I think I might be insane for attempting Pre-JA mush, but I'm gonna keep trying. We all know Dooku is cuddly, down deep. Lucas owns the rights, andI hope you enjoy!
Across the room, Qui-Gon froze awkwardly in mid step, balancing a tray in one hand and some juice in the other. The words coming from the shivering heap of blankets caught him by surprise; he had thought Dooku to be quite unconscious. On the sleep-couch, the lumpy shape of his Master moved, and for a moment, he was tempted to flee. Dooku was at his most terrifying when he was incapacitated like this.
Motionlessly suspended on one foot, the boy pondered his situation. He had only dared to invade Dooku's sanctuary of a room as a last resort, a final breakdown in his care-at-a-distance plan. Dooku was an impossible patient, despite Qui-Gon's best efforts. Ever since he had starting showing symptoms of the contagious flu almost a week ago it had been impossibly difficult. Qui-Gon had never even seen Dooku ill before. In the quiet, leftover little boy parts of his mind, it frightened him. Dooku shouldn't be sick, he was a Jedi Master–his Jedi Master and therefore infallible. Jedi Masters did not get sick. But here it was. And Dooku was undoubtably sick, very sick, and long ranged treatment was no longer an option.
The problem seemed to lie somewhere in Dooku's blatant refusal to acknowledge weakness of any sort. Rest didn't suit him very well, nor did being taken care of. He would rather smolder and suffer in silence than be looked after if he was ill or injured. In fact, Qui-Gon probably wouldn't have noticed anything the matter with his Master at first, except that he had beaten Dooku in a lightsaber duel. That never happened.
What was more, Dooku had taken the loss without comment.
He had to be really feeling awful.
"Master..." he murmured tentatively, taking a hesitant step further into the room. Trespassing. "I...I've brought you some juice and some painkillers...don't you want them?"
There came no reply from the huddled form.
He advanced another few inches forward, gaining slow confidence. "I talked to Healer Willow on the comm just a bit ago. She said you should have fluid and vitamins and the juice has both...so..." He reached the side of the bed and trailed off. "...ah, Master?"
The sight might have been comical if it weren't so pitiful. Dooku had curled himself up into as tight a ball as possible, the blankets forming a little nest around his shivering form. The only part of him remaining visible was his pale face, which shone out from the darkened room like some ominous moon. His dark hair was disheveled, down loose in his face, curling limply at the ends. In fact, at first glance it would be difficult to distinguish Dooku as alive, if not for the murderous, distinctively unkillable glint reflecting in his bloodshot eyes. The blanketed Master stirred fitfully, then spoke in a low, somewhat petulant tone. " I don't...want...any...blasted...juice." He struggled to sit up, and meet his Padawan's gaze evenly. "I do not require assistance." Dooku collapsed backward.
Qui-Gon set the juice and tray off to the side, and sat down on the edge of the sleep couch warily. "There isn't any shame in admitting you feel terrible. I can look after you, despite what you may think, I am capable." He sighed, smoothing down the coverlet gently. "It's that bad virus that's been going around the Temple. You've got it, that's all."
"That's your opinion." Dooku whispered malevolently. Apparently his argumentative side had yet to be conquered by the fever. "Please. Leave."
"No, it's also Healer Willow's, and her opinion is backed by medical training, which makes it somewhat more significant." Qui-Gon replied, patiently. "I'm not going until you have some juice."
"Leave that infernal woman out of this." Dooku hissed, retreating further back into his blankets. His stare seem to glaze, as his tone of grouchy irritation turned to one of deep suspicion. "Lady Willow has had it out for me ever since I told her I'd prefer a med droid as my physician over her. And who would contest that? She's mad. For the stars, she even calls herself a bloody Mind Healer. What is a Mind Healer, does anyone even know?"
Qui-Gon suppressed another sigh. And now they had reached the rambling paranoia stage of the fever. Charming.
"-always nosing her way into other people's business, giving random, uncalled for advice, and then, with the nerve to tell me that I'm sick. Oh, yes do you know what she told me last time I went in for an inoculation!" He shivered indignantly. "She told me that I had 'resentment stemming from deep-seated abandonment issues!' Abandonment issues! The bloody, arrogant nerve!"
Qui-Gon nodded absently, taking advantage of Dooku's raving preoccupation to crumble a mild sleep aide into the juice. In a desperate situation, alternative solutions could be rationalized. Besides, he wasn't counting on his ability to put his Master out with only the force. "The nerve," he repeated, as it seemed an appropriate thing to say at the time.
"I know." He gave another convulsive shudder. "I don't even like other people." He glanced up at Qui-Gon, as if just remembering he was there. "Oh, well, you're all right, I suppose. I was just speaking generally. But really, why should I care if someone abandons me? Absolutely..." he yawned mid-sentence. "...ridiculous."
Qui-Gon leaned over, feeling his Master's forehead with the back of his hand. "Mmhm." Dooku's fever was definitely on the increase. "It seems like your fever's going up."
The Master gave a jittery flinch. "Don't touch me!"
"You should drink your juice, Master." He held out the cup carefully, with his best beseeching look. How had it come to this? Qui-Gon Jinn. Mother fowl to Dooku, of all people.
Qui-Gon's luck was good; Dooku did manage to swallow almost half a sip, and then flopped over again, motionless, watching him. "Padawan. I truly don't feel well at all."
"I know, I'm sorry." Qui-Gon half-smiled. He felt bad, really, but seeing his usually stoic teacher comically disheveled, as rambling and whining as any sick child was amusing. He felt an odd affection for Dooku, seeing him like this. It reminded him that even Dooku was human. On some level.
"What do you mean 'you know?'" And back again to paranoia.
"I mean, through our bond. Your shielding is somewhat...down with the fever. I'm stuck in your thoughts." Qui-Gon shrugged. It had never happened like that before. All of Dooku's mental chatter at once was a little bit overwhelming. Not to mention slightly disturbing.
"Oh." Dooku placed a hand on his head, as if to stem the bond's overflow. He blinked, seemingly confused. "I'm... sorry. I...would stop it if I could."
Qui-Gon patted his shoulder through the cover. "Don't worry about it now."
"I said, don't touch me."
There was a little silence. Qui-Gon convinced Dooku to drink a few mouthfuls of juice. The Master accepted the cup, and sipped it without complaint. Somehow, in his mind, getting his Master to take some fluids and a sleep aide would equal success of the highest calabur for Qui-Gon. After all the grumping, fevered rambling, and mental turbulence from his suffering mentor, a hydrated, thoroughly unconscious Dooku sounded absolutely perfect. He glanced down as the older Jedi, who was scowling at his juice, either lost in thought, or zoned out on the sleep drug. A few moments more of silence, and the boy was almost starting to think that Dooku would go to sleep...
But, finally, "Qui-Gon?"
"Do you think I have resentment stemming from deep-seated abandonment issues?" His fever-glazed eyes were earnest.
Qui-Gon smiled, reluctantly. "Maybe...slightly."
Normal Dooku might have exploded with wrath, demanding explanations and giving a thousand different reasons and instances why he was contrary to that view. But as it was, he merely nodded slowly. "Slightly." He repeated, with a sigh. "Honestly." Then he seemed to withdraw inside himself, as if some bare nerve had been touched. His eyes narrowed, and he grabbed his juice, turning away from the boy. He faced the wall in silence. "What do you know about it, anyway?"
"I don't know." Qui-Gon echoed his Master's sigh with an uncannily similar one of his own.
"No. You don't." Dooku's tone was clipped.
Qui-Gon narrowed his eyes, somewhat hurt. This sickness was really bringing out Dooku's misanthropic, distrustful side spectacularly. "Fine. You want me to go?"
Dooku remained motionless.
"All right. I'll leave." He stiffened slightly. "But I was only trying to help you." As he stared at Dooku's back, he felt irritation flare up. "You know, Master Willow's right about you." Again, no reply. The silence bothered Qui-Gon. More words tumbled out, before he could stop them. "It's like the rest of the beings in the universe have done something personally against you. Other beings are important, Master, even for a Jedi. Even for you."
"It's not really the best attitude. Jedi like Willow care about you, they truly do, but you always push them away. As if they're going to hurt you. The lack of trust. It isn't about other people, is it?" Now that he had gotten going, he found it almost impossible to stop. The words seemed to have been bottled inside him for ages, and now the seal had burst, spewing the contents out without check. The quiet defiance that had risen whenever Dooku had advised him against his trusting nature, his following the Living Force's sidetracks, the empathy...it all came pouring out in a rush. "It's about you! You're afraid to get close. You're afraid...you're afraid that they'll leave you!"
The words shocked Qui-Gon as soon as he had said them. He knew he had gone to far now, perhaps even if it was truth. He was out of line. "Master...I..." But Dooku didn't even turn to look at him. "I'm sorry, I...didn't mean to become carried away."
But he gave no reply.
"Are you going to even speak to me?"
"Master...I just..." He sighed, sitting hesitantly on the edge of Dooku's bed. "I promise you, you can..." He leaned over to meet his Master's eyes...
Dooku was asleep.
In his frustration, he hadn't even noticed the mental chaos from Dooku's end fade into the contented stillness of sleep. Either the drug or exhaustion had done its work rather thoroughly. He was curled up, the cup of juice resting precariously against his stomach. His eyes were closed, and his face looked almost peaceful against the white of his pillow.
"...trust me." Qui-Gon finished quietly. He had only seen Dooku actually asleep once or twice in the years they had been together. His Master was one of those few Jedi who seemed to never voluntarily still. Usually he was the one unconscious, and Dooku was the silent watcher. The reversal of roles was odd. Carefully, the boy leaned over, easing the cup out of Dooku's grip. It slipped out of his slackened fingers easily. Qui-Gon smiled.
Dooku was decidedly pleasant when he was sleeping. The crackling energy that usually snapped around him was replaced by the strangest sense of almost... calm. Dooku was often silent, or introspective, but very rarely seemed actually at peace. Perhaps it was just a drug-induced avatar of tranquility, but it made Qui-Gon glad all the same.
He took up his tray again, and crept from the room, being very careful to shut the door behind him.