My brilliant readers, I think some of you have this figured out! But I think there will still be a surprise or two. ;)
Strawberry-ksc and Anonymous-Skywalker, thank you for your encouragement. I have posted my Obi/Ani slash story, titled A Matter of Time.
And thanks to everyone for reading and reviewing, it really motivates me to write! Here's the last chapter, hope you enjoy:
"Stop right there and turn around slowly." came a deep voice from behind him.
Obeying, Anakin's heart sank as he saw a pair of Knights, mock 'sabers pointed his way.
"It was a good try, Padawan, though I'm afraid you're not going to be finishing this exercise." one of the Knights told him, sounding a bit too smug for Anakin's taste.
Anakin nearly jumped out of his skin when he felt a hand grab him and jerk him around the corner, bringing him face to face with it's owner.
"Master, what . . . ?" Anakin hissed in surprise.
Obi-Wan merely rolled his eyes, as if the answer should be obvious. Anakin's eyes widened in understanding and he grabbed the other man and pulled him in front of his chest, just an instant before the two Knights appeared around the corner.
"I'll be leaving now, if you don't mind," Anakin said, flashing them a smug grin as he backed towards the exit with Obi-Wan and the child in front of him.
The Knights eyes fixed on the child as they lowered their weapons and looked at him appraisingly. "Using your own Master as a hostage, Padawan?" the shorter of the two asked skeptically.
"Whatever it takes." he said casually, using his free hand to palm open the door. "I'm out of here." Slipping through the door, he released Obi-Wan, leaving him and the child on the other side. It would be best, he thought, to leave them in more capable hands and let Obi-Wan tell them about the armed men that they had encountered. Anakin knew that he probably should have abandoned his task as well, but he really wanted to finish this and win.
Bringing his pace to a trot, Anakin hurried down the deserted corridor, hoping that he wouldn't run into any other 'defenders'.
Many meters of corridor and two groups of defenders later, Anakin finally reached his designated exit. Taking a deep breath, he palmed open the door, and found himself in a small, sparsely furnished room. It was also an empty room, until the door on the opposite end slid open to reveal Master Windu.
"Hello, Padawan Skywalker," he greeted pleasantly. "And congratulations. You're the first of the four enemy participants to make it so far."
"Thank you, Master Windu." he rushed out. "But there's something I have to tell you. When we were in the E-section, we came across --"
Master Windu held up his hand and interrupted, "Yes, Padawan, we are aware of that. Knights Bele and Truong exited the exercise early with your Master and the child, and he informed us of the situation." Leaving the room, he motioned for Anakin to follow him as he walked down the corridor. "We're not certain at this point, though it looks as though they're from some fringe political group on Corellia, and were attempting to kidnap the Corellian Senator's daughter."
"You mean, that little girl wasn't the surprise element?" Anakin gaped.
"No, Padawan." Master Windu gave him an amused look. "But that probably would have been a better idea," he muttered under his breath.
"Oh." Anakin replied disbelievingly.
Abruptly, Master Windu turned, leading Anakin into a spacious meeting room that was nearly empty. One of the Knights was perched on the window sill, and Obi-Wan was settled onto an overstuffed seat. His injured shoulder appeared to have been given afresh bandage, and the child lay curled up asleep next to him. Obi-Wan inclined his head slightly in greeting as Anakin and Master Windu sat down across from him.
"So, what now, Masters?" Anakin asked, looking between both Masters.
It was Master Windu who replied. "One of the Senator's assistants will be here shortly to pick up his daughter. And we've contacted all of the participants via the transmitters in their data pads to let them know about the 'change in plan'."
At this, Anakin frowned slightly. He didn't remember his data pad going off at any point.
"Somehow, I don't think those kidnappers were counting on having forty-one Jedi chasing them down in an enclosed area," Master Windu finished, grinning wolfishly. "And speaking of data pads, I'll need to see yours, Padawan Skywalker, to show that you've successfully completed your mission for this exercise."
"Of course, Master Windu," Anakin replied, reaching onto his pocket for it. His pocket, however, was empty. Feeling around in his other pockets as well, he was dismayed to find that it was not there either.
"Master Windu, I don't know what happened to it, I got the data . . ."
He trailed off in astonishment as he saw his Master slowly pull a data pad out of his robe. His data pad.
"Master! How did you – can you --" he stammered, recalling all the times that Obi-Wan had leaned close to him during the exercise. Well, at least now he knew why Obi-Wan hadn't been lecturing him on the dangers of over-confidence.
"You were overconfident, Padawan." Obi-Wan admonished softly. "You wrote off your hostage as a non-threat, when you had no way of knowing that to be the case. It was otherwise a good attempt, however."
Anakin shot his Master a half-hearted glare and Master Windu chuckled softly. "That it was, Padawan Skywalker. Now why don't you take your Master back to the Temple healer's, hmm?"
Anakin nodded, and Master Windu got up to leave. "If you'll excuse me, I'd better go check the other exits now." Bowing slightly, he turned to leave.
"Master Windu, wait," Anakin called behind him. "I forgot to ask earlier. What was the surprise element?"
"Some of the maintenance tubes were open." he replied offhandedly. "And believe me when I say that it wasn't my idea," he said dryly as he left the room.
Anakin stared after him in disbelief. "The maintenance tubes? That's it?"
"I told you these exercises aren't very interesting." Obi-Wan said with a slight smirk.
Anakin, for once, couldn't think of a reply.