Something was... Off. About Ahsoka. That much Anakin realized. She hadn't been sleeping well, from what he saw. She couldn't concentrate on her training, something she normally loved. She'd especially been preforming badly at blocking bolts, like she was more hesitant.
Wait. Blaster bolts. Anakin thought. Then he realized. On their last mission, they'd gone into the lab of some mad scientist that had created a new Blue Shadow Virus. At one point, Ahsoka had accidentally blocked one of the blaster bolts straight into Padme's protective suit. Padme hadn't been hurt by the bolt, but she had gotten sick from the virus. She must still feel guilty about it, Anakin mused. Of course, he and Padme had assured her that it wasn't her fault, but that probably hadn't really helped. It never helped Anakin when he felt guilty, that much was certain.
Anakin sighed. Guess we need to talk.
He knocked on the door to Ahsoka's private room. Despite the fact that they shared their quarters, there where separate bedrooms. If Ahsoka wanted to be alone for whatever reason, she was usually in there. "Ahsoka?" he called out.
"Yeah?" Ahsoka called back.
"Can you come out? We need to talk."
Anakin didn't get a reply, but he heard shuffling as the 14-year old girl moved towards the door. With a soft woosh, the door opened. Anakin could tell that Ahsoka had done her best to look normal, but he could see the bags under her eyes. Definitely hasn't been sleeping well.
"What is it, master?" Ahsoka asked.
"Are you alright, Ahsoka?" Anakin asked. "And for the love of the Force, please give me an honest answer."
"I'm fine" Ahsoka responded. An obvious lie, but Anakin decided that telling her as much wasn't the right approach.
"You haven't been performing well at training" Anakin said.
"I-I'm sorry master, I'll do better I swear, I don't know what's wrong with me, I always mess it up, I-"
"Ahsoka!" Anakin interrupted her panicked speech. The girl in question fell silent. "It's okay." He heard her sigh audibly. "I know you haven't been sleeping well, lately. Despite your best attempts to hide it from me." He smirked, hoping to inject some humour into the conversation.
"I'm sorry, master" Ahsoka said. Her voice seemed sad. Well that failed miserably, Anakin thought.
"Why can't you sleep?" Anakin asked. He knew the answer already, but it was better if Ahsoka just told him.
She sighed. "I don't know, my body just refuses to fall asleep."
"Are you still feeling guilty about what happened?" Anakin asked.
"No!" Ahsoka said defensively. Then she turned quiet. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have snapped like that."
"Its okay" Anakin said. "But, are you? Honest answer this time."
"...yes" Ahsoka said, her voice quiet.
Anakin sighed deeply. "What can I do to show you that it isn't your fault?"
"It is my fault!" Ahsoka snapped. I knew she was there, I could've deflected that bolt anywhere else, but I hit her! Why can't I just... Just.." she fell quiet again. "Why can't I just do anything right?"
Anakin put his hand on Ahsoka's shoulder. "That's not true, Ahsoka." Anakin said. "Your abilities as a Jedi are great! You're the best padawan I could've ever asked for. I care about you, Ahsoka, and I hate to see you so down on yourself. And so does Padme, I'm sure of it." Anakin then pulled Ahsoka into his arms in a comforting hug.
Shock echoed through their bond when Anakin embraced Ahsoka. He held her head against his chest, stroking her back lekku. He remembered his mother stroking his hair when he was upset, and hoped that what he was doing had a similar effect.
Suddenly, and unexpectedly, the girl's body shook. Is she-?
Anakin suspicions where confirmed when he heard a small noise. Ahsoka was sobbing.
Anakin was shocked. He'd never actually seen Ahsoka cry. Not even what happened on Ryloth. She'd been sad there, and disappointed in herself. But she hadn't cried, despite having every reason to. Did I do something wrong? Anakin asked himself. Maybe hugging her wasn't a good idea? He tried to separate himself from Ahsoka, but she clung on for dear life. That's not it, then.
"I-I-I'm sorry" Ahsoka said.
"It's alright, snips" Anakin responded. Many master's would scold their padawans for such a display of emotions, but not Anakin. He felt that the Jedi where to strict when it came to emotions.
"I'm a failure" Ahsoka said. "I shouldn't-"
"You're not a failure, Ahsoka" Anakin said. "You're the sweetest, nicest, most caring person I know. You're so compassionate. You always do the right thing, even if it isn't easy. You are a great Jedi, Ahsoka. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Not even yourself. Showing emotions is not a weakness, it proves that you care."
"Y-you really m-mean that?" Ahsoka asked.
"Of course I do, snips." Anakin said. "I would never lie to you like that. I should tell you more often." He was quiet for a moment. "Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?"
"Just... Hold me, please" Ahsoka said. Her voice was small, almost shy. "I can't remember the last time anyone held me like that."
"Of course, Snips" Anakin said. He embraced her again, stroking her back lekku with his gloved right hand. Ahsoka seemed to melt into his embrace. "You're the best padawan I could ever ask for."
"Something's bothering you." Padme stated. After Ahsoka had gone to sleep, Anakin had decided to go see his wife. They where sat together on the couch, Padme resting in Anakin's lap.
Anakin sighed deeply. "It's nothing" he said.
"Ani, I know you well enough to know when something's going on." Padme said. And clearly, something's going on right now."
Anakin sighed again. "It's Ahsoka."
"Is she still feeling guilty about what happened?" Padme asked.
"Yeah, she's lost sleep over it." Anakin said. "But that's not what's bothering me. Not really, anyway."
"Then what is it?" Padme inquired.
"She said that she always messed up, and I told her what I felt about it, how she is a great padawan. Then I hugged her, since she clearly needed it." Anakin fell quiet again. "She cried. I hadn't heard her cry before. Not even that time she lost her entire squad. But she cried, simply because I hugged her. I don't... I just don't understand. Did I do something wrong?"
"You didn't do anything wrong, Ani." Padme reassured him. "Did she say anything else?"
"She felt that she was a failure for showing emotions around me." Anakin said. "She shouldn't feel bad for it, I've told her as much." He sighed again. Then he remembered something. "She also said that she couldn't remember the last time someone had hugged her."
Padme's eyes widened in shock. "Is that true?" Anakin nodded. "Why?"
"Probably because the Jedi are so scared of attachment." Anakin said.
"That's terrible!" Padme exclaimed.
"I know, angel" Anakin replied.
"The poor girl is probably touch-starved" Padme continued.
"Touch-starved?" Anakin questioned. "Is that a real thing?"
"It is" Padme responded. "It's a thing that can happen in most social species."
Anakin sighed once more. "What can I do to help her?"
Padme smiled at her husband's eagerness to help Ahsoka. Always looking out for other people, she thought.
"Simple, really. You hug her, as often as you can. And you tell her how wonderful she is."
Anakin smiled back. "I think I can do that."
So yeah. Touch-starved Ahsoka.
That's kinda sad.
Anyway, I sincerely hope you enjoyed. As always, tips and reviews are appreciated, and have a good day!