Chapter II: The Compromise

"But I have found that anger can be channeled so as not to be destructive," Dooku was saying, politely ignoring the fact that Anakin, who had until recently been listening quite intently, was now focused elsewhere. Dooku himself did not sense anything, however, and he was curious as to what had drawn the other's attention. "It's not so much a matter of willing away your anger but of—"

"Padmé's here," Anakin interrupted suddenly, seemingly completely unaware that the other had even been speaking. His eyes were shining, and he seemed somehow more alive than Dooku had yet seen him. In the Force, he practically glowed.

Dooku wondered just how it was that the other Jedi seemed unable to see it.

"Is she?" he inquired smoothly, untroubled by the interruption. "Well, then, I suppose I had better see what can be done."

Anakin seemed to come back to himself, and he turned quickly to face Dooku, his eyes both grateful and apologetic. "Thank you," he said sincerely. "I still don't quite understand why you're doing this, but… Thank you, Master Dooku."

"No," said Dooku with an elegant shake of the head. "Not Master."


"I do believe you have had enough of masters, have you not?" the Jedi murmured. His words held a gentle sting, and Anakin did not fail to flinch, though just a little.

"Yes," he said softly, his mind far away. "I suppose I have."

"That's settled, then," Dooku said with a cheerfulness that sounded forced, even from him. "You may call me Yan."

"Again, I thank you," Anakin said, and then added with an almost mischievous grin, "Now get out there and convince your Council to let me see her, before I go mad!"

Anakin paced. He couldn't help it. Though his last words to Dooku had been said jokingly, there was more truth to them than he would like to admit.

They weren't going to let her see him. He could hear them all arguing, just outside his door. He almost smiled at the thought of Padmé disputing with the entire Jedi Council as though it were no different than a Senatorial debate.

But he couldn't quite manage the smile. Because they weren't listening to her. Even with Dooku supporting her, they weren't listening.

Force, it had been almost a week! Couldn't they allow him even two hours?

Two hours with the entire Jedi Council staring and prodding, studying his every emotion, his every thought, every movement… But it would be worth it, if only he could just see her.

And she was right there! He could just open the door, and…

He turned sharply, angrily, and continued his pacing, trying to remember what Dooku had been saying about channeling anger. He couldn't afford to be angry with the Jedi. That certainly wouldn't encourage them to let her see him.

He wondered briefly if this were all a test, if even now they were gauging his emotions. It wouldn't surprise him in the least.

He sighed and ran a hand through his hair, trying to focus on something, anything. Perhaps he should actually listen to their discussion. After all, even if they didn't let her in, at least he would be able to hear her voice.

"This is ridiculous!" Padmé was saying. He could tell by the quiet tones of her voice that she was not simply angry—she was livid. For a moment, he almost pitied the Jedi. They had no idea what they were up against.

"Senator Amidala, you must understand that we are concerned for your safety," an older, deeper male voice replied. Mace Windu, Anakin thought. None of the Jedi trusted him, of course, but he had the feeling that Windu positively loathed him. Anakin had heard this particular argument of Windu's so many times that he actually mouthed the Jedi Master's next words along with him. "The security issues—"

However, he hadn't been expecting Padmé to interrupt so quickly, and so his monologue actually lasted a few seconds longer than Windu's own.

"I appreciate your concern, Master Jedi," she said icily, "but as a Senator of the Galactic Republic, I demand to be allowed to speak privately with your prisoner." She spoke the last word with extreme distaste, as though forcing herself to swallow something rotten.

"Allow that, we cannot, Senator," replied the aged voice of Master Yoda. He sounded completely unconcerned. "Only with the Jedi to protect you, may you enter."

It took quite a bit to make Padmé really lose her temper, but when she did, the results were impressive. "Really!" she exclaimed, "I hardly think I need the entire Jedi Council to protect me from my own husband!" Anakin grinned to himself, picturing her standing just so, her brows drawn together, her eyes sparking, her small hands clenched in fists at her sides. She was really quite beautiful when she was angry.

"Senator," Windu began, but he was cut off once again, this time by Yan Dooku.

"Masters," said Dooku in his calm, elegant voice, completely unaffected by the tensions around him, "I suggest a compromise."

"Suggest what, do you, Master Dooku?" asked Yoda. Anakin thought he sounded rather suspicious.

"Allow the Senator and I to go in alone," Dooku said, and when some began to murmur in alarm, he added, "Should anything become amiss, surely you will be able to sense it from here, and come to our assistance."

There was a rather sullen silence, and then Yoda asked, "Agree to this plan, do you, Senator?"

"Yes," she said simply, "I do."

"Then in, you may go," the ancient master finally agreed. "But know that watching carefully your safety, we are."

"And I am grateful for it, Masters," Padmé said diplomatically. But Anakin thought there was more than a trace of sarcasm in her words.

And then he stopped thinking about it at all, because the door whisked open, and she was there.