John wasn't used to eating survival food.
His nose wrinkled in distain at the half cooked mountain rat the village women had been kind enough to share. His master took another large, nauseatingly bloody bite. Red liquid spurted down the elder's chin, shimmering brightly in the fire light. John took a small, hesitant bite of his.
It tasted like rubbish.
Bile rose in his throat as he placed the mountain rat's carcass back to his plate. The fire crackled nosily as John tried to steady himself by breathing through his nose. Smoke filtered through his lowered guard, sending him into a coughing fit.
He hated Nivek.
"Jedi do not hate, little one."
The boy was certain the Jedi could read his mind.
John pouted at the older man. Sherlock wiped the blood from his chin and motioned for the shivering child to come to him. John obeyed hurriedly and the knight graced him by pulling the child against his side warmly. John snuggled in tightly, desperate for heat, maybe even crisps if he could scam them from Sherlock.
The Jedi held out an open palm with the undercooked meat inside.
"It is a great insult to turn down precious food and prepare it any other way." Sherlock noted John eyeing the fire.
John said nothing as he worked on soften Sherlock's heart. He hid his face in the strong side of his teacher and whimpered. "They didn't teach us how to stomach rubbish, Master."
Sherlock remained silent for only a moment. "Then I will eat it. They did teach you to fast, did they not?"
John glared at the rat and seriously contemplated taking the offer of fasting.
His master pressed the food into his hand for him.
John bit it grudgingly, he made sure to direct the stream of blood in Sherlock's direction. It was redirected with a lazy flick of the Force. John whined at the unfairness of his master's power, Sherlock merely shrugged.
"It is revolting, Master."
"Think of it as a learning exercise, John," Sherlock said quietly. "Never complain about my cooking again."
"I hardly find this lesson fair." John crossed his arms in annoyance.
"It if it makes you feel better, little one, mountain rat do not contain bacteria."
"No, John. I simply thought you would feel comforted in hearing it."
Swiftly John's fingers delved into his pocket and pulled his mini-saber. He singed the bottom of his portion without any villagers noticing and popped it in his mouth. Now it tasted like cooked rubbish.
"Tastes like chiszzk."
John resentfully finished his rat, burning each bit when the villagers weren't looking. Sherlock snickered as John put his saber back into his inner pocket. Keeping the fire close to him, John leaned fully into his teacher. Exhaustion swept through him like flowing water. Sherlock's arm circled him carefully.
A village elder was walking curiously over to the pair. The native people were humanoids and luckily spoke only basic, but still seemed cautious of the off worlders.
Nivek was swarmed with children snatchers, or as they were called on that planet shadow people. Sherlock had volunteered to conduct a search for the missing children. The elders seemed desperate to have their children back When the elders offered him payment he waved it away.
Children were involved.
He needed no payment.
"Jedi?" The elder called Sebastian stepped toward the knight and now sleeping boy. John snored softly against Sherlock's side.
Sherlock quirked an eyebrow as he hoisted John bridal style into his arms. The boy's head lolled into Sherlock's chest, drool dribbled gracelessly down his chin. The nivekian frowned.
"Eddie, you will find my Eddie?"
"I have offered you my help already, Sebastian. That is all I can do until I find more data on these kidnappings."
The elder seemed agitated. "If someone took him," a finger was jabbed at the sleeping child, "would you rest? Would wait until data was found?"
Sherlock glared at him angrily. "Well I would not stall the investigator."
The knight shoved pass him coldly, John balanced in the crook of his elbow. They had been given an average sized hut to sleep in, with only one bed. John hadn't seemed distressed over the thought of sharing a bed. Sherlock padded across the dirt floor, John's bare feet dangled out the side of his master's arms.
The cruel little boy had grown in their three months off Coruscant and refused to wear boots that "pinched" his feet.
Sherlock pulled the flap to their hut open and slid in. John barely stirred as Sherlock lay him on the small bed. Oblivious to the world, but still able to move, John lifted his arms over his head as Sherlock pulled off his soiled tunic. Carefully it was replaced by a larger, cleaner one.
John hummed pleasantly as Sherlock plopped him back onto the bed. He scooted to the left until his back met marsh wall. His teacher pulled off his own tunics and threw them to the floor. He threw himself onto the bed so the boy bounced a few feet above the cot. John giggled fiercely as he rolled onto his master's chest.
"Good night, Master."
"Good night, little one."
Sherlock nipped his padawan's ear gently, John mirrored the affectionate gesture.
Nightmares were so much rarer if Sherlock was with him.
His father was pointing to the black eyed man whose stench reeked of decaying flesh. The toddler looked at his bare feet, his mother's hand felt soft in his own. His father reached down to snatch the small chin. "Dominus," he repeated sternly.
"Dominus," the child said tearfully. The putrid man grinned evilly as the toddler called him "master" in his native tongue. Sherlock peered at his mother, wanting to be picked up. He had done as his father commanded, he had spoken to his father's friend, he had referred to him as "dominus", now he wanted his mother. Sherlock reached for her, but she would not look at him. "Mummy, up please. Thank you."
His mother did not reach for him, she only glanced at his father. "Please, Jovian. One more time, he is my baby." His mother began to cry, Sherlock became mortified at the sight of his mother's tears. His baby plump hand twisted in her skirts.
"Mama, up," the toddler begged. His father frowned at the pair. His weak wife and his weaker son. "Mama," the boy cried again. When neither his mother nor father lifted him he stalked over to the black eyed man. "Dominus, up?" The boy pointed towards his mother.
The evil lord smirked at the boy's request. "No."
"Up." Sherlock stamped his foot.
"Hand me his papers, Jovian. I wish to teach my new pet a lesson." The man leaned closer to Sherlock, who took a frightened step back.
"No!" Sherlock shouted. "Not pet. Sherlock!"
His mother ran to her son and swept him up into her arms. "Hush now, sweetheart."
"Mama," the boy said, relieved. Sherlock lay his dark head on her shoulder. His mother scented him silently.
"Forgive my former mate." Jovian threw the mother of his children a filthy glare. "She forgets we seek my eldest child. My precious Island."
Sherlock whimpered at the mention of his brother. His mother's grip tightened.
"Enough. Give the boy to his dominus," Jovian commanded firmly.
"He can be strong…like his brother before him. Why can't you…"
"Give the boy to his master, Laila."
The woman hesitated. "Sherlock, remember Mummy loves you, okay? If you are ever lonely remember that." She nipped his ear lightly.
"Mama?" The boy's icy blue eyes were so like his father. Sherlock was the very spit of Jovian, but the child's name prevent him from seeing that. She kissed his brow before passing him over to the black eyed man.
"Be very good, Sherlock. Be very good."
Sherlock waved until his father steered his mother away. His new dominus rested a tight hand on the boy's shoulder. Sherlock swallowed hard. "Dom-"
It was the first time he had ever been struck in his life.
John frantically pulled away from sleep and his teacher.
Sherlock received several painful blows to the face and chest, it was he could do to reign the child in.
"John! John! Little one, be still!"
"He hit you! Master, he hit you!"
You're hitting me!
Forcing his mind through his apprentices tightened shields, Sherlock began pressing his will on the child's. Soothing waves tried to caress John's mind, but he would have none of it.
Sherlock was trying hold on to the squirming padawan, but John struggled against him. Limbs were kicking and hitting everywhere, John would not be calmed. Sherlock pressed the small blond head against his shoulder.
"Little one," he said softly. "Little one, we have been over this."
"B-but, you were so small."
Sherlock rocked the child gently, he debated standing but thought better of it. John was already curling into a tiny ball in his arms.
"I was abused, John. But it has passed and we will keep our minds on the present moment. Delete it, little one."
John sniffled into his teacher's neck. "Yes, Master."
Sherlock stroked a calming hand over the boy's back. John was relaxing into him, but his psyche refused to rest. Harsh currents of pain were washing through him. Unsettled thoughts slammed over their bond.
"John, you must sleep."
Sherlock rose with the boy clasped close to him and sought out a traveling bag. John's stomach let out a rumble worthy of a rancor mating call. Silently he withdrew a packet of crisps and broke the seal. John sniffed the air carefully.
"If you accept them it means you will sleep."
John took a salty crisp between his fingers and bit down. His eyes fluttered with joy at the taste of normal food. The bag was devoured in minutes.
"Thank you," John said tiredly.
"Less useless now?"
"Less useless now," John confirmed. "Could be a bit less mean to me."
Sherlock waved the insult away lazily and lay back down with John held close. The boy nestled into his teacher's arms, Sherlock's heart beat knocked gently against his cheek. John smiled at the acknowledgment of life.
"I'm sorry I woke you," John muttered.
"If you are truly sorry go back to sleep." Sherlock stroked his back tenderly, John made a near purring sound. Sherlock snickered softly.
"Master, are the stolen children Force sensitive?" The boy was trying to work out the reasoning behind stealing children. His power of deduction were far less than those of his teacher.
"I don't believe so, John. They are merely sons of great elders in villages."
John poked Sherlock lightly in the chest. "You know who took them, don't you?" John sounded pleased.
"Why do you say that?" Sherlock asked surprised.
"You know everything, Master," John said proudly.
"I simply observe," Sherlock said fondly.
John listened to the cries of different animals outside their hut. Sleep seemed impossible, despite his promise to his master. Sherlock carded a soft hand through his hair, carefully lulling the boy into a feeling of security. Slowly John traced a faded scar across his mentor's chest and snarled softly. The knight rolled onto his side, taking John with him and curled around the small body.
"Tell me about this one."
Lately John had been begging for stories about each one of Sherlock's scars. The knight preferred not to speak of his past, but John was persistent.
A boy looking for a bed time story.
"That one was from Master Dooku," the knight said with his eyes half closed. Many Jedi thought he did not enjoy sleep when the truth was he often craved it. Before John he had slept often, not taking missions that were anything under an eight.
Now with John anything over a seven was not something he wanted the youth accompanying him on.
"He insisted that I was old enough to spare him alone, with saber set to three-fourths their power."
"But that is still powerful enough to kill," John gasped in shock.
"Dull observation, John. Why else do you think it scarred?"
"How old were you?" John tucked his forehead under Sherlock's chin as he often did when tired. Sherlock pondered briefly.
"Hundark," John hissed.
"Padawan," Sherlock warned. He did not mind John insulting a Jedi master, but Huttese swear words were beneath his apprentice. John was too intelligent to have vulgar words on his tongue. But he foresaw the boy knowing a string of swear words in the future.
"So…you were kind of a mama's boy. Weren't you, Master?"
Blast the child to the nine hells.