Summary: The best-laid plans of boys and men...
Notes: Written for a "Daddy!Luke" Challenge in the Luke characterization thread at tf.n. The challenge was:

Write Daddy!Luke trying to handle a sticky (child) situation all by himself. Include the following things:

the word "nightmare"
the phrase "bantha bop"
an exploding toy
a delivery man who interrupts something

The Best Birthday Cake Ever

"Bye, love." Luke kissed his wife tenderly at the door. "Have a great time at the opera with Leia and Iella."

"Yeah, bye, Mommy," Ben added, pushing at Mara's leg.

Mara glanced down at her rambunctious five-year-old son. "Are you sure you two will be-"

"We'll be fine," Luke assured her, guiding her by the elbow into the hallway.

"If I didn't know better, I'd say you were trying to get rid of me."

"That's so's we can-"

"Ben," Luke warned, giving the boy an admonishing look.

Mara's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "What's going on?"

"Nothing, nothing," Luke hurriedly said. "I just promised Ben we could play video games this afternoon."

"Right," Mara said, giving Luke a disbelieving frown.

"Really, Mara." Luke smiled. "I know how you get tired of hearing 'Space Racer' all day. This will give you a chance to relax and listen to nice soothing music."

"Why do you think I need to be soothed?"

Luke fought the impulse to roll his eyes. "Sweetheart, you're going to be late. And you have the tickets. You don't want Leia and Iella standing by the door waiting on you, do you?"

"All right." Mara swept the room with one last look. "This place had better not be a disaster when I come back. I have nightmares about leaving you two alone, you know."

"It won't. I promise."

Luke slumped against the closed door, breathing a sigh of relief when Mara finally disappeared down the hall toward the lift. "Okay, pal. Are you ready to get started?"

"Started what?"

"Making the cake for Mommy." Luke shook his head, holding out his hand for Ben.

"Oh, yeah." Ben grinned mischievously. "I 'membered, Daddy. I was just kiddin'."

Luke and Ben made their way into the spotless kitchen, and Luke began setting out the necessary ingredients and utensils.

"Are we gonna make other stuff to eat, too?" Ben asked, pulling a chair over against the work counter.

"Yes, we'll make a whole dinner," Luke bravely declared, searching through the kitchen's data screen for an appropriate recipe.

"Are Uncle Han and Aunt Leia comin'?" Ben climbed onto the counter where he could see the action better.

"Yes, and Uncle Wedge and Aunt Iella. We're going to have a nice party for Mommy."

"Here?" Ben frowned as he looked out into the apartment.

Luke paused as he opened a container of sweetener. "What's wrong with here?"

"Nothin'." Ben began kicking his chubby legs against the lower cabinet doors. "I was just hopin' we could go to the Happy Castle."

"Oh, Ben, I don't think Mommy wants to spend her birthday at the Happy Castle."

"Uh-huh," Ben protested. "When we went there last time Mommy liked it. She watched you and me play Bantha Bop, and she said it was good for my 'flexes."

"Reflexes," Luke automatically corrected, remembering the game that involved using a padded mallet to whack bantha heads that popped up at random from holes in a gaily-decorated surface. "Yes, I know, but I don't think that's what Mommy wants to do today."

"Well, can we go there on my birthday?" Ben continued.

"Sure," Luke said, comparing the recipe's ingredient list to what he had spread out on the work surface.

"This is gonna be the best birthday cake ever," Ben declared, reaching over on the counter and spinning an egg.

Luke grabbed the whirling egg just before it rolled off the edge. "Hey!"

"But I wanna help," Ben whined, banging a spoon against a cupboard door.

"Well, you can decide what flavor cake we'll make," Luke said, noticing that the recipe was adaptable for different flavors. "What's Mommy's favorite? Chocolate?"

"Hmm, that's your favorite," Ben declared. "And mine."

"How about razzle-berry?"

Ben scrunched up his face in thought. "I guess so."

With a large dollop of berry-bliss cream on top, Luke thought to himself, smiling in anticipation. Maybe Han and Leia could even be persuaded to keep Ben for the night.

Luke carefully measured out the ingredients, wincing as Ben stirred them in the not-quite-large-enough mixing bowl, sending an overflow of flour over the side.

"Careful, sport," Luke cautioned. "You're getting more on the countertop than what is staying in the bowl."

Ben studied the scattering of flour on the surrounding surface. "We can just scoop it up and put it back in."

"No," Luke said, laughing. "We can't- Well, I guess we could." Checking over his shoulder by force of habit, Luke held the bowl under the lip of the counter and used his arm to sweep the errant powder back where it belonged. It would be hard to re-measure, he reasoned, and no one would ever know. Hopefully. "Never tell Mommy about this," he said sternly. "Or anyone else."

"I won't, Daddy," Ben promised solemnly.

Studiously ignoring the white coating on his dark sleeve, Luke finished mixing the batter and poured it into a large round pan. He punched in the correct settings on the baking unit, then looked at Ben and smiled.

"While we're waiting for the baker to heat up, I've got something to show you," he said. "But this is another thing you can't tell Mommy about."

"Don't worry, Daddy. I'm good at keepin' secrets."

"All right, I'll be right back." Luke hustled off to his study, stopping on his way back to don a clean, short-sleeved shirt. He belatedly realized that leaving Ben alone in the kitchen probably wasn't a good idea, but his fears were quieted when he returned to find Ben still sitting on the kitchen counter and everything in order. Or at least in as good an order as he'd left it.

"Look at this." Luke proudly opened the small jewelry box he held, admiring the delicate ring within as it sparkled under the room's lights. "Do you think Mommy will like it?"

"Yeah!" Ben eagerly reached forward. "I wanna hold it!"

"Careful now." Luke placed the treasure into Ben's small hand. He'd spent a week agonizing over what to get for Mara, and had finally decided that the emerald gemstone was the perfect gift. A beep from the baker reminded him that the unit was now hot enough, and he slid the pan inside. He looked up to find Ben reaching into the drain of the kitchen sink, and his heart skipped a beat.

"Ben, what are you doing?" Luke glanced at the still-empty ring box sitting on the counter. "Don't tell me…"

"I was gonna wash it, and it fell down," Ben tried to explain, his face straining as he wedged his arm further down the drain. "I think I can reach it."

Luke was already having a really bad feeling about this. "Ben, pull your arm out. I'll get the ring."

"I can do it, Daddy." Ben's arm had already disappeared to a spot above his elbow.

Who in their right mind made drain holes this big, anyway. Luke reached over and tugged on his son's arm. "C'mon, Ben. Pull your arm out."

"But I-"

"Now, Ben."

Ben reluctantly tried to reverse his arm's motion, grunting with the effort. "I can't!" His face began to contort in panic. "I'm stuck, Daddy!"

"Calm down." Luke looked around the kitchen, spying a bottle of soap, and began pouring the liquid around Ben's arm. "Now, relax, and pull slowly."

"It won't come!" Ben wailed. "And it hurts!"

"Okay, stop pulling a minute and let me think." Luke could tell Ben's elbow was the culprit. He opened the door below the sink, studying the drain to see how best to take the pipe apart and free Ben. Not to mention getting the expensive ring back. Rummaging through a drawer of tools, he began working on the drainpipe, biting back a Tatooine curse as dirty water began spraying him as he loosened the pipe. His vexation increased when the front door bell began to chime, and he reached out with the Force to determine who was there, frowning when he didn't recognize the visitor.

"Hold on, Ben. I have to get the door." Luke patted his son encouragingly, then headed to the front room.

"Hurry, Daddy!" Luke could hear Ben's plaintive cry behind him as he opened the door and found a delivery man pushing a cart laden with warming containers.

"Luke Skywalker?" the man asked, looking over Luke's shoulder at the sounds of yelping coming from inside the apartment. "I … uh … need you to sign here." He shoved a datapad at Luke.

"What's this? I didn't order anything." Luke leaned over to read the labels on the boxes, wondering why Galactic Caterers was bringing him what appeared to be a ten-course meal.

The man pulled the datapad back and checked the readout. "The name on the order is Organa-Solo," he stated, looking up again as screams of "Daddy!" echoed through the room.

Leia! Luke groaned. She must have had little faith in Luke's ability to pull off a meal for the evening's party. "Bring it in here," he instructed the man, wiping his greasy hands on his wet shirt and heading for the kitchen.

The delivery man's eyes widened at the sight of a squirming red-headed boy with an arm down the kitchen sink, and water spraying out of the pipes underneath. Luke started to explain their current predicament when a popping noise sounded from the baking unit. He hurried to open the baker's door, jumping back when hot batter-covered balls shot out into the kitchen. "What in blazes!"

Ben screamed, and Luke stepped in front of the sink to shield him as he slammed the unit's door shut with the Force. Ignoring the cowering stranger who'd darted out of firing range and the continued explosions in the baker, Luke turned an accusatory glare on his guilty-looking son. "What did you do?" he ground out slowly.

"I wanted Mommy to have a surprise in her cake," Ben moaned. Luke poked at one of the sticky balls on the floor. Balls that were beginning to look familiar. "I put some of my explodo-pops in the cake stuff."

"You mean those things Uncle Wes gave you!" Luke cursed himself for not disposing of the annoying toys as soon as he saw them. The small spheres would pop open when held for a few minutes in the warmth of one's hand. The high heat in the baking unit apparently produced a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions.

"I'm sorry, Daddy," Ben sniffed, wiping at tears with his one free hand. He looked so pathetic that Luke couldn't stay upset.

"Uh, sir?"

Luke turned around, having forgotten about the delivery man.

"I'm pretty handy with plumbing, if you could use a hand there."

"I'd appreciate it," Luke accepted with gratitude. He nodded toward the stack of meal units still sitting near the kitchen's entrance. "I don't suppose there's a cake in one of those?"

"I wouldn't be surprised," the man said with a grin.

The delivery man got an even bigger tip than a certain waiter did five years earlier.


Yes, you had to have read my "Berry-Bliss Cream" vignette to get the last line.