Bail swept out of the room in the same fashion he'd entered. I sat in a kind of shock, his words echoing in my mind as I attempted to grasp the meaning behind them. I knew the weight of his words, and yet I didn't fully understand at the same time. Next to my own mixed emotions, I felt Vader's delight as he considered how this little twist could turn in his direction.

I snapped out of my stupor when I heard a thud, reverberating through the air. I jumped slightly, and my eyes glued to Obi-Wan. From the way he was rubbing his fist and cursing, I assumed that the sound I'd heard was him punching the wall.

"Why'd you do that?" I asked stupidly, relieved for a chance to end the suffocating silence.

"Impoluse," Obi-Wan muttered. He looked upwards and met my gaze. His eyes were intense and full of an angry fire I didn't often see in my former Master. "You know why he's doing this, right?"

I looked at him blankly.

"To get back at us," Obi-Wan explained. "He can't deal with us like a real man, so he's sending us off to be killed."

"Why does he want to get back at us? What have we done that's *this* offensive?" I demanded, feeling anger bubbling up inside my chest, burning me from the inside the same way I saw it in Obi-Wan's eyes.

"His wife is in love with me, and you took his alleged daughter." Obi-Wan's voice turned caustic. "Of course, he doesn't give a sith about either of them. It's all a matter of pride to him. Neither Leia nor Sabé where ever his, so why does he want them now?"

"Because he's holding on to the way his life was," I said quietly in a burst of insight. "And you're wrong about Sabé, Obi-Wan. He does love her."

Obi-Wan stopped the nervous pacing he'd started to stare at me. "Well, he has a damn funny way of showing it! Making her miserable day in and day out." He paused and shut his eyes tightly, as if he was overwhelmed by his emotions. When he began speaking again, his voice was strained. "I have an ongoing battle with myself to stay away from her. I love her, she loves me. Why can't the Force just let us be? I have worked my ass off for this galaxy. I've done so much more than all these people who get to be happy. I've been so much more then them. I want a chance at happiness, to have the rest of my life to let myself be with the one I love. Haven't I done enough already to satisfy the Force?'

I watched my friend and mentor crumble before me, let the walls tumble down and reveal himself before me. I'd been waiting for this, waiting for this chance to bond with him. Only now that it was here, I didn't know what to say, how to offer comfort to him. Was there anything I could actually do? The only things Obi-Wan wanted anymore were impossible for him to have. And it was all his fault.

Obi-Wan used that moment to regain control. He took a deep breath. "Look, Ani, let me be alone for awhile. To hell with Bail, let's blow him off today." He paused just outside of the door. "You may want to use this time to be with Padmé and the children. Who knows how much time you have left with them?"

Obi-Wan left, and I followed a few minutes afterward, feeling numb as I walked carefully back to my apartment. His words stung me, made me think of something I had been too busy to remember. The three most important people in my life, and I hadn't even thought of them. I opened the door to find Sabé and Padmé sitting at the table and talking. Luke and Leia must have been playing or out with Leia's body guard.

Padmé and Sabé stopped talking abruptly at my entrance. Padmé took one look at my face and rushed to my side, putting her hands on my upper arms. "What's wrong? What's happened?" she asked frantically, fearing the worse.

"Is it Obi-Wan?" Sabé added, holding a hand to her chest as if to slow her heartbeat, her eyes brimming with fear.

"Yes and no," I admitted. Padmé gently led me to the bed to sit down.

"Tell me what happened!" Sabé commanded shrilly. She looked torn between rushing to Obi-Wan and staying to find out what happened.

"Your kind husband is sending Obi-Wan and me off to fight against the Empire," I said bitterly.

"Bail?" Sabé gasped when it had sunk in.

Padmé's lips set in a harsh line. "Why is he doing this? I don't want you going away again, Ani. Especially not to go risk your life."

I clasped her hands in mine, ignored the sound of Sabé leaving the room. "Padmé, I have a duty," I said reluctantly. Her eyes blanked, shutting off all emotions. I tightened my grip, trying to keep her with me, to understand. "You know it too, Padmé." Impulsively, I leaned forward and burried myself in her hair. "I'll come back in one piece, don't worry. I've done this before, haven't I?"

Padmé disentangled herself from me slowly. She stood up from her kneeling position in front of me. "You mean you're okay with this?" she asked in a dangerously quiet tone.

"It doesn't matter whether I'm okay or not," I said. "I take what life gives me."

Padmé closed her eyes briefly. I realized that my simple statement had hurt her more than violence could. She opened her eyes again and leveled them on me. "Will you watch the children, please? I want to be alone, to think."

I nodded, trying to look as if I understood. Secrectly, I was glad that she wasn't kicking or screaming, running off to yell at Bail. Though her reaction was odd, I preferred it over what I had expected. She left quietly, leaving me sitting on the bed.

I let my hand hang in my hands, leaning on my knees. What was wrong with me? I didn't want this. I didn't want to leave. But there was a yearning inside of me. Yesterday I had fought with Obi-Wan and realized that that was what I wanted to do, I wanted to fight for good, I wanted my light saber put to good use. But what about Padmé? And Luke and Leia?

I felt a pressure building up inside. Vader was joyfully taunting me, telling me that maybe I didn't really love my family. I was secretly looking for a way out. Even if that meant death.

"Daddy?"

I jumped, not expecting to be interrupted. The twins stood in front of me, their angellic faces looking concerned for me. Why had I begun to listen to Vader? Even to believe him?

I reached out with both my arms and scooted Luke and Leia into my embracing, clutching them tight and drawing comfort from them. When I finally let go, they looked even more worried than before.

"What's wrong, Daddy?" Luke asked, his voice soft and caring. "Why are you feeling so bad?"

I struggled with trying to come up with a way to explain what was happening to a four-year-old. "Daddy might have to go away," I explained. "And I don't know if I'll come back."

"Why are you leaving?" Leia demanded, stiffening her spine.

"Don't you like us?" Luke added, looking a little hurt.

"No." I smiled softly. "I love you two and your mother. I'm not leaving by personal choice. You see, the galaxy is full of many bad people right now, and we have to fight to get our galaxy back into good hands. We're short of people, and it's only natural that I have to go. They might need me."

"I need you too!" Leia said suddenly, throwing her arms around my neck. I was surprised yet again. Leia usually kept cool, and though she let you know she cared about you, she didn't do it in the bursts of compassion that Luke enjoyed.

"I need you," I whispered as I kissed the top of her head. "More than I ever thought I would ever need anybody." It was true. I needed my family even more than I had needed my mom after we were seperated, after she died. But I also needed to be free. To be in the action of things.

"What about me?" Luke asked, his lower lip trembling.

I ruffled his hair fondly and pulled him into a group hug. "Yeah, I need you too, Luke."

"I know," Luke said, satisfied.

And I didn't doubt that he did know. But I wondered . . . if Luke was as perceptive as he sometimes seemed to be, what else could he sense about my inner turmoils?

* * * * *

Padmé didn't come back until well into the evening. I spent most of the day with Luke and Leia, playing with them. I hadn't gotten a chance to since I'd started working with the Jedi Rebels, and I even forgot about my problems for awhile.

As we were sitting down with a holo film, the doors opened to show Padmé. Her cheeks were red from crying, and her eyes were dull and lifeless. I immediately got off the bed and went to her, putting my arms around her waist and looking down at her.

"Are you okay, Mommy?" Luke asked, his bright blue eyes observing us both.

I nodded to him. "You guys watch your movie. Your mother and I are going to step outside for a few minutes to talk."

"Okay," Luke said compliantly, looking back at the holo. His eyebrows were knitted together in worry, and Leia was watching Padmé and me curiously.

I opened the doors and brought Padmé outside, holding both her hands in mine. "Are you really okay, Padmé?" I asked, keeping my voice low since we weren't technically in private.

Padmé's eyes looked up at me emotionlessly. "Are you going to go? Leave again?"

I looked away, let go of her hands. "I don't know," I said with a sigh. I ran a hand through my hair in frustration. "I don't want to. I've got you and the kids."

"But . . ." Padmé prodded.

"But," I said for her benefit. I exhaled loudly. "I just don't know, Padmé. You know me, you know what I'm like. I can't just stay in one place at one time and do . . . nothing."

Padmé nodded, biting her lip. "I know, Ani," she said quietly. "You have too much compassion in your soul, and you feel like you need to help the universe. But . . . couldn't you do that after this mess blows over? We can move to Coruscant. You could even help set up a new Jedi Council."

"If that's what you want," I said immediately.

Padmé looked miserable. "I want what you want, Anakin. I don't want you to choose a path that's going to make you unhappy just because of me."

I didn't know what to say, what to tell her, or what to choose. So I, naturally, changed the subject subtly. "Where have you been?"

"I went to Sabé's, to wait for her and think for awhile. When she came back, she told me that she'd talked to Bail. He's really doing this because he needs to, Anakin. He's going to be going too."

I raised my eyebrows. "What?"

"I know, but it shouldn't be so shocking. He was in the war four years ago, why not finish what he started? He's been planning this ever since the Empire came about. And we're short. Sabé and I would go too--"

"No, you wouldn't," I cut in harshly.

Padmé smiled faintly. "I said we *would* go. But Sabé has to take Bail's place in a way. She needs to represent Aldeeran, to address the people and keep them calm."

"And you need to take care of our children," I continued for her.

Padmé's eyes misted over. She reached up impulsively and kissed me softly. "Yes, I need to take care of the children."

I studied her face for a moment, unable to figure her out.

"Have either of you seen Sabé?"

We both jumped apart, surprised at the sudden intrusion. Obi-Wan was walking down the hallway towards us, wearing his somber Jedi robes.

"She should be in her room," Padmé said. "I just came from there."

Obi-Wan shook his head. "She's not there." He smiled grimly. "You already told her then?"

"I'm sorry," I apologized. "She was in our apartment when I came in, and she was worried about you."

Obi-Wan's lips turned up slightly. "Yeah," he said softly. "She's like that." He cleared his throat. "Um, do you think she might be . . . talking to Organa or something?" Obi-Wan's blue eyes hardened as he said the name.

"She already did," Padmé said. "How did you know she would?"

Obi-Wan shrugged. "I just know her, that's all. What did His Highness say?"

"Bail isn't trying to get rid of us," I explained. I shrugged. "He's going with us. We *really* are short of men. I knew so too, but I just jumped to conclusions."

Obi-Wan looked shocked. "He's going with us? You mean, he'll be in the same ship with us?"

"You've been living in the same palace with him for months," Padmé reminded him.

"It's gotten worse lately," Obi-Wan said. "It just keeps getting worse, and I'm getting to the point where I can't just let him yell it out without giving him a piece of my mind too. Someday we're going to be the end of each other."

"That's comforting," Padmé said sarcastically. She sobered. "You know what I want you to do, Obi-Wan?"

"What?" Obi-Wan asked warily.

"I want you to talk to Sabé again before you leave. I want you to tell her that you love her even if you can't do anything about it."

"Pad--"

"No, listen," Padmé snapped. "Sabé won't be able to live with herself if something happened to you, and I want her to be comforted while you're gone. You don't have to do anything to contradict your Jedi morals. Just let her know that you care about her. It's all she needs."

Obi-Wan sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "I guess I'll think about it." He started to back away. "I'll go find her now."

"You do that," Padmé said to his retreating back. She turned back to face me and before I had time to react, she took my face in her hands and kissed me passionately. When she pulled away, she was smiling. "I love you. Don't forget that."

"I'm not leaving today, Padmé," I said.

"Then I'll tell you I love you every day until you do," Padmé rationalized. She looked at me expectantly.

"Yeah, yeah. I love you too," I said, pretending to be forced to say so.

Padmé laughed lightly. She opened the doors, then turned around seriously. "You have to promise me you'll come back. And not just come back, but come back as you are now."

I kissed her softly; a kiss of promise. "How can I not when you and the children are back here waiting for my return?"

We entered the apartment, and I realized that what I said was true. I wouldn't let anything happen to me. In fact, I would probably rush the battle . . . all because of my family. I didn't want to leave them, but if I had to to make the galaxy a better place for them, then I would.

* * * * *

It was two weeks later that we left. The rest of our meager army were already on the ship. Since Bail was the king, he was allowed a few extra minutes to say good bye to his family. Naturally, Obi-Wan and I stayed back with him.

Sabé was discussing last minute business matters with Bail, but her eyes kept moving to look at Obi-Wan. I knew she wanted to say good bye to him. I could tell by the relaxation in her face that Obi-Wan had done as Padmé had instructed. Even Obi-Wan was looking calmer and more at peace.

It was decided that Yoda not go with us. He would stay behind and meditate. If the need arose, we had a special frequency just for Yoda. He would have a special portable comm unit with him at all times. He was talking quietly to Obi-Wan, on the floating device he used to be at a height to talk to humans.

I was with my family.

Luke was wrapped around one of my legs. Leia was watching with eyes brimming with tears. Padmé was hugging me tightly and whispering words of love and devotion.

"Don't leave!" Luke cried out.

Padmé kissed me one last time. "I love you, Ani."

"I know," I replied. "I love you too." I looked down at Luke. "I even love you, believe it or not."

Because Luke had gotten his father's attention, he loosened his grip enough for me to pick him up. He giggled, then went back to his melencholy expression. "You've got to take care of Mom, Leia, and Sabé for us, okay?"

Luke looked proud to be getting a job of such supreme importance. "I'll make sure they're well and safe," Luke promised.

"Take care of yourself too," I added. I kissed him on the cheek, and he wiped it away in mock-disgust. I let out a carefree laugh. "I love you, Luke."

"Me too," Luke said, embarrassed. I let him down, and he went to Padmé. "Oh, and Dad?"

"Yeah?"

"When you're gone, if you see Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen . . . will you tell them I'm all right? Aunt Beru worries."

"I'll do more than that, Luke. When I get back, we can all go visit your aunt and uncle. How does that sound?" I suggested. Luke's eyes lit up in joy.

There was Leia left now. She was still watching me with those intelligent brown eyes that showed she was well beyond her years. I picked her up too and spun her around in a circle so that her long, elaborate dress rippled in the air. Once I was done acting like a little kid, I cradled her close to my body. "Don't grow up too much while I'm gone, Leia," I whispered.

She nodded solemnly. One tear fell down her cheek, but she still didn't speak.

I hugged her tightly. "I love you so much, Leia. Remember that."

"I love you too, Daddy," she finally said, flinging her arms around my neck. I held her for a long time, until Bail announced loudly that it was time to go. I kissed her on the head and let her down. I ruffled Luke's hair and couldn't help giving Padmé one last farewell kiss.

As I turned around, I saw Sabé. Her eyes were dull as she watched Obi-Wan leave the platform. I reached for her hand and squeezed reassuringly. "Take care of my family, Sabé."

"Only if you take care of Obi-Wan."

"I'll bring him back safe and sound."

"Thank you, Ani." She gave me a smile that warmed my heart.

Then there was Yoda. He was watching me closely. "Many triumphs you will have," he said matter-of-factly. "Meditate for you, I will."

I grinned at him. "Thank you, Master."

That was the last of it. I turned and sprinted to the huge ship we were all traveling in. All of the people of importance, at least. There were two dozen other ships for our uses. I turned around on the rising platform to watch my family. Luke was waving fiercely at me.

I turned around to see Obi-Wan there, watching Sabé intently. "We're going to make it through this time," he said. He gave me a pointed look. "I'll see to it."

I nodded, regarding his expression carefully. "This time we go in as a team, and we leave as a team."

Obi-Wan smiled at me. I returned the smile. Despite my melancholy over leaving my family, there was a faint thrill that vibrated inside of me. This was what I had become a Jedi for. As the ship accelerated, both Obi- Wan and I left the platform. We were ready to begin this fight. We were ready to end what had sprung up so many years before.

What I didn't know as I walked with Obi-Wan was that there was something back on Aldeeran that might have made me stay, that might have kept me from the danger I was about to face, the final battle with Vader that was soon to take place.

Back on Aldeeran, Padmé's womb was blossoming with my child.

THE END -- TO BE CONTINUED IN: CHAINED TO YOU: BOOK FOUR -- COMPLICATED

Author's Notes and Thank Yous: I hope that none of you feel cheated out of an ending, because this is how it's been planned in my head for awhile. All fics must end sooner or later. As you may be able to tell by the cliffhanger ending, this really isn't the end of this adventure. Hopefully soon I will start Complicated, Book Four of my Chained to You series. It will start where this one ended, and it will have all of the characters' points of views.

Thank to all of you that have reviewed, and all of you that are still reading after the long bouts of time it took me to update. This was one of my favorite fictions ever. Walking away from this, I feel like I can relate to Anakin a bit more, after being inside his head, and I hope you feel that same way. I will cherish all reviews and compliments and words that helped me get through to this point.

I will see you again, hopefully, in the next chapter of the Skywalkers' lives. (And all of the other characters who get to help star in it.)

~Haley J. The Bat