AN: Everyone knows I don't own Star Wars, right? Well, I've been wanting to write an Ahsoka fic for a while, and after seeing the last Clone Wars episode I finally got a good idea for one.
It was late. The sun had set on this strange planet, and though Ahsoka didn't know how long the rotations were here, she was certain she had been awake for longer than a standard day. Most of the clones were sleeping. The natives had retired, graciously allowing Ahsoka to sit with her master on the condition that she alert them if anything happened. Even Aayla had gone to bed. The only one still up was Rex, who was diligently keeping watch outside the pod which housed Anakin. There were times when Ahsoka wondered if that man ever slept at all.
Weariness was beginning to pull at her eyes, but she didn't care. She couldn't bring herself to leave Anakin's side. Her master was sleeping, out of danger but still in pain, his head bandaged, uneven breaths coming out of his mouth. She could sense that his sleep was troubled, perhaps plagued by nightmares once again.
Yes, though she would never actually tell Anakin, she knew that he suffered from frequent nightmares. She often heard him talking in his sleep, calling out to someone. She saw him thrashing around, twisting the covers, as if trying to escape from something. What could disturb a Jedi so much? Perhaps it had something to do with his home planet – he certainly expressed plenty of disdain for it when they were sent there.
Or maybe it was that senator.
Senator Padme Amidala. Anakin was always looking at her in a strange way, always concerned for her well-being. Ahsoka knew very little about love, but if she were to make a guess, she would say that her master was in love with the senator. She would never tell either of them about her suspicions, of course – it wasn't her place to do so – but there were times when she entertained herself with fantasies about attending her master's wedding to the senator, even though she knew that would never actually happen.
She knew the Jedi code.
Anakin moaned, jerking Ahsoka back into the moment. She hastily took a cloth, dipped it in the bowl of water next to Anakin's bed, and placed it on his forehead, as the natives had instructed her to do. "Please get well, Master," she whispered, rubbing his forehead as if the cloth had magical healing powers. To think that she had just been daydreaming about coming to his wedding. Why did her mind wander so much?
"Still up, kid?"
Ahsoka looked up to see Rex peeking inside, his usual gruff expression replaced by a slightly amused one.
"Shouldn't you be getting some sleep?" the captain continued.
"I'm not tired," Ahsoka insisted.
"You sure?" said Rex. "You look pretty tired to me. How long have you been up, anyway?"
"That's not important," said Ahsoka, removing the cloth from her master's head. "Not while Anakin's here."
Rex actually gave one of his rare smiles. "Ah, I see. You're a noble little padawan, aren't you?"
Ahsoka sighed. "That's not what the other Jedi would say. They would say I'm too attached to him." She ran a finger down her master's cheek. "He almost died because I was too afraid to leave him – that's not noble."
Rex gently placed his armored hand on her shoulder, making her flinch from the cold hardness. "Well he made it, didn't he? In the end, you put your feelings aside and saved his life. I'd call that pretty noble."
Ahsoka sighed again, feeling like she was being inspected, the way she nearly always did around the captain. Even when he complimented her, he carried an air that indicated judgement. Judgement of her skills, judgement of her experience, and probably most of all, judgement of her age. As far as he was concerned, she was a child, unfit to be in battle, even though thanks to the growth acceleration the clones had, he was probably technically younger than her.
"The Jedi code forbids attachment," she found herself saying, gazing down at her still master, trying to send him good dreams through the Force. "Anakin's not supposed to be worth any more or less than anyone else. If I could save a hundred lives by killing him, I'd have to do it." She shuddered at the thought, an image darting through her mind of Anakin poised to kill a hundred innocent souls and herself being the only one able to prevent it. Her head shook rapidly, trying to drive out the fantasy, trying to assure that it would never happen, that Anakin was a wholly decent, compassionate person.
Yes, he was.
That was the problem.
She loved him too much.
Rex's hand was still on her shoulder, grasping it like a protective father trying to comfort his child. "You know kid, we clones can't get too attached to each other either."
Ahsoka turned around to look at him. "What?"
Rex shrugged. "Well what did you expect? We die all the time. We'd never win this war if we were always sobbing over our fallen comrades."
It sounded so cold, so unnatural. Ahsoka felt herself blinking away moisture at the thought. Stupid, stupid padawan, she thought. Another thing wrong with her, another thing that meant she was weak and too emotional. After all, Jedi didn't cry.
No . . . she was wrong about that, she was sure that at least some Jedi cried occasionally.
Her master did, anyway . . .
"We were bred to fight," Rex continued, seeming to stare past the padawan over to Anakin. "Nothing else."
"So you're not supposed to care about each other," Ahsoka blurted out. "Like how I'm not supposed to care about Anakin."
A slight smirk crossed the captain's face. "Is that really what they taught you at the Jedi Temple?" He shook his head in pity. "If you weren't supposed to care about General Skywalker, then why'd you try to save him in the first place? Why isn't he dead now if you weren't supposed to care about him?"
Ahsoka bit her tongue until the pain forced her to release it. "Well . . . yes, we're supposed to be compassionate . . . we're supposed to help out whenever we can . . . but we can't form attachments. We have to dismiss our passions, and if someone dies, we're supposed to carry on as if it never happened." She felt like she was reciting lessons taught in the Jedi Temple, lessons that were easy to learn but so difficult to apply to real life. The thought of losing her master still made her feel ill, and no matter how much she tried to calm herself, she couldn't stop the worry from surfacing.
Rex patted her shoulder again. "That's like a clone's life. We can't fall apart when we lose our comrades, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't look out for each other. We've gotta lean on each other or else none of us would ever make it." He stared into her eyes. "But people are temporary. They're all temporary, including your master. So enjoy him while you have him. Clones have to do that all the time." Once more he looked over at Anakin. "When comrades meet their ends, we need to just pick up and move on. In the end, it's the only thing we can do."
He turned and started heading out of the pod, leaving the padawan slightly bewildered by his words. "Rex?" she said in a small voice before he could leave, in her state forgetting to address him as "Captain."
Rex turned back around. "Yes?"
Ahsoka gulped. "Thank you."
Rex quizzically raised an eyebrow, but his only response was, "You're welcome, kid." Then he was gone.
Ahsoka looked back at her master, whose sleep now appeared to be peaceful – he almost looked like he was smiling a bit. Did her attempt to send him good dreams work? Was he perhaps dreaming of that senator?
Attachment – she knew Anakin had problems with that as well. She saw how much he worried about that senator during their mission to destroy the Seperatist's starship Malevolence, how panicked he was when he discovered her inadvertently ending up in the battle. Was he able to let go of those he loved? She had no answer.
Yes, they both had a lot to learn.
She gently pushed a lock of his sweat-drenched hair out of his forehead. "You'll be all right, Master. We'll get through this together." She leaned forward until her mouth was inches above his face. "And don't worry, I'll keep your secret."