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Next of Kin

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The base on Yavin Four is overwhelming - Luke’s never been around so many people for such an extended period of time. If it weren’t for Biggs walking him through every step of getting registered - the flight sims, requisitioning gear, the paperwork - Luke’s pretty sure he’d have gotten lost or just wandered outside, to stare at the trees (they’re so much taller than he ever imagined).

“It’s so loud,” Luke says to Biggs, leaning in so he doesn’t have to shout. “How does anyone sleep?”

“Same way you can sleep through a sandstorm raging outside. You just do,” Biggs replies blithely, grabbing Luke’s elbow and navigating them around a bunch of spare engine parts that are just sitting in the hangar bay. “Hey, you’ll get to used it, I promise.”

Luke’s dubious and it must show on his face because Biggs laughs.

“Little different than Tosche Station, huh?” he asks, leading Luke down some hallway.

“No kidding,” Luke agrees.

“Alright, last stop, then you’ll be set,” Biggs says, walking them into some makeshift office space. “Sir,” he says, addressing the officer behind the desk, “this is Luke Skywalker, the new pilot being placed on Red Squadron. We’ve got his forms for you.”

“Oh,” says the officer, her three eyes widening with interest, “so you’re the one who helped get the Princess off the Death Star.”

Luke shrugs, the back of his neck prickling with discomfort. “It was kind of an accident, honestly. She mostly rescued us.”

Biggs tries to cover his snort of laughter with a cough and utterly fails. The officer seems amused.

“That sounds like her highness,” she agrees. “Regardless, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Lieutenant Zali’ya and I’m in charge of the X-Wing fleet’s personnel negotiations. So if you run into any issues, say with your squadron leader or fellow pilots, you can come to me and I’ll find a way for us to work through that together.”

Luke nods, thankful for the way the Lieutenant manages to exude confident competence even surrounded by piles of datachips. “Thank you,” he murmurs, because that seems like the correct response.

Lieutenant Zali’ya smiles briefly and looks down at the forms Biggs has handed her, making a clicking sound of disapproval.

“Of course they forgot,” she mutters. “Only the most important part. Well, no worries, we’ll do that now.” She looks back up at Luke and asks, “In the event of a medical emergency or in the case you’re declared missing or killed in action, who would you like informed?”

"Well, I mean, the, the command center will know, right?" Luke asks, trying to get his mind around the question - it's puzzling somehow, out of his grasp. "If something happens to me?"

(Someone would tell Leia, surely, if he died. Knowing that feels significant, for some reason.)

"Yes," Lieutenant Zali'ya agrees, kind-eyed and careful in her speech. "The command center would be informed. This is for your family and friends. Who would you like us to contact? Who is your next of kin?"

For a moment, Luke's half-amused at himself, for misunderstanding such a simple question, one that's asked all the time on the homesteads - who are your people, where are you from? And then following only half a step behind - the scent of acrid smoke, ash beneath his boots.

"I don't - I don't have anyone to tell," Luke says, blankly.

Lieutenant Zali'ya blinks and dips her chin a little - a gesture of sympathy, maybe. Luke doesn't think he's ever seen someone of her species before. He keeps thinking he's going to wake up back at home.

"I don't," Luke says, testing it out, "have any next of kin."

Biggs squeezes his shoulder and leans in. "Yes," he says steadily, "you do. He wants word sent to Alina and Evet Whitesun of the Anchorhead Freeholding on Tatooine," Biggs informs Zali'ya, who in turn looks at Luke in askance.

Luke swallows and nods. "Yeah, yeah, Biggs is right - that's my aunt's family. It's gonna, um, it's gonna be hard to get in contact with them, probably. The holonet goes down a lot, on the homesteads?" He's rambling, but can't stop himself. "But if you can get a message to Tosche Station and say it's for them, then they should get it."

"Tosche Station, Tatooine, for Alina and Evet Whitesun," Zali'ya repeats, entering the information. "Thank you, that's all we need."

She stands then and gazes down at him. She looks - no, it's more that somehow, in that way that's always been there for Luke, before Ben Kenobi ever gave him the words to describe it, she feels gentle, a little sad.

"Welcome to the Rebel Alliance, Ensign Skywalker. I think you'll do just fine." She smiles, firmly, and bows her head just slightly.

Luke stands too, and copies the gesture, because he was raised to be mostly polite to strangers, so long as they weren't trying to kill you. "Thank you, sir."

Once they've walked out into the hall, Biggs reaches up and ruffles Luke's hair, and Luke instinctively scowls - there Biggs goes again, treating Luke like a kid - and something feels like it's clicked back into place, like when Luke knows he's got a vaporator working again.

"C'mon, let's get some food in you," Biggs says.

"Food sounds good," Luke agrees.