Day 5

Title: Day 5
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Star Wars: Clone Wars tv series
Rating: PG
Pairing: None
Disclaimer: Not my characters. I wish they were mine. I definitely don’t get paid for this.
Summary: Anakin and Ahsoka find themselves in trouble.
Notes: Written during my 12 Ficlets in 12 Days in 2015 project for smileyfacegirl

“Run! RUN!” It wasn't like her master to issue a retreat. She was used to the pair of them standing their ground and fighting. They were virtually unstoppable, the Force running so strongly through them and their their bond as master and padawan. But Anakin had been a little off today and when they saw that vast army come up over the ridge, he had made the only order that he could. And so they ran.

They ran fast. All the while, Ahsoka looked for cover. There wasn't much to be had here, however. It was a day's walk to their ship, assuming the enemy had not found and dismantled or disabled it by now. The terrain was flat, dirty. They kicked up dust as they ran, Ahsoka in the lead and Anakin covering her back. He kept glancing over his shoulder to be sure none of the soldiers were following us.

So that's probably when it happened. Normally Anakin was skilled and used the Force to move with such grace. But this time he must not have been paying proper attention to where he was going, because one second he was right behind her and the next he was flat on the ground. Groaning. And clutching his leg.

Ahsoka skidded to a halt and dove for him. “Master?”

“Leg,” he replied. Then he glanced over his shoulder and swore. “Help me up.”

She grabbed hold of his arm and hauled him up. It took a moment to balance, transferring weight and limbs until they were steady and moving forward. But they were moving slower now and the army was closing in. There had to be an option.  Something smart. Something nearby. Something safe and defensible.

And that's when she saw it. It was only an opening, a darkness in the side of one of the hills, but it would have to be enough. She steered them toward it, and she knew her master was truly in trouble because he did not raise a single objection, even as she shoved him inside, crawled in after him, and used her light saber to cut down rocks and dirt to block off the entrance.

They were in a small cave of sorts, big enough to sit up in but not stand. The floor and walls were packed dirt. The area stretched back further than she could tell with her Jedi senses, but hopefully it was a tunnel that went back far enough that they wouldn't have to worry about air running out any time soon. And, hopefully, the barricade would hold against the weapons and force the soldiers clearly possessed. Ahsoka heard some scuttling and snuffling from the tunnel and she activated her light saber. By the glow of its beam, she could see a pair of shiny black eyes assessing the situation. She sensed movement, and saw what looked like two sets of antennae wiggling. “We're just hiding here for a few hours,” she told it. “We won't hurt you if you won't hurt us.” It snuffled, snorted, and then retreated. That was good. She wasn't sure she had the energy in her to handle an injured master, an angry army, and a beastie whose territory they had invaded. She only hoped that her word was true and they would only stay for a few hours. Perhaps it wouldn't take even that long for the fighters to give up. 

She heard pounding and blaster fire. It knocked some dirty and rubble loose and made her wince, worried about a full cave-in. But the space held fast as the enemy continued to get to them. At least for now. “Guess we're stuck here for a while.” She screwed up her face. “Ugh! And I guess we'll learn to live with this smell.”

“Smell? hah-IhKTshhhhhh!” Ahsoka turned to see her master in mid sneeze. “hah... hah-Hihfschhhh!

“We kicked up so much dirt in here. Sorry about that.” She left her light saber blade on for light and crawled over to where her master lay on his side, rubbing his injured leg. “Are you all right?” He looked up at her and shook his head. He couldn't even bring himself to say anything. Anakin was usually great at complaining when things weren't going right, so this wasn't a good sign. “Okay, let me look at your leg.”

Rolling up his leggings, he revealed his leg. It didn't look like any bones were sticking out in the wrong directions, but something was definitely wrong because it was already starting to swell up. Ahsoka tried to recall her basic first aid training at the academy. Putting a splint on him was her first instinct, but there was nothing to make a splint out of except for his light saber, and she didn't dare do that in case the army broke through to them. Also because Anakin would probably kill her if she touched it in a non life-or-death situation.

But he was clearly in pain. She could see it in his face, straining. She had to do something. And if a splint wasn't an option, she'd have to figure out what was. “I'm going to try a compression bandage.” After a bit of careful ripping, she managed to slide part of her leggings over his. She spiral wrapped part of her tunic around it as well. “Let me know if it gets cold or if the pain gets any worse.”

He nodded and coughed. “It's cold.”

“Your leg?”

As he shook his head, she noticed the sweat on his brow and flush in his cheeks. How was he sweating if he was saying he was cold? Ahsoka wanted to touch his forehead, to feel how hot it was, but she knew better. He didn't meet her eyes as he scrubbed his nose into his shoulder. “Snips, I...” He turned on his side in the dirt and curled in on himself. “hahh-Ihhptshhhhh!

Something was wrong. Something more than a hundred or so warriors trying to kill them. Something more than being stuck in a small, dark tunnel. Something more than a leg injury. This time, she didn't care what his reaction was, she touched her fingertips to his forehead. It was burning with fever. If he had picked up an infection with his injury, that might account for it, but the skin wasn't broken and fevers didn't set in this quickly.

“S'pose you'll find out soon enough that I'm sick,” Anakin told her, though his eyes were closed, and it sounded as though he were talking more to himself. “Was hoping to get through this mission before it really hit. But... buh... ihhhh.... ihhhPtchhhhh!” He rolled onto his other side, huddling against one of the walls as he tried to keep his sneezes to himself. “ihKehtchh! IhhhKshhhh!” He'd tried hiding his illness and weakness from her before, and at least now he had enough sense to come clean.

She should have seen it earlier, should have suspected something the moment his senses let him down and caused him to trip. But she wondered how sick he was, exactly. Instinctively, Ahsoka reached over and stroked his back comfortingly. He stiffened at her touch and probably would have tried to pull away further if there had been any room to do so. But the space was only high enough for them to sit or crawl and wide enough for two, maybe three people to lie down. There wasn't room for a fire to keep them warm. And there was no getting out until it was safe. Which meant not being able to get word to the Jedi about where they were.

“We set the distress beacon in the ship before we left it,” Ahsoka reminded him. “Obi-Wan or one of the others will find us soon.” She wasn't sure who else was in the area, but someone had to be.

She could feel his doubt through their bond, and it made her uneasy. Her master was good at figuring things out, at finding the way out of a tough solution, at saving their butts time and time again. It was Ahsoka's turn. But it wasn't going to be easy, not with Anakin pulling away from her. They were supposed to be a team—master and apprentice. Even if Anakin wasn't at his best, he should still be trying to help, trying to fight.

Determined, she reached over and took hold of his shoulder. She forced him onto his back and looked down at him. Miserable and pathetic, that was how he looked right now. “Just let me sleep?”

“Not a chance.”

“Snips, I don't feel good. I just want...” he trailed off, looking thoughtful on top of miserable now. A small coughing fit chased away the rest of his statement, if he had ever intended to finish it in the first place.

“I don't care what you think you want. What you should want is to get us out of here in one piece. Not take out your light saber.”

Confused but without the will to argue, he did as she instructed. He dropped it a second later as he cupped his hand to his face. “ihhhh... huhhh...hahktchhhh! Hahptshhh!

“Gotta keep hold of that weapon,” she said, suddenly realizing she was taking on the master's role now. It felt strange, but one of them had to take charge right now, and it wasn't going to be moping, miserable Anakin. “We need to send a signal out to the Jedi to let them know we're here. The energy from our light sabers should be unique enough to track, right? That's how you kept track of me when I went undercover on Lorsette 4, right?”

“That was a smaller distance to scan.” He picked his weapon up and looked at it, considering.

“Then you'll need to do something to boost its energy signature, won't you?” She met his gaze and refused to look away. She channeled her will and power into the gaze, hoping just a bit of it would translate to persuasion.

Finally, he coughed and turned his light saber over in his hand. “I don't have the right tools, but I'll do what I... what I can... hahh-IHPTshhhhh! Ihhshihhh!

“Good.” She tore off another bit of her tunic and handed it to him. “Now blow your nose and get to work.”

Chuckling, he blew his nose. Ahsoka took a quick inventory of what they had. The water in their pouches, a meal ration each, what was left of their clothing, and their weapons.  That didn't take long, and just as she was wondering what she should do next, some of the rubble from the caved-in entrance shifted. Immediately she took up her light saber and held it ready. Their only chance was for Anakin to get this signal to work. Quickly.


As rock shifted, it kicked up dirt, making Ahsoka cough and Anakin sneeze, even though he didn't need anything to help with that. He'd barely stopped sneezing for the past half an hour. Ahsoka knew he couldn't help it, and his fever made him feel a little out of it as well, but she was pretty sure she was going to catch this from him now. Cold and shivery, she'd let her master lie beside her to take advantage of her body heat.

Ahsoka worked from inside while the other Jedi worked from the outside. It didn't take long for the barrier to come down. She helped her master crawl out.  “Thank you,” she said to Master Windu and the Clone Troopers who had come to their rescue. “The army?”

“We fought off a legion, but most of them retreated to their compound. Seems they were sent to stop you, not to kill you.”

“Could have fooled us,” Ahsoka said. She sounded tired, but she hoped the gratitude was understood. It wasn't often they had had to activate their distress beacon; she was glad that the Council hadn't thought it a joke or trick. They were well known for employing creative tactics. 

ihhh-hihh-EhKtchooo! IhhhHshoo! Ih... ehhhHehkshhhh!

It was a chore to hold Anakin up while he sneezed, swaying backward with gasps and snapping forward with releases. All she wanted to do was to get her master on board the ship where it was warm and where they would be safe and where he could get tissues and medical attention. She helped him on board, one slow step at a time. She found him a spot on the floor of the cockpit. The last thing she knew he wanted was for the troops to see him weak during the long flight back to Coruscant. So she wrapped a greenish-brown blanket around him, elevated his leg, and found him a small pack of tissues that would have to last him. “Are you all right, Master?”

He smiled at her. “After a bit of rest and some time fixing my light saber, I will be.”

She smiled back. “What would you do without me?”

“I... I hihShphhhhh! Sniff! I probably wouldn't have spent the past three hours hiding in a silderbug hole.”

Ahsoka's eyes widened. “That's where we were?” 

“Uh-huh. Is it my fever, or do I remember you trying to reason with it?” He chuckled, coughed, and sniffled.

“Well, if I'd known that's what it was...” What, she wouldn't have gone in there, and they would be dead? Or she would have invaded its home and killed it so they would had to sit around a dead silderbug carcass until rescue came? Or she would have wounded it so that it would have been angry and attacked them both?  “I would have let my wise, old master deal with it.”

He laughed. And yawned. Ahsoka patted his shoulder and headed back to sit with the troops. “Snips? Sit with me?” Through their training bond, she felt a soft wave of vulnerability. His weapon didn't work like usual after the modifications, and he didn't feel good. The cockpit was crowded, but there was enough room for her to squeeze in next to him on the floor behind the copilot's seat.