Chapter 1: A Christmas Wish
Looking at the clock on the back wall, Anakin grabbed the nearest rag and cleaned the oil from his hands. He couldn’t be late. Not to this. Entering the office at the shop, he removed the overalls that protected his clothes and grabbed his jacket and keys.
“You’re leaving?” Kitster popped his head inside the room, half of his face stained with oil.
“I have to be at school in half an hour to meet with Leia’s teacher.”
“Oh. Right. How’s she doing?”
“At home, she’s doing well, now at school...we’ll see. I’m hoping for improvements but only the teacher will be able to tell me,” Anakin said. “You’ll cover for me with Watto?”
“Always. Go take care of your kid’s stuff, man, I’ll handle the fort,” Kitster winked and Anakin beamed. He had formalized Leia’s adoption six months ago, but it still gave him butterflies whenever people referred to her as ‘his kid’, or anytime Leia called him ‘daddy’, really, it turned him into mush.
Leia’s school was not far, thankfully, and even with traffic, Anakin managed to arrive five minutes before the agreed time with the teacher. He walked down the hallways of what was once his own elementary school, looking for Leia’s room and for the child herself. December had barely started and the school was already decked out in full Christmas decor and Anakin secretly loved it.
There she was. Anakin grinned at Leia as she broke into a sprint to meet him halfway. When he’d ventured into the world of foster care, following his mother’s example, Anakin had wanted to give back to the community. To help little kids have a home, a family. Love. He didn’t think that he would fall head over heels for Leia. She had captured his heart in a way he couldn’t explain. From the moment the social worker dropped her off at his house, she felt his. His daughter. Luckily for him, Leia felt the same. And she reminded him of that every time she wrapped her arms around him in a bone-crushing hug, as if she was scared he was going to disappear.
“Hey, Princess,” he chuckled, kissing her temple.
“You were almost late,” the seven-year-old tutted disapprovingly.
Raising one eyebrow, he watched her amused. “My apologies, my lady, I am, however, in time and we should all feel proud about that.”
Leia smiled and took his hand. “Miss Dineen is inside, already waiting for you.”
“Anything I should know?”
Shaking her head, Leia stood proudly. “I promised I would be better. I think I am. No, I know I am,” she nodded fiercely.
“Good, I believe you,” he kissed the top of her head. “Wait for me here, alright?”
“I’ll finish my book,” she said, sitting on one of the benches and taking her most recent obsession, The Chronicles of Narnia, out of her pink backpack.
Smiling one last time at her, Anakin entered the room to find Amee Dineen, Leia’s second-grade teacher, and a childhood friend of his, waiting.
“There you are,” Amee stood, beaming, pulling him into a brief hug. “My favorite parent. Please, Ani, take a seat.”
“Ah, I bet you tell that to all the parents,” Anakin snorted, sitting down as Amee retook her place.
“I really don’t. You know, you hold a special place in my heart after what you’ve done for that little girl outside,” Amee said, smiling softly.
“No one is gaining more from that than me.”
“And her,” Amee pointed out. “She is doing much, much better, Ani. She’s such a good girl. A bit mischievous, but it’s good. It’s actually good. She’s showing a very strong personality and she is incredibly smart,” she complimented.
“But?!” Anakin sighed.
“Don’t look like that. Since you finalized the adoption, her progress has been tremendous, but Leia still draws the little boy in all her pictures,” Amee pushed a couple of brightly colored drawings in front of Anakin. “I find her staring out of the window, lost in thought. Sometimes she can be a little blue. But with her story, it’s normal.”
Anakin took a drawing into his hand and bit down on his lip. Leia had drawn herself and... “Luke,” he whispered, staring at the drawing of the boy with yellow hair and blue eyes. “Her twin brother.”
“Being separated from her brother is a wound that it’s not easily healed. Maybe not ever. It’s one of the most awful things the system does. Separate families,” she said bitterly. “Does she talk about him?”
“Not as much as she did in the beginning. I think she doesn’t exteriorize her thoughts on him too much now. My Mom thinks that Leia doesn’t want to upset me, by talking about her brother over and over, because it was already hard for me to adopt her and she doesn’t want to seem like she’s ungrateful for it.”
“I agree with Shmi. It might be that. He had already been adopted before Obi-Wan took her to you, wasn’t he?”
Anakin nodded. “Yes. Obi-Wan said it had been a few weeks since his adoption and that Leia was so, so distressed that they felt she needed a home herself to stabilize and I was the only one available.”
“Anakin, you should let her know it’s okay for her to speak about Luke.”
“I never told her not to,” he frowned, gathering the drawings.
“No, I know. But like your Mom said, she might think you don’t want to hear all about a boy you don’t know. Leia adores you. She trusts you. But she might feel if you get really upset, you might…” at Anakin’s confused expression, she finished with a sigh, “give her back.”
“I would never !” Anakin said scandalized.
“We all know that. She does too. But kids that go through this trauma will always have a small voice in the back of their head telling them otherwise.”
Anakin’s shoulders dropped. “I just… I don’t know how to comfort her, Amee. I can’t tell her ‘it will be okay’ or ‘you’ll be together’. I can’t make those promises.”
“Then don’t. Just be there for her. Let her tell you about her brother. Let her know she can speak about him with no penalization,” Amee advised.
“I’ll do that, over the weekend,” he smiled gratefully.
“Oh, I heard. You’re doing the Christmas tree? Leia hasn’t shut up about how she’s putting the star on top and making a wish,” Amee laughed.
“Yeah, she’s pretty excited. I like seeing her like that.”
“You have a wonderful kid, Anakin.”
“Thank you,” he beamed.
“Now I’ll let you two go,” she nodded towards the door. “Have a fun weekend.”
“Thanks, Amee,” he stood up and handed the drawings back to her. “We’ll see you again on Monday,” he added opening the door and Leia immediately shuffled to her feet.
“Bye, Miss Dineen, have a good weekend,” she said waving.
“Bye, sweetheart, have fun!”
“Here you go, darlings,” Shmi announce, bringing a tray of hot chocolate into the small living room. “For all the hard work you are doing.”
Ahsoka and Leia dropped the tinsel they were playing with to grab each a mug. Anakin finished putting the lights of the tree before he grabbed his own.
“You two,” he pointed at Leia and Ahsoka, “I’ve done the hard part, putting the lights, the rest of the decoration is up to you two superstars,” he winked and sat down on the couch near his mom.
“No tinsel wars!” Shmi warned. Ahsoka pouted and muttered something under her breath to Leia, making her giggle. The two set their mugs down and dug in a box of multicolored ornaments. “This is going to be a different Christmas,” she smiled at Anakin. “Your first one as a father.”
“I can’t wait,” he beamed, eyes not leaving Leia’s figure. Watching her happy and smiling, warmed his heart. Her long brown hair was braided with a cute red ribbon holding it together. Her doe eyes sparkled with joy as she picked each ornament carefully. “Was this how you felt when you finally adopted Ahsoka and she was yours ?”
“Yes,” Shmi grinned. “Happy, thrilled, excited. I had given you a sister that you doted on and I had a daughter to love. There is no purer feeling in the world.”
“I found the star!” Leia blurted, pulling it out of the box with a grin and waving it around. “Daddy, look!”
“There is still a lot to do before you can put it on top,” Anakin teased, poking her side. “Or are you letting Auntie Ahsoka do all the work herself? The tree would be awful!”
“But I really want to make my wish,” Leia pouted slightly before putting the star on the coffee table and grabbing one of the race car ornaments Anakin had made as a child. “This is really messy. You were bad at art.”
“Hey, I was five, give me a break,” Anakin shook his head as Ahsoka snorted. “I dare you to make a better one.”
“That is not hard,” Ahsoka muttered.
“I don’t see any of your ornaments,” Anakin shot back at his sister.
“Because I destroyed them, like a sane person,” she snickered. “Leia, we should have you make some ornaments to replace your dad’s terrible ones.”
“No, I like how bad they are.” Leia hung the race car on one of the higher branches.
“It has sentimental value. I mean, it’s not a masterpiece, but it has survived for two decades, so it has some charm,” Anakin chuckled.
“Oh, look, here are the frames with your baby pictures,” Shmi chuckled.
“I think we should have a few new frames with Leia’s pictures,” Anakin beamed. “Don’t you think, Princess?”
“I don’t have baby pictures,” Leia muttered, digging in the box for more ornaments.
“We can put your pictures of right now,” Anakin said softly but Leia shrugged as she picked a snowflake and hung it, followed by a snowman and a glittering tree.
“And maybe I’ll turn up a Christmas miracle,” Ahsoka added, cracking her knuckles as she grabbed a few more ornaments and hung them across the tree. “You never know.”
“Leia, what will you wish for when you put the tree on top?” Shmi asked.
“It’s a secret,” she blushed as she hung a few more ornaments.
“Oh?” Anakin quirked one eyebrow. “Will you tell me? Just me?”
“Noooooo.” Leia ducked behind the tree, giggling as the pine needles tickled her. “You gotta wait.”
“Will you tell me after we put it on top?” He quipped.
“Then what are we waiting for? Let’s finish this tree,” he jumped to his feet and grabbed a few ornaments too. “The faster we put the tree on top, the faster we can get to that Christmas miracle.”
“I’ll keep the cocoa coming,” Shmi promised, pausing to move around the tree and drop a kiss on Leia’s forehead. “Okay?”
“Yes!” Leia said gleefully, punching the air. “I love your cocoa!”
Anakin smiled at the picture they made as he handed Leia an angel for her to hang.
“Are all angels this pretty?” she asked, scanning the tree for the perfect spot to place it.
“I don’t know, I’ll tell you when I meet one,” he winked at her.
“I bet they’re the most beautiful creatures in the whole universe,” Leia predicted. “I’d like to meet one.”
“One day, maybe,” he shook his head, thinking about how adorable children were. “We’re almost done with the tree,” he grinned.
“Yeah, you two are all talk and I’m doing most of the work,” Ahsoka scoffed.
“I’m working!” Leia protested. “I’m trying to make sure this is perfect!”
“Aw, come on, kiddo.”
“It’s our first tree as a family, it does have to be perfect,” Anakin pointed out.
“Okay, but the perfect tree is one you have fun decorating. And it’s fun to throw things on the tree at random.”
“It will be perfect when Leia puts the star on top,” he replied.
“So put the ornaments on faster!” his sister complained.
A few minutes later, the tree was complete and Anakin was picking Leia up and Ahsoka was giving her the star. Shmi stood back, using her phone to film the first time Leia put the star on the Skywalker tree. “Here’s your big moment, Princess,” Anakin beamed.
Leia squeezed her eyes shut and placed the star on the tree. “I wish I could have my brother back,” she whispered.
Anakin looked at his mother and Shmi gave him a sad, but understanding look and Ahsoka just bit her lip. Everyone wanted to make Leia’s wish come true, the question was… how?
“Okay, thank you. Goodbye.” Padmé sighed, hanging up her phone. At the kitchen table, Luke looked up from his coloring book.
“Who was that?”
“Just someone who was trying to help me with one of your presents,” Padmé explained. “I’m still getting used to the Christmas thing.”
Luke looked down at his coloring book for a long moment before starting to color again. “We don’t have to do it,” he said quietly.
“Luke, it’s no problem. I’m looking forward to it, I just hope that I don’t disappoint you.” Padmé moved to the kitchen counter to start cooking. “We did my holiday, I want you to be able to do your holiday too.”
“I don’t mind. I liked Hanukkah. I don’t care about Christmas anymore,” he shrugged as he switched to a red crayon. “I mean it,” he added for effect as he angrily starting to fill in a dragon.
Padmé sighed. She’d had Luke for eight months, and it still felt like she was failing miserably to be his mother. Of course, she knew why he was upset, but she also didn’t know how to fix it. “You know what, how about we order Chinese food tonight, instead of me trying to cook?”
"Can't be worse," he said, but he had a little teasing smile that let her know he wasn't being mean, but making a light-hearted joke of her poor attempts at cooking.
“Oh, ouch, kiddo, that was mean,” Padmé sighed, shaking her head. “I am not that bad. You like my pizza, right?”
He cringed. "Maybe don't forget about it in the oven next time, Padmé?”
What I wouldn’t give for you to call me ‘Mom.’ “That was one time. Can you get the iPad and open our Seamless app?”
Luke nodded and jumped from the stool, rushing to the living room to grab the iPad. "Here you go," he said, returning to his seat.
“Okay, let’s see, vegetable dumplings and tofu fried rice for me, and for you?”
He sighed and shrugged. "I don't know. Can you pick? I don't know Chinese food that well."
“Teriyaki chicken and steamed rice,” Padmé grimaced a little, finishing the order. “How was therapy today?”
"The same. It's boring." Luke replied. "Do I have to keep going?"
“Your caseworker said it was best if you did it for the first year, to help you transition and adjust to living with me.” She paid for the delivery and started the timer. “I’m trying my best here, Luke, you know that, right?”
Luke bit his lip, ducking his head in shame. “I know,” he whispered, kicking his feet. “I’m going to my room, call me when the food arrives.” He gathered his crayons and drawing kit, plus his coloring book and jumped from the stool, rushing to his bedroom without looking at Padmé. It wasn’t her. She did everything for him and he wanted to be so thankful, but he couldn’t. He missed Leia. He needed Leia. She was his twin sister and being separated was the worst pain he’d felt since the death of their parents. He sniffed as he closed the bedroom door and dropped everything on the bed.
In the kitchen, Padmé glanced down at her phone and the calls list. A week before she’d been made partner at her firm, a week before she would have been considered financially stable to have both twins, Leia had been adopted by someone else. It had felt like a cruel joke then, and it still felt like one now. “Luke?” she moved to his bedroom door, knocking on it gently. “Will you talk to me, please?”
Luke looked at the door and sniffed, grabbing a pillow, hugging it to his chest. “I don’t want to.” I want Leia.
“Luke. I’m supposed to be your mother now. I want to help,” she implored. When he didn’t answer, she chose the same number she’d been calling before they ordered dinner and started the call. “Mrs. Nu, hello. It’s Padmé Naberrie again. Is Mr. Windu still in?”
The receptionist on the other line sighed. “Ms. Naberrie, he’s about to leave. Is this still about Leia’s adoption? We have told you, there is nothing we can do.”
“It’s sort of about that,” she said hurriedly, trying to get something in before the phone was hung up. “I understand that you can’t reverse the adoption, but if there’s even a chance Leia and her new family wants to know where Luke is, just so the twins can stay in touch, I just want to know that I did everything I could to make sure they didn’t completely lose each other. Please, Mrs. Nu.”
“I will put the note in Leia and Luke’s adoption file, but I don’t think you should have high hopes. It doesn’t usually work out that way. Ms. Naberrie, I understand Luke is still having difficulty with the separation and transition, but this is why we suggested therapy.”
“And it’s doing nothing. He need s his sister.”
“I will leave a note stating that you are willing to receive contact from Leia’s adoptive family.
“Thank you.” It wasn’t much, but it was a start. “Have a good evening, Mrs. Nu.”
“Happy holidays, Ms. Naberrie.” The call dropped, and Padmé was left staring at the spaceship covered door of her son’s room, where she could hear some muffled sobs.
“I’m trying,” she whispered again.”
“Good Lord , it’s filthy in here.”
“I told you not to wear your good coat.” The voices of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Satine Kryze floated through the workshop. “Anakin? Are you here?”
“Obi-Wan! Satine!” Anakin greeted them with a big smile and smudges of oil around his hands, cheeks, and forearms. “Careful where you step, Satine, that coat is too white for the shop,” he grimaced.
“I noticed,” Satine said, standing very carefully in the middle of the room, away from everything that could smudge on her. “There was some news that Obi-Wan said you had to hear right away, that’s why we’re here during our lunch date.”
“I will make it up to you,” Obi-Wan muttered to his wife before looking back at Anakin. “The agency called me, there’s been a change in Luke’s file.”
“Oh?” Anakin’s eyes sparkled. “What was it?”
“The family that adopted him has expressed interest in contacting you. That is, Leia and her new family.”
“Oh, thank God, ” Anakin breathed a sigh of relief, leaning against one of the cars. ”I’ve been racking my brain of how I would be able to give her this, this contact with her brother. I’m so happy Luke’s new parents have decided to reach out. This is huge!” He jumped forward, hugging Obi-Wan. “Thank you,” he said, patting his back.
Satine grimaced at all the grease smudges Anakin had left on her husband. “There goes that blazer.”
“We can afford to get me a new blazer,” Obi-Wan scolded his wife gently. “Leia only has one brother. Anakin, I’m working on securing the family’s contact information for you, I’ll try to have it by the end of the day.”
“As soon as you give me the contacts, I will reach out to them, so we can speak before we rush into something messy,” Anakin said and tried to brush a smudge from Obi-Wan’s jacket, grimacing. “Sorry about that.”
“And send us Leia’s Christmas list, so we know what she would like,” Satine smiled.
“Aside from her brother, obviously,” Obi-Wan added. “We need to get going now, neither of us has eaten since breakfast this morning. And Satine’s pacifism disappears the hungrier she becomes.”
“That’s why I spent half of my pregnancy shouting at him,” Satine smirked.
“Thank you. Both of you. Also, my Mom said that Christmas is over at our house this year.”
“Wonderful, we’re looking forward to it.”
“Good. Now I have to get back to work. Please send me the contacts as soon as you have them.”
“Of course, Anakin. We’ll see you soon.”
“Ms. Naberrie, there’s been an appointment added to your schedule,” Teckla Minnau informed Padmé as they fell into step.
“I wasn’t aware I was getting a new case,” Padmé said with a frown, shuffling the papers in the leather folder she was holding to check for certain. “And you might give me a second to breathe, I literally just stepped out of the partners meeting.”
“I’m sorry, but the gentleman on the phone was very insistent,” her assistant sighed. “I think he’s waiting for you in the lobby, I can try to cancel if you need to work.”
“Did he say what this was about?”
“He stated a personal matter.”
“No other details?” Padmé huffed as they reached the door of her office. “I swear to god, if this is Rush Clovis—”
“It wasn’t anyone I’ve ever met before, he said his name is Anakin Skywalker,” Teckla reassured her, pulling the door open.
“Okay, fine,” Padmé sighed. “You can let him in, but if this goes badly, I’m going to be really mad at you, Teckla. Got it?”
Teckla widened her eyes and nodded, slowly. “Yes, Ms. Naberrie. Can I summon Mr. Skywalker, then?”
“I just said you could!”
The assistant cringed and turned around, leaving the office and rushing down to the lobby. “Mr. Skywalker?” Anakin raised his eyes from a legal magazine he was attempting to read to stare at the assistant expectantly. “Ms. Naberrie will see you now.”
Anakin nodded, a small smile gracing his lips. He had done a commute of almost two hours, but it was worth it. When Obi-Wan had passed him the contacts of Luke’s adoptive family, he immediately saw how different it was.
Luke had been adopted by a single parent too, but he lived in the Upper East Side. His adoptive mother was a partner at a prestigious law firm. He was much simpler and lived paycheck to paycheck, so he hoped that they could sort something out for the sake of the twins and so they could lead happier lives.
He had chosen his best clothes, to at least look presentable to this woman. Some dark jeans, a midnight blue polo and dress shoes that he sort of hated, but his mother kept telling him looked elegant.
I hope this works. He thought as he followed the somewhat stressed assistant towards the office. He ran a hand over his hair, nervous with the fallout this could bring. Seeing Padmé Naberrie through the glass windows of the office didn’t help matters. She looked more like a model than a lawyer, wearing an impeccably pressed grey blazer and skirt, her honey brown tresses swept up in a perfectly smooth bun, and her makeup looking professionally done.
“Ms. Naberrie,” Teckla announced as she opened the door of the office. “Mr. Skywalker for you.”
“Thank you, Teckla.” Luke’s adoptive mother looked up at Anakin with a striking pair of chocolate eyes. “You can leave us. I’ll let you know if I need anything.” Teckla nodded and brushed past a starstruck Anakin. “Mr. Skywalker, take a seat. How can I help you?”
Breaking out of his daze, Anakin took the seat in front of her desk and fell a little out of place. Everything was perfectly organized and decorated with taste and, well, money. “I am sorry if I disrupted your work today, Ms. Naberrie, but what I have to speak with you is far too serious for a simple phone call,” he licked his dry lips. “I adopted a little girl, Leia, six months ago, and I believe you had adopted her brother, her twin, Luke, a couple of months before, am I right?” He asked softly.
“Two months, three days,” Padmé replied slowly, gaping at him. “So you’re the guy I should be billing for Luke’s therapy?”
Anakin was taken aback, blinking at her in confusion. “I’m sorry, what?”
She flushed, rubbing at her temples as she closed her eyes. “No, I’m sorry, it’s just that I fought for a very long time to get both of the twins, but the agency insisted I didn’t have the income to support both of them, and that they were going to be separated regardless, so they pushed for me to adopt Luke, and said I could come back and reapply to adopt Leia if I did get this promotion I was up for. You took her a week before I got it, and ever since, Luke’s been miserable. I’ve been suppressing my own emotions at home for months because I’m trying to be a good mother, and it just sort of came out on you, I’m so sorry.”
“Wow,” he breathed. “You’ve been going through a lot, uh?” Anakin guessed. “Leia was brought to me first as a foster child, but there was a chance to adopt her and I took it, they wanted to introduce her to a family out of state and I… I couldn’t allow it,” he looked around her office. “I don’t know why they didn’t let you adopt them both, it’s ridiculous. Though, I’m sort of torn between happiness that I got Leia and sadness that she got separated from her brother, at the situation,” he babbled.
“Anakin, was it?” She took a glass pitcher from the corner of the desk and poured a glass, sliding it towards him. “Take a moment, take a breath, take a drink.”
“Thank you,” he accepted the drink and took a sip. “Leia’s social worker, he is a friend of mine, and when you added the note to Luke’s file, he told me and… I’m here,” he smiled. “Two hours later, but I am,” he chuckled. “I was afraid you weren’t going to see me. Your assistant was very unsure.”
“Generally, appointments with me are made at least a week in advance,” Padmé explained. “And as to why they didn’t let me take both twins, there were concerns about my income, and my abilities to handle two children, especially with their record. You’ve seen it, I’m sure. The amount of trouble they’ve gotten into over the years?”
“Yes. I’ve seen,” he chuckled. “They’re just kids. They haven’t found who understood them. Until now, I hope.”
“Well, they didn’t think I could parent both of them, so they only gave me Luke,” Padmé tilted her head to the side. “It’s odd, but I swear, you look like you could be related to him.”
“You’re kidding me? Leia looks like someone photocopied you and turn you back into a child,” he laughed. “Her only wish this Christmas was to be with her brother again. I had to jump at this opportunity.”
“Luke doesn’t even want to do Christmas this year,” Padmé admitted. “It probably doesn’t help that my family and I are Jewish, so I have no clue what I’m doing. But I think it’s because he misses Leia.”
“I was going to suggest we arrange something to bring them together? It will help them and both of us. Leia is being a super good girl, but she does have some blue moments. She’s doing better in school, not getting into trouble. She made a couple of friends, but every drawing, every wish, every… small thing, she adds Luke.”
“Luke’s been shutting me out entirely,” Padmé admitted, pouring a glass for herself. “He talks as little as possible, he hides in his room. There isn’t any homework to do, but I’m still worried about the fact that he doesn’t have any friends.”
“It seems he’s a bit shyer and quiet than Leia. Leia is a lot of noise and a lot of mischief,” he smiled fondly. “If it’s something that you’re willing to do, we could arrange for them to be in each other’s lives. I will be willing to negotiate something. I know Leia would be so, so, so happy.”
“I would love to arrange something,” Padmé said immediately. “I think we’d need to coordinate a schedule, but yes, absolutely, we need to let the twins be with each other again. It’d be good for both of them.”
He beamed. “I’m glad we’re on the same page. It’s what best for them. We can organize something for this weekend, maybe, make it a surprise. Something they would like to do?”
“If I knew something Luke liked to do.” Padmé’s smile dissipated. “He’s not been very forthcoming."
“I’m sorry. You have to believe that will change.” Anakin sighed. “Leia has spoken about laser tag and there is this great place in Brooklyn I’ve been thinking of taking her. Maybe it could be something for both of them?”
“You live in Brooklyn?” she raised an eyebrow ever so slightly. “How much of the two hours getting here was travel time?”
He ducked his head. “All of it? I really wanted to speak with you about this and I wasn’t letting a little commute stop me.”
“You’re committed, I’ll give you that,” she laughed a little. “Let me pay for a cab to take you home, it’s the least I can do.”
“No, it’s okay, I don’t need you to,” he rushed to stay as he stood. “I’ll get home just fine by train. But thank you for offering. Do you want my number? So we can schedule the hour and everything?”
“That would be great, thank you.” She took one of the business cards from the little holder on her desk and scribbled a series of digits under the embossed print. “And here’s my personal number. Use that one, not the one that’s printed on the card.”
He looked at the fancy card. “I will do. Have a little more patience with Luke and don’t take it personally. I’m sure it will be better. If you weren’t a good mother, you wouldn’t have added the note to Luke’s file. I’ll be in touch, Ms. Naberrie.”
“You can call me Padmé,” she added gently.
“Thank you… Padmé.”
“I’ll be in touch soon, Anakin.”
He gave her one last bright smile, before turning around and leaving, lighter than he had arrived. He was going to get Leia her Christmas miracle.
Chapter 2: A Christmas Reunion
“I can’t believe you are finally taking me to laser tag,” Leia beamed and Anakin laughed shaking his head as he helped her with her bright pink coat.
“You just spoke about it every day, I can take a hint,” he eased as he helped her put her gloves on. “Besides, laser tag is not really the surprise,” he shrugged nonchalantly.
Leia’s eyes widened and she started bouncing up and down. “Are we getting a kitty for Christmas?” she guessed. “I love kitties!”
“Really? You want a kitty? I didn’t know that,” he frowned, placing her fluffy bonnet over her bouncy curls.
“I mean, I’d like one, but I didn’t ask for one for Christmas, because I didn’t know who’s allergic,” she explained. “Plus, I need to prove I’m responsible first.”
“Thankfully, no one is allergic to kitties, so we can think about getting one,” Anakin conceded. “And I’m very proud that you know that you need to show responsibility first. However, if you keep getting good grades and good feedback from Ms. Dineen, and you keep doing your assigned chores…” he smiled, wrapping a scarf around her neck, “I think you won’t have to wait for too long.” He tapped her nose with a smile.
“Yes!” Leia pumped a fist in the air. “You’re the best!”
“Anything for my daughter.”
“Okay, so tell me what my surprise is.” Leia wrapped her arms around his waist as he opened the door. “Pleeeeeease? Pretty please?”
“Aw, Princess, but that would ruin all the fun. You’re going to love the surprise, I know you will, but you’re going to have to wait until we get to the laser tag place, okay?” He kissed her forehead.
“Aw, okay,” Leia sighed dramatically and let go. “But can we get pizza? And play the arcade games too?”
“Yes, we are going to have a big day today. Laser tag. Pizza lunch. Arcade games during the afternoon. Everything you have the right to do,” he beamed as he grabbed his car keys.
“Yes!” Leia charged out of the apartment, barreling straight ahead without waiting for Anakin.
She had no idea just how big her day was going to be. He grabbed his phone and quickly texted Padmé, letting her know he and Leia were about to leave for laser tag. He put the phone away and smiled at Leia. “Let’s go, Princess.”
“Luke?” Padmé tapped on the side of the space-themed arcade game her son was playing. “Luke, it’s time for laser tag, are you almost done with your game?”
He sighed, half-annoyed. “Do I have to?” Luke asked, not looking up at his game. “Since when do you like laser tag and Brooklyn?” He made a face.
“I thought it would be something we could do for fun together. And a good way for you to make some friends.” It was a really weak explanation and they both knew it. Brooklyn was nowhere near their Upper East Side townhouse, and Luke was barely making friends in that neighborhood. A change of location wasn't going to change his attitude.
“Well, there aren’t any stuck-up kids here, that’s for sure,” Luke muttered and got a high score. “I guess I’m ready,” he shrugged, pulling away.
“Great.” Padmé pulled out her phone and sent a text to Anakin, letting him know that Luke was ready. “Let’s go find the other people who are playing in our group, okay?”
Luke nodded, dragging his feet. He hadn’t wanted to leave the house. He'd been fine just being at home, coloring and watching movies on TV. He wasn’t in the mood to socialize with other kids. His school was filled with kids that talked like they were adults and old people ready to clean their shoes if a bit of dirt ever dared to jump on them. Leia had been the one who was always social and was always making friends, she would know how to talk to them, but not Luke and not having her was making him reticent too.
“Look, I promise you’re going to have fun,” Padmé whispered. “And by the end of this, there’ll be a Christmas present you’ll really enjoy.”
He looked at her suspiciously. “I told you. I don’t care about Christmas that much.”
“I know, but I didn’t listen,” she laughed, moving to the counter. “Hi. One adult, one child, reservation name Naberrie?”
“Here you go,” the teenager behind the counter passed over the vests and guns. “The other family in your group already checked in, they’re waiting in their team room. You’re in the blue room.”
“Other family?” Luke asked, turning to Padmé curiously. “Oh no, is this a playdate?” He groaned.
“Well, if it were one on one, you’d beat me easily,” Padmé pointed out. “Just trust me? Please?”
“I’m already here, I guess there isn’t much I could do anyway,” he dropped his shoulders. “Fine. Let’s go.”
“Do you need help with the vests?” the clerk asked, clearly not interested in the family discussion.
“We’ll be fine.” Padmé grabbed the child-sized vest for Luke. “Arms up.”
Luke raised his arms. “Do I have to be friends with this child that you’re setting me up with?”
“Hey, for all you know, you’re going to like them.” Luke just frowned, and Padmé chose not to let it bother her as she slid the vest over his head. “Buckle up, I need to put my own equipment on.”
Huffing, Luke finished putting his vest on. “Why laser tag?” He asked. “You never spoke about it.”
“Just a feeling you’d like it.” Padmé latched her own gear into place and took her gun out of its little holster. “Ready?”
He shrugged. “Sure.”
“Good.” Padmé moved them into the blue room. The rules that were written on the wall were also playing on a loop from the loudspeakers. “Ready to kick someone’s butt?” she asked playfully.
Luke gave her a sideways look. “You’re trying really hard to be fun, aren’t you?”
“You’re not making this easy for me, kiddo.”
“I never told you to play laser tag,” he raised his eyebrows.
“No, you just want to stay holed up in your room like a hermit, like you’ve tried to for the last six months. I’m not having it anymore, Luke, you need to try to enjoy life. You’re seven years old, that’s too young to be so gloomy all the time.”
He scowled. “Maybe you shouldn’t have adopted me if I am so troubled. I get the right to be gloomy. I get the right to not want to do stuff. I don’t like to do stuff. Why do you try to make me do it all the time?”
“Because I wanted to adopt you. I wanted to be your mom, I wanted us to be a family. Luke, I am sorry that I couldn’t adopt Leia too, but Mr. Windu was very clear that the two of you would have been separated soon anyway. You know I tried to get Leia too, the timing just didn’t work out.”
“Leia and I should’ve just run away,” he spat. “We would be better off alone .”
3...2...1...go! The loudspeaker let out a horn sound and the door unlocked, letting them into the laser tag course. Padmé sighed and headed in first, navigating the maze to try and find Anakin. The sound of much smaller feet made her duck, but her vest buzzed, indicating she’d been hit.
“That one was easy, ” a little girl claimed victoriously. “Come on, Daddy, we don’t want to lose.”
“Leia?” Luke whispered, hovering near Padmé.
“LUKE?” The girl charged straight at him, knocking into him with a loud smash as the plastic of their vests made contact. “Oh my gosh, it’s you!”
“It’s you too,” Luke laughed and cried at the same time, wrapping his arms around his sister. “I missed you. I missed you so much.”
“Hey, no contact,” the clerk’s voice came through the loudspeaker. “That’s a violation.”
“Oh, leave them alone, they’re not hurting each other,” Padmé swatted at the cameras that were probably somewhere above them. “Merry Christmas, Luke.”
“Would it be too mean if I shot them both? Because winning is kind of fun?” Anakin’s teasing voice came from behind her.
Padmé rolled her eyes and spun around, shooting him with her own gun first. “Well, considering that we’re now both one point down, that’d just be a four-way-draw.”
“ That was mean,” he chuckled.
“I can’t believe you’re here,” Leia pulled away, holding her brother by the shoulders. Happy tears running down her cheeks. “I missed you so much. It’s been so long.”
“I missed you too,” Luke sobbed. “I did nothing BUT miss you.” The lights came on, along with a pre-recorded announcement to exit the course.
“You know what, why don’t I take care of that, just so we don’t get banned for life?” Padmé asked. “You stay with the kids for a little bit?”
Anakin nodded and approached the twins as Padmé headed out of the room, huffing. “Are you two happy?” He asked softly.
Leia nodded, cleaning her cheeks. “Thank you,” she whispered, eyes very bright and Anakin smiled, kissing her cheek. “Luke, this is Anakin, he’s my Daddy now,” she said softly. “Daddy, this is Luke,” she laughed.
“Hi,” Luke said shyly, suddenly ducking his head.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Luke,” Anakin beamed. “Leia has told me a lot about you.”
“All good, I promise,” Leia rushed to say. Luke nodded slowly, grabbing onto Leia’s hand tightly.
“Now, after Padmé comes back, we can all play laser tag, then we have a pizza lunch where you can catch up,” Anakin beamed at them. “You won’t ever have to worry about being separated. Alright? Can we have fun now?”
“Okay,” Luke said softly. “Do you live here? In Brooklyn?”
“Yes,” Leia nodded excitedly. “With Daddy. Then there’s Aunt Ahsoka. Grandma Shmi. Uncle Ben and Aunt Satine. There’s Korkie. Hmmm, Uncle Rex. Uncle Kitster. Miss Dineen, my teacher, she’s awesome.” Luke’s lip started to quiver, tears shining in his eyes. “Luke, what is it?” she asked worriedly, squeezing his hand.
“I don’t have anyone except Padmé. And I really just wanted you back,” he whispered. “They make me go to stupid therapy.”
Anakin bit his lip, understanding why Padmé was struggling so much with him.
“Now you have all of us,” Leia stated before hugging him. “I love you so much and I missed you and I wanted you too, every day. If it wasn’t for Daddy and Uncle Ben,” she sniffed, “I would have been gone for good. There was a family from Arizona that wanted to adopt me,” she sniffed and held him tight. “I wouldn’t have seen you again.”
“Hey, hey, that is way too many tears for my liking,” Anakin said. “Everything is okay now. You are with each other and Padmé and I don’t want to separate you. Not now. Not ever. We both love you and we both know how much you mean to each other,” he cleaned Leia’s cheeks and ruffled Luke’s hair.
“Thanks, Mr. Anakin,” Luke said slowly, still not fully looking at Anakin.
“It’s just Anakin, kiddo.”
“Anakin,” Luke repeated as Padmé returned, fixing her ponytail.
“I smoothed things out, we’re allowed to play again, and there will not be consequences,” she announced.
“Great, we’re ready, aren’t we?” Anakin clapped, looking at them.
“Yes,” they chorused.
“Good,” Anakin grabbed his gun again. “Let the games begin.”
“And then I put the star on the tree and I made a wish, and Daddy made the wish come true!”
“That is so cool! ”
“I had no idea Luke could talk this fast,” Padmé whispered to Anakin. “Does Leia normally do this?”
Anakin nodded as he took a bite out of his slice of pizza. “When she is enjoying something, or someone’s company, yeah. But this is as excited as I’ve seen her in the past six months. It must be a twin thing.”
“Must be,” she agreed, “this is certainly the happiest I’ve seen Luke. It’s going to be awful when they have to say goodbye at the end of today.”
“It won’t be technically a goodbye and we need to make sure they know that. We can have them talk on the phone every day. Skype. We can try to fit one playdate every weekend for their sake. We can’t consider it goodbye or they’ll lose it,” Anakin pointed out.
“Good point. Does Leia have a phone? Luke does,” Padmé agreed. “It’s pretty thoroughly child-locked, but still. It’d be good if they could be in contact, even without us around.”
“No, she doesn’t,” he said, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. “I didn’t find it necessary. Now it will come in handy so I’ll see if I get her one for Christmas,” he cleared his throat and reached for another slice.
“If you need help with that, I’m happy to chip in,” whispered Padmé.
“I don’t, really,” he said, a bit more sharply than what he probably intended. “I can manage. I don’t have my name on a door but I get by, don’t worry.”
“You’re my son’s sister’s father, we’re a weird kind of family, families help each other.”
“Padmé, I don’t know you that well, so let’s not do that, okay?” He said, annoyed.
“Okay, I’m sorry. I guess I just don’t want this moment, or this feeling to end. I feel really good right now, Anakin.”
“I feel good too, my daughter is really happy and that’s what matters.”
“I know this might be a huge imposition, but I think Luke would love it if we could join you for Christmas to meet the rest of your family.”
“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Anakin nodded. “I mean, they’ve been apart for so long and you don’t really do Christmas or know how to, no offense, and Leia is Christmas-crazy, so it would be our pleasure to host you.”
“Oh, yes, I know, it’s shocking that a Jew knows nothing about how to do Christmas,” Padmé said sarcastically, but her eyes sparkled and she giggled slightly. “Thank you. Can I repay you by having you guys over next Sunday?”
“Yes, we would love to. I’m sure Leia won’t mind either as any time with her brother is good. We can do Brooklyn one weekend, fancy Upper East Side the other and they won’t lose contact,” Anakin chuckled. “I’m glad you were willing to be in contact with us. I wouldn’t know where to turn if I couldn’t find Luke. I don’t think Leia would ever forgive me.”
“I’m relieved that you reached out to me,” Padmé replied, reaching out to take his hand. “Right before we started the laser tag, Luke was admitting that he wished he and Leia had just run away together. I get the feeling he might have tried to do it if he thought he could get away with it.”
“Our country has an awful system,” Anakin sighed and felt a brief spark as she touched him. “They shouldn’t allow single adoption of siblings. It’s just cruel. Not everyone is like you or me. But I don’t think we need to focus on that anymore. We are here. They are happy and fulfilled, it’s our job to make sure it stays that way.”
At the other end of the table, the twins were putting their heads very close together. “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” Luke whispered.
“Yeah, they are totally into each other,” Leia stated like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“If they got together, we could be together all the time,” Luke added. “We might even be able to get them to get married.”
“Uh, they barely know each other,” Leia narrowed her eyes. “Isn’t that stretching it too far? I mean, I wouldn’t mind, your mom seems great, I just… I don’t know if we’re that influential.”
“We gotta try!”
“Where do you suggest we even begin?”
“Make sure we all spend as much time together as possible,” Luke said.
“I can try to convince daddy to invite her on a date,” Leia pursed her lips. “I’m pretty hard to say no and grandma says he’s putty in my hands,” she grinned.
“Padmé will probably do anything I ask her if it means I’m not ‘gloomy.’” Luke put air quotes around his last word.
Leia looked at Padmé and back at Luke. “You don’t call her mom? You’re pretty cold to her.”
“She took me away from you,” Luke pointed out stubbornly. “What kind of mom does that? And she made me do therapy, which I hate.”
“Luke, I’m sure she didn’t do it on purpose,” Leia blinked, surprised at her brother’s anger. “She seems sweet and she did bring you here today, to be with me. I was only put in Daddy’s care because there was a ‘time-out’ on her adoption, according to Uncle Ben, and the agency didn’t have where to put me anymore,” she shrugged. “If she wanted to take you away from me, she wouldn’t be here today and I think she was trying to help you with the therapy thing.”
“Stop taking her side!” Luke complained, stuffing the slice of pepperoni pizza into his mouth.
“I’m not, I’m always on your side. You know that. But I found a father in Anakin, why can you find a mother in Padmé?” Leia looked at Padmé again, laughing at something Anakin said. “She doesn’t seem mean.”
“She’s not mean,” Luke admitted slowly. “But that doesn’t mean she’s automatically my mom. And she doesn’t have a big family, all her relatives live in other neighborhoods.”
“I think you’re trying to find reasons to push her away,” Leia shrugged and grabbed a fry. “You were the better one of the two of us, Luke,” she pointed the fry at him before eating it.
“Because I had you,” he argued.
“You still have me, silly,” Leia chuckled, placing a hand over his. “You’ll always have me. And thanks to Padmé and daddy, we are together now.”
“I guess so,” Luke admitted slowly, taking a fry of his own. “But I’m not ready. I know we were too little to remember our real parents when they died, but it still feels weird to have a new one.”
“Give her a chance at least,” Leia asked with a smile. “If we want them together, so we can be together, you know you have to. Besides, you might end up liking her,” she giggled. “I knew right away I wanted Anakin to be my father. He’s just awesome and he sort of reminds me of you. Grown-up version, though.”
“Really?” Luke leaned, curiosity piqued.
“Yes! He’s super into cars, he’s a mechanic. Also, he loves everything about space. He has a telescope on grandma’s house and he has been teaching me about the stars. He’s a nerd too,” she chuckled.
“Padmé does lawyer stuff,” Luke explained. “She’s in charge of a whole department at work. And she likes books and government and stuff.”
“I like books,” Leia pointed out. “How many does she have? Anakin has a lot of books about cars and mechanics, but not many fiction or romances. A lot of comics, though…”
“She has a whole room just for books, but which comics?”
“A whole room? Just how rich is she?” Leia gaped. “Uh, I don’t know, comics.”
“You’re the worst,” Luke groaned. “It’s one of those rich people townhouses. Apparently, she got it because her grandma left it to her when she died. She has a whole library room, and a room just for her office, and one for the TV, it’s so weird. I really don’t get why they didn’t let her take both of us, she has space.”
“If it wasn’t for Uncle Ben pulling strings, I would be in Arizona,” Leia whispered. “Daddy doesn’t have much, but what we have is comfortable and I love it. I don’t have a library and he doesn’t have an office. Our living room is very close to the kitchen and we just have two bedrooms but…” she smiled brightly, “I love all of it.”
“It sounds really great,” Luke said enviously.
“Green is not your color,” Leia shook her head with a sigh.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I’m calling you a Grinch because it’s Christmas and you’re being difficult,” she scolded him.
“I am not!” Leia just gave him a glare. “What?!?”
“Kids, is everything okay?” Padmé asked somewhat sharply.
“Yes, Padmé, I’m just doing my big sister role,” Leia said diplomatically.
“I was born first,” Luke pointed out with a raised eyebrow.
“Your mentality didn’t catch up,” Leia replied and Anakin nearly choked on his drink, laughing.
“Girls mature faster than boys do, you’ll catch up eventually Luke,” Padmé promised, remaining a bit calmer as she passed Anakin a napkin.
Luke rolled his eyes and glared at Leia, who gave him a winning smile.
Anakin coughed for a bit, before just chuckling. “I’m sorry, sometimes she’s just… surprisingly sassy.”
“It’s been amusing,” he said. “She has definitely brought some joy into my life.”
“You didn’t have any beforehand?” Padmé asked, tilting her head curiously.
“I did, but it’s different. I have someone else to take care of. Someone to fight for, you know? A purpose. That’s why I became a foster parent in the first place. I wanted that fulfillment. My mother did it before me and she fostered some kids, until she adopted Ahsoka, my younger sister. She said helping those kids gave her another purpose besides me and she helped them. So she inspired me to do the same and the first kid I get,” he glanced at Leia snapping at her brother for something, “I felt a connection like never before and here we are today.”
“That is so sweet,” Padmé sighed as she watched the twins interact.
“Why did you do it? Adoption as a single parent?”
“Well, I was having a conversation with my boyfriend about our future, and he admitted he didn’t want kids, and I knew I did, and I didn’t necessarily want to wait for the right person. And my family has actually been involved in youth outreach since I was young, so I decided I wanted to try adoption.”
“Why a child and not a baby?” Anakin asked curiously.
“Honestly? I didn’t want to wait that long. It’s hard enough for couples to adopt babies, being a single parent makes it even worse.”
“I realize you weren’t being dramatic when you said Luke was being difficult,” he sighed, looking at the boy who hasn’t let his sister out of his sight and had been a bit cold towards the adults.
“I try to leave my dramatics for the courtroom,” she confirmed. “You have no idea how much of a hero you are to me for contacting me.”
“That is too much of a compliment. It was not completely selfless, you know?”
“You did it for your kid. I did it for mine. That’s selfless enough.”
“We’re basically stuck with each other for life now,” he pointed out, amused.
“That’s not so terrible, is it?” she pouted, and the twins exchanged a wide-eyed glance.
“No, of course not,” he laughed, flushing. “It’s just… sudden. We’re bound to be co-parenting,” he scratched the back of his neck. “It’s just something we both need to get used to. That’s all,” he said with a little smile.
“She’s into him,” Luke whispered to his sister.
“And he’s blushing ,” Leia whispered back. “This might be easier than I thought.”
“I think we can manage. The distance seems like an issue more than anything,” Padmé said, oblivious to the twins’ conspiracy. “Do you think we can do it?”
“Of course. It’s all for the twins and that’s what matters. They are worth the commute,” Anakin beamed at her.
“Oh, we are so marrying them,” Leia decided with a mischievous smile.
“Let the real Christmas miracle begin,” Luke beamed.
“That was so much fun!” Leia bounced out of the car, clearly still hopped up on sugar and wearing a plastic tiara she’d bought with Luke’s arcade tickets. “I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun in my whole life! We should go back there but bring more people! Oh, can we do a birthday party there?”
Anakin laughed at her enthusiasm. “Of course. Padmé and I can speak about making your birthday party together. I’m very happy that you enjoyed your day, princess, and that your wish came true.”
“It’s going to make next year’s Christmas pretty hard to top,” Leia giggled. “Did you like Luke? And Padmé?”
“Well, I have a whole year to plan my next Christmas surprise,” he taunted. “I loved them, they were very sweet and I could see how much Luke missed you but you’re together now. You can speak with each other, we can skype during the week. Next Sunday we’re having lunch at their house, Padmé invited us.”
“Cool! Luke told me their house is really big!”
“Yeah, I can imagine,” Anakin sighed softly. The twins ended up in two very different households, that was for sure. “They definitely don’t live in Brooklyn.”
“I do like living in Brooklyn,” Leia said, hugging him tightly. “And I love our apartment.”
The reassurance felt nice as he hugged her back. “I know, sweetheart,” he said softly. “I just would love to be able to give you more. If Padmé had adopted you, you would have a bigger house, a bigger room, a library, ” he chuckled, even if he felt a pang of sadness.
“It’s okay,” Leia insisted. “Come on, I want to show Grandma my tiara!”
“Go on,” he smiled, tucking her hair behind her ear. Leia grinned and ran up the stairs, calling for Shmi and Ahsoka.
Anakin followed at a more relaxed placed, closing the door and hanging their coats. “You two had fun,” Shmi remarked.
“Luke has a really cool mom,” Leia gushed. “Don’t you think so, Daddy?”
“Yes, she is very nice,” Anakin agreed, kissing his mother’s cheek.
“And pretty,” Leia added.
“That too,” he nodded. “Luke was adorable.”
“She invited us for lunch on Sunday, and Daddy said they could come to Christmas!” Leia added. “Hey, Aunt Ahsoka, come see my tiara!”
Shmi turned to her son, as Ahsoka entertained Leia with ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ about the tiara. “You’ve met this woman, what? Twice?” She asked amused.
“She’s Luke’s mother for all intents and purposes,” he lifted his shoulders. “She’s nice enough and is making a real effort.”
“I see.” Shmi tilted her head. “So this is for Luke and Leia’s sake, and nothing else. Alright, dear.”
“What? What’s with the look and the tone of voice?” Anakin narrowed his eyes. “I will probably be in her life and she will be in mine for the rest of our days. We’re basically co-parents now. We need to get along and the twins have been separated for too long, they need this. Nothing else.”
“Yes. Alright. Very alright. ” Anakin pointed out. “I mean, there’s nothing else to happen. Women like her don’t go for men like me. So don’t alright me that way.”
“Who are we talking about?” Ahsoka asked, suddenly at his elbow.
“Luke’s mother,” Leia replied wiggling her eyebrows.
“Oooh, is she pretty?” Ahsoka gasped.
“The prettiest,” Leia quipped.
“Did you like her?” Ahsoka turned to her brother and Shmi snickered, sitting down on the couch, watching the scene unfold before her.
“What?” Anakin barked, clearly embarrassed.
Leia giggled. “They talked a lot . And daddy was getting all embarrassed and flushed and he would make her laugh and they were already making Christmas plans…”
Ahsoka chuckled. “It sounds serious already.”
“Alright, alright,” Anakin interrupted both of them. “You’re completely exaggerating. You, you little matchmaker, I want you upstairs to take a shower and get ready for bed,” he poked Leia’s side, prompting a fit of giggles.
“Daddy, stop, I’ll pee myself!” she shrieked, trying to swat him away. “Grandma, help!”
“Everyone, calm down,” Shmi scolded, moving between her son and granddaughter. “Leia, honey, I’ll help you get ready for bed, come on.”
Anakin released his daughter and Leia took her grandma’s hand. “I’ll be up in a few minutes,” he said as they went upstairs and noticed Ahsoka’s amused look. “What do you want, Snips?” He sighed.
“I’m curious about your daughter’s brother’s mother, that’s all,” she teased. “Especially if she’s coming over for Christmas.”
“It’s for the twins. You didn’t see Leia today, she was vibrating with her brother around. I don’t want to take that away from her. This is not about me.”
“Suuuuure,” his sister smirked. “So, what does ‘the prettiest’ lady Leia’s ever met look like?”
“Imagine Leia, but twenty years older.” Anakin shook his head. “It’s uncanny. It’s like they could actually be related. She is beautiful, I won’t say otherwise, but nothing will ever happen between us, Snips, we’re from two different worlds.”
“Oh, wow, total rom-com fodder,” Ashoka giggled. “Tell me more.”
“She’s a partner at a law firm on the Upper East Side. She lives in a huge townhouse and she is trying way too much to overcompensate with Luke,” he pointed out. “She’s having a rough time with him, he’s more difficult than Leia.”
“More difficult than Leia? How is that even possible?” His sister raised an eyebrow suspiciously. “I don’t buy it.”
“He doesn’t call her ‘mom’,” he started. “He’s very cold to her, indifferent. Leia was difficult, she did miss her brother a lot, but Luke was on another level. He has barely made friends. I think having Leia around will improve him greatly, but I can see how and why she’s struggling.”
“Yikes. Sounds bad. Maybe you guys should swap kids for a week,” Ahsoka joked.
“We’re choosing to have them together as much as possible,” he snorted.
“Yeah, that works too. Playdates always were fun.” Her emphasis on the second half of playdate was unmistakable.
"Please, I don't want Leia to have stories in her head that are not coming true. I don't want to disappoint her in any way." Anakin said a bit tired. "I am not her type. Trust me."
“You sell yourself short, big brother, you’re a catch.”
"Ahsoka, really, what do I have to offer a woman like that?" He shrugged.
“Well, you’re funny, and smart, and you’re really good with kids, and you’re cute,” she pointed out. “If you like her, is there really any harm in asking her out? Even once?”
"Yes, she might say no and we need to have a good relationship with her because of the twins," he replied stubbornly.
“What if she asked you out?”
“Why are you insisting on this so much? You never met her. I met her twice. It makes no sense.”
“Because Leia’s a good judge of character and bro,” Ahsoka clapped a hand on his shoulder as she leaned in to whisper, “you need to get laid. ”
“You are impossible, ” he scowled pulling away, blushing furiously. “I’m going to bed. You should too. You need to sleep, Ahsoka. Sleep. ” Anakin turned around and rushed upstairs as to not hear anything else about Padmé Naberrie. Everyone was grasping at straws and Christmas miracles and forgetting that in the real world, they weren’t a match.
Padmé knocked on Luke’s door gently. “I made hot cocoa,” she called, opening the door with her elbow and stepping inside. “You want some before you brush your teeth?”
“Yes, please,” he nodded as he raised his bright blue eyes from his coloring book. Giving her a tiny smile, he extended his hands to receive the mug. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Padmé said, sitting on the edge of his bed as she passed over the steaming drink. “Did you have fun today?”
“Yes!” He answered excitedly, sipping his cocoa. “Leia makes everything better. I thought I would never see her again so… thank you,” he said shyly, sipping the hot beverage again.
“You’re welcome.” Padmé placed a hand on his blond curls with a wistful little smile. “I was glad to finally see you happy.”
“Why wouldn’t I be? I was with my sister, I was complete,” he said, bouncing. “You promise she’s coming over next week? Maybe we can have a sleepover and instead of Sunday, they can come on Friday and stay until Monday and we get to be together longer, please? ”
“I do promise, she’s coming over,” Padmé hesitated. “I would have to talk about it with Anakin. I don’t know if they do church, but I do know that we have Temple on Saturday.”
“Can’t you go alone? I bet Anakin won’t mind keeping an eye on me!”
“I will talk to him. But I’m not making any promises.” Padmé swallowed and looked down at her own mug.
“I liked him, he was cool,” Luke admitted.
“You liked him too, didn’t you, Padmé?”
“Yes, I liked him, he was very nice,” she replied through gritted teeth. “But your behavior has been increasingly unacceptable, Luke. I have tried so hard for eight months, I have done everything I possibly could to make you happy, to try and make this your home. And I don’t think you understand how much it hurts every time you push me away, how much it hurt today to see you bond with him so easily.” A tear slipped down her cheek and into her cocoa. “There isn’t anything I want more than to be your mom, but clearly, you don’t want to be my son.”
Luke’s eyes widened and looked down at his mug, biting his lower lip. He didn’t know what to say, he didn’t… he didn’t think about any of that.
“I will call Anakin in the morning, but I think it’s for the best if we both go to bed now,” Padmé said, taking a slow breath as she stood. “Make sure you brush your teeth before you go to sleep. Goodnight, Luke.”
He didn’t reply or look up from the steaming cocoa. He just nodded and set the mug aside, leaving quietly to the bathroom, closing the door. Padmé headed to her own bedroom, pulling her phone out of her bathrobe pocket to stare at a picture of the twins and Anakin. “Pancakes tomorrow,” she mumbled as she turned the phone off and removed the robe. Apology pancakes for what was probably going to feature in Luke’s next therapy section.
As she slipped into bed, her last thought before she drifted off to sleep was why did I ever think I could do this?
The next morning, when she woke up, the first thing she saw was a drawing standing against the base of her lamp. It featured two people, a blonde-haired boy, and a tall, brown-haired woman. It was sunny and there was a badly drawn temple in the corner and there were a lot of flowers surrounding them. On top of the page and in blue crayon it said ‘I’m sorry. I'll go to Temple too.’ She smiled slightly and traced the people with her fingertips before stretching a little and swinging her feet out of bed. “Luke, I’m making pancakes for breakfast,” she called as she grabbed her robe and headed into the hall. “Do you want anything on them?”
Luke’s door opened and he peeked out shyly. “Blueberries? Please?”
“You got it, kiddo,” she said, reaching over to tousle his hair. “Get dressed for school and I’ll have them ready by then.”
“Thanks,” he beamed and surprised her by wrapping his arms around her waist, holding tight for a few seconds, before releasing her and returning to his bedroom, closing the door. Padmé stood in shock for a moment before managing to pull out her phone and power it up. Once it was on, she dialed the number that now happened to be first in her contacts alphabetically.
“Hey, Anakin, it’s Padmé calling. Luke wanted to make some changes to our weekend plans, any chance we can meet up for lunch to talk about it?”
“If you lived anywhere else, it wouldn’t be a problem, but you’re kind of two hours away and I do work long hours,” Anakin sighed.
“I can come to you.”
“Sure, when?” He sounded surprised.
“I’ll text you my shop’s address,” he replied.
“Great, thanks. I’ll see you then.” As she hung up and headed down to the kitchen, she didn’t see Luke punching the air triumphantly from the doorway of his room.
“Anakin, do you know why there’s a supermodel out at the front desk?” Kitster asked as he came into the backroom. “One who’s asking for you?”
Anakin looked up alarmed. “That’s probably Padmé. Shit. What time is it?”
He groaned. “Did she have to be more punctual?” He started to remove his overalls and headed for the bathroom. “Tell her I’ll be right out.”
“Okay, but don’t take too long, or I might have to sweep her off her feet,” Kitster teased. “She’s hot .”
“Don’t do anything to embarrass me, Kitster. Paws off of her,” Anakin growled as he slammed the bathroom door closed. Kitster rolled his eyes and headed back to the front of the shop.
“He’ll be out in a second. Are you here to get a car fixed? Fine-tune your engine?”
Padmé rolled her eyes. “I’m Luke’s mother, I’m here to coordinate with Anakin about some playdates.”
“Playdates? Ah. So that’s the current name adults are giving. Okay, I admire the creativity.”
“Luke is Leia’s twin brother.” Padmé folded her arms, unimpressed by the double entendres. “You do know your coworker has an adopted daughter, don’t you?”
“Yes. I know all about the little rugrat,” Kitster chuckled. “I am just teasing, my lady, I apologize if I have offended you.”
“Apology registered,” she said coolly. “But I hope you don’t do that to all your female clientele, that’s a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen.”
Kitster whistled softly and stepped back. “I’ll see if Anakin is ready.” He turned on his heel and made a beeline to the office and entered it as Anakin was leaving the bathroom, no traces of grease anywhere on his body. “She’s all yours,” he narrowed his eyes. “Feisty one.”
“Please don’t tell me you were yourself?” Anakin groaned, grabbing his jacket.
“It won’t happen again, she basically threatened to sue me,” Kitster huffed. “She cannot take a joke.”
“She’s a lawyer, they rarely can,” he sighed. “Tell Watto I’m doing my lunch hour, okay?”
“Yeah, go for it. Just don’t take too long, you know how he gets.”
“It’s a simple lunch, to discuss the twins’ encounter this weekend. I won’t take long. Thanks, Kitster,” he said and left the office. At the entrance of the shop, he could already see her, clothes and hair perfectly done. Everything about her was impeccable and a clear sign she didn’t belong anywhere in that shop. “Padmé. Sorry for making you wait. We can leave now.”
“You should talk to your boss about putting your coworker through a round of sensitivity training,” she said bluntly as they stepped out the door. “Flirting like that is not appropriate.”
“He means no harm, he’s actually a sweetheart,” Anakin said smoothly. “He never means to be inappropriate,” changing the subject, he looked around. “There’s a little diner nearby, the food is good and the service fast. What do you say?”
“Sounds wonderful,” she nodded. “Can we talk as we walk?”
“Please. I know you did a very long commute, but I don’t have a lot of time for lunch, so, yeah, talking and walking sounds great,” he nodded gratefully.
“Okay, good, lead the way.”
“He adores you,” she admitted, slightly bitter as she said it. “It kind of made something inside of me break last night, in front of him. I told him how much it hurt that he didn’t seem to want me to be his mom. He made me an apology drawing this morning, but now I don’t know how to feel about that. It feels like I guilted him into it.”
“He probably identified with me because of Leia, you shouldn’t read too much into it,” he said apologetically. “I don’t think he means to hurt you, it’s unintentional. He’s seven and he’s been hurting. It might have made him a little selfish on an emotional level, but I don’t think it’s irreversible. You didn’t guilt him into anything, I’m sure he felt bad for hurting you and wanted to apologize,” he said and wrapped an arm around her shoulders squeezing her gently. “You are a great mother, and he’ll realize it all by himself. By being open to him about your feelings, you’re allowing him to be honest about his, and maybe that’s what he needs. For you to be honest. Even if it hurts.” They reached the diner and he let her go in favor of opening the door to her. “After you.”
“Thanks.” She stepped inside and began unwinding the scarf around her neck. “Anyway, he wanted to invite you guys over for the full weekend, and I wasn’t sure about it, since Friday night is the start of our Sabbath, and I’ve been trying to get him used to it.”
"I work on Saturday, so we can only go after my shift is over."
“Anakin!” A booming voice from the kitchen interrupted them. “Is that you I see?”
"Yeah, Dex, how you doing?" Anakin grinned back at the man as he guided Padmé to a booth.
“Not too bad for the holidays.”
"Good. I'm glad business is going well, man, you deserve that," Anakin beamed. "We will have two specials, you know me, can't really get late or Watto will lose it," he said sitting down.
“You’re a regular,” Padmé observed as she took a seat.
"For many years. The food is amazing and Dex is a great man. He used to let me work some shifts here to help with my studies even though he didn't need the help," he said, smiling softly. "Leia adores him. He gives her extra fries every time she comes and always offers her a milkshake."
“And what is the house special, exactly?” She pulled off her brown coat, revealing an immaculate white blouse and silver pendant resting in the hollow of her throat.
"Burger, fries," he cringed. "Let me guess, you don't eat that kind of thing? Sorry, I'll just cancel your order and ask for a salad."
“You’re right, I am a vegetarian,” she admitted, “but don’t worry about it, we’re on a time limit, so I’ll just steal all your fries and make you buy me a milkshake.”
"Deal," he flushed. "I should have asked, I'm sorry. I'm not used to people having diet restrictions."
“It’s okay,” she reassured him. “I’ve been adjusting to that too, Luke’s a bit of a carnivore. I swear, the majority of his diet is just chicken nuggets and pizza.”
"Well, kids don't develop on lettuce."
“There are plenty of vegetarian options that aren’t lettuce, Anakin.”
"Sure, but if you try to give tofu to Leia, she will pack your bags and put you on the street curb," he snickered. "I have a friend, Satine, who by the way, you would like, and she tried to make her son and husband eat healthy. She caught them sneaking around behind her back, eating here at Dex before going home. It was the funniest thing. Leia was horrified, made me swear on my love for her I would not put her through that."
“Lovely.” Padmé rolled her eyes as a waitress brought them each a glass of water. “Can I please get a cup of coffee too?”
"It makes me feel guilty you came such a long way to have thirty, maximum forty-five minutes of lunch hour with me," he said apologetically.
“It’s okay. I get to set my own lunch hours and I can afford to work a little late, Luke has therapy directly after school,” she promised. “So, would you be open to a sleepover for the kids on Saturday night? You can join us too, if you want. I always reward Luke for getting through Shabbat with pizza and a movie night.”
"Hmm, it could be fun, and if you don't mind me staying, it would help with the logistics. Leia would like the extra time and my mom won't mind her skipping church on Sunday."
Anakin nodded. "Yeah. Positive."
“Okay, then you can come by any time after sunset.”
"Cool. I'll let Leia know when I get home. She'll be excited."
“I’m sure Luke will be too. Though a little disappointed that he doesn’t get the full weekend with her too.” Padmé’s eyes widened as the waitress returned with her coffee and two massive plates of burgers and fries. “Wow, that’s big.”
"Dex's special," Anakin shrugged with a smirk, popping a couple of fries into his mouth. "Maybe another weekend. I can either drop Leia off or you can leave Luke with us. It's something we'll manage with time."
“Hey, those are mine,” she sulked coyly, stealing a few fries off his plate and popping them in her mouth. “Oh, wow, those are good.”
"You have fries too, just don't eat the burger," he chuckled.
“We had a deal, you said I could have your fries,” Padmé argued, shaking her head. “I should’ve gotten it in writing.”
"You're the lawyer. But I think we can both share." Anakin replied and took a bite out of his burger.
“I guess so,” she agreed. “So, anything I should know before your arrival on Saturday?”
"No. No allergies. No special foods. We're really not that special," he shrugged. "They will probably spend all their time attached to the hip, so, I don't think there's much to prepare for."
"All of them. As long as it's pizza, we eat them," he chuckled. "Really, Padmé, you don't have to worry too much. And you don't need to overwork yourself to please Luke," he pointed out with a raised eyebrow.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
"That he says jump and you say how high," he raised his eyebrows. "You could have just called. You could have done things with a bit more ease. But you want it to work so strongly that fourteen hours after your talk, you're in Brooklyn, planning the weekend."
“He hasn’t called me Mom once in the eight months I’ve had him,” she muttered, taking a long drink of her coffee. “I’m at my wits’ end, Anakin.”
"I understand, but he's a kid and he's bound to push your boundaries if he notices you'll give in to anything he wants. Just because you came to Brooklyn for forty-five minutes to plan a weekend… He’s not going to call you mom for that. It takes time." He said carefully. "I believe that reuniting him with his sister was the best therapy for him. Leia told me how much he hated it. Maybe don't make him go. Let him have that choice now. You're trying too hard."
“Am I supposed to not try?”
"This is the third time I've seen you and I can already tell you're a control freak," he teased, rolling his eyes. "You need to let things flow."
“If I’m a control freak, do you really think I know how to do that?”
"When you're a parent, you have to learn. You can't control everything."
“Okay, I get it, I’m a terrible parent and you’re a natural,” she rolled her eyes, “message received.”
"That was everything I didn't say," he shook his head.
“You were thinking it, though.”
"No. I wasn't. I was just trying to help by giving some of the advice my mother gave me."
“Of course.” But as she said it, she glared down at the fries she was now shoveling into her mouth.
"What is it? What are you holding back?" He sighed, taking another bite.
“Everyone’s tried to help me for eight months, and nothing works.”
"Everyone else is not parenting your son's twin sister," he smiled at her sweetly, and she sighed.
“I still resent you for that a little bit.”
Anakin laughed and finished his burger. "You better finish the fries before they get cold. Careful not to stain that pristine blouse. I won't be held accountable for ruined clothing."
“I do know how to do laundry, you know,” she laughed back. “I’m not completely helpless.”
"I'm just saying. I don't want you to blame me for any stains. It's bad enough I've ruined two of Leia's sweaters with grease," he admitted with a chuckle.
“Bring the sweaters over, if you still have them. I bet I can get the stains out.”
"Oil is nearly impossible to remove. My mother tried every trick. Trust me it's hopeless."
“Aw, come on, let me try, I like a challenge.”
“I’ll see if they are still around,” he finished his burger and looked at the clock. “I’m sorry to cut our lunch short but I have to go back to work. We’ll work out the rest of the details over the phone. Is that alright?”
“Okay, you go ahead, I’ll finish up here,” she offered, “I have some time still. And I want one of those milkshakes.”
“Then let me pay for it. It was our deal,” he said, standing up. He leaned forward and kissed her cheek. “I’ll see you next Saturday, Padmé. Thank you for the company.”
Her hand flew up to her cheek as she blushed pink. “Thanks for meeting with me, Anakin.”
“Anytime,” he gave her a genuine, bright smile and headed to the cashier and paid for their meal and her milkshake, before leaving.
Chapter 3: A Christmas Sleepover
“You weren’t kidding about the house being big,” Leia whispered to Luke as they each pulled a slice of pizza from the box in front of them. “Padmé, can I see more of your house before we do the movie?”
“I can give her the tour!” Luke offered.
“Well,” Padmé hesitated for a moment, then nodded. “Just be careful in the nicer rooms, some of that stuff can’t be replaced if you break it.”
“Leia, please, be careful,” Anakin pleaded as he winced, thinking about his little hurricane.
“Of course I will be,” Leia huffed dramatically. “Come on, Daddy . I can be good when I want to be. And I’m not about to get uninvited from my brother’s house.”
“Oh, I know that,” he sighed. “Go on. Be careful you two. We need to leave for the movie in half an hour.”
“Yes, Daddy!” Leia shouted as Luke grabbed her hand and pulled her up the stairs.
“I love seeing them together,” Anakin chuckled. “How was the week?” He nudged Padmé.
“Well, instead of spending two hours a week in his therapist’s office, he now spends them on the couch here,” she deadpanned.
“And that’s bad because…?”
“He’s not using them to talk to me. He just plays his space games or draws.”
“I see,” he nodded thoughtfully. “Have you tried playing the game with him? Or drawing with him? Share his activities in general. That’s what I did with Leia in the beginning.”
“I’ve tried, he resists every time.”
Anakin sighed. “Do you want me to talk to him? I can try to discover why he resists so much. It’s honestly the only option I can think of at the moment, I pretty much ran out of advice.”
On the staircase, the twins hovered over the railing, eavesdropping. “You’re being mean,” Leia whispered.
Luke frowned and shrugged. “No, I’m not. She’s being dramatic.”
Her brother just glared at her and shrugged again. “We need to keep listening.
Leia’s eyes narrowed, but she leaned in to hear better. “You’re welcome to talk to him if you want to,” Padmé was saying, “but I’m this close to giving him the silent treatment.”
“Maybe not the silent treatment, but stop giving his behavior so much importance,” he rubbed her shoulder. “I’m sorry. I ended up with the easier twin. Leia adopted me way before I adopted her,” he chuckled.
“Yeah, I noticed.”
“You need to be nicer,” Leia whispered. “Let her Monopoly with you or something.”
“She’s boring, ” Luke snapped with a hiss.
“She always wants to talk about my feelings and she never does anything fun and when she tries, she sucks,” he scowled, turning around and climbing the rest of the stairs, frustrated. Leia chased after him, moving to block his path.
“Do you try? Do you talk to her? At all? She’s super nice, Luke. You could have a way worse mom.”
“She’s already getting tired of me. It’s going to be like that family that took us in last time. They get sick of putting up with us and give us back,” he made a face. “You’re lucky, Anakin doesn’t seem like that, but she will. I’m too imperfect. She’ll give me back. Just wait!” Luke scowled and brushed past her.
“What do you think will happen if she does give you back?” Leia retorted, chasing after him. “They’re not going to let Daddy adopt you, he doesn’t have enough money. You could get sent to Arizona, or Alaska, or somewhere else awful! And what happened to your plan? They’re not going to fall in love and get together if you’re distracting her like this!”
“I’ll run away,” Luke snapped. “I’ll run away and no one will adopt me. It’s better if she gives me up now than later. I knew I couldn’t be perfect all the time and I tried to adapt to the rules, but I can’t and maybe this way, it’s better. If I started calling her mom or if I got used to her, it would hurt more when she would eventually give me back.” Leia smacked him upside the head.
“You’re a dummy. If she was gonna give you back, she would have already,” she scolded.
“Leia, why don’t you go downstairs and keep Padmé company while I speak with Luke?” Anakin’s voice sounded behind them suddenly. Both twins jumped nervously, surprised at his presence.
“Okay, Daddy,” Leia stammered, hurrying past him and heading back towards the living room.
“Why don’t you show me your room, kiddo,” Anakin said, placing a hand on Luke’s shoulder. “I heard it’s all about space.”
“It’s over here,” Luke said nervously, shuffling towards the door and pushing it open for Anakin to see.
“Wow, it’s cool in here,” Anakin whistled and sat down on the bed. “Your mom really went all out for this room. It’s like NASA or a real astronaut’s room. Awesome,” he nodded with a comforting smile. “Come here,” he patted the spot next to him. “We need to talk for a few minutes.”
“How much did you hear?” Luke asked nervously as he sat down.
“Enough. You don’t have to be nervous, Luke, I’m not going to tell your mom,” Anakin said gently. “Why do you think Padmé would ever give up on you? Or give you back like you’re a broken present?”
“Others have,” Luke replied with a small shrug, kicking his feet.
Anakin sighed. People were monsters, they really were. “Padmé’s different, buddy. You know that, right? She would never do that to you.”
“I don’t know that,” Luke protested.
"Look at all that she has done for you," he pointed out softly. "Look at this room. How detailed everything is. How much do you think she dreamed about having you here? How about how much she fought to reunite you with Leia? It's not her fault that she couldn't do it. But she didn't stop trying until she put you two together. It's because of her effort Leia and I are here today. Think about all that she does to make you happy." Anakin pause giving him time to really understand his words. "Does that sound like someone who would just give up on you and turn you away?"
Luke grabbed his very ratty teddy bear from the pillow and hugged it tightly. “A lot of people are nice. But it was always just to make sure we behaved.”
"Is that why you misbehave?" Anakin asked.
“Maybe.” Luke tugged at the bear’s ear, then his own. “I don’t want a family that doesn’t include Leia.”
"Leia is not going anywhere. You are siblings and will always be siblings. You will always be family," Anakin reassured him. "It's okay to accept Padmé as your mom. You are not losing anything by doing so."
“But it’s not the same. We’re not together. We’ve always had the same parents."
"I don't know how I can help you with that particular issue," Anakin said delicately. "I know it's a change that you have to get used to, but you need to focus on one thing… you and Leia will never be separated again. No more foster homes. This is it. This is your family and yeah, right now we're a bit dysfunctional but give us time and we'll be a well-oiled machine."
Luke sighed. “Okay. I’ll,” he paused and swallowed, “I’ll try. But most of what she likes is so boring , she’s not cool like you.”
Anakin snorted, shaking his head. "Luke, it's up to you to teach her how to be cool," he said smugly. "She's your mom, you get to teach her a couple of things too. What would you like to do together?"
“I… I don’t know. My games are all for one person.”
“Then we need to find new games for two,” Anakin said with a smile. “Give her a chance, Luke. Tell her how you feel. The truth. She will be much more relieved and will be able to help you overcome those silly fears.”
“That’s what my therapist said before I stopped going.”
“See? Therapists are not so bad after all. They can say a thing or two right,” he chuckled. “Will you give her a chance?”
“Okay, but only if you convince her to let me have popcorn at the movies tonight.”
“I think I can do that,” Anakin nodded.
“She’s going to hate me, but alright, I think I can distract her enough for you to get some sugar,” Anakin laughed.
“If she’d hate you, you don’t have to do it,” Luke blurted, blue eyes suddenly wide with panic. “Just the popcorn is fine.”
“I’m just kidding, kiddo, we’ll be fine. You and Leia are on Christmas break and deserve some popcorn and candy and I can convince her to come around to the idea. I’m smooth like that,” Anakin winked. “Now let’s go, we’re going to be late.”
“Okay, I’m coming.”
“See? Tonight was amazing, wasn’t it?” Anakin said as he relaxed back on her comfortable, expensive couch with a knowing smirk.
“Except for the part where they both started crying,” Padmé retorted, coming over with two glasses and a bottle of red wine. “Who would’ve thought Luke would get so emotionally invested in Mary Poppins Returns? ”
“I just know I’m going to be sick of hearing ‘Trip A Little Light Fantastic’ by next week,” Anakin groaned. “But they had a great time. They’re sleeping like babies and we can have a much-deserved drink, please.”
“Indeed.” She poured out a glass for him, then one for herself. “The leftovers from the office holiday party. Cheers.”
“Cheers!” He raised his glass before taking a sip. “Hmm, this is good.”
“Good, because I need to finish it off,” she laughed, taking a drink of her own.
Anakin was nearly done with his glass when he decided to speak and break the comfortable silence they were in. “I found out what is wrong with Luke. Maybe I shouldn’t tell you. He should come forward himself, but I think if this was me and if you had found something about Leia, I would like you to tell me so…” he sighed, drinking the rest of his wine.
“Normally, I’d say don’t tell me,” Padmé said, leaning over to refill his glass before topping off her own, “because that’d feel like invading his privacy. But right now, I’m thinking, go ahead.”
“You’ve read their file. As I did. They’ve been in a lot of homes. Many failed adoptions,” he swirled his glass, watching the liquid move around. “He thinks you’re going to be like the people who came before. When it’s new and everything is good and shiny and then… then they are not willing to put up with mistakes and… give them back. Like they have some sort of warranty, I don’t know what’s wrong with people, really,” he grumbled, taking a sip. “He’s afraid if he’ll get attached, it won’t last.”
“I blame the Jedi Center,” she said, emphatically waving her finger as she downed her second glass. “Have you seen that home? It’s like they know nothing about children! So cold, and detached, I don’t know why they’re still allowed to operate!”
“I know, and I agree. But now you know. Luke just doesn’t want to get hurt again, and getting separated from his sister did not help his trauma. He’s misbehaving because he thinks if he puts you through the roughest of times, you’ll give in and be like everybody else. It’s what he expects. He got tired of behaving nicely and then, at the first mistake, he’s abandoned,” Anakin sighed, rubbing his temples. “Leia’s version of this was constant panic attacks.”
“Did they suggest therapy for her too?”
“They did,” he nodded slowly. But therapy is expensive. “However, Leia hated it. She’d been through therapy with the doctor they recommended from the Jedi Center and my mom said that a loving home and lots, and lots, and lots of patience would do its charm and it did.”
“Your mom sounds like a fucking saint.”
“She is,” Anakin laughed. “She put up with me and my difficult temper. Straightened out Ahsoka. Kept three jobs and a roof over our heads. Is the most badass grandmother and does not look a day over thirty. She’s amazing.”
“Okay, I’m calling bullshit on not looking older than thirty. There’s no way that’s true.”
Anakin grabbed the phone from the table and unlocked it. He gave Padmé a sideways glance before smirking and turning to his phone again. “Here,” he extended her the phone and took another sip of the wine. The photo was candid and taking in a living room, a lot of light and it shows a woman with loose, wavy brown hair and light brown eyes, a soft smile and a sense of elegance surrounded her. “That’s my mother.”
“Okay, don’t take this the wrong way, but how old did she have you?”
“Twenty,” he replied. “Accidental pregnancy. No father in the picture. She’s… a real hero.”
“Wow. Now I feel even more like an idiot.”
“Don’t be silly, we all have our struggles.”
“You’re just saying that.”
“No, I’m not,” he said quietly, with a small smile as he finished his glass and poured himself another one. “We all have different experiences.”
“Yeah, sure.” She took a drink straight from the bottle. “I think you’re making fun of me.”
“Do you know I graduated with honors from MIT with a degree in Mechanical Engineering?” He started, tilting his head. “I was twenty-two.”
“So how come you’re working as a mechanic for someone else in Brooklyn?”
“A couple of weeks before my graduation I started having fainting spells. I ignored them until I couldn’t anymore. I would say it’s stress, and I’m overworked, you know, the usual. It’s like my body was a car with all the warning lights turned on and I ignore them all,” he looked back at the glass. “I found out that I had leukemia and I needed to start chemo as soon as possible. We were way past alternative treatments. It cost me the job offer that would change my life, my dream job, to be able to create environmentally friendly mechanics,” he took a generous sip and looked up, smiling at her. “How’s that for a struggle?” He teased.
“Lifetime original movie,” she answered gravely.
He laughed. “I think there was a show about that,” he said lightheartedly. “Anyway, I was inactive for a year. I had chemo every fifteen days for six months. I was doing blood tests every week. I gave more blood than I had,” he snorted. “It was a pretty terrible year. I couldn’t work, my body couldn’t take it. I was sick all the time and I thought that was it for me. Fortunately, I was one of the lucky few. I entered remission and have been there ever since. But it knocked my life out of balance. After I was ‘fit’ to find and do a job, I couldn’t be ambitious. Cancer treatment doesn’t come cheap and there were bills to pay. I’d worked for Watto before, I knew my way around and… yeah, that’s where I’ve been,” Anakin relaxed back, already feeling the alcohol effect. “If it wasn’t for Ben and Satine’s network, I would have never gotten Leia. You live here and they didn’t let you take two. Imagine me ! I can barely afford to raise one and they knew it, that’s why they tried to take her.”
“I’m trying, but my brain isn’t working good right now,” Padmé admitted. “But I think the movie of your life would win a lotta Oscars.”
“If they didn’t cast Leonardo DiCaprio to play little old me,” he chuckled.
“He’s got an Oscar now!”
“Yeah, but it’s cursed. After he got that thing, the world went to shit,” Anakin argued. “There was a reason he hadn’t won. It would upset the balance of things.” He sipped the rest of his wine. “And it did,” he stage-whispered.
“So maybe the answer is to get Amy Adams an Oscar and that’ll restore balance.”
“Is that the woman from Now You See Me movie?” Anakin tilted his head.
“Nonono, I’m talking about the lady from Enchanted. Y’know, that’s how you knoooow,” she warbled out the song lyric clumsily, spreading her arms out.
“Isn’t that the same person?” Anakin pointed out. “You’re drunk, by the way. You lightweight.”
“Whaddaya gonna do about it if I am?”
“Given that this is your house and this is your expensive couch where you are spilling wine… basically get drunk with you,” Anakin laughed.
“I’m not spilling wine!”
He pointed at the spot on the cushion with a large stain on it. “Unless Luke’s drinking wine, I think that was you.”
“Aw, fuck.” She blushed.
“You’re cute when you curse. You lose the whole…” He waved at her in general, “I am a big shot lawyer, look at my fine pressed clothes and my hair. My hair is in place. All of them.”
“Oh, really, you’re one to talk, Mister grease-covered bad boy with a heart of gold mechanic.”
“And bad boys are just your type, aren’t they, Ms. I-am-Perfect?” He rolled his eyes, drinking the rest of his wine and when he grabbed the bottle, it was empty. “Well, shoot.”
“My past relationships suggest otherwise.”
“That’s why they were so successful,” he quipped right back.
“Hey, I was attracted to them!”
Anakin raised one eyebrow. “Bullshit. You were attracted to the idea of them, I’m sure. They were probably like… the perfect person to bring home and introduce to mom and dad. Like… look at the man that I found that will take care of me. He’s perfect and like me, not a hair out of place and fine pressed clothes,” he teased, mimicking her voice at the end.
“Oh, yeah, well who did you bring home, different shades of Sandy from Grease? ”
“No, no,” he shook his head. “Even better,” he nodded solemnly. “ Leukemia.” He wiggled his eyebrows.
“And the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress will go to Meryl Streep for that.”
“Joke all you want. My little friend left me breathless all the time. I bet none of your previous boyfriends ever left you breathless with a kiss,” he tutted, chewing the inside of his cheek.
“Maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t. But leukemia never painted you naked,” she blurted.
“Please don’t tell me that’s the definition of kinky to you, that is just sad .”
“I don’t see how my kinks are your business.”
“Ooh, Ms. Naberrie, do you have dirty fantasies to fulfill?” He gasped, faking dramatism. “Now I’m curious. The good girls always have the dirtiest kinks.”
“Shut up.” The blush was getting redder.
"There is something there," he gasped as he got close to her, so close she could smell his cologne and the wine on his breath. The sweatshirt he wore stretched around his muscles, showing just how defined he was. "Tell me, you're leaving me all hot and bothered, come on."
“I really shouldn’t.”
"I'll make you breathless if you tell me," he offered. He was drunk. She was drunk. Somehow, during their conversation, that had happened and now here they were. Close enough to smell each other's perfume, wine clouding their judgment and not a care in the world.
“Maybe I won’t tell you until you show me your tricks,” she purred, moving a little closer.
He stared at her with an intense, dark blue gaze before his eyes flickered down to her lips and back at her flushed cheeks. "Is that a dare?" He asked huskily.
“Do you want it to be?"
He didn't think twice before his lips were on hers and he was kissing her passionately, sighing into her mouth and pushing her down on the couch. Her lips were soft and he felt like he had a taste of paradise. One of her legs wrapped around his waist as she pushed upwards against him, her tongue darting past her lips to brush against his. He groaned, opening his mouth to her, letting their tongues meet in discovery of each other. His hand touched her knee and ran up her hip to cup her backside and he had to think really hard about the last time he felt this aroused by a woman.
“Oh, fuck,” she muttered, rubbing her hips frantically against his, “fuck, Anakin...”
He moaned, rocking his hips against her. She would definitely be able to tell just what she did to him. It was impossible to hide. He broke their kiss to trail his lips over her jawline, down her neck and collarbone. His tongue darted between the valley of her breasts, he could only deduce he was addicted to the taste of her skin. When did that happen?
“Mom?” A small voice came from the top of the stairs and Padmé snapped up so fast that her head knocked against Anakin’s, inadvertently pushing him off the couch.
“I’m sorry!” she whispered in a panic.
"Go," was all he groaned turning around to gather some sense of self-control. That had hurt. Not only was the mood killed and he needed a cold shower, but he was going to have a bump in his forehead in the morning.
Hastily readjusting her sweater, Padmé scrambled off the couch, the adrenaline of what had just happened mixing with the excitement of finally, finally, finally hearing her son call her Mom . “What is it, Luke?”
“Me and Leia can’t sleep.”
“Do you want me to get you a glass of water?” Padmé offered, nervously glancing back at Anakin who was still hunched on the ground.
"Can you read us a story and get us a glass of water?" He asked, blue eyes staring at her pleadingly.
“Of course, sweetie. Go back to your room and I’ll be there in a minute.” Luke nodded and with a smile, ran back to his room. Padmé hurried into the kitchen, grabbing two plastic cups and filling them up with water. “Are you okay?” she asked Anakin. “I’m so sorry about that, hang on.” She paused to open the fridge and grab an ice pack, passing it over to him. “Here.”
"Everything hurts. Literally," he muttered, sitting on the couch half-bent on himself. "But it was worth it," he accepted the ice pack gladly. "He called you Mom."
“He did,” she agreed, nodding slowly. “I, um, I should go up there. Right?”
"If you stay down here one more minute, I might do something irresponsible, so please go," he snorted and placed the ice pack against his forehead, even though he needed it much lower. Padmé flushed red and hurried up the stairs with the two glasses of water, heading straight for Luke’s room.
“Hey, I’m here. Everything okay?”
“You look sweaty,” Leia remarked from her air mattress on the ground.
"And red," Luke added as he accepted his glass.
“I’m just a little warm, that’s all,” Padmé protested. “And you two didn’t answer my question, how come you can’t sleep?”
"I don't have a Christmas tree."
"He doesn't have a Christmas tree."
“You said you didn’t want to do Christmas,” Padmé pointed out, sitting at the edge of Luke’s bed.
"It would be my first without Leia and it hurt," Luke confessed quietly. "I didn't want more reminders she wasn't here. And you don't celebrate it. I didn't… I didn't want to impose." He shrugged, flushing.
"But I'm here now," Leia beamed. "That is what we can do tomorrow. Go buy Christmas decorations and a tree and make this house Christmassy."
“Sounds like a lot of work.”
"We have Daddy. He's super strong." Leia said confidently, drinking her water.
"Can we do it?" Luke asked. "Please?" He added. "Mom."
“Let me sleep on it, and we’ll talk about it in the morning,” she said. “You two little munchkins lie back for storytime now. You need to sleep.” They both giggled but did as they were told and got comfortable in their beds. “Once upon a time…”
“I still think a fake tree is worth considering,” Padmé muttered as the twins ran back and forth between the rows of evergreens in the car lot. “Remind me why we’re out in the cold at ten in the morning?”
"They want a tree. You need a tree." Anakin chuckled. "And Luke called you Mom," he added softly.
"He could have done it at a better time, though," he muttered, frustration filling his voice. Not even the coldest of shoulders could ease the throbbing he felt. He had to satisfy himself in order to sleep and think straight.
“About that, Anakin.”
He spoke without letting her speak. "I know what you're going to say. We were drunk. We got stupid and horny. It's over now, don't worry. I'm not expecting anything."
“Maybe I don’t want it to be over,” she said bluntly.
"What?" He asked, surprised. "You don't?"
“I know we were drunk, and we got stupid and horny, but it still felt really good. Better than I’ve felt in a really long time. I didn’t want it to stop.” She tugged her checked scarf up around her cheeks, shielding against the wind as much as her flushing cheeks.
"Oh, I didn't want it to end either. I still don't. But I… The twins," he waved at them, running in between the trees. "I live in Brooklyn. You're on the Upper East Side. I'm a mechanic that spends half of his life getting grease out of his clothes. You're a partner. At a law firm. With impeccable and usually white clothing."
“I can wear black.”
"There's over seventy-five percent of a chance that I can't give you kids. Natural ones." He blurted out.
“Is there something wrong with the kids we have now?”
"No." He frowned.
“Then I don’t see why that’s an issue. Anakin, however much it makes me sound like a high schooler, do you like me?”
"I do, but—"
“I like you too,” she cut him off. “And I would like to see more of you. Outside of raising our kids.”
"You can have anyone. You're choosing some poor, grease-covered mechanic?" He raised his eyebrows.
“I’m choosing a guy I know to be smart, funny, kind, and good with kids.”
"Even if he stands out like a sore thumb in your lifestyle?" He shook his head, amused.
“Anakin, stop being an ass.”
"Oh, come on, I can never be as good of an ass as yours."
“Oh, my God.” She rolled her eyes. “Don’t.”
"What? I thought you wanted to see me besides raising our kids," he said before fake gasping. "Do you just want me for my body?"
What they weren't seeing was that, behind a tree, their two troublemakers were watching with rapid attention their banter and pretty heavy flirting. The twins exchanged a glance, beaming with happiness.
“No, I want to be able to kick your ass in laser tag too.”
"I know you are an overachiever. I didn't think of you as delusional," he took a step closer to her. "I'm sort of unbeatable and you suck at laser tag, Ms. Naberrie."
“I do not! You cheat, Mr. Skywalker,” she retorted, glaring up at him.
He smirked down at her, eyes twinkling. "You wanna kiss me, don't you?"
“Maybe I do, but what if the twins see?”
Anakin raised his head and looked around. "They're down there, bothering a worker."
“We can’t let them know about this. Not yet.”
"Agreed," he smiled, nodding.
“Think we can pull this off?”
"We can definitely try. I'm up for it if you are."
“Then let’s do it.”
He glanced at the twins again and made sure they were still chatting with the worker before he leaned down and kissed her, sighing at the contact. God, he wanted her. Padmé leaned into the kiss, moaning slightly as she did so.
" I can get my sister to babysit them both,” he suggested as he pulled back. “We say we have to work. I just need you. God, I've been going crazy."
“How fast can she get here?”
"She came with friends to see Wicked on Broadway. If you allow them in the house, they are the perfect distraction and we could slip out."
“Do it. I’m going to see about that tree and the twins now.”
Anakin grinned as he took out of his phone. "As you wish."
"What do they mean they have to work?" Luke whispered to his sister as they unpacked the Christmas decorations.
"Dummy, they don't really have to work," Leia giggled carefully placing snowflake ornaments on the table. "I think they want to be alone. Like grown-up alone. Which is good for us."
"I thought it would take longer," Luke's blue eyes sparkled.
"It's Christmas. Everything is better at Christmas."
“What are you guys whispering about?” Ahsoka asked, walking past them with a string of fairy lights to hang on the mantle.
“Noooothing,” the twins said in unison.
“Yeah, okay.” The college student rolled her eyes.
"Do you think they are in love?" Luke whispered to his sister.
"They better be. I am not accepting anyone else," Leia narrowed her eyes.
"Yeah, I don't see myself liking any other guy either. It's Anakin or no one."
"Hey, what are those two conspiring over?" Barriss asked Ahsoka as she helped with the lights.
"Those two little devils are playing cupid with their parents," Ahsoka snickered. "And trying to be coy about it."
"Judging by the looks your brother was throwing Ms. Naberrie, I don't think they have a lot of matchmaking to do, though," Barriss chuckled.
"True. There are some things you just know. I guess they are like that," Ahsoka said. "Anakin deserves to be happy after everything he went through and she looks like a good person."
"She's spending Christmas with you guys, isn't she?" Barriss questioned.
Ahsoka nodded. "Yep. If she survives the Skywalker Christmas, she's ready to be part of the family."
“So, when do I get my invitation to Skywalker Christmas?” her friend teased.
"Anytime you want to ditch your family and come spend Christmas with mine you're welcome to. Mom adores you. There's always a seat on the table for you," Ahsoka replied.
“I might just take you up on that, Tano.”
Ahsoka beamed. "Perfect." She turned around. "Alright, you two munchkins. Time to trim the tree!"
“Hey, Anakin?” Padmé asked, staring up at the ceiling as she caught her breath.
"Yeah?" He asked, breathless, a thin layer of sweat covering his body as evidence of the past couple of hours.
“You know that thing in the movies where, at moments like this, they’re smoking to show how good it was? I kind of want a cigarette right now.”
He actually laughed out loud. "You're unbelievable."
“Right back at you, Mr. Skywalker.”
"We should totally do that again. Just to see if we're really that good," he smirked. "You know a thing or two, Ms. Naberrie."
“What about the kids?” she asked, rolling on her side to look at him. “Don’t you think they’ll be wondering about us by now?”
"Ahsoka knows how to entertain a crowd," he brushed his lips underneath her jaw. "Besides, Leia and I are leaving after dinner. We should make the most of our time right now."
“Our time having sex on the floor of my office, you mean.”
"We can have it on the desk or against the window if the floor is not good enough anymore," he whispered teasingly.
“I still cannot believe you talked me into this.”
"Oh, please, baby, it was either your office or roaming around town searching for a hotel and we really did not have the time," he kissed the sensitive spot on her neck.
“ Oh my GOD,” she shrieked, squirming in delight. “Anakin!”
He chuckled against her skin, hands roaming her naked curves. “One more round before we return to our kids?” Anakin whispered in her ear.
“Only if I get to be in charge,” she countered, eyes gleaming savagely.
“It would be my absolute pleasure,” he replied, giving her a chaste kiss on the lips.
“When can I start decorating the gingerbread house?” Leia pouted and Anakin laughed, kissing her curls.
“When Luke gets here, sweetheart,” he replied.
“They are taking so long,” Leia complained. “I want to decorate the gingerbread house and drink hot cocoa from grandma.”
“Padmé texted me, they are a few minutes away. Be more patient, Princess.”
“Yeah, waiting for something makes it that much more fun when it finally happens,” Ahsoka added cheerfully. “Like with how long it took Bariss to finally ask me out.”
“I’m happy that it happened,” Anakin said amused. “You two were dancing around each other for months. I can’t believe mom won the bet,” he muttered the last part bitterly.
“I know my children,” Shmi teased. “I can’t believe either of you believes you can keep secrets from me. Or win bets against me.”
“ I know better than to do bets,” Ahsoka retorted snidely. “Anakin’s the one who never learns.”
Anakin just stuck his tongue out and huffed. “Mother knows best, I know. It’s like a Disney song, or whatever.”
“Grandma’s not evil though,” Leia pointed out as the buzzer at the door went off. “They’re here! They’re here!” She shot up, charging straight for the door, nearly tripping over the pile of presents next to their tree as she went.
“Slow down, munchkin,” Ahsoka scolded.
“I’ll open,” Anakin said, excitedly following his daughter to the door, so he could open it. It had been two weeks since he and Padmé sort of started seeing each other and he had been waiting for this night ever since.
“Hey,” Padmé said as the door opened, her arms shifting around a large glass container. “I hope you don’t mind, I brought a baked brie as a thank you for having us.”
“And I have the presents!” Luke added, rushing in with his arms full of bags. “Merry Christmas!”
“Merry Christmas,” Leia laughed and helped her brother with the bags.
“You didn’t have to,” Anakin said as he helped Padmé with the container. “We have enough food to feed a battalion, but come in, come in, it’s freezing outside.”
“I wanted to, it was no trouble.” Padmé stepped through the door and let Anakin close it. “It’s one of the few things I can actually make without Luke giving me grief.”
“Mom’s a really bad cook,” Luke informed Shmi and Ahsoka bluntly.
“Dad’s really great,” Leia retorted. “Grandma taught him well.”
“Maybe you should give Ms. Naberrie some lessons, bro,” Ahsoka teased as she ruffled Luke’s hair and kissed his forehead.
“What are you all doing in the hallway?” Shmi complained. “To the living room, go on, go!”
Everyone shuffled into the warm living room, heavily decorated with lights, a huge tree on the corner, presents all around and a table set for six.
"Wow, this is…" Luke started. "This is Christmas."
"Yep," Leia laughed and set their presents near the others. "Christmas is big here."
“I can see that,” Padmé remarked, setting her brie down on the table. “Lovely to meet you, Ms. Skywalker.”
“And to meet you, Padmé,” Shmi replied. “I’ve heard quite a bit about you from my granddaughter.”
"All good things, I swear," Leia beamed.
"Leia sort of can't stop talking about you," Anakin snorted as he places an arm around Luke’s shoulders.
“Is that so?” Padmé smiled. “Well, hopefully, your opinion does not change after eating my cooking.”
"You should be prepared for that," Luke warned.
"So I really liked Padmé," Leia blushed. "I wasn't the only one," she gave her Dad a knowing look.
"Who wants hot cocoa?" Shmi asked, clapping her hands.
"Me!" The twins shouted.
“I would, but first I need to use your bathroom, please.”
"I'll show you," Anakin offered as Shmi redirected the twins to the kitchen and Ahsoka followed them, not before throwing her brother a smirk.
“Are we… doing a bad job of hiding this?” Padmé whispered.
"My family is impossible to be discreet. I want to say we've been doing a good job but we have two very observant kids," Anakin shook his head, mentioning for them to go upstairs.
“That we do. Also, from the way you talked about it, I would’ve thought your apartment would be much smaller,” Padmé teased. “I realize my townhouse is a bit much, but your place is really nice.”
"It is. I did some remodeling myself and before you go to the bathroom, I want to show you something," he took her hand and entered his bedroom, closing the door. "I sort of got an early Christmas present and I wanted to share it with you."
“Ani, we can’t have sex right now,” she scolded, scandalized.
"Oh, relax, I'm not thinking about that," he snickered and grabbed a letter, handing it to her. "This is what I want to show you. Sex can come after everyone is sleeping."
“You have a pen pal?” she asked, quirking an eyebrow as she took the letter. “Dear Mr. Skywalker…” her eyes widened as she read the rest. “Oh, wow, Ani, really?”
"Yep. I have a patent. A profitable one. This was my thesis research and I finally, finally, got the confirmation that this is mine. This work is mine for the world to know,” he beamed with happiness. “And there's a company interested in hiring me for their R&D department, focusing on eco-friendly engineering. They made a proposal… and it's good. I never saw so many zeros and honestly, it would give me such incredible stability and I could give Leia so much more ."
“That’s amazing!” She looked up at him worriedly. “Wait, you’re not about to tell me it’s in Silicon Valley, are you? Because if so, I’m going to be so mad.”
"No, I would never do that to Leia.” Or to us. Whatever ‘us’ is. “It’s in Manhattan. Which means we might have to move closer. The commute will be too long from Brooklyn. But I will be doing what I love. I get to research ways to avoid pollution and make a difference."
“If you need help finding a place, I have lsome friends in real estate,” she offered excitedly. “Where’s your office? Tell me everything. Or wait, don’t, I’m sure you want to tell everyone over dinner.”
"Mom and Ahsoka already know. I haven't told Leia yet, though," he searched around his phone. "Here's the address. They were the same company I was supposed to work for after leaving MIT."
“Oh, it’s in the Flatiron District,” she mused, clearly impressed. “I thought Silicon Alley was basically dead, but that’s great. I think that’d put you within a half an hour of us.”
"That will definitely make our lives easier," he quipped, wrapping his arms around her waist. "I will accept the help. I'm thinking of an apartment for Leia and me, and we can see about enrolling her in Luke’s school."
“He’ll be thrilled, I know it.”
"I think Leia will miss Amee, though, she has been very supportive since she was placed with me," Anakin pointed out. "But the fact that she can be with her brother every day will make all the changes worth it."
“It will,” she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him briefly. “Now you really should get back to everyone, and I really do need to use the bathroom. Where is it?”
"Next door to the left," he kissed her forehead, letting her go. "I'll wait downstairs."
“Don’t let anything start without me.”
"Never. I want you to have the full, uncut experience of Christmas." Anakin winked and left the room, going downstairs to find the twins hunched together with their steaming cups of cocoa, whispering. "What are you two conspiring about?"
“What’s in our presents,” Leia said a little too quickly. “I’m trying to figure out if you got us a kitty.”
"I guess we have to wait. Do you like kitties, Luke?" Anakin said, sitting next to them. "Or you're more of a dog person?"
“I like ‘em both,” Luke said brightly. “I like all animals, I think I wanna run a pet store when I grow up.”
“That sounds fun,” Ahsoka mused. “But also a lot of work.”
"I wanna make a difference," Leia said. "Like a real difference. Still figuring how, but I'll get there."
Anakin smiled proudly and kissed the top of her head.
“I’m sure you’ll find something wonderful,” Shmi promised as Padmé emerged from the hallway. “Nose powdered, dear?”
“Yes, thank you.” Padmé took a seat on the couch. “So how does this work? Free for all? Or do you have a system?”
"First, we have dinner," Anakin explained. "Then we have a couple of board games to play and we will only open the presents after midnight."
“Noooooooo!” the twins wailed in unison.
"They are right, presents are just for tomorrow morning, Ani," Shmi said with a smirk.
“I thought Santa Claus has to come before presents can happen, shouldn’t the twins be asleep for that?” Padmé asked.
"Padmé, Santa Claus didn't really exist at the center. We know it's not real," Leia pointed out. "So, yeah—"
"We don't believe in Santa," Luke finished with a shrug.
“Oh.” Padmé looked away guiltily. “So, I guess Anakin dressing up in the big red suit is out of the question?”
Ahsoka snorted. “Oh, God, I wish we’d thought of that.”
"Maybe one day we'll need him to dress as Santa, you know, for someone who believes in Santa," Leia said with a nonchalant shrug.
"Red is not my color," Anakin chuckled.
"We do, however, believe in Christmas miracles." Luke beamed. "After all, Leia and I are together. And we thought it would never happen again."
‘Can I tell them?’ Padmé mouthed to Anakin.
'You sure?' He mouthed back. She nodded slowly, then looked back at the twins.
“It’s possible that you two could be together a lot more.”
The twins exchanged a hopeful glance." Because…?" Luke prompted.
"You two are together and we both got our wish? Again?" Leia blurted out again. "Because, like, we're not idiots, you know?"
Padmé choked on the sip of hot chocolate she’d been taking, coughing as Ahsoka pounded her back to help her breathe. Anakin pursed his lips, trying not to be amused.
"Actually honey, I got a job in Manhattan and we're moving there in January," Anakin started, smiling softly. "You'll be applying to go to the same school as Luke. Padmé is helping us hunt for an apartment."
"That's why?" Luke whispered, looking crestfallen.
"That's the only reason?" Leia narrowed her eyes.
"Mom?" Luke pressed, nervously.
“Luke, Anakin and I have only known each other for a few weeks, people generally don’t move in together that quickly, regardless of their relationship status,” Padmé said slowly, clearly using the voice she reserved for court appearances.
"Oh," he whispered, looking at his hot chocolate. Leia frowned and looked away.
"That's mean, you two," Ahsoka mumbled, shaking her head with a sigh and rolled her eyes.
"Congratulations on your new job, daddy," Leia mumbled sadly.
“It’ll be in a much nicer part of town,” Padmé pointed out. “And it will be easier for the two of you to spend time together after school.”
“Yeah, it’s going to be cool,” Luke nodded, but he was clearly disappointed.
“I’m hungry,” Leia complained, standing up and going to her grandma. “Can we eat, grandma, please?”
“The turkey’s not quite done yet, honey, but you can try Padmé’s brie.”
“Okay, I guess,” she sighed. “Can we play a game until dinner is ready?”
Anakin glanced at Padmé as Ahsoka agreed to about the game and took the twins to choose one from her bedroom. Shmi made some comment about how she needed to check on dinner and left as well.“Were we mean?”
“Maybe a little? I didn’t know they knew.”
“I guess we haven’t been that discreet,” Anakin pointed out.
“So maybe we should come clean at dinner?”
“They’re going to hate us a little bit, but on the other hand, we get to spend the night together without having to sneak around,” Anakin chuckled
“You are unbelievable,” she shook her head. “But I’m worried telling them will make them get impatient. They’re kids, for all we know, they think of us as a Disney movie.”
“We need to explain to them, carefully, what the next steps are,” Anakin stated. “What they can expect and what they can’t rush.”
“You think we can do it?
“I would be lying if I said that we can do it, because we don’t know. What I know is that we have very strong reasons to do it and to be good at it,” he said, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.
“You could, you know,” she mumbled, flushing at the skin to skin contact. “If you wanted to. You could move into my house.”
“I could, but as great as these two weeks have been… it has only been two weeks and I want to enjoy the blossoming of our relationship before we drive each other mad,” he pointed out.
“You have a point.”
“I don’t want to ruin us before we have a real chance.”
“I understand, Ani, really, I do.” She took his hand and squeezed it. “And I’ll respect your wishes. But I also believe we already have a real chance. If nothing else, we have a very determined cheerleading squad.”
“I know, it’s what makes everything so worth it,” he leaned forward to kiss the corner of her lips.
Anakin raised his head, sleepily, his arm still around Padmé. When it registered in his brain that his daughter and her brother were standing at the bottom of his bed, with a breakfast tray, his eyes widened as he realized neither he nor Padmé, were dressed.
“Good morning, guys,” he said softly as he tugged the covers up. “Breakfast in bed?”
“It’s all vegetarian except the bacon,” Luke said proudly.
“That’s great, sweetie.” Padmé ducked under the covers to find Anakin’s discarded t-shirt and pull it over her head. “Thank you.”
“This is nice of you two,” Anakin searched for his briefs somewhere inside the bed.
“Are you two okay?” Luke asked as he sat on the bed with Leia.
Anakin nodded as he worked to put his briefs on. “Yep. Why?”
“You’re acting weird,” Leia said bluntly. “Kind of like you did last night.”
“No, we’re good,” Anakin took a piece of bacon and ate it. “Very happy that you two understood our relationship and how it’s going to work.”
“It was very mature,” Padmé added, resurfacing to take one of the pieces of French toast. “Thank you.”
“That’s Daddy’s shirt,” Leia observed.
“I forgot my own pajamas,” Padmé lied smoothly. “He let me borrow this.”
“We should eat if we want to open all the presents before lunch,” Anakin smiled. “Then maybe we can all go to Central Park and do some ice skating, what do you two say?”
“I can’t skate,” Luke answered. “Can we go for a ride in a horse carriage instead?”
“If we’re all in agreement, yes. We can,” Anakin nodded.
“Sounds like fun to me,” Padmé said, finishing off her toast. “How about you guys go ahead, we’ll be right behind you.”
“Why can’t you just finish eating with us in the room?” Leia asked suspiciously.
“Well, you can open your presents faster if you go into the living room and start sorting—” The twins were rushing out of the room before she could finish the sentence. “Okay, I need pants. Or a robe. Something so that I’m not flashing my privates to the kids and your family.”
"You can wear my things, first drawer," he said with a chuckle, leaving the bed and heading to the dresser. "Next time, we should lock the doors. Or get some clothes on before drifting off to sleep. I get the feeling this won't be the last time." He grabbed his MIT sweatshirt and some pajama pants, and handed it to her. "Here. These should do."
“Thank you,” she groaned a little as she pulled on the pants, then the sweatshirt. “That was mortifying.”
“They are more perceptive than we realize,” Anakin chuckled as he pulled out some pants and a sweatshirt for himself. “I’m glad we don’t have to hide anymore,” he whispered, climbing in the bed and placing a chaste kiss on her lips before grabbing a piece of bacon and placing it in his mouth.
“You’re insatiable,” Padmé laughed. “We should bring the tray with us and keep eating in the living room. I’m sure the kids want to start as soon as possible.”
“I bet they do. I hope the kitten is already prepared. Ahsoka has been hiding it in her bedroom,” Anakin said. “We got it from the shelter a couple of days ago and we didn’t want to ruin the surprise.”
“I hope Luke doesn’t get too attached, or we might be negotiating a custody agreement,” joked Padmé, grabbing the breakfast tray as they headed towards the living room. Sure enough, the twins were sitting in front of the tree, carefully sorting through the presents for ones that bore their names. “Hard at work, are we?”
“Can we open them now?” Leia whined. “We’ve been waiting forever. ”
“It’s been five minutes,” Ahsoka corrected with a snicker from the couch. “Maybe ten, if we’re being really generous.”
"We'll each open one, alright?" Shmi said. “So it's fair for everybody."
"Who opens first?" Luke asked.
“How about the two of you?” offered Padmé. “Both of you pick one.”
They each reached eagerly for the biggest box they had on their pile. "I can't believe we have so many," Leia marveled.
“On three?” Luke suggested, pulling at a corner. “One.”
“Three.” The twins tore away the wrapping paper in a frenzy.
Anakin laughed watching them shred the paper with an eagerness and a childlike glee of children who you could tell were not used to be pampered on Christmas. Leia received an entire new kit for school, from Shmi, that had crayons, pencils, coloring paper, a new backpack, new notebooks, everything. Luke had gotten a trio of stuffed animals, a penguin, a fox, and an elephant.
“They’re adoptions,” Padmé explained. “Each of those animals represents a real one that is being taken care of in your name.”
"At the Zoo? Can I visit them one day?" Luke asked eagerly.
“No, honey, they’re in wildlife preserves across the world, but we can absolutely go to the zoo once it gets a little warmer,” Padmé promised.
"It's awesome, thank you, Mom," Luke beamed, and Padmé felt the same little warm bubble in her chest that always came from her son calling her that.
“You’re welcome, Luke.”
“I’m gonna crush the new year!” Leia predicted, modeling her new backpack. “Thanks, Grandma!”
"Anything that I can do to help you make the difference, sweetheart," Shmi grinned.
“You two lovebirds should go next,” Ahsoka suggested teasingly.
"I don't mind," Anakin said gleefully as Leia handed him a medium-sized box.
"That's from me and you're welcome," Ahsoka said smugly.
"You didn't," he widened his eyes.
"You're a new Dad, you need to have style," Ahsoka shrugged with a grin and Anakin, much in the twins’ style, tore the paper away to open the box and find a beautiful, black leather jacket. "I think I got the size right."
"Snips, this is amazing, thank you," Anakin moved forward to hug his little sister. "You didn't have to spend so much."
"You deserve it, Skyguy," she grinned.
“Very nice style too,” Padmé added. “Slick, cool, perfect for Anakin.”
"Open yours," Anakin nudged her as Leia passed over a smaller box. Unlike everyone else, Padmé unwrapped her gift very neatly, sliding her pinkies under the seams and carefully prying off the tape before popping open the box lid.
“Oh, it’s lovely,” she exhaled, lifting out the silver chain and pendant. “And such a unique design, thank you.”
"It symbolizes motherhood," Anakin beamed. "It's a family heirloom, I think it suits you. To celebrate your new role," he winked at Luke, who grinned and nodded.
“An heirloom,” Padmé repeated, eyes wide. “Are you sure ? I mean, I’m sure that someone in your family will need it down the line—”
“Just take it,” Leia scoffed. “You’re part of the family, you’re my brother’s mom. Put it on her, Daddy!”
Anakin smiled and took the necklace to wrap it around her neck and close the clasp. "There. It's perfect."
“Thank you,” Padmé smiled softly at him. “I’ll treasure it.” Anakin smiled and kissed her cheek.
“Moooom, this one is moving,” Luke said nervously, pointing at a box that was rocking back and forth. “I’m kind of scared.”
Leia gasped and Ahsoka snickered. "Oh my God, oh my God, it's for me. It's for me," she rushed for the box, knocking her brother to his back in her rush. "You gave me a kitten?" She looked at her father with bright eyes.
"I don't know, it could be a seriously pissed off raccoon," he chuckled.
"Open it," Ahsoka urged her.
Squealing, Leia undid the box and opened the lid to let out a sob as she took the grey kitten from the box and hugged it to her chest. It meowed and she petted his fur. "Thank you, thank you, thank you."
“He’s so cute!” Luke gushed, reaching over to pet the top of the kitten’s head. “What are you gonna call him?”
“Saber,” Leia decided. “His name is Saber.”
“I think you won Christmas,” Shmi whispered to Anakin.
“In a big way,” he nodded, happily, seeing not only how happy Leia was, but also at her brother and the woman at his side. “Christmas can only improve from here.” Anakin beamed as he laced his fingers with Padmé’s.
“And next year, I get to teach you guys all about Hanukkah,” Padmé added with a smile. “I’ve already got a very good feeling about this.”
One year later...
“I still think you two were insane to plan your wedding around the holidays,” Ruwee clucked his tongue. “So much chaos.”
“Daddy, don’t be grumpy,” Padmé scolded. “It was fitting, we met because of the holidays.”
“It’s a time of the year that means a lot to us as a couple and as a family,” Anakin said, kissing Padmé’s temple. “If you excuse us, though, we do have somewhere else to be this evening.”
“There’s a couple of presents for the twins we want to do.” Padmé made the rounds among her family, exchanging hugs and kisses. “We’ll see you guys tonight at our house.”
“Bye, everyone,” Anakin smiled, guiding is fiancée to the door. “We’re going to be late,” he whispered to her. “We have to hurry before we can only do this after New Year's and the wedding.”
“Ani, you worry so much, I didn’t even get the chance to be a bridezilla,” Padmé teased. “Bye, everyone!”
“Goodbye, dear!” Jobal called.
“Bye, Aunt Padmé!” Ryoo and Pooja shouted.
“Did you want to be a bridezilla?” Anakin joked as he opened the car door for her. “I worry because I want to give them this. I know they know this is coming, but not right now. It’s going to be a bigger hit than Saber was last year.”
“Oh, you have no idea,” Padmé rubbed her stomach thoughtfully as she buckled in. “I’m kind of glad your mom thought of taking them to Christmas Eve Mass while we were with my family for tonight. I love our kids, but at the holidays, they are menaces.”
“They love the season. They know it’s our season, so they take more liberties,” he sat in his seat. “I’m so happy they will be officially ours from today. Like, legally and everything. I’ll be Luke’s father. You’ll be Leia’s mother. Plus, we’re getting married in a week. What more could we ask of Christmas?”
“Don’t make me spoil your surprise.” She wiggled her eyebrows with a grin. “Let’s just get home. The waiting is as bad for me as it is for them, I’m sure.”
“Alright,” he laughed as he started the car. They didn’t live far from Padmé’s family and since Anakin convinced his mother to move to Manhattan, given that Ahsoka had gotten into college in the city, they all lived close by, which was both a relief and a blessing.
“You’re getting better at Hebrew, I’m proud of you,” she remarked as they drove by the shops and apartment buildings.
“I have a wonderful and dedicated teacher.”
“So, we can renegotiate on the bar and bat mitzvah?” She asked coyly. “And don’t tell me it’s too soon. We just planned a wedding in six months and it nearly drove us both crazy, we need all the time we can get.”
“If they want it, we can do it,” Anakin said diplomatically. “They’re old enough to decide for themselves and I think we should let them.”
“And now you’re talking like a lawyer,” she laughed. “God, I’m turning you into me. It’s kind of hot.”
“We do spend a lot of time together, it was inevitable,” he chuckled, biting his lower lip. He brought her knuckles to his lips, dropping a gentle kiss over them. “It’s been a crazy year, hasn’t it?”
“The craziest,” she agreed, “but also the best. I’m so grateful for you and our kids. I’m happier than I ever dreamed.”
"You and me both, love," he smiled. "I love you, Angel."
“I love you too, Ani.” She leaned in to kiss his cheek as he parked the car. From the window, they could see the twins waving at them excitedly. “Ready to tell them?”
“Yes. Definitely ready.” Anakin jumped from the car and jogged to her side, opening the door for her. “My lady,” he said teasingly.
“You goofball,” she sighed, accepting his hand to get out of the car before heading up the stairs, straight to the door. “We’re home!”
“Dad!” The twins practically tackled them as soon as they stepped inside. Padmé laughed, even as the wind was knocked out of her.
“We were only gone for a few hours.”
“Yeah, but the mass was boring,” Luke complained. “And we wanted to know what the surprise was.”
“Ahsoka told us you had one,” Leia tattled. “What is it?”
“Well, now I think maybe we shouldn’t let you get it until tomorrow.”
“Nooo,” Luke wailed, glaring at his sister. “Please, Dad, may we have it now? Please?”
“Depends, did you at least behave during mass?” Anakin teased, kissing Leia’s forehead and ruffling Luke’s curls.
“Mostly.” Leia huffed. “There was this one stupid boy behind us who kept pulling on my hair. So I punched him in the arm. And Grandma made me sit in the corner for a bit.”
“That’s my girl,” Anakin grinned. “No boy messes with you.”
“I think we can let them have it,” Padmé said with a smile. “Come on, into the kitchen for cocoa.”
The twins dragged their feet but entered the kitchen, Saber at their feet, meowing and purring as Anakin began preparing their cocoa.
“This is mean, you know that, right?” Luke pouted.
“Mean would be not giving you the surprise at all,” Padmé countered, getting a few treats from the jar for their cat. “Give him one each,” she told the twins, handing them the fish-shaped cookies.
The twins took the treats and gave them to Saber, who was not shy about accepting them before jumping to the table, licking his whiskers. “So what’s the surprise?” Leia pressed.
“Ani? You want to tell them?”
"Hmmm," he mused as he added the finishing touches to the cocoa. "I can tell you we signed some big responsibilities today," he started.
"Like, for the wedding?" Luke frowned.
“No, not for the wedding.” Padmé’s eyes sparkled. “But it is about our family.”
“Stop being weird and tell us!” whined Leia.
"Padmé and I have officially adopted you both," Anakin said as he set down two steaming mugs of cocoa in front of them. "We are officially parents to you both ."
“For real?” Luke’s eyes widened and Padmé opened her purse, pulling out the paperwork for them to see.
“We had it notarized this afternoon,” she said with a grin as the twins snatched it out of her hand, oohing at how official it looked.
“It’s beautiful,” Leia whispered tearfully. “Luke Skywalker.”
“Leia Naberrie,” her brother retorted, smiling widely. “Thank you, Mom.” He beamed at Anakin. “Thanks, Dad.”
“There’s actually one more surprise I have for all three of you,” Padmé confessed as Saber ran across the counter and sat directly on the adoption papers. Sighing, she scratched behind the cat’s ears as she looked at her family. “Next year, there’s going to be someone new at the holidays.”
“Bariss?” Leia guessed.
“No,” Padmé laughed. “Well, that’s up to Ahsoka. But actually, I was talking about your baby brother or sister.”
“Hmm?” Anakin raised his head, clueless, as the twins stared at one another.
“Are you going to adopt another kid?” Luke asked, confused.
“Aren’t we enough?” Leia complained with a huff. “You just adopted us, take it in. Breathe it in. No need to add another troubled child to the mix.”
“What baby brother? Or baby sister?” Anakin asked, oblivious to his children’s comments, eyes fixed on the woman he would marry in just a few days.
“No adopting,” Padmé reassured them, moving her free hand to her stomach. “I found out at my last doctor’s appointment last week that I’m pregnant. We’re going to have a baby.”
“Wait, what?” Anakin’s jaw dropped as the twins let out excited gasps. “How?”
“Isn’t that our question?” Leia teased.
“Mom, that’s amazing,” Luke rushed to her and hugged her around the waist.
“It is,” she agreed, tousling his hair. “I wanted to tell you this way so that you’d know we didn’t plan this, and we are definitely not trying to replace either of you. This new little one is going to need the best big siblings in the world. Think you two can pull it off?”
“Yes!” Leia shouted and came around the table to hug Padmé as well. “We’re going to love this baby so much. Don’t you worry!”
“Yeah, we’ll be the best brother and sister,” Luke said.
“Ani?” Padmé looked at her fiancé. “Honey, are you okay? You’re staring at us.”
Anakin blinked, seemingly coming out of his daze. He glanced from each twin to his fiancée, before repeating it and when he tried to speak, he choked. “I… uh… I mean… wow? I… I had no idea… you know, because of what happened… I didn’t think this was possible, but… I…”
“You broke him,” Leia snickered.
“Yeah, we’ll let you fix him too,” Luke rolled his eyes and released his mother.
Leia giggled and grabbed Saber, and the twins rushed out of the room, whispering and laughing to each other. Padmé moved in to put her hands on Anakin’s shoulders. “This is what happens when we don’t use protection,” she teased.
He rose from his seat, cradling her face between his hands. “You’re pregnant? You’re sure?”
“Five weeks,” she confirmed. “Didn’t you notice me not drinking these last few days?”
“I did, but I thought it was something religious, about Hanukkah, you know I’m still learning about your religion and I thought it would be difficult, if not impossible, to get pregnant naturally since I did do chemo,” he explained, joining their foreheads. “You’re amazing for making this happen. I didn’t know I was entitled to any more miracles.”
“This is the time for it,” she pointed out with a smile. “Happy holidays, Ani.”
“It’s always on the holidays, isn’t it?” He laughed, wrapping his arms around her waist and leaning down to kiss her.
Happy Holidays! We'll see you in the new year!