We Pretend it's Alright
We Pretend it's Alright
Anakin disregarded the gawking Senator Organa, brushing past him out the door. He walked down the long narrow hallway, hearing the quiet slam of Padme's apartment door. The hall possessed five other doors, spread out along the walls. At the end of the barely illuminated hall was a window that stretched from floor to ceiling. Anakin stopped in front of the window and gazed numbly out of it.
The city is alive tonight. Sirens screeching, lights flashing all around. His eyes were again drawn to the Senate building. The main event, illuminated for all to see. Staring out over the vast city, it felt so distant, so long ago. Had all of this really have happened only a few short hours ago? It seemed as if years had passed since he had seen Mace Windu fall out the window. Could he of survived that fall? Unlikely, but Windu was a Jedi master. Maybe he had a trick or two hidden up his long billowing sleeve. Or, had the sudden attack and electrocution left him too incapacitated to do anything? It was likely the latter, but Anakin forced himself not to focus on it anymore on it. He needed to get through the next few hours, and focusing on what-ifs was not going to be helpful.
He turned away from the window. There were things that needed to get done now. Who knew how long he would be a free man? Though honestly, had he ever been…
Anakin turned to the emergency exit on the wall to the left of the window and opened it. Stepping outside onto a small platform that light up open his touch, the cold night air stung his weary body and he repressed a shudder, trying to ignore the icy coldness filling his lungs. But the night air started to wake him up, return his senses. It felt as though the force was flowing through him with every breath of wind that chilled him to his very core.
Activating the platform with two short stomps, Anakin moved swiftly down the side of the building atop it. The frigid winds whipped Anakin's long hair around, his heavy black robes flowing around him. The platform slowed as it approached the darkened street below and he leapt off ten feet above the ground. With the absence of his weight, the platform dimmed and fled back up the side of the building.
Drawing his large hood up over his face, the Jedi quickly blended into the hustle and bustle of the city streets, walking briskly down alleys and roads until Padme's apartment complex was no longer in sight. He was headed to the Factory district down on level 302, one of the most dangerous and dilapidated levels in the city. Anakin knew it well from the years of studying maps and exploring different prominent planets such as Coruscant to know his way around. Well he had often resented Obi Wan for making him learn the different landscapes, he know appreciated it.
Anakin walked briskly to a lift and stepped inside, punching his desired level. With his eyes still downcast and hood covering his face, the lift shot downwards. Whether it had been discovered that he had been involved in what had happened in the Chancellor's chambers, he did not know. For now it was better to stay out of busy areas regardless. With the imminent threat of arrest, Anakin was in a rush to take care of a few things before his time might be up. Actions to protect himself and his family were the most thing important right now.
Anakin pondered the phrase. It was no longer an idea, something he had maybe thought of laying awake at night. It was a reality now. A family of his own; a concept that had been inconceivable to his younger self. Back when he was nothing but a young slave, which seemed to like a lifetime ago now. The first nine years of his life had been spent as that slave, treated like an animal, out casted, and looked down upon by most. All he had ever wanted was to be free, to have a real life for himself, no more masters or someone to control him.
The solution had come in the form of the Jedi. Suddenly he was freed from servitude and off to become a Jedi, a guardian of the peace. Another form of bondage he now realized. But back then he had never been happier. He was free and going to become a Jedi, a new life full of equality and opportunities. But from the minute he had arrived at the temple, he was told he didn't meet the criteria. It shattered his newfound hope and created a boy that vowed to never fear anything and to become stronger and more powerful than any other Jedi, desperate to prove them wrong. But he still craved their acceptance, to feel he truly belonged here, that he did have what it takes to be a Jedi master.
There it was again. All he had ever wanted was to be free, a slave to no one. But being a Jedi was another kind of bondage. He was accepted to act a certain way, follow the code, and be obedient to his masters. But he had never been fully accepted. He had never fit in with his peers. Some looked down on him for starting his training so long after they had or otherwise feared his raw strength and unpredictability.
The only Jedi he had ever been remotely close to besides Obi-wan and Ahsoka was Master Plo Koon. He had often looked to him for advice and Plo Koon had been the one who convinced the council that Anakin was ready for a padawan and should train Ahsoka. Plo Koon had been the one to bring Ahsoka to the temple when she was an infant, and Anakin knew he thought of her as a daughter of sorts. After Ahsoka had left, Anakin often found himself talking or meditating with Plo Koon. It was comforting to be with someone who was going through what he was, and he knew Plo Koon felt the same. Anakin wondered what he would say about this situation. Surely the Jedi Master would believe him… wouldn't he? Anakin hoped so. He needed people on his side, and right now it seemed Padme was all he had.
There were a lot less streetlights down on level 302, a clear sign of the disparity of wealth in this between the levels. Anakin had to focus a lot more on his surroundings, this level was full of criminals and he wanted to fly under the radar tonight. The Coruscant Police might already be looking for him and there was no way he was going to let them take him without a fight. Anakin had no plans to be arrested tonight.
Turning down a side road away from the center of the district, Anakin approached a communication station. It was old and only half worked, but it would do the job. After accessing the system, Anakin activated a frequency offering a bounty for any information about the Sith Lord Darth Sidious. It was a bit of a long shot, but similar things had worked in the past for him on a smaller scale. Next, he sent out an ancient Jedi frequency only he and Ahsoka had used occasionally when they were in a tough situation with no other means of communication. He was doubtful she would intercept it or respond, but he had to try. He really needed her here, even if only to help and support Padme.
Pulling his hood farther down his face, he was about to shut down the system when a thought came to him. Quickly he searched for his own name in the arrest warrants and other bounties and couldn't help but feel a small bit of relief that there wasn't anything under his name relating to the murders, just the usual Jedi bounties. There was a bid for anyone with information about the "Coruscant assassination" as they were calling it, but nothing specifically about him. It seemed their only lead at the moment was that he was a tall cloaked figure. He shut off the station and swiftly walked away, starting his trek up and out of the district. Little did he know currently a droid that had registered his face while Anakin had been walking out of the senate building had also just read that frequency and was already on his way to the Police building.
Anakin needed to get a message to Obi Wan, to talk to him before he found out about this mess from another source. He needed to explain his side of the story and to tell his former mentor everything, even about him and Padme, though he knew Obi Wan already suspected him of being involved with Padme. A few times his formal master had not so nonchalantly mentioned the importance of following the Jedi code, and avoiding the formation of romantic attachments. But Obi Wan would stand by him, wouldn't he? Anakin dismissed the doubt immediately. Of course he would. Obi Wan was like his brother, he would support him. But before any of this could happen, he needed to find out where Obi Wan was. Last he had heard, Obi Wan was headed off on another lead about General Grievous, but he could be back by now.
It took Anakin a little under an hour to make his way back out of the heart of the 302nd level and back up to level 8. He intended to catch a train back to a station near the Jedi temple, as that would be another hour of walking versus a ten minute ride. The station loomed in front of him, illuminated by the artificial lights that hung around the station. But something was wrong. No trains where coming or going and people stood all around, shouting complaints as police tried to disperse them. Anakin drew his cloak tighter around himself and shrunk back away from the brightly light platform.
"All public transportation on Coruscant is temporary closed while a city wide search for Anakin Skywalker is conducted. We apologies for the inconvenience. Anyone with information of Skywalker's whereabouts please contact the Coruscant Police immediately."
The recording blared out of speakers all over the station and a large picture of him on a huge screen where the ticket information usually was displayed glared down at everyone. He supposed they must have picked this photo because of the disgruntled expression he wore. The photo made him look downright evil and he supposed that played right into their hand. Turning the public against him before they even heard his side of the story.
Guess he would be walking to the temple then.
We Pretend it's Alright
Padme finally fell asleep in the early hours of the morning, her exhaustion overcoming her worry. Only after about four hours of sleep she was awaken by Threepio, who was shouting for her while running through the apartment towards the bed room.
"Mistress Padme! Mistress Padme! You most certainly have to see this!"
Hearing the droid's calls, Padme sighed and slowly pushed herself up and out of bed. Grabbing her blue robe from the armchair next to her bed, she had just wrapped it around her large form as the protocol droid entered the room.
"What's going on Threepio?" Padme asked tiredly as she tied the warm robe above her protruding stomach.
"It's Master Ani! He's on the Holo News! They are saying-"
But Padme heard no one as she pushed past Threepio, running as fast as her body would allow towards sitting room where the Holo projector that had been left on last night was still playing the Coruscant News.
As she drew closer, she started to hear the reporters' voices, but couldn't make out what they were saying. Threepio followed behind her, tittering worriedly. Padme finally reached the room and stood frozen in the doorway. The Holoprojector was on 2D mode and on the wall was projected a clip of members of the military police escorting Anakin into the Senate building, a stony look on his face. In the background Padme could the reporter saying, "The cloaked-murderer has been confirmed to Jedi Knight and Clone Wars General Anakin Skywalker, The "Hero with No Fear". He was taken into Custody an hour ago after a city-wide hunt that lasted five hours. This footage was taken an hour ago at the justice department as Skywalker was brought in. Skywalker evaded capture for about two hours after the planet wide lockdown of all transportation but was eventually found on a Jedi docking bay. After being pursued by police for an additional two hours, the accused murderer of Chancellor Palpatine and four Jedi Masters was arrested." The screen flashed back to the reporters after the Senate building doors shut behind the precession.
"How is the happening?" Padme murmured, zoning out as the news began to go into detail of the crimes he was accused of and the death of the Chancellor.
A knock on the door pulled her out of her thoughts and she hastened to answer, wondering who would be here so early?
Padme opened the door a crack to see Obi-Wan Kenobi on her door step, looking quite troubled.
We Pretend it's Alright
"Senator Amidala! Senator Amidala! Care to give a statement on the arrest of the General and Jedi, Anakin Skywalker?"
Padme disregarded the reporters as she was lead through the crowd in front of the Senate building by a pair of guards designated to crowd control. Her arms subconsciously moved in front of her stomach. Large crowds and pregnancy were two things Padme did not like to mix. It brought out all kinds of stresses she did not need, especially right not. There was enough to worry about without this.
Padme had crossed a large black robe over her over her deep purple gown, mostly hiding her belly and perfect for playing the part of a senator grieving for her former mentor and leader of the Republic. Thankfully she could get away with wearing whatever she needed to disguise her pregnancy as a senator and due to the cooler weather and most were none the wiser. Every now and then she would notice someone squinting curiously at her, but no one had dared to question her except for Bail. She had done her best to avoid going out in public as much as possible for the past three months, only attending meetings in person when absolutely necessary. But now, being seven and a half months pregnant with twins, she couldn't really conceal it all that well. She had really avoided being out of either her office or apartment for the last month especially, but even with baggy outfits, it was still noticeable. There would surely be talk after today, but hopefully there was enough other news to keep the tabloids occupied.
"This way Senator Amidala." The guard in front of lead her up the monotonous gray steps to the immense stone doors of building, the other guard following behind them with Artoo. The first guard typed out a code on a small panel next to the door and took a step back, waiting. It was quite unusual for the Senate building to be so closed off to the public, but in the wake of the assignation of the Chancellor of the Republic, it was understandable that the building holding the accused murder and all members of government was on lock down.
"State your name and purpose." The brusque voice boomed out of a speaker on the panel, its tone harsh and gruff. The guard shot Padme a quick, suspicious look, before turning back to the panel and holding down a small blur button, proceeding to answer, "Sir we have Senator Padme Amidala of Naboo here claiming she is Prisoner 95746's lawyer and demanding to see him at once." She noticed his tone of distain and contempt as he uttered Anakin's prisoner number and she found herself thinking, was Obi-Wan right? Would no one believe Anakin was innocent? The public wanted vengeance for their beloved dead leader. Would it matter to them if the accused was guilty or not?
"Let her through." The voice replied. The monstrous stone doors of the building swung open, allowing them access.
"Madam Senator, this way please." The guard led her through the open doors, which quickly shut behind them, blocking out all noises of the crowd behind her. It was eerily silent in the vast entrance hall. There were Clones everywhere, lining all walls and doors. They stood like statues, stiff and mute.
They had walked now more than ten feet into the building before they were stopped by a rather tall man, flanked by two guards. The tall man leading the group was dressed in a uniform similar to those of the guards, except for a badge of his right shoulder, signifying his higher rank.
"Madam Senator, you will now be escorted to a private room to undergo security screenings before you proceed down to the sublevels. Please follow me."
Padme did not respond, but nodded. They would be more inclined to let her through if she complied. She followed him down a side hall and into a large windowless room. The tall man showed her into the room, half her clone escort following her in well the others guarded the door outside. The room contained basic security screening droids, machinery, and little more.
"I need to confer with security of the sublevels." He said to her, before turning to the clones and ordering, "Basic procedure." With that he left the room, the door closing sharply behind him.
After quite a few rounds of screenings, answering a few basic questions, and a whole lot of waiting, Padme was finally cleared to go downstairs. Ignoring the rising feeling of foreboding, Padme followed the four clone troopers that were escorting her to the sublevels of the building, where she knew criminals waiting for or in trial were contained. She herself had never been down past the second sublevel, as if was not usually her place to interfere with criminal cases. That's not to say she hadn't acted as a lawyer a handful of times, most notable for Ahsoka a year ago when she was accused of bombing the Jedi temple, but even then most meetings were held on the first sublevel.
"Which level is Skywalker held on?" She asked casually, trying to seem as if she was just making friendly conversation.
"I am not at liberty to say Ma'am." The clone to the right of her replied, as they reached an elevator. Padme repressed the slight twinge of annoyance and watched as the clone that had just spoken stepped forward, retrieved a small card from his utility belt, and held it up to a sensor next to the elevator doors. The sensor flashed green and with a ding the elevator doors slid open.
"This way please."
The four clones and Padme all squeezed into the cramped elevator, two in front of her and two behind. The head clone punched something into a key pad and the doors shut, the elevator moving swiftly downward. There was no screen displaying the floors as there normally would be and an ominous feeling seemed have gotten in the lift with them. They stood in silence and Padme tried to once again found herself subconsciously wrapping her arms around her enlarged stomach, pressing her lips tightly together as she stifled a grimace at the sudden kicking of one of the twins. Even though the kicking wasn't especially pleasant, it was somewhat comforting just to know that her babies were alive and kicking and right now she could use all the comfort she could get.
After a minute or so, they stopped and the metal door slowly reopened. Outside stood four more clones, two criminal guards, and a rather stout bald man wearing formal robes and holding an air of self-importance around him. The two clones in front of her stepped aside and Padme exited the elevator, the doors behind her then clinking shut and the sound of the lift moving back upward could be heard.
"Senator Amidala, I must admit I received quite a surprise when I was informed you were on your way down to the high-security prisoner level today." The stout man spoke with a tone of superiority and had an artificial smile of his wide face. Padme instantly disliked him.
"Allow me to introduce myself." His smile widened and she caught a glimpse of obscenely white teeth behind his thin lips. "I am Pronlin Olingen, Senior-Undersecretary to the esteemed warden of this facility, and Chief Warden of this level."
His smile hardened when she did not reply. She had no interest in this man, the only man here she wished to speak to was Anakin and this was simply a ploy to try to gather information on him.
"Please, walk with me Madam Senator." He held out him arm and waved other hand to dismiss the six clones and the two guards.
"If you don't mind Warden, I would prefer two clones to stay with us." Padme asserted icily, not moving an inch towards Olingen. This was a classic power play and Padme was not about to let her guard down, figuratively or literally.
The Senior-Undersecretary's smile tightened, his thin lips turning white, and his pinched nostrils flaring. But nevertheless, he signaled two of the clones to say. "Will this suffice?" He asked, a hint of mocking in his tone, but Padme smiled graciously and started walking, brushing past him and the two clones following her.
"Perfect, my deepest thanks Senior-Undersecretary." She called behind her, as a spluttering Olingen hurried to catch up with her, elbowing his way past the Clones.
"Madam Senator, I understand that out have proclaimed yourself prisoner 95746's lawyer, but-"
"I have not proclaimed anything." Padme interrupted, trying to keep her voice even. "Mr. Skywalker has been my client legally for quite a while and this case changes nothing." This was technically true, as two years ago Anakin had "borrowed" a landspeeder while chasing a bounty hunter and had been tried for stealing a vehicle. In the end he had only had to pay for damages, but he had still needed a lawyer and Padme had begrudgingly agreed. She was thankful now for if she wasn't already technically his lawyer, there was no way she would have been able to see him today and possibly not for weeks.
"Well Senator, if you follow me, I can take you to a room where you be permitted to meet with your client for a limited amount of time, as he is under the highest level of security due to him being a terrorist and mass murder."
Padme did not respond, though anger was bubbling up inside her red hot. But she knew that was the reaction he wanted out of her, and she refused to oblige to his wishes. He was just looking for an excuse to "have to escort her out", and there was no way she was going to let happen.
Padme walked in stony silence as Olingen continued to speak, and not a word of it registered in Padme's head. They walked down many long and twisting hallways, and eventually stopped in front of a large gray door with no window.
Olingen unlocked the door with a quick scan of a card and he ushered Padme inside. The room contained a small table and two metal chairs that looked very uncomfortable.
"Please wait here and we shall bring prisoner 95746 shortly." He smirked at her again and stepped back out of the room. "Have a splendid day Madam Senator." He said before slamming the door shut.
Padme took her gaze off the closed door and immediately looked around, scanning the room for any security recorders. There were none. In fact, the only thing in the room besides the table and chairs was a small clock on above the door. Supposing she might as well sit down, Padme gingerly sat down on one of the rickety chairs, thankful to be off her swollen feet.
She sat in silence as the minutes trickled by. One hour, then one more. What was this game they were playing? If Anakin was in interrogation, she had a right to be there as his lawyer and if he wasn't, where was he? That thought was honestly more worrying. She had to keep in mind that was being held for the assassination of the Chancellor if the Grand Republic and that the rest of the world did not know the true story of what had happened. Knowing what she did, she forgot that the rest of the world didn't see the late chancellor as the evil creature he was. He was their adored leader and had died a hero in public eye.
Where did that leave Anakin?
He is a well known war hero and Jedi knight, but that paled in comparison to Palpatine's popularity. Would anyone honestly believe that the chancellor had been an evil sith lord who had waged a war against himself to throw the galaxy into turmoil in order to eventually gain total control of it all? Even thinking about it now it was hard to believe, and she was significantly more informed than the average citizen. Did most people even know what a Sith was? Unlikely, most were very uniformed about the Jedi. A sharp jab pulled the Senator out of her thoughts and she looked down at her stomach, a sad smile on her face.
"You are a pair of little fighters, aren't you?" She murmured, placing her hand over her abdomen, and feeling the light kicks tiny feet. "I forget you're really in there sometimes." Would her children grow up without a father? Tears pricked her eyes and she hastily wiped them away. She would not cry right now.
Padme glanced up at the clock. Four hours she had sat there. She knew they were trying to wait her out, but what they didn't know was that she had waited years for Anakin. Four hours was nothing.
The door opened, and a man in rags was shoved inside, to the floor.
"Ten minutes." A guard barked, before slamming the door shut. Padme quickly got to her feet, and knelled down besides Anakin, who was starting to stand up.
"Hey Angel." Anakin smiled, grimacing in pain as he got to his feet, before drawn into a tight hug by Padme, though as he was in handcuffs, and he was unable to fully return it. "Told you I'd see you today, didn't I?"
We Pretend it's Alright
Hello! Back again with another chapter up. Any thoughts? The chapter was originally around 8,000 words long, but I moved Padme and Anakin's meeting to next chapter, along with a lighter flashback, as this story is getting pretty dense and I honestly just needed to write something in here a little lighter. Plus one of my favorites characters, if not my favorite, shows up sort of, so yay! But you'll just have to keep reading to find out, mwahahaha!
Also, I am aware that these first two chapters, and the next one, deal a lot with set up, but don't worry. After this setup, the plot will really get going and will drive the chapters more than just the thoughts of the characters.
Thanks again for reading, and please review so I can see how you all are liking it, or if there is anything that didn't make sense(I don't always write this story in order, so I might of overlooked something here or there accidentally).
Till the next chapter!