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for all this galaxy's good

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Premium Rebel hospitality, it turned out, was worlds away from Imperial luxury, but in a way that brought her an odd feeling of comfort. 

There were no sharp edges and military angles in the bed clothes. The storage spaces weren't crisp and polished, and the floor didn't gleam black or white. 

There was no view of the busy Coruscant skyline. No art on the walls.

Iden looked up at the sound of a quiet knock on her door. 

Well. The only person who was welcome here, at this time of the night, he had her pass code anyway. Occupied the adjoining room. 

"Iden?" 

She could barely hear him. 

"Come in." 

A momentary pause, then the sound of the lock whirring. The door slid open to admit him in, although he stepped over the threshold with cautionary reluctance. 

She sat up on the edge of the bed, tugging her remaining boot all the way off, looking over a shoulder his way just in time to catch him muffle a yawn. 

"Oh, um." Del smiled sheepishly when he caught her looking. "Sorry. My body knows it's tired but it won't let me fall asleep for some kriffing reason." 

She quirked an eyebrow. Something airy fluttered in her chest at the unfamiliar but not unwelcome sight of him in a grey sleepshirt and loose pants. In the apartment that Inferno Squad shared on Coruscant, she'd never caught him look so casual before sleep- but then again, with the Empire, every waking moment called on an officer to serve, or be prepared to serve. There simply wasn't the chance to strip out of all armour.

"Maybe it's the whole..." Iden gestured vaguely at the room surrounding them. "Rebel Base experience." 

The corners of his lips twitched up with mirth. "And you? You can fall asleep?" 

She pulled her hair free from its bun. "I never said that."

Del leaned against the door he'd come through, and he wasn't trying to be invasive, she knew, but she felt his gaze on her as her hair fell to her shoulders and as she started to unwrap her gloves. 

He wasn't staring. He was looking, with that impossibly fond look that crossed his features whenever his eyes settled on her in a moment of quiet. Her skin burnt wherever his eyes lingered. 

Iden took off her utility belt and laid it down on the floor beside her boots. Precise and neat. Next was her jacket and overshirt.  

"If you can't sleep," came Del's voice again, soft and a tad hesitant. "I can help with that." 

It took all of her willpower not to look up at him in alarm, but Del scented her panic and quickly raised his hands. 

"No! No, Iden, I don't...I don't mean it like that."

Her heartbeat was too fast under her ribs, but she understood now. Of course his offer had been only innocent. Neither of them were ready, or bold enough. 

"I meant, I can hang around and talk. Or if you'd prefer not to, I can go back, it's fine by me." 

She rested her elbows heavily on her knees, trying not to process a million things a minute. 

They'd left the Empire. They'd defected, the two of them, and now they both had to have the same emotions raging in their heads. Doubt. Uncertainty. Not about leaving, but... 

With the Empire, Iden knew where her future was going. Mission after mission until her fire burnt out, or perhaps until the end of the war, where she'd get a glowing commendation for her service if the Empire won, an expensive retirement plan reserved for when she could no longer serve. She would go down in the history that they wrote as the leader of Inferno Squad, an elite task force that helped quash out the rebellion. 

Not a long time ago, her life story seemed to have been written out for her, waiting for her to turn the pages. And she'd gone and ripped the pages out and set fire to the book. She had no idea what the future held now. 

Del's weight dipped the mattress beside her, a large hand gently encasing hers. Iden realised with a start that she'd been clenching her fists. 

"Just say the word." His eyes were open and unguarded. "I'll follow, wherever you go." 

Impossibly, Iden felt the beginnings of a smile forming on her features, and the beginning of heartache in her chest. 

What have I done to deserve you? 

She had no idea what the future held, but she wasn't the only one. 

"And I'll follow you," she promised, reaching up with her free hand to brush the hair from his eyes. "You're not alone." 

Del caught her hand, bringing it down between them. He pressed a fleeting kiss to her knuckles. "If I have my way, you'll never be alone." 

She would blame the flush of heat creeping onto her cheeks as a byproduct of the low air conditioning, less than she was used to, but it was hard to tell herself that anything other than Del Meeko could make her heart flutter like this. 

She bumped his shoulder chidingly. "Sap."

Del grinned, bright and unhinged, and she wanted nothing more than to kiss the smirk off his face. 

The Empire wasn't fond of acting on impulse. But they were no longer with the Empire. 

It took less than five seconds for Del to melt against her, ten for his arms to wind around her waist. 

His breathing was a little heavy when they drew back, but the grin was still there, much more subdued, a little triumphant. 

"Looks like it worked." 

She rolled her eyes, her own small smile belying her fondness. "Don't get cocky." 

"I would never," said Del solemnly, tugging her closer, kissing her forehead. 

There were no harsh Coruscanti lights outside the windows, no metropolitan traffic at this time of night. No military edges on the bed or art on the walls. 

Del, sentimental sap that he was, seemed content to just hold her in his arms, watching the new world outside the windows with her.

What did she have to be afraid of? She had everything she needed right here.