Well, here it is, the final chapter of the "Corellia" 'fic. Thank you to everyone who has followed along. The whole experience was a lot of fun; we'll have to do this again next summer, or something similar.
Also, to answer any pre-emptive questions about a sequel: No, we do not have any plans or interest in writing one. We do have other stories published that follow a similar universe, however - for my co-writer's sole projects, feel free to browse my "Favorite Authors" list for Diena Taylor. Our characters tend to be most influenced heavily by Jude Watson's "Jedi Apprentice"/"Jedi Quest"/"Last of the Jedi" books, as well as Dave Filoni's vision of the Star Wars universe in the new "Clone Wars" cartoon. We like the EU and tend to base both our 'fics and our roleplaying plots and characters off of details gleaned from it. Also, we have a hefty list of still more stuff to write for Star Wars fandom. Basically, we'll be back, just not specifically in the "Corellia" timeline. Anyway, without further ado ...
Summary: A run-of-the-mill weekend excursion on the pleasure planet of Corellia results in consequences far more dire than Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Ahsoka Tano anticipate when Obi-Wan ends up married to Asajj Ventress. Chapter Ten: On the night of the Senatorial Ball, all stops will be pulled out. Written with D. Rated PG-13.
What Happens on Corellia
Chapter Ten: Dancing For My Life
The Senate banquet hall was completely decked out with the kind of ostentatious elegance reserved only for the super-rich and highly powerful. Serving 'droids weaved their way through the crowds of formal-garbed party-goers, brandishing trays of hors d'oeuvres and drinks.
Anakin stopped short at the threshold, causing Ahsoka, who had been trailing him, to crash squarely into his back. "Watch it, Snips," he said sharply, to which she simply sighed. After a long moment of peering over the crowd, during which time a small group had formed behind him trying to jostle its way collectively through the door, he spotted her. "Go have fun," he instructed Ahsoka, and jogged to where Padme was standing by the buffet table, wine glass in her manicured hand.
"Hey," he said once he reached her, suddenly feeling awkward. It felt strange that he'd been on Coruscant for nearly six months and had only seen his wife once. They were usually much better at utilizing his time spent on-planet.
Padme looked up, then away. "Oh," she said. "Hello, Ani." Her free hand toyed with her necklace. "I'm glad you could make it."
She didn't sound particularly glad, Anakin thought, but he decided not to call her on it. He spent precious little time with her as it was, anyway. "Haven't seen you in a while," he said instead. "I'd thought since I was on-planet that we'd..."
"I've been really busy," Padme said quickly and Anakin couldn't help feeling slightly stung. "My mother and sister came to visit, on top of a whole mess of legislation I'm trying to get passed, and I've been a little overwhelmed." Then she launched into a long tirade about her sister Sola, during which Anakin found himself zoning out and eating an entire tray full of little pieces of meat wrapped in other pieces of meat on toothpicks, nodding and "uh-huhing" at appropriate intervals.
"My mother keeps asking me why I haven't settled down with a nice man and had children like my stupid sister," Padme griped, snatching another wine glass from a passing 'droid. "I keep telling her there are no nice men on Coruscant, and Sola was pregnant for months before she got married, which, according to Naboo tradition, makes her a little skanky."
"Don't you think you can trust your parents enough to tell them the truth?" Anakin asked, shoving a cracker topped with what he strongly suspected with still-living sea life into his mouth.
Padme gave him a dirty look. "And then I'll get to spend the rest of my life being hassled about not telling them sooner," she said, draining her glass and replacing it with another. "I'm so glad I only have to deal with *my* parents," she informed him.
Anakin blinked at her. "What's that supposed to mean?" he asked.
Padme sighed in annoyance. "Nothing," she said. "I didn't mean anything by it. Don't be so sensitive, Ani!"
Frowning deeply, Anakin grabbed Padme by the elbow and led her to a more private area. "You just basically said you were glad my mother is dead," he hissed at her.
"No I did not!" Padme replied sharply. "I was just saying I was glad that we don't have two sets of parents stressing us out!"
"Which implies you're glad she's dead," Anakin responded, his voice measured. Part of him knew he was overreacting, but he couldn't help it. He'd hoped his reuniting with Padme - at a really good party, no less - would be fun, but he hadn't had one bit of fun since he'd gotten here.
"You are overreacting, as usual," Padme proclaimed.
Anakin snorted. "Oh, I'm overreacting?" he bit out. "You're the one who acts SO put upon just because your family cares about you. That's so HARD. What a saint." Faintly, he wondered whether it had been a good idea to 'warm up' on shots at a rickety tavern prior to the party. His tongue seemed looser than normal; judging by Padme's bulging eyes, he wasn't the only one to notice.
Across the room, Obi-Wan, who had entered at a different time and door than Anakin, dutifully made his rounds with Ventress in tow. Though sullen, Ahsoka had dropped off an outfit for the assassin to wear that she'd found on her own shopping excursion. Obi-Wan had goggled at Ventress when she'd stomped out of the 'fresher. Sleek and dark purple, it clung to her slim frame; there were slits up the sides and an artsy tear in the fabric's bust; already, Ventress had smirked meanly at him for being preoccupied by her breasts.
The pair was intercepted by Bail Organa and Breha. Bail was dressed in rich-looking royal Alderaanian garb, complete with a cape; Breha looked dreamy, yet aristocratic, her hair done up in an immaculate spectacle that rivaled the 'do Obi-Wan had seen Padme sporting. He knew Senator Amidala had impressed upon Ahsoka the importance of dressing up; he'd resisted and worn some of his less-ragged Jedi clothing, and now realized that this set him apart. Normally, it did not bother him to be around wealth - he found it dull, but was not intimidated by the rich. Still, he sensed that Ventress was noting and judging his behavior, and it exacerbated how out of place he felt. It shouldn't have bothered him; he didn't exactly know WHY it was even a sticking point, what Ventress thought, but there it was.
"Obi-Wan!" Bail's appreciation for him, at least, was sincere. "How nice to see you."
Obi-Wan gave Bail a grateful smile. He hadn't been able to speak to his friend - or anyone outside the Temple at all, in fact - in some time, and it was a relief to know that he wasn't going to have to make uncomfortable small-talk with politicians he didn't know all night. "A pleasure, Bail," he replied, and bowed politely to Breha. "You're looking lovely, Your Highness," he told her.
Breha, though, was not paying him any attention. Instead, she was fixated on Ventress. More specifically, she was fixated on Ventress' midsection. "Such a joyous time," she said breathily. "Take care your bun doesn't burn."
Bail looked suitably mortified, and Ventress scowled. "*What*?" she snapped, and Obi-Wan resisted the urge to correct her tone.
"Forgive me," Bail said quickly, taking Breha's arm. "She no longer allows me to put her medication in her food, so..." Obi-Wan briefly wondered if food-drugging was the answer to his problems with both Ventress and Anakin, then pushed it out of his mind.
"No worries," he replied instead. "It's a lovely party, isn't it?" As Bail allowed him to change the subject to more coherent topics, Ventress and Breha continued to stare at each other.
"This is ridiculous," Mace Windu scowled, looking around at the decadent scene before him. "We're at war and all these people care about is maintaining their wealth." He looked down at Yoda, who was dressed in his best robes, a small ceramic bantha wearing a top hat clutched in his claws. "Well?" Windu said, after the small, green creature stayed silent. "Doesn't it bother you?"
"Mmm," Yoda said noncommittally. "Likes the music, Steve does." He wiggled the bantha figure's little hat. Scowling, Windu stomped towards the nearest refreshments table, swiping a glass of something dark and downing it in two gulps. Across the table a ways, he saw Skywalker, who seemed to be pouting at the Naboo Senator he spent way too much time around for it not to be suspicious. Windu narrowed his eyes. He'd hardly forgotten over the past half a year that Skywalker had had perhaps the best chance at keeping a clear head during the whole mess with Kenobi and Ventress, and had succeeded at doing the exact opposite at every turn. If it had been up to him, the kid would never have become a Jedi.
"Master Windu! How wonderful to see you." Speak of the devil. Windu pinched the bridge of his nose and groaned, and then straightened slightly as Chancellor Palpatine came closer. The man had only just begun his now unusually long term in his current office when Anakin had first come to the Temple, and could hardly be blamed for the fact that he was still there. And yet, it annoyed Windu when the Senator-cum-Supreme Chancellor made himself a too-prevalent feature in Jedi affairs, and it was never more obvious than when Anakin was concerned, at least these days.
Palpatine's wilted hand on his shoulder was clammy, yet surprisingly strong. "Welcome, Chancellor," Windu said curtly, teeth gritted.
"A lovely affair, don't you think?" Palpatine asked, smarmily, and Windu had to swallow his ire. "It's always nice to be able to forget our troubles, even if just for a short time."
"I would better be able to forget our troubles if the war were over," Windu grunted, looking furtively around the room for an excuse to leave the conversation.
"Of course," Palpatine replied. "But I have faith that your Order will soon set the galaxy right again."
Sighing, Windu nodded. "It is our hope," he agreed, then spotted Kit Fisto's arrival. "If you'll excuse me, Chancellor," he said, walking away before the old man could respond.
"Maybe you should slow down on the snacks, Ani," Padme said critically, peering at him over the rim of her glass. "You haven't been able to work out as much as usual, you know."
She couldn't believe she was still standing here talking to him, really. Unfortunately, Bail Organa was still caught up in conversation with Obi-Wan, and she couldn't find Ahsoka in the bustling crowd. That left her with the one option, not that Anakin was going to let her go easily anyway.
"So now I'm fat," Anakin grunted. "Wizard. I'm really glad I didn't marry somebody hung up on looks." He searched around for a serving 'droid, snatching up two glasses of something Padme wouldn't touch if she'd had a blaster held to her head.
"I don't want that," she informed him, gesturing to her wine. "I'm fine."
Scowling, Anakin knocked back both drinks in quick succession. "Who said I got them for you?" he snapped. "Besides, I think you've had enough wine for both of us."
He might have been right, but Padme wasn't about to be lectured by someone whose own habits were highly suspect. "How else am I supposed to endure this insipid conversation?" She couldn't help laughing as Anakin pouted anew. "Why don't you go entertain yourself, Ani?" she suggested. "It's probably best if we're not seen together too much."
"Yeah," Anakin snarled. "Wouldn't want anyone to think we're *married* or anything."
Padme frowned at him, her eyes bleary. "Well, Ani, we really DON'T," she told him point-blank. "It's kind of a big deal that we keep it a secret."
"You'd like that, wouldn't you?" He'd reached the point where he wasn't even sure why he was arguing anymore; at the same time, he was too immersed in his own ego to simply step off. He snuffled and turned away rudely. "Maybe you'd just like to not be around me at all."
"Anakin, that's ridiculous," Padme scoffed. She held out her glass to a passing 'droid to be topped off for the umpteenth time. "You're just, you're ridiculous."
"'m not," Anakin muttered, his back turned. He was buzzed himself, now, the alcohol making his spine feel fuzzy and his lips a little numb. He decided he didn't want to argue anymore. "You're ... pretty," he said to his wife, spinning around too quickly and then lurching forward as it threw off his vertigo. "I like your dress."
Padme seemed wary, one hand poised on her hip. "You're ... weird, Ani," she frowned. She fanned herself a little. "It's hot in here," she murmured. She was about to excuse herself for some fresh air when Ahsoka came bounding over, looking exuberant in the filmy, blue shimmersilk gown her and Padme had picked out together. "Hi, Senator!" she chirped, and then in a less excited tone, "Master."
"Heya, Snips," Anakin intoned, and then belched. The air smelled faintly of lunch meats after that. Ahsoka just blinked; Padme, inhibitions down, waved her hand rapidly in front of her face and glared.
"You're weird and *gross*," Padme informed him, and turned to Ahsoka, moving her body in such a way that completely excluded Anakin from the conversation. "Hi, sweetie," she said, swaying slightly. "You look very pretty this evening."
Ahsoka smiled at the compliment. "You do too, Senator," she said.
"Don't I look pretty?" Anakin asked, trying to push himself between Ahsoka and Padme.
Padme huffed a sigh and elbowed him aside. She was completely not in the mood to cater to Anakin's odd manifestations of narcissism tonight, and was just tipsy enough to make the point very clear. Or as clear as anything ever was for her husband, at least.
"I'm so glad I was invited," Ahsoka continued, and Padme let her prattle away about all the people she'd met so far, shooting daggers at Anakin over the Togruta's head.
"So, uh, I'm gonna go," Anakin said, gesturing over his shoulder towards the bar. "I'm gonna go talk to the Chancellor or something, so, uh, I guess I'll catch you later." Throughout his fumbling attempt at a goodbye, Ahsoka talked over him. Padme couldn't have been more grateful.
A couple of hours passed. Anakin had long stopped avidly participating in conversation, and was now in a corner, inconspicuously huffing something out of a bag that he'd picked up in the Orange District for the occasion. At one point, Ahsoka stood over him, frowning disapprovingly. She sounded and looked like an orange version of Obi-Wan, and had left in a huff, hands balled into (orange) fists, when Anakin told her as much.
Master Yoda was dancing in a slow semi-circle to a rowdy song with Steve the bantha, whose top hat seems to have been misplaced. Ventress stood with a reluctant-looking Obi-Wan at one of the food tables, shoveling refreshments into her mouth. "I have to pee," she announced abruptly to a small cluster of people, and Obi-Wan groaned, wondering if he should apologize, and then deciding that she wasn't his Padawan.
In another corner of the banquet hall, Padme stood - wobbled - near Bail and Breha, who smiled indulgently at her. "What are you going to name it?" she asked hazily. Padme clutched her oft-refilled wine goblet a little too tightly and let out a sharp peal of laughter.
Bail grimaced. "Honey, remember what we talked about; it's not nice to tell people they look pregnant."
"Hey, 'f you've got somethin' to say to ... me, then jus' ... s-say it," Padme erupted. She nearly fell forward trying to shove her finger dramatically in Bail's face; un-phased, he grabbed her gently by the shoulders to steady her before she toppled. "Don' touch me!" she yelled. "That's what the ... the p-problem is, how you get in t-trouble, the touchin'."
Breha giggled inappropriately. "And baby makes three!" she chimed in. Then she grabbed her husband by the lapels and chanted it like a mantra: "Baby makes three, baby makes th-"
"Yes, yes, honey. Let's leave Senator Amidala alone for a while," Bail implored, nearly dragging Breha away from Padme, who glowered.
"I'm n-not pregnant, you ... h-HARPY!"
"Baby makes three!" Breha clapped her hands gleefully. Bail cast a glance across the room at Obi-Wan, who seemed suddenly concerned with his chrono. In spite of himself, Bail felt relieved; at least he knew someone else was having as miserable a time as he was.
Ventress hadn't been lying when she'd said she needed to pee, but she had ulterior motives for extracting herself from the torturously boring conversation. The entire affair had been horribly dull for the most part, though her proximity to Palpatine made this particular task much, much easier.
Her Grand-Master had been able to transmit the location of her Force-suppressor and had been able to use his own considerable power to neutralize the danger it posed during a removal attempt. She'd been informed, in no uncertain terms, that she was to escape tonight, which meant a little bit of home surgery in the public 'fresher.
Entering the expansive 'fresher, Ventress allowed herself to glance at the array of complimentary, travel-sized bottles of lotions and perfumes lining the marble countertop. "Bureaucrats," she muttered, her lip curled in disgust. Still, her eyes slid over several of the labels. Eventually, she plucked a small, light purple container up in her long nails. Facetiously, she noticed it because it matched her dress. With a shrug, Ventress dumped out some of the fragrance in her palm, and then rubbed her hands together, before rubbing them along her tattooed skull. "Lavender, you get on my head," she muttered.
Eventually, the assassin secreted herself in the stall furthest from the door and got to work. Ventress pulled off her dress and slid the scalpel she'd stolen from the Healer's during the last recalibration from where it was snuggled between her garter and her leg. Ventress was no stranger to pain, but she couldn't help letting out a groan of agony as she slid the blade into the flesh of her lower back.
A quick cut and then she shoved her fingers into the wound, groping around for the chip, hoping she'd gone deep enough. Grunting, she positioned herself over the toilet bowl so most of the blood was contained.
She thought she nearly had it when the 'fresher door slammed open and unsteady footfalls hurried across the tiled floor. She decided to ignore it and moaned again as her fingers brushed the chip.
"You too, huh?" a wavering voice said from the other side of the stall door. Ventress bent slightly to see underneath the door and saw a pair of shoes she remembered that Amidala woman wearing. "S'bad seafood or somethin'," she continued as Ventress scrambled to get a good grip on the chip. Through the pounding of blood in her ears, Ventress heard her say, "My stupid husban' ate, like, thirty of 'em, but don't tell anyone he's my..." Then there was a burp and a heave and the unmistakable sound of vomit hitting porcelain.
Ventress used the noise to cover the sound of the final tug of the chip, which gave way with a tearing sound and searing pain. She managed to accomplish it with little more than a hiss and another low moan that was well-masked by Amidala's retching. She flushed the toilet and wet a handful of 'fresher flimsi to mop herself off with, packing the wound with bacta-infused gauze that she'd hidden in her small handbag and covering it with a bacta patch. The feel of the Force again was ... intense. It nearly doubled her over. Briefly, Ventress allowed herself a moment to become accustomed anew to the feel of its energy swirling around her, comforting, like a soft blanket.
Finally, and moving with only a little bit of care, Ventress pushed the stall door open and, stepping around the Senator clinging to a vomit-filled sink, went back to the party. Despite the fact that she wanted nothing more than to curl up and nurse her wound(s - oddly, her breasts had been particularly sensitive as of late, as well; it annoyed her), she knew Obi-Wan would be suspicious if she were away too long. Begrudgingly, she made her way back over to his side, her shields now carefully in place.
Obi-Wan glanced at her with something approximating affection in his eyes. "Asajj," he said simply. Ventress stood stiffly, studying his profile: Kenobi's reddish beard had only just begun to gray; his eyes were kind and soft, as were his lips, Ventress knew. She shifted. He glanced at her again, and then looked away.
A song filtered overheard, something romantic and jaunty that Ventress had heard Anakin play on-loop in the shower for practically her entire captivation at the Temple. "Oh," Obi-Wan said in recognition. He hesitated for a moment when Ventress didn't respond, and then held out his hand: "Would you care to dance, Asajj?"
Ventress stared. "You can't be serious," she deadpanned, but Obi-Wan's stance did not waver. Finally, she relented. "Fine," she sighed. When she didn't grasp his hand right away, Obi-Wan made to slip his arm around her waist; panicked, Ventress gripped his fingers. He winced, but smiled through the pain.
Sensing her apprehension, Obi-Wan placed his hands respectively on the assassin's bare shoulder and waist. They began moving in a circle to the song, amassed in a cluster of other couples who had found it similarly danceable. Ventress glanced around for the first minute or so, and then resting her gaze squarely on Obi-Wan, who smiled. Ventress smiled back.
"I've had a very nice time tonight," Obi-Wan intoned, his voice huskier than usual. He murmured appreciatively as his dancing partner's slight body swept a miniscule distance closer to his. "You're quite lovely, you know," he continued.
Ventress' mouth quirked. "I suppose you could be worse," she offered. She was becoming accustomed anew to the Force in quicker and quicker bursts, now; Obi-Wan provided a tether, something solid to attach herself to. Privately, she welcomed that, though judging by the expression on his face, he was mistaking it for submission; friendship, even.
And then, suddenly, it happened. Softly calloused fingers brushed her cheek and chin, and then Obi-Wan leaned in to kiss her. "Asajj," he murmured lovingly. "Asajj ...". The music swirled around them in a dizzying crescendo; the energy in the room seemed to have peaked.
Ventress paused, took a deep breath, and kicked Obi-Wan Kenobi square in the groin.
"Ach!" Obi-Wan gasped, dropping to his knees as the wind was knocked out of him. He stared up at the assassin in shock. "I-" he began, "I ... wha-"
"Suck it, Kenobi," Ventress snarled, and high-tailed it across the room faster than non-Force sensitive persons would have been capable of. Still choking and clutching his nether regions, Obi-Wan watched with dismay as the would-be Sith picked up a chair and heaved it towards the tall sun windows, now blackened with the Coruscant night sky. Screams rang out as one of them shattered; before anyone could stop her, Asajj Ventress jumped through the newly-created hole, plummeting into planet's bustling airspace.
There was a long, drawn-out silence: all of the partygoers seemed to be staring at Obi-Wan, who was struggling, unsuccessfully, to release his pain into the Force. The silence was broken by a short burst of laughter from Padme, who had emerged from the 'fresher just in time to see Obi-Wan hit the floor. "Shh," Bail hissed, gripping her arm as the room exploded into motion. Senate guards rushed in, securing the perimeter and ensuring Palpatine was out of harm's way. Nobody thought to ask Obi-Wan if he was alright.
"Anakin!" Obi-Wan shouted hoarsely over the rising commotion. "Anakin! She's getting away!"
Anakin sauntered over, a dopey grin on his face. "Yup," he replied, kneeling down unsteadily beside Obi-Wan. "Went right out th' window." He flung his arm in the direction of the window, as if he'd made it his sole purpose for the evening to be as unhelpful as possible. Which, knowing Anakin, he probably had. By this time Ahsoka had joined them and Anakin tugged one of her head-tails. "In't that right, Snippers?"
"Aren't you going to go after her?" Obi-Wan demanded, still wheezing and curled into a ball on the floor.
Anakin and Ahsoka looked at each other dubiously. "No," they said in unison.
"WHY?" Obi-Wan shifted uncomfortably, wondering what he could have possibly done to offend the Force so badly.
Anakin cleared his throat. "I'm kind of stoned right now," he admitted by way of explanation. "So instead, instead of going after her, we could, you know, just go home."
Obi-Wan stared at his former apprentice for a long moment. Anakin stared back. "Will of the Force," Ahsoka chimed in, "nothing we could do about it."
Finally, Obi-Wan nodded and held out a hand. "Help me up," he ordered, "and let's go home."
Obediently (for once), Anakin swung an arm around his Master to support the bulk of his weight. Anakin nodded at Ahsoka: "I've got this, Snips," he told her, and she shrugged. The duo made their way slowly out an ornate set of double doors; on the way, they passed Padme, who had succeeded in laughing herself into a fit of tears. "Lessgo home," Anakin slurred, pressing a sloppy kiss to Obi-Wan's beard. "Let's ... let's have s-sex."
Blearily, Obi-Wan shook his head. "Let's not," he responded. He didn't remember much after that; at some point, he polished off the last of the mini bottles Anakin had swiped from Force-knew-where, and vaguely recalled sinking into a drunken lump in, surprisingly, his own bed. He assumed that Anakin at least tried to have intercourse with him, judging from the fact that his pants had been removed and Anakin was still inside of him, sticky and smelly the next morning.
Extracting himself from his former apprentice's genital hug, Obi-Wan rolled onto his back and stared up at the ceiling. Business as usual, he thought dryly. Beside him, Anakin snuffled and then burped in his face.
It was no surprise that they were summoned to the Council chambers early that morning. Obi-Wan just barely managed to brush his teeth, jostle Anakin into consciousness, and retrieve Ahsoka before they were, once again, late. Once in the chamber, Obi-Wan found he was feeling somewhat lost without Ventress there to goad everyone into a reaction, without her and Anakin bickering the entire way to and from the meeting, without her snide comments. Instead, it was just a nauseous-looking Anakin, an exhausted Ahsoka, and a very pissed-off Mace Windu.
"You lost Ventress," Windu informed them the moment they entered. "Please explain how you *lost* your prisoner." He looked fairly enraged, if Obi-Wan was any kind of judge of such things. Truth be told, Obi-Wan wasn't sure he *could* explain. Not in any way that anyone in the room would understand, anyway. He'd been distracted, had let his guard down, had allowed Ventress to slip past his shields and burrow into him like the poisonous slugs she'd used on him on Rattatak. How morbid, he thought, returning his musings to the matter at hand.
"We are deeply sorry, Masters," Obi-Wan said, bowing his head. "I fear we became too complacent. She appeared to have been softening under our care, and I regret that I may have overlooked the threat she still posed." He paused and took a breath. "I also assumed that her Force suppressor would not have been disabled."
"We're assuming she had outside help," Windu informed them, steepling his fingers and leaning back in the chair. "What I want to know is how she got away. You," he gestured at Obi-Wan, "have the valid excuse of having just been junk-punched, but I want to know where Skywalker was."
Anakin frowned slightly. "Well, see, the thing is, I was..." He shrugged. "Ahsoka was there too."
The Togruta's jaw dropped. "Why you ... son of a whore!" Ahsoka yelled. She gave a battle cry and then ran forward, colliding with her Master, fists flying.
"Ow, OW! That's enough, Snips ... that's OW, that's enough!" Anakin squirmed, vaguely impressed by the tenacity of his Padawan, and then simply in pain. "Oh, kriff, she's biting me! Somebody h-help! Get her off! GET HER OFF! Master!"
Obi-Wan crossed his arms in satisfaction. Behind him, the rest of the Council beamed. "You know, Anakin, I don't think I will," he said happily. "I think you're doing just fine on your own."
"This place isn't as nice as your old place," Granta informed Zan Arbor some weeks later. Having heard through his contacts that a hit had been put out on his sometimes-employer, he had decided, in the interest of being paid, to give her a heads-up. She'd closed up her lab and set up shop in the Outer Rim, somewhere Granta hated and thus was glad he wasn't being required to accompany her. He'd merely come to collect his payment and refuel his ship.
"Yes, well, it was the best I could do on such short notice," Zan Arbor replied dismissively, handing him a credit chip with the remainder of his fee. "Being on the run from the Separatists is not exactly a glamorous life." She shrugged. "But I have my resources, and with the information I was able to extract from the blood samples..." She gave Granta a sickly smile. "With any luck I'll have a new weapon synthesized within the month."
"Well, good luck with that," Granta said, grimacing. He really didn't want to spend any more time with Zan Arbor than he had to; he was only hoping this was the last time she'd call on him, especially for something so menial. "And good luck keeping your face from breaking next time you get work done," he added.
"Get out," Zan Arbor said, pointing to the door. She didn't have to tell him twice.
Dooku cut his connection with Sidious. He turned and scowled at Ventress. Ventress scowled back. Dooku's eyes traveled to her stomach; instinctively, Ventress covered it protectively with her hand.
"How in the blazes did you not know you were pregnant for nearly six months?" Dooku's voice was calm, but his eyes, which flashed furiously as he spoke, belied how he really felt.
Ventress' face was pinched. "I was ... preoccupied," she said simply, patting her stomach. Inwardly, she cursed Obi-Wan for knocking her up. It was bad enough that she had to recoup all the time she'd lost to move her Grand-Master's plan along. Now, there were a slew of new questions to consider.
"Our Master suggested termination." Dooku's tone was measured, but Ventress tensed nonetheless. She normally could care less about other life forms, but felt strangely protective about this one for some reason. She suspected it was her cursed hormones. She also blamed them for the fact that she felt herself inching towards tears, and her sudden craving for sliders.
Sensing her discomfort, Dooku smirked. "Fortunately for it, Lord Sidious sees its potential for the Dark Side. It shall be raised in our service. I suggested dropping it off at the Jedi Temple, but our Master did not agree."
Ventress sighed, relieved in spite of herself. "'It' is a 'she'," she informed Dooku. "And her name is Juno Eclipse."
Dooku's long face was vaguely disgusted. "I see," he coughed. He gestured at the assassin's stomach, exposed beneath the strips of gauze wrapped around her torso, courtesy of Separatist med 'droids. "Cover that up," he ordered, and stomped off.
Ventress patted her mid-section. "How hasn't this happened to Skywalker ten times over?" she wondered aloud. Then she decided to blame it all on Anakin. She was pretty sure everybody else was.
Almost immediately after the Council had deemed their only punishment to be to "just clean up the kriffing mess in your apartment", Obi-Wan had hopped a transport to Alderaan and had yet to return. In his absence, Anakin had actually made himself useful and done a fairly decent job (with Ahsoka's help) of cleaning up the cesspit that had once been their apartment. It was partially out of a not-misplaced guilt, but mostly out of a desire to sleep in his own bed and to rid the apartment of any and all reminders of the ordeal that had stolen six months of his life, as well as some of his liver function.
He'd even formed a truce with Padme. She had no recollection of the Ball, so it was fairly easy to deny he'd said anything hurtful and had been able to spin a tale involving sex together in the 'fresher, leaving out the part where instead of having sex, she'd thrown up in the sink and he'd passed out for at least fifteen minutes in the corner. She didn't need to know either of those things, not if Anakin wanted to spend any time at all with her before the Council shipped them out again.
He was sprawled out on her couch, poking at his stomach with the tip of one mechanical finger. "I had to requisition new pants," he complained. "None of mine fit anymore, and it's all Ventress' fault." If it hadn't been for Ventress, he wouldn't have been cooped up for six months, after all.
"Oh, yes, I'm sure she force-fed you and poured beer down your throat the entire time she was here," Padme replied, rolling her eyes. Nevertheless, she went over to the sofa and sat so she was draped over his long frame. "It's okay, you're not a complete Hutt," she said with a smile, patting his stomach.
They lapsed into a comfortable silence, enveloped in one another's arms, until a knock at the door broke them from their respective trances. Padme moved off of Anakin, who reluctantly stood and crossed the room to the door. Upon pulling it open, he was greeted by Ahsoka's small fist making direct contact with his crotch. As he fell to the floor, he saw Dorme standing behind his apprentice, and Padme simply standing to the side of the door watching, a bored expression on her face. "Why?" he choked out.
"You know why!" Ahsoka exclaimed and took off running down the hall.
"Fan harder, Matt," Carrie Fisher ordered, snapping her fingers. "And stand up straight. You have horrible posture."
"Sorry, ma'am," Matt Lanter said subserviently. He increased the up and down movement of the palm fronds he was holding in each hand. The suntan oil he had rubbed onto himself made the endeavor slightly slippery, but it couldn't be helped. Skywalker Ranch was sweltering this time of year, as evidenced by the fact that everyone walked around in various states of barely-dress. Matt himself wore a simple Speedo and the obedient smile he flashed at Carrie Fisher when she patted him on the butt.
"It's really hot out here," Hayden Christensen said on cue. His voice was muffled by the Chewbacca costume he wore. "Can Matt and I trade places yet?" he sighed, squirming as the heels of Carrie's white Crocs dug into his back as he crouched in front of her lawn chair. "It's my turn to fan."
"No, Hayden," Carrie yawned, flicking her cigarette onto his head, the only part of him not covered in wookiee fur.
"Why not?" he whined.
"Because I'm prettier," Matt boasted proudly.
"Because Matt's prettier," Carrie agreed. The conversation was interrupted by the presence of Dave Filoni, dressed in board shorts, his trademark Indiana Jones hat that he'd stolen from George Lucas' office and refused to wash, and a Plo Koon iron-on t-shirt that he had made himself. "What did you think of my idea for season three?" Carrie asked as he handed her one of the mojitos he was holding, and took a sip of the other.
"Ah," Dave smacked his lips. "It's ... interesting. Very gay. We have eight-year-olds watching this thing, Carrie."
Carrie raised an eyebrow. "There are gay eight-year-olds out there, Dave."
"'Gay'-ght-year-olds," Hayden murmured. Carrie kicked him. "Ow."
Dave shrugged. "In any case, I ran it by George. He's decided to take it in another direction."
"What does that mean?" Carrie asked suspiciously.
"Jar-Jar," Dave answered simply. "An arc starring Jar-Jar. That's what it means."
Carrie dumped the rest of her mojito on Hayden's head. "Kriff," she muttered. "I hate that Gungan."