Title: "Sacred"
The 2nd one-shot in the Post-"Salvation" universe.
Chapter (2/3)
Written by: Shawn

Summary: Ahsoka and Jo'Seth grow closer. Padme's trip to the Jedi Temple on Republic business turns a bit more adventurous. Anakin and Obi-Wan have a heart to heart talk about moving forward.

Category: Drama/Romance/Erotica

Rating: M for sensual, sexual situations

Ship: Anakin and Padme Skywalker, Obi-Wan/Sabe, Ahsoka Tano/OC

Timeline/Spoilers: "Salvation and "Scandalous" must be read in their entirety to grasp what I'm aiming for in this universe. Everything in the prequel movie series is canon up until a point in "Revenge of the Sith," and then "Salvation" takes over, followed by "Scandalous."

Additional Spoiler alert: basic knowledge of the Clone Wars tv series will be explored here as well. But nothing that won't be fully explained.

Disclaimer: Lucasfilm and George owns it all.

Authors Notes 1: I've longed to explore Anakin and Padme s life post some sort of fairy tale ending. So if they are permitted to be married, the war is over with and Palpatine is dead, Anakin is granted mastery, the children are alive and safe, Obi-Wan knows everything, and Padme at least retains her post... then what? That's the question I want to answer in this series. It s a drama and as such don't expect things to be glossed over or played down. I intend to treat P/A similar to the obsessiveness the media treats such couples in real life, as well as handle things politically in a way I hope keeps you interested.

Authors Notes 2: This is the second of the post "Salvation" universe after "Scandalous. You will be introduced to new characters and reintroduced to ones who disappeared for a while. You just never know who might pop up. 'evil laughter'

Authors Notes 3: Though no mention of Ahsoka Tano was made in "Salvation" or "Scandalous" I fell in love with the character during the Clone Wars series and she makes her debut here. She is seventeen years old here, my best guess at her age after the Clone Wars and my story timelines. She is also a full Jedi Knight and no longer Anakin's Padawan.

Authors Notes 4: I'm writing adults here, so expect adult situations, reactions, and consequences.

Authors Notes 5: This story takes place two and a half months after "Scandalous."

Beta Read by: Master Anne the Wise - Similar to Darth Plagius the Wise, only cuter and she influences the Midicholrin to create cookies. She's also invincible in her sleep.

"Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being "in love" which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two."
-St. Augustine

The Jedi Archives

First Knowledge quarter of the Jedi Temple

Galactic City, Coruscant

"Well, this definitely falls under the category of uncharted territory," Jedi Knight Jo'Seth Coral quietly noted to himself from the far left corner of the massive Jedi Archive. He wasn't exactly hiding while watching Ahsoka peruse a data-log holo-screen across the room. But he hadn't announced his presence to his future date either. He sighed happily the moment he saw her, no greater evidence how bad he had it for the famous Jedi. The Order, for all its ancient majesty had undergone a recent transition the likes of which were unprecedented. And now every Jedi Knight and Master had quite a few more personal options than they were ever told taught they could have.

For the younger Jedi Knights like himself, Jo'Seth considered that maybe the altering of the Jedi Code would see them enjoy a smoother transition than the older Masters who were hardened by the strict mandate of the past. But as time passed by he himself accepted that there were no easy answers to the new questions each member of the Order would now have to face.

Jedi Knight Ahsoka Tano was considered the wild child of the Jedi Order, a nickname Jo'Seth neither liked nor ever used in private when others talked about her. She was thrust into the heart of the Clone War at such a tender age, given Anakin Skywalker as her Master, and fought alongside Master Kenobi nearly as much as her own. And like her Master, rules were broken and recklessness was a part of her spirit. He found her a refreshing diversion to the constant Jedi-Code reciting girls who to their defense only did as they were taught to do. But while a quieter soul himself than the girl who'd slowly captured his heart, he saw through her tough exterior. He noted in many of her combat reports how her cunning intellect won the day more than people gave her credit for. While other Knights frowned upon her numerous citations for disobedient behavior, really, could you expect any less of a Padawan trained by Anakin Skywalker?

And she was beautiful. Amazingly so. The man in him, all eighteen years thus far, thought there were none fairer in all the galaxy than her.

Of course running into her on occasion, and then twice when he was able to arrange it might be construed as a bit sneaky. But he just wanted to get to know her better. There was something about her way of looking at things and her personality that drew him to her. She effortlessly possessed that special something he found irresistible. She was an expert at wielding a lightsaber and an amazing pilot in her own right. Both were starship junkies, and enjoyed having that in common. They'd swapped war stories for weeks following the end of the Clone Wars about their individual exploits, teasing about who was better and who'd win in an outright race.

She opened up to him on late night guard duties about the atrocities she'd seen. He talked to her about the death of his Master and the Outer Rim Siege horrors he witnessed. They pondered the war, the Jedi Order, the Sith, and everything that Palpatine did to undermine the Jedi. Simply put, they talked until it was time to go to bed. And then started up again the next morning.

Jo'Seth knew he was falling for her and when rumors of a possible change to the Jedi Code grew louder he almost hoped they were false. So long as he held his little crush deep inside there was no chance for rejection or being hurt. Not to mention his absolute lack of knowledge in pursuing a girl. But the more time he spent with Ahsoka after they were assigned together at the Temple, the more he found her snarkiness charming. She was a jokester and she had a heart of gold for the Younglings. She was also the target of HoloNet gossip hounds looking to discredit her as being a pawn in the Jedi Order's cover-ups and hurtful rumors about her own personal life. All of which were lies she said didn't affect her.

He saw through her though. The lies being spread hurt her feelings a great deal. And though mature, she was still a young woman who people were lying about in public. Some of the Knights felt she was shown favoritism as jealousy grew within the Jedi Order over her popular status. When other Knights began to talk, he quickly shot them down with the truth. And when he was accused of harboring feelings for her... well he had to finally admit that he did.

Sighing, Jo'Seth stood in the shadows watching Ahsoka. In truth the hard part was over with. He'd summoned more courage than he ever thought he had in finally talking with her privately a few days ago. He told her that their time together had been so much fun and he'd come to respect her a great deal. Then he told her that she was so pretty. He worried that he'd said it wrong or maybe not as romantically as one did in the HoloNet movies. But she blushed... and he asked her if she was single. His heart felt like a thermal detonator about to explode.

She told him she was. That all the rumors to the contrary were just that. And then she asked him if he were single. Jo'Seth exhaled the longest breath he'd ever held and thought his complexion might have matched her own by the time he spoke.

That night they escaped the Temple and took in a late movie. Alone. And held hands. He'd never been happier in all his life. She kept asking him if he was worried about what people might say. He was human and she was Togruta, after all. And then with the Senate Trials coming soon she was supposed to testify. Her time in the media would only intensify and he would be a target.

He told her he just wanted to spend time with her, get to know her better, and hopefully take her to the Coruscant Galactic Republic Ball.

At that point she smiled so beautifully he was at a loss for words. He didn't have the nerve to kiss her just yet, but that was becoming inevitable. For the rest of the evening they debated the movie, who they thought was the finest swordsmen in the Jedi Order, and who made the best krilly fries in Galactic City.

So yeah, he was in love. Madly so. But still scared enough to not approach her right away. He'd been trained to do many things, but how to act around girls he was interested in wasn't one of them. Maybe he just wanted to bask in the knowledge that he had someone special. That he 'could' now have someone special. That his someone special was now striding over toward him before he even realized it.

"You're broadcasting how you feel about me all over the Archive," Ahsoka teased gently, her arms crossed, lightsaber dangling from her hip. "And considering that some of the most Force-sensitive beings in the universe are here, you might wanna tone it down. Not that I mind though." He gulped and she covered her mouth to laugh softly, then pointed down the aisle. "Master Yoda and Master Mundi are right there. And Madam Jocasta Nu just asked me if you were my boyfriend. I'm going to file that under 'things I never expected to be asked by a Jedi Master.'"

"Sith," he swore under his breath, mildly embarrassed by it all. But only mildly.

"Nah, we killed them," she laughed. "Just relax."

"So," he gathered a bit of courage, walking with her down a darkened aisle toward the center of the Archive. "Why aren't you broadcasting?"

Peering straight ahead, she answered politely enough, chin tilted high. "I'm far more powerful in the Force than you are?"

Jo'Seth stood up to her, enjoying his superior height. She was far to cute for words. "Hardly."

"Its quite true." She nodded.

"A Jedi should be humble."

"A Jedi should also be able to walk over to his girlfriend and say Hi instead of doing what amounts to a mild form of stalking in a dark corner."

Raising a brow, Jo'Seth asked curiously, "Girlfriend?"

Crap! Double crap! Ahsoka forgot they hadn't exactly had that official talk yet. She was suddenly at a loss for words. "Uhm..."

"You're right," he finished for her, and decided to just go for it. "I should have said hi to my girlfriend."

He had the ability to make her blush so easily. And he'd given her a out while making things easy. So here and now she could go with it or drag things out further. Dammit, what would Padme do? Did she still have that backless dress Anakin swears ruined him for all other women? Would Padme loan it out? Triple crap! "Good," she exhaled finally with a small laugh. Wow, now she had a boyfriend. Now what the heck was she supposed to do with him? "So what are you doing here?"

"I was on my way to the starship docking bay," he replied, stepping aside when a Youngling raced past them. "I'm outfitting several Jedi fighters for a mission in two days."

He'd taken the long way around just to see her and she knew it. Her heart raced at the thought. This was so unlike her to feel so attracted to a guy. She was interested in adventure, being a great Jedi, and proving to Anakin she was worthy of being his Padawan. But boys... they were something to look at, sigh, and keep walking. Now though she could hug and kiss and... well, she could! And she just might. "Need a hand?"

"Nah, you know I love tinkering with the fighters."

"Are you still designing that one you told me about?"

He nodded, proud that she remembered one of their earliest conversations. "Its on the drawing board, but coming along nicely."

"I bought a dress for the ball." The words flew out of her mouth without having any prep time. Ahsoka's mouth kinda hung open and then she quickly shut it. She suddenly felt stupid, though he seemed very interested. Here was a prime time to talk about something he was interested in and she just dove right into their date like a love-sick Jedi Knight that she was. "Sorry, I just..."

"What color is it?" he smiled.

"Dark blue," she answered a bit shyly. "A good friend helped me pick it out."

Jo'Seth contemplated which of the female Knights or Masters that were going as well. "Who went with you?"

"Vice Chair Skywalker."

Blinking, he asked, "Vice Chair of the Republic?" She nodded and yet again Jo'Seth was reminded of her immense connections. Being with her was a bit intimidating, but wildly entertaining. "Wow. Cool."

"We had a wonderful time."

Jo'Seth and Ahsoka both spun around when they heard Padme's voice announce her arrival. She'd somehow snuck up on both of them, her presence highly unexpected. Mrs. Skywalker walked up to the very handsome and startled young man and extended her hand. "Its a pleasure to meet you, Jo'Seth."

"The pleasure is all mine, Vice Chair Skywalker," Jo'Seth bowed respectfully and then gently shook her hand. Having seen her hundreds of times on the HoloNet, she was even more stunningly beautiful in person. Draped in regal purple Naboo attire, she looked every bit the Queen she once was. He swallowed hard to compose himself.

Rolling her eyes at the brief gawking moment of her boyfriend, Ahsoka hugged Padme. "What are you doing here? Are the Skycrawlers with you?"

Padme shook her head, now standing between the obviously smitten duo. They were too cute for words. "I had two meetings reschedule at the last minute and decided to take a break in the middle of my day. I'm here to see my husband. We have a... particular matter to discuss."

"Well it was wonderful to meet you, Milady. But I must be going." Bowing again to Padme, Jo'Seth wasn't exactly sure what proper girlfriend/boyfriend etiquette was. So he gently clasped Ahsoka's hand for a moment, gave it a little squeeze, and then released it. "I'll find you later." He bowed again, then turned and walked away.

"I'll be waiting." Turning her back to Jo'Seth, Ahsoka quietly mouthed "He's so freaking cute."

"I HEARD THAT!" Jo'Seth playfully shouted down the hall. Madam Jocasta Nu pointed at his mild outburst, to which he quickly apologized, grinning the whole time.

"Oh I like him," Padme declared wearing a smile, looping her arm around Ahsoka's as they began to walk through the Archive. "And he is quite handsome. He's got dreamy eyes."

Ahsoka enjoyed Padme's assessment immensely. "I think I need your backless dress. You know, the one you used to seduce Anakin."

Drawing her down a empty corridor, Padme stopped Ahsoka, grinning. "I've told you many times I did not seduce Anakin. I had no seduction skills. I just had a dress."

"Loan it to me?"

Padme rolled her eyes. "No. You are not seducing Jo'Seth. Anakin would kill me if I helped you do that."

"I don't want to seduce him. Just entice him a little." Ahsoka then pointed out, pleading her case. "You told me you knew next to nothing about men. Well I'm in that club too. I know how to beat them up, plan war strategies, and not go near them after they eat beans. But romantically I'm drawing a blank. So help me out."

"You don't need the dress."

"He hasn't tried to kiss me yet. Its been days! Did the dress at least get you a kiss?" Padme gently tugged her bottom lip, suppressing a smile. "See! I knew it! Plus, neither of us are exactly abundant in the chest area. I could so wear it."

Padme knew this was going nowhere fast, amusing as it was. "He wants to kiss you, dear. I can tell. Just give it time."

"The dress would help. I'm working with no skills here." Her arms extended in a animated fashion. "I got no guy skills."

Standing in the grand Jedi Temple archive discussing a young Knights love life felt surreal to the former loner of the political arena. But years ago she couldn't seek Sola's council concerning Anakin. Now though, she could offer help to Ahsoka. "Asking me won't help. I didn't know anything."

"Now you know EVERYTHING!" Padme laughed softly. Ahsoka pouted. "Fine. Then tell me how do I get him to kiss me? I want him whipped like Anakin."

Padme blinked. "My husband is not whipped."

"He is so whipped. He's wrapped around your well manicured finger. Everyone in the galaxy knows that."

Padme liked that, but it wasn't like she wasn't wrapped around his either. Her arms crossed as she snickered just a bit. "Dear, Jo'Seth likes you. I think he might even love you. Just give it time."

Crossing her arms, Ahsoka sighed. "I'm trying, but I have no patience."

"You are truly Anakin's student."

"The dress would help."

Pressing a light kiss to Ahoska's cheek, Padme began walking away. "Goodbye, Ms. Tano. I love you."

After a mildy impatient foot stomp, the Jedi Knight crossed her arms and smiled. "Bye Sky-Girl. But I still want that dress."

The Private Quarters of Jedi Master Anakin Skywalker

Jedi Temple

Galactic City, Coruscant

Peace and tranquility swept over Anakin Skywalker.

Deeply immersed in the mysterious majesty of the Force for the last standard two hours, its Chosen One levitated in a calm, meditative pose. Hovering quietly above a plush softly-rounded pod seat in the center of the dark room as the blinds were drawn, Anakin focused his inner will on surrendering fully to the Force. He gave himself over to something far greater than he, drowning in the infinite wonder of all that was. The entire universe felt within his grasp, as if every living being spoke as one in a single language he alone understood. This was the true work he'd tasked himself to master. Years... a lifetime it would take. Longer, if Master Yoda's advanced age were anything to judge it by. Ever since Mastery had been granted to him, he understood that his journey in the Jedi Order wasn't completed at all.

It had only truly begun.

Now that Mastery was his, as well as that highly coveted seat on the Jedi Council, Anakin began to grasp the immense responsibility those rewards came with. The Jedi's role as peace keepers was being re-written to encompass many aspects never before considered due to current events. The Jedi were asked by new Supreme Chancellor Organa to remain the generals of the Clone Army of the Galactic Republic, a risky move that a number of highly outspoken Senators with respect to the upcoming Senate Trials took issue with. As Palpatine's treachery was revealed, the Jedi Order's unwillingness to change, coupled with its arrogance revealed dire weaknesses they could never again afford to allow to fester. Darth Sidious had within his power at any time during the war to institute Order 66 and whether Anakin turned to the Dark Side or not the Jedi simply could not defeat an enemy that so incredibly outnumbered them and was infinitely replenishible. Taking into account that the galaxy now knew the Jedi Order lied about the creation of the Clone Army, the fate of Master Syfo Dias, and the Skywalker conspiracy...

Anakin exhaled fully, then drew breath anew within him once more. Repairing and rebuilding the Jedi Order, the Republic's trust in it, and helping to heal and protect a galaxy barely six months removed from years of war was a colossal undertaking he was only now beginning to fully understand. Enjoying the freedom to live with his family in the open felt like a dream come true. But it came with a price as every enemy he and Padme had ever made could target them and their innocent children for revenge.

It would be all to easy to fall into the fantasy-world allure of being openly married, attaining mastery, and having destroyed the Sith. But the reality was for every problem that no longer existed, the solution created three times as many. Palpatine's death ensured the end of the war, but those left behind that aided him now wanted revenge for all they lost. Incredibly wealthy, powerful, uncaring figures who face execution if found guilty of high-treason in the Senate Trials had nothing to lose in going after those they felt were responsible. The Jedi Code's amendment granted the Skywalkers the freedom to be together minus all the lies and deceit they employed to cover up their marriage. But with their relationship now a matter of public knowledge to their enemies, if you wanted to hurt Vice Chair Skywalker or Jedi Master Skywalker, you'd simply go after the people they loved most. And with Mastery came the ultimate responsibility to protect and progress the past, present, and future of the Jedi Order. A future that was now as unpredictable as it had ever been before. A future that a number of the elder Jedi Masters were hesitant to embrace.

Seizing the dread that began to fade his peace of mind, Anakin willed it away while trusting in the Force to see him and the Jedi Order through the many trials ahead. Instead of dwelling on the fear that nearly cost him everything he held dear, he sought the amusing games the Younglings were playing in the garden. There were several of them chasing a small animal that had wandered into the Temple as their innocent glee brought a broad smile to his face. No, things weren't perfect and never would be. There were trying times ahead. Dark times... But there was also much to be thankful and hopeful about as well. He wasn't the most powerful Jedi in the galaxy... yet.

And for once he was alright with that.

Anakin turned his concern toward the more serious issues at hand. Geonosian Industries was now rumored to be behind the technical design for Palpatine's ultimate weapon, a moon-like battle station capable of destroying a entire planet. Wilhuff Tarkin and Raith Sienar were both being heavily investigated for their possible involvement. A weapon of such destructive power would be devastating in the wrong hands, so those involved were now among the Jedi's highest priority.

As the Jedi once considered the Sith were extinct and were proven wrong, Anakin was now assigned the task of developing a special team of Jedi Knights who's sole duty was hunting the Sith, their history, and any traces of them left in the galaxy. Such a undertaking was unprecedented, but necessary as Palpatine nearly crushed the Order. No more would the Sith be taken for granted. He would see to it himself.

Then there was the mystery of his Beloved. Obviously, though they've chosen to be very careful in even discussing it, Padme was a Force-Adept. A Force-sensitive human with abilities that sometimes manifested early on in life, while others only exhibited abilities after a certain age. Where his wife was concerned, he'd always sensed a presence within her, but simply thought it was the love they shared. Now he's certain she's gifted and they will have to address that at some point.

Speaking of his Angel, Anakin smiled widely upon sensing her unexpected presence nearby. His heart stopped momentarily as he reached out to gauge her mood in case of an emergency, but found gentle amusement and affection for him in her thoughts. Whatever her reasons for being here they were not of a serious nature. No matter. He wanted her by his side no matter what. And the sheer enthusiasm he felt upon her reaching just outside the door to his private quarters gave him a thrill. She was the sum of everything he wanted in life. And that he could now have her, claim her for all the galaxy to know, and openly love her were along with his children the purest joys of his life.

The door unpressurized open, revealing Padme Skywalker's mildly amused expression upon finding her husband levitating off the floor. She quietly entered, peering around the dark room she'd visited only a handful of times before finally addressing him. Her estimation finished after a brief appraisal. "You have no taste in decor, beloved."

Smirking behind closed eyes, Anakin replied, "Private chambers are kept basic and humble so as to allow all to be equal and one with the Force. A Jedi's purpose is not style, but substance of life. We are keepers of the peace, not interior decorators."

"That point is especially true in your case, dear," she teased lightly. As the door slid shut behind her. Padme toured the modest-sized room while he levitated in the center of it. Her fingertips danced over the beige walls while a sculpted transparisteel skylight revealed North Galactic City in all its overcrowded glory. Two cushioned, circular pod-seats and bed in the far corner made up the sparse furniture. There were no personal items of any kind, anywhere. No bookcase. No pictures or paintings of anyone or anything. Nothing that spoke of the individual who lived here. There were no personal artifacts at all. Of course in Anakin's unique situation, he didn't live here anymore and had never truly considered this his home. Their apartment was home. The loving sentiment brought a warm expression to her face. "This place desperately needs a woman's touch."

When she passed before him he swept her off her feet with the Force, effectively depositing her in his lap above the floor. Her little shriek of surprise amused him. "I need your touch," he declared hotly before firmly claiming her softly parted mouth, defying any sly retort with a kiss so hungry she began moaning faintly in his strong arms, now curled around her. Their mouths roamed slowly, nipping and swaying seductively. Her arms tightened around his neck when her tongue was suckled inside his mouth, drawn upon so sensuously her backside ground against the hardness beneath her. Holding her snug to his chest, he breathed just over her lips. And he loved how she wore her hair down today, all bushy curls and free. "You didn't knock."

"I had no intention of doing so. What's yours is mine," Padme replied cheekily, brushing another loving kiss over his mouth. "I will come..." and then another firm kiss to punctuate her point, "And go as I please."

If he weren't so acutely aware of how good she smelled, the arc of her gorgeous little ass seated over his lap mind have robbed him of any sanity he had left. "A former Queen should have manners, milady."

"And a Jedi Master should not be so bold as to steal kisses and use the Force for such seductive intents."

"You are 'MY' wife and I will do with you as I please," he boldly conveyed with tongue gliding softly along the pulse of her neck, before sucking harder until her fingers nails dragged through his hair. He knew that as strong-willed and independent as she was, apart of her dearly loved how possessively he loved her. To be blunt, he knew it turned her on. "What brings you to me today?"

The husky tenor of his voice caused her to quiver in his arms. Oh where was her vaunted self-control now? He'd torched her thoughts the moment he kissed her. Married for years and now with children, they'd never lost their fire. For that she was eternally grateful. "I found myself with a rare open morning as two intergalactic commission meetings rescheduled at the last second. Bail has us scheduled for a full Cabinet meeting later on this evening, so all morning long all I did was stare at my holo-computer for four hours straight, completing data-pad after data-pad with official signatures and inquires. I participated in a agonizingly long conference call attempting to soothe diplomatic relations between Utapau and Severis, which didn't go all that well. Was burned out by mid-day," she explained with her head resting over his right shoulder.

"You needed to escape," Anakin was certain as she gave a relaxed nod.

"And while I love our children with all my heart, there are times I need time away from them to not be mom for just a little while." Lastly, she ran her hand across his cheek with such affection. "And I missed my husband."

Anakin softly nuzzled the side of her face before brushing a kiss to her temple. He held her so securely, so preciously, tucking her head beneath his chin. How could anyone go their entire life without experiencing such sweet love? He could no more have denied her his heart than his lungs air to breathe. For the very real darkness that was part of his soul, she was the blinding light that eclipsed it all. Neither of them were perfect by any means, but together... they were perfect for each other. "I missed you too."

Sighing happily, she caressed his face, tilting her head to gaze into his piercing blue eyes. For so long they were denied such simple pleasures that most couples probably took for granted on a daily basis. Being able to kiss the one you love for no reason at all. Seeing them at the end of your day. And no matter what took place, they were there to share it with you. Years of facing a horrible war and telling so many lies to preserve their secret, but no more and never again. There was duty and responsibility and compassion and caring in consideration of the important roles they played in the Republic. But by the Force her heart would never go without love again. This man was her beloved husband and she intended to enjoy his place in her life. "So how has your day gone thus far?"

"I led a group of Younglings through a morning exercise of simulated starship combat. They were respectful enough, but as children will do it soon evolved into a video game sparring match of sorts."

"And let me guess," Padme gently poked her husband's side. "You joined in, right?"

His wife knew him far to well. Knew the little kid that dwelled within him. "Only in the spirit of giving them tips on how to survive space combat." Anakin held a straight face for as long as he could before a broad smile broke free. "There's a time for dedicated, no-nonsense training and then there is time to allow children to be children. I'm hoping to find a balance to our training will help us in crafting future Jedi Knights."

"To all things a balance is needed," she agreed, gazing proudly at her husband. "Anything else?"

"Yoda's calming wisdom and impish sense of humor continues to impress me," he began while gently stroking her left hand. When she inquired how, he continued, "He challenged a group of Jedi Knights to repair a holo-sphere communication device that seemed to be broken. The five Knights took it apart piece by piece, attempting to repair it while Yoda and a small group of Younglings looked on. Obi-Wan was there and told me for three hours the Knights asked Master Yoda about different facets of the design structure and checked to see if the floor-mounted power unit was working. They tried everything to get this thing working, and offered to retrieve a newer working one from the supply conclave. Apparently Master Yoda wanted them to fix that one. Eventually, the Knights gave up, saying that the device's motherboard had to be fried or one of the smaller internal chips blown out. Master Yoda asked them that at the time they checked to insure the rooms power supply was running properly, did anyone check to see if the device was attached properly to the floor power coupling. They had checked every single thing except that. Master Yoda then explained to the Younglings sometimes the simplest solution to a problem is the one to try first."

"Master Yoda truly enjoys being a teacher. I've always admired that about him," Padme noted while nestled in her husband's embrace. "He understands that no matter your age or experience, there is always something new to learn. Amazing for a being his age to still grasp that. He is amazing."

"Speaking of learning something new, Ben told me he's taking Sabe to the Ball."

"I heard about that early this morning as well," Padme nodded. "Sabe downplayed it as nothing major and then began asking me offhand questions about appropriate attire for affairs such as the Ball. She wanted to know if you had to eat 'fancy-style' or could you just dig in. I could sense the most subtle excitement coursing through her and I'm so happy that she's at least trying to give love a chance. She deserves it. Things have been tough for her for a very long time now. Her date is a momentous step forward in her life."

Padme never told him what dark event Sabe endured that caused her to disappear for all those years ago. He never pried as he was sure it was very personal and none of his business. Thankfully, Padme knew how to help heal a wounded soul. "Obi-Wan was, for lack of a better term, very upbeat. It unnerved me at first. We didn't get to talk for long before our morning Council meeting. But he's acting..."

"Happy?" Padme asked as Anakin lowered them to the pod-seat and then she slipped off his lap.

"Well, yes." Anakin shook his head, following Padme with his eyes as she walked to the window and opened the blinds, showering the room with sunlight. "I'm used to Obi-Wan acting a certain way. Grumpy, opinionated, and displeased. At times teasing... though rarely. Now he's acting... I don't know."

"Dear," Padme began before taking a seat on the cushioned pod facing her husband. He bowed before her and gently removed her shoes from her feet, drawing him a gorgeous smile. However did the one-time wallflower and book-nerd get such an affectionate guy? "Ben is the same man you've always known. But there's a woman in his life he's very interested in. And I'm sure he's trying to merge that reality with the strictly disciplined life he's lived since being brought to the Temple. The transition is difficult, I'm sure. He's found a side of himself he's never had the opportunity to truly explore out in the open. And I think he likes it."

Anakin took the pod across from her. "So much is changing."

"Such is life, my love. It would be boring otherwise."

"Your powers are growing," Anakin asserted with a tiny grin, watching her gaze away, hands folded in her lap as she still didn't want to talk about this. But the time for that had ended in his estimation. This mornings display when she casually pushed their entire living room couch over a little where she wanted it with but a wave of her hand was evidence enough of that. "You're a Force-Adept, Angel."

Padme sighed, her foot aimlessly tapping the carpeted floor. "I know."

"Someone's been researching, haven't you?" She gave a slow nod. He wasn't surprised. Padme didn't ignore anything ever. "Does it scare you?"

Her mouth parted, but she couldn't seem to find the words to convey exactly what she was feeling. Careful thought was taken before she finally spoke. "Scared isn't the word I would use," she began softly.. "It's a big deal to know that if I were single and not involved in politics I could now enter the Order and request training to become a Jedi Knight. That is a staggering thought I can barely wrap my mind around. The road not taken..." She paused for a moment. "As for me, I just think its cool that whenever I drop a pin or brush I can just open my hand and it'll come to me."

Anakin snickered, "Leave it to you to consider the Force cool simply because you can use it to pick up things off the floor."

Padme rolled her eyes at his teasing, and then pointed a finger in his direction. "When you have two infants who toss baby bottles and pacifiers when they throw fits, then yes, the Force is a very useful tool."

Despite their casual conversation over the most serious topic, he pressed onward. He fixed her with a significant gaze. "Do you want me to train you?"

He wanted too. Desperately so. Padme knew that was coming, eventually. She just hoped he wouldn't be too disappointed by her answer. "No." Guaging his initial response, he gave no more than a subtle nod. She sensed he was alright with her decision. At least for now. This topic was far from over. "I'm happy with what little I can do."

"But I could show you so much more." Anakin rose form his pod, descending upon hers. "The wonders of the Force are limitless and stunning."

"Through you I've witnessed it, but my life will never cross that path outside of my connection to you," she replied to his mild disappointment. She sighed, "Perhaps at a different age and time in my life the allure of learning the ways of the Force might have been too great to ignore. But in my professional life my work as Vice Chair of the Republic is very substantial and fulfilling to me. I am able to do what has always interested me, which is helping people thrive and peacefully co-exist while fighting injustice. As for my personal life, being a mother and your wife are the foundations of it. I have no room or time for anything else."

Contemplating the truths of her life, he nodded in understanding. Padme was who she had always been, and he loved 'that' woman with all that he was. Talk of her abilities would continue at a later date. For now though... a most devilish grin preceded him offering, "I could show you how to use my lightsaber?"

Padme didn't need the Force to feel the pure heat of his gaze on the bare skin of her thigh where her legs crossed. Fending off a mild blush, she replied, "Is that a come on?"

"Not my most clever one, but yeah," he winked.

"And to think, I already thought I was already quite proficient at 'mastering' your lightsaber." She found herself being gently pushed back over the pod-seat as Anakin hovered above her, seductively gliding up her dress while parting her legs. His bold invasion of her personal space made her heart beat faster as he bent over her. Her chin lifted in defiance. "Is this part of your Jedi training?"

"Absolutely not," he shook his head while projecting such wicked thoughts of them her way. A shy smile curled her lips at the images he portrayed.

"Then what are you doing?"

"Relieving you of your clothing, milady."

His hands began working on the three top buttons of her dress. "And that corresponds with me being a Force-Adept, how?"

"Padme?"

"Yes?" she inquired cheekily, flashing white teeth.

"Shut up."

Anakin's warm mouth ate her reply with a deliriously sexual kiss, passionately smothering her lips until she could do no more than allow him to drag her to the carpeted floor. Her nipples tightened against the soft fabric of her dress when he covered her body with his own. "Now see here, Master Jedi. I am Vice Chair of the Republic," she half-laughed, half-moaned when he began working the ties on the back of her dress. She sensed his glee at her choice of attire that wasn't Nabboian in design, therefore getting her out of it wouldn't take forever. A private pet-peeve of his for years. "I will not simply have floor-sex with you in the Jedi Temple."

"Would you prefer the wall?" Her mahogany eyes widened at his audacious remark. "The pod-seat is cushioned and sturdy as well." When his hand canvassed over it her mouth parted in mute shock. "Now the bed in the corner, its never been used for what I have in mind."

"This is the Jedi Temple, and not a den for a risqu rendezvous," she pointed out while trying furiously to ignore the way he made her feel so decadent.

Hovering above her sexy smirk, Anakin brushed his lips over hers. "I love it when you use sexy words. Do it again."

Her husband had the strangest sense of humor at times, but she enjoyed indulging him. "Salacious," she whispered, earning her another kiss. "Libidinous." His tongue sampled her throat, wet trailing his name over her skin... "Prurient." He nipped her with his teeth, and even that little bite caused her to quiver between her thighs. "Profane."

"By the Force, you have the sexiest vocabulary in the galaxy," he moaned into her ear.

"As you are the craziest man in the galaxy." Her husband was just so bad at times, she snickered happily. She not-so-secretly loved it. But playing hard to get was her way. "I didn't come here for this."

"But you will most certainly cum," Anakin finished by kissing her harder, his right hand deftly cascaded up her smooth thigh until he firmly cupped her soft mound through her thin black panties, squeezing gently as she moaned against sensual touch. His left hand tangled in the lush curls of her hair, holding her mouth to his.

The man knew how to stroke her fire into a roaring blaze and Padme was utterly powerless to stop him. His kisses left her out of control, fleeing rational behavior for the wildness she'd denied herself for far to long. "Maybe I just want to talk?"

"Fine then tal..." Anakin's words died when the back of her hand caressed over the hard bulge in his pants before grasping it fully. Squeezing... stroking... He throbbed hard against her fingers. "Did... did you have something you wished to discuss, milady?"

The tables turned just that fast. The length of him pulsed in the palm of her small hand as she swore it was insane how she couldn't decide the way she wanted to have him. Either in her mouth or inside her. Such once forbidden thoughts were second nature these days. "Uhm..."

"You're wasting time, Angel. I barely have ninety standard minutes to ravish you before I have to meet with Obi-Wan."

Her brow raised just a notch. "Ravish me?"

"Ab... absolutely."

"But what if I ravish you first?" Padme locked her legs around his waist, sat up, and then rolled them over so that now she was on top. Slowly she bent down to the shell of his ear and whispered, "Maybe I just want to ride my husband until he can't see straight." The sudden gulp in his throat was evidence of his approval. Sliding her hand inside his pants, she curled her fist around the hard stalk of flesh and began stroking him with such rhythm his thighs trembled in response. She had his full attention. "Or maybe I'm just a tease who'll leave you all hot and bothered."

"I seem to be at your mercy, milady," he replied in a mildly shaky tone.

"Exactly where you ought to be, Master Jedi." Releasing her most intimate hold, she assisted him in removing his tunic, the chiseled muscles of his abs tempting her senses. He beckoned her to stand and when she did he pushed her dress off her slender shoulders, the expensive garment now pooled at her feet. Then tugged the black panties down her slender hips, his gaze focused intently on her as she watched. Oh how she loved the way he looked at her... the way his thoughts ached to possess and pleasure her until he'd exhausted himself. Being so connected to his heart, mind, and soul only amplified their passion. "Lose the pants."

Anakin took his time doing as he was told, giving her ample to 'appreciate' the state she'd left him in. Standing before her with only blades of sunlight lit over his tall, muscular from the blinds. "Bossy."

"You love it. Sit," she ordered wearing a naughty grin.

Anakin lowered himself down on the carpet, watching Padme seductively descend to her knees and then part his legs, invading the space she created. Her brown eyes grew darker in the dimly lit room, furthering her bewitching allure as her right hand closed around the base of his cock. Staring into his blue eyes, she began stroking him up and down so slowly... until the merest drop of clear liquid emerged from the tip. Tendrils of pleasure shot through him as her exquisite caress drove him mad. "I want you."

"I want you more." Padme pressed the softest of kisses over the weeping tip of his cock, loving the powerful shudder than ran through him. Grinning at his reaction, her tongue swirled round and round the head until her husband groaned loudly, her name now a chant echoed from his lips in worship. Holding him firmly in her hand, she swept her tongue up and down the shaft at a lovingly lazy pace, dancing it over the head once more before pursing her lips and giving a tiny little teasing suck.

"You evil Sith," Anakin panted, his eyes full of her and nothing else in the universe.

"'Your' Sith," she proudly proclaimed before inhaling much of him, dragging her wet tongue along the side while sucking his cock with ever increasing pressure. By the Force, the taste of him... the power she felt in claiming him this way...he whispered his love, breathlessly for her... forever.

The mahogany curls of her thick hair rose and fell over his lap, hypnotizing his gaze as the pleasure she gave to him knew no equal. He was enraptured by the warmth of her mouth, her fist twisting at the base of his cock, amplifying the sensation. She nursed at the head until his back arched, and then drove him deep inside her mouth, driving her lips up and down his cock as she made love to it. He felt her cheeks hollow, drawing firmly around him as she sucked harder... oh so good... the best, ever! His eyes rolled, while his hands clenched tightly. His right hand fell gently upon her head, not so much guiding as an affectionate touch. She didn't mind, sucking him deeper as pure desire roared through him. "Padme... oh Padme..."

Her seething appetite for him was relentless. She adored the heady male taste and scent of him, the way he pulsed over her tongue and the way his breathing hitched, signaling she could drive him clear over the edge into oblivion if she wanted. And she did. She wanted to suck him dry, draining all that was hers, swallowing it all... every drop of his essence until he could only lay there and praise her efforts. But not today. No, she wanted to enjoy their time together longer than finishing him off now. "Husband," she noted sweetly upon lifting her eyes, her hand still curled around him. "I'm not done with you yet."

His chest heaved as he stared at her, worshiping her with his intensity. "As you wish, milady."

"Ani, is this room..."

"Sound-proof, yes."

Gazing past him at the door, Padme lifted her hand, aimed at the wall-mounted panel. She projected the Force, pressing a button that turned a green light red, locking the entrance to Anakin's private chamber. "We wouldn't want any interruptions."

Oh how he loved it when his Padme wanted to be bad. "I wouldn't care, nor would I stop."

She didn't doubt him one bit. "Sorry, I'm a privacy girl," Padme announced wearing a smirk. His eyes watched her the captivating sight of her sliding over his lap, straddling his waist, and then pressed the tip of his cock to her warm entrance before sinking down until she utterly possessed him. Bending over, bracing her hands on his upper shoulders, her hips began to slow-grind back and forth. She swayed above him, the gentle bounce of her breasts in time with rocking over his lap. The sheer sense of fullness left her so entranced by him she could barely stand the pleasure, drunk off the salacious thirst of possessing him inside her. And when his strong hands roamed over her thighs, and then anchored her hips, squeezing them as she rose and fell the carnal hunger in his eyes boldly inspired her to ride him harder. "Ani, you feel so good inside me," she gasped.

"You feel incredible, Angel. I love you so much." His hands filled with the sweet globes of her backside, clutching her tightly, driving her down on his cock deeper until she threw her head back exposing the regal column of her neck. Writhing contractions around him grew tighter, fluttering such heat on her every wicked descent. Padme was a goddess above him, the thick curls of her hair framing that beautiful face he so loved. Her eyes closed, face locked in passionate concentration as she rode him on and on seeking her climax. The blades of light shown through the blinds fell upon her body in a ethereal glow. Her carnal skill was his ultimate narcotic, forever addicted to how incredible she was at making love. "My Angel."

"Always... always yours," she swore before covering her mouth with his hard, even as his upthrusts lifted her high and then drove her back down hard on his cock. The hard, wet slaps of their bodies coiled such building pressure within her. He felt so big, and that razors edge of pleasure/pain erupted until she slammed down hard one him one final time and came so hard her entire body shook violently over him. His arms embraced her through jerking clenches around the hard shaft buried so deeply inside her. The lustful sounds she made weren't lady-like at all, but were of a woman who'd taken what she wanted while enjoying every second of it.

"Beloved," Anakin declared, holding her snug in his arms while she rested over his chest. Still joined with her... still so hard, and yet filled with such pride that he alone could reduce her to this. "I'm that great, huh?"

"Hey," Padme panted, lifting her head from his shoulder. Her gaze was filled with mischief. "I did all the work."

"And had all the fun."

"Oh, so that wasn't fun for you?" she smiled brushing her lips over his. "I could keep going you know." To emphasize her point, she rolled her hips in a tight circle, eliciting a low growl from his lips. "Mine," she asserted by riding him once more until he withdrew from her. "I said mine."

"Turn around."

Padme blinked... Between her thighs, her sex trembled... she did as she was told, moving onto her knees, turned away from him, her hands braced on the cushioned pod seat. The sound of his breathing left her wet...She felt so exposed... so wanton... and needed him back inside her more than her next breath. "Take me."

She felt his lips press softly to her lower back... she shivered, his hands now caressing every inch of her body. His tongue trailed wetly up her spine before sprinkling kisses over her shoulders, shooting tingles of pleasure through her. With her eyes shut, she allowed him all the time he wanted to simply touch her... canvass her body any way he pleased, all the while reveling in his intense hunger for her. And then she felt the head of his cock pierce her flesh in one hard thrust, forcing the very air from her lungs as he filled her fully.

Bending over her, Anakin snarled along the shell of her ear, "Mine!"

Curling her right arm over her shoulder, she gently cupped the back of his head when his teeth bit into her neck. Her sex clenched hard around him as the most lustful grimace wrenched over her face. "Take me so that I never forget."

Padme knew the psychological power of words. And she knew her husband. Knew his possessiveness and his ravenous longing for her that could never be sated. That was why the first body-jarring thrust caused her to cry out his name, "Anakin!" That was why the next saw her head dip low as his hands gripped her hips, while his own impacted loudly into her from behind, driving himself deeper.

"My Angel." Whispered over and over as he claimed his wife, lost in the tight sweetness of her. She hissed softly when he withdrew to the tip, and then groaned when he lunged back inside. Leaning over her back, his hands filled with the gentle swells of her breasts as his lower body rocked into her, colliding with her backside as her flesh parted for him alone. He brushed some of her hair aside and then began suckling her neck while thrusting into her. Taking her this way, now with his right hand between her thighs, stroking her clit while fucking her often drove her crazy.

"Ani... Oh gods... Ani..." she wailed as twin fingers swirled over her clit while her body trembled around the hard flesh thrusting into her. Her body tensed as she grit her teeth hard. Her body shuddered, surrendering to the thunderous impacting surges of her husband taking her harder from behind. Teetering on the brink of a body-throbbing orgasm, she vigorously slammed back at his thrusts, their skin slick with perspiration.

"Let go, Padme."

She did that very instant, her entire body jerking violently through a writhing serious of orgasmic tremors that tore through her... with only her husband's name escaping her lips. Her mind wiped of coherent thought, she didn't even realize until she was on her back that he had lifted her over, and then her mind exploded with the jarring thrusts of him as he took her so hard, overcome by love and lust and his raw need for her always. She clung to him now, her legs curled tight around his waist as he fucked her. Erect nipples blushed pleasurably over the hardness of his chest. He glided into her with deep strokes, his mouth drinking her the side of her throat, while the muscles in his legs and back rippled above her. "I love you... Oh Gods, I love you... I love you, Ani."

Her husky moaning in his ear accompanied the rhythmic sounds of flesh slapping. He gazed into her passion-clouded eyes, noting the purse of her lips and the flush of her cheeks. She was the most beautiful, most desirable woman he had ever known. And she was his. Always his. Bending down, he swallowed the hard tip of a nipple, drawing deeply as her hand cupped the back of his head, holding him to her. His tongue swirled wetly, suckling and lapping until he favored the other with the same sensual attention.

The wet rasp of his tongue paying homage to her breasts saw her breath ease out in soft gasps. He fucked her with an urgent need, pushing her body over the carpet. She felt taken, sore, feminine, possessed, wet, hot, and so damn alive... more so than she had ever felt before. The love he felt for her, she experienced through their Force-bond. It was beyond words. Equaled only by her own for him. And then he covered her mouth again, kissing her relentlessly, their bodies rocking into each other, fucking intensely.

"Anakin," she cried out around his tongue in her mouth. She felt him trembling all over and knew... her teeth gently nibbled his ear lobe as she whispered how badly she ached for him to cum inside her.

Her name roared from his lips as hotly as his seed poured into her in a series of violent ejaculations, gushing wet warmth deeply inside her until he shook one final time, gasping for breath. She held him tightly, peppering his forehead and face with tender kisses, pledging her undying love as their sweat-slicked bodies began to cool. All that could be heard was the sound of their breathing and soft kissing in the dark.

Moments later they laid side-by-side, still nude. Padme covered her face, grinning wildly, still shocked she actually had sex with her husband, a Jedi Master inside the Jedi Temple. Loud, outrageously great sex. "Are you sure this place is soundproof?"

"Yes, Angel. Though I'd be more worried about us losing control of our mental Force-shields than if anyone heard us." The mortified expression she wore made him laugh as he drew her to him, embracing his love. "I'm teasing. I've become quiet proficient at Force-shielding my thoughts. No one will suspect anything more than your blush tells them."

"And I'll probably blush all the way back to my shuttle transport," Padme noted, pressing her face shyly into her husband's chest. "Still, it was worth it."

"Yes it was," he kissed her again, adoring her. "Feel free to drop by the Temple at any time to visit me."

"Oh no, Master Jedi. This was a once in a lifetime occurrence."

"Like your office was?"

"Well..."

"And the balcony on Varykino?"

"Uhm..."

"The elevator at 500 Republica?"

"... you have corrupted me, Ani," she smiled and smiled as he promised her many more years of happy corruption and his undying love.

Jedi Council Chambers

Jedi Temple

Galactic City, Coruscant

Wearing a most contemplative expression, Obi-Wan carefully read over the information on the data-pad held in his right hand. The quiet of the empty Jedi Council Chambers afforded him some much needed alone time as he charged back into Jedi business, ever thankful his advisory role in the Galactic Senate was put aside for the moment. The rampant lawlessness roaring through the Outer Rim worlds was ever increasing, while crime in the Republic appeared to be stabilizing at long last.

Obi-Wan was certain most of that was due to the reformation of the Galactic Senate and the crippling effects of the Clone War that would probably take years to fully recover from. No matter though as any good news was graciously accepted. Master Yoda asked him to review the happenings in the Outer Rim with a particular eye towards the Hutt Clans and recommend a course of action.

Going over Master Plo Koon's very detailed report, he couldn't find reason to spare what Republic forces were available to assist the Outer Rim worlds who were not a part of the Republic to begin with. The murderous Hutt Clans and the Mandalorian terrorist group Death Watch had turned the Outer Rim into a war-zone, but they've maintained a distance from the newly reunited Republic. Obi-Wan was certain the day was coming when a greater presence would have to be centered in the Outer Rim, but with the Senate Trials approaching fast the Republic had to manage its scarce resources and focus upon itself.

The rebuilding process had only begun. The scars of war would take many years to heal.

Setting the data-pad aside, Obi-Wan began gently massaging his temples. Meditation earlier hadn't relieved him of the mild headache that's plagued him all afternoon. His counsel on the Outer Rim's resurgence of violence wasn't due for another two days. The other tasks assigned to him weren't immediate or life-threatening as Supreme Chancellor Organa was well informed on the Jedi Council's stance and preparations for the upcoming trial. He hadn't begun the search for his next Padawan yet as time hadn't afforded him such luxury.

He could do that now if he wanted.

But if the legendary Jedi Master was completely honest with himself, his restlessness was due to a certain dangerously beautiful ex-bounty hunter who's mere presence in his life, coupled with the fact that he was no longer emotionally shackled, was driving him a bit crazy. And to think... he'd always assumed Anakin would complete that particular task.

Enjoying a wistful sigh, Obi-Wan rose to his feet while peering through the broad transparisteel glass hub overlooking the immense grandeur of Galactic City. Three years of wartime left the return back to what resembled normalcy for Coruscant a tougher than expected adjustment to deal with. His life during the war consisted of traversing the galaxy with Anakin in relentless pursuit of Count Dooku and General Grievious. The Jedi Code gave his life order and purpose. His existence had meaning that was clearly defined no matter the personal wants he tried hard to deny he ever had. All else was inconsequential.

Duty was life.

But now so much had changed and was still changing within the galaxy... the Jedi Order... Anakin's life... and his own.

"Are you brooding?"

Having sensed Anakin's Force-presence a moment ago, Obi-Wan didn't both turning around. Still, a familiar grin tugged at his lips. "This is my contemplative expression. Can't you tell after all this time?"

Moving to his side, Anakin leaned back against the glass wall, his arms crossed, watching his former Master closely. "I didn't notice you grazing your beard. That usually accompanies your contemplative expression."

"Maybe I've outgrown my beard grazing ways." A smile of dear friendship crossed the Jedi Master's features. In Anakin's presence, the newly appointed powerful Jedi Master's Force-perception was quite curious in mood. "Why am I sensing such euphoria and glee from you?" Before Anakin could answer Obi-Wan caught sight of Padme's official shuttle and security escort speeders breaking free from the Jedi Temple docking spire, zipping away into the sunset.. He turned sharply to his smirking best friend. "I don't want to know, do I?"

"Yes, Obi-Wan," Anakin teased, resting a hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder. "You do want to know so that you may duplicate my devious ways and enjoy yourself for once."

"I enjoy myself," he quickly defended. Anakin didn't look convinced. "But I am well aware that there is a time and place for all things." Then he grazed his beard, noting Anakin's amused expression. "And the Jedi Temple is not the place for your intimate liaisons."

Anakin ignored that last part. "Things have changed, Master. We've neither avoided nor failed in our duty to the Republic. Our dedication to the Jedi Order during the war was undeniable. But now we are free to pursue personal relationships that I can tell you from experience greatly improve your quality of life."

Obi-Wan wasn't sure he wanted to discuss what was bothering him, even though at the same time Anakin was exactly the person who knew him best. "Now why are you adorning me with that bit of wisdom?"

The Chosen One favored his former Master with a sly expression. "We have attended meetings today on all Jedi affairs, so there's nothing more that needs to be said. Our assignments have been given and we are current on all events pertaining to the Order and the Republic fleets deployment throughout," he asserted despite the frown of disapproval Obi-Wan wore. "Its time to talk about this date you have with Sabe."

Obi-Wan shook his head, facing away from Anakin. "As you have enjoyed reminding me many times, I am older than you. I would think I am well versed in most things involving women and my relations with them."

"Siri and Satine were both amazing women, but the Jedi Order meant more to you than either of them. Otherwise you would have followed your heart."

Old pain churned around Obi-Wan's heart at the mention of his two lost loves. One to the hereafter, and the other to duty. He sighed, "Rebelliousness doesn't live within us all."

"Nor does it have too," Anakin replied. "Master, I don't want you to change your ideals or your character. But there is so much more to life than just being a member of the Jedi Order. The Force, in its infinite wisdom and mystery has heralded a time of change. And we all must change with it."

Though he heard the truth his in friend's words, Obi-Wan struggled with a life lived far differently. He had always been flirtacious to an extent, and knew his wit had charmed more than a few women throughout his travels. But the Jedi Code was his life... all of his life... until now. "I asked Sabe out, Anakin. What more would you have me do?"

Moving around one of the chairs, Anakin sat down to address his former Master. "Why did you ask her out?"

"I... she's... there are many reasons," Obi-Wan's voice faded just a touch. "I must admit seeing you and Padme so happy with your children has created a sense of... something within me. Something that I've long ignored and acccepted was not in line with my life as a Jedi. Both Siri and Satine challenged my resolve, but at each critical moment I chose the Order over the wants of my heart."

"Its not that I blame you," Anakin understood. "If you're raised and taught only one way to live, of course that will govern a great deal of your desicions. But life changes. All things pass into new. You taught me that."

Obi-Wan nodded as a sense of gentle awe came over him. He had truly raised and guided Anakin to become the man he was today. And now he was learning life-lessons from his former student. What greater prize could there be for a teacher? He began to graze his beard as Sabe came to mind, smiling. "She's infuriating."

"The most amazing women are," Anakin noted with a grin as he thought of Padme. "Continue."

"Her methods are clever and unorthodox," Obi-Wan added in a tone of admiration far more than being critical. "Sabe's mind is sharp and her approach is often bold." His face broke into a bright smile. "She's wild..."

"That she is," Anakin agreed while thoroughly enjoying his best friend's obvious interest.

Obi-Wan found the moment so startling, that he of all people would be discussing a woman he's falling for in the Jedi Council Chambers no less. "Her actions are unpredictable, but her heart is always in the right place. She masks her serious intent behind bravado. Her dangerous charm is..."

"Intoxicating?"

Obi-Wan arched a brow. "I seem to recall you using that word once upon a time to describe being in Padme's presence."

"It applies just the same."

"'I'm very attracted to her despite our obvious differences," Obi-Wan acknowledged. His voice turned wistful. "I sense her attraction as well, though we bicker constantly. And to be perfectly honest, its the most fun I've had in a long, long time."

Obi-Wan added after a long pause, "Sabe challenges me."

"Don't you finally see that even with your feelings for Sabe your focus, duty, and commitment to the Order aren't challenged?"

"Something tells me you've wanted to relay that particular message to me for years," Obi-Wan shared a smile with his former Padawan. "I'm not debating if it was a mistake to ask her out or if I have feelings for her. I definitively know the answers to those questions."

"Then you need to accept and make peace with the fact that all things change, Master," Anakin relayed. "Even our lives. Nothing ever remains the same. Now please do not look to me for sage wisdom as there is still so much more I need to learn about... well, just about everything. I someday want to be as good a Jedi Master as you are."

"As I someday want the courage to follow my heart as you did."

Anakin gave a nod, smiling. "Be patient with Sabe. Her history is... painful, from what I gleamed from my wife."

"Anything you can share?"

"Nothing that I even know for certain. Padme only told me that Sabe's return to Coruscant was the beginning of a new life for her. She's been running from something for a very long time. Something really bad from her past."

"I'll keep that in mind and not push," Obi-Wan replied. "She's a wonderful woman."

"That she is." Rising to his feet, Anakin motioned towards the door. "Now lets celebrate by having a drink and tossing Jo'Seth Coral out of the nearest air-duct."

"No, no, no" Obi-Wan defended Ahsoka's boyfriend as he exited the Jedi Council Chambers with Anakin. "The boy's alright. You must learn to change and accept that change."

Anakin didn't like the mirth lacing his best friend's reply. "I know what you're doing. Stop it."

"I'm not doing anything. But we mustn't live in denial. Ahsoka's boyfriend is in her life now. R2 has loose wires. These are facts. Things change."

Talk of anything being less than perfect with his astro-droid was simply unacceptable. "You're not funny, Ben."

Obi-Wan continued. "Jo'Seth seems to find my brand of humor amusing."

"I wonder if that air-duct I'm throwing him out of is big enough for two?"

"The Temptation"
Sabe's personal starship Cruising the Entertainment District

Evening

Galactic City, Coruscant

Padme, ever regal even while blushing furiously gave no outward reaction to Sabe's risqu claim. "My trip to the Jedi Temple earlier today was in no way, shape, or form a... what did you call it?"

"A booty-call," Sabe snickered while expertly weaving her personal starship through Galactic City's high-speed repulser traffic lanes with the Vice Chair's security escort shuttles racing to keep up. "When the only reason two people get together is to screw each other's brains out it s routinely referred to as a booty call. And you most certainly indulged in one today."

Sparing a mild glance at the constant barrage of text-messages her security detail were sending to her wrist-com begging for her to make Sabe slow down so that they could catch up, Padme enjoyed the incredible metropolis by nightfall. "I simply felt the need to see my husband and..." her train of thought ebbed back to her sultry encounter with Anakin earlier. She couldn't help but to snicker a bit at her brazen attitude about it all. There was such freedom in allowing the confidently feminine side of her out to play for a while. Stuck-up and frigid, words once used by an angry HoloNet news columnist to describe her persona were so far beneath her now she couldn't even remember the hurt they caused. Well manicured nails softly trailed over the velvet armrest. "Maybe I was feeling a certain urge."

"Ohhhh Mrs. Skywalker!" Sabe couldn't help teasing, her tongue rolling round her mouth. "Are you finally admitting you're not as proper and prim as the galaxy believes? That maybe just maybe you're as naughty as the rest of us?"

Chin held high, Padme merely batted her long lashes. "Absolutely not."

"Yeah right," Sabe chuckled as she dove her ship through a long row of sky-taxi's, eliciting quiet a few blaring horns as she sped past the towering spire of the Bonadan Embassy. Ignoring the pre-programmed route her repulser lane offered, she enjoyed the rush and danger of navigating Galactic City's immensely visceral night traffic the old fashion way. And without Jedi reflexes she felt particularly bad-ass. "So how is Anakin? He turned to the Dark Side yet?"

"He's getting there, but not quite yet," she joked. While texting her security detail that everything was fine and their current destination had not changed since the last time they checked in, Padme continued, "Ahsoka's new boyfriend has him on edge, though he's trying hard to act like it doesn't bother him."

"He's going all fatherly on her, isn't he?"

Padme gave a nod while enjoying their new nightly ritual of unwinding through a fast joyride around the city. "I remember well how much he hated it when Obi-Wan was so critical of his actions and how he wanted respect and trust as he grew older, yet with Ahsoka he's acting the same way. She doesn't need him as much as she used too, and that bothers him. She still seeks his approval, though he fails to see it. She's growing up and expanding her horizons."

"With boys."

"Exactly."

"Boy's who want to have sex."

Padme gave as shudder. "I doubt Ahsoka is anywhere near contemplating such an endeavor."

"Still, your hubby's gonna have to back off and let her grow up."

Padme nodded as the luxurious Novaplex Hotel, with its thousands of brilliant lights lit up the night sky. "I met Jo-Seth in person today."

"Is he kissable or killable?"

"Handsome. Possesses a boyish charm. A gentleman who is not insecure or put off by Ahsoka s war-hero status or connections. Pretty eyes. I sensed a great deal of affection for her from him. I found him sweet."

Such innocence... Sabe couldn't recall the last time she'd felt that way about anyone. Not since before the... She willed the familiar ache away. "He better be good to her or the line waiting to cut his head off will stretch from here to Cloud City."

"Rest assured if he got out of line Ahsoka would take care of it herself. But I have a good feeling about Jo'Seth. And Ahsoka is so excited about her date for the Ball." Mentioning the Coruscant Galactic Republic Ball was a way to hopefully bring the event up to her friend. Getting Sabe to open up was tricky business at best. "Have you gone shopping for a dress yet?"

"I bought two new guns today. Does that count?"

Padme fired a glare, but then recoiled as she understood some things with Sabe would take time. "With the Senate Trials approaching, the Republic barely holding together after the war, numerous worlds still in dire emergency need of food, medicinal, and rebuilding aid this ball is but one blip on a vast galactic stage. But it s a night away from all the hellish turmoil and the hard work ahead. It s a reminder to the people that things are changing for the better and it'll benefit many, many worlds. So while this ball doesn't rank in terms of the most important tasks ahead, it s a night to enjoy yourself that I am greatly looking forward too. And so should you."

With Sabe at the controls, the Temptation deftly maneuvered through a giant spiral interchange at a dizzying speed, now sailing through a white-walled sky tunnel. "Look, I get that the big-wigs are gonna open their pockets and donate mucho credits to the needy. That's all well and good, but you just want to walk out in public with your honey looking all hot and make everyone who ever called Padme Amidala the Snow Queen eat their words and choke on them."

Her mouth opened for a moment, and then closed as it dawned on Padme that there was apart of her that was looking forward to publically shedding her old self even though privately she had years ago. As above it all as she normally was, the young woman inside her wasn't so above the hurt of being considered a frigid recluse who couldn't get a man, much less know what to do with one if she did. "Okay, so I admit that I'm looking forward to the ball because Anakin and I will be able to attend as husband and wife. We've been denied everything resembling normal since forever, and that night will be a first for us. There's a part of me that needs a night out not as former Senator Amidala or the Vice Chair of the Republic, but as Mrs. Skywalker."

"Then enjoy it."

"I intend too. But this isn't all about me."

"Of course it s about me," Sabe noted rather than asked dryly. She could feel brown eyes boring into her. "What?"

"That night represents something of a new beginning for the Republic. The new Senate's first public gathering post-Palpatine and it will signify things are returning to normal and that we are all united. Coruscant is a free world once more. It's Ahsoka s first date; my marriage's coming out affair, and your first date with Obi-Wan."

"Which will probably be a disaster of epic proportions?" Her on a date? Sabe suddenly needed something to punch and somewhere to run. Whatever possessed her to accept the date in the first place? "Ben and I are but trying to adjust to a new way of life. It s no big deal. He'll probably step on my toes when we dance and then I will shoot him, thus creating a scene the HoloNet will surely never forget."

"Ex-bounty hunter shoots Jedi Master on first date. Oh the horror," Padme laughed. "Or maybe time spent in such a romantic setting will spark..."

"Stop."

Padme sighed. "Dear, you returned here to begin your life again. No one is telling you how fast to move, but it is imperative that you move. And I can tell how much you like Obi-Wan. You protest far too much for it to be otherwise. It s enchanting in a way."

Padme was daring her to deny it. "Now you're teasing me."

"Its what I do," Padme replied cheekily. "Come on, admit it? Aren't you looking forward to spending some alone time with Ben?"

"... maybe." Sabe stare straight ahead, rounding a huge garbage scow at a blazing rate of speed. Damn Obi-Wan's ability to drive her crazy and make her want to kiss him senseless. "I don't know what I m supposed to do," she admitted honestly, if a bit fragile. "He gets under my skin and makes me want... he makes me think about things I gave up on years ago."

Padme's tone declared strongly and with conviction. "Your past did not cripple or break you. You are still a woman who can feel and experience anything she chooses," Padme said. "Those that hurt you, the best revenge is living a well and fulfilling life."

"I butchered all three of them."

The words hung in the air, a pregnant pause that remained as 500 Republica came into view. "You did what you felt you needed to do," Padme offered. "I don't judge or live in the past. But in the here and now you are free of all that baggage. So go have a great time with Ben. Kiss him. Enjoy his company. He's as fine a man as I have ever encountered."

Sabe's next words choked with emotion. "I can't sleep with him."

"Time heals all wounds. No ones rushing anything. Take all the time you need before broaching that subject."

"If I let him in and things don't work out... I just don't know if I would be able to deal. I don't handle loss well."

"Fear cripples the spirit. Courage sets you free. Trust in yourself and go for it. Have a great time and just be you. Remember, he has his issues as well. And it s only a first date."

Sabe wasn't one to hug people, but someday Padme would get a big one. For now she smiled and actually allowed hope to set upon her. The sensation was luminous. "You got time to grab the kids and come with me to the Shopping District?"

Now that's what Padme wanted to hear. "Are you going to buy a dress?"

"No, but I'll at least look at some appropriate attire."

"Let's go," she smiled.

"Thank you, Padme."

"You're most welcome."

"Just don't expect me to start making any Jedi Master booty-calls at the Temple."

Padme's expression was appalled as it was mildly wicked. "Don't knock it till you try it."

The End of Chapter 2

Chapter 3 - The Finale