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Retrospective

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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.

"Ahsoka."

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.

Tatooine.

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.

"Mom!"

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.

Anakin.

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.

"Ahsoka!"

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.

Chapter Text

“Master Kenobi?” Ahsoka slid into the co-pilot chair and immediately made herself small, bringing her legs up to her chest and wrapping her dark arms around herself. She didn’t look at him, she looked at the calming blue pulsating of the hyperspace lane that was taking them to Coruscant.

He turned to her slightly with a, “Hmm?” He set his datapad down on the console, giving her his full attention.

“I’ve been having strange nightmares,” She admitted to herself, she closed her eyes. She felt like such a baby complaining to her master about something as petty as nightmares. “About Anakin.” She wanted to bury her face in something to stop the embarrassing blush from crawling up her lekku and to her face.

Master Kenobi’s initial reaction in the Force was apprehensive. She felt as though she had stumbled upon a topic that she shouldn’t have. He was just going to tell her to meditate on it; she was so stupid.

“I’ve tried meditating on it, and it only makes them worse.” She blurted as he turned to face her.

He placed a hand on her shoulder, “Ahsoka, tell me what happens in your nightmares.”

She looked at him and found nothing but sincerity in his eyes and stance. She felt her legs drop off of the edge of the chair and she looked at him, somewhat terrified. She closed her eyes and thought back, “Ever since Anakin tried to pull me into meditation with him, I’ve been having these awful Force vision nightmares about slavery.”

Obi-Wan waited patiently for her to continue, for her to talk about the horrible things that she had seen and almost felt.

“There’s this woman, she’s small and kind of frail. She cries a lot. At first, I thought I was seeing the past. Anakin was there, he was really little, though. I thought she was his mother until he disappeared, and things got worse.” She closed her eyes and leaned back in the co-pilot chair so that it reclined.

“What does she look like?”

“She’s pale, she’s very thin, like she hasn’t eaten in days. She has dark, wavy hair, it’s very long. She has dark eyes.” Ahsoka closed her eyes and it was almost like a visual of the woman came to her. “She’s always crying. I think, I think she’s being abused…” Ahsoka didn’t realize she was crying until her breathing shuddered as she inhaled, “I think her master is abusing her sexually.” She opened her eyes and rubbed away the tears—Jedi don’t cry.

Obi-Wan stood and walked to the back of the cabin where the pilot’s area divided into a room of two bunks and a shambling life support station. He closed the metal sliding door as quietly as he could, as to not wake up Anakin who had fallen asleep. He wandered back to his pilot’s chair and sat down, swiveling to face his apprentice’s apprentice. “I don’t want you to tell Anakin any of this.”

She nodded, instantly understanding why. These visions were terrifying, and the last thing Anakin needed to worry about was the woman on Tatooine. She didn’t want him to fret over how he had somehow given her these visions and plagued her with nightmares that hadn’t stopped in a few weeks.

"What exactly did you do with Anakin to create such a tight bond?” Obi-Wan asked, sipping the tea that he had made himself earlier. It was probably as cold as ice by now, but he didn’t let that stop him from enjoying it.

Ahsoka turned in towards Obi-Wan, “I couldn’t focus when we were meditating, and he pulled me into meditation with him. He said that you had done the same thing when he was younger and couldn’t focus.”

Obi-Wan nodded, “Did you see anything when he pulled you into meditation with him? Is that when the visions started?”

Ahsoka shook her head. “No visions. Only warmth and relaxation. It was like I was lying in a sunny meadow. He pulled away and I couldn’t keep it for very long. The visions started when I went back to my room and tried to do it on my own… I couldn’t really keep focus, and my thoughts started wandering, and then I had the visions.” She mumbled.

Obi-Wans eyebrows pulled together and he stroked his beard. “Do you think you could pull me into one of these visions with you?”

She pulled her legs back up and crossed them so her knees rested against the armrests of her chair. “I could try, I might need some help getting into a meditative state.” She smiled a little, embarrassed by her shortcomings. She had become a padawan at an earlier age than all the rest because of her brilliance and abilities, but she couldn’t manage to do something younglings could do.

Obi-Wan smiled back, kindly, “Close your eyes,”

She did so, leaning into the back of the co-pilot chair. She felt his hands on her own.

The air smelled of stale incense, behind her eyelids there were small flickering lights, almost like candles that seemed to dance in the cool air.

“It’s all you now.”

She focused hard on the woman, on Anakin’s mother. She imagined the brutality of her most recent vision and suddenly the lights behind her eyes disappeared, as did the smell of incense, and the cool air turned hot.


 

Ahsoka opened her eyes to the small confines of the room. A hammock and cot were set up in one corner, a table pressed up against the wall, and the lithe woman from before hunched over a sand brick countertop, her chest heaving with sobs.

Reflexively, Ahsoka took a step forward and reached for the woman, but she felt something pull her back. Something held her other arm tightly, almost as though if they let go, the world around them would let go as well.

She turned to find Obi-Wan, his eyes told her everything. She took a step back and the simply observed the woman’s pain. She felt wrong. She should be holding the poor woman, helping her find a way out of this hellish pile of sand.

“There’s nothing we can do,” Obi-Wan’s voice whispered reassuringly in her mind. “That’s Anakin’s mother. She’s been dead for years.”

Ahsoka’s heart plummeted from her chest and sank somewhere onto the floor. She took a step back, almost bumping into Obi-Wan as she let her legs give out. She sat on the floor, watching the woman cry. She too wanted to cry, but Jedi didn’t do such a thing.

“You pathetic excuse for life,” A voice boomed from the far doorway. It was the tall man, the one that wore the scraps of beige fabric with the scar across his face. His presence made both Ahsoka and Anakin’s mother shudder in horror.

Anakin’s mother took a step back before she bowed respectfully to the man, her body still trembling with fearful sobs. “I’m sorry,” she managed to say, her voice almost a soft whisper.

He slapped her with enough force that her legs couldn’t catch up with the momentum and she fell to the floor. She didn’t cry harder, or even scream despite the pain that she was in. She sat there on the dusty stone ground and stared at the man’s scruffy dark boots. He took a step closer to her, then bent down in front of her. He grabbed her face with one harsh, dry hand, caking dirt on her soft cheeks. With his other hand he tore at the front of her dress.

Ahsoka stood, “No!” She screamed, pulling past Kenobi and marching over to the scene.

“Ahsoka!” Kenobi scolded.

She blocked him out as she pushed past the small circular table in the center of the room and slid herself in between the man and the woman. She sank to the floor and tried to push the man away from Anakin’s mother as he began to lower himself down through her as though she was nothing more than empty air.

He pulled away at her dress and Ahsoka screamed into his face as the man began to push the woman down further onto the ground until she was laying still.

Ahsoka stood and tried to grasp at a large pot that sat on the countertop. When her hands went through the material she focused herself on the Force and suddenly, the pot wobbled in its place.

Her heart leapt. She was influencing the atmosphere.

She closed her eyes and thrust both hands out, shifting all of her focus on the single dark, beaten pot and as though someone had swiped their arm across the counter, the pot flew off of the counter and hit the floor next to them with a clang.

The man didn’t stop. He eased himself down onto the woman and began to furiously pull away at the wrappings near his groin.

Ahsoka felt unbearably sick. She stumbled back from where she stood and sat on the steps near the doorway as the man had his way. She screamed, her throat tearing in pain as water from her eyes began to fall down her dirtied face.

The air fell cold and everything turned black.


 

She could hear cries that weren’t her own. These cries were too sharp, they were of pure, uncontaminated suffering. They pierced her mind and she stood from the dusty sandy dune where she was sitting. Her feet sunk into the sand, but when she looked down the sand remained untouched.

She looked around nervously for Obi-Wan and felt his hand on her shoulder. She turned back and he looked at her, his eyes soft and heartbroken. He pointed somewhere ahead of them where the woman from before was trudging through the dunes.

The woman slipped, with one arm she pushed herself up and continued over a mound, running down the other side as her other arm hung close to her body. She was carrying something wrapped in linen that had once been white.

The wind whipped at them and Ahsoka took a step back, pressing herself against her master, who protectively put his arm around her. They watched silently as the woman stopped in between two dunes to check on her wrappings. She pulled away at the first few layers and smiled softly before saying something that Ahsoka and Obi-Wan couldn’t hear.

Obi-Wan began to move, this time. He led Ahsoka forward and they kept a light, slow pace behind the woman.

That’s when they realized that she was holding a child.

Ahsoka looked at Obi-Wan, fear in her eyes. Why was this woman carrying a child in the desert? Was this child...? Her heart pounded in her chest, like it was going to escape through her ribcage.

The woman began to sing a soft lullaby that the desert wind carried to their ears.

“Is this baby… Master Anakin?” Ahsoka asked Obi-Wan, not bothering to look at him. She let her feet carry her a little quicker than her master. He let his arm fall to his side and she quickly fell into step next to the woman, she peered over and looked at the small, crying, squirmy bundle that the woman held in her arms.

The baby’s small hand reached out from the linen wrappings, reaching out to their mother as they babbled. They weren’t a newborn if they could do such a thing.

Anakin’s mother smiled softly, tears falling down her face again as she continued with her haunting tune. She let the child grasp her finger with all its infant might and she looked forward, onto the setting dual suns.

The infant’s skin was a deeper bronze, much darker than her master’s. Their eyes the same deep, sparkling blue. The careful wrappings that the woman had placed to protect the baby from the sand masked the child’s hair and other any defining marks.

"I don’t think this child is Anakin.” Master Kenobi’s voice was soft, defeated. He pulled Ahsoka back from the woman and they fell into step together. Something told her that he knew what the woman was doing in the bleak nothingness of the desert banks.

The woman stopped again in the trench between two menacing peaks of sand. She knelt down in the fine, light tawny colored granules. She placed her precious bundle down in the soft powdery sand and took her finger back from the small infant. She continued her song until the startling blue eyes began to droop and sleep evened out the small breaths of the baby. She leaned in close and kissed their forehead before standing to her feet.

Tears tracked down her dirtied face and she began to walk back the way of which she came, leaving the dual suns and her beloved bundle behind her. She turned back once she had reached the top of the mound, looking back at the sleeping tot. She blew a kiss and slid down the other side of the dune.

Ahsoka was paralyzed.

“Ahsoka,” Kenobi whispered to her, his hand taking hers.

She couldn’t find the power to respond to him, she couldn’t find the power to move her legs anywhere but forward. She let Kenobi’s hand slip from hers as she walked down the embankment to the tiny bunch. She knelt down in front of the small little baby and tried to gather them in her arms.

"Ahsoka.”

She ignored him and tried again, her hands slipping through the sand and sleeping baby.

“Ahsoka.”

She remembered how she had manipulated the pot before and channeled her energy on the small tot. The sand around them began to blow, stinging her skin. She reached out for the baby.

Obi-Wan put a hand on her shoulder again. “Ahsoka,” he repeated, his voice softer than before. The visions were getting to him too. They were wearing him down. He took her upper arm in his hand and helped her to her feet.

Her eyes were transfixed on the sleeping form in its own sandy crib as she continued to channel the Force.

She felt his arms snake around her in a hug. “There’s nothing we can do,”

 No.” She hissed, her voice menacingly protective over a child that wasn’t hers. “No, master.” She lost the grip that she had on the Force as he pulled her into a tighter embrace.

She couldn’t see the baby anymore. She stared at the grain of the fabric of his tunic. Her sight blurred with tears. She closed her eyes and prayed to the Force.

"By the power of the Force, please,” She begged, she couldn’t find it in her to continue her plea. She shuddered and buried her face into the folds of his scratchy linen tunic.

The scene around them began to darken and she closed her eyes, letting a few more tears soak the woolen linen layers of his tunic.


 

She opened her eyes to a familiar cry, one that she had heard before. She didn’t want to look at the new atrocity that was unfolding in front of her. She cowered into Kenobi’s tunic, she was ready for this all to end. She didn’t want to see anymore.

“Momma,” A little voice cried out, “Momma,” They repeated, this time a little louder. Their feet tapped against the stone floor, past Ahsoka and Obi-Wan to an area by their left. “Momma,” They whined.

Ahsoka pulled back from Obi-Wan out of curiosity, but kept her hands gripping onto the folds of his Jedi attire. She watched as to her side a small, little Anakin crawled up onto the cot next to his sleeping mother.

“Momma,” He cried, he held a finger close to his chest. “Momma it hurts,” He sobbed.

Ahsoka could smell the blood. She pulled away from Obi-Wan as nausea rolled in her stomach. She held his hand tight, her frame shook, anticipating a distressing scene that would haunt the back of her mind for the rest of her days.

Anakin’s mother sat up slowly from her cot. She brushed her dark mess of hair out of her face and smiled kindly at her small son. She lifted him into her lap and smoothed out his wild blonde hair. “What’s wrong, sweetheart?”

He held a finger out to her. Ahsoka could see the ruby blood dripping from a cut that sliced down the side of his finger. The blood dripped onto his sandy, ragged tunics.

“Oh, Ani.” She frowned a little and took his finger, kissing it softly before she lifted him up and set him next to her on the cot. She got up and sifted through a small crate to the side of the bed. She pulled out a small, broken box with a Republic insignia.

It was the sort of kit that they handed out to refugees. The clasps of the small box were broken, she opened it with great care and pulled out a small scrap of gauze. She took out the small tube of ointment that Ahsoka had come to truly appreciate. It came in every medpac and instantly disinfected small wounds, the only downside was its awful smell and the sting it gave when applied.

Anakin’s mother applied a small amount of the ointment to her finger. With her other hand she took Anakin’s hand and stuck the bloody finger into her mouth, cleaning away the blood. She took the finger out of her mouth and tickled Anakin with her free hand.

He giggled, squirming as she quickly applied the ointment. He froze as the medicine met his skin and he tried to blink away the tears that were bound to flow from his little, sparkling blue eyes. Bravely, he watched her wrap the gauze around his finger and secure it with a tiny sliver of medical tape.

“Be careful, ma nyee.” She kissed his forehead and brushed her fingers through his hair.

"You mean ‘mwa nyee’.” He corrected with a smile, hugging his mother tightly.

“What does that mean?” Ahsoka asked the man that she continued to hang on.

“My Huttese isn’t the best, but I think it means ‘my boy’.” Kenobi let his hand trace down Ahsoka’s back.

Anakin’s mother smiled brightly and picked him up, putting him back on her lap. She held him close to her, pressing his head into her chest as she began to sing the same haunting melody that she had sang to the child she abandoned. She nuzzled her head into his hair.

In a frail, loving voice Anakin sang the next verse of her ancient lullaby and she pressed her lips to his head, kissing him. She continued, rocking him back and forth until the tune was over.

“What were you working on?” She asked softly, stroking his arm.

“A present,” He pulled back from her with a wide smile, his eyes closed in delight. He slid out of her lap and ran past Ahsoka and Obi-Wan back outside into the Tatooine suns, then returned with a small shiny piece in his hands. He bounced back onto the cot next to his mother and cupped his hands, hiding the small trinket.

She put her hands out, cupped, ready to accept whatever her son was going to give her.

“Close your eyes,” He instructed.

She obeyed with a smile as he dropped a small intricately folded piece of metal. She picked it up carefully, surveying it. It was small, thin sheets of metal formed to make flower petals with a thick wire threaded through the petals to keep them together. She wrapped her arms around her son and cuddled up close to him, marveling at what he had created.

Ahsoka allowed herself to pull away from Kenobi. She was waiting for the scene to turn grim, waiting for the punch in the gut.

The scene began to dissolve with the sound of an alarm and suddenly Ahsoka was alone, surrounded in black. 

Chapter Text

He was warm and soft. She curled into him, snuggling her face against his dark tunics and pressing her face into the crook of his neck and shoulder. He smelled like military surplus soap with a hint of the sharp, sweet scent of cologne, his longer curls tickled her face when he walked. She kept her eyes closed and relaxed in his arms. A few more minutes sleep…

"Snips?" His voice was soft and low but vibrated in his chest and in her ears. He slowed his pace and came to a stop.

Ahsoka wiggled slightly to get more comfortable in his arms. He had slackened his hold on her and for some reason it wasn't as comfortable. She released a small moan of displeasure and she felt him snicker before raising her up again.

He continued walking, carefully keeping his upper body still by taking smaller more graceful steps. She could sense that he was concerned, his mental shields worn out and weakened.

She could sense that they were in the Temple, she could feel the eyes of others on her as her master carried her down the halls towards her quarters. The atmosphere seemed to buzz with the Force, she could feel peoples' concern for her as well as their curiosity surrounding her condition.

She wondered where Obi-Wan was. The last thing she could remember was when he took her hands in his own and he pulled her into meditation. They had been on their way to Courscant, traveling down a hyperlane. She had told him about the visions, the nightmares, and the crying woman.

"I don't want you to tell Anakin about any of this."

She shivered, the words echoed in her head. It felt wrong. She was invading her master's mind, his memories, his past, and she couldn't tell him about any of it. She knew about Anakin's difficulty when it came to his past. She saw the hints of aggravation and upset that he so desperately hid every time the Hutts, Tatooine, or slavery was brought up by the Council. She had woken up to him mumbling Huttese in his sleep, gasping when he woke from nightmares.

He was trying so desperately to keep it all a secret, to shield her from it, to hide his instability and flaws from the Council… she felt so sorry for him. It was her duty to help him keep up his façade.

She could sense where they were in the Temple. She could sense the doors of private quarters as he carried her past them, she could feel the hollow, emptiness of the vacant bedrooms and meditation chambers as well as the hum of the occupied ones.

"Anakin," She whispered, sleep still heavy in her voice. "You're going the wrong way."

He paused and she felt him panic for a second before he continued the way he was going. "No, I'm going the right way." He whispered back in a tone that made it seem like he was talking to himself rather than to his padawan.

"Our quarters were back there." Ahsoka mumbled, not bothering to look back over his shoulder.

"I'm not taking you to our quarters." He said simply, continuing to stroll down the halls until there were no more private quarters. "I'm taking you to the Healers."

Ahsoka scoffed lightly, "Why? I'm okay."

Anakin tensed defensively, "You passed out and we should make sure that you're okay before the Council sends us out again."

Ahsoka pulled back a little and looked at him. "I feel fine."

"If you feel so 'fine' then let me put you down." He began to lower his padawan and she looped her arm around his neck.

"No, that's okay."

Anakin smiled and brought her down the hall to the familiar dim blue lights of the Halls of Healing. He followed a nervous Twi'lek padawan Healer to one of the beds and gently set Ahsoka down, giving her a gentle Force nudge so she would release him from her tight grip.

"Are you going to stay?" Ahsoka looked to him, worry in her eyes. She didn't pay any attention to the Healer that pulled the blanket over her and gave her instructions to rest. She could see that Anakin was exhausted too. She felt that he deserved to be forced into one of these beds more than she did.

Anakin gave a slight nod and a yawn before settling down in the chair beside his padawan learner. He kicked his feet up on the side of her bed and leaned back in the chair. "So why do you think you passed out?"

Ahsoka stared at the fringe of the blanket, running her finger over the hem. She couldn't tell him about her visions, her dreams. She didn't want him to pull away from her. He didn't tell anyone about his past or what he was thinking and she was finally beginning to understand. He was a puzzle, a riddle, and with these visions she was finally beginning to collect clues and piece them together.

"Have you been sleeping, Snips?"

She shook her head. She had been sleeping, it was just the problem of staying asleep. She would wake an hour or so later with tears in her eyes after seeing another horrific Force vision. It was becoming easier for her to understand why Anakin deprived himself of sleep.

"Why?" He asked. Ahsoka bit her tongue, he was being such a hypocrite.

"Nightmares." She mumbled. It wasn't a total lie…

"Of what?"

She paused. Of what? Of you. Of your mom. Of slavery on Tatooine.

He took her pause as fear, not of telling him, but of the dreams themselves. He sighed, "Snips, you just have to keep telling yourself that none of it is real." He looked over and huffed when she pulled a face.

But it was all real. Too real. She wanted to show him.

"I figured I would find you two together."

Obi-Wan crossed the room and sat on the other side of Ahsoka's bed, patting her leg to let her know that he'd take charge of the conversation. "What were you two talking about?"

Anakin glanced at Ahsoka, he considered bringing it up to him but Ahsoka saw the sudden realization on his face when he realized that she had hidden his nightmares for him, he might as well do the same. "We were talking about starfighters."

"Starfighters?" Kenobi subtlety poked at Anakin's poor lie, looking to Ahsoka in a silent snarky disbelief. "What about them?"

"Ahsoka wants to paint hers." Anakin said simply, looking to his master.

Ahsoka kicked her foot at Anakin's under the blanket and his foot fell off the side of her bed. That part wasn't a lie. She had confided in him and told him about her dreams of a purple starfighter to which he had replied with the ever wise and ever aggravating 'ask the Council'.

Obi-Wan gave Ahsoka a look that she couldn't fully decipher. He seemed surprised and happy, but there was something dark underneath it all. "What color are you thinking of painting yours?"

"Purple, but I'm thinking of waiting until I'm a Jedi Knight." She leaned back against her pillows, looking up at both men that sat by her sides.

Obi-Wan pulled a face and Anakin nodded approvingly.

"The problem with purple… is that it represents monarchy." Obi-Wan explained softly, or perhaps he just sounded soft because he was so far away and she was so tired. "The red of a Jedi starfighter is symbolic of diplomacy, I don't think the Council would sanction purple." He frowned slightly. "You'd have better luck with blue or green, those have already been sanctioned."

"Or, you could talk to the Council. I did it as a padawan. They granted me a yellow and gray starfighter because I asked for one." Anakin crossed his arms over his chest.

"They knew they couldn't stop you. You showed up after the Council recess with yellow paint on your boots." Obi-Wan countered.

Ahsoka sighed, turning on her side and letting her mind drift. She let herself fall asleep to the sounds of her masters bickering.


She felt hot again, brightness burning behind her eyelids, a slight pounding in the back of her mind. It took her minutes to gather the strength—physically, emotionally, and mentally—to raise herself out of the sand and to her feet. She brushed the grains off of her skin and clothes, she was starting to understand Anakin's hatred towards the granules. It felt as though they were there, sticking to her skin, dirtying her clothes, but in fact they weren't. She rubbed at the phantom feelings of sand anyway.

She walked a few steps to the top of the dune, the wind whipping at her like usual, hitting her with small grains of sand.

"Ani!"

She turned around looking for the source, finding nothing but more sand.

"Ani!"

Ahsoka slid down the side of the dune and took off in between the crevasse of two looming piles of sand. She waited a second, anticipating another shout when the same wiry, dark haired woman tumbled down the dune next to her and took off through the slopes.

"Ani!" She screamed, her voice travelling away in the windy sand.

Ahsoka felt hopeless. She wandered behind the woman, almost mechanically as she continued to search. She couldn't do anything. She couldn't feel out for Anakin in the Force and direct his mother to him. She couldn't stop time or speed it up, she couldn't.

"Ani!" Her voice quieted as though she was becoming removed the scene.

"Ani," Now nothing more than a whisper. The winds had quieted, disappeared almost. The scene began to fade to black and Ahsoka felt the same cold detachment as before.


Ahsoka woke to a flurry of faces around her. Healers bustled around her talking amongst themselves in words that seemed unattached or in a different tongue.

The Force felt guarded. She could feel immense pain deep under the currents of compelled calm and relaxation. She could feel Obi-Wan and Anakin a few steps away from her. She prodded the Force around them for answers as one of the Healers slid a hypo under her skin.

She felt Obi-Wan's presence tense with the addition of Ahsoka's presence. He closed himself off from her, a slight suggestion of 'not now'.

It felt too dark. Everything around her felt like the warm, sickening static before a Sith unleashed their Force lightning. The hair on her arms stood, her body strained itself to relax with the dominance of the drugs that now flowed through her veins. Her head became heavy, her eyelids even heavier. She left herself yet again.

Chapter Text

Ahsoka woke again from a dreamless sleep feeling more relaxed than she ever had in her life. The world, no, the universe, no, the ever-uniting Force had wrapped her up in the warmest blanket known to sentient and non-sentient beings. She curled into it with a smile and hummed contently.

"Good afternoon," A pleasant, but tired voice said from beside her.

She picked her head up and opened her eyes, rubbing away the blur. "Master," She said softly with a smile.

"Did you have a good sleep?" Obi-Wan asked with the same smile. He was happy to see her happy and that just made her a little brighter and a little warmer. She loved him. She loved how he cared for her even though she could sense that he was so tired he was going to drop.

"Yes, you should too." She sat up and stretched.

"Do you remember what happened?" He asked.

Ahsoka thought hard for the very last thing she could remember and everything became chilly and dark as though a sun had been hidden by its moon. "I had a vision… of her, again." She swallowed, looking to Obi-Wan, her smile disappeared and tears began to fill her eyes. "I don't know how much more of this I can take," she cried.

Obi-Wan moved from the chair beside her to the bed, pulling her into a hug and letting her cry as he rubbed her shoulders. "It's okay, Ahsoka."

She pulled back, still sobbing. "It's not okay! I'm losing my touch with reality!" She felt a slight rage building inside of her and attempted to quell it quickly. "I can't sleep without it happening, I can't think. My mind is so… useless! All I can think about is how I need to help his mother!" She let her hands trace down her head tails.

Obi-Wan stiffened, his demeanor switched from compassion to something sorrowful, he looked away and slowly began to pull his calming Force energy back. "Ahsoka," His voice was soft, the sort of soft it went when something bad had happened. He made that face when he had to break the news to her that one of her friends or masters were hurt.

Her heart dropped. "What happened when I was out?" Her voice turned cold and strong like steel. She wiped away the tears from her eyes, but a few of them continued to fall.

"Ahsoka, Anakin's mother is dead. She's been dead for years."

Everything stopped and tilted as though the gravity generators were letting go, but Ahsoka realized that it was just her. One hand went to her heart, as though it was going to pound right through her chest and into her hand. Her other hand pulled back the blanket and she watched herself unsteadily rise to her own feet. She let her hand trace alongside the bed until she stopped.

"Anakin had nightmares of it, of her death before it happened." Obi-Wan admitted, still staring off into empty space. "I told him that he should learn to drop the attachment to his mother, that the nightmares were just… just dreams." He inhaled a shaky breath and continued. "He was assigned to watch Senator Amidala, back when she was Queen, because of some assassination attempts. She encouraged him to go to Tatooine to check on his mother… and she died there. In his arms."

"How?" Her lips muttered.

"Padme told me that she was taken by Tusken Raiders. Sand people." Obi-Wan said bluntly.

Ahsoka was quiet. She didn't say anything else, instead she turned on the heels of her boots and walked out of the room leaving her master behind to deal with the demons of the past.


No one came to check on her or retrieve her.

And for that she was glad.

She sat in the Meditation Garden where she would regularly visit Barriss when they were both on Coruscant, which was becoming all the more rare. She didn't sit cross-legged on the patch of grass, focusing on the all mighty Force that tied all things together. In this moment she didn't care about the Force at all.

Ahsoka had been taught that the Force was there for her, a guiding light in a world divided by the light and dark. She was told to listen to the Force, to trust the Force, to love the Force. The Force was everywhere and the Force had granted her a gift, a gift to serve and protect those that needed protection while upholding certain values and ideals. If she acted in the name of the Force, the Force would look out for her.

She lay in the patch of grass, twirling a plucked blade in between her fingers until it coiled into a wet dark strand of green, then she pulled another and did the same thing. She was angry at the Force, angry that it had betrayed her like that, that it had given her a mission, a cause to fight for, only to take it away. This was her retaliation—the Force was in everything, so she would mutilate these few blades of grass just because.

The visions she had received… why? What was the purpose of the Force showing her such tragedies? Was it trying to break her?

She could admit that she was an idealist, an optimist with dreams. She wanted to save everyone and everything, but she wanted to do it her way and for her own reasons. Anakin had incited that in her, a sense of self-determined integrity—do what you believe is right even if the Council disagrees. Anakin had explained it to her one of their late night talks when neither one of them could sleep—"The Council forgives everyone eventually. The hard part is living with yourself, and to do that you have to be true to yourself, Snips."

He hadn't been able to follow his own advice. He hadn't been able to save his mother because of the Jedi. She understood the severity of Anakin's attachments, she understood that they were wrong, and a lot of the time she found herself thinking things like "Why can't he just get over it?" "Why can't he just drop it?" Other times, his attachments had saved them. His attachment to her had saved her life more times than she could count, he had also saved Obi-Wan and countless other leaders... simply because he was attached to them.

Were attachments really all that bad?

Ahsoka rolled onto her back and looked up at the fake sky of the Garden. It felt like a paradise, the fake sky looked like Coruscant's as though there was no pollution or night. She felt like it was a perfect representation of Jedi views—a beautiful façade over a system of lies.

Every Jedi except for Masters Windu and Yoda had attachments that she could easily identify. Obi-Wan was attached to his students and the beautiful politician from Mandalore that he talked about in his sleep. Aayla Secura and Kit Fisto were attached to each other, Master Luminara was attached to Miral and her race, even Master Plo had attachments, specifically to his men. Their attachments made them… them.

Ahsoka figured it was probably different since Anakin had had a family before he joined the Jedi. She had heard the vague version of the story as a youngling about the Chosen One joining the Jedi Order beyond the accepted age.

She hadn't noticed that she wasn't alone until her master stood over her, blocking her view of the fake clouds. The fake sunlight gave him a halo making him look like some divine spirit rather than Anakin Skywalker.

"Hey," he said simply, joining her on the grass. He laid on his back, staring up at the foliage and counterfeit blue sky. She could sense that he didn't know what he was doing, he felt unsure if he should confront her or not about what had happened. She knew that Obi-Wan had sent him.

"Hey yourself," she said simply, her mind still wandering on the ideas of attachments.

"Wanna clue me in? Whatever happened between you and Obi-Wan has him nervous." He turned slightly to her, then back to the ceiling.

"When are we being sent out?"

"We're on meditative retreat for six or seven rotations." He sighed, closing his eyes and tucking his arms under his head.

Ahsoka sighed too. "Are you going to disappear like always?" She looked at him from the corner of her eyes, watching him visibly relax.

He scoffed lightly, "No." He paused, then added. "Maybe to explore for a while. The Temple feels cramped after a while."

Ahsoka knew what he meant by 'cramped'. It meant that Obi-Wan was going to be shipped out earlier than they were—the Temple wasn't too cramped, it was too empty. Every single time he left her out of his missions and doomed her to the Temple all she could feel was the intense anxiety and loneliness. She was always fearing the worst—what if they had gotten into trouble that only she could get them out of? What if someone didn't guard Anakin's six like she could? What if the mission failed and everyone died… all because they didn't have the extra strength Ahsoka could lend them? She imagined Anakin's thoughts about Obi-Wan were the same.

"So are you going to fill me in? Or should I just assume it's because Obi-Wan doesn't know how to handle teenagers?" He opened his bright blue eyes and Ahsoka quickly diverted her eyes so he wouldn't catch her staring.

"Uh, it's just… those visions I was telling you about. I guess telling him about them scared him."

Anakin frowned, sitting up, then flipping over onto his stomach so he could look at her better. "Visions and nightmares? The same ones as before?"

She shrugged. "Each one is a little different." She wanted to tell him about how they were ruining her life, how she couldn't sleep or think, how each time she her heart ached and she felt such extreme emotion that her head hurt.

"What are they about?"

She was just about to tell him everything when she stopped and closed her mouth, remembering what Obi-Wan had told her on the ship before they got to Courscant, "I don't want you to tell Anakin any of this." Could she tell him? Could she tell him about the visions she saw of his dead mother?

"Ahsoka,"

She looked up at him, he was worried, scared, for her. He leaned on his elbows, still laying in the grass. He was going to tell her something.

His eyes drifted down to the grass underneath them. "When I was a padawan… I used to get really intense visions… wait, let me take that back, I still get them now." He smiled a little to himself, but it soon disappeared. His eyes went vacant, his voice got a little darker and deeper. "I was here on Coruscant, protecting Padme from some assassins… and I kept getting these awful, vivid visions of my mother…" He paused, closing his eyes. "I convinced Padme to go to Tatooine with me, after Obi-Wan told me not to, that my dreams were just dreams, and when we got there… my dreams were right. She died." He said softly, after a moment of silence passed between them, he looked up at her. "Ahsoka, you need to tell me if you think it's serious."

Her heart and stomach twisted with anxiety. She felt slightly sick and rolled onto her side to face him. "It's not like that." She didn't look at him, but rather at the ground. "It's..." She growled in frustration. "I don't know if I should tell you or not, because I was told not to, and I don't want to hurt you." She said aggressively, fighting hard not to raise her voice.

Anakin was obviously shocked and somewhat offended. "You don't have to protect me from anything. I'm your master. I'm the one that should be protecting you." He rolled over and sat up, getting to his feet.

"Anakin," Her tone exasperated, "Look. I want to tell you. But it's… it's not what you want to talk about." He paused, his back still turned to her as though he planned on leaving, but she knew he was just using this tactic to get her to talk. "Ever since you pulled me into meditation with you, I've been having visions of your past."

She saw a fragment of the façade crumble and his shoulders fell. This was Anakin Skywalker, this was her master. She watched him turn slowly to face her and retake his spot in the grass. He didn't meet her eyes.

"What exactly have you seen?" His voice wasn't his, it was cold and emotionless.

Ahsoka closed her eyes, sitting up and pulling her knees in close to her chest. What hadn't she seen? "They normally focus around your mother."

He looked at her, giving her a look that she couldn't decipher. She couldn't sense what he was feeling through the Force, only that he was heavily guarding himself from her. "How do you know it's my mother?"

"She's kind of pale, especially for being on Tatooine, she has bushy dark hair, dark eyes, she's very thin. She calls you 'Ani'." Ahsoka looked at the grass in front of her, but could sense Anakin uncomfortably shifting positions.

"What happens?" He didn't ask, he commanded. His voice still flat, but she could sense his guard faltering.

"Some man… in linen wrappings. He… abuses her." She didn't want to tell Anakin about how his mother was raped, how she was whipped. She closed her eyes tight and pressed her forehead against her knees, holding herself as tight as she could.

Anakin was quiet for the longest time. "Who else is in these visions?"

"You were in a few of them, there was another child, too." She felt chills up her arms and down her back. She picked her head up a little, looking over to him. "Not all of them were bad."

Anakin didn't meet her eye. He stared directly ahead of him, his eyes blank. "I… I want to see." He said softly. "I want to see her again."

Ahsoka didn't say anything. She didn't want to see her again. She didn't want to see this woman cry again, she just wanted to see this woman genuinely happy, and for longer than a few minutes. She wanted to see this woman skip in joy, she wanted to see her sing, not for the sake of putting a child to sleep, or to distract herself, but because it was the only way to express such pleasure.

Anakin stopped himself, realizing how much torture Ahsoka had been through for the past week. She had seen the horrors of the slavery he refused to talk about, she had seen the past that he refused to mention. He knew that she had always wallowed in curiosity of his past, and he had liked that—adding a bit of mystery to her view of him, but now that mystery was traumatizing her like it had traumatized him.

Ahsoka remained quiet, watching him as he thought. He stared at the ground between them and after several moments he looked up at her.

"I'm going to try to remove the memories from you." Anakin said plainly, scooting over closer to her.

Ahsoka backed away from him, "No, no, the memories are not the problem." She didn't want to be kept in the dark. She didn't want to live in a reality where she didn't know why he cringed at certain words and sounds. She wanted to know his past, she wanted to help protect him from those evils and she couldn't do that if she didn't know.

"Ahsoka, you can still have nightmares from the memories." He looked at her, then looked down, like he was ashamed, as though somehow all of this was his fault. "If I sever the memories from your mind, it might stop the visions."

"There has to be a way to stop the visions without taking my memories of those visions." She sat up and got to her feet. "I'll check the archives."

Anakin followed her lead and got to his feet, brushing the dirt and grass off of his robes. He didn't say anything, she could feel that he was still too preoccupied with thoughts of his mother. He followed her out of the gardens and to the archives.


"You know, before all of this I wanted Force visions." She told him, sitting across from him at one of the tables as they sifted through data.

"Why?" Anakin asked, she could sense his distaste for such images.

She shrugged. "I wanted to feel special to the Force, like it had picked me of all people for this vision."

Anakin pulled a face, "Ahsoka, the Force already chose you. That's why you're a Jedi."

She rolled her eyes, "It's not that special, Skyguy. There are hundreds of Jedi. I wanted to be one of the special ones that had a special connection to the Force. I wanted something more."

He looked up at her, then back to their data. "Are you finding anything useful? Because all I'm finding is prophecies and jointed visions."

Ahsoka leaned forward to look at what he was looking at. "Where's the stuff on jointed visions?"

"That won't be helpful. Jointed visions are when a Jedi connects himself to those around him in order to share a specific vision that he's already had. Sometimes the added Force presence gives greater clarity of the vision." He continued to scroll through until he stopped. "Did you tell Master Yoda about any of your visions?"

Ahsoka shook her head. "I didn't want to admit to him that it was because you helped me meditate and I knew he wouldn't understand."

Anakin nodded. "And you went to Obi-Wan with this?"

Ahsoka nodded, "He wanted to see for himself, and that was about it. He told me not to tell you." She scrolled through another entry on the datacard about ancient mediation types, then stopped. "What if it's on a holocron?"

"It wouldn't be. Holocrons are only used to keep information away from the Sith. Sith are also capable of Force visions." He ran a hand through his wavy mess of hair and Ahsoka looked away, trying not to think of how it fell just right over his blue eyes.

"Well, what causes Force visions? Maybe we should start there." Ahsoka set down her datapad, letting Anakin sense how discouraged she was.

Anakin set his down too. "Easy answer, Snips. The Force."

She rolled her eyes and shot him a look. She didn't even have to taunt him with 'Skyguy', although it was becoming more of a term of endearment than an annoying nickname.

"Well, there are places where the Force is stronger, there are items that make the Force stronger."

She interrupted before he could continue, "People, too." She could always perceive things better when she was with him, as though his Force energy aided her own.

Anakin thought about their list for a moment, staring at the datapads that lay side by side on the table. "Maybe we should be looking at mind probing." Anakin grabbed his datapad and typed it in.

"Mind probing goes both ways though, we would both be seeing the same thing at the same time." Ahsoka put her head on the desk.

Anakin shook his head, "Not if I'm not aware that you're doing it. If I'm aware, then I can close myself off to you, that's when I can see what you're doing."

"How do I stop myself?" Her eyes lit up, he had come up with an answer. She was so excited that she almost knocked her chair over when she stood up. She walked around the table to read over his shoulder as he scanned through entries.

"I think our bond is too strong."

Ahsoka took a step to the other side. She enjoyed their bond, it was as though the Force tied them together. It had helped them so many times, it had been developed through their training and the Council actually recommended such an attachment… until the padawan grew out of it. "I don't want to break our bond." She moved back over to her side of the table and sat down in her chair. "There must be another way."

He looked up at her, slightly aggravated. "Yes, I can remove the memories."

"I don't want you to." She said strictly, crossing her arms over her chest.

"I didn't want you to know in the first place, Ahsoka." He leaned back in his chair, setting the datapad back on the table.

He could feel her anger rising. Her eyes got brighter and she gave him a fierce look. "Why? Because I don't deserve to know? Because I'm not good enough to know?"

She had pushed him over the edge. He glared at her, anger brewing in his blue eyes. "Because I don't need you making judgements based on my past." He stood quickly, pushing in his chair, and leaving without another word.

So much for finding a solution…

Ahsoka let herself relax, leaned over the table, and rested her head in her arms. She closed her eyes, and let herself cry.

Chapter Text

He avoided her.

She went to all of her usual spots, all of their usual spots. She sat at the same mess hall table—the one in the back corner with the extra bread that she had smuggled for her master. She sat in their shared quarters watching a HoloDrama just to annoy him in case he was hiding away in his room. She went to the hangar and checked over her starfighter.

That was as close as they got.

Anakin walked into the hangar with R2 and strolled over to his starfighter. She watched from behind the golden craft as he felt a ding in the outer metal shell, before he jumped up into the cockpit. She walked over to the side where R2 was twittering and put her hand on his dome.

"Master,"

Anakin jumped so slightly anyone but her might not have noticed. He closed his eyes for a second, "Yeah, Ahsoka?" He opened his blue eyes and clicked at a few buttons and switches on his console.

"I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"For making you mad." She took her hand off of R2 and the droid rose himself into droid socket and secured himself with a whistle.

"I'm not mad." He lied. He looked to her for a second, he couldn't face her after what they had talked about yesterday. She had scared him, Obi-Wan had warned her about this.

Ahsoka climbed up the side of the Aethersprite and slid, falling on her butt as her feet came out from under her. She grabbed his the dark leather tabards of his tunic to steady herself. "Sorry," she whispered.

Anakin laughed, "How many times have I told you not to do that?"

She gave him a short glare, "Listen, Skyguy. I don't like it when you're mad at me. I had to nearly break my neck just to get you to laugh." She huffed, taking her hands off of his tabards once she knew she was steady just so she could cross her arms. "When you get back, we have to talk about this." She commanded, giving him her best superior look.

Anakin laughed lightly, "We'll see, Commander Snips."

Ahsoka slid herself off of the wing of the starfighter and gave him the 'I'm watching you' signal before walking out of the hangar, still all by her lonesome.


Ahsoka took Anakin's chair because it smelled like him, had the best view of the HoloNet, and because it was covered in the galaxy's softest blanket. She curled up in the blanket, pulling her feet up close, and stared at the reports that flickered throughout the hologram.

"Separatist Threat of Terrorism on Coruscant!" the lower banner scrolled, "Lower City Gangsters Apprehended Earlier Today—Claimed No Responsibility for Recent Robberies! Another Huttlet born!"

Ahsoka groaned, remembering all of the fun she had had with Anakin getting shot at and running from Separatists, then wandering through Tatooine to return the sick little Huttlet to Jabba the Hutt. She prayed to the Force that this Hutt was far away from any strange uncles that would try to have him kidnapped just to collect on ransom money.

"Exclusive! Top 10 Hottest Jedi!"

Ahsoka felt all of the breath leave her lungs and she laughed, leaning forwards to better see the hologram. As soon as Mace Windu's picture entered the holo at Number Ten for the Top Ten Hottest Jedi, she turned it off.

How was this stuff news? Why wasn't the HoloNet covering the front lines? Why weren't they talking about the progress the Republic had made in the war? What was the purpose of disrespecting the Jedi? Making them into figures of sexual desire?

Ahsoka opened up her datapad and resisted the urge to check the written list of the Top Ten Hottest Jedi. She was curious, but not that curious. She figured if she made the list, someone would congratulate her at some point.

She occupied her time focusing on the war effort instead. She read over the recently published reports from their recent escapades in the Outer Rim. Obi-Wan's account began to bore her, her vision blurring with exhaustion. She made a mental note to tell him to add some style to his writing before she fell asleep.


"I will buy you from him,"

Ahsoka opened her eyes and sat up, she found herself sitting on a stool in the same dirt hut as before. Her heart sank and she took her head in her hands, pressing her palms against her eyes.

She heard a woman laugh, "With what money?"

There was a silence between them.

"I've saved up a few credits, and I'll make some in the next few rotations. You can make a lot of good money from moisture farming." A man said, his voice eager and genuine.

"Moisture farming?" Anakin's mother asked, Ahsoka would guess that she was rolling her eyes, because if Ahsoka was in her place that's what she would be doing. "You want to take me far away from everything I've ever known and put me in the middle of the desert to collect moisture."

"It's safer than here. I promise, I won't…" He paused, "I won't be like him."

"You won't be like who? Watto?"

There was a pause and the man's voice turned dark. "No. I know who really owns you and your son. I know what he does to you. I know all about it."

There was even more silence and it felt like this silence had made the air heavy and even warmer than usual. "Why are you telling me this?"

The man sighed, "I just want you to know that there's a way out. I can save you. I can buy you and, look, I know moisture farming isn't the greatest, but it's a lot better than…" he trailed off, afraid of her.

"Please leave," She said calmly.

"What? Why? You don't want me to help you?"

"Out the front," She could hear them scramble out to the front of the hut. "He's on his way back. He always comes through the back." She told the man in hushed tones.

"I'll be back for you, and for your son. When I have enough money."

There was silence before the sound of her closing the curtain that acted as a door. Ahsoka could hear her walk through back to where they were originally.

The air turned cold.


"Snips,"

"Snips, c'mon. Wake up."

Ahsoka stirred and fought her way out of the blanket mess that she had trapped herself in before she sat up. "Hi," She said simply, rubbing her eyes.

It was dark but she could tell that it was Anakin that stood in front of her. "Where were you?" She asked.

Anakin was quiet. "I told you I just wanted to get out."

Ahsoka stared at him. Sure he did. Obi-Wan hadn't even been reassigned yet. She stood from the chair and walked over to him, "I can still smell her perfume." She said teasingly, walking towards her room. "Tell me about her?"

Anakin was quiet. "Tell you about who?"

"The girl you're running off to meet with. Or your mom."

Anakin was quiet again. She didn't even hear him sit down. "Did you have more visions?"

Ahsoka turned from where she stood and walked back over to their den area. She sat down on the couch. She sat with her back to the armrest so she could see him better and brought her feet up on the couch. "Yeah. I did."

She saw Anakin tense up. "What were they about?"

"Some guy wanted to buy your mom from the other guy."

Anakin stood quickly and walked to his bedroom door. He was just about to open it. "Ahsoka. Stop torturing yourself." No nicknames. She shivered a little. He walked into his bedroom and closed the door behind him.


Ahsoka didn't sleep again after that.

She paced the floor, sat in every chair for a while. She had spent her time creating and mulling over a pro and con list of keeping her memories.

"Pros: understanding—I would know why Anakin got worked up about slavery and rape, I would understand why he flinches; our bond is stronger; I could save him from these things, things that would remind him of the days on Tatooine…

"Cons: I'll never be able to sleep again, I might become overprotective of him, attachments (underlined twice for emphasis), it makes Anakin uncomfortable knowing that I know his past…"

Ahsoka wanted to scream. She tossed the datapad across the room so it hit the chair before she threw herself onto the couch in a fit. She wanted to go to Obi-Wan with this, but she knew that he would just tell her that it was time for her training bond with Anakin to collapse, it was time for her to let go of him, time for her to sever herself.

That was the last thing she wanted to do. Her bond with Anakin had saved them so many times before and it made things so simple. They knew where each other were at all times, they knew they were okay, they were safe. It was like constantly having him next to her just to support her and she could block him off whenever she wanted.

Obi-Wan Kenobi was a hyprocrite. Ahsoka knew that he still had his training bond with Anakin. Sometimes it was so strong that she could feel it—hot, strong, and friendly, almost as though it was tangible.

How was she supposed to accomplish something that not even Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Negotiator, could manage?

Ahsoka heard a door slide open and quickly sat up.

"Can you stop thinking so loudly?"

She turned to Anakin and bit her tongue trying not to snicker at how outrageous he looked with his Jedi attire all rumpled and his hair in his face. It looked like he had just crashed on his bed without even bothering to take his boots off. "Sorry,"

"What's so important that you have to be up at three hundred?"

"I was just thinking about my options and everything," She muttered quietly, sinking back into the cushions of their couch. "You can go back to bed."

He crossed the room and sunk into his chair. "Talk to me."

She looked up from the armrest that she had pressed her face against. "I tried earlier and you got mad at me."

Anakin was quiet. He closed his eyes and sighed. "When we figure this out, we'll either go to bed or go and get food. So just talk. Don't leave anything out." He leaned his head back. "Wake me up if I fall asleep."

Ahsoka rolled her eyes. "I came up with a pros and cons list… for, uh, keeping my memories of these visions, and one for losing them. They're pretty even."

"Read them to me."

She sat up and opened the datapad that she had thrown into her chair. "Okay, so. For keeping my memories… the pros: I understand you better, our bond is stronger, I can help try to keep you from things that make you think about it. The cons: No sleep or nightmares, attachment, and I know it makes you uncomfortable that I know these things."

He opened his eyes and sat up straight, looking at her with his tired eyes. "Did you rank the importance of each point?"

Ahsoka shook her head.

"On a scale of one to ten, how important is the first thing on your list."

"The first thing on my list is understanding you, and that's pretty important. I mean, we're partners on the battlefield, and you're my master, and if there's a communication problem between us, then it's a big problem." She rambled. "So like… twelve out of ten."

Anakin huffed. "Don't overthink it. How important is it to you to know… my past?"

"Out of ten?"

Anakin nodded, closing his eyes again and leaning back against the chair.

"Seven."

"Write it down. Next one?"

"Our bond is stronger. I say that's about… an eight? Our bond is so useful." She quickly added it to her datapad notes.

Anakin sighed again. "If you lose your memories, that doesn't mean our bond isn't going to exist anymore. It'll still be strong, just not as strong."

Ahsoka glared at him. "Next one, so, I can keep you away from things that remind you of Tatooine, if I know what happened."

Anakin took his turn to glare at her. "Put that as a zero."

Ahsoka looked at him, bewildered. "This is my pros and cons list, and these are my memories. I get to decide what happens here and the importance of what."

Anakin picked his head up again, "No, Ahsoka. These are my memories and somehow you're leeching them off of me. I don't need you to protect me from my past. My past doesn't control me." He lied.

Ahsoka added a 'six' to her datapad.

"Put the numbers in for the cons as negatives."

"Okay, so not getting any sleep. I say that's like a… five? I don't really sleep anyway unless we're home." She drilled her fingers against the edge of the datapad. She knew that he could tell she was lying. He could go for days, weeks, without sleep; she couldn't last more than twenty hours without snoozing.

"The war isn't going to last forever." He said bluntly, inferring that without the war the Jedi would remain on Coruscant rather than running throughout the galaxy.

"Okay. So, like a six then?" She smiled and added in a negative six. "The next one is the Jedi Code… attachments. I feel like that should be… also a six? Maybe a seven?"

"Seven." Anakin repeated her before yawning.

"The next one is… knowing that you're uncomfortable with me knowing these things. And I say that's like… an eight."

Anakin smirked. "You don't have to protect me."

"Okay, then… a six… five point five." She corrected herself and Anakin laughed.

"What's your total?"

"Two and a half."

Anakin nodded. "Keeping your memories won out. I'm not surprised. Let's go to bed."

Ahsoka stared at the datapad. "Wait. What was the one you said should be zero?"

Anakin stared at her blankly. "I don't remember. We can sort it out in the morning. Let's go get some sleep." He got up from his chair and ran his hands through his messy hair while he walked back to his room.

Ahsoka set the datapad down and stood up. "You know, you never told me about the girl."

Chapter Text

"You can tell me. I promise, I'll behave." Ahsoka slid the steaming cup of caf to her master and leaned in real close.

"Tell you what?" He took a sip of the hot drink and acted as though it hadn't burned his tongue.

Ahsoka rolled her eyes. "I told you all about my visions even when Obi-Wan told me not to, and you can't tell me about her?" She reached over, about ready to take her caf bribery back from him, but he moved it out of her reach. They glared at each other.

Anakin was the first to break glances. "Why do you think I'm seeing someone? I could've been sparring with Aayla." He looked down at his datapad, pretending to read whatever was on the screen. Ahsoka could sense that she was right and that she was making him anxious.

"You've been sparring with Aayla for a few months now? Sometimes overnight? How do you spar with someone overnight, Master?" She looked up at him through her eyelashes.

Anakin closed his eyes, she thought he was going to crack a smile and say something like 'Oh, you caught me! Good one, Ahsoka.' But instead he sighed and opened his bright blue eyes. "Is it any concern of yours?"

"No, but,"

"Ahsoka."

"Okay." She frowned, flaunting her disappointment in case he would change his mind just to avoid dealing with teenage sass. "So… all last night I thought about my options."

Anakin looked at her, confused and somewhat surprised. "I thought we already did this… or did I just dream that we did this?"

"We did the pros and cons lists last night, but I think I've made up my mind." She looked down at the table, staring at the scratches and marks in the metal. "I've decided that I want to keep my memories of the visions. I don't want to change anything."

She could sense his disappointment and frustration no matter how hard he worked to contain it. She didn't look up to meet his eyes. She couldn't. She knew that he wouldn't be happy with her, that this would probably change their relationship for good.

"Okay."

She couldn't stop herself. She looked up at him, sheepishly as though she was afraid he was going to scold her. "Okay?"

Anakin nodded, not looking at her. "Okay." He got up from their table and walked out of the mess hall leaving his steaming cup of caf and his very confused padawan behind.


She had lessons. She had dueling to practice. She had scheduled breaks for meditation. Did she use any of them?

No.

Ahsoka Tano sat at the base of the tree in the heart of the Temple reading Barriss's reports from Hosnian Prime. Barriss had a way of writing the most interesting reports, then again, anything that wasn't written by Obi-Wan or Anakin was a great report.

"Have you seen Anakin?"

Ahsoka looked up from her datapad to find Obi-Wan. He stood there in front of her, peaceful and smiling, and for a few moments she thought that she was dreaming.

"Not since breakfast." She fought to get up to her feet, taking his offered hand for help. She dusted off her butt and walked with her master's master around the corner to the Temple entrance. "Why?"

"You're both being shipped out before I am and I wanted to debrief him." His expression slowly faded into a plain old Obi-Wan—always stressed and slightly worried. "The Council thought it was best if we didn't waste time on formalities. You've both been to Teth before and we have intel that there are possible Separatist movements from that system."

Ahsoka thought back to her first mission with Anakin. They had just barely saved the Huttlet from Ventress and Dooku and the thought of returning to that place made Ahsoka both relaxed, and worried. Familiar grounds, unfamiliar set up.

"He's probably in the hangar. That's usually where he goes when he's mad." She picked up her pace and it took Obi-Wan a few moments to fall into step with her.

"He's mad? For what reason now?"

Ahsoka bit her lip. "I told him about my visions and he offered to take my memories of them, but I want to keep them."

She heard Obi-Wan sigh beside her and she felt that he was going to lecture her on how Anakin was right, how these memories were only furthering her attachment to him. "You shouldn't have told him."

Ahsoka nodded. She tried to think of what could've happened if she hadn't told him… it would have saved her from his anger and his awful grudges, but she couldn't help but feel he trusted her more. She had come to him with her problems, and she had asked him for help. Usually, she asked Obi-Wan or another Jedi Master that she considered more knowledgeable than Anakin… not that he wasn't knowledgeable. She just felt that things would be easier if she asked Obi-Wan Kenobi, the master of all things diplomatic, for help with her diplomacy studies, or asking Quinlan to teach her how to get out of a headlock.

She wondered if she had done the right thing… they were his memories after all.

The hangar was mostly clear except for a few crews of mechanics, stray padawans, and guards. The absence of ships was slightly disconcerting, Ahsoka didn't like to think about how the war had stretched the Jedi so thinly over the galaxy. The Temple was so empty, so unprotected.

Obi-Wan strolled over to Anakin's starfighter, Ahsoka following closely behind him. She watched Obi-Wan tap the top shell of the starfighter and Anakin slid his way out from underneath.

"Yeah?" He sat up and looked down, blinking a few times for his eyes to adjust to the brightness.

"You're being shipped out to Teth later this afternoon." Obi-Wan said bluntly. "There's news of possible Separatist activity."

Ahsoka wondered if Obi-Wan could sense Anakin's disappointment through their bond or if he was just allowing it through hers.

"Wild Space," Anakin said softly. "Wouldn't we be more help near Hosnian Prime?"

Obi-Wan shook his head. "Luminara has strictly told us not to send reinforcements just yet, and if she ever needs them, they've offered to send me." Obi-Wan explained. "The Council wants you to meet with the Resolute as soon as you're able."

Anakin nodded, wiping his gloved hands on his tunics. "I have some things to see to before we go," he looked to Ahsoka, then to Obi-Wan.

"Try not to dawdle, Anakin." Obi-Wan gave him a slight grin and Anakin returned it. "May the Force be with you both." He said, looking to Anakin.

Anakin gave a slight nod. "Same to you, master."


The first thing she did when she returned to her apartment was take off her pinch-y shoes, then she tore all of the pins out of her hair and pulled out her hairpiece.

Freedom had never been so sweet.

She threw herself down onto the couch.

She missed the days where she was queen. Being queen was almost natural to her, her parents had said that she just had that sort of personality. She was not the type of person to stand on her feet for hours, arguing about simple, common sense laws. She loved her people, she loved her Republic, but she did not love advancing the Chancellor's war emergency powers.

The late nights were one thing, but the all night sessions were killing her.

Her comm station beeped.

Stars. She pushed her face into a pillow and screamed. Just when she thought she was done…

She sat up, fixing her hair to look somewhat presentable. She clicked the large green button and prepared her senator tone and voice—soft, but strong, friendly, and no evidence of exhaustion.

The holo flickered to life and every bit of her senator façade fell apart.

"Ani," she breathed, her shoulders relaxing instantly at his picture.

"Padme, I won't be able to make it. They're sending me out." It was obvious how soon he would be leaving just by his stance. She had just managed to get to her Ani and suddenly General Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker was back. He frowned, her disappointment must've shown through.

"I thought you were on meditative leave." She said softly, batting her eyelashes as though that would help change his orders.

He sighed, "I was. There was new information and I'm being sent out into Wild Space. I don't know for how long."

Her heart began to break. She knew that her disappointment couldn't compare to his—he had just been freed from active duty, only to be put back on the front lines. "Okay." She looked at the comm panel, then at him. "I love you, Ani. Stay safe."

He nodded with a smile. "Love you too." And his image faded.

She closed down her comm station for the night, only allowing Bail, the Chancellor, and her Ani's calls to go through in case of emergencies.

Part of her wanted to race to the Temple just to wrap her arms around him before he left. She walked over to the glass wall and looked out at Jedi Temple, waiting and watching for the transports to leave up into the atmosphere knowing that he would be on one.

She slunk into her bedroom, despite the time, and curled up under the sheets, still wearing her senatorial gowns. She wrapped herself up on his side of the bed and breathed in his lingering scent until she fell asleep.


Ahsoka wasn't stupid.

Anakin's silence gave it all away. He wasn't just mad; he was upset about something. She could sense it rolling off of him like thunder in a storm. He stared ahead, not lost in his own galaxy, but closed off from those around him. He didn't look at her; he had turned himself slightly just to face away from her. R2 stood in-between them, also silent.

"So…" she started.

Anakin didn't respond. Maybe he was lost in his own little galaxy. Ahsoka hoped it was a happier one, one where they were granted their full meditative leave, one where he wasn't mad at her.

"Teth. That's where my first mission was with you… right? After Christophsis? Before Tatooine?" Ahsoka asked, looking to her scruffy boots.

"Yeah, Snips." He said softly and pointedly, not looking at her.

She gave him a short glare. "Two can play at this." She growled softly, squeezing past R2 just so she could bump her shoulder against his. She moved over by Rex and stood next to him, glaring at Anakin's back.

"Is there something going on between you two?" Rex asked, standing firm although he was told to be at ease.

Ahsoka sighed. "I don't know; Anakin is just throwing a fit." She could feel him spark up in the Force, his annoyance like the electricity before a storm.

Rex stifled his laugh, "Be careful what you say, young one." He avoided looks with Anakin when Anakin looked back at them. "Be sure this stays off of the battlefield."

Ahsoka nodded.

They felt the ship dock into the Resolute and the doors slid open. They scattered out into the hangar. Normally, Ahsoka would've followed Anakin to the bridge and they would've plotted their strategy for the upcoming mission… she stayed behind with the clones, throwing herself into their conversation about the Seppies.

Anything was better than her master's pouting.

Ahsoka followed a squad of clones towards the mess hall. She wasn't hungry or anything other than a change of atmosphere. The mess hall was Ahsoka's go-to place when on the Resolute. Nightmares? Can't sleep? Angry? Sad? Homesick? The mess hall was always there for her with a comforting concoction of sludge and dark caf. If Anakin ever needed to find Ahsoka... he usually found himself in the mess hall.

"So, young one, you've been quiet. Where were you deployed last?" One of the clones asked, sipping his drink.

Ahsoka looked up from her plate of whatever it was supposed to be. "Ta," she stopped herself, she was almost going to say Tatooine. "Bespin. It was purely diplomatic." They hadn't even been formally deployed as on the ground troops, but rather Kenobi's security detail. He had exhausted them, making them run around and escort him places. He thought it was funny when he had disconnected his comlink for a security measure when meeting with some high and mighty politicians after ditching Anakin and Ahsoka. They had burst into the meeting with Rex, fearing a Separatist assassination.

One of the clones scoffed, "Ever been out this far before?" He asked, thinking that she was just a purely diplomatic Jedi, one that stuck to the Temple like glue. He thought taht she had no idea what the troops went through, how easily they died, how easier they were replaced.

"Yes. I've been out this far. Have you ever heard of The Maw?" She readjusted herself on her seat, leaning in real close to the troopers.

Time to prove him wrong.

The trooper shook his head.

"It's a cluster of blackholes in the Kessel sector, deep Outer Rim. Middle of nowhere. Our nav-computer misdirected to it because of some intense radiation from a star. I had to clear the receptors." She said darkly, "Have you ever seen a black hole?"

The clone shook his head again. Her tale was getting to him; she could see the fear widening his eyes.

"Ever heard one? Some say that space is silent, since there's no air, but they screech. It sounds like souls being sucked out of an army, all you can hear is the screaming. It doesn't stop until you're sectors away, it haunts your mind." She explained. "Some of the clones in my command lost their minds." She exaggerated.

Rex contained his smile into a grin.

The clone that had questioned her just nodded.

"Commander,"

She looked up to one of the administrative clones from the bridge. His hands behind his back, his posture straight.

"General Skywalker is requests your presence on the bridge."

She looked to Rex and rolled her eyes before getting up from her seat and following the clone to the bridge. She could sense Anakin up ahead of her, and she could hear him as well, talking to someone. She forced the clone to stand behind her and she quietly led him to the edge of one of the adjacent comm stations off the bridge so they could listen in.

"Ani, please promise me you'll be safe."

Ani? Ahsoka's heart picked up pace. Who was he talking to? Who called him Ani other than his mother?

She heard him sigh, "You know I can't promise anything." She reached out stealthily in the Force to pick up on what he was feeling, who he was talking to, all she could feel was how guarded he was. "Do me a favor, stop listening to the HoloNet. Turn it off for a few days."

"Ani, you know I can't do that. They might be inaccurate at times, but… I need to know. My position doesn't give me clearance to access active Jedi mission files." Ahsoka heard the woman's voice shutter. "I need you to come home to me, safe."

Anakin sighed again, his tone tired, but amiable. "I will. Just please, work on removing this hold. My troops are anxious and the sooner we're down there, the sooner I can come home." There was a smile in his voice, probably that stupid grin that made Ahsoka roll her eyes, but her heart flutter with joy. "I love you."

"I love you more."

Ahsoka looked to the wide-eyed clone who stared back at her.

"Don't say a thing." She whispered to him. She started to walk again down the hall, the clone following behind her, somewhat mystified, still frazzled by what his commander had made him listen in on.

She felt Anakin walk up behind them. He too acted as though nothing had happened and Ahsoka could feel his anxiety. He couldn't help but wonder if she had heard his conversation, his 'I love you' to whoever he was talking to.

"Ahsoka."

She turned, the clone flurrying past her to get to the bridge without getting caught up in the middle of what was about to unfold. She didn't say anything, just looked at him.

"I'll meet you in your quarters in a few minutes." He said simply, walking up to the bridge.

"Why did you summon me to the bridge only to send me to my quarters?"

Anakin turned, slightly annoyed at her questioning him. "That's none of your business, Snips." His voice was cold and dark and she wanted to find something to throw in his general direction, but instead she took to stomping off towards her room.

She sat down on her bed and kicked off her boots so they flew across the room and hit his wall and landed on his bed. She let her hands drag down her face and she fought against everything in her that screamed 'kick his butt'.

Suddenly the ship lurched and she nearly stumbled off of her bed. She waited for the alarms and sounds of footsteps that usually followed, but the only sound she could hear was the sound of doors down the hall sliding open and confused conversations in the hallway.

She took her boots off of Anakin's bed, not bothering to wipe away the dirt that had fallen onto his bed. She opened the door to their quarters and joined the clones in their shared confusion.

What had Anakin gotten them into now?

Ahsoka's wrist com twinkled and she took off towards the bridge without answering the call. She should've stayed there just to aggravate him; it would've been easier. She tried to squash her curiousity, what had happened since she had been up there? She figured that it was probably something simple—a problem with the Senate or the Council that had stalled them. It had happened before, but usually the stop was smooth and almost unnoticed.

She found Anakin pacing the floor, Admiral Yularen sitting in one of the chairs looking perplexed, and the comm station running two calls at once—one with the Chancellor and a few senators, the other with the Jedi Council.

Admiral Yularen gave Ahsoka a slight smile when she entered the scene.

"Patience, Anakin." Obi-Wan said via com channel.

"What happened?" Ahsoka asked, stepping into the holograph beside her fidgety master.

"Our operation has been put on hold."

"Why?"

"The Hutts might be retracting their agreement to let us travel through Hutt Space." Anakin said quickly. "The Council and Senate are in session trying to figure out what to do—if we should instigate the Hutts by travelling through their space anyway, or if we should head back home." He didn't look at her or Obi-Wan, he looked at the blinking lights of the com panel.

Ahsoka frowned. "Why?"

Obi-Wan sighed, stroking his beard. "The Hutts have always been unpredictable. We believe it's because some Jedi in the Outer Rim disrupted their shipments. Their smugglers were connected to a Separatist supply line."

Anakin closed his eyes and Ahsoka could feel how uncomfortable he was despite how hard he tried to close himself off from her.

"What kind of shipments?" Ahsoka asked. She crossed her fingers, 'Please be arms, please be arms.'

Obi-Wan was quiet, his eyes diverted away from the holo and Ahsoka saw Anakin's shoulders tense. Admiral Yularen remained quiet and the Chancellor's call remained on mute.

"Oh." Ahsoka said softly.

The Separatists were connected to the Hutts' slave trade.

Ahsoka stepped back from the holo and sat down in the chair beside Admiral Yularen, both of them watching as Anakin tried to contain himself.

The Chancellor's voice came through before his holo projection moved. "I'm sorry, my boy. I have just received word from the Council about your current predicament and I'm afraid there's nothing I can do to push the vote."

Ahsoka felt Anakin's anger in the Force. He was going to lose it if anything else fell apart.

"Thank you for trying, Chancellor." He gave a quick nod and the Chancellor smiled before disconnecting the call.

Anakin turned quickly and walked down the bridge, not bothering to say another word to Obi-Wan who still stood there in the holo. His expression turned solemn as he watched Anakin leave.

"Ahsoka?" Obi-Wan knew that she was just out of frame of the now empty hologram.

She stood and walked into the frame. "I'm here, master."

"Watch him. Admiral, I give you permission to lock his starfighter. The last thing we need is for Anakin to start a galaxy-wide incident by flying into Hutt Space." He sighed. "May the Force be with you, Ahsoka."

"May the Force be with you too, Master." She gave a slight bow before he disappeared.

Admiral Yularen stood from his seat. "I'll let the commanding officers know to tell those in their command what's going on."

Ahsoka nodded. "If you need me, I'll be…" She motioned towards where Anakin had marched off.

Yularen nodded, understandingly and went about his work on the bridge. "I'll let you know of any updates."


I hate how this looks so small and insignificant with this layout. I don't know why, but it takes me so long to just write 3,000 words for a chapter and this website makes it look like nothing. Ugh. Idk. You guys should let me know when you want me to update. 

Chapter Text

            Ahsoka found Anakin in the training gym with the auto turret on maximum. She watched as he flicked blasts into the laser proof canopy designed to catch the discharges. With an economy of moves, he flung blasts back, careful not to hit the machine or sidestep one of the predictable charges. It was almost as though he was dancing through them.

            “What do you want?” Anakin asked through gritted teeth, flicking bolts back without a single second of hesitation.

            With a single flick of the Force, Ahsoka turned off the turret and Anakin lowered his lightsaber, breathing heavily. “We need to talk about this.”

            Anakin was quiet as he regained his breath and sat down on one of the benches.

            “We need to be open with each other. You heard what Rex said on the transport.” She crossed her legs at the ankles. Sitting next to him used to bring her some ounce of comfort, but now, all she felt was anxiety. He was mad and she felt as though she was tiptoeing around mines.

            “I heard you and Rex cracking jokes, yeah.” He huffed softly.

            “We weren’t cracking jokes. I was teasing you and Rex told me to knock it off.” She nudged his leg with her own.

            Anakin gave her a slight nod meaning, ‘Yeah, sure.’ He stretched his legs out in front of him and leaned back against the back of the bench. “What do we need to talk about?”

            She tried to keep herself calm, “Anakin. We need to talk about how you’re angry at me because I want to keep my memories.”

            He sighed, “Let’s just act like nothing happened,” He suggested, glancing at her, then the floor.

            Ahsoka stood, exasperated. “Can you act like nothing’s happened, Anakin? How? All they had to do was mention the Hutts and you looked like you were about ready to destroy the bridge!” She took a few steps back from the bench, clenching her hands into fists.

            She could feel his anger as he stood. “It’s not your place to tell me what to do, Snips.” He said sternly.

            “And it’s your place to tell me that I shouldn’t be able to keep my memories?”

            “I never said that. And they aren’t your memories. They’re mine.” He didn’t raise his voice, but the venomous tone was enough to make her take a step back. Anakin had mastered the art of anger—his words didn’t need to be hurtful, his tone was enough to make the sweetest words painful.

            Anakin’s wrist com twittered, then Ahsoka’s. Anakin answered his.

            “Skywalker,”

            “General, the Senate has decided to send Kenobi to negotiate with the Hutts. We’ll be on standby for another few hours.” Admiral Yularen tried to hide his slight annoyance with the Republic’s amount of bureaucracy, it made Ahsoka happy that something other than a risky Jedi was annoying him for once.

            “Thanks, Admiral.”

            The Admiral ended the transmission and their fight resumed.

            “I’ll leave you our quarters.” Anakin said simply. He turned his back on her, walking towards the auto turret that she had turned off. “In case you want to cool down.”

            Ahsoka was quiet for a moment, her mind going a mile a minute. “I think you need our quarters to cool down more than I do.” She said softly, just so he could hear her.

            He turned quickly, glaring at her. “If that’s how you feel, I’m sure Obi-Wan would be more than happy to reassign you to his mission.” Anakin turned and walked out of the training room past her and disappearing down the hall.

 

            Anakin didn’t come to retrieve her, and he didn’t send anyone to retrieve her. Obi-Wan was the one to come down to the mess hall, the one to sit opposite her at the table.

            “Why is there a request for you to be reassigned to my mission?” Obi-Wan asked. He wasn’t too happy, but he wasn’t mad.

            Ahsoka shrugged, staring at her datapad. She didn’t want to think about how she had acted, how Anakin had acted. He had his reasons, she had hers.

            “The Council hasn’t received word yet for your transfer. I stopped it from going through. It looks like you’re the one requesting the change.” Obi-Wan slid his datapad over to her so she could view the report. He knew that Anakin had logged into the computers under Ahsoka’s name and put in the request. She couldn’t blame him.

            Ahsoka looked up and sighed, it was better to face Obi-Wan than her master. “We got into a disagreement about… the memories.” She had to stop herself from saying ‘my memories’ or ‘his memories’. They were more like shared memories now whether he liked it or not.

            Obi-Wan was quiet, waiting for her to continue.

            “I went to check on him after the incident on the bridge, and we ended up fighting, and I got…” She was about to say ‘snippy’, but that was Anakin’s word. She bit her tongue. She hadn’t realized that she was also picking up his vocabulary.

            Obi-Wan nodded, understandingly. “Anakin can be that way, especially when it has to do with the Hutts. I’m going to cancel your request for a transfer. I’ll contact the Council and inform them that Anakin is… unfit for teaching at the moment. I’ll tell them that he’s taken the time to meditate during this halt and you will accompany me to Tatooine.”

            Ahsoka looked up, tears caught in the corners of her eyes. She nodded, wordlessly. She felt so helpless and so… lost. Had she done the right thing, telling Anakin about their memories?

            “It’s okay, young one.” Obi-Wan comforted. “Sometimes we forget how young you are, Ahsoka. You’re so mature for your age.” He smiled a little, hoping to boost her spirits.

            She gave a small smile and rubbed at her eyes.

            “That’s why Anakin gets so angry. He forgets that you’re his student, that you’re learning, that you aren’t equals.” Obi-Wan explained.

            Ahsoka smiled a little brighter. Anakin considered her an equal, not a student, not a lesser, but an equal. He saw her as a Jedi Knight and had to remind himself that she was a padawan learner.

            “There’s that smile.” Obi-Wan smiled back, “I’ll be on the bridge waiting for you. Take your time to get ready.” He slid out from the table and bench and made his way down the walk before disappearing up to the bridge and leaving her to herself.

 


 

 

            Jabba’s Palace was nothing truly special. Ahsoka had seen Coruscant night clubs with more dancing girls and better music, and none of them were owned by a gigantic space slug. He had girls dancing in front of him, girls lounging beside him, girls coming and going as they served him.

            He said something in Huttese and Ahsoka looked to Obi-Wan. Maybe they should’ve brought Anakin to translate for them because they didn’t have Threepio.

            “Honorable Jabba, I am simply here to talk business.” Obi-Wan told him, taking a few steps forward and bowing, Ahsoka followed suit and bowed as well.

            The dancing girls stopped dancing and walked off to the sides of the dancefloor to catch their breath. One of them looked to Ahsoka and smiled, the others avoided eye contact with the Jedi pair, as though just looking at them could get them killed.

            Jabba said something again that Ahsoka didn’t understand, but she stood attentive like she could understand every word. She looked to Obi-Wan who was tracing his fingers down his beard.

            “This is slightly concerning, Great Jabba. We have no record of any Jedi intercepting your shipments and setting them free. Are you sure they were Jedi?”

            Jabba said something angrily, probably “Jabba doesn’t make mistakes,” or “Jabba knows what Jabba talks about.” One of the girls lounging beside him squirmed slightly as he repositioned himself closer to them.

            “I’m sorry, Great Jabba. It sounds to me like they could’ve been imposters.” Obi-Wan lied. “It will be our job to catch these criminals. We will turn them in to you.”

            Jabba said something, Ahsoka couldn’t tell if he was happy with that or insulted by it.

            Obi-Wan bowed again and he took Ahsoka by the hand, leading her out of Jabba’s palace through the back.

            “Master, what did he say?” Ahsoka asked.

            “If we round up the shipment and return them to Jabba, he’ll let us pass through his regions of space.” Obi-Wan said softly, he wasn’t satisfied.

            Ahsoka wasn’t satisfied either. She was worried. She had no idea how many slaves were in one shipment, but it seemed like a lot, and where had the Jedi released them? Would they be able to do it by themselves? Ahsoka felt sick just thinking about telling Anakin what they had to do in order to pass through Hutt Space.

            “We have to contact the Council.” Obi-Wan pulled her outside of the club and they walked back to their ship.

            Ahsoka fired up the engines, but didn’t raise them off the ground. She contacted the Council and Obi-Wan slipped into his seat so he could speak with them.

            “How did it go?” Mace asked.

            Obi-Wan stroked his beard again, a sign of nervousness. “Jabba requests that we round up the shipment of slaves that the Jedi freed. Then we will be able to pass through Hutt Space.”

            The Council was silent and for a moment Ahsoka was afraid that a sandstorm was on the way, wiping out their communications.

            “Think about this, we must. Slavers, the Jedi are not.” Yoda said simply.

            The holo faded and Obi-Wan lifted their ship off of the sandy grounds of Tatooine and they headed back through Hutt Space to meet up with the Resolute, stuck just a few parsecs away from the edge of Jabba’s control.

            They docked in the hangar and Commander Rex was there to meet them and escort them to the bridge to share their insight.

            Obi-Wan looked to Ahsoka. “I don’t think we should tell Anakin until we hear back from the Council.”

            Ahsoka nodded.

            “How did it go, sirs?” Rex asked, walking with them out of the mostly empty hangar.

            “Where did Anakin go?” Obi-Wan asked, stopping where Anakin’s starfighter was usually parked, now empty.

            “He’s out drilling some shinies. Teaching them maneuvers.”

            Obi-Wan continued on his walk with Rex, he looked to Ahsoka. They both had a feeling that Anakin knew what was going on, but kept silent. Obi-Wan remembered that Rex had asked him a question, “Things on Tatooine didn’t go as planned. Jabba will only let us in if we round up slaves that some Jedi had freed.”

            “Where?” Rex asked.

            Obi-Wan shrugged. “I don’t know, Commander. I’m sure the Council will tell us when they make up their minds.”

            Rex nodded and split from the group, letting Obi-Wan and Ahsoka walk the last bit of the way to the bridge. They sat down up front with the Admiral and watched as Anakin’s yellow starfighter zipped across the dark sky followed by a few Y-wings.

            “General Kenobi has returned,” Admiral Yularen informed him through their com channel.

            “Are we back on?”

            Admiral was just about to inform Anakin of what Obi-Wan had told him when Obi-Wan stepped in. “No. Jabba has put us on a special mission and the Council is deciding whether we take it or not.”

            “What kind of mission?”

            Obi-Wan looked to Ahsoka for help, his eyes wide. What lie could they tell him? “Uh, securing trade routes.” Obi-Wan blurted. “Nothing too hard.”

            “I’ll be back in a few.” Anakin closed their communication and they watched as the yellow starfighter zipped back the other way, the Y-Wings following in tight V-formation.

            The holoprojector flickered to life behind them and they all turned to face the Council.

            “There has been a decision to let you follow through with Jabba’s command.”

            Ahsoka’s heart fell from her chest. How could the Jedi propagate slavery? Was compassion not the Jedi way?

            “You can’t do that.” Ahsoka blurted. “We’re supposed to be protectors, we pride ourselves on compassion, but where is our compassion?” She asked.

            Mace frowned, not out of anger, but out of understanding. It was becoming obvious that the Council hadn’t voted on this measure. “The Chancellor has decided that it is more important for the Republic to control Teth. We cannot afford to send you any help, but from our understanding—the shipment seems pretty small. Contact us when you are ready to enter Hutt Space.”

            The holo flickered and Ahsoka tried to contain herself. The last thing they needed was for Anakin to learn of their front to protect him, for him to discover it because his padawan couldn’t control herself.

            “We need to come up with a secondary mission to keep Anakin occupied.” Obi-Wan said simply.

            Ahsoka was quiet for a moment, trying to think of a task they could send her master to do. “Well, we told him we’re securing trade routes. We could send him to actually secure the routes on his own.”

            “That won’t take very long, he’ll be done before we are.” Obi-Wan stroked his beard and brought up a holo of Tatooine. “According to the reports, the shipment was released on Tatooine.”

            “Do the slaves still have their trackers and transmitters?”

            Obi-Wan nodded. “I sent a few clones to retrieve the transmitter data and they’re pulling coordinates now.”

            “We shouldn’t do this as Jedi.” Ahsoka mumbled. “We can’t spread an image of the Jedi as slavers. Especially through Hutt Space.”

            Obi-Wan nodded. “We’ll need civilian clothing. No lightsabers.”

            Ahsoka nodded in agreement. “We should send him somewhere. A different sector.”

            Obi-Wan brought up a galaxy map of nearby sectors. “I don’t recall any of these sectors asking for assistance.”

            The sound of the troopers gathering themselves to attention brought Ahsoka and Obi-Wan to realize that Anakin was back. He motioned for them to relax and joined at Obi-Wan’s side.

            “Do we have a plan?”

            Obi-Wan was quiet, looking through the map of the nearby. “Not yet.”

            “What exactly is our mandate?” Anakin asked, staring at the holomap that Obi-Wan had brought up.

            “We’ve been given clearance to Hutt Space by the Chancellor, but not by Jabba. Ahsoka and I have to run a diplomatic mission, you’re being sent on reconnaissance of Teth. Do not land. For any reason.” Obi-Wan looked at Anakin and Anakin nodded, slightly afraid of Obi-Wan’s sudden seriousness. “Take a civilian cruiser.”

            Anakin nodded. “Should I take any men with me?”

            Obi-Wan thought about it for a moment, then realized that if he sent Anakin alone, it would take him longer. “No. Just make sure that the Twilight is nearby in case you need assistance.” He looked at Anakin with the same seriousness in his eyes and Anakin nodded.

            Ahsoka could feel the confusion between them—mostly Anakin’s confusion and Obi-Wan’s bluffing. Anakin turned and walked out, his confusion lingering in his Force signature. Obi-Wan felt strange in the Force… apprehensive and guarded. Ahsoka would’ve called his bluff, and she knew that Anakin would have as well if Obi-Wan hadn’t looked so stern.

            His attitude quickly disappeared and he sighed, tapping his fingers against the comm station. He turned to her. “I hope you realize that you’re also not taking a huge role in this mission,”

            Ahsoka looked at him, surprised. What did he mean she was taking a large role in the mission? Was he putting her on the sidelines too?

            “You’re emotionally involved. Just as much, possibly more so than Anakin.” He closed his eyes. “You’ll have to guard our ship.”

            Ahsoka gasped. “What?”

            He nodded and turned away from the comm station. The image of nearby sectors flickered away and Obi-Wan commed Cody and Rex, telling them to meet at the hangar.

            Ahsoka crossed her arms and followed her master’s master.

 


 

            Tatooine was the same way it was in her visions. Two bleak colors—a light blue, empty sky and sand. Endless amounts of sand.

            If Anakin had had a normal childhood on Tatooine, she wouldn’t blame him if he still hated it. Even if Tatooine had fun attractions or had any element of kid-friendliness, she would still understand his hatred. It was nothing but sand and sky.

            To be surrounded by so much sand and sky was torture. The heat was unbearable even in their civilian disguises. They had contacted a few senators for help and they had been given clearance to a section of the Resolute only available for senators—filled with their emergency clothes and disguises in case they needed protective exile, asylum, or security.

Ahsoka had been given a blue peasant outfit from Senator Amidala. It fit her perfectly—she looked like the perfect little servant in an ensemble of a bleak gray tunic fastened at the waist and wrists with dark blue cloth and black pants. Even with her cloak, it was impossible to hide her lightsabers, however she managed to hide a pair of cuffs under the back of the band around her waist.

            Obi-Wan was wearing one of Bail Organa’s disguises from his protective exile—black slacks with a silver seam down the side, a dark basic shirt, and a slightly long gray jacket swathed in pockets that fell to his mid-thigh. She had asked him how he felt in it and all he said was, “Why does a senator need so many small pockets?” None of them were big enough to hold his lightsaber.

            “Here, try my shoto.” She handed him the small lightsaber that/ she had been practicing with whenever she could. She hadn’t really used it in the field and she was slightly hoping that this would be a perfect field test.

            “Sir, I could fit them in my bag.” Cody offered, opening his satchel which he had filled with a few droid poppers (just in case) as well as a medkit and a half.

            Obi-Wan tossed his inside and Ahsoka tossed hers in as well, but Obi-Wan smuggled her shoto into one of his larger pockets with a smile. “Can you see it?” He asked, turning around slowly.

            Ahsoka shook her head with a smile. “Nope.”

            The clones wore dark clothing as well—black pants, dark gray tunic-like tops. Rex wore a simple gray cap on his head, Cody had their bag. They looked like twins.

            Obi-Wan turned to Ahsoka, “I need you to stay here with the ship.”

            Ahsoka frowned. “I can do this mission, master.”

            He shook his head. “I’m not questioning your abilities. I believe that you’re too emotionally compromised. Please stay with the ship.”

             She huffed, crossing her arms. “Keep the com channel open.” She said simply, walking back up the ramp and sitting down so the sandy wind couldn’t whip against her skin.

            Obi-Wan gave a nod and walked out to the civilian transport with Rex and Cody. It would pick them up from the outpost where they had landed and would take them to Mos Espa, one of Tatooine’s biggest settlements.

            Would Anakin have left her out like this? He probably would’ve left her on the Resolute, but at least with him she would be able to see the last of the action. There was also some flaw in his plan that brought her into the last play. She had a feeling that if he had been assigned to this mission that he would’ve already left to tail them.

            Although, he wouldn’t be tailing them to help them. He would be tailing them to free the slaves as they went.

            She felt sick just by being on Tatooine. The land of her nightmares.

            “Ahsoka, come in.” Obi-Wan’s voice crackled through the comlink that was hidden under the billowing blue-gray clothing.

            She clicked where she thought the button was. “I’m here. With the ship. As promised.”

            “Move in to the city terminal, where the civilian transport drops off. Secure it.” He said simply.

            She smiled. “Sure thing, master.” She ended the transmission and ran down the rest of the ramp, closing the entrance securely and entering in the security pin code.

She raced off to the pickup and in no time she was standing in the middle of the busiest city terminal she had ever seen. Coruscant boasted about its population of one trillion, but Ahsoka swore there was more than that at this one city terminal on a planet that only claimed 200,000 as its population.

“Master, there are too many people. I can’t secure it.” She said to her wrist com while attempting to walk through the crowd.

“Get up somewhere high. Just observe.” He instructed.

            She slid around a large, broken freighter and climbed up the side of it, sitting down on the roof. She was taller than most of the buildings around her except for one that she assumed was a bar. The crowd below her continued to push on through either to the market, or towards the in-city homes and bars.  “I can see about… three fourths of the crowd.” She reported.

            “That’ll have to do. Keep your position. Do not deviate.”

            Ahsoka hated being split from the group, especially in such numbers. If they needed her help, she’d have to launch herself into the crowd, run to wherever they were if she could find them, and fight without a lightsaber. She sighed, bit her lip and slid off the side of the freighter. “How many have you found so far?” She was going to help the best she could.

            “We’ve split up. Cody and Rex have one, I have another.” Kenobi informed.

            Ahsoka sighed. They had four more until they carried on like nothing had happened. Four more until they could stop lying to Anakin. Four more until the Jedi could go on like Jedi instead of slavers. She wanted to know what the Chancellor was thinking, letting the Jedi go out and perform such vile acts.

            “Sir, come in, sir.”

            Ahsoka clicked her comlink again. “What’s up, boys?”

            “One of them escaped us. She’s headed your way. Secure the exit.”

            Ahsoka clicked her comlink off and squeezed her way out into the crowd, feeling out from the woman’s anxiety and fear. She was like a beacon of fear. She could feel her enter the crowd, constantly looking over her shoulder to see if the two men had found her and followed her into the crowd. She found her way to the woman and signaled for her to come near. “Shh, it’s okay!” She said, knowing the woman couldn’t hear her over the crowd.

            The woman locked eyes with her. She clutched the doll in her arms as tightly as she could and when Ahsoka signaled that she was safe the woman made her way through the swarm to Ahsoka. They walked off to the side and Ahsoka dug the cuffs out from underneath the band of fabric around her waist. She kept them concealed, but suddenly the woman’s eyes widened and she backed up, nearly falling over her feet.

            She screamed something in Huttese and suddenly something in Ahsoka’s mind clicked like the last piece into a puzzle.

            “No, wait!” Ahsoka yelled, running after the woman. Anakin’s mother. They were wrong. She wasn’t dead. She was right there. Ahsoka had touched her. She pushed through the crowd, following the woman’s fear. She could hear the boys behind her, she could hear her comlink twittering at her wrist, and her heartbeat flooding her ears.

            The woman stumbled into a man and stopped, wrestled his blaster from his side. She put the blaster to her head and said a phrase in Huttese, probably something along the lines of ‘leave me alone’ or ‘don’t take another step’.

            Ahsoka stopped, putting her hands so the woman could see them. The cuffs dropped to the ground. “It’s okay.” She said softly, taking a slow step forward.

            The woman shook her head and said the same phrase.

            Ahsoka tried to use the Force to take the gun from her hand, but she broke her focus when the woman screamed and pulled the blaster back, tighter in her hand. She pulled the trigger and fell to the ground as though someone had cut the strings on a puppet.

            Ahsoka ran to her, pushing the blaster far out of the way with the Force. The sleemo that owned the gun scrambled after it, cursing in Huttese. She knelt down at the woman’s side, her hands flittering over the woman’s body to her neck where with shaking hands she checked for a pulse.

            Suddenly, things became clearer. This woman. She wasn’t Anakin’s mother. Anakin’s mother had died years before her. They had both died. They had died trying to be free from the endless dunes of sand. A terrifying thought came across Ahsoka’s mind—at least in death they were finally free.

            Obi-Wan placed a hand on her shoulder, then offered his other hand to help her to her feet. He pulled her into him, feeling her shake in fear. She let herself cry, sobbing that only made her shake all the more.

            Obi-Wan signaled for Cody and Rex to continue the mission as though nothing had happened. Obi-Wan took the slave that they had captured and the one that he had captured, together they took the civilian transport back to their ship. They rode in absolute silence except for the sobs from Ahsoka and the two captured slaves.  

            Cody and Rex managed to catch the remaining three slaves. They secured them to the back of the ship, giving them food, water, and blankets. They looked at them skeptically when they were offered blankets, but Obi-Wan swore that they would need them for when they started up the ship. The cool air currents would be enough to have them shivering.

Ahsoka curled up in the co-pilot seat, pulling her legs in close to her chest. She looked out to the empty horizon and swore to herself that she would never return to such a harsh planet.

She tried to prepare herself for the scolding. She knew that she had disobeyed orders running after the slave when Cody and Rex were already in pursuit. She had been instructed to secure the exit, the transit, and instead she had entered the mission. He was right, she was emotionally compromised.

Obi-Wan slid into the pilot’s chair next to her. “I would’ve done the same thing,” he said simply, turning to her with sad eyes. “It’s what we do as Jedi.” He turned his chair to her. “Ahsoka, it’s alright. Rest.” She could feel his gentle sleep suggestion through the Force. She tried to shrug it off, but her sight became dimmer, the corners of her vision fading to black. She closed her eyes, his peaceful, sorrowful smile the last thing she saw.

Obi-Wan turned from Ahsoka to face the clones as they boarded the ship. He pulled a blanket up and over her without looking.

“Sir, how are we going to explain the lost slave to Jabba?”

Obi-Wan stroked his beard. “We don’t have any other options than to tell him the truth.” He sighed, “Hopefully Jabba’s in a good mood today.”

Rex nodded and Cody walked back towards where they had held the slaves.

Obi-Wan fired up the engines. He had only been on Tatooine for a few hours and space already felt freezing. He bit the inside of his cheek to keep his teeth from chattering as he pulled the ship towards the Resolute.

“Sir?” Cody asked, confused as to why they were docking into the hangar.

“I’m going to let Ahsoka stay here, she’s had enough for today.” He said, picking her up in his arms. He walked down the ramp, past the slaves and into the hangar.

            Ahsoka stirred slightly in his arms. “Master,”

            He stopped. “Yes?”

            “Put me down.”

            Obi-Wan helped Ahsoka to her feet. “Take care of yourself.” He said to her, pulling the blanket back over her shoulders.

            She gave a slight nod. “May the Force be with you,” she said softly, her tone dead.

            He nodded and left to return to the Twilight. He still had to meet with Jabba before Anakin returned. He was sure Ahsoka and Anakin would be fine as long as Anakin didn’t find out about their mission to re-capture slaves.

 

            Anakin knew that something was wrong with his padawan when he entered the hangar. He took his time stepping out of his civilian cruiser—double checking, no, triple checking the landing gear and making sure all systems were turned off. He closed his eyes, breathed in, opened his eyes, and stepped out down the ramp to meet her.

            She sat on the floor next to his golden starfighter, her knees pulled up to her chest with a blanket around her shoulders. She wore a blue peasant outfit that looked oddly familiar, but he couldn’t place it. She didn’t meet his eyes when he walked up to her, or when R2 chirped, asking what was wrong.

            “Snips?” He sat down next to her, “Everything okay?”

            She shook her head, still refusing to meet his eyes.

            “Look, I took some time to think about earlier, and I realized I’m being selfish. It’s your mind and you make the decisions. I’m sorry.” He looked to see if his apology had any effect on her.

            She looked up at him, tears in her big blue eyes. “I messed up.” She said, her voice cracking just before the tears began to flow.

            “What happened?” He put an arm around her, pulling her closer to him. His genuine concern for her only made her feel worse… if only he knew what she had done.

            “A woman died because of me,” she blubbered. “She…” Ahsoka couldn’t continue through her sobs. She hugged herself tighter while he continued to rub her back.

            Anakin shushed her, “You can’t save everyone, Snips.” He wiped away her tears with his soft, leather gloves. “What can we do?”

            She blinked, unsure of what he meant. Her crying quieted and she thought for a moment. “Do we have time to go get food?” Food always helped—especially when there was someone to eat with.

            Anakin smiled. “Yeah. Do you want to go somewhere else, or just the Mess?” He helped her to her feet and R2 twirped happily.

            She stroked R2’s dome. “Do we have clearance and time to go somewhere else?”

            Anakin nodded, leading her to the cruiser he had just stepped off of. “What are they going to do? Send my army?” He smirked and let her playfully hit him in the arm for his awful play on a phrase.

            “Yes, Skyguy.”

            “So, why did you have to wear this for a diplomatic mission to see Jabba?” He asked, gesturing to her blue outfit.

            Ahsoka was quiet. He didn’t know that she hadn’t even gone to see Jabba, that Obi-Wan had dropped her off early. Then she realized her opening. “We weren’t allowed to come as Jedi.” Not a total lie.

            Anakin nodded understandingly. He must’ve assumed that it was all another way for Jabba to gain power from his rivals or victims.

            “Are you paying?” She walked up the ramp of the cruiser and sat down in the co-pilot chair.

            “I guess.” Anakin sighed.

            She smiled. A real smile. One that Anakin hadn’t seen in a long time. He should’ve known—the way to a girl’s heart was always food.

 


 

(A/N: If you didn't read the chapter notes at the top, this is just an explanation as to what this is. This part was originally a "bonus" scene, but because I forgot ao3 existed and I forgot to update, I'm including another bit of a chapter as a gift. So this is that essential "bonus" scene.)

 

            The dim blue of the holoprojector flickered with the image of his wife and he almost couldn’t contain his happiness. After a tiring day of boring recon, he hadn’t even been able to give a full report because the planet was so cloudy.

To make things better she wore his favorite gown—a deep blue with cuts to reveal her shoulders that hid her arms in long sleeves, the bodice was tight and the gown had a slight gradient to a darker blue towards the end. It was the easiest one to take off of her.

She smiled at him, happy to see that he was alive and well.

            “Ani,” she breathed. She took a second to collect her thoughts and it brought her out of her stupor into the real galaxy. “The Senate just had an emergency meeting about your mission, the Chancellor shut down the vote and used emergency powers to grant you access.” Her tone stern, her happiness fading into grave seriousness.

            “So we’re free to take Teth?”

            “You’re free to fulfill Jabba’s horrific mandate. Only he can give you clearance to Teth.” She crossed her arms, worried.

            “What’s Jabba’s mandate?” Anakin asked, leaning in on the comm station. How could securing trade routes be horrific? Was it just horrific to Padme because the Chancellor had used his emergency powers again?

            Padme looked at him, or rather the image of him, completely surprised. “You haven’t been told?”

            Anakin shrugged slightly, “I was told we were just securing trade routes.”

            Padme shook her head furiously, “No, Ani. You’re being sent to collect the slaves that he lost.”

            Anakin took a step back, his heart pounding in his head. He couldn’t think and he thought for a moment he was going to pass out.

            What?



 

            “Have we had a report from the hangar yet?” Obi-Wan asked, sipping his tea as he paced around the bridge. “What about the officer’s room?”

            “He’s not there, sir. The report from the hangar may take a while, they’ve been running maintenance on the Larties. One of the hyperspace rings is missing sir,” The clone reported from his chair, swiveling to face Obi-Wan. Every so often he would press his hand against his headset so he could better hear the reports from his brothers, then he would turn back to the console and continue his hunt.

            It looked as though Obi-Wan was ready to tear apart the control room. Ahsoka could feel his anger leaking into the Force until suddenly he expelled all of it in one gush. The room became much calmer and it was as though a weight had been lifted off of her chest.

            “Master, I feel like this is my fault.” She told him, walking up beside him and placing her hands on the comm station. “I talked with him… about what happened on the mission without actually telling him what had happened… and we left to go to a nearby planet for better food. He trusted me.”

            Obi-Wan closed his eyes and stroked his beard. “It’s not your fault, Ahsoka.” He reassured, although his tone wasn’t very reassuring. He opened his eyes and clicked away at the comm station bringing up a holo map of the nearby area. “Do we know what ship he took?” Obi-Wan asked the many clones.

            There was no response.

            “Sir, I take it our operation has been put on hold again with General Skywalker’s disappearance?” Admiral Yularen asked, taking his place at the comm station across from Obi-Wan.

            “Our hold was never removed. The Council and the Hutts are sorting things out as we speak.” Obi-Wan explained. “He’s been missing for hours, what could he be doing?”

            An unease tremor hit them through the Force and Ahsoka looked to Obi-Wan, “I have a bad feeling about this, master.”

            The holo of the nearby sectors flickered and the green light on the comm station twinkled. Obi-Wan pressed it, accepting a message that they all assumed was from Courscant—either the Chancellor, one of his advisors, the Council, possibly a senator… but instead they found Jabba the Hutt and his sparkling translator droid.

            “The Great and Wise Jabba requests that the Jedi leave the Outer Rim or deal with the consequences.” The droid spoke.

            Obi-Wan frowned. “Why, Mighty Jabba?”

            Jabba said something, his tone obviously outraged and the droid translated.

            “The Mighty Jabba does not wish to deal with traitors.” The droid shook when Jabba continued with his loud, booming voice no doubt filled with Huttese’s vilest curses. “Mighty Jabba declares that you must take all Jedi off of Tatooine and never interfere with the Hutt Clan’s work ever again.”

            “There are no Jedi on Tatooine.” Obi-Wan blurted. “Mighty Jabba,” he added, a slight blush of embarrassment coming to his face.

            Jabba erupted, spouting off more Huttese and the droid didn’t even try to translate his line of expletives. The screen flashed with an adjacent video that the Hutts were streaming to them.

            A security holo flickered to life. A figure in dark hooded civilian clothing ran through the alley and disappeared followed by the light flashes of blaster fire and the running of forty to fifty slaves before the figure returned at the end and fired a bolt into the recording device. The video looped back and played again.

            “This is not a Jedi, Mighty Jabba.” Obi-Wan explained. “Only two Jedi entered Hutt Space. My apprentice and I were the only ones to step foot on Tatooine and that was to fulfill your mandate.”

            “The All Powerful, All Knowing Jabba requests that if the Jedi were not the ones to free his shipment, then the Jedi should be the one to collect the shipment and apprehend the criminal.” The droid spoke.

            Obi-Wan sighed, trying to keep his cool. Ahsoka could feel that this was beginning to wear on him, but she was amazed that he had made it so far. If it were up to her, they would no doubt be in the middle of a war with the Hutt Clan. “Mighty Jabba, the Jedi have no jurisdiction on Tatooine. We were only permitted to follow your mandate because the Jedi Council and the Chancellor deemed it necessary. If you wish for the Jedi to act as a police force among Tatooine, then I request you speak with the Council.”

            There was silence on the other line and the droid turned from Jabba to the holo. “Very well.” And with that the feed ended and they disappeared.

            Obi-Wan sighed again, shaking his head.

            “Sir, there’s a ship coming in from hyperspace.” One of the clones announced.

            “Is it one of ours?”

            “Doesn’t look like it sir, looks civilian to me. It’s a freighter, sir.”

            “Open the hangar.” Obi-Wan ordered, walking out of the bridge at a slight jog.

            Ahsoka followed closely behind him. She was terrified. She had seen her masters fight before, but she felt like what was about to unfold was something unreal, something she would never see again. A fight so justified that she prayed to the Force it would never happen again.

 

            When Anakin stepped off of the freighter R2 was the only one that was happy to see him.

            “You nearly caused an intergalactic war between the Republic and the Hutts, Anakin.” Obi-Wan yelled, he crossed his arms over his chest. “Because of you the Council has been forced into negotiations with the Hutts where if they decide it’s necessary, you will be forced to enslave those that you just freed.”

            Anakin walked past him, ignoring all of what had just been said. It wasn’t as though Obi-Wan understood what he had done. He had held a promise to his friends on Tatooine since they could walk and talk. They had heard pilots speak of all of the things they had seen, all of the place they had been—true, unbridled freedom. Now some fifty slaves were leaving Tatooine without their transmitters and trackers embedded in their skin, they were leaving the rotten dust ball planet for something bigger, something greater.

            Obi-Wan followed him, still nagging and explaining how his actions had put them all into danger, how his actions had put the galaxy in jeopardy.

            Anakin turned to him. “A Jedi must protect the weak and defenseless from evil.” He looked at Obi-Wan and for once, Ahsoka couldn’t feel what either one of them was thinking or felt. It was as though they had exclusively cut her off and formed their own little bubble.

            “Don’t you dare tell me what the Code says, Anakin.” He grabbed Anakin’s shoulders. “A Jedi must not take revenge.”

            Anakin broke his grip. “Jedi serve others, rather than rule them, for the good of the galaxy.” His voice dark with anger. “Do not touch me.” He continued on his walk, but Ahsoka grabbed his sleeve and pulled him back.

            “Jedi respect each other,” Ahsoka recited, turning to Anakin, then to Obi-Wan.

            Obi-Wan softened, his stance must more relaxed, that is until Anakin ruined it.

            “And all other life forms.” Anakin finished, taking his hand back from his apprentice.

            “A Jedi will not cling to the past!” Obi-Wan continued. “Anakin, stop this foolishness.”

            His apprentice didn’t relax, “You enslaved them. You and the Council are the reason I had to do this. You’re no better than the Hutts.” He unclipped his lightsaber from his belt and tossed it to Obi-Wan’s feet before walking up the ramp and disappearing down one of the Resolute’s numerous hallways.

            Obi-Wan picked up the fallen lightsaber and turned it over in his hands. He looked to Ahsoka, “What am I going to tell the Council?”

Chapter Text

            Anakin never returned to their quarters.

            She sat in her chair, waiting for him to come back. She had moved to the couch, she had slept on the couch, she had moved to the floor, she had watched every Outer Rim holodrama she had access to as well as the ones that she had recorded from home. She even checked to see if somehow he had been bypassing the front door and making it in through the vent system…. His room had remained untouched. He had given up on her. He had given up on the Order, what they fought for…

            The Republic had lost their Hero with No Fear, their war effort poster boy, their main celebrity. They had lost Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, General of the 501st, Master to Ahsoka Tano, and apprentice of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

            For the first time that she could truly remember—she felt absolute hopelessness.

 

            She found Obi-Wan sitting at their usual table with two biscuits, a cup of tea, and three or four datapads. He didn’t look up when she sat down across from him.

            “Where’s Anakin?” Ahsoka asked.

            Obi-Wan jumped slightly, she hadn’t even tried to sneak up on him. Obi-Wan brushed his hair out of his face. “I don’t know.” He said quietly, taking a sip of his tea. “I know he’s been sending transmissions to Coruscant through one of the central comm stations.” He admitted, staring down at the datapads. “Every time I try to meet with him, he walks past me.”

            Ahsoka frowned. She was beginning to learn that her master was pretty good when it came to holding grudges. “Who is he sending transmissions to?”

            Obi-Wan shrugged, reading through whatever was on his screen. “The computers just say Coruscant.” He took the other datapad, but didn’t read it. He looked up at her and it became slightly more apparent to her that Obi-Wan hadn’t been sleeping.

            “Has the Council said anything?” She thought about taking the second biscuit from him that he had grabbed for Anakin like always, but instead stared at the table. “Maybe we just need to go on with this invasion… maybe getting back into action will just solve all of this.” She said with a slight smile.

            Obi-Wan shrugged and went back to ‘reading’. “The Council is stuck between the Hutts and the Chancellor. The Chancellor insists that the Jedi are to assist Jabba, but the Council refrains from doing so because it would be a violation of the sector’s sovereignty. It’s going to a Senate vote today.”

            Ahsoka nodded, not truly understanding why the Chancellor couldn’t just accept ‘no’ as an answer. She guessed it came with the power, that he was used to getting everything he wanted. “I’m going to try to find him.” She slid her legs out from under the table.

            Obi-Wan looked up, his eyes slightly sad that he couldn’t help her. “Tell him that I’m sorry.” He looked back to the datapad and took another sip of his tea. “I never meant for this to go so far, I never meant for it to hurt him.”

            Ahsoka nodded, “I’ll tell him.” And with that she ran off.

 

            It wasn’t hard finding which comm station her master was hiding out in. He had posted two clones at the front to act as guards—both of them inevitably and clearly bored.

            “You can both go back to what you were doing,” She told them with a smile.

            One of them stiffened, but the other relaxed and almost took a step to the side.

            “Sorry, young one, but we were given orders by General Skywalker.” The stiff one said, keeping his arms to his side.

            His companion turned to him, then stiffened as well.

            Ahsoka stared at them skeptically. “He didn’t tell you? I’m his padawan. It’s time for my lesson with him.” She blinked her big blue eyes before adding some Force essence to her voice. “You don’t need to stand guard any longer,” She said with a wave of her hand.

            “We don’t need to stand guard any longer.”

            “You can go play games with the other officers.”

            “We can go play games with the other officers.” They walked around her and down the hall towards the officer’s den where they were no doubt playing Dejairik.

            Ahsoka stood in front of the empty door, ready to open it and face her master… but something in her couldn’t do it. Something in her couldn’t burst in through the door and tell him that he needed to let things go.

            She rested her head against the hard metal door and felt for him in the Force. He felt fragmented, scared, and angry. She could feel his deep need for freedom… he wanted out, out of something. Out of the room? She considered opening the door and just staring at him, just waiting for him to say something. Instead, she sat down at the foot of the door, folded her legs, and waited.

            She had pushed him into enough things already, it was time for him to make the move.

 

            The holoprojector flickered to life and Anakin stopped his endless pacing. He answered the call, and tried to keep his anxiety at bay as his wife appeared before him.

            “Ani, the Senate has voted to keep the Jedi out of Hutt affairs.” Padme informed him. She hadn’t taken the time to change into more comfortable clothes—she wore one of her travelling outfits, a dark maroon gown with gold and silver accents, her hair covered with an intricately decorated scarf.

            Anakin felt a slight weight being lifted off of his shoulders. The slaves that he had freed were going to remain free. He hadn’t considered the idea of an intergalactic incident… he wouldn’t have imagined in his wildest thoughts that the Hutts would realize the absence of their slaves. He should’ve known better.

            He looked down at the com panel. He couldn’t face her, not with what he was going to tell her. He gripped the side of the panel, his knuckles turning white, his stomach twisting into knots as the adrenaline and anxiety fueled his body. “Padme,” He managed to say. He couldn’t find a way to soften the blow, to lighten his words. “I’m going to leave the Order.” He glanced up at her, watching her hands rise to her mouth, her body tensing.

            They were silent.

            Anakin looked down at the flickering lights of the panel. The green meant their connection was strong, the yellow meant that it was uninterrupted, that other calls would not break up their transmission, the blue meant that it was secure between two Republic channels…

            “Anakin.”

            He looked up, but didn’t want to meet her eyes. He looked to the side, biting his lip as he did when he was flustered. “I’ve thought about it for a long while now, Padme.”

            He could feel her heart breaking through the Force despite her being millions of miles away. He looked down again, trying to blink away the tears that were forming in his eyes. “Ever since we got married, I was unsure. I didn’t know if I wanted this, or if I wanted you, and it was always a thought… always an option.” He rambled, tapping his hands on the com panel so he could listen to something other than himself. “I don’t want to be a Jedi anymore if this is what the Jedi have become.”

            Padme didn’t say anything, not even a sigh. She closed her eyes, her fingers still laced in one another, her hands at her lips as though she was praying. She opened her dark eyes, staring directly at his image, almost as though there were so many miles between them… almost like she was standing right in front of him, staring into his soul. “Anakin, please… just listen to me, and just consider what I have to say.” She said softly.

            He nodded.

            She sighed, her form relaxing and her voice falling into a façade of calm. She was going to use her sympathetic politician voice on him, her hands came down to her front. “Ani, I know that you feel like the Jedi have betrayed you, but it was the Republic.” She told him, looking down and off to the side. “The Chancellor decided to let the Jedi capture Jabba’s slaves before the Senate was formally organized. He met with two committees and they decided it was best.” She inhaled a shaky breath before looking back up at him. “I understand that you want to leave the Jedi, and that is your choice, and I will love you no matter what… but please, consider Ahsoka. Consider Obi-Wan and your men, consider your friends.”

            Anakin’s anxiety and indecisiveness was palpable. He looked to her, then to the side almost as though he was ashamed to admit such thoughts of insecurity to his wife. He took a few steps back and ran a hand through his hair before walking out of the holoprojector’s range. He returned before she could tell him more reassuring statements in her calming tone.

            “Ani,” She simply spoke, tears forming in her eyes. It pained her to see him in such pain, in such a disaster of thoughts and feelings.

            A small, broken smirk found its way onto his lips and he looked up to her, “I guess this isn’t very Jedi of me.” He said softly.

            She frowned, “Anakin Skywalker.”

            He closed his eyes.

            “You need to listen to me.” She said with a light, nervous laugh although her expression was completely serious. “You need to give yourself time to think about this. Please, Ani. Just… keep doing what you’re doing, lose yourself in your work, consider what’s going to happen.” She closed her eyes, exhaling, then opened them again. “I love you no matter what, Anakin Skywalker.”

            He smiled softly. She had a way of making everything so much clearer, so much… lighter. “I love you more, angel.”

            She blew a kiss and faded into a humming calm empty blue of the holo.

            He turned the communications panel off and sat down on the floor. He leaned against the hard metal and apprehensively reached out into the Force, letting it embrace him like an old friend. He could feel his master’s distress and concern, his apprentice’s fright and hesitance. He had no idea what he was going to tell them… no idea how he was going to face them.

            Anakin turned and cleared the communication computer, erasing the call that he had just made from the ship’s database. He turned back to the door, staring at it, knowing that his apprentice was on the other side waiting for him. He had to face her eventually.

            He got to his feet, gently feeling out through their bond to see if she was still awake. He opened the door and looked down at his student.

            Ahsoka sat cross legged on the floor, her hands on her knees, her eyes full of tears as she looked up at him. She looked at him, a tear sliding past and falling down her face. “I’m sorry,” She said softly.

            He didn’t say anything, he frowned slightly and offered her a hand up which she took. He held onto her hand, not letting her break his grasp and walked with her down the hall in silence. He wasn’t sure what he was doing, but he needed her to know what was going on. He couldn’t keep her in the dark any longer.

 

            “You can’t leave now! We’re just about to take Teth!” She exclaimed, fidgeting in her chair as he paced back and forth.

            He didn’t look to meet her eyes, but continued pacing. “I know, but soon.” He frowned deeper, running his hands through his hair. “I just…” he stopped himself from continuing, he had opened up enough to his padawan for one night.

            “Who’s going to train me if not you?” She asked, almost standing up from her seat. How could he just decide to abandon her like this? Had all of this time together not meant a single thing? Was the Republic’s capture of a few slaves truly more significant in his mind than their friendship?

            Anakin’s shoulders dropped slightly, but he continued to pace, continued to think. “Obi-Wan.” He said simply. “He’s basically trained you the whole time.” Anakin said flatly.

            Ahsoka stood, stopping in front of his path. “Stop pacing!” She scolded, she swung at him, hitting him in the arm. “Don’t say that Obi-Wan has trained me more than you have,” She hit him again so hard, this time in the chest. “Who taught me how to meditate? Who taught me the Code?”

            Anakin grabbed her hands before she could hit him again. “I taught you how to break the Code. I’ve taught you to let your emotions guide you. I’ve taught you so many of my own flaws, Ahsoka.” He brought her hands down, letting them go from his grasp. He turned away from her, crossing his arms.

            She wiped away the tears that she had just realized she was shedding. “Master.” She said, her voice croaking because of her crying. “I don’t Obi-Wan to be my master.”

            Anakin was quiet. “What about Master Plo?” He said softly, no anger in his voice.

            Ahsoka stared at him, hoping that her gaze was enough to make him turn around and face her, to make him see what he had done. He was breaking her heart. “I don’t want Master Plo.” She stated.

            He didn’t speak again. He didn’t pace either. He sat down across the table and a few chairs down from her at the conference table. He had taken her into an empty conference room to spill his guts out. He stared at the table, thinking hard about his options and the decision he had to make.

            “Did you tell Padme?” Ahsoka asked, turning to him, her voice slightly venomous.

            Anakin nodded, not looking up from the glance he bore into the table.

            “Did she give you advice?”

            Anakin nodded again.

            “I suggest you follow it.” She pushed out of her chair and walked out of the room, not bothering to close the door behind her.

 

 

 

 

            “What proposals have we made for our movements on Teth?” He asked, sliding into his seat across from Obi-Wan and snatching his extra biscuit like always.

            Obi-Wan looked up, mystified by his apprentice’s presence. He was about to make a snarky remark, but quelled his urge figuring it was best not to start something. The old master looked to his apprentice’s apprentice who sat there unfazed drinking her corrupted caf. “We haven’t.” He said simply, he cleared his voice. “We haven’t made any.”

            Anakin looked down at his own caf, swirling the dark liquid around in the thermajug. “I was thinking last night, that we need to stay as close to the river as we can. The river gives us access to water and the swamps are thick. We can start there.”

            Obi-Wan tried to hide his smile, but it showed through in his eyes. “Where exactly are you thinking? The river junction a few clicks from the monastery?”

            Anakin nodded, taking Obi-Wan’s datapad and pulling up the map of Teth. “If we start there, then it’s only an hour or so through the swamp and wilderness to get to the monastery. My only concern is how our artillery will hold in the swamp mud.” He sighed, sitting back and taking a sip of his caf.

            “We should do closer surveillance before sending in heavy artillery.” Ahsoka interrupted. “We have to take this step by step.”

            Anakin frowned, “Yes, but if our suspicions are right, then we’re stranded on Teth with thousands of droids, a few clones, and no back up.”

            Obi-Wan gave a smirk. “Don’t get caught.”

            Anakin rolled his eyes. “Don’t use me as bait.” He grumbled.

            Ahsoka smiled too. It was almost as though things were back to normal, as though the golden trio of the Republic’s war effort wasn’t breaking apart. She wished she was victim to the same blind ignorance as Obi-Wan.

            Anakin slid out of his spot and stood there, looking down at the datapad as though he was trying to get it to release some sort of information that was vital to their mission. “I’m going to go talk with Rex. Com me if you have any ideas.” He turned and started to head off, but Obi-Wan whistled and he stopped, turning to face him with a glare of annoyance.

            Obi-Wan held Anakin’s lightsaber in his hand. “Forgetting something?”

 

 

            Anakin sat down for the first time in hours. He sat across from his padawan who had managed to fall asleep in the middle of a very important tactical conversation about their supplies. She had curled her legs up on the chair with her and fallen asleep. Anakin couldn’t really blame her… he knew it was the only sleep she’d gotten in the past few weeks.

            He watched as she slept, feeling into the Force. He couldn’t feel any panic, any pain… maybe she was finally free of the visions she had been cursed with, maybe they didn’t have to worry about it anymore—one less argument to be had.

            “General, I suggest you wake her before we reach the planet’s atmosphere.” Admiral Yularen instructed, not bothering to turn back from the communications table to face him. He continued to study the charts that they had opened. “Has she been debriefed?”

            Anakin shrugged. “She fell asleep during it. I don’t know how much she knows. She should be fine.” He closed his eyes, relaxing into the back of the chair and letting himself breathe for a moment before the Admiral ruined it yet again.

            “Your men are ready for you in the hangar, General Skywalker.”

            Anakin opened his eyes and fought against the soreness and lethargy. “C’mon Snips,” he shook her lightly and she woke with a start. “Time to get going.”

            Ahsoka nodded, blinking her eyes to keep them open as she stood and followed him out to the hangar. “Did I miss anything?”

            Anakin was quiet for a moment. “Just… keep close and don’t do anything stupid. The whole point of this mission is to get in and get out quickly and quietly.” He stopped in the center of the hangar where Rex was giving the squad their orders before separating onto the LAAT/Is. Rex turned to Anakin, offering him a moment if he wanted to add in any details, but her master shook his head and walked over to an empty LAAT/i.

            “So… I just stay close and do what you do?” She asked, clarifying what little orders she had been given.

            Anakin nodded. “We’re hoping for no resistance. When I did surveillance earlier I didn’t find any hints of Separatist activity, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Pay attention, Snips.”

            Ahsoka rolled her eyes at the nickname. “Then don’t bore me to death, Skyguy.” She said in a cool tone followed by a yawn. “Can’t wait until we’re granted leave.”

            Anakin scoffed. “Won’t be for a while. There’s already been talk about sending us to Hosnian Prime.” The clones began to pile in and they took their usual spots.

            Ahsoka tried not to show her exhaustion by concealing it in the Force. She reached to the universal life for energy, for peace and harmony, for strength. She didn’t know what to expect. Anakin had gone from nonexistent, to at her side in a matter of hours. He acted as though none of the recent events bothered him, as though nothing had changed between them. She wondered if he still wanted to leave all of this behind, leave his men, leave the Order, leave her behind. She felt as though his attitude and actions were all a front, hiding his real thoughts.

            “Ahsoka.”

            She blinked and looked at him, unsure of what to say. She wanted to ask him if he was going to stay, or if he was going to leave. She wanted to be out of this awful limbo that he had placed her in.

            “You coming?”

            She hadn’t even realized that they had landed, the doors slid open and the clones piled out. Ahsoka was the last one off of the LAAT/I following closely behind Anakin in silence.

            She had been on Teth before and she found it nothing special. The sky was cloudy and murky, but that only made the planet warmer with its awful humidity. Tactically, she was thankful for all of the jungle plant cover which concealed them from anyone and everyone that couldn’t hear them, but she could gladly live without the feeling of something always brushing against her whether it be a bug or leaf.

            “The riverbed should be a click or so this way. We’ll follow it to the monastery.” Anakin declared, looking at the readout from his comlink.

            The clones behind them talked quietly, conversing about who was going to kill the most clankers, if there were any to kill in the first place. Anakin and Ahsoka walked together quietly listening to the men behind them comment on their need to avenge their fallen brothers.

            Ahsoka looked up to her master, watching him as he pretended she wasn’t staring, looking straight towards the hidden horizon. She hoped he would ask her what was on her mind, or for her to share her thoughts in some way or another, but she knew that if she wanted to talk, she’d have to start the conversation. She looked down, nervously playing with her own hands. “Master,”

            He glanced down, “Ahsoka.”

            “Are you really thinking about leaving?”

            “Ahsoka, now isn’t the time.” He said simply, his way of saying ‘yes’. She guessed that he had probably already made up his mind and that he was just humoring her by fulfilling this one last mission. Her last mission with him, the last time she’d be called ‘Snips’, the last time she’d be able to call him ‘Skyguy’. She frowned.

 

            “We should send scouts up ahead to check the river crossroads.” Anakin said, stopping their small squadron’s parade through the marshy path.

            Rex signaled for the two clones at the back of their party to run to the front, they did so and took off past the general. They knew what to do—simple surveillance, report back via com, then in person.

            “We should keep moving.” Ahsoka suggested, turning slowly in a circle to look at all of the high trees that surrounded their small clearing. “I feel like we’re being watched.”

            Anakin nodded, turning off to face one of the sides of the path. “I agree, but we have nowhere to go.” He said softly, he turned to Rex and gave him a simple signal meaning for them to remain silent and to investigate.

            He pointed Ahsoka off towards the river and took the opposite way, disappearing into the brush before she could even ask what she was really doing. She rolled her eyes and wandered over to the remaining members of their squadron.

            “Remain quiet, keep com channels open, secure this area.” She instructed softly, watching from the corner of her eye as Rex secured the trail they had been travelling down.

            She ran off into the thick bushes and tried to conceal her annoyance. Surveillance meant no lightsabers, but Force, there should be an exception when walking ankle deep in swamp with bugs the size of a starfighter. She felt out through the Force, feeling for anyone, anything, but all that came back to her was the humming life-force of the fauna.

            She turned, wandering back through all of the thick green brush to get back to their secured clearing. She could see the scouts that Anakin had sent already returned, giving Anakin and Rex their accounts. She swatted at a few bugs and took her place beside Anakin.

            “It looks to be clear, sir, but there are signs of recent movement.”

            “What kind of recent movement?”

            “Ships have been landing and taking off, sir. There are marks in the grasses from a ship, maybe a small freighter.” One of the clones explained.

            Anakin nodded. “We can’t assume it’s Separatists. It could be smugglers.”

            Ahsoka agreed, but didn’t nod. “Proceed with caution, don’t switch your blasters to stun just yet, smugglers could be even more dangerous.” She blurted.

            “Let’s head out.” Anakin ordered, sending the scouts to the front of their procession.

            “Do you sense like we’re being watched?” Ahsoka asked, leaning in close to her master so her voice wouldn’t carry.

            Anakin gave a small nod. “I feel something dark… it’s not Ventress or Dooku.” He kept his eyes forward, watching the scouts as they took them deeper into the brush where their trail began to disappear.

            Ahsoka frowned. “I don’t sense it, master.”

            Her master was quiet for a moment. “It’s so much… it’s kind of making me dizzy.”

            “Do you want to stop?”

            Anakin gave her a glare and walked past her, taking the position between her and the scouts. She felt him close himself off from her, cutting off their connection and only allowing her to sense that he was there.

            She walked behind him, slightly bewildered by his sudden change of attitude. Had she done something wrong by suggesting they rest? She felt like she had offended him, or crossed an invisible line over what was acceptable and what wasn’t.

            Distracted by her thoughts and her master’s actions, Ahsoka walked into him, quickly pulling back as though nothing had happened.

            She could tell that he was repressing a chuckle when he turned back and gave the clones a signal to double up. He turned back and Ahsoka walked around to his side for a better view of their target.

            The monastery sat on top of the stone foundation, hoisted up into the air above the trees. She could see what the scouts had meant by signs of movement, the tall grasses that they had planned to sneak through had been flattened by ships.

            “Do you see anything?” Ahsoka asked the scouts as they looked with their scopes.

            One of the scouts turned to face them, “I’ve got eyes on two ships docked on the platform. A basic freighter and a Republic shuttle.”

            Anakin frowned, “What class shuttle?”

            “Executive.”

            He crouched down closer, next to the scouts. “It’s not one of ours. It can’t be. I was told by Obi-Wan and the Admiral that there are no Republic ships in Hutt Space other than us.” The clone handed him the macrobinoculars so he could see for himself.

            “What does this mean?” Ahsoka asked.

            Anakin handed the binoculars back, “I have no idea, Snips.”

            Ahsoka felt the charge through the Force before she saw it. The blast hit the clone scout in front of her and he fell to the ground. She jumped back and Anakin used the Force to send the other scout back to a safe distance.

            “There’s the welcoming committee.” Ahsoka growled, pointing out the assassin droid that had taken the shot from one of the tall sanctuary windows.

            “Our position has been compromised.” Rex reminded them. “What are your orders, general?”

            Anakin sighed, “Well, we know it’s a trap, so…” He glanced to his padawan.

            “Let’s spring the trap.” Ahsoka finished.

 

 

            They had decided to send the two Jedi on their own.

            Ahsoka hid in one of the trees, watching the monastery closely, waiting for any sort of movement. They couldn’t be caught off guard by the sniper again, they’d have to rush the foundation and push themselves against it, making them invisible to those peering from the high windows. She calculated a path in her mind, launch herself out of the tree, rush through the grass, press against the foundation.

            She heard Anakin sneeze from somewhere to her left and she tried not to roll her eyes. “What happened to covert?” She asked, swinging down from her tree branch to face him.

            Anakin was quiet, staring ahead. “Can you see anyone?” He asked, ignoring her comment.

            Ahsoka pulled herself back up into the tree. “I think it’s clear. I can see lights inside.”

            She felt Anakin’s anxiety surge in the Force. She could feel the darkness he had been talking about, the darkness so strong and thick that she could almost taste it. She tried to shake the thoughts from her mind. There would be more than enough time later to think about the darkness when they confronted it.

            “Go,” Anakin told her, giving her a slight Force push out of her position.

            Ahsoka soared into the air and landed gracelessly into the grass. She turned back and glared at Anakin who ran up to her, grabbed her hand and pulled her along with him. “I can run on my own, you know.” She pulled her hand back.

            “Then pick up the pace, Snips.” He said simply, looking up the side of the foundation for any sign that the people in the monastery had seen them. He closed his eyes and listened, only hearing the sounds of the swamp and their own breathing. He turned to her, “I think we should scale the foundation by the hangar. Destroy the ships.”

            “If we destroy the ships we might not have a way out of here.”

            Anakin smirked. “They won’t have a way off either.” He slunk around the corners and crevices, his eyes trained on the spot they had seen the sniper before. He looked to Ahsoka, “Ready?”

            She rolled her eyes and crouched down, preparing to jump. “Yeah.”

            They jumped up to the hangar finding it empty. Anakin activated his lightsaber from behind the Republic shuttle and quickly swiped at the main systems. The ship squealed in upset as the metal fell to the ground, an alarm system blared in his ears and he took a step back.

            Ahsoka quickly ran her blades over the freighter, making as much damage as she could before the owners ran out of the monastery to find what had triggered their alarms.

            Anakin hid against the back of the freighter. He peeked out from their hiding place to find a pair of assassin droids wandering down the hangar, their blasters at the ready. He tugged on his bond with Ahsoka, his way of telling her to be careful.

            The droids meandered through the hangar, walking over the parts of the ships still smoking from the heat of a lightsaber. Before it could see him, Anakin Force-grabbed the droid closest to him and with a slash, he cut it in half.

            The other droid turned, facing them and fired once before Ahsoka jumped onto it, slashing it below her.

            Anakin clicked his comlink and resumed his place behind the freighter, watching for any movement from the edge of the hangar. Rex quickly joined them and hid beside the general, covering the other side of the freighter, while Ahsoka hid behind the shuttle.

            As soon as Rex was ready, they walked past the wreckage into the main hall of the dark monastery. They activated their lightsabers for light and Rex turned on his headlamps, patrolling through the pitch black.

            “It feels so…” Ahsoka couldn’t find the words. It felt so awful, so dark that it transcended the word Sith. It felt so oppressive that she couldn’t breathe, her head felt dizzy and light. Her skin began to crawl with chills of uneasiness and she found herself slightly walking closer to her master with each step until she could feel his tunics against her arm.

            “I can feel him.” Anakin said softly. “He’s ahead of us. Waiting.”

            Ahsoka looked to her master, he looked sickly in the light from their lightsabers. He looked to Rex, who watched their side, his headlamps lighting up the old, faded murals of nature scenes. If there was anything she couldn’t stand, it was the anxiety that came before a large fight. Her heartbeat picked up, her thoughts a little racy, she was ready for anything, but there was nothing to do other than wait.

            Anakin stopped, Ahsoka almost walked into him. “We should split up.”

            “Why?” Ahsoka asked, frowning.

            “This room divides into different paths.” Anakin said softly, his voice slightly harsh in tone. The dark feeling was getting to him, it was getting to Ahsoka too. “Rex, take the left. Ahsoka, take the right.”

            Ahsoka was about to step away, but stopped. “You said that you could feel him, that he was in front of us.” She fumed. “Why are you going to take him on by yourself? We’ll do it together.” She argued.

            “You need to watch Rex’s back, Ahsoka.” Anakin said simply, continuing to walk down the same straight path.

            “Someone needs to watch yours.” She argued, motioning for Rex to follow her.

            Rex cleared his throat, “I… agree, sir.”

 

            They entered what Ahsoka thought was a sanctuary. The walls were made of sparkling colored glass panes, the overcast sky dimly lit the large empty space. At the front of the room was a small altar, a few candles lit in front of a hunched figure clad in all black.

            “You took your time,” the figure growled darkly, his words slowly escaping his lips.

            Anakin stepped forward towards him. “Who are you?” He asked simply, his voice resonating through the large room.

            Ahsoka couldn’t see the man’s face from the darkness of his hood, but she was sure that a vile smile had found its way onto his face. She watched as he took a few steps towards her master, stepping down the stairs of the altar until he was a few meters away.

            He raised a hand in their direction and Ahsoka stopped. It felt as though her blood had been replaced with ice water as she felt the Force around her turn sharply cold.

            Rex cried out from behind her and she turned in time to see him fall to ground. She stepped to him, knelt down and felt for a pulse that was there, but slow with sleep.

            “He’s okay. I think.” Ahsoka told Anakin, who slowly took a few steps towards the Sith lord as they began to circle each other.

            Ahsoka stood, activating her lightsabers. She didn’t enter their space, but watched as her master made the first move, simply lunging towards the figure. The figure counted with a twist of his long red blade, now ignited.

            Her master swiped his blade, clashing against the red blade before they exchanged quickening blows in a fit of sparks. She took the chance to jump into the battle behind their foe, swiping her blades down towards their opponent’s neck until he caught her blade with his own. With a Force push he sent Anakin back towards where Rex had collapsed while he dealt with Ahsoka.

            “Ahsoka!” Anakin called out, hoping that she would keep their enemy at bay until he could find an opening. He ran to them, jumping into the air and using the momentum to push his blade down on his opponent’s blade.

            The Sith lord pushed him back, then Ahsoka before cackling to himself. “You are weak,” He said simply. “Too weak to be considered a worthy opponent.” His saber retracted. “Your apprentice has much to learn…” He told Anakin.

            Anakin remained quiet, catching his breath from the battle they had just broken from. He stood straight, flipping his blade nonchalantly.

            “I wonder how she’ll do… against her master.” The man turned, reaching for Ahsoka with the Force.

            She could feel the coldness surround her. She felt as though she had been sent to Hoth in the span of seconds, she shivered as her feet left the ground. A surge of power infiltrated her senses, lighting her synapses on fire as she writhed to get out of this awful man’s grasp. She couldn’t find it in her to scream as her vision began to blur and her ears filled with an awful ringing noise.

            She felt it all disappear, she felt the floor beneath her. She looked to her master, a dimming blue blade before it all faded to black.

 

            Anakin charged, swiping left and right at his enemy gracelessly, just trying to get a hit. He threw himself into every strike, every sweep.

            His opponent laughed and Anakin could feel the hair his arms stand up.

            Anakin didn’t take another step. He held his blade out, waiting for the man to attack. He looked back to Ahsoka, still silent and unmoving. He hoped that she would wake. He didn’t know how he was going to carry her and Rex back through the monastery.

            “You need training.” The man said in his gravelly dark tone. “I can train you. You will be the most powerful Force user in the galaxy.”

            “I will not join you.” Anakin said through ragged breaths. He gripped his lightsaber tighter in his mechanical hand.

            The man laughed. “You will at some point. I have foreseen it.”

            Anakin frowned, “You wish.” He swept low towards his opponent’s feet, dodging underneath a swipe. Anakin kicked the man’s feet out from underneath him, sending him to the floor.

            The man turned his face away, hiding in his hood. He cackled as Anakin used the Force to grab the man’s fallen lightsaber.

            Before Anakin could step closer to the fallen man, he heard Ahsoka’s sabers activate behind him. “You okay, Snips?” He called out, not turning back from his unpredictable opponent.

            She didn’t respond, but he could hear her stepping closer.

            “Ahsoka.” He said in the same tone.

            She didn’t respond, but he could see the man better in the light from her twin sabers.

            He turned, glancing to her and immediately taking a step back. He held his lightsaber to his side, closer to his opponent who was now getting up to his feet. “What have you done to her?” Anakin asked, watching her closely as she smiled.

            “I am showing you, what she will become.” The man’s voice flattened. He turned quickly to the large windows and with a Force push, the glass shattered inward, the shards flying.

            Anakin used the Force to move most of the shards away from himself, Ahsoka, and Rex. They clattered to the ground, leaving them in a sparkling arena.

            “How dare you, how dare you hurt him.” Ahsoka’s voice was thick with tears that refused to fall down her face. “Don’t touch him!” She screamed, charging at her master, her twin blades coming down together in a movement that Anakin easily blocked.

            He pushed her back and struck her smaller blade with enough strength that she should have dropped it. She swiped again, this time for his legs, which he easily jumped over.

            “Ahsoka!” He shouted, parrying another sweep. “Ahsoka, stop!” He slid down to duck, sliding into the shards of glass which embedded into his hand and leg. He didn’t show any sign of discomfort, and quickly kicked at her legs. She jumped back, avoiding his attack with ease.

            “He’s only a kid!” She yelled, “How could you be such a monster! I’ll kill you!” She screamed, she extended her arms to her sides and twirled, hitting Anakin’s blade and flipping it into the air.

            “Ahsoka!” He yelled, quickly grabbing his blade through the Force. “Ahsoka, listen to me!”

 

            She had him cornered, defenseless. She had pressed him against a decorative pillar, her blades hovering an inch away from his throat and heart. Hatred burned in her heart, the Force had never felt so livid and bright. She could kill him; she was going to.

            The man who had caused her so much pain for the past weeks, the man that had caused her master pain, his mother and her pain. She stared at his ugly scarred face dirtied with Tatooine’s dark sand. She smiled as he raised tried to back up further, but couldn’t, his head dipped slightly and the lightsaber burned his skin.

            He growled in pain, staring at her. “Don’t do this.” His voice was dark and commanding, just like it had been when he controlled Anakin’s mother. “Please.”

            She pulled her blades back. “Did you show them mercy?” She asked, her voice cold and vacant. She kicked him, sending his face into the shards of glass. “Did you show them mercy?” She asked again, grabbing a fistful of his hair and forcing him to look at her.

            He shook in her grip, not looking at her face, he couldn’t look into her eyes. Blood dripped from a cut on his cheek, he closed his eyes. “Please.”

            She released him, a memory flickering into her mind.

            They were standing in the Jedi hangar. Anakin had just stepped off of the civilian transport, she could feel the tension in the air between her two masters, both of them furious.

            They had argued. Anakin had begun to spout off the Code as though Obi-Wan wasn’t aware that capturing slaves for Jabba violated the one they Jedi held close. Obi-Wan grabbed Anakin’s shoulders and held him tightly an arm’s length away.

            “A Jedi must not take revenge.”

            She inhaled, shuttering slightly and pulling her blade away from the man. She looked at him, her expression still dark. If a Jedi did not protect the defenseless and act out justice to those that were injust, she did not wish to be one.

            Ahsoka raised her blades and the man turned away, looking down and closing his eyes.

            In a graceful motion, she brought her longest blade down.

 

Chapter Text

Anakin didn't hear the blaster fire, but he heard Ahsoka's sabers clatter to the ground. He opened his eyes, his apprentice laying there in the scattered glass, unconscious. Her blades still ignited on the floor in-between them. He took them both, deactivating the shorter one and putting it on his other side with a sigh. He rested his head against the pillar that she had pushed him up against.

He looked over to Rex who was still laying down, but had raised himself up just enough to take the shot with a stun bolt. He gave Rex a soft, exhausted smile. "Thank you, Rex." He breathed, closing his eyes in relief.

"It's my job, General." Anakin could hear Rex shuffling in the glass to get to his feet. "Can you stand, General?"

Anakin nodded. He opened his eyes and looked up at the Captain. He took Rex's hand up and stood, his legs felt as though they had been lit on fire. He grimaced and leaned back into the pillar. "I'm okay." He reassured the clone captain as well as himself.

Rex stood and watched him for a moment, just to make sure that he wouldn't have to support his general. When Anakin waved him off again and stood slightly stronger, although still leaning, he turned to the youngling. "I can carry her, sir." Rex offered, scooping up the padawan in his arms.

"Are you sure, Rex? If she's too heavy for you… just let me know." Anakin deactivated her longer saber which he had held in his mechanical arm and switched hands. He clipped it to his belt and used the Force to find his own saber rather than leave the pillar.

"Is your hand okay, sir?" Rex asked, nodding towards the shredded glove.

Anakin looked over his hands and finally realized that Ahsoka had landed a blow—right into the casing of his hand. He huffed a slight laugh, "Yeah. It's the metal one." He tried to clench his mechanical hand into a fist and it clicked angrily at him. Her lightsaber had melted the servos. Shaking his head, he pushed himself off of the pillar and walked with the trooper.

"What happened while I was out?" Rex asked, surveying the sanctuary and the damage from their battle. Obi-Wan used to joke about how Anakin had a way of destroying tranquility, usually because he hated the quiet, he hated Obi-Wan ignoring him during mediation… this was different. The beautiful stained glass sanctuary was in shambles—candles broken, pillars cracked, glass broken and glittering all over the floor.

Anakin took in the damage as well, grateful that it was uninhabited because the Temple would kill him if they had to pay such a fee to restore it. Thinking back to the events, he looked down, his face fell, his eyes lost the sparkle of happiness. "There's another Sith lord." He closed his eyes for a second, Rex assumed it was to feel out into the Force. "He's… different than the others." Anakin seemed to slow until he stopped short before they entered the main chamber.

"Are you alright, sir?"

Anakin nodded. "Why would a Sith lord lure us to Teth?"

Rex looked to his superior, curious.

"We haven't seen any signs of Separatist activity except for an unnamed Sith lord who attacked us. He could've set up an ambush. He could've easily defeated us. Where's his army? Where are his Separatist cruisers?" Anakin leaned against the wall for support, but kept his posture straight as to not tip off Rex of any weakness.

"I don't know, sir. From what you've told me about Sith lords, they are very flamboyant aren't they? Maybe it was his way of an introduction, sir." Rex readjusted Ahsoka in his arms.

Anakin frowned. "This is too tame for a Sith lord. The first time I saw Dooku was the Battle of Geonosis. That's dramatic. This…" He let himself slide down the wall to sit on the floor. "This doesn't feel right."

Rex placed Ahsoka gently on the ground and sat down across from his general. "What do you think is really going on here?"

Anakin looked away, thinking hard about the current events that had transpired. "I don't know. None of this makes any sense." He looked up to Rex, "Why would he choose Teth? Is this a distraction to keep us away from Hosnian Prime? Is this an introduction? Is this an even larger trap?" Anakin ran his hands through his hair, quickly pulling back his flesh hand.

Rex frowned too. "I don't know, sir, but I'm sure we can figure it out on the Resolute." He clicked his comlink, pinging the signal to the ship that waited for them on the jungle floor. "We should meet them out on the hangar."

Anakin nodded. "Give me a few moments."

Rex nodded as well, taking a moment to rest before getting to his feet and picking up Ahsoka again. Finally, Anakin stood and they slowly started on their way again.

"They better give us more than a week for retreat after this," Rex told Anakin, looking down at the padawan who could simply be asleep in his arms.

Anakin huffed. "If they give us anything less than two, I'll take it up with the Order myself."

"Is she quarantined?" Anakin asked when his master wandered into his room.

Obi-Wan looked at him, suspicious. "I still don't understand why you want to quarantine your apprentice." He took the seat beside Anakin's bed. He had forced the younger man to the medical bay where the medics had removed his mechanical arm, removed what they could of the broken shards of glass, and bandaged the major cuts.

Anakin shifted, sitting up. "She tried to kill me." He told his master. "She almost did. Rex stunned her right as she was going to decapitate me."

Obi-Wan pressed Anakin back down onto the bed again, noticing that his eyes were a little wild with adrenaline and exhaustion. He could feel Anakin's anxiety through the Force, a mix of emotions directed on his apprentice and the new Sith lord he had encountered. "She's quarantined. I told them to strap her down like you said. What do you think made her…" He didn't want to finish. He couldn't imagine Ahsoka really trying to kill Anakin.

Anakin frowned, frustrated that he was repeating himself again. "I told you, the Sith lord did something to her. She started screaming at me, telling me that I hadn't shown mercy."

Obi-Wan shifted in his seat, stroking his beard with a frown on his face. "Can you remember exactly what she said to you?"

Anakin shrugged. "I was trying not to die. Did you ask Rex?"

"Rex said that he wasn't conscious for most of the fight. He was too far away to hear what he saw." Obi-Wan stroked his beard again. "Anakin, close your eyes and just breathe. Try to relax."

Anakin stiffened, "What are you going to do?" He looked up at the man, skeptical of his movements as he slowly moved closer.

"I'm going to try to get you to remember what she said." He said simply, moving in so he could look down to his protégé. "Now, just… relax."

The Force became calm again. Anakin was sure that Obi-Wan was manipulating it to get him to calm down. The old man had no idea how terrifying it had been to have his apprentice, his responsibility, his only security on the battlefield, turn her back on him. Anakin was sure that if he had ever tried to kill Obi-Wan like Ahsoka had tried to kill him, he wouldn't have lived to tell of it.

Anakin let his eyes close and his breathing even out. He felt as though he had achieved what Obi-Wan wanted him to, he was just on the edge of falling asleep.

"Anakin,"

"Mmm,"

"Think back to the battle. Tell me what did your surroundings look like? What did it feel like?" Obi-Wan's voice guided him. He wasn't sure if Obi-Wan was actually speaking to him, or just using their Force bond. He didn't mind either way.

Anakin was quiet in thought. "Big room. Had an altar at the front. He stood there. It was warm, humid. He broke the windows and all of the glass fell in. Then left."

"When did Ahsoka start acting strange?"

Anakin opened his eyes and stared at the blank, white ceiling above him. "He said he was showing me what she would become." He turned to Obi-Wan. "She kept saying things like 'You're a monster, I'll kill you… he's only a kid." Anakin trailed off, he sat up, thinking hard.

Obi-Wan was silent for a moment, looking over his apprentice. "What's this?" He traced his fingers down Anakin's jaw to a patch of darker skin.

Anakin reeled back from him in pain. "Don't." He growled, sliding off of the bed and walking to the large window.

"Anakin."

He was silent, staring at the blank void outside of the viewport with he tried to cross his arms, but remembered that they had taken his mechanical arm from him.

"Did she burn you?" Obi-Wan asked, not moving from his chair; his voice had turned slightly more serious.

Anakin turned and paced down the room. "Yeah, she did." He admitted quietly. Was he losing his touch? Or was she getting better than him? When they practiced it was rare for Ahsoka to even land a single hit. "… I think I know what I need to do."

Obi-Wan gave his apprentice a puzzled look as he crossed the room the other way, "Whatever it is, it can wait. You need to rest, Anakin." He said simply, leaning back into the chair. "Some rest would do us all some good."

Anakin shook his head. "What room is Ahsoka in?"

Obi-Wan gave Anakin a slight glare, "Did you not hear what I said?"

Anakin inhaled, "I'm going to take the memories she has of me and my mother." He explained, stopping just short of the door. He didn't turn to face Obi-Wan, he didn't want to see the old man's face. Mind tricks were easy, memory tricks were dangerous and fragile.

He heard his master get up from the chair. "You think that the Sith lord was using them against her? That he was making her see you as the man who owned you and your mother?"

Anakin didn't meet his eyes as Obi-Wan began to close the distance in between them, but he nodded. "She says the same things in her sleep."

Obi-Wan frowned, staring down at the floor. He placed his hand on Anakin's shoulder. "She's in the room next over."

"'I told them to restrain her like you said.'" Anakin mocked as they entered the room. He stood at Ahsoka's bedside, leaving Obi-Wan to take the chair beside him.

"She's still unconscious." Obi-wan noted, looking over Ahsoka with a slight frown of worry. "Have you ever done this before?"

Anakin's voice was much quieter. "Yes." He closed his eyes and placed a hand on Ahsoka's forehead as though he was feeling her temperature. His breathing slowed to match hers and Obi-Wan felt the Force change around them.

The room felt warmer, slightly cozy. He could feel that Anakin was doing as much as he could to keep Ahsoka calm, to keep her comfortable, so that she wouldn't wake while he tampered with her mind. Obi-Wan watched closely, doing the same so that Anakin could concentrate more on what he was doing rather than how it felt.

Obi-Wan watched them carefully. He could feel the Force humming between them like an electrical current. Anakin stood over her, his eyes closed in focus, Ahsoka lay there, motionless and calm. He wondered if she was cooperating, if she could do anything to cooperate. He wondered if there would be any lasting effects, if Anakin really knew what he was doing. He couldn't help but ponder on where Anakin could have picked up such a trait… had he found it through meditation? Was it connected to Mortis? Who had he used it on before?

After a few moments, Anakin pulled his hand back, nearly falling into Ahsoka with a gasp. He staggered back from his apprentice, his steps unstable. Obi-Wan stood quickly, grabbing him before he could fall and sat him down on the floor.

"Are you okay?" Obi-Wan asked, sitting down beside him. He had never seen Anakin look so exhausted, so run down.

Anakin ran his hand through his messy hair and gave Obi-Wan a shaky nod. He stared at the floor, taking the time to breathe. He had felt so much pain, all at once, so much heartache. His head was still spinning, still trying to comprehend what he had done to himself, what he had done to his apprentice.

Obi-Wan could feel his anxiety, his fear, rolling off of him. It was almost tangible. "Do you want to go to your room and lay down?" Obi-Wan let his hand trail down Anakin's back. The energy that Anakin had put into the Force had disappeared, leaving the room much cooler and uneasy.

Anakin shook his head, he looked up at Ahsoka who stirred slightly, turning onto her side. "I think I want to go up to my quarters."

"You aren't medically cleared."

"I'm not going to disappear. Don't worry." Anakin took a moment to breathe, then got to his feet with only some slight trouble. His eyes were locked on his apprentice, he watched her inhale and exhale, shifting slightly in sleep. "Let me know when she wakes up."

Obi-Wan nodded. He leaned back and watched Anakin disappear out of the room and down the hall. With a sigh, he prayed to the Force that things would only get better from here.


 

Padme was expecting Bail to call again. They had nearly spent the night together attempting to draft new policies, but it had really turned into casual conversation and drinks. She had been beyond grateful for Bail's visit—it had put her at ease for a few hours and after he left the alcohol had done the rest. She received word in the early morning as she finished her speech that the actions on Teth had been successful, that they had found another Sith lord. Padme thanked the gods that Anakin and Ahsoka were safe, but she took to pacing the rest of her day away. She was too nervous, too concerned to attend a senate session not to mention introduce new legislation.

When her comm station chimed with an incoming transmission, she hesitated to answer it. If it was a fellow senator asking about her whereabouts, what would she tell them? She plastered on her politician face—a fake smile, a façade of calmness and happiness with only slight exhaustion.

Her husband looked back at her, his face lacked its usual smile. Something was wrong… truly, deeply wrong. She had seen what sleep deprivation did to Anakin Skywalker, she had seen the effects of foreign fevers, indecisive battles, a variety of injuries, and she had never seen him look so withdrawn.

"Ani, what's wrong?" She blurted, her heart began to race. Her first instinct was to pace. Should she pace? Would that help or would that make him anxious? What could she do?

"I… I took some of Ahsoka's memories away." He said softly, turning away from the holo-projector as though he was ashamed.

Padme took a step back, he could sense the shock and the confusion from thousands of parsecs away. "Why?"

Anakin was quiet. "She had visions of my mother. Visions of slavery… and they were ruining her life. When we met the Sith he used those visions against her in battle, he turned her on us." His voice just above a whisper. He could remember the hatred that he had seen in her face, the bloodlust in her glassy eyes.

Padme was silent. Anakin hadn't done this because he wanted to, it was for Ahsoka's safety. For his own safety, she noted, noticing the small bandages on his face that the blue from the hologram had hidden so well. Ahsoka was learning; the fact that she had managed to strike her master was a sign of her improvement. Padme relaxed, taking a step forward to where she had stood before. "Anakin," She said softly, her voice was enough to let his shoulders relax.

"Padme," He looked up at the holo-projector, she could see the exhaustion in his eyes.

She smiled a little, "You need to rest."

He looked away with a slight shake of his head. "I don't know if I did the right thing."

Padme was silent for a few moments and Anakin thought she was going to talk to him in her political tone. "Ani, you did. You did the right thing. If these visions were harming Ahsoka and she couldn't let go of them… you did the right thing. Even if you did the wrong thing, I'd still love you." She watched him relaxed a little more, giving her a small smile. "Get some rest." Her voice slightly more stern.

His smile grew a little more. "Okay."

"I mean it, General Skywalker." She smiled too, but the seriousness was still there.

"I love you." He told her.

"I love you more." She said before her image disappeared.


 

Ahsoka was asleep again when Anakin arrived. Obi-Wan had sent him a quick signal to alert him and he had rushed down from the middle of a meeting on the bridge. He sat down on the chair that Obi-Wan had probably requested for him.

"You look a little better." Obi-Wan commented, not turning his glance away from the young Togruta.

Anakin huffed, "I showered. I should look great." He leaned back and was about to cross his arms over his chest when he realized the absence of his mechno.

Obi-Wan smirked at the younger man's discomfort. "They're ordering a new one. They'll have it on Coruscant." He turned slightly to Anakin, "It'll give you something to do when you're on leave."

Anakin didn't look too pleased. Obi-Wan was sure that it was because he was going to have to put in so much more time customizing this arm, most likely a new model.

"You've grown a lot since then, it was probably time to get a new one anyway." Obi-Wan commented, hoping to at the very least put a smile on Anakin's face, if not add a slight repair to his ego. It wasn't a simple thing to be bested, even in the slightest, by a student. It meant that it was getting nearer and nearer to the end of their run as master and padawan.

"Did she seem okay when she woke up?" Anakin asked.

Obi-Wan nodded. "She asked where you were, if you were okay. I told her that you were above somewhere and that you were resting. I sent you that message and she fell asleep just a minute or two before you walked in."

Anakin gave a slight nod of approval and attempted to cross his arms again. "Do you think if I asked they'd let me have my old arm? Just… for a while."

Obi-Wan chuckled. "You can ask."

Anakin stood and walked over just to poke his head out the door at whoever was nearby. Obi-Wan could hear his voice, but not his words. He walked back, slightly aggravated, and sat down in the chair.

"They got rid of it?"

Anakin nodded.

"Got rid of what?" Ahsoka asked from under the covers. She rubbed at her eyes and sat up, only for Anakin and Obi-Wan to stand and push her back down on the bed.

"Anakin's arm." Obi-Wan said nonchalantly.

Ahsoka's eyes widened with fear and she opened her mouth to say something before suddenly remembering her master's hidden handicap. "What happened?" She asked, her voice much calmer than either of them had expected it to be.

"Ventress." Anakin said simply.

Ahsoka nodded with a frown as she tried to remember the fight.

"She led us into a trap. In the sanctuary. There was a… new Sith lord." Anakin struggled slightly to piece together the story. He didn't want to put in any sort of clue that would hint at his lies. "He put you and Rex under with a mind trick."

She frowned a little deeper, looking away from him in disappointment.

"Snips," He moved in a little closer, sitting on the edge of the bed so that he could be next to her. "Snips." He repeated.

Ahsoka looked up at him with the hint tears in her eyes and a frown that deepened the longer she looked at him. Her lip quivered slightly and she looked away, "I'm sorry." She said, letting the tears fall down her face.

Anakin shushed her, wiping away her tears. "It's okay. It's not your fault. You did good, Ahsoka." He reassured.

Obi-Wan stood, placing a hand on Ahsoka's leg that hid under the sheets.

"I feel like I failed." Her frown still there, but the tears had stopped. "I thought I was better than this."

Anakin stood, "You did great." He reassured, "I mean it." He looked at her, truly looked at her. She had grown so much in such a short amount of time. "I'm proud of you." The words seemed slightly foreign. He hadn't made it a common compliment; she could probably count on her fingers how often he had admitted it.

He saw the smile suddenly appear on her face and in her eyes.

"I mean it, Snips." He gave her a slight smile and tugged on their training bond. "Com me if you need me, get some rest." He let his hand stroke her side gently before pulling the blankets back over her shoulders. It was obvious to Obi-Wan that he was distancing himself from her after what had happened.

Obi-Wan couldn't blame his apprentice for being distant, but he had a feeling that he would have to remind Anakin that Ahsoka was unaware of why he was showing so much disinterest. He stood from his chair and gave Ahsoka a kind smile before he gave her a quick goodbye, "Relax. We'll wait for you before we do anything too interesting."

Obi-Wan started before Anakin, almost leading him out of the room like the old days. They both ventured up to the bridge thinking that things would be just fine.

Operations continued as normal, or as close to normal as they could get. Anakin spent the majority of his time in meetings with the Council debriefing them on every single ounce of a detail on the new Sith lord that had appeared on Teth. He had been forced to hand Ahsoka over to Obi-Wan, not by his own choice, but by the Council's because despite the appearance of a new threat, her training had to be completed.

Anakin only got to see Ahsoka when he returned to their shared quarters for bed. He returned long after she had eaten dinner and found her curled up on the couch watching a holodrama.

"What's new, Skyguy?" She asked without looking away from the program.

He sighed. "They think I know everything about this guy. They think I know his height, his weight, his species. I know nothing." He walked around the back of the couch and threw himself down in the chair beside her.

"Did you tell them about how you're thinking about leaving the Order?" She asked, her face suddenly turning serious and stony.

Anakin was quiet, staring at the holodrama, but not really paying attention to it or listening. He took a few seconds to collect himself before answering her honestly. "No."

She huffed.

"Look, Snips. Things are a little tense right now with the Council." He ran his hand through his hair and leaned back into the chair. "The last thing they need right now is for me to even mention thoughts of backing out. When things cool down." He said with a slight sigh.

Ahsoka nodded, biting her lip to hide her emotions. "I don't know if that makes it better or worse." She admitted.

Anakin shrugged. "It is what it is, Snips."

"So you're set on leaving then?"

Anakin shook his head. "I haven't decided anything." He leaned his head against the back of the chair. "I'll let you know when I do."

Ahsoka turned away from her program to give him a light glare. "You'll let me know? Oh, so you'll just… let me know if you're going to drop me or not? You'll let me know where my future is headed?"

He picked his head up off of the cushion. "I'm not dropping you. I'm dropping the Order." He said strictly. "If anything this is better for you." He said, wishing he could cross his arms again.

"How? How is losing my master better for me?" Her voice slightly raising into a yell. "You're being ridiculous!"

Anakin stood, "Don't raise your voice with me." He said in a stately tone.

Ahsoka stood too, facing him. "Then don't leave! Don't destroy my life!" She could feel his anger now, building in the air between them. She was pushing him.

"I'm not doing anything to you. I don't want to die in this war. I'm tired of being told that I fight for peace. I'm tired of being given orders. I'm even more tired of being scolded for not following those orders because they come from people who don't see the front lines." He explained. "Men are dying for no reason. I will die for no reason."

Ahsoka stared at him, tears beginning to form in the corners of her eyes. "You can't leave me." She said, her voice thick with the sadness that always came before tears. "I don't want anyone else to teach me. I don't want Master Plo. I don't want Obi-Wan." She rubbed at her eyes before the tears could truly fall down her face. "You said when we were on Christophosis that I would never survive as Obi-Wan's padawan. You're right." She said with a light sob, sitting back down on the couch.

Anakin remained standing. "It'll be easier. He's a good master." He said simply before walking to the door and leaving her to her tears and holodrama.


 

"Ani,"

"I know, I know." He waved off her concern with his one hand. He stood slightly taller and stronger than he had the last time he had commed her. She could tell that part of it was a façade to hide from what he was about to tell her. "I've made a decision."

"Yes?"

"I'm leaving the Order."

Padme was quiet. She didn't know what to say. She was so used to thinking of their romance as forbidden and elusive, it was part of its charm, but she also couldn't help thinking of how much easier it would be now to kiss him, for them to have children. She stared at the blinking lights of the console in wonder—was she happy? Was she upset?

He was abandoning part of himself, his destiny, for her and for himself. Was that selfish?

She didn't care.

"Ani." She breathed, looking up at him. She had terrified him by not responding, by not saying anything or giving any sort of emotional response. He watched her cautiously, his face full of nothing but concern. "Are you sure?"

He nodded. "I don't want to die on the battle field. I don't want my life and death to mean nothing." He shrugged slightly, uncomfortable.

She smiled, not too bright, but a smile of relief and joy. "Ani, I'm so happy for you, I'm happy. I'm just… I can't believe that you're going to do this." She smiled wider, hiding her face in her hands. "What are the gossipmongers going to say?" She muffled through her hands.

Anakin laughed. "It'll be great."

She pulled her hands away, a smile still on her face. "I have to go to a Senate meeting about the new Sith lord and discuss war funding knowing this information." She said with a light laugh.

"I'm sorry."

She shook her head. "No, it's good. I'll just have to keep my mouth shut."

Anakin laughed again. "Are you capable of doing that? Of keeping a secret, I mean?" He leaned in slightly, waiting for her answer.

Padme faked offense. "I'll have you know that I once kept a secret for two years." She said, crossing her arms tightly over her chest.

"Oh?"

Her glance slightly hardened. "Yeah. Our marriage." She smiled wide.

"Is it not going to be a secret anymore?" He asked with a grin.

She looked away from the holoprojector. "Well... we'll see." She glanced at him and her smile widened even more. "I love you."

He smiled too. "I love you more."

"I love you the most."

Anakin sat on his bed, his legs folded up as though he had just been meditating, but he didn't know if what he had been doing for the past hour or so really counted as meditation. He had locked himself away in the silence of his quarters with nothing but his thoughts.

Leaving the Council…

He didn't want to abandon Ahsoka. He didn't want to abandon Obi-Wan, or Rex, or Cody, or the war effort. The last thing he wanted was to go from a high ranking military general to a civilian, where his only connection to the war was through whatever the HoloNet published. He didn't want the action, the near death experiences, the diplomacy and myriad of other political affairs… but he thrived on it.

He didn't want to die on the field. But the rush that came from the frontlines was something he needed. He was connected to his men, his apprentice, his master. It was as though they were a slight extension of himself, he could feel what they felt, he knew where they were and he was attuned to their every move in the field. They were on the same wavelength.

The last thing Anakin wanted was to lose that.

At the same time, the second last thing he wanted was to end up dead. He imagined what life on Coruscant would be with Padme if he really chose to leave the Order.

Her silk sheets every night, her smiling, angelic face. He could kiss her, hold her, all the time. No more waiting three months just to hear her voice, he would hear her voice every morning before she left for the Senate and every night when she returned. They could make their marriage public. They could start a family.

He could always check in on his comrades… right?

Anakin unfolded his legs and let himself drop back on his bed. He laid there, staring up at the ceiling of the Jedi Temple thinking about the many cons there were to his decision.

He didn't want to lose anyone. He didn't want any of them to die because he wasn't there to watch their backs, because he had abandoned them and their cause. He didn't want the disconnect between the civilians and those on the frontlines, he didn't want to be removed from any critical information about the Republic and the war.

Anakin was well aware of the disconnect in communication between the military and civilians. Even Padme, a significant figure in the Republic senate, was kept in the dark, hell, even being part of the Order, he had been kept in the dark. He wasn't sure if he could go on living in the Republic not knowing what was truly going on, just like how the Council had concealed Obi-Wan from him when they were in pursuit of Cad Bane. A life where his friends could be dead or missing without him even knowing was not a life he wanted to live.

He had told Padme that he was sure he was going to leave the Order.

In a way, he was sure. He wanted to leave behind the secrecy, the hidden politics behind the Jedi dogma. He didn't want to be the Chosen One, he wanted to leave behind the destiny that they had created for him. He wouldn't miss the Council Chambers, the negative looks, the mentions of prophecy.

Ideally, if there was such a position, he would choose to be a general. Not a Jedi general, but a general—he would make critical decisions, he would be a fundamental force in the war, but have the ability to pull in and out of the action as he chose.

A knock on his door brought him out of his thoughts of the immediate future and back to reality. He was still on the Resolute, his padawan was still angry, his master was oblivious, and he was still missing his artificial limb.

"Come in," He said, not moving from his position. He didn't turn to see who entered, he knew who it was without any sort of exchange between them.

"Anakin, we need to talk."

He knew that this was coming. He had felt this confrontation coming since before they had embarked on Teth, before he had caused an incident with the Hutts.

He felt his master sit down on his bed. "What's going on between you and Ahsoka?"

Anakin closed his eyes, exhaling before awkwardly sitting up. "A lot, master." He said simply, looking to the worried Jedi master.

Obi-Wan's eyebrows pulled together in slight confusion, but he didn't say anything because he expected Anakin to continue like he always did.

"I… I told her that I'm thinking about leaving the Order." He looked away from his master, staring at a spot on the bed where the blankets had rumpled slightly.

Obi-Wan was quiet but Anakin could feel his response in the Force—mostly shock, but Anakin could pick up on the undercurrents of sadness that the man tried so hard to conceal. "Is this because of the…" He couldn't continue, but he knew that Anakin was well aware of what he was talking about.

Anakin shrugged. "In part, yes." He took a quick glance of Obi-Wan, the sad expression on his face. "I can't fight for a cause that protects… protects slavery more than its own soldiers."

Obi-Wan straightened. "It's not that the Council protects slavery, or wants it to continue. The decision was out of our hands, Anakin. The Chancellor made the decision, the Jedi were forced to comply."

"Forced?" Anakin scoffed lightly, he didn't want to elevate their conversation into an argument. His argument with Ahsoka was enough, he didn't need to start with Obi-Wan as well. "It was a decision to follow orders. Following orders is always a decision. The Jedi are sovereign, exempt from the power of the Chancellor."

"That may be true, but the Council can't fight a war against slavery and a war against the Separatist at the same time. One thing at a time, Anakin." Obi-Wan said, turning away from his student. It had been a lesson that he had repeated since their beginnings of a team, one that he continued to repeat towards their end.

Anakin shook his head. "No, no, not one thing at a time. If things are taken one at a time, where will slavery fall on the list of things that need to be done?" He asked, raising his voice only slightly. "We're told to protect those who can't protect themselves, the weak, the defenseless, those who need justice."

Obi-Wan was quiet for a moment. Anakin wasn't sure if it was because he was collecting his thoughts or giving Anakin time to settle before they continued. It was as though Obi-Wan knew that Anakin wasn't angry at him, but rather those who he associated himself with. He knew where Anakin's anger was placed and that even Anakin didn't want it to continue. His apprentice was tired of fighting.

"Anakin," Obi-Wan said softly, he looked to his apprentice. "I agree with you, I agree that the Council was wrong to obey the Chancellor's direction, but leaving the Jedi Order is not the right course of action."

His apprentice did something that he hadn't done in a long time, a time before the war. He didn't counter Obi-Wan's words, or try to find fault in them. He didn't explain his own opinion or complain about how his master always disagreed with him. He asked, "Why?"

Obi-Wan was slightly taken off-guard by the question. He didn't turn away from Anakin, he looked at the young man and the inner battle that he was surely fighting. "The way the war is… if you leave, the Republic could lose the war." He admitted. "Anakin, I hate saying this, I hate it when the Council says it, but you guarantee results. The Council, the Chancellor, the Senate, they all turn to you and Ahsoka when a seemingly impossible mission arises."

Anakin was quiet and quickly looked down at the space in-between them. He knew what the Council thought of him, he knew that the higher- ups saw him as nothing more than a tool, a commodity. He had been aware of the fact when Qui-Gon died and the Council had decided to take him in because he was believed to be the Chosen One.

"Anakin, I know how you feel." Obi-Wan said softly. "I know that you feel like your life is expendable, that if you die in duty, it's just a… a means of completing the task. They've changed us into thinking that our deaths are a means to an end." He sighed, "They're wrong, and I swear to you, after the war, things will improve."

Anakin shook his head, "No." He looked up at his master, blinking away tears that threatened to fall from his eyes. "You don't know how it feels. My whole life, I've been treated like a mistake. I've been raised through the Order to see myself as the Chosen One, the savior of the Jedi, the one who restores the Force to balance and brings peace to the galaxy. I'm not a person, I'm not a Jedi. If I die tomorrow in battle, I'll no longer be the Order's Chosen One, the Son of Suns. I'll be Anakin Skywalker and my death won't be important. I'll be forgotten." His breathing shook as he exhaled, "They'll find another Chosen One." He said softly.

Obi-Wan's expression had softened, he had turned away from his apprentice and his shoulders slumped slightly. "I'm sorry, Anakin."

He felt his apprentice shift around on the bed, then he felt his arm wrap around him. He felt Anakin nuzzle his face into the back of his shoulder with a broken sigh.

"I love you." Anakin mumbled, just clear enough for Obi-Wan to understand.

Obi-Wan's vision clouded with tears and he felt a tear escape and fall down his face. "I love you too." He shifted slightly and embraced his student for what he felt was one of the last times.

Chapter Text

There was no doubt in Anakin's mind that Ahsoka wasn't going to attend his final session with the Council. He had broken the news to her on his final decision and she had left with her basic necessities stuffed into a bag, leaving him to their shared quarters for his last moments in the Jedi Temple. He would've chased her to the Gardens, but the developments in the Inner Rim knocked out communications with Master Yoda and as a result the usual organized scheduled meetings was becoming a chaotic mess of first come, first serve.

He sat on the couch outside of the Chambers fidgeting with his new hand, feeling the reflexes of his new fingers and tightening his fingers into a fist before lessening his grasp gradually, watching and feeling the difference. He was becoming used to the added weight. He had sparred with Obi-Wan for a few moments in an effort to work out his anxieties and immediately he had felt a difference.

The added weight was such an advantage when he brought down his blade in a strike, but his parrying became slower with each swing. Obi-Wan had tried to use it to his advantage by quickening the pace of their practice. Once they had decided to take a break, both of them exhausted and breathing raggedly, Obi-Wan wandered off and returned with tape.

"Stay in the section." He said with a smile as he placed tape on the mat floor, making two parallel lines about a foot and a half apart. "Just like when you were a padawan."

"I don't need balance training." Anakin had defended, staring at the lines with a sort of contempt.

They tried it anyway. After a while they had both given up, too tired and Obi-Wan's self-proclaimed excuse of being "too old for this". Of course, just like so many other sparring matches, Obi-Wan left for the Council and left his soon to be "lost" padawan to the training room.

And there he sat. Anakin had always hated the feeling of suspense as he waited for the Council. He couldn't help but wonder their reactions, how they'd have to inform Master Yoda whenever they reestablished communications. He was leaving them in the middle of a war, in the middle of a supposed prophecy.

"Are you ready for this?"

He looked up from his hand to the girl that stood in front of him. Ahsoka. She wasn't happy, he could still sense her anger boiling deep down in her Force signature, but he didn't dare bring it to the surface. She sat down beside him, still waiting for an answer.

He shrugged. "I don't know what I'm going to say." He admitted, looking back at his hands.

Ahsoka was quiet and he could feel her trying so very hard to keep her emotions at bay. "I don't want you to leave." She said plainly, attempting to remove the emotion from her tone. "I… I'm happy that we had this time, that I had you as my master." She said with a small sigh.

He turned to her with a small smile. "Thanks, Snips. It was the best experience of my life." His smile widened a little. "You're going to be a great Jedi. I've never been so proud of someone." He bit the inside of his cheek. Now was not the time to cry. He was going to walk into the Council Chambers and he'd be damned to show up with tears on his face.

She smiled a little, "You mean it?" Looking at him with her deep blue eyes almost filled with tears.

He nodded, leaning back slightly into the cushions of the couch. "I promise; I won't be out of contact." He said softly.

She swallowed, the tears falling over the edges, she quickly wiped them away and she nodded a little before she threw her arms around him. "I'm going to miss you so much." She muttered into his hair.

He put his arms around her in return. "I'm going to miss you too." He concentrated on his breathing, not the awful heartbreak he felt in his chest, not the sadness that began to seep into his mind. He couldn't cry, he couldn't, he couldn't show up to his Council meeting looking like an emotional mess. He had made that mistake too many times.

She pulled away and wiped away her tears.

"Master Skywalker." One of the Temple guards announced.

Anakin stood quickly, casting one last look at his padawan before walking up the few steps and entering the Chamber.

"Masters," He greeted, standing in the center of the circle. He gave a slight bow to those present in person and in holograms, turning mostly to face Master Windu as Master Yoda's place remained empty.

"Master Skywalker, I was told that you had an urgent issue to bring to the Council." Master Windu said simply. He remained relaxed, leaning back in his chair as he judged the younger man standing in front of him. He had never taken Anakin or his grievances seriously, he was probably expecting a simple issue of asking for more war funding, or possibly adding another detail related to his encounter with the new Sith lord.

"Yes, masters." Anakin said simply, he took a deep breath and exhaled. He wanted to close his eyes, he didn't want to look at them when he said it. He wanted to focus on his words, not their judgmental glances. "I want to leave the Order." He said, looking slightly to the ground.

There was a silence in the room. Anakin felt the initial upset in the Force before it became disapproving and inquisitive. The feeling was almost on a dizzying scale. The Masters glanced at each other and whispered amongst each other, he could feel a slight focus on Obi-Wan as he his reaction in the Force had been controlled, almost fake.

Anakin counted his breaths and the time in between them. His continued to look to the ground, to look at the scuffs on Mace's boots until he felt the Council grow quiet both in the Force and in sound.

He met Mace's erratic eyes, his expression shocked and offended as though this decision affected him personally. "You wish to leave the Order?" Mace Windu repeated. Anakin could feel him struggling to reign in his anger, to hold up his mental shields. "In the middle of a war?"

Anakin was silent. It was almost as though the mere look of the man's eyes petrified him. He had made Windu angry before, but this, this was so much different. He felt as though the rest of the room just faded away and it was him and Mace, one on one, and Anakin had just delivered an atrocious insult.

He was brought back to the present when he felt Obi-Wan prod him through their Force bond, but Anakin remained frozen. His mind had gone into overload.

"If this is one of your pranks, Master Skywalker, the Council-,"

"This isn't a prank." Anakin stated when he found his ability to speak again. His head slightly swam, his senses tingling as he felt the eyes of all of those around him. He could hear his heart beating in his ears, he could feel the anxiety rising in his chest threatening to escape. "I," He paused, closing his eyes to better focus on his thoughts for a moment before opening them again. "I can't support this war, or the Order." He turned around slightly, looking at the other masters that had watched him grown from just a kid.

He could feel their judgement, their questions. It was all so much, so overbearing. He continued to count his breaths as he continued. "The Jedi Council is sovereign from the Chancellor and is sovereign from Hutt Space. Why should an Order that upholds justice and defending the defenseless protect the Hutts and their shipments of slaves?" Anakin tried to control his anger and his tone.

"The Republic is at war, Skywalker." Master Windu said definitively. "The Jedi are acting as a military force for the Chancellor, so yes, in fact, we do follow his orders."

Anakin took a step back. "I don't want to follow orders that violate the Code." He paused for a moment. "I don't want my padawan to be used in operations that violate the Code and violate the things I stand for."

He felt his masters fluctuate in the Force. When had he ever cared about the Code? They had seen him enter the room so many times to be reprimanded for breaking every aspect of the Code regardless of his teachings from Obi-Wan, regardless of his age. They had seen him pass on the same traits to Ahsoka—they blamed him for her recklessness, her independence, her attitude.

"Skywalker."

He met Mace's eyes again. "Master."

"Is there anything you would like to add before we take a recess?" His tone cold as he tried to contain his anger.

Anakin took another step back. "I would like for Ahsoka, my padawan, to be transferred to Obi-Wan." He said simply before giving them a slight bow of respect and turning to leave.

Ahsoka stood when he walked out from the Chambers, her hands clutched near her chest, then quickly dropping to her side. "How did it go?" She asked as he started to wander past her down the hall.

"They aren't going to let me leave." He said simply, his tone bitter, but steady unlike his Force signature that rose and fell with his breathing like the embers of a fire ready to roar back to life. "They made me feel so inadequate and small, like I was a youngling being judged."

Ahsoka fell into step beside him. "They already made a decision?"

Anakin huffed. "Not officially. They put it to a recess, but it was obviously just for show." He could feel his anxiety slowly melting away into anger, his hands still continuing to shake.

Ahsoka grabbed his sleeve and stopped him in his place. She took his flesh hand in her own and felt the differences, her skin so smooth, his rough with callouses. "We should go and visit Padme." She said softly. "It'll help you keep a cool head."

Anakin frowned slightly, "She's probably at work, Ahsoka." He watched as she continued to hold his hand in her own and figured that he wouldn't lecture her about attachment one last time. "I don't know how much longer I have until they decide to summon me." A subtle way of saying 'Let's stay in the Temple this time.'

"Let's go hang out in the Gardens." She decided, pulling him towards the vast room as though he was the reluctant padawan.

"I'm not exactly in the mood for meditating."

"Me? Meditate? I just want to talk."

Anakin relaxed. He didn't want to reignite the memories that he had taken from Ahsoka, his memories. He let her pull him into the room and back into her favorite patch of flowers.

Ahsoka sat down in the greenery and took a deep breath, trying not to think of Barriss and what she was doing, how she was doing. This spot had always held special meaning to them. She watched as her master stretched out, laying on his side and fidgeting with a blade of grass. "So, what are you going to do?" She asked.

He looked up from his blade of grass, his mind already much calmer just by entering the room. "I don't know." He said simply, turning back to his blade of grass. "I just know this isn't for me."

Ahsoka plucked two flowers from the ground and began to knot them together. "If you had to guess what you're going to do after the Order, what would you guess?"

Anakin thought about it. He hadn't really talked to Padme about their future other than the obvious—wanting a family, wanting them all to be safe. "I want to continue to fight." Anakin decided. "Padme is obviously going to continue her job in politics, and I think I want to continue to fight for what's right."

"You're going to become a freedom fighter?" Ahsoka could see it. She could see him continuing to fight for the Republic without his title as a Jedi, without the power that came from his position.

Anakin shrugged. "Probably. I don't want to sit around and do nothing. Padme and I want this galaxy to be the best for our children and that won't happen if I give up protecting the Republic."

Ahsoka plucked another flower and tied it onto her lengthening chain of flora. "How many kids do you and Padme want?" She asked, a slight blush of embarrassment crawling onto both of their faces.

Anakin was silent and shot her a nervous glance before stammering, "I, I don't know. We haven't really talked about it." He looked back to the ground and continued to feel the grass with his new hand.

"Where will you raise them? Here on Coruscant? On Naboo?" She asked while her fingers knotted the chain into a circle. She leaned over and placed the halo of flowers on his head with a small smile.

Anakin shrugged. "Whatever Padme decides." Just to humor her, he didn't remove the crown of flowers, he thought about attempting to make one for her in return, but she had already started on a second one and he figured his fingers couldn't be so nimble and delicate.

Ahsoka nodded. "So you don't really have any plans." She said with a small smile. "Just like always."

Anakin laughed, "Yeah. I guess so."

She shook her head, her smile spreading wider. She finished her second flower crown and placed it on her own head. "If I was leaving the Order, I'd want to help the war effort too, become a freedom fighter."

"We could fight the Separatists together." He smirked. "Always a team."

Her smile fell into a frown. She couldn't leave the Order, not with him. It was her duty to continue on the path that had been decided for her before she was old enough to make her own decisions. She loved being a Jedi, she loved the Temple… but she also loved her master. She bit her lip and tried to push away the thoughts of abandoning the war. She wasn't Anakin Skywalker, she couldn't get away with it as easily as he could.

His comlink twittered and he sat up. "I have to go." He scrambled to his feet and she followed. "I guess their recess is over."

Ahsoka couldn't find any words, couldn't find a way to arrange them even if she had them. She followed him out of the Gardens and back towards the Chambers. She tried to prepare herself to watch him walk out of the room and out of her life forever.

"Anakin!" She almost shouted as he started towards the steps.

He turned, wide eyed, afraid that he had forgotten something important.

"Flowers!" She pointed to her head and he walked back, taking the flowers out of his hair and handing them over to her with a small smile.

"Thanks, Snips." And with that he disappeared back into the Chambers and to the circle of Jedi Masters with solemn expressions.

"Skywalker." Mace said simply, not a greeting, but more of a way of just breaking the heavy silence in the room. "The Council has decided to give you an alternative choice to leaving the Order."

Anakin felt his heart pick up pace, pounding in his ears again. He anxiously waited for Master Windu to continue.

"We have decided that you can leave the Order, or continue serving the Order, but doing so under the rank as Master." His tone remained stable, but Anakin could feel his Force signature fluctuate when he said 'Master'. He didn't believe that Anakin deserved such a title, none of them did.

"I still wish to leave the Order." Anakin said, his voice a little stronger than it was during their first meeting. "I don't believe I deserve the rank of Master."

The anxiety in the Force seemed to dissipate into something else that still flooded Anakin's senses.

Mace nodded. "Anakin Skywalker," He declared, "From henceforth you are revoked of your title Jedi Knight and your military title of General."

The words hit Anakin almost like a brick. He gave a quick bow, turned, and left. He couldn't believe it. He couldn't believe what he had just done. He had never felt so… conflicted. He took a moment and stood at the foot of the steps to the Council Chambers, collecting his breath and trying to reign in his thoughts and emotions.

"That was quick. What happened?" Ahsoka asked, his flower crown still in her hands.

He gave her a small nod and watched as the flower crown slipped through her fingers onto the floor.

"They, they let you go?" She asked, her voice small and almost a whisper as though she had never thought this would really happen. As though it was all so unreal and so drastic that it could never be part of reality.

She took a step back and shook her head, tears falling down her face as her breathing hitched with sobs. "No." She managed to say before she turned and bolted down the hall.

Anakin watched her disappear and figured it best not to chase after her.

The first thing he did was wait for the Council to be adjourned so that he could say his goodbyes to Obi-Wan. He waited outside of Obi-Wan's quarters impatiently, leaning against the wall and tapping his boot against the floor.

"I thought you would've left by now." Obi-Wan said as he walked towards him.

"I wanted to say goodbye first." Anakin said with a small smile.

Obi-Wan jogged to him and pulled him into a hug, squeezing Anakin with all his might. "I wish you the best." He said simply, trying to keep his emotions at bay.

Anakin wasn't so strong. He tried to fight his tears, but they only fell quicker. "I'm going to miss you." He didn't want to break their embrace; he didn't want his master to see him cry like a youngling. "I swear to you; I'll keep in touch."

Obi-Wan relaxed slightly at the thought of Anakin not being completely lost to him. "I love you, Anakin." He pulled away and smiled gently, a stray tear or two falling from his face as well and Anakin pretended not to see it.

"I love you too, Obi-Wan. May the Force be with you."

Obi-Wan patted his shoulder one last time, not finding it in him to return the familiar Jedi phrase, and watched Anakin walk down the corridor towards the main hall. He wandered into his room and cried for what felt like the first time in a long time.

"Master!"

He turned before taking another step and watched as Ahsoka quickly cleared the distance in between them. She stopped just short of him and took a few deep breaths before she found the air to speak.

"I have something for you. So you won't forget me." She said simply.

He was slightly dumbfounded. He had never imagined her to face him like this, to actually confront him and say goodbye. He knew that Obi-Wan would want a firm goodbye, but his apprentice was much more solitary. Anakin and Obi-Wan were a pair, a team, two parts of one warrior. Anakin and Ahsoka were separate- they were a lethal combination, but too alike, too similar to create a perfect balance.

"Snips, I-,"

She held up a hand to quiet him and then reached back behind her head and yanked on her strand of silka beads, breaking the clasp neatly so that she could replace them without having the strand fall apart. She handed it to him.

He stared at it in his hand, unsure of what to say or do. "I, I don't know what to say, Ahsoka." He breathed.

"You don't have to say anything, Skyguy." She smiled through her tears.

He grabbed her and pulled her into a hug. "I'll talk to you soon." He promised.

He felt her spirits rise slightly in the Force. She gave a small nod, but didn't pull back from him. She wanted to memorize how he felt, how he smelled, what he looked like. She wanted to remember him just like this for the rest of her days.

He broke apart and looked at her. "I'm going to miss you, Snips."

"I'll miss you more, Master." She told him before he started to walk down the steps into the bustling metropolis of Coruscant.