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The virulent wars

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Ahsoka sighed as she hovered outside one of the rooms in the Halls of Healing, wishing there was a window she could peek through. This particular room didn’t have one, as the Force would have it, which meant she would have to knock on the door for what she knew was the third time this morning to ask if she could see him. She stared at the intricate golden patterns on the door, which were already gleaming in the growing Coruscant light. The sunbeams washed over her through the domed windows of the Temple, suffusing the walls in a coral glow. If Master Plo were there, he would encourage her to soothe her worry and impatience by being mindful of her surroundings, designed as they were to reflect serenity, to utilise the Force to hone in on the interplay of light, stone and the meditative patterns on the pillars.

Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to be helping, and though she wasn’t proud of it, she was mainly willing the Force to put the Healers in a good mood so she could be allowed entry into the room. She can’t be the only Jedi who’s ever attempted to influence the Force in this way, she told herself firmly, given how grumpy a lot of the Jedi Masters actually were. Her own Master had admitted to her once that he’d always tried as a Padawan to influence Master Mace Windu in this way, him being the most severe Master on the Jedi Council after all, but to no avail.

He probably still tries, she thought to herself with a giggle, remembering the last time the two of them had stood before the Council to be reprimanded for the latest reckless mission change he'd made, or the latest council order he'd bypassed, and the odd, uncharacteristic display of unbridled harmony and deference he’d be radiating through the Force, even when she knew he was actually feeling annoyed or resentful.

Ahsoka felt a sudden pang. She knew that technically three days wasn’t a long time at all to be in the Healing wing, but she missed his exuberant presence already, and usually she would be allowed to visit him within a day, whatever his injuries were.

 Well, she thought, here goes. She drew in a deep breath and lifted her hand to knock, but the door had already slid open.

“Oh!” She stared up in embarrassment at the tall Pantoran Healer peering down at her.

“Padawan Tano.” Ava Tenlos’ tone was wry but kind. “You do realise I am able to sense your presence?”

Ahsoka shifted awkwardly and couldn’t quite disguise peeking a look into the corner of the room. She looked back at the Healer sheepishly.

“I apologise, Master Tenlos… but I was just on my way back...from uh, meditation... and I was just wondering if I could see Master Skywalker yet?”

“Meditation, you say.” The Jedi Healer lifted an eyebrow. “Padawan Tano, you know it is dishonourable for a Jedi to tell an untruth - I know perfectly well that a meditation session does not run for only fifteen minutes.’

“Fifteen, really? Wow. I could have sworn it was forty-five. I must have really got into a Force trance.”

“Master Tenlos, please let my Padawan in before she gets us both into trouble.”

Ahsoka’s heart leaped at the sound of Anakin’s voice. “Master, you’re awake,” she called out brightly.

Her face broke into a relieved smile. “About time,” she added.

Anakin laughed, his voice echoing across the room. “You’re the most impatient Jedi in the temple, Snips.”

Ahsoka raised an eyebrow in his direction, then promptly rolled her eyes. “No Master, that would be you,” she responded, grinning.

Anakin coughed, wincing at the pain in his chest. “Guess I’ve taught you well," he responded wryly. He laughed to himself but Ahsoka felt his wince through the Force. And then his shields were up again. She sighed and tried to suppress her worry. Anakin’s voice was faint, and his breathing slightly laboured, but it didn’t sound too bad. And Force knows, he’d gotten through worse.

Sure, he wasn’t healing as fast as he usually did, but they had been on a lot of intense back-to-back missions lately. He was probably suffering from exhaustion as well, though he would never admit to it. Still, she needed to check up on him. And life in the Temple was dull without her Master around, not that she would ever dare say that to anyone except for him, not even Master Kenobi.

Anakin had fallen silent. Ahsoka’s large crystal-blue eyes strained to see inside the room again but to no avail. She glanced pleadingly at the Jedi healer.

“Very well, Skywalker.” Tenlos sighed. “I will let your Padawan in. But only for a short while, young one. He needs his rest.” She stepped to the side and gestured for Ahsoka to enter.

Forgoing the morning’s lecture on serenity, Ahsoka raced into the room, nearly bumping into a med droid. The droid huffed at her and she paused, looking back sheepishly at the Jedi Healer, mouthing “Sorry Master Tenlos”.

She straightened and attempted to walk in a more restrained fashion, though, as Ava observed, she was no less impatient in her energy. The Healer shook her head, her violet bob rippling, and walked back to her station, smiling slightly. Masters and their Padawans, she thought to herself.

 

***

Ahsoka spied him propped up against some pillows in a bed against the far wall, a Bacta bandage wound tightly across his chest and an oxygen mask moved to the side of his face. He must have moved it to speak. He looked exhausted, with dark circles under his eyes and slightly wan features, but she could also feel that he was restless and annoyed about having to be confined. When she finally made it to his side, sidestepping the med droids even though, weirdly, there weren’t any other patients there, Anakin opened his eyes and gave her a tired smile.  “Good to see you, Snips.”

Ahsoka sat quickly in the chair next to him before Master Tenlos could change her mind. She smiled back at him. “You too, Master. I’ve been worried about you.”

She glanced at the monitor tracking his vital signs and then down at the drip connected to his arm. Anakin felt her concern across their Force bond and it warmed his battle-weary heart.

He gave her his best reassuring smile. “I’ll be okay Snips. Nothing I haven’t got through before.” No sooner had he said that then he coughed suddenly and his face twisted in pain. He lay his head back against the pillow and closed his eyes, as if just speaking took all of his energy.

“You don’t look okay, Master.” Ahsoka studied him carefully and then her eyes narrowed. “Is there something you’re not telling me? Seriously, I’m your Padawan, Skyguy - you can tell me the truth.” She thought for a moment and then leaned forward and whispered, “if you’re not telling me because you’re planning on busting out of here, I promise I won’t tell Master Kenobi.”

Anakin would have laughed out loud if he could. Ahsoka’s words were similar to something he’d once said to his own former Master back when he was a Padawan and wanting to help Obi-Wan escape from the grasp of the Healers, especially the strictest of all, Chief Healer Vokara Che, whose firm orders struck fear into Padawans and Masters alike. He just felt too ill to move, let alone laugh, annoying as it all was.  

Ahsoka was suddenly hovering over him, her Padawan braid dangling down as she looked him over with fresh concern, touching the sleeve of the beige infirmary robe he so disliked. The colour reminded him too much of the endless sands of his home planet, sand being the thing he seemed to despise most in the galaxy, as most Jedi in the temple had been informed by him at some point.

“Master? Do you need a glass of water?” She glanced over at his bedside table and was about to reach for the water jug when Anakin motioned for her to stay seated. He looked as if he were going to ask her something, but then closed his eyes and grimaced as his chest contracted again, sending a shooting pain through his side. Ahsoka looked at him in worry. He was struggling to breathe and she knew it.

Master, she implored him through their Force bond. Tell me what you need.

He sent her warmth in response, but his Force signature was hazy from the physical pain, flickering and diffused rather than vivid and concentrated, as it usually was. Sorry, Snips, he sent back, his presence faint. But I need you to… I need you to get Master Tenlos.

Another coughing fit overtook him then, followed by a wave of dizziness. Anakin's head sank deeper into the pillows and then he went still, his complexion suddenly grey. He was unconscious again. Ahsoka’s heart sank as she quickly pressed the emergency commlink button on the side of Anakin’s bed to call the Healer back. She felt suddenly terrible for being so demanding when he was clearly exhausted. She didn’t actually want to be known as the most impatient Jedi in the temple, even if they joked about it. She pressed the commlink again, watching Anakin’s vital signs flicker steadily on the monitor and trying to convince herself that it wasn’t abnormal that her Master was that exhausted just from coughing.

Master Tenlos is right about implying I need more time in meditation, she told herself, sighing as she tugged on the Padawan braid at the back of her lekku. Where was she, anyway? Ahsoka frowned and was about to call out when, thankfully, she sensed the healer's presence before she spied her. She waited to be reprimanded for wearing out her injured Master, as stern Master Che always did, but the Pantoran only placed a reassuring blue hand on her shoulder. With her other hand, the Jedi Master directed the Force to place Anakin’s oxygen mask back over his face.

“Come now, Padawan Tano. He needs his rest, and you need to complete your meditation, if only to alleviate your worry. You may come by again in the morning.” A small smile tugged at her violet lips. “Just remember that Master Che will be staffing these rooms tomorrow. She may not have my patience, young one.”

The teenager grimaced. “Understood, Master Tenlos," she intoned, suddenly deflated. Chief Jedi Healer Vokara Che was well-known for being unbelievably strict and brusque, especially with Jedi Padawans, and she hardly let anyone sit with her patients for longer than a few minutes at a time. Ahsoka sighed loudly as she left the healing wing and made her way to the turbolift.

She would just have to make a quick visit in the morning and then wait until another Healer was on to make her proper return, especially as she’d promised Anakin when he first went in that she’d bring his datapad. She chose to ignore the fact that he seemed unable to stay awake for longer than a few minutes, let alone concentrate on the holovideos of starfighter mechanics that he liked to watch when he was stuck in the infirmary. You're always dreaming of flight even when you're bedbound, Master, she thought, smiling to herself despite her worry.

***