Title: Things That Go Blast in the Night
Summary: Luke is dreading taking Ben out for Harvest Festival.
A/N: Written for a Halloween challenge over at theforce dot net. Had to include the words short, snake, caramel. Also had to include the monster Medusa.
A/N 2: This is AU as the Solo kids are only about 10 and 8, but Ben is already born. It didn't take ten years for Luke and Mara to get together in MY universe, LOL.
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters and I am not making any money off this work.
"No, absolutely not," Luke said emphatically.
"Excuse me? Did I miss the part where I married a dictator?" Mara retorted, giving him a look.
Realizing he sounded a little demanding, Luke tried a softer tack. "I just really don't think that's an appropriate costume for Ben to wear on his first Harvest Festival celebration," he said.
"I didn't say that's what he was going to wear. I said that's what he wanted to wear," Mara said.
"You have to know that a Darth Vader costume is not going to be one that I'd choose," Luke said.
"Of course I knew that, which is why I said no," Mara said.
"Oh. Well. Glad we agree on that one, then," Luke muttered.
He had not come home today anticipating a disagreement with his wife, although life with Mara Jade Skywalker could certainly be interesting at times. Luke had never understood Coruscant's obsession with a holiday from a long-dead society anyway. It had re-surfaced shortly after the fall of the Empire, when people were looking for any reason to celebrate.
He still wasn't certain how it had been twisted from a ritual of commemorating the dead and anticipating a healthy crop (which wasn't even something that happened on Coruscant anymore) to young children going around in costumes begging for sweets. For some reason that he had yet to fathom, Mara was completely sold on the idea of Ben participating in the madness.
Some of his doubts must have been showing on his face because she gave a sigh, and walked over to wrap her arms around him. Luke automatically brought his arms up to complete the embrace. Mara looked him in the eye.
"I know that you'd take all the Darth Vader costumes out and burn them if you could," she said.
"Because Darth Vader wasn't who he was. My father was Anakin Skywalker," Luke said.
"I understand how you feel, Farmboy, I really do. That's why I told Ben we'd have to find something else or it would make his daddy sad."
"How did you even know he wanted that one? He's two!"
"Trust me, your son already has his own opinions. He lit up like a luminator as soon as he saw it," Mara said with a grin.
"I'm not sure if I should be proud or extraordinarily frightened by that," Luke said.
Mara leaned up and kissed him softly. "Doesn't matter either way, because I got him a stormtrooper one instead."
"I don't think that's much better!" Luke protested.
Mara ignored him as she went to answer the door when the annunciator sounded. "Why not? It was good enough for you and Solo," she said.
"What was good enough for me and the kid?" Han asked, as the Solos came in. "Jacen, I see you."
"What? I wasn't-" Jacen said as he quickly pulled his hand away from the back of Jaina's tunic. The squirming animal – whatever it was – that was in his hand was stuffed back into his own pocket.
Jaina obviously had no idea what had almost happened, but turned to smack her brother on general principles anyway. Before the chaos could get started, Leia stepped in.
"All right, that's enough. Jacen, Jaina, stop touching each other right now. Anakin, stop laughing. It's not funny," she said sternly. The three hellions grumbled, but quieted when their mother laid down the law.
"Now, the three of you take your costumes and go get dressed." She handed a big bag to Jaina and then turned to look at Mara. "Ben's in his room?" she asked.
"Yes, he is. It would be a great help if you would get Ben into his costume, Jaina. It's in his closet," Mara said with a smile.
The children hurried off to Ben's room, their excitement about the coming evening practically vibrating in the air.
"So what was good enough for me and Luke?" Han asked again.
"You'll see in a minute," Luke said with a resigned sigh.
The kids must've been about to burst with impatience, because it couldn't have been more than five minutes later that they were proudly trooping back in. Luke looked over their costumes and couldn't help but smile. They did look awfully cute.
Jaina was dressed in a familiar orange jumpsuit with a rebel helmet tucked under her arm. Anakin was dressed as a Jedi Knight from the days of the Old Republic. Luke felt a pang of tenderness at how earnest they both looked. As for Jacen, Luke could not quite tell what he was supposed to be. There was a wild mane of hair around his head, and his hands had huge claws.
"Er, Jacen…" Luke said hesitantly. He didn't want to insult his nephew by not knowing what the boy was.
"I'm a nexu, Uncle Luke! Grrraaaaar!" he roared and flexed his claws.
"Looka me, Daddy! Looka me!" Ben shouted, as he pushed his way past his older cousins.
He aimed a little toy blaster at his father and made numerous kapow sounds.
"That's a little too close to a few memories for comfort, huh, Kid?" Han murmured when he saw the discomfited look on Luke's face.
Ben's blaster drooped towards the floor as he looked up at Luke.
"Don' like my cos'ume, Daddy?" he asked sadly.
Mara glared at him, but Luke jumped forward to pick his son up. "No, I love your costume, little guy. You look awesome!"
"Yeah, Ben! The only thing is…aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?" Han asked in all seriousness before he cracked up with laughter and dodged away from Luke quickly.
"You have a big mouth, Leia," he grumbled. His sister just grinned at him unrepentantly.
"Hey, you are too short to have been a stormtrooper, husband dear. Minimum height requirement was 178 centimeters."
"Thank you for pointing that out, love," Luke said, his jaw clenching.
"All right, let's all stop teasing Luke and get a move on. There's candy to be had," Leia said, as she began to usher them all towards the door.
The children all cheered, clutching their Festival candy containers tightly and waving them in the air.
Four hours later, an exhausted Skywalker/Solo clan staggered into the Solo apartment. Ben had succumbed to sleep a while ago and was drooling on Luke's shoulder. Anakin was draped over Han's back, having asked for a ride when his feet got sore, and was only barely awake. Jacen and Jaina were leaning on each other to keep from keeling over.
"And once again, the two of you have proven that we can't take you anywhere," Leia said, shooting a look of irritation at her husband and brother.
"It wasn't my fault! Luke's the one that jumped and squealed like a little girl," Han said.
"How was I supposed to know people dress up their droids? That thing had snakes! On its head!" He then had to soothe Ben, who whimpered a little at the volume of his father's voice so close to his ear.
"It was a representation of some ancient goddess named Medusa. It wasn't even real," Leia said.
"Did you see the way those snakes moved? It sure as hell looked real," Han protested.
"So naturally you had to blast it," Mara said wryly.
"Naturally," Han said with a smirk.
"Oh, never mind. I'm too tired to deal with this now. Just remind me to have Winter transfer the credits to that Bothan's account in the morning," Leia said. "Come on, kids. It's time for bed."
Leia gave a quick hug to her brother and sister-in-law. "Good-night, you two. We'll see you tomorrow?"
"Sure, we'll comm you," Mara said. She picked up Ben's goodie bag and helmet as Luke shifted their son to a more secure hold.
As the door closed, Luke heard Leia's voice scolding her husband.
"Han, get out of the children's candy and get Anakin to bed!"
"But Jacen got some of the caramel ones!"
The rest of it was lost as the door closed and Luke and Mara moved up the hall towards the turbolift that would take them to their own apartment three floors down. He and Mara exchanged a glance at Han's antics.
"He'll never change," Luke said.
"No, probably not," Mara agreed.
Luke saw the happy smile on his wife's face, and suddenly realized how petty he'd been earlier. Mara had probably never gotten to celebrate any holidays designated just for children. He would bet that she'd never even gotten to celebrate her own lifeday as a child.
No wonder she wanted to make sure that Ben didn't miss out on moments like this.
Luke reached out and took her hand in his as they waited for the lift. She glanced up at him and he tried to show her with his gaze how much he loved and appreciated her.
"This was a great day, wasn't it?"
She smiled back at him, letting him know the message was received.
"Yes, it certainly was."