TITLE: To Serve in Heaven
Obi-Wan cocks his head to the side, looking at Anakin intently as Anakin, Padmé and Typho greet the two Jedi in the foyer. "Anakin Skywalker?" he asks with a smile.
"Yes, Master Kenobi," Anakin replies, several degrees cooler than Obi-Wan.
"Ah, so good to see you," Obi-Wan replies jovially, grasping Anakin's hand in greeting. "I didn't realize you were part of Senator Amidala's security detail."
"It's a temporary arrangement," Typho interjects quickly. Padmé assumes he must be feeling overprotective of his protégé. "At the Chancellor's request. Anakin was granted emergency leave from his post with the Republic's Navy."
Obi-Wan's eyebrows shoot up, but he says nothing. He turns and smiles at Padmé. "It seems we're all concerned about your safety, Senator."
"I appreciate the sentiment, Master Kenobi," Padmé replies, "but I feel the Jedi presence here is unnecessary." She looks pointedly at Typho who meets her gaze unapologetically.
"The Chancellor obviously does not agree with your assessment, Senator," Typho offers.
"The Jedi Council, too, believes you need additional protection," Obi-Wan adds.
"She doesn't need Jedi protection," Anakin counters. "We are more than capable of protecting Senator Amidala. What she needs is the Jedi to track down Count Dooku and bring him to justice. Only that will stop these attacks."
Obi-Wan scoffs. "I'm afraid it's not possible that Count Dooku is involved in the attacks on Senator Amidala's life. Never forget, he used to be a Jedi."
"We're well aware he used to be a Jedi," Anakin counters dryly.
Obi-Wan frowns. "Senator Amidala, I was instructed by the Council to protect you, not start an investigation."
Anakin opens his mouth, no doubt to argue, but Padmé cuts him off. "Please, let's all have a seat and continue this discussion civilly."
"Of course," Obi-Wan says, grateful to delay the hostilities.
He and the second Jedi, his Padawan, Padmé supposes, follow her into the living room and take seats. Padmé sits on the couch and Anakin sits next to her, his body tense. Obi-Wan takes a chair opposite as does his Padawan, a female Mirialan with deep blue eyes and distinctive tattoos across her cheeks and the bridge of her nose.
"Forgive me," Obi-Wan says, "this is Padawan Barriss Offee."
"Your apprentice?" Padmé asks Obi-Wan while nodding in acknowledgement to Barriss.
"Actually, Barriss is apprenticed to Jedi Master Luminara Unduli."
"It's good to make your acquaintance, Padawan Offee," Padmé says in greeting.
Barriss nods in reply.
"Back to our discussion," Anakin says abruptly, staring at Obi-Wan. "Investigation is implied in the Jedi mandate. If you're not here to track down Dooku, you're of no use to us."
"Anakin," Typho says quietly, but firmly.
"No, dammit," Anakin continues. "I will not hold my tongue. The Jedi are so accustomed to everyone swooning in their presence that they expect these feeble excuses to pacify us. The Chancellor obviously believes there is an imminent mortal threat to Senator Amidala. The Jedi Council agrees, yet these Jedi come here and tell us they intend to resolve nothing. It's absurd."
"Anakin, I don't believe Master Kenobi intended any insult," Padmé counters, turning to face him.
As soon as she looks at him, she knows he will not soon forget this exchange. She can see his jaw muscles flex, see him fighting to remain calm. No doubt she has deeply offended him by defending Obi-Wan's actions. Yet, it had to be said. She knows Anakin has a long, sometimes bitter, history with the Jedi Order and she knows how difficult it is for him to remain impartial in his dealings with them.
"Perhaps Anakin is right, Senator," Obi-Wan offers quietly. "Perhaps there is more intended for us here than simple protection."
"You're angry with me."
"No I'm not."
She sighs and looks at him. "Anakin, do me a favor and never consider a career in politics. You're not made for it."
"Because I'm not adept at lying?" he counters crossly.
She frowns. "Because you betray yourself with every word and every action."
He snorts, turning away to stare out the window. Padmé crosses her arms over her chest and glares at him. He pretends not to notice.
"You're not staying in here, Anakin. This is my bedroom."
He replies without turning to face her. "And I'm your bodyguard at the Chancellor's request."
"You can guard my body quite sufficiently from the living room with Obi-Wan and Barriss."
He shudders slightly and says in a near whisper, "I don't like being near others."
"Others?" she asks, venturing closer.
He looks over at her. "Force users."
She studies him for a moment, watching the light from the window play across his face as he turns back to stare out at the traffic lanes. The hour is late and there is only a small lamp providing illumination in her bedroom, but the enormous billboards and traffic provide ample light. "I thought when you didn't join the Order that you abandoned those abilities."
Shrugging, he looks over at her again. "It's part of who I am. I can't abandon it."
Stepping closer, she looks at him, holding his gaze. "What's it like being around them?"
He looks away, fidgeting uncomfortably. "Like being around someone who knows you too well, but who is also a stranger."
"Ah," Padmé says. He turns and looks at her and she smiles. "It's like how I feel being around you."
He smiles, but it's not a light-hearted expression, though there is a certain wolfish joy to it. "I certainly hope not," he says. "Because I damn sure don't want to know either of those Jedi the way I want to know you."
She blushes and turns away. It's late. While necessity has somewhat inured her to the presence of security personnel, none of them have ever succeeded in provoking her to the extent (or, if she's honest, in the same manner) as Anakin. This is a situation where she is a Senator and he is her bodyguard. It's commonplace and innocent. But it doesn't feel that way. It feels … scandalous. It feels like she's a woman and he's a man. A man who seems to want to make no pretense of his attraction to her.
She's a Senator and as such, is usually afforded a great deal of respect. Anakin respects her, she knows that. But unlike most other people, he doesn't treat her as if she is interchangeable with her office. He never fails to make her feel like a woman – to make her feel desirable, even when that feeling is decidedly uncomfortable.
She pushes these thoughts away. These are not things she can afford to be thinking. Especially not now.
"You already know me, Anakin," she says abruptly. "You've known me for years."
"Not well enough."
She looks at him and frowns. "You need to leave. I need to change for bed."
The look he gives her is unmistakably predatory. "Go ahead and change. Your dad can't send me away this time."
She cocks her head at him. "What?"
He smirks. "You didn't know?" When she shakes her head, he laughs. "That's how my illustrious naval career started. When you returned to your parents home after you stepped down as Queen but before your Senatorial career … He caught me peeking in your bedroom window. The next morning, I was in the Naval Academy."
Her jaw drops and she stares at him. "My father sent you away for spying on me?"
He shrugs. "Well, he was fair about it," he admits. "He gave me a choice. I could stop watching you, or I could leave."
She grimaces and gives him a pained look. "And it was worth it to you to leave?"
He smiles. "I wasn't going to stop looking. I was thirteen."
"It's so nice to see that you've matured," she says wearily.
He rakes his gaze over her body. "You too," he says with a wink.
"Oh … my … " she makes a strangled noise and grabs one of the pillows off her bed and throws it at him. "Get out of here right now!"
He laughs, but grudgingly complies. "Sleep well, Senator."