Disclaimer: Star Wars belongs to Disney and is the intellectual property of George Lucas; he created the sandbox. I'm simply destroying the sandcastles.
Author's Note: I blame (yes; blame :p) laloga for this one as she just had to mention Rex wanting payback after what I put him through in "Respect II" with Ahsoka's slave costume. As a consequence – totally AU :p
Title: Respect - AU [aka: Rex in Jeans]
Characters: Captain Rex, Ahsoka Tano
Genre: Humor/UST - One might add... Lots of Humor?
Era: The Clone Wars [AU]
Summary:Set after Episode 11, Season 4; Ahsoka has a task that's unlike any other Anakin's ever assigned her...
Respect - AU
"I'm sorry, Master, you want me to what?"
"The Queen of Zygerria is partial to males," Anakin explained patiently as if to a child. "She's bound to be unimpressed by a female being offered as a slave."
"Then why not you or Master Kenobi?"
"I tried being a slave once," Anakin informed her shortly, crossing his arms over his chest as his expression darkened. "I wasn't very good at it. Besides, Obi-Wan and I need to have free reign of the market to track the missing colonists. Seeing as how you're Togrutan, I figured the Queen would be interested in speaking with one of your people who's so obviously rogue."
"And if I'm portraying a slaver, I would, obviously, have a slave," Ahsoka finished with distaste. "He'll never go for it."
"Then pick someone else," Anakin advised her. "But I think you'll need his ability to thinking on his feet for this one. I can't think of anyone better."
"I could be the slave."
Shaking his head, Anakin turned back to the tactical map. "A Jedi has to be the one to lead this little expedition and Obi-Wan and I have to be focused elsewhere."
Ahsoka paused for a moment, giving her Master a long look. "You don't trust yourself around her, do you?"
"Slavers ensured I was born into slavery," he informed her tightly. "They ensured my mother spent the better part of her life in subservience and chains."
"In other words no," she paraphrased dryly, holding up her hands in surrender. "Okay, okay; I'll ask him, but Rex isn't going to like it."
"Stress the importance of this mission," Anakin urged her. "Order him if you have to."
Already shaking her head at the word order, Ahsoka bit back a sharp retort. Rex would have to volunteer for this mission or she'd be asking someone else. No, she realized abruptly, she had to convince him to volunteer for this mission; had to convince him that she needed him and no one else.
And after the recent events at Umbara, she knew she had her work cut out for her.
Rex was still smarting at how he'd been used by Krell, still smarting over the fact his trust had been abused to ensure his brothers fell whenever possible and in the numbers Krell wished to see. Needless deaths for all they'd had a mission to take the planet. Deaths that still weighed him down; but it was a darkness in Rex, the new edge to his personality that worried her most. He questioned orders now; questioned the Jedi and their right to lead men who had been bred to fight a war the Jedi were ill equipped for.
Unless those Jedi were the ones he knew best.
Still, for all she knew he trusted her, this wasn't something she could order him on. It wasn't technically a military operation and he was likely to balk at the idea of being a slave. Especially when it would mirror so closely the need to follow orders he didn't agree with and submit to a master in all things.
She knew him well enough to know this wasn't going to be easy; in fact, it was likely to be impossible.
"I'll ask," she conceded finally. "But I won't order him. This isn't the kind of mission where it should be anything but volunteer."
"He's a soldier, Ahsoka."
"He's a man, Master," she shot back with a sour look, ignoring the arched eyebrows and speculative gleam that entered Anakin's eyes with her vehement insistence. A little too vehement, she realized even as she forged ahead. "No different from you or Master Kenobi. You wouldn't want to be volunteered for something like this, what makes you think he would?"
"Snips… it's his job."
"Fighting Seppies and clankers is his job; not infiltrating the defunct empire of a Zygerrian Queen with delusions of grandeur!" Shooting her Master a disgusted look, she spun and headed for the door. "I'll handle it; you just worry about how you're going to make this work if something goes wrong."
Leaving her Master with that wry admonishment, Ahsoka left the command center and went looking for Rex. Wandering the halls of the Resolute, she asked each trooper she met if she'd seen him, not once thinking to use her comlink. Her mind was preoccupied with the assignment before her, the task Anakin had set her and whirled with concern for her missing people. Little things, like prompt communication, were lost by the wayside.
Following the directions of the troopers, she eventually found Rex in the mess hall going over a datapad. It was a familiar sight, a comforting one, and one she hadn't seen since she'd found him atop the airbase control tower on Umbara. Their confrontation and ensuing discussion had signaled a shift between them, a change in their relationship; no longer experienced field Captain and kid, but Captain and Commander - Rex and Ahsoka. She'd been deliberately vulnerable to him and he'd responded as she'd hoped.
For once he'd needed her and she couldn't have stayed away if she'd tried.
As if sensing her presence, he glanced up from the datapad, spied her in the doorway and waved her over. Ahsoka went willingly, sliding into the chair across from him. With the mess almost completely deserted, his form was address was no surprise. "Ahsoka."
"Rex." She leaned forward on her forearms and plucked the still steaming cup of caf from before him, took a sip and replaced it. He watched her do it, his expression neutral, his gaze closed, but she knew better than to assume he was angry with her for it. They'd shared a steaming cup of caf many times. Deciding to jump right in, the straightforward approach was best, she grimaced. "I need a favor you're not going to like."
His eyebrows arched. "How do you know I won't like it?"
"Anakin's decided we're going after my..." she hesitated, seeing the flare of understanding in his eyes when she faltered, the sense of kinship, and then deliberately changed her form of address to something that stung less; something that put some much needed distance between her and the missing Togruta. "That is, we're going after the colonists. He thinks we can infiltrate the palace by having one of us pose as a Slaver with a Slave."
Rex nodded sharply and quickly, if inaccurately, offered her his grasp of the situation. "You and General Skywalker will be infiltrating the palace, with you as his slave while, I would assume, General Kenobi and I check the slave markets."
It was a good analysis of what one could expect and, she half wished Anakin had decided to go that way. "Close – except the pairings are wrong." Exhaling loudly, she forced herself to continue. "Anakin wants you to play the part of the slave to my slaver, Rex," she winced with the words, not sure how else she could phrase it. "He thinks the Queen would be... interested."
"In a man of your..." she trailed off, able to see the way the chevrons on her lekku darkened with embarrassment from the corner of her eyes.
Rex, however, didn't let her off the hook. He simply arched an eyebrow and, the little devil, prompted her mildly with a twinkle in his eyes even as his expression was neutral. "My?"
"Your obvious prowess and superb physique." She rushed to get the words out, choosing her own descriptors rather than the ones Anakin had used. "She.. uh... she might want to... to negotiate for you." Unable to help herself, she looked away from his still neutral gaze. "I told you that you wouldn't like it."
Rex placed his datapad aside, took a sip from his caf and then leaned forward to look at her; she could feel it as if it were a physical thing. It started with the top of her montrals, slid downwards, over her face, each detail scrutinized and cataloged, before moving yet further downwards to take in her posture. When he spoke, it was the question she'd asked herself, the one Anakin had been so vehement about answering.
"Why you and me and not you and him?"
"Anakin refuses to play the slave," she returned with a wry smile that quickly faltered and died. "And he thinks that because so many of my... of... so..." Her throat closed and she was unable to continue.
Rex reached over to place one hand on top of where hers were folded tightly on the table top and, thankfully, understood what she was trying to say. "He thinks another Togruta slave would be uninteresting."
She nodded, grateful he was able to voice it as she struggled with her emotions. There is no emotion, there is peace.The Jedi axiom echoed through her head, but it was Rex's hold, his solid presence, that allowed her to get a firm hold on herself. "Right."
"So how will a Togruta slaver would be enough to catch her interest?"
"The novelty," she tried to focus on his words with the way his hand was still protectively held over her own. "My people, as a general rule, are good and righteous but need large social groups. To have one not only leave and strike up independently," she shook her head. "I'dbe interested in the novelty factor for no other reason than it's so unusual."
"And if that angle doesn't work?"
They shared a look that said everything there was too about that. There was a tight squeeze on her fingers before he released them. "A good backup plan. What do I need to know if I'm to be... your slave."
The words sent a rush of heat through her system, the cock of one of his eyebrows showing that he had deliberately turned it into a suggestive sentence; an innuendo. Innuendo; from Rex?
Her heart stuttered in her chest as an image flashed through her mind of Rex during one of his workouts - sweaty and half bare - but laid out on her bunk with that teasing, suggestive light that currently lit his eyes. She blinked, knowing the chevrons on her montrals had deepened in color to almost black, and couldn't help it.
"Ah." she cleared her throat. "I ah... I suppose you could... talk to Anakin," she faltered, knowing that was a bad idea even as she said it.
She'd re-earned Rex's trust after the Umbara debacle through hard work and perseverance but Anakin... Anakin had done little more than offer a very trite apology to his surviving men about having let them with a traitor and expected things to pick up as normal. Her master simply couldn't understand what Rex and Torrent Company had been through and he hadn't made the effort she had to learn. But then, as close and her Master and Rex had once been – still were to a degree – Ahsoka could see the disconnect from the chain of command. The disconnect she'd deliberately smashed between herself and the Captain to ensure their friendship remained intact. Anakin didn't seem to be aware of it, let alone willing to do the same.
The skin around Rex's eyes tightened and he shook his head once. "No."
"We wouldn't be working with him and Master Kenobi, Rex; we'd be on our own."
After that last, unexpected mental image, the thought of getting him that way was more appealing than she should have been. Your people are missing, she admonished herself firmly, reminding herself of her purpose. Ogling Rex is a good way to ruin the trust you had to work so hard to regain. Stop it and stick to the mission!
Thus self-warned, Ahsoka forged ahead. "We need... I need you for this. You're able to think on your feet, to adapt to any situation; you can make snap decisions and execute them in a fraction of the time it would take someone else. I don't... I don't think I'll be able to find them in time without you."
"Fact," she affirmed despite the flutter in her stomach; she loved the way he said her name. "I know I'm asking a lot and that this isn't a military mission-"
"I'll do it," he cut in before she continued. "For you."
"Do you want my help or not?"
She laughed at his dry question, as she was no doubt supposed to, and some of the tension dissipated between them. "Oh, I want it. This isn't going to be easy and having you beside me will be all that make it tolerable."
His question held a subtle teasing note and she rolled her eyes. "Marginally tolerable," she conceded, putting a grudging note into her voice. He recognized the hit with a nod of his head.
"So where do we start?"
She thought for a moment; asking Anakin was out for a number of reasons. Her gaze fell on his datapad. "Is that linked into the Resolute's holo netsystem?"
He pushed it towards her.
Scooping it up, she saved his reading - a report from Fives on the Umbara situation and the addendum describing Dogma's fate - before selecting the remote functions. The datapad beeped and clicked before it hooked into the main holonet. She glanced up at him. "Is this datapad one of yours?"
"Of course. Why?"
"I was thinking to pull some slave costume images from the holonet; it'll be traced back to this datapad." And you.
He heard her unspoken comment and merely rolled his wrist as an indicator she was to continue as he took another sip of his caf. Glad he didn't care, she typed in her search query - and dropped the datapad as the first image loaded, appearing before her eyes. Before she could grab it, Rex had placed two fingers on the screen and pulled it his way.
The chevrons on her montrals, which had recovered some, flushed deeply to match the black of her master's jerkin as a mental image of Rex like the man in the image superimposed itself in her thoughts. She felt flushed, uneasy and squirmed in her chair, reaching for the pad.
His gaze dropped to the image, his expression remaining stoic before he removed the image, going back to her search, and passing it back her way. "Slave or not, I somehow doubt Anakin would understand the lack of a costume as a necessary evil. What else is there?"
Ahsoka changed her criteria a little and began wading through images. After sliding the datapad back and forth several times, she pushed to her feet, rounded the table, and slid in next to him, her thigh tight against his as she placed the datapad before them. Rex made no protest and, to her surprise, accommodated the new position.
His gloved hand brushed against the single lekku down her back as he slid his hand underneath it, the cool plastoid of his armor a direct and immediate contrast to the warmth hidden within his gloves as his arm settled lightly across her shoulders. She shivered but he said nothing, didn't even appear to notice, as they turned their attention to the holonet feed together.
After several long minutes of looking, Rex plucked the datapad from her fingers and disconnected the connection. He saved his report from Fives and removed the data rod. "If anyone asks," he told her in a dry tone as he tucked the pad away into the back of her belt, "I'm telling them that you stole it to look at pictures of naked men."
Laughter bubbled up unexpectedly and, unable to contain it, she grinned, laughing. "It wouldn't exactly be untrue now would it? Care to add to the collection, Rex?"
"I'm sure if you searched hard enough, you could find a picture of Jango." His response was dry.
"Wouldn't be the same," she quipped cheekily.
He gave her a look as he squeezed her shoulder before pushing to his feet without answering. "When did Anakin want to leave?"
She checked her chrono as she joined him and they turned towards the door to the mess hall together. "Sometime in the next couple of hours."
"That doesn't leave us a lot of time." He frowned, applying his considerable intellect to the situation. "Somehow, I think a queen with a male slave will consider less is more. This could work in our favor."
"My costume can be something simple. My workout short, for example."
Ahsoka bit her lip. The mental images of near naked Rex were playing havoc with her already unsteady equilibrium. She felt guilty for fantasizing while her people were being prepped for auction as slaves and undergoing who knew what kind of tortures for it. Swallowing hard, she wondered if her mind was unconsciously latching on to something good to avoid thinking about the bad.
Rex took her reaction to be negative.
"You have another idea, Ahsoka?"
She exhaled heavily, drawing her mind back to the problem at hand. "Not really. We could check the planet below. Based on what Anakin said in the briefing, the way the colonists-" she faltered but gamely continued, "-dress is apparently part of their appeal as slaves."
He stopped, drawing her aside as a couple of troopers passed. "Would you be comfortable with that?" he searched her gaze seriously, earnestly. "Would you be capable of allowing me to search through their things not knowing their fate?"
Startled by the question, she opened her mouth to tell him that of course she'd be comfortable with it, but he continued before she could.
"They're missing in action, Ahsoka, without any record or indication of when or if we're going to be able to recover them all. There's a good chance that, even if we succeed in this mission, not all of them will be coming home. Can you handle having me go through their belongings knowing that this is the most likely outcome? That they may never use them again?"
She jerked back as if he'd struck her, immediately angry with him for pointing it out, but, as quickly as it reared its head, the anger faded and the logic in his words struck her. Then, as she considered his question, really considered it, the whereof the wisdom behind it blindsided her.
It was like a low blow to the gut and she reached out to steady herself on the wall. Rex was speaking from experience. Bile rose in the back of her throat and she lifted one hand to her lips to prevent herself from being sick. Rex wasn't talking about the colonists, about her people; he was talking about when he'd had to repeatedly do the same for his brothers.
Images of the men that were suspected KIA but were listed as MIA flashed through her mind with the sudden overlay of Rex having to go through the kit. She could perfectly imagine his stoicism and precision, the care he would give each item. A task she'd never... she'd...
The magnitude of what he'd asked her finally sunk in.
She was going to be sick.
A strong arm wrapped about her waist, sliding up her spine and under her lekku before his fingers pressed her down and forward by the base of the neck. Using the wall to balance her, Rex pushed her into a bent over position, his breathe feathering her cheek and across her montrals. She felt more than heard the instruction.
Inhaling through her nose, she struggled against the urge to lose the contents of her stomach over the deck, and exhaled slowly, closing her eyes against a sudden spinning. Rex's other hand snuck in to flatten, fingers extended against her stomach to hold her upright and the weight of that hand seemed to burn through her top. She gasped, struggling to catch her breath.
"Breathe," he murmured again, the hand on her back now rubbing in tiny circles, almost all of her weight against the hand cradling her belly. "Exhale, Ahsoka."
She did, but it came out on a shudder.
Rex gently coached her until the urge to hurl passed and she stiffened in his grasp. His thumb lay along her sternum, his palm flat against her belly while his fingers curled practically to her hip and down across the crossed belt towards her -
As if realizing his hold, Rex dropped his hand from her front, gripping her arm to help her stand upright, and then stepped back. Ahsoka smiled weakly at him as she leaned against the wall for support, one hand still grasping his forearm in a death grip lest she fall over. "Thanks."
He nodded once, his color high on his cheek bones, but it quickly faded as he brought them back to the topic at hand; to her missing people and what they were going to do about it. "I think that answers my question."
She swallowed hard. "No," she moistened her lips when the word came out a croak and marshaled her inner strength. If Rex could do it for his missing brothers, she could do it for her people. Giving herself a shake, she met his gaze squarely. "No," she repeated firmly. "I can do this, Rex. This might be the best chance we have at locating and freeing them. How could I pass that up simply because of an 'if'?"
"Then let's go."
"Is waiting going to make it any easier?"
It wasn't. He knew it. She knew it. She just hadn't wanted to admit it. Making a face, she straightened her shoulders and fell into step with him.
"I... I've never done this before," she conceded, even though she knew that he knew it. "Is there... are there... what..."
"Just think of how you'd want someone going through your things if it were you," he told her honestly, but Ahsoka caught the glimmer of the pain he suppressed even as he offered a caution. "It's not going to be easy."
"Neither is playing a Slaver and making nice with the people who are responsible for this mess in the first place," she returned determinedly. "But that doesn't mean I'm going to let it stop me."
He smiled faintly, his eyes flashing with a mixture of approval, pride and respect and it made her stand straighter. She wasn't the young, eagerly determined Padawan with a cocky attitude he'd first met anymore. Having him acknowledge it, even unspoken, did wonders for her confidence; especially in this situation.
"Where do you want to start, Ahsoka?"
"First? We hitch a ride dirt side. Once there... we'll figure it out."
Thirty minutes later
"I think this is hopeless, Rex," Ahsoka settled to the edge of the bed in the room they were searching. She'd had him try on a couple of things they'd found, but they didn't look right to her and he was trying on another one in the adjoining 'fresher as she spoke. "Maybe we should just stick with your idea."
Rex opened the door, frowning, his hands on his hips as he looked down at a billowy pair of white pants, decorated with a slash of blue near the middle, that hung down nearly to the floor. He was shirtless, and Ahsoka tried not to stare; shirtless Rex was distracting. Enough that she wasn't feeling quite so guilty about this part of the whole assignment and that just made her feel worse.
"The more you have me try on, the more I agree with you."
"Should we try another house?"
"Perhaps something else?"
He turned to go back into the 'fresher and closed the door to change, muffling his voice. "Something with more selection?"
"Like a store?"
"If they have one."
Ahsoka considered it. The variety would be better and wouldn't be restricted to personal taste. "They should; with all of the clothing we've seen, the cloth has to come from somewhere."
Rex didn't take long to change before emerging once more in his bodysuit as he was snapping his chest plate back into place, adjusting the fasteners. Ahsoka had his pauldron, gauntlets, greaves, gloves, vambraces and shinguards in a bag and his helmet lying on the bed next to her; the latter she held out and he accepted, their bare fingers brushing as he gave her a nod.
"Let's see what else we can find." Clipping his helmet to his belt, Rex scooped the bag containing the rest of his gear from the bed. "I should have come in civvies."
"Like you'd feel comfortable in civvies."
He slanted her a faint grin. "Ever seen me in civvies, Ahsoka?"
She considered it and made a face. "No, but that's just more proof. Do you even own civvies, Rex?"
"What do you think I wear on leave?"
"You never take leave."
"Unless forced to; having to play bodyguard isn't taking leave."
"The few times I've been on leave, you've been at the temple," he told her as they exited the house and back into the Kiros sunshine. None of the homes were locked and they left it as they'd found it, closing the door behind them. "For all we're thought of as flesh droids," his words were hard, an echo of the lessons learned at Umbara within them, "they seem to realize that a combat cycle with a few days for down time increases productivity."
"And you wear civvies during these down times?"
He shot her a look she couldn't read for her skepticism. "I'll see if I can find an approximation in one of the shops here."
"You're pulling my leg."
Rex simply smiled at her for all she didn't believe him and continued onwards. They headed for one of the larger buildings on the outskirts of town, the market area from what Rex had found in the database while studying the layout of the village for the assault. Row after row of stalls, abandoned as they'd been left eleven rotations ago, stood before them, their contents and wares left as the owners had been forced to abandon them.
Rex scanned the area with a slight frown as Ahsoka crossed her arms over her chest and tried to resist a shiver. "This way."
She followed as he led her through the stalls to a small, squat building near a booth that was piled with bolts of colorful fabrics, several of them having been tossed around haphazardly by an unknown force. Most likely, Ahsoka knew, the droids who'd come to collect the stall keeper. The booth beside it held various costumes that Rex couldn't wear but, if she'd been posing as a slave…
Ahsoka eyed a beaded, risqué costume with a critical eye, wondering if wearing something like that would change Rex's view of her. She shook of the thought and followed him to the house and paused, looking back wistfully, once, before she focused on the task at hand. "Why this one?"
"In transit, I did some reading about the people of Kiros," he supplied as he opened the door and looked inside before disappearing within, "one of the side notes was about shop keeping – ah, yes, I'm right."
"What about shopkeepers?" she followed him in, frowning.
He was standing near a shelving unit that was stacked with neatly folded clothes. His hands flashed as he sorted through them, answering her absently. "The intel stated they set up shop near to their homes where most of their stock is kept. Ah. Good." He pulled a pair of long, blue legging-like things that didn't look quite right from one shelf before checking for shirts. With a glance her way he disappeared behind a curtained area.
"Good?" Ahsoka frowned, crossing her arms over her chest as she stared after him; he was in a strange mood today and it echoed through his usually stoic and solid Force presence. There was a determination there she'd never before felt; an almost... mischievous bend? That couldn't be right. "Good what?"
There was the sound of clips and buckles being undone as he shed what remained of his armor, the whoomp of his kama hitting the ground and then the very distinct sound of a clone bodysuit being removed. Ahsoka shivered, swallowing hard and turned back to the doorway, looking out at the stall and the outfit that had caught her eye. It didn't linger long though as the desolation of the stall and its surroundings permeated the atmosphere, pressing down on her, reminding her of the-
She turned her head, not quite paying attention. "Hmm... uh...?"
Rex braced his hands on his hips. "What do you think?"
She blinked, clearing her gaze as she turned to face him fully - and took a step back, unintentionally hitting the wall by the door. Her breath caught in her throat, her eyes widening as the sex appeal of the man before her slammed into her full force.
Swallowing hard, her gaze dropped to the ground where his toes, long and straight and perfect and never before seen by her, peaked out of loose cuffs around his ankles. The fabric was Torrent Company blue, loose to the knee before tightening fractionally over his muscular thighs, loving encasing the muscles and giving them just the barest hint of definition. Her jaw worked as she suddenly found it hard to breathe, the fabric encasing his hips and... and the apex of his thighs molding to him with just enough detail she could see...
The chevrons on her montrals darkened promptly from blue to black as heat swept through her system, making her skin itch to be touched, her mouth drying out. Her gaze lingered on that part of him for a long moment as she was unable to tear it away before the long, tanned fingers that were normally encased in gloves caught her attention. The blue gift-to-women-everywhere piece of clothing ended low on his hips, kept up by a slash of black cloth.
Above it, a white, skin tight shirt lovingly hugged his flat abdomen and rippling pectorals, with a slightly scooped neck and short sleeves that capped mid-bicep. For all it covered him completely, the clothing modest by most planetary standards, only one word filtered through Ahsoka's mind.
It was quickly followed by others.
Her heart raced and she was suddenly glad for the support at her back, her hands curling into fists as she fought the urge to grab him and-
"Wh-" she had to pause to swallow and clear her throat, missing the amusement gleaming in his bole colored eyes. "What is that?"
"Close to my civvies," he crossed his arms over his chest and her heart jumped in hers with the edge of satisfaction to his tone. "Minus the jacket."
Grasping that comment like a drowning woman, Ahsoka's brow furrowed. "Jacket?"
"You've seen it."
It took almost a full, long minute for her brain to engage as she stared at him blankly. When it did though, she gasped, one hand shooting to the choker at her neck and its distinctive diamond pattern. He smiled his little half smile and nodded.
"Why don't you wear it more often?"
"Regs." He dropped his hands, slipping his thumbs through the belt loops at the top of the blue slack-like things that were giving her heart palpitations. "You okay?"
"Uh, yeah," she looked away, searching for some kind of distraction, except she could still see him out of the corner of her eye. "Yeah... Could you..." she waved weakly back towards the change room.
"Could I what, Ahsoka?"
Now he was being deliberately difficult. "Could you change - please?"
There was no doubting Rex's amusement as he shook his head. "I think these make more sense while we're looking through the stall and here," he contradicted. "Getting into and out of my armor, easy as it is after so much practice, wastes time."
He turned to go back to the curtained area and Ahsoka screwed her eyes shut as the image of his perfectly shaped and toned buttocks was imprinted behind her eyes. Sweet mercy! Who needed clones to fight? Just put Rex and a squad of his brothers in the mostly female congress of the Separatists dressed as he was, or in variations of it, and there's be no need to continue the war; no one would have the energy to fight!
Amusement laced his tone. "Are you all right?"
She felt the rush of sensation that indicated her montrals were giving away her embarrassment. Decided to brave her way through it, she forced a cheerful tone, knowing it would come out pained, but gave it a go anyway. "Just... picturing putting you in the middle of the mostly women Separatist congress dressed like that," her eyes opened to find his and Rex arched his eyebrows in surprise at her bravado. "I was thinking we'd end this war really quick."
"Give me my decees and I'd agree with you."
That he didn't follow her line of thought was almost comical. "Uh, Rex; you wouldn't have to shoot them - that's what I mean."
"I don't follow."
"You're six feet of muscle and terrifying sex appeal with an edge of danger when you're armored and without your helmet," she waved one hand weakly at his attire, "like this you're positively dangerous to any woman with blood in her veins, no matter the color. Drop a contingent of clones dressed like you are now in the middle and... er..." she looked away, unable to keep her gaze locked on his.
It figured he couldn't let it go. She exhaled shakily. "Ever hear the expression 'Make love, not war'?"
He waited as the silence stretched between them, and didn't reply until she snuck a look his way. Deadpan, all serious, his tone was belied by the twinkle in his eyes. "If I can offer my services for the good of the Republic-"
"Rex!" She burst out laughing. "You're horrible."
"You were the one thinking of using my brothers and I as sex toys."
"Like they'd object?" Rubbing her face with both hands, she knew it did nothing to hide the blatant proof of her embarrassment. "Can we please get off this topic?"
"You're the one who brought it up," he pointed out. "I'm simply accommodating you."
Ahsoka groaned, the thought crossing her mind that if he was accommodating her, he'd be flat on his back and she'd be straddling his hips. The image nearly blindsided her and she had to shake her head to banish it, dropping her hands as she fought to regain even footing.
Then Rex had to add to his comment.
"We could explore the logistics," he suggested, sliding his hands into his back pockets, tightening the fabric further across his hips and...
Ahsoka averted her eyes before she was caught staring.
Rex didn't seem to notice as he continued, eyes narrowed, considering the scenario. "The number of men needed, say... all of Torrent Company and ARC Fives for special assignment," Ahsoka stifled a groan, "a HALO drop would be ideal, but to land without our armor too dangerous. Gliders would be the most likely to get close. Demolitions to enter the building; hypertension cables and harnesses to rappel in from the roof..."
An image as he described blossomed in her brain of Rex and his brothers trussed up in special gear to rappel down into the Separatist congress. She bit the inside of her lip with a stifled whimper as harnesses evolved into cuffs and synthrope. Rex tied up? That was the last thing she need to be picturing; he was not helping!
His gaze shot to her face, having caught the sound. "Something wrong, Commander?"
"I-" her throat closed and, unable to respond at the caress he slid into her rank, she stared at him for a heartbeat before clearing her throat, her voice coming out hoarse. "We're not here to end the war; we're here to find you clothes so we can locate my missing people."
He nodded, abruptly all business again. "Shall we see what we can find then?"
"A... are you going to," she glanced at him apprehensively, wishing he'd put his armor back on, "wear that?"
Why not? Why not?! Because it was indecent! Because she was going to go out of her mind while he did. Because he wouldn't be able to concentrate on anything but that neatly outlined package at the apex of his thighs and the tight rear of his that was just calling, begging to be bitten while cupped so lovingly in those pants? Because, for all she'd seen him in his body glove time and time again, there was just something so unbelievably sexy about the way his bare feet gripped the floor or the way he-
"No reason," she muttered darkly, ducking out the door and fleeing temptation as she called over her shoulder, "you check in here, I'll check the stalls."
It gave her space - except she could still see every detailed and lovingly nestled inch of him every time she blinked.
Focus, she snapped at herself as she began to sort through several items of clothing in the stall that was obviously for men. Tunics and wraps were placed aside as she deliberately focused on the task at hand. Rex was partial to Torrent Company blue - and looked damn sexy in it - and black and white. She added a couple of gold and silver items for him to try, taking her time and giving herself a chance to calm down before returning to the small shop.
It's just Rex, Ahsoka.
The admonishment to herself didn't have the desired effect.
I know it's just Rex, but it's a damn sexy Rex; not that I noticed before.
How could I not notice? The man's sex appeal is off the charts with those burgundy and caf colored eyes; the gruff voice; that tough, muscular physique, especially those tight-
Snap out of it! You've seen plenty of clones in less than he's wearing now; Force, you've seen him in less than he's wearing now!
I know, but this is different; I can't... ugh!
"Great, now I'm talking to myself," she muttered, scooping up what she'd found and heading back to the shop. She stepped in, unable to see him. "Rex?"
"Here," he called, his voice coming from behind the curtain. "Did you find anything?"
"A few things. What have you got?"
"I'll let you see when you're ready."
He stepped out and her eyes widened comically. "You're not serious."
She nodded. He was in a traditional tunic of her people, the straps around and across his chest holding the fabric that hid it from view in place. Down, underneath, were the short, knee length leggings. She frowned, tilting her head and offered - reluctantly and hesitantly. "Maybe without the tunic?"
Ahsoka grinned, charmed by the gruff response. "Oh sure, you can wear those sinful... those... what?"
"You think my jeans are sinful?"
"Is that what you call them?" His eyes gleamed before he disappeared beyond the curtain again. Ahsoka took the opportunity to place the stack she'd found near the doorway. "Do you really think this is going to work, Rex?"
She blew out a breath. "This plan."
"As long as I only have to play the slave, not act it," he returned, the sound of clothing hitting the floor doing funny things to her insides.
Ahsoka quickly back stepped, away from the curtain and what was occurring behind it, turning to face one of the built in wall shelves without seeing it. "You might have to play it."
"So what kind of slave am I then?"
She frowned, not having considered that angle. "What do you mean?"
"I mean," his voice stopped being muffled and she turned, biting back a grin at his displeased expression, the loose leggings done in puce grasped at his ankles and hips, a shirt in see-through gold highlighting his musculature nicely, even as it set off his hair like some fabled hero of old. It made him seem exotic; untouchable. "Am I so be your fool, for entertainment? You personal slave? Pleasure slave?"
And suddenly she wanted nothing more than to touch.
Clasping her hands behind her back, knowing the chevrons on her montrals and lekku weren't returning to their normal state any time soon, she swallowed hard and regarded him critically. Striving for a light atmosphere between them, she sought to tease him. "You look like you could fill the first and the last in that thing."
"Pink turns you on?"
"It's more purple than pink." It was a ridiculous argument. "I was referring to the shirt; just the thing, I think."
"Don't want me shirtless, Ahsoka?"
She grinned a predator's smile. "Better shirtless than that... whatever you called that thing you were wearing with your 'jeans'." she quoted the word, making him grin.
"Keep the shirt; copy that," he turned, pulling the curtain away as he collected the stack she'd left him. "Let's find some pants."
"What was that, Commander?"
Oh no... I didn't just... she winced, realizing she'd said it allowed and she'd not intended to. "Nothing," she offered a weak smile when he shot her a questioning look. "Nothing. Just.. Let's get this over with, we don't have much time."
Rex proceeded to model several items for her in quick succession, all without the shirt.
There was a toga style, silver garment that wrapped part of his chest and low on his hips, exposing more flesh than it covered. Pants so tiny he'd almost not come out to show them, claiming true indecency - and sending her into a fit of laughter when he'd emerged. A wrapped skirt-like hip cover that resembled his towel on board the Resolute; the look he'd given her upon appearing in it made her think of Rex in the shower.
He'd beaten a hasty retreat when she'd shaken her head, unable to look at him.
In the end, Ahsoka agreed that the shirt would look just 'the thing' with his workout shorts. Leaving a note for the shopkeeper to explain where the garment had gone when he returned safely - for she would rescue her people - she was straightening to find Rex behind her in his new civvies, having pulled his boots on under the loose lower legs.
Once again she was struck by the almost vulgar aspect of the pants; except with such a masculine show on display it was anything but. Her mouth went dry as she pinned him with a look. "Those things are indecent."
"To you," he agreed as he slung the bag holding his borrowed top and kit over his shoulder. "We're heading out right away and I'm just going to have to change anyway; this will make it easier."
She opened her mouth to protest his logic. Paused. Thought better of it, and then exhaled a long, soft breath. "We're going to find them, aren't we?"
"We're not just going to find them, Ahsoka," he promised, suddenly solemn and all business. "We're going to rescue them."
Buoyed by his confidence and attitude, she let herself believe him, not imagining for a moment that she'd soon have to make a life altering choice that would cleave her heart in two. His welfare or that of her people; it would not, she'd come to realize in a single moment of clarity, be an easy choice.