title The Best Times
author patientalien
rating PG
summary Meal time with the 501st was, for Ahsoka, the best time (contrary to the LJ cut text, it's not actually one of my crack fics)
author's notes I got the idea for this reading an article about feeding the military. I read that, and this fell out.

It was said that an army's greatest strength lay in the supplies and comforts given to its troops. Though the troops in the Grand Army of the Republic were specifically bred for battle, it did not take away from the importance of providing for their surprisingly unique needs. For the members of the 501st, there were few times for relaxation, few times to be able to hunker down with one another without worrying about incoming blaster fire, without watching their brothers getting killed.

Ahsoka Tano counted meal times as some of the best times with the 501st. They took meals when they could, during lulls in the battle, which meant it was one of the few times that a small amount of relaxation could be afforded them. The men bantered, traded ration packets, and exuded camaraderie and friendship. Ahsoka loved meal times, even if the meals themselves were, for lack of a better term, unpalatable.

"I'll trade you my mujaberry sauce for your bread, Commander," a voice came from beside her. Ahsoka looked up and smiled at Sergeant Coric, gesturing for him to sit beside her.

"Sure," she said, handing him the hard roll from her MRE. In turn, he handed her the packet of sauce, nodding gratefully. The 501st had a complex barter system in place when it came to the MREs. Ahsoka had no doubt her hard roll would, in turn, be traded for something more valuable, like the small chocolate candies randomly inserted into the meal tins, which would then be traded for something with even more value - an hour off guard duty, for instance.

Case in point: "You gonna eat that roll?" Ahsoka glanced up, and Coric sprang to his feet, snapping to attention. Anakin Skywalker rolled his eyes. "I just wanted to know if you were gonna eat that, I didn't need you do stand up." He frowned. "What have I told you guys about saluting me, anyway? I don't need a bigger target on my back than necessary." Not, Ahsoka thought to herself, that Anakin Skywalker's general presence didn't present a big enough target, considering how many of the Separatist leaders seemed to be under direct orders to kill him.

"Sorry, Sir," Coric replied, settling back down to the ground.

"Look, I need some carbs," Anakin groused, crouching down beside them. "I have..." he poked around in his utility belt for a moment. "Three chocolate bars and a protein capsule."

Ahsoka frowned. "You said you didn't have any chocolate when I asked you to trade for my stew!" she accused, crossing her arms over her chest.

"I didn't have any *then*," he replied, mimicking her actions, then putting a hand out to catch himself when his low crouch didn't allow for him to move too easily without falling. "I traded Rex half a night's recon for them."

"You would have done the recon anyway!" Ahsoka replied, rolling her eyes.

Anakin chuckled and tugged at one of her headtails. "Well, yeah, but now I have chocolate, too." He turned back to Coric. "Well?"

Coric considered the prize; Ahsoka knew there were a lot of favors to be had for that kind of bounty. "Sure, Sir," he said, and handed Anakin the roll.

"Thanks!" Anakin said brightly, springing to his feet and striding away.

"Aren't you going to eat with us?" Ahsoka called after him.

"It's not for eating!" Anakin called back, and broke into a run.

Ahsoka shook her head, long used to her Master's odd mannerisms. She ate in silence for a while, relishing the quietude that came with the small busts of calm. Around her, the clones were, to a man, hunkered over their own meals, trading food and jokes. She smiled; sometimes, she didn't mind this so much.

An explosion interrupted their precarious peace, and Ahsoka was on her feet in an instant, MRE forgotten, clattering to spill across the ground, lightsaber out and humming. The clones sprang to their feet as well, rifles pointed towards the source of the explosion. For a long, long moment, nothing happened. There was no mechanical thunk-thunk of the droid army advancing, no wailing of vulture fighters overhead, nothing to indicate the explosion was the work of the Separatists. Ahsoka peered out over the landscape, seeing a column of smoke rising in the near distance, and a figure casually walking towards them.

She raised her lightsaber, and the clones raised the rifles, ready on her order. "Oh come *on*," a voice carried across the distance. "Is that how you repay a guy for destroying the Sep base?" Now that the figure was coming closer, she could see it was Anakin, his clothing torn, face dirty from the debris of the explosion.

"But... how..." Ahsoka stammered as Anakin sauntered past her back into the camp.

Anakin turned to her, smirking. "Plug an exhaust port with a hard roll, and things just kind of... go boom," he explained with a shrug. "Now. I'm starving. You got any more of that stew?"

Ahsoka smiled, and handed Anakin her discarded MRE. Yes, she thought, sitting down beside her Master, meal times really were the best times.