He knew the moment he stepped out of the sunlight and into the crowded cantina, the warmth of the sun cut off by the roof overhead. It wasn’t any cooler inside, the heat caused by the bodies packed in the small room like the pups in a nest of Nexu.
Taking a moment to stand just inside the door of the cantina, the robed male lifted his head to listen to the droning chatter and the occasional shattering glass.
A band played in the background, though a tad too loudly.
Moving purposefully, the mysterious figure moved around the outside of the room between multiple patrons. When he tilted his head upwards, light fell on his face to reveal the dark cloth stretched over the upper half, concealing his eyes and advertising his now obvious blindness.
The tall man mumbled an apology as he bumped into someone, placing a hand on the other’s shoulder before continuing on his way to claim a table against the far wall, out of way of some of the more questionable characters.
“Can I get you something?”
Turning his face towards the direction of the voice, the blind man gave a small nod. “Grog, if you will.” He answered, giving a smile as the woman walked off.
Sitting straight as a rod, the mysterious male reached out with the force carefully, feeling out each patron present in the bar, searching out feelings, personality. He was looking for one person, one of specific attitude and personality.
Finding someone similar to what he'd hoped to find, the robed figure stood up from his seat, leaving behind the drink as he headed over to the table set in the furthest corner. It was shadowed, something he could sense by the change in temperature, if not by sight.
“Aren’t you a bold one?”
A small smile touched the blind male’s lips as he seated himself across from the only other occupant in the booth. “I prefer valiant.” He responded, a snort sounding across from him.
“And who, exactly, are you?”
The blind man took a deep breath. “Raymond Palmer.” He answered after a moment of silence, head tilting slightly. “And yours?”
“I’m not quite finished asking questions.” The other responded, obviously amused if a little tense. “What exactly, are you looking for that you think you'd find with me?”
Sighing softly, Raymond leaned back in his seat, hands resting on the table. “I need a ship. Someone that can pilot it and possesses a certain requirement: discretion.” He announced calmly, spreading his hands out with a small smile.
“Well, then you’ve come to the right place… If you have the credits.”
Raymond snorted out a laugh, obviously amused now. “First tell me how you meet the requirements.” He responded firmly, not willing to draw out the banter too long, for the off chance that those he was trying to avoid showed up.
“I was Han Solo’s co-pilot when he ran the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. I finished second after him on my own in exactly twelve.” The smuggler answered with obvious pride. “Been flying for just over ten years, seen employment with Black Sun, the Hutt Cartel and the Pyke Syndicate. Hence my talent with discretion.”
Raymond smiled widely, nodding slowly. “And your name?”
“Ah, of course. Leonard Snart, at your service.”
The blind male gave a dip of his head to show that he’d acknowledged the other’s response, the slightest bit of relief filling him. He’d found someone to get him off of Tattooine, a necessity he'd had trouble filling the past few days. He had a mission to do, and he wanted to complete it as soon as possible.
“Where do you need to go, and what sort of cargo are you packing that you so desperately need to keep secret?” The smuggler questioned, and though Raymond couldn’t see him, he knew that Leonard was smirking.
A moment of silence passed as Raymond attempted to think up a viable excuse. “I need to get to Alderaan. I’ve got no cargo with me. Just myself,” the older male answered, giving a shrug of his shoulders. “The secrecy is something I always require. You never know when a day may come where my actions are better hidden than known by the general public.” Raymond explained, a smile touching his lips.
Leonard snorted in amusement, a creaking sound reaching the blind man’s ears as he leaned back in his seat. “I don’t see what a blind man such as yourself can do to have someone looking for you,” the smuggler questioned in amusement, humor thick in his tone. “Unless you aren’t what you seem.” He added.
Raymond’s heart skipped a beat, but he forced the smile to remain in place as he gave a soft laugh. “No one is what they seem. Exactly how do I know who you are? How do I know you really ran the Kessel Run with Han Solo?” He asked, twisting Leonard’s question over onto him.
He could immediately sense the agitation coming from the man sitting across from him, and it was Raymond’s turn to be amused.
“I suppose we’ll have to take our words on it.” Leonard responded in a short tone, pushing himself to his feet, the distinct sound of a blaster quietly knocking against the edge of the table reached Raymond, and he had to fight the urge to flinch. “When do you need to leave?”
Turning his face slightly upwards in the general direction of Leonard’s voice, Raymond gave a smile. “I’d like to leave as soon as you can get your ship ready.” He answered in a calm tone.
“Well then you’re welcome to come along, but I warn you, it will be boring.” Leonard answered, and there was a slight disturbance in the air by Raymond’s head, the older male tensing up, but nothing happened. He waited for a few moments, still and unmoving. “Right,” the smuggler’s tone sounded devious. “I forgot you couldn’t see. Would you like me to help you up and guide you? Or would you prefer to magically make your way around like you did to find me here?”
The question caught Raymond off guard, the dark-haired male feeling nervous. This man was obviously suspicious of others, and had very keen senses. He’d have to be extremely careful in this regard, if he wished to keep his secret concealed.
Silently, Raymond reached out towards Leonard, finding his hand. The grip was firm, almost threatening, as he was pulled to his feet, but the blind man paid no more attention than necessary. The moment he was on his feet, Raymond felt the smuggler place his hand in the crook of his arm before setting off at a fast pace.
It wasn’t hard keeping up with Leonard, but Raymond could feel the mix of suspicion and amusement the other was feeling, and it kept him alert and on edge.
He’d seen enough of the galaxy to fear everything. Especially when the current threat carried a blaster and an air of confidence that testified he knew how to use it.
Raymond wouldn’t make the mistake of letting his guard down ever again. Not after what happened last time.
May Rachi forgive him.
Leonard and Raymond finally leave Mos Eisley, but so begins the trouble between them. A gentle soul and an abrasive spirit, in close quarters where neither really trusts the other. So begins their journey.
Apologies for taking so long. I still have some waiting requests, but I might finish these guys first, if not pass them on to one of my pseuds. Since the request story was taken down, they've been unable to get any.
Please enjoy this chapter. :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Leaving the cantina on the arm of a man he’d just met left Raymond extremely uncomfortable, but he followed beside the other, seemingly trusting Leonard to keep him from running into anything or tripping himself up as they walked, but he truly didn’t. Raymond wouldn’t so carelessly trust another, so he quietly felt out everything as they walked to ensure his own way.
“For a blind man you maneuver yourself rather well,” the voice came from his left, causing Raymond to quickly look in Leonard’s direction. “Being born blind does that for you. Though there are downsides amongst the joy of blindness.” The robed male responded quietly, the smuggler giving a snort. “And what might those be?” He questioned in feigned interest.
Raymond was silent for several moments before looking in Leonard’s direction again. “I’ve never been able to look out into space, experience the beauty of light speed. I’ve heard descriptions of it, but I’m certain that it’s so much better when viewed with one’s own eyes.”
Silence fell for a few moments, Leonard tugging Raymond around an unseen barrier as he seemingly thought. “Perhaps that is something to be sorry for, but there are things one can witness where they would wish they’d been blind. I have many images in my mind that I would give much to forget.” The smuggler answered in a cold-sounding voice, obviously disliking the direction their conversation had gone. “But I suppose some would say that hearing and not seeing could be just as damaging.”
Walking along beside this man that was supposed to be a criminal of some sort, Raymond felt a sense of empathy rise up in him. He understood what Leonard was saying, though he was unable to say so without unravelling his carefully told story. For now, he just remained silent as they traversed the streets of Mos Eisley towards the docking bays.
Though the rest of the trip held an uneasy feeling for Raymond, it went without a hitch, and that was something he was exceedingly grateful for. More than he’d actually expected in truth. Regardless of his training, he’d felt a little ill at ease as he and Leonard navigated the busy streets to retrieve the smuggler’s ship. The older male was unable to get his emotions under control even when his temporary comrade announced their arrival.
“It’ll only take me a short time to check her over and make sure everything’s good to go.” Leonard was saying as Raymond slowly drifted from his thoughts in order to listen, “so you could sit in the ship if you want to, or you can stand out here in the suns. Doesn’t bother me which you’d like to do.” The younger man was saying as he released the other’s arm.
Raymond sighed softly as he discreetly reached out with the force to feel the area around him, ensuring there was no danger before slowly making his way towards the ship, stopping quickly once he realized what he was doing. “Where is the ship?” He questioned quietly, sensing Leonard nearby, the smuggler leaning against a wall.
“Why ask now? You seemed to know where it was a moment ago.” Leonard responded, Raymond not missing the subtle suspicion in the other’s tone. “Since we came in this way, I could only assume we were facing the ship.” He responded confidently, a snort sounding as Leonard pushed off the wall and approached. “Then you were right. You going to be waiting on the ship?” He questioned, moving passed his blind companion towards the waiting ship.
Following the sound of the other’s footsteps in the sand, Raymond thought for a moment. He would like to sit while he waited, but he couldn’t trust Leonard. For all he knew the other man was truly a slaver, but then what use would a blind slave be?
“I would like to sit, but not inside the ship. I enjoy the sunlight.” Raymond finally decided as he located the boarding ramp that had been lowered for him to enter, seating himself on the edge of it. “I doubt I’ll be seeing the sunlight for a while.” He added as a quick explanation for his decision.
“Like the sunlight? I absolutely despise the heat.” Leonard said as he regarded the robed figure for several moments, brow furrowed. He wasn’t sure what to think about this odd man, but he knew that there was something off with him, and he’d like to find out what it was.
Raymond wasn’t sure if he should attempt small talk with his travel partner, but Leonard made up his mind for him by vanishing, the sound of boots against metal overhead signalling the smuggler had climbed atop his ship to no doubt ensure things were alright before they could take off.
Mos Eisley wasn’t the best of places, and it wouldn’t be unheard of for someone to sabotage another’s ship or steal valuable parts that were paramount for it’s use. Taking off without said parts could prove devastating, then Raymond would never be able to carry out the task he’d been given to do.
Sitting alone and in silence, Raymond’s mind wandered back a few years, the young man’s body tensing up as his fists clenched at his sides. It was times like these when he became tormented by the faces and voices of the souls he was unable to save. His heart broke every time he heard her voice, the way she screamed for him to run right before she’d been cut down by… by that man Raymond still couldn’t identify. That was the day he’d lost his sight, but it still didn’t stop his mind from reproducing the images for his torture.
Sighing softly, Raymond reached up a hand to cover his eyes, lip quivering as he fought to regain his composure before Leonard could return. He didn’t want to explain his sorrow to anyone, especially since it meant that he would be putting himself in grave danger. For now, his story would remain untold, a secret burden he would carry on his own.
Atop the ship, Leonard sat back on his knees, staring out towards the setting twin suns as he regarded the coming night with a similar, inner darkness. He wasn’t sure accepting the other man’s offer was wise, specifically with his situation. What if Raymond wasn’t blind as he claimed? He could possibly recognize Leonard, then have him arrested. To protect himself, Leonard would have to find out a dark secret that Raymond wouldn’t want others to know. One big enough to prevent him from ever handing him over to the authorities.
Leonard sighed loudly in frustration, shaking his head as he set back to work, refusing to let his hands remain idle long enough for him to be drawn back into the memories of his past. It was something best forgotten.
“Alright, pay me and we can leave.”
Raymond looked up from where he’d been resting his chin on his knees. He’d heard Leonard’s approach, but chose to feign unawareness until the other spoke. It would be good if he kept the smuggler thinking he wasn’t more capable than what he portrayed.
“You never named your price.” Raymond answered in a calm voice, reaching up the smooth a hand over his bandaged eyes again, “how much were you wanting?”
“20,000.” Came the quick response, Raymond sitting silently for several moments before speaking up again. “I can give you eight now, another twenty once you get me to where I’m going.” The blind man answered in a calm voice, falling quiet as he waited to hear what Leonard had to say, sensing the smuggler’s distrust as easily as one would have been able to say the sky was blue. “How do I know you’ve got that much?”
Standing, Raymond brushed himself off before answering. “I suppose you’ll just have to trust me.”
Silence fell for a moment, Leonard eventually giving a grunt as he pushed past Raymond to board the ship. “Fine. But if you try to take off without paying me I’ll sell you to the Hutts.” He responded in a dark tone that surprised his companion. Leonard definitely had a lot of anger and darkness in him, even with the brief glimpse Raymond was able to catch. The smuggler had kept it so well hidden in the cantina that he hadn’t noticed it at first, but now it was definitely clear, and further set Raymond with a feeling of unease. Had he sensed Leonard to be capable of using the force, he’d have feared that he’d just made a deal with a possible sith.
“You have my word that you will receive your payment.” Raymond answered softly, following after his brooding companion towards what he assumed to be the cockpit. There was nowhere else they’d be going, and Leonard seemed to have calmed back into his cold, stoic self again. “From my experience, someone giving their word is useless. It’s just that: words.” The other man answered. “Sit there.”
Raymond reached out a hand to feel for the seat, finding it without too much trouble before he seated himself, listening as Leonard dropped himself down nearby, pushing buttons as the ship powered on around them. It felt a little rough initially, but smoothed out quickly enough that Raymond decided it was nothing to be worried about.
“It’s a YT-24400. Might be a little bumpy at times.” Leonard mumbled, and Raymond was unsure if the smuggler had really intended to ‘reassure’ him, or if he was trying to justify the state of his ship… Either way, the older man hadn’t done anything to make the smuggler feel the need to do so. At least he was pretty sure he hadn’t.
Raymond tensed up the further they went, waiting for a static-laced voice to come up on the comm ordering them to give their clearance codes for takeoff, or demanding to know where they were going. When it didn’t come, Raymond took a moment before remembering that there wasn’t a big imperial presence on Tattooine, so all Leonard had to do was leave the atmosphere. Nobody really asked questions on a planet like Tattooine, not unless they were looking for trouble.
“Are you the only one on this ship?” Raymond finally spoke up, keeping himself facing forwards as he waited for the response, not one to enjoy silence very much, though Leonard seemed to, if the slight irritation in the force around him was anything to go by.
“I’m not sure. Are you a figment of my imagination?” Leonard questioned sarcastically, startling Raymond a little, the robed male turning his face towards him now before offering the tiniest of smiles. “I meant to ask if you’re the only member of the crew.” He clarified.
Leonard fell silent, and Raymond realized that perhaps it was a question he shouldn’t have asked until he’d gotten to know the smuggler a bit.
“I am now. My droid’s gone floating around in space somewhere with my old partner.” Leonard answered quietly, hands a little more aggressive on the controls now as he put in the coordinates for the hyperdrive.
Raymond was quiet for a few moments, sitting stock still in his seat as he reached out with the force, searching the ship for any other signs of life forms, finding one… It didn’t seem human though, and that set the young force-user on edge. “But you’re not alone on this ship, are you?” He questioned, sitting up a little straighter.
The smuggler was looking at him now, Raymond could feel the faint prickle on his skin, the same kind anyone got when they got the feeling they were being watched. It bothered him, the cold silence as Leonard watched him from only a few feet away.
Breathing out as quietly as he could, Raymond gave the tiniest nod of his head, but the feeling of someone watching him didn’t fade, even as he sensed Leonard turn away from him. “So you do still have a partner?” He questioned softly.
Raymond was at a loss of what to say next, the older man sitting upright as he listened, allowing the force to guide his thoughts, drawing on it to try and keep himself calm. “Then why would you say you’re not alone?” The dark-haired human asked again.
Perhaps he’d made a very bad choice in choosing someone to give him a ride to Alderaan… Raymond was just about ready to forcibly take over the ship, but then he may not be able to fly the freighter on his own, nor did he have the clearance codes for landing.
“I have a companion. Her name is Kigra.” Leonard announced, flipping a few switches even as he watched the robed Alderaanian out of the corner of his eye. There was something off about him, and Leonard was going to find out. “She’s a nexu.” The way Raymond visibly relaxed only helped confirm that he had something to hide, Leonard turning to look at him with a narrowed gaze again.
“I’ve heard Nexu were not capable of being tamed.”
Leonard allowed the slightest flicker of amusement to pass over his face, expression still guarded even in the presence of a blind man. “There’s always a first time. Besides, I’m capable of conquering any odds.” He responded confidently, pressing himself back into his seat as the ship entered hyperspace with a lurch. “She won’t hurt you so long as I don’t order it.” Leonard added to further put the other at ease. It wouldn’t do if Raymond kept his guard up. It would only make it harder for the smuggler to try and ensure his own safety.
“Tell me something, Raymond.”
Looking up, the blind man offered a nod as he waited to hear the question.
“What are you so afraid of?” Leonard questioned, noticing the curious intake of air as well as the way Raymond seemed to move his hands into his lap, close to his waist. It was a sign that he was carrying a weapon, and the smuggler immediately took quick note of it. So this man wasn’t as innocent as he claimed?
“I fear what most others do, except moreso as a blind man,” the dark-haired male responded, head tilted in Leonard’s general direction, “I fear travelling with a man I do not know. Tragedy seems to befall those that make such dangerous decisions.”
“Yet you still made it.” Leonard answered, causing Raymond to feel a little more nervous. “Yes.” He answered in a calm voice, regardless of the uncertainty filling him.
Humming, Leonard nodded even though the other wouldn’t see it. “Come. I will show you where you can stay.” The smuggler ordered.
Raymond got up, pulling away a little when he felt a hand at his elbow, head quickly whipping around to face the smuggler that was suddenly so close to him. “Do you need me to guide you?” Came the quiet, almost accusing words, the force-user hesitating a moment before offering a single nod. “I would be grateful.” He answered, allowing Leonard to grip his elbow and lead him from the cockpit.
Navigating the hall together, Raymond sensed the non-sentient life form approach well before he heard the growl from somewhere in front of him.
“Quiet, Kigra.” Leonard ordered, the sound immediately ceasing to exist as Raymond felt something snuffle at his leg before grabbing a corner of his robe to tug at it. At a sharp ‘no’ from Leonard, the beast immediately let go and followed along behind the two men. From what he’d felt, Raymond doubted the nexu was fully grown.
“Here it is.”
Raymond stopped when Leonard did, the younger man reaching across him to seeming type in a code before a door slid open. “I’ve deactivated the code. You can reset it if you wish. Either that or just leave the door unlocked, but then you might find Kigra sleeping with you some nights.” The smuggler explained with what sounded like a strained, cold tone. The sudden change certainly warranted Raymond to feel a little more on edge, but he stepped into the room anyways. “Thank you.”
The silence that followed was full of a tenseness that seemed to unsettle Kigra, the nexu giving a soft growl again before Leonard spoke up and broke it, but his words only served to keep Raymond even further on guard.
“A final question, Raymond.” Leonard stated, making it clear it wasn’t a question, but Raymond treated it as such anyways, dipping his head ever so slightly. “Of course.” He answered, forcing confidence into his voice even though he felt nothing of the sort.
The following words caused Raymond’s whole body to go cold as if he’d stepped out into the snow of Hoth stark-naked and frozen there.
“When were you planning on telling me you were a Jedi?”
Alright. So Leonard and Raymond met in the year of 4BBY, 4 years before there was any real presence of the empire on Tattooine (that I could find in my research, there wasn't a blockade over Tattooine until the year 0BBY, when Luke Skywalker leaves the planet with Han Solo and Obi-Wan Kenobi.)
They are the ages of 25 (Leonard) and 28 (Raymond). I am going to try and stick to the real timelines as best I can, but I will be bringing things in from all sorts of extended universe and everything, so things might get a little messy. Good thing it's an AU I suppose. :)
Also, Mandalorians will make an appearance in my story, but they won't be the really dumb version like from The Clone Wars (animated). (Where Mandalorians suddenly became pacifist and no longer kept to the old warrior ways) Yeah I'm a Pre-Vizsla extremist. I had read about Mandalorians on Wookieepedia before they were updated with the newest (and dumbest) version.
So in my story, Mandalorians will have remained true to their upbringing as warriors. Pre-Vizsla was someone who wanted to dominate the universe, and a terrorist. So he and Death Watch can still fit in someplace. (I actually have the old version of Mandarlians copied down and saved from Wookieepedia from BEFORE The Clone Wars (animated) came out and ruined them. I don't know how to publish it though like all the other pages, because I would and entitle it old age. What Mandalorians were viewed as before TCW. :(
Hope this helps to keep the story from getting too confusing. Ask questions whenever you need to!! (I have the previous version of Mandalorians saved in a google doc if you want to see it.)