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i'll orbit your flickering star

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Cody sees his general off to the Resolute the next morning and the 212th arrive over Bantooine the day after, ready to do their bit as temporary law enforcement. It’s a mundane mop-up assignment that the commander is expecting to last only a week before Kenobi summons him back to Kiros for rendezvous- but then a week turns to a ten-day turns to over two ten-days with no word from the jedi.

This many planets away, there is no niggling sense of Obi-Wan in the base of his skull, and Cody is beginning to worry, even as he robotically goes through the motions of organizing shifts, leading his own patrols, monitoring inventory, getting the people of Bantooine back on their feet. He hadn’t known much of the infiltration plan for Zygerria, but he’d been under the impression that it was being treated as a time-critical thing to be wrapped up quickly, not some long and deep undercover op.

By the time his comm finally goes off, he’s quite beyond having completed his battalion’s mission and the 212th are essentially dawdling through the streets looking for trouble that’s long since left for greener pastures. He’s sitting alone in their temporary barracks when he receives the transmission - but instead of his general’s face he’s greeted with Skywalker’s tense visage, the young man’s eyes clearly otherwise occupied even as he opens the call; he must be piloting. “Cody, you there?”

“Yessir, receiving you loud and clear.” He hears Commander Tano’s voice in the background calling out coordinates, but no one else. “Are General Kenobi and Rex not with you?”

Skywalker grimaces. “About that… we lost the mission on the first day, got captured. Ahsoka and I were kept at the Zygerrian palace but Obi-Wan and Rex got shipped off-planet to some labor facility with the missing Togrutans.”

Cody balks. “They’ve been there for weeks? Ah kar’e, Skywalker-”

“I know,” the jedi snaps. “But we’ve got a location and we’re en route to pull them out.”

Cody’s on his feet now, restless, running rough hyperspace calcs in his head. “If I start loading the men now we can be in Zygerrian space early tomorrow-”

“No,” Anakin interrupts him. “Just…. Start heading to the rendezvous. We’ll handle this and meet you over Kiros as planned.”

“Sir, you can’t get 300 people out of that facility without backup.”

“I’m not,” the young knight says, a hint of resentment sinking into his tone, glancing away from his ship’s controls to meet Cody’s eyes for an instant. “I called in Master Koon. He’s closer and already en route.”

And Cody’s not going to pretend that doesn’t rankle a bit, but he nods stiffly. “Very well, sir. We’ll see you over Kiros. Cody out.”

 

*** 

 

The commander paces the bridge as they come into Kiros’s orbit, despite knowing that his restlessness has no place or purpose: there will be no battle to fight, no need to drum up his adrenaline. He is simply here to collect the aftermath of other mens’ battles.

They’re greeted by General Koon’s flagship already in orbit alongside the Resolute, though Cody thinks everyone must still be working aboard the first ship, judging from the swarm of smaller transports flitting around it and occasionally peeling off to drop down to the planet surface. 

“Alice.” The pilot snaps to attention at his call. “Get me a transport ready to jump ships. I’ll be in the hangar in 10.”

“Yessir!” the lieutenant salutes.

Cody turns back to his officers. “We’ll not be here long, I imagine. Do we have the fuel for a direct jump to Coruscant?”

“Yessir, just barely.”

“Ready the ship, then. Departure in as little as two hours.” He turns and stalks out of the bridge.

 

The hangar of General Koon’s ship has largely emptied as they touch down. Cody spies Rex perched on a crate in the corner, being fussed over by his medic, while Skywalker is standing in conversation with General Koon, Tano, and an elderly Togrutan male. Kenobi is conspicuously absent.

The commander makes his way over to the group of jedi, who pause their conversation to let him step into the fold. “Generals. I’ve just pulled the 212th into orbit; will you be requiring any further assistance?”

Skywalker glances around his group for any protestations before answering. “Commander Cody, thanks for joining us. No, I think we’ve just about got it handled. Uh, how was your mission? I guess I should send the council an update.”

Cody blinks, because normally Kenobi would handle that. “Fine, sir. I’ll forward you my report. Where’s the general, if I may ask?”

“Great. Um…” the younger jedi turns to look back towards his captain. “He was with Rex a minute ago. Not sure where he’s gone now.”

And isn’t that just like Kenobi. “Fine, sir. I’ll likely be starting the Negotiator’s jump back towards Coruscant, then, if we’re not needed here.”

At Skywalker’s nod, Cody salutes and turns to jog over to Rex, Kix stepping aside to let the commander place his hands on his vod’s shoulders, looking him over from arms’ length. The blonde captain is thin and tired and has a nasty lash across his jaw, but… he looks ok.

“I’m all good, Cody,” he says quietly, after submitting to the inspection for a moment.

The commander releases him, sinks onto the crate beside him, lets Kix move back in and apply stitches to his captain’s face. “What happened?”

Rex grimaces. “No one thing. It just… went tits up, couple hours in. You know how these things are.”

“And you’re really ok? Skywalker said you got dumped into some kind of labor camp.”

The captain gives him a wry look. “Yea, ori’vod, just a little sore. I do know how to keep my head down when I need to.” He sobers a little. “You, uh, you should probably go check on your jetii, though. He was putting up a good front when we got out, but… They really had it out for him.”

Cody’s stomach twists, leaving him suddenly nauseous. “What happened.”

“He kept trying to help the others and towards the end when they couldn’t get him to quit they just started killing off anyone he helped, interacted with.”

Cody is silent, grinding his teeth against the black rage swelling up inside him.

Rex watches him for a moment. “When he heard the Negotiator had come out of hyperspace he hopped on the next drop planetside so that he could get dropped at your ship on the way back.”

Cody stands, sighing at this game of cat-and-mouse between ships, and Rex kicks at his boot before the commander moves away. “You’re right about him, Cody. He’s a good man.”

“Thanks, vod. See you on Coruscant.”

 

*** 

 

Cody heads straight for his general’s quarters the second he hits the deck of the Negotiator, pausing only to let the bridge know that everyone is onboard and that they can depart as soon as they’re ready. He knows better than to hope that Kenobi would visit the medbay unless the jedi were in the realm of death or permanent injury.

The clone knocks at his jetii’s door, waits, knocks again, stands stranded in the hallway at the answering silence. His unease grows, mind tumbling over Rex’s words, until finally he huffs and punches in the doorcode that he probably shouldn’t know - but his general never covers the pad when they enter this room together. He’ll beg forgiveness later.

Kenobi is sitting on his knees in the center of the room, still in his scorched and tattered robes, as Cody slips inside and closes the door behind himself. The jedi’s back is straight, his shoulders too thin and too still. He’s silent, but tears track down through the soot and grime on his unwashed face, despite the fact that his expression is open and not screwed up against the grief.

The clone approaches cautiously, anger swallowed down by his sympathetic grief, and kneels down in front of his jetii. “General.” He puts his hands on the man’s shoulders, not to look him over as with Rex, but to reinforce his own presence. When his jedi shudders out a sigh and his eyes sharpen on Cody’s own, though, the commander finds that he doesn’t quite know what to say. “...we should get you some cleaner robes,” he finally mutters.

He shifts his weight to stand but stops as the jedi keens out a non-verbal protest, pulling Cody forward to rest his forehead against the clone’s shoulder. The commander freezes for an instant and then settles, hands coming back up to rest on the back of the jedi’s neck. His anger bubbles up again as his fingers brush over tissue that’s swollen and heated from just-healing electrical burns and he tries to swallow the emotion down, searching for calm. “Sir, Obi-Wan… it’s ok. You’re ok.”

His jetii shudders, breathing deep but shaky, the closest Cody has ever seen him to the full-body sobs he’s seen wracking troopers on occasion. “I just wanted to help,” Kenobi finally croaks, voice thin. “But all I did was cause pain. And worse. 23 dead because of me.”

“You’re not the reason they’re dead,” Cody murmurs softly. “The slavers killed them. Not you.”

Kenobi keens again, low and pained, his hands bunched in the hems of his tunics. “I'm so tired of hurting people,he whispers. 

Cody slides his hands to the jedi’s shoulders, pushes him back so that they’re looking each other in the eye again. “No. No. You’re a good person. There are so many people you’re helping.”

Obi-Wan’s eyes are still swimming in unshed tears, deep and blue and sad. “Jedi aren’t meant to be soldiers.” 

It’s a familiar refrain, delivered sometimes in anger, sometimes in spite, and now in a wrenching mournfulness. Cody sits back, his own eyes sad. “No. But you’re one of the best of us, nevertheless.”

They kneel there on Kenobi’s meditation mat, Cody doing his best to be a calm presence, until the clone’s feet start to prickle and fall asleep and he wrenches himself upright, rummages through the little closet next to the general’s bunk, finds a set of clean pants and something that looks like a shirt- he doesn’t really know how the intricately folded robes work. Tossing the clothes into the ‘fresher, he turns and pulls his general to his feet, pushes him in after them. “Rinse the dust off, sir, it’ll help. I’ll be here when you’re done.”

The jedi allows himself to be herded into the little room and Cody sighs, digging through his general’s belongings once again to find the stash of bacta and bandages that he knows Kenobi keeps in here, before settling into a chair to wait.

When his jetii emerges with his hair in a wet mop and his skin pinked from the shower, he looks at least marginally better. He’s neglected to put a shirt on, and when he turns to throw his soiled robes into the sonic cleaner, Cody sees why- the man’s back is a mess of twisted burns and lashes, some well scabbed over, others weeping pale liquid, not quite bleeding outright. He sucks in a breath, suddenly concerned that his field medicine experience isn’t going to be adequate. “Sir… we might want to have Kipper or Helix look that over,” he ventures.

Instead of the usual flippant avoidance of the medbay, he gets Kenobi turning to him with a crumbling expression. “Cody, please, no- I can’t right now. Please,” he pleads, voice cracking.

“Let me put something on them then.”

At Kenobi’s nodded assent, he drags over the spare chair they’d stolen from the mess and set for Cody at the general’s desk, lets the jedi straddle it and sit with his forearms and forehead resting against the seatback.

He starts gently dabbing bacta into the cuts and burns, trying not to listen to the way his jetii’s breathing quickens when he gets to the ones near the man’s neck, smoothing bandages over any wounds that might threaten to bleed.

He’s just finishing when he sees the brand - 5 tiny numbers seared into the skin above Kenobi’s collarbone, setting his blood boiling anew. He forces his hand not to shake, brushes a thumb over the raised marks. “What did they do.” His voice is a low, flat growl.

Obi-Wan flinches minutely at his tone. “It happened early. It’s healed.”

Cody wants to break something but he just turns away, forcing stiff normalcy back into his tone. “Let me get the scar gel.”

“I thought I might keep it. As a reminder.” 

The clone spins back around to find his jedi standing now, facing him, and has to remind himself not to clench the tube of ointment so tightly lest it burst out of its lid in his grasp. “No,” he protests sharply, surprising himself with his own vehemence. He takes a breath, tries again more gently. “No. You shouldn’t have to think of this every time you look in a mirror. And no one should ever look at you and see something less than what you are. You’re more than a serial.”

The jedi looks on the verge of breaking down again as Cody slowly approaches, but doesn’t move away or protest. “So are you, Kote.” His voice grows more fragile, almost desperate. “Did I- did I ever call you by anything but your name?”

Cody smooths the gel over the brand with his thumb, eyes glued to his task. “No, sir. Never.” 

His jetii shivers at the touch, breath shallow, and Cody continues talking as he opens another bandage, smooths it over the wet gel. “I was CC-2224 for years before I was Kote or Cody. That’s a part of who I am, and it’s different. But no, you’ve never called me that.”

Kenobi meets his gaze, soaks in the words, still looking thin and close to breaking. Eventually he closes his eyes. “I’m sorry, you must think me weak, going to pieces like this. I just…” his eyes flutter open. “I can’t stop seeing them die.”

Cody shakes his head. “I’ve never thought that, sir.” Remembering how Kenobi had embraced him, once, he opens his arms in invitation, and the jedi steps into the hug with only a moment’s hesitation, shuddering a few more breaths into the clone’s shoulder before his own shoulders relax.

The clone holds the embrace for a while, trying to imagine himself as some embodiment of peace and strength, something for his jetii to draw from. Finally he steps back. “You should catch some sleep.”

Obi-Wan sighs. “If I sleep, I’ll dream,” he murmurs. “I… really don’t want to dream, right now.”

Cody looks away, deliberating, and then pulls one of the padded round chairs over near the head of the bunk, snags Kenobi’s datapad and tosses it in the seat. “I’ll keep watch, sir, and wake you if you do. I gotta look at some numbers anyway. Please, sleep.”

The general stares at him a moment, eyes soft and brimming with some unstated emotion, and finally assents. “Very well… I suppose you won’t take no for an answer.” He putters around the cabin a few moments more and then crawls into the bunk, curls into the far wall. 

Cody toes off his boots and settles into the chair for yet another vigil. Contrary to the man’s worries, his general quickly falls into an exhausted sleep, and doesn’t stir til dawn.

 

***

 

The commander is woken from a light doze by Kenobi moving about the cabin, preparing tea. He rubs sleep from his eyes, checks his wrist chrono - it’s early morning. He must have drifted off once it seemed like his jedi would sleep safely through the night.

The general notices him stir and nods a greeting. “Cody. You didn’t have to stay- but thank you all the same,” he hurries to add. He lifts the forgotten datapad off of Cody’s leg, replaces it with a carefully balanced cup of steaming caf. 

Cody lifts it gratefully. “I was happy to stay, sir. Don’t mention it.”

Kenobi sighs, perching on the edge of his bunk to face his commander, his own cup of tea in hand. “All the same, I feel I must apologize for last night. That was not particularly professional of me.”

Cody frowns. “Sir - Obi-Wan - all due respect, but you’re not just my commanding officer; you’re my jetii, my friend. I’m here for you in all those capacities, in any way you need or want me to be.”

The jedi’s cheeks inexplicably flush pink a little at that, and he drops his eyes to his mug, watching the steam swirl up. “Cody… that sentiment means a great deal to me. Truly. But for… reasons I feel I can’t, shouldn’t, explain, I-” he pauses, searching for words, voice hesitant. “I can’t fully take advantage of your offer. I feel I would overstep.”

“Sir, I-”

“Cody. Please, don’t push me into this corner,” he pleads, eyes desperate. “Besides, you have more than enough on your plate as is; we don’t need to add my… issues.”

Disgruntled, Cody nevertheless drops the issue. “Very well, sir. But please don’t apologize for anything about yesterday.” His voice softens as he adds, “I was glad you trusted me.”

“With my life, Cody,” the jedi says, standing again. “Always.”