A FAMILIAR PRESENCE

...Perhaps with a familiar presence the mystery surrounding this threat will be revealed...


Senator Amidala had Artoo act as an informal spy on the Jedi's activities. She typed her speech to the Corellian Ambassador and listened for the little droid's whistle. When it came, she got up from her desk and strolled out into the reception room.

Jedi Skywalker was standing by the huge bay window that looked out to the city traffic. Artoo was beside him. The little droid turned slightly to greet her with a whistle and a glowing red indicator. She wondered if it was possible to have studied the Jedi unobtrusively even if Artoo had not given her away. Anakin Skywalker had looked up the moment she entered the room.

"Pad - Senator." He paused and stared at her, his uneasiness and pleasure evident in his voice and his body.

"I sent your friend to you," she said from where she stood at the door. "I thought you would be pleased."

"I am." He grinned down at Artoo. "He's been an immense help to me. He argued that the other security droid was ill-suited to your needs and I've had to re-program him to perform security functions."

Padmé glanced down at the little dome shape. Artoo seemed to wink back at her.

"So." She hesitated before she began. He would help her, she reminded herself. If she could prevent him from seeing the danger to herself, she knew he would help her willingly. She was not a Jedi but she was a Senator and she knew enough about people's intentions and manipulation. "How have you been, Anakin?" It was impossible to call him her old name for him. It was like calling a stranger the name of a best friend.

"Well. Good." The Jedi had the sky-blue eyes of the little slave boy from Tatooine and they gazed at her with the same old adoration and awe. There was something new now. It should not have disturbed her because she had seen it in men's eyes before. But it had always been unobtrusive, veiled out of custom and courtesy. The desire in the Jedi's eyes frightened her with its sincerity.

The little slave boy had been her best friend. She had come into his life without knowing her hands were open, asking for help and he had saved her and her people. She had remembered his adoration over the years; its symbol was in the japor snippet that pressed into her corset. The desert woman had given the little slave boy to the Queen and she had loved him as a mother would love her first child.

"Just well... good?" She teased softly.

Anakin fidgeted and took his eyes from her. She enjoyed the respite for a few seconds before his gaze turned back to her with even more intensity.

"I suppose you're talking about what happened over there." He shrugged towards the small conference table.

She shrugged back. It had been on her mind ever since he had looked across at her and promised her that he would find who was trying to kill her. "I have never pretended to be an expert in Jedi etiquette."

Anakin stared at her. She had not forgotten Jedi perceptivity and she knew that he knew that she was lying. She waited for him to confront her or turn his eyes away.

"Well, I meant what I said," he said finally which was exactly what Padmé wanted to hear. She released the breath that she had not even realized that she was holding. She came to stand in front of the window. Their bodies were close. His heat touched hers and she felt her body wanting to respond to it the way it had wanted to when his eyes had first looked into hers that afternoon.

"How?"

He did not need to ask what she meant. He swallowed in a huge gulp of breath then launched.

"The security droids in the lower levels have a range of 50m. Any intruder that comes within that area will be interrogated by the droid and Master Kenobi and myself. The circumferential S5 droids in the upper levels, that is, this area have a magnetorepulso range of 150m. Any intruder that comes within that range will be magnetically repulsed to a distance of 500 to 800m depending on its body mass. And out of our hands for interrogation and investigation." He blushed, aware that he was lecturing, his enthusiasm carrying him away. "Every intelligent creature has a unique Force signature. It is stronger in us Jedi than others but everyone has a signature that can be used to track the person's physical position in the Force. This is what I intend to do. When the assassin comes, I will detect his signature and I will track him down."
He still talked with his hands and his face. That much had not changed. She could see the passion he had for his calling and for her safety.

"Doesn't this require a lot of concentration? When the Chancellor requested for Jedi to track down Nute Gunray's Sith Lord, they were unable to do so."

"The Sith, like the Jedi, can manipulate the Force so they can shield their signature from a tracker. But it does require a lot of concentration and that is why usually a tracker tracks in the meditative state."

"So you will -"

"Yes."

"And Master Kenobi. He will -"

"He will know."

Senator Amidala looked at the Jedi Padawan and wondered what this boy had seen in the fourteen-year-old Queen Amidala that had made him keep a devotion to her for more than ten years. In the eyes of the Senate and the populace, Senator Amidala and Queen Amidala were still one and the same person, the doll-warrior of passion and ideals and impeachable integrity. They forgot that innocence could not survive in a Queen that had resorted to a war and bloodshed in order for her planet to survive in a corrupt Republic. The innocence had been lost when she had weighed human life on a scale like the Maker and had chosen to sacrifice other lives for her own and for her planet. When she had buried en mass all those that had died in the war and the concentration camps and she had realized that in order to beat corruption, one had to utilize it; and in order to use it, one had to be a part of it.

"You cannot do this on your own. I will help you."

He stiffened at her words and she could almost feel the sense of protectiveness rising up in him.

"My Lady, my purpose is defeated if you put yourself in danger."

"I won't be. I have a plan but it is much simpler. You will track the assassin without Obi-Wan ever knowing that that was always your original intention."

"How?"

She watched him as she told him. She studied the way every reaction to her and her words showed in his face, his eyes, and his body. He was a little boy in a man's body and he was a temptation to her. The senator could not remember the last time that a man had adored her for anything less than her political ideals. She could not remember the last time that a man had wanted her for anything more than her body. The Jedi's adoration had been preserved from the beginning, from when he was a slave in a desert planet and she had walked in from the sun and had become an angel. In Naboo, she had studied angels of Iego as she read herself to sleep. Angels usured in death. Later, she would wonder if there was a reason why she was not warned.

The Jedi returned her gaze with silence. After a while, she realized that she was no longer speaking. It did not need to be discussed further. She knew that he would do as she asked; he would do whatever she asked. She felt the heat rising in her this time she did not repress it. She let herself imagine as and what she had never done before. She looked at his hands and tried to imagine them on her own and on her bare skin. She looked at his body and imagined the length of it flushed against hers, imagined it crushing hers beneath it. She looked at his lips and wondered how they would taste. She studied his face and saw that the little boy looked out from the Jedi's eyes but hiding behind his face. She saw his cheeks were pink, his throat was working furiously, his hands were fidgety; and she remembered that Jedi could read minds.

No. You could not remember what you never forgot.

The Jedi's lips were moving. She watched them in fascination.

"Padmé."

He was leaning towards her.

She turned away.

"Anakin!"

Master Kenobi was striding towards them. Padmé wondered idly if it was usual for a Jedi to show agitation.

"My Lady." He bowed to her, then stood back and studied her with a gaze that was both blank and suspicious.

She inclined her head, acknowledging the greeting and ignoring the unspoken question. Next to her, the Padawan no longer fidgeted but stood stiff and defiant against his Master.

"Captain Typho and I have just debriefed the security personnel downstairs." He paused. "My Padawan would need to speak with the Captain as well."

The Jedi Master was requesting permission from the Senator to collect his Padawan?

"Of course." She turned to look into the Anakin's eyes. "Thank you for your time, Jedi Skywalker."

He bowed and hid his eyes from her. "I am always at your service, My Lady."

She felt the eyes of both Jedi boring into her back as she went back to her rooms.

FIN