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Stuck In the Middle With You

Chapter Text

Liber Librae:0.
Learn first -- Oh thou who aspirest unto our ancient Order! -- that Equilibrium is the basis of the Work. If thou thyself hast not a sure foundation, whereon wilt thou stand to direct the forces of Nature?

It was the thirty-fifth anniversary of the New Je'daii Order on Tython, and there was a large celebration at Akar Kesh, the Temple of Balance. The Grandmasters ran Mahara Kesh, the Temple of Healing, on a coast of one of Tython's oceans, and left their little paradise to greet their ever-increasing fold of Rangers and Masters.

After many had gone to an alcohol-induced sleep, Grandmaster Yan Dooku and his bondmate, Sev, were still awake. One of the Je'daii Seekers asked, "How did the Order start?"

The old Je'daii Master gestured upward to the Tho Yor hovering in the skies above Akar Kesh, and said, "You see, over thirty thousand years ago, long before the Republic..."

The Seeker dismissively waved his hand. "Grandmaster, I know about how the original Je'daii Order started. I mean this one. The New Je'daii."

Dooku and his bondmate looked at each other, and Dooku said, chuckling, "It's quite a story. A bit of a long story."

"Maybe you should write it down."

"Maybe we should."

_

Dooku

Qui-Gon and I had not spoken beyond a perfunctory few words in some time, so when he arrived at my quarters I knew it was bad.

"Master Dooku," he said, "Komari Vosa is dead."

I had felt a disturbance in the Force late last night... Komari and I had severed our Master/apprentice Force bond, so I didn't know that disturbance in the Force was her. Qui-Gon's story filled in the details.

Komari had been twelve when she started her apprenticeship to me; I saw her as a child, so when the eighteen-year-old confessed the feelings I sensed she had, I was most troubled. I tried to be compassionate, telling her gently this could not happen. I did not want to dismiss her as my apprentice immediately - perhaps I should have, because she took my continued apprenticeship of her as a sign that there was "hope for us", when there was none. At Galidraan, she killed twenty Mandalorians... for me. Not because I asked her to, and not even because there was reason to, but because she wanted to impress me. I had already stopped fighting, sensing in the Force we were on the wrong side. I was not impressed; I grieved. When we came back, something in her had changed. When I was taken prisoner by relatives of those who had been killed, and tortured, she led the rescue party, and was even more brutal to those who held me captive. I tried, one last time, to persuade my padawan to return to the Light Side of the Force. She left dead roses on my doorstep. When I talked to her about this, she would not say anything, but the next day I found a nerf heart, bloody and raw, in a box.

And finally, she climbed into my bed and tried to force herself on me. "You need this as bad as I do," she said to me.

But I didn't. I stopped her in time before anything could happen, but I was shaken. I felt indescribably dirty. I finally went to the Council. Master Yoda had us both submit to a mind probe to determine the real truth of the story. It was found in my favor, and Komari Vosa was dismissed from the Order. In addition to us severing our Force bond, she had been asked to leave, as of two Galactic days ago.

Instead of leaving, she hung herself... in the younglings' creche. It was a sight for the poor children to walk in to class and see her lifeless corpse hanging from the ceiling.

"Nobody blames you, Master," Qui-Gon said.

But I blamed myself. It had been a steady torrent of internal self-flagellation since I returned from Galidraan. Galidraan was but a microcosm of every wrong turn I had made in my career as a Jedi Knight, and later, Jedi Master. The hell had not ended there. It had just begun.

"Can I get you some tea?"

I allowed Qui-Gon to make me some tea, but I was scarcely in the mood. I had not touched alcohol in some time, but I found myself wanting to drown my sorrows.

My rage.

This was too much. There was no justice in the Force. Not for me. Not for Komari Vosa, who did not ask to have such a troubled mind. Not for anyone.

When Qui-Gon went back to his quarters, I found myself packing what few belongings I allowed myself to own, in a satchel. Quietly heading out to the shuttle bay. I did not even leave a note... in part because I didn't know what I was doing. I just needed to go.

_

Corellian alcohol is famed in the Galaxy for being very strong but without tasting like something out of a peat bog.

So I went there. I was familiar enough with Corellia and its culture, and I thought I would sit in a cantina and drink until the universe made sense again.

Unfortunately, there was not enough alcohol in the universe to do that, and the more I drank, the more intense my feelings got. Finally someone looked at me the wrong way, and they became the scapegoat for everything that was wrong with... well, everything. I Force threw them across the bar, and proceeded to punch and kick. He fought back, and he put up a good enough fight that it made me even angrier. The arrogance. I started Force choking him.

My ability to Force choke - how readily it came to me - terrified me, and the man could see the terror in my eyes and used the opportunity to stab me. I backed away, careening into several other gentlemen who decided they had a problem with me and proceeded to give me the same treatment I'd shown their acquaintance. At last I gathered my wits about me and Force threw the lot of them, and found a ball of Force lightning building in my hand, and threw it, in a tremendous explosion of light.

"You're a Sith," one of the bar patrons shouted. "Someone call the Jedi!"

I was no such thing, of course... but if they called the Jedi, someone would find out what happened, and would say I had "turned to the Dark Side". And then I'd be... re-educated.

And that was the last thing I wanted. For the first time in my life, I felt free. Like I had been let out of a cage, and could fly.

I did only what I could do. I ran out of the cantina. And kept running. I was so drunk I forgot where I parked my shuttle. I was so drunk I was losing the ability to run.

Which was all right, because I had run far enough away from the scene of... whatever that was... that I was someplace decidedly less urban. It was almost twilight now, but everything around me was glowing softly. The air smelled fresh, like a combination of grass, evergreen trees, and wildflowers. Undoubtedly, that might be because there were trees all around me, tall grass around my feet, and... a clearing of wildflowers in soft pastels. I followed the trail of flowers, feeling a little self-conscious, like I was an overgrown child. The further I went, the... thicker the air got... and everything seemed to hum.

I climbed up and down several hills, and then everything was entirely forest. Forest-covered hills. So green. It was like a waking dream.

It was roughly approaching dark. I had drunkenly wandered into a forest, without my belongings with me - not even a scrap of survival gear, except my lightsaber and the Force itself - at dark.

Brilliant, Master Dooku. What will be next, falling in love?

As if the Force itself heard my self-mockery and answered...

...I heard running water. Well, at least there would be something to drink, and I was suddenly thirsty, as alcohol tends to make me. I followed the sound of the water, and saw a stream. I knelt, cupped some water in my hands, and drank. It was the sweetest, cleanest water I had ever tasted. It was like drinking the Force itself. I drank more from my hands, but this was awkward. I was not so thirsty yet I would put my face in the stream and lap like an animal.

I walked a little further, and I saw a cliff face, and the sound of the water was getting louder.

There were rocks covered in climbing roses. They reminded me of Serenno.

I made my way to the waterfall flowing down the cliff, intending to drink from there.

Underneath moonlight, I saw what appeared to be a young man, slim but with muscle definition, pointed ears and... what appeared to be dark green hair, to the middle of his back, bathing nude under the waterfall, singing wordlessly to himself. He was as perfect as a statue; he looked like he had been carved of ivory. My breath caught in my throat. I had never truly felt desire for anyone, before then - I could not, I was a Jedi Knight - but the alcohol... and his perfect beauty... had lowered my inhibitions. I found myself staring, most of all at his lovely, serene face - heart-shaped with high cheekbones, full lips, a pert little nose.

He opened his eyes. They were a bright emerald green... and after a second they glowed, like there was actual fire in them. Green fire.

"What the kark are you doing, you pervert?" he yelled.

Before I could answer, he waved his hand, and I was thrown to my knees, and then I felt a dart hit me in the back of my neck.

Then darkness.