The Roar of Thunder
Bargaining with Beskar, Chapter 12, Book Two Finale
(The Mandalorian x f!reader) (+18)
He couldn’t console Grogu, or even get him to eat most days, and that made him just as worthless as Imp scum. The last bounty lay at the end of the wormhole, a pathetic bail jumper that should take no time at all to capture, and once that was complete and the credits collected maybe…
Maybe he should take Grogu home.
Rating: Extra Explicit
Word count: 24.2k SORRY
Content warnings: *deep breath* Dark themes, self loathing, depression, thoughts of suicide, implied parental abuse, drug induced abductions, use of needles, auditory and visual hallucinations, extremely graphic descriptions of violence, blood and gore, stupid amounts of murder. Oh, and smut! Yay!
A/N: THE EPIC CONCLUSION (???) OF BARGAINING WITH BESKAR! Holy shit I can't believe we've made it this far! I know those tags are super fucking intimidating but there is a light at the end of this tunnel, it's just a very long, dark ass tunnel and you're gonna have to work to get there! THANK YOU ALL so much for joining me on this wildass ride that I already said I was finished with once before lol. There's a lot that I'm leaving off with so there's a very good chance I'll come back to this story in the future, but for now, enjoy!
The Crest had been silent before, for years actually, but never like this.
When it had only been him aboard the old gunship, long before the child and much longer before you, silence had been the Mandalorian’s only companion. In the wake of betrayal, the eerie quiet of hyperspace had returned like a plague; creeping in on innumerable, chitinous legs through the Razor’s solid walls, taking up space like something alive.
Or maybe something dead.
Silence was heavy, viscous and rotting in Mando’s ears. It slithered through his ear canals and down his throat, seeping over his heart like melted tar. It hurt, the silence. Somehow both burning like acid and freezing like ice in his chest and it hurt. It made his bones ache. It made his ears ring in place of the lack of noise, the lack of life and love that he had grown so fond of.
But the silence was better, a hundred, thousand times better than the crying.
Grogu wailed whenever he was awake, sobbing and choking on the tears that streaked down from his cosmic eyes and stopped up his teensy tinsey nose with snot. The little terror never made so much noise in all his life, and he would frequently cry so hard he would tire himself out and fall into a fretful, restless sleep. Din would try everything he could think of, holding the baby, rocking him and shushing him as sweetly as a mountain of metal could; but the child only cried harder for his efforts.
The child wouldn’t eat, barely slept, and wept relentlessly. Din’s shattered heart broke a thousand more times with each fitful sob that tore it’s way out of the tiny toothy mouth of his adopted son, and every day that it continued he thought the agony would kill him.
He knew why Grogu was so heartbroken, though he refused to accept it, still tasting the bitterness of betrayal on his tongue. Dirty Imp. He wanted to be so angry, he still was, but the exhaustion of trying to comfort his son drained every ounce of fight from the mighty warrior’s body. Din’s decision was final, even if it was starting to feel like the worst decision he’d ever made in his entire life. He wasn’t going to let any goddamn Imps near his son, no matter how lovely they were, how beautiful… how wonderful.
Grogu was just going to have to get over it.
But...what if he never does?
Din was cradling the child against his bare shoulder, trying, and failing, for the thousandth time that week to get Grogu to calm down. The Mandalorian rocked slowly, holding the child’s head to his shoulder and petting him softly, running his thumbs over his ears in the way that used to make the little beastie coo and hum. Made him close his eyes and sleep. If… if he could just get the child to sleep, to relax, maybe he could think straight.
When she was here, what would she do? Din didn’t want to think about the monster that he had let into his life, let into his heart, but he couldn’t stop the train of thought as it left his mental station. She would sing. She would sing him a lullaby and he would conk right out. They were his favorite. He groaned, blinking up at the hazy cabin lights as if the Maker was up there with better answers.
They were my favorite, too.
Din sighed heavily against the weeping creature he loved so dearly, then started to hum one of the songs he thought he remembered. Low and slow, a deep, rumbling baritone that once was as warm as honey, but now felt cold, lifeless and dull.
There was the briefest of respites in the child’s crying, only to pick back up with a vengeance at the memory of his lost buir’s lullabies. Assaulted by the uptick in the wailing, Din wracked his brain for the words to those songs. Stars, there were so many, but there was one that sort of… stuck.
“Hey, womp rat, let me see you.” Din pulled the soggy baby from his shoulder, fishing the edge of his cloak around to wipe the child’s flooded eyes. “There he is. Um, how does it go… I have sailed the… no that’s not… I went sailing in the midnight sea, something something…navigator... wait, please don’t cry. Fuck.”
Singing wasn’t one of his strong points, no matter how many times you had told him he had a lovely voice, soft and dark and velvety. No, it was you whose voice was spun from gold, not his. You had brought music into his world, that very first day, sitting in the passenger seat with the child in your lap you had broken into a star-shanty that dissolved every barrier the Mandalorian had erected around his heart and sang love into his world.
Your voice wasn’t just powerful, it was a siege weapon.
Nothing had ever had that kind of power over him, made him want to rip his helmet from his skull and throw it overboard just to hear your voice as it was meant to be heard in all its glory. And then when he had gotten to hear it clear and true, without the modulation of his audio intake processors, he knew he would never hear anything more beautiful again in his entire life.
Din tried to bring himself back to the very first song, something about a navigator, guiding a mighty ship through the stars. So long ago, when Grogu had fallen asleep from your lullaby and you were just humming the last verses, you had caught Din staring at you and abruptly cut the song short; thinking that the Mandalorian was ready to slit your throat for being so close to his precious cargo. It wasn’t until later, after a victorious but near-fatal hunt that you had been asked to finish it.
You were cradled against his side, tucked into the crook of his arm with your head on his chest, tired and breathless from critical bloodloss and a foolish bout of lovemaking. You had nearly died, and his son had saved your life, given you back to him like a precious keepsake. Din had felt your breathing slow way down, watched your eyes close from behind his visor, and suddenly he just had to know.
How does the song end?
Mmm? Why, do you need a lullaby too?
No, just curious. When you leave, my foundling might ask me about it.
Din stopped rocking the child, struck fast by the memory. Grogu was starting to tire himself out, but the tears still flowed, dampening the flack under his squishy baby face.
When you leave.
He had made a deal with you, one hunt and you were off the hook, spared from carbonite and the Guild’s vengeance; but everything about you enchanted him so much that he nearly broke his own Creed just to feel your body against his, feel your lips on his face, your hands in his hair. Even before he heard your singing his ears had fallen in love with your voice. Maker, the sounds that you had made; the soft little pants, the choked cries, the moans. He had to have you.
He had to hear you.
Ensorcelled by your siren tongue he took you for himself, gave himself to you in the sacred way his Creed demanded should have come after riduurok, but he didn’t care. The first time he filled you was heaven, an addiction more fixing than spice. In that moment he was too far gone to try to explain to you that The Way dictated he was bound to you now as your protector, but would have understood if you had told him no. Told him to leave you alone, let you get back to your life. But you had only sunk your claws deeper, given yourself more, entwining yourself with him more closely than the beskar that had been forged around him.
When you leave.
You’d become protective and caring and dangerous, a weaponized testament to the love you’d grown for your two boys. You hunted with the fury of thunderstorms, defended your kin with your own life, loved them like no one else ever had and it was beautiful. Din’s foundling became your foundling, and soon you’d become the foundling’s buir, bound to his little clan by the sacred ceremony of riddurok. Indivisible, inseparable. A pack, a clan, a family.
A dirty, filthy, soul crushing lie.
A fucking Imp had been right under his nose, in his fucking bed, whispering in his ear that he was loved, that he meant something. Anger burned behind his eyes at the memories that he once cherished, making their corners sting. Grogu picked up on it instantly, his almost-closed eyes flying back open with another shriek. Din gave up. He couldn’t take it anymore. The child was gently lowered to his pram, still sniveling but at least tired enough that maybe he would fall asleep soon.
With squinty, flooded eyes the baby glared up at his adopted father, his ears nearly falling off his head with how droopy they were. He sank his adorable little talons into the fabric of Din’s wrist, keeping him hostage so the tiny green terror could break his fathers heart just one more time.
Grogu grumbled with a scowl, looking away from Din’s exhausted face, trying to find somebody else. “Bubu.”
Din had heard the baby use the shorthand of buir for the first time when he was storming up the Crest’s ladder after abandoning you on Elgon Station, hatred and disgust deafening him to the sound of his son's first almost-word. When he was blasting away from the sudden starcruiser, he had heard the baby shouting the sweet phrase over and over and over again, his little voice choked with desperation; and he knew that it wasn’t meant for him.
It was meant for you.
Din shook his head, unhooking Grogu from his sleeve. ”Sorry kid, It’s just me now.” Fighting the mist forming in his eyes, he closed the lid, sealing the pram with an ugly hiss at yet another betrayal. Sorry kid.
Exhausted and broken, Din flopped down in the little sleeping nook that he had once shared with you, sinking into the bedroll. The Tatooinian bed roll. You had picked up the soft, plush foam mattress on your shopping excursion through the desert bazaar, spitting fire about the quality of the bed he had grown used to.
It was your bed roll.
Din was too tired to yank the thing off and shred it like he had been meaning to, at least that’s what he had been telling himself for the last few cycles. The reality was that it still smelled faintly of you, a scent that was losing its strength with each passing jump through hyperspace. Sleep made him just as restless as his son usually was now, often waking him up in a flop sweat that was slowly replacing the scent in the mattress with wallowing anguish.
Not even an hour after he had laid down he woke up in one such panic, sweat turning to ice on his brow and down the expanse of his chest, and on instinct he reached for you.
But you weren’t there.
When you leave… her. You left her, Djarin. You left her behind. Left her to die. It’s your own fault.
Agony and despair and guilt were his only bedfellows now, grinding against his ribs and chewing through the lining of his stomach. He reached up for one of the thin, utilitarian blankets that he kept in the mesh netting high above his head, maybe more to wipe the sweat off than for comfort. Comfort had tricked him and told him lies. Comfort had made him weak, made him blind to the insurgence that laid next to him at night. Comfort was not something he deserved.
The threadbare blanket fell down from its spot, bringing something else down with it.
Growling, Did made to throw the fleecy thing away, hoping it would take his painful memories with it, but the smell of you was all over it. Strong as if you were right there with him, as if he held you in his arms again.
He stopped fighting, hugging the desert fabric to his chest and burying his face in it, breathing in the scent of you as if without it he would suffocate and die. He held the air in, feeling it flow through the serrated hole where his heart used to be. The breath in his lungs let itself out, ragged and broken and threatening.
Alone in his little bunk, the best hunter in the parsec swallowed his sobs down, terrified of waking the baby. The scent of you brought him back to that moment, the moment that he’d snapped. You’d been trying to tell him something, but he had been consumed by his anger, blinded by his hatred of the Empire and the threat that it posed to his son and the memories of what it had done to his people. The Empire that you served.
His body shook at the memory of your confession, I am not an Imp! That’s not who I am anymore! You’d shouted, no, roared, concealing the usage of some kind of… interference device that must have been hidden on your person. His visor had flickered and his audio processors blew, nearly deafening him with feedback. The damage done to his helmet was extensive, and like nothing he’d ever seen, the wires and microchips crushed by some phantasmal force. It took days for him to repair, but it was a welcome distraction from his painful memories.
That’s not who I am any more.
Din chewed his lip so hard he tasted blood, sucking it back down as not to stain the cherished blanket. Did I make a mistake? No. An Imp doesn’t change its plasticast… does it? Even… even one as strong and beautiful as her. He breathed the scent of you in deep, curling up on his cot until his knees touched the wall, digging up yet another tainted memory.
The memory of him kneeling before you, of him asking for your hand.
You don’t know me! You’d sobbed, waving around a sword of pure beskar inches from his throat. You don’t know where I’ve been, what I’ve done!
You’d told him right then and there that you weren’t to be trusted, but... it was too late.
He was in love.
Bedazzled in a pair of opalized fangs far too lavish for such a warrior, he’d sank to his knees at your feet, asking for your hand, or your judgement.
You may now ask him to swear his oaths, and should they please you, you may remove his helmet. However, should he dishonor you, you may remove his head.
It was almost unfair, such an ultimatum of love or death.
You broke every single vow you swore to her, Djarin. How are you any better than an Imp? She loved you, and you threw her out like garbage. You purged that love from your life, forsaking the one that you called ner jate’kara, your guiding star. Without her, you will die in the darkness that you have brought upon yourself.
Without love there was only death left for him, though there wasn’t a single being in this parsec that would be capable of killing him…
The brakes had long gone out on his mental trains, and horrifying clarity wrenched his eyes open in the darkness of the bunk. Maybe death would feel better than the heartbreak he was suffering from now. Maybe giving himself up to the cold embrace of the void would feel less damning, less crushing.
To leave this universe on his own volition, and not on the valorous battlefield, was considered the lowest form of dishonor a Mandalorian could endure. Dar’manda. But… that’s what he was. An honorless cur, an oathbreaker. Though his bond to you had been rendered completely fucking worthless, he was still bound to the baby as his father.
Maybe he shouldn’t be.
He couldn’t console Grogu, or even get him to eat most days, and that made him just as worthless as Imp scum. The last bounty lay at the end of the wormhole, a pathetic bail jumper that should take no time at all to capture, and once that was complete and the credits collected maybe…
Maybe he should take Grogu home.
To his people, his real people like he was supposed to do eons ago.
What is it?
It is a foundling. And by Creed, until it is of age or reunited with its own kind, you are as its father.
Din had taken that last line to heart. The last memory he had of his own father still haunted his nightmares, the image of his parent’s eyes glassy with frightened tears as they closed the bunker door over him right before the droid army took their lives.
Decades later an opportunity had been presented to him, an opportunity to give this child a father to grow up with; though the child would likely live for centuries after Din died from either old age or, more likely, a bullet hole. His unknown people had not been good enough to protect the baby, to keep him out of harm's way and out of the grasp of the Empire, but a Mandalorian would be.
Or, so he had told himself.
Somewhere out in the vastness of space were potentially more little green creatures that were missing one of their own, and he had selfishly stolen Grogu away from them to live out his fantasy of being a father.
It wasn’t right, it hadn’t been from the start.
And now he was being punished for it.
One more hunt, one last credit haul to fuel his ship up, and he would return the baby to his people, giving Grogu’s real parents every cent he had left in the most desperate hope that they would forgive him. Forgive him for stealing a child.
Then it would be over.
There would be nothing left for him.
As if there was anything left for him now.
It took a couple of cycles to convince yourself that it wasn’t a nightmare, and even longer to come to terms with your waking reality. Your wayward journey through the stars was over just as quickly as it had begun, and you were right back at square one where you had started.
Inside of you a dull, constant ache had settled in the spot where your heart used to be, bitter and stinging against the anger that was growing in your ribs and the nausea festering in your guts. You couldn’t close your eyes without seeing the rage-twisted face of the man you had thought you loved, thought you trusted; the image worse than any nightmare. You ran through the scenario over and over and over until it drove you to silent, secretive tears.
Years of learning to track, hunt, and kill quarry was only a blip on your mental radar compared to the memories you had made with the Mandalorian and his son during the short time you had known them. You wanted to remember the good things, like the sweet laughter of the child or even the funny, gross-ish noises that Din made when he ate. Anything but those furious, hateful eyes and bared teeth, but that was all you saw whenever you so much as blinked.
Behind your closed eyes was the face of rage, but when your eyes were open it was even harder to convince yourself this was your reality, because you kept seeing… something. A flicker here, a flash of blue there. The feeling that someone was standing next to you when you were in an empty room, as rare as that was now that you were back under the ever-watchful eye of the Admiral.
Though your eyes were playing tricks on you, that wasn’t the strangest thing you’d noticed about the old dragon. Aside from the Admiral there wasn’t a single member of the skeletal crew that you recognized, though almost all of them wore some form of duraplast covering their faces. Every bilgerat you had grown up with had vanished, as well as most of the officers that you’d actually grown to like, including Chief Wellers, the engineering deck staffed with more droids now than people.
It was strange to say the least, and lonely, being left with only one recognizable face that you loathed. The unfamiliar officers glared at you while you were being led up the Wyvern’s wide entryway days ago, making judgemental passes at your hunt-fucked attire. To better match the remaining crew you were stripped of your gear and weapons and given a fresh, beige-and-black uniform that rode up under your arms and chaffed your thighs. And to add insult to injury you had even been given a stupid little hat to top it off. You hated it, but at least it had pockets. Pockets full of secrets.
Wrapped up in the red silk kerchief that you had stolen on Canto Bight, the pair of beloved fossils weighed heavy against your thigh, a piercing reminder of another life. Why are you keeping them? He left you, dumbass. He’s not coming back. True as that may be, you weren’t ready to let go, the wound was still too fresh, too recent. You missed those strange boys from the stars, and the tiny collection of trinkets was all you had left of a life that had actually meant something to you.
A set of beskar ear cuffs, a red pocket square, and a pair of krayt’s teeth.
An entire lifetime sitting in the palms of your hands.
You had one in your hand now, the opalized bone glittering under fluorescent lights while you used it to pick at the undersides of your nails, the priceless gemstones reduced to cleaning tools. Glancing up at the ship's clock you calculated how long you had before Forescythe would come around to ‘wake you’, as if you’d slept at all in the last three days.
The Wyvern’s Tongue was surprisingly still docked at the station you had been abandoned on, a scorching reminder of your trauma every time you passed a porthole or walked the bridge, stuck to the Admiral’s side like he had you on a leash. It was difficult to tell what they were loading the ship up with, but every time you saw the station you caught another massive skiff-load of something with the word HAZARDOUS in big yellow letters being hauled aboard from one of the other starships that had docked nearby.
You heard footsteps outside your spartan quarters, getting closer then fading away. Stormtrooper. Though you weren’t being kept prisoner, exactly, the constant vigil between the Admiral and the troopers left you little-to-no privacy, with only the smallests gaps in their overlaps. The rotation of the guards through the hallways was militant with its timing, and it wouldn’t be much longer before you had all of their routes memorized.
The long-strided gait of the Admiral echoed far down the hallway, and you snuck your fangs into your pockets so you could make yourself presentable. Oh-seven-hundred, on the dot. Barely a courtesy knock was given before the detestable man was letting himself into your room, running through the day’s itinerary after a hastily given ‘Good morning, Sparrow.’
Sparrow. Your deadname was dropped frequently, scalding your steeled ears each time, though rarely was it said with anything short of admiration. You almost wanted to be scolded, and you should have been for dissenting for as long as you did, but the way the Admiral talked to you was friendly, dangerously friendly; and the sweet-talking only made you resent him more.
“Today is the last day we will be docked at Elgon, we’ve nearly finished loading up on the...supplies, and will be in hyperspace soon. This old girl’s been fitted with an updated hyperdrive, so we’ll make the trip to our destination in good time.” You nodded, avoiding conversation. It was best that you spoke to him as little as possible to perpetuate the lie that you had become tone deaf, and you could tell that it drove him insane. Good, fuck your shit to hell. He gestured for you to follow him on his rounds, walking alongside him like an obedient puppy. “Come along, little bird, there is much for us to do today.”
He froze and turned back at you, a pouty face stretched grossly across his gaunt features. “Now now, Sparrow, I know you’re upset that you’re not my comms officer anymore, but you’re home again, you can drop the formalities when we’re in private.” He crossed the short distance to you, placing his hands on your shoulder and digging his thumbs into the deep-set bruises that he couldn’t see. “You don’t have to call me sir.”
You wished you could vomit on command, spew acid like a voxyn and melt the Admiral's face clean off, peel his smile right off of his skull. You knew what he wanted, but you would rather cut off your own tongue than give it to him. But you knew what would happen if he didn’t get what he wanted, your skin crawling at repressed memories. He left you no choice.
“There, doesn’t that sound better? Almost makes me feel like you never even left.”
No it wasn’t better, it was horrid. You forced your face to stay neutral, but behind your eyes you were seething. It must have been the anger welling up inside you that made you see something flicker over the Admiral’s shoulder. Something that definitely wasn’t there.
You were going to get off of this ship if it fucking killed you.
Of course it had to be Tatooine.
The dirtball of a planet lit up the viewport in front of Din, bathing the cockpit in sickly, lemon-yellow light. The Crest slid easily through the thin atmosphere on well-tuned wings, coasting over the infinitely stretching desert until the familiar skyline of Mos Eisley rose into view.
Mando took the old gunship in with rehearsed accuracy, alighting gracefully on the landing pad in the center of hangar 3-5, though not even the roar of the Razor’s engines could drown out the high pitched argument already echoing around the circular space.
“You gotta lotta nerve showing up here again, Mando!” Peli barked, tapping her foot like a disgruntled hare when the Mandalorian started down the ramp. She took a big breath to really launch into a tirade when she saw the foundling, with his huge sad eyes and limply drooping ears. “What… what’s wrong with the baby? Is’ee sick or somethin’?” Din started to hand her the child, but she raised her arms defensively. “Look, he’s cute’n all but I-I don’t need a sick kid on my hands.”
“He’s not sick, he’s... fine.” Din said in a low, level voice, devoid of almost all emotion. Somewhat reluctantly the mechanic took Grogu from him, and the little green baby curled up in a ball of sadness, hiding his head under her chin.
“Alright, if you say so. I don’t mind watchin’ him as long as he don’t upchuck on my jumpsuit.” She glanced past the iron giant’s shoulders, her eyebrows raised almost comically. “Where’s the other one? You get rid of her finally?” Din was still for a moment, then gave a single, slow nod. “Good. Bout time someone turned that Imp in. I’m tellin’ ya, she cheated at sabbac like-”
“How did you know she was an Imp?” Mando asked, suddenly alive.
“I have my ways.” She chided. Din cocked his head vehemently above stiffened shoulders. “Alright alright don’t look at me like that, geez. When she showed up here it was in a Shimian pleasure cruiser, y’know one of those fancy, expensive lookin’ ones. Obviously stolen. She wanted me to take it, even offered to pay me just to take it off’er hands, but I wasn’t gonna fall for that. She had alotta credits too, almost enough to talk me into it, almost! That’s when she pulled out an Imperial officer’s insignia, pure aurodium and easily worth a fortune.”
Peli paused to adjust Grogu, smoothing a wayward ear out of her face. “If she’d’a picked it off a corpse there’s no way she would’a kept it. Nuh-uh, would’a sold that baby the first chance she got. Nah, it meant something to her once, or maybe it was just the last bargaining chip she had, I don’t know.”
The mechanic shrugged. “Either way, I took the token an’ fenced the ship, made alotta cash that day. If she didn’t cheat at sabacc so damn much I’d invite her over more often!” The mechanic snorted a laugh, then a serious look crossed her face. “Hey, um, Mando… you weren’t… you weren’t too rough with her, were ya? When you turned her in? She wasn’t a bad egg, y’know. Bit snarky but- ”
Leather fists creaked at the end of armored wrists, trying to strangle the pain that was constricting his heart. “Can you watch the child or not?”
Surprised by his harsh tone, Peli nodded quickly and watched the Mandalorian spin around on his heel and storm back up the ramp into the Crest without another word. The confused mechanic looked down to Grogu with a playful scowl. “What’s his deal, huh, womp rat?” The child cooed sadly, hiding his face. “Oh, that bad, huh? Wanna tell me about it over some bantha burgers? They’re fresh! C’mon, you look like you’re wasting away, dad not feeding you right?”
With the child’s care secured, Din started his preparations for the hunt. Dressing-down was second nature to him, and going through the motions helped him clear his mind, tune him into his natural state of being. At the armory, he popped fresh cartridges into his blasters, refilled the slug-strap that crossed his chest, and picked out a handful of vibroblades.
He reached into the bottom of the locker, trying to dig out a whetstone when he heard the sweet ringing of ironsong where his wrist armor chimed against a beskar mask. He’d stashed the engagement present as far down in the armory as he could, somewhere that it would remain hidden, somewhere that it couldn’t stare back at him; the eyeless visage glaring daggers of judgement straight through his skull.
Growling, he shoved the slab of steel out of the way, knocking it into something else in the bottom of the armory: Imp guns.
He stopped digging for a moment, cocking his helmet at the collection of grimey, rust-ridden armaments that were dirtying up the bottom of the cabinet. Din pulled one of the standard-issue blasters up into the slanted daylight coming in from the open door, turning it over in his hands. The guns had been collected on Nevarro from a decrepit squad of stormtroopers caught harassing townspeople for information on the missing mandos.
Stormtroopers that you had killed.
Imps killing Imps? That… doesn’t make sense. Why would she kill her own people? He shook his head. Why would they abduct children or blow up planets? Killing their own isn’t that far-fetched. He tossed the blaster back into the locker, covering the beskar faceplate with the rest of the Imp accessories until it was back out of sight.
Finished with arming himself, he took a deep breath and held it in his chest for as long as he could, letting it out slow and steady. He fished the singular bounty fob from his belt, the tracking light flashing with a rhythmic candor. Nearby, but not close. That means they’re probably in town.
This will be easy.
The hour was late, or as late as it could be in a place where ‘day’ and ‘night’ were only concepts represented by the arms of a clock, but it was perfect for what you needed to do. You were dressed and your pockets were stuffed, bag slung over your shoulder exactly as it had been the first time you’d ran away from home. Five fifteen, three minutes before the next pass of guards.
Your plan was flawless. The Wyvern’s labyrinthian hallways and service spaces would lead you to the hangar bay just as they had years ago, it was just a matter of doing so unseen. If you played your cards right you would miss each and every patrol until you could snag another interceptor and get the hell outta dodge. The Wyvern was scheduled to disembark Elgon at oh-seven-hundred, making this your last chance to escape before the ship was swallowed by the stars.
Patting your front pockets where your fangs were hidden, you paced the room, running through the pathway again and again. Straight down the hallway past the guard quarters, left at the galley. Unscrew the loose air vent at the end of the breezeway and take that to the main air shaft ‘til you reach the mid deck, then it’s a straight shot-
You stopped your pacing and blinked, glancing around the room for the source of the voice. When you saw no one, you sighed and rubbed your temples. Not this shit again. The incessant voice of your nightmares had stopped being scary and started being just downright annoying. You’d started to get good at ignoring the sound, though it just loved keeping you up at night.
Who needs sleep, anyway?
Five seventeen. Your shoulders crackled when you rolled them, trying to loosen the bruised tissue that the Mandalorian had put in their joints. Asshole. You were about to start counting seconds when you heard the troopers boots echoing faintly from down the hallway. Right on t-
“Fuck off, spooky.” You hissed to no one in particular. “I’m blowin’ this popsicle stand and ain’t no goddamn ghost gonna keep me here a minute longer.” The bootsteps got louder until they were right outside your door, then continued down the hallway.
Five eighteen on the dot. You waited until the footfalls disappeared entirely, then snuck your way out through the bulkhead door, careful not to make a sound. The long, low-lit corridors echoed with the whirring innards of the Wyvern, but nothing else. Not even your bootsteps.
Much quieter than the ghosts that haunted your dreams, you slinked down the hallway, past the closed door of the guard quarters, hugging the wall by the galley until the five twenty-one patrol passed, then flew to the air vent on the far side of the kitchen.
A knife would have worked better, but a fossil fang was good enough to undo the corner screws that kept the grate in place. You slipped down the air duct right before the five-twenty-three patrol rounded the far corner. Waiting until they passed so they wouldn’t hear you, you belly-crawled down the narrow shaft until you dropped into the main air supply.
Wind rushed around you, delivering precious oxygen to every corner of the ship, but even over the near-howling gales you could still hear Spooky giving you a ration of crap.
Yo̷u̵ ca̴n̷̎not le̸̪̕a̵ve! ̵͒S̷tay̴ ̸̔st̷͐ay ̴s̷t̵̂a̷y̵̾ s̷͂ta̵̍y
“You fucking suck!” You spat, hobbling through the just-too-short-to-stand-up ventilation. “Keep your damn pie hole shut unless you have something useful to-”
You hit the brakes, possibly sacrificing precious time. “Who, Forescythe? He’s gotta get his beauty rest, that old fuck’ll be down at least til-”
N̵͒ò̶, n̴o̸t̶ ̴̓hi̵m, Din.
Ice coagulated in your veins before it was replaced with molten rage. “Oh. Oh ho HO.” You laughed, barely keeping your voice down. “Now… now you’ve done it, Spook. Now I know you’re not real, and I’m just completely batshit! Off my rocker!” You soldiered on, a manic grin on your face. “He is definetly not fucking coming. And if you’d been paying attention you’d know that too.”
“Blow me.” You hustled through the ductwork until you were above the entryway to the hangar. The interceptor bay was on its own air supply in case a magcon failed and vacuumed all the air out, a separate system from the one you were in now. That way the rest of the ship would still have precious oxygen in the event of catastrophe, all you had to do now was get through the door.
The five-thirty-five trooper plodded sleepily along, tilting his egghead back to sip at a steaming mug of caf. What is the point of having a guard rotation if they’re not even awake. Once he’d rounded the corner you set to work on the air vent, quickly spinning the threaded ends of the screws around between your fingers until they clattered to the floor far below.
Carefully you moved the grate out of the way and dropped to the decking in front of the hangar door. Bingo! You dashed to the access panel, slapping your hand on the wide palm reader. Go go go go! The blue laser light slid back and forth, back and forth, lazily reading your fingerprints. Come on!!!
The panel went red. ENTRY DENIED.
“Cocksucker!” You slapped the screen, demanding it take another reading, but instead it flashed another line of text: SPW-7042 PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITION DETECTED, ENTRY BARRED DUE TO HAZARDOUS RHYDONIUM EXPOSURE.
“‘Scuse me?!” you poked at the screen like an geriatric Gungan, “The hell do you mean rhydonium? What fucking lunatic loads a starship up with rhydonium?! Whatever, fuck your rhydonium nonsense you big goddamn hunk of junk, let me through!”
A third line of text ticked across the screen: CONDITION: PREGNANT.
You BARKED you laughed so hard. “Wooooow, that starfuel must be fuckin’ with your circuits, shitscraps, I’ve been chipped since I was thirteen. Ain’t nobody home.” Loud footsteps echoed further down the hallway, times up. Cursing silently, you poked at the screen until the faulty reading cleared, then booked it in the opposite direction of the incoming trooper. Your plan to escape had been thwarted by the Wyvern’s garbage security protocols, and without another way through you were stuck until the ship made it out of hyperspace.
In a week.
Somebody had once equated Mos Eisley to a wretched hive of scum and villainy, and the description couldn’t possibly be more on the nose. A multitude of shady market-goers hustled and bustled down the desert streets, kicking up sand and dust as they went. The Tatooinian bazaar was one of the few places that the Mandalorian blended in, amid the multitude of colorful characters the armored hunter was practically invisible.
Din ambled through the streets, not even trying to be sneaky, though behind his beskar he was suspicious of everyone that passed him by. He wasn’t too concerned about his last bounty, almost nonchalantly making his way to the cantina where the bail jumper would certainly be at with their nose buried in either a deck of cards or a shot of spotchka. Or both.
It was easy to follow the street signs to the local dive bar, making him feel almost lazy with how little effort this would take. Feeling bored almost to the point of pessimism, he took a deep breath, the filtered air bringing with it the smell of street food.
He stopped, holding the air in his lungs before forcing it out quickly, taking another handful of deep sniffs. Though he wasn’t eating much these days, or sleeping, or anything else that humans needed to do in order to function properly, the aroma of whatever was being cooked distracted him until it had his full, undivided attention.
Din followed his nose off of the path he was taking to the cantina, his helmet tilting back slightly with each strong inhalation, taking him down the busy main street until he spotted the source of the familiar spice.
Over a large fire a spit was turning with what looked like oversized root vegetables, slathered in herbs and spices and grilled to perfection. Mando cocked his bucket at the rotisserie, ignoring the chef that was trying to hassle him into buying something, trying to figure out what was so familiar about it.
Then it hit him.
Many moons ago, he’d watched you book it out of the safety of the hangar and dash towards the delicious street food while the Mandalorian began picking off the hunters that were still chasing you. You’d barely even looked up from your meal as the bounty hunter dragged a squirming Trandoshan down an alleyway and slit it’s scaly throat. It wasn’t until a whole drop through hyperspace later that Din had found out that you had bought him one of the grilled veggies as well. Before you even knew his name.
Mando, you never ate your breakfast.
You… got me breakfast?
Yes? I said I would.
Thank you… you’re very kind.
And don’t you forget it!
The memory flooded his synapses with forgotten joy before being replaced with scalding fury. He shook his head, storming off down the busy main road, dead set now on finding his quarry. How dare you let that fucking Imp continue to distract you. Get to work.
The doors to the cantina nearly broke off when the living locomotive plowed through them, barging his way through the sleazy patrons towards the bar. Lively music and inhalant smoke hung heavy in the air, shrouding the far corners of the saloon and the secrets they may have kept hidden.
Din was too annoyed with himself to properly check his surroundings, but whatever, it’s just Mos Eisley, he could whip every fucko in this joint with his hands tied behind his back if it struck his fancy. He strode up to the bartender with an air of disgruntled confidence so strong it rivaled the smoky atmosphere with its potency. The Mandalorian fished the final bounty puck out of his many pockets and slammed it down on the counter, its holoprojection wavering in the heady smog.
“Have you seen this man?” Din snapped at the bartender, pointing at the weasley-looking face of the bail jumper shining above the counter.
The barkeep, a shaggy-looking Toydarian with a torn wing, eyed the beskar clad warrior suspiciously. “Hmm. Can’ta’ say’a have.'' he huffed, clearly lying.
“Are you sure?” Din asked, sliding a couple of credits over the counter. “Maybe this will jog your memory.” The Toydarian snatched the coins off the counter with shovel-clawed fingers, stowing them away on his belt.
He leaned forward, the acrid smell of alcohol and rotting teeth quickly overpowering the stench of tobacco. “Maybe I see’s ‘im, maybes I don’t…” Another couple of credits clinked to the counter and immediately vanished from view. “Ya, I see’s ‘im.” He stroked his thickly bristled chin, seemingly deep in thought. “You know what? You’a seem’a like a good guy, why don’t’a I take’a you to ‘im, hmm? Come come come.”
The creature’s wings flapped unevenly as he rose off the stepstool he was using behind the bar, floating through the cantina towards a door obscured by an ornate drapery. Din started to follow, but stopped, feeling his hackles rise on the back of his neck. Should I actually follow this guy? Maybe it’s a trap. He pulled the fob out from his belt just enough that he could see the blinking light flashing quicker than before. I’ll be fine, let’s just get this over with.
The Toydarian opened the door behind the curtain, and immediately the reek of Spice wafted up from the hidden cellar. Drug den, great. That would make sense, what better way to spend your bail money than Huttese Spice, wasting away in the dark. Cautiously he made his way down the stone steps, the light of the cantina fading away as the door started to close behind him. Before it shut, he knew he heard the barkeep mutter something under his breath.
“Coo ya maya stupa…” You weak minded fool.
Din whirled at the insult, but the door had already slammed shut, echoing loudly through the hollow passageway. Cursing, Mando continued down the stairs into the spice den, the aroma of the coveted drug growing stronger with each step until it was making him nauseous. At the foot of the stairs was a low, poorly lit room, the stucco ceiling strung over with dark purple lanterns that steeped the den in near-darkness. Strewn about the floor, the inebriated lounged on pillows or rugs, or even the bare stone, plumes of narcotic smoke dancing over their shadowy faces, obscuring most from view.
Pulling the fob out again, he hovered the tracking device over each intoxicated body, waiting for the light to change green. His search took him further and further into the basement until he had to switch on his headlamp just to be able to see. At the farthest end of the room the last possible person was slumped against the wall, and the hunter crossed the remaining distance to the limp figure, grabbing them roughly by the shoulder and hauling them into the light.
The dead man’s withered head snapped from its twiggy neck and rolled away into the dark, making Din nearly throw the corpse to the ground, the body rattling in the manacles that chained it to the wall. Startled, he backed away quickly, too quickly, backing into something sharp. He tried to whirl around on his sudden assailant, but the stabbing pain of an addict’s needle immediately pierced through the thick layers of his duraweave and into his flesh.
Reacting on fear more than training, he lashed out wildly, firing his blaster with one hand and his flame thrower with the other. The wall of fire lit the cellar up brighter than daylight, illuminating the alien faces of the falsely-inebriated attackers that had been lying in wait for the barkeep to send another fool into their trap. Fearing for his life, for his son, Din battled his way through the many hands grabbing at him, but even in his fury he started to feel his pulse slowing down, reacting to the heavy dose of Spice he had been pricked with.
The room began to spin, his eyes began to lose sight, and it wasn’t until his skull cracked against the dirty floor that he realized his helmet had been removed in the fray, damning him forever in the eyes of his Creed. As the world began to fade away he felt himself get kicked over onto his face and a pair of cuffs locked around his wrists.
“Skocha-kloonkee, the Imps’a gonna pay’a lot’sa money for you, mister bucket man. Hehehe, should’a known better than’a to go into a spicehole alone.”
Before Din lost consciousness entirely, his spiked mind conjured up an image of you, lounging in the passenger seat with Grogu seated on your lap, watching the stars streak by overhead. He tried to reach you, his arms straining weakly against his fetters, trying to touch the memory of you one last time. You turned to him and smiled, holding the baby’s fat little paw up and waving it at him.
“Beans, say bye-bye to papa.”
The hour was still early, but you were already dressed in your stupid little monkey suit, ears clad in your empty beskar cuffs, pockets full of fabric and fangs; backpack abandoned entirely to avoid suspicion. Today you would be finding out where the Wyvern was destined for when she left port, but you didn’t really care. All that mattered was that the hangar doors would be open during the myriad of activities.
Today was your chance to escape.
*Beep!* Dropping from hyperspace in: one hour.
The navigational warning chimed throughout the expansive corridors of the Wyvern, echoing pragmatically in your spartan room, and you danced a little jig with excitement. Toodle-oo, fuckos! Consider this popsicle stand: blown!
In your abysmally small quarters the fresher area left much to be desired, but the Admiral had at least done you the decency of giving you a private room with it’s own washing space, as tiny as it was. The shower, sink, and potty all shared the same square footage, and the mirror on the wall was barely big enough to fit your face.
You were working on your appearance now, making yourself presentable before father dearest came around. The more you looked like you had accepted your position as crewmate, the less likely he was to notice you go missing when you slipped away. You combed your hair with your fingers, brushing it back as to more easily seat the dumb little hat on your head. Turning away from the mirror, you picked the hat up off the sink and started to put it on, but nearly jumped out of your skin when you saw someone else's eyes staring back at you.
Yo̷u̵ ca̴n̷̎not le̸̪̕a̵ve.
Angrily you stomped your foot, startled by the flickering, faceless apparition that wasn’t physically there when you turned around. “Shit balls of motherfucking hell! I can’t get off‘a this ship fast enough! I can’t get away from you fast enough!” You smushed your hat on your head, glaring at the bluish, indeterminate figure.
“Listen here, you ectoplasmic bitch.” You hissed with fury, stabbing your pointer finger at the warped image in the aluminum. “I don’t know who you are, or where you’re getting your ‘information’ from, but he ain’t coming!” The deep-cut wounds of heartbreak that had started to scar over split open again, spilling fresh sorrow down over your ribs. “I-I don’t need him anyway. I can handle this myself.”
He n̵ee̵d̶s y̵ó̴̧u̶.
“Bullshit!” You stormed away from the mirror while the Wyvern’s antique wiring faulted overhead, making the fluorescent lights flicker and allowing the shadows to reveal the space where the phantom was standing; casting a faint, ghastly aura on the corners of the room. Snatching a fang from your pocket you whirled on the void, brandishing the pointy end at where a throat might be. “Who’d’ya think you are, anyway, huh? Acting like you know what’s best for me? Telling me that Din’s gonna come back? Ain’t no knight-in-shining-beskar coming for me and I’m sick of you telling me otherwise!”
“That’s it! I’ve had it with your games! Your lies! Show yourself, you spookyass motherfucker! Show me who you really are!”
Sweat began to bead on your brow, anger and heartbreak and venom coursing hotly through your veins until it was pulsating behind your eyes. You grabbed the second fang, ready to sink your teeth into the incessant phantom, their edges cutting into the marks they had already put on your palms once before. To any onlookers you would have appeared like a madwoman, brandishing glittering fossils at empty space, your lips pulled back in a snarl, ready to strike.
“I said show yourself!”
Out went the lights.
And in came the ghosts.
Though the bulbs overhead had blacked out completely, the room was radiating with the light of the sudden crowd, the masses of shimmering specters appearing to go on endlessly throughout a space bigger than your room, bigger even than the Wyvern herself, stretching well beyond the edges of infinity. Farther and farther and farther until your eyes couldn’t distinguish them anymore.
There. Were. Billions.
You blinked fast, your breath catching in your lungs until you were nearly hyperventilating, feeling claustrophobic amid the incorporeal congregation. The sweat on your brow turned to ice, your eyes darting between every face, every person, every body, seeing them clearly for the first time.
Some of them wore elaborate robes, some of them were dressed like peasants, and even more distressing were a collection of beskar plated warriors, their visors glowing with otherworldly light. There were species you were familiar with, and many many more that you weren’t. Some of them were even wearing white duraplast, their eggshells cracked to reveal the glowing eyes underneath.
Some of them you recognized.
“We are the victims of the Empire. The citizens of Alderaan, of Jedha, Scarif, Mandalore and countless others. The Republic we once served turned its back on us, and then its weapons, eradicating the very people that brought it into being.”
Many voices spoke at once, the cacophony of it resonating in your skull until you were clawing at your ears, nearly dropping your impromptu daggers to protect yourself from the skull-splitting noise.
“You must stop it from happening again, but you can not do so alone. Only with your soulmate at your side will you save the people from the vindication of the Empire.”
Hot tears stung at your eyes, flooding out from a place of fear and anger. “Soulmate? SOULMATE?! Bullshit! Bullshit bulllshit bullshit! Din is not my soulmate, if he was then he wouldn’t have left me here rot! Dumped me on the Empire’s front fucking door like yesterday’s garbage! Not that I can even blame him anymore, who could ever love an Imp? We are monsters!”
“You are not an Imp, Tra’laar. You are something far greater than they will ever be.”
The sound of your gifted name hurt in your chest more than the broiling hatred that bubbled underneath your broken heart, taking you down to your knees. In front of you, a pair of specters knelt down to your level, a man and a woman in intricately embroidered red robes. The woman’s eyes were warm and adoring, and the way her cheeks rolled high almost made you feel calm, maybe even loved. The man’s aquiline nose stood out beautifully above his radiant smile, giving you the impression that this was a man who would go to the ends of the galaxy for those he loved.
They looked hauntingly familiar.
The woman reached for your hand, and you felt her. You felt her holding you, as if she were really there, her dainty fingers brushing over where the fang was biting into your skin, fading away the pain. Tears welled up in her eyes, but she was still smiling, looking at you like someone seeing the stars for the very first time.
“You are Hope Incarnate.”
You bolted upright from your little cot, gasping for air until your throat was so dry it felt like fire. Sweat streaked over your brow and down the dip of your spine, soaking the sheets under you. With wild, bloodshot eyes you searched around your closet-sized room for any trace of the phantoms, but even in the dim night light you could tell you were alone. Angry with yourself, you slammed a fist into the steel wall, furious that you had been duped by hyperspace yet again.
The pain of striking the unforgiving hull stung more than you thought it should. Flipping on the lights, you gasped when you looked at your palms, the healed krayt bites red with fresh blood. It had been days since you sliced your palms on their edges, pounding on the bottom of the Razor Crests ramp, and the skin had long since closed up. But now it was as fresh as the day they had been cut, weeping crimson.
I have got to get off of this ship.
It took the remainder of the hour to compose yourself, getting out of your sweat-soaked pajamas and tending to your wounds; but at least Spooky and Friends let you be. Your mind replayed the omen on repeat until you were certain that you had completely lost your mind. No such thing as ghosts. You are tired, you are stressed, and you are completely absolutely one hundred percent bonkers. Fuck this entire noise.
Dressed in your stupid little outfit, for real this time, you sat at the edge of your bed until the the Wyvern’s navigational warning sounded again, giving you only a moment before the ship was dropped out of hyperspace. Eager to get the fuck out, you ran out of your room so quickly that you nearly smashed into the Admiral as he was coming around. “Ah, good morning, Sparrow. I see you’re eager to start the day. Come, I need you on the bridge.”
Obediently you followed along behind Forescythe without a word, letting the imposing captain carve a swath through the multitude of scurrying crewmates as you made your way to the flight deck. When the blast doors opened on the wide, triangular space, your eyes went right over the heads of the officers and out the window to the bright yellow world hanging beneath the ship.
“Is that… Is that Tatooine?”
“How very observant of you. Yes, it is indeed, though it won’t be for much longer.”
Whispers hissed at your eardrums, you must stop it from happening again. “What do you mean?”
The Admiral chuckled, the sound grating like nails on chalkboard. “It’s been hard keeping this secret from you, little bird, but you know how much I love surprises! Oh, look, here comes the rest of the fleet.” He nodded towards the transparisteel as another, smaller starcruiser came into view. Then another, and another, and another until there were at least a dozen titanium daggers hovering in a semi-circle that spanned out on either side of the Wyvern like wings.
“The Empire has been busy since you left,” he scolded, folding his arms behind his back like some kind of skeletal vulture. “The Death Star is obsolete, though the mere idea of a supermassive planet destroyer was folly from the beginning, taking decades to build and almost as long to fire. No more, now we can vaporize an entire world with just one single ship.” He gestured with a flourish, blind to the color draining from your face. “The Wyvern will be at the forefront of the Empire’s destructive capabilities, and lucky you, you will have the honor of a front row seat. What a pity it is that you cannot serenade Tatooine’s demise with one of your songs.”
Stinging bile crept up your throat, threatening to send you into a panic. “Th-there’s people down there. How can you justify killing so many innocents?”
Forecythe scoffed, “Innocents?! On that dirtball of a planet? Inconceivable. The Maker will thank us for wiping it off of the face-” His monologue was interrupted by a hailing beacon lighting up on the communication officer's holodeck. The officer in your old seat answered the incoming transmission, talking to whoever was on the other line through their headset.
“Sir, they’ve located the target.”
“Excellent! And on Tatooine, no less. How ironic. Have the target transported to the receiving hangar so we may make their acquaintance.”
You’d long since become numb to the Admiral’s prattling, your mind racing to find a way to stop Tatooine from being wiped off the map. The ugly little hunk of rock had done you no favors, but that wasn’t an excuse to add more names to the list of dead. You were startled when you were addressed again.
“Come along, little bird, I have a gift for you.” Forescythe said with a crooked smile. If he was trying to be genuine, the effect was entirely lost upon you, his gummy smile reminding you of the forgotten captain’s corpse you’d discovered on Endor. I don’t want anything from you, monster. You flashed him a pair of raised eyebrows in response, and he turned on his heel, waving for you to follow. Whatever the distraction was would at least buy you some time.
You dutifully walked alongside the Admiral through the ship towards the balcony that oversaw the receiving bay. The hangar was swarming with troopers and officers alike, eagerly anticipating the transport unit that was easing itself through the magcon field. The bloated tick of a ship billowed with steam as its landing gear deployed, and soon the short access ramp was angling to the ground. Out first stepped a pair of troopers, their guns drawn on the open door.
Then, out stepped a man.
He was cuffed with his arms behind his back, escorted by another pair of troopers manhandling him down the ramp. Blood poured freely from a wound on his scalp, matting his dark brown curls and pooling in the exposed recess of his eyes. His gait was unsteady, though he was still futilely trying to wrest himself free of the troopers as they marched him through the hangar. You nearly puked your heart out at the sight.
The Admiral laughed proudly, “They’ve caught that damned mando that everyone’s been on about, though I’m not entirely sure why Moff Gideon struggled so much to catch him, or even what he wanted from such a loathsome creature. There’s nothing of value on him except maybe his armor.” A vile glint sparked in the man’s eyes. “It will be so much fun to peel it off.”
You barely heard his words over the sound of your heartbeat thundering violently through your ears. No.. no no no no no. Another egghead disembarked from the transport, carrying Din’s helmet like an empty garbage can. You swallowed around the cotton growing in your mouth, fumbling for words. “They took his helmet off...”
“Indeed. Being uncrowned is the greatest dishonor you can inflict on one of those wretched things, it renders them worse than dead in the eyes of their cult. After we remove Tatooine from the sky we should-”
“Before.” You interrupted, your voice cold and level, far cry from the hurricane of turmoil you were choking down. “Before we attack Tatooine. I want... I want to tear his armor off, and then I want him to watch. As punishment for stealing my ship.”
The Admiral’s wicked grin sent shivers down your spine, and you knew your lie had taken root. “Very well! Oh Sparrow, it’s so good to have you back aboard. I’d always wondered if you’d taken after me.” Disgust welled up in your guts at the pride beaming off the vile man, but at least you were going to get close to Din.
And do… what, exactly?
The tall man leaned over the balcony railing, shouting down at the guards. “Take the prisoner to the bridge, and make him… comfortable. Wouldn’t want him to miss the show!” Behind you Forescythe turned on his heel and set off back towards the bridge, and you cast a wary glance down at the prisoner below. Din’s bloody head hung limpy, but when it swung your way his blackened eyes caught you, glaring daggers through your soul before one of the guards cold-clocked him between his shoulder blades.
If Din’s here then where’s Grogu? You watched the transport unit, scanning for signs of life, but it appeared to be empty. Ok, maybe they didn’t get him. Your already sickened heart did a violent backflip in your chest, or maybe they did and took him somewhere else, or worse, left him for dead. Din and the guards disappeared through a sliding bulkhead, and you sprang to life to hurry in the Admiral’s footsteps.
When you arrived at the bridge, the stormtroopers had already magnetized Din’s cuffed wrists to the wall, dangling him just far enough off the floor that he couldn’t support his weight properly with his legs. The blood clouding his eyes dripped down the length of his nose and over his lips, staining his teeth crimson. His chest heaved with ragged breaths, hinting at a broken rib or two; but worst of all were his eyes. Bared for all to see, violating his Creed with every Imperial gaze that fell on his uncovered face, and yet the pools of bloodied earth were locked to only one other pair.
“Looks like he remembers you.” Forescythe said with a villainous laugh, striding slowly over to the manacled Mandalorian. “My my, would you look at him, he is quite impressive, or at least he was”. The Admiral hovered just out of Din’s kicking range, cocking his head like a raptor eyeing a weak little mouse. “See this marking?” he said, pointing a bony finger at the mudhorn on Din’s pauldron. “They only get these when they become clan leaders. This one’s probably got a whole nest somewhere, breeding like rats. Is that what Moff Gideon was after, hmm? The rest of your bucket headed zealots?”
Din growled, the timbre of it so low and threatening you felt a chill run down your spine. He shouldn’t be here. Though you were still furious with him for what he did to you, you knew this wasn’t a fate that he deserved. Doesn’t he though? Doesn’t he deserve exactly what he did to me? Bile burned in the back of your throat. No, nobody deserves this, not even him.
Forescythe chuckled darkly at the Mandalorian’s weak show of bravado. “I was there, you know, when they gave the order to eviscerate that pathetic excuse for a planet.” Yellowed teeth shined under cold, soulless eyes in a smile that could freeze blood. “I was one of the first commanders to get to… test out the kyber crystal technology that eventually led to the creation of the Death Star. They made me a captain for it, commissioned a Corellian ship for me and everything.” He leaned in close to Din, grinning wickedly at the warrior’s seething anger. “Doesn’t Mandalore look so pretty now, all turned to glass?”
The admiral scoffed at the searing insult, nodding to one of the guards. An electric prod crackled to life in the trooper’s grip before it was being stabbed into Din’s unarmored side, making him cry out in pain.
“No!” You shrieked, immediately covering your incriminating piehole. Fuck.
Forescythe glanced up at the sputtering lights, then slowly, maliciously down to you. He scrutinized you a moment, then readdressed the guard, not taking his eyes away from your failing facade.
-czzt cRaCK cRAcK CRACK!!-
You ground your molars into paste trying to keep yourself from screaming, but tears pricking in the corners of your eyes gave away your distress, and when the Admiral signaled the guard a third time it became unbearable.
“Stop it!” You roared through snarling teeth, ignoring the faulty lighting and the feel of the ship quake underneath you.
Forescythe’s eyes lit up like fireworks. “I knew it.” he hissed, his lips curling upwards in a serpentis sneer. “I knew that voice of yours was special, but I never realized you needed a catalyst in order to unlock your potential. Does this... upset you?” He snapped his fingers at the guard, sending another bolt of electricity through Din’s body and bringing more angry tears to your eyes.
“Stop hurting him! I’ll.. I’ll do whatever you want just let him go!” You yanked the cuffs off of your ears and cast them on the floor, the sound of beskar on durasteel jingling like loose change. “I’ll… I’ll sing. Whatever you want, just stop hurting him!”
“Oh, no... we’re well past that now, little bird.” Forescythe loomed over you, an evil glint in his eye. “Now that I know I didn’t waste all those years training your voice, we’re going to take it for a little spin.”
Little miss well-behaved evaporated from your roster of characters, replaced with the big bad bitch you knew and loved. “I’m not doing a goddamn thing. I don’t know what you’re on about, you old shitbag, but you don’t control me. I’m not afraid of you!” you growled, snarling like a rabid nexu.
“That’s no way to talk to your superior officer, bilgerat.” Boney fingers snatched you by the collar of your uniform. “You think I pulled you from the scuppers because of your pretty little songs? No, Sparrow, I knew there was more to you than that. I knew it when I heard your voice through three whole decks of durasteel, and I knew it when you tried to rip your own ears off after we blew up Alderaan.” Forescythe hauled you to him, breathing gross old-man breath in your face. “You didn’t just watch it get erased from the maps, you felt it die. You felt it through the Force.”
You spat in his face, earning yourself a stinging backhand. “Ungrateful brat. I made you, I can unmake you.” The ship quaked again beneath your feet, and the lights in the helm went off, turning the wide, triangular space red under the emergency lights. “That’s it, you feel it again now, don’t you?” The dark crimson lights sank shadows under the Admiral’s eyes, highlighting the bones of his skull, confronting you with the grinning face of death.
From behind the collection of stormtroopers a weak, grating voice called out. “L-let… let her… go…” Din called weakly before he was electrocuted again.
“I said stop hurting him!” You barked, your words so steeped in anger they almost weren’t your own, like someone else was speaking through you.
Forescythe laughed, villainous and wicked. “There it is! Yes! Does that mando mean something to you, girl?”
“Go t̶o he̵ll!” Your voice no longer belonged to you, it was the voice of your nightmares, many tongues speaking at once, spewing toxically from your throat. Around you the air became thick with energy, making the hair on your arms stand on end.
“Now now, Sparrow, is that any way to talk to your father?”
“You are n̸͈͆ȏ̷̪ť̶ my FÀ̷̜TH̵E̴͘R!” The energy in the air became palpable, tangible, burning through your veins and setting your fingertips ablaze with crackling firepower. The Admiral reeled from the burn, dropping your collar and backing away from you with confused, frightened eyes. You clenched your fists so hard your nails dug into the skin of your palms, drawing blood from the marks of the krayt’s teeth. “And that is n̸͈͆ȏ̷̪t my n̶a̷m̸e̵.”
Fear was replaced with undeserving pride, spreading a pearly grin across Forescythe’s gaunt, haunting visage. “That’s it! That’s it, Sparrow! Look at yourself! Look at your hands!” he screamed, pointing at the blisters that were starting to form along your arms. “There is power within you! Let me help you discover it! Help you use it to raise the Empire to its former glory!” He stretched a claw-like hand to you, “Join me, Sparrow, and together we will rule the entire galaxy!”
“THAT IS N̴̻̑O̶T̵̒ ̶M̸̆Y̴ N̷À̷̜M̶E̵!” You screamed, the fury of a thousand voices knocking Forescythe and the guards down to the unsteady ground and sending the officers running for cover. The burning in your fingertips turned to raw power, sparking lightning from your hands. Electricity danced over the metal decking, snapping at the Admiral’s frantic heels like vicious, bloodthirsty dogs. You didn’t see the firepower you were generating, your eyes burning with hateful tears.
You crossed the room on vengeful steps to where the Wyvern’s captain was scrambling to find his footing, snaps of plasmatic energy crackling underfoot with each stride. You hefted the vile man up the wall by his neck until his feet were off the ground, choking and squirming in your grip.
“What’s wrong, captain?” You purred with as much benevolence as an abused circus tiger. “Are you trying to sing for me? I bet your voice sounds so prĕ̴tty̵͝. Go on then, sing me a song.” Terror shined in the whites of his eyes, blood oozing from their corners and out of his ears, dripping hotly over where your fists closed around his throat.
“You can not hide who you are, Sparrow, you’ll always be a worthless scupperbrat without my help. You need me.”
You thrashed Forescythe against one of the consoles, crushing his windpipe under your voltaic claws. “I'm not going to TELL YOU Ā̷̡̲̤̊͒G̶̓A̶̛̫I̶N̵̳̓̋!!.” You could feel his pulse under your fingertips, quick like a frightened rabbit caught in the claws of a mighty, savage beast.
And it felt good.
Energy crackled over his skin where your hands met his flesh, making him writhe in pain from the scorching burn. Under your cataclysmic deathgrip you felt the man laugh, ugly, strained belts of air that made the boiling in your blood rage like molten lava. “Pray tell then, bilgerat, who do you think you are?”
You bared your teeth and smiled, dangerous and threatening. You inhaled, bringing every ounce of air in the room into your tormented lungs, ready to breathe dragonfire.
Hate and anger flowed through you in a pyroclast of scorn, erupting from your wicked maw in a firestorm of blinding energy. Your banshee screech overpowered Forescythe’s own terrified screams, but his terror was short lived as the force of your rage started to make the flesh of his face quiver, ripple, and tear until it was peeling off, revealing meat, then bone.
When only a ghastly skull was staring back at you did you silence your scream, dropping the Admiral’s faceless corpse to the floor. You wheeled back around in time for one of the rising stormtroopers to goad you with the electric prod, making you wail. The pained cry tore at the raw meat of your throat until your voice evaporated entirely, taking your siren strength with it. You stole a krayt fang from your pocket and drove it upwards into the soft spot at the edge of the trooper’s helmet, carving downward and splitting their jugular wide open.
Finding the other fang you lashed out with reckless fury, sinking your teeth into the meat of the second guard, blood splashing out over your hands. The third guard didn’t stand a chance as they were caught in your whirlwind of carnage, their blood spilling to the floor with that of their crewmates.
Surrounded by your kills, breath heaving in your chest, you turned your enraged eyes on the man still chained to the wall. Din’s bootheels scooted out from under him, struggling to get away from the blood splattered banshee that was glaring him down.
He looked so helpless, so… vulnerable. You remembered his hateful words, his malicious actions, the heartbreak that was still so fresh and stinging in your chest.
The coppery tang of blood hung heavy in the air, burning in your nose and fueling the rage that surged through your veins. He left you. He left you for dead. He took everything from you. He took your heart and your home…
And your son.
“Where is he?” You seethed, numb to the hot splashes of blood pouring over your hands, from both your killstreak and the charred gashes that streaked down the length of your forearms where the meat of your flesh had melded with the duraweave of your uniform.
“S-safe. He’s safe.” Din stammered, “What… what are you?” His bloodied brow furrowed, “What’s wrong with your eyes?!”
Confused, you glanced at his chestplate where two white-blue lights were shining back at you, and realized with horror that it was your own reflection. The world around you finally started to sink in: the dark red lights, the still-warm corpses, the splatter of viscera on the console that had once been the Admiral’s face.
The klaxon blaring overhead.
Whatever phantom force you wielded dissipated like mist, nearly taking you to your knees as it left. You fell more than leaned over Din to his cuffs, fumbling with the unlocking mechanism until he was freed. “Don’t think this m-means that… that I… woo, that I forgive you, ya big fuckin’ jerk.” You were starting to feel woozy, making you wonder if this was how Grogu felt whenever he used his funky baby powers. “The ships got… got some kinda weapon on it, ‘nother planet popper. I gotta fi-fi-find some way to… to stop it.”
“The hell do you mean ‘popper’?
You flailed your arms around in a grand gesture, sending droplets of scarlet flying “Kaboom!”
“Fuck! Grogu’s down there! Millions of people are down there!”
“Yeah, no shit.”
Din tried to wipe the blood that had pooled around his eyes with the back of one armored hand, but the beskar did little to help clear it away. You grumbled and scooted closer on your knees, trading the fangs for the red silk cloth in your pocket and going right for his orbits. He recoiled from your touch, and instinctively you hissed at him to hold still. Reluctantly, he obeyed, watching you with distrust until he spotted what was in your hand.
“You kept that?”
Shrugging, you dabbed harshly around his eyes until they were as clear as you could get them. “Kept a lotta things.” The talking and the cleaning was making you exhausted, and you sank back on your haunches, nearly falling over into the sprawling pool of blood.
Din caught you before you fell, holding you gently, but even his careful touch burned like acid on your rendered flesh. In the corner of your eye you caught his brows fly high when he clocked your wounds, his breath catching when he saw the whitish tint of bone. “You need bacta...”
You ignored him, glancing around the room for a solution to your predicament when one presented itself to you. Under the smear of gore that had been belittling you just moments prior, the ruined console of the main power controls flashed a desperate warning:
WARNING, RHYDONIUM COOLING CELLS OFFLINE. DANGER! UNSTABLE TEMPERATURES DETECTED!
Oh the irony. Sparks danced from the shattered screen, raining down over the bloodied skull of the murdered captain and catching in his empty sockets, glaring back at you. You forced a laugh. “That’s what you get for tryna mess with me, you sick fuck! Gonna blow your own ratsnest sky high!” Your laughter knocked you off your haunches and into Din’s arms, leaning on him heavily.
Looking up at him you smiled, though his face was a disaster, fear and blood etched into his handsome features. It befuddled you that you could still see his face. “Where’s your bucket?”
Din scoffed, “This entire ship saw me without it, not to mention the shitheads on Tatooine that sold me out. I can’t put it back on.”
“There won’t be anyone left alive to remember your face after the ship blows. How’s that for a loophole, eh?” He scrutinized you a moment, swallowed hard, then nodded. It took a great deal of effort for him to pull both himself and your boneless body up from the floor, and even more strength to stumble over to where his helmet had been stashed, sinking the metal over his head and pocketing the beskar cuffs that laid close by.
The impenetrable beskar slid into place not a moment too soon, his visor flickering to life right as the blast doors to the bridge slid wide, opening on a platoon of troopers.
The eggheads fired with reckless abandon into the delicate consoles of the bridge, aiming for the malnourished Mandalorian and his bloodrending banshee. Even in such a sad state, Din was still faster, whirling you behind his blaster-proof body and setting off the salvo of whistling birds from his vambrace; obliterating each and every Imp in sight.
Hugged to his chest, you blinked at the pile of corpses, then glared at the one who had slain them. “Why don’t you use that fucker more often?”
Din ignored you and blasted the door controls apart, locking the two of you in before dragging you both over to one of the escape pods that dotted the prow. Behind your fleeing duo the console was flashing even faster:
WARNING, RHYDONIUM COOLING CELLS OFFLINE. EXPLOSION IMMINENT! DANGER!
Din set you carefully on your own two feet so he could pry the door to the escape hatch open. The little, single-seated pod was just barely big enough to fit the Mandalorian as he backed into it, his arms outstretched to take you.
You started to squeeze in with him when something out the window caught your eye, and your heart sank through your boots at the harsh reminder that Forescythe had been named Admiral because he now controlled a fleet. The dozen or so starships hovered ominously on either side of the Wyvern, their points aimed right towards Tatooine, poised to make the killing blow.
Din growled at you “Come on, you’ll fit. We gotta go before this damn thing blows!”
You turned up to him slowly with glassy eyes. “I… can’t. The other ships…”
“No!!” you screamed, dimming the lights. “If I don’t do something about them then Tatooine is still lost!” You pushed away from him and stumbled back through the bridge, your eyes going from console to console until you spotted the flashing light on the comms station. Hand-over-hand you dragged yourself over to your once-prestigious seat, flopping down in the familiar chair and slamming the frequency wide open.
“Come in Wyvern, this is Jabberwocky, what’s your emergency, over?”
“The weapon’s unstable! I repeat! The weapon is unstable! Abort mission! Abort mission! Scramble all ships! I repeat! Scramble all ships!!”
“Who the hell are you? You’re not the Admiral!”
“The Admiral is dead, the damn rhydonium has been leaking radiation into the water supply and the fuel lines! The damn thing’s gonna blow! Save yourselves!”
“Seriously?! I mean, roger! Aborting mission!” You watched with a big, shit-eating grin on your face as the surrounding ships winked out of existence, disappearing into hyperspace. The rhydonium’s warning screen was flashing faster than a bounty fob now, and it wouldn’t be long before it blew the old dragon sky high.
“Ok, let’s go, please!” Din pleaded, trying to urge you to the escape pod. You leaned back heavily in the officer’s chair, the edges of your sight going dark as exsanguination took its toll. Raising your arm, you watched with a silly look on your face while you flexed your fingers, the tendons squirming over your exposed bones beneath what was left of your char broiled flesh. Most disgustingly of all was the shiny piece of metal on your palm, the Admiral’s aurodium insignia lodged in the sundered krayt bite, fused to your flesh from the heat of your rage.
“Why… why are you even still here? Go on, escape!” You sneered at him, still angry.
“I’m not going to make the same mistake twice,” he said, crossing the room with his hand stuffed under his ribs, trying to hold himself together. “I’m not leaving you behind again.”
You strained a laugh, the noise grating in your shriveled throat. “Y’don’t need me, y’made that perfectly fuckin’ clear. Leave me to die with the rest of the scum. Besides.” You chuckled, raising your withered hand so the emergency lights danced over the gold plating your palm. “I’m the captain now, and the captain should go down with the ship.”
There was nothing left for you outside of the Wyvern anyway, maybe it was time for you to join Spooky and Friends for good. The Empire would surely hunt you down for your crimes, an even more vehement organization than the Guild, and that would only put Din and Grogu in even more danger than they had been when they still called you family. On a dragon you had risen to the stars, how fitting it would be that on a dragon would you leave them. Poetic, really.
Din cast a worried glance at the rhydonium thermometer. “I’ll carry you if I have to.”
Tilting your head back until your skull met the headrest, you relaxed and closed your eyes, feeling the hot drip drip drip of blood running down your arms and pooling at your feet. “Why bother? Why do you even care what happens to me?”
With enormous difficulty he pulled his helmet back off, leaning in close to you. You flinched when two armor plated hands came up under your face, gently lifting you by your chin until you were met with his eyes. Even in the crimson-soaked lights his enormous honeywells shined with more depth than any ocean, glittering with stars.
“Because I still lo-”
Somewhere in the bowels of the ship the overheated ore blew its top, shearing the ship in twain. Din was nearly thrown to the ground from the force of the explosion, nearly dropping his helmet to hold on tightly to the arm rests of your chair. He threw the bucket haphazardly back over his head and scooped you into his arms, roaring in your ears about how stubborn you were sometimes. Under his boots the dying dragon began to angle towards the planet below, starting her final journey to meet the ground.
Din hustled to the escape pod, backing into it and hugging you to his chest, pressing you against the hexagonal divot in his beskar that you missed so much. The little hatch slid closed, sliding over your backside and squishing you up against the Mandalorian. Your guts did a nasty flip-flop as you were launched into space, dropping you towards the planet below.
Before you lost consciousness, whether from the blood loss or the inertia, or just plain old exhaustion, you squinted out the tiny transparisteel window at the ship you’d left behind. The front half of the Wyvern’s Tongue was just starting to break the atmosphere, a colossal blade pointed straight at Tatooine's sprawling desert landscape, breaking apart as it lost the battle with the desert planet’s robust sky.
Breaking the sound barrier, dragonfire erupted around its bow as it tore through the dusty air, sending tendrils of flame fanning in its wake. It was falling fast, but the sheer size of it made it appear to be sinking in slow motion, almost like a dream.
Maybe it was a dream, you thought as you felt the plated arms of your podmate tighten around you, his gloved hands burying into your hair as you plummeted towards terra firma. There was a good chance you wouldn’t survive landing, it was an Imperial built shuttle after all, but at least you wouldn’t die alone.
The roar of atmospheric reentry drowned out any words you may have said to each other, any last words of wisdom or heartfelt apologies would be forever lost to the winds of time, so you wrapped your arms around his waist and hugged him back; a final act of forgiveness before the darkness took you.
Far away from the sinking ship, the tiny capsule skittered over the sand dunes like one would skip a stone over a lake, bouncing over the sand until it lodged itself in the side of a hill. The hatch door launched off, sliding away from the two bodies it had protected. Raising his bucket, Din watched as the Wyvern met the ground, the enormous beast of the ship blocking out the suns as it crumpled into the dunes. Dragonfire erupted around the monstrosity, consuming it in a column of flame and ash that whipped up a sandstorm to rival any fallout.
Against his chest plate you laid limply, making it difficult for the Mandalorian to roll you underneath his body. He boxed you in with his arms and legs, putting himself between you and the oncoming sandstorm as it bore down on your pod. Gritting his teeth behind the visor, he curled over top of you while the deadly storm roared overhead, determined to keep you safe if it was the last thing he did.
The desert sands whipped over his back, flinging superheated shrapnel and massive chunks of durasteel flying as if they were toys. Din held your body to his, just waiting for the fallout to crush you both dead, or the sands to blow you away; but an eternity later the storm passed, leaving you both unharmed. Exhausted and in agony, the Mandalorian shook the sand from his back and hauled your near-lifeless body from the newly carved dune, brushing the dirt from your face. “Tra’laar? Are you ok? Can you hear me?”
He tugged a glove off and stuffed his fingers up under your jaw, hunting for a pulse. Your heartbeat was weak, but steadfast, and he sighed heavily with relief. “This is all my fault. I never should have left you behind, cyare! Please… please wake up!” Kneeling over you, he ran his hand down your face, gently brushing away the grit stuck to your skin. When you still didn’t respond he dug his arms under you and hauled himself to his feet, ignoring the feel of his broken ribs grinding together. With you in his arms for what he knew could be the last time, he set off across the dunes towards the city on the horizon.
A warm desert breeze passed softly over you, the first herald of the Tatooinian dawn coming up over the mountains to burn away the mist that hung in the air. It felt nice on your skin, gentle and promising as the new day. It would be so nice to lie like this forever, eyes closed, stretched out and comfortable, basking in the double sunlight. Your eyelids were so heavy, but as much as you would like to laze about til the stars fell down, you knew you had slept long enough.
Slowly, achingly slowly you started to pry your lids open, the world around you blurry and faded. Turning your head was a chore, and was accomplished more through the aid of gravity than muscle. At your side you saw two blurry figures, their features distorted by the haze behind your eyes, but to you they looked like a man and a woman, both wearing intricate red robes like the people in your premonitions.
The familiar lady leaned over you, gently brushing a stray lock of hair from your sticky brow. Her radiant smile shined with love and adoration, rivaling the warmth of the twin suns themselves. When she spoke, her voice seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once, as if it was already in your ears.
It’s time to wake up now, Starsong. He’s waiting for you.
The stranger smiled and glanced over at the man who was sitting down in a little chair next to whatever you were laying on. You followed his eyes to where he was holding your hand, quizzically furrowing your brow at his forwardness and giving yourself a headache that made you squeeze your eyes shut.
When you opened them again, the man in the chair was replaced by a different character, this one dressed head to toe in beskar and bandoliers, his helmeted head tilted forward until it was resting on his chest plate, slowly rising and falling in time with his breath. Even in his sleep he was drawing languid circles on your palm with his thumb, his fingers twitching slightly to hold yours closer.
The fingers on the back of your hand squeezed tight as he bolted upright, nearly jumping out of his seat and frightening the attending nurse droid. “Hey, you’re awake! Are you alright? How are you feeling?” The Mandalorian asked frantically, taking your bandaged hand in both of his and clutching it to his chest.
“What… what’dya mean how am I fe- oh.” You looked down at yourself, finding the long glowing tubes of bacta needles sticking from your other arm between long strips of gauze, making you immediately nauseous. A leather gloved hand came up and caught your face, pulling you back over to meet his infinitely black visor.
“It’s ok, cyar’ika, nothing’s missing, just keep your eyes on me. You were in bad shape when I got you here, but the infirmary had e-bacta infusions on hand. You’re healing up well! They were able to remove the metal piece from your hand and debride the duraweave from your burns, and most of the skin on your arms has already grown-”
“Ok ok ok enough!” you grumbled, starting to feel sick. You leaned back against the cot, relaxing into the feel of a gentle hand brushing over your cheek and down the side of your neck. Din’s caresses made you hum from his comfort, but your hums soon turned to growls. “Din, why am I still alive? I should have gone down with the ship.”
The hands withdrew immediately back to the lap of their owner. “I… I couldn’t let you.”
Your lips pulled back to bare your teeth, adding fresh agony to your growing migraine. “Fuck do you mean couldn’t let me, You don’t get to ‘let me’ do anything! How dare you act like you care!” You hissed with a sting in your voice. “Why do you even give a shit what happens to me?”
“Because!” He barked, fidgeting with his gloves, watching his own yellow tips go round while he twiddled his thumbs, searching for the right words to say. “Because I… because Grogu would never forgive me if I had let you die.”
Something about that last line made your heart ache, maybe it was the reminder of losing your son, or maybe it was the way that Din was clearly trying to hide deeper feelings. “I’m surprised he’s not in here, wouldn’t have to waste credits on bacta then.”
“He tried to heal you, but something about your wounds wouldn’t let him. I-I can’t explain it but… but he tried.” Din’s helmet snapped away from you, fixating on something of interest on the bare stucco wall. “He tried and tried until he passed out, then woke up and tried again. It was too much for him, I-I c-couldn’t keep letting him run himself dry.” Din sighed, letting his shoulders droop. “...He misses you.”
Sorrow and fury nearly broke the circuits of the heart monitor, summoning the nurse droid to come check your lines. You ignored the fussing robot to interrogate the Mandalorian further. “Why? Didn’t you tell him I’m a traitor? Didn’t you explain to him that I’m a lying, filthy Imp?” Your teeth flashed in a snarl. “Didn’t you tell him I’m not part of your clan anymore?”
Din’s laugh startled you, “The day that boy listens to me is the day the universe collapses in on itself. You’re the only one he ever listened to.” Fidgety hands toyed with the strap that crossed over the widest plate of beskar, fingers stopping at each slug to set them perfectly in line as if they weren’t already. “I can’t get him to eat, or sleep, it’s almost like I’m not even there. He… he cries nonstop, especially when he’s looking for you...”
You blinked at the itching in the corners of your eyes, your tear ducts having long since dried out. Though he was talking about Grogu, you knew by the guilt that steeped his words that the little green terror wasn’t the only one suffering from the Mandalorian’s decision to abandon you.
“He… he needs you…” Din trailed off, slowly tilting his visor over at you again, his hands stilling. “I…”
Din paused, letting the unspoken words hang heavily in the air, bringing with them a silence that would rival the infinite void of space. The nurse droid seemed to fade away, followed shortly by the beeping heart monitor, then the walls, then all of Mos Eisley, consumed by the roar of silence.
You could hear it though, the sound of those three little words that would change everything. Three tiny, insignificant words that even ghosts knew how to use. Powerful in their simplicity. You stared at where his eyes should be, imagining his furrowed brows, his tear-streaked cheeks, the corners of his lips twitching as they fought the floodgates that threatened to burst.
Just say it, Din, say what you need to say. Fix what you have broken.
“I...I’ll go get him.” Swallowing around your dry tongue, you nodded, dropping your gaze to the floor. So close. Din stood and brushed imaginary dirt from his clothes, “There’s someone else who wants to meet you as well, if it’s alright.”
“Who?” There wasn’t a single living being in all the galaxy that you wanted to see right now besides Grogu, plus you doubted there was anyone you knew who would want to see you anyway.
“Um… someone who’s been looking for him. His… people.”
You felt your heavy heart sink right out through your spine, dropping like a slab of raw meat onto the dusty hospital floor. “His… h-his people? Does… does that mean he’s going ho-”
“Just hang on, ok?” Din rose hastily and sped from the room, leaving a thick aura of unanswered questions in his wake. When he returned, he gestured to someone behind him, indicating that it was safe to enter your room. A young man with tousled blond hair and long black robes crossed the threshold to the medbay, but you couldn’t care less about who he was or what he looked like, because your eyes were locked to the little green baby he was carrying.
“Bubu!!!” Grogu cried, flailing in the man's arms until he was brought closer.
“BEANS!” you reached out with your good arm to take the squirming little monster, hugging him to your chest while he sobbed.
“Bububububububu…” He babbled, tears streaking down from his cosmic eyes while he patted your cheeks and dug claws into your skin. You curled up on your side and hugged the baby close to your chest, ignoring the dampening fabric beneath you as your own tears trickled down onto the threadbare sheets. You tried to comfort him by kissing his wrinkly head between choked sobs and carefully smoothing his ears, but the joy of having your baby back only made you cry even harder.
“Boo-boo? Wh-what… what’s he trying..?”
“Buir.” Din answered, his voice strong with reverence. “He is trying to say buir.” You burrowed your face against the shaky baby and reached out towards Din’s voice until you found his hand.
“Thank you.” You whispered between tears. “I thought I’d never see him again.” You pried your flooded eyes away from Grogu to glance up at the stranger standing politely in the corner, remembering what Din had said about Grogu’s people. “Who’s mister sunshine over there with the cute boots?”
The young man smiled and bowed slightly. “My name is Luke Skywalker, I came to investigate a disturbance in the Force that led me here. When I met Grogu I thought it may have been him reaching out to me, but now that I am standing in the same room as you, I realize that you are the source of the shockwave that I felt.”
You cradled Grogu against your chest, “The Force? Isn’t that just a saying the New Republic uses? Live long and prosper, may the force be with you, to infinity and beyond, blah blah blah...”
Luke laughed, “It is, but the Force is very real. It is the life energy that flows through all living things, even after they have passed on.” The young man crossed the room to your little trio, his robes and cape swishing dramatically with each step. “Tell me what happened to the ship that crashed out on the dunes, something tells me you were involved?”
You recounted your tale, from your hyperspace premonitions to your whispering nightmares, describing the ghosts you’ve seen and heard. You held up your arms for him to look at the damage the lightning had done, and pointed to your throat when you told him how you shouted the admiral apart. He listened intently and without interruption until you were telling him about the rhydonium bomb that blew the ship to smithereens. “And then I woke up here.”
“That’s fascinating, I’ve only read about Thunderfuries in the ancient texts, I never thought I'd meet one in real life, they’re exceptionally rare. Some scholars have even described them as mythological. Their charismatic voices have been described as ‘more powerful than a siren's song and a thousand times more deadly, able to lull insomniacs to sleep or shout the stars down from the sky.’”
You kissed Grogu’s head and propped yourself up on your elbow. “How come it's only manifesting now? I mean, I’ve had some weird shit happen in my life but never like that.”
“You’ve probably used it before without realizing it. Have you ever been so mad your voice changed? Or convinced someone with an unbelievable lie? Maybe even called someone back from the brink of death?” You nodded at each of his questions, feeling the color drain from your face. “Your powers may become more volatile when you’re threatened, or when someone important to you is in danger, a catalyst, if you will. May I have your permission to touch you?”
You shrugged, not really caring, but Din stiffened visibly at your side before backing away to let the man through. Luke placed his left hand on your forehead and closed his eyes, concentrating. “Yes, the Force is strong with you.” He moved down to your throat, touching your larynx softly. “Even stronger here, I’m willing to bet that the midi-chlorian count around this area is where it is highest, but I still feel something else.” He palpated your sternum though your ratty hospital gown, then your stomach, and finally the bottom of your belly, making you flinch. “Here. There is something here as well. It’s faint but-”
“NO.” You shouted, making the man recoil from the energy you gave off. “Not you too! First that damn robot and now this dude. I am not pregnant, I'm chipped! I’ve been chipped since I was a teenager. Get that damn nurse droid over here and I’ll prove it!” You barked at the droid organizing the bacta. “C’mere and scan me!”
The animatronic healer rolled over to you, a long scanner unfolding from it’s chassis. A hologenic light flickered over you, scanning up and down your body, making an extra pass over your abdomen that beeped when it had completed its investigation. “I-am-sorry-miss, but-your-chip-appears-to-be-missing.”
“MISSING?! The hell do you mean…” You trailed off, too many thoughts hitting you at once until one of them struck you like a bell. “Hoth. I probably left it on Hoth. Fan fucking tastic.” Oblivious to the needles in your skin you squished your eyeballs under your palms and slid your fingers into your hair, trying to yank it out.
When you opened your eyes back up you flinched from the collection of boys staring at you. Luke looked respectfully embarrassed, Grogu’s eyes were full of stars, but Din looked like he’d been frozen in time, not even breathing. He managed to croak out a single word: “Ch-chip?”
“Yeah, my standard-issue contraceptive implant’s probably sitting in a pile of goo in that fucky cave. You must be packin’ some pretty potent spunk to have already knocked me up.”
“Con... con-con-con… c-con..tra-”
“C-con…” Din short circuited and fell silent, his mental cogwheels grinding to a halt. A heavy silence filled the small infirmary for a time before he was moving with agonizing slowness. He brought one hand up and set it so gently on your tummy that it was almost non-existent. “...Mine?”
You rolled your eyes so hard they almost fell out of your skull. “Yeah bucket boy, ain’t nobody else got to tap this.” You shimmied in a terrible attempt at seduction, bobbing your bacta lines more than your boobies. He nodded solemnly, still trying to reboot, but the silence gave the poor sidelined Skywalker a chance to speak.
“Congratulations, I think. If it’s alright I would like to speak frankly.” You shrugged and nodded, not waiting for Din.exe to come back online. “Yours and Grogu’s Force powers are very special, but also very dangerous. While it shows that you both have extraordinary talent, without training that talent will go to waste, or worse, could fall into the wrong hands. With your permission I would like to take you both to the Jedi Temple where you can learn to master your abilities.”
You started to try to sit up, struggling against the pain that still permeated your body, but Din sprang to life, helping to ease you comfortably to a seated position with Grogu on your knee. Setting your hand on your collar bone you rubbed at your throat. “Yeah, I think I know what you mean. I dunno jack shit about this Force whatsit, but it was pretty cool to melt Forescythe's face like that. If I go with you, will you teach me how to do that without burning my arms off?”
“The lightning is a byproduct of the Dark Side of the force, it is only manifested through hatred and anger. The more you use it, the more it will destroy you.”
“I will teach you how to use the Light Side, which is achieved through patience and dedication.” He laughed, “And also won’t burn your arms off.”
“What’d’ya think, Beans, you wanna go to school?” Grogu chirped sweetly in your arms, rubbing at his eyes with fat little paws, then yawned. “I’ll take that as a yes. Alright, sunshine, it’s a deal, ain’t nowhere else for me to go anyways.”
“I’m glad to hear that. Once you have made a full recovery we will be on our way. It was nice to meet you as well, Mandalorian. May the Force be with you always.” The nice young man bowed slightly before turning on his heel and heading out the door, his cape billowing behind him as he went.
Grogu curled into a ball on your lap and fell asleep faster than you’d ever seen, and carefully you brushed your hand over his ears. “Poor baby, so sleepy. You rest now, you’ve earned it.” A heavy silence filled the room, punctuated only by tiny snores. When you looked up from the sweet little baby you were surprised to see Din’s visor locked on you from where he sat, frozen solid. “Well, bucketboy? You gonna say something?”
Wordlessly he started digging into the pouches on his belt, fishing around until he pulled the remains of a microchip out into the dusty sunlight. Although it was nearly crushed beyond recognition, you knew by its broken legs and shattered insignia that it was all that was left of your contraceptive implant. Fresh, scalding rage bubbled in your chest at the sight. “Din… Why do you have that?”
“I found it that night on the Sunskate when you sent me to find you some soap. It was in the canister we used to capture the egg-pod-thing. I should have told you about right away but… but I was worried that maybe the pirates planted it there. Then I got it into my head that it had come from you and… and…”
“And I’m sorry!” He cried in a strained whisper, careful not to wake the blessedly sleeping baby. “I don’t expect your forgiveness, nor do I deserve it, but… but I’m sorry.” His modulated voice cracked with something, maybe faulty wiring, maybe tears. “If… if I’d just asked you about it from the start none of this would have happened.” He gestured vaguely at all of you, sitting at the end of the cot in your shabby gown, your bare feet swinging freely. “I’m sorry for how I acted and what I said. You didn’t deserve to be treated like that.”
“You’re only saying that because you stuck a bun in my oven.”
“No, what I did was wrong, it was cowardly.” his visor snapped up to meet your eyes, “I have dishonored you and myself. I broke every vow I made to you without giving you a chance to explain. I shot at you, I shot at my wife.” His voice faded away, weighed down by shame. “I am a monster.” His helmet tilted away from you towards the ground, studying his boots.
You thought for a moment, watching the warrior coming to terms with his own judgement. Licking your dry lips, you asked him coldly: “Why’d you do it?”
“Try to shoot me.”
He turned away from you shamefully, “Because you were… b-because I decided that you were a threat.”
“A threat to who? To you?”
“No.” he paused, his breath hitching in his lungs. “A threat to… to Grogu.”
“That’s what I thought.” You chided, cocking a brow at him when he turned to face you again. “You saw a threat to your son and you acted, though maybe you could have, oh I dunno, listened to me before you went off your rocker.” His hands twiddled with the edges of his legplates, his eyes avoiding your gaze. You readjusted the bundle on your lap, tucking his goofy potato sack robe under his butt. “If I thought you were a threat, I would’a shot you too.”
“That doesn’t make it right.”
“No, it doesn't, though I probably shouldn’t have been keeping secrets from you.” Now it was your turn to look away, turning your gaze up to the stucco ceiling where maybe the Maker was watching you. “However, if you hadn’t broken my heart and dumped me on the Empire’s doorstep then I’m guessing Tatooine wouldn’t be here anymore, or whatever planet they decided to fuck over. So I guess…”
“You don’t need to justify it. What I did was wrong and hateful.” He scootched the little chair closer to your side until his knees bumped against the cot’s edge, barely inches away from your own. “If you never want to see me again, I- I would... understand. I wish you and Grogu the best with your training. And the youngling too if… if you decide to keep it.”
His visor sank back to the floor before he was pulling himself to his feet, making to leave you and take his guilty conscience with him, but you caught his hand before he got too far. He whirled around, gawking at you with that big metal bird impression that he does so well.
“What do you mean if? Why wouldn’t I keep it?”
You heard something rattle behind his modulator, accompanied by the strained quake in his shoulders. “I can’t force you to, or even ask you to. I know you said you w-weren’t ready for children, and to have to raise one alone would be-”
“What makes you think I would be alone?” You squeezed his captured hand, running your thumb over his knuckles. Din cautiously stepped closer, brushing his hand over Grogu’s wrinkly little head.
“I’m sorry, you’re right. You’ll have Grogu and Luke to look after you. The boy seems trustworthy enough, and once you master your powers-.”
“That’s not what I mean, Din.” You tugged on his hand, scrounging up the courage to find out the truth, even if you had to use a crowbar to get it. “What… what were you going to say to me, before the rhydonium blew?”
His armored shoulders rose with a sudden intake of breath, going stiff while the air stuck in his lungs. His response came out slowly. “Does... does it matter?”
“If it didn’t, would I be asking?”
Yellowed fingertips flashed in the fresh dawnlight filtering in through the infirmary window, fidgeting on the ends of armored wrists. Din squared his shoulders and stood straight and proud, his modulated voice giving away his timidness. “I...”
“I…” he took your hand in both of his, careful not to upset the bacta lines growing from your flesh or the precious bundle swaddled on your lap. “I… I still love you.”
You cocked your ear at him and waggled your brows. “What? I didn’t-”
“I still love you!” Din fell to his knees in front of you with a mighty racket of metal and munitions that shockingly didn’t wake Grogu. “I love you, cyare, I need you! I love the sound of your voice and the warmth of your smile. I love the way you laugh, the way you cry. I love that you terrify me like no one ever has. I love the way you feel, the way you smell, the way your fingers used to tangle in my hair when we slept together.” He carefully lifted your hand until your knuckles rested on the brow of his helmet, “I miss you, beautiful creature of the stars. I would give anything to have you back again.”
You pondered a moment, letting him wallow in his guilt until you could hear his breath getting ragged from the suspense. “Alright, give me your ears.”
“You... want me to cut them off?”
“Pfft, no, but I appreciate the enthusiasm.” You said with a laugh. “I want you to listen.” You pulled your hand away from the cool metal of his forehead to pick at the bacta tubes on your other arm. “I was an Imp, but not because I wanted to be. When I was a child I was stowed away on the Wyvern before it left Corellia’s port, which happened often enough on that skughole of a planet that there was a name for us. We were called bilgerats.” You met his visor, watching the way his head cocked to the side. “The Empire adopted me, I didn’t have a choice.”
“Like… like a foundling?”
“Mmhmm. When the captain decided that I had potential, or apparently magic, he gave me a name and a real job, but it was never my choice. I chose to leave them behind. I chose to become a hunter. I chose…” You paused, flitting your eyes between the corners of his visor where you knew his eyes were, wishing that you could see them for yourself. “I chose to love you.”
A broken sob rattled his helmet as his composure started to break down, his hands coming up to caress gently at your cheek. You held your hand over the back of his, leaning into his palm. He took a series of deep, desperate breaths before he found his voice again. “C-could you e-ever love me again?”
“Only if you promise to never dump my ass over stupid misunderstandings again, think you could do that for me?” He couldn’t speak, he just nodded so fast his helmet almost flew off. Laughing, you stretched your arm out to him, careful not to lose the foundling on your lap. Din clambered up from the floor so fast his boots nearly went out from under him, plowing into your chest with a hug so fierce you felt your ribs creak. “I sure hope so, tinman, because I still love you too.”
Not even the dry desert air could stop your tears anymore, and you let them flow freely into the fabric of Din’s cowl, burying your face between his shoulder and the edge of his helmet while he hugged you like his life depended on it. The sharp metal cut your skin and made you frustrated that he even still had the damn bucket on. “Din can you take your helmet off? There’s nobody here but the droid. I want to see you.” He shook his head ‘no’, dragging his palms over your back, his leather gloves snagging on the ties that held your gown closed. “Can we go somewhere you can take it off? Maybe… maybe somewhere more comfortable?”
“You’re in no shape to move.”
He hated it when you begged, or maybe he fucking loved it, either way he was nodding and rising to his feet, stuffing your collection of trinkets into his many pouches. He cast a suspicious glance at the nursebot before helping you pull the bacta lines free. Immediately the attending droid started to protest, but was met with the business end of a blaster. Din cocked his helmet arrogantly, a mused laugh sneaking through his modulator.
“We’re checking out.”
You were giggling like a schoolgirl as you were carried up the ramp into the Crest by the Mandalorian, cradling Mr. Sleepy against your chest. The armored warrior set you down gently on the edge of the bed, jabbing at his vambrace to close the ramp. You sniffed the musty air, crinkling your nose. “Holy shit what is that smell?! No wonder the kid can’t sleep, It stinks in here! Open a window!” The singular transparisteel viewport didn’t ‘open’, but the ventilation did, and soon slightly-less-stinky desert breezes circulated through the cabin. “That’s better, now off with your damn head!”
“Alright alright.” Din chided, fishing for the edge of his helmet and pulling the offending beskar away, setting it down gently on a nearby crate. Though the blood had been washed from his hair days ago, a crudely placed cauterizer burn still shined red with swelling, but that was only the start of his worrying features. His hair was unkempt and ratty, his eyes sunken and hollow, even more than they had been when you’d seen him uncrowned aboard the Wyvern. His shaggy facial hair did a poor job of hiding his pale, nearly translucent skin.
But his smile, his adorable, lopsided smile was exactly as you remembered it, rolling the swells of his cheeks right up into his deep brown eyes. Dazzling canines caught the hazy cabin light while he beamed at you sheepishly, his eyes glancing at your face then bashfully away, aware that he must look terrible.
Carefully you set the foundling down on the bed by your side, brushing a wayward ear from his face before reaching out to the baby’s father. Gloveless hands found your cheeks, his touch more cautious than if he were handling porcelain, pulling you into a long awaited kiss.
Din kissed you like it was the very first time, chapped lips brushing yours softly, tentatively, like he was afraid that touching you would wake him from this dream. The dream of having you in his arms again. You slid your bandaged hands up his armored shoulders until you were at his scruffy jaw, pulling him closer.
At the feel of gauze on his skin he pulled away, worry etched into the creases around his eyes. “I don’t want to hurt you, maybe we should wait til-” Huffing, you dug your hands into his messy hair, dragging him back to you and kissing him so hard you felt your teeth knock together. He inhaled with surprise before melting into your hands, tilting his head to chase the taste of you deeper.
The bristles of his mustache tickled at your nose, but you were too lost in his love to notice, tangling your fingers in the curls that hung at the back of his neck. The hands at your cheeks glided down to your shoulders, then your sides, then around to your back, deftly picking apart the knots that held your ugly gown together. He pulled away from you again, “May I?”
You nodded and laughed, “Please, it’s itchy! Though I’m pretty sure half of Mos Eisley already saw my hooha flappin’ in the breeze today. Hey what happened to that cantina on the corner? They used to have the best spotchka…”
“No idea. Must have been a big fire though…” He laughed at his own poorly-veiled lie, kissing at your jawline while he tugged the last knot free. The ratty hospital gown fluttered to the floor unnoticed, the two of you lost in each other’s eyes. Though you were naked save for your bandages, he couldn’t take his off of your face, reverence stretched across his features. “Is… do you think what the nice man said is true? That you’re… um…”
His versatile hands that could snap necks like twigs or tear flesh asunder came up to settle gently on your belly, rubbing softly back and forth and sending scalding heat to your cheeks. You shied away from him, studying the cabin wall like the secrets of the universe were written there. Flustered, you found your voice, “I don’t know, maybe. Pretty early to tell, but he was right about everything else. Probably right about that, too.”
He caught your embarrassment and withdrew. “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to… If you don’t… I’ll support any decision you-”
You silenced him with a finger on his lips. “No, I want to. I’m just… I’m scared.” You hugged yourself regardless of the warm desert breeze, fingertips fiddling with the edges of the gauze that rode up to your elbows. Nestled against your thigh you saw Grogu twitch in his sleep, half sunk into the smelly Tatooinian bed roll, his sweet little smile matching your own. “You’re such a good dad, Din, like you were made to be one. But…” You brushed your hand over the foundling's supersized ears, “But I don’t think I'd make a good mom.”
“You already are.” Din whispered with more conviction than you’d ever heard, his hand finding your chin to tilt your eyes back to him. “You always have been. From the day you met Grogu you’ve been his mother. You’re strong, and fearless, and terrifying.” He smiled when you laughed, tucking a loose strand of hair behind your ear for you. “But you’re also loving, and sweet, and compassionate. And did I mention you’re the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life?”
You giggled again, rolling forward until your brow met with his. “You’re just saying that to make me feel better.”
“I’m not. I think you’ll be amazing.” He kissed you again, stronger than before, breathing in deeply with the scent of you, of his mate. “I know you will.” You studied his face a moment and nodded, feeling your breath hitch threateningly in your throat. Din heard your hidden distress and backed away, tearing his remaining armor off and gently setting it next to his helmet until he was bare chested before you, a large bacta patch holding his broken bones together.
He dove towards you with passion, his chest pressed to yours, his kiss hungry but gentle. Though his flesh was warm and inviting against your own, your fingers quickly found where his ribs were showing through his sides, rippled like a washboard from not eating properly. You made a mental note to grab some of those roasted taters you liked so much later, but for now you let yourself get lost in the Mandalorian’s touch.
Though his hands were careful, you could tell that there was a hidden desperation behind his movements, his touches frantic to confirm that you were really here. His fingers slid up your back to tangle in your hair, holding you close while he experimentally licked his tongue into your mouth, eager to meet your own. A wide, calloused hand braced on your thigh, supporting his ever-growing weight over top of you. You hummed into his mouth and patted his chest, asking him to give you space.
He looked at you quizzically, but before he could start another long winded string of apologies you nodded down to where Grogu was sleeping peacefully. By the look on his little princely face it had been a long time since he’d slept so well, and though you knew he deserved his rest, he was very much in the way of what you and Din were after.
Maybe it was the bacta still flowing through your system, or maybe it was the fact that you’d survived yet another near-death experience. Or perhaps it was true what the ghosts in your visions had said, that the man before you really was your soulmate, destined to return to you again and again. Either way your body craved him, flooding your belly with heat at the sight of the robust warrior that would rather let himself waste away than live a day without you in it.
You needed him.
And he needed you.
You scooched off the end of the bed, covered the baby with a thin blanket, and slid yourself into Din’s arms, kissing your way up his neck to the bottom of his jaw. He shivered under you, groaning with pleasure until you reached his ear, nipping at his earlobe where you whispered: “Do you remember the first time you made love to me?”
He growled, the low timbre of it making your skin prickle with goosebumps. “How could I forget?” His scruff brushed your cheek as he nuzzled you, dragging his teeth along the juncture of your neck and shoulder, his palms squeezing into your hips. You took a slow step backwards, luring him to follow until your knees bumped against a crate, a subtle laugh escaping your lips when you plopped down on it. Din fumbled for the sleeping cubby controls until he found the button that closed the protective door, shielding the foundling from your erotic courtship dance.
Not an inch of space remained between the two of you when he pressed his body to you again, slotting his mouth to yours, hands gripping the stubborn crate to support his slow, demanding ruts against your heat. You wrapped your legs around his waist, catching your heels in the pockets of his duraweave pants, trying to kick them off. His rich laugh rumbled against your chest, reverberating in the warmth flooding in your heart, and pussy. “Please, riddur’ika, let me take care of you.”
Lost in the kisses that he was planting down the length of your chest, he didn’t see your brows furrow at him. “Do… do you still get to call me that?”
He froze, his lips poised just above your pebbled nipple, so close to getting a taste of you. He spoke slowly, choosing his words carefully. “That...that is your choice to make.” His pleading eyes looked up to you, so big and full of sadness you almost cried. “I would… I would like to again, but only if-”
“Yes.” you pleaded, running your fingers through his hair, skimming the long, jagged scar. “Yes, please, don’t ever stop calling me that.”
“Ner riddur.” He moaned, sucking the tip of your breast into his hot wet mouth, arms coiling around your waist. The hastily renewed vow tumbled from his lips in between each languid roll of his tongue, mumbled like a prayer to your altar of forgiveness. You sighed and arched your back into his affections, gasping when one of his nimble hands snaked around your front and sank into your folds.
Stars you’d missed this, you’d missed him. Missed the way his lips sought every inch of your chest, missed the way his fingers curled perfectly against the spongy spot hidden in your walls, drawing beautiful gasps from your parted lips. You’d even missed the way he ran his mouth, spilling muffled praises against your skin between greedy laps of his tongue.
He released your swollen bud with a pop of his lips, kissing down the softness of your tummy. You leaned back until the cool metal of the crate met your spine, offering yourself to him fully. Din’s whiskered kisses ticked at your sensitive middle, each one slower and more deliberate than the last until he was just below your belly button. The fingers buried inside you slowed, rubbing careful circles that couldn’t distract you from the loving way his lips met your skin, his kisses lingering.
“Mine.” he whispered with a secretive giggle, his unoccupied arm scooping under the small of your back, holding you steady. He kissed you once more, then pressed his entire face into your belly, rubbing his scruff over the tender flesh, almost like he was scenting you.
Still speared on his fingers, legs flung wide to accommodate him, you lifted your head to get a better look at his foolishness. “Tinman…?”
“I’m sorry, I just.” He planted his chin on your pubic bone, slipping his fingers out and smiling up at you with adoration in his eyes. “I just… I can’t believe it.”
“Really? After all the times you said you wanted to breed me, you’re flummoxed that you’ve actually gotten me pregnant?”
Din popped up like a whack-a-mole at the magic word, a hundred emotions spread across his face. “S-say that again.”
“Flummoxed?” His brows sank with frustration over his lust-blown eyes, making you laugh. “Fine fine. Din.” You propped yourself up fully, your knees hugging his chest where he was kneeling between your legs. With his head in your palms you brushed your thumbs over his cheeks, reveling in the way he was waiting on bated breath for your words. “Din, I’m pregnant.”
The joy that radiated off of this man could have knocked the suns from the sky if they were any closer, his laughter so full of hope and happiness you couldn’t help laughing along. This was how it should have been presented, not flickering across a screen or coming from a polite stranger. Just this, the two of you alone together, both of you looking like complete garbage and not even caring.
No, in that moment you were the two most beautiful creatures the Universe had ever made, painted so brightly in excitement and love that it was blinding. Din kissed your palms, his face already starting to bubble over with emotion. “I’m… I’m gonna be a dad?”
“Mhmm, now c’mere, give mama some sugar.” You hauled his beautifully wrecked face up to yours, kissing him deeply. His tongue was sloppy, needy, spearing into your mouth between groans of pleasure. You heard the fumble of buckles and zippers, then the flump of pants hitting the floor. His heavy cock bobbed against your belly, leaving kisses of precum above the womb it had filled. You rocked your hips, trying to notch him in your slick folds, but his fingers met your cunt again, scissoring you open.
“I said I wanted to take care of you, buir’ika.” He groaned into your mouth before disappearing down your body and burying his face between your legs. Din’s wicked tongue spun delicious circles around your engorged bean, slurping and sucking away as if it was the only thing he’d ever eat again. You were just starting to feel the knot tightening in your guts when his dutiful mouth slowed, licking experimentally into your cunt, humming curiously.
“Wh-what? What is it?” You panted, rocking your hips against him, trying to fuck yourself on his face.
“You taste different.” He caught your questioning groan and shook his head, the motion making you convulse with need. “Not bad different, just different. Sweeter.” There were a plethora of excuses you could have made, maybe it was that he’d just forgotten how you’d tasted, or maybe it was the fact that you’d been living on Imp food. It couldn’t possibly already be from your changing hormones.
Nothing but cries of pleasure made their way past your lips when he dove back to his feast, pulsing his expert fingers against your core and spiraling you towards devastation. Locked to his face, you squirmed on his tongue until he brought you the stars, your pent-up orgasm soaking his scruff and dribbling down his chin. Greedily he lapped your arousal away, humming at the taste. You’d barely gotten a chance to catch your breath before he was rising to his feet, angling his throbbing cock up into you and stretching you full.
“Din!” You whined, your cries swallowed by his mouth on yours, letting you taste your own release. Shit he’s right, I do taste good! His kisses became messy, then lost all together, his head falling from yours to bury against the crook of your shoulder. His cock eased itself out, making you feel every ridge, every vein before it was slamming back into the cradle of your body, the sound of him fucking you resounding wetly throughout the hold.
“Riddur’ika” he moaned into your skin, sinking his sharp teeth into the meat of your neck to mark you as his once again; leaving a blooming patchwork of welts in his wake. With his teeth holding you in place he started giving you what you both so desperately needed, pounding deeply into your flooding cunt. Your walls clenched around him, making him groan and strain, his hips snapping with frantic, frenzied thrusts. It was all you could do to hold on.
Eyes closed, lips parted, head lolling back, you were consumed by his passion; digging your nails into the skin of his back and surely drawing blood. Under your fingertips his muscles coiled and bunched, rippling with each powerful thrust, his cock demanding to be swallowed whole.
Your weeping wellspring sucked up every inch of him, drawing him all the way inside to the gates of your precious womb. The head of his cock bumped haphazardly against your cervix, his length shifting the ring of muscle even deeper into your body, the delicious stretch making you obscenely wetter.
Releasing your captured throat, the Mandalorian leaned back from you, throwing your legs over his shoulders so that there was nothing to stop him from burying himself to the hilt. Each ragged thrust scraped his curls over your sensitive clit and sent his cock spearing into something devastating inside. You cried out from the force of it, your muscles squeezing around his girth as you were catapulted towards ecstacy’s edge.
“That’s it, mesh’la, soak my cock. Claim me as yours!” His oaken voice sent you spinning, obeying his command and drenching his swollen member in your divine nectar. He groaned at your fluttering muscles, your silken folds caressing him and drawing his own gushing orgasm from him. Under your calves you could feel him straining to keep from shouting the heavens down, his face contorted almost painfully while he painted your insides with rope after rope of hot, potent baby batter.
Broken panting echoed in the tiny space of the Razor Crest’s interior, carried by the wisps of desert air breezing in through the ventilation. Din fell heavily forward, his sweat-streaked chest just inches from your heaving breasts, barely giving you room to breathe. Slowly he sank further down, the skin of his abdomen sticking to your belly, then your chest, sealing you together. His hands found your face, brushing the hair from your sticky brow and planting a kiss there, paving the way for him to rest his forehead against yours in sacred unity.
Hot breath mingled in the space between your mouths, bringing with it the spice of lovers bodies, a mix of lust and sweat and adoration, flooding your synapses like an addiction. Though he would happily let himself melt into your body the threat of crushing you underneath him made his exhausted arms shake, especially now that you were harboring precious cargo.
He butted his head against yours once more before pulling himself upright, offering a hand to you. You took his gentle gesture, but the shift in gravity made your soaked cunt gush with your combined cum, oozing down the side of the crate and pooling on the floor. Din couldn’t help himself, his agile fingers sneaking down to your wrecked pussy, stretching it around his fingertips and watching his pearly conquest slip out of you.
Humming with adoration, Din took you by your elbows, careful not to upset your bandages, and hugged you close. The Mandalorian felt like a furnace pressed against you, trailing his fingers up and down your spine and giving you conflicting goosebumps. “You’re so beautiful, mesh’la.” He purred, nuzzling into your neck. “There can be no other as beautiful as you.”
“Yet.” You chided, turning to meet his confused eyes. Stealing one of his hands you pushed his palm to your belly, laughing when he put your puzzle together.
“Our baby…” He cooed, still mystified by the concept. “Our baby will be beautiful, and terrifying if their mother is anything to go by.”
“Rude.” you barked, tugging playfully on his ear. He chuckled, splaying his wide palms over your belly, rubbing tenderly and no doubt imagining you all full and round with his warriors, your breasts heavy with milk, your skin glowing. His spent cock twitched between you, making him flush red. You laughed at his thoughts clearly plastered across his face. “I wonder what they’ll be like, the child of an Imp and a Mand-”
“You are not an Imp.” He retorted with ruinous conviction. “That’s not who you are anymore. You proved that when you sank an entire star destroyer to protect the people of Tatooine.” His hands cupped your face, holding you where his big beautiful eyes could see you, really see you. “I’m sorry that I let your past blind me to how much I love you, but now I see you for who you really are.” He kissed your forehead again, a slow, meaningful kiss that conveyed all the words he couldn’t find. Stars glittered in his lashes when he met your eyes again. “You’re not an Imp, cyare, you are a Mandalorian.”
Some kind of noise busted its way out your throat, maybe a laugh, maybe a sob. Either way you were shaking your head. “Thank you, but I’m not a Mandalorian either according to the Jedi boy.”
“I don’t see why you can’t be both a Mandalorian and a Jedi. Your son is a gremlin and your husband is an ass. I think you can be whatever you want. What was it that he called you?”
“A Thunderfury!” He waved his hand dramatically, his eyes shining bright. You snickered at his antics, the melodic sound inviting him to spin you around in his arms, your thighs slicking with lovespunk as you danced. Instantly you wanted the fresher, but your heels knocked against his belt on the floor, making something in the pockets jingle. Bending down, you rifled through the many pouches until you found the one that had your things: two krayt teeth, one blood-stained rag, a pair of beskar cuffs, and surprisingly one other item.
An aurodium insignia.
“This was the Admirals.” You groaned, turning the half-melted token over in the light. Disgust overwhelmed you, and for a moment you considered opening the ramp door and chucking the emblem out into the hangar. Peli could probably find a buyer for it, but another thought snuck its way into your frontal lobe, spreading a grin over your face. “How much beskar do you think this will buy me?”
Din’s brows nearly shot off into space. “The insignia of a high ranking Imperial officer that you slaughtered? As much as you want, a full set even, but what about the Jedi? He’s supposed to take you-”
“But daaaaaad, I need a new outfit for the first day of school! Besides, I can't show up saying I’m a mando when I don’t have any beskar! Also I think the scary sewer queen would kill you if you didn’t tell her we’re expecting.”
“You’re absolutely right, but you do have some beskar.” Din padded over to the armory, throwing munitions and gear out of the way until your faceplate was brought into the light. “I think this belongs to you.”
You took the beloved slab of steel gingerly, turning it over in your hands. Din found the beskar cuffs and lovingly set them over each of your ears. When you set the armor on your face, the visor automatically flashed to life, presenting you with a fireball of a man standing before you, his chest and cheeks burning scarlet. Rolling the iron to your crown, you grabbed the krayt fangs from the pile and handed them to him. “And these belong to you.”
The opalescent Impkillers looked tiny in his wide hands, their whitish shimmer almost glowing in the cabin light. He nodded and thanked you, sniffling back his emotions, trying to remain steadfast as though you couldn’t see right through him. His fingers tightened over the sharp teeth, their edges creasing his callouses. “I’m going to miss you while you’re away.”
Just like that your beautiful, illustrious moment was cast in a dark, cold shadow. “Away? You’re going with me, right?”
“I don’t know if I can. I’m not a sorcerer like you or Grogu, and I’ll have to do something to earn credits for the baby. You go to school, grow our child. I’ll find work, there’s always bount-”
“Woah woah woah. Abso-fuckin-lutely not! You’re coming with us! I’m not going through this pregnancy or my forcefuckery without you.”
“The boy flew an X-wing here, there’s not exactly room-”
“Then we’ll get the coordinates for the school and just… meet him there? You said you’re never leaving me behind again, well I’m not leaving you behind either, ya big fuckin’ jerk.”
“I don’t think he’s going to just give you that information. What makes you think you can convince him?”
“First of all, something tells me he’s desperate, and secondly,” You planted your feet wide, ignoring your sticky, cumsoaked thighs and jabbing your fists to your hips, beskar crown glittering like royalty and making Din realize that one of these days he was going to have to tell you that as an Alor’s wife, you were technically were.
“I’m Tra’laar, the Thunderfury!” You roared, channeling your Force power to make the Crest shake on it’s fat little legs. Dins wide eyes were a stark contrast to your beaming smile, but the sound of scratching and chirping caught your ears before either of you could say something.
The sleeping cubby’s drophatch slid out of the way, revealing the disheveled little baby. Grogu glared at the two of you, rubbing his squinty eyes and squeaking on about how you’d interrupted his beauty sleep. Giggling, you took the baby in your arms and sat down on the bed, cradling him against your bare chest. “Aw I’m sorry, Booger, I got carried away.”
Snuggling the child, you were surprised when Din came over to you with a warm washcloth, offering to clean his mess from your thighs. You held Grogu close so his eyes were covered while Din tended to your needs, gently wiping the evidence of your reforged bond away.
When you were as clean as he could get you, you thanked him and scooted back up the bed, resting your weary head on the bunched-up bantha wool at the back of the cubby. You cooed at the fussing baby. “Do you need a lullaby, sweetie? I need to practice before bucket-baby comes. Would that be ok?” Grogu’s enormous eyes seemed to light up even in the dark recess of the alcove, his little head bobbing with a nod.
“He’s missed your songs, cyare.” Din hummed, crawling into the bed with you, laying so that he faced you and his son. You shot him a cynical glance, but he didn’t shy away. “I’ve missed your songs as well. I-if your voice hurts too much, it’s fine, we can-”
“I’ve missed singing to you as well, and to your son.”
“Our son. Just like it will be our baby. I’ll never make that mistake again, you have my word, and should I ever break it again I want you to put a bullet in my skull.” You were about to protest that last line, but his stern glare told you he wasn’t joking, so you nodded, agreeing to his terms.
“Anything in particular you want me to sing for you, husband?”
He smiled, running his hand over your bandages until his fingers tangled with your own, dancing lightly over the foundling’s forehead. “There was one a long time ago, it was the very first one you ever sang to Grogu, before he even had a name. Something about a navigator?”
“Of course.” You played with his fingers and cleared your throat, dropping your voice into a low whisper like you’d done a hundred times before.
“Oh, I have sailed the midnight sea from Hoth to Arvala-5.
Seen the Cloudshape Falls of Alderaan, met rocks that were alive.
But soon I came to realize as world to world I roamed,
That nowhere in the galaxy could really be my home.”
Across from you Din’s eyes fluttered, fighting the pull of sleep so he could listen to you for as long as possible. You nestled closer to him until your foreheads bumped together, your faces curled towards the child that was already starting to drift back into his afternoon nap.
“So call the navigator, set the course and go!
We’ve stars and planets to explore, my wild heart tells me so.
Beneath the metal decking I can hear the engine sigh
And all I need is a mighty ship and a staaaa-aarr to guide her by.”
Neither of your boys made it to the last line, so overcome with stress-induced exhaustion that they were both sailing off to dreamland on the words of your song. Later you could find Mr. Sunshine and sort this whole Jedi nonsense out, but regardless of what the stranger wanted you weren’t going anywhere if Din couldn’t be by your side, the two of you having already suffered enough apart, missing your soulmates.
No, come what may, your clan of three, soon four, would not be splitting up again. Come hell or high water, you were in this together.
@mrsparknuts @cookiejuicedesu @kaermorons @ironbabey @theflightytemptressadventure @emesispo @what-iwish-youknew @misscamptl @t3a-bag @poppunkdee @misscamptl @pandastasia @simpingmess @lilychristine01 @inaturenymph @buttercup--bee @blackd0gdesignuk @tanzthompson @transientblueseraph @jasmincita @sunnnygiiirl123 @beskarboobs @doin-stuff @marvelranger
Step Into The Daylight - Part 11
Summary: Cal Kestis offers some more insight into who your mysterious son is.
A/N: Thank you guys for being so, so patient and still being excited for me to update. I feel like my Din muse has returned and I hope you enjoy! Taglists are open, and as always feedback is welcome! xx
Pairing: Din Djarin x Fem!Reader
Word Count: 5.6k
Warnings: spoilers for up to s2, e5
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"Oh," your heart fell as you looked down at the little one sitting on the floor and cooing happily. He looked between the between you and Din before turning his gaze back to Cal, and the figures behind "is there...do you know anything about him? I don't know how...I'm still learning how to properly wield the force and I can't..."
"Yes," he said as he gently held out his hand to the little. You felt Din tense slightly at your side and gently put your hand on top of his, giving him a gentle squeeze, "come here, little one."
The child slowly clambered up, grabbing one of Cal's fingers and letting the Jedi pick him up. He cooed quietly as a wave of emotions splashed over Cal's face. You wondered if this was hard for him, if it reminded him of the mysterious Master Yoda, if it reminded him of the days before he, like so many others, lost everything.
"We'll go," you offered quietly as you motioned for Din and the others to follow you, along with Jeele. Din stiffened at first but didn't question your judgment and then followed after you.
You settled back down in the kitchen, the six of silent as you let a long huff of air.
“Where are my manners,” you shifted next to Din and studied each of the new figures in turn. There was another woman, older in appearance with warm, dark skin and a kind face, a younger woman covered in tattoo-like markings and white blonde hair, as well as a smaller figure that you recognized as a Latero. You offered them your name before turning to your Mandalorian, “this is Mando and I believe you’ve met Jeele already.”
“Cere Junda,” the older woman stuck out her hand and gave you and a firm handshake, “this is Merrin and Greeze. We work with Cal; you just be the mysterious Jedi.”
“I don’t think I’ll ever qualify to have that title,” you admitted, “not since the order is all but gone. But...you are. I can feel it - the force is strong with you.”
“It once was,” she confessed as a tight smile crossed her features, “but I no longer use it. Much as happened since the fall of the Order, and much of it I’d like to forget. The pull to the dark is too strong sometimes...I’m sure you must have felt it.”
You tensed as her words washed over and Din’s gaze shifted to you. You swallowed thickly as you realized that she was right; what you’d felt, especially in the crystal cave was strong, that call to chaos and violence, the pull to the dark. But you were strong enough to resist it then and you hoped to continue to be, “y-yes...I’ve felt it before.”
“It will get easier over time,” she promised, almost as if she could hear you fears and worries, but then again, you supposed she probably could, “Merrin is a Night Sister. You probably feel the energy from her too.”
“A Night Sister,” you said as the younger woman offered you a small smile, “from Dathomir? You use Magick, don’t you?”
“I do,” she agreed, “you are well versed in your histories aren’t you?”
“I had a lot of time when I was studying by myself, I tried to learn a little about a lot, but I would not consider myself an expert by any means. Your people have been through much.”
“As have yours,” she reached across the table and gave your hand a gentle squeeze, “we’re survivors, we make due with what we have, and stick together.”
“Together is the only way we survive,” you agreed before you turned your attention to the last of Cal’s crew, “it’s nice to meet you too. Greeze?”
“At your service,” he sounded entirely neutral as he looked over the two of you, eyes lingering on the Mandalorian, “don’t see many of you anymore. What are you doing with a little Jedi? I thought Jedi were the enemies of the Mandalore?”
“It’s a long story,” you begin, thinking about the day you’d met your mysterious Mandalorian, sure that it was going to be the last day of your life. Little did you know that it would be the beginning of your entirely knew life, one will with more adventure, and love, than ever before. You turned to Din and offered him a small smile, sure that he was giving you the same one in return, “but to make it short, I had a bounty on my head, and he ended up saving me both from my injuries and capture, and the rest is history really.”
“Oh jeeze, another love story,” Greeze sighed jokingly as your cheeks turned warm, causing you to pointedly keep your gaze away from Din, although both of you now knew that’s exactly what it was, but so much more than that, “what is it with Jedi and forming attachments, I thought that wasn’t allowed.”
“It wasn’t,” Cere said sharply, “which is one of the many reasons the Jedi Order fell. I never quite did understand that part, I do...but it never made sense.”
“Good thing I’m not a Jedi then,” you said softly as the whole table laughed, “because I would have been doomed a long time ago.”
Din’s hand was on your thigh and gave it a gentle squeeze as he watched you closely, a rush of emotions coursing through his blood.
“Listen, Cal told us about your crystal. Which means it’s time construct your own lightsaber,” Cere explained as you sat up with excitement. You’d been through hell and back to get that crystal and you were going to build that saber no matter what, “we have materials for the hilt back on our ship, we’ll get it all out for you. When you’re ready, come find us and then you can build.”
“Thank you,” your breath caught in your throat as you stared at table and let out a long breath.
“It’s a big step, and a right of passage,” Cere acknowledged, “take your time and find us once you’re sure.”
“I will,” you promised. The three of them stood up and started to head back to their own ship, with Jeele giving you a small nod and following them. It must have been a comfort to her as well to have other people who had experienced the same things around. They knew all the same heartbreak and loss.
Once when they were gone and silence fell over the two of you again, you let out a long sigh, just as Din did the same.
"You don't think-"
"No," you promised, "I don't think Cal is going to do anything. We can trust him, I can sense it."
"Do you think we'll get answers...something? Maybe he can help train him," he started babbling as you reached up and put your hand on the cowl at his neck giving him a gentle, reassuring squeeze, "I don't know if...I’m not...”
"I know," you replied softly as you understood exactly what he was trying to say, "you know what we have to do. Whatever happens, we'll get through it. We're a family, Din and nothing is going to change that. You don't have to do this alone...I will be here with you every step of the way."
He remained silent for a few moments, and you could hear a few heavy, long exhales come through the vocoder of his helmet. You remained silent but put your head on his shoulder, watching as he put a hand on your thigh. You put your hand on top of his and he silently laced your fingers together.
In all honesty, you weren't prepared for what might be coming. You'd been waiting and looking for more information about the mysterious small child, your son, but now that you might be getting some answers it all felt...gut wrenching. You wanted to know more about him and how to help him for his sake as much as yours and Din's. But at the end of it all, his was Din's son, and yours. Parting with him... it would be...almost impossible, but if it was what needed to happen, then you would do it. You were sure it wouldn't be forever, something in your heart told you that at the end of the day, your family would always be together.
The silence was tense at first, stiff as you both tried to come to terms with things that might soon be happening. But it soon shifted into something much more bearable and comfortable. One of the many things that you loved about your ever blossoming relationship with the Mandalorian was how the two of you could easily read each other. You rested your head on his shoulder as his hand was firmly on your thigh.
"Yes, Mesh'la?" his voice was tired, bells, he was tired and exhausted but he kept going; because of you and your son.
"We're going to be okay," you promised him again, feeling the need to reassure both of you again, "just like I had to leave the two of you for a while, this might be the same. But look, we're back together. The force...it works how its supposed and I know we're going to be together always. I saw it..."
"A Mandalorian and a Jedi," he huffed lightly, "they would never have seen it coming."
"Times change as do all things," you agreed, "but we are neither. I'm just me and you're just you. Aliit."
"Aliit," he agreed. You could see him leaning ever so slightly towards the door as you laughed lightly, "do you think..."
"Let's go and check," you stood up and offered him your hand, which he took without hesitation. The two of you slowly padded down the hallway, remaining silent as you walked back into the hull.
You weren't sure what you were expecting, but it certainly wasn't the sight that met your eyes. On the floor, almost as unchanged as when you'd first, were Cal and your son, intently staring at each other. Din looked between the two of them before turning to you.
"They're communicating," you whispered softly, "they can understand each other's thoughts...its a skill you learn and improve over time...I'm afraid I'm not quite there yet."
"Thoughts," Din repeated as you nodded slowly. Almost as if on cue, Cal broke his gaze with the little one and turned to you.
"He wants me to tell you something," Cal as you approached the duo and sat down on the floor next to them with Din following suit. The little one turned me looked at both of excitedly, "his name. His name is Grogu."
“Grogu,” the name, gentle and soft, completely unexpected and yet perfectly fitting, caught in your throat. The tears that welled up in your eyes were immediate as you looked at the same green creature on the floor. After all this time, you finally knew his name. Grogu. He turned to, a little smile on his face as his ears perked up in excitement, “hi, my love.”
“Grogu,” Din repeated and the little one’s response was enough to make your heart melt. He cooed happily, nothing but happy little noises as he clambered to his feet and headed straight for Din. He stopped in front of his legs, holding his little arms up as he waiting for Din to pick him up. He hesitated for just a moment and you were positive you heard a small sniffle from under the helmet as DIn gently scooped him up in his arms before holding him tightly to his chest. It was silent for a moment as the two embraced each other before pulling apart as Din pressed the his helmet tenderly against his forehead, “Grogu.”
“Cal,” you reached over and back the child, no, Grogu’s back and gently rubbed it in a sign of reassurance, “can you tell us anything more about him?”
“I was able to get some more out of him,” he confessed, “but there’s a lot of...holes, dark spots, in his memory. Parts of his memory are almost blank; he spent a lot of time in hiding, in fear...he was alone and scared for a long time. He hid his powers, lost touch with them for years in order to survive. His ability to adapt and blend in led to his survival.”
“But he’s used them recently,” you raised an eyebrow as Grogu made a small sound.
“He feels safe,” Cal explained as Grogu appeared to nod, “he feels protected when he’s with both of you.”
“H-he does?” Din’s voice cracked as Grogu held onto one of his gloved fingers, “I’ve always wondered...”
“Yes,” Cal promised with a gentle smile of his own, “he’s formed a strong attachment to you, both of you. He thinks of you as parents.”
“We think of him as ours,” Din’s free arm found its way around your waist as you nodded, trying to take in and adsorb everything. That mean he understand you both, he knew just how much you loved him and how much you both cared.
“Where was he before? Before he was found?” Cal’s face fell slightly at your question, an almost upset expression crossing his features, “Cal?”
“At the Jedi Temple on Coruscant,” he explained. Where your brother hand been. Where Cal had been. Before they lost everything, “he had several teachers over the years, but during the purge he was smuggled out and put into hiding. He was lucky...like me. We survived unlike so many of our brothers and sisters.”
“You both went through so much, Cal, but you survived, that’s the important part,” your voice was gentle as the ginger haired man closed his eyes and let out a long breath. You had no doubt that the memories still plagued him often; survivor’s guilt. You all had in one form or another, “but who saved him? Why just him? Not that I don’t love him, but what’s so special about him?”
“I don’t know,” Cal shook his head in defeat as he looked at Grogu with a sad little half smile, “he doesn’t remember...or he’s blocked it out.”
“Another piece we still need to figure out,” while you felt slightly defeated, you were happy in turn. You knew a little bit more about him and his origins, and if nothing else, you had a name and you knew that he loved you both as much as you loved him.
“The most important question is - what does the Empire want with him?” Din kept his voice down, although the frustration was evident as he held Grogu close to his chest. All the excitement of what had been going on had slowly worn him down and he was started to loose the fight against slumber, “there was a scientist, he was trying to do something to him, but I took him back before they could do anything further.”
“The Empire doesn’t exist anymore,” you reminded Din as the men sighed deeply in unison; if it wasn’t for the severity of the situation, you would have laughed.
“The Empire still exists, it always has,” Cal offered as Din nodded, “under different names in different forms. Evil is always out there, and there’s been...stirrings about.”
“A new order,” Cal confessed quietly as you grimaced. None of that sounded good in the slightest, “but that’s just among many other things going on.”
“I...we’ve been tasked to bring him back to his people,” Din said as a look of realization crossed his features, “whether’s that his native people or the Jedi we don’t know.”
“There’s not many Jedi left,” Cal stated the obvious as you nodded, “especially not fulled trained Jedi like Jeele or Cere.”
“What about you, Cal?” you asked, knowing that Din was reluctant to do so. It would be hard on you both, but you knew what you had to do, “can you train him?”
“No,” he shook his head as you and exchanged a look of surprise with your Mandalorian, “his attachment to the two of you...it’s very strong. Emotional bonds by Jedi are forbidden for a reason-”
“Surely you can’t believe that.”
“We’ve all seen what an emotional attachment can lead to...it can lead to great things, but horrible, terrible ones as well,” he closed his eyes as his shoulders slumped forward, “Darth Vader was once a Jedi by the name of Anakin Skywalker. He was one of the most powerful Jedi of all time and yet we all know what happened with Darth Vader.”
You breath hitched in your throat as you thought back to all the horrors and atrocities that had plagued not just your childhood, but Din’s as well, and those of countless others, “what do we do then? How do we...”
“I don’t know,” he let his words linger in the air as he slowly leaned over and gently stroked Grogu’s soft ears. The little one was curled up in Din’s arms, the tiniest snores emanating from his mouth, “but I can’t take...I don’t want to set him down the wrong path.”
“Where do we go from here?” your question hung in the air as you exchanged a worried looked with Din. Part of your heart was elated that this meant you wouldn’t have to part ways with him just yet, but confused hung over in clouds as well. Despite all this time and effort, you were still no closer to figuring how the overarching mystery of it all, “if you won’t train him...”
“There is another place...Tython,” he perked up suddenly, “there’s a Jedi Temple there...it’s been long abandoned but has always had a strong connection, but if you take him there and he reaches out through the force, another Jedi somewhere might hear him and come.”
“Like I said, there’s not many Jedi left,” he grimaced, “but someone might hear him. But it’s up to him, if he chooses to reach out. It’s his decision to make.”
“We’ll do it,” Din said quietly as he looked at his son sleeping in his arms, “if it could possibly help. Whatever it takes.”
“Yes,” you agreed, “we’re in this together.”
“I’m sure he’ll make the right decision,” Cal slowly rose to his feet, pausing as he studied the three of you. It reminded him of his own little found family, of Cere, or Merrin, or Greeze, and how no matter what, they were his family, “I think he’s already made his decision.”
"What do you mean?" you stood up and followed Cal as he walked towards the ramp to rejoin his own crew. Putting a hand on his arm, you gently stopped him, "what decision has he made?"
"You'll see," he promised quietly, casting a look back at the Mandalorian who was whispering gently to the small bundle, "I'm sorry I can't provide more answers, but I know you'll get them. But you - when you're ready, come and find us to build your saber. After that, I'm afraid our ways will have to part."
"Thank you, Cal Kestis," before you could stop yourself, you threw your arms around him and embraced him as though your life depended on it. He stiffened for a moment before responding in kind, "you've already given us so much."
He gave you a solemn nod, looking back at your Mandalorian before you, watching as your face softened, "may the force be with you."
"May the force be with you," you replied, closing the ramp back after he disappeared into the snow to keep the chill at bay.
You were silent for a moment, head practically spinning with everything going on, but one thing you for sure was that you loved your little family more than anything.
"Mesh'la?" Din tilted the helmet up at you, keeping your quiet gaze for a moment. You struggled to hold back tears as you slowly made your way over to your boys, "is everything okay?"
"I...umm...yes," not a position to even begin to try to explain your emotions, you held your hand and motioned for him to take it. Without hesitation, Din gently enveloped your hand with his and rose to his full height.
“I’m just...it’s a lot to take in. All of it.”
“Yes,” he commented gruffly, almost reminding you of the tone had adopted when you’d first met him. Your heart sank slightly at the thought and you hoped he wasn’t retreating into himself. Reaching up, you put your hand on the part of his neck that was covered in fabric and gave him a reassuring touch.
“Let’s go and rest,” you whispered, feeling the gravitas start to weigh on you. Between everything that had happened in the last few days you were physically and mentally exhausted. The siren call of slumber was getting greater and greater with every passing second. Din seemed unsure for a moment but you weren’t going to let him pull away. You knew he was worried, maybe even terrified of what was to come, just as you were, but you wanted him to know that he was definitely not alone, “Din. I’ve got you, I promise. We’re a family, don’t forget that...please don’t shut us out.”
“I won’t,” it was a soft promise as he reached up and touched your cheek with his free hand, the other still holding tightly onto the little one. Keening into his touch, you exhaled slowly as he wiped away the single tray tear that had rolled down your cheek, “I won’t...”
“Come on,” you took his hand pulled him towards the small space that was deemed as your deemed, “the bed is small but we can make it work.”
And so he acquiesced, feeling calm and contented, almost as if he was glad to let someone else be in charge for once, glad to let be the follower instead of the leader.
Once you were inside the small room, which made him look even more massive and broad, you reached for Grogu, taking care not to wake him up as you set in your bed, bundling him in blankets to keep him warm. He made a small sound, but quickly snuggled deeper into the blankets as your heart melted.
Turning your attention back to Din, you reached for his arm, slowly, waiting for him to stop you if he so chose.
But he didn’t. He made a small sound in the back of his throat as you worked to tenderly take off each piece of armor, starting with his boots. Setting each piece down gently, you didn’t stop until you were at his pauldrons, when you hesitated slightly. He was almost bare now, left in only his underclothes as he watched you work. Your breathing had become slow and methodical as you worked and you noticed that his had done the same
Something palpable had shifted; you weren’t quite able to put your finger on it, but you could both sense it. Once the armor was stripped from his shoulders, you let your hands linger on them, offering him a reassuring squeeze before moving to pull away to switch off the lights so he could remove the helmet if he chose to. But before you could move, his hands went to your wrists and held your hands on his shoulders.
“Din...” his name was soft but caught in your throat as you gazed into his visor.
“I want...” he trailed off, a shaky exhale leaving the vocoder as you tried to pick his words carefully, “we’re family.”
“Yes,” you agreed with a gentle smile, “we are.”
“Always, Din,” you promised quickly, “always. We were meant to find each other, to be together. I love you more than anything.”
“I love you,” his heart settled a little bit as he spoke the words aloud, reaffirming himself that this was real, “and I want you to be my wife - my riduur.”
“Din...I...” you nodded, your words not needing to be spoken as you both understood loud and clear what you were saying. His hands were firm but gentle on yours as he slowly moved them closer and closer to his cowl and the metal exterior of his ever present helmet, “you don’t have to do this.”
“I know,” he rasped as you tried to keep your lips from trembling, “but I want to. You have never once asked, attempted to look, judged, or made a big deal out of it. If there is anyone in the galaxy that deserves this it’s you. The one I want to spend the rest of my days with. We found each other as hunter and prey, and look where we are now.”
“So different and yet utterly the same.”
“The first time you left,” he swallowed the lump in his throat as he tried to collect himself, “I didn’t know what I was doing. I’d never felt such a loss, such an emptiness before. I had to find you. But the second time...it was still hard, but it hurt less. I knew you’d be back, and we would be together again...”
“I felt the same way,” you confessed breathlessly, positive that your heart was about to burst out of your chest at his words, “it was the worst time of my life. Even once I’d accepted that you were gone, I still held onto hope that would we would be together again.”
“And now? I can’t imagine a day without you,” you sighed contentedly as you leaned forward and pressed your forehead against his beskar, “I will follow you to the ends of the galaxy, Mesh’la. You...you and Grogu are everything. You mean more to me than you will ever know.”
“Are you sure about this?” it was a mere whisper off your lips as it hung in the air for a few moments as Din weighed the gravitas of the moment. He inhaled deeply before nodding once.
“I’ve never been more sure about anything in life than this,” his words were enough to make you melt on the spot as he slowly brought your hands to the side of his helmet. He didn’t remove his own, his large, warm hands covered your own as he slowly, painstakingly slowly, began to push it up. He halted for just one moment before whispered, “together.”
“Together,” you agreed as the helmet started to come up, higher and higher, inch by blissful inch. Out of habit, or instinct, or whatever you wanted to call it, you squeezed your eyes shut, not daring to sneak a peek. Once it was completely lifted from his head and he released your hands to set the helmet along with the rest of his armor.
“Open your eyes, Mesh’la,” and gods did you almost choke as a strangled sound caught in your throat. His voice was warm and honeyed, that same baritone you’d heard before, but something was different about this. He reached up and touched your cheek, stroking it gently, “it’s okay...”
“Din,” it so damn soft that weren’t even sure that you’d said anything. And then slowly, little but little, you opened your eyes, blinking away the bleariness before finding him. And then you did it was like your heart stopped then and there as your world fell apartment and came back together all at once.
Din. Din Djarin. Your love. Your soon to be riduur was starting at you with the softest expression you’d ever seen.
He was a mixture of emotions, nervous, relieved, excited, overwhelmed, scared, happy.
But then, as you reached up and found his face, studying him astutely, he realized what it was more than anything else.
He was loved. So loved. And it radiated into every fiber of his being, golden like the sweetest daylight.
“Hi,” you choked out as your tears welled up in your ears. He was so lovely, even lovelier than your vision made him out to be. Reaching up, you put your hands on either side of his face as you traced over his features, committing each little bit to memory.
His lips, soft and plush, pulled in a little smile, completed with several days worth of stubble and a mustache that might have look silly on anyone else. His eyes, sweet and dark, crinkled slightly as his smile grew and a dimple of revealed. Those eyes that had seen such beauty and horror, so many things, and yet they still watched you like you were the only thing in the world that mattered.
As you carded a hand through his dark curls, he made a sound of content as you scratched at his scalp. His was utterly beautiful, and while a small part of you wished you’d gotten to see this side of him earlier, you knew this was moment was perfect.
“Hi,” he repeated as he waited for you to say something...anything else. Judging by your reaction, how still and soft you remained, he knew this was playing out just as it was meant to.
“That vision had nothing on you,” you beamed at him, warming every part of him as he visibly relaxed, “you are...everything, Din. No matter what you think. “
“May I kiss you?” it was a timid, shy little question as you eagerly, wrapping your arms around his neck and breathing him in. He smelled as delicious as he always did, warm and musky, a comforting smell that both ensnared you and grounded in the same moment.
“You don’t have to ask,” his hands found your waist as he pulled you close and crashed his lips onto yours. It was proper this, for the first, and hopefully many more to come. His lips chased yours in a gentle manner, although there was a sense of urgency behind his kisses.
Din pulled you against his body as you smiled against his lips, heart warming as you responded in kind. It wasn’t perfect by any means, a somewhat awkward, messy tangle of tongue and teeth as the two of you started to learn each other, in an entirely new way. But you wouldn’t have changed it any way at all. It was utterly perfect, and you knew then, just as you had before, that you were so in love with him.
The force might have worked in mysterious ways, but this was destined to be. You knew that wherever the two of you where, whatever happened, your souls would always find their way back to each other.
“I love you,” you grinned at him when you broke apart for a breath of air, foreheads pressed against each other.
“Ni kar'tayli gar darasuum,” you raised your eyebrows at his words, attempting to figure out what he meant. You knew it was Mando’a, all of your time spent studying his culture had taught you that much, but it didn’t help with the translation. He laughed lightly at the confused expression, causing your mouth to form a small o.
“What does that mean?”
“It’s similar to I love you,” he promised, “it more or less means I hold you in my heart forever. More or less I love you.”
“I love it,” you replied with a small grin, “and you. Will you teach me?”
“Teach you what?” he asked you took his hand and started pulling him towards the bed where the little one still slept soundly, completely unawares that two worlds were changing right next to him.
“Mando’a,” you pulled back to the blankets and pointed at the bed, motioning for him to crawl under them. He was tired, his head spinning, and he was eager to take you up on that offer, “I’d like to learn, to be able to speak it with you...and one day, o-our son.”
“Cassian,” he remember as you nodded, feeling a flush of warmth enter your face at the sheer thought. You switched the light off and padded back over to him, watching as he scooted over to make room for you, leaving Grogu nestled in between the two of you, “are you warm enough?”
“Yes,” you made yourself comfortable, snuggling into the pillows and blankets as his arm found its around your waist, his longer legs tangled with yours, “perfect. I wouldn’t change this for anything.”
“Me neither,” he agreed as he felt his eyes start to get heavy with sleep. This moment was everything; the three of you together as one little family. Which, he now knew, was exactly what you always had been, even when neither of you knew it, “rest now, Mesh’la.”
“You too Din,” you grabbed his hand with yours and laced your fingers together, “promise me something?”
“That isn’t a dream? This is all real.”
“It’s not a dream,” he reassured you, “this is all very real. And tomorrow we’ll still all be here.”
“Good,” you brought his hand to your lips as you kissed his knuckles, “good. I love you, Din.”
“I love you too, Mesh’la. Now and always.”
»»————- ♡ ————-««
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