i. Padmé’s not even a doctor, the first time she patches somebody up because they landed in her dumpster--she just happens to be on track to becoming one.
And Anakin Skywalker is--he’s exactly her type. He’s cute, he’s got blue eyes and long hair and a tattoo on his wrist, and the first thing he says to her is are you an angel.
Granted, the concussion has something to do with it, but even afterwards, he looks at her like she is an angel. Which is flattering, actually, and it appeals to Padmé’s ego, as much as she’ll protest it.
(Later on, after the custody battle, after she’s slammed her fist into his face and kicked him out of her and their kids’ lives, she’ll look back and wonder if that’s where they went wrong. Did they ever even see each other, truly?
If they had, she wonders, fingering the necklace that he once gave to her, would she have seen that he was spiraling downwards, farther and farther from her and their children? Would she have seen how Palpatine’s influence was slowly corrupting her husband, from the inside out?
Could she have done something?
She breathes, in and out, and brushes her thumb over the wooden pendant one last time.
Then she opens her drawer and drops it into the darkness.)
ii. Padmé Amidala is a fully-fledged doctor and has been for years when Dev Sibwarra opens her apartment door and says, in desperate Spanish, “There’s someone bleeding in your dumpster.”
And, well, there’s no other course of action--Padmé takes her coat off the rack, tugs it on, and follows Dev down. The dumpster’s lid is still up, giving her a good look at the unconscious, black-clad figure lying in her dumpster.
She’s got a mask in her hand. There aren’t many black-clad, masked people running around Hell’s Kitchen, but Padmé knows of one. There’s no mistaking Fulcrum.
More to the point, even in the dim light, there’s no mistaking Ahsoka Tano’s face, even with a swelling lip and blood running down the side of her face.
“Fuck,” breathes Padmé, all the pieces falling into place. She looks up from the prone figure at Dev, and then says in Spanish, “Help me out here--let’s get her out and to my apartment.”
“Don’t call the police,” says Padmé, firmly. Some part of her can hardly believe what she’s saying, what she’s doing--hauling a known vigilante out of her dumpster with no plans at all to call the police, like an upstanding citizen should. She’s quietly glad Luke and Leia are sleeping at Bail and Breha’s right now, this is not the sort of thing they should be exposed to.
She grabs hold of Fulcrum’s--Ahsoka’s--Fulcrum’s arms, as Dev grabs her legs, and slowly, gingerly, they lift her out of the dumpster, up the stairs, and onto Padmé’s couch.
“Don’t tell anyone,” says Padmé, in Spanish. “Not even your mother. Go back home, clean up, I’ll take things from here.” She smiles, reassuringly. “You be careful, all right, Dev?”
Dev nods, then scurries off, hair bouncing as he goes. Padmé shuts the door behind her, then leans against it and stares at Ahsoka.
“I really hope you have a good explanation for this, Ahsoka,” she says.
Nial Pedrin walks into an apartment building with a police badge in hand. If Seventh Sister--or whatever her real name is, she’s certainly never told him--is right, then Fulcrum should be around here somewhere, heavily injured and under no condition to fight back. All it takes is someone willing to listen to him, and the police badge should do the trick just fine.)
“No hospitals,” says Ahsoka.
“You are literally bleeding into my couch,” says Padmé, and damn, Ahsoka’s grip is stronger than it should be, for a lawyer. Then again, it’s not as though Ahsoka’s just a lawyer now, is she. “You could get better meds at the hospital--”
“The people who did this to me,” says Ahsoka, steely blue eyes looking up at Padmé, “are going to kill everyone at the hospital to get to me.”
The cold weight of dread drops into Padmé’s gut. “Who?” she asks. “Who are they? Ahsoka, Fulcrum, whatever you call yourself--”
“Padmé,” says Ahsoka, “you have to trust me, it’s better if you don’t know--”
“You know,” says Padmé, “I remember someone else who said the same thing to me, years ago. It’s better if you don’t know. And look how well that turned out for either of us.” She fixes Ahsoka with her own steely glare, and says, “Tell me why I shouldn’t call the hospital right now.”
Ahsoka seems to weigh her options, brow furrowing as her gaze darts away from Padmé and fixes on the ceiling. Then she drops her hand and says, “They call themselves Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister. Whatever their real names are, nobody knows--nobody on the street, anyway. They’re part of Palpatine’s empire, they’ve been running a trafficking ring, and they kidnapped a kid to set a trap for me.” She looks back at Padmé and says, “You know that’s not fair.”
“Sometimes you have to play dirty to get what you need,” says Padmé, tiredly, slumping down to Ahsoka’s level. No, it isn’t fair to compare what Ahsoka’s doing to what Anakin did, but it’s a point that needs to be made, because from where Padmé’s standing she can’t really see the difference. “Okay. So these guys roughed you up?”
“Them and their thugs,” says Ahsoka. “I figured I’d be walking into a trap, but I got overconfident.” She smiles, a brittle thing, and says, “Though, at least now I know where the kid’s not.”
“Hooray,” says Padmé, with no trace of cheer. “You do this? Every night? Go out and punch criminals in the face?”
“Somebody has to keep Hell’s Kitchen’s people safe,” says Ahsoka. “All ten blocks full of them.”
“Nobody has to,” says Padmé. “That’s why there are laws in place--you’re a lawyer, you should know that.”
“Yeah, but,” says Ahsoka, pushing herself up to a sitting position, “you and I know that half the police force and a good chunk of the DA’s office is in Palpatine’s pockets, along with god knows who else.” Anakin, she doesn’t say, but his shadow hangs over them all the same, just then. “I have to do something to chip away at that.”
“Ahsoka,” Padmé starts, before Ahsoka grabs her hand again and tilts her head to the side, as if listening for something. “What is it?”
“Three floors down,” she says. “Someone’s looking for me.”
There’s that cold weight of dread again. “Ahsoka, you can’t think--”
“Smells like smoke and cheap-ass cologne,” says Ahsoka, and--what the fuck, how does she know that three floors up? More to the point, what’s Padmé gotten herself into? “He’s asking after me.”
“Fuck,” Padmé breathes.
“Tell me you’ve got something in your kitchen,” says Ahsoka.
“You are not stabbing a man in my building, Tano,” Padmé says, forming a plan in her head. This is the sort of quick thinking she’s used to, planning out what to say and what to do, preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. “Just hide behind something and I’ll take care of things.”
Vader’s ex-wife opens the next door that Nial knocks on. Which is--a surprise, to say the least, but he composes himself fairly quickly and smiles, blandly.
“Good evening, ma’am,” he says, flashing his fake officer’s badge. It glints gold in the fluorescent light, seems almost real.
“Good evening, officer,” says Dr. Amidala, evenly. “Is something the matter?”
“Nothing’s the matter,” says Nial, smoothly. “I’m just making a few inquiries around the building--have you seen a woman in a mask? Average height, all in black? She’s armed and dangerous.”
“Haven’t seen any masked women running around,” says Amidala, leaning against her doorframe and folding her arms across her chest. “Maybe try the next building?”
“I have a source that tells me she was seen in the vicinity of this one, though,” says Nial.
“And you’re assuming that someone who’s been marathoning Netflix for the whole night has seen her?” Amidala asks.
Nial sighs, shakes his head. “No,” he admits. “But if you see her--”
“You’ll be the first to know, sir,” says Amidala. “Good night.” She shuts the door on him, and he turns away with a sigh. That’s a bust, he’ll have to call Seventh and Fifth, and so he starts walking down the stairs, pulling his phone out of his pocket and dialing the number.)
“What the fuck are you planning on doing with that extinguisher--”
“I’m not letting him get away,” says Ahsoka, lifting up the extinguisher with a soft grunt. She leans against the wall, looking clearly spent as she hugs the extinguisher close to her chest. “I can’t.”
“He’s a police officer--” Padmé starts.
“No, he’s not,” says Ahsoka. “His badge smells different. It isn’t real, he’s working for the people I told you about.”
“His badge smells--you are going to explain all of that to me right now,” says Padmé. “How do you know that? How did you know he smelled like smoke and cheap cologne from three floors up?”
“If I tell you now, he’ll get away!” Ahsoka snaps. “Look, right now, all you need to know is that I can smell and hear everyone in this building and I can guess what you had for breakfast.”
“That’s got to be a hit at parties,” Padmé says, and she doesn’t bother to keep the bite out of her voice. “As your doctor, I can’t let you move around like this--”
“Padmé, technically, you’re off-duty,” says Ahsoka, before she staggers over to the railing and holds the fire extinguisher out.
Padmé glances down at the man, who’s rapidly making his way down the stairs. “You’ll rip a stitch,” she points out.
“I’ll live,” says Ahsoka, closing her eyes.
Then she lets go of the fire extinguisher.
“No luck, ma’am,” Nial says into the phone, “Fulcrum seems to have gotten away.”
“In her state?” the Seventh Sister scoffs. “Impossible. Someone lied to you. Search again, and be less gentle about it.”
“Ma’am, Padmé Amidala lives here,” says Nial. “Vader might--”
“They divorced years ago,” says Seventh, sounding weirdly carefree considering who they’re talking about. “Vader won’t do anything. And if she is the one harboring Fulcrum, he may even encourage you.”
Nial does not say that he highly doubts it, because the Seventh Sister has had more personal contact with Vader than he has. Instead, he simply says, “That’s a pretty big if, ma’am,” in as neutral a tone as possible. “If I don’t find her, though?”
“Then use force if necessary,” snaps Seventh, before hanging up.
Nial sighs, shuts his phone off and stuffs it into his pocket.
He looks up.
Is that a--)
“I want it known,” says Padmé, as she and Ahsoka drag a man’s unconscious body up the stairs, “that I think this is a terrible idea.”
“So why are you coming along?” Ahsoka asks. “You could just go back to your apartment, I can interrogate someone by myself.”
“I’m a doctor,” says Padmé. “Do no harm--and if I look the other way on this, you might just cause irreparable harm. To this man or to yourself.”
“I’m not going to kill him--”
“No, you’re just going to punch him till he talks,” says Padmé. “That’s not going to have some lasting effects.”
“He’s a scumbag,” Ahsoka points out.
“From what you’ve told me about who he works for, yeah,” says Padmé, as Ahsoka hip-checks the door to the roof open, “but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re going to be beating him up for information.” She lets out a breath and helps her carry the man’s unconscious form to the water tower, then says, “What are you doing?”
“Making a difference,” says Ahsoka, and she sounds so assured.
“You’re a lawyer,” Padmé says, “you can do that already without--putting on a mask and beating people up. That’s vigilantism, which, the last time I checked, was against the law.” She narrows her eyes at her, and says, “What in the hell, Ahsoka?”
She doesn’t say anything about Anakin. But it’s there, in between them, that shadow of his name and his deeds, and Padmé knows Ahsoka knows that, can see it in how her lips thin out.
“I have to,” Ahsoka says, at last. “The system doesn’t work, Padmé, you know that. The police can’t always get there, and even if they do, there’s no guaranteeing they’ll be there to help you.” She maneuvers them to the water tower, and for all that the man’s allegedly a scumbag who kidnaps children to draw out vigilantes, he’s still a human being, so Padmé is gentler with him than she wants to be. She’s a doctor, she’s made an oath. Do no harm.
“If you’re going to be up here to keep me honest,” says Ahsoka, “you should probably get yourself a mask. Something to keep him from identifying you when he wakes up.”
Padmé’s about to tell her that she’s not a vigilante, she doesn’t have masks just lying around, before she remembers--she does. She has two kids who were incredibly enthusiastic for Halloween at different points in time, she’s bought them a lot of costumes over the years. She has a mask or two lying around.
(Do no harm, she tells herself.
She tells herself this up until the man gloats that Fulcrum might never find the boy, not in her state, not in time to save him from being taken further away, if not killed outright. Or starved. Or hurt in so many other ways.
She can’t not think of Luke, then, in this little boy’s place, frightened and lost and alone, in the hands of thugs and thieves and evil men.
She steps up, traces her finger up to his temple.
Fulcrum gets the hint.)
iii. The less said about the explosions and the fallout from that, the better. Suffice it to say, Padmé’s grounding Luke and Leia from any social lives they might have for about a month and making them do more chores around the apartment.
But she can’t very well stop them from climbing out the window to fight thugs and thieves and worse in the streets of Hell’s Kitchen, and she can’t stop those from fighting back. At least this time Ahsoka’s keeping an eye out for them, especially Luke since Leia’s leg is still healing up and she lacks the luxury of a healing factor, but Padmé’s heart still beats out a faster staccato rhythm when Ahsoka brings Luke in through the window, blood staining the blue of his costume a darker, uglier hue.
“Hi, Mom,” Luke sheepishly says, yanking the mask up and off, revealing his father’s blue eyes and his own apologetic smile. “Um. It’s not as bad as it looks?”
“Someone came at him with a rusty knife,” says Ahsoka, and Padmé stomps down on the urge to hurt something. She’s a doctor. She has a patient, and a job to do.
“All right,” she says. “Strip off the spandex, I need to get a better look at your wound.” She looks over her shoulder, to see Leia hobbling out of her bedroom. “Leia, show Ahsoka the basin and the washcloth so I can wash out this wound, and keep off that leg.”
“I’m fine, Mom,” Leia sullenly says, but complies anyway.
Luke lets out a soft, pained hiss as he and Padmé take the top of his costume off. “I swear, it really isn’t that bad,” he says.
“You’re not the one looking at it,” Padmé tells him.
“I have a healing factor,” Luke says.
“You might still get infected,” Padmé argues.
“Mom,” Luke plaintively whines.
“Luke,” Padmé just as plaintively whines back, imitating her son’s tone. “See how that feels?” she asks in her normal voice, as Luke winces and makes a face, as Leia and Ahsoka come back with clean rags and a basin full of water. “I really wish you two would at least slow down without needing to be injured,” she says.
“That doesn’t happen all the time, Mom,” Leia scoffs.
“You mean it’s dropped since I started hanging around you two,” says Ahsoka, dryly, folding her arms across her chest. She’s smirking, the mask pulled off, and--Padmé is not going to go down that line of thought.
“No, it hasn’t, it’s exactly the same because we don’t get injured that often,” says Luke.
Padmé glances at Ahsoka.
Ahsoka says, “Heartbeat says liar.”
Luke lets his head fall back against the arm of the couch and says, “That’s freaky. And creepy beyond all belief.”
“Not to mention invasive,” Leia grumbles.
“You are talking to a doctor,” says Padmé, distantly surprised to find that her voice is so calm, that her hands are so steady. “Invasive is something I do quite a lot. Now hold still, I’m going to wash your wound and apply antibacterial cream.”
iv. Padmé does not actually know when she starts to gain a Reputation, with the capital R and all that entails. But she’s pretty sure she knows who to blame, when random vigilantes start showing up on her fire escape.
This one doesn’t even have a mask on. Come to think of it, she doesn’t look like she’s very injured at all, though her clothes are somewhat torn as if she got into a fight and came out of it strangely unscathed.
Then the woman opens her eyes, slurs, “Izzis the Night Doctor?”
Oh, thinks Padmé, already sliding into doctor mode. Concussion, most likely. It’s a miracle the woman even got up onto her fire escape, as Padmé’s hauling her through the window and apparently she can barely stand, and she keeps mumbling and how is this her life, dammit.
“Mom?” Leia sleepily says, emerging from her bedroom. “Is that the PI from Ahsoka and Ben’s building?”
The woman lifts her head up from Padmé’s shoulder, and squints at Leia. “I’m the PI, yes,” she dazedly mumbles. “I think I am.”
“Okay, definitely concussed,” says Padmé, decisively. “Leia, get me the blanket and the kit. What happened, Miss--”
“Rey,” says the PI, after a moment. “S’Rey. Can I lie down?”
“You can,” Padmé promises, lowering her onto her couch and propping up the pillows to support her head, “but do you remember what happened?”
Rey shrugs. “A little,” she starts, uncertain. “There was--a lot of guys? And one of them hit me on the head pretty hard--think that was the only hit, though. I’m not too bad at fighting.”
“Evidently enough,” says Padmé with a sigh, as Leia drops off the medical kit on the couch. “Bad news is: you're concussed. The good news is, you can sleep, I just need to wake you up every so often, but will you mind if I do some triage first?”
“Never mind that,” says Leia, “if you got in a fight, how come you’re not hurt worse?”
“I have superpowers,” says Rey, in all seriousness.
Padmé stares at her, then heaves a sigh.
“Of course you do,” she says.
When Rey wakes up, it’s not in her own apartment. She sucks in a breath, hand going to where she keeps a small knife, before a strangely familiar voice cuts in--“hand off that knife, Mom’s out and I’m not going to explain to her why her patient left a hole in anything.”
Rey blinks, pulls herself up to a sitting position. The apartment she’s in is not all that familiar, but if she concentrates she can almost remember--the Night Doctor, she realizes quickly. She’s in the Night Doctor’s apartment, and it looks--a lot less like a hospital than she expected, more like someone’s home.
“Lie down,” says a young girl, coming into Rey’s view, her hair tied into neat buns. There’s a faint trace of annoyance to her tone, and she crosses her arms and comes to a stop to stand over Rey. “You had a concussion. What do you remember about last night?”
“Um,” says Rey, massaging her temples. Well, that explains the headache. “Some,” she says. “I was looking into someone’s last known location and--I think I got jumped.” She pauses, then lets out a soft curse. “Trayvis,” she says.
“Oh, him,” the girl says. “What made you think you could trust him?”
“I paid him,” says Rey, then she squints at the girl. “Who are you, anyway?”
The girl shrugs. “Not the Night Doctor, that’s for sure,” she says, evasively. “You planning on going back there?”
“I have to,” Rey says, leaning back on her elbows. “Someone’s counting on me to find their cousin.”
“There’s something to be said about walking into a trap again and expecting different results,” says the girl, and Rey huffs out a laugh, which quickly turns into a pained hiss as she presses her fingers against her temples. “You know, I know someone who could be your backup. At the very least, if you walk into a trap again, this time you’ll have somebody to yank you out of it.”
“All right, I’ll bite,” says Rey. “Who?”
The girl gets down on all fours, and yanks a quiver full of arrows and a bow out from underneath the couch. “Hell’s Kitchen’s Hawkeye,” she says. “Rest up first. Then meet me and Spider-man tonight, corner of 41st and 10th. We’ll keep an eye out for you.”)
v. “You broke your arm because you slipped and fell down a flight of stairs,” says Padmé, for once not in her own apartment, for once not patching anyone up--no, today she and her ex-husband are in the hospital and are crowded around Leia, whose arm is now in a plaster cast.
Apparently, someone had left a banana peel on a staircase in her school. Padmé’s already imagining what she’ll say to the principal, none of it good.
“Yes, I did,” says Leia, with a long sigh. “Luke’s already had his laugh.”
“Luke didn’t, he was pretty worried about you,” says Anakin. “And I am too. Are you all right, Leia?”
Leia waves her hand, and says, “I’m fine,” she says, irritated. “I mean, I’m not going out for the next few nights--”
“Next six months,” Padmé corrects. “Your arm needs time to heal, and I am not having you risking it again for archery practice. You don’t have Luke’s healing factor.”
“Oh, come on,” huffs Leia.
“I’m not your dad,” says Padmé. “I don’t give in that easily. Six months, no archery practice. I’ll ask Ahsoka to look out for Luke in the meantime.”
“I do not give in that easy,” Anakin says, offended.
“You went out to buy them hot chocolate at nine in the evening once,” Padmé reminds him, and he ducks his head and scratches the back of his neck. It’s such a normal gesture--and this is such a normal situation--that Padmé only barely manages to repress a small, hysterical giggle.
“Okay, true,” says Anakin. “But I’m siding with your mother on this one.”
“But what if--” Leia starts.
“Hell’s Kitchen has more than enough people looking after it already,” says Padmé. “Look after yourself now, Leia. Please.”
Leia’s silent for a while, then she sighs and leans back against the headboard. “Fine,” she says. “Fine. But I’m not just going to sit around waiting up on my arm to heal.”
“I’m not going to ask you to just wait on your arm to heal,” says Padmé. “You know my night job’s getting much bigger.” Most of it is Ahsoka’s fault, recommending her as a discreet doctor to a good chunk of her fellow vigilantes, and it’s gotten to the point where Padmé’s keeping a small chart in her home office to keep them all straight.
Leia knows this, she’s seen the chart. She nods. “And?”
“I’m going to need a little help,” says Padmé, “keeping everything straight. Especially with all the special cases that keep showing up.”
“Wait,” says Anakin, quietly, his brow wrinkling, “when did--you have a night job?” He runs his hand through his overlong hair and says, “What did I miss while in jail?”
“Don’t you have some contacts left who don’t want to stab you in the face?” Leia asks, her tone pointed, as if she’s not actually expecting an affirmative answer.
“Not many, and most of them are in the wind,” says Anakin. “But you have a night job?”
Padmé huffs out a breath, then looks her ex-husband in the eye. “Did you hear about the Night Doctor?” she asks, holding his gaze.
Anakin says, soft and surprised, the light of realization dawning upon his face, “Oh. You're--”
"Yeah," Padmé says. "Me."