Ahsoka Tano is fourteen. She is, in theory, old enough to take the bus to the mall and hang out with Barriss for a few hours. She doesn’t have much pocket money, and neither do most of her friends, but they can window shop and visit classmates from the next year up who are old enough to have working papers.
Technically, Barriss is also old enough to work, being sixteen, but she volunteers at mosque instead. Barriss’s mom is pretty chill, though, and so Barriss gets to have a credit card instead of a set allowance, so long as she’s sensible with it. Ahsoka’s eternally in awe of that trust.
Barriss is the coolest, except for Anakin, but Anakin has a motorcycle and a prosthetic arm and a cool scar on his face, and a dog that knows how to open doors and drive a children’s toy jeep, so Ahsoka’s pretty sure nobody’s as cool as Anakin.
(Anakin would disagree, and point out that Aayla’s the coolest, because Aayla got a gymnastics scholarship for university and works as a physical therapist now, but Ahsoka’s only met Aayla twice, so she doesn’t count.)
“I can totally do it!”
“Ahsoka, please,” Barriss begs her, a little wide-eyed. The expression highlights her freckles, but that doesn’t actually do much in the awful fluorescent lighting. “You’re going to hurt yourself.”
“Nuh-uh!” Ahsoka protests. She takes her little bag off and pushes it into Barriss’s arms. “Here, hold my phone so it doesn’t fall into the water.”
“Ahsoka,” Barriss hisses. “This is stupid, just—”
“I’ll be fi~ine!” Ahsoka sing-songs, hopping up onto the low wall around the fountain and taking her position. It’s just like a balance beam, but curving to the side. “It’s just a front walkover.”
Barriss hums her discomfort, wordless and anxious, bouncing a little on the spot.
Ahsoka takes her position, ready to prove Barriss wrong.
So Barriss was right.
Ahsoka’s completely soaked through from falling into the water. Every time she tries to get up and sneak off, the mall cop looks up from his desk and glares her down.
The other one finishes talking to Barriss and sends her off. Barriss shoots Ahsoka a worried look, but Ahsoka gives her a thumbs up and a shooing motion.
“I’ll be fine!” she assures her, and Barriss… well, she still looks worried, but she nods and leaves.
Ahsoka can see most of the mall’s center court from the little security desk and the waiting chairs outside of it.
“So,” the security guard that isn’t sitting down says. His name tag says ‘Thire.’
“So,” Ahsoka parrots back.
“I need to call your parents,” he says. “We don’t mind you kids goofing off, but… kid, you fell in the fountain.”
“I noticed,” she says.
What she does not say is, I don’t have parents.
What she does not say is, I live at Plo Koon’s group home.
She’s not embarrassed by this. Mostly, she doesn’t say it because she doesn’t want Plo to find out. If he finds out she got in trouble with mall cops, he’ll be disappointed, and even though he’s nice about it, it’s still the worst. She’s trying to make less trouble. Plo’s way too good of a guardian for her to mess it up for everyone.
She looks out at the passing shoppers instead. The mall cop sighs loudly.
“I can’t let you go until there’s a parent or guardian here to pick you up,” he says. “I mean, I can, but only at closing when everyone gets kicked out. Seeing as that’s six hours away and you’re soaking wet, I don’t want to do that, and I don’t think you want to do that either.”
She pouts, still not looking at him.
Her eyes catch on a splash of beige with orange on top. It’s a very bland set of colors, really, but redhead-in-a-sweatervest pings as familiar before she consciously processes it. She’s only met the guy twice, but maybe…
She ducks her head, considering. Adoption’s common enough, nobody will question how she’s way darker and has coils in her hair that sculpt into dutch braids instead of the almost wispy cinnamon color of the man she hopes she can convince to roll with this.
Anakin trusts him, though, and Anakin’s gotten into so much trouble that anyone he’s that close with has got to be cool. Heck, Anakin will probably give her a high five when he hears about this, especially if she pulls the ruse off. They’ve been partnered in that stupid big-brothers-big-sisters program for almost a year, now, and she likes it a lot more, likes him a lot more, than she thought she would, and his opinion means a lot, and his opinion is that this specific dude is one of the most amazing people alive, even though he’s a dork.
(It’s okay. Anakin’s a dork too.)
“The redhead in the stupid vest and khakis,” she says. She still doesn’t meet his eyes. “Obi-Wan Kenobi.”
“Uh… huh,” he says, probably trying to decide if he should question that. “Stay where you are. Thorn, keep an eye on the kid!”
Thorn, apparently, raises a hand that suggests he doesn’t care that much.
Ahsoka keeps her gaze on the ripped knees of her jeans, and then looks up after the footsteps grow quiet. Thire approaches Obi-Wan, says a few things that she definitely can’t hear over all the ambient noise, and jerks a thumb over his shoulder. Obi-Wan looks completely baffled until he sees her, and even then it takes him a few seconds to recognize her. She gives him the puppy eyes, and his eyebrows go up in sheer disbelief.
And then, like a switch, he reaches up and pinches the bridge of his nose, mutters something to the security guard, and they both start walking over.
Obi-Wan stops before her, arms crossed, looking exhausted already.
Maybe this is what he looked like for Anakin when they were younger? Ahsoka still isn’t sure how they’re friends, just that Obi-Wan was really involved in giving Anakin lectures at some point, and never really stopped.
He does look like he’s had practice at it.
“Hi, Obi,” she mutters, playing the contrite daughter role she’s managed to assign herself.
“Ahsoka,” he says drily.
She shifts uncomfortably. It’s partly the awkwardness, and partly just that wet jeans are really, really bad to wear. They cling and they stick and they’re heavy.
“You’re supposed to be doing homework,” he says, as if he’s actually her dad and not just some guy she sort of knows that’s helping her get out of here. “Why are you here?”
“I was doing homework,” she wheedles. “Barriss and me were hanging out in the food court to do math, and then we took a break and I wanted to prove I could do stuff on the fountain like a balance beam.”
He looks her over, unimpressed. “And could you?”
“…no,” she mumbles, looking away. She brightens, maybe overselling it a bit, “but I did ask Barriss to hold my stuff, so my phone’s okay!”
“Well, at least there’s that,” he mutters under his breath. “Alright, I think I’ve heard enough. Thire, do you need me for anything else, or can I take her home?”
“Fine by me,” Thire says. “Tell Cody I said hi; it’s been months since I heard from him, it feels like. I hadn’t even heard you’d gotten approved to foster.”
“We didn’t want to share anything before it was settled,” Obi-Wan says smoothly. “Ahsoka, let’s go get you cleaned up.”
She grimaces, and stands, and the jeans feel awful, but that’s her own fault. She’s the one who fell into the fountain.
Obi-Wan goes to put a hand on her shoulder, and then thinks better of it. She’s not sure if it’s because he doesn’t know her well enough, or because she’s all wet, but both make sense. The mall cops probably think it’s the second, though.
She waits until they’ve left the building to relax, and sighs dramatically when they’re outside in the warm sun. “Holy shit! Thanks, Mister Kenobi.”
“Don’t call me that,” he says, voice dry in the exact way that Ahsoka is currently not. “And… I’m happy to help, but you could have just called Professor Koon. I know you’re at his right now. He’d have come in a heartbeat, if he’d known, or Wolffe.”
“Yeah, but Plo would be disappointed, and Wolffe would never let me live it down,” Ahsoka insists. It’s true, though Wolffe would at least be nice about her keeping her phone safe. Those things are expensive, and Wolffe handles most of the bookkeeping and paperwork for the group home. Since Plo decided to use the actual mansion he inherited for this, that means a lot of kids going in and out, and that means a lot of paperwork. Ahsoka’s glad she didn’t make a whole lot more for Wolffe to have to deal with.
“I see,” Obi-Wan tells her. He still sounds like he’s doing that whole ‘dry humor’ thing Anakin talks about. He sounds kinda smug and bitchy. Ahsoka approves, but she doesn’t like that it’s aimed at her.
“Um… anyway, thanks,” she says. “I should go.”
“On the bus?” he questions. “Like that? Last I checked, that’s a forty-minute ride on a Saturday afternoon.”
“I mean, yeah,” she says. “But I gotta clean up somehow, right?”
He raises a brow. “My apartment is two blocks away. The washing machine is in the bathroom, and I have some of Anakin’s clothes in the guest bedroom so you can stay covered while you wait for yours to dry without having to hide in the bathroom the entire time.”
Oh. That’s… huh. “You’ve really put thought into this.”
“Not quite,” he says. He gestures for her to follow him and, after a moment to consider, she does. “I half-raised Anakin, so I’ve gotten used to having a few automatic plans on hand for when he does something I need to handle like this. It’s just practice.”
“If you’re uncomfortable with this, however, I can just take you to the bus stop,” he tells her. “I know that going home with strange men you barely know is, by and large, not the suggested course of action for young ladies in a spot of trouble.”
She giggles. “Um, if I give Barriss and Plo a call, both, and leave my phone tracking on, it should be fine. You’re a friend of his, right?”
“And I’ve known Lumi since we were children,” Obi-Wan says, and he keeps his hands in his pockets as they walk.
“Plus, Skyguy trusts you, and I trust Skyguy,” Ahsoka declares, as the phone rings. “And that m—oh, hey Barriss! Yeah, I got out, I saw one of Skyguy’s friends. He’s going to let me borrow his shower and washing machine to clean up. Uh-huh, he says he knows your mom, could you tell her? Hi, Ms. Unduli! You know Obi-Wan Kenobi, right? I’m borrowing his shower and washing machine, ‘cause he lives two blocks from the mall and I don’t wanna go on the bus like this. Yeah. Yeah, he’s closer, it’s okay. Uh-huh. Okay, thanks!”
Luminara knowing Obi-Wan is actually really useful in helping Ahsoka feel like she’s not going to get murdered.
She has more or less the same conversation with Plo, though she carefully avoids explaining why she needs to borrow someone’s shower and washing machine. Plo asks her to pass the phone to Obi-Wan, though.
“Yes, hello, Wolffe.” This is a voice of long-suffering. “Yes, I’ll have Cody call you. Yes, I know. I am aware he hasn’t called you since you made him dogsit for Padmé so you wouldn’t have to deal with Threepio’s anxiety. I agree with him, you utter mess of a man, of course I’m siding with Cody. You are the second today that—Wolffe. This is not uncommon. I am not Cody’s answering service, but everyone seems to treat me like one. Call him yourself. What do you—your cousin, Thire. Well, maybe you should talk to him more, then. Goodbye, Wolffe.”
He passes her the phone, and she sees Wolffe end the call before she can talk to him. That’s fine. She doesn’t want to deal with him finding out from Thire anyway.
“I didn’t know they were cousins,” she says instead. “Wolffe and Thire, I mean.”
“I can’t remember if they’re once-removed or just first cousins,” Obi-Wan says. “I’m afraid their family tree is large enough that I have a tendency to lose track of who goes where. Thorn and Thire are twins, though, and they’ve got an older brother, Fox. He runs security at the university. We get coffee sometimes.”
Ahsoka has no idea who that is, but she resolves to ask Wolffe.
“How do you know Wolffe?” she asks, hopping a curb and turning up the walkway to a nice, middle class building.
“He’s my brother-in-law,” Obi-Wan tells her.
“Wh—really?” she demands.
He laughs at her, and they enter the building. “Yes, really. He was very upset to only be a groomsman and not a best man. Not on my side, of course. I had Anakin for that. He was, oh, sixteen when the wedding happened? He was very proud to be up there in his fancy suit, first time he got to wear one for an important event. I have—oh, here, let me get the floor number—I have pictures, if you want to see them.”
She does. She wonders if Anakin had braces. Maybe he looked like a nerd.
“I want to tease Skyguy,” she tells Obi-Wan, as seriously as she can. “I have to see those pictures.”
Obi-Wan smirks at her as they exit the elevator. “Of that, I have no doubt. Here we are, let me just—keys.”
She waits, eager already to see what Obi-Wan’s apartment looks like. She feels like she knows a lot about him, and what to expect, just based on what Anakin’s told her about the man. Still, she wants to see.
The first thing that strikes her, when they enter, is that one entire wall is made up of windows. They aren’t very high up, but the amount of light coming in is fantastic.
“Whoa,” she whispers. The entire room feels full of light; there’s plants everywhere, including one that she thinks eats bugs, and one wall of the living room is entirely lined with a bookcase in dark wood. The other wall, in contrast, is painted white and hung with photos, a few paintings, and what look to be university degrees. There’s even a few framed, pinned bugs that she doesn’t recognize. The furniture looks soft and is mostly pastels and neutrals, all curved lines and stuffing, with a coffee table that she thinks might be an antique.
Obi-Wan’s still looking at the windows when he answers her, though.
“Beautiful, isn’t it? Pain to deal with the weather, though; those have no insulation in the winter,” Obi-Wan muses. “Come along, the bathroom’s this way. I’ll show you how to turn on the washing machine and dryer if you don’t know the model, and I’ll grab some of Anakin’s old things before you start.”
“Okay,” she tells him, resolving to use that wait time to undo her braids. She’s lucky, in that the dutch braids are made up of box braids, so she doesn’t have to worry about it tangling from the water. Knotless ones, too, so there’s less yanking at the root.
Barriss has been trying to talk her into just bleaching and dyeing her hair to ‘avoid the risk of alopecia, I’ve been reading up on it!’ but Barriss doesn’t even have the right kind of hair to speak from experience, so Ahsoka’s just going to ask someone who does. Miss Ti is the librarian at school, and she has the most amazing afro, and some of the older girls said she was walking around with locs for most of last year. She likes Ahsoka plenty, too, so that’ll help. Ahsoka loves talking to her.
“Here we go,” Obi-Wan says, cutting into Ahsoka’s exploration of his shower products. He’s got decent shampoo, but he’s a fancy dude, so maybe that’s why. His soap is boring, though; it’s the same bulk buy body wash they have at Plo’s house. She already found the towels. “Tank top, flannel shirt, and some sweatpants; I think he wore most of these when he was thirteen, and I’m not actually sure why we still have it. You might have to roll up the legs.”
He sets them on the spare counterspace and then shows her where the laundry detergent is. “I would suggest you do a short wash in the sink for your delicates, and then throw them into the quick dry cycle while you shower so they can be ready when you get out, while the rest of your things through a normal wash cycle. I imagine that’s something you don’t want to be borrowing.”
“Makes sense,” Ahsoka tells him.
“Yell if you need anything,” he tells her, and leaves. She thinks he hears him puttering about the kitchen.
Time for a shower, apparently.
There is absolutely nothing special about the shower, but the towels are nice and soft. Ahsoka shouts through the door to ask for permission to use the body lotion in a little pump bottle on the counter, and is given approval. It’s not, like, totally necessary, but it does make her feel better.
Anakin’s clothes fit super weird. They’re all loose and baggy on her, and her shoulders are too big for the flannel to be comfortable. She won’t say anything, because this is already really helpful and super nice, but, like. Still.
“—out, out, you’ll ruin it, you wretched man.”
“I taught you—”
“Out, I say! The kitchen is mine today, it’s scheduled and everything!”
Ahsoka wanders into the living room on bare feet and in clothes that don’t quite fit, and sees the kitchen through the weird open floor plan they have. She’d call it a half-wall, since it’s kind of like a seated counter on the living room side and only comes up to her chest, with a big pillar at the end so the ceiling doesn’t fall down on them or whatever, but it probably has a real name. It’s like there’s a window from the kitchen to the living room, so people can heckle whoever’s cooking.
“Hello, Ahsoka,” Obi-Wan greets her, waving a spatula. Whatever he’s cooking smells unfamiliar, but good. Spicy, too.
She wonders if Obi-Wan’s a vegan. He strikes her as the type. She hopes not.
“Hi,” she says, and almost asks what he’s making, but she’s got manners, actually, no matter what Wolffe says. “Um, are you Cody? Obi-Wan mentioned he was married, but…”
“Yes, I’m Cody,” the man says, holding out a hand for her to shake. He looks amused for some reason. “And you are Skywalker’s little shadow.”
She makes a face at the appellation. “Am not.”
“You know Rex?” He asks. Ahsoka nods; that’s one of Skyguy’s college friends. She’s only met him twice, but he’s pretty neat. “He’s my younger brother.”
She tries to process that. There is, almost immediately, a bump. “Rex didn’t mention he was related to Wolffe.”
Cody does a shaky hand gesture. “Wolffe and I are fully siblings, but Rex is our half-brother, and over a decade younger than me, so… doesn’t come up as much. I’m closer to him than Wolffe is, too, so it’s not surprising he didn’t mention Wolffe. I think they’re still arguing about this whole thing with Skywalker’s dog, the bitey one, so they might not be talking.”
“Why?” she asks, before she can stop herself. “Um, I mean, why are you closer to him?”
Cody just shrugs. “Just how it happens when there’s eight kids; some of us ended up closer than others. I taught Rex how to shoot after I got discharged, so that helped.”
Ahsoka blinks, first because she isn’t much of a fan of guns, and second because she didn’t realize Cody was military. She should have, she thinks. He’s got the haircut.
“You were in the army?” she asks.
“Air Force,” he confirms. “Did about three years, got the scar, had to be discharged for medical reasons. Obi-Wan was doing some kind of fancy special agent thing—”
“I was not a spy!”
Cody waves him off. “Point is, we met while he was doing some specialist work that got him attached to other units without officially being in the chain of command, but also sort of being my boss, which is absurd since he’s a parasitologist, of all things.”
“He studies bugs,” Cody clarifies. “Mostly parasites. He has a thing for anything that goes for the brain.”
Ahsoka can’t help but make a face. Cody laughs at her.
“That’s gross,” she decides.
“That’s most people’s reactions,” he assures her.
“Okay,” she says, and then, since Cody seems pretty cool with answering her questions, “So you’re from Kamino district, right? I mean, if you’re Wolffe’s brother, then I guess that’s a given, but—”
“Little Aotearoa, but yes,” he confirms. “Plo’s house is out near that way, right? You know some more of my cousins, I bet.”
“Yeah, a bunch of them go to GAR high,” she says. “I’ve got classes with all the Dominoes; they’re in my grade.”
He laughs at her.
“Dominoes…” Obi-Wan chimes in from the kitchen. “That’s… the quintuplets, right?”
“Yep,” Cody says.
“Oh, oh,” Ahsoka says, sitting up straighter, “Echo and Fives tell everyone they were born conjoined even though the rest of them are fraternal. Is that actually true or are they just fucking with me?”
“Motherfucker,” she spits. She’d been so sure!
“Language!” Obi-Wan calls from the kitchen.
She sticks her tongue out in his direction. Cody snorts.
They sit in silence for a bit, Ahsoka awkwardly swinging her legs from where she sits at the counter. She doesn’t know what to ask, really. She doesn’t want to know more about their time as soldiers, and asking more about the family would be invasive, right?
“What do you do?” she finally asks. Cody looks amused again. “I mean, if Obi-Wan’s a professor that teaches people about bugs…”
He smiles. “I’m with city planning.”
Ahsoka considers this. “Is that like… organizing where the highways and subways go?”
“Sort of,” Cody says. “There are a lot of moving parts, zoning laws and permits and that sort of thing. My role is project management, which mostly means paper pushing for the public housing team. It’s not exactly glamorous, but it’s work that needs doing, I’m not half bad at it, and I get to feel like I’m making a difference.”
“Oh, okay.” Most of that doesn’t really make sense to her, because she’s not sure what needs planning for a city, but she knows some kids in public housing, and she figures someone’s got to organize those things getting built, so… that’s probably what Cody means.
Ahsoka wonders if ‘zoning laws’ is the sort of thing that’s going to make more sense when she’s older. She sort of knows what they are, and what they’re for, but she’s not entirely sure how they work, really.
“Lunch is ready,” Obi-Wan announces, passing over a full plate to Cody and a tiny bowl to Ahsoka. “I don’t know where you stand on spices, so try a bit first and then I can give you the mild version if you don’t like it.”
“I’m good with spicy food,” Ahsoka scoffs, taking a full bite from the little bowl. It’s fine, for a moment, warm and flavorful, and then the spice hits.
It’s too much.
It’s way too much.
Her mouth is on fire. It’s like a million tiny bombs on her tongue, or really angry ants, or just lava. It’s lava. She wheezes.
Obi-Wan passes her a glass of milk.
She glares at him as she gulps down mouthful after mouthful, though it’s probably not very effect when her eyes are tearing up.
“I’ll serve you the mild, then,” he says, turning his back to, presumably, fetch the food in question.
Ahsoka glares at Cody instead, and he shrugs. He is unrepentant. “He did warn you.”
“He said it was spicy, not that it would try to kill me,” she accuses.
“Exaggeration,” Cody says, sounding like this is something he’s scolded lots of younger brothers for over the years. “And Obi-Wan is, on this topic, a little insane.”
“You eat it,” Obi-Wan argues.
“I’ve learnt to only out of self-preservation, sir,” Cody answers. He shares a look with Ahsoka. “There was a period where supplies got disrupted and the food was even blander than usual. Kenobi here decided to drown everything in the only flavor we had, which was the absolute spiciest hot sauce, which nobody else ate.”
“You ate it too,” Obi-Wan accuses. He looks to Ahsoka and grins. “Cody is, himself, exaggerating. Our taste in cuisine has significant overlap, but the specifics are… debated upon.”
“His spices are strong, but I like mine more layered, that’s all,” Cody sighs. “He’s being dramatic. Ignore him.”
“Why, Cody, how could you be so cruel as to infringe upon mine honor such?”
“I’m getting texts from half my cousins asking when we took on a foster,” Cody deadpans. “And I have no idea how to answer, considering we haven’t. Thorn is going to bitching for ages when he finds out you got one over him.”
“So mock him for it,” Obi-Wan says. “You certainly do enough of that already.”
“Obi-Wan. Darling. My father is asking me this.”
“So lie; you hate him anyway.”
Ahsoka just eats her food, wondering if they’re always like this. It’s a very different energy from the kind of bickering she’s seen Obi-Wan have with Anakin. That’s probably because Obi-Wan basically raised Anakin, though. She thinks.
“Hey,” she interrupts. “Can I see those photos of Skyguy that you mentioned?”
Obi-Wan pauses, glances at his plate, and then says. “Two minutes to finish eating.”
Mostly she’s just bored with family drama she doesn’t have context for. There are plenty of reasons a person could hate their dad, but she has no idea why Cody does. It’s not her business. She’d rather see pictures of Skyguy as a nerdy teen.
Three minutes later, that’s exactly what she gets.
“Oh my god,” she squeals, leaning in as close as she dares to the wedding day family photo. “That’s Skyguy?”
“As he was four years ago, yes,” Obi-Wan tells her. He’s amused again.
“Who are the others?” she asks. She recognizes Wolffe, and she thinks that one of the others is… Bly? But she’s only met Bly once, so she’s not willing to put money on that.
“Well, on my side, there’s Anakin, of course, and Quinlan, Siri, Bant—she’s my stepsister—Feemor, Rael, Asajj, and my grandfather, Dooku.”
“The Count,” Cody intones, and Obi-Wan rolls his eyes.
“He’s not actually a count,” Obi-Wan tells her. “Just very rich and painfully pretentious.”
“You had to get it from somewhere,” Cody says, and hops to dodge a swipe at his flank.
“You’re horrible,” Obi-Wan sniffs. He points at the photo again, “Cody’s got Rex on his side, you know him, and Boil, Waxer, Ponds, Wolffe, Bly, and their father Jango. The kids are Boba and Omega, also Jango’s.”
“Big families,” Ahsoka notes. She’s always astounded how all the Fetts and the nearest few branches all look so similar. There’s an ongoing joke from the Dominoes that their great-grandfather or something had really strong genes, and half of Little Aotearoa is descended from that one guy, and that’s why there’s a set of third cousins that can pass themselves off as twins. Come to think of it, that might be Boil and Waxer; the names do sound familiar…
“Mostly of choice,” Obi-Wan says, “at least on my side. The only ones I’m related to by blood are my grandfather and Rael; he’s grandfather’s nephew, technically, but my grandfather raised him.”
“Huh,” Ahsoka says. “So… how do you know the others?”
“Quinlan and Siri and I have known each other since preschool; so has Bant, but her mother married my father for a few years. Tahl, my stepmother, died when I was sixteen, and my father died a few years before I married. Asajj is grandfather’s… technically adoptive daughter, but the age gap is more like granddaughter. Feemor was my father’s assistant throughout his professional career—botanical engineering—and Anakin was my foster brother from age nine.”
Oh. That’s… huh. Maybe that’s why Skyguy was so invested in the whole mentoring thing.
“He’s never mentioned that,” she says. “Why… I mean, your dad didn’t adopt him?”
“Anakin’s mother was still alive,” Obi-Wan explains, “she just… well, it’s not my story, really. If Anakin hasn’t told you, then neither should I.”
Disappointing. Understandable, but disappointing.
“I guess it’s nice to know that we’ve got that in common,” she says instead. “I can ask him about it later.”
“Be careful when you do,” Obi-Wan warns. “It’s a sensitive subject.”
Ahsoka stares at him. “…yeah? I’m in a group home, Obi-Wan; everyone’s got that going on.”
He winces. “That’s… fair enough.”
She wonders if he’s going to say anything else, but he doesn’t. She looks at the photos for a bit more, and then asks if he has any more kid photos of Skyguy. He does, some of which are adorable—there’s a holiday photo where Anakin, age ten, got some kind of circuit board kit that he was insanely excited for, it’s really cute—and some of which are embarrassing, involving braces and bowties and terrible haircuts. He dyed his hair at one point, and it looked awful.
“I’m going to have so much fuel to mess with him,” she enthuses.
“And in five years, he’ll have plenty to mess with you right back,” Obi-Wan tells her. “There’s always something in your teenage years that you look back on and cringe about a few years down the line.”
Ahsoka makes a face. “Do you?”
“Well, it’s been more than a few years for me,” he points out. “I don’t find anything from that time cringeworthy anymore, really. After enough time, you look back and just… shrug it all away. Being a teenager is an age just like any other. The definition of ‘cringeworthy’ changes as you age.”
“I guess,” she mutters. She flips to the next page in the album, and is promptly distracted. “Why do you have a photo of you picking up Skyguy from jail? Why was he in jail?”
“Illegal street racing, and it was for shaming purposes.”
The dryer eventually finishes its job, and Ahsoka changes back into her things. Cody offers to drive her back to Plo’s, so she doesn’t have to deal with the bus. She asks him what the hell zoning laws are on the way home. He explains, and he’s good at it, too; she actually understands the point of them by the time they park.
“Cody!” Wolffe shouts, waving. “The hell do you get off letting me deal with the Corries?”
“If you can’t deal with Thorn and Thire, that’s on you,” Cody tells him. He leans against the car, arms folded. “Aren’t there kids all over this place? Don’t swear.”
Wolffe says something in a language Ahsoka doesn’t know, but she’s pretty sure it’s Māori, just based on them being, well, them. Fetts, and from Kamino District, and all that.
Actually, if they were all raised here, why do they have the accent? Is it just growing up surrounded by it over generations? Did they pick it up from other immigrants? Would it be rude to ask?
Whatever the case, Wolffe is using Māori, and Cody responds in kind, and she doesn’t have to understand the words to understand the energy. It’s pure sibling bickering. Wolffe rolls his eyes after a bit of back-and-forth, and jerks his thumb towards the door. “Get inside, dinner’s soon. I’ll stay out here to talk to my brother a bit more.”
“Uh… yeah, okay,” she says. “Thanks for the ride, Cody!”
She dashes inside, mind already on dinner. It’s a Saturday. She hopes there’s burgers.
Ahsoka doesn’t think much about the incident after it happens. Wolffe does find out enough to tease her about it, and Plo has a conversation about her messing around at the mall that she regrets, deeply, because he makes the entire thing about how she could have gotten hurt, and how lucky she was that the person she asked for help was someone she could trust, and how she needs to be more careful with herself.
Somehow, the Dominoes find out about it, probably from Thorn and Thire, and she has to arm wrestle Fives to get them to shut up.
She wins, of course. He should know better.
She gets to make fun of Anakin for his embarrassing childhood photos, and also tease him about how hard he’s crushing on the TA for his Political Science ‘general requirements’ course, which is apparently a thing even for college kids, and Anakin decided to put his off until junior year for some reason, and he’s in love with ‘Ms. Amidala,’ and Ahoksa’s pretty sure he’s going to ask her out the second his grades come in.
Mostly, she knows this because he almost asked Ms. Amidala out, and she stopped him by saying it would be violate academic honesty for her to start a relationship with a student whose GPA she can influence. Ahsoka knows this because Anakin whined about it to Rex for three hours after it happened, in between helping Ahsoka built a bottle rocket at the park. It was a great afternoon for many reasons.
(Actually, Anakin definitely had to drop out of a semester when he lost his arm, maybe two? That was a whole thing, even though it happened before Ahsoka met him, and that really messed his whole college schedule up. Maybe that’s why it’s all happening in this order?)
(She doesn’t know.)
(It’s not really her business; Skyguy hates talking about how he lost his arm, and how it affected his academics. He loves talking about the arm itself, though; he keeps messing around with his school’s 3D printer to do prototypes for his own, cooler version.)
The point is, life goes on! Ahsoka has fun, and she hangs out with Barriss and the Dominoes, and she meets up with Anakin and Rex, even if Rex has been weird lately and refuses to explain why. She does her chores at Plo’s, and gets some pocket money so she can go to the movies or the roller rink or something once a week. She does okay in her classes, and has the best time on the mile in her class. She’s doing okay!
And then Wolffe tells her to stop by Plo’s office one afternoon, and she wonders if she’s in trouble. She’s probably not in trouble. It’s been weeks since the incident at the mall, and she hasn’t don’t anything particularly interesting since then. Probably.
She enters the office, and Plo smiles at her. His mustache crinkles when he does, and she grins back. It’s kind of impossible to not smile when Plo does; she thinks that’s why he keeps his facial hair so ridiculously long, to make all the little kids laugh when he calls them his mandibles.
Not Ahsoka, though. She’s a teenager. She just smiles.
Okay, so maybe she giggles a little.
“Hi,” she says. “I’m not in trouble, right? Only, I could swear I haven’t messed up recently.”
“You’re not in trouble,” he tells her. “But some paperwork recently finished processing and got approved, and that’s what I need to speak with you about.”
“Oh,” she says. That could be a lot of things. School stuff, or medical. Legal, even. “What’s up?”
He smiles, softer, and says, “Obi-Wan Kenobi and Cody Fett have applied, and been approved, to foster you.”
Her breath catches. “Wh-what?”
Plo ducks his head, a nod that’s kinder than it has any right to be. “Apparently, they were quite charmed when they met you, and your friendship with Anakin meant that Obi-Wan already considered you halfway to family. If you’re open to the opportunity—”
“Yes!” she blurts out, before she can stop herself. “I mean, um—y-yeah. I’d like that.”
Holy shit. Someone picked her. She didn’t just get assigned out or matched up, she was picked.
Someone wants her. Nobody ever wants the teenagers. This is insane.
She fell in the mall fountain and they already decided they wanted to keep her.
Plo laughs. He’s old enough that she thinks it qualifies as a chuckle. “You know, they’re in the next room. I’m rather certain they just heard you shout.”
Ahsoka flushes, but refuses to feel embarrassed. Obi-Wan basically raised Anakin, and Anakin was a foster kid, so he knows what it’s like, probably.
“Should I go get them?” Plo asks, and frantically, Ahsoka nods.
Ahsoka gets the guest bedroom, the one that’s been mostly Anakin’s when he spends the night. She gets to put up posters, and a new laptop, and bookshelves to fill up with whatever she wants. There’s new sneakers and a few hoodies, and it’s not like Obi-Wan and Cody are rich, but they’re stable and they’re trying and she really, really likes it here, even if Skyguy gave her a noogie when he found out he’d have to sleep on the couch for the foreseeable future.
It’s a year of settling in and learning to tolerate the food and getting to know each other, and then Obi-Wan and Cody offer to adopt her, officially. Like, as a for real thing.
She screams and hugs them and agrees.
(She hopes they never expected any less.)