TITLE:Five Times Anakin Skywalker Apologized. (And One Time He Didn't)
FANDOM: Star Wars
SPOILERS: Everything is game
CHARACTERS: Padmé, Shmi Skywalker, Obi-Wan, Mace Windu, Leia.
TIMELINE: Spans Attack of the Clones through Return of the Jedi.
He's not. And if the narrowing of her eyes is any indication, she knows it. But she doesn't say anything because that would be against the unspoken rules of this dangerous game they play.
"Excuse me," she says pointedly, huffing with considerably more exasperation than she really feels.
She brushes past him again to grab the shawl she accidentallyonpurpose forgot. He's standing too close again. As she reaches around him to grab the flimsy scrap of material, their bodies rub together. Her neck and shoulders are bare and she can feel the moist heat of his breath against her skin, raising tiny goosebumps.
She knows how stupid and reckless this behavior is, but she can't stop. She doesn't want to stop. She loves the way the pit of her stomach tingles when he looks at her. He's a Jedi and she's a Senator and this is so very forbidden. And she especially hates the way that makes it even more exciting.
His hand closes around her wrist, stopping her from retreating, pinning her between his body and the villa's wall. He's not holding her tightly. If she pulled harder, he would probably let go. But she doesn't pull harder and he doesn't let go.
He leans in closer and she forces herself to not meet his gaze. She stares blindly out the open door, across the veranda, not seeing the sparkling water beyond. His lips press against the sensitive spot behind her ear and her whole body shivers.
"Padmé." His voice is soft and so full of longing and dammit, she wants this.
She wants him. She wants to stop putting her own wants and needs last. She wants to forget duty and the Republic and the Jedi Order.
But it has never been about what she wants.
She pulls away, avoiding meeting his eyes. She doesn't want to see the longing there. Or the hurt. Or the anger.
"I have to change," she says.
It's his mantra, murmured over and over and over and over.
The cloth is not clean and that's just one more reason to hate them. Animals. Creatures. Vermin. They've stripped his mother of even this final dignity. He doesn't notice the tears that still stream down his cheeks as he carefully wraps his mother's abused body.
It's his fault she's dead. He's a Jedi. He felt her pain for weeks. It echoed through him across half the known galaxy. He ignored it. He ignored his fear. And now his mother is dead.
He wasn't strong enough. He chose to ignore his fears, to trust in the will of the Force rather than using his abilities to save her. The Force took her from him.
He allowed her to be taken.
He wasted his abilities. What good are his abilities if he can't keep those he loves safe?
It won't happen again.
He will find a way.
Obi-Wan looks at his apprentice's pale features and knows that for the first time in a very long while, Anakin truly means his apology. "You're the one who's wounded, not me," Obi-Wan says, hoping for some levity. "Perhaps I should be apologizing to you."
"No, Master," Anakin counters gravely. "You have no reason to apologize to me."
Obi-Wan lays a comforting hand on Anakin's uninjured shoulder. "Have faith, Anakin," he says. "Dooku is on the run, but we will find him."
Anakin sighs and sinks back against the gurney's mattress. Obi-Wan frowns at his Padawan, but he cannot fault him for his feelings. It's true enough that Anakin has always been moody – sadly a trait that only seems to grow more pronounced with age. But yesterday, one hundred and seventy-nine of their brethren lost their lives at Geonosis.
These are dark days. Anakin has been permanently disfigured. Vanity has always been one of Anakin's greatest failings. Obi-Wan suspects that Anakin's concern over Senator Amidala's reaction to his altered appearance are contributing to his somber mood.
"Master?" Anakin's voice is quiet and sounds incredibly young.
"Yes, Anakin?" Obi-Wan looks at him expectantly.
He's obviously struggling with something.
"Is this about Senator Amidala?" Obi-Wan asks. It's quite obvious that something has occurred between the two, though Obi-Wan would like to pretend otherwise.
"Padmé?" Anakin asks, confused. He catches himself and shakes his head. "No. No, this isn't about Senator Amidala."
Obi-Wan crosses his arms over his chest and looks down at his Padawan with concern. "What is it then?"
"Master," he says and then stares off into space, his body filled with nervous energy. His emotions are a chaotic jumble in the Force. "On Tatooine …"
Obi-Wan lowers his head. "I am sorry about your mother, Anakin," he says softly.
The pain in Anakin's eyes is difficult to behold. But there's something else as well … guilt perhaps.
"It wasn't your fault, Anakin," Obi-Wan says.
Anakin shrugs and looks away, his eyes shiny with unshed tears. He stares out the medical frigate's portal. "I'm sorry," he says quietly, "for so many things."
"I'm sorry," Anakin says, shaking his head and rising to pace around Chancellor Palpatine's office. "I didn't mean to take up so much of your time."
"It's no problem, Anakin, I assure you," Chancellor Palpatine says kindly. "I'm glad you trust me enough to confide in me."
Anakin doesn't look at him. He looks out the transparisteel window at Coruscant's high traffic air travel lanes. "I'm a poor Jedi," he admits.
"On the contrary," Chancellor Palpatine says firmly, "I believe you to be a very great Jedi, Anakin. Wisdom is a rare trait among men – even the Jedi."
Anakin looks at his mentor warily. Palpatine holds up his hands to silence his words. "You have great power, Anakin. Great abilities. It's nothing to be ashamed of. Those creatures murdered your defenseless mother. It's only natural that you should choose to seek vengeance upon them."
Anakin looks away again. He's not sure why he's here. He's not sure what has compelled him to confess his crimes to Chancellor Palpatine when he couldn't even bring himself to admit the truth to Obi-Wan.
"The greater tragedy," Chancellor Palpatine continues, "would be for you to forsake your abilities, Anakin. The Jedi have such a narrow view –"
"Forgive me, Chancellor," Anakin interrupts abruptly, "but the greater tragedy is my mother's death. I can think of nothing worse."
Chancellor Palpatine studies him for a long moment. "If only that were true, my young friend," he says softly. "If only that were true."
V. Mace Windu
Anakin doesn't say the words aloud, but Master Windu hears them and clearly understands the truth.
Anakin does regret it if only because it confirms every fear Mace Windu ever harbored about him. Master Windu was right. The prophecy was wrong.
Anakin is not the Order's salvation.
He is its destruction.
It's not spoken aloud. It's not pressed to her mind through the Force. It is simply his thought and it will die with him.
Vader was even more shocked than Emperor Palpatine to learn that Anakin Skywalker had a son. The Emperor believed – as did Vader – that Senator Amidala's child died with her. Luke was proof enough of the error of that assumption.
But Vader knew a truth that the Emperor never suspected. Anakin Skywalker had believed his wife was carrying a daughter, not a son. It was Leia's essence he felt all those years ago.
He will die without ever seeing his daughter and having known she is his. Instead he will carry the memories of torturing a willful young Senator, the child of a bitter enemy. He will remember the grudging respect he felt for her. He will remember forcing her to bear witness to the destruction of her homeworld.
Luke has forgiven him. He suspects Leia never will. She is his child in so many ways.