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Shielded Heart

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"ETA to The Negotiator five minutes, Generals," the pilot's voice sounded over the shuttle’s comms. Obi-Wan fiddled with the sleeve of his robes, feeling anxious. 

 

"It's not like you to be nervous, Master," Anakin observed with just a bit of teasing. Obi-Wan slanted his former pupil an unamused look. 

 

"I'm not -" Obi-Wan cleared his throat, "I'm not nervous , Anakin," he protested. He waved his hand in the air, twirling his wrist with his thoughts. "Just a bit apprehensive about how the men will feel about my… mission ," he said with some emphasis.

 

"That's one way to phrase 'the Jedi Council asked you to fake your death, parade as a bounty hunter, and put a stop to an assassination attempt on the Chancellor without telling anyone '," Anakin snorted. Obi-Wan let out a long-suffering sigh. 

 

"I'm just saying, you took the news of my mission with all the grace of a startled bantha! I was doing my duty for the Order, but it felt incredibly dishonest, if I do say," he said, and he went to run a hand through his beard, only to remember it had been shaved along with the rest of his head so he could impersonate Rako Hardeen for his mission. It only made his frown deepen. "I have a battalion of men who I haven't been truthful with. I worry what it has done to their trust in me," he mused, grimacing. 

 

"You're overreacting Obi-Wan," Anakin said with an impressive roll of his eyes, leaning back in his seat and crossing his arms over his chest. "Your men will understand that you were just following orders! If I can understand it, then so can they," he said with a flourish of his hand and a decisive nod. Obi-Wan sighed, letting his hand fall from his face as he looked to the floor of the shuttle. 

 

"I wish it were that simple, my dear friend," he said, trailing off in thought. If Obi-Wan was being completely honest with himself - which for his sake wasn't often, he was worried about the reaction of one man in particular. 

 

Obi-Wan felt the thrusters on the shuttle change position, indicating that they were about to land. A subtle hum of anxiety flooded his veins, and Obi-Wan reached out to the Force to steady himself.

 

"If anything they'll be pissed off that you're bald," Anakin snickered. Obi-Wan scowled at his former Padawan as they stood, waiting for the ship to power down so they could disembark. 

 

"I beg your pardon!" he snapped, offended. The ship shuddered, and the ramp opened with a hiss. Anakin threw his head back with a laugh and walked away from Obi-Wan's stuttered protests.

 

A good portion of the 212th and a few squads on layover from the 501st stood at attention awaiting their arrival. Commander Cody and Captain Rex waited at the front with their helmets against their hips. When the ramp revealed the two Jedi, all the chatter in the hangar went suddenly silent. Obi-Wan's gaze drifted to Cody, but nothing on the man's face revealed what his reaction was to Obi-Wan's return, at least, not that he could tell from this far away. Obi-Wan descended the ramp and was hit with a wave of emotions from the Force.

 

There was shock, he had expected that. Relief, yes, that one was also a reaction that made sense. Elation, confusion, even anger. 

 

What he didn't expect was a spike or sudden, suffocating, white hot rage. The intensity of the emotion was so strong in the Force it actually made Obi-Wan take a physical step back on the ramp. But just as sudden as it had appeared, it was gone. Obi-Wan glanced at Anakin as they walked towards their men, but Anakin was grinning, none-the-wiser to the conflicting feelings in the Force at this time. Obi-Wan didn't have a chance to figure out what it was he had felt, because the silence was broken by a single shout from somewhere in the back of the gathered troopers.

 

"GENERAL!" Obi-Wan couldn't identify who the trooper was, but it was like a dam broke, and both battalions surged forward to see the truth for themselves.

 

"Sir! Your hair!" one called, sounding distraught for some bizarre reason.

 

"He looks like a kriffing shiny!" another shouted.

 

"That ain't right. That's bad luck if I've ever seen it," that one was followed by a heavy thwack and an "oof!"

 

A few of the troopers touched his arms and shoulders reverently, like they couldn't believe he was actually there, standing in front of them. Obi-Wan found the attention highly overwhelming. 

 

Rex and Cody had remained at their position, Rex eyeing the other troopers with an air of resigned amusement at their antics. Cody was straightfaced and serious, standing at attention. Obi-Wan and Anakin reached their commanding officers and Rex gave them a sharp salute with his free hand. 

 

"Generals," he greeted, he glanced at Obi-Wan. "Good to see you in one piece, General Kenobi," he said, doing a bit of a poor job of hiding his blatant once-over of Obi-Wan's appearance. 

 

"Thank you, Rex," Obi-Wan said with a wan smile, "it is certainly good to be back. Though, I must say this is all overwhelming," he admitted with a sheepish grin, rubbing his hand on the back of his head. Rex gave him an amused grin, and then was distracted by Anakin speaking loudly to him and laughing. Obi-Wan turned to Cody, who had been surprisingly quiet. 

 

"I take it the men missed me?" he asked, attempting to add some levity into the reunion. There was a minute reaction on Cody's carefully neutral face, the smallest twitch of his jaw, and Obi-Wan realized instantly that his joke was not appreciated. He felt a bit of ice creep into his veins and he swallowed. "Cody, I-" 

 

"The Admiral is looking to debrief you on our current campaign, Sir. We're to report to the bridge at 1800," Cody cut in, his voice tight and clipped.  

 

"Ye-" Obi-Wan cleared his throat and nodded, "yes, of course. Thank you, Cody," he said, warily. Obi-Wan tentatively reached out into the Force to him, only to find a wall. 

 

Cody was shielding from him. 

 

It was like a vice gripped his heart. In all their years working together, Cody had never hid his emotions from him, apart from when Obi-Wan had taught him the technique for shielding his mind and presence to Force-wielders (with how often the 212th faced the Sith, it’s only good to be prepared). 

 

Oh. I have a bad feeling about this. 

 

"Cody," he started, fully ready to apologize, he reached out towards Cody's shoulder only for him to subtly shift out of range. Obi-Wan's hand fell between them.

 

"If you'll excuse me, Sir. I have some paperwork to attend to," he said, and Obi-Wan realized that Cody was avoiding even looking him in the eye. 

 

"Right," he said, feeling pained. "Of course," he clasped his hands together in his robes to hide his nervous fidgeting. "As you were, Commander," he said softly. Cody nodded briefly and then turned on his heel and stalked out of the hangar. 

 

"What was that about?" Anakin asked over Obi-Wan's shoulder. Obi-Wan jumped, he'd been too distracted worrying about Cody to sense Anakin's attention. 

 

"He shielded himself from me," Obi-Wan said, trying to keep the hurt out of his tone but not really succeeding. Obi-Wan could feel Anakin's eyebrows raise at the statement. 

 

"That's… unlike him," Anakin said, sounding confused.

 

"How astute," Obi-Wan quipped. He turned back fully to face Rex and Anakin. "Rex, do you know why he reacted like that?" he implored. Rex looked… uncomfortable, about that line of questioning. He shifted his weight, grimacing. 

 

"Maybe you should give him some time, General," the Captain suggested with a cough. "Cody took your, er, leaving rather harsh."  

 

"Harsh meaning he broke his kriffing hand in the training room," Kix piped in from behind Rex, appearing out of thin air. Rex's head whipped around and he snarled something in Mando'a that Obi-Wan couldn't pick out. Kix rolled his eyes at Rex's threat and crossed his arms over his chest. 

 

"He broke his own hand?" Obi-Wan asked, horrified. That kind of violent and impulsive action was very unlike the rational and calm Commander that he knew. 

 

"He also broke Boil's nose," Kix added, even with the full weight of Rex's glare trained on him. Kix turned to Rex and raised a dark eyebrow. "I'm sorry vod , but I'm not hiding his di'kutla self-destructive habits just because you will," he said plainly in his 'I'm a medic and I do what I want' voice. A vein near Rex's temple twitched.

 

"Jesse!" he barked. Moments later the ARC Trooper appeared, helmet discarded somewhere. Rex made a tiny cutting gesture at Kix and Jesse nodded once before easily hoisting the medic up and over his shoulder. Kix made a loud squawk, plastoid bumping against plastoid as he flailed awkwardly. 

 

"Oh come on!" Kix shouted out as Jesse shouldered through the crowd away from them. "You know it's unhealthy, Rex! REX! " Kix let out several more colorful curses before he was out of sight. 

 

Obi-Wan, relatively confused from that entire fiasco, turned back to Rex, who was running a hand down his face. Anakin had one eyebrow raised at his Captain, his arms crossed tightly over his chest. 

 

"Is there something you need to tell me, Captain?" Obi-Wan implored. The idea of Cody hurting himself and others because of Obi-Wan's actions was much worse than he had feared. 

 

"What else can I say, Sir?" Rex sighed. "He took the news of your 'death' badly. That's all there is to it. And Boil was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think it was actually an accident, I don't think Cody knew he was even there," Rex shrugged, looking away uncomfortably. 

 

"That's highly troubling, I really should go see him," Obi-Wan said definitively, about to leave for Cody's quarters. Rex put a hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder, pausing him.

 

"I think it's wise you give him some time, Sir," he said, voice soft. Obi-Wan felt conflicted. Rex was Cody's closest brother and knew him well, so he should listen to him. But Cody's reaction was worrying, and he desperately wanted to see if he was all right. 

 

"I feel I should at least apologize," he said with a sigh, though he decided not to leave. Rex grimaced. 

 

"I think if you did so now he might punch you in the face, if I'm being honest, Sir," he said as Anakin snorted out a laugh. Obi-Wan glared at his former student until he quieted. 

 

"Well, I will listen to your judgement Rex, but I will have to talk to him eventually," he said. 

 

---

 

"Aren't you being a little unfair to the General, Sir?" Boil asked, looking over at Cody in concern for perhaps the 80th time since they started walking to the bridge.

 

Well, Cody had been walking to the bridge. Boil was following him on some mission to be a pain in his ass. Cody exhaled heavily through his nose, and kept walking. 

 

"Oh, I'm being perfectly fair," he gritted out, fingers tightening on his grip of his buy'ce . "If I were being unfair I would have decked him in his di'kutla bald face the second he stepped off that shuttle. Or shot him," he added.

 

Boil winced and stopped walking and Cody had half a thought to just continue and leave him behind, but he knew his vod wouldn't drop the subject, and he'd likely bring it up at an inappropriate time if Cody ignored him now. He whirled around, glaring at Boil's knowing look. Something dark and twisted roiled in his gut at that expression.

 

"What? " he demanded. His anger made Boil take a half-step back, cringing.

 

"Sir, it's just…" Boil swallowed thickly. "The General was doing his duty. I know you know this. It was hard - for all of us - when he was gone. But we're all just happy he's back," he said quietly. The unspoken 'so why aren't you?'  hung in the air. Cody exhaled heavily, his teeth grinding together in anger. Boil was right, of course. General Kenobi had been following orders from the Jedi Council. He understood that. Kriff, he understood that. But it didn’t change the fact that he was pissed. Boil dropped his head, not looking him in the eye, his voice quiet and unsure in that way he did when he knew he was overstepping his bounds. "Sir, if this is about how you hav-"

 

"K'uur! Don't!" Cody spat, far more aggressively than he had meant to but that had struck a nerve and his control was slipping. Cody normally stuck to Basic, for the sake of not alienating the nat-borns on the ship. He knew that they found the men's use of the Mandalorian language aggressive and intimidating. However, like his fellow commanding officers he had been taught and trained using Mando'a and he found himself slipping into it the more upset he got.

 

Cody was aware that the men… knew . Their mannerisms and idiosyncrasies were impossible to hide from one another. Cody may have been better at hiding it than most, but they found out eventually. Perhaps the only reason he was not teased relentlessly by his vode for his hopeless crush on his General was because he could put them on latrine duty for as long as he wanted to as Marshal Commander. And Cody could hold a grudge.  

 

"And he wasn't gone," Cody hissed, "they made us believe he was kriffing dead," Cody's chest was heaving, the panic he'd felt the last few weeks rearing its ugly head. "And he comes back and acts like that doesn't shabla matter?!" Cody's hands were shaking, his chest and throat tight. Boil watched him for a moment, a sad kind of understanding in his warm brown eyes. He put a gauntleted hand on Cody's shoulder comfortingly. 

 

"Then I think you need to tell him that, vod," he said softly. "Instead of whatever this passive-aggressive thing is you're doing right now - no, do not deny it. I may have been across the room but don't pretend I didn't see that exchange earlier," Boil cut off Cody's protest before he could even make a sound. Cody's lip curled in a half-snarl, but Boil stared him down, unrelenting. The sight of the bacta patch on Boil's nose finally made Cody deflate, the anger melting into a tired resignation. He turned his bucket around in his hands, looking at the blank t-shape visor and seeing only his sad expression staring back at him. 

 

"I can't tell him that," he said softly, not looking up.

 

"Why the kriff not? You're a Marshal Commander, you've never held back before in telling him when his plans are a load of osik," Boil demanded. Anxiety fluttered through Cody's chest and he grimaced. It wasn't that the plan was a terrible one. It's that if Cody told the General his real opinion on this whole mess, it would get far too close to feelings he did not want to bring up. 

 

"Not this time," he muttered, turning on his heel. Boil sighed like he was long-suffering and followed him, probably more worried than he had been before he'd confronted Cody about his actions. 

 

"Well you have to say something," Boil acquiesced. "Just pretending to be a good soldier while being completely pissed off is not going to do either of you any good. The General is far too aware for that. He knows something is up." They were nearing the bridge now. Their little detour hadn't taken very long, so Cody was going to be right on time, as opposed to the minute or two early that he usually was. 

 

Cody scowled at Boil's remark. That's what he didn’t want. He knew the General, and if Obi-Wan thought something was amiss then he would surely investigate it, and Cody did not want that. His hand clenched in his gauntlet, sending a little spike of pain through his arm where the bacta hadn't healed through quite yet. They reached the entrance to the bridge and stopped.

 

"I'll deal with it," he muttered angrily, he glared at the wall." Atiniir, Boil," he sighed, resigned. Boil was not convinced.

 

"Atiniir? " He scoffed, incredulous. "How? By going off the kriffing rails and punching a wall full strength?" Boil asked sardonically. Cody glared at his vod in warning. Boil lifted his hands up in front of him in surrender. 

 

"Look, with all due respect, I'm just saying your coping mechanisms are not the healthiest, Sir," he defended. 

 

"I don't need a lecture about this from you as well," Cody grumbled. 

 

"My nose says otherwise, but what do I know?" Boil said with a shrug. Before Cody could respond, the Sergeant gave him an informal salute and walked backwards a few paces before turning around and heading back the way they came. Cody watched him go a few seconds, flexing his injured hand and looked up to the ceiling like it would give him an answer. It did not. Sighing, he walked a few paces forward until the door opened to the bridge.

 

General Kenobi and the Admiral were already inside, chatting amicably. Cody focused a section of his mind on shielding his emotions. He didn't want Obi-Wan to sense the turmoil that was currently roiling beneath the surface. He must have felt something though, because the second his shield was up Obi-Wan's head lifted and he looked straight to Cody. His entire posture said worry and Cody was not happy about that. 

 

Of course, he'd known that shielding his emotions from Obi-Wan would be a dead giveaway that something was wrong. He'd never done so before. But the hot, visceral anger he had felt upon seeing his General, alive and well on the shuttle pad had been momentarily terrifying in its intensity. He'd had to shut it down immediately. 

 

Cody approached Obi-Wan and the Admiral and gave them both a terse nod. He just had to get through this briefing. 

 

---

 

Cody was being… difficult. Which was incredibly unlike him. Obi-Wan had sensed the fight between his Commander and Boil, but Cody had locked down his emotions the moment the bridge doors slid open. And when the briefing finished Cody gave a tight salute before all but bolting out of the room. Obi-Wan followed, but Cody had seemingly vanished.

 

"Oh now this is going to be more difficult than I thought," Obi-wan mused aloud, leaving the bridge. He walked down the hallway, thinking of trying Cody's quarters next when a familiar helmeted head poked out of an alcove.

 

"Sir," Boil neatly stepped in beside him, arms clasped around his back. 

 

"Boil, it's good to see you," Obi-Wan said sincerely, smiling at the Sergeant. 

 

"Likewise, Sir. Are you, um," Boil trailed off, suddenly hesitant. "Am I correct to assume you're looking for the Commander?" he asked, voice a little quieter. Obi-Wan's brow raised in surprise. 

 

"That would be a fair assumption, yes Boil," he said, sensing the unease from the trooper. 

 

"You didn't hear it from me, but he's been spending a lot of time recently in the training room in the lower levels, the one that most of us can't be bothered to use since it's so far away," Boil said quickly. A lance of guilt shot through the Force. Obi-Wan frowned and stopped walking to face his Sergeant  

 

"He didn't want you to tell me," Obi-Wan presumed, and Boil's head lowered. The trooper shuffled his feet uncomfortably, not looking up.

 

"We're worried about him, Sir. But he gave me orders not to tell you his whereabouts. Frankly, Sir, I think he's hiding from you," Boil cringed after admitting that. Obi-Wan sighed lengthily.

 

"More than you know, my friend," he said, grimacing. "Not to worry, Boil. If he finds out, I will tell him that I ordered you to tell me," he said definitively. Boil's head shot up, confused. Obi-Wan grinned conspiratorially. "Cody is not the only commanding officer you have," he added. Boil let out a sound that was something of an aborted laugh.

 

"Understood Sir," he said, sounding more at ease. 

 

"Right, then I will go find our disappeared Commander," Obi-wan said, already pivoting on his heel.

 

"Oh, Sir?" Boil called out, like he had just remembered something important. Obi-Wan twisted back around, curious. 

 

"You may want to stop by the medbay. Wooley and Kix told me that Cody has been neglecting his bacta wrappings on his hand. He uh, injured it. He might listen to you though, if you tell him to take care of himself," Boil said awkwardly. Obi-Wan hummed thoughtfully, tilting his head, his gaze landing on the bacta patch on Boil's own nose accompanied by a nearly-healed black eye.

 

"Yes, Kix did make me aware of his injury. I'll be sure to bring some supplies. Thank you for the information," he reached out and patted Boil's shoulder encouragingly. "You're a good man, Boil. Thank you for looking out for him," he said with a warm smile. Boil fidgeted, surprised.

 

"Thank you, Sir. Wait no, um, you're welcome," he mumbled, eyebrows scrunched together in confusion on which option he was supposed to say. Obi-Wan chuckled and patted Boil's shoulder one more time for good measure before turning and making his exit.

 

Kix was in the medbay, doing inventory, his back to the entrance. Jesse was sitting on one of the cots, though he didn't appear to be injured and so was likely just keeping Kix company on his shift. The ARC gave Obi-Wan a brief nod at his entrance, but remained relaxed and at-ease.

 

"I've been told to get some bacta and supplies for Cody's hand before I see him. I understand he might not have been the most well-behaved patient," Obi-Wan said in lieu of a greeting. Kix scoffed and glanced back at him, one eyebrow raised.

 

"That's putting it mildly. If I could strap him to one of these beds to keep that di'kut from aggravating his wounds, I would. He’s almost as bad as you," he said, already rifling through some drawers and pulling out some medical wrappings. Obi-Wan cringed at the comparison. It had spread through both battalions that he was… evasive of the medics. "As it is, our dear Marshal Commander is rather slippery when he wants to be, and I can't keep accurate tabs on him," Kix closed the drawer aggressively.

 

"I've been finding that out myself," Obi-Wan agreed with a sigh. Kix approached him and dropped a handful of wrappings into his arms. 

 

"You tell him if he keeps avoiding the medbay that I will sedate him," he warned, completely serious, brown eyes flashing. Behind him, Jesse let out an amused snort. Kix's head whipped around. "You are not one to talk!" he accused the ARC, and Jesse fell instantly silent at the rebuke. Obi-Wan chuckled lightly at their antics. 

 

"Well, thank you Kix. I will be sure to let Cody know when I find him," he assured, bowing his head politely to the medic. Kix gave Obi-Wan an approving nod before turning back to what he had been doing before. Now, all Obi-Wan had to do was find Cody.

 

---

 

The door to the training room opened with a hiss, and Cody didn't need to turn to know who had finally found him. He ground his teeth together and took a moment to raise his mental shields, slamming his fist into the training dummy, refusing to turn around. He'd been at it for a while. The past few weeks all of his off-duty time had been spent in one training room or another, working out his emotions in the only way he really knew how. For all the higher-ups and nat-borns thought of him being more level-headed and rational than his brothers, he still processed his feelings through his fists like the rest of them. He knew he would be found in the old training room on the lower decks eventually, but he hadn't expected it so soon. Cody lowered his fists and sighed in exasperation.

 

"Boil," he said accusingly to Obi-Wan, still facing away. He tried not to look at the sizeable dent in the wall in front of him. That'd been from a week ago, when Cody had found out that he'd been sent on a 'mission' by the Jedi Council and kept from the General's funeral on purpose. It'd felt like a sick joke. He was still mad about it. Boil had found him, staring at the wall with a shattered, bloody hand hanging limply at his side. Boil had underestimated Cody's spatial awareness, because when he'd grabbed his shoulder Cody had rammed his elbow straight into Boil's nose. He'd spent the last few days in a state of semi-dissociation, functioning only well enough to do his duty. The General's return today had felt like an emotional dam breaking in his mind. He'd wanted to sort those feelings out on his own. Thanks to Boil, now he couldn't. 

 

"I don't think you gave him much of a choice," Obi-Wan acknowledged from the doorway. Cody clenched his bad fist, letting the pain focus him just a bit. He couldn't find the courage to turn and face Obi-Wan though. Instead, he planted his feet and swung his fist into the dummy with renewed fervor, ignoring his General in the doorway and the pain spiking up his arm. 

 

Great. Just great. He didn't kriffing need this right now. The next thing he was going to be putting his fist through would be Boil's face. And he'd mean it this time.

 

He wasn't even sure why he was so angry. The rest of the men had been happy and relieved when the General had returned to them alive. All he had felt was a nauseating clench in his chest followed by the most intense anger he'd ever experienced. He knew he was being childish by avoiding talking to Obi-Wan. He knew he was doing things he would chew out any of his men for doing. But the rage twisting his heart was fueling him, and made it impossible to think rationally. 

 

"Cody," there was a hint of admonishment in the General's voice. Kriff. Obi-Wan had no shabla right to lecture him. He twisted and landed a roundhouse kick to the dummy, knocking it loose from its stand and sending it flying across the room and into the opposite wall. He felt a small crack in his carefully maintained shield.

 

"Usen'ye!" the curse left his mouth, cracked and broken before he had a chance to stop himself, and Cody stilled in shock. He'd never used that kind of language in front of the General, his superior officer . Ice cold dread flooded his veins. Cody dared not even breathe. He'd kriffed up. 

 

"Udessi , Cody. At ease," Obi-Wan's soft voice sounded behind him, a bit closer. The Mando'a was an unfair move and Cody cursed his General's fluency in it. Cody pivoted partially and saw the General was now halfway between the door and him, hands raised a bit like he was approaching a wild animal. Cody wanted to laugh, Obi-Wan asking him to be at ease right now was ridiculous. Obi-Wan must have seen the incredulous look pass over Cody's face because he sighed, lowering his hands. "I know you don't want to see me right now, Cody," Obi-Wan started, his voice soft and concerned and so incredibly Obi-Wan that it made something constrict in Cody's chest. He turned back away from him, trying to settle the trembling in his hands. 

 

"With all due respect, General. I think you should leave," he said tightly, through gritted teeth. "I can't guarantee I won't do something that will get me court-martialed," he added. 

 

"I'm not here as your General, Cody," Obi-Wan said gently.

 

"All the same," Cody clenched his hands into fists, the spike of pain in his right a sharp reminder of what his actions could lead to. There was a slight rustling of what sounded like packaging. 

 

"I'm not about to have one of my men aggravate an injury if I can stop it. Kix is thinking of sedating you if you don't visit the medbay, you know," Obi-Wan said, and Cody turned to see that he had pulled out medical bandages and bacta. 

 

"Kix is not my medic," Cody snarled, even though they both knew that was a poor excuse. With how often the 212th and the 501st worked together, the two battalions had become incredibly close. The slight raise of Obi-Wan's eyebrow said as much. 

 

"Either way, I won't have you hurting yourself anymore," he said, taking another step forward so he was only a few paces away. Cody tensed at the proximity. There was a sad gleam in Obi-Wan's eyes, and Cody couldn't handle it directed at him. He took a step back, wanting nothing more than to run away. It was all too close, too much, too soon . He wasn't ready to deal with any of these feelings. "Will you step away from the training dummies and let me take a look at your hand?" Obi-Wan asked, his voice so quiet and almost pleading that it pushed at Cody's crumbling resolve. "You don't have to say anything. We don't have to talk, if that's what you want," Obi-Wan added. Another crack formed in Cody's shields. 

 

Cody swallowed thickly, feeling incredibly vulnerable. The fight quickly left him and he shuddered, the tension easing minutely from his limbs and making him feel cold. He couldn't meet Obi-Wan's gaze but nodded an affirmative. Obi-Wan led him silently to the benches on the side wall of the training room. He sat down, placing the medical wrappings and bacta down in front of him. After a moment's hesitation, Cody followed suit and sat down as well. After rifling through some of the packaging Obi-Wan held out his hand. It took Cody a second to realize he was asking for him to show him his injury. 

 

He tried not to feel embarrassed when he offered Obi-Wan his hand. It didn't work and he looked dutifully at the wall, ignoring the rising flush in his cheeks. Obi-Wan’s fingers curled gently around Cody’s hand, and he carefully unsealed his glove at the wrist, pulling the skin-tight fabric back. Cody tried not to show the flinch of pain at the tug. Evidently not succeeding by the way Obi-Wan's fingers twitched. Obi-Wan placed Cody's glove on the bench next to the medical supplies. 

 

Obi-Wan leaned in a bit, inspecting the blotchy multicolored bruising, the red from broken capillaries, and the very new scarring from where the bone had broken through skin. Some of the scars had re-opened - again - from his decidingly not 'taking it easy'. The blood from the reopened wounds was already mostly coagulated, save for one that was still slightly seeping. Obi-Wan made an aborted hum in his throat, like he wanted to say something but didn’t want to make it sound like he was lecturing Cody again. Obi-Wan gently tilted Cody's hand back and forth, noticing where he winced. His thumb stroked soothingly, probably unconsciously over his skin and Cody almost pulled away, his heartrate skyrocketing. 

 

"I'll go see Kix, sir," he mumbled with a bit of a frantic edge, breaking the fragile silence. "Or - or Wooley. They can do this, it's their job," he stammered. Obi-Wan hummed, the sound deep in his chest and Cody should not like that sound as much as he does. 

 

"I'm trained in field medicine of this sort," Obi-Wan said quietly, reaching down and grabbing a medical cleaning swab. He ran the swab over the new cuts carefully, keeping Cody still in a gentle hold as he twitched. "I've caused you many wounds, my friend. Some of which I'm afraid I won't be able to mend," Obi-Wan finished cleaning the blood from Cody's hand and placed the swab on the bench. Cody let out a shaky exhale. 

 

Obi-Wan's hands are warm, Cody's traitorous brain helpfully informed him. The battle-worn calluses reminded Cody of his own, though Obi-Wan's were from a lightsaber while Cody's a blaster. Cody shuddered, the skin-to-skin contact, as small as it was, was overwhelming. Obi-Wan started to place small patches of bacta onto Cody's skin, ripping sections from the perforated set made for various hand injuries. He pressed down on the patches firmly but gentle, his fingers skirting across the edges to feel for seams. It was all too intimate and exactly what Cody had been trying to avoid, because his shield came crashing down. 

 

"I thought you were dead," he said it so quietly that he wasn't even sure Obi-Wan had heard him. But Obi-Wan's movements stalled, meaning he had. "They told us you were dead, and I wasn't there for you. Your Council," Cody couldn't quite keep the vindictive snarl out of his voice, "sent me on a mission so I couldn't even attend your funeral." Cody's voice broke and he hung his head, taking his hand back slowly, overwhelmed by the contact. "You were dead," he repeated with quiet, broken emphasis. He saw a distant shudder pass through Obi-Wan, and the Jedi looked away from him.

 

"You were shielding all of this from me?" Obi-Wan asked, a breathy quality in his voice that Cody hadn't heard before that almost made him shiver. Too close, too much, too soon.

 

"It's inappropriate, Sir. My feelings a- were inappropriate," he gritted out, his hands unconsciously clenching into fists again. Obi-Wan reached out and grabbed his injured hand, and Cody bit back his gasp. Obi-Wan gently uncurled Cody's fist, the callused pads of his fingers pressing his palm open with a tenderness that almost made Cody want to cry.

 

"I'm not here as your General," Obi-Wan reminded him kindly. He picked up some of the wrappings, starting from Cody's wrist and winding it around attentively. "I -" Obi-Wan hesitated, his hands dropping slightly, "I don't want you to feel like you have to hide your emotions from me," he said, picking back up with wrapping Cody's hand. "It's never inappropriate to express your feelings, and I am sorry for making you feel like you couldn't," Obi-Wan's fingers stilled as he paused in thought, he lightly squeezed Cody's hand. It felt like he was squeezing Cody's heart. "I'm sorry for a lot of things, Cody. Ni ceta. " Obi-Wan's voice was barely above a whisper. Cody's breath caught at the apology, a phrase in Mando'a that was so rare he'd never actually heard anyone say it out loud. 

 

"Sir, I don't-" Cody choked on his words, "I don't blame you." His voice was definitely shaking now. "I don't even blame your karking Council," Cody gritted his teeth in his attempt to not sound entirely scornful. Because maybe he did blame them. A bit. "I just-" Cody inhaled shakily and bit his lip against the tightness in his throat and the tears threatening the corners of his eyes. "Cui ogir'olar ," he bit out, unable to bring himself to say it. Hut'uun, his mind accused in its rampant self-deprecation. Obi-Wan frowned while continuing to wind the bandages around Cody's fingers and knuckles in a practiced and intricate pattern. 

 

"I think it's far from irrelevant, my dear friend," Obi-Wan chastised softly. He ripped the excess bandage off and tucked it inside the rest, finishing the first aid. He didn't let go of Cody's hand though and Cody couldn't find it in himself to pull away. "You are my second in command, and a loyal friend who is very precious to me. Your thoughts and feelings are quite a high priority to me," Obi-Wan's finger trailed over the newly finished bandage. Cody's breath hitched. Shields, dams, walls, protection. Too much.

 

"Sir, I think I need to be transferred to a different battalion," Cody's words came out in a rush of air. Obi-Wan's hands on his flinched hard. 

 

"W-what?" Obi-Wan stammered and it took all of the control Cody had left in him to keep him from looking Obi-Wan in the face. He'd never heard that tone of voice in the Jedi before. "Cody what are you talking about?" he demanded with more urgency. Cody shook his head slowly, pulling his hand back. He turned away from Obi-Wan and towards the wall, his chest tight and constricting. "Cody," Obi-Wan emphasized, and then further decimated Cody's defenses by placing his hands on either side of his cheeks. Cody flinched . And it was only then that he noticed that he was crying, the tears welling up against Obi-Wan's palms. "Gedet'ye, Cody, rejorhaa'ir ni," Obi-Wan sounded on the edge of desperation. 

 

"Sir, I'm compromised," Cody said, his voice cracking on the word, wet and broken. He shuddered at the admission. Something like this could get him reconditioned. It was well against regulations, against everything he was taught, and completely unbecoming of his rank. That he was telling Obi-Wan at all was a testament to how much he trusted him. Or how far he had fallen. He wasn't sure which. He pulled himself away from Obi-Wan and stumbled off of the bench in a poorly-veiled escape. Obi-Wan watched him with his eyebrows drawn together in confusion. Cody would have found it cute if he wasn't about to lose his kriffing mind.

 

"Compromised? Cody that's ridic-"

 

"SirIhavefeelingsforyou," it all came out in one burst. Obi-Wan went inhumanly still. Cody fidgeted, trying to keep his breathing even as he stood in front of him with all of his barriers stripped. "I'm not fit to be your second," he said with a bit more conviction, finally meeting Obi-Wan's gaze. This was something he had to do. Obi-Wan looked like he'd been hit in the head. Then he seemed to come back to himself with a shake. 

 

"Cody," he whispered, voice hoarse. 

 

Ah. No. Time to leave.

 

Cody turned on his heel and started to walk away. He'd never considered himself the type to run away. No clone did. It went against everything they were born to do, everything they had been taught. But now he may as well be the worst kind of coward. Then again, nothing had taught him about this.

 

"Cody ," Obi-Wan called after him, followed by some very un-Jedi-like stumbling. Cody made it to the door but it didn't open. Not even when he tried the emergency lock. It took him a tick to realize. Cody had a few choice Mandalorian curses for jetiise right then.

 

"General, open the door," he gritted out. 

 

"I don't think so, my friend," Obi-Wan said, sounding strangely out of breath. Cody fidgeted, blocked from his escape. "Cody, please. I just want to talk," Obi-Wan pleaded behind him. Cody shuddered. 

 

"General, I would prefer to not hear your rejection. I already know. I don't… I don't need to hear it as well. But you deserved to know my reason for leaving," Cody couldn't turn around, he dropped his forehead to the cool durasteel of the door.

 

"For Goddess' sake, Cody, turn around!" Obi-Wan's voice took on a clipped quality that was just on the side of angry. It startled Cody so much that he spun around almost on instinct, back straightening. Whether it was from surprise or that it felt like an order, Cody wasn't sure, but he was suddenly face-on with a distressed, exasperated Obi-Wan. 

 

Obi-Wan took several seconds to calm down, his breathing noticeably controlled. His face scrunched and he ran a hand down his face, sighing. 

 

"Force . Cody, that wasn't an order. At ease," Obi-Wan sighed, muttering what sounded like a curse in a language Cody didn't recognize. Cody felt the insane urge to laugh again at that statement. He was losing it. He attempted to ease the rigidity of his posture, but the tension was making his body ramrod straight. 

 

"Sir, I ju-" Cody was cut off with a single raised hand from Obi-Wan, the Jedi still looking down at the floor in exasperation. 

 

"Anakin has a wife," Obi-Wan said plainly, like it explained kriffing anything

 

"What?" Cody found himself making the incredulous face he usually only made around his vode. Because it was an expression that Rex had once called 'impressively unprofessional.'

 

"Let me finish," Obi-Wan said, the hand still raised in the air. Cody quieted reluctantly, wary of where this train of thought was going. "Anakin has a wife. Has had a wife for a few years now. I would like to say it came as a surprise, but it didn't." Cody mused silently that he knew exactly who Obi-Wan was talking about. He just didn't know why. "The Jedi have a strict Code. We are not supposed to form attachments, to keep ourselves and those we love from being used by the Dark Side." Cody was… unfortunately well aware of the Jedi Code and its dictation on attachments, even if he didn't completely understand why. Which meant this was likely a long-winded and poetic rejection in true Jedi fashion. Maybe Cody had thought too soon that he wasn't going to punch Obi-Wan today. 

 

"As it is, we are sentient beings. And remaining truly neutral is not something most, if any of us, can achieve. Anakin is far from the first Jedi to break the Code in this way, and he won't be the last," Obi-Wan trailed off, gathering his thoughts. Cody didn't want to interrupt, but the pause ignited his already frayed nerves. 

 

"Sir, with all due respe-"

 

"I've struggled with attachment since I was a Padawan. I suppose Anakin never had much of a role model for that teaching, no matter how I tried," Obi-Wan's tone was straying dangerously into 'musing' territory, meaning he had about a 50% chance to roll into a tangential story. Obi-Wan frowned and rubbed at his face, a habit that made more sense with his customary beard.

 

"I suppose I'm getting off topic," he mumbled, and Cody inwardly praised his self-restraint of not verbally agreeing with him. "This war, what I have had to do, what the Order has had me do, has had me question my beliefs and my teachings as a Jedi. We are supposed to be Peacekeepers, yet I am a commanding officer in one of the bloodiest wars our Galaxy has seen. I've been used in deceit, counter-espionage, and purposefully used my student's attachments to me against him as a tool to complete a mission. I've had people I care about die in my arms from my actions. How can I call myself a Jedi?"

 

Cody had no idea how to respond to that, only stare at Obi-Wan with wide eyes. Obi-Wan's blue eyes seemed to glow even brighter with the shine of unshed tears. 

 

"I have - the Order itself - has broken so much of the Code at this point. And I've chosen the Code too many times before over my emotions. I'm not sure I can do it again. Not anymore. After everything I have already done against the Code, feeling love and attachment is the least of my worries," Obi-Wan wiped at his eyes, hiding a rueful, shaky smile behind his hand. Cody's heart absolutely hammered in his chest. Every muscle in his body was completely frozen. 

 

"Sir-"

 

"I'm not here as your General," Obi-Wan reiterated, and Cody was starting to see why that distinction mattered to him. He stepped forward, reaching out again and taking Cody's bandaged hand, still frozen at his side. He caressed the new bandages with a thoughtful, delicate air. "The Code dictates that what you told me should not influence me," he said, and Cody stopped breathing. He brought Cody's hand closer to his face and Cody just let himself be led like he was in a trance. "But it does. It makes me happy. And I'm tired of letting a Code we have forsaken dictate my happiness," he whispered before pressing a soft kiss to his wrapped knuckles, promptly causing Cody's brain to short-circuit. 

 

Cody let out a garbled set of consonants that may have been some kind of prayer. Obi-Wan's eyes crinkled as he chuckled at Cody's ungraceful reaction. Cody's knees buckled. He dutifully ignored the amusement in Obi-Wan's face as he helped him to the ground. 

 

"Are you all right, Cody?" he asked, not entirely successful at keeping the affectionate mirth from his tone. Cody lifted his head only to give Obi-Wan his most baleful glare. Then Obi-Wan's words sunk in again and his face crumpled.

 

"Sir, we can't," he breathed. "You're still my superior officer. And I'm not wor- You can't break your Code for me," Cody changed his wording mid-sentence at the sharp glint in Obi-Wan's eye at the implication Cody was not worthy. Obi-Wan smiled sadly and reached out to trace a tentative finger over Cody's scar. Cody's eyelids fluttered traitorously at the touch. 

 

"On the contrary, my dear," and oh that had a physical effect on Cody that was entirely unfair. "You report to me, and I only report to the Jedi Council and the Chancellor. And both parties I am more than happy to omit information to, for more than one reason," he said with a conspiratorial smile on his lips. Cody rolled his eyes.

 

"So what you're saying is 'I'm a General and I'll do what I want'," he translated. Obi-Wan's grin spread.

 

"The perks of the job, my dear Cody," he chuckled. 

 

"I still can't let you throw away your Code for me. That's not what I intended when I confessed," Cody argued. Part of him was screaming at this side of himself because why was he arguing!? Obi-Wan sighed, but he didn't sound sad or exasperated.

 

"Intention or not, I'm afraid I have already broken the Code by not letting go of my feelings for you back when I first felt them," he explained, Obi-Wan's hand slid softly over Cody's face until he lightly cupped his cheek. "Years ago I nearly left the Jedi Order for someone that I loved. But I didn't. And that decision has given me only heartbreak. I won't do it again," Obi-Wan murmured as he looked away. "I will remain in the Order for the duration of this war, because I have a duty to protect you and our men. And my current position is where I can do that to the best of my ability. But," Obi-Wan visibly swallowed, the light hold on Cody's cheek twitching minutely. "When the war is over, I'm leaving the Order."

 

Cody jolted in his surprise, eyes going wide. Obi-Wan was going to leave the Order? Was… Was it even okay for him to be saying this? To be telling Cody?

 

"Sir," he murmured, voice carefully quiet.

 

"My dear, I hope when this is over you will stay by my side. And that you will be with me now," Obi-Wan's fingers curled around Cody's jawline. Cody stared at his General in pure disbelief. He felt like he'd been punched in the chest. 

 

" Haar'chak," Cody wheezed, and continued to curse fluently under his breath even as he surged forward and kissed his General. It was inexperienced and clumsy and Obi-Wan gasped into it, falling a bit and catching himself on his arm. And the only thought that resonated in Cody's head was mar'e. Kriffing finally. Cody pulled back slightly to press his forehead to Obi-Wan's, his hands gently cradling Obi-Wan's face. "Atin, mesh'la, di'kutla jetii," he murmured, the words falling from his lips like a prayer.

 

"I don't think all of those are compliments," Obi-Wan chuckled, his thumb stroking against Cody's cheekbone. 

 

"That's because they aren’t," Cody agreed, leaning in and kissing him again, feeling Obi-Wan's laugh against his lips. Cody pulled back, leveling Obi-Wan a serious look that was greatly affected by the glorious flush on Obi-Wan’s face and likely his own. He swallowed, unable to maintain eye contact as he asked “are you sure about this?” It took a fair amount of self control not to tack on ‘sir’ at the end of that question. Obi-Wan let out an amused little snort.

 

“My dear Commander,” he breathed, pressing a light kiss to Cody’s temple. And wasn’t it Obi-Wan who had insisted they weren’t here as superior and subordinate? “I am,” he pressed his lips to Cody’s forehead, “perhaps the most sure,” he kissed the side of Cody’s jaw, “I have ever been,” and pressed a final slow, warm kiss to Cody’s lips. Cody would tease him for being a karking sap if he weren’t lightheaded from it.

 

"The men are going to find out. I can't keep a secret from them," he admitted as Obi-Wan's fingers brushed over the short hair at his nape. The motion sent a warm, pleasant buzz down his spine. 

 

"I understand that. But it does not worry me. By now the entirety of the 501st and a good portion of the 212th know about Anakin. You all are remarkably good at keeping your gossip between yourselves," Obi-Wan assured with a chuckle. Cody supposed that was true, though he had a feeling his men would undoubtedly stop pulling their punches when it came to teasing him in the future. He could still put them on KP. And he would be merciless.

 

"Does this mean you will stop resisting me when I tell you to rest or see a medic?" Cody asked, though he already knew the practical answer. It was no. But this did mean that he had much stronger ammunition when it came to forcing Obi-Wan to take care of himself for a change. 

 

"I have no idea what you are talking about," Obi-Wan said in a scandalized tone, though he had that shit-eating grin on his face that made Cody want to throttle him. "Will you?" Obi-Wan countered, holding up Cody's bandaged hand between them and raising an incredulous eyebrow. That was a low blow. Cody snatched his hand back so he could pull Obi-Wan's face closer with a firm grip on his chin.

 

"I will if you don't fake your death again," he threatened. "Do not pull that osik on me. I can't lose you like that again. We are in this together," he poked an accusatory finger into Obi-Wan's chest, just above his heart. Obi-Wan offered him a sad, rueful smile and put a hand to Cody's cheek, his thumb brushing away the small, angry tears that had sprung up. He leaned forward, his hand sliding to the back of Cody's head as he pressed their foreheads together in a kov'nyn with a steady, comforting pressure. 

 

"Tome. You and me," he agreed. Cody let a few peaceful moments pass before he broached the topic that had been driving him insane since the General had arrived.

 

“Is now a good time to beg you to grow your hair back?” he whispered.

 

“You don’t even have to ask," Obi-Wan groaned, clearly he had already heard this sentiment, but Cody thought it bore repeating.

 

“You look terrible bald, Sir," he stressed. Obi-Wan sighed.

 

“I know, Cody.”