Cody will be the first to admit that he isn’t quite sure how he got here.
Here, being the ventilation shaft he’d managed to wedge himself into, armor and all, overlooking the hallway that led towards the Negotiator’s lesser-used training room. The one with no windows and the old, thin sparring mats that always reeked like dust and regret.
His perch had been chosen with care for it’s clear sightline down each branching hall and the knowledge that if he managed to lock himself in the maintenance closet again Rex would hear about it. Which meant Cody’s batchmates would hear about it and Cody would never stop hearing about it until a clanker finally blew his kriffing head off and ended his worldly suffering. Or he could always volunteer to be decommissioned. The Kaminoans wouldn’t be pleased to waste valuable Republic resources but they’d probably still take him up on it just for the sheer novelty of it.
It was nice to have options.
The thing is, Cody had crawled into the vents for a reason, damn it all, even if he couldn’t quite remember why he thought it was such a great idea when his utility belt was making a good-faith attempt to rearrange his kidneys and he was sweating like he’d been sprinting across the dunes of Tatooine in his full kit. On one hand, the fact that he’d actually managed to haul his ass inside was either a moderate force-guided miracle or a glaring security risk. Or both. On the other, he felt more like some kind of feral tooka herder than a Commander and he was reasonably certain the stress was going to kill him long before the kriffing droids ever got the chance.
If his brothers back on Kamino could see him now, they’d likely recommend him for reconditioning all on their own. Marshal Commander Cody, crawling through the ventilation like a runaway cadet? They’d laugh themselves sick and nothing in the galaxy would be able to save him.
But, then again, Cody thinks somewhat petulantly, what the kriff do shinies know about karking force osik?
The com on his wrist chimes softly, though it echoes somewhat within the confines of the vent, and Cody fumbles for his vambrace, casting a wild look down both ends of the hall. Deserted. For now. He switches to his internal com anyway. No sense in taking chances.
“Commander, this is Helix. Do you have eyes on the target?” The brother’s voice on the other end of the line sounds flat and vaguely harassed, which isn’t uncommon for medical staff on the Negotiator. It is rare for Helix, who was usually as steady as planetary bedrock and twice as viscous as a gundark. Then again, they’d taken heavy losses in the last campaign and their medics had all been running on (contraband) caffeine and spite for days. He’s not sure any of them had seen their bed since Felucia.
(He almost feels sorry for the poor bastards who were about to be dragged back to the medbay. Almost. And then he twists to look down the hall and slams his helmet against the wall. He swears, viciously, and his chest plate digs even deeper into his throat. Pity dies an ignoble death alongside his dignity and all the sensation in his left ass cheek.)
“Negative.” He says softly, keeping his voice low even in the relative privacy of his bucket. Common sense and years of Kaminii training told him that as long as he left his external comms off no one would be able to overhear him even if he yelled. After several long months with force-hopping, mind-reading Jettise? Well, Cody had seen the General crush clankers with his karking mind and leap fifty feet across the battlefield with a concussion and a broken ankle. He wasn’t keen to test their sensory enhancements, thank you very kriffing much.
“Osik.” Helix snarls and Cody barely refrains from telling him to keep his force-damned voice down. “We’ve checked the bridge, the mess hall, and his quarters. The men have swept every supply closet from here to the engine room. I’ve had shinies combing the hangar bays since we got into hyperspace. Where the hell could he be?”
He’s practically wheezing by the end. Cody closes his eyes and tries to ignore the impulse to slam his head into the wall. Again. Knowing his luck he’d just scuff the paint and then he’d have to redo it all. He could only hope that if he kept at it eventually he might actually knock himself unconscious. It might’ve been worth the aggravation if he wasn’t positive that Helix would rip his head clean off his shoulders just for leaving him alone with the rest of the 212th. And then put him back together to make him deal with the mess and all the damn flimsiwork.
“Deep breaths, vod.” Cody cautions him wearily. “Watch your blood pressure.”
“Deep breaths, my ass!” Helix shouts. Cody winces and fiddles with the volume setting to soften the dulcet tones of Helix’s impending stroke. “‘Watch your blood pressure,’ he says. I’ll show you kriffing blood pressure.”
“That doesn’t even make sense.” Cody mumbles under his breath and belatedly prays the coms don’t catch it. Knowing Helix, that’d be a surefire ticket to his own personal lecture on his dubious cardiac health and knowing when to humor your overworked medic, you absolute moron. He clears his throat semi-pointedly, caught between trying to catch Helix’s rapidly waning attention and trying to ignore the fact that his throat was drier than the plains of Geonosis. How long had he been perched in the vents anyway? “He’s here somewhere, vod. It’s not like he could actually go anywhere. We’re in hyperspace. The escape pods are all accounted for and not even a Jedi would try to purposefully jettison themselves out of an airlock. Not without an actual emergency, anyway. He’s here somewhere. We just have to be patient.”
“Patient. Right. Sure. I’ll just leave the patience to you, considering I’m the one who has to put him back together!” Helix hissed. “Honestly, what the hell do you lot take me for—?”
A whisper of fabric, nearly inaudible beneath the ambient hum of the ship’s engines, left him with a hot crick in his neck and the quiet certainty that everyone on this goddamned ship needed a bell as he craned around to squint back between the grates. He hissed a warning into the coms, cutting Helix off mid-word, and the sudden silence was downright stifling. He was hyperaware of every creak of the ship’s machinery, of the dust coating his gloves and the tendons flexing in his hand as he inched towards the inner pocket on his belt. The sweat dampening his hair and sliding down his neck felt slick, cool, and uncomfortable.
For a long moment there was nothing. Just Cody and the squeak-shift of the vents and Helix’s quiet breaths in his ears. The hall beneath his perch remained stubbornly empty, but he didn’t dare move for fear of knocking the hard plastoid of his armor against the walls and giving himself away. Every member of the 212th, and Ghost Company in particular, vied for the best hiding spots, so even if it wasn’t his mark in the hall he also didn’t want any of his brothers to catch him in the vents and get any bright ideas. He’d have to fight Waxer in the pit. Again. And just because he’d win doesn’t mean his vod’ika wasn’t a vicious little bastard on the best of days.
(Cody still had the imprint of Waxer’s teeth in his left calf from their last little turf dispute. He would not be adding a matching set.)
Soft steps sounded down the corridor, discernable only because he’d been waiting for them, and Cody held his breath as he caught the now-familiar cadence of a swishing robe. Movement to his left drew his eye and he allowed himself a wide, vindicated smile beneath his bucket.
“Target sighted,” he breathed, barely a whisper, and took Helix’s violent swearing as confirmation that he’d heard. “Preparing to engage. Bravo Six, going dark.”
“Happy hunting, vod.”
Cody cuts the comline without another word, holding himself carefully as his mark crept around the corner, in full view of Cody’s chosen hiding spot. He takes a moment, two, and clears his mind, slipping into the blank slate-battle ready-clear water mindset he’d been cultivating since he was old enough to wrap pudgy fingers around a vibroblade. Since he’d first figured out what it meant to be a Command Track clone. It was probably overkill, admittedly, but General Kenobi had complimented him, once, on his ‘impressive shielding,’ and while Cody was, frankly speaking, about as force-sensitive as a particularly determined brick he also wasn’t about to look a gift bantha in the mouth. Especially if it gave him an edge over self sacrificing, medic ducking, di’kut Jetii Generals.
Below, General Kenobi swept towards the training room door. Or, well, he tries to, but Cody imagines it's difficult to achieve a Jedi’s usual loth-cat grace when one is concussed, dehydrated, and should’ve been strapped down in a medbay gurney approximately 12 standard hours ago. The General lists ever so slightly to the right as he walks, highlighting the subtle hitch in his step and the way his hands, hidden deep within his tactically impractical sleeves, seemed to press tighter against his abdomen every time he tried to straighten his spine.
Admittedly, though, his sabacc face is frustratingly, enviably perfect. If Cody hadn’t been looking for it, he wouldn’t have suspected a thing. He’d obviously taken at least a moment to wash the planetary grime and the blood off of his face and his robes were immaculate. Which was either an improvement over their last engagement, during which Kenobi had walked around in dust-caked robes for at least two standard days before they’d managed to order him back to his quarters, or it meant that things were much worse than they’d feared and Helix was going to have to be sedated.
The General’s face was placid as he glanced around the hall without so much as a hint of the aching discomfort he had to be feeling. And he certainly should be feeling it, considering he’d been blasted straight into a kriffing cliff the last time they’d been planet-side. His expression would have fooled any senator or civilian. Hell, it probably would have fooled most other Jedi, but Cody had been watching his General’s back like a ravening shriek-hawk from the moment he’d been assigned to his command and the other man had smiled through a polite introduction, turned a veritable legion of droids into scrap metal with little more than his glowing death stick and his mind, and then promptly passed out from blood loss the moment they’d returned to the Negotiator. It’d take more than a pretty face to fool any of the 212th.
Cody clocks the way the General’s gaze drags tiredly across the hall as he finally steps beneath the vent cover and reaches for the door, adds Kenobi’s purpling wrist to his ever-growing list of concerns, and palms a hypo. He’s not sure what kind of Jedi taming cocktail Helix had managed to put together. He hadn’t asked and his brother hadn’t offered, but he’d assured him that it was safe, fast, and guaranteed to knock the General on his ass for at least the next 24 hours. Which meant their Jedi would probably claw his way back to consciousness in eight, but by then he’d be very firmly Not Cody’s Problem.
He times his strike carefully and waits until the General’s back is to him, using the soft whoosh of the door sliding open to drown out the sound of the vent cover slipping open. He’s only got one shot before Kenobi rabbits again, and if they lose him this time Helix will actually start hunting the man down himself and no one wants that. Cody trusted Helix with his life, with the lives of their brothers and their general, but he also remembered that his brother definitely hadn’t been fast tracked for medical training for his stunning bedside manner. He’d break them and just put them back together again, and the less said about his vod’ika’s wicked right hook, the better.
Cody ignored the phantom ache in his jaw, poised and watching. He’s moving the moment the General moves to step into the room, sending up a desperate prayer to whatever force-damned beings might be listening as he twists and vaults out of the vent. He ignores the scrape of his armor against durasteel and hits the ground right behind the General, who’s just a hair too slow as he spins around and stumbles back into the room. He looks intensely hunted, bafflingly so, and Cody isn’t sure if it’s the exhaustion or if he’d actually surprised him. Cody had thought the Jedi all had some sort of inborn sixth sense for, well, not danger, not now, but General Kenobi always knew when Cody and his brothers were nearby. Had picked out entire squads from across an active battlefield with a brush of his mind alone. But maybe his injuries were hampering its effects. Or, he acknowledged wryly, the Force was simply condoning the entire operation.
Either way, Cody grabs the chance with both hands. He’s on him before the General can get his feet under him, springing forward to tackle the jedi to the floor as gently as possible. He’s endlessly grateful for the rubber training mats that carpet the floor, even if they smell like mold and shame. They go down to the tune of Kenobi’s startled shout, Cody’s free hand cradling the back of the General’s head at the last second because of the kriffing concussion, and he’s passingly, pleasantly surprised by the fact that he hadn’t been force-launched into a wall at the outset. He turns the fall into a roll, hands and knees grappling with Kenobi’s flailing limbs to pin him down and get a clear shot at his neck. He takes an elbow to the side of his head for his troubles, the impact mostly absorbed by his bucket, and scrambles to press the General back into the mat when he tries to leverage himself up and flip Cody off of him.
“Go to sleep!” He snarls, jamming the hypo home somewhat less gently than he’d intended. Kenobi yelped, loudly, and Cody has an instant of airborne weightlessness before he crash lands into the sparring pads stacked haphazardly against the wall. The impact drives the air from his lungs.
“Oh Force, Cody!”
General Kenobi stumbles to his feet, hand clenched around the injection site even as he lurches over to him, his other hand already outstretched to help Cody to his feet. “Oh dear.” He frets, eyes bright and feverish. They look especially blue and bloodshot from this angle. “I’m so terribly sorry. You took me by surprise. Not that it’s any excuse— kriff, are you quite alright?” The General pales abruptly, swaying on his feet, and Cody leaps up, arms already out to catch him when he overbalances and tumbles forward. Whether it’s the blood loss, the concussion, or the mystery sedative Cody had just dumped into his bloodstream was anyone’s guess, but either way he fumbles the General’s rapidly growing deadweight into some approximation of a comfortable hold and lowers them both gently to the ground.
Cody tucks his legs beneath him, ignoring the press of plastoid bracer edges against his shins, and reaches for his helmet. The hiss of the seal breaking draws Kenobi’s eyes and he puts it aside as the General fights to turn his head, rich red strands brushing Cody’s bare jaw.
“Was all that really necessary?” The man in his arms mumbles, blinking tiredly. Cody huffs, rearranging them both enough that the General’s head rested in the crook of his neck, thick robes bunched up to protect him from the harsh lines of Cody’s chest plate.
“It wouldn’t be if you’d just report to medical when Helix asks.” He said, dry as dust.
The General’s nose scrunched in response. “I’m not a child. I’m perfectly capable of looking after myself,” he argued, which might’ve been more convincing if he wasn’t slurring into Cody’s throat and fighting a losing battle with his own eyelids.
“Sure you are, sir.” He agreed mildly, tacitly disagreeing. “But if you’d just let us help you we’d all appreciate it. Then again, chasing you around is doing wonders for our stealth training. The shinies are going to make a real game of it if you keep this up.”
Kenobi hums disbelieving, slumping further against Cody’s chest, as if Wooley hadn’t been keeping a running tally of Most Successful Kenobi Wranglers underneath his mattress since he’d first deployed and joined their division. The one Cody feigned ignorance of, partly because it amused his brothers and mostly because he was winning. He shelves the thought for later, brushing the General’s bangs off of his forehead and lingering over the dark shadows beneath his eyes.
“Udesii, General. Trust me. Just go to sleep. We’ve got the watch, sir.” Kenobi grumbled softly, pressing his forehead against Cody’s collarbone for an instant before he finally lost his iron grip on consciousness, going lax and still in Cody’s arms. His breathing evens out, brushing light and warm against his throat, and Cody is helpless against the rush of concern and fondness that kindles in his chest.
He leans back, pulling the General more firmly into his lap, and twists his wrist just enough to reach his comlink. Helix’s face shimmers into view with a muted burst of sound, head turned to shout at someone outside of the frame, and Cody winces, free hand flying up to cover Kenobi’s ear, pressing him further into the juncture of his shoulder. Though a quick glance at the other man’s slack face proves he needn't have worried, he doesn’t so much as twitch. Impressive. Vaguely concerning, but impressive.
“—and I swear to Jango karking Fett’s left kriffing testicle if you so much as breath near the medbay for the next standard week I am going to—”
“Vod,” Cody calls, cutting Helix off with only a tinge of regret and blithe disregard for the blistering glare he leveled back in response. He was always creative when he was stressed and Cody enjoyed it leagues more when his brother’s righteous fury wasn’t directed anywhere near him, but the General came first. Always. “Mission complete. General inbound,” he said, before his brother made good on his threats to strangle him via comlink.
“Cody,” Helix breathed, face awash with relief. “You always give me the best presents.”
“No the kriff he does not!”
Helix’s face twists, so supremely unimpressed that Cody flinches by proxy. “Cody actually brings me the General six times out of ten, unlike some people I could name. Which is the same force-damned thing at this point.” There’s a furious squawk of offense, muffled footsteps, and Cody blinks resignedly when he gets a flash of Waxer’s face and his ridiculous little goatee before he tackles Helix, hissing like a nexu. They go down with a moderately concerning crash. The image on the com rattles violently, spinning from the ceiling to the floor in a dizzying wash of colour and catching the edge of Helix’s apoplectic snarl as he wraps his forearm around Waxer’s throat and heaves him backwards towards the nearest empty bed. Which is probably a calculated choice because Waxer is going to need it in the very near future. This would be infinitely more entertaining if the General wasn’t passed out against his chest and Cody’s legs weren’t asleep without the rest of him.
A hand claps down, cutting off the shaky image of Waxer’s wide, desperate eyes, half-hidden behind Helix’s vambrace like a cornered womp-rat. Ah, the wonders of hindsight. Cody, in a moment of universal older-sibling solidarity, swallows a dark curl of glee and doesn’t feel an ounce of pity for the little bastard.
The image on the com suddenly brightens and resolves itself into another familiar face, a brother with a kind smile and a pair of dark stripes tattooed beneath his left eye and curling back towards his ear. Helix’s hissed threats fade mercifully into the background as he walks across the medbay. “Sorry about that, vod. Helix’s a bit on edge, if you hadn’t caught that. We’ve got everything ready and waiting, you’re clear to bring the General straight here.”
“On my way. Thank you, Stitch.”
Getting to his feet without dropping his general is a study in patience, balance, and his ever-evolving and imminently impressive vocabulary. Stitch seems intrigued, at the very least. Kenobi is a warm deadweight in his arms, barely even shifts when Cody leans down to snag his helmet off the ground and clip it to his waist, and considering just how fast he’d gone down Cody really does not want to know what the hell he’d just drugged him with. It had definitely worked better than the last three rounds. Kriffing Force-forbid the Separatists ever got a hold of it. Helix had better take that particular recipe to the grave.
“No problem, sir. Did the new hypo work as expected?”
“It did. Remind me to thank Helix when he’s a little less homicidal. And remind him that if I hear so much as a whisper of what’s in these ones, he’d better get himself decommissioned before I find him.” Cody said mildly, stepping out of the training room and hanging a sharp left towards the medbay.
“Will do, Commander Vod.” Stitch agreed, blithely ignoring the pained look Cody shot him over the General’s tousled head.
“Please, Stitch, that joke got old the first time you used it on Kamino. It got old before we did.”
“And I’ll stop using it when it stops amusing me.” He countered, his smile taking on an edge of absolute fuckery just as the screaming kicked up a notch and a hand shot into view, grasping for his shoulder. Stitch danced out of the way without so much as a backward glance. Cody had never wished to be an only child but he wondered, briefly, what silence must be like.
(He’d have to try it sometime. If he survived the damn war.)
He opened his mouth to argue, closed it, and promptly decided that it wasn’t worth it. He’d save his energy for fights he might actually win. “... Are you going to help him?” He finally asked, eyeing the side of the frame where Waxer’s hand had disappeared and dodging deftly around a pair of shinies that had come rocketing around the corner. They both froze, snapping sharp salutes, and immediately lost all sense of professionalism as they glanced down and caught sight of the general. The one on the left looked close to cooing while the other mumbled a curse under his breath, shoulders sagging, and Cody let it pass without comment, flashing a quick all clear as he passed. Doubtless, news of the General’s location would spread across the ship within minutes, which meant less work for Cody in the long run. Excellent.
“Help him?” Stitch repeated, eyes bright and guileless. “Why would I do that? The little bastard deserves it.”
And, well. It’s not like Cody disagrees.
“Fair enough. Just make sure Helix spaces him afterwards. I don’t want to deal with the paperwork.”
“Do you ever?” Stitch returns, glancing back towards the beds. Cody considers the many merits of plausible deniability. “Only if it keeps it off the General’s desk,” he admits, and Stitch’s smile softens. “Speaking of, please tell me you’ve got a handle on those idiots, because I’m coming around the corner now.”
“Who’re you calling an idiot!?” Helix snaps over Stitch’s shoulder, hand darting out to tug the com towards him. His sleek bun is mussed, his greys rumpled, and there’s a suspicious red mark sitting high on his cheek. Cody ticks a judgmental brow in his direction on principle.
“Who thought it was a good idea to start fighting in the medbay?” He inquires lightly. The halls are busier the closer he gets to the medbay, which would be an obstacle if the men didn’t love and respect their general as much as they did. As things are, even the shiniest of Cody’s brothers are quick to leap out of his path, moving to drag less attentive vod’e back against the corridor walls as he passes. He spies more than one suspiciously still helmet and resigns himself to hunting down the holos later.
“We weren’t fighting, it was kriffing pest control,” Helix grumbles sourly, though his expression gentles as he glances away from Cody's face, settling on the top of Kenobi's copper head. “Bring him straight in. Helix out.”
The line goes dead before Cody can say another word and he groans low in his throat. “Why are they like this?” He mutters, sliding past a downright gleeful-looking Wooley. His vod’ika looked like his Life Day had come early.
“You found him!” He says, spinning around to follow along in Cody’s wake. He was trotting, just a bit, to keep up with Cody’s longer strides and he stifled a fond snort at the sight. No need to give the kid any more ammunition.
“Of course I did.” He agrees, bumping his pauldron against his brother’s. Wooley hums, something sad and soft in the shape of his mouth as his eyes flicker from the general’s pale, bruised face to the exhausted curl of his shoulders.
“... Really thought we might’ve lost him, this time.” He murmurs finally, ducking away from Cody’s gaze. “Everyone’s been looking for him.” He trailed off, a hint of uncertainty beneath the concern, and Cody nodded wordlessly, pressing his shoulder more firmly against Wooley’s.
Cody loves his general. They all do. And he knows, bone deep, that they got lucky with Kenobi. He cares, probably too much. More than any civilian or Senator. More than most generals, even. He makes a point of learning all the shinies’ names. Makes sure they have holopads full of books and new spices and fresh inks for Stick’s contraband tattoo gun every deployment. He blocks blaster bolts and flies across battlefields to yank Cody's brothers and sisters out of the fire and they all know he'd die for each and every one of them without hesitation. And it’s— well…
It’s a lot, sometimes, because no matter how much Kenobi rails against it they’re clones at the end of the day, and he’s a Jedi. They have nothing they can offer him aside from their bodies and their lives, and they do so gladly, but that has only ever devastated the man.
The clones were made for the Jedi, made to die for the Republic, but the Jedi won’t allow that. Their General won’t allow that. So really, all they can do is try to keep the half-suicidal man in one piece, which was by far the biggest challenge they’d faced since the moment they’d been decanted. Truly, Kaminoan training had nothing on Jedi.
It was just so frustrating because watching the General bleed out hurt, but he had honed his ability to hide life threatening injuries into an art. The first time he’d collapsed on the Bridge he’d taken decades off of Cody’s already short life. Helix had been beside himself. And Kenobi had been soft and apologetic when he’d woken up and Cody had believed him because he’d been young and naïve and the General’s big blue tooka eyes were a kriffing trap.
Which is why Helix had started hunting him through the halls like a starving loth-wolf after his third deployment. Because once was a mistake, twice was excusable, but three times was a force-damned pattern, vod. Really by all rights, getting the General to a medic should’ve been an easy task. Their Jetii was infinitely kind. Compassionate. Hells, throwing an injured shiny in his path was usually incentive enough to get the man within the vicinity of the medbay, and his genteel Jetii sensibilities should’ve done the rest.
Unfortunately, General Kenobi had a knack for disappearing the moment Helix’s back was turned and a sixth sense for finding dusty corners to pass out in and call it meditation. So Cody was stuck crawling through vents.
He stifled a groan, glancing back to catch Wooley’s eye as he paused outside of the medbay doors. “He’s fine, vod’ika. It’ll take a lot more than that to kill the General,” he points out and Wooley’s answering smile could power a small star.
“Yes sir.” He agrees, tearing his eyes away from Kenobi’s sleep-slack face to offer a cheeky salute. “And anything that tries will have to get through us, first.” Cody nods and Wooley takes it for the gentle dismissal it is, because he spins on his heel and disappears back down the hall at a fast clip. Little brothers were always such a handful.
Cody shakes his head, shifts the general aside to press his fingers into the keypad by the door. It slides open with a muted hiss, all but swallowed by Helix’s footsteps as he flew across the medbay to plant his hands between Cody’s shoulder blades and hustle him towards the nearest bed.
“Kriff, could you have taken any longer?” He demands, shoving him aside to fuss over the general as soon as his back hits the sheets. Cody goes without complaint, pressing himself back against the opposite cot as Stitch drags a med cart over. Cody catches a handful of long needles and bags of bacta infusions tucked among the bandages and feels a rush of satisfaction. The general was going to be just fine. “Stitch, scanner, now. I want a full report.”
Stitch nods distantly, fingers already flying over the vital display attached to the wall beside the bed and Helix leaves him to it, hissing as he pulls back Kenobi’s sleeve and catches sight of the dark bruising wrapping around his wrist.
“Never in all my life…” He mutters furiously, eyeing the Jetii’s robes with a dark, predatory dismay, and Cody couldn’t help but snort.
“Jedi.” Cody points out and wonders, idly, if any of his brothers have this much trouble with their generals. The face Helix pulls in response is particularly ugly and ill-tempered. Cody wishes he could frame it. “How is he?”
“Not great, obviously, but not the worst we’ve seen.” Stitch answers before Helix can open his mouth, eyes glued to the datapad in his hand. He runs the other absently across the General’s shoulder, a soothing drag of fingers against his pulse. It’s a move familiar to any brother and something in Cody’s chest warms at the sight. “Broken wrist. Couple of cracked ribs and some internal bleeding. Low-grade concussion, too, and his left ankle is probably fractured, at the least, but it’s hard to tell on here. Abdominal contusions and a couple of blaster wounds on his back that’ll need to be debrided. Probably melted right through his kriffing robes.” He trails off unhappily and shrugs. “Otherwise he’s got a moderate case of dehydration and anemia. He’s kriffing exhausted, too, but that’s nothing a nutrient drip and a few rotations in the medbay can’t fix. We’ve got him.”
Cody whistles, just a touch sardonic, and slouches back into the bed. “He was limping in the hall.” He advises them and Helix frowns, circling around the bed to ease the general’s boots off. Stitch sighs, runs a hand through his hair, and brushes his knuckles tenderly across Kenobi’s cheek before he steps away. “Oi, X-Ray,” he calls and the brother that appears at his shoulder looks particularly young, cheeks still round and smooth with baby fat. Cody swallows hard, and looks away. “Pull up the privacy screen and start an IV line. Have Test Tube mix a new bag.”
“Yes sir,” the kid says, confident even if he’s little more than a kriffing cadet, force, when the hell had he been deployed? “Saline?” Stitch pauses, considering, and shakes his head, reaching up to ruffle the boy’s regulation-short hair. Cody ignores the way the kid’s eager smile makes him want to puke.
“Nah,” he says. “Lactated Ringers and bacta should do it for now. I’ll let you know if we need to change it.” Ray nods, sparing a quick salute for Cody before he engages the privacy screen and disappears beyond it. Stitch shakes his head and settles against the bed beside Cody, a solid wall of heat against his side, and he can’t help but lean into him, just a bit. Stitch hums, gets an arm around his shoulder and tugs him further into his side. It’s pathetically reassuring and Cody’s a marshal commander, the Marshal Commander, according to some. He should be better than this. But for all that Stitch is younger than him he’s always treated Cody gently. “Doing alright, vod?”
Cody shrugs, careful not to dislodge the arm wrapped around his shoulder. “I’ll live. Waxer?” He asks, perfunctory, shooting a pointed glance towards the spot where Helix had last been. Stitch snorts.
“Still alive. I think Helix realized I’d make him clean up if he actually strangled the bastard in my medbay and called one of the kid's squadmates to come scrape him off the floor.”
“Thought it was Helix’s medbay.” Cody said mildly, eyeing the handful of baby medics scurrying around the room. They really were getting younger and younger. Cody would have to make some calls.
“That’s what he wants you to think.” Stitch said airly, waving a hand towards the screen. “Helps him sleep at night.”
It was Cody’s turn to snort. “Helix doesn’t sleep,” he said scathingly. “He pumps himself full of contraband stims and feeds off of our collective outrage because he’s a karking hypocrite.”
Stitch’s laugh is bright and low. “Yeah, maybe.” He agrees, squeezing Cody’s shoulder. “But we can’t all be eldritch horrors. When’d you last see your bed?” Cody opens his mouth, offended, but nothing comes out. He scrambles, for a moment, because it couldn’t have been that long but the stubborn set of Stitch’s mouth tells him everything he needs to know.
“I,” he begins, channeling as much of the general’s Jedi Dignity as he possibly can. “Am perfectly fine. Thank you.”
“You,” Stitch drawls threateningly. “Are going to end up right beside the general if you don’t go take a nap. Now.”
“But the general—,” he protests.
“Will keep, ori'vod.” Stitch reaches out, cups the side of Cody’s face with his free hand and swipes his thumb across his cheek. “You’re as pale as the general. Don’t make me sedate you, too.” Cody swallows, closes his eyes and presses his face into Stitch’s palm before he can think better of it.
“... You’ll wake me if anything changes?” He asks haltingly. Stitch’s answering smile is soft and warm. Kind, just like the general. Cody doesn’t know how he gets along so well with kriffing Helix of all people. “Fine.”
“Glad you see things my way.” Stitch says, patting his cheek. It’s only slightly condescending, so Cody allows it. “Our General’s going to be just fine. We’ll keep him sedated for a few rotations, just to be safe, but he’ll be wreaking havoc on the Separatists and Helix’s blood pressure again in no time. You need help getting back to your room?”
Cody scoffed, elbowing Stitch in the side. He twists away with a laugh, reaching out to haul Cody upright and brush imaginary dirt off his shoulders. Cody nods, slips away, and he’s only a handful of steps away from the door when he pauses, glancing back over his shoulder in the direction of the general’s bed, still hidden behind the privacy screen. He can hear Helix, the cadence of his voice rising and falling indistinctly, and Stitch’s eyes are dark and steady when Cody meets them.
He shouldn’t. There are a million reasons why he shouldn’t. But—
But he knew what Stitch’s knuckles felt like when he’d run them over the general’s cheek. He knew Helix’s anxiety and Wooley’s concern and the quiet way he’d assured Cody that everyone was looking for him. Knew broken bones and split skin and the way Kenobi looked at them when he thought they weren’t watching, like they were the most precious beings in the galaxy. He knew what brotherhood felt like. And, well.
Wasn’t that what the General was?
“... Tell Obi-Wan that his ass better stay in that bed until you clear him.” He said simply. “And make sure Wooley updates the scoreboard.”
Stitch froze, mouth dropping open just a bit, and then he threw his head back and laughed, rich like sunlight on his back. Satisfied, he turned on his heel and swept out towards his quarters without so much as a backward glance.
He let’s the sound warm him long after the doors close.
Obi-Wan swam towards consciousness with the terrible, aching certainty that he was dead.
Or, well, maybe not, he thinks, squinting blearily up at a depressingly familiar ceiling. He’s not quite sure how he’d ended up in the medbay, and he’s a bit foggy on when exactly he’d been dragged in, but he could hardly afford to languish in bed, either. Even if the 212th hadn’t received any new marching orders there were surely requisitions to approve and men to check on. He’d have to wrestle his paperwork away from Cody first, of course, because the man was rather bafflingly reminiscent of a Krayt dragon, what with the way he hoarded the force-damned stuff, but that was fine. He’d just have to make himself useful.
He twitches, tries to sit up, but he might’ve miscalculated just a tad because the room spins sharply, black spots bursting before his eyes, and the subtle pounding he’d felt at the ragged edges of his consciousness leaps to the forefront. He tries and fails to stifle a gasp, caught halfway up off the pillow, when a pair of large, warm hands catch his shoulders and press him back down into the bed. He struggles, just a bit, attempting to blink past the wash of nausea, but a third hand brushes across his forehead and settles gently over his eyes, blocking out the overhead lights.
He collapses back into the sheets, squeezing his eyes shut, and the ringing in his ears crescendos. For an instant, he’s sure he’s going to be sick, and the thought settles hot and slick in his chest. No. No, no, absolutely not, he thinks desperately. Obi-Wan is a Jedi Master, for kriffing hells sake. He will not throw up on his men. He’s not that weak. He bites his lip, trapping a whine behind his teeth, and reaches for the cradle of the Force, trying to slip beneath cool water-bedrock-starshine.
From somewhere beyond the ringing wrongness of his waking thoughts he hears a string of muffled swearing, something that sounds a bit like oh no you don’t, a press of fingers against his jaw. It’s jarring, somehow, and he opens his eyes instinctively, lashes brushing the palm still resting over his eyes. He takes a careful breath, blinking against the dark, and eases his discomfort into the Force. Slowly, carefully, counting each breath until his hands stopped shaking. Not fixed but manageable, he decides dizzily, as the sounds and scents of the medbay begin to filter back in, and he wrinkles his nose at the sickly sweet tang unique to bacta paste.
“—eral. General, can you hear me?” A voice asks, oddly soft, and Obi-Wan swallows hard, trying to shift towards the voice. The hand on his forehead twitches and draws away, brushing his bangs out of his eyes. He blinks. Focusing is hard, somehow, and he hates it. The shadowed figure at his side twists, bending closer, and Obi-Wan watches as it resolves itself into a kind, familiar face. Dark tattoos and perpetually windswept hair.
“... Stitch…?” He tries, though it comes out slightly slurred, and the smile he gets in return is sweet and indulgent. He’s oddly flustered by it, but he’s also fairly certain he was mauled by a rancor, so he decides to shelve the thought for later.
“Morning, General.” The other man says, cheerful, and Obi-Wan’s never noticed his dimples before. They were quite charming.
“Thank you, sir,” Stitch says, which makes no sense, because Obi-Wan hadn’t said anything. “Yeah, he’s still out of it,” he says over his shoulder, though his eyes never quite leave Obi-Wan’s. Still, rude.
“Did anyone get the number on that speeder?” He mumbles tiredly, pressing the side of his face into the pillow and there’s muffled laughter somewhere to his left. He doesn’t know what’s so funny but he doesn’t really have the energy to check. “... I haven’t felt this hungover since I was sixteen.” He admits.
There’s a pause, fingers against his wrist, and another hand tapping lightly against his left temple. He drags his eyes back open, twitching toward the movement. He’s not sure when he shut them.
“Get drunk a lot, General?” The man on his left asks and Obi-Wan flounders for an instant at the sight of blank, round cheeks and short-cropped curls. “General?”
“Ah, X-Ray.” He manages, huffing tiredly. Why was he so tired? He’d slept. “Quinlan Vos was an absolute terror when we were padawans. Still is.”
“You let General Vos get you drunk?” X-Ray asks, wide-eyed, and Obi-Wan feels a rush of resigned amusement at the sight. Even the shinies had heard stories. Quin was going to be furious.
Obi-Wan couldn’t wait to tell him.
“Oh yes. He’s the reason I wake up on bar floors.” He admits. Another dark head pops up behind X-Ray’s shoulder, mouth agape, and Obi-Wan’s not quite sure why they seem so surprised but the Force feels warm and calm so he’s not overly inclined to care.
“Bar floors? General!”
“You could do better.” X-Ray mutters and then freezes. “I mean, ah, um… — sorry, sir.”
“No, no.” Obi-wan assures him and manages to brush his fingers against X-Ray’s where they rest next to his on the bed. “It’s quite alright. Quin’s my best friend but he’s also a terrible influence. Don’t worry, I won’t let him anywhere near you...” He trails off muzzily. “What was I saying?”
“Alright, that’s enough. Stop harassing the General. Shoo.” Stitch says, striding back towards Obi-Wan’s bed. He hadn’t seen him leave. “Go on. Go organize bandages or something. Polish some scalpels. Take a nap. Dealer’s choice.”
X-Ray and his companion jump, looking vaguely hunted, and Obi-Wan feels a vague sort of concern as the pair shoot him quick smiles and scurry away, shoving each other past the edge of the privacy curtain encircling his bed. “Not you, sir. You stay right there.” Stitch says, a hand on his shoulder to keep him in place. “How’re you feeling?”
Obi-Wan considers and discards several responses. “Fine.” He says simply, folding his hands across his abdomen by sheer force of will only to realize his robes were gone. In their place he was clad in a soft white tunic with woefully inadequate sleeves. How disappointing, he thought, and twisted his fingers together for lack of anything better to do. Stitch didn’t look particularly impressed. “Who was that with X-Ray?” He asked.
“Right.” Stitch said, eyeing him contemplatively. “That was Test Tube. She’s new.”
“Is she?” Obi-Wan asked faintly, blinking heavily. “I’ll have to— have to introduce myself.”
“I know you will, sir. Don’t worry. Just go back to sleep, alright?” Stitch said gently, brushing the back of his fingers along the apple of his cheek. The motion left his throat feeling oddly tight. “We’ve got you, sir.”
Distantly, Obi-Wan felt an uncomfortable prickle in the crook of his arm, there and gone in an instant as Stitch tucked something away in his belt. A wave of pure exhaustion slammed into him and he whined softly, eyes sliding shut as Stitch cupped the side of his face.
“That’s it. Just let go. Let us take care of you, General Vod.” He murmured and there was something different about that. Not bad, necessarily, just odd, but Obi-Wan can’t chase that thought any further.
Stitch’s hands are gentle, his voice is warm, and the Force surges forward to drag him under, reassurance and safety whispered against his skin. Still, Obi-Wan resists, clinging stubbornly to consciousness.
“The men,” he mumbles, all but incoherent, and he can’t find the strength to drag his eyes back open but this is important. “Cody. Everyone’s safe?”
Stitch’s voice is low and firm when he answers. “Yes, sir. I promise. Go to sleep, Obi-Wan.”
Obi-Wan falls asleep with Stitch’s hands carding through his hair and gentle humming in his ear.