Freefall 2,



         "Goodnight, husband…" She'd spoken the words not even knowing if he had heard her. Padmé placed her finger to his lips and he kissed it almost reflexively, most likely in his sleep, but she had to be sure...

        "Ani?" She asked quietly, half hoping that he wouldn't reply. He was emotionally and physically exhausted, and no matter what he had claimed the night before; the fact that he had taken the pain medication (with wine no less) in the middle of the night spoke volumes.

        "Ani…Anakin," she whispered once more, stoking the side of his head tenderly. Just as she was about to settle back down he gave a half-whimper, half-sigh and rolled on to his left side. His mechanical arm shifted and landed lightly on her hip and Padmé gave an involuntary shudder.

        He had kept it hidden for the most part and even in their most intimate moments of the night before, neither had actually given it much thought. Now, here in the aftermath at the true beginning of their life together, she could begin her own acceptance of this… this new part of the man she loved. They were both uncovered, the 'hand' was meeting bare flesh and was surprisingly warm to the touch. Still she shivered again. The memory of being in the Healers' ward and their brief discussion of this mechanical replacement burned in her memory, crying out to be addressed.

        Anakin had been alternately horrified and fascinated by it. Carefully keeping his shoulder and lower arm covered, he had flexed and contracted the fingers. At last, and very reluctantly, he had allowed Padmé to take his hand in his own, watching her face for any sign of disapproval. Ever so carefully, she had taken his hand in her own and her eyes filled with love and compassion, met his.

          "Gods…" he had gasped. "I can feel you…"

          "Feel me?"

          "The warmth… the sensation of touch… You…"

          Before things could progress any farther, one of the healers had quietly informed them that Anakin was due for his therapeutic rehabilitation session and Padmé had reluctantly taken her leave. After that they had not spent any real time alone together until their journey back to Naboo and they had carefully avoided the subject in any real depth. Now; however, with Anakin deeply asleep beside her, she could examine her beloved; appreciate him, if you will, yet at the same time grieve for what was lost.

        She shifted a little closer and he sighed again. He drew his arm up higher now so it rested comfortably across her waist, but this time she didn't flinch. Instead her eyes followed a path that started at the tips of is fingers and worked its way up his arm. It was oddly skeletal, yet alive. Illuminated wires and circuits ran from the middle of the fingers all the way to the stump of his shoulder.

         Gods, his shoulder! His arm had originally been taken just above the elbow, yet in order to accommodate the new mechanical prosthetic most of the remainder of his arm had been removed. At the place where flesh met machinery there was a band of metal, a barrier to separate the clean robotics from the sickly, all too frail human. His shoulder, what remained of it; was a sunset of bruises that continued down his entire left side. Although their vibrancy and intensity had obviously been far, far worse, the sight of them broke her heart a little. He had suffered and lost so much in the brief time that they had been together. She was determined to make this a new and joyous start for the both of them.

            Snuggling closer to him, she realized that they HAD made a fresh start… together. As husband and wife, they had shared the mutual joy of expressing physical love for the first time last night. The first time. For both of them.

           Once the decision had been made to formalize their commitment, she had tried to disguise her nervousness (to be truthful, outright fear) with humor. After all, the Jedi Order was no stranger to casual intimacy, why should Anakin be any different? She should have realized that in this, as in many things, Anakin was different from the average Jedi.

        "I hope I can live up to expectations… " she had teased him from the safety of his (fully dressed) embrace. "After all, our marriage bed… it'll be my first…"

         "Mine too," he said softly. His eyes were closed and he began lightly caressing her cheek. "My mom told me that even as a slave, my body… given freely… was really the only thing I really owned. " He sighed. "Never wanted to share it with anyone else…"

         They lay together in a comfortable silence until Anakin had succumbed to his pain medication. The Healers had only released him on the condition that he would sleep through most of the journey, and Anakin had reluctantly agreed. However, once they had been planet bound, Anakin would only accept the draught on the condition that Padmé would stay with him. He needed her; she needed him. It was…it was right.

         Padmé was dimly aware that she too was falling asleep. Anakin had been gentle and considerate, never asking for more than she was ready to give, and they had made love for a good portion of the night. Now however, she just wanted to lie here and be. Be his wife, be his lover.

        Be complete.