Padme held her sleeping children close to her chest as the pilot in the clumbersome black suit navigated the small ship through an asteroid field. The sound of his breathing apparatus kept her edge, as she glanced askew, from her babies' face to the side of his mask. Was she so desperate to get away from her husband that she'd take off, in the thick of night like an escaped refugee? Had she not only put herself in harm's way but her children too?
Mace Windu turned, the black orbs of his mask seeing only a red tint over her face, and various coordinates measured out before him. It was a sad thing, that he had become. Like Grievous, only weaker, his force powers significantly reduced as a result of the horrible fight with this woman's husband. Now, since his own expulsion from the Order, what did he owe her? Nothing at all. But that part of him, that was still a Jedi, still longed to be a Jedi, would not allow him to seek revenge. Carting her off from her pathologically obsessed husband, was revenge enough.
Padme needed help. And he was there to serve.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"An old friend," he replied. "We go a long way back."
"Strange I don't remember you. I would remember someone like you."
"You would. Were it not for your husband. The man responsible for putting me in this suit."
Padme sighed. "You mentioned an injury after the clone wars before. I suppose, you're a Jedi then."
"Did you sense my troubles with Anakin? How did you know?"
Padme bit back a sob. If there was any truth to what the stranger was telling her, she wondered if she could ever show her face again in public.
"Including Ruwuee," he continued, a menacing hum to his robotic voice.
"He's worried about you. Very worried."
Padme fell into her thoughts, thinking of when she had spoken with him last.
Sometime after her convalescence, she had been cloyingly convinced to reconcile with her husband, Anakin Skywalker, a decision she considered to be the biggest mistake of her life. Had she walked away with her children then, she'd not be in the situation before her now, off travailing the known galaxy with a possible lunatic in a black suit. Somehow, he seemed less threatening than the man who professed to love her so deeply.
Point in case, after guards were installed at their apartment. Somehow, she had been able to convince him to keep them installed out in the corridor and outside of the building. As well as, extending his leash to let her outside of their place, though the guards would go with.
"I'm not doing it to control you," he said. "I'm doing it to protect you."
"That's not what you told me before."
He smacked his lips. "Sometimes, Padme, humor seems to be lost on you."
"Can you blame me?"
"The Separatists are still out there. What better way to get to me, by harming you?"
She sighed, somehow agreeing with him though she knew somewhere deep in her soul that he was doing it out of fear of her leaving him again and not because of some invisible threat. The war was over, everyone knew but still he continued with the pretense that it was not. But if the war was over, then where had he spent the other night?
Padme dismissed the concern.
"Well..." she replied, carrying Leia off to her room... "You can tell your guards to go wtih me, but they'll have to stay out of my way. I mustn't know they're there."
"Fine," he answered, lips tight. Anakin followed her to the children's bedroom, wrapping his arms around her waist. "I have some files coming in from Palpatine's old office, and a few boxes from mine that will stay in the living room with us for a few days."
Padme shrugged. "Fine."
"Don't bother them."
"Who said I would?"
"Just a warning."
She turned, eyebrow lifted looking over her shoulder at him. "Just a warning?" she repeated.
He smiled, recovering. "Not a warning, just a reminder, if you will..."
That's better, she thought.
"Don't worry, I have no interest in them."
And if she did, then she'd go in the boxes. What was he hiding? What was he so afraid of? Her learning that he was as big a dictator as Palpatine himself?
Anakin's lips grazed the side of her face. "I guess I'll see you later."
"Will you be back tonight?"
"Of course. Why wouldn't I be?"
Padme smiled, watching as he walked out.
A short time later, the doorbell buzzed, and an assigned trooper, apparently stationed outside of her door, allowed the visitor inside. A few errand boys from Anakin's office had come with boxes. They sat them, stacking them somewhat high in the corner of the room at her direction. When they were done,\ she looked them over, seeing the curious markings on the side of the box, written in Watto's language. Anakin used Watto's language when he didn't want her to understand something.
Inside, through a little whole in the slot, she could see old papers, filings, and motions probably submitted by the senate. Things he likely vetoed simply because he could.
Padme stood atop a chair, curiously removing one of the boxes. She looked inside, sifting through the files one by one, seeing lists and names of Senators executed by the Jedi following Palpatine's fall, and evem more curiously, another list of senators on the chopping block. The date on this file was fairly recent.
She went through another box, finding various motions and requests, and many of the names from the second list there. All addressed to the Emperor.
Padme sighed, suddenly becoming very depressed. Had Anakin become drunk with power? Hadn't he told her he would slowly restore the government to its former democracy?
Padme found a third box, seeing a set of initials on the side. R.N. She smiled, thinking that her father's initials were the same. She pulled the lid, something guiding her almost by intuition to explore the contents of the box further.
Then she saw it. Piles of letters. Addressed to her. These letters had come in after her injuries on Mustafar. During the time of her convalescence. A swelling of tears touched the corner of her eyes. Padme grabbed the box and ran to her room, slamming the door before any of the troopers could see her.
She sat on her bed and opened each letter, one by one reading.
Please get in contact with us, are you okay?
We're hearing so many things... we heard you were injured, please, comlink us, send a letter, anything..."
Are you being treated well. Please call us, tell us where you are. Your mother is sick.
The letters continued, on and on she read them, her heart stopping on the last one...
I don't know if you're still with us anymore. If you're out there somewhere, please call us. Your mother has died.
My heart is truly broken.
Padme's hands trembled, the rest of her body quaking with anger... and rage. She was close to her family. So close to them and Anakin knew this. At one time, he was close to them to. But to keep their letters... to steal her mail and keep her away from her family when she was ill. She had been told that they were away from Naboo on a trip to the lush outer rim planet Rea. It was excuse after excuse whenever she tried to call. The letters she had given Anakin to delivered apparently had never reached them as well.
Padme sat in the dark, hands resting beneath her chin as she sat on the edge of the bed, letters askew all over the bed. She had given the kids to Colla for the night, fearful of what might happen next. She was certain now that she had no other choice but to leave him. It was too much. The massacre, the destruction of the Republic, the younglings, what happened to her mother.
She didn't even get to say goodbye.
Padme put her face in her hands and wept. Suddenly, the door to her bedroom opened, and Anakin strolled inside, a giftwrapped package in her hand.
"I have something for you," he whispered in the darkness.
With a wave of Anakin's hand the lights turned on. He looked at Padme's darling face, her eyemake up smearing down her cheeks. What was it now? he thought. What? "More freedom"? Not this again. He wanted to relax and have a good night-
Stopping he looked toward the bed at the open box, his face turning two shades of red.
He stalked toward her, throwing the gift aside. "I told you not to go through my boxes!" he yelled. Anakin collected the letters, stuffing them back into the box again.
Padme rose, eyes defiant as she stared into his.
"You kept my family from me."
He stopped, looking over his shoulder at her. "I did what I had to do."
"What you had to do?"
There was a look of infinite hurt in her gaze. "Anakin... according to my father, my mother has died."
His arms fell to his side, his lips tight, a look of horror in his eyes. "They threatened to come here and take you away from me."
Padme walked across the room, moving toward the closet where her clothes had only too recently, been unpacked.
"What do you think your doing?" he asked.
She didn't answer, but reached for one of her suitcases. He rushed behind her, crushing her against the mass of clothing that hung there. She had everything! But she was always so unhappy. Padme was turning into a real ingrate. Why couldn't she just accept his love and be happy?!
Anakin tried pulling the suitcase from her grasp but she pulled back. But with one mighty yank, it was in his hand and she was stumbling back toward the bed. He leaned over her towering.
"I"m sorry about your mother Padme, I really am. But you're not leaving."
Anakin held the suitcase open and ripped it in half. Right from the hinges. She gasped, wiping her tear stained face as she looked on in horror.
Anakin paced the garden. Mistake number 2. How could he ever make this up to her?
Anakin recalled what he had done to Padme. And it grieved him. It was an act of selfishness, in fact, it would have been an act of hate if it weren't for the fact that he loved her so much:
He held the suitcase open and ripped it in half. Right from the hinges. She gasped, wiping her tear stained face as she looked on in horror.
"Running away from your problems won't bring your mother back."
"How can you say that after what happened to you? What happened to you and your mother?"
The question ripped him apart. Anakin hung his head, suddenly ashamed to look at her.
"What will I do without my mother?" she cried.
"You have me," Anakin offered.
Padme shot him down with an evil glare. "You're so..." she stormed off, arms folded before her. Padme threw her body against the soft cushion of the bed.
Anakin sat beside her, laying a hand against her waist. She smacked the hand away, and turned to face him with accusing eyes.
"I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye. Because of you."
He couldn't bear the hurt look in her eyes. What was wrong with him? Did he even know how to love? Why had he done these things to Padme? he wondered.
"You're right," he said, surprising her.
Padme sucked her lip in, batting the tears from her eyes with a fluttering of her lashes.
"I was selfish."
"My father must be devastated. I have to go to him-"
Anakin cringed. "And what? Never come back? Your father's fine, he has Sola with him."
"Who said I was going there for him. Maybe I need him as much as he needs me."
Anakin looked down. But what about me? he wondered.
"After your accident, your parents threatened to come here and take you back to Naboo. I didn't know your mother was sick. I hid the letters because I was scared of losing you."
Padme shook her head. "You're always scared of losing me. And for that, it is very likely that you will."
"If allowing you to go to your father, without the guards will help you forgive me..."
She nodded, drawing close to where he sat on the bed, her hands pinching. She gazed into his eyes. "Oh Anakin, it would help me forgive. It really would."
Anakin pulled Padme into an embrace. "Then go to your father. FIrst thing in the morning."
"You mean it? No guards?"
"No guards. I swear. When I said I'd do anything, and that I'd change, I meant it. I'll even send you in our best and fastest ship."
"No, in the morning," he said. "We have none ready," he lied, cursing himself. Anakin couldn't let her go so quickly. He needed time to prepare himself.
Padme squeezed him tight. "I know you didn't mean to do what you did."
Anakin sighed, his breath in her hair. "Please forgive me," he muttered, suddenly on the brink of tears, squeezing her even harder.
"I do," she said, after a moment. "Although... I'll miss my mother."
"I miss her too," Anakin said. He looked Padme over, his hand circling her thigh.
"Will you hold me?" she asked.
Without hesitation, Anakin pulled her into his arms. His chin rested against her forehead. Then he kissed her face. Padme took solace in his embrace. Though, she realized she shouldn't. He was the very reason she didn't get to see her mother. But for now, he would do. The shock of her mother's death was too heavy in heart to start assigning blame. Padme needed comfort and Anakin was giving it to her.
She tilted her head, looking into his eyes, waiting for him to kiss her. But Anakin, thinking himself a fool for not taking advantage of the moment let the opportunity slip by.
Padme gave him a surprised look, then laid her head against his chest again. He seemed sincere enough.
"You're tense," he noted. Anakin pressed his hands into her shoulder and massaged, putting her tight muscles at ease. Tired, she slunk away from him, laying her head on a pillow. Anakin crouched over her body, his hands rubbing her legs from the ankle up, slowly and methodically.
When he reached the inner part of her thigh, his fingers innocently pressing away, Padme jerked her leg in another direction, a hand reached out to grab his arm, preventing him from moving further.
Anakin gave her a questioning look, and she held his gaze. He then settled himself on the pillow beside her, assuming the massage over as he caressed errant strands of hair from her face, just wanting to be close. He leaned in and kissed her lips. And Padme accepted him.
Her lips parted, as his mouth covered her own. He let his hand slide down the her neck, settling in over her breast, cupping them in his hand one by one. Padme shuddered, eyes closed, truly losing herself to his touch. She didn't want to dwell on her problems at the moment. She wanted escape.
"Right now?" Anakin asked, his lips against hers.
Padme pushed a hand into the folds of his tunic, massaging his chest as she pulled him to her. Anakin unbuckled his pants, hoping to get on with their business before she changed her mind. Soon their clothes were tossed aside. Anakin let his hands slid up her spine to cup the back of her head as he leaned forth to kiss her deeply. He held her there, until Padme's knees slipped apart, allowing him to wedge himself between her thighs.
Anakin's fingers intwined with hers, his elbows resting on the pillows on each side. Her legs shook, just as they always did when they made love... when his strokes were consistent and deep. He thought about children wishing she were pregnant again, though, he assumed, Padme may be inclined to disagree.
Unable to control the shaking of her thighs, Padme rolled over. Anakin curled his body behind her, allowing his phallus to find its way to her from the other side. He wrapped his arms around her waist, palms covering her breast as he stroked. A few minutes later, a wave of pleasure soared through him. With Padme growing tired he allowed himself the comfort of a warm release.
Padme turned her head and kissed his lips... suddenly tired enough to sleep.