Din was utterly freezing. Maybe he was still on that damn planet with the giant spiders. He’d hit his head pretty hard when they crashed. It was possible that he’d just slipped off into a coma and froze to the dashboard of the Crest. Except there was a horrendous pain in his stomach that was making him feel nauseous and shaky and short of breath. There was low, garbled talking floating around him and someone was grabbing his gloveless hand. Normally he didn’t appreciate being touched but even his fingers felt like ice and the hand holding his was so warm.
“You awake, Din?”
“You managed to get a name out of him?”
“Hush, Woves. Din! Are you with us?”
It was Bo-Katan’s voice again, prodding and imploring him to wake up. It felt like maybe they’d already had this conversation before. He really felt like telling her to shut up so he could finish freezing to death but he peeled his eyes open to see what the fuss was about. Bo-Katan was sitting on the edge of the cot looking worriedly at him. Woves was standing behind her. Even his stern face held something akin to worry.
“Wh-who died,” he joked in a weak voice and he felt Bo-Katan squeeze his hand gently.
“We’ve got to take off the tourniquet now so we don’t damage your leg. Hold still ok?”
Woves moved to his side near his head just in case and Bo-Katan made sure she had all the materials she would need just in case and swiftly removed the tourniquet. Once the pressure was released from his leg it was as if the numbness had been flipped off with a switch. The muscles spasm and Din groaned as he slammed his head back against the pillow.
“Easy, Vod,” Woves said. His voice was firm and yet there was an element of care in it.
“Shit. This is still bleeding really bad,” Bo-Katan winced as she pressed a clean cloth to the wound. Din let out another moan as he panted through the pain.
“What are you going to do?” Woves asked.
Bo-Katan tapped her fingers nervously for a moment, trying to think of a way to tie Din over until they could get to the healer. They were only halfway there and the man’s skin was almost white. He couldn’t afford to lose more, especially because she didn’t know whether or not he was bleeding internally. Suddenly, she had an idea. It wasn’t ideal, but it would work in a pinch. Getting up from the cot, she reached the drawers and cabinets until she found what she was looking for; a handheld cauterization tool. Grasping it in her hand she returned to the bedside.
“Din, I’m going to have to cauterize the wound in your leg. We still have a bit to go on our journey and you can’t afford to lose any more blood. I need you to stay very still, ok?”
Din nodded and braced against the cot and Bo-Katan clicked on the device. There was a soft hum that filled the air but he was quickly drowned out by a pained growl as the burning in his leg spiked. It was a reflex to sit up and try to fight the source of the fire currently torching his flesh but every time Din tried to sit up his abdominals engaged and he was viciously reminded that he was currently sporting two bullet wounds in his torso. On his last attempt to sit up, he felt a strong arm snake around his chest as Woves held him still against his body. He felt trapped and he was hurting and it was not a situation he liked being in. Another pained cry escaped his lips and he writhed in Woves’ arms.
“There! I’m done, Din. It’s over. Here let’s get another pain killer in you,” she said as she went to grab another one.
“You’re not just popping those are you?”
“Of course not. These only last about an hour. He’s been trying to save them. We only have one more after I use this one,” she said as she injected the medication into Din. It was becoming second nature to her, a steady cycle of pain, surrender, release, and then relief. Woves got up and eased a half-conscious Din back to the cot.
“He’s ice-cold,” he observed as he pulled the blanket over Din.
Bo-Katan sighed. “I can’t tell if he’s slipping into shock or if it’s just because he’s still losing blood.”
“I’m right here,” Din muttered. They almost couldn’t hear him under his helmet. He hated people flinging around the seriousness of his condition like he wasn’t lying there.
“Sorry. We’ll get some more blankets and see if we can’t get you warmed up,” Bo-Katan reassured before she scampered off to see what she could find.
Din nodded, unaware that she’d already left the room and he let his head drift to the side. Woves waited quietly and for a minute it was quiet as he assumed the Mandalorian had drifted off.
“The kid?” The voice was faint and yet it startled him.
“The kid,” Din repeated a little louder.
“Oh. He was napping last time I checked. He threw a temper tantrum because he couldn’t come down here and wore himself out.”
“B-bring him here.” Kriff when did it become so hard to talk?
Before Woves could respond, Bo-Katan came back with her arms full of blankets. “Grabbed these from the sleeping quarters. This should help,” she said as she started to pile the blankets on top of his prone body. “There. Is that better Din?”
He didn’t answer.
“Din, you awake in there?”
When he didn’t answer again she sighed and sat on the edge of his cot, her fingers fumbling for his hand under the blankets. They settled on his wrist, searching for the pulse she knew would be thready and weak.
“It would be easier to monitor him without the helmet,” Woves commented.
Bo-Katan sighed. “I know. But I have vowed to be respectful of his creed until it becomes absolutely necessary.”
“How can you be respectful of something you know harmed our people?” Woves asked incredulously.
“I’m disappointed in you, Woves. We were once like that. We were once violent and blinded. I’m tired of our people being divided. I’m tired of us shouting and pointing fingers and laying the blame at one another. This mission that I have, to reunite our people and take back our home, will not work if us Mandalorians can’t put aside our differences and work together.”
The coughing woke Din up next. He had no idea how long he’d been out. What had started as an ignorable tickle in his lungs had now blossomed into a full-blown fit that pulled at the wounds and forcefully stole the breath out of his lungs. He tried to shift onto his uninjured side in an effort to ease the horrible, breath-stealing coughs. There was a gentle hand on his back that helped to guide him.
“It’s alright, Din. Just relax and breathe.”
Bo-Katan could see the sweat rolling down his neck from somewhere under his helmet as the coughing subsided and was replaced with heavy, sporadic gasps.
“Wh-where’s the kid?” Din asked breathlessly.
“With Woves and Koska. Would you like me to have brought here?”
Dun gave her a weak nod and Bo-Katan got up and walked to the intercom.
“Woves, can you bring the kid down please?” Copy that,” came Woves’ reply over the intercom.
She returned to Din’s side and saw his breathing had sped up some. She was growing increasingly worried. The last six hours had been a steady downhill descent and the fear that Din wasn’t going to hold on was growing more and more likely. I didn’t matter what she did. There was more pain, more blood, more suffering than she could keep up with. There was a squeal and she turned to see the Child running towards Din’s bed. Woves was not far behind.
“Sorry. He was a slippery little bugger and climbed right out of my arms,” Woves said as he watched the Child pull himself onto the cot and settle beside his guardian.
Din managed a weak chuckle, knowing exactly what a handful the little green toddler was. It broke off into a weak groan as the pain was triggered again. The baby cooed softly and tried to wrap his little arms around his father’s helmet. He rested his forehead against the steel as he peered into the dark visor.
“I see you, kid,” Din murmured as he reached his arm up and rubbed the baby’s head. His movements were clumsy yet gentle.
Bo-Katan was overcome with emotion. Maybe it was the long-eared baby that surely stole the heart of everyone who met him, but Din’s softness and clear attachment to the child was even more touching. There was no doubt he held nothing but love for the foundling, even if he hadn’t admitted it to himself yet.
“He seems very attached to you,” Bo-Katan commented.
“Yeah?” Din queried as he swallowed down a whimper.
“Yeah. He pitched a fit when he couldn’t be here with you. He’s been nothing but concerned about you.”
Din sighed. “I hope that doesn’t mean it’s going to be hard to bring him home.”
“Back to the Jedi,” Bo-Katan corrected.
“I don’t have a choice in the matter. I think his family is gone. They are the only ones who can help him.”
“What makes you say that?”
Din took in a shuddering breath. The pain was steadily getting worse but he knew they were limited on pain killers and they still had a bit chunk of the journey left. It was best to try and reserve the last pain killer they had.
“He has these powers.” He paused and fought the urge to groan. “I’ve never seen anything like it. He can move objects with his mind.”
Bo-Katan nodded. “I saw such things during the Clone Wars. I witnessed the terrible clash between the Jedi and their enemies known as the Sith. They had powers that you speak of, but far more powerful.”
“What happened to them?” Din was trying to hold his breath because the fire was becoming more and more unbearable.
“They were wiped out.”
“None survived?” Din’s voice carried a tone of strain and Bo Katan picked up on it.
“We don’t have to make small talk if it’s hurting too much Din.”
“I’m fine,” Din grunted. “Did no Jedi survive?”
“I heard rumors that two survived the destruction. But then again, those were just rumors.”
“Feels like I’m heading for a dead end.” Bo Katan could definitely hear the wavering in Din’s voice as he fought to get the pain under control. He was borderline hyperventilating and he gripped the sheets so tightly his knuckles were turning white.
“Din, you need that last painkiller so you can rest,” Bo-Katan insisted.
“No, Din moaned. “Still have four hours left. N-need to save it.” His feet scraped against the mattress as he panted. He wasn’t pulling in enough air now. He couldn’t. There just wasn’t enough for him to pull in.
Bo-Katan watched him struggle and listened to the strange breathing pattern coming from inside the helmet. The situation had officially gone from bad to worse. She reached over and grabbed the oxygen mask off the wall.
“Here, let’s get that helmet off so we can get you on some oxygen. It’ll help your breathing.”
She moved to take his helmet off and Din caught her wrist and squeezed. “No,” he said as firmly as his weak body would allow.
“Din you can’t be serious. You can’t breathe!”
“It stays on.”
“Ok, separate creeds aside you’re going to go into respiratory arrest if I don’t do something ok? Please, Din. I need you to trust me.”
The baby whimpered and looked from Mandalorian to the other. There was nothing but fear in his eyes.
“Come on, Din. Do it for the wellbeing of your foundling. If you die you can’t help or protect him. Please, do it for him.”
It was dead silent in the med bay except for his desperate gasps, as If he was thinking. Bo-Katan felt his grip ease around her wrist at last and with great care, she lifted the helmet off his head. She didn’t quite know what she expected under his cold steel but she was caught off guard by his face. Dark stubble graced his angular jaw and formed a mustache that graced his upper lip. His thick, wavy hair curled around his ears and his eyes were dark and piercing. Pure agony graced his face at the moment and his bangs were plastered to his forehead with sweat. There was something boyish despite his hardened features. She imagined all Children of the Watch, who were raised as soldiers the day they could hold a weapon, looked like this. A blend of childhood that had been tainted with violence. Gently she placed the mask over his mouth and nose and slipped the strap around his head.
“Just breathe Din. You’re alright. Just take some slow breaths,” she coaxed as she grabbed the last painkiller and injected it into Din’s arm.
Din let his eyes fluttered closed. He felt so drained and detached from the world. He couldn’t tell if he was awake or not. His founding, who had stepped back to watch Bo-Katan removed his helmet and provide medical aid returned to his head and this time rested his face against the unmasked face of his father. The noises he was making sounded strange, almost as if he was trying to whisper to him. He’d never done that before. Over the last several weeks, Din had noticed the child was reaching baby milestones, babbling like he was trying to talk, walking instead of wobbling, etc. He wondered if the kid would start talking before he reached the Jedi. He wondered if the child would call him father.”
His brain was worn out and he was so tired. He’d just close his eyes again, despite Bo-Katan telling him not to do it, and rest in the painless darkness.