Fandom: Star Wars
Characters: Guess who! (I can't tell you, you just have to read)
Prompt: swficchallenge's 2010-10: Relatives (this was a make-up week where we were allowed to post responses to previous challenges). Originally posted here.
Word Count: 1600
Summary: A sorta fairytale, to steal from Tori Amos. (Hence, the non-SW icon)
Author's Notes: I wanted to do a lot more with this, but I fail at epically long pieces. I might go back to it later and extract some things.
In a quiet suburb of Theed, capital city of the beautiful planet Naboo, there lived a young human family of three. To the common eye, there was nothing extraordinary about them: the father worked in the city for a modest income, the mother left her job to raise their infant son.
While working in the public relations department of the Senator's office, the young man met and befriended a charming colleague named Rubal. He enjoyed Rubal's company so much that one day, he invited him home for supper. His family took an immediate liking to Rubal with his infectious smile and his natural ease with the baby. Rubal was single, and he had confided that it was lonely and depressing going home to a dark, lifeless flat, so sharing the evening meal became a regular occurrence. They even taught the baby to call him "Uncle Ru."
By some incredible stroke of luck, the father soon got promoted to a senior aide position he hadn't even realized was available, and that he wasn't nearly as qualified for as other aides -- Rubal included. But Rubal wasn't resentful . He was genuinely thrilled for his friend's good fortune.
The new position required frequent travels to Coruscant, and the father worried about being away from home. Rubal's lease was expiring, and due to the large increase to his rent for renewal, he was looking for a cheaper place to live. The couple invited him to come live with them, as it was beneficial to both parties. The father felt better about his business trips with Rubal around at home to help out.
The baby grew into a toddler, and he absolutely adored his Uncle Ru. Unlike his mommy and daddy, Uncle Ru was never too busy to play with him or indulge one of his whims. The little boy wasn't allowed to have candy very often, but Rubal would sneak some to him with the understanding that it was their secret. The child was smart; he knew that telling would mean no more goodies.
Oftentimes on Rubal's day off and while the father was away, the mother would run out to do a quick errand, but then get an inexplicable urge to stay out shopping for the entire day. Rubal was always supportive of such excursions and he welcomed the chance to bond with his "nephew." Once the boy proved he could keep the candy a secret from his parents, Rubal entrusted him with bigger secrets. Like the exciting toys in Rubal's treasure box... and the fact that Rubal could talk to him without making a sound. Rubal promised to teach him about such things -- only when Mommy and Daddy weren't home, of course. It was all a secret, because they wouldn't understand and wouldn't approve. Just like the candy.
The boy soon learned that he was special in a way that his parents were not. He could connect to this magnificent thing called "the Force," which is why he sometimes knew things were going to happen just before they did, and how he could move things without touching them. It's also how Rubal could communicate with him wordlessly in ways he didn't yet understand. Rubal advised him to keep this a secret too, because if his parents found out he was different, they'd have to send him far away to some temple and he'd never see any of them ever again. The truth of this was confirmed by a HoloNet news feature on the Jedi, after which his mother remarked how thankful she was that he wasn't one of them.
Later, the boy asked Rubal more about the Jedi. The laser swords he'd seen on the HoloNet looked like fun toys. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad leaving home if he got to use one of those... but then Rubal said he could teach him how to use one right here at home!
In secret, of course.
Rubal helped him keep his entire presence a secret, at least as far as beings like the Jedi were concerned. He said it was important that no one be able to sense his Force abilities, because if they did, they'd take him away.
By the time the little boy started school, he had so many secrets that he was quite adept at lying to his parents. It was a skill he carried with him to the classroom. His special abilities also made him feel superior to the other children, and he didn't make friends very easily. This didn't bother him; why should he want playmates his own age when the most interesting, most fun, most awesome playmate ever lived under his own roof? Rubal always encouraged the boy to tell him of his exploits at school. If he didn't like someone, if someone was mean to him... it was Rubal he told, because Rubal had the greatest ideas for retaliation. Rubal also taught him how to 'persuade' his teachers to give him higher marks on his assignments. The child saw no harm in any of this; his parents were thrilled with how well he was doing in school, and as Rubal taught him, the ends always justified the means. He didn't quite understand that concept entirely, he just knew things always worked out well for him, academically and socially. His peers learned to fear him, and they didn't even understand why, since he never gave any outward indications of having special power.
Sometimes at supper, his mother would marvel at how well he'd done on an assignment he'd been struggling with, and he would say it was thanks to Rubal's tutoring. Uncle Ru would wink at him, and they'd share a conspiratorial smile over such little deceptions. The boy would test his parents sometimes by asking hypothetical questions (is it okay to copy someone else's work instead of doing it yourself? what should you do if someone pushes you on the playground?), and they always answered the way Rubal had predicted they would. Rubal's private solutions to such queries always appealed to him more, and those were the methods he chose to employ, but he also learned the valuable lesson of how he needed to present himself to his parents in order to please them.
Rubal was the only one with whom he could be his true self, as there were no secrets between them, and Rubal was the one he idolized since it was clear he knew so much more than his parents did.
The mother and father began to have misgivings about their living situation. Rubal was a blessing to them in some ways, but it grated on them that their son preferred his company to theirs, and that their friend seemed to have more of a parental role in his life than they did. They knew there was something different about their child, but they couldn't isolate what it was... it just seemed connected to Rubal somehow. Why didn't the boy bring classmates over to play? And why was this nice single man not looking for a mate of his own to settle down with? Why did he want to spend so much time with their son?
Attempts to talk to their son about his relationship with Rubal were always met with hostility and defensiveness. They managed to determine to their satisfaction that he wasn't being abused in some way, but there was something unhealthy going on, and they agreed it needed to stop. Maybe if Rubal would just spend a little more time away from home...
To their relief, Rubal was gracious and accommodating as always. He conceded that he needed to get out more, and that they needed more time alone with their son.
It was right around this time that the family deaths started occurring. Parents, aunts and uncles, siblings... all mysteriously falling ill with assorted ailments or suffering freak accidents, and all within a few standard months of each other. Given how busy the mother and father were dealing with it all, not to mention grieving these losses, they agreed it was a good thing they hadn't asked Rubal to move out. They couldn't imagine getting through all of this without him.
The little boy was eight years old, and these were his first personal experiences with death. He didn't fully grasp the concept, but he knew it caused his parents deep pain (he could feel it) and this upset him more than the actual deaths. Uncle Ru was apart from that. He was still normal, and he answered the boy's questions without bursting into tears.
And so he insisted on riding with Rubal to his grandmother's funeral. He'd be riding home with his parents anyway since Rubal had to go to work right after, he reasoned. They were too weary to argue.
But the boy didn't ride home with them, and none of them attended the funeral....for seemingly out of nowhere, an airbus slammed into the parents' speeder, killing both of them instantly.
It was only natural that Rubal take custody of the child, who had no known living relatives and already regarded him as an uncle. Except he was instructed not to call him 'Uncle' anymore; from this day forward, the boy would call him 'Master.' And 'Master' wasn't nearly as kind and fun as 'Uncle Ru' had been. For this was the beginning of his true education, in which anger and pain and hatred would be cultivated.
The name of the little boy is irrelevant, as it was legally changed before he began his career. The galaxy would come to know him as Palpatine.
"Tell me what you regard as your greatest strength, so I will know how best to undermine you; tell me of your greatest fear, so I will know which I must force you to face; tell me what you cherish most, so I will know what to take from you; and tell me what you crave, so that I might deny you." ~ Darth Plagueis