Timeframe: Pre-JA, 10 years before Dooku's Knighting.
Characters: Dooku and Jocasta Nu.
Summary: Be careful what you wish for. You may get it.
Author's Note: The second and last completed part of this series.
10 years before Dooku’s Knighthood...
The tip of the blue blade cut an iridescent arc through the pale glow of the overhead lamps, a trajectory of motion that would easily detach Jocasta’s blonde head from her body.
The Force gave her due warning but it was an unfamiliar move and her body froze, perplexed by the problem of choosing from several counter-measures.
The blade halted a hair’s breath from her throat.
Literally a hair’s breadth. A strand of pale hair, a wayward thread from her ponytail, fluttered to floor and died.
“Yield,” Dooku declared, his face flushed with triumph.
Jocasta rolled her eyes and switched off her blade. “Yielded.”
They stepped back from each other, breathing hard but steadily, and exchanged the formal greeting of warriors - a bow and the salute of lightsabre hilt to the head - and then, Dooku exploded.
“That win was too easy! You made no effort!”
She threw him an irritated glare over her shoulder as she walked to the towels at the far side of the empty training room. “This wasn’t my idea, remember? Now can we hurry up? I have to pick up a tome from the Archives for my Master.”
“Lightsabre practice is as important as study,” Dooku lectured, following her. “You, Jocasta, are sorely in need of more practice.”
This time the look was more than irritated. “Why didn’t you practice with someone else then?” she snapped, throwing her towel over her shoulders. In one smooth motion, she sank cross-legged to the floor and started stilling herself for the post-dueling exercises.
Dooku imitated her, his own movements managing to be both more graceful and less natural.
“I didn’t practice with someone because you are superior to all the Padawans from our old Clan,” he said earnestly and despite herself, she glowed. “After me, of course,” he added, almost as an afterthought. He ducked when she swiped her towel at him. “I need you to stay in top form otherwise I will lose a valuable practice partner.”
She rolled her eyes even as she smiled. It was amazing how Dooku always managed to annoy and pacify her with equal ease. Still, she was eager to find an alternative dueling partner for her old Clan mate. He took all the fun out of their practice sessions, turning them into fierce competitions.
“You can challenge some of the older Padawans,” she suggested, good-natured again. She pulled her hand all the way to the back of her waist, feeling the moisture on her skin cool as her blood chilled.
“They’re not as good as they claim. I will injure their pride,” Dooku declared with no small trace of his own pride as he pulled both hands to his back and stood on them.
Jocasta gave him a sidelong look of utter disbelief, twisting her second hand with some difficulty. “How considerate of you. Perhaps you should try dueling with Master Yoda.”
He laughed. “If I could duel with Master Yoda, why would I waste my time with you?” he asked with casual cruelty, his voice hardening. “Master Yoda doesn’t approve of dueling. Curtailing me from it is his favorite way of punishing me. The only forms he ever teaches are the ones for deflecting missiles.” He fell back to his feet and finished his exercises with a long stretch.
Still on the floor, Jocasta was torn between staying sullenly mute at the insult or protesting strongly against the insult to Yoda. In the end, her loyalty won out.
“It’s not just Yoda. Every Master teaches Form 3. What else would a Jedi need to know?” she asked with some exasperation, as she stood on her hands. “We’ll never need to duel for real. Duels are just for exercise and even then, they encourage feelings of competition...”
“… Jealousy and rage. I, also, was in Yoda’s class,” he said wryly, picking up his things. “And you are in error.”
“About what?” Jocasta asked, falling to her feet.
“Never needing to know how to duel in the real world. We’ll need that knowledge when we encounter a Dark Jedi.”
“If! The last Dark Jedi was killed decades ago...”
“Or the Sith.”
He walked out of the training room.
Jocasta stared at the door in total shock. Then with a small, muffled almost-oath, she quickly packed her things and took off after him. His long legs had already taken him half way down the corridor.
“The Sith?” She said sharply as she caught up with him. He looked at her and she immediately lowered her voice. “The Sith? Dooku, do you need to visit the Healers? The Sith don’t exist! They died out millennia ago.”
“Jocasta, that’s what our masters instruct us to believe,” Dooku said, his voice an urgent whisper. “But I do not. There is no proof that none of the Sith survived the last War. Just because the Council likes to think that they’ve died out, doesn’t mean that the Sith obliged them.”
The training room had been temperature-regulated. The empty corridor was more reflective of the weather in Coruscant and it was a cool evening. The nearby windows let in a soft breeze that made Jocasta shiver. “Dooku, this isn’t funny!” she said, even though she knew that her partner had a very small sense of humor.
His eyes were grave. “I’m not joking.”
“You’re actually serious? You really believe that the Sith still exist?”
“I am and do.”
She shivered again. “Why?” Her voice lowered, hushed. “Did the Force tell you?” No matter what else she thought of her rather pompous Clan mate, she never doubted for one moment, that of all her peers, the Force was strongest with Dooku.
His eyes lowered for the first time. There were frown lines on his brow. “I don’t know. I just feel... When I read about old Jedi history - the former Jedi Bendu before the split... when I read about the Sith wars, I feel like if I am seeing something that’s happened. No. That’s not it.” He paused, clearly gathering his thoughts.
“It’s not sensing something that has happened – a memory of the Sith War – it’s something that’s going to happen... An inevitability.” He scowled as he struggled for words again.
His lack of usual coherency convinced Jocasta of his earnestness more than anything he had said.
“I feel as if I need to prepare for this… thing. As if I will have an important role - maybe the most important role to play in this.”
“In what?” she whispered. “Another war?”
He looked at her then, as if gauging her reaction and she was taken aback by his eyes. They had never seemed so intense, so passionate and they bored into hers as if trying to force into her mind, the images in his own. They were standing with their heads very close together.
They both started when the panels at the end of the corridor slid open.
A small group of Younglings, moving with the least serenity of all, were headed in Jocasta’s and Dooku’s way, accompanied by Master Tak-nu, the arm-wrestling teacher. Both Padawans shifted to the side and bowed in greeting to the Master.
Master Tak-nu paused before Dooku. “Padawan, would you care to accompany me? I might need some assistance in demonstrating a few skills to the Younglings?”
Dooku bowed deeply. “Of course, Master.”
Without another glance at Jocasta, he followed the Master and his class of excited Younglings, leaving Jocasta Nu by herself on the corridor, her mind filled with conflicting worrisome thoughts as she watched her enigmatic former Clan-mate disappear into the training room.
Dooku was always over-dramatizing things. Part of the reason why he was so determined to excel at things was rooted to an innate pride. It was as if ordinary things – even living the ordinary life of a Jedi in ordinary times – were not good enough for him.
This was just another instance. He was wrong. He had to be.
Jocasta shivered again and started walking to the Archives. It really was a cold evening.