Before Dark Tide I: Revelations (Dooku/Qui-Gon AU) - Updated 9/05/2012 Chapter 3.1

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  1. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 6
    Title: Dark Tide I: Revelations
    Author: @CmdrMitthrawnuruodo
    Timeframe: 82 BBY
    Characters: Dooku, Qui-Gon
    Genre: Angst, Adventure, AU
    Summary: Jedi Knight Yan Dooku and his Padawan Qui-Gon Jinn were assigned to protect a star witness for a trial, but when that witness is murdered on the way to the courts and leading to a mistrial, Dooku is determined to find out who had betrayed them and salvage both his reputation and the case. What he finds instead could be the end of his illustrious career as a Jedi Knight and the doom of the Jedi Order. Both he and his Padawan will be tested as Jedi even as they struggle with their own problems as Master and Padawan. Will they prevail or will they succumb to the dark tide rising on the horizon?
    Disclaimer: If I owned Star Wars, I would have more Dooku novels written, therefore since there is a lack of such novels, I must not own it.

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    Chapter One

    When they had been assigned to escort a Hutt from Nar Shaddaa to Coruscant to give key testimony in a trial that could put away a Black Sun Vigo for the rest of the saurian's long life, Jedi Knight Yan Dooku suspected he was being punished for his public ridicule of the Senate's and Council's handling of an incident that had occurred months before in the Faldos system. The stench and the subtle insults he had to endure was enough to teach him to be a little more discrete with his opinions of the Galactic Senate and Jedi Council in the future. He was quite certain now that he was indeed being punished and that he would never get the stench of this particular worm out of his robe and very being.

    /I hate Hutts,/ he growled over the bond he shared with his Padawan, wise enough to keep his comment between them.

    /They are not so bad,/ Qui-Gon answered, though he tried to comfort his master a little with the Force. He knew the older man was uncomfortable around the wormy crime lords.

    Dooku gave his tall apprentice a look that said he believed the boy to be insane. At sixteen, the boy had shot up like a newly sprung sapling, and was nearly as tall as his master but his love for all things living, great or small, had not waned over the years. Dooku was certain that once this mission was over, his Padawan would find some misbegotten creature and bring it home with them.

    Qui-Gon always found something.

    /I still hate them,/ Dooku sniffed indignantly and crossed his arms over his chest. /Give me pirates, give me a boring negotiation, give me one of Master Cerulian's lectures! Anything that does not involve the foul, cess pit of a smell that these Hutts give off./ He heard his apprentice laugh and gave him a dirty look.

    <What is so amusing, Jedi?> rumbled their charge in Huttese. The brown and green mottled Hutt had twisted it's body around on the hover sled just enough to look back at the two Jedi curiously. They were traveling through the lower levels of Coruscant after having arrived at a supposedly secret and private hanger belonging to said Hutt.

    Dooku guessed they were at least thirty levels below the upper levels and in the area known as The Works, a run down section of the industrial sector of the planet city. It would take them about thirty minutes to make their way to civilization and another twenty to reach the Government Plaza where the Courthouse waited for the Hutt's testimony. All he and Qui-Gon had to do was get the Hutt and his bodyguards safely there.

    "My apprentice is enjoying my discomfort, your grace." The Hutt's large, bulbous orange eyes studied him before twisting his body back around to face forward.

    <You are uncomfortable about what exactly?> the Hutt inquired.

    "The stench." It was not a lie and it was disambiguation enough that the Hutt could not take offense. The Works, thankfully, also stank as bad as the Hutt. "I am a creature of cleanliness."

    The Hutt chortled, the noise sounding like a reek dying. <Ah. You Jedi are particular about sanitation.>

    "I am certain that a long, hot shower will not rid myself of this experience." His Padawan snickered beside him and Dooku began plotting revenge on the boy. He may enjoy getting down and dirty in the mud and dirt, but he [Dooku] most certainly did not. He was certain that by the time this was over he would have devised a means of teaching the child not to laugh at his Master's predicament.

    /Laugh it up, tree hugger,/ Dooku quipped snappishly. Qui-Gon simply smiled at his master which further irritated the man. /When we get back, I will have Master Yoda assign you waste duty. See how much you like wading in filth all day./

    /Careful, Master,/ Qui-Gon began, an endearing grin dominating his expression. /You're still on his Sith list, he might make you join me./

    /Ugh./

    Qui-Gon laughed again.

    /I will have my revenge, boy,/ Dooku snorted derisively.

    /Uh huh./

    "Impudent whelp." Dooku pursed his lips and glanced at the Hutt. "Drunga, I don't suppose you are in the market of selling cheeky Padawans?"

    The Hutt turned it's bulbous gaze on the Jedi Knight and laughed. <Selling Jedi are more trouble than they are worth.>

    "A pity."

    The Hutt's laughter was cut short with the familiar and dreaded whine of a blaster bolt. Drunga cried out in shock and fear as his body guards hurried to get their boss to the relative safety of a nearby building. Both Jedi escorts ignited their green bladed lightsabers and began reflecting the rain storm of blaster fire from above.

    "We're sitting ducks in this passage, Master!" observed his Padawan. Dooku gritted his teeth as he tried to redirect some of the blaster fire back at their assailants while also trying to see who it was that was attacking them and how many were there.

    "Get inside!" he shouted. The two Jedi retreated backwards, all the while providing an emerald shield of energy against the blaster fire for the Hutt and his bodyguards. Dooku and Qui-Gon ducked inside the building the Hutt had taken shelter in, a run down factory of some sorts that had seen better days ages ago.

    "Pa chutt'a sleemos!" a furious Drunga exclaimed and Dooku merely scowled. <Do something, Jedi! Before they get bold and come in here!>

    "I am!" Dooku growled and risked a glance through the large door. He ducked back quickly in time to avoid a blue bolt of death. "We need to find another way out before they flank us."

    "Who are they?" his young Padawan asked, anxious for action as he bounced lightly on the balls of his feet.

    "Could be gangsters, but I doubt it. More likely, hired guns to kill Drunga. I told you it was a bad idea to come this way." He directed the last at the Hutt. The slime had insisted on using his secret hanger that obviously was not so secret after all.

    <Just get me out of here, Jedi!>

    Dooku pursed his lips in frustration and knew he should not be wanting to leave the alien to his fate here. Disgusting slug, this is all your fault, he thought bitterly as blaster fire continued to pin them down inside the building. They could not leave through the way they came so they had to find another way out or make one.

    "Qui-Gon, scout for an exit." The boy nodded and hurried deeper into the building. The building had catwalks and corridors and Dooku was confident that his Padawan would find a way out while he kept the assailants distracted with the thought that he was trying to push his way back out the large doors.

    "Stay back!" he commanded the Hutt and his bodyguards. None of the Niktos were eager to defend their boss and inwardly he gave a sneer at their cowardice but grateful that they would not be in his way. The Jedi Knight twirled his lightsaber in his hand before he took a deep breath to center himself in the Force.

    He was not very good at deflecting blaster fire but all he had to do was deflect those that threatened him personally and dodge the rest. As long as he kept the assassins occupied at the door, they would be less likely to be flanked if the enemy thought they were trying to get out at the door. It also bought Qui-Gon time to find an exit.

    --------

    Qui-Gon Jinn hurried down the corridor and up a flight of stairs in search of a way out of the factory. He had passed several closed doors that hid offices and storage rooms but thus far had yet to find anything that resembled an exit on the factory floor. So he opted to try the next floor above, his eyes searching for any sign, both figuratively and literally, for an exit.

    A warning in the Force sent him sliding to a halt at a t-junction hallway and the teenage Padawan glanced down the left corridor in time to see sinister shadows emerge from around the corner. He grabbed the hilt of his lightsaber, ready to face the obvious threat that was coming. The light that cast the shadows of the armored men was natural, and he knew that he found a way out or at least it was a way in for the mercenaries that were after Drunga.

    Two Weequays and a Gand rounded the corner and spotted him. One of them shouted in a language that Qui-Gon couldn’t understand and as they raised their weapons to deal with him, the Padawan closed the distance in less than a second, his green blade singing to life to slice through the blasters. He had the advantage of surprise and made good use of it. With the Force and before any of them could react to his presence being so close, he flung one Weequay into the wall and brought his weapon around toward the Gand.

    The second Weequay drew a vibrosword from his back and effectively blocked the young human and bringing the fight into a melee. But the alien was no match for a trained Jedi, much less a Padawan. A few strikes and Qui-Gon had the alien literally disarmed. Had he expected the screaming alien to cause the two others to retreat, he had been sorely mistaken. No sooner had he felled the second Weequay, more of the mercenaries entered through the broken window down the hallway.

    Blaster fire sang down the corridor and Qui-Gon was forced to retreat back the way he had come. /Master! They have found a way in!/ he warned over the training bond. He felt his Master's frustration at the news as Qui-Gon ran back down the corridor with the aliens hot on his heels. The sudden sense of alarm from the man just before an explosion rocked the place sent the padawan running harder in concern. Dust motes rained down from the ceiling from the disturbance as Qui-Gon reached out to his master, probing his Master's health.

    /I'm fine,/ he felt from Dooku rather than actually hearing the words. Relieved, Qui returned his attention back to threat chasing him. Instead of going down the flight of stairs to return to the others, he took a different direction to lead them away from the factory floor, pausing long enough to send some broken equipment in their direction and angering them into following for certain.

    The Padawan rounded the corner and skidded to a halt as a dead end he hadn't expected to be there blocked his flight. The corridor had ended with a balcony overlooking the factory floor rather than actually dead ending but it still meant he was trapped. Qui-Gon cursed his luck as he leaned over the half wall that posed as a railing and stared down at the chaos below.

    His master was standing in the middle of the floor before the large doors they had ran through earlier to escape the ambush. Drunga had slid to hide behind machinery while his Niktos bodyguards had taken up positions wherever they could find cover, firing at the doorway while his master deflected blue and crimson death back at the attackers.

    Qui-Gon could see that the mercs had pushed their way in with a well placed detonator, the blackened scorch marking where it had landed and twisted the metal doors that had been caught in the blast. He could also see that his master had been caught in it as well, the edges of the hem of his robe still smoking from the ordinance.

    /Master?/ he inquired for direction. They were trapped in the building with threats coming in from two directions now and Qui-Gon knew it would not be long before his master and their charge were flanked from the catwalks and killed.

    /Keep them from taking the high ground!/ Dooku instructed distractedly.

    Qui gave a mental nod and whirled around at the sound of shouts and running footsteps behind him, his focus brought back to the here and now. He raised the green blade of his weapon to deflect fire back at his attackers and managed to pull one of the human mercenaries toward and over the balcony when he made the mistake of stepping around the corner first. There was a surprised shout as he went over and a muffled thud when he greeted the duricrete ground two floors below.

    He jumped onto the balcony wall and stole a brief glance over his shoulder. There was a catwalk several feet away. If he could leap to it and cut the support struts, he could send it crashing down and deny at least one advantage point for the enemy. But to do so would risk injuring the Niktos and his master below. A stray bolt of blue zipped too close to his head and the Padawan scowled at the alien that had nearly ended his illustrious career as a Jedi.

    Too close, Qui thought and shoved at the alien, sending him sprawling into another and making both their shots to go wild and causing a mild domino effect of chaos. One blast hit an overhead light above the factory floor, raining glass shards down on the defenders below. The other hit a comrade in the back that sent him collapsing on a fourth alien that was trying to prime a grenade. The round explosive fell at his feet and rolled toward the others and everyone scrambled for cover or to get away.

    He took advantage of the chaos his shove and the exploding grenade had caused and leapt off the balcony for the catwalk below. Qui landed gracefully on the metal structure and stood in time to see that he was not alone. Some of the mercenaries had chosen not to chase him through the corridors after all and instead tried to take up positions on the catwalks over looking the factory floor.

    They also, apparently were not expecting the young Jedi to suddenly show up either. Qui-Gon rushed forward, his lightsaber swinging to block the shots of one of the mercs. The Weequay tried to change weapons to a vibrosword but was too slow, his weapons clattered to the floor along with his head. His friend fared no better and for a few moments the catwalk Qui was on was clear of threats.

    Qui-Gon used those moments to take stock of their situation and noted that his master had retreated further back with the Niktos as attackers slowly trickled into the factory from the large door. Bodies had piled up around the entry where they had fallen from blaster fire or a lightsaber slash. The whole area smelled of blood and death and ozone. Drunga was still hiding behind machinery and shouting at one of the Nikto bodyguards angrily before be hit the alien with a stubby back hand.

    Qui-Gon frowned at the mistreatment. That was no way to treat beings that were laying down their lives for you. Sometimes he wondered why the races enslaved by the Hutts did not revolt against the worms. Qui knew their power was only an illusion, only as good as the species continued servitude.

    The Padawan sighed before sensing through the Living Force two mercs emerging onto one of the farther catwalks. He looked up at the urging of the Force to see that they were sporting heavier arsenal. There was little he could do to stop them, the catwalk was too far for him to jump, even with the Force.

    So he did the only thing be could do and reached out with a hand and imagined grabbing the device with the Force all the while sending a warning to his master. /Grenade!/

    The rocket propelled grenade fired at the same time he pulled.

    --------

    Master Dooku's arms were growing tired. He was already breathing heavy from his exertions in blocking the blaster fire and killing the mercenaries that were brave enough to try and engage him in melee. The Force sustained him and gave him the strength and energy to allow him to last longer than any normal person but even it could provide for so long before the body could not take any more.

    It also did not help that he had missed a shot and took it in the side. He winced at the stab of pain when he deflected another, cursing at the seemingly endless wave of attackers. Nearly a dozen lie dead or wounded at the entry, a few more where they managed to get inside and take cover. His injury and the detonator had forced him to fall back from his defensive position at the door to further into the factory.

    They were losing this fight and Dooku hated to lose.

    /Grenade!/ he heard from his Padawan just as the Force warned him of the threat. There was no time to warn the others nor see where the ordinance was going. He simply listened to the Force to take cover.

    Intense heat washed over him as he dove too late, the blast sending him sprawling across the factory floor and dazing him. He faintly heard and felt Qui-Gon's panicked cry and a surge of intense anger and grief from the young boy. Lives winked out around him from those that had been caught in the blast radius and from those above him.

    Shakily, the Jedi Knight got to his hands and knees and stretched out into the Living Force. Many of the bodyguards were dead or injured from the rocket attack but Drunga was still alive and trying to get away in a panic. The mercs were taking advantage of the explosion and pouring into the factory, in moments he and the others would be overwhelmed. But his greatest concern was Qui-Gon. His Padawan was above him striking down the attackers above in anger, around him a darkness was swirling and mixing with the light.

    /Qui-Gon,/ he called to his angry Padawan. Never before had he felt such intense emotions in the boy. The sound of blasters priming around him went unnoticed as he straightened up, his eyes closed. The Padawan had not answered him and focusing more he felt the boys mental shields had risen, blocking him out. Why was he blocking him?

    He pushed past those shields, he had to get to the boy before he went too far. /Qui-Gon!/ The startled feeling he sensed in the boy was the only sign that he had gotten through this time.

    /Master?/ Qui-Gon sounded relieved to hear him, the anger subsiding. Dooku then felt a pang of fear and dread directed toward him and he opened his eyes to stare into a barrel just inches from his face. The Jedi Knight looked up at the owner of said barrel, a stocky human with ginger hair and beard and decked out in light weight armor-weave, a tattoo of a black sun barely peeking out from under the collar of his armored tunic.

    "Hmm..." he gave the mercenary a cold smile. "It appears you have me at a disadvantage."

    "Surrender and you and your friend can walk out of here alive, Jedi," the human replied. "We only want the Hutt."

    "I'm afraid I cannot allow you to have him."

    "You'd die for that sleemo?" The thought seemed to confuse the mercenary and Dooku seized on to the opening to stall.

    "Yes," he answered. Alright perhaps he wouldn't be willing to die for the slug, but it was an occupational hazard that he risked every time he took a mission anyway. "It's a job requirement."

    /Qui-Gon,/ he called. /I could use your help./

    /Love to give it but, my hands are tied at the moment./ Confused, he stole a glance at the walkway above him. The mercenaries Qui had been fighting had managed to subdue his Padawan. How they managed that, he wasn't certain but he had a feeling it was because of his current predicament.

    Dooku scowled.

    He hated losing.

    "Fortunately for you, mate," the mercenary said after a moment of trying to figure out if the Jedi was just trying to be stupidly brave or really did mean what he said. "Our employer wants a message sent to the Jedi."

    He dreaded to ask, "And what would that be?"

    "You are the message." Ginger Hair grinned wickedly and before Dooku could react, he received a face full of a blaster hilt. "That's for making this job harder than it should have been."

    The Knight fell back, clutching his face with one hand and trying to stem the flow of blood from his now broken nose. Anger quickly boiled to the surface at the indignity to his pride and face and he would have lashed out with the Force if the men around him hadn't opened fire first.

    "Nighty night, Jedi."

    "Master!" was the last thing he heard before blacking out.
    Last edited by CmdrMitthrawnuruodo, Sep 5, 2012
  2. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 6
    Chapter Two

    The message to the Jedi had been clear and understood when a small craft hovered over the Temple steps and promptly deposited an unconscious Jedi Knight and his bound Padawan unceremoniously on to the great steps leading up to the Temple entrance. When the two Jedi had been identified and the Council informed, the Jedi knew that the trial of the Black Sun Vigo was going to be a mistrial without the key witness that Dooku and Qui-Gon had been assigned to protect. They also understood that they could have lost two of their own that day, and they were only spared by the mercy of Black Sun.

    Master Dooku was in an even worse mood when he had been told as to how he got back to the Temple and found himself waking in the Healer Ward. His pride was severely injured at the indignity of it all and at the fact that he had failed his mission. Already the news networks were blaming him and the Jedi for the mistrial and the murder of Drunga the Hutt. His decisions throughout the mission and his ability as a Jedi were being attacked by anyone that wanted their fifteen minutes of fame.

    It sickened him.

    He flicked off the holonet in irritation and would have thrown the remote at the device if his master had not spoken. "Right to be angry, you do. But not the Jedi way, this is. Let go, my old Padawan. Before the holo receiver suffers. Hmm."

    He scowled at the smiling little master and folded his arms across his chest. "It is irritating, Master. None of them know what happened down there, nor what it was like to fight for your life and another. Yet they go on to condemn me for a decision I did not make!"

    "All that matters, it should, knowing this."

    Dooku took a deep breath as his eyes closed and let his anger and frustration go in to the Force until he found the calm center Yoda wanted him to find again. Once he had found the familiar calm current that was within the raging rapids of his temper, he reopened his eyes to meet the large green ones of his former master. "I failed, Master. I should not have let Drunga convince me to take the alternate route through the Works."

    "Know this now you do, but know not that Drunga was betrayed." Yoda moved to sit on a chair near Dooku's medical bed. He leaned against his gimmer stick. "Certain of this the Council is."

    "Betrayed?" Dooku asked uncertainly, his temper starting to rise again at the very thought. Someone else had caused his failure! He stamped down on the passionate emotions before they could get out of control again. "By whom?"

    "Someone who knew of the route. Warrant an investigation this does." The human Jedi Knight pursed his lips as he considered his Master's words. There was a chance he could redeem himself and salvage the case against the Vigo. If he could find out who had betrayed Drunga and see if the string led back to him, that is.

    "It has to be someone close then," Dooku said after a moment of thought. "Someone in his entourage or bodyguards?"

    "This we suspect. Young Qui-Gon believed as much, when debrief the Council he did. Suspicions have you, Dooku?" Yoda asked, one of his bushy eyebrows rising as he stared at the healing Jedi.

    "The change in route was a last minute detail, Master. The only ones that knew it were myself, Qui-Gon, Drunga, the majordomo and the chief of security." Dooku scowled darkly and winced as the expression upset his facial injury. Although he had a cast over the nose that allowed him to speak clearly and heal, it did little to stave off the pain and he refused to take any sedatives for it.

    "Help your nose, scowling does not, my Padawan." The old master chuckled and Dooku sighed heavily in annoyance. "Concern yourself with this investigation, you shall not. Out of your hands this matter is. What little you have given, help the Council it will in solving this."

    "Master..." he protested. "I should be the one to look into this! If some Sithspawn is responsible for my failure, I want to..."

    The harsh tap of the gimmer stick on the floor was enough to silence his tirade. Master Yoda slid off the chair and walked over to his former Padawan and placed a hand on his arm. Dooku stiffened a little under the gentle touch but relaxed. He had never been one for open displays of affection.

    "All the more reason you shall not investigate, clouded your judgment has become." Yoda looked up at him and Dooku looked away, not wanting to meet his Master's gaze as he spoke. "Failure you are not."

    "But..." he tried to argue.

    "Failure you are not." Yoda said more firmly and then let his ears droop back as he continued to reason with the Jedi Knight and reassure him. "Betrayed Drunga was, betrayed he would still have been even if the route had been your choice. Now heal from your injuries, a worried Padawan you have. More important than healing your pride, tending to him you should."

    "Yes, Master Yoda." Dooku was not pleased but did not argue with the green troll any further. He knew when Yoda would not yield on an issue. And he has the gall to call me stubborn!

    Yoda patted his arm gently before shuffling out of the private room. When the door slid open to let him out, he greeted the tall and lanky Padawan that waited outside. "Greetings Padawan. Await your company, your Master does."

    Qui-Gon gave the Jedi Master a doubtful look but smiled politely as the little alien walked past. He stepped into the room and took over the chair Yoda had vacated and sat cross legged in it. "How are you feeling?"

    Dooku quietly grunted his answer and flipped the holonet back on but kept it on mute. He did not want to hear any more talk of how he had failed to protect a star witness but he did want to see what was going on at least.

    "I'm told you debriefed the Council in my absence?" he finally said after watching some reporter try and get into the cordoned off factory and fail.

    "I explained everything that had happened that I knew about. They'll want to get your half of the mission." Qui-Gon seemed subdued to his master and that drew his attention to the Padawan. He knew Qui well enough to know that something was bothering the boy.

    "I suppose they would want me to," he replied. He wasn't going to ask what bothered his Padawan. He would let him bring it up on his own. "Rather not though."

    "Why?"

    "Because the mission is not finished." Not by a long shot. He was going to find out who had betrayed them and find the evidence linking the mercenaries to the Vigo. With or without the approval of the High Council.

    "I thought Master Yoda said..." Qui-Gon started but Dooku cut him off sharply.

    "What Master Yoda doesn't know won't hurt him." He almost pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration but caught himself before he could. Dooku sighed deeply. "Besides... I know you want to find the truth in this matter as much as I do. We failed to protect him, and now all we can do is find out who is responsible for his death and bring justice to the person."

    "Justice or revenge, Master?" Dooku blinked at his Padawan. What kind of question was that? He stared at the boy for a second and reached out to him along their bond. He sensed that Qui-Gon was uncomfortable about how he might answer. Dooku could tell that it was not because he was accusing his master of wanting revenge. The boy was disturbed at the idea of revenge.

    "Justice, Qui-Gon." He finally said and closed his eyes for a second to think on the problem that was his Padawan's feelings.

    Feelings.

    Dooku remembered Qui-Gon's feelings during the fight. He remembered how the boy had lashed out at the mercenaries on the catwalks above and how he had tried to get through to the boy to stop his anger. Was this what bothered him?

    "Qui-Gon," he carefully probed. "What happened in the factory?" He caught the flicker of emotions in the bond and before he could explore them, the boy had walled up his mind with his shields, effectively shutting his master out. Dooku did not like it when the boy did that. He gently nudged at the bond. "Don't shut me out, Padawan. Something happened and I cannot help you if you do not tell me."

    Qui-Gon looked away from his master. Was that shame he just saw? Dooku patiently waited for the boy to answer him and was rewarded for his efforts a few minutes later. "He threatened to kill you if I didn't stop."

    An eyebrow rose in surprise at his words. What bothered him wasn't his outburst during the fight but one after he had been knocked out. "What happened?" he asked gently and prodded at the bond again. He felt the shields loosening a little and continued to gently work his way past them.

    "After they shot you I attacked them all. I..." Qui-Gon swallowed thickly and reached up to nervously play with his braid. "I... wanted to hurt them, Master. I wanted to hurt him."

    Now he understood his Padawan's reluctance to agree with him on disobeying the Council and investigate the incident themselves. "It is only vengeance if we allow our hearts to seek it, Qui-Gon. We are Jedi and we do not seek revenge for fallen comrades or betrayals. Only justice."

    He knew all too well about wanting revenge and where it could lead you. It led to more suffering. It had cost him a friend and humiliation and nearly caused him to murder that former friend years later.

    "What happened in the factory was only natural."

    "I shouldn't have wanted it, Master. It is not the Jedi way."

    No it was not the Jedi way. However it was the way of someone who cared and Dooku appreciated that Qui-Gon cared enough to want to avenge him. Still, it was not the Jedi way. He was raising a Padawan, not a son.

    "True, it is not." He gently patted empty space beside him on the bed and Qui-Gon obediently came over to sit. Dooku placed a hand on his shoulder. "What matters is that you learn from this and let go. I may not survive a mission one day and I will need you to keep a cool head to complete it and finish your training to Knighthood."

    "But..." He could feel through their bond that the boy was disturbed by the idea that his master could die. We appear invincible to our young and to see us fall shatters that perception. What must he think of my infallibility now? Dooku wondered, inwardly irritated at his own infallibility himself. He released the emotion into the Force before it could reach across the bond and Qui-Gon picking it up.

    "All life must become one with the Force someday, my Padawan." He gave the boy a small smile and Qui returned it weakly.

    "I hope you do not for a long time, Master."

    Dooku chuckled. "So do I, Padawan mine."

    ------------

    Dooku was released from the Healer's Ward the next morning with only a bruise aching his side and a strip cast over his nose to keep the passages open while it finished healing. His mood improved as soon as he walked out of the Ward, though the healer that had released him swore that he had fled, and headed for the mess in search of breakfast and his Padawan.

    He didn't find the tall and lanky boy amongst the other Padawans and Knights when he arrived and did a quick scan of the large room. He spotted Tahl, Qui-Gon's friend, with a few of her friends at the usual table he knew his Padawan sat at whenever they were on planet. So he found it peculiar to find the boy missing this morning.

    "Morning, Master Dooku!" greeted the ever pleasant young girl as soon as she spotted him approaching the table. He returned her smile briefly before returning to that renowned mask of seriousness.

    "Morning, Padawans." The others gave their greetings, some timidly. "Has anyone seen Qui-Gon this morning?"

    "I saw him meditating in the Thousand Fountains earlier," Tahl provided with a scowl of concern. "He seemed... upset isn't quiet the word I would describe his mood when I talked to him briefly."

    "Oh?" Dooku wondered what they had discussed. He knew the two were close and often confided in each other, another thing that perplexed him about the boy. A Padawan was suppose to be able to talk things through with his master whenever he needed help with something. Yet he often found the boy talking to Tahl or one of his other friends instead of his master. It had irritated him the first time he found out and rather than confront Qui-Gon he had gone to his own Master for advice. Yoda had simply told him to let the boy be and that he would come around eventually and so Dooku had, no matter how much it irked him that Qui-Gon didn't trust him enough to talk to about whatever troubled him. It had taken some coaxing and a direct question yesterday just to find out what had disturbed him.

    It looked like it would take some coaxing to get his friend to tell him as well. But at least he had an idea what could be bothering the Padawan. "I take it he shared his misgivings about the mission, Padawan Tahl?"

    The gold-flecked eyed girl nodded in answer reluctantly and Dooku sighed. "I tried to tell him that it wasn't his fault, Master."

    "No, it is not. The fault was mine." He spoke more to himself than he did to her. Dooku could not decide if he should leave Qui-Gon alone or forgo breakfast and find him. Master Yoda probably would have me let him meditate for a while before talking to him. Sometimes problems resolved themselves if left alone. He pursed his lips in frustration. Raising a Padawan such as Qui-Gon was far more difficult than mediating a diplomatic situation between a reek and a gundark.

    "Thank you, Padawan," he finally said before walking away. He would let Qui-Gon be for now. If the boy didn't show up before he finished his breakfast he would seek him out and try to help him cope with whatever disturbed him.

    ---------

    In the Room of a Thousand Fountains, Qui-Gon Jinn sat cross-legged at a pool lined with mossy river stone and wild plants that were in bloom. A small waterfall trickled into the pond from the stream that fed it and was a soothing sound to the Padawan. He always loved this room. He felt more alive in the Living Force than he did anywhere else in the Temple or on Coruscant. Here he could feel every ounce of minuet life, from the seedlings Padawans had planted yesterday to the amphibians that croaked somewhere from the trees and tall grass that hid them from sight but added to the cacophony of nature. The place may not have been naturally made, but it still soothed his soul when the Force could not.

    Qui-Gon sighed heavily as meditation failed again to ease the whirlwind within him. He could not stop thinking about what had happened after Master Dooku had been shot by the Black Sun mercenaries. What he had done had been wrong, he knew that, and yet it had felt like the right thing to do at the time. Tahl had tried to reassure him that what had happened had been no fault of his and yet he could not help feel that if he had been faster or stronger his master would not have been taken out and he would not have gone on a rampage with the Force.

    He had lashed out in anger and fear for his master. He had tasted the Darkside of the Force that afternoon.

    "Troubled are we, Padawan?" said the familiar voice of Master Yoda. How had he not heard or felt the diminutive master approach? You closed yourself to the Force, Qui. he chastised. Dooku would have lectured him about letting his guard down and was grateful that Yoda was not going to. The green master seemed to know when to lecture and when to be kind, wisdom he wished his master had.

    "No, Master Yoda," he lied. As much as he would appreciate the Master's wisdom and advice right now, he did not feel like discussing what had happened to anyone. It meant admitting that he had done something un-Jedi like.

    Apparently Yoda had not gotten the hint or decided to let him stew in his dark thoughts until he talked. The green, little master shuffled up to sit beside him at the pond, tucking his short legs under him and setting the gimmer stick before his person. Qui-Gon blinked at him in puzzlement.

    "Disturbing you am I?" the Master asked. Qui-Gon shook his head in reply. Yoda gave a mirthful harrumph in reply as he settled in to a meditation. He said nothing more and simply waited on Qui-Gon.

    Qui tried to ignore him and return to his own meditation and thoughts but found it difficult to do so with Yoda sitting next to him as if there was nothing wrong. He knew the Master felt the roiling storm inside him, how could he not? His own master had felt it and managed to coax him into answering him, though had done little to try and reassure him.

    You really did not give him much to go on. Qui-Gon frowned and scowled at the pond and the trickling waterfall, as if it were the source of his turmoil.

    "Hmm. What to you, did the waterfall do?" intruded Yoda's peaceful but broken grammar. Qui-Gon's gaze snapped to him in confusion.

    "Master?"

    The green troll gestured at it with a single claw. "Burning lasers into it you are. What to you, did it do, hmm?"

    "Nothing, Master." He answered with a heavy sigh.

    "Done something, it must have."

    Qui-Gon shook his head in reply. "No, Master. It's... something I had done."

    "Certain are you that it is not the waterfall's fault?" Qui could detect the humor behind the seriousness in Yoda's voice. The diminutive troll found his glaring at water amusing.

    "Very, Master."

    "Yet glare at it you do."

    "Would you rather I glare at you, Master Yoda?" Qui replied a little irritated. The master laid his ears back in sadness as he shook his head.

    "Ease your pain, would it?" he said.

    "No, Master."

    "Why then, waste such energy glaring?" The little troll was not going to give up, was he? Qui-Gon sighed again and let his shoulders sag in defeat.

    "I... did something I shouldn't have, Master." he finally relented. Yoda said nothing in reply, simply waited for him to continue while he drew designs into the water with his cane. "I ... When the mercenaries shot Master Dooku, I lashed out at them all with the Force. I wanted to hurt them for hurting my master. I shouldn't have, but it felt right."

    "The Darkside you felt," Yoda finally spoke when Qui-Gon fell silent. "Tell your master this have you?"

    The Padawan shook his head. "Only part of it. He told me it was natural for me to want revenge but that I should not seek it. That... one day he may not survive a mission and that he would need me to keep my head and finish things."

    "Wise are his words, Padawan." Yoda assured. He still had yet to look up at the tall human boy. "Easy to give in to anger, it is. To want revenge, to believe it is right. The Darkside this is. Much hope for you there is, that you are repulsed by what had happened. Learn from this you should and speak to Master Dooku you must."

    "I find it difficult to do so, Master. He and I," he paused as he thought about his relationship with his master. It was friendly but strict like he expected a master and Padawan bonding should be. Yet he felt that something was missing between them. There was trust and yet here he was questioning Yoda on confiding his fears to his master. Perhaps that trust was lacking the depth that it should? "We don't do well talking about our feelings, Master."

    Yoda poked him with a claw and Qui-Gon met his green gaze. "Avoid such talk you both do. Trust your master you should and trust you with his own he will."

    He gave Yoda a scandalous look, as if the green little alien was out of his mind with the suggestion. He must have read his thoughts for Yoda added, "Know him, I do. My Padawan he was, remember? With his feelings tight lipped Master Dooku can be, but easily lost as his own Padawan. Help find a way, who better than each other?"

    "It's not that easy, Master Yoda," Qui-Gon tried to argue and the Jedi Master harrumphed in reply and fixed him one of those 'Know this I do not, think you?' stares.

    "Path of a Jedi, easy it is not, Padawan. Stubborn you are. Stubborn he is. Strong in the Living Force both of you are. Find your way, both you shall. Through Darkness and Light. Pain and comfort. Master and Padawan. Together." Yoda fell silent and simply watched Qui-Gon try and understand what he meant. Qui thought he did but was uncertain.

    Maybe I should talk to Master Dooku about what really happened. If I cannot trust him with my problems, how can he trust me? Qui-Gon took a calming breath and Yoda looked away to study the scenery of the elaborately beautiful gardens. The lanky Padawan stood and brushed the grass and soil from his robes.

    "Most welcome you are, Padawan." Yoda said without looking up at him.

    Qui-Gon bowed respectively to the little master. "Thank you for listening." He then went in search of his master, stretching out in the Force to find out where he would have gone once the healers had released him.

    When he did find him a few moments later, he had not expected him to be in the mess hall. Qui knew how much his master valued his privacy, especially at meal time and definitely more so when they were on planet and at the Temple. So he was surprised at where he had felt the man's powerful presence coming from.

    Qui-Gon hurried.

    ----------

    Master Dooku deposited the empty tray of used table ware and was about to vacate the area when he finally felt his Padawan approaching. About time, he thought. I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have to seek him out after all. He waited near the entry for the boy to appear and was rewarded with the sight of his growing Padawan.

    "Qui-Gon."

    "Master." They both had greeted together. Qui-Gon fidgeted in front of him, his left hand curling into his robe's hem. "I... need to talk to you."

    Dooku quirked a brow at him and gestured toward the kitchen. "We'll talk in our apartment after you grab yourself some breakfast. I doubt the subject of concern needs to be made into Temple gossip, my Padawan." Relieved that he would not have to discuss things in front of others, Qui-Gon nodded and hurried to grab some food to go before catching up with his tall master.

    Dooku waited outside for his Padawan and as soon as he headed back with food, he started down the hallway for the turbolifts. Silence reigned between them as they walked, the smell of breakfast foods wafting between them. He noticed a change in the boy. Nervousness. Uncertainty.

    "I am surprised, Master, to have found you in the mess," Qui-Gon tried to lighten the heavy silence that had fallen around them. "You usually eat in our apartment when we're here."

    "I was looking for you and figured you had yet to eat." He glanced at him as they waited for a clan of younglings with a crèche master to exit the turbolift that had arrived. Dooku stepped in first once it was empty and Qui-Gon settled beside him. The Jedi Knight keyed the floor he wanted before continuing to talk to his Padawan. "So I waited for you to finish your meditation and show up."

    "You knew where I was and still endured the, how do you put it?" Qui said and tried to imitate his Master's voice. "Nuisance of unwanted company and disturbing images of a dozen species trying to eat at once?"

    Dooku gave him a half-hearted glare. "Brat. When did I teach you to be so cheeky towards me?"

    "I learned by example, Master." Qui-Gon answered and Dooku rolled his eyes as the lift rose rapidly. They fell silent again until the lift came to an abrupt halt on the floor their apartment was located. The Jedi Knight led the way out with the Padawan following right behind him.

    Dooku nodded a greeting to a passing master as they hurried down the hall, but otherwise did not turn his attention away from the boy. "As to why I endured the poor company of our fellow Jedi and their eating habits, I wanted to give you time to meditate on yesterday."

    "Thanks, I think." Dooku glanced back at him and Qui did not meet his gaze.

    "I am concerned for you, Qui-Gon. You have refused to let go of what had happened." Dooku continued. "Jedi do not dwell on the past and the mistakes or failures we made."

    "But isn't that what you are doing, Master?" He saw his Padawan's skeptical look and knew he could not be an example to his own wisdom if he did not follow it himself.

    The young Jedi sighed. "I am not dwelling, only correcting. There is a difference nor is the hallway of the Temple a place to discuss that."

    "Sorry, Master." Dooku placed a hand on the boy's shoulder when he had lowered his head.

    "There is nothing to be sorry for. You are right to think me being hypocritical with what I say, but that does not mean you should not heed the wisdom being given." They had stopped in front of their door and Dooku stood in front of his Padawan to make the boy look at him. "Sometimes it takes a failure of the master to see such wisdom himself in order for him to pass on that knowledge to his student so said student does not make the same mistakes as the master."

    "Can we go inside now?" Qui-Gon asked uncomfortably, his gaze flicking to the door of their apartment. Dooku sighed softly and nodded. He took his hand from the boy's shoulder and waved it over the controls. It recognized him with a beep and the door slid upward rapidly with a hiss.

    Their apartment was modestly furnished with what they only needed to live comfortably but still told that the Jedi who lived there was an individual who had tastes. Many people believed that Jedi lived spartan lives and it was mostly true. But Dooku came from a family and a life he remembered as a child and although they were vague memories now, he had always felt more comfortable and at peace if he had a comfortable, but still pragmatic home that was his and not some place that had been given to him.

    So the furniture, although within the standards of the Order, was comfortable and tasteful. A sleeper couch occupied the center of the common room with a coffee table that had seen better days and which Dooku couldn't part with despite the worn look it had. Jedi were not suppose to have possessions or form attachments to objects, but the Jedi Knight felt he needed to. It told him he was different, an individual amongst hundreds of his kind.

    It was why he didn't wear the traditional khaki and brown robes of the Order and instead chose the darker shades, tailored to feel more like he was the nobleman he had been born as. They were still robes of a Jedi in style, but they individualized him. Although his master had frowned on his choice, the little troll couldn't argue with him when he said it made non-Jedi relax around him at the negotiation table.

    In front of the table was an entertainment system that housed only a display and receiver. Beside the sleeper was an avian cage with one of Qui-Gon's rescues that he had recently acquired on Onderon. It was a dragon-bird youngling that looked like it was just starting to go through one of its molting stages with the way it's scaly skin was flaking off in patches and the head plume drooped pathetically.

    The rest of the room had small tables with what should have had if they were anything but Jedi, but instead models of ships and archaic weapons, exotic plants and cages decorated them. A couple serene paintings and tournament plaques decorated the walls and gave the apartment atmosphere.

    The avian squawked at the Padawan eagerly when he approached the cage and Dooku left the common room to disappear into the kitchenette while Qui-Gon tended to the menagerie of animals and plants. He avoided stepping on a loose animal and scowled at the creature, muttering under his breath about Qui-Gon's hobby and why he allowed the boy to keep the pests.

    Dooku rummaged through the cabinets in search of the items he was looking for, once shouting at Qui-Gon to take care of the vermin he found sleeping in one cabinet, before starting the tea he wanted to make and figured he would need for the discussion the Padawan wanted to have.

    He stepped out of the kitchenette, and over a nexu cub chewing on something that suspiciously looked like something of his, and sat down at the desk behind the sleeper. "Qui-Gon," he said a little exasperated at the state their home was in. "Who did you leave to tend to these animals while we were gone?"

    The Padawan struggled to pull the nexu's new toy away from him, but the little beast was proving to be reluctant and uncooperative. It seemed to find it more of a game than upset at having it taken from him.

    "Um... Tahl, but I fed this morning," he said sheepishly before glaring at the nexu. "Come on! Give it here!" The animal eventually gave in and Qui-Gon stumbled back at the sudden lack of pulling by the cub. Dooku chuckled in amusement while he sipped his tea. Normally he did not mind having Qui-Gon's pathetic life forms in their apartment, as long as he kept them in their cages or his room and out of his own room.

    The Padawan scooped up the cub and disappeared into his room with it before coming back and giving his master an apologetic look. "Sorry about this, I must have forgotten to double check the locks this morning."

    The master waved the apology off with a gesture. "I'll let it slide this time, Qui. You were obviously distracted by what has been disturbing you since yesterday afternoon." A single eyebrow rose in question at the Padawan and Qui-Gon nervously played with the edges of his sleeves. The boy turned away and hurried into the kitchenettes, probably to gather his nerves.

    Dooku was unsure how to get the boy to talk. This was something they hardly ever did to begin with. He, himself, rarely spoke of what bothered him, and he suspected that was probably part of the problem. "Qui-Gon?" he implored gently when the boy hadn't returned.

    "Master?" Qui answered, trying his best to hide from his voice what he was feeling.

    /Talk to me,/ Dooku sent across the bond as he gently probed the feelings he could sense in the Padawan. /What really happened after I was shot?/ He felt the mental wince from him at the reminder of what had happened to the master. Qui came back to the common room just far enough to be seen by Dooku. The Padawan leaned against the frame of the kitchenette opening, looking emotionally worse for wear.

    "I... attacked in anger, Master," he said finally and Dooku caught the wave of shame radiating off the boy. He remained silent to allow Qui to talk without feeling pressured any further. "I wanted to hurt them, I did hurt them. I felt... cold."

    Understanding dawning, the Knight set his tea cup down before standing up from the chair. He gestured at the coffee table and it slid away to make room in front of the sleeper and entertainment unit. "Did you use the Force in anger?" he gestured to his Padawan to approach before kneeling down in the empty space.

    Qui-Gon nodded reluctantly and Dooku could feel the guilt through their bond. "I...it felt right, Master, but I know it wasn't."

    "It is not," he confirmed and again gestured for his Padawan to kneel with him. "What you felt was the Darkside of the Force. It will lie to you, cloud your judgment and make you believe that what you are doing is not wrong at all. Although I do appreciate you wanting to avenge me, Padawan, it is not our way as I have said before. Meditate with me and I will help you get through this."

    Qui-Gon knelt down in front of his master and took a deep breath to calm himself before closing his eyes. Dooku watched him for a moment before he followed the boy into meditation. After another moment of silence where the only sound was the occasional squeak from Qui's pets and their slow, steady breathing, Dooku felt the boy grow frustrated.

    "Calm yourself," he instructed. "Think of nothing except the serenity of a garden..."

    "Would you do the same for me?" Dooku scowled at the interruption and opened his dark eyes to meet blue ones. What kind of question was that? Is this it? Is this what is truly bothering him? Does he think so little of me that I would not want to avenge him? Would he though? It bothered him that he would even question the very idea that he would want to bring justice to whatever fiends that would have harmed his Padawan.

    Though another thought came to him as he considered the question further. Perhaps Qui-Gon did know that his master would want to avenge him and it was that which disturbed him. Did he want reassurance that his master would not seek revenge, that the boy's own thirst for it had been his own failing and not the master's?

    Revenge is not the Jedi way, he reminded himself. He closed his eyes again and let out a soft sigh to compose himself before answering Qui-Gon.

    "I would find a way to find justice for you, Padawan." It felt like a lie. Why would it? He should seek justice, not revenge. Right? He scowled a little at his own uncertainty to the innocent question. He would not seek vengeance. He was a Jedi and he had to reassure Qui-Gon of that, yet he could not shake the feeling that if something happened to the boy, he would do something... rash. "But I hope it never comes to that, Qui."

    The Padawan nodded quietly, seemingly satisfied with his answer, and closed his eyes again to resume his meditation. Dooku listened to the feelings he could sense as he probed his own. This was suppose to be about helping his Padawan and instead he finds himself disturbed by the idea that he would skirt the Darkside to seek vengeance for the boy should something happen to him.

    The thought comes too easily to me, he mused in disgust and then concern. Dooku forced himself back into a meditation and it took him a while to find his calm center, but eventually he felt the warm, reassuring, serenity of the Force again.
    Last edited by CmdrMitthrawnuruodo, Sep 5, 2012
  3. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 6
    Chapter Three

    Later that day Qui-Gon Jinn found himself back in the Room of a Thousand Fountains after spending most of the morning meditating with his master and trying to figure out how to deal with what he had done and experienced. He had noticed Dooku's own mood and thoughts had changed during their meditation and it left the Padawan concerned for him. When he had left to find solitude here, his master had been on their balcony, watching the flow of Coruscant traffic, brooding.

    Qui settled at his usual spot by the pond and small waterfall but did not feel like meditating again. He had done enough already to last him a life time anyway and more meditation would only set back things. He needed to think and watching the trickling water and listening to the sounds of the garden was the best way for him to think.

    I am attached to my master, he thought once he was comfortable on the river stone. It is the only explanation for why I did what I did. He wondered if Dooku realized that and even appreciated the thought that someone cared enough for him. Qui knew his master preferred solitude over company and the few friends the man had allowed to get close were less than the number of years that he had been Dooku's student.

    He wasn't sure what he should do about his attachment to his master. He knew Yoda would probably tell him to let go, but the very thought of distancing himself from Dooku seemed so wrong and alien to him.

    Yet it caused me to kill in anger and fear, he sighed heavily. Maybe he could remain attached as long as he kept control of his feelings whenever Dooku was hurt. Qui could not bring himself to think of his master as dead or killed.

    "Can't even accept such a possibility, how am I suppose to keep control of my emotions then?" he asked himself and glared at the waterfall in frustration.

    "What possibility?" asked the voice of his friend, Tahl. Qui-Gon's glare faded and he smiled warmly at her as she approached. She stopped beside him and placed a fist on her hip and gave him a stern look. "You missed breakfast."

    He blushed sheepishly, "Sorry, Tahl. I've been meditating with Master Dooku." She gave him a playful grin before plopping down beside him.

    "It's alright. I kinda figured he snatched you since he was looking for you this morning. So was he able to help?"

    Qui sighed heavily and ran a hand through his short cropped hair. "A little. I think I know what is wrong though."

    She waited for him to elaborate.

    "Attachment," he added finally. "I'm attached, I thought..."

    "That they had killed him?" Tahl finished and he nodded. Qui looked away and felt his friend place a hand on his arm gently.

    "He's my master, I was too slow in warning him about the rocket grenade and they managed to capture us both," he explained and blew out a heavy breath. "If I had just been quicker or if I had been stronger in preventing myself getting caught, I could have stopped them from hurting him and I wouldn't have..."

    Qui cut himself off before he said what he had done. He did not want Tahl to know that he had brushed the Darkside of the Force. It was bad enough Master Yoda and his master knew, he did not need his friend to think that he had failed to stay in control.

    The young girl wrapped her arms around him in a firm embrace and Qui-Gon happily returned it. "Quit beating yourself up over what if's, Qui. You did what you could and what any Padawan would have done for their master. Believe me I probably would have done the same thing if it was my master instead." Tahl drew back from him to meet his blue gaze with her own green-gold flecked one. "Just learn from this and know what to do next time it happens. Force knows you and Master Dooku get in enough scrapes as it is, I doubt this will be the last time either of you are pushed to the limits."

    A tiny smile ghosted the corner of his lips, "No, it won't be the last time." He then frowned as he considered something that had been said that morning. "I asked Master Dooku earlier if he would do the same for me."

    "What was his answer?" Tahl patiently waited for her friend to answer. Qui seemed to struggle over telling her what had been said and what he had felt from his master when the man answered.

    "He said he'd bring justice to those who'd hurt me, but..." the tall Padawan paused and let his gaze flicker to the water slowly trickling into the pond from a wayward stream that had managed to break away from the main one. It reminded him of his master and how he often broke away from the orthodox ways of the Jedi Order in order to fulfill the will of the Force. It landed him into more trouble than Qui-Gon could count and he often found himself agreeing with his Master's decisions.

    Most of the time.

    Qui-Gon looked back at his friend and continued, "I don't think he quite believes what he told me, Tahl. I mean... yesterday he said he would go against the Council and continue the investigation."

    "That's not unusual for him."

    Qui-Gon shook his head at her. "No, but he usually is not embarrassed like he was this time. I think he wants to nurse his pride and that's why the Council took the mission away from us."

    "You think he wants to get revenge against the people who um... returned you two to us?" Qui-Gon nodded.

    "It would not be the first time he's wanted revenge," he whispered while studying the river rock he sat on. "I barely managed to keep him from going through with it the last time and..." Qui-Gon paused and released a heavy sigh. He flicked his gaze back to the trickling water. "I don't want him to avenge me or himself, Tahl. I fear what it might do to him if he does."

    The young Padawan girl placed a gentle hand on his shoulder and gave him a reassuring smile. "As long as he has you beside him, he'll be fine. You are the type of person that won't let someone do something stupid."

    "Even though I often do the stupid?" he asked skeptically.

    "Exactly why." Tahl grinned. "Now, come on. I have an hour before I have to tend to my library duties. Let's spar a little."

    Qui-Gon nodded with a soft grin before climbing to his feet and following his friend. A bit of exercise through practicing would do him good and take his mind off of yesterday and his concerns for his master.

    -----------

    Emerald light splashed off the walls and the single occupant of the darkened training salon as the lightsaber was forced through rapid successions of the dying saber form, Makashi. The slashes and ripostes were as sharp and angry as the expression that Knight Dooku wore, the viridian illumination twisting it into an almost sinister look.

    He had spent the early hours of the morning brooding over what had happened to him and his Padawan before coming here, displeased with how a simple escort mission had gone horribly wrong and humiliating. His concern for Qui-Gon was dwarfed by his wounded pride and just knowing that he cared more about rectifying that injury to himself, only made him more angry.

    His half naked body glistened with sweat as he forced it through a series of katas, spins and a finishing leap that had him kneeling on a knee with the green blade held over his head in a defensive guard. His chest heaved from the exertion and it was a minute before he gathered himself and climbed back to his feet. The lightsaber hung loosely at his side, humming quietly and soothing his thoughts as he focused on the sound.

    Pushing back the memories of the mission and focusing on what was more important, Dooku knew why Qui-Gon had lashed out at the mercenaries and it warmed his heart that the boy cared enough to want to avenge him, but he knew such attachment was dangerous and not because of the potential for loss either. The sting of his childhood friend's betrayal was still a fresh wound in his heart, recently reopened not too long ago, and Dooku loved his Padawan just enough to want the young man to never feel that kind of pain. But how does one force a growing child to hold someone they love at arms length?

    Dooku raised his lightsaber up into the traditional salute of his form before going through another series of maneuvers while he thought about the puzzle. A part of him wanted to get closer to the boy and let the boy get close to him, but the pain of the past betrayal was far too great for him to push past. He did not want Qui-Gon to feel what he had felt and as he slashed at the air in front of him, he realized that the young man would if he pushed the boy away.

    Dooku blinked in the green illuminated darkness, his breath coming heavy, and simply stared at the lightsaber in front of him. The boy loved him and here he was plotting on how to distance that love so it wouldn't become the double-edged sword that the emotion could be. He would become Qui-Gon's Lorian Nod if he kept him at arms length.

    The Jedi scowled and spun around to repeat the exercise, each swing growing more violent as he silently chided himself. As his thoughts grew angrier, his motions reflected his temperament.

    He stabbed the air harshly. The boy loved him, that's why he touched the Darkside.

    He blocked an imaginary strike from overhead before sliding the blade against the pain of his heart and riposting with a quick angry slash. Attachments were far too important to his Padawan, how could he force his pain and experience on the child?

    He spun around and parried Lorian's gold lightsaber and snarled his anger and frustration. He could not bring himself to hurt the boy just so he could teach him that lesson.

    His strikes were powerful and less fluid and graceful as he battered away at his hated friend's defenses. He would not hurt the boy!

    His blade came down upon the source of his pain accompanied by an angry cry. He would not betray the boy!

    He would not become Lorian!

    Dooku panted and blinked the sweat from his eyes before he realized that his lightsaber had met resistance on that last strike. Once the haze of his fury against his imagination had faded from his sight, he stared in shock at where his weapon ended up in the mock fight with his childhood friend and his own internal struggle to trust and be trusted.

    Before him, his felled opponent stood silently, cleaved from neck to torso, sparks sputtering where the blade was stuck and melting into the thin phrik casing. Horrified that he had allowed his fury to get the better of him and that the training droid could easily have been a person, Dooku yanked his weapon free and back peddled several feet before drowning himself in the darkness of the salon, emerald light fading into the hilt with a sucking hiss.

    It had been a long time since he had ever allowed himself to let go like that, to let his passions rule his actions. Dooku closes his eyes as the ghost of his past rose up to remind him of how exactly he had allowed his anger to hurt someone. The pained cry of his former friend echoed in his ears after his gold training saber had landed harshly on the boy's back, that, he had to admit, if it had been a real lightsaber he would have murdered his friend that day with the cleaving blow meant to bisect an opponent. The fact he had allowed that old wound to open up again over the thought that he was becoming like Lorian to his Padawan unsettled him.

    Dooku stared into the darkness at his unlit lightsaber, feeling its cold image of antiquity and curves, he was disgusted with himself. His weapon had been used in anger and fear and it had been by the grace of the Force that no one had been hurt during his furious practice. His own attachment to the boy had brought about the strong feelings and memories of the past.

    With a heavy sigh, Dooku flicked the lights on with a gesture of a hand and walked over to the bench his affects were resting. He dropped the lightsaber onto his tunic and cloak as he picked up a towel and a water bottle. He took the time to dry himself of the sweat and quench his parched mouth to clear his thoughts and think about how he could help his Padawan deal with his attachments without giving in to the same anger he felt at hurting the boy.

    Then again he was uncertain if he could while he wanted to give in to his feelings for the boy. How could he teach if he hasn't learned the lesson himself? Oh he knew what would become of it, eventual betrayal, but not how to handle the loss. He had not learned it as a Padawan so how could he teach it?

    "I don't know what to do," he whispered quietly and allowed his shoulders to sag in defeat. He knew where he could get advice on the matter but also knew the answer the little troll would give and he had always been set against that philosophy. It had not helped him, rather it had simply allowed the wound to fester and explode into a furious rage to the point of nearly embracing the dark and committing murder. He had let go but the issue had not been resolved for him.

    He had lost a friend and his childhood and he had, since then, been unable to open up to anyone else and trust again. Qui-Gon was the closest he's ever gotten to allowing himself to trust but it was limited. He did not confide in the boy his troubles though he often told himself it was because of a confidence a Padawan needed to have in his master. The truth be told, he could not bring himself to trust the boy with his secrets, his fears, his pain, or his desires. What Lorian had done to him had sealed that trusting side of himself into an inescapable vault and Dooku knew that if he was going to be able to teach his Padawan on how to handle attachment, he was going to have to learn himself.

    Truly learn it.

    And trust the boy like he had trusted a friend once.
    Last edited by CmdrMitthrawnuruodo, Sep 5, 2012
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