It had been quite a spectacle. Funny, too. Though at the time, I had been sure I would take those thoughts to the grave. You didn’t talk about your superiors that way.
Jedi General Obi-Wan Kenobi, leader of the 212th Clone Trooper squadron, was absolutely drenched in coolant. Apparent damage to the droid tanks radiator could’ve been dangerous, had there been blaster fire nearby or had the General activated his lightsaber. Instead, when the troopers attempted to move the disabled tank out of the way of one of their own, the pipe had burst and sent coolant flooding out and all over the poor General, who had just been trying to help.
There was a shocked moment of silence as the flow died down to nothing, leaving the Jedi standing there, coated head to toe. He spat some out of his mouth, and gingerly wiped some away from his eyes, ducking his head so more didn’t drip down into them when he opened them.
“Commander Cody,” Obi-wan said into the still air. Cody was sure some of his men were practically vibrating with the effort of keeping silent. “Would you mind calling down a transport? I don’t think it’d be wise to campaign while I’m so… flammable.”
The snorting and snickering of his men was making Cody nervous. They’d only just begun working with this Jedi.
“Of course, sir.” Cody quickly relayed instructions to the cruiser in orbit, then waited around nervously, shooting piercing glares at some of his men that no one could see through his helmet, but that he was sure they understood.
Obi-wan looked over toward a nearby river wistfully. “If I wasn’t worried about polluting the ecosystem…”
When the transport landed, Cody glanced at his men and made a decision. The campaign would be put on hold regardless, so he quickly instructed his men to clear the road and set up a perimeter before hopping on the transport along with the Jedi.
Obi-wan looked up in surprise as Cody closed the door behind him.
“I wouldn’t sit too close,” The Jedi said, grimacing as he held out his arms and showed his robe. He wasn’t dripping anymore, but it was still darkly stained. “And the smell is terrible .”
Cody sat down opposite Obi-wan and removed his helmet as the transport lifted off the ground and began it’s return to the cruiser.
“I just wanted to apologize, sir.”
“Apologize? For what? This was hardly anyone’s fault.”
“Well- yes, I know that, but the men-”
“Are allowed to laugh,” Obi-wan interrupted him, smiling. “I promise, Anakin would have completely lost his head if he’d been there. He probably still will whenever he hears about it.”
“That’s no excuse for the men's disrespect, sir.” Cody said firmly. “I’ll be having words with them when this is all done.”
“You certainly have the right to,” Obi-wan said, fixing Cody with a calculating stare. “But I truly don’t think it’s necessary. This may have not put me in a particularly jovial mood, but I can still see the humor in it. I take no disrespect.”
“As you say, sir.” Cody tried to hide his surprise at the Jedi’s attitude, and found himself wishing he hadn’t removed his helmet.
“If I may ask,” Obi-wan began, and Cody stiffened to attention. “What is it about me that makes me seem so humorless? Is it the accent?”
“No, sir, of course not! I didn’t mean- ah. You’re joking.” Cody could feel himself actually blushing, and Obi-wan seemed rather pleased with himself.
“Someone around here has to.” Obi-wan grinned. “But, seriously. Have I given such an impression?”
“No, sir. Of course not,” Cody said, feeling rather ashamed of his obvious overreaction to the situation. “It’s just that other Generals…” he trailed off, unwilling to go so far as to bad mouth authority, but judging by the Jedi’s darkening expression, he didn’t need to.
“Ah. Yes. I’ve heard some troubling rumors about that.” He shook his head. “The Jedi should understand better than anyone that all of you are unique individuals. The way some Jedi have taken to treating their troops is concerning on multiple levels.”
The Jedi seemed content with the reasons Cody had given as to why he had come along, and they spent the rest of the short trip in companionable silence, while Cody mulled over the words ‘unique individuals.’ He didn’t think he’d ever been described in such a way before.
The Admiral was waiting for them when they disembarked, alongside a small hazmat crew, which struck Cody as overkill, though he supposed he didn’t know who else he would call.
“If it was anything else, I would’ve just put up with it,” Obi-wan said to the Admiral. “But as it stands, I’m likely to resemble a bonfire if I turn on my lightsaber, and we simply don’t have any tools to clean up down there. But don’t worry,” he added reassuringly, “We weren’t at a critical juncture. I don’t think this delay will have any major impact.”
When the Admiral sent an inquiring look in Cody’s direction, Obi-wan cut in smoothly before Cody could say anything.
"We took the opportunity to discuss logistics. He'll be heading back down with me." Cody just nodded, expressionless, and, apparently satisfied, the Admiral departed. After a brief deliberation, the hazmat team agreed there was no real need for anything more than a change of clothes, scrubbing off his armor and a thorough cleaning. Obi-wan headed off for the showers and Cody, with nothing else to do, opted to head for the Jedi's quarters to grab the General a change of clothes himself.
By the time he made his way down to the showers, Obi-wan's freshly cleaned breastplate was sitting on a bench.
"Sir," he called. "I brought your robes."
"Cody?" Obi-wan poked his head out from around the shower stall. "You didn't have to do that."
"Ah, well," Cody said, not meeting the other man's eyes. "I didn't have anything to do."
Obi-wan shrugged. "Fair enough. Though - since you're here - would you mind… helping?"
Cody blinked. The Jedi at least seemed to realize how awkward his request was, though Cody suspected he didn't fully understand the implications of his request.
"Uh… help, sir?" Cody managed, after a few seconds of painful silence.
"It's my hair," Obi-wan said, frustrated. "I can't see well enough to wash it all out myself and I really don't want to have to cut any of it."
Cody wanted to laugh, and a grin did manage to slip onto his face. The Jedi was blushing, but steadfast in his request, and Cody of course assented, tossing the Jedi a towel and grabbing a stool for Obi-wan to sit on.
Jedi were more muscular than he had thought. It was a lean muscle, of course, but still…
He tried not to stare. Thankfully, Obi-wan was facing the other way, and Cody helped him clean the last of the coolant out of his hair.
It was an unfortunate arrangement of circumstances that led to such an absurd interruption to their military campaign, but as they boarded the transport back down to the planet's surface - with some additional supplies for their trouble - Cody found himself thinking that he was glad it had happened. It had been very humanizing for his view of his Jedi General, and as they landed, he found he trusted the man a great deal more now.
No one was ever able to properly impress upon me what made lightsabers so special- the skill to wield them seemed like the more important part. Even thinking like that, though, I still ended up with one in my hand far more often than I ought to.
“That was close,” General Skywalker said, as they stepped off the transport.
“Indeed,” Obi-wan agreed. “Unfortunately, I’ll have to go back down there,”
Before Anakin could ask why, Cody cut-in, walking over from the second ship.
“No you won’t, sir.” He held out Obi-wan’s lightsaber. It flew from his hand and into Obi-wan’s, who gave vent to a sigh of relief.
“What would I do without you, Commander?” He asked, at the same time as Anakin snorted in derision.
“You’ve gotta be kidding me, Obi-wan. When did you even manage to lose it?”
“I didn’t lose it,” Obi-wan defended. “I knew exactly where it was.” Cody and Anakin both fixed unblinking stares on him. “It was on the floor of a cave.”
“Actually, some local wildlife grabbed it,” Cody said to Anakin. “He’s lucky we noticed.”
“I’m sorry you have to look after him like that,” Anakin said with a heavy sigh. “But the Republic appreciates your noble efforts.”
“ You’re apologizing to him !?” Obi-wan was aghast. “If we have to apologize for each other’s behavior I believe Captain Rex is due an apology feast!”
“Would I be invited?” Anakin asked, all innocence.
“ No! ”
“Am I?” Cody asked. Obi-wan gave him an exasperated look.
“Not if you keep siding with him.” The Jedi said.
“Sir,” Cody replied, affronted. “We are the 212th Lightsaber Retrieval Battalion. We only follow you.”
Obi-wan looked so offended, and Anakin’s laughter was so loud, he almost felt bad.
I won't say we just happened to share hobbies. Rather, it's more like his were the first hobbies I was ever exposed to. I could've accessed novels or games beforehand, I suppose, but doing things out of the ordinary gets you funny looks when you’re a clone.
“You called me here to water a plant, sir?” Cody was good at keeping his voice and expression neutral, but the Jedi’s shit-eating grin made it clear he wasn’t fooled.
“Well, Commander Cody, as I’m injured ,” he indicated his right arm, in a sling until the next day. “I can’t quite manage it myself.” The teasing was a natural advancement of the friendship they’d been forming, but joke or no, Cody was still surprised Obi-wan seemed so inclined to spend time with him.
Cody looked up at the vines snaking their way along the wires the Jedi had hung around his compartment, and the hanging pot they originated from.
Such greenery would be out of place anywhere on The Negotiator , but Cody supposed if anyone would keep plants, it would be the Jedi. There were a few smaller plants around the room, within arms reach, that Obi-wan wasn’t pretending he couldn’t reach.
“Couldn’t you use the Force, sir?” Cody asked cheekily, even as he dragged a chair over and grabbed the watering pan that had been left on a shelf.
“That would be an egregious misuse of its powers,” Obi-wan admonished him.
“Not taking into account an egregious misuse of your troops,” Cody muttered, loud enough for Obi-wan to hear him.
“I’m glad you feel more comfortable in expressing yourself around me lately.”
Cody glanced over at the Jedi, and saw Obi-wan sitting down on the edge of his bed, grinning. He looked away quickly as he felt heat rush to his cheeks, re-focusing on his task.
“How much should I…?” He trailed off. Obi-wan had stretched out on his bed and closed his eyes. “Sir?” He asked, a little quieter.
“Not much,” Obi-wan answered, also quiet. “Nothing in here requires much water. I’d keep different plants, but since I never seem to spend much time here…” He let the sentence hang, not needing to finish it.
Cody finished and stepped off the chair, returning it and the watering pan to where he’d found them.
“Was there anything else?” After a moment he added, “Sir,” because even though this was obviously informal, it still didn’t feel right to leave it off.
Obi-wan opened his eyes, obviously thinking hard.
“Do you have anything you need to be doing, Cody?”
It was an odd way to phrase the question, and, frowning, Cody replied, “No, sir. Nothing important.”
“Would you like to play a game, then?”
“Dejarik,” Obi-wan clarified, looking equal parts nervous and excited, which was messing with Cody’s head in a variety of ways. “I have an old set, but Anakin was never interested and- well, there hasn’t been anyone who’s wanted to play.”
Cody was sure that had more to do with the galaxy being at war than a lack of interest, and he was also sure the Jedi wasn’t intentionally manipulating him. He still felt bad.
“Sure, sir, if you want. You’ll have to teach me how to play, though.”
Obi-wan’s face lit up, and Cody felt better.
“Now, now,” Obi-wan said, mock-patronizing, as he moved a piece forward. “See, if you hadn’t have done that,” He took one of Cody’s pieces. “Then-”
“Then I wouldn’t have won,” Cody interrupted smugly, as he moved a different piece Obi-wan hadn’t been paying attention to, smoothly taking the Jedi’s attacker and setting himself up for an all-out assault on the Jedi’s remaining pieces.
Obi-wan’s mouth hung open slightly as he leaned in, examining the board. There was really only one way the game could play out now, and it would leave Cody with the last man standing.
“Well.” Obi-wan didn't seem to have more to say than that, and Cody leaned back in his chair, feeling rather proud of himself.
“Comprehension and strategy are two things we’re taught, you know. Especially Commanders.” Cody said, stretching his arms back behind his head.
Obi-wan’s eyes glittered with amusement. “Well, my apologies Commander . I seem to have underestimated you. One more game?”
Cody checked the time. It would be lights out soon, but there was time for one more.
“If you want, sir.”
Obi-wan paused for a moment, a mischievous glint in his eye.
“What say we make this last one more interesting? A wager, perhaps?”
Cody blinked. “A… wager, sir?” Did Jedi gamble? Did he want credits? Cody didn’t have credits.
“Yes. Since I’ve clearly been making light of your abilities of strategy and comprehension, why don’t we see who’s really the best at this?”
“What did you have in mind, sir?” Cody asked, ignoring the mocking jibe.
“If I win,” Obi-wan said slowly, stroking his beard. “You have to call me by my name.”
Cody stared at him.
“And not just once. I know when we’re out in the field or at an official event you need to be formal, but when we’re alone like this, in a casual setting - I want you to call me Obi-wan.”
Cody didn’t know what to say to that. The implication that they would be alone in a casual setting again was enough to send his mind reeling.
“And if you win?” Obi-wan prompted.
“Uh,” Cody stalled, mind racing, before he settled on something he’d wanted the General to do almost since they’d met. “If I win, then the next time you wind up in the medbay, you have to do everything the medic recommends. Without complaint.”
Obi-wan considered him for a moment.
“I’ve really given you a terrible impression of my ability to take care of myself, haven’t I?”
“With respect, you’ve given me an accurate one, sir.”
The tacked on sir seemed to steel the Jedi’s resolve.
“Very well, Commander. Let’s see, shall we?”
Cody glared down at his lap.
“I want you to say it.”
Jedi could be downright sadistic when they wanted to.
He opened his mouth, closed it, then opened it again.
“Ah… O…” He took a deep breath, and gave vent to a long sigh. “Obi-wan.”
“That’s a good man!”
Cody glared at him as he got up from the table.
“I’d better get back to my bunk si... Obi-wan.”
“Seems to be around that time, yes. You know, Commander-”
“What?” Cody asked warily. Obi-wan looked rather put out, but Cody was pretty sure he was faking.
“I was just going to say,” A smile broke through the Jedi's facade, “That practice always helps you master new skills. And we’ll still be en route tomorrow. If you’re interested.”
It wasn’t a command. Cody could easily plead off for any number of reasons.
“You’re on, Obi-wan.” He’d said the names plenty of times in his head, but hearing it on his own lips was still bizarre.
I never could decide if it was the frequency or severity of the near-death experiences Obi-wan encountered that bothered me more, but I certainly wasn't the mother hen type before I worked with him.
"Push me down one more time -" he was interrupted by Cody firmly pushing his chest back down to the bed.
Obi-wan glared at him.
"Jedi aren't supposed to get angry," Cody quipped.
"All sentients experience anger," Obi-wan growled. "Jedi don't let it control them or influence their actions."
"You're letting it influence your tone of voice and expression." Cody said. "Sir," He added, entirely unnecessarily.
Obi-wan let his head lay back against the pillow, looking up at the ceiling. Cody had come to learn this signaled his willingness to accept defeat.
"You are getting more and more obstinate about this." Obi-wan sighed.
"And you’re ending up here more and more often." Cody replied coldly. "This is the second time just this campaign."
"The first time was Anakin's fault," The Jedi pointed out plaintively.
"And the third time might be the last!" Cody snapped, anger seeming to flash into existence. Obi-wan seemed taken aback. "I am not going to lose you, Obi-wan." Cody whispered, voice a touch raw for a second, and a small part of his brain was grateful they were the only two in the room at the moment.
"I… I'm not planning on going anywhere," Obi-wan said slowly, clearly surprised by Cody's attitude.
"You're not all that convincing." Cody said, meeting Obi-wan's eyes. "I appreciate that you're trying to keep as many of us alive as possible, but-"
"Do not tell me your lives are worth less than my own! I will not tolerate you thinking that way!"
"It doesn't have to be about that!" Cody yelled, bottled up feelings pouring out of him. "If you jump between me and a grenade, how do you think I'm going to feel!? Whether you just get hurt or- or die," his voice gave out on him for a second at the horrible thought, "-in place of me, I'm going to blame myself just like you would in the reverse! I get that you want us all to live, but as bad as you feel when one of us dies, we'd be devastated if we lost you, too." He reached and gripped Obi-wan's arm.
"We care about you, Obi-wan." The words didn't feel strong enough, but now wasn't the time for such thoughts. "We want to save you for the same reasons you want to save us. It's not about the fact that we're clones and you're not."
"I…" Obi-wan cleared his throat before trying again. "I hadn't realized you felt so strongly about this, Cody."
He'd been using Cody's name more, lately. But this wasn't the time to think about that.
"Sorry, sir," Cody said, forcing his voice back to normal. He thought he saw disappointment flash in Obi-wan's eyes before he, too, became more business-like. "It's just that I've been wanting to say this for some time now."
"You've made yourself clear. And I... appreciate the sentiment. I'll try to be more careful."
There was a moment's stillness as both men seemed to notice that Cody's hand was still holding Obi-wan's arm. He removed it and turned toward the door.
"Get some rest, sir. We'll be waiting for you."
"I will, and thank you, Commander."
Cody had the oddest feeling as he left that he'd made some sort of mistake, but he couldn't for the life of him figure out what it was.
It changed after Geonosis. I’d never really understood the Jedi rules about private matters, but I know that there was something significant buried in his words, and it was in deciphering his meaning that I came to understand the way he viewed himself.
After Geonosis, the men were a different kind of tired than usual.
They were the usual kind of tired, too, of course. It had been a grueling campaign in poor conditions. They had lost brothers. But they had also seen and learned more things about the galaxy, and the creatures it held, than they had ever wanted to.
Both Cody and Obi-wan had been so insistent that all the other soldiers take care of themselves and clean up first that by the time they entered the showers themselves, they were alone. Obi-wan had his own private bathroom, but used the trooper showers as often as not. According to him, he spent so little time in his own quarters, and so often had meetings immediately after assignment, that it saved time to simply clean up here, rather than going all the way to his quarters and back.
The troopers didn’t mind. It was a little odd, but they weren’t raised to be self-conscious about their bodies, and there were a few private shower stalls, which the Jedi always used. Besides, sharing a locker room was a surefire way to dispel the illusion of separation between the men and their general - though if Cody was being honest with himself, he wasn’t sure if Obi-wan’s thinking was that deep. The man might use their locker room simply because he prized efficiency and took no time for himself.
They stripped down without talking and stepped into adjacent stalls.
“Hell of a day, huh?” Cody surprised himself by making conversation.
“It certainly was that.” Obi-wan agreed after a quiet moment.
“Did you know she could do that? With those… worms? You knew about her, right?”
“I didn’t, and saying I knew about her is a bit of a leap, to be frank.” Obi-wan explained. “The Geonosian Queen was just a rumor - borderline superstition. Maybe the first person to talk about her knew for a fact she existed, but most people who swapped the rumor simply believed it because the Geonosians are insectoids.”
Silence fell between then, and Cody just let the hot water wash over him for a moment, allowing himself some indulgence, unaware Obi-wan was doing the same.
“Those… worm things,” Cody said, breaking the silence. “They’re horrible.”
“You’ll get no disagreement from me. Taking someone’s mind like that is…” he trailed off, and Cody was sure Obi-wan was just as disgusted as he was.
“I can understand them as weapons,” Cody said. “It’s still inexcusable, but I can understand their uses. But she’d done that to her own people. Turned them into mindless monsters. Her children. ”
“The most dangerous beings in the galaxy,” Obi-wan began slowly, “Are those with power, who think of themselves as inherently superior to other living beings. The destruction of battle droids or the insects you didn’t even realize you’d stepped on don’t keep you up at night. And if you didn’t think of other sentients any differently, you could do all sorts of terrible things without feeling remorse.”
There was another moment of silence, before Obi-wan spoke again, so quietly that Cody had to strain to hear him.
“It’s the same reason we’re warned against the temptations of the Dark Side. Our connection to the Force gives us abilities far beyond ordinary people. If we succumb, lose respect for life, and cast aside our moral compass and restraint, the amount of damage we could inflict is… well.” Obi-wan turned his shower off. “There’s no need for me to get so grim.”
Cody agreed silently, turning his own shower off and grabbing a towel, but as he stepped out behind Obi-wan, the Jedi slipped, and with a rather undignified yelp and flailing of limbs, he crashed back into Cody, knocking them both to the floor.
Mercifully, Cody didn’t hit his head against the hard floor, but such thoughts were completely driven from his mind as he took in their current predicament. Obi-wan had landed mostly on him, his head at Cody’s shoulder, their bodies tangled together - and both of their towels conspicuous in their absence.
“Well,” Obi-wan said breathlessly into the silence, his face a deep shade of scarlet to match Cody’s own. “We are never going to speak of this to another living soul.”
“Right you are.”
You could only make accidental eye contact and hurriedly look from someone so many times before other people notice.
“Are you alright, Commander Cody?” Ashoka asked, concerned, as they left a strategy meeting.
“‘Course I’m alright,” Cody replied, frowning at her. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Well… you and Master Obi-wan have been acting a little… strange.” Cody arched an eyebrow at her, rather than say anything that might come across as defensive. “I just… wondered… if something had happened between you two on Geonosis.”
“Nope,” Cody said, and, satisfied with what was technically a completely honest answer, walked off.
There was precisely one time in my life I was thankful for politics and overly complicated bureaucracy. Those systems, and one rather perceptive old woman.
Cody couldn't sit still.
“Stop fidgeting,” Obi-wan said.
Cody ignored him- until his bouncing foot seemed to be seized by an invisible hand, and ceased motion.
“That is an egregious misuse of your powers, sir,” Cody grumbled, and the pressure on his leg let up.
“If I can’t meditate I’ll have to use the Force to find peace some other way.”
When he’d been asked to accompany Obi-wan on a clandestine mission to meet a Republic-leaning politician on a neutral world, Cody had agreed without a second thought. They’d both dressed relatively inconspicuously - Cody out of his familiar trooper armor and into a form-fitting black set. There was no hiding the soldier-y way he carried himself, so he was ostensibly Obi-wan’s bodyguard. The Jedi was traveling under the cover of a merchant come to negotiate a trade route.
And they’d been sitting in this waiting room for nearly 2 hours.
“I understand that he wasn’t able to see us immediately,” Cody growled under his breath. “But even if we’re acting-”
“Cody,” Obi-wan cautioned.
“Sorry,” he mumbled.
“It’s probably not his fault,” The Jedi said quietly, shifting in his seat so he was a little closer to Cody. “Someone went in ahead of us. If they’re throwing a fit and occupying his time, he can’t very well tell them that a common merchant is his more important guest.”
“Or he’s in absolutely no hurry because he thinks it's fun to keep us waiting,” Cody shot back.
“Because your attitude is doing so much to dissuade him of that?”
Cody made an indistinct growling noise but didn’t respond. Any good soldier hates politics, and he was no exception.
40 minutes later, when the planet’s sun was starting to sink below the horizon, the door finally opened, and two men emerged. The larger, louder one thanked the other for their hospitality, and without so much as glancing at the two he’d majorly inconvenienced, strode from the room. The other man turned to them, apologetic.
“I’m very sorry, Master Kenobi, but I’m afraid we no longer have time for this today.”
Cody opened his mouth to argue, thoroughly annoyed, but Obi-wan’s hand on his arm silenced him.
“I understand, of course. We don’t want people asking questions about why you went out of your way to accomodate a lowly merchant.”
“Thank you,” the man said, relieved. “I can give you some credits to rent a room for the night, at least.”
“That won’t be necessary,” Obi-wan declined. “We can find our own accommodations.”
“You’re very gracious, Master Jedi,” The man said, bowing his head as they exited the room.
“So gracious someone might think you’re doing it on purpose,” Cody grumbled as they walked toward the speeder pad.
“Improving his impression of us-”
“-can only be helpful.” Obi-wan finished, pointedly ignoring the interruption.
“That’s great, Obi-wan, but we don’t have many credits.” He stopped and turned to look Obi-wan in the eye. “I don’t have any credits at all .”
“Well,” The Jedi said, shrugging. “We’ll have to room somewhere cheap.”
The elderly receptionist was examining them intently, her fingers laced together as she stared.
Considering all they’d asked was if there was a room available, Cody had no idea why.
“...Yes.” She answered finally. “We do.” And Obi-wan, who Cody thought seemed equally as mystified, though he was better at hiding it, paid her.
“That was odd,” Cody said, carrying their bags as Obi-wan led the way to their room.
“I didn’t sense any negative intent,” Obi-wan said as he stopped outside their room and keyed it open. “But yes that was very- this room only has one bed.”
Cody pinched the bridge of his nose, trying not to laugh. The bed didn’t look big enough to properly accommodate two people, unless their bodies were very close together.
“She spent that whole time trying to decide if we were a couple.” Obi-wan said, amazed. “She could’ve asked.”
“And we already paid…” Cody added, trying and failing to keep the humor out of his voice. Obi-wan shot him a venomous look.
“Enjoying this, Commander?”
“No sir,” Cody said, ruining the sentiment by chuckling as he spoke. “Don’t worry,” He added, stepping into the room after Obi-wan and closing the door behind him. “I’ll take the floor.”
“That hardly seems necessary,” Obi-wan protested. “I’m the one that dragged you along on this venture as it is.”
“But you’re the superior officer,” Cody pointed out.
“Not right now. Right now I’m just a simple merchant.”
“And I’m just your hired help.”
They held each other’s gaze for a few long seconds.
“So either we’re both sleeping on the bed, or neither of us is sleeping on the bed.” Obi-wan said flatly.
“We seem to be the same amount of stubborn on this issue, so I’m going to say yes,” Agreed Cody.
And so it was that the Clone and the Jedi settled down that night, backs pressed against each other, with an altogether inadequate blanket barely covering them both. Still, they’d slept in worse conditions, and it wasn’t long until both of them were drifting off to sleep.
Cody wished he had been more surprised at what had woken him up, but you can’t fight in a war for any amount of time and be surprised by nightmares. Even if this time, they weren’t his own.
The blanket was long gone, thrown to the ground by Obi-wan’s restlessness. The Jedi wasn’t loud, but his tossing and turning meant he was repeatedly bumping into Cody, albeit not hard enough to wake himself up.
“Sir,” Cody said softly, reaching over and shaking the man’s shoulder. This accomplished nothing, as Obi-wan shrugged the shoulder off in his sleep.
Cody weighed his options.
If he woke Obi-wan up now, there was a good chance the man wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep. Given that it was still pitch black outside, this meant that the Jedi wouldn’t be well rested for the negotiations. But watching the strained look on the sleeping man's face, along with his restless movements and small, pained noises, was too painful to watch.
That’s when Cody decided to something that might be wonderful but was definitely stupid.
Carefully, methodically, and making sure to jostle Obi-wan as little as possible, Cody turned over. If he woke the Jedi up in the process of attempting this, he could always say he was trying to rouse him.
Deftly, he wrapped his arms around his companion. Obi-wan rolled over in his sleep to face Cody. Taking this as a sign that he was doing something right, he gingerly tightened his grip, pulling the man as close as he dared.
He held his breath, but Obi-wan didn't wake up.
His plan seemed to have worked. Obi-wan seemed to have calmed down, and was slumbering peacefully. In the morning, he could claim it was simply an unconscious action that had occured while they were both sleeping. He wouldn't have to fake the embarrassment he'd feel when Obi-wan woke up, and the man would be better for it. It was only for tonight.
Cody studied the sleeping man's face until he drifted off back to sleep.
Even after that, Cody still woke up first the next morning.
They were in the same position- if anything, they were closer. Obi-wan’s head was partially resting on his arm, and Cody, stupidly, could only stare.
He must not have properly woken up, because when Obi-wan woke up, blinking his eyes in confusion, Cody didn’t move. He didn't say anything. He didn’t even have the common sense to close his eyes so he could pretend to be asleep.
Obi-wan’s eyes met his.
They didn’t move. They didn’t speak.
Cody was sure that some part of the Jedi’s brain was taking in the situation, but he didn’t pull away.
Cody tightened his hold slightly. Obi-wan didn’t respond.
The clone fancied that the Jedi’s breathing had hitched.
Perhaps it was fate, or the Force, or just his own desire, but Cody felt himself being pulled toward Obi-wan. He could feel the man’s breath on his face, see the color rise in his cheeks, and he still didn’t pull away. They were almost touching-
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
The moment was gone.
Without comment, they disentangled themselves, red-faced, and Obi-wan slipped out of bed and went over to his beeping communicator. They had slept in later than Cody had realized, and were now running the risk of being late to the rescheduled meeting. Hopefully the goodwill Obi-wan had earned yesterday would make up for any lateness on their part.
They dressed and went out in silence. We will deal with this later went unspoken. Duty always came first.
But later never came. They finished their talks - the man was assuredly on the Republic’s side, but lacked the power to act on his own - and returned to The Negotiator without discussing it. Indeed, Obi-wan seemed to consciously ease them back into normal topics of conversation, and Cody went along with it, reluctantly. Apparently they were going to pretend it hadn’t happened at all, which hurt more than Cody thought it would. It wasn’t what he would have expected of the Jedi- but maybe that was proof he had felt it too. Maybe it wouldn’t be so easy for Obi-wan to brush it off, if it did come up.
If Cody thought it would hurt their friendship, however, he was wrong. They still attended meetings and trusted each other in the field, naturally, but Obi-wan continued to invite him to his quarters. They continued to talk and joke and play games- if anything, they were closer than before. And there was an undercurrent of warmth between them.
To say it would be to destroy it. And it made Cody happier, and it made Obi-wan happier.
So he didn’t say it.
I wasn’t a child who needed it explained to me. There’s no half-measures when it comes to faking your own death if you want it to mean anything. You can’t tell anyone if it needs to be absolute.
But dammit, it hurt.
He had spent every day hurting, and filled with regret.
He kept doing his job, of course. Kept his head up and eyes forward while he commanded his boys. When he was working, he could push everything else to the back of his mind.
When he had to stop, he would light up the Dejarik board, and watch the pieces move around the board. The games always ended in tie matches.
And then the story broke. Obi-wan was alive. It had all been planned. He was safe and alive and coming back.
Cody wasn’t there to greet him, when he finally returned to the ship. No one tried to contact him, because his men weren’t fools, and they knew that he knew the General was back, and he was sure they also all knew why he was staying away.
If they hadn’t known how he felt before this whole mess, he was sure his behavior during it gave him away.
When he opened the door to his personal quarters, Obi-wan didn’t seem surprised to see Cody sitting on his bed, staring at the floor.
The Jedi keyed the door shut, and went about getting out of his armor, not saying anything. Once he was in more casual dress, he sat on the bed next to Cody.
Cody took in a shaky breath.
“I’m glad you’re alive,” He said simply. There was more he wanted to say, so much more . But Obi-wan Kenobi was one of the most respected Jedi in the galaxy. You didn’t say those kinds of things to him. There was no point.
“Thank you,” Obi-wan replied. Then, after a moment, he asked, “Is that all you wanted to say?”
Now that was just cruel.
Cody looked away, glaring at the wall.
“What are you expecting?” He asked, angrily. “Whatever I say - either I get rejected or… or you break your oath.” Both options seemed terrible- as though everything would come apart around them if it happened.
And then, amazingly, wonderfully, he felt the light touch of fingers on his cheek, and he turned to meet Obi-wan’s eyes. There was no reproach there, no anger or even bitterness.
“As hectic as all of this was,” Obi-wan said quietly. “I still had time to think. Time by myself, away from everyone else. And I understood something.”
Obi-wan’s hand dropped from his face to his shoulder, and he gave Cody a tender smile.
“There are good reasons for Jedi to avoid attachments. Our role as impartial mediators, the risk that someone we care about could be used to hurt us or drag us to the Dark Side- even the strong emotions that surround love. But-”
Cody sucked in a breath.
“What I’ve come to understand is that even if I don’t give voice to it, the attachment… the one that’s here ,” he tightened his grip on Cody’s shoulder. “It won’t just vanish. And I think- for me, at least-” It was cute that he was doubting himself now. “-that it won't ever go away. I can’t just will these feelings away, and trying to bury it is only going to cause problems of every variety.”
He leaned closer to Cody. “If I accept that this attachment exists regardless of my actions,” They were an inch apart. “Then I might as well accept the happiness that goes with it, too.”
It was a silly, roundabout, Jedi way of thinking. But then they were kissing, and Cody didn’t care anymore.
After a blissful second, something seemed to kick into action in Cody’s brain, and he was leaning more into the kiss, before actually pushing Obi-wan down and leaning over him, a hand on either side of the blushing Jedi’s head.
“I hope you didn’t have plans later,” He said, in a deep voice he could scarcely believe came out of his mouth.
“Ah… no,” Obi-wan said breathlessly. “Anakin isn’t due until late tomorrow.”
“Good,” Cody growled. “Doubt we’ll have to worry about the boys bothering us either.” He leaned down closer. “I love you.”
Obi-wan swallowed, meeting his intense gaze. “I love you too.”
I’ve decided that it’s not that Jedi aren’t subtle, it’s that they’re the least subtle people who think they are actually managing to pull off subtlety.
“Cody, I- wait, you-”
The poor Jedi was having difficulty getting a word in edgewise as Cody positioned himself mostly on top of the man.
“Don’t wanna wait,” He hummed, pressing a kiss to Obi’s neck. “Waited for almost 2 weeks already.”
Obi-wan, red faced and on his back in bed, was perhaps not the most convincing figure to try and dissuade his eager Commander.
“Someone might come knocking!” He managed to say, even as he made no actual, physical attempt to dissuade Cody’s actions.
“Who would?” Cody asked, reassuring his partner. “We just got back from a long campaign, and I had to keep my hands off of you the entire time…” Said hands balled up in Obi-wan’s shirt, pulling him up slightly, and Cody could tell that for all his token protests, the Jedi had every intention of going along with this.
The door slid open.
“Hey, Obi-wan, I wanted to talk… to… you…”
Anakin Skywalker trailed off as he took in the scene before him, his mouth hanging open as the door automatically slid shut behind him.
A million excuses ran through Cody’s head, but one glance at Obi-wan told him they were not going to bother.
“You and Padmé have been married for almost three years now,” Obi-wan said flatly. For all that he had been warning him about this exact situation, Cody thought the man looked supremely annoyed at the interruption.
Watching the parade of facial expressions cross Skywalker’s face as he registered what Obi-wan had said and the implied confession of the scene before him was a level of entertainment Cody would never be able to spend money to see.
Rather than saying anything in response, Anakin walked over to a chair and sat down, staring off into space, utterly dumbstruck.
“Oh, let me up,” Obi muttered irritably, and Cody complied, holding in laughter as he watched Skywalker’s world crumble around him.
“How… long have you…” Anakin couldn’t even finish the question, looking up at Obi-wan as he walked over.
“Well I didn’t see a marriage certificate you left lying around,” Obi-wan said kindly. “I know it’s almost three years because I’ve known the entire time.” Obi-wan patted Anakin’s shoulder. “You aren’t as subtle as you think you are.”
“Neither are you,” Cody muttered, and Obi made a show of rolling his eyes at him.
“So… you knew,” Anakin said, amazed. “You knew, and-” His eyes widened, and he said softly, “You didn’t say anything.”
“Lots of people didn’t say anything,” Cody chimed in cheerily.
“What?” Anakin seemed, if possible, even more thrown off by this statement. “How did you know?”
Obi seemed curious too.
“Rex told me.”
“How did Rex know? And why did he say anything!?”
“Well as for why , it was because I said ‘Hey Rex, you think there’s something going on between those two?’ about you and the Senator,” One of Anakin’s eyes had started to twitch. “And as for the how , he said that he and Commander Tano got to talking about how they each felt about the way you two got on and just sorta… figured it out.”
Anakin let out a shaky laugh and looked down at his hands.
“Guess we really weren’t good at hiding it at all, huh?” Neither man answered him, but they also really didn’t have to. “But you all… had our backs, didn’t you?” He said, looking up at them, and the smile on his face wasn’t one Cody had ever seen before. It was as though the weight of the world had just slipped off his shoulders.
“If I had thought it was possible to talk you out of it, I would’ve tried,” Obi-wan honestly, though not unkindly, replied. “After all, if it was something you could’ve been talked out of, it probably wouldn’t have been important enough to risk so much for. But you snuck off and got married before I ever had the chance, so...” He smiled. “Besides,” he added, with half a glance at Cody. “Things change. It's not a crime to be in love. And it doesn’t stop you from doing your job either.”
Cody grinned back, and Anakin got up from the chair and wrapped Obi-wan in a hug. Obi hugged him back, patting his shoulder.
“Whatever else happens, I hope you know I’m with you,” Obi-wan said quietly. “If I’d realized how much this had been weighing on you-”
“Don’t apologize,” Anakin said, collecting himself and wiping his eyes. “It was kinda fun, sometimes, sneaking around. But- well, it’s good to know, too.”
Anakin took a step away and shook himself, taking a calming breath, before turning his attention to Cody.
“So… what about you two?”
Cody raised an eyebrow.
“What about us, sir?”
Anakin smirked and looked at Obi-wan.
“Come on now.”
“Whatever are you talking about?” Obi-wan inquired.
“Oh, it’s gonna be like that, huh?” Anakin asked, crossing his arms.
“What has gotten into him?” Obi asked Cody, and Cody just shrugged, smiling.
“Alright smartasses, what were you doing on the bed?” Anakin accused.
“Oh, that?” Obi-wan asked loftily. “He was helping me find my datapad.”
Anakin looked pointedly at the datapad, sitting on a table at the other end of the room, where Cody had thrown it after snatching it out of Obi-wan’s hands.
“And then I tripped,” Cody added helpfully.
“And launched the both of you across the room and onto the bed.” Anakin did not pose the statement as a question.
“I’m thinking of taking him to the Jedi Temple to be tested for Force Sensitivity,” Obi said.
“Oh, I doubt you’re taking him anywhere near the temple,” Anakin muttered. “But- well. I’m happy for you.” He reached out and grasped Obi-wan’s arm for a second, before turning to leave.
“I should probably go call Padmé. And leave you two alone.”
Cody nodded behind Obi-wan, which Anakin didn’t miss, flashing him a grin as he left, closing the door behind him.
“Well,” Obi-wan started, “I think that went wel-” his sentence turned into an undignified yelp of surprise as Cody swept him up off the floor entirely.
“We were in the middle of something,” Cody reminded his Jedi.
“Who are you?” Obi asked, scarlet in the face.
“Just a simple man in love,” Cody answered fondly.
It was the worst day of my life- it would’ve been the worst day of anyone’s life.
I don’t remember much of what actually happened. Obi had taken down Grievous, finally, and we were fighting, and then…
Imagine everything goes dim and quiet, and there’s a black tidal wave of water coming at you, and there’s no getting out of the way, it is GOING to hit you. There’s no land for you to get washed to, nothing to keep your head above water. It doesn’t matter how strong or smart you are- you’re still going to drown, immediately.
That was what it felt like. But I didn’t drown. Even as the black sea threw me back and forth, there was a single, bright spot of white light, a man, holding on to me, refusing to let me be pulled beneath the waves.
Even when he was far away, or fighting, there was a part of him holding onto me, through the bond I hadn’t even realized we’d formed, refusing to let me go under.
And then, a few days, or maybe a few hours, or maybe a year later, the waters began to calm and recede, and Obi-wan pulled me up, out of the water, and I was finally able to breathe, and think, and rest - rest until I was able to face the world again.
Cody’s eyes were closed.
He wasn’t sleeping, but he was resting quite comfortably, his head nestled in the crook between Obi-wan’s head and shoulder, and his arms wrapped around the man’s waist. He kept his breathing slow and even, taking in the distant sounds of nature, and the light tapping of Obi working away on his datapad.
It was blissful, but he couldn’t stop his brain from working, processing everything that had led to this point.
He wasn’t the only one still figuring it out. He had been borderline comatose until just recently, and the citizens of the Republic had been bombarded with so much news that many might never quite understand what had happened. Of course, he had access to information and sources the Republic citizens didn’t, and likely never would.
Chancellor Palpatine had been a Sith Lord, and had been behind the entire war, from the creation of the clone army, to the temptation of Count Dooku and the formation of the Separatists, in a bid to gain control of the entire galaxy.
Part of his plan, apparently, had been an attempt to trick Anakin into becoming his apprentice. This was where he had overplayed his hand, and after revealing his true identity to Anakin, the young man had gone directly to the Jedi to warn them. Palpatine had killed most of the Jedi who had come to ambush him and escaped. While the Jedi had still been deciding on their next move, the Chancellor had made a special call to Cody’s holotranceiver, and uttered the words:
“Execute Order 66.”
He had called Cody, specifically. While it was obvious, in hindsight, that Order 66 had been his great plan to destroy the Jedi, he had not yet given up on making Anakin his apprentice. His intent had been to get Obi-wan killed and convince Anakin that the Republic had betrayed and murdered Obi-wan- whose death Anakin likely would have sensed through the Force.
Cody thought that even if Obi had been killed - which was not a pleasant line of thought by any means - it still wouldn’t have worked, namely because Anakin knew how they felt about each other. Cody never would have followed that order if he’d had a choice.
The existence of the chips still deeply upset him. On just the word from one old bastard he and his brothers had started to be erased- everything that made them them just washed away, and they had been forced to turn their guns on the man they cared so deeply for- albeit in different ways.
While his brothers had been taken by the command automatically, Cody himself had been paralyzed. Obi had told him that once the chip had activated, he could sense Cody’s mind fading through the Force Bond. (that they apparently had). He had managed to take hold, through the Force, of Cody’s mind, even while dodging the other clones attacks. The battle between Cody’s body, which was attempting to follow the Chancellor’s orders, and his mind, which was attempting to shut everything down, had led to - as he had been told - him staggering off the cliff and falling into the lake below. Obi had used the fire on him as cover to dive into the lake to rescue him.
With the chip still active, and Obi-wan lacking the knowledge or skill to disable or remove it, he had made the difficult decision to smuggle them both onto Coruscant, even given Cody’s condition, and leave him with a few other Jedi while he went to join Anakin. While Cody still shuddered at the thought of what might have happened to him if he had succumbed without Obi-wan around, he didn’t bear his partner any ill will- it had been the right decision.
The great battle between Anakin, Obi-wan, and Master Yoda against the Chancellor - now claiming the title of Darth Sidious - had taken place in the heart of the Senate, and had all been captured on camera.
It was, in a way, both the easiest and the hardest thing for the citizens of the Republic to accept in the tumult following the end of the war. Easy because there was proof. Hard, because they had believed in their Chancellor.
With some testimony from Count Dooku - whom Obi and Anakin had captured earlier, during what was now, obviously, a staged kidnapping of Palpatine - the story had come together.
Palpatine had paid the Kaminoans to start developing clones, convinced Dooku to turn and rebel, paid the Separatists, and had manipulated the blockade of Naboo to get himself named Chancellor. From there, he had orchestrated the war to weaken the Jedi as much as possible, as some were killed in action, killed by hired assassins, and still others succumbed to the Dark Side when faced with the brutality of war.
He had refused peace talks, and sabotaged relief efforts because the longer the war went on, the more power he gained. His end goal had been to get sworn in as a supreme leader after ‘defeating’ the Separatists and killing off the Jedi with Order 66.
After his death, and a brief interrogation of his aide, the Jedi had been able to cease the broadcast of Order 66. The rest of the 212th, who had been awaiting further orders since Obi-wan’s escape, had apparently just holstered their guns and sat down where they were, their minds simply blank. Cody had passed out once his chip stopped, right before Obi-wan had reached him. Obi had admitted later, in a strained confession, that he’d been afraid, for a few horrible seconds, that Cody had simply died.
Obi, apparently sensing some stray feelings, rested a hand on Cody’s own, and squeezed it briefly. Cody squeezed back, a small smile forming on his face. He was fine.
As the Republic came together in the aftermath, the first order of business, spearheaded by acting Chancellor Padmé Amidala, had been to remove the control chips of all remaining Clone Troopers. The Senate had gone along with it, partly because they had no ideas themselves, and partly because Padmé had tactfully pointed out that someone else could potentially seize control of the clones for their own ends.
She’d had to step down shortly after the order was put into effect because she had gone into labor. The Senate had confirmed Bail Organa - whom she had nominated - as Chancellor afterwards.
Removing the chip hadn’t actually fixed anything, but it had been a welcome relief for the Clones, knowing that the individuality they had worked hard for wasn’t going to be stolen away from. The men of the 212th still seemed… empty, but they’d been working with Jedi Healers, and there had been some promising signs that maybe something of the men they had been would come back some day.
Cody himself had been improving every day. He had barely been able to speak at first, and had clung to Obi-wan, not even aware of the other people around them; however, by the end of the week, he could get around and communicate under his own power. He still got anxious whenever they were apart- the feeling of his mind slipping away had been intensely traumatic, and even though the chip was gone, there was a deep-seated, irrational fear that such a thing might happen again.
The Kaminoans had also accepted a promise of later pay to begin gene treatments for the clone’s, so that they would age at a normal rate. Cody had been the very first to receive the treatments, at Obi’s insistence, which may well have been the first selfish action of his lover's life.
Even as the Republic was still trying to figure out how to move forward, they had been surprised again, when the greatest of the Republic’s heroes, Obi-wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, had announced they were leaving the Jedi Order. Obi had made the announcement, Anakin standing beside him.
“As chaotic as things seem right now, I want to assure you all of this: the war is over, and we are heading into an age of peace. There is nothing more my friend or I need to do to see us through to that time. And it’s about time we thought about our happiness, and that of our loved ones.”
The Jedi Order had taken the news surprisingly well, though the events leading up to Palpatine’s death had given them plenty of clues about both men's romantic sentiments. The Republic press had been very curious about the identity of Obi-wan’s supposed loved one, but he had been tight-lipped, and the thought of a clone holding such an esteemed position never crossed their minds.
And now they found themselves in a nice, big lake house on Naboo, sharing the building with Anakin, Padmé, and the new twins. They planned to move into another house, one of their own, in the near future, but for now, being around familiar faces was good for Cody, and the new parents welcomed all the help they could get.
Obi was still working, of course, but only in a consulting capacity. He understood the structure of the Clone army and the needs of the clones better than anyone else - not even counting what he knew of them intimately - and while he wasn’t actively involved in the dissolving of the army or the naturalization and relocation of the clones, Cody knew the man would happier giving advice and counsel as opposed to not being involved at all. If Cody had been in better shape, he likely would have felt the same way.
He could hear the door to the terrace open, and the sound of footsteps approaching them.
“Well, don’t you two look comfy?”
Cody cracked an eye open and turned to look at Rex, who was smirking at him. Ahsoka walked alongside him, with a noticeably kinder smile on her face.
“I was,” Cody replied sleepily. “Then someone came by and ruined it. Hello, Ahsoka.”
“Hey Codes,” she said warmly. “Mas-” She stopped and cleared her throat. “Obi-wan.”
“At least you caught yourself,” Obi said, amused, as he put the datapad aside. “None of us are Jedi anymore, remember?”
“Something that has been hard to wrap my head around,” Ahsoka said, moving to sit on the other bench. Cody and Obi-wan shifted, and while Cody kept one arm wrapped around his partner, they were now more clearly sitting side by side. Rex remained standing.
“I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for you guys,” Ahsoka continued. “But I never imagined you leaving the Order. Although seeing you two like this does help.”
“Happy to be of service,” Cody said through a yawn.
“Geez Codes, you’re still this tired? Isn’t sleeping all you do these days?” Rex teased.
Cody gave him a withering look, before looking back at Ashoka and changing the subject.
“Heard you two have been having some fun, too.” Well, Obi had heard. And Cody had over heard him talking to Anakin about it. But that was basically the same thing.
“Oh, yeah, loads of fun,” Ahsoka said dryly. “We’ll tell you all about it sometime.”
“What brings you here today?” Obi asked.
“We came to see the kids,” Ahsoka said. “3PO let us in, and we just happened to find you two first.”
As if on cue, the door slid open again, and Anakin and Padmé emerged, each carrying a small bundle.
“Hey Snips,” Anakin greeted warmly. “Rex.” Rex nodded in reply. Ahsoka got up and walked over to Padmé, grinning down at the baby in her arms.
“There's the little illegal baby,” she gushed, reaching out a hand. “Do you know how many oaths your dad broke to have you? No you don’t! You’re just a baby!”
Obi-wan and Cody both laughed, and then grinned as the little girl reached out and caught one of Ahsoka’s fingers. The former padawan stopped talking, looking absolutely amazed.
“That’s your aunty Ahsoka,” Padmé told her daughter, as the baby gurgled happily.
“And this,” Anakin said to the boy in his arms, as he walked over to Rex. “Is your uncle Rex.”
Rex looked absolutely dumbfounded by this statement, even more so when Anakin held out the boy for him to hold. Rex accepted very carefully, looking down at the boy as though he’d never seen a baby before.
Had Cody ever seen a baby before these two? Questions for later.
“What about you two?” Ahsoka asked, looking over at them.
“We live here.” Cody pointed out.
“Yes, we were christened long before you two came along,” Obi-wan added.
They got up and walked over, forming a small ring with their friends. Cody was vaguely aware that C-3P0 and R2-D2 had emerged onto the terrace to check on them.
“This isn’t so bad, is it?” Cody asked softly, smiling around at everyone. He slipped his hand into Obi’s.
“Nope,” Ahsoka agreed. “Maybe I should move out here too.”
“Oh, that’d be wonderful!” Padmé exclaimed. Leia let out an excited noise, apparently in agreement.
“Yeah, we could always use more babysitters on hand,” Anakin said, grinning. “The closest thing we’ve gotten to a date night is when these two,” He indicated Obi-wan and Cody, “took the night shift so we could sleep until sunrise.”
“It’s been 3 weeks,” Obi admonished him. “Surely you have more fortitude than this.”
“I’m thinking about the future,” Anakin defended. “Aren’t I supposed to be doing more of that?”
“He’s always wimped out on his actual responsibilities.” Ahsoka pointed out. Padmé laughed, and Anakin looked deeply offended.
“I do not! Rex, back me up here.”
“With respect? No.”
They all laughed, even Anakin.
And as Cody looked around at his lover and their friends, he finally felt like an era of peace was truly beginning.