A/N: Again if any of you are confused about the dates and time, I have the link to the wookieepedia page that explains the star wars standard calender in my profile. Just copy and paste it.
I know I've been gone for a while but life got hectic, I went on vacation for three months to collect myself and then got preoccupied, sorry. But I'm back and I hope that you enjoy this chapter.
Coruscant: Jedi Temple.
Arica Skywalker grew frustrated with every time she tried to reach Anakin on his comm signal and received no answer. He left her a message telling her that there was a family emergency on Naboo but didn't say what and he wasn't answering his comm.
Knowing what she had to do, she filled in her aide to take her place for her in the Senate for the time being before she packed her things and went down to the Jedi Temple to find Obi-Wan Kenobi, which she found him in no time.
"Master Kenobi, would you mind escorting me to Naboo?" she asked as she approached him.
Obi-Wan looked at her. "For what purpose?" he asked. Arica raised an eyebrow at him before he spoke again. "I need a credible excuse to give the council for escorting you to Naboo," he told her.
"Anakin left me a message telling me that there was a family emergency but didn't say what it was and he isn't answering his com," Arica told him.
"That's credible enough," Obi-Wan told her. "When do you wish to leave?" he asked.
"As soon as possible," Arica told him.
"I need to make arraignments with Master Windu to take charge of my Padawan for the time being," Obi-Wan told her. "It shouldn't take long. Mace is rather fond of Mara, unlike how he was when your brother was my Padawan," he finished.
"I expect to leave within the hour, Master Kenobi," Arica told him. The only indication that he had heard her was a curt nod as he walked away. It never ceased to amaze her why her brother held Obi-Wan Kenobi in such high esteem when all she ever got out of him were curt nods and a few words in a conversation like the one that just occurred. Without due, she left the Jedi Temple in order to make it to her designated hanger.
Naboo: Theed: Skywalker home.
After a two-day hyperspace flight, they were three blocks away from Anakin's house, but it did little to help the conversation level that Arica was at with Obi-Wan. The man was nothing but courteous, but he never really shared anything about himself which frustrated her to no end. She had heard numerous stories from Anakin about how great Obi-Wan Kenobi was. It was rare, but the only time that she had seen a human side to the older Jedi was when he last made it to Luke and Leia's birthday party. Because, Anakin had told her that he and Obi-Wan were like brothers, she extended this little family emergency to Obi-Wan, but the man had yet to say something interesting to her.
"I wish that I knew what this emergency was about," Arica grumbled.
"Whatever it is, I sense no urgency from Anakin, just concern," Obi-Wan told her.
"Odd," Arica commented and it was the last thing that was said between them before they reached Anakin's house. As always, Obi-Wan let her enter first. Arica expected nothing less but as soon as she entered the house, she heard her brother laughing uncontrollably at something in a room full of adults and her anger boiled. "I cannot believe this!" she exclaimed, catching the attention of the entire sitting room, but the only person there that she could focus on was her brother. "This is a new low, Anakin Skywalker. First you give me the cold shoulder, turning into a bigot when I announce my engagement, then you refuse to speak to me, ignoring my coms. Then out of nowhere you leave a curt message for me while the senate is in session, knowing very well that I was unavailable at the moment telling me to come here for a family emergency, but don't bother to elaborate. You refuse to answer your comm leaving me to worry about the worst case scenario. I spend two days alone in hyperspace with a conversational inept for your best friend and I come in here to see you laughing!"
"First off, you just insulted Obi-Wan in front of him. Luckily he's used to it, but still, bad form. And I take offense because I am the only one who can insult him. Secondly, take a good look around the room," Anakin replied calmly and stood up to greet Obi-Wan. "I'm glad that you've finally been able to make some time to visit," he said, embracing his old master briefly.
"Okay, who's miraculously joined the clan?" Obi-Wan asked after returning the embrace.
"I'm glad you're here, Master, because I have someone very important for you to meet," Anakin told him throwing an arm around him and maneuvering the older man into a better spot. "Obi-Wan, meet my mother. Mom, this is Obi-Wan Kenobi, my mentor and best friend, who owes me ten times over for saving his life," he said in way of introduction.
"Nine times, Anakin. I told you that, that business on Cato Neimoidia doesn't count," Obi-Wan corrected.
"Whatever helps you keep your dignity, of course," Anakin told him, retaking his seat.
"It is very nice to meet, you Obi-Wan. Ani speaks very highly of you," Shmi said pleasantly, looking at Obi-Wan.
"If you'll excuse my shock, Milady, but I have never heard someone tell me that. Usually I hear of his incessant complaining of how unfair I really am, of course all of that was grossly exaggerated," Obi-Wan replied making Shmi laugh lightly.
"Well, I'm sure that you have loads of stories for me," Shmi told him.
A wicked grin appeared on Obi-Wan's face making Anakin cringe. "Absolutely, Milady," he answered.
"That isn't really fair, Obi-Wan. I never once ratted you out to the Council when you did something wrong," Anakin told him.
"I know nothing of what you are implying," Obi-Wan told him.
"I took the credit with the Council for a good number of your screw-ups," Anakin reminded him.
"Well, your were a believable scapegoat and you did that of your own accord," Obi-Wan reminded him.
Archi looked over at his niece saw the state of shock that Arica was in and got up, guiding her out of the room. "Relax," he urged.
"But...it can't be...Anakin said she was dead...he lied," Arica breathed.
"No, he didn't," Archi told her.
"How do you explain the scene in the sitting room?" Arica demanded.
"Anakin believed that she had died and right now he's hanging on by a string," Archi told her.
"Funny, I don't see him hanging on by a string," Arica told him.
"I've been looking for it and he's hiding it well," Archi told her. "Lets look at it from Anakin's perspective. He had nightmares about your mother dying a brutal death for a while and when he found her, she's in a tuskan camp, tied up, malnourished and beaten. In his mind, he's thinking about his nightmares and the moment she passes out, his fear from his nightmares takes over and he believes her to be dead. Then he takes her back to the farm and buries her before taking off to be caught up in a war, believing her to be dead up until now. Add that to his damaged psyche from before, and I'd say that his wounds have just been reopened just by finding out that she's alive," he told her.
"So what happened?" Arica asked, her mind in a whirl, not only thinking about what her brother was going through but what her mother was or has been going through.
"To all appearances, your mother clawed her way out of that grave. As to explain why everyone thought she was dead...I have a theory. I did some researching and found something called Trilepesy, it is a condition that slows down all the vital signs to the point that they are near none existent. Doctors were fooled for thousands of years until it was named and diagnosed. Before then, there were unexplained rise from the dead cases that brought on hysteria. What causes Trilepesy is a severe shock to one's system," Archi told her.
"But shouldn't have Anakin sensed that she was alive?" Arica asked.
"Not if he was in a bad emotional state at the time and we both know that your brother has a hard time controlling his emotions," Archi answered.
"So what do we do?" Arica asked.
"We take care of your mother and keep a close watch on your brother in case he slips," Archi told her.
"What's wrong with Mom?" Arica asked worriedly.
"She's been sick for three years with little medical treatment on Tatooine. Your step-brother was doing the best he could for her until it got too much when he came to Anakin," Archi told her. "Now let's get out there before everyone starts to wonder where we're at," he instructed as he lead back out into the sitting room.
Once they were there, they saw Shmi laughing at something that Obi-Wan had said while Anakin was looking crossly at the Jedi.
"I think that, that is enough stories for now," Anakin said, looking pointedly at Obi-Wan.
"I see, you're allowed to have a good time at my expense but when the tables are turned, it's not okay," Obi-Wan remarked.
"I think Obi-Wan has a rather good point," Padmè said speaking up, earning her a pointed look from her husband. "Don't look at me like that, Anakin, Obi-Wan is my friend too," she said calmly.
"That may be true, but you're my wife," Anakin pointed out.
"How long have the three of you been friends?" Shmi asked.
"Twenty-four years," Padmè answered. "We met at about the same time, when Anakin first left Tatooine," she added.
"Long term friendships are something that should be treasured," Shmi told them.
Slowly, Arica approached the group, her eyes completely focused on her mother. It was a very clear indicator that her mother was sick and it broke her heart. "Mom," she croaked up catching Shmi's attention who smiled at her. Wordlessly, she crossed the distance, wrapped her arms around her mother, holding on tightly. "I've missed you," she whispered, unable to hold back the tears, joy that she was alive after all this time and that they were reunited, and sadness for their time apart. And for the first time in years she had her mother holding her.
Obi-Wan found Anakin outside and away from everyone else. He knew that Shmi's 'death' was something that Anakin had struggled with for far too long. The wound had been close to healing and now it was ripped wide open. Obi-Wan had little doubt that Anakin was at a disadvantage. It was plainly obvious that Shmi was ill and that Anakin ran the risk of loosing her all over again. "Trying to find your center?" he asked lightly, making himself known.
"Too many people, I needed to breathe," Anakin excused himself.
"I understand completly," Obi-Wan told him.
"Do you?" Anakin asked, looking at him. "You don't have a family, Obi-Wan, so you really don't." He took a breath. "For nine years it was just me and Mom and then for the next ten I was alone..."
"You weren't alone, Anakin," Obi-Wan interrupted.
"Nevertheless, I still didn't have a family to call mine and then I married Padmé and then Luke and Leia were born and--poof--I found myself thrust into a loud, meddlesome family that my wife called her own and then I found I had a sister and an uncle and now I have my mother back, though for how long I don't know. But I suddenly feel like it is too much, there are too many people," Anakin continued.
"You chose this," Obi-Wan reminded him.
"I'd choose it again, even if it is madness," Anakin told him with a smile and then the smile faded. "I don't know how I'll handle it if I lost her again, I faced losing Padmé but there was always the hope that she'll return to keep me going, but what if my mother doesn't have hope? I told you what I did the last time," he confessed.
"Are you worried that you'll lash out on the doctors?" Obi-Wan asked.
"No," Anakin told him. "I think, speaking to you and Yoda kinda eased my dark side some. Besides I had Palpatine whispering in my ear then."
"That you did," Obi-Wan agreed. "I think that you should cross each bridge as they come up, don't worry too much about 'what if's until you get there," he suggested.
Anakin took a deep breath. "You're right of course," he said. "and I think it is time for us to go back in," he added.
"Must we?" Obi-Wan asked good naturally. As they walked in he added. "I don't think your sister likes me, the whole trip here she gave me these dirty looks," he pointed out.
Anakin laughed. "There were some times when I wasn't sure I liked you either," he disclosed.
"I'm a very likable person," Obi-Wan defended himself.
Anakin just laughed as they entered the house.
Selona thirty-four Seventh Hour
Naboo: Theed: Theed Intermediate University.
Luke and Leia Skywalker were busy early in the morning putting up flyers with pictures and a poem about "Zora Kinkerson, the Dirt Sprite" all over school early before everyone else arrived. Their father didn't question their leaving the house early because today was the day their grandmother was seeing the doctor. So they considered themselves lucky and thought they werre going to get away with it.
"That's all of them," Sebastien said as he, Sabrina and Janren walked up.
"All over the school?" Luke asked.
"Yes," Sabrina answered.
"I think we covered the entire school now," Janren said.
"Excellent," Leia said, pleased with her plan. "Soon the school will see perfect little Zora covered in mud," she said.
With Anakin and Arica's efforts combined, they were able to pull some strings for one of the galaxies most renowned doctors to treat their mother. Dr. Ezik Tatsuo was a Kiffar from a minor clan, but was the best in the field of medicine. He had a reputation of diagnosing and healing even the most trickiest and confounding ailments. The exam room seemed to be crowded with Shmi being in it, sitting on the exam table and Anakin, Arica and Archi standing around.
"You all don't have to be in here with me," Shmi told them.
"That is nonsense," Archi said with finality.
"We're not going anywhere," Anakin told her.
"Anakin is right, we're not going anywhere," Arica confirmed.
Shmi sighed but offered no more protests. It was then that to doctor walked in wearing the typical scrubs of a doctor. His black dreadlocks were tied back and his swarthy skin was only marred on his face by the yellow triangle tattooed across his face over his right eye . He looked up and took in the surrounding family members around Shmi.
"I see the gang is all here," Dr. Ezik Tatsuo said and walked over to Shmi, "I have reviewed your medical history, you didn't get treated for much during your adult life I take it."
"Tatooine isn't the most medically advanced planet," Shmi said.
"Agreed," Tatsuo said. "Your chart said that you were feeling some abdominal pain, nausea, excessive diarrhea, loss of appetite, itching, weakness, and among other things I notice by looking at you that you have some weight loss and your skin is starting to yellow. As I understand, this has been going on for three years and is getting worse," he said, getting down to business.
"Yes," Shmi agreed.
"Well, judging from your symptoms and your description of them, I want to run some tests to know what we're dealing with before I begin anything. I want to have some diagnostic tests done first, blood tests, stool samples, urine samples, I'll take your blood pressure, listen to your lungs to see if they are healthy, the basic doctor visit stuff and then we'll follow by computed tomography scans, magnetic Resonance imaging scans, ultrasound scans, and positron emission tomography scans. Your symptoms could mean a number of things but your children each expressed their concern which makes me want to be through," Dr. Tatsuo told her. "When would you like to begin?"
Before Shmi could speak Anakin answered for her. "I think right away would be best," he said.
"Well, we can preform all these tests here in this facility today, the results may take a week or two to come in," Tatsuo said.
"The sooner the better," Arica told him.
Tatsuo nodded before he set about to start the tests.
Selona thirty-four: Eighth Hour
Naboo: Theed: Theed Intermediate University.
Luke, Leia, Sabrina, Sebastien, and Janren were at their lockcabinets when they heard the shirking and they grinned and smiled at each other. "Operation takedown, complete," Sebastien said evilly as the whole school erupted in laughter.
Leia smiled as she grabbed her notes and the correct datapads for her next two classes, Luke and Janren quietly talked with Sabrina in pretense of seeming to be not interested. A hand appeared next to Leia's lockcabinet and she tuened to see Sebastien leaning against the lockcabinet next to hers, looking at her through hooded eyes, his dark hair falling into his eyes. "You know there's a talent show coming up in a few weeks, did you sign up?" he asked.
"I had to, it was mandatory for Rosenberg's class, remember?" Leia reminded him.
Sebastien ran a hand through his hair, making it unruly but not damaging his looks. "Yeah, I remember. What are you doing for it?" he asked.
"Not sure yet," Leia answered and she picked out a stylus.
The crowd of students laughing around them was pushed aside when Zora Kinkerson and her friends pushed their way through, red in the face. "You!" Zora shouted pointing a finger at Leia who looked up, her expression betraying nothing.
"What do you want, Kinkerson?" Leia asked mildly as she leaned back against her lockcabinet.
"You put these all over the school!" Zora shouted throwing one of the fliers that was posted all around the school at her.
Leia briefly glanced at it and shrugged. "At least it's more dignified that the fliers you've been posting," she said.
If it was even more possibly, Zora's face grew even redder as she stepped up to Leia, invading her personal space, staring her down. "You'll pay for this," she threatened befoe walking away.
"Ooooh, I'm so scared!" Leia called back sarcastically and continued what she was doing, ignoring the numerous stares her fellow students were giving her.
Selona thirty-three: Fourteenth Hour.
Naboo: Theed: Skywalker home.
Arica was grateful for a moment alone with her mother. Anakin and Padmé had been called down to Luke and Leia's school by their headmaster over an indecent regarding holos and fliers. Arica could only guess at that one. Shmi for her part refused to lay in bed despite how tired she was, instead she browsed Padmé's collection of holobooks, most of them political but other were fiction. Arica was acutely aware of her mother's dependency on the cane she used.
"I don't suppose any of these are Anakin's," Shmi noted.
"About the only thing Anakin reads are tech manuals and 'zines. He has them stored in his workroom," Arica answered.
Shmi smiled, "I figured as much," she agreed and turned to her. "What abut you? Ani tells me you're a senator now, is your collection like Padmé's?" she asked.
"I don't have much time to read anything but bills put before the Senate," Arica told her and sat down with her. She was unsure if she should tell her about Elysa but decided to tell her later after she talked to Elysa.
"But you get vacation time, don't you?" Shmi asked.
"I try, I have an assistant who is ready to take over when I need him to, but with the way things are, I'd rather be there, just to be sure," Arica told her.
Shmi nodded in understanding and took her hand in hers. "I've missed you," she admitted.
Arica leaned closer to her mother and leaned her cheek on Shmi's shoulder. "It's been so hard without you," she admitted softly.
Shmi smoothed down Arica's hair. "I know," she told her, having no doubt of what she must have gone through.
Selona thirty-four: Fourteenth Hour.
Naboo: Theed: Theed Intermediate University.
Leia reviewed her datapad as she waited outside her headmaster's office. She knew the minute she was called out of class what this was about. It seemed that she would take the fall for what she, Luke, and their friends had done. But she wouldn't name them even if they would disagree. Her head shot up though when she sensed her parents arriving and she braced herself. She had gone back to her datapad by the time they walked into the room.
"There she is," Padmé said.
Leia chanced a look at them and she knew that she was in trouble by the look in her father's eyes. He didn't outwardly show it, but she and Luke were always able to tell by the looks in his eyes. Before she could say anything, the headmaster opened his office door.
"Miss Skywalker, you and your parents can come in now," The headmaster, Mr. Gelado, said.
Leia put her datapad away and stood, following her parents in the room, she took a seat beside her mother while her father stood behind her with his arms crossed. Leia knew that the effect was for her but she refused to give a pretence of being contrite. Instead, she squared her shoulders and stared straight ahead.
"I called you in here because we had a little incident this morning," Mr. Gelado said, addressing Anakin and Padmé. He pulled out one the fliers and handed it to Padmé who looked over it and then to Anakin and gave Leia a shharp look. "I thought I took the holocams you took these with away," he demanded.
"I found them in the same drawer in your workroom that you always hide things in," Leia told him, seeing no use in hiding what she had done.
"Miss Kinkerson and her friends are quite distraught over this little stunt," Mr. Gelado said.
Leia snorted. "I'll bet," she said. "You know it serves them right for the holos they spread through school, the ones of the girls getting changed in the changing rooms for phys ed," she pointed out.
"Miss Kinkerson is an upstanding student in this school, her schedule simply does not permit for such antics. She is an excellent model for her class," Mr. Gelado countered.
Leia crossed her arms and muttered furiously under her breath as she slumped in her chair, but the word 'sell out' was clear.
Anakin nudged her shoulder, "Sit up straight," he commanded. Leia complied, seeing no reason to make matters worse.
"I've thought about what Leia's punishment should be and have come up with a week's suspension from school and a month of serving under the maintenance crew. I have noticed Leia's knack for mechanics and engineering and decided that her skills would be of use to the maintenance department, fixing terminals and other parts of the school that relies of electrical currents and wiring," Mr. Gelado informed them.
"That sounds reasonable," Padmé agreed.
"And we will be having a talk with Leia over her behavior," Anakin added and by his tone, Leia knew there would be more than talking. He then looked at his daughter, "Collect your assignments from your teachers for the days you are suspended," he told her.
"Yes, Sir," Leia said as she stood to do as she was told.
Mr. Gelado raised an eyebrow. "I'm impressed, I don't see much of children obeying their parents," he noted.
"My children know when I mean business," Anakin told him.
Padmé stood then. "Thank you for bringing this to our attention," she said.
"I hope that Leia doesn't repeat this offense," Mr. Gelado said as he too rose and shook their hands.