Padme stormed into Chancellor Palpatine's office unannounced, her burgandy senatorial robe flowing behind her like a flag of discontent. Two armed redrobes standing near the door tried blocking her path, but she slipped under their guard and approached the chancellor's desk. The two guards made a move to pursue, but with a raise of Palpatine's hand, they were remanded back to their posts.
"Yes, Senator Amidala, good to see you, dear. What can I do for you today? Please...please, have a seat," he said in a kindly voice.
"Chancellor, I understand the indictment against Senator Sien has been dropped."
"Ah... now, indeed I understand your haste in coming here unannounced," he answered in a crispy voice. "Unfortunately, I had no other choice due to insufficient evidence."
"With all due respect, it wasn't your decision. It was for the courts to decide. But I understand you pardoned him of all charges. I can't help but feel..."
Palpatine waved a hand. "If I may be so bold, Senator Amidala. But, as you are aware, I am good friends with your - friend, Anakin Skywalker."
"Yes-Yes, about that-"
"Well, after reading the Council's report, I realized the situation might have reflected badly on him. I understand he is to become a full Jedi Knight... and I felt it more prudent to sweep the matter under the rug entirely. To avoid the inevitable scandal and all - you know how the gossip mongers are. I've been a victim more than once of their lies, and I couldn't have them besmirching your good name, nor that of my friend. You understand, don't you?" He gave her a kindly old smile.
"I suppose...when you put it that way."
"Good. I was hoping you would. Please accept my apologies, perhaps I might have told you what I planned to do before the charges were dropped."
Padme twisted her hands in her lap. "You meant well. I should leave."
Palpatine gave her a warm smile. "Of course, my dear. Is there anything else I might do for you?"
"No, thank you, and I apologize for the interruption. I know you are a very busy man."
"No apologies necessary."
Padme stood and walked toward the door and waited for the redguards to move their batons so that she might pass through. The warm kindly smile on Palpatine's face turned to frost.
A shadow behind a curtain near the window mutated. Cobra Sien walked across the room, taking Padme's seat on the other side of the Chancellor's desk.
"Well done, my boy..." Palpatine said. "Your future in the senate has been solidified and your rewards will be manifold."
"Thank you, sir."
Palpatine gave him a sadistic smile. "I sense... however, you're holding something back? Have you and Senator Amidala-"
Sien blushed. "It was only a kiss. Not a particularly welcomed, kiss... she seems wholly dedicated to Skywalker."
"That will change in time," said Palpatine, coldly. "Skywalker was persistent. You will be even more persistent than he. Skywalker will be so distraught, that he will leave the Order."
"He already has, sir. This time to fight the war. What may I ask is your interest in the Jedi?"
"That is not for you to be concerned about," Palpatine said in his Sidious voice. "Leave Skywalker to me."
Padme walked into her apartment with the head of her security detail behind her.
"I want security surrounding the apartment. Typho, I fear I am deep trouble."
"I understand, my lady. I will do my best to see that you are not bothered again."
"You'll have to do more than that, Typho."
Typho's face twisted into a look of confusion. "what do you mean?"
"I want you to set a trap."
"He's entered my apartment... several times without my letting him in. I want cameras installed around the unit. He's also trying to bribe me, I fear, to extort money from me."
Typho gave her a dubious look. The Senator seemed more and more paranoid these days.
"I find that rather shocking, my lady. Senator Sien comes from a wealthy family."
"And yet, a man of little political background now serves as many delegations and I do, and now holds an extremely powerful post on the Senate."
"What do you wish me to do?"
"Follow him. Give him a one way ticket back to the Outer Rim. If he's found on video attempting to enter my apartment uninvited, we'll have the evidence to indict him again."
Padme gave Typho a worried look. "Please..." she muttered. "I'm afraid."
"Yes, My lady," Typho said with a bow of his head.
"Activate the ray shield to prevent all landings on the veranda and install a security unit on ground level."
"Please be brief, Master Ki Adi. If the Separtists were to zero in on our frequency..." he warned.
The two Jedi masters severed the connection. Obi Wan, after a lengthy walk through a densely wooded area, found the Jedi base. There, Anakin stood with his arms folded across his chest before a battalion of Clone Warriors. His hair had grown significantly long. So much so, that his Padawan braid could no longer be seen. A year had passed since he had been on Zalust - at least back and forth from other war torn destinations. And strangely, he avoided Coruscant altogether, even between tours. Obi Wan had heard many good things about Anakin's work - so after his Cestus journey, he decided to stop by and see what his Padawan learner was up to.
Of course, the Jedi Master wasn't angry about their last interaction... that awful fight in the Temple Garden. For he was not much into being a hypocrite. If he were angry, he would have had Anakin expelled, but he knew the young Jedi still grieved his mother, and felt he was better off as a Padawan... at least until he had gotten his grief under control. Besides... Anakin was not the only one who had a fight with his Master.
When Obi Wan thirteen summers, he had had a fight Qui Gonn Jinn, who took his lightsaber away and expelled him from the Order. A dispute that started when they were on a mission to save Qui Gonn's secret love, Taly... and Obi Wan had gotten personally involved on a foreign planet in a war between the old and young. Obi Wan had sided with the young and stayed on the planet to fight against his Master's wishes.
Anakin must have sensed his Master, for he turned, arms folded behind his back, and bowed his head reverently.
"Master? What are you doing here?"
Obi Wan laid a hand on his shoulders and gave him a pat. "I've come to join you. To see how you are fairing out here in the Outer Rim sieges."
"Well... I'm doing my best, Master."
"I can see that. I've heard many good things about the role you've taken here. I hear you are quite the leader."
Anakin smiled. "I learned from the best."
"I won't disrupt your routine , I am only here to guide you on an as needed basis. For moral support... Otherwise, I am under your instruction out there on the battlefield. The zell stays in your court."
"I've not done quite so well yet."
"You're much too hard on yourself, Anakin."
"But Master, we have yet to fully seize the planet. The troops and I have managed to seize control of the east, south, and western territories. The planet will be in the control of the Republic when the western province has fallen."
"We'll make short work of it. Of that I am certain... that being said, I wanted to speak to you about a more... personal matter."
This time, Anakin's eyebrows rose and his face adopted a more solemn look. Anakin could easily predict where the conversation was headed.
"You've not yet returned to Coruscant. You can only avoid it for so long..."
"I know Master," Anakin replied. The two Jedi began a slow stroll toward a wooded area.
"Be mindful of your teachings, Anakin. The fact that you have not yet let go of the past, is the a sign of attachment. You can only prove you are free, by facing your demons and all that has become a distraction to you. And that includes Senator Amidala."
"With all due respect sir, it's been a year. It's long behind me now."
"I believe you," Obi Wan said, patting Anakin's shoulder consolingly. "But the reason you were so... enamored with Senator Amidala-"
Anakin waved a hand. He couldn't bare to hear Obi Wan talk to him about his mother. Obi Wan sighed.
"It's up to you, Anakin."
"Indeed it is, Master."
The two men looked around, the base far behind them. Suddenly, an explosive ripped through the bark of a nearby tree. Anakin and Obi Wan took the ground.
"I think the war on Zalust is about to end sooner than we thnk."
"I hope you mean that in good way."
Obi Wan smiled. "90 degrees, a squadron of droids."
Anakin opened his comlink and shouted orders to the troop battalions.
"Shall I?" Obi Wan said with a smirk on his face.
The Jedi officers rose , lightsabers brandished and commenced to deflecting blaster bolts - which ripped through the air and clipped the droids that fired their way. Then they moved forward, on the attack, rolling behind trees and ambushing the attackers.
The war on Zalust was to end soon indeed. Reinforcements were on the way, even though the Separatists were already outnumbered.
"I still say it was just a fluke."
"Admit it Master, I saved your life."
"It was I who saved yours," Obi Wan replied. "After all, I was just the excuse you needed to leave those destroyers that were thisclose to manhandling you."
Anakin laughed. "Whatever you say, just remember, I'm not the one who dropped my lightsaber."
Obi Wan groaned, his face a deep red color.
The starfighter pierced the Coruscanti atmosphere and Anakin headed right for the landing dock at the top of the Jedi Temple.
Obi Wan spoke in his comlink gaining immediate clearance to land.
The ship touched down and Obi Wan turned and looked at Anakin.
"We'll rendevous in a few days."
"You have no training for me, Master?"
"Anakin..." Obi Wan sighed. "You have had all the training you need. Go now, enjoy your few days off."
Anakin smiled. "Yes, Master."
The two Jedi parted, Obi Wan heading to the med center to have his stitches sewn, and Anakin...well, he had no place to go. He turned and looked to the east, where Padme lived at 500 Republica. A look of longing filled his eyes. He turned away, a wave of pain washing over him.
The doorbell rang. Padme walked through the living room, quietly ushering Threepio aside with a smile. He was in need of being recharged. She looked around, seeing that her staff had already gone for the night. The veranda was secure, with the ray shields activated. She had come to feel comfortable in her home again, as it had been many months since Cobra Sien had been dealt with.
Padme opened the door and drew her breath sharply. Anakin Skywalker stood on the other side. Tears suddenly welled in the corners of her eyes. She couldn't speak. He seemed so wisened... not the golden haired boy she knew on Tattoine so many years ago... not even the young man who left her more than a year ago. His hair was longer, his skin a shade darker... he wore a bright scar down his eye that extended over his cheek. His shoulders were broader and he seemed a bit taller than she last remembered. Even the Padawan braid he once wore in his head was gone. There was something very intense and charismatic about his presence, so much so, that she felt completely dwarfed by his energy.
Anakin's eyes were trained on her face as he searched for something -- anything that would let him know that she still loved him.
Padme gasped and covered her mouth with a hand. "Anakin..." she cried.
He nodded and humbly swept her into his arms. Her feet flailed and it was as though she were floating. They moved toward the sofa. Slowly, he set her onto the floor, his hand rested against the curve of her waist.
"I wanted to give this to you," Anakin said. He gave her his braid and Padme coiled it around her hand. She was beyond words. Until, Anakin stood and walked toward the door.
"Anakin," Padme called. "Will you ever forgive me?"
Forgive her? he thought. Wasn't he the one, who assumed the worst? The one who couldn't trust the one person who meant the world to him? He was the fool. He was the one who went away because he could no longer face her.
Padme held his gaze as she awaited the answer. Anakin turned and walked toward her again, his robe in a flourish about him. He unfastened the dark cloak and draped it on the side of the sofa where she sat then took her by the hand and kissed it.
Padme wiped the moisture away then laid her palm against his cheek. Anakin trembled. For he realized he was in danger. In more danger than he had ever been out on the battlefield. He still loved Padme. He couldn't stop loving her if he tried. Every pent up emotion threatened to burst out of him all at once. His head dropped, and he barely choked the words out of his mouth.
"Padme-I, missed you so much, I thought I would die without you." He pulled her to him and kissed her hungrily.
How many times had she dreamt of this moment? Was she dreaming now? Padme wondered. She could feel the vibration of his lungs with every breath he took. He pressed her against the couch, clamoured over her body and ravaged her with kisses. She smelled of Marsh Flowers...her skin - so sweet. Anakin opened her robe. He found that she wore nothing beneath and gazed at her for what felt like an interminable amount of time.Padme blushed under the intense scrutiny. No one made her feel more beautiful or more desired than he.
Anakin searched through the force, traces of someone else and found nothing. And there was relief. So much so, that he hadn't moved to finish what he had started.
"Anakin, I'm cold," Padme complained. But really, she was more worried about someone -- Threepio seeing them there.
Anakin pulled the robe closed, moved aside, then followed her to the bed room. He stripped as they walked, leaving a trail of clothing behind them.
In the bedroom he pulled her close to him, his nude muscular body moved behind hers as he released the string to her robe and tossed it aside. He let his lips trail the back of her neck as his hands massaged her breasts. They stumbled to the bed, Anakin beneath her. He gathered her close, as close as two people could mesh and chewed his bottom lip, moving her legs apart to settle himself between them. She let her arms relax around his shoulders as he pushed into her, a series of pleasurable waves rippled through her body.
"How badly did you miss me?" he asked, his lips against hers.
"I missed you so much, Anakin..."