn’t fix it. “I was there. Look, Knight Way, I don’t know what—”
“No saplings that have grown outside one of the Cities have ever learned to sing before. There are texts on that shit, it’s a known scientific xenobotanic fact,” Gerard barreled on, and then noticed what Patrick was doing and winced. “Sorry, I’m a little out of it. Been a long week.” The cubes whisked themselves out of Patrick’s fingers and began neatly restacking themselves. “But, I mean, what I mean is, it’s basically a miracle, those girls. It’s unheard of. And by the way, I told you, it’s Gerard.”
Patrick gritted his teeth. “Look, Gerard. I don’t know what the hell they told you, but I’m serious, I have no interest in becoming a Knight. I’m too old for the training, and I don’t agree with their methods anyway. It’s too rigid, it’s too judgmental, it’s not me. I don’t want to impose order. I just want to make music.”
“Awesome,” Gerard said agreeably, nodding. “I totally agree.”
“And also, what the fuck is up with—what?”
“I agree,” Gerard repeated, amused. “A lot of things about the Jedi Order totally suck balls. And I wasn’t lying, earlier. I really didn’t know you were here.”
“Oh,” Patrick said, nonplussed. He sat down in one of the barstools. Well, fuck. “So, uh. Then why are you here?”
The Knight abruptly looked a bit shifty.
“Just stopping by,” he said airly. “Hey, did I read your menu right? Do you really have non-synthetic White Chai?”
“Wow, you are a terrible liar,” Patrick drawled, impressed and offended all at once. “Now I believe you when you said you didn’t know I was here. Look, keep your Jedi secrets, I’m really not all that interested—”
“It’s not that,” Gerard protested, and then heaved a huge sigh. “Fine, fucking fine. So, I’m kind of new at the Knight thing, right?” Patrick had no trouble believing this. “And the Council sends me in to see if there’s a new smuggling ring starting up on Taurus Five, and, well, I thought they were giving me a milk run, you know, my first mission and all. But. Well.”
“Well?” Patrick said, starting to suspect where this story was going. He’d heard something about Taurus Five.
“Well, so turns out there is a new smuggling ring on Taurus Five, and, they, uh. Stole my ship,” Gerard said, scowling and blowing hair out of his eyes, and Patrick burst out laughing. “Oh, fuck off and make me a cup of chai, asshole.”
“Those bastard space pirates,” Patrick asked, still snickering, but he did get up to go brew a new pot of tea. He could use something hot after that singing session earlier, anyway. “How very out of character for them.”
“Shut up,” Gerard muttered forlornly, and sighing dejectedly again. “But, see, that’s what sucks. They’re actually, uh, kind of amazing? Seriously, it’s the government on Taurus Five that’s the problem. I mean, the citizens basically had to start breaking the law just to keep the lower class settlements even habitable, you know? And also, Force, that smells amazing. Is it ready yet? No, I guess it wouldn’t be, you just started it. But anyway, yeah, it’s like, I can totally get behind what Skeleton’s doing, except then they stole my ship, which, okay, fine, but then they seduced my droid away too! What is that? That’s just fucking cruel and unnecessary. They just, like, converted him and now he’s all ‘Viva la resistance!’”
“Truly you lead a difficult life,” Patrick said drolly and Gerard nodded and sighed without missing a beat.
“And then, well, me and their leader kind of got in this huge fight.”
“He hurt you?” Patrick said, eyeing the traces of blaster burns on Gerard’s arms again; the story abruptly seemed a lot less humorous.
“Huh? Oh, no, that was the paramilitary troops,” Gerard said, wincing. “I’d kind of, uh, snuck along with the smugglers on a raid. They told me to stay on the ship, but I couldn’t just stay behind, I’m supposed to protect people. And, well, it was the right thing to do. But Iero really got pissed for some reason, even though I totally helped, and then afterward they just dropped me here. They healed my burns and then they took my ship and my droid and just left me. And now they’re off fighting without me, and I can’t afford a new ship until the Council advances me some funds, which apparently they’re not super inclined to do, and I’m just—”
“Tea,” Patrick laughed, and shoved the cup at Gerard, who broke off and inhaled gratefully.
“Sorry, I just, fucking pirates, right?” He took a sip and his eyes widened and he made a ridiculously blissful noise. “Oh my god, this is like, the Force in a cup. I mean, it’s almost as good as coffee. You are a god, dude.” Before Patrick could respond to this, Gerard was off and running again. “Anyway, I mean, soon as I landed I could tell another Force-user was here. I could feel you clear across the station, man. Your midichlorian levels must be fucking wild.”
“Off the scale, I’m told,” Patrick said, abruptly annoyed all over again. He didn’t see why a quirk of biology should entitle a bunch of sanctimonious pricks to chase him across the galaxy and harass him for years.
“Man, it is so fucking cool how you manipulate the Force with music,” Gerard enthused, startling Patrick with the obvious sincerity in his voice. “I’ve never heard of anything like that.”
“Yeah, well, apparently that’s because I’m ‘using my skills incorrectly,’” Patrick quoted bitterly, and Gerard snorted.
“That’s rancor shit,” he said earnestly. “Those girls, they’d be mute and dumb if you hadn’t been here to help them. You do what works for you, man. You’re a good person. Your instincts will lead you the right way.”
“You don’t even know me,” Patrick said after a moment, his chest strangely tight. Gerard just waved a hand dismissively at this and took another gulp of the scalding tea, barely wincing.
“I’m pretty good at reading people,” Gerard told him serenely. “It’s one of my things. I mean, you’re sarcastic as fuck, but I personally like that, you know?
“You’re pretty fucking weird for a Jedi Knight,” Patrick said, exasperated and amused. “You know that, right?”
“Everyone says that,” Gerard said, sounding baffled. “I’m not that weird, I just think the Council’s gotten a bit hidebound, you know? We gotta be flexible, that’s what the Force is all about. We’ve all got this connection to life, to everything around us. It’s the same underlying Force, there’s no reason we all have to connect with it the exact same way.”
“One song, endless variations,” Patrick murmured and Gerard beamed and nearly sloshed his tea everywhere as he gestured wildly in excitement. Patrick only just managed not to dive for a towel, but disaster was avoided by a narrow margin.
“Exactly!” Gerard breathed. “Oh man, that’s it exactly. But there’s all these kids going Dark lately, on the other hand, and I dunno. I can’t totally blame the Council for freaking out, I guess.”
“Seems like being restrictive and judgmental is more likely to turn kids Darkside than anything else,” Patrick pointed out, remembering the look of disdain, of worry and censure in the eyes of the Knights that had showed up at his parents’ home when he was fourteen, how they’d said without training that he’d turn into a monster. He had to be just like them, or he was a monster. Jedi or Sith, nothing in between.
“That’s totally what I said too!” Gerard exclaimed, bouncing in his seat, and this time the cup did fly out of his hand, and shattered against Bob, who had just been rolling in from the garden with a tray of fresh leaves and assorted other goodies. There was a moment of silence and then a low, menacing whistle sent Gerard scuttling out of his chair to hide behind Patrick.
“No wonder they seduced your droid away,” Patrick said, relieved at the distraction, even if it was likely to end in bloodshed. He was a good head or so shorter than Gerard; not exactly a great barrier if Bob decided to start shooting lasers or hurling plates at Gerard’s face. “Are you always this clumsy?”
“Fucking smugglers,” Gerard said automatically, and then seemed to catch himself and started apologizing profusely, getting on his knees and cleaning up the mess by hand, and surprisingly, by the time he was done, he’d somehow managed to charm Bob into beeping in disgruntled approval.
“I’m just, uh, a little tired, sorry,” he apologized tiredly to Patrick afterwards, when Bob trundled off behind the bar and started putting slightly tea-infused pastries into one of the cases.
“Hmmm,” Patrick said, and then, “Oh, what the hell.”
He started singing, a wordless, quiet aria, and Gerard’s eyes lit up and the tension slowly started going out of his limbs and by the time Patrick was done, Gerard looked like a different guy entirely. His hair was still a disaster, but Patrick thought it’d be a bit tactless to try to use the Force to tamp it down.
“That,” Gerard said, sounding delighted, “is exactly what I’m talking about, I haven’t slept in six days and suddenly bam! I’m awake! How the fuck did you do that? I barely felt you at all! See, you clearly don’t really need the Jedi methods of training, you could train some of us, for fuck’s sake. Although,” he said, pausing, and his gaze was abruptly piercing and so focused it made Patrick suck in a startled breath. “I gotta say, you are a bit off balance, and, well, lonely. But you’re doing good work. You’re a good guy.”
“Oh,” Patrick said, tugging at his hat and feeling exposed, naked down to his cells. Damn empaths. “Well. Thanks, I guess. And I’m not lonely, I’ve got the girls, and my other clients. And Bob.”
Bob whistled skeptically from behind the counter, and Gerard laughed, then caught the expression on Patrick’s face and turned it to a cough.
“Well, uh, I’m going to be stuck here for a week or two, I guess, if you want company,” Gerard said nonchalantly. “But, uh, whenever I get back to Corsucant, we should keep in touch. I mean, if that’s okay with you. I could use someone to talk to, sometimes.”
“I think we’re a bit old to be holo pals,” Patrick said, but Gerard just grinned at him, like he could hear the ‘yes’ beneath the mocking tone, and fuck, empaths really were fucking annoying. He couldn’t quite blame the smugglers for tossing Gerard off the ship.
“Fine,” he said, and Gerard lit up. “Holo pals it is.” He paused, and well. Gerard sounded happy, this lilting cabaret rift that danced through the Force and drifted through the whole store, and Patrick suddenly wanted to hear it outloud.
“So,” he said with a lopsided smile, gesturing towards the wall of instruments behind him . “I hear you’re going to be here for a few weeks. Don’t suppose you want to learn to play guitar? I’ll give you a decent rate.”
“Sold,” Gerard said, eyes dancing, and, okay, fine. Maybe Patrick had been wrong about a few things. Maybe he had been a bit lonely, these last few years.
And maybe, just maybe, not all Jedi in the galaxy were total assholes. Patrick would give them the benefit of the doubt, just this once. If Gerard broke his 23rd century guitar, though, all bets were off.
Bob whistled, low and amused, and Patrick rolled his eyes.
“You’re on,” he said to the smug droid, who was rolling over to the percussion session and dragging out his favorite bass drum, ignoring the confused look Gerard shot him. “Come on, Gerard. I have 20 credits riding on you knowing Stairway to Heaven.”