Title: Light Duty – Part 2
Characters: Captain Rex, Ahsoka Tano, Jar Jar Binks, Padmé Amidala
Genre: Friendship, Humor
Era: The Clone Wars
Summary: Set after Episode 18, Season 1; despite his protests, Rex is recruited to give Representative Jar Jar Binks basic firearms training during an assignment on Naboo. Ahsoka goes along for morale support, and to basically enjoy a lot of laughs at Rex's expense.
Author's Note: Once again, a big thanks to sachariah for taking a look at this before it went live! If you haven't read his fanfics, go read them!
The following afternoon, after another hilariously disastrous attempt at training the Gungan with marginal success, Rex was cleaning his blasters in an attempt to keep hold of his patience, sitting at the table in the common area of the rooms they'd been given, when Ahsoka entered with a grin.
"Jar Jar thinks you don't like him."
"Well I know that Rexster," she returned impishly. "You could try not to show it though."
"I'll take it under advisement, kid."
She giggled, plopping down into the chair across from him. "He is a handful, isn't he?"
It was an understatement that got her a snort.
Handful was a company of shinies who hadn't yet earned their names. Handful was a bunch of cadets who thought they knew better than the battle hardened officers who were training them. Handful was a bunch of thermal dets without override codes. He corralled his line of thinking. Jar Jar Binks was not a handful, as she'd put it; he was a mobile self destruct waiting for a place to happen. If he was as adept a politician as he was a shot, the Republic was in trouble if he was ever given any real power.
Ahsoka propped her chin on her hands, her elbows on the table as she watched him.
Minutes passed as he finished cleaning one blaster, reassembled it under her curious eye, oiling it lovingly before setting it aside and then disassembled the other. The routine helped calm him, mitigating his annoyance and irritation with his current assignment. She seemed to sense when he was ready to talk again.
He was currently checking the charging ports for damage and his meticulous care with the parts seemed to fascinate her.
"Why'd you go for dual blaster pistols instead of the heavier Deece?"
It was a welcome change in topic. "I'm ambidextrous," he replied as he tilted the chamber towards the light to get a better look, "seemed a shame to waste it."
Ahsoka watched as he ran a brush over the contacts with a practiced move. "Are all troopers ambidextrous?"
He glanced at her before sliding the brush across the middle and down the sides of the chamber. "No."
"How do you know?"
He looked at her then, folding the cloth around the delicate firing contacts and brush and placed the whole ensemble on the table. "It's not something that's a genetic certainty." It was something, though, that made him feel closer to his sire. Jango Fett had been ambidextrous and dual wielded pistols; Rex felt he honored the man whose DNA had given him life by making the best use of his talents and following his example.
"Like..." she glanced at his closely cut blonde hair inquisitively but was unwilling to ask the question or unsure how to phrase it inoffensively.
"Right; like hair and eye color. Clones though we may be, it's more the muscular and cognitive abilities that were copied. Everything else is just window dressing."
"Well, it's very pretty window dressing," she returned with an impish smile. "Aren't all Captains ambidextrous?"
"Some work to be," he told her, resuming his task but without looking at it; he could do it in his sleep. "I think we all have the potential to be proficient with both hands; some just come by it more naturally."
"Like how Master Skywalker can wield two sabers?" her eyes lit up, practically shining. "He borrowed mine the other day for practice; did you see?"
"I could hardly miss it; he was dead center in the medbay," Rex replied wryly; his General wasn't exactly a subtle man and, unlike most Jedi, enjoyed showing off a little. In this case, it had worked to boost the morale of those stuck in the medbay. It had, unfortunately, been immediately before their release and deployment on their currently assignment. "Haven't you ever seen a Jedi dual wield before?"
"I saw a holo once," she allowed, "but it wasn't the same thing."
"Do you think he'd teach me if I asked?"
"And give him another chance to show off?"
She giggled. "He is a bit of one, isn't he?"
"Understatement, kid," Rex agreed wryly, making her laugh again. "I think you'll never know unless you ask."
"True," her smile was impish. "Wanna come with me? You could give me pointers on grip like you do with the blasters."
"For a Jedi, you're not bad with one." His lips kicked into a half smile. "Once this assignment is done, we'll see what the General has planned next."
"Come on, Rexter!" She rolled her eyes. "Next time we see him is likely to be on a transport here and you know it."
So the kid had picked up on the General's unconventional friendship, or obsession, as Rex thought of it, with the Nabooian Senator. Good for her. "Do you plan to ask him the moment he lands?"
"If I'm there; wouldn't it be wizard if we could both dual wield?"
"Wizard?" he echoed the phrase, trying not to laugh; it would have been undignified. "Where did you hear that?"
"Skyguy said it once to Artoo; he didn't know I was around."
Rex couldn't help it; he snickered. It started as a chuckle at the mental image of his General saying it and progressed to a full blown, head back, gut aching, side splitting guffaw as he imagined Anakin saying something so absurd. The release was a welcome one, all of his frustrations with the mission boiling over into the ridiculousness of the circumstance.
Ahsoka waited, grinning at his amusement, until he'd calmed down. "Feel better?"
"Much," he agreed with a half-smile, feeling lighter, the tension of the last few days having eased somewhat. "I don't believe you, Commander; the General would never say something like that."
"Ah, but he said it to Artoo," she returned slyly. "And Artoo records everything."
"I still don't believe you," Rex assured her, sliding the pieces of his blaster back together with deliberately quick hand motions.
"If I can get that holo, will you come with me to ask Skyguy about dual saber training?"
"Kid, if you can get that holo," setting aside his second blaster, he grinned at her. "I'll not only go with you, but I'll owe you one too."
"Anything," he trusted her not to go overboard with whatever request she might make.
"Really?" Her eyes widened, her delight obvious. "Anything?"
Silence fell between them as Ahsoka contemplated what he was offering her.
But their discussion had set the tone for the rest of the night and, for the first time since landing to begin this mission, Rex slept well.
"I said concentrate, sir," Rex ordered the Gungan with a whip like crack of his voice.
Jar Jar was standing next to Ahsoka at the line, sighting down the twenty yards to the target, his tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth, his ears tied back so not to interfere with his vision and his fingers locked around a larger version of the training pistol he'd originally brought. Rex had found it after realizing Jar Jar's hands had been too big for the holdout blaster normally used and deliberately dialed down the bolt settings.
For the first time in his life, Rex found he was wishing target practice could be done with a stun bolt.
Rex watched closely as Jar Jar leaned into the blaster, visibly trying to focus on the target and squeezed the trigger, tensing as he waited for the inevitable kick back and trip. He was surprisingly disappointed when the blaster went off, Jar Jar compensating for the kick back, the blaster bolt firing off down the alley towards the target.
But, as the Gungan stepped back, his foot caught on a crack in the flagstones. He slipped with a yelp, throwing both hands into the air, dual bolts exiting the blaster at wild angles, forcing Rex to duck and Ahsoka to scramble aside. As Jar Jar hit the ground, the blaster went off again, the bolt zinging off a pillar, ricocheted and came arcing back at Ahsoka's back.
She reacted with blinding Jedi speed to drop his blaster pistol and pull her lightsaber, deflecting the bolt away. Ahsoka let out a surprised cry as one of the other stray bolts sliced in from above before she could turn to intercept it, and scored a smoking line along her forearm.
"That's it!" Gaining his feet, Rex stalked over and forcefully yanked the blaster out of the menace's hands, checking the settings. The low power he'd placed it too had been changed. Meaning the bolts that had just been sent Ahsoka's way had been potentially lethal. If she hadn't deflected the one or moved… "We're done; you're done. Get off my target range!"
Jar Jar blinked at the Captain. "Mesa no mean to-"
"That's the problem, sir," snapped Rex. "You never mean to and you almost do every time. No more; you're not getting a third chance. Out; we're done!"
"Rex, he didn't-"
"Stay out of this, Commander."
Ahsoka's sharply indrawn breath was processed somewhere in the back of his mind as there being hell to pay later, but his focus was on the dangerous Gungan.
As Jar Jar opened his mouth to protest, a blinding, icy rage like he'd never before felt overtook him as Rex reached the end of his tether. He'd done as asked; he'd attempted to train the Republic's worst suited Representative in warfare and failed. He'd put up with this nonsense, given his best, stood by stoically as he'd nearly been shot a half dozen times.
That slight movement of Jar Jar's lips was all it took.
Rex drew his remaining blaster pistol and pressed it against the Gungan's head, leveling a look on him that was pure murder. "Leave. Now."
Jar Jar squawked and scramble away, falling all over himself, practically running on all fours to escape as he bolted for the exit. "Mesa going, mesa going!"
Silence followed his departure for a half second before the sound of a body falling down stairs and the Gungan's distinctive cries ringing back to them. There was a moment of audible scrambling before another fall and another set of what had to be Gungan cures before it started to fade. Flipping the blaster to stun only as an afterthought, Rex waited until he couldn't hear Jar Jar anymore before lowering, but not holstering, it.
"Put the blaster away, Rex; he's gone."
Ahsoka's displeasure brought him around, one eye still on the archway, not trusting that the Gungan wouldn't come back. "I want to discourage his return, sir."
"Put it away, Captain," she told him firmly, her lightsaber already back on her belt, straightening from where she'd stooped to collect his other pistol. "Jar Jar isn't going to come back."
Reluctantly, Rex holstered the blaster, turning his attention fully her way, his gaze immediately narrowing in on the injury across her forearm. "You okay, kid?"
"It's a scratch, Rex," she told him with a roll of her eyes. "Don't you think you over reacted just a little?"
No; he didn't.
He'd acted with restraint.
If he'd overreacted, Jar Jar's brains would have been spattering the wall behind her. Instead of answering her directly, he flipped around Jar Jar's weapon and proffered it to her.
"I think we're done for the day; I don't-"
"Take a look at the power settings, Commander."
A note in his grim tone must have warned her he wasn't amused for she stepped towards him and looked as he'd instructed, her eyes widening. "Full power."
"Full power," Ahsoka's gaze game back to his, "I thought you said you were going to dial it down?"
They shared a look, Rex taking no pleasure in watching the truth of what had just occurred and what could have occurred blossoming in her gaze. "Then that… this…"
"Were full power blaster bolts without enough energy to land a killing blow." He lowered his arm. "If you hadn't-"
Her hands came up, cutting him off, the mark on her arm already starting to turn black. She'd likely have a new scar; not the most auspicious of stories, but anyone who knew Jar Jar would empathize. He most certainly would. He waited for a few moments to see if she'd said anything and, when she didn't, spoke up.
"Scratch or not, we should get that looked at, Commander."
Silently, she handed him back his blaster - properly he noted - before following him off the practice range and back into the palace. Holstering the blaster only once they'd hit the main floor, Rex scanned for any sign of the Gungan and was smugly pleased to find none.
Now to get Ahsoka some medical attention.
"I'd like you to explain yourself, Captain," Padmé's expression was displeased as she barged into the common area Rex was sharing with Ahsoka several minutes later. "What's this I hear about you pulling a blaster on a Representative of Naboo – and what happened, Ahsoka, are you all right?"
Rex didn't even glance up, though he could see Padmé's expression change from irritation to concern in a heartbeat. He didn't move from his task, keeping his fingers firmly locked about Ahsoka's wrist while the other hand applied a salve to her wound.
"I'm fine, Padmé," Ahsoka reassured the Senator with a smile, "Just a little training accident."
"Representative Binks shot her." Rex corrected immediately on the heels of her trying to brush it off. Her arm twitched in his grasp, but he didn't let her go as he reached for a bacta patch. "Hold still, kid; I'm almost done."
Padmé was silent for a moment before exhaling a loud breath. "So you pulled a blaster on him, Captain?"
"He wouldn't have left otherwise."
"If you'd simply asked-"
Rex's head came up, his expression dark. "He's had two free shots at the Commander, Senator; I wasn't going to give him another."
"A training bolt can't hurt-" she stopped herself, looking at the injury Rex was covering with the bacta patch. "That doesn't look like a training bolt."
There was silence for a minute, until Ahsoka broke the tension between he and Padmé. "Jar Jar must have accidentally flipped it back to normal power when he tripped."
"And shot you."
Ahsoka nodded, glancing his way.
"And what were you doing on the firing range?"
"Giving Representative Binks some competition," Rex supplied, finishing his task and finally releasing Ahsoka's arm. "Everyone should know the basics in wielding a blaster."
"I agree; are you any good, Ahsoka?"
"I'm not bad," the young Togruta cast a sly look his way. "Almost as handy with Rex's blasters as he is."
"She's a quick study," Rex agreed, addressing the Senator. He wouldn't go so far as to say Ahsoka was as good as he was, but she was certainly more proficient now than when she'd begun; scarily so. "But I wouldn't go that far."
Ahsoka shrugged. "I don't know if or when I'll ever use the skill, but it's nice to know I could if I had to."
"I'm glad to hear it wasn't a total waste then." Another sigh from the Senator; resigned this time, her anger seeming to have dissipated. "I take it you've not had much success with Jar Jar?"
"Representative Binks is as hopeless a cause as I stated upon my arrival. I-" he took a deep breath, head up, shoulders back and stated his case plainly. "I cannot train him any more than I already have."
It pained him to admit it, but there it was. He, Captain Rex, of the infamous five hundred and firsts Torrent Company, was incapable of training a clumsy Gungan.
"I can't say I'm surprised, Rex," Padmé empathized surprisingly. "Were you at least able to get him to hold it properly?"
"He can take it apart and put it back together with supervision," he held up his fingers, tapping off what he had been able to train the klutz on. "Without it, he's liable to put the tibanna gas chamber in backwards and blow himself and the blaster to pieces when trying to fire."
"Noted," her amusement was obvious. "What else?"
"He can hold it properly in the right stance!" Ahsoka interjected.
"If he concentrates." Rex quantified.
"Which is normal for Jar Jar," Padmé agreed. "Were you able to get him to fire and aim in the right direction at all?"
"Forty percent of the time he gets distracted easily and it throws off his concentration."
"A sixty percent success rate?" She sounded impressed. "Better results than I had hoped, Captain Rex."
"But less than I'm accustomed to getting."
"Jar Jar is not your typical recruit." Her smile was wry. "I'm told you've terminated his training."
"Are you sure you won't consider continuing for the last two days?"
"Yeah Rex, it could be fun!"
"I'm sorry Senator," he cast Ahsoka a quelling look; even she wouldn't sway him in this. "I've done everything I can with him." And if he shoots Ahsoka one more time…
The strength of his reaction to Ahsoka's injury struck him belatedly as excessive as the murderous intent which crossed his mind. He was a clone, bred and grown to get shot at. He and his brothers got shot at every day; their Commander, Ahsoka got shot at every day, yet this was somehow different.
Somehow, the thought of Jar Jar, of anyone, doing her harm, stuck in his chest like an inactive vibroknife – not unlike his visceral reaction to her collapse in the lab.
It shouldn't have affected him like it had; death was a part of life, of his life. An accepted risk and reality. She was a Jedi, a soldier - albeit a young one - and her life expectancy was only longer because of her connection to the Force and the lightsabre she bore.
It shouldn't have mattered that his Commander was facing death, only that she'd met it in the line of duty without hesitation.
He shouldn't have let his concern for Ahs- his Commanding Officer, interfere with his objectives. Shouldn't have put anyone's well being, hers especially, above the mission. His personal failure troubled him, turning his thoughts darker than they'd been before, analyzing without understand his disturbing actions and reactions to Commander Tano's plight – both on the range and in the lab.
In the end, with nothing in his experience to guide him, he came to one conclusion; it was done.
Rex was relieved to put the mission behind him but, for all he felt guilty for being unable to fulfill his task, he was glad to be rid of it.
"I understand Captain; better than you know." Padmé shook her head and approached where he was standing next to Ahsoka's chair. "Pulling a blaster on him aside, I can't thank you enough for having the patience to teach him what you could. I feel better knowing he's somewhat better prepared for the missions we'll be on."
"Respectfully, Senator, if you want to be prepared, bring along a couple of clones and leave the Gungan behind."
"I'll take it under advisement, Captain." She assured him, offering her hand. "Once you return to the Resolute, perhaps you can pick a couple of your brothers you think would be suited to the position on an… as needed basis."
"It would be my pleasure, Senator," he assured her, clasping, shaking and releasing her hand swiftly while offering her a nod. "Thank you."
"But Rex, what are we going to do with ourselves if we're not training Jar Jar?"
"What else, kid? You think you can out shoot me; you get to prove it."
True to her word, Padmé didn't hold Rex to the remainder of Jar Jar's training and his remaining time on Naboo was blessedly Jar Jar free. He and Ahsoka spent a good deal of their time on the shooting range, Padmé joining them on occasion when her schedule permitted, and proving to be an excellent shot.
When General Skywalker landed several days later to collect them, Ahsoka bounded up to her Master with the whole of her renewed vigor, a grin Rex feared would split her face and the exuberance he'd so missed, and asked the question that would, eventually, fundamentally change her fighting style forever.