Title: They Are
Author: Charmisjess
Timeframe: Pre-JA
Rating: PG
Author's Note: I thought it would be fun to try to write an in-motion word picture of Qui-Gon and Dooku, in all of their confessional glory. Kind of a fanfictional experiment. Present tense, all-knowing perspective. The Force's POV, you might say, or history's. Weird, but I hope you enjoy it. I had a good time with this one. I hope it makes some sense. : )

This is an image of Qui-Gon Jinn and his Master Dooku. They are running through a hallway thick with blaster bolts, green and gold blades waving off the deadly laser storm.

They are saving the galaxy.

That is, if you asked Qui-Gon.

If you were to, perchance, ask Dooku, he would roll his eyes and tell you that Qui-Gon is just over-excited by the mission, and would do well to meditate on their objective.

He would say all of this calmly and sternly, as if inside he isn't a bright ball of static excitement in his own right. The lightsaber bits are by far his favorite part of being a Jedi, although he might even admit to liking research too, under certain circumstances.

(…Perhaps, only to a particular lady archivist he, on rare occasion, likes to impress.)

Dooku has long dark hair, usually swept up into a ponytail. If he's feeling particularly elegant, he'll draw it up halfway, leaving the bottom bit loose. His Padawan always thought it looked nicer that way, but he certainly wouldn't say so to the Master.

As it happens, today Dooku is not feeling elegant. His hair is tied out of his way. Today he is saving the galaxy.

He imagines that he looks absolutely ridiculous when he smiles, so he doesn't very often. The Master has dark eyes: deep brown like kaf with just a touch of honey stirred in. They are very distinctive eyes, and he doesn't know, but he got them from his father, the last Count of Serenno. He doesn't know because he has no memory of his father. He only remembers a breeze of his mother. However, what he does remember of his noble parents, and vividly, is that they both gave him up to be a Jedi instead of a Count. And that at the time, at the age of three, he didn't understand why and had cried into Yoda's tunic the entire trip back.

So maybe not a great tragedy: the fact that he can't remember their faces.

In this moment, he is only Dooku, having left everything else behind on Serenno.

The youth: Qui-Gon, pauses at the end of the hallway, chest heaving, his lightsaber pulsing in hand. His Padawan braid is dancing over his shoulder, shadowing his motion. He isn't sure which way to go, and his eyes find Dooku's.

Dooku is his compass point.

A slight head tilt from the Master, and they are on their way again. The space pirates definitely picked the wrong transport ship to attack; this is going to be great fun. The best of games for Dooku, a good learning experience for Qui-Gon.

Qui-Gon is sixteen, meaning he has known Dooku for almost six years. The boy's braid just laps his collarbone by now, but it's about as far as the official Jedi Padawan look gets for him. His crop of light brown hair falls around everywhere, long enough to get in his eyes, but too short to ponytail. The hair is a source of endless woe for his neatly groomed Master.

"But you look like a street urchin!" Dooku often despairs.

For which Qui-Gon has memorized any number of standard Jedi platitude responses about the exterior of a person being less important. But he does try to keep clean, at least, because Dooku is somewhat of an obsessive-compulsive regarding personal hygiene, and more than willing to take desperate measures.

He thinks the galaxy of Dooku. There is something of little boy hero worship leftover, even still, even as they take the steps toward becoming colleagues, rather than Master and Padawan. And among his peers, in a rare contrary moment, Qui-Gon takes odd, secret comfort in thinking that his Master could beat any of theirs in a duel.

Qui-Gon adores most everything about life. He opens his arms to embrace every lost soul, stray pet, idea, life, or blade that finds him.

Sometimes that aspect of him is downright frightening to Dooku.

But whether he understands him or not, he will never lose his quiet fondness for the child, not now, or ever.

They wouldn't have ever met, if the Jedi hadn't brought them together. Qui-Gon is what Dooku's biological family might refer to as 'of low birth.' Dooku realized this at some point, when the Master/Padawan team went to the boy's homeplanet years back; a hopeless trip to help save an economic disaster zone. During his time there, Qui-Gon never even asked Dooku once about attempting to contact his parents. He did, however, collect a rock.

Dooku isn't sure what that means, but he thinks it's very Qui-Gon-like to carry around a bloody rock.

They have reached the focus of the violence, and the fighting is held back a moment, as space pirate and Jedi regard each other. Dooku steps forward, all calm strength and no-nonsense. He usually does the talking,

"I am Jedi Master Dooku, and this is my apprentice, Qui-Gon Jinn." A pause, eloquent as always. "Perhaps you've heard of us." A pause, and an indulgent look to Qui-Gon. "We shall be accepting any and all surrenders at this time." There are a few confused grunts from the rowdy band, and Dooku raises one eyebrow, his voice managing to sound rather pleasant and deadly together. "Anyone?"

A younger, scruffier pirate discharges his weapon, sending a thin red bolt sizzling at Dooku's feet. The Jedi Master skips a step back, lightsaber twirling out again. "No? As pleases you, then." He half-turns. Qui-Gon?"

The boy is already airborne, twisting through the air at the pirates. Dooku charges forward with him, and pirate and Jedi meet in a spectacular clash.

Together they are passion; they are color; they are brilliance.

Dooku's Makashi compliments Qui-Gon's wild Ataru in all the right places. Dooku is like a tornado, and the boy is his storm cloud. What Qui-Gon leaves open, Dooku is covering, and when Dooku stays low, Qui-Gon flies up. They are both cat and bird, predator and prey together, chasing each other, the air, and perhaps even the enemy, if they should get around to it.

Dooku flinches to avoid a bolt of plasma, and Qui-Gon is there, flipping over his head. He lands on the shoulders of the pirate, collapsing the struggling man like a fold-up pit droid. He bounds up nimbly from the wreckage of armor and pirate, flashing a pleased grin expectantly at Dooku. This is a new move.

Dooku is laughing.

Qui-Gon's own smile broadens. He likes to make his Master laugh, and he's one of the only people who can do it.

They charge forward, clearing the hall.

The pirates are now on the run. All of their little defensive droids are scrapped, and they've lost nearly half their forces. None of them want to stick around and play in the Jedi's light show. They are retreating back the way they came, and Qui-Gon and Dooku give chase.

They reach the place where the pirate ship had unloaded, and the pirates and their droids are making one last, desperate stand.

But things are different here. The sweet smell of fresh death poisons the force. Innocent blood always feels different. There are bodies here, in the main hanger, and Qui-Gon abruptly stops. His boy-face goes pale; his empathy is bleeding all over the place again.

Dooku shoots him a look, because they've talked about this, because he can't stop in the middle of a battle and mourn the violence.

Because that's the way one gets hit by a blaster bolt.

It happened once, and Dooku remembers well, because it was the worst day of his life.

There is a heartbeat of discord; only one. Then Qui-Gon sinks his emerald blade into the chest of a droid, and kicks it into scrap metal. But it isn't fun anymore.

It isn't a game.

Dooku can feel the change. His style switches from the playful dance to all mechanical efficiency. Together, they clean the hanger.

Before long, it is only them left. They are good. The smell of ozone lingers; the distinctive scent of lightsaber heat kissing their nostrils with each breath. They are both winded, and for a moment they merely stand there, panting.

Dooku is the first to move. He snaps off his blade and whirls on his apprentice. His face is a storm, and in the force, he towers. He looks like he might lecture, might yell or rant, but for only a moment.

He is merely worried. Qui-Gon doesn't have to grow up today. And on the inside, Dooku is still a child in his own right, a baby star, brilliantly hot and naive. Maybe someday he will lash out out of exasperation, or worry, over one of Qui-Gon's empathic stunts. But not now. He doesn't have a lecture for him, not today.

After he realizes that Qui-Gon is all right, that nothing came of the near-fatal pause, the tightness thaws. The boy looks shaken, so he drops an awkward hand on his Padawan's shoulder and keeps it there briefly. He is never very physical. But his eyes are all affection; warm amber brown. "You did well, child."

Qui-Gon's young features are soft and thankful. He always believes his Master.

It is a mercy that he'll never know any reason not to.

They walk off together, and everything between them is smooth and good. They are just a boy and his Master now, each proud, and warm, and fond of the other. They don't have any reason not to believe that it's going to be like this forever.

Because, for now, for them, everything else is unwritten.