This OneShot is dedicated to Jess Marylin. Thank you so much for taking the time and being the first to review my story. For any one who loves a good yarn, you should check out Jess Marylin's profile.
"Becoming a father is easy enough, but being one can be very rough."
- Wilhelm Busch
Jango Fett was coming to realize that saying he wanted a son was a lot easier than actually going about the business of having a son. Or of being a father, for that matter. The truth was the things he knew about children would have fit into his buy'ce with plenty of room to spare for a few good shots of tihaar. His own memories about his childhood were mostly too indistinct to properly recall. He had dim memories of his parents, of how his father had taught him to shoot and some clearer recollections of his sister Arla. But the memories of the Death Watch overshadowed most of his early childhood and he preferred not to dwell on them for too long.
His clearest memories were those connected with his adopted father, Jaster. But the problem was that by the time Jaster had saved him from the Death Watch, Fett had already been a boy, almost in his teens. The memories of Jaster and the ideals he had drilled into Fett would come in handy later, when his son was more mature. But now…
Fett rubbed at his eyes with the palms of his hand, trying to get the sting out of them that came from staring at a datapad for too long. With a sigh he picked the pad back up and leaned back in his chair. With no actual experience on small children to fall back on, Fett found himself doing what he did before almost every bounty. He was researching and when it came to babies, there was apparently a lot to research. He picked up a second datapad, this one containing a long list of items he would have to acquire in order to care for a very young child. Looking the list over, he gave a humorless snort. Luckily for him he had just come into quite a large sum of creds, because quite frankly, having kids was expensive.
He flipped to the next page on the pad and grimaced again. This time, he was staring at a list of things he would have to change in his living quarters in Tipoca City in order to make them more comfortable and safe for a baby. Apparently, "baby proofing" was an essential part of becoming a responsible parent.
Fett glanced around his apartment and had to admit, the place could use some interior decoration changes. In fact, the place could use some interior decorating, period. His living quarters consisted of a small living room, a kitchen, a 'fresher and a single bedroom. The walls were the same glaring white durasteel as the rest of Tipoca and the floor was bare. Under normal circumstances, Fett wouldn't have cared. He had lived in far worse holes and he had never been a man who needed luxury. Luxury made you fat and lazy; the Hutts were proof of that. For a lone bounty hunter, a roof over your head and a working 'fresher should be the epitome of comfort. Except, he wasn't going to be alone anymore.
The thought was disquieting and Fett found himself pushing away from the desk and pacing through the apartment. He had been a loner for a very long time now and had grown used to it. Had even grown to liking it. Solitude had a kind of freedom to it that he had found intoxicating, particularly after his time as a slave. But now he was going to have a son and that son would be completely dependent on him, at least for the first few years of his life. Mandalorians took their children to war for the first time when they were about eight standard years old, so Fett figured the boy would need his constant supervision at least till then.
Catching sight of his helmet, lying on the couch, Fett stopped his pacing and picked it up. He turned it over thoughtfully in his hands. With a son to take care of, there would be no more jobs in his near future. He would be bound to this Force-forsaken place for quite some time. He had never been in the habit of staying long in one place and quite frankly the idea did not sit well with him. It was one of the reasons why he had left Sheeka behind all those years ago. The thought of settling down, of remaining dirt-bound for the rest of his years…
Stop it. He told himself angrily. You're not going to spend the next twenty years on Kamino. Your contract runs for ten and by the time the kid is five or so, you'll be able to leave on small stints. He ran a hand over his short-cropped hair, then over his face. He reminded himself that this was what he had wanted: a son, a means of carrying out Roz's last wish and to keep Jaster's and his own legacy alive. And nothing worth having comes without a cost, he thought.
He set the helmet back onto the couch and returned to his desk and his datapads. He had gotten himself into this and he would do it properly. And if that meant researching the best brand of diaper or padding every potentially sharp corner in the city, then so be it. Jango Fett was nothing, if not determined.
He stared into the glass tube, eyes squinting slightly in the bright lights of the genetics lab. Peering more closely at the apparatus, trying to see through the brightly colored blue liquid, Fett decided that yes, the baby was bigger. Well, maybe baby wasn't the right word yet. Tilting his head to get a better look at his son, Fett thought that maybe 'fish' or 'squid' would be more appropriate.
The figure in the vat was tiny, but its head was disproportionably large, its back curved forward almost as if broken. What had really perplexed him in the first few weeks was the tail-like growth sprouting from what Fett had assumed would be legs at some point. He had pointed this out to the Kaminoan in charge of producing his clone, thinking that the fishmeal had perhaps, through some bout of insanity, spliced in some of its own genes into his clone. The Kaminoan scientist had given him a look that Fett could have sworn was almost something like pity, swiftly followed by a long and winded lecture about Human foetus development and how the nine months of growth within the womb and the Humans own evolutionary history had required the production of gills and tails that would later be reabsorbed into the baby's cellular structure.
In other words, everything was going according to plan and he should stop making a nuisance of himself. After that, Fett had taken to perusing the HoloNet, rather than directing his questions towards the Kaminoans. It saved him the trouble of having to explain to Lama Su why exactly he had turned one of his finest geneticists into flash-fried gihaal.
Well, whatever the child had looked like in the past, Fett was sure it was bigger now then it had been the day before, when he had last seen it. He's growing up fast, he thought and felt a small smile play around his lips.
That's my boy.
"So this is where you've been sneaking off to."
Fett turned to watch Vau make his silent way into the lab, the black of his armor almost in painful contrast to the white sterility surrounding them.
"I don't sneak, Vau." Fett told the other Mandalorian. "And if I did, I can assure you, you wouldn't find me."
"True enough. So, is this him?" And Vau gave a sharp nod towards the maturation vat Fett was standing at.
Fett looked down at the glass tube encasing the baby. At least now, he really did look like a baby. Fett spread his gloved hand over the cool glass, almost as if he were a real father feeling the life growing inside of his wife.
"Yeah," he said. "This is my son."
Vau came closer, peering carefully into the vat. "I suppose this puts a whole new meaning to the phrase, 'like father, like son'." He shook his head and glanced back up at Fett. "So what are you going to name the little chakaar?"
Fett found himself uncharacteristically hesitating. "I-I'm not sure, yet. I thought, maybe Jaster."
Vau snorted and Fett felt his fists ball up. Walon Vau just had that effect on people.
"Name the child after the man who got shot by his best friend, because he couldn't see the treachery right under his nose? Kind of asking for it, aren't you Jango?"
"I fail to see how this is any of your business in the first place Vau."
Utterly unfazed by the threat in his Mand'alor's voice, Vau gave a dismissive shrug. "It isn't. Quite frankly, I couldn't care less what you end up naming the kid. I'm just saying that I always hated the idea of being named after someone in my family."
"Good thing then, that I'm not part of your family."
"That it is," Vau agreed and turned to go. He stopped just by the lab's door, turning his hard face back to Fett. "I guess it all depends on why you want the kid in the first place. If he's just a replacement for Jaster, then you might as well name him for it."
Fett turned to glare at the other Mandalorian, but Vau was already out the door. Probably off to cuddle that shabla strill of his, he thought and turned back towards the little body floating in the blue liquid of the vat.
He trailed his hand down the glass, until his spread fingers rested directly over the child's face. So what will I call you, he mused. He hadn't lied to Vau; he had been considering Jaster as a name. But now…he wasn't so sure anymore.
It was true that his need to have a child had stemmed largely from his wish to continue Jaster's legacy, to keep the memory of the man who had saved his life and raised him alive. But that didn't actually mean he wanted the kid to be a replacement for Jaster. Was it?
He snorted. Ridiculous. For one, the boy would look nothing like Jaster. He was Jango's clone, a perfect replication of his genes. There was nothing of Jaster in him. Which means, there's no point in naming him after a man you know he'll bare no resemblance to.
Fett sighed. He would have to give this more thought. But why did everything concerning babies always have to be so kriffing complicated?
Fett watched as the Kaminoan technician began the process of draining the fluids from the maturation vat. Watching the baby sink to the bottom of the vat, he felt an uncharacteristic fluttering of nervousness in his stomach. The past nine months seemed to have passed him by in the blink of an eye.
There was an audible slurp sound as the last of the fluid was drained that made Fett wince in disgust and discomfort. He may not remember ever having witnessed an actual birth, but he was pretty sure it wasn't supposed to sound so…mechanic.
As the fluid drained away, the baby began to squirm, his small face wrinkling up in discomfort. When the artificial umbilical cord dislodged itself from his navel, the baby began to scream in long, gulping breaths that echoed off of the lab's indifferent walls. A nursing droid floated towards the baby, but Fett intercepted it.
"I'll do that," he growled at the machine, jerking the towels out of its many fingers and pincers. "The kid has had enough droids in his life to last him a lifetime." And with that, the bounty hunter turned towards the now open vat, ignoring both droid and Kaminoan.
His son – Force he had a son now – was still screaming, his little fists waving in the air and his legs kicking at nothing. Fett used the first towel to gingerly dab the baby dry, before bundling him securely in the second. Suddenly surrounded by something warm and soft, the baby's screams began to taper away.
Taking a deep breath, Fett carefully picked up his son for the first time.
The boy was tiny and easily fit into the crook of his arm. Taking in the sheer fragility of the child in contrast to his own robust body, Fett was suddenly thankful for the hours of research he had done, studying diagrams and reading explanations of the best way to hold a baby or a toddler. He carefully shifted one arm to support the boy's head better. One wrong move on his part and he could seriously injure or even kill this little Human being. Fett found himself smiling in triumph as the baby stopped screaming all together.
Now that his face was no longer scrunched up in anger, the boy ceased looking like a wrinkled topato. Fett studied his son more carefully, taking in the features. Even knowing that the child was a duplicate of him, Fett was surprised at how much of himself he recognized in those features. There was the messy mop of curly dark hair, the nose that would mature into a more prominent feature, the same high cheekbones peeking out from beneath the baby fat. And yet, he had a hard time imagining this small child as a man like him, grown tall and hard. But who says he has to be like you? He thought. He might have the genes for your body, but he won't have the same experiences. Then, thinking of his parents, both biological and adopted, Fett amended the thought. At least, not all of them.
Jiggling his arms just a tad, Fett's smile widened as the boy wriggled a little in his swaddling, seemingly getting more comfortable, before promptly falling asleep. It seemed the baby knew himself safe and comfortable in his father's arms. The realization and the sheer trust inherent in that gesture, made a warm feeling spread through his body. It had been a long time, since he had been the recipient of such unlimited trust.
"Is everything satisfactory?" The Kaminoan technician asked.
Fett frowned, disliking the intrusion and the fact that the long neck had witnessed such an intimate moment. He hated being caught with his guard down.
"Everything's fine," he snapped at the Kaminoan. "You can leave now."
He watched the Kaminoan and the nursing droid leave the lab, keeping a wary eye on them until the door had swished shut behind them. Then he turned back to the tiny figure of the baby, still cradled in his arms.
The boy had fallen silent, his face tranquil in sleep, turned towards Fett's chest and the sound of his heart. Fett was very glad now that he had decided to eschew his armor for this occasion. He wouldn't have wanted for the boy to rest against cold and unforgiving metal now, after he had been encased in cool glass for nine months.
"Don't worry," he told the boy. "It won't be like that anymore. From now on, you'll have me."
He watched the boy sleep and found his smile softening, even as his eyes stayed riveted on the little figure. Bringing his face closer, he inhaled the baby's scent, a mixture of faint chemicals and clean skin. Yes, he would be bound from now on, no longer a free agent. His time and money would now belong to the boy in his arms, dedicated to his protection and his education. It would mean enduring the Kaminoans and their high-minded attitudes and the constant company of other Mandalorians who would, in turn, make demands on his time and patience.
But it was worth it. He rocked slightly form side-to-side, watching the baby sleep in his arms. For the first time in many years, Jango Fett felt something like contentment settle around him. The boy was not Jaster, but he would teach him what Jaster had taught him all those years ago. And maybe he wasn't the result of the happy marriage Roz had envisioned for him, but then, what woman would have been worthy of giving his son the love and attention he deserved?
"Boba," he said and drew one finger carefully down the sleeping child's face. "I'll call you Boba and people will know you as my son."
Little Boba wrinkled his brow in his sleep, as if he were contemplating this proposal with the greatest of seriousness. Fett continued to rock his son gently as he slept, ignoring the harsh light and the raging storm outside. Inside the lab, there was peace.