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Fate Gives Second Chances

Chapter Text

"Death is just the beginning" - Season 6, episode 12

 

The hut looked larger when he was sprawled out on the floor. Of course, it was all a matter of perspective and the tiny shelter that somehow classed as a hut was certainly no bigger than the last time he checked. But the ceiling looked higher and the walls further apart when he was laying down. However, despite its impermanence the appearance of his accommodation did little to distract from the sweltering heat or stinging sand that scratched at him from beneath his head.

Or from Anakin.

Oh force, Anakin. The temple. The younglings. The Sith.

Mustafar.

He could still see it. The molten lava, the stench of smoke and burnt flesh, the flashes of lightsabers, clashing against each other. The horrid tint of yellow that lined his eyes.

He tried to forget, to block the memories, but always they persisted. In his dreams, in meditation, in the most random of moments when everything seemed fine, he would hear those damning words.

I HATE YOU!

His padawan, his brother, Anakin-

No.

Anakin was dead. It wasn’t – it wasn’t him who had done this. It was Vader. All of it was Vader.

That was who came to him in his nightmares, clad in black with a saber as red as blood. It was him who he saw strangling Padme and striking down younglings. Him who had fought Obi-wan on that hellish planet. Him wo had betrayed them to the Sith.

For all his shortcomings, Obi-wan was exceptionally good at lying to himself.

The sand burned under his head from where he lay, sprawled on the floor of his hut in the middle of nowhere.

How pathetic. The great general Kenobi, jedi master, one of the youngest members on the council. What was he now? Reduced to a rat in the desert, gorging himself on Jawwa juice because it was easier to swallow than guilt.

The ceiling span in circles, and colorful spots painted their way across his field of vision. Reds and purples danced on the ceiling, mixing with the cracks that bloomed over the roof like spiderwebs. Perhaps he would die, he thought idly. It would only be fitting after all. Ending things where they began, though he had never thought he might die on Tatooine of all places. He had thought he would die on Bandomeer, with a slave collar around his neck, and then on Melida/daan, fighting alongside children who were no more than younglings, and then in the war, in a thousand battles that all blended into one another. But no. It seemed Tatooine would be his grave.

 Just Another failure to add to his collection.

 First, he failed Qui-Gon, then Anakin, then Cody, and now he was failing the twins. Luke and Leia. Two stars burning fiercely in the force, like supernovas (like Anakin). It was forbidden, it was against the code, but he had gone and gotten attached. How could he not? He was the first to hold them. Padme was – she was too weak by then. The droid had given them straight to Obi-wan. But Sidious would find them eventually. There was no way he would be able to hide such strong force presences for long. And then he could grieve over two more children and wallow a little longer in his infinite sadness.

It was pitiful.

It was useless.

It did nobody any good, he should get up, drag himself from the floor and get to work. But it was so much easier just to lie there. He would come back to himself soon, he reasoned. Just a little longer.

Cody would have gotten up, he thought. His commander had always been ready, taking the initiative, getting the job done. Obi-wan didn’t know how he would have coped without him. He was a good man, loyal.

Until he shot you in the back.

And wasn’t that just the icing on the cake? His own men had turned against him. The men he had spent years fighting alongside. He had fought and bled and grieved with them, he had come to know them as his comrades, his friends. Why would they-? that was one of the thoughts that kept him up into the small hours of night. How had he managed to fail his men so spectacularly that they had resorted to killing him? What had he done to make them hate him so?

But he didn’t need an answer to that question. Not really.

The clones had been slaves to the republic, classed as property instead of sentients. They had been mistreated by the Kaminoans, and then the Nat-born officers and then the republic citizens. Hell, some had even been hurt by their Jedi generals. (Jedi did not hate as a rule but Pong Krell was an exception). And what had Obi-wan done to change that?

Kriff-all that’s what.

He had been too busy fighting a pointless war to involve himself in such politics. He was too blind to see beyond the campaigns and missions that the Sith had so thoughtfully laid out for him. I bet your laughing now Palpatine.

It was ironic really, that Obi-wan had always despised the man. His dislike of politicians was public knowledge and his distaste for the chancellor even more so. He wanted to scream ‘I was right! I was right all along, and no one listened!’ but there was no one left alive for him to tell. Even if there was, it wouldn’t matter. Nothing seemed to matter anymore.

His vision blurred and he had just enough rational thought left to realize that he was probably passing out. He smiled. At least unconsciousness came with the benefit of peace. Not even his thoughts could bother him then.

And then he heard it.

A soft buzz that seemed to emanate from all around him. It pulsed in his ears once, twice. Distantly he worried that it was the sand people, come to steal his water and butcher him. But the noise was familiar in its essence.

Where the force had previously been quiet in gentle despair, it was now humming in – comfort? Consolation? It was hard to tell in his alcohol riddled state, but it was soothing. The noise was deep and quiet, almost like the engine of a spaceship, the ones Anakin used to spend hours fixing whilst covered in oil stains. He would look up from them, grinning crookedly at Obi-wan.

Yellow eyes glared from the lava banks, IHATEYOU!

SafeQuietHushPeace

the force whispered, and Obi-wan listened. During his exile he had become better at listening to the forces will. After all, it was the only friend he had left. It was a bitter comfort though. Every time he had reached for it, he had felt it slip through its fingers like he was trying to grasp smoke. Until now. He let it lull him into unconsciousness, feeling the familiar pull of darkness.

FixItFixItFixItFixIt

The force hummed again, the buzz echoing around him in his vertigo. Fix what? He wondered briefly as he went under. Perhaps it meant the cracks in the roof.

Chapter Text

"A single chance is a galaxy of hope." - season 1, episode 18

 

When Obi-wan awoke he was most certainly not in the same room as the one he had passed out in the night before. For one thing, it was much larger than he remembered his hut ever being, even when he was lying like a starfish on its floor. For another thing, he was cold. And Tatooine was never cold. That was – slightly concerning. So much so that he had to take a few minutes to really look at his surroundings before he ruled off ‘captured by the empire’ from the list of possible explanations for his sudden change in location. It was immediately put back on the list when a figure clad in white armor strode through the doors.

“General Kenobi sir, you’re needed in the command room.”

Every hair on his body stood on end, every hackle raised. Panic flooded his system and he was dimly aware of his heart pounding in his ears.

And then the figure turned and walked back out of the room.

What in the name of the force–?

It took an entire minute of gaping like a particularly dumbstruck fish for Obi-wan’s brain to process what had just happened. Because the person who had just left the room was no stormtrooper, they were dressed in clone armor. Clone armor painted in stripes of 212th gold. Clone armor that mirrored that of his commanders’. Clone armor that had supposedly been destroyed when Cody had – when the emperor had taken over.

Pain built in his chest, and it took him a while to realize that it was because he wasn’t breathing. He wasn’t – he couldn’t. His lungs were aching, he needed to get himself together, but a thousand thoughts were flying through his head. What if this was some Sith trick? Some dream that Sidious had trapped him in. Maybe it was a torture method, a way of getting him to talk. Or maybe he was still passed out on the floor of his hut, and this was all a hallucination. He tried to breathe in, to take a deep breath but his jaw was locked shut and he couldn’t get his mind to respond.

He was dead.

That must be it. He had overdosed on jawwa juice on Tatooine and now he was one with the force, six feet under, sleeping with the fishes. It was almost funny, he had fought for so long, survived so much. He had defeated Maul, and Ventress, and Grievous only to be brought down by a bottle of particularly strong alcohol. Sidious would be beside himself.

He stared down at his hands. The skin was smooth. There were no wrinkles, no raised and broken veins that bloomed like spider webs, and no tan from the relentless binary suns. How strange.

He pinched his arm. Funny, he had thought death would be different, that perhaps one wouldn’t feel pain the way they did in life. If he was honest, Obi-wan hadn’t believed there was anything after death except the force.

Tentatively, he reached out with the force, letting it wash over him in a calming wave. The tears that pricked at his eyes were unexpected, but not entirely surprising. There was so much life. All around him. He had been so alone in the desert, so isolated, but here? Wherever here was? There was life. So very much of it. He could feel Cody’s force signature making his way down the hall, as steadfast and solemn as ever. He could hear the quiet thrum of tension-excitement-determination from the people outside. And there in the distance, burning so brightly it hurt to look at, was the unmistakable force presence of his padawan.

Their bond was still there, in the back of Obi-wan’s head, the way it was before everything had gone to hell. It was strong and vibrant, no longer the fraying twisted thing that it had become, poisoned by hatred, obsession, and pain. He poked curiously at Anakin’s shields. if he was dead, did that mean everyone here was dead too? The wave of questioning concern that washed through the bond certainly felt alive. Come to think of it, was he actually certain he was dead? That this wasn’t a hallucination or – or some Sith mind trick?

Getting up from the bed, he exited the safety of his quarters. It was only then that he truly realized the gravity of his situation.

Turquoise towers that had been carved from crystal stretched up to the sky, decorated in geometric windows that allowed the light to shine into the buildings. Rubble lined the streets and clones rushed past him, moving to and from positions, setting up weapons, and performing maintenance on the crumbling buildings around him. The sky was hidden by a thick coat of grey clouds that kept the planet in a perpetual state of gloom. It would seem Obi-wan’s conscious would remember this planet even in the afterlife.

Christophsis. He was on Christophsis.

He wanted to laugh. Was this some sort of cosmic joke the force was playing on him? Perhaps it was a game; ‘relive all your worst mistakes after you die and see how long it takes you to go insane’. He wondered which one would be next, Qui-Gon? Satine? Maybe this was his punishment, for failing everyone he loved. It was only fair that he should suffer for all he put them through, all he failed to protect them from. If this was what the force wanted of him, then who was Obi-wan to refuse?

The walk to the command center was torturously slow. All around him the ghosts went about their daily lives. A young trooper walked past with a tattoo of a snake curling past his ear, (Obi-wan had held his hand as he bled out beneath a crashed ship). A Captain drilled his men, ensuring they hit their target each time, (no one could have survived a fall from that height). A voice called out to him, and as he turned to look, Obi-wan was met with the wide grin of one Anakin Skywalker.

“Hey master! You headed to command? I hear they’ve got news for us.”

He couldn’t do this. Not now, not ever. Anakin looked so painfully young, his hair a good deal shorter than the last Obi-wan had seen it, his voice still had that high pithed quality to it that had vanished in time, and his eyes were so much brighter, so full of mirth. (They were blue not yellow; they were blue they were blue theywereblue).

“Anakin,” he said, his voice sounding choked off and weak. The teasing glint in Anakin’s eye slid away and was immediately replaced with concern. How very Anakin, always thinking of others, his heart so big and compassionate. So easily attached. Obi-wan forced down the image of Padme’s sightless eyes.

“Hey master, are you ok? You don’t look so good,” his padawans voice was tinged with worry and Obi-wan forced a smile onto his face.

“I’m fine Anakin, just tired. I do believe we have a command meeting to get too.”

“Whatever you say master, just remember you need to get some beauty sleep as well as do paperwork,” Anakin teased, and it was so painfully familiar, the back and forth, the snark and sarcasm.

“I’ll keep it in mind.”

Anakin shot a blinding grin his way, all traces of worry wiped clean and replaced with the cool confidence that his padawan so often used to hide his uncertainty.

I HATE YOU!

He didn’t hide his shudder well enough, and Anakin glanced over at him, worry creasing his brow.

This was fine. Everything was fine. He was dead after all; it wasn’t like anything could hurt him now. (He knows that is wishful thinking, but he had always prided himself on being optimistic, if cynical). He just had to get through the day, maybe. Obi-wan wasn’t entirely certain how this whole thing was supposed to work. Would he live through each day like a second life? Or would the force throw him randomly through each of his greatest embarrassments and regrets.

He supposed there was only one way to find out.


Something weird was going on with Cody’s general. Something Weirder than usual.

Of course, he had heard all about the usual force-osik that tended to happen around jedi. His brothers were terrible gossips, and it was hard to ignore the tales they told of the Jedi’s abilities. Making things float, controlling people’s minds, being able to feel each other’s emotions, Alpha-17 had even filled him in on General Kenobi’s particular brand of crazy, along with a few dozen warnings about the man’s self-sacrificing tendencies.

But this was – different.

Cody had only spent a few months with his general, but from what he could tell, Kenobi was genuine if professional. He was kind and compassionate when it mattered, Sarcastic and witty when he had room to be, but determined and unflinching when it really came down to it. The man was almost as much of a workaholic as Cody. More than once, He had seen him bent over paperwork in the late hours of the night, hair all tousled and looking far more disheveled than he probably wanted too, though still serene in an effortless way that was too attractive for his own good.

What? Cody has eyes, sue him. He’s only human.

(Technically he’s not human. He’s not even classed as sentient. He is republic property).

The point being, Cody was sure he had a pretty accurate read on Kenobi. Of course, it was harder to tell with Jedi, but Cody had learned to get good at reading people, it was survival after all.

And it was for this reason that Cody was unsettled by Kenobi’s appearance as he entered the command center. His skin was pale and chalklike, highlighted by the dark circles beneath his eyes that looked as though they had been punched on. His eyes were wild, glancing around the room, scanning for exits, marking each weapon. Small tremors wracked the General’s body, so small that Cody would have missed them if he had not been looking. Cody had seen it before on Vod who had been on the front for too long. Battle fatigue was no stranger to him, but the general had never shown any previous signs. How could his health have deteriorated so much? But more concerning than any of these inconsequential points, was his behavior.

It was the way he leaned away from general Skywalker, not obviously, just a slight shift here or small jerk there. It was the way he flinched whenever someone walked by him, his eyes cataloging each weapon they were carrying. It was the way he looked at Cody like he was seeing a ghost, like he kept looking for someone that wasn’t there, catching Cody’s eye only to realize he wasn’t the person he was looking for. It was how he spoke to Skywalker, refusing to look him in the eyes, instead focusing just left of his head.

As far as Cody knew, the general adored Skywalker. He didn’t know much about Jedi and family, only that attachments were supposedly forbidden, but he would bet all his credits that Kenobi and Skywalker were Aliit.

(Cody didn’t have any credits anyway, he wasn’t paid).

So why was the General acting so – so fearful of him? Like any second Skywalker would snap and tear his head off. (Cody doesn’t think about how similar Kenobi’s behavior is to the way shiny’s interact with the longnecks. He doesn’t he doesn’t hedoesn’t-)

“If we put men in the north and south towers, we can ambush the droids and win a victory here, securing our position and allowing those supplies to reach Senator Organa, Cody?”

His gaze snapped to the Generals. That was another new development, addressing Cody by his name instead of as his rank. Usually he was just ‘commander’, but Kenobi had been using his name more and more often. A few minutes prior he had addressed a shiny by their name and Cody had never seen anyone look so surprised. Maybe it was a jedi thing, knowing their names without needing to have been told them. Though that seemed a stretch, even for the Jedi.

“The plan is sound General.” He said, unsure of how he was supposed to respond. On Kamino it had almost been easier. At least there he had known what was expected of him. He was to keep his head down and train and train until he dropped. Now, there was a new set of rules. It was almost like Kenobi wanted him to question his orders, and Cody didn’t know what to do with that information. But the general simply gave him a tight-lipped smile, so Cody figured he had answered acceptably.

Later, as they were all leaving the general called him and a select few for a meeting.

Himself, Rex, Crys, Chopper, Charger, Denal, and General Skywalker were all assembled.

“I Have reason to believe,” the general began, “That we have a security breach”.

Murmurs broke out around him as everyone turned to look at each other, all thinking the same thing. Who is the spy?

“I don’t know who, I don’t know how, but I do believe they are aware of our plans for tomorrows ambush, which is why you are here. All of you are good men, and I trust you to understand the gravity of this situation and be aware of the confidentiality needed.”

Cody found himself nodding along with his brothers.

“Tomorrow’s attack will go ahead as planned, with a few moderations. Captain rex, I Want you to take Denal and go to the towers in the east and west, line them with detonators so that we can bring them down in the center square, both as an attack and as a line of defense. Cody, I would like you to distribute grappling hooks amongst the men involved in the ambush, I believe we may be needing them. The rest of you should be on the lookout for anything unusual, unfamiliar signals, interference, suspicious behavior, anything that will give us a clue as to who is behind this breach. Any questions?”

“no sir” the he chorused with the rest of the men.

“Very well, there is one more thing I must ask of you. If you find our security breach, I want you to report it to me, and nothing more. Do Not take action.”

“Sir?” Cody questioned, if they had a breach, they should rectify it. Kenobi merely smiled tiredly at him, a hint of mischief in his eyes.

“If we know where or who our leak is, they could be of use to us. It may be possible to feed them false information and gain an advantage. Surely, they will catch on eventually, but it may just give us the edge we need. After you leave here, I would like you to complain about how you are being assigned a position watching over the cannons. Can you do that?”

“Sir yes sir!”

“Good. That is all for now, may the force be with you.”

It wasn’t until much later that Cody realized Kenobi had never met Charger before. He was a shiny who had just been brought to the front, and yet the General had known his name, had trusted him with crucial information.

Force-Osik indeed.

Chapter Text

"The wise man leads, the strong man follows" - Season 4, episode 9

 

On the morning of the attack, Anakin rose bright and early as was usual for a war zone. Although, even when in a war zone he was not safe from his sleep-deprived-zombie-morning-mode where his brain was barely able to process his own thoughts, never mind anyone else’s. Obi-wan had always lectured him about it, being ‘mindful of one’s thoughts’ and all that. Not that Anakin had really listened, but he was certain that obi-wan had said the speech so often he could recite it from memory. As it turned out his master was right - as per usual - and in his barely awake state, Anakin managed to stumble right into an oncoming clone.

“Easy there sir,” the clone said and Anakin had just enough awareness and sense in him to mumble an apology.

“Shift change?” He asked, his voice sounding croaky and weak. Honestly Anakin was too tried to care. He had never been a morning person.

“Um, yes sir.” The clone said, before moving on.

Anakin continued on, moving like a zombie on stilts. Honestly, it wasn’t his fault. He blamed obi-wan for letting him sleep in so often as a padawan. Speaking of his master-

He was acting strange. Or at least he had been yesterday. Anakin had almost dragged him back to his quarters and insisted he lay down; he had looked as though he was about to faint. It was probably just a fever or something dumb. Obi-wan had been pretty stressed lately, maybe that was it? He would make sure to check in with him today.

“Morning sir,” Rex called when he came in to view and Anakin couldn’t help the smile that came to his face. Rex was a good man, a little bit of a stickler to the rules but he could fix that in no time.

“Yeah Rex, sure is. Hey what time is it?” he could never be sure on new planets. His knowledge of time conversions for Republic worlds was – lacking. Never mind outer rim and separatist space.

“It’s 0600 sir, we still have a few hours till the attack.”

Anakin nodded but something niggled in the back of his head. Something he couldn’t place. It wasn’t to do with the attack, definitely not. Perhaps it had something to do with Obi-wan? His still half-asleep brain was struggling to keep up with the thought process and he let the though go, resolving to think about it when the world was actually making sense. Which to be fair, was not that often. It was in these moments that he missed Padme most. She would have remembered. She was so smart, so wonderful. He bet she would know what was wrong with Obi-wan too. Her way with people was much more – refined than his. Her competence was outmatched only by her beauty. He still wondered how she could love him. How a former queen of Naboo, esteemed senator had fallen in love with the ex-slave from Tatooine. It didn’t make sense.

But she loved him, and he loved her and that was all that mattered.

He felt similarly about his relationship with the chancellor. He couldn’t believe at first than someone so powerful would want Anakin as a friend. But Palpatine had been nothing but kind, offering him advice and an open ear. It was nice to have someone to speak to, there were somethings he just couldn’t tell Obi-wan.

(I slaughtered them like animals.)

“Anakin!” a familiar voice called, and he turned to look at his master.

He looked – better than yesterday, but that wasn’t saying much. He wasn’t quite so pale, but his eyes still looked sunken in and the stress lines around the sockets were all too visible. At least he wasn’t shaking anymore.

“Hey master, you ready for today?”

“I can hardly contain myself.” Came the dry response. That was good. If obi-wan was well enough to make sarcastic comments, then he would be fine. Probably.

Actually, now that he was thinking about it, Anakin wasn’t sure if it was even possible for Obi-wan to stop making witty remarks. Maybe his system for judging his master’s health was flawed.

“Well, I’m excited. Nothing like taking out a few seppies to get the blood pumping in the morning!” Obi-wans lip twitched, but he didn’t say anything back. That was Ok. The wave of fond exasperation the filtered through the bond was enough.

That was another thing. Obi-wan had been shielding himself more from the bond since yesterday. It wasn’t like he was cutting himself off completely, he still sent waves of emotion and the occasional poke at Anakin’s shields. But his emotions were more guarded than they had been. It was as if he was trying to hold them tight, keep them from escaping. Again, it was probably just stress. He would be better in a few days and then everything would go back to normal.

“Sir!” Anakin turned to find Cody making his way towards them. Cody was – ok he guessed. Far too proper for Anakin, a little bit of a stick in the mud. Perfectly suited to Obi-wan though. The two had the same devotion the ‘rules’ that Anakin had never quite grasped.

“Cody! Shift changes?” Obi-wan asked in that way of his, too coy to be sarcastic but not flirtatious either.

“No sir. Not for another few hours. We received a transmission from the temple, we are to expect an arrival within the next few days.”

“Reinforcements?”

“Unclear, sir. Our lines are unstable. We can’t get a clear connection.”

Sure, why would they have a clear connection? It’s not like they were in a war or anything, or y’know, in a dangerous situation where clear communication may mean their survival.

“I see, update me when there’s more news.”

“Will do, sir.” Cody said before turning and walking back the way he had come. Obi-wans eyes lingered on him before he turned back to Anakin and quirked his brow.

“Never a dull moment around here.”

Wasn’t that the truth. Anakin had never felt so busy in his life. It seemed life at the front was always moving, always changing. Not that he was complaining, it suited him fine. He didn’t cope well with inactivity and so he was rather enjoying all the excitement. It was thrilling, and new. Could you blame him?

It was as he was walking away with Obi-wan that he realized Cody had just solved the niggling though in the back of his head. The clone from this morning, the one he had bumped into. He had said he was on a shift change, but Cody had said – Cody had said there wasn’t a shift change for another few hours. Perhaps he was running some errands, but then why lie about it?

Obi-wan had said to be on the lookout for anything suspicious and that definitely counted. He would need to talk to Rex about it, see if he could identify the exact clone. Plus, Anakin wasn’t great at subtlety and that was exactly what they needed if they wanted to catch the spy. He resolved to tell rex after the days attack. Until then, he would bide his time and try not to accidently give anything away.


The worst thing about war was the waiting. Not that Cody had much experience with war, he was technically only ten years old after all, but so far, the endless hours of standing around useless grated on him more than anything else. Everyone rushed about to begin with, making plans, drawing up strategies, putting contingency after contingency in place, all in an effort to spend the next few hours sitting doing nothing. It seemed the overall consensus was, in his General’s words, ‘hurry up and wait’.

Cody had never felt the agonizing, drawn out anxiety of waiting quite like this, crouched in the North tower with a detonator in one hand and a blaster in the other.

He had never thought anything could be worse than Geonosis but this was slowly proving him wrong. Don’t get him wrong, Geonosis had been – hell. It had been the first deployment of the clones and none of them had known what to expect. Sure, they had trained and researched and run simulations, but nothing could have prepared them for that. Cody honestly doesn’t remember much of it apart from the blazing sun, and the sand, and the panic that clawed its way up his throat, clouding his judgment. It’s funny, but he also remembers picking up Kenobi’s lightsaber, holding it in his hand and feeling a pulse of, something. He knows his brain probably made it up in a moment of hysteria, but he could have sworn the lightsaber had been comforting.

So yes, Geonosis had been a Sith sworn nightmare.

But this was worse in so many ways.

sun streamed in through the great geometric windows, heating up the room. A Bead of sweat rolled down his forehead and onto his blacks. He couldn’t find the will to wipe it away and so resigned himself to the minor annoyance. Behind him, two shiny’s were discussing some brand of alcohol that they would most likely never get to taste. Crys was on his right, drumming a rhythm onto his blaster that Cody had watched him clean three time over within the space of an hour. Cody himself had cleaned his twice now. They wouldn’t have to wait much longer, in theory. If everything went to plan, which was rare when working with General Skywalker, then this would be easy. They just had to be patient.

And then there was Kenobi.

He was sitting cross-legged in the center of the floor, eyes shut in meditation. He had been that way for over an hour. It was a habit of his, meditating before conflicts. Cody figured it was a Jedi thing, though he had never seen General Skywalker do it. Then again, General Skywalker was hardly the most orthodox jedi.

It was slightly concerning if he was honest. Watching his General sit so still.

“They’re here.” General Kenobi said as his eyes snapped open. He unclasped the lightsaber from his belt and stood in one smooth motion.

Cody scanned the opening, seeing no sign of the enemy his General had just declared was upon them. He was contemplating speaking up, asking for clarification when he heard it. The rhythm of marching soldiers, or in this case, battle droids.

The reaction was instantaneous, all at once the men around him stiffened up, eyes alert and ears sharpened. The atmosphere seemed to shift in a flash and suddenly Cody was tense, finger hovering over the button on the detonator.

Seeming to read his thoughts (Kriffing force osik) His General caught his eye.

“Not too soon Cody, we want to catch as many as we can in the blast.”

His only response was a nod of the head, too focused on the brown figures coming into view to voice the instinctual ‘yes sir’ that formed on his tongue.

Ten, twenty, thirty. He counted the rows marking the number of enemies in each. One-ten, one-twenty, one-thirty, there were at least five hundred by his count. And then the tanks came rolling in behind them. Kriff. They were so screwed if this didn’t work.

“Easy,” His General murmured, and Cody startled a little. The Jedi seemed to slip into the shadows of the room, choosing when and how to emerge into the light. One minute he was the center of your attention, and the next? You forgot he was there.

“Just a little further,” Cody whispered, mostly to himself. The horde of clankers was swarming ever closer and he was itching to press the button, to blow those seppies apart. But he had to wait. He had to, as General Kenobi was so fond of telling Skywalker, have patience.

The thrum of engines grew louder in his ears as they crawled further into the clearing. Around him, his brothers were ramrod straight, it was almost humorous. They looked as though they were lined up for inspection by the kaminiise.

All at once, the noises stopped. Complete silence reigned for a split second.

“Now!” His general called and Cody happily obliged.

BOOM

The towers went down in a plume of smoke and ash. The levels they had planted explosives on blew outwards, shattering the great square windows. And then the towers toppled, smashing into the ground beneath them. It was almost as if it were in slow motion, though it was probably the adrenaline rush. His men were cheering behind him, but his ears were still ringing from the force of the blast. He looked down; a sheet of grey dust shrouded the clearing. It was impossible to tell how many they had taken out. But General Kenobi had known they were coming, if he could sense them –

“Did we get em sir?” He heard himself ask, though he still sounded muffled and distorted. His General’s mouth was pinched into a firm line and his brow was furrowed. That didn’t bode well.

“Not all of them.”

His hands found the blaster that he had dropped at some point during the initial blast, automatically checking the safety and functionality. Lucky for him, it was still good as new.

The doors behind them slid open revealing a horde of droids and Kenobi whirled, deflecting bolts too quick for Cody’s eyes to track. He shifted his blaster upwards and fired, shot after shot. They knew we were in this tower, he though as he blasted a hole in a clankers head. I suppose that means the general was right about the security breach.

He shielded his face as Kenobi threw a droid through the window, shattering the glass. Kriff. Cody had seen his General fight before, of course he had. But not like this. There was a controlled yet feral nature to his actions. He was calculated yet brutal, cold and efficient yet burning with intensity. It was mesmerizing to watch. If all jedi fought like this, then their chances of winning this blasted war were significantly higher than Cody had thought.

A blaster bolt whizzed past his head, and he cursed himself. Stay in the moment soldier.

Time passed in a hazy mix of droids, lightsabers and orders barked over the mayhem. He pulled Crys down in time to save him a trip to the medics, then quickly ripped the clankers head from its shoulders.

“Anakin,” Kenobi called over the comm when the rest of the droid had been dispatched “Our position is secure, how are you and your men holding up?”

And it was that exact moment Skywalker chose to crash through the window behind them.

“Hey master, things were getting a little crowded over there,” He said, grinning wildly as the rest of his troops barreled through the window. Cody had never been more relieved to have a sensible general.

“I see those grappling hooks came in handy,” Kenobi said. He was stood at the window Skywalker had just crashed through; one had raised as he dragged droids off the edge of the opposing tower with his mind. Kriffin force osik. Cody pulled up his blaster and started firing. The battle was almost done.

“What can I say master? I guess I was just born to fly.” Cody swore he lost braincells every time that man opened his mouth.

“You and I have very different definitions of ‘fly’ Anakin.”

Cody was in for a long day. If he had to put up with kriffing insane jedi for the rest of the war he may just save himself the trouble and ‘accidentally’ jump from the roof of the tower.

Chapter Text

"The first step towards loyalty is trust." - Season 4, episode 7

 

The Ambush had gone well, and it was putting Rex on edge. As far as he was concerned, nothing ever went this well when General Skywalker was involved. No disrespect to his General, but things tended to fall apart rapidly in his presence. At least there were no casualties. He was fairly sure he had General Kenobi to thank for that. He hadn’t managed to catch a glimpse of the man during the skirmish, but Crys had spent the next few hours waxing poetry about his Generals proficiency and skill.

Rex considered himself a good soldier. Not in the way that Cody was, strong and quick witted and smart, no. That’s not to say that Rex didn’t have these qualities, he just couldn’t apply them in the way Cody seemed to. But that was fine. Rex had other qualities that had seen him through the hell of Geonosis.

Ingenuity, independence, individuality.

His ability to improvise plans, use whatever resources were available to him and think on his feet had meant his survival in the first shitstorm of the clone wars.

Of course, those traits had been nothing but a burden on Kamino. The longnecks had wanted nothing short of complete conformity. They were clones after all; how could they be individual? They were born and bred to be expendable, cannon fodder in a war that didn’t concern them and trained not to question this. The Kaminoans were skeptical of him as it was. What with his blond hair and obvious defects –

(Red lights and screaming, where is CT-7564? oh god they’re going to decommission him theirgoingto-)

But he had survived. Had suppressed the thoughts in his head that whispered strategies and ideas so outside of mission parameters that it was practically a one-way ticket to reconditioning. Or worse.

And then he had been assigned to General Skywalker and he realized his entire world view was fucked.

The Vode had known startlingly little about the Jedi. They had been told that Jedi were fearsome warriors and leaders who would command them in the heat of battle. They had been told about their sorcery, their ability to move objects with their mind and control the thoughts of others. The jedi had been a sort of fairytale on kamino, a story that all cadets were told. But Rex was quickly unlearning everything he thought he knew.

Instead of warriors the Jedi were peacekeepers. They had known practically nothing about command. The aftermath of Geonosis proved that much at least. The Generals had been – clueless for lack of a better word. Except perhaps for General Kenobi, but Rex was fairly certain that man was flawless in everything he did. (He almost envied Cody for having such a competent general)

But General Skywalker had at least been creative. His strategies, though bold and reckless, had the ingenuity needed to take the enemy by surprise. They were so crazy they were good. So idiotic they actually worked. Rex wasn’t sure if Skywalker was a genius or just damn lucky.

So, when he was pulled aside by his general after the morning ambush, Rex was ready to hear another plan for a daring offensive or risky infiltration. What he was not expecting was for his General to tell him that he had found the potential traitor in their mist, and if he was correct, they had come from Slicks Barrack.

Now Rex wasn’t naïve. He knew why a brother might betray them. Credits, mercy, a promise of freedom. But it didn’t dull the sting of betrayal. They were brothers. All of them.

Vode An.

 But it seemed not everyone saw it that way. It was the shiny’s mostly who didn’t understand this; the battle bond. The ones who hadn’t walked over the desecrated ground of a battlefield and seen their own lifeless face staring back at him. Rex had heard that dying men often called out for their mothers, but the Vode didn’t have mothers. Or fathers. They only had each other. So, as they lay dying, spilling red blood onto the ground, screaming in agony and fear, they cried out for their brothers. They cried out for Rex.

It was in these moments that Rex was glad he didn’t have Batchmates.

(“something wrong with this batch.” “Cleanse them.” ” Defections-” “Not the blond one”)

The bond was always stronger with Batchmates. Rex couldn’t even begin to imagine how it must feel, watching the life slowly slip from the men you had spent all of your life with. 

If there was a traitor in Slicks squad, Rex would find them. He would bring them to justice for putting his brothers in danger. He couldn’t protect all of them, not from the war. But he could save them this, Protect them now. And that would have to be enough.

He spoke to Cody first. Rex didn’t have batchmates, but Cody came pretty damn close. He had been trained by him after all, taught everything he knew. If there was one person he could count on, it was Cody.

“You’re sure about this?” was the first thing Cody said and the look of betrayal that flashed across his face was almost too quick for Rex to see. But Rex had spent his life around brothers with the same face, he knows its ticks and quirks.

“No.” Rex admitted. He had no evidence, only what he had been told. But it was something. A start at least. It was the best lead they had so far anyways. “But General Skywalker is.”

Cody furrowed his brow and rubbed a hand across his chin. Rex had seen General Kenobi pull the exact same move during briefings.

“Okay then,” He said eventually, “But we tell General Kenobi first.”

Rex would laugh in any other situation. Cody had always been by the book, following procedure to the letter. It seemed the war had done nothing to change that. The thought was funnier than it should have been. Especially since Rex knew Cody was like that for survival. Most nat-borns would jump at the chance to send clones back to Kamino for ‘defections’.

“Okay Vod, we tell your general first.”

Cody’s answering grin had too many teeth. Rex couldn’t help himself but to return it. He didn’t have batchmates, was glad for that fact because kriff it they were at war. But – maybe it was selfish – but he thought he wouldn’t mind having batchmates so much if Cody was one of them.


 The battle had been both the same as Obi-wan remembered and completely different.

The tension had been the same, waiting for what seemed to be hours for the enemy to strike. The madness that followed was certainly familiar, the haze of droids and blaster fire blending each moment into the next. The outcome was most certainly different.

They had been forced to retreat before. They had been beaten.

This time they had been prepared. Obi-wan had known about the security breach, had warned of the spy. And he had changed the outcome.

That scared him more than anything. He hadn’t been certain if he could change things here. If it was a Sith trick then surely, he would have failed. Watched his men die again. But he hadn’t. he had saved them, changed the past (Afterlife? Hallucination? Whatever the hell this was). And if he could change that, he could change everything else.

He could save them all.

The thought rung in his head. It was silly, there was no way he would be able to save all of them and there was still the chance that none of this was real at all. But maybe here in this dreamlike world he could make a better future. He had failed once before; he wasn’t intending on doing so again.

But this brought up a new problem. The more he changed, the less he would know. All his prior experience would mean nothing if he changed everything all at once. He would have to be subtle, stick to his timeline as much as possible if he wanted to save as many as possible. The thought was borderline infuriating. If this wasn’t real, then surely it wouldn’t matter? He could do whatever he wanted.

But the selfish part of him needed to believe that he could make things right. That he could absolve himself of the guilt and fix everything he had broken. He would never get a better chance than this.

So, when Cody and Rex cornered him a few hours of the battle, he made sure he had the time to listen. In his previous life he had been good friends with both clones, and a part of him desperately wanted that connection again.

(He doesn’t think about how the distrust in Cody’s gaze tears a part of his soul. He also doesn’t think about Utapua.)

“Commander Cody, Captain Rex, what can I do for you,” He asked as he motioned them into his quarters. He was vaguely aware of the maps and strategies spread over his desk and reminds himself to clean them up when he has a chance.

“We have a suspicion about the security breach, sir.” Cody said, voice flat and professional, hands down by his sides. Obi-wan noted that he hadn’t even removed his helmet. The distance that his commander had placed between them shouldn’t be surprising, it also shouldn’t hurt as much as it did. The clones had been taught that if they showed anything but blind obedience and deference, they would be hurt. Decommissioned. The word felt like a curse in his mind and his heart ached for the clones who had been lost to the Kaminoans cruelty. It had been the first thing Shaak Ti had put a stop to upon arriving on Kamino.

 “I see,” he said, maintaining the same level of professionalism his commander was clearly keen to keep.

“We believe they are one of the clones in Slick’s barracks, sir, although we are yet to identify them.”

That was the same as last time, Obi-wan thought. It had been Slick before, selling his brothers out to the separatists. He hadn’t been entirely wrong though. He had seen his position for what it was – slavery. He had done what he had though was right. Obi-wan couldn’t help but to pity him and hates himself for that.

“Excellent, commander,” He said, “Though I do believe we can hold off on the identification for now. We wouldn’t want to arouse suspicions. In the meantime, I think it’s time we paid a visit behind enemy lines.”  Everything was coming back to him now, he had played this game before, and this time, he intended to win.

“Sir?” Cody asked, force presence shrouded with uncertainty. Trust his Commander to worry. It had always been one of Cody’s strong suits – worrying. Not that he was complaining, Cody’s incessant worrying had often been the reason for his survival. Obi-wan couldn’t quite hide the small smile that slipped over his face.

“If we can send false information through our spy, then it is possible we could lay a trap for the enemy. A bold attack on their main base should draw their attention, and I know exactly the man for the job.”

“General Skywalker?” Rex asked, seemingly by accident as his force presence shied in embarrassment.

Obi-wan only grinned wider, far too many teeth on show.

“Anakin.”


When his Master had told Anakin the plan, he had thought for a brief moment that someone had killed Obi-wan and taken his place.

Okay, saying it like that in his head did make it sound a little ridiculous, but Anakin had never known his master to be so – Rash, for lack of a better word. Sure, he had known Obi-wan was awesome and perfect in almost everything he did, a cunning warrior and skilled negotiator. But there was something in his smile that held an edge of wildness. Something Anakin had never seen on his former master before.

Maybe it had something to do with how he had been acting the other day, all pale and shaken up. At first Anakin had thought it was a fever or something mundane, possibly even a migraine like the ones he used to get when Anakin was still a youngling.

He remembered how Obi-wan had looked then, lying motionless in one of master Che’s wards. He had always smiled at Anakin; had always said he would soon be better and there was nothing to worry over.

(He doesn’t remember the time Obi-wan had to be sedated. Doesn’t remember him thrashing on the bed, calling out for Qui-Gon. He doesn’t remember how he was too afraid to help)

But now he wasn’t so sure. His master didn’t seem ill, just anxious and stressed. Of course, his master was always anxious and stressed but this was different. This was more, somehow.

 whatever it was, it seemed to have passed. Or at least was not as severe as the other day. His master, though still pale and prone to flinch from contact, was looking far more like his normal self. He would be looking almost exactly like his normal self if not for the predatory gleam in his eye. It made it incredibly hard for Anakin to be relieved when he wasn’t sure if he should be quite yet.

The force pulled him from his thoughts as two more battle droids joined their tales.

The world whizzed past the two as they flew over the ground on their speeders. The nose of Obi-wans’ was just ahead of his, and Anakin almost laughed at the silent message. Of course, he would stay behind his master for this mission.

Probably.

Maybe.

It went like this.

Obi-wan was almost as dramatic as Anakin was. People usually didn’t realize it at first, but he was.

Despite this, his strategies were always well thought out, carefully set in place and acted out.

The plan Anakin had been briefed on was so reckless that he didn’t think even he would have thought of it. And he was known for his ridiculous plans and bold strategies.

So of course, Anakin agreed to it at once.

It was only now as he and Obi-wan were speeding away from the base that he was having second thoughts. Well, not exactly ‘second thoughts’ more like – concerns. About Obi-wan.  If he really was ill, the way he had been when Anakin was young, then surely he should be avoiding activity. Anakin wanted to shake him by the shoulders and tell him to lie down for force sake.

Then again, he had never been able to get his master to rest. Not once in his life.

He looked over at Obi-wan and sent him a message through the bond.

Their following us.

Obviously his master was aware of this, Anakin himself had been monitoring the steadily increasing number of droids that were tailing them. He had to fight every impulse in his body, all of which were screaming at him to reach for his saber. But there was no warning in the force, there was nothing but a vague sense of apprehension.

Obi-wan nodded back to him.

It’s working.

Good. Great. That was brilliant.

It’s not like they would be stranded alone in enemy territory without any backup if this went sideways.

He kept reassuring himself that everything would be fine as he and his master pulled up outside of the separatist’s base. The dark curtain of the night turned the turquoise crystal into a navy blue and the windows into pools of black ink.

“Ready?” He asked his master, his signature smirk playing on his lips.

“Always.”

They would be fine. The plan was crazy, but sound. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened yet.

 So really, what could go wrong?

 

 

A lot could go wrong, apparently.

Anakin would like to state for the record that this was, in no way his fault.

Everything had gone fine to begin with, they had made it through the front door without being stopped. In fact, they had met no resistance at all, courtesy of one spy who was currently being hunted down by Cody and Rex back at base.

He and his master had just waltzed up the steps to the first floor, and that was where they met their first problem in the form of one Asajj Ventress.

Chapter Text

"A plan is only as good as those who see it through." - season 1, episode 4

 

“So, this is the belly of the beast” Anakin said from his position next to Obi-wan glancing around the interior of the room.

It certainly is, Obi-wan thought as they came to stop in the center of the room. It was just as he remembered it, with one major difference. If memory served, then any moment now –

A dark figure seemed to emerge from the wall. The hood of their cloak was drawn up to their face and their force presence was bathed in darkness that writhed liked tentacles.

Bingo.

“Ventress, and here I thought this mission would be unpleasant,” He said, batting his eyelids slightly as he slid back into ‘the negotiator’.

“The pleasures all mine my dear Obi-wan, I’ve missed you.”

Of course. Obi-wan had almost been able to forget the time he spent with Ventress and Alpha-17 on Rattatak. Almost.

 She let the cloak drop from her shoulders and pulled the two sabers from their clasps, igniting them in a dramatic flair of blood red.

He followed suit, igniting his own.

Obi-wan had – mixed feelings about Ventress. She had killed innocents, tortured Alpha-17, committed atrocities. But in the end, she had been, ok. For a darksider. He had met her once after everything, in a bar on Tatooine as he tried to drink himself to death. She could have turned him in, fetched a hefty reward from the empire for her service.

Instead, she had bought him a drink.

He opened his mouth in an attempt to solve things peacefully when Anakin blurred past him, blue connecting with red. He sighed, but that was Anakin for you, ever on the move. Thinking with his heart instead of his head.

Obi-wan shot forward, blocking a blow that otherwise would have connected with his padawans side. Honestly that boy, never aware of his surroundings.

Ventress threw herself backwards, landing nimbly in a crouch, sabers spread out behind her like wings.

“My loyal informant let me know you were coming.” She purred, smiling cruelly.

That was good. If she was telling them about Slick, then she didn’t know he was already being hunted down. She didn’t know they were aware of her trap. Obi-wan was starting to think this plan wasn’t so crazy after all.

“Well then we thank you for your hospitality.” He said and ignored Anakin rolling his eyes.

Mature, Anakin.

They jumped forward again as one and Ventress twisted, bringing her blades up to meet them. He recognized Dooku’s favored form of Makashi at once. But the thing that caught his attention most was the underlying ferocity beneath each move. The barely noticeable forms of the Nightsisters.

“Tell me ventress,” He began throwing all of his weight behind his saber and forcing her backwards. “What would your mother think of you now?”

She growled and suddenly Anakin was falling backwards, off balance. A force push. She brought both her sabers down on his fallen form and Obi-wan leapt forward, intercepting the strike intended for his head.

“Is this what she would have wanted for you?” he asked, as though remarking on the weather.

“You know nothing, Jedi.”

“Really? Because I have met her you know.”

The cunning grin slid off her face and her eyes widened. Her sabers slipped downwards slightly as her grip on the relaxed and Obi-wan took the opportunity to push her towards the set of carved turquoise stairs, ignoring Anakin’s almost frantic questioning through the bond.

“She loved you, did you know?”

He was almost surprised when he figured it out, but it was true. Mother Talzin, for all her faults, truly did care about her daughters. The Nightsisters were a family, no matter how twisted and dark.

“You know nothing Jedi Scum!” she repeated. The snarl that adorned her face was nothing sort of savage, but there was a vulnerability in her eyes, hesitation in her moves.

“I know she would have wanted better for you. You have failed her.” He was vaguely aware of Anakin hovering beside him, confusion radiating from his force presence. He didn’t have time to focus on that though because Ventress’ expression sharpened again, the weakness she had previously displayed wiped clean.

“It was her who failed ME! She gave me up, threw me away like I was nothing. The Sith taught me power, power that you want to take!” She didn’t seem to know who to convince of this, Obi-wan or herself.

“That may be so, but I don’t want to kill you.” He was momentarily shocked to find that it was true. Despite everything she had done, he didn’t want to kill her.

Confusion slid over her face so quickly that Obi-wan almost missed it. But then she smiled again, that coy little smirk.

“Your compassion is your weakness,” She drawled, “It will destroy you.”

(His eyes are yellow, oh force they’re yellow.)

(Where is Cody? He’s falling. Why is he falling? Down down down down down downdowndown.)

(I’m sorry master. I’m not coming back.)

“It already has.”

He sprung into motion, Anakin by his side as always. Together they advanced on the Sith acolyte, blending blue into red into blue. Obi-wan shifted forms. Soresu Ataru. She was quick, but together they could be in two places at once, their bond making it easy to predict the others actions and move in sink.

He had missed this. This easy trust between them.

The blue of Anakin’s saber swung forward, missing Ventress by an inch. She clenched her teeth and turned, bolting up the set of stairs to the second floor.

Anakin turned and grinned at him, Obi-wan could only nod grimly back. They followed her up.

It took a minute for his eyes to adjust to the new setting. In the center of the floor, Asajj ventress sat cross legged on the floor, sabers resting in her lap. She appeared to be calm as a breeze on a Summers day. But Obi-wan knew better than to trust appearances.

“Give up Ventress!” he called out to her.

“I’m all yours Obi-wan,”

Anakin shot forward and Obi-wan shot out an arm, barely managing to work out an “Anakin no!” before ventress turned her sabers on and the floor disappeared from underneath them.

“You’ve served your purpose, it’s too late now. So hard to know whom to trust this day, isn’t it?”

Anakin was grinning next to him and Obi-wan sent him a mental poke. He was going to give them away.

“You’ve overestimated your abilities my sweet,” he accused as Anakin’s face fell blank.

Ventress, fortunately didn’t seem to notice this byplay and instead seemed amused by his statement.

“Really?” She asked, oozing sarcasm.

Anakin pressed the button attached to his sleeve. He waited a second. Two seconds. Three.

Come on, what was taking them so long, he couldn’t stall forever.

“Really.”

At that moment an alarm sounded from within the base and the smirk fell from Ventress’ face. And so it begins.

“It looks like we’ve outdone you this time my dear.”

She snarled, but didn’t move towards them, instead turning towards the window. She smashed it open with the force and leapt out into the night.

And he thought Anakin was dramatic.

Briefly, he entertained going after her. Best not. Maybe with some time to stew on what he’d told her she would be more agreeable. If only she had somehow managed to keep her three years of self-improvement.

Shame.

Plus, she was at the center of the attack. She may get stopped by an army of clones yet.

“Come on master, we’ve got a battle to win.” Anakin teased as clone troopers streamed in from the doors.

Obi-wan wasn’t going to argue, he was right after all.

“You have the charges?”

Anakin nodded, still grinning madly.

“Then whatever are you waiting for?”


Denal considered himself to be rather competent. Not particularly intelligent, not a genius, but capable. A perfectly average, perfectly capable clone. After all, you didn’t make it through both kamino and geonosis by being anything different. And because he was competent and rational, he knew that this mission was never going to work. They were going to get caught out and killed. He was honestly surprised they had made it as far as they had when it was nothing short of suicide.

The problem with being a competent clone was that too often, you were dismissed as cannon fodder. Now don’t get him wrong, that was what clones were born and bred to be, but Denal thought that point of view was rather – limiting. Clones were born to die, but they were raised to fight. It was all Denal had ever known, fighting in simulations, in deserts, in battles, fighting to survive. Fighting to die. And when you had been fighting as long as Denal had, you picked up a few things.

It was abundantly clear that the Jedi had not been fighting as long as Denal.

They were inexperienced, unqualified, and really not that much better than a shiny. At least shinies had some training, however fake or simulated. The Jedi, as Denal had found out, had no grounding whatsoever in the art of warfare. In their own words, they were peacekeepers, not General’s. He had thought at first that Kenobi was at least smart about the situation, he seemed to know exactly what he was doing in everything he did. And then he proposed this plan and Denal wasn’t so sure anymore.

As he waded through the sewage pipes that ran beneath the great crystal buildings, only one thought swirled round and round in his head.

I’m going to die here, covered in shit and piss.

It certainly wasn’t the best way to die. It wasn’t dying in glory on the battlefield or slipping away with a drink in your hand and a wife on your shoulder. But if he thought about it, it wasn’t the worst way to die either. After all he was ‘serving his republic’ and ‘fighting off evil’ and all that other osik. Only the republic had never been his and he had grown up surrounded by evil. After facing the Kaminiise every day of his damn life, the separatists were nothing more than stray mutts.  

That was another thing about being competent. He understood his place in the world. Understood what it meant to be a slave. It was almost funny; the republic had managed to convince their slaves that they wanted to be dying for them. That they were meant to be dying for them. If Denal was not so cynical, he may have thought the same thing.

But Denal was cynical. Cynical and competent. The two traits that kept him alive.

For how much longer was still to be seen.

“You set the charges yet?” Koho’s voice echoed up the pipe.

For some reason that he still couldn’t puzzle out, Captain Rex had stayed behind at base to catch the spy and had put Denal, of all clones, in charge of the operation. Which first of all, was slightly terrifying. And second of all, was a pain in the shebs. Honestly, he wondered how Rex managed. Screw Rex, how in the name of the force did Marshal Commander Cody manage? Denal had only been in charge for a maximum of 3 hours, and he was already getting migraines.

“Charges are set, we wait for the signal.”

Another one of General Kenobi’s brilliant ideas. Blow up the enemy whilst they’re distracted by the two Jedi. Sure. That will work. It wasn’t like the plan was stupid and full of holes, containing no less than seven major flaws. The first of which being that it relied entirely on the fact that the enemy wouldn’t know they were coming. And since Denal knew there was a spy running around somewhere, he wasn’t convinced of that fact. Sure, Rex and Cody were supposed to be dealing with it, but anything could go wrong.

They could fail to catch him.

He could belong to another squad

He could have already sent out the message.

Okay, maybe he was overthinking a little. He trusted Rex; he was Denal’s captain after all. But overthinking had kept him alive so far, so he’d keep analyzing every possible outcome.

Although, here, crouching in sewage water waiting on a signal that he wasn’t sure he would ever receive, it was hard to believe it would do him any good.

The seconds ticked by in an orderly fashion and Denal mentally mapped out the timeline. If he was correct, then the Jedi should be in the main base by now, out of range of the blast. They should be distracting the Sith acolyte, buying time for the ground team to set the rest of the charges and get the kriff out of there.

“Sir!” Koho called. Force did Denal hate being called ‘sir’. It made him feel all important. But he turned to look anyway. The light on his arm was flashing. Two blinks, then stop. Two blinks, then stop.

The signal.

Well I’ll be damned, Denal thought, we may just survive this yet.

“That’s our signal boys, light her up!”

All at once, they set off their charges.

The muffled boom shook in his ears and the sewage pipe rumbled. Dust streaked down from the ceiling. For a brief, panicked moment Denal thought it was going to come down on them. But it didn’t, it stayed just where it was. For once, he was glade for his helmet. That dust would have stung like hell if it had gotten in his eyes.

Wayii, this might just work.

He shoved the butt of his blaster upwards, forcing the drain upwards and off.

“Come on boys, we’ve got a war to win.” He shouted down the line before hauling himself up onto the crystal paved streets of Christophsis.

If I survive this, I owe one General Kenobi a drink. Or maybe he owes me.

The thought was so bizarre he had to laugh. The pinnacle of a competent, rational clone.

Chapter Text

"Greed and fear of loss are the roots that lead to the tree of evil" - season 1, episode 13

 

Cody wasn’t upset that he had been left behind to catch the mole. He wasn’t. Afterall, this was crucial to the mission. If the traitor wasn’t caught, and caught fast, then the whole attack could be in jeopardy.

Still, he couldn’t help himself from thinking about his men, out there in the field.

The only thing he could do to protect them from here was catch the damn spy and that was going oh so brilliantly.

Cody would have very much liked to weed out the traitor himself, but he figured he would let Rex have a go of it first. For now, he would watch. A passive observer. A familiar face (Ha).

“I – I dunno. I was doing the things I always do after a mission.” The clone - jester, Cody’s mind supplied – was saying, twitching slightly under Rex’s unwavering gaze.

“Things like what?” Rex had his arms crossed over his torso, towering over the sitting clone. The very definition of intimidating. I taught him well.

Jester audibly gulped and Cody had to squish the small smirk that tried to form on his lips. It was almost concerning how much he enjoyed messing with shiny’s. Maybe it was unfair, they were probably the only living thing with a lower status than him, but it was just too easy.

“I’m sorry sir, I’m just a little nervous.” He leaned forward “You’re my CO.” jester whispered, as though confiding some great secret.

“The way I figure it, you tell the truth, you’ve got nothing to be nervous about.”

“Jester is telling the truth. Cleans his weapon after every mission. First thing every time. He’s kind of obsessed that way.” A clone cut in from across the room. Well, at least they were supporting each other. There was nothing like a little trauma to bring a team together. He could speak from experience, Geonosis was one hell of a team building exercise.

“Is that right? You were cleaning your weapon?” Cody asked. Yes, he was an observer, but it seemed Rex was playing bad cop, which left a fairly obvious role for himself.

“Yessir!” Jester snapped to attention. As much of a headache as being a commander was, it had its uses on occasion. Respect being one of those things, but his daily ration of caff was much appreciated. Even if it did taste like watered down cardboard mixed with dirt.

“Go on the computer while you were in here?” he asked, glancing at the machine on his left. If he had used it, if he had so much as turned it on, they would be able to check. Catch him out on a lie.

“No Sir, I dint even power it up. You can check.” Jester said. He caught Rex’s eye. Oh, they would check. But for now, he would let it go. After all, he was supposed to be playing good cop.

“Show me your weapon.” He demanded in a barely passable imitation of a ‘good cop’. Despite how long he had served under the general, he had not learned much of the negotiator’s way of negotiating. He never had been one for small talk. He preferred to get straight to things. Of all the things Cody hated about General Skywalker, his direct attitude was the thing he hated least.

The clone took the blaster from the floor and passed it to Cody, and he cast a critical eye over it.

“Yup, freshly scrubbed.” And it was. Perfectly clean and polished to perfection. Not too different from Cody’s own blaster and in any other situation, he would almost be impressed. Almost.

“My rags over there in the corner.” Jester finished, gesturing to a dirty cloth over by the wall. Well, one clone down.

“Good man. You. You were cleaning your weapon too?” Cody asked, abruptly turning to the clone on his left. That was probably a little too aggresive for the so called ‘good cop’.

“No, I was hungry. I went back to the mess.” The clone said. Well, that wasn’t annoying at all, there would have been other clones in the mess to verify the story. Except they all had the same face, and this batch was a bunch of shiny’s wearing matching amour, clean as you please. So no, it wasn’t at all annoying.

“Right away?” Rex asked and Cody turned his attention back to the issue at hand. Getting distracted was not helpful to anyone.

“Oh yeah.” The clone confirmed, nodding almost frantically.

“Anyone with ya?”

“Sketch sir.” The clone gestured to the clone next to him, and Cody’s eyes followed the movement.

“We got to the mess at the same time, got our grub and sat together.” Sketch recounted, ticking off each action like items on a shopping list. It seemed that was two more clones accounted for, unless they were both lying.

“Anyone else in the mess able to confirm what you two are sayin?” Rex asked, seeming to read Cody’s thoughts. I really did teach him well.

“Lots of guys there, ask any of them.” Sketch said and Rex’s face darkened into a scowl.

“Oh, we will.”

He really wasn’t going easy on the shiny’s. Cody approved.

“Captain,” Slick interrupted, placing a hand on Rex’s shoulder, “give me just a moment with them – “

“No.” Rex cut off immediately, and Cody agreed. It was possible that Slick was trying to cover for one of his squad. After all, the vode were loyal to not only the republic, but to each other as well.

“It’s okay sarge,” the clone next in line for inspection appeased, “I got nothing to hide, I was in the infirmary,” he gestured to his arm, swathed in bandages that were stained slightly with the telltale rust brown of dried blood. “Got banged up pretty good by one of those clankers, med droid was fixing me up.”

Cody leant down to examine the bandage. It was all too easy to fake a wound, but the tight gauze was easily recognizable as Bones’ handy work.

“Doc’s got all the records there, if you wanna check.” The clone finished, and Cody backed away, satisfied with the answer.

“So, chopper ol’ boy, what’s your alibi?” Rex started again, continuing their interrogation.

“I was in the mess hall – “

“No you weren’t! – I – I mean–“ The clone who interrupted stuttered off, looking suddenly unsure of himself. That wasn’t good, whatever he knew was clearly damning. Maybe he needed a little bit of encouragement.

“If you know something kid, you should speak up” He urged, hoping it would be enough to spur the shiny into action.

“Chopper came in a lot later, after everyone else” the clone added lamely, looking awkward and ashamed of ratting out his brother. Poor bastard.

“Where were you before you went to the mess Chopper?” Rex asked, leaning into the whole ‘bad cop’ thing.

“Nowhere, walking around.” Chopper said vaguely, shrugging his shoulders. Cody did not like that attitude. If this was Kamino, he would have been sent straight to decommissioning.

“Son, you know we need a better answer than that.” Cody said in what he hoped was a passable imitation of ‘good cop’ though it was hard to keep the bite out of his words.

“I was hiding, at the south exit, didn’t want anyone to see me string these together” chopper admitted, holding up the sad and crumpled remains of a clanker.

“Battle droid fingers.” Rex identified. That was – not good. Being caught with contraband. If this was Kamino, that would be enough of an indication to be marked ‘defective’. Bu the shiny’s hadn’t spent as long on Kamino as Cody. They hadn’t been there in the first few years, back when the prime was there. They hadn’t seen what the Kaminisse were truly capable of.

Cody was almost glad for that.

“I – I just wanted something back. I guess I felt like – like they owed me.” Chopper said, clutching the metal in his hands hard enough to draw a line of blood.

Cody could almost – understand. Fighting for the republic was not as glamorous as the propaganda made it out to be, and the position of a clone in society was not one to boast about.

“I always knew there was something deficient about you.” A clone cut in, dragging Cody from his thoughts

“This isn’t good chopper, lying about where you were? Taking forbidden items from a battlefield?” Slick said, closing the distance between himself and the clone.

“I know.”

“I put up with the attitude cause you have skill, but if you could break these rules? Your whole characters in question here.” Slick accused, voice raising in anger. If it had been one of Cody’s batchmates, he would have reacted the same way.

“Wait – no. Hang on, I’m no spy!” Chopper insisted, an edge of desperation creeping into his voice. Every clone knew what would happen if you betrayed the republic, even if they hadn’t spent that long on Kamino.

“Chopper, we’re all brothers but how can we trust anything you say now?”

“No! Sir, I’m telling you, I did not -!” Chopper insisted, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. Traitors were not kindly taken to among clones. Among anyone really, but it felt different when it was family.

“It’s okay, we’ll get you a proper investigation. You don’t need to say anything until the jedi get back and talk to you.” Slick assured. Cody almost nodded before his brain caught up. Until the jedi get back. Only they weren’t supposed to know the jedi were gone.

He signaled subtly to Rex and received a barely perceptible nod in response. Message received.

“Maybe you should talk sir! Tell ‘em where you went! I was the south exit, remember? I saw you go in sir, I saw you.

“Chopper, I have been patient – “

“Everyone else turned right, towards the barracks and the mess, you turned left, toward the command center. Where were you going – sir?” Chopper spat, and Cody had to admire the kids’ guts. Shouting at someone in command of you was one hell of a move to make when under suspicion of treason, but considering the facts available to him, things weren’t looking so good for ol’ Slick.

“Obviously the kid feels cornered.”

“Sergeant, what did you mean ‘until the jedi get back’ how did you know the jedi were gone?” Cody asked, finally voicing the thought that had been swirling around in his head. Next to him, Rex was wound like a spring. Ready to shoot into action at the first hint of battle.

“I really wish you hadn’t noticed that sir.” Slick said, attempting to back up.

And then he sprang forward, barreling straight into Cody and past him. Rex brought the barrel of his gun down, missing Slick by a hair’s breadth.

We’re going to lose him, Cody thought as he turned to face the traitor, but as Slick reached the door, something white slammed into him.

Chopper.


He knew as soon as that idiot barreled into him, he had messed up. Armour clashed with armour, a fist landed on his face and suddenly they were sprawled on the floor. As hit after hit landed on the bloodied mess of Slicks nose, all he could think about was how severely he had miscalculated. And as the Marshall commander pulled the screaming clone away, towering over him and forcing cuffs on his wrists, Slick took a moment to review.

There were a few things that Slick knew for certain.

He was a slave to the republic.

He could be free with the separatists.

There was no mercy for traitors.

These three things had been the constants of his life for a while now. It was what he had based his grand plan on. The promise of freedom, revenge for his brothers, and a fuck you to the republic that had enslaved them.

So yes, he had miscalculated.

He had thought the Jedi too naïve, too new to command to notice anything unusual. They were untrained, weak. But Slick? He had been hiding his whole life. In and out of shadows, away from the Kaminnise, away from the prying eyes of his brothers who judged him as he smuggled contraband into dorms, away from the enemy opposite him. Away from the enemy beside him.

It was- regrettable that his brothers had been caught up in the crossfire, but unavoidable.

They were blind. All of them. They couldn’t see what was right in front of them, their own enslavement. But Slick could. Slick could see it all.

Except he hadn’t. He had missed the Jedi’s discovery of his treachery. He had underestimated them.

They were going to kill him. It was what they did with traitors. Well, that’s not entirely true, he thought. After all, you can’t kill a clone, only decommission one.

That didn’t make it any less terrifying.

The cell they had put him in was small, damp, and stuffy. The perfect place to review his mistakes and do some soul searching. If he even had a soul to search. But he didn’t want to do that, no. There were bigger things to do, bigger things to plan. The separatist knew who he was now, the republic recognized him as a traitor. His options were few and thinning, but they were there.

He reached a hand to his nose and immediately drew it back, hissing. That bastard. Slick had put up with all his shit and this was how he was repaid, a black and blue face dripping with blood. He can’t be sure, but he thinks Cody stalled a bit on purpose before pulling chopper away. He was sadistic like that.

The pain wasn’t unwelcomed though, it fueled his fire, brought him back to the present and helped clear his mind. It was familiar

All he needed was the right opportunity.

And who knew, with all the peace loving Bantha-shit the republic and the jedi were pulling, maybe they wouldn’t even execute – sorry – decommission him.

After all, they were the ‘good side’. Blinded by their own ambition and brought down by the weakness of their compassion. A false thing that clawed its way out of coruscant slums.

That seemed rather optimistic for the way Slicks luck had been going. He may as well hope for a krayt dragon to miraculously burst through the cell walls and carry him to safety before turning back to destroy the republic and sleep in its ruins.

No matter.

He still had time until the Jedi returned.

If they kept him alive, he would have even more. All he had to do was wait.

A game he was all too familiar with.

Speaking of games-

“Hey Crys!” He called out, and the clone guard sighed.

“Cody says not to talk to traitors.” He said shortly, turning back to his stiff ‘I’m a big clone see’ position.

Well, if Cody said, god forbid you go against him.” Slick grumbled. He hated the guy, but slick envied the way he could control people. Slick had never managed to control his squad in the same way Cody had reigned over his. And Cody hadn’t even used fear that often, he used respect.

“What say we play a little game you and me,” he said, continuing on when Cry’s stubbornly ignored him. “It’s not a hard game, it’s pretty easy. And you don’t even have to talk to me to play it, just like Cody said.”

That got a reaction, a small one, but a reaction, nonetheless. A quiver of amour, a stiffening of positions, the creak of a gun being gripped tighter.

“It’s called ‘Graveyard’ and its simple. All you need to do is stand there and listen while I list the names of all our brothers that the republic has sacrificed for their peace.” He said spitting out the last word like it was comprised of poison. The little rattle of armor almost too faint to hear gave him satisfaction that some may have called sick or twisted.

“Are you ready?”

No answer. That was fine, he wasn’t expecting one. The shaking figure of his brother was enough of a response for slick.

“Now, where should we start? How about Epsilon Company?”

He smiled; Slick had been waiting for a moment like this. A chance to make them all see the hell they were living in.

“Scorcher, Spark, Buck, Griff, Hop-“

He settled down in the corner as he rattled off name after name. It was going to be a long night.

Chapter Text

"Belief is not a matter of choice, but of conviction." - Season 1, episode 2

 

When Obi-wan returned to the base, it was to the sound of celebration and merriment. Not that he could blame the clones, they had just won the battle with extraordinarily few casualties. They had caught the traitor, defeated the enemy, and completed their mission. What more was there?

If only they knew…

But they didn’t. couldn’t. How could anyone have predicted the future to come. The impossibilities that were anything but. It was no use worrying about that now. It was all in the past, or future, whatever way you wanted to look at it.

He had to find Cody.

He knew that Slick was found out, detained, shoved into a room to act as a makeshift cell. And Obi-wan desperately needed to talk to him. Because this was where it all started. The first republic clone to betray them. It was unlikely that Slick knew anything, but it was worth a shot. In all honesty, Obi-wan didn’t know where else to start.

He approached Boil as the clone joked with Waxer. He hated the way they shrunk in his presence, how when they saw him, they turned back into ‘clones’ instead of ‘individual people’. He smiled as encouragingly as possible, but still the force quivered with their worry.

“General Sir!” Boil called, snapping a salute and stiffening up. He really had to work on that. He would just have to show the clones that he would never hurt them, never allow them to be hurt the way they had been.

(But he did, he couldn’t save them all. He tried, he tried so hard. But he couldn’t – couldn’t-)

“No need for that Boil, I was only wondering if you knew where I might find commander Cody.” He said, raising his hands as though placating a teenage Anakin.

Now there’s no need for that, he used to say as Anakin stormed around in a huff, release your emotions to the force dear one, do not let them control you.

“He’s watching the traitor, sir.” Waxer interrupted, and Obi-wan nodded his thanks. That was convenient, though unsurprising. Cody probably felt responsible for Slicks actions and was likely giving himself extra work to make up for his perceived ‘failures’. At the end of the war, Obi-wan had sometimes managed to pull him out of that way of thinking. Sometimes.

“I’m afraid I must leave you to celebrate alone then, we have some things to discuss.”

“Sir!”

And with that, he offered them a friendly wave and wandered off to find his dear commander. Not that it was going to be hard, Obi-wan knew exactly where he was. His force presence was a hard thing to miss.

The walk to the makeshift dungeon was short, and it filled him with nostalgia. The men celebrating around him, the thrum of victory in the air, it was all so familiar. He found himself wondering once again what this was. Why this was, even. It couldn’t be a hallucination. It was too real, and the force was too bright, too easy to grasp. As for an afterlife or a Sith mind game –

“General?”

Cody’s voice broke him from his thoughts, and he smiled at the clone in question. “Cody! Just the man I was looking for, it appears that you have caught our spy.” The smirk that slipped onto his face was instinctual, the persona of the negotiator feeling like a second skin.

“Yessir.” And of course, the one-word answers were unavoidable. Obi-wan knew that Cody had spent his time on Kamino being brainwashed into believing he was expendable and unimportant. That didn’t dull the sting in the least.

“I think perhaps I should have a little talk with him,” He felt Cody tense and quickly remembered that at this stage in the war, a private talk between a general and a treasonous clone could only go one way for the clone. “Just a talk,” He quickly added, “I need to gather some information. Then he may be transferred back to coruscant and imprisoned for his crimes against the republic.”

The way Cody’s presence sagged in relief would be comical in any other situation. But despite his rough exterior, Cody cared for his brothers more than anything. And even after everything he had done, Obi-wan knew that Slick still counted.

“Of course General, he’s in here.” Cody gestured to the door behind him and hands Obi-wan a keycard. “Rex is in there at the moment, guard duty.” He added.

Obi-wan took a deep breath and silently prayed to the force. He asked for courage, to face whatever this was. He asked for hope, a sign that he could fix things. But more than anything, he begged for answers. Why had the clones betrayed the jedi? What was this place he was in? Why was he here?

He slid the keycard into the door.

The room was dark. It took a second for his eyes to adjust, but when they did, he was faced with the bloodied mess of what was once Slicks face. His nose was crooked, broken most likely and the dried blood had caked around it. His lip was split, and both his eyes were bruised. The cut on his forehead oozed blood sluggishly.

Well, that was certainly different from the first time.

He noticed Rex next, leaning against a wall in the corner. He could feel a barely perceptible tremor in his emotions. Perhaps it was something Slick had said to him.

“Well, well, well, if it isn’t the jedi come to visit a lowly traitor.” Slicks voice dripped with sickly poison and irony. Obi-wan had heard the gossip, about how it was Chopper who had taken him down this time. Obi-wan didn’t know what he had changed to cause that, but it must have been something.

“I think it best we have a little chat. Captain Rex, I do believe it best I talk with him alone.” He hated that he had to make Rex leave, but it was for the best. Perhaps he could even gain some more trust from the clone captain when Slick was no worse for ware after the mock interrogation. The guilt still burned in his throat when Rex left stiffly, a hint of panic roiling beneath his calm. It would be fine. Obi-wan could still feel Cody outside the room, at least Rex would have him to lean on.

“Now then,” He began, turning to slick, “I do believe we have some things to discuss.”

Slick stared ahead at the wall, showing no signs of having heard Obi-wan speak. But Obi-wan didn’t need words to understand people. He had the force after all, and it was whispering at him to have patience. After all, good things come to those who wait.

After a few minutes of silence, Slick turned to face him. “If you’re going to kill me, you may as well get on with it.”

“I’m not here to kill you Slick. I’m here for answers.” The clone in question scoffed, letting loose an ironic laugh.

“Sure, and I’m considered a person under republic law. Not like I got any answers to give you anyways.”

“Now, I’m not sure that’s true. Let’s start simple. Why did you betray the republic?”

“BECAUSE THEY BETRAYED ME!” Slick shouted, shoving himself to his feet, righteous anger burning beneath his skin. Immediately, all of the energy roiling beneath his snarky facade drained from him. He sat back down again, and Obi-wan got the impression that he hadn’t meant to say that. In fact, Obi-wan was sure he had planned on saying nothing at all. There was so much hatred in him, mixed with pain and fear. And that was never a good combination for anyone.

“I didn’t want to be a slave anymore,” Slick began again, much quieter this time, “I didn’t want to die for a republic that saw me as nothing more than cannon fodder.”

“And there was no other reason?” Obi-wan pushed, but it seemed that Slick was done talking. He had gone back to staring listlessly at the wall. There was something almost defeated about him, and not for the first time, Obi-wan felt a sort of sympathy for the man. And he was that – a man. Not just a clone, or a traitor, but a man in a terrible position.

“You will be transferred to coruscant in the morning to be imprisoned for your crimes. Until then, I suggest you get some rest.” He said almost softly before taking his leave.

When he passed Cody and Rex in the corridor, he couldn’t meet their eyes.

That night, he dreamt of blood and death. There were younglings on the floor of the temple. They weren’t breathing. But then everything seemed to melt away and he was falling down a hole on Utapau. People were screaming all around him.

And when he plunged into the icy water beneath him, he sunk into its depths. The further he sank, the darker it became. Until he reached the corpse.

Until he reached Cody.

“You did this.” The clone said, and the sound echoed around him in the darkness.

You did this. You did this. You did this.


The morning came slowly, the seconds crawling past. After waking up multiple times in a cold sweat, Obi-wan had given up the prospect of sleep. Instead, he had gone over paperwork, familiarized himself with current events and political climates, watched the hands of the clock tick past at an agonizing pace, and brewed a very strong cup of caff.

It was still early when the transport with Slick took off.

He walked down to see them off, wish the clones safe passage and (hopefully) boost morale. After all, despite the merriment of the previous night, the clones had lost a brother. Not to death, but to something that was considered much worse by many.

The atmosphere of the camp was somber, a stark contrast to the celebrations of victory that had taken place only hours before. People were milling about as usual, flashes of white armor passing to and from tasks but stopping every now and then to steal a glance at the ship taking off.

“General?” A small voice asked, and he turned around to face Waxer. He was a ball of nervous energy, practically shaking in his boots.

“Yes waxer, what can I do for you?” The smile he bore was only slightly forced.

“Uhm, what are they going to do – I mean to say, what will happen to him? Slick I mean?”

Of course. Ever compassionate Waxer, with a heart big enough for the galaxy itself. He still remembered little Numa on Ryloth.

“He will be taken back to coruscant and imprisoned for his crimes.” He answered patiently, clapping a steadying hand on waxers shoulder. It was the only comfort he could offer.

“So they’re not going to -?”

“No Waxer, they’re not going to kill him.”

All of the nervous energy rushed out of the man at once. For a minute, Obi-wan thought he was going to collapse from sheer relief. Once more, he took a moment to admire the sense of family and community that the clones had built. He supposed that when you only had your brothers to rely on, that sense of loyalty was unavoidable.

“That’s – thank you, general.”

It was perhaps the sincerest thank you Obi-wan had ever received. He grinned; waxer grinned back. For a moment, Obi-wan was back in time in the future. Waxer and Boil were grinning sheepishly as they tried to hide a cowering Numa behind them.

“You are most welcome.”

The walls around the clones were slowly crumbling. Little by little, he would just have to prove himself to them. He would just have to prove that he saw them all as people and not canon fodder or slaves.

And maybe this time, they wouldn’t turn on him. Maybe this time they would help him.

His thoughts were cut off by Cody striding up beside him.

“General, a ship from the temple on coruscant is requesting permission to land, they’re codes check out.”

“Very well. Is it reinforcements?”

“No sir, it – well. It appears to be a child.”

A – child?

But what would a child be doing on christophsis of all places, unless…

Ahsoka.

And so it begins.

Chapter Text

"What is lost is often found." - Season 6, Episode 10

 

Obi-wan had forgotten. How on earth had he managed to forget?

Of course, now he was all too aware that he was about to be re-introduced to his Grandpadawan. It was kind of hard to ignore that fact when the familiar ship that contained her anxious and tightly wound force signature came into land. But he had forgotten that this was where she was first paired with Anakin, in the middle of a war zone on Christophsis of all places.

He had never found out what had happened to her after.

Sometimes he dreamt about her off in the stars, living her own life, helping the rebellion. It was easier to pretend that she had survived. He was, of course, fully aware that she was probably dead. Killed by her friends aboard the Tribunal. Sometimes, on the worst of days he would have nightmares about captain Rex holding a blaster to her head, around him the other clones would stand and watch, armor still painted with Ahsoka’s markings.

And still he was left with the crucial question of why.

The cruiser landed, sending a whoosh of air forward. The door hissed as it opened, and he watched as a pair of red boots came into view. Her feet clacked on the metal ramp as she came down it and-

Force, she was so much younger than he remembered.

Her Lekku barely reached her shoulders, their markings far less distinguished. The youthfulness in her face was unshaded by the horrors of war. The Akul teeth headdress she wore still held her padawan beads and only one lightsaber hung from her hip instead of the two he had grown used to seeing. And that impractical outfit – he had forgotten about that completely.

She looked nothing like the confident young woman he had last seen. But the foundations were there, in the determined glint in her eyes and the slant of her mouth. He had been so proud of her, for carving her own path. It was one of his biggest regrets, that he had not been able to tell her.

(I’m Sorry master, I’m not coming back)

Vaguely, he wanted to Cry. He had failed her too. The council wouldn’t listen to him, Obi-wan had tried to make them see reason, but he was powerless to stop her expulsion. Especially after he had run off to Mandalore, the council would have accused him of being too attached. They would have separated him from Anakin and-

 Your just making excuses, the voice in the back of his head whispered. And it was right. He should have done more, tried harder, consequences be damned. Ahsoka was his grandpadawan. It had been his duty to protect her.

Anakin was right to hate me.

He steeled himself as she approached, shoring up his mental shields until he was sure that none of his grief would slip through the cracks. Surely, she would not be able to sense it, being young as she was, but there was always a possibility. Even if this was some Sith trick, or even a bizarre afterlife, his grief would bring her nothing but confusion and pain. And he had caused her enough suffering for two lifetimes as it was.

“And who are you supposed to be?” Came Anakin’s questioning voice. He couldn’t help but smile slightly. It seemed somethings would never change.

“I’m Ahsoka? Master Yoda sent me.”

Force, she even sounded young. Of course, she did. If his memory served him correctly, and that was questionable after all these years, she was only fourteen. Why had they allowed her on the battlefield? Why had they all just accepted this?

“I was told to tell both of you that you must get back to the Jedi temple immediately. There’s an emergency. Master Yoda hadn’t heard from you, so he sent me to deliver the message.” She said, twisting her hands together nervously.

Ah, yes. Obi-wan remembered the mission to Teth In a vague sort of way. Compared to some of the battles that lay ahead of him, Jabba’s son hardly seemed to matter. It was all so trivial when put into perspective.

“Yes, our communications have been rather unreliable.” He told her, smiling in what he hoped was an encouraging way. Before everything changed, he had considered her as much his padawan as Anakin’s. After all, he had been the one to put in a request for a new student. And then, of course, he had failed her. Just like everyone else.

“Maybe you can relay a signal through the cruiser that just dropped me off?” She suggested and he couldn’t help the burst of pride that ran through him. Always so clever.

“That is an excellent idea young one, but first I believe we should introduce ourselves properly. I am master Obi-wan Kenobi, it is a pleasure to meet you.” He said and she smiled nervously back at him.

“I’m Ahsoka Tano, the new padawan learner, at your service.” She returned, bowing deeply. Obi-wan counted the seconds in his head as he waited for Anakin to comprehend that statement.

“Wait, wait, wait. Padawan learner?” -There we go - “You didn’t tell me you put in a request for a new padawan mast- “

“Actually,” Ahsoka cut in, “I’ve been assigned to Knight Skywalker.”

If only Obi-wan had had the sense to take a Holo. Though, he was certain he would never forget the look of mixed surprise and horror on his poor padawans face.

“What! No, no, no, no, no. There must be some mistake.”

“Master Yoda was very specific; I’m assigned to Anakin Skywalker, and he is to supervise my jedi training.”

“But that – never mind. We’ll deal with this later; we have to get that signal up and running.” Anakin said, impatience tinging his voice before he stalked off, probably to sulk somewhere private. Or to try and get that signal through the ship and give poor master Yoda an earful. It was fifty-fifty.

Ahsoka deflated as he left. He knew that feeling, oh he knew that feeling intimately. He thought of all the masters who had rejected him, thought of being shipped off to Bandomeer and the rocky start of his padawanship with Qui-Gon.

“Do not fear young one,” he consoled, “Anakin will come around, you must have patience. My Master did not want to take me originally either, but I have found that things have a way of working themselves out.”

The lie tasted like ash in his mouth, but it earned another short smile and a ‘thank you master’ from Ahsoka so he supposed he could be forgiven for it.

“So…. master Skywalker…. didn’t know he was getting me?” She asked after a moment, eyes flicking upwards to meet his and then back down again. Goodness, Ahsoka being shy was something he’d never get used to.

“I don’t believe so young one, but do not worry. I do believe the two of you will be well matched.” He said, almost cringing at the many disasters the two had gotten themselves into and out of.

 Obi-wan had never known why Yoda had paired Anakin and Ahsoka together, whether it was to teach Anakin a lesson or to sow some societal chaos. Either way, they were a good team. If only it had been enough-


“Master Kenobi, glad Ahsoka found you I am.”

It was strange seeing Yoda again. He had still been alive of course, in the end. He was one of the few Jedi who were. But still, the last time they had spoken was before Mustufar. Before he had killed his brother and watched Vader rise from his ashes.

“As am I, Master. She has had quite the trip.” He said, allowing some criticism to seep into his voice. Maybe he shouldn’t have. Before, he had obeyed the councils every word, scared that they would suddenly see how unfit he was to care for Anakin and separate them. But everything was different now. He had seen where obeying orders thoughtlessly had gotten him, and it wasn’t very far.

Yoda’s ears drooped.

Good.

Obi-wan still didn’t know what he had been thinking, sending a fourteen-year-old into an active war zone with only a few clones and a lightsaber for defense.

(He doesn’t think of himself, stranded on Melida/Daan at fourteen. No Clones to look out for him, no lightsaber for protection, no hope of winning the civil war that lay ahead of him. And yet -)

“A mission for you, we have.”

Ahsoka perked up beside him, clearly excited by the idea of a real mission instead of whatever she had been doing in the creche. Obi-wan had felt the same at her age, ready to get out and see the world.

Anakin on the other hand, was still sulking in the corner. Obi-wan had pulled him aside for a talk after what he had said to Ahsoka. Though he didn’t show it, his padawan clearly felt bad about his rejection of the girl and was now trying to subtly make nice with her whilst still showing Obi-wan how unhappy he was. It would be comical if not for how important their bond would be in the future. Obi-wan would do anything to keep them together.

Even if that meant enduring Anakin’s complaining for the years to come.

“Kidnapped, Jabba the Hutts son has been. Rescue him, you must, if a treaty with the Hutts we wish to have.”

Beside him, Anakin’s force signature flared with barely contained rage. He could feel the tendrils of darkness thrashing beneath the surface of his padawans skin and panic clawed at his throat. How had he not have noticed this before? This festering shadow.

He reached through the bond, sending a wave of calmness and peace. This time, he would not leave Anakin to fight alone.

“And do we wish to have that? A treaty with slavers?” He questioned and almost smiled when the darkness in Anakin’s presence disappeared with a flash of pleasant surprise and gratitude. He had never spoken to the council like this in front of Anakin before.

“Wish to have? No. But need, we do.” Yoda said, hitting his gimmer stick on the ground as a reprimand for Obi-wans near insubordination. He couldn’t find it in himself to be ashamed though, not when both Ahsoka and Anakin were looking at him with awe and hope. He was, however, glad Yoda wasn’t here in person. He did not want bruised shins for the rest of this mission.

“Who will be negotiating with the Hutts?” Obi-wan asked, after all, it had been him last time. It’s not that the negotiations had gone badly, but if he was on Tatooine he couldn’t protect his padawans. Both of them.

“To Tatooine Master Windu will travel. The Hutts, he will persuade. Trust him with this task I do.”

It took every ounce of his self-control to keep from laughing. Mace? Stony faced, straight to the point, brutally honest Mace Windu was going to negotiate? Well, that could go one of two ways. Obi-wan wasn’t sure if Jabba would appreciate the man’s straightforward attitude or hate him for it.

“Is there anything else we know about this kidnapping?” Anakin asked, surprising Obi-wan with his readiness to take on the mission. He had thought it would take much more convincing than that, but it seemed that even the smallest ripples could create waves.

“To Teth, travel you must. A clone force already briefed, there is.”

A wave of nostalgia hit him, taking him completely by surprise. It was all so familiar. This mission, with Anakin and Ahsoka by his side. His little siblings. The family that he had found in the middle of war. The family he had been too afraid to claim as his own. The family that he had lost in the end.

And now, he was here again. Back at the beginning. Ahsoka didn’t even know him. She wouldn’t remember how he taught her how to cheat at Sabacc, or how one time she woke up from a nightmare and came to him instead of Anakin. She wouldn’t remember going to Dex’s. Or Anakin shoving nerf burgers in his face while Obi-wan berated him on table manners. She wouldn’t remember giggling as Anakin choked on his food.

His Ahsoka was gone.

But the girl standing next to him was – something else. A possibility, a chance, a choice made in the pits of hell to try and make a difference. She was his family, his little sister. And if she didn’t have those memories yet, they would just have to make them all over again. He would just have to prove to her, and to Anakin how much he cared about them.

Once they survived this mission, that is.

“And what about her? I didn’t request a padawan learner.” Anakin asked, and Obi-wan sent him a very sharp mental nudge. He was trying to get his family back, Anakin, not get her sent back to the temple.

“The will of the force, it is. Request such guidance, we do not. Teach her, you will. Teach you, she will.” Yoda said, glaring at Anakin with all the force a green toad the size of a four-year-old could manage.

And that was that.

Ahsoka beamed up at him, an edge of mischief coloring her face and Obi-wan couldn’t help but return the sentiment.

As the Holo-call disconnected, Anakin sighed mournfully, probably grieving his life of relatively few responsibilities. Obi-wan understood that at least. He had ever had a peaceful moment after Anakin, and he lived in the Jedi temple.

“Well, looks like I’m stuck with you my padawan learner.”  He said in a barely passable imitation of Obi-wan.

“Or I’m stuck with you, Skyguy.” Ahsoka shot back, eyeing her new master doubtfully.

“Hey, don’t get snippy with me – uh – snips.” Honestly Anakin. It seemed that somethings really would never change. Stupid nicknames could stay, he supposed.

And as they filed into the airship, ready to head off into the battlefield of Teth, the familiar sound of bickering surrounded him.

“Who are you calling short? It’s not my fault you’re the size of a Wookie- “

“A Wookie!?”

“You smell like one too.”

“Hey!”

Yes, he thought. This was his family. And it seemed that even in dreams, or the afterlife, or Sith tricks or second chances, they would stay the same.

Chapter Text

"The best confidence builder is experience." - Season 1, Episode 5

 

Cody didn’t like new people. Scratch that. Cody didn’t like people.

Well, Rex was okay he guessed but that was about it. Maybe Waxer and Boil when they weren’t causing trouble. And he supposed Crys was okay too when he wasn’t acting like a star struck shiny.

The point being, Cody was a solitary man. A solitary and suspicious man. He had to be; hyperawareness had kept him alive so far. He had to stay vigilante. Even when the offending individual was a fourteen-year-old kid. Even when they were clearly nervous about whatever was about to go down. Even when they looked up at General Skywalker - and General Kenobi for that matter - like they were the founders of the universe.

So, because he didn’t like people, he most certainly did not tell Rex to keep an eye on the kid. He also didn’t think about how her age compared to a clone, didn’t picture a seven-year-old shiny running around in her place. Because that would be absurd. Cody was a hard man, he wasn’t compassionate. He would never go out of his way to help others and he definitely did not have a soft spot for kids.

Not at all.

But he did watch her out of the corner of his eye. Not to make sure she was doing okay, but to ensure she wasn’t doing anything suspicious. He had to prioritize their mission after all.

And because he had to prioritize the mission, when General Kenobi and General Skywalker were discussing strategies and the kid was standing around looking lost, he called her over. To make sure she didn’t distract the generals of course. There was no other reason at all. It wasn’t because he understood how it felt to not know what was expected of you, or because he sympathized with being thrust into battle at an early age.

Rex on the other hand was already starting to warm to the kid.

Ahsoka. Her name was Ahsoka Tano. He had to remember that if she was going to be a commander.

“You ever play sabacc commander?” Rex asked as she made her way over to where they were sitting.

“I’ve heard of it? But the masters at the temple don’t like it very much.” She said, wringing her hands as she took in the small huddle of clones and the deck of cards in between them. Waxer had already lost three rounds and Boil was grinning smugly with his winnings of contraband. The jedi looking down on sabacc was news to Cody as well. He had seen the Generals play together on more than one occasion.

“Sit down, we’ll deal you in. Don’t worry, you’ll pick it up pretty quick.” Waxer said, shuffling the cards in his hand and somehow managing to drop at least half of them in the process. “We’re playing the most common version, which also happens to be the easiest. God help anyone who plays Corellian spike.”

“Well, only if you don’t mind -“ She said, lowering herself to the ground.

“Not at all commander, wouldn’t have offered otherwise.” Rex said and Cody was beginning to think that he really was a softie. After all the work Cody had put in to get Rex to hide it as well, he just went around and shouted it to the world.

“So, how do we play?” She asked as she glanced curiously at the cards. It had been one hell of a job scrounging up enough credits to buy a sabacc deck at one of their stops. Trading contraband had been the sole mission of the 212th for a solid month.

“The aim of the game is to get a hand as close to twenty-three or negative twenty-three as possible,” Rex explained, “If you get a twenty four, you blow out and lose. If you win a hand, you win the hand pot. If you win the overall match, you win the sabacc pot that accumulates over the game.” He gestured to the small pile of paper in the middle which had scribbles on them stating things like ‘Kp duty pass’ or ‘first in line for rations’. There were a few rapped sweets as well, but no-one had been willing to bet much more with the Generals on board.

“How do you know the value of a card?” Ahsoka asked, picking one up to inspect it.

“That’s the hard part. A deck of sabacc has seventy-six cards. Sixty are split into four suits Flasks, Sabers, Staves, and Coins, with fifteen cards per suit. Pip cards are numbered one through eleven, plus a Commander numbered twelve, a Mistress numbered thirteen, a Master numbered fourteen, and an Ace numbered fifteen.” He picked up a card and showed it to Ahsoka, the symbol of a coin was printed on the corner in faded ink and the number was no better. She nodded in understanding.

 “The other sixteen are two sets of eight special cards. There’s Balance numbered negative eleven, The Idiot which is zero, Endurance with negative eight, Moderation numbered negative fourteen, The Evil One with a killer negative fifteen, The Queen of Air and Darkness numbered negative two, Demise numbered negative thirteen, and The Star which can be negative seventeen or negative ten.”

Rex rattled off each one with practiced ease. They were all experts on the game, but the kid was just beginning, and she was looking more confused than ever. No, not confused, completely and utterly lost was a better fit for the expression she was currently sporting. 

“That’s – a lot.” She said, and Waxer nodded.

“You can play the first hand with me if you want, get used to the game.” He offered and Cody very nearly snorted. The clone clearly just wanted some extra help to stop him losing every other hand. Waxer was compassionate, sure, but the extra pair of eyes was surely a factor in his offer.

“Yes, I’ll do my best to help.” She said, mouth set in a grim line of determination, and moved to sit beside waxer.

Cody dealt out the hand, eyeing Waxer suspiciously as he did so.

Rumor had it that the Jedi were experts at cheating in Sabacc. Something to do with being able to read minds. Cody hoped that the kid was too young to know how to do that. He didn’t want to give Waxer the satisfaction. That Shabuir, smirking over his hand at Cody and whispering to his little sidekick. 

He looked down at his own hand and hid his frown. Well, it wasn’t a total disaster. But it was not the best either.

Skill and chance, he thought. Skill and chance. It was all that this game relied on.

“Alright kid, let’s see how you play.” He said and smiled at her indignant expression.

“I’m not a kid! I’m a commander.” She insisted in a way that was certainly not befitting of a commander.

“Whatever you say kid.”

The words were out of his mouth faster than he could think them through. He had just been insubordinate. Scenarios flashed through his head before he could stop them. Kamino. Reconditioning. Experimentation.

 Decommissioning.

 He looked at her quickly and relaxed when she only grinned at him, unoffended and unlikely to complain to the Generals about his slip.

That could have been bad.

The kid was starting to grow on him, and that was a dangerous thing for a clone. He would have to be careful. He couldn’t let his guard down. Not even around her.


Obi-wan smiled to himself as the ship came down to land. It was a rare thing for him to be this happy in the midst of war, but the sight of Ahsoka celebrating her victories in Sabacc was so wonderful that he couldn’t help the warmth that rushed through him. He wondered how good she would be once he taught her how to cheat.

Maybe he shouldn’t do that after all. For the sake of his belongings.

Speaking of belongings, Boil was looking very annoyed to be handing over the few treats that had been placed in the sabacc pot. Waxer was downright grinning. He had shared his winnings with Ahsoka, claiming he couldn’t have won without her help.

“Of course not.” She had said, radiating smug satisfaction, but he could feel her embarrassment and joy at being complimented ringing through the force all the same.

The atmosphere was shattered, however, when they exited the ship.

Clones were organizing every inch of the station, preparing for the attack on the monastery where Jabba’s son was being held. They had sent spies down who had confirmed the worst. The monastery was in an easily defensible position and was swarming with droids. The work of the separatists of course, though there was no way to prove that to the Hutt without first proving his son was inside.

There was no word on Ventress, though Obi-wan remembered her interference from his previous life. Maybe he could try to talk some sense into her again. Not that it would do much good, but he could at least try to get her out of Dooku’s manipulating hands. And Palpatine’s.

“So Master, what’s the plan?” Anakin asked, ever eager to get going.

“Funny Anakin, I was about to ask you. After all, you should be setting a good example for your new padawan.” He said, gesturing to Ahsoka who was standing slightly behind Anakin, clearly trying not to look as awkward as she felt.

Honestly, he was thanking the force for Waxer’s natural ability with kids. He seemed to be taking Ahsoka under his wing. Surprisingly, so was Rex. He had thought that it had taken some time for the two to warm to each other, but the clone captain’s steady presence at her back proved otherwise.

“Ha-ha, very funny master. If you insist, then I will happily give you my plan. Snips! Get over here, would you?” Anakin called, drawing Ahsoka into their conversation. A bit forceful in Obi-wans opinion, but at least she was being involved in the discussion.

“The monastery is positioned at the top of this cliff and swarming with droids, so I suggest we use walkers to scale the cliff, with air support to keep the droids off our backs.”

A true Anakin plan. Short, sweet, deceptively simple, and far too reckless for anyone’s good. And likely to work. But Obi-wan remembered the massacre of the 501st at Teth, remembered the feeling of grief that lingered long after the horror of the battle had passed.

Obi-wan was ready this time, he had the foreknowledge to prevent such a massacre, and he was going to use it.

“The separatists are not going to give up the Hutt so easily. We will need reinforcements to keep our ships from being overrun, and we will need a cruiser stationed nearby for extraction. The sooner we’re off the planet with the Hutt, the better.”

“Well, it seems you have it all figured out Master.” Anakin said, smirking slightly as Obi-wan rolled his eyes and poked his shields. “I’ll handle the frontal assault; it is my specialty after all.”

Of course, Obi-wan would be there for the attack, but he had to be able to seek out Ventress if they wanted this to go well. It was her meddling that had resulted in the huge losses last time, if he could take her out of the game early doors, then maybe the 501st would stand a chance.

And so it was that he found himself standing at the base of the cliff, side by side with his padawans. Ahsoka adjusted her grip on her lightsaber and offered a tremulous smile.

“Well master, Ahsoka, race you to the top.” Anakin said, before throwing himself onto the top of a walker with aid of the force. Ahsoka looked momentarily dumbstruck. He hadn’t even given her a warning before doing something outrageously reckless. Typical.

“Hey!” she called “No fair!” Before she too flung herself off the ground and onto the cliff side.

Well, he supposed he could give them a head start. They were going to need it after all, he wasn’t about to hold back. Not when he had some padawans to remind of their place.

Obi-wan took a deep breath, then waved to Cody through the window of the walker.

“See you at the top” He mouthed to his commander before pulling the force around him, allowing it to fill him with its presence. Then he released it all at once, catapulting himself up the cliffside. He offered a cheeky salute to Anakin as he soared past him and grabbed the walker just above.

He thought he could hear a grumble of ‘showoff’ come from beneath him, but he couldn’t be sure.

His lightsaber was a comforting weight in his hands as he deflected shots from the droids above him. The sound of engines filled his ears as the air support swooped in to pick their enemies off. He turned around to check on Ahsoka. This was her first battle in this life after all.

He caught sight of her green blade, held in a firm reverse grip as she leapt from one walker to the next. She wasn’t too far behind Anakin, but there was no possibility of her beating Obi-wan.

He reached the top, immediately coming face to face with a horde of battle droids. The air support had clearly missed a few. No matter.

“Is that the jedi?” One of them asked, “We should probably shoot him –“

The blaster bolt cut off the clanker (He was beginning to think he was spending too much time around Cody) as it shot through its head.

“Hey master, thought you could use a little help.” Came the familiar voice of his padawan. Rex and Ahsoka were on either side of him, the clone captains’ arm still raised from his shot.

“I was merely giving them time to surrender.” He told Anakin, before quickly cutting through the line of droids around them, severing the metal joints and slashing their weapons. He could take care of them on his own thank you very much.

“Come on,” Anakin said, “The huttling must be inside.”

The monastery stretched up before them, its walls of faded terracotta blotting out the sun. Anakin turned to Rex, waving him over from where he was checking the perimeter.

“Captain! Leave a few men by the door, just in case the seppies decide to send in some reinforcements.”

“Yessir!”

Obi-wan knew they would and silently motioned for three of his own men to stand guard as well. Safety in numbers. They would watch each other’s backs.

Just as they approached the archway wrought from stone and earth, a warning whispered through the force. He drew his blade and swelled with something similar to pride as his padawans did the same.

It wasn’t Ventress, no, her presence was lurking just outside of view. But it was a figure, humanoid. And –

Droid like.

Darkness clung to its presence as it approached them. It didn’t appear to be with the separatists but – the force was practically screaming at him. He wasn’t about to wait to be shot at.

His blade sliced through the droid’s head in one smooth motion. Anakin laughed.

“Eager today master?” He asked jokingly, and Obi-wan offered a wry smile back.

“It was bathed in darkness. It seems we have a little Sith friend to take care of. I would like to investigate. Com me when you find Jabba’s son.” He said, before nodding to Cody and setting off in the direction of the dark blot in the force. Ventress may have been able to hide her presence from him once, but he was all too familiar with her certain brand of darkness.

This would be a walk in the park. Hopefully.

Chapter Text

"A fallen enemy may rise again, but the reconciled one is truly vanquished." - Season 4, Episode 21

 

As they advanced further into the monastery, the light faded to a dim sheet of visibility. It turned the reds of the walls to sickly greys and cast an air of dampness around them that clung to her skin and clothes.

The further they went, the more tails they gained.

She had been feeling antsy for a while now and was almost certain Skyguy knew the rust buckets were there, but he wasn’t doing anything.

Ahsoka didn’t know what to think about him. She was fairly certain that jedi weren’t supposed to recklessly throw themselves headfirst into danger. She was even more sure that they weren’t supposed to encourage their padawans to do the same. But he was trusting her to be okay, and she would been. That was nice. The trust. She wasn’t a kid anymore; she could handle herself.

And master Obi-wan, he was nothing at all like she had expected. He was the Sith killer, the negotiator, one of the youngest jedi on the council, and he was – Kind. Maybe she should have anticipated that, compassion was encouraged after all, but she hadn’t.

Maybe it was because he was kind in a tired sort of way. Like he knew that people weren’t used to kindness, and it was down to him to show it to them. When he had comforted her before, he had seemed to see right through the brave façade and know exactly what to say. He hadn’t lied either. That much was clear.

A little part of her wished she had been assigned to him. Master Obi-wan seemed to like her at least, Skyguy was still making his mind up.

“Master,” She whispered urgently, “we just picked up two more.

Her instincts were screaming at her to turn around, ignite her saber and cut those clankers into pieces (She had learned that word from Rex, Clankers) But her master didn’t even seem worried. Hadn’t even acknowledged their tagalongs.

Master” She whispered again, and he glanced down at her this time “This is clearly a trap.”

“I know.” He said, and continued walking. “Which is why we’re going to spring it.” The incredulous look she shot him must have said enough. He smirked down at her. “Trust your master a little, would you snips?”

She glared at him in annoyance at the nickname. Her name was Ahsoka. He could at least pretend to use it.

“Because your obviously so trustworthy.” She shot back. And, okay, maybe she shouldn’t argue with her best chance at becoming a jedi knight, but he was so easy to respond to. Luckily, he didn’t shout at her, or tell her to go wait outside, he just laughed.

He really was weird.

“Go on then,” He said, “Show me what you can do.”

Finally, a chance to prove herself.

Her lightsaber turned on with a flare of green, and she turned. The guns first, her brain said as she slashed their weapons. She had watched master Obi-wan do it only a few minutes ago. Then she whirled, bringing her saber down through its head. The other three were too easy. She jumped on top of one, throwing it of balance before slashing through the others. Pity, she was just beginning to enjoy that fight.

“Not bad snips,” Came Anakin’s voice and she turned in time to see him impale a clanker in a flash of blue, “but you missed one.” His smirk was infuriating.

“I knew it was there.” She said indignantly, “I was just… letting you have some fun.”

Master Skywalker didn’t look impressed, but he beckoned her forward anyway.

Eventually, they came to a door that buzzed with a faint presence of fear and pain. The force hummed quietly. Not quite a warning, but a possibility. She brought her hand up to the stone and cast out her sense. Master Skywalker was a burning ball of brightness beside her, casting a shadow over everything else. But there, in the room, was a small pulse of something.

“Master,” she said. Anakin nodded.

“He’s here all right.”

She drew her saber up and readied herself. Whoever took the Hutt wasn’t likely to give him up without a fight. This might get messy.

The door slid open at her master’s touch, and she sprung forward into the room to find…

Nothing.

It was empty save for a bed in the far corner. She whirled back around to check behind her, only to find her master smiling slightly, laughing at her. She didn’t find it all that amusing.

“Master?” Ahsoka had been sure the Hutt was here, so why -?

“Don’t look with your eyes snips. Stretch out with your mind. What do you feel?”

Close your eyes, trust in the force. What did she feel?

 The dampness of the air. The burning star beside her. The gentle whisper of the breeze. The clones, not too far from them. The drip of water from one of the corners. The darkness in the distance. The pulse of energy under the bed.

“Beneath the bed.”

Her master smiled again, “Not bad snips. Maybe there’s hope for you after all.”

He knelt down and reached a hand under the frame. A horrid squealing sound filled the air and she winced. That had hurt her Lekku.

“Out you come you slimy skug” Skyguy said as he pulled a squirming blob from out from under it. The blob screeched and writhed and screamed. And it smelled disgusting. Judging from her master’s face, he had noticed the stench too.

“We should com master Obi-wan,” She said, but Master Skywalker wasn’t paying attention. He was busy trying to wrestle the Huttlet into a backpack.

“Master are you even listening to me?!”

“Yeah, I heard you. I’ll call Obi-wan in a sec, but I think somethings wrong with the Hutt.”

Something wrong with the Hutt? She knelt beside her master and placed a hand on the squealing blobs forehead (presumably, she wasn’t sure it had a forehead).

“You’re right, he’s burning up. We need to get him back to the ship.”

She shouldered the backpack and began towards the door, but Skyguys voice stopped her.

“You know snips, I wasn’t sure at first, but I think you just might make it as my padawan.”

Master Obi-wan was right. Everything was going to work out. She was going to be a jedi knight and serve the republic. He had said as much, but she hadn’t really believed him. She smiled, turning back to face her master. Her master. Because he really was.

“You got it skyguy.”


Catching up with Ventress wasn’t hard. The dark presence that bathed her force signature was enough of a hint on where she was hiding. It helped that she was trying to lure him into a trap as well. People were often easier to find when they were actively trying to lure you in, Obi-wan had realized.

No, the hard part was getting her to listen. He didn’t want to fight her, but he wasn’t sure how to go about convincing her to leave Dooku’s side. He knew that she wouldn’t react well to him bringing up Ky Narec, and he had already tried mother Talzin. Getting her back to the nightsisters would be the ideal outcome, but currently she hated them for abandoning her to slavery.

Slavery, now there was an idea.

It wasn’t such an alien concept to him after all. Bandomeer had taught him much, so had Zygerria. Over the course of his padawanship he had been captured and enslaved more times than he could count. After a while, he had started to believe Qui-Gon was letting it happen on purpose. Though maybe that was the last shreds of resentment talking.

And then there was his time on Tatooine.  When he had stumbled out into the desert, alone and grieving and ready to die, it was Beru Whitesun who had found him. As she led him into her house, she had placed Luke in his lap. He was so small then, so fragile. And so much like his father.

‘sit’ she had said ‘I’m going to tell you a story’.

It was a story that he had heard before, a thousand times on Badomeer and Zygerria and everything in between. It was a story of Ekkreth Skywalker and Depur, the slave and the slaver. It was a story that was told in the dark of night. It was a story spoken in tongues that the masters couldn’t understand. It was a story all slaves held close to their heart. It was a story of freedom.

Perhaps Ventress had heard it too. Perhaps she would understand that Dooku was Depur, that she had gilded her chain and called it jewelry. If he showed her that he knew, that he understood at least a little of how she felt – well.

It was worth a try. It wasn’t like he had any other ideas.

That was how he had found himself sat cross legged in a grand hall that stretched up above him. The circular windows bathed the floor in a white sheen that looked almost like moonlight, though he knew it couldn’t be past midday. Ventress’ presence hung in the shadows, waiting to make her move. It was how she did things, playing with her food before pouncing. But he wasn’t here to play games.

“I know you’re there, my dear. But I’m not here to fight.” He said and closed his eyes. The force washed over him in a calming wave as he sunk deeper into it. There was no warning. Not yet anyways. “I’m here to tell you a story.”

Her force presence flashed with annoyance, what little patience she had thinning. He could hear the creak of her shoes as she leapt down from her hiding place, landing nimbly on the floor. But not quite silently.

“I have no need for stories, my darling. Only your blood.” Ventress purred, lightsabers buzzing as they ignited in what he assumed was a dazzling display of red. Not that it was going to intimidate him. On the contrary, he functioned best under pressure. It sharpened his senses, and in most cases, his tongue. Anakin had always accused him of flirting as a panic response, which was a lie. It was a trauma response thank you very much.

He took a deep breath as she advanced.

“It happened once that Ekkreth was walking – “ He began, and felt the Sith flinch. Her presence was no longer annoyed, but angry. Furious even, darkness thrashing and writhing beneath her fragile skin, just waiting to burst free of its constraints.

“How do you know that name?!” She demanded, and the sudden swoosh of air paired with the heat hovering below his neck signaled her blade resting there.

“It is a name known to all who have faced Depur.” He said calmly. He opened his eyes then and caught hers. They were filled with a mix of fear and apprehension. “I believe we are both familiar with him.”

She held her stance a little longer, debating whether to end things here or to listen to him. Obi-wan wondered vaguely if he had just signed his death warrant before she removed her saber, bringing it back down to her side. It remained ignited, however. Small victories.

 Obi-wan stayed put, gesturing at her to sit down as well, he had made himself quite comfortable after all. The mocking laugh that burst from her throat was enough of an indication of her thoughts on lowering herself to his level at him. She shifted into a tightly sprung pose, ready to strike should she need to. Her loss, he was only trying to be polite.

“Tell me how you know that name Jedi or die.”

“I know it the same way you do. After all, it was Ekkreth who freed me from my chains, though it seems you have not quite been freed from yours yet.” He said carefully. Not quite carefully enough it seemed, Ventress snarled at him. The force was no longer calm but bubbling with anxiety.

“I am free! The Sith gave me freedom!” she screamed; the red blade soared towards him. He called the sense of worry-danger-hush to his hand and pushed.  The Sith flew backwards. Ventress looked briefly put out, then crouched low to the ground, readying to strike again, but there was doubt in her face. After all these years, she really was all too easy to read.

“The Sith gave you servitude. Dooku is Depur. You must realize this.” He insisted.

“You’re lying.” She bit out and propelled herself forward once more. He took a step to the side and let her shoot past him.

Honestly. The force was practically ringing with the truth of his words. Surely, she could feel it. Denial was clouding her vision, allowing the darkness to convince her of her freedom.

“I’m not. Search your feelings, you know it is true.”

She growled in frustration, lunging towards him again. The force rang out in a deafening cacophony of noise - 

And then she stopped.

Two seconds, three seconds. She stood unblinking, unmoving. The anger and fear that tinged her presence said more than any words could. She knew he was right. The force had shown her truth.

“Free yourself Ventress,” he said, not unkindly “go back to Dathomir, travel the galaxy, free more slaves, I don’t care. No one will follow you; I promise.”

Perhaps it was a silly promise to make. He wasn’t sure if he would be able to keep it, but he would certainly try his best. He could hold off the council, if she stepped out of the war and lived a quiet life. That was rather unlikely, however. It was Ventress he was talking about.

“Why? You’re a Jedi. You kill people like me. Why would you let me go?” There was suspicion clinging to every word. It seemed strange to think that this may be the first kind thing anyone had done for her in decades. It was no wonder she doubted his honesty.

“Everyone deserves a second chance, Ventress. Even you.”

At that moment, his Com lit up. He kept eye contact with Ventress as he answered it.

“Obi-wan? We found the Hutt. But he’s sick. We need to get him back to the ship ASAP.” Came Anakin’s voice, tinged with the mechanical grit of the Com.

“Alright, I’ve dealt with our little Sith problem, Ventress has been taken care of. I’ll meet you at the ship in ten.” He said, cataloguing Ventress’ disbelieving expression. He knew that she wasn’t used to people wanting to genuinely help her. The way she floundered was almost funny.

“Go, Ventress. Somewhere Dooku can’t find you.” He said, before turning to leave.

“Dooku deserves to pay for enslaving me.” She said, as though testing Obi-wan’s willingness to let her go.

“Then make him,” He said with a shrug, “I told you, no one is going to follow you. You’re a free woman Ventress.”

And with that he walked away, leaving her standing in the halls of the monastery. He took it as a victory that she didn’t try to stab him in the back as he left. Whether she took his advice however, he wouldn’t know. But for her sake, and for his, he hoped it. He truly hoped it.

He cast his sense out around him, easily locating Anakin and Ahsoka as they made their way towards the ship. The clones were there as well, fighting off what remained of the droids. He counted the number of ripples in the force. How many had he saved? How many of them had he managed to rescue from Ventress’ grasp?

Two, eight, twenty. Not enough.

There were casualties, four of Anakin’s men would be added to remembrances. Six of Obi-wans would have their names etched into his armor. A tradition he wanted to start, and to keep.

He had tried, but it wasn’t enough. It was never enough. He had to do more.

But he cast those thoughts from his mind, he had two troublesome Padawan’s to meet up with.

Chapter Text

"You hold onto friends by keeping your heart a little softer than your head." - Season 1, Episode 7

 

Against all odds, the ship was still very much intact when Obi-wan reached it. He had half expected to find a blazing pile of metal and debris with Anakin and Ahsoka smiling guiltily up at him as they explained how it was necessary to blow it sky high in order to stop Ventress from escaping.

There were no fires, however, only the remains of droids and the grief twinged presence of those around him.

“Hey master! Look who we found.” Anakin called, practically bouncing over to him as he waved in the general direction of captain Rex who was holding what appeared to be a brown blob stuffed inside a backpack.

The Hutt.

Now for the hard part, delivering him to Tatooine unharmed. Though maybe – maybe this time it wouldn’t be. Hard, that is. Ventress was no longer pursuing them for one, and Mace was still stationed on Tatooine. If Dooku showed his face, Obi-wan had full faith in his friend to deal with the Sith.

“I see your mission has been successful, my padawan.”

Anakin frowned slightly in thought, before smiling again and rubbing the back of his head.

“Yeah well, couldn’t have done it without my padawan.”

Ahsoka lit up with a mix of embarrassment-hope-joy and Obi-wan almost laughed in amusement laced with love and a bone deep relief. Anakin had accepted her as a padawan. They were going to be a family again. Whatever had happened to push them together, he would be eternally grateful.

Anakin was still flushing slightly, sending vague impressions of fondness, exasperation and an almost endearing awkwardness down the bond.

You were right. He seemed to say, and Obi-wan reveled in the victory. Ventress was unlikely to cause more problems, he saved most of the 501st, and he had his family. A victory indeed. 

As they boarded the ship, Ahsoka slowed to walk beside him. She seemed less anxious now, more like the confident, hardheaded young woman he had known. God, how he missed her. It was strange to grieve someone who was standing right beside you. She caught his eye and smiled slightly, then mouthed a thank you. For his advice, he assumed. He winked mischievously back at her, knowing the havoc she was likely to wreak on his poor padawan. A shame, but a necessary one.

“Hey master, are we the ones who’ll take the Hutt back?” Anakin called from up ahead. At first, Obi-wan assumed the question came because Mace was already there. But his padawans cheery delivery did nothing to mask the anxiousness and fear in his presence.

Obi-wan didn’t need the force, however, to know that Anakin Skywalker did not want to go back to Tatooine. There were too many bad memories, too much pain.

Slavery.

His mother.

The sand people.

Obi-wan had learned on Tatooine about that little piece of information. How his padawan had slaughtered an entire family. An entire people out of hate and revenge. It was too late to change that now, but he could help Anakin. whatever he needed, Obi-wan would give.

And that was the dilemma, wasn’t it? Did Obi-wan prioritize the mission or his padawan? Did he go to Tatooine to ensure the safe delivery of the Hutt, or did he head back to coruscant and keep his Padawan safe?

He had never put a mission before Anakin’s life, but he had put it before his wellbeing. Time and time again. Even after all these years, the guilt of Rako Hardeen ate him alive.

Decisions were not easy to make in times of war, Obi-wan knew, but that had been a bad one.

“I do believe,” He began, “that the Clones are more than capable of seeing the Hutt safely home. Master Windu will meet them on planet, and we will head back to the temple.”

Decisions were hard to make, especially in times of war, but his decision would always be his family. Before the council, before the mission, before him.

Yoda would not be pleased with him, and Ki-Adi-Mundi would kick up a fuss. No matter, Obi-wan was already imagining the approving smile Plo was bound to give him when he found out. Depa would find the situation amusing as well, he was sure. Though she was Mace’s padawan, he had never seemed to stamp out her sense of mischief. Pity.

Anakin smiled at him, and Ahsoka let out a little whoop.

“Hey Skyguy, do I get to move into the padawan dorms?” She asked and Anakin sighed long-sufferingly.

“Unfortunately, yes. You better not keep me up Snips or be anything like I was at your age.” Anakin said and shuddered slightly, probably remembering all the trouble he had caused at the temple. They never had managed to get the glitter fully out of the training matts.

Every master told the same thing to their padawan. Obi-wan was no exception. May you have a student just like you. The poor boy had seen it as a complement back then, though he was certainly re-thinking that now.

“When we arrive, neither of you will be going back to the temple.” He said as sternly as he could, holding back laughter as the two turned to face him, looking completely put out. “You will instead report to Dex’s diner for a ceremonial meal – “

“Oh hell yeah!” His padawan yelled, smiling wildly. Obi-wan sent a wave of admonishment down the bond for the interruption, just for good measure. Though he couldn’t quite get rid of the twinge of love that colored it.

“Dex’s diner?” Ahsoka asked uncertainly and Anakin put his hand to his chest in a mock heart attack, face contorted in pain and betrayal.

“You’ve never been?” he asked and gasped when Ahsoka shook her head “You’re missing out big time. Best food in coruscant.”

She grumbled something under her breath, but seemed to accept this statement

Laughing at their antics, Obi-wan herded them into the command room. Honestly, they would never get home if they kept this up.

“It is tradition for new masters to take their padawans for dinner.” He explained to Ahsoka. Anakin was nodding vigorously in the corner and for a minute Obi-wan was vaguely worried his head would fall off if he nodded any harder.

He had taken Anakin after Naboo. Had watched the child shove food in his mouth like a starved animal. Back then, he probably was. The life of a slave was not an easy one.

Qui-Gon had taken him once. Just the once. After Bandomeer.

He hadn’t spoken, only sat and eaten, staring into space. He told Obi-wan that they should go again some time, but then Melida/Daan happened, and everything fell apart. He knew Qui-Gon blamed him for Tahl and after that disaster he rarely spoke more than a sentence to him. It had taken years to patch up the hole that the civil war had left. Obi-wan had never quite managed it.

Not that it mattered. He had snuck off to Dex’s place a fair few times. On his own, or with Quinlan. Sometimes he could even drag Bant away from her studying. It was a rare thing, but like himself she would do anything for a meal from Dex. He really did have the best food in all Coruscant.

“Cody,” He called, “Send a squad to Tatooine with the Hutt, General Windu will meet them there.”

“Yessir!”

“Oh and Cody, we are heading back to coruscant, tell the men they will be receiving a much deserved break.”

“…Yes sir.” The clone turned to leave.

“Cody,” His dear commander stopped, “That goes for you too.” He said meaningfully, and Cody snapped a salute before taking his leave. Whether he would take a break or not, who knew. Obi-wan knew his commander far too well to believe he would accept the time off.

Well, no going back now. The council could suck a lime, Obi-wan was going home.

He wasn’t sure if he was ready to see the temple. All those force presences, all that life that had been snuffed out so long ago. And yet…

None of it had happened yet. There would be no blood on the walls, no bodies on the floor, no smoke rising from the roof, and no Imperials.

The ship jumped to hyperspace, and Obi-wan took a breath.

Yes, he was going home.


The Jedi temple was something that Cody had never seen before. He had heard rumors of course; it was impossible not to with two million nosy clones for brothers. They said it radiated peace, a pulse of warmth that filled you with hope. They said it held a room with over a thousand fountains, each one flowing crystal-clear water. They said it was like a dream, all light colors and laughing padawans and growing plants.

What they hadn’t said, was how much it meant to the jedi.

Cody had spent the journey back to coruscant listening to Kenobi answer the many questions that Cry’s and the others had about what the temple was like. They were getting time off and it was abundantly clear that the temple was on half of the battalions to do list. 79's was a close second.

The point being, Kenobi had spoken about the temple in the same way that a clone speaks about his brothers. With love and amusement and a deep yearning. The man missed his home in a way that was almost indescribable.  

Cody could understand. He had spent his whole life with the other CC’s. Running drills with Gree and Wolffe, swapping strategies with Bly and Fox, making fun of Stone, and doing his utmost best to avoid Bacara. Even back then he was a sadistic Shabuir.

Now, they were scattered across the galaxy. Whether he would ever see them again, Cody didn’t know. And though he would deny it to his dying breath, he missed them. They were his batchmates, his Vod. It was impossible not to.

Which was why he had asked the question. He hadn’t meant to ask it really, it just kind of fell out of his mouth. He could curse himself for the mistake later, think about how stupid he had been to draw attention to himself, but currently he was too focused on the expression on his General’s face.

‘How long has it been since you last saw it?’ he had asked, completely unintentionally. He knew that it couldn’t have been more than a few months, the war had just started. Sure, he could have been on a separate mission, but jedi always returned to the temple. Always. It wasn’t as though Kenobi was a shadow either who went on long missions. It was only reasonable to assume he returned to the temple every few months.

Kenobi’s reaction said otherwise. His eyes glazed over, a far away look entering them as though he was lost in deep thought. He looked – wistful. Almost grief-stricken. There was no other way to describe it. It took a moment for the man to come back to himself.

When he did, he spoke two words. Only two before he left.

“Too long.” He said, then he smiled in the way that he tended to do. Not a proper smile, it wasn’t happy. All of his smiles seemed to be tinged with an edge of sadness.

He had obviously said something wrong to have upset his General in such a way. He had considered apologizing, tracking the man down to assure him he meant nothing by it. Something told him, however, that Kenobi needed to be alone.

So Cody had let it go, letting the General leave to ‘finish some paperwork’. Speaking of paperwork, Cody had some to finish too. The life of a clone commander was a busy one.

Which brought him onto his next thought. Cody was being given a break. He – didn’t know what to do about that. His men deserved the time to rest of course, but Cody was the only one holding the operation together. He couldn’t take time off.

But his General had practically ordered him. An order from his General was as good as law, especially after Cody had put his damn foot in his mouth and upset the man.  Maybe some time off wouldn’t be so bad. 79’s was especially appealing, and if he was being honest with himself, he was just a little bit interested in seeing the jedi temple. Just a little bit.

It was important to his General, which meant Cody had a duty to protect it. Understanding the temple might help him understand Kenobi as well, though Cody was beginning to think he was a mystery that would never be solved. No Nat-born that he had met had ever acted like the General. Although it was vaguely off-putting, it was nice. Being treated like a person.

He knew better than to get too comfortable though, he was still a clone. No amount of belief would change how expendable he was. No amount of care would change his legal status, which amounted to nothing. He had checked. Apparently ‘sentient’ was too much of a stretch for the republic.

It was easier for them to pretend that their slaves weren’t actually conscious, he supposed. The guilt would be easier to swallow if their government assured them that the Vode liked being slaves.

Where Kenobi stood on that matter, he still wasn’t sure. He wanted to trust the man. After Christophsis when he had spared Slick, after Teth when he had placed a hand on Waxer’s shaking shoulder, the clone bent double over a dead brother, and apologized.

After he had walked out into command with Six names etched into his pauldron in tiny, neat writing. The war dead from Teth. Cody’s Vod who were marching far away.

That act had almost convinced him, but Kenobi was a Nat born. He had been the one to find the Vode. Cody remembered. Oh yes, he remembered.

He had looked up from his meal to see a figure standing over them, wet hair that glimmered like fire and blue eyes that locked onto his own. The first time he saw a jedi. The first time he saw his General.

Not that Kenobi knew it, he probably didn’t even remember. It had left quite the impression on Cody, however. An impression that he couldn’t quite shake. It wasn’t a bad one, just unfamiliar.

But it meant he couldn’t quite trust his general, for one reason or another.

Not yet anyways.

In time. Perhaps in time…


“Kenobi!” Dex’s familiar voice called over the Holodrama playing in the background. Some forbidden love story about a jedi falling in love with a Mandalorian, if Obi-wan was remembering Correctly. Quinlan had sometimes snuck them into the creche. They had all sat together under a thick blanket and laughed at the bad acting and unrealistic writing.

The Besalisk lumbered over and wrapped all four arms around him in a bone crushing hug. Not that Obi-wan minded, he hadn’t seen the man in far too long and squeezed back just as tightly.

After the temple fell, Obi-wan knew Dex had helped smuggle people out of coruscant. People who the empire would have imprisoned or murdered. Jedi sympathizers and critics of Palpatine who had stood up against the atrocities of the imperials. Innocents who were tired of war and violence.

Though he had a past filled with crime, his friend was a good man. Dex would always have Obi-wans gratitude for his efforts, whether he knew it or not.

“It’s good to see you, my friend. You remember Anakin?” He asked, gesturing behind him to where his former padawan was teasing Ahsoka. Behind the two, stood a pair of very awkward looking clones.

It was Ahsoka’s brilliant idea to invite Rex and Waxer to Dex’s, and who was Obi-wan to spoil her fun? They deserved some good food as well; anything was better than rations.

“Little Ani? You’ve certainly sprouted up.” Dex said, shaking hands with the boy and measuring his height against his own. Then he turned his gaze to Ahsoka. “And who might you be little lady?”

“I’m padawan Tano.” She said, craning her neck to look the man in the eyes. It made for a comical image, the big scary besalisk (Who was really a big softie) and the defiant togruta.

Rex shifted slightly, hand inching for his blaster. The man was already so protective, and so wary of others.

“This,” Obi-wan cut in before someone ended up getting shot, “Is my grand padawan.”

Dex took a moment to register, glancing between the two kids who had now begun to poke each other in the arm as hard as they could. He broke out into a grin, blindingly bright and big enough to fill his whole face. A heavy hand landed on his shoulder.

“A grand padawan? Why didn’t you say sooner?” His friend bellowed, laughing happily in disbelief, “Order anything you want, on the house!”

Obi-wan spluttered. Surely the man knew Anakin’s stomach was a bottomless pit, and Ahsoka really wasn’t much better.

“Dex, that’s too much – “

“My favorite customer and the high general of our army deserves a free meal once in a while. Find yourself a table, I’ll send Hermione over to take your order.”

And that was that.

Obi-wan was ushered into a booth by two chattering padawans, both pouring over the menu and arguing over what to order. The table was sticky from the drinks and plates of customers, coming and going. Checked patterns ran up and down the floor, and the red stools were worn and fading. It was achingly familiar.

The two clones took a bit of convincing, but they soon shuffled into the booth and pulled off their helmets. The two looked around, completely put out but curious. It was evident neither of them had ever visited an establishment like Dex’s before. Or any establishment for that matter.

“Hey Obi-wan,” Anakin suddenly called “If the meal is free, can we get whatever we want? Like whatever we want?”

Obi-wan sighed. Poor Dex was not going to know what hit him.

“That is the idea Anakin, but please try not to bankrupt my friend. It would be such a shame for the diner to go out of business.”

His padawan mock saluted, before turning to Ahsoka and giving her a detailed description of every item of food imaginable.

I’m going to spoil them rotten, Obi-wan thought, and they deserve it.

He turned to the two clones who had now begun to shift awkwardly and seemed unsure of whether or not to pick up a menu.

“That goes for you two gentlemen as well. Whatever you want, Dex will sort you out.” He passed them a menu and pointed to the options, “I personally recommend the ‘interstellar garden salad’ though Anakin is partial to a ‘Giju slider’ considering his stomach is the size of a Sarlacc.”

Rex took the menu hesitantly, sneaking glances at the options and at the two children discussing whether they would be allowed a photon fizzle (to which the answer was no, Obi-wan did not want to deal with two drunk padawans tonight thank you very much). Waxer snatched it out of his hands and began chatting loudly to Ahsoka about what exactly a nerfburger was.

Rex looked momentarily bewildered, before tentatively asking if fried Endorian chicken tasted anything like the rations that were supposed to be chicken flavored. Supposed to because they were no more appetizing than wet cardboard.

The look of absolute shock and betrayal on Ahsoka’s face was worth the galaxy itself.

Yes, this was his family. Clones and all. He would keep it safe.


Rex didn’t know what he was doing. On the plate in front of him was a ‘spicy Gargon gumbo’, the cheapest thing he could find on the menu. His knife and fork lay untouched, the same as his food. Across from him, Commander Tano and General Skywalker were tucking into the mountains of meat they had piled on their plates.

This had to be a test. Or a trick of some sort. Rex was a clone. He wasn’t permitted to eat nat-born food, it would be wasted on him.

But General Kenobi kept sending him encouraging looks, and Waxer was already half-way through his portion of a Zeltros slider. It had cost five credits more than Rex’s meal. The Generals didn’t seem to care.

Not for the first time, Rex wished Cody was here. He would know what to do, he would give Rex orders that he could understand. But Cody was away at the temple. He was going over paperwork and strategies and fulfilling his duties as a commander.

Rex was sitting in a diner on coruscant with a plate of steaming food in front of him and no fucking clue what he was supposed to be doing.

“Hey Rex, you gonna eat that?” Waxer asked, and suddenly four pairs of eyes locked onto him. He grit his teeth and tried not to smack the di’kut in the head.

Now there was no way to avoid eating, no matter how much his instincts were screaming at him not to.

The bowl of liquid was supposedly some kind of soup, mixed with one meat or another. Rex wasn't sure, he hadn't looked to closely at the meals. only the prices. It smelled amazing though, looked even better. It was a vibrant red color and came with a few ornamental leaves sticking up from it.

He picked up the spoon and took a sip of his meal.

God fucking dammit.

It was the best thing he had ever tasted. Even better than those little sweets Boil had stolen from a poor vendor. And he knew he couldn’t eat any more of it.  Not with Kenobi looking right at him. If this was a test, he had failed.

They would send him back to Kamino and –

(The lights are flashing, and he can’t see. Why can’t he see? Where are his brothers where -?)

He couldn’t go back. Not to reconditioning.

So, he put the spoon back down and tried not to cry. It was almost worse, knowing how damn good it tasted. He looked at General Kenobi, hoping he would approve. He had passed right? He had done what he was supposed to, followed orders while wasting the minimum resources he could.

The General didn’t look pleased, he looked worried.

“Is it not to your tastes my dear captain? You can order something else if you don’t like it.”

“No sir, its fine sir.”

Kenobi frowned.

“Rex, you can have as much as you like. This food is on the house, no one will be paying for it. As your high General, I order you to eat as much as you want to, and to order whatever you like.”

General Skywalker waved a hand in Kenobi’s face.

“Yeah! Come try some of mine if you want.” He said through a mouthful of food. Commander Tano sniffed daintily.

“Master, you’re making a mess.”

Rex picked up the spoon again and took another mouthful. Kenobi didn’t shout, he smiled. Then he went back to his own food and struck up a conversation with Waxer.

Strange.

The Jedi were nothing like the Kaminoans, or any nat-born he had met. They didn’t care if he wasted food or stretched mission parameters. Hell, he had watched Commander Tano do nothing when Cody had been straight up insubordinate.

He would have to learn their rules. A new set that he didn’t know.

Maybe that wasn’t a bad thing. New wasn’t always awful.

Commander Tano pushed one of her Chili’s onto his plate, claiming she hated them. He had watched her eat six at once not five minutes ago.

Perhaps he could get used to the new rules, and his new Generals. If they kept acting like this, it wouldn’t be a hard thing to do.

That was both an encouraging thought, and a terrifying one.

Chapter Text

"Fear not for the future, weep not for the past." - Season 2, Episode 13

 

When everyone had eaten their fill at Dex’s, Obi-wan patted his friend on the shoulder (Receiving a four-armed hug in return) and left for the temple with his padawans in tow. A fact that he was currently doing his best to ignore. He couldn’t think about the temple. Not now.

Rex and Waxer had already gone to the clone barracks on coruscant and were likely getting organized to visit 79's. Before they reached their destination however, Obi-wan had pulled the two clones aside to give them his personal Com in case they were ever in trouble. Hopefully they would pass it on to the rest of the 212t h for if they ever needed his assistance, the 501st as well in Rex’s case. Hopefully.

The two had seemed hesitant, but Waxer’s easy trust and devotion to his brothers seemed to win out, and he took the com without question.

Speaking of clones and trouble, there was another issue he had to deal with. One that had been swirling around in the back of his head for some time now. Obi-wan needed to get in touch with Senator Amidala. Padme.

He had put some thought into it, running over all the possible ways he could go about pushing for clone rights, and every road led to her. The people of Naboo were know for their subtlety and intelligence. They were not a violent people, but when it came to such a thing, secrecy was their ally. The doubles of their queens, the poisons that they kept guarded, and their ruthless education system ensured such a thing.

It was what made Padme such a good queen and politician, and what made Palpatine such a dangerous enemy.

If there was anyone he trusted to begin drafting a clone rights bill, it was her and Bail. Senator Organa was at least easy to get in contact with, they had each other’s coms for when nights required some company and Alcohol. Even so early on, they had always gotten along. Obi-wan briefly wondered if he would be invited to his and Breha’s wedding again, it really had been a lot of fun last time – despite the fact that he couldn’t remember most of it in the morning.

Padme on the other hand, well. The easiest way to talk to her was through –

Anakin. It was through Anakin.

That opened another can of worms. Every time Obi-wan had tried to start a conversation about Padme with Anakin in his past life, he had been shut down immediately. It was clear that Anakin thought Obi-wan would not approve of their attachment to each other. He was right. At first, Obi-wan had been terrified of the implications that such a relationship could cause. It seemed as though he had a right to be after –

After Vader.

But now he could see things from a different perspective.

Padme was a source of light in Anakin’s life. She kept him grounded, she was why he had stayed light as long as he did. It just wasn’t enough. If he gave them the support they both craved, maybe it would encourage them to be more open with each other, and with him. He had to try. Even though it had taken a while, he had been friends with Padme in his last life as well. How could he not be close to someone who held such love for his brother?

So, as the hovercar slowed down to the temple gates, Obi-wan ignored the feeling of raw agony that swelled in his gut at the sight of it, and pulled Anakin aside, ushering Ahsoka back to her room.

“Master? What is it?”

Obi-wan took a breath. How did he go about this? Nothing he had tried before had worked, so why would it now? What difference would it make? But he knew he had to do this. For his own sake, and for Anakin’s.

“I am going to say something, and I want you to listen to all of what I have to say before you answer.” He began and Anakin nodded dumbly at his serious tone.

“I know about you and Padme.”

Fear flared in his padawans presence and Obi-wan knew he was about to open his mouth in defense, so pushed adamantly on.

“I’ve known for a while now, and at first I was skeptical. You love her though, Anakin, and I love you. I want you to be happy, and if that means being with Padme, then so be it. I’m not going to tell the council, but I strongly suggest you come up with a plan to do so after the war. You cannot keep this a secret forever. I just want you to know that I will support any decision you choose to make. You’re my family Anakin, I am not going to betray you.”

A breath rushed out of his mouth. Anakin was staring at him, eyes wide and unsure. Shock radiated from his body like sparks of electricity.

“Are you- is this – you’re serious?”

Obi-wan smiled, as warmly as he could, though slightly worried for what his padawans reaction may be.

“Of course I am – oh” He was suddenly holding an armful of Anakin. For a moment, he was unsure of what to do. It had been so long since he had last been this physical with him. With anyone really. Of course, when Anakin was still a boy, Obi-wan did what he could to comfort him, but he had never experienced that with Qui-Gon. It was Quinlan who had finally taught him how to be intimate with people – in a platonic way, obviously.

And then there was Tatooine. He had been alone. He didn’t know how long exactly, but there had not been many affectionate touches on that dust planet.

So, he wrapped his arms around the boy and held on tight. Distance shrank between them until there was only the calm hum of the force and Anakin’s hiccupping breathes. Obi-wan most certainly was not crying. He was above such things.

Seconds turned into minutes, and still they clutched onto each other like a lifeline.

“You know Anakin, you could have at least invited me to the wedding.” He teased, rubbing circles into the boys back as he laughed wetly, then mumbled something that was muffled by the robe between them.

Obi-wan pulled back slightly, trying to make sure Anakin could still breathe.

“Thank you master.” Was his simple statement, and Obi-wan pulled him back into a tight embrace, which Anakin quickly fought his way out of, smirking playfully through watery eyes.

“Careful master, too many hugs can be bad for you.”

“Of course, how could I forget.” There was a pause, not awkward, but comfortable. “I need to talk to Padme at some point,” He continued, “but it can wait. For now, I do believe we have both had quite the day. “

Anakin grinned, red rimmed eyes suddenly looking bright, and tired. “Yeah, I better go check Snips hasn’t wrecked the place.”

They walked together to the rooms, and Obi-wans chest felt lighter than ever.

One conversation. That was all it had taken. A conversation and unconditional love. Why hadn’t he given Anakin that before? Was he truly so afraid of the council that he would do such a thing?

Not this time. I’ll be better this time.


When Obi-wan arrived at his room in the temple, he collapsed to the floor. He vaguely felt the ache in his knees where he landed, though he couldn’t find it in himself to care. All that he could do was try to block out the echo’s of screaming younglings that resonated through the force. It seemed not even time was able to rewind the horror that tangled the balance in knots.

It was too much. All of it.

(there’s blood on the walls. He can smell burning flesh)

The walls were not charred, however. The roof was not caved in, and the floors were not smeared with the remains of innocents that his padawan cut down.

Instead, a bookshelf lay in the corner with various tomes Obi-wan had checked out from Madam Nu so long ago and yet so recently in this life. His bed was made with only a few wrinkles in the corners, and his desk was a mess of paperwork and strategies.

(There is nothing left of what he once knew. There is only blood and death and pain)

(His padawan is gone)

He didn’t know how long he sat there, hands over his ears, trying to block out the screaming of the dead that had not met their fate yet. Who would not meet their fate if he could do anything about it – and he could. He would.

Maybe only seconds passed, or perhaps it was hours, or even days. He didn’t know. But slowly, ever so slowly the calming whisper of the force brought his mind back to his body.

Eventually, he found the strength to stand.

His feet moved him to his desk, and he shoved he amalgamation of papers out of the way to find a pen and a spare sheet. And then he wrote.

With all the fever of a dying man, sick with an unknown disease, Obi-wan wrote down all the major events he could remember, then highlighted all the ones he had to stop. Umbara, Rako Hardeen, Ryloth, the genocide of his people and the rise of the empire.

Oh force, there was so much. How could he stop all of this? He was one man, one selfish man who hadn’t even managed to die properly.

He didn’t stop writing.

Panic later, he told himself. Obi-wan had fought multiple wars, survived tortures beyond most people’s imagination, and faced his down his own brother in the pits of Mustafar – he was a master at compartmentalization.

He was also a master at deceiving himself.

A timeline emerged, and then possible differences he had made to it. Would his chat with Ventress mean that the invasion of Kamino wouldn’t happen? Or would it simply be carried out by a different apprentice? He had to assume the worst, had to plan for every possible situation.

He ran a hand through his hair. It was going to be a long night.

After some time (was it minutes or months? Seconds or decades?) a list of enemies that would have to be taken care of stared up at him. Not every enemy he made of course, there were far too many of those. A list of Sith would be a more accurate description.

Dooku. Palpatine. Ventress. Maul. Savage.

He looked back over the list, then hesitantly scribbled out Ventress. Maybe it was too hopeful, or just blindingly naive, but he didn’t think he would meet her again as an enemy. A grudging acquaintance perhaps, but not an enemy.

Then, on a separate piece of paper, he wrote only one word.

Clones.

They were at the heart of everything. It was their betrayal that had allowed the empire to rise and the republic to fall.

And it made no damn sense.

The clones were loyal, they were compassionate and kind people. The republic had enslaved them, but Obi-wan knew that there had been a fight for clone rights in the making. He had been part of it after all, but it came too late.

Cody shot him in the back. Quite literally. With a canon.

This time he would do better by them. Maybe he could prove his worth to them, show Cody that he would do anything for him and his brothers.

(Jedi don’t get attached. Obi-wan has never been a particularly good jedi)

He took the com code he got from Anakin and placed it on the desk.

Padme would help him. He knew she would. Bail as well. They were good people; he just had to give them a little push in the right direction.

So, he drafted a letter. And then a bill.

The time on his holoclock ticked past at an alarming rate, but still he wrote. Coruscant slept around him as he worked, lights blinking lazily. For a minute, things were calm. It had been years since he had last stayed up so late, holopad in hand as he researched the intricacies of proving species to be sentient and the loopholes in government laws.

At three in the morning, he sent the rough draft to the two esteemed senators. With Padme’s he sent an apology for the lateness of his message. With Bails he sent a rather pointed note about his (still secret) relationship with a certain queen of Alderaan.

Force, he hoped they would listen. Surely they had to listen.

He pulled the list of Sith back out and ran his eyes over it. Again, and again, and again.

There was one place they all converged. One place they had all visited at some point during the war. He realized it with a start, and immediately pulled up a map of the system.

If he went there, if he braved the storm he would likely be walking straight into –

He may be able to bargain the help of someone who would know more about his time situation. She was older than he would ever know after all, and privy to information he knew nothing of. Mother Talzin always was a bit of a mystery to him.

Dathomir. He had to go to Dathomir


Master Yoda found him outside his quarters in the early hours of the morning.

The sun had just begun to rise over the great windows, sending beams of pure light onto the floor in geometric patterns. The plants that grew in the corridors seemed to reach out towards it, trying to gulp the brightness that had appeared. Obi-wan had watched the sunrise from his room. Oranges melting into pinks and blues. It was the most beautiful thing he had seen in a long time.

Now, he stood outside his great-grandmasters door, waiting for him to appear.

Obi-wan had planned it all out, everything he was going to say. Master Yoda would understand the benefits of sending him to Dathomir once he had explained his reasoning. It was only logical of course, in terms of the war. Except for the fact that it wasn’t, but Obi-wan reckoned he could sway the troll if he tried hard enough.

And then said troll had walked out of his rooms, gimmer stick tapping off the ground in an uneven rhythm.

“Master Obi-wan, early it is.” Came the croaked voice, speech so familiarly muddled.

The thoughts that had bubbled round in his head reduced to nothingness. “Is this real?” Was the first thing out of his mouth. How could he ask anything else? No matter how hard he had tried to ignore the question that snagged in the back of his mind, he couldn’t manage it.

Thwack.

The gimmer stick connected with his shin. Though he would later deny it, Obi-wan let out a rather pathetic screech as he pulled his poor leg up and out of the way.

“Real that felt? Hmmm? Real this is.” Yoda declared, banging the stick on the ground for emphasis.

Yes, that had felt real. He had been in this reality for far too long for it to be anything else. This was real. He was back in time, reliving the clone wars.

He could save everyone.

Or destroy things so thoroughly there would be no going back.

“Master Yoda, it is the will of the force that I go to Dathomir.”

Not what he had intended to say, but the force whispered encouragingly in his ear. Master Yoda pinched his brows together, pulling his ‘I’m old and wizened and smarter than you’ face.

“Dathomir hmm? The will of the force, a jedi must follow. To Dathomir you will go. Commander Cody, you will bring. Protection and aid is needed when dealing with the nightsisters you are.”

“Cody? But – “

“The will of the force, this is. Heed it, you must.” The green gremlin interrupted in a fashion unbefitting of a jedi master, then nodded sagely and hobbled off. Obi-wan was left standing speechless in the corridors of a memory.

Well then, it seemed he was off to Dathomir. He would have to say goodbye to his padawans and pack his things.

And find Cody.

Dathomir was waiting for him, and he had a feeling he was not going to like what he found there.

Chapter Text

"To seek something is to believe in its possibility." - Season 5, Episode 3

 

Anakin, in true Anakin fashion, had begged to accompany Obi-wan to Dathomir. Ahsoka too, though she at least seemed to accept how dangerous the mission would be and how much both herself and Anakin were needed in the war effort. Whilst her master sulked like the moody teenager he was, she only nodded grimly at his explanation and left the issue to lie. Her displeasure echoed through the bond he had begun to form with her, but her determination and resolve was stronger.

That being said, Obi-wan ended up leaving two very grumpy padawans behind with a heartfelt apology and a promise to com them regularly. He also left them a packet of sweets each and a training schedule so they could work on their coordination as a pair, but he thought of those as secondary items. Whether they would actually train like he suggested was luck of the draw.

It was only once he entered the cruiser, bags in hand with a clone commander trailing behind him, that he truly understood the gravity of this decision.

He was leaving his two troublemaking padawans unsupervised in the middle of a war to run off to a witch planet on the vague hope it might help. Not only that, but he had somehow managed to pull his poor commander along with him. It was not a choice he would have made in his previous life, but what option did he have? Palpatine had to be stopped. No matter the cost.

His padawans would be fine. They would be. He just had to trust them and put his faith in the force. Obi-wan was brought back in time for a reason, he had to make it count.

That didn’t help him explain to his poor commander why the two of them were abandoning the garrison to run off alone. Somehow obi-wan thought the ‘will of the force’ excuse wasn’t going to cut it. He honestly still wasn’t sure why Yoda had let him go. The old master must have sensed something important to have allowed it. Cody on the other hand wouldn’t be able to sense anything so important and was likely wondering what his General was smoking.

It came as no surprise when his commander cornered him after takeoff. Obi-wan had just left the debatable comfort of the pilot’s seat (He never had liked flying) when Cody materialized at the door, asking in the politest way possible for a mission briefing.

For a few seconds, there was no sound between them but the hum of the hyperdrive.

“What do you know of Dathomir?” Obi-wan asked, it was likely the clone had been doing his own research on the matter, and if he was going to brief Cody, he had to know what information he was already privy to.

“Dathomir is located in the Quelli section of the outer rim territories and is often referred to as the ‘rancor planet’ due to the beasts that live there,” Cody recited blankly, staring just to the left of Obi-wans head. What was so interesting about the control panel behind him was a mystery to be sure. Cody hesitated then before pushing on, “It is rumored that the planet is home to witches, though there is very little proof of this.”

Ok. That at least gave Obi-wan something to work from. Cody couldn’t know the real reason for this mission, wouldn’t believe him even if he did, but Obi-wan could tell him the truth. From a certain point of view.

“Dathomir is home to a clan of very powerful force users,” He began, cataloguing his commanders’ reactions, “As you said, they are indeed known as ‘witches’ though they call themselves the nightsisters. You have actually met one before, Asaaj Ventress.”

A curious expression crossed Cody’s face, force presence flaring in a mixture of anger and fear. In the short time she had been present on the field of battle, Ventress had managed to garner a reputation as a sadistic killer who targeted clones.

The ship creaked slightly, metal groaning around them.

“It is our belief that the separatists, Count Dooku specifically, may try to bargain the help of this clan. If they were to join forces, the consequences would be disastrous. It is our intention to get there first and warn them of the Sith’s treachery. In the best-case scenario, we may also be able to win their favor, though I doubt it.”

Cody nodded.

“Sir, if they find out that you were the one to, uh, deal with Ventress – “

“That will not be a problem.” Obi-wan assured. If anything, mother Talzin would be grateful for his intervention. He had gotten the impression Ventress had always been one of her favorites.

“That being said,” He continued, “It is important to note that the nighsisters are a matriarchal society. They will not be very impressed with two males wandering into their territory. I must ask that you not provoke or threaten them, no matter how violent they appear.”

Cody shuddered, likely imagining doubles of Ventress advancing on him with blades ignited and laughter ringing behind them.

“And if they decide to kill us?” He asked.

Obi-wan huffed, that would indeed be problematic. Though he was certain it wouldn’t happen.

“The nightsisters would not do such a thing without first consulting mother Talzin, and she has a good enough reason to listen to me that I doubt she would make such a decision.”

Cody nodded, then smiled a little.

“Right, uh, thanks. Sir.”

Obi-wan just waved nonchalantly. He did not voice the thoughts that swirled around in his head.

Don’t thank me yet, he almost wanted to say, I may be about to get you killed.

It wouldn’t come to that. Force, he hoped it wouldn’t come to that.


(Foreign-change-jedi-Intruder.)

There were strangers on her planet. Two men, she was sure. One felt stubborn and unyielding, a stone in a rushing river that refuses to be swayed. The other had traces of her force presence in his aura, though she was certain they hadn’t met before. How – curious.

The shadows had been whispering to her for some time now. At first, she hadn’t understood what they were trying to say, but it was impossible to ignore the imbalance that had struck the force not so long ago. Something was happening beyond the reaches of her presence. Something big. Many times, she had prayed to the fanged god for clarity on this matter, but none had come.

(Change-hush-safe-change)

Perhaps these visitors would bring with them the answers she sought. Mother Talzin had been warned of their arrival, the planet keen to aid in her search. A rogue Jedi it seemed, and his loyal commander. They were very far from home, and very insistent in the force.

(Change-danger-change-ASHLA)

It would not be long now until they arrived in her domain. Patience was the only thing that stood between herself and them. Mother Talzin had lived a long life, had stared into the depths of her planet and drawn power from its Ichor. She had seen the dead raised and watched stars fall away to ash.

She could wait for her answers.

And they would come. By the fanged god, they would come.


When Cody exited the ship, he was met with a knife at his throat and a dozen energy bows pointed at his head. It had been an expected affront, though that didn’t stop the instinctual panic that raced up his spine. He glanced at his General who was calmy walking towards the crazy ladies in hoods. It had been quite unnerving to see them materialize from the underbrush, and he had just about refrained from grabbing the blaster off his hip. Though, it had been close.

In the moment of silence that came over them, he took the time to examine the terrain. Marshes stretched out before him, filled with trees whose roots twisted and tangled together. Every inch of the ground was covered in foliage. He squinted upwards, noticing that the leaves provided little opportunity for the light to shine through into the forest. The effect was a deeply disturbing picture of mist and humidity.

The perfect place for an ambush, and they had walked willingly into it.

Kenobi cleared his throat, catching the attention of the horde that surrounded them. Not that they had ever taken their eyes off the two intruders but oh well.

Then the man opened his mouth.

“Take me to your leader!” His idiot General bellowed, a shit-eating grin plastered on his face, and Cody fought the urge to sigh. If they were trying to get themselves killed as soon as possible, this would be the way to do it.

Kenobi didn’t seem concerned, however, as the witches clapped the two in handcuffs and shoved a bag over their heads. In fact, as they were paraded who-knows-where the familiar sound of the man flirting washed over him.

“You know, I do prefer to be asked before I’m blindfolded. Not that I mind, but I would have liked to at least know your name first.”

Cody tripped, water from what he presumed was marshland splashing into his boot. Great. Now he would have to deal with wet socks as well as an insane General.

“Silence jedi” One of the women hissed, and Cody almost sympathized with her. It was honestly a miracle that Kenobi was still alive. With his sense of self-preservation – or lack thereof – paired with his natural inclination to sass opponents, Cody really did wonder about his sanity.

The journey continued mostly in silence from then on, punctuated only by Kenobi’s observations.

“Quite the grip on you my dear, do try not to steer me into any more bushes.”

“Talkative as ever is see, silence it is.”

“I’m sure your mother approves of your rudeness.”

After what seemed like hours of stumbling blindly through the forest, the sounds of civilization reached Cody’s ears. It seemed they were here.

Wherever ‘here’ was.

There was a cool wind on his face, so different from the stifling humidity of the swamplands. Whispers brushed against his ears as they were lead through what he presumed to be a town. His only solace was in the occasional bumps of his General’s shoulder against his own.

This was fine.

They were going to be fine. He just had to trust that Kenobi knew what he was doing, which was a rare occurrence these days. Cody had been certain the man was at least more competent than other Jedi Generals when he had managed to successfully defeat the seppies on Christophsis and survive the battle of Geonosis.

Recently, he was beginning to doubt that impression.

He was pulled from his thoughts by the bag being ripped off of his head.

Brightness overwhelmed his vision, and he squeezed his eyes shut, body braced for any violence that may occur. When he opened them again, he was faced with an exceptionally strange looking woman in a red robe.

Her face was pale, like the women who had cornered them in the swamps, but she was – tall. She towered above himself and the General, dark spots over her eyes casting an expression that Cody would usually find intimidating. At this point, he was far too weirded out to care.

He turned to look at Kenobi, quickly scanning him over for injuries. When he found none – which was rather surprising considering the man had talked his damn mouth off – he glanced around the room.

They seemed to be in some sort of stone temple, great carved pillars holding the fortress up. Around them were women all dressed in the same red clothes and hoods, though they varied in style. Their weapons ranged from energy bows to knives to swords, he thought he saw a whip on one of their belts as well, but he couldn’t be sure.

“Mother Talzin,” His General began drawing Cody’s gaze back to the strange woman – witch – whatever she was, “It is an Honor to meet you in this life.”

The tall woman – mother Talzin – turned towards him.

“In this life? So, we have met before in another one, jedi.”

Her voice held a heavy accent, and when she spoke it sounded like the shadows spoke with her. They seemed to jump and sway around her frame, and Cody wasn’t sure if it was his eyes or more force osik that he would have to ask his general about later. If they survived until later that was.

“You have been expecting me, I see. I am willing to share with you the answers that you seek, but my friend and I have travelled a long way and are in dire need of some rest. We would be grateful if you could provide us with such, in return I will offer you what I can in terms of the knowledge you seek.” Kenobi continued, meeting the witch’s eye with no hesitation.

She laughed slightly at that, seemingly bemused by his attitude, before she waved a hand.

“The witches of Dathomir know little of hospitality but we will offer you what we have – after you have proved your worth.”

Cody did not like the sound of that. He did not like the sound of that at all.

“I suppose you would like to see proof of my statement? Very well. If you allow my dear commander to wait outside, I will gladly assuage your doubts in the privacy you will surely provide.” His General challenged, flirtatious smirk flitting about his face.

For a minute, Cody was terrified of what Talzin would demand of him, and what his General would give.

It seemed he had no time to worry about that though. Within the blink of an eye Kenobi was being led through one of the giant doors, leaving Cody alone and surrounded by bloodthirsty witches.

Well shit.

Chapter Text

"Who a person truly is cannot be seen with the eye." - Season 4, Episode 4

 

The room Obi-wan was dragged into was one he recognized. He had seen it before, so many years ago when he and Anakin had come here in search of answers.

The table in the middle was the very one they had sat at, the same red garnishing’s and marbled surface. Back then Anakin had been at his back, covering his old masters six as he always did. They had been in and out of the planet’s atmosphere quick, laughing and joking about being home at the temple in time for tea.

This time, Obi-wan was alone. Well, alone save for mother Talzin.

He wasn’t sure he would ever understand the witch. The power she and the rest of the nighsisters drew from the planet’s ichor was one thing, but the way she used that power to call on knowledge she could not possibly possess – that was something else. She was certainly more powerful than he had anticipated. It was something to watch out for certainly.

Obi-wan took a seat at the table at the gesture of the women. When she sat across from him, she did not speak for a few seconds. Instead, she stared directly into his eyes in a way that was most definitely not unnerving. No, not at all.

“You carry traces of this planet on you, yet I am certain you have never been here before.” She said, shadows rising and falling with the pitch of her voice. The sound echoed around the room as though the walls themselves were whispering the words to each other in hushed tones.

“Not in this timeline, no. But in another I came here in search of answers. It is the reason I have returned.” He said, measuring his sentences carefully. In his past life Obi-wan had not had much contact with Talzin, he did not know how she would react to such an unbelievable statement.

He was surprised when she only nodded seriously, then stood and made her way over to a wooden cabinet in the corner of the room. Inside was an array of cups and bottles. The cups ranged from old and rusted looking to gleaming and gold. The bottles on the other hand were filled with various liquids and labelled in a language he could not read. Talzin took three vials and one cup that was engraved with sigils and markings.

She did not even check the labels, so sure was her hand.

“I believe you, but my sisters cannot accept the word of one jedi alone.” She explained, laying the materials out on the table. “This drink will allow our minds to connect, showing me your memories in a way that will not damage your mental state or your shields.”

Well, that was – terrifying. She was going to, what, fuse their minds? Join to Obi-wans consciousness and swim through his memories? Yeah. No thanks. He would have to pass on that one.

It wasn’t like he could just say that to the scary witch lady though. He had to have a little more tact.

“Will I be able to control the memories that you see? I have rather a lot of them, some of which I would rather not relive.”

She hummed, pulling the stopper off a bottle that held bubbling green liquid and emptying the contents into the cup. She swirled it around and he watched as the color shifted from green to a vibrant purple.

“You will have some element of control, but I will know if you deliberately try to keep things from me.” She said, opening the next bottle and tipping a sprinkle of gold powder into the glass.

“Sounds fair.” He said absently as he watched the mixture once again change color from purple to a clear blue. “How do I know you’re not trying to poison me?” He asked, going for a comedic tone even though he was beginning to seriously wonder about the likelihood of that possibility.

“If I wanted to kill you then it would already be so.” Talzin said and honestly? Fair enough. She was certainly more powerful than him and Obi-wan couldn’t rationalize a reason why she wouldn’t just kill him if that’s what she wanted.

The witch lifted the cup to her lips, blowing the steam away that rose from the top before taking a sip. Then she handed it over to him, face set in stone and yet somehow managing to convey a sense of expectancy.

He took the cup and stared down at the mixture. It still appeared clear, but if he turned it around in the light, he could see veins of lime green running through the liquid.

He grimaced.

“Bottoms up.” He said, grinning in a way that he was certain looked more like a grimace before taking a careful sip of the potion.

It burned as it travelled down his throat, and he fought not to spit it straight back out again. He looked up to see Mother Talzin smiling, though he didn’t know why. The potion hadn’t seemed to work. He didn’t feel any different. He opened his mouth to say as much but found no sound would come.


Then his vision went black, and the shadows whispered to him. The last thing he remembered was falling backwards off his seat and feeling rather embarrassed about that fact.

He was thirteen and there was a slave collar around his neck. It tore and burned at his skin. It was nothing compared to the slaver in front of him, brandishing a whip and screaming at him to hurry up. He gritted his teeth. Qui-Gon would come. He had to come.

He was fourteen and around him children were dying. He couldn’t save them, though he tried. He tried so heard. “Obi- plea – Obi,” Cerasi gasped, hands clutched over her stomach. No. No no nononono. He cried then. He couldn’t help it.

A voice brushed against his mind and drew him away from that grief. He went willingly, he didn’t want her to see him in that wreck. It felt strange, to realize so suddenly there was another being occupying your mind.

He was 20 something and on Tatooine, there was a boy who shone brightly in the force, oh so brightly. He knew this boy was going to replace him. Then he watched his master get stabbed, he watched the zabrak fall down and down and down.

There was an anger in his mind at this, a sense of fury at his past self’s action. He supposed Maul was one of mother Talzins children as well. Her fingers grasped the memory, then let it drift back into his subconsciousness.

Things moved quicker then, he watched Anakin grow up in leaps and bounds, watched as he panicked about teaching the boy to swim, settling for simply chucking him in the deep end.

Then there was war again. If there was one thing Obi-wan was good at, it was war.

Geonosis, Christophsis, and Ryloth passed in a flash. Mandalore. He pushed those memories away; he did not want Talzin to touch them. He could not let her touch them.

Then came Savage Opress and the return of Maul, then the massacre of the nightsisters.

Cody shooting him in the back.

Anakin’s eyes were yellow. Why were they yellow? He had come back, hadn’t he? He could save him.

Tatooine’s binary suns bore down on him again. He could feel his skin peeling away where he was burnt. Luke was so small in his arms, so small and so fragile. He had to protect him. He would protect him.

The suns disappeared and suddenly he was hitting the floor, breath knocked out of him. It took a minute for him to realize that he had seen his entire life play out in the space of a second and was only now reaching the floor after falling from his chair.

Mother Talzin offered him a hand which he took, trying to re-orientate himself in the presence of the witch.

When she looked at him, there was a mix of curiosity, pity, and anger brewing in her eyes.

“It is true then; the force has seen fit to sent you back.”

He laughed, a horrid and ragged thing.

“Yes,” He said, voice coming out in a strangled rasp, “For whatever Sith sworn reason, yes it has.”

Mother Talzin nodded, then returned to her seat at the table.

“You will return here tomorrow to discuss this future of yours, but for now, let us talk of how I can help you. I know how to locate Maul.”


Deep breath in, hold for seven, exhale for eight. In for four, hold for seven, out for eight.

It was an exercise he had used often on Kamino. Alpah-17 had taught it to him as Cody tried to make it through his training. It slowed the heart, allowing the mind to think clearer and act more rationally.

Currently, it was the only thing preventing him from making a break through the doors to find his General and dragging him back to the ship.

He didn’t know how long he had been standing silently in the stone hallway, hundreds of eyes burning holes into his back. At least Cody still had his blaster hanging from his hip. Why the nightsisters hadn’t removed it, he didn’t know.

Actually, that wasn’t true. He was almost certain they had left it on him as a message. A reminder that even with a weapon, he would not be able to fight his way out of this, not when they numbered so many. Still, it was a comforting weight. It let him know that if he was attacked, he at least had some methods of self-defense open to him.

Wait for the General, he told himself. Kenobi would be back soon and then they could get the hell off this freaky planet and away from all its freaky inhabitants. The witches definitely counted as freaky. They had been staring at him long enough for him to realize how predatorial they acted.

In a way, they reminded him of his brothers. Fiercely loyal and highly protective of each other.

It was at this thought that something tugged on the armor of his leg.

He spun, blaster finding its way into his hand and pointing down at the threat, he trained its focus on –

On a child. A child who was now gazing up at him in fear. There was a collective intake of breath from around him as the witches prepared themselves to jump to the youngling’s rescue should Cody attack her.

He lowered the blaster, then attached it back on the clasp of his belt.

The girl smiled at him, yellow eyes crinkled in a way that would someday be terrifying but currently looked adorable with their doe-ish shape and her messily braided silver hair. The markings on her face were less pronounced than those the adults bore, two faint lines beneath her eyes, one stretching over her nose, and another two traveling up to her forehead. The pale hand tugged on his leg again and he bent down, bringing himself to the girl’s eye level.

“Hey there kid, you wanna ask me something?” Cody said, trying to ignore the way the other women hissed at him in a not so silent threat, hands still attached to their weapons. The kid didn’t seem phased by this however, leaning in towards Cody with a tilt to her head.

“What is that thing?” The girl asked in a thick accent, pointing to his blaster.

She – didn’t know what a blaster was? But she was supposed to be a nightsister, an assassin in training, how could she not know what a blaster was? Maybe it just wasn’t a thing here. He glanced around quickly, trying to see if any of the other assassins had any type of firearm.

All he could see were knives and bows.

“It’s, uh, it’s my blaster kid, I use it to shoot things, like big monsters that will come and eat you up.” He said seriously, causing the girl to giggle in a high-pitched shriek. As soon as the sound left her mouth, she pulled her hands up to muffle it as though she hadn’t meant to laugh.

Then she looked closer at the weapon and wrinkled her nose.

“I bet it’s not as good as a plasma bow.” She said, then pointed to a woman in the crowd who had one slung over her back. “My sister says plasma bows are the bestest weapon cause they’re suuuuuuper light an’ they’re really deadly too.”

Cody laughed. It seemed that cadets were the same everywhere, whether that was Kamino or Coruscant or even the swamplands of Dathomir. Too obsessed with weapons for their own good and way to impressed with their older siblings.

“Is that so? Well, I guess your sister must be right,” He said, and the woman the little girl had pointed to puffed up slightly, “but how would she know if she’s never used a blaster before?”

The girl stood and thought about it for a moment, biting her lip and swaying on her heels. She glanced over at the woman who Cody assumed was her sister, but she merely shrugged, ironic grin plastered on her face. The girl nodded.

“You’re pretty smart mister. Maybe she should try a blaster. What’s your name anyway?”

“I’m Cody, and who might you be?”

“I’m Merrin an’ that’s my big sister Dresdema,” The girl – Merrin said as she pointed to the amused looking woman with the plasma bow “We call her ‘Dres’ for short though cause it’s easier to say.”

Cody nodded, smiling at her explanation. “It’s very nice to meet you Merrin.”

As she grinned up at him again, an idea struck. An idea that may very well take the title of the worst idea he had ever had. Followed closely by the time he had decided to challenge Gree to a spice eating contest and ended up with his tongue burnt off.

“Hey, why don’t you call your sister over here and see if she wants a shot of my blaster, then we can see which one is actually better?” He asked, hoping that suggesting using his weapon wouldn’t get him impaled or beheaded by one of the crazy witches.

Merrin’s eyes widened, and she nodded excitedly, bouncing on her heels as she did so. Then she ran off into the crowd and grabbed her sister’s hand, dragging her over to where Cody was standing.

“Dres he says you can try his blaster thing, he said then we would know for sure which one was better. You have to try it Dres! Can I try it? Please, please, please Dres I’ll be careful with it!” Merrin babbled to the woman as she came closer to Cody.

Dresdema only patted her head before turning her gaze on him, sizing him up in a way that made his hackles rise in alarm. Her fond smile was wiped clean, and as she assessed him; he took the time to examine her.

She looked the double of her little sister, though far more terrifying. They had the exact same shade of pale skin and silver hair, though Dresdema’s was cut short and shaved on one side. Merrin had hers in two short braids that wove around the back of her head. Their facial marking differed slightly as well, but only slightly. Dresdema had wider and more pronounced marks with a few extra lines beneath the hollows of her cheeks.

“My sister says you intend to – teach the art of this weapon.” She said, drawing her lips back into an almost sneer. It looked as though all of her effort was put into being polite to him. When she looked at his blaster, however, she did seem curious despite the way she buried the expression beneath her disgust.

“I, uh, sure, why not?” He said, shrugging slightly. Cody really wasn’t sure what he was supposed to say to that. It wasn’t like shooting a blaster was an ‘art’ or anything. Hell, even the cadets could manage.

“And what do you want in return?” Dresdema asked, shoulders raised slightly in suspicion.

What did he want in return? Like payment or something? Why would she pay a clone? Never mind that, why would she pay someone to teacher her how to use something as simple as a blaster?

“Um, nothing?”

“I refuse to be indebted to an outsider.” She snarled and pulled back, hand resting on her knife.

Okay then.

It seemed that nightsisters had a very different approach to debts than clones. With his brothers, life debts were important yes, but you were expected to share knowledge. It was common curtesy to pass on your tips to the shiny’s. The more weapons you knew how to use, the more likely you were to survive.

Speaking of knowing how to use weapons -

“Okay, uh, why don’t you teach me how to use your bow then? You know, exchange skills?” He proposed. She seemed to mull this over for a minute before nodding.

Merrin whooped, throwing her arms in the air and immediately making a grab for the blaster on his hip. Luckily for the safety of all involved parties, her sister managed to snag her back at the last minute.

Dresdema looked Cody dead in the eye as he held his blaster out, offering it to her and hoping she wouldn’t immediately try to shoot him.

She took it gingerly, running her eyes and fingers over the metal before turning back to him.

“Show me.”

Chapter Text

"One must let go of the past to hold onto the future" - Season 4, Episode 19

 

After his little talk with Talzin, Obi-wan was left wondering many things.

She had said she knew how to find Maul, and he wasn’t sure if that relieved or scared him. In the end, he had made his peace with that particular enemy. Maul had been a victim as much as he had, twisted and warped by the same Sith who had engineered the death of Obi-wans people, his master included.

If Obi-wan found the Zabrak, he wasn’t sure what he would do.

Would he have to kill Maul, broken and angry as he was? Would there be any way to help him, to fix the mess of a brain that his agony had left him with?

There was no way of knowing. And that was what scared him.

Obi-wan knew many things for certain, his knowledge of the future giving him insight into people’s motives and character, but there were some things that were beyond his reach. Even now, he was changing the course of the future so drastically that his knowledge could end up being entirely useless.

He had come to Dathomir to find answers, but all he had come across so far were questions.

With questions he needed an answer to in mind, where had Cody gotten off to?

Obi-wan had left the room with Talzin and expected to see his dear commander, stiff as a board and uncomfortable around the nightsisters, but instead was faced only with empty space. There were a few witches wandering about, but the previously crowded hall was now empty and quiet.

That was concerning.

He stretched his force presence out, searching for the steady thrum of Cody. There – not too far away, surrounded by dozens of other buzzing energies. Nightsisters.

He couldn’t explain the panic that came over him, the utter fear that Cody was in danger. In fact, it happened so fast he was hardly able to process it. One second, he was standing beside Talzin and the next his legs were moving towards Cody.

It was the only thing he could think off, heart pounding in his throat. Cody, Cody, Cody.

He had to reach him in time, he couldn’t lose anyone else.

He burst out of the hall and came out into the swamp lands, lightsaber in his hands and ready to fight.

Instead of a betrayal or a massacre, he was faced with something very different.

Cody was holding a plasma bow, brows furrowed in steady concentration as he aimed it at one of the targets the witches had set up. Beside him, a nightsister was directing his movements.

“Lift your arm higher,” She said, “You should be able to look down the length of it and see the point where the arrow will hit.”

Cody adjusted his position, then released the drawn string. The plasma arrow moved faster than any blaster bolt, scorching the side of the target. It was far from the center, but considering his commander had only just got here, it was surprisingly accurate.

On the other side of Cody was a little girl, bouncing on her heels and holding his Commanders blaster. It was far too heavy for her, but she was managing to keep the tip off the floor and seemed to be having a grand time of blasting random trees and cheering when she hit them. Obi-wan was somewhat relieved to see it had been set to stun.

It seemed Cody had been busy making friends with the local homicidal maniacs. Well, perhaps it was time he introduce himself.

“Evening ladies!” He called, causing a number of eyes to turn and lock onto him. Of course many of them had already sensed he was there, but he assumed they had deemed him unimportant compared to their little impromptu lesson.

Cody on the other hand nearly dropped the bow with the wave of relief that rushed through his presence.

“General!” He shouted, hand coming up in an awkward half-wave-half-salute.

The child beside him actually did drop her weapon, eyes screwing shut as she took him in. Then she beckoned Cody down to her level, “Is that the Jedi?” She asked in his ear, attempting to whisper though failing spectacularly at that.

“Yeah kid, that’s the Jedi. General Obi-wan Kenobi.” Cody said, mock whispering back to the girl just as loudly.

It was sweet, the way his commander knelt down to talk to her and the way the girl clung to his leg like a limpet. Cody had been busy indeed.

“Dresdema!” A voice called from beside him and he just about managed to refrain from jumping seven foot out of sheer surprise. Obi-wan turned to see Talzin, amusement glistening in her eyes as she took in his moment of panic.

“Yes mother,” The woman who had been directing Cody answered, snapping to attention.

“Take our guests to where they will be staying and tell your sisters that they are to be made welcome.” Talzin said, emphasizing the words ‘guests’ and ‘welcome’ as though the nightsisters would misinterpret them as ‘dinner’ and ‘terrified’. Which honestly was probably not too far off.

Before he could ponder that anymore, the woman beckoned him over.

“Follow.” She said, then disappeared off into the marshes.

He looked at Cody who was only grinning fondly after her, as though they had known each other for years. For the first time, Obi-wan realized that his commander was probably comfortable around the nightsisters because they were familiar. Not them specifically, but the way they interacted and the sisterhood they prized. It shouldn’t have been surprising.

“Shall we?” He asked his commander with a smirk, and together they set off into the wilderness and hopefully, Obi-wan thought to himself, not to their death.


The shack was stationed in the middle of nowhere. It was surrounded by wilderness on either side, packed dirt lining the walls and a curtain of woven threads covering the door, small but comfortable. Or at least it would have been if it didn’t remind Obi-wan so much of Tatooine. It was almost the same size as the hut he had stayed in so briefly, the one he could hardly recall through the haze of alcohol tinted memories. It was where he and Cody would be staying for the night, courtesy of some very threatening nightsisters.

When they had arrived, Dresdema had turned to Cody. “Return with the Jedi tomorrow,” She had said, “You are still shit at firing that bow.” And then she had left them with a smirk and a wave, vanishing back into the trees.

Obi-wan had laughed a little at that, it seemed war followed him everywhere.

As they entered the hut, he realized how generous the offer of accommodation truly was, considering what Mother Talzin had just seen in Obi-wan’s mind. In his own timeline, the nightsisters had been wiped out as Talzin herself had witnessed. As far as he was aware, there were no survivors. More than anyone else, Obi-wan understood the horror of surviving a genocide. For Talzin to have simply given them a place to stay even whilst knowing that the Jedi’s inaction had caused it, well. Obi-wan wasn’t going to look a gift Bantha in the mouth.

The other problem with the accommodation was the fact that the hut felt far too vulnerable. Out in the middle of the wilderness, no reinforcements, no cover, no nothing. It was the perfect spot for an ambush, and it was putting Obi-wan on edge.

“Sir?” Cody asked, hovering anxiously by the door. “I can stand guard sir, for tonight.”

Of course. Always so practical, following the rules to the letter. It made complete sense that Cody would offer this. They were in the middle of enemy territory, surrounded by potential threats. But Obi-wan had the force and his prior knowledge to reassure him of safety.

“That won’t be necessary Cody, we are quite safe here. A rest will do us both some good, we wouldn’t want to be at anything but our best tomorrow. The force will alert me if there is any danger.” He reasoned, thinking of the day to come. He knew Mother Talzin would demand more from him than what he had already shown. He remembered the feeling of her poking around in his head, the violating nature of her voice echoing around his mind, within his shields. He was not looking forward to a repeat performance.

Cody still hesitated, hovering for a second more before advancing further into the room.

“yes sir. I’ll take the floor.” He said, tacking on the end sentence with an awkward assuredness. Obi-wan cast his gaze around the room.

Ah.

Only one bed.

That could potentially be problematic. He had not expected such a predicament and certainly did not want to make his poor commander sleep on the floor of all places. Too often had Cody been placed second, his life was just as important as anyone else’s, and Obi-wan was determined to prove as such.

“Nonsense Cody, I have the force to sustain me. The bed is yours.”  He said, waving his hand dismissively. That was true. . . from a certain point of view. Obi-wan did have the force to keep him awake, but he had already been leaning on it heavily for the past few days. Other things had preoccupied his nights – Anakin’s eyes were yellow –  and he couldn’t keep that up for much longer, but one night would hardly make a difference.

“Sir, I couldn’t possibly – “

“Oh, what are we doing?” He interrupted, “we are both adults. We can share the bed, if there is no issue.” He was a jedi master, he could face sharing a bed with his commander for one night. Why would there be an issue on his part?

“Hnrg” Came the strangled sound from Cody, his force presence flooded with – embarrassment? Shame? Obi-wan wasn’t sure. It was sometimes hard to tell when the emotions were tangled together.

“Um, yes, okay. Sure sir.” Cody said, clearing his throat before bending down to remove his armor. His movements were jerky and awkward, but he didn’t seem too uncomfortable in the force.

Obi-wan couldn’t stop the wave of fondness that washed through him. My dear commander.

He sat down on the edge of the bed, not bothering to remove his boots. If something happened in the night, an attack or the like, he wanted to be prepared. He would just sleep as he was. It was safer that way.

He almost pitied Cody, he knew that his commander felt uncomfortable without his armor on, too bare. But Obi-wan couldn’t imagine it being all too comfortable to sleep in.

He tried not to look at Cody as he stripped down to his blacks. He firmly ignored the hot blush that was working its way up his face to the tips of his ears. Get it together Kenobi. It was undeniable that Cody was handsome, but he wasn’t some crushing padawan, he could control his thoughts.

The bed itself wasn’t too small and could quite comfortably hold both Cody and Obi-wan, as he soon found out. His commander slipped under the covers next to him and his heart missed a beat. He tried to play off the stuttering of his breath as a cough. Obi-wan turned to face the door, and behind him Cody did the same.

“It feels safer, doesn’t it? Keeping it in sight.” Obi-wan said.

“yes sir.” Cody’s voice was slightly hoarse, sending shivers through him. This was fine. Just two professional adults in a strictly professional relationship doing professional things.

He could feel the rise and fall of his Commanders chest behind him. Warm breath tingled on the back of his neck.

It made something in Obi-wan’s skin come alive.

“Comfortable, commander?” He asked, aiming for a teasing tone and failing spectacularly.

“Very, sir.” Cody said. And just like that Obi-wan realised. He was desperately, hopelessly in love with his Commander.

(He is falling, why is he falling? There was a blast – Cody?)

It was like realising the sky was blue or that the world was round, he was certain that he had always been aware of it on some level, he just hadn’t truly noticed until now.

He realised just as quickly that he would have to bury the feeling deep down inside of him. As deep as he could dig. It could never happen. He was Cody’s superior, it was improper. Of course, that hardly mattered considering he would never reciprocate Obi-wans feelings anyway.

(Cody shot him. Cody tried to kill him. Obi-wan still loved him.)

“Goodnight, sir.” Cody said, so softly that Obi-wan wasn’t sure if he had actually said it at first. The force was laughing at him. It had dropped the perfect man right in front of him, had brought Obi-wan back here to realise it, only to know that it could never happen.

“Goodnight, commander.”

Okay. Fine. Now he just needed to last through the night. He could do that.

Obi-wan had the sinking suspicion that he would not be getting much sleep. He took a deep breath, ignoring the warmth of Cody behind him and resigned himself to what he was sure would be a long, restless night.


There was blood on his hands.

There was blood on his hands that wasn’t his own.

Cerasi was bleeding out and he couldn’t stop it. She tried to tell him something, but the only thing that came out of her mouth was blood. It ran down her chin and joined the redness seeping from the wound on her chest.

 He was crying, the tears were black. They painted streaks on his face as they rolled down.

Where was Anakin? Where did he go? He had to find him.

The body in his arms was heavy, and when he looked down it wasn’t Cerasi anymore, it was Cody.

“Why?” The corpse whispered, “Why did you kill me?”

There was a lightsabre in his hands that he didn’t know he had. There was a lightsabre in his hands, and it was piercing Cody’s flesh. The tears were back in black waves, and they pooled at his feet.

The body changed from Cody to a youngling. The lightsabre in his hands wasn’t blue.

Where was Anakin?

Mechanical breathing. I HATE YOU

Nononononono how did he find me.

The twins. He had to protect the twins, he had to-

But then he was falling. The pool of black tears had opened into a bottomless pit, and he was falling. Down and down and down and down. The blackness surrounded him, but it burned. The black was separated by cracks of glowing red.

Yellow eyes stared into his.

Cody’s voice rang from somewhere in the distance, but it was muffled and unintelligible. Why was Cody so far away? He should be right next to Obi-wan, like he always was.

There was blood on his hands again. But this time it belonged to him. When he looked down, his heart was missing. Instead, there was a gaping, bloody hole where it should have been.

He was screaming. His ears were burning from the noise of it, but he couldn’t stop screaming. Flames and hate and the stench of burnt flesh

I HATE YOU -

“Gene------ please----------AKE UP---------OBI-WAN”

That sounded like Cody. But Obi-wan killed Cody, so why-?

“GENERAL-----------PLEA-------------------BI-WAN!-------GHTMARE”

 

-

 

Obi-wan woke up with a scream still lodged in his throat. He could feel cold sweat on his palms and for a minute all he could do was sit and try to force air into his lungs. Where – where was he?

“General?”

He scrambled back as fast as he could, hitting his head on something as panic overtook his system, one thought running through his head. Get away.

Because that was a clone’s voice, and if they were here, they were here for the twins.

“No, I won’t let you hurt them, you can’t. they’re just kids, please.” The string of words was out of his mouth before he could process or stop them. He couldn’t tell if the tears on his face were from the nightmare or the desperation.

“General, it’s okay. It’s me, its Cody. Can you follow my breathing? In and out, nice and slow.”

Something about that sentence managed to register in his mind, and he calmed enough to try and follow the clones’ instructions. After all, panicking would get him nowhere.

In.

Out.

In.

Out.

Little by little, rational thought came back to him. He wasn’t on Tatooine, the twins weren’t here. He was in the past. he was on Dathomir. He was in bed with his commander.

Wait-

“Cody?” He asked, his voice nothing more than a trembling whisper.

“It’s ok sir, you’re doing great. Just keep breathing, it’s okay.” Cody said, and he was so much closer than Obi-wan had thought. He hadn’t fully processed his commander’s hand slowly rubbing circles on his back or the stabling hold he had on Obi-wans shoulder.

Now, it was impossible to ignore.

“I’m sorry Cody, I didn’t mean to wake you.” He had been the one to suggest sharing the bed after all, and now his nightmares plagued Cody as well as him.

“It’s okay general, I get them too.”

They stayed like that for a few moments, Obi-wan still trying to calm his heartrate and Cody sitting next to him, a comforting presence, slowly rubbing circles on his back.

“You can call me Obi-wan; you know.” He said eventually, proud of how little his voice wavered.

“General?”

He couldn’t help but laugh a little, “I do believe that we have passed the point at which it is appropriate to use each other’s names, Cody.” He said then quickly tacked on the end “When we’re off duty.”

Cody seemed to think about this for a while before answering. “I suppose you’re right, Obi-wan.” It was wonderful to hear his dear commander speak his name. He liked the way Cody said it. Obi-wan. A little bit of an accent mixed with the husk in his voice. Yes, he could get used to his commander calling him that all too easily.

Chapter Text

"Courage makes heroes, but trust builds friendships." - Season 2, Episode 17

 

The shadow smiled wide, teeth bared in a manic grin, hand clamped on Obi-wans jaw. The sabre burst into life, spilling redness across the room. He could feel its heat, the burning hatred that hovered close to his face.

“I will make sure you stay awake long enough to feel every single cut.” The voice called, deep and purring and menacing.

He struggled, Hands scrabbling at the immovable force of his enemy’s arm. He couldn’t die, not here. Not by his hand. The force would provide, it always did. But now, it was swamped with darkness. Each time he tried to grasp it the strands slid through his fingers like bubbling oil.

The tendrils of darkness in his mind pushed deeper. He didn’t want to look. He didn’t want to see.

“Your death will be beyond agonizing. You will suffer, as I have suffered.”

Maul grinned again, and Obi-wan could only watch helplessly  –

-

-

-

A cough escaped his throat as he slouched over the table, Talzin retreating from his mind. It seemed as though she had seen all she needed to see. He was glad. He hadn’t particularly wanted to relive the various tortures that Maul had put him through.

(Satine clutched his hand. I’ve always loved you, she said, and I always will.)

“Are you going to kill my son?”

It was the first thing Talzin asked when he regained his composure, returning to reality. They weren’t in the same room as before, this one seemed to be less for interrogation unfortunate prisoners and more for leisure. The carpet on the floor was the same red as the nighsister uniforms and there were comfy looking pillows spread around it. He and Talzin were sitting at the wooden table in the middle though, and the silence around them was deafening.

Obi-wan knew what she was asking, but that didn’t make the answer any easier.

Was he going to kill maul if he found him? Would he try to help him; collect the fragments of his mind that had been spread so far? Or would he end it all there? Those questions had haunted him long enough, but more than anything else, more than ever before, a different question wedged into his mind.

 Would he tell Talzin if he did?

She was a fiercely loyal women, though only to her children. She would do anything to protect them, the sister and brotherhoods that she had nurtured and grown.

But would she realize that Maul would never be at peace whilst Obi-wan lived? He couldn’t let himself die, he had too much to do, too many people to save. Perhaps it was selfish but –

“Yes.” He said, feeling the honesty ring out in the force.

He hadn’t known the answer to that question until he had said it, but Obi-wan realized it was the right choice to make. Even with Talzins interference Maul had been a wreck. Obsessed to the point of madness, he had driven himself and his brother to a grim ending. He knew he couldn’t let that happen again. And he couldn’t keep that from the witch, no matter how strong his shields.

Talzin obviously was not too fond of this answer.

The shadows seemed to swell with her presence, rising and falling with her breaths, before it cut away. Then they were back to the oppressive silence.

“Life must be paid for by life.” Talzin said at last, “It is the way of the fanged god. When he takes life, a life must be given in return. It is what you call birth and death.”

So, what, Talzin wanted him to provide a life? He really hoped that didn’t mean he had to – ehm – spar with a nightsister. For all of his flirting and flaunting, he had recently discovered he was rather enamored with a certain clone thank you very much. And no offence, but pale skin and a tendency to murder men who annoyed them mildly didn’t really do it for him.

“And how will I pay this debt?” He asked, trying not to give away what he was thinking in case Talzin had something more savory in mind.

“Maul has two brothers.” She said.

Two? Obi-wan had known Savage, the hulking giant whose arm he had severed, but a third Opress? That was new. Maybe he had stayed on Dathomir in Obi-wans first life, but that seemed unlikely given Mauls brand of crazed loyalty. It was possible he had died, but surely Maul would have enacted revenge on whoever killed him, and knowing Maul, not shut up about it for a damn second.

It was certainly strange.

“Their lives here will bring them nothing but pain, as I have seen,” Talzin continued, “To pay the debt that you have taken on, you must bring them with you when you leave. Gift them life, and you will pay for the one that was stolen from them, and from Maul.”

A life for a life, he thought, it was fair enough. There was only one small problem, he was fairly certain the council would not appreciate him coming back with two Zabraks in tow, especially after his nonsense excuse as to why he had to leave in the first place. Don’t get him wrong, Plo would be delighted to have more learners to mother, but he couldn’t imagine Yoda being so happy.

But what choice did he have? If he left them on Dathomir, then it was possible Dooku would come for Savage again. A hulking monster he may have been, but Dooku had hurt and tortured and twisted him into that mold. Nobody deserved that. Not even an enemy.

A though struck him suddenly, he could offer to pay with Ventress’ life. he had saved her from what was likely a lifetime of pain, after all. Probably. He wasn’t really sure if she had taken his warning to heart or not. Still, it could be worth a go.

That didn’t solve the problem of Savage though. Even before Maul had returned, he had been apprenticed to Dooku. Whatever caused this, he didn’t know – though he assumed it had something to do with a certain Sith Acolyte and nightsister – but he could stop it from happening for certain. If he accepted this debt, he could end that risk altogether.

After all, everyone deserves a second chance. Even murderous Zabraks who aren’t quite so murderous just yet.

“Deal.” He said, and Talzin smiled.

Then she pulled a medallion from off her neck. It was gold but laced with a green smoke that seemed to emanate around it, filling the air between them. There was a symbol carved into it, but he could not recognize it, nor did he have any idea as to what it meant.

She placed it on the table, and it seemed almost like a peace offering, like an alliance.

“This will lead you to Maul.” She said and he picked it up, turning it over in his hands. It was lighter than Obi-wan had expected, and he gently pulled the chain over his neck.

“You have my thanks.” He said, standing up to leave as she did the same.

“No Master Kenobi, you have mine. I will send word to the nightbrothers, they will be expecting your arrival.”

They left the room together and came back out into the stone corridor. Obi-wan realized that it acted as a social place, nightsisters gathering around the great pillars to spar or practice magicks.

As Talzin walked beside him, he couldn’t help but think that he had made an ally. He had expected her to help him for her own gain, not for that of her children. Obi-wan knew the importance of family though-

YOU WERE MY BROTHER ANAKIN

-he could understand.

It seemed he would have to find Cody; his poor commander would have to be notified that Obi-wan was taking a field trip to the nightbrothers.

Cody.

It was strange, to know what the feeling was that bubbled up inside of him when he thought about his commander. It had been a wonderful feeling, to wake up in the morning and find Cody bustling about the room, organizing this and that. He had been more relaxed around Obi-wan than ever.

He supposed there was just something about trauma that made people closer. It was an excellent way to bond.

Obi-wan sighed to himself, then set off in the direction of the shooting range. He knew his dear commander would be there, slaving away at that plasma bow in the hopes of perfecting it. Always so practical. Always so competent.

No.

He had to stop thinking those thoughts, had to stop indulging that – that fantasy.

That’s all it is, he told himself. It was just a fantasy to see him through, a daydream to keep him going.

The voice in the back of his mind laughed. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge, it said. Yes, that was true. He could not be ignorant anymore, not when the knowledge of his commander’s breath on his neck was lodged firmly in his mind.

Force, he hoped his mind wouldn’t continue to lament like some lovesick padawan. He was not a lovesick padawan.

Just a lovesick master.


Cody pulled the bow taught; eyes trained on the target ahead of him. He widened his stance, planting his feet. Dresdema had said it was a common mistake, focusing too much on your arms and not on your footing. He took a breath in and out, giving himself the time to aim. Don’t think about the target, think about the action, he told himself.

Then he let the arrow fly.

It always surprised him how fast it moved, the plasma taking less than a second to reach the target and burn its mark into it, just left of the bullseye. He smiled; it was an improvement from yesterday. He had at least managed to continuously hit the target instead of missing every few shots.

Dresdema clapped.

“Not too bad spaceman, you might be better than Mirrin in a few weeks.” She said.

Mirrin was off to the side, drawing shapes in the dirt and singing to herself. She seemed to be making a picture of a rancor though it appeared to have two heads and only one eye between them.

“Thanks.” He deadpanned. “And stop calling me spaceman.”

The nightsister had started it yesterday when Mirrin asked him if he had been to space. He told her about the spaceships he had been on and how he spent lots of time in space, moving between planets. That had been a mistake.

Mirrin had gone around each individual nightsister telling them that Cody had ‘come from space’. It had been cute at the time, though constantly being called ‘spaceman’ was starting to annoy him. Dresdema had been delighted, laughing at his misfortune and continuing to remind him of this nickname.

He was beginning to reconsider their agreement of trading knowledge.

He should have picked a different nightsister to learn from.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure its enough to impress that Jedi of yours. Even if he is, y’know – “ She made a weird gesture with her hands, wiggling them in front of her face.

Cody laughed. She was right. His General was – well.

He had crushed droids as if they were made of flimsy, fought with the ferocity of a dying man and the discipline of a jedi knight. Cody had seen him trick the minds of natborns and hold silent conversations with General Skywalker. If there was one way to describe the man, Dresdema had pretty much hit the nail on the head.

She of course hadn’t seen him do any of that stuff.

“How do you know he’s – “ He copied her hand movement, wiggling his fingers in a way that mimicked some form of magic.

She shrugged.

“He feels weird in the force.” She said, as if Cody knew anything about that at all. He knew theoretically that you could feel things, or people, in the force. Kenobi had done it often enough. But how did something feel weird? Did it just stand out or was it something more?

Maybe the nightsisters felt weird to Kenobi in the force.

He didn’t ask, just nodded and went back to firing.

It became a little harder to ignore that statement, however, when Kenobi appeared at the makeshift shooting range and asked to speak to him. Of course, he agreed and followed the man a little away from the nightsisters, somewhere a little more private.

“Obi-wan?” He asked. It felt strange saying the man’s name. He half expected a reprimand, hell, he would have received much worse if he had been that insubordinate on Kamino.

After last night though –

“You can call me Obi-wan; you know.” His General said, still shaking but smiling a little. He looked more vulnerable than Cody had ever seen him. The realization of what Kenobi was trusting him with was staggering. He had gone to sleep, unarmed and unprotected lying next to Cody. He had let down his guard in front of a clone who may as well have been a stranger. He agreed to the request. How could he do anything else when his general was looking at him with those pleading eyes and –

Cody trusted Kenobi. Though it scared him a little, he truly did. The man had been nothing but kind and patient with all of his brothers. He had earned Cody’s trust, and though it would be hard at times, he would give it to him.

“Cody,” Obi-wan said, pulling him from his thoughts, tone serious but not too urgent. “I know this won’t make much sense, but I need to go to the nightbrothers village.”

The nightbrothers -?  Oh, right. The Zabracks who lived on Dathomir, Obi-wan had mentioned them before. They were seen as lesser by the women and treated only as workers, similar to some species of pollinators, his mind supplied rather unhelpfully. It was strange that Obi-wan needed to go there, but who knew what Mother Talzin had been demanding of him, and what he had been supplying in return.

Cody’s job was to protect the General. If his General was going into unfamiliar territory to fulfil an unknown objective –

“I’m coming with you.” He said.

“Cody, it might be dangerous, I – “

“If it's dangerous, then you will need someone to watch your back. I’m coming.” He said.

And that was that. No reprimand for speaking out of turn, no punishment for making demands of his superior. Just a kind smile and a pat on the shoulder.

Maybe trust wasn’t such a scary thing. Maybe he just hadn’t met anyone worthy of it before. It was nice thought.

He wished that it were true.

Chapter Text

"A child stolen is a hope lost." - Season 3, Episode 4

 

Dresdema had shown them the path to the nightbrothers village, wearing that little dry smirk of hers as she warned them not to get eaten by Rancors. Apparently, she had better things to do than explain to Mirrin why her brand-new spaceman had suddenly and mysteriously gone missing. She had left them with a wink and a wave and a small shove to Cody’s shoulder when he rolled his eyes.

Obi-wan smiled at their antics, noticing how similar the interaction was to something Anakin would pull on him. ‘If you die, I’ll kill you,” he would say, smirking in that Skywalker fashion. He missed him dearly. Ahsoka too. But currently, bigger problems were on his mind.

This was the first time he and Cody had properly spent time alone together since –

Warm breath on his neck with the smell of blaster oil and polish. Hands rubbing circles into his back

Since last night. Since Obi-wan had come to quite the startling realization that he was in fact entirely in love with a man who had just met him. Of course, Obi-wan had known Cody for years, fought in countless battles by his side, spent hundreds of nights in his quarters as they worked out strategies and maneuvers, as they drank and planned and grieved together. But to Cody, those things had never happened. Obi-wan may as well have been a stranger.

It was this fact that he focused on as they trailed through the swamps, air filled with nothing but the chirping of birds. The fact that no matter how much he wanted him to, Cody wouldn’t remember how close they had once been. He wanted to speak. To say something, anything that would fill that horrid gap where smiles and laughter should be. Nothing would come up. Every time he went to speak, the words would catch in his throat and his brain would wrestle them back down.

Silly thing, it seemed to be saying, your heart is too easily given. He was beginning to think it was right.

“I’m sorry.” Were the words that eventually made their out of his mouth, “For dragging you out here like this.”

It wasn’t what he wanted to say, but it was something to fill the smothering silence that loomed over them as they walked.

“It’s not a problem, General – um, Obi-wan.” Cody said, and he couldn’t stop the warmth that rushed through him. No matter how many times he heard it, he would never tire of hearing his commander say his name. Not Kenobi, or master, or General, or even ‘Obes’ as Quinlan sometimes insisted on. He called him Obi-wan.

“Why are – I mean to say, can I ask why you, uh, need to go to the ‘nightbrothers’?” Cody asked, though he seemed unsure as to whether he should. Once more, he was torn between anger that his commander thought he had to ask permission to ask a simple question, and hope that he was finding the strength to ask anyways, that maybe he wasn’t so afraid anymore.

“I have an old debt to settle.” Obi-wan said cryptically, enjoying the brief look of bewilderment on his dear commander’s face. Sometimes, it was far too much fun to lean into the whole ‘mysterious jedi’ role. No matter how incorrect or stereotypical.

“I see sir, I hope it is easier to settle than some of the debts I’ve seen.” Cody said, smiling.

It took a whole three seconds of processing to realize that Cody had just made a joke. Not only that, he had made a joke about the debts his brothers were in, alluding to activities outside of what was permitted. And he had made it in front of Obi-wan. his general.

Delight sang through the force. He threw his head back and barked out a laugh, unable to restrain the sheer joy that was coursing through him. A wonderous feeling of pleased-shock-amazement radiated around Cody, mixing with the forces choir of ecstasy to make something truly beautiful. His commander was opening up.

“I can only imagine the ways in which your brothers sort out their debts. Anakin and Ahsoka are bad enough, two million brothers would certainly have a lot more – creativity in that area.” He said, shaking his head as he remembered Ahsoka demanding Anakin sing her favorite song at Karaoke to repay her for saving his life. The holovids he had taken that night were well worth the days of sulking.

Cody huffed, “They can be quite the handful, especially when Rex is involved.”

Obi-wan raised an eyebrow. Oh? He had always pegged Rex as an anchor for Anakin’s recklessness, curbing his padawans irrationality. There had certainly been a few times when the clone Captain had volunteered some… strange planes, but none of them had been entirely nonsensical!

Perhaps he had been wrong. Maybe Rex was simply able to hide his recklessness better than Obi-wans poor padawan. If that was the case, it was no wonder he had gotten on so well with Anakin and Ahsoka.

“Yes, I’d imagine so. Not to worry, the brothers we are going to see will hopefully be more open to resolving this debt in – nonlife-threatening ways.”

Hopefully. It was a word that had been appearing in his vocabulary more and more. Yes, Obi-wan certainly had a lot of things to hope for. Blind optimism had got him this far after all. he wasn't about to give it up now.


There were two strange men in the village. He had watched them come, treading the road that led to the nightsisters and greeting brother Viscus with a smile and a nod. One was calm, sturdy as a mountain weathering the years. He wore what looked like white armor and at first Feral had thought he might have been a droid. Then he had taken off his helmet to reveal a humanoid face with a scar on one side. The droid idea had quickly been scrapped.

The other one – well.

If the first man was the calm, he was the storm.

He felt wild, like rolling thunder hidden behind the mask of clouds. Or perhaps lightning that branched and burst in random fits of energy. He felt like movement, like the unknown, like change.

Feral was excited. Rarely were there strangers in his village, and now there were two. He wondered who they were, where they had come from, and why they were here. Of all the places to go in the universe, why would anyone want to come to Dathomir?

Savage didn’t seem quite so excited.

He had said that the men were sent by the nightsisters, and the nightsisters were never to be trusted. All they knew how to do was cause violence and pain, stealing brothers away from the tribe and making sure they never returned.  Feral had never met one before, so he couldn’t be sure. Savage wouldn’t lie to him though. Not about that.

If he was afraid of these strangers, then Feral should be too.

But he wasn’t. He couldn’t be. They just felt so new and interesting, a breath of air from far away, from somewhere better. Maybe they came from an ice world that was never hot or humid. Maybe they came from a place where they didn’t have to hunt for their food. Or maybe they lived on a world that only ate plants instead of meat.

Feral closed his eyes and tried to imagine eating only the Hwotha berries that they collected from the vines, or worse, the Mushlings that they used to make ink for tattoos. He wrinkled his nose.

Maybe they had nicer vegetation where they came from.

The point was, Feral was curious. Not only that, but he had a good feeling about this visit. Like something life changing was about to happen. That was unlikely though, if there were strangers here, it probably wasn’t for anything good. No matter how interesting they were. No matter how much he wanted to know about who they were and where they came from.

As the two men walked further into the village, brother Viscus leading them forward, he fought the urge to burst out with all of his questions. Savage had said not to draw attention to himself. If he did, then the strangers might decide to kill him. Or worse, take him back to the nightsisters. Feral didn’t know what the sisters would do to him, but he had asked Savage once, a long time ago. His face had gone all cold and closed off. He had never asked again.

Feral watched the odd procession come closer and closer, noticing - now that he could see them properly - that brother Viscus was almost deferential to the men. The leader of the tribe was being deferential to outsiders. They were taught from a young age that those outside of the clan were to be feared, defeated, and scorned. These men must be important, or incredibly strong, if they had earned brother Viscus’ respect. It was just another tally in the ‘don’t mess this up Feral or they might kill you’ box.

Savage tensed beside him as the strangers came closer and closer towards them. They had passed all of the other huts, all of the other nightbrothers who stared on in anticipation and fear. They too knew the implications of the leaders’ respect and the strangeness of this visit. Nightsisters came and went, he knew because Savage used to tell him stories about them, but off-worlders never made it past the witches.

Feral stopped breathing when they came to stand in front of him. By his side, Savage was a mix of tightly coiled fear and desperation. Whatever was about to happen, it wouldn’t be good.

“Savage,” brother Viscus said, “These two men are here to see you. I trust you will treat them with respect.”

Feral knew what that meant. Do everything they told you to. No matter how painful, no matter how humiliating or bizarre. Do not ask questions, put your head down and get on with it.

“Yes, brother Viscus.” Savage said through clenched teeth, probably trying to stop himself from shaking. No matter how hard he tried to hide it, Feral could always feel his fear. Always.

He gestured for the two men to follow, then walked back into their house. Feral trailed at his brothers’ heels, not wanting to be left outside. It was clear that Savage didn’t want him there, wanted him to stay safe outside, but Feral wasn’t about to leave him alone at the mercy of two strangers. Brothers didn’t do that to each other.

“Savage Opress?” The storm asked as he glanced around their hut. Feral was suddenly struck by how fine his robes looked compared to the packed dirt walls and the cloth that he and his brother wore. It was a random thought that he had never known before, feeling underdressed.

“Yes sir.” His Savage answered, head down, staring at the man’s feet.

He didn’t seem to mind though, running a hand through his ginger hair and sighing.

“My name is Obi-wan Kenobi. I’m here to talk to you about your brother.”

The change in Savage was immediate. His head snapped up, eyes locking onto those of the storm. All of the anxious energy in his body built to a climax, radiating off of him in waves of utter terror and desperation.

Feral was too shocked to feel anything. They were here to talk about him? But he hadn’t done anything! How did they even know who he was? Why, out of all of the nightbrother clans and all of the Zabraks in each one, were they here to talk about Feral?

“Whatever Feral has done, he didn’t mean to. Whatever it was, I’ll make up for it. Don’t take him, take me instead. I swear I’ll make it up to you. I’m stronger, faster, I can serve you better I swear – “

Savage’s desperate rumble was cut off when the man lifted a hand to silence him. For the first time in his life, Feral felt true anger. What right did they have to come in here and make Savage feel so desperate, so afraid? He knew his brother was trying to protect him, but he didn’t want Savage to be hurt either!

“Calm down Savage, it is not Feral I want to discuss. He has done no wrong. I promise you; no harm will come to either of you.” The storm – Obi-wan Kenobi, Feral recalled – said.

Savage calmed down a little at this, but still his energy was buzzing quietly with suspicion and anxiety.

The storm ran a hand through his hair again, seemingly at a loss for where to start. He looked over at his friend, the calm, who had been silent through everything. His face was impassive, as though he was till wearing the mask that was held under his arm. Now though, he smirked a little at the storm, eyebrows raising slightly.

The storm – Obi-wan Kenobi, Feral corrected himself – only shook his head fondly.

“Sit,” he ended up saying, “This conversation would be best had whilst sitting down.”


Suffice to say, Obi-wan had been incredibly confused when he had met the two Zabrak brothers. For one thing, Savage was a lot shorter than he remembered and he had a brief moment of amusement as he recalled Anakin claiming General Grievous was ‘smaller than he expected’. That phrase was certainly applicable in this case. Gone was the hulking monster, the muscled gladiator with a head of spikes. In its place, there was a young man who was desperate to protect his brother. Small and lean, likely from the rigors of the village, but strong both in form and in mind.

And then there was Feral.

The mystery brother, the one that Obi-wan hadn’t met. Honestly, he had been a little worried that the Zabrak would somehow be worse than both of his brothers combined. That maybe, in some way, he would be more terrifying and brutal than a deranged Maul and a viscous Savage put together.

He had, of course, been completely off the mark.

Obi-wan was humble enough to admit when he was wrong, and my, his predictions had been very, very wrong.

Feral was small, smaller than his brother at least with yellow skin that was intersected by the tell-tale Zabrak tattoos. His appearance was more or less what Obi-wan would have thought, though less terrifying and more adolescent. What was most disconcerting, was his force presence.

Savage was guarded, angry and scared and desperate to keep his brother safe. It was almost funny that his brother was nothing but curious. There were odd spikes of anxiety, and one dramatic leap to anger, but as far as he could tell Feral’s curiosity was the thing leading him.

He would make a good jedi, he realized suddenly. Both of them would. They were attached to each other, yes, but it was evident that they were both deeply compassionate and eager to protect and learn.

He wondered what had happened to cause such a drastic change in Savage. He tried not to think too hard about what became of Feral.

As they sat down in the small hut on Dathomir, it became harder and harder to ignore that question. Both of those questions. What had Sidious done that had broken these brothers so deeply and irrevocably? How many families had he torn apart and scattered across the galaxy?

It didn’t matter now, he told himself, he could change it. He had the chance to change all of it.

And Dathomir was where he would start.

“I am here,” He began once they were all sitting and not at risk of fainting from shock, “to discuss the life debt that your brother, Maul Opress, left me.”

Savage’s eyes shot up at the name, trying to process the information. The low thrum of anxiety and fear was back, Obi-wan would have to monitor it carefully. He didn’t want to traumatize the poor man.

He looked over to the younger of the brothers who was mouthing the name to himself as though testing the way it tasted. Now that he was thinking about it, Feral had probably never heard of Maul before. Why would he? If Savage knew, it would be a painful topic for him, one that he would likely not wish to share with his brother.

“And you want us to fulfil this life debt?” Savage asked, gathering strength around him as he pulled the force up like a blanket. It was instinctual, and a rather impressive display of control.

“In a way. It is not you who is indebted, but me.” He said with a wry grin.

At his side, Cody was buzzing with confusion. It mixed with the shock of the Zabraks, bringing the hut alive with energy that went straight through Obi-wan. Once again, he marveled the feeling of others near him, the comfort of their presence – so different from the empty sands of Tatooine.

“Years ago, on a planet called Naboo, I took the life of your brother to protect the queen whom he was trying to kill.” He explained. There was a brief feeling of understanding from Cody.

Ah.

He had likely seen the Holovids of that particular fight. Once the footage from the vaults had been – ehm – leaked by a certain Quinlan Vos, it had been impossible to remove from the Holonet. So, alas, he had been publicly congratulated as the Sith killer whilst trying to deal with the death of his master and raise a former slave.

It had certainly been an interesting few years.

“As payment for the life that I stole,” he continued, “Mother Talzin has asked me to provide both of you with a chance at something better.”

He paused for a moment, letting the information sink in. It was rather a lot to just suddenly be told and he sympathized with the brother’s shock and confusion that filled the room.

“If you would allow it,” He said, staring Savage in the eyes, speaking carefully and calmy so as not to frighten him, “I would like to take you and your brother off of Dathomir. Wherever you would like to go, I will bring you there. Whatever life you would like to have, I will ensure it finds you.”

Feral was practically bouncing with excitement at this point, eyes wide and thrilled at the prospect of a life off of Dathomir. Savage was still staring suspiciously, but there was another feeling growing around him. The zabrak tried to snuff it out, but still Obi-wan felt that dim light. It felt suspiciously like hope.

“I will return here in three days. You will have this time to think about what you would like to do, whether you would like to come with me or not. When I return, I will take whatever course of action you find most suitable, whether that be leaving you here or bringing you back to the Jedi temple.”

“You’re a Jedi?” Feral blurted out, eyes wide and shining with awe even as his force presence tinged with the heat of embarrassment. The tenseness returned to Savage at his brother’s outburst, and Obi-wan was quick to laugh light-heartedly, hopping to put them both at ease.

“Yes, I am a jedi. If you wish it, I am certain that a friend of mine would be willing to teach you some of our ways should you decide to accompany me.” He said, imagining the delight on Plo’s face when he learned that Obi-wan had gone against Yoda and brought him two more people to mother.

For a moment, Obi-wan was worried he had broken Feral. The Zabrak simply stared for an unnatural amount of time, jaw slightly ajar, and Obi-wan would have been worried if not for the way Savage rolled his eyes. It seemed even the crippling fear of a stranger in your hut couldn’t reign in the instinctual brotherly annoyance at younger siblings.

“We will think about it.” Savage said, then paused as he seemed to argue with himself over something. “My brother, Maul,” He began uncertainly, anxiousness creeping into every word, “He was lost, wasn’t he?”

Something twisted in Obi-wans chest. Savage, this man who he had seen cut down masters and padawans alike, was asking after a brother he had likely never met. He was asking the man who had killed him if it had been a mercy, if his brother was now at peace.

“Yes,” He said, trying to keep the sorrow from his voice, “he was lost in every way that mattered. But I know he cared deeply about his family. That much was never in question.”

Savage nodded, then did something Obi-wan had never expected. He stood and placed a hand on his chest, then bowed deeply. There was something oddly ceremonial about it, something that made it feel like more than just a bow of respect.

“Three days." He said, "You will have our answer in three days.”

Chapter Text

"All warfare is based on deception." - Season 4, Episode 15

 

As they walked back down the path to the nightsisters, Cody took the time to process the last few hours. Namely the two Zabraks who Obi-wan had just offered a ride to. Well, not exactly a ride, more like a free ticket to wherever the hell they wanted to go or whatever the hell they wanted to do. His General had been utterly serious about that, giving the two brothers anything they wanted.

It shouldn’t have been surprising, the man’s unfailing kindness, but for some reason it was. He kept waiting for Obi-wans façade to slip, for the Jedi to look at him in the way that the nat-borns did with that superior smirk and condescending gaze. It never did.

Cody looked to his left, surveying the man that walked beside him. He looked freer than he had been before, as though the resolution of that debt had lifted a weight from him. Not that Cody was surprised, it had been years since Naboo – he had checked the records. Of course Obi-wan would be happy to put that mess behind him. He was smiling gently now, almost unknowingly as his eyes wandered from the clear skies to the natural flora that grew around him. It was – nice, seeing him so calm.

“It almost makes you forget, doesn’t it?” He said, going for an absent tone as he tried to find an excuse to talk to his General. “That there’s a war going on.”

Obi-wan nodded, smile dimming a little and eyes clouding over. Cody cursed his terrible ability to immediately dampen a moment with his shit attempts at small talk.

“Almost. Though for many Jedi, this war will something unforgettable.” He said sadly, staring straight ahead, refusing to meet Cody’s gaze. Guilt flooded through his mind. He had only been trying to talk to his General and he had gone and reminded him that his people were out there, fighting and dying in a war.

“The jedi are strong warriors, they will survive this.” He tried to reassure, hoping he could back track out of whatever conversation he had unknowingly started.

It was a shock when Obi-wan began to laugh bitterly, hands clenching slightly at his sides. It was at this point that Cody truly began to panic. This was it; this was Obi-wan realizing Cody had pushed too far. This was the dropping of the other shoe.

“Warriors? You must have realized by now commander that unlike me, most Jedi are not suited to this war.” He said stiffly, eyes tight with stress. Even through his panic, even through that instinctual haze of fear, Cody realized the strangeness of that sentence. He replayed it in his head, trying to figure out what was off about the phrasing.

“What do you mean ‘unlike you’?” he asked, fully aware that he was pushing the limits of his General’s restraint, of the compassion that he seemed to exude. He should shut up; he should stop talking and hope that his General would forget about this interaction.

“What?” Obi-wan asked, confused and put off by this.

“You said ‘unlike me, most jedi are not suited to war’ what does ‘unlike me’ mean?” He insisted, words coming out faster than he was intending. If he slowed down, the reality of what he was doing, what he was asking would surely catch up with him.

“Well, my dear Cody, I have prior experience.”

Cody wasn’t sure what shook him more, Obi-wan’s casual use of ‘my dear’ with his name after it instead of simply ‘commander’ or the fact that his general had just admitted to being in a war before this one. Cody had read every file there was on his general, from the man defeating Darth Maul on Naboo to the year spent on Mandalore in his youth. Nowhere had there been a mention of Obi-wan fighting in a war.

“I thought the Jedi were peacekeepers,” he said as though remarking about the good weather they were having.

“We are – were. It’s complicated.” Obi-wan took a deep breath, collecting himself. “My years as a padawan were – unconventional. To say the least. My Master, Qui-Gon Jinn, was a good man, but not a very responsible one. This led to a number of situations where I was put in difficult positions.”

“And one of those ‘difficult positions’ was a war?” Cody inquired, holding back the bite in his voice. War was war, not some ‘difficult position’. He was pushing his luck. Obi-wan knew it too judging by the sharp look he sent Cody’s way.

“Yes.” He said curtly. They walked silently for a few moments before Obi-wan spoke again. “It was a civil war, on a planet called Melida/Daan. The two factions, Melida and Daan had been fighting for years, disagreeing on everything. Even the planets name.” Obi-wan chuckled again in that bitter way that sounded more like a harsh sob, moving to walk just ahead of Cody and positioning himself so that his face was shielded from view. “Me and my master had been sent to rescue another Jedi master who had been injured on her mission. Whilst carrying out this mission, we were a helped by a group of children calling themselves ‘the young’. They had grown tired of the fighting and ran away from their parents. Now they fought the adults, in the name of peace. They begged us to help them. I wanted to stay; my master had – other views.”

Other views? Other views on the children that were being massacred? Other views on whether or not to help the innocents of the planet as they were slaughtered?

“What happened?” Cody asked, though he was sure he didn’t really want to know. He had a feeling that things would get far worse.

“We fought about it. I drew my weapon on him, and he told me that if I made this choice, if I took the side of the young, then I would be turning my back on the Jedi order. So, I left the order, and he went back to coruscant with my lightsaber.”

Fuck.

“He left you in a war zone without a weapon? Kark. How old were you?”

“I was fourteen.”

Force, he would have been so young. The Vode age twice as fast as nat-borns, but Cody could easily imagine the seven-year-old cadets, so small and naïve. That was the age his General had been when he was left to fend for himself by that Demagolka.

It was a good thing that Jinn was already six feet under, Cody would have like to give him a good kick in the ass. He had left a child, he had left Obi-wan, in the middle of a warzone with no weapon, no way of defending himself. It made an unfortunate amount of sense. Obi-wan had always been competent, drawing up sound strategies, organizing the men, effortlessly handling all the aspects of command. Turns out his natural affinity for war was not so natural after all and instead stemmed from his traumatic past as a child soldier. Figures.

It seemed Cody had more in common with the man than he had originally realized.

And then he remembered something. That night, the night before when Obi-wan had slept next to him. When he had woken in the night to the man squirming and pleading and begging in a voice so desperate that Cody hadn’t been able to believe that it was the voice of his general.

They’re just kids, please’ he had begged, trying to prevent Cody from hurting the children he was trying to protect. The children who he had fought and died beside as their parents slaughtered them. It made sense, a horrible amount of sense.

“That was wrong of him.” Cody said, unsure of how to respond to the new insight. “Sir you were a child that was- “

“I know!” Obi-wans voice was oddly thick. “I know.”

The man was still turned away from him, walking just a few paces ahead, but Cody could still make out the slight tremor of his shoulders.

Kriff this, Cody thought. He quickened his pace, coming to walk side by side with him. For a few minutes he simply walked, his courage failing him before he steeled himself. He placed his hand on Obi-wans shoulder, not saying anything.

“You didn’t know him like I did, he was a good man. He just – just….”

“It’s ok sir. You don’t have to explain.”

They walked together for a moment, basking in the silence. It wasn’t awkward, just peaceful.  Cody figured his general needed some time to pull himself back together. He had never been so vulnerable in Cody’s presence before. Honestly, Cody doubted that the man had ever allowed himself to be vulnerable in front of anybody.

“You know, when I was a cadet, the Prime used to train me and my batch himself” It was painful to talk about, a bitter spot in Cody’s memories, but the General had been so open. Cody owed him that much.  “He was caring at first, though strict. He let us call him Buir. At least until Boba came along. Then he was just the prime, and we were just clones. I hated him for it, for what he did to us, to my brothers.”

It didn’t seem like it was enough, but Obi-wan had stopped trembling beneath him so he counted it as a win.

The air whooshed as Obi-wan turned to face him, stopping them both in the middle of that winding path. His eyes were grief stricken and creased with hurt, but his smile was soft. Suddenly Cody was aware of how close they were, close enough that he could feel the Generals breath on his cheek. Cody had never realized before how much shorter Obi-wan was than him. Had never truly seen the freckles that lined the Generals nose. Had never taken the time to really look at the various shades of blue that made up the color of Obi-wans eyes.

“You are a good man, Cody; did you know that?”

Cody stuttered, unable to think past the praise and the warmth of breath and the respect, the openness that Obi-wan was showing him. This was it, he realized. Not the moment that Obi-wan looked at him with contempt, but the moment when they looked at each other as people. Because for the first time, the man in front of him wasn’t his General or his superior, hell, he wasn’t even a jedi. He was Obi-wan. A man who was calm and wild by turns, kind and compassionate and fierce. The man who Cody had seen walk through the doors of Kamino and look at him as a person.

“Sometimes I think there are no more good people left in the world.” Obi-wan continued, wistfulness woven into every word “Do me a favor, Cody, never stop proving me wrong.” And now it was his hand on Cody’s shoulder, not the other way around. The heat was striking, like for the first time Cody was seeing the sun.

Well, who was he to refuse such an order?

“As you wish, Obi-wan.” He said, and then they continued on. They were no longer silent but chatting quietly about this and that, padawans and brothers and Zabraks who were a mix of both.


Dresdema smiled as the two men came wandering back to the nightsisters, bumping shoulders and laughing as they walked. They felt closer in the force, the jedi not so full of grief and the spaceman not so fearful. In fact, it was fondness radiating off of them, not anxiety or hurt. It was a sort of peacefulness that only adoration could bring; looking at another as one might look upon the moon.

She knew what needed to be done.

It was time to move on to stage two of ‘help the spacemen get his head out of his ass and fuck his jedi friend already’. It was a working title, but she thought it conveyed the essence of her plan. It was clear that the two were skirting around each other like a loth cat and a loth wolf, and really, they were hardly going to figure it out on their own. So, it was up to her to intervene. She had already recruited Merrin who was far too excited to be plotting and scheming. Dresdema was certain that her sister thought this was all very romantic. Hopefully she wouldn’t try playing matchmaker with anyone else. Though, Dres had to admit, it would be highly amusing.

“Hey spaceman!” She called to Cody, laughing when his expression immediately turned flat and deadpan. “How was the trip? Did you and the Jedi enjoy yourselves?” She asked, then wiggled her brows, just to mess with him.

She was rewarded with a rather rude gesture from Cody and a laugh from the jedi, though both were now turning red. Cody was flushing at the cheeks and his Jedi’s ears had turned the color of the nightsister robes. This was going to be far too fun, she realized. If both of them were head-over-heels for each other, and neither of them knew about the other feelings – oh. Oh, the power she had. Dres was going to enjoy winding both of them up but she really hoped they figured things out soon because the longing puppy-dog looks they were sending each other were going to drive her insane.

“It was perfectly satisfactory.” The jedi said in answer to her question, giving away no signs that he understood the double meaning of it. Oh? So that was how it was. Well, Mother Talzin had called him the negotiator, it shouldn’t surprise her that he was willing to trade barbs and jabs.

“Hmm, did you use that silver tongue of yours?” she asked. Cody choked. “You know, to get what you wanted?”

“The nightbrothers were perfectly willing to negotiate and agreed to my terms.” The jedi said, face completely impassive. The poor spaceman on the other hand was practically buzzing with embarrassment by his side. She figured she would give the poor man a break, giving a simple ‘good’ before she asked her next question.

“You wanna head to the shooting range and see how rusty you are?”

The change was immediate, embarrassment replaced by determination and uncertainty replaced with unshakeable surety. Cody grinned widely, and Dres returned the action.

“You’re on.”

As they said goodbye to the jedi and grabbed their weapons, Dres couldn’t help but think of how strange it was to have friends. Of course she had friends in the nightsisters, but they were her sisters, her family. Cody and the jedi were different. Talking to them was like learning how to walk, or shoot her bow, unfamiliar but exhilarating and wonderfully good fun.

She wasn’t usually one for sentimental ponderings and all of that nonsense. She would leave the emotional stuff to Merrin, her sister certainly seemed to enjoy the drama of such things. Just this once though, she allowed herself to be thankful to the fanged god for bringing the two men to her. Even if they were endlessly frustrating in their obliviousness to each other’s feelings. It was still nice to have someone she could think of as a friend.

“You’re ready?” Dres asked Cody as she picked up his blaster. After hours of practice, she had finally managed to consistently hit the target. Not the bullseye, but at least she was hitting the target. It was certainly a big change from a plasma bow. Not just the weight, but the speed and the movement, aiming and reloading. All of it was strange to her. But she was learning.

“When am I not?” He said, settling in beside her as she lined up her shot. He drew the string back, form almost right, though he was lacking the confidence brought on through years of training. She turned back to the target.

“Three,” she said, steadying her feet as Cody did the same.

“Two,” he continued as they waited in that moment of tightly sprung tension.

“One!”


Obi-wan was finishing up his daily meditation when Dresdema approached him, her presence was wound tight like a spring, ready to burst forward at a moment’s notice. It was not a feeling he had felt often on her.

It was strange that she had approached him at all. They weren’t that close, though he could tell she enjoyed their little verbal spar earlier, she got on far better with Cody. They had the same dry humor, the same sharp wit. And yet here she was, coming to him with something akin to fear circling around her.

He pushed to his feet but before he could open his mouth to greet her, she pushed ahead.

“Your clone has something dark in his head.” She said in one rushed breath. It took a minute for his brain to process.

Cody.

Cody had something dark in his head? Like what, a compulsion? No, it couldn’t be. Cody hadn’t come into contact with any Sith, not in this timeline anyways. Unless one of the nightsisters –

“I think you’d better explain,” he said seriously instead of voicing the swirling thoughts in his mind. He couldn’t afford to jump to conclusions not when it was his commander who was hanging in the balance. Not when it was Cody.

Dresdema took a breath.

“I didn’t know what it was at first, but I could feel it when he was close.” She admitted, anger tinging her voice that was directed towards herself, “I thought it was something to do with his helmet or – I don’t know. I didn’t think it would be in his head.”

She ran a hand through her hair, the side that wasn’t shaved of course. His brain was picking up on those unimportant details, he realized, because it was struggling to process the big ones.

“I don’t know what it is, but its dark. It feels like – like smoke. One minute it’s there and the next, there is nothing, like it slipped through your fingers. I know you think it was one of us that put whatever it is there – “

He opened his mouth to protest, he trusted the nightsisters, as strange and unthinkable as that was, but she bowled over him.

“No listen, I understand. But this is unlike anything I’ve ever felt before, see for yourself. Look for it on the right side of his head, just behind his ear. You will feel it.” She said.

He didn’t stick around to hear what else she had to say.

His feet carried him over the ground, faster than he thought he could move. There was something dark in Cody’s head. There was something dark in Cody’s head.

Whatever put it there was going to pay. Revenge wasn’t the jedi way, but justice certainly was. And if anyone hurt his commander, he was going to get justice. One way or another, even if he had to search the galaxy for whoever hurt him, he would get justice.

Cody looked panicked when his eyes locked onto Obi-wan’s.

Probably because Obi-wan had hurtled round the corner into him, knocking the poor man off of his feet. He couldn’t think about that though, not now. Without explaining anything, without answering Cody’s stuttering questions and concerns, he placed a hand on either side of the man’s head.

Behind the ear.

Dresdema had said that was where he could find it.

He opened his senses and let Cody’s presence fill him up.

Sturdy as a mountain, unmoving, unyielding. A stone in a river, worn away only by time. Deep calm, the buzzing sense of concern for his general, and then –

Darkness.

He drew back.

Dresdema had been right. She was right.

There was something in his commander’s head. But it didn’t feel like smoke, it felt like nothing. Like there was a part of Cody that simply wasn’t there.

“General? Are you alright? Obi-wan?” His commanders voice pulled him back to the world momentarily, and he patted the man absently on his shoulder.

“Just fine my dear, everything is fine.”

Except there was a part of Cody’s brain that was missing. It was impossible, and yet it was. There was no way it made sense, no matter how he looked at it –

But no.

It did make sense, if he thought about it, if he turned it around in his head long enough.

His knees gave out from under him, a panicked voice ringing in his ear, but that didn’t matter. They had found out at the end of the war that it was the Sith who had ordered the clones. It had been Dooku who had made the request. The question of course was why. Why would he invest in an army for the opposite side?

It all made sense now.

The army was never for the opposite side. It was for the Sith. It was always for the Sith. They had put something in the clones’ heads that had made them attack their Jedi. Something dark and empty and wrong.

And it hadn’t been their fault.

The clones hadn’t known, couldn’t have known.

Cody hadn’t shot him.

He laughed; head thrown back as it burst manically out of him. Cody was kneeling by his side now, shaking his shoulders desperately, but he couldn’t stop laughing.

His commander hadn’t meant to kill him. The clones hadn’t betrayed the jedi. He hadn’t driven them away.

Thank force, oh thank force.

His hand found Cody’ shoulder and he squeezed it gently. A smile found its way onto his lips, and Obi-wan let it grow wider and wider.

“I think I may need to speak to Master Shaak Ti.” He said.

If there was something dark in Cody, then it must be in all the clones. He had to be sure. There was no room for error. He couldn’t fail them.

Not again.

“Oh, and if you don’t mind my dear,” he said, “I think I may feint now.”

And then everything faded to inky black, as dark and as empty as the space in Cody’s head

Chapter Text

"The truth about yourself is always the hardest to accept." - Season 6, Episode 1

 

Cody fell to his knees beside the unconscious man, instinct taking over as he felt for a pulse, scrabbling at the man’s high collar and deflating in relief when he found one. What the hell had happened? One minute he had just been walking down the endless corridors, the next his general had come flying round the corner in a blind panic. He had ignored the fluttery feeling in his chest when Obi-wan had placed a hand on either side of his head, eyes closed, and mouth set in grim determination.

And then the man had fallen into what seemed like a full-scale breakdown.

Carefully, he maneuvered Obi-wan into the recovery position, running on the training that had been drilled into him over and over on Kamino. It would be a catastrophe if his General died choking on his own tongue of all things. It was such a ludicrous thought that his fear was momentarily forgotten. He could just imagine the news headlines; General Obi-wan Kenobi, Sith slayer and jedi master, choked to death on tongue. 

It was at that moment that Dresdema came hurtling around the very corner his general had come from. She stopped in front of them, eyes flickering from his own to the unconscious form of Obi-wan, lying motionless on the ground. The worry on her face flickered to annoyance, then to fondness, then back to worry.

“Stupid Jedi,” She muttered as she came towards Cody, kneeling down beside him. She leant over Obi-wan, feeling for his breath and taking his pulse. He was almost offended that she though he hadn’t already done that.

“Dresdema, do you know what just happened?” He asked carefully, still trying to wrap his head around the past few minutes. She didn’t seem to be listening. She laid her hand on Obi-wans forehead and Cody got the distinct impression that there was some force nonsense going on. It was in the way the air seemed to still, like it was waiting for the storm to arrive, charged with energy but utterly calm. Maybe she was trying to wake him up? He had heard that some force users could use it to heal people.

Dres muttered under her breath as she scrunched her face up in concentration. “Idiot couldn’t have waited, could he? Had to go and faint like some emotional lady.” Cody resisted the urge to point out that she herself was an emotional lady. For some reason, he didn’t think that observation would please her.

“Dres,” He tried again, putting a hand on her shoulder this time to try and gain her attention. He needed to know what happened, had to be able to help Obi-wan. His general was strong, he wouldn’t have had a breakdown for nothing. If Dresdema knew what had happened, Cody would have to make her tell him. His method of getting her to talk to him, however, didn’t seem to be working.

“DRES!” He shouted, leaning right over Obi-wan and into her eyeline.

Her eyes shot up to his at the same moment Obi-wan bolted upright, nocking heads with Cody as he did so. He let out an ‘oof’ of surprise, and through the obvious fear she was feeling, Dres gave an amused laugh at both of their idiocy.

Obi-wan reeled back again, clutching his head and looking around in vague befuddlement and confusion. After a few moments of this, his eyes seemed to adjust to the world around him, recognition sharpening them from the murky haze of bewilderment.

“Dresdema, Cody” he said shakily, steadying himself as he pushed into a sitting position, “I do apologize for my – untimely unconsciousness.”

Dres snorted at this, and Cody huffed a little at the man’s lack of self-preservation and fancy wording – an obvious attempt to downplay the situation. Not that it worked. It was certainly very Obi-wan though, you could set his General on fire and he would comment on what lovely weather they were having.

“You stupid man.” Dres said, still laughing. “You couldn’t have waited before you decided to pass out, hmm?”

Now it was Obi-wan who was laughing, crossing his legs beneath him so that he was sitting more comfortably. “And whyever would I do that? This way I had a lovely commander to catch me instead of a wicked witch.”

Heat poured into Cody’s face, and he fought to keep it from showing. He really, really, hoped the rumors about jedi being mind readers were false. He wasn’t sure he wanted anyone to know what he was thinking. He tried to stamp those thoughts out before opening his mouth again.

Cody cleared his throat. “Does anybody want to tell me what just happened?”

Obi-wan winced. Dresdema frowned in that not-quite-worry-not-quite-annoyance way. Neither of them spoke. Instead, they locked eyes, then glanced away. Then locked eyes, then glanced away again.

Well, that was worrying.

They were clearly trying to decide whether it was a good idea to tell him or not, which meant they either thought Cody couldn’t handle the information, it was a private matter, or it was about Cody himself. Or perhaps it was a mix. He couldn’t be sure.

Eventually, Dresdema filled the silence that hung between them. “well, the thing is…” She began, then seemed to change her mind, trailing off again. A few moments passed before she visibly steeled herself, straitening her posture. “There is something dark in your head.” She said, all in one breath as if she needed to get the action over and done with. It took a minute for him to process this sentence.

Something dark in his head? What did that even mean? He was certain it was some kind of force thing; it always was. Dark was a bad thing though in the force, wasn’t it?

“What.” He said, trying to understand.

Obi-wan sighed, sending Dresdema an annoyed look. It was obvious that he hadn’t wanted her to tell him this.

“Cody, I need you to understand that none of what I’m about to say is your fault. I am not going to punish you, or send you back to kamino, or anything of that sort. Do you understand me?”

Cody blinked. In truth, he didn’t understand. He didn’t understand at all. He wasn’t sure why his general was telling him this, or what it meant to have something dark in your head. Was he defective maybe? That had to be it. It would explain why Obi-wan was mentioning Kamino.

Cody nodded and tried not to feel guilty about the lie. He really, really, didn’t understand.

“Not so long ago, the jedi discovered that the clones had been ordered by the Sith, not by the order. We didn’t understand why. But now we do. Dresdema found something dark in your head. I believe that it may be some sort of compulsion left by the Sith, something that could force you to betray the republic.”

Cody swallowed.

That couldn’t be true. Could it? He would never betray the republic, even after everything they had done to his brothers. He was loyal, all of the clones were. It was how they were raised; hell, it was how they were bred. From Mandalorian blood, honourable and loyal to the clan. Obi-wan didn’t think he would betray him, did he? But he had said it was a compulsion. That meant he could be forced to do it against his will.

And then Cody did understand, he understood it all.

He had been wrong in thinking he was more than a clone, in thinking he was alive. Cody wasn’t a person after all, wasn’t an individual. He was a weapon, made to kill the jedi and the republic. He had been made to stab the only person who had ever cared about him in the back, manufactured to murder and betray. Was he even capable of feeling things or was it all just a plot by the Sith to trick the jedi into trusting him?

He didn’t know how, he didn’t know why, but he knew that what Obi-wan was saying was true. He was no better than a droid, mindless metal made to be cannon fodder.

“Kill me.” He blurted out, and Obi-wan flinched.

“I’m not going to do that Cody.”

That made no sense. He was a threat, a liability, an unknown variable that could turn on his general at any time. Keeping him around wasn’t logical, not when the thing in his head could be triggered at any moment. He gritted his teeth.

“You have to. Obi-wan I don’t want to hurt you. What if something happens to make me? I’m a threat. Don’t you understand that?”

Images were flashing through his head unbidden. Going back to the hut with one bed and being forced to strangle Obi-wan in his sleep. Something evil guiding his hands as he lifted a blaster to his General’s head. Panic in blue eyes that mixed with betrayal as Cody choked the life out of them. He wanted to throw up.

“Cody, I know you would never intentionally hurt me. I promise, I know that now. We’ll find a way to help you, to help all of the clones. It won’t come to your death, I swear it.”

Frustration built, like water in a dam that was about to burst its banks. Obi-wan wasn’t listening, he was hearing, but he wasn’t listening. Didn’t he understand that Cody would rather die than hurt him? Didn’t he see that he was the priority? Not the republic or the war, but him?

“General, this is my choice. I’ve not had many of those, this one is mine. I would rather die than hurt you.”

Obi-wan looked to be on the verge of tears, a fact that would have been concerning if Cody wasn’t at that point himself. Dresdema was looking on with pity and anxiety, like she was holding herself back from jumping into the conversation.

“That’s not fair Cody. You think I don’t feel the same? You think I wouldn’t rather die than hurt you either?”

And of course that was the crux of the issue. His General’s kindness. His ability to see the best in people, even in enemies. He would have laughed if he hadn’t been so completely devastated.

“I know you don’t want to Obi-wan. I know that. But you need to. You can’t put yourself at risk, you can’t – “

“I can’t lose you again!” Obi-wan shouted, and then the tears that had been collecting in his eyes were falling with angry splashes.

Silence reigned.

Obi-wan was breathing heavily, on the verge of fainting again or perhaps having another panic attack. The wrinkles around his eyes made him look far older, far more tired than Cody had thought possible, and he was clutching Dresdema’s shoulders far too tightly for it to be comfortable.

It was then that Cody knew he had lost this battle. He knew that he could not ask such a thing of his general, even if it was for the best. Even though he wanted to keep Obi-wan safe, it was comforting to know that he cared about Cody as much as Cody cared about him. It was almost a relief to know that he wasn’t about to die.

“Okay.” He said. “Okay Obi-wan.”

He leaned forward and pulled the man into a hug, exhausted emotionally and doing the only thing his brain could focus on. Arms fastened around him, and he knew he had chosen correctly. It was like being back on Kamino, the contact of his brothers as they tried to forget the horror of their training. But now it was Obi-wans breath in his ear, Obi-wans body that was pressed against his, Obi-wans arms around his neck. Cody had never felt anything like it before.

“If you two are quite finished your lovers spat,” Dresdema said in an uncharacteristically shaky voice, shocking both of them from that moment, “I think I might have a solution to your problem.”

Cody pulled back from Obi-wan to look at her.

“I was able to feel the darkness because I recognized it, such things are familiar to the nightsisters.” She explained, her voice losing its shakiness and gaining confidence as she spoke. “Lucky for us, we happen to be in a settlement with one of the oldest and most powerful nightsisters there is.” She finished, smirking a little at Obi-wan as if she was mocking him for not coming to the same conclusion as her sooner.

“Talzin.” He said, tone a mixture of realisation and wonder. “Of course. However did I manage to overlook that? She may be able to mitigate the effects of the compulsion, or at least find out what it actually is.”

Dresdema nodded. Cody was still utterly lost. All this goddam force osik was lost on him. He did gather that the tall scary lady might have to poke around in his brain. It would be worth it though if she could get rid of whatever the hell was in his head.

“Dres, will you take Cody to Talzin for me? I have to contact master Shaak Ti and warn her of this development.” Obi-wan said, and Cody felt as though he should be more afraid than he was at the prospect of talking to the scary witch lady by himself. Well, not entirely by himself, he had Dresdema.

“Come on then spaceman,” Dres said, standing up and offering Cody a hand. He grasped it and hauled himself to his feet, careful not to accidently pull her down on top of him. “Let’s go see my mother.”


“Master Kenobi, to what do I owe the pleasure?” Shaak asked, her voice a calming lull, almost like the relaxed purring of a loth cat as it lazed in the sun. Obi-wan wished for a brief moment that she was actually here instead of just a hologram contacting him from millions of miles away. Perhaps then he would be able to draw strength from her force presence, deep and lush as a tree that delved branches into the soil. But alas, it was not so.

“Master Ti, I apologize for this interruption but I’m afraid this matter is of the utmost importance, as I’m sure you have gathered.”

Shaak nodded. The com code he was using for this call was heavily encrypted after all – one of the most secure lines that the jedi temple owned, and one of the oldest. There was no conceivable way that Sidious could track it, and Sidious could not know of this conversation. Not if Obi-wan wanted to keep those around him alive. Shaak Ti was more than smart enough to realise the purpose of this call was far from a friendly get-together, and utterly confidential.

At her nod of understanding, he continued. “I have recently stumbled across a piece of information that may be the key to understanding this war, and the Sith themselves. I have not yet spoken to the council about this for I fear those close to the order may unwittingly betray us. I have come to you directly because this information pertains to the production of clone troopers, an area in which you are the expert. If anyone can act on this information, it is you.”

As he spoke, the look on master Ti’s face became increasingly alarmed. Not that he blamed her, it was rather a lot to take in. He waited for a few moments to allow her to process this, watching for the small nod of her head that signaled he should continue.

“And what is it you have found master Kenobi? What could be so potentially damning that even the council cannot know of it?” she asked, doing a wonderful job of keeping the panic he knew she was feeling from showing. Even when they were young, she had been excellent at controlling her emotions.

He sighed and ran a hand through his hair, trying to think of the best way to put the machinations of the Sith and the destruction of the entire jedi order.

“There is some sort of compulsion in the clone’s head. I am unsure as to what it is, but I believe it may be placed there during their production. You may recall that we are as of yet unsure why the clones were ordered,” Shaak nodded, hints of worry seeping out from behind the stony mask she had secured, “I have reason to believe that it was the Sith who ordered them, not the Jedi. This compulsion would force them to betray the republic, to betray everything they have been fighting for.”

Master Ti stared at him blankly and he could practically see the cogs turning in her head. “That is quite the assertion master Kenobi.” She said, voice carefully neutral, “I have spent many weeks here on kamino, I know the clones. They would not betray us.”

He swallowed the desperate and disbelieving laugh that crawled up his throat.

Did she think he wasn’t aware of that? Did she truly believe he didn’t know how crazy this sounded? He couldn’t exactly tell her he was a time traveler from the future and had seen it all play out before though, not if he didn’t want to be thrown into a psych ward.

“I am aware of that Master Ti, the clones are unknowing pawns in this game, I do not blame them. I want to help them, as a matter of fact.” He said, annoyance seeping into his tone. She seemed to accept this veiled admonishment, face losing some of its suspicion in a silent apology. “I am not asking you to act on this information, only to investigate it. If I am wrong, then we have nothing to fear. But if I am right….”

The consequences were unspeakable. How could he put into words what he had seen, what he had felt as the force pulled itself apart in agony, thousands of voices screaming out in pain and betrayal and fear. Over 10,000 jedi had been slaughtered, murdered by their comrades, their friends, and in Aayla Secura’s case, their lovers.

It seemed he didn’t need to explain it though, Shaak was already nodding, wearing her ‘its-time-to-make-a-plan-for-every-possible-situation’ face. “I see.” She said, fingers rising to support her chin, “I thank you for trusting me with this information, master Kenobi. I will do what I can to confirm it. Rest assured, I will not allow this to go unchecked.”

He sagged, a bone deep relief filling him accompanied by a deep sense of pure exhaustion. It was done. He was going to find out for certain what had hurt his men, what had caused the destruction of the order. If he was lucky, it would lead the order right to Palpatine. At least then he wouldn’t have to try and explain how exactly he knew the chancellor was a Sith lord. Obi-wan wasn’t sure ‘I just do’ was going to be good enough.

“Thank you Shaak, I appreciate your help.”

“And I am glad to give it. May the force be with you master Kenobi, and some well earned rest.” She added, smirking slightly to cover the faint hint of concern in her eyes. The mother hen in her seemed to have won out in the end.

“And with you master Ti.”

The holocall cut off and he was once again left alone in a hut in the middle of nowhere with nothing but questions plaguing his mind.


Talzin had lived for many years, perhaps not as long as some nightsisters in her coven, but long enough to know that the pure hatred that flowed through her veins – bubbling like magma beneath pale skin – was not helping her current situation. Anger was a powerful tool, but only when controlled and finely tuned to ones motives. This shrieking chaos would bring nothing but pain.

The nerve of the Sith. Not only stealing away her sons and causing them agonizing deaths but disrupting the natural order of the fanged god himself! It was an insult to her people, to her culture. To create a being and implant them with darkness, bastardizing the magicks of the nightsisters and warping the power that the fanged god provided. Such a thing was forbidden even amongst the most experimental covens.

She had turned a blind eye to Sidious for far too long, allowed his destructive nature to exist in spite of its danger to her people. His lack of understanding of the magicks that he was attempting to replicate would destroy them all. The nightsisters grew up steeped in the dark side, understanding it as the tool it was. The fanged god and the winged goddess provided them with such a tool to maintain the security of the clan, and so the nightsisters were able to stay sane whilst using its power. They were not drawn in by passion or madness. But the Sith had seen this power and taken it for themselves, refusing to learn the ways of such a thing before turning it on their enemies. Thus, their madness festered and burned, tearing away all which desired.

Talzin had never seen this as a problem. The Sith would destroy themselves inevitably and then their thievery and disrespect would be repaid in blood. Not from their enemies as they had likely imagined, but from those they had once held dear to them, and from the veins that were once their own. Now though, it was impossible to ignore the threats they provided to her people. Now, she had seen it all play out in the head of a man who had only ever tried so very hard to save people. She had seen him reach for the force as though it was a friend, watched him struggle as the fanged god beckoned him to the dark. In the end, she had seen a waste of life.

Mother Talzin wasn’t kind. She wasn’t compassionate, nor particularly gentle, even with her kin. But she was not wasteful with the gift of life that the gods provided, and she certainly wasn’t stupid. The only way to protect her clan was to destroy the sith, and the best way to destroy the Sith was to help the Jedi.

“I cannot remove it.” She said to the echo, though the Jedi order seemed to prefer the term ‘clone’. There was a brief moment where she watched him deflate, hanging his head as the hope in his eyes crumbled away to nothing. Now there was only despair and resignation. Talzin almost pitied him, but her amusement outweighed this. Honestly, did all humans give up on things so easily?

“I can, however, create a kind of block. It will not erase the compulsion, but it should make it harder to activate and therefore allow you more control over yourself should this occur.”

The clone looked up in shock, a serious of emotions flashing through the force. Gratitude, joy, and a again, that near blinding hope.

“I don’t understand,” Dresdema said from where she was leaning against the wall, “If it is a compulsion how come you can’t just remove it?”

Though Dresdema was skilled, it was moments like these that Talzin was reminded of her inexperience. She had picked up on the darkness but had not been able to figure out why it was so strange, why it felt so empty and why it was such a great insult to Dathomirs magick.

“Because it is not just a compulsion, it is not pure magick. It seems as though the Sith have tainted it with organic material, contaminating the purity of its power.”

Dresdema drew back, knowing as well as Talzin that such a thing was forbidden, and for good reason.

“But that – “

“Yes. It is against the very teachings that our magicks are founded on.”

“Is it dangerous?” The clone asked, looking wildly between the two of them. Though there was fear and worry in him, there was a streak of determination that he seemed to be gripping to. Hmm, perhaps he doesn’t give up so easily after all.

“Not to you, and not to your Jedi friend. It is only a danger to the one who creates it, and in this case that benefits us.”  

The clone nodded, seemingly satisfied with this answer. Talzin was rather satisfied with it as well, a threat to the Sith indeed. They had just proved themselves to be an enemy of the nightsisters, and it was as they always say, the enemy of my enemy is my grudging ally from the future who I only trust because I’ve seen into his mind.

“Tell the Jedi that I have a proposition for him. The Sith have gone unchecked for to long. Should the Jedi move against them, the nightsisters will want their pound of flesh.”

The clone nodded before standing up and rushing off back to his beloved, issuing her a grateful ‘thank you’ and a Mandalorian bow as he did so. A strange one to be sure, but Talzin found herself liking the boy anyhow.

Dresdema was still standing by the wall, assessing her with those keen eyes.

“Are you sure this is wise mother? The jedi and the clone are good people, trustworthy, but this is war that you are proposing.” She said, further proving to Talzin that this course of action was the correct one. If things were left as they to play out, it would not only be the clone and the jedi who suffered. She would not - could not, lose her daughters again. The clan would survive, the nightsisters would persevere.

“I am certain.”

Chapter Text

"In war, truth is the first casualty." - Season 2, Episode 14

 

There was something strange happening on Kamino. It was in the air itself, saltiness now tinged with something sharper, something dangerous. CT-5385 should now, it was all he had ever known. The rushing seas, the raging storms that sometimes shook the very foundations of the building, and of course his brothers making trouble for themselves whenever possible.

(The kaminoans too had always been a staple in his life. Their unfeeling eyes and bony hands, the supercilious smirk as they grasped the scalpel and – )

The point being, CT-5385 – or Tup as his brothers had taken to calling him – knew kamino like the back of his hand. Or rather, the back of Jango Fett’s hand, his hand had never really belonged to him after all. He knew the schedules of every longneck, the training rota for every batch, and he knew what parts of the production the Jedi oversaw.

 Never before had the Jedi master been so involved in younger cadets, those still in their tubes as well. The woman had spent the better part of two days carefully watching them, eyes cold and calculating. What she was looking for with that assessing gaze, he didn’t know. It was disconcerting though, such a sudden change.

Tup liked predictability; it was what kept him safe. He knew what the Kaminoans did to clones who talked back, so he made a point of being quiet. He knew that Dogma would likely sock him in the jaw for breaching standard procedures, so he kept his head down. He knew that the Jedi would smile at him if he looked at her, so he tried to run into General Ti as often as possible.

See? Survival. It had kept him alive so far anyways, but it only worked until that predictability was broken.

He was not expecting Jedi master Shaak Ti to go sneaking around Kamino. He was most certainly not expecting her to break into one of the Kaminoans laboratories. But more than anything, he wasn’t expecting to walk into the very room that she happened to break into and come face to face with her hacking into one of the holo files.

Predictability kept him alive, but how on earth was he supposed to have predicted this predicament?

“Uh, Hi. General.” He said as her eyes locked onto his, the tension in her body reminding him far too much of a predator. Togruta were carnivores, his mind supplied helpfully, so it wasn’t any wonder that she looked as if she wanted to eat him alive.

“Um, I’ll uh, I’ll just be going now.” He said, trying to carefully back out of the door. He could find another room to hide in, away from the prying eyes of Kaminoans and strange jedi alike.

“Wait.” General Ti said, freezing him in his tracks. It was instinct to obey orders from superiors, Tup couldn’t help the way his body stilled at the sharpness of her words. “CT-5385 is it? You have rather unfortunate timing.” She said, somehow managing to identify him by appearance alone as if he wasn’t an exact replica of his brothers. She was a Jedi though, so he really shouldn’t be surprised. They always seemed to just know things that others didn’t.  

Tup had to think quickly if he wanted to survive this encounter. Master Ti clearly didn’t want anyone to see what it was she was doing and was likely trying to avoid the Kaminoans. Tup was a threat to this as he was an unknown, someone who may be more loyal to the longnecks than to her. If she left him alive, he may be convinced to tell them. So, he had to reassure her that he distrusted those Demagolka as much as she clearly did.

“I didn’t mean to interrupt General. I can see this is important. Far above my level of clearance, probably above the Kaminoans level of clearance too.” He said, trying to ensure it sounded like a proposition instead of a threat. If she thought he was threatening to give her up to them, he was done for.

She only laughed though, sharp teeth poking out from behind her lips. “Is that so? In that case, perhaps you may be able to – assist me with this.”

Nope. Okay yeah, no. He didn’t like the sound of that. He didn’t like the sound of that at all. It wasn’t like Tup could just refuse a direct order from a jedi though. It looked as though he had gone and gotten himself trapped in an impossible situation. He did the only thing he could think of doing. “Of course, General, what do you need me to do?”

She seemed to assess him for a while, eyes boring into his own. Though he wasn’t certain, he could almost swear he heard something like her voice in his head, just for a brief second. It was a bizarre feeling, but the Jedi were bizarre so really it wasn’t so much of a shock. Even though he was certain he could hear her saying something in his head, he wasn’t able to catch what. All he could hear were vague whispers and mutterings.

After what felt like an eternity, General Ti spoke again. “The files.” She said, “I cannot access them. I believe the Kaminoans have something in them that they do not want me to see.” She said slowly, gaging how Tup reacted. He tried not to, attempting to control both the confusion and fear bubbling inside him. Why would the Jedi be restricted from the files? They were the clients, surely they would have access to all the information on the clones they themselves had ordered.

“I unfortunately have never been an expert at slicing, it was never one of my best skills.” She continued, stalking towards him in a manner that was reminiscent of one of those big cat things that Tup had seen once in a picture one of the older clones brought in. “You on the other hand, graduated top of your class for such a thing.” She pondered this for a moment, then grinned slightly “Perhaps it was the will of the force that brought you here to me. I would ask that you help me slice into these records and uncover what exactly the Kaminoans are holding so close to their scaly chests.”

Tup thought for a minute. It all came down to the same thing it always did – predictability. He didn’t trust the kaminoans as far as he could throw them, which he estimated to be around a few centimetres. They were dishonest, slimy creatures who wormed their way out of trouble whenever possible. Them hiding something from the jedi was predictable, and therefore believable. However, a jedi master slicing into a clone record that they should already have access to in order to complete some nefarious purpose was unlikely, and so probably false.

That lead him to one choice.

“Of course, General.”

She smiled at him, a genuine one instead of the little warm things she had sent him in passing.

He sat down across from the computer, rolling up the sleeves of his blacks and gathering his thoughts. If he slipped up, the Kaminoans would suspect something. Even the slightest bug in their system could alert them, so he had to be careful. He could leave no trace.

Master Ti moved to the door.

“I will keep watch,” She said, “the force will warn me of unexpected visitors.”

She gave Tup a pointed look and he briefly wondered why it hadn’t warned her of his unexpected visit, but quickly realised there was no point in dwelling on that. It was time to get to work.

He began slowly, testing the limits of the Kaminoans security. They were good, but they weren’t that good. Tup had been taught by a Mandalorian for forces sake, he knew his way around technology. Trainer Skirata had ensured it, hell he’d insisted on it. No matter how good the kaminoans thought they were, Tup had every advantage over them.

“What is it you are looking for General? What do you need me to find?” He asked. Tup needed a place to start, somewhere to begin looking. He was running blind here and he needed to know how much Master Ti trusted him before making any snap decisions. He also had to figure out how much he trusted her.

“Clone production,” She said immediately, “And if you can find it, the original order for the clones. I want to know exactly who placed it and when.”

Tup nodded. Okay, he could work with that.  

The sound of the storm outside filled the air as he worked, searching through files to find the right ones. Each boom of thunder felt a little like the chimes of a clock, as though the planet itself was warning them that they had to be fast about this. So, he picked up his pace, still being careful to leave nothing out of order in case of alerting the longnecks.

There –

His eyes caught the information he needed, the key words of ‘order’ and ‘production’ making clear what information the folder held. Now for the hard part, breaking through the layers of encryption. “Okay General, we’re almost there.”

-

-

Oh god. Oh force. Damn it all, what the hell was he looking at?

He had cracked it, gotten the files open. He had gone to call over Master Ti, but the words on the page had caught his eye before he had the chance. He had expected something bad. Why else would the jedi be looking into it? Again, he was back to predictability, it had been obvious that the longnecks were likely up to something. But this? This was – this was far bigger than him.

Execution orders? Control chips? ‘Fail safes’ that would make Tup turn his blaster to his own head?

What the hell was all this?

There was a name as well, signed on the bottom of one of the scanned documents. Tyranus. He didn’t know who the hell that was, only that they had signed off on all of this. Whoever they were, he was fairly certain they weren’t a jedi.

“Master Ti? I uh, I think you should come take a look at this.” He said, eyes still glued to the screen in front of him, trying to process what exactly it was they were seeing.

She leant over the table beside him, eyes skimming over the screen. The closer to the bottom they got, the tighter her face became. Fear, he realized, she was afraid. Not that Tup blamed her, he was terrified. If this was enough to scare the Jedi, then he had every right to be.

“Force,” she said, mostly to herself, “He was right. All of it, he was right.”

Tup didn’t bother to ask who was right, couldn’t with the way his brain was screaming with this information. If the Kaminoans chose to go over the loudspeakers, if they said those – those orders, would Tup obey them? Would he have a choice? Or would his hands find a blaster on their own, would his mind scream as his body betrayed him, cutting down the General he was supposed to be helping.

“Get it out of me.” He found himself saying. “Please, get it out. It can’t – I can’t.”

And he couldn’t. His breath was coming out in sharp gasps and his vision was turning to colored spots. It was all for nothing, his brothers fighting and dying out there, sacrificing themselves for the republic, it was all for nothing. They would never know the peace they were fighting for, not when the kaminoans were going to turn them into mindless droids that would be forced to destroy the democracy they had been fighting to save.

The voice was back in his mind again, but he could hear it clearly this time. It was saying his name, just his name, not his number. Over and over again, the sound came. Tup, Tup, Tup. It was calming, allowing him to focus his breath back into a steady rhythm.

“Easy soldier,” The General was saying, “We’ll get it out of you, don’t worry. We’ll figure it out. I will not abandon you or your brothers.”

He nodded, coming back to himself slightly.

“Brain scanners. The Kaminoans, they have brain scanners. It should be able to locate that – that thing.” He said, spitting the last word out with all of the anger he had stored away, all of the spite he had carefully cultivated towards those damn creatures. “Once you know where it is, a surgeon droid can cut it out.”

General Ti nodded, montrals bobbing slightly as her face sharpened into something quiet and angry. He had a feeling that anger wasn’t directed at him though, she had been oblivious to the chips as much as he was. “Then that is where we shall start.”


The force felt different, lighter, happier, not so dark and clouded as it had been. Where it was once stifled and suffocated in oily darkness, it was now easy to reach, rising to the surface with only a careful question. Sidious frowned, that was not good at all. He had spent far to long cultivating the glorious desperation that had flowed so freely. The delicious agony as one by one, the jedi fell in various battles around the galaxy.

Sidious was certain he knew what was causing this change though. The anomaly that rocked the force so greatly was surely to blame.

He had felt it close to the beginning, only a few months into the war, the game of chess that Sidious was watching play out. At the time, he had thought nothing of the curious disturbance. It was only natural that the force should fluctuate with the changing nature of the jedi, the slow corruption of their pathetic order as they were drawn further into the darkness of war and death. Greif was oh so terrible, a difficult thing to live with and unfamiliar to most of the Jedi. The perfect tool for dragging them out of the light.

Now, he realized it was far more than it seemed. Something, or someone, was trying to destroy his carefully laid plans, the grand scheme that his life had been entirely devoted to. Fury filled him, and he allowed it to swell, fueling the darkness that bubbled and churned beneath the surface. He could not let them succeed. They were standing in the way of his power, his ultimate victory over those weaker than him. Sidious would not let them get away with it. They had already signed their death warrant, a slow, painful one at that.

No matter, he was close now, oh so close to the completion of this little charade. Soon the republic would bend willingly before him, and he would take his place at the top. Those righteous and peace-loving fools, thinking themselves saints whilst hoarding their own power.

Really, they weren’t so different to the Sith they claimed to hate. Only, Sidious had the power of the force at his beck and call, he was strong enough to seize what was rightfully his, bold enough to take risks in order to achieve this. That was what set him apart, his hatred for one thing, but his ambition more than anything else.

It was what Plagueis had lacked. The vision needed to bring the Sith back into living memory, to wipe the jedi out with one fell swoop and seize the power left in the vacuum this created it. The best part was those light lovers’ compliance. They were working towards their own destruction, and they hadn’t even realized it. Oh, the irony, the beauty in watching them crumble. Sidious could hardly wait to hear them cry out in the force, betrayal mixed with agony and grief.

What a lovely thought.

In order for it to come to pass though, he would have to deal with the unexpected anomaly. He could not go after it himself though, and Darth Tyranus was in the midst of the fighting with that idiotic little assassin of his. He would have to find someone else to deal with the problem.

Perhaps – yes. The boy, Anakin Skywalker. That would do nicely. If Sidious was lucky, the anomaly would be difficult to obtain, and then the boy would be forced to fall back on the dark side, bringing him closer to the grasp of the Sith. Yes, it was perfect.

He would send his future apprentice to deal with this. When he inevitably came back hurt, scared of the power he had used and the way he had lost himself to it, Sidious would console him. He would become the kindly old man that the world believed him to be, convince the boy that if his Master knew about it, he would be cast from the order. Sidious reveled in the chance to pain Kenobi further. The man had been a thorn in his side for far to long, throwing various plans off balance on more than one occasion. The horror that would ring in the force at his padawans actions almost made this calculated risk worth it in itself.

It was decided then. Anakin would eliminate the threat, Kenobi would be pained over the distance created between them, and Sidious would be free to enact his grand plan in peace.

Now, time to see the boy. The so called chosen one. He slid the mask of the kindly senator on with ease, it was perfectly suited to him, worn in by years of use. It was time to talk to Skywalker.  


The walk to the chancellor’s office was calming, easy, and familiar. Light filtered in through the windows in the corridor, golden in the early morning hush of the city below. Coruscant was never truly asleep, but Anakin preferred the quiet rumbling of mornings anyways. Silence wasn’t really his thing, but the slow rhythm of people going about their lives, heading off to work or going to buy a morning caff was oddly grounding. It reminded him that the world was still moving, still going along around him even in the midst of the war.

He knocked on the intricately carved door and waited for chancellor Palpatine’s soft and wispy voice.

“Ah! Anakin, come in my dear boy.” The man said as the door slid open, smiling warmly and beckoning him in.

Most of the light was blocked out of the room by thick curtains that hung over the large windows, making the air feel thick and stuffy. The carpets were a deep red, the same as the stiff couches and the table in the center of the room that Anakin was fairly sure had never seen any use.

“Come, sit down my boy. Tell me, how have you been?”

 Anakin was – well. He was having a good day. He was currently stationed on coruscant close to Padme, they had lost minimal casualties in the last few battles, Ahsoka had spent the flight back chattering his ears off and he was talking to Chancellor Palpatine who had been in his corner since the beginning. So really, he couldn’t complain. It was perfect. Except –

It was missing Obi-wan.

Anakin wasn’t stupid, despite what most people thought when he did something crazy and reckless. He knew that his master was on some sort of stealth mission, why else would the council be so hush-hush about it? It must have been important for them to have sent Obi-wan. They wouldn’t have spared the negotiator for anything less than an emergency. Still, he missed the man. Ahsoka did too, though she was loathe to show it. Things just weren’t the same without his gentle guidance or ‘told-you-so’ face when someone did something incredibly stupid – usually Anakin but whatever. It wasn’t like he was going to tell the Chancellor that anyways.

It was fine though, he still had friends around him to keep him company. Like Palpatine, the man had been something of a grandfather to Anakin for as long as he could remember. He had always listened to his troubles and been sympathetic to his attachments.

“Just fine,” He ended up saying, “What about you?”

“Oh, perfectly all right my boy, though I suppose you are more interested in why I’ve called you here.”

Anakin nodded. It was true, Chancellor Palpatine rarely called Anakin directly to his office. Most of the time they just seemed to run into each other and stop for a chat, sometimes Anakin would visit him on his own accord, and sure, there were a few times were Palpatine had invited him into his office, but he was never called there so officially unless the man had a mission for him.

“Before I tell you, I wonder if I may inquire into where your master is?”

Anakin frowned; he was asking about Obi-wan? Surely the Chancellor would have needed to approve whatever mission he had gone on? Maybe it was an order from the council though, the Jedi still operated individually from the senate on some matters that were regarded as being within their jurisdiction. That must be it.

“Off on an important mission for the jedi, don’t ask me where, I don’t even know where he is!” He tried to joke, smiling at Palpatine but quickly toning the brightness down as the man frowned.

“He didn’t trust you enough to tell you where he was going?”

Anakin shook his head. What did trust have to do with this? It was a mission from the jedi council, Obi-wan would have been ordered not to speak of it. He had promised to be back within a few weeks, so it wasn’t like he had rushed into certain danger without backup. Plus, Commander Cody had gone with him. Anakin was sure the clone commander would keep an eye on his master, maybe two with the way the clone had been staring dreamily at him. And although he worried as he always did, he knew that his master was coming back. So really, he supposed it was a matter of trust, a matter of how much Anakin trusted Obi-wan.

After the marriage reveal and everything that had happened since then, Anakin had realized that he could trust Obi-wan with far more than he had previously thought. They were brothers. If Obi-wan couldn’t tell him about the mission, then Anakin would just have to have faith in him.

“It wasn’t about trust. It was an order from the jedi council, I know Obi-wan wouldn’t keep me in the dark without a reason.”

Palpatine smiled in that warm way of his, only it didn’t seem so warm this time, instead it seemed strained and frustrated.

“You trust him with this, but not with the knowledge of you and Padme, you know what he would do if he found out about you.”

Anakin stood stock still for a moment, shocked by the bluntness of that statement, and how incorrect it was. He did know what Obi-wan would do if he found out because he did find out. Instead of running off to tell the council he had held Anakin as he cried and apologized for making him think he couldn’t talk about it. And here Palpatine was, thinking Obi-wan was cruel enough to betray him.

He wanted to correct the man, wanted to open his mouth and refute the claim because it was wrong on so many levels. But something stopped him. Maybe it was the hard look in the chancellors’ eyes, or the way his hands were gripping each other tightly, he didn’t know. All he knew was that for a minute, he felt as though he was looking at a stranger, an enemy, rather than the friend he had known for years.

“Yeah, I guess.” He told the man instead, hating the way the chancellors’ eyes lit up in victory. Did he truly hate Obi-wan so much? Anakin wasn’t blind, he knew his master had a – how to say – strong distaste of the man, but he didn’t think Obi-wans distrust warranted the slander Palpatine was throwing at him.

A thought stuck in his mind then, something he hadn’t truly considered before. Palpatine had been the one to persuade Anakin out of telling Obi-wan about the wedding in the first place. He had been the one to place that seed of doubt there. Surely it was only because the old man worried for him, right?

“I did not call you here to talk about your master though Anakin,” Palpatine said, looking at him in a way that reminded Anakin of a snake eyeing up its prey, “I have a mission for you.”

There was something in this words that set Anakin on edge, and for the first time in his life, he felt truly afraid of chancellor Palpatine. There had been moments, few and far between where his brain had screamed danger at the mans sly smile, but he had never paid much attention to it, brushing it off with a shrug of the shoulders and a grin. It was impossible to ignore now.

Anakin reached for the force, attempting to draw comfort from its quiet buzz. When he did so, however, he was met with a clogged and darkened thing that warped around him in a sort of sludge.

What the hell was going on here? Anakin didn’t know, but he sure as hell didn’t want to stick around to find out.

“Sorry Chancellor Palpatine, but I’m afraid my schedule is quite full.” He said, lying out of his ass as he tried to think of an excuse to leave the office that now seemed terribly cramped and far to warm.

“Not to worry my boy, I’m sure I could speak to the council and have some of your responsibilities – taken over by another.”

Anakin gritted his teeth. He just wanted to leave. He wanted to leave and call Padme and spend the rest of the day held in her arms. He wanted some comfort after whatever this was, this slimy darkness that felt as though it was trapping him to die.

“I’m afraid that won’t be possible Chancellor.” He said with an air of finality. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some things to attend to. As I said, my schedule is rather full.” Then he turned on his heel and left, not waiting for the man’s response.

The second he was out of that room Anakin slid to the floor and heaved a deep breath. Never had Palpatine made him feel so unsafe before, so out of control. It was staggeringly bizarre, he couldn’t help feeling as though his world view had been turned on its head. Why had he felt like that so suddenly? What had changed to make him act so – so strangely?

It didn’t matter. Not at the moment anyways. He just needed to talk to Padme. He had to get to Padme.

Anakin picked himself up off the floor, getting his shaky legs under him. He left the hallway with only one though on his mind, completely unaware of the temper tantrum that the Sith lord was throwing behind him.

Chapter Text

"Mistakes are valuable lessons often learned too late." - Season 7, Episode 6

 

“Again.” The word was said so softly that Obi-wan hadn’t been certain he had heard it at first. A trick of the ears perhaps, the whistling of the wind outside the cozy hut, but no. The air was calm and still, and he had heard that voice speak. Calmness flooded through the force, that immovable stone smoothed over by the years.

“Sorry Cody, what was that?” Obi-wan asked, turning to face his commander who stood quietly in the doorway, leaning against the wall in a way that would have been relaxed if not for the tightly strung set of his jaw. What could have caused such an expression, he did not know. He waited for Cody to repeat himself.

“Yesterday, you said ‘I can’t lose you again’” Cody said, pushing himself off the door and walking towards the center of the room, face not quite relaxed, but not quite accusatory either. Not yet anyways. “What does ‘again’ mean, Obi-wan.”

Ah. It seemed Cody had caught that little slip. Honestly, Obi-wan had not even realized that he had made such a mistake until last night, when the conversation had replayed in his mind over and over, the warmth of Cody’s hand on his back and his head pressed into the crook of his neck.

It was optimistic, and foolish, but he had hoped his commander had not noticed.

There was panic now, flooding over him in waves that crashed against his mental shields. What if’s? and what not’s? and why now’s? filled his head, and he shoved them down with the almost exhausted source of his willpower.

For a minute, he considered lying. Only for a minute though, it was unfair to keep his commander in the dark, to continue stringing him along like this. And really, what lie would Obi-wan tell to cover that error? He was certain that he could not convince Cody of some terrible event that the commander was unaware of wherein Obi-wan thought he was lost to him, no. It was better to come clean.

Whether Cody would believe the truth was a different can of worms. It wasn’t every day you were told by your General that he had come back in time to save the future from a terrible fate involving the chancellor of the republic you worked for who also just so happened to be a Sith lord. Oh, and not to mention the genocide of his entire race. That happened too.

This conversation would not go so easily, no matter what Obi-wan said to try and smooth over those old betrayals that felt fresh as an open wound.

“Would you believe me if I told you?” He asked instead of voicing any of these thoughts, smiling in a way he was certain looked tired and worn out. He did not have the energy to make it convincing, not anymore. Cody could see it too if the way his eyes softened was anything to go by.

“Always, Obi-wan. I know you would not lie to me. I just – I need to know that you trust me. Please.” Cody said, and there was raw earnestness in his every word. He was serious, Obi-wan realized. If he was told a giant turtle created the universe and Obi-wan had the proof, Cody would believe it out of pure faith and devotion. The thought was startling, and mildly concerning. He wanted Cody to form his own opinions, to be his own person and live as an individual. The amount of control this gave Obi-wan over him – well. Maybe lying wouldn’t have been so difficult after all.

No. He would not lie, not to him. Not to Cody. Funny, wasn’t it? That his commander had discovered this fact before Obi-wan himself. It seemed the man knew him far too well.

“I have done this all before,” he said, “Christophsis, Teth, the war, the clones, the Sith, all of it. I came back, who knows how but I did. I came to change it.”

Cody looked on, face blank as his brain tried to catch up with the words he was hearing. Then came the stricken look, the colors of his face paling, then reddening, before finally settling into the same blank stare. “Tell me.”

Obi-wan nodded. He had dreaded this moment for a long while now, the moment when someone would find out how terribly he had messed up, where all of his mistakes would be laid bare for another to see. He could imagine the look on Cody’s face, the contempt and disgust at the things Obi-wan had done. All the people he had let down.

“Let us sit,” he said, trying to keep the wet rasp out of his voice. As he dropped to sit on the bed, Cody coming to sit beside him, he suddenly became aware of how tired he was, like a juice box that has had all of its contents squeezed out of it. There was nothing in him now but the gaping emptiness that threatened to swallow him whole. It was exhausting, to keep up the front, to act as though he had never met his men before, as if he hadn’t watched waxer tape a Jogun fruit to the ceiling or seen Wooley draw a moustache on Crys bucket whilst he slept.

Perhaps it would be a relief to have Cody know, at least then someone would know him, truly know him for what he was.

“I messed up Cody.” He said, and in that moment the reality of everything he had seen, everything he had done came crashing down on top of him. The mask fell away and all that was left was a broken man who was oh so terribly tired. Tears fell without his permission, but he could not seem to find the strength to care. He felt for the first time in a long time that he truly had no strength left in him. “I couldn’t stop the Sith. They won, the republic fell, the jedi, Anakin – “

He bit his sentence off. It hadn’t been Anakin. Vader, it had been Vader. It could not have been Obi-wans brother, could not have been the boy he had raised, who he had taught to swim, and fight and laugh. It was someone else who had done those – those things. Horrid, terrible things that his bright boy would never have even dreamt of in his worst nightmares.

“Obi-wan?” Cody asked, and he was right by his side now, hand on his arm and fingers laced with his. “I want to understand, help me to understand.”

Obi-wan shook his head. He couldn’t – he couldn’t. Cody was looking increasingly distressed, but Obi-wan couldn’t focus on that. All he could think of was the press of his commander’s body against his own and the calming stroke of his thumb on the skin of his hand. Carefully, he tried to align his breathing with those movements.

“If you can’t tell me, can you – can you show me?” Cody asked. It was enough to bring Obi-wan back to his body a little. He could do it, he knew, project his memories into his commander’s mind. But he did not want Cody to see that, did not want his mind tainted with the knowledge of the future, the knowledge that Obi-wan had to live with. Another part of him knew the reason was selfish – he did not want Cody to see the things he had done, how he had hardly tried to help the clones, to help Ahsoka, to help Anakin. So many let downs, so many failures, and all of them his fault.

“I do not want you to see such terrible things.” He said, finding his voice after a while.

“I am a soldier Obi-wan; I can handle it. Please, I need to know. Let me understand, help me to understand.”

How could Obi-wan argue? Cody deserved to know what kind of monster he served under, his chancellor and his General both, for Obi-wan was not free of blame in this. That much he knew. Already too much choice had been taken from the clones, if Cody was so desperate to see this, then Obi-wan would not deny him. The nod he gave was terse and short, but Cody took it as a sign to smile. He wasn’t certain if it was a happy smile necessarily, but it was grateful and soft and warm.

Cody seemed to hesitate for a moment before his hand clasped the back of Obi-wans head and he pulled forward, touching their foreheads together softly.

For a minute, Obi-wan lost the ability to think. A Keldabe kiss. The Mandalorian tradition created so as to show an affectionate kiss whilst wearing a helmet. His commander was giving him a keldabe kiss of his own volition. Cody was kissing him.

“Thank you. Thank you Meshla.” Cody said, smiling against Obi-wans face. Meshla, he had said, beautiful.

Obi-wan stuttered, mouth falling open like a particularly dumbstruck salmon. Cody had – what -? A thousand thoughts were filling his head, and a thousand emotions filled his heart. Hope, namely. Hope that maybe there could be something after the war, something that encompassed the gorgeous look that Cody was giving him. And perhaps more of that nickname. Meshla.

But they would have to have that particular conversation later. For some reason, he did not think it would mix well with the information Cody was about to receive, the future he was about to see plain as day.

After Obi-wan regained the ability to think, he pressed a hand to Cody’s temple.

“This will feel strange,” He warned, “Do not try to resist it. Though if you do, I will not force anything. You will be in control throughout. If anything becomes too distressing, I will know and end the connection. Do you understand?”

Cody gave grim nod. Alright then.

Obi-wan took a deep breath, and let his memories fill him up, dragging the two of them into the future that was his past.

-

-

-

Christophsis rushed up to greet him, and the events that came with it. Slick was grinning at him, making a grand speech about the republic’s unfairness. Each gesture was practiced and poised, and the dead clones in the barracks seemed for a minute like puppets that he used to demonstrate each careful sentence. Obi-wan watched the man spit and howl in front of him and felt nothing but shame. He was right, after all. Right all along.

Ventress ran towards him, lightsabres flashing red. He fought, because of course he did. He kept her away, kept her busy, kept her distracted from Anakin and Ahsoka. Jabba’s son, the palace, the escape from Teth. The massacre –

 The sands of Ryloth were as harsh as ever, air tinged with oil and sweat and blaster fire. The men watched as he tamed the hungry beasts, poor things starved of food and affection. It was not such a great feat, but they applauded and stared in wonder as though he had hung the moon and stars in the sky. Cody looked on from the shade, unreadable as ever –

Satine scolded him, deathwatch took over the ship, nameless battles passed in a blur of faces and white armor and pain. Keep going, he told himself, they need you. The men need you.

Maul returned and Obi-wan got himself beat to hell. Help came from an unlikely ally, but an ally all the same. Satine died in his arms, clutching his hands desperately as the breath escaped her. He could do nothing but watch.

And then there was Cody, always there was Cody. They stayed in each other’s rooms, up all night planning strategies and formations and doing whatever they could to deal with the casualties that grew like a cancer. As time passed, the distance between their hands shrunk; the amount of caff they consumed did not.

“Do you ever think about after?” Obi-wan asked one night, sitting on the floor with paperwork spread in front of him. Cody shifted, turned to face him, lips close enough to touch his. For a minute, he thought that his commander might make some quip. Perhaps he would pretend Obi-wan meant after the battle instead of after the unthinkable. After the war.

He did not.

“Sometimes.” He admitted, whispered softly into the air like a confession. In that moment, Obi-wan wanted nothing more than to grab him, kiss him, tell him of how wonderful he was and how bright the world seemed when he was there to lighten it. But he doesn’t. He didn’t. Just smiled and watched his commander smile as the world continued to rage on around them.

Ahsoka left. She took a piece of Anakin with her. If he was honest, she took a piece of Obi-wan too. A daughter, a sister, whatever she was to him, she was family. Gone now, gone and gone and gone. Regret swells. He never got the chance to tell her how proud of her he was. He hoped she knew. That hope burned in him, fueled him for a little longer. Let it be enough, please. Let it be enough.

Then there was Utapua.

It came, unstoppable and rhythmic like the steady turn of seasons. Grievous fell under his blade. For one brief, glorious moment, he thought this is it. The end of the war, the chance to find some of that peace they had been fighting for. A deep feeling of want passed through him, and for once he did not hide it away again. Perhaps it is time, he thought. Perhaps I have earned it.

And then he fell.

He did not understand it at first, where the shot came from. There was panic, fear of some hidden enemy killing his men. Then he saw Cody, as he fell down and down into that dark abyss. His dear commander, the man who had whispered so gently to him. “Sometimes,” he had said as if it was a promise, as if saying it out aloud was a blessing and a curse all at once. Obi-wan had thought they were talking of the same thing. Oh, how wrong he was.

He did not seem to stop falling.

He tumbled through the next few days, slaughtered younglings and yellow eyes and burning banks of lava that tore at his eyes and his skin and his heart.

The Jedi died and he tried to cling to something, anything to kill away that unbearable pain in his chest. But there was nothing to cling to. The ground was falling away from beneath his feet and there was no one left to catch him as he fell.

I did not want this, he screamed to the skies, I did not want any of this to happen.

He was the first to hold Luke and Leia, the first to count ten perfect toes and ten perfect fingers on each child. Padme looked so small, so grey, and so tired. In those last moments, she looked nothing like the strong leader Obi-wan knew her to be. But then again, nothing was as he thought it to be. Not anymore.

Tatooine was lonely. He could not do this again. Force damn it, please, he did not want to do this again. There was no one now, no one who knew him, no one who loved him. The force was empty, and so was Obi-wan. Was there truly nothing left? Was there truly nothing to fight for?

Money drained on jawwa juice and will drained with it. Obi-wans consciousness faded, and with it, the world.

He woke up on Chrisophsis.


Cody reeled back, throat in his mouth as he clattered onto the floor. The pounding of his heart steadied him, as did the cool touch of the ground beneath him. He did not pause to be embarrassed about falling from the bed. Not when those images were still racing through his mind.

Obi-wan alone and grieving, watching his family die. The future turning darker and darker, Palpatine laughing as it turned to ashes.

And him. Cody. He had shot Obi-wan.

He did not want to believe it, could not believe it. Cody would never. Obi-wan was – he was everything. No matter what timeline they were in, he would never harm his General. Cody was sure of it. So why had he? Why had he betrayed one of the only people to ever give a damn about what happened to him?

The answer was right there of course, discovered only two days prior. The compulsion. That thing in his head that would turn him into a mindless killer. That had turned him into a mindless killer.

Obi-wan was looking at him, he realized, gaze pitying and wary and full of a horrifying mix of hope and desperation. It did not suit his face – hopelessness. The expression made the curves of his cheekbones seem too sharp, too concaved and worn. They made the tilt of his eyes dull, so different from the sharp-witted intelligence that Cody was used to.

“Obi-wan I – oh god I’m so sorry.” Bile rose in his throat, and for one brief minute he thought he might throw up. “I shot you, fuck. I shot you.”

Obi-wan threw himself off the bed and knelt in front of him. A callused hand found its way under Cody's chin, and his head was tilted to reach those swirling blue eyes. They were no longer desperate but filled with steely determination, an expression that was unfairly attractive. It suited him far better than desperation.

“It was not you Cody. It was the compulsion. I do not blame you. It was not your fault.” The tone of his voice left no room for argument. Not that Cody wanted to argue, doing – doing that was unthinkable. Still, the forgiveness was nice.

Then a thought struck him. The compulsion, Obi-wan had just found out about, that was for certain. Fainting like that from the shock was proof enough of his unawareness. And what did that mean? Well, it meant that his stupid, reckless General who did not have a single ounce of self-preservation in his fragile body had genuinely thought Cody had betrayed him, and then come back and stayed with him anyways.

Obi-wan had been kind and compassionate, working closely with the man he thought had betrayed and tried to kill him.

“Obi-wan,” he said, “respectfully, you are the biggest idiot I’ve ever met.”

His General looked dumbstruck, but amused. And okay, no. He had no right to be amused. Not when Cody was panicking a little because what other idiotic things had he done since arriving back in time? What other enemies had he just forgiven like that?

“You beautiful, strong, idiot of a man. You just came back and forgave me? Forgave us?”

Confusion was another expression Cody could add to the list of ‘emotions that do not fit Obi-wans face’. Really, what was he saying that was so confusing? For a normal person, forgiving the clones after they literally committed a genocide on your people would be out of the question. But for Obi-wan? Well, he had never been a normal person anyways. Especially not now that Cody knew he had come back in time. Because apparently that was possible. Force osik, he told himself. Blame it on that and don’t think about it too hard.

“Cody, I didn’t blame you, even then.” Obi-wan repeated, trying again to convince Cody of this. “I thought – I thought maybe you had reason enough to betray the republic. After everything you had gone through.”

Anger was not an emotion that Cody was unfamiliar with, but whatever he was feeling went far beyond the simple boundaries of ‘anger’. This was fury, pure and unfiltered. It was clear what Obi-wan was saying, what he was implying.

“You blamed yourself?! Obi-wan none of this was your fault. How could you even think that?”

His General smiled sadly, shrugging his shoulders slightly. Force, he looked tired, exhausted even. Of course he bloody did, he was living this war for the second time around. That was enough to make anyone worn out enough to sleep for two weeks straight.

“I’m going to kill Palpatine.” He said with a great amount of certainty, a sentence that in any other circumstance, would immediately have him killed for treason. Not that he cared about that anymore, funnily enough, there were bigger things to think about. “I’m going to kill him and mutilate his body.”

Okay, that was not the nicest image, but Obi-wan laughed and shook his head, so Cody counted it as a win.

“Yes well, you will have to join the line I’m afraid.”

Yes, Cody thought. He would have to join the line. There was no doubt in his mind that Obi-wan was first in it. The image was thrilling, his General descending like an avenging angel, hair wild about his face as the blue light from his sabre cast the world in a heavenly glow. Then Palpatine’s head would tumble to the floor and Cody would spit on it for good measure.

“Do you have a plan? For taking him down?” Cody asked, because removing that man from the favor of the republic would not be so easy, especially with his brothers still under the compulsion. Memories of the future swam around in his head, the jedi falling one by one. It could not come to that.

Obi-wan grinned, a feral thing that showed far too many teeth. “My dear commander, are you saying you want in?”

And really was that even a question? A chance to hit back at Palpatine and watch Obi-wan deliver justice like a heavenly being? He would not miss it for the world. Sign him the fuck up.

“Obi-wan I would be delighted.”