Notes: I've wanted to write something with Dooku and Obi-Wan interacting a lot for some time now, as though they got little canon interaction, they seemed to have a facinating dynamic. This story will be a departure from the norm for me, as I tend to shy away from epics, add a signifigant amount of humor into a fic, and have basic, straightforward storylines, so it should be fun to do something different. Dooku is a character I have little experience writing for and I haven't read Dark Rendezvous yet (I, uh, sort of usually can't stand Yoda) so I'm open to some constructive criticism about his characterization. And for anything in general. That said, I hope you all enjoy the first chapter!
by: Amrita Glittersong
Not for the first time that day, Obi-Wan Kenobi was wondering if he'd made a big mistake.
He waited, silent and hidden in the shadows of a building, watching the deserted streets for any sign of movement. Chances were good he would notice the person he was meeting before they noticed him and he hoped that would indeed be the case; without the usually constant presence of Anakin at his side, he was feeling less daring than normal. But with or without his padawan, meeting with Count Dooku was not a situation to be treated casually.
Obi-Wan been more than slightly surprised to receive a message from Count Dooku, sent directly to his Delta-7, earlier on in the day. It had sounded almost too good to be true; Dooku wanted to meet with him to discuss the possibility of a cease fire, if not an outright stop to the war that had just begun the month before. And not only that, but he wanted to meet with him on a neutral planet that had not been contacted by the Separatists or the Republic.
Obi-Wan had sent an emergency message to Coruscant, telling them of the transmission and asking their advice. After some discussion, he and the Council had agreed it was worth the risk. Anakin, on Coruscant while Obi-Wan had been on his scouting mission, was less than pleased upon finding out this decision. It took quite awhile for Obi-Wan to convince him not to rush out in his own Delta-7, the newly named Azure Angel, to join him.
So now, Obi-Wan was waiting for Dooku to arrive in the quiet, barren city, trying to maintain his Jedi calm. The Force, which was usually a soothing presence, was instead setting his nerves on edge as it told him that meeting with Dooku was the right choice and that he was in danger all at once. It warned him with a gentle nudge that the Sith had arrived and, glancing out of the shadows, he was slightly relieved to see that Dooku was, as he'd said he would be, alone.
The Jedi Knight watched for a minute or two as Dooku approached, before stepping out of the shadows to make his presence known. "Dooku."
"Ah, Obi-Wan. I was wondering if you would be here." Dooku said cordially, as if there was nothing out of the norm about their meeting. "It is a rather daring thing I have asked of you, after all."
Obi-Wan regarded him, nodding slightly as he tried to get a sense of Dooku's intentions. It was hard to read the Sith, just as it had been the last time they had met, and he was getting nothing clear to indicate if Dooku did indeed wish to have negotiations as he'd said. He would simply have to take the chance. "If there is a possibility we can come to some sort of agreement to end this war, then I will do what I must."
"An answer I would expect from a Jedi." Dooku responded, tone serious but otherwise doing nothing to give away his thoughts. He motioned to a building across the street. "We should go inside. I've made arrangements with the shop keeper, and we won't be bothered as we talk."
Obi-Wan nodded slightly again; the Force was quiet and he felt nothing to indicate that Dooku's words were insincere. Following the Sith, he entered the building, which turned out to be a small, quaint cafe; tidy and clean, but otherwise unremarkable. Slightly off-white tiles covered the floors, and the walls were a muted beige color while the tables were a white that was almost pink. The Jedi and Sith sat down across from each other at one of the small tables, to make for one of the strangest scenes Obi-Wan thought he'd ever been a part of.
"I don't believe either of us have an interest in pleasantries at the moment, so I will skip them." Dooku began, regarding Obi-Wan seriously. He hesitated a moment, before continuing. "I do not say this lightly, but I have made a mistake. I have asked to meet with you as I believe you are my only hope."
Obi-Wan had to use every bit of his self control not to let his eyebrows shoot up towards his hairline as he heard those words. That had certainly not been what he was expecting. "...Oh?"
"Yes." Dooku responded. "Things are... Not going as I have planned."
'The feeling is mutual.' Obi-Wan thought, as he regarded the Count seriously. "Such as?"
Dooku paused again, seemingly considering his words. "I suspect my master is going to replace me."
Obi-Wan was not particularly surprised, though he was a little that Dooku apparently was. "Surely you know that Sith go through apprentices and masters rather quickly, Dooku." He stated evenly. "Were you not informed of this before you turned?"
Dooku almost sighed, seemingly slightly exasperated. "I was under the impression I would not be simply a place holder for a younger apprentice."
"And you were mistaken." Obi-Wan finished. "Now you wish help to get yourself out of a problem you made for yourself? Perhaps you should have timed this better, Dooku. Before you killed one hundred and seventy-nine Jedi on Geonosis and took my padawan's arm, perhaps."
A flicker of surprise crossed Dooku's face for a moment before he returned to his usual impassive expression. "Anger is not very Jedi of you, Obi-Wan."
"And cowardice is neither Jedi or Sith of you, Dooku."
Dooku nodded slowly. "Indeed." Unexpectedly, he laughed quietly. "I could never win arguments with Qui-Gon, either."
Obi-Wan looked at him impassively, his momentary flare in temper fading. This was the second time in the three conversations he'd had with Dooku that Qui-Gon was mentioned, and Dooku seemed to invoke his name whenever he was attempting to convince Obi-Wan of something, as the Jedi had noticed. He didn't find it amusing. "I'm sure." He attempted to steer the conversation back onto negotiation, away from the rather personal subject of Qui-Gon. "If I do decide to help you, Dooku, what exactly do you want? You can leave the Sith on your own."
"Yes, but leaving the Sith is... Not as acceptable as leaving the Jedi Order." Dooku responded. "My master would kill me. Literally."
"So you wish the assistance of the Jedi, to protect you." Obi-Wan said, trying not to let his utter disdain show on his face. "After everything you have done."
"Yes." Dooku said simply. "That is the idea. Of course, the Jedi would not be without reward for this... After all, Obi-Wan, I do know the identity of the Sith Lord."
Obi-Wan realized he should have thought about that earlier. "So in return for the protection of the Jedi, you would give us the information we would need to find the Sith Lord." It sounded like a reasonable enough deal... If too good to be true.
"I see that we are now on the same page." Dooku commented with a nod of his head. "Yes. That is the deal I propose. Without me, the Separatists may or may not fall apart, but the Jedi will have the knowledge needed to defeat their main enemy. However, I would need to be pardoned and allowed to resume my life as Count of Serenno upon the removal of the Sith."
Obi-Wan considered this all for a moment. "I cannot promise you a pardon, Dooku, and in fact I will not entertain the idea myself. You'll have to discuss it with the Council on your own. However, if you do indeed inform us of the Sith Lord's identity and are found to have been telling the truth, I am confident I can arrange protection for you."
Dooku smiled then, and though it was an odd sight, it seemed sincere. "I knew we could come to some sort of agreement, Obi-Wan. In fact-" He suddenly cut off, the smile disappearing from his face in an instant, though Obi-Wan missed it as he was already turning to look for the disturbance they had both felt.
It wasn't hard to find it, in fact, it was nearly impossible to miss. As Obi-Wan turned around, the feeling that had appeared so suddenly was easily pinpointed as coming from the cloaked figure in the doorway of the building. Darkness rolled off the being in waves, strong enough to make the Jedi feel immediately dizzy and anxious. He couldn't draw his eyes away from the figure as it stepped within the cafe, barely registering the sound of Dooku's chair sliding backwards forcefully as the Count stood up. Vaguely, Obi-Wan realized he was already on his feet as well.
"Master, this is a... Surprise." Dooku's words seemed almost comical for the situation, and Obi-Wan would have been tempted to laugh if he hadn't felt so frozen. "This is... Not what it appears to be."
"Is that so?" The voice of the Sith Lord was sinister and gravelly, but it shook Obi-Wan from his daze. It almost sounded familiar, in a way, as if he'd somehow heard this person speak before. "Then what is it, Lord Tyrannus?"
Dooku took a few steps forward to pass Obi-Wan and glanced back over his shoulder at the Jedi in a look that was clearly 'play along' before he spoke to the Sith Lord--Darth Sidious--again. "Master... Obi-Wan has come to me in hopes of becoming my apprentice."
Obi-Wan was thankful that Dooku was now at least mostly blocking him from the Sith Lord's view, as he was unable to keep the surprise he felt off his face. He was barely able to compose himself before Dooku moved a moment later, so as not to make it obvious that blocking the Jedi had been his intention, and Obi-Wan fixed the Sith Master in the doorway with as expressiveless of a look as he possibly could manage.
"Oh?" Sidious drawled out, sounding interested, and Obi-Wan again felt he knew the voice. "Did you, now, Kenobi?"
Obi-Wan stared at the dark, indistinguishable face of the Sith and answered as calmly as he could. "I did."
The Sith regarded him for a long, tense moment. Obi-Wan fought to keep from fidgeting or giving away just how nervous he was; he'd faced down many things, including two other Sith, but nothing compared to the enemy standing just metres from him. The air felt heavy and thick, and the Force was screaming incoherent things to him from so many directions he almost had to block himself from it just to concentrate.
Finally, Sidious spoke again, this time to Dooku. "And what did you tell him, Lord Tyrannus?"
Dooku stepped forward again slightly to respond. "That I would speak to you, of course, Master. The Rule of Two must be considered, after all."
"Indeed it must." Sidious said, turning his attention again towards Obi-Wan. "I'm sure you would know this, Kenobi."
"I do." Obi-Wan responded, not offering any more information than necessary as he tried to figure out the best way to keep Dooku's cover story even the slightest bit believable. Fortunately, Dooku seemingly already had it all planned out.
"I offered him the chance to join me on Geonosis, as you know." Dooku explained. "It is not surprising he would believe that offer stood, only a month later."
The Sith Master considered this, drawing closer, and Obi-Wan had to fight the strong impulse to draw his lightsabre and make a desperate attempt to destroy Sidious then and there. "I suppose..."
There was another tense silence as Sidious stopped less than three metres away, regarding both Dooku and Obi-Wan critically. The darkness rolled from him, rippling across The Force and only amplified by the close proximity, and Obi-Wan carefully pulled The Force around himself to try to hold some of the darkness away from him. The Jedi was slightly surprised to realize that he couldn't clearly see Sidious' features even from such a close distance. The only details he could clearly discern were that the Sith was much older than himself, perhaps Dooku's age, and that he was about as tall as Obi-Wan was.
"Why not take him as one of your Acolytes, Tyrannus?" The Sith Lord asked, prompting Obi-Wan to wonder, 'What Acolytes?'
"To be quite honest," Dooku stated, managing to combine respect and the implication that it should be obvious into his tone at the same time, "Can you imagine Kenobi as a mere Acolyte? Not to mention that one of them will make the mistake of provoking him and I will end up having to replace an entire swath of them afterwards."
Sidious actually chuckled at that, which Obi-Wan couldn't tell if was disturbing or just outright creepy. "Perhaps. However, you know the reason the Rule of Two is in effect."
"Of course, Master." Dooku acknowledged humbly with a nod. "I would never have suggested it if we had not already discussed a possible amendment to the Rule."
Obi-Wan barely kept from shooting a look at Dooku. Something wasn't right here; wasn't Dooku's main concern that he was going to be replaced as an apprentice, not that the Sith Lord was going to take a second one? Was it possible this entire thing was Dooku's plan from the very beginning? Had he walked right into a trap? A new feeling of dread was settling over him to combine with what he already felt from Sidious, and he wanted nothing more than to get out of the cafe, off the planet, and back to Coruscant. Again, he found himself wishing Anakin was with him.
But right now, he was alone. At best, he had a possible ally in Dooku, but the Count couldn't be trusted. Obi-Wan stood his ground, too deep into the situation to get out. He'd simply had no choice but to go along and see where the Force guided him.
Pulling himself from his thoughts, Obi-Wan mentally cursed himself as he noticed he'd zoned out so far he'd missed that Dooku was still speaking and only caught the last few words, "-will not challenge you."
Sidious chuckled again, though it was even colder and harsher than before, before responding to Dooku's words. "You and Kenobi are no match for me now, let alone once I have my second apprentice at my side. I have no fear of you. So be it, Lord Tyrannus. Kenobi will be your apprentice."
"Thank you, my Master." Dooku responded, bowing respectfully to the Sith Lord before turning towards Obi-Wan. "Kneel."
Obi-Wan just stared at him, and Dooku stared back. Wondering what he had gotten himself into, Obi-Wan slowly lowered to one knee, bowing his head and contemplating if he could get out of the building before they could blast him with Force Lightning if he made a run for it. He felt them both watching him, however, and decided his chances probably wouldn't be good.
"Obi-Wan." Dooku said, tone formal. "Do you renounce the Jedi and your allegiance to their Order?"
Obi-Wan hesitated, unsure if he could really agree to this oath, even falsely. He had no problem with lying when the occasion called for it, but still, he felt uneasy. Surely Sidious would be able to tell if he wasn't sincere? But he had no other choice than to try. "...Yes."
"Do you pledge yourself to the Order of the Sith?"
"Will you uphold the Code and teachings of the Sith?"
'Not a chance.' "Yes."
Dooku let the silence hang in the air for a moment, then continued. "Rise, my apprentice."
Obi-Wan stood up without hesitation, to see Dooku apparently considering something and the Sith Lord just watching the proceedings calmly.
"You will need a proper Sith name." Dooku added, regarding his new apprentice. "That can wait for a short time, however."
Obi-Wan nodded slightly, not trusting himself to respond as the surreality of it all was taking hold. Idly, a part of his mind seemingly detached from the sheer horror of the situation found amusement in the very idea of him being Darth anything. He wondered what Anakin would say when he heard about it.
It was silent for nearly a minute, and Obi-Wan was beginning to wonder if there was something he was expected to do. But it seemed there wasn't, as Sidious abruptly turned and began to sweep away towards the door. Upon reaching it, he paused, and turned back slightly to speak. "I expect you to serve us well, Kenobi." He said, an unmissable dose of warning lacing his voice. "You proved your potential ten years ago, but I will not tolerate failure."
Obi-Wan inclined his head slightly in acknowledgment and apparently that was enough, as Sidious again turned away and disappeared out the door as quickly as he had appeared.
There was again silence for a few more minutes, as Obi-Wan waited until he was certain Sidious was gone before he sat down hard on the nearest chair, not entirely certain of what had just happened and still reeling from it all. He felt sick and shaky, like he'd had a fever; he hoped that was indeed the case and that this had all been a strange hallucination, and he would soon wake up in the Med Ward back in the Temple.
It seemed that was not to be the case, however, no matter how he wished it was. As a shadow crossed in front of him, he looked up to see that Dooku was peering down at him, expression unreadable as usual. There was a moment before Dooku spoke. "You look unwell."
"I wonder why." Obi-Wan responded, tone distant from shock and only containing the slightest hint of sarcasm. Regaining his composure, he focused on Dooku and asked the first question that came into his head. "What were you thinking?"
"About what?" Dooku asked mildly, as if he had absolutely no idea what Obi-Wan could have been referring to.
"About your cover story." Obi-Wan clarified, too drained to be annoyed. "Which I must say, I am astounded worked."
"You and I both." Dooku admitted, sitting down on a nearby chair as he spoke. He gazed at Obi-Wan seriously. "But what would you have suggested, Obi-Wan? I was attempting to keep us both from being killed, and it worked, for the moment at least."
Obi-Wan thought that over for a moment, and shrugged slightly. It had worked, and that was the most important thing; they were both still alive. Almost randomly, he commented on something that passed through his mind as he thought over what had just happened. "I wasn't aware Sith initiation rituals were so short."
Dooku gave him an unfathomable look. "I abridged it. I didn't want it too be too long, as I wasn't certain how long it would take for your composure to expire."
Obi-Wan looked back at him, trying to tell if the Count was serious or not. It seemed he was. "...That was probably for the best."
"I thought so." Dooku agreed. There was silence for a few seconds. "You did well, you know. I don't believe he suspected anything, as ludicrous as the entire story was."
"I suppose I will take that as a compliment." Obi-Wan responded dryly, feeling a bit better and standing up. "And now, I need to contact the Council and inform them of the negotiations between us. They still stand, I presume?"
"They do." Dooku affirmed, not getting up from his place yet as he watched Obi-Wan. "But Obi-Wan, have you considered this might be an opportunity?"
"Oh?" Obi-Wan asked, already nearly to the door of the cafe. He needed to get back to his Delta-7 to send a communication, as his only long-range communicator was built into the ship.
Dooku nodded, though Obi-Wan sensed rather than saw it. "This is a perfect opportunity to infiltrate the Sith."
"No. I have no intention of posing as a Sith Apprentice." Obi-Wan informed him, without turning around. He then looked over his shoulder and gave him a critical expression. "And why would I need to? You are the only source of information about the Sith that we need."
"We?" Dooku asked, sounding almost amused. "Which 'we' do you refer to, Obi-Wan? You are a Sith at the moment, you know."
Obi-Wan whirled to face him. "I am no such thing, Dooku." He said lowly. "And do not refer to me as such again unless absolutely necessary."
Dooku just nodded slightly, seemingly unfazed. "If you wish."
"I am going to contact the Council. I will return once I have spoken to them to inform you of their decision regarding your terms." Obi-Wan told him and, without waiting for a response, strode out into the streets. Once out of sight, he ran the entire way back to his starfighter.
It was less than a mile to where he'd landed, and it didn't take Obi-Wan more than a few minutes to reach the Delta-7. It took far longer until he felt he'd composed himself well enough to be presentable to the Council.
R4 took care of the technical aspect of the call once Obi-Wan told her who to contact, and a moment later the small hologram of the Council appeared. Mace Windu spoke first. "Obi-Wan. We're glad to see you're alright. Have you made contact with Dooku?"
"I have." Obi-Wan responded evenly. "He and I have reached an agreement than should be acceptable to both sides, though there were unexpected complications."
"Complications? Such as?" Mace prompted, leaning forward in his chair slightly.
Obi-Wan paused a moment as he considered how to phrase his words. "Darth Sidious arrived in the middle of the meeting. He now believes I am Dooku's Sith Apprentice."
The Council was silent for a good thirty seconds before Mace spoke again. "...And how exactly did this come about?"
Obi-Wan recounted the events of the past hour to the best of his abilities, including his feeling that the Sith was someone he personally knew or at least had met once before. When he finished, the Council was again quiet.
"Quite a situation this is, Obi-Wan. A talent for getting into trouble, you have." Yoda commented, though he looked amused. "Raises a question of how to proceed, this does."
Obi-Wan frowned inwardly. He knew he wasn't going to like this. "What do you mean?"
"An opportunity, this is. Able to infiltrate the Sith, you now are."
"Dooku said nearly the exact same words to me earlier." Obi-Wan responded, carefully keeping the displeasure out of his tone. "I will ask the same question I asked of him; why is it necessary? He agreed to tell of Sidious' identity, and that is what we need."
"Yes, but there are other things you could discover." Mace pointed out. "You mentioned something about Acolytes? And considering Dooku is commanding the Separatists, you could would be in a perfect position to report on their bases."
"Dooku could provide us with this information." Obi-Wan protested, not pleased in the slightest.
"He could, but only what he knows right now. The Separatists may not disband, even with both Dooku and Sidious gone. This may be our best chance to end this war quickly, Obi-Wan." Mace's tone was holding no room for argument, and Obi-Wan knew he was stuck. "We need you to do this."
Obi-Wan hesitated, wanting nothing more than to tell them there was absolutely no chance he would agree. But what he ended up saying was nothing of the sort. "...Yes, Master. I will not fail you."
Mace nodded approvingly. "Tell Dooku that if he works alongside you in this, reveals the identity of the Sith Lord, and the war is successfully won for the Republic, he will have both his protection and his pardon. Do you feel that he was sincere in his intent to leave the Sith?"
Obi-Wan thought carefully before answering. "I am not certain. The Force tells me there is more to this than is apparent. But Dooku did appear sincere. With the promise of the help of the Jedi, I believe he will not hinder my attempts to give information to the Republic."
"It is settled, then. Be careful, Obi-Wan." Mace said seriously, staring intently at him from the hologram. "If there is any point at which you feel you cannot reasonably continue in this assignment for any reason, return to Coruscant immediately."
"Yes, Master. Obi-Wan agreed, pausing a moment before speaking again. "Master Windu, if I may make a request...?"
"Of course; go ahead." Mace responded with an encouraging nod.
"Would you tell Anakin of the truth about what is going on, whether the other Jedi are informed or not? And do not let him come after me for any reason. I want him to know that I have not turned, but he must not try to join me."
"Accepted, your request is." Yoda spoke up again. "Informed of this situation, Skywalker will be."
Mace nodded again in agreement, then looked back at Obi-Wan. "He will be assigned to Master Ki-Adi-Mundi in your absence. There is only one more thing I need to ask you, Obi-Wan."
"Yes?" Obi-Wan asked, wondering what it could be.
Mace smirked. "What do we call you, o' Sith Apprentice?"
Obi-Wan allowed himself to scowl at the Council member. "I have no Sith name as of the moment. I'm certain Dooku will have more fun than he should thinking of one, however."
"I imagine." Mace agreed, before his expression became serious again. "Contact us again as soon as you can, Obi-Wan. May The Force be with you."