In the line of Duty
Written for the obiwhumpexchange, for @ellie1366 I hope you will enjoy reading this!!! This is so exciting :D
Big shoutout to @ewanmcgregorismyhomeboy12 for organizing this event, it's been a ton of fun!
Word count: 5700
Summary: Obi-Wan fails his check in, so Cody goes under cover to find him in the Separatist base. Little did he know they would both be caught. How far will they go to protect their mission?
Tags, Whump, Angst, Torture, Flogging, Electrocution, Physical Abuse, Emotional/Psychological Abuse, Difficult Decisions, Obi-Wan Kenobi Whump, CC-2224 | Cody Needs a Hug
Read on AO3 or below the cut
The spacious halls were lined with evenly placed and meticulously pruned potted bushes. In the distance Cody could see other people walking about and talking to each other. Some stopped to glance at the view, and glanced over him with disinterest.
Hiding in plain view was something that would never come easy to him, but the lack of armour and the casual clothes must have done their part, even if they left him feeling overexposed and vulnerable. At least he didn’t stick out like a sore thumb, even if his plain robes made some people scrunch their noses at him.
Cody walked along at a leisurely pace, determined not to seem out of place. That meant not going doe eyed at the luxurious place, not getting stuck admiring the details on the murals, not touching the leaves of the plants even if the textures looked real nice.
Obi-Wan had been undercover for a few days already. The first two check in’s went well, though he hadn’t found anything too important. They needed concrete answers and an order to attack, but the expected call never came. Hence Cody sneaking in undercover as well, with mission to extract him if needed.
From the walkway beneath the terrace, he caught the end of a conversation. The separatists were discussing the transports scheduled for today. They were delayed, as a blockade had erupted in the sector. They wouldn’t be able to supply their forces with new droids and heavy machinery until they could get passed it.
Most unfortunate, for them, Cody thought as a flash of excitement rushed through him.
This meant that his plan was working. He just needed to call Rex and find Obi-Wan so they could take advantage of the disruption, before the Separatists were fully equipped. Before they could mobilise and send out their forces to counterattack.
He slipped into an alcove and brought his commlink to life. The frequency he’s got on speed dial will send a notification to one of the outposts, with a different outpost for different answers. Rex and General Skywalker would keep an eye on them, as promised. It was time to attack. Now he just needed to find Obi-Wan and get them back to the main fleet.
They would get away with this.
A warm hand settled on his shoulder, turning him around and pushing him back against the wall. The back of his head smarted as it made contact with the surface, and Cody supressed a wince.
The man, flanked by two guards, pushed the hood off his head.
“A clone.” The man drawled, “How disappointing. Though I should have known the Jedi would brute force this, they’re too obtuse to send an actual assassin after us.”
Cody steeled himself for a fight, two guards and a civilian would be no match for him. With speed and certainty, he lunged forward, ducked low under the guard’s arm, and brought his elbow into their lower back. The other guard stepped in and ignited the electroprod, jabbing it forward in an easily sidestepped motion. Cody feinted to the right, and moved in quickly to disable his arm.
The guard twisted at the last moment and took a step back, leaving Cody slightly out of place and within range of the weapon again.
Behind him, the other guard stepped in with a low swoop, forcing him to jump.
To all of their irritation, the civilian stepped in with a knife and a poor stance, which Cody swatted out of his hand the moment he tried to stab him in the side. He twisted, barely escaping the jab of the electroprods.
The man took a step back, and the guards stepped into his place. Cody jumped to the side as the electroprod came after him in a crackling arc. He kicked the arm holding the prod, hoping they would drop it, or lose their hold long enough for Cody to make use of the weapon himself.
To his frustration, the guard backed away half a step, tightened their hold, and moved in to attack.
The other guard quickly stepped in behind Cody, and with a ruthlessness that would have taken most by surprise, they rushed forward with a yell.
Cody swirled to the side, hoping they’d collide with each other, but they quickly recovered from their momentary confusion. Now with the guards with their backs to the wall, and the civilian disarmed, Cody was free to attack.
In any other situation Cody would press his advantage, would do his best to take them out and wipe the floor with their ugly mugs. The fight would be dirty and fast, and he had no doubt he’d come out the victor. He was too well trained to lose to regular guards. He’d been up against Grievous himself, for Force’s sake. Victory was not his problem, time and exposure were.
Just as he contemplated what winning would get him, he considered running away and regrouping instead. Fighting would draw attention, and he was alone on enemy territory.
Blaster shots fired in the corridor outside the alcove, squadrons of B1 droids filling the halls. They were there for him. He was too late.
His split moment if inattention was all it took for the guards in front of him to attack. Cody cursed himself for his momentary lapse as the crackling device ripped a scream from his lungs. With his cheek pressed against the dirty ground, darkness fell, and he knew no more.
When he next woke, it was to the feeling of binders clasped around his arms, fastening him to a chair. He clenched his hands, testing his response time and strength. Tremors ran through his body, an aftershock of the electricity, more obvious when he tightened his grip. His nerves felt extra sensitive, as though white hot fire still ran through them.
The light burned in his eyes. He blinked to rid his eyes of the sensation, but it was only mildly successful.
He took a few seconds to reorient himself.
His captor was an older human, his receding hairline went far back on his head. Under bushy brows he had a steely glint in his eyes, and Cody had the feeling that this was far from the first time he’d been in charge of interrogations.
Cody cleared his throat and sat up straight in the chair, intent on resisting for as long as possible. It was fine. He was trained for this. Even so, how much crueller could one man be, when compared the trainers at Kamino?
The man’s foul breath wafted through the pungent air and Cody fought not to grimace.
“So you’re awake.” the man said, squinting his beady eyes. “Good, that’s good. Now who are you, little clone, and what were you doing sneaking around here, hmm?”
Cody resisted a flinch when the man’s cold and clammy hand connected with his cheek, a mere double tap, but it said all the things the man didn’t. That he was the one in control. That Cody was at his mercy. That he was small and the man was big and that the difference in power was immeasurable.
Under different circumstances he might have been impressed at the display, and filed the thought away for a time it would be more appropriate, if ever. It wouldn’t do to be distracted now, he needed to find out what his approach to interrogation was, and how to work around it if he had to.
“Ah, forgive my manners. My name is Derriv.” Then as an afterthought, he tacked on “And you are?”
Cody pressed his lips tight together, and glared right back at the man. Such tactics wouldn’t work on him, he wasn’t decanted yesterday, no matter what his batchmates said after some of his less than stellar moments.
He stayed silent, watchful, and determined.
“Not a talker then?” Derriv tutted, as though disappointed. He leaned back against the table and crossed his arms. “No matter, I can already imagine what you’d say. We’ve had a few clones through here before, didn’t get much useful information out of them before they, uh, met their ends, shall we say.”
He chuckled as if it was some kind of joke, as if Cody should be right there, agreeing and laughing along.
He was not amused.
“I like you,” he admitted. “You’re a bit different from the rest, aren’t you? For being exact copies you have an incredible variation. I wonder what your breaking point will be. Now we can do this the easy way, or the hard way. Either is fine with me, but I thought it prudent to ask your opinion.”
Cody felt a chill up his spine, and he stayed carefully and deliberately unaffected. This was mere intimidation, he hadn’t done anything yet.
He was trained for this.
“You don’t seem very concerned over your fate, though. How interesting. Makes me think there might be another reason you’re so calm.”
Derriv moved across the room, to behind where Cody was seated, and rolled a little cart over. There were a few standard torture instruments, and a few he hadn’t seen before.
With casual nonchalance, Derriv picked a small device to life. The electricity crackled at the tip, and he adjusted it from high to low, then back again. The electric hum made Cody’s nerves twitch in anticipation, his body was already sensitive from the previous assault.
“Let’s start easy, shall we? What’s your rank?”
For a moment Cody thought the man was stupid, it was clear to see his rank on his armour. But he wasn’t wearing any. Would it be better to lie about his rank? The man would probably wouldn’t be able to tell, but he didn’t want to give an inch.
He stayed silent, as he was trained to do. If he didn’t speak he couldn’t give anything away. Rex would bring General Skywalker in on the plan and help would be on the way in less than a couple of hours.
He could last. He would have to.
He was trained for this.
Derriv looked bored and slightly apologetic as he brought the device down on Cody’s leg and held it there. It was on the lower end of the scale but it still made him jolt when the white hot pain flared through him.
“You can make it stop whenever you want, it’s your choice. You can tell me your name, your rank, what you were doing here, anything to make it stop. You don’t have to be so brave, little soldier.” Derriv supplied kindly, as though torturing him was unfortunate, a minor evil in the context.
Cody did his best not to scream or bite his tongue as the sharp pain flashed though his body.
It reminded him starkly of Kamino, when the water heater broke once. He couldn’t have been more than three, but he had resisted the ice cold shower for so long that the handler took him by the arm and held him under the spray much longer than necessary. The cruelty of the action had stayed with him far longer than the cold shock of water, the powerlessness he felt as his cried fell on deaf ears. Maybe they thought he had deserved it for being difficult.
Your choice, he thought bitterly. What a joke.
“Just say when.” Deriv continued, and slowly increased the voltage on the scale. Every moment was intolerable, on a completely new level of pain, rising and rising and rising.
An involuntary scream, filled with rage and anguish and something very broken ripped through him, a raw desperate sound that brought glee to his captor’s face.
“That’s great. Try to use your words next time.” He coaxed him.
Sweating, shaking, and with black dots clouding his vision, the pain stopped abruptly.
It seemed he knew just when to stop before his victims passed out. Cody didn’t know if he should count himself lucky that he wasn’t an amateur, the risk of permanent injuries was smaller but on the other hand he was in for a great deal of pain.
A sharp slap on his face brought him back into the moment, vision clearing slightly. The collar of his shirt clung uncomfortably to his clammy neck, cold sweat creeping up his back as he shook from the pain.
With no delay, Derriv hit him lightly with the prod, over and over. Arms, legs, chest, anywhere he could make brief and ruthlessly quick contact, with little to no time to refocus between the shocks. The constant assault on his system made his head swim and body twitch in anguish.
In between prods, he’d ask Cody’s rank, which battalion he belonged to, what he was doing there, who his general was.
The sound of a door opening interrupted them, and Cody found time to take a few deep breaths.
A B1 battle droid walked through. It was holding a customary blaster in its hands, though it wasn’t aiming at anything. Not an attack then.
“Sir, the council needs an update on the interrogation.”
“It’ll take what time it takes.” Derriv replied sternly.
“I’m sorry sir, but there’s no time. We’re preparing for attack and the blockade is- uh- blockading us. The council needs an update.”
“If the council needs an update they can come down here and help out, I’ve got my hands full. You go tell them that, you overpriced messenger unit.”
The comms must be down, Cody realised. Or scrambled. Otherwise they wouldn’t send a droid with the message.
If the republic was preparing an attack it was going to go down soon, maybe it had already began. Rex must have worked fast if they were already in place, or perhaps Cody had been passed out for longer than he initially thought.
Something must have shown on his face, because Derriv tilted his head with satisfied look on his face. Cody could almost see the gears turning in his head and coming to an awful conclusion.
“Oh, you definitely know something. Let’s get you some company, hmm, see if that helps you talk. You clones like your Jedi, don’t you? It’s in your programming to protect them by any means, isn’t it? Let’s see how you do under pressure.”
The snide comment slid right off Cody’s mind, though he bristled at the implication that this wasn’t bad enough.
Instead he focused on to the other part of the sentence.
They must have him in custody.
Cody had wished that he wasn’t caught, that the delay in check in’s was purely due to complications with the comm units. It made sense though, that they were so quick in capturing Cody if they were already on lookout for members of the GAR.
The guards stationed outside the room were called in to transport him to another room.
Even if he had gotten a chance to swipe at them when they untied his restraints, he couldn’t so much as curl his shaking fingers. The shocks to his system had him rattled and weak, still twitching with every involuntary movement. With every jolt he felt a deep ache course through his body, sharp and deep and too much to process.
Cody was brought into a bigger room, a well outfitted torture chamber even if he’d ever seen one, and strung up between hanging chains. The cold metal cuffs dug into his wrists uncomfortably, and the vulnerability that came with having his sides exposed rubbed him wrong.
Across the room, in a matching position, Obi-Wan was likewise restrained.
The protest of the crank rang loud in the room as they raised his arms to an uncomfortable angle. His feet barely touched the floor, and he could already feel the strain his shoulder would take from this position.
They couldn’t be more than ten paces apart, but to Cody the distance felt immeasurable.
From what Cody could see through his ripped robes, his chest was littered with bleeding wounds, and a clunky force suppressing collar hung around his neck.
Worst though, was his eyes.
The blindfold hid them from view but the trickle of dried blood under them made him feel uneasy. It could just be a head wound. Head wounds always bled a lot, or so he had heard the medics complain about time to time. Still, he knew there was a time limit on how much a wound could heal before it was too late to fix with bacta, in case it was his eyes that were wounded.
“Welcome back, General Kenobi.”
“Back so soon?” Obi-Wan sighed, flopped his head to the side, and answered him sardonically. “Truly, I’d rather not overstay my welcome, I’m sure you’re all very busy, running your… operation.”
Only Obi-Wan could find the time to engage in word play in such a distressing situation. Cody hated how much it eased his mind to hear him speak that way. A pang of guilt shot through him, Obi-Wan shouldn’t have to be brave like this. Maybe he shouldn’t either, but that was a thought for later.
“It’s no trouble at all, General. We even got you some company. Maybe you can get him to talk, he’s been awfully silent.”
Obi-Wan’s forehead scrunched together as he tried to focus and listen. The force suppressor must have been a good brand though, because he gave up after mere moments. The tension fled his body as he rested the majority of his weight on his chafed wrists. Cody could only imagine how much his shoulders hurt from the position, his toes barely reached far down to support him.
“If the propaganda is to be believed, you can tell them apart, these clones. But maybe that’s just the force helping you out. Let’s play a game: if I make him scream, do you think you’ll be able to tell which one it is?”
“Don’t you dare touch my men-“ The threat in his voice made Cody jump. He always knew Obi-Wan could be protective, but to do so openly, and with no regard as to which trooper was there, it made his heart ache.
“Oh I dare.” Derriv’s feral grin lit up with glee. “It’s a shame you couldn’t see him screaming in pain, it was quite the show I’ll tell you. He’s very resilient. You should be proud of him, few clones would have lasted as long as he did.”
The curses that wrought from Obi-Wan would stay in his mind for a long time.
Derriv hummed to himself and stepped in close to Cody, and dug his fingers into the soft muscles at the base of his neck. Involuntarily, Cody tried to raise his shoulders and lower his neck to avoid the grip, but it was useless. He breathed in sharply, as though that would make the pain bearable.
“You’re a tough nut, trooper.” He said in a low voice, only meant for Cody’s ears. “Breaking you will take too much time, that much is obvious. Congratulations on that, but you’ve made a mistake already. It’s plain to see that you know and care for the Jedi. Let’s see how tough you are when it’s not your life on the line, hmm?”
He couldn’t mean….
Another rush of panic coursed through him as realisation hit. Cody would take too long to break, but Obi-Wan, who had already been captive for at least a standard rotation, was much closer to breaking than Cody would ever be.
Obi-Wan, whose suffering would hurt Cody more than it would have, had the torture been inflicted upon himself in equal measure. Nausea clawed its way up his throat at the mere thought, and blood rushed up his ears, pulse beating so fast he could almost hear it.
“Lashes or burns?” Derriv asked, holding up a red hot iron and a whip for show, as though it was a blasé decision and not a choice between torture instruments.
“Don’t touch him!” Obi-Wan shouted in protest. Behind the blindfold he had no idea what was going on, no idea which clone he was defending so gallantly. Cody wondered if he’d forgive him for not speaking up. It was against protocol, but he had a feeling Obi-Wan would feel better if he knew Cody was there. “I swear, when I get my hands on yo-“
Cody winced in sympathy as Derriv dug the hilt of the whip into Obi-Wan’s ribs, making him wheeze in pain. “Unless you have something useful to add you might as well stay silent. And I’m not going to hurt him, I’m going to hurt you. Idiot.”
He turned to address Cody again, a knowing grin settled in malicious glee on his face. He knew exactly what he had seen when he dropped the info that they had a Jedi in custody.
He knew that Cody cared more than any regular trooper, and he had unknowingly played right into his hands. It was too late to retract his reactions, all he could do was endure. They only had to outlast them, he reminded himself. Help was coming.
“Make a decision trooper, or I’ll make it worse. This way you can spare him the pain.” His eyes burned with something dark, more obvious than before, and Cody couldn’t help responding.
“Lashes.” He bit out his first words since he was captured, and he felt bitted regret settle on his tongue as he forced the words out of his mouth. It felt like a betrayal, both to Obi-Wan and the trust he placed in him.
Lashes were easier on the body, and easier to heal. Burns tended to need longer treatment and the dead tissue could become a problem. It was more pragmatic to go with lashes, especially since they wouldn’t be stuck there for much longer. Rex was on the way, Cody reminded himself. Whatever was done to them, they just had to outlast. It sounded so reasonable, but he couldn’t help but feel that it was lacking.
If only he could convey that to Obi-Wan.
“Lashes, my favourite.” Derriv said approvingly, and stuck the iron back into the embers. Probably to keep it ready for later. Cody didn’t like the look in his eyes, and reminded himself that Derriv was an interrogator, and an experienced one as well. “That’ll be your name from now on, since you won’t give me yours. Feel free to correct me whenever.”
Lashes, Cody thought, was the least creative name he’d been called by a nat-born. In context though, he might have preferred to just be referred to as his number.
“It’s a shame to ruin your clothes further, General, but Lashes has spoken.”
Cody could see him jolt in surprise as the knife made contact with his robes. He cut open the neck, then ripped the fabric apart with his bare hands. The robes hung loosely around his body, obscuring the wounds more now that the clothes
“You underestimate them.” Obi-Wan said with scorn, and spit on the floor. His aim was off, as was expected with the blindfold, but the meaning was clear.
“Trooper,” Obi-Wan addressed him, “Give them nothing. At least not on my account.”
“If anyone wants to start talking, this is your chance to stop this. I will ask you this every ten lashes.” Derriv’s voice took an authorative tone. He was done playing with them.
They were pressed for time, Cody thought. That’s why they moved him there to pressure them both at the same time. Even if they could break Cody, impossible, he thought, it would take time. Weeks and months they didn’t have. The GAR were on their way at that very moment and they needed answers as soon as possible.
They only needed to outlast them. Together they could do this. If only he could convey that to Obi-Wan, without alerting Derriv that they were planning something more than refusal to cooperate with the interrogation.
Without warning the crack of the whip rang through the room, followed by a sharp thwack as it struck Obi-Wan’s bare back. A sharp inhale of breath escaped him pain made his whole body flinch from the harsh hit.
Before he had time to brace himself, the second and third lash fell in quick succession. Cody saw him clench his fists, fight against the pain, but to no avail. There was no mercy to be found, and Cody was the one who subjected him to it.
Cody wanted to protest, wanted to scream and rage at the world, at Derriv, at himself.
“Still no answer?” Derriv cocked an eyebrow and looked straight at Cody.
Obi-Wan shook his head, and Cody felt his heart break. Still, they were in on this together. He wasn’t alone.
“No, sir.” Cody said, straightening his posture as well as he could in his position, always the good soldier, trained and engineered to perfection. He would not be the one to break.
The first strikes had been easy, Cody realised, as the second round began. The whip was raised higher, and brought it down in a devastating arc.
Drawn out agonized screams tore through the air. With pinpoint precision, Derriv hit the same wound over and over again, and Cody could only be glad the whip wasn’t the worst of the collection.
Cody closed his eyes, blinking as thought that would help against the vivid imagery, as though that would make anything better. When he opened them again his vision was blurry, and he wished it would stay that way.
Through a haze of tears for the man he loved, he bit his tongue and respected his wishes.
He couldn’t tone out Obi-Wans screams, couldn’t stop watching the morbid scene in front of him, every full body flinch of pain etched into his memory.
The timing between the lashes varied, as did the intensity. Cody could see him bracing against the pain, flinching at the sound of the whip, see his hands clenched and shaking in effort to not let the pain consume him. While before, he had been upset, and scared, and willing to put himself through whatever was needed, he found himself boiling with rage.
Always, the voice was taunting him with questions he could easily answer. And every time, he had to repress it and make do with what he had, for the safety of their battalion, and for the safety of the republic.
Not for the first time, he wondered when the Republic would give something back.
As the interrogation continued, Cody found himself drifting in and out, as though he was watching thorough someone else’s eyes, chest both aching and terrified, and disturbingly numb at the same time. His hands were shaking, but he had a feeling that had more to do with the electric shocks than his anger.
He could not tell how long they had been there when the door opened, could not tell how many lashes Obi-Wan had gotten, he’d lost count after thirty-seven.
The sounds of battle and dying B1 droids washed over him, all of it familiar and muddled. He saw Rex heading the group, twin blasters raised and ready to shoot as they moved in. Fresh scorch marks showed they’d met some resistance on the way, but they all seemed in good condition.
The elite squads moved in perfect formation, ruthlessly efficient in detaining Derriv and securing the room. The sounds of battle hadn’t reached so far down in the bowels of the building, which he was glad for. He’d have to give them a good evaluation later when he got a run down on what happened while he was away.
“Cody, General!” Rex shouted and ran up to them, torn between whom to release first. “Oh fuck, we need a medic.”
“Help him,” Cody slurred, finally able to speak freely. “He’s bleeding so much, please help him.”
“Hey, hey, I will. Let’s just get a medic here first, ok? We don’t want to make anything worse.”
“Cody?” Obi-Wan spoke up, voice hoarse from all the screaming. Confusion and hurt crossed his face before relief took over. “Cody,” he said again, softly this time.
“You don’t need to say anything, Cody. I know.”
Of course he did.
Knowing and accepting were two different things though.
“I’m sorry, General. I compromised the mission, it’s all my fault.” The least he could do was take responsibility for his actions.
“Oh is it now? As I recall I was captured long before you. I don’t see why you should be held accountable for my shortcomings.”
“Both of you stop it.” Rex interrupted them. “Can you at least wait to blame yourselves until after we get you down? Force, you’re both so frustrating, if anyone is to blame it’s the seppie scum. Obviously. You didn’t compromise the mission, no one has died thanks to your efforts, Cody, and both of your efforts in keeping it that way. So save it.”
He must have been really worried, Cody thought to himself.
They fell silent after that and let the medics move them down and onto the gurneys. Obi-Wan’s eyes were uncovered, and from what Cody could hear his vision wasn’t hurt, merely sensitive after being in the dark for so long. Thank force for small mercies.
The journey back to the ship was a rude awakening for Cody, who insisted that he could walk by himself. They must have gotten fed up, because they let him try it for about half a second, catching him as he legs folded under him. Apparently it wasn’t just the shock of the situation settling in, he was having some pretty concerning after affects from the electrocution. That made sense now that he thought about it. Then again, he wasn’t a medic.
From the other side of the room he could hear Obi-Wan protesting the medic’s decision to put him in a bacta tank, insisting that patches would do just fine even if they took longer to heal, and that he needed to be awake and available in case anything happened. Any other day Cody might have given the medic a helping hand, but he was just glad to hear that he was back on his bullshit.
Cody also had a feeling that he wanted to be kept near himself, who was under observation for nerve damage, burns, and in case he happened to have a heart attack. He had tried to get out of the ward himself, but got a bulleted list shoved in his face with symptoms and consequences. It was hard to argue with cold hard facts, and he had a feeling he’d be stuck in the med bay far longer than he had the patience for.
After much fussing the medic had carted him over so he was right next to Obi-Wan, much to both of their delight. It helped to have him where he could see him.
Then they were alone.
Cody didn’t want the silence that hung between them to be uncomfortable, but he wasn’t sure where to begin.
Luckily he didn’t have to, Obi-Wan did it for him.
“I’m sorry.” He said, lying on his stomach with his head resting on his arm. The bacta patches covered his back entirely, and his face was purple with bruises. “You shouldn’t have had to go through that.”
Cody tried to find his words but came up short. He swallowed deeply, and tried to string together one coherent thought to express it all.
“You did what you had to do, Cody.” Obi-Wan continued, but not unkindly. “As did I, for the sake of the mission. Today’s victory is our making, even if we weren’t present for the battle.”
“You were hurt.” Cody’s clipped words shot through the room. It came out harsher than he meant to, but he feared what he’d unleash if he let go fully.
“I was.” He acknowledged, and a deep pain lingered in his eyes. “But so were you.”
“Minor injuries.” Cody shot back dismissively. “What he did to you… I don’t, it’s-“
“Not your fault.”
“I told him to.” The admission lodged itself in his throat as grief and guilt overwhelmed him. Speaking it out loud made it feel too real. There was nowhere to hide anymore.
“Not your fault.” Obi-Wan repeated once again, and the statement made something ugly clench in his chest.
“You held up admirably under duress, Cody, and you did your duty. And besides, I’m the one who got caught first.” Obi-Wan tried to make a joke of the last part, but it fell flat.
His attitude made Cody blisteringly angry. “Why are you the one comforting me, you’re the one who got hurt. You’re not trained for this. You didn’t deserve to- .”
“Oh Cody,” Obi-Wan said softly, halting him before he broke out in a rant.
Cody closed his eyes and drew a shaky breath, knowing that the next words would hurt him deeply.
“Neither did you.”
And there it was, the tender tone that could shatter his heart in a million pieces.
It wasn’t just about the torture they had gone through.
Ever since he and Obi-Wan had begun crossing the lines of propriety Cody had gotten a hint of the difference between them. It wasn’t just about rank, it was their very existence in relation to each other.
He knew Obi-Wan didn’t know fully what the clones go through at training, and he probably never will. Cody won’t be the one to tell him, but every time he slips up the tension is tangible. Every time he realises that his experiences are not universal, though he knew thousands of brothers who had gone through the same thing or worse.
While he loved Obi-Wan, deeply and thoroughly, a part of him wondered if it was worth the pain of knowing how deep the injustices had scarred him. It felt cruel, almost, to let him find out what he didn’t have. He could have died happy knowing he had done his duty.
Without acknowledging the enormity of the rift between them, Cody reached out and grabbed his hand. It would have to do for now, he thought as their shaky fingers slotted together.
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For @bisect-u-maul for the obiwhump exchange.
warnings- violence, off-screen character death, torture
Light. Beautiful, wonderful light, for the first time in… well, he doesn’t know how long. The days bleed into each other with no sun or even a consistent food delivery to differentiate the hours from each other. He had tried, once, to count the minutes and hours, when exercise and meditation could no longer overcome the mind numbing boredom, but he dozed off somewhere between the moments, the count interrupted by minutes or hours or even days of sleep, he can’t say which.
“I have a special treat for you today,” Palpatine says as he wraps warm, living hands around Obi-Wan’s arms. He flinches away, but it feels so good, so nice to be held, to be touched by something other than his chains and the droids that came to torture him.
He doesn’t bother with his usual snarky response. It never made any difference. If anything, Palpatine enjoyed it a little too much, knowing that he had finally reduced Obi-Wan to nothing but empty words.
“You’ll like this one,” Palpatine says. His thumb strokes Obi-Wan’s cheek, wiping away the dirt and dried tear tracks. Obi-Wan tries not to lean into the gentle touch. This is Palpatine, not Cody or Anakin or even Qui-Gon. Only pain will follow. But he fails, his eyelids drooping as his body instinctively relaxes. “I promise.”
Obi-Wan squints at the blurry white shapes in the doorway. It’s probably some new torture droid, though Palpatine hadn’t presented the last one with such excitement.
“General?” someone says.
Obi-Wan’s head snaps up, no longer feeling weighed down by the heavy collar and chains he has worn ever since Palpatine brought him here. He knows that voice. Even when surrounded by thousands of identical voices, he could always pick out this one over the din, could call out to it and hear it call back without hesitation.
“Cody?” Obi-Wan says. Finally, his eyes adjust to make out the shapes of clones in the doorway, all of them fully armored. Cody stands in their midst, his helmet fixed on Obi-Wan.
Even through the dampers, he can sense Cody’s shock. It’s been three months since Palpatine snatched him off the battlefield and two months since Palpatine gleefully informed him that Obi-Wan was officially declared dead. A body, tortured almost beyond recognition, had been found in a Separatist base, planted by Palpatine to cover for the information he had leaked to the Separatists. No one double checked the DNA tests run by Palpatine’s intelligence agents. He’s the Chancellor, their leader. What reason would he have for lying to them?
“How?” Cody says. He takes a stumbling step forward as he rips off his helmet. “They said you were dead."
“He is a traitor, Commander Cody,” Palpatine says. “You know what must be done.”
Cody freezes. His helmet slips from lax fingers.
“Cody?” Obi-Wan says. Cody stands still a moment longer, his eyes trailing over to Palpatine, then Obi-Wan’s chains. It’s the same look he gets when he’s staring at the hologram of the upcoming battle and analyzing every divot in the terrain, every pass that will lead them behind enemy lines or leave them vulnerable to the same. To him, it is all an elaborate chess game, moves and countermoves all designed in anticipation of the other. Cody is one of the best players out there. If anyone could outsmart Palpatine, it would be him.
“Obi-Wan,” Cody says, voice soft as his hands replace Palpatine’s. He brushes Obi-Wan’s hair away from his face and lets his fingers trail downward, ghosting over the nape of his neck as they had done a dozen times before in the moments after the last shot was fired and they could simply breathe. It has always been a promise to stand with each other, even as they count the dead they failed to save.
He lets out a soft whine when the grip tightens, far tighter than it had been even when their relief was so strong they ended up bashing their foreheads together in a desperate attempt to reassure themselves that the other was still alive.
The grip gets tighter still.
His next breath is a choked wheeze. He tries to get Cody’s attention, his chains rattling as he finds himself at their limit, unable to reach out to his commander. Obi-Wan meets Cody’s gaze and tries to convey the pain he’s feeling. He finds only a cold, calculating glare.
His heart pounds in his ears. He tries to pull away, but already, dots have started to infest his vision. His legs jerk frantically, unable to find any purchase on the smooth floor. Cody never acted without considering the alternatives, without cutting off every possible escape. All this time, it was Obi-Wan Cody had been playing chess against. And he knows all of Obi-Wan’s moves.
His vision tunnels, narrowing down to only a hazy speck of light. Has this always been Cody’s intention? Or could Cody simply be taking from Obi-Wan all that he is owed for their years of war together?
“Enough,” Palpatine says.
Air floods into his lungs. He topples back onto the floor as he coughs and wheezes, dots dancing across his vision. Obi-Wan twists onto his side, his breath ragged and tears trickling down his face, to find Palpatine smiling down at him, Cody standing just over his shoulder.
“I’d say that was a successful demonstration, wouldn’t you?” Palpatine says.
Obi-Wan’s words dissolve into another fit of agonizing coughs. He wants to know why. Or perhaps he already knows why. The Jedi led the clones into battle, not always successfully. They joined in enslaving the clones, even if it was the only way to keep them out of the hands of a Senate that saw them as nothing more than meat droids, the only way to protect trillions from being slaughtered, but they still ordered them into battle.
They still led them to their deaths.
“Every clone has been waiting for this moment since the war began,” Palpatine says. “And you’re only the first.”
“No,” Obi-Wan rasps. His coughs again. “Please, no.”
“Your people will be slaughtered down to the smallest infant,” Palpatine says. “The Republic will fall. And I will build the greatest empire this galaxy has ever seen.”
That can’t be true, the Jedi would have sensed it. But they never sensed Palpatine either, never saw him slipping through the shadows and slowly tearing the supports out from under them. The darkness has been closing in for years, a haze not even Yoda could see through. Even then, they still couldn’t have slipped past their guard, not with a secret as monstrous as this in their heads, all of them waiting for the moment to strike.
“Cody, please,” Obi-Wan says. Palpatine must be involved somehow. The clones have reason to hate the Jedi, perhaps even enough hate to kill their generals, but not the children, not the padawans who only ever wanted to help, not lead men into battle. “They’re younglings. They never—”
“All Jedi are traitors. And they will be executed accordingly,” Cody says. His eyes look past Obi-Wan, seemingly disinterested now that the order has been revoked. He’s simply a soldier, obeying his superior’s commands, without thought, without any emotion but the satisfaction of a job well done. Obi-wan is just another target, hardly worth a second thought. The Jedi will sense no malice, no intent but the desire to follow orders.
“Excellent,” Palpatine says, nearly vibrating with glee as he pats Cody’s cheek. “You’re absolutely perfect. Now why don’t you find that Togruta girl Kenobi is so found of? I’m sure you’ll figure out something suitably… gory. Be sure to send the footage to me.”
He sees her then as Palpatine sees her, eyes gouged out and shattered limbs twisted into knocks. She was just a tool, useful for all that she irritated him, grating his nerves every time she opened her insubordinate mouth. He has been waiting for so long to finally dispose of her. But only ever for the pain it would cause the other Jedi.
No, not the other Jedi. Anakin. Why would—
“Yes, my lord,” Cody says.
Obi-Wan shoves himself off the floor. Not Ahsoka. He can’t let Cody hurt her.
“No, Cody, listen to me—” Obi-Wan’s voice cracks when Palpatine stomps on his back, shoving him flat against the floor. He doesn’t have the strength to get up again, to even reach out to Cody as he turns away and gestures for the guards to join him in the coming slaughter. And it will be a slaughter. The Jedi have let them into their Temple, into the one place they were supposed to be safe from the galaxy and the cruelty it so often inflicted on the Force sensitive. They left their children alone but for a few masters, all the other knights scattered across the galaxy, because they trusted the clones. And because they loved them.
“He never cared for you,” Palpatine says.
“Please,” Obi-Wan says. Please don’t, please spare them, spare Ahsoka, please tell him this isn’t real, tell him it’s just Cody, not every single clone that has turned against the Jedi. It doesn’t matter that he can no longer speak through the sobs. Palpatine has already sensed his every thought. There is no escape, no chance of warning anyone.
It is already over.
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