Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Star Wars belong to their respective creators, Joss Whedon and George Lucas.
Author's Note: Warnings for serious AU.
He actually didn't look much like his father at all.
Anakin had been almost absurdly good-looking, as if it wasn't enough that he was already a Jedi prodigy. His son wasn't exactly a slacker in the looks department either, but he was more sweet-faced, as if his nature, softer and more boyish than Anakin's had ever been, shone through despite all his attempts otherwise. Anakin had had an edge to him, a sharpness to his eyes and his glance, even when he'd been a boy, that was nowhere to be seen in Luke—except when he had a lightsaber in his hands.
Padme stood to one side, still and tense, watching. His sister, Leia, sat next to her brother, her eyes not quite as wide or impressed as his.
Buffy tried to swallow the lump in her throat. "So," she said. "I hear Yoda's been teaching you."
Luke grinned, flushing. "He says we are just like my father was."
Leia made a noncommittal noise.
There was another long, awkward silence. Buffy had been regretting her decision to come even as she'd boarded the shuttle, and had now plummeted past and headfirst into remorse.
Padme was staring at her. Buffy could almost hear what she was thinking: Tell them. Tell them now.
Buffy looked at the children. "I understand that you're going to be padawans soon."
Now they were all watching her, Luke breathlessly, Padme and Leia with almost identical expressions. Buffy knew what was going through their minds.
Buffy looked away. In her own mind, she reached out, desperate for—something, anything—and felt his presence, calm and constant, like a hand touching hers.
"I know you'll be great knights, some day," she said finally, and wondered if she sounded as stilted to them as she did to herself.
Luke's face fell. Leia's lips pressed together, white with disappointment and anger, and both looked down. Padme's own face was rigid.
Buffy was miserable. She closed her eyes, knowing that she had been so foolish to come, that she should not have let Padme persuade her— —"I love you," she whispered, and kissed them both, their eyes, their cheeks, before letting them be taken from her arms, their small hands clutching at her fingers, gave them up to be slipped from her breast and neck though they screamed at being separated and grasped at her hair, her clothes—
A hand touched hers, and she opened her eyes to see Padme sitting next to her now, her face softened with heartache and pity, and the children were staring at her, all resentment gone and replaced by confusion.
Buffy cleared her throat.
"I can't stay," she said shakily. "I'm sorry. I…I was supposed to meet Master Windu, and—"
Even as she was standing, even as Padme was reaching out to stop her by taking her hand, Luke jumped up from his seat and almost shouted, "Wait!"
Buffy stopped. Padme and Leia stared at Luke.
Luke blushed, but continued, in a lower, embarrassed tone, "You knew our father." This,
thought Buffy numbly, is much worse than being stabbed.
"You did," insisted Luke, completely ignoring Padme's look. "I just, I just wanted…"
His eyes went down again, fixed on the floor, but nothing and no one could have concealed the hunger in his face. "I wanted to ask what he was like."
Anguish filled Buffy's heart. The presence in her mind, his presence, grew taut with worry.
Padme was looking at her but not saying anything, and the children gazed up at her, waiting. Buffy opened her mouth but it was dry, and she tried to swallow and tasted bile.
What could she say? What could she possibly say?
"He was a great Jedi knight," she heard someone saying—her, herself, she was talking. "One of the greatest I've ever known."
Luke's face glowed, and even Leia smiled. Padme tried to match the children's delight, and only managed to look strained beyond bearing.
"His potential for the Force," said Luke, and his voice had the rehearsed tone of someone repeating what he had heard numerous times, "was unmatched."
Buffy felt the memory rise up in her mind like a wave hurling toward the shore, a memory that was broken and jagged, a memory of the power, the peace that was the Force, his Force, welling up within her, crawling into every corner and piece of her body and mind until there was nothing left of her and everything was what he wanted it to be. —"Stop. Anakin, stop. Stop."—
"Yeah," said Buffy.
The Force. It always came back to the Force.
"Study hard," Buffy told them, "and listen to Master Windu, even if sometimes it sounds like he's just talking to hear his own voice."
They giggled at that, Luke and Leia trading confidential looks. It was Padme who walked with Buffy to the door, Padme who hugged her good-bye.
"You should tell them," Padme whispered into her ear. "You should be with them. This, this is most unfair to you."
"They're happy," Buffy whispered back. "That's all that matters."
"Come back soon," Padme called after her from the door. "And bring him, next time."
The walk back to the apartment seemed longer than before. Buffy couldn't feel anything, barely noticed the nods and salutes of the people passing by, or those who stopped to point her out and whisper when her back was turned. All she could think about was the Force and Anakin and how she couldn't seem to ever really escape either of them, and all she was seeing was Luke and Leia, two children who looked nothing like their father.
At their rooms, Qui-Gon met her at the door.
"Buffy," he said, and it was just her name, just one word, and that was all he needed to say. She huddled into his arms, and his presence in her mind grew and grew until there was no room for anything but him, not even for memories or nightmares.