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Not Much Between Despair and Ecstasy

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Wolffe hefted the lightsaber in his grip and sighed again.

"Please hold this for a moment," Plo Koon had said. That was five moments ago, and one before the Jedi decided to hurtle himself off a five-hundred meter cliff.

Clones were vaccinated against peptic ulcers, but Wolffe was sure he was developing one regardless, out of spite. Just General Plo try and look sad by his hospital bed in a month when Wolffe was shitting blood, Wolffe wanted the satisfaction of it.

"Sir, do you want us to—"

Wolffe held up his free hand. "Just… just get the grapples."

"Yes, sir." It was one of the new members of the 104th. He didn't actually bother with the names of any of the replacements. General Plo could probably sound off all eight-hundred of them. Wolffe knew: Sergeant Sinker, Trooper Boost. Perhaps it was rude or cruel or just a bad habit, but Wolffe had more important things to think about. Namely: where was their general?

An orange splat somewhere on the mossy ground, most likely. Wolffe clipped Plo Koon's lightsaber to his belt and found a sturdy point for his grapple, then followed his brothers down the steep cliffside.

Wolffe wedged his boot into a crevice and gave himself a chance to catch a glance of where he was headed.

The trees were thin and tangled, wrapped around each other in a vicious competition for light. Below that, and Wolffe knew because of the geological scans they took, was a pitted and unstable forest floor made of slumping stone and lined with moss. It smelled green here. Wolffe didn't have the chance to appreciate it, because the filters in his helmet scrubbed scent along with anything else floating around in the air, but it was nice to imagine it smelled green. Whatever green smelled like.

Frankly, it probably smelled like dirt, and considering the amount of time they spent camped out on mudballs, it wasn't a smell he liked to think about. Wolffe wasn't soft by any means, but he was a Clone Commander. He was wired to assist a Jedi General in leading attacks, making plans, and taking blaster bolts if the need arose. Plo Koon proclivity for relief missions kept the churn of new clones low, but it really did chafe at his core. That was…

Well, General Plo made funny faces when he tried to explain it like that, then left to go brood for an hour. He called it meditating, but Wolffe could brood with the best of them; he knew what it looked like.

He shook his head and kicked off the rock, rappelling until he hit the rocky bottom.

"Fan out and go slow." He said into his radio. "And watch your step. You fall into a cenote; you get yourself out."

The men chucked among themselves. It was a good joke, and it would be better when they realized he wasn't joking.

"Are you sure the General wants to be found, sir?" One of the troopers asked.

"I'm sure its our job to find him." Wolffe said by way of reply. If jumping off a cliff didn't mean 'don't find me', nothing did. Too bad Wolffe's purpose was bullet sponge, etc, and not a manners maid.

"Jedi shit." Another said. "I got transferred from the 501st. This happens all the time."

"What'd you do to get drummed out of the 501st?"

"You—"

"Cut the chatter." Wolffe snapped. "Comm lines aren't for gossip."

"Sir."

Blessed silence. Wolffe glanced up, trying to find a gap in the canopy where General Plo had fallen through, but the growth was so alternately dense and sparse, that it was hard to tell what was natural and what was a silhouette.

It was so quiet here. Wind, barely any birdsong, the slow creak of trees, Wolffe's own footsteps. It really wasn't like anything he'd experienced. Kamino was constantly drummed by rain, and even a million brothers eating quietly was a million men shifting, chewing, and breathing. The barracks on Coruscant weren't much different, just instead of rain it was the scream of a planet wide city that never slept. Even ships were loud in the silence of space.

It reminded him of nothing so much as the one time he'd been invited into General Plo's quarters. The Dorin gas atmosphere (pressurised helium wasn't something one wanted on a ship) muffled sound slightly, and the room was reduced to General Plo's slow breathing. It was calm, peaceful. Intimate.

Wolffe curled his lip at himself. Intimate, like he was some fainting twi'lek in a shitty romance holo-novel.

Jango's clones had been engineered heavily by the Kaminoans. There was the accelerated aging, yes, and a modified resistance to disease. Wolffe didn't have an appendix, and he didn't even have a scar to show off. They were naturally inclined to build muscle, but they produced some modified form of testosterone. It curbed agression, important in an army of subserviants, and slashed whatever sex drive Fett initally possessed. They were all sterile, but that didn't mean that stupid brothers wouldn't get wound up in some pretty Sepratist plant and blab military secrets over pillow talk.

It was a roundabout way of being confused about his novel budding attraction to a two meter tall alien monk.

Fainting twi'lek in a holo-novel. Honestly.

His boot scraped. Wolffe stilled, and found himself staring down into a cavern. Cenote. That would have been funny. He looked up. Kel Dor shaped silhouette.

Wolffe sighed, and latched his grapple around a sturdy looking tree. The ground wouldn't hold him here, but the trees grew through the limestone to a more solid surface.

He stepped through into the cenote, and his breath caught. Sunlight streamed in through tiny cracks in the surface, reflecting off of the clear blue water. It sparkled, in the sun. A massive, cracked statue of a beautiful human woman. She gazed serenely at the crumbled ruins of a drowned temple. He followed her gaze, and found Plo Koon.

Wolffe lowered himself to the stone and detached himself from his lead. It felt sacrilegious to stand here. It felt sacrilegious to want. He wanted to—what? To declare his undying love? Fall into General Plo's arms and get fucked 'til he couldn't walk?  Fuck General Plo 'til he couldn't walk? Hold each other and pretend they were different men? Jedi Master Plo Koon was too devoted. He took his vows seriously, and there was no room for a torrid affair with a clone. It couldn't even just be sex. Wolffe could want that with him, but for the damn vows.

But that was it too. That was General Plo. Serious, gentle, steadfast. It was why Wolffe was in this emotional mess to begin with.

Plo Koon knelt, his knees resting in the gently lapping water, and his heels on the stone. Wolffe found he couldn't move. Speech, movement, it would be violence.

Kel Dor weren't attractive. It was a Galactic punchline as much as it was reality. How many times had he heard the one about the slizzard trooper taking home the Kel Dor hooker at 79's?

They were wrinkled, mottled, with twisting pressure organs looping around the side of their heads. Shrunken, recessed eyes. A mouth that looked like a rude joke.

Wolffe's heart wrenched as he watched Plo Koon. The sunlight crested across his broad shoulders.

He took a step forwards, then another, until he was able to sink to his knees next to General Plo, mirroring his pose, but with none of his poise. What was it about Jedi, that they were so still?

"Hello, Wolffe." Plo Koon looked at him. Wolffe's mouth went dry.

"There is no oxygen here. Please do not take off your helmet." General Plo said, his silver eyes soft.

"Guess that's why my head feels fuzzy."

"Oh?" General Plo's voice lacked the muffled buzz that characterized it. He was quiet, very quiet. Water seeped through the gaps in Wolffe's armor and soaked his blacks from the thigh down. "May I?"

He held out a hand. Wolffe slowly placed his wrist in General Plo's grasp. Strong fingers found his pulse, and Wolffe strugg;ed not to fold over General Plo's hand and never let him go again.

"Your heart rate is slightly elevated." General Plo said after a few moments.

"Yeah? No idea why that would be, sir."

General Plo smiled at him. Wolffe caught himself reaching for his face, and quickly turned it into a gesture.

"Who was she?" He pointed at the crumbled statue.

"Revan, I suppose."

Wolffe's eyes widened. "Revan, like Darth Revan? The one who led the Jedi against Mandalore? The Sith Lord?"

"Oh, for a time. Perhaps she returned to the light, perhaps she died in infamy. History is unclear."

"I thought Darth Revan was a man."

"History is unclear on that, as well." General Plo waved his hand expansively, gesturing to the cavern. "They worshipped her here, as a god of possibility."'

"Is that what you were meditating on? Possibility?" Wolffe's voice echoed, and he fought the urge to whisper.

General Plo glanced skyward. "Among other things. The future, I suppose, but it remains clouded to me. Sometimes looking to the past can illuminate the answers we seek."

"Did you find them?"

"No." General Plo looked sidelong at him. "But I found the Force, and that remains enough."

Intimate. Wolffe forced himself to look away.

"Why'd you give me your lightsaber, sir?"

"For safekeeping. The Force told me I would not need it."

"So you gave it to me."

General Plo eyed him wrly. "It is unwise to mistrust the Force."

"But you trust me to keep it?" Wolffe pulled the lightsaber off his belt and held it up to the light. "I dunno. I'm pretty klutzy, sir. Might've dropped it."

He'd cut off his own hand before dropping it. It was a hefty piece of metal. Impressive. A good weapon by its weight alone, even if Wolffe could never activate it. Anything could be a projectile if you chucked it hard enough.

"You wouldn't. I trust you."

His chest twisted. "The things you say, sir."

"Wolffe…"

"The men will be missing you. We have a job to do here." Wolffe stood up. "Food aid isn't going to deliver itself."

He held a hand down, and General Plo gracefully accepted it, rising to his feet in a smooth motion. He had big hands. Warm, through Wolffe's gloves. Wolffe let himself indulge for another second before letting go.

"How'd you get down here?" Wolffe looked around for a grapple or a rope. A spare vine.

"I jumped."

"You Jedi are crazy."

"There was water." General Plo said, nonplussed.

"You're gonna get yourself killed one of these days." Wolffe pointed at him, leading the way back to the grapple lead.

"Under your watch? I would think not. I recall you telling me that I was not allowed to die."

"That stands."

"And here I thought I was the commanding officer." General Plo mused.

"That's what the chain of command says, sir." Wolffe said pointedly. He looked down. "You're all wet. Is it too much to hope you brought spares?"

"They'll dry."

"They'd better."

General Plo refixed his antiox mask and goggles, then gripped the grapple lead. "Are you coming, Wolffe?"

He held out a hand.

Wolffe looked down and exhaled. He took General Plo's hand.

"Yeah. Plo."