It started after he left Tatooine.
Obi-Wan noticed his Padawan tended to zone out frequently- only for a few seconds at the time. When asked why his eyes looked like he was staring at nothing, Anakin would frown and claim that nothing happened.
At first, his Master thought he was lying. As a slave, having any type of health problem led to immediate discharge. Obi-Wan thought he was brushing the strange absences off so he wouldn't get in trouble, but then the Healers ran tests.
It was epilepsy.
The absence seizures caused amnesia, so Anakin would say 'what do you mean, Master?' because he really didn't know what had happened to him.
With medication, it could be managed, and Anakin grew up without giving it a second thought. Whenever someone asked why it looked like he was in a different universe, he would just blame his hyperactivity. He knew he had abnormal electrical impulses in his brain, but it was easier to say he had a short attention span than to bore people with his medical condition.
So, when Ahsoka bounded into his life on a transport, Anakin didn't even consider telling his Padawan that he suffered from sudden and spontaneous lapses of consciousness. Which Padawan wanted their Master to be sick anyways?
Looking back, keeping Ahsoka in the dark probably wasn't one of his best decisions.
When he was first diagnosed, the Healers said his epilepsy may get worse over time, and he could possibly suffer from fits. Not that little Ani took any of that in.
He was in the Resolute's gym when everything started to feel light.
Initially, he blamed the dizziness of the late night sparring with Ahsoka after several hard battles which left his sleeping and eating schedule in disarray.
Then, he blinked, and Ahsoka was leaning over him. Her lips were moving in the shape of his name, but the only thing Anakin could hear was his own heartbeat.
Ahsoka's eyes went wide, and darkness slowly tugged on his consciousness, and then Anakin heard his student start screaming for a medic.
He came to in the Halls of Healing with no concept of how long it had been, or who had brought him there.
"Ahsoka, you must calm down." There was Obi-Wan's voice, gentle amongst the beeping of machines. There were wires resting against his shoulders, sticky patches on his temples.
"I thought he was dying," Ahsoka said, and Anakin knew she was pacing the length of the room, "How could neither of you tell me that my Master has epilepsy? Do you not trust me?"
Obi-Wan sighed heavily, and Anakin felt a hand on his arm, "Go to your quarters, Ahsoka."
His Padawan said nothing in return, but he heard the whoosh of a door opening and closing.
"You've been electrocuted one too many times, friend." Obi-Wan said, squeezing his forearm. "Master Che said you're recovering well. The seizure just took a lot out of you and your medics weren't equipped to deal with it; that's why you're here."
Brilliant. The entire 501st now knew their General was weak.
"Anakin," Obi-Wan said in a stern voice, reading his thoughts, "Having epilepsy does not make you weak."
Anakin wasn't so sure.
When Master Che discharged him, he went to Padmé's. She was worried, but not enough to nag him. That night- unlike most nights- he slept whilst she watched over him. The seizure took a lot out of him, and he was terrified of it happening again, so she promised to stay awake and have Obi-Wan's frequency pre-dialled into her commlink.
Then, within a week, he was back in the field- ready and rearing to go.
Coric and Kix bombarded him with questions once he boarded the cruiser, wanting to see a return-to-duty form and a report of his last examination from Master Che. He pushed the medics along, telling them he would check in the medbay later- he didn't want to freak Ahsoka out with the flustered medics.
The seizures didn't stop. In fact, they became more frequent, longer, and impossibly more draining. One in the morning could easily put him out of action until the evening, consequently putting a lot more responsibility onto Rex and Ahsoka.
It also meant that he had to start letting people help him. Should he be under his starfighter when a seizure started, he had to rely on his pilots- usually Hawk as he was always in the hanger- to pull him out, put something soft under his head and start a timer. When it was over, Hawk would hang around for a while- just until Anakin could sit up without feeling nauseous as hell- and then leave without a word.
Ahsoka, on the other hand, didn't like to leave his side for a few hours after every seizure. It was exhausting, trying to force tight smiles and reassure her that she was okay. Sometimes, if the seizure were bad, she would clutch his hand and call for Kix, who then insisted on administering Anakin to the medbay.
If he had a fit during a battle, Rex would always be the first at his side. It sucked, relying on his clone Captain to drag him out of the firefight whilst he spasmed and trembled. He usually tried to return to the fight, but the medics held him back, and Anakin learnt not to argue with Coric in the middle of a battle.
"Your Captain has been speaking to Cody," Obi-Wan told him after a meditation session one evening, just as the sun was setting on Coruscant, "Rex said you've been distant lately."
"Obi-Wan, it's called a sudden lapse of unconsciousness." He resorted to humour, not wanting to make a big deal about this. It was hard enough dealing with the seizures without being coddled.
"Laugh it up, Anakin, but you have to admit that you've let it take control over you." Obi-Wan said, pouring them both some tea.
"I try not to." He accepted the mug, letting the steam clear his thoughts, "But it's kriffing hard to hear Ahsoka crying and not be able to do anything about it."
"Talk to her," his former Master emphasised, "Talk to the rest of your men. You need to communicate your wants, Ani."
He snorted softly, "You make it sound like I'm dying."
"You're acting like it."
With his medics' advice, Anakin asked Master Che about changing his medication. The standard pills weren't enough for his lifestyle, but thankfully, there were other options.
Unfortunately for Anakin, a change in medication meant a period of sickness. He was bed bound for a week, too nauseous to eat full meals and unable to even use the fresher. Padmé helped a lot, washing down his limbs with a cloth and helping him eat soup with a spoon.
"Haven't been this helpless since I caught a virus as a kid," he muttered, holding still as she shaved the stubble off his face.
"You'll get better soon," she leant forward to press a kiss to the side of his head, "You'll see. Everything will get better once you adjust to the new medication."
"And if it doesn't?"
"Well," she smiled at him tenderly, "then we'll try something else."
Her optimism helped, but there was one thing that his wife couldn’t do for him, and that was speaking to his overprotective Padawan.
His student looked up from her datapad, smiling at the sight of him, "You're looking better, Master."
"Thanks," he flashed a grin, lingering in her doorway, "Mind if we have a chat?"
She said nothing, shifting her schoolwork aside and patting the mattress beside her. Anakin sat down with a heavy sigh, still feeling slightly heavy from the new medication, "How's the homework coming along?"
"It's coming," Ahsoka chuckled dryly, twisting to face him. Her eyes were concerned, "How have you been?"
"Better than before," he managed another smile and tried to hold it in place, "That's, uh, actually why I came to talk to you."
"Oh," her eye-markings rose.
"Yeah," Feeling awkward, Anakin leaned against the wall behind her bed, resting his hands behind his head, "Obi-Wan said I should talk to you about this whole..." he trailed off.
"I understand." Ahsoka rested her chin on her fist, "Go ahead- I'm all montrals."
He chuckled at her twist of the saying, feeling more at ease because her Force-signature was relaxed. Knowing Obi-Wan, he probably prepared her for this conversation.
“You don’t have to call Kix.” He started- which probably wasn’t the best thing to say first, but he needed to get it off his chest.
Ahsoka’s face fell like the universe was ending. Anakin tried to backtrack, “I know you think you’re helping, but I don’t need a medic, Snips.”
“But you-” she stuttered, unable to find the words, “you shake, Master. You haven’t seen it, but I have, and it’s scary. You shake, and your eyes roll, and sometimes you clench your teeth, and-”
“Hey, hey,” Anakin stopped her before her rambling triggered a panic attack- either for her or him. He took her hand and gave it a light squeeze, “I can understand that it might be scary, and it’s scary for me too, but you have to understand that those seizures are normal for me.”
Her eyes only widened.
“When I- you know- have a seizure, just set a timer.” He took a different approach this time, intertwining their fingers, “You can hold my hand, if you’re comfortable to. And talk to me- I’d like it if you would talk to me. If it lasts longer than five minutes, then you may call Kix or whoever’s on duty. Alright?”
She nodded, very slowly, her eyes drawn to their joined hands. Anakin felt for her- he really did. His mother suffered from chronic pain, and before he knew how to deal with the flare ups, Anakin was afraid too.
Their talk helped, not just for managing the seizures, but also for their overall relationship as Master and Padawan. Anakin felt more comfortable spending time with Ahsoka, in the gym, in their quarters, and in the mess. The new medication helped, but he still had seizures, and they were a lot more tolerable now the people around him knew what to do.
Anakin turned, his head feeling dozy, to see Ahsoka walking down the corridor, lifting her deep red dress so she wouldn’t trip over the hem.
“Just waiting.” Padmé said from Anakin’s side.
Ahsoka crouched, her eyes scanning Anakin methodically. He’d left the ballroom as soon as he felt like a seizure was approaching, choosing to sit against the wall in one of the unused corridors, waiting it out.
Padmé had escorted him there, but she was due on stage to give an important speech that Anakin didn’t want his epilepsy to hold him back from. It was one of the times where he was eternally grateful for sitting down and talking to Ahsoka that evening.
“I can take it from here, Senator.” Ahsoka took a seat opposite him, fanning her skirt over her legs.
“I better go.” Padmé climbed to her feet, “Call if you need me, Ahsoka.”
“I’ll be fine,” he reassured his wife, and then, with little care of Ahsoka’s presence, Anakin kissed the back of Padmé’s hand, “Good luck, Senator Amidala.” The blush was high on her cheeks, but her smile spoke volumes about her adoration of the gesture.
“Sorry for not getting to dance with you,” Anakin told Ahsoka once the seizure was over. A waiter had brought around a glass of cold water, and Fox had dispatched a trooper to guard the corridor, giving them some privacy.
“It’s alright,” Ahsoka smiled, letting him lean against her shoulder as he recovered, “Senator Bonteri danced with me.”
“Kriffing hell,” Anakin muttered, closing his tired eyes, “I need to start setting a better example, don’t I?”
Ahsoka just giggled in response, the chevrons on her lekku nearly black. Then, Anakin Skywalker decided that his epilepsy might bring him out of a battle or important meeting, but it wouldn’t take away his loved ones, or the love that they brought to him.