Sins of the Father
Note: there is an alternate version of this chapter available at my personal site.
"I'm leaving," she says firmly, crossing her arms over her chest as she stares at the doctor. Padmé understood the need to stay overnight, but she is quickly tiring of this hospital room. She wants to go home.
The doctor shoots a pleading gaze at the Emperor.
Anakin shrugs. "I'm not going to stop her," he says. Darkly, he adds, "And I wouldn't recommend you have anyone else try."
The doctor sighs in resignation. "Fine," he snips, "but you need rest."
Padmé nods in agreement, but heads for the door. If she has to spend another second smelling bacta she may lose her mind.
Padmé sighs blissfully as the water washes over her body. She scrubs her hair three separate times, trying to rid her tresses of the inescapable stench of bacta.
She thought her long years on Tatooine made the concept of home forever elusive. However, her absolute gratitude upon returning to her own apartment is testament to the contrary. She has never been so happy to be home.
Anakin is still here, waiting in her bedroom, guarding her until Lorian arrives to take his place. Mehht, undoubtedly is anxiously anticipating the event. As much as Padmé loves Mehht and as much as she wishes to see Mehht happy, she does not share the sentiment. Padmé can't remember the last time she had the luxury of turning to someone during a crisis, of truly sharing her burden and her fears with a partner. Experience taught her to depend on no one save herself, yet she can't bring herself to pull back from Anakin when he is finally within her reach.
With a sigh, she turns off the water. She knows there is certain danger is allowing herself to hope Anakin will see reason, to hope he can and will return to her. But she can't stop herself. She needs to believe it is possible otherwise all is lost.
Standing in front of the mirror, Padmé runs the towel over her hair, patting it dry. Her long chestnut locks trail over her shoulders and back in soft curls. Wrapping the towel around her body, she stares at the 'fresher door. She onpurposeforgot to bring her change of clothes into the 'fresher with her despite the fact that Anakin is waiting in her bedroom. She feels rather ridiculous. Anakin is her husband. He fathered her children. He saw her naked only a few days ago.
But this is different.
Something has undeniably changed between them. She isn't going to let him pull away, regardless of how viciously Lord Vader fights her on that front. Anakin – her Anakin - is there; she knows that in her heart.
She has no intention of parading around in front of him to provoke a sexual response. He obviously desires her physically and she can no longer deny that she feels the same. However, she isn't worried he will find an implied invitation in her manner of dress – or undress. Rather, she feels trepidation about escalating the intimacy of their relationship. Not physical intimacy, but emotional. Often times, such small gestures hold incredible power.
If she walks into her bedroom dressed only in her towel knowing he is there … the gesture holds power. It implies he is entitled to watch her in this manner. It implies that she views him as more than a husband in name. And it requires a great deal of vulnerability on her part which is incredibly difficult considering she spent the last decade and a half inuring herself to his very presence.
Steeling her resolve, Padmé opens the 'fresher door and steps into her bedroom. Anakin is there, his back to her as he stares out the window. Realizing there is a change of clothes laid out on her bed, Padmé crosses the room. She stares down at the clothes quizzically.
"Did Mehht set these out?" she asks quietly. It is a sand colored tunic and pants she brought from Tatooine. While she would love nothing more than to wear the blissfully comfortable garments, they are hardly befitting the Empress.
Anakin continues to stare out the window for several more moments before finally turning to meet her gaze. "No, I did."
Padmé blinks at him.
He steps closer. "I wanted you to be comfortable."
His words are bland and reasonable enough, but there is something in his manner, something close to embarrassment onto which Padmé's thoughts latch. She remembers an exchange they had shortly after her return to Coruscant where his attention seemed unaccountably fixed on her moisture farmer attire.
She cocks her head to the side as she regards him. "Do you like these clothes?" she asks quietly.
He scoffs, looking away, but there is a slight blush to his skin that betrays him.
"Anakin," she prompts softly.
He turns back to her with a sheepish expression. "It … reminds me of home," he says softly.
Her lips curve into a smile. "That's sweet," she replies gently.
Seemingly mortified by the entire exchange, Anakin switches tactics. He crosses the room to her and reaches out, running his fingertips over the edge of her towel. "I prefer you in nothing at all," he says wolfishly.
She gives him a wicked grin. "Is that so? I thought Lorian was on his way over so you could leave."
His leering grin borders on lecherous. "Lorian can wait. I'm sure Mehht can keep him entertained."
"What about Korto?"
He shrugs. "Korto can wait too. He's not going anywhere. Ever."
Anakin reaches for the spot where her towel is tucked over on itself, securing it closed. Reflexively, Padmé's hand covers his.
She stands there, feeling her heart pound in her chest. He is so close, his breath puffing against her face. He waits and she can almost feel how tightly his muscles are wound, how he is fighting himself, waiting for her cue on how to proceed.
She takes a deep breath and releases it on a shaky exhale. Gripping his hand more tightly, she twists it back in a motion that tumbles the knot free, sending the towel sliding to the floor. They stand there for a moment, neither moving. She is acutely aware of her nudity and his clothing.
His tongue wets his upper lip and she has the sensation that he is going to say something. Apparently, he changes his mind.
With a muffled curse, he grabs her, one of his hands threading through her wet tresses, gripping the back of her head, the other banding across her lower back, pulling her tightly against his body. Their mouths meet in a voracious kiss. Her lips part instantly and he takes full advantage, pulling her close as he arches her backward, deepening the kiss, demanding her submission. Never one to go quietly, she nips at his lips, biting down gently, marking her territory in return. From the rumbling growl at the back of his throat, she knows he approves.
Her arms twine around his neck and she pushes herself against him, fighting to get closer. The coarse material of his black tunic and the supple texture of his synthleather tabard are exquisite torture against her naked skin. With an impatient snarl, he pulls away long enough to tear at his obi and tabard, shrugging out of his tunic until the clothing joins her towel on the bedroom floor.
And then he is there, bare from the waist up, tumbling her back onto the bed. And Padmé's thoughts are blissfully vacant of anything save her husband for a very long time.
Anakin is sleeping on his right side, his body turned toward her, his face half-buried in a pillow. Looking exhausted, he snores softly. In his sleep, his flesh and bone arm is banded possessively around her waist, holding her against his body. She takes careful note of the scrapes and scabs on his knuckles that he must have sustained in the explosion.
His bare feet stick out from beneath the blanket loosely draped around both of them. It strikes Padmé as oddly vulnerable to see a Sith Lord's bare feet. She can't remember the last time she had the opportunity to watch him like this, his expression relaxed and peaceful. He doesn't look like the Emperor or a Sith Lord. He looks like her Ani. He looks like the brave young soldier who shared her bed so many years ago. There are differences to be certain. He is more scarred. And more tired. And more broken.
So is she.
The cut across his left cheek is starting to scab and there is some bruising. A simple bacta patch would heal his skin perfectly and leave no scar but apparently he was too agitated to worry about his own vanity. Or maybe not. It gives him a certain roguish look – not that he ever needed any help in that department.
She gently runs her fingertips over his abused skin and his eye flutters open. He watches her carefully, pushing himself up on his right arm. She can tell that it takes him a moment to get his bearings, to remember where he is and why she is here. Padmé can't point out any one thing he does, but she gets the distinct impression he is not accustomed to waking up in bed with another person.
"I fell asleep," he says, his voice rough from sleep.
"You were tired," she says softly, pressing a gentle kiss to his lips.
He makes an appreciative sound and pushes her back against the pillow, deepening the kiss. He finally pulls back far enough to look her in the eyes. "I missed you," he says seriously. "And I don't mean the sex."
"Speak for yourself," she huffs. "I missed the sex."
"I missed the sex too," he clarifies, "but that's not what I'm talking about." He growls in frustration. "You're ruining my moment."
She tries not to laugh, propping herself up on her elbow. She kisses him gently on the end of the nose. "I'm sorry," she says unrepentantly.
He frowns, pulling her closer. " I missed you," he says intensely. "Everything about you. Talking and touching and sex."
"Really?" she asks, narrowing her eyes at him. "But you had Angel to keep you company." It's petty and jealous and yet Padmé cannot stop herself from uttering the words. She needs to know the intimacy they shared is not typical for him, that it is as sacred to him as it is to her.
"She's not you," he says firmly, but he won't meet her gaze.
She presses her hand to his cheek and forces him to look at her.
"I've had moments of weakness," he says seriously, "but Angel is not you. Not in any way that matters and honestly, she disturbs me deeply."
Padmé is surprised by his candor and more surprised by the fact that she believes him.
"Angel should be the perfect revenge," he muses wryly. "She looks just like you and her only desire is to please." He shakes his head, frowning. "But to be so close to her and realize none of the things that make you … you are present is … unsettling."
"I thought I was nothing but a headache," she says cattily, turning his words from the Hapan dinner against him.
"Oh, you're definitely a headache," he counters, grinning mischievously as he forces her on her back and crawls over her body. "But you have a way of making up for the trouble you put me through."
She returns his smile and pulls him close, pressing her lips to his. He sighs, kissing her back.
The door to Padmé's bedroom hisses open and Leia charges inside. "Mom, have you seen Dad? Lorian said he was – " Leia comes to a dead stop in the middle of Padmé's bedroom, her shock instantly morphing into horror.
Padmé stares at her daughter. The sheet and blankets cover Padmé and Anakin from head to toe, Leia can't see anything. But there is absolutely no mistaking exactly what is transpiring.
With a strangled sound somewhere between mortification and revulsion, Leia flees, closing the door behind her.
Padmé groans, dislodging Anakin as she rolls onto her side, burying her face in the pillow. The bed shakes with the force of Anakin's laughter and she lifts her head to glare at him.
"Why is it that you can remember to lock the door to your office, but not my bedroom?" she demands waspishly.
"Leia will recover," Anakin replies casually. "It serves her right for barging in. She's lucky she didn't do it a half hour ago."
Padmé is significantly less amused than her husband. While Leia's presence at the medcenter and obvious concern assuaged many of Padmé's fears, she knows Leia still perceives her as a rival for Anakin's attentions. This certainly will not help matters.
"Maybe we should go to my place next time," he says. "The kids can't open those doors."
Padmé frowns at him, secretly wondering if Anakin knows Luke went through his personal files and that is why he decided to make sure neither of the twins could access his personal quarters.
"I hate your place," she says seriously. "It reminds me of the garage at the farmstead."
He chuckles, pressing kisses to her neck while one of his hands tries to find its way under the sheet. "Me too," he says.
Padmé rolls her eyes, well remembering that the garage was the first place she and Anakin made love. "You've improved since the garage," she says, hoping to knock him down a peg or two.
It doesn't work. "I know," he says smugly.
She looks at him. "You are an odd creature, Anakin Skywalker."
He waggles an eyebrow at her.
"That wasn't supposed to be a compliment," she clarifies.