Disclaimer: Not mine, none of it (save tale itself XD)
Authors Notes: This tale hints at heterosexual attraction which may offend viewers, proceed at your own discretion. A big thank you to Sachariah for her tips! =D
It was Rex's duty to watch over the now resting Ahsoka. The clone captain knew that the commander did not really require his protection, her skills as a jedi superseded any training or experience he had. Orders were orders and he could not deny that it was nice to be away from the battlefront even if it was for a few short hours.
She slept with her armour on; hard wrist plates against soft cheeks were certain to leave imprints in the morning. Her small figure was tense, ready for battle; it was a feeling Rex knew all too well. The captain wished of a way he could ease the turmoil he saw on her face. Even in rest Ahsoka could find no peace, the war haunted her now, as much as it did him.
Rex could not recall when the temptation to embrace the togruta whispered in his thoughts, only that he could not ignore it. It was easy to forget that in spite of their close proximity of age they were physically years apart. It was not the first time he noticed her beauty. The way her lekku would colour a burnt sienna if she were excited or embarrassed, how her eyes would light up at the promise of a good spar; the sound of her laughter in the rare moments when they were allowed to be something other than soldiers.
The days of their playful innocence had long since faded with the ugliness of the war. He missed her teasing, the in-jokes and the pranks she played on him and the General. Now there was only fear, the brewing storm of anger and the slow rot of madness. Rex knew they all suffered from the slow death in one form or another. Some were worse than others were, but all who fought on the front were familiar with its stench.
Rex once believed that he was above it; he was after all, a specialized soldier, a high-ranking officer in the famous 501st. As innocent desires and curiosities filled his thoughts, such as how her fingers would fit in his own-Rex wondered how long he had before the war would consume his mind too. To Ahsoka he was her captain, her best friend and most importantly, a grown man. He had no right to notice his friend, so he did his best to ignore such thoughts. It did not make the situation any easier, or any less complicated.
All around the jungle rustled, howled and sang to the moon, reminding Rex that not all threats came from the outside.
The young togruta stirred in her sleep, her tattooed brow furrowed tightly as her hands clenched and then clawed at something only her mind's eye could see. Suddenly she cried out as her body began to thrash wildly, her legs and arms tangling in the blankets of her mat.
Immediately Rex tried to rouse the commander awake, but not before ensuring that, her lightsaber was out of reach. He could only hope that when she came to she would recognize him as a friend and not force choke him as he had seen her master do to their enemies.
Silently he cursed the General's absence. General Skywalker would know how to handle a panicked Force sensitive. He swiftly buried the thought as he knew the General had orders of his own, they all did.
Ahsoka's eyes snapped open just as she grabbed him by the arms. The clone captain could not move, as the unnatural strength of her grasp was left him little room to respond. He did not try to call for help, it was not necessary.
"Everything's okay. You're safe-it was only a nightmare," Rex soothed.
It was a farce they both knew it. Nothing was okay, and the dream was certain reflect itself in the ugly reality of the frontlines. Nonetheless, Ahsoka's vice-like grip loosened, as the haze in her blue eyes cleared. He did not allow himself to register their close proximity, nor did he imagine how those calloused fingers would feel against his arms, were it not for the armour.
She did not need her captain to be distracted by the petty crushes of an inexperienced man-child. Ahsoka needed him to be strong and she needed him to be a friend. He would be both; out of respect, out of duty, and out of honour.
The togruta was quick to recover from her disorientated state. Semi-gloved hands fell to her lap and her gaze soon followed. Rex did not need to be sensitive to the Force to know she was shamed by her behaviour.
"Rex-" she began.
"Commander, there is no need to explain, we've all been there at one point or another," he said. He could not ignore the relief he saw in her gaze.
The portable comm on Ahsoka's wrist caught Rex's eye and he motioned to it drawing her attention away from her embarrassment.
"Listening to the intergalactic radio can help keep your mind off things, might help you relax."
Ahsoka considered it for a moment before nodding slightly, her expression was a mix of weariness and desperate hope. He knew the feeling all too well. Sleep rarely came to anyone anymore.
With Ahsoka's wrist comm, softly playing the peaceful sounds of Arleen's broadcast the young togruta curled back under her flimsy blanket. Rex remained by her side, hoping that in some small way his presence would ease the nightmares that plagued her.
Just when Rex had thought the commander had fallen asleep, small fingers slipped from under the blanket and into his own. Startled the young clone went perfectly still. He could feel the warmth of her calloused fingers through the stiff leather of his gloves. The strength of her grasp reminded him that it was all real.
With a hint of a smile on her lips the togruta drifted back to sleep, leaving the captain alone with his thoughts once more. The sounds of the jungle's night song once so chilling, now soothed his troubled mind and heart.
Ahsoka did not need a star-struck fool; she needed a friend, someone who understood, and someone she could turn to when the storm of war threatened to consume her. As he watched her resting form, the peaceful rise and fall of her petite frame, Rex realized that this was his destiny. He was more than a faceless soldier, another brave but nameless face. He was this young woman's friend and confidante. She trusted and respected him above all others, even her own master. It was a gift; the first one Rex had ever received in his life. It was also the greatest gift one could ever desire.
Silently he swore never to betray her trust or her friendship.
He never broke his promise.