When He Held Her

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

The kid was dead.

The fact took a long time to really register in my head. I knew it was a possibility, ever since we lost contact with her after the second droid wave. In fact, considering just how outnumbered our squad was, it was quite probable. But there was always a big gap between MIA and KIA.

I shook my head. This was my Commander. She was a Jedi. She'd always found a way out. She'd always defied all the odds, and came out from the most hopeless situations swinging and eager for more action.

But I also knew all too well that she wasn't invincible. Nor immortal. Ever since that mission on Naboo, when our team was infected with the Blue Shadow virus. I watched her strength fade. I listened to her last words, words of encouragement, trail off as she collapsed. Then I caught her, and held her tightly in my arms till I lost consciousness.

That's when I knew just how frail she was. How easy to lose. How vulnerable she could be.

And, more often than not, she made it that way. That was just the way she always was. Always thinking of herself last. Always putting her life on the line for others. It was brave, it was honorable. But you can only lay your life down so many times, before you lose the chance to pick it up again.

I sighed, kicking a clanker foot across the clearing, watching it clatter its way over the blackened rubble that adorned the entire surface of Mustafar. I had told Commander Offee that this was the way the kid would have wanted it - she wouldn't have had it any other way. I knew my Commander - she never would have wanted someone to rescue her at someone else's expense. I didn't blame Barriss at all. It wasn't her fault that this happened. Wasn't her fault that that witch showed up, that the hostages were a trap. There was nothing any of us could have done differently, with the intel we had at the time. It was the price of war. A price that me and my brothers had learned to pay.

That didn't make it feel better. I had lost brothers before. Some of them I knew well, some almost friends, as normal people would say. Losing them was always hard. But I had learned to put the past behind me, as my Commander would say. To move on, and do my job.

Losing her, my Commander, my comrade, my... whatever was the right word for it, was much harder than I thought it would be. Much, much harder.

My hand fell to my waist, rubbing against a long cylindrical object that I knew wasn't there when I had suited up. I unhooked it and held it up.

An ascension wand.

Her ascension wand.

I just stared at it, lost in thought. I remembered why I had it. The cliff side rescue stunt she had pulled. That we had pulled. We were halfway up the the bluff, climbing side by side, when the Sergeant's line broke loose. I remembered her strange order. "Hold me!" she had told me. I held her, apparently a bit too tightly, but I wasn't going to risk dropping her. I held her while she used her Jedi thing to catch the falling trooper, saving my brother from a fiery death by the raging lava that ran below the cliff.

Then when she passed out, probably from the strain of the rescue, I held her again, till we reached the top of the ridge. And, without much of a thought, I'd hooked her wand to my utility belt, where it had hung, forgotten, till now.

I turned it over in my hand, rubbing my palm over the firing lever. Standard issue - nothing special at all. Except that it was hers.

And it reminded me... of when I had held her.

When she had fainted from the virus, I held her.

When she rescued my brother, I held her.

I removed my own wand, tossing it aside, and hooked hers in its place.

I wish that I could have been there, to hold her at the end.


Disclaimer: I don't own this. Nothing.

UPDATED Author's Note: I decided I wanted to make this first-person to fit with my other Rex one-shots. It's more than just a POV change - I had to tweak it further; hopefully it sounds like our favorite clone Captain. If not, tell me!

Original Author's Note: Short, sad one-shot taken (and somewhat adapted) from my full story "Sisters of Flame". This section (Rex's reminiscing after 'losing' Ahsoka) really stood out for me and I decided to post it separately - I've added to it to allow it stand alone as a generic one-shot even if you don't read the full story.

Is Ahsoka really dead? Sorry, you'll have to read "Sisters..." to find out! Please review!