Author's Note: Here it is, folks! A Thousand Suns: Rebellion - "Part 2" of what was started with A Thousand Suns: Redemption. If you are a NEW READER, I would strongly suggest reading ATS: Redemption FIRST. Otherwise, ATS:Rebellion won't make a lot of sense. This chapter picks up right where ATS: Redemption let off, so there's no flashback to make sense of things, if you haven't read "Part 1". For those of you who have been reading the ATS saga, I would recommend re-reading this chapter. Most everything is the same as it had been originally, before I decided to split ATS up into two parts. But, I've taken out a section of this chapter and I also ended it at a different part than I did in the original "copy." I'm re-writing a completely different plot for ATS: Rebellion so while a few things stay the same in this revision, there are significant changes that you might want to note, in order for everything to make sense.
"Floating down / As colors fill the light / We look up from the ground / In fields of paper-white."
"You've changed, Cody."
Tay's gentle voice broke through the meditative silence that had filled the conservatory for almost a whole half-hour.
It had been a few days since Cody and Saa had come back home and things were slowly starting to slip back into a comfortable routine. Things were different from when they'd left - spring had come to Mydwyth and there was work to be done in the fields, in the hot-houses, around the house. Tay put Saa up in the house, to let his leg heal, but she put Cody to work almost immediately in the fields.
He pitched in without complaint, but the first days had been difficult. Hella left almost immediately, taking the Ijaa back to the capitol, to catch up on the contracts she had lost during their time on Bellassa. This left Cody, Saa, and Tay back at the house together and at first, things were a little tense.
Cody was still on high alert, his mind and his muscles still tensed for a threat that didn't come. Both him and Saa were edgy, jumpy - they started at the slightest noises and neither one of them felt comfortable without a blaster on their hip or on their thigh. Tay, who was very light of foot, startled them on more than one occasion; they had to learn to be patient with her, she had to learn to be a lot less subtle.
Communication was awkward at first, as well. Cody had kissed Tay quite thoroughly in the garden, but they seemed almost wary of each other after that. Surprised by his boldness, they both back away from each other; each one reassessing the other, each one trying to identify the subtle changes. They talked of small things, mundane things - about planting, about seasons, about Hella being gone, about little things. Neither Saa nor Cody talked about their contract, though Cody quietly admitted that it had taken them to Bellassa. Tay seemed surprised by this revelation, but she didn't press for details and Cody was grateful for it.
He'd tell her about Obi-Wan, one day. But, not just yet. Not so soon; he was still processing everything that had happened, everything that had changed. And, a large part of him missed what he'd had to let go of - even though the past had haunted him, it had also been everything he'd ever known. Stepping out into new territory, into a new identity, was still difficult. His emotions were still slightly raw, still slightly conflicted.
She had coaxed him into meditating with her again at night - or, more accurately, into sitting in the conservatory with her while she mediated. Meditating wasn't Cody's way any more - before leaving Anobis and even during part of of their adventures away, he had craved it, needed it, enjoyed it. For a time, it had helped heal him and had helped bring a sense of balance back to him at a time when he'd had none.
But, he'd found his balance again, his sense of self and purpose. He didn't feel the need to meditate like a Jedi anymore and Tay graciously respected that. But, he found that he still enjoyed the quiet shared with her, so he'd sit in the conservatory, surrounded by plants that were slowly starting to bloom, and clean his weapons or his armor while he watched her.
Cleaning his equipment was a comfort to him - even more deep-seated and gratifying than meditation had ever been. The repetitious movements were second-nature to him and he was able to let his mind wander, calm and blank, in way that was almost like trance-like. It made him feel like he knew who he was again and it wasn't hard for him to get gently wrapped up in the peacefulness of the moment, while Tay sat cross-legged in front of him and he sat surrounded by an array of broken-down parts.
The juxtaposition of opposites pleased him, too. He, with his armor and his tools of destruction - a soldier. She, with her radiance and her gentle sense of majesty - a Jedi. He thought they complimented each other. Darkness and light, each in their own way. A study in war and peace.
He was so used to the silence, though, that her words startled him at first. Cody looked up sharply, from the sun steel knife that he was carefully polishing with a lightly greased rag. Tay had her faced toward him and her expression was unusually intense.
"Yes," he said after a minute and nodded slowly.
He glanced down at the gift Mal had given him and turned it thoughtfully over in his hands.
"You surprised me, in the garden, when you kissed me," the intensity on her face shifted slightly into something shy.
A light blush crept across her cheeks and Cody felt the sudden urge to kiss her again. He slowly set the knife to the side and followed through on his impulse.
He rose to his knees and reached for her across the short distance that separated them. She sighed softly against his lips, just before they made contact and Cody tangled his fingers through the back of her short hair. He didn't care if he was interrupting her meditative mindset - he'd vowed, on Bellassa, not to hold back from showing her what he felt for her, when he felt it.
For several long minutes, silence returned to the conservatory, the only sound the shifting of their bodies. By the time Cody pulled back from her lips, he had straddled her lap, his thighs on the outside of hers, the backs of his knees hooked over hers as she stayed seated in her cross-legged pose. He had one hand in her hair, along the back of her neck, the other pressed against her lower back to hold her steady against him. Her hands were flattened against his chest; he could feel his nipples brush against the hollow of her palms.
"You smell like uj'Jayl," he whispered against her neck as he nuzzled her skin.
Cody took a deep breath and nearly groaned into her throat. She smelled sweet, but not like flowers or perfume. Her scent was heavier than that, a little darker - it was smooth and it made his mouth water, like the smell of that thick Mandalorian syrup.
He gently pushed the collar of her tunic down and kissed the juncture of her neck and her shoulder. Tay leaned her head back, opening her throat to him even more and Cody's tongue flickered experimentally against her soft, gently tanned skin. The taste of her stirred a hunger deep inside of him, and he made her moan even louder as he opened his mouth and nipped her gently.
This went on for several more minutes, as Cody explored the taste and texture of her skin. His mouth traveled lightly over her throat, her ears, her cheeks, her nose; her hands fisted into his tunic as she clung to him. When he kissed her, she gave back as good as she got and when they finally broke apart for a second time, their breathing was noticeably heavier.
"You taste like uj cake," Cody nipped her earlobe, just to hear her gasp again.
"And you taste like tihaar," Tay murmured as she brought her fingers up and rested them lightly on his lips.
"What's that?" he lifted a slight eyebrow as she shifted underneath him.
"It's a Mandalorian drink. An alcohol distilled from fruit - Saa gave me a shot of it before," she stretched her legs out between his thighs and blushed a bit at the memory. "It practically knocked me out," she admitted with an embarrassed little laugh. "Saa and Hella thought it was the funniest thing in the world. They still make fun of me for it, from time to time."
Cody leaned back on his haunches; her legs were flat beneath him and this position was much more comfortable than the one they'd be in before. She seemed to sense that he wanted a little space between them for the moment and put her hands behind her, leaning back against her flattened palms.
He searched her face for a moment, his eyes taking in her short white hair, her gold headband, her flawless skin. She was truly the most beautiful woman he'd ever met, though Cody suspected that had more to do with the beauty of her spirit, than the beauty of her physical body.
And his body - his heart - longed for her, hungered for her. But, there was something he had to know, something they had to settle before he felt comfortable entrusting any more of himself to her.
"Do I still remind you of Del?" he asked solemnly, his voice suddenly very low and very rough.
Her answer was instantaneous.
He considered her for a moment, as he searched her face and her body language for any hint of dishonesty. He found none.
She nibbled her bottom lip for a moment as she searched for the right words and Cody was momentarily distracted by it. He silently resolved to nibble that lip for her, once he got the chance. But, first, he had to know.
"You both share a common virtue - strength. And at first, I confused the two of you because of it. But, our time apart has force me to step back and reconsider you. It's forced me to take notice of the subtle things," she leaned forward off of her palms and reached a hand out toward his face.
Her fingers traced the curve of his jaw as she spoke, her voice as gentle as her hand. Cody sat back against her legs and listened quietly, letting her speak her peace. Letting her touch her fill.
"When I only had the sound of your voice, when we would talk on the comline, I noticed the differences in your voice. Yours is a little deeper, a little rougher - your words sound a bit more like - " she paused and thought, biting her lip again.
Cody really wished she wouldn't do that. Her hand traced along the curve of his mouth and he couldn't help nipping the tip of a finger as it drifted along the edge of his bottom lip.
"Your voice sounds like whiskey. Del's was like tea - a deep, strong, Alderaan black," she lifted a pale eyebrow above the edge of her headband. "Two distinctly different things. You shape your vowels slightly different, put different inflection on different consonants. Del had a faintly Kaminoan accent - yours is slightly Coruscanti," she titled her head to the side. "I haven't quite been able to figure out how."
"My training instructor was Coruscanti," Cody just chuckled; her hand brushed against his eyelashes and he lowered his gaze in response. "And so was General Kenobi. I probably picked it up from the two of them."
"Ah," her hand brushed against his cheek and her fingers lingered against his days' worth of stubble.
"So," Cody prompted after a slight pause. "What else is different?"
It wasn't vanity that prompted him to ask - it was fear. The memories of both Jaria and Jornada Del Muerto had made a strong impression on his heart and the clone was still reluctant to accept that Tay could "see" him for who he was - a man as different as any other. He needed to know that she thought differently of him, now. And, he needed to hear her explain those differences to him.
Tay seemed to understand this unspoken need and she continued gently, her words honest and her observations genuine.
"The differences between you and Del have only gotten more pronounced since you've come back home. Del's strength was youthful - it had the sense of being so natural to him that he didn't even think about it. It was bright and there was nothing about his sense in the Force that suggested that he doubted it, or questioned it. Your strength," Tay's fingers lingered along the edge of Cody's left eye, her touch moving gently across his scar. "Your strength is hard-won and tempered by experiences that have broken lesser men. You're darker in the Force than Del ever was."
"Isn't showing up dark in the Force a bad thing?" Cody tilted his head into her touch.
She seemed fascinated by his scar and he wasn't ashamed to show that he enjoyed it. He'd always been a little proud of his scars, particularly the one that curved around his left eye. Men with identical faces were often less concerned about facial scarring than others - it was a way to set themselves apart. Scars were a means to a hard-earned individuality and he appreciated her taking note of it. He'd earned it in one of his ARC training exercises and it had been one of the first signs of his emerging sense of self.
"Not necessarily," Tay's fingers slowly drifted down his scar and traced a line across his cheek, down toward the curve of his jaw and the side of his throat. "You're not consumed by your darkness, merely defined by it. It's made the sense of you much stronger."
"Hmm," Cody didn't really know what to say to that - he never really knew what to say in response to the Jedi and their Force.
So, he just made a noncommittal noise in the back of his throat and took the words for what he knew they were - words of approval and encouragement.
"And now that you've been gone and come back, I've noticed other things that are different. Like I said before, they're subtle things," her hand drifted lower, across his shoulders and down his arm; she seemed to enjoy tracing the outline of his bicep through the fabric of his tunic. "You walk differently than Del, now - you have a sort of -" her hand paused on his elbow as she seemed to be searching for the right word. "Swagger, I think, to your step."
Cody just chuckled and it was her turn to tilt her head in a silent question.
"You can thank Saa for that. He made me wear a kama," Cody grinned and shrugged. "It's...ah...kind of like a belt spat," he tried desperately to avoid using the colloquial term that the uninitiated seemed to favor, but it was obvious by the look on Tay's face that she had absolutely no reference point for "belt spat."
Cody sighed and then couldn't help laughing.
"It's an open-front, knee-length skirt, basically."
"Oh," Tay frowned and she took a minute to consider this new piece of information, before asking, "How does that change the way you walk?"
"It attaches to the back of the belt and 'round the sides. It's designed to protect the back and sides of the legs from shrapnel and it's usually made out of a really heavy leather," Cody lifted his other arm - the one Tay's hand wasn't resting on - and ran a hand across his hair with a bemused smile. "The extra weight around the waist forces the hips forward slightly, creating a change in gait. Or, like you said, a 'swagger'."
"Do you always wear it, then?" Tay frowned slightly. "I haven't heard anything move around your legs and I would imagine something heavy like that would hit the back of your thighs when you walk."
She had never talked about using echolocation before, so Cody was a bit surprised by her observation. Though, on second thought, he reasoned it shouldn't have surprised him so much - the ability to use echolocation would be a perfectly natural compensation for her lack of eyesight.
"No, I haven't worn it in a while. But, even if worn for a short period of time, a kama can make a difference in the way you carry yourself," Cody was suddenly struck by another impulse, and he leaned forward to kiss her nose and add softly, "Though, being around you is enough to make any man swagger."
His words had the desired affect and she blushed brightly. She laughed softly, though, and for a moment the young Jedi seemed almost at a loss for words. But, in the end, she just shook her head and kissed him quickly on the lips.
"You kiss differently from Del, too. And," her fingers drifted down to his wrist, where she traced the veins on the top of his hand. "You touch me differently, too. You're..." she blushed and seemed stuck for words again.
Cody just kissed her, which distracted her even further. But, as he pulled away from her, she seemed to have found the words that eluded her, though they now sounded a little breathless.
"Once again, Del was very youthful in his affections. He was like a windstorm to me - fierce, dominate, playful. You're like a fire, though," her blush crept up past the roots of her hair and Cody was absolutely riveted to her softly-spoken confession. "Since coming back home, you've been very warm, very passionate, very...intense."
She practically stuttered to a stop and they had leaned in toward each other to the point where their noses were almost touching. Cody considered tilting his head to the side and kissing her again, but he decided he liked her choice of words. He liked the intensity of the moment and he liked keeping her in suspense. So, he just froze, his hands resting on her hips, her hands resting on his forearms, their torsos almost-touching-but-not-quite.
"From the moment I met you, I could sense something hungry about you, Cody," Tay was whispering now, her breath light against his lips, his nose. "At the time, I think you sated that hunger with your addictions. Then, when you became clean, I think you hungered for forgiveness, for absolution, for a sense of self. And now, I think you've found those things by going back to Bellassa - back to your past."
She stopped, again, her body language shy and uncertain. Cody just smirked slyly and began rubbing his thumbs in slow circles against the curve of her hips.
"So, what do I hunger for now?"
"I think you're a man who hungers for a woman," Tay admitted after a slight, breathless pause; her words came reluctantly, as if she were finally baring her secrets to him. "And I'm almost afraid of being consumed by it."
"By me?" Cody was mildly surprised - after what she'd pulled him through, he couldn't imagine her being afraid of him.
"By your hunger," Tay's hands finally began to move again - this time, she brushed her fingers across the width of his chest.
"And this makes me different from Del?" Cody caught her hand in his and lifted her fingers to his mouth, where he gently nipped the heel of her palm.
"Very," Tay was truly breathless now and her cheeks seemed stained with a permanent blush.
Cody paused, putting his intensity aside for just one moment more, as he finally admitted the one thing he feared most of all. He lowered her hand from his mouth and tightened his grip around her wrist as he struggled for a moment to find the words. Finally, his own confession came and he hoped fervently that his ears wouldn't turn red.
"And if I did consume you with this...hunger..." his voice was rough and hesitant. "My body wouldn't remind you of Del? For all our differences, we are the same..." he couldn't help it - he blushed. "Anatomically speaking."
A coy little smile suddenly curled the edges of Tay's lip and she tilted her head to one side - this time, Cody was pretty sure it was an expression of amusement.
"I fail to see a problem with that. I was quite fond of Del's anatomy, as I recall."
Cody blustered for a moment - her reaction, while honest, was completely unexpected. He felt his own face flushing red in the face of her secret little smile and for a second or two, he sputtered.
"That's not exactly what I meant," he paused and then admitted a little petulantly, "I just don't want to remind you of Del," he managed to bite his tongue before he added, "again".
He figured it might not help matters to state the obvious.
"I doubt now that I could think of Del when I'm with you, even if I tried," Tay gently pulled her hand out of his and touched his cheek. "And as for you and him being the same...anatomically," her nose crinkled in another smile, but her words remained earnest in their seriousness. "There's a bit of a saying among us females, quite regardless of species."
Cody frowned a bit.
Tay's reaction was so deadpan, that it took Cody a minute or two to catch what she was saying.
"It doesn't matter what you have, cyar'ika, it's how you use it."
Cody pondered the meaning of this galactic female saying for several days. It wasn't hard to figure out - he'd deciphered Tay's meaning just moments after she said it and their discussion had dissolved shortly thereafter into a fit of giggles and fairly playful kisses. But, the deeper ramifications of what she'd said, gave him cause for thought and he took it seriously, giving everything that was said the thoroughness of his undivided consideration.
Her words, however playfully pointed, had the affect that was so desperately needed. Cody no longer doubted that Tay was willing to accept him for who he was - she wasn't expecting a duplicate of her husband, nor did she want one. When he was finally invited to occupy her bed, it would be his name on her lips. Not Del's.
And, her words helped to fully heal that one last part of him that doubted. He was engineered to be absolutely identical to a million other men - but consciousness, thoughts, actions, deeds, and soul could never be cloned. His experiences had shaped him into a man who was entirely different from his thousands of "brothers". And even if he was created to have their same body, the choice of what to do with his body was his own.
The choice of how to love his woman, was his own. Cody finally allowed himself to speculate on the many things his body could do to bring Tay pleasure, but he wasn't in any rush to finally consummate their budding romance. Something still lingered between them - some unspoken understanding.
They had time and plenty of it. Cody knew, even without Tay spelling it out for him, that her relationship with Del had been fast, sporadic, and frantic. Del may have won his place as her first, as her husband, and as the father of her first child, but his place in her heart had been won in the backdrop of a galactic war.
Cody remembered only too well how things had been between him and Jaria. Their relationship hadn't been anything like what had existed between Del and Tay, but they had all had the war in common. Whatever time he'd been able to spend with Jaria, had been furtive and fleeting - usually caught between meetings or meals, in places where they were fairly certain no one would catch them. Everything else had been furtive touches caught as they passed each other in the p-ways or glances exchanged when no one else was looking. He'd never really held her, or just sat alone in her company, or shared a quiet meal together without anyone else around.
The former commander sincerely hoped that Tay's experiences with Del had been a less...crude. But, even if they'd managed to find time alone, in a proper sense, he knew that they'd still had to cope with one universal challenge - time apart.
And no matter how close the bond that brought them together had become by the end of the war, Cody knew that Tay had only been able to experience half of a relationship with Del. True intimacy was a hard thing to cultivate during a war, when both parties of a relationship were kept apart for months. And based on Tay's hesitation to contact him while he was on contract on Bellassa, Cody knew that she had probably never contacted Del, as an ARC trooper unable to tell her where he was or what he was doing. Communication hadn't been the best between the Miralukan Jedi and her ARC trooper - between the distance imposed upon them and the silence that had probably dominated at least half of their time spent apart, Cody was frankly amazed that they'd become as committed as they had.
In any event, Cody pondered over what he knew of Del and Tay's relationship, and determined to give her something more. They had time, now - with the planting season in full swing and Saa's injury, Cody knew that they wouldn't be going anywhere any time soon. So, he set out to court Tay, as best as he knew how.
The weeks that followed were some of the slowest and sweetest of Cody's short life. Their days would begin before the sun even rose, with a small breakfast and copious amounts of caf. Saa and him would sit on their usual stools, bleary-eyed with sleep, and hunch over a plate of eggs while Tay stood across from them and sipped her ever-present tea. Then, the day's work would commence - Saa had a list of house chores that never seemed to diminish, Tay busied herself in the garden and in the hothouses, and Cody took the hardest task of plowing several acres set aside for nysillin.
The days were long, hot, and arduous. Cody asked Tay once why she didn't have farming droids, which would have made things much easier for her. She had only blushed and admitted one of the downsides of being Miralukan -
"I don't like being around non-organics."
He'd caught her during a midday break; he'd come down from the fields for lunch and was eating it while leaning his hip against the garden fence. She still had her hands in freshly turned-up earth and was kneeling by his side. She'd tucked her chin in toward her chest at her words, as if ashamed to admit a decided prejudice.
"It's hard for us Miralukans to deal with non-organics. My friend Callista Ming - another Altisian Jedi - would often argue with me about the nature of the Force in things like computers and droids," Tay had settled back on her heels and shrugged, her expression still bemused. "She said that the Force was just as strong in machines as it was in organic life. I never doubted her, but," Tay just shook her head and the sunlight caught across her headband. "If the Force is in droids, it's a very different thing and not something I know how to feel or to connect into."
Cody tried to make sense of what she was saying, as he bit into a piece of buttered bread.
"So, you don't like droids because you can't feel the Force in them?"
"Yes," Tay seemed relieved by his ability to piece together her Jedi concepts. "It's quite common for most Miralukans to be thrown off by non-organic forms. As a culture, we will usually choose to avoid anything we can't 'see' or feel in the Force. Plus," she paused and turned her face up toward Cody, her expression surprisingly bitter. "I will admit that I haven't had any reason to be fond of droids, since dealing with the realities of the War."
His heart went out to her - he knew only too well what she meant by those words.
He felt the same way.
"So, I make do here on the farm without them," Tay bent back over her vegetable beds and picked up her trowel to dig around a particularly stubborn tangle of roots. "It would be easier if I had a few, but I've managed without them so far. And hopefully," she smiled up at him. "The Force will send me strong backs and willing hands for as long as I need them."
Cody didn't mind offering her his strong back and willing hands, especially at night, when she would massage the kinks out of his shoulders, and rub a homemade lotion of bacta and other botanicals into his hands. Cody enjoyed her touch, her care, her kindness - he tried to give back as best he could, by working from dawn to dusk, and by learning to touch her back.
Touch, he discovered, was a powerful thing. In the ranks of the GAR, touch had been practically non-existent, except for the occasional grasp of the hand or slap on the back. And even then, most touch was done through gloves, or armor, or a bodysuit. Cody couldn't recall a time that he'd ever been touched, skin-to-skin, in the line of duty. Except, maybe, when he'd visited the medstation, but there, touch had been decidedly clinical.
He'd learned to touch with Jaria, but even there, touch had been decidedly one-dimensional. With her, Cody had only learned about the sexual side of touch. He'd learned how to give pleasure through touch; he'd learned how to make a woman moan, and squirm, and whimper. He'd learned how to bring about his own release and hers.
But, he'd never learned about the simplicities of touch, until now. With Tay, touch wasn't clinical, but it wasn't always sexual, either. With Tay, touch was a means of communication, a way to convey feeling and emotion, without ever uttering a word.
It didn't hurt that the Miraluka were a touch-oriented people by sheer practical need. Without eyesight, they relied primarily on the Force, and also on their other senses. They had developed, as a race, keen senses of hearing, amazingly accurate senses of smell, refined senses of taste, and very driven senses of touch. For a Miralukan, much could be said just by the lingering of one's fingers against a cheek or the brush of a hand against a bare shoulder.
He learned to decipher some of her touches - sometimes, Tay touched him just to feel what he was wearing, or just to reassure herself of where he stood. Sometimes, her touch was meant to heal, like when she touched his back or his hands after a long day in the fields. Sometimes, her touch was absently affectionate, like when she'd play with his hair in the evenings while he sat on the floor next to her by the couch. Sometimes, her touch was gently intimate, like when she'd run her fingers across his face to feel his expressions underneath her fingertips. Sometimes, her touch was sexual, like when she kissed him or when she slipped her hand underneath his tunic to run her nails across his chest.
Cody learned to respond appropriately to her many touches and he learned to reciprocate. He learned how to reach out and touch her shoulder if he was walking behind her in the kitchen. He learned how to wash the cuts on her arms, when she got into a one-sided fight with a thorn bush. He learned how to hold her in front of the fire while they listened to Saa's old stories of his days as a young mercenary, before the Wars. He learned how to cradle the back of her head, before bending down to give her a good-night kiss. He learned where she liked to be touched the most and how to bring her pleasure.
And, they talked - about everything, and anything, and nothing at all. They talked about the fields and about the type of plants Tay grew. They talked about her contracts in the capitol and about how much the projected harvest might bring in the fall. They talked about chores, and Saa, and Hella, and the past.
They bickered, about silly things.
They even got into a fight, when Cody's insistence on remaining armed nearly resulted in him shooting a startled Sazen, who had come up behind him in the fields one afternoon without warning.
But, most of all, they learned to share silence. This happened most, in the evenings, when all three of them would gather in the living room after dinner. Saa would usually settle in a chair by the fire - the pain in his leg seemed to lessen in front of the warmth. Cody would usually sit on the floor next to Tay, his back against the couch; sometimes, he'd sit in front of the fire as well, across from Saa, where the light was better for carving.
The men picked up their half-finished chess pieces as if they hadn't ever left. Cody's hands were steadier now, more certain of what they could do. He carved Waxer and Boil as the 7th Sky Corps' knights; he carved duplicates of himself as the bishop pieces. On a moment of whimsy, he chose Duchess Satine as their queen - she was the most fitting partner Cody knew, to the man he carved as king.
Some of his lingering sadness and regret left him, as he meticulously carved Obi-Wan's face onto a small block of wood. He missed his general - a part of him would always miss that past. But, he'd been given one final chance to set things right - one final mission to watch his general's back and rebuild the trust that had been broken. Cody was fairly certain the two men would never cross paths again - but as he sat in front of quiet fires during cool Anobian spring evenings, the clone was finally able to come to peace with the past and letting go.
He enjoyed the silence, which gave him that space to heal. Often, by the end of the day, Saa, Tay, and him were too tired to say much. In those hours, Cody learned how to just be. In some ways, he felt the loss of his brothers a little less in the evening; the comfortable silence he found with Saa and Tay was not dissimilar to the companionable silence he had shared on multiple occasions with his brothers, in their down-time between missions, meals, briefings, and battles.
Silence could certainly divide, but it could also unite. It filled in the quiet spaces between words and soothed the soul. It reaffirmed Cody's place in the simple life he'd found, with a newly-retired Mandalorian and an exiled Jedi. It It proved to him that he'd finally found a place to belong, where he was accepted for who he was, where he wasn't expected to be more than a man of few words and a hard past.
Tay would usually meditate toward the end of those evening hours and Cody would accompany her into the conservatory. There, he would clean his weapons or, sometimes, just lay on his back against the pillows and alternate between looking up at the stars and watching her. During that gentle hour, Saa would limp off to bed, leaving Cody and Tay to their own devices.
Most nights - but not all - Cody would pull Tay down into his arms after her hour was up and try to describe the stars to her. Sometimes - but not always - he'd get too distracted by the warmth of her body and they'd start to explore each other. Over the course of several slow, deliciously agonizing weeks, Cody worked up the courage to move from simple kisses and gentle touches, to bolder explorations.
Tay did the same, in kind. True to her word, she seemed to take great delight in exploring the broad planes of taunt skin and ridges of broad muscle that he had worked so hard to reclaim. And as the weeks unfolded, Cody finally became certain of his place.
He no longer felt that he had to fight against the memory of a dead man. Cody stopped worrying if Tay was remembering another man's identical body when he held her against him; he no longer wondered who she was thinking about when he touched her, or kissed her.
But through it all - the silence, the intimacy, the quiet courtship - Cody couldn't shake the feeling that this resting time wouldn't last long. Even rural Anobis wasn't safe from the machinations of the Empire and Cody's military experiences told him only too well, that sooner or later, the events of the galaxy would catch up with them.