(A little earlier)
John was doing fine for his first mission alone, thank you very much.
The boy stood as tall as his small legs would allow him, his back was as straight as either of his masters' would have been, and he most certainly was not going to scratch the itch that was plaguing his nose. Not even a tiny bit. Clearly he was more than suited for such trials.
The padawan waited for the high lady to enter patiently between his two escorts. Though he wanted to speak and end the uncomfortable silence, Master Mycroft had specifically said not to speak unless spoken to. The boy straightened his back again as he felt his shoulders slump slightly with fatigue. He needed to be as stoic and calm as his master. He took a deep, soothing breath in and gave his nose a small scratch, just a tiny one.
One of the maidens above him smiled softly and passed him a small fruit from the table. John accepted it gracefully and bowed in thanks, he didn't understand why everyone tried to feed him things though. Even Master was bantha nutso about feeding at least three meals a day. Mycroft had mentioned it a few times, and Sherlock nearly bit his head off for it.
John slipped the fruit in his pocket, Mycroft had specifically said not to eat until the High Lady had taken her first bite. John folded his hands in his sleeves and continued his most patient waiting. Master really should buy him a treat after this, he was being really good after all. And Mycroft had insisted John not eat dessert, so they both owed him one.
The same maiden knelt in front of him slowly. John smiled at her as she took his hand lightly. "How old are you, sweetheart?" she asked gently.
"Nine," John said brightly, "and a half." Well almost a half…well not really, but Master wasn't there to call his bluff.
The maiden hummed thoughtfully. "I was most certain you were at least eleven."
John puffed his chest a bit more, most people thought he was six or seven, certainly not any number above his real age. It was nice to be thought of as an adult for once.
The maiden rose once more as the trumpets blared for the entrance of the High Lady. John bowed in synch with his escorts and did not straighten his back until a light hand touched his head. He grinned up at the High Lady as she nodded down at him.
"It is good to see you have such impressive manners, young one," she said almost tenderly.
John cocked his head slightly. "Master Mycroft taught me," he said carefully, giving the older master the credit, because honestly the only Gorian "manners" Sherlock had taught him was an offensive hand gesture that made Mycroft flush scarlet. "He's amazing at manners."
Well except for recently. John bowed his head a bit, Mycroft hadn't even said goodbye to him. The hand was back in his hair, encouraging to rise his gaze once more. The High Lady even surprised him by running a soft hand over his ear as Sherlock did sometimes. Fondness shown in her eyes.
"Do you care very much about Mycroft," she asked lightly.
John flushed straight to his ears. "Er…him and Master…Master and he…yes ma'am."
"I thought it was very much forbidden to have attachment as a Jedi," she motioned him to the grand table, where an even grander feast had been laid. John's mouth watered as the High Lady sat down elegantly.
"It's…complicated," John said, feeling stupid as he did so. Loving Sherlock was one thing, Sherlock was raising him as his own, but loving Mycroft had very much been an accident. John hadn't even realized it until Mycroft was teaching him how to reach the depths of the pools without drowning.
"Little Jedi, why are you still standing?" the nice maiden asked.
"Oh!" John shook away his thoughts. "Sorry ma'am, my lady, but Master Mycroft says I can't sit without the High Lady's say so."
The High Lady looked deeply amused for only a moment before something dark crossed her face. She motioned for him to be seated. John felt a wave of unease settle over him as he seated himself across from his hostess. The Force rippled in warning, repeating Mycroft and Sherlock's earlier instructions: avoid the desserts.
Food was placed in front of him in a high pile. Meats, breads, cheeses, and fruits were all displayed before him, John picked up a meat pie with complete glee. However he did wait for the high lady to take her first few bites before he began to delve into his own, Mycroft would have been proud. Master would have snorted at John's eagerness to eat even though they were all technically still in danger. John slowed his eating slightly and glanced around the table. Mycroft's favorite fruit sat not two dishes down, and the red fruit that Sherlock had bought every time they crossed it was right next to it. John swallowed the lump in his throat.
Sherlock thought John was still slow sometimes, but the padawan had noticed Sherlock attempting to shorten his portions of food so John could have more. What the knight hadn't realized was that it evened out because Mycroft had been giving some of his portions to Sherlock. Both masters must have been hungry while John was stuffing his face. The thought caused the boy stopped eating entirely.
"I hope you do not mind, I have another guest arriving shortly," the lady said almost happily, not bothering to notice John's discomfort. The padawan remained silent, pondering quietly what to say next. The High Lady looked at him expectantly, as though waiting for a pet to do a trick. "Eat more, little Jedi. I promise not to inform your master if you decide to only eat desserts."
"Uh…that's okay," John said quietly. His heart beat heavily in his chest as he played with the corner of his meat pie. It didn't seem fair that neither master had been invited to the banquet. "Can I-? May I ask a question?"
"Of course," the Lady said cautiously.
"Wouldn't you rather speak to a Jedi master than me?" John blurted. "I mean…"
"You mean why did I decline your companions company?"
John blushed. "Yes ma'am."
"Males," the Lady said thoughtfully, "used to make the final decisions of our planet. Females had little or no say, even over our own children. So the women with a certain…prowess, decided to take matters into their own hands. We formed our own government and became far superior to the males'."
John hesitated. "According to Master Mycroft you scare the chisszk out of boys."
The Lady smirked and took a long drink from her glass. "You should have sought our help first, my little ambassador."
John reflected silently for a moment. "Mycroft didn't think you'd talk to him..."
"Correct, as High Lady I do not speak to adult males. Aside from my youngest child and his guardian," the Lady said delicately.
"Oh," John said quietly. Well that certainly didn't seem fair, but John knew better than to accuse the Lady of such misdeeds. Instead he pondered quietly, staring into the depths of his meat pie. "So you've got kids?" John tried hesitantly.
The Lady nodded solemnly. "Two boys."
John wrinkled his nose after a moment. How could a person of two sons, but not want to talk to boys? His thoughts were accidentally released into the Force, a force of habit he grown used to for Sherlock would usually sense his question and answer. The High Lady tilted her own head thoughtfully, before slowly taking another drink from her cup.
"My children were taken from me at a very young age," she explained quietly. "Men allowed my children to be taken from their mother".
John flinched inwardly at thought of his own master being taken from his mother. Sherlock rarely spoke of his imprisonment with Moriarty, and John did not press him. Slowly, uncertainly, John nodded.
"My master, he got taken away from his mother too," John said coldly. The instinct to allow hatred to dictate his speech grew, but the young Jedi snuffed out as his master had taught him. "The separatist took him from his home when he was just a kid. They made him do things, really terrible things that he won't talk about. Not with anyone…" John's voice trailed away as he tried desperately to fight of tears.
"He got rescued by the Jedi, but he was still hurt. Psychologically Master never really recovered, physically too, he's got lots of scars, but I worry more about when he cries out in his sleep than those." John wiped snot from under his nose. "That's why we want you to side with the Republic, ma'am. Not for another planet to fight with in the war, but so your kids don't have to go through what my master did. Separatist need an army, and they've been stealing padawans…they'd probably come after your kids too." John, forgetting everything Mycroft taught him, blew his nose on his sleeve. "Jedi are meant to protect people."
The Lady looked taken aback by John's sudden speech. John raised his glass to his lips, unsure of where to look. He wasn't entirely sure if it was a good or bad thing, but at least the Lady looked like she were considering what he had said. Slowly she nodded to herself. "I wish I could believe that the Jedi offer equal protection to all, little one. But it was my children's own father failed to protect them, letting one be taken by the Jedi and another by the Sith. If I cannot trust his protection why should I trust yours?"
The young Jedi choked and sputtered on his drink, causing some of the frothy liquid to rise up his nose and slosh inelegantly over the rim. Horrified John met the Gorian elder's eyes with trepidation, his hand around the cup shook. Blue eyes stared back at him.
Ice blue eyes.
Ice blue eyes, speckled with bits of gold that had the power to make him fall silent or call him to heel. His master's eyes. Mycroft's eyes.
"Wizard," the boy muttered inwardly, at once pressing down on Sherlock's half of the bond. Sherlock hushed John softly, the urgency of his own situation bled through. John yielded, he could wait to share his discovery. While Mycroft had mentioned his father working on the high council, John seriously doubted he knew about his mother.
"May I ask your sons' names," John asked, seeking confirmation. If the Lady didn't know about Master or Mycroft…but the Lady had said she had spoken to her youngest. Master Sherlock had never spoken of talking to his mother again. Sherlock had grown to look up to Grandpa Lestrade as a parent, he had not needed his mother. Had he?
The Lady's eyes twinkled dangerously. "No, little Jedi. That is not information you require."
"My apologies," John said cautiously. "But I-"
Perhaps he would reveal his thoughts and sway the Lady into at least speaking with Sherlock. The knight would be a better diplomat than John, a nine year old could not compete with the wisdom of a Jedi knight. Surely she would rather-
A group of maidens pushed open the large dining room halls, a tall, dark figure stood in the center of their crowd as they strode the high lady with grace. John felt frustration at the interruption, but sat quietly as the women parted to reveal their new guest. The figure strode forward slowly and knelt slowly at the Lady's feet, bowing his head low. He was dressed completely in black, a cape of similar cloth hid his lengthy frame beneath it.
"Mother," he said, using the deep voice that had often lured John to sleep or chided him when he was being reckless. Though this version sounded far colder and far less likely to tell stories to make a child sleep.
"Sherlock," the Lady said tenderly, resting a hand on the slicked back hair where curls should have sat. "I have missed you, my son."
"And I you," the Sherlock doppelganger said while raising his head.
Blood red eyes with a dark tint turned to John in slow fashion, making the child's blood turn cold. "I see you have a guest, Mother."
Disgusted, enraged, and in complete terror John reached for his Sherlock across their shared bond.