None of the WIPs was working today, including the two prompts I still am working on filling. But I wanted to write something, and... well, this is what came out. Thank you to [Bad username or unknown identity: lferion]
for cheerleading and for the inspiration for the AU in #4.on tumblrFive First Meetings - Finis Valorum & Qui-Gon JinnAU:
A Wealth of Shadows, Last Stand of Valor, We Are Defiance, AU NOS, and Emperor DookuWord Count:
Qui-Gon Jinn, Finis Valorum, Magistar Aridi Karrel, Ruzalk, Dooku, unnamed Senator, ChakelTimeframe:
All of these are when Qui-Gon is 17-25, and Finis of similar age.
A Wealth of Shadows
"And this is Senator Valorum. A promising young man, much like yourself, Knight Jinn."
Qui-Gon keeps a smile on his face from practice under Dooku's watchful eye, though he's increasingly disgruntled by being at this gala. If he weren't certain this was where they needed to be, he'd have suggested to Ruzalk they leave at least an hour ago.
"Knight Jinn." Valorum gives him a practiced politician's smile, bowing slightly in greeting. He turns his head to their host. "Thank you, Magistar, for the introduction."
"Oh, it is nothing." Magistar Karrel smiles brightly and with all the sincerity she's had all night behind it. Qui-Gon isn't certain how she manages to be so enthusiastic after so many hours of absolutely stultifying conversation and constant flitting around to make sure of her guests. "I just think you two will get along splendidly."
Qui-Gon raises an eyebrow, but Magistar Karrel just winks at him before bustling off in a whirl of silks and perfume, already focusing on someone else with a cheerful call of greeting.
"Has she been like that all evening?" Valorum draws Qui-Gon's attention back to him, and the Senator smiles, this time a little more genuinely.
"It is apparently a gift of hers." Qui-Gon shakes his head, a rueful smile on his face. "I'm sorry, I was rude earlier."
"If you've been here for longer than I have, I can't blame you." Valorum keeps a polite smile on his face, but his voice is low, and there's an undercurrent of bored frustration in the Force when Qui-Gon reaches out to sense what the Senator is feeling. Well camoflagued, but still present.
"I believe there's a garden, though I don't know how interesting it is at this time of night."
Valorum chuckles, tilting his head for Qui-Gon to lead the way. "Mostly interesting to those seeking assignations, I'd expect. It could be entertaining to find out who is meeting with who."
Entertaining, and useful. Qui-Gon sends a queary along the bond he's built with Ruzalk, getting back lazy amusement tinged with curiosity. He lets her see his thoughts, the idea that it might be welcome for her to join them, if she wants. He gets back laughter and indulgence, and a sincere lack of desire to interrupt his fun.
Grinning, Qui-Gon leads Valorum out into the gardens, and murmurs to the Senator where to find the first couple to interrupt.
Last Stand of Valor
Qui-Gon blinks at the tall young woman who has attatched herself to his side and grabbed one of his arms to wrap it around her waist. She's very pretty, but he hadn't intended to make any assignations while he was here, and especially not when his Master is somewhere else on the planet waiting for him to do the investigation he can do that Dooku couldn't without looking desperately out of place.
"Just pretend for a little while that you know me. Very well." She smiles up at him, leaning in to kiss him soundly on the lips, and lingers close. "I am going to throttle an idiot if I don't have a distraction, and a Jedi makes for a very safe distraction."
"What makes you think I'm a Jedi?" Qui-Gon keeps his voice as low as possible, though that's barely less than a shout in the noise of the club. He will be very glad to get out of here.
"Even in civvies, you Jedi have this... something." She shrugs, resting her head on his shoulder, and tracing his lips with one finger. It lets her get close enough to his ear that she's not actually shouting.
Qui-Gon leans in to press a quick kiss next to her ear. "I don't even know your name."
"Finis Valorum. Senator's aide, currently wishing my Senator didn't have a taste for loud clubs and pretty young women, preferably those who don't have much choice in letting him paw over them if they want a career in politics." The woman's mouth twists in a wry smile. "As I said, an idiot in need of throttling."
He blinks, and tightens his arm around Valorum's waist. "Qui-Gon Jinn. Your Senator wouldn't happen to be the current one from Lytton Sector?"
"Now how would you guess that?" Valorum nips at his earlobe, and he can feel her vibrating with amusement under his hand. "Let's get out of here. Somewhere quieter, more private."
Qui-Gon doesn't need much encouragement, and he pulls Valorum with him, grinning and giggling, to the exit. The street immediately outside isn't much quieter than inside, but it's not far to a hovercar, and the waiting frown of his Master.
"Finis Valorum, Master Dooku. Master, this is Finis Valorum, senator's aide for the Lytton sector." Qui-Gon slides into the back, drawing Finis with him. "I think you should listen to her."
We Are Defiance
He knows what rises around him, in a deep and rich lapis streaked with silver that creates the impression of great wings and a bird that he remembers in tales from his youth. He never expects to see anything around anyone else, and to see some antlered beast in dappled greens and bronze surrounding a Jedi, of all people... well. Never let it be said Finis Valorum doesn't know when to take a hint.
"Finis Valorum, Senator for the Lytton Sector." He introduces himself as soon as it seems polite to do so, giving the Jedi a smile that's several shades warmer than the politician's smile he gives everyone else.
"Qui-Gon Jinn, Jedi Knight." Qui-Gon is watching him with a curious expression, and Finis glances up slightly, as if to meet the gaze of the creature that surrounds the Jedi. It makes Qui-Gon raise his eyebrows, and smile.
Finis tilts his head to the side, and lets Qui-Gon lead the way to one of the alcoves that line the room for a little extra privacy.
"You can see it, can't you?" Qui-Gon isn't one for diplomatic subtlety, and Finis rather likes that. "No one should be able to."
"I've never seen one around anyone, and never expected to. A politician cannot afford to get close to many people, if they can afford to get close to anyone." He's always heard to see someone's soul is an indication they'll be the deepest love of a person's life, but he'd begun to doubt that when he was still little more than a youngling. "And the rumor is that no Jedi has one, because Jedi have no souls."That
he has never believed, though he's always been curious why that tale is told. Maybe to warn people away from Jedi, to keep them from hoping a Jedi will fall in love with them. At least at home. Here, who knows?
"A carefully cultivated belief." Qui-Gon looks a little uncomfortable saying those words, but whatever the cause, it doesn't stop him. "I've never known anyone outside the Jedi who could see what we hide."
"The will of the Force, perhaps?" Finis shrugs, smiling briefly. "What do the Jedi say about those who see the soul of a person?"
"Of those who aren't Jedi?" Qui-Gon echoes Finis's earlier gesture. "Nothing. Among the Jedi, only that there is a connection between those who see each other."
Qui-Gon has never been off his planet in his life, though there are plenty of chances to leave if he wanted to. He's never wanted to leave, never needed to leave. Now he's driven to leave, and he follows that push, taking passage to another world, one he doesn't recognize the name of. He doesn't need to know that, only needs to know what to do to fix what feels wrong.
Afterward, he's not terribly interested in staying and being cheered for doing what needed done, but the instincts he's trusted all his life say stay, so he does. Uncertain why he's to stay, but this is where he needs to be still, and he hopes it's worth the raucous celebrations that are very different from the quieter things at home.
When officials come from Coreward, he contemplates slipping away for only a moment, before he straightens, lifting his chin as they approach him and those with him.
"Finis Valorum, I was asked to come here to mediate a dispute." Valorum looks over the group Qui-Gon stands with, and a small, wry smile crosses his face. "I see I was mistaken?"
"We did ask for help from the Republic, but the Wizard came sooner." Chakel widens their eyes, their crest puffing up with pride. "There is no more need for a Republic negotiator. You are welcome the night, and to see what the Wizard has done, but you need not worry there shall be too much for you to accomplish."
"I am glad you were able to find assistance, and I apologize for not arriving sooner." Valorum bows his head, spreading his hands politely, before looking up again, studying Qui-Gon. "If it is not too much a burden, I would ask to learn how you managed what I was told would be a very difficult, if not impossible task."
Qui-Gon shrugs, a small smile quirking his lips at the feel of Valorum. He likes how this person feels. "I just did what needed to be done. Nothing more, nothing less."
Valorum smiles, amusement coloring his presence a bright and happy green. "Perhaps we can discuss what was the right thing over dinner, if that is acceptable to you?"
This, or something more, and Qui-Gon thinks he might enjoy whatever something more Valorum might have in mind. He tilts his head, beckoning Valorum to come with him. This should be fun.
He is seventeen, and on his first mission alone while his Master takes personal time. Qui-Gon has no interest in what is probably happening, and he's glad there was something that shouldn't take more than one Senior Padawan. Even if this is making him quite certain he doesn't like politics, no matter how much playing them is important.
"It helps if you imagine them in someone else's robes." A young man - one of the Senators' aides, and Qui-Gon wishes he'd paid a little more attention to the names - has sidled up next to where he's hiding near the buffet table. "At least it's more amusing than listening to them pontificate on nothing."
Qui-Gon slides a look over at the young man, raising an eyebrow. "Aren't you going into politics as a career?"
"Yes." The young man shrugs, picking up a piece of fruit off the table, popping it into his mouth with a small grin. "It means I know what I'm talking about when I say they're pontificating on nothing. More than most politicians, at least the worst of them." He pauses, fishing a handkerchief out of a pocket to wipe his hands before offering one to Qui-Gon. "Finis Valorum."
"Qui-Gon Jinn." Qui-Gon takes the offered hand with a smile of his own. "Jedi Padawan."
"I know." Finis reaches out to gently tug at the end of Qui-Gon's braid. "I studied about the Jedi as well as about who's who in the Senate before I came to Coruscant."
Qui-Gon feels his cheeks heat, and Finis grins at him again, tugging the end of the braid once more.
"How much longer are you supposed to stand here and look decorative?" Finis glances out at the senators and aides and sychophants, drawing Qui-Gon's attention to them as well. They're not nearly so interesting as Finis.
"Until the end of the gala." Qui-Gon keeps from making a face, if only barely.
"I'll stay with you then." Finis grins again, taking a step closer to lean a shoulder against Qui-Gon's a moment. "Come to my place after?"
Qui-Gon blinks and thinks a moment before he nods. "Yes."
He doesn't make it back to the Temple before morning, but it's worth the frowns from some of the Council over his failing to make a report immediately after the Senatorial gala. He smiles to himself after he's shooed out of the Council chamber. Very worth it.