Author's note: The events in this story take place just after Satine's story arc in the Clone Wars, so it is recommended that you view those before you read this, but not necessary. The same thing applies to my other SW fic, Old Wounds, though if you want to read (and review) that one, it will make me squeal like a little girl! This is my attempt to reconcile Kalinda, my OC from Old Wounds and the Duchess.
The title is from a song by A Fine Frenzy. Sadly, I don't own anyone but Kali and Stonewall. Extra points if you get the Star Trek reference!
Bomb in a Birdcage
Let me start by saying I don't know why I got so angry, I really don't. It frightens me, you know. I fancy that I have control of my emotions, that my love for Ben has little affect on how I go about my day to day life, yet now...I am not so sure. After the events on the planet Basrah it seemed that all was decided between us, that what needed to be said had been said and we were finally free to simply be together, as much as two Jedi can ever be together. For a few months I was happier than I'd been in a long time.
Then he left again, to return to the past, to Mandalore, and I felt myself breaking a little bit inside. Even as I write that, I feel scorn for the idea; I am not a winsome girl anymore, I am a woman grown and a Jedi Knight, those feelings should be set aside. Furthermore, whatever it is that Ben and I have is stronger than what he shared with her; I know this, but still.
Perhaps I am not as strong as I believe. Perhaps peace is a lie.
No. That is a Sith teaching, and I will not follow that line of inquiry. The illusion, I suppose, is that no matter how hard some may try, no one is ever completely in control of their emotions-we all have good days and bad days, I think.
It started with a bad day.
The Duchess had been brought back to Coruscant to speak with the Senate, which did not go as she'd hoped, I suppose. Actually, I didn't pay her much attention, as I was rather busy with preparations of my own, until Anakin came to find me. Of course I was in the Archives, gathering materials for my upcoming educational plans for the Jedi relating to my new found shielding technique, when I heard Jocasta Nu's quiet footfalls as she ushered the young man over to me.
"Anakin," I said with a smile. "How's it going?"
He shrugged. "Pretty good, considering. You look better than when I saw you last."
It was his usual brusque manner which I'd always admired. "I'm trying to figure out the best way to teach the shield to the others," I said. "Do you think you'd want to learn?"
"Eh, I don't know if it'd do me much good," he replied as he took a seat beside me at the desk where I'd spread my work. He picked up a datapad and began absently thumbing it. "Actually, I'm here on a...personal matter."
He inhaled deeply and looked at me, reminding me for a moment of the small boy that I'd met many years ago. "You've always been...present in my life, Kali. You and Obi-wan have, in some ways, been like a family to me. I know that the two of you have always been...close, and I just...want you to know something." He squirmed in his seat and refused to meet my gaze, uncharacteristically fumbling and uncertain.
"I mean, not that I'm presuming anything, or trying to make trouble, but I just think that you should be aware..."
I put a hand on his arm. "Spit it out, Anakin."
He sighed and nodded. "Duchess Satine is back in Coruscant."
"I know." The news had reached me last night, when her ship had docked and Obi-wan had returned to the Temple, more restrained than usual. We hadn't had a chance to speak properly. "And? Surely that's not what's making you so twitchy."
"I'm not being twitchy," he grumbled, picking up the datapad again and running his fingers along the edges as he spoke. "There was an...incident aboard the Coronet. Some things were said-Obi-wan doesn't know that I heard-and I just thought that you should be aware."
I leaned back in my seat, suddenly very aware of my heart thudding in my chest. "What kind of things?"
"I'm only telling you because, well, because if it were me, I'd want to know. And you've always been so….approachable." The poor boy looked stricken, but I could feel my impatience growing. Swallowing, I nodded and urged him to continue. "Anyway, a Senator named Tal Merrik took the Duchess hostage and threatened her life-naturally. And Obi-wan went to rescue her-again, business as usual. But-" He met my eyes at last. "After Merrik made it very clear that he was going to kill us all with a bomb, the Duchess said that she had always loved Obi-wan-"
My heart rate sped up and I felt my skin grow hot as he continued.
"-and he said that, if she'd asked him to, he'd've left the Order for her." We sat in silence for a moment before he looked at me. "I'm sorry, Kali. I just...like I said, I'd want to know if it were me."
It's not that I didn't know of her, of the time they spent together on Mandalore. He had talked about the mission, yes, but that was one detail he conveniently left out of his description of the events to me. Not that I blame him, I suppose, considering how I acted in those days. In any case, I was able to keep it together long enough to thank Anakin and begin to collect my materials, my interest in my project suddenly lost.
"You've been like...a really great aunt," he said as he followed me out of the Archives. "I just...well, I like you more than her. I mean, she's remarkable, but-"
I sighed. "Anakin..."
"I know, I know," he replied. We exited the Archives and I decided to make my way to my quarters to put my things away. "Just thought you should know," he repeated.
"Well, thank you for telling me," I said again. "But I think you might be over-reacting." We reached the lift and he gave me a knowing look.
"I'm not a little boy anymore, Kali," he said as I stepped on. "And I know more than you might think."
I did not respond, only gave him a tight smile as the door closed. Later, as I tried to meditate my feelings away, I recalled the conversation that Obi-wan and I had had after he returned from his year-long sojourn on Mandalore. He had been quiet and uncharacteristically humble, a sure sign that the mission had affected him deeply, and had asked to speak with me in private. The memory was clear.
Master Windu and I had just returned from a harrowing mission that had us leaping from system to system like Naboo swamp frogs, and all that I wanted to do was immerse myself in a hot bath for a few hours. However, Ben looked so stricken and I had sorely missed him, so we slipped off into the city together to one of our old haunts, a quiet cafe not too far from the Temple. After sipping on hot tea for a few minutes in silence, he finally met my eyes.
"What happened?" I asked.
He frowned and studied his tea for a few moments before he spoke. "It was a dangerous, difficult mission. We were on the run practically the entire time."
"I know," I replied. "Master Windu was concerned when we didn't hear from you for so long. I was, too."
His smile was tight. "Qui-gon was able to send a few messages here and there," he said. "But we were on our own, for the most part. Satine-the Duchess-was..." At this point he trailed off, his eyes taking on a distant look. I sipped my tea and tried not to think of how tired I was. "She was very brave, for someone who was clearly not used to being on the run, as we were. We lived off of the land, ate hand to mouth, and generally did not know if any of us would live to see the next sunrise."
I leaned forward, my tea forgotten. "I didn't know all that. I just heard that you were protecting this woman from the insurgents...Obi-wan, that's awful. I can't imagine an entire year of that life." Reaching out, I put my hand over his and met his eyes. "But you succeeded, right? She's safe and so are you and Qui-gon. You did your duty; that's all that matters." When he looked at me again, my stomach dropped, for I knew there was more. "What is it?"
He sighed. "Satine and I...we..."
My hand lifted; I felt my heart rate pick up, felt some unfamiliar emotion coil within my core. "What happened?"
"We were lovers."
We both sat in silence for a moment while I tried to sort through the tangled moray of feelings that had invaded my mind. Obi-wan watched me as if I were about to burst into flames. Finally I looked at him directly. "What happened, exactly?"
He shifted in his seat. "It was harrowing, as I said. We were thrown together on many occasions, and there was a stretch of two months where we became separated from Qui-gon. During that time we...we formed a bond."
I was silent; I had nothing to say. What could I say? He leaned forward and took my hand. "I care for her, Kali, but it was not serious, not in the end. When the danger was passed and she was safe, the feelings that I'd had for her fled. Master Qui-gon and I left Mandalore, and that's it." He studied me. "What are you thinking?"
It was a moment or two before I was able to speak. "What do you think?" He looked confused and I sighed. "I don't know, Obi-wan. I thought you and I...I thought that we were..." My eyes pricked and I turned from him, angry with myself for the tears that were threatening to fall. "I know we never talked about it like that, but I thought, you know."
"I don't know," he said, his voice quiet. "Tell me."
A deep, slow inhale brought me a semblance of calm as I regarded him. "I thought you loved me. Enough to stay faithful, even if you were in such a situation." I could feel the blasted tears coming again and suddenly found it difficult to breathe; I rose to get up from the booth, thinking only of fleeing. "I have to go."
"Kali." It was enough to stop me at the door, despite how much I wanted to run. He came to me, put his arm around my shoulders. "I missed you terribly, but I honestly thought we would never leave. The mission dragged on and on...and I was lonely. She was, too." We had somehow moved outside of the diner, to the shadowed alley beside it. He took my face in his hands. "But I came back. I made a commitment to the Order, and I keep my promises. You know that." He paused and frowned again.
"What else?" I said, afraid to hear the answer.
"I think we should stop this." To illustrate, he removed his hands from my face and held them at his sides. "It's too much. I can't...if I learned anything on Mandalore it's that emotions and duty do not mix well. Master Qui-gon and I talked about it, and he thinks that-"
I gaped at him. "Obi-wan, I'm not asking to be married to you! I just...I thought that we had something else. What about before? You told me you loved me. You told me you would always love me. It's possible to love each other and do our duty-why can't you see that?"
"I can't do that," he replied, his face tightening. "I just can't be that cavalier about it. I'm sorry, Kalinda, I truly am."
Anger coursed through me, for all that I tried to quell it. My mouth opened but no words came out and my mind was a blank void. Finally I was able to speak. "You are a liar, Obi-wan Kenobi. I just hope you realize it." With that, I hurried back to the Temple, thoughts of a hot bath forgotten as I found the sparring master and begged a session off of him-anything to exhaust my body enough to prevent my mind from thinking.