The Senate Building did not peak Val Semper’s interest in the slightest. To her, it was ugly. Grotesque, even. Not a lick of creative thought had been put into the construction of the building - transparisteel was such a boring medium - or most of the Senate District, for that matter. It was all just...effective.
Effectiveness was good, but it wasn’t always everything. But, Val wasn’t a professional architect. She enjoyed marveling at buildings, sure, but she wasn’t qualified to offer any improvements. Val’s qualifications were in the field of investigative work and rooting out suspected criminals. That expertise was exactly why she was in Coruscant.
A lone maintenance worker had turned up, dead, splayed out across the hallway floor of the Senate Offices. The mere idea of someone being murdered so closely to where top government officials commuted daily was shocking, and virtually unheard of, to the point where Val had almost immediately ruled out the possibility of someone having snuck in from the outside. The Senate Offices were one of the safest and most secure places on the entirety of Coruscant.
So, she had to start her work from the inside. Which meant that she’d be spending far more time than she wanted in the offices, surrounded by politicians, and most notably, the Chancellor.
Val had seen him once before. She’d been exiting the Opera House, alone - not many of her friends fancied the same hobbies as her. In fact, She didn’t have my friends in general - when she’d brushed up against his shoulder and, out of instinct, had made brief eye contact with the older man. He’d narrowed his eyes, but had been hastily ushered away by his entourage of important, rich elites.
Val hoped he didn’t remember her. It would inevitably lead to him asking why she was even at the opera in the first place, which would force her to explain her interests ...something she wasn’t keen on doing. She didn’t like talking about herself. If Palpatine were as true of a politician as everyone said he was, he’d keep things professional, not personal. She would have to do the same.
Upon entering his office and taking a seat, the decor of the place immediately peaked her curiosity - everything was red. Red floors, red walls and furniture. Red, she remembered, was the color of Naboo. Even the Chancellor’s dark robes had faint hints of red along the stitchings, and he sat with such a rigid, controlled posture that, had Val entered and the lights had been dimmed, she would have mistaken him for one of the many statues placed around his office.
“...because of this, you and your team will be given full access to the upper floors, as well as full access to the Senate Guard’s analytical equipment and labs,” Palpatine paused for a moment, raising an eyebrow. “Miss Semper?”
A sharp nudge from Zachery snapped Val out of her trance. She met Palpatine’s blue eyes, lips forming soft words.
She hoped she’d actually given a coherent reply. She felt incredibly small under Palpatine’s gaze, and it wasn’t because of his position as Chancellor.
Feeling small was something Val hated .
“I have faith in your abilities, Miss Semper. I do hope you can get to the bottom of this heinous crime.”
“Do you feel safe, coming here every day?” Val asked.
She could feel Zachary glaring at her with all the ire a security head could muster, but she didn’t care. Palpatine’s aid, an older, balding man named Sate Pestage, was glaring in kind, as if Val had said some great insult.
She’d just asked an honest question.
“I won’t say that I’m not...alarmed,” Palpatine answered, frowning.
“Did you see the maintenance worker often?”
It was Sate Pestage who answered, apparently put off by Val’s frankness. He stepped forward, hands behind his back, and said, “Written statements from those who interacted with the maintenance worker will be in your file. There is no need to interrogate the Chancellor.”
Maybe now is the wrong time.
“I’m not interrogating, I’m just...asking,” Val murmured.
“Perhaps we can arrange a meeting, and you can ask your questions when you’ve looked into the report details. You will receive full cooperation on my end,” Palpatine said diplomatically.
Val gave the Chancellor a small nod before taking the report in question from Sate. She stood, and Palpatine did the same. His smile was warm, a stark contrast to Val’s grim expression.
“I truly appreciate your help, Miss Semper.”
Once again, Val could only nod.
Scrying Palpatine was something Val immediately vowed would only be as a last resort. He was practically a client. He had been the one to suggest her to the internal affairs department. While Val always explored every option, she’d only use her abilities on Palpatine if absolutely necessary.
Sate Pestage, on the other hand…
Years of practice had taught her to hone her abilities, though those years of practice had gone by without a proper teacher, or even someone knowledgeable in the force. She’d used her abilities to break into the world of private investigating, and by sheer, dumb luck she’d become good at it due to her abilities. It was a useful tool when needing to get the truth out of people, and more than once had she just trusted her instinct and scryed someone who looked and felt fishy, watched their daily routine, and determined that they were a plausible suspect to pursue. Securing tangible evidence against them was the real work.
She saw what they saw. On some occasions she’d watched them murder another victim. Sometimes, she’d watched them steal more priceless artifacts and run off without a care in the world as to who their actions hurt. She felt what they felt as well. Every touch, every emotion. Everything.
Only a select few knew of Val’s force sensitivity and ability. She certainly wasn’t powerful enough to be shoved over to the Jedi Order, and even as a child, her abilities had come and gone as dreams. It had taken her years to realize that the dreams she had were, for all intents and purposes, real. It had taken even more years for her to gain control over her scrying, and even now, she wasn’t confident that she completely knew her powers. It was a useful tool, and nothing more.
Sate would never know that Val was seeing through his eyes as he went about his day, speaking with Mas Amedda before delivering Palpatine his daily reports. Their conversation was brief, with Sate briefly running over details regarding the investigation that Val herself already knew. Palpatine appeared calm and collected, sending Sate on his way. He was halfway out the door when Val felt her connection flutter, and then weaken. She pulled away, opening her eyes.
She was on the soft bed of her apartment. Only half an hour had passed, though Val felt as if she’d been in Sate’s mind much much longer. She took a few moments to collect herself, before rising and checking her files.
Maintenance worker discovered the body precisely two hours before all senate staff and aid are required to retire for the night. There we no external wounds, and upon examination, it appeared that her neck had simply been snapped and her body placed near one of the air vents.
Val tossed the datapad aside. Then, she paused and snatched it up again. She made a note to have Sly Moore arrange her a private meeting with Palpatine, before finally deciding that putting her work down and getting some rest would do her more good than anything. She was exhausted. She’d had time to read over some of the reports on the trip over to the Senate District, but for all intents and purposes, she’d arrived blind.
She had no idea what her dreams would bring. Sometimes she scryed in her sleep, trapped in the minds of people she had no interest in learning extra details about. Sometimes she had normal dreams. Sometimes she didn’t.
Most were violent and dirty, and some weren’t even originally hers.
That was the issue with scrying. She had more thoughts than she could handle. She’d seen more than she could handle, not all of it good. Worst of all, it began to blend her personality with personalities that weren’t own.
She hated it.
Don’t. That power pays your bills and keeps you alive.
Sly Moore was much, much more approachable than Sate Pestage, and she arranged a meeting for Val without question. Val went in with the intent of making it quick, striding through the halls of the Senate Offices with her head ducked and her datapad tucked beneath one arm. The door to Palpatine’s office was open, and he beckoned her inside while Sate shot a narrow glance at Val, but nevertheless, left the office. He closed the door behind him, leaving Val alone with the Chancellor.
Val was eager for the meeting to end before it had already begun.
“Have a seat,” Palpatine gestured. Val sat, her eyes zeroing in on the edge of his desk. He fell silent for a moment, presumably waiting for Val to look at him. She very slowly and very cautiously did. He said, “You and I have crossed paths before, haven’t we?”
Oh, here we go.
Val tensed immediately as realization dawned on Palpatine’s aging face. He smiled. That eased her discomfort, but only a bit.
“At the Opera House, yes! Had I known about your involvement in this investigation then, I would have properly introduced myself,” Palpatine leaned forward. “Tell me, did you enjoy the performance?”
“I did,” Val said quickly. “It was very...nice. Lovely.”
“I share the same sentiment. Unfortunately, art is not what we’re here to talk about.”
“It can be.”
Palpatine chuckled, the sound smooth, and rich, and deep. “Perhaps another time. We have much more important matters to attend to. As I said, I am completely prepared to cooperate with your investigation, Miss Semper. Whatever questions you may have, I will try my best to answer.”
If you scry him you won’t have to ask questions.
Val went ahead and buried that thought. She would do just as well asking him questions and manually digging things out from him.
“Have any of your aides or the people in your proximity been acting suspicious or out of the ordinary? That includes Mas Amedda, Sly Moore, and Sate Pestage.”
“Amedda and Moore are their ordinary selves. Pestage is as impersonal as always,” Palpatine thought for a moment. “Though, one of my aides has been absent from his duties more times than usual.”
“Give me a name,” Val paused, and then added, “ Please .”
“Lorn Lorega. He deals primarily with my Senate addresses. He is a diligent worker, and while I do hope his absences have been for pure reasons, it is unusual for him.”
One name was a start. All she needed was a face, and she could spend a few hours stuck in the back of his mind while he went about his day. It was a start. A good start.
“Are there any others?” Val asked.
“No. Lorn is the only one.”
“It would be best,” Val began, “For you to temporarily remove Lorn from his current position. At least, until I finish ensuring that he doesn’t pose a threat.”
“I’m assuming that would have to come with proof of his innocence.”
“Chancellor, I am not in charge of your security. I was just...offering a suggestion.”
“No offense taken. I find it reassuring that you are invested in my safety,” Palpatine said.
Val nodded. For the first time, she didn’t tremble under his gaze. It was gentle. Incredible gentle, something Val’s profession didn’t allow her to become accustomed to.
She liked it.
Val prayed that Palpatine hadn’t noticed the flush of red across her pale cheeks. She stood, gripping her datapad tight between both hands.
“I will call Lorn Lorega in for questioning,” Val said. “If you notice anyone else acting unusually, please let me know.”
“Perhaps once all of this is finished, you can join me in my viewing box at the Opera once night. It’s the least I can offer you.”
“Serving the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic is a reward in and of itself.”
“You’re too kind,” Palpatine chuckled and stood, walking around his desk. Val took in his dark robes and lithe form, once again unable to look him in the eye. They were on equal grounds once more, with Palpatine standing just a bit taller than Val.
Palpatine started to speak, but the door to his office slid open and Sate entered, flanked by two other men. The first Val recognized as Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the second she didn’t recognize, though she knew immediately that he was a Jedi as well. He was a tall man, a few years younger than Val. While he was quite handsome, Val’s attention slowly drifted over to Kenobi.
“Our meeting must have gone past schedule,” Palpatine placed a light, reassuring hand on Val’s shoulder as he addressed the two Jedi. “I apologize, gentlemen. As you might be aware, a rather horrific crime took place within these halls. Miss Val Semper has been hired to investigate and bring the offender to justice.”
“I know who you are,” Val said, bluntly, to Kenobi. Her eyes fell on the younger man by his side. “I don’t know you.”
“My name is Anakin Skywalker. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
He bowed slightly. Val decided that she liked them. Both of them. She wasn’t nervous around them. In fact, she rather enjoyed being the subject of Kenobi’s lingering gaze.
“I’ll leave you three to it, then,” Val said. Sate made a move to escort her out, but she ignored him. She bid Palpatine a quick farewell before nodding at Anakin, and then Kenobi. Then she followed Sate, eyes flickering down to her datapad as she began to search up Lorn Lorega’s name in her files. She’d been given a list of every senate aid and every mechanic and guard that frequented the the Senate Offices, as well as copies of the security footage. It was a lot to pour over, but Val typically chose work over sleep. Sleep never came easily, anyway.
She hoped that Palpatine would pull Lorn Lorega from his current position. While Lorn could very well be completely innocent, Val wasn’t one to take chances. She didn’t like the idea of a possible murderer being so close to the Chancellor.
It’s all speculation. What if he’s just been having medical problems, and hasn’t been able to attend work? What if it’s a family matter?
What if...what if...
Val grimaced, finally rid of Pestage, free from his nasty scowl. She leaned against the wall to ensure that she was out of the way, head buried in her datapad. Palpatine, as well as a majority of the Senate, had changed their schedules. Most left earlier and continued their work at home. None left without a guard or a partner.
For their sake, she wanted the murderer caught.
Val scrolled through the list of senators who had been present, or at least, had been in the area when the body had been found. One name stuck out, as it was one senator she had yet to properly interview.
Senator Padme Amidala of Naboo.
Naboo. Like Palpatine.
Val mentally scolded herself.
Stop thinking about him! And stop thinking about Kenobi!
Both men had piqued her interest. Most men failed to do that. In fact, Val ignored most men like she ignored most people.
Val hadn’t realized that she’d been leaning against the wall for a good fifteen minutes. It was Anakin’s light voice that pulled her from her trance, and she jumped.
“I heard about the murder. If it eases your discomfort a bit, know that the Jedi are also looking into things as best as they can.”
He was alone, head ducked a bit, seemingly out of respect. Val straightened up and faced him.
“The internal affairs department believes that the Senate Guard is rife with corruption. They thought it would be beneficial to hire an outsider for this particular case. I’m glad I’ll have the you and Kenobi at my side for this.”
“You seemed a bit tense in there. Did everything go well with the Chancellor?” Anakin’s tone wasn’t accusatory, just curious. Val dropped her guard, glad that he just wanted to have a normal conversation.
“He was lovely. Yes. It went well. I was just...I’m a bit overwhelmed. This is all just...new. I’m not from Coruscant.”
“Where are you from?”
“Alderaan,” Val glanced down at the floor. For some reason, saying the name of her home planet felt wrong. She’d never belonged there to begin with. In fact, she’d dreaded her initial meeting with Bail Organa more than she’d dreaded her meeting with Palpatine.
“Alderaan is a beautiful planet! Its people are even more amazing,” Anakin smiled warmly. “It’s no wonder you became an investigator at such a young age. You must have been trained by some of the best in the galaxy.”
Yeah. The Force.
Val tried not to snigger. Anakin raised an eyebrow, and Val quickly said, “I don’t visit home often. There isn’t much for me there anymore.”
“I’m from Tatooine. I don’t visit much either. Nothing to really see but sand.”
“I’ve taken one case on Tatooine. An angry Tusken Raider tried to slice open my jugular,” Val said. “Needless to say, I have not returned.”
“I don’t blame you,” Anakin chuckled. “Hopefully you’ve received a warmer welcome here on Coruscant.”
“It’s busier here. Not to say that it isn’t beautiful, but everyone seems to move differently, as if they’re in a hurry,” Val replied. “The Jedi strike me as an anomaly in this environment. So much talk about peace but none about... quiet .”
“You’ve studied the Jedi?”
“I’ve read about them. Not extensively. I’m not a force wielder,” Val said flippantly. “And even if I were, the Jedi lifestyle wouldn’t suit me.”
The last part wasn’t a lie. Being a Jedi was something Val would have never wanted, had her force abilities been more powerful. The idea not being allowed…”attachment” wasn’t exactly unreasonable, but the restraints placed on Jedi seemed like too much for Val. Just like on Alderaan, she knew she wouldn’t fit in.
“It isn’t for everybody. Hence why not everybody with force abilities becomes a Jedi,” Anakin shrugged. “The Council encourages it, of course...I’ve never been a fan of forcing people to pursue something they don’t want.”
Val nodded. Over Anakin’s shoulder, she saw Obi-Wan approaching rapidly.
“It was a pleasure talking with you, Anakin,” Val smiled. “Hopefully I’ll see you around.”
“Likewise,” Anakin replied.
Val zipped away before Obi-Wan could notice her presence. Between her talk with Palpatine and the mere sight of Kenobi, she was beginning to think that something was wrong with her. She was at work . This was a job . It was improper for her to even begin thinking about Kenobi, or Palpatine , the way she was.
Control wasn’t something Val always liked to have.
Right now, she wasn’t in control.
Val’s alarm blared early the next morning, and she immediately pulled up her datapad and checked the HoloNet News, before finally dragging herself out of bed. Her apartment was neatly stocked and homely, and all paid for by the Senate Guard. It was just a mile away from the Senate Offices, and while it didn’t exactly offer a luxurious view, it really only acted as a place for her to sleep and maybe eat.
Mornings were always her favorite, and she preferred them uninterrupted. The first few hours of the day allowed her to relax and gather her thoughts, and it was usually quiet. Quiet and slow.
She was dressed and ready when her datapad alerted her that someone was at the door. She rose, expecting it to be Sly Moore or even the likes of Mas Amedda, but she was shocked with Kenobi - the absolute last person she expected - was standing on the other side.
“I apologize for not calling in advance, Miss Semper. Do you have a moment?”
Always so polite.
Val nodded, opening up her apartment to him. He was alone, Anakin nowhere in sight. The nervousness she felt returned, and she began hastily making tea to distract herself while Obi-Wan took a seat on one of the kitchen chairs.
Offer him tea, idiot!
Val kept her mouth shut. She began making two cups anyway.
What if he doesn’t like the blend?
“...the Council, in collaboration with the Senate Guard, have thought it best to assign a Jedi as your partner in this investigation.”
Val paused. She turned, leaving the tea to brew. “Do they not trust me?”
“Oh, of course they trust you. It isn’t really a matter of trust as much as it is a matter of... haste ,” Obi-Wan gave a slight eye-roll. “They want this investigation cleared as quickly as possible. They believe that the task is simply too big for one person.”
“I don’t need help,” Val mumbled. She paused, gnawing on her lower lip. She’d never taken a partner, and had never intended to. For their sake.
“Would I get to choose my partner?”
“The Council has offered to look through you credentials and pair you with someone they believe matches your skills.”
“I don’t want that. I want you to be my partner.”
Obi-Wan looked flustered. He laughed, leaning forward and saying rather shrilly, “I’m certain you wouldn’t want me. There are other Jedi with talents that will help solve this case-”
“How long will you be on Coruscant?”
Obi-Wan thought for a moment, and then said, “There’s been a slight lull in the war. Anakin and I will most likely remain on Coruscant for a few months.”
“Then is there anything else that would prevent you from accepting my request?”
“I would very much like you as my partner in this case, Obi-Wan Kenobi,” Val smirked. “I’m sure the Jedi Council won’t object?”
“I’ll inform them that you were extremely persuasive,” Obi-Wan said cheekily. Val offered him tea, and to her relief, he took the small cup without rejection.
“Please do. I’ll send you everything I’ve compiled so far,” Val took a seat across from him. “I completed interviews with Senator Organa and his staff on the way to Coruscant. The only other person in the premises at the time was Senator Amidala and several members of her staff.”
“Padme is a kind soul. She’ll cooperate," Obi-Wan said softly.
"Good,” Val began, settling in. “There a few other details I need to run by you…”
Padme Amidala was not someone Val had ever encountered prior to her arrival on Coruscant. She’d taken cases on Naboo before. It was a peaceful place, but the planet reminded her much of Alderaan.
Probably why she disliked it.
The people, on the other hand, were more like her. Hospitable. Reserved, but not to the point of outright rudeness. Padme greeted her with a slight bow, and Val offered one in return. She was a striking woman, and she had to be only a few years younger than Val herself. So young, and a Senator. Val’s accomplishments suddenly paled in comparison.
Not that she cared. While Padme was royalty, she worked for what she wanted. As did Val.
“News of the murder has rattled the Senate. Such a thing has never happened before. Not here,” Padme glanced down at her desk, and Val could feel her discomfort. Next to her, Obi-Wan stirred. “But it does please me to see you working diligently alongside General Kenobi.”
Val hummed, pulling up names on her datapad. “Senator, did you notice any of your staff acting strangely prior to the murder?”
“They all reported to their positions early, as usual. One member of my staff was absent two days before the body was discovered, however, she had a family emergency to attend to, and I have evidence of the fact. There is nobody on my staff I can confidently say could have possibly committed such a crime.”
“Good to know,” Val murmured. “In your own report you write that you and a colleague were preparing to leave for the night when you were alerted by guards that a body had been discovered. Who was that colleague?”
“Senator Mon Mothma, of Chandrila.”
“And at any time did you come across Palpatine's aide, Lorn Lorega?”
Padme thought for a moment, brows furrowing. She spoke slowly, saying, “Yes...he spoke to Mon Mothma and I very briefly. He was preparing to leave with us, as the Chancellor had already retired for the night. He disappeared shortly after and I didn’t see him leave the building again.”
“Was he alone when you spoke with him?” Obi-Wan asked.
“Yes. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I assumed he might have forgotten something in his office,” Padme replied.
“He could have,” Val murmured. She glanced up once again, focusing on Padme’s young, angelic face. It certainly didn’t strike Val as a face that would be an accomplice to a murderer, but she knew she had to put any biases aside. She said, “Did you notice anything suspicious with the guards that night?”
“They refused to tell us what exactly was happening, however, secrecy is common during emergencies. They did not want to worry us.”
Val glanced over at Obi-Wan, who was nodding. She made a mental note to scry several of the guards, just for precaution.
She was going to scry Padme as well, she decided.
All for precaution.
“I appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions, Senator,” Val said warmly. She and Obi-Wan stood, bowing. “It was a pleasure to meet you. Perhaps the next time we talk it will be under...less stressful circumstances.”
“Yes. Let’s hope,” Padme replied. “Best of luck with the investigation.”
Val left Padme’s office with a newfound sense of urgency. The rest of the day was spent with Kenobi, pouring over data, scheduling interviews, and just talking .
She found that she liked hearing him talk, something she couldn’t say for anyone else. He told short stories about the war, about the missions the Jedi Council would send him and Anakin off to complete. Brief, but to the point.
Val enjoyed his presence. She enjoyed him.
“I picked you for purely selfish reasons,” Val said suddenly. She was lounging on her couch, a cup of tea in hand. Obi-Wan was at her kitchen table, studying the notes he’d taken during their interview with Mon Mothma. “I enjoy your presence.”
“I can’t imagine it was purely for selfish reasons. You don’t seem like the type to let your personal feelings interfere with your work,” Obi-Wan replied.
“I wouldn’t have picked you if I’d thought your skills were sub-par. Me not being annoyed by you is an added bonus,” Val smirked. “I feel the same towards Anakin.”
“I was certain you’d pick him as your partner,” Obi-Wan snorted. “The two of you seem much more compatible.”
“Maybe the next time I’m called to investigate a murder on Coruscant I could give him a call,” Val hummed. “He seems perceptive enough.”
“Perceptive enough to do your job? I’m a bit unsure about that.”
Val chuckled. “Certainly you have faith in your own former padawan?”
“Anakin has impressed me beyond measure. I’ve watched him go from a Padawan to a Knight, but he still has much to learn. That’s why he has yet to become a Master.”
“Sounds complicated,” Val chuckled. “I told Anakin that the Jedi life wouldn’t suit me.”
“Well, we would have been honored to have you amongst us.”
“Would you have taken me as your padawan?” Val reclined on the couch, sipping her tea and watching as Obi-Wan stopped and turned in his chair to face her. She tried to hide her cheeky grin from behind the rim of her cup.
“That is a loaded question,” Obi-Wan said. “One that I don’t have the answer too.”
“Fair enough. You’re an honest man. I appreciate that,” Val slid off the couch, gathering the dishes. “And I really do appreciate your help with this investigation.”
“To be completely honest with you, had you not chosen me...I would have volunteered,” Obi-Wan said timidly. “It’s grown apparent over the years that I prefer having something to occupy my time.’
“The famous Obi-Wan Kenobi doesn’t know how to relax? I’m surprised.”
Obi-Wan shrugged. “I wouldn’t say that I don’t know how to relax…”
“You’re like me. You like being busy,” Val said.
“It keeps the mind sharp and focused.”
There are other ways to keep the mind sharp and focused.
Val ducked her head, mentally kicking herself. It hadn’t gone unnoticed to her that she and Obi-Wan were alone. And it was dark.
No, no, she couldn’t do that. They were in the thick of the investigation, and she couldn’t ruin it by trying to crawl into Obi-Wan incredibly tight, incredibly nice , form fitting pants -
“...is something wrong, Val?”
“N-no,” Val choked. Her legs suddenly felt like jelly, and she pulled up a chair next to Obi-Wan. “I think I’m just...tired.”
“You’ve had a rather taxing day,” Obi-Wan said sympathetically. “You ought to get some rest.”
“Yeah,” Val said softly. “Yeah. You too.”
“Sly Moore has scheduled an interview with Lorn Lorega for you. Let me know if you require my presence,” Obi-Wan stood, retrieving his cloak from the back of the couch. He bowed his head and said, “Thank you for the tea. Have a nice rest of your night.”
Val could only wave. She was mentally kicking herself over and over, watching him leave, a voice in the back of her brain screaming at her to just ask. Just ask that he stay the night.
What if he says no? Then the rest of the investigation will be awkward. Or, worse, he drops out, and you lose the one person on Coruscant you actually consider a friend!
She thought of failure clouded her judgment, and she could only watch as Obi-Wan left her apartment. She felt like she’d been punched in the back of the throat, and the minute the door shut, she slumped forward.
Val was going to force herself to put her childish crush on Kenobi behind her. She had too. The investigation would be torture if she didn’t. Obi-Wan was a great ally, a legendary Jedi whose skills were her ticket off Coruscant.
She retreated to her bedroom, tossing her datapad on the nightstand and flopping against the sheets. She screwed her eyes shut, trying her best to fall into a relaxed state - scrying was much more difficult with a busy mind and tense body - and tried to focus on Senator Amidala’s pretty face.
Val suddenly opened eyes that weren’t her own. Padme’s mind was a firestorm, a million emotions crashed into Val that she’d felt only a handful of times.
Love. Devotion. Joy.
Pure, unadulterated lust.
Curiosity got the better of Val. It was clear what was happening, but she was curious to see the man, or woman, who’d captured Senator Amidala’s attention in such a way. A hand ghosted across Padme’s bare chest, and Val, through Padme’s own eyes, saw a mop of brown hair disappear between her legs.
Val didn’t need to see a face to know who it was.
Val recoiled and pulled away immediately. She jolted upright, gasping, her skin glistening with sweat.
She shouldn’t have seen any of it.
The implications weren’t important to Val. She could have cared less who Padme was screwing, but every touch had felt real , and her core was throbbing with an arousal that didn’t - shouldn’t - belong to her. It was something Val had only felt once before, when she’d scryed a younger man and had been witness to his...unsavory sexual practices. The brutality of it had sickened Val. Being inside his head had sickened her, but also awakened a curiosity she’d vehemently shoved deep within her and locked away forever.
This isn’t you. This isn’t you, it’s here. This isn’t you. You’re here, alone, in your bed.
You’re you. You’re not her.
Sometimes Val wondered if she truly believed that.
“I’ve called Lorn Lorega to my office. He should arrive any moment now,” Palpatine tapped perfectly manicured nails against his desk, peering up at Val. “You don’t seem too keen on interviewing him.”
“Like any potential suspect, part of wishes for closure, and part of me...doesn’t. I hope Lorn Lorega is innocent, but I won’t say that the idea of settling this once and for all isn’t...discomforting,” Val stood up straighter. “I don’t let it cloud my judgement.”
“As you should.”
“However, if Lorn Lorega leads us to the culprit, or if he is the culprit, and we manage to close this case, I just might take you up on your earlier offer.”
Val cringed at her use of the word “we.” Palpatine wasn’t her partner. He wasn’t Obi-Wan.
He was something strange, and just as intriguing, to her.
“I would be delighted to have you. It appears you and I have similar tastes,” Palpatine raised an eyebrow. “Do you have a particular medium you enjoy more than the other?”
“Architecture,” Val said shyly. “My job has allowed me to travel to various planets, from Chandrila to Naboo. Every building, every structure, is different, and made to match the planet’s environment and in some cases, its people. I guess I just find it...fascinating to learn about and look at. I enjoy literature, as well. Most of my job is spent reading grisly coroner reports, so I need...happier words to look over every once and awhile.”
“You make an effort to educate yourself, something that I admire and appreciate,” Palpatine said coolly. “I find that harder and harder to come by these days.”
“Most just like to be spoon-fed information through the HoloNet. I don’t blame them. The galaxy is a busy place, and not everyone has the time,” Val shrugged. “Learning is encouraged on Alderaan. There was never a shortage of knowledge to chase. I guess I’ve kept that part of my home planet with me.”
“A trait the Naboo share,” Palpatine’s eyes twinkled with something Val couldn’t quite place. “Knowledge is integral. It’s my belief that one can never have too much.”
“Depends on what the knowledge is,” Val murmured. “I know too much about architecture, and I’m never going to use it.”
“Oh, don’t say that! What if you retire and decide to design homes in your spare time?” Palpatine exclaimed. Val practically melted under his warm smile. “The galaxy could always use more artists.”
“I’d much rather build nothing than build something and have it b shot down by Seperatists,” Val said bitterly. Palpatine’s face fell, and she said, “I...I didn’t mean to sour the mood. I apologize-”
“Don’t. I understand that this war seems never ending.”
“It’s worse for you than it is for anyone. I’m sure you have the Senate at your throat every moment,” Val said. “There’s a reason I steered clear of politics.”
“It isn’t a game everyone can play.”
“You play it well,” Val replied. Palpatine’s gaze softened, and he leaned back in his chair. “Better than anyone I’ve encountered.”
Val chuckled, and she saw Palpatine give a slight, satisfied huff, as if he wasn’t used to such praise. The door to his office slid open, and he tensed up immediately. Sate Pestage entered, an older man trailing behind him. Val clutched her datapad, taking up position next to Palpatine. Lorn Lorega had a timid demeanor, and barely made eye contact with anyone. He sat down, folding in on himself. Even after Sate had gone to stand by the door, he was still trying to make himself look smaller.
Val prayed that Palpatine’s presence alone would convince Lorn to be truthful. It would be one thing to lie to an unknown investigator, but another to lie to the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic.
“I’m assuming Pestage briefed you, and why you’ve been called here?” Val said Lorn nodded, clutching the arms of his chair. He was nervously glancing back and forth between Val and Palpatine, as if he were unsure of who to look at. “It is in everyone’s best interest that you cooperate and answer the questions I’m about to ask you truthfully. ”
“I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“I never said that you did anything wrong,” Val said, readying her datapad. “I just want you to be honest. Can you do that?”
“Good,” Val smiled. “Please give me a detailed-walk through of your usual day.”
Lorn was staring at Palpatine, as if he expected his boss to save him. When Palpatine said nothing, he mustered up some courage and said, “I..I report in, and I begin going over bill proposals before meeting with the Chancellor. I typically then spend the rest of the day planning various Senate addresses. The night of the...murder, I decided to stay late and catch up on some work I hadn’t been able to get to. I was instructed by the guards to leave, as there had been an incident.”
“On your way out, did you happen to bump into any Senators?”
“Y-yes. Senator Mon Mothma and Senator Padme Amidala were expressing their concern.”
Val pursed her lips. Palpatine had yet to move or say a word. She said, “Senator Amidala stated that you turned and ran back inside the building.”
“I did,” Lorn Lorega ducked his head. “I’d forgotten...my datapad in my office.”
Palpatine bristled, nails lightly tapping against the arm of his chair. He said nothing, but Val could tell something in Lorn’s testimony had bothered him.
“Continue,” Val said.
Lorn cleared his throat.
“I grabbed the datapad, and then asked a passing guard for details of the emergency. He simply said that a body had been discovered, and that they were clearing the offices. I didn’t ask any more questions, and departed as soon as I could.”
“Did you happen to notice any suspicious behavior from the guards?”
“None at all.”
Val finished documenting Lorn’s testimony. She looked him up and down - he appeared to be trembling, eyes focused on the ground. With a sigh, she said, “You can go. You might be called later for another round of questioning.”
Lorn Lorega practically scrambled out of the room, with Sate following close behind to ensure that he returned to his office. Val walked around Palpatine’s desk, slouching into one of the chairs. He still had the same sour, displeased expression on his face.
“Lorn Lorega was lying.”
Val snorted. “He seemed uneasy. I chalked it up to nervousness.”
Palpatine leaned forward. “His datapad was not in his office. It was in mine, right here ,” he tapped the center of his desk with one long finger. “My office was locked, as I’d left for the night an hour or so earlier. If he did indeed retrieve it, he either breached my office after hours or came in early the next morning and took it before I could notice.”
“I’m glad you were here, or else I wouldn’t have caught that,” Val made a quick note. “Did you notice any other inconsistencies?”
"No. He remained far more composed than I’d anticipated,” Palpatine chuckled.
“None of the guards I interviewed, save for the one he interacted with briefly, noted seeing him. His office is near yours, is it not? There were guards swarming that area.”
Val hummed. “I will look into this further, Chancellor. I appreciate you being here, since Kenobi was unable.”
“I must say, this investigation is moving much faster with the two of you working together,” Palpatine stood, and Val did the same. “I’m surprised the Jedi Council heeded my recommendation.”
“It was your idea?”
“I might have made a slight suggestion to the Senate Guard, who in turn, relayed it to the Jedi Council,” Palpatine smiled.
“I’m glad you’re just as invested in this as Kenobi.”
“I’m invested in you . I felt an obligation to ensure that you were given all the proper tools to do your work swiftly and surely.”
Val felt her cheeks immediately heat up. His words hadn’t even been suggestive, but just the sheer fact that he’d openly admitted to putting her personal feelings first. She wasn’t used to such a thing.
“I, uh...thank you.”
“It’s my duty as Chancellor. I can’t help but feel an inkling of responsibility.”
“Just because someone was killed near your office doesn’t mean you could have done anything to prevent it.”
“Yes, but with Lorega as a suspect…”
“We don’t know if he did it or not,” Val stepped forward. She desperately wanted to reach out and touch him, but she forced herself to keep a grip on her datapad. “If he did, it still wouldn’t be your fault. He’s been on your team for six years, and I’m sure when you hired him he didn’t have a murderous bone in his body. Things happen. People change. People turn out to be...not who you thought they were.”
“As a politician, I should be used to that,” Palpatine stared out the window, scowling. “Still, this is all quite jarring...”
Val, ignoring all the signs that doing so was a bad, bad idea, reached out and placed rested a palm against his shoulder. His eyes briefly flickered down to her small hand, and her breath nearly stopped when his own fingers rose and began massaging her soft skin. He visibly relaxed, and Val let out a soft exhale.
“This…” Palpatine seemed to struggle with his words. “This is overstepping professional boundaries-”
“I don’t care about that,” Val blurted.
“Perhaps, if you’re agreeable to it, we could meet privately and discuss your findings regarding this case. I would be quite interested to hear the details.”
“I’d like that,” Val had to try and keep the giddiness out of her voice. “I’d like that a lot.”
Hookay. So my usual style is to write an entire fic and then edit as I post, which I what I'm doing for this one - so updates are going to be all over the place until I find a schedule that feels comfortable and not annoying to you guys XD
Obi-Wan is absolute my favorite Star Wars character (Palps comes in at a very very veryyyy close second. So close that I'd say it's almost a tie) so this is just an excuse to write him. And angst. There's a lot going on here and I think Val is just as befuddled as I am XD
“You seem tense. Is something wrong?”
“I’m fine, Anakin,” Val sipped her tea. Obi-Wan was at his designated spot at the kitchen table, flicking through Val’s notes. Anakin had tagged along, and for the first time, Val’s apartment felt populated to her. She wasn’t used to guest.
She suddenly felt Anakin reach out a bit with the force, and she flinched, giving a silent indication that she’d felt him try and see her thoughts. When he pulled away, she said, “Anakin, I’m fine .”
“This investigation has taken a lot out of you. Maybe you should rest and let Obi-Wan take over for a bit.”
He wasn’t wrong. Val was exhausted, but she certainly wasn’t going to admit that. The main cause of her restlessness was coming from her encounter with the Chancellor, something she also wouldn’t dare admit. For now, she would have to resort to half-truths and hope neither Anakin or Obi-Wan caught on.
“If I rest, it’ll be after I figure out what’s going on with Lorega.”
“Lorega? Lorn Lorega?” Anakin questioned. Obi-Wan shot her a look, and Val threw up her hands.
“It’s technically considered ‘classified’ information, so I can’t give you details,” Val said. “Sorry, Anakin. It’s not that I don’t trust you.”
I’ve violated protocol too many times, anyway.
“Oh, I understand. I’m familiar with secrecy,” Anakin replied dryly. “I just don’t want you passing out on the job.”
“That’s only happened once .”
Anakin snorted into his tea. Obi-Wan suddenly stood, glancing over at his former padawan, and then Val.
“I’m going to consult with the guards stationed on the lower level. Anakin, please do not take up too much of Miss Semper’s evening.”
“I’ll leave at a reasonable hour. She’ll make me leave at a reasonable hour,” Anakin said slyly. Obi-Wan nodded, and locked gazes with Val. He appeared as if he wanted to say something, but thought better of it. He departed, leaving Val and Anakin alone to sip on their still-warm tea.
Once the door was shut, Val sat up from the couch.
“I didn’t want to say this in front of Obi-Wan, but I understand that you have...secrets, just as I do,” Val let out a breath. “You and Padme shouldn’t have to hide.”
Anakin very nearly choked on his tea. He set the glass down, wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve, and said, “How do you know about us?”
“I’m a private investigator, Anakin. It’s my job to investigate. Everyone . I’m trained to notice things other people aren’t,” Val said flippantly. “I’m saying this to you because, if for some reason I end up having to question you, I don’t want you lying to cover you and Padme.”
“Don’t bring this to the Jedi Council-”
“I wouldn’t. I have faith in Padme’s innocence, and, yours. I’m not here to investigate an affair between a Jedi and a Senator, so it’s of little concern to me.”
“...she’s my wife.”
“It’s not an ‘affair,’” Anakin huffed. “We’re married.”
“Congratulations,” Val replied. “You know I’m not going to pass judgment, right? While I understand the Jedi’s opposition to attachment, I’m not in favor of rigorously following a code. If you and Padme truly believe that you should be together, so be it.”
“Better not say that in front of Obi-Wan,” Anakin mumbled. “He’s a stickler for rules and regulations.”
Good to know. Especially since I’m trying to get into his pants.
“Obi-Wan wants what’s best for you, I’m sure. He strikes me as the type who cares, but who’s concerns sometimes seem...misplaced. I wouldn’t hold anything against him.”
“You’re only saying that because you feel something for him.”
“You couldn’t shield your desire for him even if you tried,” Anakin laughed, and Val turned beet red in the face. “You’re exactly how I was with Padme.”
“Does he know?”
“If you haven’t noticed, he’s much more oblivious to those types of things. He’s probably too focused on this investigation.”
“The investigation will end, eventually. You think I have a shot after?” Val asked, hopeful.
A sad look passed across Anakin’s face, but he quickly wiped it away. He stared down at his tea and said, “I, uh...I don’t know. I can only nudge Obi-Wan in your direction, nothing more.”
“Nudge away,” Val waved a hand. “What exactly do I have to lose?”
After Anakin left for the night, Val retreated to her room and nestled into her bed. She closed her eyes, trying to remember what meditation techniques she’d read about - she needed to be relaxed to scry. Relaxed, and preferably alone.
Lorn Lorega’s aging face flickered through her mind, and she was suddenly there, in his head. He was walking rather briskly, datapad tucked beneath his arm, through what Val thought to be the Senate Offices. She could only follow his gaze, so it took her a moment to realize that he was beneath the offices, in the storage level.
Instantly, Val was suspicious. She stuck inside Lorn’s mind, watching as he seemed to stop in front of a wandering guard. Instead of being detained, the guard simply nodded.
“You were almost caught today,” Lorn snipped, chastising the guard. “I told you, be more careful. That Semper woman can sniff out a lie from a mile away. She has the Chancellor on her side as well."
“I won’t let it happen again. I requested to be transferred to a lower level.”
“Kenobi is scouting out the lower levels. Just stick with the truth you told Semper, and you’ll be fine.”
Val’s eyes shot open. She’d been launched from Lorn’s head, her time spent. She shot up, mouth open as she sucked in air.
She didn’t know how long she sat on her bed, head ducked as she worked to clear her mind. Getting her own emotions back in check, making sure that she knew who she was, took some time. It wasn’t until her datapad hummed that she moved, reaching over and slapping it on. She saw a message from Sly Moore, and immediately perked up.
It was a confirmation time. She was scheduled to meet with Palpatine.
When Palpatine had said the word “privately,” he’d meant it.
“After hours” would have been a better way of phrasing it. After hours meant that most of the Senate Offices were empty, save for a few stragglers, and most of Palpatine’s staff had turned in for the night. No Mas Amedda, no Sly Moore, and most importantly, no Sate Pestage to sneer and turn his nose up at Val. She wondered if Palpatine had taken that into consideration when he’d scheduled the meeting.
She entered the Senate Offices with little questioning - the guards were used to her by now, and accepted that most of her time in the offices were spent doing work so that their jobs would be made less stressful. She made her way up to Palpatine’s office, finding the door open and him at the small, soft-looking couch over in the corner. In his left hand he held a glass that appeared to be filled with wine, the bottle sitting open on his desk.
“Please close the door behind you,” Palpatine said warmly. Val obeyed, and then shuffled across the room and took a seat opposite of him. She wondered, briefly, how many women - or men - had been invited to her office under the pretense of “business.” There was nothing “business” about the wine in his hand and his relaxed posture, yet for some reason, Val felt more at ease around him than she ever had.
She almost hated that she had to bring up Lorn Lorega and do some incredible mind-games when it came to explaining what she’d found. Palpatine seemed trustworthy enough, but she wasn’t sure how he’d react if she outright said that she’d been using the force to aid her in her investigations.
The little exchange she’d witnessed between Lorn and Nes - she’d managed to pick out the guard from the list of profiles she had on the Senate Guard - concerned her. There was absolutely no logical reason for Lorn Lorega to be sneaking around the storage area, and absolutely no logical reason for him to instruct a guard to continue lying. He’d become a prime suspect in Val’s mind, and now she had to convince Palpatine that she was right without spilling her secret.
“As of now, Lorn Lorega is who raises the most suspicion,” Val flicked through her datapad. “I’ve gathered enough data to determine that he is a threat, though not necessarily guilty of the crime. I think multiple people were involved in this.”
“And how did you come to this conclusion?”
Val grimaced. “I have a Jedi on my side, Chancellor. A good Jedi. He can detect things others can’t-”
“A Jedi’s intuition will not hold up in court. While I don’t doubt Master Kenobi’s capabilities, I suggest you search for more... physical evidence,” Palpatine leaned forward. “Do you have the means of doing so?”
“I do,” Val clenched her datapad. “I just wanted to relay to you the information. His lie was enough to make me suspicious. At the very least, that’s grounds for temporary removal from the Senate Offices, is it not?”
“Discipline, yes, removal, no.”
“I’ll have Kenobi shadow him,” Val waved a hand. Her eyes absently drifted over to the wine on Palpatine’s desk, and he stood. Before she could protest, he’d begun pouring her a glass. “Oh, I...you don’t have to do that-”
“This is blossom wine. It helps soothe the mind,” Palpatine handed her the glass, and she took it much too eagerly. “I know you have appearances to keep up, Miss Semper-”
“Val. You can call me Val...call me Val, please.”
“ Val, ” Palpatine smiled. “I know you have appearances to keep up, but you don’t have to put on a face right now.”
“You see right through me,” Val said dryly. She sipped the wine - it was sweet, and a bit tangy. It felt smooth going down her throat, and almost immediately, she felt herself relax. “Thank you. I like to pretend that I don’t need things but...I needed this.”
“You’re welcome to a bottle. I have more than enough.”
“I wouldn’t want to take any of that. I’m sure you need it more than I do,” Val chuckled against her glass. She stared at Palpatine, eyes lazily tracing over his face. “Naboo is known for its wine.”
“Alderaan is known for its women. The finest in the galaxy,” Palpatine replied. Val nearly froze beneath his gaze, and she clutched her wine glass. That wasn’t subtle, nor could it be interpreted as anything other than a tease.
“I’d hardly call myself an Alderaanian woman.”
“Then what exactly would you call yourself?”
“ Me ,” Val sipped her blossom wine. “Someone who would very much like the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic to get over and touch me.”
Neither of them had moved. Palpatine’s fingers itched against his glass, and very slowly he went and set it down against the glass table adjacent to the couch. For a brief moment, it looked as if he’d oblige. He was a politician first, and a man later, and much to Val’s disappointment, he shook his head slightly.
“Such a thing would be entirely improper.”
“ Improper ,” Val scowled. “You sound like Kenobi.”
“If there is one trait the Jedi and I share, it is our appreciation for a code of conduct.”
“Is there a law on Coruscant about not fucking a private investigator that I don’t know about?”
Palpatine seemed amused by Val’s crude language. He said tersely “It isn’t a matter of what I want. I have an image to keep.”
“So you admit you’d fuck me?”
“In a heartbeat.”
“Then why did you invite me here?”
“I invited you here to discuss your findings,” Palpatine replied casually. “And to make you an offer. You spoke on your enjoyment of literature - I have quite the collection of books here. I wanted to open up this space to you.”
“O-oh. Thank you,” Val stammered.
“Perhaps you might find something useful. I’m not sure if I have anything on criminal justice in Coruscant, but you could always look and see.”
Val stood. Palpatine did the same, and then stared at each other for a moment. Eventually, Val gave a slight bow and said, “I’m extremely grateful for your hospitality, and I can’t help but feel as if I’ve...abused it.”
“I came here and took advantage of your generosity. I believed you were attempting to court me-”
“ Val ,” Palpatine sighed, his voice so incredibly soft that Val almost melted - at that very moment, she would have given anything to share his bed, protocol be damned. “There is no need to apologize. If anyone is at fault here, it is me.”
“May I make a request of you, then?”
He smiled. He was closer, suddenly, and then Val was drowning in him - his scent, the touch of his robes against her skin, his mouth against her own. Needy. Breathless.
She could feel wine on his lips. It tasted better.
He pulled away first, and Val gently rested her forehead against his jaw. After a while, she stepped away and gave a small bow.
“I have to go. Thank you for extending your personal library to me,” Val didn’t dare look into his eyes. “I’ll keep you updated on the case.”
“Please, do,” Palpatine nodded and retrieved his glass.
“I enjoyed the wine.”
“I still have an extra bottle. You are welcome to it at any time.”
“Perhaps,” Val chuckled. She found the energy to leave his office, thankful that Sate Pestage wasn’t outside waiting. She didn’t know if she’d have been able to face him. She didn’t know who she’d be able to face - guilt, giddiness, joy, and a bit of sadness swirled through her body like a summer storm. She didn’t know what to feel, how to feel.
She didn’t realize she’d left her datapad in Palpatine’s office until she reached her apartment.
Well...looks like Val and Palpatine are getting *acquainted*
Honestly I'm having such a fun time writing Anakin. XD You'll see a lot of him in this fic because of that.
Anakin, thankfully, was the one to deliver it to her the next day.
He found her leaning against the wall of the main lobby, and immediately approached, dismissing himself from a conversation with Bail Organa and Senator Amidala, sliding over to Val and offering her the datapad.
“The Chancellor instructed me to return this to you. It was left in his office.”
Val snatched it back, relieved to have back her notes. Anakin was watching her curiously, and after a while, he said, “What were you doing in his office so late at night?”
“How do you know I was in his office?”
“Well, we spoke briefly yesterday during the evening, and you seemed to be in possession of your datapad then ,” Anakin smiled. “You must have gone over there after hours.”
“So what if I...did - Anakin, what are you implying?”
“Nothing . I’m just curious.”
“You’re implying something. You have that grin on your face.”
Anakin shrugged. “I know what it’s like to sneak into the Offices late a night, trust me. I used to do it with Padme when we first got married.”
“Anakin, Palpatine and I are not like you and Padme. We were just going over some case notes. He likes to be in-the-know,” Val said flippantly. “You do realize if anything happened, I’d tell you, right? Considering you’re the only one I’d trust with personal information like that.”
“I’m honored that you think so highly of me.”
“Considering you’ve kept your marriage a secret for, what, three years, you must be doing something right,” Val said softly. “Thank you for bringing me my datapad.”
“Try not to lose it again. Those notes are important,” Anakin tapped her shoulder, and she chuckled. He made his way back over to Padme, and Val couldn’t help but smile. They were a good looking couple. The strong, resistant Jedi and the powerful, yet sympathetic Senator.
In the back of her mind, Val couldn’t help but envy them both. She wished she could say the same about her and Palpatine, or even her and Obi-Wan.
Both men seemed so untouchable . Palpatine wouldn’t give in to his own desires, and Obi-Wan was such a stickler for the Jedi code. It was almost.. .useless to try, yet for some reason, Val was drawn more and more to each man with every passing day.
The hologram projector on her datapad beeped, and Val quickly answered it. Her vision was suddenly filled with Obi-Wan.
“I’ve finished conducting a thorough search of the lower levels. None of the guards offered any worthwhile information. It appears the murderer didn’t stick around after committing the crime.”
“I guess that’s good,” Val scowled. She leaned in closer and said softly, “I need a favor of you, Kenobi. Starting tomorrow, I want you to shadow Lorn Lorega from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to sleep. I can send you details of his work schedule, and the location of his home. I simply need you to keep your distance and watch what he does.”
“A novel idea. I will do so.”
“Thank you, Obi-Wan,” Val’s tongue suddenly felt huge in her throat, and she looked away. Even though the bluish, lifelike hologram wasn’t him , she still felt as if he could see right through her. “I spoke with the Chancellor last night. We both believe that there are multiple people involved in this case. Possibly members of the Senate guard.”
“Should I alert the Council?”
“Not yet. Not until...I need to snoop around some and confirm my suspicions. There were some things about Lorega that just didn’t add up. I feel it in my gut.”
And in the Force.
“Alright. Keep me updated,” Obi-Wan made a move to turn off the hologram, but stopped suddenly. He seemed to be analyzing Val, and then said, “ Please get some rest.”
“You cannot hope to possibly function at full capacity when you’ve gotten so little sleep. This is a partnership - we must both pull equal weight. If you need me to do more...please, just tell me.”
“I will,” Val said shrilly. When several senators looked over in her direction, she said shakily, “I’ll...I’ll let you know. I promise. Goodbye.”
Val wasn’t going to get a lot of sleep tonight. She’d known that, and she’d almost waited and asked Obi-Wan to assist her later before remembering that he was a bit more on the strict side when it came to protocol. He was unwavering, while Val was willing to waver.
She stayed at the Offices until Senators and staff began to trickle out for the night. It was then that she found Nes. She could immediately recognize him, despite his face being concealed beneath his helmet. His voice gave it all away, and Val could feel his eyes on her as she walked past.
Val was taking a risk. A huge, huge risk, and she almost backed out before remembering that, for all intents and purposes, she was right . The force had not lied to her. She’d seen Lorn Lorega tell Nes to obstruct justice.
All she needed now was for Nes to admit it.
Shift change came at night, and Val watched from the shadows as Nes was relieved of his duty by another blue-robed, tight-lipped guard. It was when Nes took off his uniform that he became a much softer target for Val. He left the Senate Offices unarmed, with Val staying close, but not too close, behind.
As opposed to taking a speeder, Nes took public transport. It made Val’s job much easier - she wouldn’t have to duck in an alleyway and scry him, something she knew she’d eventually have to do.
Val was able to track him a few blocks, her hand tightly gripping the stun baton concealed beneath her cloak. Nes would overpower her, easily, if given an opening.
So she just had to be sure he’d didn’t get that opportunity in the first place.
When Nes turned down a vacant alleyway, Val pulled herself from the flow of civilians. Not being seen wasn’t her priority anymore, and when they got far enough away from any prying eyes, Val spoke.
“This isn’t the way home.”
“Of course it isn’t,” Nes replied, unfazed by Val’s sudden appearance. “You’ve been following me. I wanted you off my tail.”
“I’m in the middle of an important investigation,” Val got closer. Nes’ posture was lax, the opposite of how he was in-uniform. He was running under the assumption that Val wouldn’t dare do anything rash. She was smaller than him, weaker than him.
“There’s nothing to investigate here. Do you really thing a member of the guard would be foolish enough to conspire with the Republic’s enemies? What do you take me for, some Seperatist spy?” Nes spat.
“I never said you were a spy. I never accused you of anything, actually. I just have to cover all of my angles. Nobody escapes my eye, not even you.”
Nes glanced around, before sneering. “Where’s Kenobi? Did you let your Jedi pet off his leash for once?”
“Kenobi isn’t here because I don’t need him right now.”
“You don’t ‘need’ him? How will you complete this investigation without the force on your side?”
“I don’t need the force.”
“Debatable,” Nes said, and he struck. Had she not been armed, Val would have been on the receiving end of Nes’ incredibly fast, well trained fist. He hadn’t anticipated that she’d had a stun baton, and she unsheathed it just in time.
Val used her baton to pump volts of electricity into his body. Nes dropped like a sack of rocks, groaning. Each time he tried to stand, Val forced him back down.
Nobody would hear his cries. They were in the back alleys. Vagabonds and criminals lurked down here, and those same vagabonds and criminals certainly wouldn’t care if they found a Senate Guard being treated unfairly.
In fact, they’d applaud it.
“I know you and Lorega are up to something. You were told to lie,” Val shocked him again. Seeing him writhe on the ground felt exquisite, and she shocked him again for good measure. “You have no ground t-o stand on.”
“You have no evidence.”
“Kenobi is gathering evidence as we speak. Lorega has already confessed to his crimes,” Val lied. “He threw you under the bus. Told me, word for word , how ‘you were almost caught’ and how I can ‘sniff a lie from a mile away’. You requested to be transferred to a lower level.”
Val was making sure to recall what she’d seen, verbatim. It made the situation more believable. It made it seem as if she’d forced a confession was Lorn, and that Nes was now on his own.
“Lorn roped me into this mess-”
“How many of there are you?”
“Five,” Nes spat. “Five of us.”
“Give me names.”
“No. You caught Lorn and I fair and square. You’ll have to catch the others,” Nes groaned. Val allowed him to get up on his knees.
“You’re going to be brought in for attacking me.”
“You were going to attack me first,” Nes snapped.
“You can’t prove that,” Val shook her head. Something told her to shock Nes again, and she did. He fell back to the groan.
You don’t want him dead.
What difference would that make?
She didn’t need the Senate Guard suspicious of her. They already weren’t fond of her, and killing one of their own wouldn’t win her any favors.
The feeling of the baton in her hand felt familiar. Like in some past life, she’d used it or something similar, to inflict pain.
The feeling of a hand around the end of the baton pulled her out of whatever force-induced trance she’d been in. She’d made a disastrous mistake and had let her guard down, and Nes had a tight grip on her weapon. She pulled back, but he held it firmly.
Val shocked him, but he shook it off and swung Val in a wide arc until she made a shattering, painful connection with the side of a wall. The baton flew from her hand and before she could move, Nes’ fist finally made the connection he’d so desperately wanted.
Blood erupted from Val’s nose. She was disoriented, and when she made a move for her baton, she found that it, as well as Nes, had disappeared.
Shit. Shit. Shit!
Val stumbled down the alleyway, trying to get her bearings. She was disoriented, but not to the point where she couldn’t navigate her way back to the Senate Offices. The walk back was painful and awkward, as her cloak was stained with her own blood and she was fairly certain she’d dislocated something , if not bruised a few ribs. By the time she reached the massive building she’d managed to stem the flow of blood from her nose, but she still looked as if she’d been tossed from a moving speeder.
She went straight to Palpatine’s office, praying that he was still available. The two Redrobes standing guard made no indication that she wasn’t permitted to enter.
“Val, dear - what happened ?”
“An incident over near the monorails,” Val coughed. Palpatine moved briskly, helping Val sit on the couch. He closed the door to his office, giving them privacy - she could see him looking her over, and his hands began checking her over for any serious injuries.
“And you came to me?”
“Y-yeah, because it concerns the case,” Val drawled. “Can I just...just for a minute, can I sit?”
“Take your time.”
Val steadied her breathing. She was trying not to focus on the pain, and instead work on stringing coherent sentences together in her brain. She wanted to tell him - she had to tell him, and she had to tell him the truth.
“Do you trust me?” Val suddenly asked. “Not as an investigator, but do you trust...me? Val?”
“Of course I do.”
“Okay. Good. I...I just need you to trust me,” Val swallowed, staring at the soft, silken red carpet of Palpatine’s office. “I’ve been using the force throughout all my investigations. I’m not a Jedi. I couldn’t be a Jedi, but I can see certain things. I can force my way into the minds of others and see what they see. I saw Lorn Lorega tell Nes to lie, and I pursued Nes, and questioned him. He attacked me and ran away.”
“Tell me what you learned. When you questioned Nes, what did he say to you?” Palpatine reached out to steady Val, keeping warm hands on her waist.
“He said that there were four people involved. He said nothing about the murder, just that he and Lorn Lorega weren’t alone.”
“Did he give you names?”
“No, no names…” Val trailed off. She pitched forward, and Palpatine kept her in place. “He hit me. I’m s-sorry. This all probably seems so sudden…”
“You gathered substantial evidence. This case can, and will, move forwards,” Palpatine murmured. “If Nes did indeed attack you, he has no defense. I will inform the Senate Guard that he is to be stripped of his position, effective immediately. He is a wanted criminal.”
Palpatine reached out and touched her face. Val leaned into him, heedless. His kisses were insistent and stronger than last time. Her fingers clenched against the front of his robes, and heat surged between her legs. He didn’t push her away, and instead held her close. Val sank against him - he was so warm .
“I should inform Obi-Wan,” Val murmured against Palpatine’s mouth, her mind suddenly jolted back to reality. “He’s probably worried.”
“Perhaps ,” Palpatine groaned. He’d pulled away, his eyes studying Val’s kiss-swollen lips. Slight indignation flashed across his face, and Val mentally berated herself for bringing up Kenobi during such an... intimate moment. “Speak with him. Yes. That would be best.”
Val steadily rose to her feet. Palpatine kept a hand on her arm, and he said, “Would you like an escort home?”
“N-no. I can make it.”
Palpatine nodded, and in a soft voice, replied, “Your secrets, however big or small they may be, are safe here.”
“Thank you, Chancellor.”
Val barely had enough energy to walk to her apartment, but she did so anyway. A private escort would have been embarrassing. The only thing she wanted right now was to be alone, and the minute she reached her room she undressed, bathed, and flopped onto her bed. The sheets felt incredibly soft, softer than usual, and eventually she drifted off.
Val is breaking the rules, Obi-Wan is concerned and Palpatine is sneaky. What's new.
Bad news: this chapter is really gross and disturbing.
Good news: this is the grossest chapter in this entire fic. Maybe not the most disturbing but...the grossest
Anyway, you have been warned. If you dislike gore/blood/violence, I sincerely apologize.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Val, I’m glad I caught you before - what happened ?”
Val looked like a wreck. She knew she looked like a wreck. She’d woken with a pounding headache, and the dark circles beneath her eyes were even more pronounced. She had a nasty bruise on her jaw which wasn’t doing her any favors, and her chest felt constricted and tight - she’d begun to wonder if she’d walked away from her encounter with Nes with bruised ribs.
Obi-Wan was standing at her door, having knocked several moments earlier. He’d greeted Val cheerfully, but was now staring at her in horror.
“Last night was... eventful ,” Val groaned. She gestured for Obi-Wan to enter, and he did. “Nes ran. I went to question him, and he attacked me.”
“ Attacked you?”
“Y-yeah,” Val shook her head. “He ran off. I don’t know where he went. What of Lorega?”
“I followed Lorega all day yesterday, and he appeared to stick to his usual schedule. If he noticed me, he made no indication of it,” Obi-Wan rushed forward, catching Val as she stumbled. He guided her over towards the couch and said, “For force sake, Val, you need to see a medic!”
“I’m fine. I’m just bruised. And tired ,” Val did not push him away, leaning into his touch a bit more than she probably should have.
“We must apprehend Nes.”
“He’s already been stripped from the Senate Guard. He’d be a fool to show up to work-”
“I will go after him.”
“I’ll come with you-”
“You won’t ,” Obi-Wan said firmly. “You are to stay here and rest. I’ll inform Anakin and have him come with me. Do you know how many others might be involved?”
“He said five.”
“Five guards?” Obi-Wan pressed.
“I don’t know. He just said...five,” Val sighed, closing her eyes. “Kriff. Kriffing kriff -”
“Why the harsh language?” Obi-Wan gripped her shoulders, steadying her. “Calm down. What’s wrong?”
“I was so stupid . I should have known that he would run.”
“If he were innocent, he wouldn’t have attacked you. Besides, you managed to gather some valuable information.”
Val chuckled. Obi-Wan leaned in close, and she absently let her head rest against his shoulder. “Yeah,” she groaned. “I’m just...tired.”
Obi-Wan stood, offering Val his gloved hand. She took it, and he gently guided her to her feet. His fingers brushed a strand of hair out of her face, and he looked at her so fondly - Val, for once, couldn’t interpret his feelings. She wanted to take a leap of faith what she’d done with Palpatine and kiss him, but for some reason, she couldn’t. He still seemed so unreachable, like there was something beneath the surface.
Probably the Jedi Code.
“I’ll head to the Senate Offices and get to work,” Val murmured. “If you manage to find Nes, call me. Immediately. ”
“I am never going to get you to rest, am I?”
“You’re a good man, Kenobi. I appreciate the concern,” Val patted his chest and began gathering her things. They went their separate ways, with Kenobi calling up Anakin and Val heading to the Senate Offices.
She knew she looked worse for wear. The bruise on her jaw was pronounced, the blotted purple flesh a stark contrast to her pale skin. At one point she passed by Padme, but the Naboo Senator was kind enough not to comment. Her first stop was the Chancellor’s office, and her insides throbbed at the thought that they’d possibly be alone.
Val absently checked by Lorn Lorega’s office, finding it empty. That was unusual. From what she’d read of Obi-Wan’s detailed account of his schedule, he usually stayed in his office during the midday.
It was currently midday.
Lorn Lorega was nowhere to be found.
Val toyed with the edge of her datapad, eyes scanning the hallways. Guards were stationed near the Senate Chamber, gazes concealed beneath their helmets. If they were scrutinizing her, she would never know.
Val headed to the Chancellor’s office anyway, keeping her head ducked as she walked. She nearly ran smack into Sate Pestage, who growled and said, “If you’re looking for him, He isn’t in his office.”
“Where is he?”
“He went to the storage units to scour for old documents.”
“Of course. He isn’t an invalid," Sate sneered.
“I’m well aware of that, Pestage,” Val snarled. She pushed past him and began making her way down each level, moving briskly, though not so quickly that she brought attention to herself. Maybe she was overreacting. Her beating heart wouldn’t calm until she saw him, safe. She headed down to the lower, lower levels - the temperature dropped slowly, and the only lurkers were service droids and the occasional maintenance worker.
The doors leading to the storage section of the building were wide and bulky. Upon approaching, they slid open for Val, revealing what had to be dozens and dozens of rows of shelves and steel boxes. The place was dimly lit and massive.
Val began making her way down the rows, moving slowly, ears open. She could hear speaking over in the far right corner, where the small loading bay was located. She made her way over, fingers curled into fist.
She ducked down as a light swept across her field of vision. The voices were louder, now, and familiar.
“...you will unhand me right this instant! You are threatening a Senator of the Republic! You have disgraced your most sacred duty!”
Val got on one knee. She closed her eyes, trying her best to stay as quiet as possible. She reached out, finding the mind of Lorn Lorega and watching things through his eyes for as little amount of time as possible.
Bail Organa and Palpatine were on their knees, their hands bound behind their backs. A small speeder was stationed near the docking bay. Lorn Lorega was standing over them, a blaster in hand, while two others stood armed and by his side.
“Lorega,” Palpatine said, the epitome of calm. His eyes were pleading, and, unlike Organa, he was remaining still and not struggling against his restraints. “This is absurd. The Senate will never consider your request.”
“They’ll consider it when the Chancellor and an Alderrainian Senator appear on the HoloNet, begging for their life.”
“I’ll never beg to you,” Bail spat.
Lorn cracked him over the head with his blaster. The impact shook Val to the core, and Organa fell, either dead or unconscious. Val tried not to scream - she’d felt Lorn recoil in disgust at Organa’s words before he struck.
“You are making a monumental mistake,” Palpatine said softly. “I beg you to reconsider what it is you are doing.”
“Do you want me to knock you out next?”
“Of course not. I want you to talk to me like the civilized man I know you’re capable of being. Six years of service and you’ve never shown a hint of animosity towards me, or towards the Republic.”
“I don’t hate you, and I don’t hate the Republic. I hate what it’s become. Politicians all scurrying around each other like rats. This war is dragging on. People are whispering of corruption. People are whispering that you’re corrupt.”
“I am as pure a man as any other politician. I have my own set of transgressions, but everything I do, I do for the survival of the Republic.”
Val could feel the anger swelling inside Lorn. He was going to lash out, soon, and strike Palpatine just as he did Bail.
She didn’t trust that Lorn wouldn’t let his anger overwhelm him and end up killing Palpatine in the process.
Val moved, pulling out of Lorn’s mind and moving in closer. One of Lorn’s comrades had left his rifle leaning against the parked speeder, just a short spring away from Val’s location.
She had a short amount of time to spring, grab it, aim, and fire.
It was a risk she had to take.
Val waited until the right moment - Lorn and his cronies had turned their back to her - and ran. She sprinted, and by the time she was halfway there one of the guards turned and shouted.
She dove, grabbing the blaster and aiming. She fired one shot that struck the guard in the leg and then another that sailed wide and singed Lorn Lorega’s cheek. She briefly saw Palpatine move, but she was too focused on firing her weapon.
Her finger had barely squeezed the trigger when one of the guards gripped the high-powered blaster and ripped it away from her. Gloved hands tugged Val by the hair, and she screamed -
He flew backwards, as if yanked by an unseen object. Val barely had time to breath. One guard was on his knees, nursing a hole blown through his thigh. Lorn Lorega was bleeding profusely from the shoulder and the guard who had put his hands on Val lay, crumpled and groaning.
“Hush, dear,” Palpatine, free of his restraints, knelt by Val and gently touched the bruise on her jaw. “It’s alright.”
“Y-you,” Val struggled to breathe, gripping Palpatine’s robes. “How did you-”
Use the Force?
He had to have used the Force.
Val’s mind was fuzzy. Palpatine led her over to Lorn Lorega, and Val grabbed his blaster from the ground. It was bent, as if a giant hand had crushed it into the shape of a baton.
He did this.
Palpatine did this.
The three men were lined up next to one another, Val could feel Palpatine’s grip on her, his fingers rising to caress the back of her neck. Bail Organa lay in the corner, still out cold.
“We have to call the guards upstairs,” Val said. She made a motion to do so, but Palpatine stopped her.
“Don’t. We will deal with this,” Palpatine’s voice was low. “These three men are traitors to the Republic. Treason is met with death. So, they will die.”
Val almost couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“That’s murder - that’s-”
“It’s justice,” Palpatine said simply. He shrugged as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. He seemed unaffected by Val’s stare, and he gently reached out and placed a hand on her shoulder. The touch was gentle, almost a caress. Warmth flooded through Val’s body.
She felt the same way, holding this bent blaster, that she had with Nes. It was familiar in her hands.
She’d done this before. Somewhere. Somehow.
“How,” Val murmured. “H-how. How will they die?”
“By your hand, of course.”
“I don’t want to kill them.”
“Of course you do. They are an affront to everything you stand for,” Palpatine replied casually. Lorn Lorega, still nursing his wound, began looking back and forth between Val and Palpatine. His eyes were watering, one hand clutching long, blackened, steaming line that ran from the edge of his mouth to his ear.
“Lorn,” Val said calmly. “Did you kill that maintenance worker?”
“N-No,” Lorn groaned. “No. We didn’t.”
“You’re lying. Tell me the truth.”
“We didn’t. None of us laid a finger on her, I swear ,” Lorn ducked his head. He was crying, now. Sobbing.
Val ripped the helmet from the guard next to him and brought the twisted blaster down, hard. The blunt end caught him in the face and knocked several teeth clean from his mouth. Blood erupted from his nose and splattered all over Lorn and all over Val.
The blow was enough to shatter his skull, but not enough to kill him. Val made sure the next several hits did the trick.
A body fell forward.
“Tell me the truth!”
“We killed her!” Lorn shouted. “We did it. We killed her. Is that what you wanted? Is that what you wanted to hear?”
It was like a drug. The blaster was coated in blood. Val’s hands were coated in blood.
So much of it, everywhere.
Val killed the next guard. He took three hits and then went down.
“Please, no,” Lorn was sobbing as Val advanced towards him. “No, no -”
Killing Lorn Lorega felt satisfying. It was the type of satisfaction Val enjoyed, like a hot, candle-lit bath after a long, grueling day of hard work. Simple, yet close to the heart. With each blow Val grit her teeth, challenging herself to break through his skull and spill his brains across the ground.
You’ve done this before. You’ve killed before.
Lorn was a bloody mess against the floor. Val dropped the makeshift blaster- baton, swayed on her feel, and then fell into Palpatine’s arms.
“You did well. So, so well.”
“I don’t feel well.”
“How you feel is...unimportant at the moment. What matters is that you finished your mission,” Palpatine crooned. He cupped her face between his hands, and then kissed her. It was languid, as if they had all the time in the world. Val’s eyes shot over to Bail Organa's unconscious form, and she heard Palpatine murmur, “He won’t be waking anytime soon. Don’t worry. We have time.”
Val stripped off her shirt. She sunk to her knees, pulling Palpatine with her. He was placing, hot, wet, open-mouthed kisses against her neck and chest, his own nimble fingers playing with the buttons of her pants.
Lorn Lorega’s blood was sticky against her bare back, but Val didn’t care. She pulled down her pants, rucked up his robes, and reached a hand between them. He jutted against her questing hand and she squeezed, his length heavy against her palm. Blood was pounding in her ears and blood felt cool against her skin. Dead eyes stared over at her from a crushed skull. She could feel her head bump against Lorn’s chest, and she tilted so that she could use his body as a cushion for her thrashing head.
She didn’t care.
It hurt a bit - she wasn’t wet enough to take him, yet, but he pushed inside her anyway. Palpatine was still the perfect image of control, his gaze focused firmly on Val’s chest as he snapped his hips forward and finally claimed her, all of her , and drew a high-pitched squeal out of Val that she’d never known herself capable of producing. He felt good, suddenly, and he felt right. Things felt right.
Everything is alright….
See, that wasn't so bad *cackles*.
Poor Bail. It's a good thing he was unconscious for all of that. Anyway, the investigation is "over." or is it?
The investigation was officially closed.
While none of the culprits had been tried, the one’s suspected in the murder had been killed in self-defense by Val Semper, as she attempted to rescue Senator Bail Organa and Chancellor Palpatine. Obi-Wan Kenobi had engaged Nes and some of his followers, and had been forced to kill them.
Nes had lied. There hadn’t been four. There had been a dozen, some guards, some staff, that had conspired to kidnap Organa and the Chancellor and hold them for ransom. In the midst of it, a logistics aid had discovered their plans and Lorn Lorega had silenced her.
That was the report. That was the truth, now, even if it wasn’t.
Val didn’t particularly mind it.
Her time on Coruscant was slowly coming to an end, and she’d eventually have to start looking for work - she had enough money to stay for an extended period of time, and Coruscant was always seeking investigators, but a part of her almost wanted to say goodbye to the metropolitan planet.
Palpatine was here. Obi-Wan was here. Anakin, one of the only people she’d ever genuinely considered a friend, was here. They weren’t out there. Out there was... different . She’d almost grown accustomed to her apartment, accustomed to her time in the Senate Offices.
Val supposed she could stay a little while.
She’d seen a medic like Obi-Wan had instructed. Her ribs had been bruised and she’d suffered a mild concussion, but none of those injuries were serious enough to keep on bedrest, or to keep her from calling Kenobi to her apartment.
“I thought you would have left already. Your job doesn’t keep you in one place,” Obi-Wan politely declined when Val offered to brew some tea, something that was unusual of him - Val had almost come to memorize the particular blend he enjoyed.
“I’ve decided to stay. On Coruscant, at least for a while,” Val replied softly. “Traveling doesn’t offer much of a...home.”
“Why not return to Alderaan?”
“Alderaan isn’t my home. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t bat an eye if Alderaan were blown to pieces,” Val sat next to Obi-Wan. “I have more of a connection to the depths of space than I do Alderaan.”
“Don’t let Organa hear you say that. Although, I heard he’s spoken nothing but praise for you after you rescued him.”
“Hard to believe we come from the same planet, right?”
Obi-Wan chuckled. “I’m just surprised you enjoy Coruscant more than Alderaan. Rolling hills and oceans seem more your type than...speeder filled streets and high-rises.”
“I like Coruscant for the people.”
“You? Liking people?”
“I like it for... some of its people. Mainly for you.”
Kenobi’s jaw tensed, and he seemed to sink into his chair. “Val...I believe we need to have a discussion.”
Val froze. His tone wasn’t accusatory, just hesitant. Like he didn’t want to have such a “discussion.”
“Okay,” Val walked over to the couch and sat next to him, placing her mug of tea on the table. She sat up, crossing her legs and facing Obi-Wan to show that she was fully engaged. That alone seemed to discourage Obi-Wan even further, and he eventually just sighed and deflated.
“Anakin informed me of your...how did he put it…’ infatuation ’ with me - ugh, ‘infatuation’ seems so negative …’crush’? No, too childish,” Obi-Wan stumbled over his words. “Ah, wording is besides the point. Anakin has seemingly been making it his mission to get me closer to you.”
“If he was making an effort, he failed miserably. You haven’t even told me what planet you’re from.”
Obi-Wan chuckled, scratching the back of his neck. “Yet you know how much I like chamomile tea.”
“That’s called being observant .”
“I do feel close to you, you know,” Obi-Wan said softly. “But I... can’t . My heart belonged to another and even if I could, the Jedi aren’t too fond of earthly attachments.”
“Obi-Wan, if you have someone else-”
“I did have someone else. I see her every time I’m with you. She was strong-willed, intelligent...perhaps this is just me projecting but...I can’t give you what you want, Val.”
“You don’t know what I want.”
“I’m not ready. Not yet. I’m sorry.”
Crushed wasn’t the right word to describe how Val felt. Nor was disappointed, or distraught, or upset. She couldn’t let Obi-Wan see that she was near tears.
“I’m...sorry,” Val murmured, ducking her head. “I understand. I just...want you to do what’s best for you.”
“Anakin meant well. He wants me to find happiness,” Obi-Wan replied. “I will, in time.”
And not with you.
“I’ll be here, if you need me,” Val said. “Even if I’m not here , I’ll be here. Always. ”
“As will I.”
Val finally took Palpatine up on his offer to join him at the Opera House. His seats were perfect, right about center stage, overlooking everyone and everything. The box was cozy and inviting, and the minute Val arrived, Palpatine beckoned for Sly Moore and Sate Pestage to take their leaves.
Val took the seat next to his, happy that she was close to him. She had questions. So, so, so many questions, and they were high up enough that it would be impossible for them to be heard by anyone.
She was in her happy place, surrounded by art and patrons of art. And Palpatine, who, admittedly, counted as both.
See? This is much better than what Obi-Wan could have given you.
As if you even know what Obi-Wan could have given you.
“Something is troubling you,” Palpatine spoke softly. Ever so subtly he reached over and let his hand rest across her own, his smooth fingers massaging her skin. “Speak to me, sweet girl.”
“I’m just tired. I’m still...processing things. Processing what happened.”
“Lorn Lorega is dead, as are his followers. It is a shame Obi-Wan was forced to kill Nes,” Palpatine murmured. “He could have stood as a shining example of the Senate Guard’s corruption.”
“It seems as if nobody trusts anybody anymore.”
Palpatine gave a small snort. “That is an entirely accurate statement. It’s why I choose to be mindful of who I keep around.”
“I’m staying on Coruscant for a bit, I’ve decided.”
They watched the opera in silence. For some reason, Val couldn’t focus. The music almost always caught her attention and pulled her into a harmonious daze, but this time, she was solely focused on the man sitting next to her.
“You’re a force user,” Val said softly. “I know what I saw in that storage unit. You can use the force like a fully trained Jedi-”
“I made a conscious effort from an early age not to pursue the Jedi Order. My sensitivity in the force, like your own abilities, was honed and strengthened over time. Politics has always been my true calling,” Palpatine stopped stroking Val’s hand. “I wasn’t going to let the force keep that from me.”
“I need to learn.”
“You need someone to teach you,” Palpatine said.
“Y-yeah. I want that to be you. I want you to teach me or...guide me. I don’t know what I can do - well, I know what I can do, but I can never distinguish what’s the force and what’s not.”
“I will help you master your abilities. I will be your teacher,” Palpatine smiled, flashing white teeth. He began to rub circles against the tops of Val’s fingers. After a while, he said, “You’ve had an interesting fixation over the past few months.”
“Yes. You have feelings for him.”
“I had feelings for him. Not anymore. Just a fixation...that’s all he is or ever was,” Val murmured. The performance was coming to a close, she realized.
Nobody would be able to see the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic casually holding her hand, as if they were an old married couple. She desperately hoped that this was a precursor to something else. She had an intense desire to feel him again, and to feel him properly. No blood, no rough floors.
Val wondered if he could read her mind. She hadn’t seen his full capabilities, yet, and he was rather quick to drag her from the Opera and back to his own private apartment. Val barely had time to study the ornate walls and shelves filled with precious art from Naboo, Alderaan, Mandalore, and countless other planets before she got lost in the taste of him. His thin lips were like fire against her skin, and for the first time Val was able to feel him. They weren’t in any rush. There was no threat of being seen. They were alone, wrapped up in each other - Val couldn’t help but smile up at the ceiling as Palpatine’s lips trailed down her neck.
Val’s heart was full, but she didn’t know what it was exactly full of. The thought of being in love with Palpatine was oddly absurd to her, but deep down, she knew that it was a possibility. The way he mapped her body with his nimble fingers made it seem as if he already knew her, as if they’d been lovers in some past life. Maybe -
“Val, dear?” Palpatine slowed his movements. His hand floated away from her bare breasts and came to rest around her waist, lightly squeezing the skin there. His chest was heaving, his robes piled around him. His hair was a mess from where Val had been tugging at it, and his cheeks were flushed red. He looked so different from his usual, dignified self.
Val loved it. She loved what she could do to him.
She leaned forward and gave him a soft kiss. She said, “I was just...thinking.”
“Don’t think,” Palpatine murmured. “You want this, don’t you? You want me?”
“Yes,” Val breathed. His fingers were suddenly massaging the tight muscle between her neck and shoulder. She swayed, lips stretching into a smile.
“Good girl,” Palpatine’s hand lazily floated from her shoulder, to her cheek. He brushed his knuckles across Val’s soft skin before cupping her face between his hands, murmuring, “Look inside my mind.”
“You want me to scry you?”
“Yes. Go on,” Palpatine smiled. “I want you to see what I feel for you.”
He’s giving you permission.
Val took a shaky breath, closing her eyes and slipping inside the depths of Palpatine’s mind. What she saw wasn’t the weary old mind of a politician, but the mind of someone who’s outward appearance betrayed his true nature. He was sharper, smarter, more powerful -
Val gasped. Waves of desire flooded through her, and she pitched forward into Palpatine’s arms. She gripped his soft skin, moaning against his neck. She felt his fingers slip inside of her, and she fell back against the satin red sheets of his bed.
She was experiencing his pleasure, as well as her own. It was an indescribable feeling, something she’d never dared attempt with any of her previous lovers. She’d never trusted herself, and she’d never had a partner that she trusted as much as she trusted Palpatine.
Feather light fingers traced her skin. Palpatine’s thin lips curled upwards, and he leaned over Val. She could feel his length exposed and pressing against her thigh. He caged her with his body and all she felt was heat. His heat. His desire was like a flame that she couldn’t - and didn’t want to - escape.
He sunk into her, and the fire increased. It was raging, now an inferno.
A few solid thrusts had Val squealing, clutching him as he claimed her like a man starved.
I feel all of you.
Being inside of his mind was an intimate experience that Val doubted Palpatine had extended to anyone else. By the time she came down from her high she was panting, dots of sweat beading around her breasts and forehead. She looked up at Palpatine and fluttered her eyelashes. He leaned down and kissed her, hard, scooping her into his arms and rolling over onto his back.
They said nothing for a long while. Val gently eased out of his mind, soaking in the last few minutes of pleasure.
“Thank you,” Val murmured. “Thank you for letting me... see you. I’ve never experienced anything like that.”
“I wanted to be your first,” Palpatine said softly.
“Can we...do it again? Sometime? If you’ll allow me?”
“Of course. It’s not like you’re the only one who gets something out of it,” Palpatine winked, and Val snuggled against him. “Our minds were linked through the force. You could feel me, and I could feel you.”
Val lifted her head a bit. She asked, “How did you discover that you were a force user?”
“When I was a boy. It was all rather sudden and confusing,” Palpatine mused. “I, of course, didn’t know what to do with myself. I knew I didn’t want to become a Jedi, so I hid.”
“You’re still hiding.”
“Yes, but it is for the best. I would certainly be accused of using my abilities to obtain my position as Chancellor,” Palpatine replied. “Such a scandal would throw our current government further into chaos.”
“I agree that Coruscant doesn’t need any more chaos. It just...pains me that we both have to bury parts of ourselves.”
“We won’t have to bury anything when we’re around each other. Perhaps that will bring you some solace,” Palpatine absently began playing with Val’s dark hair. She couldn’t see into his eyes, but from the way he was methodically twirling the strand around his fingers, she could tell that he was deep in thought. “The Jedi Council would not take too kindly to a force-sensitive official, either. They already disfavor me as it is.”
“I wouldn’t say that. Kenobi respects you, and Anakin absolutely idolizes you. He considers you a mentor. I think, sometimes, the Jedi fear what they don’t understand,” Val rolled back over, lying on her back, shoulder to shoulder with Palpatine. She felt the sheets rustle as he pulled them up over her body before nestling beneath them as well. “Fear is natural, but it shouldn’t be...permanent. If it’s persistent, that means that you might not be as strong as you think you are. That’s what my father believed, at least.”
Val cringed. She was an adult, almost thirty years old, and thoughts of her father and mother made her recoil like a struck animal.
“Your father was a professor, was he not? A brilliant one,” Palpatine said.
“Is that a false assumption?”
“No. He was smart,” Val sighed. “My mother was smart, too. Both of them had great careers. I…”
“I know that they both perished several years ago. I won’t ask for details,” Palpatine turned his head and kissed her shoulder. “I apologize for broaching the subject. I’ve forgotten that not everyone processes familiar deaths the way I do.”
“Passed when I was a boy. That was a long, long time ago,” Palpatine said. “I’ve found that part of embracing the force fully means letting go and moving on. You cannot allow ghosts of the past to haunt you. They only keep you from recognizing your true potential.”
“I don’t know if I’m ready to let go of...them,” Val closed her eyes.
“Then I will help you. I am your teacher now, am I not?”
And you’re all mine.
“When I was killing those guards...I felt like I’d done it before,” Val murmured. “It was familiar to me. It didn’t bother me the way it should - I’m not a killer. I’ve never been a killer.”
Palpatine’s grip around her waist tightened. She was staring at the red ceiling of his bedroom, trying to keep her mind away from the harsh memories of the bent blaster cracking across Lorn Lorega’s skull. The sound, the gurgles he’d made as he choked on his own blood, were constant. She’d hear it for the rest of her life.
Lips touched her bare shoulder, and Val shivered.
“Would you like me to distract you?”
“I’d like you to talk to me. You know the force. What’s wrong with me-”
“Nothing is wrong with you. You are an extremely gifted woman. Using the force to fully enter the mind of another and stay in their mind is a rare ability. There could be remnants left over from the violent criminals you’ve been force to scry.”
“It’s not that. I know when something isn’t me. This was me .”
Palpatine pursed his lips, studying Val’s face for a moment. He slowly reached out, the pads of his fingers very lightly touching her temples.
“Close your eyes.”
She felt him reach out with the force, and she instinctively recoiled - it felt weird, so have someone prodding and poking her mind. He was inside of her, inside all of her memories and thoughts and emotions, picking his way through until he reached the underbelly and unearthed things she’d never thought could inhabit her head.
Suddenly she was a ten year old girl again, standing at the edge of one of Alderaan’s many woods.
There was blood on her pants. And on her shirt.
There was blood everywhere. She could smell it and taste it. The body on the ground was fresh. A boy. His throat was punctured, torn open as if he’d been mauled by a wild animal.
Val’s mouth was filled with blood. Skin that wasn’t hers clung to her lips.
Palpatine pulled away, but the memory was still there. Details came rushing back to her so fast and her head felt as if it were going to erupt. Val stumbled from the bed and ran, naked, to the refresher. The top of her head nearly slammed against the rim as she bent over the stainless steel toilet and emptied her stomach.
She didn’t know how long she knelt there. She heard soft feet against the floor and a cool hand touched her bare back. Eventually, after washing her mouth out until it felt raw, she trudged back into the bedroom.
Palpatine was nowhere in sight. Val waited for him, and after a few minutes he returned, clad in a dark robe, with tea.
“Drink . It will help the headache,” Palpatine said sternly. Val did so, nodding in thanks.
Val sipped her tea. After a few moments, she let it rest on the bedside table and hugged her knees against her chest.
“I killed someone. I b-bit someone’s throat out and k-killed them-”
“I saw. There is nothing to be ashamed of, sweet girl. It was in the past,” Palpatine gently stroked the back of her neck, looking upon her with sad eyes. “You used the force to protect yourself from the truth.”
“I-I locked away the memory?”
“Yes, possibly without realizing it,” Palpatine replied. “You’ve killed before, Val. It is in your nature.”
“That’s not who I am-”
“It is . Acknowledge it, and embrace it.”
Val closed her eyes. Palpatine’s soft ministrations against her skin continued, and she said, “Have you ever killed before?”
His movements stopped.
“Of course. Many times.”
“Did you enjoy it?”
“I take no pleasure in such a quick, simple act,” Palpatine continued to massage her skin, this time trailing his fingers down her neck. Val leaned into his touch, addicted. “I do not let it weigh on my conscience. You shouldn’t either.”
“I can’t help it.”
“Your parents raised you to be kind, and merciful. It is against your upbringing to harbor such feelings,” Palpatine murmured. “Such a sweet, innocent girl. What was it that ruined you?”
“I don’t know,” Val choked. She could taste her own tears, and Palpatine eagerly kissed them away. Val held on, raking her nails down his chest before slipping her hand beneath his robe. She grasped the hardening flesh between his legs. He angled his hips, pressing his mouth against the shell of her ear.
“Don’t provoke me.”
“Or what, Chancellor? ” Val sneered. His eyes became alit with a fire she’d never seen before, and without warning, she found herself on her back beneath him. She could feel his hardness against her thigh, his tip leaking against her skin. One of his hands tangled in her dark hair, and his lips engulfed hers. It was the most titillating, satisfying experience she’d ever felt. She could feel his body, and she could feel him , through the force. Val buried her nose against the juncture between his neck and shoulder as he slid inside her smoothly.
She reached out further with the force. If she scryed him, she would see darkness - his eyes were screwed shut, his teeth grit as he pounded into Val with such ferocity that the bed itself was shaking with each thrust.
Val touched the recesses of his mind. She saw nothing. She felt everything, and all she felt was lust. Pure, unadulterated lust. The only thing he could focus on was her. The only thing on Palpatine’s mind was Val.
Val’s attention-starved psyche could have sworn that she’d fallen in love, right then and there.
Val’s rational mind, the mind that dominated her daily life, scoffed.
Palpatine groaned, spilling inside her just as Val came with a cry. As he pulled out, he pressed a chaste, open-mouthed kiss against her shoulder before rolling onto his back. His eyes remained closed but he wasn’t asleep.
Val could only lay there, her breasts covered in goosebumps from the sudden gust of cool air from the vents above. Her body was already sore, but that was to be expected. He’d kept such a firm, secure grip on her that it was sure to leave bruises.
“I should get going,” Val said. “It’s late.”
“Stay,” Palpatine murmured. “Share my bed for tonight.”
“I don’t want to intrude-”
“I would be a neglectful lover if I didn’t extend the offer,” Palpatine said, his tone holding no room for an argument. “Stay. I insist.”
“Do you love me?”
“What? My dear, I-”
“Do you love me?” Val repeated. She sat up, staring down at Palpatine, who lay as lax as an alleycat. “I need an answer.”
“What you need is rest.”
Kenobi didn’t love you. Couldn’t. What makes you think he’s capable?
You can’t even love yourself.
“I suppose you’re right.”
“Sleep,” Palpatine reached out and pulled her against him. “And, if you must know, I am incredibly fond of you.”
That’s not enough.
“I’ve become selfish. You’ve given me a taste of true affection, and I want more,” Val chuckled. “I’d be your wife if you asked.”
“I feel as if I am far past marrying age, Val. You, on the other hand, are young. You have a career. You certainly must realize that this ...will not last forever.”
“I want it too.”
“Do not neglect the reality of the situation. This is temporary,” Palpatine gazed upon Val’s sad face, and said, softer now, “I’m not saying that I prefer it to be, but it is reality.”
Val said nothing. She let her head drop against his chest. Palpatine’s personal droid zoomed into the room, but he waved it away. He gave a verbal command and the lights dimmed slowly, until the room was dark.
“Tomorrow, we will begin your training.”
They did begin their lessons the next day, however, their schedules permitted their subsequent meetings to only be at night.
That wasn’t to say that Val didn’t see him. She was taking up a smaller robbery case in the underbelly of Coruscant, but she occasionally had time to visit the Chancellor’s office under the guise that she was assessing documents seized from Lorn Lorega’s office. While that was truthful, it wasn’t the whole truth. Palpatine always greeted her with a smile and a sigh of relief, as if she were his escape.
On some days, he’d take her - he’d have her across his desk with his head buried between her legs. Once, he’d rucked up his robes, slammed her against the wall, and fucked her until she could barely speak. Recently, he’d bent her over his desk and pounded into her like a man starved, his nails digging into her slender hips. Val’s stare had on the door, directly ahead. While Palpatine had locked it, it was titillating to think about the horror on Mas Amedda’s face or, better, the absolute disgust on Sate Pestage’s face should they somehow walk in and witness their boss engaging in such a carnal act. It wasn’t like Val would have really cared - they were keeping it a secret, yes, but had things gone her way, she would have walked out of his office with his cum trickling down her thighs.
Each time, she was awed by his strength and stamina and the flex of hidden muscles beneath his robes. With each passing encounter, it was becoming easier and easier to shove her remaining feelings towards Obi-Wan out of her mind. Palpatine was an exquisite, unique, powerful creature that demanded Val’s full attention. He’d come to map her body perfectly, and he knew what made her writhe and scream and whimper.
Val looked around his dimly lit apartment, and then out the one-way window. Coruscant was a spectacle of lights as far as the eye could see. Nothing about Coruscant had screamed “special” to Val. Even its architecture was lackluster. Sure, the Opera House was lovely, and the Jedi Temple was a work of art, but that was about it.
“Have you been working on your meditation?” Palpatine said. His personal droid rolled over, offering Val tea - she took it, nodding in silent thanks to the droid. She then faced Palpatine, staring at him over the edge of her cup.
“I have, every morning. It’s helped me with my scrying...I can do it quicker. I don’t want to have to be completely relaxed when I enter someone’s mind - I should be able to do it under stress.”
“Well, you know it’s possible. You were able to do it when you rescued Organa and I,” Palpatine sat across from her. “You were under a considerable amount of stress then.”
“I was focused on saving you and Senator Organa I...it was like it just forced itself to work…”
“It was a matter of self preservation. You would have been killed had you not taken action,” Palpatine replied. “It did not force itself. You made a choice . Your abilities cannot. Now you just have to replicate that.”
“I don’t know how.”
Palpatine pursed his lips, tapping patterns against his teacup. “Do you remember why you killed that boy?”
Val shivered. His gaze was hard, leaving no room for rebuttal. Val said softly, “I think...he...touched me. Tried to kiss me-”
“He tried to force himself on you?”
“No, no...I just...he was trying to be cute about it.”
“So, you killed him?”
“I did,” Val was crying, now. Palpatine made no move to comfort her. “I don’t know why. I don’t know why I blocked the memory.”
“It was instinct. You were unaware, but now, you are aware. You mus t be. It has to come to you as easily as breathing - that is how you know you’ve truly mastered the force.”
Val thought for a moment. “It’s effortless to you, then?”
“You must have had a good teacher.”
“Yes. He was...one of the best,” Palpatine wasn’t smiling.
“Is he still alive?”
“No,” Palpatine didn’t look ashamed. Though he’d hesitated to answer, he apparently knew her well enough. Val’s would wriggle the truth out of him.
“Did you kill him?”
“He deserved it, I bet,” Val grinned. She could have sworn that she caught a twinkle of genuine, raw affection in his eyes.
“It is only natural that the strong destroy those who are weak. I had grown more powerful than he,” Palpatine said dismissively. “I did what I had to do. Just as you did with Lorega.”
“Yeah,” Val murmured. She sipped her tea and stared across the table at Palpatine. “I’m getting more and more used to that. The meditation might be working.”
“The objective is to get you comfortable with your abilities and with yourself. To do so, one must have a clear head. You must think inward, not outward. It is about you, not about anyone else,” Palpatine said slowly.
“Are you sure you don’t have a code?”
“I don’t. The Jedi would like you to believe that they are the true keepers of any and all knowledge regarding the force. My teacher rejected those ideas and proposed a.. .fuller way of understanding the force. While I appreciate the need for doctrine, I have always been a fan of objectivity, something that the Jedi lack.”
“You’re permitted from really pursuing your passions. That’s what Anakin told me, at least.”
“Such a smart young man,” Palpatine mused. “Anakin is a unique case.”
“He’s a little bit more...grounded in reality than some Jedi,” Val huffed. “Surprisingly. I think it’s the Tatooine in him.”
“I remember when he first set foot on Coruscant - he was no more than a young boy, no older than nine. Such a bright spirit. I feel the war has dulled that.”
“It’s dulled all of us. I want it to end. I want the galaxy to go back to being...stable.”
“Oh, it will,” Palpatine gave a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “In due time. Now, come here .”
Val abandoned her tea, slinking across the room and planting herself in his lap. He sighed, reclining against the cushioned chair and pulling Val against him. She sighed against his throat, closing her eyes and just relishing in the fact that she was able to be so close and so intimate with someone as powerful as him.
“I am extremely proud of the progress you have made, Val. You will only grow stronger.”
“I hate that I limited myself all these years. I thought scrying was all I was capable of doing.”
“How could you have known? You had limited knowledge of the force,” Palpatine brushed his fingers against her cheek. “All these years, sitting on untapped potential because you did not have a proper teacher.”
“I’m glad I have you.”
I’m glad you’re mine.
Sudden possessiveness flared inside Val - the thought of Palpatine training and fucking anyone else but her sent a strong spike of displeasure through her hard heart. Palpatine felt it, and Val felt his grip on her grow tighter.
When she looked up, he was grinning.
“Know that you are the only one I have time for right now, and the only one I trust to share my bed. You satisfy me fully. ”
“Is that a declaration I hear?”
“Val, we’ve discussed this-”
“I know,” Val sat up straight so she could have an easier time looking into his blue eyes. “I just feel like you should know. How I feel. I know this won’t last and I...there’s love here, from me.”
Palpatine sighed, his eyes drifting down to Val’s small, pale hands. “Occasionally, I forget how young you are in comparison to myself.”
“That’s never mattered to you.”
“It doesn’t. I’m at a time in my life where I don’t have much love to give,” Palpatine replied solemnly.
“Okay,” Val nodded, trying to come up with the right words. She eventually gave up trying to coax a confession out of him and just leaned forward, gently pressing her mouth against his.
“May I stay here tonight?”
Val went into his room, bathing and slipping on one of his tunics before crawling into his bed. She ran her hands across the smooth, red sheets before closing her eyes. She would have drifted off right then and there had she not felt Palpatine through the force, having entered the room in complete silence, moving through the dark space with ease.
She heard him dress and speak briefly to his personal droid before he climbed into bed.
Whatever Palpatine couldn’t express with words, Val noticed, he seemed to express with touches. An arm was, almost always, thrown across Val while he slept. He always had a hand on her, somewhere, and tonight Val could feel his fingers creep beneath her shirt. She sighed, leaning into him and groaning when his hand reversed direction and slipped beneath her panties. Val hummed, wriggling her hips in encouragement.
“You are insatiable .”
“At this point, you shouldn’t be surprised. My position hasn’t afford me as many luxuries as you might think. I want to savor it,” Palpatine’s teeth grazed the shell of Val’s ear. “I want to savor you .”
He curled a finger upwards and Val gasped. She reached behind her, searching desperately before she finally found and dragged his leaking cock from the confines of his pants. Her movements were frenzied as she helped Palpatine tug her panties down past her thighs. He filled her in one stroke, letting out a content sigh of pleasure. His free hand fondled her breasts and she rutted into him, his lips pressed against the shell of her ear as he moved. Their pants and cries filled the darkness and Val found herself drifting, just as she had before, eager to search his mind and experience his pleasure as well as her own.
She did. It crashed over her like a powerful wave and she arched her back, squealing when a particular powerful thrust made her toes curl and her mouth hang open in pleasure -
“Can you feel me ?”
“I can feel all of you,” Val gasped. She reached back and threaded her fingers through his thin hair. She didn’t realize he’d come as well until she felt him slip out of her. A thin sheen of sweat covered her brow, and her limbs felt like jelly. Palpatine, on the other hand, seemed perfectly lively.
Val rolled over on her back. Through the darkness, she could barely make out the flicker of blue in Palpatine’s eyes. He leaned in and kissed her. When he pulled away, Val couldn’t help but move in closer. She fit perfectly against his side, as if she’d been created for it, and for him.
It was like a dream.
She felt his heartbeat beneath her palm. It was rapid, and Val silently felt it calm after a few minutes. For a brief moment, she almost wanted to speak and say something, anything that would get him admit his true feelings.
“You’re thinking far too much. Rest,” Palpatine murmured into the darkness.
“I can’t help it. It’s like I think for a living,” Val replied softly. “All the time.”
“An active mind yields more than a mind dull from stagnation, wouldn’t you agree?”
Val playfully slapped his chest, chuckling. “Of course. But it’s nice to have a break sometimes.”
“I agree,” Palpatine pulled her closer, and Val nearly moaned at the simple contact.
She never wanted him to let her go.
1. Val is very much in deep at this point...unfortunately.
Nine months droned by and Val’s stay on Coruscant was no less exciting.
The apartment she’d purchased was finally starting to feel like a home, as was Palpatine’s apartment. She couldn’t count how many lessons had been held in the confines of his home. Val would listen to him explain the complexities of the force and how it affected Val and her scrying, and then have her demonstrate what she could do. Not only did her scrying time increase, but the distance between her and her target increased as well - before, she’d only been able to have a few miles between her and the target, but now, she could reach people from half a planet - maybe even a full planet - away. She was able to sense people, fully, through the force. The more she pushed and practiced the easier it became to notice everything. Thoughts, emotions, the presence of others even if she couldn’t see them. She’d begun to think of her abilities as a muscle - the more she stretched them and worked them, the stronger they became.
After their lessons, Val would either leave, or they’d fuck and Val would simply stay, curled up against him in his bed. She’d begun to notice Palpatine’s unique morning patterns - he’d get up much, much earlier than Val, meditate, have his tea, and then read the tabloids before heading the Senate Offices. Val would almost always wake during the latter half of his routine, and she’d sometimes feel a need for domestication tug at her heartstrings. For the first time in years, she wasn’t traveling constantly from planet to planet. She’d established a sense of normalcy with Palpatine that she hadn’t gotten in ages.
She was either truly falling in love with Palpatine, or she’d been so starved for a normal romantic relationship that she was convincing herself of love. Val didn’t know which one it was.
Attention starved. That’s what you are.
Attention starved and...envious.
Anakin frequented her apartment, and Val certainly couldn’t complain - Anakin was her friend, and she found that she enjoyed his company more than most. For him, it was a relief - he could talk about Padme, and about his marriage, openly and honestly. He didn’t have to hide. Val could see the twinkle in his eyes and the adoration in his tone when he talked about his wife, and sometimes Val found herself wishing, hoping that Palpatine would talk the same way about her if he were able to.
It was a one-way conversation. While Val was happy that Anakin had someone to be open with, she, on numerous occasions, considered returning that openness. Anakin was the only one she truly believed wouldn’t be appalled by her relationship with the Chancellor, or taken aback by her force sensitivity. Yet, part of her was still afraid. Still hesitant. Her thoughts drifted to Palpatine, and what he would think - it didn't seem fair to disclose such information without his knowledge. They were lovers, yes, but they were also partners in the force, master and apprentice. Anakin would inevitably begin to question.
She’d play it safe, for now.
Val almost considered asking Palpatine if she could somehow put her abilities to use to aid the Republic. The thought came after Val, while taking a small case on the far side of Coruscant, got word of the attack - she could see the Separatist ships hovering high in the atmosphere, and she hadn’t realized that the Legislative District was under attack and Palpatine, captured, until she’d been practicing her scrying and had tried to locate him. She’d caught sight of Kenobi and Anakin engaged in a fierce battle with an older man wielding a red lightsaber, and she’d immediately yanked herself from his brain and taken a one-way trip back to the Legislative District, mildly panicked.
She’d found Obi-Wan meandering near the monorail station, just outside the Jedi Temple. She smacked his chest playfully and he held his hands up in alarm.
“Well that’s some greeting!”
“I was worried . I saw the ships and heard about the Chancellor’s capture-”
“We brought him back, safe and sound,” Obi-Wan said soothingly. “Everything went smoothly.”
“What about the destroyed ship I saw hurtling towards the landing strips?”
Obi-Wan cringed. “We, uh...it was a shaky reentry. Nothing to worry about.”
“ Right ,” Val’s lips twisted into a smile. “Is Anakin okay?”
“As chipper as every. Honestly , Val, you shouldn’t worry. Saving people and battling Sith adversaries is what we’re trained to do.”
“I know. I just...after what happened with Nes, I…”
“Nes was anomaly. We did what was necessary, and unfortunately, we couldn’t apprehend Nes like we’d intended to,” Obi-Wan had recounted the tale to Val. Nes had been one step ahead, and he’d very nearly managed to take Anakin’s life. “I don’t regret what I did. Protecting Anakin was my priority.”
“You’re a good man, Kenobi.”
“I strive to be better every day.”
“As a true Jedi would,” Val ducked her head. “I’m glad you’re home safe.”
She could have sworn that Obi-Wan blushed, but he was quick to conceal it and turn away when Mace Windu beckoned him over. Val reached out and squeezed his shoulder, walking past him and heading towards the Senate Offices.
Palpatine didn’t seem to be harmed - in fact, it appeared as if his capture did nothing to reduce his stamina. Other than his disheveled appearance and flushed cheeks, he looked as lively as ever. He greeted Val with a warm smile and a light sigh. After dismissing Sate Pestage, the Red Guard, and ensuring that the door was locked, he pounced.
Nothing mattered. Only he mattered, and Val immediately felt heat rush from her brain down between her legs. She was incredibly grateful that the walls of his office were thick, and that nobody could hear her moans and whimpers and cries.
He took her on his desk, and then again, on the rich red carpet of his office floor. Val came with a strangled cry against him, her fingers curling into the rich fabric of his robes. Moments later, he followed, slumping against her, spent. They lay for a while, Palpatine's smooth fingers tracing patterns against Val's neck.
“I missed you,” Val gave him a long, lazy kiss that took her breath away. She let her forehead sit against his shoulder, her arms wrapped around his neck. “I...I should have been here-”
“I’m glad you weren’t,” Palpatine murmured. “I couldn’t bare to possibly see your life in jeopardy. Skywalker and Kenobi did a fine job of rescuing me. Anakin successfully defeated Count Dooku.”
“Dooku? Doesn’t he lead the Separatist army?”
“Not anymore,” Palpatine grinned. “General Grievous is in command now - the Jedi Council have ensured that they will act swiftly. If Grievous is destroyed, this war will end.”
“Let’s hope it does.”
Palpatine and Val rose to their feet, adjusting their clothing - Val made sure that her belt was in place and her shirt smooth, and Palpatine fixed his rucked-up robes.
“I just wish…” Val said after a while, “I wish I could help you. I wish I could contribute. I’m force-sensitive, and even if I’m not a Jedi-”
“You’ve kept your abilities hidden for good reason. If they had their way, the Jedi would keep you away from me at all costs,” Palpatine cut Val off, though his tone was gentle. “You are of use to the Republic as an investigator."
"You are training me for a reason. It's all fruitless if I can't utilize them in some way."
"What use are your abilities if the Jedi suppress them, which they inevitably would?" Palpatine raised his eyebrows. "You are still considered an outsider, Val. There is a reason our meetings are held in secret."
"I know. I'm asking you to let me help secretly. Nobody has to know," Val explained.
"Why are you so insistent to involve yourself in my political affairs? You find politics deplorable-"
"You were abducted today, and force knows what those Separatists were planning on doing to you," Val blurted. Palpatine fell silent, his eyes narrowing as Val stood before him, her hands trembling like a frightened child. "I saw it. I scryed you - you must have felt me - and I saw it. I saw Anakin and Obi-Wan in danger. I saw you in danger. I was helpless, stuck on the ground."
Pity flashed across Palpatine's face. His hand came up to gently cup Val's face. It was a gesture he usually reserved for their private nighttime meetings, or while they were in bed. His touch meant comfort to Val. He said, "Rest assured, I was in no danger. There is no use fretting over what you could or should have done. The Jedi delivered me to you, unharmed, and I am here now. Everything went according to plan, as it will in the future."
“It sure as kriff doesn't feel that way,” Val snorted. “It feels like there’s no plan.”
“Oh, there is a plan.”
“How do you know?”
“I can feel it in the force. You will feel it, too, when the time is right,” Palpatine said softly. He reached out and held Val’s hands. “I just need you to trust me.”
“I trust you.”
“ Good .”
“Padme is pregnant.”
Val looked up. Anakin hadn’t taken a sip of the tea she’d prepared for him, and he was obviously in shock - his eyes were focused on the kitchen table and he’d spoken rather robotically.
Val set down her datapad immediately and reached out, clutching one of Anakin’s strong hands. “Oh, Ani - that’s wonderful! Congratulations!”
A smile broke out across his stoic face. She could tell that he was happy, but just a bit conflicted. Val completely understood why.
“I’m happy. I’m so, so happy,” Anakin said. “I just...I’m going to be a father .”
“ Yeah . Padme is a senator - she won’t be able to hide her pregnancy from the public. People will begin to question.”
“She can hide it beneath all those robes she wears. The Naboo like to wear layers. Trust me, I know .”
Anakin raised his eyebrows, and Val instantly realized her mistake.
“So...I was right -”
“Not a word about this, Anakin,” Val raised her finger pointedly. “I swear - stop laughing !”
“Why are you always so terrible at keeping secrets from me specifically ?”
“You’re like a brother to me, that’s why,” Val snapped. “Look, The Chancellor - Palpatine - he and I...I don’t know what it is, but it isn’t what you and Padme have.”
“We both have a taste for politicians, it seems.”
“Yeah,” Val rolled her eyes. She debated picking up her datapad and distracting herself, but she remembered the initial conversation. “Look, you’re worried about you and Padme? Don’t be. If all else fails, I’d be happy to help you out if she isn’t able to make many public appearances.”
“You and Padme kind of look the same….” Anakin hummed.
“Oh kriff no! Also, we do not look the same. She’s prettier,” Val huffed. “I’d be outed from a mile away and then it would be all over the Holonet.”
“Just a suggestion.”
“I don’t sound like her, either. Could you imagine me speaking to the Senate?”
“Absolutely not. You despise politics, don’t you?”
“Yeah. So do you. Yet we’re both screwing politicians. Funny how that works.”
Anakin chuckled. He finally took a sip of his tea, a signal that he’d finally relaxed. His metal fingers began drawing circles against the cup, and he said, “You’re right about the Naboo wearing a lot of layers…”
“Right! It takes me forever to get Palpatine undressed when we-”
“I don’t want to know!”
“You are out of focus today. Tell me what troubles you.”
Val jumped as Palpatine’s soft voice flooded her ears. She opened her eyes, letting out a breath of air. She was sitting cross-legged on the center of Palpatine’s bed, meditating and attempting to expand her scrying distance, while he went about reading in the corner.
He’d come to know her well.
“I’m out of focus because…”
No. You can’t say a word about him.
“I’m just out of focus. I can’t be on all the time.”
Palpatine looked as if he wanted to say something, but thought better of it. Instead, he placed his book down and rose, taking a seat next to Val. She uncrossed her legs and faced him, unsure of what to say next.
So, she just spoke.
“Have you ever wanted children?”
Palpatine chuckled. “Dear, I am far too old and far too busy to be fathering any children,” he paused, his brows furrowing. Quickly, he asked, “You are not...with child, are you-”
“No. Kriff no, I’m not pregnant,” Val snorted. “I’d make a dreadful mother. I was just...inquiring. I like to poke and prod your mind sometimes, see what’s floating in there,” Val reached out and grazed her fingertips across his cheek.
“You poke and prod at the expense of your meditation,” Palpatine clasped her wrist. Val went rigid, holding still as he slowly leaned forward and brushed her hand against his lips. “However, If you need something else to occupy you…”
“Tonight ,” Val giggled like a lovestruck fool. She briefly considered that her former self, the self that had arrived to Coruscant hardened yet naive, would be disgusted with the way she’d become so infatuated with this brilliant, brilliant man. “We have dinner, and then I bring you back here, we drink blossom wine, and I... seduce you.”
“I’ll indulge. I want nothing but the best for the woman I cherish so dearly,” Palpatine murmured. “Let’s consider it a celebration. You have improved drastically over the past few months. Soon, you could be as skilled as Kenobi or Skywalker.”
“I can’t wield a lightsaber to save my life, so they win by default,” Val ducked her head.
“Lightsabers are rather primitive, wouldn’t you say?” Palpatine said. “The force is all one should need to defeat an enemy.”
“They do look pretty cool.”
“Much too flashy,” Palpatine mused. Val chuckled, and he shrugged, adding, “The Jedi are all about flair, however.”
“The more you talk, the more I’m starting to realize how wrong the Jedi Order would be for someone like you,” Val flopped back they sat in silence for a bit, before Val murmured, “You know, if we did have a child... it would be powerful.”
“Indeed, he or she would be quit the prodigy."
“Would that be a blessing or a curse, though? The force isn't what it's made out to be, sometimes," Val snorted. “My parents never knew about my abilities. I hid them. There isn’t a force-sensitive member of my family, so they had no reason to have me tested.”
“Perhaps it was for the best. You could have ended up a Jedi, something I know you’re vehemently opposed to as it is,” Palpatine said smoothly. “Things occur for a reason.”
“Something stronger,” Palpatine gave a wicked smile. He stroked the top of Val’s head, his face softening. “How I wish we could unlock the secrets of the force. Together .”
“That’s what we’re trying to do, right?” Val sat up. Palpatine seemed hesitant, and Val let her palm rest against his cheek. “If you’re saying that the force brought us together for a reason, maybe it’s because...there’s something bigger than us? Bigger than the Republic, even. Maybe .”
“I want you to promise me something, Val?”
“Yes,” Val replied immediately. She didn’t think, didn’t assume or wonder. She answered with pitch perfect clarity, because in her mind, the answer was already there.
“You must have faith in me. Know that what I do is for you, always,” Palpatine reached up to squeeze her hand.
“Will you have faith in me, then?”
Val leaned forward and kissed him, sweetly and softly and tenderly. She felt something flicker behind her closed eyes, barely noticeable, but sinister, nonetheless.
She ignored it.
Val returned to her investigation, spending most of her days in Coruscant’s underbelly. She preferred the upper levels to the packed, bustling underground, but a job was a job - she was making leads, and the more powerful her scrying became, the easier it was to seek out proper targets. She could stay in a mind longer, and, sometimes, jump back and forth from one mind to another without having to take a break.
Palpatine seemed please, though their meetings became less frequent - twice a week, now, and Val was beginning to miss their constant contact. She craved him, and she knew he craved her - he made sure to reinforce that each time they met in his apartment, and having to leave the next morning was becoming harder and harder.
Lovers seemed like an appropriate term, Val decided. She could say with confidence that she had the potential to truly love him.
“I’m heading to Utapau tomorrow,” Obi-Wan’s hologram flickered. Val was crouched in an alleyway in some seedy part of Coruscant, having peeled away from the throng of pedestrians to speak with Obi-Wan. “We’ve located General Grievous. Hopefully the next time we speak, the war will be over.”
“I hope that ends up being the case,” Val said softly. “Be safe, Obi-Wan. Come home to me.”
He’ll be okay.
Val had to reassure herself over and over as she closed the holocall and opened up her notes. Her main focus was on the smuggling ring that lurked beneath the upper monorails - stolen goods were being distributed from restaurants, and the Coruscant Police had little evidence to properly convict. The case was easy - she’d already scryed the owners of each suspected restaurant and had found them guilty. Now it was a matter of finding physical evidence.
Sometimes, she wished her force ability could count on its own. The Coruscant Police, much like the Senate Guards, were always at odds with the force. They didn’t trust it.
That frustrated Val, and she imagined it frustrated Palpatine.
It wasn’t until the next day that she received a frantic call from Anakin.
“You need to sever all contact with Chancellor Palpatine, immediately.”
Val sat up, swinging her legs over the edge of her bed. Her eyes instinctively travelled to her window - she could see the Senate Offices from here. Anakin’s hologram flickered, and she took a second to compose herself.
“ Why? ”
“He’s been manipulating you,” Anakin looked around, though Val wasn’t able to see what had caught his attention for those brief moments. “ He is a Sith !”
“Am I supposed to know what a Sith is?”
“There's not enough time to explain. I’m telling you, Val - stay away from him! Master Windu is heading to arrest him as we speak-”
Val didn’t wait for him to finish. She shut off the holocall.
Val was armed with her blaster, the weapon tucked beneath her tunic, when she entered the Senate Offices. The guards paid her no mind as she headed to Palpatine’s office, her limbs shaking, her mind frenzied to the point of hysteria - seeing Palpatine would make things better.
It had too.
Sate Pestage and Mas Amedda weren’t present around Palpatine’s office. In fact, nobody was present around Palpatine’s office, and she could hear the shattering of glass and shouts as she approached, pressing herself into a corner. She peeked down the short hallway, and saw several unmoving, crumpled figures.
She couldn’t make out their faces, but they were definitely people. Frantically, she fumbled with her communicator.
“Requesting a medical droid to the Chancellor’s office, as soon as possible. There are several injured,” Val hissed. Glass shattered once more, and then somebody screamed.
Then, silence. Val remained, still as a corpse, until she heard a ragged voice begin speaking. She chose that moment to be brave, to do the right thing, and move .
She put away her communicator and pulled out her blaster. She tiptoed down the hall and emerged into Palpatine’s office, the space so familiar yet now so unfamiliar. A couch was overturned, and the massive window overlooking Coruscant had been shattered. Bodies littered the area near the entrance.
All Val saw next was Anakin’s horrified face and the face a creature dressed in Palpatine’s robes.
Val wanted to vomit.
Instead, she raised her blaster and pointed it at the creature responsible for the carnage. While Anakin was kneeling, the yellow-eyed thing was standing.
“Val?” Anakin breathed. He looked even more horrified than before, as if Val had caught him engaging in some immoral act. He stood, and Val turned her attention back to Palpatine.
That’s not Palpatine! It’s not! It’s-
“I was waiting for you,” Palpatine drawled. Even his voice sounded different. Distorted and ragged, like his vocal cords were struggling to produce sound. “ Val - my sweet girl - come here.”
He extended his arms and beckoned. Val wearily approached, lowering her blaster but still keeping a firm grip on the handle. Anakin remained silent - he did not warn her or say a word.
Palpatine’s embrace should have felt familiar, but it didn’t. Val let a trembling hand rest against his chest as he pulled her close. The soft touch of his lips against her temple was meant to feel intimate, but it didn’t.
“I need you."
Val shoved him away. She stumbled back, ashamed at how easily he’d wooed her into his arms. She raised her blaster once more, this time at Anakin - hurt flashed across his face, Ani’s face, the man she’d come to regard as her brother -
“Tell me the truth . What the hell is going on-”
“Padme’s life is in jeopardy, Val. I had to do this!” Anakin pleaded. “He can teach me the ways of the force and I can save her. Maybe he can teach you, too, if you just ask-”
“He’s been teaching me, and I know the ways of the kriffing force, Anakin,” Val snarled. “What I want to know is why there are three dead Jedi over by the door, and why you...why do you look like that, Palpatine. What happened to you?”
“I was attacked by traitorous Jedi. I was scarred ,” Palpatine said. “I gained an apprentice today, and now, I wish to gain a...companion to help lead the empire that I build-”
“The Senate won’t approve of this.”
“Oh, they will,” Palpatine chuckled. “I will lead the galaxy into a new age of prosperity, Val, and I want you by my side.”
This time, he was walking forward. Val raised her blaster. She was going to shoot. She would shoot. She had to shoot -
Palpatine placed his hand over the muzzle of the blaster and forced it towards the ground. His free hand came up to cup Val’s face. She struggled, but held her with an iron grip. When she fell still, he murmured, “I did not lie to you. The galaxy can be ours. Together. Those who deserve to be punished will be punished-”
“I don’t want to punish-”
“You want to kill. You are a killer .”
“The galaxy has enough killers ,” Val tearful looked over at Anakin. “It has enough death. I can’t. I don’t want to rule the galaxy, I just want you to let me love you. I love you -”
Val was hysterical, now. Her shaking hands touched the rough skin on his marred face. She longed to stare into blue eyes, not yellow ones, but she knew that would never happen. This was him. It had probably always been him, but she couldn't bring herself to face the fact that her lover was gone, his appearance some grand farce.
At Val’s confession, something snapped inside of him. She heard Anakin give a loud gasp, and she barely registered the feeling of something piercing her skin and driving deep into her gut. It was a dull, blunt feeling, like the air had been sucked from her lungs and she couldn’t breath - she couldn’t -
Anakin made a move forward, but Palpatine raised a hand.
“It is her life, or Padme’s life. Remember that. Those who cannot further our cause, we must be rid of them,” Palpatine released Val, and she fell against his desk, banging her head against the edge. The ceremonial knife was long and jagged and was buried to the hilt in her stomach.
“I opened myself up to you,” Palpatine leaned down, his breathing ragged. His expression was that of hurt , and Val wanted to believe that it was genuine. His lips twisted into a hideous scowl as he snarled, “I shared with you...so much of myself, and I graced you with knowledge of the force. You are... ungrateful .”
Val coughed. Blood trickled from her nose, and she scooted back and used Palpatine’s desk for support.
“Anakin, help me.”
He just stood there. The noble Jedi and the man Val considered family, just stood there.
Maybe it was the force giving her one last burst of energy, but Val took the risk and bolted. She shouldered her way past Anakin, and she heard him ignite his lightsaber, and as she ran, she fully expected to feel the hot streak against her back -
“Let her go, my apprentice.”
Val would live to see another day.
Struggling to stem the trickle of blood from her wound, Val collapsed against the wall - the halls were unusually empty, not a Senator or staffer in sight - just droids that were programmed to ignore everything unless given a specific command.
She hadn’t pulled out the knife, and she didn’t intend to - she didn’t know what had been punctured, and pulling the object out would allow blood to flow freely. She needed a distraction, something -
Val heard footsteps, and she began struggling to pull herself away. She was prepared to run if she had to, and she very nearly did when heavy boots stepped by her head.
Miss Semper - oh, no ,” Bail Organa crouched, easing her back into a sitting position. “You need medical assistance - she needs medical assistance! Miss Semper, can you hear me? Miss Semper -!”
1) Well...Val found out the hard way, unfortunately. I hope I did all right with this. I was trying to work around what would happen, how Val would find out his true nature, and I felt it appropriate that she would go to him the moment she heard that he was going to be arrested. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed! It only gets WAY more fucked up from here.
Val awoke to Obi-Wan, his soft eyes peering into her own. She tried to sit up but found doing so difficult, and disorienting. Everything was so white, so pristine, and when she glanced out the small window in the corner, she saw nothing but blackness and the twinkling of far-away stars
“I’m sorry, Obi-Wan,” Val suddenly blurted. She had to get it off her chest. She had to tell him the truth.
Whatever had been injected into her system wouldn’t allow that.
“There’s nothing to be sorry about-”
“I should have known better...Anakin...something is wrong with him. Something happened,” Val sobbed, turning her head from side to side as if she were trying to physically shake the thoughts from her mind. “J-Jedi are dead...I’m so sorry. I should have known better. I just wanted him to love me.”
“Delirious, she is,” Yoda’s voice floated from somewhere within the room. Val couldn’t see the little green Jedi, but she could sense him in her mind. “Leave her to rest, we should.”
“Where am I? What happened?” Val successfully sat up. Obi-Wan rose, steadying her. “Why are we...where’s…”
“We are aboard Senator Organa’s diplomatic cruiser. Your wounds are being treated - who inflicted them?”
“Palpatine,” Val said. “He is...Anakin said he’s Sith…”
Val cursed the medication for making her sound like a drunk.
Obi-Wan looked perturbed. Finally, after stepping onto a small hololift, Yoda hovered into view next to the bed.
“Act, we must.”
“Everything was on fire. The temple...it was all gone,” Val croaked. She felt Obi-Wan’s hand gently stroke her hair. “Don’t go. Stay here-”
“We will return,” Obi-Wan said softly. “You are not at your full strength right now.”
“Instruct Organa to send her to Polis Massa, I will. Safe there, she will be.”
Obi-Wan seemed reluctant to leave Val’s side, but he nodded and pulled away. Despite her injuries, Val felt rejuvenated just by his presence.
“Bring Anakin home, Obi-Wan,” Val begged. “Please. Please .”
“I will. I promise.”
For some reason, Val didn’t believe him.
Val’s pain would numb.
The base on Polis Massa was clean and pristine and utterly insufferable. It wasn’t her Coruscant apartment. It wasn’t Palpatine’s warm, inviting bed. It wasn’t home .
She was fed. Bathed. Her wounds were cleaned and dressed and she was given an assessment, medical droids monitoring her health to make sure the wound didn’t get infected and her body didn’t reject the chemicals injected into her system. She was allowed to walk around freely, and she explored the small asteroid base to pass the time.
Yoda and Bail returned before Obi-Wan. Val could only nod at the Jedi master, and sigh when Bail gently and briefly touched her shoulder in a silent act of comfort.
She just wanted Obi-Wan.
He did return, several hours later, with a limp Padme in his arms. Val rushed to assist, helping him carry the small woman to the medical ward. She was pale, panting, her belly enlarged. It took Val a second to remember what Anakin had told her.
“Obi-Wan, where’s Ani?”
Obi-Wan just looked at Val and shook his head.
“I lied to you. I lied to Anakin and so many other people.”
Obi-Wan did not look up at her. His eyes were red-rimmed, his boot methodically tapping against the floor. He was chewing the nail of his pointer finger, the habit unusual for him.
He was distressed.
“I should have told you the truth,” Val continued. “I felt like I had to hide.”
“Understandable,” Obi-Wan replied hoarsely.
Val sank into her chair. Yoda and Bail were in another room. Padme’s body was being wrapped and prepared for transport to Naboo.
The twins, the little boy and the little girl that looked so much like Anakin that it hurt , were asleep.
Val’s entire universe had been ripped open and then shattered into a million pieces.
“I should have known. I should have done something - I feel like such an idiot,” Val furiously wiped away her tears and turned away. She didn’t want Obi-Wan to see her cry. She felt his hand on her shoulder, and then around her waist as he tentatively turned her back around.
“You could not have foreseen this, even with your abilities. There is nothing you could have done. The Chancellor was too powerful and too smart-”
“My job is finding the truth . I should have found the truth. I should have seen it-”
“You had no prior knowledge of the Sith, Val. You are not a Jedi! If anything, I failed you by not keeping you safe from him.”
Obi-Wan let his forehead rest against Val’s own. Her fingers clutched his charred robes.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t bring him home.”
“You tried,” Val murmured. “That’s all that matters. That’s all any of us can ask of each other.”
While Anakin’s betrayal was like a knife to her heart, Val knew that a part of Obi-Wan had died back on Mustafar. All Val could do was hold him. It’s all she wanted to do, but she knew she couldn’t just stand her with her face buried in Obi-Wan’s neck. Her tears had to become tears of rage .
Val had to kill.
She pulled away.
“News of Padme’s death has already reached Naboo,” Bail Organa entered the room. If he was startled by catching Obi-Wan with his arms around Val’s waist, he didn’t show it. Yoda hobbled in behind him, ears twitching as he immediately focused his gaze on Val. “Her funeral will be held tomorrow.”
“Depart shortly, we will,” Yoda said. His voice sounded strained and exhausted. “To Naboo, will you accompany us?”
It was a question, directed at Val. She stepped away from Obi-Wan, her body suddenly cool again - he was so warm - and stared down at the small Jedi. She had a feeling that he already knew the answer, and Val said, “I’m...no. I can’t.”
Obi-Wan and Bail seemed surprised. Obi-Wan raised his eyebrows and asked, “Are you going to stay here, on Polis Massa?”
“No. I’m going back to Coruscant-”
“There is no need for that,” Bail said. “I can arrange for transport to Alderaan, where you will be safe. You are welcome to stay with my wife and I.”
The thought of returning to Alderaan made her sick, but Val would never say that.
“We each have jobs to do,” Val looked from Yoda, to Bail, and finally, to Obi-Wan. He looked as if he wanted to interrupt, but he was listening. “We each have different paths to follow. You have to find the surviving Jedi and protect Padme’s children. I have to go back to Coruscant and fight this . Serving the Republic and bringing justice is my job. I’m not going to stop now.”
Bail nodded. Obi-Wan seemed reluctant. Yoda’s ears were perked up, his expression solemn.
“I suppose this is the last time we’ll see each other, then,” Obi-Wan’s voice cracked, and he looked on the verge of a breakdown. “I lose Anakin, and then Padme, and then you-”
“You will never lose me. I promise.”
Obi-Wan composed himself while Bail and Val shook hands. The Aldeeranian Senator said softly, “My home is always open to you.”
“Thank you, Senator.”
Bail Organa excused himself, leaving Yoda. The small Jedi hobbled forward, bowing to Val.
“Safe travels, Val Semper.”
Then he followed Bail out the door.
Obi-Wan and Val were left alone, once again. Both were struggling with what to say, how to say their goodbyes. Obi-Wan’s fingers twitched, and his eyes travelled out the window and across the vast expanse of rocky asteroid.
“We will make sure there’s a ship ready for your trip back to Coruscant.”
“Obi-Wan, look at me,” Val smiled. After a moment, he tore his eyes away from the window. “ Thank you. For everything. You’ve done so much for me. I found a home with you and Anakin. I’ve never felt that before.”
“Come with me to Naboo. We can figure out what to do after Padme’s funeral. The two of us, together-”
“You know I can’t do that. I can’t run,” Val grasped his rough, calloused hands. “I can’t-”
He was kissing her, suddenly, and Val nearly burst into tears. It felt so good and so perfect. Val gripped his tunic and his hands gripped her hair as if it were a lifeline.
When he pulled away, his cheeks were red and his hair disheveled. He looked more alive than Val had ever seen him.
“Go, and may the force be with you, Val.”