I am SOOO sorry for not updating in so long! Please forgive meee! The story? Well, a friend got me hooked on Sherlock Holmes (directs attention to the Jeremy Brett avatar), and my muse refused to do anything else. So now I have an SH fic going full-steam, if you care to check it out. It's called "A Time to Heal." Now this does mean that, unfortunately, updates here will be slower. Deepest apologies, 'specially since you guys are so great, but I can only write what I have the inspiration to, you know?
On the up side, both this fic and the previous have been archived in a Siriwan C2! *cheers* And thanks to all who've favorited! (Hope I didn't lose anybody on my hiatus!)
As a side-note, the Skywalkers' apartment here is not the one you see in the movies—that one is in the Senatorial Complex, and this one here is in the Republica 500. Check out Wookieepedia, and you find that Padmé has two apartments, one in the Senatorial Complex and the other in Republica 500. I don't know for sure if Padmé also owns the flat below hers in the SC, but her handmaidens and guards have to live somewhere, so for the sake of practicality, I wrote that in here.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you've ever read my profile, you know that I've written a fantasy novel (The Rise of a Legend. Well, I'm editing it one last time, and I've begun blogging about it at www (dot) theriseofalegend (dot) blogspot (dot) com. (Check my profile for better link.) Please check it out, and feel free to comment, or share it with a friend! I need to promote the book—this is my livelihood we're talking about, here.
To my reviewers:
Mastrada101: Thanks! I can't wait to write Anakin deals with Palpatine being Sidious.
milpai000: Thank you! Sorry the update took so long in getting here!
Obi's Mom: Hmm… you never know… *secretive smile* …Ever since watching Father of the Bride Part II for the first time several years ago, friends being pregnant at the same time have haunted my stories. xD
Valairy Scot: Thank you~! I was definitely aiming for the Siriwan scene to be melt-worthy, seriously.
Pearlmaidenredskyla: Oh wow, thanks! *big grin* I thought it would be really adorable if Lúthien told Daddy about the babies. Thanks all around! (We don't watch TV 'round here, nor have we cable. We've got the LotR extended edition DVDs instead!)
ResistanceIsNotFutile: Thanks! Ironic, isn't it?
Jedi Angel001: Thank you! Dooku's interesting, 'cause he's now the wild card in this mess (he could expose the Skywalkers, for example—the RotS novelization tells us that he knew), and even I can't fully predict him.
Historian1912: Oh, a Yoda fan you are? ^^ The driving line is one of my favorites, too. =) Should get in at least one more chapter for this before Christmas, but I can't promise anything on Breakaway, sry.
The Ties That Bind
"…And when all these Wonderful People get together… It's a Wonderful Life."
—theatrical trailer for It's a Wonderful Life
"We're scheduled for dinner with the Skywalkers later." Obi-Wan sounded half-asleep—little wonder, since they were lying in bed with him curled around her.
Siri shifted slightly in her husband's arms. "I figured," she murmured back. Just to lie together like this, even in the middle of the afternoon, was nice. Dex Jettster had found this apartment for them in CoCo Town—small, out of the way, and not too far from his diner for those times when Siri didn't feel like cooking. When Obi-Wan and Siri were both on-planet, they'd rendezvous here and be able to act like a normal husband and wife for a short while, away from the prying eyes of the public, the media, and their own Order.
One warm hand strayed up to play with her hair. "You let your hair grow."
"Mm-hmm." No longer chin-length or even shoulder-length, her hair now reached halfway down her back.
"I like it."
"Mmm." If he kept that up, he'd put her to sleep.
A comfortable silence settled. They were Jedi—they didn't have to speak to communicate. And then there were the times when they just didn't have to communicate at all—all they had to do was simply be there for each other.
At last, Obi-Wan murmured, "Should we tell them?"
Siri realized that she'd been almost asleep. "Mmm?"
"About the baby."
"Oh." She shifted enough so that she could look at him over her shoulder. "I'd like to, yes."
He smiled thoughtfully. "Lúthien will be excited."
She had to smile before she turned back over. "No doubt." Their baby would probably be like a cousin for the little Skywalker girl—not that Lúthien didn't already have her own cousins.
She felt him draw in a deep breath and let it out. "I can think of several possible reactions from Anakin… none of which I really want to deal with."
She chuckled. "I'm sure." Her eyebrows knitted together at a sudden idea. "I wonder what Ferus would've thought." Ferus Olin, Siri's old Padawan, had left the Order after a mistake among himself, Anakin Skywalker, and Tru Veld had cost the life of their fellow apprentice, Darra Thel-Tanis. The departure had hurt Siri, but time closed the wound. Though she missed the boy she'd raised, she moved on with her life. She thought about him sometimes, even mentioned him to her husband—just, never in Anakin's presence. Though Ferus and Anakin would never have admitted it, there had been bad blood between them.
Obi-Wan shifted so that he rested his chin in the hollow of her shoulder. "Did you ever find him?"
Siri smiled slyly, even though he couldn't see it. "I'm the Finder—that's my job." That elicited a chuckle from him, and she grinned. "Yeah, I traced him to a planet called Bellassa. He partnered with a man called Roan Lands to create a sort of law firm—"
"That's our Ferus."
She nodded. "—to protect people from corrupt businesses. Right now, he and Lands are officers in the army, out in the Sieges."
"Have you spoken with him?"
"I have, actually…"
His breath was warm past her cheek. "You still miss him, don't you?"
Sighing, she nodded. His left hand reached for hers and took it, his thumb massaging her palm. They lay there in silence a little while longer, until he broke it again. "Siri?"
And she had almost been asleep, again. She glanced heavenward and said, "Yes?"
"Have you thought of any names yet?"
The sleepy smile came unbidden to her lips. "A few. If it's a boy, I'm leaning toward Myka."
"And if the baby is a girl?"
Her eyes drifted shut. "Mmm… Mara."
"Ace, pleeease let go?"
Anakin didn't get many opportunities to hold his daughter, and he cherished the times that he did. However, her clinging to his leg like a limpet was another kettle of Giju stew altogether.
It didn't help that Padmé's famed diplomacy was failing her—she couldn't hide her laughter.
"How 'bout you go hold on to Mommy?" Anakin wheedled.
Lúthien shook her head so hard that Anakin was sure she would hurt herself. "I ho'd Mama lots mohr dan I ho'd you."
Padmé smiled. "I think our daughter has the makings of a lawyer, darling."
Anakin shot her a glare. "Thanks, Pad."
"Daddy, lif' me up—pleeease?"
Ohhh, those big blue eyes… Anakin could handle taunts, threats, torture, maiming, and near-death experiences… but those big blue eyes—ironically, identical copies of his own—got him every time. He sighed in resignation, bent down, and picked up his daughter. "There. You happy?"
Lúthien nodded enthusiastically—then stopped and cocked her head, as if listening for something.
Father and daughter felt it at the same time. "The Kenobis," Anakin told Padmé.
"Uncle Ben an' Aun' Siri!" Lúthien squealed at the same time, slipping down from her father's arms and hurrying to the turbolift door as quickly as her short legs could carry her.
"Whoa, whoa, hey, Ace!" Anakin easily caught up with the three-year-old and stepped between her and the door, just as it opened.
"Uncle Obi-Wan! Aun' Siri!"
"Lúthien, Anakin, hi!"
"Hello, Obi-Wan. Hello, Siri."
"Padmé, good to see you again!"
"Good evening, Padmé."
As Padmé pulled away from a hug with Siri, Anakin commented, "Siri, you look great. I mean, really great. What's up?"
Siri smiled, both she and Obi-Wan definitely looking as if they held a secret. "Oh, you'll find out. So how are you all doing?"
"Wonderful, actually," Padmé smiled, trading a glance with Anakin. "Please, come in and sit down."
As the Kenobis took a place on one of the couches—Lúthien now clinging to Obi-Wan—Sabé came in from the corridor. "Well, look at what the jax drug in," she grinned. "When was the last time you both were here? Hi, Siri—hi, Obi-Wan!"
"Sabé, hi!" Siri grinned.
"Hello, Sabé," Obi-Wan nodded, shifting Lúthien's position on his knee.
Padmé turned to Sabé. "Is dinner almost ready?"
Sabé nodded. "Five minutes, tops. Threepio amazes me in the kitchen."
Padmé giggled. "For worrying over every moment he spends in there, I'd say he does fairly well."
Anakin made a wry face. "That's what I programmed him to do—I don't know why he worries about it."
"Eh, it's just in his personality," Sabé reasoned.
"Personality," Obi-Wan muttered skeptically.
"Yes, Master Kenobi—personality," Sabé insisted. "Droids have feelings, too, you know."
"Sabé, how can they possibly—"
"Oh, no, you two aren't going to argue about that again, are you?" Anakin interjected. The topic of whether or not a droid could have a soul had been enthusiastically debated by Sabé and Obi-Wan several times in the past three years. "I don't get why you even bother—neither of you ever wins out over the other."
"It's the principle of the thing," Sabé told him, smiling sweetly at Obi-Wan, who sighed and focused his attention on Lúthien.
At that moment, Moteé appeared behind Sabé. "Sabé, need your help for a minute?"
"Oh, sure." The two handmaidens disappeared back into the corridor, leaving behind a quiet living room. Anakin was nuzzling his wife, and the Kenobis were fondling Lúthien. It was a cozy sort of silence.
The doorbell broke that cozy silence.
Anakin sprang to his feet. "I thought she said she wasn't going to be here till later…"
"What?" Obi-Wan frowned. "Who—"
"Aun' Soka!" Lúthien grinned. She ran out of Obi-Wan's arms, only to bump into her father's legs as he strode to the opening turbolift door.
Seventeen-year-old Ahsoka Tano stepped into the apartment, a pink gift bag adorning her arm and Captain Rex of the 501st Legion following her. Ahsoka wore her everyday apparel, and Rex wore a dark grey casual flight suit. "Master, Lúthien, hey!" the teen smiled, scooping up her honorary niece and hugging her.
"Hey, Snips!" Anakin grinned. "Hi, Rex."
Anakin stepped back to allow them further in. After very little growth in the past three years he'd known her, his Padawan had recently undergone a terrific growth spurt that put her up an inch or so past Padmé's height. Her montrals—or "naturally-grown headdress," as Sabé teased—had also lengthened, till she looked far more Togrutan adult than teenager. Just the idea of Ahsoka's growing-up made Anakin's chest ache, and he couldn't help but wonder how much worse he'd feel when it was Lúthien in her later teens.
As Ahsoka carried Lúthien into the living room, Rex dug a bolo-ball cap out of the gift bag and set it firmly on the toddler's head. She gasped delightedly and pulled it off to examine it. "Team Naboo! T'ank you, Uncle Rex!" she cried.
Rex smiled slightly. "No problem, kid. Hey, did you watch the latest game?"
"Nuh-uh, I had-a go-ta bed," Lúthien moaned.
"Sullust won by ten."
Anakin gaped. "Rex, how does my daughter know so much about bolo-ball games?"
Rex suddenly looked like a jax caught in the headlights.
Lúthien gave her father a look. "C'mon, Daddy—ev'rybody knows abou' Mesh… Mesh-ger-o-ya." She pronounced the foreign word slowly.
Anakin was pretty sure that his captain was wishing he could sink right through the floor. He folded his arms and looked Rex in the eye. "And how, Captain, does my daughter know Mandalorian?"
"Dat's Mando'a, Daddy," Lúthien corrected, self-complacent.
Anakin arched an eyebrow at Rex, inviting explanation.
The clone straightened to attention, his voice clipped. "Well, sir, Commander Tano told me that younglings like games, and I thought Meshgeroya was something that the ki—your daughter might like, sir. And she's heard me use some Mando'a before, sir."
Anakin wasn't sure whether to laugh or frown. Of course, he himself had been able to speak Huttese as fluently as Basic by the time he was Lúthien's age, and he had also begun following the Podraces at the same time. But Rex wasn't always the cleanest with his language—Anakin had picked up enough Mando'a from his men to understand most of their swear words—and Anakin also knew what kind of commercials aired in-between footage of the bolo-ball games.
Ahsoka glanced back and forth between him and Rex, her large blue eyes interested. Anakin shifted his jaw slightly and motioned to Padmé as he moved towards her. "Padmé, can I talk with you for just a sec?" he asked quietly, passing her and headed for the balcony.
"Certainly." Padmé stood and glided after him. As they came out onto the balcony, Anakin could hear a fresh round of greetings ensue. "Okay, Anakin—what's wrong?" She crossed her arms above her swelling abdomen.
Anakin's lips compressed briefly. "One: language. Two: games."
Padmé sighed and shook her head. "Anakin, Rex is careful of what he says around Lúthien. Only twice has he ever said anything that she shouldn't hear, and it was in Mandalorian. Otherwise, he sometimes starts a word and leaves it unfinished because his brain catches up with him."
Anakin shifted his jaw again. "And the bolo-ball games?"
"What about them?"
"Padmé, do you know what kind of commercials they air in between—"
"Yes," Padmé replied, flustered, "of course, I know—Anakin, what kind of mother do you think I am? When there's a commercial break, Sabé takes Lúthien into the other room until it's over." She exhaled and folded her arms. "Besides," she said in a lighter tone, "there is this little thing called the recorder. And maybe, we use it sometimes, and just maybe, we don't record the commercials."
Anakin's posture drooped slightly, as he tried to figure out whether to blush or roll his eyes. He gave up and let out an explosive breath. "All right. All right, I'm sorry, I just…"
Padmé looked down and shook her head again. "You're just doing your job as a father, Ani—I understand." She stepped forward and wrapped her arms around him. "You're being a good daddy," she murmured.
He kissed the crown of her head. "Thanks," he murmured back.
She tilted her head back to face him. "Well," she smiled slightly, "we'd better get back in there. Before they think something is really wrong."
He smiled slowly. "But this is the first time we've had a moment alone in the last five months."
A laugh bubbled up in her, and she clapped her hand over her mouth before it could escape. "Anakin Skywalker," she hissed in a whisper, "you are absolutely incorrigible! We'll get time alone later."
He grinned slightly, letting her know that he'd been joking. "But I can do this now." He pressed his lips against hers, careful to support her so that she wouldn't fall backwards. When he pulled away, she was a bit breathless.
"Oookay, we really should go back in now," she whispered.
"As my lady wishes," he conceded, his real hand on the small of her back to guide her back into the apartment.
Lúthien was on the floor, handling two dolls. When she caught sight of her parents, she jumped up and brandished the dolls in the air. "Mama, Daddy, look-a whah Aun' Soka goh me foh my birfday!"
"I see, I—oh, Force…" Anakin realized that the dolls were the action figures some toy company had made to promote the war effort. One was a plastic version of himself, another was Ahsoka, and a third was Obi-Wan, lying on the caf table.
Ahsoka shrugged and grinned. "You should've seen the cashier staring at me for buying a toy version of myself."
Anakin arched an eyebrow at her. "Yeah—how did you get the money for this, Ahsoka?"
"Well, it wasn't just me. Barriss knows that I'm friends with Padmé, and when I told her that I was getting Lúthien a belated birthday present, she offered to pitch in."
"We've already settled that Lúthien will send a thank-you card to Barriss!" Sabé called helpfully from the other room.
Anakin turned to Padmé. "How does she do that?"
"It's called parenting, Anakin," Obi-Wan supplied helpfully. "When you practice enough, you have eyes in the back of your head and ears that can pick up your child's voice a klick away."
Anakin drooped a little. "So that's why I didn't get away with much when I was a kid."
Lúthien and Ahsoka giggled. Siri smirked, and Padmé just rolled her eyes, fingering the Hero With No Fear doll her daughter had just handed her.
"Oh, I think you got away with a few things too many," Obi-Wan told him, in that maybe-you-have-forgotten-but-I-haven't tone of his.
A certain protocol droid instance did come to mind… Anakin made a mental note to watch for trickster tendencies in his children.
Ellé drifted into the room at that point, coming up to Padmé. "Milady," she murmured, "dinner is ready. Dormé, Moteé, and I will be heading out once you're settled."
"Thank you, Ellé," Padmé murmured back. "Are you sure you want to go?"
"Oh yes, milady," the handmaiden assured her. "We'll have dinner and go catch a holodrama. It'll be fun."
Padmé exhaled. "If you're sure."
Ellé just smiled.
In the kitchen, Sabé was holding a similar discussion with Dormé. "C'mon, Dormé—stay," Sabé wheedled.
Dormé smiled slightly and shook her head. "This is a family reunion—and I'm not family."
Sabé gave her companion an exasperated look. "You've been with Padmé ever since she became a Senator. What does that qualify as?"
"A loyal bodyguard."
"Dormé!" Sabé folded her arms in frustration. Dormé was the eldest of the four handmaidens at thirty, slightly taller than Padmé, and very quiet and mild-mannered. By contrast, Sabé was the youngest of the four at twenty-seven—though undeniably the most experienced—the same height as Padmé, and definitely fiery in personality. When not in the mantle of a handmaiden, Sabé became very open and outgoing, as opposed to Dormé's almost constant introversion.
Throughout the war, Sabé had been trying to involve Dormé in the Skywalkers' private life, insisting that she was family. Dormé had continually refused, holding that such behavior was contrary to a handmaiden's position. She was Padmé's bodyguard, assistant, and confidante… but she would not take that step forward into a more familial relationship. It frustrated Sabé to no end. She had quickly become friends with the young Queen Amidala, their relationship developing from friendship to sisterhood to something akin to a twin bond. And though she knew Dormé would probably never be that close to Padmé, the older handmaiden could be closer than she was.
"Sabé, I appreciate what you're trying to do—really," Dormé insisted. "But… I just…"
"Dormé?" Moteé called from the corridor. "Ellé and I are ready—are you coming?"
Sabé huffed at the other handmaiden's rotten timing.
"I have to go," said Dormé. She gave Sabé a light hug. "I'll see you later."
Sabé nodded almost sullenly. "See ya." She watched Dormé walk away, and couldn't help the ache in her chest. Despite being the younger of the two, Sabé had developed a "big sister" attitude towards Dormé over the past three years, and the older woman hadn't minded.
She knew that Dormé was hurting inside, for some reason. She just wished she could get her to let it go.
Over dinner, the Jedi entertained the others with humorous anecdotes of the Outer Rim Sieges, frequently supplemented by comments from Rex. Throughout the meal, Lúthien kept shooting her mother significant glances, begging for permission to tell their guests about the Skywalker family's newest addition. Every time, Padmé gave her daughter a discreet "not now" look.
"Mama, ca' we have dessoht?" Lúthien asked, once everyone had finished eating.
"Maybe we should wait for that," Padmé advised.
"That's fine with me," Obi-Wan grunted, pushing himself away from the table. "My stars, every time I come here, I swear I leave a pound heavier."
Ahsoka and Sabé giggled. "Oh well, I'm sure you get it worked off very quickly on the field," Sabé said wickedly.
"Lay off, handmaiden," Siri warned playfully.
Sabé pretended to wilt.
Padmé sighed and rolled her eyes. "Come on, let's let Threepio clear the table."
"Should we help?" Ahsoka wondered.
"No, no, it gives him something to do," Padmé assured her.
Lúthien broke free of the group and hurried into the living room, immediately plopping down on the floor and playing with her new dolls. Obi-Wan pulled Anakin back to the dining room as the others took up seats around the living room. "Anakin, I have to tell you something," Obi-Wan said quietly.
"Master, I don't like that look," Anakin said warily.
Obi-Wan nodded. "I'm afraid it's bad."
Anakin folded his arms. "Yes?"
The older man exhaled heavily. "When I was speaking with Master Windu, he… told me that he suspected the Chancellor's kidnapping was an inside job."
"What?" Anakin hissed in a whisper, a rather familiar anger starting to well up inside.
"The timing was far too coincidental—Anakin, the Jedi team here were closing in on Sidious. They were very close to a breakthrough when the fighting broke out."
Anakin narrowed his eyes, sensing more. "And?" he prompted.
Obi-Wan worked his jaw briefly. "The trail led the Jedi to the sub-basement of 500 Republica."
"Oh." Anakin fell back a step, his mind working feverishly to process that. "But… here, he's working from here… That's… that's impossible—I mean, how could he be here without you or Siri or I or even Lúthien ever sensing him…"
"The same way he can hide himself anywhere from the Jedi."
Anakin leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes. "Oh, Force…"
"Anakin, you have to get them out of here."
Anakin exhaled forcefully. "Kriff it… how are we ever going to fit everybody back into that little flat in the Senatorial Complex?"
"Doesn't Padmé own the flat just below, too?"
"Yeah…" Anakin opened his eyes and turned to face his former Master. "Okay, we'll move. Temporarily, anyway. That place really is too small."
"You'll manage," Obi-Wan assured him.
Anakin blew a puff of air at his hair.
"Anakin, there's one more thing."
The younger man groaned. "What now?"
"Master Windu believes Sidious to be someone in Palpatine's inner circle—Sate Pestage, Mas Amedda, one of the Red Guards…"
"Anakin, be serious."
"I am. I wouldn't put it past Sly Moore to be Sithly."
Obi-Wan sighed again. "Fine. But the fact remains that our Sith Lord is somewhere in the Senate Building itself. So be careful when you visit."
Anakin nodded. "I will, I will, I promise. Look, maybe I can do a little digging, see what I can turn up."
He caught Obi-Wan glancing heavenward. "One minute you're promising you'll be careful—the next minute you're offering putting yourself in danger…"
"Hey, it's got to be done."
"Anakin, may I remind you that subtlety is not one of your strong points."
"But they know me there, they're used to me… it shouldn't be that hard to find something with a little effort."
Obi-Wan raked a hand through his ginger hair. "Fine. But the minute you find something, contact me."
"Yes, Master," Anakin said, rather caustically.
Obi-Wan turned to rejoin the group.
He turned halfway. "Yes?"
Obi-Wan managed a slight smile. "You're welcome, my friend."
The women were chatting, Lúthien was happily playing alone, and Anakin and Obi-Wan were back in the dining room, talking privately. That left Ahsoka and Rex to their own devices, however temporarily.
"Maybe you ought to try to wear civvies when you visit," Ahsoka suggested shyly.
"Ho no, that would be too weird," Rex told her. "I've never worn civilian clothes in my life."
"Well, it's not as if you're that old," Ahsoka grinned. "You need to be more adventurous."
Rex snorted a laugh. "Adventurous? And just what do you call what we do almost every single day?"
"Fighting a war isn't the same as being adventurous," she asserted. "Anyone can fight a war, but not everybody is willing to be daring and try new things."
"You be daring and try new things," the clone smirked. "I'll stick to fighting a war, thanks."
"This from the man who dyes his hair weird colors and shaves it into patterns? Including the color of the Team Sullust?" Laughing sardonically, Ahsoka rolled her eyes, folded her arms, and looked away. Good ole Rex…
"Wha's so funny, Aun' Soka?" Lúthien asked from where she lay stomach-down on the floor.
"Nothing, sweetie—just your uncle Rex."
"Oh stars," Rex muttered, "don't encourage her about the uncle thing…"
Lúthien giggled, and Ahsoka bit back a grin. "Aw, but it's so cuuute!" the teenager cooed.
"Somebody shoot me now," Rex muttered into the pillow he was currently using to hide his face.
Lúthien only giggled harder, and Ahsoka had to choke down her laughter.
"Girls," Padmé called warningly. "Leave the poor Captain alone."
The three-year-old shrugged and returned to her dolls. Ahsoka merely nestled into the plush couch and tossed an innocent look at Rex, who was glancing over his pillow. "Why do you have to do things like that?" he ground out in a whisper to the girl beside him.
Ahsoka's expression abruptly turned penitent. "Ahh, I'm sorry, Rex—I don't know what gets into me lately. Maybe it's a phase I'm going through."
"It's a phase you've been going through for the past three years, kid."
Ahsoka cringed down in her spot. "Eep—touché."
Rex sighed. "I don't know why I bother…"
"'Cause we're best pals?" she suggested.
He looked down at her. "Is that what we are?"
She grabbed the pillow he'd discarded and hugged it tightly. "I think so, yeah."
"A clone officer and a Jedi apprentice?"
"Stranger things have happened."
"And I guess we've seen a lot of them, haven't we."
They shared a knowing smile.
"Well," Rex sighed contentedly, stretching his legs out and crossing them at the ankles, "nice to have that sorted out."
"Did we really sort anything out?"
"Do you really think?"
"What is this, Twenty Questions?"
"Are you going to stop that?"
"Aaaarghhh…" That was Rex's muffled groan into the cushion.
Ahsoka looked up to meet Padmé's disapproving glare. "What?"
Lúthien remained happily absorbed in her dolls while the adults settled into easygoing conversation. Obi-Wan felt Siri's growing impatience, however, to share their news, and he noticed similar signs of agitation in Padmé. "Padmé," he said into a lull in the conversation, "was there something you wanted to share with us?"
Anakin shot him an annoyed glance, but Padmé looked grateful. "Actually, there is, Obi-Wan," she affirmed, gripping her husband's flesh hand tightly. Lúthien looked up from her play with a Cheshire grin. Padmé visibly took a deep breath and said, "I am… I'm going to a have a baby."
Ahsoka's jaw dropped, Rex's military posture slackened, Sabé grinned, Siri's mouth worked helplessly, and Obi-Wan stared. "…Really?"
"Uh-huh!" Lúthien beamed, shooting up from the floor and bouncing onto Anakin's lap.
"Congratulations!" Ahsoka burst out, rushing around the caf table and flinging her arms around Padmé. "That is so great! Awww!" Padmé broke out laughing at the enthusiastic response, and Anakin's eyes widened as his Padawan turned to pounce on him. "Ohhh, Skyguy—congrats!"
Anakin turned a pleading face to Obi-Wan, who shrugged helplessly. "Well, Anakin, Padmé," Obi-Wan began, then stopped himself and shook his head, smiling. "Congratulations."
"Ah, y-yes—yes! Kudos!" Siri grinned, and laughed. "I should have known that you were pregnant—you rather look it."
Padmé nodded with a self-deprecating expression. "Yes…"
"So, when's the baby due?" Rex asked.
"Three more months," Padmé replied.
"Oh, wow," Ahsoka murmured, before rounding on Anakin once more. "Master, why didn't you tell us?"
Anakin threw up his hands. "I honestly had no idea until just this morning—it's been a few months since I've been home, you know."
Ahsoka turned away. "Well. That puts all kinds of unwanted ideas in my head."
"Yeah, well, they'd better stay in your head," Anakin warned her.
Obi-Wan felt Siri lean against him, and he wrapped his arm around her. He almost frowned, sensing something a little off-kilter, something that didn't fit with the cheerful mood. "Sweetheart?" he murmured, filtering out the rest of the conversation surrounding the Skywalkers.
He felt a barely-perceptible headshake. "I'm all right."
He merely sent her a sense of disapproval in the Force.
She sighed. "Really, Obi-Wan."
No, she wasn't, and he was going to find out later—she wasn't the only investigator in this relationship. But for now… "Should we give them our news?"
"Oh, I don't…"
"News, what news?" Lúthien Skywalker suddenly materialized below them—wonderful, the girl was learning her father's fine art of being sneaky.
Obi-Wan shook his head. "Maybe not now, Lúthien…"
"Obi-Wan, did you have something you wanted to share?" Sabé cut in, honest curiosity in her brown eyes.
He sighed and looked down at Siri, who shrugged and sat upright. "Oh, now that they know there's something…" she grumbled, straightening out her tunic.
"What, what?" Ahsoka asked eagerly.
Siri leaned forward and clasped her hands. "Well, I have to admit that Padmé's news kind of took the solar wind out of our sails," she confided.
Anakin frowned suspiciously, glancing between Siri and Obi-Wan. "What do you mean?"
Siri didn't take a deep breath as Padmé had, but she braced herself and Obi-Wan did the same. "We're going to have a baby, too."
…followed by a Lúthien-class tackle. Onto Obi-Wan, thankfully.
"Siri," Sabé began, "that's… oh, that's terrific! Mazel tof!"
Anakin was staring at the Kenobis. "Master, I didn't know you had it in you!"
"Anakin!" Padmé gasped, sending a sharp elbow in his ribs even as Obi-Wan felt his face burn.
"Congratulations!" Ahsoka hastened to say, hoping to avoid further trouble. She flew forward, though, to give Siri a hug that was no less enthusiastic than the one Padmé had received. "Oh, wow!"
"It's a big change, certainly," Obi-Wan admitted.
"Yeah, I'll… say." Anakin's face clouded as his brain worked out the consequences. "Oh, Master…"
Obi-Wan shook his head. "We're going to take things one step at a time, Anakin, and we're not going to borrow trouble before it happens."
That effectively sobered the group as they realized the implications of Siri's pregnancy. "Oh Force," Ahsoka breathed, sitting heavily on the Kenobis' couch.
"We're not going to worry about it," Obi-Wan insisted firmly. "We're going to use this time to celebrate our being together, and the new lives that are coming into our families."
Sabé disappeared for a minute and returned with a tray full of glasses and a bottle of sparkle cider. After filling a glass for everyone, she took her own and raised it. "Here's to our children," she smiled.
"To our children," the others echoed.
Obi-Wan sipped at his glass, taking note of the pensive look in his wife's deep blue eyes.
Okay, this was a chapter I'd been waiting to do since I started the fic, and somehow, I lost inspiration for it! Grrr… Anyway… d'awww, wasn't that just so fluffy? There was also some, well, rather mature humor there, but I think it was all rather like the old movies when their mature humor was just plain roguishly funny, not dirty like that kind of humor is nowadays.
BIG THANKS to my beta, Lady Ravena, who pointed out a couple of things to me and provided me with dialogue material for both Anakin & Padmé's conversation and Rex & Ahsoka's! Ahsoka's questions, btw, were inspired by a cute scene from a Buzz Lightyear of Star Command fic, one of my favorites (and not online, therefore not actually in my profile faves). The bit about Lúthien being a "limpet" is a nod to frodogenic's fabulous one-shot "Lord Vader's Limpet"—check it out, 'cause it's hilarious and yet so totally believable and IC!
Didn't you just love the action figures and the bolo-ball cap? I know I did. xD And I think that Lúthien greeting Rex & Ahsoka was one of my favorite parts—definitely one that was very visual for me.
The Sabé & Dormé scene… I'm not sure where that subplot will go, but it was something that came to mind after reading several handmaiden fics, and the scene integrated itself almost before I knew it! I had a lot of fun writing Sabé in this chapter, and I really enjoy using Keira Knightley as the inspiration for the character.
Next chapter, things start going downhill! (C'mon, there wouldn't be a legitimate adventure story without that happening!)
Please review, and tell me that you still love it!