Engulfed in searing, blinding heat, like nothing he’s ever felt before, Bodhi Rook wakes and doesn’t know where he is.
He tumbles down, trapped wrapped captured in strong arms and rough hands and the chill of alien limbs wrapping around his brain, tearing and sifting through memories and wishes and a reality he can’t be sure of.
“No! No no no no---“ he cries desperately, flailing and fighting and fleeing unseen terrors.
“Shhhhhh…” he hears the hiss of a radio. No voices, no words, just him alone and failing again.
“I can’t—I couldn’t—I’m sorry…” he sobs, but he’s talking to himself and he already knows how sorry he is. Why say it when it won’t change what he did? Or what he didn’t do? Why he couldn’t help. Be brave and you can… you can change. You can help. He’s not brave. Never was or will be.
Strong hands are still pulling at him, dragging him up, and he closes his eyes in the gloom, afraid of what will come next.
But it’s not what he thinks.
The strong hands become soft, the noises become a voice, the chill coursing through him slows into ripples after a storm. “Bodhi. Bodhi, listen. I’m here, you’re okay. Shhhhh…”
This is not the torture he was expecting. This is not what he deserves. Soft hands and a quiet voice and no cold, cold cages and darkness, just warmth and a steady presence wrapped around him.
“This isn’t…” he stumbles over the words, tries to explain. This isn’t right. There’s something missing. He carefully opens his eyes again, to put together the pieces that have drifted away from him.
What he sees can’t be possible. None of this should be possible. He should be – his body should be – in the temple. His parents would bring him, and there would be a ceremony. Tears and songs, sadness and celebration. Words with meaning, made into a story. His story. He’s not sure this is the right one. Can never be sure anymore. He doesn’t think either of them should be here.
“Bodhi, you’re safe,” the voice says again, and it belongs to Cassian. Strong hands and smooth voice and a sense of trust. Bodhi’s not sure if it’s been years or days.
“No no no, I died, I died—“ he tries to explain, stumbling fumbling tripping over the words. “We fought and I couldn’t—and I died—I died—I know it—I died—“
Cassian’s voice is still soft. “No, you’re alive. You’re safe. It’s okay.” Bodhi feels a touch on his forehead and leans into it, and it’s cool but not draining, not stealing anything from him this time.
“You have a fever,” Cassian says. “You’re sick.”
Slowly the thought sinks into his brain. Fever. Not death. Not the shriek of lasers around him and the bone-rattling crash of starfighters plummeting into the sandy beach. Not the blinding flash of grenades and the screams of people he barely knows as their lives are ripped from them.
“Sick…?” Bodhi repeats softly, trying to make sense of it. There are still things that don’t match, pieces that don’t fit. “But… the—the planet killer…”
Callused fingers brush Bodhi’s hair away from his face, and Cassian’s voice is in his ear. “It’s gone. It’s gone,” he says, like a whisper of a prayer and a glimmer of hope. “We got the plans, barely managed to escape the planet in time. You saved us, getting the transmission through to the fleet. But now you need to rest. It’s been too long since any of us slept properly.”
Bodhi feels himself being maneuvered until he rests against something soft, and as he gazes around the room, things start to feel familiar. Stone floors, ancient walls, the dull green of stubborn plant life clinging onto any surface it can find.
“I’ve been here before…?” he whispers, still not sure of himself.
“Yes,” Cassian confirms. “It’s the rebel base on Yavin 4. We’re safe here for now.” He’s leaning away now, moving to get up from the bed that Bodhi is resting in.
“The others?” Bodhi adds quickly, grabbing Cassian’s hand as he starts to move away.
He turns back, and though Bodhi can’t be sure of much, he sees the sadness in the other man’s eyes, the heaviness of loss. The room is full of silence for a moment, weighing down on him like the cold air that comes before a rainstorm. “Chirrut… and Kay,” Cassian answers quietly.
It’s all he needs to say. Through the fog of the fever, Bodhi feels a wave of grief wash over him. For the blind man from his home who trusted in ways that Bodhi never could. For the droid who was like him, a broken piece from an unstoppable machine.
But he remembers Cassian’s words.
Relief surges through him, pushing at the grief and the fatigue. Too many emotions have been locked inside him, but he can feel them start to move, to change. On, and on, until a spark of strength rises up through the chaos. He holds tight to that spark, tries to keep it from being taken from him.
“…Not unstoppable anymore,” he murmurs, starting to feel heavy as the nightmare adrenaline fades and the exhaustion takes hold.
“Sleep now,” Cassian urges him, and at the mere suggestion Bodhi feels his eyelids start to close, drawn by the elusive hope for good dreams and a few moments without war.