If it hadn’t been for the humor he’d been treating everything with, Echo is certain there would’ve been more focus on him than there already was. Of course he went through Kix’s fussing and setting up a regime to get him looking like he should (or at least the parts of him that stood a chance of going back to normal) but otherwise he’d been left alone.
He knew it from the pit in his stomach from when Rex pulled him out of the stasis chamber and it grew and grew until it wasn’t possible to ignore anymore. How sometimes Rex failed to look him in the eye and the lack of news was more damning than anything someone else could say.
Because if Fives wasn’t here now, he’d never be here again.
His other half, his heart and soul.
Fives was gone.
Fives would’ve never missed the possibility of Echo still being alive after so long.
Fives died before Echo could find him again.
Fives died because Echo made a stupid awful mistake he should’ve known better than to have made at the Citadel and left him alone.
Fives died because Echo left him.
Fives died because Echo wasn’t there to watch his left.
Fives died thinking he was the last domino left standing in a row.
Fives is dead and Echo has to live and it isn’t fair.
They were made together, and they were never meant to be apart and now they’ll be apart until Echo dies and he can’t let himself die in good conscience because he’d never be able to look at him in the eyes as they march on so Echo has to fight to keep living and just hope… Just hope that in trying to undo all the damage he’s caused by being captured he can die an honorable death and go back to his soul. Because walking around with a hole gouged out of his chest is going to kill him somehow and he’s got barely any of his aliit left alive. Showing up to see that from the 501st the only people he recognized as his vode outside of their blue were Rex, Kix, Jesse and Skywalker.
Even Ahsoka was gone.
So much for being an ARC when he couldn’t even keep himself alive long enough to keep his aliit safe and now they’re all dead or gone.
He appreciates the Bad Batch’s offer to let him join them but even the broken remnants of what once was is better than strangers.
He walks the halls of the Resolute, walks the passageways of mobile military camps and feels a heaviness that wasn’t there before despite how horrible the war had gotten and wonders what horrors they faced when he wasn’t there to help. There is a ghost pressing heavy over all of these brothers, those he knew and those he does not, different from his own ghost but familiar all the same. He wonders if he’d had made a better decision, if the ghosts on all these vode’s faces would be less heavy than they are and why no one will acknowledge the flinch some of them fail to suppress when Skywalker gets angry or at the flash-quick sound of a lightsaber coming to life. He knows it isn’t directed at their general, for the men still fall in line easy and the way Rex looks at him is still the same look that tells him that man is aliit but there’s a new hurt and they are all ignoring the mythosaur in the room, the ticking time bomb of a hurt too deep to do anything but scar even if it were to heal.
He looks at his aliit and sees all the broken edges, places where loss failed to heal correctly and knows that his brothers see his own though they don’t know how deep they lie. Rex, Kix, Jesse and Skywalker are what’s left of his aliit and they’re too busy to spend all their time with him, they’re all 501st command, no matter how much Jesse may chafe under being assigned as someone with responsibilities. They all do their duty to keep the 501st safe. Echo isn’t going to distract them of that because he’s become even more obviously defective than he was before.
No one else needs to know that he spends hours lying on his stomach, because lying on his back gives him horrible flashbacks of being tied to torture and experimental tables, cold hard durasteel slabs easy to wash off the blood if they ever so decided to. Hours awake because for as long as he could remember he’d never have slept alone, even on Kamino him and Fives had found ways to sleep in the same tube, because being apart from someone who completed you so totally was an ache they wished to avoid. An ever present ache which had turned into a shattered feeling in his chest, something that was once tied down by a breath and heartbeat synchronized with his own that had been torn out sometime after the Citadel. That even if he slept he woke up gasping and in tears a mix of his losses and what he’d gone through first under Admiral Trench’s sadistic chittering, then under Wat Tambor’s ever curious hands compounding into terrors he couldn’t even articulate once he returned to consciousness.
If his aliit knew how much hurt he held that only ever seemed to wane in their presences. Where he has constant reminders that he isn’t completely alone anymore, they guilt that they might hold while simply accomplishing their duties wasn’t worth it. They didn’t deserve more guilt over how broken he was, he’d always been defective anyways.
He’d always known it, Domino spent all of their time on Kamino being told they were a bad batch and had still pushed through. They could do it when they worked together until they couldn’t anymore. Until their hard work had been smashed to pieces on Rishi, by assassin droids. By giant fucking eels. By Echo’s own handiwork if he had only been better with preparing the detonators. He lost three batchers in a single day, but him and Fives, always closest to each other than the rest had held on together. Pushed through together and delicately tried replacing the broken edges of their hearts back into place through their trust and knew that no matter what they’d always be together. That maybe if they weren’t Domino anymore they could be Fives and Echo.
Fives and Echo.
Fives and Echo… until it wasn’t anymore.
It was Fives and Echo joining the 501st.
It was Fives and Echo being promoted to ARCs.
It was Fives and Echo going through the worst three months of their lives to actually become ARCs.
It was Fives and Echo alone in the wilderness of an unknown planet collecting information to bring back to the GAR or Fives and Echo assigned to assist a battalion as additional shock troops.
It was Fives and Echo until it was the Citadel and Echo focused too heavily on the transport and failed to listen to the one person who he could trust above all.
It was Fives, alone and unaware that he was still alive, unaware to have hope, unaware he could come home.
It was Fives, dying without Echo at his side, a death no one would even share the details of.
And now it was Echo.
It was Echo truly alone.
They had been five dominos all standing in a row and as Echo fell to the floor of his room, he sobbed and wondered why he had to be the last one left.