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  1. In Memory of LAJ_FETT: Please share your remembrances and condolences HERE

Saga Coming Home [TCW Ep 100 AU - Complete]

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Jade_Max, Jul 17, 2013.

  1. Jade_Max

    Jade_Max Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 28, 2002
    Disclaimer: Star Wars belongs to Disney and is the intellectual property of George Lucas; he created the sandbox. I'm making no money off of this and am simply destroying the sandcastles.​
    Title: Coming Home​
    Author: Jade_Max​
    Characters: Ahsoka Tano & Captain Gregor [Special appearances by Petro, Katooni, Byph, Ganodi, Zatt, and Gungi]​
    Genre: A little of everything​
    Era: The Clone Wars; Post Season 5, episode 100 AU​
    Summary: Gregor hadn't expect to wake from the explosion that decimated the space port as the droids and Colonel Gascon escaped. Waking, however, is the least of his surprises…​
    Author's note: Originally posted at ff.net; this is a repost from there to get me back on the boards *grin*​
    This idea originally comes from a one shot about a 'what if' that struck me unexpectedly one day and that one shot was included in the "Crack!ship First Impressions" vignettes I've written; it's been expanded on, and included, here. There is also a "Crack!ship first kisses" one shot that was inspired by a sequence in this very story which wanted to go on a tangent that didn't belong ;)
    Here's the short story of how Clone Commando Captain Gregor met Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano and returned to the GAR... Enjoy :)
    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~​

    Coming Home
    Prologue
    Blaster fire drowned out the march of mechanical feet as the droids swarmed the docking platform, pouring blaster fire into the various constriction struts and machinery. Attempting to hit the nimble form in battered white and yellow who ducked between them, the whine of the engines sang over the sound of the blasters as the transport came off the landing pad.​
    Seeing no avenue of escape that would allow him to rejoin the shuttle and the Colonel, the commando lifted his comlink. "It's been an honor serving with you, Colonel."​
    There was a burst of static and a brief toodle of one of the astromechs before the Colonel's voice sounded loudly in his ears. "Artoo is right; we can swing around and pick you up!"
    "Don't worry about me," he downed another two droids. "You made me remember who I am. I'll make my way home, I promise. Now go!"​
    He turned back to let off a series of more shots into the rapidly closing droids. With the droids encircling him, Clone Commando CC-5576-39, Captain Gregor, continued to fire into their ranks even as he ducked behind the crates, the lifting droids continuing their task of moving the rhydonium canisters. They moved nearby even as he tracked the departing shuttle in his HUD. He gauged the distance, marking it in one corner, silently urging the shuttle to go faster, to get higher, as the lumbering canister-carrying droid reached near optimal position.​
    Come on; come on. A little more… a little higher… there!
    Turning, Gregor spun to level his DC-17M blaster at the nearest pile of canisters even as the impact of a bolt slamming into his side caught his attention. The droids were close, dangerously close. Completely focused, he only peripherally noticed the shuttle crossing paths with another as he fired.​
    The world erupted in flame and his HUD went black.​
    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~​
    Three insistent young voices - one a brash male, another a haughty female and a slightly accented third - drifted around the scene of the explosion.
    "Careful!"
    "You're going to be in big trouble if you're not!"
    "I know what I'm doing, Katooni!"
    "The angle of your descent suggests you don't."
    "Trust me, Zatt ."
    "Watch it; it isn't cold yet."
    "I bet he is."
    "Well I bet you're wrong, Petro; he's alive."
    "You never take my side!"
    "You're never right; why would I?"
    "Stop fighting; there's too much interference to get a reading off his suit from here."
    "Then he's dead?"
    "I don't know."
    "I'm telling you, he's alive!"
    "How can you tell?"
    "'Cause Ahsoka said so."
    "The kinetic energy of the blast alone suggests no one could have survived."
    "He was blown clear."
    "Di'kut-"
    "Hey!"
    "I'm telling!"
    "-that's commando armor."
    "You're such a know-it-all, Katooni!"
    "At least I listen in class."
    "Armor is armor, he should be fried."
    "Don't either of you pay attention to anything?"
    "Shouldn't we take it off and check?"
    "Do you know how to remove Clone armor?"
    "No. If you're so smart, figure it out!"
    "Padawan Tano said to load him onto the ship, not strip him."
    "I don't think she means to bring him if he's a corpse!"
    "Just help me get him up and out of here before the droids comeback."
    "If there are any droids that can."
    "Oof!"
    "Careful! He's heavy, don't drop his-"
    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~​
    He woke to darkness and a splitting headache. His mouth was dry, his ears ringing, and that pain caught him first. His body felt leaden and unresponsive but there was softness beneath his head.
    Touch seeped back in.​
    The brush something damp, but not unpleasant, across his eyes. He noted the firm but comfortable surface on which he lay and the ever so faint weight of a blanket across his body, rubbing against the fabric of his body glove.​
    His fingers flexed, his muscles cramping as his awareness returned, protesting the inactivity - or perhaps the abuse he'd put them through. He could feel the knots and tears in his muscles; the ache of newly mended tissues and the sharp, stabbing pains of those still needing attention.​
    Exhaling on a long, soft sigh, he paused as he went to inhale. Gently at first and then more strongly as strange scents reached him. Scents his mind couldn't match with an infirmary. The room smelled of incense and flame instead of blood and sweat. It was clean, almost soothing, laced with some strange kind of musk.​
    This wasn't an infirmary… nor was it his room.​
    Where am I?
    His head was spinning, aching and, when he went to remove the item - a cloth he finally identified – from his eyes, cool, slim fingers wrapped around his wrist, preventing him from doing so. The moment they touched him, his brain, despite its trauma, cataloged their capabilities in a heartbeat.​
    Calluses, on fingers and palm; strength despite their slenderness; the firm grip of someone accustomed to dealing with stronger individuals - and winning; cool, much cooler than his own skin; feminine.​
    Feminine?
    "Easy soldier," the voice was low, throaty, and pitched with a gentle, amused concern that almost sounded like a buzzing noise to his ears. "You're in rough shape - and not just from the explosion."​
    Explosion? He didn't remember an explosion. Did the diner go up?
    "Wh-" he almost choked on the question, his mouth dry, and the fingers left his wrist, a loss he felt almost immediately until the curve and tip of a straw was pressed to his lips.​
    "Here; this should help."​
    Cool liquid washed into his throat as he sucked it into his mouth and swallowed almost greedily, making a noise of complaint when she removed it. The word came out a growled demand. "More!"​
    "Not a chance. I might not have been the best first aid student, but I do remember not to over water a patient."​
    He exhaled, the water having revived, but also exhausted, him, leaving him more drained for having drank than not. She placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. Wasn't I wearing armor? The question drifted away as something within the cool drink hit his system with the strength and force of a turbolaser blast.​
    She drugged me.
    The thought was immediate, adrenaline sliding through his system, forcing back the feeling of fatigue. His body jerked, refusing to succumb, his mind rebelling against the submission and a slight, but firm, weight was suddenly across him. It was little more than two hands on his shoulders, elbows firmly in his chest and pressing down, but it was enough to showcase that in his earlier evaluation of the woman was accurate.​
    Calluses on her palm had denoted a capability he'd accurately assessed. Not only was she capable of keeping him down, but not afraid to do so. The strength in her hold belied what he guessed to be a rather small and slight frame. Size, apparently, didn't matter as she reached out and strapped him to the bed.​
    He thrashed but she held him tightly, her words - for she was speaking - lost in the fogginess and buzz of his thoughts. The ache at his temple was suddenly battering from within as if it trying to escape. He tugged at the restraints, but they held firm.​
    Restrains. Was he a prisoner? Her prisoner?​
    He tried to voice the question, but the words wouldn't come. The prone position, and his short if futile struggle, led to a fatigue so swift it tied his tongue and slurred his words, making him drool and groan incoherently.​
    "Sleep, soldier," the voice admonished, the backs of her cool fingers gently brushing across his forehead, her tone apologetic. "I'm sorry for the restrains but they are for you safety. I promise you're among friends."​
    A distant part of his mind, still linked to consciousness, swore she was suddenly wry and chagrined even as the thoughts slipped away and her voice chased him into sleep.​
    "…and I'll try and keep the brats away from you until you're a little stronger, but I can't promise anything."​
    TBC
     
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  2. Jade_Max

    Jade_Max Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 28, 2002
    Chapter 1


    Voices and sounds chased themselves through his dreams, his time passing in a blurred kind of stupor that mixed memory with inconsistent sensory input. With his sight blinded even in mindlessness, Gregor's other senses collected cues to his circumstance without being able to put them into logical thought.

    There were a few things he knew.

    Like…

    He knew that someone sat with him at all times, normally the notably older female, but sometimes the hand on his forehead was furry or tipped with suckers. Hands smaller than hers, less sure and confident and less capable should he get free.

    He knew that he was fed some kind of a broth, carefully spooned into his mouth in such small doses he couldn't have hoped to choke let alone eat his fill. Drinks were administered the same way; one young voice read to him - a technical manual of all things - while keeping him company.

    Various other topics flitted around him now and again, snatches of conversation he couldn't process and didn't try to. The shift in and out of consciousness was disorienting enough.

    Not sure how long he stayed in that state of limbo, when he woke next with a clear head, it was to the sound of a hushed, heated debate. A trio of familiar young voices reached him. Not the voice of the woman who'd drugged him, but familiar all the same.

    "I told you he was a Clone, Petro."

    "I never said he wasn't!"

    "You said he couldn't be this far out; that there was no way a Clone was here without a squad!"

    "Well - where is his squad?"

    Dead.

    Rising unbidden, the answer touched the tip of his tongue - but didn't voice it, choosing to listen instead.

    "Yeah, Katooni, if you know so much, where is his squad?"

    "Maybe they were all killed or captured," the voice was subdued but earnest, and very young to his ears, a counterpoint to the brashness of the other young voice arguing with it.

    His attention drifted, his mind trying to dredge up the images that belonged with those of his squad only to be frustrated when he met a blank wall. His mind wouldn't cooperate and nothing beyond the impression of loss, real and heavy, settling around his heart, came.

    No faces.

    No images.

    No feelings beyond the loss.

    Most importantly, and he felt this keenly, there were no names.

    "I wonder what his name is - if he has one."

    The question was like a signal, drawing him from his thoughts. Exhaling softly, the cloth still across his eyes and his lungs still filled with incense and musk, he answered it without thinking. The rumble of rocks that was his voice caught on the syllables. "Gregor."

    "Did you say something?"

    Somehow he didn't feel the innocent question was directed his way. Inhaling, he added strength to his voice. "My name is Gregor."

    There was a cry and a laugh and a garble of excitement accompanied with a shrieking of what sounded to be some kind of deep throated animal. A random, echoed a call for 'a soda' or similar and then the voices disappeared.

    The soft click of a door closing, reached him.

    Exhaling again, Gregor tested his body, finding his fingers responsive and not as heavy. His wrists twisted, cracking as did most of his joints as he shifted and moved them, flexing muscles that had been dormant for who knew how many days. There were aches and pains, bruising he could feel over most of his body, but it was intact.

    And free.

    He was no longer restrained.

    Memory returned as he lay there, of the droids and their little aquatic leader, offering to come back for him. Giving them permission to go and practically ordering them not to come for him as he leapt into the middle of the fuel depot. Not really expecting to survive, but knowing there was a slim chance his hearty armor would protect him, he'd ignited the fuel pods. The blast must have thrown him clear and landed him here.

    Wherever here was.

    The sound of the door opening brought the familiar, deeper female voice back. His caregiver's concern obvious but accompanied with a note of elation. "They tell me you're awake. Gregor, is it?"

    "Yeah."

    Her next statement was amused. "I see they didn't exaggerate. Don't take the cloth off just yet, okay?"

    He was itching to see what she looked like, but a distant memory of a medic's stern admonishment held him in check. "Why?"

    "We don't know how the head injuries have affected you just yet. The Medical droid did what it could, but you could have nerve damage after the explosion."

    A weight settled onto the edge of the bed, a hip brushing his before her cool fingers touched his cheek, slipping him the straw again. He sucked greedily at the cool fluid as she continued.

    "Those are the droid's words, not mine, by the way. I just know what Kix and Coric have had a chance to drill into my brain on the battlefield."

    He spat out the straw, her comment about not over watering the patient suddenly coming to mind, and was relieved when, after a moment, he didn't feel the same drowsiness of the last time. "You're not a medic?"

    "Me?" She laughed, a throaty, slightly rough sound that was tempered with self-consciousness, the slight plink of the glass being set aside almost lost to it.
    "Not a chance; I'm a Jedi."

    "A Jedi!"

    "Woah!"

    Her body landed across his as he almost shot off the bunk, ingrained training reflexively demanding he stand, and salute to acknowledge her rank. What he got instead was being pinned back to the bed, the softness of her chest flush against, one leg thrown across his own and the full weight of her as she bodily held him down.

    "Easy there, soldier! You're not well enough to be sitting up, let alone standing!"

    "My apologies for-" he started only to stop when she began to chuckle; he felt it through the thin cloth between them. "Sir?"

    "My name is Ahsoka, Gregor," she sounded amused again. "Until you're back on your feet I expect you to use it."

    "Protocol-"

    "You've been away from protocol a long time judging by the records in your HUD," Ahsoka didn't sound the least bit apologetic for having looked. "I prefer a little informality anyway - unless you're going to be difficult."

    "Yes sir; no sir."

    "Ahsoka," she stressed. "Don't make me make it an order because I will if I have to."

    Judging by the strength of her hold as she was splayed across him, one he noted consciously this time, he didn't doubt she had the strength to enforce it, too. He nodded once, sharply. "Yes, sir - Ahsoka."

    "Better." He could hear the smile in her voice. "If I get up do you promise to behave?"

    "I promise not to try and stand."

    "That'll do for starters," she agreed. "How about letting me go now?"

    It was only then Gregor realized why she was still splayed across him and hadn't moved. He had her in as tight a grip as she held him. Where his arms were flat on the bunk at his sides, he'd twisted his hands and arms to grasp hers in a lock that had been a totally unconscious reaction. It couldn't have been anything else when he didn't remember doing it.

    To make matters more difficult, he wasn't entirely sure how to let her go without making it worse.

    "Flex your shoulders."

    "Sir?"

    "Flex your shoulders," she repeated, a faint smile still audible in her voice. "Rex used this hold on me last week; trust me. Flex, rotate and curl forward as you release my hands or you might break something."

    "Break something?"

    "Rex didn't elaborate," her tone was wry. "But whatever he did, it worked."

    Gregor did as instructed. His hands turned, his back curling, careful to keep his head up as he eased the tension in his body. Her breath feathered across his cheek for half a moment as he shifted before the weight of her across him eased.

    Daringly, protocol be damned, he twisted his wrists and felt her freeze as his hands trailed up her arms. His fingers brushed over long gloves before meeting cool skin again. He took his time, tracing the edges, forming a picture in his mind before sliding his hands continually upwards.

    A series of five arm bands wrapped her biceps, all making the shape of a diamond in the center, her cool flesh between each one. Above them were her shoulders, the slightly warmer than the rest of her skin, only to end as his fingertips met the edge of her top.

    She was muscled, lithe and wiry, but soft too. A Jedi, she'd said; a warrior like he was, only built for a different kind of combat.

    "Gregor?" His hands stilled as hers flattened against his chest. "What are you doing?"

    "I want to see you."

    "Your eyes-"

    "Not like that."

    "Through… touch?" Her words sounded uncertain this time. Younger.

    "How else could I see you?"

    "I… ah…" Ahsoka coughed. "No offense, soldier, but if my boys could see you right now, not being able to see would be the least of your worries."

    "Your boys?"

    "The five hundred and first's Torrent Company."

    Even to his ears she sounded proud. His mind flicked back to the names she'd dropped - Rex; Coric; Kix. Clone names. How about that - a Jedi proud of her men and who called them affectionately by name? The names though… they nagged at him, making him feel as if he should know these men, or perhaps their Company; to his frustration, he continued to draw a blank.

    "They can be a little…"

    He almost chuckled when she hesitated, well aware of his genome's penchant for possessive and overbearing actions when it came to people they cared deeply for. He wasn't sure how he knew, just that he did. With how proud she was of her men, and how fondly she'd thus far spoken of them, he wasn't surprised by her caution and couldn't help himself from finishing her sentence. "Over protective?"

    "Sure," she sounded almost impish this time, "we'll go with that. Don't get me wrong, they know I can take care of myself, but…"

    "… would prefer to be involved."

    There was a silent understanding between them before he felt her body shift and move just a fraction. Was she nodding? He didn't know. Fortunately, after a moment, she seemed to realize he needed an audible cue.

    "Right." Shifting on his chest, she made to leave but his fingers flexed on her shoulders. "Gregor - I need to get up."

    "I want to see you, Ahsoka."

    "Gregor-"

    "Please."

    She sighed. "Can I at least sit up while you do it? This isn't exactly…"

    "Professional?"

    "Comfortable," her correction was wry before she deliberately tapped the center of his chest. "You're built to be a lean, mean, killing machine; not a pillow."

    He chuckled, easing his grip a fraction. "You're easily accessible this way." Gregor felt her sigh again and relented, immediately missing the weight of her across his chest. She was engaging, charming in a fashion, and unlike the other Jedi his foggy memory could dredge up in those moments. "If you'd rather I don't, Ahsoka-"

    "No; it's okay. Just let me up for a minute, okay?"

    Gregor did as she asked and her weight left the bunk. Trusting that she wasn't running away, she didn't seem the type, he waited patiently. Listening, he heard her moving about the room before the soft tap tap of fingers on a keypad were followed by a beep and then a soft blip of a noise indicating an engaged lock.

    "There; now the younglings can't disturb us."

    "Younglings?"

    "I'm playing chaperone for a handful of Jedi who are building their lightsabers."

    "If I'm keeping you from something-"

    "Five minutes while you figure out what I look like won't hurt, Gregor."

    "How did you and the younglings end up here?"

    "Our ship was attacked," her voice drew near again, the tones of it holding a soothing undertone he found very appealing, "we escaped but had to land to make emergency repairs. We arrived just in time to see a shuttle taking off and you thrown around and then out by that explosion."

    "What are the odds a Jedi would find me, huh?"

    "Must be the will of the Force, or so the Masters like to say," the bunk dipped again as she sat next to him again. "Lift your hands and hold them in front of your chest."

    He did so, waiting, and she cupped the backs of his, lifting them, before settling them against her face.

    "Be careful," she cautioned wryly and he could feel her jaw moving, "if you get too close to my lips, I might bite."

    "Caution noted," he acknowledged, but wasn't really focused on the words; he was focused on what he could feel under his fingers.

    Her skin was smooth, faintly ridged in distinctive patters across her eyebrows, cheek bones and cheeks. She had a heart shaped face but, when he moved his hands upwards, across the ridges where her eyebrows should have been, and further, he encountered a lip of smooth satin meeting supple, almost leathery skin, instead of hair where her hairline should have been.

    Frowning, he traced the line, finding it ran around her face, the division distinctive and, he noted, she lacked ears. Not human. His mind cataloged the information, making him more curious even as he traced where ears would have been on a human. If she wasn't human, then what was she?

    He shifted his hands, sliding them along the edges of her face, finding a faint crease about halfway up, and following it towards the back of her head. Several finger lengths along that seam from her face, he flattened his palms against her skull, not feeling bone, but more of the distinctive skin composition of its almost leathery cover.

    Gregor flexed his fingers, testing it against the tips, not quite able to correlate the swells and ridges under his hands with any race he knew. When no picture formed in his mind, still drawing that frustrating blank, he started to slide them downwards, his fingers curling around-

    Lekku?

    Her hands closed firmly about his wrists. "Don't get me wrong, Gregor, I'm starting to think you're swell, but we're not close enough for that."

    "Twi'lek?"

    "Togruta; the headgear is different but just as sensitive."

    Taking a moment, he focused on that word; Togruta. After several long seconds an image formed in his mind. A memory returned unexpectedly, giving him not only a clearer image but an insight to Ahsoka's profession - and his own past.

    There was - had been? - a Togruta Jedi on the Council; she'd just been assigned to the Clone's training when he'd been shipped out. Arching horns above her head, dangling lekku and burgundy colored skin crisscrossed by distinctive facial markings; she'd been something else to behold.

    That image in his mind, Gregor tried to match it to the young woman at his bed side. He couldn't quite make it fit; she didn't sound that regal, let along feel that poised or controlled. Not to mention that the lekku he'd felt had begun to taper at about her shoulders, indicating… what? He frowned. . Releasing one of his wrists, she smoothed her finger tips across his brow, soothing the ridges and worry lines.

    "What are you thinking?"

    "Your lekku are shorter."

    "Pardon?"

    "I've seen a Togruta before; she'd just been assigned to Kamino before we shipped out - but your lekku are shorter."

    "Master Shaak Ti."

    "You know her?"

    "More I know of her; we haven't spoken much." Her tone turned wry, "I'm not quite as old as she is; that's why my lekku are shorter."

    He cracked a smile. "You seem different than other Jedi I've met."

    "I'm told I am different," she tugged on his wrists. "Can you - thanks."

    He let his hands fall back to the bed, beyond frustrated with the inability to see. Not that he needed it to know she was something else; something special. "Why do people say you're different?"

    "For starters, I'm Anakin Skywalker's Padawan."

    "You're an apprentice?"

    "A very skilled one, thank you very much!"

    There was no heat in her reply, more of a teasing note that made his chest ache. When was the last time anyone had talked to him like this; teased him? Distant, broken memories of brothers he could barely remember surfaced but they were incomplete. Something must have shown on his face as cool fingers smoothed his brow again.

    "You're not recovered yet, Gregor; it'll take time."

    "It's not that."

    "Then what?"

    "Before you found me, I had amnesia." He sighed, suddenly feeling drained. "It's still there. Mostly."

    There was a pause and then her voice came back, her hand touching and then squeezing his shoulder. "Give it time."

    "You're not going to ask me how?"

    "I think you need to heal more than you need to indulge my curiosity, just yet." Her hand squeezed his shoulder again and he couldn't help but grin at her quantifier. It implied she wanted to know, but was restraining herself for his sake. Somehow, he got the feeling restraint wasn't something she did often. She touched his skin near the cover on his face. "It's not so bad, you know."

    "Says the woman without the cloth over her eyes."

    "It can be removed tomorrow, Gregor; just give the medical gunk a chance to work, okay?"

    "Medical gunk?" he would have blinked if he could have opened his eyes. "No offense, Commander, but that's not reassuring."

    "You just had your hands on my lekku, Gregor," that wry tone was back, "I think I'm going to insist you call me Ahsoka."

    "Sorry - Ahsoka." He reached up to grasp the hand on his shoulder and squeezed it. "The rank is more out of habit."

    "I know. My guys do it too." She shifted. "You should rest."

    "I'm not tired - and don't even think about drugging me again."

    She laughed, a musical sound that filled the room, lifting and buoying his spirits as they hadn't been before. "I wouldn't dream of it; sleep. I need to continue the repairs on the ship."

    "You're a mechanic too?"

    "I might be a Jedi," she said it in such a matter-of-fact manner he was surprised; she wasn't insulted by his question, but seemed… resigned. "But my skill set is probably as broad as yours. Sleep, okay? We'll have plenty of time to talk later."

    He let her go, the bed shifting as she stood, her fingers slipping from his in a pseudo caress that was anything but business-like. She seemed reluctant to leave and her comment about younglings came back to him. Likely starved for adult conversation, it was no wonder she'd lingered. He didn't mind; she was good company and he was disappointed to see her go.

    As he listened to her unlock the door and leave, the portal closing behind her, he smiled faintly. Ahsoka the Jedi Padawan; my Savior. What was the term he's heard from some spacer who'd crashed from… Iego? Angels? That was it; Guardian Angel.

    My Guardian Angel, Jedi Commander Ahsoka... I need to ask her last name.

    At least he assumed she had one; most people who weren't Cloned did. He was looking forward to being able to open her eyes and see the amusement he could hear, on her face. He wanted to see her eyes sparkle; to see the pride on her expression as she spoke of her men.

    Gregor was looking forward to getting to know a Jedi who hadn't bothered to ask his rank or number, but instead asked his name and treated him like a person instead of a machine. Unlike the miniscule Colonel Gascon who'd only wanted to use him for his own gain. Gain that had, in the end, offered to come back for him when there'd been no chance of recovery - but, he supposed, at least the offer had been made.

    He let the thoughts slip away; a Jedi had rescued him, what did it matter how one tiny GAR Officer had treated him?

    Inhaling deeply, he was suddenly bone weary. His discussion with Ahsoka had taken more out of him than it had seemed at the time. As if she'd taken the energy sustaining him with her as she left. Realizing that her instruction to sleep was sound, he turned, getting comfortable, reassured that his previous sleep had helped heal him just a little when his abused muscles didn't protest so much.

    For the first time since landing on the forsaken rock that he'd called home for so long, Gregor fell asleep with a smile on his face and an eager anticipation for tomorrow.

    TBC
     
  3. Jade_Max

    Jade_Max Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 28, 2002
    Chapter 2

    "Good morning."

    The now familiar voice drew him from sleep into immediate wakefulness and his mind took in his situation in a heartbeat. His head was clear, the persistent ache in his body less than the last time he'd woken. Still flat on his back, there was this urge to move. His muscles bunched unconsciously, testing themselves and reassured to find himself quickly mending. There was dull ache that still permeated his body, but the sharp, stabbing wounds were gone.

    "I know you're awake, Gregor," Ahsoka sounded amused despite the fact he'd not answered. "If you'd like me to leave, I can."

    "No," his protest was immediate. "Sorry; good morning."

    "Did you sleep well?"

    Surprisingly, he had. "Very." He frowned. "How'd you know I was awake?

    "One thing all Clones share, but for a very odd one or two, is near instantaneous wakefulness." An impish statement followed the logical one. "Mostly I could see you were awake by the flexing of your muscles. Rex and Fives do the same thing."

    "You're very observant."

    "Hard not to be when you're surrounded by men who all look the same but aren't." The bunk dipped as she settled next to him, her fingertips brushing his skin as she tested the edges of the cloth on his face. "But I'm sure you don't want to hear about that."

    On the contrary, he very much wanted to hear her talk about her men; it made him feel closer to the brothers he'd lost. To the brothers he hoped to rejoin. To the system that had lost him and left him for dead. Hearing her speak of other Clones as the people they were was refreshing and heartwarming. "Tell me about them. I know how we tell one another apart," at least, he thought he remembered how, "but how do you tell them apart, Ahsoka?"

    "It's the little things that give away who they are. Rex is… well, Rex." She seemed at a loss for a moment and then continued. "Some call him the perfect soldier but he's really not. Perfect, I mean. It's in his eyes and tone when he talks, in the way he walks - the serious soldier routine is a dead give away for him. Fives is edgy, always in motion and a touch reckless in everything he does. Kix is a medic and he acts like one. It's in the tilt of his shoulders and the way he holds himself. With their helmets off they're easier to tell apart. Jesse, for example, has the Republic crest across half his face and head; it's hard to mistake him for anyone else."

    "And the others?"

    "Are you sure you want to hear about this?" She sounded skeptical, her fingers curling about the edge of the cloth on his eyes. "They're a topic I could bore you with all day if you let me."

    "It's refreshing to hear someone speak so highly and fondly of my brothers."

    "Oh." There was a moment of awkward silence and Gregor got the impression she knew exactly what he was talking about. "I'm going to take this off your eyes, okay, Gregor? Don't open them until I tell you to, okay?"

    He nodded. The feel of the fabric peeling back and away wasn't the same as having a bacta patch removed. There was no pulling, no burning and, best of all, no sensation of his hair being pulled. It came off slowly but deliberately, until the weight was free of his face. There was no slightly brighter image behind his eyelids, no indication of light beyond, and his heart sank. "I don't see any impression of light, Ahsoka."

    "Probably," gentle fingers were thorough as they cleaned a residue from his skin, "because I only have a very faint one on by the door. Some of your brothers are less than obedient when I tell them to keep their eyes closed," tolerance and affection laced her amused statement, "I just wanted to be sure you didn't hurt yourself if the temptation to peak proved too great to resist."

    With a chuckle, he acknowledged the flaw in his genome. "I promise I won't peek."

    "I'm almost done; it's better you open them in darkness anyway."

    "Another order from the droid?"

    "Something Kix and Coric taught me about head wounds."

    "Smart men."

    "They are," she agreed. "Go ahead and try opening your eyes but if you see spots or anything, let me know right away."

    Slowly, Gregor did as she instructed, lifting his eyelids with deliberation, a sudden surge of anticipation nearly choking him. He was about to see if the mental image he'd formed matched the young woman beside him.

    Darkness, ever so faintly lit by what had to be the weakest light known to the galaxy, greeted his gaze. He could see shadows, impressions, and, as he turned his head to look, a pair of luminescent, nearly glowing, eyes that were so blue they stole his breath. Mesmerized by the sight, he couldn't help but stare as his eyes opened fully. Her eyes were gorgeous; a combination of blues so deep and vibrant they reminded him of seas and skies in all kinds of weather.

    Unable to make out any other details of her features, Gregor found he didn't need to.

    And then they were gone.

    He blinked, his eyes feeling sore and achy - unused - but otherwise he could see no spots and he seemed to be fine.

    "Didn't anyone ever tell you it's impolite to stare, Gregor?"

    His cheeks heated. How had she known? "They've been out of commission for too long," he countered, "I just wanted to make sure they work."

    "By staring at me?" Ahsoka could have made it an accusation but instead she still sounded entertained. Tolerant and surprisingly understanding. "Should I be flattered?"

    "Well, if your eyes didn't glow…"

    She laughed. "They don't glow; they fluoresce."

    Whatever they did, he found them fascinating. "They're also the only thing I can see."

    "No spots?"

    He shook his head, realized she probably couldn't see him, and opened his mouth to respond only to be cut off.

    "Nothing, huh?" The way she said it planted a suspicion which was quickly confirmed. "I can see you by the way. Perfectly. So I know you were staring." Her words were almost cheeky as she stood and moved across the room and Gregor turned his head to follow her darker than dark shadow. "I'm going to turn the lights on by degrees; let me know if they hurt at all, okay?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "I mean it, Gregor; any pain at all. No playing the tough guy. You could go blind if they're not fully healed yet and they're over exposed."

    "Understood; I'll tell you if it gets to be too much."

    "An ache is okay, just real pain."

    "Just turn on the damned lights, Ahsoka."

    Laughing, she did just that. Slowly, in stages, the lights came on and the luminescent orbs of her eyes diminished. Her gaze remained fixed on his face as details became visible in the shadows; the outlines of her body and the chair next to a terminal in the corner.

    The lights got brighter, as if she knew he was feeling no pain and his gaze came back to hers only to shift as her outline clarified and he got his first impression of her, her face still hidden in shadows.

    About a head shorter than a Clone, not counting the sweeping protrusions on her head, she was as slim and compact as he'd figured her to be. Lithe and lean, there was muscle definition in her arms and calves, belying the strength he'd felt in her grip. Strong as she was though, she was also curved in places he'd come to learn women should be. The fact she was a Jedi aside, it was a pleasure to see that she was as sweetly curved in appearance as she'd felt lying across him.

    Inappropriate, perhaps, but Gregor had spent the last months of his life living in a place where 'inappropriate' took on a whole new meaning.
    The lighting increased in its brilliance and her features came into view. Gregor stared at her, unable to help himself.

    Her skin was red.

    Not quite the same color as blood, but a burnt ocher color that complimented the blue chevrons on her lekku and horns as well as the burgundy of her outfit. His gaze dropped, lingering on the lightsabers strapped to her hips before continuing to her toes. Taking her in as a whole, his gaze traveled back up as the lighting increased to another level and he winced, feeling the burn behind his eyes.

    It dropped back to the brightness it had been, easing the pain. Abstractedly he was grateful; on principal he was indignant. He wanted to see her clearly. Not that he couldn't with her bow of a mouth and wide, azure eyes, distinctive white facial markings - almost like the tattoos some of his brothers wore - adorning her cheeks, brows and forehead. The faint ridges he'd felt under his fingertips.

    And she was frowning at him.

    Preoccupied, it took him a moment to register that fact. Ahsoka was crossing her arms over her chest as he belatedly realized she looked concerned and displeased.

    "What?"

    "I thought I told you to tell me when it got painful."

    He smiled, a touch sheepishly, but privately reflected on the fact he wasn't sorry at all. "I barely noticed it."

    "You flinched." She sighed, dropping her arms as she moved towards him. "Can you sit up?"

    "Is that a trick question?"

    "No; an honest one. Being laid out for nearly a week isn't good for the muscles."

    Gregor arched his eyebrows, filing that little tidbit away, and made to do just that. Feeling the pull and stretch of muscles too long idle, even the small movement difficult, but rewarding. It felt good to move again, even if it was just to push himself up against the wall. "There," he inhaled deeply before exhaling.
    "Nothing to it."

    "Tough guy," her smile was crooked as she settled on the edge of the bunk, this time near his knees. "I swear, those genes of yours make you guys some of the worst patients."

    "Are you implying I've been anything but cooperative?"

    "Considering it took me, a Wookiee, two younglings and a droid to get you subdued when we pulled you out of your armor?" The teasing sparkle in her eyes was worth the short, sharp pain he'd suffered to see it, "I'm going to say yes."

    "I plead delirium," he countered. "I have no recollection of that."

    "It's not the first time I've pulled one of you out of your armor," Ahsoka shrugged, glancing down to check something on the side table and then started to pour two glasses of water, "and I'm sure it won't be the last."

    Gregor's eyebrows hit his hairline as he stared at her for a moment. Ahsoka didn't seem to realize the connotation of what she'd said and a smile tugged at his lips. Starting small, it spread and he had to bite the inside of his cheek to stop the chuckle he suspected would have sounded more like a snicker. He coughed, managing to arrange his features into something bland when she looked at him, concerned, and cleared his throat.

    Ahsoka handed him one glass, which he promptly sipped as she turned to collect the other. "Remove Clone armor often, Ahsoka?"

    Her hand paused, flexing around the glass and Gregor couldn't help but note that her skin seemed to darken, the chevrons on her lekku doing the same. Interesting; a blush? His amusement was only fed when she took a deliberate sip of her water before turning to face him - and didn't quite meet his eyes.
    "Not as often as that statement implied," she grimaced, accepting the hit with a poise he appreciated; she was fun to tease. "I only meant I'm no stranger to how it works."

    Coughing, he lifted his glass again, staring at her with his eyebrows still raised. Sharp as she was, she could hardly miss the implication in her own words.

    "Not-" Ahsoka groaned, covering her face with one hand. "Forget it. Just forget it; be thankful I have the knowledge I do or you'd still be stuck in there."

    Gregor did laugh this time, a rumbling chuckle as he reached out his free hand to grasp hers and pull it from her face. "I certainly appreciate it no matter where you acquired the knowledge."

    A beep of her comlink interrupted her and Ahsoka grimaced. "Today is not my day," lifting it, she keyed it on. "Ahsoka."

    The young voice that came across it was familiar and not in the least bit reassuring. "Zatt broke something."

    "Zatt?"

    Ahsoka waved him to silence. "What do you mean broke something?"

    "There's a red light flashing on the console near the engine controls and a sound that seems to be getting louder."

    "I'll be right there, Katooni." Flicking the comlink off, Ahsoka rose, putting her glass back on the table as she did. "I have to handle this."

    "I'll be fine without you," he assured her, lifting the glass in silent salute. "Next time I doubt you'll be saved by a comlink."

    "Next time?" She flashed him a cheeky grin, calling back over her shoulder as she left the room on long, sure strides. "What makes you think there will be a next time?"

    Gregor chuckled to himself as the door closed behind her and took another sip of his drink, only to realize that she wasn't the only one to have been saved by her comlink. A pressing, personal need made itself known. A quick look around and he spied a door that looked as if it led to a 'fresher.

    Spying it and getting to it, however, turned out to be two completely different degrees of difficulty.

    TBC
     
  4. Jade_Max

    Jade_Max Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 28, 2002
    Chapter 3

    Two days later

    Ahsoka's presence quickly became the highlight of Gregor's day as she stopped in to see him in between her duties and chores. Apparently they were on an older ship, one he didn't recognize, and getting it running again was proving to be frustrating. The ship had been forced to make an emergency landing and hadn't been able to take off since. He'd offered what little expertise he could - which had turned him into a sounding board she could work through problems with - and that had resulted in her frequently coming and going.

    Today she'd left the door to his quarters open after departing the tenth time, bare minutes ago, prompting him to tease her about his revolving door policy.

    So far, he'd heard her charges, but they'd stayed away for the most part. A young Wookiee had briefly poked his head in the night before only to be chased when Ahsoka had unexpectedly returned. Gregor got the impression the youngling was curious and interested, but Ahsoka wasn't taking any chances with his recovery.

    He was both grateful and annoyed; a little company beyond hers would have been nice. Instead, Ahsoka had provided him with a remote datalink access to the holonet for him to get caught up on current events. What Gregor found was about what he'd expected except for the fact that the war seemed no closer to being won than it had been when he'd crashed on Abafar.

    "Are you really a commando?"

    Gregor muted the broadcast he'd been watching and closed the link, looking up to spy a young Nautolan standing in his open doorway. Nautolan. Ahsoka had told him about the younglings and he beckoned the boy in. "I am." Time to test that knowledge. "Zatt, right?"

    The smile that creased the youngling's face was impish but his steps in were hesitant. "Right. And you're Gregor."

    "That's right. It's okay, kid; I don't bite." He waved to the chair near the bed that Ahsoka had taken to sitting whenever she visited now that he was capable of sitting up and caring for himself. She'd made some spiel about 'proper' and, to his chagrin, hadn't really gotten close enough for him to do more than brush fingers with since. "Have a seat."

    Zatt looked torn, glancing down one of the corridors.

    "If you're worried about Ahsoka, she's gone to check on the fuel modulators and will be gone for a while."

    The youngling didn't appear to need more prompting and entered the room, hopping into the seat with a grin. "I'm supposed to be working on my lightsaber," Zatt told him matter-of-factly, "but I saw the door open."

    "I appreciate the company." Gregor shifted, feeling the strain of the muscle Ahsoka had told him had been severed, and repaired, but it was that injury which was keeping him in bed. Wanting to get up and move wasn't quite as pressing under her threat to strap him down again. Eventually he'd test her, it might even be fun, but for now he was content to heal and enjoy her uninhibited company whenever she could give it.

    "I've never met a commando before."

    Not many people had, Gregor reflected silently. "What do you know about commandos, Zatt?"

    His legs swung a little before stilling, visibly giving it some thought with a small head tilt. "Not much. We haven't got to that in our lessons yet."

    "Lessons?"

    "For when we're Padawans and fighting with the army," the youngling made a face. "I have to build my lightsaber before I can become a Padawan like Padawan Tano, though."

    Tano. Her last name was Tano. Gregor filed that little tidbit away, silently thanking the youngling. "She seems inordinately competent and self-reliant for an apprentice."

    "She's a third year and training with Master Skywalker," the name was said as if it should have meant something to him but Gregor was still drawing a blank for all it nagged at his perceptions, "and she's been fighting on the front lines for just as long."

    "Which explains her confidence." And her respect for her men. "Is she a good teacher?"

    "The best!" The black orbs of his eyes caught the light as the boy grinned, making them seem to sparkle. "I want to be her Padawan when I'm finally chosen."

    "The Padawan of a Padawan?" Gregor didn't know much about Jedi, but he was pretty sure an apprentice couldn't have one of their own. "Is that allowed?"

    "I don't mean now," Zatt corrected him with a laugh. "I mean after she's Knighted and I'm ready. I have to build my lightsaber first."

    "And I'm keeping you from it."

    "It's not going anywhere," Zatt pulled some components from his pouch, showing them off. "See?"

    "That," Gregor looked at the mess skeptically, "will be a lightsaber?"

    "Yup! I'll come and show you when I'm done."

    "I look forward to it."

    As if that were a cue, Zatt jumped off the chair. "I should leave you alone before Padawan Tano finds out."

    "Come and visit again when you have some free time, Zatt," Gregor offered, finding the boy not only a source of information but rather endearing. He'd not had much interaction with children but Zatt was quite engaging. "I'd appreciate the company."

    "Padawan Tano said-"

    "-not to bother Gregor."

    Gregor and Zatt's gazes both shot to the doorway where said Padawan was standing with a frown, her arms crossed over her chest.

    "Zatt."

    "Padawan Tano."

    The kid looked so crestfallen, and guilty that Gregor hated to see him take the brunt of her disapproval. "I called him in, Ahsoka; don't blame him."

    "You are supposed to be taking it easy."

    "Talking to the kid isn't strenuous," he countered, "lying in this bed might kill me though."

    "My bed is far more comfortable than the bunk in the medbay."

    Her statement confirmed his suspicion that he'd been putting her out of her quarters since his arrival. Still, he hadn't chosen to take it and she'd not asked for them back, so he wasn't going to waste time feeling guilty about it. "The bed is fine. It's the boredom that might kill me."

    "Zatt."

    The youngling gasped and ran, the pitter-patter of his sprint echoing back to Gregor as he disappeared down the corridor.

    "If that's all you need to do to ensure cooperation, I can see how you'd be effective on the battlefield."

    She laughed, shaking her head. "That's hardly the only reason." Grease marred her forehead and down one cheek, lines of it streaking her left arm, down the same side of her top and skirt. Smears of more of the same indicated where she'd managed to wipe off a good portion of whatever appeared to have exploded in her face.

    As Gregor took her in, he grinned. "Whatever the rest of the reasons, they don't appear to have helped you."

    "What?"

    He motioned to her. "It looks like you lost a fight with a lubricant line."

    "Maybe initially," Ahsoka agreed, "but she's purring like a tame Nexu now. Next step is rigging the main console to be able to take the load; the override won't work with the current configuration." Holding up her grimy hands, her smile was wry. "Electronics and grease don't mix."

    Which didn't explain why she was standing at the door bantering with him. "I'd offer to help with that, but somehow I think you'd bring up your men again as a caution to ensure my good behavior."

    "They're hardly what I'd call a deterrent half way across the galaxy,."

    "Better to beg forgiveness?"

    Her grin turned cheeky. "If you knew my Master, you'd know it's practically a way of life."

    "So if you're not here to ask me to scrub your back," he delighted in the way her colors darkened, "was there something else you needed?"

    "Just a change of clothes," she shrugged. "The laundry facilities here leave something to be desired."

    "Abafar isn't known for its creature comforts."

    "Abafar isn't known for anything," Ahsoka countered dryly and gestured towards the locker at the foot of the bed. "Do you mind if I…?"

    "It's your room."

    Part way in, Ahsoka paused. "I didn't tell you that."

    "I guessed," Gregor tapped his temple. "For all there are pieces missing, I'm still sharp as a blade."

    Going to the foot of the bed, Ahsoka knelt by the locker and flipped it open. "You're hardly missing pieces, Gregor."

    "You said I've been here a week."

    "And you were on Abafar much longer than that," her counter was muffled, the twin points of her horns - montrals she'd called them - the only part of her visible beyond the edge of the bunk. "How is it you never remembered anything before?"

    "I told you; Borkus made sure there were never any triggers, even potential ones."

    "Right Borkus; the … Sullustan?" Gregor nodded, but she didn't seem to need the confirmation. "The same one who rescued you, nursed you back to health and put you to work but kept you blissfully unaware of your origins and skills," she closed the lid, planting her elbows on it as she placed her chin in her hands, grease smudges sliding up her face.

    "The same."

    "And then this GAR Colonel Gascon and D-Squad came to find you, asked for your help and in the process reminded you of what and who you'd been - a Republic Commando ."

    "Mostly."

    "Mostly," Ahsoka conceded it with a tilt of her head. "What do you remember anyway?"

    "Images. Flashes. Some things are clearer than others." He sighed. "I don't remember the battle or crash that landed me on Abafar. There's a big hole."

    "And before that?"

    "Depends on what's brought up in conversation." He smirked. "Like you. "

    His answer seemed to take her aback.

    "Me?"

    "When you let me see you before turning the lights back on."

    "That wasn't a conversation; by Togruta standards, you were flirting with me."

    "Really?" Raising his eyebrows, Gregor grinned and flexed his hands. "Can I flirt with you some more?"

    "You'd better not," Ahsoka pushed to her feet, laughing, "the grease would get everywhere."

    "I don't mind getting dirty any more than you seem to."

    "I- er." Her colors darkened further and she suddenly couldn't meet his gaze as she collected the items she'd pulled from the trunk with great care. "I think I'd better get cleaned up."

    "Ahsoka."

    She paused, looking his way but still not quite meeting his gaze. "Gregor."

    "I'm just teasing. Ask me to stop and I will."

    "I know." Those azure orbs lifted to his, her lips spread in a little self-depreciating smile. "But that's the problem."

    "What is?"

    "I like it when you tease me and I shouldn't."

    "Doesn't your Rex tease you?"

    "My - he's hardly mine."

    "He sounds like he is." Gregor wasn't sure how he felt about that beyond grateful that someone watched her back. The rest of his emotions were a jumble of strange conflicts he hadn't examined too closely and wouldn't. They would be headed back to the Republic and, once there, he likely would never see her again. "From everything you've told me, he'd take a blaster bolt or worse for you in a heartbeat."

    "No less than what I'd do for him. Rex is my best friend."

    "What," he couldn't resist teasing since she looked so serious, "you're not his, too?"

    "We're friends."

    "And we're not?"

    "I like you too much to be friends, Gregor," her smile became a half smile, hitching one side of her lips and giving her a bit of a sad countenance, "and I'm a Jedi. I can't afford to".

    Which meant she really liked when he flirted with her, he realized delightedly. Good. He enjoyed it too and wasn't about to give up that pleasure simply because she didn't think she could. "You mean you can't afford to if things get serious."

    Ahsoka blinked. "What?"

    "Serious," he repeated impishly, a voice he knew he shouldn't listen to egging him on. Despite the sadness on her expression, he flashed a smile. "You know, married, babies and six generations. Serious."

    "Woah, I never said-"

    "So you're not serious about me?"

    Pausing, she considered him. "Not in the way you're talking."

    "Good. I'm not serious about you, either. I'm a Clone. A man made to fight and die for the good of the Republic," he quirked an eyebrow at her, "I don't exactly have time for 'serious'."

    Ahsoka chuckled as he quoted the last word with his fingers. "Then what is this?"

    "This?" An impish grin crossed his lips. "This is just fun. No ties. No strings. Friends who have chemistry they won't act on," Gregor paused, unable to resist needling her, "unless I suddenly find myself tied to your bunk again instead of just restricted to it. Then I couldn't possibly be held responsible for my actions."

    "You'd be tied to my bed. What could you do?"

    He goaded her good-naturedly when she unwittingly played along, waggling his eyebrows. "Wanna find out?" This time, Ahsoka laughed. A real laugh, the kind he'd been hoping to illicit. "Can I take that as a no, Commander?"

    "That's a 'you don't know what you're asking for, solider' laugh," her smirk made her eyes sparkle. "I'll be back when I'm clean."

    "Take your time," he leaned back, crossing his arms behind his head. "My imagination takes a while to get going."

    She escaped with a gasp and Gregor chuckled to himself, closing his eyes. The 'fresher, he noted with another grin several minutes later, came on and went off in record time - but Ahsoka didn't return. Disappointed, he rearranged his seat and turned his attention back to his datapad.

    Later he could tease her some more. She was excellent, if somewhat naive, company and he looked forward to her return.

    TBC
     
  5. Jade_Max

    Jade_Max Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 28, 2002
    Chapter 4

    The Wookiee's expression was probably almost as comical as his own when Gregor turned the corner later that afternoon and nearly ran down the youngling. He jerked back on protesting muscles with a "Gah!" of surprise.

    The exclamation from the Wookiee was probably something similar, but Gregor had never learned Shyriiwook. He didn't really have much time to focus on what the youngling was saying anyway as his leg muscles burned and twisted, cramping in protest. Reaching out, he grasped the wall for support only to find himself suddenly wrapped in a Wookiee half-embrace with a distinctly concerned sound coming from him.

    "Sorry, kid," he offered the Wookiee with a faint smile. "I can't understand a word you're saying."

    The apprehension from the Wookiee was unmistakable as he practically took all of Gregor's weight, making a gesture on his free hand towards Gregor's injuries.

    "Is that your way of saying I shouldn't be up yet?"

    A nod and a frown accompanied a look towards Ahsoka's room where Gregor had been flat on his back for too long. A week was enough. Ahsoka was busy elsewhere and it was high time he got back on his feet. A youngling, no matter how strong, wasn't about to stop him. "No offense, but after a week on my shebs, I'm itching for a chance to be on my feet." He got the feeling the Wookiee would know what he was talking about and added with conspiratorially whisper, "I won't tell the warden if you won't."

    A toothy grin was his response as the Wookiee chuffed and nodded, offering to take him the other way with a sweep of his hand. Gregor nodded, relieved and amused the youngling seemed to be more than willing to become his partner in crime. He'd have to remember that if Ahsoka gave him hell for pushing himself too far, too soon. This youngling seemed more of his own mindset and not contrary to bucking authority. Ahsoka, he suspected, was of likemind when she wasn't in charge.

    Not a good trait in a Jedi, Gregor suspected, but not exactly a fault either. This youngling would someday be a General and thinking for himself now could only bode well for his future.

    With one arm around the Wookiee's shoulders, Gregor made his way down the corridor with a series of clumsy steps until his feet and legs remembered how to walk. It took an embarrassingly long time to reach the end of the corridor, his injuries uncomfortable but bearable, as they reached the corner.

    Another toothy grin was directed his way as the Wookiee looked left and then right before meeting his gaze with a soft question of a sound.

    Gregor returned the smirk before motioning left. They'd taken only a single step before Gregor let out a hiss as his muscles cramped, contracting painfully without reprieve, as they protested the strenuous exercise. Clutching his young companion, he sagged and would have fallen had the youngling not had such a firm hold.

    The string of sound that came his way, a concerned and astonished stream of shiirwok, accompanied a sudden easing of his weight on his other leg. If Gregor had been able to do more than grit his teeth and bear it, he'd have offered his thanks… and his objection when he suddenly found them headed back towards Ahsoka's room.

    It was several long steps before the pain subsided enough for him to relax a fraction and Gregor made a motion for the Wookiee to stop. He did, but Gregor could tell he wasn't happy about it. "One second, kid," he leaned down to massage the cramping muscle, able to feel the quiver within the tissue with his fingertips. "I just need a moment."

    Showing surprising restraint and patience, the young Jedi let him take his time. It was only when Gregor straightened that the Wookiee made an inquiry, Gregor looking up in time to see him looking from Ahsoka's room to him and then back.

    Much as he didn't want to be flat on his back again, Gregor reluctantly conceded the day. For his first foray it wasn't bad, but if he over did it, he'd end up worse than when he'd started. "I think you're right. Enough for now."

    A chuff and woofing sound followed the sudden pressure against his waist and the Clone marveled at the strength of the youngling. It gave him pause and a newfound respect for Wookiees. If this was the strength of a young one, he made a mental note never to get on the bad side of an adult!

    Leaning heavily on the youngling, Gregor made it back to Ahsoka's room and practically fell onto the bunk. He felt as if he'd been through the ringer - not as bad as basic but after days of being out of commission, it was like running a marathon. Or wrestling a gundark. Whatever it was as bad as, his body protested mercilessly.

    Sweat beading his forehead, Gregor refused to admit complete defeat and waved the young Jedi away as he forced himself into a sitting position. He didn't, however, refuse the offered drink once he was settled.

    Raising the glass, he frowned at his trembling hand and then smiled sheepishly. "To your unexpected help, kid. This di'kut apparently doesn't know when to stay down."

    "I couldn't have said it better myself."

    Gregor was long past being surprised at Ahsoka's presence; she had a knack for showing up unexpectedly. "How long have you been there?"

    "Long enough," she stepped away from the darkened back wall and nodded to the Wookiee, "the others are going to wonder where you are, Gungi."

    The Wookiee frowned, but didn't back away from Gregor's bunk, asking a question Ahsoka obviously understood. Gregor watched her frown and then smile faintly.

    "I appreciate the thought, Gungi, but Gregor's over done it today. Maybe tomorrow."

    Another questioning sound and then Ahsoka chuckled. "Somehow, I don't think he'll object. Get back to your lightsaber; you'll want to have it finished before we're found, don't you?"

    A wide grin was the Wookiee's response as he nodded, said something with a look Gregor's way and then disappeared. Ahsoka's grin made Gregor raise his eyebrows.

    "What?"

    "You've a way with them," her tone was teasing. "Zatt hasn't stopped talking about your little encounter and now Gungi tells me he looks forward to seeing you again later, even if you can't understand him."

    "What can I say? I'm just naturally a people person."

    Ahsoka neared the bed and Gregor could see a sparkle in her eyes that only grew brighter as she brightened the lights with a wave of her hand. "A people person."

    "I got you to like me, didn't I?"

    "Ah, but I happen to like Clones to begin with," she settled next to him on the edge of her bunk instead of in the chair, using a scanner from the medical bay to check his vitals. "The younglings, however, haven't spent any time around Clones. You've made… quite the impression."

    "Is that a bad thing?"

    "Considering they should be focusing on building their lightsabers and not gossiping about you?"

    "So bring them by." Gregor couldn't bring himself to feel bad about that; if they were curious enough to talk, maybe they'd be curious enough to visit. He'd have welcomed the company. "Or better yet, I'll drop in on them."

    "They're Jedi in training, Gregor, not cadets expecting a visit from a General."

    "They're Jedi in training with an attention span compromised by curiosity," he countered as she placed the scanner aside and gave him her full attention. "Meeting me might be just what they need to refocus."

    "Or make it worse."

    "Come on, Ahsoka. It can't hurt for me to spend a little time with them while you're fixing the ship."

    "Or you could help me with that instead of distracting the younglings."

    "Ah, but then neither would their curiosity, or mine, be satisfied. And it gets me out of this room and on my feet."

    "So would helping me with the ship."

    She had a point but Gregor wasn't willing to concede just yet. "Not willing to share me with the young ones, huh?" Her blush was his reward as he continued, stretching his arms above and behind his head and tossing a deliberate bit of smugness into his tone. "I guess I can't blame you. I am pretty spectacular. I've got a great personality, fantastic physique and a smile that could melt the hardest of hearts." He displayed said smile for her, hoping to elicit a grin or a laugh but her verbal riposte was just as good.

    "What are you, the poster boy for post-war Clones?"

    "Would you like me to be?"

    There was a pause where her color deepened and Ahsoka cleared her throat, not quite meeting his gaze. "Well, Mister Fantastic, if you're trying to convince me, you're failing miserably. I've impressionable younglings on board, two of which are girls."

    "I thought women liked competition."

    "I'd rather you didn't break Katooni's heart when you meet her."

    "Katooni." Gregor grinned at her dry tone. "The know-it-all that woke me up, right?"

    "Her and Petros, yes," Ahsoka pushed to her feet, shaking her head. "The last thing those two need is encouragement from you."

    "Are you implying I'd corrupt them?"

    Laughing, she winked at him. "You're not exactly a typical Clone."

    "Maybe not, but I can be the model soldier," he changed tracts, sitting up as she looked like she was making to leave. "They're all going to be Commanders like you some day, and eventually Generals; I could give them a taste of what they're in for."

    "By what, shooting at them?"

    "Not exactly."

    "What are you going to do, then? Run them through basic?"

    "If it gets me out of this room and up on my feet faster."

    Ahsoka cocked her head at him, visibly considering, and then grinned. "A change of pace would be good for them. And you. Alright, Gregor. Starting tomorrow you can run them through any drill you want - on the condition you can do them too."

    "You won't be joining us?"

    "Fun as it would be, someone has to fix the ship."

    "Not even for the first session, just to make sure I'm not overdoing it?"

    "With Ganodi, Katooni and Byph in the room, I'm not sure they'll even let you."

    "Hey! Who's supposed to be watching whom?"

    Her flashed smile was impish. "Now that I think about it, they'll probably be watching out for you more than you do for them."

    "An even better reason for you to stop by." Her brow crinkled as the markings above her eyes rose in question and Gregor affected the most meekly frightened image he could portray, sinking back in the bed and hunching into himself. "You'll need to save me."

    Her laughter echoed back to him as she departed, taking his tease exactly as he'd meant it, and he grinned at her back before the door closed to cut off his view. Satisfied that the next day he'd be doing more than just lying on his back and waiting for whatever came next, he tucked his arms back behind his head.
    His satisfaction mixed with a sudden surge of exhaustion and Gregor's eyes closed on a blink… when he opened his eyes, it was to find that it was already the next morning and time to meet all of Ahsoka's younglings…..

    "Good morning, Captain Gregor."

    Gregor wasn't sure what to expect upon meeting the younglings, but the self-aware, disciplined young people who greeted him when he arrived in their training room wasn't it.

    Where were the 'brats' Ahsoka had spoken about? Where were the enthusiastic smiles that had greeted him when Zatt and Gungi had met him in his room or in the corridor? Petro and Katooni didn't whisper as they had when he'd been unconscious and they hadn't realized he was listening.

    Byph and Ganodi he hadn't heard mention of, except their names in passing from Ahsoka, and he wasn't surprised they didn't speak up, but the rest…
    Weren't these children supposed to be more excitable than Clone cadets? Based on everything he'd heard, this was abnormal behavior for them. It left Gregor at a loss.

    Looking at the sextet of younglings, watching them as they watched him, he wondered if Ahsoka had told them he was coming and immediately called himself a di'kut. Of course she'd told them he was coming and, with that knowledge, apparently cowed them into good behavior.

    While Gregor appreciated discipline as much as the next Clone, or so he assumed, the flashes of unbridled excitement and youthful exuberance he'd seen from the younglings he'd already met, he cleared his throat. "Good Morning. Commander Tano has asked me to introduce you all to the rules and regulations of the GAR. Think of it as impromptu training that will put you ahead of other younglings when you begin to serve with the divisions to which you're assigned."
    The Tholothian's hand shot up.

    "Yes - Katooni is it?"

    "I thought you had amnesia, Captain."

    "I do," he agreed, "which means this will be as much about teaching you, as an exercise in memory."

    Quick on the answer, the Ithorian raised his hand.

    "Biff?"

    The squeals and whistles that made up the language had Gregor making a face. "I'm afraid I don't speak Ithorian or Shyriiwook," he nodded to Gungi, who grinned widely in return, "someone care to translate?"

    "I thought Commandos were supposed to know everything."

    The almost accusatory statement came from the young human as he crossed his arms. Gregor recognized the voice and was glad to put it to a face. "Disappointed, Petro?"

    The brash youngling shrugged. "Surprised. Clones are supposed to advise Jedi. How can they do that it they don't know what's going on?"

    "Biff asked the same question," volunteered the Rodian girl with a look at Petro, "he just asked it in a nicer way."

    Gregor considered the group and smiled faintly. "What good would it be to anyone if I just pretended to know? Being a good soldier isn't just about confidence and knowing your strengths. It's about knowing what you can't do. No two Clones, for all we're genetically identical, are the same or have the exact same skill set."

    Gungi voiced a question and Gregor looked around questioningly. "Translation?"

    "He wants to know if that diminishes your effectiveness on the battlefield."

    "Thanks Zatt." Gregor nodded to the technically inclined youngling. "The answer is no. As an individual, I have other strengths instead of an aptitude for languages. As a group, with a highly trained team where we all have similar, but distinctively different, skills, we would be able to cover a wide range of specialties."

    "But you wouldn't be able to help with translations."

    "No. I wouldn't." His agreement was easy as he smiled at the Rodian girl. "But, if the idea involved covert infiltration, repairing a weapon or a basic electronic program, not to mention just about anything else military, including tactical and battlefield scenarios or training," he was surprised how easily that came back to him, "then I would be the man to see."

    "Weren't you working in a diner?" Katooni sound skeptical. "How'd you learn to cook?"

    "Fortunately, we Clones are fast learners," Gregor's response was dry. "For most mundane tasks."

    "Are you any good at cooking?" The Rodian inquired eagerly. "Because if you are, maybe you could do something with the ration packs that pass as our meals?"

    "Yeah," chimed in Petro, "something other than protein paste."

    "Sorry, kids; we tend to survive on ration cubes and tasteless paste in the field. Without fresh ingredients or flavors, it'd still be paste." Not to mention he wasn't there to be their chef. Fortunately, the shift in discussion seemed to have loosened them up a little. "But I'm not here to teach you a hundred and one ways to make nutrient paste tasty. Commander Tano has requested I run you six through the very basics of the discipline that makes the GAR the formidable force it is today."

    "But-"

    "Atten-shun!"

    The silence that descended in the room was immediate and stunned and Gregor belatedly realized he might have miscalculated in treating them like cadets. Still, he'd begun and by the time they were rescued he intended to have them able to fall in and salute like a class of third year cadets.

    Walking across the front of the room, Gregor clasped his hands behind his back, ignoring the twinge in his side and leg. Fast metabolisms meant fast healing, but he'd been out of the game too long to go running through the ship on an hour's physical training. Better to start with something simple.
    "Attention means you line up in order, side by side, an arm's length apart."

    They exchanged looks before Katooni tentatively raised her hand, his demeanor apparently having silenced their eager questions - for now. Gregor had no doubt they'd soon be comfortable again and peppering him with inquiries. He'd take advantage while he could.

    "Katooni."

    She swallowed. "What order, Captain, sir?"

    He frowned. Cadets tended to order up by designation. It was quick and clean and didn't cause issues. Looking at the younglings, he realized they didn't have that choice. "Height," he decided firmly. Tallest to shortest."

    They rearranged themselves as instructed and Gregor watched impassively, inwardly impressed when they didn't use the opportunity to push and shove the way some cadets did. They fell in neatly, though a little close together.

    "Gungi, stretch out your hand to the left." The Wookiee did as instructed but couldn't. "Your hand shouldn't fall on Petro's shoulder; your fingertips should just barely be touching it."

    Gungi adjusted himself accordingly. Without being told, the rest of the younglings followed. Height, Gregor realized as he watched them adjust, just meant that some of them had larger gaps than others. No matter; he could adapt.

    "Good." His faint praise made some of them grin. "Now, basic postures. The first is 'Attention'. I will demonstrate and you will follow, understood?"

    They nodded.

    "Atten-shun!"

    Gregor snapped the command and clicked his heels together, coming to a ramrod straight pose immediately, precise and swift, the way he'd been trained. He held the pose for a count of fifteen before slipping into an at-ease posture and looking at them with a critical eye.

    "Heels and feet together," he placed his feet precisely and let them look. "Hands at your sides, arms straight." He demonstrated again, feeling a touch foolish and a twinge in one leg but it was nothing more than an irritant and ignored it. "Shoulders back, head up and eyes straight ahead." He held the position for a moment longer before releasing it. "Any questions?"

    The younglings exchanged looks he couldn't completely read, though Petro seemed more eager than the others.

    "Captain Gregor, these are Jedi younglings in training to be Padawans, not Troopers."

    Gregor turned, caught off guard by the sight of a droid he'd not yet seen – and hadn't known was aboard - his hand dropping to where his holster would have hung before the condition of the droid registered. The thing was humanoid in shape, but missing an arm and a leg and appeared to have seen some battle. He relaxed. "And who are you supposed to be, tinny?"

    "Master Huyang," he inclined his head. "The keeper of this sacred vessel and the Jedi tradition upon it. I am the youngling's lightsaber resource."

    No ordinary tinny then - a Jedi tinny. A friendly. Looking at the droid critically, Gregor couldn't help but wonder where it had gained its damage, not to mention why Ahsoka hadn't told him there was a droid on board. Maybe not to bother him? She knew enough about clones to know droids in general made them relatively uneasy.

    "Clones have never before been allowed on this ship, Captain Gregor. Perhaps you should treat its occupants as Jedi and not cadets."

    "It was my understanding, Master Huyang, that Jedi seek knowledge." At least, something Ahsoka had quipped made him think that. "Is this not true?"
    "Of course it is."

    The eager eyes of the younglings made Gregor hyper aware that he was dealing with one of their teachers and couldn't undermine him. Even if he was a droid. "One day they will each be Commanders in the GAR. This is simply an exercise to expand their minds and their knowledge. The best way to command one's troops is to understand them."

    The droid appeared to consider it. "Did Padawan Tano tell you this?"

    He smirked. "I picked that one up on my own. Ahso- The Commander simply gave me permission to impart it to these young ones."

    "Very well then," Master Huyang made a motion with his hand. "Proceed."

    Gregor inclined his head to the droid and turned back to the younglings. They jerked, as if trying not to show that they'd been shamelessly eavesdropping and hanging on every word of the conversation.

    "Atten-shun!"

    They jumped and then, almost belatedly, attempted to slide into the pose.

    There were varying degrees of success. "Pull your shoulders back and lift your head a little Byph. Head down, Gungi, you should be looking straight, not up, even if the officer is taller than you. Hand loose Petro. You shouldn't look like you want to punch the Sergeant. Straight arms Katooni, I shouldn't be endangered by your elbows out the back. No gawking at the other recruits, Zatt - eyes forward and lock your knees. Bring your feet together just a little more, Ganodi - that's it - and stand a little straighter. There you go."

    Stopping at the end of the line, Gregor turned back and inwardly grinned. They weren't bad for a bunch of beginners and, now that he had their full attention, he couldn't wait to really get started. Maybe he could teach the tinny a thing or two about training.

    Lifting his gaze to meet that of the droid's, he quirked an eyebrow - and got an inclination of the thing's head in response. If he wasn't mistaken, it was a very human show of approval and respect.

    How about that? Would wonder never cease? Privately, he hoped not. He was hoping these younglings would pleasantly surprise him because, one way or another, this was going to be a lot of fun.

    TBC
     
  6. Jade_Max

    Jade_Max Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 28, 2002
    Chapter 5

    Several days later

    "If you connect it there, you'll blow the power converters when we try to take off,"

    "Not the way I have it cross wired," Ahsoka insisted. "I had to splice into the internal power couplings and sacrifice two of the on board 'freshers just to get the cooling we're going to need."

    "You're crazy," Gregor wondered how he'd ever thought her capable. The rewiring and refit she'd completed on the ship would get them all killed! "That could blow the life support."

    "Not if I get this connection finished," now she sounded exasperated. "I thought you were supposed to be good at this stuff."

    "Unlike you, I didn't attend the Skywalker school of mangling mechanics."

    "And I wasn't flash trained to be inflexible. If we do it your way, we'll never get off this rock!"

    "At least my way has a chance of success."

    "Your way, Gregor, might make sure we don't explode, but it will never get enough of a charge to the engines to initiate ionization." The glare she shot him was cut off by the console as she ducked back underneath, proceeding with the change he'd been advising against. "At least this way we have a seventy percent change of ignition."

    "And a thirty percent chance of an explosion the moment you initiate the power transfer."

    Ahsoka's voice was muffled. "Isn't that enough of a chance for you?"

    "I just survived one explosion, Ahsoka; I'd rather not take my chances surviving a second."

    "Second?" She peaked out from under the console with a grin. "Wouldn't this make it three including your crash here?"

    "Semantics aside, seventy percent isn't very good odds."

    "Gregor," she stopped, finishing the hook up and slid out from under the console, wiping her fingers on a rag. "I know they're not ideal, nothing about this situation is, but seventy percent is better than fifty or sixty." She was right, but that didn't mean he liked it. Ahsoka wasn't finished. "If there is a chance we can get back to the Republic, wouldn't you rather take it than languish here?"

    "Ahsoka-"

    "No," pushing to her feet, Ahsoka was shaking her head, "don't even think about objecting. I know a thing or two about clones, Gregor. I know commandos are more versatile than most, but you can't be happy here. Abafar is the last place someone with your training and skills would be happy."

    "We're not carbon copies."

    "I know that," sighing, she dropped into the pilot's chair across from him. "I know that far better than you can understand, but what else I do know is that it's not in any clone I've met to give up. You risking your life so Colonel Gascon and his droids to escape tells me that neither do you."

    "I could have been trying to kill myself."

    "Were you?"

    Caught, he shook his head. "As you seem to know, I wasn't. You're pretty sharp on the details for a non-brother."

    Her hand snaked up, touching the diamond on her necklace in a gesture he didn't recognize. "Rex is fond of telling me I'm good with the details."

    "When it comes to clones?"

    "When it comes to almost anything. You're right though. I am good with the men in particular." She leaned forward, tracing the necklace's pendant almost thoughtfully before her hand slid back to her lap. "Once I know a man's name, I never forget it or call him by anything else and I never," she met his eyes solemnly, "mix a man up with his brothers."

    "Never?"

    "Never."

    "Sounds like you've an eye for detail and nuance," which was an understatement he realized as the words left his mouth, "like we do."

    "Most of you," she agreed. "But then, Rex thinks I'm an anomaly to be so observant because I wasn't created as a part of a batch and labeled with a number."

    "Our designations, you mean."

    "Right." A sigh escaped her. "Some of us didn't have to choose our names; we were named by our parents."

    "Something Clones don't really have."

    "Right," a grimace crossed Ahsoka's face. "But, my name was chosen for me before I can even remember what happened. You guys, though, get to pick your own or be named by your brothers. That's pretty special."

    That was a unique way of looking at it. "You're close with you men, right?"

    "Yes - why?"

    "How close."

    "Close enough I'm not considered just another Jedi."

    "You're part of the team."

    "I'm part of the Company." If he had any doubts before, he wouldn't now. Ahsoka's pride was quiet but heartfelt as she said it. "Honorary, of course, since Jedi can't actually be a part of a GAR clone Company, but a part all the same."

    "So what do they call you, then?"

    "Commander, mostly."

    "Not Stripes?"

    "And why," her chuckle accompanied a shake of her head, "would they call me that?"

    "Why not? If you're part of a Clone Company, you should have a Clone name."

    "And you got Stripes from…?"

    "Stripes." He reached out and touched the edge of one chevron on the nearest montral. "Like these."

    Ahsoka stared at him for a second before leaning back in her chair and taking her beyond his reach. "How much do you remember of the Rules and Regulations you were flash trained with, Gregor?"

    "Not as much as I should."

    "Anything about the fraternization section?"

    Enough, but he wasn't about to clue her in on that. "Very little."

    There was a moment's pause and then she pinned him with a look. "Liar."

    "Some," caught, his concession was grudging. "Enough to know flirting with you could get me reconditioned."

    "So maybe you shouldn't?"

    "And ruin this?" He flashed her a grin. "Never." They shared a look before he steered the conversation back to the task at hand. "So what's next?"

    "Firing up the engines. Are you sure you want to be here for that? You could wait on the outskirts of the city."

    "And risk having this thing shoot skyward like a rocket without me? Not a chance. You're stuck with me, Stripes."

    "You really shouldn't call me that."

    "There's a lot of things I shouldn't do," he agreed undeterred, "that doesn't stop me from doing them."

    "Which is probably what landed your shebs here in the first place."

    "Shebs?" With a chuckle, Gregor watched as she turned and adjusted several settings on the panel to her left with one hand, the other managing power flow with just her fingertips. "If your Rex is teaching you to cuss in Mando'a, I don't think I approve."

    "Fives, Jesse, Kix, Coric - they all do it," the smile she flashed him was impish again. "Rex just figured I'd be better off knowing what was being said before I overheard one of them and asked my Master."

    "Not one to approve, huh?"

    "On the contrary," Ahsoka informed him dryly, "I think he would have given me lessons and Rex wanted to avoid expanding my vocabulary more than necessary."

    "A man of caution."

    "A man of sense. Experience is everything to him." There was a pause as she considered something before flashing him a grin. "I think he'll like you."

    "Will - as in, present tense?"

    "If I know anything about Clones, Gregor, it's that you never leave someone behind if you can help it." Which was true, from what he could recall. "Rex won't accept I'm dead any more than my Master will even if they do find ship debris. I, for one, intend to be waiting in the space above Abafar when they come looking."

    "When, huh?"

    "Call me an eternal optimist. My guys are more tenacious than most, Rex the most of all. If there's a chance I'm out here, they'll find me. It's my job to be in a position to be found."

    "With a little extra baggage."

    "What, you?" Her laughter was genuine to his ears and made him smile in response. "A lost brother returning to the fold is never extra baggage."

    "Something tells me your Rex is going to be less than thrilled to see me." He knew he would be if another brother had suddenly shown up with her. Gregor was self-aware enough to know he didn't like the idea of anyone messing with her and that was only after a couple of weeks in her company. He also suspected that Rex, a man who'd been at her side for years, would be the same only worse. There was something about Ahsoka that just made it feel natural.

    "Wanna bet on it?"

    "With a woman who thinks seventy percent is good odds?"

    Ahsoka laughed. "Spoil sport."

    "Didn't your Rex teach you to pick your battles?"

    A choked, almost throttled laugh emerged from her lips. "Why don't you tell the younglings we're almost ready up here while I finish this?"

    She seemed inclined to get him to leave so she could finish in peace and Gregor found that probably wasn't a bad idea. Knowing what she was doing wasn't helping his perception of the situation any. Seventy percent odds weren't bad, but he hadn't gone through months of amnesia coupled with the ongoing recovery on this ship to explode during takeoff. "Doesn't it bother you that your charges would die in the resulting explosion if you're wrong?"

    Ahsoka paused, looking at him, the amusement fading from her eyes. "Of course it bothers me, but what would you have me do? Send them off to a safe distance when getting off this rock is going to take everything we've got? If I send them away, there's no guarantee I'll be able to come back and get them. I'm not going to condemn all of you to Abafar because of a thirty percent chance we might explode on ignition."

    Put that way, Gregor would have to agree. Realizing he didn't have much of a choice, he flashed her a faint smile. "Seventy percent odds, huh?"

    "Better odds than Anakin usually has," her lips twisted into an impish smile in response.

    "Usually has? You two do this kind of patch job regularly?"

    "More often than we probably should. At least we normally have Artoo with us." Gregor couldn't help but smile at the mention of the feisty blue droid. "This time though, I kind of have to wing it. Fortunately, I've done this enough it's practically routine."

    Which was more reassuring than it should have been since it implied that she and her Master crashed a lot. "If you're trying to reassure me, Stripes, it's not working."

    "Don't worry, Gregor," her confidence was incredible. "I know what I'm doing."

    "If you get us off this rock and back into space in one piece, I'll hardly be in the position to question you."

    "And if I don't?"

    He shrugged. "We'll all be dust and it won't matter?"

    "You're so optimistic," with a shake of her head, Ahsoka flashed him a smile and waved him away. "You'd better let them know."

    He turned to leave.

    "Just think, Gregor. By this time tomorrow, you could be kissing this dust ball goodbye and surrounded once again by brothers!"

    Her statement sent a surge of powerfully raw anticipation through his system and almost made his miss a step as she glanced back to find her grinning, which he couldn't help but return, before she resumed her task. With a shake of his head, he exited the cockpit.

    The underlying enthusiasm within her words was clear; not only would he be back where he belonged, but they all would.

    As made his way towards where the younglings were practicing with their newly built lightsabers, his excitement was tempered by the knowledge that he'd been away from the GAR longer than he'd ever been at war. Much as he was looking forward to being back in the fold and surrounded by familiar faces, he knew part of that was just fantasy.

    His memories hadn't returned. There were still no details about his brothers, either his squad or his previous assignment, leaving him as much in limbo now as he'd ever been. He might remember who and what he'd been, but these last couple of weeks with Ahsoka and the younglings had felt more like belonging than anything else in a long, long time.

    Everything in his world was about to change again. Fortunately, as he'd told the younglings, he was a fast learner.

    Gregor didn't dwell on what would be, though, he turned his attention to what was. Quickly making his way to the back, he did as instructed. Summoning the younglings together with a simple command, he was proud of the way they fell in line without so much as a jostle, looking at him expectantly, their new lightsaber hilts gleaming from their hips.

    "As you all know, Ahsoka's been fixing the ship. As of two minutes ago, she was working on the last of a series of a risky relays that give us a seventy percent chance of making orbit and, hopefully, being found." Their eager expression were alight with an anticipation he disliked curbing, but they deserved to know the truth as much as he did. "There's a better chance than I'd like that the engines will explode and we'll be vaporized on ignition."

    There was silence for a moment before a muffled cough, distinctive to hiding laughter had him arching his eyebrows as he pinned the culprit with a look. "Something amusing, Zatt?"

    The Nautolan choked on his laughter and his amusement was echoed in Petros cheeky grin.

    "No?" Gregor turned to Petro, not enjoying the idea he was being laughed at, but willing to play along if it meant they were relaxed. "Petro?"

    Petro's grin got impossibly wider as Katooni was suddenly hiding a smile behind her hand and Gungi was chuffing softly in amusement. Soon enough, each of them was snickering and visibly trying not to.

    "I could use a good laugh right now." He looked down the line, crossing his arms over his chest. "Anyone?"

    "Seventy percent is better odds than we had landing on Abafar," the brash young human told him with a snicker. "I think we had fifty fifty odds, right Zatt?"

    The techie nodded. "Seventy percent is almost a guaranteed success, Gregor," his assurance made Gregor arch his eyebrows. "I wouldn't worry too much. Ahsoka knows what she's doing."

    "While I don't share your amusement, I can see why it's amusing," Gregor returned with a faint smile. "Buckle in. If Ahsoka's repairs work, we'll be in orbit shortly and on board General Skywalker's command ship in no time."

    A cheer followed him out of the training room before the sound of them scrambling to secure their items and equipment under the watchful eye and direction of their droid teacher. Gregor only wished he shared their enthusiasm. Seventy percent, for all they were better than average odds, just weren't good enough in his books.

    Unfortunately, he reflected as he returned to the cockpit to find Ahsoka keying in the last of the start up sequence and hurried to buckle himself into the copilot chair, he didn't have a say in the matter. He was going to have to trust her. The odds were in their favor and would simply have to do.

    TBC [Epilogue up next!]​
     
  7. Jade_Max

    Jade_Max Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jun 28, 2002
    Epilogue

    The Five Hundred and First's Captain of Torrent Company, CT-7567 - better known as Rex - waited patiently as the ramp to the ship opened with a hiss, his distance about half what it had been since the ship's skids had first touched the ground. He'd been worried since it had been declared missing, the Jedi having launched a mission to find it, but the two weeks of Ahsoka's absence had been pure hell.

    They'd been located in the space above Abafar, the ship badly damaged, but space worthy. What they'd been doing there, Rex hadn't cared. He'd only cared for the fact that, after searching with a limited and rapidly dwindling time frame, they'd been found.

    Ahsoka's voice over the comm. had never sounded sweeter than it had in the moments she'd hailed the Resolute. Relief had struck him forcefully enough he'd been able to do little more than greet her with an honestly professional, if somewhat choked, "It's good to hear your voice, Commander." A massive understatement though it was, it was also accurate.

    She'd shot back with the same, requesting permission to dock - which was immediately granted - and then signed off with a cheeky, "Rex ole boy, have I got a surprise for you!"

    Which led him to now.

    The engines wound down, the boarding ramp lowering completely, and a half dozen Jedi younglings came tearing out, laughing and jostling and joking until they saw the two Jedi standing in wait. Lining up with surprising precision, the quintet came to attention and snapped off precise salutes that made Rex's eyebrows rise. Apparently Ahsoka had taken to drilling them in GAR protocols.

    Skywalker and Kenobi ushered the handful off the deck, Anakin stopping briefly next to Rex. "Ahsoka's probably just powering the ship down. Tell her to find me when she's done, would you, Rex?"

    "Yes, sir."

    That left Rex alone on the deck, minus the deck crew, waiting in an at ease posture. There were a few moments of anticipatory silence before a sound reached him. Frowning, Rex focused on it, his gaze narrowing on the ramp.

    Voices.

    Laughter.

    Ahsoka's laughter.

    He was already moving towards the base of the ramp when she - they - came into view. Ahsoka had a brilliant smile on her face and was laughing at something the clone on her left was saying, her gaze on his. All the while, she was waving one gauntlet at the stranger, holding it away with a shake of her head.

    As Rex watched, the stranger said something, grinned as she stopped beside him and then turned towards her. Taking the tip of her lekku in his bare hand, Rex saw the stranger's wrist twist as he tugged.

    Rex's whole world fixated and sharpened on that moment.

    Thunderous, icy rage filled him at the sight of this stranger's fingers on his Commander. Later he wouldn't be sure how, but the next thing he knew, he was beside them on the ramp. His reaction wasn't planned as he grasped the stranger's hand, twisting the thumb and forcefully driving it back, hauling the interloper's hand from Ahsoka's person.

    Two pairs of surprised eyes flashed his way, but Rex ignored the pair identical to his own, his whole focus on Ahsoka as he twisted again, digging into the hand nerve to push the stranger further away. The rage that filled him was nothing compared to the relief seeing her alive and unharmed did. It swept away the anger as he took her in with a single look. A half smile crossed his lips. "It's good to see you unharmed, Commander."

    Ahsoka cocked her head and opened her mouth, but it wasn't her voice that answered with amused tolerance.

    "This must be your Captain Rex." Rex's gaze traveled to that of the brother in commando armor, a fact he was only belatedly registering. "I've heard so much about you."

    "And you are?"

    "Gregor," he flexed his fingers within Rex's grasp, "Captain Gregor."

    "Captain."

    "Yes; Captain." Gregor stared straight back at him and Rex found himself disliking the other man intensely. "Commando Captain - would you mind...?"

    "Not if you're going to keep your hands to yourself."

    Gregor chuckled and flexed his wrist, breaking Rex's grip with shameful ease. "He's everything you said he'd be, Ahsoka."

    "That's Commander Tano to you, Captain."

    Ahsoka stepped between them, placing one hand on Rex's chest plate. The other slapped the vambrace and glove she'd been holding against Gregor's. "Enough, Rex. Gregor's a friend and has the same right you do to call me by name."

    "Which has absolutely nothing to do with crashing in, or being tied to, your bunk this last week."

    Rex's fist clenched at the insinuation, but he well recognized the deliberate ploy to get under his skin. Fives tended to dig at him the same way. Ignoring the veiled insinuation, Rex looked back to Ahsoka. "So what's this surprise?"

    Her smile was sheepish. "You're looking at him."

    "Him?"

    She nodded.

    "Your Rex doesn't' seem as excited to meet me as you promised," there was no censure in Gregor's tone to Rex's ears, just a teasing smugness that wasn't directed his way. "What'd I tell you?"

    "You really expected me to believe the guess of a soldier who's been away from his brothers as long as you, over my own observations?" Ahsoka rolled her eyes before looking back Rex's way. "Mister Know-it-all over here said you'd be less than thrilled to meet him; way to prove him right, Rex."

    "Meeting him is fine," he growled back at her, narrowing his gaze on the interloper, "I take issue with his blatant disregard of the Regulations to manhandle you."

    "Ha!" she turned triumphantly back to Gregor. "See?"

    "So you did," Gregor's smile was mischievous; teasing, "but you also said he'd pull on me first."

    Rex didn't like the energy he could feel passing between them. He didn't understand it. All he knew was that it had to stop. Now. "Can I take him off your hands, Commander?"

    "I kinda like being in her hands."

    Ashoka blinked at Gregor's drawled comment. Even as Rex watched, her color changed gradually to a richer shade. Even the chevrons on her lekku and montrals darkened. She slowly lifted her gaze to his, blinking again, and Rex saw acute embarrassment in her eyes.

    Not thinking twice, Rex placed both hands on her shoulders and firmly, if gently, pushed her aside before getting in Gregor's face. There was steel in his tone when he spoke, his voice lethally soft. "Say anything like that to the Commander again, Captain, and Commando or not, I'll have you brought up on charges that'll land your shebs in the brig for the remainder of the war."

    "Rex." Ahsoka's hand curled around his elbow. He could just feel the pressure of her fingers on the seam between the plates. "It's okay. He's teasing."

    "He's making you uncomfortable," he countered without breaking Gregor's slightly smug gaze, "that is unacceptable."

    "Then my whole recovery must have been one hell of a learning curve," crossing his arms over his chest, Gregor broke Rex's gaze to grin at Ahsoka. "Right, Stripes?"

    "Stripes?" Incensed, Rex echoed the disrespectful moniker. Grabbing the open collar of the Commando's armor, he put all of his considerable strength into the move and slammed Gregor to the ground. In the same move, one of his blaster pistols cleared its holster and the barrel pressed against Gregor's temple.

    "Rex! No!"

    "He needs to learn some manners!"

    "He's been on his own on Abafar for who knows how long," Ahsoka countered, "what he needs, is to be reunited with his brothers."

    "What he needs is a short flight for a long stay back on Kamino!"

    "That's uncalled for," Ahsoka countered vehemently, "how can you disapprove of his unorthodox approach when you so often have your own?"

    "Don't mind me," Gregor crossed his arms under his head as Ahsoka spoke, not having put up a single ounce of resistance. "I'm just the guy with a pistol at his temple."

    "Holster it, Rex. I don't want to make it an order."

    Reluctant, and more than a little irritated, Rex flipped the safety and did as asked, releasing his grip on the Commando. "You'll address the Commander with proper respect, Captain. You're no longer on your backwater. This is the Resolute, flagship of General Skywalker's fleet-"

    "Your Master, right, Stripes?"

    "Commander Tano's Master, yes," Rex turned a hard look on Ahsoka, realizing he wouldn't get anywhere with the Commando while she was there, "he'd like you to report as soon as you can, sir. I'll see to it Captain Gregor is billeted properly."

    Ahsoka looked uncertain.

    It was that look which made Rex realize he was probably acting and looking as murderous as he felt. He swallowed it with difficulty, adopting the professionalism that was his trademark like a mask. Somehow, after taking a deep breath, he found a smile for her when all he wanted to do was knock the Commando's teeth down the back of his throat. "He'll be safe with me, Ahsoka."

    She glanced to Gregor and then back his way. "Promise me I'm not going to see either of you in the infirmary if I leave you two alone together?"

    "Not by my hand," Rex agreed immediately before turning to Gregor. "Captain?"

    "Your Rex is safe with me," something about the way Gregor said it had Rex clenching his jaw. "You gonna be around to say goodbye before I ship out, Stripes?"

    "Count on it," Ahsoka flashed Gregor what Rex considered a far too familiar smile. "Wouldn't want you leaving without one farewell from a friend, right?"

    "Right." The chords on Rex's neck stood out as Gregor returned her smile with the same, but different, kind of intensity. "Good luck with your Master."

    "The Youglings have gotten to him first. Who knows what they said about the time aboard ship. Guess I'd better go set him straight." The impish grin and wink she shot the Commando before leaving made Rex clench his hands. It was like he wasn't even on deck! "Behave, boys, and play nice."

    Rex watched her walk away for a long moment before turning to Gregor - and narrowed his eyes as Gregor's appreciative look centered somewhere in the vicinity of Ahsoka's departing, and swiftly swaying, hips. Deliberately stepping into Gregor's line of sight, he crossed his arms over his chest, frowning.
    Gregor's gaze lifted to his and the Commando arched his eyebrows, as if daring him to say something.

    Choosing to ignore the look, Rex held Gregor's gaze for another moment before dropping it to Gregor's armor. Examining it for a moment, he finally raised his eyebrows and sought confirmation. Surely he had to be wrong? "Two hundred and twelfth?"

    "When last I was assigned."

    Guess not. "Commander Cody will want to know of your survival. Have you already contacted him?"

    There was a moment as Gregor hesitated. His reply wasn't what Rex expected.

    "Who?"

    "Commander Cody. Your commanding officer?"

    "Stripes neglected to mention I'm suffering from acute amnesia, Rex,"Gregor's tone was dry, "I don't remember much. Just my training and bits and pieces of everything before crashing on Abafar."

    "I refuse to believe Commander Tano neglected to mention rules and regulations with regards to fraternization between Jedi and clones."

    "Oh, she mentioned them," to Rex's irritation, the other man grinned, "she also mentioned that you and your Company had unofficially inducted her into your ranks. Hardly regulation."

    "Hardly official," Rex countered, not enjoying having his argument thrown back at him. "I assume you have your point?"

    "You're the one who made her a part of the Trooper corps. I simply gave her a clone name to make it officially unofficial."

    Staring at Gregor, Rex blinked.

    Once.

    Slowly.

    "You- what?"

    "Gave her a clone name," Gregor pointed to his head, miming the shape of Ahsoka's montrals. "Stripes. Like on her-"

    "-lekku." Rex finished the sentence, swallowing the knot that had formed in his throat. He thought he understood now what had prompted the other man to touch her earlier. "You named her."

    Gregor shrugged. "It seemed appropriate, vod. I just finished what you'd started."

    Their gazes locked and Rex finally smiled a faint half smile. "I think you've a story or two to tell me about Ahsoka, Gregor."

    "Only if you promise to reciprocate. I don't think she's told me half of what I should know."

    "Probably not," Rex agreed, turning to lead the other man off the deck. "This way, Captain."

    "Thank you, Captain."

    Falling into step with one another, the two Captains made for the hangar deck exit without a word. There would be time for that later, comparisons to make and stories to share. For now, Rex took the measure of the man who'd been stuck with his Commander and come out of it with his good humor intact. Not only intact, but unintentionally added to Ahsoka's notoriety by giving her a clone name.

    Based on everything thus far, it was going to be an interesting discussion.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~​

    When Gregor shipped out two days later, there was no fanfare and no one to see him off. No Jedi General to offer words of advice and not a single familiar face of any of his brothers.

    His only companion was a very morose looking Togruta Jedi Padawan as they walked towards the small transport that he'd pilot alone to a location that hadn't yet been disclosed. Somehow, she'd managed to keep Rex away. While he liked the other Captain just fine, and was envious it was Rex and not himself who would remain with her to watch her back, Gregor found it was more than fitting that his only companion in this moment was Ahsoka.

    It was only the second time he'd seen her since arriving on The Resolute since being left in her capable Captain Rex's hands. Hands that were jealous and possessive and protective to a fault, buried beneath a mask of such professionalism that Gregor doubted Ahsoka knew how her Captain felt about her. Then again, Rex didn't seem to consciously know how he felt about her, but then Gregor'd suspected the other Captain's attachment to his Commander almost from the first story Ahsoka had told him about her men. How could he not when he felt the same way towards the Padawan? Spending time with Rex had been like looking in a distorted mirror.

    The experience had been… enlightening.

    Almost as enlightening as reading his own service record. Nothing had seemed familiar, for all it was nice to be back with his brothers, and he was beginning to suspect Coric the medic was right. His memory loss was likely permanent. Frustrating as that was, he couldn't lament what he didn't remember.

    Those memory gaps seems to make his new memories all the more clear and that was something to be grateful for since most of them featured the young woman at his side. Her and a series of younglings who'd become fast friends. It was a shame, but probably for the best, that they'd already been shipped back to Coruscant. One of them, Zatt he suspected, had slipped a datadisc under his door with a very brief, but heartfelt message of thanks and best wishes. The goodbye hadn't been said, but Gregor had been saddened to think he might never see the quintet again.

    "I guess this is it, huh?"

    "For now, Stripes," he agreed, his helmet under one arm as he drank in what he believed would be his last sight of her. "Aren't you Jedi supposed to know if we'll meet again?"

    "Master Yoda would say the future's always in motion," she quipped.

    "And what would you say?"

    "I'd say…" she paused and then shrugged, letting out a sigh. "I'd say I sure hope we meet again. I'm going to miss you, Gregor."

    "Surrounded by your boys and your Rex?" He tried to lighten the mood. "You won't have time to miss me."

    "It won't be the same. They won't be you."

    No, he agreed silently, they won't be. "You won't miss me any more than I'll miss you, I'm sure."

    "Not going to miss me huh?"

    Something in her expression made him smile as he reached out and gently grasped the tail end of one of her lekku. Tracing the line of the chevron deliberately, he leaned in far too close for regulation and didn't care. He wished he'd foregone his gloves but refused to let the detail interfere with this moment.

    If he wasn't going to see her again, he'd leave with a series of irreplaceable memories, this one the crown of it.

    Ahsoka didn't pull back as his forehead touched hers. Her breath caught in her throat as he lifted the tip of her lekku to his lips and gently, almost reverently, placed a lingering kiss on the supple flesh, never breaking the eye contact. "Like an aquatic misses the water, Ahsoka."

    "Gregor-"

    He pressed closer, brushing his lips across hers to silence whatever she'd been about to say. Her completely shocked silence and wide eyed stare was more than anything he could have hoped for. "Be safe, Stripes."

    With one last lingering look, he turned to go, striding to the base of the ramp. His foot had just touched the base of the ramp when his name being called had him turning to look back over his shoulders.

    "Gregor!" Ahsoka lifted one hand to her lips and blew him a kiss."For luck!"

    Playing along, he caught it. "Jedi don't believe in luck."

    "No," she agreed, "but you do. You've got my comm. in case you get into any more trouble, right?"

    With a chuckle, he nodded even as he knew he'd never use it. "I do."

    "Good, because if I find out you've gone MIA again, I'll make good on my threat."

    Which… Gregor stared at her for half a second before throwing his head back with a laugh. "I don't have to go missing for that."

    Her brow furrowed, obviously not following his train of thought. Delicious! Best they part as they'd begun anyway. He winked at her before turning back, tossing his parting shot over his shoulder as he headed up the ramp and out of her life. "Next time."

    "Wait, Gregor - what are you-"

    "You can tie me to your bed again next time, Stripes!" He activated the ramp controls, raising his voice. "I look forward to it!"

    "GREG-!"

    The hatch closed on whatever remark she'd have made in response and Gregor grinned. He didn't need to see her to know she'd be a rainbow of different, lovely hues. It was that image, juxtaposed with his first glimpse of her concerned countenance, which he'd take into his future no matter what it held.

    With Ahsoka as his talisman, The Jedi Padawan who made a habit of beating the odds, he suspected that somehow, someway, they'd beat these ones too. Their paths would cross again before long and he had every intention of being around to enjoy it.

    fin


    Author's Note: The end :D
     
  8. obsessedwithSW

    obsessedwithSW Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 24, 2005
    How can I be the only one to comment on this wonderful story? PEOPLE YOU NEED TO READ THIS NOW! I only had a slight interest in Ashoka and the clone wars but you changed that with these short stories and missing scenes from TCW. Although these stories dont usually contain alot of action they are packed with masterfully crafted character development and relationship revelations. You really should write professionally.
    [QUOTEYou- what?"

    "Gave her a clone name," Gregor pointed to his head, miming the shape of Ahsoka's montrals. "Stripes. Like on her-"

    "-lekku." Rex finished the sentence, swallowing the knot that had formed in his throat. He thought he understood now what had prompted the other man to touch her earlier. "You named her."

    Gregor shrugged. "It seemed appropriate, vod. I just finished what you'd started."

    Their gazes locked and Rex finally smiled a faint half smile. "I think you've a story or two to tell me about Ahsoka, Gregor."

    "Only if you promise to reciprocate. I don't think she's told me half of what I should know."

    "Probably not," Rex agreed, turning to lead the other man off the deck. "This way, Captain."

    "Thank you, Captain."
    ][/QUOTE]Absoulutely loved the jealousy and play between Gregor and Rex! Now am I reading this right or is the fact that Gregor named Ashoka have more meaning than even Ashoka understands? It seems that Rex's whole demeanor changed with that knowledge.
    Wonderful wonderful story Ann! Thank you!
     
  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Oh what a fun blend of on the brink of falling-mush and snark. I like Greg. Like your Rex, he has endearingness. =D= [:D]
     
    obsessedwithSW likes this.