Hang the Code
Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Heavy influence from episodes in seasons 3 and 4 with some inspiration from season 2.
When Ahsoka's ship reached the base on Coruscant, Jedi Knight and mentor Anakin Skywalker waited, hands clasped behind his back, ice blue eyes full of curiosity with a hint of worry creeping through. What had taken Ahsoka and Bonteri so long getting back? Mandalore wasn't that far. Had they been attacked? If so, why hadn't she called for help? The notion that Ahsoka would be irritated with his so-called "lack of faith in her" nudged the back of his mind like an annoying itch, one that he ignored.
The ship's hatch opened and Anakin's Togruta Padawan stepped out, walking the few steps it took to touch solid ground. Right away, Anakin knew something was off. Ahsoka's mental shields were slammed up tight and her walk was purposeful, completely business, not at all like her graceful, confident gait. Another thing that told the Knight was something was off; she had walked over to him alone.
Anakin's worry grew when he looked into Ahsoka's blue eyes and saw the pain and hurt that bled through, despite her efforts to keep him out of the loop. Something had indeed happened, something big. And he was determined to find out what. Anakin started off by asking the obvious. "Where's Bonteri?"
Immediately, he could sense Ahsoka fighting off the urge to both flinch and look away. Instead, she managed to keep her features schooled into a look of calm, her voice light yet clipped. "I'm sorry, Master, but Lux won't be joining us on Coruscant."
Anakin raised an eyebrow. "Is he all right?"
"As far as I know of," Ahsoka held up a hand to keep him from pressing her as she continued. "Lux took the escape pod. He said he needed to find his own way, to get closure for his mother's death, but that the Republic couldn't help him."
"So he's returning to the Separatists?" Anakin asked.
His Padawan shook her head. "No, he's defected from them." A light, almost amused smile played about her lips. "And given from the display the Separatists displayed at the Senate meeting on Mandalore, I'm inclined to believe it." She looked at Anakin. "Did Senator Amidala contact you to say negotiations had resumed?"
Anakin couldn't help himself. "Senator Amidala?"He blurted. "Inclined to believe? Who are you and what have you done with Snips? Give her back."
Ahsoka's smile became wry, but the sadness in her eyes remained. Her master's own blue eyes narrowed. "What happened, Ahsoka?" His hands involuntarily curled into fists and his voice became soft, yet edged with a deadly threat that belonged to all protective parental types. "Did Bonteri do something to you? Physically? Verbally? Tell me."
Her eyes grew wide with alarm. "Master, no!" She waved her hands about in denial. "Lux didn't do anything to me!" Anakin sensed Ahsoka stamping out a memory, he tried with futility to grasp it, but it slipped through his Force-infused illusory fingers like a smoky tendril.
His Padawan smiled, one that showed that she was maybe slowly returning to her normal self in all her snippy glory. "Besides Skyguy, I may be a female teen, but I'm also a female Jedi. I have two light sabers and the Force on my side. Even if I were ordinary, I'd be able to handle myself."
Still, Anakin pushed, "You sure you're alright?"
Ahsoka nodded, though the spark that had flared into her eyes was dimming. "I'm fine, Skyguy. Just tired. The trip was long." She managed to offer a smirk. "What with that jailbreak for Lux in the beginning." Without waiting for his permission, Ahsoka slipped past her master and walked toward the temple.
Ahsoka walked slowly, feeling as though she was moving through a haze. In an effort to keep pretenses up, she smiled, nodded and bowed to every youngling, Knight and Master who passed her by. Once she reached her room, the fearless Padawan slipped inside and flung herself face-down onto her bed. Force, this was hard. She hadn't been back on Coruscant for more than a standard hour and already she felt so fake. She knew she was lying. To herself, to her Master.
Ahsoka refused to give into the despair she was trying so hard to suppress. It was like she had told Anakin, she was a Jedi, and much better at following-most of-the Code than he was. She flipped onto her back, suddenly feeling restless. There was no room, no time for concerning oneself with people outside of the Order. That's what she had been taught ever since her days as an Initiate. She let out a soft snort, tell that to the green-grey eyes she just couldn't get out of her mind.
Lux Bonteri, former Senator, former Separatist, an annoying yet endearing boy that was just so…so…so…
Ahsoka frowned, exhaustion coming out of nowhere and beating away her restlessness. She didn't know what, but there was something about him that was just so. And whatever it was, that coupled with the fact that he was out there somewhere doing who knows what…
"Careful not to choke on your stupidity."
…Made her heart ache and drove her crazy.
A knock on her door caused her to shoot up in her bed. "Snips?" Anakin called. "You okay?"
Ahsoka should have known he wouldn't have left her to her own devices for very long. She frowned. How could she not have sensed him? Was she so confused and so obsessed with why she felt that way that her guard had been knocked down to almost nothing?
She forced herself to pour some humor into her voice. "I'm fine, Skyguy." She called back. "I told you, I was tired."
She resisted the urge to roll her eyes when her Master entered her room anyway. He sat down on a chair a stride's length away from her bed. "You're hurting, Ahsoka," Anakin said gently. "I can feel it and the pain seems to run much deeper than those bruises you're sporting."
Ahsoka pressed her lips together. She wasn't ready to talk, not yet. Not until some of her questions were answered and her feelings had settled. She decided to push Anakin toward another direction. "If you really want to know, Master, why not just ask Artoo? I'm sure he has all of the details."
A small half-smile formed on his face. "I doubt Artoo has all of the answers." He leaned back in the chair as he tried to prod at her thoughts and get some sort of inkling to what happened. Yet once again, he couldn't get through. Those mental shields were stubborn. Anakin let out a silent sigh, sometimes he felt as if he had taught his Padawan a little too well.
He tried another approach. "I can't help you, if you don't let me in, Snips."
"Maybe I don't need your help," came her soft retort. "Maybe I don't want it."
Anakin couldn't help but flash back to that awful time on Mortis. Ahsoka had been kidnapped by the Son, an entity of the Force, one who had been content to walk his path within the Dark side whilst trying to lure Anakin to join him. The Son had somehow infected, poisoned Ahsoka with the Dark energies of the Force. Her eyes had become yellow and her voice was filled with an arrogant confidence bolstered by a cruel sneer.
"I don't need you anymore."
Anakin shook his head. Ahsoka wasn't like that, it had all been an evil influence controlling her like a marionette. It had taken both Anakin and the Daughter to cut her free. The Padawan sitting in front of him wasn't trying to push him away because she viewed him as someone in her way, but because she was a teenager who craved independence and wanted to carve out her own path to find the answers before she went back and asked anyone for help. He held back a laugh. Force, how many times had he done that to Obi-Wan when he was her age?
"Having some profound thoughts there?" Anakin blinked before looking at Ahsoka. She smirked. "You were silent, Master and your eyes were beginning to glaze."
The Jedi Knight smiled as he skirted around her question and brought their conversation back to their debate. "You win, Snips. I'll drop the topic of Bonteri." Here, his gaze became pointed. "For now." He stood. "If you need me, I'll either be in the hangar or in one of the training rooms." When he received a nod from Ahsoka, he left.
Ahsoka laid back on her bed and stared up at her ceiling. Her master had just left her alone with her thoughts. Thoughts of Lux. Ahsoka idly wondered just how dangerous that might be. She felt as though two different sides of her were fighting for control of her body. The romantic and painfully all too ordinary side of her had raising a hand toward her lips when her rational Jedi side grasped that hand and forced it down to her hip.
That kiss, that blasted kiss. The one that she was never meant to have received, the one that was simply a means for cover. Yet it didn't feel like it. Yes, Ahsoka had shoved him away and managed to shoot him an annoyed glare when he struggled to answer the leader of Death Watch's question of what they were doing, but her lips had tingled and her heart had pounded all the same.
Come to think of it, Ahsoka was still experiencing those sensations, but something told her it wasn't due to fear. Her mind involuntarily flashed back to those green-grey eyes that had locked onto hers when they were on Mandalore and that small smile of his that had appeared to be only directed towards her. Ahsoka's hand flexed as she recalled the feel of Lux's gloved hand slipping into hers, the grasp tightening as they-
Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Nothing can happen between you two!
Ah, and just when she thought her Jedi side wouldn't win this round.
Ahsoka brought her hands to her temples, she was developing a headache from her internal struggle. It wasn't good for a Jedi to keep his or her emotions bottled up. Yet these were emotions Ahsoka knew she couldn't simply release into the Force, to do that would mean becoming an empty shell so to speak, most likely forgetting about just what and who caused those feelings.
She exhaled as she thought about who she could possibly go to for guidance. Her Master was out of the question. It wasn't that Ahsoka didn't trust Anakin, she trusted the man with her very life-well, with the exception of nearly all the times she had flown with him as the pilot, the Ahsoka was absolutely certain that her life was in danger-it was just that this was going to be a discussion of attachment and Anakin was either going to give her vague, partial answers or tease her about it. Frankly, the Togruta teen wasn't in the mood for either possibility.
Master Kenobi was out as well. Though she greatly respected Anakin's former Master, he was far too rational and perfectly aloof to allow an attachment, with the exception being Anakin himself of course. Not that Master Obi-Wan didn't care, it was more of the fact that he knew how to maintain a barrier between professionalism and friendship, something that he excelled at, whereas Ahsoka struggled to simply put that barrier up let alone maintain it.
There were days however, when her own master seemed to take pleasure at hinting at otherwise when it came to the member of the Jedi council.
Ahsoka mulled over the thought of going to one of the two female Jedi with whom she associated with the most. There was Barris Offee, a fellow Padawan of Mirialan heritage who was one of Ahsoka's closest friends. She was what most Jedi Knights held in regard as the "Ideal Padawan", she followed the Code to the letter and was completely selfless, willing to sacrifice herself even if it wasn't necessary, something that Ahsoka proved to her twice.
"It doesn't matter what happens to us now, all that matters is that we've saved countless lives elsewhere."
"Kill me, please."
But it was that selflessness, wasn't it, that would prove that Barris didn't have attachments and probably didn't even come close to ever having one.
Jedi Knight Luminara Unduli was Ahsoka's next option, yet she was Barris's Master which meant that she too was one who followed the Code with practical perfection and was also selfless. She cared greatly for her Padawan yet when that weapons factory had collapsed on both Barris and Ahsoka, she had been too certain that all was lost for the apprentices, something that she herself proved by simply telling Ahsoka that Anakin had never lost faith in her despite the dire circumstances.
It wasn't as if Ahsoka could turn to the other female Jedi younglings, most of them swooned over her master. Not that Anakin was bad looking, even she could admit that he was handsome, but honestly the man was practically her father and the thought that girls found him-ugh, she couldn't believe she was sinking to this level-drool worthy was enough to make her nauseous.
Ahsoka sighed, well it seemed that there really wasn't anyone within the Order she could go to for advice on attachments. She supposed she could go to Master Yoda, after all he was the Grand Master and most likely the wisest one in the universe! Ahsoka let out a sharp bark of laughter, the sound completely deprived of humor, a motion done just to relieve some tension.
That was it, it was time to talk to someone outside of the Order and Ahsoka knew just who that someone was. The one who introduced her to that irritating and admittedly endearing boy in the first place. Senator Padme Amidala.
"Anakin, we should stop before I wind up lopping off your head," Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi sighed with exasperation as he deactivated his light saber.
Anakin rolled his eyes. "Oh come on, Master. My moves were not that sloppy."
"True," Obi-Wan conceded. "However you are proving to be most distracted. I have a feeling asking this question will prove to be pointless, but is everything all right?"
The young Jedi Knight longed to able to tell Obi-Wan that yes, everything was indeed all right, that all of his missions had been executed with little to no error, that the Twilight had been having nothing but smooth voyages and that his Padawan was doing just fine. Aside from the fact that all of this would have meant that he wouldn't be Anakin Skywalker without those problems, it was the last item on his mental list that was troubling him.
"I'm worried about Ahsoka," Anakin admitted quietly.
His former raised an eyebrow. "What has given you cause to worry about her?"
Anakin gave a nearly imperceptible shrug, the only sign of helplessness he was willing to display. "Something happened when she was traveling back to Coruscant. It's hurting her emotionally. Badly." His ice blue eyes darkened to storm clouds. "I know Lux Bonteri has something to do with it."
Obi-Wan was silent for a minute, musing. "Lux Bonteri? Isn't that the name of the son of the late Separatist Senator Mina Bonteri?" When he received a nod from his former Padawan, he continued. "I know Ahsoka's views on the Separatists, why would she be talking with a boy from that side of the political spectrum?"
Anakin gave a wry smile. "She met him when she had accompanied Padme on a Senatorial mission. Needless to say he changed some of her views." His voice became hardened. "They met again during the peace negotiations on Mandalore, she was escorting him here to Coruscant, but something on the way happened that caused him to leave on the escape pod and her returned to me with damage to herself other than mere bruises."
Obi-Wan looked concerned. "You don't suppose he took advantage of her, do you?"
Anakin shook his head. "I don't know what to think, her mental shields are impermeable. However, I don't think she was taken advantage of. She told me she wasn't and I trust her." He managed a smirk. "Besides, if that was the case, it would have been an attempt that ended with Ahsoka very angry and most likely dragging Bonteri's unconscious form behind her."
As Obi-Wan absorbed all of this, his expression changed from concerned to wary. He was silent as he arranged the proper words to his next query, knowing he would have to broach this subject carefully. "Anakin," the Jedi Master began quietly. "Do you think it's possible that Ahsoka has formed an attachment to this boy?"
Anakin frowned, eyebrows drawing together as his muscles tightened in that familiar protective feeling. It wasn't as if he could race off, find Bonteri and give him a piece of his mind when it came to his Padawan. Instead, he tried for a different approach. Denial.
"No." Anakin shook his head. "No. Ahsoka, attached? To Bonteri?" He chuckled. "Come on, Master, be serious, she's only been around the kid twice. It's impossible to become attached to someone that quickly."
Obi-Wan shot him a pointed look. "Oh, really?"
Anakin made sure to keep his features arranged in a look of calm. He knew he had to tread lightly here. "Yes, really. And I refuse to believe that Ahsoka has an attachment to Bonteri."
His former master rolled his eyes. "Come now, Anakin, we've both dealt with attachment...complications. You and I both know that."
A smirk graced the Knight's face as mischief came into his blue eyes. "Oh," he drawled in an overly casual voice. "So you finally admit to your feelings for both Siri and Duchess Satine?" He held back a laugh as Obi-Wan glared at him.
"I am not even going to dignify that question with the sort of response I know you want," Obi-Wan retorted, bristling slightly.
Anakin was about to fake a frown and accuse his longtime friend of not being fun when he sensed an additional presence in the room. One who he was relieved to sense. "Hey, Snips," he greeted, whirling around to face his Padawan.
Ahsoka gave a small smile as she regarded the two elder Jedi. "Hey, Skyguy, Master Kenobi."
"Hello, Ahsoka," Obi-Wan greeted. "I hear from Anakin that you had an interesting voyage back to Coruscant."
Ahsoka maintained her smile. Interesting was certainly one way of putting it. She nodded before looking over at her master. "Master, I just wanted to inform you that I was on my way to see Senator Amidala. I think she should be informed that Lux will not be joining the Republic, much less staying on Coruscant."
Anakin's smile was teasing, "You know, Snips, you didn't need to come find me, you could've just contacted me."
His apprentice shrugged. "I left my comm link in my room."
"And what about going to see Padme in person?" Anakin questioned. "You could have also contacted her."
Ahsoka was careful as she answered him. "I have some political based questions and who better to ask than a Senator? Padme is the only one I know who is willing and patient enough to give me a thorough answer." Her smile grew wider. "After all, she was the one to give me my first lesson in politics anyway. We can't be too skewed with our opinions of this war. I thought it was necessary for a Jedi to remain neutral."
"It's necessary for a Jedi to be mindful of both sides of the war," Obi-Wan inferred. "You are correct, young one. This also means that it is beneficial for a Jedi to not become so clouded with emotions and judgment. I am very impressed with the growth of your diplomatic skills."
At the sound of his former master's words, Anakin couldn't help but swell with pride for his Padawan, yet before he could comment, much less give her permission to go see Padme, Ahsoka interjected, confusion on her face.
"If we're not to be clouded with judgment, then why have we been taught, er, trained to constantly fight the Separatists and they fight us?"
"I think that's going to have to be one of the questions you should address to Padme," Anakin said.
Ahsoka still looked unsure. "I guess so."
A lop sided smile graced Anakin's face. "Come now, Snips. Didn't you just say that Padme was the best one to give you the answers you're seeking?" When Ahsoka nodded, he continued. "I think you should then go see her." His expression then became firm. "And afterward, we're going to have that talk like I said we would earlier."
"Yes, Master," Ahsoka sighed. She headed for the door, yet before she left the room, she turned back and looked at Obi-Wan. "Master, forgive me for listening in, but when I was about to come in here, I heard you and Skyguy talking about attachments, I was just wondering, is it possible to," She really hoped her voice sounded casual. "To break an attachment? I mean, if one happened to be formed," she hastily added.
Obi-Wan frowned slightly. While it was far from welcomed and never encouraged, it wasn't altogether impossible for a Jedi to form an attachment. Obi-Wan himself had experienced this twice over and unfortunately it was something Anakin liked to occasionally lord over his head. Yet it was done to merely tease him, not as a threat to turn him in. The Jedi Master wondered why if Ahsoka had such a question, did she not go to her own mentor to ask.
On second thought, perhaps Anakin wasn't the best choice.
Especially if the fact that Ahsoka had indeed formed an attachment to Lux Bonteri was taken into consideration, Anakin would more than likely go on some sort of protective rant and confuse the child even more. And judging from the suspicious look on Anakin's face, Obi-Wan guessed that his theory wasn't that far off. Then again, Ahsoka had asked how to break an attachment.
He finally spoke, "Emotions are a difficult thing to understand, quite an anomaly really. They are what drive us in life and as Jedi we are taught from the beginning to carefully pick and choose out emotions, the ones that will help us and which ones to stay away from because they will lure you to the Dark side. Attachments are out of our control for they are formed subconsciously. But to break an attachment by forcing feelings to fade away?" Obi-Wan shook his head. "I'm afraid I don't know whether or not that's possible without being detrimental to someone's life."
"Attachments are stuck with ya, Snips," Anakin put in wryly. His voice grew soft. "Even after that person you're attached to is gone."
"I...see," Ahsoka replied softly. She looked at her mentor out of the corner of her eye. He seemed sad, almost distressed, blue eyes trying to hold back a pain that had been there for far too long and didn't seem to be going away anytime soon.
Ahsoka struggled to find the proper words of comfort when just as quickly as it came, the pain in Anakin's eyes vanished and a smile returned. "Snips, did Obi-Wan answer your question?" He asked.
His Padawan looked thoughtful. "I think so." Anakin could see the truth was otherwise, there was still so much confusion in her eyes. A slight grin made its way onto Ahsoka's face. "I still want to go see Padme."
"All right," Anakin conceded. "But if she's busy, don't bother her. Just come back here." Ahsoka fought off the urge to roll her eyes and chime "Duh!", merely nodding and left.
There was silence for a moment before Obi-Wan broke it. "Still think Ahsoka does not have an attachment to that boy?"
Obi-Wan chuckled. "Anakin, you've entrenched yourself in denial."
"I know," he groaned.
Ahsoka shifted, slightly nervous as she stood outside Padme's apartment. The talk she had with both Skyguy and Obi-Wan did little to help her. From what she had gathered, attachments were something that couldn't always be avoided, but it was best not to dwell on them. She felt as though she was stuck in one point and couldn't move. If she was to be honest with herself, Ahsoka realized that she was afraid. Afraid that this attachment ran much deeper, would she be pulled to the Dark side? All because of some boy? With whom she had only interacted with twice? According to the Jedi code it seemed so.
Ahsoka exhaled heavily, forcing herself to relax. If there was anyone she felt like she could go to for answers and guidance when it came to something as confusing and complex as this, it was Padme. She took another breath before knocking on the Senator's door, hoping fervently that she was home, all the better to clear her muddled mind and avoid that otherwise inevitable chat with her master.
She needn't have worried, for a minute later, the door opened revealing the Senator herself the happy look on her face when she first saw who her guest was, morphed into one of concern. "Ahsoka, what's wrong?" Padme asked as she drew the child into her apartment. "Where's Lux?"
Ahsoka sighed. "He took the escape pod that came with the cruiser we were on and left. He insisted that the Republic couldn't help him, not like his first plan was much better," she mumbled.
"First plan?" Padme asked, her concern growing. "Ahsoka, what happened? Did Lux place you in some kind of danger?"
"No!" Ahsoka was quick to defend. "Well, yes. Sort of..."
"Sort of?" The Senator echoed.
"I mean, it wasn't Lux's intention for me to get into danger, I kind of stumbled into it. Besides, I'm a Jedi," she laughed weakly. "When are we not in danger?"
Padme didn't look convinced. She went over to sit on her couch and motioned for Ahsoka to join her. "I'm afraid you're going to have to tell me the whole story. Did you even tell Anakin?"
Ahsoka shook her head, silka beads gently tapping her lekku. "No, there's...kind of a lot to tell. Parts that would make him concerned and might cause him to be irrational," she paused and rolled her eyes. "Then there was something that has confused me and left me a little scared." She hung her head and spoke her next words in a rush. "Padme, I think I broke the code."
"What do you mean?" Padme's brow furrowed. "An attachment? Well, I suppose that's possible given how fast you and Lux became friends when you met him on Raxus." She smiled lightly, teasingly. "And that friendship was apparent with those stars in his eyes when he saw you again on Mandalore."
Ahsoka returned the smile wistfully, eyes that she swore made her heart skip a beat.
"I think you should start explaining what happened by telling me what happened after you had run off after him during the negotiation," Padme said.
"Sorry about that, by the way," Ahsoka replied sheepishly, but Padme waved her apology away. The teen began her tale. "When I had found the chamber Lux had been dragged to, I heard Count Dooku give the orders to have him killed. I forced my way into the room and destroyed the droids that were about to shoot him and got us out of there. We were still under fire by other droids we encountered, yet managed to escape. Not a minute after we had boarded the ship, Master Skywalker called, telling me what you had told him. I told him we were en route to Coruscant, but apparently Lux had other plans, insisting that the Republic could not help him with finding justice for his mother's death." Both Ahsoka and Padme winced. Padme, at the sudden reminder of her friend's death; Ahsoka, because she was sorry for abruptly mentioning it.
She went on. "I was insistent that going to Coruscant was the right choice and that he couldn't accomplish his mission on his own. I'm the fighter and he's the politician, I thought I was right." She laughed humorlessly. "Lux thought otherwise and used a taser to shock me into unconsciousness." Padme gasped, but didn't interrupt.
"He took control of the ship and when I awoke, I learned that we had landed on a planet called Carlacc and that Lux had taken my light sabers and hidden them. Luckily Artoo, who was with us, found them, but in the meantime I learned that Lux had aligned himself with Death Watch."
This time, Padme did interrupt. "Death Watch?" She cried. "That is a group of Mandalorian terrorists! What was that boy thinking endangering the two of you like that? You especially, Ahsoka! You're a Jedi!"
"He thought they were the quickest way to taking down Dooku," Ahsoka replied calmly. "As for hiding the fact that I'm a Jedi..." she trailed off, the blue stripes of her lekku brightening, a sign of embarrassment as she recalled her facade.
"I'm...his betrothed!" Thick black eyelashes fluttered flirtatiously over large blue orbs as she gave a subtle, nearly imperceptible nod. A silent signal to go with the lie. He did.
"...I said I was his fiancée." Padme bit down on a smile, knowing that if it wasn't such an inappropriate time, she would have laughed.
"And did Death Watch take your word for it?" she asked.
Ahsoka looked away as she nodded. "Lux 'proved' it to them. He uh, um..." The stripes brightened even further. "He kissed me," she confessed, voice almost girlishly breathy.
"He kissed you?" Padme exclaimed, happy for her friend, until she remembered the situation at hand. One, that kiss had been for cover, although judging from the look in Ahsoka's eyes, it hadn't felt like a lie, for either one of them. Two, kissing a Jedi was certainly a no-no. No wonder Ahsoka hadn't said a word to Anakin. He felt like his Padawan was his child and had told this to Padme herself. Even if the kiss had been done to protect Ahsoka from the wrath of the terrorists, Anakin still wouldn't be happy about it.
Padme cleared her throat, composing herself. "Then what happened?"
"The leader of Death Watch ordered one of subordinates to take me from tent we were in to one where they kept their prisoners. Eventually they showed their true colors." Ahsoka paused, closing her eyes against the pain of remembering Tryla's murder.
"I couldn't stand by as they tormented this village they had taken hostage and my identity as a Jedi was exposed. I was nearly executed yet Artoo had rescued me. I dueled the leader managing to disarm him and escaped with Artoo and Lux. We had to shake off a few of the pursuing members of Death Watch but we reached the ship. I thought we were finally going to Coruscant but once again, Lux had other plans. That's when he took the escape pod and left."
"And took your heart with you," Padme surmised in a soft voice.
Ahsoka froze, eyes wide. "Wait...love? You...you think I love him? Lux?" She laughed with an incredulous trill. "No, no. Absolutely not. I...I can't!"
"It would explain why you think you broke the Jedi code," the Senator pointed out gently.
"But..." Ahsoka felt helpless as she tried to find both a witty and valid rebuke.
"I don't think love can be helped."
"That's what both Anakin and Master Obi-Wan said," Ahsoka grumbled as she slouched against the couch.
Padme smiled. "Well, they're right." She gently clasped the teen's hand. "Emotions are powerful and more often than not they are out of our control. Sadness, anger, those we can fight. But happiness? Love? Those are too difficult to fight."
"But I am a Jedi," Ahsoka was beginning to get desperate. "Love is forbidden! Big time!" She let out a sound that sounded more like a sob than a sigh. "I can't be in love, Padme. You have to be wrong. It's too strong an emotion to release into the Force and I'm worried that I'd be empty without it." She blinked then wailed. "Oh, kriff, that's love, isn't it?"
"Yes it is," Padme conceded. "And you're right, it's a part of you, but Ahsoka, that's not a bad thing."
Ahsoka slumped against Padme's shoulder. "I feel like I'm two different people. There's a me that's a Jedi and the me that's the typical teenage girl."
The Senator stroked one of Ahsoka's lekku. "Do you think you're the only Jedi to feel that way?"
"No," Ahsoka mumbled. "I think my master might have some attachment issues. Not to this extent. I feel so alone."
Padme ached to tell Ahsoka that she certainly wasn't alone, that Anakin understood all too well what she was feeling, however it wasn't her place to tell the Padawan, it was Anakin's. "I think you need to talk to your Master," she suggested kindly.
"I can't," Ahsoka murmured.
"It's not like he's going to banish you to your room," Padme laughed. Though he just might, she silently considered.
"First he's going to lecture me," Ahsoka predicted. "Then he's going to make fun of me for the next standard month."
Another laugh escaped Padme. That certainly sounded like Anakin. "You need to trust that Anakin will be there for you and that he truly does understand what you're going through." She shifted, lifting Ahsoka's chin so she met her eyes. "Anakin cares about you and he doesn't want to see you get hurt. But you're already hurting so trust him to help you put the pieces back together, okay?"
"Okay," Ahsoka whispered. She hesitated before continuing with another whisper. "Don't tell the Council...?"
"Don't tell them?" Padme repeated. "Why would-" She was startled as Ahsoka threw herself against her. Oh, that a Jedi is hugging a Senator. Smiling, she wrapped her arms around the teen. "Everything's going to be okay. Maybe not now, but it will get better over time. You just have to let those who care about you help you." She leaned away, still smiling. "You need to go to Anakin. Especially since I have the feeling he's going to come knocking down my door demanding to know how you're doing because he'll be that worried."
Ahsoka rolled her eyes. "Yeesh, I don't need to wonder what it's like having a father. Anakin answers that question."
Padme laughed. "That does seem to be true."
Ahsoka stood, Padme following suit. "Thanks for putting up with me," she said as the two walked to the door.
The Senator rolled her eyes. "You needed to vent, it's no problem." She hesitated before continuing, "I think sometimes it's best to find other ways of letting go of your negative emotions instead of relying solely on the Force."
Ahsoka nodded before being compelled to add, "So long as they aren't stupid or violent means of action."
Padme smirked, "Exactly." She opened the door for Ahsoka and gave a mock "hurry it up" gesture. "All right young lady, off with you. Go find Anakin and talk to him."
"Okay," Ahsoka agreed. She stepped through the doorway and turned back to grin at Padme. "Better to get my lecture of the century over with now than later,"
Another eye roll from the Senator. "Right."
"Bye Padme!" Ahsoka called as she headed down the corridor.
"Good-bye, Ahsoka," Padme replied before closing her door.
It didn't take long for Ahsoka to locate her master. Following their Force empowered bond, she found him in the hangar, studying the ship she, Artoo and Lux had been on. Boarding, she saw the specifics were revealed, he was studying the navigation computers. Echuta. She knew she should have erased that history.
"So you decided to do a little self investigating after all?" She queried lightly.
"Carlacc?" Anakin asked in an equally light voice, not bothering to turn around. "I know that both Carlacc and Coruscant start with 'C' but I taught you well, you wouldn't mix up coordinates."
Ahsoka silently let out a rush of breath. No matter how prepared she was, she knew this conversation wouldn't be easy. "Master," her voice was soft. "It wasn't me who put in those coordinates." Inwardly she grimaced. Wonderful Ahsoka, throw your friend under the metaphoric speeder, why don't you?
"So he kidnapped you," Anakin concluded, voice dark.
She tried to lighten the situation. "It's not like he was after me, Skyguy. He just needed the ship."
Anakin turned around. "He took you somewhere and it was not of your own volition. Snips, that's called kidnapping, regardless of what he needed."
She sighed, "Yes, Master."
The aforementioned master eyed her healing bruises, they were just adding fuel to the fire and began to make him truly believe that Obi-Wan's concern of her being taken advantage of wasn't an impossibility. He shook his head. He knew better. He knew his Padawan better than anyone else, she wouldn't have let something like that happen to her. Still, a kernel of doubt blossomed in the back of his mind and a voice whispered, right?
"What happened, Ahsoka?" Anakin asked. "What kind of trouble did he drag you into?"
Ahsoka pressed her lips together as she thought of the best way to launch into her explanation. Why was it easier to tell Padme what had happened versus telling her own master? Padme's words echoed in her mind. "You need to trust him. He'll understand."
Sensing Anakin's impatience, Ahsoka began with a question. "Do you remember Senator Mina Bonteri?"
"I've heard of the late Senator," Anakin acknowledged. "But I didn't know her personally."
"Do you remember that she was killed?" At Anakin's nod, she continued. "Lux showed up at the peace negotiations decrying the Separatists and declaring that it had been Count Dooku who had orchestrated his mother's murder. A move that had nearly gotten him killed."
"Naturally, you rescued him," Anakin interrupted with a proud and somewhat teasing smile.
Ahsoka looked at him warily...Did he know...?
Her master rolled his eyes. "I could tell you two were friends because you were so quick to brush off his apology he had made earlier." He grew serious again. "Now tell me how you wound up on Carlacc."
The Padawan bit her lip before answering in a whisper. "Lux shocked me with a taser and I lost the battle with consciousness." She watched as Anakin tensed, but like Padme, stayed silent. "When I came to, I saw that Lux had taken the ship as well as Artoo and myself to Carlacc. I also saw that he felt the need to liberate me of my light sabers. I didn't know why until I had disembarked and earned that he had aligned himself with Death Watch."
And just like Padme, Anakin chose that moment to interrupt. "I'm sorry, but did you say Death Watch?" Unlike Padme's outburst however, his voice was lower, softer and in Ahsoka's opinion, scarier. She nodded slowly.
"What the kriff was that boy thinking?" he growled. "He could've gotten you all killed!"
Ahsoka became irritated, there was that lack of faith in her again. As if reading her mind, Anakin looked at her with a touch of exasperation. "It's not a lack of faith, Snips," he insisted. "It's called concern."
Ahsoka managed a small smile. "I was concerned too."
"Yeah, I can imagine," Anakin replied wryly. "So how did you manage to survive as a Jedi in the presence of those terrorists?"
His apprentice looked away. "Oh," she began in her best nonchalant voice. "I had a cover story. I, uh...told them I was...Lux's fiancée."
"And they bought it?" Anakin's voice was devoid of emotion. It was a viable excuse, but that he didn't mean he had to like that she had said that.
Ahsoka maintained her casual front. "Well, one them thought I was a little skinny, not like I was going to apologize for having a fast metabolism. But other than that yeah. I mean, the leader kept referring to me as Lux's woman," she rolled her eyes.
Anakin frowned. "It all seems a little too easy," he said. "There's no way that you would so easily be accepted as Lux's betrothed without prior contact. I've dealt with Death Watch before, I know how they are."
"Well, maybe they've changed," Ahsoka suggested, uneasy at what might have to come up. "Maybe they've mellowed out."
Anakin shot her a suspicious glance. "Any possibility Lux had a ring on him that he gave to you?"
Wanting to lie, she inwardly growled as her body disobeyed her and her head shook in the negative. Her voice was the next to rebel. "We did manage to prove it however."
Ahsoka glanced around frantically, looking for a place to hide. She silently cursed Lux for taking the escape pod, that would've been ideal! Apparently her mental shields had long since weakened since she felt the familiar tingling sensation that came when her master probed her thoughts. "Ahsoka..." Force, she couldn't stand that "last warning" tone!
"He...he kissed me," she revealed.
Anakin was silent, absorbing her words. So Lux had kissed Ahsoka. Of course, it was for cover, but that one sentence alone explained everything. Why she was so guarded when she returned to Coruscant, why there was hurt in her eyes that bled through the shields she had put up. And why she was terrible at feigning casual interest when asking Obi-Wan about breaking attachments. Obi-Wan was right. Ahsoka had formed one to Lux Bonteri.
Then again, it probably wasn't that simple. The kiss alone couldn't have been the only answer. Anakin had said they interacted twice. Their time together must have caused feelings that ran deeper than any mere kiss could have ignited. That pain came from missing him and of course Anakin knew, understood, how she felt.
He just wished it wasn't Ahsoka, his Padawan, to be the one to have an attachment. At least not until she was a Knight. No, even then Anakin wouldn't be happy about it. She may not be under his guardianship at that point in the future, but he'd still see her as such.
Unbidden, a memory of a passing comment Obi-Wan had once said came to the forefront of his mind. "I don't think you realize how alike the two of you have become." Well, he had a clear idea now.
Ahsoka was getting antsy. She had just told her master of all people that Lux, a former Separatist had kissed her, a Jedi. He had been silent for far too long for her liking. "Master?" She asked, tentatively.
Anakin knew the question before she asked, answering it. "I'm...not exactly thrilled...that you formed an attachment, but I know it would be hypocritical of me to scold you for it. The better question is, are you okay?"
"I'm still confused," Ahsoka admitted. "And a little scared. I think it's attachment, but...Padme thinks it's love." She winced, waiting for Anakin's yell.
"Unfortunately, I think it's love too," Anakin replied. She shot him a desperate look. "Snips, relax. Breathe. It's something you don't need to lose your sanity over. It'll be okay, so long as you don't obsess over him and remember to focus the task on hand and that we're at war, you can live with it." He managed a cocky smile. "Plus, you can count on me to not rat you out to the Council."
"Padme said if there was anyone who understood, it would be you," she looked up at him through her eyelashes, the best way she could hide.
Oh how Anakin wished to go the easy, if not cowardly way and deflect that belief to Obi-Wan. He understood too and he'd handle it with diplomatic thoroughness. However Anakin was the master in this partnership and Ahsoka was his Padawan. She'd been open with him, it was his turn to be open with her.
"Master?" He looked at the teen. "Does whoever caused you that pain that was in your eyes have anything to do with this?"
"My mother," Anakin answered quietly. "I'm not sure if you heard, but when I came to the temple with Master Obi-Wan, I was nine. I had a long time with my mother, far longer than any youngling has ever been granted. I missed her everyday and was plagued with visions telling me that her life was in danger." His mouth formed a grim line. "By the time I returned to her, it was too late. She passed away in my arms."
Ahsoka did her best not to cry. Why was there so much tragedy in the universe? She reached a hand toward Anakin but hesitated. "Master, I..."
"There's no need to say, 'I'm sorry', Snips," Anakin assured her. "Never understood that as a sign of sympathy anyway. Always thought it was an admission to guilt."
Ahsoka managed to lay a hand on her mentor's shoulder. "That's kinda true. But at least know that I'm always here for you."
"I know, Snips," Anakin murmured. "I know." He also knew they weren't finished with this conversation. He could sense that Ahsoka's worries weren't completely alleviated. He had given her a half explanation. Yes, it had been the truth, but she still felt alone. The question was, could he really burden her with such a secret of his?
Ahsoka sensed his indecision. "There's more to tell, isn't there?"
Anakin hesitated, not willing to answer his Padawan. Ahsoka was good, she was trustworthy, she had her own troubles to deal, why should he add to it? "Ahsoka..."
When she didn't respond, he glanced up to see that she was far off for the moment, head tilted, eyes glazed, lips moving silently telling him that she was puzzling something out. He raised an eyebrow in confusion. "Snips?"
She looked back at him, calculating expression still in place. "You have an attachment to Senator Amidala, don't you?" Her voice was curious, almost amused, not at all accusing. "That's why she said you'd understand my worries about my attachment to Lux.
Anakin paled slightly, he tried to remain neutral. "What makes you say that?"
Ahsoka laughed, "It actually makes sense. Come to think of it, I'm surprised I didn't notice it earlier." At Anakin's silent request for more information, she smiled wryly. "Subtlety isn't exactly your specialty, Master. Particularly when it comes to the Senator. There's this warmth that enters your voice when you speak to her and your eyes seem to be for her and her alone." She looked away then, thinking of the way her own heart pounded when Lux looked at her like that.
Once again, just like with Obi-Wan, Anakin knew he had to be careful. 'Sorry, Snips, I do trust you, but this is just something I can't tell you.' "Senator Amidala has been a friend of mine since I was a child, before I came to the temple in fact. I guess you could say that we're attached and it's something I'm not upset with. I care for her and she cares for me. In all honesty, having that bond with Padme keeps me grounded."
Ahsoka nodded in understanding. "You do seem rather...lighter...whenever you're in each other's presence. Like she takes away whatever troubles you're dealing with." She smiled. "And just like you told me, you have my word that I will not reveal any of this to the Council."
Anakin grinned back, feeling a weight that he hadn't known was there lift. "Thank you, Ahsoka." He then became serious, the Master once again. "Now that we've gotten that discussion taken care of, mind finishing up that explanation of how you, Artoo and Bonteri got away from the Death Watch?"
Ahsoka's smile faded. "Let's just say the sleemos showed their true colors." The moment of Tryla's death once again invaded her memory and she couldn't help the flash of grief that crossed her face.
Anakin became concerned. "Ahsoka?" He laid a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"I made a friend, Master, briefly. Her name was Tryla. I was caught off guard and too far away when she was murdered. The Death Watch then torched her village. Torched people! All because her grandfather, the chieftain, stood up for himself and the village. They laughed, it was sickening. I managed to snap out of the shocked state I had been in and wound up revealing myself as a Jedi."
Her smile was grim. "The near execution was worth it." She ignored her master's soft growl. "But Artoo came to the rescue along with some droids he had just patched up, I managed to disarm the leader and Lux drove the fighter back to the ship. That's when he took the escape pod, saying the Republic couldn't help him find justice for his mother's murder and that I knew that."
Anakin took in her words. Justice for his mother's murder? And Bonteri winds up in a world of violence, dragging someone that he cares about along with him. Ah, kriff, the kid was just like him. He pushed that annoyance to the back of his mind and focused on his apprentice. "Are you going to be okay?"
Ahsoka nodded. "Thanks to the words of both you and Padme...Master Obi-Wan as well, I know this is a bond that won't simply go away over time, but I don't have let it consume and destroy me either. I just need to accept it, it's a part of me, it shows that I can be caring and compassionate which aren't bad things at all." She wrinkled her forehead. "I still don't get why the Council thinks it's bad."
"So long as you don't get distracted by focusing on one person and one emotion," Anakin advised. "I think you'll be fine." He continued in a teasing voice. "Now, don't miss Bonteri too much."
"Well, he did say that we'd cross paths one day," Ahsoka recalled.
Anakin focused on the viewport, an all too satisfied smile spreading across his face, "Good."
Blue eyes narrowed as Ahsoka frowned, oozing mistrust, "I don't like that smile."
His smile became a smirk. "You don't have to like it."
First Star Wars: The Clones Wars story! I've been wanting to write this after watching "A Friend In Need". I hope I did a good job!
Earlier I mentioned Luminara Unduli and Barris Offee. I could have also mentioned Aayla Secura, but I never got to watch the episode(s) she was in, couldn't find them either, so I just left her out. This story is long enough as it is!
The title doesn't really have anything to do with the story, does it? XD