Challenge: This time, the challenge requires two sentences. One is the first, and the other is used:
"A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer."
Thirteen year-old Ben Skywalker reads the plaque on the Hoth monument, wondering just what that means. To him, bravery is simple. It is the hero. The one who fights for what is right. It is his mom and his dad. His aunt and his uncle.
He scratches as his strawberry-blonde hair, trying to figure it out.
"Confusing isn't it?"
Startled, he glances to his side, and finds that a girl around his age has inserted herself neatly beside him, almost close enough to be touching. He gives her a quick look up and down, noting the way she stands, the blond hair pulled into a tight braid, and the street clothes she wears.
They are tight, clinging to her like a second skin, leaving her arms and her stomach bare to the world. They are so different from what the Jedi wear, that he stares dumbfounded at her for a moment, his focus on the little dimple of her belly button.
He shakes his head quickly, dispelling the thoughts which her clothes invoke in him. "I'm sorry, what?"
She giggles slightly, and Ben decides he likes that sound. "I said, confusing isn't it?"
"Oh, you mean the quote. Yeah, it is."
"I mean, it seems that the quote is saying that heroes should be normal people, but I thought heroes were larger than life, greater than the rest of us. Like the Jedi."
Ben frowns at that. The thought that the Jedi could be construed as being better than others. Greater than the common folk of Coruscant.
And he is instantly glad that he is wearing his Galactic Alliance Guard uniform rather than his Jedi robes.
"I don't know if the Jedi are greater than everyone else. They seem like normal people to me."
From the corner of his eyes, he can see her shrug, a rolling gesture of the shoulders, where they tilt inwards slightly. He wonders for a second, where this preoccupation with how she moves comes from. She turns towards him, her blue eyes staying calm and level, a ghost of a grin on her face.
Her hand shoots out towards him, as she introduces herself, "I'm Syal."
He grasps her hand, a grin coming to his own lips. "Ben. Syal? That's a Corellian name isn't it?"
In the Force, he can sense the anxiety blossom in her. Nervousness pools around her. A slight tightening of her fingers around his. She slowly nods her head. "Yes it is. My Grandmother was Corellian, and I was named after her. I hope that that doesn't mean you don't like me."
He cocks his head, trying to figure out why it should matter to him. He knows that there is animosity among some Coruscanti towards Corellians, but it still confuses him.
He smiles, hoping to reassure her. "Why would it? My uncle is Corellian."
She smiles at him, a bright thing of teeth and stretch lips and shining eyes which makes his heart beat faster. "You hungry? I know this great dinner just a short walk from here."
He bobs his head, and holds out his arm, performing the Coruscanti ritual requesting that she allow him to be her escort. With a blush, she links her arm through his, accepting the implicit request.
Together they walk out of the military museum, Syal leading the way through the crowds of people, taking them down an lift, to something a little lower than mid-level Coruscant. In unison, they step off the lift, and Ben can smell the difference between the level he was at and this one.
A low level buzz develops in the Force. A general sense of animosity at his presence. At the presence of his uniform. Ben wonders if he should have changed into his Jedi robes. Then dismisses the notion, deciding that his robes would probably generate even more problems for him.
She pushes open the door to the tinkling of brass bells, and they find themselves a booth where they can sit facing each other.
The chat about inconsequential things over the main course, Ben finding himself enjoying her presence more and more as the evening wore on. Finally the waitress brings dessert. Some type of baked fruit, wrapped in a flaky crust. The fruit is sweet and tender, the sauce surrounding it tangy with a slight nutty taste.
Then comes a question he can't quite answer. Something he is not exactly sure of himself.
"Why are you in the Guard?"
Ben hesitates, leaning back in his seat, his half-eaten confection forgotten. He reaches up, scratching at his hair again, as his forehead instinctively scrunches up in thought.
He gives a little half chuckle. "You know, I'm not entirely certain. My cousin joined, and he's my mentor. I kind of just went along with the ride."
"Do you believe in what the Guard is doing?"
Ben picks up his fork again, pushing at the remains of his dessert. "Sometimes. I just don't want to see people get hurt or killed."
He notices her shrug again. "Not a very good reason. People always get killed or hurt. Just the way things are. Do you always listen to your cousin?"
"Yeah. Most of the time I do."
Ben drops the fork, and focuses on her. "How so?"
"There's an old Corellian saying my Grandmere taught me before she died. 'Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.'"
Ben's face screws up in thought again. "What does it mean?"
She does that shrugging motion again, attracting Ben's attention. To his surprise, he realizes that he enjoys watching how the muscles of her shoulders twist when she shrugs like that.
Finally she speaks. "Grandmere told me that it meant we should never just blindly follow people."
Ben nods his head slowly. "That makes sense."
Then he glances out the window noticing for the first time just how late it is getting. He glances back at her, noticing that she has followed his eyes out the window. She looks back at him, her face falling slightly. "It's getting late now. I think I should probably head home. Don't want my ma to worry."
Ben stands, extending his hand to her, a grin stretching his lips. "Mind if I walk you home?"
She grasps his hand, and uses it as a lever to get herself from the seat. "You're not planning on taking advantage of me are you?"
His mouth drops open, and he quickly shakes his head. "N-no. Of course not."
She grins at him, leaning in to kiss his cheek. As she pulls her lips away, she leans closer to his ear. "That's too bad."
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