Falling Stars
BeElleGee BeElleGee@hotmail.com

Rated G
Summary: Missing scene.  Takes place following the events on Geonosis,
before the final two scenes in ATTACK OF THE CLONES.  Obi-Wan visits Anakin
in the hospital the night before his surgery.


The hospital's stark, brightly lit hallways were unusually quiet considering
the sun had set only an hour ago.

Obi-Wan Kenobi didn't mind the quiet stillness.  In fact, he rather
preferred it.  It just seemed odd to him.  Visiting hours would not be over
for quite sometime yet.  He would have thought the halls would be bustling
with activity still, but tonight was truly peaceful.

Perhaps it was the rain, he mused.  It had been drizzling on and off all
day, and then just before twilight, the rain had increased to a steady
downpour.  It might have deterred some, but it wasn't enough to keep Obi-Wan

Trying not to limp, but limping noticeably nonetheless, the Jedi made his
way back up the hall towards the elevators.  He heard the hushed pattering
of the raindrops striking the windowpanes he passed, and sighed.  The
soothing sound enhanced the serene atmosphere inside and Obi-Wan found
himself wishing it would rain on Coruscant more often.

The hospital's upper floors had been occupied by a number of Jedi these past
few days following the battle of Geonosis.  Many, like Obi-Wan, had received
outpatient treatment there, but some had to be admitted, like Anakin.

Now, only a handful of the more seriously injured remained, still undergoing
prolonged bacta immersions, and Obi-Wan had taken the time to visit each one
tonight.  He felt a sense of camaraderie with them that went beyond their
being fellow Jedi Knights.  They had all experienced something unique and
historical together.  In fact, he couldn't help feeling a little responsible
for them, even though he knew his imperiled state on Geonosis was not the
sole reason the small army of Jedi Knights had gone there.  The liability he
felt was misplaced, but he still felt it nonetheless.

An even keener sense of responsibility anchored itself deeply within him
concerning his Padawan.  Without a doubt, Anakin's safety had been his
responsibility and one he had not been able to fulfill.  Obi-Wan knew Anakin
did not blame him for what had happened, but something had changed between
them.  Something he could not define.

Familiar with the hospital's lay-out, the Jedi Knight turned knowingly down
the inconspicuous side passage which housed the elevator access.  The
elevator was slow, and normally he would have used the stairs, but despite
healing well, his left side still ached enough to impair his mobility.  The
extra time also allowed him to mentally prepare himself for his final and
most difficult visit of the evening: Anakin.  To say his Padawan was having
a hard time adjusting to the loss of his arm was an understatement.


The door to Anakin's room opened just as Obi-Wan drew near and a preoccupied
Padme Amidala stalked out, mumbling to herself under her breath.  She looked
up as the door slid shut behind her and gasped slightly, startled by
Obi-Wan's unexpected presence.

Following the battle on Geonosis, Obi-Wan and Padme had become close
friends: often confiding in and relying on each other for comfort and
company during the long hours spent together in the hospital's waiting
rooms.  So it didn't take Jedi powers for Obi-Wan to conclude something was
wrong with Padme as soon as he laid eyes on her.  She tried to smile at him,
but failed miserably, then opened her mouth to speak.

Before either one could offer the other any form of greeting, something
large and evidently breakable, smashed against the other side of the door.
Padme jumped.  She sighed heavily and shook her head as Obi-Wan regarded the
closed door with widened and disapproving eyes.

"I wouldn't go in there just yet, if I were you," the young senator
murmured, glancing over her shoulder with a frown.  "He's not in the best of
moods...and I'm afraid I've only made things worse."  She lowered her head,
her large brown eyes rapidly watering and her lower lip quivering slightly.

Obi-Wan sighed in sympathy and laid his palm against her cheek.  He knew all
too well how tactless Anakin had been these past few days.  Reluctantly,
Padme looked up at Obi-Wan as tears spilled from her eyes.  The Jedi
summoned forth a warm and reassuring smile.

"Don't worry, Padme," he told her, purposefully keeping his tone light and
laced with humor.  "I have my lightsaber with me so I think I can ward off
anything he chooses to throw at me."

At that, Padme Amidala smiled, but it was brief and didn't reach her eyes.
She took Obi-Wan's hand in hers and squeezed it tightly.

"I'm glad you came to see him tonight, Obi-Wan," Padme told him. "He's so
miserable and confused.  And he's so scared."  Her bottom lip trembled again
as a new wave of emotion washed over her.  "You'll talk to him, won't you?
Tell him I'm sorry."

Obi-Wan nodded solemnly.  "I'll talk to him, I promise."

Padme released his hand and sighed, her voice tightening .  "It's just that,
I can't stay much longer," she announced helplessly.  "I'm needed at home.
I have prior commitments and obligations."  She gestured limply behind her.
"He doesn't understand--no, he doesn't want to understand!  Even though he
knew from the start what it would be like!  He wanted it anyway!  He said he
didn't care!"

"Ah.  So, you told him you were leaving," Obi-Wan acknowledged.  "That
explains alot."

Padme was growing angrier with each passing second.  She wiped impatiently
at the tears streaking across her face and shifted her weight to one leg.
"Why does he have to make this more difficult than it already is?"

The Jedi Master pursed his lips in response, thinking her question
rhetorical.  He crossed his arms over his chest and faced the closed door.

Anakin's emotions were strong and easily decipherable inside the now quiet
hospital room.  Obi-Wan sensed a woeful mixture of desire, frustration,
adoration and despair.  Closing his eyes, the Jedi shook his head slowly and

"I'm sure he didn't mean to upset you so," Obi-Wan informed Padme.  "You
know as well as I do, he tends to act without thinking of the consequences.
He'll regret parting with you like this."  He paused and inclined his head
towards the door.  "I sense he already does."

With a wry smile, Padme leaned forward and kissed the Jedi Master's cheek.
"That's very sweet of you to say, Obi-Wan, but you don't have to be a Jedi
to feel the tension inside that room."  She stepped back and turned to

Obi-Wan dragged his hand through his hair in frustration.  "Don't let it get
to you.  He's going through a tough time.  He's lashing out at everyone.
Myself included."  He paused, watching Padme make her way determinedly down
the hall towards the elevators.  "I know he's....very fond of you, Padme,"
the Jedi added hesitantly.

The young senator turned to face Obi-Wan, after pressing the down button on
the wall.  Her eyes were watering profusely and she sniffed delicately
before responding.

"So he says," she answered dispassionately before disappearing inside the
elevator and closing the doors.


Taking a deep breath, Obi-Wan straightened and turned to face the ominous
hospital room.  He knocked forcefully, but didn't wait for his padawan to
invite him in before opening the door and slipping inside.

It was a vase that had hit the door earlier.  Fragmented pieces of glass, as
well as torn remnants of blue flowers lay on the floor in a small puddle of
water.  Obi-Wan stooped to retrieve the well-wisher's sodden greeting card
from the mess and glared up at Anakin reproachfully.

But Anakin didn't see him.  He was sitting in a chair by the large picture
window staring out at the rain.

Obi-Wan was certain his Padawan was aware of his presence, but cleared his
throat loudly in hopes of at least getting Anakin to acknowledge him.

Anakin obliged his master by shifting his weight uncomfortably in his chair,
but refused to face him.  Obi-Wan could see his reflection in the windowpane
however.  His young handsome face was scowling fiercely into the darkness,
his brow creased with tension.  The Jedi Master sighed.

"Hello to you too," he mumbled and busied himself by picking up the larger
chunks of glass on the floor and tossing them into a nearby trash can.

"Just leave it!" Anakin snapped suddenly.  "The janitorial droids will be in
at precisely nine-forty-three to clean the room.  I still have another three
hours to trash the place."

Obi-Wan ignored him, too piqued by the boy's tantrum to yield to his
demands.  The Jedi Master continued to clear away the broken vase and
snatched up another piece of glass.  The piece was wet and slippery however
and Obi-Wan had grabbed it a little too carelessly.  It sliced deeply into
the tip of his index finger.

"Blast it!"

Anakin felt his master's pain before hearing Obi-Wan's curse and turned
sharply to face him.  "Are you all right?" he asked and swallowed dryly.

Obi-Wan peered up at him and rose stiffly to his feet, clutching his finger
to the hem of his cloak.  Anakin's large blue eyes were excessively wet and
rimmed in red.  The corners of his mouth were turned down with a determined
intensity that twisted Obi-Wan's heart.  The older Jedi took several deep
calming breaths and then nodded.  Appeased, Anakin slowly turned away from
him again.

"Anakin," Obi-Wan began softly, stepping over to where his Padawan sat.  "I
think we should talk."  The Jedi Master glanced sadly at the short bandaged
stump that had once been the boy's right arm.  He hadn't seen Anakin this
upset since he had learned his mangled arm could not be reattached despite
the effectiveness of the bacta treatments. Tomorrow morning Anakin would
undergo the surgery to have an artificial arm attached instead.  Obviously
the impending procedure was weighing heavily on his mind.

Anakin glanced up at Obi-Wan and followed his master's eyes to his severed
arm.  He shook his head impatiently.

"You wouldn't understand," he half-growled, his voice cracking with emotion
and strain.

"You're right, I suppose.  I probably wouldn't," Obi-Wan confessed.  "You
could help me understand though."

With an exasperated sigh, Anakin rose from the chair he was sitting in and
stalked over to his bed.  He sat down heavily and swung his legs over the
side, grappling awkwardly for the blankets.

"Look, I'm really tired and I think I just want to be alone now, if you
don't mind."  He closed his eyes determinedly and began massaging them
roughly once his head hit the pillow.

Obi-Wan frowned.  "Anakin, you can't expect me to help you if you won't tell
me what's wrong."  The Jedi Master walked around to the other side of the
bed and sat down in the now vacated chair.

Anakin glared over at him, opening his mouth, but stopping short of actually
ordering Obi-Wan out of the room.

"What?!  I don't expect you to do anything!  I just want to be left alone!
So if you don't mind...."

Unphased by his Padawan's dismissal, Obi-Wan adjusted the chair so it was
facing the bed and settled back into it with a deep sigh.  "When are you
going to realize that I want to help you?  I will help you if you will only
give me a chance."

Anakin refused to look at him, turning his face in the opposite direction.
A spark of anger shot through the Jedi Master at his Padawan's rudeness and
he almost got up and walked out.  Instead, Obi-Wan closed his eyes and
called the Force to him for patience.

"When you feel ready to talk to me, I'll be here."  The Jedi Master took
another prolonged breath, then opened his eyes.  "I'm not your enemy,
Padawan," he added quietly and bowed his head.

There must have been something in the tone of Obi-Wan's voice that made the
younger Jedi finally gaze over at him.  Out of the corner of his eye,
Obi-Wan saw Anakin's angry expression wither.

The Jedi Master knew he must have looked as miserable and tense as he felt,
sitting perfectly straight in the small metal chair.  His clothes were damp
and he had pulled his cloak tightly around his body, gathering it at his
shoulders to ward off the chill from the vent he was directly under. His
long fair hair was dishelved from the rain and drying in mats and his skin
had taken on a grayish pallor in the dull light of the room.

"Why do you care so much about my problems anyway?" Anakin asked softly.
"You have enough problems of your own and all the galaxy's to keep you
occupied."  Anakin offered the older Jedi a distorted and forced smile.
"You haven't failed me.  I know you think you have.  You've done all you can
for me.  It's just that some things you can't fix."

Lowering his eyes, Obi-Wan felt suddenly drained.  "I am sorry, Anakin."

Anakin bit his lower lip and shook his head.  "Don't apologize!" he chided.
"It's not your fault!  It's my own fault, my own problem!  What I'm feeling
now is something I've brought on myself.  I just have to come to terms with
certain things."

Obi-Wan's head snapped up.  "What things?"

The younger Jedi exhaled forcibly through clenched teeth.  "Knowing my life
will never be the same.  Knowing there's nothing I can do about
it....Overwhelming feelings.  Feelings of loss.  Losing something so great I
don't want to go on without it."  Anakin paused and fixed his eyes on his
master and frowned at Obi-Wan's narrow-eyed expression.  "You wouldn't

Shrugging inquisitively, Obi-Wan tentatively leaned forward.  "What is it
about loss you don't think I'll understand?  Everyone understands loss,
Anakin.  Everyone, including me, has suffered a loss before.  I do
understand what you're feeling.  To a point, anyway.  The pain is

Anakin's expression suddenly darkened.  "Look, I'm not talking about my arm,
okay?  See, you are absolutely clueless!  You presume everything, that's
your problem!"  He jerked around, throwing himself over on his side, turning
away from his master, his chest heaving in anger.

Obi-Wan had had enough of his Padawan's volatility for one night.  He
swiftly rose to his feet and started for the door.  "You're the one who
presumes, Anakin.  I wasn't talking about your arm either," he stated

Sitting up abruptly, Anakin locked his eyes on the older Jedi as he limped
towards the door.  "Master...wait!  Don't go."

Obi-Wan paused and turned around.  He stood regarding Anakin with a scathing
glare, his brows knit in consternation.

Anakin cleared his throat.  "Can you at least tell me what you actually were
talking about if it wasn't my arm?"

The older Jedi considered it, but then placed his hands on his slim hips and
shook his head.

"No, because you're being incorrigible," the Jedi Master admonished him
crossly.  "You'd rather insult and humiliate me than acknowledge the fact
that I'm concerned about you.  Goodnight, Anakin."  Having said that,
Obi-Wan turned and started towards the door once more.


The Jedi Master stopped in his tracks and peered over his shoulder.  "Don't
you think I can feel your sorrow, Anakin?  Your fear and your confusion?  I
know now it has nothing to do with your wound and everything to do with your

Anakin had the grace to look ashamed.  "Would you change your mind if I said
I was sorry...and honestly meant it?"

Slowly, Obi-Wan nodded in acquiescence, sensing the boy's sincerity and
remorse.  "Yes.  It would."

Anakin offered his master a thin smile and gestured at the chair by the
window.  "You might as well sit back down and stay for awhile," he began.
"'Cause I don't think this rain will let up anytime soon."

Obi-Wan glanced outside.  He noticed the wind had shifted and the rain was
sheeting down the window now; the lights of the vast city beyond it were
barely distinguishable through the darkness.

"Mmmhmm.  You're probably right about that," the Jedi Master agreed and
resumed his seat with a sigh.

"Yeah, it's really coming down now," Anakin added.  "It never rained like
this on Tatooine.  Never."  He fixed his gaze out the window.  "Maybe once
or twice a year, there would be a brief cloud burst somewhere, but nothing
like this.  It was so dry...."

Obi-Wan heard, as well as felt, the sadness in Anakin as he spoke of
Tatooine.  The Jedi Master leaned back in the chair and clasped his hands
together in his lap.

"Why didn't you tell me about your mother?" he asked quietly.

Anakin looked up sharply, then squinted his eyes, and shrugged his left
shoulder, but said nothing.

Obi-Wan waited, absently tracing the length of the wound on his freshly
lacerated finger.  It was throbbing and still seeping blood through the
forming scab.  Concentrating the Force on the pain, the Jedi Master subdued
it to the point of comfort and dabbed at it gingerly with the edge of his
sleeve.  If only all pain could be so easily vanquished, he thought and
peered up at his Padawan.

Feeling the weight of his master's stare, Anakin looked over at him and
blinked heavily several times.

"I would have told you...eventually," the young Jedi began, his voice
catching slightly in his throat.  "You must have known she was the reason I
went there."

"I suspected as much," Obi-Wan admitted.  "I knew you had been longing to
see her again.  Your dreams of late had only intensified that longing."  He
paused and frowned deeply.  "Normally dreams are too vague to take anything
in them literally and interpretations of their images are often unreliable.
Unfortunately, your dreams were reliable...and prophetic."  Obi-Wan watched
Anakin carefully.  His apprentice was gazing out the window again, looking
past him at the rain.  "I was hoping, that by not giving your dreams
credence, I could keep you from dwelling on them.  We've been fairly
occupied with other, more immediate worries, and I believed it would only be
a matter of time before you would forget about your dreams."

"In other words, forget about my mother," he stated, his voice cold and
distant.  "Well, it doesn't work that way when you love someone.  You can't
forget.  You can never forget."  Looking defeated, Anakin blinked several
times, but his face showed no other signs of emotion.  He continued staring
out at the rain as if mesmerized by it.

"Anakin, I'm truly sorry about what happened to your mother."

Obi-Wan waited, hoping his Padawan would speak more freely about what he was
feeling, but the young Jedi didn't continue and seemed to be avoiding his
master's eyes.  Obi-Wan cleared his throat.

"Padawan...I know what happened," he added softly.  "Padme told

Anakin bowed his head, his expression hardening.  "That night I found out
just what I was capable of--how I could plummet into the depths of darkness
to find justification."

Obi-Wan felt his heart skip a beat but tried his best to keep his tone
level.  "You can't believe that kind of revenge was justice.  You're better
than that, Padawan.  I know you are."

Looking up at his master, Anakin shook his head.  "Not exactly what you want
to hear from your Padawan Learner, eh Master?  Well, I'd do it again in a
heartbeat.  I wouldn't hesitate to turn down that path again to avenge
someone I loved."

"What you did was not done in the name of love, Anakin," Obi-Wan glowered,
his throat constricting uncomfortably with emotion.  "A Jedi cannot let
anger, despair, or even love dictate his actions.  A Jedi must remain
detached and look at any given situation with complete objectivity.  It is
the only way a Jedi can function with true wisdom."

Anakin's lip curled back in a derisive snarl.  "Then maybe I'm not cut out
to be a Jedi, Obi-Wan.  My emotions are all I have to go by and I value
them.  I can't control them.  You know that as well as anyone."

Looking back at his apprentice with alarm and dismay, Obi-Wan slowly
moistened his lips with the tip of his tongue.  His mouth tasted sour and
felt thick.  "You can control your emotions if you try, Anakin.  You are
strong enough.  Stronger than most other Jedi your age.  The Force is yours
to command.  Use it for good."

"It's good not to feel?" Anakin shot back incredulously.  "But I want to
feel!  To feel is to be alive."  He sighed wistfully and focused his gaze
back on the falling rain.  "Take love for example.  Loving someone is truly
living.  Being in love is like existing in another dimension."  He stretched
out his hand in front of him as if he were reaching for something.  "Like
the single shining star in a vast system.  I have my own star now, Obi-Wan.
My whole world revolves around her.  She's everything to me."

"Padme?"  Wearily, Obi-Wan massaged his forehead.

Anakin nodded solemnly.  "When I'm with Padme, I feel more alive than I've
ever been before.  She's like my sun in the morning and my moon at night.  I
need her to exist.  She's my life."

"Ah, I see," Obi-Wan replied in a tone that hinted the contrary.  "I was
under the impression you two were merely close friends.  So, now you think
you're in love?  Don't pretend to understand what love is, Padawan.  You're
not in love--you're infatuated.  Love isn't all romance and passion.  Anyone
who has ever been in love can tell you it can be just as destructive as
productive.  Quite often it tears down the very foundation it is built upon.
  It's a very demanding emotion.  Not something to be trifled with for
fleeting gratification.  A Jedi cannot afford the dedication such an emotion

Much to the Jedi Master's surprise, Anakin laughed hollowly.  "You're so
damned cynical, Obi-Wan!  But Master Yoda would be proud!  That was spoken
like a true Master of the Order!  And you called me presumptuous!"

A rush of heat reddening his face, Obi-Wan narrowed his eyes in warning.  A
warning his Padawan chose to ignore.

"How can you condemn love when you have absolutely no idea what it's like to
feel love?" the boy accused.  "How dare you lecture me about love and
passion and destruction?  I'm not as naive as you think.  I know I'm in
love, and I wouldn't trade that love for all the Jedi wisdom in the

"I wasn't lecturing you," Obi-Wan proclaimed, realizing that was precisely
what his advice must have sounded like to Anakin.  He took a deep, steadying
breath.  "Is it so hard for you to believe that I could have ever been in

The older Jedi watched as Anakin's jaw slackened and dropped.  Apparently it
was.  A sad smile of resignation tugged at the corners of Obi-Wan's mouth.

"I was very young--younger than you are now, but I did love her."

Anakin looked dazed.  "I didn't know that.  You never spoke about this

Obi-Wan relaxed a little and dismissed the matter with a wave of his hand,
regretting even bringing it up.  "It's not a time in my life I like to talk
about," he continued.  "It was a very...confusing and difficult time."

Leaning forward slightly, Anakin chewed his lower lip apprehensively.  "Did
she die?"

Obi-Wan nodded hesitantly.  "I thought I had lost everything when she died."
  He sighed, not wanting to go into any detail, but if it helped Anakin open
up to him, than the unease he felt now would be worth it.  "Her name was
Cerasi.  I had quit the Jedi Order to be with her."  He caught Anakin's
shocked expression, but chose to ignore it, and pressed on.  "I felt I
needed to help her fight for justice.  Qui-Gon didn't, or wouldn't,
understand, so I turned my back on him.  I hurt him deeper than I could have
possibly imagined at the time."  Obi-Wan paused momentarily and rose to his
feet.  He started slowly pacing at the foot of Anakin's bed, unable to keep
still.  "So when Cerasi was killed, not only had I lost her and her cause, I
had lost the Jedi, and even worse I had lost Qui-Gon.  I never felt so
frightened and alone before in my entire life."

Anakin winced visibly.  "She was killed?....I'm sorry."

Obi-Wan stopped pacing and offered him a reassuring, but wry smile.  "Thank
you, for the sentiment.  It was all...a very long time ago, Padawan."

"That's a very sad love story," Anakin added, solemnly.  "Can't you remember
anything about being in love with her that was good?"

Locking his eyes unwaveringly on his Padawan's, Obi-Wan shook his head.
"Not now.  No," he confessed and sighed heavily.  "Oh, there were other
times, not nearly as tragic or profound, for that matter, but time and
again, the only thing to endure for me in love was the heartache."  He
turned and slowly sat back down in the chair by the window.  "It's hard for
me to imagine why so many crave such a miserable emotion," he continued,
with a twinkle in his eye, then smiled outright at Anakin's open-mouthed
expression.  "All right, I will admit that when you first fall in love,
everything is wonderful.  The slightest attention you're given by the one
you love sends your heart soaring.  A certain look, or touch of the hand.
You feel you can face anything as long as your loved-one is by your side."
He paused and looked at his padawan.  "Am I right?"

Anakin lowered his head and licked his lips.  "Yes."  He settled back
against his pillows with a heavy sigh.  "All right.  So you have been in
love.  I believe you.  Why won't you believe me?"  He turned sad eyes on his
master.  "I love Padme, Obi-Wan.  And she loves me."

The Jedi Master closed his eyes for a moment, then shook his head.  "I can't
believe you yet because you obviously do not realize what loving her means.
Love, in itself, is quite taxing for any Jedi to manage to maintain
considering our lifestyles.  But you believe you are in love with a Senator
of the Galactic Republic, not some cocktail waitress down the street.  You
are already facing obstacles and you're suffering deeply because of them.
She must leave to fulfill her obligations back home and you must go on with
your training and the duty that that involves.  Love requires compromise,
and there's no way to compromise in this situation."

"Stop," Anakin whispered harshly.  "I don't need to hear any of this from

Crossing his arms over his chest, Obi-Wan leaned back in his chair.  "It
could be another ten years before you see each other again," the Jedi Master
replied softly.  His intention was not to anger the boy, only make him
understand.  "Is your love for her that enduring?  Does she feel the same?"

Tears flooded Anakin's eyes as he stared at Obi-Wan.  The Jedi Master sensed
a feeling of helplessness wash over Anakin and he seemed to shrink into the
whiteness of the sheets around him.

"I can't...I can't even think about losing her," he hissed, shaking his head
in abject denial.  "I won't lose her love now.  It took me too long to
warrant it."

"Then one of you will have to make a decision," Obi-Wan went on, trying to
keep his tone of voice calm and neutral.  "Either she will have to give up
the senate, or you will have to quit the Jedi."  Anakin was shaking his head
even harder.  The Jedi Master pressed on.  "In order for you to have any
kind of pretense of a normal, loving relationship, sacrifices will have to
be made.  The kind of sacrifices that often lend themselves to resentment.
You both need to decide what is more important to you.  Being in love, or
being who you are."

Anakin glared at Obi-Wan, his jaw working through the tension building
inside him.  "Having her is all that matters," he announced.  "We love each
other...and we'll find a way to make this love work."  Then: "I will give up
my training, if I have to."

Obi-Wan's eyes widened in disbelief.  "Do you know what you are saying?  You
are that certain?  What you are feeling is that real to you?"

"Yes," the young Jedi said in an exhaled breath.  "And it didn't occur to me
how real it was until this very moment.  I was upset when she told me she
would be leaving for Naboo soon.  I didn't know what to do.  I felt trapped.
  Now I feel relieved.  I know what matters to me most."

Icy fingers ran up Obi-Wan's spine and he shivered involuntarily as he
listened to Anakin's statement clearly made with steadfast conviction.  He
scrubbed his face with his hands in a melodramatic gesture, then flung them
aside in exasperation.  Facing his apprentice, he narrowed his eyes and
moaned audibly.

"Oh no.  No, no, no, no," he grumbled, rising to his feet.  He limped across
the length of the room and whirled around.  "You can't leave the Jedi for
this!" he told Anakin, with a glazed, maniacal look in his eye.  "Your
responsibility to the Order should not be superseded by feelings for a woman
you have yet to figure out how to make a real commitment to.  Exchanging
verbal promises of love is a long way from any kind of commitment.  Please
be adult enough to at least understand that."

Drawing his long legs up under the sheets, Anakin sat forward and draped his
arm around his knees.  "Don't worry, Master.  I doubt if Padme would allow
me to quit my training to be with her.  She's stubborn that way."  He peered
over at his master warily and then offered him a shaky, but mischievous

Obi-Wan scowled down at him in return, but stalked back to the chair by the
window and sat down.  "Well, thank the Force, at least one of you has some
sense of responsibility!" he snapped.  His leg was aching and now his head
was splitting as well.  He sat staring at his Padawan for awhile, determined
to stay unsettled by Anakin's flippant decision, but the boy was looking
back at him now with such hope.  His large eyes were pleading for some
understanding.  Finally Obi-Wan sighed and stroked his beard.  "You really
do love her, don't you?"

Anakin seemed to sense the older Jedi's shift in temperment and smiled
again.  "Yes.  I love her.  I've always loved her.  I may have been young
when I first met her, but I knew I loved her, just like you knew you loved
Cerasi when you were just a boy."  Anakin's puffy red eyes looked as if he
had cried a river.  He wiped at them discreetly and bowed his head.  "She
loves me too, Obi-Wan.  I know, without a doubt, and not just because she
told me.  I can feel her love for me.  Everytime she's near me or even when
she's not.  It's strong.  Stronger than anything I've ever felt before."

Obi-Wan's expression softened considerably.  He could feel the bittersweet
emotions tumbling around inside his apprentice, unsubdued and vibrant.  "But
unfortunately, I don't think Padme knows where to go from here either.  Like
you, she's confused and needs to be given some sort of direction.  What are
you going to do about that, Anakin?"  Somehow, he knew coming to the obvious
and simple solution of breaking up with her would be too much to hope for
from his Padawan.

"I want to commit to her," Anakin said outright.  "I want her to commit to
me.  I'm going to ask her to marry me."

Obi-Wan stared back at Anakin momentarily dumbstruck.  His chest tightened
uncomfortably and he suddenly drew in a sharp breath, unaware he hadn't been
breathing.  The Jedi slumped in his chair, feeling numb.  "But why would you
want to bind yourself to someone you cannot truly be with?" he asked.  He
actually couldn't fathom the notion.

Thinking, Anakin licked his lips slowly, apparently trying to answer
Obi-Wan's question honestly.  He began tracing the hem along the top of the
sheet distractedly.  After awhile, Obi-Wan cleared his throat as if to
remind his apprentice he was still waiting for a reply.  Anakin looked up
and faced his master squarely.  "If we have to be apart, at least we will
have that--at least we will know we belong to each other."

Obi-Wan took another deep breath and looked out the window to give himself
time to think.

"You're doing this because you are afraid to lose her, but committing
yourself to her is not going to guarantee you happiness," the Jedi Master
began, returning to his painful past experiences for an example of what he
meant.  "Qui-Gon had once fallen in love with a woman he grew up with, a
Jedi Knight by the name of Tahl.  They had made a commitment to each other
without anyone's knowledge."  Obi-Wan spread his arms in a gesture of
vulnerability.  "The depth of his love for her remained undisclosed until he
lost her to a senseless act of cruelty.  Then it nearly destroyed him.  And
when someone close to me suffers so deeply, I cannot help but feel their
pain.  Just like I feel you are suffering Anakin, and I know you are scared.
  You don't want to lose Padme and I understand that.  I want to help you,
but I'm just not sure this is the route you should go.  There's no

"And I know what you are trying to say," Anakin confessed.  "It's just that
I want the chance to try to make this work.  I'll never forgive myself if I
don't at least try."

The rain had stopped and the lights of Coruscant pierced through the
darkness like glittering jewels on black fabric.  If Obi-Wan faced the
direction of the Jedi Temple, he could just make out the spires and the
always brightly lit Council Chamber.

Ah, yes.  The Council.  How was he ever going to explain this? he pondered.
Some members' cultures didn't even recognize the type of union between a man
and woman a marriage signified.  He didn't even know if Anakin would be
allowed to continue his training if it became known he had blatantly
disregarded the Code.

Jedi weren't supposed to fall madly in love.  It happened sometimes, but a
Jedi wasn't supposed to do anything about it.  The reasoning behind this was
by not actively contributing to the relationship, the feelings would
naturally fade.  It was just as easy, if not easier, to fall out of love,
than fall in love.  Prolonged periods spent apart often effectively cooled
the heels of any passion.  It often became apparent soon after, the lovers
could actually live without each other after all.

Slowly, Obi-Wan turned away from the window.  "Anakin...would you consider
waiting a few years?  At least until you have completed your training?  Wait
until you're older.  You never know what may happen.  Padme might be out of
politics by then.  And as a Knight, you would be a lot more freer to come
and go as you please.  Why rush into this?"

Anakin huffed and shook his head, eyeing his master curiously.  "You make it
sound as though we have all the time in the world."  The younger Jedi angled
his body towards Obi-Wan and held up the stump of his right arm.  "I could
have been killed in that hangar.  If Master Yoda hadn't found us and stopped
Dooku, both of us would be dead now.  If that experience taught me one
thing, it was to live while I can.  There's no time to spare, Obi-Wan."

The boy had a point.  Obi-Wan blinked back at him helplessly.
"I...understand what you're saying," he began hesitantly, not wanting to
appear to agree with him.  "But one brush with mortality doesn't mean death
lies waiting around every corner.  You could live to be quite old."  He
paused and sighed.  "Look at Yoda."  Obi-Wan knew the argument was lame and
Anakin confirmed it by rolling his eyes.  "Oh Padawan.  I don't know what to
tell you."  Which was the truth at this point.

Anakin lowered his eyes.  "Do you really think I'll be thrown out of the
Order if I go through with this?"

Obi-Wan shrugged.  "I...don't know."

"'Cause if I am, it won't matter.  I want Padme more than I want to be a
Jedi," he stated assuredly, then swallowed thickly and frowned.  "I mean, I
still want to be a Jedi and if they'll let me marry Padme and finish my
training then...I couldn't ask for anything more."

The Jedi Master narrowed his eyes at his Padawan in vexation.  "No, I think
you've asked for quite enough as it is!"

Pushing aside Obi-Wan's reprimand, Anakin peered up at him hopefully.  "Will
you help me?"

"Help you?  Do what, exactly?"  Obi-Wan shot to his feet and held up his
hands to ward his Padawan off him.

Anakin gnawed his lower lip savagely.  "Keep the Council at bay for awhile,"
he murmured.  "Buy me some time."

Obi-Wan knew at that moment Anakin was determined to see this through one
way or the other.  Nothing he could say would sway the boy's conviction and
earlier he had told Anakin he would help him.  The idea of sneaking around
behind the Council's back didn't exactly sit well with Obi-Wan, and he
refused to outright lie to them, but he could simply forget to mention
certain things.

"Obi-Wan, please," Anakin pressed.  "I need your help."

"I did tell you I wanted to help you, didn't I?"  Stifling his unease,
Obi-Wan turned away from Anakin to think.  He had run out of arguments
anyway.  He was surprised by the fact his mind was readily shifting gears
and already devising a way to give Anakin what he desired.  "When are you
going to propose to her?" the Jedi Master questioned and was rewarded with a
dazzling smile of gratitude from his Padawan.

"I'll call her tonight!"

Obi-Wan looked mortified.  "NO!  Not tonight!"

Anakin's smile vanished as fast as it had appeared.  "The sooner the

"Not necessarily," the older Jedi informed him.  "At least give yourself the
chance to think about what you are going to say.  She's not leaving just
yet.  And you are undergoing surgery tomorrow."

"Well, what do you suggest?" Anakin grumbled.

Frowning at Anakin's seemingly uncontrollable impulsiveness, Obi-Wan sat
beside his apprentice on the bed.  "Since you insist on going through with
this, at least try to do it right.  Try to be a little romantic.  Let her
know you've given this a great deal more thought than you actually have.
You can't just blurt a marriage proposal out over a comlink!  And besides,
Padme didn't leave you tonight under the best of circumstances.  First
things first, Anakin.  If you call her tonight, what you really need to do
is apologize for your behavior."

Casting his eyes downward, Anakin looked ashamed and unhappy.  "You're
right," he admitted.  He shook his head.  "All I could think about was how
much I loved her and that I was going to lose her.  When she told me she was
going back to Naboo...I just reacted.  I'm so stupid, sometimes!"

"Mmmm," Obi-Wan replied in a muffled and noncommittal way.

Anakin sat up straighter, locking his eyes on Obi-Wan's.

"Padme is returning to Naboo," Anakin relayed.  "It wouldn't be very prudent
to send her off across the galaxy without an escort to see her safely home.
I'm certain the Council would think nothing of it.  Merely an extended
courtesy on our part."

Obi-Wan's eyes widened with dawning realization.  "Nute Gunray is still at
large," he stated.  "We know he was behind the attempts on her life.  It
makes sense to send a Jedi back with her."  It was a perfect idea and
actually made his part in all this very small.  He found himself smiling,
despite the air of conspiracy hovering about in the dim room.  "All right,
Anakin.  When you are released tomorrow following your operation, report to
the senator as her assigned guardian and escort.  Go with her to Naboo.
Take some time to recuperate and contact me in two months' time.  No one
will question it."

Anakin exhaled forcefully.  "Thank you, Master," he whispered and dragged
his wrist across his rapidly watering eyes.  He flashed a smile and laughed
lightly.  "I'll never forget this."  Anakin suddenly reached forward and
hugged him quickly, catching him off guard.

The Jedi Master hesitantly returned the boy's unexpected outburst of
affection.  He pulled away and stared back at his beaming Padawan, then
narrowed his eyes.  "Oh yes you will."  He tried to look stern, but failed.
Anakin's happiness pervaded any negative feelings he still harbored
regarding the matter.  "Everything will work out the way it's supposed to,"
he added quietly, placing his hand on the young Jedi's shoulder.

Obi-Wan knew whatever happened next would be beyond his control.  Anakin
would either go through with his marriage proposal or he wouldn't.  Then,
Padme may or may not accept it.  He could only hope their love would not
blind them to their reality and that their combined wisdom would guide them
to make the right decision.  Whatever it may be.  In that instant, saturated
in the sensations of Anakin's boundless love, Obi-Wan wasn't exactly sure
what the right decision was anymore.