The mood was tense.
As Rex walked through their newly formed base camp he tried with fierce determination to focus on the sound of the dirt crunching away underneath his boots with each step, but he couldn't. Although another battle had ended, the battle against the Separatists for control of the out stretched Valley of Neska, Rex was still in battle mode; he was fierce and angry.
All around the camp clones were patching themselves up from the recent hard contact, and the small group of clones that had left to assess the battle losses had returned, and that was where he was heading.
Ahsoka sat in the shelter tending to a clone that had severely wounded his arm, she applied basic medical procedure and a little bit of force healing to keep him going before the clone medics could fix him up professionally. The trooper she was helping, Stitch, was particularly misfortunate when in battle, yet he was extremely lucky. Every time he would injure himself severely but he never managed to get himself killed, it was quite remarkable.
"I told you not to go until I gave you a signal, Stitch." Ahsoka chuckled, Stitch began with his rebuttal but Ahsoka wasn't listening. At the sense of Rex's tempered presence she looked up slightly toward his direction where he was on the other side of the camp talking with the group that had just returned; she watched carefully, concerned with the emotions she was sensing from her Captain.
"26! It took 26 shabla men to get through their defences!" Ahsoka snapped her head up in full view toward Rex; even Stitch stopped his ramblings and looked toward the flared Captain. All the clones around the area all turned to the small group, a little weary of Rex's outburst; clearly he wasn't happy with the death toll. The clones had been in their usual glum mood that appropriately followed each battle, the loss of brother's was hard but only shortly remembered; war must move forward to finish.
The camp watches as Rex flourishes his arms around in frustration and anger as he yells and curses repeatedly, everyone stares stunned and Ahsoka can feel Stitch flinch slightly as Rex threw the data pad on the ground, smashing the screen. Uneasy eyes follow Rex as he storms off out of the camp toward the hills that lead down to the valley.
"Hey, uh, Stitch, you keep wrapping the bandage around your arm, ok." Ahsoka carefully gets up, looking off into the direction Rex went, "I'm going to go make sure the Captain doesn't do anything stupid."
Ahsoka quickly walked toward the group of clones who just suffered Rex's wrath, she could feel in the force all the clones suddenly felt lost, like they needed guidance because their leader just stormed out of the camp yelling at the top of his lungs. Ahsoka could feel all eyes on her, she was their new leader. She was concerned for her Rex, so she decided to go after him, but she first had to feed the clones watching some kind of notion that would diminish suspicion of their secret relationship.
"I guess I should go try calming him down, we can't have him acting like this." She started walking after Rex, and called over her shoulder to the clones, "Carry on with your duties, you did good today boys." When she was satisfied that the clones had the right idea she broke into a jog, attempting to find Rex before nightfall.
Ahsoka made her way over the peak of the hill, she turned and looked down off into the distance where she could see the camp, the Jedi turned back and faced the vast expanse of the Valley, reaching out again to try finding Rex. She felt his presence just down the other side of the hill, about a hundred metres ahead.
The presence was stronger when she approached a small cluster of tree's that were visible all over the valley, she looked off into the distance and noticed the beginning of the sun starting to set as it layered the Valley with a soft yellow hue. The Jedi followed his presence which lead her to a small secluded patch of grass that lined a tall, overhanging tree, it was there she found Rex sitting on the ground, leaning against the thick base of the trunk, resting his head against his arm he had up behind him. He just stared serenely over the valley, watching the sun begin its slow set, he looked so peaceful, but she knew the war that was raging so violently within him.
Ahsoka slowly approached him, admiring the gentle golden glow that eloped him as the setting sun reflected off of his white armour.
"You're going to raise suspicion following me, we can't afford that." Rex acknowledged quietly, but in his usual gruff pitch, he didn't look up at Ahsoka's approaching form, he was just still focused on the sun's early stages of setting.
"And I can't afford to watch the man I love bleed his heart out when he clearly needs me with him." Ahsoka retorted as she walked over to him and placed herself down in Rex's lap, she leaned her back against his armoured chest and joined him in watching the sun. "You scared them… and me, are you alright?"
The Captain sighed and Ahsoka shifted around so she was snuggled up against his chest comfortably, Rex started gently stroking her left lekku.
"I'm just angry and disappointed in myself. I don't like loosing so many men under my command, it's happening too often now and it was something I used to strive in avoiding." he closed his eyes, "I-I just feel like I keep letting them down, like I'm not an adequate enough leader. It- It hurts."
Ahsoka leaned up just so she was a little above him, she looked down and placed a hand on his cheek making Rex look at her, "You never let anybody down Rex, you're the perfect image of a leader, and some things are just beyond your control. Those men will always follow you, believe in you and trust you with their lives, just as I do." Ahsoka gently planted a kiss on Rex's forehead before resuming her previous position against his chest.
Rex smiled, Ahsoka always knew what to say to him to make him feel right, he continued stroking her lekku before gingerly moving his hand down and resting it on her hip. Ahsoka flinched at the pain from his touch, that had been the main area of impact her body received during the recent battle, when Rex had come flying through the smoke and pushed them both away to avoid being apart of a detonator explosion, once again Rex had risked his life to save hers. However, being in their current situation it was obvious Rex had become particularly more protective of her, she knew this was due to his natural male instinct to protect what was his; and she felt lucky it was her. It actually reminded her of a silly old ancient children's tale she used to read as a kid.
"You know, you really are my knight in shinning armour, Rexter." she giggled, remembering the story.
Rex looked down at her confused, "Your what?"
Ahsoka leaned up and looked at him quizzically, "You've never heard the story of the Knight and the Princess?"
"No, I can't say I have."
Ahsoka shook her head, "Geez, what do they teach you on Kamino, huh."
"They teach us to keep you alive, Commander." Rex chuckled and stroked Ahsoka's arm.
"Well," Ahsoka started, "It's an ancient tale of a planet I can't remember the name of, but it goes back a long time. It was about a Princess who was lonely, and trapped by the ways and expectations of the society she was apart of, and mostly didn't agree with."
Rex silently chuckled to himself. Jedi. He mused, it sounded a lot like Ahsoka and the Jedi, but he didn't say anything and just let her continue.
"Her dream was to one day be Queen, so she could change her world; to help it, and maybe even the galaxy to be a better place, but her dream got harder and harder to achieve everyday." She closed her eyes.
"What about this Knight character?" Rex asked, "What is it?"
The Padawan smiled. "It is a he, Rex. The Knight is a handsome, strong and courageous soldier who wears shinning armour, and whose sole purpose is to fight and conquer. Anyway, the Princess and the Knight meet and fall in love sharing a forbidden relationship that can cost each of them their lives. Although they are aware of the consequences, th-they continue." Ahsoka's tone was getting serious, the story now revealing itself to her to be a fantasy-like replica of her current life, she swivelled herself around to look at Rex, who was listening intently to the story like a child would.
"The Knight teaches the princess how to love and shows what really matters, what she truly wants." The Padawan was staring deep into brown eyes of curiosity, "He rescues her from the repressed noble life she is expected to live, all her fears, and-"
Ahsoka paused, studying Rex's face.
"…And he rescues her from…" She trailed off, still gazing straight into Rex's eyes. She now realises the princess is her, and Rex is her knight who time and time again saves her from the restricted life of the Jedi, a life she has come to learn is far different in reality then what it actually claims to be.
"…from everything." she finally says, putting meaningful emphasis on the last word.
After a pause she continues. "The princess is then punished by the family for being disobedient toward everything they stood for, so they sent her away to live alone in exile, in a place which was impossible to escape from and isolated. She was branded a disappointment."
"What about the Knight?" Rex asked with a dry throat, he too was now realising the almost identical similarity this tale had to his and Ahsoka's relationship.
"He continues his life." Ahsoka shrugged, "They believed because of the way the Princess acted, that she had influenced him and thought nothing of the Knight. He was just another mindless soldier to them; but not to the Princess."
"The Knights love for the Princess is so strong, he needed her, so he went to rescue her from the prison she was kept and against all odds the Knight prevailed and the Princess had been once again rescued by her Knight in Shinning armour."
Ahsoka leant forward and rested her forehead gently on Rex's, she smiled as she watched his eyes search hers as they revealed a kind of urgency she had never seen before, she stroked his armoured chest plate relishing the feeling of love she was receiving in the force from him.
"What happens after the Knight rescues the Princess?" Rex whispers ever so softly, she can feel his warm breath on her lips. She allows her lips to move that millimetre forward and they brush his.
"They kiss." She softly whispers back.
Rex caught Ahsoka's lips in his as he gently but passionately kissed her, proving to her he was her Knight and she was his Princess. The kiss was long, slow and meaningful, the golden glow engulfing them as the setting sun shone brighter in the bliss; it was a moment they would savour forever.
Rex gently pulled back, searching her face as he pulled his hand up to her Montreals he ran his fingers through the Akul head dress that sat there, the action reminded him of the precious cargo he carried with him, waiting for a moment like this.
Ahsoka leaned back and watched as he fumbled in a small pocket on his belt; whatever he pulled out was out of sight to her as he covered it with his right hand.
She watched him take a deep breath and swallow hard as he reached for her hand and put the unknown object in it, she didn't look down, still staring at his nervous face.
She felt the object crush against her hand as Rex squeezed it; he looked back up at her and smiled faintly. "This, This is for you Ahsoka, every second I spent making it I was always thinking of you."
She looked down to where their hands rested, and opened her palm as Rex removed his own hand from hers.
"Rex." She breathed, "T-This is amazing.' She turned over in her hand what appeared to be a necklace that was so beautifully crafted, and Rex had done it all himself. It was a mixture of soft browns and earthy red fibres that had been so tightly and beautifully weaved together with tiny black rocks randomly placed around it, another blue-ish grey coloured rough, textured fibre came around the left side that finished the rest of the necklace. On the front sat a larger bead like object that resembled a rectangular rock, although Ahsoka noticed it was some kind of wood that had been carved to shape and glistened with clusters of colours that had been finely added.
"I added different colours to the wood; each one represents a different mission where you saved my life." He explained, watching her study the necklace.
Ahsoka studied the wooden bead, giggling at the discovery she made, she looked at Rex and smiled. "You put the symbols from your helmet on here."
"Yeah, so you remember me." he took it from her hand and put it around her neck, "Whenever you're wearing this, you know I'll always be protecting you."
"Thank you, Rex." She whispered and Rex in return kissed her forehead.
"I-I love you, Ahsoka. Remember that."
Ahsoka sensed this had to do with another one of his 'I'm-just-another-clone-no-one-will-remember' moments, but it was more than that it was him expressing his love for her, love that was real. She looked at his face and thought deeply for a moment deciding with herself. Rex watched as her nose crinkled a clear sign she was seriously contemplating something that was important.
He waited patiently for the words he was so eager to hear.
The Padawan reached her arms up and pulled the headdress down, playing with it in her hands; she slowly pulled the beads off aiming for one bead in particular. Rex watched as she stopped on the most magnificent looking rock he'd ever seen, he wondered how he hadn't noticed that before, it was stunning. She threaded it off and replaced the other beads; she handled the bead with such care as if it were as fragile as a palm full of sand on a windy day.
"I never knew what was so special about this bead, until I started researching my culture in the temple, now I know." she breathed in heavily, "I-It was my mother's. It hung on her own headdress, given to her by my father."
Rex remained silent, listening patiently to her speak so openly about her family it was hard for her, he could tell.
"These small stones are so rare, to the galaxy they are worth millions… but to Togruta's, they are priceless."
She reached inside the neck of Rex's bodysuit that stuck out of his white armour, and carefully pulled out his identification tags, they were warm in her hands from being against the heat of Rex's body. Threading the stone onto the chain she let it hang down freely over his armoured chest and looked up into his eyes again. "Only the most fearless of warriors posses these; if you are given this by your partner then they do really love you, not just admire but love. They feel for you an emotion so great that it can never be erased from existence."
Rex brought his hand up and placed it over hers which had made its way to the left side of his chest, where his heart rested. He didn't need to hear those words he'd wanted her so badly to usher, he knew she'd just given her heart to him and it hung so uniquely around his neck.
"I love you, Rex." She whispered.
Rex leant forward and kissed her so passionately she nearly fell backwards; she melted into him and absorbed once again the loving force that poured from his soul. The sun was almost set and shadows fell across their faces as they pulled apart, knowing they'd have to return soon.
Ahsoka started to reluctantly pull herself up from Rex's lap and sighed, they still had a company of clones that were waiting on orders, she offered her arm down to Rex who accepted and she pulled him up off the ground. "I'll go first, come just a while after so we don't raise any suspicion, ok."
Rex nodded and kissed her on the forehead one last time before she made her way over the hill and back down to the camp. He ran his fingers over the small stone that hung around his neck and smiled.
He wasn't CC-7567; he was Rex, somebody who was loved and somebody who would always be remembered.
To the Princess, he wasn't another mindless soldier. He was her Knight in shinning armour.