Summary: AU. Anakin and Obi-Wan are reunited for another adventure, after Anakin 'misplaces' his seven-year-old twins on Coruscant.
Author's Note: This fic is a sequel to 'Anakin and the Twins', but is complete unto itself. The backstory is simply that Anakin did not turn and lives with his family on Naboo. Last revised
Modified: 25 March 2008
Twins2: Lost On Coruscant
Padmé opened her eyes and sat up suddenly.
Some lingering sense of whatever had woken her remained in her mind … something was amiss. Throughout the last ten years, she had learnt to trust that instinct with her life. She turned quickly, and studied Anakin. Her husband was seated next to her in the pilot's chair, reading the scopes and pressing the odd button. He turned and gave her a small, innocent smile in response to her inquiring gaze.
She looked around the edge of her seat and scanned their passengers. The two seven-year-old twins gave her two twin smiles. Seatbelts done up, arms folded, clothes and hair tidy. It was all a little too perfect.
However, Padmé eventually returned the twins' smile, and shifted her head back into the headrest. She closed her eyes, and silently counted up to five. Without any prior indication, she then stood up and turned around in one single, fluid movement.
The twins froze halfway between passing a packet of cosmo crunchies. Padmé didn't speak, she merely held out her hand. Leia reluctantly placed the offending item into it.
"Anakin!" Padmé said, as she sat down, "I said no snacks before lunch."
Anakin shrugged, grinning.
"You let those children talk you into anything," Padmé continued.
"But they're so cute," Anakin said, looking pleadingly at Padmé.
"Yeah, Mom, we're so cute!" Luke interrupted.
"You're not cute!" Leia protested.
"Am so. Dad said so."
"He was talking about me!"
"Stop that," Padmé interrupted, "Or we're turning around right now."
The twins immediately fell silent.
Padmé yawned, and stretched her neck. "How long until we get there?" she asked.
"About an hour," Anakin said, glancing at the ship's chronometer.
"Good. One more chance to go over this speech." Padmé dug for the datapad, which had fallen down the side of her chair. "I swear it, after this amendment is passed, I'm going to retire."
"You've said that every year since we married," Anakin said, smirking.
"I know," Padmé said, "This time I mean it."
"Mom, Luke's staring at me," Leia said.
"Luke, don't stare at your sister," Padmé said, keeping her eyes focused on the datapad.
"She was staring at me first!"
"I've got an idea," Padmé said, turning slightly to face them, "Why don't you two tell your father where you want to spend the afternoon on Coruscant."
"Megatron Toy Universe!!" Luke yelled.
Anakin almost fell out of his chair in shock. "No way!!" he said, shuffling back into his seat, "No way am I taking the two of you in there! I'll never see you again."
"I'll be good!" Luke said.
"Really, really good," Leia agreed.
Padmé hid a smile.
"After that, can we go to the space museum?" Luke asked.
"And the zoo!!" Leia said.
"No!!" Anakin said, looking terrified, "We're not going to all those places! We're going to one place. One!!"
"Hologram world, then," Luke said.
"No, Labyrinth Park is better," Leia said.
"How about the Jedi Temple?" Anakin said, "You can have lots of fun there."
Both twins fell silent and looked at their father with wide-eyed disbelief.
"That's boring," Luke said.
"The boringest place in the entire universe!" Leia agreed.
"Come on, it's not that bad," Anakin said, "We can go sit in the library and meditate."
"Padmé, help me out here," Anakin pleaded.
"You're the Jedi," Padmé said, concentrating on her speech, "Use one of your mind-tricks."
"They don't work on them!"
"Who, exactly, do they work on, Anakin?" Padmé asked, glancing in his direction.
"My teacher," Luke said.
Everyone turned to stare at him.
Luke shuffled uncomfortably. "Whaaaat!?"
"You kids -" Anakin started.
"Are going to make you turn to the Dark Side, yes, Ani, we know," Padmé said.
The twins giggled.
"That's right," Anakin said, checking the ship's scopes, "You'll all come home one day, and there I'll be, sitting in the lounge, hidden under a black cloak. You'll say, 'Ani, is that you?' -" He paused as the twins laughed at his imitation of their mother, " - and the twins will say, 'Dad? Is that you?'. But only a low, gravelly voice will answer you."
Anakin switched to the voice he had described, "Anakin has gone. There is only I. Darth Vader."
"Darth Vader?" Padmé asked, barely containing her laughter.
"Yes. That would make a good Sith name, don't you think?"
"You've really thought this out, haven't you?"
"Daddy," Leia interrupted, "We're going to Labyrinth Park, aren't we?"
"No," Anakin said, still in his 'Sith' voice, "I have decided. We are spending the afternoon at the temple, and that is my final decision."
"No more Darth Vader," Luke said, "I want our real Dad back!!"
"Okay," Anakin said, switching back to his normal voice, "I still say we're spending the afternoon at the temple. It's time we did what I want for a change."
Padmé raised an eyebrow at Anakin in surprise.
"Well, you're always accusing me of spoiling them," Anakin said.
"I'll believe it when I see it," Padmé said, smiling to herself. After all, the twins had another hour to wear down Anakin's resolve.
She doubted her husband would last ten minutes.
"Anakin, that was nothing short of amazing," Padmé said, as they walked down the ship's ramp. They had arrived at the Naboo embassy on Coruscant. "I've never seen you so uncompromising."
"They do say married couples start becoming more and more alike -"
Padmé pushed him, causing Anakin to teeter on the edge of the ramp. He just managed to regain his balance, when the twins rushed down the ramp, causing him to fall.
"Uncle Jar Jar!!" Luke and Leia yelled, running full tilt until they bounced into the waiting gungan.
They giggled, throwing their arms around his legs.
"Yousa grown so, so tall!!" he said, grinning widely.
"Hello Jar Jar," Padmé said, reaching the ground, "How's the situation?"
"Right on schedule, m'lady," Jar Jar said, "Wesa meeting in one hour."
Padmé turned to Anakin, who was picking himself up off the landing pad. "You go on, then, Ani. I'll see you after the speech."
Anakin nodded, making it to his feet and walking over to the group.
"Yousa not stayin', Ani?" Jar Jar enquired.
"We're meeting Obi-Wan for lunch at Dex's," Anakin explained, reaching out to take the twins' hands. "Then we'll be heading back for to the Jedi Temple. If all goes to plan, we'll be at the senate in time to hear an incredible and rousing speech from an exceptionally beautiful politician."
"Thank yousa, Ani, I have been working especially hard on mesa speech," Jar Jar said, causing Padmé to stifle a laugh at Anakin's disgusted expression. Jar Jar was oblivious, however. "Say heyo to Obi for me."
"I will Jar Jar," Anakin said, still looking vaguely disgusted.
Padmé bent down to straighten Luke's collar. "You two be good for your father," she said, pulling them into a hug.
As she straightened up, Anakin leaned over to kiss her. "You'll do fine," he said. "More than fine."
"Thanks," Padmé said, "And I know you don't believe in it, but good luck."
"We're going to the temple, remember?" Anakin said.
"Sure," Padmé said, knowingly.
"Dad," Luke asked, leaning over the side of the air-taxi, "How long did it take them to build all these buildings?"
"Hundreds and hundreds of years," Anakin said.
"Did they start building when you were born, Dad?" Leia asked.
"What's that supposed to mean!" Anakin said. He glanced down, and saw the familiar restaurant. "Set down here," he said to the droid driver, "We'll be back in an hour."
"I can see Obi-Wan!" Luke yelled, as they landed with a bump.
Leia pushed her brother away from the window. "Where?"
"Not telling," Luke said.
"Stop it, you two," Anakin said, sliding open the door and stepping out onto the pavement. "You have to make a good impression on Obi-Wan. No arguing, no pushing. Best behavior, understood?"
"I still can't see him!!" Leia complained.
"'Cause you're -" Luke started.
"Come on," Anakin sighed, offering a hand to each twin. "And remember - good impression!"
Anakin wasn't certain, but he thought he caught a look pass between the twins, as they crossed the busy pavement to meet Obi-Wan. Those secret 'twin' looks always worried him. He swallowed his fears, though; it was too late to do anything now.
Obi-Wan walked forward to greet them, grinning widely.
"Hello Master," Anakin said, returning the smile.
"Hello Anakin." Obi-Wan glanced down. "And you've brought your partners in crime, I see."
"Hi," Luke said, happily, "I saw you first!!"
"Congratulations," Obi-Wan said, gesturing for the group to move inside.
"I'm hungry, Obi-Wan," Leia said, tugging at the Jedi Master's sleeve.
"I'm sure you are, after such a long journey," Obi-Wan replied, putting his arm around Leia.
Anakin couldn't help but sigh with relief as they made their way into Dex's. So far, so good.
Luke ran for the nearest free eating booth, and slid in first. Obi-Wan joined him, and Anakin sat opposite, with Leia. A droid rolled up immediately.
"Whada ya want?"
"Ah …" Anakin said, "Two kids meals, please. And two Obi-Wan specials."
Dex had renamed Obi-Wan's favorite meal about ten years ago, as a joke. The name had stuck.
"How's Padmé?" Obi-Wan asked, as the droid rolled away, "Still over-working herself?"
Anakin nodded. "Although on the way here, she was talking about retiring."
"After my current apprentice is knighted, I may consider doing that myself."
"You?" Anakin laughed, "Ha! I'd believe Padmé would retire sooner than I'd believe you."
Obi-Wan smiled. "And how about you, my old Padawan? Keeping busy?"
"Dad says he's going to turn into a sif lord," Luke said, suddenly.
Obi-Wan looked at Luke in surprise.
"Named Daf Vader," Leia added.
"Anakin?" Obi-Wan said, looking concerned.
"Ah, just a running family joke," Anakin said, quickly, turning red, "And look! There's our food!"
The droid returned, placing their meals and drinks down on the table. The twins began to eat and drink immediately, while Anakin smoothed out their napkins.
"Liasing with the council keeps me occupied," Anakin said, going back to Obi-Wan's original question, "And the Naboo royal intelligence service is always grateful for my help. And, of course, looking after the family is a full-time job, unto itself."
"I'd believe that," Obi-Wan said, ruffling Luke's hair.
"Padmé's niece is graduating next week," Anakin added, between mouthfuls.
"And you still hear from Owen and Beru?"
Anakin nodded. "Every so often. We've been talking about visiting them next summer."
Luke had finished his lunch, and had been staring at Obi-Wan. "Obi-Wan," Luke asked, suddenly, "Why is your hair turning gray?"
"Luke!" Anakin said, shocked.
Obi-Wan simply laughed. "Because of the stress your father put me through."
"Really?" Luke asked, "What did he do?"
"Well …" Obi-Wan started, taking a sip of jawa juice, "There was this one occasion -"
"Master!" Anakin protested.
"He can tell you himself, sometime. So where are you going this afternoon?"
"The Jedi Temple," Leia said, pouting slightly.
"Come on, we'll have fun," Anakin said, scraping up the last of his food, "I can show you my old room."
"Maybe you'll find some of the explosives he used to keep in there," Obi-Wan added.
Luke eyes widened. "Let's go, then!"
"You just had to say it, didn't you master," Anakin said, putting down his fork, "You couldn't let lunch go by without sneaking in some comment about my younger, irresponsible days."
"Irresponsible days? I don't know what you mean," Obi-Wan said, his eyes twinkling.
"Come on, Dad," Luke said, crawling over the top of Obi-Wan to get out of the seat. "Are you coming, Obi-Wan?"
"I am indeed," Obi-Wan said, "I have lots to do at the temple, myself."
Anakin stood up, lifting Leia out of the booth in the process. "Do either of you need to use the refresher before we leave?"
"I do," Leia said.
"We'll wait right here for you," Anakin said.
Leia nodded, and walked off towards the ladies' refresher.
Anakin suddenly caught sight of a holovid showing a podrace. "Look, Master, it's a podrace on Fergon." Anakin stepped closer, trying to get a better view, "Remember that mission?"
Anakin glanced around and saw Obi-Wan was speaking with Dex. He looked back at the podrace, watching intently.
"Daaaaad," Luke said, tugging at his sleeve, "Leia's back. Let's go!"
"One moment," Anakin said, "I just want to watch this."
"Daaaad!" Leia said, tugging on his other sleeve.
"Go and annoy Obi-Wan," Anakin suggested, "He's talking to Dex."
The twins left him alone, and Anakin continued to watch the race. Two minutes later, it finished, and he turned to see Obi-Wan and Dex walking up behind him.
"Hello Dex," Anakin said, shaking one of Dex's huge hands.
"Anakin!! How're the twins treating ya?!"
"Like I'm immortal," Anakin said, shrugging, "The usual."
"Where are the little scamps!?"
Anakin glanced around quickly, expecting to see them within a meter radius.
"Good question," he said, suddenly nervous. "Luke! Leia!" He stretched out with the Force. Sensing no trace of them in the immediate vicinity, he crossed the room, pushing droids and annoyed customers out of the way.
Obi-Wan was right behind him. "They probably went back to the speeder," Obi-Wan suggested, sounding serious, yet calm. "Check outside."
Anakin ran out onto the pavement, turning his head left and right, hunting for any sign of his children. He skidded up to the parking lot where he had left the speeder. Nothing, not even a slick of oil, remained in the space.
He turned desperately to a Calamarian women standing nearby. "Excuse me, have you see my children? A boy and a girl, seven years old. The boy has blonde hair and was wearing a white tunic. The girl has brown hair, wearing a pink dress."
In all came out as a rushed babble, but she seemed to understand.
"I did see 'em - they climbed into a speeder right there." She gestured with a long finger.
"Did it take off?"
"Oh burning stars!!" Anakin yelled, bringing his hands to his head, just as Obi-Wan came up beside him, "Master, I've lost the twins!!"
"Now calm down," Obi-Wan said, "Think. Use the Force. They couldn't have driven that speeder by themselves."
"No, a droid was driving," Anakin said, gasping for air. "One of those automatic droid drivers!"
"Where would the twins have told it to take them?"
Anakin struggled to think. A tide of names gushed into his head - Megatron Toy Universe, Labyrinth Park, Hologram World …
"Master, they could have gone to any number of places!"
"But where are they likely to have gone," Obi-Wan said, "It isn't like them to go off alone on purpose."
"You're right!" Anakin said, "They wouldn't have done this on purpose … Master, what if the droid malfunctioned?!"
"Yes, maybe when they climbed in, the droid took off," Obi-Wan said, "And unless the twins gave it a specific destination -"
"It would have returned to the place specified in it's primary programming -" Anakin said, beginning to catch his breath.
"The Naboo Embassy," Obi-Wan said, "Why don't you contact Padmé and -"
"I can't!" Anakin said, "Then she'll know they're lost! If they have gone there, she'll contact me. I'll have to wait."
"Come inside," Obi-Wan said, "And calm down."
"But Master, what if they're in danger?! What if someone kidnapped them?! I'm never going to forgive myself -"
"Anakin, if you would just relax, you would be able to sense if that were so. Control your feelings - don't let them control you!"
Anakin collapsed into a seat, knowing his old mentor was right. He took out his comm and placed it on the table.
"They're not in danger," Anakin said, eventually "They seem happy."
"There, now see," Obi-Wan said, "Don't focus on the negative."
"How could I be so stupid?" Anakin said.
"Anakin! That is not going to help! Now, I'll tell Dex to keep an eye out in case they return here, and then we'll go and hunt for them."
Anakin nodded, running his fingers through his hair.
"Padmé is going to kill me," he mumbled.
"I can't see anything," Obi-Wan said, hanging over the side of the speeder.
Anakin stared thoughtfully over his own side, stretching out with the Force.
After Dex lent them a speeder, they started their search by flying in large circles above the traffic lanes, eventually ending up hovering over the Naboo embassy landing pad.
"I can't see any sign of the speeder," Anakin sighed, "They're not here, Master."
"All right. Where else could they have gone? We'll search methodically."
Anakin stretched out, hunting for any clue the Force could give him. He felt an echo of Luke's presence - he was happy about something.
"I've got it," Anakin said, "Megatron Toy Universe!"
Anakin slammed the accelerator, causing Obi-Wan to hit his head on the dashboard. "Ow! Anakin!"
"Sorry, Master," Anakin said, not bothering to slow down, "But if we don't get there soon, Padme and I will be paying off damage costs for the rest of our lives!"
Megatron Toy Universe was housed in a 384-floored skyscraper, and boasted the largest collection of toys anywhere in the galaxy.
Obi-Wan and Anakin strode through the doors, looking grim.
"Would you like a hover-trolley, sir?" a large fuzzy teddy-bear droid asked Anakin.
"No, I'm looking for my children," Anakin said, "Boy and girl, seven years old. Have you seen them?"
"Welcome to Megatron Toy Universe! The largest collection of toys in the galaxy!"
Anakin was about to yell an angry reply, but Obi-Wan placed a hand on his shoulder.
"This is no time for losing your temper. Can you sense them?"
Anakin stretched out. Immediately, he was bombarded by the sense of a thousand excited seven-year-olds.
"I can't tell," Anakin admitted, "There's too much distraction."
"Then we'll have to look the old-fashioned way," Obi-Wan said, "Come on, we're going in!"
Anakin blinked as Obi-Wan pulled him into the main lobby - everywhere he looked there were flashing lights, holographic displays, and day-glo colors.
"Stay focused, Anakin," Obi-Wan said, pulling him towards the lifts, which were modeled after giant pieces of fruit. "Let's do this systematically. From the top floor down."
"No, I've got a better idea," Anakin said, studying the directory on the wall, "Floor 100 has toy spaceships - that's where Luke could be."
"Floor 100 then," Obi-Wan said, entering the change.
"No wait!" Anakin said, "Model animals on floor 215 - Leia has an entire collection of those."
Obi-Wan raised his hand, about to enter the new floor.
"No, stick to 100 -"
The lift came to a halt, saving them from an argument. They stepped out, and gaped at the hundreds of aisles, jam-packed with toy spaceships of every possible description.
Anakin walked forward, staring up at the ceiling, which was a gigantic holographic recreation of the galaxy.
"Anakin!" Obi-Wan shouted in warning.
Too late. Anakin walked straight into a giant stack of boxes, causing an avalanche of toys to crash down on top of him. After a couple of seconds, Anakin emerged from the middle and climbed back to his feet.
"Heh, look at this, Master," Anakin said, holding up one of the boxes, "It's a classic Jedi Starfighter."
"Anakin, may I remind you that your children are … is that a hyperspace ring?"
"Yes," Anakin said, pulling it out of the box. The model immediately rose into the air. Anakin picked up the remote and began to fly the ship in circles around Obi-Wan.
"Well, I'll be …" Obi-Wan said, "There's even a little model Jedi pilot."
Anakin scooped it back into its box, and passed it to Obi-Wan. "Here, hold onto this. I'll buy it for Luke."
"Luke. Of course," Obi-Wan said, dryly.
"You know Jedi aren't allowed to possess things, Master," Anakin said, "Or I'd buy one for you, as well."
"We are allowed to accept presents!" Obi-Wan called as Anakin walked away.
"I'll take this end, you take that one," Anakin said, pointing.
"Still no luck?"
Anakin shook his head as he emerged from the animal department. "But I found this," Anakin said, passing Obi-Wan a soft, cuddly Shaak.
"I thought the water-gun was for Leia," Obi-Wan said, rearranging the ever-growing stack of boxes in his arms.
"It is," Anakin said, "This one is for Padmé."
"Anakin, if we don't find those twins, a toy Shaak is not going to help."
"I know," Anakin said, "Let's try the droid section. They both like droids."
"Anakin, I am not carrying a droid!"
"I'm not buying one," Anakin said, "I swear, Master."
"I'll believe it when I see it," Obi-Wan mumbled, following Anakin out of the lift. They automatically headed for opposite ends of the floor.
Obi-Wan paused to readjust his armful of toys, struggling to see over them. A miniature astromech droid beeped at him, making a chirping noise, which sounded suspiciously like a chuckle.
"Oh, that's just what I need," Obi-Wan sighed.
Suddenly, he dropped everything he was carrying, snatched his lightsaber, and twisted around. Within one millisecond, the smoking remains of a droid lay by his feet. Within two milliseconds, alarms were blaring and he was surrounded by store security. Who weren't as friendly as the giant teddy bear who'd greeted them on the way in.
"Put your hands in the air and drop your weapon!"
"Wait! No, this is all a mis-understanding!" Obi-Wan pleaded as he let his saber drop, "The droid sneaked up on me - instincts took over!"
"Take him away!" the chief guard ordered.
"I can't believe you got us banned from a toy store, Master," Anakin said, as they left the security chief's office.
"I noticed they waited until after you'd paid for all this junk, to spring that on us."
"And I was reluctant to bring the twins here," Anakin said, "They're little angels compared to you."
"Oh stop complaining," Obi-Wan said, swapping his grip on the bags, "Look, you've got all these droid parts to play with."
"Fried and burnt droid parts," Anakin said.
"That's never stopped you in the past."
"I didn't have to pay full price for them in the past," Anakin said.
"So where now?" Obi-Wan asked, loading all Anakin's purchases into the back of the speeder.
Anakin sighed, rubbing his head. "They're still not in danger … relaxed … peaceful … that's all I can sense."
"A park, maybe?" Obi-Wan suggested.
Anakin snapped his fingers. "Labyrinth Park. That was the other place they wanted to go." Anakin gunned the speeder's engine, before Obi-Wan had shut the door.
"Anakin!" Obi-Wan complained, nearly slipping out as he struggled to close the door.
"Relax, Master," Anakin said, weaving in and out of traffic, "Hold on! I think I see it!"
Obi-Wan clung desperately to his seat restraints as Anakin twisted the speeder into a dive.
"Yes, I can see the sign," Anakin said, not bothering to slow.
Obi-Wan leaned forward until he could see their destination. "The speeder-park looks full to me."
"I can see one free space!" Anakin said, excitedly. He accelerated.
A black speeder, with tinted windows, suddenly appeared beside them.
"I think we might have competition for that parking space, Anakin," Obi-Wan said, gesturing.
Anakin went faster. "In their dreams!!"
"Anakin!" Obi-Wan complained, gripping his seat.
Anakin wasn't listening. "Cha skrundee da pat, sleemo!" he yelled towards the other speeder.
"Anakin, this isn't a podrace!" Obi-Wan yelled.
"Master, my children could be lost in there!" Anakin said, turning towards Obi-Wan.
"ANAKIN!!" Obi-Wan yelled, covering his eyes.
Anakin jammed on the brakes, and they crashed into the empty space, smashing into the barrier in shower of sparks.
"Perfect!" Anakin said, climbing out.
Obi-Wan rested his head in his hands for a minute, before joining Anakin beside the speeder. The front bumper was completely melted.
"I wonder what happened to those other guys?" Anakin said, looking up at the traffic lanes.
"They probably decided to find another place to park when they realized you were a maniac, Anakin," Obi-Wan suggested.
"Come on," Anakin said, walking towards the exit, "This shouldn't take long."
"At least there is no line," Obi-Wan said, as they walked through the main entrance.
They immediately found themselves at the top of a several large pink slides. Far down below, there was a line, which looped and twisted around until it had filled the entire hangar-sized room.
At one end, there was one entrance booth, which was slowly letting the patrons through.
"No," Obi-Wan said, "I am not going down a slide. And I am not waiting in a line for the rest of the week. See if you can sense the twins from here."
"There's too much interference," Anakin said, looking around. "But we can skip that line if we say we're on Jedi business. It won't take a long to check inside."
"That sign says it takes two hours," Obi-Wan said, pointing at a flashing banner above the entrance.
"For kids, maybe," Anakin said, "We're Jedi. Come on, Master."
"No slide!" Obi-Wan complained, as Anakin pulled him forward, "Isn't there a mature adult entrance?"
"No," Anakin said, "Come on, Master, where's your sense of fun?!"
Anakin jumped on, and skidded down standing up. He grinned back up at Obi-Wan, from the bottom, and waited.
Obi-Wan let out a loud groan, and reluctantly sat on the slide. He moved three meters, before he came to a halt.
"Hurry up, Master!" Anakin complained.
"This slide doesn't appear to be working," Obi-Wan said, attempting to push himself forward.
Suddenly, a child came skidding into the back of him, causing them to both slide down with such momentum, they ended up in a heap on the floor.
"Whoops, sorry mister," the Rodian child said, scrambling to his feet.
Anakin laughed, and then reached out a hand to help Obi-Wan up. Obi-Wan glared at him, causing Anakin to quickly withdraw the offer of help.
"Come on, let's find the front of this line," Obi-Wan said, standing up and straightening his robe.
Anakin followed behind, ignoring the annoyed shouts and insults as they made their way to the front.
"Jedi business," Obi-Wan said, once they reached the booth, "We need to get in right away."
The cashier looked Obi-Wan up and down a few times, before seeming satisfied.
"Certainly, Master Jedi. That will be 40 republic credits, each."
"40 credits?!" Obi-Wan said.
"This isn't a charity, sir."
"Here," Anakin said, handing the cashier his credit card.
After the transaction was complete, the cashier handed them both two green wrist-bands. Anakin accepted them, and pulled Obi-Wan forward, into a waiting tunnel.
"There you go," Anakin said, handing Obi-Wan one of the wrist-bands, "Put that on. It tells them you paid to be here."
Both of them jumped as a hovering neon-green droid suddenly appeared in the darkness in front of them. Music began to emanate from it.
"Greetings! Welcome to Labyrinth Park, the most fun-filled maze in the universe! If you get lost, please press one of the glowing green buttons you will find on the walls! I will come and rescue you!"
The droid began to sing the park's theme song, causing Anakin to groan in annoyance.
The droid fell silent. "You don't like my music, sir?" it said, sounding hurt.
"Come on, Anakin," Obi-Wan said, dragging Anakin away from the droid, "Hopefully this will only take ten minutes."
"I am not pressing the green button!" Obi-Wan insisted.
"I think we're the only people left in this crazy place," Anakin said, going around a corner into yet another dead end.
"I don't care if we have to sleep here, Anakin, we're going to find our own way out."
"I'm sure we've already been down this way," Anakin said, trying another route.
"We have not. I have an excellent sense of direction."
"It hasn't helped us much," Anakin mumbled.
"What was that?"
"I said, look at that thing!" Anakin said, pointing up at a net hanging from the ceiling. Inside, were two hovering droids.
"Another experiment in abstract art," Obi-Wan said, "Come on. This is the way out."
"They are saying something," Anakin said, "Listen."
Obi-Wan paused, and they looked up at the net.
"Free us! Free us! And we'll lead you home!"
"There's our way out!" Anakin said, moving towards the net.
"Wait, are you sure we're supposed to do that?" Obi-Wan said.
"Of course," Anakin said, "It's supposed to teach kids a lesson in compassion. Free the trapped fuzzy things, and they'll help you! Understand?"
"If you say so," Obi-Wan sighed.
Anakin reached up to pull a rope, which caused the net to fall to the ground. The two fuzzy, hovering droids rose into the air, making happy chirps.
"Okay," Anakin said, "Now show us out of here."
"To get out, you have to stand in the net!"
"Why? What's so special about the net?"
"Stand inside it, and you'll see!"
Anakin stepped back into the net, and beckoned Obi-Wan over. "Come on, Master."
Obi-Wan walked over and stood beside Anakin.
One of the droids hovered over to the side, and then bumped a button on the wall. Immediately, the sides of the net shot up, and rose into the air. Obi-Wan and Anakin fell forwards, and ended up trapped in the middle.
The droids flew off down the tunnel, still making the happy chirpy noises.
"Wait!" Anakin called, "How do we get out?!"
Obi-Wan sighed. "I don't think they're going to show us out, Anakin." Obi-Wan attempted to move into a more comfortable position, but he ended up kicking Anakin.
"Hang on, I'll just try and reach my lightsaber …"
"No!" Anakin said, causing the net to swing back and forth dangerously, "Last time you used that thing we were banned from Toy Universe for life! They'll be another way out -"
Anakin broke off as he heard the sound of chatter. A family of Twi'leks came around the corner, all holding guidebooks.
"Ah, excuse me!" Obi-Wan called, "Would you mind letting us out of here, please?"
The adult in charge of the group studied them for a second, and then moved forward to comply.
"Wait, Dad!" called one of the kids, "It says here not to let creatures out of the nets!"
"Yes! It says they'll trick you if you do!"
"No, that's what happened to us!" Anakin said, "We got tricked into this net! Come on, let us out!"
"Look!" one of the kids pointed to a sign under the net. "It says not to touch it!"
"Come on, then," the adult said, moving the children on.
"No wait!" Anakin called, "Come back!"
They didn't respond. Soon, they were out of sight.
"Perfect," Obi-Wan said, "Now we'll have to wait for someone stupid enough not to read the sign to come along. You wouldn't happen to have any clones which might be visiting this park today, would you, Anakin?"
"That's not fair, Master," Anakin said, swinging back and forth miserably, "You were there too."
"Yes, but I wasn't the one who let the things out!"
"Wait a second!" Anakin said, "There's a green button! We can get one of those flying things to help us!"
Anakin swung the net towards the wall, desperately trying to reach the button.
"No!" Obi-Wan called, struggling to try and drag Anakin back.
"Master, sometimes we have to let go of our pride," Anakin said, nearly reaching the button, "Isn't that what you always told me?"
"This isn't about pride, Anakin," Obi-Wan said, "It's about having to be rescued from a children's amusement park by a singing droid!"
Anakin, tiring of trying to swing the net closer to the button, gave up and used the Force to press it. At the same moment, Obi-Wan took out his lightsaber and cut the net open. Both of them tumbled to the ground, falling hard against the floor.
"OW!" Anakin complained, rubbing his head as he sat up.
A hovering green rescue droid hummed around the corner, and paused beside them. It extended its viewing lens on Anakin.
"Well, if it isn't Mr-Music-Hater!"
Anakin groaned. It was the same droid that had greeted them on the way in.
"Now you need my help," the droid continued, "How delightfully ironic!"
"Fine, fine," Anakin said, standing up, "Just get us out of here, please!"
"Of course! Follow me, please, sirs."
The droid led them straight through a wall, which turned out to be only a hologram.
"This is the first time I've had to rescue two grown men from the park!" the droid said, cheerfully.
"I was looking for my children!" Anakin insisted.
"Why didn't you just ask me? I am networked to all the security droids in Labyrinth Park."
"A boy and a girl, seven years old, one brown hair, one blonde," Anakin said, quickly.
"No, I'm sorry, no humans of that description have visited Labyrinth Park today."
"In other words, the last two hours were a complete waste of time!" Obi-Wan complained.
"Perhaps you'd like some music, sir, to cheer you up," the droid said, beginning to play said music.
"They should rename this place 'torture park'," Anakin mumbled.
"Well," Obi-Wan said, as they climbed back into the speeder, "Where now?"
Anakin checked the chronometer. "Padmé is making her speech soon. I've got to get back, or she'll be suspicious."
"What about the twins?"
Anakin leaned back, thinking. "There's one other place they could be."
"Oh no … no, I am not going to another amusement park!"
"I think it might be a museum, actually," Anakin said.
"A museum? All right," Obi-Wan said, "I'll go and look there, and you get back to the senate."
"She'll ask where the twins are …" Anakin sighed.
"Tell them they're with me. You can't upset her before the speech."
"I know," Anakin said, "But I can't lie to her, either. I'm useless at lying to her … she always sees right through it. It's like she's a super-Jedi or something."
"It may not be a lie … after all, I may find them there and they could be with me."
"Okay," Anakin said, "But comm me straight away if you find them!"
"Of course I will, Anakin."
Anakin nodded, and started the speeder's engine.
There was an ominous groan from the inside of the metal shell, and then nothing.
Obi-Wan sighed, long and loud.
"NO!" Anakin said, slamming the controls, "Come on, you stupid -"
"You damaged it when you crashed into the barrier," Obi-Wan said, though clenched teeth.
Anakin jumped out of the speeder, and shuffled underneath.
"If I don't get this fixed -" Anakin said, his voice muffled, "I won't make it to the speech in time! Padme will go out there worried and nervous! They might not listen to her!"
"Calm down, Anakin," Obi-Wan said.
"Galactic politics thrown into disarray all because I was watching a podrace when I should have been watching my children!!"
Obi-Wan rubbed his forehead, trying to think calm thoughts.
A greasy hand came into view around the side of the speeder. "Hand me the power cell from the droid you fried, Master."
Obi-Wan complied, glad that Anakin was actually doing something under there, other than beating himself up.
In another minute, he slid out, and jumped back into the driver's seat.
"Come on, come on!" Anakin said, trying the controls.
There was a choking sound, and a promising rumble.
"That doesn't sound very safe, Anakin," Obi-Wan said, as the speeder limped its way out of the parking space.
"Stop complaining, Master," Anakin said, as they rose into the air, "I fixed it, didn't I?"
"I'll believe that when we arrive at the senate," Obi-Wan said.
"See!" Anakin said, as he climbed out onto the senate landing pad.
"And it only took half an hour!" Obi-Wan said, shifting over into the driver's seat.
"Comm me as soon as you find them," Anakin said.
"May the Force be with you, Master," Anakin said.
"And with you, Anakin," Obi-Wan said, as the speeder rose into the air, "But I think you need it more than me."
Anakin nodded, and ran into the building, looking around for a familiar face. He soon found Jar Jar waiting outside one of the offices.
"Ani! Mesa so happy to be seein' you! Padmé has been wonderin' whesa yousa bein'."
"Where is she now?" Anakin asked, following Jar Jar into the small room off the main corridor.
Anakin turned to see his wife, looking dazzling in a silvery outfit with spring-green sleeves. He moved to hug her, sensing her nervousness through the Force.
"All ready?" he asked.
"I hope so," she said. She looked behind him, obviously looking for their children. "Where are the twins?"
"Ah," Anakin said, standing back, "Good question. They're … um …"
"Anakin? Are they all right?"
Anakin could sense his wife becoming more nervous by the second. He tried to calm down … he would need absolutely concentration to pass this off as convincing.
"They're …" he started, "Uh … they're -"
"Fine, they are."
All of them turned, to see a small green Jedi Master standing in the doorway.
"Master Yoda!" Anakin said.
"Anakin," Yoda said, walking forward slowly, "Asleep in my quarters, your young twins are."
"Oh, thank the Force!!" Anakin said, gazing at the ceiling in relief.
"Why, where did you think they were?" Padmé asked, curiously.
Anakin was saved from answering by two senator's assistants entering the room.
"Senator Skywalker, it is time to enter the senate floor."
Padmé took a deep breath, and Anakin moved to give her one last good luck kiss.
"I'll go and get the twins," Anakin said, "We'll be watching, I promise."
She smiled, and then she and Jar Jar left the room.
Anakin looked down at Yoda, grinning widely with relief. "Obi-Wan and I have been looking everywhere for them!!"
"Seemed to think they were the ones who had lost you, they did," Yoda said, walking slowly out of the room.
"Are they all right?" Anakin asked, "I was so worried!"
"Soon enough, see them for yourself, you will," Yoda said, looking up at him. "Patience."
"How did they end up at the Jedi Temple?"
"Arrived with a droid, they did. Back for you, they wanted to go, but allow it, I would not."
"Thank you," Anakin said, sighing. "You're better at keeping them safe than me, that's for sure."
"Eight hundred years more experience, have I," Yoda said, with a small smile.
After a short shuttle ride over to the temple, Yoda had led Anakin to his quarters.
"Walk quietly, you should," Yoda said, pointing through the door.
Anakin walked softly. There, in the shade of two large indoor plants, Luke and Leia lay side by side, sleeping on a large soft cushion.
Anakin felt so happy at the sight of them, he almost broke down into tears. He settled for simply watching.
Luke was the first to stir. He yawned, and then glanced up. His face lit up immediately.
His shout woke up Leia, and soon both twins were running over into his waiting arms.
"Ow!" Luke complained, as Anakin squeezed them tight, "I'm being crushed!"
"I don't care," Anakin said, hugging tighter, "I'm never letting you go again."
"Where's Mom?" Leia asked, eventually, looking up. "Is it time for her speech yet?"
"The speech!!" Anakin said, standing up quickly. "I almost forgot!" He reached forward, and grabbed both twins around the middle, carrying one under each arm. "Let's go!"
Anakin sprinted out of the room, leaving Yoda shaking his head in amusement.
After the speech, all four Skywalkers were reunited outside the senate chamber. Both Anakin and the twins had sworn each other to secrecy over the whole incident, as neither party wanting to incur Padmé's wrath.
"So did you all have fun?" Padmé asked, as they walked down the corridor towards the landing pad.
"Oh, it was fairly quiet," Anakin said, ruffling the twins' hair, "The twins slept in Yoda's quarters, while Obi-Wan and I spent some time together."
"So no buildings destroyed?" Padmé asked, "No pending lawsuits against us?"
"First time for everything," Anakin said, with a shrug.
They stepped out onto the landing pad, heading towards the speeder Padmé had arrived from the embassy in.
Luke suddenly stopped, pointing. "Obi-Wan!"
Anakin turned, in shock. Obi-Wan was waiting beside Dex's speeder, which was now looking even worse than before. A door had fallen off, and wires trailed out from underneath. Obi-Wan himself looked like he had taken a dip in a pool of slime. Gelatinous green blobs were dripping off him, forming a puddle on the ground.
"Obi-Wan!" Padmé said, covering her mouth in shock, "What happened to you?"
"Oh, just a little accident at some place called Hologram World, which your dear husband told me was a museum."
"Ah," Anakin said, moving closer to Obi-Wan so Padmé wouldn't hear, "The twins were fine, they were -"
"I know," Obi-Wan said, "I heard. From Yoda, when he had to come and sign a form to have me released from Hologram World security's custody."
"I guess I was so happy to see them, I forgot to comm you!" Anakin said, "Sorry, Master!"
Obi-Wan didn't smile.
"Can we give you a ride anywhere, Obi-Wan?" Padmé asked.
"No, thank you. I just stopped by to drop off Anakin's shopping before I head back to the temple to get cleaned up."
"Oh," Anakin said, moving over to unload the toys and droid parts from Dex's speeder, "Thanks, Master. Tell Dex I'm sorry about his speeder."
"Hmmm," Obi-Wan said.
"I'll see you later, then?" Anakin suggested.
Obi-Wan didn't reply.
"You're not angry, are you, Master?" Anakin asked.
"I'm a Jedi Master, Anakin," Obi-Wan said, through partially clenched teeth, "I don't feel anger."
Anakin nodded. "Of course not, Master."
Obi-Wan turned, climbed back into the speeder, and took off.
Anakin walked back to his family, carrying the shopping bags.
"Um … I got you all presents!" he said, trying to avoid Padmé's curious gaze.
"Well, seeing as your father seems to be the only one who had fun today," Padmé said to the twins, as they climbed into the speeder, "How about we all go and have some fun this evening? Where did you want to go?"
"Megatron Toy Universe!" Luke yelled.
"Labyrinth Park!" Leia insisted.