Disclaimer: Star Wars belongs to Disney and is the intellectual property of George Lucas. He created the sandbox. I'm making no money off of this and am simply destroying the sandcastles.
Disclaimer 2: "Someday" is performed by Michael Learns to Rock and was written by Jascha Richter. It is used here without permission
Characters: Captain Rex
Genre: Angst, Songfic
Era: Post Order 66 AU, Pre SW Rebels
Tie Ins: My Captain & Commander Series, specifically the "Beyond a Shadow V" Vignette where Rex manages to say goodbye to Ahsoka and gifts her with his blasters. It's not necessary to read the series to understand this fic.
Summary: When the call comes for Order 66, Rex complies, following Anakin into the Jedi temple. In the confusion, he walks away from the GAR without firing another shot as he finds he's unable to justify labeling children as traitors and murdering them.
Author's Note: Not sure where this came from, just that it's been floating about in my head since the song randomly pop up on my playlist at the end of July 2014. Song lyrics are in italics and bold
One month post Order 66
The wave of heat nearly staggered him as the secondary access opened, revealing the glowing and churning flames within.
A last look around showed no one was in the area, as promised, and his duffle hit the deck. Tossing the zipper open with a practiced flick of his wrist, the teeth parted to reveal a very distinctive pattern of white and blue plastoid. The nearly oblong helmet was withdrawn first and set gently on the ground, the distinctive blue jaig eyes on the brow almost staring accusingly - or perhaps sadly – as each piece was withdrawn from the bag.
Scarred hands caressed the lines of each plastoid piece in gratitude and apology before, one by one, each was thrown to the fire. Fires so hot they consumed the plastoid and slagged it within mere moments of it hitting the flames.
As each piece disappeared in a practical puff of smoke it was bare minutes after opening the bag that no pastoid pieces remained. A body glove followed, along with the glove and boot insoles and finally the boots and gloves themselves.
Everything went into the fire with methodical thoroughness until all that remained was the helmet.
Picking it up, he stared into the visor, seeing his reflection staring back at him, bathed in the light of the fires that would soon take it as well.
He hesitated, his fingers clenching around the rim of the helmet as he struggled with what would be a final act, the last in a long line of final acts he'd been recently forced to take. In throwing his helmet to the flames, he was giving up on everything.
On his life; his past; his brothers; everything he'd ever been and… on her.
Within the hardwired and encrypted memory banks of that helmet were every last image he'd ever been able to save about the good times… and the tracking device that would lead the Imperial Commandos straight to him.
With one last caress of the shell that had saved his life on more than one occasion, he resisted the urge to cue up the holos for one last look and undo every step he'd taken to be this free. Setting his jaw, he mentally braced himself and, with a flick of his wrist, said goodbye to the last, the most important part, of everything he'd ever known and all the memories within it.
In my search for freedom
And peace of mind
I've left the memories behind
Rex closed the door to the incinerator as the smell of burning electronics heralded the slagging of his helmet and exhaled the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding.
That was it. The last of it. Just about everything he'd had in his possession that could have identified him as a deserter had now been sold, traded or destroyed. He kept only the civvies he'd been gifted by Senator Amidala - for a covert mission he never should have accepted - and his blasters. The weapons were so heavily modified that if they'd had a tracking devices, he'd long ago removed, shorted or destroyed it.
His hands fell to his hips, caressing the butts of the blasters that had seen him through many a campaign, but not as many as the pair that they'd replaced. He turned the thought aside, knowing now wasn't the time to lament the loss of one pair, even if it had been a willing one. The thought of his blasters was inevitably followed by thoughts of whom had been gifted with them and he wasn't about to dwell on that.
It had been almost exactly a year to the day since she'd walked away from the Jedi order, from the GAR and from him.
A year to the day since she'd left them commander-less as she'd done what was necessary to follow her principles and be able to live with herself. A year since he'd been forced to move on from what they'd had, been forced to bury everything about her in the recesses of his memory to be able to focus on the here and now. To focus on the tasks at hand and worry about the things he could control instead of those that had threatened to cripple him personally.
Rex had been forced to conceal the hurt and pain that had come with her disappearance. He couldn't let anyone see just how much he'd missed her and no one, except maybe Fives, had really known just how much her absence had affected him.
Anakin's platitudes and excuses about her departure had rung hollow in his ears, having heard the real reasons directly from her lips. He couldn't blame her for walking away, as much as he'd wanted to stop her at the time.
He'd asked her to keep in touch; she hadn't.
He wasn't sure why, all he knew was that when the men inquired about her, he'd had to disappoint them every time.
It had taken a lot of effort not to seek her out after Fives had been killed. Even more after Order 66 had been called - proving Fives had been right - and his own principles had forced him to walk away, following unintentionally, but not unwillingly, in her footsteps.
A lot had happened in a year.
Want to start a new life
But it seems to be rather absurd
When I know the truth
Is that I always think of you
Collecting his significantly lighter duffle, Rex ran one hand over his chin and the day's old growth that was unfamiliar along his jaw. His hair was longer, not significantly so, but certainly longer than his familiar crew cut to be just on the shade of uncomfortable. He had bangs – and he didn't like it one bit.
Disappearing into the billions upon billons of people in the galaxy had proven more difficult for a clone than he'd anticipated and it had facilitated the need for a change in his appearance. Still blonde - a genetic wild card he wasn't about to deny, Rex found having blonde hair actually worked to his advantage. Clones were men with brown hair; everyone knew it and that's what people naturally looked for.
Using that to the fullest he could, it allowed him to disappear in situations that other clones might not have been able to. It had given him the opportunity to dispose of the only trackers he knew to be on his person or in his gear.
That it had taken him over a week to find the strength to part with it irked him - it should have been just armor, easily disposable and replaceable after all - but he'd always known it was more than that. Tossing his jaig-eyed helmet into the incinerator had been more difficult than giving Ahsoka his blasters.
And here I said I wasn't gonna think of her .
With a shake of his head, Rex exited the incinerator chamber and headed back to the surface. His duffle in hand held everything he had in the world, including the limited supply of credits he'd been able to procure as he'd been leaving the GAR.
The ship he'd appropriated, and promptly sold, had left him with a significant stash and credits enough to get false identification and a head start on disappearing. Getting rid of his kit had been hard, but credits, he was discovering, smoothed the way of just about everything. He'd have to be careful not to run out before he'd well and truly buried himself away from the reach of the Empire.
Something Ahsoka seemed to have done if her lack of contact this last year was any indication.
He pushed the thought aside with another shake of his head. Much as he could have used her council or her help - to say nothing of her company - he knew he was on his own. The Empire had a bounty out on Clones and he needed to be away before they showed up to investigate the signal that would have been sent with the termination of the dormant homing beacon.
Firmly focusing on the here and now, he turned towards the landing pad. He had a transport to catch and no time to dwell on fanciful thoughts.
Try to throw the picture out of my mind
Try to leave the memories behind
Here by the ocean
Wave's carry voices from you
One month later
Rex skipped another rock into the waves as they crashed against the shore line, wondering at his own stubbornness. He knew the rocks wouldn't skip, and yet he found himself at the shore line every day doing the same thing over and over and half expecting a different result.
That's the definition of insanity, isn't it?
Over the last months, he'd been on the run from the forces of the Galactic Empire, evading them almost two standard weeks back in a way that had granted him this reprieve. They'd not discovered his cover identity, the slicer he'd employed had been topnotch, and it had let him get away cleanly.
A lucky break if he'd ever had one; reports on the holonet about other deserters who hadn't been so lucky continued to reach him even in this remote place.
Careful to keep his holonet searching as random as possible, Rex paid close attention to any mention of the 'traitor Jedi' and anything about the Clones. What he was hearing made his heart break.
Most of his brothers, like himself, had been unable to withstand the call of order 66. It had been a blessing in disguise that Ahsoka had walked away from the army months before, for Rex was positive her own men would have turned on her the same way others had turned on their Generals. Generals whose names he recognized, whose Commanders and Captains he knew to be good men, had fallen to the troops they'd trusted.
Traitor or not, deserving or not, that kind of betrayal wasn't something Rex could condone lightly. For all the executive order had come down and been obeyed, the executive making the call hadn't been on the front lines and watched the Jedi bleed and die to defend their men and the cause.
Men who thought like he did and, in the aftermath of the order, had walked way. Deserting had become almost common in those first hours until Vader - his own former General Skywalker - had taken it upon himself to hunt down rogue Jedi and deserter Clones alike.
Rex couldn't help but wonder when his former General would show up on his doorstep and just how long he could keep that from happening.
Tossing another rock across the waves, he watched as it was swallowed by the surf, the likeness to his own situation not lost on him. He was a small piece waiting to be swallowed by the ocean. And the one thing, the one person, he could have turned to for help, was lost to him.
Ahsoka had been on his mind of late as the conflict has escalated, concerns for her safety mixed with concern for his men. Men he'd abandoned when he'd walked away, unable to see the slaughter of children, women, teenagers and other invalids - simply because they were Jedi or training to be Jedi - as anything but murder. He could have brought a few of them with him, but Rex knew for every brother he could have rescued, or stuck together with, their chances at survival would drop by half.
Instead, he and a handful of others had taken ships and scattered. Had the similar pattern of their disappearances drawn Vader's wrath? Had it drawn more attention instead of the less they'd hoped for? In the confusion following the orders, taking military grade equipment had been easy; no one, especially another clone, doubted a brother.
Here on the edge of the ocean, tossing rocks into the sea, Rex couldn't help but reflect on just how apt his passtime was. They were all stones, causing nary a ripple as they sank, under the vast tapestry of the galactic order.
Do you know the truth
I am thinking of you too
For all his thoughts were on his rogue brothers and the ones who'd chosen to stay behind, under all of it were thoughts of the young Togruta who'd left him behind, unknowingly, to deal with it all. Not just deal with, but set an example that had been easier to follow than he'd ever imagined it would be when the time had come.
He should have been angry with her. Should have been furious; hurt even that she'd left him to cope with it all without so much as a peep of support or any way of contacting her. He should have been furious she'd broken her promise to keep in touch; that she'd left him no way to find her without exposing them both to the darkness that was engulfing the galaxy.
Instead Rex was grateful.
Grateful that Vader wouldn't be able to find her because of him. Grateful that, wherever she was, she was an ex-Jedi - which would, hopefully, keep her off Vader's hit list. Grateful for every lesson she'd taught him, especially the last one.
That sometimes, no matter what you have to leave behind, starting over - starting fresh - is best because it's the only way to live with yourself.
Staring out at the ocean as it crashed against the shore, the blanket of stars overhead, he glanced into the glittering tapestry, picturing her easily in his mind's eye. The curve of her montrals, the impish tilt in her lips when she smiled and the cock her of head as if she was challenging him.
Was she thinking of him?
Rex didn't know. Part of him hoped so… and not just because he couldn't stop thinking of her.
The love we had together
Just fades away in time
And now you've got your own world
And I guess I've got mine
One year later
Rex was on the beach, lying flat on the pebbled shore, staring up at the sky as the sun sank over the horizon.
He'd long ago given up tossing stones against the current and waves, deciding that it was no use trying to fight the currents when one could simply go with them. Teaching himself to row, he'd become a fisherman - and a damn good one - so he could train himself to throw rocks with the tide. It had taken some doing, but eventually he'd been able to skip the rocks along the top of the waves, sometimes all the way to shore.
The other side of his new skills was food on his small table and a few extras to keep for the days he wasn't so lucky or to trade with the townsfolk in the village the next knoll over. He hadn't consciously chosen a life on the outskirts of society, but he'd found it suited him. It minimized his risk of discovery and would keep the potential loss of life, when Vader finally did come calling, to a minimum.
His life had settled into a routine since finding the idyllic cove he now called home.
It was a far cry from the Resolute, the only home he'd ever really known outside Kamino, and a lot less low tech. He'd taught himself to cook, mostly out of sheer necessity, trading fish for lessons in the nearby village about local flora and fauna. Learning what he could and couldn't eat had been of vital importance as he'd gone from soldier to hermit. There had been other lessons and even those who'd tried to befriend him, but Rex had forced himself to be gruff and abrupt.
He couldn't risk someone calling him friend and adding their name to Vader's casualty list when the time came. And he also couldn't, after being surrounded by thousands and thousands of men for his entire life, really live the life of a hermit. He'd found an unhappy medium that neither he nor the townsfolk were really happy - more like content - with, but it worked.
The year had also forced him to bury his memories again and build new ones as he tried to live his cover identity.
He'd let go of the thought of seeing any of his brothers again in anything but a hostile capacity; every brother who'd escaped with him had ended up on Vader's hit list and, from the reports he's found, been crossed off. He'd given up ever returning to the Army, if he'd been so inclined.
And he gave up on Ahsoka.
Rex had honestly believed he'd done so already, but the year of basic solitude and survival had forced him to be honest, brutally so, with himself. Part of him had never stopped hoping, despite her silence, for contact. Part of him had never stopped doubted her, trusting her or believing in her. They'd been through too much for him to doubt her.
Yet she'd not kept her word and all but disappeared without a trace.
Even knowing that, living it, she'd always known where to find him once she was settled, once she was ready to reestablish contact, and he'd trusted her to know that she could call on him no matter the circumstance. If it had been within his power to give her, he'd have given her anything and everything.
With her departure things hadn't been as lively; meals had been that much more bland and tasteless and even the caf had tasted off. Her smile had always lit rooms where no cheer or happiness seemed possible, her eternal optimism had made the most deadly of circumstances seem surmountable.
Yet, here on the backwater, he'd finally let it all go. He'd buried her as far back in his mind and heart as possible, the knowledge that the Imperial inquisitors hadn't found him yet, so the likelihood of Ahsoka doing so with even fewer resources, really bringing home that he would likely never see her again.
Whatever had kept her away was likely similar to what he was doing now. She'd been building a new life, just as he had, and her new life had no room for old friends.
But the passion that you planted
In the middle of my heart
Is a passion that will never stop
Despite having accepted that his fate was sealed and she would never grace his new doorstep, Rex couldn't keep himself from dreaming about her.
Nightly, he found himself reliving key battles, stolen moments, arguments, debates and planning sessions. Every touch, every comment was seared into his memory like a brand. From the moment she'd stepped into his life with her sassy attitude and back talk to Skywalker, everything they'd ever shared had become precious, more precious than he'd ever realized, and it had taken her leaving and his world collapsing in on itself for him to admit just how much.
Waking, he could control it and banish her to the depth of his memories, keeping himself busy with personal training and the tasks he set himself on a routine basis.
Yet, every memory of her seemed to come back when he was sleeping, so much so that he wasn't sleeping well and hadn't for months.
Every time he read or heard about another Jedi casualty, her image flashed behind his eyes. Only his self-discipline had prevented him from reacting outwardly, but inside his gut had clenched and his heart had, he later swore, stopped.
Logically, he knew she was no longer a Jedi, but her former Master had become Darth Vader. That alone was enough to consider searching for her, and Rex firmly believed he would have - if he'd had anything to go on; a whisper, a rumor or even a whisper or a rumor. If he'd had the barest scrap of information, he wouldn't have been able to remain on the coast, his days wasted by meaningless pursuits.
Ahsoka had been his best and closest friend while she'd been at his side and he'd have given anything - everything - to recapture that.
Despite his resolution to give up on her, part of him never would. She practically haunted him. Daily. Nightly. Hourly. He couldn't escape her and, honestly, didn't want to. If he never saw her again, she would ever live in his memories. A beacon of hope and life that nothing, he firmly believed, could extinguish it.
If his feelings were something more than he'd ever really acknowledged or understood, he was unaware of it. All he knew was that, truly alone as he was, she was his only remaining companion.
Looking back, he could honestly say she had always been a true companion. She'd accepted and supported him at his weakest, allowed him to do the same at hers, and he could honestly say his relationship with her had ever been unique, right from the start. It had been unlike any relationship he'd ever shared with any of his brothers and had taught him things he'd never expected to learn.
It was those lessons, coupled with his strong sense of right and wrong, that gave him the strength to continue onwards and believe there had to be more to everything he was seeing and doing.
Staring at the stars, Rex smiled faintly. Someday, Ahsoka, he promised her softly, not entirely sure just what he was promising but doing it anyway. Someday.
Together we will be, baby
I will take and you will take your time
Five years later
It was the middle of the night when his door was kicked in, Rex's highly developed senses spurring him into action and dropping him to the floor even as his hands had grabbed his blasters from their spot beneath his pillow and, as he hit the floor, under the bed. Blaster bolts slammed into the wall just above the edge of the bunk as he hit the ground and would have killed him if he hadn't reacted.
Shots were off before he was conscious of having pulled the triggers, dropping two white armored figures visible from the open doorway to his room. The two following hit the deck the same way, smoking holes in their chest and head gear even as a hail of blaster bolts tore through the doorway behind them to chew into the walls, seemingly at random.
Below the line of their shots, Rex picked his next targets, scanning for the now familiar visage that was the mask his former General had adopted. Darth Vader, however, was nowhere to be seen. A part of him, a very small part couldn't help but feel insulted even as he downed another pair of troopers.
The familiar clinks of grenades hitting the ground had Rex reacting in an instant.
Rolling, he gained his feet and in two steps had his arms raised and protecting his face as he crashed through the viewport from his bedroom as the explosion hit. The shockwave hit him as he was arcing out of the window, tossing him further than he'd intended. Only a conscious thought kept his hold on his blasters as the heat of the shockwave seared his skin and raised blisters on his back.
The jump was long as he arced out of the pile of slag that had once been his home and down the cliff towards the water. An idle thought as he neared the water, flipping his body around to strike feet first, had him thankful he'd taken the time to improve the waterproofing on his blasters.
Bracing himself for the impact, he crossed his arms over his chest and took a deep breath.
Only the impact never came.
His head shot up as the familiar grip of the Force closing about his body, a sensation he'd not felt in over half a decade, registered. It was at about the same time as the muffled sound of a stealth exhaust vent on some kind of repulsor vehicle hit his ears.
The grip on him lasted for barely seconds as the ship slid expertly underneath him and he was dropped to the deck, the ship speeding away from the Imperial attack and disappearing from view as quickly as it had come.
Not having found his footing, Rex rolled, fully expecting to have the blasters torn from his grip at any moment, Vader's helmeted visage flashing in his mind's eye. Captured but not about to go down without a fight, Rex angled himself as he slid to accept the impact of the rear retention wall with both feet. Using the momentum, he came up on one knee, blasters at the ready, his fingers on the triggers as he spun to face the front of the vehicle, determined to take as many of them with him as he could.
What he found when the sight registered wasn't what he expected and Rex just barely managed to toss the barrels of his blasters out wide to shoot over her sienna shoulders.
We'll wait for our fate
'cause' nobody owns us baby
We can shake we can shake the rock
Ahsoka's smile was exactly as he remembered it, both waking and in his dreams, and his first instinct was to question her appearance. She beat him to the punch as he made to open his mouth, and his arms were suddenly filled with one firm and supple body of the woman, the girl he'd once trained, had become.
His blasters hit the deck with a clang and slid to a stop next to his feet, but they were promptly forgotten as her arms wrapped around him with enough force to drive the air partially from his lungs.
Her name tripped off his lips unbidden and he felt her laugh.
"It wasn't the welcome I was expecting, Rex," her voice was huskier than he remembered, but still held the same kind of life and light that echoed in his dreams, "but I think it'll do."
Belatedly, his arms wrapped around her, pulling her ever closer as he drew in her scent, filling his senses with the reality of her. One hand slid down her spine, touching her, committing her to sensory memory in the event this proved another waking dream.
Never, though, had he imagined her quite so well-endowed and pushing almost uncomfortably against his chest; nor had he imagined her quite so muscular. So much so that her grip was tight, almost bruising, as her hands slid along the bare skin of his back. Her fingers curled and he winced as they traced across newly raised blisters, but Rex wouldn't have told her to loosen her grip for anything.
Her name passed his lips again, a breath of a whisper, and he practically crushed her close as he struggled to come to terms with the reality of the situation. He'd never really expected to see her again and, after more than a half dozen years, had almost begun to convince himself it was true.
"I'm real," she assured him softly, her voice almost lost to the hum of the repulsors. Pulling back, she looked into his eyes. Her face had changed, he belatedly realized; her montrals and lekku were longer and the chubbiness of her youth had refined with the years into an almost sleek litheness. "I've been searching for you a long time Rex."
"Searching for me?"
Her nod had him giving her another skeptical look.
"I'm glad we found you in time."
She eased back further and turned to look over her shoulder and it was only then that Rex realized she wasn't alone. He should have, he knew, but her sudden appearance, sudden presence, in his arms had thrown him far more than the Imperial attack on his home.
Beyond her were familiar faces, ones that made his eyes open wide. Was that… Jesse at the helm of the craft with Kix at his side as co-pilot? They were fully absorbed in their tasks, the craft zipping back and forth in a pattern as they evaded whatever pursuit the Imperials had mounted. Rex looked back to her for confirmation and she nodded. "They're real. As real as me; as real as you."
"I thought they were dead. I thought all of you were dead."
"Give me some credit, Rexster," she returned dryly, and it was as if the years melted away with her comment; as if they'd never been apart, "I may be an ex-Jedi, but just because I left the order and the Army doesn't mean I forgot any of the lessons I was ever taught." Her hand suddenly lifted to his cheek and she rubbed her palm against the perpetual stubble he kept on his jaw. "I like the beard. Makes you look… scruffy."
Ahsoka nodded and grinned, the impish tilt still the same one he remembered for all the refinement in her features. "It matches the hermit hair."
He stared at her for a moment and, exhaling, finally winced as the adrenaline was ebbing from his system and the extent of his burns began to make themselves known. That and the fact he was holding her while dressed in nothing but his sleep shorts. He eased his grip on her, knowing he'd have to get his injuries tended to soon, but unable to ask the question that was the most pressing on his mind. And it wasn't how she'd been or what she'd been doing; it turned out, he was simply more selfish than that. "How'd you find me?"
"When we got the intel they were coming for you, I couldn't believe it. You've been so close…" she shook her head, the smile on her lips almost shy. "We have a lot to talk about."
"It's been a few years."
"It feels like a lifetime." She tilted her forehead to his unexpectedly. "I've missed you Rex."
His grip tightened on her in response for a moment as Rex found he was unable to find the words to express just how much he'd missed her… but not. She'd been with him as such a constant companion in his dreams, he felt as if he'd seen her both yesterday but not in years.
They were silent for a few moments before Ahsoka pulled back, her hands still on his shoulders, but she moved just far enough he could see her. She was dressed in leggings and a tunic, not unlike his civvies, her shirt reminiscent of the top of her last battle dress and - his lips kicked into a half smile - his blasters on her hips. Before, when she'd accepted them, she'd seemed awkward with them. Now, just looking at her, Rex got the feeling she not only wore them, but knew how to use them with deadly precision.
He was proud of her; she'd taken his gift and made them hers. "Nice blasters."
"They were a gift," she retorted a touch cheekily, "from a friend long ago."
"Quite the gift."
"They've looked after me well enough, just like I've looked after them. Real energy hogs on powerpacks, though."
He chuckled. "They are at that. Thanks for the rescue."
"I think it was my turn," she returned sassily, "I mean, the last time anything like this happened, I think you bailed me out; it's only fair. And," she cocked her head, considering him, "I have an ulterior motive."
"Do you need one?"
"Like I said, I've been searching for you a long time, Rex, but it's not just because I've missed you. I have a proposition for you, if you'll hear me out."
"You need to ask?"
"It's been a long time."
"Not that long." Rex's gaze dropped pointedly to where her hands were still on his skin, their knees touching, their bodies swaying and having counterbalanced the side to side of the repulsor craft together without conscious thought. No matter how much time had passed, he'd instinctively turned to her body's motions and, if he wasn't mistaken, she'd tuned to his. "What kind of proposition?"
Ahsoka straightened and this time her expression was serious. Her hands slid from his shoulders and down to his forearms, stopping at his hands as she grasped them firmly. She gave him a look and then, to his surprise, her expression turned almost sly.
It wasn't a look he'd seen very often, but it was one he'd learned a long time ago to associate with Ahsoka about to voice a suggestion or recommendation he'd follow no matter how ridiculous. Before her thoughts even formed into words, Rex's mind was made up.
"Have you heard of a movement called the Alliance, Rex?"
Practically living under a rock the last few years, he hadn't, but he wasn't about to let that stop him. He'd lost her once to circumstance and time and, no matter what ridiculous thing she suggested, he wasn't about to lose her again now that they were back together. "I've been out of touch," his response was dry. Flashing her a half smile, it felt as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders when her eyes cleared as he continued. "Whatever it is, it can't be worse than the Imperial Army."
"Better," she wheedled, eyes sparkling. "We're working towards taking them down."
He didn't have to even think about it and gave her his answer in a heartbeat. "Count me in."