persephone_kore: (Default)
[personal profile] persephone_kore
Title: Protégé: Vigil
Authors: Persephone_Kore and Dreagoddess
Timeframe: Post-TPM
Characters: Anakin, Dooku, Palpatine, others
Genre: General, AU
Keywords: Dooku, Anakin, training
Summary: Sequel to "Protégé: Chosen" and "Protégé: Padawans." Dooku has continued training Anakin... and the Sith Master is looking for a new apprentice.

Previously in series: http://persephone-kore.livejournal.com/tag/protege






Chapter 2

He was floating in jelly.

Some part of Anakin's mind registered this as not quite normal. But the jelly was warm and soothing, and he couldn't quite manage to make his brain cooperate to object to it. Until there was a sudden burst of cool air, and the jelly was flowing away, and --

Anakin awoke with a start, rubbing at his eyes and blinking until he realized he was curled up just where he'd nodded off to sleep, and the odd feeling must've been leaking over from the bond. The sudden burst of air was explained by Master Caudle carefully supervising Dooku's removal from the bacta tank. That made Anakin's eyes light up.

"He's better!" He scrambled to his feet and rushed over, but Dooku was lying just as still and unresponsive as ever while the medical droid sluiced the remaining bacta off him.

"He's had as much physical damage repaired as the bacta can do for him," Master Caudle said. "The rest... we'll have to see."

Anakin swallowed hard. That was not encouraging. He took a few deep breaths and reminded himself not to be a baby about this, Master Dooku was just sleeping, that's why he was so still and... To distract himself, he asked the healer, "Um, are you going to let Chancellor Palpatine come visit?"

On the bed, Dooku suddenly jerked and made a gasping noise.

Caudle laid one hand on his forehead and the other on his chest, eyes a little wide but motions sure.

Dooku's eyes fluttered open. He drew breath, coughed out something red that Anakin realized with relief was only leftover bacta, and tried again, mouthing something.

"Don't try to speak," Caudle ordered firmly. "You were badly injured and you only just came out of bacta."

Dooku took several deep, shaky breaths. Then he tried again. This time he managed to get some sound out, but still not intelligible words.

"Master Dooku," Caudle said, "do you really think speaking -- right this minute -- is worth re-injuring yourself and possibly dying?"

Dooku went very still for a moment, his eyes closed. But then he opened them again and met Caudle's gaze. "...Yes."

The word was very quiet and labored, but it was intelligible. Dooku took several more breaths, then got out, "Sith."

"You met the other one?" Anakin put in, hoping to make this easier.

"Yes." Dooku had to stop and take several labored breaths, trying a few times before getting the next word out. "Pal... Palpa...tine."

They all stared at him; if the medical droids had been protocol droids the scene would probably have been much louder. "He's the Sith?" Anakin squeaked.

Dooku just nodded this time.

"...I guess we shouldn't let him come visit, then," Anakin said inanely.

Dooku's lips twitched in the ghost of a smile. "Tell...Yoda."

"We will," Caudle said. "You stop talking for now. Anakin--"

Anakin did not like the idea of going to talk to Master Yoda himself, nor of leaving Master Dooku's side, but he knew exactly where to go and this was important. He was out the door when Caudle had barely finished his name.

It was late into Coruscant's evening, and Master Yoda would be in his quarters right now. And he wasn't alone -- Master Windu was there, but so was Master Qui-Gon. Anakin sighed a little in relief at the last. The other two were intimidating, but Master Qui-Gon was nice. And he'd been trying to find out what happened to Dooku.

The Masters looked up when the door swished open to admit Anakin, breathing a little hard and looking very disturbed about what he'd been told. "Master Dooku--" Qui-Gon began.

"He woke up," Anakin cut him off. "Just a little. Master Caudle kept trying to make him stop talking so he wouldn't hurt himself more, but he had to tell us." He swallowed nervously. "He was attacked by the second Sith. And it's Chancellor Palpatine."

"What?" Master Windu half rose. "Are you certain about this?"

"Announce such a thing without certainty, Dooku would not," Master Yoda said testily. "Know who he was fighting, you think he did not?"

"He was two steps from death the last time I saw him. He could be delusional. We can hardly arrest the Chancellor without solid proof."

"Well, we don't have to let him visit either!" Anakin blurted.

"Allow Palpatine to visit we will not," Yoda assured him. "Easy enough to manage without suspicion, that is. Wait for Dooku to recover, we will, and investigate on our own in the meantime."

Anakin nodded. That seemed to make sense. At least they were taking it seriously. Master Yoda, anyway.

"Meanwhile," Master Qui-Gon said, "might I be permitted to visit him? I can guarantee no murder attempts and don't expect to cause a great deal of other stress."

"Master Caudle was trying to get him not to talk. She -- she said he could hurt himself again and..." He looked down and swallowed. "He might die."

"Then we will go and assure him that he has been heard, and need not talk any further for now."

Anakin nodded earnestly. "Okay. Master Caudle's taking care of him right now. Can we go, Master Yoda?"

"Go. Come to visit him later, I will, once investigations we have set into motion."

Qui-Gon led the way out of the chamber, Anakin following, and they left Master Windu and Master Yoda to deal with each other and the rest. "It's good to hear he's awake," Qui-Gon said quietly, "even if the rest of the situation is troubling."

Anakin nodded anxiously. "Master Caudle looked really surprised when he woke up. She'd just taken him out of bacta."

"He's frequently tougher than healers expect... though not necessarily quite to the point he expects."

"I just want him to be okay." Anakin's voice was very small. He wanted to just be sitting in their quarters, curled up next to his master, with Dooku's arm wrapped around him comfortingly as that deep voice talked about the Force.

"I very much want that too," Qui-Gon said quietly, setting a hand on Anakin's shoulder.

Anakin leaned into Qui-Gon, just a little. He wasn't Master Dooku... but he was pretty close.

Before long, they entered the infirmary again, going back to the small room where Dooku was being treated. "Master Dooku, I brought Master Qui-Gon with me!"

"Don't move," Master Caudle said to her patient. "I'm sure they'll be right over."

Dooku rolled his eyes expressively but refrained from trying to lift his head.

Qui-Gon moved into his field of vision and perched on the edge of the bed. He covered Dooku's hand with his, squeezing slightly. "Hello, Master. It's good to see you conscious. Don't strain yourself on my account. Anakin has passed on your warning."

Dooku was not exactly tense enough to relax, but the relief showed all the same. He smiled faintly.

Anakin slipped to the other side of the bed. "Master Yoda and Master Windu are going to start investigating, they said. And Master Yoda said he'll come down to see you later." He took Dooku's free hand nervously.

Dooku's hand flexed weakly around his, and the bond warmed, no longer empty or tightly shielded.

Anakin started smiling, his bright mind touching Dooku's very carefully. "It's good to feel you again, Master. You had us worried!"

Dooku closed his eyes for a moment, but his alertness actually sharpened. You... found me, didn't you?

Anakin swallowed hard, his hand tightening around Dooku's. I felt...it was awful. You were hurting so bad! They thought I was having some kind of fit at first. I, um, fell off the practice wire. But I'm okay.

Dooku winced a little. I'm sorry to have shared that. But thank you.

Don't be sorry! If I hadn't felt it, we wouldn't have found you. And...I don't want to lose you, Master.

I don't particularly want to be lost! ...I still have your training to complete.

I don't want to lose you even if you could never train me again!

Qui-Gon was watching the two of them with a slightly wistful smile. "You're going to have to be his translator, you know, Ani. Since Caudle still looks as if she'll beat us if we let him speak aloud."

Anakin looked up. "I can do that," he said quickly.

Dooku's eyes had drifted shut again, but his mind was warm and distinct, even if Anakin could tell he was still shaky.

Tell him Caudle is being surprisingly reasonable, for a Healer.

Anakin blushed and apologized quickly to the Healer before relaying Dooku's words. Caudle laughed. "Don't worry, he's said worse to me."

"...Maybe so, ma'am, but I haven't."

"Very thoughtful of you."

I raise a polite padawan, Dooku thought at him with some amusement. Even to Healers.

I don't see why you don't like her.

I don't like healers, even when they're necessary. But Caudle's decent enough. She and Ilena have been friends since they were initiates.

I didn't know that. ...They do seem kind of alike.

Disturbing. Tell Qui-Gon to take that expression off his face. I'm not dying.

"Master Dooku says not to look so upset, he isn't dying," Anakin relayed dutifully. "I think not dying is a good idea."

"An excellent one," Qui-Gon agreed fervently. "And you can't really blame us for being worried, Master. It's not often you're even minorly injured, much less...how we found you."

I try to avoid it whenever possible.

"Good," Caudle and Qui-Gon chorused after they heard that, and even Anakin managed a grin.

"I don't know what Palpatine thought he was going to accomplish," Qui-Gon murmured. "He had to know he was revealing himself. And you're not easy to get rid of."

Dooku winced. It was closer than I like to think of. And...I don't believe he intended to reveal himself, not yet. I think he was...grooming me, possibly with the idea of exploiting my discontent with the Jedi previously for his own ends. But I became suspicious of his other intentions.

Anakin went white repeating that. Palpatine had wanted to turn Master Dooku? And... if he'd let on about that, and they'd fought, and he'd left, he must have thought Master Dooku was dead....

He'll want to correct his mistake, Dooku answered the unspoken thought softly. Although he will likely think me unable to communicate for a while longer.

Not letting him.

I know. Dooku found the energy to squeeze Anakin's hand the tiniest bit. If he reaches me in the middle of the Temple, then all the Jedi are lost. I think I'll be fine.

It was true. The Jedi wouldn't let something like that happen easily, and that was an advantage to Healers that even Master Dooku probably wouldn't complain about -- Palpatine might be able to be all offended about not being let in, except Master Caudle could say for a pretty long time that Master Dooku wasn't well enough for many visitors.

It's all right, Anakin. Qui-Gon will take care of you until I can again. He looked over as Anakin relayed that to be sure Qui-Gon understood the importance of this task.

I'm not really worried about that. Just want you to be okay.

You need to be protected, Padawan. Dooku closed his eyes again wearily, and Anakin could sense his frustration at being so tired when there were things to do. It reminded him of not wanting to go to bed at night. Palpatine was too interested in you.

...I'll be careful. Just... you be careful too.

I'm not doing anything that requires it, Dooku noted dryly. And you're supposed to be relaying to Qui-Gon.

I mean don't do anything to get yourself hurt more! "Master Dooku says I need to be protected because the Chancellor was too interested in me," Anakin reported, perhaps not with the best grace due to embarrassment.

Qui-Gon's mouth quirked. "I don't think he's going to be in any more danger than you are, Master, since I don't think he's going to leave the infirmary until you're ready to."

He has classes, Dooku grumbled. He'll have to leave for them. And he shouldn't be stuck in here for however long Caudle's going to keep me prisoner.

"He says I'll have to leave for classes," Anakin said, and gave Dooku an unhappy look about the rest of it. "And that I shouldn't be stuck in here until he's well enough to leave."

"I think that'll be up to him," Qui-Gon said mildly. "A padawan's duty is to his master. If Anakin wants to stay here to take care of you, I wouldn't send him away."

Anakin beamed at him.

I'm responsible for your education, not supposed to interfere with it!

Anakin repeated the words quickly before retorting, "And I'm responsible for looking after my master. Master Qui-Gon said so, and so did my oath when you took me. If you didn't want that, you shouldn't have taken a padawan."

You had me found in time to survive. You're not required to provide medical attention.

"No, but I can keep you company. Um, company you'll like more than Healers, so you'll stay calmer, and that way you'll get better faster."

Caudle covered a laugh. "He may have a point."

Dooku turned his head just a little to glare at her.

"Looking at me like that is only supporting his point, you know."

I have to look at her like this because you won't repeat what I say accurately enough, Dooku informed his apprentice.

I don't want to insult her!

I do, Dooku grumbled. Ask her how long I have to stay here, then, and you may be as polite about it as you wish.

Thank you, Master. "Master Dooku wants to know how long he's going to have to stay in the Infirmary."

Caudle frowned and came back over with a scanner. "I'm not certain. You show signs of being severely electrocuted, but I've never encountered an electrocution quite like this before. The bacta stopped being effective. I'm going to have to monitor you for a while yet."

Ugh. Dooku's irritation gave way abruptly to alarm. They weren't poisoned, were they? The bacta?

Anakin blinked. "Huh? How can you poison bacta?"

Caudle frowned. "What?"

Lightning. He threw lightning from his hands -- I could catch it on my blade at first, but -- Dooku stopped for a deep breath. I wondered, if it had blocked the bacta, or damaged them.

"I hadn't thought of that. I'll run some tests on the bacta," Caudle said thoughtfully, after Anakin relayed his words. "But nothing struck me as wrong with it. Just that the damage was not wholly physical."

Dooku relaxed, at that. That I can believe. But I would hate to be... poisoning what I touch. His fingers wiggled a little against Anakin's hand.

I'm fine. Strong as a gundark, Anakin assured him with a little smile.

Dooku managed a tiny smile in return. But thankfully much friendlier.

That's not hard!

My apologies for the faint praise.

It's okay. Anakin grinned at him. You've had kind of a hard few days. You look tired.

...How long was I in bacta?

Almost two days. Anakin swallowed and admitted quickly, I missed my classes then. Don't be mad. But...we didn't know if you would ever...I couldn't leave you then!

I'm not angry, Dooku told him. Sorry to have caused alarm.

It's not your fault. It's not like you went up and asked for a Sith to attack you.

...No. But I could have handled the situation better when I realized what Palpatine was.

I thought we weren't supposed to second-guess and re... recriminate.

But we are supposed to learn from our mistakes.

Then you've learned, haven't you? And that still doesn't make it your fault you were hurt. I'll blame Chancellor Palpatine for worrying me, okay?

A faint tendril of humor. Very well.

Don't worry, I'm not going to go up to him and yell at him or anything. Not until you're well enough to be with me, at least.

I don't think I'd recommend it even then. Dooku's thoughts were going fuzzier again, and slippery.

Anakin patted at his mind soothingly. Master Caudle said you should be sleeping a lot for a while, so your body can heal itself without the bacta. Don't try to stay awake if you want to go to sleep.

I don't exactly want to, but it seems to be necessary. He probably didn't mean for his mind to curl up around the bond the way it did, and might have been embarrassed if he hadn't already been asleep.

Anakin patted his master again gently, then looked up at Master Caudle and said quietly, "He's asleep again."

"Good." Caudle came back over with a scanner. "I was tempted to administer a sedative if he didn't start cooperating." She looked thoughtful. "I still might, actually. He's not going to want to rest nearly as much as he needs to, if his past history is any indication."

"He won't," Qui-Gon said, "but he might rest better the more you can restrict yourself to persuasion. Particularly since I think fighting off drugs is more than half an automatic response by now."

"Every Healer's dream patient," Caudle said dryly. "I may have to recruit you and Anakin for that effort. I don't think he'll listen very much to me. Discounting most of what Healers tell him is another automatic response of his."

"If it makes you feel any better, he responds vastly better to you than he ever did to Healer Korak."

Anakin just looked confused, but Caudle snorted. "Thank you for the compliment, but anyone sentient does. She was brilliant, but no bedside manner."

Qui-Gon's mouth twitched. "Unfortunately I believe she was his first memorable experience with a Healer. It seems to have made an impression."

"Wonderful, we're all being judged by her. Well, perhaps I can get him to change his mind eventually, although he seems quite set in his ways."

"He's improving, really."

"I hope so. Well, I'm going to run some more tests on his blood samples, and check the bacta like he suggested while I'm at it. You two may stay for as long as you like."

"Thank you, Master Caudle," Anakin said, settling down next to the bed.

"Indeed, thank you," Qui-Gon agreed. "I suppose at some point I should go and try to find out what plans are being made, but meanwhile...."

"What do you think they're going to do? I mean, he's a Sith, but he's also the Chancellor."

Qui-Gon sighed. "That's a good question -- I'm not sure being a Sith is technically a crime, unless it's still considered treason because of the last war. On the other hand, attempted murder certainly is a crime, Chancellor or not."

"What about Naboo?"

"We don't actually have any proof that he was involved there. Officially, nothing actually links Palpatine to the other Sith, except Jedi lore that there must be a master and an apprentice. And nothing links either of them to the Trade Federation blockade."

Caudle sighed. "So we need more information, or it's Dooku's word against his. Although it's something, perhaps, that he took the tack of being sympathetic and trying to get in as a visitor. Makes it harder to claim Dooku as the aggressor."

"That's true. Likely he thought he could get in without comment and finish the job before Dooku could tell us anything." Qui-Gon grimaced. "And it likely would've worked, too, if he hadn't woken so early."

"Which was, come to think of it, just after we'd mentioned him," Caudle murmured. "At least we should be able to protect him now."

"We can certainly claim he can't receive visitors yet. Actually," Qui-Gon added thoughtfully, "we probably shouldn't admit he's regained consciousness. I don't know if there's a way for a Sith to strike at a distance, but we don't want to give him a reason to."

"True." Caudle's mouth quirked. "If asked, I will be circumspect."

"I have every confidence in your ability," Qui-Gon assured her with a faint smile. "Go ahead and do your samples. Ani and I will watch over Dooku."

Caudle bowed slightly and gave Dooku a glance that was not all exasperation before withdrawing.

Anakin looked down where he still held Dooku's hand tightly. "Do you think there's anything I can do for him? I hate just sitting here."

"Sometimes sitting is the best thing we can do," Qui-Gon said. "If you can put your mind at peace, that will probably help the healing process, through the bond."

"That's what Komari said. I tried, but I just fell asleep."

Qui-Gon blinked. "That -- what?"

"I tried meditating and sending good thoughts through the bond, but I fell asleep instead. I'm not sure if it did any good."

"I'm sure that was fine, and healthy sleep was probably also a good thing for him to be in contact with. But when were you talking to Komari?"

"...Oh. Um..." He probably should've mentioned this earlier. Or not at all. He wasn't sure which was the better idea. "She, um, heard Master Dooku was sick and came by."

"Isn't she," Qui-Gon said carefully, "supposed to be in a holding cell?"

"...She said she was going back. I figured she made it or somebody would've made more noise by now."

"...She sneaked out of her holding cell and then back in?"

"I think so. She was in a really weird mood."

"Apparently."

"She seemed pretty upset about Master Dooku. And she kept saying things like she wanted to hate him. I didn't really understand. But she suggested meditating might help him."

"That is... extremely interesting."

"I know I should've said something earlier. But then they were bringing Master Dooku out of bacta, and then he woke up, and..."

"You had reason to be distracted," Qui-Gon assured him, sounding rather distracted himself.

Anakin bit his lip. "Is she going to get in trouble for it?"

Qui-Gon eyed him curiously. "Well, she certainly wasn't supposed to be out. We'll have to investigate whether she did anything else, but it doesn't sound as if she did any harm, or even tried to, while you were observing her. I'm... not certain how it will be handled."

"Oh. Well, she didn't do anything wrong while she was here. Just so you know. She seemed...worried about him."

"And evidently gave you quite reasonable advice," Qui-Gon added thoughtfully. "That's... encouraging."

"She didn't seem as...angry as on Ilum. She looked like she's been sick, though."

"Close enough. Drug withdrawal isn't a comfortable process."

"Oh." Anakin swallowed. "That happened to Kit's brother when he couldn't get his stims. He got really sick and shook a lot."

"Komari would have had some assistance from the Healers to ease the transition, but even so, it would have been unpleasant."

"But she'll be okay."

Qui-Gon sighed. "The drug addiction was only part of it. The far worse addiction is to the Dark Side of the Force. I don't know if she'll be willing to accept our help with that...although her coming to see Dooku is a good sign."

"She didn't... feel the same. And when she said she wanted to hate him she... didn't say she did now."

"That much is very encouraging." Another sigh. "The saying is that once you start down the dark path, it will dominate your destiny forever. I don't know what that means for Komari. But we are trying to help her."

"...When the Council said that to Master Dooku, he said... a name, I think?... and they didn't keep arguing. As much."

Qui-Gon frowned in thought. "I'm not sure what name would have -- ah. Was it Qel-Droma?"

"Yes. Something like that."

"Hm. I'm not surprised Dooku would make that analogy. His training is very much based in history, even if he hated it." Qui-Gon smiled faintly. "Ulic Qel-Droma was a Jedi a very long time ago. He fell to the dark side, but he was able to return to the light and become a true Jedi Master. He actually spent most of his life cut off from the ability to touch the Force actively, but you don't have to be able to use the Force or sense it to be poisoned by allowing fear and anger to rule you, nor to show that you have ceased to do so. And when he died... the Force enfolded him. The records refer to his body vanishing into it, a... technique of surrender that we have since lost."

"So Master Dooku's hoping for Komari."

Dooku stirred a little without waking.

"Yes. It's a long shot, but it has happened, if rarely. And...it's not in him to give up on any of us."

Us. His Padawans. Komari thought he'd given up on her, maybe Dooku had thought so too, but he'd pled for her to the Council and she snuck out of her cell at night to visit him in the infirmary and then went back in. "Can't give up on him either," Anakin said, barely audible.

"Never. Which is why both of us are still here," Qui-Gon pointed out, ruffling Anakin's short hair gently.

"And she went back and locked herself in again."

"...Yes. That's a very good sign, and it will be a good argument for those concerned by her ability to break out in the first place."

Anakin was silent for a moment, and rubbed a spot that didn't have a scar anymore, before saying, "I guess things have to get really weird before locking yourself up is a good sign instead of meaning you're crazy."

Qui-Gon laughed softly. "You'll find life as Dooku's padawan is often really weird."

A small grin at that. "Yeah, I guess it is."

"Even so, you've had a very active first few months as a padawan. Still like it?"

"I'm not sure liking is exactly right right now," Anakin said, "but I don't want to stop." He paused. "He says Mom's probably on Serenno now."

"--Wait, what?" Qui-Gon felt as if his brain had taken a few too many hits today. He wasn't sure if he could cope with something else right now.

Anakin frowned. "Mom. Don't you think Master Dooku's niece would take her back to Serenno? He thought she would. I hope so. I don't know what she'd do on Tatooine alone."

"I didn't even know Master Dooku had a niece," Qui-Gon said a bit helplessly.

"She's running his estate on Serenno, since he can't resign his title, he said. But she still listens to him if he asks her to do things, so he had her buy my mom and set her free." Anakin leaned back and bit his lip. "I still want to free the other slaves one day. But Mom was the one I was really worried about. Master Dooku said she'll probably have a nice job she enjoys on Serenno, and she can go somewhere else if she wants."

"I see," Qui-Gon said, recovering somewhat. "That was a creative solution." And a good one. Not one he'd have thought of, but he wasn't too surprised now that he heard of it.

"...Do you think I'll be able to go visit her someday?"

Qui-Gon paused for a moment to think about that. "You might. Generally speaking, contact with family members isn't strictly forbidden as long as it doesn't interfere with one's duties as a Jedi. Although considering that I don't think Dooku has been back to Serenno since he was four, you might have to wait until you're old enough for solo trips."

"Why doesn't he like it there?"

"I don't know."

"Oh. Would it be okay to send her a message?"

"I should think so."

"Oh. Good. I want her to know I'm all right. And tell her how great Master Dooku is. She didn't get to meet him like you."

"I'm sure she'll be pleased to know both."

"Good. I think Master Dooku would like her too, if they got to meet." Anakin looked down at his sleeping master. "I want them to meet," he whispered. "I want him to be better."

"He is healing," Qui-Gon said softly.

"I want him better now."

"...Naturally, but we must be patient."

Anakin sighed. "I know. I -- I remember thinking nothing could ever hurt a Jedi."

Qui-Gon smiled a bit sadly and repeated, "I wish that were true."

"When you said that last time, I wasn't thinking about...knowing the Jedi who get hurt and killed." Anakin shivered a little and wrapped his arms around himself. "But Master Dooku's not going to die."

Qui-Gon reached over to put a large hand on Anakin's shoulder. "No. Even if the bacta isn't making any further progress, he is recovering naturally, and your caring for him -- and looking out for him -- is helping."

Anakin blinked very hard and nodded. "I'll take the best care of him ever. He'll be better in no time."

"I know he couldn't ask for better."

"...I'm still glad you're here to help."

Qui-Gon smiled. "I'm glad to be able to."

Anakin swallowed and squeezed Master Dooku's hand again, very gently so as not to wake him. Then with a quick questioning look at Qui-Gon, he tried to settle his mind into meditation.

This time it took a lot longer before he fell asleep, and he could feel a warm mind growing stronger even then.


Profile

persephone_kore: (Default)
persephone_kore

January 2014

S M T W T F S
    1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031 

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 23rd, 2017 06:52 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios