And That's What it's All About
Title: And That's What it's All About
Chapter: Selfless No More
Summary: Buffy makes her presence known to the Jedi in her own graceful way… even Slayers can have fun, too.
Disclaimer: I own neither genre. Joss Whedon owns Buffy the Vampire Slayer. George Lucas owns the Star Wars franchise. I'm just a poor post-college graduate.
Spoilers: There are minor spoilers from both stories, especially Star Wars.
Notes: Sorry for the delay in posting this chapter… it was only half written and I was disappointed with it. But, now I'm happier with it and therefore you get an update. Expect regular updates until the end, too, since this is my current and only story at the moment.
Selfless No More
Obi-Wan had been settling in for a good meditation when he suddenly felt a brief… curiosity… in the Force. He tried reaching out for it with his mind but felt it suddenly turn on him. It was as though a brightness had diminished. With a frown, he rose up from his cushion and moved to the door, using the Force to push it open.
On the other side of the door in deep conversation was Mace Windu and a feminine figure with her back to him. He quietly moved out, using the Force to close the door behind him. The figure seemed to hear him approach and turned to face him.
For the first time, Obi-Wan found himself looking at one that he felt knew the Force but she wore a completely unfamiliar face. It had a slight sheen on it, as though she had been running to and fro for quite awhile. Her eyes were light and her hair was a brilliant shade of red and her skin was pale. She looked at him before she moved her lips into a welcoming smile and bowed her head to him.
"Obi-Wan," Mace said in a quiet voice as he glanced at the reaction the other woman had. He could tell that she was still trying to pry her lips apart to speak. It was one thing to occupy the body of a droid that had been preprogrammed, but it was something else entirely to just demand a brain from something that had no programming before. Buffy was truly improvising everything. Even if 'everything' was defined as staring at Obi-Wan with those doe-y eyes and that longing stare. Mace quickly tapped her arm and the woman lowered her head again as a confused Obi-Wan looked between them.
"I was unaware you had taken a Padawan," Obi-Wan said, trying to figure out what was going on.
"This is no Padawan learner," Mace Windu said in a heavy voice as the woman looked up again with that penetrating stare, one that definitely reached beyond flesh and blood and went straight for the soul. "This is Buffy Summers."
"That is Buffy Summers?" Obi-Wan asked in disbelief. "In case you were unaware, she was formless."
"She has developed a form since then," Mace assured him.
"Are you certain?" Obi-Wan asked, frowning at the young woman that stood before them. "She was so much… shorter."
Now, this was beginning to get ridiculous. He was critiquing my face, for one. Then he couldn't stop staring at it as though trying to see the woman inside the machine. Obviously he was too daft to put two and two together. I was no machine. I was Buffy!
And yet… I still couldn't open my plastic mouth. I heard my words in my head, but programming the stupid lips to move and the voice to speak was a feat worthy of Willow's black mojo. How I wished I had her magic right now!
"I can assure you that this is Buffy Summers," Mace said in a voice that spoke he was losing his patience. "As you can see—"
"I'm real!" I spat out. Well, the words came out in a jumbled rush that had Obi-Wan blinking in surprise and Mace pinching the bridge of his nose. I could sense curiosity from Obi-Wan and a distinct sense of frustration in a very parental way from Mace. "I'm really real and I'm really here," I concluded, blinking at the sound of my voice. It was a little too little-girl-like for my taste and it was definitely a voice that could get annoying when used too often.
Obi-Wan stepped closer to me and I felt his breath on my face, his hands grasping my shoulders as he studied my eyes intently. He was so close… and yet the Force inside of me was telling me to stand clear as this was his way of telling whether or not I was who I had said I was. But I felt completely and totally like doing something so unexpected, especially since he seemed he could use a good—
"It's true," Obi-Wan whispered, stepping back, the warmth of his hands leaving my new limbs. I felt my eyelashes brush my cheeks as the man stepped back.
It had been a long time since I'd thought of that. And yet, as he had touched me, I had felt that familiar longing. Apparently not even being a robot could take that away from me. I wonder if Obi-Wan had felt it… I thought I saw something flash through those grey eyes.
"I told you so," I said in my breathy voice, listening to a tone that wasn't mine but the words that seemed to pour from me. "I just come in a different package, that's all." I glanced down at the bland Jedi gown and robes. "Even if I look like I should be teaching beads at a nunnery."
"What happened?" Obi-Wan asked, his voice still full of disbelief.
"I got myself a new body, that's all," I quipped, my hands reaching up my abdomen to my chest and up to my neck. I noticed that he still hadn't been able to take his eyes off of me.
"She has chosen a form at her own will," Mace concluded, seeing the definite hormones that seemed to pour off of my body. "We have need for her."
There was a flash of irritation in Obi-Wan's eyes as he turned to the Jedi Master, yet he held his tongue. "Did you think of informing me, her keeper?"
"Since when are you the keeper of me?" I asked, unable to keep my mouth shut. "I mean really, men and their possessiveness! How dare you?"
"Buffy, please," Mace said, holding up a calming hand. It was calming, all right. It definitely made me think about beating the crap out of him just for daring to hold that hand up to me. I was definitely not in a 'talk to the hand' kind of mood. "She has a gift, an ability to sense what we cannot. She comes from a background where our judgment is not clouded."
"But why return her to a body?" Obi-Wan asked in a hushed voice. "Was it to free her from her bounds to me?"
Oh, God. Again with the possessiveness! I opened my mouth to speak, but Mace cut in before I could get in a word edgewise. "She is still very much connected to you, Obi-Wan. Remember that her place would not exist if it were not for your intervention. But her role must serve all Jedi and not just your own needs."
I felt guilty at the pained expression on Obi-Wan's face, yet the man just bowed his head and murmured in agreement.
"I'm sorry," I said to him. He gazed at me for a moment before a small smile graced his features. The smile just made me want to fling my arms around him and hold him until that light in his eyes disappeared. The poor man only needed a hug!
"You have nothing to apologize for," he said after a moment. He spoke quietly, privately, as though we were alone in a room and not surrounded by curious Jedi that had suddenly picked up a new Force signal like on sonar. "This was not your doing."
"No, but I chose it," I replied. "You have done so much for me, I felt I could do something in return." At his slight smile, I made to step towards him when I felt a hand on my elbow. I quickly bowed my head in respect as Mace dragged me off away from Obi-Wan. I couldn't help but glance back at him, though my feet still couldn't quite move with my neck craned the other way.
The last look Obi-Wan had at my retreating form was me spilling into Mace's arms – again.
"You've been quiet."
"I know," I said, gazing around the large room. I felt my senses surge into overdrive as I looked hungrily at the weapons surrounding me. "I've had a lot on my mind."
"Did those thoughts include shopping?" Anakin asked, his eyes appraising my latest wardrobe choice. I happened to like my midriff-baring top and the closest thing I could find to leather was on my legs. It was like pulling on a familiar pair of pajamas again, except they were what Faith had called 'big girls clothes'. Yep, that was me. In big girl's clothes. "You have likely spent the entire budget on your fanciful garments."
"I'm a girl and girls like pretty things," I replied cheerfully, my eyes finding a group of lightsabers. I quickly picked up one and attempted to flip it from hand to hand as I would do a stake. Anakin watched as I patiently dropped it time and time again until, at last, the coordination was there to toss the damn thing from one hand to the next.
"You are a Jedi and the Jedi frown on pretty things," Anakin corrected in a patient voice. "And why in the universe did you choose me for this?"
"This is not meant to be torture," I said sweetly, handing him one of the practice lightsabers and pressing the switch on my own. Immediately I felt the Force jolt through me, into my fingertips and through my weapon, activating a stunning blue blade that glowed as I lifted my arms, watching the blue beam of light move up and down and side to side.
"If you had been fighting an opponent, you would have been dead twice over," Anakin said dryly.
"There is no need to be so eloquent in your fighting," Anakin said, activating his own blade and brushing it with hers as he walked to my opposite side.
"Why not?" I challenged him. "It served Count Dookula quite well."
"Ah, yes, but he's dead."
"Because you killed him."
There was a lingering silence in the air before Anakin took a step forward. "See, I—"
"No, no, I'm wrong," I replied as I switched the blade into my stronger right hand. "You've got this whole aspect on how you've done nothing wrong even though a man is dead. I'm not even that stupid to delude myself. What kind of life do you have if you just—aaaah!"
Anakin had just sprung forward, unleashing two swift blows. I barely had enough energy to block them off before Anakin spun in the other direction. His eyes had darkened and his lips curved into a dangerous smile. Before I could attempt to mount a proper defense, he had leapt again.
Around and around we went, him with the slashing and me with the defending. There was a delicate dance, a balance and a song as the blades clashed time and time again. I threw myself into the fight, ignoring the slight twinges of pain as I came to realize my own limitations. This was not a Slayer's body and the only way it would even move as I had once done would be for me to use it more. But this abuse was not something it was used to. I could feel the power draining out of me even as the song of the Force was humming loudly in my ears.
I pulled myself closer to him, seeing that he was down for the moment. His blade swept under his chin to touch mine, our eyes meeting over the humming blades. I held his gaze for a moment before I felt the Force flow through me. Anakin landed on his backside, the blade flying from his hand. Without waiting for an invitation, I switched off my lightsaber and dove at him.
For such a great and chosen Jedi, Anakin sure had issues with hand-to-hand.
My first kick set him off-guard. The next kick sent him spinning towards the door. His hand snatched out and the lightsaber shot back towards him. Only a third kick sent the weapon spinning wildly out of reach as I turned back to him.
"Now, now," I chided, smirking, "that's cheating."
Anakin jumped up and began fighting, though he seemed reluctant to hit me. "Oh come on," I said after three minutes of ducking his wild blows and clearly sensing that he wasn't going to lay a blow. "If the Sith come after you, all they'll have to do is send a defenseless girl because they know you won't hit her."
"I will not strike you," Anakin grumbled, getting back to his feet after my graceful sweep had landed him back on his butt. "It is not my place to strike a lady."
"I'm not a lady, I'm an evil robot. Fear me!"
Anakin resisted the urge to roll his eyes as he finally struck a blow that hit into my chest. As he threw a second punch, my hand met his and threw him off of his balance. "That was nice," I replied as he began panting. Before he could fully regain his balance, the tip of my foot was into his chest. He fell completely to the floor. Before I had a chance to gloat, he reached out and grasped my ankle. As I was still uncertain how to shift my balance to keep my robotic ass up, I fell…
… directly on top of Anakin.
"That hurt," I murmured, staring down into the face that hovered just a foot below mine. I quickly sat up, reaching for my hair, doing anything to get it away as it seemed to be distracting.
"Here," he said… and actually reached across to tuck my hair behind my ear. Just the feel of his touch was enough to send shivers to all the wrong places. I couldn't believe my luck… the stupid robot couldn't catch her balance quick enough, but she was all about the hormones? Stupid, stupid robot… stupid, stupid, attractive Jedi… stupid married Jedi…
"Thanks," I said nervously, quickly sitting up. I then realized where I was sitting and started giggling as I moved away, my back planted against a wall. He sat up, just a few feet in front of me and moved closer.
I couldn't catch my breath. Here I was a robot without the ability to breathe and I couldn't. I turned slowly to him.
"Did I hurt you?"
I shook my head, willing my heartbeat to slow down. I felt like my artificial heart was going to do the tango right out of my chest.
"Here." He reached down and grasped my hand, pulling me to my feet. Once again I was standing toe-to-toe with the Jedi. I couldn't help but gaze up at him, my eyes memorizing the lines of his face, even the scars…
I slowly reached up to touch the fine white line. He seemed to shiver at my touch, his eyes on the blurred hand in front of his face and the cold sensation of fingers touching his skin. "Is there something wrong with it?" he asked with a nervous laugh.
"No," I said, pulling my hand back. It was wrong to feel these feelings, I thought. I was just on a hormonal overdrive because I had my emotions back and could react to them like any human could. Well, as well as I could in my current position. Realizing how close I had been to literally seducing the poor Jedi, I stepped back, calling the lightsaber to my hand with the will of the Force.
Anakin sighed, shaking his head to clear it as the lightsaber snapped back into his hand. He wasn't sure what had just happened, but whatever it was had suddenly and completely overtaken his mind. He had no idea what it was that existed between them, but it was definitely treading into dangerous territory. Buffy was not a native Jedi. She didn't know the rules. The rules clearly stated that feelings that he was obviously trying not to feel were forbidden. They were wrong. He hated himself for admitting it, but they were wrong.
As our blades crossed again, I did whatever I could to keep myself calm. My emotions were taking the best of me and turning me into something I didn't want. And yet it was so deliciously wrong and tempting and so a road I didn't want to follow down. These were Jedi, men forbidden from feeling these feelings. That left my only option as to find someone who didn't feel feelings, but who knew how hard that would be?
Unless, of course, I happened to run across the Valentino of Coruscant. Now, wouldn't that be interesting?
Obi-Wan was standing silently near the window, watching as the mid-evening traffic continued across the sky. He paused and half-turned toward the door as his former Padawan stepped in.
The young Jedi seemed to pause, his face tensing. "I have a matter I wish to discuss with you."
"It wouldn't happen to be our favorite Slayer, would it?" Obi-Wan asked humorlessly.
Anakin let out a nervous chuckle. "What makes you think that?"
"I do not like the way the Council is toying with her," Obi-Wan finally said after a long moment. "Has she revealed to you the reason for her new non-selfless form?"
"No," Anakin admitted. "She has not."
"The Council has always believed our judgment is clouded by the Dark Side," Obi-Wan replied calmly. He crossed the room and sat upon a cushion, inviting the younger Jedi Knight to join him. "They have given her a solid form in order to judge for us."
"Is it the Council's judgment you do not trust, Master, or is it hers?" Anakin asked quietly.
"Is there any reason why we cannot trust her?" Obi-Wan inquired. "She has saved our lives before and I do believe she has our best interests at heart."
"Of that, I am uncertain," Anakin murmured. After a moment, he added, "She has asked me to train her in the Jedi arts, specifically on how to use a lightsaber."
"She could not ask for a better teacher," Obi-Wan replied with a small sigh. "After all, you were the one she watched fighting Dooku, not I. I was the one you had to carry unconscious on your back."
"I did not want to insult you, Master. You can take a new Padawan if you so desired. It should be your decision as it is your cross to bear… pardon the pun."
Obi-Wan thought carefully about his next words. "I should think she choose the stronger of us, Anakin. And she is no Padawan, though she is no Master either. She has a great knowledge and commands the Force at her will, though it seems to be the only thing keeping her with us."
"That thing that keeps her with us is you, Master," Anakin replied. "You are the one she has absolute loyalty to. If I pose a danger to you, I could see myself being her victim."
"Do you believe it would ever come to that, Anakin?"
"No, Master," Anakin replied confidently. "You are like a father to me and I could not ask for a better guide. I can use your teachings to guide her in the Force, though…"
"You do not believe she is a Jedi, do you?"
"I am not sure," Anakin replied anxiously. "She has… abilities… wiles…"
Obi-Wan burst into laughter, the rich sound filling the small room. "She is far from the robotic figure I met with the monotone," he said after a moment, tears of mirth filling his eyes.
"She has mastered the art of shopping, Master," Anakin said, his mouth going dry. "She has the ability to…"
"She is not alone in her race," Obi-Wan said at last. "All women have wiles. Even the Jedi. Given the state of Aayla at the time when her drive returns—"
Anakin's cheeks tinted pink. "Master, that is the last thing I needed to know about Master Secura!"
"Hmm," Obi-Wan replied. "You have never mastered the art of a woman before, have you?"
"You were lucky," Anakin retorted. "You had Siri, for whatever short time—" He paused at the pained expression on his Master's face which disappeared instantly a single blink later.
"I was lucky enough to have feelings, yes, but I did not let them master me. If she becomes troublesome, you must remind her of your duties. She should clearly remember her own. It seems as though Master Windu has given her orders and it will be a mark as to the Jedi she is if she follows them."
"I have a feeling that we will be eating our words," Anakin said meekly. "She has never followed the rules, even when she was with us."
"Perhaps not," Obi-Wan replied. "But she deserves the benefit of the doubt, does she not?"
"I agree," Anakin sighed. "But—"
"Just mind my words, Anakin. She is a smart, intelligent woman. She knows what she's doing."
"Ouch… damn it!" I quickly pulled the metallic file from my finger and glanced at the crimson line now streaming down my index finger. I quickly grabbed a cloth and wrapped it around my injured finger, glaring at the metal file for a moment before staring at the blood clearly running down my hand.
I was bleeding?
So much for a manicure. The Jedi didn't have any contacts or any use for such frivolous things. Well, frivolous for them for to me, they were life.
Apparently, I was life, too. Because when one is alive, one can bleed. And apparently nicking myself with a nail file was enough to cause me to bleed.
I heard the chime at my door sound and quickly wrapped the towel around my hand, staring down at my garments. They were hardly appropriate for guests, but I was bored and had been trying on my new wardrobe. At least whichever Jedi was at the door would get an eyeful of something. I quickly pulled my top tight with my uninjured hand and used my injured hand to use the Force to release the lock on the door.
The door slid open and Anakin stepped in. At once, his face seemed to go red. I turned to him before letting the towel fall to the floor as I held up my bloody finger. "I hurt it."
It took him a moment to understand what I had said. When he did, the Jedi could still hear his hysterical laughter five minutes later.
"Okay, now that's just getting old," I snapped, watching as Anakin sat on the side of the cushion, still clutching his aching sides.
"I apologize," he said, wiping at his streaming eyes. "I just… wow, Buffy. I didn't think that someone with your finesse would be quite upset about breaking a nail."
"I'm a girl, damn it."
Anakin's face sobered. "That you are." He paused and glanced around the room, which looked a bit like my Sunnydale closet but without the pastels. "Have you something for a formal dinner?"
"Why? Are you asking me out?"
He shook his head no. "I was thinking of inviting you to dinner if you so wished to meet my…"
He glanced at me suspiciously, as though trying to sense whether or not I had an ulterior motive. But I kept my gaze carefully blank. After a few moments, he shrugged. "If you prepare yourself quickly, I can take you to where she – we – live."
"Well, clear out. If I change, I do it without prying man's eyes."
Anakin nodded, his cheeks coloring as he made for the door. He was only waiting a few moments before I came out the other side. He looked relieved to see me in something far more modest than the little outfits I kept wearing to our training sessions. I so enjoyed pushing his buttons and watching his Adam's apple bob up and down when he was nervous was just so much fun.
I loved being a flirt again. When I was a ghost, no one took me seriously. Even Mace and Yoda had difficulty restraining the woman in me. She was roaring back to life again and, for the moment, I was okay with it.
As we crossed the long, elaborate halls, I kept glancing around me, seeing the curious stares of the Jedi.
"Why do they keep looking at me?"
"In case you haven't noticed," Anakin replied, "they sense the Force and you're practically the Living Force. They sense you as closely as they can feel you."
I couldn't resist. "Can you feel me?"
He paused. "Yes."
"Can you really?" I asked, unable to stop a teasing grin. Luckily he caught it before he could embarrass himself and started snickering. I couldn't help my bemused smirk as we left the Jedi Temple.
"Oh, thank God!" I moaned, throwing my arms out as the last rays of light from Coruscant surrounded me. "I love the sun, even artificially! I hate being so pale."
"Can you not reprogram the pigments of your skin?"
"Yes, but that sounds too science-y for plain ol' me," I replied with a pout. Anakin had just reached his small yellow ship thingy when his communications device started chirping. He quietly took the call in a different direction. When he returned, he looked terse.
"Would you terribly mind if we stopped at the Senate building on the way back?" he asked. "I need to report to the Chancellor."
My head snapped up from the hands folded neatly in my lap. "No," I replied softly, "I have no problem with that."
A half hour later, I found myself back in the Senate chambers, wandering the corridors. Anakin suddenly appeared behind me and led me to the office where the Chancellor worked.
"Wait here," he cautioned, making to move towards the doorway.
"Do not bother," a kind voice said behind me, "I am here." Anakin turned around and quickly bowed. I turned my head and quickly jerked away, staring at the figure behind me.
"Hello, Anakin and thank you for coming on such short notice. I'm afraid that time is a luxury we cannot afford these days." His grandfatherly face turned to me and I could see his eyes widen. "Who is this?"
"This?" Anakin asked quietly. "She's—"
"I'm Buffy," I said, offering the Chancellor my hand. I even threw in a head bow, knowing that it couldn't hurt. I saw the confused look on the Chancellor's face as he took my hand and gave it the smallest shake.
"Charmed, I'm sure. I—"
"She's a Jedi Knight," Anakin finally blurted out. "We've… we've been working together."
"Is that right?" the Chancellor asked, turning to look at the tall, pale form standing before him. "In that case, will you come with us?"
"Me?" I asked quickly. "Oh, no, no… I'm just waiting for Anakin to stop working. I—"
"Oh, but I insist." Those hideous lips of his twisted into a sardonic smile. "Please, come."
I took a deep breath and slowly released it as the Chancellor led Anakin into his office. Counting to three inside my head, I slowly followed behind them, the door swinging shut behind me.
Padmé anxiously set the pitcher in the center of the table and smoothed her blue dress, enjoying the way it stretched over her pregnant belly. She couldn't help but feel trepidation at Anakin's message. He was bringing one of the new Jedi Knights – a female by what he had said – home to meet her. And here was Padmé thinking that none of the Jedi could ever know what she and Anakin had.
Inside the lift, Anakin shifted his robes for the twenty first time. It was all I could do to not throttle him.
"Would you relax?" I asked as the lift finally came to a stop. "You're like a Harry Potter fan on book day… gosh."
"I am… apprehensive. None of the Jedi know of my… I don't…"
"Shh," I hushed him with a small smile. "I understand."
"Are you certain you wish to go through with this?" he asked nervously.
"Better late than never," I replied. The doors opened and Anakin stepped through, looking around. A sudden figure came up from the left side and Anakin quickly stepped away from me.
"Ani, you're home," Padmé said, giving her husband a charming smile and squeezing his hands lovingly. Then, at last, she turned to me. "I'm Padmé."
"Yes," Anakin said, shaking himself out of his stupor. "She's Buffy, she's—"
"If we're all baring our secrets, I might as well tell mine," I replied, giving Anakin a sympathetic smile. "I'm a dead girl walking restored to a robotic body for a Jedi mission." At Padmé's wide-eyed gaze, she immediately swung it to Anakin who confirmed my story.
"She is one with the Living Force, returned to this world because of—"
"Because of a frumpy, grumpy Jedi Master who has a stick shoved too far up his—"
I was startled by the sound of Padmé clapping her hands. As she stepped into the remaining light coming from their balcony, I could clearly see that her pregnancy was coming along nicely. The Force was all but screaming into my ears that there was more to this pregnancy than met the eye.
I felt a sudden determination, one that overshadowed the explicit mission given to me by the Jedi Council. I could clearly see that, despite my brief flirtations, there was a deep love between those two – a sort of love that should last forever. The determination filled my blood until I realized I was staring hard at Padmé and saw the fearful look in her eyes.
Despite everything I was and everything I was here to do, I felt protective, knowing that I would never let anything happen to this family. Because they were the shape of things to come.
Long after she had left his office, the Chancellor could still feel her presence. Anakin's was a presence he had felt since the boy's childhood. But the girl's… it was amazing what he sensed when she stood close to him with those distrusting eyes. She so clearly was dismayed at the close relationship he and the Jedi Knight shared, but he knew that it went beyond that. He could feel it within her… he could feel what she was and the level of the Force. There was no doubt in his mind that this was no ordinary Jedi Knight…
The ward room was quiet as Mace, Obi-Wan and several other Jedi crowded around the console, receiving their latest updates. Mace had noticed that Obi-Wan's silence was lingering. He could feel the younger man's resentment towards the Council's decision to use the Living Force to their own advantage.
"It won't work," Obi-Wan said quietly after Mace had voiced his concern. "The Living Force has a will of its own. We Jedi cannot wield it." His eyes drooped sadly as he regarded the tiny dots that moved across the delicate screen. "No one can."
"Do not fault us for our decision," Mace warned the other Master. "This was made for the Republic."
"If you only knew of her strengths, you would not see the way I do," Obi-Wan replied. "I have known her for months now and her powers—"
"They could be limitless," Mace said evenly. "I can only hope in time we have made the right decision."
Anakin found me by the lifts. I had been standing there, staring into the darkness, for some time now. His gaze softened at my thoughtful expression.
"What's on your mind?"
I could barely look at him. "Love should last forever… but sometimes we can't protect those we love, even if it's our deepest desire."
He looked stricken as though I had slapped him in the face. "I don't know what to believe," he whispered.
"Anakin, you have a job to do." My gentle hand touched his chin, directing his gaze to mine. "And now, so do I. Don't worry. I will take care of everything…"