Title: "Labor of Love"
Fandom: Star Wars
Prompt: swficchallenge's #2010-02 -- Forgiveness. Also using for fanfic50's #43 - Conspire
Word Count: 1179
Summary: Palpatine has a surprise for Anakin this Valentine's Day ♥
Author's Notes: I hated this as soon as I posted it to the comm and then scampered off to read ansketil_rose's version of 'Palpakin fluff.' Funny how that happens. But I wrote it so I'm archiving it. And no one from fanfic50 reads this shit anyway.
Anakin waited impatiently in the lush dining room of the Chancellor’s apartments. Their time together was short enough as it was without Palpatine faffing about in the kitchen. He would have gone in after the older man had he not been given explicit instructions to wait in this room.
After an eternity, Palpatine’s back appeared in the doorway. He was apparently carrying something he didn’t want Anakin to see. “Are you seated? You need to sit and close your eyes. No peeking.”
Anakin obediently sat in the chair at the head of the table and closed his eyes. Wellllll… nearly closed them. He could look through his lashes without Palpatine noticing. As soon as the other man had deposited his hidden treasure in front of him, though, his eyes flew open. Before him was the most beautiful cake Anakin had ever seen! “Force! This thing looks too pretty to eat!” he exclaimed as the Chancellor sank into the closest chair. A serving droid neatly laid out dessert place settings on Anakin’s other side and hovered there, awaiting its master’s word to slice into the exquisite confection.
“Oh, you had better eat it,” said Palpatine. “I’d hate to think of my meticulous labor going to waste.”
“Right.” Anakin snorted. “Which bakery did you get this from?”
Palpatine grinned. “It’s from the ‘bakery’ of yours truly. I made it for you.”
Anakin laughed. “No, really. Is it imported?”
Palpatine laughed with him. “Why do you not believe me? I said I made it for you. Are you calling me a liar?”
Anakin’s jaw dropped. “No offense, but…um… it’s too pretty for you to have… I mean… since when do you bake?!”
“I’m a man of many hidden talents,” Palpatine informed him sweetly.
“I’ll say! This is like… perfect.” Anakin continued to stare at the cake in disbelief.
“It’s not, actually, see?” Palpatine rotated the cake platter to show Anakin a smushed white rose. “I do make mistakes.”
Anakin scooped the defective icing off with two fingers and brought it to his lips. “Mmmmm, no mistake, ‘s yummy!”
Palpatine beamed at him. “I’m so pleased that you like it. Do you remember the remark you made somewhat recently about everything on this planet feeling artificial…manufactured? It was then I decided I wanted to give you something home-made for Valentine’s Day. You must tire of all the trinkets I bestow upon you--”
“No—“ But the Chancellor silenced Anakin’s protest with a stern look and a wave of his hand.
“—but they’re just one means I have to express my love for you. An overused means, perhaps. This… baking business… it’s an avenue I hadn’t explored yet: toiling away in the kitchen as a labor of love.”
“You’re so corny,” Anakin said fondly. “But I love you anyway.” He leaned forward to kiss Palpatine softly.
“I love you, dear boy. Shall we?” Palpatine motioned for the droid to serve the cake while Anakin’s greedy fingers stole another rose.
They exchanged sweet bites of cake and even sweeter kisses – and then Anakin noticed what was missing. “We need bluemilk! I know you have some – I’ll get it!”
“No, Anakin! Allow the droid—"
But this time Anakin wouldn’t let Palpatine have his way. “It’s the least I can do after all you’ve done for me!” Before Palpatine could say another word, Anakin had bounded down the corridor and into the enormous kitchen.
He could see why Palpatine hadn’t wanted him to come in here: the place was a disaster! The countertops and floor were spattered with various shades of pink frosting, along with drops of red food coloring; bowls and assorted decorating paraphernalia also littered the surfaces. Anakin surveyed the mess in amusement.
“Come, Anakin, sit down…” The older man had caught up to him.
Anakin turned to face Palpatine with a grin. “Now I see why you didn’t want me to come in here! It’s okay, though, I’ve seen worse m…” Anakin’s voice trailed off as he spied a box on another counter. A cake box. What the…? Palpatine followed his gaze and tried to block his path but Anakin pushed past him to examine it.
The pink box was empty, save for some remnants of frosting the same color as the cake’s. It was obvious where the cake in the other room had come from.
Anakin furrowed his brow. “I don’t understand… if you bought the cake then why all the mess?”
Palpatine sighed. “I tried, Anakin. I truly did. When it became defective beyond repair, I had no choice.”
“You looked me right in the eye and lied to me,” Anakin said, more incredulous than angry.
“I apologize for my deception, sweetheart,” said Palpatine earnestly. “I simply wanted to give you something I hadn’t yet. Something I slaved over for you. I did work so hard that I… I believe I rather convinced myself that the beautiful cake was my creation… I wanted everything to be perfect for you. You deserve nothing less than the best. It pained me to tarnish the one rose but I thought if it was too perfect you might not believe... ah well. No matter. I did lie to you, but only so I could present you with something worthy of you that also fulfilled your wishes. Can you ever forgive me?”
Palpatine’s eyes were shiny with – tears? No, Chancellor Palpatine didn’t cry! He sounded so sorry, and so sincere… it was impossible for Anakin to be angry with him. Love. That’s what he saw in those sparkling blue eyes. Anakin wrapped his arms around Palpatine and kissed his nose. “You’ll have to earn my forgiveness.”
“Name your terms,” said Palpatine with a relieved smile.
“I want to see the original cake. The one you made.”
Palpatine slipped away from him to open a trash compactor drawer. Inside was a lopsided, broken, quite pathetic-looking cake with large portions of frosting missing in various places. Not bad for a cake in the trash, but given what the Chancellor had admitted, Anakin suspected that most of the damage had been sustained prior to being deposited in this drawer. The top sported shiny goo that reminded Anakin vaguely of writing. “Is that an ‘A’? Were you writing my name on here?”
“It was meant to say ‘I love you Anakin,’” confessed Palpatine quietly.
“Aww! That’s so sweet!” Without further ado, Anakin grabbed a piece off the top and stuffed it in his mouth. The look of horror on Palpatine’s face nearly made him spit it out in laughter, but instead he chewed. Tasted. Evaluated. The cake was far too dry, and the frosting was so runny it dripped off Anakin’s hand like water. Everything about it was wrong, from a technical standpoint – the texture, the flavor, the visual appeal… but when he thought about all the trouble Palpatine had gone to, none of those things mattered. Palpatine was staring at him with a mixture of disgust and apprehension -- and hope. Anakin swallowed, wiped his mouth with his sleeve, and declared, “Best cake I ever had!”