The 501st was about five miles out from the rendezvous point when the first bomb went off. The Sepratist forces had managed to ambush them from the South, the one direction they thought they weren’t worried about. There were mountains that were almost impossible to pass through, but the clankers had somehow found a way around it, or through it, for that matter.
The clones pressed forward, only four miles until the 212th would be meeting them for an evac. Rex ordered his men to engage the Separatists, but their main focus was to get beyond the ice ridge up ahead. Another bomb went off, and a handful of men were sent skidding across the ice. Kix did what he could to help them, but they had to keep moving.
Only three miles left. A tank fired. Rex saw it out of the corner of his eye, and in a split second, he shoved Tup out of the way, taking most of the brunt of the blast. The two ended up in a ravine, not far from the evac point.
Tup woke up first, his head pounding. He looked around, shivering slightly, and caught a glimpse of Rex to his left. He moved towards his brother, assessing his injuries.
“Rex,” Tup shook his shoulder. “Wake up.”
Rex didn’t move.
“ Vod , you have to wake up!” Tup shook him again.
“Rex!” Tup was on the verge of panicking. He looked down at his wrist and saw his comm was completely destroyed. Rex’s was too.
Rex stirred, his vision blurry.
“What, what happened? Tup?” He slurred his words, and it took all of his willpower not to close his eyes and pass out again. “Ni ciryc. Ni haryc. Ni ceta, ni ceta, ni ceta vod’ika.” Tup knew it was bad. He wasn’t fluent in Mando’a, not like some of the earliest batches off Kamino were, but he knew enough to decipher what Rex said. He was slipping, and blamed himself for their current ordeal.
“Yeah vod , it’s me. We got shot at, and fell into a ravine I think.” Tup assessed the damage done on Rex. “You’ve definitely got a concussion, so you need to stay awake. Can you do that for me, vod ?”
Rex nodded slowly, and his brain felt like it was rattling around in his skull. He was so tired. His eyelids flitted shut, and he tried to stay awake, he really did, but he couldn’t.
“Rex! You need to stay awake,” Tup said, frantically trying to wake Rex back up. Tup’s breaths started to fog up his bucket. He took it off. His hands shook. Hoth was really kriffing cold, he realized, and their armour could only do so much. If the sun set, then the two wouldn’t be able to survive for very long. Tup hoped that someone would be out looking for them. Well, someone would probably be out looking for Rex. He was the Captain of the 501st, and Tup was just a regular clone who happened to get stuck with said Captain.
Tup got colder and colder as time went by. He hugged Rex tight to his chest trying to conserve body heat. Rex woke up a few times, but each time he became more and more sluggish.
Tup shivered and his eyes began to close.
I’m sorry, Rex, he thought to himself, this was all my fault.
Suddenly, he heard familiar voices coming from above. He fought to keep his eyes open. He wanted to yell, to let them know they were down here, but his voice wouldn’t work.
“Commander,” a voice yelled, “I think I found them!”
Hurried footsteps approached Tup and Rex. Looking up, Tup’s eyes met Kix’s, and Tup knew that it would be safe to close his eyes.
Hours later, Tup awoke in the medbay. He looked frantically around for Rex, panicking when he didn’t catch sight of him. He started to get out of the bed, but a gentle hand on his shoulder stopped him.
“ Vod ,” Kix began, “Rex is ok, he’s just in a private room in the back. Nothing to worry about, I promise.”
Tup nodded shakily. Kix told him he had a minor concussion along with a touch of hypothermia. He instructed Tup to keep a blanket with him for a little while, in case he gets cold. Tup was discharged from the medbay three hours later.
He went to the barracks, the blanket wrapped firmly around his shoulders. He passed by Fives and Jesse, probably on their way to bother Kix.
“Hey, Tup! How are you feeling, Kixystix told me what happened,” Jesse said, ruffling Tup’s hair.
Tup just shrugged, not having the energy to do anything else. He was mentally drained, and as much as he cared about his brothers, he wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone.
“Alright, vod’ika , we’ll talk to you later,” said Fives, noticing that Tup didn’t want to be talked to, and just before he pulled Jesse around the corner, Fives flashed Tup a small smile. Tup smiled back, for once thankful that Fives could read him like an open book.
Entering the barracks, Tup noticed it was completely empty. His bunk was made, probably Dogma’s doing. He grabbed an extra blanket from Hardcase’s bed; Hardcase wouldn’t mind, Tup thought. He usually slept with Hevy most nights anyway. Tup layed down, trying to get comfortable but to no avail. Ultimately, after fidgeting around for Force knows how long, he decided to go back to the medbay. Hopefully Kix would let him sit near Rex, for peace of mind.
Kix let him into the back room reluctantly, saying that Tup really should be in the barracks getting some rest.
Rex woke up two days later, and, of course , Tup was still there, and had barely gotten a wink of sleep. Kix materialized at his side instantly.
“Hey Kixystix,” Rex slurred out.
“Don’t ‘Hey Kixystix’ me, Sir. Pardon my huttese, sir, but what the fuck?!? We-” Kix’s voice cracked, “-we thought you were dead.”
“I’m sorry, vod’ika , I won’t let it happen again. So, what’s the verdict?”
“Concussion, four broken ribs, a sprained wrist, and hypothermia.”
Tup jerked awake from a seemingly bad dream.
“Tup, are you okay?’ Rex asked, holding back a wince at shifting to look at his brother.
“Uh, yeah, I - I guess.”
“ Vod , when was the last time you went back to the barracks? How long have you been in those blacks, they’re caked in mud, Tup’ika .”
Tup shrugged. He hadn't really been aware of his physical appearance; he’d been too preoccupied with Rex’s wellbeing to care for himself.
“ Vod’ika ,” Rex’s voice was soft and comforting, but Tup still felt shaky, and he didn’t know why. “How about you go back to the barracks-” Tup made a noise of indignation; Rex continued anyway, “and change, maybe hit the ‘fresher, and then come back and we can talk.”
Tup nodded and slowly made his way out of the room. Rex coughed and then shivered, pulling the blanket tighter around himself.
“Kix,” Rex called out. “How long has Tup been here?”
“Two days. I couldn’t get him to sleep, Sir. I tried, but he just wouldn’t.”
Rex nodded. He fiddled with his blankets until Tup came back in, his hair damp from the shower. He sat down awkwardly in the chair next to Rex’s bed, refusing to make eye contact with his brother.
“Tup? How long have you been here?” Rex asked, even though he already knew the answer
“Two days,” Tup mumbled.
“ Tup’ika , you can’t --”
Tup cut him off. “I can’t what, Rex? Worry about you? You’re my brother and, and I wouldn’t know what to do if my delayed reaction time on Hoth cost you your life.”
Rex looked taken aback. Tup was usually pretty quiet, especially around ranking officers, let alone Rex, the literal Captain.
Immediately, Tup’s cheeks flushed, and he started to spout out a hurried apology.
“Hey, it’s okay. I’m glad you told me. But that was my decision to make, and I would make it again in a heartbeat. Now, why don’t you tell me why you’ve been here for two days, and not hanging out with the vode during our first shore leave in months.” Rex shifted so he was facing Tup fully, and held back a wince.
Tup muttered something indistinguishable.
“I couldn’t hear you, could you repeat that?” Rex said, a ghost of a smile on his face, amused by Tup’s obvious embarrassment.
“I said,” Tup responded, “I was scared that if I-I turned my back on you for a second you would, you would disappear. Sir, you were in and out of consciousness in that ravine, and I was so sure you weren’t gonna make it and it would end up being my fault.”
“Oh, Tup.” Rex opened his arms, bringing his brother into a hug. “Come ‘ere.”
Rex pulled Tup down onto the cot with an oof . Tup wiped his eyes, getting rid of the few tears that had fallen, and stifled a yawn.
“Get some sleep,” Rex told Tup. “I promise I’ll be here when you wake up.”
With that, Tup finally allowed himself to shut his eyes. He trusted Rex, and if Rex said he’d be there when Tup woke up, he’d be there. Rex drifted off into a light sleep as well, but was awoken by Kix some hours later.
“Sir, how are you feeling?” Kix asked.
Rex shrugged. “I’m fine.” He shivered. “Just a little chilly.”
Taking in the CMO’s expression, Rex quickly asked, “Kix, what’s wrong? Has something happened?” He starts to push himself into a sitting position, careful not to disturb Tup.
“Hey, nothing happened, relax, Sir. Lay back down.”
“Kix, what aren’t you telling me?”
“Well, you see, the 212th was on evac for Hoth, and uh, Commander Cody pulled the ori’vod card, and is now seated outside,” Kix rushed out.
Rex sighed. “Is it just him?”
Kix shook his head. “ It seems that the 104th, the 91st, and the 327th are simultaneously on shore leave as well. And given that we landed on Coruscant about an hour ago, Commanders Wolffe, Bly, and Ponds should be here soon. I overheard Cody talking on the comms.”
“Alright, we’d better get this over with. Send ‘em in, Kix, but I swear to the gods above that if they wake Tup I will personally drop kick those shabuire into next fucking week,” Rex said, yawning.
Kix left the room, returning with a disheveled Cody behind him.
“I’ll let you guys have space, let me know if you need anything, Sirs. No one should bother you, I’ve got this room blocked off” Then Kix left, and it was just Cody and Rex.
Cody took a deep breath, as if trying to compose himself, and surprisingly, pulled his little brother into a bone - crushing hug. Rex let out a squeak of indignation at being manhandled.
“Aw, our vod’ike are being all mushy, isn’t that adorable, Bly?” Came Wolffe’s sickly sweet voice.
Rex rolled his eyes. “All right, you’ve all seen me, I am very much alive, thank you so so much for visiting, but I think it’s time for you all to head out, especially you, Wolffe.”
His brothers just laugh.
Ponds finally noticed Tup curled up on the other side of the bed. “And who is this, another stray you decide to rope into being in Torrent with you?” he asked, the smirk on his face evident in his voice.
“Fuck off, this is Tup. Wake him up and I will end you,” threatened Rex, point his (good) arm at them.
Despite all his complaining, Rex loved having his brothers with him. Even Wolffe, who on a good day was a pain in the shebs . A knock on the door startled Rex, making him jump. Wolffe drew his weapon, and signalled for Ponds to go to the other side of the door. It opened, revealing a very tired Commander of the Guard. Wolffe rolled his eyes. Fox, late as always.
“I heard what happened, and I got here as fast as I could but the Chancellor insisted that I have a meeting with him, and then I got caught up with Thorn, and then Vos needed to talk to me,” Fox said, panting slightly. “It’s been a long day. Di’kut , are you ok?”
“All good. I’m just slightly concussed and have a sprained wrist…” Rex trailed off, hoping that his brothers would back off a little if they thought that was all that was wrong with him.
“And…” Bly prompted, not buying what Rex said for a second. “I know for a fact that your CMO, he’s absolutely terrifying by the way, don’t tell him I said that, wouldn’t stick you in your own private room for a concussion and a sprained wrist, even if you are the Captain.”
“And four broken ribs and hypothermia,” Rex responded quietly.
“ Haar’chak ,” Ponds hissed out, hugging Rex. Rex squirmed.
Seven hours later, Tup woke up, and if he was surprised by the sight of six well respected commanding officers asleep in varying positions on and around the bed, he didn’t say anything.