Author's note: I really need a break from the morbid-ness of everything right now, so here's a little, happy wanna-be-cute fic. Reviews are desperately yearned for…. as always. ;)

"I'm dying...aren't I?" The gray-blue eyes were miserable as they sought out reassurance. A soft word, a bit of sympathy, perhaps, would have done, but the boy met nothing save for a hard stare. He looked down, pathetically, sniffling.

Still nothing but the stare. So, finally, working up a look of fragile indigence, Qui-Gon took the proffered tissue and blew his nose. "Id ok-a, 'aster." he said through the tissue. " 'Ou can tell me. I'm on'd my way oud. I doe." He sniffed again, and cleared his throat.

"You are most certainly not *dying,* Padawan." Yan Dooku sighed, more than a trace of irritation in his tone. "And please, cease with the theatrics." In Yan's opinion, Qui-Gon was being more than unreasonable. Certainly, a bit of flu was enough to make his padawan uncomfortable, but he had endured almost four days of the boy's incessant whining. He had no sympathy left in him.

"Oh, bod I am!" Qui-Gon insisted; congestion making his words quite garbled. "'Aster, id hurts! My head id killing me!" He moaned piteously and hugged a pillow.

"The healers said you're recovering. It's merely a cold. Drink your muja juice." Yan massaged his temples as he spoke. Thanks to Qui-Gon, *his* head was now killing him as well.

"I don't wand any, danks. I wand do get bedder. My dose is dtuffed dup and I can't deven dalk right." he whimpered, his voice still nasally.

"Well, for not being about to talk 'right', you are certainly doing a lot of it." The Master was now seriously regretting his choice to sit with the boy in his quarters.

"Id hurts..."

"Qui-Gon, you are a Jedi, and fourteen years of age. *Try* to act it. Jedi do not whine." he scolded impatiently. "As I have told you over and over again. You're being childish."

The boys eyes pricked and he adopted a look of sharp pain as the barb in his master's words caught. The expression only lasted a few moments, but his feelings were still smarting. He turned on his side, facing the wall sulkily.

Yan sighed, rather heavily, and leaned forward, resting a hand on Qui-Gon's shoulder. He hadn't meant to be harsh. The boy did not turn back, though Dooku had not expected him to. His padawan was brooding, and he knew anything he said would fall on deaf ears until Qui-Gon had sulked himself out. So he said nothing, staring at the boys shoulders. They were well muscled for someone his age and Yan could tell he would be tall when he reached his full height.

Closing his eyes, the Jedi Master pictured Qui-Gon as an adult. He knew those shoulders would bear many scars, many burdens in the years to come. Yan didn't like to think about it. The visions he had were...disturbing.

"I've changed my mind, Qui-Gon," the Master whispered, almost sadly. "Please be childish. Don't grow up too quickly."

Qui-Gon rolled over, finally meeting Dooku's ebony eyes. He looked at first like he didn't understand, but after a moment; there was quiet knowledge in his gaze. As if, somehow, even at fourteen, he knew what would happen in his lifetime. Knew what Dooku saw in his nightmares. He nodded wordlessly.

Dooku gave him a smile, and squeezed his shoulder gently. "And don't change too much." He saw him nod briefly. Reflective silence stretched between them.

"'Aster?" Qui-Gon whispered, rubbing a hand across his nose.

"Yes, my young friend?"

"My head dill hurts."

Dooku laughed out loud, a rare sound that surprised them both. "You are the limit, Qui-Gon Jinn. The absolute limit."

Qui-Gon looked slightly confused as to exactly why he was laughing, but shrugged anyway. "I doe. People dell me dat alod." He blew his nose again.

Yan shook his head, still chuckling. "I can see why they would." He lay a hand across his padawan's forehead. "Why don't you get some sleep?"

"'Kay..." Qui-Gon whispered, his eyes drifting shut, as his master's force-suggestion broke over his senses. He felt oddly like he was slipping into warm water, his mind going utterly blank. In less than a moment, the boy was unconscious.

Dooku smiled warmly. "Goodnight Padawan." He rose quietly, covering the sleeping apprentice with an extra blanket, tucking the edges around Qui-Gon's shoulders. He padded softly across the room and powered down the lights. The Master closed the door behind him, with one last glance at the lump under the blankets.

"Sweet dreams."