A/N: Thank you to Curious kitty for the idea and the nightmares. Didn't quite the laughter in there, but this is a bit more like him…

Disclaimer: I only play mind games in Lucas's playground. Ar'laqi is mine, though.


He could hear her in the front room, muttering various language curses at something. There were moments of silence, a tic of keys against the silence, followed by a few more choice words about the parentage of the inventor of classification.

Curious, he went down the back stairs, through the darkened kitchen to the front room, where one young lady sat at the desk, textbooks and datapads spread over the fine wooden surface. "Up late again, Ar'laqi?"

Ar'laqi turned half way to face him. "Again? Still is closer to it. I have several major assignments due in 4 days. Sleep will come after the finals." She sighed. "I didn't wake you, did I, sir?"

He found it amusing that she still called him "sir" after being adopted for over ten years. As one of the few Chiss to be exiled, Thrawn understood the loneliness of the outside galaxy. The daughter of traders, Ar'laqi had been born outside Ascendancy space…and therefore not a citizen. When her parents had been attacked just 2 sectors away from Niruaun, he'd taken the inquisitive child under his wing, finally adopting her. It seemed unlikely that he would ever marry, and beside which, Ar'laqi was quite like him in many ways. Including the obsession for knowledge. Speaking of…

"You'll do poorly on them if all you can type is, 'the capital of the Empire is Corusnooze'."

She scowled at the reminder of a mistake from 8 years ago, when she was still desperately trying to please him. She'd been a child, too tired to pull all-nighters, or to know what she typing…and he still used it to tease her at times.

"Dare I ask which one is the object of such vulgar wrath?"

She sighed, and handed him one datapad. "I'll make us some Chgathan tea." As she prepared the Chiss drink, she could hear nothing from the other room. She wondered, not for the first time, what it must be like to be some Ensign giving bad news to him on the bridge. The terror that slowly developed as Thrawn devoted his entire attention to the matter at hand. The possible execution methods, for no one seem to grasp that Thrawn was not Vader, and liked to command competent, creative and above all, live crews. She knew enough of him now to know that he simply gave important matters his fullest attention. There was still a part of her that glowed when she remembered this.

Returning to the front room, she set down a mug in front of him and sipped her own, waiting. He pulled narrowed eyes away from her assignment. "I was not aware that you were taking a drama course."

"I'm not."

"You haven't changed programs, or taking any non-required courses this term?"

"No, sir. I am still in the Library Assistant and Cataloguing Program, with no electives left."

"I see." He scanned the assignment again while she drank more of the tea. "I fail to see, then, the purpose of this assignment."

She smiled into her cup. "'To conduct an one-on-one instruction with a patron, teaching them to use a source and deciding on the best of sources available'," she quoted, straight-faced.

"By making it up."

"By role-playing," she corrected sweetly.

"As an individual assignment." He snorted. "Fabrication of events, and an unrealistically reached goal. What, besides script writing, does this prepare you for when one enters the work force?" He tossed the datapad back onto the pile.

"We don't learn about reality in school, sir. We live in school-land, with school-weather, and school-laws and school-nerfs."

"Obviously." Thrawn shook his head and reached for his cooling tea. After taking a few measured sips, he continued. "To think that it took until fourth semester to teach you all to lie to yourselves."

"Now we have the skills to envision a reference scenario." She laughed at his expression. "You think the students enjoy it? It is a waste of our time, and energy. But, as school-land is not a democracy, we don't get a say in the matter."

"Only sleepless nights and datapads with verbal abuse issues."

She smiled, and laid a hand on his arm. "Alright, I'll leave it until tomorrow. And I'll try to be nicer to the datapads." She switched off the desk lamp, allowing the shadows to enfold the assignments for the night.

"I certainly do not know where you picked up such vulgarities, child." Thrawn shook his head as he turned to travel up the back stairs.

Ar'laqi waited until he was at the top of the stairs before she called up. "I listen to you after the Moff meetings, sir." With that, she disappeared into her own rooms, leaving a few floating words drifting down the stairs.