STANDARD DISCLAIMER: OK, it's boring already. Anything SW = GL. Anything else is mine (well, except for the one bit I shamelessly ripped off from the movie Risky Business). Speaking of which, the song "Old Time Rock and Roll" belongs to Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. I'm not making any money from this… and when you think about all the time I spend on this crap, it's a shame, really.
"Look, Anakin. This is all you have to do," Palpatine said, picking up a terra cotta pot and inspecting the pink petunia growing in it. "Make sure to water them daily, but you don't want them too moist."
"I don't?" Anakin asked. Palpatine shook his head.
"No. Too much water is bad. Just keep the soil damp. Make sure they're in full sunlight as much as possible. And if you see any dead flowers, pull them off so new ones will grow." Anakin watched carefully as Palpatine pinched off a dead flower and tossed it over the edge of the balcony. "That's not too difficult, is it?" Anakin shook his head. "Good," Palpatine said, putting the plant down and walking back into his apartment. Anakin followed close behind. "Now, I'll do you an access code so you can get in while I'm gone. I expect to be back in three or four days, but that could change depending on how things go." He walked Anakin to the door. "I really appreciate your doing this," he confided. "It is so difficult to get dependable people one can trust." Anakin smiled.
"You know you can count on me, Palpster."
Anakin punched in the access code and walked into Palpatine's apartment. Responding to movement, lights came on as he walked through the empty apartment. Though it was only early afternoon, the skies were darkening with the threat of impending rain, and the apartment held that strange gloominess that seems to permeate buildings on rainy days. Anakin unlocked the balcony door and stepped outside. A fierce wind whipped his Jedi robes as he knelt to inspect the plants. He felt droplets on his head. Oh man, Palpatine said not to give them too much water… maybe I'd better bring them in. But if I bring them in, they won't be in direct sunlight later. Now the rain was beginning to fall in earnest. Shit… wait a minute, I'll just stay here overnight and put them back outside tomorrow morning. Palpatine won't care – these plants are his babies. Pleased with his ingenuity, he began bringing the plants inside one by one, setting them on the floor just inside the balcony doors. That task completed, he felt the soil around each plant. A bit dry. Better water 'em. After going back outside to fetch the watering can, he gave each plant a small amount of water, carefully feeling the soil. Satisfied, he put the watering can back out on the balcony. As he walked back into the apartment, his stomach growled loudly. Wonder what the Palpster's got in the kitchen, Anakin thought.
Man, how can he EAT this crap? Anakin wondered, eyeing the contents of Palpatine's kitchen cupboards with disgust. He knew that the Nubians in general had strange taste in food, but some of this stuff was just plain weird. Granola bars. Oatmeal. Melba toast. Cream of Wheat. Ugh. The refrigeration unit was no better. Lowfat yogurt. Skim milk. Fresh broccoli…. eewww! With a shudder, Anakin shut the fridge door. His stomach growled again. I have GOT to get some food.
"Thank you for calling Pizza the Hutt, will this be delivery or carry out?" the voice on the other end of the voicephone asked.
"Uh, delivery," Anakin replied, digging around his pockets to see how much money he had.
"Can I have your 'phone code, please?" Anakin almost gave his code at the Jedi Temple, then recalled that Pizza the Hutt used 'phone codes to index their customers. He gave Palpatine's 'phone code and waited while the person taking his order ran it through his computer. "OK, Mr. Palpatine," the voice said. "Would you like to pay on delivery, or do you want us to put this order on your account?" It took a second for the man's words to register in Anakin's brain. When they finally did, he broke into a huge grin and stopped digging in his pockets.
"Yeah, put it on my account," Anakin said. Hey, I'm staying here taking care of his plants, Anakin rationalized. Besides, he can spare the money.
As promised, the extra large specialty pizza with everything arrived in less than thirty minutes. Anakin stood in the middle of Palpatine's living room, inhaling the promising aroma of warm pizza. He carried it into the kitchen, planning to have a decent dinner of pizza washed down with… skim milk. Damn, that's all he has in the fridge, Anakin recalled. Glancing around the kitchen, Anakin's eyes fell on a wine rack standing against the wall. He wasn't much of a wine drinker (he preferred Guinness), but beggars couldn't be choosers; it was that or the skim milk. Anakin grabbed a bottle at random and began searching the drawers for a corkscrew.
Anakin soon learned that opening a bottle of wine wasn't as easy as it looked. He'd managed to get the foil off the top of the bottle, but the corkscrew didn't seem to want to cooperate. Having screwed it into the cork rather crookedly, Anakin tugged on it several times but to no avail. Finally, he set the wine bottle upright on the kitchen table. Holding it still with both hands, he used the Force to yank the cork out. He was very happy with himself until he poured a glass of wine and saw pieces of shattered cork floating in it. Shrugging, he took a sip of the rich red liquid. Hey, this isn't bad, he thought. He chugged the whole thing, cork and all, and poured another, then sat down and began eating his pizza.
Throwing his empty pizza carton in the garbage, he downed the remainder of his wine and burped loudly. "Pardon me!" he said, and giggled drunkenly. That wine was pretty damn good, he thought, tossing the empty bottle in the trash. I wonder if he has any more…
A piano riff blared out of Palpatine's stereo, echoing through the empty apartment. Anakin, now clad only in a white shirt, his underwear, and socks came sliding across the hardwood floor of the foyer. He was clutching a half-empty bottle of wine. He began singing along with the song:
Just take those old records off the shelf
I'll sit and listen to them by myself
Today's music ain't got the same soul
I like that old time rock and roll.
Now he was dancing around the apartment, still singing, only pausing to take sips from the wine bottle.
Don't try to take me to a disco
You'll never even get me out on the floor
In ten minutes I'll be late for the door
I like that old time rock and roll.
He was really getting into it now. He stood on the red sofa, swigging from the bottle and belting the song out at the top of his lungs.
Still like that old time rock and roll
That kind of music just soothes the soul
I reminisce about the days of old
With that old time rock and roll.
Won't go to hear them play a tango
I'd rather hear some blues or funky old soul -
Though the music had stopped, Anakin continued singing for a few more lines, before opening his eyes to see….
A rather amused Palpatine was standing in the living room, his arms folded across his chest. And standing beside Palpatine was…
"Padmé!" Anakin squeaked, crimsoning. The Queen was trying very hard to keep a straight face. A female giggle drew Anakin's attention to Sabé, who was standing behind Palpatine. Mortified, Anakin tried in vain to pull his shirt down to hide his underwear. There was a very long silence.
"Well," Palpatine said, trying unsuccessfully to sound stern and angry when he was actually on the verge of hysterical laughter. "Now we see what sort of things you get up to when you're alone."
"But… I… you… they…." Palpatine smiled.
"I arrived at the spaceport to find my trip had been canceled. Then I ran into Her Majesty and Sabé, who were arriving for a meeting tomorrow."
"I was going to go over to the Temple and surprise you, Anakin," Padmé said, giggling.
"Trust me, I'm surprised," Anakin managed. He climbed down off the sofa. "But look, Palpatine," he said, swaying a bit drunkenly, "I did take care of your petunias!" He indicated the neat row of terra cotta pots sitting in front of the patio doors.
"Yes, I see that," Palpatine murmured. Anakin followed Palpatine's gaze and did a double take. In his haste to get the plants inside, he had set the pots directly on the red carpeting. He was horrified to see that each pot was surrounded by a ring of muddy water that was slowly seeping into the carpet. He groaned.
"Oh gods, I'm sorry – " he began.
"I smell pizza," Sabé said suddenly. Anakin smiled sheepishly.
"Yeah… I… er… I sort of ordered a pizza. And then there was nothing to drink but wine…" His voice trailed off as he thought about what he'd done. Palpatine trusted me, and look how I acted. "Sorry," he muttered, hanging his head. "I'm an asshole."
"Oh, I don't know if I'd say that," Palpatine said. "Did you happen to save us any pizza?"
"No," Anakin said quietly. "I ate it all."
"Well in that case, you ARE an asshole," Palpatine told him cheerfully, giving Anakin a good-natured thump on the shoulder. Anakin's head jerked up.
"You're not mad?" he asked hopefully. Palpatine shrugged.
"There's no real damage done," he said philosophically. "The carpeting can be cleaned. Besides, witnessing Anakin Skywalker's Nearly Naked Singing Debut more than makes up for it. My only regret is not having a holovid camera to capture the moment in all its glory." Anakin blushed again. "Now," Palpatine continued, "why don't you put some pants on and we'll see about ordering some more pizza."