From the moment The Daughter brings Ahsoka back to life, it’s evident that something is wrong.
Anakin can tell. Anakin knows that Obi-Wan can tell, too. Knows why he’s lurking around the two of them, why he’s hit decline on the last three holocalls before they could even get through a full ring.
But Ahsoka says that she feels fine, that they’re making a big deal out of nothing, so eight hours after Ahsoka comes back to life, Obi-Wan finally caves, and returns to the Negotiator.
Four hours later is when the trouble really starts.
It’s the middle of summer, and Ani is seven, when he finally musters up the courage to ask Mom for the truth.
“Why don’t I have another parent?” Ani asks one day, when they’re both working out in the sun. Mom freezes, wipes at her brow with her sleeve as she turns to face him. Ani continues. “Do they belong to a different master? Did they run away? Are they dead?”
“I told you, Ani, they don’t exist.”
“But they have to exist!” Ani crosses his arms, tries not to pout. “We’re humans! And according to Kitster, it costs a lot to reproduce asexually, and you’d have to leave Tatootine, so it can’t be that either!”
Mom’s eyes widen at that, but she looks... amused? Ani stomps his foot. This is serious! She can’t be amused!
“Anakin,” Mom says, voice sharp, and Ani deflates. “Use your words.”
“Sorry,” he says, deflating immediately. Ani looks down, tries not to sulk. “Can you just… please tell me? Please?"
Ahsoka first notices it herself when she's sitting on Fives' bunk, pestering him about her arithmetic homework. Fives finally relents and grabs the stylus out of her hand, before flinching back like he's been burned.
"Force, Commander, you're ice cold," Rex says, his brow knitting together. "Fives, can you grab another blanket?"
Ahsoka frowns, touches her own skin. It doesn't feel that cold to her. "I feel fine," she says, ignoring the way her joints scream at her with every movement. Because besides that, she *does* feel fine. "Togruta are naturally more resistant to the cold than humans."
It's Rex who frowns this time. "Commander, are you sure? You feel like a corpse."
Ahsoka doesn't flinch, but that's because her face seems to be resisting any change in expression. She knows he didn't mean it like that— there's no way that Rex knows what actually happened on Mortis— but the comment hits like a blow regardless. "Yes, I'm sure," Ahsoka says, lying. Her voice comes out even, steady.
"Technically, she's right," Kix says, looking up from the holopad. "Commander Tano. Are you hiding an injury? Or is this normal?"
...Is neither of the above an acceptable option here? "I'm not hiding an injury," she replies, "I'm just tired."
Kix looks at her suspiciously for another moment, but whatever he sees in her face must be enough to convince him, because he just sighs and goes back to his holopad. "Togruta are better equipped to deal with the cold. Her body temperature will have to plummet for it to be an issue, and we'll notice if it does, because it'll slow down blood flow, and she'll show physical symptoms."
It's two weeks later when Mom actually sits him down and tells him the truth.
“He exists, but he’s not reachable,” Mom says, and Anakin’s brow furrows. “In most circumstances, only Jedi can touch the Force in such a way that they can connect with it on any real level."
“In a manner of speaking, yes.”
Ani frowns. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Well… think about it this way. The Force exists in all living things, but unlike you and me, it doesn’t have a tangible physical form.”
“You can’t reach out and touch it.”
“Like sadness! Or anger!”
“Just like sadness and anger, Ani,” Mom says, smiling. “So, what’s a human body to the force that makes up our existence? What do gods know of the way a human heart beats? What do they know of how blood pumps through our veins?”
“...Nothing?” Ani guesses. Mom smiles, bright and wide, and ruffles his hair.
“Exactly. They know nothing of it. They experience the world so much differently than we do, Ani.”
Rex doesn't look exactly comforted by the fact, but he nods his agreement regardless. Ahsoka holds her breathe, waits for him to say something else, but... Rex just goes back to looking at her arithmetic instead.
Ha! Ahsoka feels her lips twitch, and she knows that normally she'd be grinning right now, but for some reason her face feels strangely resistant to it. Which is weird.
But that weird is irrelevant to her current victory, because *hell yes, she sucessfully dissuaded both Kix and Rex just because of her Bio knowledge*. Gloating is frowned upon, so she doesn't pull out her holocomm to text Knox, but acknowledging one's successes is encouraged, so mentally, she relishes in her win. *See, Knox, anatomy and physiology was not a useless elective after all, so take that.*
It’s a useless argument, and an old one-- she hasn’t had the time to bicker about electives since she was an initiate -- but she’d rather focus on that instead of the fact that she has no idea actually, why she’s apparently cold. She’d rather focus on that than focus on the fact that she doesn’t know why she doesn’t feel cold.
"Your work is correct, you just said that six squared was twelve in the second equation and it threw everything else off," Rex says, pulling her from her thoughts. She looks at the number he's pointing out, internally curses herself, because kriff, now she's gotta redo the entire thing. "Sorry, kid," Rex says, and that's the end of that.
Or, at least, it should be.
“So what does that mean about my other parent?”
“Well, your father is essentially the Force,” Mom says. “I… don’t know how I was able to interact with him that one night, but that interaction gave me you.”
“Oh,” Ani says, frowning. He tries to wrap his head around that, but fails. He’s too small. It’s okay, though, because Mom seems to have wrapped her head around it well, and she’s much bigger.
“The reason that you’re human, unlike your father, is because I’m the one who brought you into this world,” Mom says. “Your father couldn’t have created an eating, breathing, laughing--” and he shirks when she tickles him then, always just a second too slow to escape-- “human being all on his own. He wouldn’t have even known where to start!”
Ahsoka realizes that she doesn't really feel the need to eat, that for some reason, she's not hungry, roughly twelve hours after she parts ways with Rex. She knows logically that she needs to eat, knows that as a Togruta, she requires more substance than most, but even the thought of eating has her stomach churning.
After Mom stops tickling him, and Ani catches his breath, Mom speaks again.
“Your father is, in a way, always with you,” Mom tells him, voice unusually quiet. “The Force flows through all living beings, which you are. In fact, he’ll always be with you in a way, as it sustains one’s spirit, even after their death.”
Twenty-four hours later, and Ahsoka's moved from simply being uncomfortable to actually being scared. She's put together that all of her body's functions seem to have frozen, which she knows isn't normal, and she’s really regretting the fact that she told Master Obi-Wan and Anakin that everything was fine.
She’s halfway to Anakin’s quarters, and dreading the fact that she’s going to have to admit she was wrong, when they get the emergency beacon.
“Hey, Mom, do you think someone’s body die, but they keep living anyway because the Force doesn’t leave their body?”
The emergency beacon leads straight into a mission, and it’s a day later, on that mission, when she realizes she can't smell anything. When Anakin and her spilt up, and she proceeds to literally trip over a dead body because she somehow failed to notice the smell of it rotting .
Kriff. She feels like she’s going to be sick, doubles over to throw up, but her hacking brings nothing up, just makes her throat hurt .
“I don’t think so. Death severs the connection between the Force and the physical body.”
Absoka's hands shake during the rest of the mission. As soon as it's over, she tracks down Anakin, interrupts the report he's giving the Council with a sob she can't choke down fast enough.
“But could it be undone?”
The smell of decay hits Anakin's senses just seconds before his padawan bursts into the room, interrupting the Council meeting with a cry.
“Master, there’s something wrong ,” she says, and her voice is miserable and scared, her eyes wide, her distress is palpable in the Force. “I don't— I can't—"
Anakin is crossing the room in seconds, enveloping her in a hug, but—
She's as cold as ice, and the faint smell of decay is so much stronger with her in his arms, and—
His stomach drops, and the sudden wave of emotion nearly knocks him off his feet. Because— kriff—