"Anakin, I have to tell you something," Padme was intensly studying the ground, her voice hesitant.
"What is it Padme?" There was much concern in Anakin's voice," Does someone know? What happened? Is Dooku sending bounty hunters after you? Are you okay? You look like you're going to be ill! Maybe you should see a doc-"
"I'm...I'm...I'm pregnant, Ani..." Padme said fearfully. She looked terrified, and was upset that she'd said anything. By the mixed expression of joy and horror on her husband's face, and his utter lack of words, she thought that perhaps it had been a mistake to tell him. Anakin had enough problems with the Jedi Council, and was hiding enough secrets. It was only a matter of time before he cracked. Padme feared for the effects this news would have on Anakin, and his dream of becoming the most powerful Jedi ever. After all, once she started showing signs of pregnancy, it was only a matter of time before the highly perceptive Jedi put the clues together. Then, Anakin would be expelled, in his mind failing both himself and his promise to his mother. She began to remember why she had rejected Anakin's love in the first place. This was tearing him apart, and this may be the last string. Anakin's life was detiriorating before her eyes, and it was her fault.
Then, suddenly, Anakin smiled," I'm going to be a father? Oh Padme, this is wonderful! And I know you'll be a great mother. Don't worry, we'll find a way to keep anyone else from finding out. I'm going to be a daddy! I have a family of my own. I love you Padme! Congratulations! I'm going to be a father!"
Padme was surprised by Anakin's enthusiasum. He seemed genuinely thrilled and didn't seem worried about anyone finding out. Padme still wasn't so sure. She had no idea how she would manage to keep this news from reaching the public. After all, she was a senator, and was often on Coruscant and on holos,"But how will we manage to keep this a secret, Ani? The chances are slim that everyone will fail to notice my stomache growing!"
"Well, I think you're going to have to 'take a break from politics to spend time with family' or 'work on a senatorial proposal' while sending someone reliable to represent you in the senate, following your careful instructions. Or, you could just use a decoy, dress them up to look like you and give them instructions. Of course, they will have to be extremely trustworthy and swear not to tell anyone. While they're being you, you stay with your family. You can trust them, can you not?" Anakin planned hopefully. His voice held enthusiasum, but Padme detected a note of concern that he was attempting to hide.
"The last plan would work best, although it would be incredibly difficult to pull off. You see, no one can do a perfect imitation of me, and I have friends in the senate who may notice the difference. Not to mention the fact that nobody is completely identical to me, and my closer friends would notice the difference. I don't know what to do Anakin. And what happens after our child is born? Will he ever meet his father? Or will you be too busy, or even killed in the Clone Wars? I can't raise this child on my own, Ani. I need help. And I need to know that everything will be okay, and that I'm not ruining your life," Padme was now on the verge of tears. There was just too much to deal with!
"Don't worry Padme, we'll think of something. I just need more time. Try to stay out of the public eye, okay?" Anakin's words were soothing, even if Padme could sense his underlying tension. In fact, tension radiated through the air. Then Anakin heard footsteps, rapidly approaching. He fearfully said," It's Obi-Wan! Hide quickly!"
"You seem tense, my young Padawan," Obi-Wan remarked as he entered Anakin's corridors in the Temple. Anakin's tension was filling the room, as was an unsucessfully hidden fear. This concerned Obi-Wan. Anakin was supposed to be able to tell him anything. Lately he had been getting the feeling that Anakin was hiding something, but he still had no idea what that something was. Whenever he attempted to bring it up, Anakin would gracefully sidestep his questions. Dancing around the truth had become an art for Anakin, and that concerned the Jedi Master," Anything you care to tell me?"
"No Master," Anakin predictably replied. Obi-Wan noticed that Anakin's tension shot up at the question, although he quickly covered the emotion. As usual, Obi-Wan had a glimpse at an emotion Anakin should not have, then a familiar blankness that deepened his feeling that his Padawan was hiding something, something big. For the hundreth time, he asked himself what Anakin would feel the need to hide from him, and everyone else. Obi-Wan was jerked out of his thoughts when Anakin collectedly asked," Was there something you needed, Master?"
"The Council has requested our presence immediately. I believe they are going to assign us to an undercover fact-finding mission. If I'm correct, we may have the opportunity to uncover something useful to the war...and perhaps something more personal," Obi-Wan muttered the last part, but Anakin heard it.
Panic filled the heart of the Padawan, as well as complete uneasiness. Anakin assumed the worst. Obi-Wan knew. He must know. Why else would he say such a thing? Anakin suddenly felt ill, and was sure he would vomit. He glanced at Obi-Wan before darting into his bathroom, where Padme was lying in his bathtub.
"How's it going, Ani?" Padme whispered as Anakin vomited. Padme heard him," That bad?"
Anakin splashed cool water over his face before attempting to regain his composure, and daring to mutter a tense reply," He knows. He just wants me to admit it. I don't know if I can do this, especially if he brings it up when we're meeting with the Council. I'm in enough trouble already, for lying to my master. I can't hide this from the Council if the subject is brought up. I love you Padme, and we may not have to worry about secrets anymore." Anakin bent over and kissed Padme, once again attempted to regain control of his emotions, then headed out to face Obi-Wan.
"Are you all right Anakin? I heard you vomit. Perhaps we should inform the Council that you're too ill to leave now," Obi-Wan eyed his apprentice carefully, trying to see how he reacted in the split second before he masked his emotions once again.
"I'm fine Master. I must have eaten something that didn't agree. Let's go meet with the Council. I'll be glad to be out and helping people on a mission again," Anakin announced impassively. Then he eyed Obi-Wan, and shrewdly asked," Unless this meeting has a different purpose?"
"No. Not that I am aware of. However, why would you think there was another purpose to this meeting?" Obi-Wan studied Anakin's face, and noticed a flash of fear and anger before his composure returned, and he politely said there was no reason, merely that he sensed Obi-Wan had seemed to think that he had some sort of secret, which was of course obsurd,"Well, lets go, then."
"Request, the Council does, that you go to Duro," Master Yoda said.
"We believe that Duro has been swayed to the side of the Separatists, but we have no real evidence. We need you to discover who's side their on, and how we can keep them in the Republic. We also believe Dooku may be there, so be careful. If the situation becomes too dangerous, get out of there. You are only there to gather information and transmit your findings to us for further instructions. Do not fight unless you are instructed by the Council or if the safety of innocent beings requires it." Mace Windu directed, his eyes locking with Anakin, as though he were trying to penetrate Ani's Force barriers and discover his secrets.
"We accept this mission and will be fast in our investigation. We will report in soon. May the Force be with you," Obi-Wan replied predictibly. The Council returned the last sentiment, and the Jedi bowed as they exited the Council chambers.
"All right Anakin. What is going on? I know you are hiding something from me, and I demand to know what it is! Tell me, or I will be forced to bring this issue before the Council. If you cannot be open with me, who can you be open with?" Obi-Wan demanded. He was fed up with his apprentice's secretism and wanted to know what Anakin was so afraid to tell him.
"I can tell Padme, but I'm not ready to tell you yet, Master. I cannot handle the disappointment you would have. I have enough going on without you trying to figure out something that I am not yet ready to tell you! Eventually, you will know my secrets, but not now. I can't take it right now!" Obi-Wan was taken aback by the anger flowing in Anakin's voice. He was shocked at how genuinely angry his apprentice seemed to be.
"Anakin, as your Master, and your friend, you can tell me anything! I won't judge you, and I won't share your secret until you are ready to handle it," Obi-Wan announced in true concern.
Anakin just stared at the ground guiltily, and walked back to his room. He entered the code to unlock the door, and it opened with a swoosh. Seated on Anakin's bed, with a look of shock on her face, and a stomache slightly larger than Obi-Wan remembered, was Senator Padme Amidala. She glanced nervously from Obi-Wan to Anakin, registering how miserable her Ani looked, then asked hesitantly," Does he know?"
Anakin shook his head," No, but he deserves to know. I'm going to tell him. It's time."
"But Anakin, are you sure about this? How much are you going to tell him?" Obi-Wan listened patiently and didn't interrupt. They needed to work this out, and Obi-Wan was confident that he would be clued in at any moment.
"I'm going to tell him everything," Anakin said this firmly, looking straight into Padme's worried eyes. Then, he turned and faced Obi-Wan," Master, I have done many things wrong. I left Naboo without your permission. While I was on Naboo, Padme and I became closer. I loved her. And I told her this. I wanted us to be together, but she refused to allow me to destroy my life for her. Dreams of my mother haunted me, so I took the opportunity to fly to Tatooine. We visited Watto, who told me he sold my mother to Clete Lars, who freed and married her. I visited the Lars home. They told me that Tusken Raiders took my mother, and I went out to find her. She died in my arms. I was angry. I killed all of the Raiders in the tribe, and still hated them. I hated them for killing my mother, and for making me behave improperly for the Jedi Order, and making me so ashamed of myself. I told Padme this when I returned with my mother's body. At the funeral, I promised mother that I would not fail again, and I would be the most powerful Jedi ever. Then R2-D2 gave me the message from you. I wasn't going to save you, because Master Windu instructed me to stay where I was, but I had to protect Padme, and she insisted on saving you. They captured us as we traveled through their droid factory. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, not rescuing Padme when she fell. Then I lost my arm, and I still harbor hard feelings toward Dooku for that. Anyway, when I escorted Padme back to Naboo, we got married. And now she's pregnant with my child. I'm scared, Master, and I don't know what to do."
Obi-Wan was speechless. He had suspected that his Padawan and the senator had grown closer, but he had no idea what his apprentice had been hiding. It was an incredible shock, not only because it was unbelievable, but because he had no idea how someone could hold all this in without it being discovered quickly. The average being, Jedi or other, would not have been able to keep such a secret for so long without cracking. He had no idea how to comfort Anakin, who had been completely and brutally honest. Anakin had even managed to keep a calm expression while stating this information. Finally, he recovered his voice," I'm glad you told me, Anakin. Perhaps on the way to Duro we can discuss this matter further. I really want to help, Anakin. Now, say goodbye and gather your things. We really must be going."
Anakin nodded as Obi-Wan left the room, then turned his attention to Padme," I have to go. I'm sorry I told him, but I didn't have a choice. Anyway, do you know how hard it is to keep a secret from that guy? Don't worry. I trust Obi-Wan to let me tell the Council in my own time, although I'm sure I'm in for the lecture of a lifetime while on the way to Duro. I'll be back soon."
"Good luck Anakin. Don't worry, I won't let anything happen to me. I'll miss you!" Padme got up from the bed and up to Anakin. They met each others eyes, then kissed their goodbye kiss.
Anakin gathered his things for the trip, and as he was walking out the door, he took one last look at Padme. He wondered if he would ever see her again, and how he could possibly live, or have lived, without her," I love you."
"And I love you," Padme replied quietly as the door closed.
Silence hung in the cabin of the ship. Anakin appeared to be studying the floor, rather intensly, as though searching for a speck of dust or a microscopic insect. Of course, Anakin wasn't really paying attention to the floor, he was just attempting to avoid his master's gaze. He dreaded the moment Obi-Wan would bring up his confession. He would rather pretend it never happened, and just deal with the problems himself. Obi-Wan, of course, would not allow him to do this," Anakin, you really should have told me sooner. Keeping that to yourself only builds fear and anger."
"I know, Master. It seems that lately the only decisions I make are the wrong ones. But master, I truly love Padme, and I would do anything for her," Anakin replied. He realized that Obi-Wan probably wouldn't like his response, but it was the truth, and Anakin was sick of all the lies.
"Anything, my young Padawan? Are you willing to leave the Jedi Order, even betray the Code, for her? Which is more important to you, Anakin? Being a Jedi, and following our code, or being with Padme?" Obi-Wan was dreading the anwser to the question. If Anakin answered that Padme was more important, then he would most likely be expelled from the Order when the Council found out. And where would that leave his highly emotional Padawan?
"Don't make me answer that, Master. Don't make me choose between the woman I love, and the life I love," Anakin's voice was full sorrow and apprehension. How could he anwer this? It was too difficult. If he betrayed the code and left the Order, the Jedi, and his friends, as well as the man Anakin concidered the closest thing he had to a father, would be disappointed in him, and he would be ashamed of himself. He would have wasted so many years of his life. At the same time, Anakin didn't think it was possible to live without Padme, so he knew what his answer would be. And it made him miserable.
"I know it's difficult, Anakin. This is a question you should have asked yourself before you got married. Just answer it honestly," Obi-Wan needed to know. Perhaps his apprentice would make the correct decision. Obi-Wan didn't have much hope. Then, Anakin replied, and his fears were confirmed.
"I would choose Padme. I would choose to be with the woman I love, and my new family, even if it meant that I had to leave the Jedi in order to be with them. Even if the Republic made it a crime to leave the Order, and I was a fugitive. Even if it meant that I had to kill a Jedi. No matter what, I would choose Padme. And I would kill anyone who tried to take her from me," Anakin blurted it out, then immediately regreted it. He had spoken without thinking, and while he knew it was the truth, he also knew that being willing to kill someone was never good for a Jedi.
"Just like you killed the Tuskan Raiders for what they did to your mother?" Obi-Wan questioned gently, already knowing and fearing the answer. Where had he gone wrong with his apprentice, that he was willing to kill anyone so he could have Padme? He knew that allowing Anakin to be Padme's bodyguard had been a bad idea. Now the damage was done, and there was nothing he could do about it.
"Yes. Just like the Tuskans," Anakin's voice cracked. He really didn't want to think about that incident right now. Leave it to Obi-Wan to bring it up. Right when he needs support for his marriage decision, his master brings up his biggest mistake! He knew it was wrong, and a mistake. Why did Obi-Wan have to bring it up? Why couldn't he just leave it alone? He was always doing this. Bringing up resolved issues, lecturing, never letting Anakin do anything! It was Obi-Wan's fault that she died in the first place. Had he just allowed Anakin to go help her when he started having the dreams, she would have been fine, and he wouldn't have killed the Raiders. So it was Obi-Wan's fault that Anakin had his dark moment. Everything was Obi-Wan's fault. Anakin could feel his anger rising as he thought this, and it made sense to him. Obi-Wan was the problem. And if the Council expelled him, he would take care of the problem once and for all!
Obi-Wan, of course, could feel Anakin's anger rising. This alone didn't surprise him. They were discussing a sensitive issue, so of course he would be emotional. What did surprise Obi-Wan was that the anger was not directed at the memories, or his apprentice, or the Raiders, but at him! He sensed that Anakin was somehow blaming him for his failure to stay calm when his mother died. Blaming him for his mother's death. At that moment, Obi-Wan knew he lost his Padawan. There was no recovering from such blame. Sadly, Obi-Wan reached for his comlink.
"What are you doing, Master?" Anakin spat the last word like it was poison. The way he said it was as though he were a slave, and Obi-Wan the slave owner," Reaching for your lightsaber? Are you going to kill me?"
"Anakin! Why would you suggest such a thing. I don't think we should be on this mission, not with you in the state you're in. I'm calling the Council and notifying them that we are unable to complete this mission. Then we will meet with the Council when we return, and you will tell them what you told me," Obi-Wan forcefully commanded. Resentment was pulsing through Anakin as he turned and left to speak with the pilot.
"I'm sorry, Masters, but we cannot complete the mission. My Padawan has...well...he has brought issues to my attention. I believe these issues may endanger everyone. That is why I think he needs to stay in the Temple where he can be...watched," Obi-Wan carefully stated. He knew that they would question him, as well as Anakin, when they arrived back on Coruscant.
"See our point, you finally do, Master Kenobi? Reasons for us not wanting him trained, I believe," Master Yoda replied.
Suddenly, the ship came to a stop. Obi-Wan cut the communication, and wandered toward the pilot to see what was wrong. When he entered, he couldn't have been more shocked. Anakin was standing over the pilot's body, lightsaber in hand. The pilot was dead, killed by a lightsaber. Obi-Wan brought his gaze to Anakin's face, which was contorted in fury, his deep blue eyes cold and heartless. Anakin met Obi-Wan's gaze, and he now looked as though he were challenging his master as he swung his lightsaber," He got in my way. Just like you have been getting in my way, Master. Oh, yes, I know you have told the Council that I'm incapable of completing this mission. You're trying to get me to confess to them, so they can expell me. Are you ready to go?" Anakin then started laughing like a madman.
"Anakin! Come to your senses. Lets go back to Coruscant and you can work out your...issues. Now, go sit down," Obi-Wan desperately tried to settle Anakin down and return him to normal.
"Whats wrong?? Are you scared? Of course you're scared. Everyone is scared of me, of what I become when I am displeased. I don't want to hurt you, Obi-Wan, but if you continue to stand in my way I will be forced to do so. It's your choice. Come with me, or kill me," Anakin had a cruel glint in his eyes. He didn't believe Obi-Wan would fight him. But he was wrong.
"I'm sorry Anakin. If this is the way it has to be..." Obi-Wan activated his lightsaber and lunged at Anakin. Anakin deflected the blow easily, and returned with his own counterattack. So it went on, until Obi-Wan used the Force to bash a chair against Anakin's head. Anakin dropped to the floor, unconcious. Obi-Wan then flew the ship back to Coruscant, with his apprentice bound in the chair next to him.
What happened? Where am I? Anakin thought. Then he remembered. Taunting Obi-Wan, killing the pilot, and then fighting his master. Anakin groaned. He was dead now. How could he possibly make up for fighting against his master with anger on his side? He fought in anger, and hate. Then he noticed that his hands were bound,as were his ankles. He attempted a chuckle, but it hurt too much. Of course Obi-Wan would have tied him up. He was acting like the enemy. Obi-Wan probably thought he would try to kill him when he woke up. Now I've really done it. I really wish I could keep these fits of anger to myself.
"Anakin? Are you awake?" Obi-Wan gently questioned. He hoped that this was all some sort of mistake. Maybe Anakin was possessed by someone else for a little while. Or maybe the Sith had figured out a way to control him.
"Please tell me I didn't do what I think I did," Anakin replied hoarsly.
"If you mean killing the pilot and attacking me, that's exactly what you did," Obi-Wan replied, sorrow in his voice. But there was hope as well. Anakin sounded upset, so maybe he didn't mean it. Maybe he hadn't lost his Padawan after all.
Anakin groaned. He hoped it had been a bad dream," I'm sorry, more sorry than you could ever know. Kill me, Master, please. I don't deserve to live."
"I'm not going to kill you Anakin. But I am going to untie you, if you promise not to have another outburst," Obi-Wan stated.
"Okay. I'm really in trouble now, aren't I. I wouldn't be surprised if the Council wanted me locked up forever...or even killed. It's more than I deserve, you know. To go on living after everything I've done wrong lately. But I would like to see Padme again, unless of course, you feel the need to kill me," Anakin said sorrowfully. How had he screwed up so badly? Why did everything seem to go wrong for him?
"Expelled from the Jedi Order, you are," Master Yoda stated gravely. As much potential as Anakin Skywalker had, he was too great a risk. The Jedi could not afford to keep such a risky character in the Order," Although the most powerful Jedi, you nearly were."
Anakin's eyes flashed, and the masters could see the anger burning inside him. He turned quickly, without bowing or turning in his lightsaber, and left. He brushed past Obi-Wan, just outside the door, thrusting his lighsaber into Obi-Wan's hand," Keep it safe, and give it to my son when he is old enough. Tell him the good stories about me, and train him well. Goodbye, Obi-Wan Kenobi. We will not meet again. If we do, it will be your end."
Obi-Wan stared at his apprentice's lightsaber, then at Anakin. He watched old Padawan briskly walk toward the doors, Force-blasting anyone who got in his way. The three Jedi who sprung up, lightsabers drawn, and attempted to stop him were killed. Anakin made a fist and used the Force to choke them to death. And Obi-Wan watched, paralized by disbelief. How could this have happened? Where was the little boy he met on Tatooine?
Anakin headed below the city, to an abandoned garbage heep. He then lept into the cockpit of the ship he had built. It was made mostly of scraps, although it was equipped with a cloaking device. He called his ship the Millenium Falcon. It was probably the fastest ship in the galaxy. Anakin was very proud of his homemade ship, even if it did look like a pile of garbage. He was glad he built the ship. It was perfect for his emergency getaway. He knew he was in serious trouble, after killing three Jedi. He had crossed the point of no return. Now, he had to find Dooku, and kill him. Then he would take care of the Jedi. And Obi-Wan, although deep down Anakin knew he would wait until his old master tried to find him and attacked before he fought. Deep down, Anakin knew he couldn't kill Obi-Wan. Not yet, anyway.
There was no way Anakin could see Padme before he left. They would expect him to do that, and they may even set a trap. No, he would find Dooku. And he wouldn't let the Jedi find him, or Dooku, first. Anakin sighed as he drew the his Force presence inward, making him more difficult to track. He felt guilty for not telling Padme, but he figured during a hyperspace stretch he would call her on their special comlinks, designed to keep in touch without anyone knowing. Yet another of Anakin's inventions.
"Anakin? Anakin, are you there?" the voice belonged to Chancellor Palpatine. What would the Chancellor be doing in a garabage heap?
"Chancellor? Is that you?" Anakin asked nervously. If Palpatine was here, no doubt he would have guards. He probably came to arrest Anakin. Anakin panicked, and started the engines. He would NOT be arrested. Not yet, anyway," Are you here to arrest me?"
"I'm not going to arrest you, Anakin. I'm offering you a chance to join me," Palpatine replied.
"What?" Anakin asked, completely bewildered. Join him? What did that mean?
"I am Darth Sidious, Lord of the Sith," Palpatine replied.
"What?" Anakin was sure he had lost his mind. He must be hearing things. Palpatine was not a Sith!
"Join me, or die!" Palpatine shouted. His patience was in short supply," Or rather, your dear Padme will die!"
"You wouldn't...I just killed three Jedi, but I'm not a Sith! You don't even know where Padme is!" Panic filled the young man's voice.
"Don't I? She's right here. Look out your window!" Palpatine was now cackling insanely. He had Padme bound with a knife to her throat.
"Let her go! I'll do whatever you want, just don't kill her!" Anakin shouted to Palpatine. He murmured to himself," Please, just leave her alone! She can't die! Everyone keeps dying. Its my turn, now."