Hands of Time

Chapter One - Given Today

A/N: Dude! It's been a lifetime since I've written a Star Wars: The Clone Wars story! I'm so excited! I hope you'll give the first chapter a chance and in the end, tell me what you thought of it! This is for all of you that miss the early-day Rex/Ahsoka fics! Thanks and enjoy!

"Ahsoka Tano."

Those two simple, and all too familiar, words rang like insanely annoying bells in my ears. I was overjoyed to hear my name finally being called out, yet it was intoxicating; I was afraid. As trained, I stood up from the wooden bench, squeezed my slim form past the bundles of knees poking out in my path, and stepped out into the clear hallway. It was a breath of fresh air to be walking down the long, yet increasingly small red carpet. The atmosphere was different around me surprisingly enough, though. As a living being, my instincts wanted me to avoid the one hundred plus glances I was receiving, but I was just so excited I couldn't react fast enough with the right amount of will to look away.

I watched as smiles were given, nods, a few scowls, and even a thumbs up. Sitting two rows ahead of where I resided was Barris; sweet Barris. I had known her for almost three years. It had been a perfect friendship; it still is, in fact. Her bright and perfect teeth were shown immediately when her dainty lips parts into a wide grin, pressing her cheeks together, causing here eyes to decrease into slits. I returned the gesture and continued forward on my long walk to a bright and successful future.

My heels made a light patter with each step I took, closing the distance between me and the large desk sitting almost twenty feet above the ground. It was made of beautiful oak, hinted with a shade of moss green around the edges. Gold had been plated on the tops and sides of the large structure. A long, elegant drapery hung directly from the center of the over-sized podium colored in crimson red with Jedi symbol decorating the middle. I was nearly there. I, Ahsoka Tano, of the Togruta people, was about to stand where my peers before me stood, minutes before.

My heart began to pound beneath my chest.

Ten more steps.

I could feel my face growing in temperature, the blush radiating off of my cheeks.

Eight more steps.

Embarrassing enough to say, I could feel tiny droplets of sweat gathering on top of my lip.

Six more steps.

My eyes went crazy while gazing off to the sides; all of my friends were watching me with eagerness.

Four steps.

Slowly, the strength in my knees were giving way.

Two steps.

Suddenly, everything was at peace.

I bowed in respect of my elders. While Master Windu read the opening lines of his speech he gave to every pupil, I made eye contact with every single member of the Jedi Council; each of them shared an individual bond with me. Master Yoda was sitting comfortably in front of me, center stage. He and I had never had any missions together, but we've swapped dialogue here and there when I was younger. I especially adored him because no matter what he said or how he said it, he made me laugh. He was wise and though we are encouraged not to love, he desplayed his compassion for his friends and students every day.

To Yoda's right sat Aayla Secura, Luminara Unduli, and Obi-Wan. Aayla Secura, though she was insure of me at first when I crashed that bucket of bolts on the uncharted planet so long ago, I had always admired her for her utmost display of strength. She was quiet and yet so confident, not only in herself, but always in others. She encouraged her troops and she has inspired me. When her gaze met mine, a smile that I'd fought so hard to achieve was given to me almost instantly. It wasn't forced either, it was beautiful. I made a mental note to thank her later.

Luminara Unduli always thought of me to be Sky Guy's twin in female form. To this day, I still agree with her. Over anything else I've considered her, she has grown to be a mother in my life. She's nurtured me back to health, taught me right from wrong, and she's even given me advise from time to time. Her polite attitude and seriousness always got the best of me though. That's something I'll never be able to shake; nevertheless, I'll never forget her.

Obi-Wan. Dear Obi-Wan. Though he wasn't my master, I've often caught myself wondering what my life would have been like if Anakin had decided not to take me under his wing. I can tell you one thing, day to day schedules would be a lot less...reckless. Still, he was there when I needed him and he respected me as long as I did the same. It was a silent, almost undetectable bond we shared. It couldn't be shaken. It would be forever hidden between the two of us.

To left of Master Yoda was Mace Windu, Kit Fisto, and Shaak Ti. Mace Windu was always a mystery to me. I silently thank him on my boring days because he's a puzzle that I'm still trying to figure out. Kit Fisto, legendary for his happiness and skill with a lightsaber fascinates me. Whenever he'd smile at me in the Jedi Temple, I would always feel butterflies in my stomach because of how welcoming it had seemed to me; I can still feel them through the memories of it.

Finally, Shaak Ti. I could feel my smile fade, only slightly though, because of what memories she brought along with her whenever I would lay eyes upon her. She was the only other person I had ever seen of my kind. She may not know, and might never find out that she's a spitting image of who I want to become. I've always been afraid to talk to her in person. Why? I couldn't tell you even if you gave me all of the time in the world to think about it. I hoped to become like her one day.

"Agree, do you, Padawan Tano?"

I was immediately snapped out of my thoughts. Jerking me head skyward, I gave Master Yoda a questioning look before cutting my eyes to the corner of the room. Anakin, my beloved master, was frantically nodding.

I smiled, taking a deep breath, and said, "Of course."

A trilling spit of laughter erected from the small green life-form before he took his wooden staff and clanked it against the wooden podium. I had waited for this moment my entire life. In just a brief second, my Master, Anakin Skywalker, stood before me with a platinum medallion dangling loosely around his fingertips. Butterflies gathering once again in my stomach, I slowly bowed, closing my eyes. I wanted to feel victory, not see it. Like I had imagined, the medallion dropped onto my neck, allowing me to feel its magnificent weight.

With glistening eyes, I looked up to my superior and smiled. He returned a small grin. I was almost taken back by this, but I didn't let it show. He seemed sad and remorseful.

Just before he returned to where he resided in the corner along with the other Jedi Knights, Anakin whispered briefly, "I'm proud of you, Snips."

Like a crack of thunder, a tremendous round of applause shook the Jedi Temple with whistles and loud roars. I was the last student to be called up. Amidst the applause, Aayla Secure gracefully rose her hands into the air, signalling for the former Padawans to rise to their feet. We were the graduates of the 517 generation of Jedi Knights. I could hardly believe it! I was finally here! It was so unreal! This reality had not yet sunk into my mind yet.

Before I knew it, I was standing in my own private quarters, having being congratulated by my friends, Jedi and clone alike. Taking a deep breath, I examined my room. It was small, yet spacey. Three heavy curtains blocked the beams of sunlight begging to over through the vicinity. I frolicked over to the windows and pushed the curtains away in one swift motion. All at once, a flood of yellow rays shone brightly in my face and all around me. I couldn't help but feel free with an overwhelming sense of joy and finally...happiness.

The digital numbers glowed a brilliant red in the corner of my steel dresser. As if seconds had gone by, the sunset had already come to pass. The great moons around Corausant had risen and the faint shimmer of moonlight lit my room abode. I hadn't flipped on the light yet, so I was twirling in the dark, still giddy from the events that took place earlier. I, Ashoka Tano, a Jedi Knight of the Grand Republic, was attending the ceremonial emporium. Or as the clones called it, simply a dance. Similar to a High School dance, just...better. I reasoned with myself on what I should possibly wear, but without a mother figure in most of my life, I wasn't sure what looked decent and what looked shabby.

Pressing my cold fingertips against the well designed fabric, I was torn between a ivory, green dress and a crimson red gown that barely scraped across my knees, one shoulder, and a tight, yet flowy fit. When I was fan out in a circle, it would mimic my moves. However, I wondered if it was too revealing. Shaking my bones within my skin, scaring the ever living day-lights out of me, I shivery knock buzzed at my door. I frantically picked up the scattered dresses among my room, shoving them underneath my bunk.

"Just a minute," I scrambled across my room, just one last time before answering the call at my door.

"Ahsoka," trilled a soft voice, soothing to any man who heard it. Relaxing, I took a deep breath.

"Padme, you scared me," I smiled, leaning to the side so she could pass me and enter my room. Padme silently thanked me. I stood there, slightly awkward, with my hands behind my back and toes curling up and down, adding a few inches to my height. Finally, in one last satisfying observation of my small, lightly cluttered quarters, she turned to me, hands on hips.

"Is that what you're planning to where at the ceremonial emporium?" she asked, eyebrows lifted in curiosity. I looked at my dress, jaws ajar in embarrassment. Feeling my cheeks grow a hot red, I felt my balance slowly drifting away. I smiled widely and nodded.

"Yeah, I think I like this one the best. Do you-" I cleared my throat, "Do you, uh, like it?" She approached me, placing her hands on my shoulders.

"I love it. Truly brings out the color in your eyes," Padme, the most inspirational woman I'd ever met, said.

She has been the closest thing I've had to a mother.

"Do you really think so? I was thinking about wearing the green one, but..."I stopped myself when I passed the body-size mirror.

I barely even recognized myself. I saw her eyes follow mine as I observed myself one last time.

"Come on. Anakin is waiting for you at the stairs," Padme smiled, taking my hand into hers and looping it around her arm, leading me into the hallway.

A queasy trill rumbled through my stomach. Every Jedi Knight was required to be escorted into the "dance" by their master. In front of everyone. I'd never been the center of attention for very long before. Even at the Jedi Knight graduation I wasn't the center of attention. As if only seconds went by, I was already feeling the strong warmth of my masters mechanical arm leading me to the stairs. There were a few others pairs of master and apprentice in front of us, so I had a few minutes to breathe. I must have been red, or sweating profusely, because my master snickered loud enough for me to hear...on purpose.

"What?" I raised an eyebrow.

"Nothing," he shrugged. I was determined.

"C'mon, master, you know more than anyone how nervous I am," I admitted, returning my attention to the slowly decreasing line in front of us. I swore the temperature in that room was increasing by the minute.

"Snips," Anakin stopped me, "You'll do fine. Just have fun, okay?"

"Doesn't sound too hard," I smirked.

"Just don't slip in those high heals or rip your dress if you bend over to get something on the floor," he teased.

"Thanks a lot! You're genius!" I scoffed, pulling him back into the line. I had to get this over with; take it one step at a time. First the stairs, then the actual dance.

"Ahsoka, it seems like just yesterday you and I were taking out that shield," he said. I looked up at him. His eyes were centered directly on the person in front of him. I sharp pang thumped in my chest.

"I know. I was a big pain back then, wasn't I?" I joked. He chuckled, but never looked down at me. I could almost make out a shimmer in his eyes.

"Yeah, we were both just kids back then, weren't we?" he sighed, "Seems like I'd be the first to grow up...but I was wrong. "

The same sharp and remorseful pang thumped in my chest and made it hard to breathe. I couldn't explain the exact sad feeling I felt when he dug through the old memories of our past together, so many years ago.

"I'm proud of you, Snips. Never forget that," he said finally. I wanted to say something, but he suddenly jerked us to the front of the line. The courier pronounced our names, loud and clear, and my master helped me down the long, elaborately decorated, marble stairs.

We reached the bottom, and he let me go.