The Qui-Gon Years
by The Brat Queen
The Sith Academy is the brainchild of Siubhan. Star Wars was the brainchild of George Lucas until he went too far towards the untalented side of the Force. Now we're taking over. So there.
"Bugger... oh bugger bugger bugger!"
Maul, listening to the ongoing sounds of his next-door neighbor, wondered why it wasn't part of the Jedi Code not to interrupt their neighbors, especially when said neighbors were in the middle of elaborate dreams involving small-nosed and big-breasted sorority girls.
Maul sighed, pulling his pillow over his head and trying to think quiet, soothing, Sithly thoughts to send himself back to sleep and back into the arms of his eager harem girls.
One of these days, Maul thought to himself as he breathed in drywall dust, I will kill him. I don't care how good his throat muscles are.
"Oh! Um... hi neighbor!" Obi-Wan said, poking his head through the newly-formed hole in the wall that separated their two apartments. "Did I wake you?"
"No," Maul said, throwing the pillow away and sitting up on his sofa to glare at the pathetic Padawan. "I always sleep with my eyes wide open and my hands clenched into fists."
Obi-Wan frowned. "Really? You know that's a good way to get calluses on your palms."
"I'm sure you'd know all about it," Maul said. He rolled over on the couch, trying in vain to get comfortable again. "Now go away before I feed your hamsters to my trash compactor."
Obi-Wan giggled. "You'd never do that, Maul, and I know it!"
"You're right. If I did that I'd be in severe danger of voiding my warranty. Now go away."
"Right-o!" Obi-Wan said, disappearing back into his apartment again. There was a pause, then the sound of hammers, then another BOOM as another section of the wall came down.
With an easy, casual gesture Maul reached through the new hole, grabbed Obi-Wan by the throat and dragged him through the wall until they were face to face.
"What. Are. You. Doing?" Maul snarled. When there was no answer he took a closer look at Obi-Wan, sighed, then let go of him irritably. "For the love of - stop enjoying this! What are you doing, why are you tearing the wall up, why are you holding a hammer and why, dear God why, are you still in my life?"
Obi-Wan pulled back and clearly tried to compose his thoughts as the barrage of questions went over him, most of them cheerfully sailing over his head and vanishing into the stratosphere. He licked his lips in what Maul felt was a far too distracting manner then finally took a stab at an answer. "I'm renovating the apartment. You know, doing my bit to keep the property values up."
"But you rent."
"Oh yes," Obi-Wan said with a smile, "but I know our landlord is just far too busy to worry about this sort of thing so I like to lend a hand when I can."
"There are forms of life on this planet so microscopically small as to be purely theoretical that have a better-formed grasp of reality than you do, Jedi."
Obi-Wan smile became even brighter. "Thanks! See, Maul, you're just a sweetie aren't you?"
"Sure!" Obi-Wan leaned in, gave Maul a peck on the cheek, then disappeared back to his apartment.
Maul let himself fall back onto the sofa. He took a quick look at his watch. Yes, it was as he suspected. Here it was, three in the afternoon, he'd been only up for an hour and even still he knew it was going to be a long and tedious day ahead of him, especially with the pathetic Padawan continually interrupting his much-needed nap.
Maul gritted his teeth in irritation, ready to throw something - anything - through the hole in an attempt to stop the Padawan when his mind replayed the sounds he'd just heard.
Maul sat up again. "What are you doing now?"
"Look!" Obi-Wan said, holding something up in his hand as though it were a prize. "I found a picture of Master Qui-Gon!"
"I thought I told you to keep your eating habits to yourself."
"It's an interesting picture, isn't it?" Obi-Wan asked. He dusted it off with the sleeve of his robe, studying it carefully. "He's so handsome. Although, you know, I don't think I've seen this one before. Which is funny because if it's not mine why would it be in my wall? But if it's in my wall why wouldn't it be mine?"
Maul folded his arms at the bottom of the hole, resting his head against his hands as he did so. "Are you normally in the habit of putting your pictures into your wall?"
"Well, no, but - "
"Then how could it have gotten there and be yours?"
"Exactly," Obi-Wan said, looking at Maul as though he'd just spoken the greatest secret of the universe.
"Jedi, I'm amazed you're able to dress yourself in the morning on the first try," Maul said. He held out his hand impatiently. "Give me the picture."
Always happy to obey, Obi-Wan handed it over.
By The Black Rose.
Maul gave it a once-over, finding that he was forced to admit the little twit was right - the picture was interesting. It was certainly of Qui-Gon alright, but it was no shot of Qui-Gon he'd ever seen before. The Jedi looked younger, and his hair was longer, and he was wearing clothes that Maul could see even with his eyes closed. "Strange," Maul admitted, reluctantly. "Where was it?"
"Here," Obi-Wan said. He pointed to one of the holes he'd created in the wall, then reached in and began to pull out other things. First was a lava lamp. Then came a peace sticker, beads, violet-colored sunglasses, an extra-large box of condoms, an extremely ratty pair of bell-bottoms, a tie-dyed scarf and, finally, a sitar.
"Wow," Obi-Wan said, taking a look at it all. He looked up at Maul. "Makes you think, doesn't it?"
"Yes," Maul said, "it makes me think that I pay far too much rent for an apartment made up of walls that a dead body could be stuffed in yet still fail to muffle the sound of your latest romp in the sack. I'm going to call the landlord."
"No, no, no!" Obi-Wan said, laughing in that annoying way he had when he thought Maul was joking. "I meant it makes you wonder how it all got here, you know? Hey - if these walls could talk, huh?"
"Never, ever, try to be funny in my presence."
"Oh," Obi-Wan said. He looked down, his blue eyes growing larger and his lower lip beginning to quiver just a little bit.
Maul drummed his fingers irritably against the still-crumbling wall. This lasted about ten seconds before he folded and made his way through the hole and into the other apartment.
If he had to be awake and bothered, at least he could be awake, bothered and on the receiving end of the annoying little Jedi's skilled mouth.
Even still, he had to admit to a bit of idle curiosity about where the tacky souvenirs from the wall came from.
Not that he'd ever admit that to the Padawan, of course.
THIRTY YEARS PRIOR
"Imagine there's no Force... it's easy if you try... no Dark Side below us... and above us only sky..." Qui-Gon Jinn sang under his breath as he walked down the hallway to his apartment. His waist-length hair swayed back and forth as he tried balancing his groceries in one hand, his keys in another and a roll of posters tucked under his arm. He was in a good mood. The local thrift shop was having a sale on bell-bottom pants and hemp tunics. He knew if he could just get down there fast enough he'd be able to get his hands on the perfect outfit for the rally on the Temple green that night. "Imagine all the beings... living for today..."
"Excuse me, neighbor?" a voice said, interrupting his song mid-verse. "But would you mind lowering your voice and never again raising it in my hearing?"
Qui-Gon looked up, then smiled. "Hey, man! Peace. Are you going to the rally tonight?"
Qui-Gon's neighbor, a Republican political square by the name of Palpatine, gave him a thin-lipped smile. "No, Qui-Gon, I am not going to the rally tonight. In fact the very last thing I intend to do is go to the rally tonight even if my reward for doing so was the sight of your dead body."
"Oh no. No, no," Qui-Gon said. He put his groceries down on the floor and unrolled one of the posters to show him. "You've got to go, man. It's like, an ecological rally. We've got to save the planet, man! They say that if we don't act right now in thirty years Coruscant will be nothing except one giant city with no plant life anywhere!"
"Uh-huh," Palpatine said. He shook his head, looking at Qui-Gon with obvious disdain. "Honestly, Qui-Gon, you'll believe anything you hear, don't you? Next you'll be telling me that if we don't pull Republic troops out of the war on Naboo the Gungans and the Naboo will be forced to split the planet in two between the land and the sea!"
Qui-Gon frowned in confusion. "Isn't that your homeworld? Don't you care?"
"I do," Palpatine said, "which is why I support the Republic in all that it does. As should you, Qui-Gon. You know, there's nothing wrong with you that a good haircut and a real job couldn't cure."
"No, man," Qui-Gon said, picking up his groceries and opening his door. "I am not hearing this. I'm leaving, man. You are so messing up my vibes."
Palpatine shook his head. "Do what you will, hippie. But just you wait. Someday you'll see I'm right." With that, and a mysterious smile, Palpatine vanished back into his apartment and shut the door behind him.
Qui-Gon rolled his eyes. "Too trippy," he said as he went into his own apartment to get ready.
A few hours later Qui-Gon was out on the green and ready for a good protest. He'd managed to get to the thrift store in time and had changed out of his earlier clothes into a perfect protester's outfit. Although the store had sold out of hemp clothing he was still able to score a Jedi Army Camouflage jacket, a bullhorn, tie-dyed shorts and a pair of comfortably worn Birkenstocks. He'd finished out the outfit with some flowers in his hair and a hand-painted sign that said "Vegetable Rights and Peace!"
"Hey man, what it is?"
Qui-Gon looked up and high-fived the man who'd spoken. "Hey man, glad you could come. It wouldn't be the same without you."
Sunshine Flower Moon Leo Mace Claudius Windu III returned the high-five then pulled out a pick to adjust the height of his afro. "Wouldn't miss it for the world, my man. We have got to show those Republic pigs that we are not going to take this lying down! Plants gotta live man, plants gotta live."
Qui-Gon nodded, glad his classmate agreed with him. He'd met Mace in his freshman Political Science class back when they'd both first started to go to the University of Berkley at Coruscant and the two of them had been thick as thieves ever since. In fact, Mace had been the one to help him with the successful sit-in and bake sale at the Jedi Temple in order to force the Jedis to serve free range nerf in the cafeteria. "We'll show them this time, just you watch. We will preserve the natural beauty of this planet."
"Amen to that," a new voice said. Qui-Gon and Mace turned around to greet the newcomer.
It was hard to miss him. Even in a crowd, Darth Sidious stood out. This time he was even more obvious than usual. Normally Sidious was dressed in the latest peasant clothing - to better show his sympathy with the plight of the common man - but not now. Now, for some reason, Sidious was dressed in a full-on Jedi Battle uniform.
Qui-Gon frowned. "Sidious, man, what gives with the get-up?"
Sidious, a handsome and well-built man just a few years older than Qui-Gon, waved his hand casually. "Don't worry about it, Qui-Gon. I'll tell you later."
Mace stepped forward, a hard look in his eyes. "That outfit's a real statement to be making at a rally like this, man. I don't suppose you're trying to show your support of the war in Naboo?"
Sidious met him look for look. "I don't suppose it's any of your business, Mace. I suggest that you keep out of this."
"Guys, guys," Qui-Gon said, stepping between the both of them. "This isn't the time. We have got to show those Republic pigs our solidarity. If they see us fighting one another the cause is lost, OK?" He looked back and forth between the both of them until they both backed off. "Good. Now let's just try to maintain, OK?"
"OK," Mace said, grudgingly.
"Fine by me," Sidious said with a smile.
"Good," Qui-Gon said. He stepped back. "Now then, let's focus. Mace, why don't you go get us some of those gas masks and Sidious and I will set up here?"
Mace looked as though he would debate it, but simply shook his head. "OK, man." He fixed Sidious with another glare. "But I'll be back."
"We shall count the moments breathlessly and be moist with anticipation," Sidious said, giving him a little wave good-bye.
With one last glare, Mace went over to the gas mask supply box.
"Sorry about that, man," Qui-Gon said as he began to help with the set up of the barricades. "I don't know what it is with him and you."
"Oh that's easy," Sidious said smoothly, "he's jealous. He thinks that you and I are either having, have had, or intend to have an affair."
"What?" Qui-Gon choked, dropping his sign as a deep flush crept up his neck and to his cheeks.
"Yes," Sidious said, picking the sign up for him and handing it back. "You can tell it just by looking at him." He grinned a secretive grin. "You're very lucky, Qui-Gon. I'd give just about anything to have a man like Mace look at me the way he does you."
Stammering, Qui-Gon bent over the barricades again using them as a way to stall while he tried to think of what to say next.
He had no reason to doubt Sidious. The two of them had met during the rally for the preservation of the Tatooine wetlands. Sidious had been glorious, dressed in an outfit made out of the Republic flag as he stood at the head of the crowd and convinced them all that by encouraging the business of the Hutts Tatooine would never have to worry about drought or poverty again.
Qui-Gon had been unable to keep his eyes off of him.
Later, after the rally, the two of them had gone to a coffee house and spent the entire evening just talking. Sidious had smoked thin black cigarettes and listened patiently while Qui-Gon recited his protest poetry and drank espressos. And after talking with Sidious and listening to his opinions about the civil rights of Dugs, Qui-Gon knew he would follow Sidious anywhere.
But Mace... Qui-Gon looked back in the direction of his friend. He'd never thought about Mace before. At least, not in that way.
"I wouldn't worry about it," Sidious said. He leaned over Qui-Gon to help him lift the heavy barricade into its proper spot. "These things always have a way of working out. Look at Palpatine and his girlfriend."
"Dartha Stewart?" Qui-Gon said. He shook his head. "I can't see what she sees in him. He's such a... a..."
"Square?" Sidious asked, grinning. "Tell me about it. But hey, just try growing up with him!"
Qui-Gon nodded in sympathy. Unbelievable as it was Sidious and Palpatine were related as cousins or brothers or something or other. Truth be told Qui-Gon didn't know the exact details of it and every time he thought about it his mind got fuzzy and he began humming a little song about goblins. But, still, they were family of a sort and Qui-Gon found he could sympathize with Sidious's plight. "Not your fault, man. We can't be blamed for our genes, you know?"
"I know. Anyway," Sidious said, "maybe things would be better if you told Mace about your little... proclivities?"
Qui-Gon's blush got deeper. It was a little-known fact that Qui-Gon, unlike most of his "peace, love, drugs" hippie brethren, was a virgin who had, in his life, consumed nothing stronger than a cappuccino with extra sugar.
"I don't see how people can be having sex and doing drugs when there is suffering in the galaxy!" Qui-Gon said defensively. "I mean like how am I supposed to enjoy something like that when somewhere out there there's a child crying because there's no peace on his world and The Man is coming down on his mom just 'cause she's like a slave or something and the only way he can like make ends meet for himself is to like risk his life day after day just for his Master to feed his belly through gambling and - "
Qui-Gon looked up. "Yeah?"
"You're babbling again."
"Oh. Sorry. Anyway, I just can't. My body is a Temple, man."
"So what's wrong with a little worship?"
Qui-Gon frowned, looking at Sidious closely. "What did you say?"
Sidious grinned. "Oh, nothing. Look, here comes Mace again."
"Good," Qui-Gon said, getting his sign ready. "Then we're ready to start."
"*Disperse in peace you must! Use tear gas on you we will!*"
The voice of Constable Yoda floated out over the crowd as the Republic droids and Jedi Knights lined up in front of the protesters. An appreciative crowd had gathered on the sidelines to watch, take pictures and, if luck was with them, enjoy copious amounts of free drugs and casual sex.
"Never!" Qui-Gon shouted. "The people united will never be defeated!"
"Shouldn't that be 'divided'?" someone beside Qui-Gon asked.
Almost in unison Qui-Gon, Mace and Sidious turned to look at the interloper.
The speaker, a thin and reedy man dressed entirely in black looked back at them. "It scans better. 'United' and 'defeated' don't sound right together, but 'united' and 'divided', on the other hand, form a pleasing sound to the ear and flow far more easily off of the tongue. In fact I believe it was Socrates who once said - "
"Get lost" all three of them cried in unison.
"Honestly," Mace said, shaking his head at the quickly vanishing protester. "The people you meet at these things. Who the Hell was that anyway?"
"Some twerp by the name of Vallorum," Sidious said. "I wouldn't worry about him. Considering the amount of hard drugs he takes just to get up in the morning it's a guarantee he won't go far on this planet or any other."
"I heard he fancies himself a politician," Qui-Gon said.
Sidious laughed bitterly. "Oh yes. I can see it now: he'll get himself a seat in the Senate, rise to power and then burst into political flames once everyone discovers his past as a drug dealer and...." Sidious's voice trailed off.
"Sidious?" Qui-Gon said, prodding his friend a little.
"Hum?" Sidious said, startled. He recovered quickly, giving Qui-Gon a grin. "Oh. Yes. Ahem. Don't mind me, just thinking aloud. Anyway, back to the protest, gents. Die a horrible death, you porcine bastards!"
"Yeah!" Qui-Gon shouted, feeling himself caught up in Sidious's enthusiasm. "Why don't you rot in Hell! Leave us and our plant life alone!"
"Warned you we have," Yoda's voice came over the loudspeaker. "Count to ten we will then unleash the dogs we shall on your hippie asses."
"You wouldn't dare!" Mace shouted.
"He wouldn't dare," Mace repeated confidently to Sidious and Qui-Gon. "Not with all these people watching."
Ten seconds later Mace set the best and still undefeated land-speed record for a humanoid on Coruscant as he ran for his life with three Republic East German Shepherds just a few inches behind him.
"I think perhaps it's time to leave," Sidious said, taking a hold of Qui-Gon's arm and dragging him away from the crowd. "I don't think the Republic is going to hold out its sense of humor much longer about this."
"No!" Qui-Gon said, digging in his heels. "We've got to stay! We've got to protect the plants! We've got - "
A tear gas grenade landed between the both of them.
"THE HELL OUT OF MY WAY!" Qui-Gon shouted, trampling a few of his fellow protesters as he and Sidious ran through the crowd.
A few minutes later and the once pristine Temple green - one of the few remaining spots of Nature on Coruscant - had been turned into a war zone. The Republic cops and Jedis had unleashed their worst on the crowd. All around them was smoke, the sound of sirens and the fallen bodies of their peers - some hurt by flying clumps of mud, others just completely and utterly oblivious to what was going on around them as they writhed in the middle of sexual ecstasy.
Sidious, thinking quickly, found a quiet corner near the Jedi Temple and pulled Qui-Gon into it. The two of them stood close as they hid from the police.
"That was a close one," Qui-Gon said breathlessly. He looked at Sidious. "Now what?"
Sidious pursed his lips, then looked away in a pose of perfect dramatic seriousness which, unbeknownst to Qui-Gon, he'd practiced for hours earlier in his room. "Now, I must leave you."
Sidious looked back at him, his eyes filled with sadness. "Yes. I'm afraid so, Qui-Gon. You see, there's a reason why I'm dressed as I am tonight. I've been drafted. The Republic is forcing me to go to Naboo to fight in the war."
"No!" Qui-Gon gasped. "No! They can't! You're not even registered for selective service!"
"Funny thing, you knowing that," Sidious muttered under his breath before giving Qui-Gon a bright smile. "It doesn't matter, my friend. My government calls me and I must answer. I must do the right thing."
"No!" Qui-Gon said again. "Burn your draft card! Run away to Kahn-ada! Fight the power!"
"Ah, would that I could," Sidious said. "But then what kind of a leader would I be? How could my brothers and sisters in peace look up to me if I ran away? Or if I hid like a coward? No, I must be a man and stand up for my responsibilities even if I do not agree with them. It is the right thing to do."
"Heavy," Qui-Gon said breathlessly.
After a few moments passed with no other words coming out of Qui-Gon's lips, Sidious pressed on.
"So I was thinking," Sidious said, leaning closer to Qui-Gon, "that maybe before I went to try to defeat our Republic enemies from the inside and most likely to die on the field of battle with the song of liberty left unsung in my heart, that you could do me one, little, tiny favor?"
"What?" Qui-Gon asked eagerly. "Anything, man. For you, anything."
A slow smile crept across Sidious's lips. "Oh, Qui-Gon, do you truly mean that?"
"Cross my heart and hope to become Republican."
"Oh, good," Sidious said as he drew Qui-Gon closer and began to lead him through the crowd. "For starters, then, let's go back to my place for a bite to eat. I've got these brownies you've got to try. They are simply to die for..."
The next morning Qui-Gon woke in a haze, feeling as though a rat had crawled into his mouth, set up shop, then perished in a sudden and accidental fire inside of his mouth.
His head hurt too.
He frowned, trying to piece together what had happened the night before. The last thing he remembered was leaving the rally with Sidious and then... then...
Then all he could remember was something about Sidious constantly waving his hand in front of Qui-Gon's face, feeding him these really strange brownies and...
... and something about leather and whipped cream.
Qui-Gon frowned. He didn't even like whipped cream.
He shifted on the bed, realizing as he did so that it wasn't even his. Looking around carefully, he saw that he wasn't even in his apartment although he could swear it looked suspiciously like the apartment of his next-door neighbor, Palpatine.
What he was lying on was familiar, though. It was the Jedi Battle robe that Sidious had been wearing last night.
For some odd reason, Qui-Gon realized that he liked the smell.
Getting out of the bed carefully, Qui-Gon slipped the robe on. Walking over to a mirror he spied more of the brownies on the nightstand and began to nibble one idly.
Not bad, he thought as he saw his reflection. Cut my hair a little, maybe. Wear some basic browns... Heck, if fighting for the Jedi could work for Sidious maybe I can join up and work to defeat them from the inside like he wants to. He slipped his hands into the pockets of the robe, thinking over the idea of how working within the system could help get his goals (And why did his mind keep trying to tell him that Sidious had muttered something about this last night in the middle of all that hand-waving?) when he came across something hard and solid in one of the pockets. Pulling it out he saw it was a bottle of pills. Looking closely he saw that Sidious had written a note on the label.
Try them. They'll help that odd feeling in your throat.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained, Qui-Gon thought. He shook out a couple of pills, swallowed them dry, then found a few moments later that the world was one, very, extremely groovy place to live in.
The feeling stayed with him when, a few moments later, a strange and unbidden impulse sent him looking around the apartment for a medicine cabinet and any other little bottles Sidious might have left on the inside.
After all, if they worked for Sidious they could work for him, right?
"The one thing I wonder," Obi-Wan said as he snuggled into Maul's back, "is what the extra large box of condoms was for."
"Jedi," Maul said, trying once again to cover his ears with a pillow, "there are certain things in life I can live without knowing. What your master would have done with a lava lamp and some condoms is about fifteen of them. Now shut up and let me sleep."
Maul felt Obi-Wan smile against his back. "Does that mean you don't want my special 'lullaby'?"
"Stop putting words in my mouth, Jedi," Maul said, reaching behind him to shove Obi-Wan down lower on the bed. "I said 'let me sleep', not 'let me remain tense and irritable'. You do your thing, I'll do mine."
"Whatever makes you happy, Maul," Obi-Wan said, his petal-soft lips moving down Maul's spine. "Whatever makes you happy."
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