Blue for You
Tucked away in the depths of Kamino, deeper than ‘tourists’ were ever allowed, there was a room full of stasis pods. In one pod that leapt out to all of Obi-Wan’s senses, Obi-Wan found a clone trooper that was his. Who Obi-Wan belonged to . None of the Jedi had been told about the ARC troopers... because there had never been any intention to wake them. They were meant to slumber forever in those tubes, removed only when it served the scientists to study them further. All but dead.
Obi-Wan would have gone without this man, this integral piece of himself, had it not been for Cody. His beautiful Cody had risked much by bringing Obi-Wan deep enough into Kamino to reveal them. His tension had been obvious by the static roiling in his dawn, and Obi-Wan had probed ferociously at everything he could to figure out what Cody was trying to tell him. All it took was a feather-light brush past the tranquilized minds for Obi-Wan to understand.
Perhaps, on some level, Cody could sense the empty space meant to be filled by this man as much as Obi-Wan could.
Now Obi-Wan stood before the stasis pod containing the man, his man, staring up into his sleeping face.
He was blue. Blue blue blue, pure blue without a single hint of orange or a sun.
Orange, tan, gold, cream, yellow, meringue, white... The troopers that sang out to Obi-Wan’s soul like kyber crystals blazed with all shades and tones of sunrise or sunset. Even those with other shades had some element of orange in their presences. Every single one of them so far. Cody, Kote, his Marshal Commander… he blazed at the forefront like a beacon, the aria threading through his soul as deafening as the rest of him, the epitome of the men who matched his heart.
This one was so different from the rest. A single, disparate piece that… Honestly baffled him. A part of Obi-Wan quailed, wondering if he was mistaken--maybe he was one of the men drawn to Anakin? Or someone else?
But- no. No. It couldn’t be. The thought of giving up on him was abhorrent.
Obi-Wan’s eyes had been drawn to this man’s stasis tube from the moment he walked in. The man inside made the frayed edges of Obi-Wan’s being ache with longing. They were a match.
Why are you so different, my dear?
Obi-Wan examined him closely while Cody stood quiet and loyal at his side, book ended by Waxer and Boil.
The man was heavily scarred-- slashing, horizontal, perfectly straight lines drawing from his ear to his mouth on one side. Another nicked his brow. Yet another scar cleaving his mouth. Even more striping and dotting his body, as if he’d been drug backwards through meat grinders and mauled by nexu frequently through his distressingly quick life. He was built broader and had thicker muscles than any of the clone troopers Obi-Wan had seen yet. Even in his sleep, his expression was serious and calm.
The man’s presence was… subdued? Quiet in a way that couldn’t be blamed entirely on the artificial sleep he was trapped in; other minds in the room blazed out powerfully despite their inert daze. This one was subtler than the rest, outmatched in silence only by the man with the deep purple-green murmur of a presence thirteen tubes down labeled A-66. He had almost missed this quiet blue man, this A-17, and his dark late-night tea taste under Cody’s brilliant dawn.
“Who is he?” Obi-Wan asked softly.
Cody shifted, drawing out of his passive attentiveness. “That is Alpha-17, one of the Advanced Recon Clones that were trained by Prime himself. He was my training officer.”
Hm. Cody seemed… still. The belting sound of his music was quieter, slower. Careful.
“Does he have a different name he goes by?” Obi-Wan asked softly, tucking his hands into his sleeves. Obi-Wan wasn’t sure he could guess this man’s name, in all honesty. He was so incredibly… private. Contained. His unconsciousness only made it harder to sense him. Obi-Wan wondered if he would even be willing to show more of himself even when he was awake. Would he give off any music? Or would his sounds only be the slow, deep, steady heartbeat that Obi-Wan could feel thudding in his own sternum?
Cody’s presence tightened further. “No, sir.”
It took obi-wan a moment to register that. He blinked, turning to meet Cody’s gaze. “... Truly? No name?”
“No other name,” Cody affirmed. Then he paused, once again weighing things that Obi-Wan didn’t understand before continuing to speak. “It's… a point of pride for him to wear his serial number.”
Obi-Wan smiled broadly with understanding, turning to look back up at that serious face.
“Ah. Yes, that makes perfect sense for him.”
There was no way in sith hells Obi-Wan was leaving without this man.
Once Alpha-17 was awake and out of his stasis pod, Obi-Wan felt his lonely blue trooper to his fullest.
He was still so incredibly self contained. His thoughts were withheld behind impressive natural shields made of beskar. Not durasteel-- this man had been “raised” by Mandalorians and it showed. He had never been claimed as he should have been, had never spoken the Resol'nare, but Obi-Wan was familiar enough with Mandalorians to sense the similarities to the prime template in all of the ARCs. The Mandalorian pride he carried himself with. The sense of duty. That overwhelming competence. The mistrust.
Beskar shields or not, few beings could fully hide their presences in the Force and doing so typically required extensive Force sensitivity. Alpha-17 was not a ysalamiri and he was about as Force sensitive as a turnip. So he could not hide the rest of himself from Obi-Wan. But if Alpha could hide himself away from the galaxy, he would. He would tuck himself away from Obi-Wan and the parts of Obi-Wan that ached to connect to him.
Alpha-17 watched Obi-Wan’s interactions with Cody and the other men with hostility that approached fear. The steady metronome of a heartbeat ticking in his aura clocked adrenaline-fast. The bitterness of the tea-taste in him deepened, soured, became sharp and unpleasant instead of warm and smooth. The lightning-strike ozone of him became the burnt tibanna gas of blaster fire. All while Alpha remained neutral faced and aloof on the outside.
Which hurt, admittedly. But Obi-Wan couldn’t bear to condemn him for it. Every single one of the ARCs were head shy. Skittish. Far more defensive than any other clone trooper he’d ever met. That couldn’t be a mistake, couldn’t stem from nothing.
And yet… When Obi-Wan stepped back to give his Alpha some space, when he and Cody interacted… Obi-Wan could see why this man was tied to his soul.
Alpha-17 was unquestionably dangerous and standoffish. But when he was with his vode, particularly Cody, he softened. With his fellows, the ARC became nurturing and safe. Incredibly safe. He was the warmth of a loth-wolf’s belly as it lay straight on the puppies it guarded. Cody, in turn, got a giddy, almost high pitched playful lilt around Alpha, a brightening of his already blinding colors even as he stilled and straightened. All puffed up, trying to preen and show off to his training officer of yore. He batted at Alpha, biting at his metaphorical tail, yapping for his attention while still pretending to be dignified. All of which Alpha-17 tolerated with long-suffering fondness… Until he got annoyed and body slammed Cody for being a shit.
Oh, he was such a Mandalorian. Barbed distrust for anyone not his, overwhelming need to gruffly fuss and protect those who were.
So Obi-Wan gave his blue trooper space and let him decide how their interactions went. He would never pursue a man that was… that was frightened of him. Though Alpha would legitimately kill him if he knew Obi-Wan labeled his caution as fear.
And… Alpha-17 watched him like a predator tucked away in his den. Deadly and silent. Waiting. Observing. But he didn’t leave. That made Obi-Wan’s misguided, optimistic heart ache with hope.
Cody refused to back down from his affection for Obi-Wan. He knew of Alpha-17’s wary gaze and merely met it with a challenging air, feet planted firmly by Obi-Wan’s side.
Sharing a natural Force bond actually didn’t actually do much to ease interpersonal tension, Obi-Wan found.
His clone troopers could long for that connection yet still walk away.
Obi-Wan could inherently sense Alpha-17 for who he was, could sense the kindness and the gentleness underneath his aloof,
extremely unfriendly exterior, and only end up making him uncomfortable.
“Of course, Alpha-17. I trust you,” Obi-Wan murmured, scrolling through the report forwarded to him.
A pulse of now-familiar oversteeped tea in the air startled him, drew his eyes up. Obi-Wan’s reaction only made the bitter pong in the air sour further. Alpha’s neutral expression didn’t flicker a millimeter. His gaze was cool and steady.
“Get to the point, Kenobi,” Alpha-17 interjected, the bitterness of him swirling in heavy plumes but not souring further.
“My apologies, I didn’t mean to-” Obi-Wan tried.
“Don’t,” Alpha snapped impatiently, “You shouldn’t trust me, Kenobi, but I’ll get the job done.”
Obi-Wan only just resisted flinching. But he… Wasn’t sure what to say to that. Of course he could trust Alpha.
Alpha observed him with hard eyes. Then he sighed and closed his eyes, pinched his brow.
Obi-Wan wasn’t normally one for shatterpoints but… something unexpectedly snapped in the air between them. It wasn’t a painful sensation. More like… a clenched fist relaxing. A long held breath being exhaled. There was still a sour, tart note on Obi-Wan’s tongue. But the oversteeped bitterness faded away, dispersing in the air with bloody-minded self control that matched a Jedi Master’s finesse when releasing into the Force. It felt like… dare he say grudging acceptance? Submission? Willful, deliberate, and completely out of nowhere.
Obi-Wan stared at him.
Alpha-17 growled in a voice that was incredibly tired, “Try to have a molecule of self preservation for at least one second while I’m gone.”
Despite the sting, Obi-Wan couldn’t help but smile at that.
And for the first time, Alpha-17 relaxed enough to roll his eyes in front of Obi-Wan.
“We are not assassinating every surviving political leader on this planet,” Obi-Wan snapped.
Alpha-17 scoffed, crossing his arms over his chest. The steady thu-thumping beat of him was slow and calm, punctuated by only the faintest buzz of halfhearted annoyance. He was pouting. “You’re just going to end up killing them eventually…”
Alpha-17 was a bastard. Obi-Wan loved him wildly, loved him as much as he wanted to strangle the difficult, cutthroat, snarky piece of shit--
“If you can’t be helpful, I’ll send you to serve with the padawans,” Obi-Wan threatened with half an edged smile, leaning into Alpha’s space.
Alpha tipped his head in too, closer to Obi-Wan, his blue sky rippling with a tickle of sharp-toothed amusement. “A fate worse than death,” he intoned grimly.
“The 212th… feels cuddly and warm to my senses,” Obi-Wan said, a hand wavering in the air in front of him as he tried to search for the right words, mimicking the way his touch in the Force trailed over the two men sitting across from him in his office.
They were done with business. Now they were relaxing, enjoying the brief flicker of free time while it lasted. Every time Cody and Alpha-17 chose to spend those free moments with him were… a blessing. An honor. They didn’t seem eager to leave, either. Cody was open and curious, facing Obi-Wan and telegraphing his interest with his entire body. Alpha… was flatly disbelieving and watched Obi-Wan with half lidded, unimpressed eyes. Obi-Wan smiled softly at Cody… and let his smile become mischievous when he aimed it at Alpha. Alpha’s eyelids lowered further.
“Rest assured, Alpha-17, you feel different to my senses. In fact, you’re the only fully blue-colored trooper that feels so right to me,” Obi-Wan said, patting the table in front of Alpha soothingly. Cody snorted.
Alpha eyed his patting hand, then eyed him.
“But you still feel cuddly,” Obi-Wan added, grinning.
“Cuddly?” Cody choked. Then he curled his lips into his mouth to stifle the snicker that made the light in him shift and twinkle. Alpha glared at him sidelong.
“Sounds fake, vod,” Alpha harrumphed.
“You feel like…” Obi-Wan propped his chin on his hand, “you feel like I’m resting my head on you as I fall asleep. And you’re staying awake to guard me.” The sneaky, controlled shades of blue in Alpha brightened into bright skies and the tea-flavor of him deepened, went richer, as Alpha blinked with surprise. “You feel trustworthy. Like I can sleep beside you and entrust you with my life, because you'll keep me safe,” Obi-Wan continued, his smile softening.
Alpha pursed his lips. Sweetness grew on Obi-Wan’s tongue, something he’d never sensed from Alpha-17 before. Cody was watching his vod with a broad, boyish smile, twinkling merrily with a complimentary shade of pink turning his presence rosy.
Obi-Wan was not done embarrassing him, “... and you sound like... like a steady heartbeat. Like I have an ear to your chest.”
Alpha pursed his lips harder because they were twitching. And there was a faint hint of red in his cheeks that was quickly schooled away. Obi-Wan could hear him ruthlessly lock down his reactions with brutal efficiency.
“It's really nice,” Obi-Wan murmured softly, casting his eyes away, “But I will say the heartbeat of you also makes me want to squirm and kick something. Maybe run around. Something about the drum-beat of it gives me a lot of energy sometimes.”
“... I have no idea what to even say to that,” Alpha-17 confessed gruffly.
“You also smell like-”
“Stars, there's more?”
“-Like ozone after a lightning strike-”
Alpha looked faintly dismayed. Cody was cackling.
“-and you taste like a rich black tea-”
… Obi-Wan maybe shouldn’t talk about how the man tasted. That was edging far too close to flirtation when the ARC was still so easy to spook. And Cody was right there. He and Cody weren’t anything, even though Cody made Obi-Wan’s knees so weak. Force knew Obi-Wan was guaranteed to faint on the spot if Cody’s glorious presence brushed up close enough to kiss him. Alpha was less likely to make Obi-Wan hemorrhage and he would taste so good... Would Cody even mind if Obi-Wan huddled in Alpha’s warm safety and kissed him-?
Alpha sighed heavily, a palm smoothing over his face as if he was nursing a headache. But Obi-Wan wasn’t fooled-- his blueness was bright and summery, and the sweetness of him was only richer. And Cody was laughing at his expense still, eyes crinkled in mirth. He was also edging further away from Alpha, as if expecting the ARC to snatch him up for a loving pummeling.
Well. No harm in a little flirting and wishful thinking.