"Time it is perhaps, to train a new apprentice" Master Yoda said.
Master T'ra Saa sat across from the small Jedi master in his meditation chamber. Combined, the age of the two Masters predated the Hyperspace Wars. Master Saa had even heard some of the younglings jest that they were among the first Jedi to ever live. It was not true of course, but the last years had been especially long for the venerable master and her feelings for Master Tholme had shaken her deeply. In all her centuries-long life, never had the master felt such confusion. The depth of what she felt conflicted with the Order's most sacred vows, yet she could not deny her own heart. The bond between her and Tholme pushed the limits of the Jedi code, still, she did not regret a single day of their time together.
"Thank you Master Yoda, but I am not seeking to train anyone for the time being." she replied.
"Hmm, yes. Worried for Master Tholme, you are. Thoughts of him, cloud your focus." the diminutive master's head tilted to one side, his green eyes creased keenly; he had an uncanny way of reading those around him, Saa thought. A bittersweet smile curled her lips, "Yes, it would seem so."
Yoda rose slowly and walked to the door, his gnarled cane clicking the floor with each step. Saa followed. The two spoke briefly on galactic events; Trade Federation dealings, rim-world disputes and rumors of Republic secessionists. Master Saa heard whispers of the same during her travels but dismissed them as rumors. Now it seemed there was more truth to them than she had first suspected. Tholme had once told her a thousand whispers could quell a roar; and now sadly, the galaxy only whispered of war.
It was a war the Jedi were ill-equipped for, Saa thought. As galactic stability decreased, so did the Jedi's numbers. Masters were being encouraged to train new Padawans to meet Republic needs, but task was neither quick or easy. Saa had taken many Padawans in her lifetime and had enjoyed the experience, briefly recalling many times how she felt more like the student rather than the teacher; but thoughts of training were the furthest thing from her mind. Current thoughts belonged to one person. After weeks in meditation attempting to sort her feelings, she had finally come to a decision. She must leave the Order. A small price to pay when measured against her feelings for Tholme. She had returned to Jedi temple with the intention of speaking with Master Yoda about her decision; though presently, it was proving harder than she realized.
The two proceeded through the vaulted corridors of the Jedi temple. Dark marble walls cut with cream veins funneled Republic citizens towards their destinations. Given the concentration of people, the space was relatively quiet; hushed conversations of diplomats, ambassadors, and senators echoed softly throughout the airy chamber. Force sensitive children clutched by hopeful parents stood in line seeking entrance to the council; while other servants of the Republic busied themselves with the day to day administrative tasks that allowed their beloved society to function. In one room, Master Saa glanced students sitting cross-legged while their teacher discussed philosophy and yet in another, younglings deflected low-powered blaster fire from a hovering training remote. She smiled, as memories of her own training came to mind. By the stars, she missed this place.
More than once, the pair of masters received more than an idle glance from onlookers. Yoda, green-skinned and hunched, coaxed his ancient bones down the hall with aid of his cane, while the exotic Master Saa flowed effortlessly beside him. Saa was Neti, an arboreal shape-shifting species, rare within the galaxy, and even more so within the halls of the Jedi. It was no wonder so many stopped and stared. She was as strange as she was beautiful with thick bark-flesh tresses framing her yellow-green eyes and full lips. She drank in her surroundings, relishing the sensation of so many lives in motion. The last few years of her life had been lonely, scouring the outer rim, tracking down leads to scum-filled hovels and dives. They would have been unbearable had it not been for Tholme.
The two continued on, pushing passed the public areas deeper into the temple sanctuaries. Centuries of life had worn away the masters' sharper impulses to fill the silence with idle chat. They strode on, comfortable in their mutual silence.
The familiar hum of saber training became more evident as they continued to walk. Master T'ra looked around, they were in the exercise wing of the Temple.
"Why do I think it's no coincidence we ended up in the youngling training halls?" Master T'ra smirked at her companion.
"Training halls, are we? Wrong turn, I must have taken," Master Yoda chuckled, making a sorry display of appearing lost, the affectation made Master Saa smile.
The two emerged from a hallway onto a terrace high above the training floor. It was similar to where her master had chosen her as a Padawan centuries before. A lot had changed, but so much had not. Saa looked on the apprentices below and smiled despite herself. They were in the midst of practicing their first lightsaber stances. A few knights walked between the rows of students, studying their form. A few straightened arms, checked grips, or corrected posture as they passed by. None of the students would have taken a master yet, Saa knew they were still being groomed into the Order. It would take years for some to adapt, if ever; and those that did become Jedi would probably never draw their lightsabers in battle. Most would serve the Republic as diplomats, scientists, artists, or even keepers of knowledge; all of which were just as respected as those that fought for peace. Those unable to adjust would be sent back to their homeworlds for the life of a Jedi was not an easy one, Master Saa knew all too well.
"Strong in the force, some of the younglings are, though much to learn, they still have." Yoda curled his hands over the gnarled end of his walking stick. "If only an experienced master we had, to train them" the little master looked up to see if the sentiment was not lost on her.
"Indeed." Saa said, disinterested. Persistent as ever. Yoda would never command anyone to take a Padawan, it simply was not his way, but she could not shake the feeling Yoda's insistence had more to do with galactic happenings than he cared to admit. She dismissed the thought and turned her attention back to the students below. Saa could sense flickers of fear, pride and excitement, they infused the air like the aromatic bouquet of her home world.
"Indeed." Master T'ra repeated silently to herself.
"Master Yoda, always so good to have you with us. We've been expecting you," Master Sedonis said in a honeyed voice from below. He either did not see or chose not to acknowledge Master Saa. The form master was an older man, a human from Corellia, Saa believed. She vaguely remembered him when he was but a youngling himself through his thinning brown hair and pinched face took a few seconds to recognize. She did not know the trainer personally, only by reputation. The son of an influential family which held deep ties with Jedi. She vaguely recalled a small scandal surrounding Sedonis' appointment as lead trainer. Word had it, Sedonis' family had the ear of the Chancellor and used their considerable influence to gain him the position. The distinction accompanying such a title was held in high regard among the noble circles and it was an honor his family were willing to go to great lengths to obtain. The council rarely succumbed to senate influence, especially when it came to internal affairs, but even the Jedi were not totally immune to the vicissitudes of politics.
Sedonis strolled casually between the rows of force sensitive children. Their lightsabers hummed, but Saa knew they were set to low power for training purposes. The harshest wound they had to fear were the occasional welt or stern rebuke from Sedonis. She imagined most would have preferred the welts.
Saa did not need the force to sense the man's pride. He walked from student to student inspecting their form with a critical eye. More than once the master jerked a wrist, yanked a shoulder or prodded an elbow, forcibly correcting their stance. Master Yoda watched intently, the pronounced furrows on this face deepened, but remained silent.
The trainer looked up toward the balcony and said, "I informed the class of your visit and have scheduled a few duels on your behalf," he said with a low bow. "The youngling you wanted to see will face the best students our class has to offer, one of which I trained personally." You would make a fine spice oil salesmen, Saa thought. Sedonis spread his hands aside, the gesture caused the students to scurry to the edge of the mat. They sat quietly, eyes trained on Sedonis expectantly.
"Without further delay." Sedonis pointed to a slender Rodian with large purple eyes. "Apprentice Uvan to the center, and...." he scanned the floor intently, then pointed to another youngling "...our esteemed guest, Windu from Haruun Kal."
Master Saa had heard rumors about a Korunnian unusually strong in the force from the toxic jungle world of Haruun Kal. Yoda confirmed her suspicions quietly. Apparently, the boy had been recruited by the Order after his parents died in the poison marshes near the surface of the planet.
Dark-skinned and hairless, like most from his tribe, the boy rose as his name was called. He could not have been any older than twelve standard years. So young, Saa thought. The boy approached the Rodian at the center of the floor, his face unreadable. He was a head shorter than Uvan and still bore the plain garb of a youngling. Uvan was clad in the traditional dark brown doublet of an apprentice, indicating a higher level of mastery in saber training. The match would be a difficult one for the Korunnian child.
"You know the exercise. First one to suffer a fatal strike or pushed off the mat is defeated. Understood?" Sedonis asked. Both students nodded. He backed away and raised his hand.
Uvan wasted no time, unsheathing his blade a second before striking. Mace fended off the blow at the last second, stepping back. Uvan pressed, raining blow after blow on the young apprentice forcing him to backpedal. The two traded strikes, but Windu was losing ground. Uvan held little back for defense, which almost gave Mace an opening. A deft riposte by the Korunnian slowed Uvan's advance, but within a second he had recovered and continued his onslaught. Windu inched closer toward the side of the mat, his foot nearly at the edge, desperately turning the Rodian's strikes at the last possible moments. Saa knew it would be over soon if he did gain the offensive. Sensing the end as well, Uvan carelessly swung low, hoping to either clip the youngling's legs or force him off the mat entirely. The gambit would have worked...had he been there. A breath before the attack landed, Mace had leaped into the air, landing squarely behind the Rodian, sending him over the side of the mat with a kick. Uvan lay sprawled, faced down. A few of the students looked to each other, with eyebrows raised. The Rodian rose slowly, rubbing his back and looking more than a little confused. Mace picked up Uvan's dropped practice saber as he walked over to the defeated Rodian. He extended a hand, helped him to his feet and handed the saber back to him.
"Thanks" Uvan replied.
"Don't mention it."
Sedonis came to the center of the floor, his pinched features betraying little of the surprise he actually felt.
"Impressive," he said offhandedly. Master Saa looked at Master Yoda, wondering if the wizened Master had sensed the disturbance in the force as she had.
"Master, I sensed...something, right before the end of the match. By all accounts, the youngling should have lost..." she was still trying to make sense of scene below.
"Mmmm. Saw what was going to happen, before it occured. A rare gift, the youngling has" Yoda chuckled knowingly to himself. "Strong in the force, he is."
Uvan made his way to the side of the mat as Sedonis stepped forward again, Windu stood silently in the center of the floor next to the trainer.
"Well done, youngling. Well done." Master Sedonis remarked. Sedonis motioned to another apprentice on the far side of the exercise floor.
A Nautilan approached the center of the mat and bowed gracefully to the Korunain boy. Master Sedonis projected his voice so that it would reach Master Yoda and Master Saa on the balcony above though his words were directed at Mace. "This is Apprentice Fisto though he is not my Padawan, I have had the pleasure of training him personally. You'll find he's a bit more...strategic, than your last opponent."
The young Nautillan stepped forward, most of his head tresses were bound in the back, though a few cascaded over his shoulder. His voice was clear and confident, "I see you are a worthy opponent. I will endeavor to be the same." Fisto bowed once, then stepped back and ignited his blade. A smile spread across his face in anticipation of the duel. It was an odd expression given the circumstance though it was without malice. Saa believed the Nautillian would wear that smile until his dying day.
Mace stood face to face opposite Fisto, not only in position but in demeanor. Windu's stern visage hardly registered the apprentice as he approached. He bowed slightly before his blade flared to life.
"Begin." Master Sedonis said.
Kit Fisto was as patient as Uvan was eager. The two duelists circled each other like Akk dogs, both measuring the other, searching for slightest weakness. Mace broke the silence with a flurry, sending a feint thrust to the Nautillan's chest, followed by a rapid swipe to the face, but Kit saw the feint for what it was. He side-stepped the strike and responded with a thrust of his own, the blade had almost struck Windu's heart, but the youngling parried the blow at the last moment. The two retreated to their respective sides of the practice mat for a few moments, neither wanting to fully engage the other, each taking into account what they learned from the exchange. They circled again, this time both more cautious and weary of the other.
Windu launched forward again, hoping to catch the Nautilan off guard, but he proved too fast. Mace's every strike was met by Kit's unflinching saber. The blades swirled around each in complex patterns that belied their nascent training, both talented beyond their years. Though Saa saw the youngling's frustration increasing and his attacks becoming more reckless as the challenge wore on. She sensed flashes of white-hot anger as each of Mace's attacks were turned away by the more patient and cunning Nautilan. The boy's emotions had unbalanced him. It was a flaw his master would have to address if he ever hoped to become a Jedi Knight.
Apprentice Fist sensed the youngling's impatience as well and shifted to a defensive stance waiting for the opening that was sure to come.
And then he saw it.
In a move born of desperation, Mace swung boldly for Kit's neck, but the swing carried too much momentum. The slash pulled Mace around, exposing his back to the Nautilan. Kit sensed his chance and charged in; though he failed to see the ploy until it was too late. Windu's lightsaber completed its wild arc, but the saber turned sharply at the last second, emerging off his hip. Mace's blade was leveled directly at Kit's chest. He was not even facing the Nautilan when the final blow landed. The duel was over.
Kit rubbed the top of his head in bewilderment, then flashed his signature smile and bowed deeply to the youngling. "You are far more skilled than your age would suggest, young Mace." Kit's smile spread. "I've never met anyone that fights as you do," he turned to the edge of the mat then stopped and added "but do not become full of yourself friend. We will duel again, and you will not be so lucky next time."
"There is no such thing as luck, only the force," Windu said. "And besides..." he flashed a wry grin of his own, "I'm a fast learner."
Saa exhaled deeply, not realizing she had held her breath during the entire duel, now that it was over she relaxed.
"A connection to the youngling, you feel?" Yoda prompted peering up at the Neti.
"My only concern is for fair competition. Sedonis obviously wants to embarrass the youngling. Every challenge so far has been with a more experienced apprentice." Master Saa's voice revealed more frustration than she had wanted.
"And yet, the youngling prevails," Yoda noted. "Interesting Padawan, he would make," Yoda remarked with a point of his stubby finger.
"Master Yoda, there is something I wanted to discuss with you. It is rather important." Saa said. Her chest tightened. She took a few practice breaths forcing herself to calm down. "I fear I won't be taking a Padawans now, or ever, because...well I've decided to..." her words were drowned out by Sedonis' shout from below.
"Most impressive." Sedonis blared. A murmur swept across the gathering of apprentices surrounding the training mat. Fisto was one of the most promising students Sedonis had ever seen, it was the reason he'd chosen to train him personally. Had it not been for the council's denial, he would have taken the Nautilan as a Padawan long ago. Reprisal no doubt for his appointment as form trainer. As it was, he had to settle for one on one sessions. The fact that he had just been defeated soundly by an unrefined brute was unthinkable.
"Mace. It is Mace, is it not?" Sedonis condescended.
The dark skinned boy's glare was his only reply.
"Mace," the name rolled off Sedonis' tongue as if he could not be rid of the taste soon enough, "how...appropriate," he said under his breath. "Perhaps you would care to try your skill against someone more experienced?" he asked.
Windu looked around the practice area, his eyes hard as stone. Some of the younger students dared not meet his gaze. The trainer's cloying voice pulled Mace's attention back from his fellow apprentices.
"You hold promise, of that there is little doubt. But do not forget your place, young Windu." The old Corellian's eyes burned. "I have trained hundreds of Jedi over the years and every one of them have tasted defeat before they left these halls. It is a fact every Jedi must face, and it is a lesson you must be acquainted with." The trainer strolled casually before the boy, hands clasped behind his back. He was enjoying this. "Only by facing insurmountable odds are Jedi truly defined. It is what allows us to meet the ever increasing needs of the Republic. Wouldn't you agree?" the Correlian man stopped mid-stride in front of the Mace and tossed his cloak off to the side. Mace looked at the old man as if seeing him for the first time.
"Come, young Windu. Your next challenger - is me." Sedonis said.
Training matches between master and Padawan learners were common, encouraged in fact; but a formal duel between a youngling and form trainer was unprecedented.
"Where's he going with this?" Master Saa asked, relieved for the interruption.
"Curious, his training technique is." Yoda said though his gruff voice held an edge of concern. He walked toward the nearby stair case leading down to the floor. "Come, have a closer look we will."
"There is no shame in loss of course." Sedonis was still addressing Windu as Master Saa and Yoda made their way to the floor. "I have completed my trials and have honorably served the Order since before you were born. And while I admire your..." he searched for an appropriate euphemism, "...tenacity. You are too reliant on improvisation." The trainer waved his hand indicating the students surrounding the mat. "This might serve you well in duels with those relatively unversed in lightsaber combat, however, I assure you it will not hold up against someone who is." Sedonis chuckled adding, "You simply cannot make up your own lightsaber form to suit you, young Windu."
"Perhaps it is the force that guides his movements," Saa said as she and Yoda approached Sedonis in the center of the floor.
Saa had met Sedonis' type before. There were many Jedi that honorably dedicated their lives to training others, but some made the mistake of elevating scholastics above application. She was beginning to suspect he was the sort. He undoubted excelled at dueling in a controlled environment, she was sure of that, but training had its limitations. It was the very reason Padawan accompanied their masters on assignment. What passed for technique in the classroom did not always translate into actual practice; improvisation had saved her life more than once.
"Perhaps." the Correllian allowed. "But if the force truly guides him as you say, then what harm could there be in a duel?"
A few of the apprentices closest to Mace and Sedonis shifted uncomfortably, the tension in the room becoming palpable. Master Saa already knew the outcome of the duel. The youngling was talented, but he stood no chance defeating a form master. The knowledge did not keep her from secretly hoping however.
Yoda looked on in silence, allowing events to unfold as they did. Had there truly been any harm in the situation, he would have addressed it, Saa thought. Still, the impropriety of the challenge was beyond reason, she was about to protest further when Mace said evenly "I accept."
The boy's eyes had not left the Sedonis' since he began speaking. Whatever conflict there was between him and the trainer, finally came to a head at that moment. Saa stepped forward to intervene when Yoda placed a clawed hand gently on her arm.
"Let go, you must." Yoda's soft voice cut through her thoughts.
"Let go of your feelings. Face his own challenges, the youngling will." Yoda turned from the practice floor and looked at her intently. The master's guileless eyes shown large and bright in the small space, his words soft yet deliberate, "Train ourselves to let go of everything we fear to lose, the Jedi do. Attachment leads to fear, fear leads to anger. The Jedi way, this is not." The wizened master never mentioned Tholme by name, but Saa knew different. Her thoughts had betrayed her, whether Yoda knew the extent of her intentions, she could not say, only that Yoda wanted her to reconsider. For her sake and that of the Order's, she would.
She stepped back to the edge of the mat, giving them room.
Mace appeared majestic, jaw set, face determined. Despite the vast difference in years between them, Saa from that moment on saw the boy as an equal. He reminded her of Tholme, proud, stubborn. She knew there would be no changing his mind even if she had wanted to.
The two stepped toward each other, their blades hummed menacingly in the tight silence. Without warning, the two met saber to saber. Sedonis' green blade slammed against Windu's, holding fast. Where the blades intersected, jagged sounds of the energy induction flared loudly. Sedonis pushed the youngling back, breaking the stalemate, then placed his left hand behind his back adopting a dueling stance. Mace held his saber over his head, elbows bent, circling the old man warily, eyes locked on the Corellian. Sedonis sent three thrusts in rapid succession, merely probing the youngling's guard. Mace deflected the first, and dodged the last two though his footing was unsure. Mace was not as engaged as he had been in the previous two duels, exertion from the previous duels was finally catching up with him. His movements were slower and more hesitant than before. The trainer's form on the other hand, became more and more extravagant as the duel continued. Saa noted a few points in which Sedonis could have finished it, but he was intentionally prolonging the fight. He was savoring it. His green saber swirled like liquid neon, thwarting Mace's attacks before they even took shape. Sedonis, finally tired of battering his prey, disarmed Windu and sent his saber clattering onto the floor with a twist of his wrist.
Sedonis stepped forward slowly, leveling his saber at the boy.
"Do you yield?" he asked calmly.
Mace tensed. His face burned and his breath came in ragged gasps. Hot waves of anger flowed through him like lava. He tried to breathe deep, but swells threatened to break his calm. The master was about to ask again when Yoda's gravely voice interrupted.
"Again, the youngling will try."
Shock registered across the old Corellian's face for a second then returned to its usual look of arrogance.
"Master Yoda, I fail to see what another challenge would accomplish. Did you not see the duel? I'm fairly certain the outcome will be the same." Sedonis said sheathing his lightsaber with flourish.
"Then nothing to fear, you have." Yoda responded. Sedonis chewed his lip, as if mulling something over in his mind then gave a half-hearted bow to the Master Yoda. "As you wish, Master."
"A word, with the youngling first - I will have." Yoda turned and stepped gingerly off the raised practice floor.
"Of course, by all means." Sedonis replied.
Mace followed the stooped master off the exercise floor. Saa could sense the youngling's anger though it had cooled a bit.
"Fought well, you have." Yoda's eyes brightened as Mace approached.
Mace paused a moment, unsure how to address the master, then bowed awkwardly.
"Thank you, Master Yoda."
"Fight better, you can. Hold back, you should not." Yoda's words were an observation, not a question.
Mace shifted uncomfortably under the master's scrutiny. "I'm not holding back. Master Sedonis is too fast. He's a Jedi Knight, I'm not even a Padawan. How can I be expected to win?" Mace was still unable to meet the master Jedi's gaze.
"Believe that, and defeat him you cannot."
He nodded to Yoda though his eyes were still cast downward. Saa could sense Yoda's words had not sunk in.
"You see things sometimes, don't you?" Saa asked.
"Yes. You see things before they happen. Like your fight with the Rodian. You knew what he was going to do, didn't you?
The boy finally looked up, but shame darkened his features. "I can't help it. I know it's cheating, but it just happens. I try not to use it when I fight, but I can't help it."
"Mace, the force is strong with you. For those that have the talent to see, it can even show them things before they happen. There is no shame in using your gift, youngling. Some Jedi train for years and are not able to see as you do."
"I've seen you too Master T'ra" Mace's voice was barely above a whisper. "Your hair was longer, though. We were fighting together. I was protecting you."
Saa felt as if the air had been sucked out of her. Pinpricks dotted her skin, but she forced herself to focus on the moment. "What you see is a possible future. One of many. I can...show you how to focus your gift if you would like."
The boy nodded.
"First, I want you to show Master Sedonis what you can really do." Saa smiled.
He nodded again, and for the first and last time Saa would ever see, he smiled.
Sedonis placed one hand at the small of his back and ignited his saber. Mace took his place in front of him. Certainty lined young Mace's features where doubt had clouded them before. He's ready this time, Saa thought. They faced each other, then Sedonis crossed the length between them with three long strides and thrust directly for Windu's heart. He wanted to end this quickly. Their sabers twisted, countered and swung with the speed of thought, their weapons no longer constructs, but instruments of their will an extension of their desires. The students could hardly follow the movements. Mace countered easily, weaving subtle ripostes, his reaction time doubled by his ability to sense his opponents moves through the force. Now it was Sedonis' frustration that worked against him. Elegant advances became brutish thrusts, flourish replaced by utilitarian force. Still the master was not to be taken lightly. Sedonis met Mace's blade with inside parry, then flicked his wrist outward, attempting to wrench Mace's saber away again. Lacking the technique to nullify the disarm, his training saber clattered on the mat only a few feet away, but it might have been in another star system as far as Mace was concerned. Between him and his weapon stood Sedonis, grinning.
The tip of Sedonis' saber pointed at the youngling's neck, Mace had nowhere to turn.
"It seems the force is not as strong in you as Master Yoda believes," Sedonis said under his breath. "It's over." Sedonis said, mustering himself for the final blow.
"I don't think so."
The youngling extended his arm, calling the practice saber to his hand. The hilt slid between the master's legs into the youngling's readily awaiting grip. Just as form trainer's blade came down to finish Windu, he caught the blade with an inside parry, then flicked his wrist outward wrenching the master's saber from his hand, following through with a graceful chop to the master's neck. The saber stopped an inch from Sedonis's neck.
"Told you I'm a fast learner."
Muffled gasps and whispers came from around the class.
Sedonis had lost.
"Watch your elbow. Make sure your weight is on your back foot. Good, good." Mace knelt next to a young Tourgan holding a short practice saber. Her orange face twisted in concentration, her horns no more than two colorful striped white and blue nubs atop her head. Saa couldn't help but think the boy had grown since the last she'd seen him. He looked up noticing her approach, "Master Yoda, Master Saa." Mace bowed. Saa extended her visit on Courscant for a few more days to discuss something important with Master Yoda, she said she would return for him when it was time. "Find a new role for Sedonis, the Order will." Yoda said to Saa as they walked up.
"Well Padawan, I see you duties find you well." Master Saa said.
Mace bowed before the woman. The young boy's face returned to the stern mask she had seen before.
"I still feel like what I did was cheating somehow." Mace said in a low voice. He motioned for the youngling to practice on her own for a bit. She bounded off aways, green saber in hand.
"Lightsaber training this is, yes?" Yoda gestured around the room. "Mistaken Sedonis was, who the teacher and who the students were. Mmmm? To continue to seek knowledge, and learn. Grow one must, or die they will." Yoda smiled.
Mace bowed to the little master before him.
"With enough training, you might find yourself training younglings one day, or perhaps sitting on the council with Master Yoda himself." Saa added.
Mace Windu cracked a wry smile at the thought. It was a possibility to be sure, after all, he'd already seen it.