Disclaimer: George Lucas owns Star Wars. I am not making any profit from this work of fanfiction.

Author's note: Set in my Freefall verse, but can be read as a one-shot.

Freefall Undertow

Anakin Skywalker is seventeen the first time he has sex.

And of course it's with his best friend. It has to be; she's been waiting for him, for years, and she loves him, and he loves her, too, but not like that, and then it turns out that what they both have is healthy young bodies and a lot of emotional need, and there's no knowing when or how the Force will bring Padmé back again, and in the meantime Ryn gives him everything and doesn't ask questions.

He holds out until her fifteenth birthday, because even if Ryn doesn't care and even though according to the customs of her own people she came of age years ago, he can't stand the thought of her being one of those girls who have sex too young and too soon because they can't see anything worth waiting for.

It's fifteen on Tatooine, not that anyone pays attention, and Anakin cares.

He doesn't make it to her fifteen birthday party; he's off-world on a mission with Obi-Wan. But a few days after he gets back, after they've had time to get used to each other again, he walks into her quarters and kisses her, without explanation.

Ryn gives him everything all over again and doesn't ask any questions, just opens her mouth under the kiss, letting him take whatever he wants, and it feels not so much right as inevitable that their first time should be together, discovering this without the commitments they don't dare make because they are not free, with no promises for a future they may never live to see.

Always in motion, the future is.

Ryn is surprised but eager when Anakin doesn't pull back from the kiss but pushes forward, skimming his hands up her ribs to lift the shirt over her head, and at first he doesn't understand what she's doing when she pulls away and catches his hands in hers, tugging gently with a grin lighting her face.

Then he realizes she has finally caught on to his intent - without words, but then they've never really needed words - and is pulling him toward the bedroom.

He's sheepishly glad that one of them had the presence of mind to realize that this is going to work better in a bed than on the floor; and just to show he's not completely obtuse, he picks her up and carries her to bed for their first time.

It's harder than he thought it would be; there's too much else he's feeling to sense the Force, and that means he can't use it very effectively to probe for what Ryn wants or needs or even what she's feeling (not that she's making any secret of that last; he'll realize, years later, that this warmth and eagerness, the way she responds to him, is not something you can count on in a lover). And he wants so badly to get this right, to make her first time good, a memory of sweetness and not of pain, that he tries too hard, much too hard.

And, anyway, somehow his fantasies always skipped over the part where they actually took off their clothes; when Ryn rolls away from him, sitting up and leaning over the edge of the bed, he thinks at first that he's done something wrong - that she has, inexplicably, changed her mind.

Then it dawns on him that she's kicking away her boots, and unlacing his, and he sits up, laughing, to help her, until they can both fall back on the bed together, barefoot.

After that it's not hard to get rid of their clothes.

Ironically, he's more frightened of the actual penetration than she is: afraid he'll hurt her, afraid it won't be what she's expecting, afraid he'll do it wrong.

"Are you ready?" he whispers, kneeling over her, trying not to breathe so damn loud.

Ryn arches her back like a kitten, and all of a sudden, even without the Force, the warmth of her presence washes over him.

She meets his eyes.

"I am so ready for you," she whispers back, and Anakin almost loses his control, but this matters, and so he moves closer and then stops at the last second to ask her again:

"Are you sure?"

Ryn reaches for him, hot and sweet and urgent. "I'm sure."

He feels her tear, hears the hitch in her breathing, and presses his mouth to hers, trying to kiss away the pain of his entrance. "I'm sorry," he whispers against her mouth. "Sorry, I'm sorry-"

Ryn winds her fingers in his hair and gently pulls his head back. "Anakin, I'm fine." She arches again.

"I can stop -"

"It's a good burn," she whispers, and flexes something inside to make him shudder.

But it's all over too fast, much too fast, and he isn't really sure what happens for women during sex, but he's positive that it hasn't happened for her.

He buries his flaming face in her shoulder and tries to think of a way to say, "I'm sorry," again without actually admitting what he's done.

"Sh," Ryn says, before he can figure it out. "It's fine." She flexes around him again. "It was good."

He doesn't believe her, but the look in her eyes when he starts to get up to leave, defeated, says she really wants him to stick around to ... cuddle, or something. And since he's ruined her first time, he figures he owes her one, so he settles back down on the bed, a little awkward, and they talk for a while.

The second time isn't that much better - they're both still sticky from that first attempt that he still thinks is pathetic, even though it doesn't seem to be bothering Ryn. He's still way too fast, although he does learn some interesting things about her body along the way. Like the soft little noises she makes if he slips a finger over her, right ... there.

He could listen to that all night.

Except of course he can't, because eventually all that touching leads up to actual sex, and ... well, if it's not quite as bad as last time, it's still not going be anything he remembers without embarrassment for a while. Years.

Years later, what he remembers is the look in Ryn's eyes when he stopped moving for a second and asked her, "Tell me what you need."

The third time that night, they finally get it right. He makes himself wait - and makes Ryn wait, too, even though she insists that she's ready - until she's trembling and crying his name and clutching at him in desperation, and then he takes something he learned from last time and pulls her hips up to meet him, just a little, and hears her gasp of shocked joy, a euphoria he brings back again and again because he's finally found what she needs.

He feels her tremble and then shudder and finally clutch and tug inside, like an undertow that pulls him after her, and he gives into it and kisses her through the aftershocks, while she's still incoherent with ecstasy.

She'll tease him later for his self-satisfied smirk at finally making it good for her - and she'll continue to insist that the first two times were good, too, just different - and he will decide that he doesn't care.

Because it was good, and they both feel it.

They are lovers - "friends with benefits," Ryn says, laughing, and almost manages to hide the shadow of pain her eyes that says she wants to be more - after that all the way up to the mission to Ansion that separates them for that final, fateful time in a way they can't put back together, because the next time they see each other, Anakin is married.

He never quite forgives himself for letting Ryn find out the way she did.

They never stop being friends.