The pain flared in Ahsoka's shoulder, and she felt her concentration slip just that little bit, making Steela's survival flash into near-oblivion. She staggered, but she was already locked into the thrall of the Force and used it to anchor herself and reach harder for Steela. If there was one thing Anakin had not had to teach Ahsoka at all, it was how to be stubborn past the point of pain. Steela jerked slightly, and then Ahsoka had her solidly wrapped in the Force, and was pulling her to safety. She heard Lux dealing with the gunship, leaving her free to drop to her knees as Steela was safely on solid ground once more.
She wasn't certain if that had been Steela or Lux, as the voice faded away into a distant tunnel and darkness took away all sight.
Ahsoka woke in a bed, bandages constricting her shoulder, chest, and arm. She groaned, and the sound reverberating in the air made her aware that she was not alone. Turning her head, she saw Lux was sprawled in a large chair, Steela sharing it by curling in his lap, head on the boy's shoulder. Both of them were asleep, making Ahsoka smile for the quiet moment of peace. How much of that had there been lately?
She wasn't certain if it was just knowing things were calm, or if she was still medicated, but she let her own eyes close, falling back into sleep's embrace.
The next time she was awake, Steela was the only one there. The other girl was taking up the chair, reading a data pad until Ahsoka started pushing to get out of the bed. Then Steela was right there, reaching out.
"Let me help you?"
"It's just my arm, and the 'fresher's right there," Ahsoka protested.
Steela snorted. "Let me say thank you the best I can? You're going to be leaving soon, and you saved my life!"
"I'm a Jedi," Ahsoka said, but she didn't resist further when Steela steadied her, the lack of food making itself known side by side with the other biological processes. She really hated being dizzy from hunger. "We'd much rather be saving lives than fighting."
"But you are saving lives, by fighting for us, by showing us how to fight back," Steela reminded her. Ahsoka didn't answer that; it was the truth, but the cost was so high.
After a full meal, and checking in, Ahsoka learned that she was to stay for a few more days, by herself, just to observe. It felt like a heavy assignment, but she had caught the amused note in her Master's voice as he passed that on.
He was giving her a break, one that she was willing to admit she needed. Reaching out to grab a person while simultaneously holding herself anchored in place while ignoring a bolt to the shoulder that had grazed her central lek had left her Force control a little fuzzy.
"You'll stay with me," Steela announced immediately, and Lux just shrugged from where he and Saw had joined them. Ahsoka blinked, trying to read the situation, but the Force refused to cooperate. She just went along with it, giving herself into Steela's care.
Steela's care proved to be intent on picking up where they had left off before the fighting, but Ahsoka hesitated, even knowing they were alone and unlikely to be disturbed.
"Is it your arm? I don't want to hurt you," Steela told her, but her hands didn't stop touching along Ahsoka's waist and hip.
"Steela, I don't know if this is right." Ahsoka's words made the fighter look at her directly.
"Part of me is afraid this is still about gratitude. Another is very aware of how you and Lux feel. And then there's the fact I will be leaving, going back to the war, and who knows if I will ever come back here. I don't want… I mean, I do want you, and I really just want to be sure this is not going to hurt you, in the long run, either because of Lux, or because my life expectancy really isn't all that great while this war is on," Ahsoka explained.
Steela eased off her touching, tipping her head a bit to answer the points. "I'm grateful to be alive. This isn't part of that. Yes, Lux and I have… reached an understanding. He'd rather be here too, but we can't both disappear to take care of you. And as to the last? 'Soka, none of us are promised tomorrow. I only got another one because I happen to have befriended the most stubborn, headstrong, bantha-headed Jedi in the galaxy," she said. "Now, if you're done having an attack of conscience, do you mind joining me in bed, so I can actually use you to get rid of the action-induced hormones finally?"
She had put enough sauciness and impertinence in that last to make Ahsoka break down in a fit of laughter. "Well, if you're going to put it that way? I think I can kick my conscience to the side."
Steela ran a finger along each mark on Ahsoka's face, half-smiling at the squirming it caused. "You're the most beautiful being I have ever met, you know?" she said. "And I didn't think they came prettier than Lux."
Ahsoka laughed at that, but the boy was pretty enough for a human. Never mind he was pale enough to hurt her eyes in the right light. "I'd say you're more beautiful, but I don't feel like having a compliment war, not when Skyguy is supposed to be back for me today." She leaned up to steal a kiss, breaking the teasing touches on her face.
When they parted, Steela moved to where she could begin tracing the chevrons of each lek, her eyes intent on making this moment last. "When you're out there, on your ship, surrounded by your men, I want you to remember these few days as a promise that it's not all death and suffering. And maybe, someday when it's over, we'll meet again and see which of us is still pretty enough to win that compliment war."
"Someday," Ahsoka agreed, locking all of this experience deep in her soul.