Characters: Barriss Offee, Luminara Unduli
Word count: 606
Summary: In the aftermath of her first kill, twelve year old Barriss struggles with what it means to be both a healer and a Jedi.
First Do No Harm
In the forty-some hours between the conclusion of negotiations and the landing in the Temple docking bay, Barriss has created an endless number of lives for the slim brown-eyed dead boy.
He was desperate: maybe his family was starving, or they needed medicines they couldn’t afford. Or no, he’d wanted adventure. Non-Jedi did that sort of thing, didn’t they? Master Yoda was always warning the padawans about the dangers of going after adventure and excitement. Barriss pictures the slim brown-eyed dead boy and thinks maybe that is why.
Or the boy’s parents had been involved in the rebellion, too. They’d been workers in one of the manufacturing plants, underpaid and desperate, and their son had been caught up in their fervor.
Except that he didn’t have parents. Maybe he didn’t have anyone at all. He was there because he had nowhere else to be.
He hadn’t been angry when he’d come at Barriss. He’d been afraid. He didn’t want to be taken in to the authorities. There would be no one to care for his younger brother then, no one to buy his medicines or watch over him when he was feverish.
And so she sits in the ship’s tiny passenger hold, staring out the viewport and watching the strange swirls of hyperspace. They’re very soothing—meaningless patterns in blue and white that form and dissipate and change nothing. Sometimes she wishes she could be like hyperspace.
Her master is asleep just a few doors down, but Barriss can’t sleep. She knows that the young man’s brother probably doesn’t even exist, that she’s invented him like a character in a story, but somehow that doesn’t seem to matter as much as the fact that maybe she could have helped him.
Maybe she could have helped his brother, the young man about whom she really knows nothing, except that he is slim, and brown-eyed, and dead. There is a hole burned through his chest, piercing the right lung, and his face is frozen in a permanent, surprised “oh.” Her lightsaber is still glowing in her hand, and Master Luminara’s hand is resting on her shoulder, but she can’t understand anything her master is saying. She replays the scene again and again in her mind, trying to hear the words properly, but she can’t hear anything over the image of the brown-eyed dead boy.
They dock at the Temple in the early hours of Coruscant’s morning, and her master finds her still sitting beside the viewport. This time Barriss can understand her words, but they still don’t seem to mean much.
“Barriss?” Master Luminara says, putting her hand on Barriss’ shoulder in the same way she did before. “Have you been here all night?”
“Yes, Master,” she replies dutifully, but she doesn’t look away from the viewport.
Master Luminara pauses for a moment, and then she pats Barriss’ shoulder. “I know it’s hard, Padawan,” she says. “But you did what you had to do. I’m proud of you.”
And now Barriss does look at her master. She is calm and serene as always, her warm eyes filled with a spark of concern. A strange new brown-eyed voice in the back of Barriss’ mind suddenly wonders how many people her master has killed.
“I couldn’t sleep,” she says, in answer to her master’s previous question. “I keep seeing his face, and wondering…” She trails off into wordlessness, because she doesn’t know what she’s wondering, exactly, and she doesn’t think there would be words for it if she did.
“I know, Barriss,” Master Luminara says very gently. She squeezes Barriss’ shoulder again before drawing back. “But dreams pass in time.”