Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or Star Wars, they belong to Joss Whedon and George Lucas respectively. I do bow down to their genius though.
Buffy Skywalker cast yet another surreptitious glance at the door of the small slaves hovel she shared with her son Anakin and their friend and surrogate family, Shmi. Anakin was supposed to have been home at least an hour ago and despite knowing her son could take care of himself, Buffy was anxious. She had a funny feeling, a sense that went beyond her usual Slayer abilities and had only come when she’d become pregnant with Anakin. She had a strange feeling that destiny was going to rear its ugly head once again.
“He’s late,” Shmi said next to her, taking the forgotten tuber from Buffy’s hand and peeling it herself.
Not as stealthy as I used to be, she thought with a mental smirk. “Yeah. The kid is too much like me.”
Of course this was not the first time that something or someone had distracted Anakin from coming straight home after his work with Watto. Her boy had a penchant for machinery and had put his excess energy into a protocol droid for her and Shmi and secreted a pod racer in the space behind their hovel. Anakin was always covered in grime and his room was scattered with odds and ends that Buffy had yet to identify.
But these were the normal kid things she could tolerate with joy. It was the fact that at nine Anakin was the only human who could successful race pods, that he showed signs of precognitive skills, that gave Buffy the wiggins.
His uncanny abilities were similar to her Slayer ones. He did have nightmares, but she could not say it was like her visions, his instincts were sharp like hers but it was more like a sixth sense then honed reflexes, and he did not possess her preternatural strength, which was the one thing that she thought any child of the slayer would inherit.
Of course, Anakin wasn’t just her child. He’d been gifted by the powers, at least that was the only explanation she could think of. After killing Angel, Acathla had sucked her into its vortex. Instead of finding herself in a demon dimension, she’d landed on this desert world. Not too soon after that, she’d learned she was pregnant.
For a while, she’d figured that Angel had been wrong about vampires not having children and that she was caring his child. But as the months passed, she’d learned that Anakin had been conceived around the same time she’d arrived on this dustball.
Anakin shouldn’t exist. And that meant one thing to Buffy; prophecy.
“Mom. I’m home,” Anakin’s voice broke through her reverie.
“Thank God,” she breathed. Her relief, however, turned to ire.
Shmi, ever the percepto-gal, gave a bark of laughter. “I almost feel sorry for him.”
“Almost?” Buffy asked, raising a golden eyebrow. Shmi had often been the intervener between Buffy and her son.
The older woman just gave a shrug. “Just remember he is only a young boy.”
“Yeah, well, thinking being young will save you, will get you killed.”
She headed to the front room, letting her temper simmer with each step. She’d learned long ago that Anakin was just as stubborn, if not more so, as she was. He’d match her anger for anger and they wouldn’t get anything solved.
Her hands were at her hips as she entered the front room but her retort died on her lips when she saw that Anakin wasn’t alone.
“Anakin, you’ve got some explaining to do,” she said, doing a lame attempt at Ricky Ricardo.
“These are my friends, Mom,” he said. He pointed to the tall human male. “This is Qui-Gon Jinn.” Next he indicated the young girl, about Buffy’s height. “And Padme.” The next being wasn’t human, but looked like humanoid frog with rabbit ears. “Jar Jar.” Next he rushed over to the tin can on wheels. “It’s an astromech droid. Isn’t it rugged?”
Buffy was used to babble and kept up with Anakin easily. “Totally. But that doesn’t explain why I’ve got three complete strangers in my house.”
“Sandstorm is coming, Mom. Listen,” Anakin explained.
Great, now she was stuck with them. “Uh-huh.”
Anakin took this as absolution and grabbed the girl’s hand, tugging her towards his room. “Come on, I want to show you Threepio.”
Along with Anakin, her carefully thought out reprimand went out the door.
“Your son was kind enough to offer us shelter,” Qui-Gon Jinn said.
Buffy didn’t like strangers as a rule, especially when one was a slave and bound by a Master. Watto had certainly given up trying to intimidate her but Anakin was a card he was all too willing to play. And he didn’t like it when others started showing interest in his property.
Even under normal circumstances, well as normal as her life could get, she would have been wary of Qui-Gon Jinn. He was dressed as a farmer, but nothing in the way he held himself spoke of the weather beaten, bowed back men she’d seen come into Mos Espa. If he was a moisture farmer then she was....something that she totally wasn’t anything like.
He watched her carefully too, though his expression was kindly, bordering on shoes-salesmany. Like herself, Qui-Gon was taking her measure.
“Anakin’s sweet like that,” she said, deliberately leaving herself out. I’m not, the silence seemed to add.
Qui-Gon smiled at her. “He’s a very caring boy.”
Thankfully, Shmi broke the tension. “Anakin, Buffy, dinner,” she was calling as she came in from the hall. She paused in mid stride at the sight of the older man.
“Mom, Qui-Gon,” Buffy introduced. “Qui-Gon, Shmi Skywalker. I’m going to get the kids.”
As they started dinner, Qui-Gon Jinn was interrupted by a comlink. Buffy’s eyes narrowed from her place next to Anakin. Her son was becoming ‘Casanova Skywalker’. She hadn’t heard such cheesy pick up lines since Xander’s wooing Cordelia.
Jinn excused himself and Buffy tuned out Anakin’s flirting with Padme and zeroed her Slayer hearing on the man’s conversation.
“You did the right thing, Obi-Wan,” Jinn said.
His head was cocked to the speaker of the comlink but Buffy couldn’t make out the words from the person on the other end, but the tone was concerned.
“It sounds like bait to establish a connection trace.” There was another buzz of sound on the comlink, Obi-Wan she guessed. Jinn sighed, his forehead crinkling in a frown. “Either way we’re running out of time.”
With that Jinn shut his comlink down and stuffed it in his tunic. As he turned around, Buffy redirected her attention to Anakin. He was pushing his food around, lumping the rice together and squashing it with the flat end of his spoon.
“Hey, short stuff,” she said, taking the spoon from him. “Try eating it.”
Anakin blushed and took the spoon with a surreptitious glance towards Padme. “Thanks, Mom,” he said with a dash of her sarcasm.
“No prob, kiddo,” she returned. Seeing the color darkening on his cheeks, she felt a tinge of guilt. She’d forgotten what it was like to be so close to a hottie while your mom was looking on. But God, couldn’t he wait to discover girls and hormones until he was a little older. Or she was dead.
She spared Anakin any further embarrassing Mom moments and returned to the oldest newcomer. “You look upset, Mister Jinn. Bad news?”
He gave her another of his placid smiles. “Just checking up on our ship’s crew.”
“Everything okay?” she pressed.
“As well as can be expected,” he offered.
Buffy nodded. “Could you vague that up for me?”
“Pardon me, Mistress Skywalker, I seemed to have offended you.”
“Oh, there is no offense. I would just like to know who I’m dealing with,” she stated, putting an edge of menace to her words.
“Buffy,” Shmi warned at the same time Anakin whined, “Mom, he’s a Jedi.”
“I saw your laser sword,” Anakin explained a little sheepishly.
“Jedi?” Buffy gasped.
She’d heard of them. Legendary for their skill with a lightsaber and the ability to reconcile impossible differences between worlds, she’d figured that they would never have come to Tatooine. But it would seem that their mystical Force and her Slayer crapometer had brought them here. This was the source of her unease.
“Maybe I killed a Jedi and took it from him,” Jinn supplied, not putting any effort in making it believable.
“I don’t think so, no one can kill a Jedi,” Anakin insisted.
Through Buffy’s stunned daze, she noticed a sadness touch Qui-Gon’s eyes. “I wish that were so.”
“I dreamed I was a Jedi. I came and freed all the slaves. Have you come to free us?”
“No,” Buffy snapped.
“Your mother is right,” Jinn agreed.
“I believe you have. Why else would you be here?” Anakin said.
Jinn’s smile was more realistic this time. “I can see there’s no fooling you, Anakin. We’re on our way to Coruscant, the central system of the Republic on a very special mission.”
“Our ship was damaged and we’re stranded here until we can repair it,” Padme added.
“I can help,” Anakin exclaimed. “I can fix anything.”
“I believe you can, but first we must acquire the parts we need.” Qui-Gon folded his hands out before him.
Jar Jar nodded his large billed head. “With no nutin mula to trade.”
Padme wondered out loud. “These junk dealers must have a weakness of some kind.”
“Gambling,” Shmi interrupted for the first time. “Everything revolves around those awful pod races.”
“Greed can be a powerful ally,” Jinn nodded, eyeing Shmi with new appreciation.
“I’ve built a racer,” Anakin brought the attention back to him. “It’s the fastest ever. You could enter my pod and get Watto to let me race it for you.”
At Jinn’s thoughtful look, Buffy snapped out of her stupor. “Over my dead body. No wait, over Watto’s dead body and any one else who thinks putting a nine-year-old in a dangerous race is a good idea.”
“But Mom, I love it.”
“Bed, now!” she said, rising from the table and pushing his chair out.
“I could help, Mom.”
“We aren’t discussing this, Anakin. Your room is lonely. Go there.”
After giving everyone a bewildered expression, Anakin stamped out. Buffy started to head for her own room, having lost her appetite, when Qui-Gon Jinn stood up. “Mistress Skywalker, I’m would not put your son in danger.”
“No one ever wants to. But then there is a prophecy and everything ends up all wrong. Stay away from me and my son, Jedi.”
Anakin was toying with a vox box when his mother stepped in. He purposefully turned away from her, ignoring her presence.
“Silent treatment, huh?” she asked, her tone forcefully light. “I remember that one being very affective.”
Bitting at his lip, Anakin took his multitool to clean the build-up carbon out of the crevice of the box. He was humiliated, embarrassed....and scared. He knew there wasn’t anything that really scared his mother, but tonight he’d seen it on her face and heard it in her words. And that frightened him.
“Come on, Ani, talk to me. I promise I won’t get mad.”
Finally, he came around to face her, his multitool and vox box resting in his lap. “Promise?”
She drew an ‘x’ over the space where her heart was hiding behind her chest. “Cross my heart, hope to die.”
“I just wanted to help,” he pleaded, wanting as much as her to ease the hard feeling between them.
“I know,” she said. “But it could be dangerous.”
“Mister Qui-Gon is a Jedi,” he stated as if this was enough to explain everything.
His Mom came over and sat next to him on the bed and put and arm around his shoulder, pulling him to her side in a tight hug. “Which means that he has a lot of people to worry about and leaves little room to be concerned with your safety. Believe me, I know the type.”
“I’m meant to help them, Mom. It’s why they came here.”
Mom eyed him. “Are you sure this isn’t about the pretty girl?”
Anakin puffed his chest out a little. “I’m going to marry her.”
He was thankful that she didn’t laugh, although it was pretty clear she wanted to. “And is Padme aware of this?”
“I told her. She didn’t believe me either.”
“You’re nine, she’s fourteen, a lot of stuff can happen by the time you’re both old enough to marry,” Mom explained.
“But I saw it. You never believe me,” he said with a pout.
“It’s not that I don’t believe you, Ani, it’s that I don’t want to.” Her hand went up to play with his hair, running her fingers through the long blonde locks.
He moved his head into her touch, feeling that safety that surrounded her like a force field. “How come?”
“I didn’t want you to have to grow up fast like I had to.”
He nodded. “Because of me?”
“No. There was something. Something I had to do to save my world, it cost me a person I loved.” She rested her cheek against the crown of his head. “I’ve wanted so much to protect you from that.” Mom gave a giggle. “But I guess we’re stuck helping your friends, especially if one of them is going to be my daughter-in-law.”
“Yep. But I’m going to try and find a way that doesn’t mean you risking your pretty little head, ‘kay?”
He rolled his eyes at the same time he beamed up at her. “Okay.”