Trust Me (alternate end to “The Jedi Who Knew Too Much”)
“Commander, wait! Please.”
Ahsoka turned, panic and bewilderment evident in every tense move. She relaxed a fraction as she recognized the familiar voice.
“Rex.” The relief in her eyes was short-lived. As he advanced closer, Ahsoka held up a hand in protest. Rex snapped to a halt. “I—I won’t go with you. You know I can’t.”
Unlike the other troops scouring the sewer system for the “rogue Jedi,” Rex kept his blasters holstered. He refused to raise a weapon against his commander and friend. He knew Ahsoka Tano far too well to suspect her of crimes she was incapable of committing.
Rex noted her close proximity to the edge of the tunnel. He didn’t need the analytics and numbers flashing across his HUD to inform him she was dangerously close to the edge. Just one wrong step and…
He had to coax her away from doing something impulsive.
“Commander, I know you. Perhaps better than anyone else. I know you would never do something like this.”
Ahsoka slumped, gradually letting down her defense. His words were so honest, so raw. For a moment, she all but forgot her desperate situation, one that she had very little time to explain. But Rex’s unwavering trust reminded her she did not need to. Ahsoka lowered her hand and turned from him, hiding the regret in her blood-shot eyes.
Rex resisted the urge to drop all diplomacy and pull her away from the precipice and back to safety. He eased closer.
“Let me help you.”
“No, Rex. You can’t. Not this time.”
Ahsoka leaned up against the tunnel wall as she considered what to do next. Lightning splintered the boiling skyline over Coruscant. Through the rainy haze, she caught a glimpse of the traffic leading down into the bottomless abyss of the Underworld.
Footsteps and distant shouts echoed through the maze of sewer tunnels. Through the muffled intercom of his helmet, Rex heard General Skywalker frantically bark orders to the others in the search party. Suddenly Rex’s comlink flashed, and Anakin’s voice came through sharp and frustrated.
“Rex! Have you found anything yet? Any sign of her?”
Ahsoka glanced warily from Rex to the comlink and back again. But he ignored it. Instead, the captain slipped off his helmet and let it fall into the shallow stream at his feet.
“Ahsoka.” His voice was gentle, almost meek, as he dropped formalities and used her real name. “Come with me. We can work this out together.” He extended a hand to her, his plea silent but understood. Ahsoka blinked away tears. She wanted so badly to accept the help he offered. But she refused to get Rex involved in all of this, and risk his life in the process.
“This is over your head, Rex. It’s over mine too. There’s something going on here that I must get to the bottom of if I’m going to clear my name. No one else can do it for me.”
“But—” His tone became desperate as he stepped closer.
“Trust me, Rex.”
Rex halted and let his hand fall to his side.
“You know I do.”
He knew, deep down, that there was nothing he could say to change her mind. And, if he was completely honest, there was slim chance of her being proven innocent if she went back now. The evidence against her was stacked too high.
“Rex! Where are you?”
Anakin was drawing even closer now. But Rex would not take his eyes off his commander.
“Ahsoka, there must be another way.”
She shook her head and forced a weary smile.
“I’ll come back, I promise. And Rex—” Her look of reassurance faded into regret. “Take care of—”
She was interrupted as Anakin turned the last corner of the tunnel and spotted them.
In one swift motion, little more than a blur, Ahsoka leapt out of view.
Anakin skidded to a stop beside Rex, and they watched helplessly as Ahsoka free-fell through the haze. Her figure was faint now, as she gained momentum and landed easily on the nearest supply ship. Ahsoka shielded her face against the rain as she gazed up at what seemed to be her last true friends left in the galaxy. Then the flashing lights and shadows of the Underworld shrouded her from view. She was gone.
For a split second, Rex wondered if Anakin might jump after her. But he didn’t. Instead, he turned to the captain, his expression mournful and hurt.
“What did she say?” he asked.
Rex faltered. There had been so much to process, and his thoughts seemed one step behind.
“She said that she had to figure this out for herself. That she would come back.”
Anakin’s expression was vacant as he seemed to stare straight through the clone. It was evident he was unsatisfied with the answer. He sighed, then clicked on his comlink and ordered the troops to re-direct their search to the lower levels of Coruscant.
Commander Fox soon joined them as they wound their way through the water ducts and back to the planet surface. Rex hardly paid attention as the general briefed them on the search plans. He shook the water from his helmet and slipped it back into place.
Ahsoka’s final words bounced around inside his mind. Though she had not finished her last sentence, he knew what she was going to say.
Rex, take care of Anakin.
I will, he promised. Though only silence met him, he felt certain that Ahsoka had somehow heard. I’ll watch after him, kid. Until you come back.
And he hoped—he knew— she would.