Title: Some Other Future's Past
Author: Chaos Rose
Category: AU splitting off from TPM in which the Jedi refuse to train Anakin.
Archive: No use without permission, please.
Disclaimer: I don't own them, I'm just using them for a while. Some characters have had backstory created for them, but remain the property of He Who Wears the Flannel. Original characters among the dramatis personae are of my own creation.
Some Other Future's Past
The late afternoon sunlight came at a shallow angle through the windows of the Guest's Hall in the Great Palace. On the horizon, anvil shaped thunderheads boiled over the tops of the hills visible from the ten-meter high stained glass windows. In the middle of the Guest's Hall, twelve chairs of Nubian greel wood had been arranged in a semi-circle on the rose marble floor.
A small green being stood before a tall, somewhat haggard young man who waited with an air of deepest patience to hear what his superiors had to say.
"Trained the boy will not be."
It was one of the few times that Obi-Wan understood just why his master had bucked the Council's edicts so many times. He would have given anything for Qui-Gon's presence and his ability to push the buttons of the younger members of the 'Old Folks home.' Unfortunately, Gui-Gon was comatose in a tank of bacta, recovering from the injuries sustained in his duel with the tattooed Sith.
"But masters, the boy's potential" He might not have his master's facility with words, but he was determined to make the Council see the facts.
Mace Windu cut him off with a brusque gesture. "If that potential is never developed, so much the better. We will return the boy to his mother on Tattooine, from where he never should have been taken."
"You can't send him back there! The Trade Federation will put a price on his head with all the publicity he's received! If the Sith get hold of him they could"
"Do you really believe, Knight Kenobi, that the Sith are concerned at all with a nine-year-old child?" This time it was Ki-Adi-Mundi who interrupted, more mildly than Master Windu, but firmly nonetheless. "Master Jinn is led more by his love of ancient prophecy than of reality.
"No more argument will we hear! " Yoda's cane struck a sharp report that echoed down the throat of the Hall. "The Council has spoken. Convey our will to the boy you will."
Even as he bowed, Obi-Wan gritted his teeth. He had to speak with Qui-Gon!
"I believe that Anakin is with the Queen for the morning meal, but I will seek him out after I see my mas I mean, Master Jinn."
The young Knight once thought it impossible to discomfit the entire Council, but not a one of them could meet his gaze.
"Taken back to Coruscant, Qui-Gon Jinn has been. Healers will see to him during his retreat." Yoda folded his hands on the knob of his cane, fixing Obi-Wan with a gimlet stare. "Unbalanced has he become, in need of solitude and meditation he is so that he might know the will of the Force."
Obi-Wan's knees nearly unhinged in shock. Enforced retreat was a punishment second only to expulsion. To even think about his life-loving master in such straits was even more distressing than seeing him struck by the Sith's blade.
"You are dismissed, Knight Kenobi. Make arrangements for the boy's return to his homeworld." Mace Windu stood, wrapping himself is robes and finality. "We will speak with you at length upon your return to Coruscant."
The Council filed out, leaving Obi-Wan Kenobi staring at a crescent of empty chairs and wondering why he was so worried at what the young Nubian Queen was going to do when she heard of the Council's edict.
The Great Palace was one of a half dozen in what the Nubians called the Palace Complex. Along with office buildings, the planetary and system legislatures, archives, libraries, and a handful of different educational institutions, the ceremonial center of the Nubian government took up the larger part of the Theed plateau.
It was also pure hell for a newcomer to navigate.
The Nubian love of architecture and landscape blended with their passion for ornament to produce buildings and gardens of startling beauty. Pocket-sized parks and grottoes presented themselves at every opportunity. The wood and stone used to make the buildings, roads, and pathways was designed to draw the eye and invite admiring inspection.
Obi-Wan was reduced to asking passers-by and cleaning crews how to find Padmé Amidala's private residence. He could not withhold this information from young Anakin, he felt it would be a betrayal of trust.
A grimace grossed his face and something inside him stung sharply. Anakin did not have much trust to be placed in anyone - his mother, Master Jinn, Ric Ollie and Padmé seemed to constitute the whole list. The boy had been deeply distressed at Qui-Gon's injuries, and to a lesser extent by Obi-Wan's. The child thought that Jedi were invincible – it had been a terrible shock for him to see graphic evidence otherwise.
The courtesy of the Nubian people made him vaguely ashamed of the Council. The Nubians were so proud that their 'small protector' was to be trained as a Jedi and that the Jedi had sacrificed so much to protect Naboo. All of them asked after Master Jinn and congratulated him on his Knighting. They commented that perhaps a Knighting feast was in order, all the while eyeing his loosened clothing. Some speculated in firm voices that Knight Kenobi might find the Water Garden a soothing place to rest.
He must have lost his Jedi serenity somewhere between the Garden of Sands and the dizzily mosaic-covered steps of the Nubian Hall of the People. A small, elderly man in elaborate scarlet and saffron robes pulled him aside and pressed a flattened oval of some heavy, glassy substance into Obi-Wan's palm.
"Just tell it where you want to go. Nubian or Basic, the locator will understand."
The man patted Obi-Wan's cheek at his thanks and moved off down the winding brick pathway.
"The Queen's Palace." Obi-Wan felt his ears heat as he carefully enunciated the words. The thing in his hand ticked and then tugged to the left. Obi-Wan moved to the left and the object vibrated as long as he moved to the left.
With trial and error, the young Knight found himself at the waterfall-carved steps of the Queen's Palace just as the threatened storm broke loose overhead. It was as if someone had decided to overturn a moon-sized bucket of water onto Theed. Even with the speed with which he ascended the steps – now a waterfall in truth – Obi-Wan was still drenched to the skin. Once inside, he used the Force to separate the excess water from his robes and settled for finger-combing his short auburn hair.
His finger found his padawan braid and he blinked back tears rose to his eyes. He was tired, he hadn't even had time to eat or meditate, and on top of it all he missed his master.
A guardsman approached and when asked, told him that the queen was in her rooms with her handmaidens and young Skywalker had last been seen in the Courtyard of the Fishes. A gesture and smile from Obi-Wan met the guardsman's offer of escort and they set off though the halls of the castle.
Smaller and more intimate than the Great Palace, the Queen's Palace was colorful, decorated with murals and frescoes of Nubian Queens and their deeds. Soft carpets muffled footsteps and the sinuous curves of wood and stonework bespoke both femininity and strength.
Obi-Wan reflected that these summer downpours must happen often enough that the architects and artisans of Theed incorporated them into their designs. Water pillars and even whole glass walls were alive with rippling water. Sculptured people and beasts rode fountain waves and one angelic being had wings of water. So busy with looking around was the Jedi that he ran right into the back of his escort who now stared gape-mouthed into a courtyard filled with waving greenery and sculpted water-spouting colored stone fish.
And right in the middle of the courtyard, standing on a stone bench and staring pop-eyed all around him was Anakin – soaked to the skin.
"Anakin!" What was the boy thinking?
Obi-Wan's shout was met with a grin of astounding brilliance and a whoop of utter joy.
"Water falling from the sky, Obi-Wan! I knew about rain but there's so much of it!" Anakin threw back his head to let the rain fall right into his mouth, with an expression that suggested he was drinking the nectar of gods.
The irritation softened somewhat. The desert child had only heard of rain and this might well be his first and last experience with it. Let him have his joy.
Something inside Obi-Wan balked at that thought. Part of him protested that the boy could no more go back to Tatooine than Obi-Wan could go back to the womb. The boy's principal skills were racing and fixing things. If the child survived the prices even now being put on his head, it was likely that he would die in a racetrack crash.
There had to be another way. Qui-Gon would find one, and Obi-Wan was determined to make one.
"Anakin, come out of the rain. We've got some things to talk about." Something in his voice must have tripped the boy's warning system. Obi-Wan thought that a child should not be capable of such a sharp-eyed look.
"Couldn't I just stay until the shower is over?" There was no real hope in his voice, but he obviously felt that he had to try on principle.
"Anakin, the rain will probably last for hours, if not all night. It will rain tomorrow, the day after and every evening for the rest of the season." Anakin's eyes went wider with each word and he stared at the Jedi as if Obi-Wan had predicted that he would grow another head. "Now, come in and get dry."
Hopping off the bench, the youngling splashed gleefully up to the passageway and squished to a stop in front of Obi-Wan. An impudent light gleamed in his blue eyes and his hair was plastered darkly against his head as he regarded the knight with an air of challenge.
Obi-Wan made a pass with one hand and the water that had been in Anakin's clothing splashed around his feet.
"I need to see Her Majesty, as well," Obi-Wan could not quite mask the solemn tone in his voice. "The events I must relate will be of concern to her."
Once again, the sharp-eyed stare, this time with a subtle stiffening of the boy's usual mobile features. It was the face he had seen on Coruscant as the boy dealt with the rejection of the Council. Anakin was readying himself for another blow, even the muscles in his body seemed to tighten in anticipation.
Anakin did not speak, but instead gestured for Obi-Wan to follow him. As they passed down exquisite hallways, Obi-Wan could feel the child's pain and misery increase. Attempts at conversation were met with monosyllabic responses or more penetrating gazes. Anakin did not trust Obi-Wan any more than he would a complete stranger, and that hurt the Jedi deeply. Still, that pain had been placed in the child's heart by the very people he had idolized – and Obi-Wan pledged to himself that he would heal that pain.
"In here. It's almost dinner time." Anakin's voice was suspiciously rough. "Padmé will want you to join us."
'Here' was a set of four-meter-high doors carved with fruit and flowers that opened into a sizable circular room with a view of the Lesser Falls. The floor of colored stone was intricately worked in flower-colors to resemble a garden, and the central supporting column was a stylized tree with countless curving branches.
"Ani? I was going to come looking for you," the young queen came toward them, smiling. Her elaborate robes were nowhere in evidence, she was dressed instead in a slightly richer version of the tunic and leggings she had worn on Tattooine. "Where were oh! Knight Kenobi, welcome."
Anakin wrapped his arms around the young woman and hugged her hard enough to squeeze the breath out of her. Just as abruptly he released her and - mumbling something about washing up for dinner – fled the room.
The young woman - girl, really, to Obi-Wan's thinking – watched the boy race down the hall and disappear into one of the rooms.
"It's about Anakin, isn't it?" she asked softly. "Whatever you came to find me for concerns him, and Master Qui-Gon's removal from Naboo?"
"You knew about that?" Obi-Wan turned to regard her with some surprise.
"I was denied permission to see him and told that he was being taken back to the Jedi Temple." Padmé was nowhere in evidence. Amidala, Queen of Naboo, spoke with royal displeasure in every word. "I was told that my concerns would be relayed to him when he was ready to receive them. They spoke of him as if he was a criminal under arrest, Jedi Kenobi."
"Your Highness, I only just learned of this myself. Please be assured that I am as perturbed by the circumstances as you are. He is my master, my father" It was a measure of how very tired he was – he thought that his agitation was so close to the surface. After his battle with the Sith and nearly losing his master, Obi-Wan felt as if he was walking around in someone else's nightmare.
"Peace, Knight Kenobi. My temper is not what it should be lately." Amidala patted him gently on the arm and led him over to the windows. The Lesser Falls and the rain outside smelled wonderful – alive and vital. He could see why Anakin had been so delighted. "Anakin and I take our meals together. Please stay and join us this evening? I was unable to reach you before."
Obi-Wan just nodded wearily; nothing could surprise him now. "We must discuss Anakin"
"We will. Now just have a seat here," she soothed. "I'll come and get you as soon as dinner is ready to be served."
The embrasures of the windows held softly padded seats, thick with pillows. Obi-Wan found himself sinking into one and listening to the falls. As he watched the young woman leave he wondered if perhaps Anakin was not the only Force-strong youngling here.
Padmé raced down the hallway that led to her private rooms and blew through the doors to the sitting room as if being chased by droidekas. Yané, Sabé, and Eritaé all leaped to their feet with blasters in hand.
"Yané, get Governor Bibble on the comm and tell him to get here as fast as he can. Have him bring Justice Aspa with him. I also want you to get Captain Panaka and have him and Captain Ollie come, as well. Get on it."
Yané saluted and all but flew to the comm station. Cordé, Dormé and Rabé came roaring into the room hot on each other's heels.
"Sabé, I need you to get to the Protectorate of the Innocents and have Erinaé Merron come here. Go in person, tell her the matter is urgent." Padmé found herself pacing, filled with energy as if a basin under the Greater Falls. "Eritaé, go to Anakin's rooms and tell him that he should dress for dinner. If he gives you any backchat, you have permission to treat him like your younger brother. Stuff him into the clothing if you have to."
Anakin, if the Jedi had rejected him yet again as she had feared
No matter. He had saved Naboo, and the people of Naboo would have him as their own heart-child.
"Dormé, please go to the Senator's Palace and ask Chancellor Palpatine to come with all haste."
What about Obi-Wan Kenobi? He'd be facing the wrath of the Jedi Council if the stone-faced statues she had spoken to were any indication. She'd have to find a way to protect him and Master Jinn, too.
Orders given, handmaidens flew like jewel-toned ghosts. Rabé and Cordé moved for the wardrobe, as Padmé began to shake out her hair.
"Is it that bad, my Lady?" Rabé looked stricken, her older brother had been one of the first fighter pilots to die. Anakin's luck had ensured that her other brother had made it home.
Padmé hugged the woman who was all but her sister. "Knight Kenobi would not have come in looking as if he had swallowed something vile if it wasn't. I want Ani protected. If the Jedi are fools enough to let him go, then let their stupidity be Naboo's gain."
The room was small by the standards of royalty, but to Anakin, it was palatial. The carpet underfoot was soft enough for a mattress, and posts and beams of a pale, striped wood framed the blue stone walls. Outside, the Lesser Falls filled the room with a rumbling white noise than Anakin found most relaxing. He could sit for hours with his eyes closed and simply listen. Even better, he had not had one nightmare since he'd been here.
Nobody had quite known what to do with him, so Padmé had brought him to the wing where her family stayed when they were visiting. It served as a sanctuary as few people followed him here, other than Padmé or her handmaidens – though right now even the presence of pretty Eritaé was something he could have done without.
She was fussing at him.
Bad enough that she came busting into the 'fresher when he did not even so much as have his smallclothes on – but she had nearly tried to scrub him herself! He'd chased her from the room with the spray from the shower massage and a fierce-sounding barrage of Huttese, Toyardian and Rodian. She had been penitent and allowed him his privacy, but made him promise to teach her Huttese.
Now, as he stood and tried not to fidget, plenty of hotter words in a variety of languages were bouncing about inside his head. He'd never, ever say them to a lady, but being stuffed into rich clothing and being fussed over was wearing at his nine-year-old's capacity for tolerance.
Someone had ordered clothing and footwear for him. It had simply shown up in his wardrobe a few days ago. Rich, dark jewel tones and soft fabrics seemed too fancy for his tastes and activities. He simply left them where they appeared, while continuing to wear what he had brought with him from home.
It had been a battle royal to talk Eritaé into letting him pick the least ornamented of the clothing. The dark blue matte silk tunic and matching trousers with the silver-gray undertunic were as fancy as he was willing to get - he was not about to dress like a Mos Eisley hire-pretty!
Twitching the last fold of the formal sash into place, Eritaé stood back to study him and nodded in satisfaction.
"Heavens, Ani, you're a handsome lad! You're going to be a real heartbreaker in a few years."
Anakin blushed. He was not going to break hearts, there was one in particular that he wanted to guard from harm.
"Pinch my cheek, Eritaé, and I'll make you think that the falls came in through the window!" he mumbled, frowning at his black-booted feet. "What's going on? I thought that we were just having dinner."
Eritaé looked somber, which made Anakin all the more concerned – she tended to be as much as a joker as he was.
"Anakin, you know that we would never let anything happen to you. It might not be the case everywhere, but here on Naboo everyone has the right to self-determination." She crouched to look at him face-to-face. "We will protect you, the Queen, us handmaidens, all of Naboo. Do you trust us?"
Anakin was surprised at her vehemence and reached out a tentative hand to pat her on the shoulder.
" 'Course I trust you, Irritant."
The jest had the desired effect of making her mock-scowl and take a swing at him. "Just you wait, Tattooine Terror! I knew that you put the little air bladders in my court slippers. Poor Padmé nearly died trying not to laugh as I farted my way down the aisle. I'd turn you over to my brothers, but you'd just come back with more ideas."
Eritaé's comunit chimed, calling her to come get dressed. She left, after a hug that nearly squeezed him flat, admonishing him not to undo all her hard work and reminding him to take his comm and locator if he went anywhere.
He tried to read for a while, but other thoughts and fears jumbled through his concentration until he found himself reading the same paragraph three times. Browsing the holonet for live games kept him occupied for a short time – there were some great sim rooms where he could pilot a freighter through the Kessel run or fly into combat in new Headhunter.
Ultimately, Anakin's wayward thoughts returned to his fate. His chest tightened and his eyes stung a little, he had never thought he could ever be homesick. Right now he wanted a ruby bliel so bad that he could almost taste it and would gladly take his mother's scolding for ruining his dinner.
Mom! I'm here! I'm fine! I love you so much! Anakin sent the clearest images he could manage into the space around him, hoping maybe some vestige of them might find their way to a small house in Mos Espa.
Qui-Gon had not been allowed to train him, and had given the Council his word that he would not. The canny Master Jedi had, however, instructed Anakin to do something that Anakin did very well – observe. Not just watch, not just listen, but to keep his whole being open as he did when pod-racing. It was then that Anakin was one with the Force, and he could intuit how to use the Force – or to let the Force use him - when he was in that state.
Not that it was likely that he would learn much more. Anakin had been denied permission to see Master Jinn when he was in the medical facility. The Jedi who had been guarding the door had looked at him in such a way that for one of the few times in his life Anakin had felt less. It was worse than being a slave, even worse than Sebulba's taunts.
It hurt in a way he could not describe, but one that made him angry. Every thing that was, even rocks, had a place in the Force – so Master Jinn told him. To be so completely dismissed as 'a pathetic lifeform' was an insult that he had no idea how to answer, even if there was a way to answer it. Maybe when he was older he'd find a way.
For a moment, he considered going down to the workshops in the bowels of the castle. There were a lot of 'droids and devices that had suffered damage in the siege and the battle. Fixing things would give him some relief from the uncertainties of the future.
Then Eritaé would skin him alive for getting lubricant, oils and carbon all over his fancy clothing. If what was going on was important enough to require his wearing them, Padmé might help her.
For an angel, she had quite a temper.
Instead, he walked over to the windows and opened the casement, letting the thunder of the falls and the patter of rain into the room.
All this water fascinated him. Just the rain from this afternoon would make a moisture farmer dance with joy. A full day of it would be a good season. A whole season of it it was incomprehensible. Even in the daily use of water he felt almost profligate – not even the richest on Tattooine ever sat in a tub of water. Bathing was accomplished by a spray of surfactants and astringents, followed by a spraying of water to rinse off.
Here, water was everywhere. Fountains and rivers, lakes and streams of it! Jar-Jar had even fitted him with a rebreather mask and taken him under the water to Otoh Gunga. Anakin had been simply delirious. Naboo had become as beautiful and precious to him as well as Padmé had become.
Anakin took a deep breath of the moisture-laden air and closed his eyes. He imagined the water of the falls pouring through him, washing out all the jagged fears and uncertainties, leaving his mind as clear and peaceful.