Obi-Wan Goes Greek
Disclaimer: You ought to know by now we're not trying to steal 'em. Well, maybe Maulie. I'm not really sure whether the Handbook is a character, but he/she/it belongs to Another Diversion. Thanks to Siubhan for helping me to fix this.
Maul tiptoed to Obi-Wan's door, stealthily unfastened the lock, and eased the door open. In the hall, a large aging hippie froze with his hand raised to knock. Maul tried to look unsurprised, as if he had sensed the Jedi's presence and just happened to have been carrying a pair of boots when he went to let him in.
Qui-Gon glared at him. "Not you again!" Maul smirked. "Well, get out of my way. I want to speak with my padawan."
"Of course. Shall I leave the two of you alone?" Maul slithered past Qui-Gon; then his brain started to wake up and he smiled evilly. "He needs some rest anyway. Well, YOU know how sensitive he is. Every five minutes, whining that you're too big, stop, he can't take any more? It must have frustrated the hell out of you."
"No, I can't recall that he ever..." Qui-Gon trailed off, turning slowly beet red from his neck up to his hairline.
"Oh, really?" Maul forced his lips into a patently fake innocent smile. "He must have picked that up recently, then. I wonder why?" He bounced down the hall, trembling in ecstasy at the delicious wave of Jedi hostility and jealousy that washed over his back.
"Rise and shine, padawan!" Obi-Wan was startled out of a blissful slumber by Qui-Gon's angry voice. Oh, no. He's not going to like finding Maul here. Eyes still shut, he felt the other side of the bed. Nothing. Bastard! "Er, good morning, Master," he called. "Wait a minute while I find some clothes." He glanced at the clock as he tugged his robe on. "It's five-thirty, Master."
"Yes, it is, isn't it?" said Qui-Gon with heavy emphasis.
Obi-Wan blinked. "I really should be sleeping right now..."
"Indeed you SHOULD be."
"Qui-Gon..." Obi-Wan sighed and headed for the kitchen to get some coffee. "What's the matter?"
"Matter?" the Jedi Master said icily. "Why, nothing. Why should anything be the MATTER?"
"No reason that I can think of." Obi-Wan banged a mug onto the table. "Won't you sit down and have a cup, Master?"
"I'm worried about you, Obi-Wan. You don't have a social life. You don't pal around with the other padawans. You hang around here by yourself, or with that tattooed freak..." Qui-Gon shuddered. He picked up Obi-Wan's scratch pad for grocery lists and jotted down a quick note. "I know just the thing for you. You should join a fraternity."
He took a beige linen handkerchief from his pocket and dabbed droplets of Obi-Wan's coffee from his face, unperturbed. "Yes, it's fortunate I happened to notice that one of their introductory social events is tonight. Go and make some nice, normal, socially responsible friends."
"Just look at THIS," Obi-Wan barked, waving a piece of paper in a clenched fist. Maul caught the hand and pried the paper loose. Tappa Kegga Bru Rush Party -- tonight at 7. He whistled softly, feeling a grudging respect for Qui-Gon. This was almost Sithly.
"Nobody else has a master this crazy. I bet your...um, adviser?...never made you publicly humiliate yourself, just because he was personally pissed off at you."
"Oh, sure. Let me think...Once when I was just a little kid I embarrassed him at a reception, so he paid the zoo to keep me in a cage for a week and bribed small children to throw peanuts at me..."
"I think that's why I hate peanut butter," he mused.
"Oh Maulie, that's horrible --"
"But nothing this bad, no."
"It's not THAT bad," Obi-Wan said quickly. "Really, I was thinking it might be a fun evening. I wondered if you might want to escort me."
"Certainly not. Besides, they'd take one look at me and toss you out on...Aha." Maul nodded. "What's in it for me?"
"Not enough." Although it was a tempting thought.
"Beer flowing like the waterfalls of Naboo? Free beer?"
"Now you're talking, Jedi."
Obi-Wan was surrounded by a gaggle of large and enthusiastically drunken padawans. They all looked so much alike that he was having trouble remembering their names, especially after several visits to the Bottomless Corellian Beer Funnel. "What I mean," one slurred, "what I mean is, we have a unifying goal. Something to strive for. Something that bonds us together as a team with a single objective, a single focus." Obi-Wan thought this was the chapter president. "And you know what that something is, Obi-Wan?"
He looked around. "Alcohol?"
"No!" the senior padawan said scornfully. "We HAVE alcohol! Plenty of it! A goal is something you spend your life TRYING to attain."
"Um, an education?"
"NO!" Everyone looked disgusted. "Women! Nookie! Casual sex!"
"Actually," Obi-Wan said, "I'm exclusive at the moment." He looked for the spot of black in the crowd of beige and waved his bottle vaguely at it. "That's my boyfriend."
They turned to look. Dead silence. "Er, does he want to pledge here too?" the president said doubtfully.
The Dark Side gave a little wriggle in Obi-Wan's intoxicated soul. "Why, yes!"
"Why isn't he wearing an ecru, natural-fiber polo shirt?"
Obi-Wan almost choked on that picture. "I very much doubt he has one."
"I see...You know, Obi-Wan, I just don't know if your...boyfriend would be happy here. You need to have the Tappa Kegga spirit, you see. I don't know how well he'd fit in."
"Oh, he's the life of a party! I've seen him drink a whole pitcher of Hamster Death Gulps and still be able to dance." As the padawans' eyes widened, Obi-Wan added, "So can I."
"Gentlemen!" The president flung his arms wide. "We've found a BROTHER!"
Maul paced the floor, listening intently for the sound of the elevator door. Obi-Wan had gone off much earlier to participate in some stupid pledge activity. He'd actually told Maul that he was invited as well, but of course the Sith had rejected the idea immediately. Now he was reconsidering. It's three in the morning! What the hell are they doing with him? What did Jedi frat pledges DO, anyway? Did they shed their veneer of peaceful calm and engage in savage ritualized violence? Bizarre sex acts? His regret increased momentarily. Maybe he should have gone along, just to keep an eye on Obi-Wan, of course.
He heard the door to the stairs open and bang shut, then uneven, plodding footsteps. The elevator must still be broken. He opened his own door and peered out into the hall. There was Obi-Wan, bedraggled, sweat-soaked, with alcohol fumes pouring off him. He was also naked but for his underwear, carrying his robe over one arm.
"What the hell are you doing?" Maul whispered, quietly so he wouldn't wake Cynthia and maybe induce her to stick her head out and start licking her lips over Obi-Wan.
"Oh, hi Maul. Can I come in?" Obi-Wan reeled, leaning against the wall, to Maul's doorway.
"No. You stink." Maul stuck out a hand to stop the drunken Jedi, trying to ignore the sensation of hot sweat-slick skin against his palm. "What are you up to, anyway?"
"Pledging. You know, hazing really builds group cohesion." Obi-Wan staggered a little. "We were all locked in a room with two kegs and couldn't leave until we finished them. Then we had to strip and run three times around the block."
"Wow." Blocks on Coruscant were long. "I thought you didn't even want to join a frat."
"Well, I didn't, but Qui-Gon ordered me to participate. But you know, it really is nice to be accepted by my peers for a change."
"Oh, that's wonderful. Will you LOOK at yourself..." Maul tried to look him up and down, but the look was dragged inexorably to the front of Obi-Wan's shorts, where it stuck. They were twitching violently. No; "thrashing" was the appropriate word.
"All us pledges have bonded already. It's like a trial by fire. We're like best friends already --"
"Um." Maul stared, fascinated, at the padawan's throbbing briefs. "Obi-Wan, are you really, extremely happy to see me, or..."
"Oh. Oh yeah." He blushed deeply. "It's, er, a Pixelito tree squid. They're from Malastare --"
"I know damn well where Pixelito is! What are you DOING with it?"
"Like I said, we had to strip and run around the block..."
"With a squid in your underwear?" Maul wasn't sure whether to yell or guffaw.
"Oh, they said you need to come to the next meeting if you still want to pledge."
"Are you nuts?" Belatedly, Maul remembered Cynthia and lowered his voice. "I can't think of anything I'd want to do LESS!"
Obi-Wan pouted. "You know, you really need more male friends. You're so isolated, you're missing out on important bonding experiences."
"You'll pardon me if I don't take lifestyle advice from a guy with a mollusk in his shorts!" Maul slammed his door viciously, ignoring the yelp from the mashed padawan.
"Just look at yourself!" Maul snapped. "This is the fourth time this week you've crawled in dead drunk." Obi-Wan, crawling down the hallway, looked blearily up at Maul. "Can you walk?"
"I think so." Obi-Wan hiccuped and started dragging himself up the wall.
"Then get your ass in here. What have you been doing all night?" Bizarre sex acts, a sly whisper deep in his mind suggested.
"Oh, we each had to drink a bottle of schnapps, then we cleaned the whole frat house naked and blindfolded using the Force. Then we got to join the party and learn to drink beer out of a hose! Oh, and you've been depledged for poor attendance."
"Good." Maul glared. "What do you need those people for, anyway?"
"I need to throw up," Obi-Wan said feebly. "Which direction is your bathroom again?"
"Out!" Maul shoved the padawan back into the hall and slammed the door. After a moment, he could hear the twit retching piteously. Maybe I shouldn't have done that, he thought with an unaccustomed twinge of guilt. Now the hallway will smell funny for weeks.
Maul barged into Obi-Wan's apartment without knocking. "Look, we have to talk."
"Sure," Obi-Wan said. "What about?"
"This whole fraternity thing," Maul said. "You've hardly spoken to me for two weeks. I'm just concerned about what's happening to the rest of your life. What about, um... What about your coursework?" It's Friday night, I'm lonely, and my balls ache. What about ME, huh?
"You can stay for dinner and we'll talk, but I have to be back at the house by ten," Obi-Wan said. "We're going out to throw toilet paper over another house's landscaping. Here, sit down and have a cold Pete's."
He parked it on the floor beside him, feeling strangely helpless. "Obi-Wan..."
"That's all in the interest of fostering a cohesive team spirit, of course. Yes indeed, my brothers are my family now." Obi-Wan waved. "Drink your beer. I'm staying fresh for later."
Maul reached for the beer. A small pink blob shot from under the couch, unfurled a set of tiny tentacles, and clamped them around his bottle. "EEYAAGH!" Three big black eyes in the round ...head?...body? stared at him; a couple of the tentacles whipped warningly.
"Oh, sorry," Obi-Wan said. "It's the squid."
"I can see that!" The thing applied several of its little tentacles to the cap, fighting to pry the bottle open.
"The frat houses buy them in bulk from Coruscant Biological Supply as fertilized ova and incubate them in tanks of Corellian ale. They actually wind up requiring a certain alcohol content to survive as adults," the padawan explained. "This little guy can smell beer two rooms away in a sealed can; I've tested him."
"How nice for it -- Hey!" Having opened the bottle, the little mollusk flipped itself and the bottle upside down, all of its limbs working strenuously to hold it vertical. The level of beer in the bottle began to drop. "This is NOT acceptable." Maul grabbed the bottle, the tips of his claws skittering briefly on the glass, and tugged upward experimentally. The nest of tentacles yanked back with equal force.
Almost half the beer was gone already. Maul considered. The mouth of the bottle was undoubtedly stuck in some nameless squid orifice down at the junction of all those appendages. Did he really WANT to get it back? He relinquished it with ill grace and a halfhearted Sith Glare that made no noticeable impression on its target.
"Sorry, have another." Obi-Wan offered him a Guinness, which he transferred the Glare to, causing the cap to pop off suddenly. "That was the last of the Pete's. He seems to prefer it to Guinness."
"Then he's got better taste than you do."
"I just don't know what to do with him. I've got to get rid of him; he scares the hell out of poor Cuddles, climbing over the Habitrail at night. But I can't just chuck him up in a tree somewhere to starve to death slowly, not after...not after..."
"Not after you've been so--er--close?" Maul suggested. "I do see. Why don't you give it to me? I'm sure I can think of something suitable to do with it."
"Do you mean it? That's really thoughtful of you, Maul."
"Not a problem." Maul lunged, fingers clamping down on the little squid. "Let me just take it home for a little while. I'll bring dinner at, say, eight o'clock?"
"You're sure that it won't inconvenience you?"
"Not at all. You're not exactly treating yourself well these days. I can at least make sure you get one decent meal." He rose, hoping belatedly that that hadn't sounded like he cared.
"Here's dinner, Obi-Wan!" Maul whipped the cover off the tray.
"Sushi! Ooh, I've never had this before."
"These are nigiri-zushi." Maul indicated an array of tiny rectangular blocks of pressed rice topped with delicate strips of white, rubbery material.
Obi-Wan picked one up and took a nibble. "Oh, it's delicious! Such a subtle flavor. And the texture..."
"And it's all very nutritious." It was also beautifully laid out, he felt with pride, with carefully carved and sliced bits of daikon, shaved pickled ginger, and little dollops of wasabi.
"I thought you were going to bring the squid."
"But of course."
Obi-Wan peered around Maul's ankles and over his shoulders. "So where is he?"
Maul inclined his head. "Right there."
Obi-Wan paused in the act of taking his second bite. "What?"
"And the red meat is fresh tuna." Maul picked one up and tasted it. "Mmm, it practically melts in your mouth."
"I can't believe he threw me OUT!" Maul glared at My Apprentice. "That thing must've been really very handy with the tentacles, ya know what I'm saying? You stay out of the maki-zushi; I know you're planning to spit out the avocado bits. Sith are not finicky eaters. YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE MISSING!!!" he bellowed at the wall.
The cat hissed. Obi-Wan's door slammed hard enough to shake the whole floor. Maul slumped back in the couch. "Poodoo..."
"Sorry, I'm not here right now," said Obi-Wan's answering machine. "I'll be at my fraternity house all Saturday night, communing with my brothers, in preparation for my initiation ceremony on Sunday. I'm looking forward to being branded with our letters! So leave a message!"
"I REALLY don't believe THIS!" Maul punched the wall repeatedly, raising a shower of plaster, cursing in several of the dozen languages he spoke. "Why the fuck would he DO this?"
He's a perfect little collectivist when he's stoned, My Apprentice commented.
"He's not actually going to get half the fucking Corellian alphabet burned onto his ass with a lightsaber, is he?"
Don't ask me. I certainly don't understand it.
"He's got such a perfect little ass. I can't let him ruin it like this."
I don't think he's in a mood to let you talk him out of it.
"You're absolutely right. I'll have to use force --"
Wait a minute, I didn't say-- The cat began to look alarmed.
"I'll kidnap him and tie him up until tomorrow night." Maul rummaged through his hall closet, looking for some rope.
Do be sensible. She poked her tongue delicately between two toes. You're not going to hold a Jedi with ropes.
"You're right again, apprentice. I'll chain him up until tomorrow night. He can't get out of his own handcuffs when he's drunk; I've seen him try pretty hard."
"I'll kidnap him, drag him back here, and chain him to his own bed." Maul pulled on a jacket and headed for the door.
I have a REALLY bad feeling about this.
"He'll thank me when he comes back to his senses. Watch your whiskers." He let the door slam.
Maul pulled his speeder up to the darkened frat house. He tried the front door first, and was pleasantly surprised to find it unlocked. He crept inside. The reek of alcohol was so overwhelming that he became slightly tipsy with his first breath of it. The brothers were already unconscious; an impressive pile of empty kegs and bottles by the door showed him why. Brown-robed lumps (and a few naked bodies) lay scattered about the floor and up the main staircase, snoring noisily.
It was too dark to see which of the drunks was Obi-Wan. He fished out his cigarette lighter, held it up, and flicked it. There was a sudden blue flare around it; then every cubic foot of atmosphere in the house was briefly but spectacularly on fire. Fortunately, Maul had instinctively shut his eyes and held his breath at the first flash.
What the fuck was THAT? As the wave of searing heat diminished, Maul opened his eyes. Amazingly, none of the brothers had awakened, although a few of the most flammable, alcohol-soaked objects in the room, including a couple of padawans, were tentatively catching fire. By the faint flickering glow, he identified Obi-Wan just as the fire alarm went off with an earsplitting racket. Not even a corpse could sleep through this! He grabbed Obi-Wan, threw him over his shoulder, and fled.
There were sirens outside, far too close for comfort. Maul dumped the comatose padawan into his speeder, vaulted into the driver's seat, and zoomed away.
Obi-Wan awakened, unwillingly. In his Jedi classes, he was trained to lie quietly and evaluate his sensory inputs to determine what had happened to him. By applying this method, he hypothesized that he'd somehow been knocked unconscious, after which an Ewok had crawled into his mouth, there performed its complete personal hygiene routine, and then pounded a couple of railroad spikes into his eyes. Now it had returned and was whacking rhythmically on the spikes with a pair of hammers. He whimpered.
Eventually it dawned on him that not all of the pounding was inside his head. He sat up, then screamed and clutched his skull. "Oh fuck me! Just a minute, will ya!" He forced himself to his feet with a serious effort of will and stumbled to his door.
Qui-Gon was on the other side, and latched onto him with an embrace he was too enfeebled to resist. "Oh my Padawan! Thank the Force you're safe!"
Obi-Wan swallowed convulsively. "Huh?"
"Your frat house burned last night. I'm so glad you had the sense to stay home." Qui-Gon squeezed harder. "If you'd been hurt because of my ignorance..."
Obi-Wan tried to focus his memory, which hurt. He was home, wasn't he? Hadn't he gone over to the house? He certainly didn't remember COMING home; but he never drank enough to get this hung over when he was AT home. He swallowed again. "What did you say happened?"
"They think some fool tried to smoke a cigarette in the house, although nobody's admitted to it yet," Qui-Gon said. "It ignited the alcohol fumes. Fortunately, they had a sprinkler system, so the building wasn't a total loss. But some of the pledges were too drunk to wake up, and suffered injuries before their friends could drag them out. The Council's already revoked the house's charter." He sighed. "Obi-Wan, I had no idea they were so dissolute. That I thought they would be fit company for you, my dear, fine boy...I'm SO glad that you were mature enough to distance yourself from such folly," he said again.
"Um. I'm feeling a little...tired. Do you mind if I go back to bed and call you later, Master?"
"Not at all! You get your rest!" With a final squeeze, Qui-Gon departed. Obi-Wan stood in his living room, blinking, for a few long minutes. Coffee. I smell coffee, he realized. He followed the scent to the kitchen. What was he doing back here, anyway? And when had he put coffee on? He tried to consider those questions, but his headache was too awful to allow coherent thought. Maybe he should go talk to Maul about it, he thought suddenly. Just as soon as he finished throwing up.
Maul practiced swordplay with a speed and skill suggestive of amazingly well-honed rage, while My Apprentice watched appreciatively from the couch. He'd gotten up around noon, put on a pot of soup and made a cheesecake ("Just in case," he said to the cat, who hadn't quite dared to ask in case what?), and spent the rest of the day training furiously with the stereo and TV off, listening for any sound from Obi-Wan's apartment. (His toilet had flushed an inauspicious number of times in the morning, he'd run the shower for about two hours, and there'd been silence for the rest of the day.)
There was a knock on the door. Maul flung his deactivated saber into the sofa, bolted for the door as if shot from a cannon, and yanked it open. Obi-Wan stood in the hall, carrying a six-pack of Guinness. "I just happened to have some beer left," he said, "and I thought I might drop by with it."
"Well, sure, I guess you can come in for a few minutes." Maul sounded bored, but he didn't waste any time standing back and gesturing to Obi-Wan to enter.
"Not so fast," Obi-Wan said, pausing in the doorway. "You owe me something first."
"I want to hear you say you're sorry," Obi-Wan said firmly, "for what you did to that poor little tree squid."
"Never mind then." Obi-Wan stepped back into the hall. "See you later."
"Wait!" Maul shouted. "Look, I'm...I'm..."
On the top of the bookcase, the Sith Handbook riffled its pages with subtle menace. Sith do not apologize!
Do Sith care if they don't get laid for a month? Maul asked it furiously.
Sith do NOT apologize!
"Okay!...I did make a mistake and I regretted it. Satisfied?"
Obi-Wan regarded him steadily. "What mistake, specifically?"
Maul sighed. "It would've been much better as a stir-fry."
"Wait, don't leave!" Maul grabbed the padawan by the hips. "Come on, Obi-Wan, please--"
Sith do not beg for sex, either, the Handbook remarked.
"Shit! I can't stand this anymore. You get in here right now!" Maul seized Obi-Wan by the shirt front and dragged him forcibly into the apartment. "And drop the beer. You won't be needing it for a while."
"Hold it, Maul. I'm serious about this--"
"Forget the squid! He may have given you a few cheap thrills, but that's all!" Maul tossed the sputtering Jedi over his shoulder. "You won't even remember what he looked like when I'm done showing you what a real man can do for you!"
"Whatever are you babbling about?" Obi-Wan protested as he was carried to the bedroom. "Have you completely lost your mind? Maul! I said stop! Ooh!" The door slammed behind them.
My Apprentice stretched languorously and rolled off the couch. If she had estimated the situation correctly, the next several hours would be an ideal time to see about getting into that cheesecake.
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