Greg wasn't deaf.
His master was mumbling obscene, rude comments under his breath as the young knight scouted ahead of the others. His sight was keen on detecting the Sith, he wanted to spot him first. There was a bit of glory in it, but to be fair he also wanted to put an end to this war.
His former master called him to attention, but the silver haired knight brushed him off. "Not your padawan anymore." He said brusquely, he hadn't been a padawan for six years. Greg began edging towards the outer rim of the forest when rough hands seized him around the scruff of the neck. The young knight hissed.
"You may not be mine anymore, but you will obey my orders. Is that understood?"
Greg was not a child to be scolded anymore, he was no longer desperately in search of his master's rare approval.
The other Jedi literally called the old man, Master Chief.
"I understand, Master." Greg mumbled tiredly. "I am merely asking that you do not treat me as your learner anymore. I am capable…"
"Of getting yourself in trouble." The elder master smarted. Greg winced at the old man's words. If it were up to his master, even at the age of thirty-one standard years, Greg would still be a padawan learner.
Greg nodded evenly. "Yes, Master. Forgive my outburst, Master." Greg mumbled. The older man had enforced a still obedience in the young knight in his first years of apprenticeship. The torturing pressure let up at the base of the knight's neck. He stumbled away from his former master until he was in a clearing. He tried to swallow his anger at the old man, the elder had raised him, Greg should have been gratefully.
Aside from the countless self-esteem issues, Greg had turned out alright.
Greg stuffed his hands in the pockets of his outer tunics. The old master treated him as incompetent child, the young Jedi was rated in the top ten of the upcoming knights. What more did the master want from him? Greg kicked a rock aside with a huff of anger.
It clanked against nothingness.
And kicked another rock.
Another clank against nothing.
Greg grinned fiercely.
Qui Gon Jinn, get over here.
Sherlock gazed at himself in the mirror.
He was completely dressed in black at his master's order. An old light saber hung at his hip, the legendary Bane's light saber, apparently. His hair was greased back, and he had dark black cargo pants as well as a muscle shirt. Sherlock glared at the black muscle shirt. It was stupid, really. He was ten and not properly fed, there were no muscles to show off.
Sherlock touched the light saber at his hip.
He could escape now.
If he really tried, he could get free.
"You look so cute, Sherlock." His master's voice sang from the doorway. The child stiffened.
"And you look like something the rancor spat out, Master." Sherlock mumbled hatefully. Moriarty reached forward and snatched the child's chin his hand. Sherlock knew better than to struggle, he could be a smart arse to his heart's content, but to physically struggle was punishable by brutality.
"Sherlock, Sherlock, apple of my eye." Moriarty released the chin with a small shove. Sherlock looked away painfully. He hated the way Moriarty towered above him, one day the boy would have the opportunity to kill the Sith. "You will lead the alpha team against the Jedi in the north. Keep them at bay and meet with me once they are dead."
"I need at least twenty minutes to secure all the crystals."
"Wouldn't it be more efficient to leave more soldiers in your cause, Master?"
Moriarty cracked the child across the jaw. Sherlock barely flinched, compared to normal the punishing hit had been a gentle swat. Moriarty chuckled. "I want as many Jedi to die as possible, Sherlock. And with your gift they may just throw themselves on your saber."
"Yes, Master." Sherlock said bitterly.
"Go." His owner shoved him into a dimly lit hall. A ten year old sent out to kill Jedi knights and masters.
Sherlock rolled his eyes as he found his way outside the base.
Sherlock was protecting Rica.
His eight year old counterpart was swinging an unpracticed spear at an incoming knight, the female knight merely cut the spear in two and grinned. Sherlock lunged at her viscously, he disarmed the surprised knight with ease. He shoved Rica behind him.
"Not without you, fur face!" The girl smirked defiantly.
"Insufferable woman!" Sherlock ducked under the green light saber and shoved his friend aside. "Rica go find Moran, tell him to bring more forces this way."
Rica nodded and scuttled away to obey him. The ten year old swallowed hard as another knight and another boy came into view. He steadied his shaking light saber only to have it swatted away by the knight with grey hair.
No, not knight.
The master with the grey hair.
Sherlock swore as a small amount of urine leaked down his leg. He was a ten year old boy, he couldn't stand up to a Jedi master. The older boy frowned down at the young child.
"He just pissed himself! All these attackers are kids, Master. Why…?"
"To prevent us from wanting to attack them, young one." The female knight scolded sternly. "Except most of their eyes are red." She leaned towards the dark hair child, Sherlock clenched his jaw firmly. She raised the hilt of her light saber and cracked it across the child's forehead, swinging it around dramatically she landed a strong blow to his wrist. Sherlock hardly flinched. "Son of a Sith's whore."
"My master hits harder than that." Sherlock tried to snarl, but merely managed a squeak. He wished they'd just kill him. He took a deep breath in and reached for the dark side. "Leave me alone." He said calmly, the Force washed through him and immediately the knight and padawan began to retreat.
The grey haired master snatched the boy's wrist in a bone crushing grasp. Sherlock yelped in pain as the broken bones cracked farther. The grey haired master picked up the curved light saber of Lord Bane. "A Sith's apprentice. How interesting?"
Sherlock felt the front of his black shirt being grasped in a knurled hand. The boy growled audibly at the grey haired man.
The grey haired master smiled as he pulled the boy's pants down and located the child's brand burned into the top of his thigh. Sherlock felt himself growing sicker in the master's hand.
"I shall have fun interrogating you, boy."
Sherlock wondered if getting captured counted as running away.
His master always looked for reasons to punish him, no doubt this would be one of worst beatings in his life. Sherlock buried his head in his knees and whimpered. He didn't care, he could be sad when no one was watching.
Ignoring the pain in his broken wrist Sherlock pulled out his reed pipes, the only thing he had every owned. His head continued to ache as he gave a soft blow into the corner. The steady playing of his pipes soothed him.
Until the dull thud of a medical kit was set down.
Sherlock whipped his pipes into their usual hiding spot and snarled fiercely. "If you come any closer…I will bite you. I mean it. You're already limping, I can take you." Sherlock noted the small dragging noise and the eagerness the stranger had to sit down.
The strange man was chuckling. "Shut up, kid. I'm not here to hurt you." He scooted closer to the boy, Sherlock bared his teeth. "How did you know I was limping?"
Sherlock snorted. The man was clearly stupid, any idiot could tell the man was limping. Sherlock informed him of such and finished with his favorite swear word. He brought his gaze up to glare at the stranger, if he was going to be beaten he wanted to see it coming.
The man flinched.
Friendly brown eyes were narrowing at Sherlock's head wound, the stranger's face looked young and tanned, but his hair was silver. Sherlock narrowed his own eyes at the Jedi knight.
"Hundark? Ouch. How old are you, kid? You seem younger than the others." The man sounded patient, but indifferent. Sherlock gave him a surprised look.
"None of your damn…"
"Oh for the love of Force, shut up if you don't want to talk. You have the right to be silent you know?"
Sherlock's spirit crumbled.
There was the cruelty he had grown used to.
He glared down at his dirtied feet, wishing for boots or a shirt. Anything to get the stranger to stop staring at him. "What kind of interrogator tells their victim to shut up? No wonder you haven't made the rank of master yet, silver haired hundark." Anyone with silver hair in the Jedi organization should have been a master.
To Sherlock's great surprise the man chuckled warmly. "I was born with silver hair, despicable one. I am only thirty-one." He showed the boy the bandages. "If I unlock your wrists will you hit me in the nose?"
"At least you're honest." The stranger allowed Sherlock to watch the broad hands at all times, so the child was not scared of being hit. Sherlock decided against striking the Jedi's nose. "Thank you for not knocking my head off." He said kindly.
Sherlock threw a halfhearted, "not interesting enough" insult at the stranger. The truth was he was secretly intrigued by the kindness of the man. The silver haired man grinned.
"Oh no?" The knight huffed indignantly. "I bet you twenty Republic credits I can get you to let me clean your head wound with this thumb." The stranger held up his right thumb temptingly. "I love me a good gamble. What do you say, kid?"
The boy tilted his head curiously. "That's illogical." It wasn't possible to detain someone with a mere thumb.
The stranger gave an infectious lopsided grin. "Then you've got nothing to worry about."
Sherlock shot him a skeptical look. The stranger frowned slightly.
"First tell me how old you are. I already told you my age, fair trade and all."
The boy scowled. "I'm ten."
"Ten? Force that's old. Pretty soon you'll have hair like mine." The stranger shook his short hair. Sherlock nearly smiled back at the tall Jedi. The elder's face softened.
"Think you could just let me clean that instead of making me force you?" He pointed at the head wound cautiously.
"You just don't want to lose the bet." The boy said shortly.
The silver haired man frowned. "Alright, I'll prove it first." He sighed and pressed his thumb under the child's jawline with slight pressure until the boy was pinned against the wall. "Try to move."
Sherlock wiggled under the firm pressure. Pins and needles shot down the child's slender neck and into his injured wrist. Sherlock let an odd whimpering sound, he froze with horror.
"You've made you point." The child snapped in pain. He couldn't believe how poorly he felt. Being defeated by a thumb, how embarrassing? The elder seemed to be pondering, friendly brown eyes gleamed mischievously at him.
"Would you like to try it?" The hands cleaning the boy's wounds froze.
The child was stunned.
Was the Jedi giving him permission to attack?
"The move I mean. Want to give it a shot, Curly?" He stopped applying medicine and looked into the child's confused blue eyes. Sherlock squirmed slightly at the new nickname, it wasn't an insult. It almost sound affectionate. Slowly, ever so slowly, the boy nodded. "Come 'ere. Hold out your legs, that's it."
Sherlock was free, free and able to attack the Jedi, who had put his guard completely down. "Alright ready?"
Sherlock held out his thumb nervously. Surely the Jedi would change his mind, surely it was a trick for the Jedi to beat him with cause, surely…
The thumb was carefully guided to the sensitive skin below the jaw line. "Alright light pressure, if you put on too much I'll just turn my head and get away." The boy obeyed him until the knight's cheek was pressed deep into the wall. He grinned down at the boy. "See."
Sherlock was stunned. He met no resistance, no hatred, the stupid knight was actually beaming at him. The child released him, his wrist throbbed. "Um…could you…" He held out his wrist pathetically.
"Course." The Jedi knelt in front of the child with a small smile. Sherlock resisted the childish urge to hug the adult, it was stupid, idiotic. The knight was removing his robe and drawing it across the boy's slender shoulders. Sherlock bit down a sob.
"You're kind?" Sherlock wrapped himself in the robe tighter, the cold was bitter in the cell. Sherlock had spent two nights shivering and praying for warmth.
"I try. I try to teach compassion as well as feel it." The child's arm was finally wrapped in strong bandages, the pain subsided slightly. The knight held on to the wrist gently.
"Even for Siths?" The child's voice was barely a whisper. At any moment the knight would surely realize his mistake of kindness and slap the boy in some way. Beat him, yell at him, maybe even whip him. Sherlock trembled harder.
"Curly…you don't seem dark to me. Any man who has chosen dark, can choose light again if he is not fully dark."
"I am though. I am dark. The Sith's only padawan." Sherlock cursed himself for declaring his evil to the knight.
"Young one, in here the force does not exist. Dark and light are not present here. There is a man and a child. And the elder always protects the younger." He spoke gently and firmly at the same time. Sherlock leaned closer to him. "When you walk out of this cell you can choose to accept dark once more, or you can come into the light." He pulled out a small packet of water from the medical pack. "Drink."
If anyone else had ordered him the water would have been spat back into the handsome face, but the kindness in the knight's eyes drove the child to drink it all. Slowly, unsurely the boy asked for more.
His request was granted. "Slower this time, kid. Are those your pipes?"
"Yes…"Sherlock nursed his water, unwilling to talk of his pipes. "I don't think you were supposed to give me water. I think they want to keep me weak so I couldn't escape."
He glanced at the stranger. He knew he had tugged on the right heart strings, the knight even growled angrily, perhaps he could get the knight outside the cell and force the elder to let him go.
"Why do you say that?"
Sherlock explained that for two days he had been locked up and had not been fed nor given water. His stomach groaned in hunger, the knight's face grew dark. The child wanted to shy away, but he also wanted the knight to smile again.
He didn't understand why the kind smile had felt so nice. The stranger's eyes lit up, his laugh lines became deeper, and his aura became that of a kind man.
"It's not the Order." The child could tell what the stranger thought by the look in the older man's eyes. "It's the guards." Sherlock stared at his feet as he remembered hearing them eating food that was supposed to be for him. He gripped his broken wrist tighter.
"Young one…" The voice was so gentle. The child didn't know voices could become gentle in such a way, he leaned towards it. "Who broke your arm?"
"It happened on the battle…" The boy began lying instantly. He had no idea why he was protecting his captors, but the friendly knight seemed aggravated at the thought of one of his companions hurting a Sith.
"Don't lie, kid. Jedi don't lie."
"The lady guard." He said at last. "She called me a son of a Sith whore." Sherlock's stomach churned at his childish tone of voice, for the first time in years he was close to tears. One look at the knight's friendly brown eyes and the tears spilt over his lids. The silver haired man wiped his tears away with a rag.
What sort of man was this?
"My name is Sherlock by the way."
"Sherlock." The man let it roll off his tongue, he seemed to smile slightly. "That's interesting."
"My master wanted me to change it, but…" Sherlock looked pleadingly at the Jedi. He liked his name, it was his. It may have been meant as an insult, but it was still his name. Darth Ravenous sounded stupid anyway.
"Your master is a fool for wanting to change a unique name." The elder scowled. He looked at the cell's door angrily. "Sherlock, tell me truthfully son, did you want to be the Sith's padawan?"
"Why?" The boy demanded. He felt fear creep into his heart. Of course he hadn't wanted to. His father had sold him to find information on his older brother's location.
"Tell me." The response was firm.
"No." The child said coldly. "I didn't want those crystals to touch me, so I lied and told him I was dark already. He made me prove it…but I couldn't…I couldn't…you saw the others, how they reacted."
"How did you prove it, curly one?"
The boy shook his head viciously, there was no way he would share his past with a man he just met. And his master would surely find out if Sherlock shared how to fight him. "No."
"Don't ask, 'cause I won't answer." The child snarled. "I couldn't…the crystal makes you think things, Master. Terrible things, it takes away my mind, and I can't think straight. All I could think about was hatred and evil…He made me hold it because I wouldn't hurt the others…" Sherlock trembled violent as he remember how the ruby had burnt his skin and scarred him.
"Sherlock, Sherlock." The knight laid calming hands on Sherlock's thin shoulders. "Breathe deeply, okay?"
Sherlock shuddered fiercely. He had called the silver haired man "master", even though the Jedi could never be his teacher.
"You need to relax. I am proud of you for telling me the truth, Curly. I needed to hear that you were not dark before I could help you."
"Weren't you listening?!" The child shrieked. "I told you I was dark, idiot!"
When the Jedi pulled the boy against his chest, Sherlock faltered. The knight swept the boy into his arms, Sherlock felt his cheek press against the knight's strong torso. The elder wrapped the child in his robe.
"Stay completely still, understand? I will get your pipes."
"Yes." The child murmured. "This is against your rules, is it not?"
"Dull." The Jedi smiled at the child. The young knight bent over the child's corner and was disgusted as the smell of feces and urine hit his nose. Sherlock squirmed in embarrassment, the master most have felt his soiled pants the moment they stood up. He passed Sherlock his reed pipes and gave him a warm smile before moving fluidly to the exit.
The Jedi pounded on the door and claimed Sherlock ill as well as barely breathing.
The boy wrinkled his nose. "I thought Jedi didn't lie?"
"You are sick are you not? And if you hold your breath a little I wouldn't be lying." When the knight winked Sherlock knew he could not kill the elder, nor take away his free will. He pressed his cheek deeper into the chest. The knight shouldered the door and the guard that had eaten his food soared backwards. The Jedi snickered. "Whoops."
The elder shushed him gently, but the boy could hardly contain his laughter. He smothered his amusement against the knight's stomach.
The Jedi was swift in his movements and nearly rocked Sherlock to sleep as they arrived in the large quarters. The jolt of the door woke the child from his near sleep and Sherlock wiggled to be put down as the knight shut the door. The burns on his feet screamed as his rescuer put him down.
"Nice." He mumbled.
"Clean. Not here often?"
"Hardly ever here." The master confirmed.
Sherlock tried to take in the knight's friendly face nonchalantly, but was quickly discovered. The boy blushed and turned away. A callused hand reached down, catching the chin in a firm grasp. Sherlock braced to see hateful black eye and nearly cried with relief when he saw calm brown. The boy whimpered. "What's going to happen to me now?"
"You're going to stay with me, do you accept that?"
"You mean do I accept the light, don't you?" The boy tried to look away, but Greg held his chin firmly. Why couldn't the kind man understand? He could never choose the light…not with the brand on his leg.
The child sniveled. "You don't want me, don't be foolish. I am a Sith…"
"Not if you don't want to be, kid."
Sherlock's chin was released. Surely the Jedi was fooling him, surely he wanted information on his Sith master, surely the knight wanted to beat the boy, surely Sherlock didn't care.
He threw himself against the knight's strong leg and clung to him. He silently begged the Jedi not to push him aside.
"I don't wanna be dark anymore. I hate it, I hate it, sir. Please, can I stay with you?" He sobbed.
"Course you can, kid." The knight stroked the child's sensitive skin around the soft neck. Sherlock hummed quietly at the first gentle touches he had received since young childhood, there was a tender tug on his ear. The friendly man hoisted the little boy into his arms and placed him upon a counter.
Sherlock was served tea.
"I-I never caught your name."
"Gregory Lestrade." The knight, Lestrade, held out his hand for the child to shake, Sherlock's soft skin met a calloused hand. The knight knelt before the child, his fingers quickly began wrapping the infected burns on the tiny feet. Sherlock hiccupped at the sight of the knight bowing before a Sith. "Don't." He squeaked so softly the man didn't hear him.
Sherlock took a steady breath in. "Will you be my teacher, Gregory Lestrade?"
"I'd like to be, curly one." The knight smiled. Lestrade motioned for him to finish his tea, and Sherlock was surprised with obedience. He gave a small hiccup.
"My master would not allow it. He'll come looking for me. He will." The boy started to cry again. He hated himself for crying so much, but Lestrade merely waited for him to finish. No one had ever shown him such kindness.
"I will not let him take you, kid. Not if you want to stay with me." The knight said firmly. He pulled the child into his arms, he rubbed the little boy's back comfortingly. Sherlock seemed to wither into his chest. "You could be my padawan. If you haven't bonded with the Sith."
"I haven't." The boy cried. "He wasn't my teacher, he owned me. That's what the term "master" meant to him."
"I'd like to be your teacher, Sherlock."
The child allowed himself to melt into the elder's warmth, he felt as though every move he made, he made on egg shells. No one could be that kind, no one ever was that kind. But as the knight lay the small boy on his chest and fed him a sweet tasting fruit, Sherlock nearly wept again.
"Good?" The Jedi asked gently.
"Mmhmm." The child hummed. He ate his fill happily, unconsciously he began pocketing his left overs. Lestrade noticed and shook him carefully.
"For later." The boy defended. His fingers began stuffing the pieces in his undergarments because he had no pockets, they slid in easily next to his reed pipes. "Where I come from you're lucky if you get feed more than once a week. It's instinct to scrounge."
"Little one, you don't need to scrounge anymore." He held out his hand for the extra pieces of fruit, Sherlock grudgingly gave it to him.
Little one? No one had ever called him that before.
He liked it.