A/N: This is the sequel to "Seeing Through the Dark." Readers will need to have read the first story to understand the dynamics of the relationships between the characters of this one.
In "Echoes.." I will be exploring the events of AOTC and how they impact a living Qui-Gon and civilian Obi-Wan.
Dense, white fog blanketed Galactic City as three Nubian ships entered the Coruscant atmosphere, consisting of a royal cruiser, flanked by two small fighters. Padmé Amidala switched from visual to tactical readouts as she steered one of the fighters toward the floating platform. On board the cruiser she was escorting was her decoy, Cordé and her security personnel. Inside the other fighter, which had positioned itself on the opposite side of the star cruiser was her private bodyguard, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
It had been Obi-Wan's idea to return to Coruscant in this fashion. Besides the rumors of unrest among senators and other Republic leaders who argued against her stand opposing the creation of a Republic Army, Obi-Wan had experienced what he had defined as a 'bad feeling' and insisted on a decoy.
Padmé agreed, because she trusted him. Implicitly. With her life, with her body and heart. Obi-Wan was the oasis of her existence in a galaxy of increasing chaos and fear. Systems were beginning to pull away from the Republic, drawing power to themselves, but it was Padmé's firm belief that creating an Army in response to the rising threat would be an act of aggression, which they would never recover from. She did not want to be a part of a generation that was responsible for a galactic war.
Her stand in the matter had been made clear and had won her enough support to become elected Senator in the now-deceased Senator Palpatine's place, but over time, her outspoken manner and opinions had earned her a few enemies as well. Obi-Wan had taken extra precaution in planning their return to Coruscant, during which time Padmé would participate in an important vote that would either promote or kill the bill outlining the details of the Military Creation Act.
She had been nervous during the three-day journey from Naboo, but now that the landing platform was within sight, Padmé's nerves began to settle. Surely, no one would risk an attack in the middle of Galactic City, in broad daylight. Perhaps Obi-Wan had been mistaken, although he usually never was.
Padmé stepped down from the fighter, her booted feet hitting the durasteel surface of the landing pad and immediately looked to her right in search of her companion and bodyguard, who, himself had just exited his own fighter and was heading straight toward her.
Her smile was hidden behind the face shield she wore, which the sight of him walking toward her provoked as it had for the past two years. It had been a somewhat tense situation in the beginning, but eventually the palace staff had come to accept the fact that Obi-Wan was not only her personal bodyguard, but also her lover. Everyone had seemed to have forgotten the fact that he was once a Sith warrior, and Padmé had had very little to do with it. Obi-Wan had won over the people of Naboo with his own charm and easy-going mannerisms.
But right now, his posture seemed tense and suddenly a firm grip was on Padmé's arm. Before she realized what was happening, he had taken her to the ground and covered her body with his own as an explosion rocked the platform.
The pungent smell of burning wiring and human skin seemed to have permeated her membranes and no amount of breathing in the stagnant, artificial oxygen of Coruscant would get rid of it, but she was determined to try. Padmé took several more deep breaths through her nose to get rid of the smell, but she knew she could not get rid of the sense of loss and responsibility.
If she hadn't come back, Cordé would still be alive. If only she hadn't insisted on being present for the vote. She could've cast it by holofeed instead, but that would only have proven her fear, made her appear weak before her enemies, and she wasn't going to allow that to happen.
She had to come. If only Cordé hadn't had to die because of that decision.
Overcome with the chill of death, Padmé hugged herself, starting only slightly as warm, solid arms wrapped around her from behind, a lightly stubbled chin coming to rest upon her shoulder.
"You shouldn't be out here."
Obi-Wan's voice murmured in her ear, his very presence strengthening her resolve and easing her worries.
"I needed some fresh air. Can we stay just a bit?"
There was a pause before his answer, and Padmé knew that he was casting his awareness out into the energies she could not detect herself, assessing the surroundings for any possible danger. Once he had determined there was none, his hands spanned her waist and Padmé allowed her arms to drop, gripping the cloth-covered thighs that pressed against her on either side.
"Are you all right?"
"Yes, considering. I made arrangements for the bodies to be sent back home. How did your meeting go?"
"As expected. Chancellor Valorum is insisting on assigning a Jedi to investigate."
Upon hearing the news, Padmé turned in Obi-Wan's embrace to look upon his face. He didn't talk about the Jedi much, and she knew there were still some unresolved issues that he had pushed deep down inside himself that not even she could reach.
"How do you feel about that?"
"That all depends." That quirky little grin he often wore appeared before he placed his lips upon the end of her nose.
"On who they send?" Padmé answered for him.
"Exactly." He answered with another grin. "Come inside, love. It's too dangerous out here, and you're quite distracting to my senses."
Padmé allowed herself to be led away from the balcony of her apartment which was exposed to the active traffic lanes of Galactic City, but she was overcome with a memory of how excited Cordé was to be coming to Coruscant. The city-planet was the very core of the Galaxy, the central hub of activity and nightlife, and they had made plans to experience some of it together when they arrived. But now…
"Hey." Obi-Wan's finger gently lifted her chin as tears filled Padmé's eyes and he drew her into a tender embrace. "It's going to be all right." He soothed.
"I don't know what I would do if you weren't here with me." A shuddering sob escaped before she could stop it and prompted Obi-Wan to tighten his embrace just a bit.
She could stand there and let him hold her like this forever. Just let the Galaxy take care of its own problems. But apparently, fate had other plans.
The doorchime rang out. Twice, before Obi-Wan moved. "All right?"
Padmé nodded her head as his thumb swept away the moisture from underneath her eyes and then his lips pressed against hers in a quick, comforting kiss. "It's probably whatever Jedi the Chancellor chose to investigate. I'll go let them in."
Padmé was hesitant to let go of his hand as he went to the door. All of a sudden, she was the one who was having a bad feeling.
And she soon discovered why. Standing just outside the entrance to her apartment was none other than Qui-Gon Jinn.