Taz had just settled into the dark holo room for the start of a ten hour shift when the door slid open. He was both surprised and pleased to recognize DN-3351. They hadn’t seen much of each other in the two days since Jakku. There hadn’t been time to talk. From a small nod they’d exchanged in the corridor, he knew that Dan had managed to slip the data chip to Kylo Ren, and Dan was obviously not dead, so it seemed things had gone as well as they could have hoped.
He smiled as he paused the dormitory security holo he’d just loaded. “I thought you were supposed to be in training right now.”
Dan didn’t remove his helmet. “I was. I just received a priority order.” His voice was tight.
“To do what?”
“To report here.”
Taz’s heart skipped a beat, then began pounding so loudly he could hear it. “From whom.”
“Who do you think?” Dan didn’t approach him, didn’t alter from his rigid ready stance.
Taz had a dozen questions on the tip of his tongue. How did it go? What did he say? Did anyone else see? Why here? But before he had a chance to ask any of them, the door opened again and Kylo Ren stalked into the room.
The door slid closed, sealing the three of them in. Taz stood up - he thought he should be standing for this - and looked up at the face of the Supreme Leader.
Kylo Ren appeared to be just a bit older than he or Dan. He was handsome but not in a conventional way, and his face was marked by a prominent scar that ran from above his right eye down over his cheekbone. His intense dark eyes were focused solely on him, though Taz had no doubt he was monitoring Dan just as carefully.
Training kicked in, and he bowed his head respectfully. “Supreme Leader.”
“Simon Taznayan.” And then, turning slightly, “DN-3351. Remove your helmet.”
“Yes, sir.” The stormtrooper pulled off his helmet and tucked it under his arm. His face was flushed, Taz saw, perhaps from hurrying to get here. A muscle worked in his jaw as Dan kept his back straight, his feet set apart. He glanced at Taz and their eyes locked, just for a second, long enough for Taz to see the emotion there. I’m sorry, he seemed to say.
Taz knew there was no way for them to fight their way out of this, nowhere to run if they did. If this is how it ends for us, he thought with bleak resignation, at least we’re together.
Kylo Ren was watching their interaction, and Taz had the distinctly uncomfortable feeling that the Supreme Leader could sense more than what he and Dan outwardly expressed.
Finally Kylo Ren sighed, the sound surprisingly genuine, and his shoulders relaxed slightly. “What do you want?”
Taz couldn’t help it; he glanced again at Dan. But the stormtrooper looked as puzzled as he felt. “Sir?”
“What do you want?” Kylo Ren repeated, enunciating each word carefully.
“I… I’m sorry, sir, I don’t underst-”
“For the information on the datachip. For your silence.” Kylo Ren’s voice was hard, his expression irritated. “What is your motivation for doing this. What do you want.”
Taz couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Was Kylo Ren serious? He was, Taz saw, and would know if his queries were met with anything other than total honesty.
What was the honest answer? At this point… “We want not to be executed, sir.”
Dan’s expression didn’t change, but Taz heard him draw a long, controlled breath.
Kylo Ren stared at him incredulously for a long moment, then a bemused smirk turned up a corner of his lip. He looked, Taz thought, like a man unaccustomed to smiling. But when he spoke again, his tone held no humor. “As DN-3351 can attest, I could search your minds for whatever I need.” A small hesitation. “But I sense that you’re telling me the truth. That what I saw in DN-3351’s mind on Jakku was the complete picture.”
Dan shot Taz a guilty look.
“You disobeyed established protocol,” Kylo Ren went on, glancing from Taz’s work station back to his face. “You are both derelict in your duties.”
Taz’s mouth went dry. He hoped Dan wouldn’t try a last ditch effort to save them here. Kylo Ren could kill them both before Dan could even draw his blaster. He’d rather die with some amount of dignity.
“I’m not going to execute you,” Kylo Ren said softly, those intense eyes again seeing too much. “You broke protocol, yes. But doing so took a great amount of courage, even selflessness. You risked yourselves and each other. Out of loyalty, and out of a desire to secure what’s best for the First Order.”
Taz willed his wobbling legs not to give out. He felt dizzy. Dan was looking at him with wide eyes.
“So I’ll ask you again,” Kylo Ren continued. “What do you want?”
“We want to have time together,” Dan said finally, rushing out the words as though trying to speak before that courage failed him. “We want to be together without fear of punishment.”
Kylo Ren blinked. “That’s all?”
That’s all? Thought Taz. That’s everything. That’s the impossible dream.
“Yes, sir,” is all he said.
Kylo Ren looked at them both for a moment longer, then without another word he turned and strode from the room. Taz watched the door close and then very slowly sank down into his chair. His body was trembling, coming down ever so slowly from the adrenaline that had been coursing through him.
Even Dan, whose stormtrooper training made for steadier nerves, was pale; and he slumped against the console behind him. “What just happened?” he murmured on an exhale.
Taz studied his lover’s face and felt the brush of a rare feeling. Hope. He whispered back, “We made the right decision, Dan. That’s what happened.”