Prevalence of Light

by Bren Antrim ( )

Archive: master_apprentice, and my homepage ( )

Category: Alternate Universe, Obi/Other, Mace/Other

Rating: NC-17

Warnings: Sex, explicit slash and implicit het. Violence.

Spoilers: Alternate ending for Ep. III: Revenge of the Sith.

Summary: Anakin chooses a different confidant and love, not hatred, prevails.

Feedback: Sure, any comments welcome.

Comment: This is my happy ending.

He didn’t like to believe it of Padme, but Anakin couldn’t help the suspicions that rose up. Obi-Wan going behind his back like that, coming over when he wasn’t there under the pretense of worrying about Anakin, then Padme so conveniently insisting that Obi-Wan could help him. Them.


Was there still a ‘them’ to help? Anakin was beginning to wonder, and those doubts, on top of all the other uncertainty in his life, were driving him slowly mad.

He had to do something about it. Had to lay at least one doubt to rest. He could do nothing about the Council’s suspicions of him, or the Chancellor’s expectations, or Padme’s fears, but he could watch Obi-Wan and see if his Master was trying to take away his wife.

Without a word to anyone, Anakin went down to the armory and took out a tiny portable holovid projector. He then spent several hours tinkering with it, much in the way he used to lose himself in machines as a child. By the time he was finished, he had an impossible-to-see, Force-shielded, personally-locked spy-corder of his very own.

That very afternoon, he set it after Obi-Wan.

Anakin picked his time carefully. He would be away performing political face-time duties for the Chancellor; Padme would be home (supposedly alone); Obi-Wan had no pressing engagements after the last of the debriefings. If ever she would cheat on him, if every THEY would cheat on him, this would be the perfect opportunity.

Late that night, long after his duties were complete and Padme slept peacefully beside him, Anakin quietly pressed a Force suggestion into her head to stay deeply asleep. He then removed himself to the meditation room on the garden level. Locking the doors and centering himself to be prepared for betrayal, he called the spy-corder to him and commanded it to report.

It wasn’t exactly what he expected.

The image flickered a few times then settled into a clear view. The spy-corder worked perfectly, pacing Obi-Wan as he moved, the man blind to the spy.

Obi-Wan walked a measured path down the corridor of the Temple, nodding to passing Knights and smiling at the younglings straggling around like tiny flocks of pig-tailed geese. Anakin knew Obi-Wan well enough to recognize the anticipation in his expression, although the surface calm would fool anyone who didn’t know him well. For an instant, rage swept through Anakin, that they should desecrate the Temple this way, that Padme should take even that away from him, that Obi-Wan should sink so low as to steal another man’s wife in the heart of the sanctuary that stood for everything good and noble…

Then Obi-Wan entered a door Anakin had never seen and it Force-locked behind him. The spy-corder barely made it in the room before the door slammed shut. Anakin’s eyes widened as Master Mace Windu, of all people, came forward out of the shadows of the room.

Swept Obi-Wan into an embrace uncannily similar to the one Anakin had taken Padme into the day before, and kissed Obi-Wan soundly on the mouth.

Anakin sputtered.

What was this?

Where was Padme?

Then the surrealism of seeing his calm, centered, cool and grounded Master grinning like an idiot as Mace Windu began to strip him of his clothing knocked Anakin the rest of the way off balance, and he could do nothing but watch.




And, the emotion rising up from the depths of his soul, almost unbearably relieved.

Obi-Wan gave himself up into Mace’s eager hands, laughing gently as much at his own impatience as at Mace’s.

“I didn’t think you were ever going to get back here, Obi-Wan,” Mace grumbled, flicking belt and robe and sash to the corner with a wave of his hand and setting to work on Obi-Wan’s trouser fastenings.

“Hang on,” Obi-Wan laughed, catching Mace’s shoulder for balance before he landed flat on his back. It was a little too early for that just yet. “Let me get out of my boots or I’ll be tangled up in a knot and you’ll never get me unwrapped.”

“Watch me,” Mace challenged him. With another wave of his hand, the buckles on Obi-Wan’s boots flew open and the leather tugged his feet right out from under him.

With a yelp disguised as a chuckle, Obi-Wan wrapped his arms around Mace’s neck and hung on. The height difference was enough to give him purchase as his boots peeled away. Mace then stripped him of his trousers the old-fashioned way – with his hands.

Taking time to stroke and sooth every inch of skin he found as he uncovered it.

By the time Obi-Wan half-stood, half-clung to Mace’s solid frame, dressed in nothing but the unfastened tunic hanging from his shoulders, laughter was a distant memory, consumed by rising passion.

It was always like this; had always been like this, from the moment Mace had first come to Obi-Wan, newly-knighted, grieving for Qui-Gon and overwhelmed with the responsibility of Anakin. Mace had moved slowly in the course of his courtship, but his support and caring had never wavered. Over time it had deepened to the steady fire they both felt.

When Obi-Wan finally, truly realized that Qui-Gon was dead, and he would never be able to act on the love he’d felt for his Master, new feelings for Mace had taken root, and softened the blow of that loss. It had been a difficult transition, that final step into adulthood, dealing with a new life, with a Padawan of his own.

Mace made it bearable, then enjoyable, until he was indispensable to Obi-Wan’s well-being. They were often separated by the war and by their duties as Jedi, but the love they felt for one another gave them hope, and strength, and a refuge from the horror of years of warfare.

Obi-Wan was quite sure Mace was what kept him sane, during the darkest times.

But this wasn’t a time for remembering; this was a time for taking comfort from one another. Obi-Wan shrugged off the last piece of clothing between his skin and Mace’s hands, and gave Mace a reproachful look.

“You are overdressed for the occasion, you know,” he chided.

Mace grinned down at him. “Are you going to do anything about that?”

“Ah, just what I like… a challenge!” With that, Obi-Wan swiftly turned his hold on Mace from supporting himself to pressing swiftly at Mace’s ankle, knee and hip. A moment of Force-manipulation later, they were across the room and Mace lay beneath him on the bed, laughing up at Obi-Wan’s triumphant grin.

Mace’s laughter died, as well, as Obi-Wan worked his way steadily through the fastenings on his robes and tunic and trousers and belt and boots, not stopping for anything. Mace’s skin was soft beneath his tongue as Obi-Wan sated himself with everything he’d missed in the last several months. A trace of salt and sandalwood, a taste and scent unique to Mace, filled Obi-Wan’s head, making him a little dizzy, interfering with his concentration as he finished the job, but eventually he did, and Mace lay beneath him in all his naked glory.

“Glorious,” Obi-Wan breathed, thought father to word, and Mace laughed again, softly this time, understanding and answering need in his deep brown eyes. Large hands came up to cup Obi-Wan’s face and they kissed again, a slow, leisurely exploration of lips and teeth and tongue.

Obi-Wan gave up even trying to think, then, as Mace dragged his hands down Obi-Wan’s jaw line down his neck and over his shoulders, around and down his back to curve around his flanks, pulling him in close until they both groaned from the contact.

“So sweet,” Mace rumbled, his words muffled in the skin at the base of Obi-Wan’s throat, and the sensation made Obi-Wan shudder.

In response, Mace held him even closer, and began to rock up against him. Obi-Wan called on every ounce of self-restraint he’d ever had and managed to croak, “Wait.”

It took a moment for the request to penetrate the fog of passion enveloping Mace’s mind, but he did eventually stop. He pulled his face back from Obi-Wan’s neck and asked, simply, “Why?”

“I want…” Everything, Obi-Wan thought, but didn’t know how to say it. He didn’t want this to be fast, no matter how urgent his – their – need had become. He wanted to feel it, wanted to stretch it out as long as he could, wanted to have Mace touch him so deeply he’d feel the echo of that touch for weeks, in the long lonely times when they had to be apart.

Giving up on verbal articulation, Obi-Wan settled for showing rather than telling. He pushed Mace down until he was flat on the bed. He then began to kiss a slow trail from Mace’s chest, directly over his heart, along the smooth skin of his abdomen, skirting the erection rising to meet his advance to tease along the warm skin beneath. Mace gave a strangled moan that sounded something like a plea, and Obi-Wan grinned into the soft hot line where Mace’s thigh met his pelvis before dropping a quick, sharp nip there.

Mace roared as he sat straight up, his hands burying themselves in Obi-Wan’s hair. Before he could pull Obi-Wan completely off him, Obi-Wan dipped his head and licked across the top of Mace’s erection.

Mace melted back down onto the bed as if his bones had disappeared. Obi-Wan snickered.

“Brat,” Mace scolded. The scolding would have been more effective if it were less affectionate.

Obi-Wan simply nodded agreement, then lowered his head and swallowed Mace’s erection down to the root.

That prompted a wail from Mace that made Obi-Wan chuckle again. Given how his throat was occupied at the time of his laughter, that also provoked an interesting reaction. Mace shivered all the way from his scalp to the soles of his feet and choked out, “Unless you wish this to be over before it has scarcely begun, I’d recommend a little less intensity.”

He had a point, Obi-Wan reluctantly conceded, and very slowly withdrew back up until only the head rested against his lips.

Then he blew, very softly, right across the top of the glans.

So much for restraint. Mace gave a rumbling groan and came hard. Obi-Wan barely had time to open his mouth before he was swallowing. Once he caught up he didn’t let go until Mace was completely relaxed beneath him. Then he crawled up Mace’s body, reversing his earlier trail of kisses until he could close his mouth over Mace’s.

Mace returned his kiss with characteristic thoroughness, and by the time his tongue finished exploring every inner surface of Obi-Wan’s mouth, Obi-Wan was near the end of his own endurance. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the entire time Mace was kissing him, he was also caressing him, hands sweeping over his skin, closer and closer to Obi-Wan’s erection, until he finally took pity on the tiny panting moans Obi-Wan couldn’t help making and wrapped his hand around the source of heat. A few tight, twisting strokes, and Obi-Wan shuddered once before curling into Mace’s hand and coming so hard the world went white.

When he came back to himself, Mace lay next to him, half-wrapped around him, their legs tangled together, watching his face. When he was sure Obi-Wan was coherent again, he dragged his fingers through the spill on Obi-Wan’s belly and lazily licked them clean.

“Oh, mercy,” Obi-Wan whispered, feeling every molecule in his being respond to the blatant invitation in Mace’s move. As he felt himself hardening again, he had to laugh a little. Mace gave him an inquisitive look.

“I was thinking… it’s probably just as well we save up for these times we can be together. Between the long dry spells and the little time we actually get to be with one another, it’s a good thing we’ve got stamina-”

Mace wrapped his sticky hand back around Obi-Wan’s swelling erection and interrupted with, “And a quick recovery time.”

Obi-Wan’s response was too strangled to make sense, not that either noticed. With the edge off, they were able to take their time, and they did.

Over the course of the next hour, Mace reacquainted himself with every curve and line of Obi-Wan’s body, and Obi-Wan returned the favor. Touch flowed into touch, breath mingling with breath or ghosting over skin until they were so closely bound the only way to tell where one began and the other ended was the blend from deep brown to creamy pale skin. They were complete, together, in a way neither was apart, although it was a secret completeness, and one others didn’t know to look for, so didn’t see.

In the end, sweat glazed their bodies as they moved together. Mace lay back against the pillows, his knees raised to support Obi-Wan’s back, as Obi-Wan rocked over him, taking Mace deep inside then rising on his knees to nearly release him before sinking back down onto him again. They moved slowly, absorbing one another, eyes locked, Obi-Wan’s hands balancing himself against Mace’s chest as Mace reached between them to pull gently on Obi-Wan’s erection.

After what felt like, at once, forever and an instant, the urgency rose too greatly to deny, and Obi-Wan moved faster, pushing harder as Mace arched into him, Mace’s hand on him matching the swifter movement perfectly. Obi-Wan’s head fell back as he came, his mouth opening to moan Mace’s name, and shivered before collapsing into Mace’s arms. Mace followed shortly thereafter, muffling his scream in Obi-Wan’s mouth, arms clenching around Obi-Wan’s back to hold him close.

They lay like that for some time, breath settling, wound so tightly together they appeared to be one figure, perfectly complementary in dark brown and cream.

Anakin stared at the sight of the two Masters twined together. Obi-Wan’s head rested against Mace’s chest. Mace’s arms were wrapped around Obi-Wan’s back. Their legs were tangled together, Mace’s longer smooth brown legs rubbing lazily against Obi-Wan’s furry freckled legs even in his near-sleep. Their embrace bespoke peace and exhaustion, haven and acceptance.


Perhaps Padme was right.

Perhaps Obi-Wan could help them.

At least, Obi-Wan might understand, in a way Anakin didn’t think any of the other Masters ever would.

Anakin reached out to turn off the holovid when he heard Obi-Wan say something to Mace. Catching his name, he ran the vid back and paid closer attention, listening intently.

“I’m worried about Ani, Mace.” It was evident in his voice. He burrowed more deeply into Mace’s arms and sighed. “Something’s not right. I even went to ask Padme if she had any idea what might be bothering him. I’m very worried about him.”

Mace dusted a kiss across the top of Obi-Wan’s head and sighed. “You know I don’t trust him, Obi-Wan.”

“I know.” Obi-Wan sounded resigned, as if this was an old argument, never resolved. “But I do trust him, with my life. He’s never let me down. I don’t believe he ever will.”

“I hope for your sake you’re right.” Mace pressed another kiss onto Obi-Wan, this one on his forehead, then closed his eyes and rumbled, “You can but ask. If he trusts you, and he can tell you, he will.”

A moment later, Mace was asleep. Obi-Wan tightened his hold on Mace and mumbled sadly, “I hope he does.” Then his eyes closed and he joined Mace in slumber.

Anakin slowly reached over and turned off the holovid. Padme spoke the truth. He would go to Obi-Wan. It was time to ask for help.

When he returned to bed, Padme was awake. He smiled at her, reassuring her as much as he could that things would be all right.

She knew him better than he knew himself. She could tell he’d come to a decision, and for once she didn’t press him for details. Instead, she simply drew him down into the circle of her embrace and told him how much she loved him with her kiss.

More aroused than he would have expected from watching his Master make love, Anakin gently lay Padme down against the soft sheets and showed her, in return, how he worshipped her. Losing himself in her strong arms and soft thighs, gently touching the roundness of her abdomen where their child rested, cradling her beloved face in his hands as he kissed her, Anakin felt for the first time in a very long time that the future at last held hope.

That night held no more terrors for him. For a single night, at least, love brought respite from fear.

Anakin caught up with Obi-Wan outside the library. He fought a grin at how relaxed his Master looked, knowing he held much the same expression himself.

Obi-Wan looked up from his data pad and saw him, returning his smile with a slightly puzzled one of his own. “You look happy, Anakin. That’s a good sign.”

Anakin nodded, then looked around to ensure they weren’t overheard. “Master, I must… I need to ask your advice.”

Obi-Wan’s eyes narrowed in a familiar look of concern. “Are you all right?”

“Not here,” Anakin answered, drawing Obi-Wan into an empty conference room. Once the door was closed and locked, Anakin turned to find Obi-Wan perched on the table, staring at him, the data pad forgotten on the table beside him.

“You’re worrying me, Anakin. What’s wrong?”

His voice was gentle, inviting confidence rather than commanding it. The words of a friend, not a master. That alone would have reassured Anakin. Given what he now knew of Obi-Wan’s private life, he was convinced he’d made the right choice of confidant. Obi-Wan would understand; Yoda would not. Anakin dropped into a chair in front of Obi-Wan and looked up at him earnestly.

“I need your help. Do you remember…” Anakin’s voice broke, and he stopped for a moment to gather his composure before continuing. “Do you remember when my mother was murdered? I had nightmares about it for weeks before it happened.”

“I remember,” Obi-Wan answered, looking, if possible, even more concerned. “Are you having nightmares again?”

Anakin nodded, unable for the moment to speak past the lump in his throat.

“Is it… are you the one, in your nightmare?”

Anakin shook his head, and Obi-Wan leaned forward.

“Is it someone you know?” Another nod, and Obi-Wan continued. “Someone you love? I can see this has been bothering you for some time.”

Clearing his throat and taking a deep breath, Anakin said quietly, “It’s Padme. She dies… in childbirth.”

Obi-Wan’s swift intake of air showed Anakin how much that shocked him. Anakin relaxed still further at this sign of affection and worry for Padme, now that he was certain it was not romantic interest that spurred Obi-Wan’s concern.

“She’s my wife,” Anakin continued, his voice stronger now, happiness running beneath the confession.

Obi-Wan jolted in shock and nearly slid off the table. Anakin automatically grabbed hold of his arm to steady him. Obi-Wan wrapped his hand around Anakin’s wrist as if it were a lifeline.

“Your wife?” Obi-Wan asked blankly. “How long? How did this happen?”

Anakin felt anger rising within himself and quickly brought it under control. Obi-Wan wasn’t challenging him – yet – but he had to make the situation perfectly clear. “How long have you and Master Windu been lovers?”

Obi-Wan’s fingers clenched then relaxed around his wrist. Anakin let his hold fall away as Obi-Wan straightened up. The two men looked at one another for a long moment, appraisal and honesty shining in their eyes. They were closer than brothers. At times it was as if they could read one another’s minds, and this was one of those times. Suddenly, Obi-Wan gave a blazing grin.

“Eight years. You and Padme?”

The question implied both lack of protest and acceptance of truth between them. Anakin grinned back. “Six years.”

“The baby?” Obi-Wan suddenly looked thunderstruck. “You’re going to be a father!”

“That’s the thing…” Anakin found himself swallowing against a dry throat again. “Do you think… do you think they’ll make me leave the Order? I’ve… given in to my emotions.”

Unspoken lay the reminder that he wasn’t the only one. Obi-Wan nodded agreement with both, but didn’t look as worried as Anakin felt. Another relief, another tiny release of tension from Anakin’s soul.

“Master Qui-Gon wasn’t a typical Jedi, Anakin.”

Anakin looked askance at Obi-Wan, then settled in to listen. Obi-Wan often taught life lessons through his stories. This should be one of the most useful.

“The training I received from Qui-Gon encouraged me to think beyond the boundaries of doctrine, and oddly enough, at the same time it led me to understand that the doctrine was what kept us from losing ourselves in the chaos around us. In reaction to his… rather unusual approach to the Force, I became, if anything, more conservative than not. But one of his lessons is reinforced to me every day that I live… the Jedi Code is not the entirety of what it is to be a Jedi.”

Anakin shook his head. “I don’t understand, Master.”

“What is the essential difference between the Sith and the Jedi, Anakin?”

As Palpatine had been asking the same sort of question quite a lot lately, Anakin had been thinking on that exact problem, and answered readily enough, “The Sith draw their strength from their passions, while the Jedi draw it from their control. The Jedi direct their strength outward, to help others, while the Sith direct it inward, to help only themselves.”

“That is what the letter of the Code would have us believe, if we interpret it literally.” Obi-Wan’s dry tone made it plain he didn’t. Anakin sat upright and stared intently at his Master.

“Please,” Anakin whispered, “explain that to me.” Padme was everything to him, but so was being a Jedi, and the thought that the two were mutually exclusive was killing his soul.

“I believe that being a Jedi does not mean denying emotion or suppressing passion. I believe that love is to the Jedi as hate is to the Sith; the Jedi’s’ strength may not preclude passion, but direct it outward rather than inward… the very definition of love.”

It felt as if a huge weight was lifted from his back, but Anakin wasn’t completely reassured. “Thank you, Obi-Wan. That makes sense to me, in a way nothing else did. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing Padme, but I couldn’t walk away from being a Jedi, either. I believe in what we do, as Jedi, but I also believe that what Padme and I have is good, too. And I couldn’t understand how two things that were good couldn’t exist with one another.”

He paused and sighed, looking down at the fists now knotted in his lap. Quietly he continued, “But I don’t think your belief is the majority one on the Council, Obi-Wan. Too many of the Masters don’t trust me, and some have openly said they are watching for a reason to remove me, either from the Council or the Order, or both.”

“The Council deals with political situations, and human situations, that often fall outside the simple black and white view we learn when we’re younger, Anakin. You may have more support than you know,” Obi-Wan told him. “I will fight for you. You are a better Jedi than I, certainly, and it would be the height of hypocrisy to lose you simply because you live the Code rather than following it blindly and unthinkingly.”

Obi-Wan smiled down at Anakin and Anakin returned it, if weakly. He wasn’t convinced, but he knew Obi-Wan would keep his word, and fight to keep Anakin in the Order. “What do I do, in the meantime? I’m worried about Padme and the baby. I’m afraid I’ll be sent off on a mission to get me out of the way so the Council can debate my fate without my presence to interfere with the proceedings. I don’t know what to do.” He hated sounding so helpless, but that’s truly how he felt; so tied up with confusion and fear he could barely feel the Force.

The heavy weight of Obi-Wan’s hand on his shoulder was comforting. “I counsel patience, but not here. The root of your trouble is your concern for Padme’s health. I recommend you take Padme and go into seclusion on Naboo. The best way to try to ensure nothing goes wrong is to be there with her.”

Anakin opened his mouth to protest leaving in the midst of the war and the Senate upheaval, but Obi-Wan stopped him with an upraised hand. “While you are taking care of your family, I will work on the Council to loosen the more hidebound rules. The Code is always open to interpretation; with support from Mace and Master Yoda, there will be changes.”

“I’m not sure Master Windu would support me,” Anakin admitted. “He doesn’t trust me.”

“Perhaps not, but he does trust me. And he loves me, as I love him.” Obi-Wan shrugged, his blue eyes sparkling. “Such changes would not only benefit yourself, you know, Anakin.”

Anakin grinned in return, for a moment, before looking worried again. “What about the Chancellor?”

Obi-Wan’s mouth thinned and the sparkle in his eyes muted. “You take care of Padme. Leave Palpatine to the Council.”

It was hard to say, but Anakin forced it out. “I’m sorry, Obi-Wan, but I don’t trust the Council.”

Obi-Wan nodded slowly. “It’s difficult to extend trust when there is none extended to you. I understand your misgivings. I ask rather that you trust me, and Mace, and Yoda. Some of the other members of the Council have reason to support such a reinterpretation of the Code as well. Would you do that? Would you trust me, us, to look after your interests in your absence and relieve your mind so you may take Padme away and look after her?”

Anakin looked deeply into Obi-Wan’s eyes, feeling and seeing nothing but honest concern and blunt truth. Eventually he nodded. “Yes.” He sighed. “Thank you, Obi-Wan.”

He stood and leaned forward, catching Obi-Wan in an unexpected hug, as he hadn’t done since he was a child. Obi-Wan shifted off the table and embraced him in turn, patting his back soothingly.

“It will work out, Anakin. Trust yourself, trust me, and trust the Force.”

“I will,” Anakin promised. Silently, he added, I will try. As if he heard the thought, Obi-Wan pulled back and pinned Anakin with a stare.

“Don’t try. Do.”

Anakin couldn’t help but smile. “Yes, Master.” He would, then. Trust came slowly and painfully, but in this man, and because of Obi-Wan, in himself, Anakin would trust.

Later that evening he crossed the floor of their living quarters to join Padme on the cushioned bench across from the great window. The lights of Coruscant spread out before them as if God had scattered jewels at their feet; Anakin wasn’t so sure for himself, but he definitely knew Padme deserved them.

“I’ve given what you said a lot of thought,” he began hesitantly.

She looked up at him, hope warring with nervousness in her eyes, and he had to kiss her. Some time later he came up for air, much calmer about his news, if much more excited about other things. Still, if his life had taught him nothing else, it was that work must come before pleasure, and there was a lot of work to be done if their life together as a family was to get off to a good start.

“What I said?” Padme prompted him, a bit dreamily, as she was distracted by kisses as well.

“Naboo. I agree. We should go to Naboo. Now.”

She peered at him closely, a question forming on her lips. Before she could speak, he went on.

“I talked with Obi-Wan, as you suggested. It was a good idea. He’s going to talk to the Council about me. About us. But he said you should be my first priority, and I agree. He also said we should go to Naboo, at least until after the baby’s born. I need to be with you, and you need to be there. So we’ll go.”

Her smile lit her entire face. She was radiant, and he was lost in her.

“Now?” she reiterated softly.

He nodded, smiling in return. “Now.”

An hour later, they were on their way home.

At the same time Anakin and Padme, with C3PO and R2D2, were on their way to Naboo, Obi-Wan was in the Council chambers debating how to approach Anakin’s, and his, situation. His thoughts were interrupted when a call came from Senate headquarters. Chancellor Palpatine requested Anakin. So Obi-Wan took the call.

“Chancellor,” he greeted the holoimage politely. “How may the Jedi be of assistance?”

Palpatine looked put out for a moment at not seeing Anakin, but quickly covered with his usual twitchy smile. “Ah, General Kenobi. I was hoping to speak with young Skywalker. Is he not available?”

His expression made it plain what he expected the answer to be. He had a difficult time hiding his shock as Obi-Wan shook his head.

“My sincere apologies, Chancellor, but Knight Skywalker has been called off-planet.”

“Why would the Jedi send-” Before the bluster could get out of hand, Obi-Wan interrupted.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t make myself clear. Anakin is away on urgent family business. This leave is not at the behest of the Order.”

His smooth delivery of the excuse was made even easier by the fact that it wasn’t a lie, but the bald truth. Palpatine glared at him for a split second before the politician’s mask slid firmly back in place.

“That is… most unfortunate,” the Chancellor said, his words drawing out almost in a hiss.

“Perhaps I might be of assistance?” Obi-Wan offered.

The grimace of a smile he received in response wasn’t reassuring.

Half an hour later, in the Chancellor’s private chambers, the feeling that something was off about the whole situation solidified. Palpatine made a few subtle attempts to grill Obi-Wan about Anakin’s whereabouts, dropping more clues about his own interest than he intended, no doubt, along the way. He even made mention of Padme, and Anakin’s worry for her.

It stank to high heaven, as far as Obi-Wan was concerned.

The stated reason for the meeting was to inform Obi-Wan that General Grievous had been located.

The underlying motivation was to find Anakin and return him to Palpatine.

It was only as he was leaving that Obi-Wan finally figured out exactly why Palpatine wanted Anakin so badly. As he stepped from the room, Obi-Wan felt a weird disturbance in the Force, and instinctively glanced over at an artifact hanging on the wall across from the entrance to the Chancellor’s office. The highly-polished metal reflected the image of the Chancellor… with purple Force-fire crackling around his fingertips.

It was over in a second, so quickly Obi-Wan didn’t even break stride, and gave no indication of what he’d seen. But he knew what it was.

Only the Sith called forth such a manifestation of the Force. Purely destructive, nearly as draining and disfiguring for the user as the victim, such Force-fire was repulsive to the Jedi by its very nature. It was a physical creation of hatred and rage, the Dark side made visible.

Chancellor Palpatine was the Sith Lord they had all been looking for.

The Master of the horned demon who had killed Qui-Gon.

Count Dooku’s master, who’d set up his own apprentice for death… but why?

It took but an instant for the answers to come to Obi-Wan.

To test Anakin.

To seduce Anakin to the Dark side.

To prey on Anakin’s fear for Padme and turn him to the Dark.

To destroy Anakin, tearing him from the path of the Jedi and setting him on the path of the Sith.

Obi-Wan shuddered at how close they had come to disaster. He had to take care of this, now, before Palpatine… Sidious found Anakin and went after him again.

Obi-Wan would not let that happen.

No matter what he had to do to stop it.

Sheer determination fueled his footsteps as he rushed back to the Temple. As soon as he returned to the Council meeting room, he closed and Force-locked the doors, encrypted the out-streaming holo-transmission, and called for an emergency meeting of the Council.

At first there was some protest, but Obi-Wan didn’t give the other Masters time to complain. Raising one hand to quiet them, much as he had Anakin earlier, he stated bluntly, “General Grievous has been found. Furthermore, so has Darth Sidious.” He waited a moment for the gasps and exclamations to die down, then dropped his final bombshell. “Chancellor Palpatine is Darth Sidious.”

Mace looked at him like he’d lost his mind. “Are you certain, Obi-Wan?” he asked urgently.

“Disastrous, this is,” Yoda chimed in. “The Senate, he has, and the Judiciary, under his sway. Very dangerous, very dangerous, this situation has become!”

“We must arrest him at once,” Ki Adi Mundi weighed in.

“Take out Grievous, we must, as well,” Yaddle added.

“Without their remaining general, the separatists will fall,” Plo Koon said, “but taking the Sith Lord in will be difficult. He is powerful.”

“Go after Grievous, I will. Nearest to his position, I am,” Yoda declared. “Masters Kenobi and Windu, with assistance from Knights, Sidious you will take.”

A glance around the Council was enough to tell consensus was reached. “So it shall be,” Adi Gallia ended the discussion, and with that, the Council broke session to carry out its latest onerous missions.

Obi-Wan and Mace, conscious of the three Knights following them, didn’t speak as they boarded their cruiser and headed for the Chancellor’s headquarters. A look, the brush of hands between them, the stillness in the Force when they reached out to one another; it was all the assurance they could afford to take, and all they would need.

Palpatine was alone when the small group of Jedi walked into his chambers. For an instant Obi-Wan saw surprise in his eyes, then there was a flash of yellow, and if there had been any doubt left in Obi-Wan’s mind, it disappeared completely.

This man was evil. He had to be deposed, and tried, and put somewhere he couldn’t hurt anyone else. Mace, as senior Master, stepped forward.

“Chancellor Palpatine, you are under arrest, for treason to the Senate and the Republic, as Darth Sidious.”

His voice rang through the room. Obi-Wan braced himself.

The Sith Lord didn’t bother trying to deny the charges. Instead, in a flash of black cloth and whirling motion, he vaulted across the room and attacked, striking more quickly than any of the Jedi could have expected.

In a single stroke of his red light saber, Sidious killed two of the Knights. Obi-Wan ducked and rolled out of the way of a back-handed slice that would have taken his head off and watched helplessly as the third Knight was struck down.

For an instant, Obi-Wan wished Anakin was at his side; they’d fought as a unit for so long each knew the way the other would think, and together they were nearly unstoppable.

However, as he dove under another blow, barely fending it off before slashing upward, his ‘saber hitting nothing but air, he recalled how Sidious had targeted Anakin, no doubt trying to make him the next Sith apprentice. With that in mind, Obi-Wan was glad Anakin was safe on Naboo with Padme.

The fight raged fiercely, Sidious striking so rapidly the light from his ‘saber was a red blur. The bright blue-white of Obi-Wan’s ‘saber and the rich purple of Mace’s wove an intricate dance of near-misses with the red streak of the Sith’s, death averted by a breath, a breath that grew shorter the longer the battle continued.

Several times Obi-Wan found himself thrown across the room, the last time nearly losing consciousness from his impact with the wall. He fought to stay on his feet, to stay in the battle, knowing if he let himself fail, even for an instant, Mace would die.

He would not lose another he loved at the hands of the Sith, because he was too slow to respond in battle.

Never again.

Lightning crackled from the Sith Lord’s free hand, tying Mace’s ‘saber in a knot of Force-wire and leaving him incapable of defending himself against Sidious’ ‘saber. With a scream of pure denial, Obi-Wan threw himself across the room and bodily knocked Sidious away an instant before he would have impaled Mace on the blood-red ‘saber.

They landed in a heap, Obi-Wan fighting to retain control of his ‘saber even as Sidious snarled and reached out to crush his throat in a Force-grip. Obi-Wan choked, smelling the burning cloth of his tunic and his own burnt flesh before he actually felt the ‘saber enter his side.

He couldn’t even scream.

As the world dimmed around him, he heard an unearthly howl. Sidious, so close Obi-Wan could see his own reflection in the glowing yellow eyes, suddenly stiffened, shock overtaking his features. Then Sidious’ head disappeared in a flash of purple light and a gush of blood. For the space of a heartbeat, Obi-Wan felt the grip on his throat relax, and gasped in a desperately-needed breath of air, before he lost the battle to stay conscious.

The last thing he saw before the world went black was Mace, blood running freely down his face from a cut to his forehead, cradling Obi-Wan’s face in his hands, and telling him to hold on.

Far away from Coruscant, sitting on a grassy bank watching flowers float past on the lake, holding Padme as she napped in the sunshine and dreaming of nothing in particular, Anakin felt a jolt through the Force. He focused, concentrating on the sensation, but it was past. In the aftermath, he felt strangely light, as if a shadow had left his heart.

From that night on, Anakin suffered no further nightmares of Padme’s death. Three weeks later she gave birth, not to one healthy baby, but to two. He looked from his son and his daughter to his wife, beaming radiantly if tiredly up at him, and knew that a tragedy had been averted, somehow, thanks to Padme and Obi-Wan and his own acceptance of the love in his life.

And all was as it should be.

Mace’s words echoed in Obi-Wan’s mind, anchoring him in the Force as time stilled, then slowly returned to normal.

He opened his eyes to find himself in a private room in the infirmary at the Temple. Judging by the stiffness in his limbs, he’d been out for awhile. Nothing hurt, other than some residual pain in his muscles from lying in one position for too long. He recognized the grogginess he felt as the aftereffect of time spent in a bacta-tank. But he was clean, and dry, and tucked up in blankets, so whatever the crisis had been, he must have come through it well.

There was a warm weight wrapped around his right hand, holding it securely. For a moment, he thought it was some sort of traction device, to immobilize an injury, then he realized that it was a hand. Holding his. A familiar hand.

Obi-Wan forced open his eyes to take in the unexpected sight of Mace, sitting curled over in a chair, sound asleep, holding on to his hand. A tendril of panic curled through him – what if someone came in and caught them? How would he explain this? He tried, gently, to tug his hand free, but Mace didn’t budge.

He didn’t wake up, either.

“Leave him be, you should,” Yoda’s raspy voice came from his left, and Obi-Wan swung his head around so fast he made himself dizzy.

By the time he’d blinked his eyes back into focus, Yoda had levitated upward on his mobile platform to make it easier for Obi-Wan to see him. The ancient Master looked battered. One ear was still splinted, scars showing where it was nearly torn off. His left arm stuck stiffly out at an angle, the muscles showing signs of regeneration through the skin, and he now sported an eye patch over his left eye. A ‘saber scar ran over his forehead, disappearing behind the patch before reappearing to cross his cheek, all the way across his chin. He looked as if he’d barely escaped with his life from a terrible fight.

“Dashing,” Obi-Wan said before he could stop himself.

Yoda glared at him, but there was more amusement than heat in the look.

“Did you get the ID on the Sith that ran over you?” Obi-Wan again let his tongue run away without his brain, and realized he was still on heavy pain medication. He looked an apology at Yoda, who waved it off.

“Grievous, it was. Cut his heart out, I did.”

Obi-Wan blinked again. “That’d do it.”

“Did,” Yoda agreed. “Much has happened. Speak, we must. But first, rest, you will. Regain your strength.”

Obi-Wan glanced over at Mace, then back at Yoda. “Is everything all right?” he asked with some trepidation.

“More than, young Obi-Wan,” Yoda assured him gently. “More than.”

Well, if Yoda was not protesting, and Mace wouldn’t let go, there was nothing Obi-Wan could do about it, so he let himself flow with the medication and float away.

The Senate was in an uproar. There was talk of a Jedi rebellion, of Droid Separatists running wild in the streets of the capital, of Sith infiltrating the government and undermining the Republic.

Little did the rumor-mongers know, the third, most outlandish of all, was the only one that was true.

On Naboo, Chancellor Palpatine was buried in a state ceremony with full honors. His body rested in a closed casket due to the severity of burns received, according to official reports, in an attack on his office that signified the last gasp of resistance before the Jedi-led Clone armies crushed the Separatists. The deaths of Grievous and Dooku and the arrest of the remainder of the Separatist leaders was the first step toward a lasting peace in the Republic.

The Chancellor was remembered by his supporters and admirers as a tireless worker on behalf of the Senate, of liberty for all the member planets, and of Republican ideals galaxy-wide. The Jedi honor guard there to ensure no violence marred the ceremonies did not comment.

Yoda, with the able assistance of Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan, worked like a being possessed to keep the government stable during the dismantling of Palpatine’s fledgling empire and the transition of power in the Galactic Senate. The Senators, after weeks of debate, offered the Chancellor’s position to Senator Organa.

He accepted, his acceptance conditional upon the appointment being an interim position only, until order could be restored on those worlds most severely impacted by the war. Within four years, the Senate would be functioning ably once again, without the shadow influence of the Sith to undermine its efforts.

Less than a week after Sidious was defeated, Adi Gallia, researching his past projects in an effort to stave off any Sith traps he might have left behind, discovered an implanted command embedded in the genetic code of the clone soldiers. The command, ‘order 66’, would cause the clones to turn on, hunt down and kill any and all Jedi warriors.

There was no countermand to the order.

With the full support of the Council, less Master Kenobi who was unconscious in the infirmary recovering from the wounds Sidious had inflicted upon him, and Knight Skywalker who was in retreat with his wife awaiting the birth of their child, the clone army was deployed to wipe out the last cells of the Separatist army. When their task was complete, the survivors were recalled. Sequestered.

And killed. To the last clone.

With that threat rendered moot, the Council turned its attention to reconsideration of prophecies and reinterpretation of the Code.

While discussion continued on such complex matters, stays of removal from the order for violation of the Code were issued for Masters Mace Windu, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Depa Billaba, Oppo Rancisis, and Eeth Koth, all of whom were determined to be in committed relationships in violation of the strict interpretation of the Code.

Similar stays were executed for Knight Skywalker and nearly eighty other Knights. Given the widespread liberal interpretation of the code, and the fact that nearly half the Council would be ejected from the Order if changes weren’t made, it was decided to allow the transgressors to remain in their positions until such time as a more thorough examination of the application of the Code could be undertaken.

In reality, the Jedi Order was shaken to its foundation by the nearness of its escape from destruction at the hands of the Sith. It forced them to think over how they approached life, how they interacted with the Force, and what elements provided the strength and determination that epitomized the Jedi.

To no one’s surprise, less than six months after the review began, it ended… with a re-evaluated interpretation of the Code that could only be described as the working application of realistic idealism.

If one asked Obi-Wan, or Anakin, they would give a simpler answer. In the Light, love will eventually prevail.