Babysitting is A Many-Splendored Thing
"No, no. It's not Coo-sant. It's Coruscant."
He pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. "Why do I even try?"
"I don't know. I don't bother anymore." The newcomer, returned from the refresher, stepped into the office with a jaunty grin, and the tiny girl let out a squeal of joy and launched herself against his sturdy legs. Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, reached down and picked his daughter up, spinning her in a circle.
"Maybe you should. She might actually be able to pronounce her own homeworld," Palpatine's dry advice went unnoticed, as usual, as Anakin dropped into one of the guest chairs and plopped Leia on his lap.
"Nah, Padme does the teaching. I do the fun stuff," Anakin laughed. "Speaking of fun stuff, Chancellor, our sixth anniversary is coming up."
He refused to read anything into Anakin's lifted eyebrow and reached for a datapad. "Congratulations."
Anakin jiggled his daughter, and she erupted into a fountain of giggles. "Thanks! You know I like to do something nice for Padme on our anniversaries."
"I'm not babysitting again, Anakin. Your attempts at subterfuge are painfully inadequate."
The long war usually shone through Skywalker's tired eyes, but not today. Today he was rejuvenated and reminded Palpatine of the fresh innocent before the war began. Padme did wonders for the boy. And also kept him annoyingly close to the Light.
Anakin's eyes gleamed with a perverse delight as he studied the politician. "But you know we don't have anyone else. Obi-Wan flatly turned me down, and if I asked Ahsoka, she's worse than they are. It'd be a steaming pile of bantha-"
"Please," Palpatine raised his hands. "There are young ears present, Anakin." And old ones. Simple expedience had kept Anakin in the ranks of the Jedi. They needed him, more than he knew. And like it or not, if the Council had expelled the Chosen One in the middle of the Clone Wars, when trillions of the galaxy's inhabitants looked to him as their personal warrior in white, well then… Usually any publicity was better than none, but not in this case.
Palpatine thought back. Anakin's marriage, leaked by the Sith Lord three years ago in one of his myriad attempts to drive Skywalker to the Dark Side, had only strengthened in the adversity of war. Palpatine was playing a long game now. Honestly, he had expected to have the boy much sooner. He had expected a far different future.
Not everything was unpleasant, though. The Republic still fawned over his leadership and ate from his hand, thanks to excellent propaganda and the slow advance of the Republican front lines. And Padme had left the Senate to tend to her children and take a less dangerous role on Naboo for the sake of her family.
Of course, imbeciles like Mon Mothma and Bail Organa still yelped about unconstitutional powers in the Senate, but as the years passed and Palpatine failed to morph into the monster they foretold, their inept squealing garnered less and less attention. Besides, on the surface level, his powers were entirely legal. Interpretation and intent belonged to the jurisdiction of the court justices, and they were firmly in his pocket.
Also on the plus side: Anakin had twins.
They burned brightly in the Force. Padme refused to give them over to the Order, and Anakin backed her one hundred percent. With Palpatine pushing the approval of the Senate, the Council had folded and not forced the issue.
Which explained why Leia was now toddling around his office and giggling up at the unique statuary. He did not require his foresight to see what was coming next. "Anakin," he rumbled, and the Jedi knight reached out with the Force and caught the hooded figure as it plunged from its plinth.
"You really need to work on your baby-proofing," Anakin said.
"This. Is. My. Office," Palpatine grated, favoring him with a rare scowl. "Not a nursery, might I remind you."
"Well, couldn't you keep them at your apartments, just for this afternoon and tonight?" Over the years, Anakin had perfected the pleading note that now infused his question. The young Jedi widened both eyes. "I'll owe you one."
"You 'owe' me two already, Anakin."
He had the brilliant idea once, of insinuating himself into the lives of the twins as a grandfatherly figure, someone that they could always turn to in times of trouble. He regretted it lately, particularly ever since the pair had reached two standard years of age. I see now why the Sith do not take children as apprentices. His patience would be legendary among the Sith, but even Darth Sidious had limits.
Anakin was still staring at him, waiting, expectant. Leia tripped over to his desk and blinked up at him.
The things he did to rule the galaxy…
A silly AU in which the Clone Wars last a little longer than 3 short years (this is set in the sixth year). I'm aiming for light-hearted, which I haven't done in ages. This is dedicated to Brievel, as this idea developed out of our conversations.
It's interesting, but I've always considered that Palpatine is similar to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in the sense of staying in power long after what was considered proper in part due to and being boosted in popularity by hardship (Great Depression) and a war (WWII).
I see this universe's Palpatine as a brilliant but hapless fellow who tries his hardest to turn Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side every chance he gets, but Anakin just blithely strides through all his attempts like a cheerful bull in a china shop and pawns his kids off on the "kindly" chancellor whenever he and Padme want to have grown-up time to themselves.
He's going to kill me. Again.