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A World Not Too Far Away

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Of course it was raining, Padmé thought as she hurried to her taxi. She was going to be late, if traffic was as bad as it usually was during these rare storms. Everyone said it never rained but when it did, oh what a mess it became. Her breathing was harder than usual, but that probably had something to do with the four feet that had managed to jam themselves under her rib cage this week. When she'd gone to her classes on pregnancy and childbirth, no one had warned her that her unborn children would try to rearrange every single organ in her body to make themselves comfy.

She slipped into the backseat, shaking her hair a little, before looking at the driver in the rearview mirror. "The Hill, please, sir. Senatorial Building." The dark eyes in a weathered, brown face looked hauntingly familiar to her, but then her eyes fell on the service symbol attached to the dash and she smiled for the driver. "And thank you, sir. For your service to the Republic."

"Ma'am," he said politely, but the hard lines of his face eased for those words.

How many faces like his had she seen since the war ended at last? How many hopeless eyes in scarred faces had looked back at her as she fought to get them the benefits they needed for life itself? That she was fighting as much for the sake of her own husband, secret as the marriage still was, had no bearing. His nightmares, his trauma, would be partially relieved by seeing his men taken care of.

The taxi pulled into traffic smoothly, and this driver seemed to be undaunted by the rain or the other drivers on the street.

"May I ask what unit? Or is that an invasion of privacy, sir?" she asked, just to show she saw him truly as a person, not one of the countless recruits, stolen away from their lives to serve an entity that refused to even acknowledge them as people. At least their leaders were on her side, actively campaigning to end the disgusting denial of their rights.

"The 327th, ma'am."

"Under General Secura?" Padmé asked. "And Commander Bly, yes?"

The driver looked in the mirror, and she thought she saw admiration rising in his eyes. "Yes, ma'am."

"Good people, all of you," she said, and she meant it. "I am due at the Senate today to argue for the Veteran's Bill of Rights, sir. I was delayed," and she looked down at her pronounced stomach, the scandal of the day for some of the more staid Senators, "but I hope to not be too late."

"Ma'am, you will be there on time," he promised her, and he grew more aggressive in his driving, though at no point did she feel unsafe with him. Then again, she had often felt safest when among his people. She ached for them, and they had come to know that she was truly their ally.

+++++

Anakin rested on the floor, his arms around Padmé's waist, his head pressed to the swell of her stomach… where one or both of the babies kept prodding the heat source on their space. It amused him, and Padmé often giggled.

"How did your day go?" she asked, having already told him about the nominal victory in the Senate. It was a resettlement bill, with funding, to help the Veterans find new lives. Unfortunately, they had managed to get riders into the bill to 'encourage' the resettlement in some of the most war-torn cities, meaning a hard life ahead for the men.

She'd keep trying, though. She vowed to do all she could to help them.

"The Council finally came to an open argument today, over how to proceed." Anakin shuddered slightly. He had been accused of betraying his people, and had only barely managed to not fall prey to the double-agent status he'd been playing. If it hadn't been for his cadet and his former teacher… the thought made her slide her hands through his hair all over again.

"One side in favor of picking up business as usual, and one side arguing for reform?" she asked.

Anakin stopped bothering the babies with his hot head, and slid up onto the couch beside her. "Yes. The Order has suspended not only their military training but the negotiator and medical missions, until a consensus is reached. That provoked the Consul's office to censure them… which led to the open arguing in Council today. I could only observe," and he didn't seem as angry over his lack of true status in that body as he once had, "but Obi-Wan surprised me by arguing for reform."

"Why surprise, love?" she asked.

He gave a short bark of laughter. "Because he outright admitted that he sees the Order as too out of touch with the world, and that the formation of attachments with his troops and the people he aided has shown him this." Anakin laid his head on her shoulder as he looped his arms around her. "After what happened with the Duchess, I'd thought he had ice in his veins, and would be a die-hard for the old ways."

"I think he's just a very private man, Anakin," Padmé counseled. "Surely with him in support of reform, the Order will soon reorganize and start their practices in better faith?"

"That's my hope, Padmé. Otherwise, I think a few of the Generals who were front line most of the war are going to walk out, and take all their knowledge with them."

"I'll hope it settles soon, in our favor, love," she soothed him, settling to snuggle on the couch. One day, she wanted him free to claim his place as hers, publicly, but she did not want him to lose the Order, not with his gifts. She touched her stomach, and realized they might very well be like him, and they would need an Order that understood people better than the one that had nearly broken Anakin.