Disclaimer: Star Wars belongs to Disney and is the intellectual property of George Lucas. He created the sandbox. I'm making no money off of this and am simply destroying the sandcastles.
Characters: Ahsoka Tano, Lux Bonteri
Genre: Hurt/Comfort, Angst
Era: The Clone Wars Post Season 5, Episode 20, pre Order 66
Summary: After leaving the Jedi order, Ahsoka Tano returns to Onderon to try and sort out what happens next with her life…
Author's Note: Big 'Thank You's to JainDo for helping me come up with the perfect title and to Amaryllis Complex for listening to me hem and haw about this and toss ideas her way. You were a great sounding board!
This idea's been in the works since Episode 20 of Season 5 aired and is pre-written. Look for Updates on Mondays.
Author's Note Two: This references the events in "Beyond a Shadow…V" of my "Captain and Commander" canon Vignette series. The most important fact being that Ahsoka is in possession of Rex's blasters. Other than that, you probably don't need to read it to follow this.
This is -not- a romance fic, for all it may look that way. You've been warned.
Two Days Post Leaving the Jedi Order
Landing on Onderon was everything Ahsoka had expected it to be.
With nothing more than the clothes on her back, she stepped off the private transport Lux Bonteri had sent for her and into the glaring sun. Casting a brief look around, she had time to take in the scenery only briefly before a familiar figure, slightly taller than herself, came into focus as it made its way across the landing pad.
With no friends outside the Jedi order or the GAR, and no one else who would have sent a ship for her, to take her a much needed distance from the core, she was on Onderon because she really didn't have anywhere else to go. Admittedly, Onderon wasn't that far, but Ahsoka felt better - and worse - just being off Coruscant.
Unease settled in the pit of her stomach, countered by that relief, and warring with the sorrow her time in hyperspace had brought to the forefront. A sorrow that had nothing to do with her circumstance and everything to do with everything, everyone, she'd left behind.
Master Plo - his willingness to initiate the move that would have had her reinstated, the closest thing she'd had to a father since joining the Jedi. The individual who'd been willing to spearhead the idea, but not back her when she'd been accused. A betrayal of her trust on the basest of levels she couldn't forgive nor forget.
Master Obi-Wan - the one dissenting voice among the council, the one who'd doubted her capable of the crimes she'd been accused of, but forced to go along with the majority of the council. A man who'd been as much a mentor as her own Master in his own way. A man who had taught her that forethought and planning had as much a place in war as action and reaction.
Anakin - fighting for her freedom and proof of her innocence, but not trusting her to find it herself. A man who'd been both mentor and friend but also a lodestone around her neck. His disappointment and disillusionment were a palpable weight even now, as if she'd somehow failed him by making the choice that was best for her in walking away from an order who wouldn't support her when she needed it most.
Rex - her ever present, supporting Captain and the man who'd had her back and trusted her beyond a shadow of a doubt. The closest friend she'd ever had without realizing it. Mentor, confidante and partner, he'd believed in her right to the end, defending her to brothers who believed her guilty. Letting her go with a dignity and grace that were as much a part of him as his tenacity and passion in battle, he'd taken the burden of telling Torrent Company from her. A burden she felt even now.
She should have said goodbye but hadn't been able to bring herself to.
Caressing the grips of the blasters that hung on her hips where her lightsabers had once been, she took a deep breath and squared her shoulders. Her sorrow was accompanied with a kind of surreal numbness. That she found herself in the position she was now in seemed unreal.
As unreal as the truth of Barriss' betrayal. A truth that was undeniable from the lips of the young woman she'd thought to be her closest friend, especially among the Jedi. She'd been another Padawan to relate to, to bond with, to share life and death situations.
And Barriss had betrayed her anyway. Ahsoka'd been set her up to take the fall for something Barriss had done and would have done again, given the chance.
While Ahsoka's transport had been landing on Onderon, she'd found herself examining the whys. Why had Barriss chosen her to take the fall? Why and what had driven Barriss to that point? Even the impassioned speech the other Padawan had given at the military trial hadn't been enough to convince Ahsoka. There had to have been more, something she'd done specifically to force Barriss into using her as a target.
The 'Why' of any of it was an answer Ahsoka would probably never get as Barriss' fate was an unknown, in Jedi hands, and Ahsoka was a Jedi no more.
No longer a Jedi.
It was a nightmare. Everything she'd ever wanted was gone. Everything she'd ever wanted to be, like ashes at her feet, her dreams destroyed by the fires of the very war she'd been fighting for so long. Another casualty.
It was surreal. Unreal.
Yet it was.
Lux finished crossing the platform, slowing his run to a walk as he neared her, an eager smile on his boyishly features. Eager to see her and have her here. He didn't seem to notice her preoccupation, the fact she didn't return his smile. He seemed oblivious to the fact she was shaking slightly, staring at him on the verge of a break down she didn't feel she could afford.
Everything was just too much to handle and his happy demeanor was contrary to everything she was feeling, everything she needed to have understood.
Even to her own hearing, her voice sounded… wrong.
Whatever it sounded like to him, his smile faltered and faded. He stopped an arm's length away, taking her in from head to toe in a quick visual assessment, his smile completely dying as he did. Ahsoka was wondering what he saw when she suddenly found herself engulfed in a tight, almost desperate hug.
Lux's arms wrapped around her waist and he pulled her to him. Tucking her against his chest, he pressed his cheek against the curve of one lekku. "I'm sorry, Ahsoka," he told her softly. "I know what being a Jedi meant to you."
The words were heartfelt, filled with a genuine regret she could more than just hear, but feel. Her throat closed, her arms coming up to wrap around his shoulders as she gripped him tightly, fighting to find the words. They refused to come as the weight of her decision and the spiraling consequences made her sag into his arms, gratefully taking the support and sympathy he offered.
She needed this comfort, this understanding.
Anakin had professed to understand, but he'd been too caught up in his own pain to see hers. Rex, when she'd left him, had understood, but she couldn't have clung to him as she now did to Lux. If she'd held on to Rex, she wouldn't have been able to let go. Would have been drawn back into a system she could no longer support. She'd never have forgiven herself, or Rex, if that had happened.
Which left her with now. Held tight in the arms of a young man for whom she'd held conflicting feelings for some time. Clinging to him, she closed her eyes, tilting her head to his shoulder, and finally, the tears came.
Lux held her as she cried, silent, heartfelt tears, murmuring words of comfort and caring she didn't fully catch. Words that let her know she was no longer alone. Promises to support her in the absence of the network she'd always relied upon and he would never let anyone abuse her the way the Jedi had done. He promised to protect her, to never let anyone do to her what the military had tried, and nearly succeeded, in doing.
No matter what they were, they were words she needed in those moments. Words she needed to believe. Words she needed to bolster the conviction that had sustained her in the aftermath of walking away from everything she'd ever known. Words that assured her she'd made the right decision in coming here and to him. Where else she would have gone, she didn't know, but in that moment, being held against Lux's slim form, she might not have felt protected, but she felt vindicated.
Everyone had abandoned her.
Be it by action or inaction, the only person who'd cared to see to her welfare was the one who now held her. The one who'd tried to stop her from walking away from the Jedi could have come with her and hadn't. The one who had simply accepted her choice had given her a method to protect and defend herself, but not been able to walk beside her.
It wasn't fair. It wasn't rational. It wasn't even logical, but in those moments and the hours leading up to this embrace, those had all fled. Exhausted, beaten down by the choices she'd been forced to make, Ahsoka found she didn't care.
This was the start of who she would become.
Here, on Onderon, she would begin to heal.
She needed to leave everything behind her, to believe that this was where she was supposed to be. At some point she would have to deal with the psychological and emotional overload that had so completely overwhelmed her - but not in that moment.
Tomorrow would be soon enough.
Tightening her grip on the young man who held her securely in his embrace, she closed her eyes against the maelstrom of agony and willed herself to numbness.