I think repeating myself rather tedious, but here goes: Nothing. I own nothing.
After two days of working alongside the local relief organization, Coric found he preferred pulling duty in the children's ward. It was certainly different from any other assignment he'd ever had. For one, the kids really were kids and not just shinies fresh off of Kamino. He'd had a few previous interactions with civilians, but children, particularly the very young, were generally absent or only glimpsed from a distance. Now, taking care of their various broken bones, burns, bruises and cuts, he got to touch them, talk with them. It was like and unlike dealing with shinies. There was the same intense curiosity about the world around them, the same bewilderment when encountering something new. But unlike the shinies, these kids knew no restraint. They didn't call him 'sir' or salute him, or listen with respectful silence when he talked. They giggled. The used words he sometimes didn't understand. They climbed all over him, if they were physically able to. They wanted to touch his face, touch his armor. They wanted to be held.
Working in the children's ward also had the added benefit of getting away from under Korinna's tyrannical thumb. The woman might run a tight ship and her medical knowledge was impressive, but honestly? She was a terror. A nexu on the prowl and he had spent more than enough time under duress on the battlefield. He did not need that kind of harassment in a medical ward. Coric had actually felt rather sorry for Kix, now alone and without backup, while working side-by-side with Korinna. He had even offered to come by on a regular basis, to relieve Kix from the strain of the doctor's dominion. Oddly enough though, Kix had declined. He had told Coric that, in fact, he preferred working with Korinna. There had been an odd, dreamy smile on the other medic's face when he'd said that and Coric, remembering a brief discussion on Leveler about 'romance', had left it at that. He really, really did not want to know. Particularly after walking past a storage closet early one morning and hearing some rather interesting sounds, punctuated by moans and groans. He had beaten a more than hasty retreat once he had heard Kix's name being called out in Korinna's unmistakable voice. Something about how she going to get him really flustered this time. He really didn't want to know.
"That should be the last of them."
Coric turned to face May and quickly relieved her of the box she was carrying.
"Thank you, Coric," she said and smiled at him. She had a very nice smile, Coric decided. It made small dimples appear in each cheek.
"Not a problem," he told her and quickly deposited the box with the others. Together they surveyed the stacks, neatly aligned in rows against the outer wall of the building. There were three in all with boxes of varying sizes, all full of things taken from the large series of offices that had been turned into the temporary children's ward. Looking over the rather eclectic and, to his sense, bizarre array of art and minor knickknacks, Coric couldn't help but shake his head.
"I always wondered what happened to the tinnies we clones turned to slag." He nudged a statue that had fallen from one of the boxes with the toe of his boot. "Now I know. Ugly tinnies get turned into ugly sculptures. Guess this is how the Republic finances the war."
May gave a delighted laugh. He looked at her and smiled back. Another perk of working with the children was that it meant working with May. She might have been Korinna's assistant, but Coric couldn't image two people who were more different. May was quiet and thoughtful. She went about her tasks with a dedicated efficiency that he could only admire. She joked and laughed with the kids, soothing them when they cried from their hurts. She was shorter than he was by a few inches, but her hair was as black as his and he thought the cut of it made the short strands look impish, rather than boyish. She was chubbier than Korinna, but Coric rather liked that about May. It was why she had dimples and Coric found that he quite enjoyed the sight of dimples.
May smoothed back her black hair, her green eyes still dancing. "Well, now that you've decided to take a break from building the economy, I know a few dozen children who still need their pills before taking a nap."
"Sounds good to me."
Walking back to the children's ward, Coric adjusted his trooper's gait to match May's, enjoying the sound of her voice as she talked over the next day's schedule with him.
"What's that?" A grubby little finger pointed to the object in question.
"That's the main engine room." Coric told the child, adjusting the focus on the holo for a better resolution. "That's where the hypermatter reactor core is stored. Fully fueled, an Acclamator I – class assault ship can reach a speed of 250,000 lightyears."
There was came an awed "oohh" from the circle of children surrounding him, though Coric was pretty sure most of them didn't even understand what a lightyear was. Not that it mattered. The number itself was sufficiently big enough to make little faces bright with wonder.
More questions followed the first and Coric found himself explaining things such as troop numbers and locations of 'freshers. The fact that a compliment of about 16,000 clone troopers did not, in fact, have to share one 'fresher appeared to impress the children in particular.
Coric couldn't blame them. The ward currently housed about thirty children between the ages of three and fourteen. But the office level above the assembly hall that had been appropriated for the children only had two 'freshers: one for the staff manning the outer office and reception and a larger, more lavish 'fresher in the main office. Needless to say, washing for the start and end of the day took quite some time and was harrying business for the volunteers. Said volunteers being May and Coric. There had been another woman to help out, but she had quit on the first day after her father-in-law had taken ill. Coric found he didn't mind. He was used to working under far worse conditions with even less help. And it meant he and May were spending more time completing tasks together.
Coric glanced up from his impromptu lecture about Republic battle cruisers, to see May sitting on a couch by the far wall, behind the children ringing him. She was working on making more bandages out of a heap of rags next to her. But he found her green eyes on him in that moment and she gave him that wonderfully dimpled smile. She was apparently enjoying the lecture as much as the children were. Or maybe, he thought, he hoped, she enjoys listening to me give a lecture.
After six more minutes of the perhaps most outlandish Q&A session he had ever given, Coric saw the first series of yawns working its way through the assembled youngsters. He shut off the holo under a chorus of protests.
"Forget it guys. Time for bed, ASAP." Under the onslaught of over a dozen pleading eyes and pouting mouths, he relented a little. "I'll tell you more tomorrow."
There were still grumbles, but the children complied and began piling towards the two 'freshers. Coric scooped up Lizby and carried the boy to the 'fresher in the main office, where the size of the appliances made washing more comfortable for the boy. Lizby was the most seriously injured among the children. Playing in a field near his parent's homestead, the boy had stumbled across an unexploded piece of ordnance left over from the fighting. Dangerously volatile, the vibrations in the earth caused by the boy's approach had been enough to set off the detonator. Lizby wouldn't be playing in any more fields for quite some time. Not until the prosthetics to replace both of his legs had arrived, anyway.
Coric had never been that seriously injured in a battle, but he had treated quite a number of troopers who had. The loss of both your legs was a devastating thing whether you were a ten-year old trooper in a man's body, or simply a ten-year old boy. So in the past two days Coric had been paying special attention to Lizby, treating the boy as normally as possible, knowing from experience that the worst thing anyone could do was openly show pity. And Lizby had taken a near instant shine to the medic, constantly asking questions about what he was doing, what this or that gadget did, what Coric would do in the field when a trooper lost a limb. Coric answered him readily and gave the boy access to his various medical guides and field notes. It cut into his time with May, but Coric thought it was well worth it. Lizby would make a good medic someday.
Once everyone was tugged in, Coric and May stood at the entrance of the former reception area, surveying their charges in their various beddings. May turned out the lights and closed the door, then leaned against its jamb. She let out a heartfelt sigh and ran her fingers through her short hair. The action made Coric's fingers twitch.
"Another day done and over," she said, turning her round face towards him with an expression of tired satisfaction. "You certainly put a new spin on the meaning of bedtime story."
Coric shrugged. "Had the lecture all prepared from a previous mission. Never got to give it though. Just seemed a shame to let it go to waste."
She laughed and he smiled, enjoying her appreciation of his dry sense of humor. Then catching him off guard, May leaned forward and pressed a quick, hesitant kiss against his lips. Dumbstruck, Coric found himself unable to respond, merely staring at her like the biggest bantha di'kut in the herd.
"You're a wonderful man, Coric," she said, her cheeks a lovely shade of red. "Just thought I'd show my appreciation."
"Yes, ma'am," he answered her, then swallowed and reassembled the scattered bits of his thoughts. He was a medic; he was used to making rapid decisions. "Allow me to show you my appreciation."
And he leaned forward to kiss her dimples, before giving his full attention to her smiling mouth. Yes. This was the duty he preferred, by far.