Ben was avoiding everyone, not wanting any of the other padawans to notice what was different about him. It'd been easy to hide at first, when not even he knew about it. Now that he was reaching the end, or what he assumed was the end, it was getting more difficult to keep secret. His belly was rounded out, his symptoms were as strong as ever, and it was so easy to sense them if one were to focus on his life force.
He especially couldn't let his uncle Luke figure out that he was pregnant. Although Luke was changing things, it just wasn't the Jedi way for someone single, especially not a padawan, to get pregnant and have a baby. Especially not with multiple babies that he had no idea as to how they got inside of him. Nor with sudden multiple nonhuman babies to a human parent. They were much too small to be human, and were developing differently.
He could feel it, that they were close to being born. He'd only been pregnant for around two and a half months, but they were full term. His belly was only swollen out to the point where he looked five months pregnant, which he could hide under his robes. It just looked like he'd gained a little bit of weight.
Han had already teased him about it, joking that he probably wasn't doing good in his training if he was getting fat. Ben had been glad that Han left shortly after that. It'd been a lot more upsetting than he thought it would be. He attributed most of his overreaction to hormones, but it would have been upsetting regardless. He'd always been insecure about his looks and his skill.
His master had assured him that he was still strong, that his looks did not change the massive amount of power he was capable of wielding. Although it had been comforting at the time, he wasn't so sure now. He was feeling weak, restless, and anxious, not wanting to leave his room. He'd locked the door, and was pacing. Ben wasn't sure what was going on with him. Was he going into labor? Was he just randomly anxious?
He'd had a few cramps earlier, were those real contractions? Or was he overthinking everything again? He continued to pace until there was a feeling of wetness in his pants, his water breaking. Ben swallowed down the bubble of panic that rose up, forcing himself to remain mostly calm. He'd already freaked out about giving birth countless times the past few weeks, he could do this without panicking. Like he'd rehearsed in his head, he busied himself with getting everything ready.
Shortly after he removed his pants, the first thing he did, he had a contraction. It wasn't too horrible, but it definitely wasn't great, either. He rubbed his belly, wincing. He continued to get ready, removing his underwear as well. The pain faded away after a minute, and he went into the refresher.
He'd looked up what he'd need on the HoloNet, and had gathered the things he didn't already have in his room. No one had seemed to notice the missing bowl, blankets, or towels. As he filled up a bowl with warm water, the babies inside of him started to squirm. Well, one squirmed, which meant all of the other ones had to start moving too. He kept a hand on his belly as he brought the bowl back to his nightstand.
He took the blanket and sheet off of the bed, and laid out the towels, keeping one hand towel next to the water bowl. He had a few small blankets he'd snagged from the younger kids' rooms, older ones that weren't in use. He wasn't sure what his babies looked like, so they'd have to live in blankets until he found diapers and clothes for them.
Once everything was set up to his liking, Ben went back to pacing. The HoloNet had assured him that pacing sped up contractions, and he wanted to spend as little time in labor as possible. The sooner the babies were out, the less likely someone would come and check up on him.
The contractions were coming steadily, increasing in intensity. Ben laid down on his side after a while, feeling horrible. While he was experiencing the back pain he'd expected along with his belly, his thighs also hurt with each contraction. He rubbed them, but it didn't do much to ease the ache. He wished he'd gotten a heat pack. Luke had some to help padawans that got sore from training, they would have helped with this. It was too late now, he was in too much pain to walk all the way to the little infirmary in the temple. He didn't want to end up giving birth in the halls, without any supplies or any privacy. Besides, his uncle did patrols during the night, he'd get caught.
He groaned into a pillow with the next pain, feeling it spread from his back to his belly, and then down into his upper thighs. There was a building pressure in his pelvis, and he turned onto his back, spreading his legs. Ben could still feel some fluids leaking out of him. As the pain peaked, he moaned, arching his back.
His hair stuck to his sweaty forehead, so he brushed it off. He'd be a mess by the end of this, he knew. To cope, he tried to do some breathing techniques he'd learned for meditation.
"Let your pain give you strength, my apprentice."
The pain was just making him really tired and miserable. He wasn't sure how he was supposed to use this kind of pain. He could do it when someone struck him, along with some anger, but right now he was just uncomfortable and a little bit scared. He wished someone was there to help him, someone who actually cared about him.
If only his mother wasn't so busy and actually took him seriously. When he'd first figured out he was pregnant, he'd called her. However, when he told her, his voice wavering, she'd just laughed. She thought he was joking, and thanked him for cheering her up after such a hard day dealing with the senate and foolhardy pilots.
Ben hadn't bothered trying to convince her otherwise. He'd just listened to her vent about her day, offered an update on his own life, and then let her end the call.
He supposed that he had his master, but he wasn't there physically, and could only talk to him through the Force. He doubted he knew anything about childbirth.
The gap between his contractions was lessening, and with his next one, he could feel a lot more pressure, and the urge to push. He propped himself up with his elbows and bore down, feeling a mass moving down inside of him, towards the new opening he'd discovered one day. He groaned, hoping he was doing everything right. He couldn't keep up pushing for long, and panted. He pushed again when he caught his breath.
He gasped when he sensed someone approaching, right as his master told him, "Skywalker is heading towards your room."
"No, no, no-" Ben used the Force to pull his blanket back onto his bed, and made sure it covered everything, shutting off his light. He put down his legs, and ignored how his body demanded him to keep pushing through the pain. It started to fade right as Luke made it to his door. He closed his eyes and slowed his breathing, pretending to be asleep.
Luke opened the door and stepped in. "Ben? Are you up?"
He didn't respond. Luke came up to him, and put a hand on his forehead. Feeling how warm and sweaty he was, Luke made a small noise. "No wonder he's been so off lately, he's sick... Ah, he has some water ready." There was the sound of something being dunked in the water, and then some indiscernible noises.
A damp cloth wiped his forehead. It was put down with a small plop, and then Luke left the room, closing the door. Ben sighed in relief, glad Luke just thought he had a fever.
Ben turned the light back on, keeping it dim. Tossing the blanket off of himself, he got back into position. He went back to pushing as soon as his next contraction started. After another hard push, he could feeling the first baby starting to crown. It was small, so it didn't stretch him too much, though it was uncomfortable. He'd only put a finger in the new opening once, so he was unused to anything being there.
He kept pushing, groaning, and the first baby soon slipped out. He cupped it in his hands, sitting up. It was slimy and warm, and he really wasn't sure what it was. It looked like it had fur, but it could have been thin feathers as well. Its legs were thin and birdlike, and it had two big eyes, closed.
Ben cleaned it off with the damp cloth, worry growing when it didn't seem to be waking up. Another contraction started, and he had to put it down so he could push. He kept an eye on it, desperately hoping it would wake up or make noise. He didn't want any of his babies to die. He could sense that it was alive, but what if its life force started to fade?
"Do not give into your fear. Focus on birthing the remaining offspring."
He knew he should listen, but he was was still scared. He couldn't focus, and turned back to the first baby. He gently prodded at it, tears welling up in his eyes. "Wake up, please..." It was getting cold, so he picked it up and cradled it, sniffling. "Please be okay..."
Finally, it squirmed, making a tiny peep. It slowly opened its eyes, blinking. He was so relieved he felt like crying anyways. His happiness was interrupted by another contraction. He put down the baby on a towel, and bore down, groaning.
It peeped at him as he pushed, and he squeezed his eyes shut, straining. The next one felt a little bit bigger. It took an extra push, and right before it slipped out, he felt something brush against him. Gasping, he reached down, only to touch the first baby.
The second one came out as he leaned forward, and he grunted. He picked them up, placing the first on his chest as he cleaned up its sibling. He gently rubbed that one, and it woke up much quicker. He put the two together, unsure of how he was supposed to keep them still with how good they were at rolling so quickly after birth.
He figured out something, and bunched up a second towel, looping it around them so they couldn't roll off. Now he could really focus on delivering the rest of his babies. As he delivered the third baby, the first two peeped at him, wanting attention. When he put the third with them, they peeped even more, huddling against their sibling. They were probably cold.
Worried once more, he was torn between focusing on them or the unborn ones. He groaned with his next contraction.
"Push and breathe, apprentice."
It was nice that his master cared, but Ben really didn't find him at all encouraging in this situation. The only noise he wanted to hear was his babies' peeping. Other than that, he wanted silence. Still, he bore down, moaning. This one moved down slower than the others, and took a few extra pushes before it was crowning. He really didn't like the feeling of the babies coming out, and hoped this would be the only time he ever gave birth.
This one felt bigger than the others. It was exhausting to keep pushing, and he debated using the Force to get the rest of the babies out. He decided that if one got stuck, and only if they got stuck, would he use the Force to pull them out. Otherwise, it was too dangerous. He didn't want to accidentally rip one in half or hurt himself in the process. He'd never be able to forgive himself if he hurt or killed one of them with his powers.
Ben put a hand towel in his mouth to muffle his shouting, not wanting to alert anyone or upset his babies. After some unwanted encouragement from his master, and a lot of struggling, the fourth slipped out. He spat out the towel and gasped for air. Hands shaking, he picked up the baby. It was considerably larger than the other three, much fatter.
It didn't like being cleaned up, beginning to peep in distress as he wiped it clean. Hearing the distress calls made him anxious, in some instinctive way, but he knew it wasn't actually in danger, and ignored that worry. The other three, hearing the cries, also began making distressed noises, thinking something was wrong. He took a moment to cup them all together, giving them their new sibling, and smiled down at them.
"It's alright... There's no need to be afraid." Seeing him and hearing his reassuring tone of voice relaxed them. They couldn't understand him, but they could understand tone. Looking at their little mouths, he doubted they had the vocal structure to speak basic. He hoped they would be like his uncle Chewbacca, unable to speak basic but still capable of understanding it.
Another contraction took his attention away from them, and he had to get back into position and push. It came out easier than the fourth, around the same size as the first three. Unlike its older sibling, it seemed to enjoy being cleaned, making a cooing sound.
He was really tired, but he still wasn't done. As he bore down, the next baby came down a lot faster than the others. It didn't stretch him as much, and came out after just a few pushes. It was tinier than its siblings, much weaker looking. Like the first one, it took a while before it woke up and started squirming. Its peeping was much quieter than the others. He'd have to keep a close eye on it to make sure it grew up okay.
The last one took a bit of time, only because he was exhausted. All of the babies peeped at him, and Ben wondered if maybe they were concerned about him. He struggled to catch his breath as he cleaned up the seventh baby. He wiped himself clean, and got rid of the towel underneath him. Some sort of fleshy mass came out of him as he cleaned up. He threw it away, disgusted. Hopefully, it was meant to come out. He had no idea what it was.
After cleaning off the bed, he put on pants and laid down on his side, lifting each of the babies up and putting them near his chest. They huddled up against him for warmth, and one suddenly latched onto his nipple. "Hey-" Before he could brush them away, he realized it was drinking. His face felt hot. He hadn't known he could nurse them.
The other six saw that their sibling was eating, and started peeping loudly. He lifted one up to his other nipple, and let them eat to their fill before picking up another. They all took turns. The smallest one had trouble figuring out how to eat, so Ben had to gently position it, and then squeeze a little milk out so they could get the hang of it.
"You guys are making me feel like some kind of bantha..."
Once they'd all eaten, they huddled up against him and fell asleep. He put his arm around them, and smiled. They were cute, and he loved them already. He'd do his best to take care of them and keep them safe.
Now that he wasn't pregnant anymore, he could go back to training normally. Since he was 23, the oldest padawan, he wasn't supposed to fight the others, but he enjoyed beating them. As he knocked down another padawan, Luke approached him. He was holding something in his cupped hands. Ben tossed aside his practice sword. "What is it, Master Luke?"
"Ben, I know that you're lonely, and I understand that..." He wasn't lonely anymore, not with all the babies waiting for him to come back everyday. He was happier than he'd been in years. "But this is unacceptable."
Luke opened his hands, revealing one of the babies. Seeing its mother, it peeped. Ben froze, fear striking him. Luke wasn't supposed to find out about them. Luke wasn't supposed to be breaking into his room and invading his privacy. Although the babies peeped a lot, you couldn't hear them through the door.
"How did you-"
"I went into your room-"
"It doesn't matter-"
Ben scowled. "You don't trust me."
"You can't just keep baby animals in your room, Ben. They need to be with their mother, and their own kind. You can't care for them properly."
"You don't know what they are."
"No, I've never seen this species before. So they're probably rare, and need to be released."
They'd die on their own, in the wild. His smallest one wouldn't last a day, it needed extra help just to get to warmth. The others would starve, slowly.
"They're mine. I'm taking care of them."
"Ben. This isn't just advice. Set them free, or I will."
Luke was going to get rid of his babies. Luke was going to kill them. His hands shook.
His uncle sighed, and pressed the baby into his hands. "You can play with them for another hour, but then I'll take them while it's still warm out."
"He's going to kill them, boy. You can't keep them if you stay there. Your children will die in the hands of Skywalker."
His master was right. He couldn't stay here any longer. It wasn't safe.
Ben shoved past him, and hurried back to his room. He had to get them out of here, had to get them somewhere safe. When he reached his room, he locked the door behind him. The baby in his hands peeped up at him, and he crumbled.
How could Luke do this? His uncle liked animals, surely he would realize that leaving seven strange newborn creatures out to fend for themselves would kill them. If only his mother had believed him, then he wouldn't be so scared. She would have taken him back, and he wouldn't have to worry. She'd wanted grandchildren, she would have liked them.
He put the baby back with its siblings, and knelt next to the bed, he tried to keep his crying quiet, but couldn't help his sobbing. The babies all started squeaking, upset at their mother's crying. That just made Ben feel even worse, that he was upsetting his babies.
He forced himself to calm down, and started packing. His master would provide him with food and water, so he packed up clothes and blankets. He put on a jacket, and made a little sling out of a blanket he ripped. He tucked the babies inside of it, and zipped up his jacket. They rearranged themselves until they were comfortable.
He lifted up the bag.
Kylo Ren sighed as he entered his quarters. He was tired from training, and got scolded by the General for breaking more equipment. It wasn't his fault the equipment was cheap. If it was better, it wouldn't break. He hadn't had a great day.
Hearing some peeps, he felt better already. Smiling, he went over to his bed. There was a mass in the center, underneath some blankets. "Hmm, I wonder what's on my bed? What could it be?" There was a quiet peep, and then an irritated chirp. Lifting up the blankets, he could see the kids all huddled up underneath. "It's you! How are you seven doing?"
He sat down, and they waddled up to him, peeping happily. He gave each of them a kiss on the head. "I missed you." Sometimes he wished he could spend the whole day cuddling with them, but the General would come bother him. He didn't want to give Hux any reason to make fun of him. Snoke had told him not to kill the redhead, and he'd break that rule if Hux said anything about his babies, even if he wished he could get closer to him, if the man was nicer.
Laying down, they all climbed on top of him. His smallest one scooted up to his face. They were no longer tiny and weak, could move and eat on their own, but still weren't as tall as their siblings. They settled down next to his neck, cooing. "Vader, how was your day?" He'd decided to name them after his grandfather when they were young, in hopes that they would get stronger like their namesake was. They had, and he was proud of them.
Vader gave a happy chirp in response. "That's good. Are you all hungry?" The loud barrage of peeps he got in answer was a yes. He used the Force to pull over their food from the little kitchenette he had in his room. He gave each of them their portions, and made sure they got enough.
He'd been worried while nursing that they hadn't been getting enough food, and made up for it once he could give them solids. He was probably overfeeding them, but he got worried if he didn't feed them when they begged for food, afraid that they weren't getting what they needed. He still had no idea what species they were, so he didn't know what was a healthy amount of food for them.
They were all quite round as a result.
He was just as worried that they weren't warm enough, the star destroyer was cold, and they needed warmth or else they got sluggish and miserable. So he'd gotten supplies and made them all sweaters. Each one had a number on it, so he knew which sweater was for which child. He could tell them apart, even without the number. Their Force signatures were different from each other's, and the patterns on their fur were different as well.
Hux got sick of pressing the buzzer to Ren's door, and knocked on it. "Ren! Open the door!" He'd found two troopers strangled to death walking down the hall, and intended to yell at Ren. He wasn't sure why Ren upset him so easily, but he did. Most of the time, he just wanted to ignore him and sulk about what he did, but knew he had to keep up appearances and yell at him. He couldn't give in to weakness.
Ren still wasn't answering, so he input the override code on the door. It opened up, and he stepped in. "Ren!"
There was no sign of him. He saw movement on some small table, and walked towards it. The light was dimmed, so he couldn't see what it was. There was a sound, a small peep of some kind. It was similar to the noise his cat would make when she was surprised. Did Ren have a cat too?
"Lights, 90%." The lights brightened, and a bunch of creatures on the table started squeaking and shifting. "What in blazes?"
One of the creatures turned around, looking at him with dark, round eyes. It chirped. They definitely weren't cats, and whatever they were, they were fat. He did a quick count, and there appeared to be seven of them, all huddled around the shriveled looking mask of what seemed to be Darth Vader. They all had sweaters.
Ren had seven pets, apparently. They were all staring at him now, probably hungry. He wondered how they got up on the table. They looked too fat to be able to use their wings. Maybe they could jump. Or maybe they'd been put there.
"Hello there." He had a soft spot for animals, even ones that weren't cats. He held out a hand to them. Millicent liked to sniff his hand before letting him pet her. The closet one, the largest of the seven, with a 4 on its sweater, bumped its head against his hand. He patted its head. "Do you have names?"
It peeped at him. "I'll call you Peep for now. You're very cute, Peep." It cooed. He kept petting it. The others seemed wary of him, but Peep was lovable. "I'm going to pick you up." It probably couldn't understand basic. He lifted Peep up, surprised at how heavy it was.
Peep was much heavier than Millicent, despite being smaller than her. It seemed to like being held, rubbing its head against him.
He really liked Peep. He'd have to ask Ren what species it was, and get one for himself. Millicent could use a new friend, and he'd enjoy taking care of another pet.
Peep was just starting to fall asleep in his arms when the door slid open. All the others started chirping, bouncing on the table. Peep woke up and chirped too.
"I'm back from training! Are you okay-" Ren froze, seeing him. Hux felt nervous. He really shouldn't have been holding one of Ren's pets without permission. "Let them go, General."
He sounded ready to kill him. Hux didn't want to let Peep go, but placed it back with the others. Ren went to them and picked Peep up, checking it for anything wrong. "Did you do anything to them?"
"No. I was just holding it. Peep liked being pet."
"It's what I decided to call it."
"Their name is Saber, not Peep."
"They're very cute. What are they?"
Ren narrowed his eyes. "Why are you in here?"
"I was going to talk to you about the troopers you killed, but pets don't like shouting."
"They're not pets."
"Therapy animals?" Millicent was technically a therapy animal, though he'd spoiled her out of her original purpose.
"They're my kids."
Hux looked at them, and back at Ren. He wasn't sure why that made him feel jealous, that Ren had had kids with someone. "What was their mother?"
"I'm their mother."
"There was none, they were gifts from the Force." The jealous feeling went away. Hux was relieved, though he didn't know why. "Why are you happy about that?"
"Do you have feelings for me, General?"
"Saber likes you. Maybe you can come visit me sometimes."