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Perfect Pretenders

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Dreams are heavy.

Din hates them most of the time, as most of the time, his involve his parents, or things he’s lost, or things he can’t ever expect to see again or have again.

This time, though, he’s not sure.

The skin on his face prickles with the breeze. The air is damp like all planets that have a high amount of water – and Sorgan definitely qualifies – but he doesn’t mind. His feet are bare, and his helmet sits next to him on the soft ground, the lake he’s checking out for the first time quiet and empty and he sighs, scrubbing hands over his hair and cheeks. Stubble. No ones sees him anyway, so it really doesn’t matter.

But he takes pride in being clean – most of the time – and makes a mental note to shave when he gets back to the village.

The sun is bright and warm and everything is perfect; too perfect, really. He feels perfectly balanced, not angry or sad, not too happy or too full or too hungry or tired or anxious. The land is gorgeous and well kept despite the absence of any town near the lake, and the kid is playing quietly – uh, what? – near him.

That should have been a sign something was weird in and of itself.

He should also feel awkward without the helmet in front of the kid.

Have you shown your face to any living being since taking the creed?

“No,” he says, and realizes he’s spoken aloud. The word echoes through the air and sky, and suddenly there’s clouds, and rain drops onto him out of nowhere. His armor pings with the touch of it, and he turns his face upward, briefly, and lets it fall onto his skin.

Anything is nice. It’s been a long time.

The kid makes a plaintive cry, and Din turns to him – the helmet still at his side, and the kid freezes, staring at him, huge eyes even huger. The rain makes dark stains on the kid’s robe and Din stands, stretching out his arms, to shelter the little thing, instinct kicking in (foundlings are the future)

and Omera is there too, standing in her nicest dress, her hair plaited with blue ribbons, and her face is shocked and wide, mimicking the kid’s expression. He straightens slowly, and his hands fall to his sides. The rain lightens, but it still falls, wet and suddenly miserable, not nice anymore.  He should want to scramble for the helmet, but he's frozen, watching them both.

“Omera,” he says, and feeling her name on his bare lips is almost a physical shock. She opens her mouth to speak, but only a small sounds comes out.

It’s been a long time.

Have you shown your face, Djarin? Ever?

No.

This is the way.

How long has it been since he’s said his name? To anyone? To himself?

The kid squeaks and Omera reaches down and picks him up. “He’s scared,” she admonishes, finally speaking. “He’s alone. He needs you. He’s too young to understand what’s happening to him.”

The sky is black.

“I’m sorry,” he murmurs. “I hadn’t meant for this to happen this way. For any of it.”

“I can care for him,” she says, and the rain stops. The world around him tilts, and the sun is out, and he looks down at himself and he’s clad in the garb of people from her village, his helmet and armor gone. Strangely enough, he doesn’t feel worry or shame.

Her smile is blinding. “We can care for him together.”

He nods and steps forward. “I’d like that.” He raises a hand and touches her shoulder. She’s warm under her blue dress. It’s weird without the gloves but he still doesn’t care. The sun is just like it had been on Aq Vetina, perfect and glowing and just warm enough – Omera meets his eyes and takes the step that is separating them. “We can care for each other,” she murmurs. “You can show me the real you.”

Have you ever shown your face, Djarin?

He blinks and shoves that thought back, to that dark place he locks the stuff that’s defined him – for at least the second part of his life. He squints up at that sun again, and remembers some other things, some touches that he also keeps hidden in another safe place.

His mother’s smile had been just as kind as this woman’s, and he’s been alone so damn long. Even if he’s used to it; even if it’s what the creed says is the way.

The answering smile on his own face grows, and although rusty, it feels real and the kid (his kid?) coos and Omera leans forward and he – he – his lips – hers – the wind in his short hair – the sun and the kid and maybe, just maybe this would be worth leaving the –

And he wakes up.

And he knows what he has to do. He’ll tell Cara later, and then speak to Omera about the possibility of the kid having a real life. Not the life of an orphan raised by a bounty hunter.

He swings his legs over the cot he’s been sleeping on, and slides hands over his face before he picks up the helmet, fingering the ice cold beskar and feeling the quality working of the shape of it. It means everything.

He looks out the window and sees Omera, stretching her long arms to the dawn sky before bending and retrieving a fallen doll one of the children must have left behind the day before. He keeps himself in shadow, knowing she can’t see him. She turns toward the hut anyway.

He slips further to the edge of the curtains.

What if he stayed?

He closes his eyes, the dream fading, his normal surety knocking at his brain, a stranger for the first time in his life since the Mandalorians had found and saved him.

~