June 06, 2000
Takes place a year or so before EP2, Character driven drama with a touch of romance; Summary: Obi Wan is dying and Anakin begins a vigil with the powerful and compassionate jedi healer who is his physician.
Author's note: This story will probably only work until the unveiling of EP2 and facts concerning the relationship between Anakin and Obi Wan come into light. It is my interpretation that somewhere along the way they became good friends until Anakin's turn to the dark side. You may also notice the Anakin in this piece is somewhat 'Vaderesque' but keep in mind that he is eighteen and I believe by this age a lot of the cherubic innocence we see in EP1 will be long gone.
Disclaimer: All the characters, with the exception of the healer and the duty nurse, belong to George Lucas. I make no money from exploiting them.
As the small Republic transport settled onto the Jedi Temple's landing platform, an eighteen year old Anakin Skywalker peered out of the ship's portal window and chewed his lower lip savagely. He saw a contingent of concerned jedi masters among the waiting triage of medical personnel. Anakin had contacted the council earlier to prepare them for the worse and explain what had happened.
Their mission to Rubia had failed and now another team would have to be sent in to renegotiate between the two warring factions. Neither side had wanted to accept the Republic's terms to settle the conflict. Just before leaving the planet surface to return to Coruscant for a consultation with the Rubian representatives in the Senate, the jedi's transport had come under attack and both jedi had been caught outside in the crossfire. Anakin had managed to escape relatively uninjured, but Obi Wan had not been as fortunate.
Anakin heard the faint creaking of the boarding ramp being lowered. The beings on the platform sprang into action and swarmed into the ship. Taking a deep steadying breath, Anakin turned back to face his master. He squeezed Obi Wan's hand tightly between both of his.
"Master, we're home," he whispered in the older jedi's ear and tried to convey encouragement through the Force. There was no response. Anakin glanced up at the medic droid who stood off to his left, studying the monitors. "How's he doing?"
"Respiration rate is lowering," it reported in a matter of fact mechanical tone. "Blood pressure is dropping. Heart rate is slowing. Do you want specific readings?"
Anakin shook his head slowly. He could feel his eyes begin to water and his throat constrict painfully. He turned back to face Obi Wan.
"Hang on," he managed hoarsely. "Please Master."
The door to the sick bay suddenly opened and the triage team spilled inside, towing various equipment and supplies. They quickly surrounded the injured jedi knight, more or less pushing Anakin out of the way.
Reluctantly, Anakin released his master's hand and backed up, flattening himself as best he could, against the wall. He watched the chaotic scene in something of a trance. It almost seemed as if everyone was moving in slow motion through a haze.
This is a nightmare, Anakin decided. This was something he was dreaming. It wasn't really happening. Obi Wan wasn't really dying.
The triage corpmen shifted the jedi onto their suspension cot as the medics continued to attach life sensitive monitors. Others plunged injections of medications and stimulants into both his arms. They all seemed to be talking at the same time, relaying information and orders to each other. Anakin didn't understand most of it.
Suddenly a woman in a long red cloak and tunic walked calmly into the sick bay and over to the triage. Without so much as a word, she went over to where Obi Wan lay. To Anakin's surprise, no one tried to stop her or question her as to what she was doing. He watched curiously as she bent over the cot and reached out, and stroked the side of the jedi's face while staring at him through narrowed dark eyes.
Anakin straightened slightly feeling the Force moving, flowing from the woman. Anakin wondered about her and her ability to use the Force. She seemed to be a person of authority, at least in the eyes of the triage as they all backed away from her to give her plenty of room.
Abruptly the red clad stranger motioned to one of the medics and then all the noise and chaos was back as the team resumed their pressing duties. The woman's face was expressionless as she made her way calmly around the frenetic medical personnel and glided soundlessly back out of the room.
Finally, they threw a blanket over the injured jedi, sealed the suspension cot's domed transparisteel top, and just as fast as they had arrived, they were gone.
Anakin stood frozen in the now silent and vacant sick bay. He gathered his cloak around him, shivering slightly, and then staggered unsteadily after them.
Several of the jedi masters stood off to the side of the platform watching the ambulance get ready to lift off. By the time Anakin had made his way out of the transport and over to where they stood, the ambulance was airborne. He stood staring after it longingly. Finally he turned and faced the group of jedi, waiting, just behind him.
"Where are they taking him?" he asked. No one answered him. He turned around facing the night sky of Coruscant and tried to at least see what direction the ambulance had gone.
"Come with us back to the temple, Anakin," said Master Ki Adi Mundi, his voice low and sympathetic. "You must be exhausted. You need rest." It had little affect on the anxious apprentice.
"I need to be with him!" Anakin shot back.
"There's nothing you can do for him now," this coming from Master Depa Billaba. She stepped over to him and put her hand on his arm. "Come now, you need to see a physician yourself," she noted, taking in the young jedi's disheveled, dirty appearance, and the large purple bruise around his swollen right eye.
Anakin jerked himself free of her grasp. "No! Leave me alone. I'm fine," he answered, his deep clear voice resonating a challenge to the contrary.
The jedi masters exchanged wary looks with each other.
Master Mace Windu stepped forward. He faced Anakin squarely and assessed the extent of the young man's injuries using the Force. After a few moments passed, he nodded.
"Very well, you don't have to see a medic if you don't want to, but you will go to your quarters and rest."
Anakin struggled with his temper. "You don't understand--"
"You need to compose yourself. You need to meditate," Mace Windu continued, cutting him off. "You are far too upset right now to be of any use to anyone, let alone Obi Wan." He paused and took a deep breath. "Your fear nearly consumes you."
Anakin could sense the masters' concern and compassion directed at him. He lowered his head and swallowed down his overpowering emotions. He sent a wave of humility and gratitude through the Force to them.
"I know I'm afraid," he admitted quietly, his expression conveying remorse. "I may not see him alive again."
Depa Billaba gestured towards the waiting shuttle. "When we get to the temple, go to your quarters and get cleaned up. At least try to rest. As soon as we hear news, we will send for you."
Anakin looked at each of the assembled masters in turn. He sighed heavily, then nodded with resignation, too weary to object further.
Seemingly satisfied, they left him and boarded the shuttle.
Anakin hesitated. He stared into the black sky and shivered slightly, but not from the crisp night air. He felt lost and very alone. Slowly, he closed his eyes and stretched out with the Force to try to touch his master's presence. He smiled as soon as he felt the familiar and comforting perception of Obi Wan. He could just barely sense him, but it was definately him. The feeling was reassuring and helped ease Anakin's fears. Anakin held onto it for security, as he had held onto his master's hand earlier.
Reluctantly, he turned finally and boarded the shuttle to take him to the jedi temple.
The small quarters he shared with Obi Wan at the temple were dark and empty-feeling. Anakin quickly powered up the lights and the heat. He took off his torn, muddy cloak and flung it unceremoniously over the closest chair and went to the kitchen to heat water for tea. He noticed a note that Obi Wan had scrawled to himself as a reminder left on the table. He picked it up to read it, struggling to decipher his master's atrocious handwriting. Apparently someone had contacted him before they had left for Rubia about filling in as cantor for the morning meditation as soon as he returned. Anakin wondered if anyone had been contacted to fill in for him now.
Walking stiffly into his room, he took off his utility belt and began unfastening his sash, when a blinking message light on his recorder terminal caught his eye. He crossed the room and quickly turned it on.
A tiny hologram of Amidala hovered instantly before his eyes. Before she even spoke, Anakin knew she was distressed by something. She was wringing her hands and fidgeting nervously.
"Anakin, please contact me when you get in. I have a strange feeling that something is wrong. I can't seem to shake it," the image of the young queen said quickly. It smiled suddenly. "Perhaps I'm being foolish and my fears are unfounded, but even so, just contact me and reassure me, all right? I'll be waiting." Then the image flickered out.
Anakin had to smile. Her Majesty had almost a jedi's sense of the Force, but she often dismissed it as women's intuition. Whatever it was, her sensitivity was impressive.
Anakin took a deep breath and pressed the response button on the recorder.
One look at Anakin and Amidala knew all her feelings of unease were not unfounded.
"You're hurt!" she exclaimed.
Anakin shook his head slowly. "It's nothing - just a black eye. I got hit with the stock of a blaster rifle. Ami, I ... I ..." Anakin's nonchalant projection shattered suddenly. He began shaking, bowing his head, and succumbed to a brief bout of weeping, burying his face in his large hands. Amidala looked on, horrified.
"Anakin! What's happened?"
He sniffed loudly and looked up at her. "Forgive me," he managed. "The reality of what I was about to relate to you just struck me... It's very difficult to actually voice what my heart has been wanting to deny. By saying it aloud, it is almost as if I am compelled to accept it's wretched reality now."
Amidala's heart sank. "It's Obi Wan, isn't it?" she murmured.
Anakin nodded. He inhaled deeply, his face twisting with the agony of recollection as the details of what happened on Rubia began spilling out. "We were pinned by blaster fire. We couldn't reach the transport ship. The only way we could defend ourselves was by standing back to back and deflecting away the blasts. It worked for awhile but we were getting shot at from all sides. One of the Rubian warlords rushed me and clubbed me with his blaster. I fell and that left Obi Wan unprotected. Before I could get to my feet, he had been shot. It was through sheer determination and some miracle of the Force that I was able to get him to the ship without getting shot myself."
"I hope you don't blame yourself for what happened to him," Amidala said quickly. "You saved him."
Anakin swallowed hard. "I didn't... save him."
Amidala was almost afraid to press for more detail. It wrenched her heart to hear of the danger the jedi consistently faced to maintain peace in an unstable galactic republic. She knew she had come very close to losing Anakin this time and was thankful that the Force had been with him. He had obviously been through something horrible. But he and Obi Wan were back on Coruscant now, safe. She released a small sigh of relief. "But Obi Wan will be all right, won't he?"
Anakin hesitated, then shook his head slowly. "No Ami. He's more than likely going to die."
Amidala gasped. For a second she couldn't breathe. "Anakin... I'm so sorry."
The young jedi dragged his hand through his spikey bangs in agitation. "Oh Ami, I wish you were here. I could really use a friend right now." He stared back at her, his large blue eyes imploring. "I'm so scared."
Amidala didn't hesitate. "I'll be there. I'm going to leave right now," she announced.
Anakin straightened and took a deep breath. "...Hurry," he said quietly.
Amidala nodded determinedly. "In fact, you tell Obi Wan, that I'm on my way."
Anakin smiled slightly. "I will." He looked down briefly then raised his eyes slowly. "I love you," he whispered and his image faded.
Amidala turned to the handmaiden closest to her. "Go to Captain Panaka. Have him gather my crew and prepare my ship. We're going to Coruscant."
After a quick scalding shower, Anakin shaved and changed into clean clothes. He tried to sleep, but sleep was elusive. Anakin was too restless to sleep. He tried meditating, but images of Rubia kept interrupting his concentration. He couldn't keep them at bay. He kept seeing Obi Wan turn, striking down the warlord with one fatal stroke of his lightsaber, surely saving Anakin from certain death, but leaving himself vulnerable. Then he was falling back slowly, gracefully, like a willowy reed bending in the wind. Anakin caught him in his arms.... and sensed his excruciating pain.
Anakin quickly got up and shook the images and sensations out of his mind and reached a quick decision. He knew he would be unable to find any rest or peace here. There still had been no contact from the council; no news at all. He could not wait any longer. He crossed the room, pulled on a fresh cloak and hurried out the door.
Despite the late hour, the streets of Coruscant were full of pedestrians. Anakin quickly made his way through the tangled mass of varying species with a long, determined stride. He didn't know where he was going, but let the growing sense of his master's presence act as a beacon. He was vaguely aware of being addressed by beings he passed, but did not stop to acknowledge them. His tall, powerful, somewhat imposing frame seem to cut a straight path through the crowds. They scurried to get out of his way or more than likely be run down.
Anakin's head was pounding with pain, but he pushed on, ignoring his dizziness and exhaustion. He spied the hospital looming just ahead of him and breathed a sigh of relief.
He slipped into the building and continued on to the elevators. Obi Wan was close. He could sense him clearly now. Like the streets of Coruscant, the hospital hallways were bustling with activity.
Anakin made his way to the sixteenth floor where the patient's rooms were located. He walked up to the center nurse's station.
"Obi Wan Kenobi, where is he?" Anakin demanded.
The duty nurse shook his head. "That room is currently off limits and besides, visiting hours are long over, Sir."
Anakin glared intimidatingly down at him, straightening himself to his full height, and put his hands on his hips. "Do I look like I care about your damned administrative rules?" He brought the Force to bear on the suddenly cowering duty nurse. "A room number, now."
"412 east wing," the nurse informed, eyeing him warily.
Anakin turned on his heel and started up the hall, growling a thank you in reply.
As he got closer to the east wing, the halls became increasingly less crowded and noisy. Anakin thought it felt slightly ominous.
Room 412 was at the very end of the hall in a dimly lit annex. Taking a deep breath, Anakin slowly opened the door and peered inside.
The sight of his master gripped his heart with an intense physical pain. The once strong, vibrant Obi Wan Kenobi was now lying face down, strapped onto a rotating mechanism with tubing and wires of all kinds snaking from his outstretched arms to different whirring, humming, and beeping machines. He wore an oxygenator, and brain and heart monitors. His pallor was gray and his toned muscular torso now looked pulpy and bruised.
The rotator turned the jedi slowly, almost imperceptively around again. Anakin walked over to the side of the mechanism and knelt down. He swallowed the lump in his throat and reached out tentatively to touch his master's face.
"What are you doing here? You must have forgotten that you are supposed to sing the litany tomorrow at sunrise," he began softly. "I thought I'd better remind you."
Of course there was no reply or response. Anakin hadn't really expected one.
"He sings?" a low feminine voice asked, startling Anakin. He turned around and saw the same woman with the red cloak that he had seen back on the transport ship. She was sitting on the room's window ledge, her petite figure neatly tucked against the large window with her legs folded underneath her. She appeared to be about the same age as Obi Wan. She stared back at Anakin with large dark eyes enhanced by a smooth, pale complextion and framed by a mass of wavy black hair that draped over her shoulders.
Anakin had been too absorbed in the presence of his master to sense her before. Now the presence of the Force was clearly evident in her. He peered at her curiously.
"Who are you? Are you a jedi knight?" he asked.
She shook her head. "No. I'm a jedi healer. I'm his physician." She gestured at Obi Wan. "He sings, you said?" she repeated.
Anakin nodded slowly. "He can sing. Quite well actually, but he doesn't sing very often."
"Interesting,"she said simply. She slid off the ledge and walked over to Anakin, but kept her eyes on Obi Wan. "Anything you can tell me about him, even the smallest trivial detail will make it easier for me to connect with him. If I can reach him, I can help him heal," she told Anakin. She faced him and extended her hand in greeting. "I'm Master Selia Beellegee."
Anakin took her hand. "I'm Anakin Skywalker. I'm Obi Wan's apprentice."
She nodded. "I can sense the bond you have with him. You're very close to him aren't you?"
Anakin sighed and gazed sadly at his master. "Not as close as I would like but he still means a lot to me. I owe him so much. He's a good friend." He paused and reached out to push a loose strand of hair back from Obi Wan's face. "I call him my 'little brother,' " he relayed with a hint of a smile. "He dislikes it, so I don't do it very often, just when I know he's in a very receptive mood and he knows I'm not doing out of disrespect. We tease each other like that. In lighter moments..." Anakin licked his lips apprehensively. "I... can't imagine losing him now. We've been through so much together." His deep voice faltered slightly and he closed his eyes against a new wave of emotion he was feeling. "Please, tell me, I must know," he continued quietly. He tried to steel himself for the physician's possible reply. "Will he die?"
Selia sighed softly. "I'm not entirely sure at this point. He does have a lot in his favor however. He's young, strong, healthy. He's acutely attuned to the Force. His power is evident in the fact that he remains alive despite these injuries. If he were an ordinary man, if he were not a jedi, he would be dead, no doubt." She paused and locked her eyes on her patient, kneeling down beside Anakin. "He's fighting death valiantly; using everything he has. It's one of the reasons I have not been able to reach him yet." She offered Anakin a small smile. "In a sense, he's too busy to talk to me."
Anakin shook his head. "I guess I don't understand exactly."
Selia took a deep breath. "It's like falling off a cliff face, but catching yourself on a rocky crag. You're still strong enough to hold on, but only for awhile before your arms start to ache and you begin to tire. Then someone happens along and realizes you are fighting for your life. They reach down to offer to pull you back up. But first, you have to let go with one hand and take the hand that is being offered to you. Combining your strengths increases the chance you have of surviving. I'm here to pull him back up, but he must first give me his hand. So far, he hasn't." She paused and furrowed her brow. "If I can get to know him a little better, develop a true caring for the person he is, and not just as my patient, he might be a little more willing to trust me with his life."
Anakin nodded. "Interesting analogy," he rumbled thoughtfully. "Obi Wan has an uncanny knack for falling into any precipice and adeptly latching onto some 'craggy rock.' He seems to have done it again." Anakin lowered his eyes and stood up slowly. His head was pounding and the vertigo he had experienced earlier suddenly washed over him sending him staggering back a step. He grabbed his head with his hands.
Selia jumped to her feet and grabbed his arms to keep him from falling over. Carefully she guided him to a chair. Anakin sank slowly into it and looked up at her apologetically.
"Seems you are in need of a healer, yourself," she said. "I can sense the injury causing your pain. Let me help you, Anakin."
Anakin nodded hesitantly, not exactly sure as to what he was consenting to. "Very well. What do you need me to do?"
The healer smiled reassuringly and took his hands in hers. "Nothing really. Just relax and open your mind to me. Through it I can center the Force's healing energy wherever you need it. Combining my power with your own, you will heal faster, more thoroughly, and expend less of your own energy doing so." She closed her eyes and her face became void of all expression.
Anakin immediately sensed her power moving around him and in him. He closed his eyes as well and tried to remain in a state of passivity. He was able to hear Selia's voice in his mind as clearly as if she were speaking audibly. She began interrogating him in a flurry of rapid questions that Anakin's conscious mind could not grasp but found his subconscious mind responding readily on its own. His pain began to dissipate and his dizziness cleared. In its place came a warm sense of well-being. Selia's lifeforce flowed through him and strengthened him with rejuvenating power. Anakin could also sense her intense compassion and great respect for life. Her mercy enveloped him like a material bandage.
She slowly released his hands and stepped back to observe him. "You can open your eyes now. That is, if you want to."
Anakin opened his eyes slowly and smiled. "Your command of the Force is impressive to say the least. I feel much better physically and much more in tune to the Force myself than I have been these past few days." His smile faded suddenly and his eyes darkened somewhat. He looked across the room at his master. "Why can't you just help him? Why do you need his permission? You didn't need to speak to my consciousness, you spoke to my subconsciousness.
Selia frowned and lowered her eyes. "I tried to speak with his subconscious earlier. He is entirely focused on keeping himself alive right now. His subconscious does not respond to me."
Anakin sighed. "Well... can't you make him respond?"
Selia shook her head. "Remember my analogy? His subconscious is the hand I need him to give me before I can pull him up. Right now, he is still clinging to the cliff face with both hands."
Anakin looked over at his master, watching silently as the rotator began another revolution. The monitoring equipment shifted and rearranged itself to conicide with the mechanism's ever changing position. Obi Wan's body sagged against the numerous straps binding him to the device as he was once more turned face down. Anakin lowered his eyes and took a deep breath.
*Master, can you hear me?* he pleaded silently. *Master, you must let your physician help you.* He paused, waiting. Nothing. *Obi Wan, can you hear me at all?*
Anakin looked up at Selia.
She placed her hand on his shoulder. "Try not to be too discouraged. He may be able to hear you, but not able to respond to you." She turned and walked back to the window ledge. She slid onto it agiley and sat cross-legged in the corner leaning against the pane.
For a long while, the only sounds in the room came from the life monitors and support systems. Anakin watched his master and counted the revolutions he made in the time that passed. Finally, he glanced back at the jedi healer and asked, "Why is he being turned constantly?" His voice was thick with fatigue and emotion.
Selia's eyes were closed and she appeared to be meditating but answered him readily. "It keeps pressure off his wounds and improves circulation," she explained. "I realize it looks distressing, but in truth, he is more comfortable being in motion like that than if he were lying flat and stationery."
Anakin frowned. "I hope you are right. To me, it looks damned uncomfortable." He paused, collecting his thoughts. "Master Selia, do you feel that Obi Wan is resisting your help? If so, why would he do a thing like that?"
The healer opened her eyes and faced the apprentice. "He may believe he is too far away for me to reach him. He may be trying to protect me. Maybe he doesn't want to pull me down with him."
Anakin sat forward, his gaze piercing. "Is there a danger of that happening?"
Selia nodded slowly, hesitantly. "Only a very powerful healer should even attempt to bring someone from the brink of death. Sometimes, a patient is too deeply submerged inside themselves when I reach them. It takes a great deal of strength and manipulation of the Force to revive them." She raised her hands and clasped them together. "Our minds are locked together, like hands that are clasped. A dying person pulls me towards death as hard as I pull them towards life." She smiled slightly. "But fear not, I haven't lost a tug o' war match yet," she added to ease the gravity of her revelation. Then more seriously: "It's what I do, Anakin. It's why I was assigned to your master."
Anakin shuddered involuntarily. "Your courage truly gives you the heart of a jedi." He looked at her, awed. "You don't even know him and yet you are willing to take a risk like that to save him."
"It's no different from what you knights do. You constantly place yourselves in harm's way for beings you know even less about," the healer responded softly. "I know him enough to care about him and want to save him. And I care about those who hold him high regard, to want to save him for them as well."
Anakin offered her a grateful smile. "I'm very glad you are his physician. I feel if anyone can help him, you can."
Selia lowered her head humbly. "Thank you, Anakin. That's very encouraging."
Anakin turned to gaze at his master. "He's a good master," Anakin said, more to himself than Selia. "He has certainly been there for me through thick and thin. He puts up with me--that alone makes him worthy of my veneration. I haven't exactly been a model apprentice and I tend to argue with him a great deal." He paused and sighed regretfully. "He's a disciple of the rules and procedure. He follows the code to the letter. I'm unyielding and rebellious by nature, so you can imagine the clash of personalities we suffer. Despite all that, I can't imagine being anywhere else but by his side." A slow smile lit Anakin's handsome features. "Now and then, on rare but valued occasions, he acquaints me with another side of himself. He has this dry, sarcastic sense of humor and a real mischievious streak that surfaces only with people he's very close to. He can be a lot of fun at times. Mostly he is viewed only as this wise, stoic master and that's unfortunate. He's so much more than that." Anakin inhaled deeply, folding his arms over his chest and bowing his head, submerging himself in different memories.
Selia frowned. "I wish I could get to know him like that," she said somewhat wistfully. She peered over at Obi Wan and slipped off the window ledge. She walked over to him and knelt down. She drew the Force in around her and concentrated, centering her thoughts deep in his mind.
*Obi Wan? Please let me help you. Don't wage this battle on your own. Please answer me.*
She waited, but there was still no response. She lowered her eyes and disappointment clouded her face. Anakin sighed heavily.
"Nothing?" he asked
She shook her head and standing up again, turned to face him. "You need rest. You're very nearly exhausted."
Anakin shrugged. "Actually I feel much better than I did earlier." He glanced over at Obi Wan. "Master, you really ought to give this healing thing a try. It's done wonders for me." He turned his eyes slowly back to Selia and frowned. "I'm fine, really. Don't worry about me, keep your focus on him."
"Then let me stay focused on him," she chided gently. "I can't if I'm continually distracted sensing your fatigue. I'm attuned to suffering of all kinds and naturally have the desire to remedy it. You need sleep, Anakin. I don't want another stubborn patient. I've got my hands full with your master over there. Now go. There's a lounge across the hall."
Anakin looked over at the petite woman rebuking him and was slightly taken aback. Her tone left little room for argument and her expression dared further protests. He sighed and reluctantly nodded.
Selia took ahold of his large hand and helped him to his feet. Then she pointed at the door.
"I'm going," Anakin mumbled, then grinned. "I get that same look from Obi Wan when he means business. I've learned not to cross him when he looks at me that way."
Selia's expression softened with her smile. "No small feat considering you must tower over him."
Anakin looked back longingly at Obi Wan. "Well for a long time he 'towered' over me." He turned slowly and headed for the door. "In a lot of ways, he still does." With that, he left.
Selia went over to the wall and powered down the lights in the room. She took a deep breath and crossed the room to the injured jedi in her charge. She sat gracefully on the floor beside the rotator, folding her legs underneath her, as her long red cloak pooled on the floor around her. She fixed her eyes on the jedi's face, observing the shadows the lights from the window cast over him. His expression was one of complete serenity, as if he were merely dozing in the warmth of a summer sun instead of fighting for his life in a hospital.
Tentatively, Selia reached out and touched his cheek. She smiled slightly, gazing at him admiringly. He wasn't overtly handsome in the classical sense, but she found him quite attractive just the same.
*You must have broken some hearts along the way, haven't you?*
She traced her finger along his brow and lashes and wondered about the color of his eyes. She wondered too how he must look when he smiled and traced the curve of his jaw and the dimple on his chin. She found herself wishing he would look at her and smile. It saddened her deeply to think he may never be able to.
*You're breaking my heart right now. And I haven't even gotten the chance to know you. I really would like to get to know you better, Obi Wan. Why won't you talk to me? You have managed to touch me inexplicably, yet you have no qualms of leaving me, never giving me the opportunity to get to experience you.*
She placed her palm against the center of his chest and could feel his heart faintly beating. She watched her hand move up and down with the rhythm of his breathing and she sighed heavily.
*You are frightened, I can feel it. Try not to be. I'm here for you. Please trust me. I know your suffering is great. I can feel the pain inside you; the ravaging your body has endured. Open your mind to me. I can ease the pain. Let me fill you with the Force's power to heal. I have done all I can for you without this connection, but I fear it may not be enough. Even now, the lifeforce within you dims.*
The rotating mechanism began another slow turn. Selia studied the monitors, and bit her lip worriedly. She wondered how much longer he could keep himself alive. There had been a noticable decline in his condition since he was first brought here. She focused herself, concentrating the Force, drawing strength from it for the inevitable battle that was to come. She began slowly stroking his hair.
*I refuse to let you die without a fight, jedi. One way or another, I will connect with you.*
A tear suddenly spilled from the healer's eye. It surprised her and she wiped it away quickly. What was it about this man? Why did she feel so strongly about him? She had had thousands of patients before him and she cared about the well being of each and every one of them, but with him there was something more. Something gripping in its novelty. Selia sighed heavily.
*Can you sense what I feel? Does it convince you how much I care? Because I think I'm falling in love with you... I am in love with you. And you won't even talk to me.*
Anakin was shaken awake by strong hands grasping his shoulders. He pried his eyes open and saw the jedi master Depa Billaba kneeling in front of the sofa he had sprawled out on. She rose slowly when she was satisfied he was awake.
Anakin swung his long legs over the side of the sofa and rubbed his head.
"We had a feeling you would be here," the jedi master spoke at last.
Anakin grinned up at her. "A little jedi humor, Master Billaba?"
She smiled faintly. "You were to remain in your quarters, Padawan Skywalker," she continued. "You have been through a great deal and injured as well. It was not safe for you to venture out."
"I'm sorry, Master," Anakin replied without the slightest trace of remorse. "I needed to be with Obi Wan."
Depa Billaba straightened, folding her arms over her chest and buried her hands in the voluminous sleeves of her dark brown cloak.
"Considering the circumstances, there will be no reproach, but when we could not find you we became concerned. We care for you as well. You took it upon yourself to go off, without a word. You showed very little regard for us," she stated with subtle reproach, despite what she had just assured him.
I know," Anakin sighed. "I am sorry," he added sincerely. He bowed his head in submission.
"Master Yoda sent me here. We have not received any word as to how Obi Wan is doing. So, I gather there is little change in his overall condition?"
Anakin shook his head slowly. "If anything, he's getting worse."
Depa Billaba sighed heavily. She placed her hand on his shoulder.
"This is very unfortunate to say the least. It distresses us all substantially." She paused and Anakin felt her sadness. He placed his hand over hers and sent feelings of reassurance to her through the Force.
She smiled gratefully. "I will go see him," she announced.
Anakin stood up stiffly. "I'll come with you."
The room was very dark, but no one bothered with the lights.
Selia Beellegee had tucked herself back in the corner on the window ledge. Her eyes were closed and she appeared to be mediating again. She did not stir when the two jedi entered.
Depa Billaba glanced at her and then at Anakin with a questioning look.
"His healer," Anakin explained.
The jedi master nodded, then turned her attention to Obi Wan. She took a deep breath and crouched beside him.
"May the Force be with you, Obi Wan," she whispered. She took the jedi's hand and squeezed it lightly and tenderly stroked his face with her fingertips. She turned her head to face Anakin, who stood slightly behind her. "His strength is failing," she informed quietly. "The lifeforce in him is barely perceptible. It won't be long now."
Anakin felt his throat constrict painfully. His heart clenched inside his chest and he whirled around to face Selia.
"Do something! Anything!" he growled.
Selia slowly opened her eyes. "I am. I'm letting him die."
Her words struck him like a blow. He was so stunned he didn't know what to say at first. Suddenly he found his emotions speaking for him.
"You are giving up then? I though you had the heart of a jedi, but I can see I was wrong."
Depa Billaba rose slowly. She moved to stand by Anakin. "Anakin, it may just be too late."
Selia took a deep steadying breath. "He has been too strong for me to be able to reach him," she went on to explain. "He has effectively blocked his mind from me. But he is weakening. He'll need to free his mind and center all his power on healing his body. He hasn't done this yet, but he'll have to soon. I might be able to get him to respond to me then."
Anakin's eyes lit with realization. "You're saying there's still a chance."
Selia nodded. "A slight one."
Anakin reached out and grasped the physician's wrist, hauling her off the ledge and over to his master.
"Let me help you," Anakin exclaimed. "Let me enter his mind with you. With our combined power, he'll have no choice. It will decrease the risk for you and it may reassure him enough to cooperate. Together, we can bring him back."
Selia was already shaking her head.
"You don't understand what you are saying, Anakin. You are speaking from your heart and not your head. I will not let you place yourself in danger this way."
Anakin looked down on the healer with an icy expression. "I have placed myself in danger for him time and time again. He has done no less for me. You said it yourself, what we do in the field is no different from what you do in someone's mind. You have to let me help you."
"Anakin," Depa Billaba began quietly. "Be reminded, you are addressing a jedi master. You will make no further demands of her."
Anakin shot her a brief irritated look and pointed at Obi Wan. "He's my master. The only master I want."
Depa Billaba frowned. "He's certainly the only one who has any kind of control over you, be it tenuous at best," she reprimanded him sharply. Slowly she turned to face Selia, her voice softening considerably. "Let him, Master. If anyone can reach Obi Wan, Anakin can." She paused to scowl at the unruly apprentice and took a deep breath. "Please, for all our sakes," she added.
The three jedi stood regarding each other, immersed in deep thought and warring with the emotional tension in the room.
Suddenly a faint, pain-wracked moan behind them shattered the oppressive silence, causing them to turn as one in the direction of the dying jedi.
Selia calmly took Anakin's hand and led him slowly over to the rotator. As soon as the mechanism had turned Obi Wan face up, she flipped two switches on the base of the device and shut it down.
"It's time," she announced, the presence of the Force emminating from her with more power than Anakin had felt in her before. "He's giving up... letting go," she whispered, her eyes distant. "This is our chance. Reach for him, Anakin. He has to respond, he's too weak not to. Open his mind for me and I'll take it from there."
Anakin dropped to his knees beside his master and seized his hand in his, tears streaming from his eyes. He closed them tightly and concentrated intensely, amassing the Force with potent ability.
*Master? Master, damn and blast, enough of this! Answer me!* He paused and waited a moment before continuing. *You promised to make a jedi out of me and I'm still a long way from anything resembling a jedi. I'm holding you to that promise, Master... Don't leave me now. I need you.*
*Forgive me, Padawan. I cannot stay alive much longer. I'm exhausted. I have nothing left.*
Anakin centered his own lifeforce on Obi Wan, sending wave after wave of his power to his master to strengthen him.
*Center on me, Obi Wan. Use my strength. Fill yourself with my presence.*
There was no reply, but Anakin suddenly felt Obi Wan's hand tighten around his own. He looked down at it and then smiled knowingly at Selia. She stood beside him and placed her hand on his shoulder.
*Master, there is a healer here.*
*You must let her help you.*
*No. I fear for her.*
Anakin tightened his grip on Obi Wan's hand.
*She is powerful and courageous. She wants to help you. Open yourself to her healing. You need to connect with her if you want to survive. She's the only one who can save you now.*
*Yes, I am aware of this.*
The Force shifted inside the jedi's mind. Anakin was suddenly overwhelmed by a flood of surfacing thoughts and images, emotions, and long faded memories that made up the conscious mind of his master. He also became aware of the severe physical pain Obi Wan was fighting and his slowly failing life functions that made up his subconsciousness.
*Obi Wan Kenobi. I'm Master Selia Beellegee.*
*I'm very pleased to meet you finally. I've heard a lot about you.*
Selia paused, her heart was pounding with anticipation. She wondered briefly if Obi Wan could sense just how thrilling it was for her to finally be able to speak with him.
*Focus entirely on me, Obi Wan. Just trust me and let yourself go. The Force will sustain you and then begin to heal you. It's frightening, I know, but it is the only way at this point. I promise, I will catch you. I won't let you fall.*
The jedi breathed in a deep lungful of air and released it slowly.
*Catch me then.*
Suddenly all the monitors blinked off and an oppressive silence filled the darkened room. Selia plunged herself into Obi Wan's subconscious, using all her strength and command of the Force. She felt her own mind begin to darken and struggled to focus her healing powers more intensely. She could still feel his presence and wrapped the Force around it to securely tether it to her. She sensed Anakin's presence as well, and fed off his lifeforce, drawing from his amazing power to strengthen her connection to the dying jedi. She was grateful for Anakin's help. Obi Wan truly had nothing left to fight with. It was entirely up to Selia and Anakin to keep him alive now until he healed enough to be pulled from death's door.
The monitors suddenly lit up again just as fast as they had previously shut down.
Depa Billaba released a long pent up breath she hadn't realized she was even holding. She studied the gauges and was pleased to see they showed improvement. Steadily, the monitors' reading increased even more as minutes passed. She looked over at Obi Wan and saw that his color was already improving and he was breathing much more regularly than before.
Concentrating deeply, Anakin vaguely heard Selia communicating with Obi Wan. He could clearly feel the Force flowing through her and into the injured jedi who absorbed it readily. Anakin could also feel him responding. He was healing and growing stronger with each passing second. Anakin continued to center his power on Selia, lending it to her to use where she needed.
Anakin felt Obi Wan squeeze his hand. He opened his eyes and looked fondly at his master and smiled.
"Welcome back, Obi Wan," he whispered, his heart racing with a knowing certainty.
Depa Billaba stepped forward and looked down at Anakin. "He just may make a jedi out of you yet," she told him and smiled.
Amidala motioned for her handmaidens to stay back as she continued alone pass the center nurse's station and to the room on the west side just three doors past the elevators. She approached the door with a sense of dread, not really knowing what to expect. She certainly did not expect to hear laughter and quickly rechecked the room number on the door before opening it.
She peeked inside. Anakin, Master Mace Windu, Depa Billaba, Plo Koon, and Ki Adi Mundi stood side by side around the perimeter, facing the center of the room, blocking her view. Anakin suddenly turned around.
"Ami!" he greeted and caught her up in her arms. He kissed her, crushing her to him in a tight hug.
Amidala was too startled to properly kiss him back. She squirmed in his arms to free herself so she could gain a better assessment of the situation.
Anakin released her finally and ushered her past a wall of jedi that blocked her way.
"Master! Look who has come to see you," Anakin sang out.
Amidala stepped towards the center of the room and was delighted to find Obi Wan not only alive, but sitting up and smiling at her. He stretched out his hand towards her and she seized it, suddenly bursting into tears of relief. Obi Wan pulled her closer to him and hugged her comfortingly.
"Your Highness, I'm flattered," he said, his voice still somewhat shaky and weak, but music to her ears all the same.
"Obi Wan Kenobi, you half scared me out of my wits!" she scolded. "Now I see it was all for naught."
"Oh he scared all of us quite well with his usual thorough proficiency," Master Mace Windu spoke up.
Obi Wan grinned at the off-handed compliment and inclined his head in thanks.
"We know he's feeling stronger now because he been 'hitting' on his healer all afternoon," Anakin teased.
Obi Wan shot his apprentice a threatening look then faced Amidala. "I've done no such thing," he assured her. "I've merely been trying to bribe her into releasing me from this wretched place. I loathe hospitals. And besides, I feel fine."
"You're a horrible liar, Obi Wan Kenobi," said Depa Billaba. "You are far from fine and you were too, as Anakin put it, 'hitting' on Master Selia. You keep offering to take her out to dinner. You call that a bribe?"
Obi Wan tried to look insulted. "Can you blame me? The food here is atrocious," he complained. His expression changed as his eyes rested on his healer, who was leaning inconspicuously against the window ledge. His gaze was beckoning. "It is the very least I could do for her," he continued softly. "She did save my life."
Selia gazed back at him with undisguised affection. She came forward and stood possessively beside him.
Amidala could see the warmth in his eyes and the sincerity of his smile. She raised her brow curiously and smiled slightly, knowingly.
Selia addressed the visiting jedi. "He should rest now," she said with calm authority. "You may come back this evening if you wish."
One by one, the jedi said their farewells and filed dutifully out of the room.
Obi Wan faced Amidala and smiled. He leaned forward and kissed her cheek. "It is nice to see you again," he told her in all earnest. She squeezed his hand and stood up.
"It's even better to see you."
Obi Wan looked up at Anakin, then back to Amidala. "Take care of him for me."
Amidala nodded. "I promise." She looked up at Anakin, her eyes sparkling. She slipped her hand in his and leaned into him.
Anakin gazed down at Obi Wan, his expression conveying countless unspoken sentiments. Obi Wan smiled at him and nodded understandingly.
Anakin bowed slightly. "Master."
"Padawan," Obi Wan replied. "Go now. I'll see you tonight." Then he looked at Amidala and added, "Maybe."
Amidala and Anakin exchanged smiles. They turned and walked slowly out of the room still hand in hand, their eyes never leaving each other.
As soon as the door closed behind them, Obi Wan faced Selia.
"So, Master Selia," he began quietly. "Whenever it is you do decide to let me out of here...would you still want to have a dinner with me?"
Selia smiled indulgently and lowered her eyes. "There is such a thing as a possible violation of the doctor/patient relationship," she informed him, trying her best to sound bureaucratic. "Besides, please don't feel any obligation to me. You don't owe me anything."
Obi Wan lowered his eyes. "Forgive me, I didn't mean to imply I was asking you out of obligation. I am asking you because I want to ensure that I will see you again."
Selia swallowed hard and stared back at him, afraid to believe the possible innuendo behind his words.
As if sensing her hesitation, Obi Wan reached up and touched her cheek with his fingertips. He traced a pattern on her face from her brow to her eyelashes and down along her jaw. He smiled with a mischievious gleam in his bright blue eyes as recognition suddenly dawned on her.
"Don't worry about violating any hospital rules," he continued. "When I'm released from here, I won't be your patient anymore and you won't be my physician. I'll just be a man and you'll just be a woman. Please say yes. I'd really like to get to know you better too."
Selia's eyes widened. "You heard me! You were aware of me, weren't you?"
Obi Wan nodded. "I heard everything. I sensed everything. You had me quite intrigued."
Selia sighed exasperated. "Why didn't you acknowledge me then? Why didn't you let me help you sooner?"
Obi Wan took her hand and pulled her down until she was sitting next to him on the side of the bed. He gazed steadily at her and sighed heavily.
"Because I began to care for you."
Selia lowered her eyes and took a steadying breath. "Then... you also must know how I feel about you."
Selia forced herself to look up at him.
"I don't understand it myself. Of course, I care for my patients. But you really had a hold of my heart. From the moment I saw you. Then, every little detail I learned about you from Anakin just made me fall deeper. I just had to experience you for myself."
"Do I still have a hold of your heart then?"
Selia smiled and blushed attractively. "Yes."
Obi Wan smiled warmly. "Then let me experience you, Selia."
Her heart pounding wildly, she nodded finally. "Dinner?" she whispered, as he brought her hand slowly to his lips and kissed it. "That's the least I could do..."