Padm? sighed and rolled over to look at the chrono, and as soon as she realized what time it was she practically threw herself out of bed.
"Anakin!" she shouted from the bedroom. "Why on Coruscant did you turn off the alarm? You knew I had a meeting this morning!" Anakin wandered into the bedroom trying to look nonchalant, carrying a cup of sweet tea. He was dressed in his leggings and light shirt and seemed completely unperturbed by Padm??s distress.
"You should go back to bed," he said gently. "You've been so unwell...and, well... there's the baby..." He almost choked on this last sentence, still trying to wrap his mind around the situation. She had told him of the pregnancy only a week ago and had fallen ill so soon afterwards that Anakin had not really had a chance to consider this... this event. Obi-Wan had graciously, if begrudgingly, allowed him to stay with her during the illness while the Council decided what to do. While he was able, he planned on staying with her as much as he possibly could. Padm?, however, seemed to have other plans.
Much to his dismay, Padm? started madly coursing through her bureau. She began muttering curses that made even Anakin, who had grown up in the back streets of Mos Espa, blush.
"Where is Dorm??" she grumbled, alternately pulling out gowns and then discarding them. "I can't get into half of these blasted Senatorial gowns without her help!" She paused, ran a hand through her hair, sighed in exasperation, and turned to look at Anakin, who hadn't said a word. When she saw the hurt expression on his face she paused, a little taken aback.
"Ani? What?s wrong?" Padm? asked him softly.
"I thought you would stay home today," he said quietly, trying unsuccessfully to mask the hurt in his voice. "After all, you've been ill..." He looked down to the floor, aware he was repeating himself but unsure of what else to say. She put the last of the gowns she held onto the back of the chair. Padm? wandered over to her husband, who had turned away almost as if he were sulking. She put her hand on his shoulder and he pulled away, still not meeting her gaze. Smiling tenderly, she cupped his chin in her other hand, and turned his face towards her own.
"Anakin," she whispered. "Look at me..."
At first he resisted, his pride wounded, but at last he allowed her eyes to meet his.
"I'm sorry," he said finally. "I've never dealt with anything like this before... I don't know how to treat you... how to act... I sent Dorm? away and then sent word to the Chancellor's Office asking if they could excuse you for another day..."
Padm? suddenly silenced him with a kiss. She closed her eyes, slowly running her hands down his back and pulling him closer. He tenderly returned her kiss, putting his arms around her back but carefully avoiding her belly.
At last, eyes still closed, she rested her head under his chin.
"Forgiven... this time," Padm? told him, and she began to giggle.
"What's so funny?" he asked irritably.
She didn't say anything but slowly moved his left hand down to her belly and held it there, even as he tried to pull away.
"Don't be silly, Ani," she murmured into his breastbone, lacing her fingers into his. "There's nothing to be afraid of..."
"I'm not afraid!" replied Anakin, aware that the tremor in his voice belied the truth. "Really... It's just... just..."
She began to rock with him, and after a moment, Anakin began almost dreamily humming a lullaby.
"Is that for me, or for your baby?" Padm? asked him playfully. He didn?t answer her directly but she could feel him tighten his embrace, ever so slightly. She sighed, just enjoying the feeling of being close to him.
At last she pulled away a little, when the moment had passed. "And now that you've got me to yourself today..." She pulled one hand slowly around to his front and traced a line lightly down his chest and abdomen with her fingertips. "Tell me 'Master Jedi'..." she whispered huskily, then softly nuzzled at his throat.
"For our baby," he purred and suddenly lifted her into his arms. "I have other plans for you..."
"Breakfast?" she asked him coyly.
"Breakfast," he agreed, carrying her back to their bed. "And something to eat afterwards..."
They lay together after love, blissfully content in each other's arms. Despite his initial bravado, Anakin had been as gentle and considerate to her as on their wedding night and Padm?, who was perhaps not as fully recovered as she had thought, had fallen deeply asleep. Anakin tenderly stroked the side of her head, thinking to himself. His mind kept drifting back to one thing in particular: the loving, comforting feeling he had shared rocking with Padm?. It seemed so natural, so... right. He had vague memories of rocking with his mother on Tatooine in a rocker chair made of wood and of fragments of the lullaby he had shared with Padm? earlier; but mostly he remembered feelings of comfort and belonging. Even as an older child, mom and the rocker chair... the wooden rocker chair. Wood was almost as rare on Tatooine as it was on Coruscant but somehow, somewhere, she had found it. Perhaps she had traded for it in the limited side markets of Mos Espa, he wasn't sure. All he knew was that it had been a permanent fixture in their sparse lives, and a comforting one at that. A place where he could just 'be'... sometimes with mom, sometimes just himself. It was a touch of home that seemed to be sorely lacking in this Senatorial apartment. The flat was comfortable enough, Anakin supposed, far more luxurious than the quarters he would have shared with Master Obi-Wan in the Jedi temple. Compared to the slave quarters it was a virtual palace, but still...
He reluctantly tried to push the thought aside. Of course one could find furniture almost anywhere, even wooden chairs. Indeed, in the small antechamber that served as the bedroom Padm? had managed to bring a pair of wooden chairs from Naboo. But even they seemed to serve more as a reminder of her duty as a Senator as opposed to her home world. It seemed that other than a couple of very small tokens of endearment that they had given each other, their 'home' was still just a place like any other. They had their 'Secret Place,' which had served as their safe house on those rare occasions when they could be together. But again, it was just a 'place.' Everywhere was just a place, and what he wanted was a home.
Again his mind drifted back to the rocker chair. It seemed to sum up so many feelings, all good and warm. He suddenly had a vision of Padm?, sitting and rocking back and forth with the first of their children in her arms. His heart ached at the thought of what a lovely gift that would make. She had given him a family of his own; he could give her...
How are you going to get it, Skywalker? Not only are possessions forbidden, but Credits and Jedi Padawans seem to be mutually exclusive and do you really see Master Kenobi opening his pocketbook for such a thing... Anakin grimaced. No, that wouldn't work...
Droid parts... It might work...
The parts dumps he'd visited as a teenager sneaking away from the Jedi Temple
Trade for the wood...
Trade small working droids in the markets of lower Coruscant
He could build it himself...
Padm? said he needed something else to do to keep himself occupied...
It could work.
"Padm?...?" he whispered softly and she sighed in response. "I'll make us something to eat, okay?"
She rolled over, still fast asleep, and he kissed her tenderly on the forehead.
"Angel..." he said quietly, and slowly made his way out of the bed and into the kitchenette.
"Tomorrow," he thought to himself. He would start putting this idea into action then. For now, it was time to feed his wife and child...
It had taken him nearly a month and a half to do it but at long last it was finished. The rocker chair was large enough and sturdy enough to hold even Threepio's weight, yet it was delicate in its design. At least twenty-six different kinds of wood from various scraps and market traders all had been lovingly reshaped and carved into his beautiful gift of the heart. Barring any last minute decisions from Obi-Wan to take off to some gods-forsaken planet on some pointless exercise or another, he could bring it home to Padm? as soon as tomorrow. Well, technically later today. Anakin had become swallowed up the act of creation, finalizing small details that he had been completely unaware of the time until a quick glance at the chrono told him how late it really was.
Anakin tried to sneak in to bed next to Padm? as carefully as he could, hoping not to disturb her. It was almost dawn and he wanted to get at least a few hours of sleep...
"Do all Jedi have such cold feet?" she asked him quietly, irritation evident in her voice.
"No," he yawned. "Just desert dwellers." He put his arms around her tenderly but to his surprise, she pulled away. "Padm??" he whispered quietly. "What's wrong?"
"If you have to ask..." she snapped.
Anakin groaned and sat up. He was too tired to deal with such things as a temperamental, sometimes irrational, pregnant wife. Still, discretion was decidedly in order here. He started stroking her arm, trying to ignore the fact that she had pulled the coverlet practically over her head.
"Angel?" he pressed tenderly. "Please..."
"Why don't you use one of your damned Jedi mind tricks to find out?" she started to weep and he grew more concerned.
"Padm?, please..." he entreated. "I really don't know what's wrong."
"You lied to me!" she sobbed, curling up and away from his touch. "I talked to Obi-Wan! He didn?t know a damn thing about your ?special mission?..."
"What?" he exclaimed, thoroughly puzzled at first and then as realization dawned on him he grew angry. "Oh for the love of... Padm?, it's not what you think..." Force! How was he going to get out of this one? There was only one way. Reluctantly, he got back out of bed and began to get dressed.
"Where are you going?" she cried incredulously. "I can't believe you're just going to leave!"
Anakin sighed through gritted teeth. Obi-Wan would pay dearly for his lack of discretion, but for now he had to take care of the business at hand.
"Padm?, beloved... I need to take care of something... I'll be back soon enough..."
Padm? threw a pillow at him, hitting him square in the chest, and then hid herself under the covers, sobbing. "Just go, Skywalker! I don?t want you here right now!"
Anakin, who was not a patient man in the best of circumstances, snapped.
"Fine!" he shouted. "Perhaps I just won't come back at all!" With that he stormed out of the little flat, seemingly oblivious to Padm?'s tears.
Anakin summoned an air taxi and headed out towards the outskirts of the main city. Thankfully the driver could see that his passenger was not in a sociable state of mind, and after a very brief attempt at conversation allowed Anakin to be alone with his thoughts. Part of him was furious, not only with Padm? and Obi-Wan, but with himself as well. What in the name of the Force had come over him? He had never walked out on her before, never any farther than the next room anyway. He was angry, and hurt, and above all exhausted. The strain of trying to keep up with his training and the war on top of trying to complete the chair was just too much. He needed just to get away for a little while and think. It would be a long journey to the flat and he wanted to rest. Anakin leaned back, closed his eyes, and tried to relax to no avail. His mind would not stop turning things over and over; fear and self-doubt rang through his mind like a is this an tolling bell. "Not good enough," sang one side. "Can't do this," sang the other. "What do you know about being a father?" a new voice chimed in. Anakin suddenly threw his hands over his head, trying to shut out the sounds, but they only increased in their ear-splitting din.
"Enough!" he shrieked, startling the driver, who already had stopped the air cab.
"Sir?" he said warily. "Are you alright? We're at your destination..."
Anakin slowly uncovered his ears and raised his head. He blinked in momentary confusion until he realized that he must have fallen asleep after all.
"Sir?" the drive inquired again, but this time Anakin forced a smile.
"Sorry," he mumbled. "Tired I guess..."
"Are you sure this is where you want to be let off, sir?" the driver began, but Anakin silenced him with a glance. He paid the fare and tipped a little more generously than he usually did, anxious to get inside. The little smuggler's flat had become a queer sort of sanctuary in recent months, first for himself and Padm?, and now just for himself. It was a place that was away from everyone and everything, a place where he could almost always silence the voices of self-doubt that plagued him more and more frequently as both the war and now his wife's pregnancy progressed.
He used his access key and listened for the beep that signified that the door had locked behind him. Anakin took a deep breath and sighed, throwing his clothes rather haphazardly around the room. Obi-Wan had hated it when he did that, as did Padm?, but now that he was alone he felt an almost childish sense of rebellion in the actions. He savored the feeling momentarily, then picked up the clothes and tossed them over to the chair.
The chair! The damned rocker chair! Part of him wanted to take it and throw it across the room in a fit of destructive rage, but in his heart he knew better. It seemed to sum up everything in its completion. The reality of why he'd made it! The sight of the completed piece seemed to cement the fact in his mind that this was a gift for his wife, his firstborn. His own! The thought was both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.
"Father..." he whispered aloud, both relishing and fearing the word. "Mom..."
He flinched a little at that thought. Shmi would never know her grandchildren and the idea pained him a little.
"Stop clinging to the past, Skywalker," he admonished himself. "She?s gone, and no amount of guilt or self-berating will bring her back. She?s one with the Force now? and part of her will always be with you. With us..." He allowed himself a small smile as it finally really sank in. Padm?. The baby. Their family... His family. It would take some getting used to, but he could do it. Just one little step at a time starting with the tradition of the family rocker chair.
He would rest for a little while and then arrange to have the chair transported to Padm??s flat while he took her to a quiet restaurant and made things up to her. The rocker would be waiting for her when they returned and hopefully she would be in a more forgiving frame of mind. Hopefully. Only dressed in a light shirt and trousers, he threw himself on to the bed and closed his eyes again. He didn't hear the click of the door being opened or the beep that followed. Unaware he had company, Anakin fell into an exhausted sleep.
The intruder just stood in the doorway, watching the young Jedi sleep. Anakin, seemingly blissfully unaware, sighed softly and rolled over on to his side, and perhaps, just perhaps, a soft snore could be heard.
Emboldened, the figure took a tentative step towards the sleeping young Jedi, and was met with the snap-hiss of an ignited lightsaber to the throat.
Padm? fell back a step, shrieking and suddenly uttering a purely unladylike curse, causing Anakin to open his eyes as wide as they'd ever been. Disengaging the deadly blade, he dropped the saber to the floor and practically threw himself at her.
"Oh Force! Beloved!" he cried, and began smothering her face with kisses. "Gods, I could have..."
"Oh Ani..." Padm? sobbed, burying her face into his chest. "I didn't mean to drive you away..."
Anakin pulled her in even closer. "Oh, Padm?," he whispered softly into her ear. "Never, never, never think that..." He started to undo the fastenings on her coat. It was an oddly heavy coat for the season, and he figured that even in the chill of the flat she would be hot. He slipped his hands inside and to his surprise they met bare flesh. Anakin pulled away and looked at Padm?, thoroughly puzzled.
Padm? smiled sweetly at him and began to finish undoing the buttons.
"I wanted to make my apologies to you... in person," she said huskily, and dropped the coat to the floor, where it pooled around her ankles. The only thing that adorned her now was a pair of slip-on shoes that were quickly and carelessly kicked aside. She took his hands into her own, holding the one to her breast and placing the other to her lips. She kissed his open palm, delighting in his reaction.
"I'm sorry, Ani..." she whispered, and then began to tease his fingertips over her lips suggestively. "Can we kiss and make up?"
Anakin only nodded dumbly at first and pulled her back down on to the bed, closer to himself. He finally found his voice, choked as it might have been. "Only good part of a fight," he murmured into her ear. "Making up... next time... skip the fight... go straight to this... "
Padm? nodded and began tracing kisses down the front of his body, undressing him as she went. Quickly Padm? realized that her plans for an apology were being very, very well received indeed.
Hours later they lay together, just enjoying each other?s warmth. Anakin stroked her hair tenderly, a look of consternation on his face.
"What in the name of the Gods possessed you, Love?" he asked, concern evident in his voice. "Even in the best of times that wasn't exactly the safest or smartest thing you've ever done..." He immediately regretted his last statement, and would have given anything to take it back.
"You don't think I can take care of myself, Skywalker?" She sat up suddenly, poking his chest lightly but firmly. "Do you really think after all of these years in politics and multiple attempts on my life that I would be so foolish as to not be prepared? Dorm? was following behind in a speeder just to make sure..."
Anakin took her hand and began kissing her fingers. "I'm sorry, Beloved," he began quietly, a small smile on his lips. His expression quickly became one of concern when he saw her wince as she started to get up.
"Padm??" he pleaded softly, unsure.
"It's alright," she gave him a smile that quickly faded to a grimace.
"The... the baby?" Anakin's voice trembled a little. Force this was so difficult!
"Your son," she chastised him gently. "He gets, well, fidgety for want of a better word. I have to move about to calm him down." She reached down to the floor, picked up Anakin's shirt and slipped it over her head. "Cold..." she sighed.
"Excuse me, milady!" Anakin chuckled, pulling on his trousers. "We've had this conversation before. A Jedi's clothes are not..."
She leaned over and kissed his nose. "Would you rather I wear one of those regular 'outside' dresses? All bulky and ceremonial... Besides, this is just as handy." Anakin just shook his head, still chuckling. He suddenly stopped, all seriousness again.
"Wait," he said softly. "Close your eyes..."
"Ani, I can't sit still..." she protested a little anxiously.
"Trust me, just for a moment." Anakin walked over to the rocker chair that had been shoved into the corner and covered with his discarded clothing. He uncovered it and carefully pulled it into a better light.
"Eyes still closed?" he asked, and Padm? sighed but nodded in agreement. He walked over to her and covered her eyes, then led her over to the middle of the room. Slowly he lowered his hands and wrapped his arms around her chest from behind.
"Okay," he whispered. "You can look now..."
Padm? opened her eyes and gasped, speechless. He always had been either tinkering with small electrical parts or shaping small pieces of wood. Always busy with something. She knew that Anakin had many skills, even for a Jedi, but this...
"Oh... Ani..." she breathed at last. "It's beautiful..." She turned to him, eyes wide. "This is what... where..." She couldn't finish her train of thought. She looked deeply into his sleepy blue eyes, and he smiled.
"Do you like it?" he asked her quietly.
Padm? kissed him tenderly. "Oh, Beloved, it's beautiful. How did you get the..." She trailed off, embarrassed.
Anakin only chuckled softly. "No need to worry, dear heart. Nothing illegal... a few late night requisitions, traded for some other... Okay, perhaps not completely above board but nothing to be too concerned over. Unless you don't want it..." He arched his eyebrows in mock surprise. Padm? lightly poked him in the chest again; this time her touch became a caress as she turned to look at the rocker chair again, taking in all of the intricacies.
The woods themselves were of different hues, reflecting both their different ages and origins. Everything was placed together in such a way that the overall effect was that of a homey piece, made more for utility as opposed to aesthic purposes.?But there was one minor exception. On the back of the chair, a small pair of wings were intricately engraved and inlaid with a pearlesent material, and in Aurebesh the word "Angel" underneath.
"Sit," he entreated her, leading her over to the rocker.
"Would it hold both of us?" she whispered, a teasing lilt to her voice, and as if to demonstrate Anakin sat down and pulled her into his lap.
"Satisfied?" he nuzzled her ear and chuckled again. Slowly but surely, with Padm? securely in his lap, he began to rock. She put her arms around his neck and sighed contentedly. Anakin supported her back with one arm, keeping the other on the side of the chair, and after a moment he began to sing very softly.
"Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
Father will come to thee soon;
Sleep my little one,
Sleep my pretty one,
While he was singing he felt Padm? relaxing into his embrace, the tension leaving her body. She used her free hand to lightly stroke his chest. Anakin in the meantime, perhaps not even aware he was doing it, slowly moved his hand from the arm of the chair. At long last, he gently began stroking Padm?'s slightly swollen belly.
"Hello, little one, I'm your father..."
Original cover by DarthBreezy. HTML formatting copyright 2003 TheForce.Net LLC.