Title: What Dreams May Come Author: Vek Talis Genre: Mush, AU Characters: Padme, Anakin, Threepio Timeframe: ROTS Notes: For Monday Mush Mania The Challenge: Write a story about a character or characters adjusting to something new. Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars, just a visitor, passing through. You don't need to see my identification. Acknowledgment: Grateful to my Master, @Findswoman & @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 for beta reading. ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ Anakin awoke with a start. Sweat dotted his brow, stung his eyes. The nightmares had returned. Only now, instead of his mother, it was his wife. Padme, in childbirth, writhing, screaming. Anguish poured from her soul as she begged. "Ani; help me." A muffled sigh. Half asleep, Padme turned, her right hand thudding dully against the flesh of his chest. She smiled briefly, catching his eye, her hazel orbs sparkling. "What is it, Ani?" Her murmur was concern mixed with sleepiness. "Nothing; go back to sleep." Gently, he kissed her cheek as her half opened eye shut. Bliss spread across her lips for only a moment before her face went slack. Was she really pregnant? An idea formed quickly. Could he truly pull it off? What would Padme think? No, I love her; it can all be right. Quietly, he dressed and hurried from the room to make preparations. This would be so wizard. ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ Weeks, passed. The nightmares drew ever closer. Anakin feared. Then, he received the message that all was complete. ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ "Ani?" Padme asked, wrapping her cloak around her. They stood in the shadow of the Senate building. A chill breeze slid around the gigantic structure, battering them from both sides as it joined together on the opposite side. The sun splattered crimson behind them, dipping toward the horizon. "Come with me, Padme," Anakin said, slipping his fleshy hand into hers. "I have something to show you." He flashed her that smile. Instantly, she wore it, too. "You're being mysterious, Ani," she said, that mischievous lilt in her voice. Without hesitation, as the Senate was dismissed for two weeks, she squeezed his hand and they were off. Down to a lower level they went, where they might not be seen leaving together in a speeder. "Where are we going, Ani?" Padme asked as they boarded a small, private star ship. The pretty smile had dropped away, but her voice still made his heart flutter. "You'll see," he said. That night, the visions changed. Palpatine, dead in his office. Mace Windu, Yoda, other masters, standing over the smoldering corpse of a Sith Lord. Anakin didn't really want to believe it. Hand in hand, he and Padme walked the ship, talking, reminiscing. "Do you remember what you did, when we stayed by the lake on Naboo?" Padme asked at dinner. He cut a piece of fruit, used the Force to send it delicately toward her. Instead of allowing her to catch it with a utensil, he held it over her head and fed the sweet food to her. She giggled, like she had in those times, those better days. In the evening, she snuggled against him as they read together. It was a boring love story, but he read it as if it was written about them, and she snuggled ever closer. Word came that Chancellor Palpatine had indeed been destroyed. The Senate was shocked. Padme was mortified. Anakin remembered the dream and shook his head. His friend, his mentor, had been a force of evil all along. The Senate's recess would continue, though, for the news to gravitate to the far corners of the Galactic Republic. At last, the star ship touched down. "Now, will you tell me where we are, Ani?" Padme asked. "Better; I'll show you," he said. The docking bay doors opened. Dry, warm air rushed inside. "Tatooine?" Padme wrinkled her nose at the smell of bantha poodoo. "Anakin, why are we here?" To his senses, the smells and sights were elation and infinite sadness. Here, he'd lived with his mother. Here, Shmi had died and something inside him raged. It was a challenge to be here, a challenge he wanted. With the Sith dead, his nightmare was gone. Before he saw the transmission Padme viewed, he knew, and everything he was becoming found release. "Ani?" Padme stared up into his eyes. When he gazed into hers, she smiled again, though it was wan with concern. "What's wrong, Ani?" she asked. "Nothing," he said. Grasping her hand in his mechanical digits, he took a few steps. Before, it felt wrong to hold her in that... fake hand. Cold, bereft of life, it wasn't part of him. With a weight he might never fully understand lifted from his shoulders, the fear she would think him a monster, touching her with that lifeless hand, disappeared. "Oh my, wait for me," Threepio cried as he hurried down the ramp of the star ship. "I have your bags, Master Anakin, but where are we going?" "This way, Threepio," Anakin said. Without answering his wife's questions, he pulled her along wide, dirt streets. Jawas scurried here and there. Rontos pulled heavy loads, plodding along to their masters' whips. All the while he could feel Padme's hand in his and sense her consternation mixed with excitement for the merry chase he was leading her on. They ducked down an alleyway, then up a short flight of stairs. Datapad in hand, he typed in the code he'd been given. A door opened and they rushed inside. "Where are we?" Padme asked, her cheeks flushed, her breast heaving after the vigorous run. Without waiting for an answer, she began exploring the apartment. A tiny kitchen drew back from the main entryway. An alcove housed a table, built into the wall, with two chairs. Two rooms behind the kitchen with two beds and shelves carved into the rock walls. "Home," Anakin said simply. She stared, mouth open. "I don't understand." "Not my mother's home," he said. "Ours." Now, concern dripping from her pores, she was at his side, holding his hand. "Ani, we don't live here," she said. "Are you all right?" He grinned at her and she drew back, unsure, but with a ghost of a smile again. "I've left the Jedi," he said and she gaped again. "I can right wrongs here in Hutt space; I don't need a Council and a Master to tell me anything." "Ani..." "It's all right," he said softly, taking her hand again. With the Force, he drew away her trepidation, soothing her every muscle. "Before we heard about Palpatine, I... knew," he said. "I'm alive, Padme. When I saw his body, I came alive." "I'm not sure I understand," Padme said, but she was beginning to warm to the situation, he could feel it through the Force. "You came alive?" Still holding her hand, he drew her toward him, wrapping his arms around her. "I can't describe it better than that," he said. "I was falling, falling into darkness. I know that now, even if I can't tell you how." Her body warmed against his, despite the chilliness in the temperature controlled apartment. "Palpatine had something terrible for me," he said. "Now, I have something wonderful for you." "I love you, Ani," she said before drawing away and eyeing him sidelong. "But you have to make more sense." He chuckled. "I bought this place, Padme. This, and a shop. I can build droids and help people. The Jedi don't need me anymore and you can go back to the Senate when you need to, just come here when you're on a break." Once more, he took her hand. Together, they sat down on the sofa. He shifted to gaze into her eyes. "You're pregnant," he said. Her hand fell to her stomach and her eyes followed. "How did you-" Instantly, he pressed his lips against hers. He felt her hand slide over to his thigh and he wrapped his arm around her shoulders. When the kiss ended, he smirked. "It doesn't matter; I'm alive. You're alive. Our baby will be alive." Now, her smile brightened the room. No, it brightened the entire planet. Tatooine would still contain ghosts for Anakin: his mother and the sand people he slaughtered. But now, it also contained the brightest rays of sunshine he could ever imagine. "How did you afford this?" Padme asked. "You had no possessions as a Jedi." "I sold the schematics for C3PO," he said casually. New admiration for him seemed to beam from the sidelong glance she gave him. "This place will take some getting used to," she said. Quickly, she rose from the sofa and turned to the wall, newfound joy coursing through her. "I'll have to get some of my wall hangings from Naboo; it will cheer up this drab place." "You're all the decoration I need," Anakin said and stood beside his wife. She glared up at him, setting hands to hips. "Oh, so I'm nothing but decoration to you, now?" "Let's see what the bedroom needs," he said, pulling her from her phony anger. With his mechanical hand no longer weighing him down, with his mentor no longer filling his head with lies, with his nightmares banished, he felt lighter than air. They were so consumed with what they were doing, they never heard the clanking machine, headed toward the door to the small bedroom. "Oh, my. My apologies, Master Anakin," Threepio said as the droid gaped at what his master and mistress were doing. "You can close the door now, Threepio," Anakin said, mildly amused. "Oh, my," Padme said at his touch as the door slid shut on the droid.