Clone Wars has just swept me away all over again and somehow, it's even better than I remember it as a kid. So I'm just writing as inspiration strikes as I rewatch the entire thing.
This particular piece was actually inspired by the ending of Rise of Skywalker (I laughed way too hard at all the "serious" moments in that movie). I won't give spoilers on which scene exactly it was, but it's a reunion, and the ones who are reuniting thought they'd lost each other and they're crying and holding on as tight as they can and it just gave me some serious feels.
So, here you go.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own any recognizable characters.
SPOILERS: Ending of Episode VI, Return of the Jedi.
WARNINGS: Lots of emotion. This one's pretty intense, guys.
Bittersweet, perfect moment of mourning and joy.
Remembering and celebrating.
Ahsoka can feel it.
She can feel the black hole of the Emperor's presence blink out into nothing. She can feel the Light that explodes out after his Darkness is finally, finally, finally cast into the void where it belongs.
She stumbles, her lightsabers falling from her hands as she stares up at the sky, her heart screaming in hope and pain and desperation as she blasts apart her own shields, so carefully constructed over the last seventeen years to make herself absolutely invisible, untraceable, unnoticeable. She tumbles headfirst into the Force, casting herself as far into the sky as she can reach, searching.
Rex is shouting.
Searching for one whose soul she knows as well as her own.
Cody grabs her shoulder, shaking her roughly.
Searching for one she'd lost.
Hunter skids to a stop in front of her, his blade raised protectively against the still approaching stormtroopers.
She feels Echo's back press against her own.
And then she finds him.
Anakin Skywalker slams into her with all the force of a Star Cruiser catapulting through hyperspace.
She crashes to her knees, tears streaming down her face, arms wrapping around her stomach, but eyes still locked onto the stars.
Her Master, her brother, her friend is here. He is back, he is here, he is back. He is all kinds of hurt and broken, so dark still, but oh, his Light is so much stronger.
She throws her head back, fist raised high, and howls, loud and vicious and overwhelmingly happy and victorious because he is back.
Anakin swamps what is left of their bond with all his grief and guilt and overwhelming relief that she is still alive, that she's made it. He is so proud of her, so grateful for all she's done for his children. He is an absolute mess, a whirlpool of chaotic emotion that is so far from their old mantra (There is no emotion, there is peace, there is no passion, there is serenity, there is no Death, there is the Force) that she can't tell what she is feeling and what he is feeling.
She throws herself into the bond with a reckless abandon that would have had Obi-Wan rubbing the bridge of his nose and trying not to sigh.
Anakin's pain at the thought pierces through her chest like his lightsaber had Obi-Wan's and she closes her eyes, sending him as much forgiveness as she can muster. She can forgive him anything, she thinks, right here. Right now, he is so alive and himself that she can forgive him anything.
Anything at all, as long as he stays.
As long as he stays.
"Is it—is he—did they—?" Cody seems to be more aware of what is happening than the others, which really doesn't surprise her.
"They did it," she chokes, staggering to her feet, still staring at the sky with uncontrollable tears flooding down her cheeks like a river, washing away a thousand years of pain and loss and loneliness. "Palpatine is dead. Anakin…Anakin, Anakin, he's back, Rex, he's back…"
She is sobbing hysterically, nearly collapsing again as Anakin floods her mind with all the love he holds for her. Rex catches her, his arms tightening to the point of bruising around her waist and she really doesn't care. She just buries her face in his shoulder and screams again, no other way to get out all the agonizing, beautiful, broken things swirling uncontrollably in her chest. Her knees give out and Echo crashes into her back, trapping her against Rex and keeping her upright.
"Commander?!" Her gentlest vod's voice is tight and high with fear and desperate hope.
She's scaring her boys, she realizes, their fear crashing into her from all sides.
Who? Anakin demands, his own hope nearly sweeping her away as he realizes that some of their men are still with her, that she found them.
Rex. Cody. Echo. Hunter. Wrecker. Crosshair. Tech. Kix. Helix. Boil. As many as I could find.
Her Master's joy overwhelms her and she sobs brokenly as it pours over the edges of her mind, flowing into each trooper's head with a warmth and safety and protection none of them have felt in over seventeen years. She can feel them staggering, she and Rex and Echo nearly fall, and choked cries of grieving joy rise from each of them.
They've missed their General.
Something is wrong.
He is leaving.
He is leaving.
"No," she croaks, shoving away from her boys and staggering a few steps, vertebrae cracking under the weight of yet another sky full of grief. "No, no, you can't…"
"Can't what?" Hunter says sharply, dropping his blade to grab her arm when she nearly falls again. "Who? What's happening, Commander?"
"No, please, no, I can't," she begs, Anakin shushing her, pushing comfort and peace and acceptance through their bond. "No!"
"It's the General," Rex says in a horrible, flat voice. His pistols drop from suddenly numb fingers, and he sways sharply, nearly falling into Cody. "It's the General. He's going, isn't he?"
"He can't. He can't, I won't—You can't!" she screams at the sky. "YOU DON'T GET TO DO THIS! YOU DON'T GET TO COME BACK AND THEN JUST LEAVE! YOU DON'T GET TO DO THIS!"
So sorry…Can't stay. I'm so sorry, Ahsoka. I don't want to…
"I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU WANT!" she howls at the sky, not giving a single kriff about the attention she is attracting from Rebel and stormtrooper alike.
Cody is shouting something into his comm and she doesn't think she's ever heard him sound so angry but she can't even understand his words under the weight of her desperate fury and the air-trembling power behind her own cries.
"YOU'RE STAYING! YOU'VE BEEN GONE FOR TOO LONG; YOU DON'T GET TO LEAVE AGAIN!" she screams, fingers clutching at her montrals as desperation begins to set in. She is so far away from where he is… "I WON'T LET YOU!"
His response doesn't have words, just a rush of sorrow, understanding, pleading.
She doesn't want him to be at peace.
She wants him to fight.
"Sir!" Cody has her by both shoulders. "Sir, incoming fighter! X-wing. All yours, we're clearing a lane to the battle station!"
She stares at him, uncomprehending, and his eyes go firm. He shakes her, hard.
"Ahsoka! Are you able to fly?"
"Able to fly?" she gets out, some tiny part of her incredibly offended by the question. "Are you seriously asking meif I, apprentice to Anakin Skywalker, is able to—?!"
"Yes, she's clear!" Cody snaps over his shoulder to Kix. The Commander grips her bicep and hauls her after him as he starts back towards the Imperial base. Her boys close around her in a protective circle, moving at a dead run through a forest still rife with stormtroopers.
She keeps pace, still pouring all of her attention and focus into her Master.
Don't you dare.
Don't you dare.
Don't you dare.
Don't you dare.
Don't you dare.
It is all she can think.
He is trying to hold on, she can feel it, but he is slipping so fast…
Then there is another Light, and she nearly trips over her own two feet as—oh, Luke, you brilliant boy!—starts pouring his strength into his father.
Normally, Ahsoka has a very strong set of morals. Force-bonds are tricky, and it takes a great deal of trust to be allowed into another's mind. Normally, she is extremely considerate of the etiquette of such things and would never take such liberties without permission.
This is not a normal situation, and so she does not feel even the slightest bit guilty at the ease with which she tears past Luke's shields, not even giving him a chance to be alarmed before she slams all of her power into his, boosting his healing abilities with techniques and skills he's never even heard of.
She is utterly unaware of the world around her, relying entirely on Cody and her boys to get her wherever it is they are going. Cody had said something about a ship, and clear lanes, and really, she doesn't care if the lanes are clear or not, she has yet to encounter a single Imperial pilot who can get within fourteen parsecs of her skills in a fighter, she is getting to her Master.
"Here! Ahsoka, here!" Cody shakes her, knocking her out of her light trance. But she has a solid foothold in Luke's mind now, and he's not trying to kick her out. He knows she's helping, even if he has no idea who she is.
She opens her eyes again.
For a long second, she isn't seeing the X-wing before her, the cold durasteel Imperial base behind it, the verdant forests of Endor.
She is seeing blaring red lights, hearing screaming klaxons. Imperial officers and stormtroopers are running past, giving her wide-eyed looks of subdued panic.
Not me, she realizes swiftly as she sways, and her vision returns to the forest. Luke. They're on their way to the main hangar.
Wrecker laces his hands together and she leaps into them. He catapults her up into the cockpit, and she is lifting off before she's even fully closed the hatch. She instantly pushes the craft to its highest possible speed and takes off for the Death Star.
Anakin is fading again, and she closes her eyes, allowing herself to fall into the Force. She plunges back into her impromptu connection with Luke, once more offering her power and healing. She is dimly aware of her hands moving, piloting the ship at impossible speeds with impossible accuracy, but she is unaware of it at the same time.
Anakin is still there, a deep, warm, vibrant presence.
So very Light.
She doesn't remember landing the fighter, but apparently, she does it well, as nothing seems to be on fire when her eyes snap open once more.
They are close.
They are very close.
She falls when she jumps down, onto her knees, scrambles up, keeps running.
She's still crying, she realizes, as she dashes a hand across her face and it comes away wet.
She can't decide if she's awake or dreaming.
Stormtroopers and officers alike are throwing themselves out of her way, hands up in surrender, but she doesn't care about them, where is her Master?!
She's almost reached the end of the hangar when she sees the shuttle.
It's primed and ready to go and yet none of the others who are fleeing are going anywhere near it.
It's mine,Anakin whispers, looking through her eyes, and she speeds up, leaping clear over a hapless deck officer trying to organize a somewhat orderly evacuation.
She's almost there.
A door swooshes open just on the other side of the shuttle.
A slender young man stumbles in, a menacing figure in all black draped over his shoulders. They are staggering.
Her heart pounds in her chest, so hard she thinks it's going to burst.
"ANAKIN!" she screams it, and his whole body jerks towards her.
He pushes free of his son's grip, much to Luke's shock. Then her Master throws himself forwards, manages three steps on his own and then she's there.
And then he's there.
She's not dreaming.
They're reeling about in a circle, all twisted up with each other, and they're going to fall and he can't seem to speak and she can't seem to stop, half-howling his name on a shattered loop, unable to let go of him.
He reeks of ozone and there are burns and melted bits of hardware all over him, little sparks still lighting in his chest-area, and she wants to scream all over again at how destroyed he is.
But he's so bright and alive in her mind, even stronger now that she can touch him again.
Their bond is lit up like a supernova, and every last shred of darkness she possesses is burned out of her with a love so all-encompassing her legs fold underneath her.
They crash onto the ramp of the shuttle in a most undignified way, and Anakin hauls her onto his lap and crushes her to his chest, his voice cutting through every other emotion twisting her inside out.
She starts laughing. She can't stop, tears pouring down her face as she pulls herself closer, as though she can bond herself to his armor, keep him alive with her own life.
She's done it before, she is absolutely willing to do it again.
And this time she has help.
"Hey, Skyguy," she chokes out, leaning back and catching his helmet between her hands, leaning her forehead against his. "You idiot. You di'kutla shabuir."
His laugh is an awful thing, strangled out by his modulator, and it's the most beautiful sound she's ever heard in her life. "Ne ceta, Snips."
"You better be," she whispers, crumpling into his hold again.
He lets out a truly alarming wheeze and she twists around him until his shoulders and head are in her lap. She goes to work on his helmet, feeling out the clasps and fastenings.
"No, he'll die!" Luke cries out, falling to his knees on the other side and reaching to stop her.
"No," she corrects him sharply. "He won't."
"Ahsoka," Anakin says softly, and she pounds her fist into his chest none-too-gently.
"No," she snarls, sharp teeth bared and all fury and wrath and savage desperation. "I don't care what you think, and I don't care what you want. You don't get to leave now."
"I've made my peace with it," he whispers.
"I DON'T CARE!" she shouts, ripping his helmet off and hurling it as far as she can. She grabs his face, tearing past his last few mental shields and cramming the healing down his throat. "I don't want you to be at peace, I want you to fight!"
He's blinking up at her with very wide, very blue eyes, and everything in the vicinity of her heart shatters because the last time she saw those eyes they were as red as a dying star and they burned with just as much fury.
His mutilated skin is beginning to mend before their eyes beneath her undivided, unconditional efforts, and that's before Ahsoka blindly reaches out, latching onto Luke's mind and dragging him into it with her. She grits her teeth and snarls as Anakin tries to resist, buckling down with all of her not-insignificant power, all of her balance, all of her Light and Shadow.
He may be the Chosen One, but she has dwealt in the space between far longer than he has and she knows exactly how far she can depend on her rage before she must cede to her compassion.
She is so angry at him that she hates him, and she hates him so much because she loves him even more.
It is this that will save him.
She jerks in place as Obi-Wan's voice cracks over her as though he stood beside her.
Ahsoka, the Death Star is going to explode! You have to go!
She can't see him but she can feel him, all broken edges sharpened by grief and guilt and despair, smoothed over by love and hope.
He is there, right behind her.
She can feel him, and she can feel what he's holding back.
There are other presences behind him, and they, too, are familiar.
But they are not so safe.
They are angry.
Not at her, no.
But at what she intends to do.
She's never been as connected to the Force as she is at this moment, woven into it between two Skywalkers who have changed the fate of the Galaxy so many times she cannot even begin to count them.
As deep down as she is, she can see their desires clearly.
They would have her let him go, watch him fade.
She is not willing to do this.
Obi-Wan is not going to let them make her.
He is protecting them. Her, and Anakin, and Luke.
As he always has.
She thinks Luke heard him as well, as the boy scrambles to his feet alongside her. Together, they haul Anakin into the shuttle, and Ahsoka shoves Luke down on the ground beside his father, pinning him there with fervent eyes until he nods, gripping Anakin's arm firmly and closing his eyes, sinking once more into the Force.
She bolts into the cockpit, reaching out to the ship's engines and pleading with them to start up, for the ship to begin to rise, begin to fly, long before she reaches the pilot's seat.
A warm presence sweeps in beside her, flicking switches with ease and expertise, and a flash of a dark-haired Knight with a lopsided smile darts before her eyes.
Obi-Wan is still there, still a shield between her and the others, so this is one he chose to let by.
She knows who it is.
Garen Muln is still one of the best pilots she's ever seen, second only to her Master.
By the time she reaches the pilot's seat, the ship is already blasting out of the hangar. She takes the controls and Garen brushes against her with all of his hope.
Ahsoka reaches back to Luke, and they meld their signatures, focusing on Anakin once more.
Another presence is there, then, and this one, too, is safe and familiar and loved.
Master Healer Bant Earin wraps her forgiveness around Anakin like an impenetrable ray shield and floods him with her will for him to live. Vokara Che is only heartbeats behind her with her infinite patience and Ahsoka doubles over the controls and cries as Luminara's peace is suddenly at her back, and Master Plo's warmth kneels at her side, wrapping around her and his love soothing her to her soul as he tries to wipe away her tears.
She loses her grasp on the controls and Garen is there again, guiding them safely towards the moon.
She throws herself out of her seat, clutching at herself as though she can embrace Master Plo as she used to. She nearly falls and Shaak Ti catches her elbows, their foreheads meeting in traditional Togruta greeting.
Ahsoka reels her way back to Anakin, her tears running constant and uncontrollable. She can't see any of them, not with her eyes. But she can feel them. She knows they're there.
Luke's eyes are very, very wide, his wonder and awe so innocent that she starts laughing. She crumbles to the floor next to him, taking Anakin's head in her lap and bending over him, clinging tight and begging her family with all that she is to let him stay.
Please let him stay.
Obi-Wan is there suddenly, his arms impossibly real, impossibly there, one arm around her tight and the other pressed to Anakin's chest.
Anakin's scars are fading much faster now.
Ahsoka can feel Obi-Wan's grief and his guilt and his joy and his love, and oh, Anakin, how could you ever have thought he didn't love us with everything that he has?
She manages a brief flicker of thought for who is holding the others back now, and Quinlan Vos's bright, hard, mischievous eyes have built an absolute fortress around them, aided by the echoes of Kit Fisto's laughter and Aayla Secura's unwavering loyalty, and someone else's strength. Someone she's never met but knows regardless by the way he surrounds Obi-Wan with fierce protectiveness. Qui-Gon Jinn will not repeat his mistakes.
She closes her eyes and she begs, again.
Let him stay.
Let him stay.
Please let him stay with me.
Please don't leave me alone.
Please don't leave me alone.
Don't make me the last one.
It's very, very slow, but it happens.
Mace Windu's justice begins to ease away, and Yoda's righteous anger goes with it. Ki-Adi's indignance and Eeth Koth's betrayal seep out into the Force and are swept away beyond reach. Jocasta Nu's wrath and Saesee Tiin's grief and Stass Allie's pain are swept and sanded until all the broken pieces are smooth again.
Ahsoka kneels there on the cold metal floor of the shuttle and clings to her Master with all her heart and strength and just breathes as her Order, her entire family, kneel together around her and they, quite simply, love.
Their anger is gone and their pain swept away and their betrayal forgiven, for they failed each other.
No one soul is to blame.
And so they reach out and they mend what they have torn apart.
She can see them now.
Their eyes and their smiles, hear their laughter and their voices.
They are warm as they surround them, as they press shoulder to shoulder, squeeze hands and kiss foreheads. They are as she remembers them from long ago, before the war. Quinlan's smile is full of light and peace, and Yoda's ears are perked with joy. Master Windu's wrinkles are made of laughter lines and Obi-Wan's eyes hold no grief.
They take her pain as they take Anakin's and they send it so far she can no longer feel it, for she is no longer alone. Her darkness is flooded by pure, simple, light, and her grief is obliterated in the face of how much she is loved.
Her tears still fall, but they are wiped away by her Grandmaster as her Master's wounds are mended before her eyes.
He is going to live, Little One, Obi-Wan whispers, his own tears dissipating into nothing as they drop towards the floor like falling stars. You are both going to live.
She closes her eyes and leans into him as much as she can and she feels them.
For the first time in seventeen years, Ahsoka Tano is not the last Jedi.
When they leave it is gradual.
She has time to say goodbye, this time.
She cannot find the words, but she does not need to, for it is not truly goodbye.
Her people smile at her, and they are at peace, and just because she can no longer see them does not mean she can no longer feel them.
They are still with her, and she knows it.
Obi-Wan is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the last to go.
He takes her face in his hands and presses a kiss to her brow.
You are never alone, Ahsoka, he tells her, and his eyes shine.
She doesn't know how she hasn't run out of tears yet, but somehow two more make their way down her cheeks.
He brushes them away and encloses her in his arms, holding her tight, as though she were still a youngling.
Our wonderful, brilliant, beloved Padawan, he whispers, and she chokes out a laugh. We will always be here for you. Never doubt that you are loved, dear one. Never.
"I won't," she whispers, her voice cracking. "I promise."
She keeps her eyes closed as her arms slowly close around nothing.
She stays like that, arms wrapped around herself, for a long moment before she sniffs and sits up.
She opens her eyes.
Luke is gaping at her, mouth open and clear signs of tears on his face.
"Were those…" he whispers. His voice is raw.
She nods, finding herself unable to speak.
She looks back down at Anakin and very nearly bursts into tears all over again because he looks like himself.
His scars are gone.
His breathing is easy.
She breathes out, shakily, leaning forward to pry off the last pieces of his modulator and breathing apparatus.
When she's done, Luke helps her haul him into the cockpit. They get him into a seat and stay on the floor in front of him, each clasping a hand.
They sit there for several minutes.
"We should probably head back to the base," she says finally, dimly aware that they're just drifting above Endor as Garen is no longer piloting, having returned to the Force with the rest of them.
"Yeah," Luke whispers. "Probably."
They're about to get up and move when Anakin squeezes Luke's hand.
Both of them choke on their own air, clutching his hands tighter and leaning forwards in anticipation.
"Anakin?" Ahsoka whispers. "Can you hear me?"
Slowly—slowly—bright blue eyes crack open.
"Snips?" Anakin whispers.
It's his voice.
It's his real voice.
Ahsoka thinks she's going to cry again.
"Master," she whispers. "I'm here."
"Luke?" Anakin's eyes turn to his son and instantly flood with tears. "You're safe."
"You saved me," Luke nods, smiling so brightly.
"I think it's the other way 'round, kid," Anakin laughs, his own eyes welling with tears.
Next thing Ahsoka knows, all three of them are in a pile on the floor, their Force signatures intertwining in such a knot she has no idea where she starts and they end.
She really doesn't care, because somehow they're alive.
Somehow they made it.
And somehow, they're not alone anymore.
She doesn't remember landing the shuttle.
She doesn't remember the frantic shouts of her and Luke's names.
She doesn't remember the shuttle being physically pried open because none of the three of them think to move and actually let down the ramp for their friends.
But she feels Rex and Cody stagger to a halt. She feels Echo, Boil, and the others slam on the brakes behind them. All her boys. She feels their disbelief, their agonized, grieving, overwhelmed joy when they see their General.
They join them on the floor in a torrent of tears and curses and shouts. Anakin is crying, and so is she and every last one of her vode, no matter how much they'll deny it later. There are running footsteps and then Leia throws herself at Luke, dragging Han down with her.
Anakin is showering teary kisses over his children's hair, and they're clinging onto him just as tight and Ahsoka just holds on as tight as she can to whoever she can get ahold of and breathes.
At some point in the maelstrom of overjoyed agony, Anakin reaches out for her, tugs her to him by the back of her neck and presses his forehead to hers.
"I'm here," he says, his voice shaking but so strong. "I'm staying. I have you."
"And I have you," she answers.
"Thank the Force for that," he says.
And Ahsoka laughs.
"Face it," she says, and Rex chokes out a laugh behind her, already knowing what she's going to say. "You're stuck with me, Skyguy."
Anakin's entire face lights up.
Ahsoka is now pinned between Rex and Anakin, Cody's grip on her wrist made her lose feeling in her fingers a long time ago, Echo's knee is lodged firmly in her kidneys, and one of her legs is somehow hooked over Boil's shoulder. She is so incredibly uncomfortable and happier than she can ever remember being in her entire life.
Because they are alive.
Because they made it.
Because they won.
She can still feel their family, beyond her sight but never beyond her heart.
She closes her eyes and sees the sun rising above the Temple.
She sees the Younglings running in the Gardens, laughing and shouting and playing.
She sees Waxer and Gregor and Hardcase and Fives and Jesse.
She sees Rex and Cody and the 212th and the 501st, so strong and proud in their gold and blue.
She sees Anakin joking and laughing with his men—with his brothers.
She sees Obi-Wan's wide, peaceful smile, his eyes warm with his love for them all.
She sees Padme, her beautiful smile that could put the stars to shame.
She sees herself, sixteen standard years old and so sure she could take on the entire Galaxy and win.
She opens her eyes.
And for the first time in seventeen years, Ahsoka Tano realizes she can stop running.
And for the first time in seventeen years, Ahsoka Tano realizes she is safe.
And for the first time in seventeen long, aching, broken, grieving, painful, long years, Ahsoka Tano realizes that she is finally, finally, home.
So she presses back against Rex's chest and squeezes Cody's hand and lets her head fall on Anakin's shoulder.
And Ahsoka can feel it.
She can feel the Light pulsing out through the universe, mending the balance, brightening the darkest corners of the farthest reaches of space.
(She remembers a planet that does not exist, tastes stardust on the back of her tongue, sees Light and Dark, Daughter and Son, brought to balance, to control, to peace, home)
She feels the Darkness fade away and the Morning dawn, bringing even the farthest, most broken heart home to healing at last.
I am super pleased with this piece, guys!
I cried while I was writing it, and I listened to "Burying the Dead: It's Over Now" by Samuel Kim on YouTube on repeat the entire time and yeah.
But I hope you enjoyed it! And keep an eye out, because I have several other little AUs and oneshots based on Clone Wars coming up in the next little bit.
See you next time!