Author's Note: Howdy, howdy, howdy. This is my beloved brainchild----I mean, an experimental fic, written in the style of Wolff Tobias' "Bullet in the Brain." It's a bit out of my usual writing style, but I really like how it turned out, and yes, I even managed to cram a baby Dook in there for fun. Impressive in an Ep 3 fic, no? grin

Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber cuts through his hands and Count Dooku realizes that he is going to be a murder victim, at the end of everything. There is no mercy in the man-child's eyes. Skywalker has his lightsaber now, and Dooku would think his hands soiling it, if he hadn't already polluted it himself years ago with Syfo-Dias' blood. It is beautifully ironic, but he can't figure out precisely why, and he doesn't have time to think about it.

Sidious says something, and the Chosen One replies, and Dooku certainly knows that he's going to die, the hope is used up and now all he had left is himself. It isn't enough.

So, words spoken to little Qui-Gon, four or five decades earlier, "Breathe, the pain will ease in a moment." But now breathe, Count Dooku; like Qui-Gon, his moments are at their end. He wonders if he will see the dead boy, and he thinks that he won't, because Qui-Gon probably wouldn't like him anymore after everything.

Close your eyes, count to ten; that will make it easier.

Think of something else. Serenno, and the dark red roses. His hands full of sand and clattering sea shells, pale pink.

It will be over in just a minute.

It's all so very fitting.

Conflict now, in the land of pre-death. The words around him form patterns of meaning: Sidious thinks killing him is a good idea, Skywalker isn't so sure. Dooku already knows the answer to this one.

I know it, Master Yoda.

Snip.

And his moments are gone.

Time flickers, like a match blown out by a child, all of its power stolen away by a whim. It becomes a substance of no meaning for him, because he has moved beyond it. Because now he has all the time in the galaxy, and at the same, only an instant. But nothing has to make sense any more. Because he is dead.

It is said that a human can see for a single moment, after losing one's head. But it isn't what he sees. It isn't what he remembers.

It's what he doesn't.

He doesn't remember when he lived his life without costs. He doesn't remember the ragged, breathless beauty of it. He doesn't remember when he had let people touch him.

He doesn't remember childhood. He doesn't remember the boy with the pine green eyes that he called his best, best friend forever. He doesn't remember their adventures, their competitions, their moments. He doesn't remember landing on his feet. He doesn't remember why the eventual betrayal hurt back then; not for his damaged pride, but because he had loved him.

He doesn't remember picking his design out of a history book, rather than a lightsaber manual, and the intense happiness the first time he had held his saber: his curvy, beautiful lightsaber that was different from everyone else's. He doesn't remember how it sounded.

He doesn't remember his first mission, he doesn't remember the excitement, the nerves, the joy.

He doesn't remember throwing up in the back of the cruiser, because he had to kill the young space pirate, because there was no other way. He doesn't remember ever thinking that a single life had its own value.

He doesn't remember his first lover, and what he had loved about her, her wild aggression, her brightness, how good she had felt against him. He doesn't remember when her passion turned against him into colorful, vicious battles. He doesn't remember caring.

He doesn't remember his Padawans; the one he had loved, and the one who had loved him. He doesn't remember when Qui-Gon's integrity made him proud, rather than sickened, when Komari's passion was a beautiful thing, not a fault.

He doesn't remember the way Syfo-Dias had listened. He doesn't remember ever having a confidant, when everything else in the galaxy seemed turned against him. He doesn't remember choosing to forget.

He doesn't remember what made him so angry in the first place.

The lightsabers cut through his neck and out the other side, blazing a bright trail of memory, hope, potential, brilliance, failure, dark and light. His life goes with them. His spent body slumps to the ground with an eternal sigh.

This is what he remembers.

It is warm and he is hot in his stiff white tunic. He is in a garden, and sun is bright and huge through the wide sky-roof. The fountains are bubbling high, and they sound like laughter, and the place smells like dirt and flowers. He is trying so hard not to cry.

He is on his knees because he has fallen on the garden stones, and it's a problem, because he is only five and even Jedi children cry when they skin their knees at five. But he won't, he never cries, even if the jolt of falling did startle him, and his knee is bleeding. He cups the injury in his hand, watching the red, red blood seep through the white fabric and squeezes his throat against the tears.

The Jedi Master he almost bowled over when he tripped is laughing like the fountains, and he is laughing in the force too; all bright and good and light. "Don't worry, little one," he is saying, pulling him up with a firm hand. "You didn't fall very far."

Meep. I hope it reads okay. I can't tell, I've been staring at it for far too long, it's just words to me now.