Starting Over, a Codywan fic
A little post War AU Codywan, inspired by the little pieces I wrote as part of the kiss prompts. This is very Cody-centric, very self-discovery focused; I sincerely hope you all enjoy it! Please feel free to share your thoughts here or on A03--I ‘d love to here them!
Named for and inspired by: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3svABDnmio
Read also on A03
The sun on Alderaan was still something Cody would have to get used to. There was no sun to speak of on Kamino—the reason he had spent much of his life sucking down the oily remnants of Vitamin D supplements with the grey mush the GAR called breakfast—but the days here stretched on for what seemed like ages. It was because it was summer, he had learned; and from that discovery, also the concept that some planets had multiple seasons. Not every place was a constant desert heat, or a pounding monsoon. Some were like this—with delicate flowers in the spring and thick, humid heat in the summer and light autumns where the trees changed color and winters where there might be snow and ice and all manner of things. And there were others with more seasons—seasons characterized by driving rains, or mudslides and avalanches or tidal waves and floods. All different, all across the galaxy that his brief visitations had not provided insight on.
The only planet beyond Kamino that Cody had spent much time on was Coruscant, and for all of its splendor, it had nothing of the sort. It barely had nights—there were a few hours a day where the city was darker, where the Senators chose not to work—but the city that was the surface never truly slept. For the beings on the lowest levels, Cody wondered if they had ever even noticed the change in the darkness. Now, with their future set in the long-term here on Alderaan, Cody was excited to be able to live through those changes in real time.
It wasn’t the only difference he had found here. He was a man who’s entire life had been a regimented schedule, for as long as he could remember existing, he had somewhere to be and something to do. Now, with the exception of dinner, he had nothing on his own schedule for the day. Obi-Wan left early in the morning, when the sunrise was still shining off the of the lake just beyond their window, and returned in the early evening when he was done at the palace. Sometimes, with enough foresight of his day, he would plan to be at home and they could share a midday meal. So far, their evenings had been spent in the capital city, exploring shops and restaurants and ordering things to fill the rooms in their home that matched the pastel colors of the existing pieces and the curtains and the things in the kitchen and the paint on the back deck that had the step off to the water.
Cody cherished their evenings, especially now that he was feeling especially bold at times and could reach out and grasp Obi-Wan’s hand in his own and watch his ears redden slightly as he returned the gesture. But his days were something he was still growing used to. He knew the assumption was that with a bit of time, he would discover a burgeoning career to become involved in, discover the meaning behind his life that had always been masked by his being a soldier. No one, it seemed, had seemed to consider the fact that he had never anticipated being anything else. He had expected, at some point, to be one of the bodies in the end of day count. For someone to order a replacement for him, for his memory to live on only in the stories passed around by his brothers until eventually they were gone, too. Not to have to decide on what he wanted to do for the rest of his life—he wanted to spend it with Obi-Wan, whatever that entailed, but he had realized shortly after arriving, that that wasn’t enough of an answer.
It was the reason for his walk in the summer sun now—there was no possibility he could spend the entire day in the house. No matter how potentially wary he might be of the world beyond their apartment, he needed to be moving. He had some of his basic equipment for working out that both he and Obi-Wan were using, but there was no real replacement for being outside walking or sometimes running through the parks or streets.
Today his walk in the early afternoon sunshine had led him to outskirts of the botanical gardens. A project of the Organa family for generations, apparently, they were quite unlike anything Cody had ever seen. They towered over the surrounding landscape, all hard angles where the other buildings were smooth edges, and behind a thick cover of cystallex glass that managed to obscure what lay inside it without diminishing the swirls of color. Obi-Wan had mentioned them in passing once or twice, had made a mention that they should go, but now that Cody was here, with absolutely nothing beyond his interest except for the bright yellow ribbon flowers he could see beyond the glass, he decided that now was as good a time as ever.
He walked through the entrance, scanned for weapons that still felt strange not to carry, and stepped inside free of charge. Other than the receptionist and one person on the far side who seemed to be trimming the bushes, it was entirely deserted. Perhaps because it was the middle of the day during the standard working week, but whatever the reason, Cody was grateful. It meant he could take his time, meander through the flowers and inspect them up close. They were growing in baskets-- handwoven if the signs were to be believed-- and off of shelves and trestles, over shelves made of multi-colored blown glass and others of sculpted bits of metal, all of them beautiful.
There were vines of native plants as thick as Cody’s arm, and others with stems so thin that he was worried breathing on them too hard would cause some sort of damage. There was enough green to last a lifetime, and that was to say nothing of the flowers. There seemed to be endless amounts of them, in colors he wasn’t sure he could have imagined otherwise. His favorite so far was one with pure white petals that curled into heart shapes at the tip and in the center where it was sprouting in full, it had tints and shades of yellow in a perfectly ornate sunburst. It was after he walked away from it that he realized that perhaps it simply reminded him of himself. Of the simple pattern that he had painted onto his armor for all of those years.
By the time he had made it around to the man who was still clipping blooms and blossoms, there was a group of younglings that had come in. They were very small, barely up to Cody’s knee, all wearing matching or nearly matching outfits with packs pulled over their backs as they listened to their teacher talk about the plants. For a moment, Cody wanted to go back to listen to her, to learn himself all that the little ones were about the flowers. But he hesitated, perhaps for a second too long that the old man clipping the flowers took notice and smiled at him.
“Ms. Lindana,” Then man called to the teacher who looked over at him and waved. Clearly a familiar face. “My friend here wants to listen in on your talk. He’s interested in doing the tours, and they want him to have observation hours, yeah?” He said the last part like a question and Cody nodded quickly.
“Of course,” She said, “You’re more than welcome.”
Cody walked over, wishing he had a datapad to take notes on so that the lie the man had just told seemed more legitimate, but there was nothing to do about it now. Instead, he stood to the back of the children, unable to stay self-conscious for long as the teacher continued talking as if nothing had changed. He learned the flowers that were native and those that had been gifted from other planets instead and were kept here so they didn’t become invasive. He learned the legends behind some of the names—one was the Draka Flower, its red and orange petals named for some fire breathing monster of Ancient Alderaan, and at that story, the little girl he was standing beside—a tiny green twi’lek-- had reached up and wrapped her hand around two of his fingers as if he would protect her from the beasts.
By the end of the tour, he had more questions than answers. He felt as though, while he had learned so much, that this was only the surface of everything he wanted to know. They hadn’t talked about the soil types, or about the water distribution system that was feeding through all of the tubes into the various parts of the building and then into the tanks he could see just beyond them. They hadn’t discussed the waste containers or why the gardener was trimming most of the large flowers. The children were small enough that they were satisfied with the lesson and ecstatic with the cut flowers that the elderly gardener gave to each of them as they came around the end. The children and teacher all waved to Cody as they left, wishing him luck in his goal to become a tour guide. The little girl who had held his hand gave him a small huge around the knee before she scampered off after them.
He waited until they were gone before he turned to the gardener, who was packing up his tools in a long cloth pouch.
“H--,” Cody faked a cough to cover his hesitation, “Hello.”
“Hello,” The man said without looking up.
“I—Well I’m not really a tour guide, Sir,” The man looked over at him, his brown eyes warm with a smile as Cody jumbled his words, “I didn’t want you to be confused.”
“I know you aren’t a tour guide,” The man said with a boisterous laugh, “I know all of the tour guides, and I have never seen you before.”
“Oh,” Cody said, and tried to hide his confusion.
“You seemed interested in the gardens,” He continued, reaching out a weathered hand to Cody’s shoulder, “Did you enjoy the tour?”
“I did,” Cody said, and before he could fathom a reason to stop himself, continued talking. “I was interested in knowing more though. About the plants, but also the structure. The waste water and the soil.”
The man’s eyes widened and for a moment, Cody was stricken with an old fear, deeply ingrained, that any interest shown as a clone was a distraction, sure to be taken away to keep their minds focused. It took a moment longer after the man had started listing all of the places Cody could go to collect more information or seeds or whole, germinated plants that Cody realized the subtle difference. This wasn’t someone angling to take his rights. The look on the man’s face was one of pure delight.
This feeling was still slightly new. Not the desire—that had been familiar for longer than Cody dared to admit—but the new confidence he was feeling as they moved together in motions that were increasing in closeness and pure heat. He was determined tonight to use this new burst of momentum he had been feeling throughout the whole of the week. At the moment, Obi-Wan seemed more than receptive to it. Cody kissed him, open-mouthed and asking for more, even as he undid the complicated knots on Obi-Wan’s sleep tunic. He thought about stopping for a moment, since it was clear that Obi-Wan had dressed for bed and had to be up quite early, but then he felt Obi-Wan’s hand twist in his hair, holding him closer and let the worry float away.
“You can scan this at any of the stations to do a short-term rental of data files and materials,” The man working the desk told Cody, “You can scan and take almost everything home, but need to send it through circulation first. If you have questions, you can ask up here, okay, Sir?”
“Yes, thank you,” Cody said, and tucked the small, scannable card into the pocket of his trousers. He turned from the desk and the smiling man working and took a deep breath as he took in the whole breadth of the Alderanean public library. He wasn’t sure, thinking back, that he had know about the existence of public libraries before the gardener had mentioned them. He knew that libraries existed, Obi-Wan was particularly fond of the Jedi Archival library, but to comprehend that this much information was simply accessible to anyone, including him…
He went straight for the section on horticulture, pulling file after file on Alderaanean, Stewjoni, Naboo, Coruscanti, and Kaminoan native species and scanning them with his new pass card. Dozens of files and audio files on soil types and measures, pollinator species, water treatment, and waste cycling. And then more on construction—everything from commercial guides on glass purchasing to what types of metal could absorb the needed level of heat without warping. Then on gardening itself—plant cycles, and water cycling, fertilizers and pesticides, plant health and germination information. He scanned until his communicator beeped with a reminder that he was meeting Obi-Wan for their midday meal. With a nod to the man at circulation, he left, starting the first audio file for the walk back home.
“Can I inquire what it is you’re reading so intently about?” Cody startled at the sound of Obi-Wan’s voice and look down the swinging seat to where he was sitting on the opposite end, reading a data file of his own. Cody realized he must look somewhat of a sight, with one data pad in his hand, glowing with the pages of information he needed, and another on his lap where he could scrawl notes and try his hand at drawing diagrams. The first few had been horrible—the proportions completely askew, but after some practice, there was considerable improvement, and now, it seemed to him that his diagram was slowly turning into a plausible reality.
“Soon,” Cody answered, smiling slightly over the top of the pad. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to share it with Obi-Wan, but there was that lingering bit of apprehension in him. What if it wasn’t going to work after all? What if Obi-Wan thought It was a silly way for him to spend his time? It was better he thought, to wait until he had started.
“Bail told me that you and his gardener are good friends,” Obi-Wan said, and Cody waited for a moment to see if that was meant as a related question or an entirely separate observation. It seemed to be the latter.
“Yes,” Cody said, “He’s a good man. I met him at the gardens a few weeks ago, and I walk by their house in the mornings, so we talk often.”
He saw him at the gardens, as well. If he wasn’t going to the library to renew his file loans, he spent his mornings in the gardens themselves. As summer wore on, the plants inside changed with them. He had gotten the opportunity to see two more tours—both of adults this time—and to meet the man who managed the wastewater and composting systems since he had been there. And hours upon hours of simply being there among the plants, listening to the audio files on them that he had downloaded from the library. Most mornings, he was alone in the place and could simply turn them on, others he wore ear speakers and avoided the chattering small groups around so he could hear the pleasant voice of the woman who narrated most of them explaining the very plants or soils or pollinators he was looking at.
Obi-Wan smiled over at him, and for a moment Cody had the sneaking suspicion he could tell what Cody was working on without asking. But he didn’t ask other questions, simply hummed along to a song Cody vaguely recognized as he went back to reading, turned towards each other on the swinging bench.
If one more glass panel broke, Cody had decided he might give up on the entire project.
When Obi-Wan finally got to go with him to the botanical gardens, Cody surprised himself with the depth of knowledge he had acquired. There was no plant unnamed by him, no origin story unknown. Not soil loam that he couldn’t explain. The receptionist greeted him by name as he came in and he introduced Obi-Wan to her and the others he had come to know in two months since his first visit. If Obi-Wan was surprised, he didn’t show it, only smiling politely and introducing himself alongside Cody as they pushed through the week’s end crowd so Cody could show him the Blaze Lilies, still his favorite after all this time.
“My favorite are the peace lilies,” Obi-Wan said, brushing the soft yellow and white petals between long fingers. As Cody watched his face light up as they got to the peace lilies, all white and dark green, curved and gentle and strong all the same, he thought he could see why Obi-Wan liked them so well. He made a mental note of it, to include peace lilies front and center in his grand project. He didn’t need to write it down to remember, even though he had done it with all the rest of the flowers he had chosen. Seeing Obi-Wan look at them now, one hand on the flowers and the other wrapped securely around Cody’s wrist, was enough to make him remember them for the rest of his life.
“I signed up for an art and architecture course at the college,” Cody said between bites of the soup they were having for dinner. “Two courses, actually, one on design and one on logistics.”
Obi-Wan’s eyes widened slightly in surprise, but when he swallowed his soup, he didn’t seem perturbed. “Is that part of a larger program?” He asked instead and Cody felt himself flood with warmth.
Stewjoni crystal orchids, it turned out, could not survive a full evening out in the rain.
“Do I finally get to see this project you’ve been working on?” Obi-Wan asked, keeping his eyes closed as Cody requested as they walked out on the back deck. He kept a steadying hand on Obi-Wan’s arm, though he was almost certain he didn’t need it. Cody didn’t know entirely about how the force worked, but he had never seen Obi-Wan so much as stumble.
“Yes,” Cody said, and could feel the dry patch at the back of his tongue, “I hope you’ll like it.”
“With all the work you’ve put into it, I don’t know how it could be anything less than spectacular.”
He led him into the small yard between the house and the lake where he had been obstructing their view with his project for nearly three weeks now. It had been finished the last week, officially, but in the days since, the gardener had come out to show him hands-on the tending of the plants. How to clip buds and graft flowers, to replant versus repot and the mechanics of the water system he had finally finished installing. Now, it was ready to share.
He stopped Obi-Wan from walking further and pulled away the wooden cover in front of the building. He took a deep, settling breath and looked at Obi-Wan. “Open your eyes,” He said, and waited.
At first, Obi-Wan didn’t react to the sight in front of him except with slight surprise. He took in the glass structure, carefully put together panel by panel along the wrought carbon frame with slow blinks. “Cody,” He breathed finally with a sort of reverence that shocked Cody with its sincerity, “Did you build this?”
“Yes,” Cody said, and felt his face heating, “Yes, I did. It’s—it’s what I’ve been working on these past few months.”
“It’s beautiful,” Obi-Wan turned to him, beaming, “Can we go inside?”
Cody stepped forward and opened the door. It was by no means as large as even a quarter of the botanical gardens, but it was the size of a fully flush greenhouse. Cody had worked with the men the gardener had recommended who had been able to do everything he had asked of them with ease, alongside his own work. The design, was his own, an attempt to replicate the trapezoids of the Jedi temple and of the ships they had lived and fought and lost in for so long. The water system was his own design, pulling bits and pieces from all the information he could find so that the greenhouse was entirely self-cleaning and self-contained.
But what he was most proud of was the flowers. They were in baskets, like the ones in the gardens, and on metal shelves and glass ledges, with vines growing between the pots and lining the small walking path he had put through the center. There in the front was a display of pace lilies, interspersed with blaze lilies from the grafts he had cultivated himself. All around the room were those plants from all the places they could call home. Coruscant roses—perhaps the only native species—Alderaanian orchids and vines, Naboo tulips (which Anakin had picked out himself after Cody had contacted him), Stewjoni creepers and orchids and irises that brought splashes of purple and red to the back, and Kaminoan Water Flowers that were wrapped around the sprinklers and were blooming the lightest shade of periwinkle blue from the constant moisture.
Cody walked Obi-Wan through them, through each flower, each soil, each minute difference in what they needed to survive and thrive. All the places they had come from, all the people that Cody had met that had told him about them. About Anakin, who had wanted to tell Obi-Wan quite badly about the entire thing, and the Organa’s, who helped him get all of the glass purchased in enough time to do the construction.
When it was finished, the sun starting to set and casting the whole building in its long glow, Obi-Wan turned to him. Cody met his gaze, trying to read it. He knew what this was, what this meant. This was their life, their first steps together after the war, into tomorrow. Where he had figured out something he loved and enjoyed, and had built something for them here together. All now was Obi-Wan’s reaction.
He didn’t say a word, not one. He lifted a hand to Cody’s face, cradling his jaw, brushing along it with his thumb. The kiss that followed was everything he needed it to be—a reminder of everything they’d been through while it wiped away the final bits of pain that clung to both of them, all the changes and the loss that came with it. And it in its wake, it simply left them, the first bite of the fall winds starting to blow over the lake towards them.