Chapter Seven

Padme remained frozen until the door slid shut and the man was out of sight and then moved quickly over to Anakin's side.

"Ani," she called urgently, trying to get his attention as she looked up into his face.

He stared back at her uneasily, not quite managing to focus on her.

"Anakin," she repeated his name more sharply, reaching up to touch his face.

He seemed to stir at her touch and asked weakly, "Padme?"

"I'm right here, Ani," she replied quickly.

His skin felt hot and damp against her palm and she now noticed the redness in his eyes- the way that his pupils were unnaturally dilated. That was how they were keeping him, there and sedated, she realized. Anakin had been drugged until he couldn't focus enough to concentrate properly on the situation that they were in.

Padme felt a moment of heart stopping desperation as she realized Anakin's condition. She hadn't noticed how much her plan for escaping this place had relied on Anakin and his skills as a Jedi. She had thought that everything would be okay once she found him.

Padme took a quick, deep breath and then quickly pushed aside her brief moment of anxiety, replacing it with determination.

"Anakin?" She coincided her sharp call with a light, but stinging slap to his cheek. It seemed to be enough to catch his attention for a moment. That small sign gave Padme hope. If she could just get him to focus for a moment moreā€¦

"Anakin," she repeated forcefully, "Look at me! I need you to look at me and to do what I'm saying."

"Padme," he mumbled again, but this time his eyes held her gaze for a moment longer. She smiled involuntarily.

"Anakin," she started, speaking quieter this time, but with no less intensity. She didn't want to be overheard. "You have to use the Force to cleanse your body. You've been drugged."

"Drugged," Anakin repeated in an almost unintelligible mumble.

Padme wondered if he even understood what she was saying. The amount of drugs that they had used on him had been very effective. A non-Jedi would have no chance and Anakin would only have a chance to fight off the effects if she could get him to understand and help himself.

Abruptly Anakin's head slumped sharply to the side, resting heavily against her hand. He seemed to have been suddenly more effected by the drug rather than less. She sighed. She couldn't do anything to him now, only watch. Padme reached over blindly and caught his other hand in hers. The moment she wound her fingers through his, his fingers tightened around hers in an almost painful grip.

She stood with him that way for what felt like forever. When her arm started to cramp and she started to pull away from him to change positions, his fingers tightened around hers convulsively.

"Padme." His voice was stronger now, more lucid this time and when she looked up he was staring at her clearly.

He easily met her gaze and she was almost shocked to find no hint of the heavy sedation that he had been under visible in his features. It was that exact moment that his eyes rolled back up in his head and his head slumped over into her hand once again.

"Anakin," she repeated his name desperately, hating to lose him again and frightened by his sudden loss of consciousness. He continued to appear to be heavily sedated, but she could feel his fingers squeeze hers gently for an instant.

She glanced between his face and their joined hands- an idea slowly forming in her mind. She took a step closer to him and leaned her head against one of the metal hands that bound his stomach.

Then Padme whispered softly, "If you can hear me, squeeze my hand twice."

She held her breath, waiting as she felt his fingers tighten around hers, first once and then twice. She smiled in relief, her face hidden from view by their bodies and the fall of her long hair. Anakin was faking the sedation now, which meant that he suspected that they were still being watched. They would have to act accordingly. She stood up, schooling her features to look absolutely defeated and slid to a seat against the wall that Anakin was bound to. She pulled her knees up against her chest and laid her head on top of her arms. It looked as if she was sleeping. Instead she was merely trying to determine what their next move would be.

"Padme!" Anakin's strained voice caught her attention immediately.

She stood up quickly, moving towards him. "What is it, Anakin?"

"I'm using the Force to keep the surveillance devices in this room scrambled for a few moments. Strip off the armor."

Padme shot him a shocked glare, "Anakin! Now is not the time for that!"

He shook his head quickly, the move made awkward by his restraints. "No," he said too loudly, "not that. Just do it. Hurry! I can't scramble these devices much longer."

She hesitated for a moment and he added, "Trust me."

It didn't take any more persuasion for her to begin to strip off the remaining armor. Anakin shot her a strained smile. "Now get my cloak- they put it in the corner- and put it on."

She looked at him curiously, but moved quickly to do as he asked nevertheless. He watched, his brow furrowed with concentration, as she finished pulling on his large cloak.

"Good. One last thing," he added. "Get the black cylinder that's strapped inside the right leg of the armor and put in inside your sleeve." She had just slipped the dark cylinder down her sleeve when she heard Anakin hiss in irritation.

She slowed her motions and tried to act as natural as possible as she glanced back up at him. He looked as slack and unconscious as he had before. She struggled to hold back her questions then and paced around the small confines of the cell until she was in front of him again.

She watched him for a moment, and then practically wailed, "Oh, Anakin," and half-collapsed against him. There position and close contact, once again hiding her from being seen by the rooms surveillance devices, she hissed, "What now?"

"Nothing," he whispered back.

Padme felt a slight tug on the sleeve of her robe and watched as the small cylinder floated into the air in front of her. There was quick burst of light that turned suddenly into a blur that she couldn't follow with her eyes. A moment later the cylinder, now topped by a small glowing shaft of light, hovered in front of her again.

"Hurry," Anakin urged her quickly. "You have to cut me down. I've disabled all of their surveillance devices in this room permanently, but we won't have much time before a guard comes to investigate. Start with this arm," he instructed, jerking his head towards his mechanical arm.

Padme didn't hesitate. Now was not the time for asking questions. It was time for action. She held the cylinder activated in her hand, her knuckles white from the strength of her grip. She glanced up at Anakin for an instant, searching for reassurance. She had to cut deep enough the first time or this would take too long, but if she cut too deep, she could seriously injure him.

She found him watching her with the calmness of absolute faith. She took a deep breath and then began working as fast as she could, dragging the blade steadily and as quickly as she dared down the length of the metal that covered his arm.

The moment his first arm was free, he quickly said, "Here," and reached over to take it from her.

She placed the cylinder in his hand, and watched as he quickly cut himself free of his bonds. The moment that Anakin was free, he caught Padme's hand and said quickly, "We have to get out of here."

"I know." She smirked at him cynically, "But it's your turn to come up with a plan."