How had it ended up like this?

All he'd wanted was a way to end the war. When Rex had approached him with news of strange activity on Dathomir, he'd arrived expecting...maybe Maul? Maybe Nightsisters returned from the dead? He truthfully hadn't known what to expect. But when he'd arrived and explored the ruins of their home and rather creepy temple, all he'd found was an old spell scrawled on a tablet sitting on a lonely table. Nothing else.

A spell to grant one wish. Any wish.

It was too good to be true and clearly a trap, meant to be found...maybe even specifically by him .

But he and Obi-Wan had been out in the Outer Rim, bogged down by battles for three solid months. Three months of endless death and destruction with literally no end in sight. Three months of chasing phantom rumors of Dooku and Grievous in the hopes of ending it all for the good of the Republic.

Three months since he'd been home. Since he'd seen his beloved wife. Since he'd held her, kissed her, breathed in her scent, felt her presence. Her warmth. Her heart steadily beating against him as she snuggled close to him at night in her sleep.

Force, he just wanted to go home! At long last, to Padme. To say that he was tired and that his nerves were completely frazzled was an understatement. Some of his most daring rescues were pulled off when he was in this state of mind, true, but some of his worst decisions were also made when he got like this.

So. He'd taken the bait, and now, somehow, he'd plucked his own son from the future, along with some girl who knew Luke well but seemed to hate him as much as his own son did.

Force, this had 'disaster' written all over it.

All right in front of Obi-Wan, who had arrived too damn late to stop him by mere seconds. Now, the consequences of his actions were laid bare before his former master, and along with it, his most closely guarded secret.

He wanted to deny that he'd summoned his future son. Time travel was, of course, ridiculous. Impossible even. But something drew him to the boy. A pull, refusing to be ignored. H e knew what it was. It was the beginnings of a bond, forged intimately through the Force. It was something that was usually formed over months or years between a padawan and their master, and yet in a matter of mere hours, his bond with this boy was now just as strong as the ones he shared with Obi-Wan or Ahsoka.

And it was getting stronger by the hour, which was also a serious problem because the boy either purposefully wasn't shielding, or couldn't because he didn't know how. Even on the other end of the star destroyer, he could feel Luke's agony-not physically. Not anymore. His son was currently being operated on by the best medics he had on the ship, and was under anesthetic. No. It was currently all emotional. Which was somehow even worse.

Especially since that emotional agony was caused by a future version of himself.

Darth Vader. That's what the boy had called him . A Sith title. A Sith name.

His entire being wanted to reject the insane idea that he could ever become a Sith. He hated them! He fought to protect the galaxy from them. The idea of Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One of Jedi lore, falling to the Dark Side and becoming a Sith Lord was completely ludicrous.

And yet there was no lie in the boy's accusations.

He was being truthful.

Now, Anakin sat alone in an empty board room he'd never been in before. Shamelessly hiding: From the truth, the accusations, the shame he didn't want to face. He knew Obi-Wan would come and find him eventually. He always did. The viewport across from him overlooked Dathomir. He'd ordered Admiral Yularen to stay in orbit over the planet, though he hadn't told him why. No doubt, his Admiral was anxious to get back into the thick of battle, but Anakin couldn't exactly tell him he'd cast a spell and accidentally summoned his future son (and friend) and now probably had to figure out how in the hell to put him (them) back in his (their) own time (seriously, he didn't even know what to do with the spitfire that was his son's friend...girlfriend?). If there was an answer to that mystery, it was probably still on Dathomir.

Great. Just great.

But first, he needed to contain the fall out of...everything. Like what this boy's very existence meant.

Damn, he was in so much trouble. And not just with the Council. Worse, Padme was going to be pissed.

He currently stared at the medical report for his son. Luke Skywalker. That's the name that the boy had given to the med droid taking his basic information, and the girl had confirmed it. Yet more damning information linking them. He'd have to destroy it before the Council…

Except Obi-Wan was part of the Council. He hadn't said anything since initially demanding to know if he was hiding something, but it would only be a matter of time. Oh, he was in a shitload of trouble all right.

He'd think about that later.

Luke was twenty-two standard years old. He didn't look like it. He was so small in stature, a good five inches shorter than he himself was, he looked far younger. If he'd had to guess, he would have said he was barely an adult. But no, Luke was physically a year younger than he currently was. He had a healthy weight for his size, was a little dehydrated but that wasn't abnormal after a battle.

But his injuries…

Multiple sprains. Minor lacerations. Shock from...from the missing hand. A cauterized wound. Like the one a lightsaber left behind after it severed a limb. His right mechanical hand tightened unconsciously.

He knew that particular feeling all too well.

He knew the burning agony that increased with every minute it was left untreated. He knew the phantom spasms and pain even after the new mechanical hand was fitted. He still felt it, years after Dooku had cut it off. Not as often now, but it was still there.

And if he'd done that to his own son…

He sensed Obi-Wan's arrival before the doors hissed open. He didn't dare look up, not as he listened to his old master sigh and close the door before sitting across the table from him.

"Luke will be fine." Obi-Wan announced after a long moment of silence. "I thought you'd want to know."

Anakin clenched his jaw and nodded.

"I...ah, asked them not to draw his blood."

"Why?" That had Anakin looking up in utter surprise. He'd expected Obi-Wan to want to immediately get to the bottom of his dirty secrets with genetic confirmation of the obvious.

Obi-Wan rubbed a weary hand down his face, suddenly looking like he'd aged ten years in a matter of hours. "Because I already know they're telling the truth without a blood test. I mean, Force, Anakin! He looks exactly like you, and beyond that it just...feels right in the Force. Kriff, the boy's Force signature is a supernova, almost as strong as your own! And since that's the case, I think knowledge of your time traveling son getting out there," he motioned with a hand toward the viewport, "is a dangerous thing. If it were to get out who Luke is and how he got here, who knows who would seek him out to use him against the entire galaxy!"

He shifted uncomfortably. He hadn't even considered that potentiality. All he'd thought about was how Luke's arrival would out his secret.

There was another loaded silence. Obi-Wan ran a hand over his haggard face again. "He's Padme's, isn't he?"

He opened his mouth to deny it...but as Obi-Wan said. It was obvious. With the Force confirming they had, indeed, pulled him from a future time, Luke's features couldn't be explained away in any other way. "How did you…?"

Obi-Wan gave him an exasperated look. "I'm not an idiot, Anakin. Even if I didn't already suspect you two had a relationship…"

"Wait," Anakin sat up straight, dropping the datapad on the table, " What?"

His former master stared at him incredulously. "You don't honestly think you're that sneaky about it, do you? I mean...seriously, Anakin, you sneak out of the Jedi temple almost every night when we're on Coruscant . Who do you think covers for you when someone wonders where you've gone?"

He hadn't even been aware that anyone had noticed. He'd spent hours coming up with the perfect excuses to be away from the Jedi temple at night. He thought he'd been so clever, so circumspect...

Obi-Wan wasn't finished. "Need I remind you who raised you? The others don't know you as well as I do, so they likely haven't noticed your...disappearances like I have. Besides, you've always had a strong affection for Senator Amidala, even as a child and long before you became a Jedi. I just didn't think you'd...ah, had children together."

"As far as I know, we haven't." He didn't even think about the words. He was still reeling from the entire conversation. He expected Obi-Wan to react...well, like he always had whenever he'd screwed up. With exasperation, admonishment, and explanations about why what he'd done wasn't becoming of a good Jedi, and how it would never get him to where he wanted to be on the council…

"And yet, your son is in the med bay right this very moment being treated for a missing hand he claims your future self cut off." He paused. "Your future Sith self, I might add."

"I wouldn't." He immediately stood and began pacing, suddenly feeling the urge to do something, anything, if only to prevent the future events that had his son hating him so much…

"I...I know," Obi-Wan hesitated, and Anakin bristled at the obvious placating, "But...what if you did?"

"There is no what if, Obi-Wan. I've worked for years to destroy the Sith. I'm supposed to be the one to destroy them, remember? So how in the kriff would I…?"

"Technically," Obi-Wan interrupted with a frown. "You're supposed to bring balance to the Force. That's what the prophecy says."

"Which is done by destroying the Sith."

"I'd like to believe that, yes...but it doesn't really specify how you're to accomplish this."

Anakin stopped pacing, shooting a glare at his mentor. "I may have broken the Code, yes, but I believe in our cause, Obi-Wan. I would never, ever betray the Jedi! Breaking a silly Code and betrayal of our comrades are two totally different things. If you're suggesting…"

"Force, Anakin! No, that's not what I'm trying to say!" There was that old, familiar exasperation. The tone that meant Obi-Wan was trying to make a point and he felt Anakin wasn't listening. "I'm trying to help you here, dammit! Do you think I want this future to happen, either?"

Anakin crossed his arms over his chest and scowled. "Which one? The one where I have a son with my wife or the one where I become a Sith Lord?"

He realized his mistake the moment Obi-Wan paled and his mouth fell open in shock. " Wife? Did you just say 'Wife'?!"

Shit.

"By the Force...I knew you two had something going on but...your wife?! For how long?!"

"You didn't answer the question…" Somehow, he'd rather talk about potentially turning to the Dark Side over talking about his private love life.

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes. "Of course I was talking about preventing you from falling to the Dark Side, now answer the damn question, Anakin!"

Kriff!.

"Um." Force, this was awkward. And embarrassing. Deep down, he'd known this day would come eventually, but now that it was actually here, he was tempted to attempt to abandon ship with an escape pod to avoid talking about it. It wouldn't work, though. Obi-Wan would hunt him down no matter where he went. "Since...I brought her back to Naboo...after Geonosis?"

Obi-Wan slumped back in his seat, his eyes widening. "That was three years ago!" He buried his face in his hands. "I thought...how have I been…?"

"Well. Guess I haven't been that obvious after all then." It wasn't that much of a comfort in this moment, however.

Obi-Wan seemed to agree. "Is there anything else you want to tell me? Any other Code-breaking secrets you're hiding?"

He tried to remember if there was anything else. "No. That's it."

"That's it." Obi-Wan scoffed. "That's a huge it, b ut I suppose it's better than a whole list of secrets." He rubbed his beard, deep in thought. "Hypothetically, if you were to turn to the Dark Side…"

"I wouldn't."

"I know, but hear me out. Hypothetically speaking...what would make you do it?"

He didn't even want to be hypothetical about it. The thought of turning into someone like Dooku or Maul made his stomach churn. He wanted to recoil away from even thinking about it...but Obi-Wan had a point. Evidently, things would go wrong, very, very wrong in the future, and he needed to prepare for it whether he liked it or not. "I...I guess...maybe if I thought it would help others?"

"You already help others. You don't need to be a Sith to do that. In fact, Sith don't do that."

"I...I really don't know. How am I supposed to know…?"

"Well, what about this? If something were to happen to Senator Amidala, and you felt the Dark Side was the only way to save her life, would you do it?"

Anakin's mouth went dry, real fear beginning to settle in. Did Obi-Wan sense something through the Force? Did he know something and this was his way to tell him? Was she in danger? He hadn't had a chance to reach out to her in months. In fact, the Chancellor himself had specifically ordered that he and Obi-Wan remain in the Outer Rim until things could be contained, and for that very reason, their mission needed to be on the down low. They couldn't risk their transmissions being intercepted…

"If Padme's life was in danger, would you betray me? Would you betray the Jedi Order? Would you betray the entire Republic, democracy, hell everything, in order to save her?" Obi-Wan asked again when he didn't answer.

He couldn't answer. He knew the answer. As a result, they both knew it. It didn't need to be said.

Yes.

"I need to contact her." There was a high pitched ringing in his ears. Was that normal? No, probably not. He sat down, pulling his com link from his belt. He cast pleading eyes on his mentor. "Please. I know we're not supposed to, but…"

"This changes everything." Obi-Wan nodded with resignation. "I know. Besides. It would seem you two have a bit of a...family matter to deal with on top of the whole 'preventing a bleak future for us all' thing happening."

"You don't...I mean, Count Dooku is bad, and there's a war going on, but...if I turned, I...I wouldn't hurt an entire galaxy… " The reasoning seemed weak even to his own ears.

His friend just shook his head, his expression grave, solemn. "If this unknown Master Sith Lord targets you in the future, Anakin, it's because you're the Chosen One, and because of your unrivaled power in the Force. I hate to say it, but I fear something far, far worse would happen if you were to turn."

"Oh." He said weakly. He was already thumbing in Padme's frequency. "No pressure, right?"

Obi-Wan didn't respond, just let Anakin call his wife.


Pregnant.

The word slammed into her, over and over again. From the moment her med droid gave her the news after she'd thrown up all morning in the fresher of her private office, to sitting in her pod in the senate, barely listening as she quietly hugged herself, that word dominated her every thought, every breath, every step.

Pregnant. Pregnant. Pregnant. Pregnant.

Pregnant.

Force, how did this happen? Well, duh...she knew how . It's just...they'd always been so, so careful! Well, except during those ten days on Naboo after he was knighted just before he left for the Outer Rim sieges, her conscience reminded her. Oh yeah. That. She'd forgotten about that. His leave from the Jedi had been so unexpected, such a surprise that...in her haste to join him at Varykino for their secret rendezvous, she'd forgotten to pack her birth control.

Well. Just her luck. Now she was unexpectedly pregnant just as the war was cresendoing into (hopefully) its final stages.

This was just perfect. Not.

Her husband would be shocked, to be sure. But she was more concerned about how upset he would likely be.

Maybe she could hide it, at least until she could request leave to have the baby. Now, there was a thought. Granted, she was already starting to show just the tiniest little bit. Given the stress she'd been under the last few months, what with the war escalating and her husband being off the grid fighting in the Outer Rim for months on end with no word on or from him, it was no wonder her entire body was out of whack. She'd been working longer hours, eating little, and sleeping even less. Small wonder her pregnancy was such a shock. Still, she could probably hide it under rather voluminous robes and have it in secret back home on Naboo. The Queen would likely be upset, true. She might lose her senatorship, maybe. The entire media, when they found out she had a child, would want to know who the father was, obviously. That kind of media spectacle would cause more drama than necessary, and in the middle of the war…

Kriff, she was in so much trouble!

She lowered her head into her hands wearily, oblivious to anyone else watching her. Beside her, however, Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan stiffened, though he made no comment. The Senate was still in session, and would be for several more hours. So, now wasn't the time to find out why his good friend was acting so strangely and out of character.

She needed to pull herself together. Where was her normal durasteel-like composure?

Easy answer. She'd lost it the moment she'd heard, " Congratulations, Senator Amidala, you're pregnant!"

Pregnant…Oh Force.

Her parents and her sister didn't even know she was married . No one did. How would she explain this? Maybe she could convince Anakin to let her tell just her...well, their... family. It wouldn't be a hard argument, but the more people who knew of their relationship, the more likely they were to be found out.

Except now she was pregnant, and there was no doubt the child would be Force sensitive. Highly Force sensitive at that. With their luck, the child would be almost as powerful as Anakin. The Jedi would want...no, demand answers.

Not to mention the rights to the child to raise it from birth in the creche as a Jedi.

That thought soured her mood even further.

She ran over every scenario she could think of in her mind, but none of it mattered. She didn't see how this could end any other way without everyone finding out the truth at some point.

Which would disgrace her and Anakin both. Not to mention her family, Naboo, and the Jedi Order.

So, the obvious question would be, how and when did they want to come clean?

More than ever, she wanted to call Anakin. She knew that she tended to be the more realistic one in their relationship. Hell, she was being way too realistic about all of this right now. She could use some of her husband's idealism. Sometimes she envied him that ability to act first and think about consequences later. If she was in his shoes, she would have left the Senate right that moment.

If only, right?

But...doing that wouldn't change the situation. And, the Jedi wouldn't tell her of Anakin and Obi-Wan's whereabouts. Not even with her vaulted rank of one of the Senate's senior and most respected senators. In fact, storming into the Temple and demanding answers would probably raise suspicions. Plus, could they sense her baby? Probably. Jedi seemed able to sense just about everything else. Why not a pregnancy, too?

Axe that idea.

No. The only other person who would possibly know where Anakin was would be the Chancellor. He was, after all, the leader of the Republic, and was constantly in the loop with what was going on with the details of the war effort. On top of that, he was like a mentor to her husband, so it made sense to her that he'd know where he was. Maybe he could even contact him…

The practical side of her recoiled at the idea. She respected the Chancellor and all he'd done for her and her family. For Naboo and the Republic. She appreciated the advice he gave to her husband.

She sighed. But the fact of the matter was, he'd been in power for far too long. People continued to die all across the galaxy, and any effort at peace talks were thwarted from the very top, which she admittedly found disconcerting, to say the least. Sometimes she felt like the war would never end, and Palpatine would stay in power for the rest of his life like some kind of dictator. That thought made her highly concerned…and gave her pause.

So, if he found out she was pregnant, and with Anakin's baby, no less...what would he do with that knowledge?

Something told her that wouldn't be wise. Or good.

But the side of her that wanted to be idealistic recognized that if she wanted any hope of getting in contact with Anakin, Palpatine was the only man who could do it without immediately destroying her husband's future with the Jedi.

That's what I'll do, she decided, sitting back up and schooling her features back into a picture perfect mask of the attentive senator. She still had no idea what was being said. As soon as this is over, I'll put in a request to see the Chancellor. I'll...make up a story. But...what?

For the remainder of the meeting, she pondered different stories she could tell the Chancellor that would convince him to let her get in contact with Anakin. By the time the meeting adjourned, she wasn't any closer to anything other than "I'm just concerned for his safety." Which was still a highly suspicious story, but...maybe she could make it work. She was a politician after all. She could so this! She knew how to spin a story to her advantage with great adeptness. Besides, Palpatine was well aware that she and Anakin were close. Maybe it wouldn't be too odd to ask after his well being then…

She still didn't feel great about it, though. The Chancellor's frequent power grabs were definitely making her...concerned with the direction he was going in. Maybe she'd be better off to request the meeting for the next morning, after she'd had a chance to sleep on it…

"Padme, are you quite alright?" Bail asked, interrupting her inner thoughts, concern filling his voice as the senate session ended for the day. They stood to file out of the pod. "You seemed rather ill there for a few moments."

"Just a little nauseous today, Bail. I'm afraid something didn't agree with me this morning. Nothing to concern yourself with. But, thank you for asking." It was the truth, and considering she was well known in the tabloids as being single, probably not suspicious. People got sick with the stomach flu all the time. Or maybe she'd eaten something bad. Either were perfect, believable excuses, especially while she wasn't yet significantly showing…

But when the baby bump grew, what then?

She needed to call Anakin.

"Maybe you should lie down, then. I know what we do is important work, but it's not worth the cost of your health." Bail said as they shuffled into the hallway. She began to make her way towards the Chancellor's office, Bail following close beside her.

She needed to get rid of him. She didn't want to raise questions…

"I'm fine, really. I got a clean bill of health before I came in today. I'll lie down soon, I promise." She gave him her best dazzling smile.

Bail didn't appear convinced. "If it's all the same to you, I'd like to make sure you get back to your office safely."

Kriff.

Well, she reasoned, my office is on the way to the Chancellor's. I'll go, wait for him to leave, then head over to see Palpatine.

"If it puts your mind at ease, Bail, you're more than welcome to do so." She replied diplomatically. She didn't want to offend her friend.

"Great." Bail smiled, visibly relaxing and together they headed to her office.

By the time they reached it, however, her nerves were getting more and more frazzled by the second. She was certain that wasn't good for someone in her...condition, which was all the more reason to push Bail out the door as soon as possible so she could sneak off to visit Palpatine.

Her office door swished open to reveal Threepio.

"Oh, Senator!" Threepio cried, raising his arms in a gesture she recognized as relief. If there was one thing she could take comfort in, it was the fact that her nerves probably weren't as bad as Threepio's. She always thought the quirky golden droid was the most anxious being in the entire galaxy. Everything rattled his circuitry. "Thank goodness you've returned."

"What is it, Threepio?" She asked, half expecting him to go on about missing items for the next meeting she'd planned with Bail and Mon Mothma.

"Maybe now isn't the best time. Senator Amidala isn't feeling well…" Bail began, but she held up a hand to forestall him.

"I promise, anything Threepio has for me, I can handle just fine. Thank you for walking me over, Senator Organa. I'll see you tomorrow before the session."

Bail hesitated, glancing at Threepio, then nodded. "Alright."

She waited until he left before closing her door and turning back to face her droid. "Alright. What's wrong?" She asked again. As soon as she was done speaking, she was sure Bail would be far enough away for her to sneak back out safely…

"It's Master Anakin!" Threepio explained in a rush, gesturing wildly to the comm on her desk. "He's contacted you nine times in the last few hours! "

All thoughts about Bail and Palpatine flew out of her mind, and for a moment she just stared at the golden protocol droid. Then, " What? Why didn't you…? Show me!"

Three months. She hadn't heard from him in three months. She didn't think she would until he returned... if he returned…

But why call? And why nine times? He knew that if she didn't pick up, it was likely because she was in a senate meeting, unless something bad happened and…

She hurried to her desk, Threepio trailing behind her. "I knew I should have answered," He said, scolding himself, "If it was important and you missed the message…"

She keyed in her code to unlock the encryption and began playing through the recordings her husband had left behind.

" Angel, when you get this, comm me."

"Padme, it's really important. Comm me back."

"I know you're busy, but I promise this is more important…"

They were all along those lines, each becoming more and more frantic without giving away any details. And with each message, she began to panic until she was practically hyperventilating. "Threepio," She said when the last one played.

"Yes, Senator?"

"Cancel all of my remaining meetings today and inform anyone who asks that I am currently indisposed. If they ask for more details, explain that it's a personal matter, and I will meet with them tomorrow and reschedule their appointment."

That wouldn't go over well, true, but plenty of other senators took personal leave. She'd only done so when she was sick, so maybe they'd just assume she was sick. Especially after earlier today in the Senate chambers.

It was...sort of true.

As soon as Threepio had shuffled out to follow her orders, she thumbed in the frequency Anakin had left behind for her to call. She waited, her free hand going to rest on her abdomen. This wasn't how she planned to tell him. Then again, nothing today had gone as planned.

" Padme?" Anakin answered. He sounded exhausted and out of breath, but hopeful it was her on the other end.

"Yes, Ani. It's me." She closed her eyes, savoring his voice anyway, even as her heart clenched with worry. She'd missed him. "What's wrong?"

A pause. " Well, Angel, I missed you, too…"

She loosed a breath she didn't know she was holding. "I didn't mean it that way, Ani. I'm sorry. You just have me worried. It's not like you to call and leave so many messages…"

"I couldn't help it." He paused, and he sounded serious again. " Angel, something's happened."

"What is it? Are you okay? Are you hurt?" She braced herself for the news. She knew this was a possibility, but at least she knew without a doubt he was alive. She'd helped him through a traumatic injury before…

"I'm fine. For now."

Her brows knitted together. Then why contact her? "What are you about to do?!" She asked before she could stop herself, panic dripping in her voice.

"I, ah, actually already did it."

She blinked. That wasn't cryptic at all, was it. "But you're not injured."

"No, I'm not injured. I promise." He sighed. " Look, I can't explain it here. I'm using a secure comm, but who knows what's safe and what isn't anymore? What's happened is...well, it's big, Angel. Huge, really. And I need you to come meet me."

She sat back in her seat, stunned. Out of everything she'd expected, it certainly wasn't that . "I can't just…" she began, but he cut her off.

"Please, Padme! I know you're busy, but this...this is bigger than anything happening in the Senate. Seriously. I need you now more than ever. This concerns...you and I." He didn't say our family, but she knew he meant it.

"If it's between you and I, how is that bigger than anything in the Senate?"

"It just is!" His voice rose for a second, and he quickly attempted to control himself. "It just is, okay? I told you, I can't risk telling you anything more over this channel. Please, Padme. I need you to trust me."

"I do trust you, Ani." She replied automatically even as her mind whirled with the implications of...whatever was apparently happening. Anakin was always asking her to run off with him to go on some romantic getaway, but he'd never done so in the middle of a campaign. He was too much of a good soldier, a great general to do that. So, if he was asking this of her, it had to be for a very good reason.

She would be lying if she said she didn't want to see him, didn't want to hold him again. It was all she'd dreamed about the longer he was away…

And when she saw him, she could give him her news in person.

The hand over her still flat abdomen fisted around the material of her dress.

"Alright." She said. "Where am I going?"