Disclaimer: These guys belong to George Lucas. As if there was anyone left in the universe who didn't know that.
Author's Note: This isn't a great work of art; just a little ficlet designed to explain away a minor plot hole. Remember when that little kid called Anakin "Master Skywalker" toward the end of Revenge of the Sith...? Yeah. That part.
"The Council is asking you," said Obi-Wan.
As if that made any difference.
No matter who was asking him, it was the same thing they were asking, and he simply wouldn't do it. It was sneaky, it was dishonest, and it went against everything he'd learned during his training. Anakin held his master's gaze, searching frantically for some hint of understanding.
But there was only the usual warmth in Obi-Wan's eyes, tinged with perhaps a hint of desperation. Nothing of shame, nothing of regret, nothing that even suggested that he was aware of his own hypocrisy.
Anakin drew a steadying breath. "You," he said slowly, "were the one who taught me that morals should be steady. That I shouldn't let others influence my sense of right and wrong. And aren't you trying to do exactly that?"
"Anakin, you must understand—"
"No," said Anakin, and silence fell again. Obi-Wan closed his eyes, a pained expression on his face. "No," repeated Anakin. "I won't do it."
And with those cold final words, Anakin Skywalker turned and left. He retraced his steps down the expansive hall, around corners, into and out of empty rooms, paying attention to nothing but thoughts of calm, calm, calm, until he finally grew weary and sat down.
He'd been angry – and he admitted that to himself with more than a little shame. Jedi were not supposed to feel anger. Jedi were above anger. And so he breathed, letting the tension ebb from his body until he felt composed again.
Jedi were not supposed to feel anger.
But Jedi were also not supposed to go against their own moral teachings.
Jedi were not supposed to lie.
Which is worse? Anakin thought to himself. The fault that one sees and admits, or the fault that one denies having in the first place?
"I was angry," Anakin whispered aloud, and from his words he drew strength. This was a thing that he could fix.
But the Council – how would they fix their own fatal flaw if they couldn't even admit it?
They don't need to, thought Anakin bitterly. They're Masters, and they've no one to answer to. They've no one to reprimand them.
Anakin rested his face in his hands, closing his eyes against another wave of emotion. Not anger this time, but jealousy – an emotion he quickly identified and tried to remove from his being.
Jealousy, he found, was more difficult to overcome than anger.
His senses, directed inward as they were, failed to warn him of another presence moving in his direction. Only when he heard a small noise – a faint swishing of robes – did he look up.
Standing before him, an innocently bemused expression on his face, was a young padawan. Very young. Ten, perhaps – twelve at most. Anakin could not immediately place the boy's face, though he knew they'd spoken before, if only to say a polite hello.
"Is something wrong?" said the boy. Anakin stared at him, and the boy shuffled his feet self-consciously. "Only Master Yoda has begun teaching us to sense other people's feelings, and..."
"And you sense that I'm not entirely at peace?" finished Anakin, smiling slightly despite himself.
The boy mumbled something unintelligible, nodding his head.
"It isn't anything you should worry about," said Anakin, and cast about for a diplomatic way to explain the situation. "It's the weight of responsibility, that's all."
"Oh," said the boy knowingly, nodding as though he understood all too well what that meant.
Anakin smiled, waiting patiently for the boy to leave. But after a moment's silence, the boy furrowed his brow and asked, "What sort of responsibility?"
"I've been appointed to the Jedi Council," said Anakin, trying very hard to keep his smile genuine.
The boy's eyes widened in admiration, which pleased Anakin greatly, but his next words made his smile fade altogether: "So you're a Master!"
All of his anger came back full force in that moment, and so strong was his attempt to quell it that he couldn't speak. The boy, clearly sensing that something was wrong, took a wary step backward, and Anakin knew that he must calm himself as quickly as possible.
So he tried the fastest way that he could think of. He answered, "Yes."
The boy blinked, and then smiled. "A Master," he breathed, his wariness lost as Anakin's anger vanished in a fit of false pride. "I can't wait until I can be a Master too..."
Feeling very much the benevolent superior, Anakin knelt down so that he was at eye level with the boy. "What's your name, young one?"
"Jukassa," said the boy almost shyly. "Zett Jukassa."
"I shall look forward to seeing you become a Master, Zett," said Anakin, and stood up again.
"Thank you, Master Skywalker!" said Jukassa, eyes wide in awe.
As Anakin walked away, leaving the boy in his wake, a new kind of calm came over him. It didn't matter whether or not the Council thought he was worthy. He knew his own worth, and now others would know it too, beginning with that boy.
And if any of the Masters asked him why he had lied about his rank, he had only to say that everything he knew, he'd learned from Obi-Wan Kenobi.