by ardavenport

- - - Part 1

"Master Qui-Gon?"

Obi-Wan looked up to see Creche-Master Zakost standing at their table in the dining hall, his broad furry head bowed respectfully.

"May we speak with you?" He gestured toward a table where Obi-Wan recognized other Creche-Masters who were looking at them.

"Of course," Qui-Gon agreed. He stood, leaving his napkin on the table.

Obi-Wan looked from his Master's half-eaten first-meal to where he stood at the Creche Masters' table. He could see Qui-Gon over the heads of the diners sitting at the tables between them, but there was no hint of what was being discussed.

After a few moments Qui-Gon bowed to his fellow Masters and came back.

Qui-Gon replaced his napkin and resumed eating without saying anything.


"Yes?" he asked innocently.

"May I ask what they wanted?"

"Master Zakost and the others asked me to help with a matter that they are having difficulty with. It's Laundry Day."

"I don't understand."

"You are not expected to. We will be tending to it after we finish here."

Perplexed, Obi-Wan asked no more questions. Cryptic, uninformative answers from Qui-Gon usually meant that he would have to wait for an answer to arrive somehow, or for him to find on his own. Qui-Gon (and most Jedi Masters) felt that knowledge that was discovered was more meaningful than what was told or recited. Part of its meaning was revealed in its discovery. Obi-Wan supposed that this was true, but no less annoying for the Padawan Learner who had to wait and wonder if the Master was truly striving to teach wisdom or just present it in a more dramatic form. Or both.

They had been reviewing recent Jedi missions after first meal for the past few days and then going on to saber practice until second meal. But obviously 'Laundry Day' would take precedence and he would find out about it soon enough.

Obi-Wan poured more rasheid-milk onto this grain flakes and nuts and resumed eating.

%O% ||| %O% ||| %O% ||| %O% ||| %O% ||| %O%

A short time later, Obi-Wan was no closer than he had been to understanding what 'Laundry Day' meant, but he had some educated guesses.

They stood together on a raised walkway in a large utility room far below the Temple living area levels.

Dull silver working droids whirred and hummed to and fro. They lifted heaps of soiled clothes and fabric, sorted it and put the bundles into the top hatches of huge machines. The cleaned and folded articles came out a conveyor belt at the bottom where more droids took them, scanned then and sorted them into wall cubicles to be returned later to their owners.

The laundry arrived from the ends of chutes in the ceiling. Robes, socks, underclothes, pants, tunics, tabards, obis, long tunics, shifts, leggings, hand cloths, body cloths, bed cloths, blankets and even a few pillows plopped down onto the piles to be cleaned by the droids.

The activity was all pretty dull and ordinary, but Qui-Gon seemed content to wait and watch. So, Obi-Wan was stuck waiting and watching as well.

From his stance and where he was looking, Qui-Gon was obviously waiting for something to come down from the chutes. And from the small size and type of clothes that dropped down from them, these chutes emptied from the younger Initiates' living area.

They were waiting for something other than clothes to come out of the chutes.

Obi-Wan recalled the youngling dormitories. Though he had been a Padawan for only five years, it had been over ten years since he had lived there. The laundry chutes were in the dormitory, in the large spacious fresher at the end of the hall and in a meal area where the younglings were given snacks.

Possibly the children were putting things they shouldn't down the chutes. Obi-Wan supposed that a ball or a cup or spoon might make a satisfying rattle going down. Both gravity and air whooshed things downward to the bottom of the Temple, a perfect temptation to experiment.

Obi-Wan wondered if the younglings themselves were getting into the clothes chutes. It would be difficult for them to do, since the chute openings were narrow and placed high on the wall. Any youngling tall enough to reach the chute would be too big to get inside the opening. But there were plenty of things for a small one to use to climb high enough on.

He could guess what they were expecting, but Obi-Wan did not understand why the Creche Masters had asked Qui-Gon to assume this duty.

After some time, Obi-Wan heard the faint sound of Qui-Gon's com. He answered it, listened briefly and responded with a simple, "understood." Then he turned to Obi-Wan.

"We are finished for today."

Qui-Gon turned and left. After one last scan of the room and the chutes above, Obi-Wan followed.

%O% ||| %O% ||| %O% ||| %O% ||| %O% ||| %O%

The next day they were again standing side by side in the utility room just after first meal. The air in the large room smelled fresh and clean, as if it were constantly washed along with the laundry. The droids worked smoothly. The big machines hummed, sucking in clothes on top and sliding the cleaned and folded clothing out at the bottom.

"Master, do you know what we are waiting for?" Obi-Wan finally asked.


Obi-Wan pressed his lips together. If Qui-Gon thought it was necessary to tell him more, he would have said more. Qui-Gon always included healthy portions of patience in his lessons.

After a long time, Qui-Gon's com quietly toned and after answering it he put it away again.

"We are finished for today," he said, the same as he had the day before.

Qui-Gon turned and left. Obi-Wan sighed and looked for a last minute reprieve from the chutes in the ceiling, but nothing dropped down, not even a small pair of socks. Obi-Wan turned and left as well.

%O% ||| %O% ||| %O% ||| %O% ||| %O% ||| %O%

"May I ask, Master, what we are waiting for?" Obi-Wan finally asked on their third day in the utility room.

"You may ask," Qui-Gon replied pleasantly.

Obi-Wan blew air out of his cheeks and carefully considered which words would get information from his Master and which would just lead to more questions. He decided on the direct approach.

"What are we waiting for?"

"We are here to chastise a transgression." Qui-Gon sighed, his eyes turned upward toward the exits of the laundry chutes.

Obi-Wan looked up expectantly, but only a pair of very small pants and a flurry of socks fell from one chute onto the pile in the enormous bin immediately under it.

"Have the younglings been getting into the laundry chutes then?"

Qui-Gon nodded sadly. "Apparently so. We are waiting for them to emerge."

The droids began lifting clothes out of the bin. Obi-Wan frowned.

"Is it safe for them?"

"Yes. The droids will not completely empty the bins while we are here and the chutes are completely smooth and curved so their descent is slowed."

Looking down at the droid activity below their walkway, Obi-Wan saw four half full bins.

"Is it just these four chutes then?"


Qui-Gon's com toned.

"Jinn," he answered. After listening, he put it away in his belt pouch.

"We are finished for today. The younglings have gone to their classes."

%O% ||| %O% ||| %O% ||| %O% ||| %O% ||| %O%

The next day, they only waited for a short time before the younglings appeared.

There was a flush of warning, of excitement in the Force and a squeal. Then a small being dropped into a bin of clothes. Another, slightly larger youngling followed immediately after the first.

Then another and another. And another.

The fifth and last one was conspicuously long and thin and pale in the body. There was a lot more squealing and thrashing of tiny limbs. A few undertunics and a small pair pants were thrown up and out of the bin. A brown robe slid half way out before a small squirming body pushed it all the way out. It fell in a little pile on the floor.

"Ssssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhh!!!" A small Twi'lek girl with a very deep purple skin tone imposed some order, and soon all her creche mates took up the 'sssssshhhhhhhh'.

When they were all silent, they looked around, peeking over the edge of the bin; a Duro boy with bright alert red eyes climbed higher on the pile of clothes to scan the room. Not one of them thought of looking up at the walkway from where they were being watched.

A stick-thin pair of legs in off-white leggings pushed their way out and over the edge of the bin followed by a bottom and a long skinny body. The Quermian's feet touched the shelf at the side of the bin, his head swaying on top of his long neck. He was very young, but still tall enough to help his comrades out of the bin. Along with the Duro boy and Twi'lek girl, there was also a fluffy Bothan with ears perked up high and a little Human girl with very short black hair cut close to her head.

None of the younglings looked like they could have been more than five standard years and they all wore crechlings' dsuty white and tan tunics, pants and short boots.

They warily avoided the busy droids that ignored them, moving in a line together until they found a place where they could help each other climb down to the floor.

Qui-Gon silently paced them on the walkway and Obi-Wan went with him to the stairs. The hums and occasional thumps of the machines and droids in the room easily covered what little sound they made.

The younglings disappeared around a bulky cleaning machine, but they were easy to follow. They soon heard little feet running, cries of excitement and high-pitched laughter.

The two Jedi came around a line of broad pillars, gray boxes stacked around them. Obi-Wan looked around his Master to stare up at a huge mound of plush blue fabric. It had apparently been laid out on a soft rounded surface to be cleaned. At the base of the mound Obi-Wan recognized a curling blue pattern in brown and dull gold that looked possibly like stylized crossed lightsabers with wings. Anyone who had ever meditated in the upper chambers of the center spire of the Jedi Temple would instantly recognize that pattern.

Obi-Wan wondered if that sacred chamber was now bare with naked gray walls. Would anyone wishing to go there have to wait until it was restored? Or was there another identical set of curtains stored away somewhere to be hung up just for these occasions? He supposed that the latter was true since he had never heard of any meditation chamber being closed because the curtains were being cleaned and that particular one always looked the same.

The younglings had climbed up on top of the expanse of blue fabric and were bouncing on it. Three droids, all waving cleaning wands, backed away from the unexpected mayhem.

Qui-Gon spoke softly into his com before putting it away and moving away from the pillar, he waited to be seen.

- - - End Part 1