Title: Knight In Tattered Rags
Author: Restive Nature
Disclaimer: I do not own either of these shows. All characters of Buffy belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. Star Wars characters and settings belong to George Lucas.
Rating: PG-13 though for subject matter
Type: Angst, hope
Pairing: Xander/ Princess Leia, sort of
Summary: What’s a poor guy to do when he gets sucked into a fair Princess’ world?
Spoilers/ Time line:This fiction takes place after my story “Making The List” written for the TtH fic-for-all pairings. But in this story, Xander has traveled to a time when a younger Princess Leia is around.
Feedback: Always welcome!
Distribution: Ask first please.
A/N: This fiction came about for two reasons. The first was that I was very unhappy with several incongruities between the first trilogy George Lucas produced and then the second. This oversight was the most annoying to me and this became my answer to fixing that. Secondly, the first fiction “Making The List” (found here- Holly Jolly Holidays- Chapter 1
) was so well received and I had several requests to continue the story. So here it is. There will be a third installment some time down the road.
Knight in Tattered Rags
Xander watched as the Princess, known now to them as simply Leia, made the rounds. Saying her farewells. She was again dressed in the clothes that she had appeared before him in. The golden bikini and pretty much transparent skirt. Dawn had been able to redo the hairstyle that she had had, all braided up and slicked back. Leia had given her pointers. And even as he yearned in the typical male fantastical sense for what she was wearing, he actually preferred to seeing her in the garb of the clothes that his friends had lent her. She was about Willow's size, so Willow had lent her some skirts and tops and the girls had politely bought her some undergarments on a quick impromptu shopping trip the morning after she had appeared.
Explaining everything to the world weary and wary group had gone down quickly. Leia, Xander knew, had been surprised at their quick and easy acceptance, not only of the situation, but of her. She had made friends with them all, and when Willow had studied the situation, was only dismayed at the amount of time that it would take to return her to her friends, her world, her universe. But with constant reassurance, that Willow would be able to return her to the precise moment that that old bastard had stolen her away, and that damn Santa would never have to put anything in his stockings again (!), she had relaxed and looked upon her time there as a vacation.
Dawn had spent quite a bit of time, trying to cajole the princess into staying longer. Leia had seemed to instinctively recognize Dawn's need for attention and validation and they regularly sat together, just the two of them, sipping on the hot cocoa that Leia had developed a fondness for, while giggling over Dawn's little secrets and some of the things that Leia had shared with Dawn about her life. How she grew up, the trials she faced, both funny and heartbreaking. Xander felt a pang, remembering that. The last time he had seen Dawn giggling like an actual schoolgirl, instead of the close approximation of one, was back when Tara was alive. And he knew that Willow saw it too, from the way she would hover in the doorway, watching them, a wistful half smile on her face.
For Xander, he was relieved that Dawn had someone to bond with, though his heart clenched a little when he realized that it was only temporary. But he also recognized the fact that Leia had needed this too. Upon discovering that she was a Princess, the gang had pressed her for her life story. The places she spoke of, were unfamiliar of course. But the story was close enough to touch their hearts, especially when she spoke of her mother. Joyce's death, only a few years previous, had wounded them all grievously, but none as badly as Buffy, since it always seemed to hover in Dawn's mind, that she wasn't quite real enough to have the same real bond, despite her blood ties to the Summer's.
It was to Buffy that Leia spoke most about her mother and Buffy had eventually opened up to sharing stories of Joyce. When Buffy shared how difficult it had been to finally tell her mother about her destiny, not that they really explained that to Leia, just an overview of helping girls in need, which she accepted the face value of, it was then that Leia revealed that she was actually adopted.
Everyone was quite surprised and Leia explained that her birth mother had died almost immediately after giving birth to her and her father, her adoptive father, that was, knowing that his wife had always wanted a little girl, had used his ambassadorial privileges to take her while the adoption procedure was rushed through. She had been loved, she assured them, as if she were their own. Losing the only mother she had known as a teenager had been a terrible blow, but her adopted father loved her as dearly as his wife had. It had been he that had been strong, keeping her memory and grace alive. Giving Leia a template of what a woman and princess should be.
And as she grew, she eventually took on more of the duties that her father could give her, while working for the betterment of their universe. Buffy had liked that and wanted to adopt it for their slogan. The others had voted her down, Xander remembered with amusement. Leia had first dibs and since they only worked on a global level, that had to be enough. Buffy had pouted for all of two seconds before her interest was regained when Leia asked about the kinds of tools they used for self-defense.
Xander had to admit, that as Princess' went, Leia was not snobbish at all, like one would expect. She was warm and vital and amazingly good at reading people. She had all of them pegged. But at the end of the day, it was easy to see her yearning for what she had left behind.
And now, today was finally the day. Willow had gathered the ingredients for the spell she needed, the stars or planets or some such were aligned for the return trip. And Leia was bouncing slightly on the balls of her feet.
“Okay, now,” Willow instructed as she poured a barrier of purple sand around where the princess stood. “Try and remember exactly what was going on when you disappeared, you know, as a, as a well, just remember and try and hang on to that okay?”
The princess nodded, amusement mixed with trepidation and Xander directed an encouraging grin at her as she gave everyone a small wave and then straightened her bare shoulders.
There was a pang in Xander's chest for just the slightest second that they'd met yet another person that had had to grow up way to fast. Of course, Leia didn't have to deal with apocalypses like they did. But still, who did? He could hear Willow chanting now. At the same time though, dealing with a war that spanned the universe? It was a thought that made his brain hurt. The chanting was growing and Xander smiled, more gently this time. At least Leia had had a good childhood. Before all the chaos she had, sort of currently, found herself embroiled in. It was too bad he mused, as a light began to grow in luminescence around the Princess, that he couldn't have met her when she was younger. He bet she had been as cute as a button.
A sudden pain in his chest, his skin stretching, pulling and Willow's startled exclamation were the last things that he remembered before his universe went black.
Consciousness came back slowly. Feeling was the first to return, realizing that he was laying on a hard, cold surface. And the pounding in his head. Xander tried to muffle a groan, having leaned from experience on the Hellmouth that crying out only led the bad things right to you. Light was next as his eyes fluttered open and he was nearly blinded by the light right above him. So he expediently closed his eyes once more and concentrated on what else he could tell about what was going on around him.
As things began to clear around him, he could hear a conversation going on, but it wasn't one that made sense to him.
“... can't find three pee oh anywhere,” a male's voice was worrying. His voice was soothing and Xander appreciated that, especially when the other voice responded. Female, he realized right away. And sort of familiar. But pained sounding.
“I don't think we can wait!” she wailed.
“Calmly milady,” the male soothed again and Xander could hear movement, but from what his limited sense told him, they weren't close. As in right on top of him.
“Do you think he did something with him?” the female panted and Xander wondered what he's, the plural of them, were being referenced. If maybe he was one of the he's in question.
“I could not say for sure milady,” the male sounded bemused now and then concerned. “Are you sure you wouldn't like to lay down ,perhaps?”
“It hurts Obi-wan,” the female complained. “No, I can't.”
And then Xander definitely heard the sounds of weeping. And then something clicked in his mind. He knew that name. “Obi-wan,” he murmured and then recalled, “...Kenobi.”
“He knows me?” the male seemed surprised and Xander could definitely hear the suspicion that had crept into the male's voice.
Realizing that he could no longer play possum, Xander groaned and sat up, shaking his head a lot clearer now. “I don't know you,” he groused as he stretched a little to get the kinks out of his back. He suddenly had some sort of idea what had probably happened and Willow and magic going kerflooey were at the top of his very limited list. “And the last I'd heard, you were dead.” He turned slightly to be confronted by the sight of a very heavily pregnant woman and a young man staring at him. “And a lot older. She definitely said you were older. And her dad's friend. So I'm guessing it's either your father whom you were named after or things went more kerflooey than usual?”
Unfortunately, his completely logical statement to them just seemed to confuse them anymore. Well, it had been logical to him. Xander, with a sigh, began to regain his feet, slowly and then held his hands up to show them that he was no threat. He saw the male, Obi-wan, following him with hawk eyes and even the pained cry of his female companion did not draw his eyes away.
“Ouch,” Xander sympathized with her, wincing. “Let me guess? Labor pains.” The woman shot him a miserable glare and Xander smiled tersely. “You could try panting and slow your breathing down. Otherwise you'll hyperventilate and pass out. And that's no fun, trust me.”
“You know of delivering children?” Obi-wan asked suddenly, his face wearing a calculating look.
“Obi-wan, no!” the woman protested, clutching at the guy's robe sleeve.
“Know of, yes,” Xander hedged. “Took a course to learn about it, but I've never actually had to help with one,” he explained, remembering vaguely, the courses that he took in first aid during high school. Now in the face of the situation, that seemed like an awful long way off.
“But you actually know what one is to do in a situation such as this?” Obi-wan pressed. Xander shrugged helplessly.
“Usually lots of pain medication and a licensed doctor is what you want, but yeah, I know the basics.”
“Obi-wan,” the woman protested again, but she had unconsciously started following Xander's advice, panting in between her contractions.
“Milady,” the young man spoke authoritatively, “with threepio gone, there is no one else. I have no knowledge of what to do, how to help. I must pilot the shuttle craft. We will not have any other help for several hours. By then...”
“Threepio?” Xander asked, confused. Was that someone's name, it seemed familiar as well.
“Our android,” Obi-wan answered, not moving his eyes from the woman who let out a keening cry. “Not that he had experience either,” Obi-wan suddenly smiled at Xander. “But at least he too, knew what to do.”
“All right then,” Xander decided with a resigned sigh, starting to roll up his sleeves of his sweater. And as he did so, he took a good look around and realized that when Obi-wan said shuttle craft, he wasn't talking prototype or like a bus or something. “Are we in space?” he asked, his eyes wide. Both of the others nodded and Xander blinked owlishly at them before shrugging. “Okay, not my normal mode of travel, but what they hey. It'll be a nice story.”
He approached the woman and Obi-wan moved back a little, ceding his spot to Xander. Xander held his hands out before him. “Okay, look lady, I remember that unless something is wrong, I'm pretty much supposed to let you do this yourself. But I will have to... check? You know what I mean?”
“Check?” she gasped out.
“Um yeah,” Xander blushed and gestured at her stomach and then glancing away, pointed downwards.
“Oh,” she sighed and then gasped again. “Oh!”
When Xander realized that she was reacting in the second gasp, to something with her labor, he remembered more information. He turned to look at Obi-wan. “Do you have something that you keep time by?”
The young man simply nodded and turned away for a moment before trying to hand Xander a slim, compact black and blue square.
“No, you keep that,” Xander instructed. “Do you know how far apart the contractions are?”
“I didn't think to...” Obi-wan admitted. “They seem to be very close together.”
“Okay, let's see how close,” Xander nodded. “That's a good indication of how close she is to actually pushing the baby out. Lady, you'll have to tell us when your next few contractions are.”
“Padme,” the woman panted out. “My name,” she offered and Xander nodded.
“Padme then,” he smiled as gently as he could. “My name is Xander. Really wishing if we had to meet it could've been under much different circumstances.” To his credit, that got a small smile out of her. “Okay, next question, has your water broken?”
“Yes, quite some time ago,” she answered. “Oh, now,” she directed and it was very obvious what she was referring to as her back arched again.
“Pant,” Xander instructed and feeling only slightly foolish, demonstrated. “Hee hee hee, hoooo.” He ignored their strange looks and repeated himself until Padme copied him. When her contraction eased off finally, she looked surprised.
“That seemed... better,” she sighed. Xander nodded and patted at her knee.
“Okay,” he grinned. “I'm guessing by the way you're reacting that this is your first kid?”
“Children, actually,” Obi-wan supplied and went on, ignoring Xander's suddenly panicked look. “Our android was able to ascertain that she is carrying twins.
“Hoo boy,” Xander felt slightly faint, but Padme gasped again and stiffened. “Ah crap,” he muttered, realizing that she was beyond just simple labor. “I need to look!”
Obi-wan stepped back, startled as Padme just nodded frantically, grasping anything within her reach. Xander, realizing that she was on some sort of platform, helped her scoot back to where she could lay down. Throwing modesty out the window, he reached under her very thin gown and took a quick glance. What he saw was an image that he would try very, very hard to forget when this was done. Normal everyday carpenters were not meant to see this!
Pulling his head back, but leaving his hands where they were he turned to this Obi-wan. “I need towels, blankets, anything you have to wrap a baby in, hot water and if you have a syringe to suction out the kids nose and mouth. And we'll need something to cut the umbilical cord with. Now!”
To his credit, the man didn't question Xander at all, but scrambled to retrieve what he could in their limited space. Xander turned back to the laboring woman and smiled reassuringly. Luckily, certain things were coming back. Thank you living in a house with a predominant number of women who loved watching e.r. Reruns.
“Padme?” he called, but she was shaking her head, oblivious to her surroundings. He called her name again, louder this time until she focused on him. “Do you feel the urge to push?”
“Yes. No. I don't know!” she cried out, confused, the pain obviously being too much for her equilibrium.
Xander realized instantly that one of the things he remembered being warned about in his class, so very long ago, was absolutely true. Same as for the rest of life. This woman, Padme, was in an unknown situation, giving birth for the first time and because she didn't know exactly what to expect, she was panicking. He kept the smile on his face, reaching for all the patience and solidy shoulders he had developed from many years of dealing with whatever the Hellmouth had thrown at him.
“Padme?” he began, watching as her head thrashed, not violently, but more like she didn't have a clue how to escape the pain. And that was perhaps the problem. She needed a grip on some reality and there wasn't any choice about it. “Padme,” he barked, and her eyes focused on him. “You need to stop fighting the pain. There's nothing you can do to stop it. Feed into it. Focus on it and understand it. Then we can work with it instead of against it okay?” He was immensely relieved when she nodded minutely. “Keep panting, nice and slow.”
Xander turned his head as Obi-wan returned with a bundle in his hands. He put the items within easy reach for Xander and tried to smile reassuringly, but Xander could read easily the worry in the other man's eyes. “Do you absolutely need to be shuttling this hunk of metal?” was the first question out of Xander's mouth.
The older man nodded. “I will need to periodically check the autopilot,” Obi-wan sighed. “We have co-ordinates to head to, but...”
“I'm gonna need whatever help you can give me,” Xander interrupted. “It'd be a good idea if she had something to hold onto, because this is happening now.”
The dark blond man's face tightened. “Are you sure?” Xander nodded slowly. Oh yeah, he was quite sure.
“She's crowning,” he explained, remembering the term from class and from various chick flicks that the girls had forced him to endure over the years. He saw the question and hurried to say, “that means the first babies head is just about out. I can see the top of it. How long has she been having pain?”
“It's been several hours,” Obi-wan admitted. He threw a glance at the lady, panting and moaning on the platform. “She was... injured and told me that she had been having pains before that. I... do not know if the injury exacerbated the normal progression of her labor or caused it.”
“Could be either,” Xander sighed. And then another memory surfaced. “When her water broke, was there any, um...” he searched his mind for the word, but it eluded him in that moment. “Was the water clear?”
“There was some blood with it,” the man admitted, “but otherwise clear. Is that...?” he started to ask and then his eyes darted to the pained woman, obviously hearing their conversation, her eyes beseeching of them. Xander knew what they wanted to know.
“That's completely normal in a regular birth,” he told them quickly. “I just needed to make sure there wasn't anything else because sometimes there are things that the baby can swallow that makes them sick. But you didn't see any. It's all good.” He smiled down at Padme, touching her knee. Then addressed them both. “On the next contraction, Padme, you need to sit up and push. Obi-wan, you'll have to support her. Oh and don't let her have any more than two fingers to squeeze.” At Obi-wan's puzzlement, he tried to wipe the grin off his face. “She'll break your hand man.”
Padme cried out again and they could see that she was struggling to do as Xander had instructed her. Obi-wan rushed to get behind her, even as he glanced towards the cockpit. The older man slid in deftly behind Padme, bracing her and Xander shoved sweat dampened material out of his way. “All right, Padme, hold your breath and bear down when I tell you. I'm gonna count you through this, with the contractions. Tell me when the next one comes. Then a big breath. Can you do that?”
She nodded tiredly and then her back arched again. “Oh now!” she let out a strangled half scream.
“Big breath!” Xander reminded her and once she had it, he was extremely pleased that her body seemed to find an instinctive course, her chin ducking down, her hands gripping her knees, hunching her body over and he began counting, slowly. “One... two... three...,” watching with a slight grimace of distaste as the little knot of hair that he had seen before emerged again, along with a little more head appearing. “Four... good, keep pushing, six... seven... eight... nine aaand ten!”
Her breath came out with a whoosh and she fell back against Obi-wan. Xander was only slightly surprised as the head slipped back inside a little, but eh, it was a process. He glanced up at them. “Okay, we're going to keep doing like that until the head is out. That's the hard part. Then I'm going to ease the shoulder out, one at a time, then baby is gonna slip right out. We'll get you there Padme.”
She nodded slowly and Xander could see tears leaking from her eyes. Too many reasons why she would be and all of them so totally legitimate that it wasn't worth mentioning. And then she was gasping, arching again. Xander turned his attention back to the baby and began his count at her deep breath. He was relieved that now that she was on her course, that she seemed to have started listening to her instincts instead of panicking and fighting. It was making his job a whole helluva lot easier.
They repeated the process several times until at last Xander saw a tiny face emerge, turned in towards it's mother's leg. “Okay Padme, stop! Stop pushing. Head is out!” he commanded and the woman cried out. Xander, supporting the infants head since it had none of it's own, reached with his other hand to clear the viscous mucous and other disgust inducing material from it's nose and mouth. Wiping his hand on the nearby towel, he searched until he found just as he'd asked for, an aspirator and with as gentle as motions as he could manage, cleared out some more mucous. There was a small cry from the infant as he did that, one that the other people in the silence could hear and Padme cried out, a strangled laugh.
Xander would have laughed with her, but knew they were far from done, especially as he felt the pressure of the baby against his hands. “Padme don't push!” he reminded her and she struggled to obey him. With a moue of dislike, he braced himself mentally and reached a hand in to feel what he was working with and felt one little shoulder higher than the other. He winced as he eased it out, but the infant made no protest. And then swifter than he could rationalize or realize, his hands were full of squirming infant. “It's a boy!” he announced, as proud as if he were actually the father and the infant shuddered at the probably cold feel of the platform. Which made sense Xander realized, when compared to the warmth of his mother. The sudden squalling cry seemed to reassure his mother and Padme was crying and laughing in the same moment.
Quickly Xander retrieved the towel and then realized he had a dilemma. He glanced up at Obi-wan. “Do you have any clamps? Something to tie off the cord before we cut it?”
The older man, obviously in awe at the proceedings around him, nodded and then smiled, pride shining in his eyes. “Yes,” he agreed and then glanced down at Padme. “Should I?” he gestured at the woman and Xander nodded.
“You can ease her down,” he offered. “The next one shouldn't be for a few minutes, if not longer. Twins don't always come one right after the other. Hey, I remembered that.” Obi-wan nodded and after easing out from behind Padme, making sure that she wouldn't fall back, hurried to retrieve the requested items. He returned in short order and watched over Xander's shoulder as Xander applied the clips as best he could before reaching for the knife, that he expertly tested with his thumb.
“He is beautiful, milady,” Obi-wan smiled. “Very strong.”
“Luke,” she breathed out and Xander's head came up sharply. He knew that name too.
“Skywalker?” he asked and there was a moment of panicked indecision that he saw easily pass between the two. “It doesn't matter,” he declaimed, knowing and understanding secrets and the need to keep them. “Lady I talked to, she knew a Luke Skywalker. Grew up on uh,” he struggled to recall the name of the place Leia had said. “Tatooine,” he finally remembered. “With his aunt and uncle. Probably someone else. But Luke's a good name.”
The other two were extremely quiet as Xander cleaned off the baby and he wasn't so unobservant that he didn't notice the furtive glances that they were back to exchanging. At last, he was able to wrap up the squirming child that had settled down and was now regarding everything around him with a solemnity that seemed strange to Xander. He had always thought babies pretty much slept or ate or pooped. Not regarded the people around it like they were trying to remember the secrets of life. With an unconscious smile on his face, he stepped carefully to Padme's side. Her arms were already reaching for her son.
He laid Luke down with her and before he could remind her to support the babies head, she had twisted herself so that the baby was nestled properly in the crook of her arm. Her other hand crossed her stomach to sweep a long finger over Luke's cheek as the baby cooed softly. Xander felt a sort of warmth bubbling up inside himself and he rested his dried hand on the top of her head.
“Congratulations Lady Padme,” he offered. “He looks good.”
“He does, doesn't he?” she agreed in a wispy voice, slightly weak. “Everything is well with him?”
“I think so,” Xander nodded. “Where I'm from, our medical professionals use a scale of numbers to like, assess the babies conditions. I don't remember it, but his breathing, color and awareness are all good. But how do you feel?”
“Strange,” Padme admitted, her eyes now only on her son as Xander had reassured her.
“Okay,” Xander grinned, knowing it was a foolish grin, but his sense of accomplishment at dealing with this unusual situation was at an all time high. “But any more contractions yet? Or anything?”
The woman's brows furrowed slightly and then she shook her head. “Some pain in my back, but that has been a constant problem these last few weeks.”
“Okay,” Xander nodded along with her, noting that Obi-wan was back from a quick check in the cockpit and was stroking a hand over his beard, with his other hand crossed under his elbow and resting on the opposite side. “Just be aware that it'll probably start up again soon. Don't want Luke in the way when you're in pain here.” He waited for Padme's acknowledgment of his words before he turned away, sensing that now that he knew they had some time, that Obi-wan would want to talk.
The older man also seemed to know that they couldn't go far, leading Xander to a chair and offering him a beverage after Xander had cleaned his hands off in a more thorough manner. They both kept glancing towards Padme, assessing her and the coming situation.
“So what did you need to ask me?” Xander opened, after quenching his sudden thirst with a beverage that he would have called water, but for the fact that it tasted clearer and purer than any he could recall having in his life. They must have a hell of a filtration system on this space ship.
Obi-wan had the faintest trace of a smile on his face. But he calmed quickly. “I do not understand why this has happened.” He held his hand up to forestall any comments Xander could make. “I am referring to the disturbance I felt in the Force that presaged your arrival.”
“A disturbance... in the... Force?” Xander repeated, squinting at the older man. “What exactly does that mean?” he wondered.
“A disturbance in the natural order of the balance of our universe,” Obi-wan offered slowly, watching Xander carefully. Xander understood what Obi-wan was saying, but he wanted to take a moment to get things ordered in his mind.
“And you're a... practitioner of this Force?” he asked gently. Obi-wan did not give any sign of confirmation or denial, but there was a sense that grew around him, a feeling that swelled up and Xander felt the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. Kind of like... Yeah, now that he really thought about it, this guy sort of embodied some of the senses like those of Xander's more... powerful friends. “Okay,” Xander nodded suddenly. “I'm thinking I understand pretty much, what happened here.”
“You do?” it was Obi-wan's turn to look confused and Xander smiled before taking another sip of his drink.
“It's no big,” Xander shrugged one shoulder. “See, what happened was... where I come from?” he began and Obi-wan nodded patiently, waiting. “There was a being that was powerful enough to cause a disturbance in this Force. Except we don't call it that. To us, it's magic. The balance of life energies that bind the universe into a cohesive whole?”
“Yes,” Obi-wan smiled. “A rather simple explanation of it, but yes.” There was another small noise from the infant and both men's heads swiveled around to check that all was well. Padme seemed to be lightly dozing, but Luke was in no danger of falling.
“Anyway,” Xander continued, “as I was saying, there was this guy. He sort of interfered in the natural order of things to manipulate things to the way he thought they should be and he ended up... well, to use your terms, disrupting the order.” Xander sighed.
This was going to be slightly more difficult than he thought. He wasn't sure how much information to share, because there were suspicions that were starting to form in his mind, now that the first rush of panic and need were over. But then, with Obi-wan calmly waiting for him to continue, he decided to forge ahead. “Now, a very close friend of mine is also a practitioner of this type of magic. She's learned through the years that she has to be very careful when she decides how and when to use the magics.”
Obi-wan was smiling and nodding along with that, stroking his beard again. “Is she very young?” he asked softly. Xander shook his head.
“My age,” he told him and then chuckled. “Which might seem young in comparison, but we were forced to deal with things that were very... difficult and we all ended up growing up more quickly than other people.” Obi-wan tilted his head regardingly and then quieted again. “Anyways Wills, Willow,” he corrected himself, “discovered the exact nature of the disturbance and instead of just ripping the fabric of the order apart to correct the mistake, she had to wait until everything was more aligned to... is this making any sense to you?” he demanded suddenly and it was Obi-wan's turn to chuckle.
“Some,” he admitted. “Although I am curious as to what nature this disturbance was,” he offered truthfully. Xander hemmed and hawed for a moment before deciding upon the truth.
“Okay,” he grunted, “I don't know what mythology you have, or if you have any at all,” he mumbled at the confusion in the other man's eyes at the unfamiliar word. He waved one hand. “Doesn't matter. That first being I spoke of? We call him Santa Claus.”
“I've not heard that name,” Obi-wan offered. “But I doubt it signifies.” Xander nodded.
“Okay, well he was the one that decided to disrupt the order,” Xander swallowed heavily. “I... recently lost someone that I... loved dearly. She was killed,” he spoke softly, regretfully of Anya. “Santa decided that I needed a new... companion.”
He knew that Obi-wan was shocked. Any civilized person wold be, but the other man hid it well.
“Unfortunately,” Xander forced himself to smile and joke through the heartache, as he always did, “the old bastard forgot to take into account that most regular people don't kidnap young women from other worlds and deposit them on someone's bed as a gift for being a good boy.”
“Despicable,” Obi-wan agreed mildly. “I take it you and this young woman objected to this?”
“Oh... just to a factor of like a billion,” Xander dead-panned and received a wry smile from Obi-wan. He sighed. “As soon as we figured out what had happened, we went to my friend Willow and she did the research and figured out what spell to use with the magics to send her back to her time and place.”
“Was that place supposed to be here?” Obi-wan asked, his brow furrowing once more.
“Not unless this Three pee oh that you mentioned looked like a nubile young girl in a slave get-up that was undercover in Jabba the Hut's palace on Tatooine,” Xander quipped and instead of bringing confusion to Obi-wan's face, it actually seemed to clear some worries the man obviously had.
“No, no he didn't,” Obi-wan confirmed Xander's thought. “But you said some other things...”
“Yeah,” Xander sighed. “And I'm thinking that there was a big snafu with the spell that Wills did that kind of sucked me in.” He held up a hand when Obi-wan would have spoken. “Look, I'm starting to think that instead of just the place, I've been thrown through time too here and I have watched way too much Star Trek and other sci-fi classics to think that telling you what the future holds is a good idea. I mean, the heads up is nice. And I just realized that I've really already said too much.”
Obi-wan chuckled then. “You mean in regards to having been named after my father, who was much older and died?”
Xander winced slightly and then sagged. “You weren't named after your father, were you?” Obi-wan shook his head in the negative. “Uh, is there any way that you can forget I said that?”
“Probably not,” Obi-wan shrugged one shoulder. “But I also will not press for details that you obviously don't feel comfortable sharing. Should not the baby be crying or... or feeding?” he asked suddenly, turning in his seat and Xander had to smile. He looked as well and both mother and son were dozing, although Padme was moving uncomfortably in her sleep.
“Nah,” Xander shook his head, waving one hand dismissively. “They both worked real hard to get through that labor. They need the rest. He'll be hungry later though.” Obi-wan nodded and turned back to regard Xander, bemused and slightly sad.
“I must admit, it is a relief,” he spoke slowly, “that if it were indeed me, that your friend knew, that I have many years left apparently. I suppose I would wish to know...”
“You were protecting people,” Xander supplied and then bit at the tip of his tongue as Obi-wan sighed and relaxed further.
Obi-wan began stroking at his beard once more as he regarded Xander. Though it seemed to Xander that he was almost looking through him. Sorta like Giles did when he was contemplating something semi-smart that Xander might have accidentally uttered when he was younger. Finally he smiled.
“I must say, ruminating on your earlier words,” Obi-wan began, “I've not had experience with, how did you put it? Time travel.” He puckered his lips slightly and then chuckled. “To this point it was not something I've thought of and thinking of it now, no idea how it would be accomplished.”
“Not a lot of people do,” Xander nodded. “Usually, from what I understand, it's usually just a plot by writer's or others to get a person where they want them to be.” Obi-wan nodded as well. “But we, my group and I have had experience with it before. Or, I guess we have,” he sighed and then leaned forward to rest his elbows on his thighs. “Does it count when it's a person from an alternate dimension from the future?”
“Are you speaking of yourself?” Obi-wan teased and then sobered immediately. “Alternate dimensions?”
Uh huh,” Xander grinned. “Like, well, what happened was Willow and Anya were trying to retrieve a lost item of Anya's and they opened a small portal. This was of course, back before Willow realized the scope of her powers and her need to control her actions better,” he explained with no little amount of pain. The other man nodded in sympathy and understanding. “Anyway, instead of finding the lost necklace, they brought back Will's doppleganger.”
“A doppleganger?” Obi-wan sucked in his breath. “A being that can mimic the look of another?”
“Eh, no,” Xander hedged. “More like it looks exactly like and maybe acts exactly like the original, but they aren't the same person. Like twins that weren't born of the same parents.”
“What an amazing phenomenon,” Obi-wan breathed out. There was some beeping from the console at the front of the craft and he quickly excused himself to check on it. While he was doing that, Xander snuck over to check on Padme and Luke. At his hand on her forehead, Padme's eyes slowly came open and Xander could see that she was struggling to focus on him.
“How are we doing?” he asked softly.
“Mmm, tired,” she murmured, and then looked startled. “Luke?”
“Sleeping peacefully, right next to you,” Xander was quick to assure her. “Rest as much as you can for the next round Padme.” Assured that her son was well, Padme nodded and seemed to drift off again. Xander returned to his seat and was quickly followed by Obi-wan.
“There was some unexpected debris,” the older man explained as he settled into his chair. “The computer was just correcting the course.”
“Good to know,” Xander grinned.
“Now,” Obi-wan continued, obviously picking up the thread of their conversation, “I was ruminating on what you just told me. This friend of yours, Willow?” Xander nodded at the name. “She was able to correct the mistake. Would she be willing to do so again? Or will she even know...?”
“Oh, she'll know I'm gone,” Xander nodded and then sighed. “Unfortunately, she might go off the deep end. She has a tendency to do that when her friends are in trouble.”
“Oh, that does not seem to bode well,” Obi-wan worried, leaning forward then. But Xander waved his hand quickly.
“No, no,” he shook his head. “I mean, yes, Willow will freak out and come up with all sorts of immediate plans to get me back. But I'm fairly certain that calmer heads will prevail. See, Le- the woman we knew, she was a stranger. We grew to be friends while she was with us, but there's a...”
“Distance?” Obi-wan suggested carefully and Xander grinned.
“Yeah, like a slight barrier and you know, we weren't on the side of our friend had just disappeared with no word or notice and no clue as to where. Probably like that woman's friends were,” he explained and Obi-wan was nodding now. “What will most likely happen is that Will and my friends will panic, run around like chickens with their heads cut off for a while and then calm down to get to work. Wills will figure out how to get me back after she finds where I went, and it'll take the time it takes.” He finished with a heavy sigh.
“Which means, much like this new woman you befriended, you may well be with us for some time.”
“Maybe,” Xander shrugged awkwardly. “I mean, I don't know precisely what we're dealing with here. Different time, different dimension. I don't know how time works, if it's going to be the same amount of time passing now that it is there. It's all, gonna give me a headache,” he muttered.
“Then it would seem most prudent to do what you need to, and be prepared for your leaving at any time,” Obi-wan decided. “You said that the woman was returned to her home time and place, on Tatooine. Yet you arrived here, not anywhere near Tatooine and I... sense that this time of yours was... earlier than hers?”
“Um, that, uh... might have had something to do with me,” Xander winced. “I uh, was thinking about certain things and I think it may have influenced where I landed. But I didn't do it on purpose!” he hastened to assure the other man. But Obi-wan had gone back to stroking the beard covering his chin and was staring at the prone form of the Lady and her child. Xander could almost see the supposition and understanding creeping into the other man's eyes. With a gentle smile, Obi-wan turned back to Xander.
“You do indeed have much knowledge that we should be careful of,” he decided. “Therefore, I believe that it might be best for you to be delivered to another member of my order. I do not know if he has familiarity of a situation like yours, but he is wise and we will both commune with the Force to find an answer.”
Xander nodded, though it pretty much sounded to him that Obi-wan and his friend were pretty much just gonna sit down and pray for help. Not that that was a bad thing. Willow sort of had to do the same thing for the big spells. Praying to various gods or goddesses for their permission or help or whatever.
“This meets with your approval?” Obi-wan questioned softly. Xander gave him a small smile.
“I was just thinking my way through some things,” he explained. “Wills does the same thing. Supplicating herself before the powers that be to ask for their help with the big stuff. And if it's their will, then it happens. If not, she has to find another way.”
“And the little things?” Obi-wan asked with a professional seeming courtesy.
“I wouldn't know,” Xander shrugged and then turned to check on Padme, who was twitching her legs slightly and frowning in her doze. He wondered if her next part of laboring out Luke's twin was gearing up. “Ever since she took up practicing, she's had trouble. But she never explained the process to me, in a way that I understood it. Just the end result that she wanted.” He smiled then. “I do remember that she told me once that she had to center herself, and master her emotions even to do the simplest of things. Like float things, or...make trades... or Oh!” he startled himself as the thought flashed in his mind.
“You've thought of something?” Obi-wan asked after a moment, both men waiting to see if Xander's sudden outburst had disturbed mother or child.
“I have,” Xander nodded. “You said that your android thingy, Three-pee...?”
“C-3P0, yes,” Obi-wan supplied for him.
“You said that he disappeared, right when I appeared,” Xander expostulated. “And that can be a consequence of the magics being used. I've seen it before.”
“A trade?” Obi-wan frowned pensively.
“Exactly,” Xander grinned as he reached for a few of the items on the table. He switched their positions and looked up. “To keep balance. You don't get something for nothing. There's always a price.”
“And you've seen this before?” Obi-wan wondered.
“A few years ago, uh, my time, not yours, obviously,” Xander almost confused himself, but Obi-wan smirked gently and nodded for him to continue. “Okay, my friend Buffy needed answers. We were given a package that could provide those answers. She was told that she must see, rather than hear. That if she chose to go see, there would be a trade made. To keep the balance. Well, she went and this uh, well,” he sighed, thinking over how much information was too much. “Buffy's a warrior and when she went through that portal, a warrior from that place was sent to us.”
“I see,” Obi-wan nodded. “Does it need to be of like value always?” he wondered. “C-3P0 was the only one aboard that had any notion what to do with milady's birthing crisis and yet you have the precise information we needed. More than what the android knew to do.”
“Oh, that's not actually something I do all the time,” Xander dismissed that thought. “Every student in the place that I lived, we were required in our schooling to take a course of first aid and that includes helping women give birth. It's really not as extensive as an obstetrician, our word for the doctor or healer that helps pregnant women give birth, would get. Just the basics really.”
“You mentioned doctors before,” Obi-wan agreed. “But it makes sense to me that you wouldn't have been put in this time and place if the Force didn't need you here for some reason.”
There was a soft cry from Padme and the pair turned to her, to see her slightly feverish eyes trying to focus on baby Luke, still sleeping, cradled in the crook of her arm.
“You might be right,” Xander agreed with a murmur, stories of Leia's youth sounding in his mind once more as he rose to help the woman that was her birth mother.
The second go around with Padme's labor seemed to go much easier this time. She knew what to expect and was even ready for it when she finally was woken from her exhausted slumber. Realizing it was coming, Obi-wan found a safe place to keep Luke. Dry and warm, the baby returned to his slumber, though his mother and sister were in no position to do so. Xander, experience through enforcement, was still no less grossed out by the experience, but when he helped Padme deliver the little girl, things started to go wrong.
So horribly wrong.
And yet Xander wondered if it was meant all along. He couldn't help the smile on his face as he cradled the baby girl, bringing her to Padme's side, as she manage to turn her head, smiling as she whispered out her daughter's name. “Leia...”
“As beautiful as her mother,” Xander whispered back, the pride and joy as nearly immense as her own. But with a gasp, Padme's eyes slid shut and Obi-wan, behind her, gave a small startled exclamation. In micro seconds, Xander realized what Obi-wan pronounced with fear.
“She's... dying?” he asked, worry coloring his voice.
“Take the baby,” Xander commanded, holding the child out as Obi-wan stared at him blankly. “Move! Now!” Obi-wan jumped at the severe tone and climbed out of the way as fast as he could move. He took the baby, reaching for another blanket to wrap Leia in. Luke, seeming to sense the gravity of the moment, woke and added his worried wail to the commotion.
Xander, feeling a moment of deja vu checked for Padme's vital signs. Her heart faltered even under his touch and then seemed no more. “No!” he cried out. His fingers fisting tightly and his knuckles raking along her sternum. “Padme! Wake up. Don't stop!” Straightening her body on the table, he moved to turn his ear along her mouth. There was no exhalation.
“She's gone?” Obi-wan spoke, a question and a realization.
“Not yet she isn't,” Xander growled. It couldn't end like this. He remembered... Dawn, Leia, talking of their mothers. It wasn't supposed to be like this. It shouldn't ever be like this. The motions automatic, he tilted her head back, breathing into her lifeless mouth. And then moved to press down on her chest, fear and desperation coating his being. The actions of CPR were so ingrained at this point, stimulating her heart, breathing for her. He never even realized that he was talking to her, using up the precious oxygen. But he knew too, that the motions were not enough for the spirit.
“Come on Padme,” he grunted as he worked. “Don't give up now. You have everything to live for.” Breathe. Breathe. Compressions. “Whatever it is calling you away, fight it!” Breathe. Breathe. Compressions. “You need to be brave. You can do this!” Breathe. Breathe. Compressions. “Your daughter needs you. Your son...” Breathe. Breathe. Compressions. “Don't leave us Padme. Come back. Come back, damn it!”
Neither Xander nor Obi-wan could say how long he worked, until he was gasping, his movements slowing. Luke had long ceased his wailing, Leia had never started. But with one tiny noise, they seemed to realize that perhaps their cause was futile. But like the calm before the storm, the noise heralded triumph.
The gasp as life returned to her was not loud, but it was so welcome and Padme's eyes flashed open for just a moment before closing, her head lolling as she began to cough weakly. Xander, relief flowing through him, reached to feel at her neck, her pulse thrumming weakly through her carotid artery. “Oh thank God,” he whimpered.
“That...” Obi-wan began, “was truly miraculous,” he finished, awed and humbled.
“Wha...?” Padme tried to ask before coughing again. Xander turned, trying to remember if water after CPR was a good thing. But then shrugged to himself. She would just wear herself out coughing and maybe bring on another round of troubles, was his thinking. He retrieved it and helped her to sip at it, though she was still extremely weak. After trying to push his hand away, Padme tried once more. “What... Anakin...?”
“Anakin?” Xander asked, puzzled, glancing up to Obi-wan, who was carefully trying to wrap Leia more securely within the blanket. There was a moment's hesitation on the other man's part.
“He is... was the father,” Obi-wan finally answered and Xander cocked his head. That was very telling. Xander nodded and turned back to the Lady.
“What about Anakin?” he asked gently. Padme, her eyes troubled, tried to wet her lips, but Xander was there with the glass again.
“He w-was calling me,” she tried to tell them. “He wanted me... to come to him...” It seemed to pain her to talk and Xander, his hand at her shoulder, made soothing noise and motion.
“He turned to the dark side Padme,” Obi-wan choked out heavily. “You and I both know this.”
“He's not dead,” she sighed, tears leaking from the corners of both eyes. “Not yet. Obi-wan,” she whispered, “there is still good in him.”
The older man sighed, sounding defeated as his head bowed and he moved to put the baby girl beside her brother. “Padme,” he began, sounding as if he were about to argue. “I can feel him as well. The force bonded us as brothers. Not just master and padawan. I can not-!”
“There is still good-!” she began vehemently, but it was too much for her abused body and Xander hushed her.
“It's okay, Padme,” he soothed and when her mouth opened once more, he smiled gently at her. “Shh, I believe you.” The look of relief and pain in her eyes, he had seen before, in so many others.
“Xander, you do not understand,” Obi-wan began, but Xander, having taken hold of Padme's hand, shook his head quickly. But Obi-wan persisted. “Anakin turned himself completely over to the dark side. There is nothing left in him but the desire for power.”
“You know what I've learned,” Xander chuckled lightly, his eyes directed at the woman before him, but his words were for both of them. “I've learned, that there is no one in the universe so far gone that they can't redeem themselves if they just try. Love is always more powerful than darkness. And the hardest thing in this world, this universe? Is to live in it.”
“Those are wise words,” Obi-wan conceded slightly, “but I do not know that they-!”
“It's true,” Xander protested quietly. “I've seen it all. I've seen my best friend, the most powerful witch, force wielder in our world be consumed by anger and hate. But we still loved her and it was that love that brought her back to the light. It was a hard road, filled with pain and self doubt, but she came through stronger than ever. It never stopped being a struggle, but she does it, every day. She faces her loss and her pain, but she also embraces the love we have for her and hers for us. That's what gets her through. Now,” he added, sniffling once and turning his head, using one hand to gesture to where the twins lay. “You and Anakin created something miraculous over there, didn't you?”
Padme's eyes followed Xander's, the tears welling up again as she nodded. “So beautiful,” she nodded infinitesimally.
“They are,” Xander agreed. “And I think they're worth fighting for. If you and this Anakin are connected, through your love, through your children, don't you think it's worth fighting for? Give him a reason to come back to the light Padme.”
“He saw...” she tried to tell him, “this. Me, dying in childbirth.”
“That was what he feared?” Obi-wan demanded with a gasp.
“It is what he saw,” Padme corrected, “in the future.”
“And the fear and the seeing fed each other,” Xander nodded. “Growing epically out of proportion, I bet.” Both Lady and Jedi nodded, almost dumbly as they realized this themselves. Xander grinned again. “Do you know how many prophecies my friends and I have turned on their heads? How many we've proved wrong?” He didn't answer with a number. “You know, my best friend Buffy? She was prophesied to die, when she was young. But I did the same thing to her that I did to you. She came back to us, from death, stronger and more powerful than ever. And she used that power and strength to save people, to protect the weak. And I'm not saying she didn't have troubles too. But she was so filled with love...” he paused, trailing off slightly and then made a small harrumphing noise. “I think that's the key Padme,” he told the woman in all seriousness. “You need to make a choice. Give in to Anakin's darkness, let his prophecy be fulfilled and lose him and yourself. Or fight back. Keep loving him and believing in him and give him a reason to come back to you. To your children.”
There was a long moment of silence as tears continued to well in the Lady's eyes, her breathing rough. But soon it evened out, though the tears didn't. “You're right,” she gasped out. “You're right. I must... live. My children...”
“Will see your strength and love my lady,” Obi-wan murmured, leaning over her to stroke her hair gently. “They will be honored and nourished with it. Together, we will teach them of their true father, the one that loved them so dearly.”
Seeing now that there was purpose again in both of them, Xander sniffled again and rose to his feet from his position beside Padme. He felt as if they had crossed a huge milestone, but they'd be okay now. There were going to be worries and fears and hard times, of course, but if they just remembered why they fought...
Xander glanced down at the children, surprisingly, both had their eyes open, staring up into the closed in world, both looking solemn. Xander couldn't help grinning as he reached for Leia, her hand catching his pinkie finger, by seeming accident. “I was right,” he whispered to her, to himself, “you are a very beautiful little girl. And your brother? He's gonna be quite the little man, isn't he?”
As Obi-wan continued to bolster Padme, theirs eyes locked together as they silently communicated their newfound commitment to the future, neither noticed the soft glow of light behind Obi-wan. It wasn't until they heard a very familiar noise, that they both turned to see another oddity in their lives.
“Oh, I do say!” C-3P0 protested as he waved his mechanical arms slightly. “How disorienting!”
With a wide grin, tinged with some sadness, Obi-wan turned back to Padme. “I do believe he's gone.”
“But he most certainly will not be forgotten,” Padme declared, more strength in her voice than there had been since the entire ordeal had started. Obi-wan nodded once before his attention was taken by the communications system of their craft. Someone was sending them a message and it would behoove them all to answer, since it was their momentary salvation. Plans would need to be made, decisions and declarations. But there was a peace in their souls to fight back the darkness that had grown. One seed was all that had been needed.
Leia sat beside the young man that she had grown so much closer to over the course of time that they had fought together under the banner of the Rebel Alliance. Here on Endor, there seemed some peace, though it was small and fleeting. But too, she could sense an unease in Luke. She wished she could comfort him, but the things in her mind, she was unsure... hesitant. But before she could speak again, Luke had turned to her, his eyes curious.
“Do you remember your mother? Your real mother, I mean?” he asked of her and Leia, taken back to warmth and comfort and above all, love, smiled softly.
“Feelings, images, mostly,” she nodded to him. And then sighed. “She died when I was very young.”