Oh, that boy, that boy... yes, ladies, gentlemen, and others, the one and only Anjie Mencuri is back! And if memory serves, this is just close to the youngest we've seen him (with the possible exception of some scenes in [hl=black]Letters Never Sent[/hl])—but it's so cool how it's very recognizably the same character, with the same idiosyncratic combination of zany imagination, creative spontaneity, and not-totally-predictable Force-related second sense, if it's all right for me to describe him that way. Take those drawings of his, for example—they are downright prophetic, particularly the one of the wrinkled personage that he got after "closing his eyes and thinking." I can only imagine what the chancellor (and we know exactly who he is...) would have thought of that portrayal of himself, or if he himself knows at this point that he really will end up looking like that. (Ah, now, see what he could have learned if he hadn't mentally dismissed Anjie as "not worth the trouble"! ) We met young Anjie's mother in Letters Never Sent, and I'd been wondering when we might see his dad, so it's very interesting to meet him here. His rather awkward little "Naboo charmeur" schtick arguably makes him even more of a buffoon than Jar Jar Binks, the character regarded as the quintessential PT buffoon—who, humorously and cleverly enough, is in this case the one who puts the kybosh on Aldo's buffoonery! And as I said in the beta, given where Aldo's mind tends to be, I can imagine his consternation at Padmé's friendly pat on her colleague's back. (Which Yilda Lami would probably have a ball with too—indeed, as I recall, she already has! ) The "kids say the darndest things" dynamic here is of course hilarious, particularly in juxtaposition with the scheming sheeviness of old Palpatine. Which you have masterfully pulled off: yes, of course Palps would respond coldly and owlishly to a youngling raving about his favorite holoshow (yep, I recognize those Brave Little Banthas! ), and he would regard such a holoshow as a potential means of manipulating his followers. But this is no mere crackfic (well, heck, none of your crackfics are), and there's a dark undertone to this story that has nothing to do with Palpatine—and that in a way is even scarier. Hints of Anjie's less-than-optimal family situation keep coming through again and again, from his dad's ham-handed attempt at flirtation to the offhand comments about blondes becoming "less egg-citing." I don't think one needs a Force-related sixth sense to imagine that those family difficulties are going to take a toll on him later in life. Even the near-relentless way Anjie throws himself into his drawings (which we've seen with his creative pursuits in other stories too) seems to suggest that he views creativity as a means of escape from those difficulties. And his dad's consternation at the way his son's prattle is crimping his wooing style, so to speak, makes me wonder too if Anjie is doing some of what he does at least partially on purpose. And then, in contrast, there's Padmé being her wonderful, gracious self. Not only does she not bat an eyelash in the face of Aldo's buffoonish advances, but she also clearly does not view Anjie's presence as a style crimp on anyone. In a way, I interpret Anjie's remark about bedwetting as his way of picking up on her genuine kindness. As always, I love the way you pack both humor and character depth into even your shortest stories. Thanks so much for sharing this!