Brown Eyes (Wishes of Fire)
A/N: Everyone, I'd like to thank you for all of your support and reviews. :) This has been an amazing experience, and I hope you stick around for the sequel. :)
IMPORTANT!: My YA, sci-fi/fantasy novel OCEAN OF EMPTINESS is now available on Amazon in eBook format for Kindle, Mac computers, (with free Kindle App) iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, and Android (with free Kindle App). If interested, please see the link on my profile!
Here's a short summary of OCEAN: Accused of a crime he didn't commit, fifteen-year-old Rayan Thorn, heir to an intergalactic shipping company, is fleeing justice. After taking refuge on a deadly stardust-mining vessel, he stumbles upon something unexpected: a Starmaid, a space-dwelling, mermaid-like creature whose capture is highly valued by the entire Andromeda Galaxy. Although at first determined to use the Starmaid Thallie as his ticket to freedom, Rayan finds that he's increasingly hesitant to expose her secret to the rest of the galaxy. After all, Thallie's the first and only real friend he's ever had. However, when someone kidnaps Thallie, will Rayan risk everything, including his freedom, to save her?
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Note: This is IT, everyone! The final chapter. Wow, that's sad. But the sequel/trilogy is already all planned out, so if you guys are still interested, please let me know.
Background: The Empire has recently been established. Vader and Padme have never met before. Vader is several years older than she is.
Disclaimer: Don't own, never will.
Epilogue: Hello There
Padme awoke in a warm, comforting haze. She smiled, feeling truly at peace for the first time in her life, and curled up further into the covers. A strong arm tightened around her waist and stomach, and she suddenly remembered everything that had happened in the past day. She grinned and turned slowly around in Anakin's grip to face her new husband. He was sleeping, albeit not looking quite as peaceful as she was, but as much as he could be under the circumstances. She traced his features, finally running her hand gently through his hair.
"Mmm..." He made a noise. "You can keep doing that," he mumbled.
She pulled away. "I thought you were asleep!"
"Apparently not." He opened his eyes and looked up at her, his gaze glowing dark and brilliant in the early morning light. She would never get tired of those eyes. His other hand came up, and his arm around her waist pulled her close to him as he kissed her slowly, longingly. He pulled away just long enough to mutter against her lips, "Love you, Smuggler."
"Love you too, Pilot," she breathed, and kissed him again, falling against him.
That afternoon, Padme heard the first word from Sabe and Jix. She was in the small sitting area of their hotel room, brushing up on the system and current economic status of Mandalore, when Anakin's com buzzed. Seeing Anakin meditate, she jumped to get it, but he instead used the Force and called it to him. Padme huffed and placed her hands on her hips.
"I had that!"
His eyes opened, and he grinned. "Not quick enough, Smuggler."
Padme rolled her eyes and returned to her seat. "You're going to get it for that."
"Looking forward to it." As she whirled around, her cheeks flushed, he answered the call shortly: "Jix, report." He smiled slowly at Padme, causing her to shake her head at him and bite back a grin.
"Jix here, Uncle D. So, listen, Sabe and I are hitched, and we're going to find ourselves a small place in the city today. Want to meet up?"
"Yes," said Anakin. "I need to make a trip to get some records, anyway. Meet me on Fourth Street and Seventh. Don't be late." He started to hang up, but Padme suddenly lunged out of her chair and dived for it, shouting, "Don't hang up, Anakin!" At the same time, Sabe yelled on the other line: "DON'T YOU DARE HANG UP, VADER!"
Anakin reluctantly handed the comlink to his wife, who was practically sitting in his lap by now, and pulled her closer to him. "Fine," he grumbled.
Padme beamed at him and said, "Sabe, are you all right?"
"Fine, fine. Yes. What?" Sabe snapped to Jix. "Fine is good. I'm great. Bleeding wonderful. I'm serious! Don't give me that look, mister!" She growled and said back to the comlink, "Look, I'm going to need some stuff from the city. Want to go shopping? I only have Jix's money, but it'll have to do. And yes, I'm using your money. No, you can't hold it back from me. I don't have any money. Why? Because I need some other clothes! And food! Good Force, man, you're driving me insane already. Well, deal with it. I'm your wife. Yes. Quiet, I'm talking to Padme. Padme? You still there?"
"Yes." Padme shot Anakin an amused glance as he played with her curls. "I'm here. Look, let's meet up in two hours? That good?" She shot a questioning glance to Anakin, who nodded.
"Works for us. See you soon."
Padme got up out of Anakin's lap, tossed him back his comlink, and returned to her seat. "Anakin," she said after a short pause, "I'm not sure this is the best planet to settle down. From what I'm reading here, it's quite possible there will be a civil war soon. Apparently the Duchess is having trouble overseeing her more hostile subjects. It seems some want a return to their less diplomatic ways."
"You admire her," observed Anakin as he returned to his meditative position.
"Of course. She's trying to keep her planet together when some want to rip it apart. She's trying to maintain peace."
"But at what cost?" questioned Anakin sharply. When she looked at him, puzzled, he added, "Mandalore is one of the outer-rim systems, so the Duchess doesn't often visit the Senate. However, I've met her several times, and I'm not sure she knows fully what she's doing."
"How do you know?" Padme demanded, feeling the need to support this woman.
Anakin raised an eyebrow. "Bounty hunters are rampant here, Padme. And the Duchess Satine refuses to do anything but attempt to negotiate. She will not enforce more strict regulations."
"You mean to control them?" Padme said, rising from her seat.
Anakin sighed shortly through his nose and closed his eyes. "Padme, listen to me. The only way you deal with bounty hunters is to kill them before they kill you. You don't negotiate with men who can't be reasoned with. Unless you've forgotten Boba Fett?"
Padme froze. No, of course she hadn't. "He was Mandalorian," she murmured.
"Yes. And he is only of many who share his idea of a good career. And the Duchess is so pacifist that it's to the point where she isn't protecting her own people anymore."
"So what do we do?"
"We stay here. For the time being. I..." Anakin fell quiet, frowned. His eyes still closed, he inhaled sharply, every muscle tensing, as if ready to strike. Padme bolted from her chair but didn't move towards him, afraid to break his mediation.
"Anakin?" she whispered. "What is it?"
A pause, then, "There's someone here," he said in a low voice.
"Here? In the apartment?"
"No. On Mandalore. Here, in the city. Someone... Force sensitive. Wait." His fists clenched, and she could hear the sound of metal sliding against metal as his droid-like fingers closed into a fist. "He knows I'm here. He's trying to connect. He's trying to get inside my head," he hissed. "I can feel him... Force, he's strong."
"Is he a Sith?" Padme grew pale.
Anakin frowned again; then, to Padme's surprise, released his fists. "No," he said after a long pause. "He's just curious. Guarded. He wants to know who I am. And what I'm doing here. He wonders if I'm a threat. He's... I don't know." He slowly opened his eyes and rose to his feet. "I need to meet him."
"Do you think that's wise?"
He nodded. "We'll see who this is. If it's an enemy, I'll kill him." He shrugged on a shirt and added, "And he wouldn't know me, anyway. No mask."
But Padme wasn't so sure. She just had to trust him.
A couple hours later, the pair walked down one of the streets of the city. The sun shined through brightly, but both wore cloaks. Anakin's gaze swept his surroundings, making Padme somewhat nervous. What if they were ambushed? As they started down a main street, Anakin suddenly tensed and put his hand on Padme's arm. She froze, but he murmured, "No, it's all right. Look ahead." Padme looked up the street to where a young woman was walking, surrounded by several guards on either side. "It's the Duchess," Anakin told her.
"She's out in the open like that?" Padme admired this woman more and more.
"Yes, the foolish woman. She comes to visit her subjects, try to connect. It sounds like something you would do," he said, a fond note in his voice. He caressed her back slightly and urged her gently forward. "Come. Keep walking. There are too many people around for her to notice us."
However, despite the fact that they slipped closer to the edge of the street, the Duchess suddenly glanced at them and started towards them.
"Oh, no," Anakin muttered.
The Duchess came up to them, smiling. She was beautiful, and elegantly dressed. Padme's heart suddenly ached for her old life again. If she were still a Senator, she could have long talks with this woman, as an equal. They could make a difference... or at least try to. Anakin's hand pressing on her back brought her out of her wishful thinking, and he and she both bowed before the ruler of Mandalore.
"Please, rise," said the Duchess. Her voice was strong and light, almost song-like. "Good citizens, how are you faring? Is everything well?" She smiled at both of them.
"Fine, thank you, milady," Anakin said with a nod. "I..." He trailed off and suddenly shot a hard, keen look to a hooded man on the Duchess's right, only a couple of feet behind her.
The Duchess followed his gaze, and frowned, puzzled. "Is something wrong, sir?"
The hooded man stiffened and returned Anakin's gaze - his eyes a mix of bright blue, green, and shades of violet. Very discerning eyes, Padme thought, startled. But not threatening.
"Who is that man, if I may ask?" Anakin questioned.
The Duchess now looked even more confused, but answered, "Sir, he is one of my bodyguards."
"He's more than that," Anakin said quietly. "He's your husband."
The Duchess's eyes widened, and Padme glanced up at Anakin wildly, wondering what the blazes he was doing.
The man's eyes narrowed, and he strode forward, saying sharply, "It's you." His hand went to his belt, behind his cloak. Oh, Force, Padme thought. He had a lightsaber. The man had a lightsaber. She couldn't see it, but he reached for it the same way Anakin reached for his. There was no mistaking it.
Anakin's eyes narrowed. "We need to talk. In private."
The man studied him for a moment. "Very well." He motioned to a nearby alley. "Over here. No one will hear us."
"But -" The Duchess protested, reaching for him.
"It'll be all right. You, stay here. Protect the Duchess," the hooded man ordered the guards, who nodded. Then, the man nodded to Anakin warily. "Come."
Anakin shot a glance to Padme and followed him. Padme stood there, watching him, and turned back to the Duchess. "I'm sorry. I don't know what's come over him."
"If he hurts my husband," the Duchess warned, "There will be consequences for you."
Padme very much hoped that Darth Vader wouldn't show his face today.
Anakin followed the man down the alley, until they were nearly at the dead end. The man turned around to face him and folded his arms over his chest.
"Who are you?" the man demanded sharply. "And how do you know the Force?"
Anakin knew this was his only chance. Making the first move of surrender, he pulled back his hood. "Because I was taught. A long time ago," he said.
The man paused, then asked, looking slightly less threatened, "And what do you want?"
"I want to learn," Anakin said.
"Learn?" said the man. "I sense something in you. Darkness. You've been taught much, but not what I have learned over the years."
"I want to learn the other way," Anakin said honestly. "I've been in the darkness too long. I want to know the light side of the Force. And I have a feeling that you might be able to teach me."
The man was silent for a long moment, then slowly pulled back his hood, revealing a man about ten years older than Anakin. He had long-ish red-brown hair with grey streaks near his ears. His clothes were simple, practical, and unassuming. "You could sense that she loved me," he said. "I can sense that you are powerful. But raw." His eyes narrowed. "Untrained in many ways."
"Perhaps. In the right areas I am," Anakin admitted, albeit begrudgingly. "But I don't think you've had complete training, either."
"No," the man said. "I haven't. My master died when I was young. I've taught myself for many years. But I've never had a student."
"Consider me your first." Anakin stepped forward, realizing that with this act, he was finally leaving his old life and personality behind for the last time. This was it. No going back. If this man agreed to help him, Darth Vader would no longer exist. At least, for the most part. Only time would tell. But with this act, Anakin knew he was leaving his old master, the Emperor, behind.
Anakin held out a hand. "My name is Anakin Skywalker," he said.
The man's eyes softened slightly, and he slowly uncurled his arms and took the hand, shaking it once, firmly. "Obi-Wan Kenobi."
It's finally over! Wow, that makes me incredibly sad. But if you're interested, there is a sequel! The story doesn't end here.
Let me know if I should continue! :)