main
side
curve
  1. Welcome to the new boards! Details here!

Saga - PT "All That's Unsung" | OTP Date Night Challenge | Song!Verse, post-RoTS AU - Complete

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Mira_Jade , Apr 2, 2019.

  1. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Title: "All That's Unsung"
    Author: Mira_Jade

    Genre: Romance, Humor, Family
    Rating: PG
    Time Frame: 16 BBY, Post-RoTS; My Song!Verse
    Characters: Padmé Amidala/Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano/Rex, Luke & Leia Skywalker

    Summary: After five years of marriage, two children, and countless hurdles faced and overcame together – the least of which being the end of the Secession Crisis and the subversion of the darker future Darth Sidious would’ve seen borne instead – it comes to the attention of Anakin and Padmé Amidala Skywalker that they have yet to experience one of the simplemost activities of coupledom: an actual date.

    Fixing that state of affairs, of course, ends up being easier said than done.


    Aurhot's Notes: Greetings, dear readers! First off, I should start by noting that this story was written for the OTP Thread’s fabulous Date Nite Gon Rong challenge! Because I am a sucker who's unable to say no to plot bunnies when they come, and had to write two entries. :p I received prompt #8: a Technical/Mechanical mishap.

    Then, for those of you who are familiar with my fic "An Old Song, Re-Sung" and subsequent tales, I welcome you back and thank you for accompanying me even further into this 'verse! For those of you who are not as familiar with this arc of stories, but are still curious and would like to read: simply put, this is an AU where Anakin was not quite as dumb and Sithy, thus circumventing the events of RoTS and the OT entirely. If I'm being completely honest, this entire story was just an excuse to write a heaping dose of Skyfamily fluff, with an added bonus of pre-Rex/Ahsoka, as they're able to be in this 'verse. It's two OTPs for the price of one, what can I say? ;) [face_mischief] [face_love] Further stories in this timeline can be found under the cut, if you are interested in the concept and would like to read more. :)


    As a last note, this was supposed to be a vignette, but ended up clocking in over 10k words anyway (who's surprised? o_O :oops:). So, I'm going to post this in two parts, with an additional coda at the end to wrap everything up.

    Then all that's left to say is that I thank you all so very much for reading, and hope that you enjoy! [:D]


    Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, but for the words. :)







    “All That's Unsung”
    by Mira_Jade


    I.

    As it always seemed to be with them, it came down to a matter of obligation and time.

    Theirs was a balance that partners across the galaxy struggled with, granted, yet Anakin Skywalker suspected that, in some ways, this was the price they still paid for the secrecy and sins of omission that had defined the beginning of their marriage. All too often as of late, it was difficult just to be themselves, together, even when they were now free and without guilt to do so.

    Initially, it was a little easier, he couldn't help but recall. With him stripped of his titles and responsibilities as a Jedi Knight, and Padmé asked to step down from being Naboo’s senator by the queen, they had a surplus of time to resolidify their bond. Anakin wouldn’t trade those days for anything in the galaxy, yet those months spent as a young family, growing together in their house by the lake, had almost solely been devoted to their newborn children and their raising. Those months were necessary for their peace and recuperation, and especially so for Anakin, who was forced into a fair bit of introspection and self-examination during his Council mandated sessions with Master Lak. Following the scourge that Palpatine had left behind on his psyche, and his own admittedly deep seeded fears and anger and subsequent traumas survived in life, a mind-healer had been sorely needed and since benefited from. He had much to repent for, and even more to find peace with and accept. While those months had been vital for their family, in every way, he wouldn’t necessarily call them romantic, in the purist sense of the word.

    Following those months, of course, it was impossible for them to stay still for too long. When Padmé was recruited by Senator Bail Organa to aid him in his bid for the chancellorship following Mas Amedda's temporary term, and then kept as a Special Adviser to the Supreme Chancellor’s Office to be used as his chief negotiator and ambassador of policy, their lives became as busy as they were during the height of the war. She was a sharp weapon in Chancellor Organa's arsenal, and he used her to the fullest in peace talks with the Separatists - usually with her husband and children in tow. That whirlwind of activity only intensified with Anakin himself getting involved in the political sphere by offering his expertise for the Jedi/GAR Reconstruction Act - which was still in debate, both within and outside the Order. Between that and the Clone Rights Bill that Padmé was working on seeing introduced following an official declaration of peace, he'd lately found himself more involved in the realms of legislature than he'd ever wanted before. It was difficult for them to catch their breath when there was a need demanded of them by the galaxy they had both served for so long. Mostly, Anakin wouldn’t – couldn’t – imagine another course for their lives, and yet -

    “ - what would you say about getting dinner tonight?”

    Padmé, from where she had been rushing around the master-room of their suite, gathering ‘pads and sheets of flimsi from where she had fallen asleep studying the night before, flashed him a glance. “Sounds good to me,” she answered, still clearly distracted as her mind raced on towards her day ahead. She was only half dressed in her official regalia, with her skirts swishing about her in her haste and her hair half twisted up into an elaborate, shell-shaped spiral. “I'll be spending the morning discussing strategy with Breha and Mon, but then our luncheon shouldn’t go too late into the evening – unless Senator Antaxes gets going about reparations and greviance taxes and then who knows how long we’ll be stuck discussing the minutia of our proposal.” As a counterpoint to the seriousness of her words, Padmé made a face more fitting of Leia than a former queen and senator for mentioning the odious politician. But the Separatist woman was a rancor in a skirt, to put it mildly.

    Anakin nodded in reply, more than able to sympathize for what she hoped to accomplish during this visit to Alderaan. Cannily, playing a counterpoint to her husband’s needs from his office on Coruscant, Queen Breha Organa had invited a select few affluent Separatist senators and planetary leaders into the Inner Core with the hopes of moving them to push for an official peace within their own circles. While pockets of resistance and active fighting still raged across the galaxy – and they most likely would for some time – the brunt of the galaxy-wide warring was done. At long last, the first, hesitant moves towards a lasting treaty were being made. From here on out, more ground would be gained thanks to politicians like Padmé rather than through their soldiers on the front-lines. Or, so they hoped.

    “What are you thinking for later?” Padmé continued absently. “Grabbing a bizzo pie would be quick and easy – or, Ithorian noodles sound good to me, especially from that little vendor just outside the palace that Sheltay recommended. I can pick that up on my way back, even, and we - ”

    “ - um, yeah, take-out sounds good. You know I’ll never turn down a good Corellian bizzo. But, well, you see,” yet, no matter his intentions, he faltered, at a loss for words. The one palm he had left that physically could was sweating; he felt uncharacteristically jittery in his skin. Anakin usually considered himself braver than this; he was the Hero Without Fear, the Chosen One himself, many still believed . . . yet, at the same time he was self-aware enough to admit that his wife still had the ability to leave him tongue-tied, even all these years later. He took in a deep breath and sheepishly reached up to rub at the back of his neck. “I was wondering if you wanted to go out for dinner, maybe. You know . . . with me?”

    That, finally, had Padmé stilling. She took a moment to pause and look at him, clearly taken aback. A dark brow slowly raised as understanding dawned, but, Anakin was relieved to see, her deep brown eyes were glittering. “Knight Skywalker,” she said, a playful note coloring her tone, “are you asking me out on a date?”

    Anakin didn’t even think to protest that he wasn’t a Jedi anymore. Even the distant, dull pang that usually accompanied the thought didn’t have the time to fully manifest then. It couldn't, not when his wife was smiling at him like that – like he was her reason for hope and happiness in the galaxy. He felt nine years old and awe-struck all over again, feeling as warmth bloomed out from his heart to his fingertips, leaving him blushing in its wake.

    “Yes, milady,” he answered simply. “That is, if you’ll have me.”

    He meant for his words to sound flirty, and perhaps they did to the ear. Even so, Padmé’s expression only softened. She placed her datacards down to walk across the room to him, and by then it was a reflex as easy as breathing to fold her into his arms. She was still so small when compared to him, and he closed his eyes to breath in the floral scent of her hair. He ran his organic hand up and down the sleek sky-blue fabric that made up the back of her dress for the day, wanting to feel her warmth. “It’s a little late for me to turn you down now, wouldn’t you say?” he felt her words against his chest as much as he heard them spoken aloud. “We’re five years and two children into this.”

    “Yet,” Anakin mused, “we’ve never been on an actual date, when you think about it.” We’ve done this all terribly out of order, he couldn’t help but think. Though his sense of guilt, and the wounds that had inevitably inflicted on their relationship, had ebbed to heal over the years, his more negative emotions still came back to stab at him in unguarded moments. They did so then.

    “Well, you’re asking me now,” Padmé looked up at him, the corners of her mouth turning upwards. “That's all that matters in the end.”

    “I am.” Her grin was infectious, as always, helping him keep his darker thoughts at bay. In the Force, she was always such a blindingly bright, white light to his senses, illuminating even the deepest shadows. “Yet, you still haven’t said yes.”

    “And you think I’d say anything else? You should know my answer,” Padmé teased. “Yes; always.”

    For that, he couldn’t help but kiss her. She tasted sweet, like the sugar she used to flavor her caf and the faint gloss of her cosmetics, like home and something else equally intangible he still couldn’t wholly place. He felt the urge to sink his hands into her hair and pull her even closer – but that would certainly ruin all of Sabé’s hard work, never mind that he rather suspected that Padmé herself wouldn’t mind in the slightest, and -

    “ - later, love,” he fought a wicked sort of smirk for the little noise of protest she made in the back of her throat when he at last pulled away. “You have your . . . politics,” he crinkled his nose for that, “and I have a date to plan.”

    Padmé sighed, but she dutifully stepped back from him and smoothed down the front of her dress. “It’s brazen of you,” still she tilted her nose up in mock affront, “thinking that I’d kiss you after a first date – let alone anything else.”

    “I’ll have to earn your favor, then,” he could feel the heat that entered his gaze for their bantered words. For a moment, they just stared at each other, the air between them thrumming. He almost threw caution to the wind and kissed her again before he remembered: Sabé. The woman was too much of a celestial being to their family to antagonize, and he knew better. Anakin shook his head as if to clear it, and said instead: “Leave it all to me, I’ll plan the perfect evening.”

    He then made quick work of helping her gather the rest of her belongings, and they headed out into the main rooms of the suite at the same time. Sabé, sure enough, had the outer layer of his wife’s gown ready and the last few components for her headdress set aside. Just as impressive, she'd also somehow managed to settle both of the twins in their high chairs and ready them for breakfast. From there, Anakin was more than happy to take over. Let Padmé focus on saving the galaxy that day; he had their own little corner of the universe to care for instead.

    Luke and Leia noticed them right away, and their matching grins and garbled greetings were the axes his life now spun about. “Dada!” was now easily heard to his ears from amongst the happy gibberish. At nineteen months, their vocabularies were growing all the more so with each passing day, oftentimes so much so that Anakin was left amazed by their progress.

    “Mama; Dada!” Leia chirped, and Luke more sensibly chimed in to echo his sister with, “Dada, food!”

    Anakin chuckled for that, and leaned over to blow obnoxiously loud kisses against their still chubby baby cheeks in greeting. He ruffled their hair, careful with his inorganic hand against Leia’s already impressive mass of caf coloured curls, and didn’t even bother to hide his smile. If this was what he had given up so much for, he knew the better end of a bargain when he saw one.

    “Yes, Dada’s here!” he confirmed. Leia giggled and smacked his cheeks with her little hands. “Dada silly,” she proclaimed – she, like her mother, liked to inform him that he was silly on a regular basis. Anakin wasn't sure if she knew what the word meant, or if she was parroting a familiar sound - oftentimes accurately so, though.

    The twins were just as happy to see their mother, and Anakin made room for Padmé to say hello and goodbye to the children while Sabé patiently went about finishing up her look for the day. The sight of their morning routine was one that warmed his heart for just how right it was – his family, here, and together. Everything was just as it was supposed to be, especially when he knew, he knew, just how easily it all could have -

    . . . but no. Then wasn’t the time for such thoughts. No matter that such instances of that Other time seemed to come upon him all the more so since arriving on Alderaan - as they usually seemed to do on this world in particular. There were times when he blinked and could see nothing but darkness, even on sunny days when walking through the streets of Alderaan's capitol city. Faces in the crowds would wink out before appearing again, screaming against his senses in accusation, and he'd feel such an aching gap in the Force in reply. Just the other day, when Queen Breha had first greeted them upon their arrival, he'd seen the strangest vision of her with a dark haired toddler swathed in white instead, and, for a moment, he thought that he'd seen -

    - Leia.

    But Anakin shook his head, and firmly pushed those thoughts away through a concentrated force of will. Maybe he'd give Master Lak, or even Obi-Wan, a call when the twins napped later to discuss his visions, but for the time being he wanted only to focus on happier thoughts. Such as -

    “We’ll have to find someone to watch the twins,” Anakin reflected as he picked up the two bowls of mealgrain and softened sun-apples that Sabé had prepared. He put Luke’s bowl down with a stern look – the little boy liked to splatter as much of his breakfast on the floor as he did in his mouth, and Anakin was ready for a battle. “It’s Sabé’s night off.”

    The former handmaiden looked from Padmé to the twins, understanding dawning in a glance. “My lady,” she started, “I am more than willing to - ”

    “ - oh no,” Anakin interrupted before Padmé could. He knew that his wife would be of a like mind with him on this, and that was only confirmed when Padmé too nodded in agreement. “You work hard enough for our family as it already is.” Our family, it was only right to say – along the way, Sabé had grown to become a part of their little unit as much as Anakin still called Obi-Wan and Ahsoka his own. “This is time for yourself that you more than deserve, and you’re going to take it. Besides, I already know just who to call.”

    Still, Sabé looked uncertain. “If you’re sure,” she hesitated to say. "Yet, if you need me - "

    “ - oh, I’m sure, you don't need to worry” Anakin flashed her a grin, even as Padmé raised a brow as if reading his mind. But she didn’t second guess his choice, instead she just shook her head and gave a low chuckle.

    “I don’t know what’s going to be more entertaining,” she mused aloud, “events here at home or our night out, honestly.”

    “If I do my job right, there’ll be no questioning that matter,” Anakin smirked, and stepped forward to kiss his wife goodbye one last time. “Now, you have a wonderful day saving the galaxy – let me know if things get interesting, I’ll be there in a second to help."

    Padmé fixed him with a droll look. “Thanks for the offer, but I’d rather get through this without aggressive negotiations if at all possible.”

    Anakin couldn’t help but flash a wolfish grin. “Where’s the fun in that?” he didn’t agree. “And, maybe, that’s just the answer you need for the likes of Senator Antaxes? You know I'm right.”

    “Don’t tempt me,” she replied, her tone dry. “On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t trust you home alone after all. You'll only corrupt the children if left unsupervised."

    “You just don't like that I make more . . . aggressive means sound sensible sometimes. But, corrupt the children?” Anakin shook his head. “It’s not possible. Between you and Obi-Wan there’s always someone around to make sure I mind my manners.” Even so, he waited until she was almost out the door to add, “But that doesn’t mean that I won’t try my best.”

    Padmé paused when she was halfway through the door, and turned over her shoulder to roll her eyes at him one last time. But, her expression was fond. “I love you,” she said before leaving, and, the same as always, Anakin felt his heart flutter.

    “And I you. See you later.”

    “It’s a date,” Padmé agreed, and then she was gone.

    Anakin stared after her for a moment longer, unable to help the – admittedly stupid – grin that had grown to split across his face. But as no one was there to see him, he didn’t immediately fight the expression away; he couldn’t, it seemed, and his smile remained as he turned back to mind his children. Even Luke having already – rather impressively – spooning out a sizable portion of his mealgrain onto the floor while he'd been distracted couldn’t dampen his spirits. The little boy gave a delighted giggle for how the warm mush splattered against the tiles, even as Anakin sighed.

    “No, no, not like that,” Anakin shook his head to correct. “In your mouth,” he helped Luke with his next spoonful of food. “Mmmm, right?”

    Luke didn’t at all look like he agreed with him. By his side, Leia fixed her brother with a very serious expression, as if she too was contemplating the merits of the argument – but she was much too sensible to waste food when she had it. Or, at least, not with breakfast. Anakin knew the real fight would come with vegetables around dinnertime, no matter that he couldn't wholly say he blamed her there.

    “Alright then, where should I take Mommy tonight? Do you have any ideas?” he spread his hands in welcome, looking from his son to his daughter and back again. Leia gurgled something that was ineligible when spoken around her spoon and a mouthful of mealgrain, but still, Anakin nodded sagely.

    “Baby girl, I think you took the words right out of my mouth,” Anakin nodded sagely to reply. “That’s exactly what I’ll do.”

    But, first things first . . .

    Anakin narrowed another look at his son, and with a flick of his fingers he used the Force to tug Luke’s spoon back over his tray table where it belonged with a practiced gesture. It was time to be Dad for the day, he fixed his children with his full attention; the role of Husband would have to wait for later.



    .

    .

    In the near twenty years of her life, Ahsoka Tano had been many things: from a Padawan learner in the Jedi Order to the Commander and now the ranking General of the 501st Legion in the Grand Army of the Republic. During her time away from both she’d filled in her resume with odd jobs as everything from a dish washer to a ship mechanic and a freighter pilot to a smuggler, once – it was a long story, really, but it was for a good cause, so shush. In some ways, she felt like there were very few things she hadn’t done.

    Except, well . . . unlike most other girls her age, she could safely say that she had never been a babysitter before.

    If that was true of her – and she had some experience with mentoring Jedi younglings, at the very least – then that was all the more true of the man by her side. Because Commander Rex was looking down at the twins, each quietly dozing in their shared crib, from the doorway of the nursery as if they were enemy combatants who were unaware that they were under siege. The strong line of his brow was narrowed, and his mouth was set into a thin, firm expression.

    But, when Anakin had called earlier in the day – pulling them away from where they were running drills with the 501st further out in the Aldera system, staying close at hand to the Separatist representatives while they conditioned their newest batch of shinies – Ahsoka had honestly been happy to help. Anakin and Padmé deserved to take some time for themselves, and they’d looked beautiful and happy together when they’d left just a little while ago. Now, however, Ahsoka thought she understood just why her former master had looked so amused when he'd initially left them behind.

    Rex, after all, was doing this for his general, she knew; he still wasn’t quite sure what to make of the Skykids themselves. Oh, he’d lay down his life to keep the children safe in a heartbeat, and he loved them the same way he’d since learned to form attachments with all of his aliit, but, filling in as a guardian while the elder Skywalkers were away for the evening? That was something else entirely. This was uncharted territory if ever there was for her friend and comrade.

    Honestly, she suspected that she was going to enjoy this night as much as Anakin was already looking forward to hearing her report later. That, she wasn't the least bit ashamed to admit.

    “Come on, Rex,” she playfully elbowed him, “don’t look so scared. We’ve faced more dangerous foes than this and come out on top before.”

    Rex, clearly, did not take even a small comfort from her words. “Hardly,” he failed to agree with her summation of their quarry. A moment passed, and then he added, “and I’m not scared . . . I’m just a healthy dose of apprehensive. These are the general’s little ‘uns. Caring for them is not a task to be taken lightly.”

    “Uh huh, is that it?” Ahsoka eyed him. She crossed her arms over her chest, not believing him for a second. “And . . .” she prompted.

    “And,” dutifully, Rex continued, “what’s more than that, they’re also Lady Skywalker’s twins. You know, Mandalorians have a few sayings about mothers and their young and those who cross them – they are . . . creative, to put it lightly, and not in an encouraging way.”

    For that, Ahsoka couldn’t help but chuckle. “Ladies and gentleman: may I present to you Commander Rex of the famed 501st Legion, undone by a couple of toddlers. Do you know how many less than savory sorts in the Outer Rim would love to get a hold of that intel?” She felt a brief pang to think: Fives would've been delighted by this, before she swiftly folded that thought away. He would've adored the twins. But, then wasn’t the right time to remember the fallen; she'd save those reflections for later, when there wasn't such light and new life before them.

    “They can think what they like,” at the very least, Rex was unperturbed by her teasing. He easily shadowed her left side, unconsciously shielding her blind spot as he ever did, wearing his greys and standing at relaxed attention as if waiting for orders. It was the closest she’d ever seen him come to blending into civilian settings. “I’m just smart enough to know when I’ve met my match. Are you telling me that you’re not nervous?” he turned her probing back on her.

    “No,” she was honest to shrug. “They’re a part of Anakin,” for her, it was that simple – as much by the biology of her species as the bonds she’d since forged to make her own, “and they’re Force-sensitive, too. We’ve got them matched in every way. This will be a snap, you'll see.”

    Leia then made a sniffling noise, drawing their attention, and sneezed in her sleep. She didn’t awaken, but the motion was enough so that a set of toy blocks on the floor jumped and then fell back down again. Ah, Ahsoka thought from the times she’d helped out on the crèche as all members of the Order cycled through – impulsive uses of the Force were common in children the twins’ age. Just how sporadic and intense those instances were varied from child to child, depending on the strength of their connection to the Force and their age and level of training. But, they weren't unusual.

    Even so, Rex stared at the blocks as if they were a grenade set to blow. He then looked back at her. Pointedly.

    “There’s two of us, and two of them,” Ahsoka stubbornly held her ground. “I like those odds.”

    “I'd call those generous odds,” still Rex muttered.

    “Oh, don’t be so glum, Rexter,” Ahsoka finally gave a good-natured scowl. “I should’ve brought Kix instead, you know – he’d be more help than a grumbly old renda bear.”

    “Kix may have been a more practical choice for this mission, sir; you’re right,” Rex’s voice was firm with formality, but she saw where his eyes flashed a shade that was hot and liquid when compared to his more familiar amber brown for a fraction of a second. She stared, feeling oddly on edge in reply, yet the look didn’t return a second time.

    Obviously, a frown was more than warranted in answer. She felt the sharp points of her teeth flash as she grumbled, “And drop the sir osik. C’mon, we’ve talked about this before – repeatedly.

    Just as stubborn as she was, Rex turned and held her gaze; he did not blink as his eyes fixed on her own. “Yes . . . sir.”

    His words were carefully respectful – subservient, even, no matter how unmovable he was being – but that didn’t completely explain the racing tingle that she felt jolt from her chest to her fingertips like a shock. She curled her fingers against the sensation, strangely feeling the urge to bare her teeth again.

    But, whatever . . . that moment was between them was forgotten when Rex inclined his head. “General, they’re waking up,” he warned, gesturing into the nursery. And, sure enough, when she shook her head and looked over at the crib again, two sets of wide eyes were staring right back their way.

    Deeming it safe to enter the nursery then, Ahsoka bravely made her way over to the crib. “Hello,” she greeted warmly, reflexively reaching out into the Force for the bright, colourful splashes of light that was her immaterial sense of the twins. Their combined signature was easy to find, as always – like their father they were like stars against the backdrop of the universe when most others usually shone like earthly flames to her innermost eye – but there was something turbulent about their light then. Instead of the usual shades of blues and greens she expected to find, spikes of xanthous yellow and raw vermilion interrupted the cast of her vision. Reflexively, she checked her stride, and approached the crib carefully. She held her hands out, and kept her movements slow.

    Huh, that was odd. Usually, the twins were only too happy to see her, Ahsoka was puzzled to reflect. She'd didn't even mind them grabbing at her lekku for the way they chanted 'soka, 'soka and giggled when she picked them up and spun them around for how rightly placed they were in her heart's perception of clan. Though not as much as she may have wished with the still ongoing state of the war, she’d been a part of the twins lives from the start, and they were bound together. Yet, she slowly allowed herself to admit, that was always when Anakin and Padmé were around – or even Sabé. She could feel as Leia stretched out with her senses, looking for one or both of her parents; already, Ahsoka knew what the baby girl would find - or, rather, what she wouldn't find. The swirl of yellows and oranges were growing; the vermilion was deepening with a promise of crimson next to come. It took Luke only a second longer than his sister to realize that they were alone in the suite, and he sniffed, uncertain.

    Luke, Ahsoka realized, looked to be on the verge of tears, clearly upset. Leia, however, had no such subdued reaction as her brother. Instead, her small face scrunched up in a fiery expression that Ahsoka couldn’t tell for more Anakin or Padmé in origin before she opened her mouth.

    “Hey there, sweetheart,” Ahsoka rushed to croon, knowing that they were standing on the edge of a precipice before -

    - they tumbled over.

    Leia’s first wail was more of a scream, clapping against her montrals with all of the sonic force of a droid popper going off much too close for comfort. As if in answer, Ahsoka heard more than saw one of the decorative vases in the hall just behind them wobble alarmingly before plunging to the ground and shattering. The Force rippled across her senses, angry and turbulent and wanting; her sense of crimson turned overwhelming as it swelled and flared in her perception of the twins’ light.

    “Here we go,” Rex was resigned to grumble, even as he moved past her to sweep Leia up in a move that was instinctive more so than practiced. Resolutely, he ignored as the little girl twisted in his arms like a possessed tooka kit, and bore her screaming into his Human ears only slightly better than Ahsoka would have managed. But, no matter his wry humor, his arms were strong as they settled about the little girl. He bounced her lightly up and down, patiently bearing out her screaming with good grace as he tried to shush her. “This is going to be easy, you’re right,” even so, a note of I-told-you-so was all too obvious in his voice when he commented aside to her. “A sunny walk through a Nabooian meadow – that’s this.”

    Ahsoka, in reply, only scowled. “Hunker down, soldier – this can’t be any worse than any other battle we’ve fought together. We’ve got this.”

    As if punctuating her words, Leia gave another ear shattering scream. This time, what Ahsoka really hoped was a reproduction of a beautifully pastoral Alderaanian scene wobbled on the wall before crashing. Its duraglass pane shattered, and the gilded frame snapped and cracked. She winced, wondering just how . . . expensive the suite was that Queen Breha had appointed for the Skywalker family. Hopefully, the damages incurred wouldn’t be too costly.

    But she couldn’t worry about that just then. Instead, she went to the crib, and swept Luke up to match. The little boy, at least, was not as angry as his sister – he was just worried, she felt, and he couldn’t calm himself down when Leia had worked herself up into such a state; each child was feeding off of the other's agitation, and that was only worsening Leia's hysteria. She brushed his mind, trying to sooth him as best she could, but the only clear thought she could glean was that he wanted his parents. And, Anakin and Padmé she most certainly was not.

    “We’ve got this,” Ahsoka insisted again, as if by repeating the words like a mantra she could make them true. All the while, she mentally prepared herself for what was unexpectedly promising to be the most harrowing fight of their careers thus far. Skykids: one, she thought with a wince, Full Grown Experienced War Veterans: nada.

    Okay then, alright . . . she was, even if just to herself, just maybe starting to doubt their odds. When, she allowed herself a glance at her chrono, were Anakin and Padmé due home, again? And how, she resigned herself, were they going to make it until then?




    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2019
    Kahara, divapilot and Findswoman like this.
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Scrumptious! So in character and lovable. The Skywalker family & Rexoka [face_mischief] =D= This is my heart-canon for sure! [face_love]
     
    Mira_Jade and Findswoman like this.
  3. Anedon

    Anedon Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    Intresting story, nice to see Anakin and Padme having found happiness for once as well as Ahsoka and Rex spending time together away from the battlefield.
     
  4. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Amen to that!! As much as I love the OT, subverting it entirely just brings me all sorts of joy, imagining this what-if world instead. Thank you for reading, my friend, as always! [:D]


    Thanks! I really appreciate the kind words. :) These characters deserve all of the peace and happiness, so I'm thrilled to provide where canon did not. :p [face_mischief] [face_love]


    Alrighty, coming up soon, the next chapter will put the Gon Rong in Date Nite with a technical and a mechanical mishap - from a certain point of view, of course. [face_mischief] As always, I thank you all so much for reading, and hope that you enjoy! [face_love] [:D]


    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2019
  5. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Again, a warm round of thanks to @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha for being a sounding board and a dear source of encouragement while this was in development. [face_love] [:D]






    II.

    So far, the evening was everything Anakin first hoped it would be.

    Padmé was beautiful in a dress of soft, creamy yellow, with little violet flowers and green vines sewn into her skirt and the majority of her bodice. The gown was a subdued affair compared to her usual style, but perfect for their desire to keep what relative anonymity that evening they could. That the color and design were a nod to that day in the meadows – their first real date, one could say – only made it all the better. Her hair was down, mostly, with her brown curls left free to tumble over her shoulders except for a few strategically placed clips. As for himself, it was still somewhat of a novelty to wear anything other than the robes of a Jedi, but he was acclimating. Early on, Ukla – Padmé’s Chandra-Fan seamstress and long-time wardrobe designer – had delighted in tackling the conundrum that was his one-note preference for blacks and browns, cut in a very specific style, and provided him with a civilian wardrobe. While he’d admittedly been skeptical about the whole thing at first, when he came out wearing a casual, grey tailed suit with a midnight blue sweater of Alderaanian wool that covered him from wrists to neck underneath, Padmé had stopped to trace her eyes over him with undisguised appreciation. Anakin supposed that he had Ukla to thank for that – just a little bit, of course.

    Following, they’d hardly wasted any time briefing Rex and Ahsoka – dinner was ready to be heated, and soaps, towels, and a fresh change of clothes were out and ready by the bathtub. From there, he trusted his former apprentice and captain to figure things out. Armed with diapers, a plethora of toys, and Anakin’s final, breezy remark of “don’t let the twins burn the place down,” they were ready to depart.

    “What? I wasn’t only kidding,” he protested when Padmé swatted at his shoulder for that last bit. (Well, mostly, at least.)

    The first step of their night out was dinner. Padmé had mentioned her craving for Ithorian noodles earlier, so Anakin had researched to find an Ithorian fusion restaurant that took traditional classics and spliced them together with Core styles of cooking. When he’d first immigrated to Coruscant, even the modest tables the Jedi kept seemed like fantastical feasts to his senses, and he’d yet to lose his appreciation for trying new things. Now, nearly twenty years later, he was still amazed by what could be done with spices and a little bit of imagination; he may have been a little bit of the foodie that his wife liked to tease him for being, in all honesty.

    The restaurant was as beautiful as the food was delicious. The lights were dim, with hushed crimson and deep violet silk screens painted with traditional Ithorian landscapes under-lit to make the walls seemingly shimmer and glow. Above them, paper lanterns were decorated with traditional Ithori characters and offered a soft light for them to see their meal by. The tables were low to the ground, and they reclined on cushions to enjoy their food rather than sitting in chairs. Even before their main course, Anakin was happy with the fragrant, floral tea (Obi-Wan would’ve loved this blend) and the fried dumplings and spicy obo peanut sauce they had for dipping. All the while, Padmé’s happy mien let him know that she was just as pleased with his choice as he was. They talked about everything and nothing, more than at ease and familiar with each other by that point in their relationship. With such beautiful ambiance, delicious food, and his wife there by his side, Anakin couldn’t remember a time he felt more relaxed. In that moment, he was content with his place in the universe.

    Yet -

    - there was once, when the waiter was changing out their tea, when Anakin looked at the man, yet couldn’t see him. He disappeared from his senses, no matter that Anakin knew he was still there – he could hear him talking to Padmé. If he didn’t have that assurance from his ears, he’d think the waiter gone, completely, with only a thrum of loss reverberating across the Force to mark where he once had been.

    But his senses reoriented themselves just as quickly again, and Anakin's awareness returned back to the here and now. Their waiter smiled at them both before moving onto his next table of guests, and that was that.

    Anakin, in the wake of his distorted sense of time and place, found that he could not breath. Finally, he closed his eyes to exhale slowly, and tried his best to gather himself.

    “Anakin?” cannily, Padmé noticed his discomposure. He’d been hoping to pretend like nothing happened, he wanted to grimace for her perception; he didn’t want to ruin their evening out together. “What is it?”

    Nothing, was his first instinct to say, but he could taste the lie even before he voiced it. He’d made a promise never to hide from her again, just before the twins were born, and he’d honor that vow as best he could. He frowned, even so, and reached up to press the heel of his hand to his forehead. His temples were throbbing in the aftermath of the – what even was that? An impression from the Force, a vision? He wasn’t sure.

    “Did you see something again?” she asked. Ever since coming to Alderaan, he’d glimpsed dozens of strange things – the least of which being Queen Breha holding their baby daughter, dressed in the cool white of an Alderaanian princess. He’d yet to tell Padmé about that particular gleaning, and now her brow was furrowed in concern as she leaned forward to search his eyes – that, over all else, he did not want to ruin their night together with.

    Yet, he gave in and shook his head. “I don’t know,” he answered, well and truly baffled. “I didn't see anything, so much as something disappeared.” It was eerily close to an after-sense of death, the depression in the Force that followed – as he unfortunately knew from the long experience of walking too many battlefields to mention. That, however, he dreaded too much to put into words. “But it’s passed now,” he wasn’t quite able to force a cheerful expression to his face. “Don’t worry, I’m fine.”

    Padmé narrowed her eyes, but she nodded – allowing him to believe what he would for the time being. He had no doubt that she'd raise the subject again later, when they didn't have such good food and time to themselves to enjoy. After a few minutes, they were able to recover some semblance of normalcy, and the rest of their meal passed pleasantly enough. Even still, Anakin couldn’t help but let his gaze wander over the patrons happily dining in the restaurant, wondering which face was going to flicker from view next.



    .

    .

    The bathroom looked like a battlefield.

    Cold water and soapy suds from the honest to goodness bathtub – a luxury compared to her more familiar history with sonic showers – had been splashed everywhere. Discarded toys and sopping towels littered the floor like casualties of war, and there was even an impressive amount of liquid soap that had squirted out to splatter against the ceiling above them when a very unhappy Skybaby had struck the water and the Force had answered in all sorts of unexpected ways. Her fingers were pruned, and the front of her tunic was drenched – she should've worn her battle-dress anyway, it seemed in retrospect, to protect her from the elements. She was only one step away from stealing one of Anakin’s old shirts, declaring hers a lost cause. (Padmé, Force love her, had nothing in her wardrobe that was quite so . . . comfortable, to say the least.)

    Ahsoka was, in a word, exhausted as they finally closed the door on the twins’ nursery. They’d had it with the tantrums; now, there was nothing left to do but let them cry it out. The children were fed, bathed, and changed. Beyond that, Ahsoka’s resistance to the sad, pathetic faces of the youngsters was now blaster-proof. Nah uh – they could try some good old fashioned self-soothing for a change.

    They had to cry themselves to sleep eventually . . . right?

    Besides, the adults had quite the mess on their hands to tidy before Anakin and Padmé returned. The bathroom cleaned up quickly, at least – that was nothing that a handful of towels couldn’t fix. The shattered vase in the hall was trickier – the ceramic shards had flown in every direction, and they were wickedly sharp, especially with the toddling Skykids in mind. So, Ahsoka meticulously swept the floor while Rex cleaned up the disaster that was the kitchenette’s attached dining room. Brave man.

    “Well,” she chirped as cheerfully as she could, stubbornly ignoring how the babies’ muffled cries continued to stab at her montrals, “at least bath-time went slightly better than dinner. I think we’re getting the hang of this.”

    Rex – who’d taken the brunt of Luke’s curious habit of spooning his food everywhere except in his mouth, and had already changed through two of Anakin’s tunics – didn’t immediately agree with her.

    “You’ve always had a funny sense of what counts as a successful campaign,” he shook his head. “But this one takes the uj’alayi, sir.”

    Ahsoka gave a dismissive gesture. “Any mission we can walk away from is a success in my book,” she stubbornly held her stance – even if she currently felt like she’d just ran ten klicks in full gear after a whole day of skirmishes. Just how, she wondered with no small amount of awe, did parents do this day in and day out? – and some on their own, even, all the while keeping up on secular careers and their own personal lives and -

    - Ahsoka shuddered. Sometimes, she appreciated the unorthodox structure of her life more than words could say. She wouldn’t trade her path for anything.

    “Something tells me that Lady Skywalker won’t exactly agree with your parameters,” Rex huffed.

    “C’mon – you can’t tell me that you’re not enjoying this, maybe even a little bit?” Ahsoka stood, and leaned on her broom to challenge him – never mind her own thoughts on the matter. Because the twins were cute, and she did adore them . . . only, she liked them much better when they weren’t screaming . . . or flinging their dinner everywhere . . . or splashing soapy water in her eyes. She didn’t feel like she was asking for too much.

    “I’d enjoy this more with less screaming,” Rex managed to uncannily parallel her own thoughts. “And I’d be a lot more at ease without having to wonder just how much that vase there you’re cleaning up there is worth. Jesse’s been going on about some traditional form of casting since reaching this system, and if that vase is what I think it is, then we’ve just broken a rare piece of Alderaanian heritage - ”

    “ - eh,” Ahsoka raised her hand to cut him off, much too tapped for his logic, “schematics, Rexter. It’s all schematics.”

    And, really, what more was there to say than that?

    But they were a good team, as always, and made quick work of cleaning the rest of the suite together. Then, they took a moment for themselves to reheat the meal Sabé had thoughtfully set aside for them – Ahsoka had so far studiously ignored the comm number she’d also left in case they needed back-up. The woman was a Force-send for Anakin and Padmé, and she deserved her night off; Ahsoka wouldn't bend on that point. Instead of eating in the kitchen like the civilized adults they were, they headed to the common room to watch a game of boloball on a real, honest to goodness holoscreen. The game wasn’t with anyone they usually rooted for – it was two middling Inner-Rim teams battling it out – but it was still a game, and they were free to laze about for a minute and watch. Seeing the sport in high vision like that, with the three dimensional figures nearly life-sized in the middle of the room, was infinitely better than watching what highlights they could on her datapad between campaigns. As much as she loved her role as general, and knew that she’d found her niche within the GAR, there was definitely something to be said about planetside comforts. This, in particular, was something she could get used to.

    She could almost forget about Leia’s continued sniffling, and the way Luke’s misery pressed into her Force-sense like a bruise, when she had a good meal, good entertainment, and her best friend sitting right there by her side. Even the soapy water sticking her clothes to her torso didn’t really matter; not then.

    As she finished her plate and put it down on the floor beside her – they’d opted against the couch in favor of stretching their legs, she glanced up at Rex’s profile. The sun was setting outside, and the large windows the Alderaanians favoured let in the toasty oranges and sultry deep reds of the twilight. His already tanned skin seemed even darker than usual then, and the faint fuzz of his pale blonde hair seemed almost white as it caught the light. The glowing reflection from the holoscreen flickered in his eyes, and she stared.

    “So, really,” Ahsoka felt compelled to try again, picking up their conversation from earlier and trusting him to follow along. He knew her well enough for that. “You’re not enjoying this, not even a little bit? This is so . . .” she waved a hand in an absent gesture, searching for the right word.

    “ - normal?” Rex finished for her. "Domestic?"

    “Yeah,” she agreed softly. “Both.”

    Rex looked down at his hands, as if unsure of what to say. Even here, in as relaxed a civilian setting as any, the broad line of his shoulders was stiffly set. He was poised for action, even during a clear time of peace. “I don’t know . . . that part’s not so bad.”

    Slowly, a smile tugged on her mouth. “I don’t think I mind it much either.”

    Following their agreement, they sat in companionable silence. Yet, Ahsoka still felt restless. Her thoughts were swimming, and her senses were strangely roused, sharpened past awareness for acute sensitivity. Her brow markings furrowed, while her lekku felt heavy over her shoulders as she tensed.

    “Have you ever thought about what’s going to come next after the war?” finally, she couldn’t keep herself from asking. “You know what Padmé and the others are trying to do. If they . . .” if you’re released, if you’re free, she thought, but still couldn't quite manage to say aloud – as if by giving such a future a voice she would somehow ruin the dream of it entirely. “ . . . well, if it works,” she finished awkwardly, “have you thought about what you’d like to do next with your life?”

    “I don’t know,” after a pause, Rex answered simply. “Have you?” he turned his attention back towards her. His stare, then, was fixed. Every hunting instinct she had within her seemed to thrum with intention and purpose in answer, but uselessly so; she bit her lip.

    “I had well over a year away to think about what I want . . . so, yeah. I saw a lot; I experienced a lot, both good and bad. It was enough to make me admit that living by the tenants of the Order would've never been fulfilling, even if I did accept the Council's invitation back again." That wasn’t quite an answer, but, at the same time it was. “You – I know you’ve seen so much of the galaxy since deploying from Kamino, too, just like me. Have you ever wanted any of it for yourself?”

    Ahsoka didn’t know if she should admit that she wanted to stay – to stay and keep her place with the new shape of the GAR as the Republic reformed itself however she could. If she did, would he simply fall in step behind her? She didn’t want Rex to follow along for merely the sake of doing so, just as she didn’t quite understand why she was so certain that he’d want to stay at her side in the first place. She didn't have to ask; it was something she instinctively knew, somehow.

    Rex shrugged. “Honestly, I never thought I’d live to a point where my wants would matter much.”

    Liar, she wanted to flash her teeth at him. That still wasn’t an answer, even more so than hers had been. And . . . then and there, she found, she really wanted an answer.

    The pause between them lengthened, pregnant with expectation as she did her best to figure out how to put exactly what she wanted to say into words. That by itself was a bizarre feeling: this was Rex, after all – they’d been through so much together, and she could talk to him about anything and everything. She had, at that, from being a child thrust into the heart of a war to lead men to their deaths, looking for a friend to confide in, to leaning on him as her support during her year away, to now, when they were equals in every sense but for the one oft-ignored fact that she was free and he was not. Her hands fidgeted in her lap, reflexively curling into fists and then uncurling. She was suddenly very aware that there was only the thinnest of spaces left between their shoulders. Her thoughts were swirling, and she felt such a strong impetus thrumming through her veins – but for what, she didn’t quite understand. Instead, she only knew -

    - but, just then, the muffled sounds of Leia’s cries seemed to gain a new intensity as she screamed in rage, loud enough to draw both of their attention again. The little girl wasn’t just miserable and upset; now, she was angry. Alarmed, Ahsoka only felt a moment’s warning flicker through the Force before -

    Everything went dark.

    The game disappeared before them just as the lights winked off, revealing where the sun had all but completely set beyond them. Along with the dark came the quiet; she hadn’t realized just how loud all of the appliances in the suite were, humming in the background, before they were all suddenly silenced at once. The power had been cut, Ahsoka’s eyes widened to boggle. And, it wasn’t just cut, she suspected. Rather -

    “You don’t have to tell me I’m right,” Rex’s voice held a dark, resigned sort of humor, “but I think the little ‘un just shorted out the generator, didn't she?”

    “Yeah,” Ahsoka signed, slumping forward to rest her crest against her folded arms in an exhausted gesture. “Yeah . . . I think she did.”

    But she only allowed herself to give into her sense of defeat for a selfish, stolen moment. A heartbeat later, she found her feet again in the near-dark, determined to march on. Her answers would have to wait, she felt a faint note of frustration to admit. For the time being they had yet another Skywalker mess on their hands to clean up. Really, she acknowledged wryly, they were becoming experts in that regard.



    .

    .

    Following dinner, they walked down to Elebrean Park, which was a beautifully situated reserve built on one of the tributary ‘rivers’ that cut through the island of Alderaa from its cradling mountain lake. Tall, blue-green needled conifers stood as regal sentinels over the water, as fit their high alpine surroundings. Fountains and man-made beds of local and exotic specimens of flowers decorated the paths, winding gently in keeping with nature’s demand as much as the cultivators’ design. As the hushed light of twilight gave way to the night, cleverly hidden lights in the trees and trellises twinkled, giving the park a mystical, almost magical quality. The setting was beautiful, just as so much of Alderaan was.

    That night, they were far from the only couple out enjoying a stroll in the park; the pathways were crowded with equally appreciative sentients of all sorts. There was a show drawing a crowd, as well – a troupe of Alderaanian water-singers, who manipulated jets and fountains of water in time to a small band of flutes and a stringed instruments. The ensemble was as unique as it was beautiful, and Anakin thought that Padmé would appreciate this show more than anything he could have bought tickets to in an actual theater. Sure enough, Padmé’s eyes were alight with a Nabooian's amazement and appreciation for the blending of art with the natural elements, and she beamed to smile and clap her hands at the end of every song.

    Anakin, for his part, enjoyed watching his wife as much as he enjoyed the show itself. Then, in all honestly, he had a hard time concentrating as the twilight slowly fell. As the sunlight faded, he thought to glimpse another depression in the Force – one and then another as the show went on. Around him, the closely pressed crowd seemed to flicker before his eyes like the tongues of a flame, one minute there before winking out and flaring into life again. The shadows were seemingly playing tricks with his eyes – there, a mother disappeared from where she was minding her daughter before reappearing again, while there, a couple of two blotted out from his senses before returning again, as if nothing was amiss. Then, when even the performers on stage disappeared, for a long, agonizing moment Anakin could only feel what seemed to be a death reverberating against his senses; he was lost to the bombardment. The Force was mourning, he understood, but for all the worlds he couldn’t figure out why; he couldn’t decipher what it was trying to say, and as his comprehension balked the Force only grew more insistent to part its veils and demand his understanding.

    “Anakin, do you need to go?”

    When he blinked, forcing himself back to the present, it was to see Padmé staring at him with a solemn expression. Concern was apparent in her eyes, and her mouth was tucked in at the corners. She did not hold his hand merely for the sake of doing so, not then. Instead, her fingers were strong as they squeezed, grounding him.

    “No, I’m fine,” Anakin still tried to shake his head and assure her. “The show -”

    But Padmé would hear nothing of it. “The show is beautiful, yes,” she interrupted. “I’m glad we were able to see what we could.” But her mind was made up; there would be no swaying her. Instead, she took his choice from him when she firmly tugged on his hand to lead him through the crowd. On their way, she managed to pass close enough to the stage to leave a more than sizable credit chip in the basket of offerings – the equal as if they’d paid for tickets in any more formal a venue – and then they walked down one of the more secluded paths in the park to find some semblance of peace and privacy, away from the noise.

    “Alright,” she allowed him only a moment in the relative quiet to collect himself, “what’s going on?”

    They’d come to a curve in the bend, where the gardeners hadn’t even tried to compete with the view of the mountains over the water; they could even see the beginnings of the lake from here. Anakin walked off-path enough to kneel down on the edge of the gently babbling river, trying to calm himself. He breathed in deeply, just like Master Lak had taught him to separate the here and now from the then and there. Padmé, understanding, followed to sank down to her knees next to him. She rubbed a gentle hand over her shoulders as the silence grew to linger, patiently waiting for him to find his words in answer; she didn't press him again. As always, she was a bulwark that he grounded himself on; her presence helped orient him, more than she’d ever know.

    Yet, on the opposite bank, he looked up to see a small collection of individuals, all waist deep in the water. They were lighting candles, it took him a moment to understand, and placing them down on duraglass saucers in the river to float away on the currents. He stared at the little candles, distantly recognizing the spectacle as an Alderaanian mourning ritual. They had one day a year, even, where the entire populace would light candles in remembrance of their loved ones. Here, though, was a more private goodbye. A death must have just occurred.

    Anakin shivered, although the late spring's night was pleasantly warm in a promise of summer. He stared at the little flames, watching them flicker and pulse like the beating of a dozen tiny hearts. Only, the longer he stared, the more the flames appeared to grow and then everything around him was seemingly catching fire. An impossibly bright, unnaturally white light overtook his vision, blazing with more intensity than he’d ever seen outside of a star, and then -

    - then, the Force collapsed back in on itself, and he felt it send out a shock-wave as if it was screaming without a voice. Something awful would occur here, he knew – or had it already? – and he felt sick down to his very core as a result. Especially when -

    “ - Anakin?”

    But he couldn't focus on Padmé’s voice long enough to come back to himself; not this time, not when the Force was demanding that he look. Instead he was consigned to obedience, and he opened his immaterial eyes to see -

    - a familiar vision in its awful simplicity: of Padmé, garbed in night-blue and arranged with white ever-flowers in her hair, being led to her rest. A familiar japor pendant was held in her lifeless hands, forever there to stay. It didn’t matter that she was here and now before him, his senses reeled for the image, regardless. But, that future had not come to pass, he tried to assure himself. They’d stopped that awful time from occurring, together.

    - then, a figure than haunted his nightmares appeared: a creature who was more machine than man, who was both robed in black as much as he was the darkness, breathing in a gross facsimile of life. He was on the bridge of some ship, it seemed, with a woman in white standing, shocked and struck dumb with grief and outrage before him. Her pain pressed against him like a fist squeezing around his heart, while just outside the viewport of . . . wherever it was they were, a strange graveyard of glittering icy-hot stones littered the space where, once, he thought to know, a planet had stood. How the Force mourned as she mourned, and he -

    - finally, he saw a river, not quite unlike this one, where hundreds of people were gathered to pay their respects in the water. They grieved, not only for their loved ones, but for their home, he instinctively understood. Anakin looked, and saw that same woman in white, leaning down to light a candle before gently setting it free. Two men stood by her side, one with his hand on her shoulder and one just off to her right. We remember Bail Organa, he heard her whisper as she let a candle go. Breha Organa was next, over and over again through too many Alderaanian names to mention. She did not, Anakin suspected, have candles enough for them all. Until -

    You don’t have to say them this year, not if you don’t want to. The man with his hand on her shoulder comforted. The second man, Anakin felt, only looked sad to watch the couple. You can take all the time you need, Princess.

    No, the woman in white whispered. I can do it. This is something I have to do, Han; for me.

    Then, bravely she gave the candle a name: We remember Padmé Amidala. Her hands trembled to add a second; she had to try twice to light the wick. Anakin Skywalker . . . Father, she was slow to let the candle float away. In her voice, there was more pain than he felt he could possibly begin to understand for the glimpses he could manage. I remember you.

    When she looked up, the last thing Anakin was struck with was a heartrendingly familiar pair of large, luminous brown eyes, staring straight at him. Her expression turned pale with shock, and for a moment he could have sworn she too saw as he saw -

    - and then, of course then, when he wanted to see what the vision would reveal next, the Force released him, and allowed him to return back to his present. He snapped back to himself with all of the force of a star swinging a planet into orbit with its gravity, and reeled as he opened his corporeal eyes again.

    “Anakin, Anakin?!” Padmé was kneeling directly in front of him when he blinked to awareness. She had his face cupped in her hands, desperately trying to rouse him. “Are you with me?”

    “Yeah,” his voice was groggy, and he ached down to his bones to be returned to his body of flesh again. He limbs felt stiff and ungainly with the aftereffects of his vision, so much so that he didn’t know how he’d be able to hold himself upright if not for his wife. “I’m here, love,” he bowed his head to lean his brow against her own as much as out of appreciation and affection as he didn’t quite trust his own strength. “I’m here.”

    There were tears in Padmé's eyes, he saw; he’d really scared her that time. He felt a pang, hating that he’d ruined their night out – hating that he’d ruined yet another night. He was tired of causing her fear and pain, truly he was.

    “I’m here,” it was difficult, moving his arms enough so that he could properly embrace her, but he managed in order to better assure her. “I’m back,” was the only comfort he could give as he recovered.

    A minute passed as they simply held each other, there on the river as the stars twinkled into view. Eventually, he felt her shuddering subside, just as his own sense of the Force calmed and his body regained its equilibrium. Finally, he felt strong enough to pull back from her, just slightly.

    “You had a vision, didn't you?” Padmé exhaled to say, when she felt he was ready. “Would you like to talk about it?”

    No; never.

    . . . and yet, he knew with no small amount of resignation, that that wasn’t how a marriage – how any healthy relationship worked. He could already hear Master Lak chiding him in his mind, and he resigned himself to calling the healer come morning. He should have already done so earlier that day – as soon as the impressions first started.

    But, no sense crying over spilt blue-milk, he acknowledged; he could only change the way he went forward.

    Even so, no matter his determination to do so, it was difficult to put so many tangible impressions into words. He struggled to give his visions a voice, and stumbled to say: “I think that something terrible happened to Alderaan – or is going to happen, in that . . . that Other time. And, I think . . . no, I know that I have something to do with it.”

    His arms tightened around her, needing her support as much as he still feared her reaction on a deep, instinctive level. Sometimes, he worried that what they had now wasn’t enough to make up for all they'd lost then. How could he expect her to reconcile those two parts of himself, when doing so was a task he himself struggled with day in and day out? Sometimes, he hated how much loving him placed on her shoulders. He hated that he was a burden in her life, who only weighed her down and had already cost her so much, perhaps too much -

    “ - whatever you may think yourself capable of, you’re not him,” somehow, Padmé spoke as if interrupting his thoughts. “I’m here, Anakin, and I’m staying.”

    It was the assurance he needed most . . . but he felt selfish in accepting her consolation. “It still scares me,” he whispered into her hair, “the things the Force shows me.”

    “I know . . . I know," comfortingly, she ran her fingers up and down his back. "But, we’ll deal with your visions as they come, Anakin, and we'll do it together.” For Padmé, it was just that simple. Sometimes, he envied her strength. “You’re feeling an echo of some alternate future,” she continued, clearly not satisfied that he was comforted, “even Master Lak said so, remember? Please, instead try to see everything – and everyone – you’ve saved from that possible time by your actions. Alderaan is more than okay – look around you, this world is thriving. Our galaxy is currently poised on the brink of peace as it hasn’t been since the founding of the Republic. You can only control your destiny from here on out; you can’t worry about the choices he made. You’ll only drive yourself mad, putting so much on your shoulders.”

    At first, he was only silent in answer. What could he say possibly say in reply to such faith, to such assurance? He felt his eyes burn, and he sucked in a deep breath. “Has anyone ever told you that you have a way with words?” he tried to summon what small bit of humor he could. He was done with grief, he decided; he was ready to return their evening back to more pleasant things, then, to them.

    “It may have been mentioned, a time or two,” when she pulled far enough away to meet his gaze, her eyes were bright with a recovered mirth.

    He couldn’t help but breath out deeply, feeling as his equilibrium tried to right itself again. “Thank-you,” he said simply – two small words, that carried so much more. To try and better express himself he kissed her, trying to say without sound just how vital she – and their family – were to his peace and balance. He didn’t know where he’d be without her and the children.

    When he pulled back, he simply breathed her in for a moment. “And I’m sorry for ruining our night out,” he whispered next. “I didn’t . . . that wasn’t part of the plan.”

    “No, you didn’t ruin anything – never that,” Padmé kissed him again as if to hush him. “This has been a wonderful date. I thank you for telling me what you saw. I know that was difficult.”

    Beyond difficult, he thought, remembering his Other again. And, yet . . .

    “But,” he said, a smile slowly growing to add, “I think I saw our daughter, all grown up. Luke too.”

    Padmé’s mouth fell open, just slightly. He felt as if she was suddenly holding back a dozen questions, all bubbling to the fore at once. “Really, Leia?” she said instead, her eyes awed.

    “Yeah,” Anakin confirmed, a matching such feeling rising in his own heart. He didn’t mention that it was the Alderaanian ceremony of Remembrances he glimpsed, or that it was her parents whom she was lighting candles for – not then, that would be for later. Instead, he chose to focus on the better things. “And there was a man with her,” Anakin’s nose crinkled to confess. “Her man.”

    For that, understanding the distaste in his voice for what it was, Padmé gave a twinkling laugh. The sound soothed over the still rough lines in his spirit, and he couldn’t help but grin to match. “Yes, Anakin,” her tone chided. “That’s the natural order of things, you know.”

    “Yeah,” he scowled, “but not for years yet. Why the Force would choose to assault me with that now, I have no idea.” Maybe, he reflected with no small bit of dark humor, that was his true penance for the actions of his Other.

    But any further comment on that line of thought was interrupted when his comlink went off. Puzzled, Anakin narrowed his eyes. He'd set it so that only emergency calls went through, and if someone was trying to contact him -

    - swiftly, he answered. “This is Skywalker,” he wasted no time with preamble.

    “Mr. Skywalker,” to his surprise, a cultured Alderaanian voice greeted him over the line. “This is the building manager at the Antilles Plaza Hotel – we are calling all of our guests to assure them that the matter of the generators is being investigated. We hope to have the power up and running again within the hour, and wish to apologize for the inconvenience.”

    Anakin tilted his head, for a moment flummoxed. What, his brow furrowed to wonder, exactly had happened since they left? They hadn't even been gone for three hours yet, but it already seemed -

    “ - thank-you,” he cut his thoughts short to answer. “I appreciate the call.”

    His first thoughts were admittedly dark as the manager went on for a little while longer before wishing him a good evening – imagining assassins and kidnappers and all sorts of vile fiends with chips on their shoulder who may have thought to use their children as pawns. Cutting power to the building would a logical first step in any such plan. Those thoughts sparked off a wild panic that even the knowledge of Rex and Ahsoka keeping watch couldn’t immediately negate.

    Wasting no time, he flared his senses across the distance, feeling for his children. They were upset, he was not surprised to find – they'd been fussy all night. He’d dimmed his connection to the twins early on, knowing that they’d calm down eventually. But Leia, it seemed, most certainly had not calmed down – not in the slightest. And of course, Anakin could have smacked himself – all of the turmoil he’d been feeling that evening, somehow it was irrevocably linked to Alderaan and her in the Force. He should’ve known that she’d feel a backlash of his visions; they were a symbiont circle together, as father and daughter. She hadn't been spared, from glimpsing his pain, and in the only way she could she was expressing herself.

    Then, he winced: poor Rex and Ahsoka. There was nothing quite like a Force sensitive toddler who was . . . upset, to put it mildly.

    Yet, at the same time, he felt nothing but relief. Good, that was all there was to fear then. Just the normal, every day trials and hurdles of raising prodigiously gifted Force sensitive children. That was nothing outside of their own brand of ordinary.

    “So . . .” he turned to Padmé, who was looking at him with a concerned expression. “You know those Force spikes the twins have been having?”

    “Yes,” she drew the word out slowly. “What of them?”

    “I think that Leia just knocked out the hotel’s power grid.”

    “What?!” Padmé’s eyes flew wide, and she gaped. “They can do that?”

    “Hey, this is all new for me too,” Anakin put his hands up helplessly to shrug. “They’re Skywalkers – anything’s possible.”

    “I’ll say,” Padmé shook her head, clearly still trying to wrap her mind around the knowledge of how much untapped power her children possessed. Even after everything they’d been through together, there were still surprises left to be found. The idea cheered Anakin.

    Well, slightly, anyway. Their date night was being cut even shorter than he’d initially anticipated, and while it wasn’t a bad night, per se, he still wished that they could've -

    “ - Anakin,” Padmé threaded her fingers through his own to hold his hand as they stood and returned to the pathway. Unerringly, she read his thoughts again, “this was still a wonderful night out. Thank you.”

    “Wonderful enough to consider a repeat?” Anakin regrouped, flashing her a playful expression.

    “I don’t know – but I could be convinced,” Padmé tilted her nose up to tease, her brown eyes glittering. “Let’s see how the rest of the night goes.”

    And then, together, they turned back towards the heart of the city to see what damage their children had wrecked in their absence.






    End Notes: Whew! That covered more emotional ground than I first thought to with a silly date night story. :p 8-} Also, for those who may not know: the Alderaanian Day of Remembrances is a fanon ceremony I created for my story "we'll take a cup of kindness yet", which was also for one of the OTP thread's challenges, way back when. [face_love] The exact verbiage of adding 'we remember ____' to the names within the ritual was @divapilot's lovely contribution in her own story, "The General's Wife", which I adored. You have to love our community for creating truly transformative works, don't you? [face_batting] [face_love]

    Alrighty, there's just a brief conclusion left to tie everything together, and that'll be up in a few days. Thanks for reading, everyone! :) [:D]


    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
  6. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Gorgeous details of the dinner and stroll in the park =D= even though the fade-ins and outs are totally disconcerting, especially when we realize why! :eek: Fascinating and very realistic cause of the twins' discomfiture and the generator blow-out. :p

    I definitely enjoyed the (albeit abortive) talk between Rex and Ahsoka ;)

    The A/P feels are delightful in this: the tenderness and honesty. [face_love] =D=
     
    Mira_Jade and Findswoman like this.
  7. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Hooray, more from the Song!verse! [face_dancing] So wonderful to see your amazing AU back in action. The scenario you’ve set up is so sweet and fun, and hey, I can't argue with two OTPs for the price of one! :D As always, your characterization is so spot-on that I can just hear each character's voice. It's so cutely in character to see Anakin all awkward and tied up in knots about the prospect of a REAL, ACTUAL DATE with his wife, but gosh knows they both more than deserve it, after everything. And I see Ahsoka and Rex are about to embark on a mission unlike any of their previous, even if it’s just for that evening. Their banter is particularly adorable, and it’s fun to see Ahsoka’s lighter, more humorous side showing itself here, and to see her and Rex just kicking back together with each other in both chapters. [face_love]

    And then... things start to HAPPEN! :eek: Those warning colors in the twins’ Force auras are a definite red (well, orange) flag; I just love the way those are described, and it's certainly a very lucky thing that they have a babysitter who can sense such things, though I see even Ahsoka's Jedi reflexes aren't able to hold back the, er, resulting property damage! :eek: Somehow it’s no surprise to see that Leia is the one particularly keeping them on their toes this eventful evening—she is truly quite the alor’ika even now.

    As a foil to the incipient babysitting chaos, we then have the description of Anakin and Padmé's beautiful, serene evening out: wonderful, gorgeous details there, from Padmé's dress (sounds like a close relative of the meadow picnic dress!) to the restaurant interior with its paper lanterns and scrumptious food, the remembrance ritual :)rose: for transformative works and intertextuality!), the park, the performers, even to Ani's new clothes (and hey, an OC alien seamstress! You had me there, for sure! :D ). Though Anakin's visions of that ominous other time—we know the one—are cropping up again, casting a shadow on the evening, and this time they're taking on a disturbing new form as he sees all those Alderaanians disappearing into thin air! :eek: All through the chapter, I was wondering if Ani's visions might also be connected to Leia's outburst, especially given how strongly she features in them. (Along with "her man"—something you'll have to get used to down the line, Papa Skywalker, and it was sweet to see that little bit of humor thrown into the situation.) And indeed Leia is at the center of all of it, both the power outage and her dad's visions:

    Yep, pretty much spot on. :cool: Leia is sensing that other time, too, in her own toddlerish way, and that fact in turn gives Anakin's visions a much more personal dimension that they hadn't yet had in previous Song stories. And I bet we haven't seen the end of it, either on Leia's end or her dad's! So, as always, do keep it coming—really looking forward to seeing how this will all work out, and many, many thanks for contributing this compelling story to the challenge. =D=
     
  8. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Thank you! :D It was kind of a balancing act to manage the moods and the causes and the effects, so to speak, without going over the top or disrupting the flow, so I am all too happy to know that you enjoyed. [face_love]

    [face_mischief] [face_love] Yep, that scene was all sorts of self-indulgent, I can wholly admit! They're on the right path, it's just going to take a bit to get them there.

    Thank-you! That's really what I love about writing Anakin and Padmé in this 'verse - the love was always there, but the honesty . . . eh, not so much. Here and now their relationship is so much stronger and more mature and I love writing this entire Skyfamily to pieces. As always, I am so happy to have you along and enjoying the ride, my friend! [face_love] [:D]


    Aw, thank-you! I have so much built up in my head for this 'verse, but there just aren't enough words in the day. So it was wonderful to use the OTP challenge as a chance to get a few more ideas down on screen. [face_love]

    The Anakin and Padmé we got on screen during the PT was all sorts of Doomed Romance with teh drama (I honestly enjoyed their interactions more in TCW), but Anakin is already such a canon dork when it comes to romance that I can only imagine them going forward with a healthy, mature relationship in place. It was wonderful to give our heroes this moment in between saving the galaxy from one crisis after another. [face_love]

    Aw, thanks! I just love the relationship between these two in any form, and it was such a joy to include that bit here. Honestly, that was a bit of self-indulgence for me as an author, and I enjoyed writing every word. [face_whistling] [face_love]

    Thank you! :D I was trying so hard to tread that fine line between this poor baby girl being upset and with good reason, and the way 'babysitting-night-gon-rong' can be an easily overdone trope all of its own. The Force, and Anakin's visions and how those same visions are acting on Luke and Leia - especially Leia here - was too much of an interesting idea to pass by, so I ran with it.

    Thank-you! It's been ages since I wrote a good Date Night, and those details were so much fun to dream up and include. And, Ukla! She had one line in "An Old Song, Re-Sung" way back when, but as I go on in this 'verse we definitely may need to meet her properly. I do believe that she'd be a kindred spirit for your dear Lua. [face_love]

    Oh, fantastic deductions while reading! I'm glad to hear it. :D

    One of the ideas that I kinda hinted at in "An Old Song, Re-Sung", but I don't think I exactly said outright, was that the destruction of Alderaan was the initial explosion of power in the Force needed to tear open a window into this other time in place for Vader to see this past, possible version of himself, and vice versa. [face_thinking] It's definitely an idea to maybe explore more in the future, but, in the meantime, that fixed point in the Other time is definitely something that would trouble Anakin now, and dear little Leia too. :(

    [face_laugh] Speaking of things to better explore further in this 'verse - Han Solo vs. Papa Skywalker is definitely one of them. :p [face_mischief]

    Aw! I thank you so much for your kind words, and taking the time to leave your thoughts! I also have to thank you so much for hosting the challenge in the first place - it's been a joy to participate in, and my muse has clearly found quite the inspiration, which I am only too happy for. :p [face_love] [:D]


    Already, the last bit will be up in just a few! Thank-you so much for reading, everyone, and a double thank you for the kind readers who actually voted for this story as well. It was a true honor to share the win amongst so many fantastic entries. [face_love] [:D]


    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2019
  9. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    Author's Notes: Once again, a huge thanks to @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha for being a sounding board and source of encouragement for this one. [face_love] [:D]






    III.

    By then, it had been dark outside for some time. The wide panes of the windows let in swaths of blue-violet and inky black from the night beyond, cut through with distorted impressions of drowsy orange and gold from where the buildings nearest to them still had power. The stars were visible here, he was surprised to see, no matter their vantage point in the heart of the capitol. The Alderaanians ever built with a view of their natural surroundings, and Alderaa City had only benefited from that care and attention to detail. Yet, then brighter than the distant stars were the old-style candles they’d since lit to see by. When it became apparent that little Leia had done her work well, and the generators wouldn’t be back online anytime soon, the hotel manager had made quick work of passing out artificial forms of light to last them until the engineers finished with their repairs. It was a very Alderaanian answer to their conundrum, the candles, but Rex liked the way the individual lights flickered with their little tongues of flame and, together, kept the shadows at bay.

    At the very least, it was quiet now – blessedly so. They’d finally gotten the twins to settle, and Ahsoka had quickly followed behind them to find her own rest. She'd nodded off on the sofa next to him some time ago, with an equally sleepy Luke still cradled in her arms. Rex could well imagine that the screaming – and the ruckus Leia was apparently causing in the Force – had given her a migraine, no matter that she hadn't said so aloud. Before that, she was already tired to start. He wouldn’t nudge her for consciousness, not when she needed the rest. Instead, he resolutely stayed awake to keep vigil enough for them both, and stared unblinking into the dark.

    After that last, explosive surge of power, Leia too had finally calmed down – the stars be thanked for small mercies. The little girl was drowsy now – still not sleeping, not that – but she was content enough to be held while she played with the stuffed bantha toy Rex had found to distract her. She kept on glancing over the shaggy mane of the plush to regard him with thoughtful, deep brown eyes, and Rex stared right back. But she didn’t cry again, nor did she try to wriggle out of his grasp, so he must have passed whatever silent criteria she judged him by. He well knew the honor she favored him with; his alor'ika was picky, to put it mildly.

    The further that Leia quieted and allowed his attention to drift, he became increasingly aware of how Ahsoka had pressed up against him to use as a convenient pillow. He could feel her from shoulder to waist, a presence that was soft and comfortably solid rather than overly warm, in a sense. She didn’t give off body heat like a Human did; instead, he knew that she was seeking out his own warmth and happily making it her own – or so she'd mentioned before. Contrastingly, her skin was uniquely cool to the touch; sleek and supple and subtly textured in a way that he’d almost call amphibious but knew was not. Thanks to Kix's extensive briefing back when they were first assigned a non-human commander, Rex knew that her species breathed in oxygen through their skin to supplement their relatively smaller lungs. That feat of nature was more easily managed as her crest grew larger and her lekku lengthened as she matured. On Shili, it was relatively simple for juvenile Togruta to go about in nonrestrictive garments in the company and protection of their clan elders. Yet, that hadn't been so for Ahsoka. Instead, she'd spent her formative years racing about from one active battlefield to the next. Especially in the beginning, there'd been times when Rex could hardly contain his panic while trying to keep up with her acrobatics and watching her six. After a few close calls with close proximity blaster-burns, he’d seconded Kix’s grumbling to wish that she'd wear some karking clothes if not actual armor. Ahsoka had characteristically waved off their concerns with a roll of her eyes and a cheeky grin. Yet, here she was, seemingly against all odds, alive and whole, five years later.

    Since those early days they’d grown beyond merely learning how to operate alongside each other on the battlefield, he continued to reflect. By now he knew her skills, her strengths and weaknesses, just as well as he knew his own, and she knew his in return. There wasn’t anyone else he could imagine marching behind, and even privately agreed with the men who voiced their preference for Ahsoka’s leadership over General Skywalker’s more . . . unique style of command. Yet, beyond that . . .

    Well, he could grudgingly admit to being more than usually aware of the warmth of her breath through the thin material of his sleeve. He could feel each subtle shift and flex of her body in a way that went beyond his typical sensitivity to her presence. Her pinning him like this wasn’t even a new development, he tried to make sense of his growing predicament. From the beginning, Ahsoka hadn’t had anything resembling boundaries where personal space was concerned. She embraced her favourites amongst the men and touched their shoulders in greeting and clasped their forearms like they did with each other when they took stock of their ranks following every battle. You’re warm, Rexter, and comfy, had been her only explanation the first time she leaned against him like this, stuck planetside in the middle of some homologous siege on some Outer Rim world like every other. He hadn’t thought anything of it at the time. Then, it’d been second nature to wrap his arm around her shoulders and tuck her in against him while he kept watch enough for them both. That's just what they did for each other to stay sane and rested in the midst of a warzone. Those little moments could mean the difference between life and death in the end. Yet, lately, such simple contact between them wasn’t quite the same as it used to be. Something, between one blinking and the next, had changed.

    Rex had the vaguest idea of why and what that was, but his self-awareness only just furthered his discomfort. He hadn’t called Ahsoka kid in years, even before she left the Jedi Order – never mind that she was technically older than him, strictly speaking. He had just matured twice as fast thanks to his altered biology, and he would continue on at that rate to live a fraction of his natural lifespan unless General Ti somehow succeeded in reversing the tampering with their aging. Rex appreciated the lengths the Jedi were going to for them, really he did, but he was a pragmatist. He didn’t believe in, nor would he search out miracles. In a blinking of an eye, he knew that he’d look old and grey while Ahsoka was still a vibrant woman in the prime of her life. Longevity had never been a consideration in his design, and, eventually, he’d age faster than he already was as his warranty expired and his artificial construction began to fail. The Long-necks hadn't created their wares to survive the war; instead, he was purchased to fight and die in a brief blaze of service and sacrifice. He'd been at peace with that knowledge while working towards his deployment on Kamino – or so he’d thought without knowing any better. But, since venturing out into the galaxy . . . since discovering how much more there was to living beyond the scant parameters of his intended purpose, he wasn't quite so certain anymore. Even with his doubts, however, he’d since come to terms with his reality; he'd long ago decided to simply take what little he could from life until his time came on the battlefield. He thought he was content with that decision, and yet . . .

    . . . that sounded like a lie, now. That wasn’t the full truth; not anymore. Yet, if that wasn’t the truth . . . then, what was?

    Inexorably, his thoughts turned to Cut. His deserter brother was often on his mind, and all the more so as of late. Even after he accepted the reasons Cut had abandoned the GAR for the chance of a normal life, Rex knew that he wouldn’t be able to make a similar choice. His family was his company: General Skywalker and Ahsoka and Cody and Kix and Jesse and Fives and Echo and Tup and Hardcase and Coric. They were his aliit; he could never imagine leaving them behind, nor did he want to. Cut had made his choice, he'd thought at the time, but he too made his own choice to stay and serve something he believed in, day in and day out.

    Yet . . . Fives and Echo and Tup and Hardcase and Coric were all gone now, marching far away. They and so many of his fellow vod had fallen, to the point where Rex was oftentimes left breathless when he listed their names in his remembrances. They were gone, yet he continued to fight. He continue on, while Cut still had his wife and his children and his farm and his life to look forward to and enjoy without grief. There was a beautiful simplicity to his choice – a choice that almost every sentient in the galaxy had the ability to make for themselves before deciding to pick up arms in defense of their homes and loved ones.

    Maybe, even then, a part of him had seen how easily Cut had interacted with Suu . . . how Shaaeah and Jak called him father . . . had looked out over his small piece of land whose fruits he proudly harvested to call his own . . . and felt a pang of jealousy. Maybe he envied Cut, in a small way, at least.

    What do you want from life, Rex?

    Ahsoka’s words continued to ring in his head, echoing so many of his own ruminations as of late. No matter what the Secession Crisis had taken from him, he knew that he wanted to keep on fighting – that went without question. More than simply being Jango Fett’s voice speaking at the core of him, he’d since grown to identify himself through his service to the Republic and its citizens. That, he still took the utmost pride in, and that pride was the cornerstone of his being through his choice – not through his purchased commission or the Kaminoans’ design. Even if the senators managed to free him and his brothers, the GAR would still need soldiers, properly enlisted and compensated, just like every other army in the galaxy. The GAR would need ranking officers, veterans with experience and years of service under their belt, to lead the new ranks into the future. He could stay, and continue to be a part of building something greater than himself.

    Some of his brothers thought on similar lines – a great many did, actually. But, there were others who were impatient to lay down their arms; they already itched in their skin for the freedom to choose a different path for themselves. Kix, he knew, wanted so badly to go to medical school. He wanted to be a proper healer, and to do so he already had his choices narrowed down to here on Alderaan at Alderaa University, or Chandrilla’s Academy of Medicine. He spent all of his spare time studying to pass their entrance exams, since he technically had no formal education to recommend himself beyond his unorthodox flash training and experience with battlefield triage. In losing Kix, they’d lose Jesse too. Jesse wanted to leave the GAR to seriously pursue his art, that was no secret. He was heartsick of fighting, and he’d follow behind wherever Kix wanted to go – they were a fixed unit, with each of them being from two batches who'd been born only minutes apart. They’d grown and trained together for years, and were all that had survived of their immediate brothers; they knew the other's list of marching names as well as their own.

    Rex . . . he’d never had that unit like Kix and Jesse did – or like Fives and Echo had. Krown and he had been the only two to survive their mutated batch at birth, and then Krown . . .

    . . . well, there were penalties back on Kamino for standing out as different, for questioning why things were the way they were, and demanding better. The Long-necks had little tolerance for defective stock, never mind that they reconditioned more than they recycled outright with the Jedi watching over them now. If it wasn’t for Cody and then Jango Fett himself noticing and then vouching for him – fighting to include him, a mutated regular not even bred for command, in the training courses for the upper echelons – Rex didn’t know where he’d be. He certainly wouldn’t be here, welcomed by his commanding officers into a circle that was more intimate than just the bonds created by the GAR, that was for sure. And now, from here . . .

    What do you want from life, Rex?

    He wanted to stay, he knew, in whatever form that entailed. He wanted this, more of this, in any way he could. Yet, even the idea of what exactly more could mean was enough to leave him spinning in his bucket when he thought about it for too long.

    He’d never tell Ahsoka – and he’d carefully held his silence when the comm call from Anakin first came through – but the idea of children still quietly terrified him. They were just so different from anything he’d ever known. When he was the twins’ age, he’d had the physical appearance of a near four year old with the language and motor skills of a seven year old. He was already able to deconstruct his deecee and put it back together again with a speed that most natural-born adults would envy. He did not spoon his food onto the floor and splash about in frustration and scream for not getting his way. The very idea would have been outlandish to the extreme. Clone babies learned to stop crying early on; no one, they knew, was there to answer them.

    Yet, now . . .

    What do you want, Rex?

    He still didn’t have an answer for her, not really.

    Frustrated by his lack of clarity - if not more so by the answers he was dreading to admit, Rex exhaled out with a hesitant breath. But he gave in to his desire anyway, and shifted to make sure that Leia was securely held in the crook of his right arm before he shifted to slide his opposite arm around his sleeping companion. This had been much easier when she was younger, really, no matter how Ahsoka sighed against him in contentment and gave one of those little whistling noises that passed for her species’ version of a snore. Back then, her central lek had been too short to worry about disturbing with his touch, and he hadn’t had to consider the potentially dangerous logistics of how her montrals were leaning against him and at what angle. So much had changed, so quickly, in just a few short years. Even if he could admit that Ahsoka had grown into a striking young woman - anyone with eyes could admit as much, that didn’t explain how acknowledging her beauty caused his chest to constrict in an almost painful way. She was beyond beautiful, she was stunning, the same as an ocean wave or a guiding star was wondrous to look upon. Of course, in a like sense, she was something to appreciate from afar in an abstract, objective way . . . that went without saying.

    Obviously.

    Oh, you karking stupid barve, Cody had sighed at him a few campaigns back – the kind of sigh that he usually saved for when General Kenobi was being particularly . . . well, General Kenobi about things, you’ve gone and pulled a Bly, haven’t you? Look at you, you're all nerf-eyes just to be in the same room as your general. You're absolutely boots over bucket for the girl - Rex, are you mad?

    Cody's low, whispered accusations had blindsided him, and he'd only managed to gape dumbly at him in response before protesting loudly and vigorously. What even gave his ori’vod the right to make such an insulting comment as that? No, he most certainly had not gone boots over bucket; he was not making nerf-eyes at his general, nor would he ever. Bly, the ones who marched on protect him, thought that his Jedi hung every star in the night sky and then some – and whether or not General Secura even acknowledged or more preposterously returned that sentiment was a long standing betting pool that every vod from the 501st to the 104th had credits on the line for. Clearly, Cody had been left stewing in his pod for too long, and was only now exhibiting the mental deficiencies to show for it. Even if . . .

    . . . even if, well, he could admit somewhat uncomfortably now – thinking of Cut and Bly and what he was most definitely not admitting for himself, maybe Jango Fett had a type? It wasn’t a thought he wanted to consider any further, however, and so he didn’t.

    Besides, what did it matter? Even if he was being honest with himself and could admit that yes: he did find Ahsoka attractive as a woman, and yes: he knew that he loved her, with an admiration and affection that went beyond the bond developed between friends and comrades after years spent fighting a war together . . . even so, what did that mean? What did that mean for him, and, more importantly, what did that mean for her? He was, quite literally, nothing more than an organic toy soldier: a weapon commissioned, purchased, and then mass-produced to fight and die without remembrance or mourning. His very life was assumed forfeit so that the natural-born citizens of the Republic could live while he battled for freedom in their place. Now, even if he did live beyond the official end of the war, he had nothing to give Ahsoka even if she did want something more from him. He had nothing besides his martial skills and their shared history together. He had no past, and, as of yet, no future. He didn’t even have a name to share besides the one Krown had picked for him, stupidly chosen for his mutated hair color, of all things.

    At this point, he didn’t even have himself to give. He was still property of the Republic, that knowledge refused to leave the forefront of his mind. Even if Ahsoka didn’t see him as the slave he truly was, and even if there was legislature in the works to free him and his brothers, and even if General Ti somehow managed to find a way to restore his natural aging so that he wouldn’t someday look old enough to be her grandfather when she was technically chronologically his senior . . .

    . . . well, Ahsoka deserved more than that. All of that. And Rex, if nothing else, lived to serve his Jedi. So, he would do his best for her, the same as he always did.

    His conclusion was the only one he could logically reach. It was as sensible as it was forgone, and yet, that didn’t explain the heavy feeling that seemed to settle over his shoulders as he tried to stand firm in his conviction. He fought the urge he had to frown, unsure why his heart wasn’t following behind his head in this, as it rightly should.

    What do you want, Rex? he heard Ahsoka ask again, even as he heard Cody sigh: you karking stupid barve.

    . . . yeah, that about summed it up, didn't it?

    All the while, as his thoughts chased themselves in circles, Leia continued to stare thoughtfully up at him as she played with her stuffed bantha.

    “Ba?” she babbled from where she had the plush squished up against her face – the closest she could come to saying ba’vodu, as Ahsoka had patiently been coaxing the twins to call them. For the childish concern, if that was it was, Rex couldn’t help but smile.

    “It’s okay, alor’ika,” he held her a bit tighter in answer. “You can go to sleep now. Everything’s okay.”

    It was a good feeling, the rush of warmth he felt as Leia gave a sigh to better tuck herself in against him. With the little girl so content, and Ahsoka and Luke curled up by his side . . . well, Rex didn’t really have a word to describe the emotion that filled his chest. Instead, he tried his best to shut his mind off and just enjoy what he could while it lasted.

    He wasn’t sure how long his thoughts drifted – Alderaan didn’t have a moon to keep watch by, and he couldn’t free his arm to glance at his chrono – but eventually he was aware of the way that Leia shifted to alertness and scrambled to sit upright on his lap. He helped propped her up as her entire face lit with an unmistakable joy, understanding why she all but turned buzzing with an eager anticipation.

    “Dada!” she chirped, just as the entrance to the suite opened and Anakin and Padmé returned. “Dada; Mama!”

    Leia needed say no more for Luke to drowsily blink to awareness, clearly roused by his sister’s excitement. But he merely made a face before his eyes drooped closed again. He was happy enough with Ahsoka holding him to be relatively apathetic to his parents' return; he wouldn't budge.

    Smart kid, Rex couldn’t help but agree.

    “Shh, alor’ika,” he tried to quiet Leia when Ahsoka didn't open her eyes to follow suit with the children. She must have been more exhausted than he first realized, and he didn’t want to disturb her. It didn’t take but a moment for Anakin to take stock of the situation, though, and he clearly agreed with Rex. Quick as a thought, he swept forward to take Leia before she could turn any more vocal in her welcome.

    “How’s my little princess?” even so, Anakin was able to enthuse his whisper with joy enough to set Leia to rights again. She was caught between sniffling and smiling as her father blew a noisy kiss into her cheek before simply pausing to breathe her in. Rex wasn’t sure what, exactly, was going on with the Force that night, but it was enough that Anakin held on tightly to his daughter; he didn’t seem inclined to let her go. For a long moment, there was something equally indescribable on Padmé's face as she watched Anakin and Leia together. She paused, giving them their moment, before moving forward to where Luke was still contentedly dozing with Ahsoka.

    “Thank-you for everything you did for us tonight,” she kept her voice just as soft. “I know they must have been . . . difficult, there for a while. We certainly weren’t expecting anything like this.”

    “It was nothing, ma’am,” he lifted his shoulders in what a shrug he could without disturbing Ahsoka. “Besides,” he couldn’t help but add, “we’ve learned to take things in stride, where Skywalkers are concerned.”

    “Haven’t we all?” Padmé wryly agreed with him. Even though Anakin sniffed for their words, he knew when he was outnumbered. Instead of objecting, he rolled his eyes from over Leia’s mass of curls and made a face at them both.

    Padmé only shook her head, an entire conversation passing without words as she locked eyes with her husband, before she turned to glance at him again. Her gaze then shifted to rest on Ahsoka. “There’s an extra room in the suite we’re not using if you want to sleep here tonight," she offered. "I’m sure that the battalion will survive without you until the morning.”

    Almost three years later, he still had to swallow making a quip about Fives – but it was hard for his grief to flare when he looked down at Ahsoka instead. He didn’t want to make a decision for her, and yet -

    “ - you’re staying here tonight,” Anakin interjected with a look. “Former general’s orders.”

    “Sir yes sir,” Rex replied, more in humor than from rote, and Anakin chuckled.

    “Don’t you forget it,” he exaggeratedly squared his shoulders. “Besides,” he added, “you have to take advantage of any time you can sleep away from the Resolute’s berths.” He shuddered, and made a face. “We can get breakfast in the morning before you head back out; eat some real food, drink some real caf.”

    “You won’t hear any complaint from me on that front,” Rex agreed. Sometimes, sleeping on the ground and looking up at the stars while on campaign was better than their very . . . practical housing shipside. The GAR’s idea of caf certainly left much to be desired, as well. And, his last thought sealed it for him, Ahsoka both needed and deserved a good night’s sleep; so, he would see that she rested.

    With that settled, Padmé leaned down to take Luke from Ahsoka. The little boy sniffled at first, but easily returned to boneless contentment within his mother’s arms. Feeling the loss of Luke’s warmth, Ahsoka blearily opened her eyes for a semblance of awareness again. “Heya, Skyguy,” she yawned to greet. “Skylady,” her voice was just as warm to include. “How was date night?”

    “Well . . . it was an adventure, I suppose you could say,” Anakin hooked his mouth to admit. "I know you're surprised."

    “Yeah, this is my shocked face,” Ahsoka snorted. “But, isn’t it always? You’re both Skywalkers, after all.”

    For her words, Rex fought a grin as Padmé gave a laugh outright. “That's what we said,” she arched a brow at her husband to tease.

    Anakin shook his head, but his glare held no bite. “Traitors,” he growled in mock offense, “all of you.”

    “But, that said, General,” Rex nudged her, not wanting her to nod back off again, “we’re staying here tonight.”

    “Sounds good, Rexter,” Ahsoka agreed. Still, no matter his prodding, she made no move to rise - and with her pinning him as she was, he couldn't move to force the issue without disturbing her. Instead, Rex felt a heated flush touch his cheeks as she nestled back against him with a contented little trill. Padmé, he felt, was watching them all too closely, with a thoughtful expression lightening her eyes. Anakin, however, was used to his former apprentice being a clingy Felucian vine-sloth, and didn’t think anything of their position on the couch together.

    “Kix will make sure no one sinks the ship while we’re gone,” Ahsoka was slow to voice her thoughts, but of like-mind with him to mutter. “I’m all for a real cup of caf in the morning, too.”

    “Well, you've gotta move off the couch first, sir,” Rex tried to nudge her again. “C’mon, let’s go.”

    Ahsoka very maturely made a noise of protest in the back of her throat in reply. But, she still didn’t seem inclined to budge. Rex rolled his eyes, resigned, and then finally stood and swept her up with him in one smooth motion. If his general didn't want to move, then he'd move for her.

    “I can walk, Rex, you don’t have to be so dramatic,” Ahsoka was only half-hearted to complain. Belaying her protests, she wrapped her arms around his neck and contentedly closed her eyes again. "I wasn't sleeping - I was just resting my eyes."

    “Yes, sir,” Rex replied neutrally, checking the smile that threatened to bloom. Stars help him, but he did not think that she was cute, in any sense - that was a word he saved for his alor'ika and her alone. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

    Padmé raised a hand to hold over her mouth, her eyes glittering in undisguised amusement. Anakin merely huffed. “I would have made you walk, Snips,” he gave a lazy wink. "But then, she's always had you wrapped around her fingers, hasn't she, Rex?"

    Rex was a grown man and a veteran soldier of war and a genetic copy of one of the fiercest Mandalorian warriors to ever plague the known galaxy: he was not going to blush . . . especially when the whole matter of him having nerf-eyes or not was apparently still under debate. Padmé, he noticed, continued to watch him closely.

    "Goodnight, Ahsoka," she pointedly nudged her husband away before he could tease them further. "Goodnight, Rex."

    “'night, Skyfamily,” Ahsoka drowsily muttered in reply, so softly that Rex more felt her breath against his skin than heard her aloud, and then he turned to carry her to bed. Anakin and Padmé followed behind them, carrying the sleepy twins to the nursery to put them down for the night. It was a short walk, and they passed it talking quietly between themselves. Mostly, Rex tuned out of what they were saying, that was, until he heard Anakin say -

    “Hey, wait a second, wasn’t there a vase right here in the hall, or am I imagining things?”

    Rex may have turned through the threshold of the extra guestroom after that just slightly quicker than was necessary. He’d have Ahsoka awake to tackle that conversation in the morning, and not a moment sooner.

    Ahsoka didn’t give any sign that she even heard Anakin. Instead, she was all too happy to collapse into bed as soon as Rex put her down. There was a single candle already lit, and the little flame cast dancing patterns over the orange tones in her skin and turned the blue patterns of her chevrons even wispier as she stretched out against the coverlet. “Mhmm,” she muttered as she pulled the nest of pillows closer to her, “this is much better than the Resolute – we should upgrade everyone’s bedding to include Alderaanian down immediately.”

    “I’m sure the Senate's expense committee will agree to that, sir. I'll get the quartermaster right on it.” Rex snorted for the idea, but had to admit that it wasn’t a bad one.

    “Eh,” Ahsoka waved a hand dismissively, “we’ll just have to say please.”

    Because it should always be that easy, right? Fondly, Rex shook his head, glad that the galaxy hadn't jaded her yet. But, he let her have her happy reverie as he gestured for her to get as comfortable as possible before leaving her. He didn’t trust her not to go right to sleep otherwise. She worked with him half-heartedly to shuck her boots and unnecessary layers of clothing before he turned to blow out the candle, and only then did she prop herself up on her forearms, peering up intently at him instead.

    “You’re staying too,” she declared. He didn’t hear a question in her words.

    Ignoring her implied command pushed on something deep inside of him, but still he hesitated. “There’s the couch to take,” he said instead, gesturing back towards the door. In all honesty, the couch was still a hundred times better than his shipside berth, and by far from the worst place he’d caught a few hours of sleep during the war. “I’ll be more than comfortable there.”

    For that, she just stared at him as if he was loose in the bucket. Her brow markings furrowed as she shook her head. “You’re being stupid,” she declared without ceremony, “and I’m too tired to argue with you when you know I’m going to win anyway. We’ve slept next to each other on campaigns before, how is this any different?”

    It just . . . it just was, Rex wanted to huff in frustration. This wasn’t for necessity or safety – hardly. Instead, if he stayed the night with her, even if just to sleep next to her, it would be the same as if admitting that -

    . . . that he wanted to.

    His jaw squared as he grappled with his desires, with the conclusions he’d already reached and the boundaries he strictly intended to keep. He couldn’t immediately answer her. Ahsoka watched him closely all the while, staring intently up at his face as if searching. “If you feel uncomfortable,” she gentled her tone to amend, her lekku rippling in apology, “then I understand. You can sleep wherever you want to, Rex; I didn't mean to order you about. But, I just want to let you know that . . . well, you’re welcome here.”

    And wasn’t that a loaded statement if ever there was one? No matter how innocently she'd intended her words, the blue of her markings flushed a deep shade of midnight, and she bit her lip. For all the worlds, he felt like he was standing on the edge of a precipice and preparing to jump over without the means to break his fall. Her eyes were very large, and darker than their usual azure colour in the shadows. He felt something in his heart catch as she stared at him; it was an emotion that was then too big to name.

    What do you want, Rex? he heard, just as -

    I’m a karking stupid barve, he admitted, if only to himself, as he gave in and sat down on the edge of the bed. It was the opposite side, of course, and far enough away from her to still be considered socially acceptable. This was, he tried to tell himself, no different than her curling up next to him on the couch had been, or any of the dozens of times he’d slept beside her on too many planetside campaigns to mention, and yet -

    . . . yet, he knew it was.

    He felt a gentle push on his shoulder – the Force, he could by now more than recognize – urging him to lay down and get comfortable. “You’re thinking too loud, and it’s making my headache worse,” Ahsoka chided. “Just relax, and sleep.”

    He was stuck between retorting: easier said than done, in answer and admitting just how simple it actually would be to lay down and truly find his rest with her. It would be dangerously easy, even, to the point where this could quickly become something he'd look for in the future, and then crave.

    “C’mon,” she whispered, “I know you’re tired too. You have to be – it seems like this war is never-ending, sometimes. I don’t think we ever truly relax; not really.”

    And wasn't that was the honest to goodness truth of the matter? His uneasiness was keeping her awake, and that simply wouldn't do. Finally, Rex gave in, and let the tension drain from his body with a sigh. Still careful to keep his distance from her – which he already knew Ahsoka would destroy in the night, she always did – he sighed to release the tension from his body, and tried to just enjoy the warm softness of the bed without complicating things. This was just for the night, he tried to rationalize his decision; he’d be stronger to resist . . . whatever this was between them come the morning. He had to be.

    “Goodnight, Rex,” was Ahsoka’s last, drowsy mumble, at first barely audible to his ears. “Thanks for staying with me.”

    A heartbeat passed. Finally, he closed his eyes, determined to push his thoughts aside for the night. “Goodnight . . . Ahsoka,” he whispered, when he was almost certain she could no longer hear him, and let himself drift off to find his rest.



    FIN

    ~MJ @};-
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2019
    Kahara and Findswoman like this.
  10. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Wonderful introspections, tinged with uncertainty and affection that is undeniable.
    Rex has a true and solid grasp of the difference he wants to make, but still feels drawn to the "simpler" way of life. [face_thinking]
    Reflecting on the literal losses of friends and comrades realistically leads to ponderings of what is truly important.
    The Skyfamily is a lovely place to nurture the latter choice. ;)
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2019
    Kahara and Findswoman like this.
  11. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Aw, what an sweet, mushy ending this is. [face_love] First, we have some wonderful and very poignant introspection from Rex, pondering his relationships with his comrades, his aliit, and of course with Ahsoka, all with that central, recurring question: what does he really want? Was Cut onto something with his desertion (!) of the GAR for a more "normal" life? And one of Rex's answers is right there dozing at his side, dozing on his shoulder... :ahsoka: and sure, it's to do with her species' propensity to be "up close and personal" (because they're so used to crowded spaces) and the fact that they've slept near each other while out on the battlefield... but not just, methinks, not just. ;) Love the banter between the SkyCouple and Rexoka as the former arrives home. It says so much that both sides have such a sense of humor about all the power outage or the vase breakage or any of the wacky events of that evening; no one's mad or placing blame, it's all just part and parcel of what happens when SKYWALKERS are involved in almost anything. :D And Padmé and Ani clearly can sense something beginning to bloom between Rex and Ahsoka—especially Padmé, it seems, as she watches Rex's expressions so closely. (I bet he turned beet-red at least once during that conversation, the big old softie! :D )

    And while I love Ani and Padmé, of course, I think it's especially sweet that you gave the last word in this story to Rex and Ahsoka—no one deserves a nice, soft rest as much as they do, not just after the momentous evening they've just had babysitting the alor'ika (and even thebut also after all they've endured together on the battlefield. You've done such a great job with their relationship all through this story, with the mix of "snippy" snark with good-natured humor and sincere caring. They're at such a sweet, hard-to-classify stage in their relationship, poised between friendship and romance in an "are-they-aren't-they" kind of way—and they don't yet know the answer to that question, but we readers at least might have a guess! [face_love] So, sweet dreams to Rex and his cuddle-bunny of a general—once again, thank you so much both for contributing this lovely story to the challenge, and may I add my congratulations on your win in the voting! =D=
     
    Kahara and WarmNyota_SweetAyesha like this.