Chapter 1: Family Business, Part 1
Sheev Palpatine, new senator of the Chommell Sector, had an easy job. He showed up to work, admittedly slept through most of the speeches (he did have a busy nightlife after all), cast his vote when something interesting came along, and mingled with the filthy rich members of Coruscant's high society. All in all, he found it entertaining, the way he could quietly amass power while everyone else whiled away the hours in debauched revelry.
Darth Sidious, terrifying Dark Lord of the Sith, possessed a slightly more difficult task. Oh certainly, he needed to ensure the implementation of the Grand Plan, thousands of years in the making. Certainly, he ran the risk of constant exposure and death when he lingered near the obtrusive members of the Jedi Order. Even more certainly, he carried out the sometimes-absurd wishes of his eccentric Sith Master, Darth Plagueis.
Like now. He stood in his secondary apartment's kitchen deep in the LiMerge complex, located in the industrial area of Coruscant known as the Works. What he was doing might be considered Sith alchemy, in the sense that he was a Sith Lord and the mixture he was concocting struck him as highly dubious. Still, the occasion called for it, with a loud and decidedly piercing cry.
Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a streak of black and red beelining for the front door of the small apartment. Entirely too much red and black. He sighed.
"Maul, we do not leave the apartment like that," Sidious reached out with the Force and snagged his wayward apprentice, dragging him back through the door and depositing him on the floor. "We are not savage animals. Go put some clothes on."
The toddler looked up at him fiercely. "Wanna kill worms!"
He stared back down, unimpressed by the tiny glare. "There are enough duracrete slugs on Coruscant to allow you time to dress like a civilized being, Maul." He supposed he appreciated the enthusiasm his apprentice had for his training, but still: propriety must be observed. He would not have the Sith Order becoming the laughingstock of the galaxy due to one small Zabrak's distaste for clothing. I hope this is a passing phase. No one ever told me about this.
He glanced on the chronometer on the kitchen wall. The Senate session would begin before long, and he was expected to make an important declaration for Naboo's trading rights. He lowered himself to Maul's level and took a deep breath. "Go. Get. Dressed."
"Yes, Mas'er," Maul wilted and disappeared into the back bedrooms, and Sidious stood up again, pleased. Perhaps Lord Plagueis thought to drive him mad with this child-apprentice raising ploy; quite the contrary, he felt he rather had things nicely under control.
Behind him, someone chortled happily. He turned to regard his second charge, a tiny human baby with a shock of blond hair and the bluest eyes Sidious had ever seen, buckled into a restraining system at the far end of the long black table. "You find it funny?" he rumbled, moving back to the kitchen counter to finish his original job of compiling a strange mixture of vegetables and meats into the blender. He checked the recipe again doubtfully. This was healthy?
Anakin laughed again, soothed by the sight of his master preparing his breakfast. Such a happy baby, for a future Sith. Sidious worried if this were normal, if he were doing something wrong. Plagueis only smiled when his human apprentice broached such topics during their conferences by hologram: useless fool of a Muun. Why had his old master insisted that Sidious be the one to care for these younglings, when a nursey droid might better do the trick?
He remembered the day clearly, only months ago, when Plagueis had shown up late at night in his apartment in 500 Republica with a wiggling bundle of human youngling, a male with bright eyes and curious hands and a powerful glowing strength in the Force.
Suspecting something foul on his master's mind, Sidious attempted a joke. 'Not mine, I hope?'
Plagueis ignored him, staring down into the small face and the hands that twined themselves in the lower portion of his transpirator. 'It matters little where Anakin came from. But I am putting him in your charge, Lord Sidious. I must return to Aborah, soon.'
'My charge,' Sidious replied flatly, watching the child squirm in his master's long arms. Anakin… what a curious name…
'Raise him as you have been raising Maul, as a dark warrior,' Plagueis instructed. 'Do not mention the Sith or our plans until they are grown and matured as natural and formidable fighters. Then we shall see.'
'See, Master?' Sidious questioned lightly, even as Plagueis passed the infant over.
'Who shall be the ultimate extension of our will,' Plagueis said, saying nothing more except one cryptic remark as he moved to the door. 'Form the bond, Lord Sidious, and we will see.'
Already by that time, he had learned to stop second-guessing Plagueis – at least, aloud. Consequently, he now found himself sitting next to Anakin with the glop of blended food in a small bowl. "Eat it this time," he told the infant, knowing and loathing how his voice twisted with a slight pleading lilt at the end.
Anakin's bright eyes gleamed up at him as he lifted the first spoonful to the wide mouth. Anakin leaned forward. "That's it, you little gurrcat," Sidious grinned, and then threw his Force shields up when Anakin batted the spoon away with one grasping hand, sending the contents splattering across the table and himself.
Anakin laughed and giggled and cooed while Sidious counted silently back from ten. He suspected that if he applied Force Lightning, Anakin would either be dead or even more clueless than he was; either prospect was not appealing.
He tried again, but this time Anakin pressed his lips together and turned his head almost completely around to avoid the spoon. Did human anatomy even allow for that?
To his eternal shame, Sidious had once visited a self-help Holonet site for young single fathers shortly after Plagueis had first dumped the human baby into his arms. Make it a game, they had said. He looked down at the spoon and bowl, bit his lip hard to enough to make it bleed, and leaned forward for a new attempt. "Here comes the Starfighter. Zip. Zip." Obviously not his best performance, but Anakin opened his mouth and giggled, and he took the chance to slide the paste inside.
Anakin scowled at him, betrayed, and the Force trembled with a tiny wave of anger.
"Good," Sidious smirked down at him. "Very good. Use your aggressive feelings, boy."
He spoke too soon, forgetting that Anakin had very impressive aim. As the food slime dripped off the end of his nose, Sidious reflected that the boy would make an excellent fighter pilot someday, no doubt. Being the Sith he was – and a very good one at that, thank you very much – Sidious decided to do what Sith did best: he cheated. "You will eat your breakfast," he purred, waving one hand in front of the boy's eyes and watching them glaze with the Force suggestion. He could not afford to do it often or he would risk turning the boy into a vegetable, but glancing at the chronometer again, this was an emergency.
A few quick movements and most the of the nutritious slop ended up in Anakin's stomach, although an alarming amount still found its way all over the chair and baby. Sidious was just tidying up the last bits and pulling Anakin loose of his restraints when he spied Maul slinking back through the hallway.
"Maul," he said warningly, setting Anakin down on the floor, and the little bundle of black robes turned to face him in the doorframe.
"Mas'er?" Maul tried to kneel, but stumbled over his robes in the process. Sidious sighed and walked to his side, picking him up by the scruff and righting him. "I got dressed."
"Thank the Force for that," he muttered, straightening the bunched collar of Maul's shirt and brushing him off. "Now remember, you are training to become a feared killer when you are out there. It is an environment of kill or be killed. I will be most disappointed if you perish unnecessarily. Or if you return with less than your previous day's record."
Maul lowered his small, horned head. "Yes, Mas'er."
"You must be ruthless, cunning, and silent as the night."
"You must use the shadows as an extension of your will."
He paused. "And most importantly, you cannot bring home a live duracrete slug again."
Maul's lower lip trembled. "But… Mas'er!"
Sidious shook his head. "My word is final, Maul. Your last 'pet' chewed through all the wiring on my preferred speeder. I'll not have another bringing down the structural integrity of this building."
Maul sullenly nodded. "Okay."
"And return in time for your lessons with the droid. Lateness will be met with swift reprisals."
Maul's red shifted to a slight pink. "Yes, Mas'er."
"On your way, then," he lifted his chin sharply, and the Zabrak youngling vanished out the door. Sidious supposed some parents would disapprove of his sink-or-swim approach, but he was confident Maul could survive the lower levels of the Works already. He experienced a small surge of pride at the progress his student had shown. Plagueis would be pleased, indeed.
Something tapped his boot, and he glanced down. This one, on the other hand…. Anakin had crawled to him and now lay wrapped around his boot, attempting to chew on the shiny shaak leather. "'Form the bond,' he said," Sidious remarked sourly and picked the boy up, dangling him up for inspection. "Did he intend a bond of undying hatred for each other, I wonder?"
Anakin giggled and reached out two grasping hands, latching onto his prominent nose. He pulled him away with a soft huff, holding him at arms-length. "That was not put there for your amusement."
Glancing around the kitchen, still a jumble from the morning's preparations, Sidious sighed and shifted Anakin to his left hip. Ignoring the happy tugs on his once-immaculate red hair, he managed to get the room presentable again and carried Anakin into the living room where the infant pen resided. However, the moment he let go, Anakin sent up a gundark's wail loud enough to make him wince.
"Silence, you," he said sternly, and the tears rolled down Anakin's face. Uncomfortable, he reached down and offered his hand for lack of anything else, and Anakin gripped his fingers tightly and quieted with a soft hiccup. He ignored the twinge somewhere deep in his chest. "Crying is not becoming. It solves nothing, you little fool. It never does."
Anakin's grip tightened. By all Korriban, he was going to be late to his own speech. The young Sith Lord looked down at the small infant; Anakin stared up at him with glistening eyes. He should just leave him here to wail his little heart out, to learn his lesson that he could cry all he wanted and no one would ever come (because they never did), to cure him of this useless habit. Instead, he found himself summoning the Darkness to his will, forming shadows that curled around the tiny body and hugged him close, that coaxed the blue eyes shut and the little lungs into a deep sleep.
For a timeless moment, he studied the small youngling. Pulling his hand loose of the soft fingers, he straightened and moved to gather his case for the day and rearrange his robes and hair. This would not be happening again, he told himself with a sharp nod. Not again. He had work to do; the Grand Plan awaited him.
Okay, this cracky fluffy-angsty AU came about as a fic challenge/request with Brievel to write Palpatine fluff, whose own version you should definitely check out, and I don't regret it at all. :) Obviously AU, because Anakin is much closer to Maul's age than canon, and Sidious is raising them both on Coruscant instead of Mustafar. Otherwise, the time frame of events is still the same, a year after Palpatine becomes Senator. There will be a part 2, a little darker though I'll still try to work in a fairly happy ending.