She sat across from him on the most comfortable cushion she could find, taking a peek at him every now and then just to see if he was coming out of meditation… and each time she was disappointed. She struggled to hold an aggravated sigh.
As she closed her eyes again, she tried to keep her back straight. Her focus was on the smell of the incense, but after a while she found her posture slumped and her mind wandering. She had only been his padawan for a few weeks, and in those few weeks their meditative retreats were spent doing small, seemingly meaningless tasks together around the Temple.
She looked up to find him trying to intimidate her. He tried to glare, but really she could see that he was just as bored as she was.
"Scoot over closer." He relaxed his legs and put his hands to his side, stretching out for a moment before getting back into the proper position.
Ahsoka did as she was told, nearly knocking over the incense burner by accident. She sat back down in the proper position, staring at him in hope that he would change his mind, and they would go do something fun.
Obviously exhausted, Anakin sighed and ignored her guilt-inducing look. He closed his eyes and put his hands so that they were resting on both of their knees. "Put your hands in mine," he said softly.
She did and closed her eyes, sitting up straight, but releasing a dramatic sigh that made Anakin chuckle. She couldn't help but feel slightly accomplished for making her master laugh.
"I know it's boring."
Ahsoka's mind filled with snarky comments. How was this supposed to help her meditate? How was holding his hands supposed to help her clear her mind; if anything, it sent her mind into overdrive. She couldn't lie… she liked him.
"I'm going to pull you into meditation with me. Don't think of anything stupid, Snips." He warned.
"Worry about your own thoughts, Skyguy." She sighed and tried her best not to think of anything. Especially not him.
Don't think about how he's holding your hands. Don't think about how your knees are almost touching his. Don't think about how you're in this room alone… together. Don't think about any of that. He's your master. He's way too old for you.
She felt him tug on their Force bond before pulling her into the Force.
It felt warm and comforting. It was like someone had thrown a heated blanket over her. She sighed in pleasure and felt her mind drift off, almost like she was going to fall asleep.
She remembered what her training had told her. Release your feelings into the Force. Let the Force take over.
That was the last thing she wanted to do. She wanted to bask in the warmth of the Force. She didn't want to corrupt this bliss with her petty problems. She didn't want to destroy the tranquility that so greatly contrasted the battlefield.
There was a cut into the tranquility. It felt as though someone had briskly pulled off a bacta patch. She was almost ripped from the warmth, but found herself seeking more.
Ahsoka groaned and felt that it had escaped her lips. She could feel her body, her breathing slow as though she was sleeping. She felt as though she was nearly about to go under again.
She waited for Anakin to pull her back under, but he didn't. She felt his hands come out from under her own and felt him move away from her, the warmth leaving with him.
She focused on mentally grabbing the warmth and peace that she had felt. She focused hard on bringing it back, but the more she focused the more it disappeared, until she was left with a strange feeling in her lower back and cramps in her legs.
She opened her eyes to the dim light. Anakin sat across from her, leaning against the wall with his legs spread out and a slight smile on his face. She frowned at him and stretched her arms before laying back on the floor.
"I'm proud of you, you managed to meditate on your own for a while." He turned to the incense which were now stubs still giving off the strong scent that reminded Ahsoka of Master Obi-Wan.
"Is it different for everyone? What you feel when you meditate?" She asked, staring up at the boring ceiling.
"It varies. When Obi-Wan pulled me into his meditation like I did with you it was… too focused." He took the stubs out of the incense burner and ground them into the plank of wood to snuff out the embers.
"Master, I've read about Jedi receiving messages through the Force… like visions. I want to have that strong of a connection to the Force. When I asked Master Obi-Wan he told me to talk to you." She sat up, leaning back on her arms.
Anakin looked uncomfortable. He didn't look up from the incense to meet her eyes, he just continued to roll the remains of the stick under his fingertips. "There's nothing to talk about." He got up from the floor and dragged his meditation cushion over to the far corner with the others. "I'll give you the remainder of the day to rest."
Ahsoka cast him a slight glare. "Master."
He opened the door and left her in the gloomy room all by herself.
Ahsoka was used to doing things on her own. She had learned faster than her peers and was assigned to be a padawan before anyone else in her clan. She spent her mealtimes alone, her studies alone, and her free time alone. Anakin changed that at times, he would join her or help her with her studies, but as a Jedi Knight he too had duties.
She laid on her bed and stared up at the plain sheets on her bed. The same ugly tan that many Jedi Masters chose for their robes. The same ugly tan that covered many of the halls and floors. A bland, ugly tan.
Ahsoka rolled over onto her back and stared up at the ceiling. She could feel the younglings in the quarters above hers jumping around on the floor, the slight thumping of their feet and the muted laughter as they played. She envied them.
The young Togruta closed her eyes and tried to clear her mind. She wondered if she could achieve the warmth and tranquility that her master had introduced her to. Usually when she tried to meditate it took her hours to even get close to relaxed. The one time she successfully achieved meditation she had fallen asleep and she found herself sleeping through the next day's Council meeting. Ahsoka preferred to meditate by fixing things or taking things apart as she had seen her master do constantly; consequently, she couldn't understand why he had insisted they meditate in the meditation rooms.
She couldn't lie, though. She felt different and connected. The Force felt stronger to her. She could feel the other Jedi, padawans, and younglings as they walked down the halls. She tried to open herself up to the Force, letting her shields down and stopping her persistent thoughts to make room for peace.
But her mind kept drifting to her master and his reaction to when she asked him about Force visions. He was so cold and quiet whenever she brought up a topic that required talking about himself. Anakin didn't talk about Tatooine, Senator Amidala, Master Qui-Gon Jinn, and his life before the Order, or anything that could even be closely related to him being the Chosen One. Ahsoka had resorted to checking his files in the Jedi Temple library, or asking other Jedi Masters about things he refused to talk about… but they always led her straight back to him.
Her thoughts stopped.
Pain seared through her face as though someone had just slapped her. Panic cut through her mind and sent her heart flying. She took a quick, fast breath in but couldn't release it. Her mind was reacting like someone had hurt her, but her body felt…
She couldn't feel her body.
She felt her mind beginning to slip into unconsciousness. She tried to fight against the darkness that frightened her far more than the difficulty to breathe.
Warmth. It felt warm.
Her eyes closed.
She blindly reached out and everything stopped.
She opened her eyes to two distinct colors. Half of what she saw was the same ugly linen color of the Jedi Temple, the other half was the most magnificent pale blue she had ever seen. She had been here before-even recently.
The scene in front of her warped, and in a blink she found herself in a busy market. Beings of all species, mostly intelligent if one went by the Republic's standards, a mix of different sizes and colors, milled about. They all walked among her as though she wasn't even there. She heard conversations in many different tongues that she didn't even recognize.
A cry pierced above all of the blather. A cry that shook her to her core. She looked around curious and frightened to find the source.
She pushed past a few groups, her arms passing through the forms as though they, or possibly herself, were made of cloud. Adrenaline filled her mind and her veins, but the same cry cut through it like a knife. She ran off in the direction, not bothering to push past passersby.
A little boy, maybe four years old, stood in between two large market tents. His arms at his side as he cried. His wavy mess of bronze hair fell in his teary blue eyes as he continued to wail. No one around him seemed to notice.
She took a few steps closer to him and knelt down to his level. "Shh," she shushed him. "What's wrong?" she asked with a small, friendly smile.
The boy didn't react to her. He continued to cry, for a moment she thought he acknowledge her when he raised an arm to wipe away some of his tears, but the tears kept coming.
"My name's Ahsoka, what's yours?" She asked. She held out a hand to him, but she knew it was a lost cause.
The boy's crying quickly silenced when a shadow fell over both of them. Ahsoka watched as his already frightened eyes widened. His chest continued to heave with broken sobs albeit much quieter than before.
Ahsoka stood and took a step back. A man stood where she had just leaned down. His body covered in thick dusty wrappings, but the emerald skin uncovered was riddled with scars. His menacing form towered over the small boy.
"Where's your master?" His voice dark enough to send chills down Ahsoka's spine. She walked through him and turned to face him.
His face partly covered by a large band of cloth that covered his left eye, his skin less marred by scars. His teeth as rotten as his pretense. He growled at the still crying boy. "Where is your master?" It didn't sound like a question.
The boy shrunk against the wall, shielding himself with his arms.
Ahsoka instinctively crouched down to protect the boy, her arm went straight for her hip to grab her lightsaber… her arm flew through one side of her body to the other. She didn't care. She swung her arm back and swiped through the man with no success before screaming, "Leave him alone!"
The man reached through her chest and grabbed the little boy's arm. He lifted him up despite the boy's screaming and yelled, "Whose slave is this?"
The boy struggled in the man's grip, tears falling from his face again.
Ahsoka looked around, a few people had stopped to look at what was going on. From a few market stands away she could see someone trying to part the crowd to get closer to them.
A young woman with beautiful dark hair nearly fell towards them. Ahsoka tried to move in to steady her, but her hands went through the woman.
The man lowered the boy and pushed him into the young woman. The young woman fell to her bottom, but embraced the boy tightly. "Oh, Ani. Don't ever leave me like that again."
Darkness surrounded her. She couldn't tell if her eyes were closed, or if everything around her was dismal. She reached around her, feeling nothing. She couldn't even feel if her arms were truly lifted or not.
Ahsoka felt a painful heat lash across her back and brightness flashed through her eyes and mind. She knelt down in the same rusty sand, her body tired and sore. She forced herself to look up, blinking hard to adjust to the oppressive light.
The same dark haired woman knelt in front of her just inches from her face. The woman's face pained, but accepting. Her eyes closed tightly, tears at the corners, her lips just as tight.
Ahsoka knew not to look up. She knew that if she looked up she would only be disgusted. With a sharp 'snap' and the painful gasp of the woman in front of her, she forced herself to look up. A whip sliced through her face as it rebound across the woman's back.
Ahsoka turned sharply just as the woman was about to, only for the man behind her to grab her head and push it down vehemently. He planted his boot on her back and drove her into the sand, through Ahsoka's lap.
Ahsoka put her shaking hands on the woman's bleeding back. She wanted nothing more than to soothe this broken woman. She wanted to stop the bleeding, to give her a bacta patch, and to take care of her and her son. The woman didn't even have the strength to get up to her knees. She didn't have the strength to pick her head up, or to open her mouth. Ahsoka could feel the woman's desire to tell her son to hide.
There was another crack of the whip and Ahsoka looked to find the man standing in front of the small boy from earlier. He was older now. Maybe six or seven years old. He was so terrified he couldn't even cry. His body shook, he bit his lip and when the man raised his hand the boy instinctively raised his arms over his face.
The man laughed and snapped the whip. Ahsoka wanted to close her eyes or look away, but she was forced to watch as he lashed the top of the boy's head and his arm. The boy screamed and crumpled into a ball, to further protect himself.
The man laughed again and snapped the whip, this time at the wall, just to watch the boy flinch.
To him, this was all a game. They were nothing but toys.
Rage filled Ahsoka's heart. She attempted to put her hand on the young woman's shoulder before getting to her feet and stomping over to the man. She tried to grab at his hand before he snapped the whip down again, but he disappeared the moment her hand came close to his.
She found herself sitting on a beat up cot in a small sand rock hut. There was nothing of value around her, a few minor belongings. On a work bench across from her sat scattered parts of droids and the instruments used to put them back together. Ahsoka stood and wandered over, looking at the parts and wondering their origins. She reached to pick up the head of a protocol droid and when her hand passed through it she saw the eyes flicker.
The gold pieces around it reminded her of Padme's service droid. The annoying one that was always blabbing on about things and talking with R2.
"Mom?" The boy from earlier walked through the doorway at her right. He was about the same age as she had last seen him. He looked around for his mother, peering around a few corners before he heard her enter from the same entrance he had just came from.
"Ani," she breathed, obviously exhausted. She bent down and hugged him gently.
"Mom, where were you?" he asked in a soft voice as she brushed her hand through his tangled waves.
She was quiet and hid her face behind him, perching her head on his small shoulder. She rubbed his back with her other hand and Ahsoka wanted to do nothing more than wrap her arms around them both as his mother cried.
"Anakin, there are some things I hope you never understand and never have to experience." She said through her tears, trying to hide the fact that she was crying to her son.
Ahsoka fell. Her hands went to her face, but she stopped when she realized she couldn't even touch her own skin. She stared at the two in pain and disbelief. She understood now. She understood everything.
Anakin. Little Anakin pulled back from his mother. "Mommy, why are you crying?"
She looked up at him, stroked his face, looked back down, and let herself cry. She shook with sobs, taking her son back into her arms.
Ahsoka walked over, she knew she too was crying. She sat down on the floor near the two of them and wanted to do nothing more than hug them. She wanted them to know that the galaxy wasn't against them. She wanted them to know that things would be okay. Things were bound to be okay. They had to be.
Her heart ached.
How could one small boy with messy bronze hair and startling blue eyes become the Chosen One? How could one small boy that grew up a slave, watching his mother be beaten into the sand, become such an inspiration? How could he become the "Hero with No Fear"?
"Leave her alone!" Anakin shouted at a man that Ahsoka didn't even realize had stepped in through their doorway. It was the man that had whipped them before, the one with a long scar across his face and dark eyes, the one whose face was covered in cloth worn by desert pirates and raiders. He was somewhat surprised by the young boy's tone.
"Anakin!" his mother cried. "Don't." She held him closer. "Just don't."
The man took a few more steps inside, his eyes focused on the boy. He pried the two apart forcefully, grabbing Anakin by the upper arm. His grip was so strong that Ahsoka feared it would break the boy. The man shook Anakin before pulling him in close to his face.
"You dare say one more thing to me and I'll detonate your kriffing transmitter, scum." He pushed the boy down to the ground. The man bent down to Anakin's mother, took her face in his hands, and whispered something to her that made her face turn completely white.
The man shoved her back down before walking over her and walking back outside.
The two laid there on the ground, tears in their eyes, staring at each other. Broken.
Someone shook her.
Her eyes opened. She shot forward. Her hands pushed the person away from her. Her heart raced. Her mind screaming with panic. Her chest raged with uncontrollable breathing.
Her master pushed her hands off of his face. He knelt in closer to her and waited for her to gain control of her thoughts.
"I'm sorry, master." Her voice hoarse and soft.
"Ahsoka, what happened? I came in to check on you and you were nearly screaming in your sleep." He put a hand on her shoulder and gently caressed her arm.
She sat there for a moment staring at the floor looking for the answers. Something had happened—something through the Force. Ahsoka could still feel it humming inside of her. She could still feel the warmth… the roughness.
He raised his other hand to wipe away a tear that had fallen down her face. She hadn't even realized it. She looked up at him and shook her head.
"I have no idea, master. I-I don't remember." She sounded scared.
He pulled her in for an awkward hug and she relaxed in his arms. He pulled back from her, watching her face as she struggled to find answers.
"Ahsoka, the Force works in ways we don't understand. In ways we'll never understand." He sighed and looked down. "Don't be afraid of what it shows you. Don't let that fear control you. As your master I'm here for you. No matter what it is."
She felt that there was more behind his words than he let show. She felt that she was missing something that the Force had given her. The Force had gifted her answers, then taken them away, and given her even more questions.
She put her face in her hands for a moment, breathing deeply, before looking up at her concerned master. "Let's go get something to eat."
Anakin smirked. "It's nearly oh-two hundred." He got up from his knees and offered her a hand up. "We'll have to be quiet, Snips."
She smiled back and took his hand, following him through the Temple.