Chapter Thirty One: Reflections

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Fives was so tired. He was tired of fighting, tired of being angry. Tired of being looked down upon because he was a clone. He was tired of Melia treating him like he was made of glass and Ahsoka not wanting to look at him. He just wanted to be back with his vode and everything to be like the way it was before. That would be so nice. He thought he would like that. He thought he would like to be free, but it was so much harder than he had ever thought it could be. Why had Slick wanted this? Why had Slick wanted to be crushed, it seemed, under a galaxy that didn't care?

The clone sighed and wandered the ship. He needed Melia, but she was tending to the defects. Drake had a new kitten. He wouldn't want to be bothered. Rex had Ahsoka and he just wanted to be with her. Fives understood. Clones loved deeply. They often had nothing more in this world beyond their love and their brothers. How many clones had he seen be destroyed by the GAR? How many times had he looked away when something bad was happening and there was nothing he could do to stop it?

Was this his punishment for just not caring enough?

He sat on a crate in the hold. Miss Viola, the orange cat that usually hated him, mewed and climbed up in his lap. Once, Fives would have cooed over the softness in her fur and the fact that she trusted him. But now? He couldn't bring himself to care. Caring hurt too much. Caring meant that he would allow others into his heart and those people could hurt him. What good was a soldier who could get hurt and who let himself be open to wounds? Weren't clones supposed to be perfect?

Fives didn't know what to do anymore. He was lost without orders, without a Jedi or a General at his head and telling him what to do. He missed the security of it. He missed knowing that he didn't have to make choices. He missed believing that the galaxy was just black and white, not the thousand shades of grey that he knew it to be. If there was something worth saving in defects like Slick and Dogma, what did that mean for the thousands of other clones on Kamino? Did that mean that those defects were innocent, too?

He didn't know anymore. The clone just didn't know and that was what scared him. He had to know--he had too! He couldn't stand not knowing and that just drove him mad when he was forced to get over it. Clones hated not knowing things, but most got over it. Fives had always been lucky in that respect. He had had generals who were kind to him, who slipped him bacta for his wounds and gave him better food than ration packs. The other clones had envied the 501st and the 212th for the love and respect their Jedi gave them.

It took the clone a minute before he got up. When he did, it was just to walk around the hold. He kept his eyes screwed shut, trying to ignore the tears that threatened to fall. It was like he could see Brakker again, hear his laugh. It was like he was fighting beside Spirit and Rain, watching as the two brave men gave it all for the GAR. It was like he was watching as Asher was shot in the head, watching as a screaming Cinders was dragged off and there was nothing he could do about it. It was like he was watching as poor Maji, oh poor Maji, the boy had hardly lived...was dragged off to Kamino.

"Fives! Vod!" The younger clone struggles against the guards. His helm is on the ground, tossed against the mud. Fresh blood spatters his body. He struggles against the guards, but there is nothing he can do.

Fives turns his head. There is nothing he can do. The guards are dragging a smaller clone away to certain death, taking him back to Kamino. Maji has taken an injury to his head. Kix said it was a concussion, that he needed rest, but the others sent him back into the field. Dogma said it was like leading a lamb to the slaughter. Fives can't watch as they drag the little clone away. To hear the fear in Maji's voice is to know pure, heart ripping anguish.

But what can Fives do? Like all the others, he's just a clone. And everyone knows that made men are powerless against the real thing.

"I'm sorry." Fives' voice was raw, hoarse as he pressed his face into the cool, metal racks. "I'm so, so sorry, Maji..." But what could he do? There was no good in weeping for the dead. Clones weren't even supposed to care. "Maji...." He paused, feeling the tears drip down his face. "Please, please forgive me for letting you down..."

But that little clone was dead and he had been for six years. Just like Brakker. Napster. Ashes. Spirit. Rain. Hardcase. Jesse. Tup. Kix. All of his brothers save the ones on this ship were best thought of as dead. If he thought that they were dead, Fives wouldn't hurt as much. He would maybe be able to get a little peace at night and not soak the pillow with his tears.

"Why?" Fives looked around the darkened hold. "Why?! Why did the Force let them do this to us?!" If the Force was so mysterious and all powerful, why did it let clones like him be beaten up? Why did it let Kamino cull clones and destroy others? Even sell some of them? He didn't know what to do and just shook his head as he walked. "Why didn't you help Fox and Kote? Didn't you know they were suffering?!" He all but screamed and kicked a bale of something. But after that he settled down and walked back to the ship's common area.

There was nothing left to him but to smile and pretend he was happy.

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