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 Ahsoka gathered her drink from the bar and scanned the crowded cantina until her eyes settled on the hooded figure hunched in one of the back booths away from most of the more boisterous clientele. Pulling her own hood lower over her eyes, she shouldered her way through the crowd until she was close enough to lean in by the figure’s ear.

 “Barriss.”

 Barriss’ flinch was imperceptible, but not to Ahsoka, who smirked and slid into the booth opposite her.

 “You look well,” she said by way of greeting, taking a long swig of her Corellian spice ale. Barriss pulled back her hood and leaned her elbows on the table. She did not, in fact, look well. She looked.. tired. Tired, hungry, and like she hadn’t seen the sunny surface of any healthy planet in years. Ahsoka swallowed the mouthful of spicy ale still soaking in to her tongue.

 “This has to be the last time we meet, Ahsoka.”

 Ahsoka studied her from across the table. “Are you having anything?”

 “What?”

 “Drinks, are you having one?”

 Barriss shook her head, beginning to look annoyed. “No, I--”

 “Take mine.” Ahsoka pushed the heavy glass mug, beaded with condensation across the table and motioned for one of the bartenders to bring them another before Barriss could protest more. “I’d order us dinner here but I don’t think you’d ever want to see me again if I did that, trust me,” Ahsoka intoned in a confidential voice, pushing the mug more firmly in to Barriss’ hands.

 “You’re not listening to me: I can’t see you again anyway .”

 The Togruta sighed and leaned back in the booth, resting one arm against the back of the bench. “I heard you. Finally picking a side, then?”

 Barriss clutched the mug against her chest and stared down into the murky brown liquid. “It’s out of my hands. The Empire has eyes and ears everywhere, even on a backwater planet like this. If they find out I’ve been relaying Imperial intel, and to a former Jedi--" She cut herself off and leaned back in her seat as the waiter came by with Ahsoka's drink. Ahsoka thanked the man and waited until he was out of earshot. 

 “I get it.” Ahsoka drank deeply from her mug. “What I don’t get is why we’ve been doing this for as long as we have. This is, what.. year five? I know you have no love for the Empire, even if they are your livelihood, but you’re not exactly closing ranks with us either. What do you get out of helping me? I give you nothing in return.”

 “Except the knowledge that a powerful Force-wielder is still alive and at the heart of a growing rebellion.”

 Ahsoka set her mug carefully on the table. “I don’t believe you would betray me.” The word ‘again’ hung heavily in the air between them.

 “There’s something coming, Ahsoka. Something worse. A new initiative, run by an actual Sith Lord, apprentice to the Emperor. He is training Force-wielders to become Jedi hunters .”

 Ahsoka's mind went to the Sixth Brother she'd fought and slain on Raada a few years back. Not so new an initiative, it would seem. New to you, Barriss, perhaps. She leveled a look at her from across the table. “I have had a bounty on my head since I was 17. How is this any different?”

 “Because the Empire won’t stop at former Jedi. They will slaughter any Force-sensitive person they find, including children. Including infants, Ahsoka. And,” Barriss paused to swallow and lower her voice further. “And I have been selected to be trained.”

 Barriss let out a shaky breath and downed most of her drink when she was done. Ahsoka stared blankly at a stain on the table. “Okay.” She looked up at Barriss’ terrified face, at the foam from the ale sliding down her chin. “Okay,” she repeated, and nodded as the information sank in. “I think we need to talk about this somewhere else.”

 She rose from the booth, simultaneously finishing off the last of her ale and fishing in her pocket for a handful of credits before slamming down both and reaching for Barriss’ upper arm. Barriss allowed herself to be hoisted up and led out of the cantina through a back door. “My ship is over here,” she said in a quiet voice.

 “Uh uh.” Ahsoka shook her head. “Just because I don’t think you’re going to kill me doesn’t mean I trust you. My ship.” She gave Barriss a little shove in front and led her with a hand between her shoulder blades towards the back of the shipyard to a small, inconspicuous shuttle with no markings. A moment later Ahsoka was guiding her up the ramp and in to belly of a modest but tidy ship. It was all one space, aside from a small fresher off the main cabin, and a curtain separating the cockpit from the back. Ahsoka drew back the curtain to reveal a couple of chairs, a small, round table bolted to the floor, and a bunk built in to the far wall. She motioned for Barriss to sit.

 In all their rendezvous over the years, both had always been adamant about meeting in public, if discreet, places. For the first time since their days at the temple, Ahsoka and Barriss found themselves completely alone in the quiet cabin of Ahsoka’s ship. Barriss perched on the edge of the bunk and Ahsoka pulled out a fresh bottle of brandy from a compartment hidden beneath the table and gave it a half-hearted celebratory shake in Barriss’ direction. She poured them both fresh glasses and plunked down in one of the chairs, kicking off her boots as she went. “So what’s the plan?”

 “The plan?” Barriss repeated, turning the cool glass over and over in her hands.

 Ahsoka extricated her montrals from the hooded poncho she wore and then pulled the entire thing over head and let it pool on the floor behind her. “Well, are you just going to go along with it? I can’t imagine this is what you had in mind when you-”

 “Ahsoka.”

 “-killed those Jedi in the hangar-”

 “Ahsoka!

 “-framed me-”

 Barriss slammed down her drink with enough force that its contents sloshed over them both in the cramped space. Ahsoka couldn’t remember ever having seen Barriss cry but there were tears shining bright in her eyes now. Her face was twisted in to an emotion Ahsoka couldn’t quite place, but it startled her enough that she sat up properly. ‘I’m sorry,’ she wanted to say immediately. ‘Kark it,’ said another part of her, louder. Her face felt hot from the brandy.

 “I don’t know what you want me to say, Barriss. Thanks for warning me that your boss is genocidal? I already knew that. I want to know what you are planning to do.”

 “There isn’t anything to be done! I’ve already risked my life a dozen times speaking with you at all..”

 “And I appreciate that.” Ahsoka gestured with her glass. “Are you ready to take the next step?”

 Barriss looked up sharply. “What?”

 “Kriff, Barriss, you could leave with me. Tonight. We have a better chance as two former Jedi against the Empire than I would alone. And we could use you. Having a healer, a former knight, someone with insider knowledge, all of that would be invaluable to the cause.”

 Barriss suddenly looked deflated. She folded her arms across her middle and leaned her forehead against the lip of the table and let out a shuddering sigh. Her headband slid back and her dark, choppy hair fanned out against the table as Ahsoka watched, absently fascinated by hair as she always was. Finally, Barriss lifted her head and looked blearily across the table at Ahsoka.

 “I will stay the night.”

 It was not a question.

 “Alright.” And we’ll see where we are in the morning, thought Ahsoka. She rolled her eyes and sucked her teeth as she got up from her chair. “Lay down, you look like a wreck. I’m grabbing a shower, I smell like stale beer and engine oil.”

 Barriss didn’t bother to protest, just began unstrapping her boots as Ahsoka stepped in to the fresher. When she emerged again ten minutes later wrapped in a large towel, her skin still steaming in the cool air of the cabin, Barriss was lying on her side in the bunk, her head resting on her forearm.

 “Sorry, I forgot my, uh..” Ahsoka took the few steps across the cabin to a series of drawers set in to the wall and began rummaging through them for clothes. “.. not used to having other people in here.”

 “Ahsoka,” came Barriss’ voice softly from behind her on the bunk.

 “Yeah.” Ahsoka drew out a pair of sleep shorts and then went back in for a top.

 An olive hand rested on her hip and she froze. She looked down and the hand snaked its way around her middle, pulling her backwards until she found herself sitting on the bunk in the cradle of Barriss’ body.

 She looked down at Barriss, who was resting her forehead against Ahsoka’s side. “Are you drunk?”

 Barriss smiled against her side. “It takes more than mug of bad ale and bit of old brandy to inebriate a Mirialan, Lady Tano.”

 “Bad ale!! Fine, order your own next time, see if you can suss out the menus on some of these outer rim planets,” Ahsoka huffed.

 “You didn’t exactly give me the chance, did yo--”

 Ahsoka cut her off, dipping down and pressing their mouths together. Barriss made a small surprised noise against her lips; Ahsoka could taste the brandy there. The angle was awkward and she was still holding her towel up around her armpits, so she backed off after a moment, looking a little sheepish.

 “I, I’m sorry. That was. I’m gonna,” Ahsoka made to get up again but Barriss still had her around the middle and yanked her down again. “What!”

Ahsoka ,” Barriss said more firmly this time, and she was smiling faintly, as much as Barriss ever did, and scooting up in the bed until she was propped up a bit. “Would you just,” she gestured vaguely at the space she’d made, “ get on the bed?

 Well, she was pretty sure there was no way to misinterpret this. Right? Ahsoka felt herself flush from the tips of her montrals down her lekku as she nodded dumbly and clambered onto the bunk, immediately getting in to Barriss’ space. Barriss reached for her shoulder and drew her in and they kissed properly this time, slow and sweet.

Barriss’ hand found the seam where Ahsoka had tucked her towel in to place and she asked “Can I?” quietly against Ahsoka’s mouth. Ahsoka nodded again, her awe-struck brain still catching up to what was happening. Barriss loosened the towel and tossed it over the side of the bunk in one of the first signs of initiative Ahsoka had seen from her all evening. When they broke away from one another to breathe, Ahsoka rolled back, her knees on either sides of Barriss’ thighs. She scanned Barriss’ face.

 “Are you okay? Is this okay?”

 Ahsoka had never been one to feel shame or embarrassment about her own naked body: it was a tool, it got her where she needed to go, it was strong and relatively reliable. She also knew that not everyone felt as comfortable as she did about it. Barriss, for her part, looked a little out of breath and a shade of green Ahsoka had never seen her, dark across her cheeks and down what little of her throat she could see. She watched Barriss’ throat move as she swallowed.

 “You look.. really good, Ahsoka.” The last bit came out in a rushed laugh. Barriss reached out and Ahsoka watched her run her fingertips from the undersides of her breasts down the subtle planes of muscle that made up her abdomen. Ahsoka gave a low laugh and took the hand from her belly, raising it to her mouth to kiss its palm.

 “You can touch more than that, you know, I’m not gonna break. We fought a war together.”

 “I know,” Barriss said softly, her other hand now running up one of Ahsoka’s thigh and over a series of thick blaster scars that stood out bright against her rust-colored skin. “This is just new to me.”

 “Oh, Barriss ,” Ahsoka admonished, leaning down until her lekku were brushing the Mirialan’s chest. “Don’t tell me you’ve never gotten intimate with someone.”

 “I’ve never felt the need,” Barriss said stiffly, ”and while I lived as a Jedi I honored the code just as you did.”

 Ahsoka craned back to stare at her, her lip curling, but before she could open her mouth to remind her that it was her dissatisfaction with this very code that found either of them here tonight, Barriss had muttered “oh, shut up,” and dragged her by the back of the neck down to her mouth.

 Not to be outdone, Ahsoka growled against Barriss’ mouth and tipped them the rest of the way back onto the bunk, kissing her the whole way down. When they finally parted, Barriss’ lips were wet and swollen and she was breathing hard, her eyes huge and black in the dim light of the cabin. Ahsoka bracketed her elbows on either side of Barriss’ head.

 “I’ve wanted to do this since I was 15.”

 Barriss scoffed. “Honestly, Ahsoka.”

 “Hey, not all of us blocked out our feelings,” Ahsoka lowered her head and nosed Barriss’ jaw until she turned her head and exposed her neck.

 “I-I didn’t—“ but the words caught in her throat when Ahsoka nipped her with those sharp Togrutan teeth, and she was stunned into silence as just as quickly the pain was replaced by heat, the soft slickness of Ahsoka’s mouth, gentler but insistent.

 Barriss huffed out a breath and threw an arm around Ahsoka’s neck, slotting her hand beneath her back lek and Ahsoka smiled against her throat. She sucked a bruise in to the skin just above Barriss’ collarbone where the neckline of her heavy black tunic began.

 “This has gotta come off,” Ahsoka said matter-of-factly, tugging at the tunic.

 “Yes,” said Barriss a little too quickly, and scrambled to untie the tabard and pull the layers away. She was bare underneath, small-chested as she was, and for a moment she looked a bit afraid, half naked in a pool of dark cloth, like she had forgotten how she had found herself there to begin with.

 But then Ahsoka saw her own hunger mirrored back at her, felt it flare momentarily in the Force, and Barriss was reaching for her both in the Force and from where she lay spread on the bunk.

 “Up. Get up,” Ahsoka said, grasping her and pulled her up by both hands. “Here, turn around.” She manipulated Barriss until she was facing away from her and then hauled her back in to her lap, Barriss’ bare back against Ahsoka’s chest. “Good?”

 “Yes,” said Barriss weakly, reaching back behind her to pull Ahsoka down to her mouth. Ahsoka’s hands slid along Barriss’ ribcage and over her breasts, kneading gently, and Barriss made a stuttering moan into Ahsoka’s open mouth. Barriss got hold of one of her lek and stroked it and it was Ahsoka’s turn to gasp, burying her face in the crook of Barriss’ neck.

 “I’m taking these off,” breathed Barriss, and Ahsoka let go of her long enough that she could shimmy out of her pants and under clothes before scooting back into place.

Ahsoka pulled their hips flush, skin to skin, and leaned her forehead against the back of Barriss’ neck.

 “I’m really glad we’re finally doing this,” she murmured, laying open-mouthed kisses down the line of diamond tattoos that followed Barriss’ spine. Barriss’ uneven breathing was the only response, and that faltered when Ahsoka’s hand snaked between her legs and cupped her.

 “Ahsoka.”

 “Mm?” Ahsoka rolled her hips and pressed with her hand as one.

 Barriss caught her breath and bowed her head, her hands gripping Ahsoka’s thighs. “ Please .”

 “Right,” said Ahsoka, and repositioned her hand with her middle finger stroking firmly over Barriss’ clit.

 Barriss’ nails dug into the flesh of Ahsoka’s thighs as she sobbed out a breath and Ahsoka hissed, palming Barriss’ chest with her free hand. Barriss arched in to her touch. The image burned itself into Ahsoka’s mind: Barriss, sweat-slick, straining for her touch, desperate. She had to bow her head and blow out a breath to keep focused on what she was doing.

 “A-Ahsoka…” came a hoarse voice. “I need..”

 And yes, that was enough for Ahsoka to tip Barriss over on to her front, on to her elbows and knees and crowd around her from behind. Her hand found its way back between Barriss’ legs from behind this time and stroked through the generous wetness she found there.

 “Force, Barriss,” she breathed, dizzied by how aroused she was, overly aware of how slick the insides of her own thighs were as she smoothly slid two fingers inside Barriss’ body.

 Barriss arched and moaned in such a shameless way that Ahsoka let loose a string of Huttese expletives under her breath she was sure Anakin would have been proud of were he still alive. She set up a swift but steady pace, curling her fingers on the backstroke in the way she knew she liked herself, and soon Barriss was stifling her moans with her hand, half crushed against the mattress by Ahsoka’s taller frame.

 After only a few moments more, a shudder ran through Barriss and she stiffened, flexing against the bed sheets and moaning in a manner so lewd Ahsoka nearly came undone herself. When her hips had stopped stuttering,  Ahsoka gently withdrew her hand and pushed at her hip to get her to roll over onto her back.

 Barriss was still catching her breath, her skin gleaming. Ahsoka rubbed her sore wrist and nodded at her with a goofy expression on her face.

 “What’s that supposed to mean?”

 “I mean, not to brag..”

 “Oh, no, you’ve never been known to do that.” Barriss snorted and pulled Ahsoka down to her by one lek. She kissed her thoroughly, stroking Ahsoka’s right lek until she was breathing hard through her nose, her brow knit. When Barriss slipped a hand between her legs Ahsoka pulled away.

 “You don’t need to do that.”

 “You are certainly right about that.”

 “I just mean, you don’t owe me anything.”

 Barriss laughed dryly. “I’m not sure if that’s true. But here in this moment, no, I don’t,” she agreed. She got up and moved down the bed, settling between Ahsoka’s legs.

 “May I, please?”

 “Yes,” said Ahsoka in a rushed voice. She could see how dark the tiger-stripe chevrons on her lekku were, how hard her nipples felt under their weight, and below it all the tight, throbbing heat still churning low in her belly.

 Barriss gave her that faint, chiding smile again from under her lashes and then kissed the inside of her thigh, high up where it was already wet. Ahsoka watched her, her heart hammering against her ribs, and when Barriss pressed the flat of her tongue against her core and dragged slowly and deliberately up Ahsoka threw her head back and groaned.

 The sensation was immediately gone.

 “Ahsoka, look at me.”

 Ahsoka’s head snapped back down, her eyes wild.

 “Don’t look away, please.”

 Ahsoka swallowed thickly. Since when..?

 Barriss lowered her mouth back down between Ahsoka’s legs, one hand coming up to splay over her belly. Her eyes were locked with Ahsoka’s.

 Ahsoka found it was very hard to breathe. And certainly impossible to look away, as it turned out. For someone with no experience, Barriss was doing very well for herself, whether from reading Ahsoka’s reactions through the Force or just being intuitive about what she herself would like. Ahsoka carded a hand through Barriss’s dark hair, felt the impossible smooth, alien texture, closed her fist in it.

 “Barriss,” she whimpered, and Barriss closed her mouth over Ahsoka’s clit and sucked . Ahsoka’s eyes slammed shut but she forced them open again, found Barriss’ own in the dark.  Ahsoka was panting now, one hand stroking through Barriss’s hair and the other twisted in the sheets behind her head. Her hips bucked off the bunk and Barriss pressed them back with surprising control, her mouth never leaving Ahsoka’s flesh and her gaze unwavering.

 Ahsoka locked eyes with her until she absolutely couldn't, until all she could do was arch back like a bowstring and cry out from behind clenched teeth as wave after wave of euphoria washed over her. When it was over, those eyes were back, hovering above her, and she pulled Barriss down against her chest, holding her close as she caught her breath.

 “Please don’t go,” she said after a while, her chin hooked over Barriss’ shoulder.

 There was a pause long enough that, long enough that Ahsoka began to think maybe Barriss had fallen asleep.

 “Perhaps I can be of more use on the inside.”

 Ahsoka disentangled her limbs and propped herself up on one elbow.

 “Barriss, no. They will kill you. But not before they torture you, not before they get every scrap of information out of you-“

 “They’ll do that anyway.”

 “We can protect you. It’s like you said, it’s too dangerous for you to report to me anymore, especially if you’re going to be on this secret.. task force of theirs.”

 “Yes.”

 “So which is it?” Ahsoka threw up a hand exasperatedly. “Join up with us or become a killing machine for the Empire? Is this really that difficult a decision?”

 Barriss sighed and rolled over. “Go to sleep, Ahsoka.”

 Ahsoka glared at the back of her head, her jaw working. After a while she too rolled over, drawing the sheets up over them both. She lay awake for several hours staring in to the familiar darkness of the ship’s cabin. It was just before this world’s dawn that she finally slipped in to sleep, restless though it was.

When she woke, Barriss was gone.

It didn’t surprise her, but there was still a dull ache in Ahsoka’s heart. She walked the perimeter of the shipyard in her hooded poncho, but Barriss ship was nowhere to be found. Inside the cantina she bought herself a lousy breakfast, then fueled up her ship and was preparing to make contact with Bail when she noticed an unfamiliar holotransmitter laying on the table beside their forgotten brandy glasses.

She slumped down in to one of the chairs, brushed the glasses to the side and powered it on. It flickered to life, the blue holo-image of Barriss’ torso manifesting a few inches above the tabletop.

Ahsoka bit her lip.

 “Ahsoka. You’ll have to forgive me for leaving without a proper goodbye. The truth is, I’m no good at them. Perhaps war does that to a person.” The image of Barriss paused, looking down at where her feet would be had they been there. “I couldn’t have gone with you because I’m needed elsewhere.”

 Ahsoka clenched her fist, her jaw setting. Needed by the Empire.

 “I was never good on the battlefield. I’ve never had the heart for bloodshed. Unless, it was for what I believe in. But one thing I was good at was..” She looked directly at Ahsoka. “..tricking everyone who knew me.”

 Ahsoka’s blood ran cold.

 “What I did at the temple was absolutely awful. And I don’t ever expect to be forgiven for it, nor shall I forgive myself. But there was only one person who ever saw through my disguise, and that person is now dead.”

 Ahsoka felt sick at the mention of her Master. She clutched the edge of the table, shaking her head slowly. “What are you saying, Barriss?” she whispered to the recording.

 “If I can use the one thing I am any good for to make a change for the better now, then I shall,” she went on, and Ahsoka could make out that her shoulders were shaking slightly, her voice was wavering. “I’m much older and wiser now than I was then, and while I expect taking out the Inquisitorius from the inside won’t be an easy task-”

 “Barriss, no ,” Ahsoka said aloud to no one.

 “-would not be able to live with myself if I did not make the attempt.”

“No no no,” Ahsoka lifted the communicator off the table, bringing the holo-image up to her face. “Barriss, what are you doing ?!”

 “If I am successful, this will be the first and only time you hear of the Inquisitors. Pray that this is so. Please do not attempt to track me; this device will become non-responsive once my message is complete.” Barriss paused again in the transmission, looking somewhere in the middle distance, then exhaled and turned her gaze back to Ahsoka.

 “I don’t suppose I will see you again. I’m sorry I wasn’t. Better. I am proud to know you, Ahsoka.”

 Here, Barriss seemed to struggle with what to say, fidgeting for a moment, before nodding once and finishing with, “May the Force be with you.”

 

The transmitter went dark.