Consumed 1/5 (Star Wars, Ani/Obi, Mature, 3,136 Words) Fandom: Star Wars Title: "Because of These Things" / Consumed - Part 1 of 5 (3,136 Words) Author:jarkai_fic on LJ / jarkai everywhere else Beta:legolad Theme(s): (For 30_somethings on Insanejournal, Nights: #29, Window) Pairing/Characters: Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi Rating: Mature - contains character death, violent imagery, and sexual situations Disclaimer/claimer: Heavily influenced by Matthew Stover's adaptation of Revenge of the Sith. Critiques: Yes Summary: Sometimes the 'ghost of the past' is more than just a metaphor.
Because of These Things
My speeder shrieked through the storm, dodging lightning that shot from the towers to the clouds, my shockwave cracking windows as I passed. Rain fell in sheets, but I didn't see it. I didn't see anything except the senate building in the distance.
The skyscraper spat its own lightning, matching the strikes outside. The bolts that leapt from the window were the color of lightsabers: green fans, purple arches, and crimson slashes bright against the night. The green winked out, and there was only red and purple left. Someone had already fallen. I was too late.
The speeder skidded to an abrupt stop, barely missing the window of Palpatine's private office. On his desk lay the head of Kit Fisto, face up, tentacles spilled loose across its top. His lidless eyes stared blankly at the ceiling. In the arena on Geonosis, Master Fisto had effortlessly carved his way through countless droids. He had never lost his smile, as if the battle were some kind of joke. He wore the same grin now. Was death funny, too?
I ignited my saber and sliced through the window, diving in through the gap. Bodies littered the short hallway to Palpatine's office, robes and armor still smoking. It was an effort not to squeeze shut my eyes, but my comrades deserved better than being stepped on. I sprinted past them as carefully as I could.
I threw open the doors. Within the public office of the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic, a Jedi Master struggled alone, blade to blade against a living shadow. The fight had begun hours ago.
"Obi-Wan..." I trailed off, struggling for breath. "I need to talk to Obi-Wan!"
"Obi-Wan is operational on Utapau;" Mace replied, "he has destroyed General Grievous. We are leaving now to tell the Chancellor, and to see to it that he steps down, as he'd promised--"
I cut Mace off. "Steps--steps down--" My voice was sharp, bitter. "You have no idea!"
Mace's brows lowered. He put his arm around my shoulders, and I sagged against him even as he guided me to the nearest bench. "Anakin? What's wrong?"
"Listen to me--you have to listen to me! Palpatine--he's--Master Windu, please, give me your word, promise me it will be an arrest, promise me you won't hurt him!"
Mace had made no such promises.
Now, like a bug on its back, Palpatine cringed against a saber-scorched wall, hands before his ravaged face, his weapon long gone. In the darkness of his office, his eyes were the yellow of a trapped cat. He simpered, he begged, but it was as if his opponent heard nothing.
Mace raised his blade, and purple fire threatened. "You Sith disease."
"Wait! You can't just kill him!" Rushing across the room, I seized his saber arm in my mechanical grip.
"Yes, I can," Mace said, grim. "I have to."
"You came to arrest him! He has to stand trial!"
"A trial would be a joke! He controls the courts. He controls the Senate--" Mace jerked his arm downward, breaking free. All at once, the Force was between us, thrusting me back. "He's too dangerous to be left alive! If you could have taken Dooku alive, would you have?"
"You can explain the difference after he's dead." Mace's face was stone. In silence, he turned toward the beaten Sith Lord and ended the old man's life with a flick of his saber.
With my scream, the Force twisted, turning back on itself. Mace's eyes widened as it slammed into his chest, shattering both bone and the durasteel window behind him. Whether he was dead when the rain struck him in the face or when he hit the ground... None of it mattered. All I saw was what he had taken from me. Clutching my chest, I crumpled to my knees.
Behind the over-turned desk, something stirred. I tipped back my head, waiting. Was it another Jedi, come to avenge what I had done?
"How--how could you?"
I stiffened. "Padmé?"
She leaned heavily against the wall, a hand flat against her belly, her face streaked with dirt and tears. Slowly her strength gave way, and she slid downward, her voluminous dress beginning to puddle around her. "How could you?"
"Padmé!" I stumbled to my feet, starting forward to catch her.
"Don't touch me!" All at once she came down hard, falling to her knees. Eyes wide, she scrambled sideways along the length of the wall, away from me. Her skirt snagged and tore on broken stone, shedding both Nubian silk and brocade, exposing battered legs.
I stammered, nearly frozen in place. "Padmé, what happened?"
"The--" She broke off, panting between clenched teeth. "The treaty. He said he was going to sign our treaty."
I took another step forward and she lurched out of my grasp. Wetness burst from between her legs as she fell over, birth-water and blood pooling underneath her bent knees. Far too much blood.
I collapsed and pulled her onto my lap. She struggled, fists slamming into my chest, but I refused to let her go. She coughed, and scarlet welled between her lips. "Who are you? I don't even know you anymore. My Ani wouldn't have--"
But I would have. She knew what I had done to the Tuskens, and suddenly the truth of it all settled in her eyes. Her hand stilled against my cheek. "Oh. Oh, Ani."
I could barely breathe. I rocked her thoughtlessly, grasping at the Force in frantic attempts to heal her. It slipped through my fingers as quickly as she was.
Padmé coughed again, splattering my face with blood, and tried to wipe it from my chin. "We'll go to the Lake Country," she said, face now completely grey. "Set up the nursery. My mother--my mother will be so happy." She smiled painfully up at me, the expression erased an instant later when she moaned again and hugged her belly.
I choked, sobbing, pressing her to my chest. "You'll be just fine--"
Her body went rigid in my arms. I looked down just as the seizure took her, her heels slamming hard against the tile, blood frothing from her mouth. The wetness in my lap became an ocean, and she went limp in my arms.
"Padmé?" I shook her. "Padmé... Padmé!"
I shook her and her head lolled. There was no response, no movement, no breath. The Force slipped away from her as easily as it had come. All of it, all of it had been for her, and now it was gone, lost to me in a single moment and the fading echo of her gasp.
I wept into her shoulder. Somewhere in the distance, I heard an animal scream.
The animal was me.
When Yoda found my former Padawan, Anakin had been mute as well as deaf to the Jedi Master's words, the blood of Senator Amidala soaked so deep into his clothing that it colored his skin.
Palpatine had lured her to his office, of that there was no doubt. Once she had arrived, he had made no attempt to hide his duplicity from the cameras ensconced in his walls. When we reviewed the security recordings, they revealed that she was to be nothing but a pawn in a final end-game between Sith and Jedi, a hostage to ensure successful... negotiations. Successful, but hardly peaceful.
When the Jedi had arrived, Palpatine had hidden nothing of his battle with Master Windu, either. Winners write our histories, as they say, and perhaps he had wanted his triumph over assassination recorded for posterity. If not for Anakin, our future books might have been penned in scarlet.
At least that was what I chose to believe.
By the time Anakin had burst into Palpatine's office, its cameras had long since ceased functioning, cracked by Force-blasts and half-melted by saber-heat. It was pure luck that we had been able to retrieve anything at all. Yet luck had only gone so far. Mace, Padmé, her twins... we had lost them all.
But not Anakin. Let the rumor-mill surmise what it wanted, I planned to stand by him. The Separatist leader might have fallen, whatever that meant, but the long night had just begun.
In complete silence, six snow white gualaars drew an open, flower-strewn casket through the crowded Palace Plaza of Theed, the capital city of Naboo, birth planet of its beloved Senator Amidala. Pale against the darkness of her dress, her hands clasped a crudely carved trinket against her still swollen belly. I did not need to glance at the man beside me to know that he had fashioned it. I gazed at my boots instead, into their impeccably polished surface. That I could do so little in her memory--I shoved the thought aside, straightening my shoulders. There was still something I could do.
"Insurgency remains rife throughout the galaxy," I said, still not quite looking at him. "Quelling it is endless and bloody work, but do you think she would want you to turn away from it? She died serving the Republic, Anakin."
He stared straight ahead. A light breeze ruffled his too-long hair, lifting strands the color of wet sand away from shadowed eyes. "No," he replied softly. "She'd have said it suits me."
I turned fully to him, frowning. "It's not your fault. You know that."
In the distance, Padmé's coffin became a single spark of silver amongst the crowd. It winked out an instant later. Finally Anakin allowed himself the luxury of blinking. He breathed deeply through his nose, his mechanical hand clenching with each inhalation, as if the air itself pained him.
"We haven't spoken of it in years, but if you need to talk about how much you..." I rubbed awkwardly at the back of my neck. "That is, if you need to talk about your feelings..."
Anakin turned sharply away from the mourners. He seized my arm as he pushed past. "Come on. You said it yourself. The war isn't over. Let's get bloody."
ANAKIN, ONE YEAR LATER
The bed shook with my thrusts. Everything in the room shook: the side tables, the durasteel in the windows, the man beneath me. Sweat-drenched, I seized Obi-Wan's ankles and tore them further apart. He arched upward at the next shove, completely silent even as one of the lamps exploded, and his second release of the night splashed hot against my belly. When I bent to kiss him, his mouth was wet with blood, red as the ties I'd used to bind his wrists. He'd nearly bitten his bottom lip through.
I looked away quickly, sweeping stray shards from the bed, and forced myself to grin. "So. What should I do to you now, Master? I haven't come yet."
Obi-Wan huffed, blowing a tangle of auburn laced with grey out of his eyes. A single bruise marked his cheekbone, the lone injury we'd taken on our last mission. He hadn't earned it on the battlefield but on the barroom floor afterward, when we were supposed to be celebrating and he ended up defending my name instead. Since Palpatine's death, there'd been a lot of that.
Gently, I ran my fingers over the bruise. The Force was quiet between us now, controllable, and it slid into Obi-Wan's purpled flesh with a sigh. He opened his mouth to protest even as the swelling began to come down, but there was nothing he could do about it now. I didn't want my crime on his face, and besides--
Somewhere in the mess of sheets, a communicator chirped, high pitched and annoyed.
"Did we forget to check in again?" Obi-Wan asked, tugging at his ties now.
I ignored him and ripped the covers from the bed. The culprit was caught between black silk and the mattress, the communicator undoubtedly his from the number of nicks and dings in its silver plating. I kept my hardware in better repair than that.
Obi-Wan's eyes found the communicator the same moment as mine. "Anakin..."
I winked and brought the device to my mouth. "Kenobi's House of Ill Repute! Our special this week is an extra dirty--"
"Good morning, Skywalker," Ki-Adi-Mundi intoned, his voice as dry as always. The war's end had changed nothing. Not that the war was really over.
"Is it morning already?"
"Vaguely," he continued, impatience creeping into his tone. "May I ask why Master Kenobi isn't answering his own communicator?"
In the background, Obi-Wan thrashed as only he could: mouse-quiet, mouthing obscenities at me in between 'don't you dares.' Grin never wavering, I straddled his chest and rocked back and forth several times before turning my attention back to Ki-Adi-Mundi.
"Well, he is somewhat indisposed at the moment--hey!" Laughing, I paused long enough to wrap my fingers in Obi-Wan's hair and jerk his mouth off my inner thigh. Tooth-marks dented the skin there. "Is it about another assignment?"
For a long time, Ki-Adi-Mundi said nothing. Beneath me, Obi-Wan stilled. Force churned briefly in the room, and the red ties slithered free of his wrists. He snatched the communicator without a word, watching in silence as I strode to the window. Outside, the Coruscanti dawn was perfect, as flawless as an artist's masterpiece and just as unrealistic. In less than fifteen minutes, that cloudless sky would be torn asunder by a heavy and scheduled rain. Even after all this time, it remained difficult to watch, but I had almost come to enjoy punishing myself this way.
Behind me, sheets shifted, proof that some of Obi-Wan's modesty lingered. "Why didn't Anakin's communicator go off as well?"
There was another long moment of silence filled with occasional bursts of static. I stared straight ahead, mechanical fingers spread on the glass. Sometime during the night, Obi-Wan had torn off my glove, and now my hand was as bare as the rest of me, and as sticky. Pap'razzi droids had been all the rage this summer, stealing moments of time for the HoloNet. I didn't care. Let them see me naked in Obi-Wan Kenobi's rooms.
"Ki," Obi-Wan said sharply, "I asked--"
"I heard you, Obi-Wan," Ki-Adi-Mundi replied, low. Tired of having the same old argument.
"And I suppose there's no point in warning you again."
I glanced back at Obi-Wan. He'd settled into the pillows, red ties pooled in his lap. His face was nearly the same color. "No point whatsoever. Now give us our new assignment."
I turned back to the window, only half listening. It was an old story, one I'd heard over and over since Palpatine's downfall. A team less experienced than ours had taken on a small nest of Separatists still trying to fight the good fight. The Separatists had gone down easily enough--that was the last report. After that, there was nothing but intermittent life-signs from our team's ship, but no visual or auditory signals. At least that was new.
Obi-Wan sighed. "Can't you have a droid scan the ship?"
"Even the droids aren't functioning," Ki-Adi-Mundi replied, "yet according to all sensors, the ship itself is in perfect order. Only--"
Obi-Wan finished the sentence for him. "Only no one is flying it anymore."
Lightning rolled outside, and the rains began, slow and easy. In moments they would be a torrent, cold, prescribed, and unnatural... just like everything Palpatine had promised to teach me.
The remaining lamp in the room shuddered. Obi-Wan caught it one-handed before it could tumble to the floor. I made no effort to help him. For an instant, I saw nothing, not the room or the growing storm outside it. Then there was the blackness of space, its darkness broken only by a scattering of stars and debris, and the feel of Obi-Wan's hands on me, refusing to let go.
"Ki," Obi-Wan asked, still on the bed, so far from me, "why do I have a bad feeling about this?"
I blinked. Though the vision was fading, I already knew.
The Council was sending us past Wild Space, into the Unknown Regions.
Even at top speed, it took us three days to reach our destination. By the time our ship had made it to the edge of known space and we had abandoned it for our fighters, I had nearly shaken off the dread. Nearly, but not quite. Despite Qui-Gon's years of admonishment, I still couldn't live entirely in the present. Perhaps that was because the present seemed too fragile to hold.
After Padmé's death, I had been so careful not to touch him. Truthfully, I had been careful not to touch Anakin for many years, ever since he had reached a certain height, ever since his shoulders had reached a certain width. His mouth--no, there'd been no touching Anakin after that, no more nights of letting him slip into my bed, regardless of the nature of his dreams.
It had taken only an instant. A long string of missions had come to an end, and he had dropped down on his bunk, staring straight ahead with the eyes of one half-dead. Without thinking, I had set my hand on his shoulder, had bent low to mouth words of encouragement. Without thinking, he had refused the words and taken the mouth itself.
Such was how it had been ever since.
Such was how it had been three days ago, before Ki-Adi-Mundi had sent us to this.
Dancing with gravity, the debris of the missing team's ARC-170 starfighter twirled in a languid circle like the slowly unfurling petals of a multicolored rose. A dewdrop glittered at its center. I leaned forward, squinting at it through my fighter's canopy, and frowned.
"Another ship," I whispered.
Anakin's voice crackled in my headset. "What?"
I slid back in my seat and peered down at my instrument panel. Its reading confirmed my visual scan. "See for yourself."
Without warning, Anakin's fighter shot past mine, a streak of yellow against the dark. It skimmed the edge of the gravity well--close, too close!--and hurtled back, settling into formation again. I turned to glare at him, angry words already on my lips, more than ready to give him a piece of my mind the instant our eyes met across the expanse between our fighters. Instead I found his gaze locked on the ship amidst the debris, his face slack, like that of a man in shock.
"Anakin?" I asked, but he could not hear me.
I looked down at my instrument panel again, closer this time, and understood. There could be no doubting it. The ship was not only Nubian, but a chromium-plated J-Type skiff reserved only for the aristocracy of Naboo.