AN: Yes yes yes, I still don't own Star Wars. This time I've got a sappy fic with absolutely nothing that resembles a plot. Hey, it wanted to be written, and besides I can't write angst all the time. With all the babysitting I do, I get an urge to write about little kids every so-often.
"Stay At Home Dad"
Han was curled up in a ball on the bed he shared with Leia, the blankets haphazardly tossed over his body but nevertheless covering all of him, which was precisely what he wanted. He grinned to himself as he heard the muffled voice of his son calling out "Ready or not, here I come!" with so much excitement that his words seemed to run together.
The patter of Jacen's bare feet grew louder and louder as he ran towards his parents' bedroom, then softer as he passed the door, completely missing his father's hiding place. Han bit his lip, trying to ignore the heat building up under the covers, resisting the urge to peek out for a breath of fresh air. The kids would get onto him if they caught him doing that - they'd complain that he was breaking the sacred rules of hide-and-seek.
"I found you Jaina!" Jacen's voice exclaimed from far away.
The twins were six and Anakin was four. And now Leia was pregnant again. It seemed like every time Han thought his diaper changing days were over, another baby came along. Not that he was complaining, though. A fourth child would fit right in with their crazy family.
"I found you Ani!" Jacen was giggling loudly - apparently Anakin had found a rather funny hiding place. Either that or Jacen was just relishing in finding his siblings.
Han waited, still listening for Jacen's calls of triumph at finding his dad. After a minute or two he found he had to remind himself not to fall asleep, which was getting more and more tempting the longer he stayed here. The kids sure had a way of draining his energy, but if he fell asleep now they'd almost definitely catch him and report that happening to Leia when she got home. The thought of her lecturing him about sleeping on the job again was enough motivation to keep him awake - at least for now.
His son's giggle now came from right outside the blankets. "Hmmm," his little voice said teasingly, "where could Daddy be? Hmmmm." After a moment or two, Jacen's weight came pressing down on Han's hips as he jumped onto the bed. "I found you Daddy!"
Han pulled the blankets off his sweat-drenched head, taking a welcome breath of fresh air. "Yup yup, you found me."
Jacen's giggle grew louder, his grin spreading across his face. Leia often claimed that Jacen had inherited his father's grin, though Han wasn't sure how true that was. Still, Jacen's grin was very cute, especially when emitting his high-pitched laughter.
"TICKLE TIME!" Jaina shouted as she darted into the bedroom and jumped on the bed. Before Han could react, she yanked the covers off his body and began tickling his stomach, making him laugh uproariously.
"No...stop...stop..." he gasped out between chuckles, but all that accomplished was getting Jacen tickling too. "C'mon guys...this...isn't...funny..."
"Are you ticklin? I wanna tickle too!" Anakin's voice exclaimed, after which Han felt six sets of fingers digging into his stomach, forcing him to laugh until his ribs hurt.
"All right...all right...all right..." Han forced himself to say, prying the children's hands off of him. "That's enough, got that?"
"Can I be it now?" Jaina asked, shifting the subject with the ease of the small child she was.
Han groaned. "Aren't you guys tired of hide-and-seek yet?"
"Nope!" the three kids said together, rapidly shaking their heads.
Han sighed, unable to say no after that cute gesture. "All right Jaina, you can be it."
- - - - - - - - - - -
"Daddy, I'm borin," Anakin said soon after the hide-and-seek game finally ended.
Han had to struggle not to laugh at his youngest son's misuse of the word "boring" - he scratched the sofa arm to distract himself. He thought maybe he should make a list of the child's most memorable talking errors before he started using proper speech. "Well what do you wanna do, son?" he asked.
"I dunno," replied Anakin. "I'm borin'. I wanna do someting fun."
A small snicker escaped through Han's nose before he spoke. "Well c'mon, there's lots of stuff you could do. You could watch a holovid, or draw a picture, or play a game with your brother and sister, or have a snack, or..."
Just then Jaina burst into the room, a toy stethoscope around her neck, closely followed by Jacen carrying a toy doctor's bag. "Daddy!" she exclaimed. "You're sick!"
Han groaned, bracing himself for what was coming next. "Or you could play doctor," he finished.
The twins rushed up to the sofa. "Ani, you gotta help us!" Jaina said loudly. "Daddy needs surgery."
"Come on Daddy, you gotta lie down," said Jacen.
Han obeyed, thankful that this would at least mean a little time where he could lie still for once. Those times didn't come often when he was watching the kids - it seemed he was always running after at least one of them, not to mention that they were always pestering him to play games with them. There were times when he thought being a father was even more exhausting than fighting in a battle.
"Oh no!" Anakin wailed with pretend fear. "Daddy's gonna die!"
Jacen poked his father's forehead. "Now Daddy, listen. You're very very sick and we've gotta give you surgery. Are you afraid?"
"Nope," said Han. "Pain doesn't scare me anymore after your grandfather tortured me."
"Well I think you're very very scared," said Jaina. "But don't worry, Daddy. We're gonna give you a shot and then you'll go to sleep, so the surgery won't hurt at all."
Han grinned at his daughter. "But won't the shot hurt?"
Jaina giggled, showing the gap where her recently-lost baby tooth used to be. "It's okay, Daddy. It'll only hurt a tiny bit." She held her finger and her thumb up so that they were almost touching. "Just a tiny bit."
"I'll hold your hand, Daddy," said Jacen, grabbing his father's large hand in both his little ones. "So you won't have to be scared."
"C'mon, we gotta hurry!" Anakin shouted. "Daddy's gonna die soon!"
Han's grin remained even though he was supposed to be dying. "All right, bring it on."
Jaina pulled a toy syringe out of Jacen's doctor bag. "Here's the shot. Ready Daddy?"
"Okay." She pressed the end of the syringe rather uncomfortably far into Han's neck - if the end weren't blunt, she probably would have drawn blood. "You're gonna go to sleep now."
Han closed his eyes, trying not to rub the spot where the toy poked him.
"Do you think he's asleep yet?" Jacen whispered.
Han made a few fake snoring noises to encourage the kids to begin the operation.
"Okay," Jaina said as authoritatively as a six-year-old could. "Jacen, I need the knife so I can cut him open."
Han tensed up even though he knew it was only a toy knife. After a few moments, he felt the toy scraping intrusively across his chest. Even through his shirt, it carried quite a poke.
"Cut, cut, cut," said Jaina. "Okay, now we gotta take out Daddy's heart and operate on it."
"I wanna do da operate!" exclaimed Anakin.
"I got Daddy's heart!" said Jacen, pressing his hand on Han's chest.
While the children "operated" on him, Han's mind began to wander. He wasn't exactly sure how his kids knew what surgery was at this age, but maybe he didn't want to find out. No matter, they got playtime out of it. He smiled slightly - he never would have thought he'd spend his afternoons as the centerpiece of kids' playtime. Even if he did imagine himself having children in the future, he probably would have assumed it would be his wife taking care of them most of the time.
But of course, back then he didn't picture himself married to the President of the Galactic Senate either. He squirmed a bit as Anakin pretended to rub his stomach with bacta, knowing all too well that Leia wished she could be here more often. Had the children ever performed surgery on their mother? He couldn't recall. Maybe they had, or maybe they would someday, but in all likelihood they would be too old for such activities by the time her presidential term ended.
They were going to change. Soon. While these days he spent caring for them sometimes seemed to last forever, he knew that in a few years he'd be longing for them again. Sometimes he chastised himself for counting the hours until Leia got home.
"Okay Daddy," announced Jaina. "You can wake up now."
Han opened his eyes to three faces crowded around him. "Am I better now?"
"Yup!" said Jaina, erupting in giggles.
"Wait, wait," said Jacen, rubbing his father's arm as if examining it. "I think Daddy's sick again!"
Han's teeth ran over his lip. It seemed like little kids were never satisfied doing something only once.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
"Da-ddyyyy?" Jacen said in his perky voice, clinging to his father's leg as he poured himself a glass of water.
"Can we have cookies?"
Han almost choked on his water. "No, Jacen. No."
"Pleeeeeaaaase?" Jacen pleaded, not letting go of his father's leg.
"No," Han repeated.
"Cause you guys will make a mess," Han said firmly. "End of discussion."
"No we won't!"
Before Han could insist that yes, they would make a mess, a loud scraping sound from behind him distracted him from the conversation. He whipped his head around to see Jaina and Anakin pushing chairs up to the counter - undoubtedly so they could "help" their father make cookies.
"Oh no," Han groaned, storming up to his other two kids. "No, no, NO! We are NOT makin' cookies, you got that? Now put those chairs back where you got 'em."
"But Daddy, we'll help you," said Jaina. "You won't have to do it by yourself."
Han knew perfectly well what that meant. They would only help with using cookie cutters and decorating the finished cookies - the fun parts. They'd leave the rest of it to their father - and if they tried helping out for any of that, they'd end up spilling something.
"C'mon Daddy," said Anakin, having already climbed onto one of the chairs. "You can have some too."
Han ground his teeth, trying in vain not to think of how good cookies would taste right now, trying in vain not to become hungry for them. Why was he so tough in battle and such a pushover around his children? That was a mystery that would probably never be solved.
"All right," he finally said with a long sigh. "Let's make cookies."
As he opened the cupboards to get the necessary equipment, Han could have sworn he saw his kids exchange sly looks, as if relishing in the hold they had over their father.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Leia sat in her office, finally getting a rare moment to herself. In less than an hour she would get to go home to her family. Hopefully Han wouldn't be too tired to fix her some supper. Well if he was, she would simply have to use her persuasion skills - he wouldn't be able to resist that.
She wondered what Han and the kids were up to right now, having not gotten around to comming them all day. Usually she contacted her family at least once every day, but today had just been so busy. She gazed out the floor-to-ceiling window at the sunset giving an orange tint to the buildings and the speeders hurrying around them, her eyes wandering until she found her own apartment in the distance. It wasn't too late to com them now...even though she would be coming home soon, there was no harm in talking to them before that.
With that thought she almost instantly pressed in their number on her com. After a few moments Han's hologram appeared, wearing an apron, a half-eaten cookie in his hand. Leia grinned at the sight - back when she first met him, she would have never been able to imagine him like this.
"Hey sweetheart," said Han. "Comin' home soon?"
"Yes," said Leia, eyeing the cookie in her husband's hand. "You made cookies?"
"Blame the kids for that one," Han said with a grin. "They're decoratin' the last batch right now." He winked at his wife. "Don't worry, we're saving some for you."
The baby in Leia's stomach kicked, as if excited to hear its father's voice. "Do they want to talk to me?"
"Hang on, I'll go ask." Han's hologram briefly vanished, soon replaced by Jaina, Jacen, and Anakin, all with wide smiles.
"Hi Mommy!" they said together, giving their cute, quick waves.
Leia waved back. "Hi darlings. It looks like you're having a good time."
"We made cookies!" exclaimed Jaina.
"A whole lot of dem," added Anakin.
"You can have some too," said Jacen.
Leia chuckled. "I look forward to it." She leaned forward to better see her children's smiling faces. "Now you be good for your Daddy. I'll be home very soon."
The children began waving again. "Bye Mommy! Bye!"
After a few moments, Han's hologram appeared again. "Well honey, you'd better get here before all the cookies are gone."
"I'll try," said Leia. "Have they been too hard on you today?"
Han rolled his eyes. "About two hundred rounds of hide-and-seek, a bunch of open-heart surgeries performed on me, not shutting up about cookies until I gave in. The usual."
Leia smirked. "Well I'll try to relieve you of your duties so you can get some rest." She pointed to her large stomach. "But don't forget that I've been carrying one around all day too."
"How could I ever forget that?" said Han. "Well I should probably let you go before the kids spill something else."
Leia gave her husband a large smile. "I'll see you soon, honey."
"Love you, bye."
After she hung up, Leia gazed down at her stomach which housed their fourth child, wishing she had more opportunity to watch the children grow up like Han did. Though he often complained about their behavior, she knew that he wouldn't have it any other way. When she came home and caught them in the middle of playtime, she usually saw absolute happiness in her husband's eyes.
There were many times when she envied him.
Maybe things would be different when their new baby came. Maybe she would be able to better arrange her schedule so she could be with her kids more. She didn't want to miss out on them growing up...even though the galaxy needed her, they needed her most.
She patted her stomach, feeling the baby kick once more, imagining her husband baking cookies with the kids, getting some comfort from the notion that at least her children were left in the best care possible - the care of a former smuggler.