The beep of a comm going off pulled Anakin from his light doze. He blinked up at Padmé and chirped.
“It’s Ahsoka. Do you want me to answer it?” she asked.
Anakin sighed and nodded. Apparently a few hours of rest was all he was going to get.
A small blue Ahsoka sprung to life above Padmé’s comm once she answered.
“Good afternoon, Senator Amidala. Have you seen Master Skywalker anywhere?” Ahsoka asked.
“Do you have a message for him?” Padmé asked, blatantly avoiding the question.
Ahsoka sighed. “Master Kenobi has been looking for him. I believe the Council has a few more questions for him regarding the Temple that turned him into a kitten.”
Anakin pulled his paws over his ears; he didn’t want to talk to the Council right now, or ever.
“I’ll let him know when I see him next. Thank you for the call,” Padmé said.
Ahsoka nodded and hung up.
Anakin let himself have one more moment to enjoy sitting in Padmé’s lap before he jumped down to the floor and changed back.
“Thanks,” he said, bending and pressing a kiss to Padmé’s forehead. “For listening and letting me stay.”
“Of course, Ani.” She stood and hugged him, tucking her head under his chin. “Be careful when you talk to Obi-Wan, though.”
“What do you mean?” he asked, pulling back to look at her.
“Just that Obi-Wan isn’t me. He might not react as well as I did when you tell him about how you feel,” Padmé said.
Anakin frowned. Padmé was right - of course she was - but he didn’t feel comfortable lying to Obi-Wan. “Doesn’t he deserve to know, though?”
“You told me that Jedi weren’t allowed to fall in love, to be in relationships. Obi-Wan’s been a Jedi his whole life. Maybe it would be a better idea to figure out how he feels before you say anything,” she suggested.
Anakin sighed. “Maybe. I’d better go see what the Council wants. Thanks for listening. I love you.”
“I love you too,” Padmé said. She leaned in to steal one last kiss. “Now get going.”
Obi-Wan was waiting for him when Anakin got back to the Temple, both of their travel bags in hand.
“What’s with the bags? I thought the Council wanted to know more about the temple on Asinonyk,” Anakin said, prompting Obi-Wan to explain the bags.
“Actually, the Council already came to a decision about that,” Obi-Wan said, directing Anakin to a small transport of a model that he was unfamiliar with, only big enough to fit a few people. “You and Ahsoka, as the only two Jedi familiar with the planet, will be escorting me as I do as much research as possible.”
“Ah,” Anakin said as he tried to suppress a flare of panic. Obi-Wan was good at research, and he would inevitably discover the secret to how Anakin managed to become human again if he saw enough of the temple to puzzle out an explanation. After all, he already knew that it was created by a faction who split from the Order over attachments.
“Our main focus should be on figuring out how they managed to turn people into kittens by touching a statue, as transforming something using the Force is well outside of our current abilities. We need to learn about it and also keep the Sith from discovering it,” Obi-Wan explained as he led the way into the transport.
Ahsoka was waiting for them in the co-pilot’s seat, going through the pre-flight procedures on the navcomputer. Anakin slid into the pilot’s seat while Obi-Wan put their bags away.
“Did you plot out the route yet?” Anakin asked.
“Everything’s set and ready to go when you are, Skyguy,” Ahsoka said.
All too soon, they were in hyperspace, heading to Asinonyk. Anakin could tell that Obi-Wan had questions, but thankfully he held off on them until they reached the planet.
There was a noticeable difference in how the living Force on Asinonyk felt to him now. On his first visit, it had been an anticipatory, watchful thing, waiting for him to trip up, to make a mistake. Now, though, he’d already made the mistake. He’d touched the statuette, become a cat, and figured out what he needed to know. And so the currents of the Force welcomed him back, amused at his temerity in returning to a place that had been anything but friendly.
Obi-Wan and Ahsoka clearly noticed something was happening with the Force, but they refrained from mentioning it while Anakin brought them in to land in the same clearing as last time.
“Do you remember the best way to the temple?” Obi-Wan asked once they were all out of the ship, gazing at the looming jungle.
Anakin shrugged. “I just trusted in the Force, and it didn’t lead me wrong.”
“It did turn you into a kitten, though,” Ahsoka pointed out.
Anakin smirked. “You say that like there’s a downside. I’m more adorable than ever now, and I can grow claws.”
“And you’re easily stepped on,” Ahsoka argued. “I mean, it’s fun to throw you around, Skyguy, but I don’t know if I’d want to risk it.”
“Anyone who steps on me is in for a hell of a surprise,” Anakin said. “It’s a great way to be inconspicuous, too. Who looks at a kitten and thinks ‘Ah, yes, that is obviously a highly skilled Jedi on a mission’? Nobody, that’s who.”
Ahsoka tilted her head to the side, considering. “Hmm, that’s a good point. Do you think I’d turn into a kitten? Or maybe I’d be something from Shili.”
“Padmé had some ideas on that, actually,” Anakin admitted, scratching the back of his head. “She thinks that kitten is just the default setting because the transition from adult to infant is enough for adults to handle, but a transition from infant to adult would be really bad for any kids or babies who touched the statue.”
“Maybe the Jedi who used to live here exposed their younglings to it so that everyone could be a cat whenever they felt like it, and they just never changed the setting back,” Ahsoka suggested. She then paused and looked around the clearing. “Hey, did Master Obi-Wan already head out without us?”
Anakin froze, then whipped his head around the clearing, searching for Obi-Wan. It was futile, though; he could feel Obi-Wan’s Force signature deeper in the jungle.
Ahsoka grimaced. “Let’s just hope he’s still human when we find him.”
This trip through the tangle of the underbrush went much quicker than his first journey, as if the Force wanted him to reach his destination as soon as possible. It wasn’t soon enough, though.
A tiny orange ear was all that was visible of Obi-Wan underneath his pile of clothes next to the statuette that had started everything.
Anakin cursed under his breath. He would have to explain quite a to Obi-Wan, and it might get him expelled from the Order if Obi-Wan was feeling particularly angry. Strangely, he didn’t feel fearful about the prospect as he had three years ago on Geonosis, but it still wasn’t ideal.
A low, rumbling hiss and a vicious glare was his only thanks when Anakin pulled Obi-Wan out of the clothes and held him against his chest.
“And people call you the reckless one,” Ahsoka said, shaking her head with a snort. “You should probably turn him back now.”
“Alright. Are you sure you don’t want to give being a kitten a go? Now’s probably your only chance. Once I explain things to Obi-Wan he’s not going to want that statue anywhere near other Jedi.”
Ahsoka had a strange look on her face when she glanced at him. “Are you sure you’ll be able to change me back?”
He had brought her back from the dead once. Kissing her on the forehead would be no big deal. “Of course, Snips.”
She sucked in a deep breath and slowly let it out before she nodded. “Alright. Here I go.”
The change was much more underwhelming from the outside - it happened in an instant, one moment a teenage Togruta was touching the cat statuette and the next a gray and white kitten was squirming out of her clothes.
“I’ll explain later, but first you should close your eyes,” Anakin told Obi-Wan in an undertone. Once Obi-Wan had done so, Anakin leaned down, closed his own eyes, and kissed Ahsoka on the forehead. “Let us know when we can look.”
A few moments later, Ahsoka said “I’m decent,” and they opened their eyes.
Obi-Wan tilted his head to the side in order to give Anakin an inquisitive stare once he had verified that Ahsoka wasn’t a kitten any longer, prompting him to begin the explanation. Anakin wavered for a moment, wondering if he should turn Obi-Wan back before he told him anything, but in the end he decided against it. It was much harder to be intimidated by a kitten-shaped person than a person-shaped person.
Still, it was hard to figure out where to begin. This was just like with the talk with Barriss, except the potential consequences would be much greater if he screwed up. How could he get Obi-Wan to see his side of the story? Where would he even start? With his marriage to Padmé, with the day he brought Ahsoka back to life, with some of the many problems he had seen in the Jedi Order? Should he mention that his love for Obi-Wan was romantic, or should he just be vague about it?
No, he knew where he should start.
“As we were leaving the planet after I touched the statuette, I had a vision. I think it was from the temple, like some sort of guardian spirit. Anyways, it told me this really bad riddle…”