And All Points North

Chapter 11

"Don't be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again after a moment or lifetime is certain for those who are friends."

-- Richard Bach

Anakin only flinched a little as Kampher deftly poked his shoulder and chest with her experienced hands before pronouncing him fit to travel.

"But I want you to take these with you," Kampher told him adamantly as she handed him a medi bag. "You're not completely healed yet."

Anakin wrinkled his nose as he inspected the contents. Ten small vials of the purple serum that he had taken in Padmé's apartment complimented an assortment of bacta patches and lotions. He pulled one out with his mechanical hand, secretly pleased at the dexterity it offered, and offered it back to the Healer.

"I'll do without this, thank you very much," Anakin told her with a sniff of distain, only to have Kam gently wrap his fingers around it.

She sighed and rolled her eyes. "It's for your own good Anakin Skywalker," she told him firmly. "Besides, it's not my fault that you took four doses of the draught in one sitting!"

"There weren't any instructions!" Anakin snapped a little irritably. "Kam, I swear if I didn't know any better…"

Kampher cocked her eyebrow. "You could have used the com and asked."

Anakin colored as his mouth fell open. The last thing he wanted to do was to be cornered into explaining exactly why he hadn't done that very thing.

Kampher turned away, but not before Anakin caught the mischievous twinkle in her eye.

"I've broken it up into individual and ilighter/i doses," she told him simply, seemingly absorbed in the act of entering information into a data pad. "Any alcohol will heighten the sedation, but if you just allow your body to actually sleep, you won't suffer from any lingering after-effects."

"After-effects?"

"Very mild after-effects," she countered. "Headache, a little nausea," her eyes twinkled merrily. "Impotence…"

Anakin's eyes widened and he started coughing violently. If it were at all possible, he actually became redder.

Kampher patted his back, restraining a giggle. "Are you all right, Jedi Skywalker?"

"Fine," he choked. "I'll just keep those after-effects in mind – I mean – the headaches and the nausea," he added quickly.

Kampher nodded sagely, and then abruptly changed the subject.

"Schurke wants to see you before you go."

"You mean he's been freed from your healer's clutches?" Anakin smiled. "I thought he would find any excuse to stay."

"He's got a few months of intensive therapy yet, but yes, he was released this morning." Kampher sighed. There was more to her train of thought, that was evident, but Anakin respected his friend enough not to pry, at least too much. Besides, it might have lead to more uncomfortable questioning on her part.

"I'm leaving this afternoon. Padmé – I mean – Senator Amidala's transport will be escorted to Naboo with the new fleet that's on its way to Malastar," Anakin said proudly. "But our ship will be a smaller vessel, just ourselves and two droids."

"Obi-Wan decided to let you… finish your assignment then," Kam raised an eyebrow. "Alone?"

"Yes," Anakin said simply, then added "He and the Senator both agreed that it would be for the best." He swelled a little with blossoming pride. "He said I deserved the chance to complete my mission." Here he paused, considering. "He didn't seem too concerned about it, either."

"He trusts you to make the right decisions," Kam said quietly.

"I have," Anakin replied softly, then looked up and met Kampher's eyes. "Kam… I know what happened to you."

Kampher became stiff and formal. "I'm sure half the Temple knows by now," she murmured. "I made my choice…"

Anakin placed his hand on her shoulder. "Kam, I'm so sorry …"

"It was right, Anakin," she said simply. "I wouldn't have it any other way."

Anakin lowered his head in self-depreciation. For the second time in as many days he was at a loss for words. Kampher, however, seemed to understand. She took his hand and kissed his palm, then rested it on her cheek.

They stayed that way for a few moments until Kam pulled away suddenly.

"Oh Force," she muttered. "I nearly forgot…" She pulled a small vial filled with a yellowish green liquid out of her tunic pocket. "Give this to the Senator," she told him firmly. "Just in case…"

Anakin was confused. "Just in case of what?"

"Call it insurance, if you will…"

Realization dawned on Anakin, and once again he colored. He couldn't outright lie to Kampher but by the same token he didn't exactly want to confide in her…

"She should take that as soon as she's able," Kampher said a matter of factly. "Drink the whole bottle no later than an hour before – well – before you leave. It will protect against a common malady of long space flights for up to a month." Her eyes sparkled. "Do I make myself clear, Anakin?"

Anakin nodded, still clearly embarrassed but appreciative. "Yes," he blushed furiously. "Thank you."

"I'm a Healer above all things, Toboo," Kam smiled a little sadly. "Part of my duty is to make sure my patients are protected when they leave my care, even if that protection may seem unorthodox to some."

"Bending the rules is part of being a Healer then, Kam?" Anakin observed. "Even more so than being a Jedi?"

"No," Kampher corrected him gently. "If anything, perhaps understanding when to listen to our hearts, listening to the iForce/i as opposed to blindly following what we are told, is what being a iJedi/i is really all about after all."

Anakin nodded absently, lightly fingering the vial in his hands. His mind briefly flitted back to the night before….the scent of Padmé's hair, the tastes of her lips and the touch of her hand.

Especially the touch of her hand.

He shivered involuntarily, not realizing that Kampher had addressed him.

"Anakin," she murmured softly.

"I'm sorry, Kam," he said, jumping back to attention. "I was just thinking about …just thinking about the mission, that's all."

Kampher nodded. "Of course. But you should go, Toboo. "I think you'll find Schurke down with Healer Sesso having his leg looked at, and then you need to make preparations for your journey to Naboo."

"I think I have everything we'll need right here," Anakin smiled wryly. "Thank you Kam, for everything …"

"But of course," Kam smiled at him, then turned and went back to her work.

Anakin found Schurke sitting in his bed, a grim expression of determination on his face as he tried to raise his leg with the Healer's encouragement.

"Higher, Padawan Canaille," the Mirialan healer ordered him gently as Schurke uttered an oath.

"Pretend it's a new position in the Twi'lek guide to interspecies love making," Anakin said wryly, leaning against the doorway. "Lean forward and I'm sure you could kiss your own…"

"Toboo!" Schurke cried gleefully from his bed as his leg came sailing down. Thankfully, the Healer had the presence of mind to catch it.

Shurke grinned at her. "Well done my dear! You know, Toboo, Healer Sesso seems to be quite good with her hands! Now if only…"

The Healer let his leg drop to the bedside with a soft thump. "That will be all today, Padawan Canaille," she said briskly. "I'll see you tomorrow at the same time." And with a prim little bow, she was off.

Anakin rolled his eyes, but his shoulders were shaking with muffled laughter. "Gods, Schurke," Anakin groaned in mock indignation. "Is there not one Jedi in the entire Order that you haven't at least itried /i to bed yet?"

"Only those that aren't already spoken for," Schurke replied with an arched eyebrow.

"You mean…"

"No, no one…" Schurke turned away, suddenly embarrassed.

A silence fell between them, as thick as secrets.

"Kam," Anakin said at last.

"…is leaving in two weeks," Schurke retorted a little sharply. "She's joining the Medi fleet."

"She told you this?" Anakin asked, incredulous. Why didn't she say anything to me?

"No." The word was a lead weight. "She didn't tell me, either."

"Then how…"

"I have a lot of time," Schurke said quietly. "I've been reading the logs."

Anakin considered this, both the news and Schurke's reaction to it, and then choosing his words carefully, he addressed his friend.

"Tell her how you feel about her," he said simply. "Tell her before she goes."

Schurke looked down at the bedcovers, and began picking at a ball of lint. He held it up to his eyes, studying it as if it held all the secrets to the universe.

"And if I can't…" he said absently.

"Why not?"

"She belongs to someone else, Anakin."

"Kam belongs to herself Schurke," Anakin retorted a little angrily. "You're looking for excuses!"

"I'll think about it," Shurke replied quietly as Anakin rested his right hand on Schurke's shoulder.

"Promise?" Anakin asked as he gave a gentle squeeze. "I mean it Schurke; there are just some things…"

Yes there are Toboo, Schurke thought to himself with an inner smile. Things you're not telling me – something's changed, but what?

Schurke didn't voice such a concern aloud, but instead clasped Anakin's metal hand in his own in acknowledgement. Without another word, the two friends parted.

Be safe Toboo, thought Schurke to himself as he watched Anakin practically float out of the Medi bay. Come home and tell us stories… Who knows, perhaps the next time we meet, I might have one or two of my own…

"There is a destiny which makes us brothers;
None goes his way alone."
-- Edwin Markham