Title: One Fork, Two Fork, Red Fork, Blue Fork
Authors: Durhelediel and Layren
Disclaimer: As usual, no Star Wars characters belong to us, unfortunately. They all belong to George Lucas.
Summary: Qui-Gon is trying to grow into his rapidly growing arms and legs...and is met with disaster.Twenty-year-old Qui-Gon Jinn sat down next to his Master at a table lined with white shimmersilk cloths. Plates and goblets of very expensive materials lined the table. Qui-Gon sighed. He hated formal dinners.
Jedi Master Yan Dooku glanced over at his padawan and hid a smile as he picked up the littlest fork for greens in preparation for their first course. They had been invited to the formal celebration of a historical treaty signing that they had been an intrical part of. Two warring nations had decided to join their kingdoms for final peace and were celebrating as only they could: with a large, formal party.He leaned over to Senator Trekklia, the former queen on the Bangtheb nation. "You look stunning, Senator," he told her, and meant it. She wore a pure white dress that hugged her curves and complimented her pale skin and dark black hair.She smiled at him. "I just hope your padawan is not too bored, eh?" she asked in thickly accented Basic.
Qui-Gon's face was a mask of schooled discipline. Inwardly, though, he wished he could be anyplace else. He glanced at all the forks and bit his lip as he selected the tiniest fork. He sighed. "I find that I am rarely bored, Senator," he said mildly.
The Senator beamed at Dooku. "So polite! He speaks just like a Senator." She turned back to him and winked, "Sure you do not want to switch your life's career?"
Qui-Gon blushed at the compliment. "I do thank you for the compliment, Senator, and yes, I am certain."
Dooku smiled at his padawan. "Enjoy the food, Qui-Gon, but mind that we have eight courses to make it through," he cautioned in a low tone. He lowered his voice still more to a whisper, "And try to politely avoid their version of roast avian. You'll have stomach cramps for a week."
Qui-Gon's face paled slightly at that. "Yes, Master," he whispered back. He sighed. Eight courses. He had a bad feeling about this.
Three courses later, things were still okay, until the Senator decided that she wished to sit in-between the two Jedi to keep from having to lean over Dooku to speak to Qui-Gon. The waiters quickly rearranged the places while the other Senator across the room smirked with suppressed laughter.
Qui-Gon grumbled a little. In the hastily swapped chairs and silverware, he had gotten his forks mixed up. Now which one where they on? He couldn't remember.
Dooku sensed his confusion and tried to hold up the correct fork, but the Senator turned to him and began chatting about the treaty. He casually lowered his fork; Qui-Gon would have to figure it out on his own.
Qui-Gon sighed as he picked up the wrong fork and began eating with it. He hoped nobody was watching him. He listened in on the discussions going around with only half –interest as he ate some sort of cold delicacy.
"It was most fortunate that you Jedi were there to assist our people with attaining the equal rights that they should have had for so long now," the Senator was gushing to Dooku, batting her eyelashes at him and flirting.
Qui-Gon reached for his wine glass, only half-interested in the conversation, and in his haste knocked the glass over, staining the senator's white dress a dark red color. His face burned crimson as he tried to stammer out an apology.
The Senator froze, staring in horror down at her ruined dress. "You!" She gasped out, her face turning as red as her stain. "This was my best dress!" She yelled, causing everyone in the really large room to stop their conversations and stare at them.
"You better be able to pay to replace it!"
Qui-Gon slid down further in his seat, wanting to crawl under it and disappear. "I'm sorry, m'lady. I...I don't have the credits...but I'll work to compensate you if you request..."
Senator Trekklia screeched as she stood up so fast that the plates trembled. "Look! At! My! Dress!" The stain was a bright, red, unmistakable spot that everyone could see. "You...you..."
Dooku stood as well. "M'lady..."
She glared at him, her chest heaving with anger and he stopped.
Qui-Gon slid a few more inches down into his seat. "I'm sorry." He reached for a napkin to help her dabble at the stain and his soup bowl got knocked to the floor, getting her feet wet.
Trekklia screeched louder than ever, but there was a loud guffaw from across the room. The other senator was laughing so hard his face was turning purple.
"M'lady," the senator managed to get out from between his laughter. "You must admit these formal occasions are a bit boring. The Jedi boy was just attempting to liven them up I'm sure. It was an accident."
Trekklia sputtered for a moment, but her face did seem to be losing its red color. She glared down at Qui-Gon. "You, young man, are a disaster at events such as these!"
Dooku frowned. "M'lady, that is hardly fair."
Qui-Gon bit at his lip. "I'm sorry , M'lady. It was an accident."
Trekklia glared at him. "Silence!" she screeched. "It is fair! This dress was an heirloom in my family!"
The other senator looked as if he would burst if he laughed any harder as he approached them. "M'lady, I will replace the dress." He glanced down. "And the shoes. I haven't laughed this hard since I was a very small boy." He chuckled again and gestured for Qui-Gon to stand near him. "This boy is priceless entertainment! No wonder you keep him around, Dooku! Now, we should all go back to our eating."
Qui-Gon let out a weak chuckle but inwardly he was mortified. He straightened up in his chair, his face burning like the setting suns of Tatooine. "If it's all the same to you, Senator, I'm not hungry anymore. I think I'll pass on the avian roast. It's liable that the way my evening has gone it would probably come back to life and fly around the room and land in some poor unsuspecting Senator's glass."
The crowd of over a hundred laughed at his joke, the sound echoing merrily on the walls, but Senator Trekklia still was not happy. "You, Jedi, you are never invited to my ancestral home again! I shudder to think what would happen should you as much as look at it!" She accused.
Qui-Gon stood up and bowed formally to the Senator. "I promise I will do no such thing, m'lady." He turned to sit back down and tripped over his chair, entangling his legs with the chair legs. He fell hard to the floor, sending the chair up into the air. His eyes widened in dismay as he saw it fall back to the ground and slam into the table. He closed his eyes. /My life is over./
Dooku watched in horror as the chair fell back, almost in slow motion, to the ground. Desperately, he tried to catch the chair...but it was too late. The chair slammed into the center of the table, causing all the food laden on it to topple, wasted now, to the floor. The room was silent, then a few moments passed and a giggle started in the back. Almost as if it were an infectious disease, the laughter swept up to the main table and everyone was laughing, except Qui-Gon.
Qui-Gon's face was crimson and he very carefully got up from the floor, even more mortified. He glanced over at Dooku and knew he would be in huge trouble later for this mess. He mumbled an apology to Senator Trekklia, who was snorting with laughter, and rushed out, highly embarrassed and intending to go find a hole to crawl into and disappear.
Dooku composed himself, caught between laughter and anger. "If you two would excuse us, I think I have a padawan to keep from killing himself," he joked with a straight face. Everyone burst out laughing again as he walked out of the room.
Qui-Gon hid in Senator Trekklia's personal gardens. He wrapped his arms around his knees and rocked back and forth. He was so embarrassed. When had his legs and arms gotten that clumsy?
"Padawan?" Dooku called out in the dark. He could simply locate his padawan in the Force, but knew that the embarrassed young man deserved some sort of dignity after that fiasco.
''Yes, Master?" came the rich baritone of his padawan's voice from somewhere deep in the gardens. "Please, just go away."
Dooku followed the voice to the deepest, darkest corner of the garden. He hovered on the outside of the darkness. "Come now," he admonished, still torn between wanting to throttle him for ruining the night and trying not to laugh. "You'll have to come out sometime. Senator Trekklia will not allow you to stay in her gardens forever."
Qui-Gon turned an even deeper shade of red. "I am sorry I ruined the evening, Master."
"You didn't ruin the evening, Padawan," Dooku said, not being able to keep the amusement from his tone. "You provided much needed entertainment. These people have been locked in war for centuries and needed the laughter. However, that does not mean that you will not be punished. But what would suit you for not growing into your arms and legs?" He thought for a moment.
Qui-Gon shrugged moodily, still very embarrassed at the way the evening had gone. "Not the way I would've chosen to provide entertainment if I'd had the choice. I'm sure the Council will find out about this."
"Ummhmmm," came his master's voice, sounding preoccupied.
"And all the holonews channels will broadcast it and I'll be laughed at for being clumsy back home," Qui-Gon said. As he listed the catastrophes, the list became longer by the minute, and then he named off the number of HoloNews Networks that were present for the formal occasion.
"They were certainly there and filming," Dooku agreed, his tone still not indicating what he was thinking.
"So, what is my punishment Master?" Qui-Gon asked as he finished listing off the number of important news networks that would make fun of him when they returned to Coruscant.
"Come, stand and face me in the light," Dooku commanded, stepping back to give his padawan room.
Qui-Gon stood up and nearly tripped over a rock in the gardens. He kicked it away angrily and stood before his Master. "Yes, Master?"
Dooku grasped his face and looked at him. They were both eye level now and Qui-Gon was no longer a boy. "You, Qui-Gon Jinn, are no longer a child," Dooku said softly, steel in his tone. "That means that you can no longer behave like one by running away and hiding, hoping that everyone forgets by some miraculous circumstance. Be a man—face what you have done like one. Go back in there and apologize. Offer to help clean up...cook more food if they need it...wash the Senator's dress if she wants it, but do not stay in here hiding. We will discuss punishment on our trip home tomorrow." He released his face. "Now go."
Qui-Gon's face burned at first at the idea of going back in there, but then it smoothed out and became his normal, schooled discipline. "I will do as I am ordered," he said flatly. He hated the idea of going back in there and cringed, wishing he could just crawl in a hole and disappear forever.
Dooku nodded as his padawan walked away. "Oh, and Qui-Gon?" he called after him.
"Yes, Master?" he said through clenched teeth as he turned half-way around on the moonlit path.
Dooku smiled broadly. "Mind you watch the chairs. They're murder."