Consumed 3/5 (Star Wars, Ani/Obi, 1,361 Words) Fandom: Star Wars Title: "Puncturing This Skin" / Consumed - Part 3 of 5 (1,361 Words) Author:jarkai_fic on LJ / jarkai everywhere else Beta:legolad Theme(s): (For 30_somethings on Insanejournal, Nights: #15, Moonlight) Pairing/Characters: Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi Rating: Mature - previous part contains character death, violent imagery, and sexual situations Disclaimer/claimer: AU, but 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.
Piercing This Skin
Like everything in this wretched place, the music box had appeared almost before my eyes. Spilling through a window I wasn't sure even existed, a column of sunlight lit its porcelain top, leaving it warm to the touch. My fingers lingered on the delicate gold filigree and pink rosebuds. The box had been Padmé's.
I opened it slowly, and the dancers inside began to twirl. At each pass, their hands met, one of them a boy, blonde and fair, the other a girl, dark of hair but as light-skinned as her brother. She had the look of an aristocrat, while he wore a simpler set of clothing, much like what I'd owned on Tatooine. I shivered, goosebumps covering my arms.
The tune inside tinkled softly, fit for any little girl. I smiled faintly, imagining how Padmé must have loved this box when she was a child. I brushed the female dancer's tiny tulle skirt, and a note played off key. I frowned, then touched the other. The music faltered, giving way to jumbled noise. A final nudge and it stopped altogether, replaced by the trill of a thousand birds.
In the distance, Obi-Wan screamed.
Before I could even look away, the box had become dirty, ugly, infested with something I was afraid to identify. I saw it pulse as if taking a breath, and I flung it to the floor. I raced down the hall, not looking back.
Obi-Wan had been right. I knew these corridors like I knew my own hand. Face flooding with heat again, I ran faster, not bothering to look at anything as I passed it by, instinctively grabbing my saber from my belt.
I rounded a corner. Obi-Wan stood in the hall, face white beneath his beard, his eyes wide and unfocused. He grabbed for the wall, and leaned hard against it, his other hand still not moving from his neck. The portrait his shoulder was set against was another of Padmé and I, the sunset lake in the background. It was the moment where I had proposed to her. My blush deepened.
"What... what is it?" I panted, hooking my weapon back to my belt.
Obi-Wan looked up, making a rough noise in his throat. Still glazed, his eyes fixed on the painting. The hand on the back of his neck twitched. What was he seeing?
"It was nothing." The words came out strained, barely audible. Almost reluctantly, he released the back of his neck and made a gesture of dismissal.
I held out my hand, and he took it, letting me pull him up to his full height. "What did you see?"
Head down, he began to pat his clothes, straightening invisible wrinkles. "Nothing! I didn't see anything. It was a trick of the light--of--of something."
He jerked out of my grip. "I do not need your help."
"You... Fine. Have it your way." I spun around, headed back the way I'd come, barely able to restrain myself from stomping away. It was the second time I'd stormed away from him today, but I wouldn't let him see my anger. No doubt he could feel it through our bond if he wanted, even if that meant he had to look for it. Let him.
I turned the corner, and the scent hit me. The perfume of the Nubian flowers that Padmé liked so much filled the air. And I found that I was no longer angry.
For the second time that day, I let him go, my own stubbornness now the cause. Slowly, I brought a hand to my face, rubbing at my eyes as if to dislodge the remains of sleep from them. That's all Qui-Gon could have been: the creation of an exhausted mind. That the war was officially over meant nothing. Even on leave, we never stopped. There was always one more battle to fight, one more rumor to put down. And Force! Hadn't I secretly wished my Master was with me, that I could ask him for advice?
I drew a shuddering breath, hand over my eyes a moment longer. When I lowered it again, the ship was--I tensed, saber in my hand at once. For an instant, the ship was just that, nothing more than a vehicle meant for space travel. Yet something was wrong with it. Thick and blood-colored, rust spattered the walls. The walls themselves were worse, somehow connecting with the floor in an angle never known to man. I blinked, trying to will it away, but the dizzying perspective remained. My gorge rose.
If he was alone in this...
Without thinking, I reached into the bond. Words were beyond us, but we could still share images, impressions. I could still see what Anakin saw.
I reached, and immediately the ship was Naboo. Sunlight filled the corridor, its glow buttery on the hall's marble walls. The floor's tile pattern led into the distance, elaborately painted diamonds touched with gold, all of it luxurious, all of it normal for Varykino.
The cry of birds was deafening, the scent of flowers like a noose about my throat.
Saber still in hand, I ran. There was no time for a mindlink. "Anakin! Anakin--"
Vertigo stabbed deep between my eyes. I stumbled, grabbing at a wall for support. None came. Where the wall had been, only empty air now existed, warm as a summer evening.
Evening? Awkwardly I came to my feet, peering upward. Stars spread out overhead, the perfect canopy for a secret hide-a-way. Caught in the breeze, a pale blossom spiraled past, moonlight rich on its petals. It landed in the nearby fountain, swept by its spray towards the couple that sat upon the edge, shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip, her head upon his shoulder.
I wrenched my eyes away.
Feminine laughter filled the garden. "See? I knew I was right. The babies will be happy here. You'll be happy here, Ani. No more war, just being the husband you were meant to be."
"I'm already your husband, Padmé. The war hasn't changed that."
I choked. In unison, they turned, Anakin and Padmé both. At once he tried to push away, but she gripped his wrist, painted nails catching the silver light. Not letting go of him, she rose, her crimson skirt settling about her ankles, her belly distended from the children still inside her.
She had never looked so beautiful.
"So," Padmé said, no challenge in it. "You know."
"I wanted to tell you! I wanted--" Anakin leapt up, taking a step forward. It was as far as she would let him go, her hand still locked around his wrist.
"But you didn't." Again, there was no threat in her words, only the calm certainty of a woman who had faced the senate for years. "And now you're very angry, aren't you, Obi-Wan?"
"Hurt, then." It was not a question. No smile flickered at the corner of her mouth.
I said nothing. Why bother with words when your lover can read your mind?
Precisely, deliberately, I raised my shields one by one.
Anakin started forward, nearly tugging free of her grip. "Obi-Wan--"
The air rippled. Beneath my feet, the garden's stone walkway was thick with slime. I blinked, but it did not change, not now that I had jerked my thoughts out of Anakin's. And yet Padmé remained exactly the same, as lovely as always.
No. More so.
My hand tightened on my saber hilt.
She smiled, showing teeth. "I think that you should go, Master Jedi."
Anakin spun toward her. "Padmé, what are you--"
His voice died. He stepped back, one hand up as if to ward her off. Whatever he had seen, it was not Padmé.
"Mine," she said, and the loveliness no longer reached her voice.
Anakin took another step back.
Her smile widened. "Fine. The hard way, then."
I lunged. The smell of flowers was ripped away, replaced by the scent of ozone. Then there was only the stink of sizzling flesh, and the lightning that had exploded from Padmé's outstretched hands.