Protector 4- Midlife crisis? What Midlife Crisis?

Prologue

"It's coming along very well," Obi-Wan commented, looking admiringly at the vine Anakin had been pruning. "You seem to have developed a green thumb, Anakin," he commented.

Anakin smiled and wiped his hands on a rag. "Well, Padmé loves the greenery," he said. "So I'm well motivated."
Obi-Wan chuckled. "Amazing what love will drive a man to," he commented.

Anakin grinned. "That smile hasn't left your face in two days," he told his friend. "I don't know what happened," he lied, "but whatever it was, must have been phenomenal."

Obi-Wan smiled. "Oh it was," he assured him, helping Anakin pick up the pruning implements. "Shall we join the ladies?"

"Of course," Anakin said. "I'll just put this stuff away and I'll meet you there."

The two couples sat on the patio as the sun started to set. Anakin and Padmé were both half expecting one of their five younger children to emerge from the house at any moment to announce some catastrophe.

"Seems pretty quiet tonight," Obi-Wan commented, knowing the Skywalker children well.

"Yeah, makes me think they're up to something," Anakin grumbled.

Padmé smiled. "Give them the benefit of the doubt, Ani," she told him.

Anakin cocked an eyebrow. "If you insist," he said. "I'll try not to say I told you so," he added.

Padmé laughed. "That'll be the day," she quipped.

Just then Luke's speeder was seen approaching the property. Anakin looked up as it drew closer, focusing on his son. He sensed something, but wasn't quite sure what it was. Padmé noticed his pensive expression.

"Everything okay?" she asked him.

Anakin looked down at her. "I think so," he said. "But Luke is coming to tell us something," he said. "I think it has to do with Taza."
"Oh, I'll just bet they're engaged," Dormé piped up with a smile.

"Perhaps," Anakin replied, not sure how that made him feel. He could tell that Padmé's feelings were just as ambivalent.

"Luke's too young to get engaged," Padmé piped up with a frown.

"Angel we were married when I was a year younger than he is now," Anakin reminded her.

"Yes, but the circumstances were totally different," Padmé pointed out.

"They certainly were," Obi-Wan agreed. "Imagine that," he continued with a smile. "You two could be grandparents in the near future."

Anakin frowned. "Don't remind me," he muttered.

Within a few minutes Luke and Taza appeared, hand in hand. Anakin and Padmé could tell by the look on their son's face that there was something big going on.

"Hello Taza," Padmé said, smiling at the young woman. "It's nice to see you."

"Thank you Mrs. Skywalker," Taza replied, sitting down. She glanced up at Luke, who stood behind her chair.

"Hello Master Kenobi, Mrs. Kenobi," Luke said, gripping the back of Taza's chair rather tightly.

"Luke," Obi-Wan said, sensing the young man's nervousness as keenly as his father did. "Taza. Lovely evening isn't it?"

"Sure is," Luke replied.

Anakin, who had been watching his son closely, finally spoke up.

"Something going on, son?" he asked.

Luke looked at his father, then his mother, then down to Taza. He swallowed somehow hard, and then looked back at his father again. "Yes Dad," he said. "There is." He looked at Padmé, then back at Anakin. "Taza and I were married this evening."

Chapter 1

Anakin and Padmé didn't react immediately, and for a moment the four of them simply looked at one another in shocked silence.

"Excuse me," Padmé said at last. "But did you say you were married "

Luke nodded, and took Taza's hand in his. "I know it's sudden, but…"

"Sudden " Anakin interjected, jumping to his feet. "Sudden is an unexpected rain shower, but this…this is madness!"

"Ani, please," Padmé tried to intercede. "Let's just sit down at talk about this rationally."

Anakin looked at his wife. "Maybe that should have been done before," he commented, but sat down nonetheless.

"Perhaps we ought to check on the younglings," Obi-Wan suggested discreetly to his wife.

"Good idea," Dormé replied, standing up to join him.

Padmé waited until Anakin had seemingly calmed a little before addressing her son and new daughter-in-law.

"I don't want you to get the wrong idea, Taza," she began. "We love you, and feel like you're part of our family already."

"Yes, yes of course," Anakin spoke up. "It's just that…you're both far too young to get married."

Luke looked at his father. "Dad, we're almost twenty one, both of us," he pointed out. "You were nineteen when you married Mom."

"Well the circumstances were completely different then," Anakin retorted, refusing to acknowledge the irony of his words given the discussion he'd had with Padmé mere minutes earlier.

"How were they different " Luke asked, growing exasperated with his father's attitude. "You loved Mom, you wanted to be with her, so you got married. I love Taza, she loves me, and we want to be together. Why is that so difficult to accept "

"Because there's no rush for you," Padmé pointed out. "Your father and I married in secret, we never saw one another, it was totally different. You two don't need to worry about discovery, you have the rest of your lives together. And you're both preparing for the trials. Do you really think that this is the best time to be..."

"We had to get married, Mrs. Skywalker," Taza finally spoke up, glancing sideways at Luke. "You see, I'm pregnant."

Luke could sense the shock emanating from each of his parents, and felt extremely uncomfortable, particularly when they didn't say anything in response. Taza looked up at him, her eyes brilliant with unshed tears. I told you they'd be upset, she communicated to him silently.

It'll be okay, he assured her. Just give them time to get over the shock.

"Well," Padmé said at last, forcing herself to smile. "This certainly is a surprise!" she said. She looked at Anakin, who was making no effort to hide his shock. "Did you hear that, Ani? We're going to be grandparents!"

Anakin looked at her and then back at his eldest son. "Yes, I heard," he replied. He pasted a smile on his face. "Congratulations," he said, looking in Luke's eyes.

Luke could see how his father was struggling, and appreciated his efforts. "Thanks," he said. "We're a little bit surprised too," he added.

Anakin lifted his eyebrows. "Oh? I'm sure you know how these things happen by now," he remarked.

"Ani," Padmé said, embarrassed by his comment.

"I'm going to get the kids up to bed," Anakin said, standing up.

Luke watched him leave and then looked back at his mother. "He's really upset," he commented quietly.

Padmé sighed. "I'm afraid so," she replied. "But he'll be fine, don't worry," she hastened to add, giving them a smile. "You know how badly your father handles change," she told Luke. She looked back at Taza. "I know it's all very scary right now, but things will work out just fine," she added.

Taza smiled, grateful for Padmé's words. "Thank you Mrs. Skywalker," she said tearfully.

"Please, I think you can call me Padmé now," Padmé said. "Or even Mom if you like," she added.

Taza's smile grew. "I'd like that," she replied. "Mom."

Luke smiled at his mother, loving her immensely for helping diffuse the rather touchy situation. "Is it okay if we spend the night here?" he asked. "We're going to find a new place of our own as soon as we can."

"Of course," Padmé said, "this is your home, Luke. You're more than welcome to stay here as long as you need to. And that goes for you too, Taza," she added. "Excuse me," she said, standing up. "I think your father will need some help getting the kids settled."

"Okay," Luke said and waited for his mother to leave before turning to his new bride. "See? I told you my mom would be cool."

Taza nodded. "It's not your mother I'm worried about," she replied.

Padmé found Anakin chasing young Obi-Wan and Anakin Junior down the long hallway that lead to their room. The boys were giggling madly, trying to escape their father's bum-pinching fingers.

"Getting them to bed, are you?" Padmé asked her spouse with a smile.

Anakin looked up and smiled, letting his quarry escape. "I'm tiring them out," he explained.

Padmé laughed. "Good job," she replied. "Obi-Wan and Dormé gone home?" she asked.

"Yes," Anakin replied. "Just a few moments ago. Funny how their kids never protest when it's time to leave a party like ours do."

Padmé smiled. She looked at Anakin for a moment, knowing him too well after more than twenty years of marriage not to know he was still upset. "Are you okay, Ani?" she asked.

Anakin sighed as he watched his youngest two sons disappear into their room. "I don't know," he replied. "But I suppose I will be. I don't have a choice in the matter, do I?!"

"I'm afraid not," Padmé replied, linking her arm through Anakin's. "It's all a part of life, Anakin."

Anakin nodded. "Shmi and Ami are still on the holonet," he said with absolute certainty, walking down the hall in the direction of their room next. Padmé watched him, wondering how their children were foolish enough to think they could fool their father for a second. She headed in the direction of Luke's room, and then stopped outside the doorway. She hesitated, not knowing if she should intrude, and for a moment she felt as uneasy as Anakin about her eldest son's marriage.

"Mom, what's going on?"

Padmé looked up to see Leia walking toward her, having just arrived home from her date with Han Solo.

"You don't know?" Padmé asked, surprised Luke's twin wasn't aware of the huge changes in his life.

Leia frowned. "Should I?" she asked. She looked at Luke's door, sensing that he was the source of her mother's tension. "Something's going on with Luke, isn't there?" she asked.

Padmé nodded. "He and Taza are married," she said simply.

Leia didn't seem terribly surprised, which made Padmé wonder if her eldest daughter knew the whole story.

"You're not surprised, are you?" Padmé asked.

"Not really, no," Leia admitted. "Did he…tell you anything else?" she asked.

"We know about the baby, yes," Padmé replied. "How long have you known?"
"Not long," Leia replied. "How did Dad take the news?"

"As well as you'd imagine," Padmé replied. "You know how he deals with change."

"Oh yeah," Leia replied, remembering a time not that long ago when her father had sulked for almost a week when her mother had changed her hair style. "He's terrible."

Padmé nodded. "He'll be fine," she said hopefully. "He just needs time to get used to the idea."

Leia smiled, wondering if her mother was talking about herself as much as her spouse. "I guess I'll talk to Luke in the morning," she said. "I don't want to interrupt anything," she added with a smirk. Padmé wasn't amused.

"Goodnight love," Padmé said, giving Leia a hug. "Sweet dreams."

Padmé left Luke's door and proceeded to check on the other children, hoping that Anakin had managed to get them all settled down. He had, so she headed for her own room. Anakin was lying on the bed when she arrived, and she could see by the way he had his arms folded over his chest that he was deep in thought.

"Thanks for settling the kids down," Padmé said, starting to get undressed.

"No problem," Anakin replied, not really paying attention to her.

"Leia's home," she told him, knowing he wouldn't go to sleep until she'd arrived home.

"Good," he responded.

"She knew about Luke, by the way," she said, getting frustrated with his inattentiveness.

"Uh huh," he replied.

Padmé frowned, standing in her undergarments, which usually had Anakin's full attention.

"I'm thinking of shaving my head," she told him.

"That's nice."

"And dying my skin purple."

"Good."

Padmé grew exasperated at this point. "Anakin Skywalker, are you even listening to me?" she asked.

Anakin turned and looked at her. "Sorry, what did you say?" he asked.

Padmé frowned, and came over to the bed to sit with him. "You're having a hard time with all this," she commented.

"I guess I am," he agreed, putting his arm around Padmé as she snuggled against him. "When did Luke grow up, Padmé? It seems like just yesterday I was standing in that toy store on Alderaan searching for his favourite stuffed bear."

Padmé nodded, remembering how happy Luke had been when his father had presented him with it. "But it wasn't yesterday," she reminded him gently. "It was fifteen years ago, Ani."

"I know," he sighed. "I guess I just want to keep my children children as long as I can," he replied.

Padmé smiled. "That can't happen and you know it," she told him. "You wouldn't have wanted to remain a child forever," she added for good measure.

"Of course not," Anakin replied.

"So how can you expect Luke to do so?" she asked. "He's a grown man now, Anakin, like it or not," she continued. "And he's married and about to become a father, like it or not."

Anakin frowned. "He still plays holovid games," he grumbled. "What does he know about being a father?"

Padmé smiled. "Well, the way I see it, he'll be a wonderful father," she commented. "And do you know how I know that?"

Anakin shook his head.

"Because he's had a wonderful role model," she told him. "The best role model I know."

Anakin smiled, and kissed the top of her head. "You always were a great diplomat," he commented.