Leon panted trying to control his breathing as the sweat dripped from his forehead and ran the length of his face, the collar of his sleeveless white jacket soaked and there was a tear along the right legging of his black pants. The young Jedi roared as he brought his lightsaber down at an angled overhead swing. The silver blade made a crackling sound as it was blocked by the amethyst colored saber of his opponent.
"You're lightsaber skills have grown I'm impressed" Master Windu said before forcing his lightsaber up and to the side and force pushing Leon.
Allowing his attack to be parried Leon held his hand out meeting his master's force push with his own. The two Jedi's stood locked in a force battle fiercely holding their ground against each other.
In the observation room above the dueling ring Masters Luminara Unduli, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker along with his padawan Ahsoka Tano watched as Master Mace Windu sparred with his own padawan.
"I didn't know a master could duel his padawan" Ahsoka muttered as the two Jedi locked in a force battle.
"It happens a lot" Master Unduli told her, "I have sparred with Barriss in this ring several times to help her hone her skills with a lightsaber".
"And Anakin and I have sparred multiple times as well" Master Kenobi admitted.
Ahsoka looked over her should to her own master wondering why they had never sparred before, but the thought was quickly vanquished from her mind as Leon gained the upper hand in the duel.
While they were locked in a force battle Leon could tell that his master was going easy on him while slowly increasing the strength behind his force push to gauge Leon's own strength. Leon smirked as he turned this to his advantage by directing a second force push at his master's legs pushing them back and causing his master to fall to his knees. Now with Master Windu on the ground Leon swiftly stepped toward him and ducked down while rearing his arm back.
Letting out a sharp battle cry Leon threw his arm forward releasing a force push uppercut to knock his master into the air. After Master Windu was sent flying Leon grabbed him with the force and threw him across the ring.
"You're mine" he declared activating his lightsaber and leaping toward his master.
Quickly recovering from being thrown into the wall Master Windu summoned his lightsaber back to his hand to block Leon's attack, "You truly are a quick learner" he grunted before forcing Leon away and standing back up, "You utilize Ataru well, but you ignore its weakness".
Leon smiled at his master, "You mean the quick burst in movements tend to tire out the user right?"
Leon stepped back and deactivated his weapon, "So what's next?"
Master Windu switched off his lightsaber as well and returned it to his belt, "That will be all for today Leon. You are improving quickly, but do not let yourself become complacent you still have a long way to go".
"Master Windu before you go I wanted to ask you something" Leon waited for his master to turn back to face him again, "You developed your own form of lightsaber combat correct? When my training is complete I would like to challenge you again with you using that form that way I can truly see where I stand in comparison".
"Being a Jedi isn't about being as strong as each other" Master Windu told him.
"I know that" Leon replied, "But if I am not strong enough to stand on equal ground with you then I am not strong enough to be a Jedi". Quietly Leon walked past his master and to the door leading out of the ring, "I want to protect the Republic and others and even though it is not the Jedi way a certain level of strength is required to protect another".
"There is truth in what you say my young padawan just remember that too much power distorts your judgment".
Leon nodded to his master before leaving the training ring and quickly making his way to his favorite place in the Jedi Temple, the courtyard.
"I love it here" he sighed as he walked by the quartet of fountains at the center of the courtyard, "Ah who am I trying to kid this place is way too quiet for me to enjoy. (sighs) Well guess I could always go to the archives and find something to read wouldn't mind brushing up on my history".
Inside the Jedi Archives, Leon was sitting at a lone table in a dimly lit corner resting his head against his fist with a book hovering in front of him.
"Tell me something I don't already know" he muttered to the book using the force to turn the pages, "Well that's something I didn't know" he quietly said to himself.
"So this is where you've been" Ahsoka's voice said from behind him.
"Mostly" he replied gently setting the book down as Ahsoka walked around the table to him, "So what's up? Still stalking me?"
"You wish" Ahsoka scoffed, "What are you reading?"
Leon closed the book and handed it to her, "A recount of the New Sith Wars. It lasted for a thousand years. I doubt it's a full recount of what happened, but its something to do for now".
"You sound so bored" the young Togruta noted hearing his tone.
"Probably because I am, but now that you're here I have a solution for that".
"What are you up to?" Ahsoka asked seeing the way Leon was grinning as he reached into his pocket.
"How about a game of Pazaak?" he asked her.
Leon showed her a deck of cards and began shuffling it, "It's a really old game it used to be really popular around three thousand years ago. It's not played much anymore, but it used to be really popular" placing the shuffled deck on the table he looked up to Ahsoka, "So feel like playing?"
Ahsoka shrugged, "How do you play?"
Leon gestured toward the deck he shuffled, "Well for starters there is the main deck which is made up of four sets of cards numbered from one to ten" he set another much smaller deck next to it, "Then there is the side deck. A deck comprised of ten special cards chosen by each player participating in the game. The side deck consists of cards numbered one to six".
Using the force Leon took the cards in the side deck apart and flipped them over to show Ahsoka, "There are plus cards which add additional points to your total based on the card you played". He showed her a blue that had a +3 on it, "For example this card would add three points to my total. There are also minus cards which are red" he showed her a second card that had a -2, "This takes two points off of the current total".
Ahsoka listened intently as explained the cards, "Alright so what's the point of the game?"
Leon held his finger up, "Not done yet there's still another card" he showed her a blue and red card with +/- 2 on it, "This is a plus minus card it serves both functions of the previous two cards the person who plays it decides if its used as a plus or minus card".
Placed the cards back in the deck he began shuffling again, "There was a fourth type of card, but its no longer in print and the only copies of it you can find are in the hands of collectors".
"So how do you play?" Ahsoka asked him.
Setting the deck down again Leon reached back into his pocket and held out another side deck and slid it across the table. Taking the top card from the main deck he flipped it over and set it on the table a five, "The purpose of the game is to get to twenty or as close as you can without going over you win by being the first person to win three matches. At the start of each turn a single card is revealed from the main deck which is the total for all players in this case a five". He took four cards from his side deck and held them in his hand keeping them concealed from Ahsoka, "Each player draws a hand of exactly four cards from their side deck you can use these cards to help you manipulate your score".
Leon motioned to the side deck he gave Ahsoka, "Keep in mind that you can play as many cards per turn as you want, but you cannot draw another card from your side deck you are stuck with the four you draw until the game is over".
"So all I have to do is get closer to twenty than you and do it three times?"
Leon nodded, "The side deck I gave you has the exact same cards as the ones in mine so it comes down to luck as to who wins".
Ahsoka nodded, "Alright let's go".
Taking another card from the main deck Leon flipped it over and placed it on the table an eight making the current total thirteen.
"This is where math comes into play" he told her, "Remember that the main deck is made up of four sets of one to ten cards and we already have a five and eight in play making the total thirteen which means there is only seven more points to go until twenty right? So now you have to factor in the probability that the next card will be high or low".
Ahsoka nodded again and pointed to the main deck using the force to flip the next card a four, "So the total is seventeen now".
Leon set his hand face down on the table, "Yes it is. I stand".
Ahsoka set down a red and blue card with a +/- 3, "Add three I'm at twenty".
Leon gave a small corner smile, "Then you win round one" waving his hand he pushed the played cards to the side and took the next card from the main deck a six.
Looking at Ahsoka Leon waited to see if she was going to do anything, but she waved her hand and Leon flipped another card a nine, the total was now fifteen.
Leon played a +/- 5 making his total twenty while Ahsoka played the same card making the round a tie.
Moving the used cards to the side Leon flipped the first card of the third round and shot Ahsoka a sinister smirk, "You're at a disadvantage now".
"Why do you say that?" she asked him.
"I still have three of my four cards while you only have two I have more play options".
"And I still have one of my three wins".
"Touché" Leon said motioning his hand to the main deck and flipping the next card another six. Along with the first card, an eight the total was now fourteen.
Ahsoka held up her hand refraining from making a play as did Leon. The next card was another four making the total eighteen.
Ahsoka moved her hand to play a card, but stopped when she saw the way Leon was smiling at her, "You know I don't like you looking at me like that".
"I can't help it" he laughed, "Something about you tends to…attract my eyes".
Groaning Ahsoka dropped her head into her hand, "You are so annoying".
"And yet you come to find me" he said as they both set their hands down and the next card was revealed making the total twenty-one.
"Twenty" Leon said placing a +/- 1 card down.
"I saw you dueling with Master Windu" Ahsoka told him as the next round started.
"Did you now?" Leon muttered flipping the second card making the total nine.
"Where did you learn to fight like that?" she asked.
The total was now ten, "I told you already, when you grow up on a farm you learn how to defend yourself. Weather it's with a blaster a vibroblade or even your own hands and feet self defense is an important thing to know".
"So when you fought Ventress back on Hoth you already knew how to fight like that even before you joined the Order?"
Leon nodded as the next card was revealed making the total seventeen, "Mostly, I did hone and refine my combat abilities after joining the Order. With the exception of the more experienced members of the Council I'm willing to bet I'm the best fighter amongst the Jedi".
Ahsoka chuckled, "You sound pretty sure of yourself, isn't overconfidence something we should be wary of?"
Leon smiled again as Ahsoka played a +/- 3, "Well that's what they tell us, but you know me. I tend to have more fun ignoring the rules".
Ahsoka stifled a laugh, "You also have fun annoying me and don't try to deny it either".
Leon placed his hand over his chest, "Ahsoka I'm hurt" he said in a faux pained tone, "I wouldn't never deny something that is true".
"So you admit it" she said aloud leaning over the table and pointing at him.
"Oh I gladly admit it" he snickered as he moved his eyes over her.
Immediately realizing what he was doing Ahsoka dropped back into her seat and shook her head, "One of these days Leon".
Leon tried to contain his rising urge to start laughing, "Well you do make it too easy for me. And for obvious reasons it's hard to not look at you".
Dropping her head into her hand again she sighed, "You know if you keep this up I'm going to start thinking you're serious".
"Who says I'm not?" he asked her in a teasing tone.
Ahsoka growled under her breath becoming annoyed by Leon's constant jokes, "Just deal already".
Leon played the first card a nine after Ahsoka gave him the go ahead he played the second another nine making the total eighteen.
"Twenty" Leon said playing a +2 card.
Ahsoka nodded signaling him to start the next round the first card was a ten followed by six.
"Sixteen" Leon said, "Chances are the next one is going to send it over twenty".
Ahsoka looked at the last card in her hand, a +/- 3, she could make her total nineteen or risk another card and try to subtract from the new total. Taking a look at Leon who also had a single card left she hoped she could gauge her chances by reading his face, but he maintained an indifferent expression. Without any tells to go off of Ahsoka decided to take a chance and told Leon to reveal the next card another six making the total twenty-two.
Ahsoka looked back at Leon who still had a neutral expression, she could stand and take the chance that Leon couldn't make a play which would make them go into another round, but if he did have a card he could play she would lose that's when she realized something. If he did have a card to play he would have to use it if she played hers otherwise he would lose the game.
Ahsoka took a quick breath and played her final card making her total nineteen giving Leon one last look at he played his final card as well.
"Twenty" he declared removing his hand from the top of a +/- 2 card.
Ahsoka sank into her seat a bit and looked away from the table.
Gathering the cards Leon looked over to her, "Don't worry about it" he told her, "Now to celebrate my victory how about I make us some lunch?"
Ahsoka smiled as she stood up, "Alright that sounds good".
Ahsoka followed Leon to the cafeteria and then to the kitchen in the back, "So what are you in the mood for?" he asked her.
Ahsoka shrugged as she leaned against the wall, "Anything is fine".
"Chef's surprise then" Leon replied as he began washing his hands.
"Did you also learn to cook on your farm?" Ahsoka asked him.
Drying his hands Leon looked at her reflection in the steel door of the cooler, "A little yes. After I arrived here on Coruscant I spent a lot of my free time learning to cook. I can teach you if you like".
Ahsoka nodded her head to the side, "Maybe some other time".
Leon shot her a quick smirk before he started preparing the ingredients, "You know I just realized I don't know much about you apart from being a Jedi".
"That's because there's not a lot to tell. I was brought to the Temple when I was really young so I never really had a life outside the Order".
"Well there still has to be something" Leon told her, "How about hobbies, things you do in your free time. You already know I can cook and I read from time to time, what about you?"
"I don't really have any hobbies" she admitted.
"We'll have to fix that".
"The only thing we need to fix is the way you keep looking at me" Ahsoka scoffed after noticing that Leon kept glancing at her every time one of them would turn around.
Leon smirked again, "No I think we're fine with the way it is".
"Why do you keep doing that?" she asked pushing herself off the wall, "Its always a joke with you, but do you even think about what the Council would do if one of them heard you saying something like that?"
Leon ran his hand over his dark hair and turned to face her, "Its just part of who I am. And what makes you think I haven't thought about the consequences of it all? Maybe I do it because I actually like you".
Ahsoka hugged her arms close to her and looked away, the stripes on her head tails suddenly gained a more vivid color and Leon began snickering.
"Wow so that's how a Togruta blushes huh?"
"I…I am not blushing" she protested.
Leon snickered even more as he turned back around, "Alright that's enough fun back to work. Can you hand me the bottle of spice in the cabinet above you, the orange one".
Reaching into the cabinet above her Ahsoka handed him a dark orange bottle labeled "Dantooine sugar cane". Taking the bottle Leon lightly shook the contents into a boiling pot taking a knife he began slicing the various vegetables and fruits next to him. He turned to Ahsoka and asked her to help him as he continued slicing and mixing the many ingredients and in just under an hour everything was done. Two trays on the cart in front of them each complete with a full meal of a Manaan Slider accompanied by a Covado salad and Jeru tea.
Ahsoka was impressed it wasn't much, but it definitely looked good, "So what is this?"
"Food" Leon answered almost smugly as he sat down.
Shaking her head the Togruta padawan sat across from him and joined him for lunch, "He's a really good cook" she thought to herself after taking the first bite of the Manaan slider in front of her, "He could make a good living as a chef if he wanted to".
"Is something wrong?" Leon asked her seeing the absent minded look in her eyes.
"Huh? Oh no I was just thinking I might have to make you make lunch everyday if they'll always be this good".
Leon chuckled, "What would I get out of that?"
Ahsoka thought for a moment, but before she could begin thinking of an answer Leon gave her an offer, "How about I agree to become your personal cook and you agree to go out with me".
Ahsoka sighed, "Can you go five minutes without doing that?"
"Relax" Leon told her with a slight grin, "Nothing romantic just two friends spending a day together and look at it like this until one of us gets another mission we really don't have anything else to do. Besides isn't the flirting the part you love about me?"
Ahsoka looked away from him trying to hide the smile growing across her face before she laughed under her breath, "You don't give up do you?"
"It wouldn't be any fun if I gave up".
Ahsoka looked over her shoulder making sure they were alone. She took a deep breath and returned her gaze to Leon, "You know I bet you could actually be pretty charming if you wanted to be, instead of trying to drive everyone mad".
Leon's smile ran away from his face as he heard her words, "Well first off I don't have to try to drive people to wit's end I just do. Secondly even with all of my flirting and cheesy lines is just me trying to get a laugh or a rise out of people, its how I have fun".
Ahsoka gave him a questioning look making him explain what he meant, "There are a lot of people who suffer because of the war if I can make them smile even for just a few minutes I feel like I've helped them in a way and if I end up making them feel better then I do as well".
"So all this time you're just trying to make me feel better?"
Leon nodded, "Yes and no its half me trying to take your mind off of what's going on out there and half wanting to drive you crazy".
Ahsoka felt her smile grow more, "I don't know if you're starting to rub off on me or if I'm starting to get used to you sense of humor". Leon remained silent, "I do have to admit though" she continued her smile fading and her voice becoming quieter, "There is something about you I don't know what it is, but when you're not making jokes you do seem really dependable. Like back on Hoth when you were so determined to save Thalia's people and when you fought Ventress…I feel like you're someone I know I can trust".
Leon shrugged his shoulders, "I'll take it, if you think I can be trusted let's do it".
"I'm trying to say something nice about you please don't ruin it".
Leon held his hands up in an apologetic manner allowing Ahsoka to continue.
"Now I don't even remember what I was going to say…Damn you're annoying sometimes".
Leon gave a slight nod, "Perhaps a change in subject then, tell me what's the most interesting world you've visited so far?"
"Most interesting world…well I didn't get to look at it much while I was there, but I really liked Ryloth".
"That's the Twi'lek home world right?"
Ahsoka nodded, "We were freeing it from Separatist control, but we had to leave once we were done so I didn't get to see much of it. What about you?"
"Well aside from my own home world and here on Coruscant the only other world I've seen is Hoth and I wouldn't really call Hoth that interesting…I can tell you what world I would really like to see one day though, Korriban".
Ahsoka gasped, "Korriban? Isn't that the Sith world?"
Leon nodded, "It used to be the Sith died thousands of years ago or at least we think they did".
"Wait what?" Ahsoka wondered, "Then what about Count Dooku and Ventress? Aren't they Sith?"
Leon shook his head, "Not really, you see several millennia ago there was actually a race of aliens called Sith. They were naturally powerful in the dark side of the force and even built their own empire before going to war with the Republic what people call Sith nowadays are more of a religious cult than anything".
"How do you know all that?"
"I've spent most of my time here in the archives I know a lot about history".
"So Korriban was the home world to those ancient Sith?"
"Most of them" Leon explained, "Some of them came from other worlds, but most were of Korriban. The world is long since deserted of sentient life or at least as far as we know, it far out in the Outer Rim there is still local wildlife out there that you cannot find anywhere else in the galaxy, but as for other people the only ones you'll find are the occasional scavenger hoping to find something".
Ahsoka asked, "Is there even anything out there worth finding?"
Leon nodded to the side, "Maybe there's thousands upon thousands of years worth of knowledge on that world somewhere and many have tried to uncover it and many have failed while only a handful throughout the centuries have actually succeeded. It's possible that there may still be some holocrons or ancient texts still out there somewhere and even though they'd likely be about the dark side…I think they should be recovered. Even if they are of the dark side its still important knowledge that could even give us clues as to what happened all those years ago".
"What do you mean?"
"Well for all of the history you'll find in public libraries and even what we're allowed to see in the archives here there's still a lot of holes throughout history where no one knows what happened, I think we should work on that. History is important we can't build toward the future if we can't learn from the past and adjust as we go".
Ahsoka chuckled, "You sound like a historian almost like Master Nu".
Leon nodded his head to the side again this time with an approving grunt, "Master Nu and I have actually spent a lot of time together since I first arrived at the temple. When I wasn't training I spent a lot of time in the archives I never knew much about the galaxy past Dantooine and its bordering worlds so to find the history of the galaxy so preserved intrigued me. I consider Master Nu a very good friend and I think I would like to be a historian myself, but I'm not too sure on that".
Leon leaned back in his seat, "To learn all I can and be the one solely responsible for maintaining this vast collection of knowledge and teach future generations of our history".
Ahsoka laughed again, "You start out as a solemn guy then turn into a flirtatious lunatic and now you're sounding like an old person next thing I know you're going to start telling me about how different it was back in your day".
Leon immediately began speaking in an aged and shaky voice, "Now you listen here young'un, you should respect and listen to your elders".
Ahsoka tried to stifle her laughter as Leon gave his impersonation of an older man, but she just couldn't hold herself back. As he started speaking she snickered before busting into full laughter.
Ahsoka choked as she tried to calm herself, "Stop, stop!"
Leon also laughing continued impersonating an older man, "Didn't anyone ever teach you not to laugh at others…AH!"
Leon's chair fell back dropping him to the floor causing the Togruta opposite him to laugh even more.
"I'm ok" he coughed holding his fist into the air before getting up.
Ahsoka continued laughing as her friend got back to his feet, "Serves you right".
"Oh yes very Jedi like" Leon growled, "Laugh at a man while he's down". He sighed and rubbed his shoulder throbbing from the fall.
Ahsoka finally began calming down as the familiar voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi sneaked up on her, "Well you two seem to be having fun".
Ahsoka jumped when she heard his voice looking over her shoulder and smiling nervously, "Oh hello Master Kenobi…is something wrong?"
"I certainly hope so I'd hate to ruin your fun for nothing".
Leon rolled his shoulder back, "I think I dislocated something…"
Obi-Wan watched as Leon massaged his shoulder before moving his eyes to Ahsoka and then the half eaten lunch on the table, "Well I'm afraid we have a bit of a problem. We've received word that a Separatist fleet is amassing around Dantooine".
Leon froze when he heard Master Kenobi's words, "No".