“No, Wolffe, let me explain.”
Rex had no idea that those would be the last words he’d ever hear his Commander, Ahsoka Tano, say. He moved up behind Anakin with Plo Koon just to his right. His gaze remained on Ahsoka as his brother lifted the explosive, and identified them as the same type as the ones used at the temple. Anakin’s words echoed his own, he couldn’t believe it.
His armour felt too small, too confined at this moment as he watched his General move over and kneel by her pone form, wishing it was he who was able to take her hand. He couldn’t help but shoot a glare towards his white and grey brother, whose head turned towards him as if he could feel the gaze that fell upon him. Why hadn’t he let her explain? No, he knew why, but he still hated it.
Ahsoka was quick, strong, and could come up with ideas and plans as fast as any of them could, but she had powers that they hadn’t. She could have gotten away again… and if he was honest to himself, he almost wished she had.
“We must head back.” Plo Koon’s voice rumbled softly though the quiet, and over the soft sound of shifting armoured men.
Rex saw the distressed look on his General’s face, sure that it would mirror his own if professionalism, training, and his helmet weren’t strongly in place. “She’ll have to be carried. I will take her.”
He began to step forward even before Anakin nodded, pausing only to allow the other man to move out of his way. Rex crouched, and moved to slide his arms under her unconscious form. For a moment he was in the past, looking down at her younger form who had been ravaged by the Blue Shadow Virus. She’d felt so light and small in the moment he’d caught her. Somehow she felt even more so now. With ease he stood, shifting Ahsoka carefully in his arms to allow her body to settle against him whatever way it wished.
Rex merely stood in place as Anakin moved over and touched Ahsoka’s hand again, the man giving him a searching look that went unanswered before stepping away and beginning to lead them away from this dreadful place. He didn’t care about the glances he felt his brothers gave him, nor did he care about the way Wolffe carried his weapon, clearly ready to shoot the young Commander again if the need arose.
His jaw tightened as time lost all meaning, he’d always wanted to feel Ahsoka in his arms again, but not like this. Not anything like this. Short, random thoughts played through his mind as a walk that felt more like a death march continued. Rex imagined himself breaking free of the group he was in and running with her, somehow able to protect her unconscious form from his many brothers and two Jedi Generals. He imagined her waking with him over her, assuring her that she was safe, finally being able to tell her that he believed in her. That he’d never doubted her innocence.
Pain welled up in his chest at the thought that even conscious, he would have just as much ability and freedom to say those things to her as he did right now. In fact his wish for her to be conscious might have made things worse. He could imagine her marching between him and Wolffe, wrists cuffed together, and her bright blue eyes filled with doubts and fears that he’d want to protect her from but wouldn’t be able to.
Some enemies were just too big.
The sight of the LAAT/i made his chest tighten violently. The part of his mind from before told him to try running, that an attempt would be better than nothing. Practice of being a soldier, and a responsible one at that, allowed Rex to press and push away the thoughts. It would never happen, he would never succeed, and he knew that if she could hear his thoughts right now, she’d tell him not to.
“I’m sorry, ‘Soka.” Rex whispered in his helmet, a few glances he got right then making him double check that there were no open channels. Everything was muted as it should have been; he was alone in his own personal and agonizing silence.
As Rex stepped into the ship, he imagined Ahsoka’s beautiful smile and bright eyes. He heard her calling him Rexer, a name he now realized he hadn’t heard her call him enough. Stepping towards the back of the ship, he realized that there were too many things that he hadn’t had enough of when it came to her.
“I’ve got her.” Rex informed Wolffe, not caring if his tone was as sharp as he thought it to be. As he shifted her into a sitting position, he was able, for the briefest of moments, to give her the hug that he’d always wanted to give her. The fact that it wasn’t returned to him, and the fact that she’d never know made hot tears form in his eyes before he straightened. He moved to take his position beside her, his hand moving to her shoulder to help keep her upright.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to ever be.
Rex remained silent the whole flight back, silently wishing that this could have gone differently. That he could have gotten to her first instead of Wolffe. Wishing that Ahsoka could have explained what she so desperately had wanted to. He wanted, needed to hear what she had to say, but as fate would have it, he never would.