Disclaimer: George Lucas owns Star Wars. I am not making any profit from this work of fanfiction.
A/N: Sequel to "And Let's Begin," another installment in my "Of Lightbulbs and Sketching" series of Palpakin ficlets. This one is particularly short.
"Anakin!" the Supreme Chancellor said, spreading his arms wide in welcome as he opened the door. Somehow, Anakin would have expected him to have an assistant or a protocol droid opening the door; but then, these nights of sketching were some of his few precious moments of privacy, away from the watching eyes of the Republic he served, so perhaps he did not want to spoil them with even anything so simple as a droid to open the door.
It's none of my business, Anakin reminded himself.
He bowed. "It's good to see you again, Supreme Chancellor."
"And you, my dear boy," the Chancellor said, slapping him on the shoulder. "I was so terribly disappointed when you were called away before our last meeting. Can you talk about the mission?"
Anakin blinked. "I - well, of course, sir. The Jedi have no secrets from the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic."
His mentor smiled. "But can you tell Palpatine, my boy? Tonight I don't want to be the Supreme Chancellor, for just a few hours."
Oh. Of course. Jedi never took off their duty as Jedi; it was a lifestyle, a calling, a destiny. Sometimes Anakin forgot that career politicians, even those who served the Republic diligently, like Palpatine - and Padmé, he was sure, even though he hadn't seen her in so long - had private lives of their own, moments when they were not on duty. But if Palpatine wanted to forget the weight of his many responsibilities for a while, who was Anakin to deny him?
"Of course, sir. I - what should I call you?"
"I don't suppose ... do you feel you could call me Master, my boy?"
Anakin felt heat rise in his cheeks, unwillingly, the product of too many memories of the word master. It meant so many things, to him especially, more than to other Jedi: it meant Gardulla and Watto and beatings and being owned and never being treated like a person by the free beings around you. It meant Obi-Wan and the Jedi and safety and a chance to fulfill his potential. It meant hate and oppression and freedom and confusion and -
"It's an odd little vanity of mine, I suppose, but on Naboo the great artists were sometimes called masters, and I would so like to pretend, just for tonight ..." Palpatine's voice trailed off. "Never mind, Anakin, it's not important. I can see that it makes you uncomfortable. I shouldn't have asked. After all, you are already improving my artistic experience immeasurably by posing."
"No," Anakin said. "I'll do it."
"Are you quite certain, my boy? I don't want to make you feel -"
"I'm certain," Anakin said. "Master."