"Master Windu, I must thank you again," says Chancellor Palpatine as they wait in an empty utility corridor leading to the space docks, "I'm aware that your intervention threatens the neutrality of the Jedi Order in all this. We are truly in your debt."
"To offer peaceful sanctuary is never a violation of our Order's neutrality," Mace assures him, "and I guard you of my own free will."
"And we are most grateful for the sanctuary you will provide to Her Majesty," smiles Palpatine, "The safest spot in the galaxy. But tell me, when Padme Amidala made her request, did she happen to mention why she needed it?"
Windu raises an eyebrow. "You believe the attacks against her are insufficient justification for sanctuary?"
"No no no," Palpatine rushes to clarify, "It's just very unlike her, you see, running to hide. It's never really been her style, especially not since...well, not since I became Chancellor."
"And she has not told you this herself?"
"She does have secrets she keeps even from those closest to her," the Chancellor confides, "I think it might be, you know, woman troubles, if I may avoid being crude about it."
"You may," says Mace Windu.
A nearby hatch clanks open, and from it emerges Anakin and Padme in their disguises, followed by Obi-Wan and a tall cloaked and hooded figure with a great fat stomach.
"Master Kenobi, who is this?" Windu asks, pointing to the stranger.
From beneath the cloak comes the muffled voice of Threepio.
"See, I told you this would never work. We'll be noticed for sure!"
The belly beeps like Artoo.
"Be quiet--both of you!" says Anakin. "Master Windu, they'll be fine. We just have to get them to the starfreighter and I'll deactivate them both once we're on board, okay?"
"That really would make me feel better about all this," says Threepio.
"Just be careful," says Master Windu, "As soon as you go out these doors, you'll be on your own until you reach Adari. A Knight from the Academy will meet you there to escort you to Dantooine. We'll keep your absence quiet as long as we can."
"They'll be safe with me," Anakin insists.
"Don't do anything foolish," Obi-Wan says to Anakin, "I expect you to make full use of this opportunity. I'll be dropping by to check on your progress once the summit has ended."
"Goodbye, Your Majesty, and good luck," says Palpatine.
"Take good care of Jar-Jar for me," Padme replies, "The threat's on you two now."
The doors to the space dock open, and Padme and Anakin make their way out into the crowd.
Their journey on the starfreighter takes a full night. They sit in steerage, a common area without windows, amongst the poorest passengers and overflow cargo. They find an empty bench, and Anakin discreetly moves some crates around with his mind, providing them with a small measure of privacy. He deactivates Threepio and folds him up under the bench to give them some extra room, but he lets Artoo continue running basic security scans while doubling as a coatrack.
"So, what kind of terrain does Dantooine have?" Padme asks when they've settled in.
"Oh, all kinds!" brags Anakin. "Mountains, deserts, jungles, plains, snow, forests...you name it, Dantooine's got it. At least, that's what Master Obi-Wan says."
"That's impossible!" scoffs Padme. "Planets have a terrain. Everyone knows that. It's strange to hear of a planet with two or three climates, let alone every climate!"
"Well, why do you think the Jedi picked it?" smiles Anakin.
Padme giggles, and thus they pass the time talking casually like any other passengers, leaning next to each other, until finally they fall asleep against one another.
Padme wakes with a start to find herself flat on the bench. She hears Anakin curse. She sits up to find him hunched underneath Artoo's chassis, sucking on a bruised thumb, while the other passengers sleep around them.
"Ani, what's wrong?" she whispers.
"Sorry, didn't mean to wake you," he says quietly, climbing back up on the bench next to her. "Artoo's shifter broke. I was just trying to fix it. I'm good at fixing things. It calms me down. Life seems so much simpler when you can just take the parts and put them all together and make something work, you know?"
"I know," she sighs, "but sometimes there are things no one can fix."
He rests his head on her shoulder, lost in his thoughts.
"Why couldn't I save her?" he asks himself as much as he asks Padme.
She knows who he's talking about. "You're not all powerful," she says.
"Well I should be," he says. "Someday I will be. I will be the most powerful...Jedi, ever. I promise you. I will even learn to stop people from dying."
"Ani, don't try to grow up too fast," she says, unaware of the prophecies hanging heavy on his mind.
"But I am grown up. You said so yourself."
He nuzzles deeper into the nape of her neck, burying himself in the comfort of her presence. She laughs unexpectedly, causing him to sit up and stare at her.
"What's so funny?"
"Nothing," she whispers, "I mean, I just realized--the ship's recyclers have just about scrubbed all of the Toydarian atmosphere out of the air. I should be able to read your thoughts any moment now."
Anakin blanches. "Uh...I'd forgotten about that."
Padme smiles mischieviously. "I think as your Queen I have the right to know what you're thinking about me. It's nothing to be embarrassed about. You'd hardly be the first of my subjects to be attracted to me, and I'm curious..."
"No, I mean, I'm not embarrassed about that, I just...please don't..."
Padme touches his mind.
I KILLED THEM
I KILLED THEM ALL
EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM
THEY WERE ANIMALS
AND I SLAUGHTERED THEM LIKE ANIMALS
AND I HATE THEM
The force of Anakin's emotions suck her down like rapids and she can't breathe, she can only stare in horror as she's sees through Anakin's eyes and feels his grip on the lightsaber as it pierces through his stepfather's heart and turns on the wife and children...
"ENOUGH!" bellows Anakin, ejecting her from his mind. The tears well up in his eyes and his face melts into grief. He collapses to the floor, fetal. A sleeping alien stirs at the sound of his exclamation.
"Why do I hate them?" Anakin sobs, "I didn't...I couldn't...I couldn't control myself...I...I don't want to hate them...but I couldn't forgive them..."
"Hush, ssshhh," says Padme, rushing to comfort him in her arms, hugging him and stroking his hair while casting a nervous glance at the other passengers.
"I wish that I could just wish away my feelings," Anakin whimpers, "but I can't."
Padme's mind spins. In her time she has seen every dark secret of every child of Naboo, and she has seen much worse than this, terrible as it is. She's known the violence, lust, greed and jealousy of all her people, from the lowest street thug to her most trusted advisors, and even in the midst of it, she's seen great good. She could have never lived for ten millennia without abiding compassion for even the worst mistakes, and relative to the hidden sins of many powerful men, the murders Anakin has committed seem almost easy to absolve. That they weigh so heavily on his conscience is a testament to his goodness. The brightest lights may shine from the darkest places.
Yet she knows he would find no consolation in any of this, so she just quietly croons, "Shhh....you're only human..."
"No, I'm Jedi," cries Anakin, "I know I'm better than this."
"You were angry. You had every reason to be. And you can't be perfect."
"I HAVE TO BE PERFECT," Anakin hisses through gritted teeth.
"Shhhh!" says one of the other passengers, and Padme gives them a glare that says they should mind their own business.
Anakin weeps. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry..."
Padme cradles him until passes out, and only then does he stop crying.