of the Father: Chapter 13
“Mama!” Leia runs,
jumping and wrapping her small legs around her mother’s body, holding
around her child, holding her close as she crumples to her knees on the
unforgiving ground. The winds are fierce
today and the sand is more than enough to chase any sane person inside,
Padmé doesn’t move. She simply
child. “What’s wrong, baby?” she asks
Leia is trembling,
burying her face against her mother’s shoulder.
Several feet away, Luke hangs back, close to Typho.
The young boy’s eyes seem haunted. In
the distance, the ship is clearly visible,
the gangplank still extended. Typho
probably had to chase the twins toward the house and didn't have time
This is her
fault. Padmé never should have sent
twins to Anakin, even for a visit.
They’re only five years old.
They’re still babies. She buries
her nose in Leia’s hair. Breathing
deeply, she cradles Leia’s trembling body closer. She
knows this scent intimately. It’s
imprinted on her very soul.
opens her eyes, blinking away the dream-memory. The room is dimly
lit, but she can clearly
make out the dark head resting against her shoulder. The smell of
Leia’s hair is
unmistakable. She lifts her hand,
wincing at the pain the movement causes.
But the pain doesn’t stop her from running her palm over her baby’s
awake, sitting up and pushing herself back in
the chair that she pulled close to Padmé’s bed.
“Mom?” she asks sleepily.
The smell of
bacta and the beeping monitors clearly identify
this place as the Imperial Medcenter.
The room is nicer and more private than the one afforded Lorian days
earlier, but regardless of how it’s dressed, it’s still a hospital
looks up to see Anakin seated in a chair on the far
side of the room. He’s leaning back,
watching her with a guarded expression.
There is a fresh cut along his left cheek. His long legs are
stretched out in front of
him, crossed at the ankle.
“How long have
you been here?” Padmé asks.
himself out of the chair and walks to stand at
Padmé’s bedside. “A couple of hours,” he
says. “How do you feel?”
“Like I’ve been
blown up,” Padmé says. She squints up at Anakin.
“Did I get blown up?”
“Oh,” Padmé says,
oddly numbed by the revelation.
knocked unconscious,” Anakin continues. “The doctors want to keep
you overnight for
not glad to hear the news, but honestly, she
doesn't feel well enough to get out of the hospital bed. She
looks down at herself. Her lovely gown is gone, replaced by an
unflattering and rather scratchy hospital gown.
supposed to send over clothes for you,"
Anakin says. "Your dress was
Leia rises to
"I'll go see if the clothes have been delivered."
Padmé and Anakin watch Leia leave the room. With a tired
groan, Anakin sinks into the
chair Leia vacated. "She hides
it," he says, "but she was terrified when you were injured."
looks at her husband.
She reaches out, running her fingertips lightly over the cut on his
cheek. He wraps his hand around hers and
pulls it flush against his face. He
turns into it, pressing a kiss to her palm.
His eyes are full of emotions he will not voice.
"How do you
really feel?" he asks pointedly.
She swivels her
head back and forth experimentally,
grimacing. "I think I'm okay,"
she says. "My head is killing me
and my ears are ringing."
doctors said that would be expected," he says. "You needed to
rest. You've only been asleep for hours."
Padmé asks, releasing his hand to
pull the covers up over her less than adequate gown. She finds
the room uncomfortably cool.
"There was a
bomb in the shuttle," he says
tightly. "Someone was trying to get
rid of you."
hurt?" Padmé asks quickly.
were killed. Your two guards and a bystander. There were a
dozen or so injuries, you
reaches up again and touches his wounded cheek. "Are you
included?" she asks.
"No," he says,
grasping her fingertips with his
own. He brings her hand to his mouth
again and presses his lips to the pads of her fingers. "I thought
I lost you today," he
whispers. Padmé can feel his lips move
against her fingertips.
pulls her hand away and twines it through
the covers. "Who did this?"
He rubs his hand
roughly over his face. "We think at least one of your guards
Piett are making inquiries while I keep an
eye on you."
"And what do you
know so far?"
Whitesun is an enormous pain in the
ass. Lorian had to pick her up and
physically remove her from the room."
Anakin chuckles softly. "She
seems to think I intend to ravage you while you're unconscious on a
"She's a smart
girl," Padmé replies with a wry
grin that quickly fades. She knows
Anakin is trying to distract her.
"Who were the guards working for?" she insists.
His jaw muscles
Clearly, he does not want to discuss this.
Which is a pity,
because she does.
"Korto," he says
darkly. There is a menace in the way he forms the
words, a betrayal that suggests Korto is not long for this world.
mouth falls open.
She abhors everything about Korto but to think he would make an attempt
on her life… She is quite shocked he had
the nerve. "Was he working
alone?" she asks.
"I don’t know,"
Anakin says. "But I will find out.
He was transferred to a military detention
center. Lorian is working on him."
doesn't know what that means and she will not
ask. She knows that Lorian won't kill
Korto, only because it's quite obvious that Anakin intends to do that
She doubts it is
a good sign that she doesn’t even care.
with the clothes Mehht delivered, but Padmé
finds she doesn't have the energy to change.
Anakin and Leia find her another blanket to ward off the cold and
encourage her to sleep. Leia decides to
leave, claiming she intends to return to the Palace. Anakin makes
himself as comfortable as he can
in the chair at her bedside.
thoughts swarming in her mind, Padmé finds sleep
pulling at her. Resting her head in the
pillow, she watches Anakin. His face is
the last thing she sees before fading into unconsciousness.
wakes her and she rolls over, watching him in
the dim light. His forehead is beaded
with sweat, his head restlessly moving from side to side. He
murmurs in his sleep and all at once,
jerks awake, sitting up in the chair.
He drags a hand through his hair and looks at her. He holds her
gaze for a moment and then leans
forward, elbows braced above his knees as he cradles his head in his
props herself up on one arm, pulling the covers
tightly around her body. “When did the
He turns his
head to the door and she watches him in
profile. He won't look at her. "They're not
They’re visions,” he says, his voice scratchy
something in his tone, something dark and distant
that unsettles her. “Okay,” she says
gently. “When did your visions start
He laughs, a
“My visions never leave me,” he replies darkly.
herself up in bed, wrapping the blankets around
her shoulders and reaches out, touching his arm. “Ani,” she says
softly, her voice rife with
He looks at
senses he is not pleased with the name she used. She shivers for
a moment, but shrugs it away
quickly. She has always known about
Anakin’s duality, the war between his darker nature and the tender,
she married. But the divide between the
two is rarely so evident. She swallows
thickly and asks, “You have these … visions
… When I manage to sleep.”
Though she is
fairly certain she doesn’t want to hear the
answer, she asks, “What did your visions show you tonight?”
He is silent for
a long moment and then rises to his feet,
doing his best to pace in the confined space.
“The same thing they always show me," he says without look at
her. "The consequences of letting
down my guard.”
“Somehow I doubt
they’re that esoteric,” she says
carefully. “You were very agitated in
“Your death,” he
says flatly, thrusting the words at
her. “The children’s deaths.” He stares at the wall and she
can see his jaw
muscles flexing. “The same thing they
have shown me every night for the last sixteen years.”
She knows how turbulent these visions are, how profoundly they affect
him. She cannot believe they have
continued unabated for so long.
“Anakin,” she says softly, “they’re not real. I’m not dead.
The children aren’t dead.”
“Because I heed
the portents of the visions,” he
whispers. “My powers, the powers
Palpatine initiated me into – those are the only things keeping the
from becoming reality. They’re the only
things keeping you and the children safe.”
answer, Padmé stares at her husband. It is true enough
that she and the children
are alive. But safe? How can he equate fourteen years of
estrangement with safety? Leia’s forays
into the Deep Core certainly aren’t safe.
The same could probably be said for Luke’s involvement with
Obi-Wan. Anakin’s intentions are
understandable, possibly even admirable.
But she wonders to what degree he is deluding himself. He is
obviously trying to keep his visions
from becoming a reality, but at what cost?
“You have always
been enough for me just as you are,” she
says, trying to soothe this dark, insatiable need inside him.
Slowly, he crosses the room to her and reaches out and running his
fingers lightly along her jaw. It should
be a tender gesture, but it’s not. There
is something in the gesture – something in his intention – that is
unmistakably predatory. There is no doubt this is Lord Vader, not
Anakin Skywalker, with whom she is dealing.
“Is that true, Senator?”
he asks, leaning even closer. “Am I enough?” He meets her
gaze from scant inches
away. His lips curve into that cruel,
predatory smile she loathes. “I was
beginning to wonder. You stayed away so long.” He
reaches down, his fingers playing lightly
along the flesh of her chest exposed by the ill fitting hospital
leans away from him, pulling the sheet up
under her chin. He chuckles cruelly.
flinch, but she does look away. She knows this is a pointed
attack. Lord Vader wants - no needs - to keep her at a
This is the same tactic he used after the Hapan dinner, the same
oh-so-effective insults. Lord Vader
needs to restore the status quo, the animosity and detachment.
Padmé doesn’t know why this is so. Perhaps he can’t commit
necessary to maintain his dark powers if she is looking over his
shoulder. Perhaps he doesn't believe he can love her
and protect her at the same time.
All she knows is
that she cannot, will not, let him win this
She will not let him push her away.
She reaches for
his hand and he starts, clearly shocked she
initiated physical contact. She looks up
at him. "I'm cold, Ani," she
says softly, shivering.
Her words and
actions have the desired effect. They remind him she is in a
hospital bed, in
a hospital gown. They remind him she is
smile vanishes and in the space of a heartbeat,
Lord Vader is gone and Anakin has returned.
Wordlessly, he sits next to her on the bed and pulls her close.
She curls into the warmth of his body. She tugs at him and he
out on the bed next to her. As she
drifts off to sleep, she feels his lips against her forehead.
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