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Of all the Sithfucking, motherkriffing-- went Mace Windu’s internal monologue as he fell from a window of the Senate building.  Specifically, the window of the Chancellor's office.  This was entirely ridiculous, and without a doubt the most embarrassing way to go for the Head of the Order.  He was falling, minus a couple extremities, no lightsaber--Your life, this weapon.  Do not lose it--and it was Hutt-sucking Skywalker's fault--

Damn, of all the karking days to trust the kid an inch, was perhaps his last thought before he felt quite a jolt, and sat up straight in his Council chair.

In the next moment, he purposely relaxed and warded off Adi's alarmed look.  Shields up, he calmed his pounding heart.  What.  The fuck.  Was that.

All, well is? came the question from a serene-looking Yoda next to him, the tiny motherducking troll carefully not looking at him.  Damn, what a dilemma.  If he told the green gremlin the truth, the next steps would include a fuckton of tea, but if he lied and was found out, it would be a fuckton of tea and a lot of disappointment.

Lying it is.

Yeah.  Shatterpoint.  Luckily, this would ward off interest for a bit.  Hopefully Yoda would fall asleep in a bit and the meeting would go on.

Speaking of which, what was this meeting about?  Was he actually in a Council meeting?  Of all the things to see after death… Maybe this was a Sith hell.  Then again, he didn't think he'd done anything bad enough to get tossed into one, but--

The doors opened, and in stepped Qui-Gon Jinn, followed by Kenobi, Padawan Years, and--oh, of all the Force-loving--

Fucking Anakin Skywalker.  Bite-sized.  This was definitely a Sith hell.



He remembered this particular Council meeting, if only vaguely.  Jinn swanned in, ducklings in tow, made a fuss, gave a minimal report, made senseless proclamations, insulted his Padawan, claimed a child he shouldn't have, and swanned back out.  There, that about summed it up.

Mace's feelings on the matter were better summed up with about a dozen words he heard his gramma say once.  It didn't translate to Basic well.

Qui-Gon was speaking, probably giving his report.  Mace didn’t care; his old friend could go fuck himself.  Hell if Mace was letting him screw up everything good in his life.  Again.  That is, if he could change this and alter this reality he was in.  Was this only a vision?

Yoda was speaking, asking Skywalker a question.  He tuned the troll out too.  The question was, did he have to stick with what happened and watch everything fall apart again or could he skip all that shite?

Mace tuned back into the conversation, recognizing the moment--this was his turn to speak.  “The boy will not be trained.”  Yeah, he could do that.  Or not.  He stood up instead and paced three steps forward, dropping to kneel in front of the boy.

The small thump echoed oddly in the suddenly still chamber.  Thirteen pairs of eyes burned holes in him but the only pair that was important at the moment was the fourteenth, looking at him wide-eyed under sandy blond hair, now at eye-height.  Well kriff them.  They’d made that mistake once before, he wasn’t going to make it again.  Besides, who could say no to that insanely endearing face?

Fuck.  He was screwed.

“First of all,” he told mini-Skywalker, “you call no one in here ‘Master.’  You can call anyone ‘sir,’you can call me Mace, but I don’t want to hear Master anybody pass your lips until you can say it and not think of slavery.  We clear?”

He could practically feel the confusion radiating off the kid.  “Yes, sir,” came the answer.

“Good.  Now, what do you know about Jedi?”  It was a strange question to the rest of the Jedi in the room, but he needed Skywalker to understand what he was getting into.

“Jedi are heroes.  They go around the galaxy and save people,” Skywalker answered, and yep, that was what Mace was worried about.  He didn’t understand what they actually did, just the normal public perception.  Mace sighed.

“Yes, that is true.  Sometimes we save people.  But we can’t always.  And we also have to go where we’re asked for help, not just where people are suffering.  Do you understand?”

The child nodded, but Mace was fairly sure he didn’t quite get it.  Kriff.  “This means that sometimes we have to give up on people or causes for the greater good.  Sometimes we have to do things we would rather not.  Sometimes--” fuck, he was not prepared to be explaining this to Skywalker.  How the Sithspitting hells did Kenobi ever do this?!? “--you have to make difficult choices between people you care about and your mission.”  And now Mini-walker seemed to get it, an uncomfortable look growing on his face.  “Do you want to be a Jedi, even though it means you will have to give up your attachments?”

Skywalker opened his mouth to speak, but Mace cut him off, raising a finger into the air.  “Don’t just say yes.  Think about it for a moment.”  And, miraculously, he listened and actually used his brain.  Thank all the Hutt-spawned little gods.  After a moment, the kid refocused and looked solemnly at Mace.

“Yes sir, I still want to be a Jedi,” he said sincerely.  Mace raised an eyebrow and he twitched a bit, but didn’t back down.  Whatever.  They’d work on it later.

He opened his mouth to tell Skywalker he could join the other Initiates in the creche.  “Anakin Skywalker, would you like to be my Padawan?”  Wait.  Shit.  What did he just say.  What just came out of his mouth.  And even worse--the kid was practically kriffing glowing, what the actual fuck!

“Yes, Mas--yes, sir!  I’ll be the best Padawan ever, I promise!”  Oh sweet Force and all the ever-loving--the kid was just too earnest.  He’ll be the death of me.  Oh, wait--

Whatever force was in charge of his body seemed to know what it was doing, because he found himself responding correctly, with no additional hesitation.  “Then I take you as my Padawan learner.  We can discuss all your responsibilities and what you need to learn later.”  With that settled, he stood up and brushed off his knees, repressing a groan.  He didn’t have all the karking aches and pains from the Clone Wars in this ridiculous hallucination, but he still had a headache.  He really needed to pass on his Council seat.

Speaking of which...the Council itself was still dead silent, eyes boggling out of their heads.  He huffed out a breath, exasperated with them, and motioned to Skywalker.  “As a Council Padawan, you stand to the right of my chair when you’re in a session,” he said quietly, and the kid nodded his head enthusiastically and started bouncing on over there.  Halfway between, he seemed to realize this was not sedate Jedi behavior and slowed down to a walk, taking his place behind the chair.  After a moment, he squinted at Kenobi and crossed his arms in the same manner.  It was ridiculously cute.  Not that Mace was watching too closely.

Jinn was frowning, one hand frozen on his beard.  And then he dropped it, stuck his hands in his sleeves in that classic fucking pose of his, and took a breath to speak.  “Oh, really?”  And then he shrugged, the fucker.  “Now, about that other matter...?”

Mace shrugged.  “Padawan Skywalker can stay here while we discuss.  As far as I'm concerned, both he and Padawan Kenobi should be informed.”

Said Kenobi stiffened and glanced at Jinn, then resumed his perfect Padawan pose.  Mace considered his friend for a moment—yeah, he could definitely see where the older Obi-Wan had developed his sabaac face and excellent arguing-with-Council skills—er, that is, bad habits.  He grinned internally; it was funny to see this kid version of his friend again, all anxious and stressed by what his Master might say in front of the Council.  If only he knew that someday he’d be just as bad as Jinn.

“So then, about the Sith…?” Qui-Gon Jinn asked.

“The being you claim is a Sith,” Eeth Koth interjected, and Jinn frowned thunderously.

Oh yeah, this attitude again.  Mace had almost forgotten about that.  Fuck you, Eeth.  “Whether this Darksider is a Sith or not,” Mace stated, “he is still quite dangerous.  You say you had trouble fighting him, Master Jinn?”

Qui-Gon bowed in his direction slightly, apparently sensing Mace was going to take his side.  Ha.  As if.  “Yes, Master Windu.  The being attacked out of nowhere and was difficult to fight, the landscape and heat of Tattooine notwithstanding.  I believe it was highly trained in the Dark Arts.”

Mace nodded.  “Then the Council will send additional Jedi with you and Padawan Kenobi, should Queen Amidala choose to return to Naboo.  If that is all, then I believe we should adjourn this session,” and he moved to get up before being frozen by a glare from Yoda.  Sithspit.  He nodded to the two of them before they moved to leave the chamber, and turned to his new responsibility.  “Padawan, you may follow them and get lunch from the commissary.  The Council needs to discuss a few more things before we’re done.”  And judging by the looks he was getting from his fellow Councilors, there were quite a few things which needed to be discussed.  Oh well.  Fuck that noise.

As soon as the door was closed, all eyes were on him.  “Additional Jedi, we will send?” Yoda asked mildly.

Mace sighed internally.  “Qui-Gon Jinn is one of the Order’s best duelists.  If he could not defeat the Darksider—and I will not say it was a Sith—when in not-ideal conditions, then it is a significant threat to be reckoned with.”  His colleagues hummed in the Force with both agreement and ambivalence.  Shit, how blind they all were!

Adi Gallia was the next to speak up.  “And what about taking Skywalker as your Padawan?  We discussed earlier about the danger he represents, as he is too old.” and full of anger and fear, was the unspoken addendum there.

This time, Mace shrugged.  “He is more dangerous left untrained by the Order or to fend for himself.  He was a slave on Tattooine—are we heartless enough to send him back there?”  And perhaps that was a little too far, as he felt surprise echo through the Force.  We aren’t unfeeling, he thought.  And you fuckers would understand better if you all knew how much less serene you are in wartime.

“Well, you are?” asked a frowning Yoda, and agreeing concern came from the rest of the Council.

I have all my kriffing body parts, so yes.  “Perfectly fine, Master Yoda,” he said.  “Now, are we done?  I have a Padawan to bond with.”

The impatience was getting him nowhere, it seemed.  “Responsible for your sudden changes in opinion, what is?”

Mace ground his teeth together.  Fuck.  This.  “I had a vision,” he gritted out, and then stood and walked out of the Council chamber.