Disclaimer: It's George's sandbox; I'm simply destroying the sandcastles.

Title: Request Denied, Captain

Author: Jade_Max

Characters: Captain Rex, Anakin Skywalker

Genre: Angst

Era: The Clone Wars [AU]

Summary: Rex asks for a transfer after the events of "Attachment's Forfeit" and "Soldier's Sacrifice" and Anakin is less than inclined to let him go...

Author's Note: You will not have to have read the other Vignette's to understand what's going on here. This is completely AU since it takes place six weeks after the events in both vigs and has actually nothing to do with the 'official' timeline. It was just a bunny that wanted to be written *grin*

Request Denied, Captain

"Have a seat, Rex."

"Respectfully, sir, I'd rather stand."

"Suit yourself," Anakin agreed with a shrug as he crouched next to Artoo once more to continue working on the little astromech.

The office was small and cluttered, like most of Skywalker's spaces, and Rex reflected he'd probably not have been able to find a chair even if he'd been so inclined despite the offer. Anakin's voice drew him back to the matter at hand.

"At ease then. I got your request this morning; care to explain?"

Rex stiffened. "No, sir."

His immediate, curt reply drew him a surprised look from his General. "I didn't pull you in for an interrogation or on the carpet like a rookie trooper, Rex; this is informal. When a senior Officer in my command, a Captain, my Captain, suddenly asks to get transferred, you can't blame me for being a little curious and concerned."

No, Rex couldn't; but that didn't mean he was about to give him the details behind the request. They were too personal, too... raw. Not to mention they'd probably earn him a lightsaber to the gut and a quick trip out an airlock - in pieces. "I detailed my reasons, sir."

"Right, Artoo?" The droid toodled and projected a reproduction of Rex's transfer request and Anakin skimmed it, touching the part he wanted. "You cited...ah, here - irreconcilable personal differences." Looking back to Rex, Anakin frowned. "If it's that bad, transfer the idiot out of Torrent Company and get a replacement."

"I'm afraid that not... " Shaking his head, Rex marveled at Anakin's linear thinking, surprised his normally sharp superior hadn't figured out why that wasn't possible yet. "It's complicated, sir."

"Drop the sir," Anakin shot him a look. "You, of all people, know how much I dislike it."

"Respectfully, General, the nature of this request demands it; my apologies."

Anakin straightened, patting Artoo's dome and turned his attention completely to his Captain. Rex knew at that moment that he'd finally gotten across how deadly serious his request was. Crossing his arms, Anakin regarded Rex thoughtfully and then shook his head. "Whatever the problem is with this fellow, sort it out. I can't afford to lose you."

"I have tried, sir."

"Then try harder, dammit!" Anakin exploded into motion, pacing agitatedly back and forth in front of him. "Demerit the hell out of him; make him KP king; give him latrine duty for the rest of his tour, the rest of the war if that's what it takes - I don't care what you do to straighten this out, Rex, but I can't and won't approve your transfer!"

Rex regarded him for a long moment and then answered evenly, knowing as he did, things were about to get worse. "If that were possible, I wouldn't have brought the issue to your attention, General."

"Wouldn't have... a superior?" Anakin sounded surprised, as if he hadn't considered it before and then his look turned suspicious. "Not me, I hope."

Rex's lips twitched. "No, sir. Not you."

"Good. I want a name, Rex."

"I don't think that's wise, sir," he hedged.

"Not wise? If there's a Commander in- ah ha! A Commander is it!" Anakin grinned as Rex flinched again at the title, unable to help himself; even her rank was enough to bring her image to mind. "Is Cody giving you a rough time again being a rule stickler?"

"I can handle Cody, sir."

"Glad to hear it." He frowned. "If not Cody then... who?"

Rex inwardly sighed, bracing himself for the outburst to follow, and forged ahead. If he didn't supply the name now, Anakin would undoubtedly come to his own conclusions. The right ones, but not why. His words were measured, holding none of the frustration and hurt that swelled with her name on his lips. "Commander Tano, sir."

"Ahsoka?" Anakin's eyebrows hit his hair line. "Ahsoka is the person you're having problems with? What'd you do?"

"Do, sir?"

"She's female," Anakin remarked, obviously trying to suppress a grin. "If there's a problem, it must be something you did. Or she thinks you did."

"I don't know, sir," Rex admitted evenly, struggling with the emotional tide hearing her name unleashed. He'd done his best not to think about her at all in the weeks since they'd been on that blasted mission with no luck. She was so integrated into Torrent Company and his own plans and thoughts, it was like operating without one of his blasters.

It felt... wrong.

And there was nothing he could do about it, which only made dealing with it more difficult. Difficult? Ha! Impossible.

"Nothing at all, Rex? Do you remember when it started?"

"After I almost died, sir."

Anakin's smile disappeared, his expression turning stern. "Yes, you did. I'm not very happy with you about that either, but now that you're back on your feet, do you honestly think I'm going to let you be transferred away?"

"Sir-"

Anakin held up one hand and Rex snapped his jaw shut.

"I know Ahsoka's been a little preoccupied lately, Rex; nearly losing you was hard on her. Give her time."

"It's been a month since I woke up, sir," deliberately keeping any kind of inflection out of his voice, he somehow managed not to convey just how much it hurt to say it. "She hasn't spoken to me at all."

Anakin sighed, rubbing a hand over his face. "I'd hoped this would sort itself out by now or that she would come to me. With you requesting a transfer, this has gone on long enough; too long."

"Sir-"

"No, Rex," Anakin shook his head. "I can't afford to lose you, and Ahsoka is my Padawan. I need both of you at one hundred percent and I need you working together like you always have. One way or another you two will just have to learn to get past this." He smiled faintly, his amusement showing, "Whatever this is."

"Sir, with all due respect, I think you're making a mistake," Rex tried one last time, daring to question Anakin's orders like he never had before; he needed this transfer, to get away. He needed space and perspective he wouldn't get on the Resolute. "If you'd just consider my request for a transfer-"

"Your transfer won't be approved, Captain," Anakin stated firmly. "Request denied."

His heart sinking, Rex swallowed back a sharp retort, knowing he was beat. His General wasn't about to let him go, and the woman he'd been willing to sacrifice everything for wanted nothing to do with him. Somehow, he was going to have to bury the hurt and anger and become a cool, detached soldier again. Somehow he was going to have to forget everything he'd learned before his injury, before she'd come into his life.

It was a bleak concept.

Anakin, reached out and placed one hand on Rex's shoulder, drawing his attention from his internal misery, and there was compassion in his General's eyes. "I'll talk to Ahsoka, Rex, but I'm not expecting miracles or that things will be the same between you as they were before. I do, however, expect professionalism. Can you do that?"

There was only one appropriate answer with the General having already denied his request for transfer, honest or not. "Of course, sir."

"Good man."

Rex nodded once to Anakin and turned, striding away. He didn't see where he went, simply walked until he realized he was at a door. A quick glanced showed them to be his quarters and he stepped inside, placing his helmet on the footlocker and then sank to the edge of the bed, staring blankly at the opposite wall.

Request denied.

The words rang in his head. Echoing much like the last time he'd heard her voice, panicked and desperate, calling his name. Both death knells to times in his life. One to the relationship he'd believed he and Ahsoka had been building, the other to his existence as it was. The General was going to insist he and Ahsoka spend time together, against her wishes. Knowing she wouldn't want to, knowing that she'd deliberately avoided him since his injuries; knowing she wanted nothing to do with him... it was almost worse than having her avoid him.

Worse because not only would she not want to be there, but he'd be seeing her without being able to tease, to touch; to be himself.

He braced his elbows on his knees as his head sank into his hands with a groan. He didn't know if he could see her every day and be professional; if he could pull back, be just another trooper to her.

Request denied, Captain.

His lips twisted. The words suddenly summed up his life - and it sucked.

fin