Summary: “Go shower; I can keep an eye on him for a little while.”
“You sure?” Din asked.
“Yeah, I can tell you if the kid wakes up.”
Notes: This one's a little nicer than the last chapter (no one died this time, I swear), but it still had me screaming.
TW for some self deprecating thoughts and stuff?
I’m Here Now
The car seat had been strapped into the seat behind Cobb's, the bag stuffed in the foot space behind Din's, and suddenly they had more baby food and diapers than they knew what to do with. If Cobb had thought it had been important for them to stop for breaks before, it was nothing compared to what was coming.
They hadn't stayed long at the campsite, heading off and leaving the woman's body behind after they'd checked the contents of the bag for any identification and come up empty handed. It turned out that she'd only brought a single change of clothes for herself and a few cans of food; everything else had been for Grogu. From the labels in the half a dozen changes of clothes for the baby, they discovered that he was just under a year old, and there were a few jars of baby food and a tupperware box of fruit and vegetable slices which meant he could eat solids.
There was also a half-empty pack of diapers which brought Cobb relief at his inability to help for the first (and only) time. The guilt still haunted him with the echoes of the mother's smile, but now, as they pulled into a motel a few hours later, he realised that he wouldn't be able to keep his promise to her either.
How was he supposed to look after a baby when he couldn't even touch them? How could he protect an infant like this? They were bringing him along with them as they chased his body -- the very thing that had murdered the babe’s mother -- and while they knew that leaving that thing to rampage across the country was a bad idea, bringing a baby along was definitely irresponsible. He didn't even have enough experience with babies to give Din any real advice beyond how to hold them! He was useless.
At least he was able to remind Din not to forget the baby when he went into the reception, since, if anyone were to pass by and notice he'd left Grogu unattended in the car, they might call the police. At least the car seat -- as complicated as it was connecting it to the seatbelt -- was small enough to be easy to handle.
It was at this point, when Cobb had been left alone in the quiet of the truck, that he realised that he was going to be alone with his thoughts for hours on end without Din’s conscious presence to keep him tethered in reality, and he knew that he would spiral. He didn’t know how it would end, but he was afraid of what would happen.
He hadn’t paid much attention to ghost stories in the past, but since becoming one he’d noticed how his bad emotions could affect things around him, namely the temperature. Even though he couldn’t feel it, he could see how his anger frosted windows and cooled the air. Would his guilt and fear do the same?
He couldn’t let Din know his thoughts though, and he took several steadying breaths before Din exited the office, putting on a smile as he approached.
“Settling down for the night?” he asked when Din opened the door for him, slipping out and looking down at the baby who was still sleeping soundly in his seat.
“Yeah,” Din said with a sigh, shutting the door as softly as he could and still wincing when it slammed, looking down at Grogu, but the baby barely stirred. “Do you mind watching him while I take a shower?”
“No problem, partner,” Cobb said with a wink, wondering if he was overdoing it. Din did give him a suspicious look, but he didn’t say anything, leading the way into the motel room.
It wasn’t much different from any of the others they’d stayed in, but Cobb still explored each corner and wall, making sure Din and Grogu’s sleep wouldn’t be disturbed by outside sources, but as Din set Grogu’s seat down the baby squirmed a little before settling again. Din looked hesitant after that, but Cobb shook his head and waved him towards the bathroom.
“Go shower; I can keep an eye on him for a little while.”
“You sure?” Din asked.
“Yeah, I can tell you if the kid wakes up.”
Din hesitated, but nodded and collected his towel (which was probably a bit musty at this point considering he hadn’t had the chance to wash it) before checking on the baby one more time and heading into the bathroom.
Almost as soon as the shower turned on, Grogu started to squirm in his seat again, and Cobb sighed. That man deserved some time to himself after everything that had happened, so he could process things, and Cobb would give him a few minutes at least. As the baby started to blink open his eyes, his face scrunching up in the onset of tears, Cobb crouched down in front of him.
“Calm down, kid,” he said softly, even though he knew he wouldn’t be able to hear him. “You’re safe here. The bad man’s not gonna hurt you.”
Grogu whined, hands grasping at air, but then his eyes -- eyes that reminded Cobb so much of his mother’s -- looked up at him, and those grasping hands reached for him.
Cobb blinked down at the child in surprise. “You… You can see me?”
The baby didn’t reply, but they did try to keep reaching for him, whining and getting close to tears.
“I’m sorry, you can’t… You can’t touch me,” Cobb said, bringing his hand up to demonstrate. Grogu’s whine turned into a sob when his tiny fingers went through Cobb’s larger, non-corporeal ones, likely confused by the cold, and Cobb knelt down, beginning to panic. “No no no! Uh, I’m sorry. Sh, it’s okay. It’s okay.”
The baby continued to cry and Cobb panicked. What was he supposed to do? He couldn’t hold the baby, couldn’t warm him up or give him anything… Din!
“Din!” he called, heading over to the bathroom and closing his eyes before slipping through the door. “Din, he’s awake, and he’s crying!”
He heard a thud, and then the shower turned off, the baby’s cries no longer hidden by the patter of the water. “I’ll be right there!”
Cobb nodded and stepped backwards until he was sure he was out of the room and opened his eyes again.
Grogu’s cheeks were red and his eyes were wet with tears by the time Din had emerged, hair still wet and towel threatening to fall from his waist as he unbuckled the baby and pulled him into his arms. “It’s okay,” he said softly, holding him against his chest with his hand on Grogu’s back, just like Cobb showed him. “I’m here now.”
Grogu calmed down a little, but his gaze was over Din’s shoulder, focused on Cobb.
“We’re here,” Cobb said quietly, smiling softly at the boy.
Still sniffling, the baby reached out for him with a moan.
"I'm sorry, kid," Cobb said, feeling himself tearing up. "I can't touch you. Remember when you tried to hold my fingers?"
"He… he what?" Din asked, turning to face him.
"... He can see me," Cobb said, smiling as the kid tried to turn around to look at him. A broken, cold piece of him warmed at seeing Grogu looking at him, actively wanting to see him in fact, and he knew he was lost. "I didn't know kids could see ghosts."
"... They can't," Din said, bringing Cobb's smile up short. "Not usually."
"Then do you think he's like you?" Cobb asked, waving his fingers at Grogu and making him giggle.
"I don't know. Maybe."
Cobb hummed and chuckled when Grogu put his first in his mouth, looking up at Din instead now. "Whatever the reason, at least now we know I can keep him entertained on the road."
"There is that," Din agreed and set the boy down on the bed. "Are you hungry, Grogu? Do you want to eat something?"
The baby looked up at him, but then nodded, looking back at Cobb again as he slobbered on his fist.
“Okay, let’s get you some food,” Din said as he searched through the bag, pulling out the box of fruit and vegetable slices and one of the jars of baby food.
Grogu, it seemed, was a messy eater; there were crumbs and blobs of the jarred food all down his front by the time he was done, and his cheeks were just as much of a mess. Cobb spent most of the time the kid was eating being the center of his attention, and while it was a bit odd to be stared at so much, being in a room with two people (no matter how young they were) who both acknowledged his existent, and even wanted him to participate in their lives, made him feel alive again.
Not that he was dead, just… floating.
It made him feel more present at least, and he couldn’t stop smiling, trying to make little Grogu laugh and smile too when he seemed to threaten tears again.
Hearing that little giggle was one of the cutest things he’d ever heard, and it made him feel lighter than air.
When Din decided to return to his shower with Grogu in his arms for a wash, Cobb realised that the anger and guilt he’d felt before had faded, his fear at being unable to help washing down the drain along with all the sticky baby food from Grogu’s cheeks. He still didn’t know how he’d protect the baby, but with his other fear asaged, he felt more in control.
That night, and for the next handful of nights that followed, Cobb watched over Din as usual, but he also kept a close eye on Grogu who was lying in the protective curl of Din’s arms, paying attention to when the poor baby started to squirm from nightmares. Din suffered from a few as well now, and it made looking after the both of them difficult. At first he tried to wake Din up without waking the baby, but without being able to touch his voice would wake the baby and he would end up crying in Din’s arms.
Eventually, however, he remembered how sometimes song would soothe a suffering soul, and so he started to sing to them. He didn’t know too many lullabies, but he did know a few songs from his home in the south, and he sang some of the quiet, softer ones to the suffering sleepers. It had been a long time since he had last used his voice like that, and he was sure that it could have sounded better coming from someone else, but it did seem to settle both Din and Grogu down.
One time, however, while he was humming one of the lullabies to Grogu, Din woke without him noticing.
“You have a nice voice,” Din said, his voice deep from sleep and his eyes still drooping.
Cobb looked up at him in surprise from where he’d perched on the other side of the bed, but found himself softening again from the way Din smiled up at him from the pillow. “I don’t know about that.”
“You do,” Din insisted, rubbing his hand on Grogu’s belly to help him calm down now that Cobb’s singing had stopped, and the baby relaxed.
“I just want to make sure you’re both okay.”
“You sing for both of us?”
Cobb nodded, feeling shy all of a sudden. “You’ll have nightmares otherwise.”
Din grinned sleepily at him. “You’re a good man, Cobb.”
Cobb blinked at him and touched his cheek. The words were the same ones the woman had said, and yet somehow, when it was Din saying them, they felt more real.
The three of them together felt… real.
“When… when this is all over, and we have my body back,” he said, pausing to swallow and look down at the sleeping baby, “I think we should find a way to take care of him. Legally.”
This time, it was Din’s turn to blink in surprise. “‘We’?”
“I mean, I don’t want to make any assumptions, but you’ve been so good with him, and I’ve seen the way you look at him sometimes and-”
Summary: Locked away in a house her entire life, she always dreamed of exploring the nearby kingdom for just a day, believing it could make the rest of her days in solitude bearable. What she was unware of, was the real reason she'd been hidden away for so long. Changes comes swift like a flying dagger when a thieving bounty hunter seeks solace in the old home.
Din Djarin Royalty!AU / Tangled!AU
Pairing: Din Djarin x Princess Kryze!Reader
A/n: you all ate up the first part like it was new york pizza so here y'all go hungry chirren, another part for your starving bellies... also excuse the poor editing bc this was done via mobile
Warnings: blunt force trauma lol, angry motherTM, also some suggestive stuff 😏 but they just met... so get your mind out of the gutter please, we aren't pennywise.
You paced back and forth in front of the old broom closet in the corner of the hallway, running your hands though your hair whilst your little green goblin baby watched you with confused eyes.
"Grogu this is bad, this is very bad..."
He didn't understand why you were so filled with angst, because he was under the impression that he handled the situation quite nicely.
"She's never going to let me out, now. She's going to think I'm the one who killed him," you panicked, letting your hands fling around dramatically to show your emphasis. The little green boy kept looking between you and the closet. At least he was proud of his accomplishment.
"Mother will be home any minute, and we have a body in the closet!"
The baby cheered, clapping his hands together with a wide smile and some happy noises were emitted from him. You really didn't even have time to convey the severity of the situation to him.
"No! No clapping, this is not a good thing. We can't let her find out," You went back to pacing, and it was only now that you started pulling on the braids of your hair, bringing them to a curly disheveled mess that Grogu realized how bad his actions were. "Just have to think. Think, think, think."
You ran over to the closet door and slammed it open, seeing the still lifeless body huddled over itself on the ground.
"I got it," you said with confidence and a smile, not that this was any smiling matter to begin with. "If I can get her to leave the house again, it may give us enough time to drag him outside. If we both use our power we can dig a hole by the base of the mountain and put him there."
You glanced over at the small child sitting on his stool, and he gave you an expression that called out your utter insanity. Who were you kidding? You didn't have the facilities to come through with a plan like that.
"I know... she'd have to be gone for days for that to work. Maybe we should just wait until she goes to bed tonight."
Just then, the sound of the front door opening around the corner was to be heard. It was enough to put you into cardiac arrest had it not been for Grogu's quick thinking as he shut the closet door with the wave of his hand. It wasn't a loud slam or anything too suspicious either, but you were hoping she would avoid even coming into this room.
"Sweetling, I'm back," your mother called out, beckoning you to greet her at the door like you always did.
You grabbed Grogu and glided around the corner with the cheesiest smile plastered on your face. You honestly needed to relax, because if you kept up with the tense way you moved, it would be no time at all before she started to wonder what was wrong.
"Oh my darling, I missed you." she made a grand gesture of enveloping you both in her arms, much like earlier.
"I missed you, too."
"You know I hate leaving you after a fight, especially when I've done absolutely nothing wrong."
She set down her basket by the door, and you knew you had to act fast, if not to get her to turn around and leave again, at least you could create a diversion to keep her busy until then.
"Listen, mother, about earlier-"
"I don't expect you to apologize dear. You are young, and full of curiosity. It pains me to know you can never really explore what you want to, but believe me little one, everyone will be better off with you here," her words were sharp like a knife, and dug deep into your mind. You truly didn't even need to put on a face anymore to hide your secret, for the way you deflated before her was quite apparent, and not to be missed.
Then it was like lightning had struck your brain. An idea popped in from the boundless depths and you set Grogu down on the ground while you prepared yourself to present an entirely new spiel.
"Mother, since I can't go into the kingdom for my birthday, I was wondering if maybe you would consider going to the kingdom where the you got me the flightless fairy book? There's supposed to be another one that comes after and I've been dying to find out what happens to Lady Avynlei," You came close to her, placing a hand on her arm and pleading softly for something you knew she could easily give into. As long as you remained within the house walls, she would bring you the means to keep you there. Even the countless books you requested from kingdoms far and wide.
"That is a very long trip, you know. Naboo is almost three days from here. If I leave now, I'll miss your birthday entirely," she said with a heavy sigh. You knew she was only stalling to make it look like she didn't want to leave you, but you knew otherwise. She loved her adventures, and taking time away from the house was her specialty. You never asked her why she didn't enjoy time with you inside the old home, because you wanted her to be happy, with a bright and shining smile all the time.
"I just thought it was a better idea than going outside," you feigned sadness, although not completely. You were of course still upset over the fact that your life was doomed to this miserable place of burden, but that wasn't where you focus was, and certainly wasn't the reason for the diversion.
"It certainly is, dear. I tell you what, if you pack me my things, and toss in one of those scrumptious bread loaves you made, I will leave before lunch."
She brought you close, kissing you on the head, and you smiled, thinking it was almost too easy. If everything else was to be hard, then you would gladly take the ease with open arms and accept it warmly.
"Thank you, mother."
You closed your eyes and breathed out, counting several more moments as you gathered the courage to step out into the hallway. As soon as you did you collided straight into his chest. You let out a squeak of surprise,
Grogu and yourself had gotten fairly comfortable on the chaise in front of the closet door, just staring at it intently with anticipation. You both looked at each other as if asking who was going to open the door, before you ultimately decided it would be your job.
"One of us has to," you mumbled as you waved your hand, letting the door creak on its hinges while it swung open slowly.
You raised your palm to face the limp body in the small space, dragging it out across the floor to free it of the confinement.
It was so abnormally frightening. Daring to approach a human man, in person. You'd never seen one before, and didn't know what they looked like. They had been described in you books time and time again, but never did you imagine someone so tall and broad and... intimidating. This man in particular had a mask over his face, and a hood o'er his head. The only thing visible to any on looker was his eyes, which you hadn't actually gotten a glimpse of before Grogu threw him into the wall.
When he came into the house, your first initial thought was to watch him, to see what he did and how he moved, to study every fiber of his being just to have an idea of what others outside looked like and how they behaved. Grogu of course had other plans, but he wasn't as proud of himself anymore.
Now that the man lay lifeless on the ground you had time to look him over once or twice, just enough before you were about to bury him in the backyard forever to cover for your small green child.
You were about to lift him with your power before he started moving, his breathing apparent now, and the moans of discomfort as he shifted awkwardly on the floor. You were afraid, now.
It was certainly good he wasn't dead, for you never wanted to spend all that time turning up the earth in the backyard anyway. It did however frighten you to know that the man was beginning to get up. You liked him better earlier when he couldn't see you hiding on the banister. You wanted to avoid being seen, so you quickly swept up your little accomplice and bolted for the doorway, pressing you back against the outside wall.
By the time he was on his feet, he glanced around the empty room, but could have sworn he just heard footsteps not even a foot from his body.
"I know you're here," he said calmly, although his anger and lack of memory as to what was going on fueled his tone just the slightest. His head was throbbing and the last thing he remembered was stumbling upon the old house he now dwelled in. It was slowly coming back to him why he had been passed out.
You held tight to the baby, hoping you could slip into the hallway unnoticed and he would just take the hint and leave. But he couldn't just walk out of the house without his satchel. You ran into the next room to retrieve it, only for the item it carried to fall onto the floor. You hurriedly tried to pick it up and stuff it back inside, but the second your hand touched it, your mind was on fire. Like the item somehow held a magical connection to you, as if you'd touched it before and now it was cursed. You squeezed your eyes shut and shook the feeling away as best you could, stuffing it into the satchel and ready to throw everything in the walkway before the man saw you.
You crept back around the corner, ready to drop the bag, but it was like divine intervention had kept you from doing so. You immediately clutched the bag tightly to your chest and slowly went back to the other room again. This was it, your only chance. You knew it was risky, but with your mother gone for the next three days or so, you knew it was now or never.
You stuffed the satchel up the unused fire place chimney, wedging it between the bricks so it wouldn't fall out. When you were sure it was secure, you turned around and began to slowly come back to the previous hiding space, just barely peeking around the corner. You caught another glimpse of him, and he was even taller when you were on ground level to him, instead of peering downwards.
He caught your eye and you froze, unable to drag your sight away from the dark brown pools of bliss. The light from outside mixed with the glow of the candles in the room made them look simply heavenly. For every book you'd ever read, they eyes were always described as the window to the soul, that you could see into the person by them, but that was not the case for this man. His eyes told you nothing, only invited you in deeper to admire their beauty and complexity. He seemed to have gotten caught as well, though he took steps towards you as you slowly came out from behind the wall and met him face to face. It was all such a slow movement, but for you it still felt rushed, and you heart beat faster every second.
His eyes up close were even more breath taking, and though you had so much to say to him moments prior, you were rendered speechless by him. Stories told you that men were beautiful creatures, with strong built bodies to protect their loved ones with, and fight the battles that others could not. You always pictures men a certain way, but every single one of your imaginative creations was purely put to shame by the one stood before you.
"Who are you?" You asked quietly, almost a whisper, but he could hear you clear as day. It was the upside of living so far away from civilization, the quiet.
"Just a traveler, miss," his voice was deep and husky. A voice like that, which was commanding as well as soft with a hint of roughness to it. He sounded like the winds when it was raining, because the depth of his tone poured over his words and made them clear, even though they were ever the slightest bit slurred together.
"How did you find my home?" You had yet to look away from his eyes, and wondered if you ever would again. They just drew you closer every second, pleading with you not to break contact. The way your eyes narrowed ever so slightly for your question made him weary of his answer.
"I didn't mean to," he took a step closer, and you took one back, keeping the few feet of distance between you in order to maintain a sense of security. "I do not wish you any harm, I was just passing through and found the house. I didn't know anyone lived here."
"Passing through a deep and abandoned gulch in the middle of the wooded mountains?" You may have sounded sarcastic and unfavorable of his answer, but in all truths, you really wanted to know.
"I needed to avoid some... accomplices," he struggled out the word, as if he didn't find it well enough to say in the first place.
You nodded in understanding, knowing that since he hadn't known of your presence in the house earlier on, it was very realistic that he could have just gotten lost while straying from the main trails.
"I only wish to reacquire what I arrived with, then I will be on my way," he only now noticed your little green baby when the small bean peaked his head around the corner. He looked deterred by him almost, but shook his head, thinking maybe the fall he took earlier was causing him to see things.
"Yes, of course... you see," you paused, taking a few more steps back, just to put distance between you for the reason of possible outburst. You knew that if push came to shove, your powers could protect you, but you didn't want to harm the only man you'd ever met. "I've hidden it."
"Well then unhide it," he seemed to grow more intense, but not quite angry. He was after all a broken in thief of another person's home.
"I'm afraid I can't do that," you spoke, getting ready to explain yourself before he cut in not allowing any room to divulge in your offer.
"You can, and will. What I have in my possession is worth more than your entire life, so I suggest you hand it over," his voice boomed loud and commanding and since you never had a stranger yell at you before, or any other human in general aside from your mother, you were spooked easily, like a horse. You used your spatial distance as a head start, sprinting out the room and down the hall as fast as you could. You looked back and sure enough he was following behind.
This old house was very large, and had endless hiding places. Surely he wouldn't be able to find it himself in a suitable amount of time. The fact that he even entertained the idea was ridiculous and a foolish waste of brain space.
You ran up the stairs, noticing Grogu still sitting on the ground where you left him. He was smiling and bouncing about, as if to express how much he was enjoying the chase. He probably thought it was a big game, he often liked to play games with you, hide and seek being one of them.
You thought you lost him when you turned a corner, peering around it to see he was still traveling down the hall. You waited a few seconds before he would surely enter the room at the end of the hall. Did he really peg you to be that stupid, that you would cut yourself off with a dead end in the house you spent every day in?
You closed your eyes and breathed out, counting several more moments as you gathered the courage to step out into the hallway. As soon as you did you collided straight into his chest. You let out a squeak of surprise, but before you were able to make any other moves, he covered you mouth with his hand, grabbing your arm with the other. He forced you against the wall carefully and looked down on you with those dark brown eyes. Your breath caught in your throat before he even started talking.
"I'm not here to hurt you, I just want to habe back my things so we can go our separate ways," his voice was incredibly gentle and soft spoken, and you melted into his touch even though it still alarmed you to some extent.
He dropped his hand from your mouth, seeing that now you'd stood clamly, trapped between him and the wall. The steady rise and fall of your chest, bound with your corset drew his eyes away from yours for only a moment, and you found it peculiar how his irisis darkened for only a moment before he snapped his attention back to your face.
"I know I must seem infuriating, but I can't give it back to you yet."
"Yet? What is your deal?" He was sharp spoken but not angry, more annoyed by the obnoxiously tantalizing answers he'd received.
"You really want to know my deal?" You offered sarcastically, turning it back around on him. It was his decision. Either hear you out, or begin his lomg search for the items he entered with.
He sighed repressively before backing away the slightest bit. He was beginning to feel uneasy with the little space the divided you, and knew that you probably hated the close proximity.
"What deal?" He annunciated each word carefully, wanting to convey the fact that he was utterly annoyed.
"I need an escort into the kingdom. Just for one day," you said quickly, though the request was rather important you wanted to rid it from your mouth.
"I'm not a baby sitter."
"And I am not a baby."
He clenched his fists then let them fall slack at his side. He was silent for too long and you felt you needed to fill the air and maybe convince him in better words.
"I am capable of holding my own, but I do not know the way," you made your tone firm and decisive, knowing he already didn't take you seriously enough. "I only ask that you accompany me into the kingdom for a day, then back home."
"You don't know who I am, do you?" He puzzled, tilting his head in a sense of confusion. Of course you didnt, because you'd never gone outside before.
He chuckled lowly at your answer, because yes, you definitely should know him by at least one of the many wanted posters hung throughout the city. He then again fugured that if you lived all alone out here as a recluse, perhaps he shouldn't be so quick to judge.
"I'm not exactly an ally to the kingdom. I can't take you anywhere," he huffed. Even if he thought there was a smart way to do it, he wasn't going to put his neck down for you.
"I suppose you aren't very fond of your belongings, are you?"
Well, then there was that.
Din knew that if he harmed you in any way, you'd never help him find his satchel. He never considered harming you anyway, because he rather liked you, despite the skittish nature and infuriating stubbornness.
"I need you to tell me everything this deal entails."
You smiled widely, turning around amd faving him with a bright expression. He'd never seen such sweetness before, such utterly endowed innocence. It was endearing to him to know that not all the maidens of your age had been like the ones he had seen and heard. Some of them had the makings of a village whore. He didn't mind the tendencies of the village girls of course, he just appreciated the contrast.
"My mother has gone to the kingdom Naboo to acquire me a book. She will be back in three days. I wish to begin the journey to the kingdom today, spend the entirely of tomorrow within it, and then return home safely. I do not ask you for any services other than your company to guide me along."
He did accept the fact that perhaps it wasn't such a preposterous offer. Being a wanted man gave him liberties within the kingdom, like knowing all the places to lay low, the people who would turn a blind eye. He knew it wasn't hard to get to the village, and ome day wasn't a risk for him to take, as long as he was able to meet with his buyer thereafter.
"You will go where I go, and do exactly as I do. I am in control of everything from the time we leave to the time we return, and you will not question a word I say... do you understand?" He held his hand out to shake, which you gladly took, even though it was a little weird to hold someone else's hand the way you did now. Had the gesture not been in so many books, you would have foregone it completely, not understanding what it was.
"I promise, you will not regret this," you said, your smile and bubbliness getting in the way of your serious words.
"I already do."
Having met Grogu, and wondering if he was even real or not, Din was now even less excited to embark on this needless adventure. He absolutely hated the idea of children being anywhere near him, and now that there was one within close proximity, he was absolutely pertified. Especially given the fact that this one wasn't even human. Your lack of answer for what species he was also gave him great discomfort, but he shrugged it all off, knowing the less he knew the better. All he needed to do was get this over with, and he could return to his life of thieving and bounty hunting.
Standing on the front porch, staring out into the fog, he waited for you to saddle up, wrapping the child to your back the way some of the mothers in town would. He didn't let you catch him staring, because that would have been the end of his manly facade.
"Alright, we're ready," you said, standing next to him while bouncing on your toes with excitement... speaking of,
"You're not going to put on shoes?" He asked his brow slanting with one raised.
You were very confused as you let your head fall to your feet, then you realized.
"Right," you smiled with embarrassment. You cheeks were definitely bright red. "I don't have any."
Just when he thought nothing could surprise him, you hit him with that piece of strange information. What human being didn't own shoes? Even the poor kids back home had shoes, not good ones, but still had them.
"Well," you didn't have a half decent answer. Why didn't you have shoes? "I've never needed them before."
He gave you a look of near concern, which was actually reflected more for himself than you. He didn't want to have to carry you if push came to shove.
"I'll be fine without them though, I promise," you said with a firm nod of your head. He wasn't sure you would be, but he hated wasting time, and this conversation was doing just that.
"Good, I'll hold you to it when you start lagging behind."
He stepped off the steps of the porch, and you followed after him. Just this action was enough to make you heart beat rapidly.
Look at the world so close, and you're half way to it. Look at it all so big, could you even dare? You imagined yourself there at last, you just had to do it.
You rushed down the steps, feeling the grass between your toes, and the moisture of the soil seeping through. It was incredibly foreign, but ever so pleasant. You let out a breath you hadn't thought you had been holding, and smiled with foggy eyes. This was an enormous step for you, and without your mother anywhere in sight, you took off after the bounty hunter, giggling like a child while doing so.
The next greatest days of your life were beginning right now, and every possible outcome rang out of it.
IRON MANDO AU Ficlet! (A fusion of The Mandalorian & elements of Iron Man)
Premise: A friend (@veldeia) shared with me some fanart of Iron Man with a Mando-style helmet. And naturally that got me thinking of an AU where Din has an arc reactor 😭 So this silly story of IG-11 changing Din's reactor happened. I hope you enjoy the plotlessness! (Also, I had to slip in some heavy mentions of Mandomera ❤ No shame here.)
Din finds himself in the ship's medical bay, flat on his back against the cold metal exam table, bathed in scrutinizing white lights. An unsteady blipping from the wall monitor matches the throbbing in his head.
"Good, you are awake," the familiar droid's voice heralds in the distance.
"What happened?" he groans, rubbing the base of his unhelmeted skull as he maneuvers to sit upon the edge of the table. Ever since IG made the point of "being no living thing", the droid has made it a habit of removing his helmet whenever he suffers injury, something about "assessing his airway". Frustratingly, Din could never find a valid counterargument.
"You don't remember what happened?" IG's voice barely penetrates the cotton in his ears.
He shakes his head. The vague copper tang of blood sits at the back of his throat as he continues gathering his bearings. His chest aches too.
Then at once an obnoxious, blinding light flashes in his eyes.
"Dank farrik, I'm fine," he grouches dismissively at the annoying droid. He has half a mind to reprogram the well-intended stack of bolts into a proper bounty hunter again.
"Can you tell me your name?" the nurse droid begins the rigmarole.
He sighs a long-suffering breath. "Din Djarin, born in 32 BBY. It is currently 10 ABY. We are in the medical bay of my ship." Din goes through the spiel, preemptively answering the questions he knows IG will ask.
"Neurological function appears intact." IG announces, switching off the built-in penlight.
"What happened?" Din growls, rubbing his sore chest.
"You suffered cardiac arrest during our training exercises," IG relays analytically.
"Cardiac arrest?" Kriff, he surely couldn't have heard the droid right.
"You collapsed while we were practicing close-quarters combat and suffered a pulseless electrical activity arrest, so I immediately commenced chest compressions, intravenously delivered 1 mg of epinephrine hydrochloride, and continued compressions until return of spontaneous circulation was achieved 43.47 standard seconds later."
Dank farrik. He rubs his sore chest. He'd been having dizzy spells lately, which he attributed to Mandalore's lower-oxygen content and lack of sleep, but this...this was serious.
"The bacta infusion I administered while you were unconscious should help the rib fractures heal within the day." IG monitors his vitals on the wall readout.
"Does anyone else know?"
"Do not worry - no one else is aware of your current condition. The plan is still underway." IG reassures.
He feels a small sense of relief wash over him - he couldn't afford his vode to be concerned with their leader's health while they had other, vastly more important matters to attend to, in preparation for tonight. Training alone with IG as a punching target helped him think. He had been concocting a plan to take out the Imperial remnant stationed here on Mandalore. With Fett and Kryze at his side, they were taking their planet back. Six months ago, he never would have seen himself as a leader. Six months ago, it didn't seem possible that Fett and Kryze could be in the same room together without fighting to the death, but given a common cause, they had set their differences (mostly) aside. A lot has changed since Grogu left... He then thinks of his riduur and ad'ika.
IG continues. "I have determined your arc reactor requires an upgrade. Your armor, jetpack, and the Darksaber have drained too much power from its core. It is now unstable and interfering with your heart's normal electrical activity," the nurse droid gestures to the chaotic lines zigzagging on the wall monitor, in time with the uneven heartbeat he can feel stuttering beneath his ribs.
Well, kriff...this is inconvenient. But he has to get back to his vode, time is of the essence. Shand had intel that the Imps were expecting a large shipment of weapons tonight, in mere hours. If they could take out the base and commandeer resources all at once, well, two shriek-hawks, one stone. They had to strike. Moreover, it might be their only chance before the outpost is too heavily outfitted and their limited troops are overwhelmed.
"I feel fine," he asserts - he has things to do, people to help, plans to orchestrate.
"You need a replacement arc as soon as possible," IG warns.
Ignoring the well-meaning, but overbearing nurse droid, he slides from the edge of the table to get redressed. Boots touching solid ground, he collects himself for a moment, trying to acclimate to being upright. Dank farrik, he feels weak. And to make matters more frustrating, IG had overzealously removed all his upper armor and flight suit, leaving his upper body completely bare. He knows it's because his armor dampens his vitals from the monitors, as IG has explained countless times before, but that fact makes it no less annoying.
"Please lay back down," IG cordially requests.
Din ignores the hovering droid, but as soon as he stands to his full height, the room sluggishly teeters, gravity overwhelms him and he stumbles, knocking into a tray of sterile surgical implements. The metal tools clatter and scatter over the hard floor. He braces for impact, but just before he lands atop the sharp tools, a metal grip stops him short.
IG slowly brings him upright. "Like I was saying, your heart's electrical signals are experiencing interference from the unstable arc reactor. Blood flow to your brain is intermittently compromised, and you will likely suffer cardiac arrest again. The reactor requires immediate replacement." IG guides Din back onto the exam table. "Plus, I promised Omera I would bring you back alive."
Besides the spinning room, he definitely can't argue with that last point - a small smile escapes him as he imagines his riduur giving explicit instruction to IG. He's no good to anyone cold, but especially not to Omera or Winta. He had to be there for them, and the unborn child Omera carries. A lot has indeed changed since Grogu left with the Jedi.
"Fortunately, since you began experiencing dizzy-spells, I have been working on an improved arc reactor design, one that generates greater power with fewer negative side effects and a much longer half-life." IG explains. Din can't say he's very surprised. IG was observant, if not incessant. Of course he'd constructed a backup option. He was a problem solver like his late creator. Din smiles, feeling something bittersweet, remembering the kind Ugnaught.
The droid produces a new glowing blue reactor, but this one is shaped as a kar'ta beskar. "The geometry is more anatomically agreeable, if I do say so myself."
Din very much appreciates the sentiment. "Thank you."
"I require your formal consent before I continue with the replacement procedure," IG informs, its little optical scope honed in on Din's face.
"Make it quick," Din finally consents. He lays back on the table, closing his eyes to regain his see-sawing equilibrium. Nausea creeps from his stomach up into his esophagus, and he's suddenly hyperaware of how his heart flip-flops like a fish on dry land inside his chest. He thinks of his wife and daughter and Grogu - they are his ultimate meaning. If anything goes awry... His hand absent-mindedly traces the current malfunctioning reactor, sitting above his most vital organ, which thumps faster, more erratically.
"Do not be nervous. There is only a 0.0000876% chance that this procedure causes severe irreparable disability and an even lesser chance of fatality. I have run 3,755,376,995 tests and the new arc reactor hasn't failed any." IG's pincer-like fingers align and grip around the faulty device buried in his chest.
Din scoffs, the only thing keeping dozens of beskar shrapnel from tearing his beating heart and lungs to shreds is about to be removed and replaced by a prototype. "I'm not nervous."
"I have analyzed your vitals and conclude that you are indeed stressed. I can administer a sedative if you'd like."
Din side-eyes the glorified tin can. "No. No drugs. I need my head clear for the mission. Now, just get this ov-"
Before Din can finish his sentence, the reactor is removed, torn from his chest without warning. It feels like all the wind is stolen from his lungs and he's paralyzed. Alarms blare on the vitals monitor. Din is panicked, suffocating.
"Like ripping off a bandage, I believe the human saying goes," IG amuses itself. It swiftly turns back and connects the new reactor. "I apologize for the momentary discomfort." The droid nestles the new shape into his chest, sending sharp twinges beneath what's left of his sternum.
Suddenly, the crushing weight is lifted.
"There, it is over with, as you requested." IG announces.
He can breathe again and the blaring alarms taper back to a consistent, predictable rhythm. Any pain quickly dissipates.
"Dank farrik," he groans, rubbing around the new shape in the center of his chest.
"Your vitals are returning to within normal limits." IG quirks its head, studying the monitor's readings. The droid then runs a medscanner over his chest. "Shrapnel is stable, no significant damage incurred during the replacement. Power levels are holding steady." IG reports, then steps closer. "How do you feel?"
Din thinks about it, then slowly sits upright, careful not to overdo it. Besides some ribs still on the mend from compressions, he actually feels pretty good. Like really good. No dizziness whatsoever, no fatigue, no shortness of breath. Hell, it's the best he's felt since...well, since he can remember.
"Good," Din nods, absentmindedly touching the new shape in his chest.
"The real test awaits," IG retrieves his armor and flak vest.
Din methodically dons his gear, then powers up the suit and fires his jetpack to neutral. So far so good.
"The reactor's power level and your vitals are stable and strong," IG reports.
It was one thing to stand idle in the suit and another to actually use it. He needs to exert himself a little. Din looks around the medical bay and gets an idea.
"Time for a test run." He grips the heavy metal exam table and begins lifting it with exceptional ease.
"Power levels and vitals are holding steady," IG reports.
He sets the table back down as gently as he can. When he lets go, the metal is crumpled from where he'd gripped it.
"Sorry," he cringes.
"It's a success - you're even stronger than before." IG compliments.
He'll have to acclimate to the new power level, but that's a minor hurdle. He can test it out on the Imps tonight. More importantly, IG saved him yet again.
"Thank you," he nods reverently at the tall medic droid.
"You are welcome," IG quirks its head. "And I am pleased that Omera will not have me reprogrammed for junkyard sorting."
Din chuckles. She's been more feisty since her pregnancy.
"Now let's defeat the Imperial scum," IG candidly switches topic. "I calculate the plan you shared before passing out holds a 87.96% chance of success."
Din huffs amusedly, drawing the Darksaber from its hilt and it glows brighter than ever. "I like those odds."
A/N: Yes, a cheesy ending 🧀 Those Imps won't know what hit 'em 🤜 And immediately after reclaiming Mandalore, Din will return to Sorgan to pick up his family. Omera will inevitably find out about the above incident (sorry Din, can't hide that new kar'ta beskar arc reactor). She won't be happy at all that he kept it quiet, but incredibly grateful for IG. She won't let Din leave her side for as long as she can, and she needs to ensure with 100% certainty that he's ok, so every morning she'll have IG run a full diagnostic (and Din will begrudgingly do so for his worried pregnant wife). Oh, and Winta will beg him to demolish things ("hey Din, can you crush this melon?", "can you smash that boulder?", "can you tie this pipe in a knot?") and for faster jetpack rides 😁
henlo friends! a few months ago the little tickle of an idea was born in my head and finally today it sees the light, I’m starting a podfic!
and the first thing I read out loud is one of my favorite fics ever in the world, i hope you like it, and thanks a lot to birby for letting me do this and to @starlightmornings for all your knowledge of the podfic world.
so here we have it!
you can listen in YouTube:
or in Spotify:
feel free to send suggestions of fics you wanna listen! 💖💖