ONCE YOU’RE A JEDI, YOU’RE A JEDI ALL THE WAY
by holly black and cecil castellucci
I awake tangled up in scratchy sheets with my head pounding and the taste of cheap alcohol and Tabasco still in my mouth. The spirit gum I used to attach my nose ridge and eyebrows sticks to the sheets as I roll over. Immediately, a wave of nausea makes me regret moving and I try to lie as still as I can until it passes.
The thing about advancing in the Klingon ranks is that you have to be badass. So when Kadi and D’ghor decided last night that we had to make blood wine with Everclear instead of tequila, and twice as much Tabasco as the recipe called for, I had to drink it or be a wimp.
I open my eyes and reason with myself that if I can crawl into the hotel bathroom, I can get some ibuprofen from my bag and stop my head from hurting quite so much. Also, water. Water would definitely help.
Pushing off the sheets, I realize that I’m still wearing my uniform and that my bra is still on. My pants and boots are missing.
“Arizhel?” someone says from the other side of the bed as I stagger toward a door I hope isn’t a closet. The voice has an accent that might be Irish. I don’t know anyone Irish.
I also don’t know this room. It must be in the same hotel, but none of my stuff is here and there is only one single big bed instead of the two doubles that Kadi, D’ghor, and Noggra were sharing with me. The only thing that’s familiar is my bat’leH leaning against the wall, the curved blade gleaming in the little bit of sun sneaking through the drawn shades. The glare hurts my eyes.
In the bathroom, I turn the lock and go over the night before. I think back on how we sang rousing battle songs in our hotel room, accompanied by swigs of that horrible blood wine. Then we rode the escalator, raising our weapons in the air with a single shout, to the party that was happening on the main floor. A party seething with costumed people for us to growl at: Peacekeepers, Cobra Command, Stormtroopers, Browncoats.
I splash water on my face and chew up a couple of aspirins. Whoever is in the bedroom is really tidy; his toiletries are still in a little bag. There’s even aftershave. I don’t see any pots of makeup or prosthetics, so I figure he’s not a Klingon.
Maybe he’s a member of Starfleet. There were a couple of cute guys with really proper costumes and phasers that glowed a little bit when they were fired. I remember arm-wrestling a cadet, but I can’t believe I would have gone back to his room. For one thing, I won way too easily. For another, he had a Vulcan girlfriend who was watching us both like she wanted to have some kind of pon-farr excuse to kick my ass.
I remember hoping she was going to try.
Maybe it was that guy. I groan and rub my face.
I pull off the braided wig that’s twisted around anyway, peel off my ridge and bald cap, and wash off as much of the makeup and adhesive as I can without cold cream or Bond-Off. Blinking at my own face in the mirror, I realize how different I look. Tame. Like I used to be.
“Are you okay?” comes a voice from beyond the door. He definitely has an accent.
“Yeah,” I yell.
“I ordered coffees and some food,” he says. “Grease will fix us right up.”
I’ve never ordered room service. Only rich people order room service.
“Uh, thanks.” I fill a water glass from the sink and guzzle it. I feel better, like the aspirin is kicking in, and I take a deep breath.
I wish I had my pants, but I pull down my pleather tunic as low as it can go and walk out of the bathroom.
There, sitting on the bed, is a thin guy with blond hair and a cute, lopsided smile. He’s still wearing his uniform, too. His Jedi uniform.
I know I look completely stupid, but I just stand there in the doorway. The buzzer on the door rings, but I’m still staring. Tall riding boots, outer tunic, tabard, obi. Jedi.
No. I couldn’t have. Not with an Ewok-cuddling, Force-feeling, Padawan-braid-wearing, lightsaber-rammed-up-his-ass Jedi.
He gets up and I fumble around in the covers until I discover my pants. Pulling them up and shoving my feet into my boots, I turn around as he opens the door. He signs something and comes back with the tray of dishes in metal domes.
“I feel totally thrashed,” he says as though we haven’t committed a terrible crime. As though we haven’t totally betrayed the stupid uniforms we’re standing around in. Everyone knows that trekkers and whatever starwarsians call themselves aren’t supposed to have anything to do with one another.
He pours coffee into two cups and asks me how I take it.
“Black,” I say.
He smirks. “I should have guessed that, shouldn’t I?”
“And you take your raktajino with milk and sugar.”
“Ouch,” he says, but he’s laughing. Maybe at what I said, maybe at the Klingon word. I want to know how we met, but I don’t want him to know that I don’t remember. I don’t even know his name.
It turns out he does take his coffee with milk and sugar. “Makes it more like tea,” he says.
I eat some toast with raspberry jelly and a sausage. After that and three cups of coffee, I start to feel a lot better. I feel good enough to realize that the room service receipt has his name on it. Leaning over, I take a quick glance. There it is. Thomas.
He sees me looking. “Thomas,” I say.
“I told you it was my real name. Unlike Arizhel.”