So the last thing I need is to start another story, but the moose muse gives what the moose muse gives.... Title: Proud of Your Boy Author: Raissa Baiard Genre: drama, introspection Timeframe: 25-18 BBY Characters: Doran Blayne, OCs Synopsis: Prequel to "Everyone Comes to Doran's Place." The Usual Disclaimer: The characters were originally conceived pre-TPM, when Jedi were assumed to be able to marry and visit their birth families. Rather than ret-conning, I've chosen to assume that these things are very much discouraged by the Jedi Council, but not forbidden, per se. Author's notes: this isn't exactly a song fic, but the title and the story were inspired by the song "Proud of Your Boy," by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. It was written for an early draft of the movie Aladdin. (You can find the lyrics here if you're interested, though it's a very loose inspiration). Proud of Your Boy: A Doran Blayne story Part 1: The Knife He sat alone in the dark cantina, a bottle of Corellian whiskey in one hand, a lightsaber in the other. Or, more precisely, the remains of a lightsaber. The hilt was just an empty shell now, gutted the way his life had been. He'd pulled the crystals out one after another and sold them on the black market to buy himself a new identity, a new life. He took a long pull of whiskey as he turned the leather wrapped cylinder over in his hands, remembering. Remembered using it to protect refugees on Alderaan. Remembered practicing with it in the Jedi Temple. Remembered building it.... Remembered the letter.... Master Onfroi was waiting outside his quarters when he returned from the contemplation gardens. He glanced down at his chronometer with a frown. "Is it dinner time already? I must have lost track of time while I was meditating for my Trials." He grinned back up at his master. "When the Council calls, I'll be ready." "I'm sure you will, Domnic." Master Onfroi's smile didn't reach his eyes, and Domnic tensed. His master was an irreverent, irrepressible Corellian, whose wit was as sharp as his lightsaber, but Domnic could feel a turmoil within him and sensed that it involved him somehow. Onfroi held out a small, flimsi-plast wrapped package. "There's still a while until dinner; I just stopped by to give you this." Domnic was reluctant to take it, the source of his master's uneasines, but Master Onfroi thrust the package into his hands, adding, "The Council didn't want you to have this until after you'd completed your Jedi trials, but I think you have a right to it." It was les than half a meter long and hardly weighed half a kilo, but he felt like he'd been handed a slab of durasteel. "What...?" Domnic began, but Master Onfroi was already heading back down the hall. "I'll be be back to talk with you later," he called over his shoulder. This answer was neither helpful nor fair, Domnic thought, but knowing Master Onfroi, it was all he was likely to get. He carried the ominous little package into his room and tossed it down on his bed. Normally, the fact the Council didn't want him to have it would have caused him to open it immediately, but something about it bothered Master Onfroi, too. Since his master hardly ever agreed with the Council on anything, Dominic was certain he wasn't going to like what was inside. He considered tipping it down the nearest trash chute and saving himself some trouble. No, he thought, whatever it was, Master Onfroi had wanted him to have it, even if he didn't like it. Might as well get this over with.. With a prickle of foreboding like makants traveling up and down his spine, Dominic ripped the flimsi-plast off and pried open the packing box underneath. Inside was a knife-- a plain blade, not a vibro-shiv-- with a leather wrapped hilt and a sheath embossed with the insignia of the Corellian Navy. Such knives were standard issue in the Corellian military and easy to come by throughout the Republic, but the sight of it turned the makants tiptoeing down his back into a herd of thundering bantha. Domnic picked it up, and his fears were confirmed. The initials "D.J." had been crudely engraved on the butt of the knife. His father's initials. His father's knife, the one he'd always worn at his side. A holo-disc lay in the bottom of the box underneath his father's blade. Domnic picked it up and slid it into his data pad, dreading but needing to hear what was on it. A woman's image shimmered to life. She was attractive, the kind of woman who was more often called 'handsome' than 'beautiful'. Her hair was arranged in impeccable gold waves, but her eyes were shadowed. She smiled tiredly at the camera. "Hello, Domnic," his mother said. "I wanted to speak to you in person, but the Council member I spoke to told me you were preparing for your trials and couldn't be disturbed. I hope they'll let you have this message and that it won't disrupt your training too much." Her smile wobbled. "I'm sorry I have to tell you this way, but your father...your father passed away last week." She glanced away, and when she looked back, tears shimmered in her eyes. "It was very unexpected, an aneurysm...the medic said it happened fast and might not have caught it in time even if... Well, you know how your father was about seeing the medic." She wiped a tear away and gave the camera another watery smile that dissolved as more tears streamed down her pale cheeks. His mother leaned forward and the image shimmered into static for a moment. When the picture resolved, her eyes were red-rimmed and her face was blotchy. She sighed. "Sorry about that... I'm still… anyway. I'm sending you your dad's knife. It belonged to your grandfather when he served in the Corellian Navy, and he gave it your dad when he enlisted. Doran planned to give it to you when you passed your trials. I know Jedi don't use ordinary weapons, but I thought you should have it now, to remember him by." She looked away again. "Your father was proud of you, Domnic, so proud that you were going to be a Jedi. He didn't say it often, but he loved you very much. I love you, too, and I hope I'll be able to see you soon. May the Force be with you in your trials." She blew a kiss to the camera, and her image faded out. Domnic stared at the data pad and then at the knife that lay on his desk. His father was dead. His father was dead, shouldn't he feel…something? Something besides this strange emptiness inside? Shouldn't he cry, like his mother, or scream or rant or something? Shouldn't he do something besides sit here and wonder how you mourned a father you hardly knew? "You know how your father was," his mother had said, but he didn't, not really. How could he, when he could probably count the number of times he'd seen his father on both hands. Most of those meetings could be measured in hours, stop overs when Master Onfroi's business took him back to Corellia. Oh, there had been holo-messages and letters, which he'd been terrible about returning in his irresponsible youth and too-busy teen years, but all of them put together didn't give a real picture of the man who'd been his father. No, Domnic reflected, running his fingers over the initials carved into the knife, he'd never really known Dad at all; now he'd lost the opportunity forever. And his mother...he didn't really know her, either, but he knew that she and Dad were close. Beyond close, since Mom didn't have any living family and they'd decided not to have more children after Domnic had been taken to the Jedi Temple. The date stamp on her holo-disc said that she'd recorded it more than a month ago; why it had taken so long to get to him when Corellia was less then a day's flight away, he didn't know. She had probably given up hoping for a response from her only son, probably thought he was too busy with important Jedi business to bother with her. He clenched his fingers around the leather-bound hilt and clenched the other hand into a fist. Master Onfroi had always taught him that aiding the Republic's citizens--all of the Republic's citizens-- was a Jedi's most important work. He let go of the knife and picked up his comlink. -------------- When Master Onfroi returned an hour later, Domnic was still at his desk. "I received a message from the Council that you'd requested a leave of absence to visit your mother on Corellia. Are you all right?" "Never better," Domnic said as he continued sketching out a design on his data pad. "I'm sure they also told you that my request was denied and that I was strongly cautioned that even trying to contact my mother would adversely affect my likelihood of being called for my Trials this season. But yes, other than that, I'm fine." Master Onfroi entered the room with a sigh. "Domnic, you have to realize that the Council has your best interests at heart." He stood behind Domnic and rested a hand on his padawan's shoulder. "The Trials require intense preparations, and breaking your focus so close to... What's this?" He heard the frown in his master's voice and decided he didn't need to look up to see it as well. He added another notation to his design. "I'm redesigning my lightsaber." "To resemble a Corellian Navy duty knife." Oh, there was a frown in his voice, all right, the one that could rival strait laced Master Nu's for sheer eloquence of disapproval. "No. To resemble my father's Corellian Navy duty knife." He held up the data pad so Master Onfroi could see the complete design, from the leather wrapping and the Naval insignia to his father's initials roughly etched into the bottom of the saber. Master Onfroi sucked in a sharp breath. His expression faded from disapproval to dismay and into pity. "The Council..." "Can go kriff themselves." Domnic pushed his chair out with a sudden scrape and strode restlessly across his narrow chamber, feeling that if he didn't move, he was going to hit something. He'd expected Master Onfroi, who always seemed to have a double helping of the traditional Corellian disdain for authority, to understand, to say something besides "The Council knows best." "I'm an adult who should be able to make my own decisions. The Council should trust me to make the right ones," he continued as he paced. "But because I'm not a Jedi yet, they see fit to tell me what I can and can't do. Even if I was a Jedi, they'd still want to tell me what to do." His pacing brought him back to his desk-- not hard since his room was barely four strides long--and he picked up his mother's message and held up the holo-disc. "My mother had to petition them to even get word through to me...a month after my father died. She's alone now; Dad was the only family she had left. It probably doesn't matter to the Force whether I become a Jedi this season or next, but a few days could mean everything to her. I can't even talk to her because the Council in their infinite wisdom has decided that comforting her like a decent human being means I'm 'too attached'." He laughed bitterly. "They say that the Force is everywhere, in every living being, but when it comes right down to it, the Coucil sure acts like they think we're more important than all those common beings out there." Domnic looked his master in the eye, and realized, that he had grown taller than Onfroi sometime in the past few years. "You've always taught me that there's a galaxy full of ordinary beings out there, and that the Jedi serve them as much or more than we serve the Council." He gestured towards his desk, at both his data pad and his father's blade. "This is my way of remembering that. My way of not forgetting him." Onfroi opened his mouth, shut it and shook his head. He left without saying anything. Dominic wasn't sure whether his silence constituted agreement, refusal to argue, or recognition that this was something his padawan had to work through on his own, but he was glad of it. He spent the next several days in the meditation chambers re-tuning his lightsaber's crystals and in the Temple's workshop, cutting strips of nauga leather to wrap the new hilt, fashioned as much like that of his father's duty knife as he could make a lightsaber. When at last it was finished and Dominic ignited his new saber for the first time, the jade green of the blade seemed to shine brighter than his old one had. He shut down the blade and bowed his head, touching the hilt to his forehead. Jedi tradition taught that life never truly ended, it simply became part of the Force from which it originated. If so, then his father, or some part of him, was here now, with him. He thought of his mother's message, that his father had always been proud of him. Domnic didn't know that he'd ever done anything to be proud of in his time as a mediocre, trouble making initiate or stubborn, still trouble making padawan. "But I will," he whispered. ''I'll become a Jedi you can be proud of, Dad. I promise." More notes: the appearance of the Corellian Navy duty knife is based on the Ka-Bar. I apologize if I've gotten any details wrong; my dad, a former Marine, still has his, but I was not allowed to handle it. Doran/Domnic's mother is based on Lauren Bacall, wife of the late, great Humphrey Bogart. Like Bacall, his mother is significantly younger than her husband.