Title: Gifts of the Sages or Storytime with Younglings Author: devilinthedetails Characters: Jocasta Nu; Caleb Dume; OC's. Genre: Humor; Fluff. Timeline: Saga-PT. Summary: When her fellow archivist is ill, Jocasta Nu must offer storytime to a clan of curious Jedi younglings. Gift-Fic Note: Written for @Raissa Baiard in fulfillment of the following wish: "A story in which Jocasta Nu has to take over youngling story-time. By the end of the story she should have some warm, fuzzy feelings about the younglings, despite their interruptions. The younglings should not include young Ahsoka or Baby Yoda, but bonus points if a young Caleb Dume appears." Happy holidays to @Raissa Baiard! Thank you for the opportunity to explore both the prickly and the soft side of Jocasta Nu. I really enjoyed writing this story for you, and I hope you get as much joy out of reading it. I tried to make it humorous and light-hearted because of the rough year we've all had! Author's Note: The inspiration for the story Jocasta Nu shares with the younglings is "Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry, one of my favorite short stories. I thought it would make a good theme for a festive gift-fic. Gifts of the Sages or Storytime with Younglings Five minutes before her alarm should’ve awoken her, Jocasta was startled from her sleep by the ringing of her comlink. She answered with a sharp, pointed demand because it was too early to fake pleasantries, “What is it?” “I’ve got a sore throat.” The voice of her fellow archivist, Ta’nara, sounded scratchy and stuffy. “I won’t be able to make it into the Archives today. Got to see the healers instead.” “I’m sorry to hear that.” Jocasta was truly sorry to hear that. Ta’nara, a Twilek, was the archivist who specialized in children’s services. She was responsible for overseeing the youngling storytimes with their annoying songs, exaggerated finger puppet shows, and crafts that could spread sticky glue all over the holobooks if a constant vigilance was not maintained over the rambunctious younglings at all times. On a normal day, or what passed for a normal day in the Archives, Jocasta only had to handle the questions and problems posed by adult Jedi and Padawans who at least were old enough to be sufficiently intimidated into being appropriately deferential to the knowledge and authority she projected. This wasn’t shaping up to be a normal day, however. A point Ta’nara drove home with her next words: “There is a clan of younglings coming in at midday for a storytime. I’ve got the holobook I was going to read them on my desk. Could you read it to them for me?” A request to which Jocasta could only agree with something less than good grace. “I can.” “You’re the best.” As usual, Ta’nara was oblivious to the grumpiness in Jocasta’s manner and effusive in her compliments. She was, Jocasta thought, eternally effusive about everything. It must have come with being an archivist for younglings. If any career could cultivate a false sense of excitement, that could. Jocasta was, not for the first time, grateful that she had chosen the more staid profession of being an archivist for fully-grown Jedi. “Thank you.” Jocasta made a noncommittal grunt that functioned as both a “you’re welcome” and “goodbye” as Ta’nara ended the comlink call with a click. After that bit of bad news, there was no point trying to get even a minute more sleep. Resigning herself to the prospect of a midday storytime with snot-nosed, sticky-handed younglings, Jocasta rolled out from beneath her blanket with a sigh and began the process of dressing and preparing for another day in the Archives. In the Archives, after restoring some titles that had been put in the wrong places on the shelves to their proper locations, straightening the chairs around the tables, and ensuring that all the data terminals had switched on automatically as they were supposed to do when she unlocked the Archives, Jocasta crossed to Ta’nara’s desk. On the top of a pile of flimsi was the holobook Ta’nara had evidently intended to read to the younglings that afternoon entitled: Gifts of the Sages. She flipped through it before the Archives could start filling with patrons and their endless inquiries--many of which had answers that were painfully obvious to Jocasta--could arrive so that she would have some familiarity with the story before she presented it to the clan of younglings later. After an uneventful morning, the moment Jocasta had been dreading since Ta’nara’s comlink call came. Led by their caretaker, the tall and gentle Ali Alann, the younglings trailed through the Archives door. They chattered despite Ali Alann’s efforts to shush them and clung to fuzzy blankets. Jocasta had settled herself in a chair with an open area around her. She invited the younglings to sit on their blankets in a circle around her. Once they had done so, she gestured toward her eyes, saying, “Raise your hand if you can see me.” A flurry of hands and equivalent appendages surged up from the younglings of varied species arrayed before her. Pointing at her ears, Jocasta went on, “Raise your hand if you can hear me.” Again, hands and equivalent appendages lifted all around her. “Good. It looks like you can all hear me.” Jocasta attempted a smile at the younglings that she hoped wouldn’t traumatize them. Her pursed lips were unused to smiling at anyone or anything. “Today I’m going to read you a story called Gifts of the Sages. Does anyone know what a sage is?” This was a fairly advanced vocabulary word, so Jocasta hadn’t expected any affirmative answers. To her surprise, a boy with brown hair and teal blue eyes whose sloppily written name tag proclaimed him to be “Caleb Dume” replied so quickly that he almost tripped over the syllables, “It’s an herb. The cooks use it in the kitchen. It’s green like Master Yoda.” Jocasta felt her smile softening into something more genuine as she explained, “That’s one type of sage. Another type of sage is a wise being.” “So not just green like Master Yoda but wise like Master Yoda.” Caleb gave a solemn nod of his head as he offered this youngling’s understanding of the universe. “The sages in this story title refers to wise beings.” Jocasta decided this was all the clarity she could bring to the definition and opened the holobook to the first page, taking care to tilt it so the colorful illustrations would be visible to the circle of younglings crowded around her. She read aloud to them about a brother and sister living together in poverty in a big, bustling city as Life Day approached and about how the sister longed to buy a chrono chain for her brother. “What’s a chrono chain?” a girl with two blonde braids that fell past her shoulders and a name tag that announced her as “Noelani Alamea” made the inevitable interruption. “It’s a chain for keeping track of a chrono,” Jocasta responded crisply, irked by the interruption even if she had expected it. “It attaches the chrono to a pocket.” “Why would anyone need a chrono chain?” Noelani demanded as she sucked on her thumb. “Chronos are supposed to go around wrists. Everyone knows that.” “This story is set a long time ago.” Jocasta struggled for patience. “A long time ago, chronos were tucked in pockets instead of wrapped around wrists.” “A long time ago, people were stupid then,” muttered Noelani, who was plainly unsatisfied with this attempt at explication. Ignoring this potentially undermining comment, Jocasta continued the story, recounting how the sister went to a hair salon to sell her hair. This provoked another interruption from Noelani. “Why would the hair salon buy her hair?” “To make a wig out of it.” Jocasta’s lips thinned in disapproval. She was unaccustomed to being challenged by anyone, much less a youngling who barely came up to her ankles. “Who would want a wig of her hair?” Undaunted, Noelani didn’t drop the issue. “Someone unhappy with their hair or unlucky enough to lose their hair to disease.” Jocasta gave Noelani no opportunity to reply, plowing on with the story. She read how the sister earned just enough credits from selling her hair to the salon to purchase the chrono chain for her brother. She returned to the dingy conapt she shared with her brother and waited with bated breath for him to come home, imagining his delight when she gave him the elegant chrono chain. However, she read to gasps from the younglings seated around her, how her brother expressed sorrow at her shorn hair when he returned and how the brother revealed that he had sold his precious chrono--inherited from their dead father--in exchange for fancy clips for his sister. “Why’s this story called Gifts of the Sages then?” Noelani’s jungle green eyes narrowed. “They weren’t very wise if they sold everything they had and were left with nothing.” “Maybe that’s why they were wise.” Caleb Dume’s voice and eyes were shockingly grave for a youngling. “They gave everything they had for each other.” “That is what Jedi believe.” Jocasta nodded. “Jedi believe it is the ultimate wisdom to sacrifice everything we have for others. Some might call that folly, but we know it is the only true wisdom.” She smiled at the younglings, her heart warming toward them like honey melting into steaming sapir tea. Their endless, eager questions and wide-eyed curiosity made her thaw, reawakening the child in her, in a way that guiding the older Jedi through their research in the Archives never could. The older Jedi who visited the Archives came to the Archives in search of specific sources that would answer their precise, narrowly defined questions. They did not crave and gobble up any piece of knowledge offered to them. They did not thirst for new information like plants soaking up rainfall as the younglings did. There was something charming about the insatiable curiosity of the younglings. At least there was on a limited basis. She might be willing to volunteer to lead Ta’nara’s storytime once a week. No more than that. Any more than that, and she might be tempted to strangle a youngling who got too inquisitive.