As the twin suns rose on Tattooine, you sighed. Another mundane day. Nothing exciting ever happened on Tattooine. Not since the end of the war six years ago. Mos Pelgo was the epitome of boring to begin with, but after the war was won by the Rebel Alliance, things had become even more dreary.
It was lonely, living out here by yourself. Your family had been killed by imperial soldiers, leaving you by yourself. At least the marshal Cobb Vanth was kind and fair, he tried to keep the peace, despite the rumblings and the Tusken Raiders. The armour he wore intrigued you. It was Mandalorian armour, though a Mandalorian he was not. You knew whose armour that belonged to before Cobb had traded for it with the Jawas. It had been Boba Fett’s. Boba was once touted to be the greatest bounty hunter in the galaxy. After he had fallen to his death six years ago in a Sarlaac pit over in Mos Eisley during a skirmish with Rebel pilot Han Solo, who’d once been a quarry of Fett’s, rumblings of another Mandalorian bounty hunter had begun to emerge.
You vaguely remembered hearing about a rogue Mandalorian bounty hunter arriving on Tattooine about six months ago, wondering if it was him. It had been reported that he had a peculiar child in tow, that the child was why he had gone rogue in the first place. You had always wanted to meet a real Mandalorian. You’d met Boba Fett a number of times, but he frightened you. And while hardly anyone survived a fall into a Sarlaac pit, you had the strangest feeling that Fett wasn’t really dead.
As you made your way to the cantina, not the career your mother had foreseen her only daughter ever having, you heard a speeder bike in the distance. While nothing uncommon on Tattooine, one of the few modes of speedy transportation, the sound of the speeder bike filled you with a hope that you could not quite place.
As you greeted your co-worker, you wondered, as you always did, why the cantina needed two bartenders. Your male co-worker seemed to be able to hold down the fort just fine without you for backup. You liked your co-worker: he was no-nonsense, but easy-going.
You had just settled into your shift when you heard the tell-tale sound of Mandalorian boots. Strange, you frowned. Vanth didn’t usually arrive at this hour.
“Morning, Cobb,” you greeted, not looking up from the glasses you were cleaning.
The voice you were met with was not Cobb’s. “Good morning.” You looked up.
Instead of dingy, worn down armour, this Mandalorian had a suit of armour that was high-quality, full beskar steel, you thought. What looked to be a mudhorn decorated his left pauldron. Behind him, a small green child stood. Your heart melted at the sight of the little one, and stuttered at the sight of the Mandalorian standing before you.
“Hi,” you said stupidly, forgetting that you had already greeted him. “Can I help you with something?” you managed to get out.
“I’m looking for a Mandalorian.”
The Mandalorian seemed to be inspecting you, paying no mind to your co-worker, who piped up, “We don’t get many visitors in these parts. Can you describe him?”
“Someone who looks like me,” was the Mandalorian’s reply. Damn, he sounded so confident.
“Oh, you mean Cobb Vanth? Our marshal?” asked your co-worker.
“Your marshal wears Mandalorian armour?” asked the Mandalorian who stood before you.
“See for yourself,” said your co-worker as Cobb Vanth walked in, going back to his task. You couldn’t help but watch.
Cobb greeted you by name, wishing you a good morning. You offered him a weak smile as he asked for a flagon of spotchka. Knowing a little about Mandalorian culture, you knew that the Mando who you had just met would not be able to partake. You brought two glasses anyhow. Maybe this Mandalorian would surprise you.
You offered a genuine smile to the Mandalorian as you delivered the drinks to the table he had taken with Vanth. You wondered, as you hadn’t wondered with Cobb, if Mando had offered a smile in return to you. He certainly kept his helmeted gaze on you for a long moment before Cobb cleared his throat.
Pulling your gaze from him, you let the Mandalorian and the marshal know that if they needed anything, just ask. Keeping an eye on the baby that was entertaining himself with a little pot on the floor, you busied yourself, not really paying attention to what they were saying. A couple of modulated words filtered through your ears and you found yourself wondering what his voice sounded like without the modulator.
For Maker’s sake! you chided yourself, you’re lonely, but you’re not that lonely, are you?
* * *
Din Djarin’s gaze landed on you as he spoke to the Marshal who wore the stolen armour. It should belong with his own people, not worn by some imposter who wanted to appear tough. You looked sad, he thought. He recognized it because it was the same loneliness that met him every time he glanced in a mirror when his helmet was off.
You were kind and considerate and lovely, Din thought as you wiped down a glass mug. He noticed how you kept an eye on the kid, who was enjoying himself, playing with the decorative vase. The look in your eye was a tender one - you were clearly enamoured with the kid. You stifled a giggle as the baby attempted to take a bite of it.
Just then the entire ground shook and rumbled. A panicked look crossed your face, one that screamed, no, not again.
From the looks on both your and Vanth’s faces, whatever it was that had caused the earthquake, seemed to be a common occurrence.
“The dragon,” explained Cobb. Mando seemed incredulous. “I tell you what, you help me kill that thing, and in return, I’ll give you my armour.”
From the corner of his eye, Din could see your eyes widen.
“Simple. I’ll take the Crest and shoot it from above,” said Mando, noticing the way you sharpened at that, your breath hitching at his confidence.
“It’s not that simple,” you said, trying to keep your voice even. “It only has one weak spot.”
Of course it does, thought Din, noticing for the first time how his kid had hidden in that urn on the floor.
He turned back to Cobb. “Take me to it,” he said.
You, your co-worker and Vanth shared a look.
“All right,” said Cobb.
Mando turned to you, next. “And you, mesh’la. Come with us, too. We may need backup.”
You had no idea what mesh’la meant, but it made you feel warm, whatever the word was. “Are you sure? Wouldn’t -”
The Mandalorian cut you off. “Yes, I’m sure.”
Giving Cobb an inquisitory glance, he nodded. “All right, so long as it’s fine with you?” you addressed your co-worker.
“Kid, this Mando and Cobb are probably going to be our only customers for the next several hours. I think I’ll be okay.” He had a point.
You nodded, facing Mando in the visor, where you thought his eyes would be beneath the helmet. “All right.”
The Mandalorian had a speeder bike, Cobb had a speeder. You had nothing.
“Hop on,” said the Mandalorian.
Flummoxed, you said, “Are you -?”
“Mesh’la, I wouldn’t tell you to if I wasn’t sure.” Though his voice was resolute, it was not unkind. You found you rather liked it.
Getting on behind him, you gingerly grabbed ahold of his waist, his cape getting in the way slightly. Your hands landed on his tunic, just above his utility belt. He was warm and smelled faintly of blaster residue. The pulse rifle he carried on his back was tucked away safely, along with his child.
Trying to be as subtle as possible, you leaned yourself against the Mandalorian’s back, getting as comfortable as possible on a speeder bike made for one.
Din didn’t mind.
* * *
Mercifully, it wasn’t a long ride. You were stopped by Tusken Raiders. As the three of you disembarked from the speeders, you were shocked to discover that the Mandalorian could speak Tusken. You supposed that he had picked it up on his many journeys to different worlds and the different Rims. What other languages could he speak? you wondered.
Speaking shaky Tusken yourself, you helped translate. The Tuskens were also tired of the krayt dragon, a “leviathan” as the marshal kept referring to it; you couldn’t think of a more apt description.
As discussions continued, you sat next to Mando, continuing to translate as he spoke with the Raiders.
It turned out that they were as tired as the rest of the village about the feud that had gone on between them and you. Though you had never had any real trouble with the Tuskens, it was frustrating how long this strife had been going on, and it was getting petty.
As you walked towards the krayt dragon’s lair, you fell into step next to the Mandalorian.
“What’s someone like you doing in Mos Pelgo?” the Mandalorian asked.
You shrugged. “I was born in Mos Eisley, but after my parents … after the Rebels had claimed their victory, I relocated here.”
Mando nodded in commismeration. He, too, knew what it was like to lose family. “I’m sorry,” he said genuinely, “for your loss.”
Smiling sadly at the bounty hunter, you carried on. “I just figured it would be easier to relocate here, away from all the chaos that had reigned supreme with the Hutts and the Empire.”
Din could understand that, too.
“What about you?” you asked, gesturing to the child that was still strapped securely in the carrier bag, “how does a Mandalorian end up with a creature like that?”
The Mandalorian paused, wondering how quickly word spread about his break from the Guild. His need to keep his adoptive son safe. “It’s a long story,” he said simply. “I am trying to find his people. I need the remaining Mandalorians’ help me find a pathway to them.”
You looked back at the baby again. “And who are his people?” you asked, hoping that you weren’t overstepping any bounds. You didn’t really know this man, and yet, you felt more at ease with him than you had ever felt with anyone else.
“A race of sorcerers called Jedi,” explained the Mandalorian. “They can move objects with their minds.”
Something clicked in your mind, just then. “You mean like Luke Skywalker?” you asked.
“Luke Skywalker? I’ve not heard that name before.” The Mandalorian was intrigued.
Finally, something you knew with confidence. “Luke was my neighbour back in Mos Eisley. He’s not that much older than I am. He’s a Jedi. He trained under Ben Kenobi. Rumour has it, he and his sister General Leia Organa are the children of Darth Vader.” You rambled on.
“Where is he, now? Do you know?” Mando asked, almost desperately. Maybe this Luke Skywalker could help him.
“I don’t know, I’m sorry. It’s been six years since the end of the war, and I didn’t really see him all that much before then. He was a leading player in the Rebellion.”
Din wondered faintly if Cara knew of a Luke Skywalker.
Smiling at Mando, you said, “He was nice. Luke. A bit odd, but nice all the same.”
Having arrived at the former Sarlaac pit, you, Cobb, Mando, and the Tuskens tried to figure out a plan, if there was a way to kill this beast once and for all.
You were slightly taken aback when Mando volunteered the village without consulting anyone else, but you and Cobb both agreed that it was the most logical conclusion. It was the only feasible way that the dragon could be defeated.
* * *
You slept next to the Mandalorian that night, the three of you deciding that, with the hatchet buried between your people and the Tusken Raiders, it would be safe for you to sleep out here.
Glancing up at the stars, you were slightly startled when the Mandalorian took your hand in his. “I don’t … get to do this very often,” he said as Vanth snored softly a few feet away.
“Hold hands with someone?” you teased quietly.
What sounded to be a chuckle escaped the modulator. “Well, that too. But I meant star-gazing. I don’t really have an opportunity to.” The baby let out a quiet snore as he shuffled in the Mandalorian’s secure hold.
This surprised you. “Really? All the many planets and worlds you see and you don’t look up at the stars?” you asked quietly.
The Mandalorian shrugged. “I don’t really have the time to, looking for bounties, or taking care of the kid,” he said.
“Are you … are you the Mandalorian that was here a few months back?” you asked. “The one that broke with the guild because of the baby?”
If it was prying, the Mandalorian didn’t respond to it that way. “Yes,” he said simply. There was more to that story, you knew it. But you wouldn’t pry any longer. “As I said earlier, it is a long, complicated story.” You nodded, missing his gloved hand as he pulled it back to stroke the child’s ear.
“We should sleep,” you said. “We have an eventful day ahead of us tomorrow.”
The Mandalorian grunted sleepily, half a snore as he spoke. “Mmm-hmm. Rest, cyar’ika.”
Another word you didn’t recognize.
As you drifted into a dreamless sleep, you thought that you wanted to get to know this Mandalorian better. He was a man of duality. He had a ruthless side, which appeared to you to be mostly for show, an intimidation so that people might take him seriously. But he also had a compassionate side, the side you thought was the true Mandalorian. You thought back to the way he had greeted the Tusken Raiders and their pets, with kindness and grace, teaching the marshal about the history of the people who had for so long had strife with Cobb’s with patience. From what you had gathered in the little time that you spent with this man, he seemed to be a compassionate man, a man that you longed to get to know.
* * *
The four of you, plus a group of the Raiders, left just before dawn. It didn’t take long to get back to the village.
Mando let you drive the speeder bike this time, his gloved hands resting firmly against your hips as you drove, very nearly distracting you. The baby cooed with delight as you swerved a womp rat.
After you arrived at the village, you stood with Mando and Cobb as they addressed the rest of the villagers who had gathered to hear what they had to say. They were afraid, and reacted poorly to the Tuskens’ presence.
Unsurprisingly, both Mando and Cobb explained that enough was enough. It was time to move past this rivalry. Most of the townspeople seemed to agree, albeit reluctantly.
As you walked to the side as the entire village made the trek to the monster’s pit, the Mandalorian came up to you, a blaster in tow. “Do you know how to use one of these?” he asked.
Nodding, you said, “Yeah. I live on Tattooine, I kind of have to.”
Mando nodded at you. “You’re clear on the plan?”
Taking the blaster from him, you looked him right in the helmet. “Yes.”
You were nervous. Din couldn’t blame you. He was nervous, too, though he would not admit it. It would be silly not to be nervous. Reassuringly, he said, “This is going to work,” laying a gentle hand on your shoulder.
It did work. Eventually.
You couldn’t hear what Mando had to say to Cobb, but when he walked past you towards the Bantha carrying the explosives, a pit formed in your stomach that had nothing to do with the stench of the dragon’s vomit that it had sprayed on most everyone.
Giving you one final glance, Mando bounded for the beast, your heart dropping to your stomach.
A moment passed. Two.
Then suddenly, there was a large explosion as the Mandalorian flew free from the dragon.
It was dead. Mos Pelgo was no longer threatened. The Tuskens were satisfied. The Mandalorian was safe.
As the rest of the villagers disposed of the monster’s body, you shyly walked up to Mando, a damp rag in your clutch.
“You have … dragon gunk all over you,” you said, gesturing to his helmet and armour.
Tentatively, you wiped the beskar clean of the green stuff, leaving it sparkling clean.
“Thank you,” said the Mandalorian.
Cobb stepped up then, noticing that Mando was making to leave for his ship back in Mos Eisley. “Thank you for helping us. True to my word, here is the armour. It belongs with your people.”
The two men shook hands. “I hope we meet again,” said Mando. Vanth nodded in agreement and left the two of you - and the baby, who was safely tucked into the carrier bag - to say goodbye.
“Thank you for all your help,” said Mando.
You didn’t know what to say other than, “I’ll miss you.” You reached out and grabbed his gloved hand in your own hand, giving it a squeeze before making to go back to the cantina.
As you were just about to pull free of his grip, Mando said, “Come with me.”
Were you hearing this right?
“Really?” you asked.
Mando nodded. “I could use a crew member of your skill on the ship, plus the kid likes you.”
Heart hammering in your chest, you nodded wordlessly.
“Yeah?” asked the Mandalorian.
Nodding again, you said, “Yes, Mando. I will come with you.”
Grabbing your pack, you said a quick goodbye to the Marshal and the members of the village that you had gotten along with before slipping onto the back of the speeder bike behind Mando, wrapping your arms around his waist securely.
He kicked the bike to life and off you went.
* * *
It was a memory you had often, how you and your husband met. You thought about it sometimes as you drifted into sleep with him or when you kissed him good morning or good night.
Both you and Din knew that it was love relatively soon after he had asked you to join him on the Razor Crest.
While it had taken some getting used to, not being able to see the man who you loved’s face until you did the riduur ceremony a year later, you had foud loopholes to the creed. Din hadn’t minded, knowing that one day you would be his wife.
“What are you thinking about, ner kar’ta?” he asked you one night in bed as you smiled sleepily against his neck, your body draped across his.
“How we met,” you said.
Din smiled, kissing your forehead as he stroked your bare back with gloveless hands. “One of my favourite memories, my love.”