AN

First one shot in the Stand the Hazard series wherein a seven year old Luke has been sent back to the Clone Wars days. This uses the episode Senate Spy.


The Senate Spy

In the month since the Zillo Beast had attached Coruscant, Anakin Skywalker had learned a surprising number of things about his wife.

She could sing Luke a lullaby that was an old Nubian song handed down generations, but she couldn't hold much of a tune otherwise. Most of the other senators were terrified of her, not because his tiny wife was intimidating or ferocious (though she could be those things too) but because she was tenacious and stubborn beyond belief. She hid it well, and was far less petulant about getting her way than Anakin was, but behind the smiles and the reasonable tone of voice, she dug her heels in more than he ever did.

Chancellor Palpatine often called her the angel on his shoulder. Too optimistic and caring, he said at times with a sigh, but a necessary voice in the Senate.

Every three days she muttered something about cutting off her hair. Anakin had been terrified the first time it had slipped out and had spent the day convincing Luke to hide anything sharp before he'd realised he'd basically given Luke access to all kinds of potential weapons that were hidden in various places that Luke deemed 'safe'.

She could yell.

He'd known that. They'd fought before, but Padme became vicious when arguing about Luke. And it made him realise how much she held back with him when he watched Padme verbally eviscerate a Senate member who had made a comment about Luke being mentally slow.

Perhaps they should never have another child. Between the two of them, they couldn't get lucky with another child like Luke again.

Not to say Luke didn't have his problems. A weekly appointment with Yoda and a tri-weekly appointment with the youngling psychologist that the Chancellor had recommended weren't in place for nothing, but Luke's temper was like a summer storm. It flashed and then left without lingering grudges or resentment. And for Luke, most of it seemed to come from frustration more than anything else and the difficulty he had in adjusting his mind to the reality he now lived in.

"Anakin," Padme said as she came in from the balcony. She said she'd picked up the habit of going out there to look up at the sky and pretend they could talk when he'd been away. She'd found it a good way of clearing her thoughts since having Luke. "Where have you…"

She trailed off with a smile.

Luke was carrying the dish that Anakin had been handed by a grateful Captain they'd bumped into on their way home. Except, it was Luke and carrying was for too mundane for his child.

Instead, Luke was balancing it on his head, his arms out to help him keep his balance and his eyes almost crossed as he tried to keep his gaze on the dish.

"We got dinner," Anakin announced proudly.

"I carried it," Luke pointed out with a grin. "Look, Padme. I think I can-" The youngling jumped and then wobbled, just about keeping the dish balanced.

"Oh my," Threepio gasped, waving his hands. "Oh, mistress Padme, I do not think that-"

Anakin reached for the droid and then held up his hand when Padme glared at him. "Your choice," Anakin said, throwing up his hands and then scooping the packaged dish from Luke's head. Luke reached for it with a wide grin and then hurled himself onto Anakin's back when Anakin merely held it over the youngling's head.

"Got ya," Luke crowed and climbed up properly so that he was then sitting on Anakin's shoulders. Trying not to laugh, Anakin simply lowered the dish so that it was still out of Luke's reach.

His son groaned and flopped backwards.

The first time he had done it, Anakin had nearly had a heart attack. But Luke's legs were strong enough and he had enough natural agility that he remained attached to Anakin by his legs, he simply hung down along Anakin's back which was a strange sensation indeed. The kid could usually pull himself back up too without help.

Luke might still not refer to him as 'Dad' but at least he was Luke's official climbing frame.

"Hungry?" Anakin asked. "I can hand it to the droids-"

That was another change. He and Padme had agreed to let the household staff go and use droids as well to ensure that Luke had peace when he needed it. Halle was still on call though and the Captain both of whom Luke seemed to like but refused to ask about when they weren't there.

"I…yes," Padme said as he placed the package down on the table and then reached behind him to grab Luke's arm. With the help of the force, he brought Luke around to his front and the boy leapt away, dashing out to the balcony.

"Don't fall," Anakin called.

"Not stupid," was the only reply he got.

"I will check on the young master," Threepio decided and hurried himself out there. Artoo beeped and then followed.

Anakin watched them go and then collapsed onto the sofa with a groan. "We feed him too much," Anakin decided as he stared at the ceiling. "Yoda had him doing some treasure hunt thing around the temple. Seven hours and he's still jumping around." Anakin looked up at his wife pleadingly. "How bad would it be if we slipped a tranq into his food tonight?"

"Please," she said, apparently amused. "He falls asleep like a light going off."

"In our bed," Anakin said rolling his head up to look at her pointedly. And yes, he loved his son more than anything in the universe, but in the six weeks Luke had lived with them, he and Padme had not had one night in their bed, alone and…well…

Together.

"Doctor Firra said that we would need to-"

He waved it away and caught a glimpse of her annoyed glare. He spread his arms defensively in protest and she shook her head and apparently, that was all the conversation they were gonna have about the matter, Anakin thought grumpily as she picked up the dinner and handed it over to the KaH34.

"I have five blossom bread," Padme said thoughtfully. "The Naboo Ambassador gave me some a while ago. I was saving it for a special occasion."

Special occasion?

A little panicked, Anakin raised his head. They'd been married for fourteen months, so it wasn't that. He'd prided himself of being attentive and knowing those things and yet it was a special occasion?

"It's my speciality," Padme added. "I-"

"You…cook?" Anakin asked.

She blinked. "I used to," she said with a smile. "When I was younger, I cooked every day. But getting the ingredients here is hard and it's not the same with work…" she shook her head. "Did you think I couldn't cook?"

"No," he said automatically and then floundered. "I mean…I…have you ever cooked around me?"

It seemed to take her by surprise. "No," she admitted.

Huh.

They stared at each other awkwardly for a moment or two and then Padme shook herself. "Well, one more reason to try and get away to Naboo soon," she said, her eyes darting to the balcony before she glanced skywards as if asking for strength. "Your son is balancing again," she said wearily.

"Why is it?" Anakin started to ask even as he reached to retrieve Luke with the force, "when he does this, he is my son."

"Say with a straight face you have never balanced above the Coruscant skyline or indeed deliberately jumped down into the traffic," Padme asked smoothly as Luke was pulled in, looking completely unrepentant and gloriously satisfied.

Stars, he hated these arguments, Anakin thought slumping further into the sofa as he dumped Luke on the floor. His son peered up at him and then rested his head in his hands and kicked his feet as he lay on his belly. "How many times do you think Master Yoda could jump in a click?" Luke asked.

Padme ruffled his hair as she went by in sympathy.

Sleeping with a seven year old had long since lost its novelty. Luke was cute and lovely and sweet but force alive was that boy all elbows and knees and he slept like a bomb, all tightly coiled until he sprung out suddenly and usually woke him and Padme up.

Not to mention that having a seven-year-old in the bed meant that Anakin did not have his wife to himself.

How, he didn't know, but Luke had apparently decided in the night that Anakin's back was the perfect place to sleep. When Anakin woke to Padme getting ready, a heavy, hot weight was on his back snoring.

"We need to get him in his own bed," Anakin mumbled to the pillow.

"I…" Padme sat by him. "I've agreed to do something for the council. When I get back, we'll do it," she agreed.

"Get back?"

"I'm accompanying Senator Clovis on his trip to meet with the trade federation-"

Anakin sat up and there was a sleepy yelp as Luke was tossed back on the bed. Anakin glanced back at his son who scowled at him and then rolled over taking most of the bed sheets with him.

Typical.

"The Trade Federation?" Anakin demanded, twisting around to her. "When was this decided?"

"This morning," Padme said. "It's necessary, Anakin. I won't be long-"

He stared at her, his frayed temper not lasting well. "Who decided?"

"Myself and Master Yoda. Anakin, you're making a bigger fuss of this than is-"

"Did you consider asking me if it was all right?"

Padme stopped and blinked down at him in stunned amazement. "What did you just say?"

"I was under the impression we were meant to be a partnership-"

"Sorry, did you ever check with me about going on missions?"

"That was…Before Luke," Anakin said, standing and that was his life now. Mark the passage of time before Luke and after Luke. "I will not allow-"

"Allow?"

He had a pressing feeling that he'd missed stepped in some way, but he refused to back down. "I realise I'm the one who generally now has to give some thought to him while you're playing around in the senate-"

"Playing around?"

"Name the last appointment you took him to."

"Name the last time you had something to do," Padme yelled back squaring up to him. "You chose to stay at home with him-"

"Not so you could go to talk to the Trade Federation. Why are you even talking to them? It's…"he paused and then tilted his head. "Who is Clovis?" He thought for a moment as she rolled her eyes. "Wait, I know that name."

"The Jedi asked me to spy on him."

"Is everyone on this force-forsaken planet involved?" Anakin shouted. "Why you?"

"We were," she faltered. "friends."

"Friends?"

"Anakin, I can go where I like, when I like and with whom I like." She picked up her bag.

"Not when we have a child with like a billion attachment disorders," he said and then glanced back down at Luke who was now peering up and watching them with what genuinely looked like Obi-Wan's disappointed face.

"Well, as you so succinctly pointed out, I hardly do anything to help him with that. Not when Daddy Skywalker's around."

"What?" he hissed and then flapped a hand when Luke made a noise.

"Anakin, I am going for the evening. I will be back tomorrow. Stop making this into more than it is. This is necessary to the Order that you used to care about."

She leaned over him and pressed a kiss to Luke's hair. Their son was blinking at her and then made an annoyed sound before he scooted away and off the bed, taking all the damned bedding with him. Then his wife stalked out of the room and Anakin was left alone in the room, trying to work out what the Kriffin hell had gone wrong!

Xxx

He adored Luke, but having the youngling there when he was in a temper was awful. Luke would flinch away and hide in the corners which annoyed Anakin even more and created an unending cycle of misery for them both.

In the end, Anakin drove them to the Temple and practically shoved Luke at Master Gallia.

"Anakin," she breathed. "What-"

He ignored her and strode through the Temple, the looks he received doing no favours for his mood. Three Jedi Knights tried to approach him and he just kept walking until he got to the roof, slammed the door shut behind him and then collapsed against the wall, relieved for the no-fly zone over the Temple.

He was left alone.

What was Padme playing at? Why was she leaving?

Only for a day, part of him whispered.

Still. He didn't even know where he'd gone wrong, or if he'd been in the wrong or where the moment was where it had gone wrong.

He hated feeling like this. He'd thought he was done with it after the Temple and the Jedi Order. It wasn't fair.

He wasn't all that surprised when Obi-Wan calmly walked through the door. His former Master said nothing but walked close and then let out a frustrated noise, as if Anakin had purposefully sat down to annoy him. In the end, Obi Wan sat on the ground next to him.

"You and Padme-"

"Shut up."

Obi Wan nodded. Then: "I'm surprised you came here."

"Where else would I go?"

There was a flicker of relief from Obi-Wan and Anakin turned to look at the man, curious despite his foul mood.

"I was starting to wonder if I'd completely misread everything with you," Obi Wan confessed. "It's good to know that some things are the same."

"Nothing's the same," Anakin muttered. "I…I…I was starting to think that maybe…maybe the reason I'd struggled here was just because it wasn't for me. And yet, now-"

"Anakin…I realise this may not be what you want to hear, but you are…" Obi Wan faltered and Anakin turned to look at him properly, waiting. "Sometimes overly dramatic."

What?

"And sensitive," Obi-Wan added as if getting lost in his musings. "Full of pride-"

Sithing hell. "Is this going to be a long list?" Anakin demanded.

"You are not perfect," Obi-Wan added. "And you seem mortally offended with the universe that you are not." He inclined his head. "Perhaps you should stop expecting yourself to be. Which might mean sometimes you do not do everything perfect or correct the first time. Sometimes you might not even do it right the second time." He nodded to himself. "The third, I will even accept once or twice."

"It isn't funny," Anakin mumbled, tilting his head back to rest against the wall. "I just…dumped Luke-"

Obi Wan waved a hand. "He's fine. Someone showed him your old rooms with some of your old engines. He's as close to Utopia as one could ever hope to be. Possibly the first person to ever react with delight at seeing the state of your chambers."

Despite it all, Anakin laughed and then felt oddly like crying.

"You are barely twenty years old," Obi-Wan said firmly. "No-one will judge you if you ask for help."

"That's not how I remember it being," Anakin snapped.

"I remember a boy who thought he knew best. Who would take any chance to prove himself and then be hurt when we handed out criticism of his methods, despite him being warned not to do the things he did. May I ask what you expected from acting in that way?"

"To-" Anakin clamped his lips together. He glanced at Obi-Wan who was watching him with an oddly gentle expression. "What does it matter now? You aren't my Master. We are no longer brothers."

"Oh Anakin, you are desperately stupid sometimes." Obi Wan pinched the bridge of his nose. "Do you honestly believe we are keeping you in contact with us to help transition?"

"More like to avoid another sith running around," Anakin sullenly muttered.

That actually got him a gentle clout around the head. "Ow," he mumbled, rubbing where Obi-Wan had hit. "Seriously?"

"You remain my friend, whether or not you are in the order," Obi-Wan sighed, sitting back. "Stupid though you are. You should know that," he added, looking determinedly ahead. "Seems I fail any generation of Skywalkers that I'm put in charge of."

"Not all of us," Anakin allowed after a few moments. Then: "It's too important to get wrong. Luke, Padme." He hesitated with the next part, but looked at Obi-Wan instead, hoping he got the message.

"Then let us figure it out. Mercifully, Luke is desensitised to people coming and going so he's unlikely to react. Let's…put him to one side for the moment."

He was the worst father in the Galaxy that he felt relief at that.

"So Padme?"

Anakin stared down at his boots.

"You've never lived together like this for this amount of time," Obi-Wan said. "Unless of course travelling through time is a Skywalker thing-"

Anakin snorted. "You think we made a mistake?"

"Ah, and there are the histrionics," Obi Wan sighed. "No, I am not saying you are ill suited or that your marriage is doomed or whatever thought is going through your head. Merely…I'm hardly able to give advice in this matter," Obi-Wan said wryly, "but surely adjustment is to be expected? You can't expect it to be perfect first time. Don't be afraid of admitting you need help, even from Padme. Or me."

Anakin let the idea roll around in his head and then he winced. "On a scale of one to ten, how terrible would it be if I left Luke here and went after Padme?"

"I imagine it will take until tomorrow morning to find Luke in your chambers. Probably wise you make the most of your time while you wait."

"You really do think you're funny, Master," Anakin sighed, clambering to his feet.

"I'm a delight and joy. And the Clones' favourite Jedi." Obi Wan smiled sunnily at him. "Go check on your son, Anakin then go find your wife. Though do try hard not to disrupt her mission too much." He suddenly seemed to be giving it a lot of consideration. "Or fall. Or blow things up."

"Not even a little bit funny," Anakin muttered.

Xxx

Luke, as Obi-Wan had promised, was radiant with joy in Anakin's room. He was sat on the bed in the middle of engine parts and guidance computers and droid parts with various tools and barely seemed interested in Anakin.

Anakin reached for piece that was half a constructed lightsabre and tossed it into the hallway. Then glanced around, suddenly worried as to what other weapons he might have had. He really should move all of this out of the way. Perhaps he could ask Padme for a workroom-

Ah.

It was a bit of a bolt of light and it led to a few uncomfortable realisations as to why Padme might have been feeling annoyed.

He really needed to talk to her.

Xxx

It was stunning how much he'd missed flying without paying attention to the feeling. Alone with just Artoo, there was a relief in lifting into the atmosphere and not having to worry about Luke or even think of him. To have fun and he did a few lazy loops before setting in the co-ordinates.

xxx

When he arrived on Cato Neimoida, he waved away the droids that tried to come over, ensuring that they didn't report anything. A glance over showed the Royal Cruiser was sat patiently in the hanger and he wasn't so sure that he liked how quiet it was.

Something seemed…off.

He'd broken into more complex buildings as a Jedi. As it was, this was almost fun! And ostentatious, stars, he'd forgotten how bad the Neimoidians were. If they could show off their wealth, then they would. The droids wandering the palace were state of the art, the decorations were as lavish as one could imagine.

Anakin could almost imagine bringing Luke one day, just to see his son scrunch up his face in confusion at having jewel encrusted doorframes. Maybe when he was older.

Luke being older. That was…both a wonderful and terrifying thought.

The guest quarters were on the second floor, north wing. He walked with ease, not concerned unduly and more…well…working out what he was going to say.

He didn't want to apologise. He hated apologising. And he didn't think he'd been wrong, exactly. Wasn't that you were meant to do as a married couple; make decisions together. But the crack about Daddy Skywalker…

Was he pushing her out or not being a good father? Had it been an angry comment or sarcastic or…

He almost missed the room, so caught up was he. Or rather, he almost missed the familiar feel of Threepio having some minor hissy fit.

"Oh, master Anakin," Threepio said loudly because the droid had never met the word subtlety. "It's been dreadful. I've been up here most of the night and I was dismissed. Like I was surplus to requirements. Or…or…unnecessary," the droid finished, as if that was the worst possible thing he could be called.

"And Padme?" Anakin asked, looking around as the droid shut the door.

"Well, she's still downstairs with Senator Clovis. Dreadfully rude man if you ask me. No sense of personal space."

It was embarrassing that it took that mention for Anakin to pause and reply every conversation he'd had about Clovis. "Old friends," he murmured and then rolled his eyes, more frustrated than he'd been in a long time. "Did the Jedi council actually ask my wife to get in contact with an old boyfriend to spy on him?"

"I…" Threepio tilted his head. "Now that you mention it, that would make sense."

No it didn't! How was that a good plan?!

He wanted to storm out there. He wanted to remind the entire building that Padme was his wife and all that came with it. And she was the mother of his child. And-

She had a mission. And she would kill him if he interrupted because he was being…well…

Maybe a little jealous.

Miserable, he sat on the edge of the bed. Moments like this were always awful. There was no clear way forward, no Jedi training could help him with figuring out his marriage.

Over dramatic, wasn't that what Obi-Wan had said?

"What do you know about Clovis?" Anakin asked slowly.

"Rush Clovis is a Senator from Scipio who represents the banking sector. He and Senator Amidala started at the senate in the same year. He has many years of accomplished-"

Anakin held up a hand to make Threepio stop.

What would Obi-Wan do?

He abandoned that line of thought after a minute. Picturing Obi-Wan in this situation was too ridiculous for words. And maybe a little…awkward? The idea of his former master being romantic made Anakin want to snigger.

Still, he wasn't gonna just sit in the room like an idiot. Standing, he made for the door.

"Sir, may I-"

He closed the door behind him, effectively ending Threepio's question. There was a special hell out there for him for making that droid, he was sure of it.

He let the force guide his feet, relaxing into it and trying to remember the last time he had done this. Just walked and known that he would find something eventually. The palace remained quiet; a shame really given all the wealth it was trying to show off.

He stepped through a door when he heard voices and followed the sound and-

What?

He stopped dead at what he was seeing. Padme, hugging some tall, dark haired man and she was wearing her hair the way he liked it and-

She caught sight of him immediately. Something flickered in her eyes and, so help him, over dramatic or not, he was about to-

She waggled her hand and then opened her fingers, letting the data chip she was holding fall as she glared at him pointedly. He caught it with the force on automatic and drew it to him, still staring at her.

She raised one perfectly unamused eyebrow at him.

"You…your heart is racing," the man who Anakin assumed was Clovis, said to Padme as he pulled back to see her.

"Because of you," Padme replied.

Anakin rolled around the pillar, aiming to keep himself hidden even as he rolled his eyes at her. This was what she'd gotten so self-righteous about doing?

She was the one who owed him an apology. Not him. She was hugging someone and…flirting! Badly flirting, but still.

"I…I had lost hope when I heard of your marriage to the Jedi Knight. You must feel so trapped," Clovis said.

Anakin let out a long breath. And then did it again.

The biggest apology in the Galaxy was surely coming his way.

"I…," he heard a noise like she was moving away from Clovis. "I feel lonely," she admitted and there was too much truth in that for him to ignore. "This was…it was pleasing to have someone's attention." She seemed to sigh. "I apologise, Clovis. My mind…I am not sure why I'm here. That's not fair-"

"Hush," Clovis soothed. "I…I do understand. From what you said…you must have a lot to think about."

What had she said? What was there to think about? Lonely?

Why the fracking hells were they having this conversation through Rush Clovis?

His wife's breathing stumbled a little. "I…" she seemed to be struggling suddenly. "What…this isn't right," she said suddenly. "I feel…did you put something in my drink?"

"What? No. I…" Anakin stepped around the pillar, furious but Clovis had his back to him and was trying to hold Padme up. "Wait you're thirsty and tired…"

Anakin pressed his de-activated lightsabre to Clovis' back. "Gonna guess you know what the poison is then."

Clovis froze. Padme, barely standing, still managed to glare at Anakin. "I want to be so angry with you for following me," she almost hissed.

"You really wanna get into that right now?" Anakin asked, keeping the lightsabre where it was, hovering his thumb over the ignition switch. "Antidote," he ordered Clovis. "Now."

"I don't have it," Clovis said with very precise tones. "I know who did it though. Lok…he'll have the antidote. Padme, I swear, I didn't-"

"If you've brought Luke-" Padme muttered.

"Nope." Anakin rolled his eyes and then scooped her up. "He's with Master Yoda."

She relaxed a little and then gasped a little, as if breathing wasn't coming easily. "Lok?" Anakin demanded of Clovis who was watching them with envy. He could almost see the thoughts going through Clovis' head.

"You cannot take on a Jedi knight," Padme panted. "And he'll leave here and tell everyone that you and Lok poisoned me. How far will that get you?"

"You'll tell them anyway," Clovis hissed.

"Not a Jedi," Anakin said. "I have no problem with killing everyone in this building to get the antidote."

"Ani," Padme breathed.

"She's my wife."

Clovis must have seen something in his expression because he backed down. "This way," he said, shoulders hunched. "I told him not to mess with her," he added as they quickly made their way down the hall.

Xxx

If there was one thing that the Neimoidians could be trusted to do, it was be cowards. One look at Anakin and at the blaster that Clovis held at them (and the man almost went up in Anakin's estimations for the fact he clearly cared about Padme) and they crumpled like a bad hand at Sabacc.

Clovis didn't even protest them leaving either.

Anakin would bet that it wouldn't take him ten minutes to realise that they'd stolen data chip, whatever it was. Couldn't bring himself to care either as the antidote began to work and Padme started to come around.

They sat in the privacy chamber, Padme examining the contents of the chip on the ship's database to double check while Anakin checked in with Obi-Wan.

"Is he still-"

"Yes, Anakin," Obi-Wan said, sounding bored of the conversation. "It isn't as if we cope with hundreds of younglings in the Temple every day. I assume you vaguely remember that we got you to adulthood. More or less."

"Has he talked to you?"

That got his old Master's attention. "No," he said eventually. "I think he finds me to confusing. I remind him that…well. I remind him."

"I wish it was different."

Obi-Wan inclined his head. "He has however taken a great liking to Master Yoda. It's like watching an Aldaradian duckling."

That…was an image. "Padme has the…data chip thing." He turned to check what it was, but she had finished and was looking at him…almost warily underneath the jacket he'd given her to keep her warm because that dress wasn't exactly covering her up.

"The data chip thing," Obi-Wan repeated flatly. "Oh, the droid factory hologram? That will be helpful."

"Yeah," he said, looking down at Padme. "I'll catch you up in a bit," he added vaguely and ended the call.

They stared at each other awkwardly. "Not that I'm not grateful," she said slowly, "but why did you go to Cato Neimoida?"

Anakin stared down at his boots. "I…was going to apologise."

"Was?" she replied flatly.

"Am." He corrected and looked up to see her face instantly soften. "I'm not…I'm not doing this very well. This," he said indicating the two of them. "It's harder than I thought. Not… I'm not complaining. It's just. We see each other every day and it's not the same."

What he wasn't prepared for was Padme looking relieved. "Ani," she murmured. "Do you think I feel differently? We were…I love you, but we were still in the honeymoon stage and it was exciting and free and we were getting to know each other still. And now…" she sighed. "I love Luke. Please don't misunderstand me. I wouldn't swap him, but he needs a lot from us. From you."

"From us," Anakin reiterated. "I'm…I'm shutting you out, aren't I?"

"I'm not a force sensitive," Padme said and she shifted on the bed to give him room to sit. "I know that and I knew that if we had children, there'd be a part of them that you would have and I could never share, but knowing that and experiencing it…it's hard not to be jealous of that."

He'd never considered that.

"And you?" she asked. "How do you feel?"

The idea of admitting it made him feel…weak. So deeply, unendingly weak and pathetic. But… "I think I get it right with him," Anakin admitted. "And…I like that he looks at me like I can do anything. It's…it's a bit easy to throw myself into it when there's nothing else…you're arguing and protecting the rights of the people all over the Galaxy, saving lives and being my wife and Luke's mom. And I," he floundered. "I want more than just being there for him, but I like the way it feels to be the one he turns to."

It sounded deeply selfish as he said it and he didn't dare look at her. "Ani," Padme said eventually. "I think anyone would find that addictive. But…sometimes I feel I could just leave and neither if you would notice."

That…stars, had he really made her feel that way? Horrified, he reached for her, shaking his head as he did. "Never," he whispered to her and was ashamed when he realised she was trying not to cry. "I'm sorry-" he started to whisper.

"I didn't mean what I said to Clovis," she sobbed. "Or to make you doubt me or to say all those things this morning or-"

"Call it even?" he asked, resting his chin on her hair.

He felt her sob out a small chuckle and nod.

"I…are we still being honest?" he asked and she nodded, pulling back to look at him as if to brace herself. "We need to get that boy into his own bed," Anakin pleaded. "And maybe that's been the only time you've been able to spend with him at the moment, but please for the love of everything in this Galaxy-"

"Yes," she laughed. "Stars, we should have put our foot down about that ages ago. He's...just… annoyingly cute."

"Okay," Anakin said, amazed at how relieved he felt. "Um and last one?"

She nodded, but she seemed more eager this time.

"Can we move?" Anakin asked. "I…I really miss having a proper workshop. And maybe we can find somewhere with space for a meditation chamber or just…"

"I started looking," she breathed. "Ani, that apartment…it is not child friendly. That balcony…I can't cope watching him balance on that kriffin' thing."

He…honestly couldn't remember the last time she'd sworn. "This is…okay, this is good. This…we should do this-"

"Talk?" she asked with a laugh.

"Yeah," Anakin allowed and grinned.

"I'd…" Padme seemed to steel herself. "I'd like Luke and I to do something. Build in a routine, just for me and him. And…while we're looking for a new place…" she seemed suddenly very nervous, "I want to take him to Naboo."

Oh.

Anakin pulled back, thinking about it. It would mean being away from the Jedi and less chance for him to be doing things. The pile of ideas from the Chancellor was filled with things, but for him to do on Coruscant.

And their appointments. Luke needed to see a councillor and Master Yoda.

But Padme needed this, he could tell. She needed to retreat, maybe to step away from the Senate for a while, but still be working. Be in an environment where she knew what childhood to give their son.

"I…um…" Anakin frowned. "We can probably find someone on Naboo to talk with Luke. And…I dunno. Maybe we can ask the Jedi their opinion."

"Anakin," she said firmly. "What about you? Do you think you could be happy on Naboo for a few months?"

Months?

He could see her trying to hide her disappointment. "What's the difference," he said suddenly. "Maybe Naboo is what I need. To realise…" he swallowed. "I'm not a Jedi knight anymore and," he waved her hand away. "What does it matter what I keep saying? I have no idea where the balance is. I'm gonna use the force, but I'm not a Jedi. Maybe some time away from them will let me work that out."

Padme smiled at him and then reached to kiss him. But this kiss slowly turned deeper and deeper and there was enough time before-

"You were poisoned," Anakin mumbled against her lips, even as his hands roamed under the jacket to the silken cloth of the purple dress she was wearing. There wasn't a back to it and the feel of her naked skin was tantalising. And her hair was as he liked it, unadorned and starting to wisp free of her single braid.

"Cured now, remember," she murmured back, her hands running through his hair as he tugged him back onto the bed so that he was on top of her. "You've not seen this dress before."

He grinned against her lips. "Not gonna lie, doubt I'm gonna see you in it for that long."

She laughed.

Xxx

Luke peered between the two of them. It was a fortuitous stop, actually as they could drop off the hologram of the factory and pick up their child at the same time.

"This was your room?" Padme asked, looking around. Strange, to realise she'd never seen it. "Force alive, Ani, how have you been surviving at the apartment?" She picked up the old engine that he'd been restoring and examined it.

Luke was still watching them, hydrospanner handle in his mouth as he glanced back and forth a few times.

Then he garbled something around the tool and looked back down.

"What was that?" Padme asked. "I don't speak hydrospanner language."

Luke spat the thing out. "That's an antique," he said and for a stupid moment, Anakin had thought it was gonna be 'hello' or something equally sociable. "He's destroyed it."

Anakin folded his arms and glared down at his son. "Destroyed it?"

"Ah," Padme said. "There's a lightsabre burn."

Ooh. "I was…frustrated," he said. "We'd been called straight back. I'd had to cancel our plans."

"Antique," Luke muttered on the bed. Then he squinted up. "Can we go to Dex's?"

"Actually," Anakin said slowly as Padme put the engine down. "Your…Padme is going to take you somewhere. Her favourite place. And I'm gonna sort through this. Box it up so it can come home with us."

There was a debate in Luke's face between the idea of food and the idea of sorting through the junk. Then something sunk in. "Just me and Padme?" he asked. "No Senators?"

"Just us. No-where near the-" Padme trailed off as Luke jumped off the bed and raced over to her. "-senate," she finished weakly. "Does that sound all right with you?"

Luke nodded, leaning into her and then staring up at Anakin. "Can I check it before you trash stuff?"

"If you're good," Anakin said, smoothing his son's hair before he kissed Padme's cheek.

Xxx

"This is what you had in your room?" Ahsoka asked from the doorway.

"What did you think I had, Snips?"

She shrugged a little and stepped in cautiously, making him pause to watch her. Sometimes he forgot how young she was and there was a nervous ball of worry and sorrow that he wouldn't get to watch over her anymore.

"Have you spoken with Obi-Wan?" Anakin asked.

"He told me. I'm to be his padawan for the rest of my training," she said, leaning against the wall. "You're really leaving."

Yeah. "I can't be a Jedi and married," Anakin said. "Or…be a father and be out there with you. Not at the moment, at least." He looked around the chambers. "Guess part of me sort of still hoped…" he sighed. "Can't do it all, Ahsoka."

He was very slowly starting to accept that.

"Here," he said, detaching the lightsabre from his belt and holding it out to her. "Take it. For now, at least," he added when she opened her mouth to protest. "Think uh…think I need to not have it for a while. Can't think of anyone I'd rather was holding onto it."

Ahsoka stared at the weapon and then took it with a shaking hand. "Thank you, Master," she said quietly.

"Not your master anymore," Anakin said, half tempted to snatch the weapon back. Being without it was…force did that make everything feel suddenly real.

"Means I don't have to do as you tell me," she said with a sudden cheeky grin.

"Like you ever did," he said before he lay a hand on her shoulder, serious suddenly. "Obi-Wan…he doesn't praise often. He mocks. But…I'm pretty sure he mocks when he likes you and when he thinks you can take it. It's his really weird version of a compliment. Also…he kinda gets caught up in observing things sometimes. Give him a jolt occasionally."

She stared up at him and he could feel her sorrow. "Wish it were you, Skyguy," she said after a moment.

"Yeah," he said squeezing her shoulder. "Well, I'm about to face getting a seven-year-old Skywalker to sleep in his own bed for the first time ever. Kinda wish I was with you too."

Ahsoka looked doubtful. "I've seen you in battle, master. I don't think he's gonna give you that much trouble."

"Ahsoka," Anakin said, dropping his hand from her. "How stubborn would you say I am?"

She nodded. "Very."

"And I would say his mother is more stubborn."

She grinned slowly. "I can think of so many people who would pay to watch this."

Xxx

It was embarrassing.

Humiliating in a way.

They'd geared themselves up. Approached the task with trepidation. Consulted Dr Firra. Been warned of the likely response and given some coping methods.

But Luke, on being told he wasn't sleeping with them had just shrugged and gone to his own bed. No fuss, no complaints. And, evidently, six weeks of sleeping in a normal bed had meant he hadn't crawled under it like he had before. He had asked for them to come in with him and he had ducked under briefly, but then he did that most nights before bed as if to check that the possibility of sleeping under the bed was still there.

And that was it. As usual, he'd gone out like a light. But he'd slept there the whole night.

The next day he had checked as breakfast if he could come in to their room if there was an attack. And if they would wake him up too if they were attacked.

That was it. The big battle they had feared was Luke asking a few questions and behaving like an angel.

Anakin had no idea where the boy got that from.