Jan. 20th, 2016 11:52 pm
nrgburst: (anidala)
[personal profile] nrgburst
Title: Human (Chp. 2 of A Third Path)
Fandom: Star Wars: Prequel Trilogy
Characters: Anakin Skywalker/Padme Amidala, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Sheev Palpitine|Darth Sidious, (Anakin-centric)
Rating/Warnings: M, non-explicit sex
Word Count: ~3800
Summary: you build me up and then I fall apart/'cause I'm only human

It’s surreal, standing in the circle of masters as they pass judgment, almost ten years to the day from that first time.

Anakin hadn’t really cared then that he’d been deemed unworthy. But Master Qui-Gon had protested, insisting that he was “The Chosen One,” that he would train him even without the Council’s approval.

They’d made an exception. And for years his teachers had marveled over how strong the Force was with him; there’s talk that he’s the most powerful Padawan the Order has seen in centuries. Besides, the Jedi have just suffered massive losses and war marches upon the Republic.

So he waits, sure that they will offer him another chance if he acts suitably humble and penitent. Tatooine has no membership in the Republic and his actions there are beyond the Jedi’s legal jurisdiction. If only Master Yoda hadn’t been meditating when he’d gone to find his mother, nobody would even have known. He’s just grateful that this hearing isn’t about Padmé.

“I apologize. I allowed my feelings to overrule my judgment when I saw what those… creatures had done to my mother. I am still learning, and I will redouble my efforts to practice controlling my emotions.”

“Too old you were to excise attachment from your previous life,” Yoda says, glaring meaningfully at Obi-Wan. “This was known by the Council. But not only in this grave matter have you strayed from the Code.”

Anakin waits, trying to breathe deeply to forestall the icy feeling of dread.

“You are well aware that attachment is forbidden. And yet you have deliberately chosen it over serenity,” Master Windu says. He activates the screen and Anakin lowers his eyes when he recognizes their marriage certificate.

“I’m… sorry.”

Master Windu’s brows lift, nonplussed. “If that’s so, we can arrange for your marriage to be annulled-- given you never have any contact with Senator Amidala again.”

Those words knock the breath from him, and he recoils, incensed.

“Must you take her from me too? After all I’ve already given to serve the Order?”

Obi-Wan winces, but Anakin doesn’t bother reining in the resentment and betrayal.

Master Mundi speaks. “You fear losing her. More than anything. And you know first-hand that fear leads to anger, anger leads-”

Anakin skips to the end of the all-too-familiar lecture. “The greatest suffering I’ve experienced is because I was kept from those I love! I could have saved my mother if I’d just been given the chance! I know I could have!”

Obi-Wan places a restraining hand on his shoulder before he addresses the Council. “Master Windu, you’ll recall that I counseled against giving Anakin this assignment to begin with. Punishing a Padawan for failing a test he was not ready to take is hardly fair!”

Anakin’s outrage abates slightly at his master’s show of support, even if the words rankle. But he knows better than to ignore Obi-Wan’s lead this time, so he bites back further protests and bows his head.

The Council members exchange uneasy looks, but once Master Yoda sighs and shakes his head, Master Windu steeples his fingers grimly.

“Perhaps so, Master Obi-Wan. But there is a reason for every part of the Jedi code, and it is evident that it does not suit him in its entirety. He cannot uphold both his vows to the Order and those to his wife at the same time. As such: Anakin Skywalker, we regret the necessity of your dismissal from the Jedi Order.”

Anakin clenches his fists bitterly in disbelief, staring at the floor.

“You will relinquish your lightsaber to Master Obi-Wan, and the Order will provide what we can to ease your transition back to civilian life. Master Obi-Wan, you know the proceedings?”

Obi-Wan presses his lips together in consternation, but he nods reluctantly. “I am aware of them, yes.”

“Then see to it. Anakin, we thank you for your service and hope that the Force will be with you in your future endeavors.”

It still feels like something out of a bad dream as he follows Obi-Wan from the Council chamber.

“I thought they would make an exception- they’ve done it before! It’s just not fair!”

Obi-Wan stops and grips his shoulders. “I’m so sorry, Anakin. I’m not impressed with how the Council have absolved themselves of responsibility in this either. And with Count Dooku still out there and the Jedi spread thinner than ever and war… Master Qui-Gon was so sure that-” he stops himself abruptly, gesturing haplessly before sighing. “They’re right though. Your attachment to Padmé is as clear as day. You should never have escorted her on your own.”

Anakin looks away. “We tried to stop falling in love. Well, she tried, mostly,” he admits.

Obi-Wan lifts his eyes. “Of course she did. Padmé actually thinks things through. Although I suppose she has the same penchant for taking risks that you do.”

He hesitates. “I’m afraid I’ll have to take the lightsaber.”

Anakin’s brow furrows rebelliously. He’d endured so much for the right to wield one. But seeing the pain and regret in his master’s eyes eases his resentment, and after clenching his metallic hand for a moment, he unholsters it abruptly and holds it out.

“It’s not mine anyway,” he says, twitching a shoulder.

Obi-Wan barks a humorless laugh and looks at him wryly as he takes the weapon. “True. What happened this time?”

“Oh, you know. Battle droid manufacturing plant. Hand got welded down; the saw that cut me free also took off the emitter unit,” Anakin hunches his shoulders, chagrined, although he can’t help flexing his new hand. He’s still getting used to the feedback it provides and phantom pains remain unpredictable.

Obi-Wan squeezes his shoulder sympathetically. “I’m sorry for all that you’ve been through, truly. A better master might have prepared you to handle such extremes.”

Anakin shrugs a shoulder guiltily. “I didn’t listen. I should have. I just couldn’t ignore my dreams any longer and…” he swallows. He still doesn’t like to think back on how he’d smote that camp like deadly lightning, how invincible he’d been with the power of his hatred to draw from --and the fear in Padmé’s eyes when he’d confessed. “…Will they give you a new apprentice?”

“I can’t predict what the Council will do. But at least it should be easier to stay out of trouble without you,” he muses.

Anakin scoffs. “More like harder to get out of trouble.”

Obi-Wan shakes his head fondly before he looks toward the Senate building in the distance. “And now you’re married, and to a politician no less. Do you ever do things by halves?”

Anakin shrugs uncomfortably. “She’s had my heart for years- that became clearer with every moment we spent together. I’m just grateful that I make her as happy as she makes me.”

Obi-Wan looks back at him, troubled. “Anakin, listen: you must be cautious. If what you did on Tatooine is any indication... Negative emotions can easily lead you down the path to the Dark Side, and should anything ever happen to Padmé- ”

The idea sends a cold frisson of fear down his spine before Anakin squashes it determinedly. “Padmé is safe. We caught the assassin and the Viceroy has no reason to strike out at her anymore.”

Obi-Wan sighs. “I realize I am no longer your master. But you must continue working on controlling your emotions, or I fear someday they may get the better of you. If even a respected Master like Dooku can be turned to the Dark Side…”

Anakin meets his eyes for a long moment before nodding solemnly. “I understand. And I promise.”

Damage control.

That’s the frenzied mode Padmé’s staff goes into when Anakin arrives, interrupting their military budget planning.

Padmé is devastated on his behalf, but everybody else in the room is far more concerned with what their marriage will do to her political image, especially in wake of her failure to prevent the Military Creation Act. The timing couldn’t be worse- a hasty, illicit marriage should not have been her priority over returning to Senate immediately. And the fact that he’s been expelled from the Order makes it all the more scandalous.

The fact that they have to procure an expedited spouse visa for him to remain on Coruscant only adds to the list of problems he’s created for them.

The only one who doesn’t act like the world just imploded is Jar-Jar, who keeps waxing rhapsodic instead.

He’s not sure which is worse.

So he broods, feeling useless as her team debates “spin angles” for the media gauntlet they’ll have to run in an attempt to preserve electoral favor. This is Padmé’s world, not his, although it heartens him a little to see how she also refuses to consider “undoing” their marriage as a solution.

It’s a relief when she finally asks for them to adjourn for the day, and they finally have the privacy to just hold each other. But after a minute of soaking up the comfort of her embrace, he broaches the subject that’s been bothering him.

“Could you remove my braid?”

She meets his eyes and nods. “Of course. Is there some way I should do it?”

“A Padawan becoming a Jedi Knight has it removed by lightsaber, but you can use scissors or a knife. It’s just hair.”

She bites her lip, unsure.

“…Anakin, if you’re not ready-“

“No. Continuing to wear it would be a lie. At least it won’t hurt like removing the slave chip did.”

Not physically, anyway.

He sits and stares straight forward while she cuts it, mindful about controlling his emotions. But when she presses a kiss to the offending spot after, he feels the grief he’s shoving down well up with the memories that flood his mind.

The Temple in the morning light after meditation. That lonely first night in the dorm, surrounded by strangers. How out of place he’d been- too tall and too wild next to the cultivated calm of classmates half his age. How none of it had mattered when he was moving in tune with the Force, the borrowed lightsaber an extension of his arm. His first kyber crystal in his hand and the beaming pride in Obi-Wan’s smile. How strange it had first felt to braid the bands into his hair.

All just memories now, instead of steps towards a future he’d been so sure of.

He clutches Padmé’s arm, and she wraps the other around him and presses her cheek to his neck wordlessly. And he lets the tears come.

He knows Obi-Wan is right. But somehow he senses that it’ll be safe to let his feelings storm here, in the circle of her arms.

Making love that night is different.

On Naboo, they’d both preferred her on top- she could control the pace and depth while he’d delighted in the unfettered access, both awed and wildly aroused by the view.

But tonight is not about tantalizing discovery- he just needs to bury himself in her welcoming body and let the pleasure drown out everything else.

She holds him after, her eyes wet and her thumb making soothing circles at the nape of his neck.

He pants, luxuriating in the blissful relief, at peace for the first time since they’d left the ship. But once awareness returns, he lifts his weight off her so he can search her eyes. “You didn’t…”

“It doesn’t matter.”

He frowns uneasily. “Of course it does. I swore a vow to honor you with my body.”

“And I swore a vow to share in your dreams and support your goals. And to think of my people before myself,” she replies wryly.

He’s dismayed to see her so regretful. “Padmé, it wasn’t just…us. They also knew I went to Tatooine, that I disobeyed direct orders and… lost control. …You know ten years ago the Council didn’t even want to train me? Jedi shouldn’t remember their parents or what love feels like… I guess maybe they were right. ”

She nods but she’s obviously still troubled, so he continues. “We’re both good at fixing things. And we’ll save your political reputation. Together. I promise. But first…”

He slides his good hand between her legs, and she gasps and arches.

He smirks. This, at least, he can control.

The publicist arrives bright and early, irritated about the enormity of the situation she’s expected to present to the public and even more so to find them fresh out of bed.

“This is exactly what the public doesn’t want to see! A Senator so caught up in her…urges that she behaves unprofessionally.”

“I apologize. I’m usually an early riser but we’re newlyweds,” Padmé says tightly, cinching her robe tighter. “I will update my schedule to reflect my new availability immediately. And you have our full attention now.”

Dormé brings in a tray of steaming cups. “Breakfast will be served shortly. Would you like me to set you a place Ms.--?”

“Brax. And no, I’ve already eaten,” she sniffs.

She does take a cup of Jawa juice though, and sets down her electronic pad so she can read from the notes as they take seats around the table, directing the Camdroid she brought to face them with an imperious wave of her hand.

“Love is the easiest angle to spin. People adore romantic narratives and it helps that you took the precaution of marrying him. But it would be best if we could suggest some deeper long-term connection before he was assigned to your security detail. The public dislikes impulsive personal decisions- it reflects badly on your ability to make decisions of any kind, especially with fallout this messy.”

Padmé shakes her head. “We met ten years ago, but I’m afraid we had no contact in the interim.”

“But if we could pretend that you kept in touch. Even texts, or birthday greetings- just some sort of correspondence-“

Padmé frowns. “I will not cast aspersions on Anakin’s time as a Jedi to try to preserve my image.”

“Senator, I hate to be blunt, but he’s already been expelled. Your people won’t look kindly on a quickie marriage to some offworlder nobody and your reputation --your entire political career—is at stake here. My job is to get you in front of that, in any way I can.”

Anakin’s pride smarts a bit at the label, but he holds his tongue. He’d been given worse by Padmé’s staff playing devil’s advocate, but it reminds him of what he’d been when they’d met: a slave, living property. And yet he’d been able to help her and the Jedi. In fact…

Anakin speaks suddenly. “Maybe we should go back ten years. I mean, it might help to mention my role in the Battle of Naboo, right?”

Padmé’s eyes widen with delighted understanding before she takes his hand, beaming.

“Anakin is the pilot who destroyed the Federation Command Ship while I was re-taking the Palace with my security forces,” Padmé informs the perplexed Ms. Brax, squeezing his hand and flushing with pride.

Ms. Brax’s mouth drops open and she makes a hasty sign to the Camdroid, who obediently snaps a picture of them, obviously glowingly in love. “Now that is headline and voter gold. Marrying a war hero from your first stunning victory as Queen? Your polls will go up if anything- this is exactly the kind of positive spin we need! And the ten-year remembrance parade will be perfect for optics. Buzzwords: Queen and Knight, written in the stars, bound by fate. What are the odds, really…“ she mutters, gleefully tapping instructions into her pad.

Padmé inhales jaggedly. “Like a dream come true,” she agrees softly.

Anakin’s not sure why she seems more troubled than assured by that.

Unfortunately, there are unforeseen hurdles despite their well-laid plans.

Anakin is good at adapting to change- missions have taken him to ever corner of the galaxy, put him and Obi-Wan in terrible peril time and again, testing everything from his physical endurance and problem solving skills to their teamwork. But Padmé’s world requires a skill set that doesn’t include lightning-fast reflexes or precision lightsaber strikes.

There are constantly cameras and reporters, and he finds the scrutiny worse than any youngling trial. He’d rather dive into a nest of banthas than give a practiced statement for the hundredth time, choking back the urge to Force batter the Paps back while flashes go off in their faces.

The first time it happened, he’d reacted reflexively, releasing his hold on them as soon as Padmé had protested.

Ms. Brax had been hard pressed to keep those affected from filing assault charges and releasing holotapes of the incident. And they’d paid for his mistake: personal apologies, exclusive interviews and Camdroid repair/upgrades.

It’s a sobering lesson in his new limitations— he’s no longer a Jedi operating above the law. He just wishes everything he does doesn’t automatically reflect on Padmé, that there weren’t always cameras to catch any slipups. He knows the strain all of this is having on her, no matter how collected she strives to appear.

And yet she’s still trying to reassure him. “Another news cycle, maybe two. They’re still running the parade holos and polls are turning around. I expect the war will get the headlines back soon enough and we can just get on with things like normal people again.”

“Normal? I thought I married a politician,” he jokes, kissing her hand.

“It’s not usually so bad,” she protests, and he tugs her close with a chuckle, holding her until she sighs and relaxes.

Besides, she’s right- it all stops as abruptly as it started when the Separatists mount another massive attack against the Republic and the media suddenly have something else to sink their teeth into.

The days feel oddly empty once things settle. Anakin’s used to moving from crisis to crisis: the Jedi live in the present, too busy to dwell on either past or future, even if their edicts allowed for such reflection. It’s strange to wake and have no master to obey or duties beyond those to Padmé. And he misses Obi-Wan; wonders what crazy adventures he might be on.

Some habits Anakin keeps- he has the self-discipline to maintain his physical condition and practice meditating for serenity as he’d promised. But he finds the lack of distraction more perturbing than anything- his mind keeps wandering back to his worst moments: to losing his mother, his hand and his place among the Jedi—the destiny that Master Qui-Gon had staked his dying wish upon.

He feels smaller somehow, like a herdbeast instead of a shepherd.

He has to admit there are benefits though- he loves that the whole galaxy knows that he and Padmé are bound in marriage. And it’s nice to be able to own things again, even just tools that he can mod to his own preferences, spare parts and holopictures.

It’s soothing to be able to fix and build things again. Plus it gives him something productive to do. He hasn’t lost his touch- he can always feel exactly what’s wrong with the wiring in a droid or a glitchy chip set.

Hardly galaxy altering stuff, but Padmé will surely appreciate the engine modifications on the Nubian.

He thinks. Maybe.

He’s under the ship installing the compressor when he senses he’s not alone, but he’s surprised when he slides out to see who it is.

“Chancellor Palpatine! Greetings- I apologize for the lack of formality. There must have been a mistake in the appointment roster. I’m sure Captain Typho will be happy to come down with a greeting party when I let him know you’re here,” Anakin says, getting quickly to his feet and hurrying towards the communicator.

Sheev Palpatine avoids the engine grease splatters on the floor as he approaches, waving away the apologies.

“Actually, I’ve come to see you and offer my congratulations on your marriage. I was surprised by both the happy news ---and the decision of the Jedi Order.”

Anakin quirks his lips before he gives the usual statement. “Thank you, Chancellor. But the Jedi do not form attachments, and Padmé and I fell in love while I was guarding her. My dismissal was regrettable but unavoidable.”

Palpatine shakes his head, tutting sympathetically. “A most inflexible rule. You’d come so far in your training; showed such innate talent! I’d have thought the Council would be more understanding with one who has sacrificed so much and advanced so quickly. I find their lack of compassion, well, rather disturbing.”

Anakin nods frowning. It pains him more than he’d like to admit, how easily they had turned him out. “Padmé feels the same way. But now I am free to live with my wife. And, I suppose, to do anything else in the galaxy.”

Something predatory seems to gleam in the Chancellor’s eye then, but when Anakin looks closer, he sees nothing but warm concern. “Quite right. I’m shocked Senator Amidala hasn’t asked you to join her own security staff. You must have been quite the hero to win her heart while on assignment.”

Anakin smiles, shrugging modestly. “Ah, Padmé says I distract her. Besides, she wants me to figure out what I want to do with my life independently-- what I like, what I’m passionate about. I’ve been looking at piloting positions, but most of them are for distance runs, and I don’t really want to be away from her so much. So I’ve just been tuning up things until I can find something that feels right.”

The Chancellor eyes the engine grease on Anakin’s hands with obvious distaste before smiling pleasantly. “Well, it just so happens that I have an opening in my security staff. I can’t promise that working for me will be as thrilling as piloting spacecraft, but it is a rather important position. How the Separatists would love to strike at the heart and head of the Republic by removing me as Supreme Chancellor! I would be reliant on your investigative skills, as well as your reflexes and…sensitivity to dangerous situations. And you won’t even have to leave Coruscant.”

Anakin blinks, frowning. “You want me to use my Jedi powers?”

The Chancellor smiles conspiratorially. “Off the record, of course. After all, there are dangers that the best electronic scanners cannot detect.”

Anakin mulls that over, unsure. He’d taken out those Paps with only the intent to defend…

Noting his hesitation, the Chancellor speaks again. “Naturally, you will be compensated well. If I recall, Padmé is quite fond of Naboo pearls, a specialty of the area I hail from. I’m sure I could arrange a fine necklace as a signing bonus, if you would like…”

He’s never had the means to buy her anything, nonetheless something beautiful. Imagining her delight seals the deal. “That…sounds wonderful. And the job may be exactly what I’m looking for,” Anakin admits, smiling gratefully.

The Chancellor’s eyes light up with satisfaction. “Good. Good.”


nrgburst: (Default)

August 2017

  12 345

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Oct. 20th, 2017 11:12 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios