Suspended by force fields, Obi-Wan Kenobi, with the part of his mind that was free, wondered for the thousandth time if Republic forces were out looking for him. He might very well have been declard KIA – killed in action. It hardly mattered, Obi-Wan thought regrettably, since his life probably wasn't going to last much longer. Tears threatened to spill when images of Anakin and Padme came to his mind, the two most important people in his life, the ones that gave his life purpose. He wished he could've held them each in his arms one last time. He wished he could kiss Padme and look into her brown eyes. He wished he could see his padawan's smile as he tugged his braid.
Obi-Wan also thought of the other important people that have impacted his life, and made him a better person. Going in chronological order, he thought Qui-Gon. Obi-Wan remembered when he was 12 years old, knowing that each day he wasn't chosen as an apprentice was a blow to his chances at becoming a Jedi Knight. And then at last, weeks before his thirteenth birthday, Qui-Gon chose him as his apprentice. Obi-Wan would be forever grateful.
Obi-Wan thought about his friends at the Temple, the ones he'd had since his padawan years: Quinlan, Garen, Bant, Shaak Ti, and, of course, Siri. Obi-Wan remembered when he and Siri fell in love when they were only 18 and 16 years old. He was glad that, even though they knew they couldn't be together, that their friendship had never died.
He remembered when he had met both Padme and Anakin. He also remembered how arrogant he'd been during that time. Qui-Gon had been the first to see Padme's strength. Obi-Wan had dismissed her at first, but then quickly saw her determination and sheer love for her people. And Anakin. At first, Obi-Wan had agreed with the Council, and was resentful of Qui-Gon's desire to have Anakin as his padawan learner. But then, it was Obi-Wan who took Anakin as his apprentice. And ended up enjoying every moment of the learning experience, even when his patience seemed to disappear.
And then came Padme. His wife. His soul mate. Oh, how he loved her. And he was blessed that he knew with all his being that she loved him, too. Obi-Wan didn't like to imagine how distraught she was, when she'd found out about what happened to him on Jabiim. Especially if he'd been declared KIA. It broke his heart to picture her alone, mourning for him. It wasn't right – Padme deserved to feel only happiness. Obi-Wan prayed to the Force that she would find it amidst her sorrow...
Obi-Wan hung his head, mentally and physically exhausted. He could barely concentrate, and have conscious thought due to the powers of the Sith Torture Mask he wore. Ventress was trying to break him, so that he would unleash his anger and prove that he was a worthless Jedi. She even tried physical pain, by making small cuts in his skin, letting the muscle maggots crawl into his body, eating slowly away at his muscles. He couldn't take any more.
You must stay strong, Padawan, you have a wife and a padawan of your own who love you and need you, Qui-Gon sent his words into the Force. He wasn't going to reveal himself to Obi-Wan the way he had to Padme, but he was going to help by keeping him strong - strong enough to find the strength to escape from this place.
A week after her encounter with Qui-Gon, it was early morning on Coruscant, but Padme was up. Anakin had just arrived at her apartment a few moments before, for he was leaving this morning for a mission to Aargonar, where he would fight in another battle with his new master, Ki-Adi-Mundi.
"You come back, Anakin," Padme fingered the tie to her robe. "Please," She whispered
"I will, Padme, I promise," Anakin said, holding her close as she wrapped her arms around him.
Padme rested her head against Anakin's firm, comforting chest. Her eyes tingled with threatening tears. Force it felt good to be held again. At that thought, her heart gave a little lurch. It scared her a little the affect Anakin was having on her. She was confused. She missed Obi-Wan terribly. It was his arms she wanted around her. But at the same time her heart was so grateful for Anakin's love for her. The lonliness sure would've crushed her without Anakin's friendship to comfort her.
A tear fell and she sniffled. Anakin pushed her a away to arms length.
"Padme, I can't stand to see you sad," He said, using the tender fingers of his right hand to wipe at her eyes. "Seeing you this way makes it so hard to leave you..."
"I'm sorry," Padme said, taking in a deep breath in attempt to compose herself and right her voice. "It's the just the thought of you in danger, risking your life..."
"Nothing will happen to me," Anakin said firmly. "If something happened to me who will be here to protect you?" He asked, being serious.
Padme turned around and hugged herself.
"Anakin, I don't deserve your friendship. It might be best if you stay away from me."
He walked up to her and put his hands on her shoulders. Padme couldn't bring herself to shake them off though she tried.
"What do you mean Padme? That's the last thing I want. I don't have much offer you, you deserve so much more-"
"Anakin, no," Padme choked on tears again. "You don't understand. I have secrets...secrets I haven't revealed to anyone, selfish as I am."
"Padme don't say that," Anakin said, firm again. "You're the most selfless person I've ever met, and that's the truth." He took a ringlet of her hair in his fingers and tucked it behind her ear.
Padme rubbed her eyes.
"You should go Anakin. I don't want to make you late. I'm fine."
Anakin stared into her eyes, not convinced.
"I promise I am," Padme said, putting her hands on his arms. "Please, don't worry about me while on your mission."
"Alright," Anakin relented. "Contact me if you want to talk though, about anything."
"I will. May the Force be with you," Padme said, looking into his blue eyes, which were a little more blue than Obi-Wan's. She gave the muscles in his arms a squeeze.
Anakin took her hands and kissed them.
"May the Force be with you, Padme," He said, and then he gave her smile.
Padme returned it, and then he turned to leave.
…Just remember what I told you, about staying strong…Padme remembered Qui-Gon's words, and vowed to do her best to live up to those words.
Three weeks later, Qui-Gon watched as Padme sat in her apartment with Arfour, Obi-Wan's astromech droid. She sat as Arfour projected the holorecording of her and Obi-Wan's wedding, and then cried when it ended.
Just a little bit longer, Padme, Qui-Gon wanted to say, to whisper into the Force. But he had faith, that she would be strong.
Anakin watched in horror as he flew over the planet's surface. It wasn't Rattatak, but the Force had called Anakin to this place. The Force had told him that Obi-Wan was here, and he was sure glad he listened, for as he landed, he watched as Obi-Wan, bloody and barely able to stand still prepared to defend himself against a handful of bounty hunters.
The ship touched the ground, and Anakin was out of his seat.
Not even taking the time to kill them - though he wanted to, he Force pushed the bounty hunters well out of his way and ran up to Obi-Wan.
"Anakin," Obi-Wan breathed as he saw his padawan run up to him, arms open.
Anakin caught his master as he collapsed, but he was so relieved that he was alive. Like he'd known he was the past three months, which had possibly been the longest and most torturous of his young life. He carried Obi-Wan to the ship as Ki-Adi-Mundi ran out to get Alpha, the clone commander who had also been captured by Ventress. Master Mundi also looked relieved that one of the most gifted Jedi in the Order had indeed not perished, but lived - against all odds.
Anakin brought Obi-Wan to the back of the ship, placing him on a cot. He quickly went and got two wet and cool rags - one for Obi-Wan's forehead and one to clean the rest of his face, for it was covered in blood - both dried and somewhat fresh. Anakin was going to kill her. Ventress. He didn't care about the code. Nothing could justify what she had done to his master - no feelings of peace and harmony which the code worked for. No, Anakin swore then and there, on his life, his master's life that he would kill her. If it was the last thing he did, he would kill her.
Anakin felt the ship take off, knowing that Master Mundi and Alpha were on board. As he gently wiped the blood and grime off Obi-Wan's face, he began to stir.
"Anakin," He said without opening his eyes.
"Master, please, you must rest," Anakin said quietly, taking Obi-Wan's hand.
He saw Obi-Wan take a deep breath through his nose, and then he was asleep. He placed his master's hand beside him, and then went back to tending the wounds on his face.
Obi-Wan awoke a couple of hours later, feeling better than he had in months. He still felt incredibly weak, tired, and in pain, but he was better now. He knew that he'd never have to go back to Rattatak again. Obi-Wan wished to go back to sleep, because the horrifying thoughts and memories from that place were forefront in his mind. But then turned and saw something that brought happy thoughts to his mind: Anakin, resting his head on his folded arms, sleeping. He'd fallen asleep watching over him. It was a small cot, and Obi-Wan knew Anakin had to be uncomfortable in the position he was in, bent over. Obi-Wan smiled a little when comforted with the reassurance that he knew for a fact that Anakin could sleep nearly everywhere.
Obi-Wan brought his hand up to the back of Anakin's head, so grateful for his padawan. Anakin opened his eyes, and then saw that Obi-Wan was awake.
"Master!" He leaned over and hugged Obi-Wan as tight as he dared.
Obi-Wan wrapped his arms around Anakin as well, and quickly heard the sound of his padawan's sobs, a sound that nearly broke his heart.
"Anakin, what's the matter?" Obi-Wan asked, not wishing to see him troubled.
"They thought you were dead," Anakin said, still crying into his master's shoulder.
"Who thought I was dead?" Obi-Wan asked, trying to keep his voice level and calm for Anakin.
He pulled back and looked Obi-Wan.
"Everyone. No one believed me, but I knew you were alive! For almost three months, Master, I knew you were alive, but I didn't know where you were and they wouldn't let me come looking for you."
Anakin couldn't go on as the tears rolled down his cheeks, which Obi-Wan wiped away as he shushed him.
"Anakin, it's alright now. I'm alright. And you don't need to worry, because we'll never be separated like that again. Neither of us will go through what we went through again, alright?" Obi-Wan, now having tears of his own, said to Anakin.
Anakin nodded through his tears, and hugged his master again.
Anakin supported most of Obi-Wan's weight as they walked toward the Jedi Temple. Obi-Wan was grateful that the only one's there to greet them were two healers and Master Windu. He looked toward the Senate Apartment Complex building, thinking of Padme, longing to see her.
A couple of hours later, Anakin stood in front of the bacta tank, looking at his master. He'd be in there for a while. He looked…like he'd been tortured. But, Anakin already knew this. Ventress was merciless. Had she been merciful, she would've killed him. But, either was merciless on Anakin's end. Anakin sighed and lowered his head.
"He'll be alright, Anakin," Bant said to him, her hand on his shoulder.
"Not for a long time. He can barely eat, he can barely use the Force, he's weak. It'll be weeks before he's fully recovered. Longer even before he can have his eyes open without being horrified by the memories." Anakin said, disgusted all over by Ventress' very existence.
"You're right, Anakin, it is going to be a long and difficult recovery. But, if your master is ever going to recover, you need to be strong for him. Your presence and influence will be greater than any healer," Anakin looked at his master's friend, and she smiled at him. He knew she was right, but still couldn't smile back. "Now go get some rest, Anakin. What would Obi-Wan be saying to you right now?"
"That I should be resting, but I can't, there's someone I have see first. Thank you, again, Bant," He gave her a respectful nod. "I'll be back later to check on him." He said, and then he left.
Anakin chimed the door of Padme's apartment, and then walked in. No one was in the living room, but soon Padme walked in.
"Anakin," She said, his heart swelling at the immense relief that shone on her features. Every muscle of her body visibly relaxed at the sight of him. He was happy to hold her as she came and wrapped her arms around his torso. "Thank goodness you're alright."
He closed his eyes, savoring the feeling of Padme in his arms. Whatever man got to hold her everyday would be lucky, more lucky than they would ever know. Anakin wished to be that man. He would love her and care for her everyday, and she would be happy. They would be happy. But, Anakin forced those thoughts aside.
"I'm fine, Padme. But, what about you? Have you been alright?" He asked, studying her eyes closely as she looked at him.
"I've been okay," Padme said. Anakin could see that she was lying. She hadn't been doing alright in the time since he last saw her. Was it because he'd left?
"Padme, you know that I'm always here for you, right? You don't have to be afraid of anything while I'm near." Anakin reassured.
"I know that, Anakin," She said, smiling a little. "I'm so happy to know that you're always there for me. Especially during this wretched war. It's making everything hard, even everyday life."
It wasn't the answer Anakin wanted, but he knew he couldn't keep the news of Obi-Wan's rescue from her any longer.
"Padme…I found him like I said I would. Obi-Wan is alive. He's at the Temple, they got started on his recovery right away."
Padme could hardly believe what she was hearing. Anakin was telling the truth, that her husband was alive and safe. She would be able to hold him again, and everything was going to be alright.
"Anakin," She said, barely able to speak for the joy she felt, feeling alive for the first time in three months, "that's wonderful." She wrapped his arms around his neck again.
When she opened her eyes, her arms still around Anakin, she saw Qui-Gon across the room, smiling.
Thank you, Padme mouthed to him.
"Don't thank me, thank the Force. It is what gave you and Anakin strength and hope," He said.
Padme smiled, knowing that Anakin couldn't hear. She closed her eyes again, stopping the tears of happiness, and indeed thanking the Force for Obi-Wan and Anakin.