27 January, 2006

Songs

The room was silent, lit only by a purple lava lamp. A beaded curtain in the doorway rustled with a gentle breeze from the vent on the ceiling, casting waving shadows. Several of the posters, covered in a light layer of velvet, glowed neon shades in the low illumination.
There was a whoosh of displaced air and the regular occupant suddenly returned after over a month's absence. Qui-Gon Jinn was home.
He took a deep air-less breath, drinking the familiar sights and sounds of the place he knew so well. With an ethereal wave of his ghostly hand, the overhead lights brought sudden illumination to the room. He smiled broadly, catching sight of a holo-pic of both himself and JawaJuice on Tatooine, after the end of Survivor. They wore grins, though the exhaustion was evident in their eyes. Qui-Gon sighed, still smiling.
He drifted downstairs, going slowly, taking in the sights as if he'd never been in the house before.
"JJ?" he called in the main room of the flat. The place was nearly silent. The only noise came from the closed kitchen.
The ghost made his way there, expecting to find his best mate, JawaJuice, mulling over the daily paper, sipping a mug of coffee.
Instead, Qui-Gon found his former master, Count Dooku, sitting at the kitchen table, a mug of tea before him. The aged master locked gazes with the spectre and for a moment, both froze.
Dooku regained his senses first.
"Padawan," he said, gazing over the floating ghost, "Good of you to return from your hiding." He took a long drink of his tea, rolling his eyes at Qui-Gon.
Qui-Gon bowed his head.
"The 'Spiritual Retreat' was lovely. Thank you for your obvious lack of concern." He went to the cupboards, Force opening them, and drawing out his favourite mug. With an out-stretched hand, he levitated the cup to the counter. He took a seat and poured himself a mug of tea.
"Show-off. That is egregious usage of the Force, my good chap. The Council would have your head." Dooku took a biscuit off the plate before the two. He broke off a small piece and popped it into his mouth.
Qui-Gon gave him a quick grin.
"Since my passing, the Council has little say in my affairs." He tossed his hair back and took a drink. "But, then again, I rarely heeded their advice." His smile faded. He gave a quick sigh, snatching up a biscuit and nibbling the edges. "Hmm," Qui-Gon said, after swallowing a bite of biscuit, "These are good. Are they yours?"
Dooku held the remaining bit of biscuit aloft. "Little Sithy Ginger Snaps." He cocked his head to the side, observing the dead master before him. Holding out his finger, he said, "There is something different about you."
Qui-Gon, in his ethereal form, had not changed whatsoever since the day of his demise. He had chosen to cover his physical formlessness with his poncho from time to time, but he wore the standard Jedi dressings and boots. However, as Dooku had noticed, there was something different about the man.
It took the elder just a mere moment of observation to discern the change. Qui-Gon, as Dooku remembered, was always very mellow, and his manner illustrated it. His posture was slouched, his eyes drowsy, and his speech was slow, filled with sounds of confusion and indecisiveness.
The ghost before him sat erect, showing an air of self confidence. His blue eyes shown, alert and knowing. Each time, he spoke the words were clear and succinct.
The only other time that Dooku had seen Qui-Gon with such grace was when he had taken Obi-Wan as his Padawan. He was focussed and determined at that time.

"You are acting different," Dooku said, pouring himself another cup. "You are conducting yourself as a Jedi Master should."
Qui-Gon gave a chuckle. "I am surprised that you remember how a Master should conduct himself." His tone was mild.
"Ah, my dear boy, I've simply turned to the Dark Side, not succumbed to old age and senility."
"The Dark Side," Qui-Gon echoed, a twinge of sadness in his voice. "Living is easy with eyes closed."
The Count's eyes lit up and his lips curled into a smile. "Misunderstanding all you see," he sung back. His voice was rich and husky.
Qui-Gon looked amazed.
"You remembered!"
"Of course I remembered, Padawan," Dooku said, "Coruscant Fields Forever. Our music wasn't about Light or Dark. It was just the music itself. I even still play from time to time."
Qui-Gon smiled, taking another biscuit. "I never would have imagined. You left us so quickly, I thought you had given everything up from your past."
"You shouldn't have assumed."
Both men fell quiet. Qui-Gon studied the half-eaten biscuit in his hand, whilst Dooku looked out the broad window.
The spectre cleared his breathless throat. His voice was quiet.
"Have you seen my studio?"
"Studio?" Dooku's interest was piqued.
Qui-Gon nodded.
"Yes. JJ designed me a lovely recording studio." He smiled. "It's much better than most of the ones we recorded in years past."
The Count stood. "Wonderful." He gave a stretch.
"Follow me," Qui-Gon said, holding out an intangible hand.
"Wait," the elder stopped the ghost, "I'm still a bit peckish. Care for a brownie?"
At one time, Qui-Gon survived on nothing but his brownies. When he had taken on young Obi-Wan Kenobi, he had ceased his addiction, only indulging on special occasions. After his passing, he had taken up the old habit again, dulling reality. However, whilst he was at his retreat, he fasted. His last brownie had been nearly two months before. Qui-Gon shrugged.
After Dooku had procured his treat from the ice-box, the two went upstairs to the studio. The elder was in awe. His eyes widened and he nearly lost his grip on the plate of brownies.
"This is impressive, old chap." He toured the rows of guitars, tapped the cymbals on several drum kits and gazed at the mixing board. "Most impressive."
Qui-Gon smiled, taking an intangible seat in one of multiple tie-dyed beanbag chairs. "It is a welcome retreat. A place where I can leave behind my fears and focus on my music."
Dooku turned away from Qui-Gon's warm gaze, looking at a Platinum record of theirs hung on the wall. "Unless your fears are here with you."
"How do you mean?" Qui-Gon asked.
The elder turned, gathering a handful of his cloak as it swept behind him. "This is your retreat, unless your fears follow you in."
Qui-Gon gave a sad smile. "You mean my 'Spiritual Retreat'?"
Dooku nodded, taking a seat in a beautifully upholstered chair with wheels on the feet.
"It is true," the spectre said, hanging his head. "I fled when you arrived. I went to Second Banana Heaven and tried to get away from reality by losing myself in meditation. Gabrielle pulled me out of it. I'd have sat there forever, completely shut off to the worlds. Living is easy with eyes closed," he sung, melodiously. "But in the end, I was wrong."
Dooku gently grabbed a brownie, offering the plate to the ghost. Qui-Gon took a square, and the two sat, eating, in wordless silence.
The Count spoke.
"Have you written anything new?"
Qui-Gon gave a melancholy smile. He stood, taking a seat at the piano. "I have. Mind you, I'd been thinking about Obi-Wan when I wrote this." With a touch of the Force, he played a hauntingly sad tune and sung along.

What have I got to do to make you see me
What have I got to do to make you care,
What can I do since life has left me
And you still think that I'm not there?

What have I got to do to make you know me,
What have I got to do to be heard,
What do I say since my time is over?
And sorry seems to be the hardest word.

It's sad (so sad)
It's a sad, sad situation
There is pain, you know that's assured
It's sad (so sad)
I can't seem to get over
Oh it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word.

What have I got to do to make you see me
What have I got to do to make you care,
What can I do since life has left me
What have I got to do?
What have I got to do
When sorry seems to be the hardest word?


He stopped playing, the chords resonating a solemn feeling in the air. He cleared his throat.
"It's not your fault you died, Padawan." Dooku went over to an electric guitar, its black varnish shining under the lighting. He strummed his thumb over the strings and carefully tuned it, saying nothing. Once the pitch was on, he flashed a satisfied grin and plugged into a small amp at his feet.
"Your songs were always so full of emotion, " Dooku said. "Mine on the other hand..." He began to play something fresh. "I call this Sympathy for the Sith Lord."

Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
I've been around for a long long year
Stole many Jedi's soul and faith

I was around when Qui-Gon died
Obi-Wan was just too late
Made damn sure that Qui-Gon
Left Anakin and met his fate

Pleased to meet you
I know you've seen my game
But all that you want
Is someone you can blame

I closely watched the Chosen One
I knew it was time for a change
He killed those Tusken Raiders
Qui-Gon screamed in vain

The highest rank
I commissioned the tanks
When the Clone War raged
And the droid ships sank

Pleased to meet you
I know you've seen my game
But all that you want
Is someone you can blame

I watched with glee
as Naboo's Queen
Fought the Trade Federation
Over their blockade

I shouted out
"Who killed the Younglings?"
When after all
It was you and me

Let me introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
And I laid traps for the Jedi Masters
Who get killed before they reached the fray

Pleased to meet you
I know you've seen my game
But all that you want
Is someone you can blame

Pleased to meet you
I know you've seen my game
But all that you want
Is someone you can blame

Just as every Jedi is a Sith Lord
And all the Sith are saints
As heads is tails
Just call me *coughcough*
'Cause I'm in need of some restraints

So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy and some taste
Use all your well-learned politics
Or I'll start you down Dark Side way

Pleased to meet you
I know you've seen my game
But all that you want
Is someone you can blame

Tell me, baby
What's my name
Tell me, honey
Can ya' guess my name
Tell me, baby
What's my name
I tell you one time
You're to blame


As the Count sung, Qui-Gon's melancholy demeanour faded. He began to tap out the beat on his knee, but half-way into the song, he took up a bass guitar, feeding the rhythm track.
"That," Qui-Gon said, his speech slow, "Was far out, man. Whoa." His eyes were wandering, as he snatched another brownie.
Dooku smiled.
"I concur, my dear boy." He picked out the beginning to Some Jedi To Love. "Do you remember this one?"
Qui-Gon joined in.
Music echoed in the empty flat throughout the night.

20 January, 2006

Returns

The gentle hues of the breaking morning played over the rocks and sand of the meditation garden. The lone occupant sat completely still, as he had been for days on end. Butterflies fluttered around his serene face.
"How long has he been like that?" Gabrielle said, tucking a strand of strawberry blonde hair behind her ear.
Dr. Watson adjusted his spectacles and drained his mug of tea.
"Several weeks, my dear. I dare say, I feel he is lost to us."
The young woman looked crestfallen. "Lost..." she echoed, sadly. "So nothing you've tried has brought him out of the trance?"
The older man clicked his tongue and blushed. "We've not tried anything too invasive."
Gabrielle's concern dropped, anger flashing in her eyes. "You haven't tried anything, have you?" She sighed. "So he's been like this since I left."
Boo Boo the Bear spoke up, "We, uh, didn't want to, uh, bother him, Yogi... Uh, Gabby."
Arthur, the Moth Man, pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "He looked so serene. I d,didn't want to bother him."
"So, did anyone take into account that this has kept him away from his friends for, oh geez, has it been an entire month?" Gabrielle scrubbed her face, in an irritated fashion.
There were several shrugs from the the collected group, others hung their heads.
Gabrielle threw her hands up.
"You know what," she exclaimed, "I'll handle it. You guys go back to drinking banana daquiris." She stormed off with a sigh.
"Golly," Boo Boo said, "I think she's a might pissed, guys."

Gabrielle approached him slowly, taking quiet steps in fear that she might wake him. When she reached his side, she cocked her head looking at his motionless form. She exhaled a small sigh. With a trembling hand, she reached out for his shoulder.
A sudden hand grasped hers. Gentle blue eyes smiled at her.
"Hello Gabrielle," Qui-Gon said.
After the moment of shock had worn off, she shook her head, blinking.
"You scared me!"
"A Jedi is meant to be aware of all things around him in the moment."
Something about his manner had changed. His words were spoken with impeccable grace, unlike his normal idiom, which was slow and were as if the words tripped over themselves.
"Are, are you okay?" She noticed that he was still holding her hand. "You've been out here for a long time."
He released his grasp on her palm. "I am..." There was a pause and a broad smile crossed over his face, "I am fine."
"Do you know how long you've been out here?" There was a touch of concern in the young woman's voice.
He shrugged.
"When you have no need of food or sleep, you can lose track of time."
"A month."
The peace drained away from his face, replaced with disbelief. "A, a month?"
"That's right," she said, laying a gentle hand on his shoulder. "You came right before I left on holiday to the Hall of Heroes to see Xena. You said that you were going to be meditating and for us lot to let you alone." She plucked a tiny white flower at her side. "So we did."
His face paled. "I've been in meditation for an entire month?"
"That's right. You've been away from your friends, your foes and your brownies."
His blue eyes went comically wide. "But I left JJ with a two week supply of brownie mix..."
She nodded. "Which means," she said, continuing his thought, "He's been having to run the show without his partner and best friend."
His slacked mouth drooped into a frown and his shoulders slumped slightly. "How could I have done this?"
Gabrielle wrapped her arm around Qui-Gon in a hug. "Dooku is still there."
"He is?"
She nodded. "Yep, and I know how hard it is for you to have him around."
He blinked at her. "You do?"
"I read the novels. Saw it on holo-vid. Watched the musical." She smiled.
He flashed a ghost of a grin.
"I know I should go back, but what if something has happened? What if everyone is angry that I left? Or they've forgotten me?"
"Do what I do." She plucked a petal from the bloom. "Before you work yourself up and sign in here for a lifetime membership, which we'd love to have you, but still, figure out how you would deal with each thing. First, something bad happening?"
He thought for a moment, plotting out his words. "I would have to deal with whatever it is. Be that Dooku taking over the company or Jar Jar taking over the senate."
Gabrielle laughed. "That wouldn't be bad. That would be terrifying. What if people are angry that you left?"
"I'd have to accept it and work to earn their trust again."
Gabrielle plucked another petal. "That, and you can remind them of that big Survivor cheque you sent out. Now, do you honestly think that they would forget you?"
"I wonder about Obi-Wan sometimes. But, no, I don't think that they'd forget me. Not even Master Yoda."
Gabrielle handed the partially plucked flower to the elder. "So, now, the big question is, how will you handle Dooku?"
Qui-Gon sighed, pulling a white petal off with his big fingers and dropping it into Gabrielle's hair. She giggled and brushed it away. The tiny leaf caught the slight breeze and fluttered to the ground. "I suppose I should let it go. Just because I don't believe that his lifestyle choice is a good one, doesn't make him a bad person."
"It's those killings and limb removals that..." She stopped abruptly. "I'm gonna drop that tangent. What do you both have in common still?"
He thought deeply, running his hand over his beard. "Music. I've wanted to do that reunion concert for quite some time. I just fear that I can no longer trust him. The Sith are dangerous, no matter how familiar the form."
She looked down at the flower in Qui-Gon's large hand. A single petal remained. "Do you think he's all evil? There is no good left in him at all?"
He gazed down, noting the single petal. "Are you sure you aren't a Jedi Master, Gabrielle? This lesson mimics many of the lectures I've given Obi-Wan in the past."
She smiled from ear to ear. "I know. Where do you think I get all my Jedi-like wisdom from?" She reached out and plucked the final white leaf."Are you going to go back?" She got to her feet and offered a hand in assistance."I mean, I'd love for you to stay, and I think Jo Jo would be really stoked too..."
Qui-Gon took Gabrielle's hand and rose. "Thank you, but no. It's taken me a month to forget that bloody Banana Phone song."
Her gentle smile dropped. "Well, then, you might want to leave. Here comes Mr. Ring Ring himself." She pointed out and a few metres away, Jo Jo was walking towards to two, with a tray of yellow drinks in hand.
The Jedi Master swept the young Amazon into a hug.
"Thank you, Gabrielle," he whispered. He, then, flew toward the exit, calling out a fleeting farewell to the Monkey Boy as he passed.
"Banana phone!" Jo Jo yelled back.
"Oh bugger..." The lyrics returned to the Master as he left the gate.