In this chapter…
“I WANT SOME CHEEEEEEEEEEESE!!”
“Padme and you…what, Anakin?”
“I missed the epic-ness!”
“YEHAW! TODAY IS AWESOME!!!” Padme squealed at the top of her lungs.
Anakin came out of the bathroom wearing a robe, a towel wrapped around his head.
“Why is today awesome?” he asked, squeaking his finger in his ear.
Padme made a face. “Ani, that’s icky-poo.”
“Icky-poo?” Anakin was confused. “What does that mean?”
“It means: disgusting, revolting, gross, sick…icky…” Padme was at a loss for further words. “You know…icky-poo.”
“But…but you just said ‘icky’. Why not just ‘icky’? Why…’icky-poo’?”
Padme shrugged. “I dunno…it kinda has a ring to it, don’t you think?”
Anakin shrugged. “Anyway, why’s today awesome?” he asked again.
“Because today is the day that you said something was going to happen!!”
“Oh, yeah!” Anakin grinned. “I’d almost forgot! Today is the Jedi Child-care conference!”
Padme raised her eyebrows. “I thought Jedi weren’t allowed to have children…”
“Yeah. well, it coincides with Youngling day.” Anakin explained. “Some of the Younglings come as babies or small children, so we have to be prepared to take care of them, in addition to being able to train them later.”
“Oh, ok.” Padme seemed to suddenly remember something. She was silent for a moment.
“Well, it might turn out for the best that I go with you.” she finally ventured.
“Yeah, I mean, what if we had a baby someday?” Anakin laughed.
“Yeah…” Padme settled a hand on her round belly and tried to decide whether to tell Anakin now or at a more opportune moment. When Anakin rushed off to get dressed, she decided to wait. She didn’t want to tell him in a mad rush or anything: the moment had to be just right.
“Maybe we could be nibbling on crackers with mild cheese-spread on them when I tell him…” Padme dreamed.
In just a short amount of time, Anakin and Padme were ready to go. They got into their speeder and headed towards the conference, which was at the Jedi temple, just across the street. Hopping out, Padme threw her hands in the air, defeated.
“What is it, Padme?” Anakin asked.
“I didn’t eat breakfast and I’m huuuungryyyyy!” she wailed.
“Oh.” Anakin shrugged. Well, there’s food inside, I hope. If not, we’ll just go somewhere and buy something.”
“Something with CHEESE?” Padme squealed.
“Uh…okay, sure.” Anakin agreed.
“YES!” Padme rushed inside the building, fervently hoping they didn’t have any food inside. A minute later Anakin handed her a cheese bar he had bought from a vendor.
“Ani…” Padme began to sob.
“What is it, Padme?” he asked, concerned.
“They’re selling food here, which means we’ll buy something here, which means we can’t go somewhere else and eat cheese!” A puddle of water appeared under her as she continued to sob. “I WANT SOME CHEEEEEEEEEEESE!!” she cried.
“Uh…Padme…?” Anakin pointed to the cheese bar. “That is cheese.”
“Oh.” Padme ripped the wrapper off of the bar and ate it in two bites. “Pregnancy craving.” she explained.
“WHAT??” Anakin asked, stunned.
“Uh…” Padme grinned sheepishly. “Well…I’ll explain later.”
Anakin shook his head. “I didn’t know people got…pre-not-she cravings…in fact, I don’t even know what they are.”
Good, Padme though that means I can just wait and tell him later.
The two followed the arrows pointing towards where the conference was taking place until they found the room. Anakin picked out two good seats and Padme sat down. Anakin decided he was going to see if Obi-Wan came, so while Padme munched on another cheese bar Anakin hung out in the front lobby. He didn’t have to wait long before his friend appeared.
“Obi-Wan, it’s great to see you!” Anakin exclaimed, rushing over to his former master and best friend.
“Uh…hello, Anakin.” Obi-Wan managed as he tried to hold onto a very young, squirming child.
“Who’s the little fellow?” Anakin asked, ruffling the child’s hair. The boy bit his finger. “OW!” Anakin screamed, stepping back and examining his sore finger.
“He’s a new youngling.” Obi-Wan explained. “Master Yoda and Master Windu gave me the responsibility of looking after him, and they said this conference might do me some good.”
“Uh…ok.” Anakin was relieved that he didn’t have to watch the youngling. He wasn’t ready for that responsibility to be thrust upon him like that, with no time to prepare. “Wanna sit down?”
“Yes, of course. Maybe I can strap him in somehow…”
As they headed to their seats, Anakin wondered why Obi-Wan hadn’t told him the boy’s name.
“Nobi, what’d his name?” Anakin inquired.
“Uh…’Nobi’?” Obi-Wan asked. “Where’d that come from?”
“It’s my new nickname for you.” Anakin explained as he pointed out their seats. “I just made it up.”
“Kenobi…Ke…nobi…Nobi.” Anakin smirked, pleased with himself. Obi-Wan made a face as he settled into the seat beside Anakin.
“So what is his name, Nobi?”
“I’m not sure yet. And stop calling me ‘Nobi’!”
Anakin didn’t even hear the last part. “You mean…you get to name him yourself???”
“TOTALLY COOL! That’s the reason I wanna have a kid someday!” Anakin grinned.
“Uh…do you mean, you want to raise an orphaned youngling?” Obi-Wan prompted. “Remember, Jedi can’t get married.”
“I wouldn’t have to get married.” Anakin bubbled “Because Padme and I already d-” Anakin froze. Obi-Wan wasn’t supposed to know…!!
“Padme and you…what, Anakin?” Obi-Wan asked, trying to hold onto the youngling, who apparently wanted very much to get down.
“Uh…” What could he say? “Well, uh…uh…”
Fortunately for Anakin, at that moment the speaker went to the front of the room and tested the microphone. “1,2,3…testing, 1,2,3...okay, we’re good.”
Anakin nestled in his seat, eager to learn how to care for younglings. Padme, finishing off her fifth cheese bar of the day, patted her baby-belly and wondered how to tell Anakin the news. Obi-Wan was totally focused on the little youngling who was now trying to eat his beard.
“Alright, here we are today.” the speaker said. “My name is Ki-Adi Mundi, and I’m your expert on all things Padawan, youngling and the like. I have attempted to raise many younglings and I am now going to give you my thoughts and experiences on the manner.”
“Hey, it’s Ki!” Anakin burst out, with sudden realization. Half the room turned to stare at him but Ki-Adi just went on with his spiel.
“Uh…what do you mean, ‘Ki’, Anakin?” Obi-Wan asked.
“Saying ‘Ki-adi’ just takes way too much time, doesn’t it?” Obi-Wan asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Yeah!” Anakin exclaimed, not noticing his Master’s tone of voice.
Ki-Adi was saying “I am most grateful for you all coming out tonight to hear my little speech. It will be quite short, no more than sixteen hours, and I apologize for the lack of length. However, I feel it is for the best…”
Anakin yawned and wished he had some popcorn or something to munch on. He studied the situation. To the right of Padme sat a woman, a man and several children. To Obi-Wan’s left were a few stern Jedi who looked like they wouldn’t appreciate very much an interruption of the lecture. Anakin chose to go past the family. After he had squeezed his way out of the row, he looked around the room. There were no vendors in here, so he slipped out to the lobby. He quickly spotted a popcorn cart and went over to it. He selected his flavor of choice and waited while the man behind the counter made it for him. Anakin licked his lips: there was nothing in the galaxy like super-spicy-Cajun-pepper caramel popcorn with a touch of mint, now was there?
“Anakin, what are you doing?” It was Padme.
“Just getting some snacks. Why, hon? How’s the conference going?” Anakin asked.
“Well, we’re still in the introduction, but…Ani, I think you really need to hear this.”
“Why?” Anakin paid the man for his popcorn. “Thank you.” Turning back to Padme, he chuckled. “I’m not ever gonna take care of a youngling, you know? Padawan’s take up too much time. I’m only here cause I have to be. And nobody said I couldn’t have a snack while I listen, did they?”
“But Ani, you’re gonna miss the important parts!” Padme pressed.
“I’m coming back, I’m coming back. Just let me…” Anakin followed his nose to a hot-dog cart. Padme hung back for a moment, a hand on her neatly concealed, quite-small-for-gestation tummy for a moment, then followed. Anakin had to hear this; they would be having a baby soon, after all! Maybe she should tell him now…
“Anakin…there’s something I have to tell you.”
“Not now, Padme. I’m doing something reeeeealy important...” Anakin had bought a hotdog and was tediously spooning just the exact amount of chili onto it. “Want one, May?” Anakin asked, holding his finished hotdog up and taking an enormous bite out of it.
“…‘May’…?” Padme asked, brows raised.
“It’s my new nickname for you.” Anakin explained, mouth full of hotdog. “I just made it up.”
“Uh…okay.” Padme suddenly caught a whiff of something familiar, something wonderful…
“Anakin, is that…cheese?”
“M-hm.” Anakin threw away his paper hotdog container and started to make Padme a hotdog. “Cheese sauce goes on top of it, see?”
“Mm…” Padme’s stomach growled. Eating for two required a lot of fuel, after all. “But then we go back to the conference, right?” Padme asked nervously.
“Right.” Anakin agreed, giving her her hotdog.
While Padme ate, Anakin bought them two sodas and some interesting candy which neither of them (nor the vendor who was selling it) could actually identify, then they headed back into the conference. Ki-Adi Mundi was apparently just finishing up his introduction and Padme sighed in relief.
“Now, all of this information can be applied to any situation.” Ki-Adi was saying. “Take, for example, this youngling here.”
Anakin squinted. “Hey, Nobi, that youngling up there looks sorta like the little boy you’re taking care of.”
“Hey, you’re right!” Obi-Wan grinned, smiling down at his lap. Suddenly the smile disappeared.
“Anakin! Anakin!” Obi-Wan hissed.
Obi-Wan groaned inwardly but answered the question.
“That…I think that is the youngling I’m taking care of.”
“Or, at least, the one you’re supposed to be taking care of!” Padme pointed out, a little too cheerily. In fact she found that to be rather funny and doubled over in laughter. Obi-Wan looked desperately to Anakin.
“What do I do??” he hissed, trying not to make too much noise.
“I dunno.” Anakin said, kinda loudly. “Why don’t you just see what Ki does with him? Maybe he’ll get him to be a well-behaved little boy.”
“SHHH!” The people in front of Anakin hissed.
“Sorry.” Anakin whispered, popping some super-spicy-Cajun-pepper caramel popcorn with a touch of mint popcorn into his mouth and trying a piece of the strange candy. “Wow…it kinda tastes like…root-beer maybe? With an aftertaste of…lemon and mold? With strawberry sprinkles on top, maybe?”
Obi-Wan face-palmed and then turned his attention to Ki-Adi Mundi.
“…so you see, folks, that’s how you deal with a rowdy child.” Ki-ad said with a pleasant smile.
“What did he do?” Anakin asked, as loud as ever.
“SHHH!” the people in front of Anakin hissed.
“Sorry.” He lowered his voice again. “What did he do?” Anakin asked.
Obi-Wan shrugged. “Uh…I kinda missed it.”
“Me too.” Padme agreed.
“Oh well…” Obi-Wan snuck to the front and retrieved the youngling who Ki-Adi had gently set off of the stage. As Obi-Wan sat down, he sighed.
“I’m not sure it matters that we missed what Ki- I mean, Ki-Adi said.” Obi-Wan mumbled.
“Why not?” Anakin asked.
“I just have a feeling it doesn’t work for the long-term.” Obi-Wan remarked, as the youngling munched on a piece of Anakin’s candy and spit it in Obi-Wan’s beard.
“Why do you think that?” Padme asked. Obi-Wan just face-palmed again and was silent.
“So,” Ki-Adi went on “That’s the end of the first session.”
“And Ani missed more than half of it.” Padme mumbled to herself. Of course she had missed a lot of it too which made her even angrier. How would they ever take care of their baby if they didn’t listen to the conference?
“Want a snack, May?” Anakin asked.
“Well…I’m not hungry. Didn’t we just eat?”
Anakin shrugged sheepishly. “Well…true. But I wanna get something.”
“I think I’ll pass, thank you.” said the grumpy ‘May’, who shuffled back into the conference room to sit down.
“Okie-dokie.” Anakin, not noticing her ill mood, joined Obi-Wan at the hotdog stand.
“Guess what, Anakin?” Obi-Wan asked with an enormous grin.
“What, Nobi?” Anakin grinned back.
“I thought of a name for the little fellow here?”
“What, ‘Reckless’?” Anakin asked, not joking in the least.
“No, Anakin!” Obi-Wan chided. “I named him Oli-Wan!”
“Uh…wow…hey! If I call you ‘Nobi’ and I call him ‘Oli’…that almost rhymes!”
“Anakin…what was in that candy you just ate?” Obi-Wan asked, slightly concerned.
“No clue whatsoever.” Anakin replied, heading over to the candy stand to buy some more.
When they sat down again there was another session on proper childcare, then everyone was released for lunch. Anakin being Anakin was again hungry, and Padme had now been awhile without food (and being pregnant she seemed hungry more than normal anyway), but Obi-Wan had just eaten and wanted to spend some quality time with Oli-Wan, so Anakin and Padme went to a restaurant by themselves.
”What would you like, May?” Anakin asked.
“Ani...is there anything cheesy here?” Padme inquired.
“Well, sure there is!” Anakin beamed, rattling off a whole list of foods on the menu that contained cheese. “Cheese pancakes, cheese waffles, cheese-fries, cheese bars, chili-cheese dogs, cheese soufflé , cheese pie, cheesecake, chocolate-cheese surprise, cheese shake, cheese corndog aaaand of course, just plain cheese, in fifteen flavors. Aaaaaaand,”- Anakin had saved the best for last- “POTATOES WITH THAT FAKE BLUE BUTTER STUFF TO GO ON TOP!”
“But Ani…butter’s not the same as cheese.”
“Oh. Well, what would you like then?”
“All of the above, minus the potato stuff.”
“Okie-dokie.” Anakin flagged down a waiter. “Everything on the menu with cheese and a big pile of potatoes smothered in fake blue butter.” Anakin ordered.
“Er…right away, sir.” The waiter hurried off and Anakin leaned back in the booth and sighed.
“Today’s going great, isn’t it Padme?”
Padme sighed. “I don’t think this is working out. We’re not really learning anything from this conference.” she moped.
“Nonsense!” Anakin countered. “We’re learning loads of valuable information! Like, what the best restaurants in town are that we’ve never visited before, and how many chili hotdogs we can eat before exploding!” Grinning, he accepted his plate of potatoes and fake blue butter and dug in.
“Thank you.” Padme said as the waiter set several cheese plates on the table.
“I’ll be right back.” The waiter said. He returned in a moment with several more waiters and waitresses who piled to table so high with cheese-foods that Anakin and Padme couldn’t see each other. Needless to say Padme couldn’t eat it all, and she and Anakin had to go to their house before returning to the conference to freeze most of it. Padme was sure to leave one plate in the fridge for that night’s dinner.
Back at the conference, Padme suddenly realized that, in all the eating-separated-by-a-giant-wall-of-cheese-foods and the running home to freeze the extra, Padme hadn’t told Anakin that she was pregnant. Sighing, she settled down in her chair, wondering where Obi-Wan was. The next conference session was about to start and he wasn’t there to hear it. Anakin checked the program and informed Padme (much to her dismay) that the rest of the conference would be about training younglings and Padawan. Padme ignored this part as, if their baby was force-sensitive, Anakin would be the one teaching them the ways of the Jedi, not her. She had learned all that she could from this conference and she was feeling a little sick from too much cheese and concern over how to tell Anakin the big news. Half-way through the last session she decided to go home and take a nap, and when Anakin came home after the conference she was feeling much better.
“Anakin, I taped the latest episode of Watch Princess Maloloo float on a magical butterfly across the land of Silope in a desperate attempt to save the planet, since he missed it, being at the conference and all.” She had felt well enough to eat her cheesy dinner and looked radiant. Anakin noticed the change in her. Certainly it wasn’t just because that night’s episode of Watch Princess Maloloo float on a magical butterfly across the land of Silope in a desperate attempt to save the planet was a special, was it?
“Padme, what’s going on?” Anakin asked, smiling as he sat down beside her.
“Aren’t you going to give Obi-Wan the tape?” Padme asked, suddenly nervous.
“Not yet.” Anakin gently lowered her hand, which was holding the VHS. “Padme,” he murmured “what’s going on? Something was bothering you today at the conference, and…”
Padme suddenly burst into tears. “Ani, I didn’t know how to tell you, but today was more important than you think.”
“Really?” Anakin asked, surprised. “I thought I was just bringing you along so we could spend some time together, and you wouldn’t be bored being alone all day.”
Padme sniffled. “No, Ani. This was really important to me, too. You see…”
“What is it? You’re trembling.”
All there was left to do was to say it.
Silence. After a minute, Anakin began to chuckle. Then the chuckle turned into full-blown belly laughter in about ten seconds.
“Anakin, Anakin!” Padme bawled. “What’s wrong? What’s wrong??”
“Nothing’s wrong, Padme. I just wished you had told me sooner.”
“Why?? Why??” Padme asked in a frenzied panic.
Managing to hold his laughter down to a chuckle, Anakin dug a gift certificate out of his back pocket. He handed it to Padme who wiped her tears away and read it.
“500 credits off your next visit to Bonzo Gym World…” She looked up at Anakin, stunned. “What does this have to do with anything?”
Anakin chuckled again. “Well, before I knew you were pregnant, I saw that your belly was getting kind of round, and knowing how trim you used to be, well, I kind of figured you’d want to work out and get trim again, you know.”
“You…you thought I was fat?” Padme asked, offended.
“No, but you weren’t as trim as you used to be. And I know the importance of a good, strong core.” Anakin did the body-builder pose, flexing his muscles under his Jedi tunic. “So…I bought you the gift card, figuring you’d like it. I thought maybe you’d eaten too much cheese, and had gained a little weight.”
“So…you’re not upset about the baby?”
Anakin grinned. “Nope. This is a happy moment, the happiest moment in my laugh…” Catching another glance of the gift card, Anakin laughed. “And one of the funniest, too. Now, come on. We’d better get that tape to Obi-Wan.”
Anakin extended a hand to Padme and the two of them went to Obi-Wan’s personal quarters.
“Nobi, May has something for you.” Anakin announced, reverting back to using the nicknames he had given them.
“Oooh, what is it? Is it a gift?” Obi-Wan squealed, delighted.
“Yes.” Padme handed him the tape. Obi-Wan turned it over, confused.
“It’s a…blank VHS tape. I’m sure it…could come in handy someday.” Obi-Wan said, trying to be polite.
“It’s not blank, Obi-Wan. I taped the most recent episode of Watch Princess Maloloo float on a magical butterfly across the land of Silope in a desperate attempt to save the planet on it, so you can-”
“GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” Obi-Wan yelled. “I missed the latest episode of Watch Princess Maloloo float on a magical butterfly across the land of Silope in a desperate attempt to save the planet! I missed the epic-ness! BWAHAHAAA!”
“OBI-WAN!!” Anakin hollered, trying to be heard above Obi-Wan’s howls. “Padme taped the episode for you!”
Obi-Wan sat down in the corner and wept.
“Obi-Wan…” Padme went over to him. “What’s wrong?”
“I’ll never get to see what happens next!” Obi-Wan wailed. “How will I ever find out if Princess Maloloo escaped from the dungeon of the giant purple dragon, or if the exploding cheeseballs ever return? I am a failure, I have failed Television, I have failed TV shows, I have failed Princess Maloloo and I have failed myself!” Obi-Wan continued to sob helplessly. Padme sighed.
“Look, Obi-Wan, if there was a way to watch that show, would you…ur, ‘unfail’ all those things you’ve failed?” she asked.
Obi-Wan looked up, sniffling. “M-maybe. Yes, that would be good.” Suddenly he burst into tears again. “But that’s impossible, so I’ll never be able to unfail-” He saw Padme holding the tape out to him and he blinked. “What’s that? OH, I know! I can go back in time, use this empty tape to tape the show, and-”
“Obi-Wan, the show’s been taped already. I taped it, since I was home from the conference in time to see it.” Padme explained. “Remember, I went home early?”
“Yeah…so, you mean, the show’s on this tape?” Obi-Wan asked, wiping his eyes.
“Yep. And you can watch it right away if you want to.”
“Can I?” Obi-Wan looked to Anakin for approval.
“Of course, go right ahead.”
“YAAAAAY!!” Obi-Wan cried, rushing to put the tape in the VCR.
“I’m gonna order some Chinese, is that okay, Obi-Wan?” Anakin asked.
“Yeah, yeah, sure, you kids do whatever you’re gonna do.” Obi-Wan said, lugging an enormous bowl of popcorn in front of the TV where the Watch Princess Maloloo float on a magical butterfly across the land of Silope in a desperate attempt to save the planet theme music was softly playing. Anakin chuckled and dialed Excellent Chinese, the best (and most expensive) Chinese restaurant on all of Courascant. While they were waiting for the food, Padme re-watched Watch Princess Maloloo float on a magical butterfly across the land of Silope in a desperate attempt to save the planet with Obi-Wan and Anakin took a catnap.
When the food got there Padme had a small cheese side-dish Anakin had ordered just for her. “Go easy on the cheese.” he teased her, secretly referring to her pregnancy. Padme smiled, understanding, and ate while the TV show finished up. Anakin had peanut-butter egg-foo-yung and Obi-Wan had pistachio-flavored-noodles with pistachio on top (he absolutely loved pasta of any sort, and pistachios). When they were finished, they all tidied up Obi-Wan’s personal quarters, said goodnight, and Anakin and Padme went home.
“What a wonderful day.” Padme sighed, sprawling out on the bed.
“Yeah.” Anakin agreed, pulling on his monkey-pajama shirt. “It sure was a good one.”
They were silent, thinking about the day for awhile, then Anakin climbed into bed.
“Got any plans for tomorrow, Ani?” Padme murmured drowsily.
“Not that I know of.” Anakin replied. “Night Padme.” He turned out the light.
As they drifted off to sleep they had no way of knowing what tomorrow would bring.