Chapter 1: Nighttime confessional
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(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
St Francis Xavier Church*, New York, January 14 2018 (Poe's POV)
Poe Dameron comes into the small parish completely aware that he's got some pretty big shoes to fill. Father Obi-Wan Kenobi was a legend in his own right and everyone will compare him to the now deceased priest whose position he will assume. Despite the gothic scenery the parish is comfortable but small, it has a homey feel that seeps in a pleasant sensation. Kinda like a bowl of hot soup on a rainy day. Maybe that's why old Kenobi turned the offer to accept the bishop-hood of Missouri they'd offered him back in the 70s. It had been one of the most questionable moments of the man's life but if the way those hundreds of people acted at the old priest's funeral (which he insisted on holding at nighttime, quite aggressively if his long-time friend and fellow activist Reverend Mother Tano of Covenant House is to be believed) it was a decision nobody in Brooklyn was disappointed with when he turned down the offer. 'He was a father of the Church and a father to us all', said the liberal priest Quinlan Vos who'd been among the radical Catholic clergy growing marijuana in the 60s at Obi-Wan's service. Poe knows a good father would never leave his children behind.
For a split second at the funeral Poe thought he saw one of the men sitting at the service zoom like the Flash (Yes, he watches Flash and legends of Tomorrow in CW. Poe's pretty sure he's allowed to chill every now and then. it's actually mean of people to assume that all he and his fellow clergymen are allowed to watch is re-runs of Cecil B Demille's* movies. Even if they are good quality films he wouldn't want to just see them for 50-60 years) and kiss the old priest's head before Poe laid the body to rest. But when he turned around the blonde man was still in his seat, as if nothing transpired. Though an older man next to him knocked the blonde on the back of his head for some reason, Poe figures it was probably a father-son bashing done in good nature since the two men had seemed pretty close, like they'd known each other their whole lives and the older woman beside them was probably the blonde's mother since she held his hand in the most maternal way possible. She looked feisty, Poe imagines that she was a real firecracker in her younger days.
He still can't understand why old Kenobi chose him, the novice with a stint in jail for protesting in 2015 and a slew of 'controversial' tendencies; Poe Dameron was keen on reform yet still thought Mass was more appropriate in Latin so he was a bit of an outcast on both sides. Poe was nobody's first choice for this job and he knew it, Father Dameron was the 258th priest to be interviewed by the old priest who had to keep a notebook of his days now that the Alzheimer's effect was growing. Obi-Wan had done hundreds of these interviews searching for a 'worthy keeper of the flame' as he called it. Dameron thought the elder must have run out of decent options if he was considering Poe to inherit his legacy or maybe the degenerative brain disease clouded his logic early. Father Kenobi never asked the same questions twice which meant nobody knew the correct answer to his interview. The elder asked him a jumble of odd questions but the one that stuck with Poe was 'How would you react to a being who by definition is supposedly irredeemable?' He took a risk and answered that no one is irredeemable 'by definition' as he so called it. At least not in this branch of Christianity. The Catholic Church didn't promote predestination, anyone could be saved if they GENUINELY worked to make amends for their sins and delivered their soul to God and if the old coot didn't know that then he wasn't as wise as everybody believed him to be. Apparently that was the right answer cause two days later they called him to say he'd been selected as Obi-Wan's successor once he died.
The old priest managed to die 'in the lucky state' as the nurses called it, when he could still remember who he was and how to eat and breathe, though he'd been stuck in the past most hours and kept asking for people who were dead long before Poe was born. Doctor Shaak Ti said the old priest was worried about 'his boy' in the last days and tried to sneak out of the hospital to find this person several times in broad daylight, claiming he needed to help him. (Probably a man he knew in WWII or Korea, the old priest was a war veteran in a time where PTSD wasn't recognized and the Alzheimer's probably brought him back to the same battle-shocked mind state of his youth). When Poe inquired how they managed to abate that run-away instinct at nighttime the woman claimed that Father Kenobi was always very calm at nighttime, always giddy to receive his grandson who was such a sweet young man and came every day after his long day workhours were finished without fail and made the old priest's eyes shine, this caused Shaak Ti to complain about her good-for nothing niece Barriss who couldn't even be bothered to see her mother Luminara when she was getting a kidney transplant once. That confused Poe: Obi-wan had no children, he was the role model for celibacy in modern times. If it were Quinlan Vos then sure, Poe wouldn't be surprised to learn the hippie priest had a kid but Obi-Wan who never looked at a person below the face? It didn't make sense then, it still doesn't make sense now after Poe searched through the federal files and found Obi-Wan had no blood relatives whatsoever. The fact Obi-Wan specifically asked for his 'grandson's' visits to be erased from the nursing home tapes after his death only made the whole thing even more confusing. How many secrets did the old man take with him to the grave? No use asking that, what matters now is following Father Kenobi's last coherent wish.
Like everything regarding the old priest, his wish had been shrouded in mystery. Father Kenobi left him a series of instructions for nightly confessions that he was only to open after reading- What was it the old man's note said? Oh right:
'My dearest friend to whom I have served as confessor since I was 38 and whom I beseech you not to judge for the affliction that ails him. For he is the purest of his kind and long has he brought me hope for humanity. He only takes nighttime confessions so make sure you get proper rest on the days he comes to prevent your over-exertion. Expect him around nine o clock, don't worry about keeping the doors open cause locks are rendered powerless under my friend. Should you allow it he will aid you to the best of his abilities. Please listen to him as I have listened to him, my parting will only increase his sorrows. I love the boy like a son and will be eternally grateful to you if you extend a hand in friendship to him as I heretofore desire.'
Huh, even when his memories were being slowly fried into a crisp Old Kenobi still managed to talk and write like he was part of some Shakespearean drama actor in a epic monologue. Still making the rest of us look bad without even trying but being so courteous in the way he achieved it that he couldn't be hated or even disliked. No wonder the drug cartels tried to kill him five times for meddling in their affairs (famously turning Assaj Ventress from drug dealer to Catholic Nun after she confessed her crimes and did 12 years in jail, leading the FBI to shut down a fifth of New York's drug cartels and earning Obi-Wan his nickname of the Negotiator) if this is how he convinced people at his weakest point then the man must have been savagely brutal back in his glory days. He wonders what the old man meant by 'affliction' and if this son in all save blood has anything to do with the 'boy' he kept trying to find in his episodes.
There's a good chance 'affliction' is just a euphemism for drug use. Father Kenobi spent decades working with the folks at Covenant House to provide those society abandoned with shelter and in far more cases than they'd like rehabilitation. Obi-Wan was probably helping some poor street kid that ended up using drugs to escape the harsh reality around him but is fully aware of the stigma people have on addiction, how they treat it like a crime instead of a public health issue. Probably learned how to pick a lock to steal food from a foster parent that put keys and chains on the fridge. A sad tale repeated far too many times with far too little time in between the next person who tells that lachrymose story. What doesn't add up is the 'since I was 38' part of the note. Kenobi was 98 years old when he died and yet he still referred to Poe's confessor as a boy when he should be at least 40-80 years old if the timeline's correct. Poe chalks it down to the Alzheimer's confusing him even earlier than everyone thought, causing old Kenobi to mix up this current boy with another youth he helped decades ago using the same methods or with the boy he was probably forced to leave behind in some bloodied battlefield that haunted him till the end of his days.
Past blending in a sick brain or not there's still a troubled young lad out there who needs his help so Poe prepares blankets, organizes a box of non perishable food and buys some one size fits all sweaters just in case the person is homeless and/or hungry. He's seen other, less dogmatic members of the clergy offer food and drink to ease people in before confessing with good results. He hopes the poor kid opens up to him, grief has a way of making you want to ignore the world. Poe barely talked to anyone except his father when he lost his mother and that was the reaction of a boy with a comfortable lifestyle and a good support system. Most of the 'street rats' Poe's encountered are running away from abusive homes or simply got tossed away like yesterday's garbage by those who should have protected them from the world, all of them good kids that deserve better. Just in case he brings Obi-Wan's note so the kid sees he can be trusted.
At 8:45 pm Father Poe Dameron lies in wait for the promised visitor, box not far if he needs to hand it over to the young lad. He reads Obi-Wan's work file from Covenant House to see if he can narrow down the possibilities for this elusive visitor but sadly there's far too much ambiguity in the old man's note for him to link this boy whom Poe'll give confession to in fifteen minutes if he arrives on time. Was it so difficult to place the name of this kid in a piece of paper? How's he supposed to get a read on him if he's diving blind into the situation. Deciding he's done enough contemplating over the lack of identity of Obi-wan's last mission Poe tends to the candles near the large organ built in 1899 that serves as a decoration and an instrument at the same time. He's tempted the play the large musical treasure. Well, two or three notes won't kill anyone and the church is empty until the kid comes....
Seeing as today marks the last day of octavas* Poe decides to find out what one of his native Puerto Rican songs would sound like in this baroque-style organ that definitely didn't have a single parranda tune in mind when they built this baby. He'd like to see the look on the architect's face if it were possible to laugh at their shock-ridden open mouths open finding out that their haughty masterpiece is going to play a 'bean-eater' Christmas carol.
de la montaña
de mi cabaña
que alegre está,
y a mis amigos
les traigo flores
de las mejores
de mi rosal.
y a mis amigos
les traigo flores
de las mejores
de mi rosal."*
Poe hears a voice laughing. "And here I thought Obi-wan was going to send me a priest, looks like he sent a singer instead." That can't be him already, my clock says it's 8:50 pm and I would've heard the large mahogany doors being opened. Though this doesn't sound like a kid, more like someone in his early 20s. That shouldn't surprise me: at 98 everyone was a baby next to Father Kenobi, now let me turn around and see what this friend of Obi-Wan looks like.
The sight before him is nothing even remotely close to what he expected. Instead of a malnourished kid who's had a rough break the 'visitor' in question is lean, well-dressed in black, athletically built and worst of all making the young priest who's sworn to abstinence very much aware of the fact that his sexual orientation is bisexuality with those enchanting blue eyes and that lovely shade of blonde hair- Wait a minute: I've seen this guy before, this is the same blonde that zoomed at Obi-Wan's funeral. That proves he cared about the old man at least but I don't understand what I'm supposed to help this guy with. Is he some rich kid struggling with bulimia or something? Cause really Poe doesn't see what's wrong with him.
"You're confused, aren't you kid?"
"Is it that obvious. Also don't call me kid, I'm 29 years old. You're the kid, don't look a day over 23."
The blonde standing at the edge of the balcony laughs and it's the hollow chuckle of one carrying an invisible burden. Poe walks over to take a closer look at the youth's eyes, trying to assess him and discovers that while this mysterious youth may bear the face of someone in his early twenties his eyes are those of an old man. Filled with experience and tribulations and what may or may not be the silent plea for someone to save him from a personal hell that his life has slowly but surely carved out for him. Also, there's an air about him- a sort of ethereal yet simultaneously sensual and dangerous quality that transcends time and space, like-like old and powerful magic. No, this man is not in his twenties. This man might not even be a man at all. Whatever this man is scares him.
"Clever boy. Didn't take you long to figure it out. Do me a favor and lose the smell of fear, it doesn't suit you."
Saying he can smell fear didn't exactly help.
"Who are you? What are you? What's your name?"
"We're all so much more complicated than our names. Don't you agree Benny Goodman?"
If that's his idea of a joke then it's not funny, Poe didn't even know who the guy is.
"Tell me who you are or I'll call the police."
Oh, great: he was laughing again..."To spare you the embarrassment of explaining to the cops while trying not to look crazy, I'll answer: My name is Luke Skywalker. I was born in 1919 Germany to Anakin Skywalker and Padme Naberrie-"
"Impossible: you'd be 99 years old."
"98 actually, I'm turning 99 in three days."
"And what are you?"
"Talamaur,Nosferatu, Vrykolakas, Vampir. Take your pick on what you wanna call me."
Ay Dios Mio... There's a vampire in front of him!! Poe can practically hear his old school friend Jessika saying 'I told you so'. Where's the holy water? Oh, wait it's on the first floor. Was this punishment for goofing around In Theology Class when he already knew the material cause no offense God, but he don't think that merits him getting his blood sucked off by a monster!!! In a panicked mode the young priest struggles to unhook his rosary from his belt and exorcise the demonic being. As a result he falls off the balcony. Poe waits for the sound of his bones cracking once he hits the floor and hopes the vampire kills him in the 50s movie style instead of that weird film about vampires in Alaska where it was messy and painful-Wait, what happened? How am I standing on the first floor instead of nursing a broken leg until my blood's sucked? Someone's holding me-
"Now that you got that out of your system, are you going to behave like a priest or are you going to try and reach for the holy water, which by the way doesn't work on me."
The vampire slowly releases Poe from his grasp. "You saved my life?"
"Oh good, you can be taught."
"Aren't you gonna suck my blood or something?"
"No, for three simple reasons: the first being your blood smells like junk food which is a horrifying stench if there ever was one. Two, you seem like a nice kid and three: I'm trying to hold on to my humanity, draining you dry doesn't exactly help that goal."
A being who by definition is supposedly irredeemable, a vampire that can enter Church with no repercussions and just saved his life...So that's what the old bastard meant. He could have given Poe a little more warning!!!! Something like: Oh and by the way my 'dear friend' is a vampire, hope you don't mind!' Poe is still fuming over the old priest's lack of clarification when he places his hand on his belt and finds his rosary's gone. He looks around the floor, searching for the religious artifact until common (or perhaps crazy) sense compels him to walk over to the vam- to the man, Luke was it? Yeah that was his name, it's a good name, an evangelist name, who is now seated at one of the long wooden pews near the altar of Christ. Man, Poe's been a jerk. Here the guy is trying to be a good man and a good Christian against all odds and what did I do? Try to exorcise him. He softly approaches Luke, not knowing how to apologize. But the guy doesn't look at him like he expects an exorcism as Poe sat next to him so there was a good start.
*Saint Francis Xavier Church was founded in 1886, and is recognizable for its Gothic architecture and granite and limestone construction. The historical church is home to a welcoming Roman Catholic congregation. It offers mass and programs for children, teens and adults, and is active in the community through outreach programs, a soup kitchen and collaboration with Covenant House. It also offers one of the most welcoming Catholic environments towards members of the LGBT community. At least that's what my friend studying in New York told me, I've never been there myself.
*Cecil B Demille: Writer/director of 'The Ten Commandments', 'King of Kings', 'Samson and Delilah' and 'The Sign of the Cross'.
*Here at Puerto Rico we have the longest Christmas Season in the world, we celebrate advent and on Christmas Eve we have midnight church, we have three king's day on January 6th and Octavas celebrates their return to their kingdom from January 9th to the 14th. Come to think, that's probably the reason I still have enough Christmas cheer left to write a holiday crossover near the end of January.....
Hands out tin cup: Comments please???
Chapter 2: Heart attacks and friendly nurses
Chapter by regnumveritatis
January 16, 4 am, Skywalker Manor, Phoenicia; New York (Luke's POV)
The 'survival instinct' which proved Luke's ongoing belief that saving somebody's life is guaranteed to improve how they think about you had passed, Poe Dameron turned to be the most curious human being Luke had met since that talk with Harper Lee in 1962. On their second nightly confession Poe actually heard his sins and ordered his penance, though Dameron seemed that thinking about killing people wasn't as bad as Luke made it to be. The boy listened without judging. That in itself was a rarer gift than most of humanity believed. The young priest asked about the limits of what religious artifacts he could and couldn't touch, Luke answered with the truth: apart from silver or garlic or the wooden stakes and of course sunlight none of the traditional weapons of faith work on him.
Why? Neither he or Obi-Wan ever found out, the only logical reason they could think was that Luke hadn't renounced God and that he had never killed to drink human blood. This of course led to young Dameron's scent and the noise coming from his vowels to reveal he repressed vomit once Luke told him he survived the 40s by drinking from fresh corpses of the battlefield and rats when he needed a small outlet for his hunting instinct. (Kids these days, they're all so pampered. In the depression we played with dead rats if there wasn't any toys). Still, he can see how Obi-Wan decided this boy was a good successor. Not replacement. No one could ever replace Obi-wan, a man only had one godfather. The old man left Luke a person who he could befriend once he got through the shock of his vampirism. What were you thinking old man when you sent the poor boy such an ambiguous note? He decides it mattered little in the end: Obi-Wan always did what he thought was best for him, if he acted this way then it meant he thought it was the most suitable course of action.
Chewie came to pick him up from confession as usual. The Turkish giant had been an invaluable friend to Luke since Han introduced them in the seventies. It took the tall man a while to adjust to how Luke opened the door so quick on reflex but eventually they got the hang of it, after three decades of friendship/business relationship each knows the other inside out. Luke hated how in his all too seeing eye Chewie he noticed is getting slower. How everyone he loves is getting older and he was stuck in this ageless body that served the double function of mask and prison.
It was reasons like this which had lead to a slight breakdown in the nineties when Leia's first gray hair showed up. Han found him trying to dye his hair white that night, trying to scar his perpetually youthful skin into looking like wrinkles somehow because God knows he wanted to be old. He was victim of the cruelest joke, his face is cursed to reflect the same weariness of the current generation. A generation obsessed with highlighting its youth and its carnal depravities, meanwhile Luke Skywalker would gladly switch bodies with them in a heartbeat if it meant he could see him and Leia and Han and Wedge and Chewie all grey-haired and complaining about back pain or talking about children that he'd know wouldn't outlive him. As if sensing his grim mood once he steps inside the house, Han gives him a specialty bear hug and ruffles his hair in the way that always manages to lift his spirits. What was he going to do when Han died? He'd made Han, and Leia such a big part of his life that it seems wrong to continue it without them... Solo was blissfully unaware of Luke's dark thoughts as he looked at the grandfather clock that marked the hour, playfully shaking his head in disapproval.
"You're cutting it a little close today aren't you kid?"
"Han, it's 3 am not the blazing midday. Would you relax?"
"Easy for you to say. You're not the one who has to deal with Leia worrying about how she'll identify your ashes."
"No, but I raised her since she was 4 so I sympathize. Speaking of which, where is my little princess?"
"In the back, tending to her Forget-me-nots. There's a rabbit eating them, suppose you-"
"You realize that your granddaughter loves that bunny and she's gonna ask where it is?"
"Bunnies run away all the time right? And rabbits are vegetarians, it'd be like eating a salad for you."
Only Han.... Luke gained an extra hour of sleep on his coffin while waiting for Leia. He was going to need it when Jacen came home with his endless array of old man jokes that stopped being funny after the kid turned twelve. He applied the blinds that he got from that company in Alaska to keep any stray light out of the room as Han went to fetch his wife. Watching the sun set and rise was once his favorite part of the day, now it's little more than a fading sensation. The man's watched recordings and movies of the event but nothing compared to the actual yellow celestial orb showering it's warmth down upon his body. Now the same glow would turn him to dust if he tried to catch its warmth.
It's around 7 pm when he wakes up. The sound of Han frying sausages as he flipped the meat was stronger now that sleep no longer dulled his senses. He catches a whiff of Tenel Ka's gardenia hand cream which means that Jacen and Allana are also present. Where's Anakin Solo when you need him? Oh right, he's somewhere in Africa with his girlfriend providing potable water for the thirsty people of the Sudan. Luke gave him a magic snowdrop for protection just in case, if he can spare Han and Leia's youngest son his fate then maybe his life won't have been meaningless.
Allana stepped wobbly towards 'Gramps' as the little girl's traitorous father taught her to call Luke. If not for the fact everything sounds cute coming out of what is technically his great granddaughter's mouth then he'd begrudge Jacen the title. Oh who is he kidding? Under no circumstances outside of actual genocide or religious persecution would Luke hate anything Jacen or Jaina or Anakin ever did. He already proved that when he didn't resent them for sneaking inside his coffin and trying to paint his fingernails pink while he was in hibernation. (Though that probably had more to do with how Han and Leia's children saw his reflexes kick in: saw the horrible red tint that his eyes take in 'attack mode', the unnatural fangs, the ashen tone that his skin takes and wordlessly decided the solution was hugging him. Pressing their innocent flesh near his monstrously disgusting body.... Yeah, they're good kids even if they drove him crazy from time to time.)
"Have a good day's sleep Mr. Skywalker?"
"Yes, thank you Tenel Ka. Did you and Jacen enjoy the veterinarian conference in India?"
"It was all right but I ran into this weird sooth-sayer lady that kept begging for me to bring my Pey? so it could grant her sick husband the kiss of death. She said 'its presence envelops your chakra' or something like that. Don't suppose you know what she meant by any chance?"
"The Pey are the Hindi mythology vampires of battlegrounds and wars that thrives on the fallen, while their female incarnation, called the Peymakilir performs a ritual dance as she devours bloodied corpses. She preferred to devour the flesh of the dying and dead, while the Pey drinks their blood.While the Peymakilir is seen as a vicious harbringer of death, the Pey on the other hand is sometimes recognized as an angel of mercy because the soldiers may be mortally wounded and dying a slow, agonizing death. The merciful vampires drain them and expedite their journey into the next life. More ancient sources claim the Pey also grant a quick death to former soldiers whose deeds are so awe-inspiring that they need no further reincarnations."
"So you're saying this woman's husband was some sort of old veteran that wanted to die or she thought her husband was worthy of you killing him?"
"Pretty much, what was your reaction to her?"
"I paid for her whole family's medical expenses and gave her and her husband a room at Padme's old Naboo mansion. She seemed to like it."
Leia chooses that moment to come in, asking how in the world did Luke and Tenel Ka believe it was a good idea to expose a two year old baby girl to tales of flesh being ripped off before she even learned to read. Luke countered that if Leia really adhered herself to that idea then she wouldn't have let an undead creature of the night babysit her children or her grandchildren for that matter. Her bemused smile has more wrinkles now that only his eyes can observe, tiny creases in an otherwise unchanged epidermis that will soon widen her crow's feet. Beautiful baby Leia that had rosy pink cheeks and chubby arms when Obi-Wan Kenobi decided, for whatever motives went through his godfather's brain, that the orphaned child of the Organa white witch covenant was better off with a lonely vampire that made his neighbour's cats dissapear. Bringing Leia to him was probably the most important step old Kenobi ever did to preserve Luke's humanity, with Leia in his life in his life he had something to live for again. Luke figured Obi-wan's reasoning for giving him Leia was that she needed a guardian capable of sensing how the atmosphere changed when her toddler body released juvenile bursts of magic that she was unable to control until she turned 6. A normal parent would have died several times over with some of the power surges she experienced those first years. Hell, if he'd been human then Luke would have died on the first week with her when she cried and accidentally made the floor dissappear, letting him fall five floors down the marble.
When he and Obi-wan enrolled her in school he'd still carried the role of father, he wrapped himself in a bunch of fabric and wore enchanted black gloves and sunglasses her first day just so he could experience a father's pride at watching his little girl take her first steps into a larger world. Leia hadn't been aware that he wasn't human back then, accepting her personal reality as absolute the way only very small children do. She innocently exposed his right arm for a brief moment just before she entered school, it blistered and charred so badly that he had to drink six blood bags just to prevent the limb from being rendered useless. (He'd gladly repeat the same actions in that day just to see that brilliant smile with a missing tooth she granted him that moment.) His little princess lived with a daddy that never went outside at daytime but loved her very much and that was all she wanted to know. It wasn't until she saw how other families lived and acted that Leia realized she wasn't the only 'odd' one in their small nuclear unit. (Luke forces the memory of how she found about his 'affliction' out of mind, shoves her terrified scream deep enough that it won't hurt. That was one of the worst moments of his life, counting his human years and his afterlife. If Obi-Wan hadn't said whatever it was he said to bring her back then the 7 year old girl would have jumped on a bus and left him alone forever...)
"Only happy thoughts and memories in the kitchen Luke, especially around my granddaughter."
"Leia, do you have to read my aura like that? It's an invasion of privacy."
"Says the man who used ancient Norse runes to track me during my dates since I was 15."
"Oh for Christ's sake princess, let it go. I was a single dad in the seventies and eighties, ask half of your old schoolmates's parents and they'll tell you that they would have done the exact same thing if they'd known how."
"I'll have you know i trusted my sons and my daughter in their high school years."
"Of course you did sweetie. You had your husband as the school principal. I didn't have any inside people when you were a kid."
Han decided to agree with Luke on the fact that one can never be too careful when your kids are the ones involved after he finished cooking. Tenel Ka openly declared herself a neutral party and just focused on ensuring her daughter ate her vegetables, whispering to her baby girl 'our family's nuts but they love us so don't you turn your back on them okay honey?' in a loving tone that reminds Luke of how Aunt Beru used to talk to him about Uncle Owen as a kid. Wise and amicable Beru Whitesun, so many years gone. What would you and Uncle Owen have done if you were still alive when I was turned? In his idyllic scenario they both declared that he's still their baby boy and he takes care of them in their old age, they die in the eighties after having spoiled Leia to their heart's content. In his nightmares Beru Whitesun and Owen Lars declared he's not Luke anymore, just an evil creature that just so happened to be wearing his face. That nightmare usually ends with him letting them drive a wooden stake through his heart. Truly, not knowing is the worst of all options.
Allana asking very loudly for 'the flying spoon' snapped him back to the 21st century. He watched as Leia performed her beginner's level levitation spell to entertain her granddaughter into eating proper nourishment. Maybe he should bring young Father Dameron some home-cooked meals every now and then? It would take a week of them for that revolting stench of chemically processed garbage to flush out of Poe's bloodstream...Maybe that's not such a good idea, their trust is tenuous still and the boy might think he's trying to mold him into an edible meal if he says the wrong thing.
"Mom! Please stop feeding her that way. How are we gonna put Allana in daycare if she only wants to eat when you make her food float?" Oh, enter Jacen..
"Daycare?!? You have me, your father, Uncle Chewie AND Luke to take care of her. Why would you even consider placing my grandchild in daycare?"
'Leia', thought Luke, 'don't start fighting, it's too early in the night for me to hear this.. Jacen, please say something intelligent and spare me the migraine.'
"Allana needs social interaction." He blew it. He had the opportunity to make a sound arguement for, and he blew it.
"Social interaction? That's talking with people, right? Are you saying we're not people, Jacen?" Leia didn't do much better with her response.
"I'm not saying that, but leading psychologists have proven that being around kids the same age helps develop their socials skills."
"No offense kid, but when I was your age those same psychologists thought it was swell to do lobotomies on people. Take my advice and forget everything you read in those Abercrombies said. And listen to your mother."
Luke was readying his own, and rather sound argument in his mind to counter whatever it is Jacen will say, anxious to just have mother and son come to a truce of some sort when he hears it: the 'hiccup' in Leia's cardiac palpitation which leaves him with a feeling of dark foreboding. Just like that, everything previously discussed became irrelevant. Leia stood next to a granite cupboard, and he needed to move her somewhere less risk-inducing. He flashed her to the living room sofa, where the floor was covered in carpets and speed-dialed 911.
"Yes, 911. I have an emergency. My mother is showing signs of a heart attack. Please send a fully equipped ambulance. We're at Phoenicia, the old Skywalker Manor. Yes, the one that's supposedly haunted. Hurry, please. Thank you. Yes, we'll stay connected."
"Luke. This is certainly a new way to break an argument. What's next? Han having a cerebral meltdown to avoid shopping for groceries?" Usually he'd love her sharp wit, but right now his princess' life was in danger.
"This isn't funny Leia, we need to get you to a hospital. "
"Honestly, I'm fin-" It's only Luke's superhuman reflexes which allow him to halt her, somehow still elegant, fall to the floor. Luke raced her over to the ambulance that had just entered the restricted access gate, not caring if anyone saw the impossible feat. The nurses slid her over to the gurney and asked if he'll be accompanying them to the hospital. Oh shit, he needed to call Han and Jacen...
"How long ago was the stroke?" A young nurse asked him something he can't answer truthfully. The young man before him is African-American, in his mid-twenties or so. Older than him, everyone's older...Luke snapped himself out of it. 'You idiot! Leia needs you to keep your head on straight.'
"About three minutes ago. We were driving away from the Manor when I called. Is she going to be all right?" Please God, let her see Anakin and Tahiri get married. Luke knew it was selfish of him to beg anything of God and his angels, but he couldn't lose Leia when he was still mourning Obi-wan. 'Please God, grant us just a little more time together.'
The young man looked him straight in the eye, not shying away from the situation. Huh, he liked this kid. Under different circumstances he'd be considering an introduction with Jaina's friend Tionne since she seems incapable of finding her own dates. "She'll be fine. It was a minor stroke and she didn't hit the floor, which usually adds further strain to the heart. You called us in time."
Leia's going to be fine...He almost wept in relief at the news, but then he remembered his 'affliction' caused him to shed tears of blood which would raise unwanted questions so he refrained from any emotional outlets barring the soft lullaby he sang to calm Leia down in their drive to the hospital. Leia's worried that Jacen will blame himself for her stroke, he ressured her, should her son decide the fault of this lies with him then he'll convince the eldest Solo sibling of the opposite one way or another. She's breathing better by the time they open the ambulance and go straight into the emergency room. They rush her into surgery and he flashed a kiss on her forehead before they send him to the waiting room. Luke heard doctors bark orders at several operations happening all at once, smells varying degrees of pus and blood and urine, sees the little kids waiting through the painted window that's supposed to be a two way mirror on the other side. Yes, this is EXACTLY the kind of environment that would have given him sensory overload in the early days of his vampirism.
"Mister Skywalker?" The unexpected sound of his name being pronounced causes him to raise his head in confusion. His eyes met with the almost comical sight of a young woman in typical blue nurse uniform, carrying the distinct smell of cheap coffee, salad and ugh, was that Doritos? She was so close to having an unpolluted scent, why did she have to go and eat Doritos? Garbage aside, the nurse had one of the nicest faces he's observed in years: no makeup, no gaudy piercings, no indication that she was eternally bored, like the rest of her peers have stapled unto their brows. Just a pure, natural essence that manages to exude strength without sacrificing her femininity. And was she blushing? That's kinda cut-What is he doing?!? Leia was in a hospital bed and he was admiring a child? 'Forget confession, I'm officially hell-bound.'
"Mister Skywalker" she spoke a little more urgently this time, with a slight hiss. That's how Luke realized that for normal ears this would be a whisper.
"Yes, that's me."
"Your mother's just out of surgery. Do you want to go see her?" Of course he wanted to see Leia. What kind of question is that? He wouldn't have spent three hours here after calling Han, who unfortunately just went for coffee with Jacen while Tenel Ka stayed at home with Allana, trying to contact Anakin in the Sudan and Jaina in South America. (Why were none of Han and Leia's kids normal?) But the question had to be rhetorical. New York regulation stated that all visitors of open-heart surgery patients had to wait two hours after the operation is over.
"Miss, I think you forgot to read the regulations. I can't enter for another two hours."
"No, I know the regulations but the surgeon says she's stable now and my friend Finn says you were really worried about her so I'm bending the rules a little? Lord knows if I had a mother then I'd be worried si-"
The nurse stops herself, her scent took on the distinctive smell of embarrassment. 'If I had a mother,' the wom-the girl said. This girl, with chipped fingernails and a hint of past malnutrition in what his eyes, upon closer inspection, perceived were once gaunt cheekbones. Her brown hair is still recovering from the effects, almost microscopically brittle at the end of the locks she'd no doubt trimmed herself. Her hazel eyes still yearned, the same yearning Luke's cerulean irises once held when he innocently spoke of the father he'd never known. All right, it's not a rhetorical question, just an illegal question asked by a compassionate orphan's soul who wanted to spare others from suffering. The epitome of what a nurse should be.
"I'd like that very much. Lead the way, my lady." One of these days he'd figure out why the shyer girls in the last decade always seem to perk up when he called them that. He'd asked Han and Wedge about it once but both his friends seemed to think it was a hilarious joke, laughing without giving any answers.
"I'm Rey, by the way. Rey Jakku."
He took her by the arm, as etiquette called for. "Nice to meet you , Rey Jakku. I'm Luke Skywalker."
This time the girl smelt like Leia did when she met Han.
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Chapter 3: The start of a crush
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A few minutes after chapter 2 (Rey's POV)
The first thing Rey noticed about Luke Skywalker on their short trek to his mother's room, wasn't how handsome he was (though she's quick to admit that's the best surprise she's had all night) or how his manners were just as good as Cary Grant's or even how he had the gentlest grasp Rey had ever experienced. No, what caught the young woman's attention is how quietly serene he is. Most men stomp through these corridors like elephants or pace around frantically or tap one foot to distract themselves from the fact a loved one may die in this hospital. But not Luke. When she saw him the blonde was sitting in perfect posture (Who knew such a thing still existed?) and his steps were so soft as they walked that her ears didn't actually hear them.
Luke's back never shifted from that state as Rey hastily opened the door and let him in to see the sleeping figure of his mother. He makes a quick sign to the cross at the wall, after that his undivided focus is fixed on the bed where Leia Organa Solo is recovering. With a feather-light touch he holds his mother's hand, saying more words of familial love in that tiny gesture than Rey's received in her whole life. A lot of people would probably think that Leia must be the world's greatest parent to gather such loyalty from her son but Rey doesn't think so. If folks loved their parents in accordance to how good they were then Rey would hate hers for leaving her inside a garbage can when she was only six days old. But Leia kept Luke despite the fact he's an illegitimate child and that's worth a lot in Rey Jakku's book. Okay the man hasn't said it but it's pretty obvious, he looks nothing like Leia's husband and Rey can tell that the older woman was a brunette in her youth. To quote 'Game of Thrones' back in season one when the show still held political intrigue and a decent plot-line: the seed is strong. Blonde hair and blue eyes don't just show up on a whim.
"Would it hurt my mother if I laid down next to her?"
She ponders the question, the sheer simplicity of the request. Rey wishes that her mother had made the same decision Luke's did. Even if she wouldn't have been happy with her parents then at least Rey could offer comfort to them the way Luke wants to do now...
"Miss Jakku. I hate to be rude but you haven't answered my question. Would it hurt my mother if I slept next to her?" 'I'm sorry for not listening, but I was too wrapped up in my pathetic little orphan Annie trauma to hear what you're saying until now.'
"You'd have to be very careful not to disturb the machine or disloge a tube and the bed's a bit small but otherwise there's no problem Mister Skywalker."
"Mister Skywalker was my father. Please call me Luke." 'Luke' she thinks 'you really ought to modulate your voice an octave higher cause this tone is far too erotic for everyday conversation'. Rey watches as the blonde takes every precaution to keep the tubes attached to Mrs Solo's IV and curls up next to his mother. Oh God, he's sleeping here.....
"I'll get you a blanket."
"Thank you Rey, but that won't be necessary."
"No, I insist. If you get pneumonia in this Siberia temperature hospital, then your mother will sue me for everything I've got....Which isn't much really. You can just show her where I live and she'll decide I'm miserable enough."
In her nineteen years, Rey Jakku believes that she's seen every kind of grin known to man. A kid's smile, the social worker system's exclusive, 'I'm sorry squirt but life sucks. Prussy up because the next cuople might not like a girl that won't talk' and finally the Finn Trooper smile: A.K.A, the smile that says her former foster brother/co worker is worth a thousand times what his coke-head parents knew when the assholes sold him to that filthy aristocat Lady Phasma, who kept children for play things, and personal punching bags until the police caught up to her. This smile, this placid little curl on Luke's lips with a hint of fondness proves that Rey is wrong to think that.
6 pm, January 17, Brooklyn; New York (Jessika's POV)
By the time she's about to close her meager book shop, Jessika Pava is repressing the urge to strangle Stephanie Meyer- for the ninth billionth time. The young chinese woman has personally attended sixteen customers today and out of those sixteen misguided souls only two of them saw the light in regards to the true gems of Vampire literature, replacing the abusive take on a codependent relationship that simultaneously drags true love and vampires's names through the mud with Sheridan Le Fanu's 'Carmilla' in one case and Elizabeth Kostova's 'The Historian' in the other. Honestly, how is the damn 'Vampire romance' collection still selling!?!? There's plenty of newer stuff to read on the vampiric species that, while not on the same rank as Stephen King's Salem Lot, is readable in its own right.
Putting her, sadly impossible dream of strangling the young adult novel author to death aside, Jessika moves to her business's front door to switch her sign from 'We're Open' to Sorry, we're closed'. She is met with what is probably the last person she'd think she was gonna catch up today. Poe 'Preacher' Dameron who, apparently proved their whole class wrong and actually became a Catholic Priest instead of just saying he would and making them look like infidels in front of the nuns in Cathecism if his collar and black preacher robe are real. 'In your face Snap Wexley, you owe me twenty bucks!!' Wait a minute, what's a preacher doing here? Nothing in this store was written with his crowd in mind, except maybe the Tolkien books...
"Jessika, how you doing buddy? Do you have a minute? I need to talk to you."
"We're closing. Come back tomorrow, unless you're here to convince me my store is 'a haven of sin' like those Mormons that came last month. In that case, go to hell or at least to Utah."
"No!!! Don't you dare close this store!! Jessika, this is my only free day and I need your...particular level of expertise."
Just like that her interest is piqued. Poe Dameron personally asking for the monster encyclopedia in her brain. Poe Dameron who never likes asking for anything unless it's absolutely urgent. Should she help him? On one hand, if Poe- should she call him Father Dameron now? Ugh, it makes him sound like the creepy priest in V for Vendetta, stays here all night then Jessika won't be able to do inventory tomorrow like she plans. But on the other hand Poe looks more desperate right now than he did in eighth grade when he and Gavin Darklighter broke the statue of Saint Francis of Assisi and hid all day in Jessika's house to avoid getting caught by the Dean. Besides, after all the trash-hungry sheep today Jessika could use some proper human company. Her old friend's probably up to his knees in stress with everyone comparing him to the legendary Father Obi-Wan Kenobi each time he so much as opens Mass. It'll be good for them both to relax a bit.
"Come on in, I'll make you a hot fudge sundae."
"Is there somewhere we can talk without the possibility of government eyes or secret organizations listening in on us?" Oh Dameron, if you weren't a priest I'd kiss you for that incredibly insightful sentence.
After closing the door on her secret bunker (See mom, I told I wasn't wasting your money when I set this baby!!!) Poe hands her a glass rosary with some of its beads crackling. Oh no, you were doing so good so well.. Apparently Poe notices the lack of amusement on her face.
"Jess, I'm not giving you this Rosary to convert you. I'm handing it to you as proof."
"Proof of what?"
"This is the same rosary that I detached from my belt in a frenzy and fell from the Saint Francis Xavier Church's balcony on the second floor as a result. That's why it's chipped."
"You're kidding me right? I remember going to that church as a kid. The floor's stone hard with no carpets. If you'd fallen off that balcony you'd have a cast somewhere or a broken neck if you fell wrong."
"I was saved from falling by the very same thing that made me take out my rosary in an attempt to perform an exorcism. Jess, I was saved by a vampire. Vampires are real. And this one vampire needs my help. To help him, I need your help. Think you'd be willing to assist the undead? He's actually a nice gu-"
"Dameron you had me at Vampires are real!! Let's go to work!!"
Jess takes back everything negative she attributed to this day. This is officially the best day ever!
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Chapter 4: Playful teasing and controversial literature
January 17, 12-5:00 am (Rey's POV)
Rey ends up reciting chapter five of her Organic Chemistry book as a last-minute study for her test tomorrow. Senator Mon Mothma's arrival means no one is given permission to leave the hospital until today at noon, with the exception of emergency cases. The eternal activist had received bullets in both of her legs, and another came a hairline away from hitting the woman's spine and leaving her in a wheelchair. Mon Mothma plans to keep campaigning for Immigrants's right as soon as she gets out of the hospital, much to her son's equal pride and displeasure. It's completely unfair that one of the few politicians out there ACTUALLY trying to make a positive difference are always the ones to get shot, well, most of the time anyway. After all Ronald Reagan was shot, the good people of South America would have probably beneffited inmensely if the bastard died that day, instead of living to sanction the Salvadoran government sending 10 years old boys off to war in the 80's.
Two kidney transplants, one fish hook removed from a kid's foot and five insulin administrations later, Rey's shift is over. That leaves the young woman with nothing to do in this hospital and no way to leave without Mister Calrissian finding out which isn't a suitable option. It's not that she's afraid of the man, far from it. Lando Calrissian is as considerate as you can get with bosses, even if he is an incurable flirt. But the hospital administrator's already covered for her once when she directly injected adrenaline into a heart attack patient this month and Rey doesn't want him to get in trouble for aiding her twice, she came here to help people, not to be a burden. Why did she have to leave her textbooks back at her shared apartment with Finn? True, she had no idea that destiny would prevent her leaving at 12pm as usual but a little foresight never hurt anybody. Next time she's bringing her whole backpack and a few novels for light reading just in case.
A wandering old man in a hospital robe brings Miss Jakku to the decision that, while her shift may be over and Mister Calrissian ordered her NOT to spend 26 hours inside his hospital again, there's still work to be done. Besides, Lando can't say anything against her working if everyone has to stay inside right? Right. One appendix surgery later, Rey finds herself walking towards Mrs Solo's hospital room for reasons she doesn't question until she's opening the door ever so slightly and sees Finn discussing Mrs Solo's medical condition with Luke, another young man who does look like a combination of Leia and her husband and Mr. Solo himself.
"She's responding well to the treatment but we're gonna keep her with us for a few days. So whatever immediate travel plans you had are cancelled."
The woman in question starts to protest, claiming she has a meeting to attend in Massachussets but then Luke calmly responds that if she even tries to attend said meeting then she'll be grounded. The comical event of watching the young blonde call his mother 'princess' with all the seriousness in the world causes Rey to giggle which obviously gives away her situation. Rey freezes as Mister Solo opens the door and asks very loudly if she might say so who she is and why is she listening to their conversation. Oh crap, the husband has a touch of paranoia on his face. 'Please don't think I'm a spy or a secret poisoner. I'm still in my nurse's uniform so his hypothetical conclusions can't go too far... hopefully.'
Finn is about to vouch for her when Luke presses a hand to Mister Solo's shoulders which calms him down but also highlights the height difference him and the blonde. Yikes, the older man is tall. He makes Rey and Luke and Finn look like munchkin people (Contrary to what her best friend insists, The Wizard Of Oz is NOT a kid's movie. The ratings system didn't exist until 1963 and it wasn't applied internationally until 1967 cause Americans started complaining about British and Italian horror movies. In 1939 every film was watchable for all audiences. They just put it as G now because modern artists fail to grasp that concept, it should be PG at the very least, after all someone melts to death.)
"Han: be nice to Rey. Or in your case refrain from yelling at her. Okay?"
The older man's expression goes from paranoid to suave and delighted in a flash, like an older brother who's just discovered his sibling's most embarrassing secret and is about to blurt it to school at recess, and look charming while doing it.
"So this is Rey huh? Nice to meet you, kid, put this idiot out of his misery and go on a date with him. I had to listen to Luke talk about how sweet 'Miss Jakku' was for letting see him Leia for about 30 minutes, which is probably longer than the whole thing took."
Right after Rey's cheeks are a deep crimson and Luke's covered his face with his hands in shame the younger man who looks like Mr. Solo and Leia chooses that moment to intervene. "Come on Dad, cut him some slack. You know older men are often insecure about starting relationships with younger women and with good reason, really. May/December pairings are more frowned upon than gay couples nowadays."
Why the younger man is laughing at the weird sentence baffles her and Finn is something she may never know. Luke takes his hand off his face to glare at what must be his older brother. Oh, how strange to see a face so innocent in its features shift into a stare so flame-ridden that it could melt an iceberg. Of course, said stare has little effect on the intended party. Finn is another story if the way he drifts over to Rey's side means anything.
Mrs Solo asking what hour is it snaps every member of this odd yet tightly knit family out of their respective moods once they see the clock at 5:30 am. After all the visitors kiss Leia goodbye the younger Solo, whom Han? was it? calls Jacen starts wrapping Luke up like a polar bear (Where did they get that large coat from? Rey's pretty sure they haven't designed that sort of coat since the 60s..) as his father calls someone named Chewie on the phone. Jacen is about to wrap a scarf around Luke's mouth when the man stops him, the brown haired man protests that they need to go NOW but Luke doesn't let himself be covered fully, instead he casts his gaze to Rey's direction, no wait it's not to my direction it's to me! He's walking over to me! Lord what do I say that won't make me sound like a bimbo?...
"Goodbye My Lady. I hope you have a nice day."
He gently takes hold of her scarred, ugly hand with bitten fingernails that smells like antibacterial soap and lifts the aforementioned hand up until his lips meet with it. Treating her dry and coarse skin with the delicacy one might reserve for a Queen or a Foreign Ambassador from exotic lands. As soon as Luke Skywalker's finished the courtly gesture he lets Jacen Solo encloak him and leaves without any further ado, his family quick to follow. If the same action had taken place in elementary school Rey would've sworn to never wash that hand again. Once she and Finn leave the room Rey feels the questions brewing in her friend's forehead.
"So what was that? You were one step away from purring like BB-8 after he has his Monday tuna, when he kissed your hand."
'Not now Finn, I want to enjoy how it felt just a little bit longer'..."I don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about Finn."
"You sure Rey? Cause if your smile had been any bigger, when he pulled that Tyrone Power* move on you, I could have opened some huge, huge nuts with it."
"You're exaggerating. He was just being courteous. Mrs Solo apparently raised a gentleman to make up for the fact her husband has a good heart but no manners. And I was just pleased to know chivalry's not dead."
"Oh, so Sir Gawain* had no effect on you whatsoever?"
"None. He could come here right now and I wouldn't react in the slightest."
"Good to know. Oh, wait I think I see him!"
"Finn, hide me please."
Her best friend laughs and says he can't believe she fell for that. How is it Finn, and so many other boys, can go from 'wise beyond his years' to 'overgrown child' so rapidly? Maybe it's a secret gene inherited by all men that bypasses the female gender somehow. Finn is still laughing at her expense as they walk through the corridors when suddenly he stops dead in his tracks and fidgets nervously. Rey turns her gaze to see what caught the young man so and sees Rose Tico, the hospital's handyman or handy-woman in this case. The young Asian mechanic has her back on the floor as she fixes a few wires on the lower part of a brain scanning machine reported to show ink stains in the x-rays that made it seem like a patient had Lampington's Disease. The tip of Finn's ears are scarlet as he admires Rose's work. Well then, no time like the present for payback.
"So Finn, does this mean you were the one to break the typing machine yesterday? Cause Lando told me the problem was that someone put a wrench on it." Revenge is sweet as Finn blabbers for almost two minutes.
Priest's lodgings of St Francis Xavier Church, New York, January 17, 7am (Ezra's POV)
"Dameron! Get your ass out of the office! You've been in there all night!"
Father Ezra Bridger has served in St. Francis Xavier's church for the past seventeen years and if he were a lesser man then he'd claim he's received no reward for his service. Everyone had expected him to take on the role of Parish leader once Obi-Wan Kenobi entered the gates of inmortality. He had fought in the same war as the old man for a good amount of time. Outside of Father Quinlan Vos and Reverend Mother Tano, Ezra had stayed the longest with the old priest. Sure, he didn't ask for the position but parroquial successions were pretty straight-forward in most cases, so everybody was certain that Kenobi needn't look for a new priest when he had a man who practically worshipped him at his beck and call. Everybody, except the famed Negotiator himself.
Sometimes he still asks himself what he did wrong. What action or idea convinced Father Kenobi that he was unworthy of 'keeping the flame' as the old man called it? His personal stance on religious affairs was that of an activist but always respecting towards the more dogmatic side of the Church. Perhaps he wasn't as skilled an orator as Obi-Wan but he could sway the crowd when the situation called for it. The more he thinks about it, the more Ezra's convinced that Father Kenobi turned him down because of how he answered the old man's cryptic questions that nobody heard twice. 'How would you treat a demon that came to you asking for redemption?' the elder priest inquired, his steel blue eyes judging without giving any hints, any sort of clue that revealed his stance on the matter. Ezra replied that if a demon came asking redemption then it was probably a trick and it'd be best to kill it while the opportunity was there. Old Kenobi clutched his heart when he heard that, at the time Ezra thought it was arthritis or whatnot but a few months later when Obi-Wan was already on the 72th interview Ezra gave spiritual counsel to a couple whose son was KIA on the middle east & he saw the agony of a parent who pictured his kid being killed and recognized the same throes of mental anguish in Obi-Wan Kenobi's steel irises as he clutched his chest in their interview that moment. So many secrets Kenobi, how did you expect us to keep track of them all?...
While Ezra hadn't understood Kenobi's choice to veto him as he did, Father Bridger was still a man of the Church and it was vanity to believe he owned the position so he manned up, performed Mass as temporary priest once Kenobi started to need notebooks for everything and promised himself that he would accept whoever Obi-Wan elected as God's choice. God, it seems, decided to test him with young Poe Dameron. Ezra wasn't petty enough to care about the fact that his new superior was 10 years younger than him, wisdom was determined by life and providence more than any number. No, what drives Ezra Bridger close to the ninth layer of Hell is how his new superior has nearly no regard for protocol or tradition for that matter! Poe Dameron hasn't been here for over a month and he's already altering how things work around here. Ezra almost had a heart attack when he saw the young priest waiting in line for a PROTESTANT mass one Sunday, under the pretense of 'seeking to understand what they believe and why they believe it'. If it had just been the heretic meeting then fine, it was forgivable but 'Father Dameron' took things even further when he attended service at the Synagogue and listened to prayers at a mosque and even worse, a Buddhist Temple. The heretics and the infidels being attended to before their faithful sheep, oh joy...
On top of this young Dameron is also a late sleeper by choice, though he'll give Poe that he's a hard worker. Not afraid to get his hands dirty when the crisis demands it. Nonetheless, Mass starts at 8 am which means the Parish priest must be up an hour before it starts at latest so here he is, pounding at the door.
In the end, his actions to get Father Dameron are...not befitting a priest. He kicks the door open, grateful he still attends judo classes on the weekends. The last time he barged in on young Father Dameron this early, the guy was drooling on his pillow, singing the 'Superhero Squad' theme song (in which case he doesn't care. DC is his addiction of choice). It was a comical sight, so he took a video which he now keeps for future blackmail material. The sight that greets him now, along a shocked priest saying 'I'm up, I'm up' is not fit for any sort of laughter. On the young priest's desk harrowing images of vampires stealing the blood off their victims, transforming into wolves or bats or in one horrible image simply titled 'The Mage Vampir' is a large beast that's almost seven foot tall if his prey is anything to go by, with skin like melting ash- Okay, that's it! This is a whole new level of heresy Dameron!
"Vampires huh? It doesn't me surprise as much as it should. You've always had your...liberal tendencies. Your strange causes. It's no wonder you did time in jail."
"You really love your dramatic entrances: don't you Bridger? If the whole clergy doesn't work out for you then try the Theater. Can you sing Opera?"
"Maybe I could if I tried. Opera takes adherence to tradition, to rules. Where as you'd end up performing stand-up comedy, since it follows no clear trajectory."
Poe closes the books he was reading in anger as he prepares himself for Mass, Ezra sees a few titles that are in the Catholic Church's forbidden index. Oh Father Kenobi, how deeply did the Alzheimer's rot your brain to make you allow this man to stand here where you stood? Deciding that Obi-Wan couldn't have elected a satanist Ezra tries to give Poe a chance to explain.
"Why the sudden obsession with Vampires Father Dameron?" 'Confess your sins, repent and see the error of your ways...'
Father Dameron finishes brushing his hair and gives Ezra a smirk that yells 'God, what a schmuck. I can't believe I have to deal with him.' Hold on a minute: he doesn't receive that look! Ezra Bridger usually gives that look to politicians when they're not looking! 'Why that little-'
"If you must know Ezra: I'm writing something about them, an Opera. So you can sing it for me."
Dameron slams the door on him, still the guy left a mess behind so somebody has to clean this up and it's clearly not going to be his superior. A stray paper falls from the desk as Ezra begins to organize in order to find the things that SHOULD be on this office. This paper depicts a Vampire, the same Mage Vampir, casting a spell over the land to manipulate nature at nighttime, twisting the trees to grab its hunters down and smash them against the ground to a bloody pulp with one hand and covering the land with mist to hide his coven from enemies with the other. Huh, that actually looks really cool.
*Tyrone Power was an actor from the late 1930s to his early death in 1958 (He was only 44). Power is best known for the roles of Diego De La Vega in 'The Mark of Zorro'(1940), the dashing Count Fersen in 'Marie Antoniette'(1938) and Jamie Waring in 'The Black Swan' (1942). He has entered history as 'the perfect swashbuckler: romantic, brave and noble to a fault.'
*Sir Gawain of Cornwall was a member of King Arthur of Camelot's round table.
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Chapter 5: Dreams and Ginger huskies
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College of Mount Saint Vincent, January 17, 1pm (Rey's POV)
By the grace of God (and Lando Calrissian), Rey's university professors were all informed of Mon Mothma's shooting and the subsequent lock-down issued by the hospital. Granted she still had to take her Organic Chemistry test with no sleep whatsover - you can't have everything in life. Her day is nowhere as bad as the sick man whom Rey hopes will have a good rest. There'd been a very odd man with dark hair, enormous height and a permanent frown etched upon his features even in sleep, laying unconscious in the hospital bench. According to the guards he'd tried to enter the medical facility around midnight and had to be knocked out after nearly killing two of them once he was told that no one was allowed inside. That poor fellow had straight lines slashing his forehead and Rey could see oval shaphed patches on his palms, a clear sign of Scleroderma. He'd needed a psychologist, not a knock on the head.
After catching up with her classes by abusing her cheap-quality phone and her laptop, which has more duct tape than any electronic device should have, to call/email everyone she could think to send her the notes, Rey drifts into a momentary sleep. Usually when she dozes off Rey dreams of a pretty brown haired woman with friendly eyes, wearing an old fashioned dress of flowing aqua silk muted by a layer of black net and embroidered ivory lace, as she, and a tall blonde man in a Great War* uniform, which come of think of it, bears more resemblance to Luke than Han did, sit together in a grand forest that Rey googled and found out was le forêt des Landes, a maritime-pine forest in Aquitaine, France. She likes how deeply the man and woman stare into each other's eyes, how the man kisses the slight dissertation of her stomach in a state of worship. In real life she's never seen any couple react that way to a baby, or act so in love either. Was it wrong of her to skip out on all those boys in High School that promised her a good time because their stares were little more than lust-ridden glancing compared to the couple's all encompassing love? Perhaps it was, perhaps it wasn't. At any rate it was better than joining the '16 and pregnant' trope.
This time Rey Jakku's dreams are as far from that fairy-tale landscape as her foster homes were from the happy Christmas family dinners in ABC channel's 25 days of Christmas. Rey is powerless to help as the same blond man with Luke's eyes, once bright with happiness and love, now glow a sinister red as he extends a set of unnatural long fangs close to a unconscious ginger haired priest's neck. The woman, whose stomach is much more pronounced now lunges herself at the now bald and grotesque figure the man had become. In desperation she begs him 'Stop now, come back! I love you' and kisses the black monstrosity's lips. Presses the onyx talons just below her heart and says 'Our baby needs you. I need you, don't go down a path we can't follow.' For a brief shining moment Rey thinks the woman's gotten through to him, that their love will overcome whatever made him this way.
His eyes gain a hint of cerulean as the soldier? husband? monster? lifts his free hand to dry her tears. Please let that the end of it, please true love's kiss save these people whom I love despite the fact I've never met them outside my dreams. The man loves her, adores her in a way most human beings can barely imagine. And the woman returns his affection with the same unadulterated fervor. Surely that will be enough for them to break this curse, this tragic air looming over both in an attempt to smother everything good. Rey is proven wrong in this mental statement when a strange 'presence' that chills the whole room wraps itself around the man who was almost back to normal, enveloping him with ugly thorns dripping with blood.... These thorns, Rey thinks must have some sort of mind control abilities because once they've crawled into his ears the man starts - starts strangling his wife! Rey thrusts herself at the monster trying to rip out the vile shrubs that are causing him to act this way but she goes through him like a ghost. She watches the woman's breath grow shorter, more desperate to survive. In a final plea the beautiful lady calls out a name 'Anakin'... To Rey's surprise the priest wakes up in that moment, yells at 'Anakin' to let her go and finally, once he realizes that Anakin will not listen to reason the ginger-haired priest throws some sort of liquid at the creature who was probably his friend if the sorrowful glance he casts it is proof. Anakin writhes in pain as the priest takes out his rosary and begins to speak: "Crux sacra sit mihi lux! Nunquam draco sit mihi dux. Vade retro Satana! Nunquam suade mihi vana! Sunt mala quae libas. Ipse venena bibas!" * as he picks up the now unconcious woman. The monster screams "Obi-Wan!! Don't take her from me!!!" as his black skin burns-
"Rey. Wake up!"
Miss Jakku returns to the land of the living with a gasp, to see Finn's gaze pressed in concern as he checks her temperature. He tells Rey to go home and forget about their shared Human Anatomy Class with Mrs Holdo because she has a fever, and they both know she hasn't gotten any sleep. Rey agrees for two reasons: the first being she doesn't really like Mrs Holdo. The woman is some sort of strange blend between a self-glorifying pedantic and an overaged punk rock teenager hiding her bad girl tendencies from Daddy-dearest under soft evening gowns. The second is that she's pretty sure Finn wouldn't believe her if she told him the heat he felt on her forehead came from the house in her dreams.
Saint Francis Xavier Church, 8:45 pm (Poe's POV)
There's a beautiful ginger husky that's been hiding in the secluded priest's closet since this morning, It was all burned when it came running into the church. Neither he or Ezra had the heart to call the pound and take her away so they cleaned her wounds and let her sleep in that small room where the sun doesn't reach. Poe's glad that he and his fellow clergyman can agree on something. He knows Ezra feels cheated out of the position of Parish priest and it came as no surprise to him that their relationship was rocky from the beginning. Truthfully, there's a chance it might have been so even if Poe hadn't been elected by Obi-Wan cause the two men came from entirely different worlds: Ezra Bridger was the well-loved only child of upper middle class parents who never really wanted for anything until they died and even his cousin Father Kanan Jarrus was quick to adopt the boy so the end result was a man who knew theoretically how life worked but in fact had never been forced to reconcile his own nature's extremes, to balance the black and white inside us all.
Poe Dameron was born to Puerto Rican immigrants in Harlem Heights, who went to war for an ungrateful country, and in his father's case, lost a wife in service of that ungrateful country. Kes Dameron was a good man and a good father but Poe always thought a piece of him died there in the Persian Gulf with mom. There'd been far too many endless stares those early days after Mom's funeral, too many times where Poe found his father leaning into the stove or 'out for a walk' in the second floor of their apartment. He learned thanks to his support system which mostly consisted of Mom and Dad's old army buddies and a stubborn grandmother who claimed he was too skinny, that nobody is capable of living free of darkness for the rest of their lives. It's what we do with the devil within that defines who we are and what we'll be. (That's probably why he believes Luke is a good man in spite of the whole 'creature of Hell' thing the guy's got.)
Speaking of Luke... where has the man gone to? He missed confession last night and frankly Poe's a little worried. Not in the 'he could be lying face down in a ditch' way, more like a 'Why aren't you answering my calls' way. Come to think he never did ask for Luke's cellphone number. He definitely could have avoided himself this unease if he'd just asked for an email or something....
"Sorry for leaving you dry yesterday Father Dameron, but there was an emergency. " Oh, there you are. 'Skywalker: have you considered wearing a bell around your neck to let me know when you arrive, or are you just fond of dramatic entrances like Ezra?'
"No harm done, I don't suppose you have a google account or cellphone number so we can prevent that from happening again."
(Luke takes out a card from his wallet and hands it to Poe.) "That is the number for Wedge Antilles, he manages my affairs. Just tell him you've been cleared by Red Five to be notified of my whereabouts. He'll understand what it means."
"Is Wedge....like you?"
"If by that you mean 'Is Wedge an un-dead creature of the night?' then no. But make no mistake: The man's pretty deadly all on his own. You don't reach Colonel in the army otherwise."
"Understood, are you here for confession or do you just need advice?"
"I'm here for my confession but also to pick up a friend. I believe you left her in the closet?"
Oh man, and here I thought we were getting a mascot. I'm pretty sure the kids would love her...He tells Luke to wait in the pews while Poe goes to retrieve the ginger husky that he'd left in the closet with a bowl of water and a raw beefsteak that he decorated with bacon and made her jump on him in delight and lick his face. Ezra had gotten her some doggy biscuits too but the canine had seemed insulted (who knew a dog could cast you that kind of look?). When Father Bridger handed her the doggie treats and turned her nose up in disdain while running over to Poe and placing a paw on him so he'd scratch her behind the ears. He's gonna miss that spunky dog and how she was almost human in some of their interactions but if Luke's responsible for the girl then she's in good hands.
"Here girl, your Master's come to get you. Where are you beautiful?"
Cue ten minutes after searching for the dog, Poe is one step away from opening a hole in the ground when he feels a soft, distinctly female caress the back of his spine in a seductive manner. The lady starts to wrap her arms around him and her honey smooth voice says that she wants to give him a 'thank you gift' for his generosity this morning. She walks out from behind, revealing a petite fair-skinned woman dressed in army pants with hair so beautiful Poe can only describe it as perfumed cascades of gold dipped rubies and emerald irises that make the young priest internally repeat his vow of chastity. If the woman is aware of his current dilemma then she doesn't care, the red-haired goddess pays little heed to his restrictions as she presses Poe's lips next to hers. The mystery woman's kiss tastes like moonlight and chilled mint and it's everything his friends told him a kiss could be like but hadn't lived up to until this moment. Damn, if he'd met this chick in High School then he might have doubted his lifelong dream to join the clergy.
They're interrupted by the sound of Luke's voice. "Mara? I hope you're going to let him breathe sometime this night."
Skywalker's impromptu entry has the desired effect of making the red haired goddess retract her full, burgundy-lipstick colored lips from Poe's mouth. Lesser men would probably blabber about the incident but Poe Dameron is not one to shy away from his actions so he offers no excuse, no blame casting on the mysterious damsel that shares the same eyes and hair coloring as the feisty dog - Oh..So that's what she meant by generosity. That book on shape-shifting abilities he bought from Jess fills in the gaps. Female vampires in Greek Mythology usually shift into wolves and the dog stayed away from the sunlight all day. That's two vampires in one week, more than the average human sees (and acknowledges) in their entire lives. Has somebody placed an ad in the paper saying 'Poe Dameron: Vampire whisperer'?!?(On a positive note, at least someone appreciates his cooking around here, Ezra always says he puts too much leaves on everything when it's his turn to cook. Gringos and their obsession with putting sugar on the beans. How do they swallow that shit?!) Luke requests that Mara come to his side so she can explain the events that led her to hide in the church, also commenting how proud this makes him. Mara, so that's the goddess's name. It's a nice name, an Old Testament name though it's not what Poe would have called her. Venus, Freya, Nefertiti: those are names more suitable for the idyllic creature before him.
"Mara, I think the kid's a little bit in love with you."
"Well, he's a sweetheart and he smells revolting enough that I don't wanna suck him dry. What do you say Dameron: dinner and a movie?"
What is it with vampires and saying he smells bad?!!
Shrugging the irrelevant question aside Father Dameron grabs his new rosary and walks over to the second floor balcony, slightly envious of how the vampires can just turn into mist and land there in a jiffy. Mara asks Poe if she is allowed to confess, though she warns him in a joking tone which serves to hide discomfort, that once he's aware of what she's done, his crush on her will vanish quicker than he can say 'Holy Mary'. Poe replies confession is allowed for all those who wish to repent their sins and start anew. Upon hearing those words a stray drop of red escapes from her eye. (He makes a mental note to tell Jessika Vampires weep tears of blood since it's not in any of the books she gave him.) Wordlessly, he performs the sign of the cross over both of the nocturnal beings and notices that while Luke is completely free of side effects Mara represses a slight pang. In light of that he decides to attend to her confession first, he has a feeling Mara's sins will be different in nature to Skywalker's.
(Meanwhile, in the first floor of Saint Francis Xavier's church)
Father Ezra Bridger accidentally sees his superior administering the sacrament of confession at an ungodly hour to a red-headed woman and his anger rises upon knowing yet another tradition has been broken. Not to mention the fact he was going there in the first place was to confront Poe. He'd checked Dameron's internet browser on the Church computer and found a blog linking Vampires with the Antichrist. Quietly, so as to not disturb the priest whose heresy he grows steadily more convinced of, Ezra takes off his shoes, walks out of the church through the back door and with a heavy heart the priest makes a call to the Vatican.)
*Great War: World War I
*Translation of Saint Benedict's exorcism: May the holy cross be my light! May the dragon never be my guide. Begone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! What you offer me is evil. Drink the poison yourself!
Hands out tin cup: Comments please????
Chapter 6: Affairs of the Holy Sea
Chapter by regnumveritatis
Vatican State, January 18, 3-5 pm (Jyn's POV)
There are some truths which cannot be revealed to the general public. Not because they are undeserving of the knowledge but because the nature of these truths would shatter ideologies or empires with a mere word. One of these truth is the existence of 'monsters' as is the popular term for the dark emissaries of Satan. If people realized just how often these hell-bound creatures interact in their lives, a great many would spiral into endless hysteria or spend their years under a constant paranoia that would make leading an ordinary life impossible. For this simple reason, The Holy Sea has kept their continued presence under wraps since the late 17th century, once the common folk no longer clung to 'superstitions' used by Gothic authors in 1800s to create harrowing tales of struggle under unnatural beings.
While the Roman Catholic Church may publicly deny the existence of monsters, that does not mean it is willing to leave its sheep unprotected from the wolves. Therefore, the 'Jedi' (abbreviation for Justice Enforcers of Divine Illumination) were created by the Vatican: to ensure mankind's protection from the unspoken evil that crept beneath the world's shadows. Throughout 4 centuries, the Jedi Knights were the protectors against the darkness which swarms like a plague of locusts around humanity, always waiting for the oportune moment to strike. Its warriors were undefeated until late december 1918, when a Vampire known only as 'Vader' somehow accessed the Order's stronghold and butchered most of its members who had already suffered great losses from the First World War. The media played the event as a burst of Spanish Influenza that wiped out the Cathedral. As a result, the Order was erradicated and replaced with the 'Guardians of the Withering Halls' or Guardians of the Whills for short. (A title chosen to represent their duty of safeguarding the Jedi's legacy)
Jyn Erso has been a Guardian ever since she was a little girl, when one of the secret order's members named Saw Guerrera rescued her and her father from a Vampire attack. The reason behind the attack was that her father was developing a silver nitrate compound which they feared could be used for weapons in the occult war for the dawn. Galen Erso had meant to use it for medical research but that hadn't mattered to the fanged beasts that ransacked their home after Lyra Erso unwittingly invited her murderers inside the house.The little girl and her father hid inside a closet, which the previous tenant had doused in holy water after finding out a man hung himself inside it. That was why the vampires took long enough for Guerrera to arrive and drive his stakes through the abominations' hearts. Unfortunately, the beasts had bled Lyra Erso dry upon entry so there was no hope of saving Jyn's mother. After the tragedy Galen Erso and his daughter lived under Sanctuary from the Catholic Church. The child grew up hearing more Latin than Italian or English most days, as her father became an arsonist for the Guardians to ensure no one else lost a loved one the way they'd lost her mother.
At 26 years old, she has the highest kill record achieved since the days of Jedi, almost tying the record of Anakin Skywalker, one of the last, great warriors of the bygone Order. Her runner up in this record is ironically Jyn's husband, 33 year old Cassian Andor, who lost his family at age six when his village in Salvador was killed by a hoard of vampires who took advantage of the Civil War to feed indiscriminately upon the innocent. Only Cassian survived because he hid within a rotting log of aspen, the only tree that cannot be touched by the vampires (The only wood that can serve for stakes.)
Jyn doesn't want to consider the possibility of a life without Cassian. In many ways he saved her after Galen Erso had succumbed to bone cancer three years ago. She'd grown more reckless, more savage during that dim time, where she couldn't close her eyes without picturing Papa's shallow breaths as she clutched his frail hands in the agonizing ordeal they'd failed to overcome and picture his melancholy gaze as he said 'I love you, my stardust' shortly before his eyes lost focus and left her alone. If not for Cassian, she'd be dead. And in other ways he's better at hiding, Jyn had saved Cassian as well. Together they were a force to be reckoned with, and the Vatican knew it. That's why the married couple rarely works apart. Cassian is heading over to Jyn now with a case file. The fact that it's been sealed in red, alerts them to the added suspicion of heresy as well as demonic beings. A truth they both ponder on the way to the briefing.
She and Cassian arrive in the secret chamber of Saint Peter's with no pomp or clamors for recognition. Glory was never their pursuit. Cardinal Dodonna extends a hand to the pair of hunters, formal as is his custom. Another man with graying hair, all dressed in white in a way that seems puritanical sits down next to the couple. Cassian attempts to greet the gentleman but he sneers at her husband's offered palm as if it was infected. It is only the importance of their mission that grants Jyn the self-control to not break this holier-than-thou prick's nose then and there. Nothing else is said as the elder priest clicks a panel of slides that will enlighten them to the situation.
"Father Bridger's description of the events in Saint Francis Xavier were reported as heresy by said priest, but obviously none of us would be gathered in this room if that were the end of it. The American clergyman mentioned a series of oddities following the interment of his former Parish priest, Obi-Wan Kenobi. It seems he was correct in his belief that something was terribly wrong."'Come on, old man get to the point.'
"What is the threat then? Is Dameron a heretic or he is being possessed by a darker power? Either way, are we going to kill something?"
"Guardian Erso, this goes beyond blasphemous priests. Perhaps even beyond anything you've ever dealt with. Our higher ups believe that this case could be related to the Englishmen."
The Cardinal clicks another slide, this one depicts a group of soldiers donning 17th century armor.
"During Oliver Cromwell's Protectorate, he launched a full-scale military attack on Catholics in Ireland, from 1649 to 1653. The man who orchestrated these massacres was Henry Ireton, English general, and the son-in law of Cromwell himself."
This time the slide depicts the portrait of Ireton, Jyn saw it in an English History book when she was a child.
"What does a minor historical figure have to do with this? I remember my religious persecution history, Dodonna, General Ireton died of the plague in 1651."
Oh, don't look at me that way, Cassian. You were wondering it too. The difference is you have too much respect for authority to blurt it.'
"Ireton returned to Limerick in June 1651. At the gates of Limerick, the starving soldiers were being protected by a woman who claimed to be a witch, and a young deacon who supposedly shared Queen Titania of Avalon's blood. Both of them stood hand in hand as they warned Ireton and his soldiers should he stain the land with the innocent corpses, then they would all be damned to walk the earth through eternity in search of blood."
"I take it they didn't heed the warning?"
"No, they ran both the witch and the deacon through, and besieged the city for five months until it surrendered in October 1651. The general and those involved in the massacre fell sick shortly after. Witnesses claim that among Ireton's last words were "blood! blood! I must have more blood!"
"But Ireton's body was recovered and buried in Westminster. Following the Restoration of the English monarchy in 1660, Charles II had Ireton's corpse exhumed from Westminster and mutilated. It's currently at Nottinghampshire, as his relatives stole the corpse before the king's men could toss it to the river."*
''Guardian Erso: In 1972, I was among the priests who secretly examined the body, and that of his men to estimate the corpses's veracity. It and all the others, including his second-in command Edmund Ludlow who, while among the cursed did not die until 1692, were found to be fake."
A vampire that ancient....Jyn and Cassian's usual vampiric prey are often among the ages of days to twenty years at most. A vampire named Lumiya had been the exception when she was 19. That foul siren was in her late eighties when Jyn managed to tie the beast down and watched as she burned under the sun. Werewolves and goblins and incubus are the elder creatures she's used to. Cassian looks at her in the eye, as if he can read her thoughts. Other women might hope this is where he tells her that it's not worth their lives, but she knows him too well. Jyn sees that her husband will not shy away from his duty.
"And we'd looking for Ireton and Ludlow Sir?"
"Only Ireton, Guardian Andor. Ludlow died under mysterious circumstances in 1942, when he was operating under the alias of Palpatine. Around the same time Vader disappeared."
"What happened to Vader?" 'Oh, the grey-haired prick talks.'
"No one knows, not even the creatures of the underworld who search for his vile phantom still."
Well, that's one less Vampire to worry about. Dodonna instructs the three of them to travel to New York and investigate Saint Francis Xavier's themselves. None of them need to ask if they can kill the vampires even if there's no link to the Englishmen. It's not as if anybody ever wants the creatures alive. The grey-haired prick decides to present himself as Orson Krennic now that they're working together.'Why do I have the feeling you're going to bring us nothing but trouble? Never mind, it doesn't matter.' At least that's what Jyn tells herself as she reads the case file at home before packing her bags. She thinks it odd one of the few known facts about Palpatine's death was that the corpse found by the Guardians back in 1942, held side effects of Jedi Mysticism no one had been able perform since the Order perished. But how is it possible? The Jedi are gone and this spell the mystics describe, sounds like it was done by not one but THREE Jedi. If Ireton or what was it the file said his last alias was in the 70s-ah here it is: Oliver Snoke - is as half as complicated as his second in command, then they're all in for a nightmare.
*By the way guys: Everything in here except for the curse is actually part of British history. This persecution is part of the reason the Irish still hate Cromwell and Ireton, who really did call out for blood in his final moments.
Hands out tin cup: Comments please????
January 18, 2 am (Luke's POV)
Leia's asleep right now, but Luke keeps reading the 1857 edition of Tennyson's Poems to her in an attempt to grant his princess sweet dreams of pious knights and ladies fair instead of worrying over what's to come. The relaxed position of her brow demonstrates a certain level of success. But even with Leia's favorite book, he's not sure how long it will last. He's already had to drive away several nightmares from her mind by using their magic bond, and the spells exhaust him more than he'll ever admit. It's moments like this when Luke wants Leia to be 5 years old again so that whenever she's angry or hurt or scared, his little fireball of a princess could just run over to him and all problems can be fixed with a few hugs and bandages along with the occasional ice cream cone. In some ways things were simpler back then, in others they were far more complicated. But back then, he still had Obi-Wan to help him through the worst of it. How strange to think of a world without old Kenobi. How tragically ironic that with him gone, the last Jedi is in fact one of the creatures they're sworn to kill.
"A maiden knight--to me is given
Such hope, I know not fear;
I yearn to breathe the airs of heaven
That often meet me here.
I muse on joy that will not cease,
Pure spaces clothed in living beams,
Pure lilies of eternal peace,
Whose odours haunt my dreams;
And, stricken by an angel's hand,
This mortal armour that I wear,
This weight and size, this heart and eyes,
Are touch'd, are turn'd to finest air. "*
All of a sudden Luke's ears catch a slight sigh which motivates him to perform a slight hex on the cameras so they don't capture him transforming into mist and landing on the other side. The view he's gifted is one far more lovely than what he'd been expecting: Miss Rey Jakku in all her simple glory, smiling once she stops questioning how he got there. God help and forgive him, because he wants to see that diamond grin every night of the year.
"I'm sorry for eavesdropping but I liked your poetry very much. Is it Lord Byron?"
"Tennyson actually. Have you read his work?" 'What am I doing? Flirting with a kind and gentle girl this way? I have no right to even glimpse at her. An abomination has no place near a being whom angels no doubt smile when thinking of.'
Her smile gains a touch of pink, adding to her unfeigned loveliness. Further proof that young Rey is far too pure for the bloodlust and pain that his rotting corpse, masquerading as a 23 year old man, which he is forced to control every time he wakes up to this life. Is it even accurate to call his existence a life whenever his family leaves? Without Leia and Han and Wedge and all their children his nights are mostly a bleak and unforgiving wasteland....
"I had 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' in high school. It got me into trouble."
"My English teacher was reading it out loud to class and I started crying near the end of it. A classmate made fun of me for weeping at the 'boring old poem'. I broke his nose and landed myself a detention. Stupid, I know."
"Your classmate was the stupid one for failing to recognize the meaning behind those words. Personally, I think he got off easy. If it had been Jaina as a kid, then his whole face would have been broken. With Leia, possibly an arm or a leg."
She giggles and that serves to worsen the situation because the unreliable neurotic connections, otherwise known as thought, compare Rey's laughter to music. The young woman is covering her mouth with a hand to repress all future outbursts when they both catch sight of Lando Calrissian. Surprise takes hold of Luke as Rey rushes him back into Leia's room before the vampire flashes to avoid the hospital administrator from recognizing Luke from the 80s. (One of countless people that he's befriended and is later forced to break contact with before they realize he doesn't age. Luke misses Lando, he misses a lot of people really). When he inquires as to why Miss Jakku is hiding from her boss, she replies that her shift ended at midnight and she'll get in trouble if her boss catches her working 14 hours straight.
Rey's reasoning for staying so long is that in hospitals is there's no such thing as a 'lunch break' hour. At any time somebody could fall off a roof due to intoxication, need their appendix removed, or bleed out within an inch of their life because a lousy foster parent in a state of drunkenness decided it was fun to throw beer bottles at you until you fainted and had to be secretly carried away to the hospital in a bike by a loving foster brother. The long white line across her neck that human eyes couldn't see because of the make-up she covers it with proves that story was personal. Her response to suffering stirs deeper admiring from his part.
'Focus, you're here for Leia not to carve out a star-crossed romantic attachment.'
"My mother didn't give you a hard time today did she? I love her but she has no real desire to restrain herself."
"Apart from embarrassing me by asking if I could 'gladden an old woman's soul' by taking you out then no."
"I'm so sorry for that. I swear I had nothing to do with that-"
"Why would the idea of spending time with you merit an apology?"
She wouldn't say that if she knew what I am. If Rey could see the monstrosity I hide under the face she's besotted with, only fear and disgust would follow. For the first time in 76 years, Luke actually wants somebody to see his other form, the one straight out of a horror movie though not for the right reasons. He wants Rey to see him as he truly is so she runs away in terror like all people with common sense would. True, afterwards he'd have to erase all memory of him from Rey's mind once it was done so she wouldn't go crazy when nobody believes her or try to kill him but at least then she'd continue to be free of him, the way he will never be free of himself. Decision made he takes one last look at her, committing the broad as well as the minuscule features of the young nurse to memory. Hopefully the image of her that stays with him throughout the decades shall be the tranquil but teasing expression she's gifted him now instead of the scream that will penetrate his eardrums soon enough.
"Don't you dare." 'Damn it Leia, when are you going to stop reading my aura?'
"Good morning, Mrs Solo. Did you sleep well?"
"Yes, thank you for asking Rey. Could you leave me alone with Luke for a moment please? I'd like to discuss some things with him in private."
Rey complies to Leia's request after checking outside for Lando. Once the coast is clear Luke flashes a hint of red in his irises at the older woman, releasing his anger in the least violent way possible.
"Oh, stop being so dramatic dad. Those eyes haven't scared me since I was seven."
"Funny how you never tried to set me up with someone at that age when most little girls would have wanted a mother, yet you're trying to match me now when you have a grandchild."
"My logic back then was that none of the fairy tale stepmothers were nice to their husband's children. I thought as long as it was just me, you and sometimes Father Kenobi then nothing bad would happen."
"Any chance you can go back to that logic? Think that all we need is family and no need for extra members unless they're more grand kids?"
"Hmm. Let me think: no."
"Leia: why are you doing this to me? Why are you trying to drag that poor girl into my web of decay?"
Upon hearing those last words Leia's aura goes from its usual blue-silver hue to a silver-indigo that indicates she's angry. Not furious enough for him to worry about her cardiac state but angry nonetheless. Why does she always bristle and fume whenever he tells or even thinks the truth about what he is? It'd be foolhardy of him to pretend he's anything other than an unnatural leech. While parasites might have a shot at heaven that doesn't place them on equal footing with mankind. For all its flaws humanity leaves behind a series of wonders that outweigh their sins, Luke's kind is defined by their paths of death and blood and anguish. Vampires go around planting curse after curse where they tread, whether it's intentionally or by accident is of little matter to the hands of fate. It just matters that everything a vampire touches it eventually destroys.
"Don't think that about yourself like that dad. You didn't destroy me, you've given me a home for 56 years, you raised me and loved me as if I was your real daughter."
"You are my daughter Leia. My daughter, my sister, and mother."
"If you can have all those things then why not a companion? Nowhere is it written that you have to walk this road alone."
"Leia, I'm not alone. I've hardly been alone since Obi-Wan brought me to you."
"But I'm not going to be around forever Luke. Han and Chewie and Wedge are a decade older than me. My children all want to have houses of their own. When we die you'll be alone. What will you do then?"
He really hates how Leia can always nitpick for the questions most people don't want to answer, let alone hear. Luke was hoping that Anakin would change his mind about getting his own place with Tahiri. Jacen and Jaina were a lost cause in that aspect. Everyone knew that the moment Tenel Ka showed up with farm pictures from Vermont, and Jaina stared dreamily as her boyfriend Jagged spoke about his house in Tuscany. But the boy's wander-lust would ensure that even if he lived at the Skywalker mansion his presence would barely be an active part of Luke's life. The 'back-up plan' was to take care of the Solo siblings in their old age, the way he would have taken care of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, if fate had been just a little bit kinder. Either way, he ends up with ghosts for company more often than not for over 40 years.
"I'll cross that bridge when we get there. For now we should focus on you getting better."
"Hospital bed or no hospital bed I can still hex you. So quit being the king of masochism and take a chance with Rey, the way I took a chance with Han."
King of masochism? That's a little harsh, don't you think Leia?' "Did you read your daughter's letters? There's been a surge in dark magic on Brazil, Salem and other mystical centers in both North AND South America. This isn't the right time for me to go on a date."
"Luke: it will NEVER be the right time for you to do anything. There's no such as the right time. There's only the time we spend and earn and waste."
In the end he tells himself that he only agreed because Leia's hexes are notoriously difficult to break, and for all Leia knows the girl might not even want to go on a date with him. Having a crush is one thing, openly being courted is an entirely different field. But when all is said and done, Leia's right: he is prone to mental self-flagellation. Apart from confession, Luke can't remember the last time in this afterlife he did something for himself. That needs to be fixed.
Finding Rey is easier than he thought it would be, though in hindsight it was probably his negative attitude that brought him to believe such a simple feat would be complicated. Wow, Father Dameron's right. I do need a month of self-motivation courses. Or maybe I should just ask Mara how she manages to see her other form and still feel confident about herself.
When he finds Rey, the young nurse is about to fall off her chair in the cafeteria, taken by Morpheus's gentle embrace. Rey looks even prettier when she's at rest. Like a seraph breathing in and out with the world. Luke catches her before she falls to the cold, sterilized ground. In her sleep, Rey unexpectedly snuggles against his chest, warm and sweet and absolutely the best sensation he's had since they placed baby Allana in his arms. Loath as he is to wake up the sleeping beauty, Luke is aware that this whole thing shouldn't be happening, so he shakes her gently to rouse the beauty from her slumber. Finally her hazel irises flutter slightly open and the sight of it makes him smile.
"Two more minutes Finn. "
"I hate to disappoint you my lady but I'm not Finn."
Her cheeks flush the sweetest shade of pink and her hazel eyes grow wide and very much awake. "Oh dear! I'm so embarrassed Luke. Please tell me I didn't drool on your shirt."
"If you had I would have framed it on my wall - Are you all right Rey? You held your breath pretty long."
"It's silly. If I tell you then you'll pity me."
"Never my lady. Word of honor: I can only ever look upon you in praise."
"Luke, you talk like the men in the 50s movies. Has anyone ever told you that?"
"No, but I'm hoping that phrase is a compliment and not just you changing the topic."
"Pinkie swear you won't pity me once I tell you?"
"I pinkie swear it, Miss Jakku."
Once her odd manner of oath proclamation is committed by both of them Rey plays with the long sleeves of her uniform, looking for the right words in her head. What did life thrust upon miss Jakku that left her so wisely compassionate yet so charmingly innocent at times? Luke concludes that her natural empathy must have played a part in developing the woman standing before him because there's very little chance of hardship forming a soul as pure as the one currently suppressing the urge to bite her fingernails.
"No man's ever talked to me the way you do, not even Finn. My boss flirts but I know it'll never come to anything-"
"Rey, would you go out with me?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Would you consider tolerating my company in a non work-based scenario? Feel free to say no, I mean it's pretty rushed and we hardly know each other-"
"Luke: I'd love to but I have classes till 1in the afternoon and then I work here till night. My hours don't fit for coffee or lunch or trips to the zoo."
"What hour do you get off?"
"Ten pm tomorrow, midnight three days a week. Horrible for any dating scenario." Horrible for the average man's dating scenario, perfect for a vampire's.
"So how long would it take you to get ready after work?"
"Oh Luke, I can't ask you to do that, we'd be leaving at 11:30 minimum. I mean it's one thing to stay up all night for your mother but for me?"
"Rey, trust me when I say that any second with you is time well spent."
Without any warning, Rey kisses him on the mouth after hearing that brief yet earnestly declared sentence. It's been so long since he kissed a woman on the lips he'd forgotten how glorious it felt. Or maybe it's only now that he's experienced a kiss's true grandeur, everything which came before seems to be cheap practice to prepare him for this moment. Either way he knows he'll never want to kiss any other woman's lips from this day on.
*Excerpt from Alfred Tennyson's 'Sir Galahad'. The 1857 edition of Tennyson's poems was illustrated by Dante Gabriel Rosetti, one of the finest painters of the Pre-Raphaelite movement.
Hands out tin cup: comments please???
Saint Francis Xavier's Church, January 18, 6:45 am (Poe's POV)
The new Altar boy Kyp has a hyperactive streak, if the way he hands Father Dameron the Maniple so quickly he almost misses it, is anything to go by. Poe likes the kid and does his best to mentor him on the occasions young Durron requests guidance, but he's always been careful not to seem overly friendly towards him. He's well aware people these days are all too willing to accuse the Catholic Clergy of pedophilia (Not that he condones it, personally Poe would castrate the bastards, but just once he'd like for the other branches of Christianity to receive the same attention instead of most attention going to the Catholic transgressors while the Protestant pedophilia crimes are unheard through the media). The young priest accepts the Maniple from the boy and thanks Kyp who goes to retrieve the Eucharist and holy wine for Mass. As tradition dictates, he places the Maniple on his left arm.
“May I be worthy, O Lord, so to bear the Maniple of tears and sorrow: that with joy I may receive the reward of my labor.”
Once the short prayer is uttered Poe proceeds to grab the stole, performs the sign of the cross and kisses the center of the crucifix woven in the long slender band before placing the priest's sign of office over his shoulders. He utters the prayer for worthiness of bearing the holy band and follows procedure with the vestment, choosing red as befits the feast day of the martyred St. Archelais and her companions who were brutally slain under the Roman Empire.
Now fully dressed, the priest bows before the altar of God to say his 'Mea Culpa', ascends the altar. He kisses it reverently in respect to the relics contained and proceeds to the Missal. Rituals done, he waits for Kyp to come back.
"So now, Saint Francis is like WalMart, open 24/7." Ezra Bridger, discreet as always.
"So now, you've decided to haunt me every waking moment."
"I saw you, Dameron, up on the balcony. Giving a nighttime confession to some redhead woman."
Oh shit, he saw Mara. While Poe had been doubtful of Luke the first night they met, the man had proven himself trustworthy. (Sometimes the young priest thinks Obi-Wan's 'afflicted' friend has more humanity than half of the people Father Dameron sees in broad daylight.) For Skywalker there was never any doubt that his thirst for blood had to be restrained, kept in check for the sake of his soul. Most of their confessions were about mental sins, blurting the rage and frustration that came from a wretched destiny Luke hadn't chosen and fought the moment he figured out his skin burned in sunlight. Mara was an entirely different kind of confession, in one night Poe absolved seduction for murderous purposes, war crimes and the dubious grievance of beating some guy up for bullying a teenage girl.
If Mara Jade's confession was true, then in life she was a Captain under the US Army. That was until September 12, 2015, when her unit was ambushed in the Middle East on a night raid gone wrong. She was among the critically wounded dragged away by the enemy and sent to a strange prison where all the windows were nailed shut. There she watched helpless, as her soldiers were butchered like lambs by a group of English-accented vampires who took advantage of the war and mankind's incessant greed to fill the ranks of their army. A dark creature with paper-like skin whom some called Plagueis but other called Snoke examined the ragtag survivors one by one, draining most of them dry with a few exceptions being ushered into a corridor from which none returned.
When Plagueis, or Snoke, or whatever the foul demon's name was reached Mara, he sensed the potential for 'rage powerful enough to shake the heavens'. The vampire whom another lackey addressed as Lord Ireton spent two days draining her blood and ravaging her despite the fact she stabbed him twice with a rusty nail in the chest. After that they adjusted her to the 'new reality' of Snoke's undead army. For months they trained her in dark magic, sword-fighting and the art of using her powers to seduce and kill. She bid her time, and told herself that what she did would be small compared to the havoc she would reap upon her torturers. One year after her death Mara Jade took advantage of the human servant who dealt with Snoke's daytime affairs. In seconds she glamoured him into helping her escape. Once the boy stole a sarcophagus for her and smuggled her to America in it, Mara bled him dry.
Through October 2015 to late November of the same year, the former Army Captain created a bloodbath in her quest to eradicate every trace she found of Snoke and his lackeys in the United States. The more minions she killed the harder it got to stop herself from feeding indiscriminately. After a while there were voices in her head begging the young woman to quit limiting herself to drinking Vampire lackeys or drug dealers trying to sell to kids at nighttime pep rallies and just feed on the whole stadium. 'Life is worth nothing' the voices would whisper, saying that people are dying from the moment they're born and driving her to the brink of insanity when it kept asking over and over why she had so much respect for something so easily taken. She was half-mad by the time Luke found her on December 1st of 2015, a meeting of pure accident that also revealed Plagueis had inserted a 'must-kill on sight' drive spell? programming? or something of the sort into all his new recruits. Mara was reluctant to say anything else of that event except Skywalker's power excels her in ways she can't even begin to understand. But in terms of hand-to-hand combat he leaves much to be desired.
"Luke saved me, accepted me as no else ever had, not even when I was still human. For that I'd give him my life happily." she said, her voice soft but timidly brimmed with an unshakable faith. It made Poe wonder if Luke Skywalker was Mara Jade's true God.
God or Vampire or Man, such classifications matter not in the definition of honor or duty. He was not going to betray the trust both of his 'afflicted' confessors placed on him by revealing even the smallest hint of the truth to Bridger. He'd definitely refuse to listen after hearing the word 'Vampire', and would just think Poe's crazy or even worse actually believe and try to kill them. 'I'm sorry Ezra, but some truths cannot be told so easily, not everyone would understand them. '
"Stop spying on me, Bridger. At this point one could say you're looking for a restraining order."
"You know what you're looking for Dameron? Ex-com-mu-ni-ca-tion."
Upon hearing those words Poe runs over and it is only his vestment which reminds the young man not to punch his fellow priest or grab his shirt in a menacing form. "Don't you dare play Boss with me Ezra. Remember, the clergy also fought in the Crusades."
"Someone has to put the brakes on you, Dameron. This isn't your church, you can't do whatever pleases you on a whim. We have norms and they have to be followed first."
"This is the House of God. In this Church, only he is given utmost authority. Not you, not me and perhaps not even the Vatican. Our Lord doesn't place a waiting list on his followers."
Poe hears Ezra not-so-subtly call him a heretic behind his back and pushes the worry down as Deacon Horn arrives with the holy incense to bless the Altar for the congregants that will come for Mass today.
Hands out tin cup: comments please?????
Kings County Morgue, Brooklyn, January 18, 7pm (Jyn's POV)
Her first impression of Guardian Holdo is far from satisfactory. Perhaps it's the fact that the older woman wears impractical evening gowns during what her division back in Italy would have called a high risk situation, or the fact that Amilyn unconsciously sneers at retired Guardian Vos for his 'illicit behavior' which Jyn thinks is really frustrated jealousy. The man's unorthodox methods are more effective based on his kill score back in his combat days. Either way they don't get along, and none of the women make an effort to pretend otherwise. Cassian is even less willing to offer praise. Jyn's surprised he hasn't knocked this condescending bitch out cold. She credits her husband's patience to his years of espionage under the Zygerrian Witch Queen's Coven.
Fortunately, while Holdo might be a major disappointment, the mortician is the complete opposite. Doctor Kaytoo keeps all his files organized and immediately knows which case they're talking about without the newspaper Cassian had brought to jog his memory. Good to know some Americans retain a level of competency. Doctor Kaytoo also furthers Jyn's belief that Holdo is inept by casually commenting that the 2015 John Doe shared the same puncture wounds as a citizen identified as Kendal Ozzel in 1991, another unsolved case that turned cold after a short time. This of course, breaks Cassian's patience.
"Twenty-seven years and the mortician had to be the one to notice!!!! How did you miss this!!!"
Holdo stammers and it's a gratifying experience, Erso will be sad when it's over. Jyn wonders what actions could be taken to convince Quinlan to get back into the field because she'd rather have a ninety-two year old by her side than this lilac-haired ode to mediocrity. Hell, even Krennic would be preferable right now but he's busy investigating a woman named Jessika Pava along with potential heretic and/or Vampire lackey Father Dameron.
Oh, she's composed now. Shame. "You can't expect me to have your area of expertise. We barely hunt vampires anymore. Most of the time what we find are ashes or corpses unearthed after years."
"Then who kills the Vampires? We want them as back-up."
"No one knows."
"Further proof of your incompetence Amilyn: someone else has to do your job." Oh Cassian I love you...
"If she's no good at killing Vampires can I volunteer? I've always wanted to re-kill someone."
Oh shit, this complicates things. A civilian is involved now that Doctor Kaytoo has accidentally heard the conversation, having gone back for a stethoscope that he'd left behind. The three Agents stare at one another, deciding the next course of action with average gestures easily misunderstood by civilians. A nod to the left from Agent Holdo: hit him with the Taser gun Jyn keeps hidden in her belt's left compartment. A tap on the thigh from Agent Andor: 'that might not be necessary, he's shown no outward signs of distress'. A quiet brush of the right eyebrow from Agent Erso that confuses Agent Holdo but causes Agent Andor to smirk: 'We bring him into the fold for now. If he panics or betrays us we kill him.'
Cassian smiles at the taller man as he extends a hand in friendship, Jyn has the feeling he and the doctor will get along famously. She just hopes that doesn't mean they'll attract twice as much trouble together.
"Welcome to the Guardians of the Whills Doctor Kaytoo. We look forward to working with you."
"Thank you Mister Andor. I hope my third grade math teacher Mister Yularen got turned into a vampire. Driving a stake through his heart would be wonderful." Scratch that, it's not a feeling. It's a guarantee.
Brooklyn Heights, January 18, 10 pm- 11: 50 pm (Rey's POV)
"Finn. Stop laughing at 'How I Met Your Mother' and help me find something to wear!"
"Rey, no offense but the heterosexual man's limit of date clothes asked is twelve. I love you but my brain wants to relax after a shift, not look at pink and purple skirts."
"That last skirt was magenta, not pink. And I know your real motives for not helping me much Finn: you still think I shouldn't date a patient's son."
"You shouldn't date anything remotely close to a patient in my opinion. Patients are clingy and expect the same amount of time with them as you did in the hospital. Plus, they could use you for medical connections or stuff. There was a chick on the Intensive Care that started a relationship with a patient: she ended up being the guy's financial support for two years."
"Finn: The Solos are millionaires; you don't have to worry about that. Your theory of Luke being a ghost because he never comes in sunlight hours was better."
"If I find you a decent dress will you call the man and tell him the whole thing's off?"
"I'll consider it."
"Fine, I'll analyze your closet. You need more friends Rey."
He huffs but Rey knows that he wouldn't change a thing about their friendship. For the last ten years, Rey has always been able to count on Finn when needed and vice versa. Finn was the one who calmed Rey down after she started her periods and read her bedtime stories and blackmailed their last foster parent so they could live together in this drafty apartment when she was 16. Rey was the one who taught Finn how to cook and took care of him when he had the measles in eight grade and sneaked him to the movies for his twenty-first birthday. Who wants more friends when you've got Finn? Rey'd rather have one Finn Starros than a bunch of fair weather companions. 'Maybe that's why Finn is nervous, maybe he's afraid of losing me to Luke. Boys tend to get stupid thoughts when their best friends date.'
Two minutes and one belly-rub for BB-8 later, Finn emerges from her closet in victory as he holds up a simple yet elegant cream ankle-length halter dress with a navy blue embroidered layer of lace over it. Yes, this is perfect. Absolutely perfect!!! When she hugs Finn in gratitude he tells her that it was nothing in humility. BB-8 is the opposite, the orange and white tabby cat meows loudly for attention once he realizes belly-rubs are no longer the priority.
Luke arrives at 11:35pm, as he'd promised. Rey opens the door hastily and starts rummaging the living room in search of her good coat. No way in Hell is she braving a New York January without the proper tools to survive. She doesn't know why but Rey expects Luke to magically find her coat while she ruins any illusion that she's not horrible at finding personal when she's nervous. He seems like the type of start helping without being asked; in fact he did help her without her asking when he caught her from falling in the hospital cafeteria. If not for Luke, she would have fallen gracelessly to the floor and hit her head (again). But when she turns to face him Luke is still standing at the edge of her doorstep, nervously holding his palms with a look that Rey has seen on her face in childhood, whenever a random action or a family memento from some schoolmate or foster child that remembered their parents made her she was worthless because she couldn't talk about these things or do the tricks other children were taught by their parents. She resolves herself to wipe that look off his face immediately and takes his hands to bring him inside but he doesn't move.
"May I please come in?" Is that what's bothering you Luke? Is this a product of your upbringing?
Leia had confirmed that Luke wasn't Han's biological son when she asked the older woman for details after Mrs Solo said Luke never dates. Apparently Luke was conceived when she and her husband were 'taking a break'. One of many babies born out of one-night stands where the pill failed. Since she was from a long-standing blue blood family Leia didn't want the shame of having a bastard child so she gave him up for adoption. Rey didn't doubt the story for one second because her tears when she said 'I left him, I ran away from him when I was all he had'* were too genuine to be faked.
Luke's adopted father Anakin Skywalker was a kindly rich old man who lived five blocks after Luke's foster parents. He had a sister-in-law named Beru who loved flowers, it was this garden that brought Luke to the Skywalkers. He would brush his fingers over Beru's roses and pull weeds out when nobody was looking. One day old man Skywalker saw him and since then the twelve-year old boy spent every day with him in secret until Owen Lars offered Luke's foster parents an empty check in exchange for 'forgetting the kid exists'. After that Luke's life was great until his father died when he was nineteen. That led him to search for his birth mother, the rest was history. Still, twelve years of foster care don't just disappear overnight, and Luke must have been so hurt when he saw Leia's family. In Rey's fantasies where her parents came back they never had older siblings or any siblings at all.
She can't imagine how awful it must have felt to know that your mother chose to keep 'some' of her children and you were just the unlucky baby out because you had the wrong father. 'And Leia wonders why Luke never dates or has one-night stands. He's probably terrified of leaving some girl pregnant and forcing another child to endure the foster syste-'
"Rey, you haven't answered. May I please come in?" If I ever find who put that look on your face I'll carve off their hearts with a spoon.
"Yes, of course you can come in. Make yourself at home. Do you want some hot cocoa?"
He smiles and the pained expression vanishes from his face. Good, Rey never wants to see it on his angelic features again unless he's acting in a Shakespearean Tragedy. She hopes her blush wasn't too obvious when he told she looks beautiful.
"Do you need help finding your coat Rey?"
"Yes, please. I could have been sworn it was around here somewhere."
True to her 'magic gentleman' fantasy Luke does find her winter coat amidst the mess. He takes the fantasy a step further than she did by draping the long garment over her shoulders.
"Thank you!! How did you manage to find it?"
"Do you want the truth Rey?”
"The truth is the best way to start a relationship so yes."
"I caught the smell of your cheap hospital's coffee tied with melted snow and followed that."
She laughs and touches him playfully on the chest as a response. When she moves to touch him on the chest again Luke somehow grasps her hand with a feather-light hold before it reaches the intended destination. He kisses it in the form that makes Rey feel queenly and cherished and worthy of admiration. Naturally a gesture of such high caliber has to be rewarded in turn but how? Oh why did she spend so much time with a boy yet never paid attention to what boys like? She takes that last sentence back, she's not dating a boy tonight. Luke is a man, albeit a youthful faced one. Not all scars are in plain sight, Luke's tribulations are kept in his eyes which resemble a gentle older man's far more than a twenty-three year old youth's.
"Are you set to go now?"
"Yes, just let me say goodbye to Finn and BB-8. I swear that cat has a human brain sometimes. Wanna see him?"
"I should probably tell you now that cats and I don't get along. I'm more of a dog person."
"Why? Are you allergic?"
"No, it's just that… cats don't like me. They try to kill me every time. Can we please leave the cat's murderous intentions until the end of the date?"
"Fine, but only if you buy me something to eat or cook. I'm currently sustained by a lot of coffee and a half-eaten salad."
"Deal, I love a girl who's not afraid to eat a real meal."
When she says goodbye to Finn her best friend/co-worker/overprotective older brother tells Rey to be wary of Luke if he says cats don't like him because felines have the ability to see through 'the mist' and perceive evil creatures. Honestly, her friend's spending far too much time with their landlady Maz Kanata and her supposed 'white witch' stories. Coat ready and purse at hand Rey walks out the door with Luke. She doesn't use the flower petals Maz gave her to cast a spell for a lovely first date. Luke's hands gently rubbing circles over her back in the elevator once he notices her ache is all the reaffirmation she needs that this will be the start of a love story with a Disney-Style happy ending.
*remember this line folks, it will be important later.
Hands out tin cup: comments please???
A few minutes after chapter 9- 2:30 am January 19( Rey's POV)
When they step out of her apartment Rey meets what must be the tallest human being in North America, or New York at least. The childish part of her brain likens him to Willy the Giant from 'Fun and Fancy Free'. The exotic tone of his voice does little to dissuade her from picturing him in a fantasy world. Luke introduces him as Chewbacca 'Call me chewie' who informs Rey he'll be driving them tonight. Her mind flashes to one of those films where the rich playboy dresses the week’s pursuit in gold jewelry in exchange for sex. ‘Calm down: you’re letting Finn’s paranoia get to you. Just ask him.’
"Luke, you're not trying to buy me right?" Please prove Finn wrong.
"Buy? No. Impress: 100% effort."
'I really need to stop blushing around him, soon he'll think pink is my natural skin tone.' As they enter the car (which Rey recognizes as a 2009 Phantom Rolls-Royce. Reminding her that if not for the debts then she would have taken some engineering classes due to her life-long love for cars or anything with a motor really) Rey notices that Luke doesn't seem bothered by the chill. Maybe he grew up in Alaska or something? She'll have to ask him that later tonight. As the car moves she finds herself slightly more open and starts pointing out a few buildings she's seen before. Luke in turn smiles and asks her to explain, after a while he starts to tell stories about a few of the older buildings. Rey knows he couldn't have lived through those stories since he talks about Great Depression worker unions and 1940s war bond sales but it feels like he did with how vivid his descriptions are.
Rey opens the middle box to see if the famed automobile really does have a refrigerator. She's pleased to find out those graphics she exchanged for a night's sleep doing homework are accurate. The fridge is full of chocolate and Rey thinks it's a much better idea idea than fizzy champagne she didn't like on the sole occasion her lips touched the 'chic' beverage. Rey's dress and her desire to not have Luke think she's childish are the only reasons why she doesn't stuff herself with Ferrero Rocher. Around 16 kilometers and ten stories later, the car stops and Rey almost faints when the door opens to reveal the Plaza Hotel.
Despite living in New York all her life, Rey's only glimpsed the famous hotel on 'Home Alone 2: Lost In New York'. So the idea of walking through the hotel for a date sounds quite lovely, even if it's much too late for them to actually eat anything here. She remembers Eloise in the hand-me down books on foster home number 9 always had tea here. Maybe she can ask one of the butlers for mints? Just as her ravenous mind starts to ponder the possibility a man in a well-tailored suit, the concierge manager, sees them and says they're right on time. 'Hold on a minute: what exactly did he plan?'
"What he did mean by 'we're right on time'?"
"It means you're about to eat something which will ruin all those hospital salads for you, Rey."
"You can't ruin what was never good in the first place."
He shakes his head in good humor, smiles and kisses her in the palm as a response. Luke hesitates before kissing her on the lips, almost as if part of him felt like letting his lips touch hers was an unholy transgression.' What have you lived through Luke? Are you like Jon Snow in Season 1; who thought his being a bastard meant he had no right to be content before his 'legitimate' siblings were? And if so, just how much are you trying to convince yourself you're not committing some horrid act by taking a bit of happiness for yourself?' She wants to ask, but chooses not to for the moment. Prying into people's deepest fears is a dreadful way to repay them for taking you to the Plaza Hotel.
When a butler offers to take her coat off, Rey politely (or at least she thinks it's politely) informs the boy that's around her age it won't be necessary. She doesn't want to brave any air conditioned setting tonight. Luke has no such qualms. He readily hands the young man his dark wool coat and reveals a black dress shirt underneath.
"All right: I have to ask. Is black the only color in your closet?"
"I'm in mourning right now, for an old friend." 'Nice going Rey, way to be sensitive.'
"Oh Luke, please forgive me. I didn't mean to offend you-"
"Rey, did you kill Father Obi-Wan Kenobi?"
"No, I never even heard of him."
"Then how are you offending me? You had no reason to assume that I was in mourning. The practice of wearing black beyond the funeral lowered considerably after the late 60s. Most people would just think I'm emo."
"You do have the dramatic emo gaze down to perfection."
"I do not!!"
She laughs. "Oh yes you do. You practically glued it on Jacen's forehead when he made that odd joke on May/December pairings. Did he always joke like that?"
"He used to be worse. Tenel Ka's slightly calmed him down, but sadly there's no escaping that god-awful humor."
"Your older brother's not so bad. I wish I had that many siblings, that way I'd never be alone. What are you looking at?"
"Myself: a lifetime ago. When I was young and naive."
'You're not that old', is about to escape from Rey's lips when their menus are brought. She avoids looking at the price tags to prevent her going into cardiac arrest. If she worries about the cost then she won't enjoy herself, and she wants to have a good time.
Luke says he plans to fatten her up. She raises her eyebrows in mock-nature and exclaims boys are supposed to want their girls to be skinny. Apparently Luke thinks 105 pounds is ten pounds too little for her 5"7' stature. This causes them to start a light-hearted battle of wits. Rey almost thinks she's won the argument until he starts describing certain details about malnutrition like how she bruises easily and often misses her periods. God how long has she been in denial?
Probably since she started working at the hospital: Rey's been so scared of finding out someone died because she wasn't on turn, she never considered the possibility she might be working herself to death by fatigue and/or malnutrition.
She resolves herself to quit the 'I can eat/enjoy/ watch this later' act and just picks out the prettiest looking thing in the menu: the dessert. She tells Luke she wants a whole Lemon Silk pie, his response is to recommend a soup before said delicacy so she eats something healthy first but doesn't stay too full for the pastry. Rey likes how he responded, he didn't think it was childish and he actually listened to her: if there was any doubt that he's better than all those high school boys who tried to date her it got thrown out the window. When Luke orders it's her turn to inform him against the dangers of eating raw meat because he orders beefsteak tartar which happens to be slightly bleeding.
"You're going to get E. Coli if you eat that."
"This is the Plaza: the sanitations measures are a mile long."
"Is it supposed to have blood on it?"
"I asked for it this way. It changes the flavor."
"Oh, so there it is."
"The flaw: you had to have some sort of defect so a man with your personality, looks and resources is still single. You eat gross stuff like that and the girls go home."
Luke laughs, a rich and beautiful thing which makes the butterflies in her stomach take flight, to the point where she might just let him kiss her afterwards, despite the fact his mouth probably tastes like raw meat and egg yolk. Lots of conversation, One Lobster bisque, lemon silk pie and mini-coconut cheesecake later, Rey feels truly full for the first time in her life. Who knew you could actually get so much to eat outside a movie? Or talk that way with someone besides Finn for so long? It does make her a bit sleepy, though the late hour probably factors into her drowsiness as well. Luke puts her arm over his back, an expression of fondness but none whatsoever of fatigue. Maybe he drank a large caramel latte before their date?
Rey almost falls asleep on the car drive home, comfortable as she rests her head on his shoulder. It feels like she's safe there, like the whole city could burn and Luke would protect her from harm. When they stop on her apartment building, Rey's a tiny bit upset the sensation will be unavailable till the next time. She wants 'next time' to come sooner.
"You want me to carry you home, my lady?"
"Sure you're not worried my cat will murder you?"
"I figure some things are worth getting mutilated over."
"If you insist then: you may carry me home to my castle good Sir. My flannel pajamas and steadfast feline await."
She counts it as a success that her blush doesn't emerge as he gently picks her up in bridal style and brings her up the stairs without breaking a sweat. His chest feels a bit cool, but Rey attributes it to the night chill as Luke slowly places her on the tiny 'living room' couch and puts her coat on the rack. Thankfully BB-8 is asleep (though the cat starts running in his dreams to the point where Rey's sure that if BB wasn't stuffed with tuna the tabby'd be awake). As he's preparing to leave the words fly out of her mouth.
"Stay with me." 'Oh God, I sounded like a slut. There's no way a man could think that means I want to snuggle....'
"Rey, it's 2 :30 in the morning. I have to go to sleep."
"I meant sleep and snuggle, nothing else. Or we could watch the sunrise. My morning teacher's sick so I have the time free."
The young woman watches that horrible expression of worthlessness return for a brief moment, mercifully replaced by a timid little grin seconds after. It doesn't quite reach his eyes until Luke's fingers brush over her palm. A gesture which seems to be soothing for her but therapeutic for him. She's half dozing when she hears his voice.
"I...I have a pretty big secret I promise I'll tell you soon enough but first I want you to know me. So maybe when I tell you then perhaps you'll still want me-"
"Don't talk about yourself like that. You're wonderful and sweet, and you gave me the best night of my life. Only a madwoman wouldn't want you."
"Just promise me that when I'm ready to tell that truth you'll try to understand?"
Luke's goodbye smile after she gives her word is a bright and hopeful thing to behold. It is trust rewarded and faith sealed in a short but meaningful brush of skin against skin.
Hands out tin cup: comments please????
Chapter 11: Encounters
Wow, this chapter escaped my grasp and grew to nearly three thousand words. Sorry? Not sorry?
Brooklyn Hospital, 8 pm, January 20 (Rey's POV)
The day, or night, or just hours after her date with Luke, Finn's all-nighter for Micro-Biology leaves him oblivious to everything except the smell of freshly brewed coffee and whether the bathroom is occupied. She takes advantage of the boon and goes to sleep at a reasonable hour, but not before texting Luke her actual shift which ends at 8:30 and 10:00 pm three days a week so he doesn't lose any more sleep than necessary. Afterwards, despite the large eye bags and his wearing different socks, Finn doesn't miss the nice little Steak and Spaghetti in the hospital fridge Luke sent her. Instead of enjoying a wonderful home cooked meal when she offers to share, Finn just looks at the dish with paranoia. 'Does he expect it to be poisoned or something?'
"Rey, did you ask Sir Gawain to bring you dinner?"
"No, he brought it for me all on his own. Finn: why are you being so paranoid? Luke is honest, sweet, chivalrous-"
"Come on Rey, be logical: no one's that good."
"Maybe Luke is."
"Yeah sure, and maybe The Last Jedi didn't ruin one of the few good parts of our crappy childhood."
'Damn it, he had to remind me of that mentally scarring film.' Because of that Rey doesn't share any of the hot chocolate in her thermos with him. Finn has the decency to acknowledge the comment robbed him of any right to his usual portion. Still, part of her feels guilty for having a fight with Finn when all he's trying to do is watch for her, the man's practically raised her. Finn is the only person who's always stayed with her through thick and thin. He must feel like a father/older brother hybrid at this point, after a decade of watching over me since I was nine. Maybe that's his problem: over-protective loving dad mode: like in the movies.
"So: who are we treating right now?"
"Blood transfusion for anemia patient: Doctor Calrissian was supposed to do it but he tried to hit on her. She broke his nose as a response."
"Really? Poor Lando."
"What are you going all 'poor Lando' for, Rey? Maz warned him to stop flirting before his nose got broken. As far as I'm concerned, he was warned."
"You put too much faith in superstition."
"You are putting too much faith on mister fancy candlelight dinner and bridal-style carrying."
"Finn: this isn't the place to talk about it. Let's just deal with Lando's anemia patient before she grabs a wheelchair and hits us too, ok?"
"Ok, but we're discussing it later."
The woman they find does not fit their expectations. Doctor Calrissian has a long-time fondness for brunettes and chocolate eyes, so they’d expected a person fitting said physical criterion. Perhaps some petit Latina college student. Or a feisty middle-aged Asian girl. What they get is a red-gold headed figure with Sophia Loren type eyes who in Rey’s opinion would definitely be picked up by Hollywood in a flash, should any casting agents catch a glimpse of her. She wears an Army uniform, which probably explains where her iron deficiency worsened. Soldiers with blood diseases have a hard time surviving on military rations. Finn takes the initiative and shakes her hand, careful not to give any signs of flirting. Either he’s afraid of getting slapped or her best friend’s crush on Rose Tyco is more powerful than she thought.
"Are you ready for the procedure, Miss Jade?"
"Captain Jade, for you. The fact I need some AB positive doesn't render me incapable of kicking your ass." 'Oh God Finn, there's no need to be scared of her. She's probably joking.'
"Duly noted, Captain. My name's Finn, and this is my co-worker, Rey."
Her gaze takes on a deeper focus after that. Rey's gut tells her that Captain Jade is now inspecting her but that's ridiculous. Rey's never met the woman in all her life, she would remember if she had. There's no reason for her to be placed under scrutiny. Maybe Captain Jade's one of those feminists who silently evaluate every working woman they find? Or maybe she had a bad transfusion experience in the war with a female surgeon? Rey chooses the second option, it seems more believable.
When she was younger, Rey used to have a sort of 'spidey-sense' which told her who and what to trust. Around certain people's company images of a Tim Burton-esque graveyard scenario would appear. Because of this, Rey was called stupid by her peers on several occasions: you had to be stupid to turn down sweets from the nice old lady who offered chocolate and called her 'the little mage' in foster number 3, or keep wearing silver painted earrings around the jock who 'had a crush' on the unseen beauty in middle school. Over time the graveyards dissipated, but Rey was still cautious of people whose presence brought back the tiniest flicker of that dreary place to her mind.
Captain Jade is an oddity. The Army Captain feels cold as the tombstones, yet Rey also senses something bright and fuzzy within. It reminds the young nurse of a puppy somehow. More importantly, every bone in her body is saying, while Mara COULD crush her and Finn's bodies into a mess on the floor, the redhead WANTS no harm to come to them. Upon gathering said impression, Rey's mind is given a picture of that blue and purple monster from Pixar with the little girl dressed in pink. All right, she can trust that so long as the evidence holds steadfast and the worst she does is hit flirting older men who never learned their lesson.
The transfusion goes smoothly; though Rey has the impression Captain Jade was an addict of some sort once: she twitches as Finn leans over to her and presses the needle on her skin. Her eyes never leave the syringe and despite her best efforts Rey saw her fidget. She invites Mara to a cup of cheap processed coffee when her break ends in nine minutes. The redhead jokingly says Rey's not her type and looks at her in an expression which says Mara doesn't know many good people, but treasures the few she has when the young nurse responds she was inviting her to calm down the nerves.
Lando Calrissian's eyes widen at the cafeteria. No one knows if it's from the sight of Rey 'No break' Jakku actually sitting down with her cup instead of her standard chug-down-in-one-gulp and moving on to the next patient or the fact the lady sitting next to her and laughing is the one that broke his nose.
Same time, St Francis Xavier Church (Poe's POV)
With the last mass for the day concluded an hour ago, Poe had gone out for ice cream. He wonders what they teach in Baskin Robbins which make the workers gape in surprise at the sight of a priest's collar. Poe had a good laugh thanks to the woman who started talking about what a waste it was for a 'smoking hot' guy to swear to not have sex without her realizing he was standing behind her. It was cute to see her flush and attempt to offer apologies as he ate his ice cream cup. The rich pralines n'cream is half-finished when his cell phone rings.
"Hello. Father Dameron of St Francis speaking. How may I help you?"
"Poe, it's me. It's Jessika. I'm calling from a burner phone inside my vault to tell you there's a wannabe Van Hellsing guy looking for you and not in a good way."
"You have a burn phone, Jess?"
"Right, Vampire hunter looking for me. How do you know he was a Vampire hunter?"
"He was dressed dramatically, looked at my obscure Vampire lore books the way historians look at dubious historical tomes, and HE HAD A SILVER STAKE UNDER HIS CAPE!!!"
Virgen Santa...' "Does he know anything about L- about our friend?"
"No, he didn't have any names except yours. I never thought I'd say this, but you need to burn the good stuff ASAP."
"Wait, you don't mean burn all those books you gave me?"
"Desperate times call for desperate measures, Preacher. I'd rather attend a book pyre than your funeral. Go back to Church and shove it all down the fireplace before they find you."
"They? I thought you said it was only one guy."
"Use your noodle, Poe. These people never come without some sort of back-up."
The thought of Ezra and the nuns who frequently visit the chapel alone, as they face circumstances they didn't ask for, causes him to leave his ice cream and run in the middle of the street to catch the nearest taxi. Obviously, the driver yells he's crazy until he shows him the 200 dollars in his wallet he's willing to pay in order to reach St. Francis in time.
When he arrives, Sister Jocasta is complaining they've closed the church to everyone. Poe tells them to go back to the convent for tonight and promises that he'll get to the bottom of this. As he opens the back door which leads to the priest's apartments with the spare key Father Kenobi gave him in secret. 'If this is how things work around here, it's no wonder the old guy became so paranoid.’
The chamber with preparations for Mass is left untouched. The antique ruby and silver crucifix is still hanging on the wall, which scratches out any possibility of thieves. In fact, everything is untouched until he reaches the dormitories. There his side of the room is completely messed up. Poe looks at the compartment in which he kept most of the books and finds it empty. The compartment only two people knew where to find. 'Okay, that's it Bridger: You're either being an asshole or having a psychotic breakdown. If it's the first I'm going to show you why Latinos are stereotyped as the violent kids in the movies.'
Poe fixes the portrait of Jesus's Sacred Heart and makes the sign of the cross before storming off to the clergy's office. Instead of Ezra he finds another trashed room. Though in this case the books are left out in the open, their spines left breathing to reveal images of the horrific creatures that he couldn't truly associate with Luke who is gentle and selfless and truer in his faith than half of the supposedly pious crowd which keeps asking but never seeks to give to the Lord. That fuels his anger enough to continue running through the corridors.
Jessika's comment of Van Hellsing wannabes comes back as a Latin American looking man with a crossbow on his back stands on the right side of the altar. The mustached fellow with the crossbow is dressed in black and Poe notices the outfit is quite similar to Luke's clothing. At the left side is Ezra, the fucking bastard is standing next to a woman equally dressed in black with a crystal necklace that reminds Poe of the weird mini-sword necklace Obi-Wan Kenobi had. The only difference being the old priest's version had a sword hilt (he never told anybody what it meant) instead of the generic jewelry clasp miss dark haired Buffy is wearing. Didn't Luke say that he and Obi-Wan dressed like the people in the all but extinct Jedi Order? As far as he knows Luke is the Last Jedi so who are these people?
Another figure is behind the altar, the candlelight gives a yellow tint to the ivory white of his cloak. Poe feels the blood rushes to his head as he recognizes this is the man Jess tried to warn him about. He watches the cloaked figure turn slowly, leaving Father Dameron with the impression they were the younger New Jedi? Secret Inquisition? Die hard Dracula fans? Aren't necessarily trying to be over the top, this last person lives for the dramatic. When the gray haired man and Poe are staring face to face the younger of the two suppresses a tone of panic upon seeing the cloaked man holds one of the rare books Jessika gave him wide open. Staring at images the way she'd described him but in this case she might have preferred to be wrong.
"Interesting reading material. Especially for a priest." He slams the book shut and part of Poe swears the female rolled her eyes at the action.
'Is that supposed to scare me? Bitch, I grew up in Harlem'. "You have no right to do this."
"You're mistaken, Father Dameron: It is you who has no right. You have no right to turn this holy place into a refuge for those who have renounced God and all he stands for."
"And what drove you to that conclusion, Mister Opera Ghost? Couple monster novels and you're set to burn me on the stake?"
The mustached fellow with the crossbow slightly shoves the cloaked fellow away, probably due to the fact his mannerisms have steadily grown more aggressive as he speaks. Poe learns the cloaked man is Krennic when the brown haired woman tells him to let her handle this. She's beautiful in a badass superhero way. Her braid and poised stance remind him of those Viking warriors in Norse paintings. The knives and guns and a canister which may contain holy water only help to contribute for that image. Why are all women he finds attractive involved in dark shit? Is there a psychologist for this sort of thing?
"What my overzealous work companion is trying to say is you've become a person of interest to your higher ups for the wrong reasons. As of late you've developed a...fixation on the world of the occult, particularly Vampires. Not only that, you've been seen giving nighttime confessions. Surely you can understand our concern."
She hands him some of the pages printed out from his search history. The fact these people have the technology to reboot an erased computer memory confirms his suspicion they're either well-financed or serving under a high priority branch of the Vatican. When did his life become a conspiracy theory/ B-rated monster film?
“Who sent for you? Whom do I have to call so you can get the Hell out of here?" He expects the woman to answer, or the mustached fellow who leans protectively over her (he notices the matching wedding rings on their fingers at that moment) once Poe's said those words but instead it's Ezra who steps forward. Accusations of heresy Father Bridger? This is an all-time low.
"Guardian Jyn Erso and her companions are emissaries of the Vatican here to investigate your strange activities. And I called for them."
"Oh yeah? Does Guardian Erso from the Vatican? (She nods) know you feel cheated out of my position? That you're a paranoid? That follows every breath I take? That you have an obsession with me!?!?"
"Obsession and a very unhealthy one by the way, what you have with Vampires."
"Nevertheless, the order we belong investigates the sinister occult. You seem like a good man, I'm sure you'll be willing to help us protect what you love from the evil plaguing this world."
Jyn's words sink in their view on his reality. As far as they know he's a man responsible for a community, now a possible suspect for satanic lore and all it represents: hatred, violence, lack of empathy and on a lesser note debauchery. While he may want to slam Ezra's head on the wall, the truth is Poe has given him very little reason to trust him on this occasion. It's not like you're supposed to hug somebody for filling a clerical room with Anti-Christ books. Bridger's an idiot who jumps to conclusions too quick and hasn't really learned how the world operates but some of the guilt must lie with him as well. After all, Father Kenobi held confession to Luke with Bridger and nothing happened. 'Why is all this taking place now? What did I do wrong?' He has no answer for that, all he knows is two things: his 'heretical' research was only done to help people nobody else would and he can't allow Luke and Mara to be hurt by this group.
"Guardian Erso, I have nothing to do with the occult."
"Then who was receiving the nighttime confessions?"
"A former Army Captain struggling with PTSD, and a young man who suffers from depression. Good folks, I assure you. Besides: If these creatures are fire of hell-levels of evil then they wouldn't be capable of entering Church, right?"
Poe knows the answer has only bought him a short amount of time, so he uses it to call that secret number Luke gave him on a payphone once he agrees to a brief interrogation tomorrow. Thank goodness he memorized it instead of putting the number on his mobile.
"Hi, is this Wedge Antilles?"
"How did you get this number kid? Who are you and what do you want?"
Why is it only the Vampires trust me at first sight so far!?!?'
"My name is Poe Dameron, a friend of yours said you manage his affairs." 'Please make the connection, please make the connection.'
He waits a few moments until the reply comes. "Ok preacher, what do you need our mutual friend to know?"
'Gracias Dios Mio.'
"Tell him and his friend it's too dangerous to come to Church for a while. There's some secret monster hunting group here looking for them. Just warn' em to stay safe all right?"
"Got it, he's as good as told." He clenches his hands in prayer and walks back in the chilled night air.
Hands out tin cup: comments please???
Central Park, 1 am, January 22 (Cassian's POV)
Father Dameron is either the best liar he's come across or, the Vampires have now perfected the art of making sleeping agents like the ones in Marvel's Agents of Shield. Two hours of interrogation and the man had revealed no secrets, given no allusions he's aided or temporarily harbored any dark creatures of Hell. Jyn had placed the priest under a truth detector around 8 pm. Krennic had wanted to use Veritaserum (The Vatican is still trying to figure out if J.K Rowling had an inside source for that potion to be included in her fantasy novels) but Cassian refused. For magically in tuned humans and even white witches/warlocks the serum is quite painful, for non-in tuned humans it's the equivalent of that Ancient Chinese torture in which they placed a bucket full of rats in your midsection and put a burning torch over your stomach so the rats ate you alive.
What were the higher-ups thinking when they assigned Krennic to this job? Surely there was a more suitable candidate? Then again, he was probably the last choice. After all, their usual partner Bodhi is somewhere hunting Yetis with their other substitute partner, Father Chirrut Imwe. Cassian saw Orson Krennic's profile: he had a good kill record, good instincts too, but there was a recurring lack of empathy towards those ensnared by Vampiric spells. His file held a message for Jyn and Cassian saying if Orson failed to show the required compassion at those who were unfortunate victims of the demons' web, the Vatican would strip him of the Guardian role. Andor is already filing a report to ensure that happens as quickly as possible, but for now he enjoys a nice stroll in the park with his badass, valiant and gorgeous wife.
Jyn is truly beautiful under the moonlight. She needs no makeup or gaudy ornaments to embellish her natural perfection. Her lips taste like the strawberry cupcake they 'liberated' from the Church Kitchen before leaving. Jyn's mischievous smile is evident as her eyes roam some of the trees. He knows her well enough to see she's wondering whether it's a good idea to climb it or not.
His wife's about to let go of his hand and enjoy the endearingly sweet tradition when Cassian hears a shuffle on the land, instinct forces them both to turn and face whoever approaches.
They're met with the sight of an old woman, bundled up in her many fabrics and holding out a plastic cup extended in their direction. Wrinkled and dirt-ridden arm gazing in expectation to their answer, to the money or the shooing away.
"Spare some coin for an old woman like me Sir?"
"Of course. Head down to St. Francis in the morning: they serve a good breakfast, not the cheap stuff politicians give and ask you to be thankful for. Jyn, you have the purse: do you mind?"
Cassian's beloved wife kills him with her magnificent green-brown irises as she walks closer to the old beggar lady. Jyn's about to hand her money when her kyber crystal necklace grows red upon nearness to the old woman, the way it only does around dark magic practitioners or underworld creatures.
Funnily enough, she doesn't even blink. Jyn tries to quickly hand the old woman her awaited 5 dollar bill so as to prevent whatever creature this is from getting suspicious, the old woman's hand takes on inhuman speed and grabs her, forcing Cassian to give away his secret and cut off the heathen beast's arm with the hidden silver blade kept under his coat. The wretched thing abandons all pretenses; the old woman disappears to show a fresh face with hellish red eyes hissing at them with her fangs. And Holdo said they were no Vampires? No wonder New York has so little dignity if its protectors display such a blatant disregard to the harsh reality presented.
He recognizes the Vampire's face from the missing persons profile Kaytoo assembled gathering deaths or disappearances which held unnatural characteristics: Arihnda Pryce, New York Police Department, who went MIA after a drug bust gone wrong in 2012. From what they've figured out she wasn't a particularly kind person to begin with. Her co-workers all claimed she was short-fused, manipulative, a worshipper of Machiavelli: the perfect mold for a Vampire, clearly somebody else shared the same point of view.
Jyn shoots the damn bitch with her no longer hidden crossbow, half dutiful and half pissed at nearly getting caught by this blood-sucking leech. He proceeds to do the same and compares the scene to an old Hammer film, only this time both protagonist and antagonists are female. Pryce successfully eludes the first rounds by turning into mist but is unable to avoid the 6th of Jyn's silver plated arrows and falls screaming to the ground as her shoulder bleeds profusely, indicating she ate recently. Guardian Erso drags Pryce's undead carcass to his position, holding Pryce at gunpoint without breaking a sweat. 'God I love that woman.'
Cassian takes out a holy water dipped rope and starts fastening it around the vile once-woman's neck, leaving room for the creature to 'breathe' so Pryce can reveal the Englishman's location. The skin on her collarbone starts to blacken and he can tell she's struggling not to show weakness by knowingly writhing in pain before her opponents, yet no words escape the Vampire's lips.
"Tell us who sent you." He tightens the rope a bit; Pryce squirms and moves her mouth to speak.
"My master shall never fall under your sword. Not even Skywalker can finish him off."
'Skywalker: like the legendary Jedi Anakin Skywalker who died in World War I? What does he have to do with this?' Anakin, along with the rest of the Jedi perished over a century ago. But the rope prevents Vampires from lying....Determined to obtain answers he plays along with the ruse, locking eyes with Jyn for luck.
"I wouldn't be so sure about that: Skywalker's the greatest warrior my side ever produced."
With an air of cocky superiority she sets about correcting him, "Skywalker's an indoctrinated fool, deluding himself into thinking he's still a Jedi when in truth he's nothing but a kin-slayer. A traitor to his own species who dragged Jade down the same back-stabbing road."
Jyn and Cassian both come to the inevitable conclusion Pryce is raving mad. Why else would she go about proclaiming one of the last great heroes of the Jedi Order was a demonic being? What's next: that the old parish priest Kenobi was the same Kenobi as the Great Jedi whose death was confirmed by both the Church and Duke Bail Organa of the Spanish White Covenant? Besides, most Vampires set their charges on killing sprees at less than a decade old usually don't care if the 'newborn' comes out insane, they just want the thrill of watching their 'progeny' wreaking damage across the nighttime world.
Pryce continues rambling about how feeble they are, how her master will relish Jade's (that name he'll actually look up) and Organa's (using the names of a covenant which got wiped out decades ago reaffirms his stance she's a lunatic parasite) mournful cries as the 'traitor' inhales his dying gasp.
“Tell Skywalker we're coming for him: he must join or die as all humans shall be forced to choose soon enough."
Jyn steps in that moment. "I'll be sure to tell him, Miss Pryce. Right after we have lunch with Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table."
The Vampire growls in anger. They see her rage and try frantically to break free from the bonds until suddenly, a red stain blooms from her forehead, smelling of Rowan and silver nitrate. Pryce drops motionlessly to the floor, finally dead in body as well as in soul.
Jyn's Kyber crystal regains its transparent shade as she and Cassian place their hands on the other's rosaries and chant the ancient exorcist prayer of St. Michael to ward off evil, just in case this 'assistant' turns out to be another Vampire. The rite shall not allow the evil to step any further. It has a 'radius' of over ten miles so anyone within its reach will drop to the ground. Both of them walk the aforementioned length, they find no sentient being intelligent enough to create a bullet like that, much less in time.
Meanwhile: Luke Skywalker keeps chanting the cloaking spell as he hides up a tree with a smoking gun in one hand and a crucifix on the other, wondering when the Church agents in this century started being surprisingly (admirably) competent in their task.
Hands out tin cup: comments please???
Antilles Manor/ Headquarters to 'Rogue Squadron' for Mankind's Protectors, January 23, 7pm (Luke's POV)
Anakin and Jaina's return is both a blessing and a bringer of further worries. A blessing because he missed his beloved 'niece & nephew' and is gladder than words can convey to see them again, and a cause for multiplied concern because Jaina's brought news the Salem Witch Coven has turned its back on the Wicca and accepted the Vampire's terms for an unholy alliance. 'I don't know what's worse: the fact loyalty means so little these days, or the fact evil witches in Salem is so cliché it makes me want to gag.'
Wedge goes to the map/table in which the mystical half of this world is depicted and takes out a pawn from the witch figurine in their side and adds it to the lower level of the table, the part painted as Hell. The retired Army Colonel almost lets out a curse but decides against it to set an example for the younger generation.
"One less piece of the chessboard in our favor. Baby Solo: tell me you at least brought some good news."
He looks like he is trying very hard to be positive when he replies, "Sorta?"
Luke's gaze turns soft, hopefully conveying they won't blame the boy for anything. The kid's barely turned eighteen. He can't be expected to save the entire human race all on his own. Anakin puts too much pressure on himself as it is. "We'll take news as they come Anakin. You're not the one responsible for the evil infesting our realm."
The young boy rubs a hand on the back on his neck. "The African Conglomerate refuses to fight for the Vampires...but they don't want to fight with us either. Neutrality is their goal now, same applies for the Centaurs. And the goblins. We all know the fae will just retreat to Avalon."
Quinlan Vos groans in frustration and plops his feet in the table, not caring about setting examples in the slightest. "Great: that leaves us with only Queen Teneliel's animagus clan, the Celchu family's dragon riders and the witch Jedi who don't consider themselves Jedi because Mister Fanged Boy Scout is as bad as Obi-Wan on insisting all new members of the Order had to be approved by the Vatican."
'How on Earth did that man ever ascend to the priesthood?' "Quinlan: now is not the time for petty squabbles. Is your apprentice ready for combat?"
Vos smirked, "My not-Jedi Padawan Aayla has been ready for some time now. I might not partake with your stance on the Order Master Skywalker, but on the rest I find you're quite easy to agree with: if only because you understand better than most that to walk deeper in the shadows doesn't necessarily equal belonging to the dark."
"Good, we need all the help available."
The aged priest and Jedi Vampire bow to one another in accordance to the custom. Vos leaves the room to prepare for his 8 pm Mass at Harlem. Luke sighs wearily once Father Kenobi's old friend retires from his sight. It's not as if he wants to deny them the rank of Jedi but at the same time he's under no illusion any Vatican emissaries would be willing to see him and grant the request. All they've been trained to do is put a silver stake on his old and weathered heart. Vos should understand that, unless he's forgotten how they met: Vos saw him in the 70's taking Leia to a movie and the liberal Priest/American Guardian tried to kill him, not counting on the fact the young woman Vos believed to be 'his next ignorant victim' was actually a feisty teenage witch who turned said priest into a baby duck. (an event Leia has never let him live down).
He wasn't doing any illicit activities at the time. Just trying to have a good time with Leia and accustom her to the new neighborhood since they'd had to move now she was old enough to look like his little sister and not his daughter. Aging spells could only be applied briefly for whatever he is so staying wasn't an option. People were starting to say the warning comments: 'Mister Skywalker how do you keep your skin so smooth? Luke, how are you: I swear you haven't aged a day or is it my aging eyes playing tricks?'
It didn't matter to Quin in an era of relative calm regarding the supernatural. It won't matter to the New Vatican authorities if they so much as catch a glimpse of him in this chaotic turn of events. Nobody ever wants the 'demon' alive.
He pushes the negative thoughts down, buries them as deep as he can. 'That won't happen, I won't let it happen. I'll just have to be a tad more quiet from now on.' Wedge looks at him, the years having turned once jet black hair white as snow.
"Hey Luke: I'm heading down for a drink in the cellar. Got a stash of O positive, if you want?"
Luke gave a small smile, "Not tonight, old friend. I have a previous engagement."
"I hope for your sake it's not heading off to confession. Old Kenobi picked a good kid, but you going to church places Father Dameron and all of us in danger."
"Thank you for the insight, Captain Obvious. Lucky for you this has nothing to with St. Francis."
"Oh? What are you doing? Got a hot date for tonight?"
He smiles "Yes. I have a date."
'Oh come on, Wedge. You don't have to look that surprised.' The retired Army Colonel turned protector of mankind stays speechless for a few minutes until he regains common sense and stares at him dubiously.
"Are you really going on a date or are you just messing with me?"
"What? Why would you say that?"
"Cause you turned down a one night stand with Kim Basinger while we were undercover in Hollywood."
"She wasn't my type."
"She was everybody's type back in 1983 Luke!!"
"Rey is prettier than Kim Basinger, she's got a nicer smile." Somehow like magic, his cheeks feel hot.
"I'm not letting you out of this house till you promise details."
"You'll have them, I swear. Stop acting like a teenager: you're over 50."
"Says the man born in January 1st, 1919, who's blushing like a twelve year old kid."
If he were actually 23 then he'd stick his tongue out at Wedge, act like the boy he was in a different time, in a different world which perished long before Rey and Wedge and Leia were even born. At 99 years old Luke Skywalker bows his head in salute and smirks in quiet bemusement.
Truthfully he's not sure how to explain Rey to Wedge, or to anyone. She seems too wonderful to be contained by human words. If he has confine her unfeigned splendor then he'd say that Rey is truthful in a way most beings never let themselves, and compassionate in forms the logic of this cruel world dictates shouldn't be possible. After seeing so many aftereffects of those hollow enough to sell their souls, or not strong enough to maintain their humanity in lieu of the evil thrust upon them, Rey Jakku is a rainbow somehow manifested under the moonlight, paradoxical in the best capacity of the word.
He cooks her some soup on arrival. Better safe than sorry tonight when she's running a watch on the infectious disease ward. Plus he didn't like the sound of her 'it's nothing' cough yesterday. The worst thing about Rey is how little she takes care of herself. He knows she tries, or is trying now, he has no idea how she behaved before, but there's part of her which doesn't quite seem to think she's worth being fussed over. Luke has difficulty understanding how someone so wonderful can set the standards to the moon for others but claims so little for herself. 'I wonder if this is how Han and Leia think about me. If so I owe them an apology.'
Just before leaving the Skywalker Manor, he grabs the 'gift' which will grant her some measure of protection against his kind. The faithful house elf Threepio (who is a free elf but still stays under their roof out of a loyalty far greater than Luke feels he deserves) wraps it in deep velvet inside a rectangular box so it doesn't burn. Luke's about to step outside when Chewie informs that Rey's calling on his cellphone.
"Good evening, my Lady. How are you?"
Her voice sounds like it's congested by a stuffy nose. Damn it why did he have to right on this? "You know that cough I said was nothing? It turned out to be a cold. So I can't go anywhere tonight, I'm really sorry-"
"You still live in the same building, right?"
"All right: do you mind me coming over and taking care of you?"
"You didn't ask for a night of me sneezing all over you, Luke. I'm not worth the trouble." Again with the low self-importance.
"Rey: Would you like it if I took care of you?"
She stays silent for a little while. "I would like that very much, Luke."
"Then I'm on my way. Want any extra blankets? Comfort food? DVDs?"
"Just come here please."
True to his belief, the cat does lunge at him when he arrives. Chewie manages to hold the feline long enough for Luke to place a calming spell WHICH takes far longer than usual, proving the animal possesses a strong clarity of mind. 'Why couldn't she have a dog? Dogs are only harmful if they sense bad intents.'
"BB-8: where are you?" 'Ok, there's Rey.' Her voice sounds like it's coming from the left corridor. 'Is that her room? Is it even proper for me to enter her room? We're not married-'
He tells himself it won't be improper if his behavior is that of a gentleman's and walks into her (tiny) bedchambers where the desk filled with her study books takes up a quarter of the space. Rey smiles, tired and only half aware he's here, but oh so precious in her sincerity.
"Brought you some soup, tell me if you're allergic to gnocchi. Also got you some chocolate. Anything else you want?"
"Is there a vaccine for the common cold?"
"You don't want vaccines: half of them were made by incubus."
Rey laughs, thanking him for what she thinks to be a clever joke, but he’s quite serious about. She tries to shoo him away when her nose drips, but it just succeeds in making sure he stays after giving her new tissues. The next two hours fade away like this: with him trekking the steady path of her heart as he waits on her. Rey half joyous and half begrudgingly admitting she needs being tended to at the moment. It's good Rey is so independent. In his time nurses were practically slaves to the hospital at this season. She wouldn't have allowed to study at any University until after the War ended. That's one change he will never complain of.
He waits until her temperature's dropped to take the box out of his pocket. He leaves it on the kitchen and tries not to hoard self-loathing when he accidentally glimpses at his 'true' self in the bathroom mirror while searching for the socks she wanted. Mankind sees no reflection when his kind is in front of the glass tool. Vampires glimpse upon the wretched image of what they've become. Those with fae blood are also capable of seeing it, but most of the fair folk abandoned Earth after World War I and mixed breeding is frowned upon so the chances of him running into a fairy descendant are one in a million. Good, the less people who see him this way the better.
"Did you find my good socks yet?"
"Yes, I'll bring them in a minute."
The horrid sight of his true self reinforces his desire to keep Rey safe from his kind so he zooms to get the box and hides it behind his back pocket until he's helped her put on her socks. No wonder she needed them, her feet are petit sized icicles. Cute icicles, but icicles nonetheless.
He looks up at her earnestly. "Rey? I want to give you something."
Rey looks hopeful. "Is it one of those lovely lemon silk pies?"
He laughs a bit. "No, this you can't eat."
She fakes disappointment but her smell betrays the giddy anticipation as she closes her eyes when he asks it. Luke places the rectangular package in her soft yet hard-working hand and laughs when her face twists in surprise as she opens her eyes. 'No man's ever given me a gift' is written all her face as Rey tries to rip open the velvet covering as a child on Christmas morning. However, the simple joy evaporates when the contents of her gift are known.
Rey looked worried. "You said you wouldn't buy me."
'Oh Rey, I'm sorry.......' "I didn't buy this for you. It belonged to my father's wife: Padme Amidala Skywalker."
Her expression changed from apprehension to tenderness. "I'm flattered but are you sure you want to hand this to me? Maybe later you can give it to your sister or put it somewhere more adequate?"
"I can think of no better place for it than your lovely neck."
The blush he loves to see in her vibrant cheeks comes back full force. Rey brushes her fingertips against the large Faberge silver milgrain cross, feeling every one of the European rose cut diamonds in single cut as if she doubted their existence.
With shimmering eyes she asks, "Can you please put it on me?"
Every one of his instincts bid he avoid touching the object. "Of course."
His right hand gets slightly burnt when he touches the artifact but it doesn't matter to him. If the silver can hurt him then it, tied with the crucifix will do far worse to those of his kind less inclined to benignity towards humans. Luke is content with his decision. The darker part of his nature forces him to meditate in order to prevent hurting Rey. At around 11:45 pm, her friend Finn comes back with a bowl of flowers and a soup recipe from Maz. When Rey tells him Luke spent all that time with her the Vampire senses he's grown more open to his courting. Thank Goodness, he's got enough problems to cause him worry.
"I think I'll be leaving now you're in good hands."
"You could stay unless it has to do with your 'big secret'?"
"When you tell it, make sure it's at a decent hour, sans the boogie monsters."
He kisses her forehead just before heading home. She watches him, not sure of what to make of the person before her, but damn sure that she's not letting go. That makes two of us.
Hands out tin cup: comments please???
Chapter 14: Protective measures
Happy 4th of July everyone!!! Here's a chapter to celebrate.
Bedford-Stuyvesant (aka Bed-Stuy), New York, January 25, 8:30 am. (Jyn's POV)
Apart from the encounter with Pryce, Holdo's statement of low Vampiric activity have proven true. That's as far as the grape jelly haired woman being right goes. The hellish creatures in New York are not subdued, they're waiting to strike and pissed at whomever stopped them from doing so before.
Guardian Erso gives a quick kiss to her kyber necklace, hoping the family heirloom grants her some luck in this endeavor as she prepares herself to interrogate customer 147 of the list Krennic got from the Pava woman's files. According to Orson, the monster bookshop owner had been surprisingly well protected for a civilian. She'd built her doors with Rowan to ward off dark witchcraft, placed holy water under her desk and kept a stash of silver dust to form a protective circle in case of a lycan attack. The fact she knew enough to warn Father Dameron, a fact she only knows cause of a bystander who heard their conversation, was impressive as well. Jyn has considered recruiting the girl as an agent once this affair is done. The Vatican could use young people willing to protect and see beyond the official story.
Kaytoo crosses customer 146, named Kyp Durron off the list with an angry scratch of the pen which indicates he's frustrated at the lack of progress after scouring half the state. Most of Pava's usuals are just bored hipster teens in search of a good read or overgrown emos who need an outlet for their 'angst'. While Jyn can understand some of these young people actually use this neo-gothic theme to overcome serious issues, she fails to see how you can complain about parents 'oppressing' by insisting to drive them to school and check up on their schoolwork. She'd have given anything for her mother to still be around and ask about her grades. Poor mother who talked to her as if there was no doubt she'd witness her daughter's graduation and wedding and growing up, only to be denied all of these things.
Doctor Kaytoo notices someting and frowns. "Are you all right, Jyn? Your crystal's gone yellow."
"I'm fine, it just does that whenever I remember something sad."
"Is it a chemical reaction caused by your endorphins lowering? Or is it due to the crystal having bonded with you magically somehow? Statistically speaking, would it be possible to-"
Jyn sighs. "Oh God, you just can't scienceing for a moment can you?"
"I could if I wanted, but that's no fun."
She shakes her head in false exasperation at the Mortician, secretly relived at his odd form of alleviating grief. It's sits better than all the hollow 'sorry for your loss' cards she and Papa got at Mother's funeral. Her mood is almost cheerful as she knocks on the door. The face whixh greets her is avoiding the bright sunshine as he opens to responds, a tall frame with oval shaped patches on his arm frowns.
Jyn keeps her face neutral. "Hello, is this the home of Kylo Ren?"
The man sneers, "Piss off lady: I ain't buying shit from you."
Before Jyn can show the rude young man her badge, Kaytoo pushes the door open. The youth who may or may not be Kylo Ren whines (inaccurately) they've broken his nose. 'I swear, how did New York standards go from Babe Ruth to this emo wimp?'
"You and your friend better have a warrant, otherwise I'm going to sue you all."
It takes every ounce of willpower for Jyn not to roll her eyes as she hands him the search warrant signed by NYPD, her badge and Kaytoo's permission slip to perform interrogation. The man who has now identified himself as Kylo Ren decides to comply after Kaytoo plays 'bad cop' and cracks a handful of nuts in front of him. Boys, always so dramatic.
Kaytoo goes off with Ren to conduct the interrogation while Jyn 'looks around' the house. All the windows are sealed shut, some by nailed wooden tables and others by layers and layers of black paint. Far more promising evidence than what was found from all of the last suspects put together. Quietly, Jyn walks from the hallways to the rooms. Her first try is a bust, apart from the sealed windows and bookshelf stacked with dark fantasy nothing is out of the ordinary. Kylo's bathroom contains a potent pain-killer pills used for patients with degenerative skin diseases but again nothing out of place, the living room has prescript medicinal creams along with Great War books and a pet snake kept under a lightbulb. She's about to label him a constantly ill man refuging himself in literature until she enters his bedroom.
His chosen chambers for sleep have no bed, only a long wooden box that's obviously imitating a coffin. The coffin is the most jarring detail but the only trace of vampiric interest. Kylo's room has a wall length board with newspaper reports, photographs and magazines all hinting to Nosferatu involvement. Jyn may not have found an actual creature of the night, but it's clear that this misguided fellow desperately wants to become one, probably to stop his disease from taking full course. Determined to use Kylo's obsession to her advantage, Jyn sits on his desk and starts going through his files, a file labeled Skywalker/Vader catches her attention, reminding the guardian of Pryce's words.
Jyn cracked her knuckles and got down to business. "All right Skywalker, show me what your role in this game is."
The first articles are all rubbish, gossip spread for a moment's entertainment, not surprising, seeing as they came from the same people who would eventually host that 'mythbuster' show the Guardians watch to laugh at everything they get wrong per episode. However once Jyn reaches the sections separated by wars, truth leaks in through the cracks of her suspect's fixation, making it all the more dangerous. Somehow Kylo correctly ascertained Vader was behind the Jedi Order's Massacre. Even worse he knew enough to call the Jedi by name. The WWI files have her mentally preparing his trip to the psych ward (which he needs anyway) when she hears unexpected footsteps and someone being dragged.
Apparently Kaytoo is the one whom Kylo is dragging against. Jyn wonders if the doctor can receive a medal for tolerating the obnoxiously rude man so long as she discreetly places the WWII, Korea and 80s Iraq wars sections in her purse. She's just placed some tapes next to the documents inside her purse when Kylo breaks free of Kaytoo's grasp.
"What do you think you're doing with my stuff, lady?"
Jyn looks at him like she's challenging him to argue with her. "This is evidence for the investigation we're conducting, I assure you, it will be returned to you when it's done."
His voice grows steadily more aggressive in nature. "Like hell am I gonna let you take me away my only chance at surviving to thirty. Those files are a part of my destiny-"
She takes a large step back to avoid the now unconscious man falling onto her. "Kaytoo, did you have to knock him on the head?!?"
Kaytoo shrugs. "I'm sorry, Jyn. He was too annoying."
Brooklyn Hospital, 9pm, January 26 (Rey's POV)
The young nurse keeps holding the baby whose mother and sole living relative died in childbirth as he sleeps after receiving his bottle. Rey knows she's going to get in trouble for it when, not if, they find her. But once she heard social services were coming for the sweet little bundle in her arms, she had to do something. It would be cruel to let him live under the control of those who cared nothing for Finn or her growing up. Rey didn't believe the crap said to her by Mister Calrissian about 'our tiny patient' having its best chance for a loving family, if anything it only proved Lando had no idea what the foster system operates. For every lucky child who's adopted into a welcoming home, ten hundred go to foster homes or orphanages until they age out with pent up trauma which causes them to either keep everyone out or lash at the world that failed them.
She doesn't know any lullabies, and all the English rhymes are creepy once you know the meaning. Besides if anyone finds her hiding in the bathrooms currently under remodeling they'll take him away for good. They would have snatched them up already if the guards hadn't started taking account of all the tapes cause some lunatic stole them a week ago, then replaced them so perfectly they only noticed now.
Rey's heart nearly stops twelve to thirteen times when she hears people talking near their direction. Every saint or deity she can recall is mentally beseeched to keep the little one peacefully asleep during those occasions. 'Please let the next person's voice I hear be Finn, he'd help me smuggle him out.' The system wouldn't place him as a priority even if he's white, not when there's other children with parents missing. Finally, the corridor is empty of footsteps. Rey checks her clock: nine thirty, which leaves her with three hours and fourteen minutes to get out of the hospital before they switch the cameras back on. She empties her backpack and cuts off a piece of it so it doesn't hurt the boy, maybe if she sells her good earrings next week she can have a better one.
The young woman fixes the maid's cart they'd left there and sits on it, wobbling it several times to make sure it won't fall apart and hurt him. She tightens the bolts anyway for good measure and hides her little treasure inside the open backpack which is strategically placed with some towels Rey pretends to be taking towards the cleaning room. He coos when picked up, it makes her smile widely.
By some miracle, she makes it unnoticed to the exit. A fake sneeze convinced the only co-worker who took the time to inquire about Rey it was best she go home. Seems like all those not-taken sick days are good for something after all. She's dialing Luke's phone number when a tall, mysterious stranger comes her way. Rey takes a quick look for safe-keeping and carries the baby off in her arms, walking a bit faster to avoid catching this or any unknown person's attention for the moment. The man follows them. Rey's mind summons the tombstones.
Rey does her best not to fidget or quiver in fear as the stranger makes its way to her and the baby. If his subsequent wail is anything to go by, she fails miserably in this endeavor. The night's frantic events must be muddling her brain cause Rey swears the man's odd smile has unnaturally long fangs.
"So what's a pretty girl like you doing in a place like this?"
'Try not to show fear, the baby needs you to be brave.' "My son and I were just leaving our checkup. I work here so that gives me a discount."
The odd man continues to stare at them like a child admiring trays of baked goods. "You don't smell anything like the boy. Why are you pretending to be a mother? Is it cause of the money? I can give you a wealth mere mortals eternally spend a lifetime praying for."
Rey clenches her jaw. "I'm quite happy with my current accommodations. Now if you excuse me I have another call I need to make."
His stopping her from leaving almost causes her to drop the treasure she's trying to save from Hell. "Hey hold on, girlie. Who do you think you are?!?"
The man tries to hold her by strangling her with Luke's gifted crucifix, but his hands start to burn for no apparent reason. The burns are deep as a sword gash, angry red slashes that look like an angel of vengeance sliced his palms in punishment and help them escape. Still, the momentary lack of oxygen makes it harder for her to take the advantage.
As Rey crawls away with the baby who's crying loudly for all to hear, she sees a grey shadow of sorts knock her agressor to the ground. She closes her eyes and tries to keep crawling away as the roles switch and now it's the stranger whose eyes widen in fear over something called 'Magus Princeps Vampir'. Rey hears him run but is still too frightened to open her eyes.
"Rey: are you all right?"
Hearing Luke's voice is like a lungful of fresh air and she breathes it in deeply. "Luke."
She feels his hands touch her arms gently. "Do you mind opening your eyes so I can help you both up?"
Slowly, she nods in agreement. If Luke's voice was a lungful of fresh air, the sight of him is the Amazon rainforest.
Rey's hazel irises expose themselves just in time to witness Luke taking the baby in his arms, watching the child with an expert grasp befitting a parent or long-time babysitter. The child squirms, as if afraid Luke will bring harm (definitely product of the transpired events, it's ridiculous to think Luke can or would hurt a baby) but then he whispers into the infant's ears. Whatever Luke says makes the child go from fidgeting to playing with his lovely blond ringlets.
He playfully raises an eyebrow at her. "So, Rey? When did you get a baby?"
She nearly broke down into tears. "He's not mine. Please, Luke. You have to help me take him somewhere safe. They were going to put him with foster parents. You and I both know what happens in those homes. Help me spare another child my fate."
Luke nods, agrees to it so easily. "If you don't mind, Wedge can take him for a few days until we find a permanent home."
And that's how Rey gets introduced to the elder gentleman known as Colonel Wedge Antilles, who mutters something about still choosing Kim Basinger when Luke presents her to his friend. It's a peculiar thing for sure, but Rey heeds no thought to it. The oddness of his first words are made up tenfold with how gently he treats her little gem. Plus he feels all warm and gooey, like a hot chocolate with caramel. It's been a long time since Rey had an image like that, but she remembers the people with that kind of reception were always trustworthy, so it's quite easy to relax around the older man. Eventually her growling stomach prods Colonel Antilles into asking if they've eaten to which Luke replies he'll do so later and Rey asks if eating now is possible. The Colonel's grin at how she and Luke talked at the same time causes Rey to think he's endeared by the action.
Mister Antilles grants her full access to the fridge, which Rey agrees to once shown where the baby will be sleeping: a cradle currently placed in the guest room for Jacen's daughter. After he's put to bed Wedge's wife, a nice older woman Iella, shoos them off and tells them to get some rest as Wedge walks out of the guest room. The older gentleman frowns at the sight of Luke's gloved palms. Come to think of it, Rey's never seen her boyfriend wear any sort of hand covering. So far he was unaffected by the lingering chill of January, the other nurses who tend to Mrs. Solo nicknamed him 'polar bear' for a reason. Curiosity piqued, she gingerly touches the outline of his hand, partly to see if he's cold and partly because she loves the sensation of his skin against hers in an innocent fashion. To her immense surprise Luke winces at the brief contact.
She doesn't let him go. "Luke, what happened to you hand?"
He looks like he wants to pull his hand away, but doesn't. "Oh, it's nothing."
Rey lets out one of those huffs. "Then I'm sure you won't mind if I have a quick look?"
The look he casts her way speaks just how he dislikes the idea but also reveals his will to cooperate. 'Huh, my tough nursing voice must be better than I thought.'
As delicately as possible, Rey takes off the leather accessories hiding whatever injury he's sustained. She's met with angry red slashes, a paradoxical combination greeting her gaze: an untreated third degree dry burn extends into the subcutaneous tissue but instead of surrounding second degree charred skin, the flesh circling the wound bears more resemblance to a stab wound. Rey doesn't know what to make of it so she focuses on cleaning the wound, mentally berating her boyfriend for the sheer stupidity of letting this go untreated so long. If she were less inclined to control her temper, she'd hit him on the head to knock some sense into those beautiful golden locks.
Her voice rises a few octaves. "You call this nothing?"
Luke shrugged it off. "I've had worse, and the price was minuscule compared to what I gained."
Rey raised an eyebrow, while fixing Luke with a stern look. "I'd like to see the prize which makes men talk that way."
"Your safety is not a prize for me, Rey."
She's unable to stop herself from beaming a tiny smile at the dedication he has to her, even if it lacks sense from time to time. Luke turns to be a dismally sweet patient who keeps trying to downplay how much his laceration/burn wound hurts as she bandages each hand. How on Earth did the man wear gloves all day without hissing in pain every five seconds? And how are those gloves not bled all over by now? Once she's finished her task, Rey goes to put the first aid back to the bathroom she found it in, a small hand mirror covered in shiny rhinestones catches her attention so she carries it down to help brushing her hair. She forbids Luke from helping her with the task since the last thing he needs is added pressure on those limbs and twirls the mirror around as a whimsical response to his eagerness. Her mind must be playing tricks on her cause the seconds-short glimpse she got of Luke's eyes in the cheval glass were red, not the pallid blue she's memorized.
Confused she places the cheval glass downwards, Luke picks it up, sees himself and starts trying to say something after watching his reflection. "Rey?"
She doesn't seem to notice his false starts. "Yes darling?"
His expression is sad. "I have something which must be confessed: a fault which I will not ask you to tolerate should that be your decision."
'Okay, perhaps now I get to hear the secret he hoards so carefully. If so I hope he realizes it won't change how I feel about him.' She walks over to him and begins tracing her right hand comfortingly over the outline of his face. "Luke Skywalker: you stop that negativity right now. If you can accept me smuggling a baby out of a hospital, then I can accept whatever it is you need to tell me."
He lovingly retracts her hand from his countenance, responding to question in her eyes with naught save a chuckle, one step away from crying. It seems to Rey he's immortalizing the memory of her, already expecting the worst case scenario. Luke presses a kiss to her forehead, bright and warm and gentle, before leaning close to her ear to whisper.
"Rey: I'm not human, I'm Nosferatu."
She breaks from his semi-embrace and just stares at the man she loves. 'Oh God, this is how he coped with the fact his mother didn't want him but proudly raised all his siblings. Luke convinced himself he was inferior to them, going as far as thinking he's less than human.' A coping mechanism, not much different from Rey's childhood fixation of trying not to be moved around too so much so her biological parents would find her. She never complained in the worst foster homes so they wouldn't move her. There's a chance Luke might not complain to his family so they don't 'realize how inferior he is'. 'Oh Luke...'
His eyes are downcast "You don't believe me. You think I'm crazy."
She turns her voice softer "Luke, it's not that simple."
Luke sighs. "Then simplify it for me. Tell me what you understood so that I can explain."
Rey echoes him. "I think you've responded to a very difficult situation by hating yourself to avoid hating others. But you need to realize it wasn't your fault Leia left you and there's nothing with you-"
"My whole existence is wrong Rey!!...I'm a creature of Hell, every step I take is a potential insult to the scales of Divine Justice. I've tried to make this curse useful, own my soul and use it against the dark, but at times I doubt it makes any difference. The 'difficult situation' as you put it, is that I don't deserve you, I'll never deserve you but I gravitate towards you nonetheless because I love you more in a way I've never loved anyone."
She tries to kiss him but he doesn't let her, caught in a wave of self-loathing which befits an old man more than his 23-year old frame. No shock there, people with harsh experiences often feel older than their bodies.
Disappointed, Rey asks, "So, I'll see you tomorrow to check up on the baby?"
He nods, a quiet but certain tilt of the head. No words are spoken, but he hands her a handkerchief which comes in handy once she cries in the taxi back seat. BB-8 snuggles with Rey as they drift into a thankfully dreamless sleep.
Hands out tin cup: comments please???