Chapter Two

The Ossus Academy's corridors were made up of a polished tan marble with built-in lights behind a thin sheet of the granite to create an illuminated feel. The lights had been there ever since Vieux had become a Senior Council Member. It added a tranquil feel to the academy, one Devin knew would stick in his mind forever. The lights burned and flickered like candles, only adding to the effect.

The light also illuminated Jean's skin as they walked. She was unusual, alright. The top layer of her hair was a dark red while the bottom was black, and it was always pulled up in a ponytail, though Devin liked it better when she spent some time on it and brushed all the knots out. Her thin, seventeen-year-old body was tall, and lanky, giving her plain tunic a slightly loose fit. Her lips, a cute color, gave her eyes a nice contrast with the rest of her body.

She was unusual, but Devin liked her that way.

Their worn-out travel boots made a soft clap-clap on the tile floor, also illuminated. Since the hallways were narrow, they had to remain shoulder-to-shoulder to allow other initiates by. "So what do you want to show me?" Jean asked. She giggled. "Another baby felinx?"

"No, no," Devin assured her. Developing his stride into more of a prideful swagger, her place an arm around her shoulder. "This is something big," he said, making a motion with his hand. "Not an animal to play with. It's a place where you can do anything. A private place to practice katas, forms… maybe even chat with a friend."

Jean raised her eyebrows but did not look at him. "Oh really?" she asked.

"Yeah," Devin said, encouraged by her amused tone. "You'll love it. But once we reach the halfway mark," he gestured to the piece of cloth hanging around his belt, then to the earplugs in their protective casing, "I'm going to blindfold you and deafen you. You'll have to find your way there using the Force and only the Force. Understand?" He knew Jean couldn't resist a challenge. Instead of handing the place to her on a platter, he was giving her time to figure it out herself. He knew she would accept.

He wasn't mistaken. He watched the gears turn in her mind, and her eyes visibly lit up. "You're on," she said, giving him a grin. "But no surprise attacks, okay?"

He knew she was only saying that so he actually would surprise her, but he wouldn't fall for it. "Yeah, yeah," he said. "Don't worry, Little Mouse." He gave her an affectionate noogie. She laughed and struggled half-heartidly to push him off. Her laughter was like a clear bell inside of him, and he was only encouraged to become more rough.

They laughed. When Devin finally released her, she leaned into him to catch her balance. "Do you practice that on Jaing?" Jean asked, laughing. "You're good. You actually messed up my hair." She pointed to her head, which was more messed up than before. Strands were poking out of the ponytail and clinging to her face.

Quickly brining it back behind her head, she made to wrap the rubbed back around it again before Devin stopped her. "Keep it down for a change," he said. "We're not fighting anybody here." She gave him a look and attempted to put it back up again. "Come on. Just for once?"

"Unless you have a hairbrush on you, you're out of luck," Jean said. "Looks worse when its' down. All frizzy and tangly—"

"That's only in your imagination," Devin said simply. And it was true. Her hair still looked freshly washed, and it hung down to the middle of her neck in small delicate waves. It looked good. "You look pretty with your hair down."

She cocked and eyebrow, but did not attempt to put the rubber band in again. Devin smiled.

--

Watching from a little ways behind them, concealed by a throng of Jedi initiates, Jaing and Evlyn watched Jean and Devin unknowingly flirt with each other. Jaing's black hair, pulled in a small Old Republic Jedi-era ponytail behind his head, thankfully did not catch their attention.

"It's a good thing they're busy thinking about mouth-to-mouth instead of us," Evlyn muttered. "Boy, we'd be in for it then."

Jaing nodded. "Yeah," he agreed. He flashed a grin at Evlyn. "Well, you know what Vieux says. 'Never—"

(Intrude on another's privacy.)

They were aware of something lifting them up by the scruff of their tunics. Jaing twisted up to look at his Master is surprise. "How did you get there?!"

(I walked,) Vieux replied. (Would you rather walk to my quarters like honorable Jedi of the Ossus Academy, or would you rather I carry you?)

--

The halfway mark was at least a quarter-mile away from the Enclave. The air, which smelled largly of trees and pines, gave Devin a rejuvenated feeling. He stopped Jean with a grin. "Alright, close your eyes, and reach out to the Force."

Jean nodded. "Yessir," she said. Her eyes closed, and Devin took his makeshift blindfold off of his belt and stood behind her to tie it. "So what exactly should I be looking for?"

"You'll know it when you feel it," Devin said. "I'll put on the earplugs so you won't know which way I'm going. I'll send you a message on your comm when you can remove them. Then just wait, and figure out your way there. Don't take off the blindfold."

"What if that harmless baby felinx attacks me?"

"Improvise," Devin said, and fit both yellow earplugs into her head.