Disclaimer: It's George's sandbox, I'm simply destroying the sandcastles
Title: Every time We Touch
Characters: Barriss Offee, Anakin Skywalker
Era: Post Tragedy on the Landing Pad - post AotC AU; six months pre RotS
Summary: A long awaited discussion
Notes: Inspired by the song "Every Time We Touch" which belong to Cascada and is her property. The partial lyrics used here at the beginning of the story are used without permission and are in italics.
It will not be necessary to read "Tragedy on the Landing Pad" to understand this fic, however, it is recommended that you do so
'Cause every time we touch, I get this feeling
And every time we kiss, I swear I can fly
Can't you feel my heart beat fast
I want this to last
I need you by my side
'Cause every time we touch, I feel the static
And every time we kiss, I reach for the sky
Can't my heart beat so
I can't let you go
I want you in my life
Every Time We Touch - Cascada
Every Time We Touch
Jedi Knight Barriss Offee retired to her quarters on board the cruiser to which she'd been assigned for the last two years, and stretched as the door closed behind her. It had been just over five years since her knighting, four since she'd last seen Anakin and Obi-Wan, and another three since she'd been back to Coruscant or the Jedi temple.
Time had dulled the edge of her Master's death and while it no longer hurt, it would always ache - or so she'd been told. Officially, she had to rejoice for her Masters passing, to find solace in her faith in the Force.
Jedi, she felt, didn't understand what it truly was to grieve.
That… or they didn't know.
Death, they preached, was a natural part of life - except in this instance. A natural death wouldn't have hurt so much or left such an impact. The only reason Barriss knew about grief was because of the mission upon which her Master had died - or rather - the assignment before it.
Escorting the body of Senator Padmé Naberrie Amidala back to her home planet of Naboo had been an eye opening trip - in more ways than one. Barriss had been exposed to several emotional responses and personal firsts that she'd never had the opportunity to witness first hand - and she'd learned them from a fellow Padawan; Anakin Skywalker.
A smile tilted her lips - one she'd have never shown to anyone but him - and she shook her head at the memories. Passionate and confusing memories that were intertwined with their complicated relationship. They were friends, had been friends, since their assignment on Ansion, and Padmé's death had transformed that friendship into something more; something neither of them had been prepared for.
Anakin was everything she was not; undisciplined, rash... and a conduit of the Force unlike any other Jedi she'd ever encountered bar none. Until he'd lost Padmé, she'd had little inkling as to his strength and it had been revealed in stages - the most frightening of which had been on Tatooine when they'd become delinquent to their duties as bodyguards to a corpse to go after Anakin's mother.
Barriss shook her head; Shmi was something else.
Never having known her own mother, she still didn't know what exactly to think of Anakin's ties to his. Yet, there was something in her that felt the ties binding a Padawan to a Master were similar - at least in early development - as those a parents and child shared. Her Master's passing had been a difficult time and one she'd wished she'd been able to more fully share with Anakin. He, unlike other Jedi, would have been able to understand the depths of the loss she felt. In some ways it had been unfair that she'd helped him through his grief for Padmé only to have him torn from her when she'd needed his assistance to grieve for her Master.
Reaching up to remove her hood, she unclipped her hair in one motion and shook her head. The rustle of fabric behind her, one that didn't coincide with her movements, brought a split second reaction.
One moment she'd been at ease, her back to the door, the next she'd spun, the snap-hiss of her lightsaber igniting lost in the clash of it meeting another blade. A blue blade that resembled - ignited anyway - any other blade of her order, only the handles were specialized. Except she knew this one. Someway, somehow, this blade was familiar... as if conjured by her thoughts.
A grimace, marked only by a slash of white teeth, appeared in the shadows. "I thought I asked you not to call me that."
His voice was different; deeper, more mature but still held the same notes she remembered well from the previous years. Not that she hadn't heard him speak on the holo net when interviewed about his exploits - poster-boy of the Jedi indeed! - but in person it shot a bolt of awareness she'd thought to be dormant through her system. Truly, with their time apart, Barriss had believed she'd mastered the response.
Straightening, her lightsaber shut off as her hand fell to the side. "Padawan Skywalker."
"Are you sure about that?" Anakin eased from the shadows, and Barriss took a half-step back. Not only had his voice changed; he was huge! He seemed to catch the thought and a teasing smile creased his lips. "I grew up."
"So I see."
Unable to help herself, she looked her fill. He was handsome - and again the holo coverage didn't do him justice - and athletic, dressed in shades of black and grey that allowed him to blend into the shadows. One muscular forearm was visible as he clipped his deactivated blade to his belt and pushed a sleeve back with an absent motion; the other was covered in a black glove that disappeared under his shirt. His mechanical hand; just the sight of it brought back memories Barriss shook off.
His features had refined, the slash of his blue eyes a startling contrast to the deep tan of his skin. But it was his height that shocked her the most; she'd never dreamed he was at least a head taller than she based on his holos. That, and he seemed to radiate purpose; she could feel it, her skin tingling with more than just reawakened awareness. It had been a long, long time since they'd spoken in person and she'd missed him.
"What brings you here?"
"Five years ago, you made me a promise. Do you remember?"
"You've never let me forget."
It was as close as she'd come to an acknowledgment of their sporadic communications. Mostly they'd been written, forcing one another to take the time to read, but the odd one had been a holo and each and every one of them had done nothing to ease the ache in her center that yearned for his presence... among other things.
Five years had turned Anakin from an adolescent boy on the verge of manhood into a man. It would be several more years before her form changed any drastic degree. Compared to humans, her own species was long lived - she was older than Anakin even if she wouldn't tell him by how much. When he'd begun his training, she looked much the same as she did now - minus a few inches of height, some tattoos and a rounding of her figure. In the coming years, if she survived, she'd grow another foot or two, gain some length to her limbs and acquire more tattoos.
She had not, however, passed her culture's rituals for coming of age. Reluctant to face it without Luminara's guidance, she'd never returned to her home planet for the rituals and trials of first mate, choosing instead to focus on her Jedi duties. In all ways that mattered, she was as much a woman as Anakin was a man - and the way he was looking at her only made her more acutely aware of that fact.
"Is that the reason for your presence? You know my condition."
He reached into his belt and silently pulled something from it, extending it her way. Something long and dark, which appeared to be some kind of rope, lifted from his palm and floated her way - and her breath lodged in her throat as it stopped before her to hang in the air. Dark shades of blonde intermingled with brown, the braid - for that's what it was - having been creased where it had been tucked into his belt.
Anakin's voice was soft as she finally reached out to take the braid in her hands. "You owe me a discussion; I'm here to collect."
Lifting her gaze back to his, she was unsurprised to see the glitter of awareness in those blue orbs. Even that small use of the Force called out to her, drawing her forward... urged her to take what was before her; and there were no more barriers to prevent them. The evidence in her hand answered the question of his presence.
Anakin had been Knighted.
Mute, unable to form the words she knew he expected - he had, after all congratulated her upon her own knighting several years ago - she stared at him. His hair was still short, shorn in the way of a Padawans, indicating this was a recent occurrence and one that he'd wasted no time in bringing to her attention.
"Nexu caught your tongue?"
Without moving, his presence seemed to envelop her and her whole being stretched his way, the Force practically singing through her veins as if a spigot had been opened. The feel of it as it coursed through her system, reminded her of why this connection to him was dangerous - and why she didn't care.
Five years ago she'd turned away from him due to caste restrictions within their order and selected a path that brought them into contact as little as possible; it had resulted in long years of fighting on the outer rim - long years without him.
Anakin had been Knighted and come searching for her to see if the link between them blazed as brightly as it had when they'd formed it.
Unable to form the words, Barriss instead lifted one hand to him - and Anakin took it, taking the stride necessary to do so. His bare left hand slid into hers - and their connection leapt to life once more. Dormant from long disuse, it didn't change the potency of it, if anything, it was more concentrated; more demanding. It was as if the Force had forged a bridge between them, drawing them together in both mental and physical capacities. Their fingers interlinked for a brief moment and, while Force blinded, their lips met without further discussion.
Heat of another kind flared between them, feeding the Force link and pulsating drive between them. Anakin's hands delved into her hair, a sensation she was only peripherally aware of as their Force signatures mingled. His presence wrapped around her, penetrating to the very fibers of her being and she reacted unconsciously, stretching to do the same.
Her eyes were closed, her senses overwhelmed by the merging, and she clung to him blindly.
It was like being caught in the undertow of the ocean and being pulled out to sea, left to flounder as she grasped for purchase. Everything she remembered and more, the pure power behind the connection staggered and surprised her; nothing had prepared her for it.
Anakin pulled back first, lifting his head with a rough breath to look down into her face. The Force demanded more, pushing at him from all sides, encouraging him to continue on the path he and Barriss had begun years before - and were only free to explore now. But he wouldn't - couldn't - without her willing consent.
"Barriss." Her lashes fluttered and her eyes opened, dark pools shimmering with wonder and yearning that almost drew his head down. Almost. "Any doubts?"
She laughed shakily. "I'd forgotten how overwhelming it can be. It was never like this before."
"We were always fighting it before." His gloved thumb smoothed over her cheek. "There aren't as many reasons not to now."
"Maybe we should take this slow."
He exhaled raggedly, dropping his gaze to where her hands were on his chest - his bare chest. At some point during their kiss, her fingers had opened his tunic and partially pushed it from his shoulders. The ends hung down, unbound, his belt lost somewhere near his feet.
Barriss followed his gaze, her eyes widening as some part of her thrilled with the idea of being carried away to the point of immersion even as Anakin challenged her suggestion.
Could they take this slow? Their discussion had just proven the unlikely possibility of that. He wasn't a stranger, no matter his different appearance, and the magnetic pull between them was daunting; if she hadn't understood just how linked their futures were, it would have been frightening.
But Anakin was right; this wasn't the time to take things slow. Instead, she eased back without looking, pulling him with her, as her hands slid up to rid him of what was left of his tunic.
He made no protest.
"Are you sure?"
She wasn't - and he had to feel it just as she could feel his own uncertainty - but the pull this evening was an electrically physical thing. The very thought of pulling away after so long an absence - after having denied themselves of each other for so long - was almost as painful as the time that had passed between. No; she'd suspected all those years ago what would happen the night Anakin told her of his Knighting. She'd planned for it - or so she'd thought; this was not unexpected.
"I put my faith in the Force - and in you."
Their gazes locked.
There was a wealth of meaning in the way he said her name and she drew comfort from it. He didn't want her just because of the pull of the Force; there was something between them - and had to be - for the Force to amplify it the way it was. For some reason they were being drawn together, attracting one another in the most primal and physical senses possible. Yet, Anakin was attempting to ensure she knew it was more than that; he didn't want her just because the Force dictated it; he wanted her for her. That knowledge was what brought a smile to her lips.
Relief was clear in his gaze and she could feel his hands shaking where he restrained himself. They both knew where this meeting was leading, and it seemed impossible to stop, but Anakin wasn't going to rush her; he wasn't going to give in the way she'd already surrendered. He didn't dare and she could tell he was nervous - more nervous, in some ways, than she.
Stepping back from him, she took in the sight as her hands dropped from his torso. His arms lifted fractionally, as if to pull her back, but Anakin held the impulse in check. He seemed to glow in the dim lighting of the room, his pale skin shining from within. If it was a result of her Force enhanced sight when it came to him, or something else, she didn't much care.
Lifting her gaze back to his, their eyes locked and Barriss lifted her hands to her own garments. Anakin inhaled sharply, the tug of the Force something almost tangible in the silence as the rustle of cloth turned deafening. Her robe hadn't hit the ground before Barriss found herself back in Anakin's arm, his mouth finding hers.
Physical sensations overrode the urgings of the Force for the first time in a long time, and it was the pure hunger that stole her breath this time. Anakin's lips devoured hers in a searing kiss as she was lifted from the floor and pressed tightly against his near naked form. Flesh to flesh, her arms went around him in complete abandon. Anakin's hands slid possessively down her back and she arched against him without breaking the kiss.
Fear had no place between them and hesitance was lost in her response as she opened completely to his touch.
The melding of their Force essences bled into the physical contact as Anakin lifted her in his arms. It faded to the background and she was peripherally aware of being carried before he followed her down to her bunk. The weight of him, taste and scent blended into the moment as the Force seemed to dictate their actions and the strands binding them together seemed to twine yet closer together.
Immersed as they were, Barriss' reactions to the physical sensations were uninhibited and true, guided as much by instinct as anything else. Anakin's consciousness joined hers, melding and blending and she cried out as much from the physical sensation of their joining as the revelation of their Force essences as they merged, becoming one strand instead of two.
The feedback from that merging, coupled with the physical, was a sensory overload and Barriss' cry was echoed by Anakin's as the Force immersion shattered into a kaleidoscope of colors and lights.
Coming back to her senses, Barriss found herself as physically intertwined with Anakin as their Force signatures had been. A sheen of sweat covered her skin, their ragged breathing a counterpoint to the racing of her heartbeat. Eyes closed, she absorbed the sensation she'd waited so long to feel.
It had been everything - and more - that she'd expected.
Anakin lifted himself on his forearms, still shaking in the aftermath as he smoothed her hair back from her face with quaking fingers. "You okay?"
A smile curved her lips and she reached up to cup his face in her hands. Drawing him downwards, she touched her forehead to his. "I," she told him softly, "have never been better."
"Good," he tilted his head so their lips were in line to merge. "Good."
Author's Note: Open ending much? Seeing as how this is actually a lead into the next story, the RotS AU which I started writing last week and am -psyched- to be jumping into, I'm sure you've all got questions. Well, hopefully those questions will be answered sooner rather than later once I get it into it full swing.
Thanks for your patience guys - more A/B goodness coming soon! I want to start posting Mid-February :D