TITLE: To Serve in Heaven
SPOILERS: First half of TPM
DISCLAIMER: Characters and universe respectfully borrowed from George Lucas. No profit is gained from this work.
CHARACTERS: Anakin Skywalker, Padme Naberrie, Typho, Obi-Wan
TIMELINE: approximately same time period as Attack of the Clones, but alternate timeline
Acrid smoke burns her eyes as she cradles Cordé's lifeless form close. Yet another life lost. It's all so pointless and unfair. Cordé was so young. It's such a waste.
"You did your job. Cordé did hers. We need to leave now."
Padmé looks up through tears at the grim set of Anakin's jaw. Next to him, Typho clearly agrees with his protégé.
Reluctantly, she nods, taking the hand Anakin offers and rising to her feet. Padmé looks back at Cordé's body one last time and then focuses her attention on doing as directed by her security detail. She follows Typho, her vision flitting from side to side as they enter the hangar. It's unlikely that a second attempt on her life will be made so soon, but not impossible.
Anakin is directly behind her, one hand at the small of her back, his fingertips barely touching her. His other hand is clenched tightly around his blaster. Moments later they are in a shuttle with Anakin behind the controls.
Anakin guides the shuttle gracefully through the high traffic air lanes. Padmé feels safe and she knows that is foolish. She may never be safe again.
He is unhappy. Ironically, she is relieved to see some things never change. Anakin was never adept at hiding his displeasure.
When Anakin arrived on Naboo two weeks ago, she was overwhelmed with how the young boy she knew had matured into an unsettlingly handsome young man. Anakin the man is far different from Anakin the boy. He is quieter, more solitary. He is slower to smile and laugh. Yet as she watches him pace the length of her living room with his long, even strides, she cannot help but be reminded of how Anakin the boy used to pace the hallways of the Naberrie household like a caged beast on those few days when weather or circumstance kept him confined indoors. Anakin Skywalker was never meant to be confined by anything.
Padmé leans against the doorjamb, watching him silently. He stops pacing and stares out the window. Absently, he bites down on his lower lip, an oddly immature gesture that tugs at Padmé's heartstrings.
"Do you disagree with Captain Typho's decision to consult the Jedi?" she asks.
He startles, visibly upset she was watching unbeknownst to him. He clasps his hands tightly behind his back, puffing out his chest and rising to his full height.
Padmé smiles. The trappings of a man.
She steps closer and he unconsciously steps back, maintaining the distance between them. It wounds Padmé slightly. For many years, Anakin lived in the Naberrie household – along with his mother, Shmi. Padmé has always been a bit jealous of that. For many years, he was closer to her parents than she was herself.
On Padmé's rare trips home during her terms as Queen, Anakin was her constant shadow. While he was annoying at times, she was genuinely fond of the boy and missed his companionship when she resumed her official duties.
Those official duties, however, did finally come to an end. Unsure of her next steps, weighing a life in academia with the idea of making a run for the Senate seat, Padmé returned to her childhood home and was welcomed in by both her parents and the Skywalkers. Anakin, by then, was thirteen and much more a brooding teen than a precocious child. He had this unnerving way of watching Padmé. And then, literally overnight, he disappeared. Padmé's father, Ruwee, later informed her Captain Typho was able to secure Anakin admittance to the Naval Academy on Coruscant, with the help of Chancellor Palpatine. Since that day, she has seen Anakin rarely. It is not often he is able to make the trip from the Core to spend holidays with his mother, who still lives with the Naberries. And though they both spend the majority of their time on Coruscant, their paths do not cross.
Anakin is barely twenty, yet he has made quite a name for himself as a pilot. Padmé knows his skills are in high demand. She assumes it was a personal request from Gregar Typho, Anakin's long time mentor, that brought Anakin back to Naboo. Outfitted in the uniform of the Royal Naboo Security Forces, Padmé reluctantly admits to herself that Anakin looks quite dashing. The leather tunic is pulled tight across his chest, accentuating that though she may think of him fondly as a little boy, he is physically a man. His shirt and pants are a dark brown the same color as his boots. His hair is too long, but Padmé think it lends him a roguish charm.
"I am certain the Jedi will offer many insights," Anakin replies carefully.
Padmé gives him a wry smile, noting he did not correct her earlier statement. "Is it difficult for you?" she asks quietly. "To be around the Jedi, I mean."
He looks at the ground and then angles his eyes back up at her, smiling. "No, Senator," he says. "I was not meant to be a Jedi."
She watches him closely. "That isn't what Master Jinn thought," she says. "Nor Obi-Wan."
Anakin turns away, shrugging. "Joining the Jedi Order would have meant abandoning my mother on Tatooine, pledging myself to a life free from personal attachment."
Silence hangs in the air for several moments and he eventually turns back to face her.
"Do you have many personal attachments?" she asks, shocked to hear the words issuing from her lips. What is she doing engaging in such a discussion with him?
He smiles, easily reading her unease, taking the opportunity to go on the offensive. "Are you asking me if I have someone in my life, Senator?" he asks, grinning broadly.
She swallows thickly, trying to muster bravado. "Yes, I suppose so."
His smile eventually fades and he shakes his head. "No."
She can almost feel his spirit withdraw, his earlier levity gone. He watches her with unreadable eyes.
Padmé hears someone behind her and turns to face Typho.
"Senator, the Jedi have arrived."