Author's Note: This was so much fun to write.
Wash took the mantle of the dark one graciously, quietly, perhaps at first not even noticing when it affixed itself to him. It stayed and clung until it was voiced. The new Empire could have as easily sentenced him to the mad caves of Kessel, but he was too important for that.
In the maximum security prison tucked under Coruscant's clipped polar mountains he saw almost no one in the long, white halls, so he could see his darkness coming from a long way away, and determine its shape. He learned its dimensions and its corners before it was upon him.
He thought he knew all the things a person saw when their eyes were closed, but those had been Epsilon's ghosts. Now he identified his own. He could write ghost taxonomies. The Field Guide to the Undead of North Pole Penitentiary.
They surrounded him with ice and snow and water pipes that lay underground and then surfaced like sea monsters.
The best place to keep prodigal sons and their penitent, penitent ghosts...
Sometimes he thought about Epsilon saying I'm sorry.
Sometimes he thought about how the Director never did.
Sometimes the prisoners could talk to one another, and politicians and spies and one dark agent looked at each other with the whites of their eyes. They boasted. They sidestepped. They played pazaak.
At first he played. He was instructed to fit in. His counselors always told him that he had to re-integrate into society, but the numbers on the cards are ready to shift into new values any moment and there's even more uncertainty in the wheels and destroyed starships in his companions' eyes. He doesn't like uncertainty. It makes him remember, and although the memories aren't in order, at least he's pretty sure they're his.
The Temple had golden light falling onto golden walls. They would all meet sometimes, sitting or lying on futons in a meditation corner. Everyone could hear them, but that was the point. The Temple was an open-air place. No secrets.
York would lounge and thumb the neck of his tunic open, sweat shining from a bout of training. North would lean his elbows on his knees and tell about the stories, fights, gossip of the day. Connie would wait at a window or a doorway, flighty, feathers ruffled, always leaning her brown-gloved hands or her shoulders on one surface or another. Maine dressed in white with golden bands around his arms. When they became generals, promoted without ever having held any other rank, they would keep the colors they favored in their robes and transfer them to the plasticine clone armor that became the safer option.
They had all been in the same Clan, and passed the trials at around the same time. They were separated by missions and Masters, but tended to come back to that same hallway and talk: about their lives, about Anakin Skywalker being appointed to the council, about the holocrons that had been found in the Chancellor's private collection, the ones that appeared to be infused with some sort of spirit. No light side, not dark side, just pure emotion. But those had been secreted away, and the Chancellor had suggested the Council place them in a private vault of which he would be director.
The same rumors kept floating around as the Clone Wars continued:
Anakin Skywalker, youngest Knight ever to be accepted into the Council
Anakin Skywalker, never made a Master
holocrons without guardians, just emotions, like they're waiting for something -
And then the Temple was attacked, ash and fire and smoke, but by that time Wash was already half-mad with memory so they had tucked him away in an institution, while the Director calmly observed both the sacking of the Temple and the turmoil of the man with the the memories of Epsilon fermenting in his head, who could feel it all happening.
Wash stayed in the institution for a while.
They knew that he wasn't dangerous any more. He could barely feed himself: he could not remember quite how to use the Force.
When the Counselor came to him and said Wash could help finding the rest of the mind fragments instead of being killed and framed, that sounded good to Wash. It offered him another set of rules to follow.
The thing wearing Maine's body was after him and South and Delta, the lumpy blaster in its hand. Wash kneeled, green lightsaber humming next to his cheek, and sensed the danger.
(Of course there was danger, it was everywhere after the Dark came, and besides, it had always been in the rules.
Rule of the Jedi number one. You can sense danger because danger is a reality. We try to create a perfect system but we will never achieve it. The purpose of good is to fight evil. The purpose of evil is to survive to oppose good.)
So he could sense the danger, and he could sense South's fear coiling cold in the back of her mind (where her AI was not), but he didn't connect them until he heard the click of a lightsaber shaft against his armor and her thumb on the switch.
The Empire sent him to a world called Tatooine to find some missing assets. He found some soldiers instead. Not clones - at least he'd have some explanation for what was wrong with them if they were clones that had stayed in the vats too long, but this -
And so, Wash and Church and Caboose traveled.
Wash knew as soon as he saw Church, though, because you just can't hide midi-chlorians living in the wrong body. Church was the grand experiment. He was the Sith's desperate lunge toward immortality.
Church was the Alpha.
And then Wash was jailed for his work. He was stored like an AI.
The guard came for him with a blaster held close against his armored chest. "Call for you."
So Wash went, slowly shaking memory off by talking like he's a cohesive person. And he saw that face again, that Chairman who was trying to rein in a program he had been opposing for quite a long time.
The Chairman asked if Wash would like to help him.
Wash bowed and the hood of his cloak nearly hit the dusty floor. He closed his eyes and licked his lips. The air was cool and dusky-smelling. Wash had many masters but the one he was really bowing to was inside him, wasn't it: the same dragon that haunted him through the army and the Director and the Chairman.
This is how it feels to be Agent Washington, right now:
There is one dragon. Looking at you.
It says, without direction, I will be lost.
You can't be lost again.
(There were a lot of little losses: card games, road trips, blue light and the one day she told you to tear the letters out of her name because she was getting a new one. Like the Sith do.)
You're trying to remember a line from a rulebook.
The purpose of good is...
The purpose of good is...
What was it again?
And because you like rules, you like creeds and charts and numbers, you shy away from this unknown meaning of good.
Other meanings are much simpler.
Your meaning, right now, is to survive.
Wash tried. He fought South and what was left of Maine. He tried-
tried to do things in ways that didn't necessarily include blood on the ground.
There is no try.
"The dark one's Washington."