- Naboo - Several Months after the Battle of Endor
“Who are they?”
That was the first question Shara Bey asked her husband once they’d kissed for the first time in weeks, separated by the war and finally reunited by it.
“Who’s who?” Kes Dameron asked, still far more interested in continuing the kissing even though they were in public.
“Them,” Shara said, directing his attention towards the two people standing somewhat apart from the rest of the rebels who were partaking in this usual post-battle celebrations.
Reluctantly, Kes turned his attention away from his wife. “Ah,” he said as he caught sight of the pair in question. The man was dressed in an a-wing pilot’s flightsuit with a small droid in his hands and the woman in an x-wing pilot’s although she’d rolled the top half of it down and tied it around her waist so she could wear some sort of harness that definitely didn’t look standard. “I thought you were with Princess Leia during the battle?”
She shook her head. “My fighter was damaged so she sent me to a different landing zone with the Queen. We didn’t get to talk until after that ion pulse.” Kes grinned. “What?”
“It’s fun when I know more about something than you.”
“Spit it out, Dameron.”
“They’re defectors. Inferno Squad.”
Shara’s jaw hung open in shock. “They’re what?”
Kes grinned. “Imperial Special Forces or at least they were. And apparently her father’s one of their ranking Admirals.”
Trying to stare without looking like she was staring, Shara narrowed her eyes. “Wait, I recognize her from the news holos a few years back… that’s Iden Versio!” Kes nodded. “What’s his name?”
“You’re very well informed, Sergeant.”
“Shriv likes to talk when he’s annoyed.”
"So what's the short version?"
Running a hand through his hair, Kes sighed. "From what I've heard, the Empire tried to pull Operation Cinder on her homeworld of Vardos first. They thought it was wrong and evacuated what civilians they could and then turned themselves in to the New Republic. General Calrissian told them they could take two x-wings and leave or they could come fight with us on Naboo as part of Danger Squadron."
Frowning, she glanced back over. "So they're rebels now?"
"I don't think they're anything."
Impulsively, Shara smiled mischievously and grabbed his sleeve. "Come on."
"Just go with it," she whispered before raising her voice as they drew closer to the two former Imperials. "Hi. Heard you two helped us out in the battle."
The woman didn't respond, her expression evaluating and somewhat suspicious, almost as if they'd been approached before with less than positive results. It was the man who answered for both of them. "We just wanted to do our part to stop Operation Cinder."
"Trust me, it was appreciated," Shara said. "I was probably about a minute from getting blown out of the sky when General Calrissian's fleet showed up."
That caught Iden's attention. "You were in one of the Naboo starfighters with the Senator." Shara nodded. "Your first time in one of those?" She nodded again. "You handled it well for it being a new ship."
"You did too," Shara returned the compliment before extending her hand towards them. "I'm Shara Bey and this is my husband Kes Dameron."
Iden hesitated before reaching out to shake her hand. "Iden Versio."
"I'm Del Meeko," Del said as the four exchanged handshakes.
"Why don't you come down to the mess with us?" Shara offered. "Grab some food, talk a bit."
The tossed back question seemed to throw Iden a little. She glanced towards Del who tilted his head slightly to the side, a wordless conversation clearly passing between them. Del said, "We're waiting to hear when I can access the repair bay and fix our droid."
"Did they give you comlinks?" Kes asked. Del nodded. "They'll get ahold of you. Everyone needs to eat, Meeko."
"You can just call me Del," the other man said easily before glancing towards Iden again, another wordless conversation seeming to occur. "And in that case, we appreciate the invitation. I don't remember the last time we ate a decent meal outside of a detention cell."
"I'm not sure you can count military rations as a decent meal," Shara said dryly, leading the way through the corridors with Del walking politely beside her. Kes and Iden followed a step or two behind. That was good. Her husband was good with people. Maybe he could put Iden more at ease.
"No but we've both had more than our fair share of them in the past so at least they're familiar," Del said with a half smile. "So you're a pilot then?"
"A-wings. What about you?"
"I can fly but I'm far better with my hands," Del said, cheeks flushing a moment later as he realized the potential connotations. "I mean, I'm an engineer."
"He's good at just about everything," Iden interrupted from behind them. Shara glanced over her shoulder just in time to see the other woman's expression soften ever so slightly. "He's the person I want watching my back in bad situations."
The corner of Del's mouth twitched upwards. "Likewise, Commander."
"Don't let Shriv hear you say that," Iden said dryly. "He's made it clear that my rank did not carry over. I don't think he likes us."
"Shriv doesn't like anyone," Kes chimed in. "Or at least that's what he wants everyone to think. You get used to him."
Any further conversation halted for the time being as they reached the ship's mess hall and grabbed food. It was impossible to not notice some of the looks being sent Inferno Squad's way and there was no way that neither Iden or Del had noticed. Shara narrowed her eyes even as Kes lightly grabbed her elbow. "Easy, sweetheart. We're doing what we can already."
"I wasn't going to say anything," she protested as they found a table.
"Say anything about what?" Del asked as he and Iden joined them.
"About the latest blaster burn my husband has on his jacket," Shara lied smoothly.
Kes shrugged apologetically. "It was just a graze."
“You always say that.”
“Because it always is!”
It took effort but after a little time, both Del and Iden seemed to relax a little as they all ate or at least relax as much as anyone in their situation could. They were all careful about how they talked about the past. These weren't the first defectors Shara had dealt with and inevitably, pasts always seemed to line up so that they'd been on opposing sides of at least one battle. She suspected that they'd likely all been present at Endor but that didn't really seem like a first meeting conversation. For Iden, the key seemed to be talking about flying. She'd started her Imperial service as a pilot and spent much of her career flying TIE fighters which made even something as nimble as an x-wing feel slow and lumbering at times, something that Shara could relate to. Both of them had grudging respect mixed with disdain for the even slower bombers even if neither of them would ever be caught dead flying one. There was an almost wistful expression on Iden's face as Shara talked about some of the maneuvers she'd put her a-wing through.
“Do you think the New Republic will be receptive if we ask for a-wings instead?” Del asked Kes quietly.
The commando shrugged. “I’m just a ground pounder. We don’t get fancy things like starfighters. If we ask nicely, we get A280Cs.”
“That’s just how it goes, isn’t it? Pilots always get the shiny stuff.”
Kes grinned. “Some things are the same everywhere, I take it.”
“Meeko, Versio, there you two are!” All four of them turned almost as one to look at the duros approaching them. “Making friends are we?”
Almost immediately, Iden seemed to close up again while Del said, “When with the New Republic…”
Shriv shook his head, seemingly no more annoyed than usual. Finally, he nodded at both of them. “Kes, Shara. Nice to see you both.”
“Likewise,” Shara said. “Haven’t seen you since Endor.”
“Been busy,” Shriv said with a shrug. “I need to steal your new friends. General Calrissian wants to see them.”
Iden half-shook her head as she rose to her feet. “Military’s the same everywhere. The general says jump, you jump.” She hesitated a moment before extending a hand towards Shara. “Thank you. For the conversation.”
It wasn’t hard to tell that she meant more than that but Shara didn’t say anything besides, “Anytime,” as she stood to shake the other woman’s hand.
“I’m glad to have met you both,” Del said as he followed suit. “Good luck getting the A280Cs,” he directed the last bit towards Kes.
“This is what I get for taking risks,” Shriv grumbled as he led the two Inferno Squad members away. “Remind me not to do that anymore, okay?”
"Do you think she knows?" Kes murmured as they watched the two newest rebels follow Shriv.
"Knows what?" Shara asked.
"That he's in love with her."
She stared at him. "How do you track that logic, Dameron?"
"Just wait and see," Kes said with an air of certainty. "Give it a year maybe. Probably less. I’d put ten credits on it." He reached across the table for her hand and smiling, she let him lead her out of the room. “So… how long are you here for?”
“Never long enough,” Shara said, a twinge of guilt hitting her as she once more yearned for the day when the war would end and she and Kes could have more than just a few hours together here and there. The war would be over… one day… They just had to take advantage of the time they had now.
- Chandrila - 2 Years after the Battle of Endor
It really wasn't surprising that the New Republic chose to honor the one year anniversary of the Battle of Jakku. What Del had found surprising was that he and Iden rated invitations to the celebration. They'd done their part for sure but for this sort of thing? Well, he supposed that they shouldn't complain.
They'd both dressed nicely for the event, even managing to leave the seeker droid who'd been their constant companion for years behind for the evening. It had the very important mission of guarding the Corvus . Or at least that’s what they told it. Before they'd left, he'd make a "No dress?" joke to Iden who'd shaken her head and said, "Keep it up, Meeko," to him in a tone that promised he'd pay for that remark later but in a way they'd likely both enjoy.
Almost as soon as they'd entered the room, Iden plucked a glass of wine off the tray of a passing waiter and took a sip of the green liquid. He didn’t even try and hide his amusement. “What?” she said with a shrug. “We both know how many politicians are here. All they’ll want to talk to us about is how we defected.”
“Well,” Del said calmly, taking her free hand and placing it in the crook of his elbow so he could escort her properly. “I have my story ready.”
“Your story?” she asked with amusement, taking another drink.
“My story,” he confirmed. “An encounter with a wise Jedi Master started to convince me of the error of the my ways and the faults of the Empire and then I left it behind for love of my commander.” She started to laugh but quickly bit it back. It was enough to make him smile too. “What?”
Still clearly amused, Iden shook her head. “Nothing.”
“So what’s yours then?”
“My story? I figure I’ll let you do the talking and just nod occasionally. Defer to your expertise. As a good commander does.”
It was Del’s turn to laugh and he couldn’t help but lean over and kiss her on the cheek. “I don’t tell you that I love you enough.”
“Are you getting sentimental on me?” she asked teasingly, stopping and turning so they were facing each other.
“Never. And always.”
Iden’s smile broadened and she leaned up as if to kiss him before apparently catching sight of someone over his shoulder. “Is that Shara Bey?”
Del frowned and turned slightly. “The pilot we met at Naboo?”
“Yes. Green dress and I think that’s her husband right behind her.”
“Why don’t we go say hello then?” he suggested, grabbing her hand before she could object and leading her towards them so their paths would intercept. "Kes, Shara, I’m not sure if you remember us but-”
“Del Meeko,” Shara greeted him warmly. “And Iden Versio, of course we do. You helped save my shebs over Naboo.”
“We’re glad to see you both,” Kes said as the four exchanged handshakes. “Glad to see you made it out of the war too.”
“Likewise,” Del said easily. “Jakku claimed a lot of good soldiers.”
Shara and Kes exchanged looks before she said almost apologetically, “We actually mustered out before that. Felt a little guilty but my captain insisted. Said we should go home to our son.”
Surprisingly, it was Iden who asked, “How old is he?”
“Four,” Shara said with a small smile. “His name is Poe and he’s a troublemaker.”
“Just like his mother,” Kes said with a grin, nudging her in the ribs teasingly before gesturing towards them with his half empty glass. “So. The Rebellion seems to suit you two.”
“Don’t let Mon Mothma hear you call it that here,” Del said dryly.
Kes rolled his eyes. “Right, sorry. The New Republic. It’s all the same to me. Anyways, how have you two been since the war ended?”
Del looked over at Iden before replying, “Trying to figure out how to be civilians, mostly. We stayed in for about four months after Jakku before taking the Corvus and leaving Chandrila behind.”
“They let you take the ship?” Shara asked, seemingly genuinely surprised.
Iden shrugged. “It was always ours. We just lent its services to the New Republic.”
“So you two have stayed together then?”
That was a question inside of a question. He could feel Iden tense up beside him and he resisted the urge to reach out to her. Instead, Del settled for glancing over for confirmation before casually replying, “We’re partners, yes.”
“For how long now?” Shara’s question was innocent enough but seemed oddly intent. At the very least, it confirmed that she hadn’t been asking if they were business associates.
Kes extended a hand towards his wife, a victorious smirk on his face. “Pay up. I told you so.”
Shara grumbled and reached into a hidden pocket for a credit chip and plunked it into his hand. “I still don't know how you knew.”
“I paid attention, love,” Kes said smugly, pocketing the chip.
Iden frowned. “We’re missing something.”
Shara at least managed to look a little bit sorry. “Kes had a suspicion that there was something between you two. I thought he was wrong so we made a bet even though it was likely we’d never run into you two again.” She wrinkled her nose. “We’ve made this awkward, haven’t we?”
Del couldn’t help but grin. He’d been less subtle than he’d thought if two strangers had been able to tell how deeply he cared for Iden all the way back then. “I think I’ve made odder bets in my day.”
“Was I really the only one who didn’t know?” Iden asked. “Even Shriv claimed he’d figured it out ages before Jakku.”
“Maybe men are just more perceptive than we give them credit for,” Shara said. “Now you have to tell me: did they ever let you try flying an a-wing or were you stuck with x-wings?”
“We kept the x-wings but they flew like a dream especially after the cloud car.” Shara blinked which made Iden almost grin. “Oh. That was a nightmare. You would’ve hated flying it but we did manage to take down three star destroyers with one.”
Shara’s eyes lit up. “This is a story you have got to tell me!”
Iden needed no further encouragement to launch into a recap of their mission to Bespin that had gone horribly wrong. As she spoke, hands demonstrating the size of their unfortunate getaway vehicle in comparison to x-wings, Del tried to hide a smile but failed. Bespin had been… rough for both of them. They’d come so close to coming face to face with Hask again but he’d been one step ahead and they’d been forced to fight their way off planet through dozens of stormtroopers; men and women who were likely all decent people but who’d never been offered a choice like he had. And then there had been the matter of Gideon Hask, now dead and lost to the sands of Jakku. He’d never once regretted his decision to follow Iden away from the Empire but he couldn’t help but wish Gideon had too. There was no changing the past though. They’d all made their choices.
“Chandrila to Agent Meeko.”
Jolted from his thoughts, Del blinked and turned to look at his partner, amusement more than evident in her eyes. “Sorry, was just thinking about the beldons.”
Kes poorly hid a grin behind a hand even as Iden shook her head and said, “Why am I not surprised?”
He shrugged. “I’m a simple man.”
“We’re going to grab drinks from the bar,” Shara said, linking her arm with Iden’s. Del was somewhat surprised when Iden let her. “Do you want one?” He nodded and Shara grinned. “We’ll be back. Don’t get into too much trouble, boys.”
“Do you usually get into trouble?” Del asked Kes once the women were out of earshot.
“Me? Nah. Well unless you count getting shot sometimes in battles but that’s not my fault. What about you?”
“Not usually. Well, there was the time I met a Jedi Master who altered my entire outlook on the galaxy and was part of why I left the Empire but that’s only trouble depending on who you ask.”
Both of Kes’ eyebrows shot up. “So Luke Skywalker changed your life too, huh?”
Del frowned. “Is that a common thing in the New Republic?”
Kes shook his head. “Not exactly but he and Shara went on a mission together after Naboo. It’s how we ended up on Yavin 4 and looking after a Force tree. Wasn’t where I thought we’d settle down but I like it. Poe loves it and Shara’s happy and that’s all I need.”
“How long have you been married?”
“About six years now, give or take a few months. I’ve been in love with her since the moment I met her though.”
Incredulous, Del grinned. “Really?”
He nodded. “Really. She jumped out of a starfighter, smiled at me, and that was it. Cheesy, I know, but true.” Kes paused. “So I guess it wasn’t love at first sight with Iden then?”
Del shook his head. “I don’t even know when I realized it. I mean, I have eyes, of course. I’ve always known she’s beautiful but we worked together for years as a part of a team. She was someone I trusted with my life. Still do and always will…” He trailed off, unable to stop his gaze from going to where Iden stood with Shara at the bar, waiting to get drinks. The corners of his mouth twitched upwards as she laughed at something Shara said. It was nice to see her so relaxed and happy when neither of them had expected to be even somewhat relaxed this evening.
Kes followed his gaze, smiling to himself. “Partners seems an apt term.”
“You have have no idea.”
“You should marry that woman, Del.”
Del blinked, a little taken back by how bluntly someone he only somewhat knew was speaking the words he’d kept hidden in his heart for months now. Simultaneously, he began to reevaluate the other man. Kes Dameron was more perceptive than he’d given him credit for. For a moment, he considered brushing the comment off but instead honesty came forth from his lips. “I'd like to but Iden is... well... Iden.”
Kes raised an eyebrow. “What does that mean?”
Pensively, Del took his time replying. "She's still figuring out what it means to be her without the Empire. I mean, so am I to an extent but for Iden... the Empire was everything for her. At least I have family on Coruscant but when your mother is an Imperial artist and your father is an ISB admiral, there's nothing except the Empire. After what happened at Vardos, there was nothing except stopping the Empire and now, that's gone too. I'm the only thing left."
"Thing?" Kes asked with a smirk.
He shook his head with amusement. "You know what I meant."
"I do. It was just a funny way to refer to yourself."
"I just... I don't want her to marry me because she thinks that's the only way to keep the one part in her life that hasn't changed."
"Do you love her?" Kes asked bluntly.
Unhesitatingly, Del said, "Yes."
"Does she love you?"
Just as unhesitatingly and with a soft smile, he replied, "Yes."
"Then ignore this old man's pestering and get married when you're ready."
"I think that I have at least five years on you, Kes."
"I'm old at heart." Kes' expression sobered again. "Just... just don't wait too long, all right? The war might be over but we never really know what’s next."
Del was still contemplating the other man’s words as the ladies returned, both with a drink in each hand.
“Did you stay out of trouble?” Shara asked, handing a glass of wine to Kes.
He winked at his wife. “Always, sweetheart.”
Iden pressed a glass into Del’s hand and he smiled at her and said softly, “Thank you. Mission proceeding well?”
She nodded and lowered her voice to match his. “Maybe we should consider a visit to the Yavin system in the future.”
“Sounds good,” Del said simply even though internally he was pleased. He loved Iden dearly but she was far better at inspiring loyalty than cultivating friendships. If she actually liked Shara… He took a drink from the tumbler to cover his silence. He’d have to thank the Force later for making sure their paths crossed with the Damerons’.
- Coruscant - 4 Years after the Battle of Endor
“I feel ridiculous,” Iden complained.
"You look nice," Leia Organa corrected her, stepping back and looking her up and down with a critical eye.
"I can look nice while also feeling ridiculous, Senator," Iden said, forcing herself not to shift uncomfortably. "I can count the number of times I've worn a dress on my fingers. I prefer a flightsuit."
"You're not getting married in a flightsuit, Iden. Anyways, I would have thought that you'd be comfortable in formalwear given your upbringing."
Iden shook her head. "I was enrolled in the military school on Vardos when I was a child. I wore a dress uniform of some sort for most of those events. No dresses or tiaras required."
The door slid open and a harried looking Shara appeared. "I'm really sorry that I'm late, Iden. Poe did not want to dress for the occasion. It took some negotiating."
"I know how that feels," Iden and Leia answered in unison.
Shara blinked and looked between them before shaking her head with amusement and immediately stepped forward to lightly embrace Iden. "You look radiant and Del's going to cry when he sees you. How are you doing?"
The corners of Iden's mouth twitched upwards before she looked away. "Managing." When planning the wedding, she'd had elected to draw from her mother's homeworld for her attire and if she was honest with herself, she could recognize that the red and gold fabric wrapped around her body and draped over one arm was becoming. The woman she saw in the mirror was beautiful but she just didn't... "I know I agreed to all of this but..." She regretted the trailing off sentence as soon as the words were out of her mouth and she saw Shara and Leia exchange looks.
Leia turned away, busying herself with something as Shara stepped forward and took both of her hands. "What's wrong?"
Iden forced herself to meet Shara's eyes. "I know that we're partially doing this for Del's parents and because he wants to make them happy but... It just doesn't feel like me."
Shara smiled. "That... that we can fix."
Confused, Iden frowned. "Shara, I--"
"Trust me," Shara cut her off, turning away to rummage in her bag for a moment before producing a small hold out blaster with a flourish. "Just pretend this whole wedding is a mission."
Iden looked at her dubiously. "A mission."
"A mission," Leia said, plucking the blaster from Shara's fingers. "And a mission obviously requires a hidden weapon. This I can help with. My mother was insistent that I know how to hide a weapon under my senatorial dresses... and that I know how to properly wear a tiara," she said with a wink. It took only a few minutes before Leia rocked back on her heels, smoothed Iden’s skirts back down, and looked critically at her work. "There. You can't even tell. No one will even know. Well," she corrected herself as she rose to her feet, "I'm sure Del's going to find out later."
Iden felt her cheeks flush red and Shara was absolutely no help as she snorted with laughter. It took another moment before even Iden was laughing and that was how Shriv walked into a room with the droid floating over his shoulder. He frowned suspiciously. “Do I even want to know?”
“No,” Iden said. “Probably not.”
“Good, don’t tell me.” Shriv shook his head, trying his best to look irritated. “So. Are you ready?”
“Is anyone ever ready for this?”
“Don’t ask me, I never got married.”
Shara draped an arm over the grumpy duro’s shoulders. “I’m sure we can find someone interested in a hero of the New Republic.”
Shriv said, “Oh don’t you start, Shara Bey.”
Taking advantage of the distraction, Leia stepped forward and took both of Iden’s hands in hers. “I know I’m going to sound like a hypocrite given how Han and I got married but remember: this is about you and Del and how you feel about each other. Nothing else matters today.”
Iden took a deep breath and managed a small smile. “Thank you. That does help. And thank you for being here. I know you’re busy.” She looked towards Shriv and Shara and raised her voice to include them. “Thank you all for being here.”
“We wouldn’t have missed it for the galaxy,” Shara said, stepping forward and brushing her lips against Iden’s cheek. The other two nodded their agreement.
Taking in another deep breath, Iden let it out slowly before nodding. “Well. I guess I’m ready then.”
She didn’t remember much of their actual wedding. Everything became a blur from the moment their ID-10 droid flitted down the aisle, rings grasped in one of his front arms, and Shriv walked her down the aisle to where Del waited beside Master Luke Skywalker who had agreed to officiate in a rare public appearance. (Not that their wedding really counted as being a public event.) From the look on Del’s face, he didn’t seem to be much more aware of everyone else in the room than her. As Skywalker started speaking, all of her worries melted away. Leia had been right: nothing else mattered right now except how much she loved this man, her partner in everything, with every fiber of her being. Any other day, she would’ve rolled her eyes at herself for how absurdly sappy she sounded but not today. Today it was okay.
Afterwards, if pressed, she remembered that they’d promised to love each other and stay together and support each other no matter what. They’d both had to bite back grins at those particular vows because they’d already done that on Vardos. And she remembered the smile on Skywalker’s face when he bowed his head slightly and proclaimed that in the eyes of the New Republic and the Force that bound everything all together, they were now husband and wife. She’d smiled then, truly smiled without restraint as she leaned forward and kissed her husband for the first time. It was only the cheers that finally brought them both back to their senses, both flushing at the attention. Regardless of what Shriv seemed to think, neither of them particularly cared for public displays of attention. Today though… today it was acceptable.
“You look beautiful,” Del murmured into her hair as they danced at their reception afterwards.
“Don’t expect to see an outfit like this again,” Iden said dryly, leaning into him a little.
She could feel him shake his head. “You’re beautiful even when we’re both wearing jumpsuits and covered in grime from the swamps of Nar Shaddaa.”
She laughed. “I already married you, Del. You don’t have to flatter me.”
He pulled back just enough so he could look her in the eye. “I’m not. I wouldn’t. Not like that.”
She held his gaze for a long moment before softly saying, “I know,” as she pressed a soft kiss against his lips.
The music changed to something more upbeat and then next thing she knew, Shara and Kes had swept them out of each other’s arms and into the larger group of their dancing friends. “You’ll have the rest of your lives to make those eyes at each other,” Kes said with a grin. “And tonight too.”
Iden didn’t even bother pretending to feign shock. They’d been friends for too long now. “Shara’s right. You are trouble.”
“Only the best kind,” Kes said with a wink.
A second later, their attention was stolen by the sight of six year old Poe dragging Shriv onto the dance floor, the duro protesting the entire time. “Definitely your son,” Iden said.
By the time the evening ended, she was exhilarated and exhausted as she and Del opened the door to their room for the evening.
“Let’s never get married again,” Del deadpanned, securing the door behind them.
Iden shot him a sidelong, suggestive glance. “I wasn’t planning on ever letting you go, Del Meeko.”
“Good,” Del said, voice low as he pulled her back into his arms and kissed her deeply.
She let him draw her further into the suite of rooms, mind entirely focused on getting them both undressed and into that overly large bed that awaited for them. Or at least she was until she caught sight of a plant sitting on a table. She pulled away and turned to look at it properly, her hands flying up to her mouth. “Oh!”
“Do you like it?” Del asked, shifting nervously beside her.
Slowly, Iden stepped towards the small, potted shin’yah tree, cautiously reaching out to lightly brush her fingertips against the red leaves. “I haven’t seen one since… How did you…”
“I called in a few favors here and there. I know we can’t take care of it properly on the Corvus but I thought that whenever we pick somewhere to call home… this could be a part of it.”
Words failed her and the only response Iden had was to kiss her husband again.
- Yavin 4 - 17 Years after the Battle of Endor
“Be nice,” Kes said mildly as they walked outside to greet their visitors.
Poe spread his hands defensively. "Why wouldn't I be nice?"
"Because I know you've got better things to do on your break than babysit a six year old while your old man goes and hangs out with some of his old war buddies."
"I'm glad you're seeing them. You need to get out more," Poe said honestly. He loved his father but he’d been horrible about leaving their house on Yavin 4 and living his life since his mother had died more than a decade ago. It took something like the Meekos visiting for him to actually live a little.
"I've been busy!" Kes protested. "Someone had to raise you."
"Yeah and I've been at the Academy for two years now so what's your excuse?"
Kes shook his head and sighed. “Teenagers.”
“Same thing.” Kes raised his voice as soon as their visitors were within earshot. “About time you three got here!”
“Don’t start, Dameron,” Iden Versio, the somewhat legendary commander of Inferno Squad, said. Somehow, he still had yet to get used to the small sense of awe he felt whenever in her presence. “We’re twenty minutes early.”
Her husband snorted. “The day Iden’s late for anything will be a hot one on Hoth.”
Before Kes could respond, the young child pulled her hand free from her father’s and ran to hug him enthusiastically, making him stumble backwards. “Hi Uncle Kes!”
“Hey there Zay!” Kes said, grinned as he hugged the girl back. “How you doing, kiddo?”
“The flight here was so long !” Zay proclaimed after she took a step back.
Del shook his head with amusement as he and Iden came to a stop before them. “Everything takes forever when you’re six. Don’t you miss these days, Kes?”
His dad grinned and reached out to tousle Poe’s hair. “I’ll trade you: this one’s in the Academy now and breaking hearts right and left.”
“Dad!” Poe protested, cheeks turning pink.
At least Iden seemed to be on his side. Or at least she kept a straight face as she reached out and shook his hand. “It’s good to see you again, Poe. I’ve heard good things about your studies at the New Republic’s Academy. Top of your class when it comes to starfighters.”
“I’m not bad,” Poe said modestly.
“I want to fly too!” Zay said, her smile making her look more like her dad than her mom.
“Not until you can wear an x-wing helmet without it falling off,” Del said, the words clearly habitual. He nodded to Poe. “Thanks for agreeing to keep an eye on her for the afternoon. I’m sure you have better things to do while you’re home.”
Poe shook his head. “Actually, this is a nice break from studying. My brain’s been full with nothing but astronavigation and protocol for weeks now.”
Zay nodded rapidly. “Yeah, it’s going to be fun. There are so many trees here!”
Iden frowned. “Zay. What happened the last time you climbed a tree?”
She wrinkled her nose. “I fell.”
“Right so no climbing trees then,” Poe said quickly. “Got it. Anything else or are you three going to keep avoiding having fun?”
“You’re way too enthusiastic about getting rid of us,” Kes said, shaking his head.
Del folded his arms across his chest. “He’s right though. Shall we?”
"Dio, stay with Zay," Iden ordered the small seeker droid as it detached from her back and flew down to hover over the girl's shoulder.
Poe raised an eyebrow. "What? You don't trust me?"
Iden matched him eyebrow raise for eyebrow raise. "I'm not so old that I don't remember how young, hotshot pilots are."
He put on his best innocent look. "I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about, ma'am."
"Careful, Poe," Del said, "or you'll have to back that talk up."
Poe's eyes lit up eagerly even as his father rolled his. "Fly against Commander Versio? Really?"
Immediately, Kes shook his head. "Oh no. We're not doing this today."
Del shrugged. "What? You're always saying what a good pilot Poe is. I want to see if he measures up to Inferno's standards."
"I bet I can!"
"We have plans , Del," Kes stressed the last word, ignoring his son.
Suppressing a smirk, Iden shrugged. "Maybe another time, Poe. Your dad's the commanding officer today."
"Maybe I should be worried about what you three are getting up to," Poe said, narrowing his eyes suspiciously.
"Don't worry about it," Kes said far too nonchalantly. "We'll be back in a few hours. Comm if you need us."
"Be good, Zay," Iden murmured quietly to her daughter as all three adults filed out of the house, bound for the city.
As it turned out, Zay was the one their parents should have been worried about.
They stared at each other, teenager and kid, neither entirely sure what to make of the other. Most of the time, Poe felt at ease in social situations. He'd figured out years ago (much to his dad's dismay) that he was naturally charming and it tended to get him out of trouble or get him in to trouble. It usually worked with people around his age or older. Clearly it didn't seem to have an affect on a six year old girl. "So. Kid."
"My name is Zay," she corrected him.
"I know that. Is it short for anything?"
"Okay then, Just Zay," he said with a cheeky smile that made her giggle. "So," Poe said, shoving his hands into his pockets. "What do you want to do?"
Zay looked up at him curiously and then cocked her head to the side. “Can we fly things?”
“Like in simulators?”
He shrugged. “Sure, but I’m not going to go easy on you just because you’re a kid.”
Rolling her eyes, Zay said, “My mom beats me all the time.”
It figured that Iden Versio wouldn’t go easy even on her own kid. “Okay, let’s go fly fake ships then.”
It turned out that Zay was actually way better at Flight Simulator Squadron than any six year old kid had any right to be. Poe had to actually pay attention. He still beat her most of the time but every now and then, she pulled off a win and grinned broadly at him at the race’s end. It was after one such victory when she turned to him and asked, "This is getting boring. Can we go see the ships?"
He frowned. "What ships?"
The look she gave him was one of pure disbelief. "The starfighters!"
"Why do you want to go see starfighters? Don't your parents have x-wings?"
She nodded. "Yeah but I want to see an a-wing." Zay enunciated each word deliberately.
Poe could feel his frown deepening. "How do you even know we've got an a-wing around here?"
"My mom said your mom used to fly one."
"Your mom talks about my mom?"
Zay nodded emphatically. "Yeah. She says Shara was really good at flying."
"Yeah," Poe said, expression serious, "yeah she was."
“So can we go see it then?”
He hesitated, torn between doing what was probably the right thing and wanting to show off the beautiful starfighter that probably qualified as an antique at this point. “Okay. But we’re just going to go look.”
The droid beeped at him in a way that sounded not entirely convinced.
The walk to the shared airfield wasn’t long even with Zay’s short legs making the distance go by much slower than usual. Her brown eyes went wide as soon as the starfighters came into sight. “Wow!” She leaned forward as if she was about to start running before stopping herself and looking up at him. “Can we get closer?”
“Yeah, kid, we definitely can,” Poe said. There was something about her enthusiasm that was infectious. It didn’t hurt that her brown eyes went wide and she squeaked a little as they stood beside the a-wing that had once belonged to Shara Bey. He even lifted her up so she could get a better look inside the cockpit.
What he wasn’t expecting was her next question after he put her down.
"Can we go fly it?"
He blinked and the droid made a warning whistling sound. "What?"
"Can we go fly it?"
"I don't think that's--"
Poe sighed and shook his head. "Zay, we can't. Your parents would murder me and I'm a little bit afraid of your mom."
The girl paused, seeming to take a minute to think about it before looking back up at him and smiling. "I won't tell."
"I..." he wavered and made the mistake of looking down in her big brown pleading eyes.
Under his breath, Poe muttered a curse, hoping that she didn't hear it. "Okay. Okay, fine. Let's get you a helmet first."
"Thank you!" she shrieked, throwing her arms around his waist and hugging him tightly, almost pushing him off balance. "Dio can be our astromech! He does it for Mom all the time."
Glancing up at the droid, Poe shrugged even as it blinked at him and made some combination of beeps that sounded like 'this is a bad idea.' "Yeah, you're telling me, buddy." He glanced around the hangar bay, hoping to spot something that was intended maybe for a different species that might fit a six year old better than one made for an adult human. Spotting one, he silently apologized to the owner as he snatched it from the shelf. Zay was bouncing from foot to foot, excitement radiating from her as he knelt before her and settled the helmet on her head. "Okay so you have to promise me that you're going to listen to me and that you won't touch anything unless I say so."
Zay nodded, the helmet bobbling a little. "Promise!"
Poe narrowed his eyes. "Promise what?"
"I promise I won't touch anything and I'll listen to you."
Dragging a hand down his face, Poe tried not to squirm in place before he finally just shook his head. “This is a bad idea but then again most of my ideas are. It’ll be fun.”
It only took a few minutes for him to go through the starfighter’s pre-flight sequence. He’d just checked her over and flown her the day before so at least he knew everything was safe. It took another few minutes for him and Zay to settle themselves in the cockpit and for him to adapt using the controls with another person in the way. At least he didn’t have to worry about needing to fire the ship’s weapons.
“Ready?” he asked, the words going from his helmet comlink into hers.
“Ready!” Zay said, sounding like she’d been waiting for this all of her life.
Poe loved flying. He knew he loved flying and yet somehow he always managed to forget exactly how much he loved flying until he was in the pilot’s seat and zooming towards the stars. There were a lot of things he could deal with losing in his life but flying? That wasn’t one of them.
From the sound of it, Zay seemed to love it too. “This is awesome!” she said through excited giggles as he took them through a couple of tight turns, accelerating out of each one.
“Fast, right?” Poe said.
“Way faster than x-wings!”
Kid was only six and already knew her stuff. It only took two seconds of deliberation before he decided to take them higher up out of the atmosphere and into space, smiling as the darkness enveloped them. Zay sucked in her breath and went quiet. “Still doing okay?”
“Yeah,” she whispered.
She nodded, a movement he felt more than saw. “It feels different from the Corvus .”
“It has to do with gravity,” Poe said, wracking his brain for a way to explain it to a six year old but she seemed okay with that. “Here, want to fly her with me?” He felt her nod again and he carefully put her small hands beneath his on the stick. “Don’t try and turn her a different way than me, okay?”
“Okay,” Zay said, tone serious before getting a note of mischief again. “Can we go fast again?”
Poe grinned. “Yeah. Yeah we definitely can.”
He wasn’t sure how much time had passed before he finally reluctantly had to say, “We have to land now.”
“Aww,” Zay said but offered no other argument. She just pulled her hands free from the stick and let him fly the a-wing back down to the planet.
There were three familiar people waiting for them as they guided the fighter back in towards the landing field. "Uh-oh," Zay whispered. "We're in trouble."
Poe winced. "We definitely are."
"Worth it though, right?" Zay asked, twisting around as much as she could to look up at him.
Despite himself, Poe grinned, unable to say no to that face. "Yeah, yeah it was."
"Can we do it again?"
"If our parents don't ship me off to the Outer Rim... maybe." Easing off the thrusters, he set the starfighter down gently. "Okay so what's our tactic here?" Zay frowned. "Plan of attack," he clarified, as they took their helmets off, "for making sure your parents don't kill us."
"Uhm." They both looked out the viewport and winced as they saw the less than amused faces waiting for them. "Say we're sorry a lot?"
That wasn't really a plan but it was better than nothing. "Okay, I'm your wingman then," Poe said, waiting for the cockpit to open and then lifting Zay out of the starfighter, holding on until she found her balance and then jumped out of the cockpit and down to the ground before setting her on the ground.
"Zay Meeko," Iden said, her stern voice ringing out clearly across the landing field. "What did I tell you about not getting into trouble?"
The girl, Poe had to admit to himself, was good. Seemingly ignoring her mother's mood, she ran towards her. "Mom, it was so much fun! A-wings go so much faster than x-wings!"
Poe winced. That was not how he would have started. Iden seemed to agree, arms folded across her chest. "Answer the question, Zay."
Zay slid to a stop a few feet away and sighed. "You said not to and we didn't. Poe's really good at flying!"
“Worst thing we did was borrow someone’s flight helmet without asking,” Poe said even though he really didn’t want to bring Iden’s attention towards him. He wanted to avoid it so badly that he didn’t even look in her direction as he spoke, instead looking towards Del who was doing a really bad job of hiding his amusement now that he’d been assured that everyone was fine.
“You didn’t tell us that we couldn’t go flying,” Zay said, drawing her mother’s attention back to her.
Kes snorted. “She’s got you there, Iden.”
“Shara was right about you being trouble,” Iden shot back although she seemed to relax the tiniest bit. She turned to Poe. “Did you follow all the proper flight procedures?”
“Yes ma’am!” he said before rattling off all of the preflight and postflight check lists. Dio even let out of series of beeps that sounded like confirmation. “And I’d just taken her out yesterday so I knew the ship was safe. Wouldn’t have taken Zay up there if it wasn’t.”
“That’s something at least.”
Del cleared his throat. “Zay, how about you promise that you’ll ask me or Mom before you go flying like that again?”
“Okay, Dad,” Zay said, grinning as she launched herself towards him in a hug.
Distracted, Poe didn’t even notice that Iden had moved towards him until she said, “As for you, flyboy, I guess you’re going to have to show me if you’re any good in a starfighter.”
Poe’s eyes went wide. “Right now?!”
“No,” Kes cut in. “After dinner. Or tomorrow. Food first and then you can knock Poe down a peg or two.”
“Your house, your rules,” Iden said with a nod, taking a step back. The corner of her mouth twitched upwards. “It’s okay, Poe. I’ll go easy on you.”
“She’s lying,” Del said, seeming to take pity on him. “She beats me in starfighters all the time.”
As they all made their way back towards the Dameron’s house, Zay fell into step with him, looked up, and loudly whispered, “Fun right?”
Poe grinned. “Yeah, Zay. Definitely fun.”
- The Unknown Regions - 30 Years after the Battle of Endor
It'd been years since they'd seen each other but the moment Poe spotted a familiar dark haired girl clambering out of a special forces TIE fighter, he dropped his helmet and ran across the hangar bay, ignoring BB-8's indignant beeps. "Zay!" he shouted. She immediately looked up and smiled a little when she spotted him. Closing the distance between them, he pulled her into a tight hug. "What are you doing here?"
"Answering the call," Zay said, taking a step back once they both let go. "Finally. We're just a little later than we meant to be. General Organa had a mission for us first."
"Us?" He frowned and glanced around the hangar, searching for the Corvus or any signs of older x-wings. "Are your parents here too?"
An eternally grumpy voice interrupted from above. "No, it's just me. Hi Shriv, nice to see you too. So glad you could make it."
Poe shook his head with amusement. "Hey Shriv. Welcome back."
"Thanks, Dameron,” the duros said, jumping and skipping the last few rungs. Ignoring the pilot, he turned back towards Zay and clapped her on the shoulders. “I’m going to go see about finding us quarters. Comm if you need me.”
Zay nodded. “Thanks, Uncle Shriv.”
Poe waited until Shriv had left before turning back to Zay. He didn’t know her well; they hadn’t exactly grown up together even though their families had remained friendly over the years. But she was a good kid and after so many deaths over the last few months, it was good to see familiar faces even when one of those faces was home to a pair of grief stricken eyes. “What happened?”
“You asked about my parents,” Zay said. “They’re…” She took a deep breath. “They’re gone. Both of them. Some old enemy of theirs got to Dad and then Mom…” She swallowed hard. “We were on a First Order Star Destroyer, getting the plans for their dreadnaught. She didn’t make it out.”
“I’m so sorry, Zay,” Poe said, feeling lame even as he said that. He knew what it was like to lose his mother. He couldn’t imagine losing both of his parents within days.
Zay shook her head, straightening back up and looking every inch her mother’s daughter. “Not your fault but thanks.”
Things began to click into place in his head. “The dreadnaught… General Organa never told me where the intel came from.” She frowned. “The First Order brought their dreadnaught with them when we were evacuating D’Qar. Zay, we took it out because of the plans you brought us.”
“Then she made it count,” Zay breathed, tearing up and quickly looking away. Poe pretended not to notice as she quickly dabbed at the corners of her eyes with the tail of her shirt. “Thanks, Poe. That would have meant a lot to Mom.”
“She saved us. You both did,” he amended.
“Just doing our part for the Resistance,” Zay said with forced cheerfulness that she definitely didn’t feel. No one around the base was exactly cheerful anymore not even as more allies slowly found their way here and she had more reason than most to feel despondent.
Awkward silence hung between them for a long moment before BB-8 interrupted it by barreling into them. “Whoa easy there, buddy!”
Out of seemingly nowhere, the little seeker droid detached itself from Zay’s back and zipped down to the astromech’s level. The seeker droid said something that Poe couldn’t quite follow but that made Zay shake her head with amusement. “Be nice, Dio.”
"Don't worry, BB-8 can hold his own," Poe said dryly before sobering again. "Listen, Zay, if there's anything you ever need, you come find me, okay? A squadron to fly with, someone to talk to... anything. I know we're not family or anything but your parents-- They were good people."
"Right now, I'll settle for you showing me where I can get food that's not rations from the Clone War era," she replied with a half smile.
Poe grinned. "That... that I can do. We had a bunch of new recruits come in from Agamar the other week and they brought food with them. Come on, kid."
"I'm not a kid anymore," Zay grumbled good-naturedly.
That made him pause. She was right. Anyone who'd seen as much war as she had wasn't a kid anymore but at the same time… “Nah, you’ll always be a kid to me,” Poe teased, nudging her in the ribs. “We’ll be old and gray and both heroes of the Resistance and I’ll still call you kid."
Almost despite herself, Zay smiled a little and Poe couldn’t help letting out the tiniest sigh of relief. This girl had steel in her spine like General Organa. He knew they weren’t actually family and that the two of them weren’t even all the particularly close; the large age gap meant they hadn’t seen each other all that often even though their parents had been good friends. But that didn’t matter now. She didn’t need it but he’d keep an eye on her anyways. Damerons and Meekos should look out for each other.