DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of the characters in this story, they belong to Disney. I do, however, own the plot!
A/N: This story is actually based on the Broadway Musical of Aladdin rather than the movie (there is no Aladdin the Musical category yet!) and it is set almost a year before the start of the story of Aladdin. Please read and review!
When I first met Omar, I hated him. I hated him and the very ground he stood on, and I wanted to be rid of him. Now he's one of my greatest friends and companions and I can't imagine being without him. So why did I hate him so? And what changed? Well, maybe I should go from the very beginning…
When I was 6 (nearly 7), my parents died, leaving me and my 5-year-old brother, Abu, to fend for ourselves. Now I had heard terrible stories about what happened to orphan children who ended up in the 'care' of the authorities, so I took it upon myself to look after Abu and keep him out of harm's way. However, this was difficult as I had no money and so was forced to steal to feed us both, but I was – and still am – a skilled thief and always managed to escape.
My brother was not so lucky. One day, about a month after we found ourselves living on the streets, he decided to try his hand at stealing. He managed to grab a loaf of bread off the stall, just like he had seen me do, and turned to run, but he hadn't reckoned on being seen by the owner of the stall. Of course, the guy kicked up a fuss and we soon had at least a dozen guards on our tail. When we reached the end of a nearby alley, I turned to help Abu up onto the rooftops… but he wasn't there. In a panic, I looked frantically round for him, and when I saw him, my heart sank.
He was curled up on the ground, trying to protect his prize while the guards bent over him, trying to force him to uncurl. Then one of them succeeded and snatched the bread, and my brother immediately started punching and kicking, angry that they'd robbed him of his supper. At this point, I moved to go back for him, but then one of the guards hit him with his club and time seemed to stand still.
I should have gone to him. I should have at least tried to defend him. I should have been there to protect him. Instead, I froze. I simply could not move. I just stood there, at the end of the alley, watching the guard hit my brother again and again until he finally stopped moving. And when the guard looked up and saw me, I was so shocked and afraid that my self-preservation instinct completely overwhelmed my concern for my brother and, to my shame, I ran away.
I lost my brother that day. I watched him be killed right in front of me and I did nothing. I just let it happen. I had failed to protect my own flesh and blood. But I also lost something else that day; I lost my confidence in my ability to look after any living thing, and I decided that I was best on my own.
So for two whole years, I lived alone on the streets of Agrabah, trusting no one and becoming more sneaky and stealthy by the day. But this all changed when I was 9 and had a head-on collision with an 11-year-old boy called Babkak…
Babkak had lost his own parents almost two weeks before and so by the time we met, he had a fairly good idea of what life was like for a boy living on the streets. That was why he suggested we stick together and look out for each other and I, to my own surprise, agreed. It wasn't long before we were firm friends.
I didn't have any problems with Aladdin, either, when he swung his way into our lives nearly two years later. He was a fantastic thief, for a 10-year-old, and had already gained himself quite a reputation. It was clear he could look after himself and so he just became the third member of our group without us really noticing.
It was when Babkak brought home a tiny, wild-eyed boy that he'd rescued from another group of palace guards that things changed. The boy was battered and bruised, his over-large garments were ripped, torn and dirty, and he was evidently terrified. I knew then that he was going to be one of those children who can't stand up for themselves and are completely useless in difficult situations. He would rely on me and my friends to protect him, and I hated him for it. After all, I had failed to protect my own brother, so why should I be expected to look after some kid I didn't even know? But Babkak wanted to keep him and I wasn't cruel enough to kick him back into the gutter, and so he became part of the 'family'.
A week after that, we heard him speak for the first time. We discovered that his name was Omar, he was 7 years old (5 years younger than me), and he had been living on his own for about 2 months, though it was painfully obvious that he hadn't adapted well at all. He could steal, yes, but there was no skill there, no technique, and the only thing that had kept him from being caught was his rather impressive speed. And when he was cornered, instead of fighting his way out, he just curled up in a ball and trembled. So I decided to teach him how to steal, which he picked up surprisingly quickly, and how to fight, which he didn't like. Apparently his mother had told him that violence was bad, and it took me a lot of time and patience that I didn't know I had to explain to him that for street rats like us, the ability to defend ourselves was a priority. After that, his fighting skills improved dramatically (although he still didn't like it) and he was soon as good as the rest of us.
Then suddenly he was 8, and I surprised myself when, on his 8th birthday, I stole a small, grey, clockwork mouse for him. I told myself I'd done it to keep Babkak happy as I knew he'd be cross if I just ignored the boy's birthday, but even then I wasn't sure if I was being honest with myself. Either way, Omar was thrilled – he'd left all his toys behind when he'd been forced onto the streets – and he played with it at every opportunity.
But it wasn't until a year later that I realised how I truly felt about this boy who had been thrust into my care. I was 14 by this point and Omar was 9. (Babkak was 16 and Aladdin was 13.) I had been caught, for the first time since I'd taken to the streets, and my captors – a group of angry stall holders – were preparing to give me the once-over, but just before anyone had landed a single blow, a small but determined voice cried out,
"Leave him alone, you beasts, he's my friend!"
I was shocked. Despite the cold treatment I had given him all this time, Omar still considered me his friend! I couldn't believe it! Unfortunately, however, the men thought this was funny and set upon Omar instead. His cries brought me back to my senses as I realised I loved him as I had loved my brother and I knew I'd be lost without him. And so, on finding myself in a situation almost identical to the one that had cost me my brother about 8 years before, I knew what I had to do, and this time I would not fail. This time I would act and save the brother I hadn't known I had. All this went through my head in a split-second and, with a cry of "No!", I jumped into the fray, knocking men aside as I went, grabbed the hand of the boy who had just saved my skin and fled. Thankfully, we managed to lose our pursuers and escape with just two black eyes, one cracked rib and a small scratch between us. (Though I have to admit, all but the damaged rib was on Omar.)
I can still remember the immense feeling of relief and elation that washed over me when we finally reached safety. I think I might have cried at some point – I can't quite remember – but I certainly remember the look of surprise on Omar's face when I scooped him up and gave him a big hug! I told him there and then that I loved him like a brother and would try to act like one from now on, and I also promised that I'd do my very best to keep him from harm. The way his little chocolate eyes lit up made my heart sing and I knew all my past failures were forgiven. Then he slipped his little hand in mine and we walked back to the place we called home, happy in each other's company.
(To say that Babkak and Aladdin were surprised at my sudden change of heart would be an understatement, but they both wisely decided to let it be and simply be happy that everything had turned out alright.)
Omar is 18 now. If I hadn't seen it happen, I wouldn't believe that he is the same boy I finally made peace with 9 years ago. Back then, he was a tiny little thing, smaller than the average 9-year-old, and now he is at least as tall as me! He is still a coward and even cries sometimes when he's frightened (and, on very rare occasions, though we'd never tell him, he even sleeps with his thumb in his mouth!), but he makes up for this with his sweet, non-violent nature and his absolute loyalty to his friends. He hardly ever gets angry, but when he does, it isn't pretty and I often have to step in to make sure he doesn't get hurt.
Of course, there have been times when I wasn't able to protect him. There have been times when he's come home with black eyes, cracked ribs and minor cuts and bruises, but unfortunately, it is impossible to avoid such injuries when you live on the streets. Neither is it uncommon for any one of us to acquire minor injuries when we are being chased, especially when the streets are busy. And of course we have all ended up in the city jail at some point or another. But in general, we just take the rough with the smooth, Babkak patches up those who have been hurt, and we just continue on as if nothing has happened. After all, although we all treat each other like best friends, we are still brothers and brothers look out for each other.
Omar's greatest asset is his ability to say or do just the right thing at just the right time to cheer any one of us up. Just the other day I was sitting on the roof on my own, moping because I had failed to feed the boys that day, when Omar came up and pressed something into my hands; something which filled me with shock and wonder.
It was a small, grey, clockwork mouse.
It was the very one I had swiped, 10 years ago, for a boy I didn't even like, but it wasn't that which shocked me. Nor was it the fact that, despite being well-worn and well-played-with, it still worked. It was the fact that Omar had kept it all this time when he could have discarded it; after all, it hadn't been given in the kindest of circumstances. He'd kept it safe, as if it was his most treasured possession, and it touched my heart, reminding me that sometimes it is the little things that matter the most.
I can see Omar now. He is asleep in the dip where the roof I am sitting on joins the roof of the house next door. He likes it there because it's slightly cooler and because he knows for sure that he won't roll off. It's his place of security, the place where he feels safe, and Babkak and I do our best to keep it that way. (I can't see Babkak, but I can hear him, snoring like a pig as usual. He's probably dreaming about all the food he'll never have…)
And as I sit there, staring at the stars and listening to Omar's quiet breathing, I find myself thinking how glad I am that Babkak brought home that tiny boy all those years ago. If he hadn't, I wouldn't be sitting here, thinking about him! Omar hasn't filled the gap left by my late brother, but he has long since created his own special place in my heart. Of course, I am very fond of Babkak and Aladdin too, but Omar is the one I am closest to. Which is incredible considering how much I once disliked him!
I lean back against the chimney with a sigh of deep contentment. Tomorrow will be another uncertain day which will no doubt involve very little to eat, lots of running away and possible injuries, but for now I am simply happy to enjoy this moment of peace, safe on the rooftop with my youngest brother.
I may not say it to you in words, Omar, but I love you like the brother you are. Even with Babkak and Aladdin by my side, it wasn't until you came along that I realised I was stuck in a rut. You gave me so much without me even realising it and helped me find my way in the world again. You have wound your way into the hearts of all three of us and we – me especially – are proud to call you 'brother'.
Good pals, blood brothers; me and three others. Babkak, Omar, Aladdin and Kassim.