Ben returned to the meeting room just in time to see Elissa trying to slip out.
"Oh, no you don't."
"I have to go to the can." she protested.
"You know where it is, don't make any detours on the way there or back." said Ben.
Luke and Yoda soon arrived. Then Ringo.
"Mr. Kenobi?" Ringo said.
"Just call me Ben."
"I was wondering if me and my crew were included in this, or should we continue working? Did we do something wrong? You sounded so serious."
"Don't worry, Ringo, you certainly did nothing wrong. Yes, please go get the others. The repairs can wait for now."
"Thank you, sir," and Ringo took off toward the workshop.
Sheev showed up, then Beru, then Phantom, then Cosima. Shmi came along with the small band of elves who were helping her with the workshop.
"Here's our wayward friend," K2 announced, carrying a squirming and put out Elissa.
"Good, we're all accounted for, almost." said Ben as he and everyone else had taken their seats in the visiting area. "Where's Ocean?"
Elissa rolled her eyes.
"I encouraged her to come along with us, but she insisted on staying behind to rest." said Shmi.
"Wow, what a prima dona." Elissa muttered, making a nasty face, then burrowing into the blanket as soon as K2 set her on the couch..
"Are you not capable of saying anything pleasant?" said Cosima, deliberately taking her place at the other end of that same couch.
"Are you not capable of bugging out?" Elissa shot back.
"Elissa, enough...! This is as much Cosima's business as anyone's." said Ben. "Now, sit up, you're included in this meeting too. I'll be right back." Ben left the room.
Ocean Elf was back under the covers, and she startled badly at Ben calling for her outside her room.
"Ocean, are you in there?" he asked.
She didn't reply.
After knocking and calling a couple of times, he tried the door. It was not locked.
He opened it carefully, slightly, and peered in. He saw Ocean moving under the blanket.
He walked in quietly, approached the bed, gently put a hand on her shoulder and spoke quietly, "Elf."
She didn't move.
"Come along now, Elf, it's okay, I'm not angry at you, and you'll get to tell your side of things at this meeting where Elissa is concerned."
"Couldn't it just go on without me?" Ocean asked. "My nerves are still so shot, I don't know what good my being there would be." She pulled the at the blanket, trying to get further under.
"But it would be good for you to be there, especially since there are good things to eat."
"I've already eaten, thanks." said the elf.
"Ah, but if you knew what was on offer, you just might change your mind." Ben said mysteriously.
"I don't think so."
"Ben took from behind his back a small wrapped package that looked like a miniature candy bar. He showed it to the elf.
She looked at it for a moment, and her eyes lit up. "Where in the world did you find these!?" she exclaimed. "How did you even know I love them?"
Ben chuckled. "Santa. And you have some good friends at your Mission HQ. It was originally part of your Christmas present, but after everything that's happened lately, I can't make you wait that long. Santa and I have been making plans, and I overheard you and Felicity talking about favorite foods one evening at snack time, and remember you saying you hadn't had these since you were small and how you wished you could find them again.
"Oh you!" the elf laughed.
"So, I'll take this with me back to the meeting, and there's more where this came from. But, if you want them, you'll have to attend the meeting." Ben said in a lighthearted manner.
"Since you want me there that badly, you got a deal." Ocean said after a few moments of consideration. "I'll get ready. It won't take long."
"I'll be right outside." Ben said, and left the room and shut the door.
Ocean hurriedly got herself dressed and ready, and joined Ben outside her room within a minute or two.
They made their way to the visiting area, and Ben ushered Ocean to a reclining chair that had a bacta blanket on it.
She took her place, wrapping the bacta blanket around herself, and Ben handed her the little coconut wafer candy treat he had shown her back in her room. "Go ahead and enjoy." he said to her.
Then, Ben set down the huge box of treats on a counter and divied up some smaller packs from inside it.
Luke received mint chocolate, and was delighted with it.
Elissa sat, glaring at Ocean, who returned the expression.
"All right," ben said, looking first to Elissa, then to Ocean, "that's enough nasty looks between you two elves.
"Why did you try to set me up like that?" Ocean rounded on Elissa.
"Because you've done nothing but pick on me since you came back!" Elissa railed.
"You went out of your way to get picked on - "
"Yeah right!" Elissa shouted. "The other night at dinner when you came up to me, stole my plate and pulled my hair, I was just standing there, minding my own business!"
"You were deliberately holding everyone up from getting theirs, that's why I confronted you. But it's no excuse to set me up!"
"Enough!" Ben shouted.
The two elves went silent.
"Shmi, tell Elissa about the figures."
"But I didn't do anything to them!" Elissa wailed.
"Oh, who was it then, the wood fairy?" Luke said sarcastically.
"Luke..." Ben admonished.
Luke nodded and fell silent.
"I wanted," Shmi began tremulously, "to give Felicity the first Christmas she'd have in a long time. I spent months to get these figurines just right. That little girl deserves the love and caring and good things she has been denied for so many years by her vile uncle, and you just swept my part of her Christmas joy away."
"I didn't!" Elissa wailed, she sounded and looked on the verge of tears. "All I did was set up the dishes to get broken! I didn't touch anything else!"
"The light sabers!" Luke corrected her sharply.
"But I didn't break them!" Elissa shouted desperately.
"The footage willl say otherwise." said Ben.
"If there is any, it will show I'm telling you the truth about not destroying anything." Elissa insisted.
"You better hope that's true, young lady," said Sheev, looking doubtful, because if not, you're in for a lot of trouble."
"It IS true!" Elissa insisted.
"There's only one way to find out." said Ben. "But let's address what lead up to it all. Elissa, you started out here so well on the first day, and even into the second, but then you had a change in attitude that started showing by the end of the second day you were with us. I'd like to know what we did to encourage you to think we should think of you as just a bit more special for being an elf."
"I could turn that around and ask you what's so special about being a Jedi." Elissa countered.
"The difference is," Ben explained, "that Jedi are raised under a code of ethics. We were not born Jedi, but chose to be, or in some cases, not to become Jedi. You and Ocean were born as elves, and it doesn't matter what you do in life or what else you want to be, you will always be elves, like it or not. Neither of you have a choice there. That doesn't make you any more or less special than anyone here."
Ocean nodded and flashed a broad smile at Ben.
"The first couple of days here were a pretty heady experience for me," Elissa admitted. Her voice had lost that defiant edge, her eyes cast downward. "First, I was delighted to have won the chance to come here. Then at school everyone was like 'Oh, cool, we have an actual Christmas elf in our midst!' I guess it just - " she trailed off, unable to articulate the painful reality. Instead, she pointed to her own head. "By the time Ocean had arrived, I hadn't been called and warned by Santa yet, so I figured I hadn't done anything wrong, I just thought everyone was too uptight. She took a ragged breath, forcing herself to look around at everyone and said regretfully, "I'm sorry.""
The expressions around the room were mixed. Some people appeared uncertain whether or not to believe her, and others looked unconvinced. This was especially true for Luke and Ocean.
"Thank you for your confession and apology, Elissa, that was the right thing to do." Ben said kindly.
Sheev also appeared compassionate.
Elissa's lip trembled, and a tear started rolling down her cheek. It was followed by more.
Ocean shifted uncomfortably and looked away.
Cosima shook her head.
"All right, now, I don't see any further point to this meeting," Ben said gently, "The footage from security will be examined, and for your sake, Elissa, I hope you are being truthful."
"I am!" she cried.
Ocean looked questioningly this way and that.
"Okay, gang, let's get back at it," Ringo said to his crew, and they headed out and back to the shop.
Nadine was the last of that group to leave, and she cast a sad glance at Elissa before walking out the room.
The day wore on in an uneasy calm. Elissa tried to get more rest, but couldn't completely relax. She loved being center of attention when it was positive. But this time, being center of attention truly stunk. Worst of all, she knew she had brought it on herself. No one made her go to her cousin Jess and allow her to help mess things up at the compound. Since she wasn't entirely innocent, how could she expect anything but the way they had treated her?
But she must've dozed off at some point, because she was startled awake when Felicity and Misery came through the front door.
"Oh, welcome back." Cosima greeted them from where she was sitting and working on her device. "How did school go?"
"Tiring and boring." said Felicity. "It was mostly in-class written assignments."
Misery grinned. "Multiple choice tests are less taxing on the brain and especially the hand. But I think we did just fine."
"It was trying to think of what to say to all the essay questions. Ugh." said Felicity.
Misery chuckled silently, then glanced nervously in Elissa's direction. "Well, Felicity, I guess we better get your school bag back to your room."
"And then get a snack." Felicity put in.
So the two left for Felicity's room, chatting merrily.
"I'll wait for Misery to come back," said Cosima, "I'd like her to be here for this too."
"Good." said Elissa. "I was about to apologize to her for this morning. Maybe I'll get the chance if she comes back."
Cosima nodded and smiled.
"I don't mean to break this up," Ben suddenly appeared in the entrance to the room, "but we are about to have another meeting."
"Oh, no." Elissa shuddered.
"Don't worry, dear, it is not a continuation of the last one." But then he shrugged with a grin, "Or, not quite."
Elissa's mouth fell open, and her eyes lit up. After a moment, she recovered enough to nod and pretend she was too cool to care much. "Okay," she finally said.
Ben smiled, and walked out.
"He called me dear!" Elissa said in a near whisper, letting her pleased astonishment show once again.
"Attention all," Ben's voice sounded over the intercom. "due to an important discovery, there is going to be a meeting in the visiting area in five minutes. Everyone currently residing in the compound is requested to attend. Thank you."
Elissa looked as if she was going to hold her breath.
Soon, Misery returned with Felicity, who said, "Where's Ocey?"
"I'm here." the elf answered as she made her way in and toward Felicity.
Felicity and Ocean took their seats.
Misery found a seat furthest from Elissa and took that one.
More people started filing in. Luke, Shmi, Phantom, the droids R2D2 and BB8 along with, to Misery's trepidation, the four elves who were fixing up Shmi's workshop. Last, came Ben, Sheev, and the tall droid called K2, who was carrying yet another struggling elf.
"All right everyone, it looks like we're all here, so let's get started." said Ben.
"Stop squirming, it won't do you any good." K2 said to the elf in his arms.
"Elissa," Ben began, "we all thought you were responsible for everything that went wrong over the past while, but I think the footage is exactly what you'd want us to see."
Elissa looked hopefully at Ben, who smiled back reassuringly.
"BB8, R2? Show us what you have. And I'll run what the security cameras caught as well." Ben said.
The droids did as asked. As they had been in different places during that night, what they captured was shown from different views all over the compound.
"That's not Elissa." said Beru as the unkempt blonde elf came into view on one of the displays and ran out of sight again.
"No indeed." Sheev said.
"Wait, isn't that - " Phantom started to say, when another display showed the maughty elf nearing Shmi's workshop door.
"There's more." said Ben, and the footage showed the elf entering the workshop and shutting the door.
"Now, we'll switch to the camera footage." said Ben.
Micah was sitting nearest to Felicity, so he was the one describing what he saw, and he had taken care not to let her know about the figurines in Shmi's workshop.
A flick of a switch, and the inside of Shmi's workshop was shown. There was the sound of the door opening, and the little elf Jessica Preston came into view. She shut the door and looked malevolently around, unaware she was caught on camera. Her flashlight guided her through her ill-willed mission, apparently she didn't think to turn on the main light or else didn't want it giving away her presence.
Soon, she fell to smashing whatever she could get her hands on.
Shmi covered her eyes.
In K2's arms, Jessica Preston tried to turn away, but he would not allow it.
"What's the matter, elf," Misery glared at her, "Can't you face what you've done?"
For a moment, Ocean thought Misery was directing that at her, and shot her a confused glance.
"Yeah, you set me up, Jess!" Elissa railed.
"Hey, messing everyone up was your idea!" Jess shot back.
"Shut - up!" Misery exclaimed. sternly, wagging her finger at Jess.
"I didn't agree to actually wreck Christmas for anyone, you just - " Elissa stopped herself in the nick of time, from blurting out who's Christmas would've been ruined by this particular destruction. "You've always been a scheming selfish brat and you'd think I'd learn not to trust you!"
"Look who's talking!" Jess retorted.
"BE QUIET!" Sheevbellowed.
That brought about the desired effect, and the quarrelling elves fell silent.
Elissa burst into tears.
Ocean looked sadly at her.
As The cameras were switched out for others, and footage from the music room was shown, and then footage from the training area.
Everyone made horrible faces and groans of disgust as they saw Jessica on screen, pulling gobs of gum out of her mouth and shoving them into Felicity's flute.
"Eww...You sick elf....!" Misery muttered under her breath.
Sheev winced as he watched Jess break his violin.
The footage at the training area showed Elissa taking all the light sabers out of their places and laying them all over the room. Then she was seen writing something above the only light saber she didn't touch.
Luke and Ocean scowled.
"I'm sorry about that." said Elissa.
The footage showed nothing for a while after Elissa left. So it was fast-forwarded until Jess came in and disassembled the light sabers. Then she was seen ammending Elissa's note. Then, she walked out the exit which lead out of the compound.
"And that is it." said Ben. "So Jessica Sharon Preston, what have you to say for yourself?"
"Don't look at me, this was Elissa's idea." she said.
"You backstabbing wench!" Elissa shouted. "I never told you to take apart everybody's stuff! I just thought you were going to help me relocate a few things! Even the dish thing! I only said two or three plates, not the whole cupboard full!"
"Oh, so you say now!" Jessica retorted snidely.
"Even a few dishes was dangerous," Misery admonished them both. "What if Felicity had been the first one up and a plate fell on her, or around her so she'd get her feet cut on the broken bits?"
Elissa hung her head. "Sorry, I hadn't thought of that."
Misery scowled. "I thought not." she gave both elves a severe look.
"Well, she didn't, did she?" Jessica debated.
That only made Misery even angrier. "Does that disappoint you, Jessica?"
"That's not what I meant, you stupid - "
"That's right, don't hold back, elf, tell us how you really feel!" Misery said mockingly.
Once again, Ocean winced and looked baffled at Misery for a moment.
"All right, everyone, calm down." said Ben.
Elissa appeared to force herself to stand up, and she was trembling all over. She made herself look around at everyone, and said in a low, faltering voice, "I really am sorry. That possibility never crossed my mind. And it's true, I only set a few plates to tumble. Jess must've gone back and fixed it so a whole bunch would fall out of that cupboard. Please believe me, I never would've deliberately done something to hurt Felicity."
"Since there is no proof either way on that point, you have been found innocent of the other vandalism, Elissa, so you will be given the benefit of any doubt here as well." said Ben in that firm but kind way he had.
"Thank you." Elissa breathed, and tears began rolling out of her eyes.
"However, since the dish disaster was originally your idea, which Jess ran with, you will still owe us the full amount for the damage."
"That's fair." Elissa said, lowering her head.
"And what about that one?" Misery asked, gesturing toward Jessica.
"Alas," Ben began, "She owes Sheev and Felicity for the damage she caused to their instruments."
"I can't pay back that!" Jessica squealed incredulously, "That's thousands of dollars!"
"Then you will pay them and Shmi back by helping Phantom repair the violin,"
"But - " Jessica started to say.
"And you will work with the crew in Shmi's workshop to fix what you broke there!" Ben stated sternly.
"Oh, no." Micah muttered under his breath.
"Then, you will learn to play that violin once it is repaired." Ben continued.
"What!?" Jessica yelped, looking panic-stricken. "I never played a musical instrument in my life!"
"And the thought of her touching my violin after what she did to it doesn't sit well with me." said Sheev.
"And wouldn't a regular sized violin be too large for her?" Ocean asked. "Much as I hate the idea of spending money on her, maybe she could use one of those little Suzuki models."
Jess glared at Ocean.
"Then there's the matter of finding a teacher for her." said Beru.
"Hmm," Ben pondered, "That might end up being more trouble than it's worth. I'll confer with Santa, maybe he'll have some other ideas. I think that's about it for this meeting, Jess, you'll go with Ringo and crew to work with them in the workshop. Elissa, we'll figure out something for your debt, but don't worry about it today. Take it easy. I can only apologize to you on behalf of the whole compound for our disbelief." That's about it for this meeting, we are adjourned."
People started filing out.
Jessica and Elissa exchanged dirty looks as K2 carried Jess out.
Ugh...Elves." Misery Chastin said under her breath as she grimmaced behind K2.
One by one, from Luke to Shmi, people stopped on their way out to apologize to Elissa for disbelieving her claims of innocence. Even Ocean joined in.
Elissa accepted the apologies with tears, and she returned each warm embrace she got.
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