Timeline: JA, after Xanatos
Disclaimer:If I was making any money off of this, I would be off spending it, not posting more stories! ;) Lucas owns the rights to all these characters, yes, yes, we know.
Okay. That's all the author-note stuff I can think up at the moment. Hope you like my little ficcie!
Lightsaber Forms of Early Jedi and their Practical Application Today.
Group 8-12; Master Dooku.
When Qui-Gon first saw the name on the class roster, he had to pause for a second glance. The Jedi Knight lingered in the hallway outside the room, staring in mingled disbelief and amusement.
He had been searching for a private room to spar in and had stumbled upon these classrooms by accident. The sprawling saber halls of the Temple were a maze of various rooms and gyms, each with different purposes to serve. At the far end were the larger gyms, for competitions and displays. On the opposite side were the obstacle and rope courses, tools to teach the more practical approaches to confrontations a Jedi may find himself in. Anywhere in between these ends dotted different smaller rooms, usually used as classrooms to teach Padawans and younglings lightsaber techniques and acrobatics.
Qui-Gon considered the post again. There was no way this could be a mistake, or a misprint. Hesitantly, he peered into the open archway of the room, not wanting to interrupt a class, but needing to know...
"Alright, split into pairs and we'll try–blast it, Vos! Do not use your lightsaber in that manner, I will not tolerate...no, no, the rest of you, stay in your assigned groups!" The voice that carried to him from inside the room was rather deep, refined and perhaps gentlemanly, but with a definite edge of exasperation. Qui-Gon found himself smiling as he realized that he knew the voice, in fact, knew the very tone in which the voice was lecturing. He himself had been lectured before by that voice. Master Dooku's voice.
Through the doorway he could now see him clearly, swishing about the classroom amid hapless saber-waving younglings, correcting and encouraging and berating in the same breath. The class seemed to be a mixed age group, indicating perhaps that this was an interest-based class rather than one teaching a required curriculum, and indeed, there didn't seem to be a great deal of structure to it. The students themselves were likewise a motley lot, with everyone amusing themself in their own way, few actually listening to the lesson.
The dark haired boy Dooku had reprimanded was now swinging his lightsaber around his head in dizzying patterns, while his partner, a brown headed younger boy, tried to avoid decapitation. A few of the students had begun to either practice form, or play-fight, Qui-Gon could not tell which. In the corner, a little Mon Calamarian girl was crying. In all, there were about ten of them trying their best to complete hopelessly complex moves on one another, whilst Dooku flitted around, grand overseer of the chaos.
Master Dooku the initiate lightsaber instructor. Now Qui-Gon had seen it all.
"Eerin, for the sake of the force, if this class is too much for you, please leave." The little girl in the corner only cried harder at his tone. Dooku sighed distractedly, turning away with somewhat of a defeated air. He seemed to be muttering to himself. " Honestly, if the Council thinks that this group is going to ever learn anything like this, they're..."
But what the Council were, Qui-Gon would never find out, for then Dooku abruptly whirled and stalked off to check on two girls locked in combat on the other side of the room.
Qui-Gon smiled to himself. He had come down to the saber halls to relax and work off some stress, but he hadn't ever counted on the veritable goldmine of amusement he would find here. Dooku had never done particularly well with children, and ten of them was clearly too many for him. He crept a bit further into the room; the overwhelmed Master hadn't sensed him yet. Dooku's back was turned as he consulted an older Togruta girl on her lightsaber technique.
"Padawan Ti, move away from your partner, you can't very well swing from that close...and you're holding your saber too tightly...here, let me see, what grip are you using?"
Qui-Gon was almost upon Dooku now. He couldn't believe that his former Master was letting him sneak up on him like this, usually Dooku would have already sensed him. Some of the students were beginning to pause in their spars to watch. He drew closer still. Now he was just a few feet away from where Dooku was still showing off the proper handgrip with tightly forced patience.
"No, move your hands up a little further, it will give you better control for the more precise moves. Not like that, bit further—oh blast it, Quinlan Vos, I thought I told you to stop that! And Eerin, for the last time, stop crying!"
Slowly, Qui-Gon stretched out a hand and tugged insistently on the back of Dooku's robe. "Ah, Master Dooku?"
Dooku spun around wildly, his eyes narrowed, his voice thunderous. "What is it now!" The Master suddenly froze, mid-explosion. He had recognized him.
Qui-Gon couldn't help it. The shocked surprise suspended on Dooku's weary face was too much. He ginned broadly for a moment, and then started to laugh. "Hello!"
"Oh...it's been a long time," Dooku murmured faintly. For a second, Qui-Gon couldn't tell if he were about to hug him, laugh, or collapse. He felt Dooku reach out for him, not physically as an old friend might, but mentally, through the force, brushing around him in a friendly, familiar way. Dooku's energetic force-touch was the same as it had always been when he was a Padawan; bright, deep, and stirring, a feeling like white-silver moonlight on a clear night. Qui-Gon reached out himself, meeting his mind halfway, and their Master/Padawan bond pulsed with renewed strength.
"It has," Qui-Gon agreed, still smiling. On impulse, he reached up and hugged Dooku around the neck. He felt Dooku stiffen a little, but his old Master didn't pull away either. "I've really missed you, Master."
"So, what brings you to the Temple?" Dooku asked briskly, breaking the embrace after an awkward moment of silence. "I expected you to be still dragging that boy of yours from one end of the galaxy to the other in the interest of learning. Or...has he been already knighted?"
Qui-Gon's smile faded away, as it had a tendency of doing, of late. His pleasure at seeing Dooku again had driven Xanatos from his mind for a whole...ten moments, perhaps. He stalled, glancing around the room questioningly. "I could ask you the same question. I haven't seen you hanging about the Temple in years. What are you doing here?"
"Well," Dooku smirked, obviously noticing Qui-Gon's hedge but saying nothing. "for lack of a better term, you could say that I'm teaching. Apparently," his lips gave a wry twist. "I am one of the last form
II patrons of the Order."
"Ah, so you suddenly feel the urge to impart your vast knowledge on our younger generations?" Qui-Gon watched the brown-haired boy throw himself out of the way of his wildly spinning partner's blade just in time to miss losing half a head.
"Well, after your disappointing pursuit of form IV, there was hardly any other way to advocate for my form's survival in the Order of today." Dooku mumbled, begrudgingly. "But no, there's more to it than that. My new, ah, teaching position is a long story...yes, very, very long story, I'll spare you the tedious details."
Qui-Gon laughed softly. It wasn't really that long of a story, if the rumors he had heard about Dooku getting on the Council's bad side again were true. It appeared that Dooku had upset the Council so thoroughly they had gone as far as to ground him to the Temple. It wasn't as if it would be the first time. Idly, he wondered what his Master had done in this instance. "I'm sure it's an entertaining tale, you'll have to tell me sometime."
Dooku nodded, looking sheepish, or at least as far as he ever got to the emotion of sheepishness. "Will you be staying here long?"
"For a little while, at least." Qui-Gon said slowly, not exactly sure himself. He had to tell his Master about Xanatos sometime, and judging from the uncertain, almost guilty look in Dooku's eyes he could tell he probably had already heard troubling rumors about an incident on Telos. "I have a lot to tell you."
Dooku opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted by a sudden squeal of pain from the direction of the students.
With the air of a tattletale, the Togruta girl was instantly at Dooku's side, her dark eyes full of concern, pointing behind her wildly. "Master Dooku! Master Dooku, Quinlan Vos hit Obi-Wan Kenobi with his lightsaber!"
"Oh-" Dooku gasped, whirling back on his class as if he had just remembered that they were there. Quinlan Vos was staring mortified at his sparring partner, the little brown-haired boy, who was sprawled on the ground shuddering with suppressed tears and clutching at his leg. Swallowing quickly, Dooku nodded to the girl. "oh...ah, thank you, Shaak Ti. Thank you very much." The little Mon Calamarian in the corner joined in all the louder with Obi-Wan's quiet crying, and suddenly the room was full of wailing. Dooku looked frankly bewildered.
Qui-Gon strode forward and knelt besides the boy, stretching out a hand to comfort him. Dooku hurried up behind him, turning to Quinlan. "Did...you...what happened?"
The older boy looked at the ground, horrified. "I...I just hit him in the legs...I didn't mean to hurt him, I thought he would..."
"Wait..." Dooku looked strangely thoughtful as he regarded Quinlan. "You cut out at his legs? Really!" He stroked his chin thoughtfully. "You know, I think you're actually starting to get the hang of form II."
"Dooku..." Qui-Gon murmured as he studied Obi-Wan's burnt leg carefully. The children's sabers had been turned down to a very low setting for sparring, but the burn was still deep and painful. The boy was still trying bravely not to cry outright. "he needs to go to the Healers."
"Oh," Dooku nodded, turning back to the injured boy uncertainly. "of course, of course." He glanced around a moment, before finally settling his gaze on Shaak Ti. "Ah, Padawan Ti, would you escort Kenobi to the Healer's Wing?"
The girl nodded quickly, her banded head-tails waving slightly as she stooped to help Obi-Wan up. They limped out the door, the boy still whimpering softly. The remainder of the class watched nervously, having paused in their sparring at the commotion.
Dooku regarded them all somewhat awkwardly. He cleared his throat for attention, although judging from the anxious silence, he hardly needed to have. "Alright...the rest of you are dismissed. Class is over for today." He motioned his hand toward the door, as if to wave them away.
Qui-Gon smiled as he watched the students head for the door, clumping together in little groups and chatting with quiet excitement. He supposed the initiates had never been treated to a class as eventful as this before. Maybe, he could imagine them thinking, there really was something to this form II after all.
Dooku's eyes were on the door as well, following them out. He chewed his lip slightly in thought. "Perhaps I ought to have supervised more thoroughly."
"Perhaps," Qui-Gon answered, with a determinedly neutral air.