Sequel to Of Lightbulbs and Sketching.

Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars, nor am I making any profit from this work of fanfiction.


"Anakin, you made it! Good, good. I am so very glad you're here, my boy." Palpatine, more demonstrative than usual -- maybe because they were meeting in his 500 Republica apartment instead of in his office at the Senate Building -- reached out to take both of Anakin's hands in his.

"I'm glad I could help, Chancellor."

"And so am I, dear boy, so am I." Palpatine squeezed his hands once, looking into the younger man's eyes. "Tell me, Anakin, how are you feeling?"

"I'm very well, sir. Master Obi-Wan and I have had a nice little rest and it's given me a chance to brush up on my training."

"Ah, your training. Of course." Palpatine dropped his hands and stepped back. "And so? You feel that your lightsaber skills are coming along?"

Anakin chose his words carefully, mindful not to boast. "I think I'm improving, sir. It's what a Padawan is supposed to do, anyway."

"And I am sure you excel at it."

"I try hard not to disappoint Master Obi-Wan."

"My boy, I wonder if sometimes you do not think too much of what others need or want. Don't you ever want anything for yourself?"

Anakin grinned. "Of course I do, Chancellor. I want to become a Jedi."

"And you will, Anakin. The greatest of all the Jedi. I have never doubted it."

Anakin felt the blush rising in his throat, up his cheeks and across his forehead, staining his fair skin a deep crimson. "You are too kind, Chancellor."

"I say only what I believe, Anakin. As you should well know." This with the hint of a raised eyebrow, a reminder that Palpatine, unlike many of the Senators, believed strongly in plain speech and eschewed subterfuge. It was, Anakin supposed, one reason why he had so many detractors. Not all beings were willing to lay their doings open to the light. But Palpatine believed in truth and transparency in all things.

"Yes, Chancellor. I do know. Many beings admire you for that."

"There is nothing to admire, Anakin. I merely follow my principles. I do only as my conscience instructs me."

Anakin ducked his head a little, half-hiding another grin. Even now, after all the years Palpatine had been his friend and mentor -- ever since he'd come to Coruscant, just a frightened boy missing his mother -- he could still be surprised at Palpatine's simple goodness. His undisguised passion for justice. These were the things that made him a great leader, someone beings across the galaxy could look up to and trust. The corruption in the Senate shouldn't be allowed to stand in the way of his vision. And the Jedi were there -- Anakin was there -- to see that it wouldn't.

"But I do admire that, Your Excellency."

"Well, I won't refuse the praise of an honest heart. I was wondering ... would you like anything to eat before we begin? Or to drink, perhaps?"

Anakin blushed again, abashed by Palpatine's urbane courtesy. "No, thank you, Chancellor. I am at your disposal this evening."

Palpatine's teeth bared in a wide smile. "Excellent, Anakin. I am very glad to hear it. Now, if you wouldn't mind, sit just there ... I want to capture the light from the window."

Anakin wasn't sure how one could capture light in a sketching, but he wasn't here to argue. He took his place, cross-legged in a meditation pose, amongst the pile of cushions Palpatine had indicated and looked up expectantly.

Palpatine frowned. "Not ... quite like that, Anakin. Do you suppose ... could you recline a bit? On one elbow, perhaps?"

Not quite sure what the older man wanted, Anakin turned and stretched out on his left side, propping his cheek on his hand doubtfully. I guess this is why I'm not an artist.

Palpatine tipped his head to one side and regarded him judiciously. "That's better ... but I think your tabard casts too many shadows. It blurs your form. Could you take it off?"

"Oh." Anakin blinked and sat up, shrugging out of the leather tabard he wore over his Jedi tunics, and tucked it out of sight, behind the cushions, before replacing his utility belt. "Like that?"

Palpatine frowned at him for a moment and then nodded, his face breaking into another wide smile. "Oh ... yes, Anakin. That will do very well to start. Now, if you could pull your tunic open at the top, just a bit ... like that, there ... now, just hold still." He picked up a charcoal pencil and a small remote, with which he activated some sort of quiet music. "Let's see what this gets us, shall we?"