Chapter One – A Room with a View
Author's Note: This is an Alternate Universe story. It could not possibly be anything else. I read a fan fiction called 'The Lover' and was entranced. It was an Anakin Skywalker/Palpatine story, written before the three prequels had come out. This, therefore, is my attempt at that totally inconceivable – yet strangely logical – pairing. Before I start I must confess that I am not a natural slash writer and am only writing this story because it simply would not go away. A small warning to Padmé fans: I have almost cut her out entirely, thus changing the story completely. However, I don't believe in OOC fan fiction, so all the characters will be reasonably in character. (Except making Anakin gay, of course! But cut me a little slack!)
Remember, this IS a slash fan fiction. It won't be terribly graphic slash – but it is slash all the same.
Disclaimer: Own this, I do not. Sue me, please do not. Broke already, I am. Belong to George Lucas the characters do. Yes…
Anakin Skywalker was nervous. He hated ceremony almost as much as his master Obi-Wan Kenobi did, yet here he was, at a ceremony, about to be commended by the Supreme Chancellor himself. He tried to focus his practiced Jedi calm, willing all the richly clad civic dignitaries, senators, and the colourful blur of the cheering crowds assembled in Monument Square, to simply dissolve.
'Anakin…' a voice in his head said pointedly. 'Anakin! It's our turn!' the voice of his master insisted. Anakin started forward, not looking at the exasperated master who walked beside him, but fixing his eyes on his eventual destination, the Supreme Chancellor.
Palpatine watched lazily as the two Jedi walked slowly towards him. As a practiced politician, among other things, he had long ago learnt to shut out the screaming masses. Unless he deigned address them, they simply did not exist. He glanced at the gleaming medals he was to award the approaching Jedi. They shone in the bright Coruscant sun and Palpatine smiled thinly, knowing full well that the Jedi did not care for such honours.
The Chancellor carefully assessed the Jedi as the bowed to him. Both tall and well built they reached Palpatine's eye-level only as they bent their heads. He flicked appreciative blue eyes over the apprentice. A splendid young man, with his tanned skin, dark blond hair and dark blue eyes, and so talented… Trained far too late by Jedi standards, Skywalker had not learnt to control his emotions as the other Padawans did. Instead he positively radiated nerves. How delightful.
A little boy held out the silk cushion on which the medals were placed. As Palpatine took the first medal from the cushion he considered that it was not so long ago that the Padawan in front of him had been just such a little brat.
He spoke eloquently of the service of the Jedi, deliberately elaborating on the bravery on one young Padawan in particular. As a reward for his polished oratory, Palpatine was amused to see Anakin Skywalker go almost as red as the Chancellor's surrounding guards.
It was the first time Anakin had seen the Chancellor up close since the celebration of the battle of Naboo. A small man, he was a lot shorter than the Padawan remembered. Palpatine's carefully groomed hair had faded to a very pale ginger, and his embroidered burgundy robes contrasted with his pale skin. Heavy lidded, light blue eyes seemed to reassure Anakin. When the Chancellor began to speak, however, the 16 year-old Padawan learner's nerves returned in full force. The scene that was unfolding was more like something out of Anakin's dreams than real life. All these people are cheering for me, he thought. Their mission to Malastare had been dangerous, it was true, but Anakin had never expected this kind of acclaim. It was a heady feeling and as the Supreme Chancellor continued, Anakin was amazed to realize that he, Anakin Skywalker, was blushing.
Obi-Wan accepted the medal with his usual gravity, which Anakin was incapable of matching. Instead the Padawan found himself grinning hugely, and quite forgot to incline his head, forcing the Chancellor to reach up on tip-toe in order to get the medal around his neck.
The two Jedi stood to one side as others received awards for various reasons. Obi-Wan put one hand on his apprentice's shoulder. "So my apprentice," he said, raising his eye brows, "what do you think of your first taste of fame outside the temple since Naboo?"
Anakin considered for a moment, watching a Rodian artist receive an award for service to the Arts. "I like it Master," he answered softly, "I'd be lying if I said I didn't. But it's kinda scary as well. I don't know how men like the Chancellor deal with it all the time."
Obi-Wan chucked, looking across at the nominal head of the Republic. "I think he's quite happy dealing with the stress of being the most important person in the Republic. Don't underestimate politicians, Anakin."
"And don't enjoy this kind of thing too much. A Jedi does not serve for personal fame."
"Mind you," Obi-Wan paused, stroking his neatly clipped beard, "It doesn't mean you can't go to the parties afterward…"
Anakin perked up, "Really Master?"
Anakin slumped, "Very funny, Master."
But there was a sparkle in his Master's eyes. "Of course you can go, Anakin! In fact, you have to, because my presence is required in the Jedi Temple and at least one of us had to attend. But be careful Anakin, a room full of politicos can be as dangerous as a nest of gundarks. Stay alert."
With his Master's warning in his mind, Anakin Skywalker entered the expansive lavender hall on the ground floor of the Senate building. In his simple Jedi tunic, he felt he stood out like a wookie in a room full of dugs. Yet hardly anyone took any notice of him. Anakin was used to the respect accorded Jedi in other parts of the galaxy, yet here in the centre of the Republic Jedi were just as important as anyone else. Besides, on Coruscant, people knew the difference between a full Jedi and a mere Padawan.
Anakin looked around for someone he knew. He wished that Padmé Amidala were here, but although she had recently been appointed Sectorial Senator of Naboo – Padmé had not yet arrived in the Core. Feeling lonely, Anakin moved over to the tables of exotic food, casting around for a dish he recognised.
"Ah, Anakin." said a cultured voice behind him. Anakin whipped round, a fishy Mon Calamari delicacy half way to his mouth. There was the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic, apparently intent on making small talk with him. Quickly swallowing the appetizer, the Padawan bowed stiffly, wiping his fingers on his tunic as unobtrusively as possible.
But the Chancellor smiled, waving a pale hand dismissively. "Don't bother, Anakin," he said, oozing affability. "I get quite enough of that already. Let's not have so much ceremony between ourselves. I've been looking forward to talking to you for a while now."
Anakin was shocked. Palpatine had been looking forward to meeting him? "I'm honoured, Chancellor." he said meaningfully.
"I'm glad, Anakin. You're a very talented young man and I have no doubt that you will go far. I'm sure your master feels the same…"
A fault-picking Obi-Wan Kenobi swam into Anakin's thoughts. I wish, Anakin thought wryly.
Something must have shown on Anakin's face, because Palpatine chuckled lightly, a pleasant, inviting sound. "The honourable Jedi don't appreciate their Chosen One? Perhaps they've forgotten that according to prophecy you are meant to save everyone – including them!"
Anakin smiled back at Palpatine. It was a fairly simple interpretation of the famous prophecy, but it gratified Anakin all the same. He found himself liking this dignified yet friendly older man, and began to tell the Chancellor about his mission and life in the temple. Even though there were many beings who obviously wanted to talk to him, Palpatine listened to Anakin attentively and seemed to perfectly understand Anakin's perspective in a way that Obi-Wan never did.
Anakin became aware that beings were beginning to filter out of the hall. The Chancellor followed his gaze. "Perhaps you're right Anakin," Palpatine said, answering Anakin's unspoken thought. "It's time to depart. However, would you consider continuing this conversation at another time?"
"It would be my pleasure, Chancellor," said Anakin gratefully.
"Then it's settled. Come to my apartments in the 500 Republica a week from now and we will continue our talk there. One of my assistants will let you know. Now, Anakin, I really must take my leave."
Anakin watched the Chancellor's entourage file out. He had intended to stay a little longer, but with Palpatine gone there didn't seem to be any real reason to stay.
Anakin had always seemed the odd one out at the Jedi Temple. He made few friends in the beginning and that made him homesick for Tantooine. He liked some of the other Padawans alright and got on with them, but the only person he shared his true feelings with was his master, Obi-Wan, and even then there were some things he kept to himself.
The truth was that Anakin was afraid. Afraid he wasn't good enough. He was very good a duelling, yes it was true. But Force talent wasn't everything – Jedi weren't supposed to feel strong emotions – they were at one with the Force. But Anakin seemed to be made up of nothing but strong emotions. So each time Obi-Wan lectured him about patience and serenity, it dug a deeper hole into Anakin's insecurity. Not that he would ever admit to it.
That was why Anakin had enjoyed his talk with Chancellor Palpatine so much, and although Obi-Wan had cautioned him against the motives of politicians, Anakin couldn't help but feel that the Chancellor was a good man. He was the perfect confidant. He understood how Anakin felt and seemed to welcome Anakin's confessions even though they must seem trivial to his own manifold concerns. He was genuinely interested.
All of this made the week pass incredibly slowly. Anakin found himself thinking of things he could tell Palpatine. That he bested such-and-such in a lightsaber duel, and instead of pointing out his faults, like his master, Palpatine would congratulate him and be suitably impressed by all Anakin's hard work.
Anakin was sitting on the floor in one of the many meditation rooms in the Jedi Temple, submersing himself in the Force. His eyes were closed, to shut out everything that might distract him from his communion with the Force.
Obi-Wan Kenobi padded softly into the room, sitting down opposite his apprentice, chin resting on his knees. Anakin slowly opened his eyes and waited for his Master to speak.
"I've just received an interesting communication, Anakin. The Chancellor requests your presence at the 15th hour at his residence in the 500 Republica. What did you do at that party?"
"Nothing Master," said Anakin defensively, "We talked, that's all."
"Anakin, attracting the attention of the Chancellor, especially this Chancellor, is not a good idea." Obi-Wan looked his Padawan in the eyes, but the dim light of the meditation chamber obscured the faces of both Jedi.
"He seemed all right to me."
"Because he flattered you?" Obi-Wan said shrewdly. "Anakin, you're the Chosen One! It's in Palpatine's interest to secure your support. "
"Just because he's a politician it doesn't mean he's not a good man," said Anakin staunchly. "Think of Qu- I mean Senator Amidala. She's a politician."
Obi-Wan sighed. "Senator Amidala is an idealistic young woman. Chancellor Palpatine is an extremely experienced manipulator with an agenda."
"He's my friend and I like him," said Anakin simply.
His Master sighed again. "Very well, Anakin, you can go. But mind what I've told you."
Anakin couldn't help but be slightly nervous as he entered Palpatine's apartments. Sate Pestage, an elderly human aide ushered him past the red-robed Chancellor's Guards and into a luxurious sitting room. The room had a wonderful view of the darkening Coruscant skyline and the walls were done in dark maroon. Elegant couches were arranged tastefully around the room and pieces of exotic artwork and statuary from all over the galaxy could be seen on the walls.
Palpatine was standing with his back to Anakin, looking out the window. "Leave us," he told Pestage, without turning round. The Chancellor wore a simple grey-blue robe with a midnight blue cummerbund.
"Anakin," he said warmly as the Padawan came towards him. "I heard there was some controversy over whether you would be allowed to come."
"Here I am, sir," said Anakin, spreading his hands.
"Yes," said Palpatine, whetting his thin lips, "Here you are."
Over the next few months the friendship between the Supreme Chancellor and the Jedi Padawan grew. Anakin found himself coming to Palpatine with all his problems, always looking forward to sitting together in that elegant room and talking quietly and Palpatine, for his part, always welcomed the young man's arrival.
Lately, in unsure situations, instead of thinking, as Anakin usually did: What would Obi-Wan do? He began to think: What would Palpatine do in this situation? Everyone said that the Padawan seemed happier and more content than he had in a long time.
Only one person doubted that the Chancellor's influence was a good one. "Anakin, I wish you would stop visiting the Chancellor. I have a bad feeling about it." Obi-Wan commented, when he and his apprentice had finished sparring one day.
Anakin wiped sweat of his forehead. "Master, I trust the Chancellor with my life."
His Master re-attached his lightsaber to his utility belt. "Be careful, apprentice," he said softly. "I know your friendship with Palpatine is strong and with your trouble-making skills it is good to know that you have friends in high places. But still I can't help but feel that something is not right."
Later, alone in bed that night, Anakin thought about Obi-Wan's warnings. What does he know? Anakin thought sourly. Obi-Wan's just blinded by his dislike of politicians. He's barely even met the Chancellor!
Palpatine was distracted when Anakin entered. He was talking quietly and seriously with his Inner Council and several aides. The Padawan stood still, watching him attentively. It seemed to him that he had never seen the Chancellor before. The man moved with deliberate grace, his delicate white hands kept close to his body. The ice blue eyes had an authority, a vitality that he hadn't noticed before. Palpatine was the shortest man there and yet… even if he wasn't the Supreme Chancellor he would still exude an aura of power. His thin, pink mouth was – wait a minute, why, by the Force, was Anakin thinking about Palpatine's lips! He shook himself mentally. Don't be disgusting, said a part of him sternly. You're a 16 year-old Jedi and he's the aged Supreme Chancellor! What are you – gross?
But Palpatine had noticed him and was beckoning him over. "Ah," he said appreciatively, "This, gentlemen, is Anakin Skywalker, an extremely promising Jedi."
Anakin only recognised Sate Pestage and Mas Amedda among the coterie of advisors, but all of them nodded and acknowledged his presence. The Padawan smiled and bowed. "Now," said Palpatine softly, "I believe our discussion is over. I have business with my friend here."
The group took their leave, talking quietly amongst themselves. The Chancellor eased himself onto a soft maroon couch and smoothed his rich purple robes fussily while Anakin sat down opposite him.
"So, Anakin," Palpatine said, leaning forward, "How are you finding life at the Jedi Temple now?"
"It's the same as usual," answered Anakin. "But we always talk about me. How are you, Your Excellency?"
The Chancellor gave a small laugh that didn't touch his washed out eyes. "As well as can be expected, I have many things on my mind."
"I'm sorry for taking up so much of your time,"
"Oh no, Anakin," Palpatine smiled, the fine wrinkles at the corners of his eyes becoming more pronounced, "I find our little talks most rewarding."
"I'm glad, Your Excellency, I also find them rewarding."
As their talk progressed, Palpatine sensed that Anakin was hiding something. There was an emotion there that he couldn't quite pin-point. Naturally, that vexed him, prompting him to phrase his questions even more trickily than usual.
"But what is your opinion of the Jedi strictures concerning relationships, Anakin?" he asked lightly. It was as if he had just pressed the door-code to the Padawan's head. All his feelings became clear to the Chancellor – Anakin was in love. Perfect. If he could push the young man towards the woman, she would do more damage than Palpatine could ever achieve on his own.
"I… I'm not sure," said Anakin slowly. Palpatine had a vision of awkward fumbling with a handsome Twi'lek Padawan. Anakin was – oh how wonderful! This would be ten times more explosive than some feeble woman! "That is," Anakin continued, "it's hard, obviously. But I've found someone who seems to understand my point of view."
"That's wonderful Anakin! Dare I ask…?"
Skywalker's mouth closed abruptly and he looked down at his well-used Jedi boots.
"Anakin?" Palpatine said tentatively.
"I'd… prefer to keep that to myself for the moment, Your Excellency. If… if you don't mind?"
"Of course not," said Palpatine reassuringly. "I would never press you for such information." He stood up and laid a pale hand on Anakin's cheek.
For the first time in many years, Palpatine made a mistake. "Anakin, you know I think of you as a son. I would never want you to do something you didn't think was right."
Author's Note: Poor Anakin! Poor Palpy! Neither of them realizes what they're getting themselves into! Reviews would be nice – even if you are just commenting how twisted my mind is!