The trip back is draped in silence and, Anakin senses, confusion. Mostly Ahsoka’s, he thinks, though Anakin isn’t sure how much of it actually is hers and how much of it is his own confusion bleeding through their training bond.
There are gaping holes in his memory, sections cut out neatly as if a cosmic hand had taken a vibroblade to his mind. He wonders if it’s like that for Ahsoka, too.
She’s resting in back, exhausted from their—well, Anakin isn’t quite sure what to call it. It wasn’t exactly an adventure; he’d always thought of adventures as grand, rollicking fun. Not strange and dangerous. Not deadly.
“Why don’t you check on her?” Obi-Wan says, gently, shattering the unnatural calm and quiet that’s been lingering between them since they climbed aboard their ship.
Anakin looks up, into Obi-Wan’s concerned eyes. “Master?”
“I can handle things up here,” he says, offering Anakin a kind smile.
Anakin glances back where Ahsoka is resting. He can hear her steady breaths, though he knows she’s only pretending to be sleeping. “Ahsoka does seem troubled,” Anakin says.
“As do you.” Obi-Wan’s tone is gentle, yet firm.
Perhaps Obi-Wan is right. Maybe talking with Ahsoka might help him sort through the tangled knot of emotion, grief, and guilt twisting and writhing like snakes in his gut.
Anakin gives his master an appreciative nod before getting out of the pilot’s seat and heading back to the sleeping quarters of their ship.
Ahsoka is resting on her side, but he knows she’s still awake. She’d probably heard the entire conversation.
Anakin settles on the end of her cot.
“Ahsoka,” he says, after a few moments of silence. “Are all right?”
Ahsoka turns, rolling onto her back and sitting up slowly. “I’m fine, Master,” she says, resting her hands in her lap. “It’s just…”
Anakin waits for her to continue. When she doesn’t, he prompts gently, “What is it?”
“I—I don’t remember anything,” she says, finally lifting her head to meet his eyes. “What do you remember?”
Anakin remembers bits and pieces. Scraps of memory like torn bits of flimsi, but nothing solid or whole. He remembers Ahsoka, veins of black like vines crawling on her skin. He remembers her eyes rolling into her skull. He can recall, with a sickening twist in his stomach, the sight of her collapsing in a heap like a limp, boneless doll.
There are other parts, though, that he knows he doesn’t remember. Large, gaping holes in his memory that have simply been excised.
The absence of those memories chafes at him, though Obi-Wan had said he was fortunate not to remember. In that moment, Anakin had realized Obi-Wan wasn’t afforded the same luxury. Obi-Wan remembered everything.
“Not much more than you, Snips,” Anakin admits, wishing he had a better answer for her. Something to give her that could instantly wipe away all the fear, confusion, and doubt currently plaguing her mind.
Ahsoka sighs. “I just wish I could remember,” she says, her thin fingers fretting at the hem of her tunic.
Anakin reaches out, as if to cover her hands with his before bringing himself up short. He lets his hand fall back into his own lap. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
“I don’t know,” she admits, with another soft sigh. “I just… I don’t know.”
Anakin watches her for a moment, at a loss for words, uncertain of what he should do. There are certain boundaries he can’t cross, not even for his Padawan. And there are certain paths a Jedi knight must stick to, never to take a false step.
But when has Anakin ever walked the straight, narrow path?
Anakin leans in and brushes his lips against the top of Ahsoka’s head, between her pointed montrals in a gentle kiss. Ahsoka lifts her head, nearly knocking him in the chin, blue eyes popping wide.
“Master?” she asks, cheeks flushing a darker shade of bronze.
Anakin flusters. “I’m sorry, Snips. I thought—I wanted to—” He waves a hand at her.
Ahsoka laughs, the sound clear and bright and welcome to Anakin’s ears, and reaches up, knocking his hand down. “It’s all right, Master,” she says. “I just wasn’t expecting that. They’re…sensitive.” Ahsoka reaches back up and pats one of her montrals.
Anakin grins at her, sensing that the delicate tension that had been stretching between the three of them has finally broken. “Are you okay?”
“I think I will be,” Ahsoka says, gently massaging her montral. “It’s just strange to have these gaps in my memory. But I know we’re in the same cockpit.”
“Indeed,” Anakin agrees, clasping her free hand in his and squeezing it. “If you ever have anything weighing on your mind, you know you can come to me.”
“I do,” Ahsoka says, squeezing back. “Thanks, Master.”
Anakin finally lets go of her hand and the two of them share a small smile. Things are still uncertain, there are still blank spaces in both their memories, but Anakin would like to think it helps to know you’re not alone.