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: "Used To" belongs to CHRISTOPHER DAUGHTRY;ZACHARY DAVID MALOY;HOWARD BENSON
Title: Used To
Characters: Ahsoka Tano, Captain Rex
Genre: Angst, Songfic, Stand alone
Era: TCW Post Season 5 into early Season 6.
Summary: After Ahsoka's departure, things just aren't the same
Author's Note: Not sure where this came from, just that it's been floating about in my head since the song randomly poped up on my playlist mid-June 2014. This is only loosely [barely] tied into the Captain & Commander fics I've written; it deals almost strictly with events seen 'on screen' in the TV show.
You used to talk to me like I was the only one around
You used to lean on me, the only other choice was falling down
You used to walk with me like we had no where we needed to go
Nice and slow, to no place in particular
Rex looked out across the marshalling yard from the cargo hatch entrance as Torrent Company was loading the transport, preparing for their next engagement. Their reassignment had them being deployed to the front lines with the rest of the 501st for a joint mission with a pair of Jedi that Rex and his company had yet to work with.
Going over the datapad that held the details of the operations they were embarking on, his eyes scanned the parameters of the mission. He managed to read a few paragraphs before his attention drifted. The words blurred together and Rex frowned, forced to mentally refocus. He managed to get through another series of directives before his attention drifted again.
Focus he admonished himself sternly. Distraction could get him killed if he wasn't careful. Of course, he knew that here, on Coruscant, they were relatively safe, barring the odd detention centre situation.
Rex sharply cut off his train of thought, but it was too late. Thinking about the detention centre brought back the memory of watching events beyond his control unfold. Events that had cost him his best friend and most trusted advisor at a time when the war was becoming more convoluted and felt farther from over than it ever had.
His distraction, he knew, was not so much a distraction of something, but a lack thereof. There were no questions about General Skywalker's plan. No sprightly confident, yet cheeky, intelligent debate over the best deployment options, who would take point or alternative avenues of attack. There was no running commentary about the Jedi they were being assigned to work with or enthusiasm for him to tune out or tolerate good naturedly.
There was nothing.
Just the sound of his brothers preparing the transports for the trip back to the Resolute, the familiar sound of hundreds of boots on deck plating as they marched and worked in unison and the murmur of a voice that was eerily similar to his own, yet distinctive to each of them in their own way.
It could have been a clamor or complete silence for all it mattered. When had he gotten used to the chatter and come to count on it as a part of his deployment routine? Probably, he reflected absently as he scanned the datapad again, about the same time the General got used to the idea of having an apprentice.
The image of said apprentice blossomed in his mind and a growl passed his lips, his expression darkening as he crossed his arms over his chest, deliberately and savagely banishing the image. She hadn't been bothered to say goodbye and so Rex believed he shouldn't be sparring her a single thought.
"Keep looking like that and the men will start to think this is a suicide mission."
He didn't look over at the ARC and instead kept his gaze on the last of the equipment being loaded to the transports, the datapad was all but forgotten in his fingertips as he let his arms drop to his sides. Rex's gaze scanned the yard, part of him still expecting to see the confident, youthful figure of his Commander striding among the men. In situations like this, she'd always be lending a hand where it really wasn't needed, but was appreciated, joking and teasing, keeping the men's spirits up.
"She's not there, Rex."
If he'd thought it would have done any good, Rex would have denied looking for her. A glance at Fives, however, showed him how futile it would be, only to have it reinforced when Fives continued, preventing his need to speak.
"I would know; I've been looking for her all morning."
They were silent for a few moments as they looked out across the yard, the equipment disappearing into the transports. It was Fives who again broke the silence several minutes later as Rex was tucking his as of yet unfinished reading into his belt.
"You'll get used to it."
"The quiet," Fives leaned his shoulder against the wall to his left, one hand cocked lightly at his belt, his fingers splayed against his hip as he kept his gaze on the men and not Rex. "Most Companies don't have Commanders who ask so many questions."
Rex wasn't about to argue, but it also wasn't a subject he was willing to talk about yet. Ahsoka's departure, without so much as a word to any of them except her Master, was a wound that hadn't yet begun to heal.
Three years ago, she'd come whirling into the company, a ball of energy and enthusiasm with so little sense that it had nearly gotten her killed.
Time has turned her his way, driving her to seek his council. First, because she'd had to when her Master had foisted her off on him, then, as the days and weeks had passed, she'd come to him of her own accord. Not because she'd had to, but because she'd wanted to.
Their discussions had revolved primarily around their work until a friendship had unknowingly begun to grow. That friendship had tied them together in a way he wasn't tied to any of his men. She'd come to him with her problems, both professional and personal, questions she could never ask her Master. Ahsoka had been refreshing and genuine, honest and innocent in ways no one in his world had ever been before. She'd required that he stretch the boundaries of his intellect and comfort zone, testing him in ways that he'd never considered possible before leaving Kamino.
Ahsoka had leaned on him in a way she hadn't leaned on anyone else, not even her Master, and it had made them a team. A team that would have walked together into the fire - or into it to save the other - or simply walked side by a side towards whatever the future held.
It hadn't mattered if they were in a fire fight or simply enjoying a rare day where they'd been able to relax, her company had always been welcome. More than welcome.
Welcome to the point that it felt downright unnatural for her not to be here.
Not that she'd never been with him at the start of a mission over the years, but this was different. Different in the way that before, he'd always known wherever she'd gone - by choice or not - she'd return from it; he's always known she was strong and smart enough to face whatever tests were put to her.
Now… now he didn't know where she'd gone, what she was doing or who she was with. He didn't know how she was doing, though he could give a better than average educated guess, and all it did was make him feel… hollow. And guilty. Guilty that he couldn't be there for her, despite the fact she'd made that choice without consulting or informing him.
The loading was almost done, the last of the men moving into the transport as Rex and Fives stood as silent sentries, each lost to their own thoughts. Rex's gaze continued to scan reflexively for the striped montrals he knew weren't there but which he couldn't help but search for. It was a search he'd have extended beyond the expanse of the marshalling yard had he'd been able to.
If anyone had asked him before she'd been framed for the Jedi Temple bombing if Ahsoka was capable of simply walking away without so much as a goodbye, he'd have sworn on everything he knew, on everything he was, that it would have been impossible.
Had he died before the Temple incident, he would have died knowing she would always have his back; that she would always be there. That she would never have walked away and, if she had, it would never have been without a word. It would have-
A hand landed on his shoulder.
Pulled from his thoughts, he stiffened, turning his head to look at Fives as he raised an eyebrow in inquiry.
Fives nodded to the marshalling yard and Rex followed his gaze, blinking once as he saw it was empty, ramps already lifting to seal the equipment and men inside. Covering his surprise, Rex pulled his helmet from his belt, and turned as the ramp he was standing at the top of began to retract.
He was pulled up short when Fives' didn't release his shoulder and then taken aback by Fives' serious expression. Not that Fives wasn't serious, but there was a light in his brother's eyes that Rex didn't see very often. He ignored it and turned his attention to the things of which he had some control. "Struts up in five, Fives."
There was no response as his brother simply looked at him. Then, as the ramp went to close, casting them both in shadow, Fives spoke. "I'm sure you'll see her again, Rex."
Staring at Fives, Rex deliberately put Ahsoka out of his mind and forced himself to ignore the comment. Dealing strictly with the task at hand, he shrugged off Fives' hand and turned on his heel to go find his launch seat. He had no time for distractions.
"We have a job to do."
I used to reach for you when I got lost along the way
I used to listen, you always had the just right thing to say
I used to follow you, never really cared where we would go
Fast or slow, to anywhere at all
Fives' death weighed heavily on Rex, heavier than any of the other deaths of his brothers that had happened before or since, leaving a near crushing sensation behind in his chest as Fives' body was carried away.
And so the last of the Dominos fall.
The morbid part of his sense of humor wondered if it had simply been fate that, with the name of their squad, they'd all been destined to die. Dominos, he'd learned, was a backwater game where they fell one after another when stacked in a line. Perhaps it had simply been a matter of time before all of them had succumbed to the war and its brutality. In thinking like that, his mind trailed back to Umbara and the other major conflicts that Fives had seen with and without him, and Rex could feel nothing but the injustice of it.
Numbness settled in, as it sometimes did after the loss of a brother that was closer to him than others, and Rex functioned almost strictly on auto pilot.
Fives would never again call him on his distraction; never again be the voice of reason, reality and righteousness.
A strange thing to think for those who had known him as little more than a no nonsense ARC trooper, but Rex had known him better. He'd known Fives as a shiny, on his first mission, and he'd watched him earn the right to be an ARC trooper. He'd watched Fives loose his closest brother and still persevere, maintaining his independence through hardships that had almost cost Rex his own.
That Fives had been killed by other Clones when he'd so earnestly been trying to make a point, one that made no sense to Rex, but one that he couldn't discount - not with the lengths Fives had gone to tell them. Still, the senseless death had left him shocked in ways the deaths of few other brothers could have.
Time passed and when he was next consciously aware of his surroundings, Rex found himself somewhere he hadn't expected to be, but wasn't surprised. He was at the door to her quarters; quarters that hadn't had an occupant since she'd left.
Staring at the door, his helmet under his arm, Rex reached out, fingers spread, and hesitated when the tips had just about reached the panel. The urge to press his hand against the door, to feel closer to her was strong. He needed to talk to her, needed her to help make sense of the death of one of his closest friends; one of their closest friends.
Did she know Fives was gone?
His hand clenched into a fist without ever touching the door, his throat closing as he closed his eyes against the surge of emotion that threatened to drown him. He'd lost friends and brothers before; lost men he'd considered close, but Fives' death was harder on him than any other loss to date - save one.
Using the moment to gather and examine his thoughts, Rex found himself wishing for some form of contact from Ahsoka. A touch; a hug; a conversation; a scolding; a comm. call; something, anything , to take his mind off the death of a man he'd greatly admired. The death of a man he'd considered true family and not just because they shared the same genetic genome. Losing Fives had rocked his world; a world that hadn't yet settled from the suddenness of Ahsoka's abandonment.
Yet, despite the fact he knew he should have been angry with her, Rex couldn't be. He missed her too much. He'd have given much, in those moments of reflection, to have a way to contact her. Simply speaking with her would have been enough; seeing her would have been enough. Ahsoka had always known how to read him without him saying much and never judged him for anything he'd ever felt or thought; in those moments, Rex found he needed that.
His fist thumped into the door panel as he leaned forward, his forehead touching the smooth metal before he'd considered the consequences of the actions.
Ahsoka. Her name was like a litany in his mind, desperately hoping that she'd hear him despite the fact she wasn't behind the portal. His eyes burned with unshed tears as he mentally called to her, for her. Ahsoka.
Fives would have had things to say if he could see him now, his head and fist against the door to the room Ahsoka was no longer behind. It was almost eerie thinking about what Fives would have said, as Rex could hear it clearly in his own mind, as if Fives weren't gone, but standing in front of him.
Yeah; sure you don't miss her, vod. Keep telling yourself that.
Rex did miss her, now more than ever. Not just because she could have grieved with him in a way that he couldn't grieve with the rest of his men. Not just because she would understand and Fives had been as much a friend to her as he had been to Rex. And not just because Rex felt that Fives' death, while he and the General had been trapped in the ray shield, could have been avoided if Ahsoka had been there.
He didn't blame her for Fives' death, but if she'd been around, Rex would have suggested she come along, but stay out of sight, and kept her inclusion from the General as they were wont to. If she'd been in on the mission, on the rendezvous, Fives might still be alive and Rex wouldn't be yet another family member short.
Instead, she was who knew where, and Fives was dead.
He could almost hear her in his mind, offering comfort and support, sharing in his grief - except that was all it was; in his head.
With the grief he had in his heart threatening to spill over, his throat closing, Rex couldn't give it voice. If any of his men saw him…
Taking a deep breath, he suppressed it. He buried it deep within his heart, pressing it down as far as it could go, into the same space where he'd tucked Ahsoka's departure from his life.
This was his life now and, like it or not, he would simply have to adapt to that new reality.