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Polished Button Beetles

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K-2SO was no fool. He saw the way everyone looked at him. Even among those in the know, he was still wrong, a symbol of everything the rebel alliance stood against. K-2SO the KX-series security droid knee that this was entirely logical. Kay, the reprogrammed rebel, didn’t care about that particular line of logic. No matter how many times he ran the numbers, something about the looks felt like an error message.

He had tried to find solace with other droids, but they all had jobs to do around the base. They especially had jobs to do anytime Kay was nearby. Astromech zipped around far faster than he could follow without attracting notice, and even the relatively few humanoid droids would totter away. Not that they were great company. The gold one, C-3PO, was far too anxious in Kay’s presence to make anything more than brief conversation, and he was a droid specifically created for diplomacy.

So Kay spent time alone whenever Cassian was on base. Admittedly, this wasn’t as often as Kay would have prefered (“Cassian, it has only been two weeks since you were shot. If you return to the field now there is a 47.3% chance you will aggravate the wound and a 2.6% chance such an aggravation would prove fatal.” “I’m the only one who can do this Kay, don’t you understand?” and Kay did understand, that was the problem) but during Cassian’s brief periods of rest, Kay was left to his own devices.

Kay’s refuge wasn’t a secret, exactly, but no one had ever bothered to seek it out either. Usually, Cassian used his brief periods of rest to do nothing but sleep and heal. Usually Cassian didn’t get shot four times and stuck on-base until Draven was satisfied he wouldn’t keel over in a way that would weaken the alliance. This was not the usual situation.

When Cassian found him, Kay was sitting quietly. His body was not made for sitting, not flat on the ground, but the low roof made it impossible for him to stand without damaging it. Even Cassian had to crouch to make his way in.

The room itself was small, with cold stone walls that were always damp. Kay didn’t know for certain the original purpose of this room, though the small stone fountain that bubbled with water just barely above freezing made it fairly clear.

When Cassian entered, he opened his mouth as if to speak. Kay lifted his finger to his lips, silencing the injured man. With his other hand he pointed at the jewel tone insects scurrying across the floor.

“Polished button beetles!” whispered Cassian. “I didn’t know they lived anywhere in the base!”

“From what I’ve seen, they lived everywhere in the base before the rebellion showed up and pushed them down here,” replied Kay quietly.

They watched the beatles scurry about on the floor for a while. Eventually, Cassian spoke again.

“How did you find this place? It took me forever to find you here.”

“Let’s just say the beatles aren’t the only thing the rebels try to keep out of sight and out of mind,” said Kay.

“Oh.”

They sat in silence, after that.

From then on, Kay was not alone as much. He still found, if not enjoyment then peace at least in his solitude, but Cassian didn’t leave him the dark anymore. He was just as likely to be found sitting beside his droid than recovering in bed. K-2SO knew that he should be concerned, that behaviours like what Cassian was demonstrating had a high probability of causing him serious harm. Kay was just glad to have a friend.