AN: All right, I don't usually write slash and I don't usually experiment with pairings, but there was something about Ahsoka and Barriss's relationship that appealed to me. Well as always, I don't own SW, I'm just playing with it for fun. Also, I don't know for certain what Barriss looks like without her hood, but I've seen several fanarts of her with short black hair, so that's what I'm using in this fic.
Oh, and this is my 40th FFN story. Sure, I've got a lot of unfinished fics, but still, it's something to celebrate.
"What is Forbidden"
Ahsoka rolled this way and that, trying fruitlessly to sleep. On one side she faced the wall, which would be fine if lying on this particular side didn't hurt. She must have bashed herself during the fight. Normally even that would be fine, except that when she lay on her other side she was facing Barriss.
Her fellow padawan lay perfectly still, her hands clasped atop her chest. Like a corpse. Ahsoka wasn't sure how long it had been since her master left the room, but it felt like at least an hour, though in all likelihood it wasn't actually that long.
If only Barriss would wake up.
Anakin said she would be all right, but how did he know? Probably the medical droids told him, but how did they know? How could anyone know for sure that she would be all right, especially when she had been unconscious all this time?
"Kill me . . ."
Ahsoka pulled the thin blanket around herself, twisting it around her legs, shivering at Barriss's last words. What if the cold hadn't worked? What if there had been no way to drive the creatures out of people's brains? What then? Would she have had to . . .
She blocked the rest of the thought.
"Mmm . . ."
With that tiny sound, Ahsoka leapt out of bed, ignoring the sudden dizziness. She sat down on the edge of Barriss's bed, reaching out to stroke her cold cheek. "Barriss?" she said carefully. "Barriss? Come on Barriss, you can do it, wake up."
"Ah . . ." Barriss's head twitched. "Ah . . . Ahsoka?"
A smile broke out on Ahsoka's face. "Easy Barriss . . . it's all right."
"Ahsoka?" Barriss blinked, her eyes unfocused. "What . . ." She flinched. ". . . What . . . happened?"
Ahsoka gave a loud, relieved sigh. "It's all right Barriss, you're all right."
"All right?" For a moment Barriss seemed puzzled, as if she couldn't remember what had happened, but then realization came flooding into her face. "The . . . the parasites . . . where are they?"
"It's all right," said Ahsoka. "We found out that the cold repels them. They're gone."
"Gone . . ." Barriss's eyes expanded. "Wait . . ." She blinked over and over, as if trying to remember something. ". . . wait . . . I told you to . . ."
Ahsoka gulped, feeling her muscles twitch, part of her praying that Barriss wouldn't remember what she had told her to do.
Barriss squeezed her eyes shut and ground her teeth. "I told you . . . to kill me." Her eyes shot open, staring at Ahoska in horror. "You . . . didn't . . . kill . . . me . . ."
"I couldn't," Ahsoka quickly said.
Barriss was breathing heavily, as if not killing her had been the most horrible crime in the universe. "Ahsoka . . . don't you realize . . . I could have . . ."
"But you didn't," said Ahsoka, swallowing, her eyes tracing the markings on Barriss's face. "And the cold . . ."
"But we didn't know that," Barriss interrupted, her voice growing harsher. "You let emotion get in the way . . . I could have . . ." She started to sit up, but then her face scrunched up in pain.
"Don't do that," said Ahsoka, gently pushing her back down. "You're wounded."
"I'm . . ." Barriss flinched again. ". . . wounded?"
Ahsoka grimaced. "I kind of . . . cut you with my lightsaber. It's not serious – it was just meant to slow you down."
"You . . . cut me." A tiny smile began to form on Barriss's face. "You . . . cut . . . me . . ." She lay back down, giving a small laugh that dissolved into a cringe. "All right, that was a better solution than mine."
Ahsoka sighed, gazing at the spot in the blankets that most likely covered the wound she had inflicted. "Well, just cutting you was horrible." More than horrible. Like cutting herself. She shivered, remembering how she held Barriss in her arms, fearful that she had inflicted a serious wound.
"Are you cold too?" the Mirialan asked, looking up at Ahsoka.
The use of the word too made Ahsoka gulp. She cleared her throat only to find that it was dry and parched – she couldn't stop a cough from escaping her mouth.
Barriss slowly patted the mattress. "Ahsoka . . . there's room for two. We could warm each other up."
Warm each other up. Ahsoka gulped again, reaching down and tracing Barriss's tattoos with her finger. "Are . . . you sure you don't mind?"
"No," said Barriss.
After a moment's hesitation, Ahsoka scooted aside to pulled the blankets down, then increment by increment eased herself into bed, realizing how cold she really was. Once she was actually lying down next to Barriss, she felt her mouth drying and her breath increasing slightly. What? Why was that? She was shivering . . . but it was from the cold, right?
Barriss was smiling at her, a pained and yet happy smile, but then she cringed again. Ahsoka quickly pulled the blankets back over the two of them, enveloping them in the warmth. She closed her eyes, listening to her breath merging with Barriss's, thankful that Barriss was breathing at all. Perhaps she could sleep now . . . but why was she still feeling tense? Why was she feeling more tense when she was inches away from Barriss?
Barriss inhaled deeply. "Thank you."
Ahsoka opened her eyes, meeting directly with Barriss's eyes, those bright blue eyes. "Barriss?"
Ahsoka swallowed yet again. "Remember how we were buried alive together?"
Ahsoka's hand slid downward until she felt her fellow padawan's knuckles against hers. "Well . . . when it looked like we were both going to die, I wasn't afraid. At first I thought it was because of my Jedi training, but now . . . I think it's because you were with me."
Barriss leaned her head back, closing her eyes. "It's always better to have someone with you than to be alone."
"No, I didn't mean like that," said Ahsoka, her finger running up and down Barriss's. "I mean I wasn't scared because you were there. You."
For a moment Barriss was silent. She opened her eyes and looked down as if she were just now realizing that their hands were touching. Their hands . . . they had held hands when they were buried. It must be all right to do that now, right? Almost without deciding to, Ahsoka interlocked her fingers with Barriss's.
"What are you doing?" Barriss said in a gasping whisper.
Ahsoka's eyes reflexively closed, unwilling to face herself making Barriss uncomfortable. "It's . . . nothing wrong."
She kept her eyes closed, her muscles tensing up, waiting for Barriss to say something or at least push her hand away, but nothing happened . . . nothing except Barriss's fingers slowly wrapping around hers.
"It's all right," the Mirialan whispered. "I like you too."
With those words, Ahsoka's breath seemed to stop. Like, what sort of like did she mean? Friendship? Yes, of course it was friendship – it couldn't possibly be anything else, could it?
Her stomach churned as her eyes shot open. She had to change the subject to something else, anything else.
"Barriss?" she forced out.
Ahsoka slowly reached up with her free hand and lightly brushed the edge of Barriss's hood. "I just realized . . . I've never seen you without your hood."
Barriss's eyes bulged, as if she had never been told that before, as if the hood was just a natural part of her body. Then hesitantly, slowly, she reached up with her own free hand, brushing Ahsoka's hand off her face as her fingers dug into the edge of her hood and eased it off.
There was her hair. Deep black, down to her shoulders, straight and full, filling Ahsoka with an urge to touch it, but she held back. That would certainly be invading her boundaries, right?
She concentrated on pulling her mouth into a smile. "Your hair, it's very pretty. Why do you hide it?"
Barriss made a noise that sounded a little like a sigh and a little like a groan. "On Mirial many of the women cover their hair."
Barriss made that noise again. "I don't know."
They were both silent for several more moments, their only movements being their hands squeezing each other, then Barriss suddenly said, "I did mean what I said, Ahsoka."
Ahsoka swallowed, having lost count of how many times she had gulped lately. "About what?"
"About . . . liking you."
The words hung in the air, waiting for Ahsoka to accept them. How she wanted to accept them, but instead she squirmed. "Barriss . . . you know we couldn't . . . we're Jedi . . ."
Barriss's thumb was stroking Ahsoka's finger. "I know . . . I know we can't." She shifted her body so she was closer to the Torgruta. "But . . . that doesn't stop us from thinking about it."
Ahsoka knew that well enough. Her own master loved a senator – that was rather obvious – but he couldn't be with her, at least not officially. They could of course see each other, but that was only when Anakin wasn't busy with his Jedi duties, which was almost never.
She pinched one of Barriss's fingers, closing her eyes and just absorbing her touch. For as far back as she could remember, she had always known that she could never be in a relationship with anyone, but that had never bothered her until today. Why? Because she had never before met anyone she would want to have a relationship with?
"Well you know . . ." she said, hesitantly opening her eyes and seeing Barriss still staring at her, ". . . maybe we could pretend."
"Pretend?" said Barriss, raising an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
"Oh . . . I don't know." Ahsoka slipped her hand out of Barriss's and pressed it against the Mirialan's cheek. "Maybe we could think of ourselves as together even though we're not allowed. I mean, we don't need to actually do . . .certain things . . . but maybe we could just pretend we're together when we see each other. And no one would need to know."
The idea sounded silly the instant it came out of her mouth. She waited for Barriss to either laugh or shake her head, but instead she scooted closer. Closer and closer, cringing a couple of times, but still scooting closer, her head leaning over.
And she kissed her.
It wasn't a long kiss – she merely brushed her lips against Ahsoka's, but that was enough to make the Torgruta's heart flutter. A smile broke onto her face as her breath increased. It was like she had just been on an invigorating run – she was dizzy and yet energized.
"Barriss . . ." she whispered.
"Shh," said Barriss. "We're only pretending, remember?"
"Yes . . . right." Ahsoka cleared her throat and stroked Barriss's face again. "Barriss, how much do you remember of . . . that?"
Barriss twisted her mouth. "That?"
"You know . . . when those things overtook you."
"Oh . . . that." Barriss groaned. "Well . . . it sort of felt like a dream, the sort of dream where you know you're doing things but you can't control yourself. Do you ever have dreams like that?"
"I . . . guess," said Ahsoka, though she couldn't actually remember having that sort of dream.
"But then . . ." Barriss continued, her eyes half-closed, as if struggling to remember, ". . . that moment when I suddenly knew what I was doing . . ." She blinked as if trying to eliminate tears. ". . . what I was doing to you . . . that was why I told you to kill me." She sniffed. "I could never live with myself if I had . . ."
Ahsoka ran her hand down Barriss's cheek. "Shh. It's all right. It's over now."
Barriss's mouth slowly broke into a smile as her eyes gave tired blinks. "Ahsoka . . . I'm really glad you're here."
Ahsoka closed her eyes, unable to stop herself from smiling. "I'm glad you're here too, Barriss."
. . . . .
When Anakin came in to check on the padawans, he found them both asleep in Barriss's bed, their arms around each other. Another Jedi might have raised his eyebrows. Another Jedi might have woken them up and demanded that Ahsoka return to her own bed. Another Jedi might have even given them a lecture about the danger of attachments.
But not Anakin. He merely smiled.