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i guess i'll know when i get there

Chapter Text

Bodhi’s never been suited to combat.

He’s best in the pilot’s seat, to be sure, but never when he’s also supposed to have his finger on the trigger. Probably why he never made it to TIE fighter training in the Academy. But that’s always been just fine; flying cargo shuttles didn’t mean a whole lot of action, usually, though he tries not to think too hard about the times that it did. And for the Rebellion—well, he knows they need pilots, has seen as well as anyone the losses at Scarif and Yavin. But in simulations, he keeps flying into battles too shaky to ever actually hit anything, his hands slippery with sweat and clenched so hard around the control stick that he’ll find the imprint of its contours on his palms.

(Even in the simulation of the Battle of Scarif, he can’t take out the TIEs that swarm the cruisers and pin down his team. His friends.

He’d stumbled out of the simulator after that one, choking back the horror of what-might-have-been. Cassian and Jyn were there, in the corridor outside the training room, and he’d really almost thrown up, then.

“I can’t,” he managed, finally, sitting down on the floor with his back to the wall, rubbing his face with a hand. “I can’t kill anybody.” He’d looked up, and the understanding in Cassian’s eyes was almost worse than the disappointment in Jyn’s.)

Flying—dodging Star Destroyer fire, spiralling fast through tight canyons, those are things he can do. Just—if the Rebellion wants him to fight, he’ll need a gunner, and there’s hardly any of them to spare.

So it’s U-wings and other transport ships for Bodhi, mostly, running troops back and forth across the Fleet with a rotating series of co-pilots he likes but can’t always name. Sometimes the generals ask him for intelligence on this or that Imperial maneuver, and it’s still a complete wonder that the Rebellion takes him at all seriously, treating him as if shuttling their people across the galaxy is as important as anything. Maybe it is; he gets to see some High Command staff from time to time, and once, has the distinct honor of flying Mon Mothma herself.

He crosses paths with the newly-formed Rogue Squadron on occasion, and shares a couple of drinks with Wedge Antilles, who’s funny, and kind, and puts him in mind of a happier and wiser Misurno, the flight instructor who'd called Bodhi his best friend. But he never gets to see the man who had destroyed the Death Star, the moisture farmer who came out of nowhere to put Rogue One’s stolen plans to their ultimate use.

Bodhi wonders what Luke’s like. If growing up on Tatooine was anything like growing up on Jedha, endless sand and howling frigid winds, holding onto life by the edges and praying. The sense-memory of Jedha rises up in his throat, the taste of his mother’s cooking on his tongue, and he has to remember to breathe, thinking of his home obliterated, buried under tons of unyielding stone.

Thinking about Alderaan is, in a way, much, much harder.

( They’d limped after the Tantive IV and its pursuant Star Destroyer, only to lose them, and after a day searching the closest hyperspace lanes, had scrambled back to Yavin to prepare for the worst. Chirrut had known first, somehow, even before the reports started streaming in; he’d been standing off to the side in the command center, just listening like usual, and then, abruptly, collapsed. Baze, the ever-vigilant, had barely caught him in time.

Then they’d heard, and despite everything Jyn and Cassian and Bodhi himself had known, had seen, of the power of the Death Star—the destruction of Alderaan is a thousand times worse for lack of watching it happen.

“I failed you,” Bodhi had whispered, staring at nothing, sick.

But then Princess Leia had returned, with a farm boy and a smuggler and a Wookiee, and they’d all barely made it out alive—but they were alive—)

—A farm boy and a smuggler and a Wookiee who don’t look like everything they touch turns to ashes.

Bodhi’s wary of Han Solo; the streets of Jedha City had nearly run red with his type underfoot. Of course, in the end, that hadn’t mattered, but old habits, like being excessively careful about landing next to the Falcon, start to creep back into his behavior. Plus, he keeps hearing that there’s still a bounty on Solo’s head that far outstrips the one on his.

(Wedge said, “You’re a bigger target than me, Bodhi. I just flew away, but you—you stole more than yourself.”

He’d almost have gone home with Wedge, that night, if he hadn’t caught the glimmer of hero-worship in the X-wing pilot’s eyes. It wasn’t right—he’d cost the Rebellion so much, just because he’d thought he could stop it.)

So. The farm boy.

Rumors in the mess, in the busy dark corridors of the base, and even in High Command are that he’s Anakin Skywalker’s son, the chance for a new Jedi Order. Chirrut won’t reveal anything when Bodhi tries to pry into what the Guardian knows or might have learned through the Force, only taps his staff against Bodhi’s chest. “What have you learned about putting your faith in one man?”

Bodhi shivers at that, has to push away a fragmented, blurry memory of shouting and pain and a sky of falling stone. “Okay,” he says. “I get it.”

Chirrut turns his face to the sky. “Have hope, Bodhi. Trust in the Force that surrounds us all.”

Baze leans down from where he’s sitting on a plasteel container. Knowing him, it’s probably full of explosives. “It’s all right if you don’t,” he tells Bodhi. “He says things like this all the time.”

“I don’t know if I do,” Bodhi says, in response. “I mean—we survived—but what about all the people who didn’t?”

(Galen’s body on a platform on Eadu, surrounded by flames and the engineers he’d tried to save.)

Chirrut says, “All is as the Force wills it,” and that, apparently, is supposed to be enough.

And then, the last day they’re based on Yavin IV, Bodhi walks out of the U-wing, finally satisfied with the results of his diagnostic, at the same moment Luke Skywalker jumps down from of his X-wing, knocking them both to the ground.

Chapter Text

Bodhi goes down hard, sprawled awkwardly on his side, the wind knocked out of him, like the percussive force of an explosion. His left arm wrenches under him, and the permacrete scrapes his already-scarred wrist, a lightning-fast jolt of pain. He registers Luke hastily rolling off his body and standing, a blue-and-white astromech sidling up next to him.

“Are you all right?” Luke is bending down, wiping a hand on his pants before offering it to pull him up. “Stars, I didn’t see you coming out of there.”

He takes the proffered hand in his less-injured right and climbs unsteadily to his feet. “Yeah,” he says, checking his hands for abrasions and finding only a few, nothing he can’t fly with. “Yeah, I’m okay.”

And then he looks up.

For once, his words flee as he stares at the other man; Luke is shorter than he’d expected, practically of a height with Bodhi himself—but that’s where the similarities end. He’d have stood out in any corner of Jedha City just for his pale skin and blond hair, but the real difference is his open, utterly guileless face.

He’d have been eaten alive by the occupation of Jedha.

We’re not the same at all.

“I’m Luke Skywalker,” Luke introduces himself, not seeming to recognize how completely unnecessary that is with the lightsaber swinging from his belt. “You’re Bodhi, Bodhi Rook? The pilot who saved the Rebellion without firing a single shot?” The astromech at his side beeps a confirmatory noise, saving Bodhi from having to answer—it’s scanned Bodhi without him noticing, and his face is probably on file somewhere, after everything.

Luke’s smiling at him, and Bodhi realizes he hasn’t let go of Luke’s hand. He lets it drop, swallowing uncomfortably. “You’re a hero—should’ve been up there with me and Han getting those medals,” Luke says.

“I—no, that’s not what I did any of it for,” Bodhi protests. “And I was part of the team—Rogue One—that’s all of us—”

“I want to hear about it,” Luke presses. “The battle, how you flew the cargo shuttle to rescue everybody. It must have been great.”

Bodhi recoils from his exuberance. “It was terrible,” he mutters. “I was only trying to do the right thing.”

Luke’s brow furrows in confusion. “You did, and you saved—”

“I have to go,” Bodhi interrupts him. “I’m sorry—it was nice to meet you—” and walks away as fast as he can without looking like he’s fleeing outright.

“Wait!” Luke calls after him, but he pretends not to hear. It was bad enough, the way Wedge had looked at him; he doesn’t think he can bear it again.

*****

“He doesn’t understand,” Baze says, a little while later, in a U-wing on their way to Thila Base, their original Rogue One team reunited briefly for the ease of keeping track of them all in the chaos of evacuation. Bodhi is already regretting having said anything about meeting Luke Skywalker, about how he ran away from a simple conversation about the war. “He is young.”

“Bodhi is young,” Kaytoo points out, unhelpfully, from the co-pilot’s chair. “Bodhi is approximately twenty-five Galactic Standard years old.” He turns—“You haven't informed me of your birthday,” he admonishes Bodhi.

“You going to buy me a present?” Bodhi asks.

“No.”

“You just want to keep track of the ceaseless passage of time until we all die and you’re left alone at long last?”

Yes.” Kaytoo sounds pleased that Bodhi understands.

“I’m saying, Bodhi, you have seen many battles. From the wrong side of the war, perhaps, but you have more experience than Luke Skywalker,” Baze continues, as if he and Kaytoo had not spoken. “He will come to understand as you do, as you learned in the battles we have fought together.”

(The first time—all he was ever supposed to do was transport cargo. He shouldn’t have even been close to getting in the middle of a firefight, but there were rebels on the ground, who’d recognized the Imperial profile of his shuttle, or seen him in uniform managing the delivery. Something. He’d put every last bit of his training into staying clear of the particle bolts, cursed the defective shielding as the hull lit up with a corona of flame like something out of myth, and prayed.)

He has to make himself focus on the swirling glow of hyperspace, breathe slowly.

Luke Skywalker doesn’t deserve this. He should stay fearless.

Kaytoo looks at Baze. “Aren’t you always with the blind one?”

Baze shrugs. He's less imposing without his repeater cannon, more like the men who used to smoke and play sabacc in Jedha City. “Chirrut is telling stories of my youth again. I did not need to hear them.”

“What if he retells something incorrectly?” Kaytoo asks. Baze actually looks concerned at that, brow furrowing darkly, and turns back to the aft compartment.

Kaytoo leans over conspiratorially to Bodhi. “I guessed that you didn't want to hear more of his stories.”

Bodhi blinks at him. “Kaytoo—”

“Your elevated heart rate and dilated pupils indicate a state of anxiety,” Kaytoo explains. “I have observed you in a similar state multiple times over the last six months.”

“You’ve been watching me?”

“I've been watching all of you. It is part of my protocol to monitor the health of my teammates as well as to calculate the odds of your continued survival,” Kaytoo says. “You should know, Cassian and Jyn also exhibit similar symptoms, mostly when they look at each other, right before they kick me out of their quarters.” He tilts his head; hunched-up as he is, it gives him the appearance of a beakless rock vulture. “But I don't think they are anxious.”

Bodhi glances over his shoulder at Cassian and Jyn, seated next to each other in the back of the ship, their legs touching from foot to thigh. Jyn is laughing at something Chirrut says, and Baze grumbles as he straps in beside his own partner. “No, I don’t think so,” he agrees, feeling a little envious.

“You can talk to me about it,” Kaytoo says, unconvincingly.

Bodhi looks at him sharply. “I really don’t think so.”

“Good,” Kaytoo says, sounding relieved. “I wasn't designed to be this empathetic. I am much better at killing things. In fact, my service record shows that I have killed—”

“Blast, Kaytoo, can we maybe just fly in silence for a little while, please?”

Kaytoo subsides for half a minute. “Cassian likes it when I talk,” he mutters, sullen.

“I’m not Cassian,” Bodhi says, unnecessarily—

(—Cassian carrying a blaster rifle in a sniper configuration, intending to kill Galen Erso, and he’d known, had done nothing to stop it, had gone back to the ship as ordered—)

“No, you are not.”

Chapter Text

There’s little time to try to settle in at Thila.

Cassian leans into Bodhi’s cramped quarters one morning, and says, “We need you to take us to Kerev Doi.”

Bodhi looks up from where he’s been tinkering with a conversion module, trying to figure out how to squeeze out a little more power without overloading it. It’s the kind of work he can do alone, away from the press of pilots and mechanics crowding the hangars like mynocks. “Nice to see you too, Cassian.” He pushes his goggles up and smiles faintly at his friend.

“Sorry. Hi. In a rush.” Cassian steps in and lets the door slide closed behind him. He’s dressed to blend into crowds, like usual, his blaster well-concealed under his jacket, but obvious to anyone who knows him. “Can you take us?”

“You, Jyn, anybody else?” Bodhi asks.

Cassian frowns at him. “How’d you guess—Kaytoo’s coming.”

“Kerev Doi’s an Imperial world,” Bodhi observes.

Cassian’s smile goes crooked. “Yeah. You in?”

“I can clear my shifts,” Bodhi says, putting down his tools in an attempt to hide the way his hands tremble at the thought of possibly going into battle. “Is this mission from Intelligence, or is Jyn putting you up to going rogue again?”

“Intel,” Cassian says. “We’re going to try to convince a smuggler to turn informant for the Rebellion.”

“And they’re not sending Solo?” Bodhi is relieved that it's so simple—less chance of any of his friends trying to push a blaster into his hands—and a little angry at himself for thinking of it that way. To cover, he turns away to pull his flight jacket on, thinks about it for a moment, and gets his old Imperial flightsuit out, holds it up inquiringly to Cassian.

Cassian nods at the flightsuit with approval, so Bodhi wads it up and tucks it under his arm. Not until I absolutely have to. “He’s already out trying to stop negotiations between the Empire and the Hutts.”

“What, is it Smuggler's Week?”

“Guess so,” Cassian says, and shrugs. “Let’s go. Kaytoo and Jyn are meeting us at our shuttle.”

Bodhi’s breath catches in his throat. Our shuttle means only one ship in particular, and he hasn’t flown it since they escaped from Scarif. He hasn't been able to stand looking at the scars of blaster fire on its hull.

(The ring of the grenade as it hit the metal deck, bounced once, twice—)

“You okay?” Cassian is touching his arm uncertainly.

“Yeah.” Bodhi shakes his head a little, as if to clear it. “Kerev Doi, in and out. No problem.”

*****

So of course there’s a fucking Star Destroyer parked in orbit around Kerev Doi, sending shuttles down to the garrison on the planet’s surface.

Cassian, standing behind Bodhi’s chair, curses softly. “They’re ahead of schedule. Sorry, Bodhi, reinforcements weren’t supposed to be here yet.”

Heart pounding, Bodhi forces his hands to stay still on the controls. “I think I can get us past if I tell them we’re troops that deployed late from the Imperial Center,” he says.

Cassian taps the back of his chair. “Do it. Kaytoo, slice our logs to match.” He looks up—“Someone did remember to change our transponder code after Scarif, right?” Bodhi nods.

“Trouble?” Jyn asks, coming up from below.

“Nothing our favorite pilot can't handle,” Cassian says, resting a hand on Bodhi’s shoulder. 

It works, hardly any questions asked—the destruction of the Death Star and the Scarif base have seriously compromised the Empire's databases, and the comms officer sounds harried as he confirms their ID. After that, it's only a matter of minutes before Bodhi's touching down in the surface of Kerev Doi, a short distance outside town, but out of range of the main Imperial garrison's sensors.

“We’re meeting our smuggler at the Blue Convor,” Jyn says, as they gear up to depart. “It’s a nightclub, supposed to be nice.” She’s saying it to Bodhi, but her gaze is entirely directed at Cassian. “Probably can’t go in dressed like this.”

Kaytoo looks her up and down. “I’ll never understand the human fascination with fashion.” Then he taps his chest with a finger, thoughtfully. “Do you all look at me like I’m naked?”

Bodhi turns his gaze up at him, mildly aghast. “I do now.”

“We could steal you an officer’s uniform,” Cassian says to him, ignoring Kaytoo. “Since apparently only Imperial officers are allowed to carry blasters into the club. And you might know best how to act the part.” 

It's an offer; Bodhi licks his lips, pointing out quickly, “You wore the uniform before.” Too quickly —Jyn is frowning at him a little.

“Fair enough,” Cassian agrees easily. He frowns at Bodhi then, too, and says, “Got a cover ID for me?”

Bodhi digs in his jacket pocket and pulls out a stack of Imperial IDs. He fans them out over the console. “Take your pick.”

“We’ll need Imperial credits, too,” Jyn points out, and he nods, reaching into another pocket to present her with a handful of credit chips.

“Bodhi, where did you get all that money?” Kaytoo asks. “And the IDs?”

“Play sabacc with me sometime and I’ll show you,” Bodhi replies, and smiles, for the first time in what feels like forever.

“Oh,” Kaytoo says, sounding surprised. “Okay. I’ll bring the cards.”

Cassian looks at them and gives a little shake of his head. “Kaytoo cheats,” he says.

“Since you're going to want me to go retrieve a new uniform for you, perhaps you shouldn't be spilling all my secrets,” Kaytoo mutters, huffily.

*****

Cassian and Bodhi sit in the shuttle and wait, while Kaytoo and Jyn go shopping—and “shopping.” After twenty minutes in companionable silence, Bodhi calculating hyperspace vectors for their trip back to Thila Command, while Cassian taps away at a datapad—probably paperwork related to his last mission—Cassian sighs, puts his feet up on the console and leans back.

“What did you do with your medal?” he asks. “I didn’t see it out in your quarters when I came by, earlier.”

Bodhi glances at him—Cassian’s gazing out the viewport at Kerev Doi’s soot-stained sky, affecting casualness. “Is that what people do? Hang them up on display?”

Cassian turns his head to look at him. “Some people,” he agrees. “Not us.”

“What did you do with yours?” Bodhi asks.

“Stuffed it in a drawer in our quarters,” Cassian says, letting the smallest of smirks slip along with the “our.

Bodhi smiles at him, genuinely happy for his friends. “Bunking together at last, huh? About time, Cassian.”

“Yeah.” Cassian lifts his eyes back up to the sky. “Jyn—she saved me, you know? Her, and you. I’d have—I don’t know what would have become of me, in the end.”

In the face of that murmured confession, Bodhi is quiet, thinking of a small, dirty cell on Jedha, and the man beside him now, whispering ruthlessly through its bars. Then he says, “I’m going to bury my medal on Eadu, when the war’s over.”

Cassian's face stills, and he looks like he’s going to say something more, but there are footsteps in the hold, and he turns to point his blaster to cover the ladder—

“Just us,” Jyn says, poking her head up from below. “Come get changed.”

Down in the cargo hold, wearing clothes he’d never have picked out on his own—crisp collar, all sharply refined edges, nothing like the padded shapelessness of his flightsuits—Bodhi looks down at himself, askance. “Did you spend all of my credits?”

Jyn shakes her head; under her heavy cloak, her sleeveless dress is cut low and clingy, and over her shoulder, he catches Cassian smiling to himself as he pulls the officer’s jacket on. “The exchange rate’s pretty bad, but I saved you a little something for next time,” she says, tucking the remaining credit chips into Bodhi’s pocket.

“Little’s right,” Bodhi says, mournfully, feeling the diminished weight there.

“Maybe there’ll be a sabacc table in the club,” Jyn offers.

Cassian tugs the brim of his cap down. “No time for that,” he says, handing around Bodhi’s cloak. “Let’s go.”

Kerev Doi is—not what Bodhi expected of a spice world, but exactly what he expected of another world under the boot of the Empire. The people who don’t turn away from Cassian’s Imperial disguise and Kaytoo’s deliberate gait look at them with dead eyes, an expression Bodhi had seen all over Jedha—and in the mirror, for far too long. Even the air seems wrong; the sky is a dirty, hazy pink. He guesses it must have been beautiful, once. 

The Blue Convor is the only lively thing about the place. Music streams out of its open door, and Cassian is about to step inside when the bouncer puts an arm out to bar them. She looks up—and up. “No killer droids,” she snaps.

Kaytoo actually sags a little at that. “I guess I’ll wait out here,” he says. “No one ever wants to buy me a drink, anyway.”

Inside, shrugging off his cloak and handing it to the attendant droid, it takes a moment for Bodhi’s eyes to adjust to the dim, smoky interior. The club is nice—circles of low, well-cushioned couches around tables lit by tiny levitating candle droids. There’s even hanging flowers overhead, belying the barrenness of the world outside. An oasis—but there’s no chance of Bodhi forgetting what’s just beyond the door, not when it puts him so much in mind of the wasteland the Empire had made of his home.

Cassian slings an arm around each of their shoulders, like they’re his, directing them subtly down into the lounge. Bodhi can’t stop himself; he relaxes and leans into the physical contact for a second. Then he catches Jyn’s narrowed scrutiny from under Cassian’s other arm and jerks back, averting his eyes. 

Their contact is a black-haired human sitting at a corner table, a half-empty glass in front of him, whose gaze flits over every corner of the room and back again, before settling on them.

“Talon Karrde?” Cassian asks, quietly, as they approach.

The man nods. “Captain Andor. Nice uniform.” He takes them all in, his expression growing amused. “Didn't realize I rated a costume party. Pull up a seat.”

Cassian sits across from him, gesturing for Bodhi to slide onto the couch next to Karrde. Jyn drapes herself over Cassian’s lap, looking harmlessly decorative—except for her eyes, which scan the club as sharply as the smuggler had.

“I’ll make this short, so you can enjoy yourselves,” Karrde says. “I have no interest in your war.”

A shiver runs down Bodhi's spine at that—it's an echo of things he's thought or said, before.

(At the Imperial Academy, keeping his head on his studies, just trying to graduate so he can get a job. With a copilot on a cargo run who was overzealous about the glorious Empire, and was disappointed when Bodhi didn’t sing the Emperor’s praises.

What he might have said to himself about why he didn't want to ask Galen about his work.)

“My only interest is in turning a profit.” Karrde leans back, rests an arm casually along the back of the couch—“And, I’ll be honest, knowing who you are, the quickest way for me to do that, right now, is to turn you all into the Imperials.” His gaze goes from one person to the other, coolly appraising.

Bodhi’s mouth goes dry. But he manages to say, even he’s never been good at persuading anyone of anything, “Please—please don't do that.”

And then he freezes, seeing Cassian’s hand drift along Jyn’s thigh to the holster on his own hip. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Cassian says.

This was supposed to be simple—

“And I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Karrde replies, lips curving in a sardonic smile as he glances across at the motion of Cassian’s hands. “Fire a single shot, even dressed like an officer, and you’ll have the local garrison on you in a heartbeat.”

Jyn puts her hand on the table and leans forward, the neckline of her dress gaping, shadowy. “And what’ll Imperials do when they find the head of the Car’das smuggling organization sitting here with us?”

“Hear us out, at least,” Bodhi adds, trying to keep the panic out of his voice as he gestures to his friends.

Karrde looks at him, and he can read the question in the smuggler’s eyes—how can someone this jumpy be part of an Intelligence team? Karrde goes on—“I could buy my way out of here.” But he relaxes minutely, and waves for them to make their pitch, as if the exchange of threats were simply a normal greeting.

“So you’re rich,” Jyn says, as Cassian settles back down warily. “Think of the Alliance as investors. Long-term. We can set up a line of credit for you, but we’ve got other assets to offer besides money.”

Karrde opens his right hand where it rests on the couch near Bodhi’s shoulder. “Please, enlighten me.”

Cassian has one hand idly stroking up and down Jyn’s bare arm, almost as if he doesn’t know he’s doing it. “Protection from the Empire.”

The smuggler's dismissive snort sets off a wave of hot anger in Bodhi, and he has to look away. “Try something a little less ephemeral, Captain Andor.”

“Immunity from prosecution for you and your organization,” Cassian immediately follows up.

Karrde shakes his head. “You got that? With Admiral Ackbar in the High Command?”

Jyn’s lips twitch. “He was overruled.”

The smuggler sighs. “Look, I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but I can’t throw the lot of my entire organization in with a losing proposition,” Karrde says, as if that explains everything. “I’m responsible for a lot of people whose lives depend on my continued neutrality.”

Jyn and Cassian exchange unreadable glances.

“I don’t understand,” Bodhi says, into their silence, even though they probably have a plan and he’s about to ruin it, possibly get them all hauled into custody or killed.

“Bodhi,” Cassian says in warning, but he ignores it, and launches in—

“How can you sit there and do nothing?” His voice is rising, and he can’t seem to stop it, not even for the heads that are starting to turn their way. “Because you’re responsible? The Empire is responsible for destroying an entire world—a Core world—they’ve ruined Mid-Rim planets, Outer Rim planets, they enslave sentients! They won’t stop just because Luke Skywalker blew up the Death Star—there’s a Star Destroyer sitting overhead right now—”

Bodhi.” Jyn puts a firm hand on his knee, and he stops. “I think our friend here’s heard enough.”

He looks wildly between her and Cassian, his thoughts gone askew again.

What did it take for Galen to convince me? How long before I asked what was really going on?

How many died because I waited? Will die because we can’t get one blasted smuggler to help us?

“I admire the courage of your convictions,” Karrde says, a shade mockingly, but he keeps looking at Bodhi curiously. “Here’s the deal I’m willing to make. I’ll pass along Imperial troop movements to you—”

“Thank you,” Cassian says.

Karrde raises a finger. “Because I’ve also been asked to pass along any information I have about Luke Skywalker’s whereabouts to the Empire.”

Cassian exchanges a glance with Jyn, and shrugs. “Fair enough.”

Bodhi can’t follow it; it’s like sabacc, the value of cards changing even as they land on the table. Chirrut’s reminder comes back to him, suddenly. 

Troop movements for the location of one man? Even if he is a Jedi? 

“So that's settled, then,” Karrde says, and all of a sudden a tension Bodhi hadn't recognized, doesn’t quite understand, goes out of his face.

“Let us buy you a drink,” Cassian says.

“Thanks,” Karrde says, “but I'm afraid I'm going to have to call it a night.” He inclines his head towards the club's entrance, where a single Imperial lieutenant has just strolled in. Cassian’s comm chirps softly at the same time—Kaytoo reporting in.

Blast,” Jyn snarls quietly. “Initial recon didn’t have this place as an officers’ watering hole.”

“Maybe he won't notice us,” Bodhi murmurs, and then instantly regrets his words as the lieutenant steps down into the seating area and starts to make his way around the perimeter of the room.

Cassian reacts first, drawing Jyn down so her face is against the crook of his neck, his hands roving over her back possessively. She immediately starts to move her lips against his skin. Bodhi can sort of hear her whispering, probably ideas to get them out of here, but to an observer, it would look far more intimate, not the slightest bit out of the ordinary for a couple in a club like this one.

Karrde stares at them, and then at Bodhi, who’s started looking around for a way out and found, worryingly, nothing. The lieutenant’s getting closer to their booth, glancing into the shadows at each table he passes.“You’re pretty recognizable, yourself,” Karrde says, quietly. “Can you trust me?”

“I—no,” Bodhi starts, but Karrde simply leans over, curling his already-outstretched hand around the back of Bodhi’s neck, and kisses him.

He makes a muffled squeak of surprise into Karrde’s mouth, but doesn’t immediately pull away; it’s the best cover he’s likely to get. Karrde rubs his fingers in little circles as if to pacify him, stalling out as he brushes over the patch of scarred skin at the base of Bodhi’s neck.

Bodhi flinches, hard—

(—the memory of his first kiss shredding away into nothing. Saw’s monster holding him down, crawling over his body and inside his head, ripping his mind apart—)

He gets a hand on Karrde’s chest and shoves, not caring that precipitating a fight will draw the Imperial’s attention; his only thought is to get away. Thankfully, Karrde pulls back as abruptly as he’d moved in, and Bodhi takes a shuddery breath, pressing backwards against the couch.

“What happened to you?” Karrde asks, very softly. His eyes look—troubled, almost, for the first time since they’d sat down.

Bodhi tries to summon back some of his earlier fury, but his voice cracks as he says, “I’m—you kissed me—”

“Oldest trick in the galaxy,” Karrde says, but he sounds apologetic instead of mocking. “Bodhi, I—”

“Looks like it worked,” Jyn interrupts. “He’s sitting down for a drink. I think we can get out of here.”

In fact, to Bodhi’s utter shock, the lieutenant actually nods at Cassian as they pass by; Cassian inclines his head in an equally nonchalant greeting, though his hand on Bodhi's shoulder, out of the Imperial's line of sight, squeezes hard.

*****

Back at the shuttle, Cassian sheds his jacket, and rubs his face with a hand before turning to Bodhi, who’s stripping off his own layers. “Listen, what you said in there, it will work on some people, but not a man like Talon Karrde. He prefers to wait until—until the last card is dealt, before he acts.”

“I figured that out,” Bodhi says, a little shortly.

“Karrde always had an offer on the table for us, because of Luke,” Jyn explains, already back in her usual nondescript clothes. “He couldn't say no to the Empire—but he could try to balance it out by giving us what he did. He just needed to know how seriously we took him.”

“He couldn’t say no to the Empire,” Bodhi repeats. His voice is flat. “What about everyone who did, and died for it?”

Cassian scrutinizes his face for a long moment. “Maybe we shouldn’t have made you come with us,” he says. “I just thought—maybe you’d welcome the change of scenery.”

He points back down the ramp at the ravaged planet beyond, tense. “This?

“It seemed like past time to bring you back into the fight,” Jyn says, frowning. “You could do so much more than—you don’t have to—” She stops, tries again. “All you’ve been doing for months is shuttling people around.”

“I’m a pilot,” Bodhi says. He’s drained, abruptly, and he doesn’t know what else to say, just wants them to stop looking at him like—like what? Like they’re worried?

“Coming up on that Star Destroyer,” Kaytoo calls down. “Thought you'd want to know, especially our pilot."

Bodhi gets up wordlessly and climbs into the cockpit. “I thought you weren't good at being empathetic?” he says to Kaytoo, once he’s strapped in.

Kaytoo turns his head towards him. “There is a Star Destroyer ahead of us,” he says. “Let’s go home.”

Chapter Text

Bodhi is slowly getting drunk.

(They’d outrun the Star Destroyer easily, and fled back to Thila Base. Cassian and Jyn had each tried to talk to him again, Jyn the more persistent of the two, falling back to walk beside Bodhi as they’d disembarked and headed into the catacombs of the base to make their report. Kaytoo had made some kind of horribly grating noise at her until she’d shaken her head and caught up with Cassian again.

But Kaytoo had leaned down to him and said, “Cassian told me I shouldn’t keep protecting you from things you don’t want to hear. Although I've extrapolated from your physiological responses the possible topics that fall under this category, I don’t know all the things you don’t want to hear. Can you make me a list?”

He’d gaped up at Kaytoo, shaken. “Are you serious?”

“I’ll need it before we fly together again,” Kaytoo had replied, matter-of-factly.)

So—Bodhi’s sitting in the dim and noisy hangar on a stack of cargo containers, putting back a third Corellian ale, with a blank fucking datapad on his knee, and actually thinking about trying to make the fucking list. Because Kaytoo’s his friend, and Cassian’s his friend, and they’re trying to help him move past his past—so he can help the Rebellion.

Because that’s what I wanted to do, right? What I yelled at Karrde about?

That’s why I'm here and not flying myself to a slow death for the Empire.

He drops his face into his shaking hands and tries to control his breathing.

And of course Luke fucking Skywalker picks that exact moment, when he’s shivering and trying to hold it together, to stroll up. He’s wearing the yellow flight jacket Bodhi remembers from the medal ceremony, and the same bright smile.

“If you don’t like to talk about fighting,” he says, over the din of fighter maintenance, with absolutely no preamble whatsoever, "What do you like to talk about?” He puts an elbow on the top container on the stack and leans towards Bodhi. Someone working on an X-wing nearby sends a shower of sparks arcing a meter high in the air, the light reflecting, coruscating, in Luke’s eyes.

“Commander Skywalker—”

“Just Luke. I mean, I’d like to call you Bodhi, if that's all right?” He barely pauses for Bodhi's confused nod before barrelling on. “It’s okay if you don’t want to talk about the action you’ve been in, I can ask Baze or Captain Andor about that stuff. Or Kaytoo. He gets along really well with my Artoo unit. What about strategy? I figure you must have told High Command a lot about Imperial scanners and TIE formations and things like that.”

“I—” Bodhi stares at him blankly.

“Or you could tell me about what it was like at the Imperial Academy, I was supposed to go, but my uncle needed me on the moisture farm for another season—”

—and Bodhi finally recognizes Luke’s nervous, which is so far beyond ridiculous he actually laughs in the younger man’s face.

Luke stops. “What? What did I say?” His blue eyes are wide, and baffled.

Bodhi shakes his head, smothering his laughter with his hand. “I’m sorry. I talk too much when I’m anxious, too.”

“Oh.” Luke gives him an embarrassed smile. “Look, you’re a pretty big deal around here—” Bodhi grimaces and looks away—“You are, even if you don’t want to be, and I just thought I could learn something from you. Maybe get to know you, a little. And I didn’t want—I didn’t want you thinking whatever it was you thought of me, when you stormed off.”

“I didn’t—I wasn’t angry with you,” Bodhi says.

“Oh,” Luke says, again. “Artoo said as much, but you know droids, they don’t always pick up on what us organics are really thinking.”

Bodhi looks down at the blank datapad on his knee. “Yeah,” he says, softly.

Luke runs his hand through his hair, leaving bits of it to stick up with static in a way that only serves to make him seem even younger. “So, can I start again?” Bodhi gives him a little nod to go on, so he says, “What about, where’s home for you? Are you from one of the Core Worlds?”

Bodhi thinks wryly, That’s a nice safe topic. And then—Okay, Kaytoo. No more hiding from this stuff. He takes another long drink from his bottle of Corellian ale. He offers it down to Luke, who accepts, but Luke just holds the bottle and looks at him, waiting.

The sky of falling stone.

“I’m from Jedha.” He steels himself for Luke’s reaction.

“Jedha?” Luke practically yelps it. “That’s—Bodhi. I am so sorry—”

“I’ve wondered, sometimes,” Bodhi says, and now he knows he really must be drunk, because he hasn’t said this to anyone, not even Chirrut who might understand it the best, “What if they’re still there? The kyber crystals. I mean, I know the capacity of my cargo ship, I know how many runs I made. The Empire must’ve mined Jedha dry, or else they wouldn’t have been able to—”

He trails off, squeezing his eyes shut for a second, the image of Jedha’s blotted-out sun burning its corona behind his eyelids. Luke’s curious face, the clamor of the hangar; it all seems very far away. “But I can’t have taken everything. They’re supposed to be waiting there, for people like you.”

When he opens his eyes again, Luke’s still standing there, hand clutching the Corellian ale, his mouth slightly agape.

Bodhi swallows. “Now you know. I’m from Jedha, and I helped destroy it.”

Luke hesitates for a second, and Bodhi thinks his expression is going to close off, that he’s going to turn and walk away, appalled. He’s surprised to find he doesn’t really want Luke to go, and even more surprised when Luke sets the bottle down on the top of the stack of containers, and starts to climb up. “Let me sit by you,” Luke says.

Bodhi scoots over to make room for him, the datapad falling off his knee and cracking on the stone floor below, making him wince. Luke settles onto the cargo containers a hand’s breadth away from Bodhi, dangling his feet over the edge of the stack and kicking his boots lightly against them. He picks up the ale again and cradles the bottle in his hands for a minute before taking a drink.

“I’m from Tatooine,” Luke says. His voice is quiet, and Bodhi has to strain to hear him over someone starting up their sublight engines nearby. “It’s a dead end, nothing going for it unless you like sand. I guess you might, you’re from a desert planet too. I wanted to get off-world so badly I’d have done anything—I thought joining the Imperial Academy was my ticket out.”

The horror of that hits Bodhi like a physical blow. They’d have crushed the light out of him, made him broken and afraid like me. Or worse. He has a terrifying vision of—

[Luke standing over someone fallen on a catwalk, about to deliver the final strike with his blinding blue-white lightsaber—]

“But I don’t know,” Luke continues, almost casually, unaware that Bodhi’s trembling beside him. What in blazes was that? His eyes flick down to the lightsaber on Luke’s belt—he can’t tell just from the hilt if the blade will be blue or not. How could I possibly know the color of his lightsaber?

“If Threepio and Artoo hadn’t come, if I hadn’t met Obi-Wan—” Luke hesitates, and Bodhi, paying attention again, can tell there’s something he’s leaving out. Something bangs, hollow and metallic, and there's an aggrieved whistle from a droid over by one of the Y-wings. “I might have just stayed on Tatooine forever, listening to reports of the war. Wishing I could help, but afraid to take the first step.”

Luke turns sideways to look at him, and his eyes are too earnestly luminous for Bodhi to tear his own gaze away, no matter how much he wants to. “I got pushed far enough to do something. So did you. So did everybody in this whole place.”

He gestures at the ships in the hangar. “I mean, even Han Solo came back for me.”

“It’s not—” Bodhi starts, not really knowing what he’s going to say. But almost as if summoned, Solo walks out of the Millennium Falcon docked a few meters away. He points a finger up at Luke. “I thought I heard your voice,” he yells. “Turn your damn comm on, Ackbar’s looking for you.”

Luke smiles at Bodhi. “I hope I made a better impression this time,” he says.

“Harder to storm off from up here.” Bodhi smiles back, hesitantly.  

“Listen, I really do want to learn from you,” Luke says. “Admiral Ackbar probably wants me to fly a different mission than Han and Chewie—they’ve got their orders already. If it’s a two-man job, do you want to come?”

Bodhi sobers up abruptly at that. “I—I can’t.” He catches the disappointment starting to furrow Luke’s brow, and amends, “Maybe next time.”

“Okay,” Luke says, and claps him on the shoulder. “Next time.”

Chapter Text

Princess Leia Organa is leading Bodhi’s next mission briefing, a week or so later.

It’s the first time he’s seen her up close, and she’s smaller than he’d expected. The title, her upraised chin, and her dark, flashing eyes, had made her seem incredibly imposing, from afar. But her short stature does absolutely nothing to dispel that initial impression; she commands the room, even though she hasn't even spoken a word.

(He hadn’t been avoiding her, exactly. Their paths simply had no reason to cross; she's a very important diplomat. Strategist. Leader.

All things Bodhi is not.

Almost immediately after the Battle of Yavin, Bodhi had found out from Wedge, who was both pissed off and impressed at the maneuver she’d pulled to get clear of him and Luke, that she'd gone to the Emperor's homeworld. The Empire had been hunting down any remaining Alderaanians; she’d thought she could get to them first.

Guilt had dizzied him, buzzing in his head until he'd had to sit down right there in the maintenance bay, hydrospanner clattering to the floor. It’d taken some convincing to keep Wedge from hauling him down to the medcenter.)

Bodhi can't keep looking at her across the briefing room, afraid she'll make eye contact, irrationally terrified that she'll point him out to everyone as a failure.

He scans the room instead, looking for familiar faces, even though he knows Jyn, Cassian, and Kaytoo are off-world, have been for days. They're on the sort of mission that Kaytoo will cheerfully divulge to the remainder of the original Rogue One team later, despite Cassian’s insistence that Intelligence missions are covert, and secret, and Kaytoo, that's just disgusting, don't tell them about that.

Bodhi’s far from alone, though; in fact, it looks like all of Rogue Squadron is packed into the cramped briefing room with some supplemental ground forces, including Chirrut and Baze. He’s surprised to see the Guardians; last he’d heard, they were working on mapping any remaining Jedi Temples, hoping against very long odds. Chirrut smiles serenely in Bodhi’s general direction, and Baze inclines his head in his usual taciturn nod.

And at Princess Leia's side, talking cheerfully to another X-wing pilot he doesn’t know, is Luke. They’re both suited up for flight already, garish in orange next to the stark white of the Princess. Luke catches Bodhi’s eye and breaks into a broad grin.

“Next time!” he mouths to Bodhi, and Bodhi gives him a small, acknowledging wave.

But all eyes immediately snap to the Princess as she starts to speak. “As you all know, we have been running low on crucial supplies here, and on our major capital ships. The Barkhesh Resistance has sent word that they can provide vital equipment, but they can't risk sending their own people off-world.” Princess Leia taps a key on the display table, and a topographical map appears, river canyons wrinkling the planet’s surface. “The Barkhesh convoy must first travel through enemy territory in order to reach the safe landing coordinates designated for the cargo shuttles. Rogue Squadron, your mission is to rendezvous with that convoy and escort it to the landing zone, where you’ll take possession of the supplies and get them onto the shuttles.”

Her gaze travels around the room. Bodhi ducks his head so he doesn't have to meet her eyes. “I don't need to impress upon you the sacrifices the Barkhesh Resistance is making on our behalf. I know you won't let them down.”

Luke calls out, “Any questions?” When there are none, he nods to Princess Leia, who says, “May the Force be with you,” and dismisses them to their ships.

*****

Bodhi’s assigned ship is a Lambda-class T-4a shuttle. He wonders when the Rebellion had acquired another Imperial ship, or if it had come with any recent defectors; he hasn't been keeping the best track of newcomers. It’s heavily shielded and well-armed, though he’s flying without a designated gunner, just a Twi’lek co-pilot he hasn’t met before. 

Chirrut grabs his arm as he goes past the handful of ground troops already strapped into their seats, quietly murmuring to each other. His gaze is aimed at the opposite wall of the shuttle’s hold. “It’s good to see you again, Bodhi,” he says, and laughs.

Baze rolls his eyes. “I keep telling you, no one finds that funny, Chirrut.”

Bodhi puts his hand over Chirrut’s where it rests on his forearm. “I’m glad you’re back,” he says, and means it.

“The Force will always hold us together,” Chirrut tells him.

“The Force is a kind of bonding tape, now?” Baze grumbles, and Bodhi smiles, shakes his head, and goes forward into the cockpit as they start to argue playfully. His co-pilot’s already there, tapping his fingers on the edge of the console.

“Yendor, right?” Bodhi says, strapping himself in and starting to flip the toggles for the preflight sequence.

“You’re Bodhi Rook,” the Twi’lek says, his voice neutral.

Bodhi looks at him, not sure what to brace for. “Yeah.”

“Never thought I’d be flying with an ex-Imperial,” Yendor says, the tips of his lekku twitching.

He tenses. “If you’ve got a problem with that, you take it up with Command, okay? I’m just here to carry out the mission, like all those other flyboys out there.”

“Yeah, all right.” Yendor attends to his half of the controls.

Bodhi doesn't relax. He glances out the viewport at the X-wing pilots climbing into their fighters and closing their canopies, looking for Luke. He spots him still on the ground, not far from the shuttle, talking animatedly to Wedge Antilles, both with their helmets tucked under their arms. Bodhi almost waves, but catching Yendor’s narrow, curious stare out of the corner of his eye, stops himself, and only watches as Luke and Wedge grin at each other before dashing to their ships.

“All systems ready for launch,” Yendor reports.

Luke’s voice comes in over comms, eager. “See you at Barkhesh!”

*****

Yendor doesn’t say a thing to Bodhi while they’re in hyperspace; Bodhi resists the urge to fill the silence with his own nervous chatter. He’s gotten used to the kind of quiet Cassian and Jyn like, that Chirrut is. Although once, he might have tried to tell Yendor about flying a different class of cargo shuttle, comparing their specs and design histories, the Twi’lek’s body language screams distrust.

Dislike.

Bodhi sizes him up surreptitiously, trying to gauge if Yendor’s the type to try to corner him on base later, with friends who might be interested in a little petty revenge, against the defector who helped get the Death Star finished. If outranking the Twi’lek’s enough to keep him at bay.

It’s not his favorite thing to gamble on.

“We’re here,” Yendor announces abruptly, pulling the lever to drop them back into normal space. Barkhesh looms up fast in front of them, X-wings and the other Lambda-class shuttle, popping in out of hyperspace.

“Heading for the the supply base coordinates,” Bodhi says, taking them in as the X-wings form up around the shuttles. It’s a bumpy ride down through atmosphere, and then he’s skimming the canopy of a lush, dense rainforest that drops away at the edges of the canyon.

On comms, Wedge says, “Luke, we’ve already got trouble. Probe droids.” Bodhi looks out and sees the black, insectlike swarm moving into position at the Barkhesh base.

“Pick your targets and go,” Luke orders, and then his X-wing swoops down, spitting cannon fire. The comm line fills with chatter as Rogue Squadron engages.

They’re just droids. Nothing I need to worry about. Bodhi holds the shuttle hovering steadily over the base, though it rocks a bit when one of the probe droids explodes just as he opens the hold door for the ground troops to jump the few meters to the surface. He winces, but Baze waves and gives him a thumbs-up before running towards the supply convoy.

“Okay, Bodhi, we’ll see you at the landing zone coordinates,” Luke says. “Keep an eye out.”

“See you in a few,” Bodhi replies, and lifts off. He sticks to the contours of the canyon, scanning for Imperial armaments out of habit—a flash of turbolaser fire streaks up towards the shuttle—

“Fuck,” Yendor yelps, as Bodhi throws them into an arc out of the way, calling hoarsely on comms, “Luke, I count six AT-STs, heading up canyon to you, and who knows how many turbolasers.”

“Copy that,” comes back tersely. “Rogue Three, Rogue Six, give the shuttles an escort to the landing zone. We’ll handle the trip.”

Yendor kills the comms— “We can take 'em,” he says to Bodhi. “Take out a couple of those turrets? Bring down an AT-ST? They'd bump us up to Rogue Squadron for sure.”

Bodhi shakes his head, concentrating on keeping them aloft, but still low enough over the rainforest that Imperial scanners will have a hard time tracking. Emerald-green laserfire spits past, and the near-misses set the tree canopy ablaze. “Those aren't our orders.”

“But we can fight,” Yendor protests. “Look—full complement of torpedoes—”

“That’s not what we're here for,” Bodhi snaps, glaring at him. “We engage, they take—take us out, the Squadron won’t be able to get all the supplies back to base.”

Yendor keeps pushing. “You're a good pilot, they can't hit you—”

“Will you shut up and watch the damn sensors?” Bodhi yells, as Yendor is instantly proven wrong and a chance blast slaps them sideways out of the sky.

The Twi’lek screams as the shuttle goes plunging into the trees, branches snapping. Bodhi clenches his jaw, heart pounding, and hauls hard on the controls, come on come on come on—

They soar out into open atmosphere, and below Bodhi catches a glimpse of Rogue Six taking out the turbolaser that had almost downed them. “Comms,” Bodhi orders, panting. Yendor switches them back on—

“—endor, you guys okay up there?” Luke is shouting.

“Just a little course correction,” Bodhi says back.

“Copy that.” Relief is audible in Luke’s voice. “See if you can get to the coordinates without any more trouble, yeah?”

“You got it, Luke.” Bodhi toggles off, and chances a look at Yendor. The Twi’lek’s eyes have gone to angry slits as he stares forward, arms crossed.

Yeah. There’s going to be more trouble.

Chapter Text

On Thila, Yendor barely sticks around long enough to help get the supplies unloaded from the cargo hold before he’s walking off, muttering under his breath. Bodhi stares after him until the Twi’lek disappears into the catacombs.

“Everything all right?”

He jerks around, startled—Chirrut is leaning up against the side of the shuttle, gently tapping the end of his stick against the ground in a staccato rhythm.

“Chirrut, you scared me,” Bodhi says.

“You are worried about something,” Chirrut says, ignoring that. “Your co-pilot?”

Bodhi sighs. “It’s fine, really, I don’t need everyone to like me.”

“Not like some people I know,” Baze mutters, appearing from the top of the ramp.

“The Force moves through me,” Chirrut says, sweeping his arms out wide. Baze ducks the arc of his stick. “People are drawn to the Force. Therefore, people like me. I have little say in the matter.” He cocks his head at Bodhi. “Perhaps that is why you like Luke Skywalker.”

“Luke’s nice, and it was kind of him to get me attached to the mission, even if I—yeah, of course I like him,” Bodhi runs off the end of it.

“Oh,” Chirrut says. “So it’s not the Force, then.”

He’s teasing, but Bodhi totally misses it. “Yeah. Just a nice guy who also happens to have a lightsaber and magical powers, which—” Bodhi has a flash of the strange vision. “Which I haven’t seen him use, ever. People like a nice guy.”

Chirrut hooks the end of his stick through a loop on Bodhi’s flightsuit and tugs him over, gently. “Many of the people you care about are not nice.” He smiles. “Like Baze. Baze is a killer, you know that?”

Bodhi looks up at Baze, who shrugs. “So’s Chirrut.”

“Yes, but you were an assassin,” Chirrut points out.

Baze’s mouth twitches under his beard. “It paid better than begging.”

“Anyway. You should know, there are people who think your co-pilot today is a nice guy, and that you are the killer.”

Bodhi swallows. “Okay.”

“You understand?” Chirrut asks. “I mean, we are among people, who mean well, who are fighting for the right thing. But they do not all look at you the same way we do, or as Luke Skywalker does.”

“Yeah.” Bodhi reaches out and touches Chirrut’s hand. The other man turns his hand up to grasp Bodhi’s. “Thanks for the warning.”

*****

Bodhi does his best not to be alone, after Chirrut and Baze leave again, making sure to eat in the mess with Wedge or other Rogue Squadron pilots. Only picking up maintenance shifts during the busiest parts of the day and never in the dead times, the surreal halfway points between deployment and mission completion. Trying to spend more time around Rogue Squadron in general, playing sabacc—and winning, hand after hand, until Wedge was offering to strip instead of pay up—watching holos curled up in the pilots’ lounge.

After a few days of increasingly nice camaraderie, the kind he’d only ever had with a handful of fellow cargo pilots and the Rogue One team, before, he starts to wonder if he’d been reading too much into Yendor’s hostility, if Chirrut had gotten something wrong.

If he’d been paranoid because of his own history, watching over his shoulder as he’d fled across Jedha towards Saw Gerrera. Or from even before that, checking and double-checking every action, every reaction, so the Empire would never be able to doubt his loyalty the way he doubted himself.

Bodhi hasn’t seen Yendor at all for a couple days.

He relaxes his guard.

*****

And then—

It’s always dark in the hangar, but a peaceful, kind of comforting shadow, that he likes. The perpetual dusk reminds him of being in space between cargo runs, hanging between the stars, and the running lights of his ship seeming like the only other illumination in the galaxy. Bodhi's gotten used to the people, too; mechanics from the Core to the Unknown Regions share the common language of sweat and curses and tools, and droids—no matter their personalities—are by and large comforting in their predictability.

He doesn’t notice how quiet the hangar gets, though, because the darkness doesn’t change; he’s too engrossed in trying to fix a burnt-out motivator, talking himself through the process, and trying to refrain from giving up and simply hurling the thing across the maintenance bay to watch it shatter into a thousand pieces.

Bodhi pushes his goggles up onto his head, and stretches, groaning as he realizes he’s been sitting hunched over for far too long. A lone astromech droid whirs past him softly, chirping to itself.

“Officer Rook.”

He turns around, and—oh, fuck. Yendor’s standing just outside the maintenance bay, and he is, unlike Bodhi, not alone. There’s a Rodian with him, their large eyes reflecting the overhead lights, and someone lingering in the darkness beyond.

“Private Yendor,” Bodhi says, his mouth going dry.

“So, I checked the simulation logs, from when you officially joined up after Yavin,” Yendor says, a little triumphantly, like he’s uncovered some great secret. “You won't fire on an enemy target, not even when they're trying to kill you. Is that right?”

Bodhi’s heart starts to pound. This is going to be unpleasant.

I wasn't paranoid enough. 

They’re blocking his way out. His comlink is lying on the far end of the work table.

“It’s not what you think,” he says, holding his hands up as if to ward them off.

“Really?” Yendor asks.

He swallows; this fear is a far too familiar taste on his tongue. “I just—I can’t shoot anybody, I can’t. I graduated from pilot training only good enough to fly shuttles, not TIEs—” Why did I say that, don’t remind him! “I didn’t want anyone to die, not on Jedha, not Scarif, not—Alderaan—”

Yendor stares at him. “You didn’t talk this much, before,” he says.

Bodhi huffs a scared little laugh, his eyes wide. “I usually do—it gets worse when someone’s about to hurt me.”

None of Yendor’s trio contradicts his assumption. He licks his lips and tries not to let his eyes flick to his comlink. 

There’s always a chance

The man in the shadows says, “Yendor told us you didn’t want to go after the Imperial defenses on Barkhesh.” He leans down into the light—human, or close to it, not a face Bodhi can place. “Why? Afraid you might see somebody you know?”

The Rodian says something Bodhi doesn’t understand, and shakes their head at his confusion, further damning him.  

“No, no,” Bodhi stammers, knowing he can’t make them believe him, but taking another desperate shot at it anyway. “All my friends are—” He gulps— “They were sent home, when the cargo runs were over, or—or they’re dead, they fought for the wrong side, at Yavin—”

The human laughs. “You really can’t help yourself, can you? Friends. You’re still one of them.”

“I’m not,” and there’s sand in his mouth, freezing Jedha wind stinging his eyes—“I’m the defector—”

“Yeah, all right,” Yendor says. “Get him.”

Bodhi lunges to his feet and dives across the worktable for his comlink, fingers frantically seeking the switch. Bits of metal and plasteel fly off the table and clatter onto the floor, the racket echoing out into the hangar. Yendor’s human friend rushes him, wrestles the comlink from his hands—the momentum rolls him over the edge of the table, and he lands with a cry on the floor.

The Rodian’s grabbing his arm, pulling him up, surprisingly strong for being so small—Bodhi scrabbles behind himself on the table, comes up with a hydrospanner, but Yendor’s at his side, pinning his wrist down, jamming a thumb in between the tendons, and forcing him to drop the tool as he screams. The Rodian holds his other arm down—

(—shackled down in Saw’s cell, the monster coalescing out of the shadows—

—long tentacles creeping across the floor—

—gasping panicky breaths as it wrapped around his body and slithered into his mind—

—memories shredding, scattering like an engine’s ion trail—

—begging screaming thrashing in the chair as it takes him apart, piece by piece—

—what's left of him—)

It’s almost a relief to come back to himself and find they’re just beating him.

Not with the hydrospanner, a small mercy—he'd be deadbut someone's just hitting him with a closed fist, over and over, in the face. There’s coppery blood in Bodhi’s mouth, and wetness streaking his face, and he has no idea how long he’s been lost in his own head.

His whole body hurts; even pinned, bright warning flares are going off all down his torso, in his ribs. His assailants have been working him over pretty thoroughly, must've switched to his face when they realized he’d checked out on them. Breathing—breathing doesn't feel quite right, there are fireworks behind his eyes every time he gasps, and he just wants to go limp, curl into a ball, get away—

“Hey!”

The voice cuts through the haze of pain. Bodhi’s got enough wits left to recognize a chance; he spits blood in Yendor's face, yanking his other arm free from the Rodian’s grasp when the Twi’lek curses and recoils. He can’t get his feet under him to run—slides off the table into a heap on the floor. The duracrete is cold under his bruised face, and he closes his eyes, prays that he can take it, whatever they do next.

“Hey,” the voice says again, and it sounds very familiar, and very angry—Bodhi opens his eyes again, and the person standing there looks, even sideways, through his blurry vision, like Jyn.

That can't be right, she's on a mission—

Then she's shaking out her collapsible baton with a jerk—oh, it is Jyn, he thinks, dazed—and yelling, and the human is yelling back something like “damn Imperial bastards sticking together,” the Rodian kicking him in the side, and then:

There's a weird snap-hiss sound; the maintenance bay goes impossibly bright, and Luke Skywalker says, rage coiling through his voice like a desert viper about to strike, “Touch him again and I will—”

Bodhi lets the darkness take him.

*****

(“—should’ve known something was up, I just thought he was lonely without you guys around, and then he won the pants off me—”)

(“—isciplined? Disciplined? If I hadn’t gotten there in—”)

(—sounds of a scuffle in the hall, Cassian’s voice shouting, and a single blaster shot—)

(“—lucky it was Jyn who found Bodhi and not me. I would have torn their arms off.”)

*****

Of all the people Bodhi thought might be at his side when he finally wakes up in the medcenter, everything smelling like disinfectant and his mouth tasting like bacta, Princess Leia Organa is not on the list.

Her white uniform matches the white walls of the medbay, and it’s—

“It’s too bright. I know. I’m sorry.” She reaches over and touches a switch, bringing the lights down.

He can’t bring himself to look at her anyway, his eyes focusing on the wall of monitors and displays behind her.

“Yendor’s attack on you touched off a bit of a political firestorm,” Princess Leia says, very calmly, as if she’s briefing him. “Since the start, there have always been factions that thought we shouldn’t accept Imperial defectors into our ranks, even though we have generals who came to us when they saw what the Empire was doing. Wedge, who’s one of our best pilots. You, who helped us stop—”

“No,” Bodhi whispers hoarsely, averting his face on the pillow. “Please don’t. Not—not from you.”

She pauses. After a moment, she takes his hand where it lies on the medical bed, and goes on, a little softer. “Things got a little tense while you were out. Some people up and left because they sided with Yendor and his friends, angry that we’re protecting you and the other former Imperials.”

“I heard fighting,” he says, turning back to her. It doesn’t hurt to talk as much as he’d expected. “I thought I did.”

Princess Leia gives him a tight smile. “Captain Andor took it upon himself to stop a few of those like-minded individuals from reaching you. I told him we posted guards, but—” she shakes her head. “It’s complicated, Bodhi. I know you’ll be disappointed—we aren’t discharging Yendor. He, and the two others will be disciplined and reassigned, so you’ll never have to fly with him again, at least, but we need every person we can get to help us in this war.” There’s a thread of cold anger under her words.

“It’s okay.”

“It’s not.”

Bodhi looks up at her and sees how pale and tired she is, dark circles under her eyes. “We have to win.” He tries to squeeze her hand weakly to show her he gets it.

Princess Leia puts her other hand on top of his, warm and gentle. Then she clears her throat, and says, “You should tell me about Jedha, sometime. You, and Chirrut, and Baze. I—I’d like to know what it was like.”

He closes his eyes, and tastes his mother’s favorite spices in his mouth, feels tears slipping out from under his eyelashes. Opens his eyes again and asks, “You’ll tell me about Alderaan?”

She’s crying a little, too, though that takes nothing away from her beautiful face. “Of course.”

Chapter Text

Cassian has a black eye.

Jyn looks pissed.

“What the hell,” she says.

Bodhi had made himself sit up to see them; now he slumps back against the pillow, fingers plucking at the fraying edges of his medcenter robe. “What?”

“I want you to learn how to fucking defend yourself,” Jyn snaps out. “So Luke Skywalker doesn't have to charge in, lightsaber blazing, to save you.”

Bodhi blinks at her. “I—I—what? I was trying to—what?”

“Particularly not when Jyn believes she had the situation well in hand,” Cassian says, coming over and sitting on the side of his bed, pressing a friendly kiss to Bodhi’s forehead. “Hi. Are you doing better?”

“I don't know, is Jyn going to keep yelling at me?” Bodhi answers, eyeing her anxiously.

“She might.”

“You’re damn right I am,” Jyn says, and in contrast to Cassian's relatively light tone, she is furious. “Is it true you haven’t even requisitioned a blaster?” she demands. “What if—what if you’re shot down on a mission, and you have to get out of enemy territory, and I’m—we’re—”

Bodhi can’t look away from the hurt in her eyes, and says, too fast, “I—I’m still a wanted man. If I couldn't bluff my way out, I figure I'd be captured for defecting, tortured, and executed, you know, for defecting.”

It's such a foregone conclusion that he hasn’t even been thinking about it, not for months.

(His heart had thumped so loud he’d been certain the other engineers, the troopers on Eadu could hear it as he tried to act casual on his way out of the facility and back to his shuttle. He’d sat alone in the cockpit, turning Galen’s message over and over in his hands during the preflight sequence, running his thumb over the ridges of it, calculating the price of failure like a hyperspace vector.

It had been the simplest of equations: failure equals death.

He’d been lucky that success didn’t, too.)

They're staring at him in shared horror.

“You’re on painkillers,” Cassian says, shaking his head. “A lot of painkillers. Have to be, because that is—that is just—”

“Realistic?” Bodhi suggests.

“Defeatist,” Jyn says. “You got out of worse, before.”

“Because I had a ship, or because—” Bodhi leans forward, resting his forehead on Cassian’s shoulder, and Cassian wraps an arm around him. He's very tired, all of a sudden. “Because you were there, you got me out.” He breathes in the scent of his friend’s worn jacket, comforting after the acrid disinfectants he’s been inhaling all day.

“And I'm saying, when we're not—” Jyn breaks off.

Bodhi lifts his head from Cassian’s shoulder and shuffles awkwardly back out of his embrace. “Plenty of people died because of me already, without me picking up a blaster on top of it. More die because I bring—” His voice stutters to a halt as he watches their faces, the way Cassian’s expression crumples, hates that he’s hurting his friends, but unable to stop himself from doing it. “Because I bring the Rebellion to them.”

Jyn crosses her arms over her chest, her eyes bright with disbelief. “Do you have any idea what you mean to the people we’ve saved? To us? It’s a war, Bodhi, people die whether you have anything to do with it or not.”

She glares at him, adding, “We have to win,” echoing Bodhi’s own words of an hour ago to Princess Leia. “We need our pilot alive to do that. Don’t be so—so—” Jyn trails off, painfully, and Bodhi flinches. Her voice goes harsh. “You can set it to fucking stun if that makes you feel any better about what you’re doing.” She turns on her heel and storms out of the medcenter.

“Jyn—” Bodhi calls after her, but she doesn’t return. He lets his head fall back against the wall. “She didn’t even give me a chance to say thank you,” he says to the ceiling.

Cassian pats his knee under the blanket. His expression is under control again, except for the persistent concern for him. “I would also be happier if I knew you were carrying a weapon,” he says. “Just in case. I mean, it’s nice—strange, I don’t know—that Luke is watching out for you, too, but—”

Okay,” Bodhi holds up his hands. “Look, I’m not totally defenseless, all right? I grew up on Jedha, I can run, I know how to take a punch, but they trapped me—I was doing the best I could—” Never mind the part where I panicked because they were holding me down—“I got a hydrospanner, but it was—” and he’s starting to gasp, a little, in pain. Cassian's looking at him, worried. “It was a gamble that didn’t pay off.” He stops, raking his fingers through his hair, and tries to regain something like composure. “I’m sorry about your eye,” he says.

Cassian shakes his head. “Don’t be.” He squeezes where his hand’s still on Bodhi’s leg. Bodhi expects him to argue, to push for carrying a blaster again, but he just says, “We’ll figure something out, all right?”

He musters a half-smile. “As long as it’s not making Kaytoo stand guard for me.”

Cassian’s own lips twitch. “Kaytoo was getting some minor repair work done when the rest of us were looking for you. When he found out what happened, he marched up and down the base challenging anyone else who didn’t like former Imperials to try him on for size. It had quite an effect.”

Bodhi laughs, and winces, as that pulls on his barely-healed ribs. Cassian’s up like a shot, looking around for a medical droid; Bodhi waves it off. “I’m all right.” He grabs for Cassian’s hand. “Thanks.”

Cassian looks down at him. “Get back on your feet soon, okay? The Rebellion does need you.”

*****

While Bodhi’s still stuck in the medcenter for the next day and a half, Rogue Squadron visits in a random trickle of pilots. Wedge, apologetic and bearing a deck of sabacc cards, spends the better part of an hour trying to win his clothes back, after Bodhi makes him promise to stop apologizing.

Luke doesn’t come, and Bodhi—

Bodhi doesn’t know how he feels about that.

 

Chapter Text

...as if millions of voices cried out...

 

May the Force be with you.

Princess Leia in The Empire Strikes Back

Chapter Text

Finally released from the medcenter, Bodhi stands in the doorway of his quarters, not quite sure he wants to go in.

It looks like someone’s been through his stuff. Two someones, actually. The first tossed the place—he can guess who that would’ve been, though he’d never have figured Yendor to slice the lock, the Twi’lek didn’t seem the patient type—and the second tried to put things back, but didn’t have time to finish cleaning up. Cassian and Jyn, maybe. Whoever it was, they’d found his goggles and put them on his pillow.

Bodhi crosses the room and picks his goggles up. They’re suspiciously clean, but still unmistakably his, sandblasted sides and all. He sets them back down on his bunk, trembling, looks around at the mess. Few as his belongings might be, despite his friends’ efforts to sort things out, Yendor’s little revenge exercise had still done a number on his quarters.

He gets to work cleaning up, silently, with shaking hands.

Six minutes later, Bodhi discovers his medal is missing. 

His eyes go wide with dismay as he flattens himself against the wall, planes his hand up and down in the gap between his shelving unit and the wall again, drops to his knees and searches the floor.

“No, no—” Bodhi checks a third time, feeling sick. His gaze darts around the room, hoping to see its ribbon tangled up, light glinting off the metal under a flimsy, something. “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.” It’s for Galen, it’s supposed to be for Galen—

Someone knocks on his door, calls, “It’s Wedge.” He slaps at the plate with his free hand to unlock the door, and Wedge steps inside, freezes.

“What happened?

“Yendor, I think,” Bodhi says, shortly. “Bastards took my fucking medal.”

“You’re sure?” Wedge notices how he’s jammed up against the wall. “That your hiding spot?”

“Yeah.” He steps away, practically falls onto his bunk, heart thumping fast. 

Wedge can’t stop himself—he sticks his hand into the gap, too, running it up and down the same way Bodhi had.

“Where’d you hide yours?” Bodhi asks.

“Under my bunk,” Wedge replies, crouching to look on the floor. “With my—” He snaps his fingers, and straightens up. “Yendor’s not the creative type.”

Bodhi touches his face gingerly where they’d hit him. “Nope.”

“I bet, if he didn’t take it—yep, here we are,” Wedge says, fishing his medal out of the wastebasket. “You want me to hang it back behind here?”

Bodhi gapes at him. “Wedge—thank you.” His panic and rage flood out of him, and he realizes he’s been clenching his hands in useless fists. “I wasn’t going to keep it, anyway,” he blurts, looking away. “I was planning to—”

Wedge shakes his head. “You don’t have to tell me,” he says.

Bodhi glances up, and Wedge is smiling at him, a little. “Thank you,” he says again, and then, “You didn’t come here just to check on me.”

“Rogue Squadron’s being deployed, I thought I’d see if you wanted to come along,” Wedge says, back to business. “It’s a rescue mission, you’d be flying that Lambda-class from Barkhesh again.”

“Rescue mission?” It’s only because he’s been with the Rebellion for the past several months that the idea’s no longer inconceivable. If he’d ever gone down as a pilot for the Empire, no one would have come for him, except to collect his precious cargo—

“Yeah, I’m doing the full briefing—such as it is—in a little while.”

“Wait, you’re in command?” Bodhi checks—Wedge’s rank insignia on his flightsuit is the same as ever.

“Yeah,” Wedge says. “Well, we'll rendezvous with General Rieekan over Chorax for on-site coordination, but I’m Rogue Leader until Luke gets home. You want in?”

Bodhi nods, his mouth suddenly, inexplicably, dry.

“Okay. Briefing’s in the hangar in ten.” Wedge gives him an acknowledging nod and leaves.

Alone again, Bodhi tries to make sense of Wedge’s words. Luke's not even here? He left?

Maybe Jyn and Cassian were wrong. Luke’s not looking out for me more than anyone else. He must’ve stumbled in on the fight by accident—I’m just another pilot under his command, now that he knows I’m no hero.

He gets up, mechanically pulling on his flight jacket and goggles. That’s okay. That’s what I wanted.

Right?

*****

“Back on active duty already?” Rogue Two—Bodhi digs around in his memory and eventually comes up with the name Zev—asks, when he joins the squadron for their mission briefing. They’re standing in the hangar, in a loose semicircle under a wing of his Lambda-class shuttle, partially blocked off from the rest of the usual commotion. “Wouldn't have guessed they'd toss you out here with us so fast.”

“Wedge asked me to,” Bodhi says, and he’s actually sort of looking forward to it, now. Getting out of his trashed quarters has him longing to get farther, away from people who keep wanting assurances he can’t give, away from the confusing swirl of emotions that threaten to overwhelm him. Back out among the stars where it’s—well, not safe, nowhere in the galaxy is that, but at least he knows what he’s doing right, in space. He looks around the hangar, grimacing as someone blows a fuse and a sublight engine cuts out with a screeching whine.

Wedge is coming over, helmet under his arm. Zev nudges Bodhi with an elbow. “You sure you’re up for this?”

Bodhi straightens his shoulders self-consciously. “Y—Yeah. Gotta help out, do my part, you know?”

“‘Cause it’s not a problem, we could bump someone from escort to co-pilot with Hobbie instead,” Zev says.

“I’m good,” Bodhi insists, lacing his fingers together so his hands won’t shake. He frowns down at them, tugs at the cuff of one of his sleeves where it’s too tight around his scarred-up wrist. “No place I’d rather be, than—where are we going again?”

“Chorax.”

Wedge clears his throat, giving the two of them a pointed look. Bodhi shrugs an apology at him.

“We’re to search for the Nonnah,” Wedge says. “Our troops pushed their luck too far and crashed somewhere on Chorax’s northern hemisphere, after stealing a bunch of Imperial equipment. We don’t know exactly what it is they stole, but Intelligence has already picked up transmissions suggesting that the Imperials want it back.”

“So it’s a race,” Bodhi murmurs to Zev, who grins, and mutters back, “Care to place a wager? Imps get there first, but we find the ship?”

Bodhi looks at him askance, frowning. “I don’t—I don’t bet on people’s lives.”

Wedges clears his throat again, a little louder, and his pointed look in their direction is a bit more pointed. “So, current orders are for Rogue Squadron to fly over possible crash sites, locate the Nonnah, and then send in the evacuation shuttle to pick up any survivors and whatever equipment we can salvage. General Rieekan will have the most updated likely coordinates when we arrive in-system. Any questions? No? Let’s get to it.”

The X-wing pilots scatter to their ships, astromechs whirring in their wakes. Bodhi is about to board his shuttle, when Wedge catches hold of his elbow. “If you don’t really want to come along, you don’t have to, you know.”

Bodhi turns. “What?”

“I’m saying, if you’re not sure about this, the Rogues would all understand if you stayed on base for a while, rested up—”

Bodhi brushes Wedge’s hand off his arm, suddenly indignant. “You’re the one who asked me, remember? Having a change of heart? What if Zev, or one of the generals, or—or Luke—said, never mind, don’t bother coming along, we got this without you? Go on, the war’ll wait, you should rest up? This part of the fight’s my job. Let me do it.”

Wedge holds his hand up in surrender. “Okay, okay—you seemed a little—look, Luke’ll have my head if anything happens to you. Just be careful, all right?”

“Yeah. You too, good luck out there,” Bodhi says, sounding to his own ears kind of pissed-off, and heads on into his shuttle.

But Bodhi calms down the instant he gets his hands on the controls, and regrets his anger. Wedge doesn’t know what to do, either, but he’s trying. We’re all trying. He taps a switch and patches into a private comm line. “Hey, Wedge.” Hobbie looks at him curiously, but doesn’t say anything, keeps working on his side of the console.

“Yeah,” Wedge responds.

“I won’t let you down,” Bodhi says, softly.

“Copy that,” Wedge says, and Bodhi can hear the relieved smile in his voice.

*****

Hobbie turns out to have defected from the Empire with Wedge, a few years back, and is also just as apologetic about not having been around when Yendor had come after Bodhi. While they’re in hyperspace, he attempts to commiserate with Bodhi over their shared experiences in the Imperial Academy system, but Hobbie went to an elite flight school, and Bodhi—did not.

“I’m rated for cargo shuttles and transports, and below,” Bodhi says, shrugging.

“But you’re good enough to fly with Rogue, if you wanted,” Hobbie protests, and Bodhi tenses up. “Did anyone ever let you try out a TIE? I mean, they’re no T-65s, but there’s some fun to be had with ‘em.”

“I was mostly trying to keep my head down,” Bodhi says. “And TIEs—they’re death traps, you know that, right?”

Hobbie doesn’t respond, and he recognizes the shadow of loss in his co-pilot’s eyes.

“Sorry,” Bodhi mumbles.

Hobbie shakes his head. “S’ok. Not everybody who wants to join up makes it this far. Be a surprise if we all make it to the end of the war.” The navicomputer beeps—“Coming up on Chorax,” Hobbie says, and gently pulls back on the lever to drop them into normal space.

The X-wings dive towards the planet; Bodhi hears General Rieekan rattling off possible coordinates over comms and starts entering them into the computer as the shuttle settles into an orbit over the northern hemisphere.

“Betcha it’s the third site,” Hobbie says, and then, “Shit!” as a Sentinel-class shuttle pops out of hyperspace with a handful of TIE Interceptors trailing it.

Bodhi’s heart leaps into his throat, but he manages, “When’d they get those Interceptors upgraded with hyperdrives?” He takes their shuttle into a plunge after their squadron, shields ablating the atmosphere with fire.

“I don’t know!” Hobbie hits the comm. “Wedge, Wedge, we got company!” Rogue Squadron swarms back up past them to engage the TIEs, Rieekan calling for more reinforcements.

Bodhi keeps his eye on the Sentinel shuttle—“You were right, it’s heading for the third coordinates.”

Hobbie hits his armrest with a hand. “Think we can beat ‘em?”

“Oh, yeah,” Bodhi says, and throws the sublight engines wide open, afraid and giddy, as the shuttle accelerates. Chorax spreads out below them, veined with silvery river valleys that feed into a massive lake. “There!” The Nonnah’s hull glints in the sunlight, but it’s stern-down several meters from the lake’s edge and smoking ominously.

“I don’t see anybody moving around,” Hobbie says, worriedly.

“Try signaling them,” Bodhi suggests. “This shuttle does look Imperial, they might be hiding.” I would've.

Hobbie nods, and patches into Rebellion frequencies—“Nonnah, this is Rogue Four with the evac shuttle—anybody alive down there?”

“Rogue Four—Rogue Squadron?” comes back over the speakers. “Thank the Force. Get down here, we’ve got injured—” There’s a squeal of static, and then—“Oh, blast, that’s a walker!”

Bodhi jerks around, and the Sentinel shuttle’s touched down already, about half a kilometer away, and is disgorging an AT-ST and three XR-85 tank droids. “We’ve got you covered, Rogue Four, go get ‘em,” Wedge says, and the X-wings drop down out of the sky in formation, cannons lighting up the Imperial war machines.

“Okay, okay,” Bodhi says, feeling his pulse race as he lands the shuttle gently on the lake shore. Tank droids— “They’re not here for retrieval,” he calls out, unstrapping and hurrying to the ramp; it lowers agonizingly slowly, the smell of algae and water seeping in around the edges. “They’re here to destroy the equipment.”

Hobbie’s on his heels, face grim. “Rogue Leader?” he says into his comm.

“Yeah, I heard. We’ll take out those tanks, concentrate on the survivors,” Wedge orders, and Bodhi releases a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. The ramp finally goes down all the way onto the sand, and he and Hobbie sprint out into the waves, squinting in the sunlight at the Nonnah’s troops splashing and stumbling towards them. There are a dozen and a half or so; they’ll fit in the shuttle, easy.

On the shore, one of the tank droids explodes, and he ducks as flaming shrapnel shoots meters into the air and an X-wing shrieks past. “Is this everybody?” Bodhi yells.

The woman in the lead, supporting a soaked, limping crewmate, shakes her head. “Captain’s trying to salvage some of the intel,” she shouts at him. They all flinch as a torpedo disintegrates overhead, another X-wing soaring up through the debris.

Bodhi swallows, but there’s no time to lose. “Hobbie, get them inside. I’m going after the captain—”

Hobbie’s face is pale. “Bodhi—Rieekan says TIE bombers incoming—”

“Then hurry!” Bodhi yells over his shoulder, already splashing away as fast as he can, heart hammering in his chest. I didn’t make it off Scarif to die in some lake—Bodhi loses his footing as the shoreline drops out from under him, comes up out of the water coughing and spluttering. I didn’t come here to drown! He kicks off his boots and starts to swim towards the wreck of the Nonnah.

He gets all the way out to it, and then he just stares uncomprehendingly at the bow, which is tilted almost thirty degrees in the air with no obvious way to get inside. He has no idea how the survivors even got out. “Captain!” Bodhi screams, treading water and pushing his wet hair out of his face. I don't know their name, I should've gotten a name! He waits twenty terrifying heartbeats, watching Rogue Squadron wheel and dive at the walker and tank droids—hears the roar of TIE bombers approaching from the east—

(Scarif Base on fire all around them, Tonc shouting in his ear, “We have to leave them, we’ll never make it out, they’re pinned down on the beach—”)

Bodhi shuts his eyes and prays as the TIE bombers start their first run.

Chapter Text

(Bodhi hadn't left them.

Though he’d lost Tonc, in the end, to an unlucky shot when the soldier had leaned out the side of the shuttle's ramp, screaming for the remainder of the Rebel troops to run, including Baze, carrying Chirrut’s limp body, sand and spray fountaining up around them, death on their heels. The pilot of Blue Squadron's downed U-wing had been among the survivors; she’d had scrambled straight up to the cockpit to help, taking control of the laser cannons and laying down suppressing fire.

He’d gotten off the ground again, somehow, heart racing but hands steady, always steady, on the controls. Had flown through the gauntlet of TIEs to swoop in and pluck Jyn and a terribly wounded Cassian off the communications tower—Kaytoo sprinting across the platform at the last possible second and leaping across the widening gap into the shuttle—)

“Bodhi?!”

He opens his eyes, and the U-wing pilot from Blue Squadron is swimming towards him from the Nonnah. He thinks, wildly, that the light reflecting off the water is playing tricks on him, or his memories have gotten scrambled once more. But as she gets closer, it really is Laren Joma smiling at him, opening her mouth to call to him again—

—and the TIE bombers’ concussion missiles hit. His vision whites out—he’s gone deaf, too, and it's only from the flashing heat of the air, the surging percussion of the waves tossing him away, that he can tell the bombers keep coming, keep hitting their target. Molten durasteel rains down, droplets of scalding pain when they burn through his flight jacket.

He gasps at the surface, is swamped again by another wave, but something collides with him underwater—softer than metal or plasteel—it’s Captain Joma. Bodhi flails to grab her arms, breaks out of the waves again, choking as he gulps both air and water, trying to get a better grip around her waist. Hauls her dead-weight body after him as he struggles blindly towards shore and the shuttle.

(“—we’ll never make it out—”)

His bare feet find shifting, but solid, sand. Insistent hands tug him into the safety of his ship, pull Joma away from his grasp. Bodhi falls to his hands and knees, panting, rivulets of water streaming off his face and hair and beard. Someone throws a survival blanket over his shoulders and pushes him into a seat, strapping him in with a pat on the back.

Bodhi feels the vibrations of the engine as the shuttle launches into the sky; he presses his wet hands to his face and shakes like he’s coming to pieces.

I’m the pilot

They wanted me back in the fight—

Bodhi’s vision starts returning just in time for him to see an X-wing take out two TIE Interceptors, one right after the other, Hobbie throwing his head back and whooping as he soars up through atmosphere towards Rieekan’s command ship.

He looks for Joma and finds her unconscious and strapped in across two seats, her second-in-command tearing through a medkit. The officer glances at him; her mouth forms the words thank you.

We’re not out of this yet

Bodhi unstraps and stumbles forward to the cockpit, only falling once as the shuttle shudders and spins. Then they’re clear of the fight, running for home, Hobbie grabbing him and shoving him, dripping, into the pilot’s chair, eyes exhilarated and mouth moving too fast to follow.

His hearing is starting to come back, but he immediately regrets that: “—cking promised!” Wedge is bellowing into the comms. “I told you Luke was gonna kill me if I didn't keep you safe and you went out there in some asinine leave-no-one-behind self-sacrificing bullshi—”

“Uh, boss?” Hobbie says, tentatively, dropping back into his own seat. “You know you're on an open line right now?”

There's a brief pause.

“Let's go home so I can kick your—”

Hobbie toggles off the comms and looks at Bodhi. “I think he's gonna go on like that for a while.”

Bodhi says raspily, a little surprised he even has a voice left, since all his other senses had deserted him, “Technically—” has to stop and cough— “technically I didn't disobey a direct order?”

Hobbie just shakes his head at him in dismay.

But back at Thila Base, Wedge doesn’t get a shot at him, because Cassian’s pushing through the troops and medical team surrounding Joma and marching straight at Bodhi, Jyn right behind. Bodhi takes a couple of cautious steps backwards into the shuttle’s hold at the sight of them both. Jyn still looks pissed—

She surprises the hell out of Bodhi by grabbing him in a tight hug even though he protests, “I’m all wet—” only letting go when he grunts in pain.

“You—youwhy—what were you thinking— ” Cassian is shouting, jabbing a finger in Bodhi’s face, more inarticulate than he’s ever seen him.

Bodhi clutches the edges of the soaked blanket around him, swaying on his feet, eyes darting back and forth between his friends, his vision starting to gray out at the edges.

Jyn grins, bright, though her eyes flick up and down at him, worried. “Ignore him, he’s so proud of you, Bodhi—you did it, you got her, everybody, out safe—”

“I didn’t need a blaster,” Bodhi mumbles, nonsensically, and collapses into Cassian’s arms.

*****

White walls—too-bright lights—I'm in the medcenter.

Again.

This time, though, when he wakes, it’s to Cassian and Jyn squaring off about something, Kaytoo standing to one side like a referee, turning his head back and forth to watch the scrum.

“What if there are spies among these new defectors?”

Jyn has her hands on her hips, glaring back at Cassian. “Isn’t it our job to make sure that doesn’t happen? You saw the evidence—”

Kaytoo says, “Bodhi’s awake,” and they break off arguing immediately and come over to his side.

“You had a concussion,” Cassian says, as Jyn kisses Bodhi on the cheek. “So did Laren Joma, along with a couple of broken bones, but she’s fine, and she saved us the intelligence on the equipment that the Imperials were trying to destroy.”

Bodhi starts to cough, can’t stop for a few seconds. Kaytoo lifts his hand as if he’s going to pound him on the back and Bodhi’s eyes go wide— “You also swallowed half the lake,” Jyn comments, as Cassian pushes Kaytoo’s hand away.

“Is Wedge—”

“Oh, yeah, he’s fuming in the corridor ‘cause Kaytoo locked him out,” Jyn replies, a little gleefully, but her face falls as she sees Bodhi twisting his hands together on his lap anxiously.

Cassian shoots her a look. “Wedge isn’t really angry with you, Bodhi, no one’s angry because you did what you thought was right. Even if it was ridiculously dangerous—” He cuts himself off as his voice starts to climb.

“I couldn’t just leave her behind,” Bodhi gets out, feeling like his throat is closing up on every word.

“We know,” Jyn says, her eyes shining wetly, and the room goes quiet for a moment except for the sound of choked-back tears.  

Bodhi exhales shakily. “So—what were you arguing about?”

Cassian lifts his head and swipes at his own eyes, every inch the professional again. “The equipment Joma was carrying was proof of a biological weapon the Empire used on Dentaal. An Imperial Commander—Crix Madine, do you know of him?” Bodhi shakes his head, and Cassian goes on, “Madine sent information on the Candorian plague he claims to have helped unleash on the Dentaalians, and Joma’s team was trying to confirm it.”

“A plague?”

Jyn touches his hand and says, unhappily, “We haven’t been able to verify if there are any survivors.”

Bodhi stares at her, horrified. The image of Chirrut and Baze withering away slowly on the Temple steps drifts, unbidden, into his mind. At least Jedha died clean, and fast—

“Madine wants to defect,” Cassian says. “We were arguing about whether this, the other recent defections, might be a ruse to get Imperial spies into our ranks.”

“It’s a risk we have to take!” Jyn whirls back to him, instantly ready to resume their fight.

Bodhi glances between the two of them, thinking of how Cassian had talked him slowly, urgently, back to reality in the cramped and dirty cell on Jedha. “Back—back then, you didn’t think I—”

“Of course not.” Cassian’s smiling at him, fond.  

Kaytoo says, helpfully, “You were far too pathetic to have been a spy. I don’t think you should be a spy now. In fact, it’s much safer for you to stay off active duty altogether until you have addressed the many—Cassian, why have you been pressing on my foot with your foot for the last eleven point four five seconds?”

Jyn makes a face like she’s trying to keep from laughing.

“Thank you for that assessment, I wasn't planning on joining up with Intel, no, Kaytoo,” Bodhi says, wryly.

“Princess Leia and the generals want our recommendation on extracting Madine,” Cassian says. “We’re waiting for Joma to wake up, too, see what she thinks.”

Bodhi tries to talk again, coughs—leans hurriedly away from Kaytoo’s descending hand—manages, “It’s a chance.” He looks at them, tries to make them see it the way he does. “I was too late with Galen’s message—”

Jyn’s shaking her head— “Bodhi, no—”

“I was too late,” Bodhi insists, “and I had to make it right. Keep trying to get it right,” hoarse, thinking of the angry distrust in Yendor’s face as he’d hit him, Joma’s limp body weighing down his arms in the water. “Let Madine have his chance to try, too.”

Cassian exchanges glances with Jyn, and folds his arms. “If we do this, we’re gonna need an Imperial shuttle and a pilot,” he says, noncommittally.

Bodhi nods. “I'll—I’ll be ready.”

Chapter Text

Bodhi is in and out of the strategy planning sessions for the next handful of days. The mission’s nearly a go, but infiltrating one of the most tightly-controlled, Imperial-occupied cities on Corellia, a Core World apparently requires a lot more preparation than stealing a cargo ship and trusting in the Force.

Cassian and Jyn get an earful from General Draven on the first day about Bodhi’s security clearance, or lack thereof, to know about Madine, so he mostly tries to stay off the general’s radar, only showing up when he’s specifically summoned to answer a question about Imperial communications or security. He spends a lot of time going over the Lambda-class shuttle—it had taken some damage on Chorax, nothing that couldn’t be chalked-up to regular service, but he’d rather it look like it belongs in a gleaming metropolis than stand out, banged-up and battle-scarred.

Wedge continues to serve as Rogue Leader in the meetings, working out insertion and extraction plans with General Rieekan, who’s conferencing with Corellian officials as a cover for snatching up Madine. And Baze and Chirrut are back, recalled to assist in planning for possible urban ground fighting.

Which, after the third day, leaves Bodhi wondering: Where in the galaxy is Luke?

It’s not standard for a commander to just disappear and leave his squadron for weeks at a time; even in the Rebellion, with its looser regulations and occasional deviations from protocol, that sort of thing is strongly discouraged. He figures it’s probably Luke’s special status as a potential Jedi that lets him off the hook, but it’s still highly unusual.

(It never would have happened in the Empire, status or no; even Darth Vader himself answered to the Emperor, and would never have deviated from his duties, whatever terrible things those were.)

The rest of Rogue Squadron doesn’t know where Luke is, and are by and large unconcerned about it. Zev’s hypothesis is that Luke’s off looking for some fabled kyber crystal, which makes Bodhi wince, remembering his despairing, inebriated ramblings of so many nights ago, while Hobbie grouses cynically that it’s a big galaxy, and there’s really no way to know what happens to a man out there.

Cassian doesn’t seem to know, either, and gives him a funny look when he asks, over dinner one night, like he’d thought Bodhi already knew. Bodhi doesn’t really want to go higher in the chain of command; as clearly demonstrated by Draven’s relentless, wary scrutiny, he doesn’t have that kind of pull, anyway.

Which leaves—

The Millennium Falcon’s been docked in the hangar since Rieekan and Draven started planning Madine’s extraction; Han Solo’s Corellian, like Wedge, and from what Bodhi’s heard in the meetings, knows Coronet City like the back of his hand.

More important to Bodhi’s personal mission, though: he’s allegedly Luke’s best friend. If anyone would know where Luke’s disappeared off to, why he isn’t leading his squadron on essential missions, or—why he didn't come visit me—it would be Han Solo.

So on the fourth day, even though his distrust of smugglers still runs deep—especially after that meeting with Talon Karrde— Bodhi puts in a visit to the Millennium Falcon. Chewbacca is crouched on top of the hull, rewiring the sensor dish, when he approaches.

“Hey,” Bodhi calls to him, and Chewbacca growls a greeting. “Is Captain Solo around?”

Chewbacca nods distractedly back, waving a large and furry arm for him to go inside.

Bodhi walks up the ramp into the Falcon, and finds himself wandering a little, hands stuffed into the pockets of his new flight jacket so he’ll keep from poking around curiously in Solo’s numerous modifications. The hyperdrive’s the most legendary, of course, but there’s also weapons system upgrades and an anarchy of wiring running all over the ship. The smuggler’s nowhere to be found, though, so he calls out, “Captain Solo?”

Solo’s voice drifts through the ship to him. “Yeah, come on up. Unless I owe you credits. Then go away.”

Up?

He finally figures it out and climbs into the dorsal turret, where Solo is lying on his back under the quad laser cannon, an over-stuffed tool kit open on the floor next to him, muttering as he works on the weapon.

“I can come back later,” Bodhi says uncertainly, and Solo startles, smacking his head on the underside of the turret’s chair and dropping his tools.

Ow, blast—”

Bodhi leans down, sticking his hand out to help pull Solo free. “You all right? Sorry about that.”

Solo grabs his arm and shimmies out, wiping his hands on an already grease-smudged rag and standing. “Had a problem with that power cycler on our last trip, gotta nail it down before it takes one of us out while we’re trying to take out—oh, hey, kid,” he says, recognizing Bodhi at last. “What’s going on?”

“‘Kid?’” Bodhi scrutinizes Solo’s face.

The smuggler shrugs, motions for Bodhi to go down the ladder before him, climbs down after. “You, Luke, Leia, your Intelligence buddies, you’re all kids. Don’t get me wrong, age is just a number, but some of us have been around the galaxy a few more times.”

Bodhi says, “I’m twenty-fi—” He hesitates. Age is just a number—try something else or he’s just going to dismiss you—“I saw your SLAM overdrive on the SRB42s.”

Solo’s eyes light up as he walks them back through the main corridor. “Yeah. Probably pretty different from the Lambda-class shuttles you’ve been flying with the Rogues.”

“And I flew Zeta-class for a long time before that,” Bodhi says, shifting fully into gear now. “They’re sluggish compared to the P-s3 ions on the TIEs, but the Falcon would definitely dust them all at sublight.”

“If you want, I’ll take you out sometime, show you what she can really do,” Solo offers. “But—I got the feeling you didn’t come up to talk shop.” His eyes narrow at him suspiciously.

Bodhi rubs the back of his neck, suddenly feeling kind of silly. “Um. Where’s Luke?”

A slow smirk spreads across Solo’s face, and he stops in the corridor, leaning up against the bulkhead. “Ah-ha,” he says. “I told him if he turned the tables on you, you’d fold eventually.”

Bodhi frowns. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Solo waves a hand at him. “You know, the whole brooding, aloof, tragic hero thing. I told him to flip it around, make you come to—” Bodhi’s giving him a befuddled stare. “What?”

“Brooding?”

“I don’t know, what do you call it? You’re off by yourself, you don’t let anyone except your Rogue One buddies get close to you—maybe Wedge? I’ve seen you with him sometimes, Antilles likes pilots.” Solo leans in conspiratorially, adding, “Are you sleeping with Andor and Erso? You can tell me, I’ll let Luke down easy.”

Bodhi throws his hands up, completely bewildered. “What in the eternal blue blazes are you talking about—” cuts himself off, realizing what Solo had asked—

“I’m not sleeping with Cassian or Jyn!”

Solo raises a finger, chuckling, as Bodhi’s flustered shout reverberates throughout the ship. “‘And.’ I said ‘and.’”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Bodhi says, rubbing the back of his neck again. “I—you think I’m aloof? Flip what around? Let Luke down?”

“You don’t know? ” Solo freezes, and starts again, slowly, as if he’s come to some kind of epiphany, like a man walking into an ocean and finally noticing the water’s gone over his head. “Maybe—” he casts a furtive glance over Bodhi’s shoulder at the ramp behind him, his lifeline—“Maybe instead, you forget I said anything at all?”

Bodhi slaps his hand on the controls and keeps it there, glaring, as the ramp rises and closes them in. There’s a questioning, annoyed-sounding howl from Chewbacca on the hull.

“It’s my ship, you know,” Solo points out, sounding amused, but not budging from his casual lean against the bulkhead. “I think this counts as piracy. Also, I could just walk around to the other docking port—”

“Where is Luke?” Bodhi demands. “Why do you think I’m sleeping with—with my friends? What did you tell Luke to do?”

“You got your priorities in a weird order, Bodhi,” Solo says, stretching his long legs into the corridor and grinning, and Bodhi just waits him out, hand firmly planted over the ramp control panel, raising his eyebrows. “Okay, okay. Don’t tell anybody I told you. Luke is in the Devaron system looking for some kind of Jedi thing, ask your monk friend about it. I don’t think you’re sleeping with him, by the way, he seems pretty married to that other guy, what’s his name, Baze.”

“They’ve been married for decades.”

Never mind how long it took us to pry that information out of them—Bodhi's mouth twitches involuntarily at the memory.

“Yeah, that makes sense. I thought you might be sleeping with Andor and/or Erso because everybody’s pairing off around here—” he sounds oddly aggrieved at that—“Something about wartime and taking any chance you get. People see you three together a lot, and they talk.” Solo shrugs again. “And some people go in for more than pairs. Hey, I’m not judging,” he says, holding his hands up. “Whatever fuels your power cells.”

Bodhi crosses his arms, forgetting he’s trying to keep Solo from leaving. “And ‘turning the tables?’”

The smuggler’s lips twitch. “You really don’t know what I’m talking about?” Bodhi shakes his head.

Solo looks up at the ceiling, lets out a long breath. “Luke’s got this—hero-worship thing for you,” he says finally, and Bodhi shivers a little, unhappily, confused by his own reaction, his stuttering leaping heart.

“He talks about you all the time, how brave you are, where you learned how to fly, what it must’ve been like running away from the Empire. He damn near interrogated anybody he could talk to about Scarif, after you first blew him off back on Yavin Four—”

“I didn’t—”

“You weren’t blowing him off?”

“No,” Bodhi says. “I get—I can’t talk about what I did, it—it’s not the kind of story people want to hear.”

Solo points at him. “See? This. This is aloof. Mysterious.”

“What—no, you’ve got it all wrong,” Bodhi protests. “I mean I can’t talk about it, it’s horrible what happened, all because I—” To his horror, his voice cracks, and he stops, swallowing nervously.

“Hey.” Solo puts a hand on his shoulder—Bodhi trembles at his touch, and he immediately pulls his hand back, looking concerned. “We’ve all done things we’re not proud of.”

“Not Luke,” Bodhi points out. He’s pretty sure Luke hasn’t so much as been arrested, even for the juvenile types of stunts he, and other bored adolescents, had tried to pull on Jedha.

“Well. He’s something else.” Solo’s smirk shifts into something like a genuine smile. “You really should put in some effort, get to know him. I mean, the kid did save your life.”

“He saved all our lives,” Bodhi says, puzzled. “When he destroyed the Death Star—”

“Oh, yeah, that.” Solo shakes his head. “No, when he got you out of that fight a couple weeks back?”

Jyn found me first.”

“Only because Luke knew something was wrong and sent people out looking for you,” Solo says. “You should’ve seen his face. And don’t ask me how he knew, I don’t know how the Force works.” He thumps a hand against the corridor bulkhead. “That about it? We got a mission to prep for, kid.”

“The mission—? Captain Solo, I’ve got more questions now—”

Solo grins and moves to clap Bodhi on the shoulder, but holds back. “Ask Luke yourself. He’s coming with us to Corellia.”

Chapter Text

Cassian and Jyn are standing behind Generals Rieekan and Draven in the full, locked-down briefing. It’s an Intelligence mission, after all, they’re the Alliance’s left hand—but Bodhi can’t help but wish they were at his side in the back of the room.

“Let me get this out of the way, first,” Draven says. “Yes, Commander Madine has admitted responsibility for releasing the Candorian plague that killed the Dentaalians.” A murmur goes around the room, and Bodhi, unable to separate out general consternation from disgust, braces for the eyes that will inevitably track towards him, Wedge, Hobbie—but only Luke is looking at him, and it's not with condemnation.

Bodhi drops his gaze. Hero-worship? 

“Madine has agreed to stand trial for war crimes—if and when we win this war. We can use his knowledge and expertise to do that,” Draven continues. “General Rieekan?”

“Commander Skywalker, Captain Solo, and Rogue Squadron will escort me to the conference at the Capitol Tower, here.” Rieekan points to the tallest building on the map as it swivels to project Coronet City’s skyline, the wireframe outline of the tower glowing.

“They will then patrol Corellian airspace for any Imperial activity indicating they’ve discovered our presence, and should that occur, they will engage the Imperial forces to further divert attention from the extraction team. Captain Andor and Sergeant Erso’s team—Rogue One—” Bodhi thinks Rieekan’s always had a soft spot for them, not like General Draven—“will take our stolen Imperial shuttle to the Tech Center.”

The map lights up an octagonal compound of buildings a few stories shorter than the Tower, linked by enclosed, but airy, skybridges on their fourth and top floors. “Commander Madine agreed that the Tech Center was the best location to pull him out. The Rogue One team will go in through the Aurek Building, it’s the least secured of all the entrances. You’ll need to find a way to make contact; Madine’s been renting out all the penthouse offices to serve as a rotating series of safehouses until we arrive.”

Solo mutters sarcastically, audibly enough for Bodhi to hear, which means everyone can hear him, “Oh, that’s inconspicuous.” Luke doesn’t hide his reaction, grinning and shaking his head at his friend.

Rieekan spares the smuggler the briefest of glances and possibly an eye-roll. “Corellia is still an Imperial-occupied world. We’ll be going in before local sunrise to lessen the possibility of collateral damage, should the Imperials respond in force.”

Bodhi feels sick. He looks around at his fellow rebels, who are nodding. He pushes down the memories of the ejecta cloud on Jedha falling across the horizon towards the Catacombs of Cadera—desperately outracing the endless killing light on Scarif—

“Commander Madine is an extremely important asset to the Empire. We know the Emperor will be sending his best people to track him down. But we're sending ours, too.” Draven looks around the room, his gaze skipping over Bodhi and the other ex-Imperials. “May the Force be with you.”

*****

“Rieekan’s conference sounds very boring,” Kaytoo says, in the co-pilot’s chair, already done with his half of the preflight sequence. “I have reviewed holos of the guests and come to the conclusion that most, if not all, public officials should not be allowed indefinite periods of time in which to speak.”

“It's a good thing you're not going to the conference, then, isn't it?” Jyn says, from behind Bodhi’s seat.

“I cannot imagine what the Senate must have been like,” Kaytoo continues. “Thousands of worlds with thousands of equally boring speakers.”

“Princess Leia must have been pretty good, though,” Bodhi offers, loyally.

Kaytoo looks at him. “I suppose,” he allows. “But she is not attending.”

“She’s out looking for Alderaanian survivors again,” Cassian says, from the aft compartment. “Don’t tell anyone I told you that, Bodhi, you’re not supposed to know.”

The words are out of his mouth before he can stop them, ugly and hurting. “What, does Draven think I’m going to try to finish the job?”

Jyn’s mouth falls open, and Kaytoo even makes a little surprised noise. Cassian draws back as if wounded. “Bodhi—”

“Never mind,” he says, already regretting it, and turns back to his side of the console.

Cassian unstraps and comes forward, putting his hand on Bodhi’s shoulder. “I’ll talk to Draven again about upping your clearance,” he murmurs. “I’m sorry.”

“We don’t think that,” Jyn says, low, unnecessarily. “We trust you. We all do.”

Bodhi swallows and ducks his head. “I know. It’s all right.”

“What’s going on up there?” Chirrut calls. “Baze, you aren’t giving me any of the gossip.”

“Nothing,” Cassian says, going back and sitting down. “Let’s get to Corellia.”

*****

Corellia is stunning, even in the dark.

“I’ve never seen a planet like this,” Bodhi says, gazing raptly at the necklace of lights strung along the coastline as he takes them into the descent. Jedha was— nothing, and Bamayar unlivable by any standard.

“They call Coronet City the Jewel of Corellia,” Cassian comes forward again, leaning over Bodhi’s shoulder. “There’s the Tower for Rieekan’s conference—I hear the view from there is spectacular.”

“Baze, tell me what you see,” Chirrut says, imperiously.

Baze snorts. “Nothing. It’s night.”

“I never saw much of the view,” Jyn puts in. “All the fun’s down in the Blue Sector.” Bodhi looks up in time to catch Cassian rolling his eyes at her affectionately.

Kaytoo leans over and says, “I have records of all the things Jyn has bought or stolen from this planet. There are some very interesting devices for se—”

Cassian hurriedly interrupts. “I see the Tech Center.”

Bodhi bites his lip to keep from snickering, and puts them down on the empty landing pad outside Aurek Building marked “Reserved.”

“Madine’s signaling us from the Grek Building,” Jyn says. Bodhi looks down at his panel and doesn’t see anything; she taps his arm and redirects his gaze up towards the Tech Center. There’s a blinking light coming from the top floor of one of the buildings.

“Low-tech,” he says.

“Yeah, well, get ready to get past some very high tech,” Cassian says. “Let’s go.”

Kaytoo and Chirrut knock out the Aurek Building’s CorSec guards; Kaytoo plugs into the security port and taps the fingers of his other hand against the duracrete wall arrhythmically. “For a Tech Center, that was far too easy,” he says, as the doors slide open. "I have a—"

"Not now, Kay, please," Cassian says, and leads them into the Aurek Building. Bodhi keeps one ear listening to Rogue Squadron on his comlink as they move towards the stairs.

“Luke, I’m picking up strange transmissions outside the city,” Wedge says. “Looks like Imperial signals.”

“Yeah, I see them, Artoo can’t tell if they’ve picked up on us yet. Let’s do a flyby, see if there’s anything to worry about.” Luke sounds relentlessly cheerful, as always. “Han, you coming?”

Solo’s voice is sharp, irritated. “We’re still being inspected, got CorSec crawling all over us. Can’t take off again to join you until it’s finished, but Rieekan got out the other docking port and he’s on his way to the conference.”

“Sorry, good luck with that.” Luke’s amused. “Okay, Wedge, Zev, you’re with me, let’s check out those transmissions.”

Jyn’s looking at Bodhi; she raises her eyebrows.

He nods at her, shutting off his comlink and dropping it back in his pocket. “Rogues are going to check out something outside the city. Solo’s stuck in—well, customs, but everything seems fine.”

Cassian throws a glance over his shoulder at him. “Don’t worry about them. Come on.”

They’ve gone up a couple of flights when Chirrut stops abruptly on the stairs, his hand clutching at Baze’s arm. “Something has gone wrong,” he says, and then the Tech Center rumbles with a series of small tremors in quick succession, the already dim lighting flickering.

“Bodhi,” Cassian snaps, but he’s anticipated it, is already flicking on his comlink.

“—diversion, get back there now,” Luke is ordering. “We’ve got to stop those TIE bombers before they bring the whole Tower down.”

Bodhi turns wide eyes to his friends, feeling sick again. “They’re going after Rieekan.”

“Okay, that’s our diversion,” Jyn says, grimly. “Let’s make the most of it.”

On the fourth floor, though, the Tech Center shakes again, and a fireball blooms into the night sky, much closer than the ongoing attack on the Capitol Tower. Bodhi rushes out of the stairwell to the side of the skybridge to look down, heedless of how Cassian tries to hold him back—“I think that was my shuttle,” he says, dismayed.

There’s a small squadron of stormtroopers, fewer than Bodhi would have expected, marching towards Aurek Building. “ And I’m pretty sure they know we’re here.”

Kaytoo says, “The odds of our mission succeeding are—”

“Not now,” Cassian says, coming onto the skybridge, his brow furrowing. “Bodhi, there’s landing pads all over the city, see if you can spot another ship we can take. Baze, Jyn?”

Jyn presses her lips together, thinking out loud. “They know we’re here for Madine, but they don’t know which building he’s hiding in, so they’ll be tracking us to figure it out. No communications in or out until it’s over.”

Baze says, “We should split up so they must divide their forces, or risk losing Madine to us.”

“All right,” Cassian says, as Chirrut nods agreement. “Bodhi?”

Bodhi’s been leaning against the wall of the skybridge, scanning the gleaming city lights for options. “The closest ship is a yacht on the roof of that apartment complex a block over.” He turns back to his friends, stilling his unsteady fingers by pressing them against the cool transparisteel behind him. “You don’t want to contact Rogue Squadron for backup?”

Cassian shakes his head. “Look.” In the distance, the Tower is on fire; the black specks of Rogue Squadron’s airspeeders just visible against its fatal glow.

Now can I tell you the odds?” Kaytoo asks.  

No,” everyone says, in unison.

“Okay,” Cassian says, decisively. “Jyn, Baze, Kay, you’re on Madine. Get to him—quickly, but detour a bit if you can—and sit on him. Chirrut, Bodhi, we’re going to lead the rest of the Imperials around by the nose, and then steal that yacht.” His eyes linger on Jyn for a second, as good as a kiss goodbye— “Stay off comms until I call.”

Baze catches Bodhi’s arm as they pass each other. “Are you sure you don’t want a blaster? I have extras.” He flips open his cloak to show the additional three wicked-looking weapons on his belt.

Bodhi shakes his head. Baze looks unhappy, but squeezes his arm gently. “Be careful.”

“Up or down?” Cassian is asking Chirrut, when Bodhi joins them in the stairwell. “Can you sense where they’ll go?”

“It doesn’t work like that,” Chirrut replies, a touch exasperatedly. “I’m still not a Jedi, you know.”

“They’d normally spread out, go floor by floor,” Bodhi says. “But they think we’ll lead them right to him.”

“Up and around, then,” Cassian decides. “Nice and visible on the skybridges. We’re going to have to move fast. Ready?”

Bodhi nods. “I’m with you.”

“I hate stairs,” Chirrut mutters, putting his free hand on the railing. “Okay. Go.”

They run up four more flights to the eighth floor; Cassian slows to a jog across the long skybridge between the Aurek Building and the Esk Building, making a point of getting out a glow rod and lighting their way.

Chirrut stands guard as Cassian picks the lock to get them into the Esk Building; then they’re moving through a labyrinth of silent dark offices before exiting out the northeast door onto another skybridge. Bodhi glances down, once, into the courtyard as they cross, and sees the stormtroopers looking up and pointing.

“They’ve spotted us,” he reports.

“Great,” Cassian says, and grins tightly at him. “Keep moving.”

Bodhi pretends not to notice that Cassian’s hands have gone a little unsteady as he works the lock on the Dorn Building. The Dorn Building’s top floor is a holo studio, shut down since Madine rented it—there are half-written flimsy scripts in the trash and lewd sketches pasted to the walls. And then they’re out in the open again—

A red-haired woman wearing all black is coming towards them from the opposite end of the skybridge, from the Cresh Building, a handful of stormtroopers flanking her. Cassian holds up his hand, and Bodhi stops behind him, his heart already racing from running around the Center; he thinks it can’t possibly beat any faster. Chirrut moves to Cassian’s side, his stick at the ready.

“Going to see Commander Madine?” the woman asks, smirking at them.   

Cassian says, softly, smiling back at her, “You guessed wrong.”

She shrugs. “No matter. The other half of my squad will be on your other half in minutes.” Her eyes slide past Cassian and land on Bodhi. “I know your face,” she says. “You’re that cargo pilot from Eadu.” Cassian’s posture stiffens, and he just barely turns his head towards Bodhi.

“Jedha, actually,” Bodhi corrects her, a little surprised at the sudden surge of anger that has him adding spitefully, “I bet all planets look the same to the Empire.”

“Two traitors in one place,” she says, ignoring him. “What are the odds?” Kaytoo would know, Bodhi thinks, wildly. “The Emperor will be very pleased.”

Cassian snatches his blaster up out of his holster and fires—

—and she blocks his shot with her lightsaber.

“Oh, shit,” Chirrut says, and drops into a more aggressive fighting stance, turning his head towards the hum of her magenta blade.

“Bodhi, run,” Cassian snaps, and he starts to obey, but—I can’t just leave them. He thumbs on his comlink, stammers, “We—we’ve got trouble—” to whoever might be listening, before the comlink is snatched from his grasp, sailing across the skybridge into the woman’s outstretched hand as he gapes after it.

The woman waves the comlink at him. “Good try.” She tilts her head, appraising Chirrut curiously. “Take them.” The stormtroopers advance before her, and Chirrut moves to meet them in his deadly dance.

Cassian keeps firing one-handed, yanking Bodhi along with him as he takes cover behind a decorative plant. Chirrut swirls and fights on as the woman keeps coming—she flicks Cassian’s shots aside with her lightsaber, stalking down the skybridge towards them with a predator’s grace. The transparisteel walls are rapidly cratered with fire.

“You are no Jedi,” Chirrut calls, over the firefight. He swats stormtroopers down, launching himself off of their falling bodies towards his next hapless opponent; spinning and leaping backwards, at Cassian’s side for an instant before striking again. “Who are you? Where did you learn the ways of the Force?”

She doesn’t reply, deflects a blaster bolt straight back at Cassian—

Chirrut breaks his step and grabs Cassian’s collar, hauling him aside—the shot takes Cassian in the shoulder instead of the chest, and he spins and crashes to the floor, shouting “Run!” again at Bodhi—

Bodhi turns on his heel, panting with terror for his friend, and dashes belatedly back for the stairs—

—there’s the click and whine of a blaster rifle preparing to fire.

“O—Okay, okay.” Bodhi puts his hands up and backs away from the reinforcements pouring up from the stairwell of the Dorn Building, glancing over his shoulder at Cassian’s face going hard, eyes glittering with dread where he’s sprawled on the floor.

Too late. Failed again.  Sorry, Cassian. Sorry, everybody.

The woman is facing off with Chirrut at the center of the skybridge, the humming magenta blade at his throat magnitudes brighter than the oncoming dawn. Her free hand gestures, and Bodhi freezes as Cassian’s blaster leaps off the floor into her grasp and she aims it squarely at Cassian’s head without even so much as glancing at him. “I’ll kill them both before you can lay a hand on me,” she tells Chirrut. “You know I can.”

Chirrut lets his stick fall to the floor and slowly raises his hands. “Is this the life you were meant to lead?” he asks her.

“Is this where you thought you would die?” she retorts, shutting down her lightsaber and hooking it to her belt. She waves the newly arrived troopers forward to take them.

He smiles and shakes his head as a stormtrooper comes over with a set of binders. “Even your master doesn’t know when or where he will die,” he says. “Maybe you will be the one who kills him? I hear that’s how they do it on the dark side of the Force.”

The woman kicks his staff up into her hands and examines it. “You don’t know anything about me,” she says, casually.

Bodhi’s eyes go wide as he watches the stormtrooper close the binders around Chirrut’s wrists, and he wants to throw up. The skybridge corridor seems too small, all of a sudden, its clear walls closing on him like the sky of falling stone—

Cassian glares as the stormtrooper puts binders on him next, and hauls him to his knees, not bothering to heed his wounded shoulder.

(Jyn says, “Until all our chances are spent.”)

The stormtrooper comes over to Bodhi last—he’s the least of the possible threats—and he’s panting, unable to tear his eyes away from the binders in the trooper’s armored hands.

“No, no no no—please don’t, I’ll go quietly, don’t put those on me—” Bodhi tries to back away, bumps into the end of a blaster rifle nudging his ribs. A heavy hand comes down on his shoulder, holding him fast, and he gasps, frantic, as the other stormtrooper yanks his hands in front of him, slaps the binders tightly around his wrists.

Something like a sob shakes him. The stormtrooper’s implacable grip hurts as they try to close the binders over his quaking hands; he struggles to get free, no longer caring if they kill him—

Cassian hisses, “Keep still!”

“Please—I’m the pilot—” and Bodhi’s voice is no longer his own, incoherent pleas trying to escape his mouth as past and present start to converge in his mind—No, not again

The woman turns her fierce green eyes towards Bodhi, frowning as she realizes something is very wrong. “Wait,” she says, half a heartbeat too late—

The binders click shut, and Bodhi is lost.

*****

(—a thick tentacle twining around him, Saw Gerrera standing outside the cell watching, waiting for Bodhi to come apart, give up all his failures—)

“Bodhi? Bodhi, stay with me, it’s all right, you’re—safe—”

(“No lie is safe,” Saw says, and the monster burns at his temples, fire tearing through his memories—

—Galen’s body shrouded in flames on the platform at Eadu—)

 

“What’s wrong with him?”

(“—What’s wrong with him—?”)

Cassian (looking at Bodhi through the cell bars) trying to hold him with his bound hands. “You did this to him.”

(Solo, smirking— “Are you sleeping with Andor and Erso?”

—Cassian’s/Jyn’s kiss on his forehead/cheek—

—and Cassian clings to her like a drowning man, the oceans of Scarif falling away below them—

—the monster holds him down, wrapping heavy limbs over his chest, and he can’t remember how to breathe, it’s taken that from him, like it’s taken his mother his friends his lovers his dreams his hopes—

—Galen’s hope—)

 

Luke’s voice—inside his head, clear as sunlight and utterly horrifying, a lifeline shaped like a tentacle—Hold on, Bodhi! Hold on.

[—Luke cutting a swath of destruction, dealing death with his blue-white lightsaber—]

(“—I am one with the Force and the Force is with me—”

—Just hold on—

*****

Bodhi opens his eyes.

He’s hunched-over on his knees, exhausted and drenched with sweat, breath coming in short gasps. The binders are gone from his wrists, but his sleeves have been pushed back on his arms, revealing the scars from Saw’s restraints, pale against his brown skin. His hands, even clenched in fists on his thighs, won’t stop shaking. But he’s himself again.

Whatever that means.

At a glance, Chirrut is in a seemingly serene meditation pose, eyes closed and whispering his mantra, the Corellian dawn glowing on his face. Cassian’s ragged breaths hitch in his throat where he's kneeling more-or-less upright on Bodhi’s other side, his face reddening where the woman must have struck him.

But the woman herself is crouched in front of Bodhi, her expression surprisingly concerned for someone who had just been trying to kill or capture them. She doesn’t touch him, but her gaze flicks down to his wrists before she looks back at his face, registering that his eyes are open again.

“Someone did this to you,” she says, flatly. “Tortured you until you broke. Was it the Rebels? Is that why you betrayed the Empire? Why you’re with them?”

Luke says in his head, a horror Bodhi can't shake loose, Buy me some time. I'm almost there!

Bodhi doesn't dare look for what Luke might be doing, or again at his friends kneeling next to him. He’s desperate to let go into the darkness and exhaustion still clawing at his mind, but—

Cassian and Chirrut will die. Jyn and Baze and Kaytoo will die.

I can do this.

He thinks they are his own thoughts, and not Luke’s, and that is a terribly small comfort.

Bodhi shudders and ducks his head from the woman's steely eyes. “Please—” He can hardly speak, doesn't have to feign the shakiness of his voice as he fumbles for the words to convince her, keep her focused on him. “Please let me go. I'm—I’m no good to you—I’m just the pilot—”

“Who tortured you?” she asks, and she sounds like she's trying to be gentle but has forgotten how, her edges barely dulled. “Tell me who did this, and in the name of the Emperor, I swear I will bring the hand of judgment down on them.”

Luke’s airspeeder plummets into Bodhi’s line of sight.

The stormtroopers don’t even have time to shout a warning before he opens fire, and the transparisteel wall behind the woman explodes.

Bodhi, his friends, and the woman, are flung sprawling across the skybridge. The stormtroopers surrounding them fare better, but just for a moment; Luke’s airspeeder spits deadly laser fire over Bodhi’s head through the jagged, smoldering opening, and then wheels away into the sky as the troopers fall.

Bodhi can see TIE bombers approaching from the smoke-filled horizon, the first streaks of sunrise glinting off of their panels.

Go! It's Luke's voice again, commanding, and Bodhi clenches his fists at the sides of his head, willing Luke out, trying to suppress a moan as he hunches in on himself on the floor. 

Chirrut is first to his feet, reaching down for Bodhi’s hands, pulling him up, gently holding him steady. The wind whipping at him is cold, but he’d be shivering regardless, sweaty skin going clammy as he tries to put himself back together. He narrows his focus to undoing Chirrut’s binders.

This is the present.

Cassian's hurt.

Luke is—no longer in his head.

The woman pushes herself up, groaning—

Cassian levels his recovered blaster at her with his bound hands even as he struggles to his feet, wincing as the movement pulls at his injured shoulder. “Stay down,” he orders. “Bodhi, are you with us?” His voice is laced with pain and poorly-concealed worry.

Bodhi swallows, finds his own voice again. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m here.”

The woman scowls furiously at him, but she lowers herself back down to the floor, keeping her arms outstretched, visibly far from the lightsaber at her belt, even though Bodhi guesses she could easily pull it to her hand with the Force. “Nice trick, traitor,” she snarls, bitterness coloring her voice. “You really had me thinking you were a scrambled fucking mess.”

“Believe me, I wish I wasn't,” Bodhi tells her, touching his fingers to his temple wearily. She gives him an angry, bewildered look as he steps over to undo Cassian’s binders.

“Get our comlinks,” Cassian says, and Bodhi searches the downed stormtroopers for them while Cassian stoops to pick Chirrut’s stick up off the floor, his blaster held unwaveringly on the woman. “Let's go,” he says, handing Chirrut’s staff to him. Cassian’s moving more stiffly than Bodhi likes, but he’s in no position to point out anyone else’s liabilities.

“May the Force of others be with you,” Chirrut says to the woman, with a grim little smile, and brings his stick down hard on the back of her head. She slumps to the floor.

Bodhi twitches away. “Chirrut—”

“The Force is not done with her yet. I didn't kill her,” Chirrut assures him.

“Let's go,” Cassian repeats, sounding rather like he wouldn’t have minded if Chirrut had. He calls into the comlink as they start to move, stepping over the fallen stormtroopers, “Jyn. Do you have Madine?”

“Cassian,” Kaytoo says. “Are you all right?” His words are punctuated with the sound of blaster fire.

Cassian stops in his tracks, and his voice is terse at the sound of the droid and not Jyn on the com. “Kaytoo—do you have Madine?” Chirrut leans on his stick, turning his head to listen.

“Yes, we’ve got him. I didn’t sit on him, Jyn said I would do permanent damage,” Kaytoo responds. Bodhi is too worn out to smile at that, or even sigh in relief, only sags against the skybridge wall, lacing his fingers together.

Kaytoo adds, “But we’re trapped up here. Jyn and Baze are holding off the Imperials. We won’t be able to get down to you.”

“We don’t have a ship yet anyway,” Cassian tells him.

Bodhi winces guiltily, and even though Chirrut can’t see his face, he turns unerringly in Bodhi’s direction and taps him on the hip with his stick, shaking his head. “Not your fault.”

“All right,” Kaytoo says. “We’ll—oh, no. Oh, no.” The comlink clicks off.

“Kay! Dammit—what’s going on? Kay?!” Cassian shouts, and Bodhi’s heart sinks at the desperation in his friend’s cry.

Kaytoo comes back on. “Baze is letting Jyn use the repeater cannon.” He sounds profoundly aggrieved.

Chirrut snorts a laugh. Cassian just stands there frozen for a second, holding the comlink. “Kay.”

“Yes, Cassian?”

Don’t —ah. We’ll figure a way out. Stay put—”

“Come on up, the air’s great today!” Solo’s voice sings out across the frequency. “The Millennium Falcon provides rooftop pickup service, free of charge. It’s a bit tight, but I think it’s our best shot.”

“Han.” Cassian straightens up. “Get to Jyn’s team first, they’re in the Grek Building with Madine. We’re over in—” he looks around, uncertain—

“Cresh,” Bodhi tells him, softly.

“The Cresh Building.”

“Copy that, Cassian,” Solo replies, the playfulness gone from his tone. “Luke’s circling back to provide cover. Those TIE bombers weren’t kidding around at the Tower, and we’ve got more on the way.”

“All right, you heard him,” Cassian says, turning his comlink off. “Let’s get up there.”

Standing on the rooftop a couple of minutes later, wind tugging at Bodhi’s hair, his gaze follows the dawn as it traces light over the mountains. The Falcon descends onto the rooftop across the way—Cassian’s relief is visible in his eyes as Jyn waves Baze, Kaytoo, and a sandy-haired man who can only be Madine up the ramp before ducking into the ship herself. The repulsorlifts fire, and then the Falcon is maneuvering, low, over to where he and Cassian and Chirrut wait.

Luke’s airspeeder zips past, pursued by a pair of TIE bombers. Chirrut grabs Bodhi and Cassian and pushes them down, flinging himself next to them—Cassian cries out as he hits the duracrete, rolling onto his back, holding his wounded shoulder. Bodhi’s heart is in his throat as he presses flat on the rooftop, watching Luke flinging his airspeeder completely vertical, trying to shake off his pursuers by pushing his ship past the limits of physics.

The Falcon sets down a few meters from them, underside cannon firing—one bomber disintegrates in a ball of flame. The ramp lowers, Kaytoo’s long legs carrying him over the edge of it before it even drops completely—

—Luke is coming back around, killing his speed like he’s going to try something incredibly stupid like land it right here and jump out—Bodhi pushes himself up to his hands and knees, preparing to run, to haul Cassian out of the way—

The pursuing bomber shoots out Luke’s engines—is coming in perfectly aligned to take out the entire rooftop on its pass—

A second airspeeder screams overhead, taking out the TIE with a single shot. Wedge.

But there's nothing Wedge or anyone can do for Luke—Bodhi’s mouth falls open in horror as the airspeeder crashes into the edge of the rooftop and bursts into flame.

“Kay!” Cassian shouts, uselessly—“Get him out—”

But through sheer luck, or the Force, Luke pushes the canopy of his speeder up and climbs out, looking unscathed, exhilarated. He dashes from the flaming wreckage of his airspeeder towards them, calling, “Did we get him? Did you get Madine?”

Cassian waves his hand in relieved acknowledgement as he gets stiffly to his feet, Kaytoo and Chirrut helping him to the Falcon.

As spent as he is, Bodhi feels an unexpected wave of rage wash over him as he stands there, hands curling into fists at his side for a confrontation he isn’t planning. How can Luke be completely fine? I almost failed.

And, under that, as he’s trembling with anger, a rip current of he has no idea what he's done to me—

Luke runs up, throws an arm around Bodhi’s shoulders, and grins, seemingly unaware of his simmering fury. “Bodhi, you did it, you heard me! I didn’t know if you would, I’d never done anything—”

“Stay the fuck out of my head,” Bodhi snaps, and shoves past him up the ramp into the Falcon.

Chapter Text

Solo takes one look at them at the top of the ramp, grabs Luke’s arm and points him in the direction of the turrets. “Luke, get down to the quad cannon, you know how this goes. Bodhi—” He hesitates.

“I'm all right,” Bodhi lies through his teeth. He’s both angry and beyond enervated, but the mission isn't over—there are still TIE bombers in the air, or the woman could wake up and come after them. “Tell me what to do.”

Solo nods, willing to let it go for the moment. He jerks a thumb in the direction of the cockpit. “I don’t trust Cassian’s droid. You’re up front with Chewie, get us home. Don’t break my ship.” He turns and heads for the ladder to the turret.

Luke tries to hold Bodhi’s gaze, starts to reach out to him, but drops his hand before he gets there. “You’re not all right. I—”

“We don’t have time for this,” Bodhi says, shortly, making for the cockpit, unsteady on his feet and reeling against the bulkhead as Chewbacca lifts off. He pushes off with one hand and hurries on.

“After we get out of here, then,” Luke says, trailing after him. “Bodhi?”

“Yeah. Yeah, okay.”

Luke nods, his hair falling in his eyes, and goes down the ladder to the ventral turret.

In the cockpit, the pilot's seat is empty— “Are you sure you don't want to switch?” Bodhi asks Chewbacca. The ship rocks in the air as a TIE bomber darts past, hammering shots off their shields; Solo takes it out with a pulse of laser fire, whooping into the Falcon’s ship-wide comms.

Chewbacca shakes his head and waves Bodhi into the chair. He growls that the navicomputer’s nearly done with the calculations for the jump to hyperspace, but—

“The Capitol Tower's collapsing?” Bodhi’s lingering anger dissipates, transmutes back into dread as he looks to starboard and sees an AT-AT bombarding the tall building in the distance.

“Hobbie and Janson got Rieekan out,” Solo calls.

“But what about all the other people in there?” Bodhi demands, strapping in. He opens and closes his hands, staring down at the controls, uncertain. “We can't just leave—”

“We can, and we will,” Solo says curtly. “Don't get any ideas just ‘cause you’re sitting in my seat.”

Bodhi gazes out the viewport, at the city coming slowly awake below them.

Finish the mission. Get Madine home.

But—

“Yeah, too late,” Bodhi calls back, taking the controls and bringing the Falcon about. Chewbacca huffs amusement as Solo looses a stream of invective into the comm. “We’re going to make a run at the walker, get their attention, and draw it out so the civilians can escape. Then we go home.”

“You got it, Bodhi,” Luke replies briskly, as if nothing had happened between them only minutes before.

He can hear Solo sigh loudly. “Geez, kid, what happened to the pilot who never fired a shot?”

Bodhi flinches guiltily. “I never said that was true.”

There's a stunned silence from Luke’s end, as Solo barks a surprised laugh. Bodhi can’t stop himself from pointing out, “Also, you’re on the cannons. I’m—I’m just the pilot.”

Chewbacca looks at him, rumbles a question.

“Tell you about it later,” Bodhi says. “Keep an eye out for those bombers!” He throws full power to the sublights, trembling again, but giddily delighted as the fastest ship in the galaxy responds to his touch. Ahead, the remainder of Rogue Squadron is doing their best against the AT-AT, but it's too well-armored against their light airspeeders.

Chewbacca asks if Solo is sure he fixed the power cycler. “I sure as hell hope so, or this is gonna be a real exercise in futility,” he calls back.

“Here goes,” Bodhi says, and sends the Falcon in a diving pass at the walker. Luke and Solo light it up; he sees its head swiveling to track them—takes the ship spiralling away from its torpedoes, keeping just out of range. It starts to turn, ponderously, away from the Capitol Tower.

“I hope you told everyone to hold onto something,” Solo yells, as Bodhi brings them around for another pass. “I don't want Cassian all pissed at me because you broke his droid—”

“Does he ever stop talking?” Bodhi asks Chewbacca, putting his hand over the pickup. The Wookiee shakes his head and huffs a laugh. On the ground, the AT-AT is moving slowly down the avenue after them, laser fire glancing off its sides as Rogue Squadron harries it along.

“I think that's far enough,” Luke says. “Let's take it down.”

Bodhi remembers something from the battle on Scarif, something Joma had described in the debrief— “The joints, go for the joints,” he calls.

“Thanks, kid, I already figured that out,” Solo replies, and the barrage of laser fire from both quad cannons, plus the swarm of Rogue Squadron, has the walker crumpling within seconds.

Comms are flashing on the panel—Chewbacca toggles it, and Wedge says, sounding pleased, “We got it from here—thanks for the help. Get going!”

“Good job today!” Luke calls out on the line. “See you at home.”

Bodhi takes the Falcon up and out of the Corellian atmosphere. “Everybody okay back there?”

Jyn’s voice comes back, sharp. “Cassian needs medical attention,” and Bodhi’s hands clench on the controls, distressed. “But he says to say you did the right thing, saving the people in the Tower,” she adds. “He’ll be okay until we get back to base.”

Chewbacca points out that the navicomputer’s ready for them to jump to hyperspace, and offers for Bodhi to do the honors.

“Thanks,” Bodhi says, flattered a little. “Let’s go home.” He pulls back the lever, and the stars turn to streaks outside the viewport. He starts to slump back in the seat, tenses up again when the cockpit door slides open behind him, because it's not Solo, he'd be kicking Bodhi out as soon as he came in, and there's only one other person who would come up here—

“Nice flying, Bodhi,” Luke says. “Chewie, do you mind leaving us alone for a minute?”

Chewbacca glances back and forth between them, rumbling softly, curiously.

The adrenaline from flight is fading, and Bodhi would like nothing more than to put his head down and close his eyes, but he just looks away, resigned. The Wookiee shrugs, and goes out into the corridor. Luke starts to close the cockpit door behind him, just as Solo crashes into it—

“Hey!” he yells, and pounds on the door. “What did I say about getting any ideas?”

Luke tries to slide the door shut on him. “We'll give you your ship back, just—go away for a minute,” he calls.

Solo stares at them, and his mouth slowly curves into a smirk. “Oh, I get it,” he says. “Yeah. Okay. Knock yourselves out.”

Luke blushes bright red. “Go. Away.” Solo makes a face and points at him through the crack in the door, but leaves.

“I should really go check on Cassian,” Bodhi lies, badly, as Luke sidles up and drops into Chewbacca’s vacated seat.

“I just looked in on him,” Luke says. “Jyn’s taking good care of him, don’t worry. And your other friends, Chirrut, and Baze? They’re telling Madine stories about Jedha. I think they’re piling it on a little much, the man feels bad enough already.”

A touch of heat creeps into Bodhi’s voice. “Good.”

“What?”

“Welcome to the Imperial defectors’ club,” Bodhi says, bitterly. “Membership costs you nothing except eternal guilt for what you’ve—” he stops. He can’t meet Luke’s gaze, is starting to shiver even though the cockpit isn’t cold.

“What you’ve done?” Luke says, leaning towards him. “Bodhi, you did the bravest thing I could possibly imagine.”

Bodhi’s shaking his head. “Please don’t say that.”

“Why not? It’s true. I told you before, I was just messing around on some dirt ball of a planet hoping my life would change, while you were escaping from the Empire and fighting—”

“You don't understand,” Bodhi bursts out. “I'm no one. I'm not a hero—people, planets died because of—I—I can't be what you think I am—what you want. You don’t know anything about me!” He draws a ragged breath. “And I don’t want you in my head trying to find out.”

“Hey, I saved your life,” Luke snaps, angrily. “If I hadn’t sensed something was wrong—if I hadn’t come after you—”

Bodhi shudders violently. “Luke.”

“What was it, anyhow?” he presses, his eyes narrowing. “What was happening that made you so scared I could feel it an entire city away? Huh? You and Chirrut and Cassian were all on your knees—did I get there just in time to stop them from executing you?”

“She wasn’t going to kill me,” Bodhi spits back at him. “Not there, not then—she figured it out—” He’s past control and getting louder, his words somehow echoing in the cramped cockpit, ringing furiously in his own ears. “She figured it out before any of you—” His voice breaks.

Luke goes very still. For a moment, the only sound in the cockpit is of Bodhi’s harsh, panting breaths as he tries to regain some of his lost equilibrium.

“What was it?” Luke asks, quietly. “What happened to you?”

“They put binders on me and I panicked,” he says, shortly, looking out at the endless vortex of hyperspace. He’s lightheaded with anger and fatigue, dizzy like he’s been trying to fly through a roiling storm on Bamayar.

Luke shakes his head. “You’re lying.”

“Does the Force give you special truth-detection powers?” Bodhi says.

“Bodhi—”

“‘Cause you got cheated. That’s true.”

Luke falls silent again, patient for possibly the first time in his life, waiting Bodhi out.

Okay, Kaytoo, here it is. Number one on the list of things I never wanted to talk about.

Bodhi focuses on the buttons on the control panel. Tries to get through it, quickly, stumbling a little. “When I defected, they took me to Saw Gerrera, and he put me in a cell with a monster that could tell if I was lying about—Galen, about defecting, about any of it. He put me in—restraints—but it held me down, too, and—” He stops, licks his dry lips, trying to calm his pounding heart. “It was in my head, you know? The actual—um—the actual torture part.”

“Oh, fuck, no,” Luke mutters, horrified. “Bodhi, I’m so sorry—”

“It wasn’t you, not at first,” Bodhi says, not quite an absolution. “They—it really was the binders that did it. Same as when Yendor’s trio pinned me down.”

Luke jolts forward in his seat and is tugging Bodhi’s sleeve up before he can react, pull away. “Did they hurt you?” he asks, eyes bright with worry. “This time?”

“She didn’t even touch me,” Bodhi murmurs, looking at where Luke’s hand is on his sleeve; his hands are still roughened, like a farmer, not a pilot, not a Jedi. “She didn’t touch me, except to take the binders off. I think.”

Luke drops his hand. “I’m so sorry,” he says, again. “I’m—”

“Like I said,” Bodhi says, weary, wanting—what? “You don’t know anything about me.” He can't muster up any more anger, though, not with Luke this distressed and apologetic at his side. 

Luke’s head is bowed. “I knew you didn’t let anyone touch you,” he says. “Except for your Rogue One squad. Am I right? You don’t—trust—”

“I don’t trust myself.” His voice is barely above a whisper.

“Do you trust me?” Luke asks, equally softly.

Bodhi exhales. “You got me out.” He jerks his head in a brief nod.

Luke says, “Only because you were able to stall her. Can I—can I try something?” He holds out his hand, palm up, a peace offering, nodding for him to mimic the gesture.

Bodhi closes his eyes and pushes up his right sleeve from where it’s fallen down again. “Okay.” He holds out his hand, matching Luke’s gesture, and for a second, Luke doesn’t move at all.

Then Luke gently strokes his fingertips over the scars. It doesn’t feel like anything: no tingling, no pain, just the barest of skin contact. “I’m so sorry they hurt you. I hurt you,” he murmurs, and then—

Bodhi’s eyes fly open as Luke carefully encircles his wrist; his fingers are just long enough to meet.

“Okay?” Luke studies Bodhi’s face.

“Yeah,” Bodhi whispers, looking down at their hands. He’s shaking again, and his breath is coming faster, but it’s not entirely from fear.

Luke lets go. He pulls away entirely, giving Bodhi space. “I’ll stay out of your head,” he says. “I promise.”

Minutes pass, the hum of the Falcon’s engines breaking up the silence, and Bodhi steadies, slowly, thinking of his friends and what they would have done if they had known. If they’ll ever let him fly out on a mission again. Wondering who the woman was, and if, or why, she would’ve let him free; marveling at the relentless man next to him, who gazes at him with the kindest eyes, despite everything Bodhi tries to show him.

Then the navicomputer beeps the alert that they’re coming up on Thila Base. Bodhi reaches forward, pulling the lever to drop them into normal space, looks out at the stars streamlining back into a million points of light.

Bodhi says, hesitantly, glancing over at Luke, “I like to talk about flying.”

And Luke turns, and he smiles. 


Chapter Text

The worst thing about the debrief isn’t that General Draven makes them stay in there for hours, after Cassian’s painkillers wear off and it’s obvious they’re all wiped. Bodhi’s still terribly frayed, struggling to stay awake in the darkened briefing room, but sitting up as straight as he can. Leaning on Jyn, to his left, had earned him a sharp poke in the ribs; leaning on Luke is—not an option.

Oddly, the worst thing also isn’t that now everyone knows how messed-up Bodhi is. Wedge, sitting in the row behind him, makes a pained sound when Cassian, his voice flat, describes how Bodhi had gone utterly blank, on his knees on the skybridge, but had apparently recovered enough to stall for time. Bodhi doesn’t bother to correct anyone’s assumption that his abortive, panicky call out had been what summoned Luke to the rescue.

It’s not even that Draven immediately takes Bodhi off of active duty, reaming him out like the worst of his flight instructors for jeopardizing the mission; that was a foregone conclusion the moment he hadn’t obeyed Cassian’s order to run. Jyn’s hand, resting in the crook of Bodhi’s elbow, tightens very hard, then, fingers digging into the muscle. He can’t totally tell if she’s more pissed at him or at Draven, but since she’s not also currently kicking his ass, figures her anger is directed at the general.

The worst thing is that Draven doesn’t believe them about the woman.

“Look, I'm sure you think you know what you saw, but the Jedi are extinct, except for Commander Skywalker.” Draven glances at Luke, who's been frowning, ever since they’d gone three rounds at the start about his choice to take Rogue Squadron to investigate the probe droid transmissions. Bodhi wonders if he’s frustrated to have missed meeting another possible Jedi, someone else to learn from—even if she was on the wrong side of the war.

After all, I was on the wrong side, before—

“I didn't see anything,” Chirrut points out, irritated. “I felt how strong she was in the Force.”

“I'm sorry,” Draven says, going very stern. “You all have plenty of expertise in your respective areas, but I cannot devote Intelligence resources to looking for someone whom a blind man, a talented but wounded officer, and a cowa—

“Don't finish that sentence.” Cassian’s voice is low, and threatening. Bodhi wants to tell him it’s all right, Draven’s more than entitled to his opinion of Bodhi’s bravery—or lack thereof—but Cassian’s eyes are narrowed flints.

“Captain Andor—”

“You call Bodhi what I think you were going to call him, and we’re done here,” Cassian snaps. “Princess Leia worked hard to make it so defectors could feel safe joining the Rebellion, and you've had nothing but contempt for them, even after all they've done for us. With us.”

“You've been committed to this fight since you were a child, Cassian,” Draven says. “These latecomers—”

Solo interrupts, very dryly, his eyes alight, “Hey, Luke and I showed up just in time.”

That drains all the color out of Draven's face. “I take your point, Captain Solo,” he says, after a moment, visibly working to maintain his cool. “Still, my responsibility is to protect the Alliance from probable threats—”

“This woman most certainly is a threat,” Chirrut insists.

“Then why has our Intelligence never heard of her?”

No one has an answer for that.

Draven moves on. He goes another round or two with Bodhi, Solo, and Wedge on ‘the decision to expand mission parameters’ to include stopping the AT-AT—Bodhi is too tired to really give a shit—before finally sighing and dismissing them. “Rest up, Rogue Squadron,” he says, before stalking out; it’s an order, and a warning. Luke promptly climbs over his seat into the row behind them and starts to confer quickly with his squadron, holding a wait for me finger up at Bodhi.

Bodhi stands up to stretch, yawning, and hears Kaytoo say to Cassian, sounding annoyed, “I’m practically a defector, and Draven trusts me—”

Jyn gets up beside him, touches his arm again. “You okay?”

Bodhi rubs his eyes. “Just need to get some sleep.”

“Yeah, I bet,” she says, not unkindly. “Listen—Cassian and I are sticking around base for a few days; Madine’s got a lot of intel for us to get through. While you’re off-duty—if you need anything—”

“If Draven’ll let me past the door—”

“Ignore him, he’s an ass,” Jyn says, rolling her eyes. “You know where we’ll be.” She stretches up to plant a kiss on his cheek. Definitely not mad at me, then. “Go rest. You deserve it.”

Luke wraps up with the Rogues and hops back down to Bodhi. “I’m okay,” Bodhi says, before Luke can ask. “I don’t mind being grounded for a little while.” He manages a small, pleased grin. “I just got to fly the Falcon.”

“Don’t get weird about it,” Solo calls over, and Luke makes a rude gesture at him, making Bodhi really smile.

“D’you—” Luke scrubs a hand through his hair wearily, turning back to him. “Do you want me to let you know when Rogue’s taking off again? I’d be happy to sneak you into a Y-wing or something, if you want to come along.”

“It’s really okay,” Bodhi says, realizing the room has gotten quieter—

“I don’t want you to miss out,” Luke says. “None of us do—” He glances up and catches the Rogues all looking down at them and grinning.

That’s your play, boss?” Wedge teases, and Luke flushes red, moves to put himself between Bodhi and his squadron—

—but Bodhi’s been a cargo pilot for a long time, and they’re his friends now, sort of, so he retorts in kind, before Luke can get there, “At least he’s offering me a ship.”

Wedge protests, “Hey, I gave you my pants,” and Luke turns, open-mouthed and baffled, to Bodhi.

“Nuh-uh. You lost those, fair and square.”

Luke is looking back and forth between them, utterly confused.  

“I’m gonna win them back,” Wedge says. “I got cards, right here—”

Bodhi shakes his head. “I’m gonna go lie down.”

Wedge doesn’t take a shot at that; they’re all too tired to keep going with it. “Yeah. Hey, we’re all really sorry about Draven,” he says, sincerely, and Hobbie, Zev, Janson, and the rest of them are nodding. “You belong out there with us.”

Luke reaches out and touches his arm, tentatively. “When you’re ready again,” he says, earnest, his eyes very bright, “There’s a spot for you. If you want it.”

Bodhi manages, barely, swiping at his own eyes, “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. Now go get some rest." Luke's smiling back at him, as always. "That’s an order.”

*****

With nothing to do, Bodhi wanders through the hangar the next day, ducking his head as the ground crews of various ships congratulate him on the successful mission, lighting up when they ask him about what it was like to fly the Falcon. Eventually, though, everyone settles in to work, and he’s left alone, wondering what to do with himself. He’s standing next to an X-wing, thinking about how to improve its defensive shielding, when Chirrut strolls up.

“Okay,” Chirrut says. “While you’re grounded, and we are all together, I’m going to teach you how to break out of a hold.” He holds up a finger.

“What?”

Chirrut holds up another finger. “Cassian is going to teach you how to pick locks.”

“Oh, my stars,” Bodhi says, putting his head in his hands. “Is this really happening?”

A third finger. “Jyn still wants you to learn how to, um, ‘fucking fight,’ but we are taking it one step at a time.”

Bodhi leans against the X-wing, groaning. “This is maybe the most embarrassing conversation I’ve ever had. And that includes my mother talking to me about sex.”

Chirrut pauses, and slowly holds up a fourth finger. “There might be some time to review that, too. Baze is concerned that you have not been with anyone since—”

Please shut up.”

“You could benefit from our experience.”

Bodhi makes a plaintive, horrified noise.

Chirrut grins. “We may be old, but we still have a very active—”

“Oh my ever loving stars,” Bodhi yells, clapping his hands over his ears. “Chirrut—”

Chirrut taps him with his stick, beckons him to come closer. Bodhi looks around for an escape route, but puts his hands down and leans in dutifully. “I’m also going to help you learn how to find peace in the Force,” Chirrut says. “Luke and I may listen to the Force to help us fight, but you, my friend, need it in a different way."

“I—” Bodhi, wide-eyed, has no idea what to say to that. Thanks doesn't seem quite right, or enough, for what Chirrut's offering. 

“I thought Luke should be the one to help you,” Chirrut goes on. “But perhaps he’s a little too invested, if you know what I mean?”

Bodhi glares at him, uselessly.

“If you think I can’t tell when you’re making faces at me, you’re wrong.” He taps Bodhi with his stick again. “Let’s go. If you’re going to join Rogue Squadron, we have a lot of work to do.”

Chapter Text

In the emptied-out briefing room, Chirrut begins, “When you were a boy on Jedha,” and Bodhi, dangling his feet over the edge of the console next to him, winces. Not just because he hasn’t talked to anyone about Jedha, not since Princess Leia asked to hear about it, but because Chirrut’s dropped into the kind of storytelling rhythm that used to put him to sleep when he was a boy on Jedha.

“Is that really where you want to begin?” Baze says, strolling into the briefing room and taking a seat at the back. He props his boots up on the chair in front of him. “Reminding Bodhi what we’ve lost?”

“Oh, you showed up,” Chirrut says. “I had no idea you were coming, stomping around through the base like a bantha herd.”

“One full-grown bantha would not fit in the catacombs, much less an entire herd.” Baze points out.

“Whatever.” Chirrut turns back to Bodhi. “When you were a boy on Jedha—”

Baze mutters, quite audibly, “Which was practically yesterday, he’s still so young—”

“Baze. 讓我跟他講話, 好不好?”

“Okay.” Baze puts his hands behind his head and leans as far back as the seat will go.

Bodhi prompts Chirrut, watching Baze watching him, “So when I was a boy on Jedha?”

Chirrut nods. “You must have come to the Temple and seen us meditating. We meditated a lot.”

“Five times a day. I remember,” Bodhi says.

“We meditated five times a day because that was what the Jedi were instructed to do,” Chirrut says.

Bodhi blinks. “I—don’t think Luke is doing that much meditation.”

Chirrut waves a hand. “Luke is following some other instruction manual for how to be a Jedi. I’m telling you about how we, as Guardians, learned to be in tune with the Force.”

“跟他講快一點吧.”

“你傻瓜, you’re not helping,” Chirrut calls up.

“我不是來幫你教書.” Baze is grinning under his beard.

“No shit.”

Bodhi says, inching away from the reach of Chirrut’s stick, “Now I think I get why the generals keep sending the two of you away.”

Chirrut smiles in his direction, and returns to the topic at hand. “Meditating can be very simple, as small as focusing on your breathing. Letting the past fall away and only attending to the present. It’s the past that keeps bothering you, isn’t it?”

“The past, the present, the future—” Bodhi shrugs self-deprecatingly.

Chirrut leans on the end of his stick. “You’re worried about the future?”

Bodhi has a flash of his one—no, two now—strange visions of Luke, but only says, “You aren’t? Not about the—the war, about whether you or Baze or—any of us—will survive?”

Baze calls down, a shade mockingly, “All is as the Force wills it.”

Chirrut points up to him. “What he said. So—meditation. Thinking only about the present, about your breath going in and out of your body—”

“我想, 他應該用那個, 怎麼說—”

“I thought you weren’t going to help teach,” Chirrut says.

“You know. Your little chant,” Baze says. “Or the other one, where you fix things.”

Chirrut nods thoughtfully. “Moving meditation?”

“Yeah. 就是那個.”

Bodhi is looking back and forth between them. “You’re going to make me do more than one kind of meditation?”

“Why, do you have somewhere else to be?” Chirrut asks. “It’ll be good for you. You have to know how to focus on the present, if you’re going to fly an X-wing in Rogue Squadron.”

*****

But—

Bodhi’s not actually sure he wants to join the Rogues, for all that they might be welcoming him with open arms, or that his friends consider it practically an inevitability. Flying an Imperial shuttle to pick up supplies, rescue their people, extract a fellow defector; each of those missions were a far cry from flying into battle in an X-wing built for one purpose.

I've brought plenty of death and destruction already, when I was supposed to bring hope.

Bodhi mentions his trepidations to Cassian, later that day. They’re in one of the Intelligence offices, heads bent together over a set of locked binders that Bodhi’s trying unsuccessfully to pick, Cassian’s datapad of declassified intel from Madine lying forgotten nearby.

“Do you know how many people I’ve killed?” Cassian says, quietly. “General Draven has the number in my file. I lost count and told Kaytoo never to remind me, a while back. But he still reports every one of them to Draven.”

Bodhi’s fingers have gone nerveless, and the lockpick slips out of them, rattling on the console.

Cassian lifts his head and smiles at him, but there’s nothing in it of the kindness Bodhi’s come to know of his friend. “You want to talk about bringing destruction? On Scarif, with—you, Jyn, everybody—that was the first time, in a very long time, that I had something to do with hope. And even then, you know who we lost along the way because I brought only death.”

Bodhi flips the lockpick over and over under his fingertips, its metal warming to his touch. “Does Jyn ever talk about Galen?” he asks, after a moment.

“Not really. I think she got used to not thinking about him, before, and it’s just simpler that way.” His voice is as colorless as Bodhi’s ever heard it. “She still blames me, a little.”

And then—even softer, somehow, “I don’t know if Draven counts him for me or not.”

Bodhi swallows, thinking of Blue Squadron’s X-wings swerving through the storm on Eadu, Galen’s body in the flames. “You’re—you’re very calm about it,” he says.

Cassian shrugs and looks back down at the binders, sliding the thin strip of metal back over to himself and working the lock, a puzzle he can solve. “The people I’ve killed, the things I’ve done, they’re part of my life.”

The binders pop open with a click; Bodhi jerks back, startled.

Cassian says, closing the binders again and sliding them over to Bodhi, “I will have to do more terrible things before this war is over, you know? That’s my job, mine and Jyn’s. She makes it better—easier, maybe, to see the things that need to be done.” He picks up his neglected datapad and gets to his feet. “I think you’d started to find your own way in this fight, Bodhi,” Cassian says. “You shouldn’t lose sight of that.” He smiles, briefly, but warm again. “You’re the pilot.”

*****

Jyn shows up at his quarters in the evening, unannounced, startling Bodhi into dropping his datapad. “I thought Chirrut told you I was going to make you learn how to fight.”

“Blast, Jyn, knock, or something—” He picks up his datapad, frowning at the new scratch it’s acquired and rubbing at it with the end of his sleeve in vain.

Jyn smirks. “Why? Your door was unlocked, it’s not like I was going to catch you in here with anyone. Or was I?” She makes a show of looking around suspiciously.

Bodhi rubs the back of his neck. “Jyn.”

“You hiding any fledgling Jedi under the covers?”

“I—come on, we barely know each other, and all of you—Solo, Wedge, Chirrut, you—” Bodhi sighs. “It’s been a really long day, okay?”

Jyn’s teasing smirk fades. “Yeah. Sorry.” She comes over and sits on the side of his bunk next to him. “Well?”

“This is starting to turn into one of the old stories my mother used to tell me,” Bodhi says, letting himself fall backwards onto his elbows and closing his eyes. “The kind where the boy has to undertake three impossible tasks?”

“What do you get if you complete them?” Jyn asks.

“Usually untold riches or something. Magic objects that help in the next round of impossible tasks. The hand of the princess.”

Jyn bumps his leg with her foot. “I’m fresh out of untold riches. And I wouldn’t bet on winning the hand of the princess, either.”

He cracks one eye open at her. “I haven’t even done your task.”

“You really don’t have to,” Jyn says, and goes on, before he can interject, “I didn’t get it, before. I thought you wanted to fight, and after Scarif it seemed like you were just keeping your head down. Staying out of the way.”

“Trying not to die,” Bodhi murmurs, dryly.

“You’ve been doing a pretty good job of that without my help,” Jyn says. “Except for that run-in with Yendor’s buddies.” Her mouth twists into a grimace.

Bodhi reaches over for her hand, twining his fingers through hers. “I never did thank you for getting me out of there.”

Jyn looks down at him, eyes dark and sincere. “I was returning the favor. And then you did it, again—for Chirrut and Cassian—”

“Is that how it works? We save each other, over and over, until—”

“Until we win the war,” she says, firmly. “No other options.”

*****

So Bodhi doesn’t end up learning how to beat someone to death with a baton, which is all right by him.

Of his remaining “impossible tasks,” Bodhi’s best on the lock-picking—binders, security locks, even a magnetic seal that someone put on the door to his quarters one night while he'd been out winning more credits off of Rogue Squadron, Luke included. It’s closest to the kind of mechanical, technical work he already knows—and what Chirrut’s making him do with moving meditation—but he’s still leery of trying to do it with binders actually on his wrists.

(Kaytoo had helpfully pointed out, “Most of the time Cassian doesn’t even bother with them himself, he just orders me to take them off him.” That had led straight into a conversation about the wide variety of instances in which Cassian had ever been cuffed, while Jyn kept trying, and failing, to hide an ever-widening and delighted grin.)

Chirrut actually does make Bodhi meditate five times a day, or as many times as Chirrut, or Baze, can catch him not doing anything else. Focusing all his attention on repairing an R5 unit reminds Bodhi uncomfortably of his friends at the Academy, at first, but eventually he falls into the rhythm of it, taking things apart and putting them back together, letting go of everything but the work.

“It’s a start,” Baze mutters, plucking Chirrut’s repaired wrist comm out of the air when Bodhi, curious, tries to toss it to the blind Guardian.

“I’m not trying to make him into a Jedi,” Chirrut says, leaning over and snatching his wrist comm from Baze’s hand. “I’m not even trying to fix him. Some things can’t be fixed.”

“Thank you for that,” Bodhi says, affronted.

“This is where he’s going to make up a metaphor that’s supposed to make you feel better about it,” Baze tells him.

“No I’m not,” Chirrut protests.

“I’m guessing it will have something to do with kyber crystals,” Baze says. “That is his favorite rhetorical object.” He snaps his fingers. “I know. Cracked kyber crystals can never be restored to their original form, but the Force can reshape them into something new?”

Chirrut pokes Baze with his stick. “I was not going to say that.”

“Oh?”

Chirrut gives in. “I was going to say something much more depressing.”

Bodhi blinks at them. “Can I go now?”

“Yeah.” Chirrut grins, and then says, a little louder, “He’s all yours.”

Bodhi looks up, and Luke is standing at the top of the stairs, dressed in orange for flight.

Chapter Text

Luke’s been much busier than Bodhi, of course, over the past week. Rieekan has him drilling Rogue Squadron on different ships, working on new formations with multiple squadrons, looking over new recruits, the sorts of duties that commanders have to attend to. But Luke makes time to play sabacc—poorly—with Bodhi and Wedge and Zev, good-naturedly losing more credits than Bodhi would’ve thought a farm boy could have saved.

And he comes to sit with Bodhi at dinner, talking long after Cassian and Jyn slip off to bed, debating the merits of reducing Y-wing hull and nacelle plating for the ease of maintenance; how to manage the timing problems with S-foil servo actuators; comparing R2 and R5 cockpit profiles. They eventually settle on the idea that Wedge’s perspective on the last matter—that the taller R5 could block enemy fire from reaching a pilot—is kind of warped.

It’s all been perfectly friendly; just regular, downright professional-sounding conversation between a couple of pilots, even if one of them isn’t going to see the inside of an X-wing, let alone a shuttle, for—a while. Nothing for Solo or anybody to misconstrue or gossip about.

Except, of course, everybody does.  

Bodhi’s doing his best to ignore it, for the time being; protesting to Jyn that Luke’s being nice because he’s always nice. Giving back as good as he gets with Wedge, because it’s a joke, it has to be, because Luke is commander of an elite squadron, the hero of the Rebellion, the last of the Jedi, bright and shining as the medal hidden in Bodhi’s quarters.

And Bodhi is—grounded.

It’s hard, though, to ignore Baze making absolutely no attempt to disguise the fact that he’s staring up at them and smirking, and Chirrut demanding—not quietly, either—to know what’s happening.

“Where’re you headed?” Bodhi asks, nodding at Luke’s flightsuit and helmet.

“Leia got a message from an Alderaanian on Gerrard V,” Luke says, gesturing for Bodhi to walk with him in the direction of the hangar.

“I don’t think I’m allowed to know about that kind of intel,” Bodhi says, dubiously.

Luke waves it off. “The planet’s a mess. There’s insurgents trying to oust the Imperial governor, but he’s called in reinforcements to steal everything that’s not nailed down, and maybe take out some of the insurgency while he’s at it.” He pauses. “The Alderaanian who sent the message—she’s a TIE Interceptor pilot.”

“A TIE pilot?

“Her name’s Kasan Moor. She wants to defect. Wedge and Hobbie weren’t in training at the same time, so she probably doesn’t know them, but I was wondering—”

Bodhi stops walking and shoves his hands in his pockets. “You want someone she knows? She wouldn’t have known me either, I didn’t know TIE pilots, not unless they ran escort for me.”

“Well, you are a pretty famous defector.” Luke’s eyes are amused. “Just got word that the Imperial bounty on you went up another fifteen thousand credits after we got off Corellia.”

“You’re joking.” Bodhi thinks of the red-haired woman peering at his face, and stiffens up against the shiver going cold down his spine.

Luke flashes a grin at Bodhi, oblivious. “Nope. Yours is higher than mine, now, but I don’t think they knew I was there too. You’re climbing the list. Course, no one can top Han’s yet, not even Leia.”

“His is a whole bunch of different bounties added up, not just Imperial,” Bodhi points out.

“You’re right, I guess it doesn’t count the same,” Luke agrees. “Anyway, the recon team said there’s a handful of turbolasers around the city we’d have to take out, plus whoever the governor’s bringing in on his side, and—well, Kasan Moor’s squadron of Interceptors might not be happy she’s defecting. What do you think? Want in?”

“You just said my bounty went up fifteen thousand credits. I’m—I’m a liability in Imperial space,” Bodhi says, his hands closing anxiously into fists in his pockets.

“All of Rogue Squadron combined is already over a hundred thousand. We’ve been wanted men for a while.” Luke sounds perversely delighted about it.

“What about Draven?”

“Ah, forget Draven,” Luke says, cheerfully, as if the chain of command means as little to him as it does to Solo. “What’s your third argument?”

Bodhi hesitates, too many possible responses running through his head.

“You don’t have one, do you. Come on, I’ll put you in a Y-wing, you’d be with Gold Squadron, but—”

“Luke.” There’s the barest entreaty in his voice, a thin thread of fear seeping into his words. “I can’t.”

“Are you sure?”

Bodhi stammers, “I can’t, not when—I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Luke says, disappointed and hiding it badly. “Listen, if it’s really because of Draven, I can get Leia to talk to him—”

Bodhi’s eyes go wide. “No, no, please don’t,” he says, too quickly. Not her—

But Luke guesses wrong, plowing ahead, “I mean, Draven shouldn’t treat you the way he does, he’s not like this with Wedge or Hobbie.”

“They’ve been with the Rebellion longer,” Bodhi says. “They’re fighter pilots, they’re more val—”

Luke cuts him off, shaking his head, exasperated. “When are you going to understand that you mean a great deal to—to—” He ducks his head a little, looking up through his eyelashes at Bodhi. “You're just as important to the Rebellion as they are.”

Bodhi’s comlink chirps. He fumbles it out of his pocket, glad for the distraction—he can’t quite keep gazing back at Luke like this—“Yeah?”

Wedge asks, “Bodhi, have you seen Luke? I think his comm’s off.”

“Yeah, I’ve got him,” Bodhi says, out of reflex, unthinking. “He’s right here with me.” 

He winces, a second later, when Wedge sounds far too amused, replying, “Tell him to get his ass in gear, we gotta head out.”

Luke’s turning a faint shade of red. “I—um, I should go—”

Bodhi rubs the back of his neck. “Okay. I’ll—I’ll be here when you get back?”

“Okay.” Luke turns and starts to jog away.

Bodhi remembers, suddenly, and calls after him, “May the Force be with you," and Luke flashes that grin again—

*****

Rogue Squadron is gone for ten days.

It's the longest ten days of Bodhi's life.

Chapter Text

It’s partly because Princess Leia and Han Solo are on Thila, together, for the first time in a long while, and their constant bickering—above and beyond Chirrut and Baze’s sniping at each other—sets everyone on edge.

“I don’t know why they don’t just sleep together and get it over with,” Jyn says, in the aftermath of another one of their public spats in the mess, the Princess scowling after the defeated smuggler storming off to his ship. “Save us all the headache.”

“Your and Cassian’s courtship rituals were not much different,” Kaytoo observes, garnering him an appalled, wide-eyed glare from Jyn.

“We were not like that,” she says, kicking Bodhi under the table when he fails to conceal his snickering. “Our fights were about principle, and duty, and—”

“Who should have to move out of whose quarters,” Kaytoo says. “I was there. It was very obvious that Cassian’s quarters were better by any objective measure.”

Jyn raises her eyebrows at him. “You’re just saying that because he built a charging port for you.”

“That was my objective measure.”

Bodhi’s tuned them out, turning to watch one of Rieekan’s aides hurrying up to Princess Leia and conferring with her briefly. “You’d tell me if you or Cassian heard anything about the mission on Gerrard V, right?” he asks Jyn, over his shoulder. The aide and Princess Leia leave the mess together, in the direction of the main operations room, not quite running.

“Yeah, Bodhi, of course,” Jyn says.

“That operation is supposed to be classified,” Kaytoo points out. “Bodhi still lacks the security clearance that Cassian promised to get him.”

Jyn shrugs. “So?”

“I don’t know how Draven ever let you become a spy,” Kaytoo mutters.

“Hey, you’re the one who told Bodhi all about what happened on Nar Shaddaa,” Jyn retorts. “Even the thing with the vrblther.”

Bodhi makes a face. “I wish you’d kept that classified,” he says.

“You’re worried?” Jyn asks him. “About Luke?”

Bodhi shakes his head, avoiding her just-this-side-of-salacious stare. “About the TIE Interceptor pilot.” He’d racked his memory—such as it was—for every TIE pilot he could recall, if they’d ever shown any signs of the disloyalty he’d felt towards the Empire, and come up very, very short. TIE pilots had been some of the most fanatical people he’d ever met, willing to strap into tiny unshielded death traps for a fleeting shot at glory. “If her defection’s a lie—a trick—I know I said give Madine a chance, but—” He waves a hand helplessly.

“I can’t imagine there’s a single Alderaanian out there who’d support the Empire after what they did,” Jyn says, attempting to reassure him. Bodhi tries to hide a wince at that, but Kaytoo swivels his head towards him instantly. “Besides, Leia trusts her, and she reads people better than me. Better than anyone.”

“I didn’t know Alderaan was on your list,” Kaytoo says to Bodhi.

“What list?” Jyn’s eyes narrow.

Bodhi sags. “Great, Kaytoo, this is really the place and time to bring that up.”

“The list of things that bother Bodhi but I’m not supposed to protect him from hearing about,” Kaytoo explains to Jyn.

“What?” Jyn shakes her head as she tries to parse it.

“It’s—complicated—” Bodhi fumbles for the right words to put her at ease, afraid of her laser-focus scrutiny. “There's no actual list—”

“What's on it?” Jyn asks. “Anything related to the Death Star or my father, I assume. Right? All the things you don't want to talk about but you have to face.” She's gone quiet, matter-of-fact, and Bodhi thinks she might be talking about herself as much as him.

“Yeah,” he says, relieved, commiserating. “That's it, that's it exactly.”

“How is that different from what I said?” Kaytoo asks.

Jyn offers him a glimmer of a smile. “It wasn't.”

“The list—it’s shorter, now, sort of,” Bodhi offers, haltingly. “I—I told Luke some things.”

“Oh?” There’s the twinge of hopeful, prurient interest in her voice again.

He adds, “About Jedha,” and she stills, looking at him sadly.

“Artoo’s told me some things,” Kaytoo starts to say, but Jyn’s comlink chirps, and it's Cassian, wanting all of them down in the Intelligence offices.

Bodhi’s eyes are wide. “Is it—”

“I don't know,” Jyn says. She pats his shoulder and gets up. “Come on, we’ll find out together.”

He tries not to run through the catacombs—it's not a race, whatever's happened already happened—Luke’s fine, he’s always fine— but he still outpaces Jyn quickly, surprising Cassian in the dark little office, Kaytoo on his heels. “Oh—I should've said, it's not about them,” Cassian says, taking in Bodhi’s worried face. “Sorry.”

Jyn comes in and swats Bodhi on the back for leaving her behind. “What's going on?”

Cassian tosses a datapad onto the console in front of Bodhi, greeting Jyn with a chaste kiss. “Remember the phrase the woman said to you?” Cassian says. “The ‘hand of judgment?’”

“You’ve been looking for her?” Bodhi looks up at him in surprise, scooping the datapad up and skimming the first page.

“Collecting rumors, mostly about this group of five elite stormtroopers calling themselves the Hand of Judgment. They’re—well, let’s just say that we must not have run into them, or you’d be in Imperial custody for certain.”

“You mean dead,” Bodhi says, fighting down a shudder.

Cassian reaches over and puts a hand on his arm. “They’re an odd unit, like a vigilante squad. They’ve popped up all over the galaxy, sometimes with the red-headed woman giving orders, but sometimes not. Our informants said they have gone after corrupt Imperial administrators, but they just let the governor of the Poln system go instead of arresting him for treason. A local warlord was holding his family hostage, or something like that. Sound like anyone we’ve met?”

Bodhi’s finished reading Cassian’s datapad—there’s not a lot of substantive information and only a couple brief descriptions of the woman—and passes it over to Jyn. “No name for her, though.”

Cassian shakes his head. “No.”

“Before you start planning something, I’m obliged to remind you that Bodhi is still grounded and can’t fly you and Jyn to the Poln system until he’s been authorized for active duty,” Kaytoo says. “I, however, continue to be a perfectly good co-pilot.”

“You’re still—” Cassian blinks at Bodhi. “It’s been almost two weeks.”

Jyn’s frowning at him, too. “Doesn’t Draven want you back flying again?”

“I don’t know,” Bodhi says, plaintively. “He hasn’t—everyone’s been so busy—”

“Chirrut’s been reporting your progress,” Cassian’s concerned. “I’ve seen it. No one from Draven’s or Rieekan’s staff’s talked to you about when you might be put back on transport duty?” Bodhi shakes his head.

“Blast,” Jyn mutters, folding her arms, her eyes narrowing angrily. “Cassian?”

“Yeah,” he replies, tapping out a message on another datapad and beckoning over an aide, a Bothan with cream-colored fur. “If you could have Princess Leia join us, please? She’s in a meeting just down the hall, I think.”

Bodhi’s mouth falls open. “Cassian, don’t—” The aide hesitates, glancing between them.

Jyn tilts her head up at Bodhi, as Cassian nods curtly to the aide and she leaves. “Bodhi, if the chain of command is broken, we just skip over a few links. No one important’s going to have a problem with it.”

“It’s not that,” Bodhi starts to say, but Kaytoo runs right over top of him. “Alderaan’s on the list,” he reminds Jyn.

Cassian’s eyebrows draw down. “What list?”

“You’ve met Leia before,” Jyn says, ignoring Cassian and giving Bodhi a puzzled look. “She got to visit you first in the medcenter, and she's on the list?”

He fidgets nervously. “Yes?”

The Bothan aide returns, alone. “Captain Andor, Princess Leia apologizes, but the situation on Gerrard V requires her attention at the moment.”

“Thanks,” Cassian says. “Bodhi, what’s your problem with Leia? Alderaan?”

But Bodhi’s distracted— “What’s happening on Gerrard V?” he asks the aide.

She looks at Jyn. “Yeah, go ahead, and report to us, we would’ve told him later anyway,” Jyn says, with a small smile. Kaytoo makes a barely audible disapproving noise, but doesn't say anything.

“The Imperial governor’s hiding in his mansion,” the aide says, coming to attention, her eyes on Cassian and Jyn. “The insurgents and Rogue Squadron’s fighters disabled all the Imperial yachts he could’ve used to escape, and they’re sieging the mansion right now. Princess Leia is in contact with the insurgent leader, preparing the groundwork for him to take control of the system.”

“She got all that from thirty seconds in the briefing room delivering a message?” Bodhi mutters to Kaytoo.

“She is a spy,” Kaytoo replies, not bothering to modulate his volume. The aide’s fur ruffles a little in amusement.

Jyn nods to her. “Thanks. Let’s make sure I get everything on the insurgent leader as soon as possible.” The aide nods back, and goes back to work.

“I’m sorry you're caught up in the politics of this,” Cassian says to Bodhi. “It wasn't clear, when we came back from Scarif, who you should've reported to. We never straightened it out before Jyn and I took you to meet Karrde, and then Luke requested you to be attached to Rogue Squadron.”

“Now it's all a bit of a mess,” Jyn summarizes with a grimace. “Not that we’re wholly separate divisions, anyway, but—” She frowns harder. “You’re being left out on purpose. We’ll fix it.”

“Draven doesn't trust me.” Bodhi shrugs.

“He barely trusts me,” Jyn says, intending to be reassuring. “You heard him, we're latecomers to this fight.”

“Who knows what we might do to the Rebellion?” Bodhi murmurs sarcastically.

“Or what it might do to us,” Jyn says. Cassian touches her hand where she's gripping her opposite arm tightly. But he asks Bodhi, low, “Do you want to tell me about the list?”

“You know most of what's on it already, I think,” Bodhi says, looking down at his hands where they rest on the console. “The—the meditation, Chirrut and Baze, they’re helping, but I haven't had to face—I can always fly,” he insists, lifting his eyes back up to his friends. “Nothing on the list is about flying.”

Cassian exchanges glances with Jyn. She nods. “Then let’s make sure you get to,” Cassian says.

*****

Bodhi’s back on a maintenance rotation pretty quickly after that, at least.

But a couple more days pass, with no talk of letting him fly again—never mind the information from Gerrard V slowing to a trickle—and it’s all starting to make him twitchy—twitchier than usual, anyway. And Chirrut’s moving meditation approach just frustrates him, instead of helping him clear his head.

“What’s the point of repairing it if I’m not going to get to use it?” Bodhi mutters, losing his rhythm and letting the thruster component fall from his hands onto the work table with a clang.

Chirrut’s been sitting on the bench next to him, facing away, humming snatches of an old Jedha folk song to himself. “You know perfectly well that’s not the point of repairing it,” he says, calmly.

“That’s the point of trying to fix me, isn’t it?” Bodhi glares at him. “I’m supposed to be useful to the Rebellion?”

“I’m not fixing you,” Chirrut replies. “I told you that already. This is so you have someplace to go, in your head, when it happens again. Something to focus on other than your fear.”

When it happens again?” Bodhi pulls his goggles off and runs a hand through his hair. “That’s not very optimistic.”

“You want to be useful to the Rebellion, so you will probably encounter more people who want to hurt you.” Chirrut shrugs. “I’m giving you a way to fight back so it doesn’t hurt as bad. Since you won’t carry a blaster.” He smiles. “Or a stick.”

“Chirrut, have you seen—” Bodhi hesitates. “Did the Force show you something about my future?”

Chirrut turns his gaze in Bodhi’s direction. “I am not a Jedi, Bodhi, I do not have the gift of foresight. Or any kind of sight.”

“Yeah, okay. Sorry.” Bodhi picks up the thruster component and turns it over in his fingers. “It’d just be nice, maybe, to know whether I’m ever going to get to fly again.”

“Steal a ship,” Chirrut suggests. “Go for a joyride. Or—” he turns his head unerringly towards the doorway, just as Threepio pokes his head into the maintenance bay— “You could just ask.”

“Pardon me, sir Guardian, Officer Rook,” Threepio says. “Princess Leia is asking if Bodhi is available to meet with her.”

Bodhi drops the component again. “Right—right now?”

“Princess Leia is a very busy—”

“Okay, I’m coming,” Bodhi says, swallowing nervously. He gets up and checks his clothes over for smudges, snags the strap of his goggles off the table. “Um—Chirrut—”

“Oh, don’t worry about me,” Chirrut says, airily, waving him on. “Maybe I’ll go find that husband of mine.”

“Thanks.” Bodhi rests a hand on Chirrut’s shoulder briefly before he leaves with Threepio.

Threepio says, “Officer—”

“Just Bodhi. Doesn’t everyone end up telling you to leave off the titles?” Bodhi says, perfectly content to match Threepio’s slower steps as they walk through the base towards one of the two women in the galaxy who terrify him the most.

“But titles are important,” Threepio says, dismayed. “Why, Princess Leia herself is not only the Head of House Organa and sole surviving heiress of the Royal Family of Alderaan, but a former Imperial Senator—”

Bodhi quails. “Okay, okay,” he says, ruefully. “You really know how to prepare a person for talking to her.”

Threepio looks at him, puzzled. “Did I say something wrong?”

“No, it’s all right,” Bodhi assures him, as Threepio halts outside a meeting room. “It’s just—me.”

“Hey, Goldenrod,” Solo says, striding up. “Thanks for picking up the kid, I’ll take it from here.” He claps Bodhi on the shoulder and sweeps him into the room.

“What are you doing?” Bodhi asks, looking over his shoulder at Threepio, who’s muttering exasperatedly as he stalks off.

“Oh, I figured you could use a little backup with these guys,” Solo says, and Bodhi is horrified to realize that Princess Leia, in all white, is standing behind a table with Draven and Rieekan sitting on either side of her. His heart starts to race—in the Empire, the only time anyone had ever gone into a room with this many senior officers was to be disciplined or drummed out—but they wouldn’t—

“Han, what—” she starts.

“Think of me as standing in for Luke.” Solo grins. “You know. As a show of support. Character witness. Whatever.”

“This is hardly a formal hearing requiring witnesses,” she snaps, and Bodhi’s relieved, but—very confused. “Officer Rook, if you don’t want him here, feel free to send him back to wherever he came from.”

Bodhi looks at Solo. He is, of course, smirking, but—he’s been kind—he let me fly his precious ship— “I guess he can stay?”

“Fine.” Princess Leia looks annoyed, but it’s not with Bodhi, at least. She waves them to seats, and turns to each of the generals, her expression stern.

“Captain Andor and Sergeant Erso have brought it to my attention that one of our bravest and most experienced pilots—a hero of the Battle of Scarif—is not being put to his full potential in the service of the Rebellion. I’d like you to explain why.”

Bodhi’s mouth falls open, and so does Solo’s. “Not what you were expecting?” Solo whispers. Bodhi shakes his head. Don’t get optimistic. This could still go bad fast.

Rieekan crosses his arms, throwing Bodhi an apologetic glance. “I’d have liked to reinstate you to active duty far sooner—we need all the pilots we can get—but Davits overrode me at every turn.”

“You read my report,” Draven snaps, contemptuously. “Officer Rook nearly botched the whole operation on Corellia when he didn’t follow Cassian’s orders and panicked. How can he be trusted with transporting our most valuable people across the galaxy? The man’s a coward, a wreck—”

Bodhi flinches. Chirrut’s words come back to him—he thinks about the thruster component he was trying to fix, imagines himself welding broken bits of metal back together along a jagged seam.

“Bodhi is sitting right here,” Solo points out, coldly. “Leia, don’t let this guy do this—”

This guy?” Draven says, louder. “Captain Solo—”

“Gentlemen.” Princess Leia’s voice cuts across them both. “Davits, I’ll thank you not to insult someone who’s risked everything for us, more than once. Han—” she sighs.

“I’ll just sit back and listen.” Solo props his feet up on the table. “Hang in there, kid,” he says in an undertone to Bodhi. “Drinks are on me after this.”

“I am trying to ensure that the orders my people give will be followed,” Draven says, eyeing Solo with distaste. “I am trying to ensure the safety of the Rebellion.”

Your people,” Rieekan mutters.

“Yes, my people,” Draven spits. “The ones who risk everything so I can point your boys in the right direction.”

“Like you did on Eadu?” Bodhi hears himself say, and immediately freezes, his eyes wide. Oh, that was not helpful—Draven is on his feet, face reddening. Rieekan puts out a warning hand.  

“I called them back,” Draven hisses. “I called them back, but it was too—” He stops, and he looks drawn, older. “What would it have changed for you?”

“I wouldn’t have had to see my friend die,” Bodhi says, bleakly, and then there’s nothing for it but to confess the rest. “You called them back too late? I was too late. For Galen, for—for Jedha, for—Alderaan—” He glances over at Solo, who’s frowning. “That’s what I did that I’m not proud of. I didn’t do anything. You were right about me, General—I am—

Princess Leia interrupts him. “Carlist, Davits, would you give us the room for a moment?” Solo looks at her, questioningly, and she nods. He swings his feet to the floor and exits behind the generals. Leaving Bodhi alone with the former Imperial Senator, the sole surviving member of, and heiress to, House Organa and the Royal Family of Alderaan.

“You want to tell me that you aren’t the things I said,” Princess Leia says, sitting down across from Bodhi and folding her hands on the table top. “You want to say that you aren’t brave, that you didn’t do anything until it was too late. That Draven’s right about you and your fear. I talk to Luke a lot, you know.”

He’s holding his breath, completely swallowed up by her eyes; they are as dark as Jedha’s blotted-out sun.

She continues, free of inflection, steadfastly holding his gaze, “I’d been a prisoner on the Death Star for days after Scarif. I was waiting to die, hoping that all our—your—efforts hadn’t been in vain. But there I was, on the bridge, made a witness to the first demonstration of the Death Star’s true power to the galaxy. And in that final moment, despite all my knowledge, all my years of negotiating and training and fighting, there was nothing I could have done to stop Tarkin from giving the order to fire. I couldn’t talk fast enough. I couldn’t have grabbed a blaster away and shot him. I couldn’t give up the Rebellion, and my homeworld died for it.”

It’s a confession, not an absolution; Bodhi’s trembling, but he can’t look away.

“So. What is your inaction weighed against mine?” Princess Leia asks. “What would you like to do, to atone?”

Bodhi swipes at his eyes, his breathing unsteady, hitching in his chest. “There’s only one thing I’ve ever been good at, Your Highness,” he says, softly.

She smiles, a little, and opens her hands palms-up in offer. “It was Wedge’s idea to name Rogue Squadron for you and your friends, you know.”

“I can’t fly an X-wing, or a Y-wing, or—I’ve—I’ve had enough of death,” Bodhi stammers.

“You’re fine on transport duty? Under Rieekan?” Her eyebrows go up. 

He nods. “This war isn’t going to end without more blood,” Princess Leia warns him. “You may still have to be the one to spill it.” Bodhi nods again, and licks his dry lips, thinking of the stormtroopers he’d shot down on Eadu to get Cassian and Jyn out.

“And Rieekan will want to know you won’t panic again,” Princess Leia adds. He opens his mouth to explain— “You don’t need to tell me everything,” she says, quickly. “Luke’s kept the rest of your secrets this long, you can keep them a while longer.”

“Thank you,” he murmurs. And then—“Your Highness—how do you stand it? Knowing what you did—or didn’t—do?”

She looks at him for a long, long moment, considering her reply. Bodhi can hear the rest of the base, alive and humming with activity, just outside the door; he wonders if this was what Cassian and Jyn had thought would happen, or if Draven will come down on them for arranging this strange and terrible confessional. Finally, she says, “I was taught, and I think you might have been, too, that peace can only come from trusting in the Force.”

“Does that work, for you?”

“I’m not a Jedi.” Princess Leia smiles, again, brittle and bright. “And please, Bodhi. Call me Leia.”

Chapter Text

Solo’s lounging against the wall, arms folded and whistling tunelessly, when Bodhi’s dismissed from the meeting. He can feel Draven’s eyes boring twin holes in the back of his head, but that’s all right; Leia hadn’t brooked a single one of his objections to returning Bodhi to active duty. Had, in fact, pointed out that Cassian and Chirrut, the only people who’d actually seen him panic—fail, Bodhi had thought—were some of his loudest advocates. Aside from Luke, apparently.

“Hey,” Solo says, pushing off the wall and coming over to him. “I don’t know what you and Leia talked about in there, but you must’ve done something right to piss off Draven that bad. Could hear him trying to take your head off through the wall.”

Bodhi smiles ruefully at that, and Solo’s mouth falls open in feigned shock. “Would you look at that, the kid can smile.” He grins. “I promised you a drink. You can call Cassian and Jyn, the Guardian guys, we’ll make it a party.”

Bodhi blinks at him. “What for?”

“Celebrating you getting off Draven’s shit list and back into the Rebellion’s good graces, courtesy of Her Worshipfulness,” Solo says. “What d’you think? It’s boring around here with your Rogue hotshot friends gone.”

“Yeah,” Bodhi says. “Yeah, that sounds okay.” The confounding mix of despair and relief from Leia’s meeting is starting to wear off, leaving him wanting something to replace it, and he can’t remember the last time he had a decent drink—oh, no, he can; with Luke in the hangar. The first time they’d ever really talked, about Jedha and Tatooine. It seems like ages ago.

“Great.” Solo’s grin turns wicked, for a second, before he adopts a precise military bearing and opens the door behind Bodhi.

Leia looks up from the datapads she and the generals are reviewing. “Yes?”

“Your Highness, could you step out here for a moment, please?” Solo’s face is straight.

Her head tilts slightly in puzzlement—Bodhi knows the feeling—but she gets up and comes out into the hall. “What do you want, Han?”

“We’re gonna go get drunk,” Solo informs her. “Wanna come?”

“Bodhi, you do not have to go anywhere with this man,” Leia says, narrowing her eyes up at Solo. “Especially if it’s going to involve alcohol.”

“Hey, I apologized about that already,” Solo protests, sounding wounded. “Besides, you ruined a perfectly good shirt that night.”

You ruined a perfectly—” she breaks off, noticing Bodhi raising his eyebrows at them, more baffled than amused. “Yes, all right, I’ll come by the Falcon as soon as I finish up with the generals.”

“Okay,” Solo says, and smirks at her. She rolls her eyes and goes back into the meeting with a huff. Solo claps his hands together and starts walking away; Bodhi hurries after him. “I’ve got the rest of that bottle of Corellian wine she dumped on me tucked away somewhere.”

“Hey, um,” Bodhi says, and Solo turns to look at him. “Thanks. Thanks for coming down to back me up.”

“Figured I owed you one for getting us off Corella in one piece, even if you did have to take that little detour,” Solo says, as they come into the Falcon’s hangar. The ramp’s down, and Bodhi can see Chewbacca up in the cockpit.

“You didn’t have to, you don’t even really know me,” Bodhi says.

Solo shakes his head and gestures for Bodhi to precede him up into the ship. “Well, it's always a good time, riling up Draven like that.” Chewbacca growls a greeting to Bodhi as they circle past him on the way to the main hold. Bodhi smiles back, and then ducks, alarmed, as the Wookiee brings his big arm down to ruffle Bodhi’s hair.

“Ah, hell, maybe I left that wine in the nebula,” Solo says, snapping his fingers. Chewbacca growls that maybe it’s not a good idea, anyway, to ply pretty people with alcohol and take advantage—

Solo gapes. “That is not what I was doing—I have no intention of—” He spins around, pointing at Bodhi. “Call your friends so this guy knows I’m not trying to pull anything.”

Bodhi blinks at them, sitting down behind the dejarik table and pulling out his comlink dutifully. “Oh, is that what happened with Leia?”

Chewbacca rumbles a laugh and ambles off towards the engineering bay, but not before warning Bodhi that anything else left on the ship to drink is going to be strong.

“Okay, what’s with the mouth all of sudden?” Solo grouses, rummaging through a cargo container. “I didn’t, it was a misunderstanding.” He comes up with a bottle of something worryingly clear, his eyes mischievous. “And anyway, I wouldn’t try and pick you up, I’d never do that to my best fr—”

“Is this going to be about Luke again?” Bodhi interrupts, exasperated, putting his comlink down. Don’t want them around for this conversation—“You and Wedge and Jyn—and even Chirrut—you can’t stop fucking with me about him, can you?”

“You got me there.” Solo shrugs and takes a swig from the bottle; even from a couple meters away, the fumes make Bodhi’s eyes water. “But they'll all back me up on this. Stop playing hard to get, brooding Bodhi boy, or I’ll tell Luke to go find some other lost Jedi thing and forget all about you.” He’s abruptly stern, sliding the bottle across the dejarik table to Bodhi.

“I’m not playing a game.” He drinks and coughs, not caring that it burns his throat.

“So let Luke down, already,” Solo says, irritated. “If you don’t want him, let him get on with—I don’t know, Wedge or somebody—”

Bodhi slams the bottle back down, talking too fast. “You just heard me tell two generals and a princess how fucked up I am about everything—I don’t want him? I don’t know how Luke could possibly want me—”

Solo puts his hands up. “Hold on, kid. Didn’t mean to make you lose it twice in one day.” He sighs and leans towards Bodhi over the dejarik table, crossing his arms. “Are you that out of your own head?”

“I can’t believe I’m having this conversation with you.” Bodhi takes another drink, eyeing Solo over the rim of the bottle balefully.

“Have you even thought about it? Or is this another one of those things you avoid because it’s gonna hurt?” Solo nods at Bodhi’s wide-eyed look of dismay. “Yeah, I talk to your buddies sometimes. Kaytoo really gets me.”

“Solo—”

“Wait, I'm right?”

“I didn’t say that,” Bodhi mutters, sliding the bottle back across to him, his flare of anger fading away. “What in blazes is this stuff? Tastes like the inside of a power cell.”

Solo shakes his head. “Oh, no, you can’t stop me now, I hit a nerve.”

Bodhi folds his arms on top of the table, and puts his head down into them so he doesn’t have to keep looking at the smuggler and his frustrating, smirking face. “Bring Draven over so he can yell at me some more. Couldn’t be worse than this.”

There’s a soft sliding sound of metal on plasteel—Bodhi peeks up over his sleeve and Solo’s actually picked up his comlink. “No, wait—”

Solo holds up a finger. “Cassian? Just a heads-up, you might have to come peel your boy off the floor of the Falcon in the morning. I’m getting him good and drunk so he’ll tell me everything.”

“You’re not holding down the switch to talk,” Bodhi observes.

Solo, his bluff called, shrugs and tosses the comlink back to him. “You really don’t want to talk about it?”

“What could possibly have given you that impression, Captain Solo?” Bodhi asks, sarcastically.

“Fine.” Solo shakes his head and takes another drink. “I’m just saying. You’ve been wandering around base for the last week looking like you lost your pet mooka. You miss Luke. And don’t give me that ‘he’s my friend’ line.”

The lingering taste of whatever they’ve been drinking is bitter in Bodhi's mouth. “I can’t—I can’t let him be more than that.”

“You can’t even admit to yourself that you might be interested? Understand, I’m just looking out for my friend here—why the hell not?” Solo glares at him.

“He’s Luke Skywalker. I’m not—I’ll never be—” Bodhi leans his head back against the bulkhead and rubs his eyes, remembering a tentative, gentle hand around his wrist, the way Luke had looked at him before leaving—

“Good enough for him?”

Bodhi looks up; Solo’s supposed to be a brilliant sabacc player, better than anyone, but even he can’t hide the expression of commiseration that flickers across his face for a second. Then he grimaces. “Yeah, that’s a terrible excuse. Luke spent every free second with you before they left. He thinks you’re good enough. Next?”

But Bodhi doesn’t get another chance to try to explain—not how hard it was to trust even the friends who’d saved him, not how much he wishes he could let himself be interested—because Leia’s calling, from the main corridor. “Han? Is Bodhi still with you?”

“Yeah, we’re here,” Solo calls back.

She comes around the corner, looking happier than Bodhi remembers ever seeing her before. “Rogue Squadron just came out of hyperspace into the system. The liberation of Gerrard V was a complete success—the governor's in the custody of the new leadership, and we’ve got ourselves another very promising defector.” Leia throws Bodhi a small, pleased smile.

“That's great!” Solo throws his arms wide as if he's moving to hug her—notices Bodhi’s understanding, wryly amused look out of the corner of his eye and turns the motion, awkwardly, into offering her the bottle. “We could turn this into a real party.”

“Not with that you’re not,” Leia says, wrinkling her nose at the offer and demurring.

“I didn’t brew it myself, if that’s what you’re wondering, your Ladyship,” Solo retorts, putting it down on the dejarik table.

“Chewie would never allow you to build a still in here,” Leia points out. “Come on, they’ll be landing soon. Unless you got so drunk in the last, what, ten minutes, that you can’t—”

Bodhi fights back the urge to put his head down on his arms again to shut them out. “I’ll go down there,” he says, standing up. “Thanks for the—the drink.”

“Yeah, you’re welcome.” Solo grabs his arm as he goes past; Leia watches them, sniffing warily at the abandoned bottle. “Think about what I said? This is the most patient I’ve ever seen him about anything. Don’t miss your chance. If you want it.” Bodhi gives him a tiny, acknowledging nod, and heads out.

Bodhi's comlink chirps while he’s wending his way through the connecting corridors, thinking about—well, Luke, and his persistent, bright smile. Whether he can stand to see it aimed at himself again. He flicks on the comlink, and Jyn’s voice says, “Bodhi, I thought you’d want to know Rogue’s coming home from Gerrard V right now. Stop by for dinner after you greet them?”

Bodhi hesitates. “Maybe?”

“Oh, whatever you want, let me know,” Jyn says, sounding slightly amused. “Say hi to Luke and the boys for me.” She signs off.

When Bodhi gets to the hangar, most of the X-wings are already docked, and the usual commotion of debarking has him dodging maintenance staff and droids. He spots Luke and Wedge climbing out of their respective ships—his heart gives a wild little leap of relief—and there’s a battered-looking Lambda-class shuttle being tucked into the last available free space.

As Bodhi approaches, Luke jumps down from his X-wing and runs over to the shuttle, where a short, dark-haired woman with pale skin who can only be Kasan Moor, is coming down the ramp. “Welcome to Thila Base!” Luke calls, and she makes a amused, derisive noise, looking around at the catacombs.

Wedge comes up behind them, throwing his arm over Luke’s shoulders. “Better’n living out of our X-wings for the last ten days,” he says to her.

Luke slings his other arm around Kasan—“First stop, the ‘fresher,” she says, making a face.

“I don’t think we smell that bad,” Luke says, and then he notices Bodhi—“Bodhi! This is Kasan Moor.” He’s smiling down at her fondly, tossing his mussed hair back out of his eyes, and she’s smiling back at him, and—

Oh.

Bodhi’s uncertain heart crashes to a halt.

Dammit, Solo—you were right—

He tells himself it makes sense, of course. They've spent the last ten days flying and fighting together, while Bodhi’s been trying to get his head on straight enough just to get behind the controls of a transport. He’s not jealous. It makes sense.

It makes sense.

But he doesn't get very far trying to parse what that means about how he actually feels, because Kasan is sticking her hand out and saying, “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you,” and he has to be polite.

“Hi,” Bodhi says, shaking her hand, trying not to think about the comparison they make, nervous ex-cargo pilot from a backwater Mid-Rim planet next to a pretty, brilliant TIE pilot from a sophisticated—if utterly destroyed— Core World. “Glad you could join us. Um, weren't you flying an Interceptor?” he asks, indicating the Lambda shuttle, puzzled.

“We stole it.” Luke grins.

“It's not much to look at, right now,” Kasan says apologetically. “But Luke told me about your shuttle that got blown up on Corellia, and I didn't want to fly all the way here in my cramped Interceptor, anyway, so—here. It's all yours.”

“Kasan's going to be Rogue Seven,” Luke puts in. Bodhi barely hears him, looking past them at the shuttle—he can tell from here it’s not one that’s been retrofitted for an officer’s personal use, it's probably all scratched-up from stormtroopers banging around inside on their way to battle, and it probably needs a new shield generator, but—hang on

“You—you brought me a ship?

“It was Luke's idea,” Wedge says, meaningfully. “Wouldn't shut up about it once he got it in his head.”

“For when you're cleared to fly again,” Luke says, beaming at him, a little shyly, and Bodhi thinks, wildly, it doesn't make sense—“Since I couldn't seem to convince you that Y-wings were the way to go.”

Bodhi, overwhelmed, bursts out, “It’s too much—” 

Kasan’s blinking at him, confused, her face far easier to read than Leia’s. Wedge clears his throat and offers Kasan his arm. “Come on, I’ll show you where we bunk.” He gives Bodhi an urgent, insistent sort of look as they walk off.

Bodhi says, trembling, “Luke.

“What? What is it?” Luke reaches out to touch Bodhi’s arm, drawing him under the shadow of his X-wing’s S-foil, out of the way of a passing droid.

Bodhi stammers, feeling his face growing warm, wondering just what was in that bottle—but all-too aware that he’s still sober—“I already owe you—my life—”

“Bodhi, it’s a gift.” Luke is shaking his head firmly, holding onto him. “It’s just a gift. You don’t owe me anything. You never have.”

“You can’t keep doing this,” Bodhi insists. “I barely know how I feel about you, and you keep doing stuff like this.” He gestures helplessly at the shuttle. “What am I supposed to do with this?”

Luke makes a futile attempt to smooth down his hair, the corner of his mouth quirking up. “Just come fly with me sometime, when you’re ready. That’s all. That’s all I want.”

Bodhi stares at him and tries to regroup. “I—blast. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Luke squeezes his arm, and then lets go abruptly and bounds away so he can hug Solo and Leia, who are walking up.

“Welcome back,” Leia says, muffled into his shoulder; Solo’s glancing at Bodhi over the top of Luke’s head quizzically.

Bodhi backs away so they can have their reunion, looking up at the shuttle. His shuttle.

And then he remembers, with a clarity that all his other memories seem to lack, how Luke had lost a long string of sabacc games in a row to him, because—

Luke is a terrible liar.  

Chapter Text

But Bodhi mostly puts Luke’s lie out of his mind for a while, because it turned out Solo could throw a hell of a real party on remarkably short notice. Not in the Falcon, not after Chewbacca stood at the bottom of the ramp and roared, but the whole rest of the hangar bay around their ship had eventually filled up with people and droids celebrating the liberation of Gerrard V.

Solo managed to “liberate” quite a lot of alcohol from throughout the base, and Kasan had been surprisingly able to go drink for drink with him. Bodhi thought Leia’s face was particularly interesting, then, through his own increasingly hazy filter. But Chirrut had absolutely wiped the floor with both of them. Baze had grumbled and taken Chirrut’s stick and—any other possible weapons in the vicinity—before the second-to-last glass was even poured.

Jyn, of all people, had been the one who had grabbed Bodhi by the collar and shoved a canteen of water in his hands. She’d smirked at him and then gone back to dance with Cassian, the two of them so wrapped up in each other they might as well have been back in their quarters, instead of surrounded by virtually the entire population of Thila Base.

The water didn’t help, though; he wakes up—alone—curled up in the cockpit of his new shuttle with: a pounding headache, that bitter taste in his dry mouth again, a datapad of jotted-down ideas about what to do with the shuttle, and not a whole lot of coherent memories of the rest of the night before. That last’s all right—Bodhi’s gotten mostly accustomed to trying to piece his life back together, by now, and he doesn’t think he’d done anything too embarrassing besides climb up on top of the Falcon with Wedge, trying to throw sabacc cards into the sensor dish.

With Wedge. He groans quietly to himself, tugging his hair free from its tie and running his fingers through it as the memory floats back to him.

Okay, maybe he’d also rambled at Wedge about Luke and how it wasn’t fair, he had nothing to give in return for the shuttle, there was nothing in the galaxy that could ever be enough for all the things Luke had done. And Wedge had just laughed and thrown another card, way off the mark, and said something kind but ultimately unhelpful; Bodhi can’t remember what, exactly. It’s not the most embarrassing thing he’s ever done, but he suspects Wedge is going to give him a lot of shit about it, later.

He stumbles down through the hold—the ramp is still down, that’s strange—to go back to his quarters and trips over—

“Kaytoo?”

“GOOD MORNING, BODHI,” Kaytoo says, at his absolute top volume, getting to his feet, and all the way across the hangar someone jumps and drops their entire toolkit with a bang, swearing.

“This is going to be a fun morning,” Bodhi mutters, putting his hands over his ears. “What are you doing here?”

“CASSIAN TOLD ME I SHOULD MAKE SURE YOU DIDN’T DO ANYTHING STUPID WHILE YOU WERE DRUNK,” Kaytoo informs him. “AND THEN I STAYED HERE OVERNIGHT TO MAKE SURE NO ONE BOTHERED YOU WHILE YOU SLEPT. AT 0230 HOURS I EVEN SENT LUKE SKYWALKER AWAY. HE WAS VERY UNHAPPY WITH ME.”

Bodhi winces, looking around—no one’s particularly close by, but Kaytoo is loud. “And now?”

“NOW I’M BEING RUDE ABOUT YOUR OBVIOUS HANGOVER. ON PURPOSE.” His eyes are especially well-lit and piercing.

“No one should have ever put you and Artoo in the same room together,” Bodhi says, rubbing his temples. “He’s a bad influence. Could you please—”

“Modulate my volume?” Kaytoo says. “Fine. Maybe I should go wake up Cassian and Jyn.”

Bodhi thinks about it for a second. Cassian told him to— “Yeah, you should,” he says. “Exactly the way you were talking just now, before you modulated your volume.”

“It is one hundred percent certain they will not like being woken up that way,” Kaytoo observes.

“You don’t say.” Bodhi rubs his eyes blearily. “Well, thanks, Kaytoo, I’m awake, and I have work to do, so—”

“Very well, I know when I’m not wanted,” Kaytoo says, and stalks off in a huff. Bodhi blinks after him, for a moment, and then goes in the opposite direction to change his clothes and find some caf.

An hour later, Bodhi’s flat on his back under the console, with his initial diagnostics completed  and a bunch of spare parts stacked carefully in the cargo hold. He’s manually rerouting main power away from the stuff he wants to replace; not the easiest task with a head still full of bantha wool, but he’s happy, or as close to it as he can remember being for a long, long time. Like this is Chirrut’s moving meditation in its clearest form, focused on nothing except the present, the cables and parts in his hands, repairing and reinventing the shuttle.

My shuttle. It needs a name

Footsteps in the cargo hold interrupt his thoughts.

That didn't take long, he thinks, both bracing for his visitor and feeling a surprised little twinge of delight that he’s come.

“Bodhi?”

“Yeah,” he calls back.

Luke leans over the back of the pilot’s chair and asks, “You found a new 880 Palisade shield generator?”

Bodhi says, scooting out awkwardly from under the console, “Fixed up one nobody was using, when Chirrut was teaching me some stuff.”

Luke reaches down to give him a hand up. “It smells a lot better in here now,” he says. “Less like sweaty stormtroopers, more like—”

“A sweaty mechanic?” Bodhi suggests, pulling his goggles off and wiping his face with his sleeve.

Luke runs his hand across the headrest of the pilot’s chair, not looking directly at him. “I don’t mind that.”

Bodhi’s face heats. “Did you need something?” he asks, quickly. “Or do you have time to give me a hand? My shift starts in a couple hours. With you to help, I could get the Palisade up and running by then—”

“I’d love to,” Luke says, “but I can’t, actually.” He gestures down at his flightsuit.

“Oh,” Bodhi says, his contentment from working on the shuttle instantly replaced by familiar anxiety, and a new, confusing sort of disappointment.

“Kasan and I talked last night about pulling a couple of quick hit-and-fades today,” Luke says. “Madine and Rieekan approved it. We’re gonna take out an Imperial supply depot on this place called the Jade Moon. If it goes well, we might swing by Balmorra’s factories on the way home. We're keeping it small and sneaky, just me, her, and Wedge, let the rest of the boys take a breather. Kasan’s excited to get in her X-wing for the first time.” He’s excited, too—Bodhi figures he must not have indulged in any of Solo’s worst cocktails, to be so awake.

“You just got back,” Bodhi murmurs.

Luke runs a hand through his hair. “It’ll be fast. You won’t even have time to miss me,” he says, breezily. “Hey, Leia told me she reinstated you yesterday?”

Bodhi nods, and Luke continues, “Then when we get back again, we should talk. About what you want to do.”

“Yeah, okay,” Bodhi says. Luke taps the back of the pilot’s chair and starts to turn away, but Bodhi remembers something, and asks, “Last night—did Kaytoo say anything to you? When you came by?”

Luke doesn’t turn back around, but Bodhi can see his neck and ears turning bright red. “Nothing important.”  

“Okay,” Bodhi says, again, but skeptically. “Have a good flight.”

*****

Bodhi doesn’t get the Palisade shield generator installed before his maintenance shift.

And after his shift—he thinks his crewmates must’ve drunk a lot more of Solo’s evil clear stuff than he had, from the way they’d worked—Cassian pulls him aside before he can head back to get it done.

“I might have made a mistake,” Cassian says, and he’s flushing slightly pink and having an uncharacteristically hard time maintaining eye contact with Bodhi. “Telling Kaytoo to watch out for you last night.”

“Um—”

“Kaytoo’s not a very good wingman.” Cassian is definitely flustered; it’s remarkably endearing. “I probably should have given him some clearer instructions about what to do if Luke—”

Bodhi raises his eyebrows. “Oh, no.”

“Jyn says things, so I don’t know—

Bodhi tries, “Cassian—”

“It’s pretty obvious that he likes you—”

“Cassian—”

“But if you’d wanted—”

Cassian.” Bodhi grabs him by the shoulder. Cassian stops, and he’s nearly wringing his hands, something Bodhi’s never seen him do before. "Cassian, what in the names of all the stars did Kaytoo say to Luke Skywalker last night?”

Cassian looks away, deeply discomfited by the answer he’s about to give. “That there was a zero point one percent chance Luke was going to get to—”

“Okay, I got it,” Bodhi interrupts quickly, his eyes very wide, but to his surprise, he finds himself trying to stifle laughter.

“I mean, I see you with him, and I don’t know if that’s even what you want,” Cassian offers, frowning a little. “But, um, Kaytoo should not have been—involved—in that conversation.”

“Nope,” Bodhi agrees, rubbing the back of his neck, another appalled snicker threatening to escape.

“So I’m sorry about that,” Cassian says, haltingly. “You—make your own choices—”

“Jyn put you up to this?” Bodhi asks.

Cassian nods emphatically. “But you should know, I won’t let anyone stand in the way of what you want. If it’s Luke, or flying, or anything.”

Bodhi smiles at him. “I know.” Cassian reaches out and squeezes his hand, smiling back.

*****

In the evening, Luke and Wedge and Kasan are home again, piling into the cargo hold of Bodhi’s shuttle by unspoken agreement and talking animatedly about their rampant destruction of Balmorra’s construction yards.

“Did you even see that AT-AT under you?” Kasan asks Wedge, flopping down in the seat behind the co-pilot’s chair.

He shakes his head. “Good thing its armor wasn’t completed, or you’d never have brought it down,” he tells her.

Bodhi blinks at them. “I wasn’t expecting guests?”

Luke shrugs, not exactly apologetically, going past Kasan and sitting in the co-pilot’s seat, running his hand over the console. “It’s okay, though, if we’re here?”

Kasan raises her eyebrows, looking between the two of them, and Wedge just nudges her and rolls his eyes.

“Sure—if you don’t mind being put to work,” Bodhi says, glaring at Wedge.

He could stand to be ordered around a little,” Wedge comments, jerking a thumb at Luke, who’s grinning, unabashed. “Even Madine—and they’re making him a General, you hear about that? Even Madine practically asks his permission for stuff.”

“Being the last of the Jedi has its perks.” Kasan smirks. Luke makes an exasperated noise at her, which she ignores, saying, “Go on, Bodhi, tell us what you need done to get this baby off the ground.”

He glances at Luke, who’s looking back at him, expectantly, hopefully. “O—Okay, I got the Palisade shield generator up, but I need to test whether it’s actually increasing the power of the existing particle shield or if they’re incompatible, and I haven’t had a chance to see if the R-T0 cannon actually retracts like it’s supposed to—” Bodhi stops, suddenly shy. “I—I made a list,” he says, clutching his datapad tightly.

“It’s gonna smell like four sweaty mechanics in here,” Luke says, amused, but turns to the console and starts flipping toggles. “I’ll check your shields.”

Wedge quirks an eyebrow at Bodhi teasingly. “Tell me what to do, boss,” he says.

“Go poke around that blaster cannon,” Bodhi says, politely refraining from smacking Wedge over the head with his datapad. “Hopefully it won’t accidentally go off while you’re in front of it.” Wedge gives him a rude gesture, affectionately, and goes out to look at it.

Bodhi ends up in the back, alongside Kasan, yanking out the Imperial HoloNet transceiver.

“You sure you don’t want to keep it? Just in case?” she asks.

“Just in case what?” he says, suspiciously.

“Oh, blast, not that,” Kasan shakes her head at him. “I’m never going back, and neither are you. Just in case you need to pick up Imperial transmissions or something.”

“It’s too risky,” Bodhi says. “I—I messed around with Imperial communications on Scarif, and I think it’s what pointed them right at me, in the end.”

She frowns at that, coiling a cable around her hand. “In the end?”

(Tonc shouted, “FUCK YOU!” and threw the grenade back—)

Bodhi swallows. “My landing pad was overrun, and I almost didn’t get out.”

“You had a lot harder time of it than I did,” Kasan says. “I’m sorry about that.”

“I can’t imagine it was the height of luxury, holed up in your Interceptor during the liberation,” Bodhi observes, quietly.

Kasan shrugs. “I didn’t have to do anything, really, except put out the call, and hope Princess Leia would trust me. Luke told me some of what you had to go through—”

Bodhi tenses up, unconsciously pulling at the cuff of his sleeve, but she isn’t talking about Saw—

“—if I’d had to watch Alderaan be destroyed—” Kasan sniffs and swipes at her nose. “I don’t know that I could’ve done anything, after that, except—go numb, I guess. I screamed, in the barracks, when I heard, and they had to sedate me for a week.”

“I’m sorry,” Bodhi says, weakly, and does not think about Jedha.  

“Yeah, well, here we are,” Kasan says, and smiles, handing him the coil. “Taking the fight to the Empire, one planet at a time.”

He looks at her. “Where’s Rogue Squadron deploying to next?”

“You know about Kile II?”

Bodhi nods. “The Enclave.”

Kasan’s eyes are bright. “That’s what I’m recommending to Rieekan and Madine we hit tomorrow. Surprise attack, like today, take out the sensor array, the stormtrooper barracks, and the spaceport. They won’t know what hit ‘em.”

“It doesn’t—” Bodhi hesitates, feeling a little sick. “It doesn’t bother you, to kill stormtroopers?”

She tilts her head at him. “They’re just—” she waves a hand. “Stormtroopers. It’s not like I knew any of them or anything. TIE pilots didn’t, you know, fraternize.”

“Yeah,” Bodhi mumbles, uncomfortable. “Thanks—thanks for the help,” he says, and tries not to look like he’s fleeing back up to the cockpit.

Luke glances over when he drops into the pilot’s seat, looking back to see Kasan stepping down outside to help Wedge. “Everything okay? I could feel your alarm.”

Bodhi freezes in distress, and Luke holds up his hands. “I wasn’t in your head.”

“I’m okay,” Bodhi mutters, shaking it off. “How’s that shield generator working?”

Luke is gazing at him steadfastly. “I promised—” he taps a finger on his temple—“but I could tell something was off, all of a sudden.”

“It’s really all right,” Bodhi says.

“Okay,” Luke says, doubtfully, and then changes the subject—right back into Kasan’s plan, unknowingly. “Do you want to come with us to Kile II tomorrow? It’s more of what we pulled today, just on a bigger scale.”

“Kasan told me—sensor array, spaceport, stormtrooper barracks.” Bodhi shakes his head, looking down at his hands; he’s started to lace his fingers together nervously in his lap. “Luke—I don’t—I can’t kill anyone, not for Rogue Squadron, not for the Rebellion.”

Luke’s head jerks up sharply. “That’s what it was. I can feel it. What did Kasan say? I’ll talk to her.”

Don’t, please,” Bodhi says. “I know. It’s a war. I have to—I have to fight.” He glances at Luke’s worried face. “But you haven’t seen the simulation logs—when I flew—”

Luke presses his lips together. “I have,” he says, quietly. “I’m the commander of Rogue Squadron. Of course I saw your simulations.” He reaches over like he wants to take Bodhi’s hands in his own, but stops.

“I’m sorry,” Bodhi says, dismayed, some small part of himself wishing Luke hadn't drawn back. “I'm sorry I can't be what you want. I can't be part of Rogue Squadron—”

“You are, you’ll always have a place with us, even if you're not in an X-wing or some other fighter,” Luke insists. “You’re Rogue One.” He looks down. “And I shouldn't have kept pushing you. I thought—I don't know what I thought, except maybe it would make you happy to fly.”

“I missed flying,” Bodhi confesses. He’s abruptly tongue-tied, unable to admit much more than that to himself, let alone Luke. “This shuttle—it means everything.”

“I'm glad.” Luke's expression is relieved, faintly pleased. “Bodhi—” He stops and starts again. “Yesterday, I—”

Bodhi feels his heartbeat quicken, and he says hastily, afraid of what else might come out of his mouth, “I mean, if the mission ever calls for a shuttle, for some reason—a supply run, or—I’d like to come.”

Luke swallows and leans back in the co-pilot’s seat, disappointment written all over his face. But he asks, “So if it's not an outright assault, or there's no combat in the works?”

Bodhi nods. “I can do that.”

“Okay.” Luke gives him a small smile. He holds Bodhi’s gaze for a long, curious moment, before turning back to the console. “We’d better run another diagnostic, then, if you're ever going to fly this thing.”

*****

Kasan's proposed mission to Kile II is a go the next morning; Rogue Squadron flies out in their Y-wings instead of X-wings, to maximize their firepower against the Enclave’s many targets. Bodhi worries about that for half the day, telling himself it’s because his preference has always been for speed over anything else, and not because he's worried about Luke in particular.

Chirrut, when he catches Bodhi in the corridor, says, “It’ll be all right. All is—”

“As the Force wills it, I know,” Bodhi says, but he can't shake the persistent nagging anxiety, not even when he gets back to his shuttle and starts in on rebuilding the communications system for Alliance specs.

Jyn comes by around midday and distracts him for a while, making him explain every single thing he's doing or plans to do to the shuttle. “In case I need to know for a cover,” she says, when Bodhi asks why. “In case Rieekan can't loan you to me and Cassian for a mission.”

“What kind of mission would you need to know all this stuff for?”

Jyn shrugs. “I like to do my research.” Bodhi thinks she's bluffing, but he’s never played sabacc with her.

And then few hours after that, Bodhi’s on his maintenance shift when Rogue Squadron comes home again, much sooner than Bodhi had thought to expect them. The medical team that hurries into the hangar as soon as the first Y-wing lands starts his heart pounding in his ears and alarm bells ringing in his head.

Bodhi’s not assigned to help with Luke’s Y-wing, but something tells him to get over there now, ignoring the deck officer’s confusion and shouted orders. His hands close into painfully tight fists as he sprints towards the ship, praying please, please, gasping at the lightning-bolt strike of knowing, horribly, that something is very wrong—

He skids to a halt at Luke’s Y-wing at the same time the medical team does, panting in terror. But the team’s not for him—they’re prepping for whoever’s landing the badly damaged Y-wing next to him.

Oh, no—

Luke pops the cockpit and scrambles out, Artoo crying a stream of anxious noises behind him. Luke’s hair is matted with sweat, his face tear-streaked, but he’s completely unhurt, making immediately for the scorched Y-wing—Kasan’s—behind the medical team, and Bodhi follows him, scared. Kasan’s bloody and burned, but conscious—he can hear her crying out as a medical droid carefully lifts her from the cockpit and gets her onto an antigrav gurney.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Luke calls after her, shakily, as the team gently brushes him aside and whisks her away to the medcenter. “Kasan—you’re going to be all right—”

“Luke, what happened?” Bodhi reaches out to put his hand on Luke’s shoulder, frightened by his utter lack of composure.

“Oh, Bodhi—” Luke turns too quickly, nearly falling into Bodhi’s arms. He struggles to right himself. “We ran into an ambush outside the city. There was a canyon—they were waiting with a second wave of TIEs right after we took out the spaceport, and—we split up—” Luke’s breath catches, and he swallows painfully, unable to meet Bodhi’s eyes.

And Bodhi knows.

He jerks his head up and starts counting the Y-wings in the hangar.

No. No no no—

“Kasan was hit—her astromech barely managed to get the jump to hyperspace calculated before he went dead.” Luke’s trembling, pushing his hair back from his face with an unsteady hand.

Bodhi counts the Y-wings again, heart plummeting, as he recognizes each call sign, each droid being lowered down out of their ships. The grim faces of his friends in Rogue Squadron as they come together.

All, save one.

There’s a horrible sick feeling coiling in his stomach. Bodhi grabs for his friend’s hands, trying to make Luke look at him. “Luke—”

Luke’s eyes are as blue as the ocean of Scarif, surging up to crush his shuttle—“I tried to get there—I wasn’t fast enough—”

“Luke,” Bodhi says, dizzy with dread, already knowing the answer. “Where’s Wedge?”

Chapter Text

Wedge is dead.

*****

Bodhi sits in the back of Rogue Squadron's debriefing, numb, too stunned to cry.

Luke pulls himself together and makes his report, standing stiffly at attention and looking through, not at, General Madine.

Bodhi stays put, all the way through Madine’s cut-glass questioning of Rieekan's decision to use Y-wings, to send the squadron out day after day without an appropriate rest period in between.

He watches Rogue Squadron; Wes Janson, Wedge's occasional wingman, is leaning forward in his seat, resting his forehead on his clenched hands. Zev’s hand is on Janson's back, between his shoulder blades, not moving.

Bodhi stays, through Hobbie's broken, faltering explanation of his inability to get the pursuing TIEs off Wedge and Kasan in the canyon.

Sometime in the middle of Luke’s description of the ambush, Bodhi realizes that Wedge is the first loss he’s had under his command. It's too much to think about, so he just—doesn't.

Bodhi nearly manages to stay through the whole debrief. But then Luke's Artoo plays back Wedge's last transmission: his horrified yell for help when Kasan's hit, his bleak desperation as each component of his own Y-wing’s computer fails in turn after he’s hit, and—Bodhi gets up and walks out, Wedge’s torn-off final scream echoing in his ears, unable to look at any of his friends still trapped in that moment, not even glancing at Luke's bowed head.

In the corridor, Bodhi turns, and heads quickly towards the simulations. Thanks the Force that the room’s empty, slams in the data tape for—Scarif—swearing to himself he’ll really do it this time, he’ll blast them all to pieces, for Wedge. For Luke. For the friends he saved, somehow. For Tonc, for Galen—

Tears blind him before he can fire a single shot, but they don’t fall.

Bodhi stops the simulation, shaking, and wipes his eyes with his sleeve.

It wouldn’t have made any difference if I was there.

He goes to the medcenter; the staff won’t let him, or anyone, see Kasan until she’s in better condition. Outside, Bodhi slides down the wall and sits with his knees up, head buried in his arms, not thinking. He listens to the faint sounds of the medical equipment behind him—the uncomfortably familiar gurgling of the bacta tank, the metallic voices of droids. And he listens to the sounds of the base, which never falls silent, not even for death.

“They're not letting anyone see Kasan?”

Bodhi looks up. Luke is pale, and looks utterly exhausted; he seems older, his light dimmed by grief. “No.”

“You shouldn’t be alone,” Luke says, after a moment.

“Neither should you.”

Luke sits down—more like collapses, really—next to him. “Problem solved.”

Bodhi puts his head back into the circle of his arms, looking at Luke over the folds of his sleeve, silent.

“I fucked up,” Luke says, eventually, staring straight ahead at nothing. “It wasn’t Rieekan’s fault we went out a second day in a row. I had—‘more enthusiasm than sense.’”

“Someone could’ve said no to you,” Bodhi murmurs.

Luke shakes his head. “No one ever does.” His voice is hollow. “They’ll all follow me into oblivion.”

“Not Solo,” Bodhi says, nudging a shoulder against him. “Or Leia.”

“Or you.”

Bodhi’s eyes widen, unable to figure out what emotion colors Luke’s voice. “I would, if—if I could.”

“Don’t,” Luke chokes out. “Look what following me got Wedge.”

“It’s not your fault,” Bodhi says, softly, hanging onto his own composure by a thread. “Wedge defected. He knew as well as anybody what the cost might be. He lost people too, before.”

“I sent him away so he could survive the Death Star.” Luke leans his head back on the wall, covering his eyes with a shaking hand. “He was hit, but he could still pull up, so I told him to get out of there. Me and Wedge, we were the only ones who made it back from Red—” His words catch on a sob.

Bodhi holds out for the space of a dozen heartbeats, listening to Luke trying not to cry. Then he unfolds, gets to his knees, and puts his arms around Luke, turning his face away. Luke buries his head in the crook of Bodhi’s shoulder, muffling his tears, his whole body shuddering in Bodhi’s arms.

A soft, stricken sound at the far end of the corridor makes him glance up. Leia and Solo are coming towards him—he doesn’t know how they knew where to find Luke, only that of course they did, and of course they came. Bodhi watches them, not letting go of Luke, just looking at Leia’s dark, knowing eyes, the way her hand fits with Solo’s like it belongs there.

“Hi, kid,” Solo says, bringing Leia over to them. “Mind if we crash your party?” He’s somber.

Bodhi shakes his head, reluctantly standing and helping Luke to his feet. Luke swipes the back of his hand across his reddened eyes as Leia moves to hug him and Solo reaches out to pat his back.

“I'm so sorry,” Leia murmurs. “He was a brave man.”

Bodhi turns away, intending to let Luke's dearest friends console him, but Solo asks, “Bodhi—you gonna be all right?”

“Yeah. Yeah. Just take care of him, okay?”

“Wait,” Luke says, gently extricating himself from Leia's embrace. “Are you sure? You don't have to go. I’m sure Kasan would like to see you.”

“I should—” Bodhi trails off, not really knowing what to say. “I'm gonna go check on Hobbie,” he lies.

Luke nods, exhaling shakily. “Thanks—thanks for staying with me. You’re a good friend.” Bodhi does not miss the sharp-eyed glance Solo gives him at that, but—it’s not the right time. He leaves them to wait by the medcenter, walking away in the direction of Rogue Squadron’s quarters. He winds up in the hangar, staring at his shuttle.

Wedge was working on the R-T0 cannon for me—

Bodhi goes up into the cockpit and toggles the controls for the blaster cannon.

It retracts perfectly. He puts his head down and does not cry.

*****

There are two memorials for Wedge. The first is a brief and formal military ceremony, with all the High Command staff, who look uniformly grim, except for Rieekan, who doesn’t raise his eyes from the floor once.

The second is, of course, a typically informal Rogue Squadron gathering. Luke stops looking quite so much like he’s going to collapse from grief sometime after the fourth beer; he even manages to laugh at some of Hobbie’s stories of his and Wedge’s first exploits after joining the Rebellion, including something very odd about crashing into a volcano. Bodhi spearheads what turns into a seemingly endless game of sabacc with far too many players, which they end up letting Kasan win, just for not being dead.

Cassian and Jyn are apologetic about having to leave right after that, though. They’re meeting Talon Karrde to pick up his latest intel in person, and although it's unpleasant to think about, Bodhi knows that's more important than continuing to grieve over a lost pilot. Even if it was Wedge.

The day after they've gone, Bodhi’s helping Luke, who’s regained his usual composure, if not his smile, to clean out Wedge's quarters. He’s putting holos, and Wedge’s odd ideas about what mementos should be, into a storage container, when he suddenly remembers, turns, and hauls up Wedge's mattress.

“What is it?” Luke asks.

“His medal,” Bodhi says, looking down at it, and—

Wedge’s old Imperial flightsuit.

It's different than his, of course, black and sleek, even laid out flat, but the insignia at the shoulder’s the same. He kneels to grab the flightsuit and the medal, and then he can't bring himself to stand back up, staring down at the two pieces of their shared history in his hands.

Wedge couldn't get rid of it, either.

None of us can ever escape our past—

He’s stuck there, on his knees, wondering whether Wedge had known the person who’d shot him down. If Wedge had ever gone up against TIE pilots he’d gone to school with. Thinking of his own friends at the Academy and whether they really were all dead; how often someone he knew killed someone he knew.

There's a buzzing, a roaring, in his ears; his heart is starting to race in a too-familiar nervous rhythm. Everything narrows down to the medal glinting on top of the black flightsuit, and his thoughts start to skitter apart—

“Bodhi?”

He’s trapped, can’t breathe—tries to think of his shuttle, what he was doing with the engines last, but it's too hard to pull up—

“Hey—”

There's a hand on his shoulder and a concerned, familiar voice talking to him. “Oh—shit. Bodhi, come on, stay with me, don't do this—”

He thinks there are tears on his face, gasps for breath, lost. An arm goes around him, holding him carefully.

“Okay, I'm here, I’m right here. I promised, so you're gonna have to find your way back on your own. But you're safe, you're safe —” That might be a lie, but is it from now or on Corellia with the woman standing over him—“I'm right here with you. Can you put down the stuff you're holding? Can you give it to me?”

He pushes the flightsuit into the person’s waiting hand. The medal ribbon slithers around his fingers for a second, and it feels wrong—at least it’s not—something else—he can’t remember what, but he doesn’t want it touching his skin. He closes his eyes.

“Bodhi, I don't know what Chirrut taught you, he doesn't talk about what he's doing with you, but he taught me some things about meditation and breathing. Can you—can you do that? Focus on breathing?”

He manages, somehow, though his throat feels like it’s closed up entirely, “Yeah. Keep talking. Don't go. Please.”

“I won't. I'm not going anywhere. Do you think you want to sit up on the bunk with me?”

He shakes his head. Tries to ignore his racing heart, and focuses on matching his breathing to the steady rise and fall of the person's chest pressed against his side—Luke, oh, it’s Luke, who else would it be—“Just talk to me—tell me something—tell me about flying—”

“I—okay. Um. There's a canyon, back home, it used to be a podracing course, I guess. I used to take my speeder out and fly around, looking for parts from crashed podracers after dust storms blew through. Lots of old, pre-Clone Wars stuff. I don't know why they stopped having races there, I would've liked to have seen some—”

“I used to bet on races,” Bodhi mumbles. “Not as much fun as sabacc, but there's more money in it.”

Luke says, “Well, Han swears up and down that he won the Falcon in a sabacc game, so I don't know about that.”

Bodhi lifts his head and looks at him. “Seriously?”

Luke’s eyes are distressed, but his mouth curves, barely, into something like a smile. “Yeah. Off some poor guy who didn't know what hit him.” He takes a deep breath. “Are you all right?”

Bodhi ducks his head again, wiping the dampness on his face away with his trembling hands. Breathes. “I think so.”

“Okay.”

“I'm sorry.”

Luke hasn’t let go. He squeezes Bodhi’s shoulder. “You have nothing to be sorry for.”

Bodhi pushes himself around so he can put his back up to Wedge's bunk without dislodging Luke's hand. “I didn't know that would set me off,” he says, looking at the flightsuit and medal in a pile just behind Luke on the floor.

Luke hesitates, and then he puts his hand over Bodhi’s, warm and gentle. “I'm just glad I was here to help. Like you did for me.”

“When I panicked—what did it feel like to you? Since you can—” he waves a hand by his temple.

Luke doesn't say anything for a second. “Like someone turned out the lights on you.”

“And—you’d know if it happened, even if you were clear across the base.”

“Probably. I haven't exactly tested out the range. Coronet City, I was pretty far away, though.” He shrugs.

“Does it work for other people, too?”

Luke stares down at their hands. “Only people I care about deeply.”

Bodhi shudders, but he pushes forward and asks, quietly, “Wedge?”

“Yeah. I felt his pain, and fear, and I couldn't do—” Luke stops himself. Exhales, and slumps against Wedge's bunk next to Bodhi. “If I talk about this more, or other terrible and depressing things—?”

“I think I’ll be all right, but I've never tested it.” He manages a faint, rueful smile.

“Okay.” Luke falls silent, anyway.

Bodhi leans his head on Luke's shoulder, tired. “Thanks.”

“Don't mention it.” Luke puts his arm around Bodhi. It doesn't mean anything more than simple friendship, not when they’re both still shaken with grief, but Bodhi’s grateful for the physical contact nonetheless.

Then Luke holds up something in his other hand. “Look what I found.”

Bodhi blinks at it. “A sabacc card?”

“Not just any card.” Luke taps the corner with his thumb. The Queen flickers and changes into the Idiot; he taps it again and it changes into the Star.

“A skifter?” Bodhi yelps. “That jumped-up, cheating Corellian dirt-farmer—” Then he laughs, pressing his face into Luke's shoulder. “And he still couldn't beat me.” Luke snorts a laugh of his own, and pulls him close, as close as they were in the corridor outside the medcenter. And when tears start to fall onto his flight jacket, it’s impossible to tell if they’re his, or Luke’s.

*****

In the week after that, Bodhi’s life starts to return to something approximating routine; he’s less busy than before because no one’s being deployed again, leaving plenty of time to work on his shuttle—the perfect distraction from grief.

During his regular maintenance shifts, though, Bodhi hears talk of the Alliance having over-extended their forces across the whole galaxy, not just in the random mission that took Wedge’s life. Hard-won systems start to fall back into the hands of the Empire in what’s being dubbed the “Mid-Rim Retreat,” frustrating Luke to no end. But there’s nothing for it; Leia concurs that the Rebellion needs to regroup, and Luke doesn't like to go up against her.

It becomes standard practice, apparently, for Bodhi’s friends to stop by his shuttle if he's working on it. He’s rarely alone, Luke his most constant—and competent—assistant; though, by unspoken agreement, they don’t talk about anything except speeders and ships and all the remarkably stupid things they did as adolescents trying to go faster.

Baze gives up trying to explain what the shuttle’s changes look like to Chirrut fairly early on in the week. Bodhi ends up finishing some components faster just so Chirrut won’t trip or poke himself or mention that it’ll be easier to do things if there’s some more floor space. He suspects Chirrut is faking some of it to force the issue, mostly because Baze keeps rolling his eyes and sighing whenever Chirrut stumbles against something, dramatically. It makes him wonder, again, if Chirrut knows more than he lets on, about the future.

Hobbie, lonely without Wedge, tries to be helpful, but can’t stop himself from pointing out all the little things that could blow up in Bodhi’s face if he keeps doing that. Eventually Bodhi threatens to tape his mouth shut, and he knocks it off.

And, naturally, Solo checks out the modifications with the most critical eye. After days of additional tweaking—Bodhi increasingly irritated with each visit, even with Luke’s calming presence—he finally pronounces the overdrive acceptable, and promises a bottle of something horrible for when Bodhi finally gets around to picking a name, to christen the shuttle.

At the end of the week, Cassian, Jyn, and Kaytoo come back from meeting with Karrde—a bit overdue because of a recruitment stop, and some extra hyperspace jumps to throw off any possible pursuers. “I still think he’s not telling us something about what he was doing on Esseles,” Jyn says, sweeping in and sitting in the pilot's chair. “I'm getting better at his tells, he does this thing with his beard—hi, Bodhi. You’ve been all right?”

Bodhi looks down at her from where he's been fiddling with an overhead light that keeps going out. “Welcome back. I’m okay.” Kaytoo shakes his head and tsks at Bodhi, reaching up to firmly secure the wire, ungrounded—Bodhi jumps off the chair hastily, before Kaytoo can electrocute him.

Cassian reaches out to steady him, and kisses him on the cheek. “Would you go head to head with Karrde in sabacc?”

Bodhi shakes his head. “I only met him once, remember? But he’d definitely be a tough read.”

“Speaking of,” Jyn says, sardonically, flashing a datapad at him and rolling her eyes. “We all love decrypting Karrde’s reports on what the Empire’s been up to.”

Bodhi offers, “Actually, this might be a good chance to test out the ship’s computer—”

Kaytoo asks, sounding pleased, “Are you using the new algorithms I gave you before we left?”

“All based on classified information, I'm sure,” Cassian says. “You’re very inconsistent about what you think should be shared or secret, you know?” He sighs, seeming not to notice his own hypocrisy with regards to what he's let Bodhi know. Kaytoo makes a rude gesture back at Cassian. “Kay, who taught you that one? It’s very inappropriate.”

“I’m not telling.”

“Yeah, you—you're all really lax about your data security with me,” Bodhi observes. “Not that I'm complaining, mind.”

Jyn raises an eyebrow at him, but hands him the datapad. “Sure, give it a shot. I'm sure Karrde wouldn't have a problem with you looking at this ”

He plugs it in and tells the computer to do a running display of the decryption. “How is he?”

“Same as usual. Mercenary to a fault.” Cassian shrugs. “He asked about you.”

Karrde? Really?”

“He remembers everything from when we first met,” Jyn says, making a face.

Kaytoo says, affronted, “Karrde did not remember me.

“He was disappointed you didn’t wear that dress again,” Cassian says to Jyn. She punches him on the arm, not gently.

“What did he ask about me?” On the display, there’s some stuff about the ongoing blockade of Kashyyyk. Bodhi has a pang of guilt for not knowing about it; Chewbacca hadn’t mentioned anything, but of course, he’d never asked. At least the decrypt seems to be working correctly.

Cassian rubs his arm and looks uncomfortable. “If you’ve gotten over—whatever happened to you.”

“Oh,” Bodhi says. “That’s kind of personal, yeah?” He looks down at the screen again; something about rumors of a second Super Star Destroyer being buried on Coruscant. “Kaytoo, this doesn’t look right.”

Kaytoo checks the code and taps the datapad. “No, that’s what it says. Buried on Coruscant.”

“That’s what we told Karrde,” Jyn says. “None of his business.”

Bodhi picks up the datapad to see how much is left to decrypt; it’s going pretty quick, but true to his word, Karrde had provided a lot of information. He glances over at the computer’s display; there’s only one decrypted line scrolling past, about a prisoner transfer from Kile II to the spice mines of Kessel.

Prisoner transfer from Kile II—

Bodhi’s heart leaps—he drops the datapad and runs down out of the shuttle, ignoring Jyn and Cassian's bewildered calls after him, Kaytoo going loud over top of them. He sprints through the base, almost falling when he doesn’t dare slow down around the corners; slams up against Luke’s door and bangs on it in syncopation with his frantic heartbeat until Luke opens it.

“Do you trust me?” Bodhi asks, out of breath. “We’ve never actually flown together—I know—I know I fall apart, I can’t do any of the million things the Rebellion needs me to do, but I know things about the Empire, and if I’m right—” He tries to slow the words spilling out of his mouth. “When it’s about the Empire—do you trust me to know what I’m doing?”

Luke’s furrowing his brow. “Of course I do—Bodhi, what—?”

“Then we have to go. Now.” He slaps his palm against Luke’s door frame. I’m right. I’m right. Let me be right. “Wedge isn’t dead! He’s not, he’s a prisoner on Kessel, he’s alive. We have to go, before it’s too late. We have to go right now!”

Chapter Text

Luke stares at him, frozen.

Please believe me,” Bodhi begs. “It was in Talon Karrde’s report—there was a prisoner transfer from Kile II to Kessel, I know what it means, please, Luke, we have to get Wedge out of there—” He doesn’t know how to persuade anyone, least of all Luke, but if he just keeps talking—

I won’t be too late.

Luke shakes himself. “Okay. Okay, I trust you.” He swings into motion, shrugging his flight jacket over one shoulder and grabbing his pack. Bodhi slaps his hand against the door frame again, delirious with hope; turns and starts to run back towards his shuttle, a plan beginning to come together in his head. Luke runs after him, calling into his comlink, “Zev, scramble the squadron, we’re going to Kessel to get our man back! Bodhi, wait—”

“It’ll take too long to get all of Rogue Squadron up. My shuttle’s ready now,” Bodhi says, breathlessly.

“Bodhi—” Luke catches at his arm. “We can put together an extraction team—”

Bodhi’s shaking his head, hardly slowing down. “No one lasts long on Kessel. We can’t wait. I know I can do this, I can get us in and you can find him,, the way you found me on Corellia.”

“Leia’s going to kill me,” Luke mutters, but his eyes are bright, brighter than they’ve been in days, when he squeezes Bodhi’s arm and says, “Let’s take your shuttle.”

Jyn and Cassian and Kaytoo aren’t still in his shuttle when they get to the hangar; are nowhere to be seen, probably trying to find him. Bodhi’s comlink chirps incessantly in his pocket as he hits the controls for the ramp and hurries to the cockpit, glad he’d cleaned up some before they’d come home, tucking stray parts into his pockets so they won’t bounce around the hold on take off. He thumbs on his comlink—“What?”—keying the engines for preflight, looking at Luke taking the co-pilot’s seat like—like he belongs here with me—

“Bodhi, where are you?” It’s Cassian. “What’s going on? You ran off—Kaytoo looked at the datapad—”

“Wedge, it’s Wedge,” Bodhi calls back, giddily. “He’s alive on Kessel, I have to go get him—”

What?”

Jyn’s voice cuts across Cassian’s. “We can help. Give me an hour and I can—”

“No time,” Luke calls out, grinning at Bodhi, flipping switches on his side of the console as fast as he can. “We’ll be back before anyone else notices we’re gone.”

“Luke?” There's sounds of a brief scuffle over the comlink. Bodhi winces, punching coordinates into the navicomputer, as they both hear someone drop the comlink and it hits the floor with a loud squeal of static.

Zev’s voice from Luke’s comlink—“Commander, we’re scrambling X-wings as fast as we can, we’ll be right behind you—”

Cassian comes on again, urgently. “Commander Skywalker—Bodhi, wait—”

“Don’t worry, Cassian, I’ll be careful!” Bodhi shuts off his comlink and takes the controls, thrilled at the crescendoing hum of his engines, almost laughing in disbelief as he glides the shuttle out of the hangar. Over the shuttle’s comm comes, “Rogue One, you haven't been cleared for departure. Return to base, shut down your engines and report to General Rieekan imm—”

Luke leans toward the pickup and says, “This is Commander Skywalker—if we don't make it back, tell Leia I'm sorry, but we had to try!” He toggles the comm off.

Bodhi gives him an alarmed look as they climb rapidly towards space. “Did you have to be that dramatic about it?”

Luke shrugs apologetically, leaning forward as the navicomputer alerts them for the jump to hyperspace. “It’ll get their attention.” He grins, and pulls back on the lever; the stars turn to streaks, and Bodhi breathes for the first time since he saw that line scroll up the display. He leans his head back against the chair, and smiles. Going rogue again.

“There’s going to be hell to pay for that, when we get back,” Luke says—Bodhi realizes he’d spoken aloud—but Luke’s smiling, too, his face lit up, eager. “What’s your plan to break Wedge out?”

Bodhi swallows nervously and sits up straight. I can do this. “I’ve—I’ve seen your wanted posters; they don't really know what you look like, still, but they know me, my face, so—if you say you're a bounty hunter and you're claiming me—I can get access to a console and find where Wedge's being held.”

Luke's already shaking his head. “I won't risk you like that. Besides, you'd have to have binders on to look like a prisoner.” His mouth twists as his eyes flick down to Bodhi’s hands.

“I can handle it,” Bodhi insists, even as he breaks out in a cold sweat at the thought.

Luke throws him an all too knowing look. “Give me your arm.”

Bodhi tenses up, but holds his arm out to Luke, who produces binders from his pack— “Okay, why do you have those?”

“Picked 'em up on Gerrard V as a souvenir,” Luke says, cheerfully. Then, he adds, more gently, “If you can't handle this, with me sitting right here next to you, we're not doing your idea.”

Wedge. We have to get Wedge out. “Do it.”

Luke snaps one side of the binders shut around his wrist.

Bodhi stares into Luke’s earnest, watchful eyes, doing his best not to think about the pressure against his skin or being trapped. Wonders, instead, whether the little oscillation he’d picked up from the sublights is going to be a problem, vaguely aware that he’s stopped breathing and his heartrate is starting to accelerate like a ship making for hyperspace—

“Yeah, this isn't going to work,” Luke says, taking the binders back off, his fingers accidentally brushing the inside of Bodhi's wrist. Bodhi shivers. “See?”

Bodhi rubs his wrist, trying to ignore that his reaction to Luke's touch had not been one of fear, not in the least. “Well, we're not exactly going to be able to just walk in and demand they give us a prisoner of war back.”

Luke gets an odd, thoughtful look on his face. “Hmm.”

“What?”

Luke smiles. “Obi-wan Kenobi used the Force to convince these stormtroopers that Artoo and Threepio weren't the droids from Leia's ship. It's a trick that only works on the weak-minded, or so he said.”

Bodhi ducks his head and asks, self-deprecatingly,  “Do you want to test that out on me, too?”

Luke’s brow furrows in alarm. “Bodhi, no, what in blazes would make you say something like that?”

He shrugs. “You took the binders off me because you thought I was going to panic.”

“That doesn't—your fear doesn't make you weak-minded,” Luke says, gripping the armrest of his chair tightly, a hint of distress in his voice. “Here, I'll prove it to you.” He moves his right hand in a deliberate sort of gesture, and says, very calmly, “You will turn this ship around and report to General Rieekan.”

Bodhi blinks at him. “Um, I don't think so.”

“There. Now you know.”

“Maybe you're not doing it right,” Bodhi suggests.

Luke huffs a laugh. “Which one of us is the last of the Jedi?”

“Okay,” Bodhi says, dubiously. “Do you think it'll work on a prison guard?”

“If it doesn't work, there isn't going to be much of a prison break.” Luke grins again, looking up through his eyelashes at Bodhi. “But if we have to make a run for it, at least I'll get to see how well you can fly this thing.”

Bodhi fights down another shiver. He trusts me. I won’t fail him.

I can do this.

*****

Kessel is a spectacularly ugly, potato-shaped and rust red little world, without a single redeeming feature to recommend it. Without much of anything, except the spice mines and, of course, the worst prison in the galaxy.

Bodhi puts the shuttle into an orbit that should keep them out of range of Imperial sensors, and starts up a long-range scan. Most of Kessel is on local night; looking out the viewport at the few and faint lights of the prison complex makes Bodhi wonder whether he should plan to fly dark; he’s done it before, on a dare, but never on a planet he didn’t know.

Luke leans over to his side, looking down at the display, not seeming to notice how he’s pressed up against Bodhi’s arm. “Okay, okay. I know this layout,” Bodhi says, tapping the screen. “These are the main detention centers, they must feed prisoners right into the mines. One in three chance of picking the center where Wedge is being held—unless—” He looks up at Luke. “Can you tell where he is?”

Luke makes a face. “Apparently my range is not a whole planet.” He shrugs and smiles briefly down at Bodhi. “One in three’s not such bad odds, though.”

Bodhi nods. He turns back to the display, and his surety—such as it is—immediately dissipates. “It’s better garrisoned than I expected,” he says, dismayed, looking at the number of barracks surrounding the command post. “Didn’t think they’d have this many stormtroopers.”

“What’re these?” Luke puts a finger on one of the smaller structures dotting the canyons.

“Fortresses. Heavily guarded, turbolasers everywhere. I’ll keep out of range of those as much as I can.” Bodhi takes a breath. “Glad I didn’t paint that starbird on the fin yet.”

“We’ll manage. What else do you recognize?” Luke rests a reassuring hand on his shoulder; Bodhi relaxes a little.

“Atmosphere factories—don’t care about those unless we want to slowly suffocate everyone on the planet. They’re using DSS-02 shield generators, one for each center and one for the command post.” Bodhi looks over at Luke. “We’ll still have to get past that. Can your—” he waves his hand in a vague imitation of Luke’s motion— “work over comms?”

Luke shakes his head. “I don’t think so. I think it has to be in person.”

“Then—you should tell them you’re bringing in a prisoner,” Bodhi says. “We’re too far off the cargo delivery schedule to try that angle.”

“Bodhi—”

“Once we’re past the shield and on the ground—”

“They’ll take you away—” Luke’s hand clenches on Bodhi’s shoulder.

Bodhi smiles at him, tremulously. Nothing can be worse than— he pushes that memory down. “So convince them not to.” He reaches for the controls and starts their descent before Luke can register another protest, and Luke has to sit back properly in his seat. The Imperials are good; the comm lights up the second the shuttle hits the range of their sensors.

“Unidentified shuttle, this is a restricted world—”

“Yeah, I know,” Luke replies, quickly. “Kessel’s famous prison. That’s why I’m here. I brought you a—a prisoner worth paying a lot of credits for.” He makes a face at how unconvincing that sounds, and Bodhi, despite his nervousness, can’t help noting the way Luke shifts in his chair, another one of his tells.

“Bounty hunter, huh.” The Imperial on the other end of the line sighs. “More of you scum every day. All right. What’s your identification, shuttle?”

Bodhi has a flash of inspiration—“Cadera—” he hisses, shuddering, thinking of Jedha’s sky of falling stone.

Jedha’s ghosts, rising.

“Shuttle Cadera,” Luke supplies, raising an eyebrow at Bodhi. Bodhi mouths explain later back at him.

“Land at these coordinates and we’ll send someone to negotiate your fee. If your prisoner’s worth anything.” The Imperial sounds skeptical. Bodhi looks down at the coordinates the Imperial’s transmitting, for a landing pad at one of the detention centers, and starts their descent.

Luke’s mouth quirks up. “Oh, he’s worth more than you can even imagine,” he says, and signs off.

The landing pad is several meters off the ground, illuminated by floodlights; no concealing shadows or even any equipment scattered around to hide behind. It’s connected to Detention Center Aurek by a glassed-in walkway. Bodhi bites his lip. “There should be a control station at the end of that walkway, if we can just get that far—”

“No problem,” Luke says, getting up and unholstering his blaster. “We’re going to find Wedge. I can feel it.”

Bodhi looks at him, wide-eyed. “Is he in this part of the prison?”

“I don’t think so, but—” Luke takes a deep breath. “I trust in the Force. We’ll find him.” He gestures for Bodhi to precede him through the hold. “Look scared.”

“I am scared.” Bodhi starts for the ramp controls. Luke catches hold of his arm, and they’re standing too close together, Luke looking deep into Bodhi’s eyes, and—

“We’ll find him,” Luke repeats, sincerely, but Bodhi doesn’t think that was what he’d intended to say.

Or do.

No time for that now—

—maybe, after—if we get out of this—

It almost doesn’t bear thinking about.

The ramp lowers; there’s a lieutenant and two stormtroopers waiting on the landing pad for them.

Luke mutters, “Sorry—” and jams the end of his blaster into Bodhi’s back, saying curtly, “Move.” Bodhi’s hands go up, reflexively, as he walks towards the Imperials. Okay, okay—no one’s shouting “It’s Luke Skywalker—”

“Nice, uh, place you got here,” Luke says to them. “I’m Lars Darklighter—your man here was trying to hide out on Theron, but he couldn’t hide that pretty face from me. Found him winning big at the underground podraces.” He’s talking too much, all his gestures broad and loose—Bodhi realizes Luke’s acting like Solo and has to fight down a horrifying urge to snicker.

“You didn’t have him cuffed?” The lieutenant frowns at Bodhi.

“He’s harmless,” Luke says, smirking and holstering his blaster. He gives Bodhi a shove in their direction. “Go ahead, scan him, look him up. He’s just a very expensive cargo pilot.”

The lieutenant shakes his head. “Still.” He gestures a stormtrooper forward and Bodhi holds his breath.

“You don’t need to cuff him,” Luke says, very calmly, waving his hand, and the stormtrooper stops.

“We don’t need to cuff him,” the stormtrooper echoes in his filtered voice, and a chill runs down Bodhi’s spine. It worked.

“You will escort us to your control station,” Luke says, again in that eerily calm voice, turning to the lieutenant, who nods.

“We will escort you to my control station. This way, please.” They follow him down through the walkway, the two stormtroopers falling in behind them. Bodhi chances a look back at Luke—he’s barely containing his excitement, fairly springing off the ground with every step. They come to a halt at the end of the walkway, in front of a door, where there is, as Bodhi expected, a control station for processing new arrivals. Luke looks at Bodhi; he gives him a tiny nod, certain he can access it.

“You will all go into the detention center and leave us alone,” Luke says, to the Imperials. Bodhi hears the filtered voices of the stormtroopers muttering it to themselves inside their helmets, at the same time the lieutenant repeats it. The lieutenant slaps at the door controls, taking the stormtroopers inside with him.

Luke lets out a breath. “It worked.”

Bodhi’s already jumped behind the control station’s console, fingers flying across it quickly to bring up the right files. “Found him—they processed him here two weeks ago—he was in cell block Dorn until—”

Shit.

His heart sinks. I tried. I’m sorry. “We’re too late.” He pounds a fist against the console, despairing.

Luke’s leaning over the back of the console. “Bodhi, what is it?”

“Wedge is scheduled for termination. They’ve already put him on the hovertrain to the command post.” Bodhi looks up from the console at Luke, horrified. If I’d found out sooner— “They’re kilometers out already.”

Luke smiles, grimly. “Let’s go stop it.”

“How?” He runs it down in his head— the pair of KX-5s, GA-60s double laser cannons, the R-T0—“The shuttle’s not packing anything that can get past a hovertrain’s armor.”

Luke’s face lights up like it had when he’d climbed out of his burning airspeeder, heedless of the flames. “But I am. And you don’t have to hit the train in order to stop it. Come on! There’s still a chance!

Bodhi stares at him, wide-eyed.

(Jyn says, “—and the next, and the next—”)

“Okay. Okay!” He erases his tracks on the console hurriedly and darts after Luke. I can do this.

They run back out onto the landing pad, too exposed in the floodlights, but no one’s looking their way. Bodhi realizes, though, that the second they lift off again, there’ll be questions that can only be answered with a firefight; tries not to think about it, hurrying to get them in the air before the shield goes up again. Luke starting up a scan to find the hovertrain.

“Got it,” Luke says, running off the coordinates. “Go, Bodhi—let’s get ahead of it and take out the track.”

“Copy that,” Bodhi replies, and then they’re soaring up and out, a few belated streaks of emerald turbolaser fire chasing them into the night sky. “I think they know we left.”

“And they didn’t even pay me,” Luke says, feigning annoyance, and Bodhi laughs, dizzy with fear and adrenaline. We’re coming. “Look—I see it—” The hovertrain is a silvery shadow under the stars; Bodhi pushes more power to the engines and rapidly outpaces it, keeping one eye on the scanner to follow the track out in the direction of the command post.

Luke’s looking out at the terrain, checking it against Cadera’s scan and sensors. “Okay. Set down over behind that ridge; they won’t be able to see us, coming around that curve in the canyon. Timing’s gonna be important—don’t want to blow the track too early so they see it coming, but too late and we derail the train entirely—”

“I got it,” Bodhi says, and throws him a brief grin. “Trust in the Force, isn't that right? I’ll get it.” I will.

Luke nods back at him. “Yeah. Oh—I bet I can find him, now.” He closes his eyes, and Bodhi watches his face go still, barely visible in the dark. “Yeah. Wedge is definitely on that train. I’ll go in and get him. You stay with the shuttle, you might have to cover me.” Bodhi flinches, and Luke smiles apologetically at him. “I know, but—”

Luke’s comlink crackles to life, making Bodhi jump.

“Commander Skywalker, this is Rogue Two. You and Bodhi need a hand down there?”

“Your timing couldn’t be better, Zev,” Luke says. “We’re about to blow the hovertrain track, but we could use some cover to get me on the train. You’re off the hook, Bodhi. Ion cannons should take out their weapons and shields, give us a chance to get to Wedge.”

Bodhi, relieved, watches the train snaking up the canyon on the shuttle’s display, hands resting lightly on the controls. Not yet—

“You got it, boss,” Zev calls. “Waiting on your signal.”

Not yet—

“Oh, you’ll know when,” Luke says, grinning. “Keep an eye out for Imperial defenses, they know we’re out here messing around.”

The hovertrain starts to come out of the blind curve.

Now

Bodhi lifts the Cadera up and over the ridge, spraying laser fire indiscriminately down onto the track and at the walls of the canyon, collapsing boulders into the train’s path. There’s some return fire as soon as the train gets around the bend, mostly vaporizing rocks out of the way, but three X-wings drop down out of the sky with a barrage of ion pulses, and the defenses quickly shut down, the train itself decelerating rapidly before it can crash into the obstruction.

Nice shooting, boys. Okay, my turn,” Luke says, clapping Bodhi on the shoulder as he sets the shuttle down again, within shouting distance of the last train car. “If reinforcements do show up—get out of here, let the Rogues take care of them.”

Bodhi’s eyes widen. “I’m not leaving here without you.”

“Hopefully you won't have to,” Luke says, smiling. He unhooks his lightsaber from his belt and heads down the ramp, Bodhi trailing after him. “Shouldn’t be long.” He tosses off a salute in Bodhi’s direction and disappears into the darkness.

Bodhi wishes he’d thought of something encouraging to say, standing on the ramp and watching Luke ignite his lightsaber and slice through the rear hatch. Sparks sputter to life and die on the edges of the cut, and then he pulls the hatch open, jumping up into the train car. A few stray blaster bolts streak out the rear of the train, the only illumination in the night, and then everything goes dark again.

Bodhi holds his breath, praying.

A minute passes in relative silence; something chitters unnervingly out in the canyons, and Bodhi shivers. Kessel’s native lifeforms include—he can’t remember what. Nothing friendly, probably.

Another minute. His hands curl into fists at his side. I won’t leave without him. I have to go in there—but he doesn’t have a weapon—

There’s a flare of light coming back out of the train, and Bodhi’s heart leaps in relief as he can see a second figure by the light of Luke’s glow rod. He runs down the ramp to help Luke get Wedge into the shuttle; their friend is far too thin for having been imprisoned for only two weeks, and there’s yellowing bruises on his face, but he’s alive, he’s alive.

We did it.

“It’s just the two of you?” Wedge asks, disbelievingly, slumping in the jump seat as Bodhi carefully straps him in.

“Us and a handful of Rogue Squadron,” Luke says, pointing skyward, just as there’s a familiar roar of TIEs in atmosphere, followed by the sound of an X-wing spitting laser fire, red and green flashing off the viewport— “Guess the Imperials figured out where we went. Time to go.”

Wedge grabs frantically for Luke’s arm and misses, falling back against his chair. “Luke, we can’t leave.” Bodhi twitches in dismay, hearing his own thoughts on—on Scarif—Corellia—echoed back to him.

“Sure we can. We’re outside the shield.” Luke pats his shoulder gently.

“No,” Bodhi says, his voice trembling as he understands both his foolishness in thinking they could just pull Wedge out and run, and the fullness of what he’s committed them to, because—I can never just leave. “There’s more of our people in there.”

“My cell block’s all Rebels. Don’t know how many more in the whole prison.” Wedge says, wearily. “Luke—they’ll be killed.”

Luke’’s eyes are wide. He glances between them and exhales slowly. “They won’t all fit in the shuttle.”

Bodhi sags in relief. “Were there pilots in with you?”

“Yeah. Good ones.” Wedge’s voice is starting to fade. He’s paler than before, but his eyes are still open, at least, fixed on them; he shakes his head at their worried faces. “I’ll be all right, but you’ll have to do it without me.”

“Okay,” Luke nods, dropping into the co-pilot’s seat and strapping in. “Hold on, Wedge. We’ll get back in past the shield, break our people out—

Bodhi adds, “Steal a transport ship—”

“You make it sound complicated,” Luke says, lightly. “And then we’ll run back home so High Command can write me up for recklessness and insubordination.” He sounds oddly excited at the prospect of it.

“You’d have to have been insubordinate to someone who actually outranked you,” Bodhi points out, bemused at his enthusiasm for the idea. Too much time hanging around Solo, probably—“How are we going to get back through the shield?”

Luke’s eyes light up, but he reaches over and squeezes Bodhi’s hand in preemptive apology. “You’re not going to like this.”

*****

Bodhi hates it.

Fortresses have the hardest defenses to bring down, and the most firepower, and going up against one is almost certain death. His hands are slippery on the Cadera’s controls as he waits, listening to Rogue Squadron calling back and forth. Wedge has his head tilted back against his chair, eyes closed, grimacing at his squadron’s near-misses. Luke is craning up over the console to try to watch out the viewport; it’s still too dark to make out much, but laserfire is far too identifiable.

Rogue Squadron’s taken point, hammering away at the closest fortress to Detention Center Aurek with everything they’ve got, darting out of range of return fire like zess flies. A few more X-wings jump in from hyperspace and immediately drop down to help, chasing TIEs over the darkened landscape, away from where the Cadera is hidden in the canyon.

“Here they come,” Luke murmurs, strapping back in, looking at the three dots converging on the fortress on the shuttle’s display. “Get ready—”

The shield around the detention center drops, and Bodhi soars out of the canyon, wings still up in landing position, and sends the Cadera diving past the fortress, narrowly dodging the stream of particle bolts as someone tries to track the newcomer. Swerves past the trio of AT-ST walkers sent from the detention center to assist the fight; cuts the engines almost a second too late, bringing them skidding to a halt at the edge of the landing pad they’d just left.

Luke whoops in triumph. “Blast, you can really fly—” He collides with Bodhi as they get up at the same time. Bodhi’s gaze drops to Luke’s hand on his chest, and the thought flashes through his head, almost too quickly for words, okay—I don’t mind, not at all—Luke is grinning at him, dropping his hand, squeezing past to help Wedge change seats.

“You’ll be all right by yourself?” Bodhi asks Wedge, unconsciously putting his own hand where Luke’s had been, over his heart.

“If you rebuilt everything to specs,” Wedge says, toggling all the shuttle’s weapons active and looking up at him expectantly.

Better,” Bodhi promises.

“Hmm.” Wedge smiles faintly; it’s a good sign, though Bodhi still doesn’t like how shaky he is.

“We’ll be right back,” Luke says, pressing his blaster into Wedge’s hands, and they exchange a solemn, knowing glance. Bodhi looks away unhappily.

In the walkway, they don’t meet any Imperial defenses immediately; Bodhi figures they must be scrambling to respond to Rogue Squadron’s attack, still and haven’t decided what to do about their shuttle. He taps back into the control station’s console and pulls up a map of the center.

“Cell block Dorn,” Luke reminds him, his fingers skimming along the hilt of his lightsaber.

“I found it,” Bodhi says, his heart pounding, adrenaline flooding the back of his mouth. “Let’s go.”

Luke slaps the door controls; no one’s waiting behind it to ambush them, thankfully, but Bodhi thinks that maybe Luke already knew that. “Stay behind me and tell me where to go.”

“It’s not far.” Bodhi directs him down the right corridors, and into the cell block’s antechamber and halts—the lieutenant from before is there, behind the console, calling out on prison-wide comms for backup—he snatches up a blaster and starts firing. Bodhi ducks back out into the corridor, flattening himself against the wall next to the door, but none of the half a dozen wild shots off make it out past him, because Luke deflects every bolt, lightsaber flashing.

“Don't kill him,” Bodhi says, softly, sidling cautiously into the antechamber. The lieutenant has his hands up, though the blaster’s still in his hand. Luke circles the console, a beautiful menace, lightsaber blade humming. “We can use his access codes—”

The lieutenant aims his blaster at the console and fires two shots into it before Luke can get to him. Then he drops the blaster on the floor, smug. “My access codes are useless.”

Luke tilts his head, exasperated. “Oh, come on, now what are we supposed to do with you?”

“I'm not afraid to die for the Empire,” the lieutenant says, raising his chin. “I'm not like him." He’s looking at Bodhi contemptuously. 

Luke’s eyes glitter with fury. He swings—

—Bodhi shouts “No—”

—and Luke closes down the blade halfway through his arc, bringing the hilt crashing down on the lieutenant’s head. He crumples.

“For fuck’s sake, Luke,” Bodhi snaps, shivering.

“I wouldn’t kill an unarmed man,” Luke says, a little plaintively. “Even though he was trying to kill us.” He ignites his lightsaber again and slashes horizontally through the door to the cells; halfway through his cut the door irises open, and Bodhi looks out onto the open floor of the cell block. There are nine cells with people still in them, and they're magnetically sealed, it's going to take forever—starts to say to Luke, “Can you cut through—”

“Hey!” It's a human woman, pressing up against the magnetic field, heedless of how it crackles and pops at her touch. She doesn’t look nearly as bad off as Wedge, but she’s not well; Bodhi can see it in the sallowness of her face, the stiffness of her hands. “Don't just stand there, get us out!” Then her expression goes horrified—“Behind you—”

Luke spins, lightsaber igniting in his hand once more, and barely manages to block the first bolt of the fusillade; Bodhi’s heart sinks as he sees the detachment of stormtroopers arriving, spreading out into the antechamber and blocking their exit. But Luke simply strides forward to meet them, twirling his lightsaber into a different grip—“Bodhi, hurry,” he calls over his shoulder.

Bodhi bites his lip and hurries over to her cell, pulling Cassian's lockpicks from his jacket pocket. “Okay, okay—”

“You're doing this manually?!”

“Guard shot out the controls,” he replies, ruefully, starting to work the lock panel, willing his hands to stop shaking. Blaster fire flashes off of Luke’s lightsaber blade, throwing sparks and shadows everywhere. “What’s your name?”

“Toryn Farr,” she says. “Used to operate ground communications on Malastere until the Alliance lost it. You're Bodhi Rook, aren't you—what in blazes are you and Luke Skywalker doing here?”

“Isn't it obvious?” A bolt Luke missed sizzles past Bodhi's head. He ducks, and Toryn flinches back from the magnetic field.

“Maybe I should just stay in here until after he’s finished them off?” she offers.

Bodhi doesn't bother to reply to that—“Got it,” he says, triumphantly, and the field snaps off. “Can you help me with the others?” She nods; he hands her another pick and points at the cells across the block.

He turns to see Luke closing with his foes, cutting a swath of destruction through the stormtroopers, dealing death with his blue-white lightsaber—Bodhi claps his hand over his mouth so he won’t cry out at the shock of recognition. The second vision was real—

No time for that—Bodhi runs over to the next cell; it's easier now that he’s done one, and he breaks out a human man who reminds him, fleetingly, of Tonc. “Thanks!” the man says, and dashes across the cell block, sliding past Luke to snatch up a blaster from one of the fallen stormtroopers. He takes up a position behind the console to cover Luke's unprotected flank, and Bodhi is grateful.

He starts in on the third lock, releasing a green-skinned Duros, who grabs a blaster rifle off another dead stormtrooper and yells “Catch!” at Bodhi. He catches it awkwardly with both hands, blinking—“What am I supposed to—” Oh—points it at the lock and pulls the trigger, cringing at the recoil of the rifle and the panel spraying sparks back at his face.

After that, though, it's only a matter of minutes before the rest of the prisoners are freed, and, behind Bodhi, the stormtroopers’ blasters finally fall silent. There’s a clatter of plasteel armor hitting the floor.

For a moment, the only sound left is that of Luke’s humming lightsaber. Bodhi hands the last prisoner—a short, too-pale Mon Calamari woman—off to Toryn, who’s scrounged a proper medkit from somewhere, and comes over to Luke's side. He looks down at the stormtroopers toppled at their feet, their helmeted visages already and always fixed in the rictus of death.

“No wonder Yendor stopped hitting me when you showed up,” Bodhi mutters to him, attempting to sound light, and not stunned by the devastation Luke had unleashed. And then he sucks in an astonished breath as the realization hits him, like a lightning bolt out of the clear blue sky: this man, this incredible man would always have my back, if I let him—

If I want him—

Luke huffs out a long exhalation and closes down his lightsaber. He’s sweating, hands shaking a little as adrenaline from the fight wears off. “Are you all right? I tried to make sure nothing got past me.” He nods his thanks at the human and Duros who had covered him.

“I’m—we’re all okay,” Bodhi says, putting aside his bewildering feelings, looking around at the nine prisoners. “Let’s go get the rest.”

Toryn blinks at him. “Is it just you two?”

“Well, some of the Rogues are here, too, but they're tied up at the moment,” Luke tells her. “Think you’re going to be able to help?”

“Yes, sir,” Toryn snaps out, drawing herself up, and Bodhi recognizes the career soldier in her, the same instinct to serve, to fight, as in Cassian. Then she hesitates. “D’you—d’you know what happened to Antilles? He was in here with us—”

Luke beams at her. “We found him. He’s waiting on our shuttle.”

“Oh, thank the Force,” Toryn breathes. “Damn Imperials beat him pretty badly. Being a Rebel’s one thing, but a defector—you got here just in time.”

Bodhi winces. “You don’t know the half of it.”

“This reunion’s great ‘n all, but we gotta get out of here,” the Duros says. “You said there’s a shuttle?”

“We’ve got to get the rest of the prisoners out,” Luke says. He looks the escapees over, turning back to Toryn. “Officer—”

“Toryn Farr,” she says.

“Can you take whoever’s able with you and Bodhi to get our people? I’m going to go take the shield generator down.”

Bodhi looks at him, alarmed. “By yourself?”

The whole building shakes with the force of an explosion, the lights flickering overhead. Luke shrugs. “Okay, I guess I don’t have to, anymore. Toryn, and you two—you’re with us—the rest of you, get to the landing pad, keep our exit clear.”

Clearing the rest of the detention center goes faster with five; the human—Roja—has no compunctions about wiping out anyone or anything standing in their way, and Bodhi is only too happy to have Toryn helping him at the consoles to unlock the remaining cells. His hands won’t stop shaking, even when Luke notices and pulls him aside for a moment to calm down, murmuring, it’s all right, it’s all right over and over.

Fifty-odd escapees and too many dead stormtroopers to count later, the five of them retreat back to the landing pad, Bodhi trying to scan down a docking manifest to pick out a ship.

“I don’t think you’re going to need that,” Luke says, as they run out onto the landing pad, where their escapees are being escorted onto—

—a Rebel transport ship docked next to Bodhi’s shuttle.

Bodhi’s mouth falls open. Toryn laughs. “Here comes the cavalry,” she says, and swings around, grabbing first Bodhi and then Luke, in a hug. “Thanks. I don’t know how you did it, but thanks.” She breaks into a run, Roja and the Duros going after her.

“Look who came,” Luke says, and Bodhi turns to look towards the Cadera—Cassian, Jyn, and Kaytoo are silhouetted at the end of the ramp.

Oh, they’re going to be pissed—

But Cassian hugs him fiercely, and Jyn says, “Couldn’t very well let you go rogue again all by yourself,” tilting her head and grinning at Bodhi. “And honestly, Bodhi, if you're going to plan a prison break, I'm the one to talk to, not the sweet farm boy who's never even seen the inside of a drunk tank.”

Kaytoo says, sounding put out, “I helped break you out of the Wobani labor camp. Bodhi, the chances of you succeeding without our help—”

“Okay. We’re the ones to talk to about a prison break,” Jyn interrupts him. Cassian is rubbing the bridge of his nose helplessly, shaking his head.

“Hey, I think we did pretty well,” Luke says, gesturing to the escapees going onto the transport. “For a farm boy and—and—a pilot.”

“They’re going to have to give you another medal for this,” Cassian mutters to Bodhi, who blinks, startled. I didn’t—

Then Cassian says, louder, “If you’re up for it, Luke, we’ll head for the command post on General Madine’s signal. He’s got two other assault teams hitting the detention centers right now, we’ll converge once the rest of the prisoners are freed.”

“Great,” Luke says. He peers past them up into the shuttle. “Is Wedge—?”

“He blew the shield generator to pieces so we could land,” Jyn tells him. “We put him on the transport first thing so the med team could check him out.” Her gaze lands on Bodhi, who’s started to sway on his feet as the adrenaline bleeds off— “Are you all right? Should I get someone to check you out?”

“I’m okay, I’m okay,” Bodhi says. “It’s—I—we need to go, right?”

“Yeah,” Jyn says, still eyeing him with concern. “You okay to fly us to the command post in a minute?”

He can’t help but smile at her, delighted at the idea. “Come see what the Cadera can do.”

*****

With the full force of General Madine’s ground troops plus Rogue Squadron, the battle for the command post is over within the hour. Bodhi emerges from the Cadera, where he and Toryn had been monitoring—and jamming—Imperial transmissions, and runs out to meet Chirrut and Baze bringing up the rear of their squadron of ground troops. The wreckage of AT-ST walkers smolders at the outskirts of the post; there are dead stormtroopers everywhere, but to his immense relief, almost no fallen Rebels lie among them.

“It’s done,” Baze says, as they walk up to Bodhi. “Kessel is ours. Not that anyone really wants it, but—” he shrugs. “Maybe I should’ve invested in the spice market. Prices are going to go up.”

Chirrut says, ignoring Baze’s highly illegal speculation, “Jyn said you named your ship Cadera? Like the Catacombs of Cadera where we met?”

Bodhi nods jerkily. He hadn’t quite thought that part through, picking the name, but it makes sense. Where we all met. Where I defected. Where—but there’s no point in dwelling on that last, not when he’s standing here with the people who had saved him. “Yeah. For—for Jedha’s dead.”

Chirrut smiles. “I like that. We are angry spirits—”

“Don’t get poetic,” Baze mutters. “It always ends badly.”

Bodhi turns away from their familiar, fond bickering, as the rest of his friends—and Luke—arrive from different parts of the command post. Jyn’s got a bacta patch on her side where her shirt’s scorched away, and Cassian’s limping, leaning on Kaytoo’s arm, but they’re alive—they’re all alive.

Luke, of course, is utterly fine, if a bit mussed. He’s chattering away to them about something that makes Cassian smile. From the way Jyn is looking at Bodhi, the corners of her eyes crinkling, he suspects the subject is himself, but—for a wonder—he doesn’t mind, not really. Luke breaks off, though, as they approach, and greets Chirrut, “Master Îmwe. Hi, Baze.”

Baze claps Luke on the shoulder, making him stagger, as Chirrut says to Bodhi, reproachfully, “You never call me 老師.

“I—what?” Bodhi stammers. “You never said I had to—” Jyn suppresses a laugh, then winces as that pulls at her injury. Cassian moves to support her, his hands familiar and intimate on her skin; Kaytoo mutters something about just picking them both up and carrying them back to the ship if they’re just going to keep trying to walk it off.

“Ignore him,” Baze says, rolling his eyes.

Luke is being respectful,” Chirrut says, pointedly. “You could learn some things from him.”

Bodhi rubs his face with a hand, looking to Baze for support. But the Guardian just shrugs at him, not unsympathetically. “Since we won, and we’re all here and not dead, can we please go home now?”

Yes,” Cassian says. “I’ll even make it an order, not that any of you ever listen to me.” Jyn kisses him on the cheek, unrepentant.

I listen to you,” Kaytoo says. “And then I ignore your directives if they do not make sense.”

Luke grins at them, turning to go into the Cadera. “Captain Andor, I’m pretty sure I outrank you.” Cassian raises his eyebrows at Luke, and he has the grace to look a little abashed. “Sorry. Are you all flying back with us?” He pushes his hair out of his eyes. “We’ve got room enough.”

Baze says, gazing off at nothing, “我們應該讓他們一起回家.”

Bodhi doesn’t quite pick up all of it, but from what he understood—his face heats. He glares at Baze, as a slow smirk spreads across Chirrut’s face and Jyn tries, again, to keep from laughing. “C’mon, Cassian, Kaytoo, we’ll ride back on the transport too. No rush getting home, Bodhi, it’ll give us a chance to head Draven off.”

Luke is looking back and forth between all of them, puzzled, but he nods a farewell and heads towards the Cadera. Baze gives Bodhi a wave as he leads Chirrut off towards the waiting transport ship, the others following a step behind. And as they walk away, Bodhi hears Kaytoo say, “Oh, I understand now. Cassian, is this what you were trying to explain to me? You could’ve just said—”

“Bodhi?” Luke calls, from the bottom of the ramp.

“Yeah, I’m coming,” Bodhi replies, and goes up into the Cadera after him. He slaps the ramp controls, running a hand through his hair, leaning up against the bulkhead and shaking in disbelief, as the enormity of what they’d done hits him. A prison break and an all-out assault on an Imperial world—one I didn’t have to fight.

“I—we—what in blazes was I thinking—”

“Hey,” Luke says, turning back from the cockpit, touching his arm. “I was right to trust you. They all were. We got Wedge back.” He’s smiling, like always, and Bodhi’s heart starts to beat faster at the way Luke’s looking back at him.

Okay. Okay. I can handle this. I want—

But he can’t bring himself to say it, stammering, “I couldn’t have done any of it without you—”

Luke shakes his head, gazing at Bodhi earnestly. “All it took was you.”

He’s so gloriously bright Bodhi can’t stand it anymore—he closes the distance to Luke in a single step, and kisses him.

Chapter Text

Luke makes a soft, desperate sound against Bodhi’s mouth.

He curls one hand around the back of Bodhi’s neck, up into his hair, to pull Bodhi in harder, like a drowning man dragging his rescuer into the depths. Bodhi surrenders willingly, his heart pounding, tracing Luke’s lower lip with his tongue; he tastes salt—and, he thinks, deliriously, sunlight. He clutches at Luke’s shirt, just above his hip; can’t help but gasp when Luke pushes back, lightsaber jamming up against his thigh.

“Wait,” Luke murmurs, breaking away reluctantly and breathing hard. He doesn’t let go, though, not yet, resting his forehead against Bodhi’s. “We should get off this rock, before—before—”

“Before the Empire sends someone to find out why the place went quiet?” Bodhi offers.

“I was thinking more like, before I shove you up against the bulkhead and kiss you until you can’t—” Luke cuts himself off, the corner of his mouth twitching upwards. “Yeah. Before any more Imperials show up.”

Bodhi releases his grip on Luke’s shirt, unenthusiastically, and smiles a little. “Probably a good idea to head home before our side decides they need to send more people after us, too.” He turns and heads up into the cockpit, abruptly conscious of Luke’s presence at his back in a way he’s never been before. And while they prepare for launch, Bodhi’s hyper-aware that Luke is watching him, lips slightly parted, and he has to really focus to finish the prep.

But then they take off, the Cadera’s wings folded down properly for flight, Bodhi marveling again at the sensation of his ship humming to life around him. They soar over Kessel's empty landscape, the morning light burnishing the surface, finally lending the terrain something like beauty.

It almost looks like Jedha.

Bodhi frowns at that thought, and points them towards the stars. The navicomputer finishes working out the calculations for hyperspace, and Luke pulls back on the lever almost before it finishes beeping the alert. The stars turn to streaks, and then to the swirling vortex, and Luke says, softly, “Where were we?”

Bodhi licks his lips unconsciously, and Luke, his eyes amused, shoves out of his seat, squeezing into the narrow space between Bodhi’s knees and the console.

“You'd tell me if this isn't what you want, right?” Luke asks, resting his hands lightly on the sides of Bodhi’s face and skimming a thumb along the line of his beard.

I kissed you,” Bodhi points out, letting his eyelids slip partway closed. He tilts his head back and gazes up at Luke through his eyelashes. “You're the Jedi. What do you think what I want?” It comes out more of a challenge than he’d intended. His heart is drumming an eager rhythm he hasn't felt for a long time. I want—

Luke pauses, closing his eyes, his face going still like when he’d tried to find Wedge. He stays true to his word, though; Bodhi doesn’t feel anything in his head besides his own hopeful longing for closeness, for certainty. Then Luke smiles, almost mischievously, and leans down to kiss Bodhi, much more thoroughly than he would've expected from—what had Jyn called him? A sweet farm boy.

Bodhi pulls at him, seeking more contact, and Luke shifts, off-balance, putting a knee up on Bodhi’s chair, and one hand on the back of the seat to brace himself. Luke’s nearly in Bodhi’s lap, warm and excitable, and he never stops kissing Bodhi’s mouth, his neck, hand slipping down under his shirt to stroke the line of his collarbone, thumb rubbing into the divot.

Oh, my ever loving stars, what did I get myself into with this man—Luke’s thrown away every last bit of restraint and is clinging to Bodhi like a mynock, tongue in his mouth, hand tangling into his hair. Bodhi slides his own hands up under Luke’s shirt, along his sides, cautiously exploring, and Luke makes a muffled noise of surprise into Bodhi’s mouth, muscles twitching across his stomach. He pulls back, panting, his eyes half-lidded and his mouth gone red, and Bodhi smiles up at him, delighted. “You’re ticklish.”

Luke denies it, lying, “You surprised me, that’s all—” and Bodhi runs his fingers, very lightly, down the line of Luke’s ribs, making him gasp and squirm—oh, yes

“Probably not a good idea to tickle a Jedi—” Luke grabs Bodhi’s hand, looking into his eyes, and Bodhi’s breath catches at the intensity of Luke’s gaze.

“Yeah?” Bodhi gets up out of his chair, catching Luke off-guard and pinning him back against the console, wedging his knee between Luke’s legs. He lowers his head, kissing Luke along the edge of his jawline. “What else isn’t a good idea to do to a Jedi?”

“Making one fall in love with you,” Luke murmurs, utterly sincere, and Bodhi jerks backwards in shock. The backs of his knees hit the edge of his seat and he falls into it, Luke gazing at him in confusion. He brushes the back of his hand over his mouth, shakily. Okay, too much, too fast—

Luke’s eyes are very wide, and very, very blue. “Oh—blast, Bodhi. I didn’t mean to—” He comes around to the side of the chair and kneels, carefully not touching Bodhi again, but putting his hands on the armrest, close.

“It’s all right,” Bodhi manages. “It’s just—me. I got a little overwhelmed.” He tries to smile, make it seem less like he’s afraid. Of what? “You’re—full throttle ahead, and I’m—I’m just starting my engines.”

Luke grimaces apologetically. “I’m sorry. I’ll—I’ll try to slow down.” Luke looks up at Bodhi, his expression hopeful, pleading. “If you’ll try to catch up?”

“Deal,” Bodhi says. Luke smiles, the barest curve of his mouth, and Bodhi hesitates for only a moment, thinking, But what if I can’t? before leaning over his armrest to kiss him again, more gently.

I can try.

*****

And then they’re back at Thila Base.

Bodhi almost doesn’t want to take the Cadera in to dock; he imagines the stern reception waiting for him from the generals, the speculative teasing from his friends.

Luke, seeing his face—or sensing his feelings—reaches over and grabs his hand. “I’ll make sure you have nothing to worry about from the generals, all right? We saved Wedge, and hundreds of other people. Madine was there, he’ll stick up for you.”

But it’s not the generals who are waiting in the hangar. The only person standing at the foot of the ramp, arms folded, glaring daggers at them, is Leia.

Bodhi takes a step back towards the Cadera, quailing. He’s seen her quarrel with Solo, hold her own against generals, and he has absolutely no interest whatsoever in finding out what her anger looks like when it’s directed at him. But Luke has taken ahold of his hand again, and he can’t run from it—

“Whose laser-brained idea was it to go screaming off on an unauthorized rescue mission for someone we all thought was dead and gone, on the basis of the smallest possible scrap of intelligence from an untrustworthy smuggler?”

Bodhi gapes at her. “Your Highness—”

She doesn’t let him get any further than that. “Oh, that’s right. It was yours.” Her eyes narrow at him. “Because that’s how to pull off something that normally requires months of advance recon and planning. Just jump in your ship and fly away with barely a word to anyone else who cares about you. Cassian was beside himself with worry until they got in the air.” Bodhi winces guiltily.

“Leia—” Luke starts.

“And you.” She whirls on him, and Bodhi is a little gratified when Luke actually backs away from her pointing finger, letting go of Bodhi so he can put his hands up in front of himself defensively. “You dragged my name into the whole mess. Do you have any idea what I had to promise in order to get Rieekan to release the rest of Rogue Squadron to come after you? To get Madine to scramble the ground troops?”

Bodhi’s eyes widen. Maybe Madine wouldn’t stick up for me as much as Luke thought. And to have pissed off Rieekan—shit, shit, shit. He’s not going to let me fly—

Luke shakes his head, tries futilely again to interrupt. “Leia—”

“I promised you’d both stay the hell out of anything resembling a mission where you’d have to follow orders. For a month. Because right now, who knows if either of you can be trusted to follow anything except your own fucking instincts.” She stops and takes a deep breath, regaining something like her usual composure, though her eyes still blaze at Luke. “Now, what did you want to say to me?”

“I’m sorry,” Bodhi blurts out, horrified, before Luke can get a word out. “I’m sorry—I had to do it. Wedge would’ve died.”

Leia’s face, when she looks at him, is impossible to read. “I probably should have expected nothing less from you,” she says. “Can’t leave anyone behind, is that right?”

“No, ma’am,” Bodhi says, softly.

“That’s going to get you killed someday,” Leia snaps out.

Leia.” Luke matches the cold fury in her voice.

She relents. “Fine. It was a very brave, if extraordinarily reckless thing you did,” she says, to both of them. “Wedge, and a lot of our people, owe you their lives.” Leia crosses her arms again, raising her eyebrows at Luke. “But don’t you ever drag me into another one of your ridiculous rescue attempts again.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Luke says. “Are you done raking us over the coals?”

Leia huffs a sardonic laugh. “I’m done with you. Draven wants a shot at Bodhi next.”

What?” Bodhi’s voice cracks. “Why?”

“I don’t know what he wants. He wouldn’t say.” Leia smiles tightly. “I told him to go easy on you, or he’d answer to me.”

It’s the barest of assurances. Bodhi licks his dry lips. “Now?”

“I wouldn’t put him off,” Leia says, warningly. “Better to get through the gauntlet quickly, I think.”

“I’ll go with you,” Luke offers, but Leia shakes her head at him. “Just Bodhi. You, Rieekan wants to debrief.”

Luke’s brow furrows. “Leia, this is—”

“What you get for going rogue,” she points out, unapologetically, and Luke subsides.

“It’ll be all right,” he says to Bodhi. “I promise. Whatever Draven does—I’ll find a way to make it right.”

Bodhi can only nod, his heart in his throat, and walks off in the direction of the Intelligence offices. Behind him, he hears Leia starting to ask Luke something about him, but ignores it, trying to think about taking apart a shield generator and putting it back together, not letting himself fall into fear. I already know what Draven’s going to say: I’m not fit for duty. It’ll be over quickly, and then—

He doesn’t know what comes after that.

But Wedge is alive.

I got that right, at least.

Draven is leaning on the edge of his desk in his office, but he’s not alone; Cassian and Jyn are seated in the chairs in front of him. Jyn’s still got a bandage wrapped around her waist, and Cassian is keeping one leg stretched out before him somewhat stiffly, but they’re both freshly scrubbed. And, to Bodhi’s bewilderment, Cassian is even smiling.

He doesn’t have a clue as to what he’s walked into, doesn’t know what to focus on except his friends’ faces. Jyn looks tired, but pleased about something.

“You determined that Antilles was still alive from one line of an intelligence report,” Draven says, by way of greeting, sounding stern but not angry, and Bodhi draws himself up to attention.

“Yes, sir,” Bodhi says, hoping he sounds more confident than he feels.

“And in the course of breaking Antilles and dozens of our people out of Kessel's prison, you broke past Imperial security. Repeatedly.”

“I had Commander Skywalker to help with that,” Bodhi tries to explain.

Draven frowns curiously at him. “I spoke with Toryn Farr. Luke's a good commander, a good soldier, if a bit reckless with his own life, but he wasn't the one doing the slicing.”

“I don't understand, sir,” Bodhi says, hesitantly. “Are you—debriefing me? I don’t report to you—”

Jyn shakes her head, the tiniest of gestures, and she reaches over the back of her chair to pat his hand.

“I was wrong to call you a coward,” Draven says, abruptly. “What you did—don’t get me wrong, it was foolishness itself, on the face of it—but I was wrong about you.” Bodhi blinks at him; it’s as close to an apology as the man can probably get. I really don't understand what’s happening—

Draven stops leaning on his desk and straightens up. “Cassian and Jyn had a long conversation with me before you got back. Rieekan wants to ground you again—” Bodhi can't stop himself from flinching, but Draven continues, “Your friends convinced me there might be something Intelligence might use you for, instead.”

“You and Luke,” Jyn says, and she smiles up at him. “Since Rieekan’s pretty furious with him at the moment, too.” Bodhi wonders just how much of a head start she and Cassian had, in order to plan; how many conversations he’s never been a part of, and feels a rush of guilt, and gratitude, that they’ve spent all this time trying to help him.

Draven says, “You understand the Empire's capabilities inside and out. Their scanning technology, their patterns and maneuvers, how they'll go about looking for us after your little stunt on Kessel.” He folds his arms and looks searchingly at Bodhi. “We need a new base. Some place well hidden from all of that.”

Bodhi is completely at a loss. “Sir—”

“You'd still be able to fly,” Cassian offers.

“I—I’d be working for Intelligence? For you?”

Draven crosses the room to him, and Bodhi is so thrown by the turn of events that he's still not entirely sure the general's not going to take a swing at him, noticing something in the man's closed fist. “For the Rebellion,” Draven corrects him.

Bodhi breathes out. This is my part of the fight. “Yes,” he says. “Thank you. I’ll do it.”

Draven nods, his usually solemn, severe face lighting up with a smile. His hand comes up, and Bodhi catches the glint of metal in it, uncertain. Then he pulls himself up even straighter as Draven pins the rank badge to his flight jacket, gaping at Cassian and Jyn, who are both openly grinning.

“All right, then, Lieutenant,” Draven says, stepping back. “Go find us a new home.”

Chapter Text

“Are you going to come with me?” Bodhi asks, later, curled up on Cassian and Jyn’s bunk, looking at the suggested parameters for the new base on Draven's datapad. He’s been up for at least forty hours now, well past the point of exhaustion, but he doesn't want to go back to his quarters alone—he’s not entirely sure why, but there’s something about the idea of his empty bed that is profoundly unappealing. And he's fallen asleep here now and again, since Chorax, usually waking to find Jyn watching over him and Cassian protectively.

“I don’t see why we couldn’t,” Jyn says, tasting a red-orange sauce off of Cassian’s proffered spoon. They’re making dinner on their tiny camp stove, bumping hips, elbowing past each other in an affectionate little dance. Cassian’s proven to be an astonishingly good cook; his favorite spices are a bit different than the ones Bodhi grew up with, but their sporadic dinners together have been immeasurably better than yet another ration bar. “Hm. Could be hotter, Cass,” Jyn says, and then, to Bodhi, “It’d be like a vacation.”

Cassian raises his eyebrows, wiping the spoon off with a dishtowel before dropping it back into the pot. “A vacation?”

“Depends on the planet, I suppose.” she says, shrugging. “But it’d be nice to get away.”

“The Rebel Alliance doesn’t take vacations,” Cassian points out. “I don’t think you’ve ever gone on a vacation in your life. I certainly haven’t.” He looks over at Bodhi. “Have you?”

Bodhi shakes his head. “Hard to 'get away’ when you’re under Imperial occupation.” He glances down at the datapad, surprised he’s not more distressed at the thought of Jedha, but then, he’s pretty tired. “Nothing on here about scenic beachfronts or mountain views, but I’m sure I could find something that fits the bill.”

“A beachfront that’s not on fire and filled with Imperials trying to kill us sounds quite lovely,” Jyn says. “I could do with some sunshine. Enough crawling around in these catacombs.”

Bodhi pulls up a map of the Outer Rim and sends it to project as a holo off their console. “Plenty of uncharted systems. I bet I could find us a nice world with an ocean or two.”

Cassian’s holding the spoon up to Jyn again, one arm snaking around her uninjured side. “How’s it taste now?”

“Just like you made it last time.” She smiles up at him. “I don’t know why you don’t just have Kaytoo make it. He’d do it very precisely, exactly the same every time.”

“It’s not about precise,” Cassian says, sounding put out. “It’s about heart.” He goes back to stirring.

“Oh, speaking of.” Jyn looks through the holo at Bodhi, that familiar teasing expression on her face again. “I thought, since you’ve spent so much time together already, I’d invite Luke over to join us for dinner tonight.”

Bodhi groans. “Of course you did. Jyn, what if—what if nothing had happened on our way home? What if we’d just sat there in silence the whole time? Did that ever occur to you?”

“Then we’d just be having a nice dinner together with friends,” Jyn says, amused, but Cassian’s staring very keenly at him.

Something happened.” There's the smallest of amused smirks starting to form under his mustache.

“Um—” Bodhi tracks back over his words; can't bluff his way out, not with them looking very knowingly at him. “Ah, shit.” He tucks his feet further up under him on the bunk. “Well, this is plenty awkward.”

“No, no, this is a good thing, right?” Cassian asks. “You're—happy?”

Bodhi licks his lips and smiles, briefly. “As far as it goes, anyway,” he replies.

“Well, it's about damn time,” Jyn says, and flashes a grin. “Was it you who made the first move?”

Bodhi rubs the back of his neck, his face warming. “Yes?”

Ha. Wedge owes me a hundred credits when they let him out of the medcenter.”

Cassian’s shaking his head, “You really shouldn't collect on that, Jyn, the man was in no shape to be betting on anything. His judgement was impaired.” He waves them to the table. “Come eat. Where is Luke, anyway?”

“Being shouted at by Rieekan, I think,” Bodhi says, sliding off the bunk and joining them. “Thanks for this, it smells amazing.”

“Wedge's judgement was fine,” Jyn says, pulling out her comlink. “He shot out that shield generator and kept the transport safe at the command post, didn't he? I think he could've twigged that it had to be Bodhi who—”

The door chimes, and Luke pokes his head in. “Am I too late?”

“Not at all,” Cassian says. “Come in.”

Luke looks as wiped as Bodhi feels, dropping wearily into the empty chair, but it doesn't dim his eyes any. “Sorry, I got held up by Han wanting to know—” His gaze alights on the new insignia on Bodhi’s jacket. “Hey! Rieekan didn't mention that. And from Draven, no less?”

“Yeah,” Bodhi replies. “I—I never expected—well, it was really Cassian and Jyn that talked him into it—”

Cassian sounds remorseful. “It should've happened a long time ago.”

Luke leans over towards Bodhi—hesitates, with a curious glance at Cassian and Jyn. “Oh, go on and kiss him, if he’ll let you,” Jyn says, smirking. “We’ve been in your corner for ages.”

He blushes, and swiftly kisses Bodhi on the cheek. “Congratulations, Lieutenant.”

“Thank you,” Bodhi murmurs, smiling at him, barely aware that Cassian and Jyn are outright grinning again.

“Rieekan told me—after he was done yelling, anyway—what we’re being sent to do,” Luke says, brushing his knee up against Bodhi’s leg under the table. “That what you were looking at?” He nods at the holo map of the Outer Rim.

“I want someplace warm with a beach,” Jyn says, around a mouthful. “Didn't exactly get to enjoy the last one. What about you, Luke? What's your pick?”

“I've had enough of sand to last me a lifetime,” Luke says, ruefully. “Besides, I can't swim.” He looks at Bodhi over his fork. “Wait, can you?”

Bodhi takes a sip of water to cool his burning mouth. “This is really fucking good, Cassian,” he says, first, and Cassian grins at him happily. “Yeah. They made us learn how, at the Academy.”

“Really?”

“Yeah,” Bodhi says, again. “It wasn't just flight training and indoctrination. I mean, it was still a school. I picked up a few skills.” 

“In all likelihood, you got the best education out of the four of us,” Cassian observes, ironic amusement tugging at his mouth.

Jyn snorts. “I guarantee it,” she says. “I got the basics, sure, but my schooling was more about how to hit a guy so he can't get up again.”

Bodhi looks at Cassian. “My teachers on Fest all died,” Cassian says with a resigned shrug. “Didn't much think about it after that, picked up what I could from the Rebellion.”

Luke's fingers are curled tightly around his glass. “Leia mentioned something about establishing schools for refugees,” he says. “It was—over a year ago, I guess, when she was going out looking for Alderaanians. I don't know if she got it through the Council.”

“Ah, fuck the Council,” Jyn says, but without much heat. “They'd have had us surrender, before Scarif, you know? I was there. So was Bodhi.”

“But we changed their minds,” Bodhi points out. “Sort of? Mon Mothma sent troops after us to help.”

Cassian shrugs again. “We always had Mon Mothma. It was losing Alderaan, and Luke destroying the Death Star, that brought the rest of them on board.”

“We’re still gaining a few new systems every month,” Luke offers, ever the optimist. “Even offset by the retreat, we're stronger now than at Yavin.”

“New systems that need our help in a million different ways,” Cassian says, but he's not castigating them, looking instead at the Outer Rim holo. “Which we can't do if we’re discovered.”

“All right, so it's not going to be a vacation,” Jyn says, grudgingly. “I still want to get my feet wet at least once.”

*****

They spend the rest of dinner working out a flight plan that keeps them out of highly trafficked sectors. Luke observes that Solo would know which are favored by smugglers, and that reminds Cassian to go through Karrde's data again, complicating the route. But eventually Bodhi’s satisfied with the path, which doesn't restrict them to too few hyperspace lanes, nor open them up to a higher chance of being found.

“Good night,” Jyn says, kissing Bodhi on the cheek, but holding onto his arm as he’s about to leave, keeping him back.

“Jyn—”

“Just wait,” she mutters. “You can thank me later.”

“We’re both exhausted,” Bodhi whispers back. “Nothing is going to happen.” She still smiles up impishly at him, as Luke says to Cassian, “Thanks for dinner. You know this means you're the cook on our trip out, though, right?”

Cassian grins. “Happy to do it if it means I don't have to see another ration bar for a while. Go on, Commander. We'll talk more in the morning.”

Luke claps Cassian on the shoulder, and joins Bodhi at the door. “Try and get some sleep,” Jyn says, smirking, and Bodhi turns to scowl at her, but the door’s already sliding closed in his face.

I'll just kiss him good night, and—

“I'll walk with you,” Luke offers, more brightly than is altogether fair, given that they've both been awake for more than a day and a half. He falls in step with Bodhi, who shrugs to himself. Yeah, all right. Let's see where this goes. “I forgot to ask, is Kaytoo coming along? If he comes, should I bring Artoo? He was pretty upset I left him behind today—yesterday—whatever—but I think between the two of them, we might go mad.”

“I didn't even think of Artoo,” Bodhi says, aghast. “Or Kaytoo. Patching into the prison’s systems would have been so much easier—”

“You did just as well,” Luke reassures him. “Look what it got you.” He smiles, and then—pauses, blinking. “Oh, here we are.” They're at Bodhi’s door, and Luke, for all his eagerness in the Cadera, goes shy, looking everywhere but at Bodhi’s face.

“If—if you stay,” Bodhi says, hesitantly, “would it be all right if we just—you know, actually slept?”

“Yeah. Yeah, of course,” Luke murmurs, leaning up against the corridor wall, and Bodhi sees the strain in his face again. “I feel like I haven’t slept in a week.” Bodhi unlocks his door, feeling both a little relieved, and confused by it.

Inside, Luke sits next to Bodhi on the edge of his bunk, taking his boots off with a sigh. He puts his lightsaber on the table, with the tools and parts Bodhi hasn’t bothered to clean up over the past couple of months. Bodhi throws his flight jacket over the back of a chair, his own boots already kicked off by the door. He can’t help but smile, as the overhead light glints off of his rank badge, but—“Oh, the lights,” Bodhi says, wearily, not wanting to stand up again, falling back against his pillow. “Can you turn it off with the Force?”

Luke grins down at him. “Normally I’d give it a try, but I can’t really concentrate right now.” Still gazing into Bodhi’s eyes, he picks up a boot and lobs it at the light plate, missing by a dozen centimeters. “Damn.”

Bodhi huffs a laugh at him. “You made a million-to-one shot on the Death Star, but you can’t throw for shit?”

“I still have another boot left,” Luke points out. “And I wasn’t even looking—”

“Go on, then, Luke Skywalker, last-of-the-Jedi,” Bodhi says, rolling over, muffled into the pillow. “Impress me.”

Luke’s eyes are mischievous, and he leans down, coaxing Bodhi’s face up to meet his, and the moment their lips touch, he throws the other boot behind him.

The lights go off.

*****

(—please believe me)

 

[“ —that’s why I have to go—” ]

 

“Bodhi. Bodhi.” Luke’s shaking him gently awake. “Bodhi, you have to—”

“What?” Bodhi blinks muzzily at the chrono. It’s not even close to morning.

Luke is up on one elbow, and trembling—“You were screaming. In your head.”

“I was?” He rubs his eyes. “I don’t—I’m sorry—”

“You don’t remember?” Even in the dark, Bodhi can tell Luke’s frowning at him.

“I don’t remember,” he says. “It’s probably for the best. I can’t imagine my nightmares are anything but—” He shudders. “I woke you?”

“It’s all right,” Luke murmurs. “Go back to sleep.”

But Bodhi can’t relax, lying millimeters away from Luke’s side, staring at the dark ceiling, afraid of what else might be in his head that he didn't know about. And eventually Luke turns over to face him, shadowy, and says, “Okay, if you’re awake I’m awake.”

“Sorry.” Bodhi mutters. “This is a fun test of your proximity to me.”

“I don’t mind the rest of it, let’s be clear,” Luke says, nudging Bodhi’s leg with his own. “But—you didn’t know you were having nightmares?”

“No. I guess I never thought about it.”

Luke hmms. “No one’s mentioned anything to you about what you do when you’re asleep?”

“Cassian and Jyn never said anything,” Bodhi says, hesitantly. “But they probably have their own nightmares.” Luke goes tense beside him. “Oh—I just sleep there sometimes, when I don’t want to be alone.”

Luke’s sneaking a hand over Bodhi’s chest possessively. “Well, you don’t cry out, or really move much. If I hadn’t heard you, I probably wouldn’t have noticed, either.”

“I’m going to keep you awake,” Bodhi murmurs unhappily, though he's finally starting to relax again as the warmth of Luke’s hand seeps into his skin through his shirt.

“We’ll figure something out,” Luke promises. “And anyway, I’d rather be here next to you than—well, Threepio recharges in my room sometimes, and it’s creepy.”

Bodhi snickers into his pillow, sleepily. “Imagine Kaytoo doing it.”

“Now I’m really not going to be able to sleep,” Luke says, and presses his face into Bodhi’s hair, at his neck. “Is that why they moved into Jyn’s quarters?”

“Yeah,” Bodhi says, closing his eyes and putting his own hand on top of Luke’s, to keep it there. “No charging port.”

“I’ll have to remember that for when we evacuate,” Luke mumbles, and then Bodhi doesn’t hear anything else he says, because he’s asleep.

Chapter Text

The problem with uncharted worlds is twofold.

The first, of course, is simply finding them.

Luke gets frustrated after the third day of combing empty sectors and planet-less systems.“I usually feel like I'm going the right way,” he complains.

He’s stretched out across the jump seats, one arm draped across his face. To Bodhi, Luke looks nothing like the last of the Jedi, or the savior of the Rebellion, or even Commander of Rogue Squadron, and a lot more like—an Academy student stressed-out around exam time, with the datapad lying facedown on his chest, forgotten thermos of caf wedged between his hip and the seat.

It makes Bodhi’s heart ache, sort of; not that his own Academy days had been as simple as worrying about exams, of course, not when his home planet was occupied and he was just trying to get by. But there’s something about seeing Luke like this, imagining who he might’ve been in another life, free from the responsibilities of command, and war, and the Jedi; what he might’ve been like on Tatooine as an average boy—

No. Luke’s never been average. He's always wanted more.

Well, he certainly got it. And—he’s not afraid—

Luke goes on, oblivious to Bodhi’s reverie about him, “Out here, though, I haven't felt anything. I don't have the sense that I'm not supposed to be here, or that I am supposed to be here.”

“That must be terrible for you,” Kaytoo says, in the co-pilot’s seat, where he’s plugging in the calculations to take them away from another lonely star, and, oddly, Bodhi thinks he’s actually being sincere. “Living like a regular human.” Bodhi twitches in surprise, just barely, at the echo of his own thoughts.

Kaytoo turns his eyes on Bodhi. “How do you stand not being able to predict the future?”

“I can simulate some of it in my head too, you know, I understand the basics of causality,” Bodhi says, dryly. “But, um, I usually end up focusing on the worst that could happen, so I guess I don't really stand it all that well.” His baffling visions of Luke and destruction float, unbidden, to his mind, and he shivers.

“I don't predict the future,” Luke clarifies, his hand plucking at Bodhi’s elbow, since that’s all he can reach from his recumbent position, in an attempt to reassure him. “The Force usually just feels—like I know I'm doing the right thing. That I'll find where I'm supposed to be.”

“So you don't get lost?” Bodhi asks, as Kaytoo takes them into hyperspace; Luke hardly flinches at the jolt, even though he really should've strapped in properly like Cassian and Jyn are, in the hold, where they're working on something. “You'd always know where you left your speeder?”

“Huh. I hadn't thought about that. I mean, doesn't that seem small, using the Force to remember where I docked?” He's grinning out from under his arm at Bodhi.

“Human memories are unreliable,” Kaytoo offers. “Cassian has forgotten many details of missions that I am—”

“Not supposed to remind me of,” Cassian says, pointedly, walking up and leaning over the back of one of the jump seats. “You always want to specify exactly how much blood I lost, and no one needs that detail except a medical droid.” Bodhi winces, remembering how, after Scarif, Cassian had stayed twice as long as anyone else in the medcenter, even Chirrut.

“What did Draven say, before we jumped?” Luke asks, sitting up partway. “We don't have to take you back for something more important, do we?” Bodhi picks out a funny little hopeful note in his voice. Three days is a long time to spend with five in a shuttle, even if they’re all friends. And Luke’s been increasingly hard-pressed to keep his hands to himself over the last day or so: draping himself over the back of Bodhi’s chair to look at the scanner display; crowding him—carefully, eyes seeking confirmation with every step—up against a cargo container, all warm mouth and roaming hands, while Cassian and Jyn had slept, Kaytoo feigning ignorance up front as they zipped through hyperspace.

Cassian notices the change in Luke’s voice, too, and his dark eyes are crinkling with amusement in Bodhi’s direction as he says, “No, nothing to worry about. You two just keep us flying. We’ll get a chance to stretch our legs soon enough.”

“If we ever find a place to,” Luke mutters, and flops back down again.

*****

The second problem with uncharted worlds—once they’ve finally found one—is that they tend to be that way because they're unlivable, and no one gives a damn about a place where you’d be dead before you even got a chance to claim it.

About to break orbit over the second such hostile planet, Kaytoo observes, “I and the many other droids of the Rebellion would manage just fine here by ourselves, without you organics.”

“Acid rain,” Luke points out, from the back.

“Are you implying droids wouldn't be able to locate or construct even the most rudimentary shelter?”

Bodhi says, “Of course not, but it's got an acidic atmosphere, Kaytoo. Your plating would be gone by the time you hit the ground.”

“More time than you'd last,” Kaytoo says, and makes a disturbing sizzling sound.

*****

“I know you two grew up in the desert, but this is ridiculous,” Cassian says, staring at the barren little moon orbiting a blue-green gas giant. “No. Water is a prerequisite for life. And for a beach.”

Jyn’s eyes light up, and she leans over and plants a kiss on his cheek.

*****

In a low orbit over an abandoned, mountainous planet dotted with fjords, Luke says, tentatively, leaning sideways across the console to look at the scans, very much in Bodhi’s space, “This seems okay—what in blazes is that?” He flings himself back into his chair as the leviathan comes lunging up from the water—“Bodhi, get us out of here!”

He nearly makes the engines scream, he banks away so fast, calling “Sorry!” back at Cassian and Jyn and Kaytoo, who stumble and swear at him. “I think I know why those settlements were empty,” Bodhi says, shaking, laughing with the adrenaline of it, once they’re clear of the atmosphere again. “That was way too many teeth.”

“Here be space dragons,” Luke agrees, and makes a note on the datapad.

*****

A day later—

“Wake up,” Luke murmurs, his breath tickling Bodhi’s ear. Bodhi grumbles and pulls his flight jacket, which he’s been using as a pillow, over his face.

“I just got to sleep,” he protests, when Luke tugs his jacket free and it slithers to the floor.

“Naptime’s over,” Luke says, kissing Bodhi’s forehead. “I hit the jackpot at last. Six planets—okay, two are gas giants, but between ‘em there are twenty-two moons. Lots of places to scout.”

Bodhi yawns and rubs his eyes, swinging his legs down off the seats he’s been sprawled across. “The other four are inhabitable?”

“More or less,” Luke shrugs, straightening back up to his feet. “It’s the Arbran system, we’d be off a couple major trade runs, good places to set up sensor beacons. I want to start on the second planet, it’s got plenty of cover. I think it might be a tricky landing, though, you should handle it. It's your ship.” He smiles down at Bodhi.

“Okay,” Bodhi says, lacing his hands together and stretching, tilting his head back with a sigh—Luke’s instantly distracted, his gaze trailing down the line of Bodhi’s throat, and he puts his hand on the bulkhead, leaning in, waiting for an invitation—

Cassian calls back from the cockpit, impatiently, “I thought we were going to get down there—oh, sorry—”

Luke starts to straighten up again, but the shuttle jerks abruptly, and he staggers and falls into Bodhi’s lap. “Hey!” Luke sputters, and they both look forward to see Jyn at the controls.

“Hurry it up,” she says, with a laugh. “I don’t know how to fly this thing very well.” Kaytoo’s head whips around in her direction, alarmed.

Bodhi’s eyes go wide, too. “Jyn, wait—stop touching that—” He urges Luke out of his arms and dashes forward, standing over Jyn and fidgeting until she gets out of his seat. “If you were trying to help him along—don’t do it with my ship!” he hisses frantically at her. Cassian’s rolling his eyes, but laughing.

She’s grinning. “I had multiple mission objectives.”

Conflicting mission objectives.” Bodhi takes them into a much more graceful approach vector to the second planet. Landing is tricky; the world is densely forested, with only lakes and a few mountains to break the canopy. He folds the Cadera’s wings up and picks a spot just above treeline on one of the mountains, hoping it’s not too steep a walk down into the forest to have a look around.

“No large animals, nice climate—you picked a good one, Luke,” Cassian says, checking over Bodhi’s scans before they set out. “If we can find a way to take advantage of all this natural cover.”

Bodhi gazes skyward in wonder as he comes down off the ramp, rocks crunching underfoot. “I’ve never seen anything like this—some of these trees must be a kilometer or more high.” He reaches out to touch one, the bark crumbling a little under his hand; it smells like pine resin.

“If the whole forest is like this, maybe this isn’t where we should build a base,” Jyn observes, picking her way carefully down the talus slope. “It’d be a shame to have to cut down anything that tall.”

“I wonder why no one’s ever settled here,” Bodhi muses. “It’s a damn sight nicer than most of the planets I’ve ever been to.”

Luke’s face is taut with concentration. “Maybe because something’s not right here.” Bodhi shivers with sudden worry at that tentative pronouncement.

“What do you mean?” Cassian halts and puts a hand on Luke’s arm.

Luke shakes his head slowly, kicking a rock loose and watching it skitter down the mountainside, the disruption starting a small cascade of scree. “I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something about this place—” He looks at them. “This whole planet feels—dark.”

“Like the—” Jyn hesitates for a second and offers, “The dark side of the Force?”

“I don’t know,” Luke says, frowning hard out at nothing. “It’s just a feeling.”

“Well, let’s see if there’s anything else around to warrant recommending against this place,” Cassian says, dubiously.

There isn’t. It’s pretty much perfect. In fact, after walking for another hour, the scanner even registers a huge subterranean cavern that would be ideal for building a base—if they could find a way to get into it.

“Anytime you want to use the Force and point us in the right direction, Luke,” Bodhi says, stopping and sitting down on a fallen log. He takes off his boot, shaking out a couple of twigs that had somehow worked their way in. A small, white-furred, lagomorphic creature with disproportionately large eyes hops up next to him, completely unconcerned about his presence, and starts to groom itself with its front paws. “What the—” He scrambles back up, balancing awkwardly on one foot and trying to get his boot back on. Luke reaches over to stabilize him, amused, watching the creature.

“I hope it doesn’t bite,” Kaytoo mutters, sarcastically, and then the creature takes a flying leap in his direction. He catches it by the scruff of its neck and holds it in the air, curiously. “Did it understand what I said?”

“They don’t seem very smart.” Cassian circles around him. “It’s not scared of you.”

“It should be,” Kaytoo says, bringing his face close to the creature. “Cassian—it is trying to bite my arm.” Luke is smothering a laugh behind his hand, and Jyn’s eyes dance with amusement. Bodhi looks around, feeling like something’s watching them—another pair of ears and a nose are just visible behind a rock a meter or so away.

“Like I said, not very smart. Just put it down, Kay.”

“It’s draining my power supply!” Kaytoo opens his hand, letting go abruptly, and its already huge eyes are even wider as it falls to the ground.

Bodhi gasps, too late, “Shit, Kaytoo, don’t drop it—” but it lands on all four paws, and Bodhi swears it glares up at the droid before scampering off under the log again.

“Well, that was odd,” Jyn says. “Cute, though.” Her smile is bright.

“It was not trying to shut you down.”  

“Let’s see your arm,” Cassian says. “Did it do any real damage?”

Kaytoo goes stiff and doesn’t hold out his arm for Cassian’s inspection. “I retain enough power to return to the Cadera.” He’s terse and formal; Bodhi guesses the real damage is to his ego.

“Yeah, we might as well head back,” Luke says, turning in the direction of the shuttle. “Flora: tall as the sky. Fauna: cute, doesn’t like droids. And there’s a cavern. Somewhere. Let’s call it a night and make camp back at the shuttle.”

“Does the planet still feel off to you?” Bodhi asks, lightly, following on his heels. “Dark, or wrong, or—like little fuzzy rabbits are going to eat your face?” Luke chuckles.

“Very funny,” Kaytoo grouses.

Back at the Cadera, they set up camp in the fading light, Cassian firing up the camp stove and making something that sets Bodhi’s mouth watering. “It's nice not to breathe recycled air, isn't it?” Luke says, lying on his back on his bedroll, gazing up at the stars winking into existence.  Above treeline, they're as bright as Bodhi can remember ever seeing them, planetside; on Jedha the Star Destroyers had blotted out so much of the sky, for so long that he doesn't even really recall the constellations of his childhood.

“Yeah,” Bodhi murmurs. “Hey, you didn't say, earlier, if this place still doesn't feel right to you.”

Luke's mouth twists. “I don't know how to explain it, Bodhi, I wish I could—I don't think this is a good place for the Rebellion. I can feel it in the back of my mind.”

“Do you think we need to leave? I'll go have Kaytoo start the engines—”

Luke smiles at him, pulling a glow rod out of his pack and switching it on. “I'm sure just one night here will be fine.”

In the middle of the night, though, it’s very clear that even one night here is not fine, not at all, because Bodhi wakes to find Luke tossing and turning beside him, sweat matting his hair, his face contorted in pain, or fear. Bodhi sits up, checking his surroundings first. Cassian and Jyn are an indistinct, singular shadow under a tree a few meters away from him, and Kaytoo is pacing a perimeter around the Cadera, the two pinpoints of his eyes their own little binary system.

And Luke is muttering in his sleep; unintelligibly at first, but then Bodhi’s certain he says the name Owen, and then, clearer, anguished, “Aunt Beru—”

He shakes Luke’s shoulder, but he doesn't wake up, voice going blurry again. He twitches in his sleep for the next few minutes, sporadically crying out names—Bodhi recognizes the name of the Jedi Master who'd been killed on the Death Star, some of Red Squadron—oh, fuck, they're all people who died— and last, horribly, Bodhi’s own name, in a tone of desperation and despair, nearly a wail.

“No, no no no,” Bodhi murmurs, brushing his thumb gently across Luke’s eyelids, wiping away the tears on his eyelashes. “Luke, I'm here, I'm alive,” and Luke gasps awake.

“I saw an explosion,” Luke says, panting. “I saw a ship blow up, and I knew you were on it, Bodhi, and—” he gulps, unable to tear his eyes from Bodhi’s face.

“It didn't happen,” Bodhi whispers, taking Luke’s hand and squeezing, hard, trying to be a physical certainty. “Tonc threw the grenade out. We got off Scarif. I'm all right.”

Luke bows his head, running his other hand through his hair and taking a deep breath, steadying. “It wasn’t just a nightmare,” he mutters. “Something's here, making me see these things. I can feel it trying to get at me. It wants me to help it escape. I think it's—it’s fear made real, come to life.”

A chill goes down Bodhi’s spine, and he looks around again nervously, expecting to see—what? Tentacles coalescing from the shadows—

But there's nothing, except the wraith that is Kaytoo, another circuit completed. “Let's go, then,” Bodhi says, softly. “I'll wake the others, and you can get back to sleep while I fly.” Luke nods, wearily, and gets up.

Both Jyn and Cassian snap fully awake within milliseconds, for all that they’re they’re tangled in each other’s limbs. “It’s not the rabbits, is it?” Jyn asks, only half-joking.

“No,” Bodhi tells them, quietly, watching Luke pack up by the light of his glow rod. “Luke says there’s something here trying to get him to let it out. Something malevolent. His bad feeling from before.”

Jyn exchanges glances with Cassian. “Well, he outranks all of us,” Cassian says, with a shrug. “He says we go, we go. Too bad. This seemed like a nice place.”

In the Cadera’s hold, Luke is apologetic, trying to explain as best he can; Bodhi notices, though, that he refrains from mentioning the final part of his nightmare vision, the part where he’d seen Bodhi’s ship explode. Jyn wonders if they shouldn’t investigate further, but Luke’s stricken face stops her cold. “I won’t let it out,” he says. “Not when all it wants is fear and—and death.”

So—that’s Arbra, their most promising planet, scratched off the list.

*****

And finally, on their last day out before returning to base to resupply, in the Sanbra sector, poking around the Golrath system: “This place could work,” Jyn allows, looking at Bodhi’s long-range scan of the highly volcanic planet in front of them. Even from orbit, the place is cracked and angry, blood-orange plumes stabbing at the sky with every second.

“Acid, no, but lava, yes?” Kaytoo asks, dripping sarcasm.

“Free geothermal energy,” Bodhi offers, thinking about the technical possibilities. “We could easily power a big enough force field to protect the base, just off of what one of those volcanoes puts out.”

Luke says, dubiously, “I don't like it. If we were found, all the Imperials would have to do is drop that force field, and the next eruption would take care of us for them, for good.” As if to punctuate his objection, a particularly large volcano erupts, spewing lava and ash so high into the atmosphere that it looks like—

Bodhi cringes away from the viewport, swallowing hard. Oh, no.

“What?” Luke asks, lifting his head and looking at him. Cassian pales visibly, reaching forward to squeeze Bodhi’s shoulder, and Jyn's face is tight.

“Let’s get out of here,” Jyn says, smacking the back of Bodhi’s chair with her fist. “I'll tell Draven we just didn't get lucky with this one.” Her voice is flat.

Luke is blinking at her. “Why does everyone look like they've seen a ghost?”

Kaytoo glances around at the humans. "It looks visually similar to another event we experienced," he explains, after a second to process. "It is like they've seen a ghost. The ghost of Jedha's Holy City."

Bodhi tastes bile at the back of his throat, and he’s lightheaded—he takes the controls, though, silently, and points the Cadera back out of the system, listening to the engines hum and trying not to dwell on the sky of falling—

“Experienced?” Luke’s appalled. “I didn’t realize you were there.”

(Kaytoo, sounding as panicked as a droid could get: “There IS no horizon.”)

Bodhi swallows again, and again, as Cassian says, shortly, “We escaped through it. Jumped to hyperspace right in the middle of the cloud—”

“Excuse me,” Bodhi says, unstrapping from his chair and dashing for their tiny 'fresher in the hold to be sick, gazing at his hollow-eyed reflection in the mirror afterwards. I’m what’s left of Jedha. Me and Chirrut and Baze.

Angry spirits.

I named Cadera for the dead—

He forces that line of thought down; tries to think instead about how good it feels to fly, with Luke at his side, all the worlds he’s gotten to see just in the last week. Breathes slowly, fingers turning his comlink end over end in his pocket.

I'm alive. I'm flying my own ship. I'm alive.

“Bodhi?” It’s Luke, of course, tapping on the door.

He comes back out, looking through the last of their supplies for water. “I’m okay.” Luke’s searching his face. “I am.”

“I’m sorry.” Luke sighs and pushes a hand through his hair.

Bodhi gulps water from the canteen and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. He nods at Luke in acknowledgement, uncertain if there’s really anything else to be said, but—“If we’re both back here—who’s flying this thing?”

“I am,” Kaytoo calls back, miffed. “It’s fine. Take your time, it’s not as if I’m attempting to jump to hyperspace without proper calculations again. I wouldn’t want to damage your precious shuttle.”

Luke’s brow furrows. “I guess one of us should be up there.” Bodhi smiles faintly at him, and goes forward to the cockpit, glancing over his shoulder at Cassian and Jyn as he straps in.

“You’re all right?” Cassian asks. Jyn’s resting her head on Cassian’s shoulder, her eyes suspiciously shiny.

“Yeah,” Bodhi says, and turns to look out at the stars. “We all lost our homes, right? That’s part of what we’re fighting for?”

“If this ends with you saying something like ‘home is where you are,’ I will find a way to be sick, myself,” Kaytoo mutters.

Cassian snorts a soft laugh at that. “Okay, who’s been letting Kaytoo watch romance holos again?”

Bodhi shakes his head. “Home is with the Rebellion.”

Aww,” Jyn says, very gently teasing, and Bodhi reaches back to slap her leg for it, forgetting that she’s much faster than he is—“Okay, okay,” he says, wincing, and Jyn stops twisting his fingers, but doesn’t let his hand drop, continuing to hold it in her smaller one. Bodhi looks over his shoulder at her.

“Would you ever want to go back?” Luke is asking Cassian, quietly, but not soft enough to escape Bodhi’s hearing. “To Fest, I mean. If it wasn’t under Imperial rule.”

“Nothing there for me. Home is—” Cassian replies, just as softly, but passionate, and his gaze fixes on Jyn, like she’s a star pulling him inexorably into orbit.

“You’re not wrong,” Jyn murmurs to Bodhi, unaware of how Cassian’s eyes linger, her other hand twisting the crystal on her necklace in her fingers. “It’s where we’re supposed to be now. All of us,” meaning Chirrut and Baze, too. Bodhi blinks, surprised at her serenity and surety; a smile flickers across her face, and she shrugs. “I trust in the Force that brought us together. That brought him to you.” She inclines her head ever so slightly in Luke’s direction.

Kaytoo says, to no one, exasperated, “I don’t know why I ever agreed to be a fifth wheel on this mission,” and pulls the lever to jump them to hyperspace, and home to Thila Base.

Chapter Text

When they get back, there’s a message for Cassian and Jyn: Talon Karrde wants to meet.

“Again?” Bodhi’s sitting on a cargo container in the Cadera’s hold, doing inventory on their new supplies, when Jyn delivers the news. It makes him nervous, for no reason he can figure. “You just saw him a couple weeks ago. I thought he didn’t like to meet more than once a month?”

Jyn shrugs, folding her arms. “Must be something interesting, I guess. Sorry, Bodhi; looks like it'll just be you and Luke, exploring the great unknown.”

“We’re not going to the Unknown Regions,” Bodhi says offhandedly, and then registers that she’s smirking at him a little, and opening her mouth again—“If you’re going to make a pun about exploring anyone’s unknown regions, you can leave off, I got it, thanks.”

“Think about it, though. You and Luke, alone, spending every moment together, nothing to do but watch the stars go by—”

“Looking at the sensors and trying to find a safe place for the Rebellion to hole up,” Bodhi corrects her. “Making sure no Imperial ships are following us.”

“Sure, okay,” Jyn says, unconvinced. “If that’s your idea of a romantic getaway. I’m still hoping for that beach, personally.”

“I’ll try to find one for you,” Bodhi promises loyally. “Where’s Karrde want to meet? We could take you out there.”

“Gonmore,” Jyn says, and when Bodhi shakes his head, adds, “Yeah, I never heard of it, either. Probably not worth making you divert just to take us there. But thanks.” She kisses him on the cheek, and heads down the ramp, pausing and turning back to say, “Have a good time with Luke!”

Bodhi swallows, considering it, hunching over, elbows resting on his knees. Spending every moment together means—flying, talking about flying, seeing a dozen new worlds side-by-side, exploring sights and terrains he’d never have dreamed of, back on Jedha. The possibilities of the rest of it make him dizzy with want, and with fear. But—Luke would never do anything to hurt me—

“What are you sitting there staring into space for?”

Bodhi looks up at the sound of Baze’s voice; he and Chirrut are standing at the top of the ramp. Baze gestures to the plasteel container he’s just dragged up behind them. “Come move this where you want to put it.”  

“Um—” Bodhi blinks at them. “What are you doing here?”

“Surprise,” Chirrut says. “We’re coming with you. Baze, does he look surprised?”

Bodhi attempts to school his face into something resembling surprise and not outright dismay. Baze raises his eyebrows. “Yes.”

“Aren't you with Madine's special forces now? The Pathfinders?”

“We are not commissioned officers.” Baze shrugs. “We go where we want.”

“You want to go with me. And—and Luke,” Bodhi says, skeptically. Chirrut’s tilting his head and smiling.

“Yes. Come take this into the hold,” Baze directs him, again, and Bodhi recoils as he recognizes the plasteel container—

“Why do you think we'll need explosives for a scouting trip?”

Baze furrows his brow. “Why wouldn’t we need explosives?”

“Because—” Bodhi actually doesn't have an answer for that. “If we run into turbulence, that's not going to blow us up jostling around, right?”

“Never has before,” Baze replies, amiably. “Are you all ready to go, now?”

“Just waiting for—” Bodhi sees Luke jogging across the hangar towards them. He waves, and turns to help Baze secure the container in the Cadera's hold.

“Master Îmwe, this is a surprise,” Luke says, as he comes up the ramp. “I didn't expect to see you before we left again.”

“You will be seeing quite a lot of me for the next several days,” Chirrut tells him, grinning.

“You’re coming?” Luke tries to mask his disappointment and fails, as usual. Baze glances from him to Bodhi, increasingly entertained by their reactions. “Don’t you have more important things to do?”

“You’ve been gone a lot lately,” Chirrut says. “We should catch up on your training.”

“Oh, right.” Luke scrubs a hand through his hair, and flashes a smile at Baze. “Um, welcome aboard, then!” Baze nods and heads on up to the cockpit, Chirrut—very comfortable with the layout of the ship, Bodhi notices, not using his stick to guide him at all—following after. “I saw Cassian, he told me they're not coming, so—”

“We can head out again,” Bodhi says, nodding. “Unless you wanted to trade Kay for Artoo?”

Luke shakes his head. “Leia's commandeered him again for something. It's all right, we'd have had to take Threepio, too, and he doesn't much care for space travel.” He lowers his voice. “I know they're important to you—they’re important to me, too, but—is there any way we can ditch the Guardians, now that Cassian and Jyn aren't coming?” His eyes are hopeful.

“I don't think so,” Bodhi mutters, turning and looking at them sitting up in the cockpit. Baze has stowed his repeater cannon within easy reach, meaning it's taking up an entire seat all to itself. “Once one of them gets an idea in their head, there’s really no stopping them—they ended up with Rogue One just because Chirrut felt like defending Jyn from a squadron of stormtroopers.”

Unless the Force had something to do with it?

“So I'd heard,” Luke says. “Okay. Well, I guess it won't hurt to get in some more training with him while we're out and about.”

*****

From the looks of it, though, it actually seems to hurt kind of a lot.

Once they're in hyperspace, Bodhi straddles a jump seat backwards and watches, curious, as Chirrut makes Luke practice form after form with a stick instead of his lightsaber, in the cleared-out space in the hold. And when he's finally satisfied that Luke hasn't forgotten anything, Chirrut promptly, and without warning—at least to Bodhi’s eyes, Luke gets his guard up fast—launches an attack, jabbing at Luke relatively lightly with his staff, but not holding back in terms of speed. Luke defends himself the best he can, Baze swiveling back and forth in his seat and offering commentary on his footwork,

“This is what you've been doing with him?” Bodhi asks. “Even though you're not Jedi?”

“Luke asked,” Baze says. “Said his Master Kenobi showed him a few things, but that it would be an honor to learn from—what did he call us? Something flattering.” Bodhi can’t tear his eyes away from Luke, how the wiry line of him uncoils into grace as Chirrut forces him into the flow of the fight.

“Of course Chirrut said yes,” Baze continues, and there's a hint of gruff humor in his voice. “He always did love teaching the novices at the Temple, until they got good enough to best him.” His voice gets louder on the last handful of words, deliberately needling his husband.

This novice hasn't bested me yet,” Chirrut calls, pressing his attack once more; the Guardian’s barely broken a sweat, even in his usual long robes, but Luke's already panting, hair plastering to his forehead. He glances in Bodhi’s direction, and parries a couple of Chirrut’s strikes successfully—

—leaps backwards up onto a cargo container, jumping to avoid Chirrut sweeping his stick at his legs, and does a tight flip off of it, over Chirrut's head, barely clearing the ceiling—

—lands, overbalancing and falling to one knee in front of Bodhi, eyes sparkling, laughing at his unexpected success, beautiful

—and Chirrut immediately smacks him to the floor from behind. Bodhi flinches back into his chair; Luke grunts in surprise more than pain, and rolls onto his back, fending off another blow.

“Stop showing off for him and pay attention,” Chirrut orders, and Baze barks a loud laugh, startling Bodhi.

You're one to talk about showing off. He would do the most ridiculous things to get me to look at him,” Baze says, to Bodhi. “Walking on his hands over the rooftops of NiJedha—”

“I did that once.” Chirrut shakes his head, and prods Baze unerringly in the shoulder with the end of his stick, calling a halt to his sparring with Luke, who exhales and flops down on his back, at Bodhi’s feet, chest heaving. Bodhi swallows, his heart starting to race, looking down at Luke’s parted lips, the way his black shirt sticks to him, the muscled lines of his arms—Luke’s eyes darken, and he grins, absolutely delighted, and Bodhi remembers, belatedly, that Luke can sense his feelings—

Baze is saying, “Picking fights with bullies twice his size—”

“Hmm. That does sound like me,” Chirrut concedes, leaning on his stick. “Although I wouldn't call that showing off. More like—”

“A good start to the day?” Baze says, dryly.

Chirrut smiles. “Have I said that before? All right, enough rest, we go again.” He pokes Luke in the side with the end of his staff. “And no fancy moves.”

“I'm taking advantage of the terrain,” Luke protests, pushing himself up from the floor.

“Oh, you should watch out for that container,” Baze remarks casually, nodding to the one Luke had flipped off of a moment ago. “It has explosives in it.”

Luke's eyes go very wide. “Good to know!” And then he lunges at Chirrut, who dodges easily away in a swirl of his robes, with a laugh.

“Has Luke ever—” Bodhi asks, as Chirrut ducks under a wild swing. “Um—landed a hit on Chirrut?”

Baze chuckles. “No.”

“Has—has he ever beaten you?”

Baze narrows his eyes at Bodhi. “I don't fight like that anymore.”

“Oh,” Bodhi says. “Wh—” The navicomputer beeps that they're coming up on the jump back to normal space, and he gets up to go back to the pilot's seat. “Chirrut, Luke, we're almost there,” he calls over his shoulder. The clatter of their sparring breaks off, and Luke joins him up front, dropping into the co-pilot's chair, pulling his shirt off over his head, and suddenly Bodhi understands at least one reason why Jyn’s been so interested in finding a nice warm beach somewhere. Yeah, I wouldn’t mind that, at all.

Luke’s newly exposed skin is pale, of course; no one who lives on a desert planet under two suns willingly goes out uncovered for long. Bodhi winces at the sight of the bruises already blooming blue and purple along Luke’s ribs from where Chirrut had gotten past his defenses, but Luke doesn’t seem to be bothered by them at all. He wipes his face off with his shirt and tosses his hair back, like he’s in some damn holo—“Remind me where we’re headed first?”

Bodhi stammers, blinking at him, “Amal—Amaltanna,” and yanks the hyperdrive lever back harder than absolutely necessary, thinking, Dammit, we should’ve gotten rid of Chirrut and Baze!

*****

Amaltanna’s system has three suns.

“How would anyone get to sleep, here?” Baze wonders aloud, leaning on the back of Bodhi’s chair and looking out the viewport, as Bodhi settles the Cadera into a low orbit around the rocky world, and starts scanning.

“It’s all the same, to me,” Chirrut points out, amused.

“Hey, look at that—” Luke leans over Bodhi’s arm, and even through his sleeve, Bodhi can feel the heat of his bare skin. There’s a large rectangular structure on the display, standing out against the chaos of jagged rock formations that cover the planet’s surface.

“Scanners aren’t picking up any lifesigns,” Bodhi says.

“There is a fortress,” Baze tells Chirrut, reading off the screen over Bodhi’s other shoulder. “Made out of durasteel. Clone Wars-era.”

Luke rests a hand on Bodhi’s shoulder. “What do you think? Want to have a closer look?”

“If I can find someplace to set down without scratching the paint,” Bodhi says, wryly, and takes them down to the surface. As he skims over the landscape, sunlight glints off of metal—“Did you see that?”

“There’s old ships down there!” Luke exclaims. “Ships, and—oh—”

“What? What is it?” Bodhi’s focused on landing on the flattest patch of ground, tucking the Cadera’s wings up carefully.

Baze grunts. “Separatist droids.”

What? ” Bodhi reaches back for the controls, ready to launch again, but Luke shakes his head. “Nothing’s alive down here,” he says. “Hasn’t been anything alive here for two decades, maybe more. It looks like quite the battlefield.”

Bodhi looks out the viewport, and, if anything, Luke’s understating the matter. The remains of multiple types of battle droids are scattered across the craggy landscape; from his history classes, he recognizes the cylindrical heads of IG lancers, and more commonly, the broken bodies of B1s, and tanks, and—

His eyes go wide. “No one came for their bodies?”

“It was a total loss on both sides,” Baze says to Chirrut. “There are clone troopers’ remains everywhere.” Bodhi realizes there’s no weather to speak of, no wind to erode away at the metal and plasteel; wonders if the clone troopers would look as if they’d just fallen, if he were to take off their helmets. It’s deeply unsettling.

“I don’t like this,” Bodhi says to Luke, who’s putting on a fresh shirt from his pack. “It doesn’t feel right, taking over the site of a massacre.”

Luke nods slowly, raking a hand uselessly through his hair. “I know. But—we should still see what’s inside the fortress. See if there’s anything to salvage.”

“It’s built out of durasteel,” Baze points out, again. “This is why you need explosives on your scouting trip.” He’s not particularly jovial about it, though.

They pick their way slowly through the jagged rocks, Baze moving bodies and debris out of Chirrut’s path. The clone troopers’ bodies barely seem to have any weight to them, and Bodhi has to stop looking at them, or he’ll be sick. He’s seen the face behind those helmets a thousand times in the holos; the heroes of the Republic, betrayers of the Jedi.

Luke hesitates once, staring up at a gunship impaled on a stone spire, the viewport smashed in and a clone trooper’s armor hanging out at a precarious angle. “This is awful,” Bodhi murmurs, rubbing at his face, trying to steady his breathing. “This—this is like—”

Luke snaps his gaze over to him, concerned. “Bodhi, you could wait in the ship, you don't have to come.”

“I’m all right, I think,” Bodhi says, averting his eyes from the bodies again, forcing himself not to think of the troops—on both sides—dropping around him on the landing pad on Scarif. Baze is turning back to look at him; he and Chirrut are meters ahead already, looking oddly small against the massif of the fortress. “Keep going. I'm okay. I'll—I’ll yell if I need something.”

“No, you won't,” Luke says, bluntly, but not unkindly. “Okay. Stay—stay close.”

The entrance gate is open, but not at all inviting; Bodhi half-expects it to clang closed behind them, trapping them in the darkness, but it doesn’t, which is almost more ominous in its own way. By the light of Luke's glow rod, there are dead clone troopers strewn about the main corridor, their armor more clearly marked by blaster fire, but fewer broken battle droids.

“Watch out,” Baze snaps, holding Luke back when he'd have started down the corridor, and points up at the blasters mounted at points along the ceiling.

“Automatic?” Luke wonders, and Baze shrugs and simply blows them apart with a flurry of shots.

“I hope this place really is empty, or you just alerted a fortress full of droids to our presence,” Bodhi says, hanging back nervously, but nothing moves from the shadows. “It’s a fucking mausoleum,” he mutters, but there are fewer and fewer dead as they go deeper into the structure, and then—

“Huh,” Baze grunts, looking across the chasm. The bridge is in sections, and the middle is missing.

“Did it retract?” Luke asks, looking around for a control panel, and something scuttles down the wall on the other side of the bridge.

Chirrut nudges Bodhi back with one arm, putting his staff up defensively. Luke's got his blaster in his hand, shining the glow rod as far out as he can, and then a trio of spider droids swoop down out of the darkness, pincers opening and closing, trying to make a grab for him and Baze. “Oh, is that all?” Chirrut says, tilting his head to listen. Luke ducks and shoots two of them out of the air, and Baze tags the third clean through the middle, destroying it completely.

“That wasn't so bad,” Luke says, turning to smile back at Bodhi, and then another pair of spider droids fly up from the chasm and latch onto his arm and leg, twisting and dragging him over the side of the bridge, Luke’s blaster firing as he falls—

Luke!” Bodhi shouts, panicking, shoving at Chirrut, but the Guardian plants a firm hand on his chest, pushing him back. “Stay here,” Chirrut orders, and goes forward to the edge of the bridge, where Baze is looking down into the darkness, taking out a glow rod from his belt pouch. Bodhi clenches his useless hands at his sides, mind reeling against the absurdity of it all, the notion of losing Luke to gravity, and a couple of twenty-year-old droids—

There's a blue-white flash of light from somewhere down in the chasm, and a string of curses floats up to him. Bodhi slumps against the wall in relief. 

“I'm going to climb back up,” Luke shouts, sounding irritated.

“Are there more of those droids?” Baze calls to him.

“No, I think I took care of all of them,” Luke calls back, and Bodhi can hear the strain in his voice. He goes to look, hesitatingly; Luke's stabbing his lightsaber into the wall of the chasm for purchase to climb, his expression more annoyed than anything else.

Baze crouches down and grabs Luke's arm, when he's near enough, and hauls him up onto the bridge. He kneels there for a moment, catching his breath, and Bodhi gapes at him, speechless.

“Well, that could've gone better,” Luke says, mildly put out. “I dropped my blaster down there somewhere.” Baze snorts a laugh and pats him on the shoulder.

“Blast, you scared me,” Bodhi snaps, angrily, and Luke reaches up to him, grabbing his shaking hands.

“Hey, hey,” Luke murmurs, getting to his feet, and the way he's gazing at Bodhi, it's as if the Guardians aren't even here. “I'm fine. Not a scratch on me.”

“You should check to be sure,” Chirrut says to Bodhi, as if Luke hadn't just narrowly escaped falling to his death.

Luke blushes, and ducks his head, asking, “Did you find any bridge controls?”

“Controls? What is wrong with you?” Bodhi yells, astonished at his nonchalance. “You almost died!”

Luke blinks at him. “I'm fine,” he repeats. Baze hmms softly, and pulls Chirrut back into the corridor, leaving Bodhi and Luke standing in the shadows at the end of the bridge.

“Is this—do you do this kind of completely ridiculous shit all the time?” Bodhi demands. “You—you crashed your speeder, you cut open an armored hovertrain all by yourself, you just fell—” he glances over the side—”ten meters and climbed back up with your lightsaber— is—is this—” Bodhi gulps, and tries again, despairing, breathless at how much it hurts to think about—“Is this how I'm going to lose you?”

Luke’s reaching for him again. “No, oh no—Bodhi—”

“Because if that’s—I don't know how anyone could’ve stood it,” Bodhi says, dizzy, his heart pounding. “Being—being with a Jedi—”

“I’m not going anywhere.” Luke squeezes his arm tightly. “I promise.”

“Whenever you’re done,” Chirrut says, from the corridor, tapping the end of his staff against the floor impatiently.

“Okay?” Luke asks, and Bodhi nods, a little reassured, but wondering, again, what did I get myself into?

“Do you want to try to get across?” Baze asks, coming up next to them again. “I saw bridge controls on the other side.”

“I could probably jump it,” Luke says, hesitantly, looking at Bodhi with apology in his eyes. “With—with the Force.”

Baze touches his arm, and pulls a line of fibercord and a grappling hook out of his pack. “More practical.”

Luke laughs, inexplicably. “This brings back memories. Couldn’t you have pulled me up with that?” Baze shrugs, and starts to help him get set up; Bodhi goes back into the corridor, shaking his head.

Chirrut turns his face in Bodhi’s direction. “We all take risks,” he says, quietly. “You’ve risked your own life before.”

“Not like he does,” Bodhi mutters back. “Not like there’s nothing to lose. I—I know what the consequences are.” There’s a familiar sound of repulsorlifts behind him; he turns to see the missing section of the bridge slowly rising back into place, Luke on the far side, looking surprised.

“You think Luke doesn’t know?” Chirrut asks. “You think anyone in this war doesn’t know what the cost might be?”

Bodhi pauses. Luke’s nightmare list of the dead; when they’d thought Wedge was lost—“No. You’re right, of course he knows. He’s doing what he thinks is right—”

“Just like you,” Chirrut says.

“Except—” Bodhi starts, but Luke calls, “Are you coming?” and Chirrut pushes off the wall, patting Bodhi on the arm, knowingly.

Except Luke’s not afraid.

Across the bridge, and down a winding maze of corridors, they wind up in a long-dead communications center. Bodhi runs his hand over the console, looking up at a shattered viewscreen on the wall. Luke crouches to examine a B2 droid that’s been sliced in half. “There was a Jedi here,” he says, excitedly. “No blaster could do this.” He glances at Chirrut. “Did you know? Is that why you wanted to come?”

Chirrut shakes his head. “I had no idea what we would find.” His expression is grave. “I hope we won't find their body.” Luke’s face goes solemn at that, too.

Further in, at what Bodhi judges must be the center of the fortress, there are a dozen dead clone troopers and pieces of another twenty or so battle droids, all lying before a huge, impregnable door. “Do—do we want to know what’s inside?” Bodhi asks, turning his gaze away from the fallen and examining the control panel, which bears the unmistakeable signature gash of a lightsaber. “Whoever did this—they locked something in.”

Baze stops pulling detonators from his pack and looks up at Luke. “We’ve come all this way,” he says.

“Chirrut?” Luke asks.

The Guardian shrugs. “You are the one who led us here. What does the Force tell you about what to do now?”

Luke stares up at the door. “I don’t know. It doesn’t feel like Arbra. If there was evil here, it’s long gone.” He looks back at Bodhi. “They all died for something,” he says. “Don’t you want to know what it was?”

Bodhi bites his lip, running his fingers over the destroyed control panel, thinking about Tonc’s face when he’d been hit, falling dead out of the shuttle onto the sand. “Okay,” he says, softly. “But—if there’s some nasty fucking monster in there, you’re on your own.” He musters up a smile. Luke grins back, but Bodhi doesn’t miss the way his hand drops to his lightsaber hilt before he turns and starts helping Baze with the explosives.

Baze’s approach to blowing things up, of course, is that there’s no kill like overkill. The explosion shakes the whole fortress, and Bodhi’s ears ring even where they’re taking cover all the way back in the communications center. Chirrut swears, and says, “I would prefer not to be both blind and deaf,” to his husband, and Baze merely pats him on the arm.

There’s only one body in the formerly sealed room, slumped over a console with viewscreens all around it; it’s not humanoid, with segmented legs and and too many eyes. Baze is describing its green carapace to Chirrut, noting the Separatist uniform and the trio of medals pinned to its chest. “It starved to death in here,” Bodhi mutters, disturbed.

“I don’t think so,” Luke says. “The Jedi must’ve shorted out the chamber’s life support.” He moves the chair, slightly, to look at the console, and the desiccated body tips over sideways.  Bodhi leaps back as it falls out of the chair and shatters inside its uniform when it hits the floor. Green fragments of exoskeleton scatter out of the sleeves.

Luke grimaces. “Sorry,” he says, registering Bodhi’s horrified expression. “I mean, it was dead already—”

“Get the medals,” Baze says. “We can find out who it was.”

Bodhi holds his hands up. “I’m not touching that.”

Luke stoops and removes the medals, handing them to Baze, who tucks them away in his pack and starts to circle the room, commenting on the firing controls and the other defensive systems to Chirrut. Luke flips a couple of switches on the console, looking down at the viewscreens. Bodhi can guess what he’s thinking—what would the Jedi have been like? Did they know Luke’s father?

“Well, that’s that, I guess,” Luke says, after a minute. “Hey, if we moved here, can you imagine Draven taking over this as his office?”

Bodhi, appalled, can’t help but laugh. “Yeah.”

*****

Chirrut doesn’t make Luke fight him again once they’re offworld, and he doesn’t come up front to the cockpit, either, strapped in alone in the hold, murmuring his prayer.

“Is Chirrut all right?” Bodhi asks, frowning at Baze.

Baze gives him a half-shrug. “There was much death on this planet, even if it was years ago,” he explains, and Bodhi sighs, thinking of Chirrut’s collapse after Alderaan. Luke’s face falls, and he gets back out of his seat and goes back to the hold, kneeling in front of Chirrut.

“He’s a good man,” Baze says to Bodhi, as the Cadera flies through hyperspace. “You should hold on to him for as long as you can.”

Bodhi jerks around. Baze’s eyes are dark, and a little sad, and Bodhi remembers hearing that the Guardian had been devout, once, more devout than Chirrut. “You know something,” he whispers hoarsely, afraid.

Baze nods, just barely. “Only that you will have to be parted, someday. I don’t know when, or why. The little knowledge the Force grants me has never been clear.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Bodhi manages, around a sudden lump in his throat.

“Because I wasted years away from Chirrut,” Baze says, more calmly than Bodhi would’ve been able to. “When I should have been at his side. The Force has given you a chance, but it may be gone sooner than you think.” He leans back in his chair, as Chirrut comes forward to the cockpit; Luke is still back in the hold, sitting in a familiar meditative pose, eyes closed, looking serene.

Chirrut drops into the seat next to Baze. “我告訴你不要跟他講呢個事情.”

“我只想幫助他們,” Baze mutters.

“I swear, you all have a very warped idea of what it means to help,” Bodhi says, flustered and a little annoyed. “First Jyn practically crashes my ship, and now you’re telling me I’m, what, running out of time?” Then the horrible realization strikes him— “Are you telling me one of us is going to die?

“That is one type of parting,” Chirrut says, unhelpfully. “Or you might just break up for a while.”

“You see? He is still mad about it,” Baze tells Bodhi, rolling his eyes.

“I’m not mad,” Chirrut says. “All is as the Force wills it.” He nods in Bodhi’s general direction. “But sometimes we can help things along. Go meditate with him.”

“And by meditate you mean—” Bodhi says, sarcastically.

“Well. If one thing leads to another, who are we to judge?” Chirrut grins. “Go on, Baze will tell you if something is happening with your ship.” Baze’s smirking at him under his beard.

“Okay, okay—please don’t touch anything.” Bodhi gets up, distracted, trying to remember something Hobbie had said, months ago.

It’ll be a surprise if we all make it to the end.

He shudders, but tamps down his dread, sitting cross-legged next to Luke. Luke opens his eyes. “Please tell me Chirrut isn’t flying the ship,” he teases.

“Nope,” Bodhi replies. “Still in hyperspace. They—” he rubs the back of his neck self-consciously. “They sent me back here to meditate. Um. With you.”

“Oh,” Luke says, smiling, unfolding from his pose and leaning back on his elbows. “Do you think they have an ulterior motive?”

“Pretty sure of it.” Bodhi looks down at him, and, in a flash of an emotion he can’t name, asks, quickly, “Can you promise me something?”

Luke blinks. “Sure, I mean, anything you want, Bodhi, you know you just have to ask—is this about before? I know I’m reckless—” He pushes his hair back out of his eyes, looking very young again.

“If—if you ever have to leave again, for whatever reason—like Jedi stuff, like you did before, I guess—” Bodhi puts his knees up and rests his arms on them, gazing at Luke.

He sits bolt upright, eyes going huge and bright in his face. “Stars. Bodhi. I will always come back to you.”

Bodhi exhales shakily. It’s almost too much to keep looking at him. “Okay.” Luke is uncertain, but reaches over and puts his arms around him, burying his face in the crook of Bodhi's shoulder, murmuring reassurances. Bodhi glances towards the Guardians; Baze is turned slightly in their direction, but his head is bowed.

*****

The next sector is a wash, as is the next, and—the next. With only Bodhi and Luke to fly, without Kaytoo, they have to spell each other in the pilot’s seat the second day, catching up on sleep in hyperspace for a few hours before jumping back into normal space, Bodhi disappointed that he can’t fall asleep next to Luke, or—do much of anything else, really. But they’re both awake, coming into the Dominus system, their target a pretty blue-haloed world with one small moon.

“This one might have that beach Jyn wanted,” Luke says, lightly, watching the oceans grow larger as Bodhi settles the Cadera into orbit. “Looks nice, except for those storms coming up. Anybody home?”

“No,” Bodhi says, looking at the scanners, and then the proximity alarm goes off, because—

—there is an Imperial Star Destroyer bearing down on them, and a squadron of TIE Interceptors already deploying in their direction—

Shit, shit!” Bodhi hauls on the controls, trying to bring them about and make a run for it, but compared to the TIEs, the Cadera is a lumbering beast— “We're not going to be able to outrun them, Luke, we can't take on all of them in a fight.”

Luke’s nodding, already taking firing controls for the KX-5s and snapping out orders to Baze to get in the gunner position on the other cannons. “I know. We'll do what we can to keep 'em off—”

“What do you want to do about that Star Destroyer?” Bodhi flinches as the first Interceptor takes a run at them— “Dammit, those are concussion missiles—” The Cadera shakes, but the shields hold. For now.

“You can outrun that, can't you?” Chirrut asks. He’s calm as ever, putting a hand on his husband’s shoulder to feel when they're firing back.

“Not their tractor beam, I can't, not if these fucking TIEs pin me—Luke, watch it— ” Bodhi pushes the engines hard, throwing them into a spiral.  

Luke squeezes off a good ten shots at the incoming fighters, taking out two; Bodhi cringes at the soundless fiery bursts of the ion engines going nova as their trajectories carry them past. “I don't like these odds—” Luke turns his head to look at Dominus III’s blue-haloed glow. “D’you think we could lose 'em on the surface?”

Baze says, “More cover than out here,” and sprays laser fire at the TIEs coming back around for another pass. “The storms?”

“Yeah, yeah, okay, I can lose 'em in a storm, I can get us through and come out—come out somewhere else, out of range of that Star Destroyer.” Bodhi glances at Luke for affirmation.

“I trust you,” Luke says. “Go, go.” Bodhi breaks off their futile chase of deep space, and dives for the planet, hoping against hope that their shields will hold; that the TIE Interceptor pilots won't try to go in after them without their own shields, because everyone knows a storm and an unshielded ship are death waiting to happen.

One of the pilots does try it, ringing more concussion missiles off the Cadera’s shields, and the first lightning strike fries their systems, sending the Interceptor spinning down to the surface, impacting with a fireball. Bodhi flinches, but pushes on, looking for a way out, gritting his teeth as hail hammers the ship—“Fuck, the Palisade’s overloading,” Luke snaps, and Bodhi frantically slaps at the switch to shut it off, hoping that the power subsystems will keep the shields going without the added generator—

—tears out of the clouds, soaring for the stars, the Star Destroyer coming about after them, but the Interceptors are on the wrong side of the planet, now, and the squadron they’re scrambling isn’t going to be able to catch him.

“Shields are gone,” Luke says, tersely.

Bodhi’s hands slip on the controls—“Okay, okay, forget the rest of the run, we gotta get home—” Luke nods, punching in coordinates to the navicomputer as fast as his hands will move. Turbolaser fire from the Star Destroyer streaks past the viewport, and Baze looses a string of curses Bodhi doesn’t understand.

A blast glances off the Cadera’s armor, and one of the sublights and the overdrive are blown. “Come on,” Bodhi yells, throwing a quick glance at the navicomputer—it beeps after what feels like an eternity, and Luke scrambles for the lever so fast he almost misses his grip, but the stars turn to streaks, and—

“We’re safe, we’re safe,” Luke says, looking at Bodhi, who slumps back in his seat, staring at all the warning lights going off on the console, trembling, thinking about all the shit he’s got to repair before he can fly again, hoping Luke won't be ordered away to do something else before that. “You did great.”

“Well, that was exciting,” Chirrut says, from behind him. “Can someone please tell me what happened?”

*****

They limp home to Thila Base.

Luke promises to help with repairs, and they spend the next two days just trying to rip the melted Palisade shield generator out—Luke has a tendency to accidentally rub up against Bodhi, lying under the console together, and Bodhi’s torn between helpless, delirious arousal and an odd, increasingly desperate sense that if he can’t fly again, something terrible will happen. He works harder, long after Luke's been summoned by Leia, falling asleep in the Cadera and waking up only when Luke nudges him anxiously a few hours later.

Jyn and Cassian and Kaytoo come home again, wanting to hear all about Amaltanna and planning something big of their own, with Draven. Chirrut and Baze leave with Madine’s troops, with Bodhi none the wiser as to what Baze knows about the future.

And then, an unknown ship drops in from hyperspace on the third day after they’re back. Rieekan caves and orders Luke to scramble Rogue Squadron to go after it, but it’s gone again before they can identify it.

“But they sent a message,” Luke says, to Rieekan, in the hangar. Bodhi stuffs his hands in his pockets anxiously. “It’s encrypted. Bodhi, can Artoo use your ship’s computer?” He nods, leading the way, and Artoo rolls up the ramp and plugs in, chirping worriedly to himself.

The message is a single line, from Talon Karrde.

Bodhi’s heart sinks like a stone as he reads it off the display.

“If I can find you, so can they.”

Chapter Text

Rieekan's face is ashen. “I need to meet with Princess Leia and General Draven, immediately. “ Bodhi turns to run and get them, but Rieekan grabs his arm. “No, I need to talk to you, Lieutenant. Commander Skywalker—?”

Luke nods, and dashes out of the Cadera, calling back, “Artoo, stay there.” The droid whistles unhappily.

Rieekan puts his arms on the back of the co-pilot’s seat, attempting to look casual, but it only reinforces the strain Bodhi recognizes in his eyes. “You're the one who figured out Wedge was alive, because of what this man Karrde sent. Do you trust him?”

Bodhi fidgets. I believe him. It’s not the same thing. “I'm not the one to ask about trust, sir,” he says. “Cassian and Jyn are his contacts, not me.”

“And I'll ask them, too,” Rieekan assures him. “What about the fact that he dropped in like that? Is it possible he's been looking for our base this whole time? Would he—”

“Oh—oh, shit,” Bodhi mutters, forgetting that he's interrupting a senior officer. “I jumped straight back here off of Dominus III after they blew out one of my engines—there would’ve been an ion trail, if they had the right tracking equipment—”

Rieekan looks alarmed, but it's not because of what Bodhi’s saying; he snaps out, stern, “You have to breathe, Lieutenant,” and Bodhi realizes he's been talking too fast, panicky, again. “Don't start blaming yourself just yet, all right? There's a lot of possibilities to rule out.” Bodhi jerks his head in a nod, and Rieekan falls silent, his face drawn. There’s more gray in his hair than Bodhi remembers.

Artoo chirrups a long string of Binary, and Bodhi catches some of it, but he has to look down at the display to get the rest: you nerve burner you know damn well ion trails can’t be traced through hyperspace it’s not your fault stop worrying Luke is sad when you worry. Bodhi’s eyes widen, but Rieekan’s not looking at Artoo’s words scrolling on the screen, turning instead to conference with Leia and Draven.

Bodhi frowns at the droid’s photoreceptor, and the display clears, just as Leia comes up to the cockpit and says, “Let’s see Karrde’s message again, Artoo.” Artoo obliges, swiveling his dome to track her; Bodhi gets out of the way so she can take the pilot’s chair, but she shakes her head at him and remains standing, frowning down at the display, her lips compressing into a line.

“Well, there's nothing for it.” Draven crosses his arms. “We'll have to evacuate.”

“To where?” Luke asks. “None of the options we reported to you are viable.”

Leia nods at him. “I'll send a message to the Fleet and see what capital ships we might use. It'll be cramped, but I think we can make it work.” She looks at Draven and Rieekan. “What do you think our timeline is?”

“A matter of days, perhaps,” Draven says.

Luke runs a hand through his hair, looking around at them. “Karrde wouldn't warn us and then turn around and sell our location to the Empire, would he?”

“Karrde is clever, and mercenary, but he wouldn't betray us like that.” Draven shakes his head. He looks at Bodhi. “Your friends would be the first to say that the man values loyalty.”

“He's not loyal to the Rebellion,” Rieekan observes.

Bodhi shoves his hands in his pockets to stop them shaking. The trade was intel for us, Luke for them—would Karrde give Luke to them if it meant all of us, too?

“No,” Leia says. “But he's given us a warning; he may have given us time. Let's make the most of it.”

*****

The closest capital ship is the Redemption, a medical EF76 Nebulon-B frigate; it's in orbit over Thila Base within the next local day, hanging in the sky like a particularly architectural-looking cloud. Bodhi had shuttled people to and from the Redemption, in the weeks after Yavin, for Council meetings or treatment, and he knows their routines and preferences; the Cadera’s okay for short-range flight, for now, so he’s kept busy flying up equipment and the staff to go with it.

Leia catches Bodhi in the hangar between back-to-back trips, takes one look at his face, and says, “Go rest for a minute, Lieutenant.”

“I can’t,” he says, plaintively. Running from the Empire’s the other thing I’m good at. “Your Highness, I can get another twenty people up there in an hour—”

Leia’s eyebrows go up. “There’s other ships, and time enough.” She firmly takes his arm, marching him out of the hangar, over his polite but increasingly agitated protests. “You are as bad as Luke, aren’t you. Force help the next obstacle you two decide to throw yourselves at together. I’ve learned to get out of the way.” They wind up at the Intelligence offices, where Cassian and Jyn are packing up the last of the nonessential equipment. “He’s running himself ragged,” Leia explains, and pushes Bodhi at them. “Don’t let him out of your sight until you’re done.” She flashes a little smile at him and walks off.

Cassian’s gaze flickers over Bodhi. “When’s the last time you ate something?” Cassian doesn’t bother waiting for an answer, and throws a ration bar at him.

“Thanks.” Bodhi catches it more out of reflex than any real desire to eat anything, and goes over to help Jyn take apart a console. “Are you all done after this? I’ll run you up,” he says, trying to sound not quite as anxious as he feels.

Jyn throws a sideways glance at him, though. “Can’t wait to get out of here, huh?”

He shakes his head. “I—I don’t like waiting for the hammer to drop. Even if it’s going to be more cramped, living up there—at least I’d feel like we’re on the right track, going somewhere—”

Cassian cuts in before Bodhi can spiral any further. “D’you know where you’re bunking yet?”

He pulls up abruptly. “Yeah. I’m packed in with Rogue Squadron.” Bodhi pulls the last of the cables from the console and makes a face. “Wedge says Zev snores pretty bad, but I stood worse, in the Academy dorms.”

“You can move in with us,” Cassian offers. “We're pretty used to doubling up—” Jyn is shaking her head at him, raising her eyebrows like Cassian's supposed to be remembering something. He pauses. “Luke hasn’t, um, offered?”

“We haven't had a chance to talk about it.” Bodhi shrugs, taking down the console's display screen carefully. “You know he's been coordinating all the additional sector patrols with Rogue Squadron, I haven't seen him practically since we got Karrde's message.” Jyn is disconnecting a power supply, and he winces as she tosses it behind her, without looking, at a cargo container with a few other components already heaped in it. “Hey, about Karrde-- how come he didn't say anything to you about being able to find us, when you were meeting on Gonmore? And what were you planning with Draven?”

“It's not so much a plan, yet,” Jyn says. “Karrde’s got insights into moves some Moff’s been making in the Expansion Region, we might try to cut him off. It can wait until we’re safely off-world, though. And—I don't have a clue how he figured out where we are. We’ve always been careful. A little paranoid, even.”

Cassian throws her a glance. “I am not paranoid for no reason,” he reminds her.

“I know,” she says, affectionately, and turns back to Bodhi. “Draven doesn't think it's your fault, even though you said you jumped straight back here. You weren't anywhere near where Karrde's network is.”

“Maybe he's just that good,” Cassian says, getting down on his hands and knees to follow another set of cables across the floor to where they're plugged into a wall port. “He isn't the head of the biggest smuggling organization outside of the Hutts for nothing, you know. Oh—he said to tell you thanks, by the way.”

“Me? I haven't done a thing for him.” Bodhi blinks.

“The Kessel prison break,” Jyn tells him. “Apparently shutting down the place made the cost of spice go through the roof; he'd been sitting on warehouses of the stuff, he was waiting to move until the time was right. You should've seen his face when we told him it was your idea.”

“Oh, no,” Bodhi says, aghast. “I aided and abetted the spice market?”

“You should get him to cut you in,” Cassian observes, amused, as he gets back to his feet, a tangle of cables in hand. “It'd be more lucrative than this—” He waves a hand at the mess they're making of packing up.

“Ha,” Bodhi says. “Solo got paid a pile of credits back at Yavin. Although—he’s a smuggler too, so that doesn't prove anything, I guess.”

“He got paid for rescuing Leia,” Jyn points out. “And, I don't know, maybe he negotiated a finder's fee for scraping the last of the Jedi off that rock.”

“He would,” Bodhi agrees, a smile twitching at his lips. He helps Jyn squash the lid of the cargo container down—realizes, suddenly, that his friends have somehow managed to effectively distract him from his worries for the span of a few minutes, and immediately tenses back up again. ”Is that it? Can we go now?”

“Well,” Jyn says, and her eyes are glinting. “If the Imperials are coming, there’s one more thing we need to do.”

*****

Most of the hangar’s cleared out by the time Bodhi finishes loading the Intelligence equipment on the Cadera and joins Solo at the foot of the Falcon’s ramp. He stares at the crates upon crates of explosives sitting on a hovercart there; he’d worried about Baze’s one container of explosives—he can’t imagine flying with this many on board. Solo grins at him, as Chewbacca deposits another container on the stack. “You insurrectionist types sure know the way to a smuggler’s heart,” he says, stepping back and admiring the hoard.

“Don’t tell me you’re charging the Rebellion for these,” Bodhi says, slightly appalled.

Solo laughs. “Of course I am. But just for the parts, mind you, not labor or delivery.”

“Only because Jyn threatened to break his hand,” Cassian points out, bringing down the second-to-last crate with her, Kaytoo carrying one on his own behind them. “Where’s Leia and Draven?”

“Leia—?” Solo turns, surprised. “Shouldn’t she be on the Redemption by now? Shouldn’t all the ranking members of High Command be off this rock, if we’re gonna blow up the base?”

“Rieekan went to coordinate with the rest of the Fleet,” Bodhi offers, and then the two people in question stroll up.

“We’re not simply blowing it up, Captain Solo,” Draven says, sternly. “We’re laying a trap.”

Solo’s eyes light up. “Ah. Okay, I’m on board.”

“This is volunteers only,” Leia says, rolling her eyes. “I’m not putting ‘labor’ on your tab for this one.” Solo turns to her, looking wounded, and they instantly fall into an argument. Draven sighs and settles in to wait it out, folding his arms and tapping a finger against his sleeve.

I didn’t volunteer,” Kaytoo says, to Cassian. “You told me I had to come help.”

Jyn gazes up at him. “Are you going to wait on the shuttle with Bodhi, then?”

“That’s boring.”

“Hey,” Bodhi protests, mildly offended, as Jyn covers a laugh with her hand. “What the hell, Kaytoo, I’m right here.” Chewbacca puts a heavy, affectionate paw on his shoulder and mutters that of course he’s not boring.

Kaytoo makes a half-hearted apologetic gesture at him. “Fine, I’ll help.”

“All right, let’s get to work,” Leia says, turning her back on Solo, even though she clearly knows he’s making faces behind her. “Bodhi, Chewie, you keep your engines running. This shouldn’t take long.”

Bodhi gets the Cadera prepped quickly, and then—waits.

He gets up, paces the length of the shuttle a couple of times, fingers running over his comlink, wondering if he should ask how it’s going and deciding against it. Wonders if they’ll ever know if their trap gets sprung, once they’re gone—has to wrench his thoughts away from drifting down the path of wondering who the Empire will send to die here. Tries to focus and think about his ship, running down the long list of repairs in his mind; runs out of that pretty fast, though, and then he’s pacing again.

Think of something else.

Think about—how Luke’ll be there, on the Redemption, eager to get back to fixing the Cadera, eyes full of stars and excitement, ready to fly and find a new home for the Rebellion, some place where we can be alone—

“Okay, we’re done,” Jyn says, over the comlink. “Coming back!”

Solo takes Leia and, with some obvious reluctance, Draven, in the Falcon. Kaytoo, without prompting, strides up and folds himself down into the co-pilot’s chair; Bodhi almost wants to tell him no, that’s Luke’s— but manages to keep his mouth shut, somehow. Cassian’s hands are a little unsteady, when he straps in next to Jyn, but he smiles, and pulls Bodhi down to kiss him on the cheek. “On we go,” he murmurs.

Chewbacca waves from the Falcon’s cockpit as the Cadera’s ramp closes up, and that’s the last Bodhi sees of Thila Base.

Chapter Text

The Cadera and the Falcon are among the last ships from Thila Base to dock with the Redemption, and almost as soon as they arrive, the frigate makes its jump to hyperspace, headed for a rendezvous with the Fleet. Cassian and Jyn and Kaytoo haul their stuff off, with promises to get together for a meal as soon as possible. Solo stands at the bottom of the ramp of the Falcon for a long, long moment, watching Leia’s white-clad form disappear into the corridors. He turns and catches Bodhi staring, and his answering smirk is half-hearted, at best.

“You didn’t have this shuttle, before,” the Redemption’s deck officer says, startling Bodhi. “Or that shiny new badge, either.” She grins at him. “Shall we get started with your ship inspection, Lieutenant?”

It takes an hour; Bodhi is nervously defensive about the repairs that have yet to be completed, but she only smiles wryly and comments that most of the ships coming in look far worse off than his. After she’s finished her inspection, he walks out of the shuttle with her to see Luke, leaning up against his X-wing, looking for all the galaxy like a Rebellion propaganda poster. His orange flightsuit’s rumpled, and Bodhi wonders how long he’s been hanging around waiting; he hadn’t seen Luke when they’d docked. The rest of the hangar bay’s dark, as quiet as it can get with droids buzzing around and the night shift coming on.

“And you remember the regulations about emissions—” the deck officer says, and then she sees Luke waiting, and her eyes twinkle up at Bodhi. “I’ll—just have you sign here, and I’ll get out of your way.” Luke nods to her as she heads off, and then refocuses all his attention on Bodhi.

“Hi,” Luke says, leaning in and claiming a brief, weary kiss. “Wild couple of days, huh? Rieekan had us hiding sensor buoys around the edge of the sector so we'll know when the Empire really does come poking around. I heard Jyn planned a little surprise for them, though.” He fingers the strap of the goggles hanging around Bodhi’s neck, still standing very close. “You've been all right? You look like you haven't gotten a moment's rest since we got back from Dominus III.”

Bodhi looks him up and down, not meaning anything by it, but Luke starts to blush. “You haven't slept much, either,” Bodhi murmurs, yawning.

“Well, I think I can guess where this is headed.” Luke’s amused. “I'm bunking with the Rogues for now, until they can sort out something else for me. You?”

“That's where I'm assigned, too.”

“C’mon, then.” Luke jerks his head in the direction of the turbolift. “It’ll be crowded, but we could both use the sleep.”

“Yeah, okay.” Bodhi wonders if he shouldn't just go back and sack out in the shuttle, if he’ll be taking up needed room. But it’s nice to lean against Luke’s shoulder in the turbolift, going up to the crew decks, and just listen to him talk about a comet whose orbit had drifted into the system; how he’d had to convince Artoo to give back manual control of his X-wing so he could ride along its wake.

“—so, um, sorry about that, if you’re on the maintenance crew that ends up having to work on my engines—” Luke’s mouth quirks up. “I mean, I should come help out anyway, it was a silly idea to try to stash a sensor buoy in the comet’s tail.”

“I bet it was fun, though,” Bodhi says, softly.

Luke looks at him, his eyes going warm and earnest. “It was, but it would’ve been more fun if you were out there with me.”

“When I get the Cadera fixed,” Bodhi promises, and Luke’s face lights up. He starts to press in for another kiss, but the turbolift doors slide open and there’s a medic, a Twi'lek woman, standing outside.

“Commander Skywalker,” she greets Luke, surprised, and then, registering Bodhi’s presence, “Lieutenant Rook—oh, you’re with Rogue Squadron too, aren’t you? I just saw Kasan heading off to bed.”

Luke smiles at her. “Have a good shift, hopefully it’s a quiet night!” The medic heads off, and Bodhi blinks. “She knows who I am?”

“Of course she does,” Luke says, turning his gaze on Bodhi, his brow furrowing a little, as they get to Rogue Squadron’s barracks—

—where it turns out there's only one free bunk left.

“What the hell?” Luke freezes, looking around at his squadmates, turning red, not meeting Bodhi’s eyes.

“Hey, Luke, sorry about that, you guys are the last ones to pick, so—” Wedge is perched on the edge of the top bunk by the door, opposite the sole remaining bunk. He's down to shorts and an undershirt, still worryingly thin after Kessel, but he’s sporting the widest shit-eating grin on his face Bodhi has ever seen. Hobbie, below Wedge, is peering over his pillow at them, his eyes dancing. “Oh, no, there's only one bed, and there's two of you—”

“You're hilarious,” Luke says, shaking his head. Kasan, tugging a brush through her unbraided hair, shrugs at him, as if to say she wasn't involved, though she’s clearly still entertained by it. Zev, down at the far end, is already out like a light, snoring as loudly as Wedge had warned.

“What are you gonna do, Commander?” Janson teases, and Bodhi’s certain he’s the one who fucked with the room assignments, he’s the best slicer out of the squad. “There’s no more bunks open, not with all of Thila Base crammed onto the ship.”  

Luke turns, an apology in his voice, “Bodhi—”

—but Bodhi’s already kicked off his boots, tossing his jacket on the floor, and is climbing up to Wedge’s bunk. “Luke's commander, he gets his own,” Bodhi says, and flops down next to Wedge, holding back a smile. “You don't mind doubling up, do you?” Hobbie snorts with laughter, and Janson’s rolling his eyes and grinning at Bodhi.

“Uh—” Wedge's face is astonished; he glances over his shoulder, flustered, at Bodhi propping himself up on one elbow. “I—wait—”

Luke snickers and starts stripping off his flightsuit, dropping his weapons into his footlocker. “Thanks, Wedge, it’s nice of you to share until this mistake gets resolved.” He’s playing along, for now, but the sideways glance he gives Bodhi, unseen by anyone else, is unmistakably one of longing, and Bodhi regrets his instinctive impulse to mess with Wedge, because now he wants to fold—

Kasan laughs. “I told you all not to start something you couldn't finish.” She finishes brushing her hair out. “Turn out the lights when you’ve figured out who’s going where.”

Wedge looks at Bodhi again; he gazes back, unblinking, daring Wedge to call his bluff, unsure how long he can keep the game up, himself. “Well, good night, then,” Wedge says, cheerfully, and kicks at the light plate with his bare foot. He waits a full minute, still just sitting there in the dark, and then pokes Bodhi in the ribs, whispering, “Okay, you made your point—I’ll get Janson to fix it.”

“And you’ll all stop trying to help?” Bodhi mutters back, swinging his legs over the side of the bunk to jump back down. The idea of staying, now, with all of them waiting to see what he’ll do—

Wedge’s shrug is more felt than seen. “We just want him—you—to be happy.”

“Then let me get there at my own speed,” Bodhi whispers. “Please?”

A quiet laugh. “Luke’s a ‘damn the torpedoes’ kind of guy. Get there faster.”

Bodhi reaches over and squeezes Wedge’s arm, before dropping to the floor as quietly as he can. “Wait—where are you going?” Wedge hisses, but Bodhi doesn’t reply. By the faint light of the comm and control panel by the door, he can see Luke’s eyes are open, curious. Bodhi collects up his boots and jacket, and then, despite Luke’s outstretched hand grasping at his, slips out the door.

He intends to head back to the Cadera, at first, but, despite his enervation, Bodhi ends up exploring the ship; on all his previous trips to the Redemption, he’d only seen the inside of the hangar bay. And Bodhi had never been able to go about quite this freely in the Empire, of course, as a lowly cargo pilot—even, or perhaps especially, in the Star Destroyer above Jedha. He's oddly restless, wanting to see their temporary home before it wakes.The crew decks aren’t very interesting; like all the dorms or barracks he’s ever been in, they’re small and lined with the smells and sounds of too many lives jammed in one place.

Once Bodhi’s clear of the crew decks, though, he finds himself stepping off the turbolift in the medical facilities, which are hushed in a way that has nothing to do with the late hour. The thick transparisteel of the walls dull the noise of monitors beeping, the flat orders of the surgical droids, people crying out in pain. There are more patients onboard than he’d expected, for the Redemption to have been able to divert and pick up everyone from Thila Base. Every bed Bodhi can see on the open floor is filled, and almost every bacta tank has someone in it; the ones that don’t are being prepped.

Bodhi shudders, and turns his face away, remembering the taste of bacta in his mouth. I shouldn’t be here.

“Hey, Lieutenant?” It’s the Twi’lek medic from before, frowning at him. “Did you need something?”

Bodhi shakes his head. “Just—just wandering around.”

“Uh-huh.” Her lekku are twitching in doubt. “If, um, if you want something to help you sleep—?”

“No,” he says, realizing how he must look, how many hollow-eyed soldiers must’ve come by for that very thing over the course of the past months—no, the past year, if not even longer than that. “I only wanted to see the ship.”

“Ah, yeah, of course. Well—main bridge is that way, and you’ll have to go down a couple decks to connect to the propulsion module, if you want to see engineering.”

“Thanks,” Bodhi says, and turns to head in the direction of the turbolift.

“Lieutenant—”

He stops, and looks at her curiously. “Yes?”

“We all know what you did for the Rebellion,” she says. “If there’s ever anything you need; medical supplies, or—or stims, or whatever, don’t hesitate to ask. Okay?”

Bodhi manages not to flinch—they all think they know who I am—and only says, sincerely, “Thank you.”

“Don't mention it,” she says, with a smile, and goes back to her duties.

Bodhi doesn't encounter anyone else as he crosses the narrow neck to propulsion. His thoughts meander aimlessly from lack of sleep, starting to swirl like the vortex of hyperspace visible out the viewports.

They think they know—

—no.

I'm just the pilot.

Some part of his mind points out that's always been enough, for Luke, and he drifts that way: Luke gave me a ship—a chance to fly. He’s giving me certainty, and trust, and time, and all he wants is— Bodhi stops walking, and looks at his reflection in the viewport; his own dark, haunted eyes stare back.

Well, I’m not enough.

“Okay,” he says, aloud. “Think of something, then.” But he’s as stymied as he was that night after Gerrard V.

In engineering, the officer on night duty, a Zabrak almost as tan as Bodhi, frowns at him and asks, “Is there something I can do for you?”

“No, I—” Bodhi starts, but then pulls up short. “Wait. Yes. Do you have spare parts down here? Anything I could fix up and use for my own ship? I can pay—”

The Zabrak purses his lips, and gestures for Bodhi to follow him back to a storage area. “You’re welcome to have at our salvage; there’s not a lot, but if you think you can fix any of it, it’s yours.” Bodhi slips a credit chip from his jacket pocket, but a flicker of recognition crosses the man’s face. “It’s just junk. You’re doing us a favor. Sir.”  

“It’s only fair,” Bodhi says, holding the chip out uncertainly, blinking at him. “You’d be able to sell it for scrap, when we got to a shipyard, otherwise.”

The Zabrak reaches out and folds the credit chip back into Bodhi’s hand, shaking his head. “Take whatever you need.”

“But—I—”

“Nope,” he says, smiling, and walks away, back to his station, before Bodhi can protest any further.

“Well, this is just ridiculous,” Bodhi says to the air, flustered, looking around for anyone who might try to suggest otherwise. But he looks down at the pile of discarded and broken equipment, and promptly forgets all about the way the medic and the engineer had treated him. If I can fly—He bites his lip, a thrill of realization running through him. I know what I can do to start making it fair.  

When he finally does return to his ship with a hovercart of equipment in tow, more tired than ever, but with a plan finally drawing together in his head, Luke is sitting—well, slumping over, really—at the top of the ramp, barefoot and with only his yellow flight jacket on over a thin undershirt, eyes closed. Bodhi’s heart stutters at the sight of him, and he stumbles to a halt, the hovercart emitting a soft whine as it decelerates abruptly. Luke’s eyes fly open, and for a second, he just stares, a little blankly, at Bodhi.

Bodhi says, quickly, “I’m sorry for disappearing like that. I couldn’t—”

“I knew you’d come back eventually.” Luke shakes his head, not angry in the least. His mouth twitches, looking at the seemingly random parts Bodhi dragged back. “I’ll help you work on all that tomorrow, okay? But—for now—” Luke gets to his feet, and behind him, Bodhi sees a couple of bedrolls spread out on the floor of the cargo hold. “I didn’t want you to have to sleep alone out here.”

“I’m going to get up in a couple hours,” Bodhi warns him, but he comes up all the way into the hold, closing the ramp behind them, and Luke smiles.

*****

Over the next couple of days in hyperspace, in between picking up his regular maintenance shifts—including fixing Luke’s profoundly fucked-up engines—and working on his own ship, Bodhi hides in Cassian and Jyn’s quarters to do research on their console. Unlike his ship's computer, their console is tied into the Rebellion's system, including its Republic-era databanks.

“You’re keeping secrets,” Kaytoo accuses him, when he activates suddenly in the corner, the second morning.

Bodhi jerks in surprise and nearly falls off the chair. “For the love of—Kaytoo, I thought you were switched off for another hour.”

“You’ve been erasing your tracks in the database. I can tell. Do Jyn and Cassian know what you’re doing?” Kaytoo peers suspiciously at him. “Do they even know you’ve been in here?”

“No,” Bodhi admits. “I sliced the lock.”

“You’re sneakier than I thought,” Kaytoo approves. “Not boring at all. What are you looking for?”

“N—nothing.” He shuts off the console and rubs his sleeve across it to wipe off his fingerprints.

Kaytoo tilts his head. “I could help, you know.”

“It’s—it’s okay, I got it under control,” Bodhi says. “Kaytoo—please don’t tell anyone, I promise I’ll explain everything, just—not yet.”

“Are you going to do something foolish and dangerous again?” Kaytoo’s voice sounds resigned.

Bodhi swallows, and something like a smile tugs at the corners of his mouth. “I hope it won’t be.”

“Then I won’t tell them. Unless you get into trouble.”

“Thanks, Kaytoo.” Bodhi gets up, relieved, and pats Kaytoo’s arm.

Kaytoo closes his hand, carefully, on Bodhi’s shoulder in return. “I don’t think I’ve ever kept a secret that didn’t have to do with Cassian killing someone,” he says.

“Uh—”

“Or the kinds of things Jyn likes to do during sex,” Kaytoo adds, thoughtfully, and Bodhi, wide-eyed, bolts for the door.

*****

During his maintenance shift, later: “Janson can’t fix it,” Hobbie says, appearing out of nowhere, and pulling Bodhi away from the Y-wing stabilizer he’s been working on so they can talk privately. “I’m sorry, honestly—none of us meant for you to have to crash out in your ship every night—we talked about taking turns so you could have, you know, an actual bed. Um. Without Luke in it. If that’s what you want.”

“It’s okay, Hobbie.” Bodhi pushes his goggles up onto his forehead. “I’ve got it covered. I mean, it is my ship, I’m coming and going all hours anyway, I’d wake you up—well, not all of you, I guess. I don’t know if anything could wake Zev up once he’s out.”

Hobbie frowns at him. “You’re sure?”

“Yeah,” Bodhi assures him. “Besides, we’ll get to the rendezvous soon, and everything’ll change again after that, right?”

“Good point,” Hobbie says, and claps him on the shoulder. “Again, really sorry. Hey, are you coming to our sabacc game in a bit?”

“I forgot—” Bodhi frowns. “Luke said he’d come by and help me lock down that problem with my deflector shields.”

“Don’t worry about it, I don’t mind hanging on to my credits a while longer.” Hobbie grins. “Okay. You two have fun.”

Bodhi doesn’t even think to be suspicious of Hobbie until half an hour later, when he heads back to the Cadera to meet Luke. A wave of heat hits him as soon as he sets foot on the ramp, and he realizes his so-called friend had been serving as a distraction.

“You rankweed suckers,” Bodhi mutters, stripping off his jacket, tossing it and his goggles onto a seat in the hold and dashing up into the cockpit. The environmental controls have been sliced to hell and back—trying to just shut the heaters off turns into a circuitous, nonsensical path across the console. Sweat starts to trickle down his shirt as he tries to figure out what Janson had done; it’s nothing that’ll damage the ship, they’d never do that, but—

“Something happen to the environmental controls?” Luke asks, coming up behind him. He’s shed his jacket, too, and his hair’s already starting to stick to his forehead.

“Yeah, your squadron,” Bodhi grumbles, sliding out of the chair and maneuvering under the console so he can tell if Janson had screwed with the wiring.

Luke groans. “Sorry, Bodhi—Janson’ll get into a prank war at the slightest provocation—he must’ve taken that business the other night as the start of something.”

Bodhi wriggles back out from under the console and Luke pulls him back up to his feet. “Everything looks okay down there, it’s just whatever the fuck Wes did to the ship’s computer, I guess.” He’s panting, wiping sweat from his brow. “It’s like a blasted sauna.”

Luke cranes his neck at the temperature on the console display as he slips into the co-pilot’s chair. “Not much worse than Tatooine, actually,” he comments.

“Don’t tell me this feels like home,” Bodhi says, dryly, shaking his head and sitting back down in the pilot’s seat, trying to track Janson’s scheme. Luke takes too long to respond; Bodhi glances at him, and he’s gazing down at the console, smiling just enough that Bodhi can tell exactly what he’s thinking.

Home is where I am—

Luke lifts his head. “There’s a lot less sand.” He grins, but his eyes have gone bright and earnest again.

Bodhi swallows, and tries to smile at him. He turns back to the ship's computer, acutely aware that he isn't just hot from the shuttle’s malfunction alone. “Okay, okay, um—if I can trace back how Janson rerouted the internal sensors—”

They fix the environmental controls, a process more time-consuming than complicated, Bodhi making increasingly dire promises about what he’s going to do to Wedge and Janson and Hobbie under his breath as sweat drips off his face, Luke snickering beside him. Bodhi calls a halt to work after an hour, and they go down and sit at the top of the ramp, looking out at the darkened hangar, waiting for the interior to cool off. He pours half a canteen of water over his head, shaking droplets off his hair, watching the way Luke’s lips part at that, and then Luke’s leaning over, kissing water from his mouth, and—yeah, okay, this wasn’t the worst prank ever—Bodhi says it aloud, tilting his head back, clutching at Luke’s sodden shirt.

“But you’re still going to retaliate,” Luke murmurs, sounding amused.

“Oh, yeah, ” Bodhi says, his retribution already plotted out. “It’s all about—” he gasps, as Luke’s mouth moves on to his neck— “the timing.”

*****

The Redemption arrives at the rendezvous point on schedule. Some talk of what High Command’s planning filters down to Bodhi, but there aren’t any moves to transfer personnel to other sectors or ships, which gives him time to take care of parts of his own plan, including admitting to Cassian and Jyn what he’s been doing. Cassian is worried, of course, but Jyn, delighted, approves entirely.  

Bodhi also finds the time to make Wedge, Hobbie, and Janson—he doesn’t think Kasan or Zev have been all that involved—increasingly paranoid: walking out of their simulation room just ahead of their scheduled time with tools sticking out of his pockets; deliberately not eating the same food they eat in the galley. Small, silly things to keep them off balance. Jyn notices, thinks it’s funny, and makes a few suggestions of her own, much to Cassian’s dismay.

And, finally, a few days after the rendezvous, the Cadera’s done being repaired.

Bodhi drums his fingers on the edge of the console, watching the diagnostics run, his heart starting to race.

It’s time. I can do this.

“Okay, okay, we’ve got shields back, everything looks good. I think—I think I can fly, again.” His mouth is dry, and he’s trembling a little, but Bodhi looks up, and says to Luke, “Let’s—let’s go, right now, you and me.”

“Bodhi—” Luke’s mouth falls open.

Bodhi runs right over top of his surprise, hastily. “We’ll knock out the rest of the scouting runs we were going to do—I got resupplied already, I talked with Draven, there’s nothing more pressing than finding a base, for Intelligence, and—and—”

Luke stammers, “Are—are you—”

“I’m serious,” Bodhi says, trying to sound confident and not desperate. “It’s what we would’ve been doing if those Imperials hadn’t shown up at Dominus III.”

“You realize,” Luke says, starting to smile, “You're asking me to run away with you?”

“I’m not going rogue again, just—” Bodhi gives him a shy, hopeful smile of his own. “Please say you’ll come?”

Luke thumps the armrest. “Yes, yes, blast, of course,” and he leans over, pulling Bodhi in to kiss him happily.

“Great,” Bodhi says, as they break apart. He checks the ship’s chrono. Perfect. “There’s just one more thing I need to take care of, before we go. If you’d please let the deck officer know we’re departing?”

“Sure,” Luke says, puzzled, but he’s already reaching for the ship’s comms.

Bodhi squeezes Luke’s hand, giddy about his plan coming together at last. “I'll be right back.”

He works fast, hands shaking and heart pounding the whole time, and then races back to the Cadera, with barely a minute to spare, when he slaps at the ramp controls to close them in.

Luke’s just getting off the comm. “All set?”

“Yeah.” Bodhi smirks to himself, keying the engines for preflight.

“What did you do?” Luke asks, handling his side of the console adroitly as ever.

“Give it a second,” Bodhi says. “Your Rogues should be getting back from running simulations right about—” His comlink crackles, and Wedge’s indignant voice sputters out, “Lieutenant Bodhi fucking Rook, you put a magnetic seal on the door to our quarters?”

“Yeah, yeah—”

Luke’s eyes go wide, and he starts to laugh. Wedge again, sounding aghast: “It’s keyed to your thumbprint?”

“Sorry, can't talk now, we’re leaving!” Bodhi thumbs off his comlink and takes the controls, lifting the Cadera off the deck and soaring out through the hangar’s forcefield.

“You're full of surprises today, aren't you?” Luke says, delighted, affection shading his voice.

Bodhi grins out at the stars. “You have no idea.”

Chapter Text

Once they’re off the Redemption, drifting between the Fleet ships at the rendezvous, Bodhi insists on handling all the navigational calculations himself.

Luke smiles at him. “I know you’d never jump us too close to a supernova.”

“What?”

His smile broadens into a grin. “Something Han said once. You really don’t want me to know where we’re going?”

“Not until we get there,” Bodhi says. “Please? You’ve trusted me this far.” 

Luke reaches over and touches his hand. “I’ll even close my eyes, if you want,” he says, lightly.

“I’ll wake you when we arrive,” Bodhi promises.

“I’m not gonna fall asleep,” Luke says, squeezing his eyes shut. But he does, not long after they jump to hyperspace, looking peaceful even as his head slowly nods uncomfortably sideways onto his shoulder. Bodhi doesn’t know all of the things Luke’s been handling since they left Thila Base; it’s impossible to gauge how busy Luke must actually be, when he still makes every effort to spend time with him. But he’s rarely as still as this when he’s awake, always ready to leap into action. Though—Luke’s energy is never from nervous desperation, like his own; Luke burns bright and steady as a star.

Bodhi laughs at himself for that, silently, ruefully. What does that make me?

An erratic orbit.

He throws another look at Luke to make certain he’s asleep, and then pulls his datapad of research out just to check it over one more time. I can do this. For him.

Luke’s head is still drooping, some hours later, when the navicomputer beeps the alert that they’ve arrived in system, and even when the Cadera shudders slightly upon reentering normal space. The glimmering oceans of Aquilaris grow larger and larger in the viewport as Bodhi takes them in, staying well clear of the wreck of the once-floating city. He spots the place he wants to land on the scanner—it still shines, when he sees it out the viewport, even after all these years—and corrects his trajectory to put down there. Bodhi’s inordinately proud of his landing, so gentle that Luke doesn’t wake, even as he cuts out the repulsorlifts, deploys the landing gear and the ramp.

Despite the serenity of the empty planet, Bodhi’s heart is pounding in anticipation. He gets up from his chair, and slides in between the console and Luke’s seat; leans down and puts his hands on both sides of Luke’s face. “We’re here,” he whispers, and kisses Luke’s eyelids.

Luke makes a soft, sleepy sound of pleasure. “Kiss me again,” he mumbles, plaintively. Bodhi obliges, once, and then repeats, more firmly, “We’re here.” Luke scrubs a hand through his hair, and squints up at him.

“We are? I didn’t even feel you land—wait, where is here?”

“Come and see,” Bodhi says, pulling him up and out of his seat. And as they walk down the ramp into the watery, late-afternoon sunlight, Luke draws an astonished breath, and breaks away from him, running out—

—onto the floor of the ruined stadium, laughing, shouting back, “A podracing track?

Bodhi’s heart soars as he watches Luke dart out into the empty lanes and tilt his head back to gawk at the huge, shattered viewscreens all around them. He can hear waves crashing against the outer shell of the stadium; it’s a wonder the place hasn’t eroded completely away under the ocean’s endless assault. A salt-scented wind tugs at his hair gently, reminding him of Scarif, but only just.

“How did you even find this place?” Luke calls, his voice echoing off the walls of the stadium, startling a whole flock of bright-winged avians into flight from their nests among the seats. “Podracing’s been dead for decades, except for the underground, and I doubt you’ve been talking to them.”

Bodhi shoves his hands in his pockets and strolls a couple meters away, to where he guesses the starting line must’ve been, though of course the droids that would’ve signaled the start are long gone. He traces a line in the fine sand with his boot, hiding a smile as he watches Luke count the decks that reach up to the clear blue oval of sky. “Your father raced here.”

Luke wheels around, shocked. “My—

“I mean, the history’s confusing,” Bodhi continues on, trying to sound casual, as if he’d only happened to stumble upon the fact, but deep down, he’s terribly anxious for Luke to appreciate it. “When the Empire outlawed podracing, the records got jumbled up, I don’t know when he was here, the new calendar makes everything complicated anyway—but Anakin Skywalker raced here, Luke, he won against Clegg Holdfast in the Aquilaris Classic—”

Luke starts back towards him, looking stunned, his mouth falling open.

“—and—and he set a course record in the Sunken City race—” Bodhi stammers, as Luke gets to him and grabs his arm with a shaking hand.

“This isn’t a possible base—you found this place for me?”

Bodhi rubs the back of his neck. “I wanted you to see it. Even if it’s all gone—”

Luke cuts him off, crushing his mouth against Bodhi’s, a kiss caught halfway between tenderness and passion. “Thank you,” he says, pulling away a fraction, not letting go of Bodhi’s arm. “I never—my uncle let on that my father did some podracing, on Tatooine, but I never thought to find out about it, after I joined the Rebellion, it was always just what he did in the Clone Wars, once I knew who he really was.”

Bodhi says, his heartbeat finally starting to settle now that he’s certain he hit on the right thing, “Your father won races on a bunch of other worlds—we can’t go to some of them, they’re too dangerous right now, even for you, but we’ll go—if you want, I’ll take you to see Mon Gazza and Ord Ibanna, at least.” He swallows, and says the rest in a rush, no longer bothering to mask his intensity, how much he wants Luke to understand. “I know you’ve got your father’s lightsaber, and his name and—and everything that goes with that, but it was really—no one remembers any of this. So it’s yours, it’s just yours to know about, since everyone else’s forgotten.”

Luke squeezes Bodhi’s shoulder. His eyes are brighter than Bodhi’s ever seen them. “You found it, you won’t forget, either. Stars, Bodhi, this is so—” He laughs, suddenly. “Did you have to lie to Draven about where we were going?”

“No,” Bodhi says, imagining Draven’s face if he had said, by the way, while we’re out on this scouting run, I'm gonna tour Luke around the old podracing circuit, because—“I put other sectors on the flight plan, I have a few ideas for where to really look.” He smiles. “But let’s just start here, yeah? The track goes down underwater. If the tunnels haven’t collapsed, we could get pretty far, exploring on foot, and you wouldn’t have to swim.”

“Lead the way,” Luke says, delighted.

Bodhi pulls his datapad back out as they follow the racecourse towards the underwater tunnels, the daylight fading the further down they go, but there’s a tenebrous sort of glow ahead, where Bodhi assumes they’ll be able to see out again. The datapad provides enough illumination to see their path by; not only the track itself, as it emerges from the sand, but also the faded black-and-neon arrows that would’ve guided racers to their victory—or, if they took the turns too fast, their doom.

He rambles happily to Luke about all the stuff he’d found on the favored competitors at Aquilaris, their engine specs, preferred approaches to the most notable obstacles. When he hits Anakin Skywalker’s lap times—which aren’t statistically that far off the top marks of the other racers—Bodhi wonders aloud how much he’d relied on the Force to help him win.

“From everything I know about podracing,” Luke observes, “My father probably needed the Force just to help him fly the thing, never mind winning. It wasn't—still isn’t a sport meant for humans.” He shrugs. “Having extra hands probably helped, you know?” Then he stops walking, entranced by the underwater world opening up beyond the transparisteel-walled section they've come to. The outside edges of the wall are streaked with the detritus and grime of decades without maintenance, but there’s still an unblemished three-meter-long window in the center. Sunlight filtering through the crystal-clear water sparkles off of schools of fish, and casts rippling shadows on the tunnel floor that remind Bodhi of flying through a nebula.

“I bet the racers didn't get to take in this view much, at five hundred kilometers an hour,” Luke says, awed, pressing his hands up to the transparisteel.

Bodhi leans against a support strut at his side, and glances further down the track at the split in the course that would've come up in milliseconds, at that speed. “If you looked, you’d probably crash,” he agrees, turning back to watch the closest school of fish split and dart away from an intrusive, predatory-looking creature with three sets of long flippers and an eager mouthful of teeth. “It’s kind of strange, isn’t it? To have something this beautiful, right here, that’d kill you if you spent too much time looking at it, but that no one else would ever have the chance to really see.”

“No one but us,” Luke says, turning. And then Bodhi has to stop looking at the undersea view, because Luke is kissing him, fiercely.

“I’m glad you like it,” Bodhi manages, when he’s able to come up for air again, a couple long and impassioned minutes later.

“It’s the complete opposite of Tatooine,” Luke says, and grins. “Of course I like it.” The shadows around them are lengthening; Bodhi can’t see much farther beyond where the track splits anymore without a light. “What do you think? Should we keep going, or head back to the ship?”

“Let’s go back,” Bodhi suggests. “You should see what this all looks like from the air.”

“It’s too bad the Cadera won’t fit down here,” Luke muses, jumping up and touching the ceiling of the tunnel as they turn and make their way out. He coughs, surprised, as decades-old dust follows him back down. “It’d be fun to fly through one of these courses, see what it was like back then.”

“Maybe on one of the other planets,” Bodhi says. “They’re not all closed-in like this, or at least I don’t think they all are, there’s one track that goes through a volcano—”

“You’re joking.”

Bodhi shakes his head, and then realizes that Luke can’t see him in the dark again. “No, it’s real; it’s on Baroonda, the last course in the Invitational circuit. They called it the Inferno.”

“Did my father race there?” Luke asks, eagerly.

“I’m not sure, I’m sorry,” Bodhi says. “The track favorite was this Toong guy named Ben Quadinaros, but I never found the results from the Invitational.”

Luke goes quiet for a moment, and then says, sounding abashed, “Um. I don’t know what a Toong looks like.”

“There’s not a lot of them left,” Bodhi offers. “They’re sort of—yellow, I guess, and they’ve got big heads and three antennae. Bipeds, though, not really insectoid.”

“How come there's not many of them left?”

Bodhi has to think back a bit. “A comet hit their homeworld, around maybe thirty, thirty-five years ago. Why?”

“I just didn't know,” Luke replies. “There's a lot of sentient species I never learned about.” He's matter-of-fact about it, but there's an undertone of dismay in his voice. “Lots of planets, too.”

“It's a big galaxy,” Bodhi says. “And—I’ll fly you anywhere, to see it. I mean, not just on this run, but when the war’s over and we can go anywhere—I never thought I'd get to see any of this, and I want—I want to see the rest of it with you.” He's bold, in the shadows, but he'll never be as forward as Luke; the sound of a sharply drawn breath is his only warning before Luke collides with him in the dark, a hand going unerringly around the back of his head, pulling him in for a grateful kiss.

After that, it’s fully dusk when they emerge from the tunnels and go back to the Cadera; one of the world’s two moons is starting to peek over the edge of the stadium’s walls as they lift off again. The wind’s picked up, and Bodhi has to fight to keep the shuttle steady as it hovers over the stadium, even with the stabilizing wings folded back down. Luke is silent, gazing down at the sinuous and mostly unbroken line of the racecourse under Aquilaris’ moonlit waves.

“My uncle only ever told me my father was a navigator on a freighter,” Luke says, eventually. “He kept all of this from me—the reason I knew my father raced on Tatooine is because he slipped up once, when he was yelling at me about taking my speeder out to Beggar’s Canyon.” He looks at Bodhi, and his eyes are as watery and blue as the world curving away below them. “Thank you for giving me back this part of him.”

“You’re welcome,” Bodhi says, sincerely, and thinks, for the first time, Okay.

This is going to work.

*****

Togominda, the next planet, has nothing to do with Anakin Skywalker’s brief but illustrious podracing career, but Luke doesn’t mind at all, grinning at Bodhi as he weaves through the erupting salt geysers, showing off a little. It’s like flying through Bamayar, in a way—Bodhi pulls out of a dive and skims the surface of the planet, letting the Cadera spin in the eddies, not worrying about what the salt will do to the hull, the shields—not worrying about anything, because Luke is urging him on, exuberant.

“If a TIE got caught in one of those geysers—” Luke laughs.

“It’d be blown clear back out to space,” Bodhi says, smiling at him.

Luke smiles back. “We could use this as a training ground for X-wing pilots, for sure.” He shakes his head, his expression going fond—“Not just fighters. For any pilots.”

“Make a note of it for Draven,” Bodhi suggests, touched, and takes them soaring back up to the stars.

*****

He sleeps for a couple of hours in hyperspace between sectors, waking when they hit the Mon Gazza system—a brief dip into the Mid Rim—and Luke attempts, to no avail, to convince the paranoid spaceport authorities to let them land.

“I’m telling you, we are not Imperials—check the registry, there is no Imperial shuttle Cadera! We just want to visit the podraces—”

The voice on the other end is extremely suspicious. “Podracing is illegal. There’s no podracing going on here.”

Luke blows out a frustrated-sounding breath and says, “I know, but years ago there were, and we want—” The spaceport side clicks off, and Bodhi suppresses a snicker, coming fully awake as Luke slaps at the switch, complaining, “They hung up on me!”

“Maybe if you’d told them who you were?” Bodhi murmurs, amused. “I bet they’d take a bribe, no spice mining world is this above board.”

Luke’s mouth twitches. “You want to give it another try?”

Bodhi looks out the viewport at the dusty red world. “If they don’t want Imperials poking around, chances are they wouldn’t turn us both in, but—” He shrugs. “Maybe here’s not worth the risk.”

“It’d be hard to explain to Leia why we got picked up on a spice planet this far off course,” Luke agrees, and reverses for the Outer Rim again.

*****

It’s easy to avoid the spaceport on Shuldene, though; it’s a tiny outpost that only has an automated outgoing message directing tourists to the best viewing coordinates.

“We should find someplace else to land,” Luke says, and Bodhi nods, starting up a long range scan—but there’s only the barest handful of other ships on the planet’s surface, and it’s easy enough to put down somewhere on the ice well away from them.

“Probably shouldn’t base out of a tourist attraction, but—” Bodhi throws a curious glance at Luke. “Let’s go see what there is?”

Luke has no sense of balance on the icy, slick surface; his eyes go wide on his first step down as he starts to fall, clutching at Bodhi’s arm; Bodhi manages to grab onto the ramp’s struts and doesn’t tumble after him. “Are you all right?” he asks, hauling ineffectively at Luke’s jacket, trying not to laugh as Luke clambers upright again, looking flustered.

“Did you learn how to skate at the Academy, too?” Luke scowls, and playfully shoves Bodhi out onto the ice, dismayed when Bodhi slides to a stop a meter away without faltering.

“No, but I understand how a mostly frictionless surface works,” Bodhi says, lightly. “Can’t you use the Force to help?”

Luke blinks. “I don’t even know how that would help,” he says, and cautiously ventures out onto the ice again, slipping and crashing into Bodhi’s arms—Bodhi suspects it’s a bit deliberate, this time, but he doesn’t mind. “So—what’s out here?”

Bodhi pulls him around and points at the gracefully curving line of bones jutting out of the ice about twenty meters away. “That.”

“Okay, this is just as creepy as the fortress on Amaltanna,” Luke says, shuddering, when they get over to the creature frozen in the ice; they’d passed over a few other preserved animals, but none quite as large as the one Bodhi’s staring down at now. It’s a cetacean, or something like that, with a long tail curving down into the ice; he wonders if it had been coming to the surface for air, not knowing its world was dying, when it froze. The bones of its spine are only exposed above the ice; underneath, he can see that its flesh and mottled blue-black skin are still intact.

“Yeah,” Bodhi agrees, disturbed. “I hope—I hope it didn’t take long to die.” He contemplates the horror of it, lingering on and on, trapped, waiting for—

Bodhi—” Luke’s gazing at him anxiously, one gloved hand tight on his arm, and he realizes he’s been holding his breath, heart starting to thump unpleasantly in his chest.

“I’m all right,” he says, and exhales slowly. “Just got—stuck for a second. I’m sorry.”

Luke shakes his head, waving off the apology. “Come on, let’s go back. There’s nothing more for us here. ‘Sides—I hate the cold.”

Bodhi pulls off his glove and holds out his bare hand as they walk to gauge the temperature, grateful for the distraction. “It’s just about freezing,” he says, and shrugs, putting the glove back on. “It could be worse, it could be windy and snowing.”

Luke huffs a slightly embarrassed laugh. “Would you believe—”

Bodhi raises an eyebrow at him. “You’ve never seen snow?”

“No,” Luke says. “To be honest—all these places I’ve seen, it’s still hard for me to believe, sometimes, that there’s so much water, let alone water falling from the sky—the first time it rained on Yavin IV, Han gave me so much shit for just going and standing in it for hours.” He smiles at the memory, though, and Bodhi licks his lips unconsciously, imagining how Luke would’ve looked with his hair and clothes soaking wet in the jungle—Luke is staring at him keenly, hunched-up as he is under the furred hood of his cold-weather jacket.

Bodhi averts his eyes, and says, “It doesn’t have to be this cold to snow—I bet I can find a planet that’ll do.”

“I’d like that.” Luke puts an arm around his shoulders, warmly. “You really are taking me on quite the tour.”

“Don’t tell Draven,” Bodhi says wryly, and Luke laughs.

*****

They sleep in shifts again for the next couple of days, exploring empty sectors and checking off more uninhabitable worlds. Luke, endlessly curious, makes Bodhi reel off a list of all the planets he’s ever visited, asking a million questions about sentient species—Bodhi finally cracks, after hours of it, and says, slightly exasperated, “I will look up my xeno professor, and if they’re still alive and didn’t end up exiled or murdered by the Empire for harboring pro-alien sentiments, I will kick you out on their doorstep. I don’t know how an Ithorian metamorphoses, or why you only see Gamorreans using vibro-axes, or—”

Luke chuckles. “Didn’t pay enough attention in that class, huh?”

Bodhi makes a face at him. “I passed, didn’t I? It wasn’t like I was trying to become the Empire’s ambassador to non-human beings, I know enough not to be rude, I only ever wanted to—”

Fly,” Luke says, beaming at him affectionately, not put off in the least. “Okay—tell me about the Academy, then—” He goes on like this, wringing out every scrap of knowledge he can about the galaxy, staying judiciously away from anything Bodhi flinches at, until they're down to the last day before they really have to turn back. And then there's one final podrace track Bodhi wants to show him: the Abyss.

Ord Ibanna is a gas giant, its tibanna mining platforms long since converted over for the races. Bodhi hands his datapad over to Luke, saying, “Everyone hated the Abyss, except for Bozzie Baranta—” Out of the corner of his eye, he catches Luke opening his mouth to ask—“I have no idea what species he was, so please don’t start that again, but his Shelba Razor was supposed to be pretty well suited to this track.”

“Razors weren’t the fastest,” Luke observes, scrolling down the datapad. “Probably needed the maneuverability more than speed.” He turns the screen to show Bodhi the course map, tapping the first hairpin turn out of the stadium. “But my father beat him. Just over three minutes, including a track record on the second lap.” He whistles, softly. “Blast, how daring must he have been?”

Bodhi thinks, Just as bad as you, looking at the slender track suspended in the clouds. It seems collapsed in places, at first, but then he realizes the gaps are deliberate; the racers would’ve had to launch themselves across empty air, with nothing to save them if they failed. “And I thought crashing into the wall would be a bad way to go,” he says, absently.

Luke glances down. “You’d fall for a long time.”

“You’d only get through one atmospheric layer before you were crushed to death,” Bodhi corrects him. He licks his lips, and suggests, a little light-headed, “I think—I think we can fly this race.”

Luke jerks his head up, surprised. Bodhi hurries on, “The Cadera’s safer than a podracer, it's got better engines, and—and shields; if we go over the side it’ll be fine, just pull up before we hit the second layer of atmosphere—”

“I trust you,” Luke says, smiling.

“Oh, no.” Bodhi gets to his feet, standing over Luke, his mouth quirking up. “You’re gonna fly it.”

“You’re sure?”

Bodhi nods. “I’d leave the wings down for stabilization on those turns—you can cut the ions in whenever you want instead of the repulsorlifts, but don’t push the overdrive—”

“Okay, okay,” Luke says, laughing. He gets up to trade places with him, grazing a hand over Bodhi’s hip as they squeeze past each other. “You’re really sure about this?”

“I trust you,” Bodhi echoes him. “Don’t you want to try to beat your father’s record? Even if we’re the only ones who’ll know?”

“Seems like we’ve got an unfair advantage, with a better ship,” Luke says, but he straps in, hands light on the controls as they descend into Ord Ibanna’s stadium, the gas giant’s clouds hazy but not obscuring the track.

“It’s not as maneuverable,” Bodhi points out, setting up the ship’s chrono to time the splits, his heartbeat picking up speed as Luke settles into position at what they both assume is the starting line. “It’ll balance out.”

Luke swallows. “If you say so.” He throws Bodhi a look, his hands tightening around the Cadera’s controls. “Ready?”

Go,” Bodhi says, and Luke accelerates forward, grinning wildly as the engines fire—he takes the first hairpin far too fast, yelping “Sorry!” at Bodhi as the starboard wing scrapes sparks along the outer wall, but Bodhi doesn’t care, not when they’re pushing his ship’s top speeds, not when Luke looks like he’s forgotten everything but how to fly.

Luke goes to repulsorlifts only on the second, wider hairpin through the mining platform and narrowly avoids a plunge off the top track that has Bodhi’s heart in his throat—punches the engines back on and blasts around the next two winding curves through the derelict refinery, black and neon lines blurring past. Bodhi laughs, deliriously, his pulse jumping to lightspeed as Luke throws everything to full power on the straightaways. Gasps and scrabbles for something to hang on to when Luke fires the overdrive and tears up the incline, vaulting the first gap effortlessly—shouts “Luke—fuck—” in pure terror and exhilaration as they hit the second jump and soar out on nothing, slamming back down onto the narrowest section of the course with a jolt that makes the console flare with a dozen abortive warning lights.

“I got it, I got it,” Luke yells, throwing Bodhi the briefest of grins as they cross the line for the first lap—Bodhi sneaks a glance at the split, and hides a grin of his own. Yes, yes, he’s going to be so thrilled—

The second lap goes smoother; Luke hauls hard on the controls and cuts out the engines on both hairpin turns, losing time but making most of it back on the straightaways. Bodhi tears his gaze from the course and just watches Luke through the entire third lap, his heart leaping at the way Luke throws his head back and whoops with giddy abandon as the shuttle roars through the turns in the refinery.

I found a way to make it fair.

Luke's eyes shine as he sends the Cadera diving through the clouds across the last gap and soars across the finish line—Bodhi slaps hastily at the chrono—spinning a little out of control when he shuts down the repulsorlifts, laughing and shaking his head in amazement. “What I wouldn't give to get you in an X-wing so we could both race,” Luke says, releasing the controls. He leans over as far as he can, beckoning Bodhi to meet him halfway, and kisses him joyfully. “Did everything hold up okay? Engines, shields—sorry about that bump on the first lap—”

“Nothing's damaged,” Bodhi tells him, dizzily aware that he's trembling with both adrenaline and—and desire, for this beautiful, unbelievable man, whose first thought after pulling off an impossible feat is for me“Do you want to know your time?”

“Oh!” Luke sits up straight. “Yes, please.”

“Two minutes and fifty-two seconds.”

“I beat my father's time?” Luke cranes his neck in disbelief to see the chrono. “Really ?”

“Yeah,” Bodhi assures him. His mouth is dry, his heartbeat not slowing down in the slightest. Okay, okay, I want— “You even beat his lap record.”

“What—what do I win?” Luke asks, brushing his hair off his forehead, licking his lips hopefully.

Bodhi gulps, and says, softly, making the offer as clear in his mind as he can, so Luke will feel it—“Whatever you want.”

Luke gapes at him, and he starts to launch out of the chair, his eyes blazing. He jostles the controls by accident with his elbow, and flails hastily to right the shuttle—babbles, “Um—I’m going to put us into orbit—”

“Okay,” Bodhi says, and tries to focus, calm down a little, watching the clouds of Ord Ibanna falling away. He can’t orient himself, even when they’re between the world and the stars, but it doesn’t matter, because Luke is the bright center of his galaxy, and he’s right here, now.

“You’re sure?” Luke asks, for what seems like the millionth time, as he unstraps from the pilot’s seat again, reaching over and touching Bodhi's hand as he rises to his feet.

Bodhi glances over the Cadera’s computer display, making sure they’re safe. “It’s—it’s more fair,” Bodhi says, not caring that Luke doesn’t seem to understand, getting up and pushing him gently towards the side of the cockpit. Luke stumbles, a little, and Bodhi grabs his shirt, hauling himself along, pressing forward until he’s got Luke backed all the way against the bulkhead. Luke’s mouth is open, his eyes dazzled, and Bodhi kisses him then, fervent, hands roaming down, flattening his palm to trace the hard line of him through his pants—Luke moans and squirms, and Bodhi laughs against his lips. “Okay?”

Blast, please—” Luke’s hands are in Bodhi’s hair, dragging their mouths back together.

“This is what you wanted, right?” Bodhi murmurs, getting past the buttons of Luke’s pants and wrapping a hand around his length, thumb caressing up and down gently.

Luke gasps, “Yes—” and makes an attempt to get his own hands on Bodhi, but he’s quicker, for once, and traps Luke’s hands on the bulkhead above them. He keeps his strokes infuriatingly slow; Luke whines, desperate, trying to thrust forward, but Bodhi simply twists slightly and pins Luke’s hip with his own, doing his level best to keep from grinding up against Luke’s thigh, no matter how much he wants to. “I thought pilots were all about speed,” Luke gasps. “Come on—”

Bodhi just grins and kisses Luke’s neck, scraping the line of his beard along his throat, liking the sound that escapes Luke’s mouth at that. “Is that how you accept a prize? Complaining about how it’s delivered?”

Luke manages, sarcastically, “Well, I thought I got to pick.” Bodhi, amused, lets go of him and puts a bit of space between them, still holding onto Luke’s wrists, their heads close together, and Luke complains, “Don’t—hey—” He licks at Bodhi’s ear, nipping at his neck, but Bodhi leans away, fascinated by the need in Luke’s face. Luke arches his back, trying to regain contact, and suddenly Bodhi’s yanked forward by an unseen force—no, the Force—so that he’s pressed fully up against Luke, startled into releasing him completely in order to catch his own balance.

“Did you just—?” Bodhi sputters, but Luke’s beyond hearing; his eyes are intense as he pulls at Bodhi’s shirt, unbuttoning his pants, getting an insistent and very impatient hand around them both, smooth warm skin on skin.

Luke—oh, my stars—it’s not a race— ” Bodhi gasps, striving vainly to hold himself together, but Luke gets there first anyway, crying out, shuddering, pressing his face against Bodhi’s shoulder for a moment.

And then he lifts his head, and Bodhi has barely the space of a heartbeat to register how blown Luke’s pupils are, before Luke’s shoving him back into the pilot’s chair, getting on his knees despite the confined space, and—Bodhi squeezes his eyes shut, trying to remind himself to keep breathing as Luke’s warm, wet mouth closes around him.

But Luke pulls off abruptly, and says, “What if I did this while you were flying?” Bodhi’s eyes fly open, looking at Luke’s flushed, delighted face; he grips the armrest tightly and groans, willing himself not to come just at the thought.

Luke laughs, lowering his head back down, and spends one complete orbit of the planet leisurely finding out all the things Bodhi likes, reducing him to incoherent pleading, and finally making Bodhi shatter to pieces with a startled cry when he does something truly unfair with his tongue. Bodhi gasps through it, mesmerized by the line of Luke’s throat pulsing as he swallows, drowning in the light of Luke’s eyes.

Then Luke pulls away again, resting his head against Bodhi’s thigh, looking very pleased with himself, eyes going languorously half-lidded. Bodhi tangles his fingers in Luke’s hair, and mutters, doing up his pants with his other hand and trying to regain his equilibrium, “And here—here I thought you were such a sweet farm boy.”

Luke huffs a laugh and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. “Farm boys get bored,” he says, frowning down at his shirt, which still sticks obscenely to him. “As do cargo pilots, I imagine?”

Bodhi leans his head back against the headrest, still breathing hard. “Well, yeah,” he admits.

“Good,” Luke says, and flashes a happy grin at him. “I’m looking forward to our next race.”

*****

There's time enough after Ord Ibanna to swing through one more sector; Bodhi manages to jump in between the sixth planet and the system’s asteroid belt, relieved he doesn’t have to try to navigate the latter, as interesting a challenge as that would be. Luke is both apprehensive and elated at the world coming up on the viewport, because—

“It's covered in snow,” he says, shivering reflexively. “What's this system called?”

“Hoth, I think,” Bodhi mutters, searching for bare rock to put down on, in the mountains; flying by sensors only, through a blizzard, is not his idea of a good time, but he doesn’t trust the depth or stability of the snowpack on the plains below. He settles the Cadera on a wide ledge, turned into the wind. “Oh, this is gonna be a lot colder than Shuldene, sorry.”

“That's all right,” Luke says cheerfully, shrugging into his cold-weather jacket. “We’ll just have a quick look around, and then we’ll come back and warm each other up?”

“I’ll take that suggestion under advisement,” Bodhi replies, smiling at Luke’s blushing, hopeful face.

The quick look turns into a half-hour trek to find a decent spot from which to scan. Luke is entertained by the snow for about ten minutes, letting it catch in his hair and eyelashes, and then he goes quiet, pulling his hood up, edging along the rocky, snowy slope a couple of steps behind Bodhi, occasionally swearing when a particularly icy gust threatens to push him over. The blizzard doesn’t let up, affecting Bodhi’s handheld scanner, and ultimately the best he can do, as the evening draws in, is note that there are possibly caverns inside the mountains, and some poor mammals—they might be reptiles, it's hard to tell—making a very meager go of it on the frozen plains.

He turns back to Luke—startled to realize that what little he can see of Luke’s face inside his hood and scarf is alarmingly bloodless, and Bodhi only grows more anxious on the walk back to the shuttle as Luke stumbles haltingly over the rocks. This was a bad idea—should’ve just turned around and gone home instead of coming here—

Luke grabs his hand, clumsily, shaking his head. “I’m okay!” he shouts over the wind, a bit muffled but still understandable, and Bodhi’s worry lessens a fraction, though he tries to hurry them along.

“I just really f—fucking hate the cold,” Luke stammers, once they’re safely back inside the ship, the ramp closing up behind them.

Bodhi strips his own coat off and wraps it around Luke’s shoulders, running up into the cockpit to get the heat going full blast, calling back, “I’m sorry—” He looks out at the snow falling in the shuttle’s headlights as he keys for the preflight sequence—

shit.

Luke shuffles into the cockpit, looking less frighteningly pale but still shivering, complaining, “My hands feel like they’re going to fall off.” He blows on them vainly, and then glances at Bodhi’s stricken face. “What’s wrong?”

“Engines won’t start,” Bodhi says, trying again, his heart skipping a beat as he hears the ions whine and fail. “The temperature dropped too fast when it got dark. We’re stuck here.”

“Oh,” Luke says, sitting down in the co-pilot’s chair, hunching into his and Bodhi’s jackets. “Huh. Okay.”

Bodhi clenches his fists, afraid, and then attempts to start the engines a third time. Come on, come on—“Fucking blast it to oblivion—” He looks at Luke again. “You’re not at all concerned about this?”

“No,” Luke says, and his eyes are very, very bright. “I’m with you.” He tugs his scarf down from his nose and mouth so he can smile at Bodhi. “We just have to wait until dawn, right?”

“I hope so,” Bodhi says, and he bites his lip, recognizing the eager expression on Luke’s face—“Oh, let me guess, you’ve got a couple of ideas about what to do until then?”

“You bet I do,” Luke says, but then he shivers violently again.

Bodhi frowns. “Are you still cold?” Luke makes a face, nodding. “Okay. Give me my coat back, and come here.” They get resettled, huddling together kind of sideways in the pilot’s seat under their two layers of jackets, Luke trying and failing to tuck his bare feet up under him at the edge of the chair.

Ah—your hands are freezing, don’t touch me—” Bodhi struggles, half-heartedly, to get away from Luke’s attempt to get into his pants, hissing as Luke settles for resting his hand under Bodhi’s shirt.

“I’m trying to get warm,” Luke protests, licking delicately at the curve of Bodhi’s ear, unabashedly grinding against his thigh. Bodhi lets him, for a while, the friction slowly building him up to a pleasant heat, too. But he's tired; they both are, and eventually Luke ceases rocking his hips against him and just burrows his face into the crook of Bodhi's neck with a soft sigh.

“Warm enough now?” Bodhi murmurs, putting his arms around him, watching the snow fall silently out the viewport.

“Yeah.” Luke presses his lips against Bodhi's skin. “Thanks for bringing me out here and showing me all this.”

“Even if it meant you almost froze to death?” Bodhi says, wryly.

“I'd stay out there for hours, if it meant I got to spend the rest of the night with you.” Luke shifts around a little to look into Bodhi's eyes, bringing one hand up to gently cup his face. “I mean it. You've given me the galaxy, when the only thing I wanted—” He smiles, ruefully—“When we first met, anyway, I only wanted you to tell me about what you did to make it possible to stop the Death Star.”

Bodhi ducks his head and Luke catches at his hand, twining their fingers together, continuing, “After—after everything that happened, I wanted you to trust me—and then I just wanted you. But you've given me so much —” Bodhi stops Luke's mouth with his own, kissing him like his heart would break if he didn't.

“It's only fair,” Bodhi murmurs, as they pull apart again, huffing a laugh into the shared space of their breath, resting his forehead against Luke's. “Do you have any idea what a ship like this costs?”

“You're more than worth it,” Luke promises, sincerely, and there's nothing Bodhi can do except kiss him again.

It’s enough.

Chapter Text

Back at the Redemption, nearly ten hours overdue, Luke looks out of the viewport and says, lightly, “I told you it’d be all right—Leia’s not the welcoming committee.” Bodhi leans over to look, too, and Wedge is smiling at something Jyn said; neither of them look nearly as tense as he’d feared they might. But Bodhi still twists his fingers together nervously as he and Luke walk down the ramp to meet them; everything that had seemed like such a good idea at the time is starting to pile up in his head with consequences

Luke turns his head, murmuring, “They’re not mad, I promise,” making Bodhi wonder just how casually Luke draws on the Force in his everyday life; he hadn’t moved anything except Bodhi himself, the one time, and he certainly hadn’t used it to help them get off of Hoth, a couple hours prior.

“Did you find what you were looking for?” Jyn asks, her eyes amused as she snakes one arm around his waist.

“Yeah—yeah,” Bodhi says, breathing a little easier. “Everything I hoped.”

Wedge slaps Luke on the back cheerfully. “Does that mean you two finally—”

Luke clears his throat and looks surprisingly stern. “Wedge.” Jyn smirks, and Bodhi suspects there might be credits riding on the answer again, between the two of them.

“Right, sorry, Luke, none of my business,” Wedge says, not sounding contrite in the slightest, and continuing to watch Bodhi with prurient amusement. “Anyway, hate to split you two up, but I’ve got orders to get Luke in Leia’s sights as soon as possible—”

“—and Draven and Cassian and I want you,” Jyn says to Bodhi. He bites his lip, but her eyes aren’t giving anything away.

“I’ll come right back and help you run that engine diagnostic,” Luke promises. Wedge grins at them, and as the two pilots walk off, Bodhi distinctly hears Wedge say “Is that what you’re calling—”

Jyn moves her arm so she can link through Bodhi’s; not quite like she’s worried he’ll try to bolt if she doesn’t have a hand on him, but also not as if it’s just a friendly gesture. “So you know—we did have to tell Draven what you were up to,” she says, too casually, walking them in the opposite direction. “He was starting to lose his shit, about four or five hours ago, wondering if you’d kidnapped Luke and run straight back to the Empire.”

“Oh, fuck.” Bodhi’s eyes widen, and he almost freezes up completely in horror.

“Don’t worry, we talked him down from that idea, but he might have a hard time looking you in the eye for a while. Bit of a cold fish, that one; I don’t think he’s gotten laid in—”

Jyn,” Bodhi says, his horror transmuting into—a slightly different kind of horror.

“Just tell him about the places you scouted for the new base, and then we’ll tell you all about what we’re planning.” Jyn shrugs as she slaps at the turbolift controls. “And then you can get back to your precious ship, and your precious Jedi, for a little while. Did you find a beach for me?”

“Only if you like your oceans frozen over and filled with dead things,” Bodhi offers wryly.

“I think I’ll pass, thanks.” Once they’re alone in the turbolift, out of earshot of anyone, Jyn lets go of him, leans in and mutters, “So?”

“We managed to get to two planets where his father raced,” Bodhi replies, rubbing the back of his neck. 

And?”

“And someone really ought to give Luke unrestricted access to a console hooked up to the Alliance databanks, because there are a lot of gaps in his knowledge—”

Jyn rolls her eyes and gently slaps at his shoulder, and Bodhi relents, unable to hide a smile from her any longer. “He didn’t know anything about Anakin’s podracing, Jyn, he was so—it was—I can’t even begin to tell you—”

“Okay, okay, you don’t have to tell me.” Jyn smiles back. “Just give me enough to tell Wedge so I can win our bet?”

“What? No!” Bodhi yelps, as the turbolift doors open and they exit towards the temporary Intelligence offices. “Blast, you did bet on—on—”

Jyn snorts a laugh. “It kept your Rogues distracted from plotting revenge for that little stunt you pulled before you left,” she says. “Which, by the way, very nice, it took them a good thirty hours to crack it.”

“Thank you, I think,” Bodhi says, and then adds, thoughtfully, “D’you think Kaytoo would be amenable to standing guard over the Cadera for a couple of nights?”

“I wouldn’t worry too much about that,” Jyn says, her face going blank and cryptic once more, as they reach Draven’s office, where Cassian waits inside. Cassian’s leaning against the back of a chair, frowning down at a datapad in his hand, but he greets Bodhi with a warm embrace and a swift kiss on the cheek. “Hi.”

“Welcome back, Lieutenant,” Draven says, and Jyn was right; the general can’t quite make eye contact with Bodhi, his gaze fixed on a point somewhere over Bodhi’s right shoulder.

“I’m sorry we’re late, sir.” Bodhi snaps stiffly to attention, ignoring that the best he can. “But I can report about a few potential worlds.” He pulls a datapad out of his jacket and offers it to Draven. “The last one’s where we were stuck overnight because my ship’s engines froze—Luke still thinks it would work out all right if we built along the equator to to take advantage of the warmest region, such as it is.”

Draven nods, skimming the report. “I’ll pass this up to Admiral Ackbar.” He sets the datapad down on his desk. “Did Jyn catch you up on what we’ve been planning in your absence?”

“Didn’t have a chance to,” Jyn says. “Cass, you want to do the honors? It’s your homeworld, after all.” Her face and the genial tone of her voice abruptly don’t match. Cassian’s expression is somber again, too.

(“Nothing there for me.”)

Cassian folds his arms over his chest and sighs. “Karrde gave us a bunch of intel on this Moff, do you remember? Right before he warned us off Thila Base. It’s a man named Kohl Seerdon; we’ve been tracking movements in the sectors he controls ever since then.”

Draven looks Bodhi in the eye. “Ever hear of him?” Bodhi shakes his head apologetically, and Draven’s gaze slides off him again. “Fair enough. The Empire’s got every jumped-up despotic governor in the galaxy scrambling for power like krillcrabs in a bucket; one pops up and gets shot down faster than you can blink. But Seerdon’s a cut above—he’s been stepping up production on Taloraan, Fest, and Sullust. We think he might be preparing a significant offensive, especially because he’s deployed so many troops to Fest over the last week and a half.”

“Why? What’s on Fest?” Bodhi asks, a sliver of familiar dread creeping into his mind at the way Jyn’s started to touch her necklace as she looks at him.

Cassian’s mouth tightens, and he hesitates before answering. “A major weapons research facility.”

Bodhi’s breath catches in his throat. I'm sorry, Galen. “Oh,” he says, softly, putting his hands behind his back so Draven won’t see how they tremble. “Do you know—is it like the one on Eadu? I can—I remember the layout, I can tell Luke—um—Rogue Squadron where to hit—”

Draven glances at him, brow furrowing slightly. “Rogue Squadron’s going after Taloraan’s tibanna mines at the same time your team will be infiltrating the facility on Fest, which should keep Seerdon’s attention off you.”

“We’re going to find out what the hell Seerdon’s been building.” Jyn says, her fingers curling around the crystal on her necklace. “And if we can—we’ll destroy it.” Her eyes shine with a fervor Bodhi remembers from her desperate, failed speech in front of the Council on Yavin IV; from the moment they’d parted ways on Scarif, determined to win.

He breathes out slowly, shallowly, and nods. I can do this. “When do we go?”

“Tomorrow,” Draven says.

“My—my ship’s not going to be ready—” Bodhi protests, startled.

Cassian’s shaking his head. “Jyn’s put together a whole team. We’ll need your other ship.” He smiles, a little crookedly, at Bodhi. “Kaytoo’s prepping for us now.”

“Okay,” Bodhi says, and swallows. “I’ll be ready, then.”

Draven’s watching him closely again. “All right, Cassian, Jyn, I signed off on your team, so we’re done here. Bodhi, I'd like to speak with you in private.”

Bodhi tenses up. Jyn doesn’t move, and Cassian looks between him and Draven, frowning. “Sir—”

“Relax, Cassian.” Draven shakes his head. “I’ll send him back to you in one piece.”

“We’ll be right outside,” Jyn says, touching Bodhi’s arm as she leaves, shooting Draven a wary glance.

Bodhi straightens up as precisely as he can once his friends are out of the office, and says, fast, feeling like he wants to leap out of his skin with nervousness, “Sir, I—I swear I’ll be fine, I’m not—”

“Afraid?” Draven's mouth twists. “Oh, yes, you are, but that's all right, I know you'll do what needs to be done. But that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.” He rubs his face with a hand, and visibly steels himself. “I’ve been given to understand that Luke Skywalker cares for you a great deal.”

Bodhi doesn’t think his eyes can get any wider; this conversation feels like he’s flying dark over an unfamiliar world, where he’ll never be able to pull up in time—

“Look, I don’t give a damn what you do in your personal life,” Draven says, flatly. “But I am compelled to give you a warning. If the Empire ever finds out who you are to Luke, they will use you to get to him.”

Bodhi clenches his hands into fists behind his back and tries to steady. Don’t panic. Luke will know, and that only proves his point.

“You understand? It’s what I’d do. I would send every last person in the Rebellion after Darth Vader’s loved ones, if he had any. If I thought it would give us some kind of chance to put an end to that monster.” Draven’s voice is chilling. “Your friends will protect you as far as they can, but you have to know the Empire will stop at nothing to find and destroy the last of the Jedi.”

Bodhi’s heart is pounding as he takes in Draven’s warning; but then he looks—really looks—at the general, for the first time. Draven’s maybe two decades older than he is, which means— “Sir—did you serve with the Jedi in the Republic? Did you—did you have to—”

“I never met any of them,” Draven says. “But I was already an officer with Intelligence.” He continues, his shuttered expression telling Bodhi to leave it be, “There’s nothing I can say that will keep you from taking risks, Bodhi, I know that. Just—be careful. You’re smart, and fast. Maybe it’ll be enough to keep you from getting caught.”

“I—I understand, sir.” Bodhi licks his dry lips, thinking of—nothing.  

“Then you have your orders, Lieutenant.” Draven smiles tightly at him, and he’s dismissed.

In the corridor, Jyn pushes off the wall, scrutinizing Bodhi’s face. “Luke didn’t come crashing in, so we figured everything must be going all right in there,” she says, a touch sardonically, walking beside him back towards the lift.

“What did he want with you?” Cassian asks.

Bodhi shakes his head; he feels off-balance all of a sudden, wishing things would go back to being as simple as flying around empty space. “Just to give me a warning about staying off the Empire’s radar.”

Cassian frowns as they go down a couple of decks in the turbolift. “Does he think you shouldn’t come to Fest tomorrow after all? Kaytoo and I can manage—”

“No, no,” Bodhi says, quickly. “I’ll come, of course I’ll come help,” and Jyn smiles up at him.

“Good,” Cassian says, and squeezes his arm. “We’ll need you.”

*****

“Everything looks good on my end,” Luke reports, a short while later in the Cadera, flipping toggles in quick succession and grinning sidelong at Bodhi. “A night out in the cold couldn’t touch the Cadera, she’s tough. SFS might be on the wrong side of the war, but they know their ships.”

Bodhi nods, and says, absently, “If High Command does end up picking Hoth, though, I don’t know what you’d fly there, your X-wing’s not rated for that far below freezing.”

“I’m sure someone in mechanical will figure it out,” Luke says, and leans over to prod Bodhi gently on the arm. “Hey. Are you still here with me?”

Bodhi shakes his head, as if to clear it. “Yeah. Yeah, sorry. Just—thinking about—” Draven’s warning, and something Baze said—“Going to Fest tomorrow.”

“It’s not as cold as Hoth, at least,” Luke offers. “I know Cassian doesn’t think of it as home, not anymore, but I bet there’s still places he’ll want to take you and Jyn.”

“I hadn’t thought about that,” Bodhi says. “I—huh.”

“What?”

Bodhi’s mouth quirks up. “Are there places you’d want to take me, on Tatooine?”

Luke glances down, his hair falling in his eyes, and seconds too late, Bodhi remembers the first names on his nightmare list of the dead—“Besides the ruins of the old podracing course in Beggar’s Canyon? Not really much else worth seeing.” But he smiles up at Bodhi again, and says, lightly, “So tomorrow I’m going to Taloraan, and you’re going to Fest, and we’re working on your ship again instead of doing something more fun, why, exactly?

Bodhi blinks at him. “What did you have in mi—oh. Um.” He warms, a bit, at the look in Luke’s eyes.

“We’re alone,” Luke says, hopefully, starting to lean in. “I mean, we’re not alone, we’re on a frigate with eighteen hundred other people, but right here—”

“Hey, are you two decent in there?” Solo shouts up the ramp, and Luke jerks back, startled. “Put some pants on, I’m coming in.”

“Did you really have to yell so the whole ship could hear?” Luke swivels around in the co-pilot’s chair to frown at his friend. Bodhi scrunches down in his own seat, trying to make himself as unobtrusive as possible out the viewport, though he doesn’t think anyone’s actually looking up at them.

Solo shrugs. “Not like everyone doesn’t know you ran off alone together again. What’s going on, Bodhi, this guy been treating you right?” Bodhi stifles a smile as Luke slowly turns red.

“What do you want, Han?”

“I got wind of your two little excursions tomorrow,” Solo says. “Thought I’d come see which of you wanted me ‘n Chewie to tag along.” He grins, and slings an arm over the back of one of the other jump seats. “Hanging around this floating hospital’s getting to be kinda boring.”

“Oh, stars, you and Kaytoo really do get along,” Bodhi mutters, shaking his head, and then, louder, “You’d have to ask Cassian or Jyn, I’m just—”

“The pilot, I know, but neither of them’s answering their comlink, didn’t wanna interrupt something.” Solo’s grin broadens. “You two, on the other hand, left your ramp wide open for anybody to walk in.”

“And anybody can just turn around and walk back out,” Luke says, pointedly.

“So that’s a no, then? Okay. I’ll just take my finely-honed instincts, my Wookiee warrior best friend, and my fastest ship in the galaxy and shove—”

Luke is rubbing his forehead and laughing. “You’re really this bored? Go talk to one of the generals—”

“—Or Leia,” Bodhi suggests, wickedly, and Solo shoots him a death glare.

“—and get them to put your instincts to better use than barging in on—”

“Ah,” Solo says, and smirks. “So I was interrupting something.” Luke shuts up, blushing furiously, and then his comlink chirps before he can find more with which to snipe at Solo.

“Master Luke, Artoo insists you come down here and help him recalibrate your X-wing’s sensors instead of—Artoo, I will not say that, that’s highly inappropriate, and quite the assumption about Lieutenant Rook’s preferred—” Bodhi’s eyes go wide; Solo is chuckling loudly, shaking his head.

Luke jams his thumb on the switch hastily, cutting Threepio off. “I’m on my way,” he says, throwing a regretful look in Bodhi’s direction. “I’ll be right back, don’t—don’t go anywhere?”

Bodhi nods, a little appalled at the growing number of people—and droids—who insist on speculating, and Luke flashes a quick smile and shoves out past Solo, his footsteps ringing off the ramp below them.

“So things have been moving right along, huh,” Solo says, and Bodhi lets his head fall back against the headrest.

“Oh good, you’re still here.”

“Yeah, I am,” Solo agrees, sitting in the jump seat, kicking his boots up on the back of Bodhi’s chair with a soft thump. And then, as if it’s been weighing on his mind for a while, he says, “You know, kid, I gotta say, you really fucked this up for the rest of us.”

Bodhi jerks upright and stares at him over his shoulder. “What? I—I—what?

“You and your grand romantic gesture.” Solo folds his arms and scowls. “Exploring the most scenic planets this side of the Core, all alone in your little ship? Taking Luke out to see the glory days of his dead father? Come on, Luke’s not that hard to impress.”

Bodhi gapes at him.

“Now you’ve gone and set this example, none of us regular people can hold a glow rod to that kind of shit—”

“Hey,” Bodhi interrupts. “Don’t blame me for whatever didn’t work with her.” Solo sputters, indignant, but Bodhi ignores that, knowing he’s right. “Luke stole a ship worth two hundred and forty thousand credits and gave it to me. I had to do something.”

Solo slumps backwards. “Fair enough.”

“I’m sorry Leia wasn’t impressed, though,” Bodhi says, after a moment.

“Yeah, me too,” Solo mumbles. Then he brightens up. “Well, as long as I’m keeping you company, show me what you’ve been working on.”

“When Luke comes back—”

Solo holds his hands up placatingly. “I’m gone, I promise.”

But he’s called away sooner than that, by Leia—Solo tries to hide the way his face lights up at the sound of her voice, but it’s such an obvious tell that Bodhi mentally files it away for if they ever do play sabacc.

Which leaves Bodhi alone, for the first time in what feels like days. His thoughts drift as he works; there’s a few things he’s figured out from the Cadera’s problems with the cold that might be useful, if they do end up on Hoth. Shielding helps, but only if it’s been rated for below freezing and not defective, like on the Zeta-class cargo shuttles he’d flown for the Empire—like the one he’s flying for his friends, to Fest.

Where— we’re going to have to put a stop to the Empire’s weapons of destruction, just like we started. Only this time, Cassian and Jyn and Kaytoo are friends, aren’t just a team of strangers making a suicidally desperate bid for salvation. But if it goes bad—

No. Bodhi drags his mind off of Draven’s warning, rubbing his wrists unconsciously.

He thinks the team probably means Baze and Chirrut again, too, and wonders if they’ll be able to tell that things have changed between him and Luke, if they’ll gossip like the old men smoking cigarras in the doorways of Jedha City. If Baze will try to warn him again about what the Force has in store, if it means—

Too many ifs.

Bodhi looks at his shaking hands, discovering he’d stopped working entirely, his thoughts pulling him down into an all-too recognizable spiral of anxiety.

This is how they’ll use me to get to Luke—

He’s vaguely aware his breathing is going short and shallow, and squeezes his eyes shut, willing his panic to subside. Pull up. Don’t make Luke worry for nothing.

Okay, okay. Bodhi clenches his hands around the Cadera’s controls, hoping the physicality of the action, even if he’s not actually going anywhere, will help. I need something to put back together, a problem to fix besides myself—

“Hoth,” Bodhi says, and swallows, hating the way his voice goes dull in his own ears, but trying to push through, focus on the problem. “How is Luke going to fly on Hoth? No—what is Luke going to fly on Hoth?” None of the types of the Rebellion’s increasingly battered fighters are cut out for the sub-zero temperatures; none of them have the kind of shielding and armor the Cadera has, either, and its own drive had been useless once night fell.

“Because I shut it off,” Bodhi realizes. “If I’d left it running—” He looks around for a datapad to draw a power flow schematic, thinking about how a hyperdrive regulator sheds excess heat, barely noticing his heart has stopped pounding in his chest.

And that’s how Luke finds him, when he comes back, hours later; erasing failed diagrams and calculations that lead to warm-enough engines but exploded hyperdrives, muttering formulas to himself like he’s back at the Academy, cramming for the last final of the term.

“Oh, good, Han left,” Luke says, and Bodhi blinks up at him, still trying to work out how to bypass the—“Have you been working this whole time?”

“I had an idea,” Bodhi mumbles, saving his place on the datapad.

“So did I, if you recall.” Luke’s leaning down, close enough that Bodhi can smell engine grease and sweat, neither of which are unpleasant, on him. “But it’s getting late, and we’ve both got an early start tomorrow. Are you going to sleep here? Wedge said there’s some bunks freed up, now, if you want a real bed instead of—”

Bodhi shakes his head. “I’ll stay.” He narrows his eyes. “Wedge said?” 

“Yeah.”

Bodhi frowns, briefly contemplating what they could possibly be setting him up for now. “Then I’m definitely staying here.” 

“Then I’m staying, too,” Luke says, and Bodhi smiles, a little, and hits the controls to close the ramp.

Chapter Text

When Bodhi wakes, tangled in his bedroll, to the chime of the Cadera’s chrono going off, Luke is warm, up against his back. His face is buried in Bodhi’s hair where it’s coming loose from its tie at his neck, and one arm is tucked warmly under Bodhi’s left elbow. Luke’s soft, rhythmic breath on the back of his neck tickles; Bodhi eases his right arm out from under his head, turning onto his back, and laces his fingers through Luke’s, to hold his hand over his heart.

He wills himself to stay relaxed, keeping his thoughts still and quiet as he can to let Luke sleep, not sure if that’s really how it works, but trying nonetheless. The sight of the gunmetal-gray bulkheads of his ship will never be as beautiful as the lightning clouds of Bamayar IX, or the way a winter sunrise gilded the stone walls of Jedha City, but as his waking minute stretches out into memory, Bodhi thinks he’d let Saw’s monster have those in a heartbeat, to stay here with Luke at his side, a sense of serenity within his grasp.

There’s some clatter from the hangar outside the Cadera as flight crews start prepping X-wings. Someone laughs, and an astromech screeches at some indignity; Luke makes a soft, unintelligible sound, and presses his face more insistently into the crook of Bodhi’s neck. “I still have that idea,” Luke mumbles, angling his hips to nudge inquisitively at him.

“We'll be late,” Bodhi whispers back, amused, though he has a fleeting, tempting vision of Luke kissing his way down—Luke lifts his head sharply, smiling, but he doesn't pursue it any further right away, getting up and stripping his undershirt off.

The shadows of the cargo hold define every muscle of Luke’s arms and back as he strolls back to the Cadera’s tiny 'fresher, cringing as his bare feet touch the cold floor, stepping casually out of his shorts as he goes—“Okay, okay,” Bodhi says, hastily, and scrambles out of his bedroll, shedding his own sleeping clothes as fast as he can, and chases after Luke into the shower.

Luke grins. “Pilots and speed, remember? We won't be late—” Bodhi collides with him, then, dragging their bodies together under the shower spray. Luke clutches back, ducking his head to kiss Bodhi’s neck, hard enough to leave a mark, his hands roaming haphazardly as Bodhi ruts up against him, gone all slippery with water and the soap on Luke’s skin. “And anyway, what’re they going to do, leave without—ah—” He lets his head fall onto Bodhi’s shoulder and finishes, panting, “—us—” Bodhi laughs softly, dizzily, and flies over the edge after him.

Some sense of propriety finally comes back to Luke, once they’re dry, because he doesn’t try to touch Bodhi again while they’re getting dressed, only watches curiously as Bodhi zips up his old flightsuit. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you wear that before,” he says, hooking his lightsaber onto his belt. “I didn’t realize you still had it.”

Bodhi hesitates as he closes the seal at his neck. “It’s—it’s a reminder.”

“Oh.” Luke’s brow furrows.

“I guess it reminds me of the things I—” Bodhi starts again, uncertainly.

Luke tucks his helmet under his arm. “You don’t have to explain.” But his expression’s still slightly confused; Bodhi thinks it’s because of the way Luke treats his past, like his life started over when the calendar did, the moment he fired into the heart of the Death Star.

“I will, if you want,” Bodhi says, slowly. “I tried to explain it to Jyn, once, but I don’t think I made it very clear.”

Luke looks at him for a moment. “It doesn’t bother you the way seeing Wedge’s old uniform did?”

Bodhi shakes his head. “This is—part of me.”

“Then I do want you to tell me about it,” Luke says, earnestly, reaching over and touching Bodhi’s arm. He catches a glimpse of the ship’s chrono—“But it can wait until we get back, because we are late!”

The Redemption’s briefing room is shaped like an amphitheatre, and there’s not nearly enough people in it for their tardiness to go unnoticed. In the front, Draven lifts his eyes to the ceiling, giving his head a little shake, but Rieekan just gestures them to their respective teams. Luke throws a brief smile at Bodhi and crosses the room to sit with his squadron; Jyn beckons Bodhi over to her. Neither of the Guardians are sitting at her side, just Roja and a couple of people who look vaguely familiar but whom he can’t quite place, and all of them are wearing shapeless Imperial coveralls like his own, though theirs are the gray of technicians’ uniforms.

Solo, lounging in the back row with Chewbacca, eyes him up and down, and then turns to look at Luke, and Bodhi’s eyes go wide as he realizes the smuggler’s scrutinizing—

—the mark on my neck, the way Luke’s turning red under his gaze—

Solo snorts and says, “Yeah.” He prods Janson in the back with the toe of his boot, holding out his open palm; Janson turns around, sighing, and slaps a credit chip into it. Luke rolls his eyes, and Bodhi hears him start to say, “Do I have to order— ” before Rieekan’s clearing his throat and cueing up a shimmering holo projection of a gas planet.

“Where’s Cassian and Kaytoo?” Bodhi whispers to Jyn, as Rieekan goes over the Taloraan side of the mission, Solo unable to stop himself from offering color commentary, as usual, this time something to do with the volatile nature of the tibanna gas mining plant they’re hitting.

“Not off doing what you and Luke were doing,” Jyn mutters back, smirking. He frowns at her, half-heartedly, and she relents. “Kaytoo wasn’t happy about having to wear a restraining bolt, but I guess it’s a regulation on Fest now. They’re working on a compromise.” Bodhi blinks at her in dismay; he can’t imagine Kaytoo forced to follow anyone’s orders. Reprogramming might have made Kaytoo loyal to the Rebellion, loyal to Cassian, but the prospect of his friend losing his free will altogether is deeply unsettling.

“Any more questions, Captain Solo?” Rieekan asks.

Solo shrugs a shoulder. “Yeah. Where’s Princess Leia? She’s the one who signed me up for this thing.” Bodhi turns to blink at him. Chewbacca’s put a paw over his face, as if he can’t believe how badly Solo’s lying, either, but Rieekan doesn’t seem to notice.

“On a diplomatic mission—no, she really is,” Rieekan says, when Solo gives him an incredulous look.

Draven fixes Solo with a stare, and adds, “It’s classified, Captain.”

“Okay, if you say so,” Solo mutters, and kicks his boots up on the empty chair next to Janson.

“Anyone else?” Draven asks, looking at Rogue Squadron. Luke shakes his head, and Draven turns his gaze in Jyn and Bodhi’s direction. “Sergeant Erso, is Cassian—”

“I’m here, go on,” Cassian says, striding in with Kaytoo on his heels. He’s wearing an Imperial officer’s uniform again, but unlike the uniforms he’d stolen on Scarif, or on Kerev Doi, this one seems tailored badly. Or, Bodhi thinks, uncomfortably, maybe it’s just Cassian. He looks stressed, in a way that puts Bodhi in mind of that moment on Eadu in the pouring rain, when he’d shouted at Bodhi to go, his rifle configured for killing Galen.

He looks at Jyn, but she’s watching Cassian, too, her eyes narrowed.

Draven nods, and launches into his half of the briefing. “Here’s what little we know about the work at the weapons research facility on Fest, courtesy of Talon Karrde.” He toggles Taloraan away, and a snowy, mountainous world takes its place. Cassian’s eyes flick over the globe, not lingering on any particular city, but his mouth is grim, under his moustache.

“A few months ago, Karrde intercepted a requisition for pure bronzium ore. Seerdon sent it out to all Imperial mining worlds, and based on our projections, he’s received almost as much as could be mined within this time frame.” Draven keys something on the console, and the holo slowly zooms in on a base set into a mountain range in the southern hemisphere of the planet. Bodhi can see an outer courtyard on one side, and a shuttle port on the other.

Not that much like Eadu, then.  

“It’s a sure bet he’s not just casting statues of the Emperor,” Solo offers.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot of possible options for what Seerdon could be doing,” Draven replies, and continues, “In order to infiltrate the facility, Captain Andor and Sergeant Erso’s team will be bringing in an overdue shipment of bronzium—”

Bodhi nudges Jyn and mutters, “Where’d you get that?”

“On loan from Karrde.”

“Oh.”

“—don’t have the appropriate security clearances, so Captain Andor will be posing as Colonel Joreth Sward to get the team inside.” Draven’s actually smiling, the barest twitch of his mouth; Bodhi blinks at Cassian, baffled, but Cassian isn’t looking back. “Get in, locate Seerdon’s new weapons technology, destroy it, and get out.”

Draven pauses, no longer smiling, and gazes squarely at Jyn and Bodhi. “I won’t be sending in any backup.”

Bodhi hears a ripple of consternation go through Rogue Squadron, but forces himself to stay calm; Jyn only nods once in acknowledgement, her face very still.

“Okay. Questions?” Draven asks.

“‘Colonel Joreth Sward?’” someone behind Bodhi asks. He glances over his shoulder for the speaker; it’s one of the two he can’t place, a pale blonde woman with her hair in braids. “Really, Captain?”

Cassian looks up at her, raising his eyebrows, and she subsides instantly. “Just asking.”

Bodhi says, “Do you—?” but Jyn shakes her head, just as lost as he is, and replies. “Guess we’ll find out.”

“Anyone else?” Draven’s eyes pass over the room, and when no one has anything to add, Rieekan nods briskly and says, “Very well. May the Force be with you.”

Luke is immediately at Bodhi’s side once the generals are out of the room. “Why did Draven say he wouldn’t send you any backup?” he demands, grabbing Bodhi’s arm, urgently.

“There’s no other squadrons that’ll be close enough to help,” Jyn says, looking back and forth between Bodhi and Luke. Bodhi shakes his head at the question in her eyes, and lifts a hand in a kind of apologetic shrug. She grimaces at him, but adds, only somewhat reluctantly, “Draven sending backup’s what got my father killed on Eadu.” Luke flinches, and Bodhi, remembering a quiet conversation with Cassian on Thila Base, is glad that he’s out of earshot, fiddling with something that looks like a restraining bolt while Kaytoo looms over him.

“But still,” Luke insists. “If you need me—us, find a way to get a signal out, and we’ll be there.”

The corner of Jyn’s mouth twitches. “Thanks, Luke. Hopefully we won’t need you.” She nods at him, and steps down to the floor to check in with Cassian.

Luke is fairly radiating worry. “Bodhi—”

“It’ll be all right,” Bodhi says, willing himself to believe it’s true, pushing down every thought of Galen, or the shield gate above Scarif closing once the Fleet arrived, or anything else Luke might sense of his lingering fear.

“There’s a million things you’re not telling me,” Luke says, tilting his head, his face starting to take on that quiet look of concentration. Bodhi, startled, holds out his hands as if to ward Luke off, and he stops. “Sorry. I didn’t.” He scrubs a hand through his hair, gazing up at Bodhi through his eyelashes. “I know you think I’m reckless, and I—just—please be careful, okay?”

“I’ll be with Jyn and Cassian,” Bodhi offers, cautiously. “And Kaytoo, and whoever else—” He looks around for Roja and the woman, finding them and another grizzled-looking, still oddly familiar man chatting with Solo, of all people.

Luke’s eyes are bright and anxious. “Bodhi, that’s not an answer.”

Bodhi has to smile, at that; it’s very nearly the tone he’s heard Luke use on comms, giving orders. “Fine. I will if you will.”

“Deal,” Luke says, firmly. And even though he’s never kissed Bodhi in front of Rogue Squadron before, let alone Solo, Luke starts to lean in to seal it—

Real professional, boss,” Wedge calls, teasingly. Luke freezes for a second, making an extremely rude gesture back at him that has Chewbacca barking a laugh. Bodhi can’t help but snicker, himself, shaking his head, and then Luke’s mouth is on his, warm and soft and hopeful. Bodhi kisses him back, ignoring the way the others are staring at them, reveling in the surety of Luke’s—love

—wait, wait

Luke breaks off, and grins, a little sheepishly. Bodhi blinks back at him, touching a finger to his mouth, at a loss for words, his heart pounding—

“If you’re quite finished.” Jyn’s stepping back up to them, smirking, interrupting whatever either of them might try to say. “You should get introduced, well, reintroduced, I suppose, to the others.”

Luke greets Roja with a friendly hug and a smile; Bodhi stares at the two unfamiliar—no, they are familiar people, as they come down a couple of rows. “Wait, I do know you,” Bodhi says, as recognition hits him. “You were on—on Scarif, but I don’t—I’m sorry—” He trails off, trying to remember if he did know anything about them, back then.

“S’ok if you don’t remember.” the man says. “Yosh Calfor.” He sticks his hand out; it’s less a greeting, and more a gruff gesture of gratitude. Bodhi shakes it, glancing at the woman. He has a vague recollection of her shouting frantically at someone in the cargo shuttle’s hold, and not much else.

“I’m Rodma Maddel.” She’s a lot calmer and quieter than that memory, but she brightens up, turning to Luke. “Bodhi got us off Scarif, you know? Saved us, saved Laren Joma—I guess that’s twice now—”

Bodhi swallows and takes a step backwards, and Luke’s gaze flicks across his face.

“I know,” he says, softly, before Maddel can say anything else about Scarif. “It’s nice to meet you.” He looks at Calfor. “Both of you.” There’s something in Luke’s expression that Bodhi can’t read; Calfor smiles tightly and claps Luke on the shoulder. “Likewise, sir.”

Cassian comes up behind Jyn, and nods to Luke. “Good hunting, Commander,” he says.

“You too, Captain.” Luke leans over to grip Cassian’s forearm. He gazes back at Bodhi once more, as if there’s something he still wants to say, and then hurries out after Solo and Chewbacca.

“Ready to go?” Cassian asks, and Bodhi stops looking after Luke, turning his attention back to his friends, his team. Cassian’s uniform still seems off, somehow, and his code cylinders and rank badge are askew. He frowns and motions Cassian over, reaching out to straighten them.

Maddel makes a face, but it’s not at Bodhi—she’s sighing at Cassian. “It’s on purpose, Lieutenant, it’s part of the Sward alias.” She folds her arms. “Draven’s idea?”

Cassian nods, and looks at Jyn and Bodhi, strain visible in his eyes. “I guess I should warn you, this alias is—”

Kaytoo interrupts from over by the console, where he’s trying to adjust the restraining bolt on his chest, “Don’t tell them, Cassian, I want to see their faces when you do it.” Maddel and Calfor break into identical grins, and Bodhi remembers that they, and all the others who’d gone to Scarif—

—who’d died on Scarif—

—had been with the Rebellion for years, had probably gone on countless covert missions with Cassian long before he and Jyn and Luke showed up.

“I don't know if that's such a good idea, Kay,” Cassian says.

“Why would you need to warn us about your cover?” Bodhi asks, puzzled.

Please,” Kaytoo says. “I ask for so little.”

“This morning you asked me if I could redo your plating in bronzium, since ‘we have so much of it,’” Cassian points out.

“And you said no, as I recall. Repeatedly. As you have turned down my requests for numerous other cosmetic upgrades that other droids have gotten—”

Cassian rubs the bridge of his nose. “All right, but if Bodhi or Jyn gets—”

“It's on me,” Kaytoo says, cheerfully.

“You've lost me,” Bodhi mutters, and Jyn’s brow is furrowed in bewilderment as well. But it doesn't matter, not when Cassian's lost some of the grim tightness around his eyes, and he seems a shade more relaxed, shaking his head affectionately at Kaytoo’s seemingly strange request. “Let’s go, then,” he says.

The cargo shuttle’s hold is nearly filled to capacity with containers of bronzium ore. Bodhi squeezes past Maddel and Roja on one side when they strap in, and has a sudden dizzy memory of Tonc, Sefla, and Melshi, and all the other ghosts, as he hesitates on the ladder to go up into the cockpit.

(“We’re spies. Saboteurs. Assassins.”)

Kaytoo’s finished the preflight sequence, and the deck officer says over comms, “Rogue One, you’re cleared for departure.” 

“Copy that,” Bodhi replies, settling his hands on the controls. Jyn moves to go back down the ladder to strap in, but pauses when Luke cuts in, a little tinny, but fond and commanding and wistful all at once—“Good luck, Rogue One.”

Kaytoo turns his gleaming eyes on Bodhi expectantly.

“What?”

“Well, say something,” Jyn urges him, softly, amused.

“Um—” Bodhi leans towards the pickup, as if that’ll make it more private, and not still audible to everyone, and says, in a rush, “May the Force be with you, too.” And, pretending he doesn’t see Jyn smiling at him out of the corner of his eye, he pulls back on the controls to fly them to Fest.

Chapter Text

Getting to the weapons research facility on Fest is, thankfully, nothing like the terrifying, rain-slicked approach on Eadu, the crash from which Bodhi thought they’d never escape. Nor is it much like their more sedate, but equally nerve-wracking approach through the shield gate over Scarif. Instead—

“We're here,” Bodhi calls down, when they've made the jump into normal space, and first Jyn, then Cassian, climb up into the cockpit. When he glances back, Cassian isn’t looking at him, his gaze not really even focused on the pale, smoke-stained marble of his homeworld; he folds his arms over his chest and nods, as if reassuring himself of something.

“It's beautiful,” Jyn offers, after a moment, and Cassian exhales. Smiles, just barely, at her, and replies, “From this far away, maybe. But if you were to visit the city where I grew up—you would have to see in a different wavelength altogether, to find the beauty in it.”

“I can see across the whole spectrum,” Kaytoo says, offhandedly. And then, surprising Bodhi with the gentleness of his voice, “Cassian, it’ll be visible from orbit in—”

“I know, Kay, thank you.” Cassian puts a hand on Kaytoo’s shoulder. “Bodhi, you can take us in now.”

“I’d like to see your city,” Jyn says, as Bodhi starts their descent towards the research facility, nervous about Cassian’s tension, uncertain how much of it is this strange sort of homecoming, or about what his friend’s going to have to do to get them in without a security clearance. “I'm sure I've seen worse places, after all.” There’s a touch of challenge in her voice.

“You heard Draven. Get in, get out. No time for sightseeing right now.” Cassian steps forward to stand between Kaytoo and Bodhi as the mountain range begins to come into relief, knife-edged in the sooty sky. But he gives Jyn that almost-smile again, and Jyn’s eyes brighten a fraction, as if there’s a promise in it.

Bodhi hovers his hand over the comms switch—clenches it into a fist when he sees how it shakes, and says, “Cassian, they’re hailing.”

Cassian heaves a sigh, and says, “Stay on your approach vector unless they don't buy this, all right? And Kaytoo, if—”

“It’ll be all my fault, yes, I know.”

Bodhi thinks that if droids could smile, he'd be on the receiving end of a truly unnerving one right now, and swallows. “Okay.”

“Let’s get started,” Cassian says, and nods for Bodhi to hit the comms.

The Imperial flight controller says, sounding suspicious, “Unidentified shuttle, your current flight path takes you into a secured area, and you are not cleared to—”

Cassian cuts him off, in a clipped, all too familiar Core accent, “This is Colonel Sward, and we absolutely should be cleared, I'm bringing in a very valuable shipment of bronzium that I know they've been expecting at the facility for weeks.”

Bodhi jerks around, wide-eyed in horror, gaping at Cassian; he sounds precisely like every overzealous, capricious higher-up Bodhi had learned to avoid in service to the Empire. Kaytoo lifts his head, his eyes shining with what Bodhi can only assume is delighted amusement, and Jyn’s jammed a hand up to her mouth, like she’s trying not to laugh.

“I’m sorry, Colonel, you’re not on our—”

“Don't give me that bantha fodder,” Cassian barks, the haughty, baffled rage in his voice making Jyn’s eyebrows climb higher. “Do you know how long it’s taken me to get here with these people?

“Colonel—” the flight controller tries, again, but Cassian won’t be put off, or mollified; Bodhi can’t help but cringe a little in sympathy for the poor Imperial on the other end. “I personally guaranteed this delivery to Moff Seerdon. But since I'm not cleared—you—pilot —” he snaps his fingers superciliously at Bodhi, and Jyn audibly chokes. “Let's go. I'm certain I could find a buyer for twenty tons of bronzium somewhere else, and you can deal with Moff Seerdon’s displeasure.

Bodhi sincerely hopes Moff Seerdon isn’t within a hundred light-years of Fest.

The controller’s voice cracks. “No, wait, Colonel, I’m sure we can sort this out—is there—can you transmit— any clearance you have—”

Cassian looks to Kaytoo, who reaches over to Bodhi's side and keys something on the console. “Will this do?” Cassian sneers.

Bodhi is a second too slow to see what codes, exactly, Kaytoo sent, but they seems to have been convincing enough, because the controller stammers, “Okay, yes, Colonel Sward, I—yes, you can continue your approach while I try to verify—”

Do that,” Cassian snaps. He waits half a dozen heartbeats, and then says, directly into the comm, dripping condescension, but resting a hand on Bodhi's arm, “Come on, pilot, did you attend a flight school for mynocks? Can't you get us there any faster?”

“Uh—” Bodhi hesitates, but Kaytoo nods encouragingly, so he digs around in his memory for what he would’ve really said, in his previous career, to a blustery, impatient passenger. Think of it like bluffing in sabacc. “I'm sorry, sir, I can't exceed what the safety protocols for this environ—”

“Don't give me more excuses, just get there.” Cassian's looking out the viewport at the mountains they're flying over, and frowning.

Bodhi swallows, wondering what Cassian sees that he doesn’t, or if it’s just more of playing the cover, and says, meekly, “Yes, sir.”

The flight controller’s voice is still apprehensive. “Colonel, you can land, there's an opening in Hangar One, if—if that's all right with you? I’ll dispatch the inspection team—”

“Oh, very well.” Cassian sounds as if this is the barest concession he's willing to make. He toggles the comms in the middle of the controller’s sign off, and leans against the side of Bodhi's chair, letting out a long breath.

“So your Colonel Sward is an asshole, ” Jyn says, dryly. “Interesting.”

“Did you accuse me of going to a flight school for mynocks?” Bodhi asks, wide-eyed, and Jyn snorts a laugh.

Cassian rubs his face with a hand and peers over his fingers at him and Jyn. “Too much?”

“No,” Bodhi says, reassured by Cassian’s usual accent emerging again, but—“Cassian, I remember hearing about this Sward guy, now—horror stories, mostly, about him and his commanding officer—” and then he just stares up at Cassian in sudden comprehension, and more than a little awe. “There never was an official report on what happened to Admiral Grendreef in that accident with the Desolator, over Miser—?”

“Colonel Joreth Sward’s incompetence, plus a ‘surprise’ attack by Rebel forces, is what happened to Admiral Grendreef,” Kaytoo says, with relish. “Sward took to his subsequent punishment of exile quite well, I think.”

Jyn is smirking and shaking her head. “So you want to let us in on the rest of your play, now that Kay’s been entertained?”

“You should have seen your faces,” Kaytoo says to Bodhi. “It was everything I could have hoped for.”

“Glad we could be of service,” Bodhi mutters, wryly, looking out at the mountains again and checking their approach.

“All right, we’re doing the wounded Tarchalian,” Cassian murmurs, to Jyn. “I'll tell Maddel to get prepped for it now.”

Jyn makes a face. “Really? That old gambit?”

“It's very convincing, when Colonel Sward is the cause,” Kaytoo says, gleefully. “And Maddel’s only gotten better at it since Scarif.”

“Do you want to explain your secret spy code to me?” Bodhi asks, feeling more than a little adrift.

Cassian and Jyn exchange glances. “It might be more convincing if it really is a surprise to one of us,” Jyn observes, shrugging. She eyes Bodhi. “Of course, you'll probably figure it out pretty quick, regardless.”

“You'll know the right thing to do,” Cassian says, touching Bodhi's arm again before he turns to go back down into the hold.

“Jyn,” Bodhi says, helplessly.

“You'll do fine.” Jyn smiles. “Don't worry. Take us in.”

The shuttle port is patrolled by a small squad of stormtroopers equipped for the snowy planet. There's a couple other ships—nicer and newer than theirs—docked inside the cavernous hangar bay, but it's coming on local evening, and not much of the ground crew is around. The deck officer and an inspection team comes over with a load lifter; Cassian snaps, “Give me that,” and brusquely snatches the controls from the deck officer’s hands.

Bodhi hangs back, one foot on the ladder to the cockpit, watching “Colonel Sward” berate everyone from the deck officer on down for the slowness of the unloading. Calfor is ducking his head to avoid Cassian’s ire, but Maddel makes no attempt to hide her irritated expression as she helps Jyn guide another cargo container onto the load lifter.

“Your ID, please?”

Bodhi looks at the deck officer. “Oh, right, sorry,” he says, stepping off the ladder and starting to pat down his flightsuit in search of an appropriate ID, mentally shuffling through his options—

—there’s a bloodcurdling scream from the far end of the hold, and Bodhi whips his head around to see the load lifter turning slowly back away from where one of the cargo containers has fallen off the stack onto Maddel’s left leg, pinning her to the ground.

Shit—” Bodhi shoves past the deck officer, and runs down to the cluster of the team around Maddel. Calfor and Kaytoo gingerly lift the container off her, and she screws up her face in agony as the extent of her injury is revealed. Her leg is broken, contorted at a painful angle.

Bodhi crouches down beside Jyn and Roja, fearfully, and then remembers—the wounded Tarchalian?

Maddel’s making little whimpering noises, tears standing in her eyes, while Jyn tries to get her to calm down. The deck officer waves the rest inspection team back, wringing his hands as he stands over them, looking anxious.

“I don’t know what happened,” Cassian is swearing, angrily smacking the lifter’s controls against his open palm. “It was her fault, she shouldn’t have been under that side of the lifter—”

“We have to get her to the medcenter,” Jyn snaps, glaring up at him. Maddel’s crying in earnest now, and Bodhi reaches over to hold her hand, letting her clutch at his flightsuit, not needing to feign his own concern; her leg really does look broken. But Cassian wouldn’t really let anyone get hurt—

Cassian scowls back. “You take her. I’ll not leave this valuable a shipment unsupervised.” His eyes are narrowed in suspicion.

Sir.” The deck officer looks horrified, glancing back and forth between Maddel crumpled on the permacrete and “Sward’s” callous expression. “She’s seriously injured. I—I’ll escort your staff down to the medcenter—”

Cassian waves a hand, turning back to unloading the bronzium. “Fine. Well, you don’t all have to go, do you?” He points at Calfor. “You, and the droid, stay and assist me. The rest of you, hurry it up.”

To the deck officer’s credit, he gets a hovercart over to them almost immediately. Bodhi helps Jyn and Roja lift Maddel onto the cart; Jyn says, “You’re doing great,” ostensibly to Maddel, but she’s looking directly at him. “It’ll be over soon.”

Roja’s on the other side of the hovercart from Bodhi as they hurry through the facility’s corridors towards the medcenter; the soldier’s eyes are sharp, and Bodhi thinks he’s counting the guards they pass, the secured areas. Jyn keeps up a running line of comforting talk to Maddel, interspersed with the occasional dire imprecation aimed at that bastard Sward.

And—Bodhi mostly just keeps his head down, like he would have on a cargo run, trying to memorize the route to get back to the ship. The facility snakes along the mountain range, outer walkways open to the frigid air; the view is spectacular, compared to Eadu or any of the other Imperial bases Bodhi’s been on, but no one they pass is looking out at it, too consumed with their conversations or datapads.

Galen would have looked, Bodhi wants to tell Jyn, suddenly, the thought catching him off-step. Galen would’ve found out all the names of the mountains so he could tell them to you. He wonders if Cassian remembers their names.

“All right, here we are,” the deck officer says, breathlessly, slapping at the medcenter’s door panel and escorting them inside. There’s a medical droid and a couple of unconscious patients in bacta tanks, being treated for what look like severe chemical burns. “Emdee, this woman needs help—”

Bodhi looks to Jyn, uncertainly, hauling his mind back to their mission, as the door slides shut behind them.

Now,” Jyn orders, and Roja produces a blaster from inside his coveralls, and fires at the medical droid, overloading its circuits. From the hovercart, Maddel’s no longer crying, and is pointing her own blaster at the deck officer. He puts his hands up, edging slowly backwards, his gaze darting to each member of the team, lingering for an extra second on Bodhi’s face, recognition starting to dawn in his eyes—

“Jy—Sergeant,” Bodhi says, softly, fear of being caught out warring with the instinct to try to keep the Imperial alive. He tried to help.

“I know,” Jyn tells him, and nods at Maddel. She fires; it’s not a blaster bolt, but a blue stun ring that catches the deck officer, and Bodhi breathes a little easier.

“Thank you,” he mutters to Jyn, and she smiles briefly at him.

But it’s not over yet.

Roja moves to guard the door, and Jyn touches Bodhi’s arm as he gapes at Maddel tugging her pant leg up to fix her prosthetic, snapping the pieces of it back together. “Get on the console and see what you can find out.” Bodhi obeys, trying not to stare but marveling a little at how realistic Maddel’s prosthetic leg is, and starts to work.

Jyn takes out her comlink. “Cassian, we’re good on our end,” she reports.

“Kaytoo is going to try to access a console here—the shift’s changing and we got ourselves a little time, too,” Cassian’s voice comes back quietly.

“I don’t know what I’m looking at,” Bodhi says, lifting his hands from the console nervously. Nothing’s been encrypted beyond his ability to slice; Seerdon must’ve assumed the facility was sealed enough on its own. “It’s all chemical analyses—” He stares down at the materials research files. “Bronzium, I recognize, and frazium, and—quadranium, I think—” Jyn comes over and looks at it, too, shaking her head.

Kaytoo says, over Jyn’s comlink, sounding alarmed, “Bodhi, that’s three of the four materials you need to make a phrik alloy.”

Bodhi’s heart skips a beat. Jyn raises a puzzled eyebrow at him—“Phrik’s almost indestructible,” he tells her. “Not even a lightsaber can get through it.” She frowns.

“Oh, I see now,” Kaytoo continues, and there’s a faint whirring sound coming over the line, like he’s processing. “Moff Seerdon gave up trying to find a reasonable source for cortosis, around the time Karrde intercepted the requisition for bronzium, and has been mining tydirium instead. Which has sped up the alloying process considerably.” His voice is laced with dread. “He’s managed to make more phrik than anyone not on Gromas.”

“What’s he doing with it?” Cassian asks.

Bodhi pulls up file after file, but of course Kaytoo is faster. He sounds unhappy. “Plating AT-PTs.”

“Well, at least it’s not a Death Star,” Jyn mutters, so quietly that only Bodhi—and probably Kaytoo—can hear her. She’s pulled her necklace out of her coveralls and is unconsciously fiddling with the string.

“What?” Maddel’s put her leg completely back together and is hauling the deck officer’s unconscious body off to one side, where it won’t been immediately spotted by anyone coming into the medcenter. Her face is grim. “Phrik-armored walkers? How many?”

“There’s the good news,” Kaytoo’s voice comes back. “He’s only built three prototypes.”

“Oh, we are so fucked,” Roja mutters, from his post by the door. “How are we going to destroy them?”

Bodhi looks sideways at Jyn. She’s tense, and she’s closed her hand around the crystal on her necklace, but there’s a light in her eyes. “We’re not going to.”

“Jyn,” Cassian says, and hesitates. “This is not like Borgo Prime—”

“No,” Jyn replies, a smirk flicking across her mouth as she meets Bodhi’s eyes. “It’ll be easier than Borgo Prime. Kaytoo, what are our odds?”

“If you’re thinking of stealing them, which—yes, okay, Cassian says that is what you’re thinking—from the present location of the AT-PTs inside the facility, you will have to exit the main gate in order to reach a transport ship,” Kaytoo answers. “Escaping the primary facility won’t be a problem, but there is a sixty-six point three percent chance of being stopped in the outer courtyard before reaching the main gate. But you would be inside a phrik-armored walker, so that’s some small consolation there.”

“The cargo ship’s not big enough for one AT-PT, let alone three,” Bodhi points out, and tries to keep his hands still, pressing them flat on the edge of the console.

“Not to mention Seerdon’s still got the materials to make more phrik,” Maddel says.

Jyn tucks her necklace back into her coveralls. “Your call, Cassian.”

Cassian’s soft sigh echoes down the line. “All right. Kay, download copies of everything. Jyn, you take Roja and Maddel and steal those walkers. Bodhi—find them a ride out of here.” Cassian’s voice is wry.

Bodhi takes a shaky breath, and replies, “What are you doing?”

“I’m taking Calfor to destroy Seerdon’s equipment,” Cassian says.

“What about me?” Kaytoo asks.

“Stay with the cargo shuttle. If anything goes wrong, you take what we know back home.” Cassian pauses, and when he speaks again, his voice is flat. “And—Bodhi.  If I tell you to run, you do it, this time. Understand?”

Cassian —” Bodhi murmurs, trembling, looking into Jyn’s face and finding no contradiction there; bargains, quickly, “If you order me to run, I’m calling Rogue Squadron in to get you out.”

Jyn huffs a laugh at him. “That’s fair, yeah, Cass?” She’s studying the map of the facility, with Maddel looking over her shoulder.

“No one ever listens to my orders,” Cassian says, sounding resigned. “Jyn—”

“Don’t get caught,” she says back, tenderly, and thumbs off her comlink. “Let’s go.”

At the door, Roja presses a wicked little hold-out blaster into Bodhi’s hand. “I’m never going to use this,” Bodhi protests, and tries to give it back to him. “I can’t.”

“Just take it, dammit,” Roja says. “Part of being careful, right?” He grins, and turns away to follow Jyn and Maddel in the direction of the engineering wing.

Bodhi looks after him for a moment, the words echoing in his head with Luke’s voice.

All right. I’m trying to be.

He puts the blaster in his pocket and sets off back towards the shuttle port, trying to look like he belongs, moving quickly, but not too quickly. As he crosses the walkways, a few stars attempt to shine overhead in the haze of Fest’s polluted sky, and the sole moon is dull where it hangs over the mountains. The light strikes him as wrong, somehow, as if it should be—rainy and dark, like on Eadu.

Bodhi’s memories smear together in his head—he can almost feel the ridge of Galen’s message in his boot again. His heart is pounding so loudly he’s certain the lone officer he passes can hear it, as it had when Bodhi had finally made his choice, but here, at least, he knows all the cards on the table, and what else there is, besides his life, to lose—

No.

They all trust me. I won’t fail them.

I can do this.

Kaytoo is waiting for him by the cargo shuttle, the sight of the two together another memory crossing unnervingly into reality. “I think you’re going to want that ship,” he says, though, and points across the hangar at a Y-4 Raptor-class shuttle with all of its boarding ramps down.

“Yeah, yeah, thanks,” Bodhi says, running a judicious eye over its cargo capacity, eager to focus on something other than what’s happening in his head. “It’ll carry 300 metric tons, easy, but it’s slow. Um—is it—empty?”

“I haven’t seen anyone go in or out of it since we landed,” Kaytoo replies. “All yours.”

“Okay. I’m—I’m gonna go get it prepped.” Bodhi scans the area for more ground crew, patrols, anything, but there’s no one in between them and the other ship.

“Good idea,” Kaytoo says. “We may need to make a very quick exit.” He closes his hand over Bodhi’s shoulder. “I know you don’t want to leave anyone behind. If it comes down to it—I will stay, and get them out in the cargo shuttle.”

Bodhi’s eyes widen up at him.

“But the odds are it won’t come to that.” Kaytoo is abruptly cheerful, turning him around and pushing him gently in the direction of the Raptor, calling after him, “There is only a forty seven point three percent chance of total mission failure, after all.”

“Great, thank you, Kaytoo,” Bodhi says to himself, crossing the hangar. Don’t think about any of it. He keeps his eyes focused on his goal, avoiding a pair of stormtroopers talking about the latest skyhopper engine upgrades. Think about the ship—Raptors are Incom-make, controls just like a U-wing, maybe better shielded— bounds up one of the ramps into it in two strides, and—oh, fuck, Kaytoo was wrong—

There is someone in the ship. A mechanic.

He’s working on the comms relay, streaked with grease, and he looks to be about Luke’s age, like he’s fresh from the Academy. He frowns over at Bodhi with an exasperated grimace. “I said it was gonna take—hey. ” His mouth falls open in recognition, and Bodhi’s heart stops. No, no—I was being careful—

“You—you’re—” He holds up his sonic welder at Bodhi, like it’s a shield. “You’re the traitor—”

Oh, come on, I didn’t get caught on Eadu—Bodhi fumbles to get Roja’s blaster out of his pocket, points it at the mechanic, who looks just as scared as Bodhi feels. “Please, just go

But the Imperial’s expression is growing less fearful by the second as he tracks the wavering end of the blaster. “How did you even get in—”

“Shut up,” Bodhi snaps, trying to channel Cassian’s authority, Jyn’s confidence, praying he won’t have to shoot him. “Get off the ship.”

“You’ll never make it offworld,” the mechanic says, sidling towards the ramp, keeping his hands in the air.

Bodhi keeps the blaster pointed at him until he’s backed down off the ramp. Grabs his comlink out and calls Kaytoo as he hits the controls to close up all the ramps, uselessly watching the mechanic running across the hangar towards the shuttle port’s control station—by some miracle, the stormtroopers don’t see him. “There was someone in the ship, he’s coming right at you—Kaytoo—don’t kill him—”

Kaytoo steps out of the cargo shuttle at the last possible second, and the mechanic crashes into him headfirst, rebounding limply to the permacrete. He looks back in Bodhi’s direction as he drags the mechanic’s unconscious body into the cover of some crates, and says into his comlink, a touch reproachfully, “On Eadu, you asked me to try not to hurt anyone we didn’t have to. I haven’t forgotten.”

“Thank you,” Bodhi murmurs, and goes forward to the cockpit to get the ship ready, willing his heart to stop racing, his memories to stop reeling back and forth in time. He’s just barely gotten everything checked out when the hangar rumbles, overhead lights flickering. The pair of stormtroopers aren’t in sight; Bodhi hopes they’ve simply continued on their rounds.

“That would be Cassian and Calfor,” Kaytoo observes, his voice tense. “They’ll be coming in hot.”

“Okay, okay,” Bodhi replies, flipping switches as fast as he can, wishing he was back in his own ship, and desperately missing Luke as his co-pilot. “Ready when you are.”

Bodhi sees red blaster fire before he sees Cassian; he and Calfor are sprinting out of the corridor, shooting back at half a squadron of stormtroopers closing in behind them. Bodhi clenches his hands, trying to will himself to fire, cover his friend, his team—but Kaytoo fires off a shot first, clean through the hangar bay door control panel, and the door irises shut, blaster bolts thudding ineffectively into the durasteel.

“We’re clear,” Cassian pants, from Bodhi’s comlink. “Go get those walkers.”

“I copy,” Bodhi replies, licking his dry lips, and lifts off, veering away from the facility and slowly circling around to the far side of the mountain. Far too slowly. The cargo shuttle’s following just off to starboard, wings folding out for flight. He ignores the shouts of Imperials over the ship’s comms until he hears “—scramble the damn squadron—”

Oh, fuck. He glances at the sensors and quails. “They’ve sent TIE bombers out.”

“We’ll keep ‘em off you, go get Jyn,” Cassian orders.

Jyn cuts in, sharp. “Get here faster, they’ve got tank droids on the ground.”

Emerald laserfire lances out in all directions from the cargo shuttle’s five cannons, and Bodhi flinches as the first pair of TIE bombers roar overhead. He finally comes around the mountain and sees the trio of AT-PTs stalking jerkily into the outer courtyard, lit up with floodlights. A semicircle of tank droids is deployed behind them, and a full squadron of stormtroopers is forming up between the walkers and the main gate, laying down a constant siege of blasterfire. The walkers’ angular heads swivel back and forth, cannons spitting, but the circle is closing—

“There’s nowhere to land,” Bodhi calls. “I—” He swallows. “They won’t get past the main gate—”

Cassian and Kaytoo are both trying to tell him something, Kaytoo loud and getting louder, but he doesn’t hear them, fighting down panic, looking at the Imperials advancing on the trapped walkers.

Wait. He checks the ship’s armament over again. Laser cannons won’t do enough damage, but— there are two concussion missiles left, out of a Raptor’s normal complement of six. “I’ve got it, I’ve got it—”

Bodhi cringes as a TIE bomber hurtles out of the night sky, its panels burning, and crashes into the side of the mountain. He lines up the two missiles squarely on the gate, and some of the stormtroopers on the other side of it start to redirect their blasters in the direction of the ship, even though they’re utterly useless against the Raptor’s armored hull—

and he freezes up on the firing controls, staring wide-eyed down at them, thinking of the stormtroopers he had killed to clear a path for Cassian and Jyn to escape, before.

“Bodhi.” It’s Cassian, quiet, and far more calmly than Bodhi would’ve been able to manage, if it were Luke trapped on the wrong side of that gate. “It’ll be all right. I trust you.”

(Jyn, smiling at him. “—No other options.”)

I can do this. I have to.

But—they don’t have to die—He targets the main gate again, at a different angle, lower. Prays it’ll be enough, and fires.

“Nice shot,” Kaytoo says, approvingly, as the missiles hit. The gate disintegrates in flame and smoke, and the stormtroopers behind it are thrown back sprawling on the snow, but Bodhi thinks they might survive, if their commanding officers are more like Cassian than Colonel Sward.

It’s not quite a relief.

“Okay, okay, hurry,” he stammers, to Jyn and Maddel and Roja. He lands the Raptor just outside the destroyed gate, lowering the ramps; the cargo shuttle hovers overhead, cannons still spraying laserfire up at the circling TIE bombers and back towards the tank droids rumbling after the walkers. Bodhi hunches up, startled, as bolts zip past the walkers and spark off the Raptor’s hull, sizzling in the hold—looks back and sees panels starting to smoke, but there’s nothing he can do about it until they’re safe.

His heartbeat is racing faster than the walkers can move, but two manage to come aboard without incident. The third, however—

“Roja, what in blazes are you doing?” Jyn barks.

Roja’s walker has turned around, head facing the facility, and Bodhi traces the angle of its cannons down to the fallen stormtroopers he’d tried not to kill outright—slaps frantically at his comlink—“Don’t, Roja. This isn’t—they’re not a threat now—”

“Just get on the ship,” Jyn orders.

Bodhi struggles to find something to convince him. “They—they’re like me, they’re just like me—” His voice cracks.

“I’m sorry,” Roja says, ragged, harsh. “I’m sorry, Lieutenant, but they are not.”

“Get that walker on board, Private—” Cassian cuts in, furiously.

Bodhi can barely breathe. “Please. Don’t do this.”

The line falls silent.

I brought death again. I was trying to stop it.

I’m sorry.

Then Roja tilts the cannons up and looses a fusillade at the tank droids still arrayed in the courtyard, before swinging back and coming up the ramp into the ship. Bodhi exhales, trembling, watching a stormtrooper slowly rolling over onto his back in the snow. They’re alive. We’re alive. It’s okay.

“Okay, the walkers are secured,” Jyn shouts up to him. “Launch!”

Bodhi tries to put all thought out of his head and takes off again; there’s still a couple of TIE bombers left to try and make a run at them, but the Raptor’s shields hold, and eventually Kaytoo picks them both off with the cargo shuttle’s cannons. They get up out of atmosphere, and then, as Bodhi’s punching coordinates into the navicomputer with a shaking hand, a Sentinel-class shuttle jumps in from hyperspace.

“Oh, shit—Cassian—”

“We see it,” Cassian responds, tersely. “I think it’s Seerdon. Get going.”

The ship starts to turn in their direction, and a new voice comes in over the Raptor’s comms, the man’s clipped Core accent barely masking his rage. “I always believed the Rebellion was made up of terrorists and thieves. Now I have proof.”

Bodhi switches the comm off, pushing more power to the engines, and prays. We’re so close—

Jyn comes up into the cockpit just as the ship rocks from a barrage of laserfire; she swears under her breath and falls into the co-pilot’s seat, taking over firing controls and spraying shots back in the Sentinel’s general direction. “You okay?”

“I will be, in a second—” Bodhi glances down at the navicomputer just as it beeps. He pulls back on the lever to jump to hyperspace, and starlines flare around the viewport. Slumps back into his seat and covers his face with his shaking hands, adrenaline and fear and memories crashing over him in a wave. “Stars. Jyn.

“You did it, Bodhi.” Jyn laughs, not unkindly, and leans over to kiss his cheek. “Welcome back to the fight.”

Chapter Text

“If we're in the clear,” Maddel calls forward, “Come help us check these things over for Imperial tracking equipment?”

“Be right there.” Jyn’s still leaning into Bodhi’s space; he can hear her breathing starting to slow down after their escape. He tries to match it. “Are you really—”

“I'm okay.” He lifts his face from his hands. “This is what you and Cassian and Kaytoo do all the time?”

“Guess I’ve got kind of a knack for it.” She reaches over to squeeze his arm. “You did well, too.”

But Bodhi can't stop himself from shivering, the sense of near-catastrophe still lingering in his mind. “Those stormtroopers—” He gulps. “They were trying to kill you, but I couldn’t—I didn’t want them to die just because—”

Jyn looks grim, but says, emphatically, “It was a fair order, Bodhi. You put them out of the fight. Roja should’ve listened.”

He stalls out. “No, Jyn, I wasn't ordering—”

“You outrank him. It counts.” The corner of Jyn’s mouth quirks up. “And you saved his life on Kessel, that probably should’ve counted for something.”

“Since when have you been one for ranks?”

Her eyes are dark. “Since a rank badge gets people to listen.”

(—the survivors had called her “Sergeant,” their respect no longer grudging, laced instead with grief and awe and a sort of hysterical disbelief that they’d made it out at all. They’d all looked to her—and only her—for orders, as Cassian had lain dying in her arms, clinging to her like a drowning man as the oceans of Scarif fell away below them.

It had stuck, after that.

Days after Yavin, Cassian had finally been released from the medcenter, and had immediately filed his formal report with her name and rank alongside his, as if daring anyone to even mention striking it from the record.

And Mon Mothma herself had been the one to affix the badge to Jyn’s vest.)

“Don’t get me wrong,” Jyn continues, unaware of how Bodhi’s drifted sideways into his memories again. “There will always be people who look at me and see a petty criminal, or—” She shakes her head. “Whatever else they think I am.”

Galen’s daughter. Bodhi thinks, staring at her. A light, from the shadows. Cassian’s guiding star.

“But now they—the whole Alliance —can’t dismiss me, just for that. They have to listen. Like Roja should have listened to you.”

Bodhi stammers, “Jyn, I—I’m not like you—”

“I trust you,” Jyn says. “I trust your judgement. So should the rest of them.” She tilts her head. “I mean, if Luke Skywalker’s willing to follow your spur-of-the-moment, life-or-death decisions, who is anyone else to argue?” There’s a teasing edge to her voice.

Bodhi gapes and blinks and fumbles for words to rebut her, to point out that Luke is something else, but Maddel shouts up again, “Sergeant Erso, we could really use another couple pairs of eyes on these."

Jyn pats his arm again, getting up. “Come on, you probably know your way around an Imperial homing beacon better 'n the rest of us.”

Bodhi follows Jyn back, trying not to dwell on the idea of being in charge of anything other than his own uncertain future, focusing instead on the technical details of Imperial tracking devices. It’s not the same as Chirrut’s moving meditation—he’s not calmed by it, not in the least, not when their safety’s still at stake, but it’s a welcome distraction nonetheless.

Three AT-PTs are a cramped fit; they squat and loom over him like cyclopean metal creatures, lined up one after the other, straps criss-crossing the hold to secure them in place. Maddel’s crouched down, shining a glow rod into the nooks and crannies under the first walker’s head; she shakes her head at Jyn’s inquiring look. Roja is just visible in the cockpit, a stream of curses trickling down to them as he wrestles with the Imperial technology.

Jyn gestures Bodhi to the third walker. “Yell if you find anything, inside or out.”

He nods and ducks past the AT-PT, coming up incautiously beside the second and smacking his head against its downturned, sideways-pointing blaster cannon with an echoing thump. “Who left this one like this—” Bodhi puts a hand up to push the cannon aside, futilely, and swears as the metal, still hot from firing, blazes pain across his palm.

Jyn, climbing up the other side, pokes her head around the cockpit hatch. “Bodhi?”

“Just singed,” Bodhi says, gazing at his reddening palm and rubbing his head with his other hand, gingerly.

“Can’t have that,” she says, lightly. “Check for a medkit in the walker?”

He makes a face at her. “Probably isn't one in there.”

Jyn’s eyebrows draw down briefly. “Oh.”

“It’s not bad,” Bodhi reassures her, closing his hand into a fist and opening it again.  

“Well, if the only casualty on our side is a few skin cells, I’m counting it as a win,” she says, dryly. Bodhi finds it in himself to smile at that, the faintest twitch of his lips. Jyn’s answering smile is just as small, and then she swings up into the cockpit, and he turns towards the third walker.

In front of it, Bodhi plays the glow rod over the armor, seeing nothing out of place. Even though he doesn’t really think any tracking devices will be mounted on the exterior, he dutifully circles around to the back, looking at the odd, oil-slick way the light shimmers on the phrik plating, wondering if Seerdon picked the alloy because of Luke

“Lieutenant.”

Bodhi jerks around, unpleasantly surprised to discover Roja’s cornered him between the AT-PT and the bulkhead. His fingers tighten on his glow rod involuntarily. “Yeah?”

“Blast, you are a twitchy sort.” Roja crosses his arms. “Maybe I shouldn't have given you my blaster.” He's smirking, like he's trying to cover for something, and it's so much like Tonc’s bravado that Bodhi’s reflexive flare of fear morphs into a dull kind of ache as he stares at the soldier.

“I tried to tell you not to,” he says, weakly.

“It's—dammit, that was a shitty thing to say,” Roja mutters. “Since you—” He stops, running a hand over his close-cropped dark hair, and starts again, gruffly, “Bodhi, I'm a trained killer. You didn't have a problem with it on Kessel.”

“Yes, I did,” Bodhi admits. “I mean, I was glad that you were protecting Luke, but—”

Roja shrugs. “Not that he needed it.”

Bodhi privately agrees, but runs over top of him anyway, trying to make him understand. “Roja, I worked alongside stormtroopers, before. I’ve seen them with their helmets off, in the mess, in their barracks—they're just people, they—”

“Still aren't like you, ” Roja says. “You chose different.”

There’s a familiar gleam in Roja’s eyes, and recognition, unwanted but as persistent as dread, creeps in slowly: Wedge had looked at him like that, once, before they'd become friends. Luke, too, and the people on the Redemption who think they know who I am. Roja reads something of his discomfort, and shakes his head. “I didn’t mean—blast it, I came over to apologize.”

Bodhi rubs at his temples, feeling like he’s trying to stay on target in a shifting storm. “Is that what you're doing?”

“Yeah, my ex thought I was shit at it, too,” Roja offers, sounding rueful. “Look, I got caught up in it. The fight. They would’ve—” He cuts himself off. “Won’t happen again. Sir.”

“I’m not your commanding officer,” Bodhi says, wearily, willing himself not to fall back into the memory of Scarif. “I’m just the pilot.”

“Still.” Roja draws himself up straight. “It’ll be different, not killing for you, but if that’s what you want.” He smiles, tightly, slapping a hand up against the AT-PT’s head as he half turns to go forward again. “You might as well keep the blaster.”

Bodhi says, “Roja—” and the soldier turns back around, looking at him curiously. “I’m sorry about what they did to you on Kessel.”

“Could’ve been worse.” Roja shrugs. “Could’ve been whatever happened to you.” Bodhi huffs a startled, horrified laugh, and Roja knuckles his forehead, groaning in dismay. “Oh, by all the names of the— sorry, Bodhi.”

“How long have you been divorced?” Bodhi asks, wryly.

“Yeah, yeah.” Roja claps him on the shoulder. “I am sorry. About all of it.”

“Thanks,” Bodhi says, and means it. “Uh, I should really—” he points at the walker next to them.

“Okay,” Roja says, awkwardly, and leaves him to it. Bodhi waits for a second, just to see if Maddel wants to come mire herself in conversational quicksand, too. She doesn’t, so he climbs up into the AT-PT’s cockpit, happy to let Roja’s floundering fall away as he starts poking into the control panel’s innards. It’s a Kuat Drive Yards make, like all walkers; Bodhi’s never seen the inside of the larger versions, except in manuals, and it’s interesting to get an up-close look at—

“Ah, fuck,” Bodhi mutters, staring at the transponder spliced into the communications system. His fingers shake as he lifts it out of the underside of the control panel, isolating it from the rest of the wires, but it’s connected into the system’s power supply.

No, no—

The lights on it are blinking erratically, though, like its signal isn’t strong. He closes his hand around it and yanks, wincing as a jolt of current goes through his hand, and calls, “Jyn, I found something.”

“Okay,” Jyn answers, closer than he’d thought she was; she’s standing underneath the open cockpit hatch, looking up at him. Bodhi tosses the transponder out to her and then clambers down beside her while she turns it over, frowning.

“What d’you want to do, smash it?” Maddel says, dryly, joining them and eyeing the device.

Bodhi shakes his head, smudging the grease on his fingertips. “If it’s been able to transmit this whole time, that won’t matter. I’d drop out of hyperspace somewhere and pitch it into the void, and—recalculate a different route home.” He looks to Jyn for affirmation.

She nods, though her mouth twists. “I didn’t spot anything like this in mine.” Maddel shakes her head, too, looking pale. “Okay, Bodhi, find us a nice empty patch of galaxy and we’ll toss it out the airlock,” Jyn says.

Bodhi drops them out of hyperspace somewhere between the Expansion Region and the Mid Rim, where there’s not a single familiar constellation to be seen, and Jyn disposes of the tracer while he runs the navicomputer through picking another route home.

“What’s after this?” Bodhi asks, when she rejoins him in the cockpit, attempting to convince himself that he’s ready for anything.

“Sullust, probably,” Jyn says. “I’ve been in contact with leaders of a resistance movement there. They’ve said they’ll help us take out Seerdon’s Capacitor in exchange for supplies for their people.”

“We’re not going to try to oust the Imperial occupation like on Gerrard V?”

Jyn smiles, but there’s no humor in it. “The Sullustans tried something large-scale once already. The Cobalt Laborers’ Reformation Front?”

He tries to stick the name to an Intelligence report or a HoloNet news bulletin and comes up short. “I don’t remember, sorry.”

“The Cobalt Front’s mostly gone.” Jyn leans her head back against the headrest. “The Empire smashed through their big push on Pinyumb and picked up, oh, probably eighty percent of their members. I’m hoping this new group will be a bit more careful.” She sounds tired, not judgemental.

“Oh,” Bodhi says, softer, and does not think about Saw’s Partisans.

“But we can talk about all that when we’re back.” Jyn brightens up. “What did you think of Fest?”

*****

Jyn gets on comms the second they emerge into normal space, approaching the rendezvous point and the Redemption, but it turns out it’s not necessary to inform the Alliance they’re in yet another stolen Imperial ship, because Cassian and Kaytoo have been back for half an hour already.

In the hangar bay, Rogue Squadron’s X-wings are thronged with maintenance staff, droids whirring back and forth. Bodhi can’t help but count the X-wings after he docks the Raptor, holding his breath until he’s certain they’re all there. Luke is, strangely, nowhere in sight, though Cassian’s waiting for them at the bottom of the ramp, nodding to Maddel and Roja as they debark and head off to meet with Draven.

Cassian looks like himself again; he’s shed his disheveled Imperial uniform jacket and cap, but his hair’s an unruly mess almost on par with Luke’s. “Where in blazes did you go?” he demands. “Kaytoo said you dropped out of hyperspace, but he didn’t pick up any signs of a problem.”

“Had to get rid of an Imperial tracer,” Jyn says, raising her eyebrows at him even as she cranes up to kiss him and he slips an arm around her waist. “Couldn’t very well call you on an unsecured comm line.”

“Well, next time, figure something out, please, because I had to spend fifteen minutes trying to talk someone out of going after you when you didn't come in right behind us.” Cassian jerks a thumb over his shoulder, aggrieved, and Bodhi finally spots Luke lurking around his X-wing. “He calmed down once you were detected jumping in from hyperspace,” Cassian adds, in an undertone. “I told him to go find something else to do for a bit—he can be quite overwhelming, you know. Kay was getting, uh. Sarcastic.”

“Aw, you scared him off,” Jyn says, amused, slapping Cassian on the arm. Bodhi watches Luke for a moment, puzzling out what he’s doing, and slowly realizes that Luke is pretending to be checking his wingtip KX-9s, but can’t stop sneaking glances in their direction. Jyn waves, and calls, not caring that she’s drawing the attention of every single person in the hangar, “Yeah, Bodhi’s fine, we’re all fine, come get him—”

Bodhi cringes, but Luke’s jogging over, oblivious to how people stare. “Hi,” he says, brightly. “Wow, you’re practically a pirate, Bodhi.”

Jyn snorts a laugh as Bodhi’s eyes go wide. “What?”

Luke nods at the Raptor behind them. “You stole another ship!”

“Jyn stole the AT-PTs,” Bodhi demurs. “You know, what we were there for? The Imperial weapons research?”

Jyn nudges him with an elbow. “We’ll go get started on the debrief with Draven, you show Luke all of what we brought back,” she says, tucking her hand into the crook of Cassian’s arm. Luke’s grin widens, though he’s also turning slightly pink. Cassian furrows his brow at Jyn momentarily, but lets himself be led off.

Luke leans in to kiss Bodhi, murmuring, “Show me every—” but Bodhi puts a hand on his chest, stopping him, frowning at his X-wing. It’s streaked black with carbon and the port-side power couplings are visibly fried; maybe he hadn’t been pretending to examine his cannons after all.

“Luke, what the hell did you run into on Taloraan? I thought it was supposed to be an easy hit-and-fade.” Bodhi counts the other X-wings over again just to be sure they’re all accounted for; none of them look quite as scorched as Luke’s.

“Uh—” Luke ducks his head. “Got too close to one of the mining platforms when it went up, Artoo’s pretty mad at me for it.”

“Is he all right?”

“Oh, it’s nothing a good scrubbing won’t take care of,” Luke says, unconcerned. “Will you help me fix my ship again?”

“Whenever you need it,” Bodhi promises, and then stammers, “Not—not that I think you’re going to need repairs every time you go out—”

Luke pushes a hand through his hair and shrugs. “I’d rather take the damage than anyone else, and if you’re here to help, afterwards—I like working on our ships together.” He smiles, and nods towards the Raptor. “Show me around your new one?”

“It’s not mine,” Bodhi protests, leading him up the ramp. “My ship is the Cadera.

Luke turns. “You don't want to start your own fleet?” he says, lightly, but he can’t hide the fond look in his eyes.

“I don't want a fleet,” Bodhi answers. “Just a fast ship, and—” His face heats, but he swallows and makes himself say it. “A co-pilot.”

Luke, his eyes shining, takes a single step to him. “And a star to steer her by?” he asks, quoting from somewhere. He lifts his hand to the side of Bodhi’s face, brushing back wayward strands of hair, even though they're in full view of the packed hangar bay and Bodhi can hear Solo nearby.

“Well, I thought I'd use the navicomputer for that,” Bodhi murmurs. Luke laughs, a warm, delighted sound, and it loosens the last vestiges of fear and tension still tangling Bodhi’s mind and memories. He turns his head to brush a kiss into Luke’s open palm. “Come on up, I want to hear all about Taloraan.”

Chapter Text

Inside the Raptor, though, Luke is promptly distracted from telling Bodhi about the mission to Taloraan; he turns and heads straight for the closest AT-PT. He runs his left hand over its armored plating, scratching at it lightly with a fingernail. “So this is phrik,” Luke says thoughtfully, his right hand dropping to the hilt of his lightsaber.

Bodhi steps hastily between Luke and the AT-PT and grabs Luke’s hand on his lightsaber—“Please don’t try to cut it open, we just got them here, and I’m sure the research files Kaytoo copied have materials testing in them—okay, maybe the Empire never got around to testing with a lightsaber, but let the engineers at the walkers first before you start trying to see if you can carve them up?”

Luke laughs, his eyes flicking to Bodhi's mouth as the words tumble out faster than he can follow. “I won’t, Bodhi, it was only an impulse.”

Bodhi's eyes widen further, and he tightens his grip, his heart skipping a beat as his fingertips brush the smooth metal of the lightsaber’s hilt. “Luke, you are possibly the most impulsive person I have ever—”

—and Luke’s face lights up, the only warning Bodhi has before Luke darts in to kiss him. Bodhi stumbles back a step, bracing himself to hit the side of the walker, but Luke’s hand is there, cushioning his head, fingers stroking his hair gently. Bodhi clutches at Luke’s other hand, at his flightsuit, kissing him back, the stress of the mission steadily being replaced with a different and—better—kind of desperation. Luke nudges Bodhi’s legs apart with a twist of his knee, and pushes him inexorably against the walker, chasing Bodhi's mouth with his own.

“You might remember,” Luke murmurs, coming up for air, panting a little into Bodhi’s ear, “You’re the one who jumps in a ship and flies off whenever you come up with a good idea.”

“I do not,” Bodhi says, though his tone loses some of its indignation as Luke licks the curve of his ear.

“Sure you do. Taking me out to see the podracing tracks?”

“I planned that for days,” Bodhi protests, as Luke grins and lowers his head to his favorite spot on Bodhi’s neck, hair brushing against the fabric of his uniform.

His mouth is hot. Bodhi squirms. “Luke.”

“Mm. Kessel?”

Ah —okay, that one’s fair, except—” Bodhi manages to wrench free from Luke's attentions and pokes him in the ribs, making him twitch helplessly. “You were my co-pilot! Both times!”

“That's where you want me, isn't it?” Luke grins, putting a fraction of space between them. “By your side, following your impulsive decisions?”

Bodhi blinks at that echo of Jyn's words. “Yeah, but—”

Luke smiles. “Then that settles it.” He curves his free hand around Bodhi's neck and starts to lean in again; Bodhi tilts his head, thinking, that settles nothing, but if Luke keeps looking at him like that, he doesn't really care—

—and someone raps their knuckles against the side of the Raptor.

Bodhi looks over Luke's shoulder to see Kasan standing at the top of the ramp. “I hate to interrupt,” she says, as Luke reluctantly disengages, the loss of Luke’s warmth sending a frisson running down Bodhi’s spine. “But it seems your comlink is malfunctioning again, Commander.”

“I said I’d be there as soon as the Fest team got in.” Luke tries to go stern, but the way he tugs on his flightsuit to straighten it only serves to make him look like a cadet called in front of a flight instructor.

Kasan smirks and looks pointedly at Bodhi.

Bodhi rubs the back of his neck, pushing down a faint sense of embarrassment at being caught out like a couple of adolescents. “I—I should probably get up to Cassian and Jyn, too.”

Luke’s eyes are still bright. “Come back here when you’re done, and we can work on my X-wing together?”

You two.” Kasan’s voice is threaded with sarcasm. “Poster boys for the Rebellion’s dedication, you are.” She eyes Bodhi's Imperial flightsuit with obvious distaste. “Well, maybe not dressed like that.”

Bodhi raises his eyebrows at her, straightening up a little so the insignia on his shoulders don’t fold in on themselves. He wonders if she's kept hers, too, or if she left it behind with her Interceptor and her complicity. “Thank you, Lieutenant Moor, for that astute observation,” he says, dryly.

Kasan huffs a laugh. “All right, come on, let's get these debriefings over with and you can get back to 'working on your X-wing.’”

*****

Bodhi can’t quite tell if Draven’s more pleased with the stolen walkers or the stolen research. But either way—the general’s initial good mood means he keeps the debrief relatively short, even the part where Bodhi has to explain his near-miss with the mechanic, and Cassian’s mouth thins into a line in concern. The part that undoes the feeling of relief Bodhi had been starting to find with Luke.

“Kay, why didn’t you clear the ship?” Cassian asks.

Bodhi furrows his brow, and says, a little exasperated, “I handled it, didn’t I? Me and Kaytoo together?”  

“That was still too close,” Cassian says, and Jyn crosses her arms and scrutinizes Bodhi’s face. Her mouth is drawn down in displeasure, and Bodhi slumps a little, as Cassian continues, “And I don’t like that it was the mechanic and not any of the officers recognizing you.”

“I—I’ve still got that bounty on my head,” Bodhi offers, haltingly, though he has no idea what it’s actually up to now. “I—the people I knew, who I worked with, at our level—we would've dreamed about what we could do with this many credits.”

Draven’s expression remains impassive, at that, and Bodhi feels a little silly, because of course the Rebellion’s spymaster knows that sort of thing, probably even has a line-item budget for paying off their more avaricious informants. Cassian is watching the general, too, his brow furrowed like he’s trying to guess where the train of Draven's thoughts might be headed. The worst-case scenario: Bodhi will be grounded again, because he does know too much, and it was a stupid risk, going to get the ship alone, and if—if

He pulls up, and swallows, feeling his pulse jumping at his neck where Luke had kissed him, and drags his own thoughts firmly towards something else. Ships, think ships, it’ll be all right if I just focus—installing an overdrive on a Raptor means figuring out how to make it compatible with the power flow regulators—

“I want to discuss appropriate safety precautions with you again, Lieutenant,” Draven says, finally, but that's all, and then he's moving on, past Cassian's quizzical stare, to ask a few other questions about stealing the walkers and blowing up the alloying equipment. And after that, Bodhi promises to turn over all of the Raptor’s sensor logs, and they’re dismissed. Cassian lingers in the doorway, but Draven just waves him off.  

“What was that about?” Jyn asks, in the turbolift.

“I don't know,” Cassian says, frowning. “Maybe he's thinking of having you scout planets again instead of coming with us to Sullust. Kaytoo, did you pick up anything useful?”

Kaytoo sounds slightly frustrated. “General Draven has gotten very good at managing his biometric readings around me.” Cassian turns to Bodhi, touching his shoulder, looking worried.

“I’m all right.” Bodhi licks his lips, and then, not quite able to keep the words from spilling out, at speed, “I am. You don’t have to keep—I wasn’t an important part of the mission, we stopped Seerdon from making more weapons, right? I’ll go wherever you want me to go, Sullust, the Unknown Regions—” sees the lines in Cassian’s forehead deepening. “Dammit, I’m trying, Cassian—”

Cassian starts, “Bodhi, we watch out for each other—”

Jyn puts her hand on Cassian’s arm, and he stops. “The hold-out blaster Roja gave you,” she says, as the turbolift doors slide open to their deck, and she motions for Cassian and Kaytoo to precede her out. Kaytoo’s head swivels curiously back and forth between Jyn and Bodhi, as she asks, “Do you still have it?”

“Yeah.”

She raises her eyebrows at him. “Use it, next time.” He gapes at her as the turbolift doors close, giving her the last word.  

Back in the hangar once more, Bodhi hesitates; Luke is nowhere to found, again. He turns and goes up into the Cadera, falling into the pilot’s seat wearily, discovering his goggles hanging by their strap off of the arm of his chair. Bodhi puts them on, pushing them up onto his forehead, comforted a little by their familiar weight. The prospect of working, and not trying to talk his way through his friends’ concern, is a welcome thought, too. But half an hour goes by with no sign of Luke, and while watching the Cadera’s computer run through a diagnostic is calming, it also, very gradually, puts him to sleep.

*****

 

[“—I won’t fail you—”]

 

“Bodhi?” Luke is kneeling between the seats, gently resting a hand on his shoulder. “Are you back here with me?”

“Was I having a nightmare?” Bodhi lifts his head, rubbing his eyes; he’d drooped forward onto the control panel, and he suspects one of the toggles is imprinted on his cheek. He groans as he sits up. Luke stands and puts his hand alongside Bodhi’s neck, instinctively rubbing where his muscles have gone stiff, making Bodhi sigh and relax into his touch. Luke’s changed out of his flightsuit, and the sleeves of his black shirt are pushed up on his arms.

“I think so,” Luke murmurs. “Do you remember any of it this time?”

Bodhi shakes his head and comes completely awake with dismay—“Luke, please tell me you didn’t leave the meeting just to come down here for me.”

“I didn’t sense anything was wrong until I walked up,” Luke says, and it’s a strange sort of reassurance, but it puts Bodhi more at ease nonetheless. “I’m sorry it took so long, but Rieekan wanted to start planning air support for the Sullustan resistance.” He tilts his head. “You don’t have to come help me; you look like you could use the rest.”

“I want to,” Bodhi says, and Luke smiles, even though he looks tired, too. “Give me a minute to change?” Luke nods and presses a kiss to the top of Bodhi’s head, behind his goggles. Bodhi gets up, taking his Imperial IDs and Roja’s blaster out his pockets and tossing them on the chair. He kicks off his boots and unzips his flightsuit as he walks back into the hold, looking for his jacket.

“This is an EC-17,” Luke says, and Bodhi turns back to see Luke picking up the blaster.

Bodhi blinks at him, draping his flightsuit over a cargo crate, the contents of which he can’t quite remember. “Yeah.”

“Scout troopers get issued these?”

“Yeah,” Bodhi says, again, and then adds, “I don’t know where Roja got it, there weren’t any scout troopers on Kessel.”

“Roja’s the kind of soldier who collects,” Luke says, absently. “Probably picked it up on some other mission.”

Bodhi hops on one foot, trying to balance as he puts his boots back on. “I guess so. Do you see my jacket around here anywhere?”

Luke grins and holds it up. “It was on the floor. No, wait, stay there, I want to see if I can—” His face is taking on the calmly intent look that usually means he’s using the Force, but nothing moves.

“Okay, please just give me that,” Bodhi says, smiling and shaking his head, after a minute of watching Luke holding his hand out to no avail. He crosses to Luke and reclaims his jacket, leans down and kisses Luke’s crestfallen expression away.

Luke curls his fingers into the collar of Bodhi's shirt, looking up into his eyes. “Bodhi?”

“Yes?” He licks his dry lips, and Luke’s fingers tighten involuntarily.

“I—never mind. Let’s go.”

As they walk down the Cadera’s ramp together, Bodhi asks, shrugging one arm into his flight jacket, “Stars, is Solo throwing another party?” The smuggler in question is strolling up to the Falcon on the far side of the hangar with an armload of mismatched and unlabeled bottles, like he’s been raiding the Redemption.

“Looks like it,” Luke answers, watching Chewbacca growling at Solo at the bottom of the ramp. Solo can't gesticulate with his arms full, and has to settle for just yelling, the sound carrying across to them in the sparsely populated space. “—right, all right—” Somehow, even across the entire hangar bay, Solo catches on to Bodhi and Luke staring at him, and shoves the bottles at Chewbacca so he can comm Luke. “Chewie says I gotta keep it small, so come on over, I’ll invite, oh, a dozen of your closest friends.”

“What, right now?” Luke says back.

“Did you two have something else to do?” Solo’s voice is suggestive.

Luke moves his thumb off the switch and looks at Bodhi. “Your call,” he says, easily.

“He won't let it alone if we do skip out,” Bodhi observes.

“Yeah, you’re right.” A smile flickers across Luke’s face. “We can fix my X-wing later, I guess.”

“What, are you two deciding the fate of the galaxy?” Solo demands over Luke’s comlink. “Get down here, I’m not drinking all this by myself.”

“We'll be right there,” Luke tells him, and they change direction towards the Falcon. He glances sidelong at Bodhi. “The last time this happened, you went back to your ship alone at the end of the night.”

Bodhi waits for an astromech who’s steadfastly refusing to adjust its course to pass, and then catches up to Luke in two strides. “Won’t happen again,” he replies, casually, making a mental note to make sure Kaytoo has an updated set of instructions from Cassian.

Luke’s mouth twitches up. “Good.”

In the Falcon's hold, Solo’s lining up shots on the console— “Chirrut’s still not back, right?” he asks Bodhi.

Bodhi shakes his head. “Madine’s last report has it another few days before they finish mopping-up the last holdouts on that space station over Mantooine.”

“I don't understand why he and Baze don't accept commissions already.” Luke waves off Solo's offer of one of the shots; it’s something blue and vile-smelling. He scans the rest of the stuff Solo’s procured and gets Corellian ales for himself and Bodhi. “Or you, for that matter, Han.”

Solo shrugs and drinks the shot himself. “Gotta have my freedom,” he says, flopping down into the chair at the console. “I'm not at anyone's beck and call, not even for a decent guy like Rieekan.”

“Uh-huh,” Luke says, exchanging skeptical glances with Bodhi. “When are you gonna pick up and leave us again, then?”

Solo laughs. “Worried I won't be there to pull your ass out of trouble the next time you—”  Luke jerks his head up abruptly, making a throat-cutting gesture at the smuggler. “Oh, like Bodhi wouldn't have figured out you lost your shields and firing controls the second he got a close look at the damage.”

“It looks worse than it is,” Luke insists, glaring at Solo.

Sure,” Solo says, rolling the word around on his tongue with some relish, looking past them both at people trickling into the Falcon’s hold. “Antilles, what’s your expert opinion?”

Wedge claps Bodhi on the back and slings an arm around Luke’s shoulders. “On what?” He eyes the row of blue shots suspiciously.

“I figured it out already,” Bodhi says to Luke. “I know my way around your X-wing pretty well by now.” Luke gapes at him, so Bodhi adds, helpfully, “Your power couplings are all blown.”

“Whether—” Solo is saying, but he stops, at that, looking up at Bodhi, his expression shifting slyly.

Luke reads something in Solo’s face and holds up a warning hand, even as he looks back at Bodhi in surprise. “Why are you trying to stir shit up, Han? You can't possibly be bored already, we just got back.”

Solo's answering grin is unrepentant. “I need a reason?” And then, louder, “Kasan, I've got six flameouts with your name on them.”

“Ugh, I thought I recognized those,” Wedge mutters, as Kasan comes over. Bodhi thinks she looks different, somehow, and not just because she’s out of uniform.

“I didn’t break our deal,” Luke insists, to Bodhi, but he’s ducking his head, more than a little abashed. Wedge starts to slide his arm off of Luke’s shoulders, like he doesn't want to be associated with whatever Luke’s going to say. Kasan is lifting a shot to the light,frowning at the impurities in it, but chuckles at them.

“I mean, maybe it’s a bad deal,” Luke says, hurriedly.  “I mean—there’s no stakes to it, and—and—”

Solo snorts. “Highest stakes there are, kid.” Bodhi winces, reflexively clutching his drink tighter, but it’s not like he hasn’t been gambling with those same stakes, ever since he met Galen.

“That’s a bit morbid, isn’t it?” Kasan says, and tosses back her flameout. She coughs. “Ah, Solo, it's supposed to burn and then freeze, not the other way around.”

“Sorry, prin—” Solo cuts himself off and jolts up out of the chair abruptly, scowling. Luke, wide-eyed, doesn’t quite manage to cover his startled laugh with a hand, and Bodhi realizes the thing that’s different about Kasan is that her hair is braided in what must have been a popular Alderaanian style, one that Leia’s worn more and more frequently as of late.

Solo clears his throat and snatches up another shot. “That’s one each.” He glares around at them.

“You almost—” Luke says, grinning.

Solo grimaces and points vehemently at Luke. “Go work out your deal with Bodhi.” He drinks, and slams the empty glass back down on the console. “That’s two, dammit.”

Bodhi stares at Kasan, suspicion sneaking up to the surface of his mind, and apparently onto his face; she shakes her head at him, appalled, and mouths are you joking? around the side of her second glass. He waves his bottle of ale at her apologetically as Luke pulls him along, past the dejarik table, where Hobbie, sitting on a cargo container, has started dealing out a hand of sabacc to Chewbacca, Janson, and—Maddel, looking surprisingly prim for someone about to gamble with two Rogues and a Wookiee.

“Antilles, you’re our witness, don’t go anywhere,” Solo snaps, and Wedge, on Bodhi’s heels, sighs and turns back around dutifully.

Bodhi stops in his tracks—Luke loses his grasp on his arm—and leans in close over Hobbie’s shoulder. “You know she’s a spy, right? Good at conning people out of things?”

Yeah,” Hobbie breathes.

Oh. Bodhi glances at Maddel; a tiny smirk plays about her lips. “Okay, then.” He pats Hobbie on the shoulder, and follows Luke out to the Falcon’s main corridor, passing Zev, Roja, and Calfor on their way in. Roja tosses off a lazy salute in Bodhi’s direction.

When they’re alone again, Luke gazes earnestly up through his eyelashes at Bodhi. “So maybe I wasn’t as careful as I could’ve been, but—I knew the Force was with me.”

Bodhi raises his eyebrows, and says, lightly, “Wasn’t Wedge also with you?”

Luke laughs. “You trust Wedge more than you trust the Force?”

“I don’t think the Force can shoot as straight.” Bodhi hesitates, and sighs. “Luke—”

“You weren’t as careful as you could’ve been, either.” Luke’s mouth twitches. He hooks his fingers into Bodhi’s belt and tugs.

“No,” Bodhi admits, letting himself be pulled in like a ship caught in a tractor beam.

“Let’s be honest, you’re both very bad at assessing risk,” Kaytoo says, looming up suddenly behind Luke; Bodhi barely manages to stop himself from yelping in surprise. “Kaytoo, what—”

“Cassian said I should observe more social interaction in group settings,” Kaytoo says.

Bodhi represses a shudder at the idea of Kaytoo hovering. “The two of us standing in the corridor isn’t precisely a group setting,” he says.

“The key word was observe,” Cassian points out, edging past them, carrying a pot of something still bubbling, Jyn behind him with a bemused expression and a handful of spoons. “Not interrupt.” He smiles at Bodhi, his previous concerns evidently forgotten. Or, more likely, Bodhi reasons, Jyn talked him down.

“Oh, very well.” Kaytoo’s tone is reproachful, but he trails after Cassian and Jyn into the main hold.

“Getting crowded in here,” Luke observes, as Solo calls out, loud and clear, “Captain Andor, I knew there was a reason I liked you.”

Jyn pokes her head back out around the corner. “Bodhi, Luke, come get some food before you sneak off.”

“No one’s sneaking anywhere,” Luke promises her.

“Oh, I know,” Jyn says. She smirks, slapping her hand on the bulkhead. “It’ll be incredibly obvious.”

Bodhi makes a face at Luke, and says, ruefully, “So much for your X-wing.” Luke chuckles, and heads back into the hold as requested.  

The sabacc game is still proceeding apace; Hobbie’s given up the cargo container seat to Zev, and is crowded in next to Maddel on the bench behind the dejarik table. Maddel smiles coolly as Janson grumbles and slaps his cards down, and rakes the pile of credit chips towards her. Chewbacca barks a laugh and puts his paws behind his head, pointing out that every hand they’ve thought she’s been bluffing, she’s won outright.

“I’m not ever playing sabacc with her, or any of Draven’s people,” Luke says to Bodhi, as he pushes two cargo containers close together with his knee, balancing his drink and a bowl of Cassian’s stew in his hands.

“I wouldn’t, either,” Bodhi agrees, sitting down next to Luke and setting his drink on the floor.

“Yeah, we’re a bunch of liars and cheats,” Calfor says, amused, from where he’s leaning up against the bulkhead with a beverage that is neither a Corellian ale nor a flameout. “If you want, though, she does have a couple of tells—”

A credit chip sails across the hold and bounces off the bulkhead next to Calfor; he catches it before it can fall into Bodhi’s bowl. Bodhi turns to see Maddel winking at them. “For your continued silence, my friend,” she calls.

Calfor grins, tucking it into his jacket pocket, and then ducks abruptly, laughing as Hobbie and Janson pelt him with credit chips and pleas for assistance. He pushes off the bulkhead and goes over to bargain with them. Maddel leans back, draping her arm along the top of the bench, fingers just grazing Hobbie’s shoulder, and Bodhi’s eyes widen as he tracks her gaze. She is cheating.

He looks over at where Cassian’s commandeered the console for his stew; Cassian shrugs back at him, knowingly, and ladles out a bowl for himself.

“Hey, Cassian, this something you learned to make on Fest?” Roja asks, in between blowing on his spoonful to cool it. “Never had anything like it before, it’s good.”

“I helped,” Kaytoo mutters, from where he lurks like a particularly ominous shadow in the corner of the hold.

Cassian shrugs. “I don't know if anyone there still makes it the way my family did.” There's a hint of a sardonic curve to his mouth, and his eyes are dark as the void. “I doubt Seerdon's serving it to his troops.”

“Well, here's to you for sharing Fest with us,” Solo says, raising a shot—his fifth—to Cassian; the smile, faint as it is already, falls away entirely from Cassian’s face.

Jyn clears her throat, and says, lightly, “What about—to Colonel Sward, for getting us in and out in one piece?”

“Here’s to putting that alias to rest once and for all,” Maddel offers. She's stacking her credit chips neatly while the Rogues try to make sense of what she's done to them this time. “Pretty sure you can never use him again, Cassian.”

Cassian shakes his head and laughs, shortly. “I will drink to that.” Solo, puzzled, looks back and forth between Jyn and Cassian, but he doesn't pursue it, not with Jyn staring daggers at him.

“I guess you didn't exactly get to tour Cassian's homeworld,” Luke mutters, for Bodhi's ears alone, under the clamor of Chewbacca roaring with laughter at whatever Janson’s done now.

“He didn't even want to point out which city he came from,” Bodhi replies, equally quietly, watching Cassian move to stand over the sabacc game, a genuine smile slowly reemerging as Hobbie tries to flirt, badly, with Maddel. “I think Fest was a battleground even back during the Clone Wars. I doubt he has many happy memories of it.”

Luke’s mouth twists. “Yeah. That's too bad.” Solo is apologizing to Jyn, offering her one of Kasan’s abandoned shots. “I wish—” He exhales a long breath. “I wish life had been easier for him. For—for all of you.” Luke is gazing down at Bodhi's wrists, where one sleeve has ridden up, exposing the scars.

Bodhi leans over and kisses his cheek, refusing to think about it, not when he's surrounded by his friends. “Thanks.” Luke looks like he wants to say something more, bumping his knee against Bodhi’s, but Zev calls out, “We need a Jedi to arbitrate a dispute. Anyone know where we can find one?”

Luke rolls his eyes. “This better not be about hoverball, or slingball, or whatever the hell ball, again,” he says, getting up. Bodhi starts to go over to them, too, but Kasan comes around the port side corridor, wiping her mouth and grimacing. “Please tell me you have water.”

Bodhi shakes his head. “Sorry, Kasan, just ale. I think. This one wasn't labeled.” He holds the bottle out to her regardless; she waves it off and sits down on the cargo crate, putting her head in her hands.

Why do I let myself get talked into these things?” she says, muffled.

“He can be weirdly persuasive,” Bodhi allows, sitting back down next to her. Solo and Wedge and Jyn have their heads together over by the console; that can't possibly bode well.

Kasan snaps her head back up and frowns at him. “Bodhi, I want to be clear about this, because I don't want anyone getting the wrong idea about me and Solo. Princess Leia is the sole heir to House Organa and the—”

“Royal Family of Alderaan, I know,” Bodhi says.

“Did Jedha have a monarchy?”

“No.” Bodhi frowns as he tries to remember what his mother had said about their history. “Um—not even before the occupation. But the Guardians—we revered the Guardians, I guess. Is that—?”

“I suppose,” Kasan allows. “Princess Leia is—” Her eyes have gone soft, but there's something about her expression that's familiar. “Maybe ‘revered’ is the right word for it. So the idea that I would ever consider coming between her and anything she wanted—" Kasan shakes her head. “I would rather have crashed my Interceptor a hundred times over than do anything like that.”

Bodhi stares at her. “That's, um—” He trails off, blinking.

Not overstating it,” she says. “And, you know, I never crashed.” Then she tosses her head and asks, “So you ran into Kohl on your way off Fest, huh? What did he have to say about your little expedition?”

Bodhi's eyes widen. “Kohl? You're on a first-name basis with the Moff we're up against?”

Kasan sniffs. “If you hadn't been late, in the first briefing, you would've heard my explanation that I used to serve under him.”

“You did?”

“Yeah. Seerdon’s—let’s hope we don’t have to get up close with him.” Kasan makes a face. “Give me one clean shot at his Sentinel.” Bodhi looks down, discomfited, and she pats his shoulder. “Hey, I’d be doing the galaxy a favor.”

Bodhi looks back up at her, seeing the bitterness in her dark eyes, and asks, slowly, “What did he do?” There’s a familiar tightness in his chest. Back over at the dejarik table, laughing at whatever Hobbie is protesting about, Luke’s glancing in his direction. He shakes his head a little; I’m fine.

“I was one of his ace pilots, right?” Kasan says, nonchalantly.

“Wait, no, you don’t have to tell me this,” Bodhi interrupts her, swallowing down sudden dread. The capricious whims of Imperial officers, from Darth Vader on down to types like “Sward,” had been legendary, among cargo pilots; he can only imagine how bad it could’ve gotten for people who were less likely to go unnoticed.

“He liked to pit us against each other for his favor, is all.” Kasan touches his arm again. “It wasn’t like any of my other deployments, where we at least got along. Kohl had us in a state of competition constantly, but whenever he thought one of us was getting too presumptuous about our, ah, status, he’d take it upon himself to correct that opinion.”

“Kasan—”

“He hurt one of my best friends so badly he never flew again,” she adds, reflectively, and Bodhi stops breathing in sheer horror. “It was too hard to work the controls. So I really wouldn’t mind blowing him out of the sky.”

“Blast, Kasan,” Bodhi murmurs. “I'm sorry.”

She shrugs a shoulder, looking up as Wedge strolls over. “Or Luke could do it, or Wedge, or anyone. You, even. Doesn't have to be me.” There’s a bloodthirsty kind of joy in her voice, like the fanaticism Bodhi remembers of other fellow TIE pilots; he shivers uncomfortably.

“What could I do?” Wedge asks, propping one foot up on the cargo container next to Bodhi and leaning on his knee.

“Take Seerdon out,” Kasan says. “If we run into him at Sullust.”

“Oh, yeah, sure,” Wedge agrees, easily. “He’s flying, what, a Sentinel? Just one proton torpedo—” He catches the stricken look on Bodhi’s face, and shifts gears— “I mean, let’s focus on the Capacitor, first, we’ve got to cut off his resources. Hey, Bodhi, I’ve been going through my stuff for weeks after I came back from the dead, and I can’t seem to find, um. This one sabacc card.”

Kasan rolls her eyes, getting up. “Force help me, I’d rather drink another one of Solo’s poorly done-up flameouts than listen to any more talk about sabacc.”

“You lost already,” Wedge points out, cheerfully. She makes a rude gesture at him and goes off to talk to Jyn instead. He turns back to Bodhi. “So where is it?”

“Where’s what?”

Wedge grins. “The skifter you stole from me, you grave-robbing schutta,” he says, startling Bodhi into laughing.  

“How d’you know Luke doesn’t have it?”

“Because I asked, and we both know he can’t lie for shit.”

Bodhi snickers at him and takes a drink. “You’re as good as admitting to cheating, every time we played,” he says.

“And you’re admitting to stealing it,” Wedge retorts, smiling back.

“I’m not a thief,” Bodhi protests.

“Oh, so that Raptor docked out there—?” Wedge jerks a thumb over his shoulder in its general direction. “And the Zeta-class shuttle over there?” He waves his hand vaguely at where he thinks it’s docked. “Those just, what, materialized here?”

Bodhi blinks a few times. “Huh.”

“Yeah,” Wedge says. “So where the hell is my damn card?” He holds out his open palm expectantly.

“It’s not on me,” Bodhi says, amused. “I don’t carry it around like a memento to you or anything.”

“You wound me, Bodhi, you really do.” Wedge puts a hand to his heart, dramatically. “Well?”

Bodhi shakes his head, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “It’s not gonna be that simple.” He looks over at the dejarik table, where Maddel’s sorting through her winnings and Luke’s given up trying to settle whatever Zev wanted and is just leaning back against the bulkhead, laughing at some story Calfor’s telling. “Play me for it.”

“Okay, but if I win, I want my pants back, too,” Wedge says.

*****

Wedge does not get his pants or his skifter back.

*****

At the end of the night, Luke bears the teasing of his squadron for staying behind while they head off to their quarters, but grabs Bodhi’s hand and makes a run for it before Solo can get his shots in—his laughter follows them down the Falcon’s ramp into the darkened hangar.

Oh,” Luke says, coming to a stop suddenly, and redirects Bodhi away from the Cadera, leading him all the way to the edge of the hangar bay, where the force field is a faint shimmer between them and million systems; billions of people fighting and waiting and hoping. “Have you ever stood this close to it?”

Bodhi puts his free hand up to the force field, feeling the slightest tingle of resistance. “I haven’t,” he says, softly. A transport ship streaks out to hyperspace a few thousand meters off the Redemption’s port side.

“Like if you leaned forward you’d float out into space,” Luke murmurs.

“Where you would immediately—” Bodhi stops himself from muttering cynically about freezing to death in the void, and says, instead, “That was always my favorite part of a run, when it got peaceful, and it was just me and the stars, and nothing else—nothing else mattered.” He turns his head, looking into Luke’s eyes; they reflect a million points of light. “I could never hold on to what that felt like, before.” Luke squeezes his hand so hard it almost hurts, and kisses him.

*****

They finally get to Luke’s X-wing in the morning, after a few hours of sleep. Luke blushes furiously as Bodhi runs down the diagnostic with Artoo, who provides a scathing running commentary before being hauled out of his socket to go do something with Threepio. Even with Bodhi tackling one S-foil and Luke the other, it takes hours to overhaul the power couplings, and once those are repaired, Luke swears up and down that he will never let his ship get as damaged again.

Bodhi pulls his goggles off and rubs his forehead. “If you do, it turns out you know a pretty good ship thief,” he says.

Luke laughs. “Pick something that’s faster than the Raptor, though, please?”

“I’ll see what I can do,” Bodhi replies, climbing up into the cockpit to check whether firing controls are back online. “Didn’t have much of a selection on Fest.”

“That reminds me, I didn’t get a chance to tell you about Taloraan,” Luke says, standing on the ladder and peering in at the controls, as Bodhi fiddles with the wiring. “Did you know there are floating creatures that live in the clouds there? They look like whales, if whales could fly, or had—” he wriggles his fingers. “Things. Tendrils.”

“What do they eat?” Bodhi asks.

Luke shakes his head. “Haven’t a clue—Han?”

“Han is not a food,” Bodhi says, absently, watching the X-wing’s computer confirming that everything’s working. Luke jumps down, and Bodhi looks over the side; Solo is standing under the ship, his face taut.

“Han, what’s wrong?” Luke asks, and Bodhi scrambles out of the cockpit and down the ladder.

“Leia just sent a message,” Solo says. “She's on Chandrila, the classified thing I wasn't supposed to know about. Chandrila’s Mon Mothma’s homeworld—” Luke trembles, like he's sensing what's gone wrong, and Bodhi finds his hand, twines their fingers together.

Solo’s eyes are dark, and for the first time since they'd met, Bodhi thinks he sees fear in them. “Leia got cut off, but she said Seerdon's launched an attack on the capital city spaceport. He's blockading the planet. She’s trapped.


Chapter Text

“Well, what are you waiting for?” Luke demands, whipping around, putting one foot on the ladder to climb back up into his X-wing. “Let’s—”

Solo grabs his arm and yanks him back down, firmly. “You charge off again—with or without him—” he points a finger at Bodhi— “and you’re as good as dead. There’s no element of surprise here, Luke. Did you hear me? Chandrila is Mon Mothma’s homeworld. Seerdon expects us to come running.”

“I’m not going to leave Leia out there,” Luke snaps, throwing Han’s hand off his arm. Bodhi pulls his goggles off his head and fidgets with the strap, his heart pounding in his ears.

“No shit, kid, me neither, but me and Chewie and you two aren’t gonna cut it.” Solo crosses his arms over his chest. “Not this time, not with the whole capital city under attack.”

Luke takes a deep breath and straightens up, his initial frenzy falling away. “Okay. Han, call Rieekan and tell him everything Leia told you; I’ll alert the squadron.” Han claps Luke on the shoulder and steps a few meters away, pulling his comlink out.

“What should I do?” Bodhi asks, looking back up at Luke’s X-wing anxiously. “Do you want me to check anything else out?”

Luke shakes his head. “We’re done with that. I need you to—if Leia got cut off, it’s a sure bet Seerdon’s jamming all non-Imperial communication in or out. You built the Cadera’s comms to work with Alliance frequencies, right? Can you still pick up Imperial signals?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Bodhi says. ”I can break through the jamming, I'll find a way to get through to her, wherever she is.”

“Great. Have Chewie help you with whatever you need to get set up. And—” Luke pauses, sudden trepidation in his eyes conflicting with the resolute set of his mouth. “We’re going to evacuate Leia out of a war zone. I’ll find someone with medic training to fly with you to help with any injured.”

Bodhi nods jerkily. “Luke, I’ve—I’ve never run a blockade before.”

“Me neither, but I'm almost certain Han has. We’ll figure it out together.” Luke half-smiles at him. “Get to work, Lieutenant.”

With Chewbacca's assistance, Bodhi reconfigures the Cadera’s communications relays to work like a SW-95 transceiver. He explains it to Luke, twenty-odd minutes later, standing in the hangar bay waiting for Rogue Squadron to assemble: “It'll piggyback off of Imperial signals in Hanna City, so long as Seerdon does have communications up and running. Should be able to get a message through—”

Bodhi nearly chokes on the salt-and-sand memory of kneeling in the cargo shuttle’s hold, desperately hailing the Fleet over Scarif as Tonc held off the shoretroopers outside, but he pushes past it. “So I can tell Leia where to meet us for extraction. Any word from Mon Mothma? She must be—worried,” he finishes, weakly.

“Rieekan said he'd have the latest for us when he comes down.” Luke’s eyes are intent on Bodhi's face. “The Cadera's all prepped and ready to go?”

Bodhi pulls himself upright. “Just need a co-pilot and my orders—” He can't keep himself, even though he's shaky and anxious, from adding dryly, “Sir.”

“Oh, stop that,” Luke says, shaking his head affectionately.

“Yes, sir.” Bodhi snaps to attention as Janson and Kasan jog up, and Luke makes a face at him.

“Huh,” Janson says, taking in Bodhi's proper posture. “We doing this strictly by the book now? Spit-shined boots and a stick shoved up your—”

“No,” Luke retorts, but then he does salute General Rieekan as he comes over, who looks baffled and pats Bodhi on the shoulder. “At ease, Lieutenant.”

“The rest of the squadron should be here any minute, General,” Luke says.

Rieekan nods. “And Solo?”

“Right here.” Solo looks like he's leaning casually up against a stack of cargo containers, but Bodhi's starting to be able to read alertness and tension in the set of his shoulders.

“Sorry, sorry,” Wedge calls, running up with the other members of the squadron in tow, plus a very young pilot Bodhi doesn't recognize. “The Redemption’s too big, it’s impossible to find the deck you want even with a map—here’s Dak for you.”

“Thanks, Wedge,” Luke says, shaking Dak’s hand. “Hi. Did they fill you in on what you'll be doing?”

“Co-piloting with Lieutenant Rook and providing first aid to civilians during the evacuation, Commander,” Dak answers, looking at Luke, more than a little starstruck.

“And gunner, don't forget gunner,” Zev adds. “Dak's a good shot, Bodhi, he’ll keep those TIEs off you.”

Bodhi quails. Oh. Great. Another trigger-happy co-pilot who won't understand.

“Only if you need me to, sir,” Dak says, earnestly, and Bodhi suddenly recognizes Dak’s turning the same admiring gaze on him. This again, too?

“Mon Mothma’s released a statement condemning Seerdon’s attack on their shared homeworld,” Rieekan says. “However, we’ve decided it’s far too dangerous for her to join us at Chandrila; Seerdon doesn’t appear to know that one of our political leaders is already planetside, or he would’ve recruited even more Imperial forces to supplement his assault.”

“What’re we looking at, General?” Luke asks.

Rieekan’s face is drawn. “From what Intelligence has managed to gather, a Star Destroyer—”

“—Sure, okay,” Solo mutters—

“—and an Interdictor cruiser are in orbit.”

Bodhi gulps, and a ripple of dismay goes through the squadron. Luke turns his head slightly towards Bodhi, and he wills himself to focus, breathe slowly. Don’t become a distraction.

“Ah, fuck,” Hobbie says. “So much for get in, get out.”

Rieekan throws Hobbie a brief glance. “I’ll be commanding the Liberty and Green Squadron. We’ll handle disabling the Interdictor and breaking the blockade. Captain Solo, you and Rogue Squadron take care of whatever Seerdon’s got planetside; based on an analysis of Princess Leia’s call, there’s TIE bombers making runs at the capital. And from what Draven’s managed to pull out of the data from Fest, I’d bet there’s going to be at least one walker on site.” He looks around at the pilots. “Clear Imperial forces from Hanna City, find Leia and get her out. That’s it. Questions?”

“Two squadrons and the Liberty to break a planetary blockade,” Janson says, in disbelief. Bodhi clenches his hands in fists behind his back.

“That’s all we can spare right now,” Rieekan replies, tersely. “Anything else?”

“Let’s get it done,” Kasan says. Her eyes glitter—Bodhi can’t tell if she’s thinking of Seerdon, or Leia.

Rieekan nods. “Then let’s go. May the Force be with you.”

Rogue Squadron scatters to their ships; Luke waves Dak on to the Cadera, and then throws his arms around Bodhi. “It’ll be all right, we’re flying together,” Luke says, a little muffled against Bodhi’s hair. “But if I tell you to get out—”

“I’ll be stuck in-system until the Interdictor’s down anyway,” Bodhi mutters, holding on to him.

“Still. I will actually pull rank on you if I have to.” Luke pulls away, his eyes very bright.

Bodhi licks his dry lips and musters up a smile for him. “Understood, Commander.”

Luke hesitates for a second; his gaze lingers, the way that Cassian and Jyn’s do, whenever they’re about to part, and then he smiles back, and turns and runs off to his X-wing.

Oh, shit. Cassian and Jyn.

Bodhi pulls out his comlink and calls Cassian as he goes up into the Cadera and checks over the preflight sequence; Dak is looking at him curiously, but says nothing. “I’m going to Chandrila with Rogue Squadron,” he says. “Don’t tell me not to, please, I just wanted you to know.”

There’s a sharp intake of breath on Cassian’s end. “Okay,” Cassian says, flatly. “I’ll clear it with Draven if Rieekan didn’t already.”

“Thanks, Cassian.”

“Bodhi—” Cassian’s voice is insistent.

“I know,” Bodhi replies softly. “I’ll try.” He switches his comlink off and glances at his co-pilot. “They’ve told you about, um, how I like to do things?”

Dak nods, eagerly. “I’m looking forward to flying with you, Lieutenant.”

“Uh—okay.” Bodhi blinks at him. “Everything set for take off?”

Dak leans forward over the controls, checking again. “Yes, sir.”

“Okay, you don’t have to do that.” Bodhi runs a hand over his hair, amused despite himself. “Just call me Bodhi.” His engines start up their familiar hum, and he settles his hands on the controls—

“Technically,” Dak says, “You probably should’ve been commissioned as a Captain to begin with, anyway, sir.”

Bodhi gapes at him. “What?”

“You had your own ship.” Dak looks puzzled. “And now you have three.

“What?”

Dak opens his mouth again—

“Rogue Squadron, Millennium Falcon, you’re cleared for departure,” the deck officer says, over comms. “Bring Princess Leia back safe.”

“See you at Chandrila!” Luke calls out, and they’re off, weaving through what’s left of the Fleet at the rendezvous point.

“I have one ship,” Bodhi protests, as the Liberty streaks off to hyperspace before them, the small blips of X-wings following behind. The navicomputer beeps the alert for them to jump, and he pulls back on the lever, watching the stars blur. “This one, the one you’re sitting in. Luke gave it to me.”

Dak shakes his head. “Yeah, of course, but you—the cargo shuttle and the Raptor you just brought back, they’re both in the official registry under your name too.”

“That’s not possible,” Bodhi says, utterly bewildered. “This is my ship. The other—I almost died in that shuttle—who would’ve put it in under my name and not told me? I never work on it, I hardly ever fly it, I didn’t even fly it up to the Redemption when we left Thila Base.”

Dak raises his hands helplessly. “I don’t know, but that’s what the computer found when I looked you up in the database. You have three ships.”

“I’m going to fix this,” Bodhi swears, and then—“You looked me up?”

“When Luke called and said he needed me to fly with you—I mean, everyone knows about you, what you did, I just thought I should get up to date on what you’ve been doing since, um, then.” Dak’s face is alight with awe.

Bodhi holds up a finger. “I get the feeling I should probably review what goes into my friends’ reports more often,” he says, wryly. “But, okay, you know a lot about me, I don’t know anything about you, sorry—”

“There’s not a lot to tell.” Dak looks down, his face somber. “Grew up in the prison camp on Kalist VI, escaped with a Rebel pilot who was imprisoned with us, ended up out here, uh, hoping to avenge him.”

“Oh.” Bodhi sighs. “I’m sorry.”

Dak looks back up, shrugging. “Pretty much the same story as everybody else, right?”

“I guess,” Bodhi murmurs.

“But hey, if this goes well, maybe I’ll get to be part of Rogue Squadron, like you,” Dak says, cheering up again.

“Oh, I’m not part—” Bodhi stops. Yes, I am. I’m Rogue One. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m sure you will.”

*****

The Interdictor yanks them all out of hyperspace straight into something out of Bodhi’s worst fears—well, maybe not the worst, but certainly nearing the top of the list: a battle already in progress, streaks of laserfire burning through the sky, death swift and sudden all around him. A Star Destroyer in orbit, casting the same shadow over Hanna City as had loomed over Jedha until the day it died.

But we can still save Chandrila—Bodhi throws full power to the engines and chases Luke and Wedge down towards the atmosphere, blazing past the Liberty—there’s a couple pairs of TIE fighters making a slashing attack run on the Mon Calamari cruiser—a couple of Green Squadron Y-wings break off their push towards the Interdictor and chase after them, far too slowly, in Bodhi’s view.

The Star Destroyer’s turbolasers aren’t firing back at the Rebellion’s ships. It’s a relief, until Bodhi realizes they’re occasionally firing on Chandrila; columns of smoke are ugly gashes in a circle around Hanna City. He swallows and winces as something explodes off to port. Maybe I am too late again. I’m sorry—

“You sure you got this under control, General?” Solo calls over comms. The Falcon banks sharply to cover a third, even more sluggish Y-wing coming about to help the Liberty.

“Get planetside, Captain Solo,” Rieekan snaps. “Charging ion cannons—”

“Incoming,” Dak yelps—a pair of TIEs are roaring past, spitting laser fire; the Cadera rocks, but the shields hold. A couple of X-wings peel off to starboard, chasing the Imperials down.

“Don’t get too far, Rogue Two, Rogue Seven,” Luke orders.

The Liberty fires a pair of ion pulses at the Interdictor; one shot goes well wide, but the other finds its target, hitting one of cruiser’s four gravity well generators. Bodhi breathes out, shakily. We won’t be trapped. Rieekan will take care of it.

“Coming right back to you, Rogue Leader,” Kasan says. “Oh, fuck!

“Yeah, hold tight,” Luke replies, and beside Bodhi, Dak gasps and grips the firing controls so hard his knuckles go white—there’s an entire squadron of TIE fighters flying straight at them.

Wedge says, “Want to try out that screen formation we’ve been practicing?”

“Do it.” Luke’s picking off TIEs one by one, cleanly; fiery dust blows past the Cadera’s viewport as they continue to dive towards Chandrila. “Rogue One, stay close.”

Yeah,” Bodhi says. “Wait, screen formation?” Shit, when’s the last time I looked in on what they’ve been doing?

“Ha,” Solo calls. “You boys—”

“Hey—”

“Sorry, Kasan—you kids pull your fancy formation, or whatever, I’ll be down in Hanna City getting a drink with Her Royalness. Yell if you need me.”

“Zev’s older’n you, Solo,” Janson points out, as the Falcon’s overdrive fires, and it goes spiralling down to the atmosphere.

“Thank you, Wes,” Zev says, dryly. “Okay, Rogue Leader, on your mark.”

Go,” Luke calls, and suddenly the X-wings around the Cadera shift position, forming up as a loose sphere. But they don’t stay in one position for long, swapping places and weaving about, keeping TIE fighters from being able to get to Bodhi.

Overhead, the Liberty’s closing on the Interdictor, using the cruiser for cover against the Star Destroyer, which is starting to point its cannons back towards the Rebel ships instead of Chandrila, at last. Bodhi shudders, because he has no idea what Rieekan’s going to do about the Star Destroyer, and Green Squadron’s starting to collapse—he can’t see more than five Y-wings coming around for another pass at the Interdictor.

But he has his own problems to worry about; Wedge’s screen formation is tight, and he has to stay right on the lead X-wing’s tail—no matter who it is—the whole way down to the planet, correcting his course when they do, cringing as the X-wing to port takes out a TIE fighter and its panels careen apart towards the Cadera, impacting on the shields and deflecting away.  He holds his breath as they get close to the planet’s surface and bombers roar past on a circuit around the perimeter of Hanna City.

Dak is staring, horrified, out the viewport at the bombed-out buildings and smoking gardens; Seerdon’s had most of a day to wreck the place, and he clearly has had no compunctions about doing so. “Seerdon's from here, too," Dak mutters. "They're his own people. He’s killing his own people—”

Bodhi trembles. “Luke, we have to help.”

“I knew you were gonna say that, but first things first, okay? We gotta take care of these bombers or we won’t have a chance to save the city. Han, get back here,” Luke orders. “Rogue One, find Leia. Hobbie, you’re on their escort.”

“Copy that,” Bodhi says, his mouth dry, and five of the X-wings break off in pursuit of the TIE bombers; the Falcon swerves around the remaining skyscrapers—Chandrila’s architecture is still graceful even as it burns—and follows.

“Shit, oh shit,” Dak is muttering. “Walkers, Bodhi, there are walkers!” Bodhi glances out, and down; there’s seven AT-STs marching on Hanna City.

Hobbie says, “I really hope you guys got all of the phrik Seerdon was messing around with, or we are well and truly screwed.”

“I hope so too,” Bodhi calls. “Dak, I need you to take over the helm, I have to get the comms up. Look for someplace safe to set down, and tell me where.”

Dak looks terrified, but nods, and Bodhi switches helm controls over to him, starts patching into the Imperial system, his hands shaking as the transceiver locks onto the signal and amplifies. Okay. I can do this— “This is Rogue One calling anyone who can hear me in Hanna City—we’re here to help, we’re—we’re coming in to—” He glances at Dak.

“The—the park, it’s the wild game reserve,” Dak stammers. “There, on the western edge of the city—” Bodhi scans the distance for it and spots its endless fields of green and gold; the bombers haven’t been hitting it at all.

It’s our only chance.

“We’re evacuating people out of the wild game reserve,” Bodhi says into the comms. “We’ve got more—more help coming, get to the reserve. I repeat, this is Rogue One—if you can hear me, we can get you out.” He switches lines, praying that Leia heard. “Rogue Four, I need you to keep the walkers away from there. Do you copy? I need those walkers gone.”

“Yeah, I got you covered,” Hobbie replies, and his X-wing swoops down, baiting the AT-STs, drawing their fire as Bodhi takes the controls back from Dak and races off.

Hobbie screams, and Bodhi’s heart leaps into his throat, but he can’t go back for him, he has to get Leia, my orders are to get Leia—“Hobbie!” Wedge yells, and through the smoke and ruin of the cityscape Bodhi sees his X-wing breaking off pursuit of a TIE bomber to come back around for their friend.

“Ow, fuck me, ow,” Hobbie mutters, “Took a bad hit, but I think—” he pants for breath. “I think my R2’s got it locked down—”

“Get out of here, I’ll cover Rogue One,” Luke says, urgently. The Cadera shakes; there’s a trio of AT-STs on the sensors, steadily pursuing them along the outskirts of Hanna City.

Dak looks at Bodhi. “Shields are holding, but anytime you want me to return fire, sir—” Bodhi closes his eyes for a moment, trying to steady his breathing. Opens his eyes again and shakes his head. The Cadera’s tough. We can take it.

“And go where? That Interdictor’s still up there, I’m with you for the duration.” Hobbie hisses through his teeth with pain, and Bodhi shivers in fear and sympathy.

“Okay,” Luke says, reluctantly. “Hang in there, Rogue Four—”

The Cadera’s other comm line lights up, and Bodhi, startled, slaps at the switch— Chandrila’s systems are back online?

But it’s not Leia, or anyone else Bodhi would want to hear from; instead, the clipped accent of Moff Seerdon fills the cockpit. “Rebel scum. Your resistance is useless; your little fighters are no match for my walkers.”

“Blast, he’s here,” Kasan snarls. “Where?”

“Oh, that voice, I remember that lovely voice,” Seerdon says, sounding delighted. “Kasan Moor. How pathetic, allying yourself with the Rebel criminals who stole my research and destroyed my facility.”

Kasan laughs. There's a disturbing note in it, cruel and cold. “I destroyed your facility on Taloraan, my dear Kohl.”

“Ah, of course. As you remember, darling, my retaliation shall be swift and just.” Seerdon’s gone silky, and terrible, and Dak is shrinking back in the co-pilot’s chair at the sound of the Moff’s voice. Bodhi trembles, but stays on his heading for the game reserve, watching Luke and Wedge and Hobbie on sensors harrying the AT-STs still stalking him. “Unfortunate to lose such a fine officer, but the weak will die off to make room for the strong. It is the way of the universe.” Seerdon switches off with an equally cold laugh.

“Luke, where is he?” Kasan demands, furiously.

“I don’t know, Kasan. Stay focused on the mission.” Luke’s firm. “Rogue Squadron, keep an eye out; he could be planning something we haven’t picked up on yet.”

Dak covers the comm pickup with his hand. “Couldn’t you trace the transmission back to him?”

Bodhi shakes his head, wide-eyed. “Seerdon could be anywhere on the planet, and even if he’s close—we don’t have the time.” He flies the Cadera over the walls of the wild game reserve and sets down just inside the wide-open gates. “Luke?”

“You’re in the clear,” Luke calls back. “Seerdon was wrong.” He sounds pleased. “Walkers are disabled, and we’re chasing down a couple last bombers.”

Bodhi exhales. “Thank you.”

“Any time,” Luke replies, warmly. “Be right back.”  

“Rogue One, I hope you’ve got a medic on board, we’ve got wounded headed to you,” comes a new, and very welcome voice over comms.

“Yes, yes, Your Highness,” Bodhi pounds a fist on the console happily, grinning at Dak. “Get your gear, they’re going to need you.” The ramp lowers, and Bodhi runs down into the meter-high green-and-gold grass, waving frantically at the trickle of people moving towards him from the city limits a quarter kilometer away—a small figure in white bringing up the rear. There’s too many for the Cadera, but the Falcon’s got room, or we can run people up to the Liberty—

—out of the city, launching from a pad he hadn’t picked up on scanners, folding down its wings for flight, comes a Sentinel-class shuttle, cannons aimed straight at—

“Let’s go!” Bodhi shouts, his heart hammering in his chest as he sprints towards the evacuees, their staggered line collapsing into chaos as they see the ship, too. “Come on, come on, we have to go!”

(Running towards the U-wing as Jedha died around them, Tonc screaming for Baze to hurry on Scarif's beach—)

Now’s Seerdon’s chance—

From behind him, the Cadera’s suddenly spitting cover fire—Dak’s accurate as hell, but the Sentinel’s shields are too good, and Bodhi had never installed anything heavier than laser cannons—it’s not enough. There’s screams from the people running towards him, and he thinks, bizarrely, that he’s never heard anyone scream when they were about to die before. Bodhi flings himself down into the grass, staring up at the sky as the Sentinel closes in, a shadow in the summer sun, praying that it’ll be over quick, the way Jedha had died, that the Chandrilans won’t suffer—

A trio of X-wings soar overhead, and Bodhi rolls over onto his back, shaking, watching Luke—because who else would it be—leading a relentless attack, cannons blazing, driving Seerdon’s ship away and up into the atmosphere.

Bodhi gets to his knees, fumbling around for his goggles in the thick grass, and Dak runs down to him, yelling his name. “I’m okay.” He puts his goggles back on his forehead with trembling hands. “I—thanks, Dak.”

“You’re welcome,” Dak says, pulling Bodhi to his feet. “Sorry I couldn’t do much more than scratch the paint.”

“It did the job.” Bodhi pats him on the arm, gratefully, and looks at the evacuees straggling towards them again; there’s terror and tears on nearly every face, but they’re alive. He takes a breath. “Let’s get the Chandrilans on board.”

It takes a while to get as many people as they can into the Cadera, even with Leia organizing it. The injuries are minimal—a few very bad burns and a broken leg, but Bodhi has a painful suspicion that anyone who’d been hurt worse, in the city, is already gone, and anyone who was really healthy had fled as soon as the attack began.

Leia stands at the bottom of the ramp, looking up after a woman who looks surprisingly like she could be Leia’s twin, were it not for her white hair. “Did they get Seerdon?”

“I don’t know,” Bodhi says, looking up anxiously into the sky after where Luke and the rest of Rogue Squadron had gone. “Are you all right?” He glances down at her face; her eyes are dark, and he wonders if she’s thinking of Alderaan, the same way he’d thought of Jedha, homeworlds and people lost to the deliberate cruelty of the Empire.

She nods, though. “Are you?”

A formation of X-wings—plus the Falcon—drops out of the clouds, and Bodhi smiles, and finally breathes easily, smelling the sweet grass instead of ozone and his own fear. “I am now.”

The Falcon lands next to the Cadera, and Luke puts down just outside the reserve’s gates, making Solo first to them. He jabs a finger at Leia, as she directs the rest of the evacuees to the Falcon, where Chewbacca’s waiting—“So this is the classified mission you were on? Why couldn’t Mon Mothma have just come home to do whatever it was you were—”

Leia whirls on him furiously. “I do not have to explain to you everything I’m doing, Captain Solo, I’m not your wife.

Solo’s mouth drops open. He splays his hands out to his sides and demands, at full volume, drawing attention from a few Chandrilans making their way to his ship. “Are you still mad about—”

Luke runs up—Bodhi shakes his head, his eyes widening, and pulls him away from Solo and Leia shouting at each other, and Luke laughs.

“Ignore them,” Luke says, throwing his helmet down, and tackles Bodhi into the grass, out of sight of anyone, kissing him giddily. Bodhi whimpers as Luke captures his lower lip and sucks hard, as determined and fierce as when he’d been commanding the squadron.

Stars, Luke,” Bodhi manages, gasping their shared breath. “We still have to get offworld—the Interdictor—”

Luke props himself up sideways on one elbow and grins. “The Interdictor’s destroyed.”

“It’s done?” Bodhi asks, breathing fast, touching Luke’s face gently.

“Yeah, the Star Destroyer pulled out once they got Seerdon on board. And Hobbie’s on the Liberty, he’s okay, they dumped him in a bacta tank.” Luke grimaces. “Mon Mothma’s on her way in now to lead the repair effort. We can stay and help out some, if you want, after you drop the evacuees off at Nayli.”

“The evacuees—” Bodhi struggles to sit up. Luke rolls to his feet and offers his hand to help him get up. Bodhi looks around the side of the Cadera; there’s a handful of Chandrilans making their way up into the Falcon—and Solo and Leia are storming off in separate directions.

“I guess we’ll pick this up later,” Luke says, amused, and walks Bodhi back around to the Cadera’s ramp, where Dak’s jogging down to them.

“Rieekan wants to know how the evacuation’s going,” he says, breathlessly. “And then he wants you home to discuss hitting Sullust, Commander.”

“I’ll handle it.” Luke nods. “Bodhi, if you want to stay and help Mon Mothma—”

Dak shakes his head. “No, you both have to go back, sorry. Rieekan said.”

Bodhi frowns. “Oh. Um, okay.” Luke kisses him quickly, apologetically, and runs back to his X-wing. Bodhi gazes at the devastated city, wishing there was something more he could do, but Leia’s calling his name, too, and he turns and goes up the ramp into the Cadera.

Chapter Text

There is something more Bodhi can do, before they go home again.

Leia somehow thinks that he, of all people, is a calming enough presence to stay with the people who don’t require immediate medical attention, and who are simply waiting for Nayli City’s aid workers to process them, while she and her white-haired counterpart go to meet with a kind-eyed, but bureaucratic official about short-term plans for resettlement.

“I’m supposed to take you back,” Bodhi says, anxiously. “Rieekan—”

But Leia simply raises her eyebrows at him. He stops, and nods, and watches her walk away. Bodhi supposes she could fly back in the Falcon if he left, but the way she keeps glaring at Solo, even as he’s helping with supplies, makes Bodhi fairly certain Chewbacca’s going to put his hairy foot down about having the two of them screaming at each other in the cockpit the whole way back. And besides—he’d wanted to help, after all, and he can’t persuade anyone like Leia can, or do what Dak’s doing with Nayli’s medical team.

So Bodhi stays put. He sorts out blankets and food and emergency supplies donated by the citizens of Nayli City for a while, wearing a path into the green-and-gold grass where most of the evacuees prefer to wait. The late afternoon sun is warm on his face when he steps off the permacrete; it’s a nicer day than it has any right to be. They’re far enough away from Hanna City that he can’t see the smoke, though there are periodically bright fireballs streaking through the sky from the destroyed Interdictor.

Or TIE fighters. Or Green Squadron. Whoever else didn’t make it.

Bodhi stops looking up.

As he hands supplies around, he reluctantly lets the Chandrilans thank him, quietly, or through tears; lets them sob on his shoulder for what they’ve lost. And some of them talk to him about how it all happened so fast, one minute they were just—and then the next thing they knew—

He mumbles a few scattered reassurances that taste like ash and sand in his mouth, but no one seems to need Bodhi to say much of anything at all. The evacuees just want him there to listen, and it’s easier to do that than it is to think, or remember.

Bodhi doesn’t even know if any of the Chandrilans recognize him for anyone other than an Rebel pilot, but it doesn’t matter. Not while he’s crouched down in front of a three-year-old, attempting to distract the boy with his goggles, his comlink; anything that’ll give the boy’s poor mother a chance to handle the datapad the aid worker’s trying to get her to fill out.

But as the boy shrieks happily and pulls on the strap of his goggles, someone says, too loud and echoing into the hangar, striving to put Seerdon’s attack in perspective: “Well, at least it wasn’t the Death Star.”

Bodhi flinches, and glances around for the speaker. It’s a young man sitting in the grass, a meter or so away, holding hands with a woman who’s frowning and trying to shush him, whispering urgently, “—from Jedha, from Alderaan, you idiot—”

The boy’s mother presses Bodhi’s goggles back into his hands. “Thank you for playing with him.” Her eyes are wet, but she’s found a smile, somewhere, and Bodhi replies, softly, “Good luck.”

She takes her son’s hand and turns to follow the aid worker. “May the Force be with you, Lieutenant.” Bodhi watches them go, trying to block out the couple arguing about the relative scales of devastation across the galaxy, because it doesn’t matter that Jedha still technically exists compared to Alderaan: his home is gone, and there’s no evacuees to resettle except for him and Chirrut and Baze.

“I’m sorry about those two, Bodhi,” someone says, and he looks over to see Leia’s white-haired colleague grimacing as she strolls up to him. “The Chandrilan political ideal is argumentation and debate, and while that made for a thrilling Senatorial process, it doesn’t hold up as well under these circumstances.” She holds out her hand to him. “You can call me Winter.”

“They just lost their homes,” Bodhi murmurs, shaking her hand. “They just lost everything, and—”

“And it’ll sink in soon enough, you and I both know that,” Winter says, and Bodhi realizes her hair is braided up very much like Kasan’s had been; she’s Alderaanian, too. “The important thing, now, is what they’ll do about it. What Chandrila’s government will do in response.” She tilts her head as Leia joins them, looking pale and exhausted, but her eyes are bright. “Ready to go?”

Leia nods. “Captain Solo’s heading back to the Redemption.” She gestures for them to go back to the Cadera; the Falcon’s already engaged its repulsorlifts and is starting to make its way out of the hangar. “Is your co-pilot back?”

“I don’t know,” Bodhi says, but Dak is already in the ship. He’s sitting in the co-pilot’s seat, staring out the viewport sort of blankly.

“Oh—I should’ve—” Dak starts flipping toggles for the pre-start, not meeting Bodhi’s gaze. “I’m sorry, Lieutenant, Your Highness, it’ll be just a moment.”

“Whenever you’re ready,” Leia says, leaning back in the jump seat and closing her eyes. She’s asleep before they even hit hyperspace; when Bodhi glances back again, she finally looks peaceful even as her head nods slowly sideways onto Winter’s shoulder. He has no idea what they’d done on Chandrila, before Seerdon’s attack, but he’d pieced together from the evacuees that she’d organized everything during it, from getting as many people out at the start as she could, to preparing for a ground resistance in case of a prolonged siege.

It makes him wonder what the hell her childhood must’ve been like. Bodhi doesn’t know how old she is, has never checked the records, but she’s definitely no older than himself, or possibly Luke. He can’t imagine growing up under the shadow of lineage and legacy instead of occupation, but maybe it’s all about surviving expectations.

“Bodhi, was that what it was like, on Jedha?” Dak asks, quietly, some time later, once Winter’s also drifted off to sleep. “When—the Death Star—”

Bodhi turns to look at him, tensing up.

“Did you—did you see it happen—”

“What in blazes makes you think I want to talk about this right now?” Bodhi asks, too sharply.

Dak swallows and drops his gaze. “I thought you were all going to die,” he says. “It’s my first mission, and I thought I was going to have to watch everyone be killed right there in front of me.”

Oh. Bodhi breathes out slowly. “Yeah. Yeah, it was like that, except—I was—I knew everyone was already—” Dak’s gone pale, and Bodhi thinks, that wasn’t in the database, was it.

He bites his lip. “They—the Chandrilans had a better chance, though.” Bodhi can tell, even without checking, that Leia’s awake again behind them, and he wants to ask—is this what you do, to atone?

“Because of us.” Dak brightens up a bit, but his eyes still track Bodhi’s face cautiously. “Because we got here in time.”

Bodhi nods; he abruptly can’t trust himself to speak.

Leia reaches forward and touches his arm, but she says to Dak, “For your first time out with Rogue Squadron, I think you handled the situation very well.” Dak jumps in surprise and looks back at her, his mouth falling open a little.

“Your Highness—but I didn’t—”

She smiles. “I know good shooting when I see it, Dak.”

Bodhi gathers himself, and offers, “Good flying, too.” He pauses. “If you want, I can talk to Luke about making your assignment to Rogue Squadron permanent.”

Leia pokes him very hard in the ribs, out of Dak’s line of sight— okay, maybe I’m not supposed to do that—but Dak’s smiling at the idea, and it’s much, much easier to talk about Rogue Squadron than it is anything else, for the rest of the flight back to the Redemption. Winter provides a few stories about Wedge and Hobbie’s early days with the Rebellion, the details as precise as if they’d happened yesterday.

Bodhi finds himself laughing, unexpectedly, as they come home; the pilots’ prank war has a long and apparently fairly inglorious history, and Leia looks at him, like she's never heard him laugh before. Which, come to think of it, Bodhi's never heard her laugh, either, though he's seen her smile, sometimes, at Luke, or, when she thinks no one's watching, at Solo, when he’s not being an ass.

Once they’ve docked, Winter draws Dak back into the hold, purportedly asking for his help going over her report. Bodhi suspects she doesn’t need it in the slightest—there’s something odd about the way she retells things, as if she’s getting them letter-perfect—and is only doing it to give Leia a chance to talk to him alone.

Leia doesn’t get up for a minute, letting Bodhi make his fortunately shorter-than-usual list of repairs on a datapad. And then when he’s done, she stands and rests her hand on his shoulder, gazing down at him for a long moment, and he tries to straighten up under her steady scrutiny. “I hope you haven’t forgotten what I asked of you, a year ago,” she says. “I still would very much like to hear about Jedha. When we have the time, not now.”

Bodhi licks his dry lips. “I haven’t forgotten.” He dares to put a hand on top of hers on his shoulder. “You’re really all right, Your—Leia? Chandrila’s a Core world, was it—was it like being on—”

“Nothing will ever be like Alderaan.” Leia shakes her head, slowly, at him. “But I think—I hope—the Alderaanian refugees will be happy there.”

That’s what your classified mission was,” Bodhi says, realization dawning on him. “Finding a new home for them.”

She nods. “You do understand you’re not actually cleared to know this.”

“Then why are you—” Bodhi frowns up at her.

“If I can resettle a few thousand Alderaanians, I can certainly find a home to suit the last three Jedhans,” Leia says, firmly. “If you want, for after this is all over.” Bodhi trembles under her hand, his vision blurring.

Leia leans down to kiss his forehead. And then she steps back, and one of her rare amused smiles is on her lips. “Unless Luke’s promised you something?”

He huffs a startled laugh and swipes at his eyes. “No.”

“I didn’t think so, he would’ve told me about it,” Leia says, thoughtfully. “Anyway. Think about it.” She pats his shoulder, turning to go. “Oh—I’ll put in a word about Dak. Your relationship to Rogue Squadron’s complicated enough already.”

“Thanks, Leia,” Bodhi says, and means it.

“It’s the least I can do,” she replies, equally sincerely, and heads down the ramp, Winter following after her.

Bodhi takes a deep breath, pulling himself out of spiralling after thoughts of home, and calls, “Dak?”

“Yeah, Lieutenant?” Dak’s organizing his medical supplies in the hold.

“I bet the rest of Rogue Squadron’s still meeting with General Rieekan, if you want to come see what that’s like.” Bodhi gets up out of his seat, rubbing his eyes.  

“Okay,” Dak says, looking entirely too thrilled at the idea of a meeting.

Both Rieekan and Draven are in the briefing room. Cassian and Jyn and Luke stand with them, around the display table, gazing up at the projection of Sullust and Seerdon’s Capacitor, and Kasan is saying, “I’ve never been inside—”

“Bodhi,” Cassian says, coming towards them, and all heads turn towards him and Dak. Cassian grabs his arms and shakes him. “Dammit, Bodhi.” Bodhi tries to get his hands on Cassian’s—Luke’s grinning—

“We’ll debrief you two later,” Rieekan says, a smile flickering over his lined face. “But you actually don’t need to be here for this part. Go rest.”

“What?” Bodhi blinks. “Why not? I’m going with Rogue Squadron to Sullust too, aren’t I?” He looks at Draven.

Draven’s arms are folded over his chest. He shakes his head. “I have something else in mind for you.” He raises his eyebrows at Dak. “Both of you.”

Bodhi looks at Cassian; he’s nodding. “It’s a good idea,” Cassian says. “We’ll talk about it after.” He makes a shooing motion at Bodhi. “Go lie down for a bit.” Bodhi stares at him uncomprehendingly; over his shoulder, Jyn’s smiling, too.

“You’re dismissed, Lieutenant,” Draven says, more firmly. “I’ll send Captain Andor to get you.”

“Good job today,” Luke calls, smiling at Bodhi through the holo projection.

“Aww,” Wedge murmurs, and Bodhi makes a face at him as he goes.

“That was weird,” Dak says, in the corridor.

“Yeah,” Bodhi agrees, baffled. “Um, I’m gonna go back and work until they get me, d’you have stuff you need to do, or—?”

Dak nods. “I should check in with the docs.” He hesitates, and then says, “Thanks, Bodhi.”

“For what?”

“For letting me fly your ship.” Dak smiles. “One of them, anyway.”

“You’ll get your own,” Bodhi says. “I know it.” Dak flashes a pleased grin at him as he leaves.

Back in the cockpit of the Cadera again, Bodhi stands in the cockpit, trying to orient himself to work and, for once, utterly failing. He can’t bring himself to look at Green Squadron’s casualties, but he looks up Hobbie and finds he’s been transferred to the Redemption for treatment.

The comms flash, and Bodhi hits the toggle. “Cassian?”

“Hey.” It’s Solo.

Bodhi glances out the viewport, across the hangar, and sees Solo sitting in the cockpit of the Falcon, staring at him, apparently unneeded for the Sullust planning meeting too. Bodhi sighs. “She didn’t say anything about you.”

“I wasn’t—” Solo splutters an aggrieved noise into the comm. “I wasn’t calling about Leia. I mean, I was. Am. But not—dammit, kid, I was going to say—” He stops. “That was a useful trick you pulled with the comms, even if it did tip off Seerdon about what you were doing—”

Bodhi smiles faintly down at the console. “Solo?”

“Yeah?”

“You're welcome. Oh, and, uh, maybe don't lead off with yelling next time you're trying to tell Leia you're glad she's safe,” Bodhi suggests. “Just an idea.”

Solo sighs. “Yeah. Did she happen to say why she was on Chandrila in the first place?”

Bodhi hesitates for a long moment, thinking of the little boy tugging on his goggles, and angry spirits, and home. His heart aches. 

“It’s classified.”

Chapter Text

“So where am I going instead of Sullust?” Bodhi asks, trying to keep from sounding frustrated, an hour or so later, as Cassian points him to the empty chair in Draven’s office. He hadn’t said a word about the mission on their way up from the hangar bay, only asked about Chandrila and Luke. Jyn’s already sitting in the other chair, looking over something on a datapad; she looks up briefly at him and smiles, and, unusually for one of these little meetings, Kaytoo is standing at her side. He dips his head at Bodhi in greeting.

“Thyferra,” Draven replies. “With a medical team, who are supposed to be—” he checks his chrono— “On their way straight here off shift.” The general puts his hands on his desk and leans forward. “Did Ralter meet your standards for a co-pilot?”

“Ralter? Oh, you mean Dak. Yeah, I’d fly with him again, any time.” Bodhi nods. “Uh, sir, while we’re waiting—?”

Draven tilts his head. “Yes?”

“Do you know anything about why there are three ships officially registered under my name?”

“What?” Cassian comes off of where he’d leaned up against the side of Draven’s desk. “There are?”

“I had no idea until Dak told me,” Bodhi says, flustered and a bit relieved at Cassian’s surprise. Jyn’s blinking over at him, too; not one of the many, many things they actually do keep secret from him, then.

Draven frowns. “That’s not a question I have an answer for, Bodhi.” He taps his console, though, and pulls up the relevant file, the same one Bodhi had checked after Solo stopped pestering him. And there they all are: the Zeta-class cargo shuttle he’d taken from Eadu, the Cadera—the only one with a name and not just a registry number—and the Y-4a Raptor from Fest. “This is interesting, and not how seized Imperial ships are usually processed.”

Kaytoo looks as embarrassed as a security droid can. “It might be my fault,” he admits, slowly.

“Kay, what did you do?” Cassian asks.

“The base on Yavin IV was in chaos when we returned from trying to find Princess Leia,” Kaytoo says. “Someone asked me whose ship it was, and I may have pointed at Bodhi. It must’ve been a deck officer who asked me.”

“Well, that answers that.” Jyn raises her eyebrows, smiling a little.

“I was distracted because Cassian was hurt,” Kaytoo says, defensively, and Jyn’s mouth thins into an unhappy line.

“And the Raptor?” Bodhi asks.

“Not my doing,” Kaytoo says.

Cassian’s lips twitch. “Bodhi, you are turning pirate on us.”

Bodhi glances up at Draven. “Shouldn’t I—shouldn’t they be the Rebellion’s ships? We need ships, we always need more ships—Kaytoo’s flown the cargo shuttle more than I have since we got it.”

“Consider them on loan to the cause.” Draven’s faintly amused. “If they’re still serviceable after the war, they’re yours.”

Bodhi’s mouth falls open. “You’re—you’re sure.”

Draven shrugs. “No one who’s noticed has said you can’t have them, and frankly, it gives you more options for a mission like this one.” He nods at the datapad in Jyn’s hands.

“I own three ships.” Bodhi sits back in the chair, rubbing his hand over his beard, feeling stunned. “I own three ships?”

“Makes you a rich man, Bodhi,” Cassian says, his mouth twitching again. “You'll have to come up with two more names.”

“I—” Bodhi starts, but the door behind him slides open, and Dak and a medic come in; she’s the Twi’lek woman Bodhi had talked to, wandering around the Redemption his first night on board.

“Sorry we’re late, sir,” the Twi’lek says to Draven.

He nods acknowledgement, but doesn’t make anything of it. Bodhi’s friends don’t straighten up or change anything about their demeanors at all, but there’s suddenly a tension hanging in the air. Draven says, “Lieutenant Rook, this is Dr. Yraka’Nes. She’ll be going with you to Thyferra, along with Ensign Ralter. Sergeant Erso, if you would?”

Jyn shakes her head. “Kaytoo found it, he should get to explain.” Despite the downward pull of her mouth, there’s a hint of a gleam in her eye.

“You didn’t like my explanation before,” Kaytoo says, petulantly. Draven raises an eyebrow—

Fine. In the research files I copied on Fest, I identified four recent projects of Moff Seerdon’s: expanding the tibanna mining platforms on Taloraan; the phrik armored walkers we stole; experiments with increasing energy storage in the Capacitor; and a design for a bacteriophage—” Kaytoo looks at Jyn. “I won’t go into the genetic details this time, but it is a virus specifically designed to destroy alazhi.”

“You’re joking,” Yraka'Nes says, flatly.

“Cassian, did you do something to my sarcasm subroutine? I didn’t intend that to sound like a joke.”

Bodhi asks, “Alazhi?”

“Along with kavam, alazhi is one of the key components of bacta,” Yraka’Nes answers. Her rose-colored lekku have gone pale. “The two together are necessary for bacta to function as it does.”

“So we’re going to Thyferra to—to stop an infection from destroying bacta?” Bodhi swallows, tasting the memory of the fluid in the back of his throat; from the twisted-up look on Cassian’s face, he’s remembering it too.

Draven says, “We don’t know if Seerdon's had a chance to infect the production facilities or not. Thyferra is neutral space; he doesn't control it or any neighboring sectors, but—” His mouth twists. “Karrde's information on his movements was fairly thorough, but there are some gaps we can't account for. While our own supplies are fine, for now, we need you to go to Thyferra and determine if the bacta there has been contaminated.”

Dak looks sick at the thought. “Seerdon would really do that? Destroy years’ worth of bacta?”

Jyn smiles at him, but there isn't a trace of amusement in it. “He most certainly would. This is the Empire we’re dealing with. They released that plague on Dentaal, remember? Not to mention a little thing called the Death Star.”

“It'll hurt the Empire, too,” Dak objects.

“Not as much as you think,” Bodhi says, looking down at where he’s laced his fingers tightly together in his lap. “I don't know that I ever saw a stormtrooper go into a bacta tank.” They’d never have put me in one. Dak makes a soft sound of dismay.

Yraka’Nes asks, “Shouldn’t testing at the facility be able to catch contaminated production?”

Cassian says, quietly, “People can be bought. A manager here, an altered test result there—” Bodhi glances back up at his friend; these sound like things Cassian knows from experience—and Cassian lifts his hands, spreading his fingers to suggest dispersal. “No more bacta.”

“It sounds paranoid, I know,” Jyn says, looking around at Yraka’Nes and Dak’s distressed expressions. Bodhi wonders, briefly, if there was ever a time when his friends weren’t this paranoid. He doubts it. “But Seerdon did create phrik-armored walkers. I piloted one myself.”

“That’s why your team is this size, Lieutenant.” Draven’s leaning forward over his desk again. “You’ll be able to get in quietly. Find out if the bacta’s been infected, and if it has, bring back a sample for our medics and scientists to work on a cure.”

“Or a vaccine to prevent the spread of it to the fungal medium in which alazhi is grown,” Yraka’Nes muses. She exhales slowly. “I need the research files to start developing a test for the bacteriophage. It’ll take some time.”

“You’ve got a couple of days at best,” Draven warns her, as Jyn hands her up the datapad. “We’d like this operation to go off at the same time as the attack on Sullust.”

Yraka’Nes inclines her head slightly. “I assume this information is highly classified?”

“Only the people in this room know about the virus,” Cassian replies. “You can have Dak to help, but that’s it. There’s no sense in starting a panic about a bacta shortage when we don’t have enough information yet.”

She nods again, looking over the datapad. “We’ll get started immediately.”

“Keep me apprised of your progress, Doctor,” Draven says, and dismisses them all.

Out in the corridor, Cassian turns to Bodhi, who’s mulling the mission over; there’s something Draven had said that’s sticking in his mind. “Come have dinner with us?”

Bodhi holds up a finger at him as the realization hits him. “Did—did Draven say this was my team? As in—I’m in command?”

“Of two people,” Kaytoo observes. “Who know a lot more about viruses and bacteria than you.”

“Yes, thank you, Kaytoo, but—JynCassian, are you arranging things for me again?”

“Come have dinner with us,” Cassian repeats, more firmly, taking hold of his arm and walking them all to the turbolift past a couple of Draven’s aides. Bodhi shuts up, looking back and forth between his friends, bewildered.

“We have been arranging things,” Cassian says, letting go of his arm once the turbolift’s in motion. “Because even though you don’t keep track—” he pulls a datapad out of his jacket and presses it into Bodhi’s hands. “We do.”

Bodhi looks down at the datapad. It’s a running display of names and numbers, and very near the top of the list, just after Luke Skywalker, is his own name, and a staggeringly high number of credits. “This is—this is—” 

“Why you’re not going to Sullust,” Jyn says. “Too many people. Too many desperate people who’d jump at the chance to buy their way out from under Imperial occupation. You know how it is.” Her eyes are dark. “We can’t stop Luke from going and potentially getting himself caught or killed, but we can keep you out of it.”

“How did this get so high?” Bodhi’s voice cracks.

“You’ve committed quite a list of crimes against the Empire,” Kaytoo points out. “And you are not as sneaky about it as Cassian and Jyn are.”

Jyn tilts her head. “That about sums it up, really. You and Luke weren’t especially good about staying off of security cameras on Kessel.”

Kaytoo says, “It was a prison, they have those.”

Bodhi is trying not to hyperventilate. “Oh my stars, Kessel. Shit, where else—”

“We should not have had you with us on Fest,” Cassian says. His eyes are somber. “Draven thought it would be all right since I was doing Sward, but—” He shakes his head. “Running into that mechanic could have gone much worse than it did.” Cassian’s gaze flicks down to where Bodhi still isn’t carrying Roja’s blaster.

“I’m—I’m not going to hide,” Bodhi protests, uneasily. “I’m in this to the end with you. Luke, Solo, Leia, everyone else on this list, Mon Mothma—they keep fighting even though they’re in just as much danger—”

“That’s why you’re still going to Thyferra,” Cassian says, as the turbolift doors slide open on their deck. “Will you come have dinner, please?”

“Yeah, yeah, okay.” Bodhi pushes off the back wall of the turbolift and follows them down the corridor to their quarters, both touched at their concern and a shade annoyed, but still mostly just perplexed. “That doesn’t explain why you’re putting me in charge. I’m a pilot, not a spy.”

Kaytoo swivels his head to look at him. “Yraka’Nes is a doctor, not a spy.”

“And you have much more experience than Dak, of course.” Cassian unlocks their door. “Oh, sorry about the mess. We’ve been packing for Sullust.”

Bodhi gapes at the arsenal laid out on their bed. “I thought Baze wasn’t back yet,” he says, eyeing some of the heavier artillery.

“No, these are ours,” Jyn tells him. “You steal ships; we steal weapons. This is only half of it.” She frowns, running her critical gaze over the assorted pile. “Cassian, where’s my A-180?”

“Under your pillow,” Cassian replies. He waves at the parts of a disassembled blaster spread neatly across the table. “Kaytoo, would you put that back together?”

Kaytoo picks up the barrel of it. “You took it apart, Cassian.” But he dutifully reassembles it while Cassian starts making dinner, and Bodhi finds their plates and utensils half-buried under a pile of datapads and flimsies, trying not to flinch at the sounds of Kaytoo efficiently fitting the trigger into place, the power pack slotting home.

“It’s not like we’re putting you in charge of a squadron straight out of nowhere, like someone else we know,” Jyn says, lightly. She’s putting their weapons into a duffel bag to clear some space on the bunk. “And Dak knows you already, right? He’ll be a good co-pilot? I mean, he’s not Luke, but you’ve got to share the last of the Jedi around a bit.”

Bodhi makes a face at her, setting their plates out on the table. “Yeah, Dak did fine. Better than I did my first time out.”

“I don’t need this, Bodhi.” Kaytoo picks up the mismatched fourth plate curiously and hands it back to him. “But thank you.”

Cassian’s spoon falls with a clatter against the side of the pan he’s been stirring. “Your first mission for the Rebellion was—was—”

“Defecting from the Empire, getting—getting captured by Saw Gerrera, and watching my home be completely obliterated?” It’s not as hard to get the words out, with them, not anymore; not when they’d been there for it, and everything after. Even if Bodhi still can’t quite bring himself to tell them about what Saw had done.

Cassian shakes his head, and says, a little reluctantly, “Scarif.”

“Oh, that’s a lot better of a comparison.” Bodhi holds back a shudder. “Everyone I was in charge of there died.”

Jyn stops packing. “Is this one of the things on your list?” Kaytoo’s looking Bodhi up and down, whirring faintly; he’s probably exhibiting all kinds of physiological responses.

“I guess it is now.” Bodhi makes a frustrated noise at himself, opening and closing his hands in front of him. “Sorry—I’m sorry. I’m all right.” Jyn is looking at him worriedly, but he pushes on. “Thyferra isn’t an Imperial world, Dak’s a good co-pilot, and the most important thing is making sure the bacta’s not destroyed. The rest of it—fuck the rest. I’m—I’m doing my part.”

“You always do, Bodhi.” Cassian steps over and wraps an arm around his shoulders, pressing a kiss to his temple.

Jyn nudges him with an elbow fondly, too, and he takes a shaky breath and points at Cassian’s simmering pan. “What else can I do to help?”

The rest of the evening is less stressful: Jyn teases Bodhi mercilessly about Luke, but that’s to be expected, now, and by the end of dinner, Cassian’s nudged the conversation around to Bodhi’s newly acquired ships while he clears away their plates. “What’re you going to name the other two? Our capital ships are all called something hopeful: the Redemption, the Defiance. Unless it’s a Mon Cal ship, in which case—” Cassian shrugs.

Bodhi makes a face. “Imperial ships were named to inspire fear, I think. The Desolator?”  

“More like the Desolated, after we got through with it,” Kaytoo offers, gleefully.

Cassian makes a pained noise, sitting back down at Jyn’s side. “Remind me to search for a new humor subroutine for Kay.”

Jyn says, as Kaytoo returns a rude, grating sound at Cassian, “Bodhi, guess what Karrde’s capital ship is named.”

“What?”

She smirks. “Lastri’s Ort.

Bodhi groans. “Please tell me you’re joking.”

“No,” Cassian says. “All of Karrde’s ships are named like that. The Etherway? Uwana Buyer?”

Bodhi cringes, leaning back in his chair. “Ugh, that’s terrible.”

“His personal ship’s the Wild Karrde,” Jyn adds, grinning.

“I suppose when you’re the multimillionaire head of the galaxy’s second largest smuggling organization, naming one ship after yourself—with a truly terrible pun, no less—isn’t the most egotistical thing you could possibly do,” Bodhi says. “Of course, I’m not calling either of these the Rookery, or—” He gestures dismissively, as Jyn snorts. “Anything like that.”

But Bodhi pauses, and looks at her, an idea surfacing brighter and more certain than memory. He licks his lips, and asks, hesitantly, “Jyn, would it be all right if I named the cargo shuttle for your father?”

Jyn’s mouth opens in shock. Cassian, still pressed up against Jyn’s side, glances away, as if to give them privacy.

“I—if you don’t want me to—I’ll think of something else,” Bodhi stammers, as dizzy as when he’d finally asked tell me what you're building, please?

Bodhi. Of course.” Jyn reaches across the table to grasp Bodhi’s hand, tethering him. And for once, the memories that drift across his mind like smoke coalesce into something that doesn't hurt: Galen Erso’s sad eyes shining like stars in his daughter’s face.

“So that’s one,” Kaytoo says, and Bodhi draws a steadying breath. “What about the Raptor?”

Cassian’s put his arm around Jyn, kissing the top of her head gently as she swipes at her eyes, but she’s smiling at Bodhi as he thinks it over.

The Cadera for Jedha’s ghosts. Galen for—ours.

The third—

He looks up at Kaytoo and smiles, knowingly.

Chapter Text

But Bodhi wants to get it right. He hadn’t looked in on the retrofitting of the cargo shuttle—no, the Galen —back on Yavin IV; if the Raptor’s going to be his, too, it ought to be fixed up as well as the Cadera. Especially with the name he’s got in mind for it.

It’ll have to wait until after Thyferra, though.

After leaving his friends, Bodhi goes up into the Cadera, mulling over how to get into a secure bacta production facility—Jyn had lots of ideas like the wounded Tarchalian gambit they’d done on Fest, though he’s fairly certain she’d kept a few back so as not to horrify him—and Luke is sprawled out asleep across both their bedrolls in the hold. He’s down to an undershirt and shorts, and with every breath, the datapad under his slack fingers is slipping down from where it had fallen on his chest. Bodhi stoops to move it before it can hit the floor and wake him—

“You’re back,” Luke mumbles, catching at Bodhi’s hand.

Bodhi leans down to kiss him. “Go back to sleep,” he whispers, but of course Luke opens his eyes instead, gazing up at him curiously. “Where are you going instead of Sullust?”

“I don’t think I’m allowed to tell you,” Bodhi murmurs, sitting down on the bedroll beside him and kicking off his boots.

Luke yawns and wriggles around so he can put his head in Bodhi’s lap. He gives Bodhi a wide-eyed, disbelieving stare. “Really?”

“Yeah.” Bodhi puts his flight jacket down for a pillow and goes over backwards onto it. He combs his fingers into Luke’s hair. “Sorry?”

Really?”

“That better not be your Force trick voice,” Bodhi teases him.

“You know that doesn’t work on you anyway,” Luke says, rolling over and pushing up to his hands and knees to straddle Bodhi. “This okay?” He nods, and Luke grins and leans down to kiss him.

“I’m not going to give you classified information,” Bodhi protests, holding onto Luke’s hip with one hand, trying to tug his undershirt up ineffectively with the other. “Not even for—hey—” Luke’s somehow managed to get his pants open, and is gently stroking him with his fingertips, feather-light. “Nope, not going to give up anything—” He turns his face to the side, and Luke dives at his exposed neck eagerly.

“You were asleep, how are you—Luke—” Bodhi squeezes his eyes shut as Luke shifts his grip slightly, but not enough.

“You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to,” Luke murmurs, in between searing kisses along Bodhi’s neck.

“Then what are you doing this to me for?” Bodhi gulps and tries not to lose it entirely, writhing as Luke’s tongue dips into his ear. Self-control wins out, barely.

Luke snickers. “‘Cause it’s fun, and I—” He cuts himself off abruptly. Bodhi isn’t sure what he would’ve said, because he redoubles his efforts, and Bodhi falls apart under his touch, arching his back and shuddering into Luke’s grasp. And then Luke rebalances himself on both hands and stifles Bodhi’s gasps with an insistent, thorough kiss, waiting him out.

“Seriously, how are you so—so energetic?” Bodhi manages, opening his eyes again, a dozen racing heartbeats later. “All I ever want after coming off a run is to fix everything I broke and sleep for a week.” He tugs his ruined shirt off over his head and wiggles out of his pants, trying to kick them off without kneeing Luke.

Luke smiles, and drops from his hands down to his forearms. “I’m not trapping you, am I?” Bodhi shakes his head, and Luke lowers himself a little further, centimeters at a time, until he’s lying completely on top of Bodhi. He’s very warm against Bodhi’s bare skin. “Still okay?”

“Mm.” Bodhi finally gets his hands up under Luke’s shirt and skims over his back, enjoying the way Luke’s muscles move as he shivers and sighs.

“What did you break?”

“What?”

“You said you wanted to fix what you broke. And then sleep.” Luke is slowly grinding against his thigh.

“Maybe not in that order,” Bodhi mumbles, as lassitude steals over him. He presses his face into Luke’s hair, though, and works a hand down between them into Luke’s shorts, eliciting a soft moan. “I broke—huh. I guess I didn’t break anything, this time. You—you ‘n Rogue Squadron, you kept ‘em all off me.”

“Don’t talk about the squadron,” Luke pants, thrusting into his fist a little faster.

Bodhi huffs a laugh and wraps a leg over Luke’s. “That new kid—”

Luke groans and puts a hand over Bodhi’s mouth. Bodhi licks his palm, just a couple of teasing flicks of his tongue, and Luke throws his head back. “Bodhi—” Luke’s hips jerk helplessly, and Bodhi sucks on his fingers instead, and Luke cries out and comes in a rush. He goes boneless on top of Bodhi, heavy on his chest, and Bodhi tenses up reflexively. It’s not bad, not really, but Luke senses it and immediately rolls off onto his side, grimacing.

“I’m all right,” Bodhi reassures Luke hastily, turning over to face him.

“You sure?”

Bodhi shrugs a shoulder and smiles at him. “Probably better than all right.”

“Okay.” Luke’s eyes sparkle. He’s flushed and his chest is still heaving, and seeing him like this is better than looking out at the endless shining sea of Aquilaris, very nearly better than flight. He touches the side of Bodhi’s face, thumb grazing over his lips.

“So like I was saying, about Dak—” Bodhi starts, mischievously, and Luke rolls his eyes and replaces his hand with his mouth.

*****

Over the next two days, Rieekan has Luke out drilling formations with Rogue Squadron to get ready for their attack on Sullust, and everyone on Bodhi’s maintenance shift stops what they’re doing to watch whenever the X-wings zip past. Anselm, a mechanic about Draven’s age who works on Luke’s X-wing sometimes with Bodhi, frowns and mutters something about needing to lock down the electromagnetic gyros because they’re over-torquing the retro thrusters, but Bodhi just smiles and watches Luke putting his squadron through their paces.

“You’ve never flown one of the T-65s, eh, Lieutenant?” Anselm asks, and Bodhi turns.

“They’re not for me,” he replies. “That’s my ship, over there—” He waves a hand at the Cadera.

Anselm nods knowingly. “Claustrophobe?”

Bodhi looks away. “Not quite.”

“Hmph.” Anselm doesn’t push it, though, and turns back to watch Rogue Squadron coming around for another pass, their closed S-foils flashing reflected light as they go into a complicated spiralling pattern. “Just like a Skywalker; he’s showing off again. Get him to check over those gyros when he comes in, will you?”

“Yeah, of course,” Bodhi says, distractedly, as Luke pulls a heart-stopping smuggler’s reverse and the rest of the squadron overshoots him. Showing off?

Oh. Of course.

He resists the temptation to wave.

*****

And as for his mission to Thyferra:

“No.” Bodhi shakes his head at Cassian. “No fucking way.”

“It’s not like you’re going to pretend to be Talon Karrde, just one of his associates.” Cassian pats his shoulder reassuringly.

Bodhi is not reassured. “I am not going to walk into Zaltin Corp—the bigger half of the monopoly on bacta—to negotiate on behalf of the second-most infamous smuggler in the galaxy about the one legitimate shipping enterprise he engages in—”

“—Solo would probably quibble with that ranking a bit,” Jyn mutters.

“Under false pretenses! Karrde is going to find out, and spice or no spice—”

Draven frowns very hard at Bodhi for that—

“—he’s going to kill me,” Bodhi says, lacing and unlacing his fingers together behind his back.  

“He wouldn’t kill you,” Kaytoo says, helpfully. “You’re worth too much alive.”

“Thank you, Kaytoo, that makes me feel a lot better.”

“It’s the least complicated plan,” Draven starts, and Bodhi glares at him.

“Thank you, sir, that makes me feel a lot better about your confidence in me—”

Lieutenant,” Draven barks, and Bodhi snaps his mouth shut, wide-eyed at the way he’d spoken to the general, but Jyn’s biting her lip to hold back a laugh.

Cassian says, “If it helps, Aves won’t be angry you’re impersonating him.”

“Dak looks more like Aves than Bodhi does,” Kaytoo observes, and Bodhi jabs a finger at him pointedly, looking around at his friends.

“It’s not going to be a problem,” Jyn says, sliding a couple of ident documents over to him. “You’re just having a conversation with Zaltin Corp about the cost of transportation.”

Bodhi raises his eyebrows. “Extortion, Jyn, it’s called extortion.”

“And Karrde’s already doing it, so—?”

“I’m not going to be able to cut him a better deal,” Bodhi protests.

You don’t have to,” Cassian says, and Bodhi thinks he might be trying not to laugh at him, too. “Xucphra Corp’s lost a lot of ground to Zaltin over the years. But if you throw their name around, mention quality, all the things Xucphra can do for Karrde because they’re smaller and more flexible, the Zaltin Corp people will be falling all over themselves to show you how much better their product is. And then Yraka’Nes runs her test and you find out whether—”

“—or not the galaxy is going to be plunged further into chaos because of a bacta shortage,” Bodhi finishes for him, and sighs. “Okay. I’m Aves.”

“And the transponder on the Cadera’s been changed to the Rookery,” Jyn says, her eyes dancing.

Bodhi puts a hand over his face and groans. “Jyn.”

Draven suppresses, just barely, a snort. “All right. Yraka’Nes and Dak should be done with their work by the morning. You’re dismissed.” Cassian nods and leaves Draven’s office, Kaytoo and Jyn following him out.

Bodhi turns to go, too, but Draven says, “Lieutenant?” He looks back.

“I wouldn’t be putting this in your hands if I didn’t have confidence in you,” Draven says. “If your friends didn’t think you could handle it by yourself.”

“Sir—”

“This plan has the fewest moving parts for three people, two of whom aren’t—experienced, to manage,” Draven adds. “That’s all I meant.”

“Thanks.” Bodhi nods jerkily at him.  

Draven frowns a little. “You should probably do something about your clothes, though. You don’t look like the right-hand man to the galaxy’s second most infamous smuggler.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment, sir,” Bodhi replies, dryly, and Draven actually chuckles.

“Go see Solo, and tell him it’s on Intelligence’s tab.”

Solo doesn’t ask questions about what Bodhi’s doing that he needs different clothes. But he does insist on making Bodhi carry Roja’s hold-out blaster, producing, with some relish, a spring-loaded miniature wrist holster from a cargo container in the main hold.

“I’m never going to be able to keep this,” Bodhi points out. “Concealed weapons are banned pretty much, uh, everywhere.” He holds his arm out towards Solo uncertainly anyway.

Solo draws a very sharp breath, and just slaps the holster into Bodhi’s outstretched hand instead of demonstrating how to strap it to his arm. “What the fuck, Bodhi?”

Bodhi follows Solo’s gaze down to his scarred-up wrist, and his heartbeat quickens. I forgot. How could I forget? “They’re from before,” he says, hastily, shaking his sleeve down. “They’re not—not what you think.”

“Right,” Solo mutters, taking a step back from Bodhi. “Does Luke know?” Bodhi gives him a startled look. “Sorry, that’s a stupid question.” The corner of his mouth twitches. “Luke knows where all your scars are, huh.”

“Oh, shut it,” Bodhi says, but without much heat, or fear, in it; Solo’s trying to let him have his space in more ways than one. He looks down at the wrist holster. “I guess I probably can’t wear this.”

“Okay,” Solo replies, a little awkwardly. “Uh. EC-17’ll fit in your boot, too. Either way, you gotta have a blaster on you. Doesn’t look right to be pretending to be a smuggler without one.”

“I’m not—”

“Yeah, you are.” Solo grins. “From the parameters Draven told me—you’re borrowing my clothes.”

“Ah, hell,” Bodhi says, looking down at the shirt and jacket piled on the cargo container warily. He doesn’t see any obvious bloodstains, though. “Listen, don’t—this is classified—”

“I can, in fact, keep a secret,” Solo says, ruefully, and mimes zipping his lips. “Draven wouldn’t send you over if he didn’t know that.” He leans against the bulkhead, eyeing Bodhi up and down. “So what’re you doing instead of helping smoke Seerdon out of his hidey-hole?”

Bodhi shakes his head. “Solo, if Luke couldn’t get it out of me, I’m sure as shit not telling you.”

Solo smirks. “And I’m sure Luke tried everything.” Bodhi makes a rude gesture at him and leaves, Solo’s shout of “You’re welcome!” following him down and out into the hangar bay.

There’s someone sitting on the ramp of the Cadera when he gets back to it.

“This had better not be a setup for another squadron prank,” Bodhi warns Wedge, strolling partway up to him.

Wedge holds his hand up. “Corellian’s honor. Just came by to see if you wanted to play some sabacc with us. Relax a little before the big day.”

“And you’re in my ship because?”

“Honestly? You’ve got the most space for a game,” Wedge says. “I mean, we’d have to play on the floor and you’ve no chairs or a table—just, uh, bedrolls—”

Bodhi’s face goes hot, but he says, “Whose fault is that, exactly?”

“Fair enough,” Wedge grins. “What d’you think?”

“Yeah, okay.” Bodhi nods, going up into the Cadera to clean up. “What’re you gonna lose to me this time? Your X-wing?”

“Hey, you’ve already got plenty of ships,” Wedge protests, trailing after him, thumbing his comlink, and summoning the rest of the squadron. Bodhi throws a surprised look at him. “Yeah, word got around, you pirate. Let’s just play for credits.”

Dak shows up, too, with Kasan and Janson and Luke; Hobbie begs off, though, and Janson laughs once Wedge’s stopped trying to cajole their friend into coming. “He’s trying to get into Maddel’s good graces. She visited him in the medcenter a couple times, it might be working.”

“We all visited him a couple times,” Kasan points out.

“Jealous?” Janson nudges her, sweeping his meager winnings into a pile in front of him.

Kasan rolls her eyes. “Oh, please. If I wanted any of you, I would’ve had you already.”

“You don’t want me?” Janson puts the back of his hand up to his forehead in mock despair.

Dak glances back and forth between them, puzzled; Wedge says, “Pay them absolutely no mind, Dak, they are always like this.”

“Of course, I’d never go for Luke or Bodhi, there’s no sense in trying to separate those two,” Kasan offers, cheerfully, and Bodhi flinches.

(Baze says, “You will have to be parted, someday.”)

“What?” Luke murmurs, instantly alert. Wedge looks at Bodhi, concern pulling at the corners of his mouth, too.

“Nothing, it’s nothing,” Bodhi says, quickly. It’ll only be a short separation. Just a few days apart. Maybe a week, if hitting Sullust takes longer. It’s fine. It’ll be fine. “It’s your deal, Janson, c’mon.”

Bodhi’s distracted, though, and ends up losing more than he’d bargained for throughout the rest of the game. Wedge grouses that he should’ve made a play for his “—uh, lost items,” but doesn’t complain too much about it, pausing at the top of the ramp as the other members of Rogue Squadron depart. “We’ll watch out for him on Sullust tomorrow, don’t worry,” he tells Bodhi quietly, clapping a hand on his shoulder. “I’ll make damn sure he stays in one piece.”

“Thanks, Wedge.” Bodhi manages a smile, and turns back into the hold.

“So—” Luke’s spread out their bedrolls again and is sitting cross-legged on them, looking up at Bodhi curiously. “What was that all about? I’ve never seen you lose, um, quite that badly—”

Bodhi crosses the hold in two strides and gently cups Luke’s face in his hands, gazing at the light reflected in Luke’s eyes, considering what to say. “Seerdon would’ve killed us all on Chandrila,” Bodhi murmurs, finally. “His own people. He won’t hesitate to destroy everything on Sullust. I know our deal’s off, but please—”

“I will,” Luke says, earnestly. “I promise I’ll be—” He tilts his head. “I’ll come back.” Then his smile shifts into a pout. “Well, kiss me, already.”

Bodhi’s lips twitch. He leans down to oblige, deliberately ignoring the murmur of Baze’s voice in his memory, and Luke pulls him off-balance onto the bedroll.

*****

In the morning, Jyn stows the last pack of weapons in the Galen and then comes back down the ramp to hug Bodhi with Cassian and Kaytoo on her heels. “Race you back home.”

“You’re laying a full-on siege,” Bodhi says. “I’ll beat you by lightyears.”

She smiles. “Good luck, Bodhi.”

“You, too.”

Cassian touches his arm and says, quietly, barely audible over the clamor of the hangar, the whine of the Falcon’s engines engaging as it launches, “Bodhi, if anything goes wrong—if the Thyferrans catch you out, or the test Yraka’Nes designed doesn’t work, or—anything, you get out and come home, understand?”

Bodhi takes a shaky breath, and steps close to kiss Cassian on the cheek; Cassian looks startled, but delighted. “Same goes for you,” Bodhi says, even though he knows neither of them will, not until their work’s finished.

Kaytoo pats Bodhi on the shoulder, and says, “I’ll watch their backs, Bodhi. Even Jyn’s.”

“I heard that.” Jyn’s eyes are amused, though, and then they’re all climbing up into the Galen’s cockpit and closing up the ramp.

As the Galen pulls away, Bodhi turns and looks over Rogue Squadron’s X-wings; Kasan waves to Hobbie, who’s standing off to one side with his arm around Maddel, looking kind of bereft, as the other Rogues settle into their cockpits.

“Sorry, Hobbie,” Bodhi mutters, sidling up to them.

Dak’s jogging over, too, waving at the Rogue Squadron pilots. “Bodhi, d’you want me to—um—”

“Not yet,” Bodhi says. He’s determined to stay calm, not frantically prepping his own ship until after the squadron departs, so he doesn’t distract Luke, who’s strapped in and nearly ready to go. Artoo’s photoreceptor is pointed in Bodhi’s direction, though, and Luke laughs at something the droid said. He turns to wave, and then the X-wings are all off, too, forming up and darting between the other ships towards the jump point.

“It’s okay. I’ll get the next one.” Hobbie looks at him. “Or, if you want, I could come with you? Wherever you’re going?” Maddel pokes him with her elbow. “Or you could go, Rodma—” but she’s ducking out from under his arm to hug Yraka’Nes as the Twi’lek comes up to them.

“Rodma, I didn’t know you were coming with us to—oh—” Yraka’Nes stops as Maddel shakes her head. “It’s secret even from you?”

Maddel grins. “Yep. I’m going to pretend I didn’t even see you off.”

“I suppose I probably could have waited a little longer to come down,” Yraka’Nes says, abashed. “But I’m glad you are here, my friend.”

Hobbie’s narrowing his eyes at Bodhi and Dak suspiciously.

“It’s your first time as a spy, Doc,” Maddel replies lightly. “Good luck out there.” She throws Bodhi a very stern glance, and he gets the message—keep her safe.

He nods, trying to keep his expression confident and not—anything else. “Okay, let’s go. See you when we get back.”

The deck officer still calls him Rogue One when they depart.

*****

Thyferra is humid; Bodhi can feel the oppressive weight of the air as soon as the ramp starts to lower, revealing the jungle world beyond. It feels like an oncoming monsoon storm that won’t break, though it doesn’t smell as much like dust and wind as Jedha’s rainy season would have. Yraka’Nes seems fine with the climate, like she must’ve grown up in the tropical zones of Ryloth, but Dak tugs at his collar and makes faces as he tries to find a way to adjust his pack so it won’t make his shirt stick to him.

Dak is even more uncomfortable with the Thyferran that greets them on the landing pad. And Bodhi has to privately admit, his heartbeat starting to pick up speed, that his xeno professor hadn’t done enough to counter some forms of anti-alien sentiment, because stars they are really big insects—

“Welcome to the headquarters of Zaltin Corp,” the Thyferran says, in slightly accented Basic, extending their first pair of limbs and bowing. “We are Seeqov Thranx, the administrator of our facility. You may call us Thranx.”

Bodhi pushes down a startling impulse to come over very formal and Imperial at them. Don’t talk too much, not like Solo—or myself. Just keep it simple. He inclines his head. “I’m Aves. These are Dr. Yraka’Nes and Dr. Dak Ralter.” Dak twitches a little at having suddenly graduated from medical school.

“What can we do for you and Talon Karrde’s hive?” Thranx asks, gesturing for Bodhi to follow them towards the facility. The architectural design is alien, of course, but it’s still unmistakably an office and warehouse building, bustling with Thyferrans and other beings like, well, a hive. “Our arrangement has been satisfactory, has it not?”

“It has,” Bodhi says, warily. “But Xucphra Corp made us—Karrde—another offer that we can’t simply ignore.”

Thranx turns their compound eyes on him. “We appreciate that Talon Karrde sent someone to deal in person.” Their skin ripples shades of green and gray, and Bodhi wishes he’d paid more attention in xeno class to what coloration changes meant; he thinks a slower rate of change means calmer, but it’s hard to say for certain. “We will go to our office and review the contract together. You will see that Xucphra Corp is not as good of a hive partner to you as Zaltin.”

Inside—where, of course, Roja’s blaster is immediately confiscated by security—Bodhi is surprised by two things. The first: that the layout of Thranx’s office is not in the slightest like the sealed chamber on Amaltanna where they’d found the dead Separatist bug general. He privately admonishes himself for expecting it to be.

The second is that Karrde’s transportation contract with Zaltin is more than fair to the Thyferrans, especially when it comes to delivery times. Karrde’s nearly as efficient as the Empire in picking hyperspace lanes, though he’s obviously padded some of the Core routes to equalize times for delivering bacta to Outer Rim merchants.

But the transports themselves are a problem; Karrde’s cargo shuttles are even older than the Galen, and a couple date all the way back to the Clone Wars. “They’re all too slow, you have to pay for faster ships,” Bodhi argues, finding himself falling back on all the fights he’d had with other cargo pilots, useless because he’d never have dared to take it higher. Speed had meant survival, but keeping his head down had also meant survival. “Sure, faster ships are smaller, but we’d be able to get smaller deliveries out more often, and there’d be less chance of getting caught by pirates. Less chance of losing all that valuable ky—”

Bodhi cuts himself off, eyes going wide, but Thranx doesn’t appear to have noticed his mistake; they’re still clicking quietly to themselves, and their colors aren’t changing any more quickly. He licks his lips and says, instead, “Bacta. We don’t want to lose all this bacta. I mean, look at the losses we incurred last quarter; these are costs we have to pass on to you. Xuc—Xucphra is willing to pay more for better ships.”

Yraka’Nes clears her throat softly behind him, and Bodhi stops again, blinking, startled to discover he’s gotten so involved in something that was only supposed to provide them cover. “And—Xucphra Corp also said that they’re developing a new strain of bacta—”

Thranx takes the bait, gray-green skin flashing dark all over, and twenty minutes later they’re on the main production floor, among the rows and rows of interconnected bacta growth tanks that look and sound basically identical to the ones used for medical treatment. Yraka’Nes and Dak have their head together over her equipment; the Twi’lek is hmm-ing over the “baseline” tests she insists on doing before Thranx tours them through the experimental wing to showcase their latest variant. Bodhi looks up, and up; there’s some security patrolling the catwalk six stories overhead. One Thyferran’s paused on what he'd assumed were its vestigial third pair of limbs and is gazing back down at him.

Dak shoots Bodhi a relieved glance as Yraka’Nes finishes her testing. “Everything looks good,” Yraka’Nes confirms aloud, and Bodhi exhales, his heart rate finally slowing down for the first time since they’d arrived—but—“Please show us the experimental wing,” Bodhi says. We’re not in the clear yet.

Thranx nods to the two Thyferrans working in the experimental wing. One is standing on a comically tiny stepstool on fully extended second limbs, making them tower over the tank they’re disinfecting. Thranx makes introductions: “This is Aves, Dr. Yraka’Nes, and Dr. Dak Ralter. They’re from Talon Karrde’s hive.” The Thyferran cleaning the tank does the spread-limbs bow very carefully so they won’t overbalance, and Bodhi nods back at them before turning to look at what Thranx is showing Yraka’Nes and Dak.

“You spoke of tradeoffs, Aves,” Thranx says. Bodhi can’t tell any difference between the bacta in here compared to the regular stuff, though Yraka’Nes is examining the display on one tank thoughtfully and trying to explain something complicated to Dak before they run their test. The other Thyferran worker backs away cautiously; from the hyperactive, nervous sort of way their gray-green colors chase up and down their skin, Bodhi thinks they must run into humanoids about as often as he’s ever encountered insectoids.

Thranx is going on. “Bacta works very quickly on an organic being, but proper healing will always take time. We are trying to find ways to slow the process so that a patient does not need so much time to recover after a bacta treatment.”

Slower healing?” Bodhi asks, puzzled, but Yraka’Nes nods.

“You would be able to go straight back to your duties out of a bacta tank, instead of having to sleep for hours afterwards,” she explains. “Simply diluting bacta reduces its effectiveness, and you still end up exhausted.” Yraka’Nes tilts her head at him. “You’ve been in twice. Surely you remember.”

“I remember the taste,” Bodhi says, wryly, evading the memories that swirl up in his head by trying to follow the equally dizzying arrangement of colors on the Thyferran still eyeing them.

Thranx clicks a pattern that Bodhi thinks is supposed to be amusement. “Although our marketing department would appreciate more experimentation with flavor, changing it has not been a priority for thousands of years.” They gesture with a first limb towards Yraka’Nes. “Would you like to test that batch? Not for taste, of course.”

“Of course,” Yraka’Nes says, and sets to work. Bodhi watches the Thyferran cleaning the tank curiously; he’d never really thought about how the medics dealt with switching people in and out before.

“We must remind you that our experimental designs are proprietary, though,” Thranx says. “We have shared much with the galaxy, but we are still in competition with Xucphra. You aren’t corporate spies, are you?” They crane their head down to look at Bodhi.

Bodhi huffs a nervous laugh, gazing at his multiple reflections in their compound eyes. “We’ll happily delete any confidential information from our equipment—”

“No, we won’t,” Yraka’Nes says, looking up at him. Her lekku are twitching along her back, and Dak’s face is white. “Sir—Aves—the virus is here, it’s completely destroyed the experimental batch.”

“What?” Bodhi trembles and starts forward to look, even though the genetic information means nothing to him—

What? What virus?” Thranx demands. The Thyferran at the tank looks as confused as a gigantic insect can get, and then there’s a clatter of claws behind them as the other one—the one Bodhi’s been thinking of as simply a bit twitchy around people—bolts.

Shit. Thranx, call your security, you have to stop them!” Bodhi whirls and runs after them back to the main floor. I’m not too late, I can still stop it—but he has no idea how—

They’re up on their long second limbs, spinning one of the valves open on an interconnected tank, and they’re holding something in a claw—“Wait. Please don’t,” Bodhi shouts, skidding to a halt, holding his hands up. “You don’t have to do this!” No, no no no—

From six stories overhead, the two Thyferrans Bodhi had seen patrolling earlier jump down, landing a row away; the one standing at the tank clicks frantically and says, “Stay away from us!”

“Xeshen Kra, what in the name of your hive are you doing?” Thranx demands, skittering down the row to Bodhi with Yraka’Nes and Dak a few paces behind, Yraka’Nes still stammering out scientific terminology at them to explain. “Why would you bring this virus here? You will destroy everything.”

“Seeqov Thranx—we are sorry—” Kra is wringing their second pair of limbs, compound eyes darting around the production floor at the rest of the interconnected tanks. “We had no choice! He threatened our hive.”

Bodhi gulps and asks, even though he knows the answers already, “He? Was it—was it a human? His—was his—um—hive name Seerdon?”

Kra clicks again, so high-pitched that Bodhi can barely hear it, and their skin swirls with mottled, ugly colors. “We have to do it. He will kill them if we don’t do it.”

“No, you don’t,” Bodhi says, trying to keep the waver out of his voice. He licks his lips. What’s in your heart? Do Thyferrans have hearts? “Your hive would want you to do the right thing. They wouldn’t want you to infect all the bacta—”

Thranx is sidling up to the tank, clicking softly and reaching one of their first legs out to the vial Kra is holding, but they jerk back, clutching it tightly in their claw. “What do you know about hives?” Kra cries out. “You don’t even have a hive name, Aves.”

Bodhi swallows. “I’m not really Aves,” he confesses, and behind him, Dak makes a quiet, horrified noise. “I—my hive name is Rook.”

Thranx makes a sharp hissing sound, and angry colors sputter up and down their skin, but they don’t take their eyes off of Kra.

Bodhi says, “I know about losing—” He can’t believe he’s having this conversation with a scared and desperate Thyferran, but there’s nothing for it. I have to make them understand. “I know about losing my hive. I lost my whole—but I—I still—you can do the right thing. You can help so many people if you don’t do this. Please, Xeshen Kra.”

Kra clicks an incredibly fast pattern, everything running together into a rising cacophony of a whine; Bodhi claps his hands over his ears and cringes, but Thranx just gently extends their first limbs to them again. “It will be all right, Kra. We will help you protect your hive.” Kra folds in on themselves, and holds the vial out to Thranx, and the two security Thyferrans reach out and take Kra's first limbs to lead them away.

We might’ve stopped it, but now what? Bodhi looks at the other members of his team. Yraka’Nes sits down heavily on the floor, her head in her hands, lekku twitching uncontrollably. Dak’s expression is terrified, but he’s patting her shoulder carefully. I should’ve come up with a better plan. I’m sorry I got you into this.

“You lied to us,” Thranx says, examining Kra’s vial. “You are not from Karrde’s hive.” Their colors aren’t nearly as frenetic as they had been moments ago, but they’re still moving faster than Bodhi thinks means calm.

“No,” Bodhi says, trying not to look at how sharp Thranx’s claws are. “Seeqov Thranx, I’m sorry I lied to you, but we had to know—we had to find out if it’d been infected already—if anyone had—”

“You are spies? From the Rebellion?” He thinks Thranx's voice is as suspicious as a Thyferran's can get.

Bodhi can almost feel the rough fabric of a hood in his mouth again, and there’s a familiar sick feeling rising in his chest. “Yes. I mean, I’m not—I’m not a spy, none of us are spies, but we are from the Rebellion—Seeqov Thranx, what are—I’m sorry, but we couldn’t trust—”

“You talked less as Aves,” Thranx says, craning their head down to gaze into his face, and Bodhi stops, and takes a breath. Their colors are slowing down, finally. “Next time come as yourself to warn us of danger.” Thranx taps a claw against their thorax. “The word you use. Warn—me.

“I’m sorry,” Bodhi says, a third time. “I will.”

After that, Thranx sends a security team out to the Xeshen hive, and carefully passes along Seerdon’s virus to Zaltin Corp’s scientists to study, reassuring Yraka’Nes that they’ll pass along their findings.

And then they escort Bodhi and his team back out to the Cadera. It’s nearing sunset, and the hum of smaller insects waking for the evening rises from the jungle surrounding the landing pad; Bodhi wonders idly if the Thyferrans can understand their much tinier cousins.

Thranx rocks back on their third limbs and looks up at Bodhi from the bottom of the ramp. “You are Bodhi Rook.”

Bodhi nods reluctantly.

“We are sorry about the loss of your hive,” Thranx says, and Bodhi wills himself not to tremble, listening to the hum of insects getting louder. “We hope—”

Lieutenant!” Dak shouts from the cockpit, and Bodhi realizes he’s not hearing insects, he’s hearing the engines of a ship.

His heart sinks as he recognizes the sound of those engines: they belong to a Sentinel-class shuttle.

Seerdon’s not on Sullust.

He’s here.

Chapter Text

“Picked up a distress call from Xucphra Corp,” Dak says, breathlessly, coming down onto the ramp. “Imperials are attacking their facility, they—they’re destroying the bacta—but the signal’s jammed now, we’re cut off—”

He freezes, and looks up at the sound of Seerdon’s ship rapidly approaching. The sky has darkened enough that the Sentinel’s headlights are visible as scattering misty lights through the jungle, as the distinctive hum of its engines grows louder and louder. “Seerdon’s coming here? Bodhi—Lieutenant— what are we gonna do?”

“Seerdon is not coming to discuss an arrangement.” Thranx clicks once, as loud as a thunderclap. They turn their compound eyes on Bodhi again, splintering him into distorted reflections. “He is attacking because of your war. Will you help us?”

Bodhi spares a glance back over his shoulder at Dak and Yraka’Nes. Yraka'Nes is fidgeting with the end of one of her lekku, but they both look resolute. Ready. “We’re with you, Bodhi,” Dak says, and he has a flash of Cassian and the volunteers on Yavin IV, hard-faced fighters all, not like these two medics. Not like Bodhi himself—

No. I’m in this fight.

He smacks his fist against the hull of the Cadera. “Yes.Yes, we’ll help, but how? We only have one ship—I can’t bring down a Sentinel in a straight fight—”

“Seerdon must not be allowed to destroy our bacta,” Thranx says, and Bodhi stiffens up at their voice; despite their shared language, it’s shifted, somehow, into something as alien as anything he’s ever heard. “What is the capacity of your ship?”

“About eighty tons, more or less,” Bodhi answers—and then his eyes go wide, and behind him, he hears Yraka’Nes and Dak’s shocked gasps as the realization hits them at the same moment. And despite the urgency of their situation, his willingness to do whatever the Thyferrans need done, Bodhi stammers out, “Thranx. The Rebellion—the Alliance—can’t afford thirty-two bacta tanks!”

“We will discuss billing if we survive.” Thranx lifts a first limb to their mouth and clicks into what Bodhi belatedly recognizes as a wrist comm and not just a spike on their forelimb. “Go to the loading dock to the southeast and take all you can out of Seerdon’s reach. We will hold off his attack.”

Bodhi nods, and Thranx fully extends their second limbs and lopes away into the deepening dusk. Dak’s already bringing the repulsorlifts online, the soft whine of them ratcheting up Bodhi’s nerves, and as Bodhi goes up into the Cadera’s cockpit, craning his neck to look out for Seerdon’s ship coming in, he wonders if Thranx meant we as in just themselves, or—

“Seerdon’s going to see us, if he hasn’t got us on sensors already,” Dak mutters anxiously. “Is this gonna work?”

“I never painted the starbird on,” Bodhi says, his mouth twitching in a brief, rueful smile as they launch. Dak gives him an incredulous stare, and Yraka’Nes huffs a shaky laugh.

Bodhi circles as low as he can around the building, one wingtip skirting the encroaching edge of the jungle, and sets down again next to the loading dock, where a pair of Thyferrans are maneuvering a load lifter with a bacta tank on it out to them already. He swallows and attempts to tell himself it’s just another cargo run, but that thought isn’t terribly reassuring.

“Okay, okay, let’s make this quick,” Bodhi says, unstrapping and hitting the ramp controls. “Load up as much as we can and—and—” He looks around at Yraka’Nes and Dak’s faces, thinks he reads dismay in Dak’s eyes. “Come on, you heard Thranx, we have to get the bacta out of here before Seerdon has a chance to do whatever he did over at Xucphra Corp. Besides, the comms—we’re alone down here—”

Bodhi hears himself rattling on, stops and takes a breath. I’m only making it worse. They already trust me. Focus, dammit. “Yraka’Nes, what—d’you need to do something with these? I’ve never transported bacta before.”

Yraka’Nes nods at him. “The tanks have to be disconnected before they can be moved. I don’t know how many people—how long do we have?”

“I don’t know,” Bodhi says. “Not long enough, there’s—but we’ll do what we can, yeah? Dak, stay here and help the Thyferrans get the tanks on board, keep me informed about what the hell those troops are doing. Yraka’Nes, let’s go.” He tries to turn anxiety into action, running down the ramp back out onto the planet’s surface, where, even though they’re docked behind the building, on the opposite side of where Seerdon’s landed, he can see the stuttering glow of laser fire reflecting up into the jungle. The Sentinel must not be carrying missiles, or anything like the walkers or tank droids on Chorax, but the trees are starting to burn like they had on Scarif.

The familiar whine of blaster fire echoes through the trees, undercut with a disturbing chattering sound that he realizes must be Thyferrans calling to each other, fighting, dying. The two workers who’ve been deputized to help load up the ship keep swiveling their heads back and forth and clicking at each other, and their colors in the light from the Cadera look almost like static on a holo message, they’re moving so fast. “I’m sorry,” Bodhi says, hurriedly, though he has no idea if these Thyferrans can even understand him. “You must want to go and fight.”

“Seeqov Thranx told us to stay and help you,” one of them says.

“The fight will come to us,” the other points out, going a bit gray, and Bodhi trembles and hopes that isn’t true, waving them on towards Dak and heading into the loading area with Yraka’Nes on his heels. Inside, Bodhi nearly gags on the reek of spilled bacta, but the space is empty, too empty, without shipments waiting to go out. A very small voice in the back of his head points out that he’d seen the schedule in Karrde’s shipping contract, and no one is scheduled for a pickup anytime soon.

Don’t worry about it. I can do this.

“Thranx told us what we must do,” a third Thyferran says, locking the doors between the loading dock and the main floor open. Their Basic is heavily accented, but clear enough. “I will show you which ones to take.” If there’s a system, Bodhi doesn’t recognize it as the Thyferran leads him through the main floor, because they point to tanks seemingly at random, but Yraka’Nes is nodding.

“I hope you remember which ones, because I’m not going to be able to,” Bodhi mutters plaintively to her, and says, louder, “Just the closest ones to the loading dock, please, we don’t have much time—” Something explodes outside, and the whole building shakes, bacta sloshing inside the tanks, and the Thyferran clicks unhappily.

“Show me what to do,” Bodhi says to them and Yraka’Nes, and together they walk him through the process of disconnecting a tank for transport; it’s a matter of closing the right valves in sequence. Yraka’Nes’ hands are steady, far steadier than his—she is a medic, after all—but her voice wavers as she supplements the Thyferran’s halting explanations.

As they get to work, Bodhi catches at her arm. “I’m sorry you’re in this mess.” The building shakes again, and he’s uncomfortably certain the stormtroopers are lobbing grenades.

Her lips twitch. “Anything you need, right?”

“Yeah, yeah, right,” Bodhi says. His mouth is dry, and his heart is racing, but he’s trying to focus on what has to be done. It’s a plan. It’ll work. And maybe—maybe Thranx will be okay, maybe the Thyferrans will win and I won’t have to—“Okay. Let’s get this done and get out of here.”

Bodhi’s heartbeat speeds up a little with each bacta tank they load onto the Cadera; after the fifth, he splits off from the Thyferran and Yraka’Nes to get more tanks prepped by himself. Dak checks in over comms once, to report that a second Sentinel’s flown in with reinforcements. “Probably finished up over at Xucphra,” Dak says, his voice strained. “Hurry, Bodhi, I don’t know how long we’re gonna stay off their sensors.” The building shakes more incessantly now, like a roiling earthquake, and Bodhi clenches his jaw and focuses on his task, pushing aside the memories that surge in his head like the sky of—stop. Close the valves. Check the seals. Get the load lifter.

They get six more done before it all goes to hell.

“The fighting’s moved inside,” Dak reports tersely over his comlink, as Bodhi’s sweat-slick hands fumble with the valve. How the hell did Xeshen Kra get one of these open so fast? “The Thyferrans had to retreat. I think the stormtroopers set up a—a turret.” Bodhi can hear it, the rhythmic thudding of blaster bolts into duracrete, and he stops and tries to catch his breath. E-web repeating blaster. Shit.

“Okay—” Another explosion, much closer this time, and then a Thyferran crashes backwards through the doors onto the production floor. They right themselves with a claw, and their clicking is loud and fast. No—it’s not that their clicking is loud—it’s the voices of a dozen, maybe more Thyferrans retreating back into the space. Two spring forward into the oncoming stormtroopers, their claws slashing through plasteel armor even as they’re cut down, and Bodhi cringes and ducks behind a bacta tank, his heart pounding.

He looks all the way down the row at the Cadera, just visible in the dark outside the loading dock. I’ve got Roja’s blaster, but what the hell good is that going to do? I can’t shoot anyone.

But I can’t just leave, either.

That was the plan. Stick to the plan. Keep Seerdon from destroying all the bacta.

Bodhi bites his lip and dashes towards his ship, away from the fighting, cursing his cowardice. He’s a few rows away when stormtroopers start pouring in through the loading dock, spreading out for a pincer maneuver—he skids to a halt and presses his back up against the nearest bacta tank, breathing hard.

“Lieutenant?” Dak’s scared. Of course he’s scared, it’s only his second mission and now he is going to watch everyone die—“Me and Yraka’Nes, plus one of the Thyferrans, we’re safe in your ship, but there’s stormtroopers, Bodhi, there’s troopers everywhere—

“I know. I’m cut off,” Bodhi mutters into his comlink. He hesitates, trembling, and then he says, firmly, “Go. There’s no way for me to get to you.”

“No, no, there’s got to be—” Dak’s voice hisses out, panicked. “I can—”

Dak. Shut up and get out of here. It’s—” Bodhi swallows, and lies through his teeth. “It’s all right. I’m hidden, I’ll be fine. Take my ship, take the bacta, and get home safe.” He breathes out shakily, and adds, for what he thinks is probably the first, and will be the last time in his life, “That’s an order.”

An eternity passes before Dak responds, and Bodhi is horrifyingly certain that it’s too late, that Seerdon’s troops have taken his ship and his team and everything they’d tried so hard to save—“I copy,” Dak answers, finally.

Go,” Bodhi repeats, numb, and shuts off his comlink, looking past the stormtroopers forming up in the loading dock. Two are inexplicably lugging another E-web repeater after them. Dak’s turned off the Cadera’s lights, probably in hopes that the Imperials won’t pay any mind to a shuttle, but—

Shit.

They still need some cover to get away, or they’ll just be shot down out of the sky.

I need a distraction.

I’m a distraction.

Bodhi wishes, very briefly, for his friends; for Luke. For someone to talk him out of his idea. For Kaytoo to calculate the odds and find another way. But Bodhi can't think of anything else to try. 

He slips silently through the rows, listening to the clatter of claws on plasteel, the blaster rifles spitting death behind him. Then there’s only one row of tanks between him and the eight or so stormtroopers much too near the still-grounded Cadera.

Bodhi flattens himself along the closest bacta tank. Crouches and takes Roja’s blaster out of his boot holster.

Maybe there's still a chance I can get past them.

But there’s no time for that, or any other wild conjectures, because the stormtroopers are taking notice of his ship. Even though Bodhi can’t make out the words, he can hear the filtered electronic sound of their voices, and two stormtroopers are starting to power up the turret—Bodhi ducks out from behind the bacta tank and fires off a flurry of shots in the direction of the stormtroopers and runs, not waiting to see if he'd even hit anyone. He doubts it.

But they are pursuing him back through the production floor, blaster bolts flying past his head. The smell of ozone mingles with bacta, this desperate ploy blending with the memory of his last sprint on Scarif. And over the crackling of blaster fire and shattering glass, he hears the hum of the Cadera’s engines—

A blue flash from between the rows—

—and Bodhi stumbles and falls, barely managing to get his hands under him, Roja’s blaster skidding just out of reach, the stun blast deadening his side, his legs.

—and a light-skinned man around Draven’s age, dressed in an Imperial officer’s uniform, steps out into the row behind a couple of stormtroopers, and Bodhi pants for breath, looking back between the rows of tanks to his ship, sees headlights turning away into the night sky.

So close. They’re almost clear.

The stormtroopers who’d pursued him clatter up, pointing their blaster rifles at him, but the man—who can only be Seerdon, of course—holds up a gloved hand, his gray eyes studying Bodhi’s face coldly.

One last chance.

(“Give me one clean shot—”)

Baze was right.

He can’t bring himself to think of Luke any more than that.

Sorry, Cassian. I'm not coming home.

Bodhi lunges for Roja’s blaster, and blue light envelops him—

 

*****

 

(—drowning in the silvery lake on Chorax, waves crashing him down into the darkness—

—clear ice closes over his head and he beats his useless fists up against it as his world dies—

—no, not his world, his world died in flame and ash and stone—)

 

“Wake him.”

Pain flares bright behind Bodhi’s eyelids—

 

(—the monster sears through his mind, setting his memories ablaze—

—heavy tentacles constricting around him like a vise—

—Luke crawls up over his body, his eyes the same milky blue-white as those of the monster, and his voice, inside Bodhi’s head, asks, “This okay?”)

 

—and Bodhi screams and jolts back to consciousness, and he’s trapped, he’s trapped, kneeling in front of Seerdon and a trio of stormtroopers with his wrists bound to the railing behind him at an improbable, agonizing angle. He struggles against the binders like he’d fought to get away from the monster,  all uncontrollable near-reflex, reopening every injury he’d ever suffered in the hands of the Empire, of Saw Gerrera, of the Rebellion—and he is scraped raw inside and out—

—and Seerdon—laughs.

“You’re not what I expected, Bodhi Rook,” he says, and Bodhi stops thrashing, and glares up at him, breathing raggedly as his thoughts start to scatter. Tries desperately to focus, force his mind back to the kinds of things Chirrut tried so hard to teach him. My ship. Fixing things.

(“—Some place to go when it happens again.”)

It's happening again, and there's no getting out of it this time—

His vision swims; he squeezes his eyes shut as nausea and the all-too familiar maelstrom of his memories start to overtake him. Pull up, pull up—

(“No lie is safe—”)

A plasteel-armored fist connects with his face, and Bodhi reels to one side, his shoulder wrenching painfully.

“Oh no, you stay right here with us. No more of this going in and out.” A hand—a different hand, one covered with a leather glove—seizes his jaw, fingers gripping his cheek tightly, and Bodhi reluctantly opens his eyes. Seerdon is looming over him, turning Bodhi’s face this way and that before letting go. “Really not at all what I expected.”

Bodhi winces and tries not to pull on his restraints again, his wrists burning, but every muscle is tense as his surroundings start to come into relief. He’s still in the Zaltin Corp headquarters, only he’s not on the production floor anymore; he’s six stories above it on the security catwalk.

And below—

“No, no,” Bodhi croaks, making out the crumpled bodies of Thyferrans lying between the rows of tanks in greenish ichor and shattered glass and spilled bacta. I didn’t help them. He curls his useless hands into fists behind his back. There’s stormtroopers moving around down there, too, but Bodhi can’t tell what they’re doing, his eyesight blurry from the lingering effects of the stun blast, and the tears of rage and despair threatening to fall.

They died. They all died.

(—Tonc falling dead out of the shuttle onto the sand—)

“That was a very foolish thing to do,” Seerdon says. “Sacrificing yourself to distract me from your friends’ escape attempt.”

Bodhi jerks his head up and wrenches out, horrified, “They got away.”

Seerdon touches his face again, stroking a thumb over his cheekbone, and Bodhi cringes and tries to pull away, his binders ringing off the railing as they slide behind him. “Oh, did they? Who knows what a single brave stormtrooper at a turret might do, hmm? If they saw a stolen Imperial ship headed offworld?”

Bodhi trembles, but he spits back, furiously, helplessly, “You’re lying. You’re lying.

“Perhaps they have escaped and are fleeing like the rats they are back to your Rebel base.” Seerdon pats Bodhi’s face and steps back, gazing down at him. “Which. Well. You’ve been broken before, I suspect. I wonder what it will take to break you this time?” 

Bodhi fights down a shudder. He doesn’t have Saw’s monster. He can’t get anything out of me.

“You’re thinking you’ll die before you give up your Rebel friends,” Seerdon says, casually. “It’s possible. You certainly will when I’m done with you.” He sweeps a hand out towards the open floor of the facility, and Bodhi’s vision, his mind, go clear enough for him to comprehend what the stormtroopers below have been doing as they walk through the rows of bacta tanks.

They’re setting charges.

We failed. Bodhi’s head sinks to his chest. “You already made the virus. You made Xeshen Kra think they had no choice.” 

“I was always going to destroy the galaxy’s source of bacta, one way or another.” Seerdon smiles at Bodhi, tight-lipped and haughty. “The virus simply would have been more—entertaining. Now, however, do you remember what I told our friend Kasan Moor over Chandrila? My retaliation for the destruction you've caused—oh, yes, I know you were at Fest, dear boy—my retaliation will be just.”

He beckons his stormtroopers forward. “But for you? It will no longer be swift.”

One trooper reverses his blaster rifle so he can use it as a club. Bodhi pants through his clenched teeth, bracing for it, afraid, but at least—

“Tell me where the Rebel base is.”

—they’re not Saw’s monster. They’re not the monster. They’re not the—

It takes half a dozen agonizing blows before Bodhi slips back into the nightmares masquerading as memory, his screams echoing in his head.

 

(—shots flash out and the stormtroopers fall in burning heaps—

“—You’re a rebel now,” Kaytoo says, approvingly, but the stormtroopers are still coming, and Jyn and Cassian are trapped—)

 

“The charges are set, sir.” The stormtrooper hands Seerdon a remote detonator. “Whenever you’re ready.”

“Oh, I think we’ll be able to depart soon,” Seerdon says, and Bodhi falls away again as fresh pain sears through him—

 

(—Tonc throws the grenade out and fire obliterates the shoretroopers, but there’s no reprieve from the wave of destruction from the Death Star, not this time—)

 

*****

“He’s out, sir,” a stormtrooper’s filtered voice reports.

Bodhi can feel blood seeping from his wrists backwards down to his elbows. He’s been thrashing around more, though he can't really remember any of it through the tangled mess of his mind. It’s nothing compared to the pain in his chest that claws deeper every time he breathes, but a single thought surfaces with remarkable clarity: I ruined Solo’s fucking shirt.

“I don’t think so,” Seerdon says, and Bodhi feels his gloved hand lifting his chin. “Tell me where the Rebel base is, and you can die. I will end this for you, traitor.

Bodhi opens his eyes. His breath comes in short, arduous gasps. I’m not—Galen sent me— he works his dry mouth, and and manages, defiantly, “I defected.”

Seerdon slaps him, hard. “Where is it?”

Bodhi sways on his knees, confused and lost, staring balefully up; seeing Seerdon, seeing the ghost of Saw. Seerdon strikes him again, and this time Bodhi goes over completely, held up only by his protesting, straining wrists, his face hitting the metal grating of the catwalk.  Blood drips from his nose, his split lip, from a cut on his forehead, through the grating and out of sight.

The catwalk.

His mouth falls open in shock, his mind clearing with sheer astonishment.

I saw this place before. In my vision of Luke.

But—

It’s not possible.

It’s not.

I’m going to die here—

There’s a hand on his shoulder pulling him back up roughly, but Bodhi’s beaten a frantic retreat into his head, desperate to make sense of it.

He’s not here, they’re hitting Sullust, they don’t know that Seerdon’s here

But the second vision was real. It was real, and maybe—

(Chirrut says, “I am one with the Force and the Force is with me—”

Baze says, “You’re praying?”

Chirrut says, “It bothers him because he knows it is possible.”)

Bodhi doesn’t know when his friends had said those things, or to whom.

He can’t remember if it was what they had said on Scarif before the battle, or when they were trying to help him after Corellia, or in his ship while Luke meditated or slept or tried to land a single hit on Chirrut. He can’t remember how they’d looked when they’d said those things. If Chirrut had been smiling, whether Baze had rumbled his deep, skeptical laugh.

But it doesn’t matter: Bodhi hears Chirrut’s chant over and over again in his head.

He clings to the words.

He clings to that belief.

Bodhi lifts his head to look at Seerdon, and a laugh tinged with hysteria tears out of his throat. “He’s coming,” he mumbles, and coughs weakly, tasting blood.

“What?” Seerdon’s hand is poised to hit him again, but he stops, and stares at Bodhi, faint lines appearing in his forehead.

“He’s coming.” Laughter echoes like wracking sobs in his head. He’s not entirely sure which is coming out of his mouth. Luke’s on Sullust, he doesn’t know where I am, but I believe. I believe it. “He’s coming for you. I saw it. He’s coming.”

Seerdon pales. “Who?

“I saw it, I saw it, the Force gave me a vision, he’s going to kill you with his lightsaber—” Bodhi is vaguely aware he’s babbling, but at least he’s not giving up anything more than his wild impossible hope.

Seerdon grabs Bodhi’s left hand behind his back, has grabbed his fingers and is bending them to the point of snapping. “Who’s coming?” Seerdon snarls into Bodhi’s face, the cold fury of his voice suddenly laced with fear, his grip tightening on Bodhi’s fingers. “Is it Vader?”

(—Saw Gerrera holds his respirator to his face and inhales—)

Bodhi struggles to pull his hand free, his absurd surety abruptly dissipating, replaced with mindless reflexive panic. “No, no, no—” He doesn’t know if he’s answering Seerdon or trying to plead with him, plead with Saw

Seerdon’s face contorts. He twists his hand savagely, and Bodhi’s fingers break, and if he could breathe he would scream

“Let him go.”

Seerdon lurches upright, dropping Bodhi’s broken hand.

And down at the far end of the catwalk, is the utter impossibility that is Luke Skywalker.

But there's no relief to be had at the sight of him, because Seerdon pulls his blaster from his holster and fires. Luke deflects that shot, and the next, his eyes glittering with absolute fury, and then the stormtroopers open fire in earnest—

Bodhi flinches as sparks rain down from the deflected blaster bolts ricocheting off the ceiling. One of the stormtroopers retreats, evidently forgetting that Bodhi’s still bound to the railing behind him; Bodhi contorts himself sideways, gritting his teeth as the motion stabs pain through his wrecked body, and kicks the stormtrooper hard in the back of the knee.

The trooper yelps and falls directly in the path of a deflected shot, and then Luke’s closing fast with the remaining two, moving like Chirrut, all lethal grace despite the awkwardness of his flightsuit. The second stormtrooper topples over the railing, screaming as he plummets, and the third goes down right next to Bodhi, his blaster sliding over the edge of the catwalk.

And then it’s just Seerdon between Bodhi and salvation.

Seerdon levels his blaster directly at Bodhi’s head and demands, “Surrender, Commander Skywalker.”

Luke’s face is a mask of pure rage. No. Let him go,” he snaps, his voice unrecognizable, out of control. Seerdon’s finger curls towards the trigger, and Bodhi forces himself still, tearing his eyes away from the smoking end of the blaster to look up at Luke, moving his lips feebly in Chirrut’s prayer—

But Luke simply holds out his hand, and Seerdon’s blaster is torn from his grasp. Luke catches it, flips it around and fires without really aiming, catching Seerdon in the shoulder, and he stumbles backwards and falls. Luke drops the blaster and stalks down the catwalk past Bodhi, towards him, lightsaber humming ominously at his side.

“Wait, Luke,” Bodhi calls after him, weakly, uncertain why he needs to call Luke back, but there’s something about Seerdon, something nudging the back of his mind, getting louder like an alarm bell, or a scream. “Luke—there’s—wait!”

Luke stands over Seerdon, raising his lightsaber to deliver a final strike, exactly as he had in Bodhi’s vision all those months ago—

—and Bodhi remembers what the stormtrooper had handed Seerdon, sometime in the middle of his torture no Bodhi summons all the strength he has left and shouts, “Don’t—he’s got a detonator!”

Luke barely twitches in his direction, the way he does whenever something’s going wrong in Bodhi’s head.

Bodhi fights for breath, squeezing his eyes shut against the way his vision's going gray around the edges, and forces himself to spit out his usual torrent of words to explain or we’ll all die. “The—there’s charges on the bacta tanks, he’s got the remote detonator, if you kill him—he’ll—he’ll destroy all of it along with us. Luke.” His hand throbs with pain in time with his racing heartbeat. He opens his eyes again, and Luke's glanced back at him, his expression unreadable. “Please believe me.”

Luke lowers his lightsaber and holds out his hand. “Give it to me,” he says, and from the set of his shoulders, the tremor in his voice, Bodhi thinks Luke’s regained control over his terrifying fury. “Slowly.”

“And in return?” Seerdon asks, sardonically. “Will the vaunted Jedi honor stop you from striking down an unarmed man now?”

“I swear I’ll let you live,” Luke says, closing down his lightsaber blade. And then he adds, equally dryly, “I won’t even let Kasan take a run at you before you stand trial.” Seerdon actually laughs before uncurling his fingers and handing the detonator up to him, and Bodhi slumps in relief.

Luke backs up a step and crouches next to one of the dead stormtroopers; comes up with a pair of binders and tosses them at Seerdon. “Cuff yourself to the railing.”

“Not like we did to your Lieutenant, I assume,” Seerdon says, raising an eyebrow, but he sits up, drawing his knees to his chest, and obeys, rattling the binder a bit to demonstrate he’s secured.

Luke nods curtly, satisfied, and hooks his lightsaber onto his belt as he crosses the length of the catwalk back to Bodhi in four quick strides. His eyes are bright and scared and beautiful as he falls to his knees in front of Bodhi, reaching behind him to undo his restraints.

“Can you deactivate the detonator?” he murmurs quietly into Bodhi’s ear, and Bodhi bites back a cry as Luke accidentally brushes up against his broken hand. “Sorry, I’m so sorry. I’ve almost got it. Hold on.” The binders come loose, and Bodhi falls forward into Luke’s arms, but he can’t rest, not yet.

“The charges can still get set off manually,” he mumbles into Luke’s shoulder, feeling his thoughts slipping from his grasp. He forces himself to straighten up, the pain of it bringing Luke and the danger they’re still in, back into focus. “But yes, I can deactivate the remote, I just—you’ll have to hold it, I can’t—”

Luke makes an anguished sound as they both look down at the blood on Bodhi’s wrists and hands. “Don’t,” Bodhi pleads, not knowing what he’s asking. Luke seems to understand, though, and steadies, holding the detonator out to him. Bodhi’s good hand quakes almost uncontrollably as he twists the right parts of the remote, and it clicks, and shuts down entirely in Luke’s grip.

“Okay,” Luke says, and there are tears standing in his eyes all of a sudden. “Okay.” His pale face swims in and out of focus. “Oh, Bodhi.”

“Thanks for keeping your promise,” Bodhi says, dizzily, and passes out.

Chapter Text

Bodhi is drowning.

Some part of him understands he’s not on Chorax, or Scarif, or even a planet. He’s not on Thyferra anymore. He’s not even in water. But he’s drowning nonetheless, unable to breathe on his own, flailing desperately away from the darkness, where the monster lurks, ready to take him apart again.

He tries to cry out, but he can’t.

He hadn’t pleaded for mercy on Thyferra when he’d been trapped and lost and certain he was about to die, alone and far away from anyone who cared. But he begs now, even if it’s only inside his own head, because Luke can sense it, Luke knows when something’s wrong, Luke always comes to help—

“—him out, now, he’s panicking, I can hear him, get him out right now—”

In the air and light again.

Luke’s voice straining unsuccessfully towards calm. “I'm here. I’m here. It's all right. You're safe.”

Someone cleaning the remaining bacta off his skin, getting a robe around his shaking shoulders; they tape his broken fingers gingerly and help him lie down. He curls up into a ball on his side, weighing the horrors inside his mind against the waking agony of his body, even dulled as it is with painkillers, and comes out on the side of staying conscious again. Luke keeps his promises.

A voice he could probably put with a face, but it’s too hard to think of whose, and he can’t get himself to open his eyes again to see: “I’m sorry, Commander. We didn’t know—he’s been in twice before and never—”

“I wasn’t here those other times,” Luke says flatly. “Maybe he did panic, and you had no idea, because he wouldn’t say anything, he doesn’t like to talk about it.” A hand brushes his unpleasantly damp hair off of his neck.

“I’ll give you some privacy,” the other person says, softly, after a moment. “Let me know if you—if Bodhi needs anything.”

The door swishes open and closed, and Luke murmurs, “I’m still here, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll—I’ll keep talking if you’ll—try to come back. Please. We're home, we’re on the Redemption. I can just keep talking—do you want me to tell you about flying again?”

Bodhi opens his eyes.

Luke is sitting on the edge of the bed next to him, of course; he’s shed his flightsuit, but his hair is a sweaty, matted mess and he looks as exhausted as Bodhi feels, eyes red-rimmed and watery. Bodhi reaches over with his good hand, and Luke takes it in his own, cradling it to his heart.

“Yes,” Bodhi rasps. “Thanks—no, wait, wait, Luke—I don’t remember—” He grimaces. “Have I been out this whole time?”

Luke squeezes his hand. “Pretty much, but you didn’t panic until they put you in the bacta tank.” He’s trying to keep his tone light, but concern is threaded through it. “You need to rest.”

“You were on Sullust—Jyn and Cassian and Kay—” Bodhi’s throat is raw.

“They’re all right.” Luke says, quickly. “They won, they’ll be home soon. The squadron’s okay, too, everyone made it back here safe.”

“Okay,” Bodhi mutters, more questions rising murkily through his mind. But he’s fading again, too tired to push through his dread at the prospect of answers.

“Now do you want to me to talk about flying?” Luke offers.

“Yes, please.” Bodhi tugs on his hand a little, trying to pull Luke down to the bed.

“I’ll crowd you too much,” Luke says, resisting, just barely.

Bodhi raises his eyebrows in surprise, and manages, faintly, “Luke Skywalker, you don’t want to go to bed with me?”

“Funny.” But Luke props his feet up on the side of the bed and unlaces his boots with his free hand, before slipping under the blanket. Bodhi bites his lip and tenses up, regretting his impulse to make Luke stay, but Luke is very, very careful as he puts his arms around him, guiding Bodhi’s head down to rest on his shoulder. “Let me know if any of this hurts. And—sorry. I probably don’t smell great.”

“You don’t smell like bacta,” Bodhi says, muzzily. “That’s good enough. What were you going to tell me about?”

Luke strokes his hair gently. “It was about podracing, if that’s all right?”

“Sure.” Bodhi’s eyes have started to slip shut once more. He blinks them open.

“Hey, it’s okay, I’m just gonna keep talking so you have something to hold onto if—if you need it. Get some sleep. I’ll be right here.” Luke smiles, reassuring as sunlight after a storm, and Bodhi burrows his face into the crook of his neck, trying to convince himself to relax, let go again.

Luke kisses the top of his head, and just holds him for a minute, still stroking his hair. “So—I started looking into the racers my father built. He used Radon-Ulzer engines for both of ‘em, the 620C for the one he used to win on Tatooine, and the 1240C when he got challenged by this other racer—”

Bodhi hangs on for a while longer, listening to Luke quietly parsing bits and pieces of his father’s history, more than a little worried about the nightmares waiting in his head. But somewhere around Luke trying to sort out what kind of armaments were legal on a podracer— none of them—he finally drifts off.

*****

 

[“—I don’t believe it—”]

 

*****

Luke’s gone when Bodhi wakes up again.

But he’s not alone; instead, Cassian’s asleep in a chair, his head fallen forward onto the side of Bodhi’s bed. Jyn’s propped an elbow up on Cassian’s back, tapping into a datapad. Bodhi imagines it can’t be terribly comfortable, but Cassian has almost certainly slept in worse positions before.

“Hi,” Jyn says, softly, looking over at him. “Do you remember where you are?” He blinks a couple of times, looking around the white-walled room, pulling his thoughts back together before answering, and worry lines her forehead. “Bodhi?”

“Medical deck. On the—uh—” He shakes his head a little, and Jyn’s frown deepens a fraction more. She opens her mouth again—“The Redemption. Sorry.”

“Okay,” Jyn says, a touch of skepticism coloring her voice. “I’d ask you what day it is, but I’m not sure I know.”

“Why are you asking me questions?” Bodhi mumbles, uncurling and groaning as his stiff, sore ribs protest the idea. He fights past it and gets most of the way to sitting up.

“Cassian said if you were still out of it, I should get you to talk. Luke thought you’d be all right, he didn’t—you know—” she waves a hand by her head to suggest the Force—“But—” Jyn shrugs a shoulder. “Are you all right?”

Bodhi holds up his taped-up left hand at her in reply, and her mouth twists. “Yeah, I figured as much. Luke filled us in a bit about—the way you looked when he found you.”

He fights down a shudder and runs his right hand through his hair; it’s come free from its tie and is falling loose around his face. “Where is he, by the way?”

“We made him go get something to eat. Kaytoo had to threaten to pick him up and carry him out before he would go.”

“Oh.”

Jyn reaches over to touch his arm. “Stop looking at me like that. I’m not going to yell at you.”

“I wasn’t—you’re not?”

“Not right now, anyway,” Jyn says, and Bodhi rolls his eyes at her tiredly. “Just keeping you company. Do you need anything? Water? More painkillers?”

She's rarely this solicitous and it's starting to make him scared—“What's wrong?” Bodhi demands, his voice cracking. “Did someone not make it back? Is—is Draven going to—” He fumbles a weak grab at her arm. “Is something else wrong with me?”

“What?” Jyn’s eyes narrow at him.

“You’re—you’re being—” Bodhi licks his lips. “Too nice.”

Cassian snorts a muffled laugh into the blanket and sits up slowly, stretching, as Jyn scowls. “There’s nothing to worry about, Bodhi.”

Bodhi looks at him askance.

“You shouldn’t worry about any of that,” Cassian amends. “Everyone came back safe.”

“We’ve got an extra, actually,” Jyn says. “Leia’s started negotiating the return of the Thyferran Dak took off with.”

“Uh—they’re not a hostage—”

“No, but it’s not exactly safe for a Rebel ship to jump back into Thyferran space and drop them off. Plus, your contact sent us, um, a bill.” Cassian’s smile is wry.

“My contact— Thranx?” Bodhi gapes at him. “They’re alive?

“Yeah,” Jyn says. “I got the feeling I wouldn’t want to go up against them in a hand to hand fight. Hand to claw fight. And they’re an administrator.”

Bodhi starts to tremble, covering his face with his good hand, flinching as his fingers brush the bruising on his cheek. Tears of relief that Thranx survived sting his eyes; his heart aches for all that they’d lost. I brought death.

“They sent their gratitude for your help,” Cassian says, after a moment, and the bed dips as he climbs up onto it, wrapping his arms around Bodhi cautiously as he shakes and can’t stop crying. “Since you saved Zaltin Corp from destruction twice over.”

“By doing something incredibly stupid,” Jyn mutters, and that breaks through his grief. Bodhi chokes out something that sounds enough like a laugh, and pokes at her with a finger—she starts to grab for his hand and abruptly halts.

“You said you wouldn’t yell at me.” Bodhi swipes at his eyes and smiles half-heartedly at her.

You said I was being too nice,” she retorts, though there's no real heat to it, either. “All I did was ask if you wanted water.”

Cassian draws back to look him in the eye. “From what we’ve been able to piece together from Dak, it wasn’t that bad of an idea.” He takes Bodhi by the shoulders. “You have to keep your exits open—you had no way out except—”

“I told you before,” Bodhi says, as Cassian’s voice starts to rise and Jyn’s mouth thins into a line. “I know what happens to defectors if we’re caught. I got lucky to miss out on the—the last step.” Bodhi turns his left hand palm up in his lap, staring blankly at the tape around his fingers. “I still don’t know how the hell Luke found me at all.”

“Dak and Yraka’Nes got a message out to us,” Jyn says, and he’s relieved she’s jumping on that instead of how close he’d come to being killed. “We were—never mind what we were doing, exactly—” Bodhi narrows his eyes at her suspiciously, certain it was something equally dangerous. “But we didn’t need the Rogues anymore, and stopping Seerdon was more pressing.” Her lips twitch. “And when Luke found out you hadn’t gotten out with them, well. But what the fuck were you thinking? Dak said you got into a firefight?”

“I wouldn’t call it that,” Bodhi mutters wearily. “I wasn’t trying to hit anyone. I was trying to distract them from going after my ship.” He pokes her in the arm. “Yelling.”

“We can talk about this later,” Cassian says, and squeezes Bodhi’s shoulders gently. “The most important thing is that you’re safe, and you’re going to get better, bacta or no bacta—”

Someone knocks on the door, and Bodhi glances up, expecting Kaytoo and Luke; his heart sinks when it’s Draven instead. Shit, oh shit. I can’t do this right now. He looks wildly at his friends, who are both frowning at their superior officer.

“I thought you said a debrief could wait.” Jyn’s gotten to her feet, putting herself between Draven and Bodhi like a small, angry shield.

“I’m not here for that,” Draven replies, and his eyes flick over her shoulder to Bodhi. “I need to speak to you. Alone.”

His warning—Bodhi blinks. But Seerdon didn’t know about Luke, he was just going to kill me—

“You okay with that, Bodhi?” Cassian asks, sliding off the bed, his brow furrowing at Draven’s impassive face.

“Yeah. Yeah, I think so.” Bodhi tries to straighten his shoulders in a futile effort to look more like the officer he’s supposed to be.

“Okay. We’ll be right outside,” Jyn says, kissing his forehead and leaving with Cassian.

Draven waits until the door’s slid shut again before sitting down in Jyn’s vacated chair. He sighs heavily. “I apologize in advance for what I have to ask of you. Your recovery is paramount, but this can no longer wait.”

Bodhi can’t help but shrink in on himself a little, uncertain what to brace for. He nods.

“Was Seerdon able to get any information out of you?” Draven asks, flatly. “Did you tell him anything?”

Bodhi’s eyes widen, and his heart starts to race. “I—I told him he was a liar—I didn’t tell him where the Alliance is. It’s what he wanted from me, but I didn’t—I swear—

Draven crosses his arms and leans back. “Can you remember anything else?”

My vision. Bodhi squeezes his eyes shut.

“It’s important,” Draven says, levelly, and Bodhi’s eyes fly open again.

“I don’t know how to explain it, sir,” he says, and Draven’s eyes go hard and cold, and Bodhi stammers nervously, “The Force gave me a vision of Luke in that place, I—I told Seerdon he was coming—I knew Luke was coming—”

“What?” Draven stares at him. “No one ever mentioned you having Force sensitivity—”

“I don’t,” Bodhi protests. “The Temple on Jedha—they would’ve found out if I did. I just—it’s only happened twice—”

Twice.”

“I didn’t think they were real,” Bodhi tries to explain. “I thought—I don’t know what I thought. I guess I thought I was losing my mind. Um. More than usual.” He fidgets with a fold of the blanket.

“How I ever agreed to let you be a part of—” Draven mutters, and then stops. “All right. You’ve got to talk to the Guardians about this; the Force is beyond my pay grade.” He shakes his head. “But you told Seerdon you had a vision?”

Bodhi struggles to remember, hunching up unconsciously. His hand throbs. “I think I did.”

Draven sighs again, and rubs his chin with a hand. “Well, this is a problem.”

“I don’t understand,” Bodhi says. “I didn’t break. And anyway—he’s in Thyferran custody, right? He can’t use anything he thinks he knows against the Rebellion—” He trails off. Draven’s shaking his head, taking something out of his jacket pocket; a small holoprojector.

He hands it to Bodhi. “Play it.”

It’s security footage of Zaltin Corp—the recording flicks between angles on the building; the jungle around it is smoldering but not actively ablaze, and the dead have been cleared away. “How did you get this?” Bodhi asks.

“Your contact transmitted it to us about half an hour ago, around the same time the HoloNet started broadcasting the news that the Emperor condemns Seerdon’s attack. Saying he acted on his own, the Empire would never seek to sow such chaos, and so on. The Thyferrans chose to extradite him rather than mete out their own justice. They’re well within their rights to have done so without, unfortunately, consulting us.” Draven’s voice is colorless.

In the holo, a ship—a TL-1800 light freighter, the kind that the Imperial Security Bureau use—settles on the landing pad where Bodhi himself had been, however long ago that was. Thranx and a couple of other Thyferrans walk out to meet it, claws clamped firmly on both of Seerdon’s shoulders. And strolling down the freighter’s ramp—

Bodhi’s fingers tighten on the holoprojector in horror. No. He raises his eyes to meet Draven’s gaze.

Draven asks, “Is that the woman you met on Corellia?”

Chapter Text

“It's her, isn't it,” Draven says, and Bodhi, stricken, can only nod. He watches her walk down the ramp to Thranx and execute an elegant version of their spread-limbs bow. Seerdon’s back is to the camera; Bodhi wonders what his expression must’ve been, coming face to face with the woman instead of Vader. There's no sound in the holo, but Bodhi's mind supplies the whirring hum of insects, Thranx's clicking, the edge of the woman’s voice. He tries to breathe slowly through the lingering pain curling around his chest.

“The name she gave is almost certainly false, though we’re trying to run it down now anyway. But, more importantly, your contact said she identified herself as the Emperor’s Hand to Seerdon.” Draven’s leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, steepling his fingers together. “Have you ever heard that before?”

Bodhi shakes his head, watching the holo flick back across the different camera angles, some part of his mind noting the modifications to the woman’s freighter. She knows ships, too.

“It apparently did not inspire confidence in him to hear her title.” Draven’s voice is very dry. In the recording, Seerdon attempts to back down the ramp away from her, and she locks a hand around his binders to keep him from running.

“If only he’d run,” Draven says, regretfully, and Bodhi's eyes go wide. “She’d have had to shoot him,” Draven continues, apparently ignoring Bodhi's conflicted reaction. “We won’t know the internal politics of this for a while. The Emperor may be genuinely angry that Seerdon attacked a neutral, and fairly significant world; sending someone who can frighten a Moff is a strong indicator that’s the case.”

“What—what’re you going to do with me?” Bodhi asks, interrupting the general’s musings on the echelons of the Empire. “I know I’m grounded again—but for after, when I’m better—you’re not going to let me fly any more missions with Cassian and Jyn, or Rogue Squadron, are you?” He stares down at his hands in his lap, too drained to be angry or despairing about it. “She’ll figure out about Luke and come looking. You tried to warn me.”

“There’ll be other things for you to do,” Draven says. “We’ll need someone to make the run out to Hoth and back, for one.”

Bodhi straightens up a little. “That’s been decided, then?”

Something like a smile crosses Draven’s face as he nods. “Excavation of the base began at the same time as the attack on Sullust.”

“Every mission’s a distraction for something else,” Bodhi observes, quietly, passing him back the holoprojector with his good hand, a little awkwardly.

Draven shrugs. “We’re fighting a war on more fronts than even I can keep track of sometimes.” He gets to his feet. “I don’t regret sending you to Thyferra instead of Sullust, Bodhi. It may not have accomplished our secondary objective of keeping you out of Imperial reach, and it may have exacerbated some other—issues—but whatever it was you did there, it kept Seerdon from carrying out his plans. You should feel—”

His gaze lingers on Bodhi’s taped-up hand, and his mouth draws down. “I don’t regret it,” Draven says, again, softly, and Bodhi thinks it’s an apology. He slaps at the door controls, and in the corridor, Jyn and Cassian are leaning up against each other, both clearly dead on their feet. Draven looks around at them, “Get some rest. All of you. We’ll talk again soon.”

Bodhi can hear him greet Luke further down the hallway; Luke’s footsteps speed up, and he’s launched himself into Bodhi’s room before the door can shut again, shouldering past Jyn and Cassian disentangling themselves. “What did he want?” Luke asks, scrutinizing Bodhi’s face. “Are you all right? I didn’t sense anything.”

“Then I’m fine, aren’t I?” Bodhi says, wearily, grateful for Luke’s presence, but wishing he wasn’t the cause of so much concern. He starts to flop down on his pillow and thinks better of it. “Just—really tired.”

“Oh, here,” Luke says, and helps ease him down on his side again as Cassian and Jyn come in. “Do you want me—do you want us to stay with you?” There’s less exhaustion in his eyes now, more of his familiar eagerness.

Jyn smirks, a little. “It’d be just like going on scouting runs in the Cadera again, only more cramped,” she says, waving an arm around at the tiny private room. “Luke, you should stay. We’ll come back and check on you later.”

“Thanks.” Bodhi manages half a smile.

Cassian leans down to whisper, “Don’t worry about whatever Draven said. We’ll work it out.” Bodhi squeezes his hand in acknowledgement, too enervated to even begin to think about what he wants instead of Draven’s plan, and then they’re gone again.

Luke kneels by the side of the bed, so he’s at eye level with Bodhi. “Do you—”

“Okay, Luke, why do you keep asking me questions?” Bodhi mutters, a touch of exasperation seeping into his voice. “I’m here, I’m not going to panic again, I’m just tired—I don’t even hurt all that much, whatever the medic’s got me on is wiping me out—”

The corner of Luke’s mouth twitches. “You sound more like yourself now.”

“What?”

“You weren’t talking, um, enough,” Luke says. He looks up at Bodhi through his eyelashes. “You were barely talking at all, and you usually—”

Bodhi furrows his brow, opening his mouth to protest—

“It was Cassian’s idea to ask all these questions,” Luke says, defensively, turning pink for no good reason Bodhi can figure.

“Oh,” Bodhi says. “Yeah, okay. That makes sense.”

“But you’re tired, I won’t make you keep talking to me if you don’t want to,” Luke adds. “I’m happy to just tell you more stuff. Whatever you want. You must have so many questions about what happened.”

“Jyn sort of tried to explain how you came and got me,” Bodhi says. “Can we start there? Did you—did you know? I thought you couldn’t tell from that far away—”

“I couldn’t.” Luke’s face falls. “I found out the same way Jyn and Cassian did, from Dak’s message that Thyferra was under attack.” He draws a shaky breath and takes Bodhi’s hand. “And then I gave command of Rogue Squadron to Wedge and headed straight offworld—”

“Luke—” Bodhi gapes at him in shock and dismay. “You left them?”

“I did, for about five minutes,” Luke admits, abashed. “And then they came tearing up out of atmo, saying Jyn told ‘em to go with me. They were all there on Thyferra—you didn’t think I handled two entire squadrons of stormtroopers by myself, did you?”

Bodhi raises his eyebrows.

“Okay, maybe I could have, I don’t know,” Luke says, shrugging. “So they took care of Seerdon’s troops—he had a couple AT-STs in the second Sentinel, did you know? Kasan keeps apologizing for everything, like it’s her fault Seerdon decided to change game plans and go after Thyferra, or that he did this to you.” Luke runs his thumb over Bodhi’s knuckles gently. His hand is still rough, with callouses in slightly different places than Bodhi’s; probably from training with Chirrut or fighting with a lightsaber in addition to flying. “She’s been hanging around here hoping to apologize to you, too. I think she might be considering resigning her commission over this.”

“I hope not,” Bodhi murmurs, puzzled at the way Luke won’t look him in the eye. “I mean—we won, right? On both Sullust and Thyferra? Even if—even if I—I can’t—” He gulps, and forces himself to say it: “—fly for a while, Dak and Yraka’Nes, they saved the bacta—”

“Oh, yeah, they brought back enough bacta to drown a happabore.” A smile flickers across Luke’s mouth, but he looks distressed.

Bodhi says, hoping to distract Luke from worrying over Kasan, or his recovery, trying to distract himself from thinking about whether he’ll really be able to fly again, “Luke, how do you know what a happabore is?”

Luke huffs a wry laugh. “I met someone who had a pair, on—on—” He stops, and looks down at their linked hands once more.

“Where?” Bodhi asks, and yawns.

“Devaron.”

“Oh.” Bodhi closes his eyes, faintly relieved. “It’s okay, I know it’s supposed to be a secret, but I already knew about that. That’s the place you went to look for a Jedi temple.”

Luke doesn’t say anything for a second. His hand comes up and strokes the side of Bodhi’s face carefully, avoiding where he must be bruised. “Yeah. You—you never asked me about it,” he says.

“I asked Solo where you went,” Bodhi murmurs.

“Did he say why?” Luke asks.

“You mean besides looking for a lost Jedi thing? He had some ridiculous idea about how you were doing it because of me.” He smiles a little at the thought of that conversation.

Luke’s hand stills.

Bodhi cracks one eye open at him. “You were?”

“Sort of,” Luke says, hesitantly. “Not in—whatever way Han said. Um. Do you remember when I left?”

“I was in the medcenter, after—oh.” Bodhi nods against Luke’s hand. “Yendor. The first time you saved my life.” He frowns at the memory—it’s blurry around the edges, like an old, corrupted holo, but it doesn’t seem to pull at him quite like all his other remembrances of pain. Maybe because it was as simple as Yendor wanting to hurt me, and nothing else. Not like Saw, or the woman, or Seerdon—

“You’re sure I should talk to you about this right now?” Luke sits back on his heels, eyeing Bodhi cautiously. “‘Cause I’m not.”

Bodhi ventures a shrug. “It’s not—” He holds up his left hand, not meaning anything by it except to gesture in confusion, but Luke’s eyes are sad. “It’s different. I don’t really know why, but it is.” Maybe because it was the first time Luke helped me?

“Okay,” Luke says, skeptically. “Tell me if you need me to talk about something else. This is—” He draws a breath. “Bodhi, when I found you, when I saw what Yendor had done—I came close to doing something terrible.” He stops. His voice is quiet. A little afraid. “I don’t know what you learned about the dark side of the Force from Chirrut, or from just growing up on Jedha, it’s probably more than I ever knew—but I felt it then. If I’d killed Yendor in my anger, I would've—I—I think—”

Bodhi’s recoiling, eyes widening, but he doesn't stop him.

Luke takes another breath. “I had to go,” he says. “I needed to find out more about the dark side. Chirrut and Baze, they sent me to Devaron. There was an abandoned temple there, I was hoping—” He shakes his head. “It doesn’t matter. I didn’t find anything.”

Bodhi, scared and adrift, grasps for levity. “Except someone with a pair of happabores?”

“Yeah. A murderous scavenger who tried to kill a little girl.”

“Oh.” Bodhi plucks anxiously at the hem of the blanket, uncertain what to say.

Luke looks down for a long moment. “I almost killed Seerdon.”

Bodhi stares at him, his heart sinking, remembering the terrible fury on Luke’s face as he’d stalked down the catwalk. “You felt the dark side because of me,” he mumbles. “Again.” I put him in danger in more ways than one. I’m a liability—

“What? No, Bodhi, that’s not it at all!” Luke jerks his head up and reaches out, brushing Bodhi’s hair back from his face tenderly. “You pulled me back. You stopped me from killing him—”

“Because we all would’ve died,” Bodhi reminds him.

“You saved me,” Luke insists. “You kept me from going over to—”

Bodhi struggles for words, bewildered. “No. Luke, don’t—don’t put that on me—I didn’t—you’re the one who saved me, you got me out, every time. Every time.

“And I’m saying you’ve done the same for me.” Luke’s eyes are bright, and he leans in, brushing his lips very gently against Bodhi’s.

“It’s not —Luke—” Bodhi flounders amidst his thoughts, but there’s something keeping him afloat, something warm and familiar. He holds onto it desperately. “I can't let you risk yourself for me again.”

“And how d’you think you're going to do that?” Luke asks, frowning hard at him. “Cassian said you were supposed to be safe on Thyferra, it wasn't supposed to be an Imperial target.”

Bodhi shakes his head. “That doesn't matter. Draven's grounded me, anyhow—it’s for the best—I can't pick up maintenance shifts until my hand’s fixed, but I—I can't go out on a mission again with you, with anybody—”

Stop,” Luke demands, his voice choked up. “We both know I'm going to do really stupid shit whether you're involved or not.”

“But—”

No,” Luke says. “I'm not letting you sacrifice yourself this way either. You love flying—look at everything you've done since you defected! You have your own ships, staying out of the way isn't—Bodhi—” He’s tearing up, his eyes wide and very blue.

“Seerdon's been taken back to the Emperor,” Bodhi blurts. “They're going to know everything he knows about us—they're going to use me to get to you. I have to stay off their radar. And the dark side—I don't know what to do about that—”

Luke smiles tremulously at him. “I don’t either. So let's figure it out together, okay? Please? Don't bail out just yet.”

Bodhi subsides, shaking. “I'm sorry,” he mutters. “I panicked. In—in a different way, I guess.”

Luke's climbing up into the bed with him, curling protectively against his back, pressing his face into Bodhi's still-loose hair. “It's my fault. You're still hurting, you're not thinking straight. I shouldn't have dropped all of this on you. Draven shouldn't have said whatever he said to you. We'll—we’ll go slower. Not so much to deal with at once while you're recovering.”

Bodhi nods into his pillow. “Okay.”

“It'll be all right,” Luke says, quietly. Bodhi tries to let his thoughts fall away, tries to match his breathing to Luke’s, like he'd done when they'd thought Wedge was gone, clinging to Luke's surety, his relentless resolve.

And just as he goes over the edge into sleep, he hears Luke whisper, again, warm and familiar and safe, “It’s going to be all right. I promise. I love you.”

Chapter Text

Bodhi isn’t completely awake when Luke’s called away by Leia, her voice a quiet but distinct order over the comlink. He rubs his eyes blearily as the lights come on, dim enough that he suspects it's pretty early in local morning. Luke doesn’t say anything, just presses a kiss to his cheek and more painkillers into his hand before slipping out the door. Surprise filters through Bodhi’s thoughts that Luke would head off to meet with the princess looking like that, but a memory of the story of how they had escaped the Death Star resurfaces, and he supposes she’s seen—and smelled—Luke in a far more disgusting state than having simply rolled out of bed.

He lies there for a minute, unsure if he’ll actually be able to get back to sleep, and sorts through a few memories that bob up, assigning them to I was there, or Jyn told me, or I think I read that in a report.

But the most recent one—

Dammit.

Why did Luke have to say it?

I just blew out all my engines again and he wants to fucking jump to hyperspace.

Some part of Bodhi’s mind points out that's not fair; Luke hadn't pushed him on anything since he'd admitted to failing the simulations. Had waited and waited for Bodhi to get up to speed.

Might not have even thought Bodhi was awake when he said it.

But still—

But still what?

It's too much.

I can't make it fair or right—

Bodhi groans, frustrated with himself, and starts to curl over into the warm part of the bed where Luke had been—and twinges inside his chest instantly warn him off, distracting him from wrestling with his stupid scared heart.

He carefully eases out of bed to get water from the dispenser on the other side of the room so he can take the painkillers. The ache isn’t as bad, standing, and his wrists seem okay, no worse off than when he’d fled Jedha—his brief dip in the bacta tank had helped those wounds start to heal. Bodhi's left hand twinges constantly, though, and he can’t seem to remember not to use it until he can’t.

The floor is jarringly cold under his bare feet. Bodhi puzzles over where all his clothes—no, Solo’s clothes—had gotten to, the temptation to wander off down to the Cadera to shower and get dressed drifting through his mind. He tries to tell himself that wouldn’t be hiding, Luke would know where he went.

Luke always knows—

He fumbles sleepily with the pills in his hand and—dammit.

Bodhi lowers himself down to the floor to look for the runaway pill. He fishes it out from under the bed and then sighs, looking up to where he’d put the water glass down on the side table so he wouldn’t spill it. His head spins at the mere idea of trying to stand again. He puts his shoulder against the side of the bed and dry swallows the painkillers, not caring that one’s been rolling around on the floor; it's bitter going down, but it's better than the taste of his own blood and fear. Then he pulls his knees slowly up to his chest, twisting the ends of his medcenter robe belt in the fingers of his right hand, and tries to figure out what to do next.

What to say to Luke when he comes back—

There’s a knock on the door; it hisses open, and Kasan frowns down at him. “What’re you doing on the floor?” She doesn’t look a whole lot better than Luke had, though she’s cleaned up more.

Bodhi blinks at her, still sort of groggy, trying to refocus his thoughts on what Luke had said about her. Kasan's eyes go wide, her hand groping for her comlink, and he struggles back to something approximating alertness—“Blast, Kasan, I just woke up, I’m not—” He hears a petulant note in his voice, and wonders at it. She’s worried. Like everybody else. “I dropped one of my pills, and then I didn’t think I wanted to get up again.”

“I see.” Her mouth purses. “Mind if I join you down there?”

Bodhi nods. “Can you get my water first?”

Kasan hands the glass over and drops heavily to the floor beside him. She stretches her legs out in front of her and leans forward to touch the toes of her boots while he washes down the sourness of sleep, the bitter taste of the painkillers. “How’re you feeling, really?”

“Like I got sucked into a turbine and spat back out again,” Bodhi answers, a touch wryly. He studies her face as best he can; she's in profile, staring straight ahead, not looking at him. “Did—this is what Seerdon used to do to you? The other TIE pilots?”

“I didn't get it this bad, he never put me in—” Kasan says, and then her voice goes harsh, not like she’s angry; like she’s trying to keep from crying. “I’m sorry, Bodhi. I was so sure he was going to fall back and regroup on Sullust. It’s where he had resources. I didn’t think he had anything else left.” She turns her head and gazes directly into his eyes. “I'm going to resign—”

Don't,” Bodhi interrupts, alarmed. “You and—and Luke, and the squadron, you stopped his attack.”

“Not before he’d destroyed Xucphra Corp and damn near killed you along with dozens of Thyferrans,” Kasan says, looking away again.

Bodhi shudders, but presses on. “So what if you couldn't predict it? Neither did Draven, or Kaytoo, or anybody else in the rest of Intelligence who does that kind of strategizing shit for a living.”

“I should’ve known,” Kasan insists. “He was my target. I didn’t stay on him, and he killed—”

“Kasan—” Bodhi looks down at his hands. He picks at where the tape’s coming loose around his fingers, tired again, although he must’ve slept for hours already. “I—I don’t—I can’t blame you any more than I blame myself. I was there. I didn’t fight.”

Kasan laughs raggedly, sniffs, and wipes at her eyes. “Shit, listen to us. Do Wedge or Hobbie or any of the other defectors go on like this?”

“I sort of thought it was just me,” Bodhi admits, and more cloudy memories start to slither forward out of the recesses of his mind; he shoves them back before they can become monsters. He swallows, and says, “Wedge doesn’t talk about what he did. Or, um, what he didn’t do.”

“Well, if I wasn't with you on feeling guilty before, I am now,” Kasan says. “I could pretend I didn't have anything to do with Alderaan being destroyed because I was just flying TIEs in another sector, but—” She sighs.

“Don’t resign,” Bodhi says, quailing at the reminder of his greatest failure, but forcing the pang of dismay out of his voice. “This isn't the Empire—we get second chances. They let me—even Madine, and he did a hell of a lot worse than not knowing. They need you. Luke needs you.”

“I suppose.” For a minute Kasan just sits there silently next to him, head bent and shoulders slumped. Then she brightens up. “If they decide to execute Seerdon, do you think a Thyferran will just bite his head off?”

Bodhi gapes at her.

“You know, because they're giant—”

No,” Bodhi says, aghast, and then he realizes: “You didn't hear that the Emperor's got him.”

“What? I've not heard a thing. How in blazes did that happen?”

Bodhi opens his mouth to explain and freezes, suddenly unsure whether Draven wants to keep the holorecording classified. But maybe— “You were one of Seerdon's—favorites, right? Did he ever talk about—politics, people he was trying to impress, anybody like that? People higher up than he was.”

“He hated Tarkin.” Kasan's lips twitch. “I mean, everyone did, but—what's this got to do with him going back to the Empire?”

“Someone called the Emperor's Hand came and took him into custody,” Bodhi says, deciding he'll apologize to Draven later if Kasan isn’t supposed to know. “She—I’ve run into her before. Pretty scary. I thought we were all done for when she caught us on Corellia, and from the way he acted in the—in the holo, so did Seerdon. D’you know—”

“The Emperor’s Hand? Never heard of her, or anyone like that.”

“Oh. Okay.” His tiny spark of hope that there was something he could still figure out, something he could give Draven to show he’s not completely useless now, fizzles away. “Sorry.” His thoughts are straying off in a dozen directions; he tries to reel them back in, frantically, before Luke can pick up on his confused, despairing distress.

I don’t know what to do.

Kasan’s shaking her head. “No, I’m sorry. If Luke had let me kill him—” Bodhi flinches. “Hey. If he had, you wouldn’t be worrying about what Seerdon’s going to tell the Emperor’s Hand.”

Bodhi looks at her, wide-eyed.

“I’m not wrong,” she says, slowly, bitterly.

“Yeah.” Bodhi shivers. He’d tried to reach for Roja’s blaster, at the last. He doubts he would’ve been able to pull the trigger; knows he would’ve died for it if he had.

And what would Luke have done then?

He suppresses another shudder.

“I’m sorry,” Kasan says, again. “This is kind of a mess, isn’t it.”

Bodhi curls his right hand into a fist, uselessly, and hits it against the floor, thinking of Luke’s incandescent fury. “You have no idea.”

After Kasan comes Yraka’Nes, who doesn’t say anything about Thyferra, not at first, while she’s maneuvering him back up to the bed. She runs a critical eye over his numerous injuries, apparently pleased at the way his wrists are healing, at the very least, but—“What do you think about trying the bacta tank again?”

“I don’t know,” Bodhi says, flinching a little as she touches his chest to check his breathing. “I’d—I’d rather not, I think. Not right now.”

“I’m not sure if you heard me tell Commander Skywalker—you've been in and out quite a bit since he brought you home.” Her lekku twitch restlessly along her shoulders. “But it’ll take at least four weeks for you to heal, if you don’t. Something to consider.”

“Oh.”

“Can your missions wait that long, Lieutenant?” Yraka’Nes asks. “Does General Draven need you back sooner?”

Bodhi shakes his head. “I’m grounded.”

“Until you’re completely healed?”

He shakes his head again, aggravation simmering in his mind. “I don’t know.”

Yraka’Nes frowns. “That’s not right. He shouldn't treat you like that. You’re a—”

“Please don’t.” Bodhi holds up his hands wearily to stop her.

“You realize that I wouldn’t be alive to treat you if that weren’t true,” she says, a too-familiar expression crossing her face. “Dak and I, we owe you our lives. Zaltin Corp owes you a huge debt—”

“Thranx billed us,” Bodhi says. “I—all I did was tell you to run—if you hadn't sent a message none of it would've mattered.”

Yraka’Nes persists, firmly, “That's not how either of us see it. Sir.

“For fuck’s sake—” Bodhi mutters under his breath, ducking his head, his loose hair falling past his face. “Can you please just do whatever you have to do and leave me alone?”

“Bodhi—”

“Anything I need, that's what you said, right?”

“Is that really what you need?” Yraka’Nes asks, a little sharply, but she acquiesces, and doesn't say anything else about their mission to Thyferra as she finishes examining him.

“You’re welcome to stay in the medcenter a while longer, if you want,” she says, stepping back and extracting a pill bottle from her pocket. She hands it to him. “If you don't, come back immediately if anything changes, like if something hurts more all of a sudden. Keep taking the painkillers, you have to try to breathe normally.”

“That's it?” Bodhi asks.

“Well, that, and you shouldn't do any work that involves bending or twisting, or for which you need to use your hand—”

“So no maintenance shifts,” Bodhi says, shortly.

“I wouldn't think so,” she agrees. “Maybe this would be a good time to get caught up on paperwork?”

“Sure.” Bodhi gets his feet under him. “Um. If I can go?”

“Commander Skywalker had Wedge bring you some clothes, and there's a 'fresher you can use two doors down. You'll probably need help—don’t be afraid to comm me, or a nurse,” Yraka’Nes says. “And if you change your mind about the bacta tank, let me know,” she adds. “We’ve got plenty now, thanks to you.”

“If we can pay Thranx for it,” Bodhi says.

“I'm sure they'll cut you a deal.” Yraka’Nes pats his shoulder. “I’ve talked to General Draven once already, along with Dak, but if it will help, I can put in another word with him?”

It won't. “Thanks.”

“Rest up,” she says, gently, and leaves him mercifully alone once more.

He’s standing in the medical wing’s 'fresher five minutes later, staring, kind of horrified, at his battered reflection in the mirror.

I thought Kasan and Luke looked bad?

It says something that neither Cassian nor Jyn had mentioned anything about his appearance, though Bodhi’s not entirely sure what. Maybe that they've seen worse, or that they—and Draven—are just better at hiding their dismay. He’s relieved, barely, that at least they hadn’t seen him when he’d completely fallen apart.

Getting clean again should feel better than it does.

Washing his hair one-handed is more of a challenge than he’d expected, and Bodhi eventually gives up and lets the water sluice over him until it starts to get cold. And drying off and getting dressed is an exercise in and of itself; frustrated, he finally decides he can live with his hair dripping wetly down his collar and his bootlaces hanging untied. He slips down the corridor to the turbolift out of sight of any medical personnel, and hesitates over the panel, trying to think of where to go—but there’s really only one place that feels even the slightest bit right, even if he’s not going to be able to get to it unnoticed. 

Bodhi hesitates again at the wide entrance to the hangar bay, surveying the handfuls of people and droids between him and his ship. Hobbie, looking a lot better, is clambering into his X-wing and chattering to a mechanic while his astromech whirs back and forth anxiously on the floor below; there’s a team of ground crew unloading a transport; and docked between the Galen and the Cadera—

is Seerdon’s Sentinel-class shuttle.

“What the fuck?” Bodhi starts across the hangar, forgetting his intention to sneak over unobserved, but no one moves to intercept him. Why is this here? I thought they destroyed it—

The Sentinel’s ramp is down. Curiosity overtakes his confusion, and he goes up into the hold. The interior’s configured for troop transport, and it all looks remarkably undamaged, nothing in the way of scorch marks or anything to show it’s been in a battle—except for the contents of a ripped-open medkit scattered all over the floor, and the blood smeared across parts of the first row of seats.

Bodhi stares at the mess uncomprehendingly for a moment, and then realization floods him like adrenaline.

It’s my blood.

Luke got me out in Seerdon’s ship?

He has no memory of the flight home, but he’s as certain of it as he is of anything. 

Is this my ship now too? 

Unexpected fury ignites. Well, I don’t fucking want it. 

Bodhi lashes out with a foot, kicking the medkit across the hold. Kicks at the bloodstained seats until their bolts wobble, not caring that his injuries burn anew at every blow; not caring that he’s losing his balance, losing control.

I never wanted any of this!

He gasps for breath, clutching at his chest. The faces of his tormentors—the men who’d hauled him across the desert, Saw, Seerdon—his friends, even Luke—flicker in his head like guttering candles, like the shadows of the monster in his cell.

What more do you want from me?

“Bodhi?”

He spins back towards the ramp. “Go away—” But, for a wonder, it isn’t Luke standing there, concern etched on his face; it’s Baze.

“You’re back,” Bodhi says, glancing down the ramp at where Chirrut is barring an unhappy-looking Wedge from coming up to them.

Baze eyes him closely, and rests a warm hand on his shoulder. “You’re a mess.”

Bodhi’s weak replying laugh stabs through him. He doubles over in pain, choking on it, on his bewildered anger and anguish, and Baze shouts, “Chirrut—” and catches him before he hits the floor.

Chapter Text

“他怎麼了?”

“我不知道,” Baze says, easing Bodhi down with him to the jump seats as he wheezes and struggles to find some way to breathe that doesn't send fresh pain lancing through his chest. He clenches and unclenches his fist, folding over on himself. Agony smolders around the edges of his mind, his scattered thoughts like bright sparks.

I tried—

I can't—

I don't want Luke to see me like this—

He pants, every breath igniting inside him. Grits his teeth, thinking, fuck, fuck, what did I do—and Baze is rubbing his back, carefully, murmuring, “慢一點, 慢一點. It's okay.”

“You can punch Baze a few times if it will make you feel better,” Chirrut offers, and Bodhi lifts his head to discover him leaning on his staff at the top of the ramp. “He can take it.”

“And you can't?” Baze asks, dryly.

Chirrut shrugs. “My reflexes are too good. I would keep dodging out of the way.” He nods in Bodhi's direction. “Go on. This is a nice ship.”

“I'm not going to hit Baze,” Bodhi mutters, caustically. He glances up towards the cockpit of the Sentinel, hating his ridiculous masochistic impulse to go and have a look around, because it’s still a ship, and he’s still a pilot, maybe—“And it's not a nice ship. It belonged to the Empire.”

“You were trying to break it,” Baze observes.

Bodhi scowls at him. “Rogue Squadron can have it for target practice for all I care.”

“Ah. Here. You can smash it up with my staff.” Chirrut flips his stick around in his hand and offers the end of it to Bodhi.

“Chirrut—” Baze rolls his eyes.

“What? It’s the kind of thing you do.” Chirrut says.

“My way is faster.” Baze tilts his head at Bodhi. “We could do that instead?”

“Your way—you’re asking if I want to blow this ship up?” Bodhi’s eyes widen, and just as quickly, narrow again. “Wait, wait—you’re trying to distract me, aren't you? Both of you?”

“Distract you? From what?” Chirrut asks, too innocently.

Bodhi glares, sagging over sideways, and Baze steadies him with a firm arm around his shoulders. He smells of metallic-tinged smoke, probably from his repeater cannon; it’s not the spicy scent of cigarras or sweet incense from home, but it’s a bit comforting nonetheless. 

“我們不是來 distract you. You’re hurt. 你應該休息, not stomp around like a starved reek.”

“A starved reek?” Bodhi puzzles over it, ignoring the commensurate hollow feeling in his stomach.

“You’re too skinny to be a regular one.” Baze is grinning somewhere in his beard, small and thin, not at all like the bulk of him, taking up space.

“It’s not a distraction, to let your anger out,” Chirrut says, before Bodhi can find a rejoinder.. “I understand anger. I lived with him.

“He says he understands,” Baze mutters.

Chirrut pokes Baze in the side with the end of his staff and says, to Bodhi, “You should not hold onto your anger. Letting it go is better.”

“Anger at injustice is righteous,” Baze counters. “What is more unjust than the Empire, and all of the things they have done to us?”

“Hey,” Chirrut says, pointedly. “When we met, you tried to strangle Bodhi with your bare hands, and you didn’t even know him, or what he had done. What Saw had done to him. What was just about killing a broken man?”

Bodhi jerks out of the protective circle of Baze’s arm. He feels a phantom pull on his collar, and quickly shoves away the fragile and fuzzy memory of the barrel of Baze’s repeater cannon aimed directly at his chest; the much clearer one of Saw looming over him.

But they’re still talking, their conversation a tenuous thread tying his attention to the present.

No monsters. Just men.

“So my anger was misdirected then.” Baze squeezes Bodhi's shoulder in apology. “I found a place for it, later.”

“Yes, yes, when you thought I was dead and were very righteously angry about it. Still. You let go of it.” Chirrut smiles, inexplicably brightly, towards Bodhi. “He came back after killing everyone, held my dead body, and cried for his lost love.” Bodhi blinks, trying to remember if they’d talked about Scarif before in his presence, and comes up blank.

“你還是個混蛋,” Baze says, gruffly. “You could have said something about being alive instead of just lying there.”

“I was dead,” Chirrut insists, waving off the insult.

“Obviously not.” Baze sighs, and leans back, yawning, as if this is simply another round of an argument they’ve been having for a while and not an incredibly odd and disturbing topic of conversation.

“The Force gave me back to you,” Chirrut says, matter-of-factly, cementing Bodhi's impression. “So why are you angry?” He perches on the edge of the seat next to Bodhi, his posture alert, head cocked to listen.

Baze grunts. “Something terrible happened again, Chirrut, he’s badly hurt—”

“I can sense that,” Chirrut says.

“—his hand is broken—”

“I’m right here.” Annoyance flares up inside Bodhi again. “You don’t have to describe me, I can speak for myself.” But speaking is an effort, and he has to stop to catch his breath. Shit. Four weeks like this?

“Habit,” Baze says. “He has a black eye, and bruises—” Bodhi makes an aggrieved face at him, but somehow, hearing Baze run down the list of his injuries doesn’t make him flinch or spur his desire to flee. He's not sure how far he'd be able to get, anyway.

“—and his hair is still wet,” Baze finishes. “Tangled. Do you want me to do something with  it?”

Bodhi’s eyebrows shoot up. He takes in Baze’s shaggy mane—the smears of soot and blood on his clothes, the scrapes on Chirrut’s hands, and then guilt pours over him like a wave. “You just got back,” he says, dismayed. “You just got back and you’re trying to help me—”

“Trying to?” Chirrut scoffs. “I think we are doing better than that. You’re not falling down now. Or shouting at nothing.”

“We’re fine,” Baze reassures Bodhi, patting his arm as Bodhi mentally steps back a bit, distressed. I wasn't yelling. It was in my head. I think? Dammit. “Madine is a very respectful man. He understands when and how to use us.”

“He means he got to sleep a lot,” Chirrut says. “More than in our other battles. So don't worry about us.” His eyes might be unfocused, but they settle expectantly in Bodhi’s vicinity nonetheless. “So how else can we help our favorite pilot?”

Bodhi rubs at his temple with his fingertips. “You were supposed to have fixed me already.”

“I keep telling you, but you don’t listen,” Chirrut says. “I never promised a fix—”

“But—you did, I was better,” Bodhi argues. “I was doing better. I was flying. I was—” He gulps. His mouth dries out, and he tastes—sand.  

Chirrut is smiling, though there's not much humor in the curve of his mouth. “Were you happy, Bodhi?” Baze’s dark eyes peer intently into his face.

Bodhi tastes spices, now, too, and to his surprise, he can feel Jedha’s cold desert wind stinging his eyes. But he isn’t falling apart—not yet, anyway—

His voice scrapes his raw throat, the words stuttering out fast and painful. “I don't know. I—I had a part in—Cassian and Jyn, they thought—but I can't be what anyone wants me to be, I’m a terrible spy, I can't fight, I'm just a fucking pilot, and I can't even do that, not after—after this.” Bodhi gestures down at himself, at his blood staining the jump seats.

Chirrut raps the end of his staff against the floor. “What about what made you happy?”

“I just told you, I don't know—”

“Being with Luke, before we left,” Baze says, running a hand over his bearded chin. “I think. You smiled, a little bit. And having things to do with Cassian and Jyn.”

“你為什麼—我要他自己說—” Chirrut says, huffily.

“我正在幫助他更快地找出來,” Baze insists. “他這麼痛苦—”

“I’m still here,” Bodhi says, glaring uselessly at them. “What does this have to do with anything? Okay, I was happy, Luke made me happy, I—but he—” Bodhi ducks his head and rakes the fingers that still work through his damp hair. “But I can’t be what he—I can’t make it fair. He saved me again, I owe him so much—he thinks I’m—I don’t know what he thinks or what he wants from me anymore—”

“You could just ask.”

It’s not Chirrut or Baze’s voice accompanying the all-too familiar footsteps coming up the ramp.

Shit. Bodhi pushes his hair back out of his face, not looking up. His lips move soundlessly, working over unvoiced syllables; he isn’t completely sure what words they’re shaping, or what other muddled, bleak fears might sneak out if he let them.

Luke takes the last couple of strides up the ramp into the Sentinel. “Hi, Baze, Master Îmwe. Welcome home.”

“Your boyfriend is having a rough day,” Chirrut says.

“I know.” Luke sounds—tired. Sad.

Baze shifts his weight to get up, and murmurs, to Bodhi, barely audible, “He has learned. He understands more than you think.” Then he says, louder, “We should go,” and Chirrut makes a disappointed sound.

“I’ll fill you in when I come for training,” Luke offers, dryly, and Chirrut laughs and allows Baze to lead him away. And then the ship is quiet, save for the usual noises of the hangar outside, and the stilted and broken sound of Bodhi’s breaths.

Luke sits down to Bodhi’s right, not touching him at all. “Tell me about this ship.”

“What?” Bodhi lifts his head. Luke is no less disheveled than when he’d left, earlier, and Bodhi feels a pang of guilt for pulling him away from meeting with Leia, from any chance to rest after all he’d done in the battle—

“You know more about Imperial ships than I do.” Luke slings his arm across the back of the seats, just out of reach, and raises his eyebrows. “So?”

“Um—” Bodhi frowns, but answers, slowly, “It’s a Sentinel-class landing craft.”

“Who makes them?”

“Cygnus Spaceworks, sort of, they were subcontracted by SFS like with the Lambdas—Luke, what—”

“Engines?”

Bodhi bites his lip. “Is this about you trying to prove that—”

“Come on, tell me about the engines,” Luke persists.

“You flew this fucking thing,” Bodhi retorts, wincing as he starts to curl both hands into fists and has to stop when his broken fingers throb in warning. “Right? You must have some idea—fine. It’s a HD7 array, hyperdrive and ions both together, it’s a Cygnus specialty to do it up like that—this is absolute bantha fodder, Luke, me knowing some stuff about ships that you don’t know isn’t the same as you saving my life for the second time!” He sucks in air, his chest heaving, his heart thumping wildly.

I can't, I can't do this—

Keep it together, dammit. It’s Luke. It’s just Luke.

Who loves me.

Why did he have to—

“You’re not counting the times I was on the laser cannons and kept TIE fighters off of whatever ship you happened to be flying?” Luke says, apparently still unaware of Bodhi’s inner turmoil about that, but there’s an undercurrent of tension, of worry, in his voice. “Look, I shouldn’t have told you about the whole, you know, dark side thing, it was too much to deal with, but that makes us even, doesn’t it? Or at least—Seerdon didn’t blow us all up because you stopped me. Besides, you’re forgetting something.”

Bodhi snorts. “That’s not a surprise.” He turns his head away.

“Well, I hope you remember, because it was pretty important to me,” Luke says. “You took me around the galaxy, those amazing planets—you said it was fair, then.”

He reaches out to Bodhi’s uninjured hand, and Bodhi glances back at him. “Okay? I mean, I just try to listen to what you say, I honestly don’t keep track of it like that. I saved Leia, too, and she certainly doesn’t act like she’s ever going to repay me the favor.” A faint smile drifts across his lips. “She wasn’t too thrilled with that rescue, actually. I’d like to think I’m getting better at it, though.”

“There was less garbage,” Bodhi acknowledges, slowly. He looks down at Luke’s hand on top of his on the seat—“More blood, though.”

Luke squeezes his hand, and then just holds it gently. “I’m sorry. I didn't think you'd be able to come down here yet, or I’d have cleaned all this up. The Cadera, too.”

Alarm jolts through him like a blow, and he tugs his hand away—“What happened to my ship?”

“Nothing,” Luke hastens to reassure him. “It just—some bacta got spilled—let me get it mopped up before you go back there.”

“Oh,” Bodhi says. “Great. Now I can't even go home.” He droops against the seat, fidgeting with the tape around his fingers, weary beyond measure. Maybe if I go and lie down in the spilled bacta? The thought of smelling it again, though, makes him shiver and swallow nervously.

“I'll take care of it,” Luke says. “But, um, in the meantime, I got Leia to assign us proper quarters. Away from the rest of the squadron. So you don't have to go back and bunk in the medcenter or sack out in one of your other ships, not when you're—” He takes a long breath. “Is that okay?”

Bodhi nods.

“Good.” Luke’s smile isn't quite as luminous as usual. Bodhi supposes that's to be expected; it’s only been a—day? two?—since they’d returned, and people keep making him leave Bodhi's side for whatever reason. “We can go there now, if you want.”

“All I've been doing is sleeping,” Bodhi says, a plaintive note creeping into his voice.

“Who said anything about sleeping?” Luke's eyes sparkle, mischievously, and Bodhi’s mouth falls open—“Kidding. I'm kidding. You're hurt.”

“So everyone keeps telling me.” But Bodhi starts to lever himself up, and Luke instantly jumps to support him.

Wedge is waiting just down off the Sentinel’s ramp. “No pranks, I promise,” he says, taking a  flanking position as they cross the hangar, shielding Bodhi from most of the stares. “Just here to help, now that the Guardians aren't guarding you. They're, what, your uncles or something?”

“Something,” Bodhi mutters, and catches Luke trying to hide a grin.

For all that it's clear he's very worried, Wedge is the least wiped out of the three of them, going on about the difficulties he's having with his R5 unit now that its memories aren't being erased regularly. “Artoo's leading a droid revolution,” he says, in the turbolift to the crew deck. “Bad enough you let him fly your X-wing by himself—”

“He said he'd done it before,” Luke replies, unconcerned.

Wedge points at him. “See? That's the exactly kind of thing—did you know he'd flown it? What other kinds of shit are they getting up to that we don't know about?”

“Well,” Luke says, “in Artoo's case, he got the Death Star plans from Leia that Bodhi's team sent, commandeered an escape pod with Threepio, landed on Tatooine, was sold to me, escaped again—” It's clearly not the first time Wedge has had to listen to Luke run down Artoo’s adventures, like this, because he's groaning and holding his hands up in mock surrender. “And the analysts told me there's decades worth of data he's storing, too, but he claims he doesn't know anything about that.”

Wedge looks to Bodhi for help as the lift doors slide open. “You don't find it weird that droids can lie this much?”

“I’d rather they have some personality, I guess.” He shrugs. Unlike Chirrut and Baze, Wedge is obviously trying to distract him with nonsense; even droids who get regular memory wipes can end up with free will.

Luke laughs, nudging his shoulder gently. “I’d say Cassian definitely reprogrammed Kaytoo with some personality, that’s for sure.”

(He’d been bent over, panting for breath, dripping with rain and flinching every time fighters exploded overhead like thunder. Had straightened up and tried to make Kaytoo understand.

“Cassian reprogrammed you, right? Galen Erso reprogrammed me.”)

Not well enough.

Bodhi’s still thinking about that, and the far too compelling notion of memory wipes, though, a couple minutes later, when they reach their new quarters and Wedge abruptly stops talking and pulls him into a hug. “I'm sorry we didn't get to you sooner.” Bodhi can’t help but twitch in his embrace, protecting his ribs, and Wedge lets go hastily. “Me and the the rest of the squadron, we’ll do anything we can to help you out,” he says. “We’ll get the Cadera cleaned up, handle the Galen’s repairs—”

“Uh—”

“Minor damage,” Luke interjects, quickly.

“Anything you want us to do,” Wedge says.

Bodhi’s usual urge to tease him flickers dimly in his head. He starts to open his mouth—

“—within reason,” Wedge adds.

“I was only going to ask if you’d install some cupholders,” Bodhi says, dryly, and Wedge makes a slightly rude gesture at him as Luke lets out a startled snicker. Bodhi reaches out and clasps Wedge’s hand, though. “Thanks.”

“You bet.” Wedge smiles and trots off, leaving Bodhi and Luke looking at each other in the empty corridor.

Luke blows out a breath, and keys the door open. “It’s not much,” he says, apologetically.

“It’s got a bed,” Bodhi observes, and steps inside, stumbling as he tries to kick off his boots and discovers he can’t balance himself with everything that’s broken. He crosses to the bunk and sits on the edge of it, gazing back at Luke lingering in the doorway even as the door itself hisses shut behind him. “What?”

“You’re still angry,” Luke says. “I can sense it.”

Bodhi starts to lift his hand; lets it fall back to the bed, aggrieved. “I thought I told you not to do that.”

Luke crosses his arms. “It’s not like I have to do anything to feel it. I’m sure Wedge can tell, too; you’re barely talking again—”

“Well, fuck, Luke, I’m sorry I’m not talking enough for you,” Bodhi snaps, fury flaming up once more. “It hurts, and everyone wants to talk about what the fuck happened and the only person who’s actually apologized for getting me into this mess is Kasan, and she’s not the monster, she just, I don’t know, dated the fucking guy—”

“It hurts to talk?” Luke says, frowning and coming over to him, gesturing for him to sit up straight and gently touching his chest.

Bodhi grimaces and only just refrains from pushing him away. “Since when are you a medic?”

“Yraka’Nes told me a bunch of things I should look out for.”

“Since when are you—” Bodhi can’t think of what else to snap at him; his hands are warm, and— “Are you doing some fucking Force thing right now?”

“Your mouth gets worse when you’re mad,” Luke says, thoughtfully. Bodhi can’t see his face; he’s standing too close, blocking the light. “You’re almost as bad as Han.”

“I was a cargo pilot,” Bodhi points out, simmering.

“I’m not doing anything with the Force,” Luke says. “But I don’t think you’ve hurt yourself any worse with all that yelling.” He withdraws his hands. “Did I do more harm than good, showing up at the Sentinel when Chirrut and Baze were already talking you through it?”

“Through what?”

“I don’t know.” Luke takes a step back. “All the things that hurt you.”

Bodhi shakes his head, firmly, even though there’s something tugging at his mind, dragging him towards the cell on Jedha—“I don’t talk about that with anyone.”

“Yeah, I got that,” Luke says. “Does anyone else even know about the first time you were tortured?”

“Don’t,” Bodhi interrupts him, frantically. His heart is pounding again, and he’s starting to sweat, his vision blurring Luke into a looming shadow. He hears the hiss of Saw’s ventilator. “Don’t—”

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Stay here with me.” Luke drops to his knees, holding onto Bodhi’s arms, just above his wrists. “Tell me something about your ships—”

“I can’t work on them.” Bodhi fumbles towards fury instead of his fear, but the monster is coalescing out of the darkness, and his thoughts are beginning to scatter. “I can’t—” He pants. Pulls against the restraints. “Luke—help me—"

Chapter Text

Had it all been a trick?

Ash and sand in his mouth.

Was he still on Jedha, still in the dark cell in the catacombs, with Saw waiting outside for him to give up?

Think about ships. That was supposed to help, right? Someplace to go when—

 

(—Seerdon is touching his face with his tentacles, clamping his temples in their fleshy grip, burning into his brain—

A hoarse voice overlaid with a clipped accent—“Tell me where—”)

 

“Bodhi. Bodhi, look at me.”

He moans only because he can’t summon a scream out past his broken ribs, and clutches at his head. It’s wrong. It’s all wrong. He’s shaking badly as a misaligned repulsor coil, but someone was supposed to fix it, they were supposed to repair the damage—

A delirious, wrecked laugh. Minor damage.

“It’s okay, Bodhi, there’s nothing wrong with the Galen that we can’t take care of—”

(Galen, who studied the geology of Jedha, the meteorology of Eadu, the most and least efficient routes between the two worlds for a cargo pilot still trying to escape one and sick of the other.

Who said “I’m sorry,” when his mother died and he stood on the platform turning his face up into Eadu’s eternal rain—

Who had reprogrammed him and set him on the path to—

—to—

—)

 

Galen sent me to find Saw Gerrera.

Did he know what would happen?

He didn’t—he wouldn’t have—

Galen sent me.

It was important.

“That’s right. Galen Erso sent you with the message.” A gentle, pitying voice. “Do you remember?”

“I brought—” Bodhi draws a tremulous gasp of breath. Remember? His damp hair hangs loose around his face, but he can’t figure out how it’d gotten wet, or why his face is wet.

(It rained all the time on Eadu, and the smell of it didn’t matter, didn't mean anything, since he was drowning in it all the time. But he hadn’t been on Jedha for the last monsoon, diverted to the Scarif run for the season, missing the electric, weightless feeling of the storm finally breaking. Homesick even though—)

—Saw is waiting for him to tell the truth, he has to tell the truth or he’ll die here, shattering into a million pieces and taking the ship down with him. “I brought—”

(—drowning in the lake on Chorax, his mother’s body weighing down his arms so he can’t swim to save her—)

Death.

“No, Bodhi, no—”

But he had.

His mother had—

(—the Temple had died, and—

The Guardians guarded nothing. Sat on the steps, old men waiting for the days and the people to pass, waiting for what would never return. Telling fortunes for people who only wanted to make one so they could get offworld, like him, escaping the despair and dust and—)

“You have to do something.” Someone sharper, brittle, though she’s unbreakable. “Can’t you use the Force to help him?”

Galen’s daughter. She came to Jedha to find her father.

Is that right?

Is—

 

“I promised I wouldn’t.” That voice sounds anguished, near tears. “It hurt him, the time on Corellia, I—I can’t do that to him again—”

There is a pause.

Bodhi twitches—Corellia? His heart races, like he’s cut in the auxiliary power too early.

(—the lightsaber in the woman’s hand ignites as she stalks down the catwalk towards him—

“—I will end this for you, traitor—”)

But—

That’s not how it went either—

He struggles against—nothing.

—there was sunlight, and—

—Luke—

“You and I are going to have a long conversation about exactly what happened on that mission,” Cassian—Cassian—mutters.

Luke is nodding. “Okay. Okay. Whatever you want.” He gazes up into Bodhi’s face from where he kneels on the floor. “I think he’s back.”

Bodhi huddles in on himself, utterly unable to stop shaking. The tape around the fingers of his left hand is slipping apart. He scrabbles at it, twisting the end back into place, focusing on trying to hold it together so he doesn’t have to look at his friends, or the man who thinks he loves him. His memories are all untethered, drifting like derelict ships after a battle, colliding, spinning off into empty space.

“You’re safe. We’re right here with you.” Cassian comes and sits down to one side of him, gently putting an arm around his hunched shoulders, as Luke carefully prises Bodhi’s right hand away from fiddling with the tape and holds it with both of his own.

“Are you all right?” Luke asks. “You felt—different. All scrambled up. I—I didn't know if you were even—” He gulps, and ducks his head. Jyn’s silent, frowning hard at them from the other side of the room.

“I'm sorry,” Bodhi mumbles, incapable of sorting through the debris field of thoughts and salvaging more than that as reassurance. “I—” He sinks his head against Cassian’s shoulder and watches Jyn’s fingers turning the kyber crystal on her necklace, the way its rough facets refract the light. “It was all very—confusing.”

“Do you know where you are now?” Cassian asks, softly, and Bodhi lifts his head, looks around the empty little room for anything familiar beyond its configuration. He hadn’t had much to call his own once he’d left Jedha, either time, but there should be something of his lying around, and even his goggles are missing.

He trembles, feeling sick. “No. I—I can’t remember how I got here.”

Luke jerks up, and says, “I just got you assigned to proper officer’s quarters,” and Bodhi lingers over that, frowning. “We came straight from the hangar bay, I didn’t have a chance to bring any of your things up yet.” He’s gazing anxiously from Bodhi to Cassian and back again. “Maybe—maybe this was a bad idea—but you can’t sleep in the Cadera.”

“I think I can sleep anywhere,” Bodhi says, in a small voice. “Here’s—okay, I guess.” His thoughts are sliding away, but not back down into the mess and misery of his memories, just mulling over the idea that he’s an officer, they’d never have made a cargo pilot an officer in the Empire, even flight instructors like Misurno weren’t ranked higher than—

Luke squeezes his hand sharply, and Bodhi opens his eyes to discover he’s started to collapse to one side. Cassian is supporting him; he’s not as solid as Baze, but he's holding on just as tight, his hand rubbing Bodhi’s shoulder encouragingly. But Jyn heaves a sigh. “What about nightmares? This happened while you were talking to Luke—what happens when you’re asleep?”

“It’s usually all right,” Luke offers. Despite the awfulness of everything, he’s turned bright red, and Jyn barely manages to tamp down a faint, reflexive smirk. “Um. But if you want, I’m sure Yraka’Nes would have something to help?”

Bodhi breathes out, slowly, eyeing the pillow. His head feels like an overloading power regulator. “Yeah, I could go for that.”

“You’re staying?” Cassian asks Luke, settling Bodhi down on the bunk carefully. Luke nods; he’s blushing again as he tugs Bodhi’s boots off, not meeting Cassian’s gaze.  

“No—go, you should all go, I’m—I think I’ll be—fine after I get some more rest.” Bodhi props himself up on an elbow, wincing.

“For being a decent sabacc player, you’re shit at lying,” Jyn says, not unkindly, as Cassian gets up. “We’ll be right back with your things and whatever Yraka’Nes gives us to put you out, let Luke have a turn to, oh, I don’t know, take a shower.” Luke glares and runs his hand over his hair self-consciously as he takes Cassian’s place on the bed.

“Okay,” Bodhi says. He swallows, and gazes up at his friends, searching for the right thing to say. Thanks doesn’t seem enough. But Cassian’s mouth twitches, a little, sadly, and he nods in understanding before departing with Jyn.

“Is it all right that I called them to help?” Luke asks, quietly. “I couldn’t talk you out of it by myself this time. You—didn’t seem to hear me at all.”

“Yeah.” Bodhi closes his eyes and presses his face into the pillow, willing his mind to go blank.

“It’s okay,” Luke says, resting a hand on his. “It’s going to be all right. I’m here to help, and so are Cassian and Jyn and everyone who—cares about you.” He makes a sound that might be a laugh. “Even Han’s been asking about you.”

“I don’t think he’s going to want his clothes back,” Bodhi says, muffled, distracted, but only for a moment. Tears start to soak into his pillow, and he gasps, raggedly, his chest hitching. “I’m really losing it, aren’t I?”

“No, no—” Luke twines his fingers through Bodhi's. “It's all right.” Bodhi tries to tug his hand free to wipe his face, but Luke doesn’t let go while he shakes and mumbles things like lost, I lost—until he has nothing left of words, tears, or conscious thought.

*****

The week after that, Bodhi sleeps a lot, and he is never, ever, alone.

There’s Luke, of course, whose arms are wrapped around him nearly every time he goes to sleep; who talks him out of his panic when he cannot remember where he is, one morning; who helps him shower.

It’s less fun than everyone gently teases them for; Bodhi’s focused on staying awake and upright enough not to drown, not on the way Luke’s touching him.

“Don’t worry about it,” Luke says, cheerfully, kneeling to lace up Bodhi’s boots as Bodhi fumbles through an apology for his lack of interest. “Plenty of time for that once you’re feeling better.” He kisses Bodhi very thoroughly, though, when they part ways.

*****

Cassian—and Jyn, though she’s really only good at nicking breakfast from the galley—make him food, though Bodhi’s heard rumblings that supplies throughout the Alliance are dwindling, and he insists that he can eat ration bars like everyone else, it’s fine—

“Eat,” Jyn snaps. She looks tired, her and Cassian both; they’re taking care of him on top of their usual duties, and the way she’d simply shoved the pile of datapads off the table onto the floor despite Cassian’s half-voiced protest suggest those aren’t proceeding particularly well. Bodhi dutifully gulps down another spoonful of posole and sneaks a look at the top datapad before Jyn glares at him and kicks it out of his sight.

*****

Draven’s first attempt to debrief him doesn’t go very well. He comes back to himself on the floor of Draven’s office, trying vainly not to cry, dizzy and humiliated. 

His return to light duty is postponed indefinitely.

*****

Luke attempts to cheer him up afterwards by talking about ships; Admiral Ackbar’s been developing B-wing fighters with Slayn & Korpil, and Luke manages to convince someone to let him check out the schematics. He pulls Bodhi along into poring over the JZ-5 engines, the new weapons systems, but it doesn’t work. Bodhi stares down at his left hand and fiddles with the tape around his fingers until Luke figures out he’s stopped listening.

*****

Chirrut tries to make him resume meditating five times a day, but Bodhi keeps falling asleep instead of listening to his breath or his body or whatever the hell Chirrut says. Which would be fine, except for the time Baze falls asleep, too, and his snores jolt Bodhi right back out of his nap.

Or the time Luke has to wake him up out of a horrible, half-remembered nightmare of a mass of writhing tentacles ripping his ship apart.

*****

Bodhi’s second debriefing attempt with Draven goes slightly better than the first; he doesn’t panic again, but Draven mentions Seerdon’s execution and he has to excuse himself to be sick. Stares into space for a long time afterwards in Jyn and Cassian’s quarters, calm enough not to have Luke coming after him, wondering if the Emperor’s Hand had done it herself, but—he doesn’t go back to Draven to finish reporting.

*****

Rogue Squadron takes turns working on fixing the Galen or cleaning up the Cadera; Bodhi tries to help, at first, defying orders and his aching ribs, but has to stop after the pain nearly makes him pass out. And then Wedge threatens to strap him down in the jump seats so he’ll stop hovering, and that—doesn’t quite set him off, not exactly, but afterwards he can’t remember what he’d shouted so furiously at his friend.  

Or, days later, why he’d shouted at Kasan or Janson in the hold of the Galen or the hangar bay or—

*****

“Yeah, I think that’s about enough,” Cassian says, as Janson gently pats Bodhi’s shoulder, accepting his broken apologies for the second time, and goes back to working on his X-wing. Cassian’s got a duffel bag in one hand, like he’s headed out on a mission, but he’s smiling, faintly, and Cassian never smiles before a mission. “Time to go.”

“I can’t—I’m not going anywhere—” Bodhi sputters, still sorting through his confused anger. “I’m in no shape to do anything—”

“Then it’s a good thing I’m not asking you to do anything,” Cassian says, taking his arm and shepherding him away from the X-wings and towards the Raptor.

“Cassian—”

“It’s all been cleared,” Cassian says, pushing him gently into the cockpit, but not in the direction of either the pilot or co-pilot’s chairs, which are occupied by Kaytoo and Luke, who’s grinning more brightly than Bodhi can remember seeing in a long time. “All you have to do is sit. Maybe take another nap.”

“Where— what is going on? Are you—are we going rogue—?”

“Oh, good, we’re all here,” Jyn says, coming forward out of the hold and ducking under Cassian’s arm to kiss Bodhi’s cheek. “Ready to go?”

“‘We?’” Chirrut calls, from the ramp. “What is this ‘we’ business without us?”

“I thought you—” Jyn says, frowning, at the same time Cassian slaps his forehead and groans. “Sorry, sorry. I cleared them with Madine but I forgot to actually invite—”

“Our invitations do not have to be engraved,” Baze grumbles, pulling Chirrut along with him. “Just delivered.

“Can someone please tell me what is happening?” Bodhi asks, staring wildly around at his friends as they strap into their respective seats and Luke fires up the Raptor’s engines. “I’m not cleared for any missions, I’m barely cleared to walk around the ship —I have to report to Draven again before the week’s out, I have to—”

Jyn shakes her head, glancing at Cassian. “Do you want to tell him, or can I?”

Kaytoo says, before either of them have a chance, “By all accounts, forty-six point four percent of your waking hours since you returned from Thyferra have been spent either crying or yelling at people—”

What?”

“—and your friends, although no one has asked me for advice, concerned about your ongoing mental deterioration—”

“Hey,” Bodhi says, grimacing. Luke turns, and squeezes his hand.

“—as well as their own selfish interests—”

“Hey,” Jyn says, mildly aggrieved, and Cassian shrugs at her.

“—have proposed a change of scenery.” Kaytoo fixes Bodhi with a stare. “I think it’s a stupid idea.”

“Kay’s just mad because he doesn’t want to get sand in his gears again,” Cassian says, lightly. “You need a break. We all need a break. So we’re going to Sanctuary for supplies.”

“How is that a break?” Bodhi mutters, perplexed, as they lift off.

“Sanctuary has beaches,” Jyn says, and her smile could light the darkness.

Chapter Text

On Sanctuary, in their little rental house, Bodhi wakes up the day after they land to find Jyn sitting cross-legged on Luke’s side of the bed with a datapad in her hand. Sunlight reflects off the datapad’s surface so he can't read it. “What’s that?”

Jyn shuts it off. “Nothing important.” She looks down at Bodhi expectantly.

He sighs, sits up slowly, and starts to gather his hair back out of his face. “We're on Sanctuary, we got to the island last night, Baze was seasick on the ferry on the ride over from the spaceport. I'm fine.”

“Okay,” Jyn says, her voice conveying nothing.

“You don't have to hang around all the time waiting for me to crack,” Bodhi says, reproachfully.

She looks at him, her expression equally unreadable. “I’m not.”

“Right.” Bodhi gives up on his hair, slides carefully out of bed, and pushes the wooden shutters the rest of the way open to look at the beach. In the daylight, the sea is a deep, emerald green, white where it crashes into the shore. An avian darts over the waves, following the rolling curves to the south and out of sight, its soaring cry carrying clearly back to him. He turns back to Jyn, listening to the quiet; there are no mechanical sounds of Kaytoo moving about, or Luke’s cheerful chatter. “Where did everyone else go?”

“Luke got dragged off to go meditate.” Jyn yawns, stretching her arms up over her head. “Cassian’s outside spraying another anti-corrosive coating on Kaytoo because he wouldn't shut up about it after we got up.”

“And you're working,” Bodhi says. Her feet are bare, like his, and she's shed her jacket and scarf, but otherwise she seems exactly as relaxed as usual: not at all.

She hops off his bed. “I'm done now. Let's get something to eat.”

“And then?” Bodhi follows her through the house to the kitchen, where a bowl of imported fruit sits on the counter.

Jyn picks through it, looking pleased, and holds up a sihan peach at Bodhi, tossing it to him when he holds up his right hand. “Depends how you're feeling. Go back to bed, I'll send Luke in to you when he comes in.” Her eyes glint.

“Jyn,” Bodhi says, wearily.

She smiles at him and shrugs. “I don't care, do what you want.” Jyn bites into her own peach, ignoring the juice that drips down her chin. “I'm going to lie on the beach and read trashy holonovels.”

“Oh.” The sihan peach is sweeter than Bodhi expects, the taste of it almost a shock on his tongue. “What was it Cassian said about the supplies we're supposed to be picking up?”

“I said you shouldn't worry about any of that,” Cassian says, coming into the kitchen with Kaytoo and grinning at Jyn. “You've got a little—” He gestures at his mouth, and then at hers, and she blinks at him in feigned ignorance until he leans in to kiss her lips clean.

“Cute,” Kaytoo mutters.

“The delivery's not until the end of the week,” Cassian adds. Jyn's eyes follow him as he circles around the counter and selects a hindian pear for himself. “You should just—”

“Rest, right, okay,” Bodhi says, not bothering to keep irritation out of his voice, though he ducks his head a little in apology as Cassian looks at him, his eyebrows drawing down.

“Meditation is also good,” Chirrut says, cheerfully, as he and Baze and Luke pile into the kitchen from the outer courtyard. “There is nothing for you to fix here, so no moving meditation, but there are plenty of calming things to look at and listen to.” Baze sits down on a stool, eyeing the mess Bodhi and Jyn are making. He grunts, and pulls out a knife.

“No nightmares?” Luke murmurs hopefully into Bodhi's ear, darting his hand recklessly past Baze's knife for the neat slices of fruit that peel away from his blade. Bodhi shakes his head and starts to lick his sticky fingers like he used to, when he was young and had been given a rare treat. Luke’s gaze is drawn to his mouth like a magnet, his eyes widening, and Bodhi stares back at him, his heartbeat stuttering in his chest.

Baze rolls his eyes. “The sea is not a calming thing,” he says to Chirrut, and pops a slice of peach into his mouth. Chirrut clears his throat, and Baze pauses, and prods Bodhi with a knee. “Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go look at it.”

“I’m not dressed,” Bodhi protests, weakly, gesturing to his sleeping clothes and bare feet.

“Don’t need to be,” Chirrut says, grinning impudently. He’s fully dressed, although neither Baze nor Luke are; Luke’s got on the thin undershirt and shorts he’d slept in, too, all wiry lean muscle underneath compared to Baze’s more expansive physique.

Luke blushes, and reaches for Bodhi’s hand, evidently not caring that his fingers are still sticky with peach juice. “Come on, I’ll show you where we were meditating this morning.”

Bodhi drops the peach pit on the counter and lets Luke lead him out through the courtyard. And, just as Luke pushes open the gate, they both hear Kaytoo say, grimly, “I’m going to keep count of how many times you all go off to have sex—”

“Kay!”

Luke can’t fully contain a laugh, but he looks at Bodhi and shakes his head. “My intentions are pure,” he says.

“Uh-huh.” Bodhi follows him down the short flight of steps to the beach, wishing he had managed to tie his hair back as the wind picks up, tangling it further around his face. The air smells like salt, like it had on Aquilaris, standing in the podracing stadium, or like on—

He frowns. Scarif had smelled like ozone and blood, chemical smoke burning his throat, his lungs. Here—

—here there is nothing to be afraid of, no firefight going on around him or ships exploding overhead. Luke smells like salt and sunscreen, not fear and death. His friends are all alive, and safe. The battle is—

“What’re you thinking about?” Luke asks, settling himself into a ridge of dry sand a few meters from the water’s edge. He squints up at Bodhi curiously, and Bodhi gingerly drops down next to him.

“Nothing worth mentioning.” Bodhi wraps his arms around his knees and stares at the waves crashing one after the other into the shore, the long curving line of foam they leave behind. The white sand is warm under his bare feet, and he can’t help but dig his toes into it.

“Okay,” Luke says, gently. He shuffles his feet, and Bodhi glances over to see him wiggling his pale pink toes in the sand, too.

“I thought you didn’t like sand.” Bodhi’s mouth twitches, barely.

“It’s different,” Luke says. “It feels different. Doesn’t it? I wouldn’t have done this at—at home.” He points at his half-buried feet. “Would’ve burned my soles clean off if I’d ever even stepped on parts of Tatooine barefoot.”

Bodhi huffs a tiny laugh. “On Jedha, it would’ve been frostbite that took your toes. Fingers, too.” Luke jerks forward abruptly, digging Bodhi’s foot out of the sand—“Luke! What are you doing?”

“Counting.” Luke tweaks Bodhi’s toes. Bodhi yelps and tries not to kick him, a giggle bubbling up in his chest. “Oh, okay, good. Give me your other foot.”

“You’re being ridiculous—ah!” Bodhi falls back against the sand and covers his face with his right hand, laughing helplessly as Luke runs his fingers lightly over his foot. “Stop, stop—”

“I knew you had to be ticklish somewhere,” Luke says, triumphantly, leaning over Bodhi and tugging his hand away from his face. He licks Bodhi’s index finger, still stained with peach juice—“One—” and immediately pulls a face. “Ugh, sand.” But he makes a show of examining each of Bodhi’s fingers on both hands, and Bodhi stops squirming and tilts his head back out of Luke’s shadow into the sun. He only flinches a little when Luke gently kisses the tips of his broken fingers as he counts them, though he wonders—is this a distraction?

“You’re all here,” Luke reports, flopping down onto the sand on his back, holding Bodhi’s good hand to his heart.

It’s Bodhi’s turn to squint at him. “Are you sure?”

Luke shrugs. “I can check everywhere, if you’d like,” he offers, blushing slightly, and Bodhi’s mouth quirks up again.

“No—maybe later, but I meant—” Bodhi waves his left hand by his temple.

Luke raises his eyebrows. “I promised, Bodhi.”

“I think I’m here, I think—” Bodhi grimaces. “You didn’t—there’s nothing wrong that made you come back from meditating?”

“No,” Luke says. “You seem okay. You didn’t have nightmares on the Raptor, or last night, and whatever you were thinking about when we walked down here, you—stopped.”

“Oh.” Bodhi closes his eyes for a moment, listening to the crashing sea and the birds, and, as if from a great distance, his own heartbeat. “What’s it feel like?”

“What does what feel like?”

“When I’m—when I’m okay.” Bodhi opens his eyes and turns his head to gaze at Luke.

Luke stiffens. “It’s going to be all right,” he says. “You’re getting better.”

“That’s not what I asked,” Bodhi says, pulling his hand free from Luke’s grasp. “I want to know. I can’t quite tell, on my own. I thought I was doing all right, on and off, and I keep—” He exhales sharply. “What if I’m not—by the end of the week—you’ll be able to tell?”

“I think so.” Luke doesn’t look at him, sitting up and drawing something in the sand off to his side before erasing it with a sweep of his hand.

“And I’m—”

“Not there yet.” Luke brushes the fine grains of sand off of his hands. “But you will be. Seerdon hurt you very, very badly, but Master Îmwe says you just need time, and—and—peace, and quiet. You’ll be back on duty before you know it.”

“What does it feel like to you when I’m not—panicking?” Bodhi persists. “When I’ll be ready again?”

Luke swallows, and says nothing, for a minute. Then he starts, slowly, “I had a T-16 skyhopper back on Tatooine. I might have told you about it already. I bought it used, had to scrounge around Anchorhead to find all the parts, but I fixed it up myself—”

“Wait, never mind,” Bodhi says, ruefully, digging his toes into the sand again. “I—”

“You asked,” Luke points out, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “The first time I took it for a spin, I knew I couldn’t get out past the troposphere, but it didn’t matter. I was going somewhere, fast, and I was free—” Luke stops, and his eyes are bright. “I thought I could reach the stars.”

Bodhi’s lightheaded, his own eyes wide, and though his mouth has fallen open, nothing comes out. He thinks I’m—

It doesn't hurt.

He wouldn’t tell me if he didn’t really think I’m going to be okay.

“You’ll be back to it soon enough yourself,” Luke says, hurriedly. “Flying. You’ll be able to fly the Raptor out of here at the end of the week.” He takes Bodhi’s hand once more and twines their fingers together. “Okay? Does that help?”

Bodhi licks his lips, his heart lifting at the thought of flying again, even if it is only to go home and he won’t be able to—“What happened to it?”

Luke blinks. “Oh, I burned out the instrumentation, I didn’t get around to repairing it before—well, you know. But I could’ve gotten it back up and running again just fine if I’d had the time.”

Bodhi struggles to pull himself upright, grinning a little giddily, thinking, I’m his busted skyhopper—and Luke gets an arm around his shoulders to assist, continuing, “You would’ve liked it, Bodhi, it was faster than a little airspeeder like that had any right to be—” He breaks off as Bodhi touches his face with the tips of his fingers. “What?”

“Just—thanks,” Bodhi says, dizzily, and kisses him.

Luke sighs, like he’s been waiting, and kisses him back, fiercely. His hands curl around the back of Bodhi’s neck, fingers caressing his skin. “You’re going to be all right,” Luke murmurs, his tongue tracing syllables against Bodhi’s lips. “I can feel it.”

They stay tangled together like that for a while, Luke kissing Bodhi’s neck, his mouth, the faint lingering sweetness of the sihan peach commingling with salt when Luke’s tongue slides across his. Bodhi grows warm as the sun rises higher in the sky, with the feel of Luke’s hands and lips on him; warm and, bafflingly, sleepy again. He says so, and Luke chuckles into the side of his neck. “That’s okay. Go to sleep if you want. You’re healing.”

“I don’t want you to think we’re not going to have sex on this trip,” Bodhi murmurs, burrowing into the sand and closing his eyes.

“We’ve got a whole week,” Luke says, sprawling down on his stomach and draping an arm across Bodhi’s chest, mindful of his ribs. “Plenty of time for us to catch up to the others.”

Bodhi’s eyes pop open in surprise, and Luke snickers. “Go to sleep,” he repeats, and kisses Bodhi’s cheek.

*****

He jolts awake when a wave breaks over his calves. “Shit, the tide,” Bodhi yelps, scrambling backwards, wincing as he pulls too hard on his ribs, and colliding with—Kaytoo, looming over him. Luke is laughing, propping himself up on his elbows, letting the next wave soak him, shaking wet hair out of his eyes.

“I told you about the tide chart this morning,” Kaytoo says, reprovingly. “Not you, Bodhi. But I told Luke. I thought he would remember and keep you from drowning. Cassian remembered, but he thinks now is a perfectly good time to go for a swim.” He points, and Bodhi follows his finger out to Cassian’s dark head bobbing up and down in the waves. “I’m the lifeguard.”

Bodhi clambers to his feet. “You can’t swim,” he says. “You’ll sink before you can get to him.”

“I have a flotation device,” Kaytoo says, turning his head down towards his feet. It’s a bright pink rubber torus with a rope tied around it. “We found it in the house.”

“Is that for you or for Cassian?” Luke asks, getting up and stripping his soaked undershirt off over his head.

“It’s for children,” Kaytoo says. “But I guess Cassian expects me to throw it to him.” He looks at Bodhi and Luke curiously. “Are you going to swim, too? I only have one of these.”

“I can’t,” Luke says. “But you go on ahead, Bodhi—”

“I only have one—” Kaytoo says, exasperated.

Bodhi moves his arm in the pattern of a stroke in the air, and has to stop partway through when his chest flares with pain. “I’m not going in right now, Kaytoo, it’s all right, you watch out for Cassian. Where’s Jyn?”

“Jyn went for a walk around the island,” Kaytoo says. “She should be back in about eleven minutes, if she didn’t get swept out by the tide like you could have been.”

Luke leans over and whispers, “I don’t think Kaytoo likes the ocean very much.”

“I do not.” Kay swivels his head up to watch Cassian make the turn at the north end of the beach and start to swim back. “Aside from the salt corrosion, and the potential for drowning, it brings back bad memories of Scarif.”

“You weren’t even on the beach there,” Bodhi says, perplexed.

“It brings back other people’s bad memories of Scarif,” Kaytoo amends. “Oh. Is this on the list?” He glances down at Bodhi, who gapes at him in dismay.

“List? What list?” Luke asks.

“The ‘list of all the things you don’t want to talk about but you have to face,’” Kaytoo explains, helpfully. “That’s how Jyn said it.”

“I never made the list,” Bodhi says, hastily, because Luke’s looking at him like—like he’s that T-16 sitting dark and quiet in a garage somewhere, never to be flown again—“I was going to, back on Thila, but you came and talked to me, instead, and I never quite—Kaytoo, why the fuck did you have to go and mention that?”

I think of it as a list of repairs,” Kaytoo says to Luke, and Bodhi groans, dropping his head into his hand.

“Huh,” Luke says, thoughtfully.

“Okay, I lied,” Bodhi mutters. “I’m going to walk straight into the ocean—”

“Hey.” Luke rests a hand on his shoulder. “It’s not like I didn’t know there was stuff you didn’t want to talk about. I just didn’t realize—”

“There was enough to make a list out of?”

“It’s fine,” Luke insists. “You’re okay?”

“Yes,” Bodhi says, and glares at Kaytoo. “Come on, I’m going in the water after all. Jedi float, right?”

“I only have one flotation device and it’s for Cassian,” Kaytoo shouts after them.

Jedi float just fine, though Luke flails around a lot when he tries to stand up again and discovers he can’t touch the bottom anymore. Cassian swims past a couple more times, looking considerably more relaxed and happy than Bodhi thinks he’s ever seen his friend. And Bodhi doesn’t try to swim, not really; just kicks around the cove on his back, watching the avians swooping and diving like the squadron practicing maneuvers, occasionally making sure Luke hasn’t gone under.

Which he does, once, and comes spluttering back up to the surface almost immediately, looking delighted. “There’s fish,” Luke says, inanely, treading water next to Bodhi’s shoulder. “We should try to catch some.”

Bodhi snorts. “We both grew up in the desert. The closest I ever got to catching fish was looking at them in the aquarium.”

“The closest I ever got was prying fish fossils out of the canyons, but how hard can it be? They’re fish.” Luke splashes him.

Twenty minutes later, Jyn wanders past where they’re dangling their feet over some rocks on the southern end of the beach, messing around with sticks and string, and laughs at them. “Really? What, did you see fishing in a holo once?”

Luke grins broadly. “Yep.”

“This is going to be embarrassing for all of us,” she says, climbing up, and nudges Bodhi over so she can sit on a dry patch of rock. “Do you even have bait?

Luke holds up a wriggling little hermit crab hopefully, but Bodhi gives him a dismayed look, and he quickly lets it go again.

“Oh, for the love of—” Jyn rolls her eyes and pulls a ration bar out of her shirt pocket, breaking it into pieces for Luke to tie onto the string. Then she smirks at Bodhi. “You can’t even handle killin—”

No, shut up,” Bodhi says, kicking her leg.

“What’re you gonna do if you actually catch something?”

“Let it go?” Bodhi suggests.

“Aw,” Jyn says, and squeezes his arm. Then she suddenly squeezes a lot harder—

“Ow, dammit, Jyn, don’t break my arm, too—” Bodhi pokes her in the side, and she lets go, but she’s not looking at him, she’s looking at—

—Cassian, emerging from the water some distance up the beach, shirtless, soaking wet, his shorts plastered to his legs, his chest heaving slightly from his swim. He looks over and waves. “Close your mouth, you’re going to catch flies,” Bodhi says to Jyn, lightly, and Luke tries and utterly fails to conceal his smirk.

“That’ll be more’n you do,” Jyn retorts, watching Cassian strolling down to them, Kaytoo turning and going back to the house with the pink tube over his shoulder.

“That’s all right,” Bodhi says, but Luke claps him on the shoulder and shows him the primitive fishing pole he's assembled, complete with ration bar bait. Jyn smiles at them and jumps off the rocks again, landing more or less gracefully on the sand, and goes over to Cassian. Bodhi is slower to follow, letting Luke help him down, muttering curses at his useless left hand.

Cassian looks Bodhi over with a critical eye as they come up to him. “Swimming and rock climbing?”

“I'll take an extra painkiller,” Bodhi says, waving off Cassian's concern, though he's already regretting having done the latter; his chest burns. “There weren't any sticks down here.”

“Do you know anything about fishing?” Luke asks, and Cassian's mouth, which had been starting to curve down, abruptly twitches back up again.

“No,” he admits.

“Am I the only one who ever—” Jyn shakes her head at them.

“Apparently,” Cassian says, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. “Come tell us what we're doing wrong.”

Even with Jyn's all too amused instructions and corrections, they don't catch a single fish, although Sanctuary's marine life does seem to enjoy their ration bars. Jyn's pant legs get increasingly soaked no matter how high she tries to roll them up, and Bodhi wonders briefly if she'd brought anything more suited to the beach to wear.

“How are you feeling?” Cassian asks Bodhi, in a low voice, as Jyn surrenders the last bit of the ration bar to Luke's string.

“I'm okay, really,” Bodhi says. “It's nice here. Quiet. It'd be what I'd pick, if I was looking for a safe world. If I was a refugee.” He doesn't notice Cassian looking at him oddly for that. “I mean, I guess there are other safe worlds, they're probably fine, too, or we wouldn't send people there, right? Places just like this, or even nicer—nothing like the planets I scouted, we're not saying ‘sorry for your loss, go live on a shitty desert planet while we sort out the war—’” Bodhi halts, looking at Jyn and Luke and Cassian all staring at him.

“I told you he was doing better,” Luke says, happily.

*****

And—

Bodhi is.

—mostly.

Cassian easily cajoles him and Luke into helping cook dinner for everyone. Chirrut had somehow managed to catch a couple of fish, though he refuses to divulge his secret, and it’s not long before they’re all crammed in around the table, except for Kaytoo, who’s gone off to patrol the island even though it’s entirely unnecessary.

“Please don’t tell me there’s a smoking hole on the other side of the island with dead fish floating in it,” Bodhi mutters to Baze, around a mouthful of rice.

“I will not tell you that,” Baze replies, serenely, pouring tea and handing cups around. It’s chav; Bodhi has no idea where Baze would’ve found it, there hadn’t been any on Yavin IV or Thila. It smells familiar and strange all at once, and Bodhi tries to remember when he would’ve drank it last. When he’d been home, before the end.

He stares at the cup Baze puts in front of him. “Where did you get this?” It looks just like what he would’ve ordered in a tapcafe, if his mother had let him, as a boy, or if he’d done all right at the speeder races and could stand to spend a little.

“In a locker on the space station,” Baze says. “Chirrut used the Force to find it.”

“I did not,” Chirrut says. “I could smell it.”

“What is it?” Luke asks. “Some kind of tea?”

“Chav tea,” Baze says. “We used to get it at home, now and then, but it was hard to come by, during the occupation.”

“This is from—from Jedha?”

“Tarine, of course, you can get tarine tea anywhere,” Chirrut says, needling his husband.

“Because it’s awful,” Baze says. “And 非常便宜.”

Jyn huffs a laugh. “Made it easier to get.”

“You can barely call it tea,” Baze grumbles.

Chirrut says, “Some Imperial probably smuggled this offworld. Maybe a Jedhan, but maybe not. I didn’t recognize anyone on the space station.”

“How would you have known?” Luke asks.

“Same as how I knew where to find the tea,” Chirrut says. “It smells like Jedha. Like—”

Cassian says, “Bodhi.”

—and Bodhi jerks his head up, realizing he’s been staring into his cup, half-listening to his friends, thinking of home, and to his absolute horror, there are tears starting down his face. “I’m—I’m sorry. I’m—” Bodhi swallows, and swipes at his eyes, ducking his head so he won’t have to look at anyone. “I’m fine. Just—surprised me, that’s all.”

“All right,” Cassian says, skeptically.

Baze pats his shoulder, and mutters, apologetically, “There is more. Don’t worry about saving it. We want to share.”

But Bodhi drinks the chav slowly over the rest of dinner anyway, fighting off homesickness, trying to stay focused.

After dinner, though, Bodhi begs off of both meditating with Luke and the Guardians, or going for a night swim—float, really—with Jyn, though the sight of Kaytoo trudging after her with the pink rubber tube makes him laugh. He turns back to the house, intending to simply go bed, and Cassian is standing in the doorway, silhouetted in the light. “We need to talk,” Cassian says.

“Cassian—”

“I let it go on for as long as I did because I thought you were handling it, I’ve always thought you could. I know Luke is helping, Chirrut will help you again too, but—” Cassian sighs.

Cassian,” Bodhi says. “I had a good day. I didn’t panic, or—or black out, or shout at anyone, I just had a moment—it was an unpleasant surprise, right, but it wasn’t a—” He grimaces. “I’m tired. Can we please do this tomorrow?”

“We were all sitting right there,” Cassian says, louder. “I know Chirrut didn’t see it, but I was on Corellia, I was—I remember what your face looked like, and I—” He rubs his hand over his eyes. “It scared the hell out of me, Bodhi, and you almost did it again—

“I did not,” Bodhi shouts back at him. “Ask Luke. Ask him if I was going to go out again—he didn’t jump across the table to shake me, I was fine.” He shakes with fury, utterly beyond control. Words pour out of his mouth before he has a chance to figure out what they mean. “You’re so fucking protective of me now, huh? Where in blazes were you before? I know you knew Saw had me, and you—” His voice cracks. “Why didn’t you find me before he put that monster in my head?”

Cassian’s mouth is open. He closes it, looking appalled. “Bodhi—”

Bodhi pants for breath, trying to reel his scattered, angry thoughts back in. “Shit. I—Cassian—I didn’t mean—I don’t blame you. I—I’ve never blamed you. I—fuck.

“What monster?” Cassian asks, softly.

“Fucking hell,” Bodhi mutters, looking around nervously, expecting it to come slithering out of the darkness and take him down again.

But it doesn’t, and Luke doesn’t appear, either; he’s entirely on his own. He sways on his feet, though, and Cassian grabs his arm. “Sit. Talk.”

“Oh, you’re ordering me now?” Bodhi says, rudely, but he sits on the step next to Cassian, his shoulders hunched. Cassian is silent, rubbing his back, waiting him out. “Maybe I should make that list,” Bodhi mumbles, after a while.

“Maybe,” Cassian agrees. “Is the—monster at the top of it?”

“Yeah.” Bodhi’s shoulders slump, and he leans against Cassian. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“Shouting,” Bodhi says. “Seem to be doing that a lot lately.”

“Approximately forty-six percent of the time,” Cassian says.

Bodhi shakes his head. “That was combined shouting and crying.”

“That’s right. I forgot. It’s all right.” Cassian goes quiet again. Down the beach, Jyn quite audibly scoffs at something Kaytoo says, and then there’s the sounds of splashing. Bodhi has no idea where Luke’s gone off to; it doesn’t seem to be in the same spot as earlier in the day.

I told Luke about it, once.

It wasn’t so bad.

“Saw said his monster would know if I was lying,” Bodhi mutters. “He said I’d lose my mind. And—and I did. You helped me put it back together, most of the way, but some—sometimes I get lost in it, and I’m back on Jedha, in the cell, with—with it. Luke—” He can’t quite remember why he needs to tell Cassian this, but he’s certain he should. “Luke helped me find my way back from it, on Corellia, but it hurt. He promised he wouldn’t do it again. Not like that, with the Force.” Bodhi draws a breath. “There’s—I think there’s levels to it. The worst—after Saw—was when Seerdon had me. And everything after.”

Cassian chokes out, “Twice.”

“What?”

“You've been tortured twice.” Cassian's hands are shaking; he clasps them together in front of him as if he's trying to make the trembling stop. Bodhi blinks at him; he can see, by the light of the kitchen behind them, tears gleaming in his friend’s eyes.

“And you haven't?” Bodhi asks.

“I’ve been beaten, yes,” Cassian answers, regaining some semblance of calm. “But I never faced a mind probe, or a really skilled Imperial interrogator—and I have training for it. You—don’t.”

“I got on-the-job training?” Bodhi offers.

Cassian stares at him for a second, plainly horrified, and then he wraps an arm around his shoulders, brushing a kiss over his temple. “That’s—” He makes a soft, unintelligible sound, and then he just rests his head against Bodhi’s. “I should've asked you about this a long time ago. Write down the list, and we'll figure out how to help you get through the rest of it.”

“Coming here's helped,” Bodhi says, sincerely.

“Good.” Cassian squeezes him close. “I’m sorry, too. I don't want you to be in a bad place tonight because I worried about the way you looked for a second.”

Bodhi checks himself over mentally, staying out of the darker nooks and crannies of his mind, and comes up—clear. But there's another obvious indicator still absent: “Luke's not coming at you, so I think it’s probably—oh, wait, he is—” Cassian whips his head up, staring down towards the empty, starlit beach apprehensively, and Bodhi can’t hide his smirk, or stop the snicker which escapes out of his mouth.

“That's not funny, using your Jedi boyfriend against me,” Cassian says, slapping him on the shoulder. “Save that shit for your squadron, huh?” He's smiling, though, pulling Bodhi back to his feet and he thinks, for the second time that day, it's really going to be okay.

It’s only later, after he’s helped Cassian clear everything away and played one extremely odd game of sabacc with Kaytoo—who does cheat—when Bodhi turns on the light in the room he’s sharing with Luke, that he realizes he’s worn his sleeping clothes the entire day. Has been barefoot all day. It’s been years and years since he’d done that; he doesn’t quite remember where, though it must’ve been as a boy on Jedha, probably, running through the alleys.

There’s sparkling grains of sand stuck to his feet and legs, and caught in the hair on his arms. He pats himself down; there’s more sand in his hair, and salt, too—he gives up trying to get it out and goes straight to the ‘fresher to rinse it all off. Comes back and sprawls face down on their bed, puzzled at the sensation of nothing going on in his mind despite Cassian’s earlier worrying and the thought that he’ll have to finally make the list. Nothing except the feeling of being cool and clean and—

“Hi,” Luke says, from the doorway, sounding strangled.

naked.

Bodhi lifts his head from the pillows.

Luke is staring at him, lips parted. He clears his throat. “So you’re feeling—”

“All right,” Bodhi says. He thinks about it for a second. “But I could be convinced to feel better?”

Bodhi doesn’t think Luke uses the Force to get across the room that quickly, but he could be wrong. Luke’s on the bed and his clothes are on the floor, inside of another heartbeat, and then he’s touching Bodhi, rolling them together, his body still sun-warmed even though night’s fallen.

“Wait—I can’t—” Bodhi gasps, clenching his teeth against the warning flare in his ribs, trying to focus on the much more pleasant heat building in him elsewhere. “I can’t move a lot—”

“Oh, right, I’m sorry,” Luke says, gently pushing him down onto his back before diving in at his mouth again. Bodhi tangles his fingers in Luke’s hair and his tongue in Luke’s mouth. There’s sand everywhere, but it’s all right; the way it scrapes against his skin is a reminder that he’s here despite it all

—a muted snort of laughter from the doorway—

Luke pulls away for half a second, panting, waves his hand, and the door slams shut.

“I’ll have Kaytoo put you down for one,” Jyn calls through it, and a horrified laugh escapes Bodhi’s throat.

Luke’s blushing with embarrassment, but he smiles down at him, tucking wet strands of hair behind his ear. “You’re really okay? I felt something a little off, earlier, but you got through it pretty fast.”

“Yeah.” Bodhi reaches up and runs his good hand over Luke’s arm. Sand cascades down in rivulets, scattering like stars where it falls on his own brown skin. “I think we’re moving the beach into bed.”

“One grain at a time,” Luke agrees, balancing on one hand and sweeping the sand off of Bodhi’s chest in a gentle stroke. Bodhi groans, faintly, and Luke lightens his touch, looking concerned—

“My ribs are fine,” Bodhi says, quickly, and Luke’s eyebrows lift. “I’m fine,” he insists. Luke nods, and moves lower, brushing more sand off of Bodhi’s stomach, blowing a couple of grains out of his navel, glancing up to meet Bodhi’s eyes. “I’m fine —” Luke’s lips wrap around him, and he throws his right arm over his face and pants, and tries not to writhe or grab for Luke’s hair with his broken hand. “Luke, please—”

Luke stops for a second, pulling off, his mouth obscenely red, his eyes bluer than Sanctuary’s sky. “You’re still okay?”

“Oh, my stars, ” Bodhi moans, and Luke grins, but he doesn’t—“Yes, yes, I’m fine, I’m fine—” Luke bends his head back down—“It’s going to be—I’m fine—”

Luke crawls back up to him, after he’s done, looking amused. “You got through that pretty fast, too,” he says, and Bodhi smacks his arm, drowsily, mumbling something incoherent about pilots. Luke takes his hand, and kisses his fingers, holding on until Bodhi’s fallen asleep.

*****

Bodhi misses the sunrise in the morning, unable to force the tentacles out of his head, feeling like a broken regulator with cracked shielding, spilling radiation everywhere. He isn’t quite sure what he spits at Jyn, trying to make her go away, but she just crosses her arms and leans against the doorframe until he’s calmed down.

“For me, it was a cave,” Jyn says, sitting beside him on the bed as he pulls his knees up to his chest. “Where I hid on Lah’mu after my mother died.” Something like a laugh ekes its way out of her throat. “It was a hateful, dark place in my head for so long. Everything I thought I knew about my father, the people who’d left me behind or wronged me—I locked them away there. Letting the light in—that was Cassian, and you, and everyone who saw me as something different.”

She nudges him with a shoulder. “But I still wake up there sometimes. I don’t think I’ll ever be fully rid of it.”

“I don’t know if that’s actually all that helpful,” Bodhi murmurs.

“Well, I’m not all that good at this,” Jyn retorts, and Bodhi huffs a laugh. “Come on, you’re here, Luke’s not banging down the door to check on you, you’re doing fine. Get up and go—do something besides lie around with me, I’ve got things to do.”

“Like what?”

“Things,” she says, again, the briefest of smiles flickering over her lips, and Bodhi rolls his eyes and gets out of bed.

*****

Baze is swimming in the cove when he goes down to the beach; Chirrut is lying spread-eagled on the sand, grinning up at the sky, and completely—

“Oh—sorry,” Bodhi says, and backs away, covering his eyes and smothering helpless laughter. He’s a few meters away when he thinks better of it and yells, “Where’s Luke?”

“With Cassian,” Chirrut calls back. “Other side of the island.”

“Yeah, I bet,” Bodhi mutters under his breath.

The island isn’t very big; it takes about four minutes to find them. Luke’s sitting on a rock, stacking a pile of smaller stones on top of each other, looking oddly tense, while Cassian paces back and forth, his hands on his hips—

“Is this an interrogation?” Bodhi demands, out of breath from climbing up. He rubs his chest, wincing, and both Cassian and Luke look at him with concerned expressions. “I’m fine—Cassian, what—”

“We’re just getting some things cleared up,” Cassian says.

“No big deal,” Luke agrees. Bodhi clambers over the rocks to sit next to him, eyeing Cassian suspiciously.

“I’m going to go find Jyn,” Cassian says, awkwardly, jerking a thumb over his shoulder.

“Okay,” Bodhi says. “Uh, I’d stay off the beach?”

“Yeah.” Cassian waves an arm over his head as he starts down.

Bodhi leans back on his right hand and raises his eyebrows at Luke.

Luke blows out a breath. “He apologized for not telling me you were going to be on Thyferra, and then he asked me a bunch of questions about what ‘fucked-up Force thing’ I did to you on Corellia. But don’t worry about it,” Luke adds, putting an arm around him. “We also talked about Hoth, and what it’ll be like, since he grew up on Fest. How to handle the cold. But I don’t want to think about cold, it’s so warm here.” His hands are, too.

“I’ll keep you warm on Hoth,” Bodhi says, trying not to worry about it, as ordered, and then he mostly just tries not to fall off the rock, as Luke pounces on him.

*****

Kaytoo bumps into them coming out of the ‘fresher sometime in the afternoon and sighs. “Two?”

“Two,” Luke says, blushing.

Three,” Bodhi corrects him, and Luke blushes harder.

*****

Baze and Kaytoo build a bonfire on the beach, in the evening. Cassian and Jyn scuffle over how to best toast something called a marshmallow, Cassian ending up with smears of charcoal and sugar in his beard and Jyn in his lap, licking her fingers smugly. Chirrut beckons Luke away, up into the rocks, presumably to meditate.

“Happy?” Baze says, in Bodhi's ear, and he nearly drops his marshmallow into the fire.

“Baze—I thought Chirrut was the silent one—”

“I can be quiet,” Baze says, huffily.

“Evidently,” Bodhi says, and then, “I thought you'd gone to meditate with Luke.”

“Ah.” Baze smiles. “They’re not meditating.”

“They're not?”

Baze points up into the rocks. “They're fighting.”

“In the dark?” Bodhi struggles to his feet, straining to see them.

“Chirrut is always fighting in the dark.” Baze shrugs. “It is good practice, for Luke.”

“What's going on?” Cassian asks, looking up at Bodhi. Bodhi opens his mouth to answer, but Luke flips off of a rock, landing on one knee in the sand, dropping his stick, and Chirrut comes flying down after him like a mynock into the firelight.

“Training,” Baze says. Luke throws Bodhi a grin, and scrambles out of the way of Chirrut’s next blow, grabbing his own stick out of the sand.

“No showing off,” Chirrut calls to him, spinning and striking and bending in ways Bodhi could never manage, not even when his ribs were unbroken. “小妹妹, 來跟我們玩一玩.”

Baze snorts. “Now who is showing off?” Jyn's gotten to her feet, brushing sand off of her hands, eyes shining. Luke snaps his stick in half and tosses one of the pieces to her.

“Oh, this should be good,” Kaytoo says. Luke looks at Jyn, and she nods, and they charge at Chirrut on the same breath.

“When—?” Bodhi asks.

Cassian’s eyes are locked on Jyn's whirling, dodging form, mesmerized. “After he got out of the medcenter. Before Luke asked to train.”

Chirrut gracefully swerves out of Luke’s reach and ducks under Jyn’s wild swing, tapping his stick on the back of her knee. She goes down with a grunt and just lies panting in the sand for a second, before rolling out of Luke’s way and lunging up from her hands and knees to jab at Chirrut ineffectively.

“She does not come meditate,” Baze observes, under his breath. “But she is more at peace than you.”

Bodhi looks sideways at him. “I’m—trying.

“You should still come meditate with us again,” Baze says. “Even if you only fall asleep, it is good to practice. And it is a nice way to connect with the people who love you, being peaceful together.”

Bodhi almost jabs himself in the hand with his marshmallow stick. “You and Chirrut? Peaceful together?”

“When I am napping, it is peaceful.” Baze shrugs.

“Jyn, did you just try to kick sand in my face?” Chirrut calls, and laughs, knocking Luke flat  and pinning her with the end of his staff all in one smooth motion.

“Sorry,” she says. “Reflex. You okay?”

“Of course,” Chirrut says, sticking a hand out to pull her up—

—Luke leaps at him from behind, and Chirrut drops Jyn back to the ground and ducks Luke’s strike.

“You always try to surprise me,” Chirrut says, lashing out with a foot and catching Luke's ankle so he sprawls on the sand next to Jyn, who's sitting up and smiling over at Cassian.

“It'll work, someday!” Luke rolls to his feet, dusting himself off. “Are we done?”

“Go eat your marshmallow before Bodhi sets it on fire.” Chirrut crouches down next to Baze, clearly amused.

“What? Get your own,” Bodhi protests, flicking his stick away as Luke makes a grab for it. The marshmallow flies off the end and impacts on Kaytoo’s chest panel.

Hey,” Kaytoo says, plaintively.

Bodhi gapes at him for a second, and then starts to laugh. “I'm sorry, I'm sorry—you were worried about salt —”

“It's not funny,” Kaytoo says, petulantly, extending a finger to wipe it off.

“Don’t, Kay, you'll make it worse—” Cassian's grinning, though, and Jyn is covering her mouth with her hand. “Come on back to the house and I'll get you cleaned up.”

“Sorry, Cassian,” Bodhi says, starting to get to his feet.

“No, no, you stay, it'll just be a minute.” Cassian scoops up the bag of marshmallows and lobs it at him. “Make another one. But don't listen to Jyn, you'll burn it.”

Jyn rolls her eyes at him affectionately, and pops a marshmallow in her mouth.

“I like them better burnt,” Chirrut says to Baze.

Baze grunts. “Don't you start.”

“You should come to spar with us more often, Jyn,” Luke is saying. “We make a good team. We might even be able to defeat the venerable Master Îmwe together.”

“Venerable?” Chirrut pokes him with the end of his staff. “I am old, but not old enough to be venerable.

“Disreputable,” Baze grumbles. “I don't know why you keep saying you are old at all. I do not consider myself old. They are young.”

“Which makes you old,” Chirrut argues.

“You are young at heart,” Luke suggests, playfully.

“Oh, no.” Baze shakes his head. “There, we are all old now.”

Bodhi's been experimenting with multiple marshmallows on a stick, but he glances up, startled, at Luke’s crestfallen face. Chirrut slaps Baze on the shoulder. “Now what have you done? They're all quiet.”

“I am only saying—”

“Depressing shit,” Chirrut says. He pushes himself back up to his feet. “Well, come on, you've had plenty of chances to surprise me, and you're just sitting there licking your fingers?”

Bodhi snickers as Luke's eyes go wide, and he smears his sticky fingers on his shorts, glancing down at Jyn.

“I'm out,” she says, holding her hands up. “Go get him.” Chirrut grins, sprinting away into the darkness, practically disappearing, and Luke lets out a wild yell and chases after him.

Baze hmphs. “Well?”

Bodhi frowns, straining to see Luke running along the water’s edge. “Well what?” Then he remembers what Baze had asked when he'd first come down to the fire, and he stammers, “I—I think—”

“Close enough,” Baze says, and pats his shoulder.

*****

Sometime in the afternoon of the third day, taking a nap in his room:

“Bodhi. Bodhi. Wake up. It’s just a nightmare, it’s not real.” The hand on his shoulder—

“—Kaytoo?”

“That’s right, I’m Kaytooesso,” Kaytoo says. “Reprogrammed Imperial security droid.” He’s standing over Bodhi with the pink rubber tube slung over his arm. “You are Bodhi Rook. We are on Sanctuary, the Alliance safe world—”

“I know—all of that,” Bodhi mutters, rubbing his eyes. The nightmare, if that had been what it was, is fading fast; he has a vague memory of green eyes and a vicious frown. He shudders.

“—whose chief exports include foodstuffs and materials for your uniforms.” Kaytoo peers at him. “Did you know they make the uniforms out of seaweed?”

“That, I did not know,” Bodhi says. “What are you doing here?”

“Everyone else has had a turn to watch over you,” Kaytoo says. “I’m your friend too, I should get a turn. I can talk you out of panicking just as well as anyone else.” He sounds kind of put out. “Possibly better, since I can monitor your—”

“Physiological responses, right.” Bodhi nods at the pink tube. “What’s that for?”

Kaytoo turns his head and looks at it, as if he’d forgotten it was on his arm. “Oh. Oh.” He goes to the window. “CASSIAN, DON’T DROWN.” He looks down at Bodhi, who’s wincing and covering his ears. “I don’t think he will. I’ll stay here.”

“Okay,” Bodhi says, uncertainly.

“Do you want to—”

“Kaytoo, are you trying to be empathetic again?” Bodhi rolls over, slowly, and buries his face in the pillow. It smells like Luke. “Because it’s all right, you don’t have to do that. I can go back to sleep for a while.”

“You’re supposed to make the list,” Kaytoo says. “I was going to suggest that I could help. Since I won’t get upset if you get upset.” He leans in conspiratorially. “Luke is on the other side of the island.”

“This is a bit of a setup, isn’t it.”

Kaytoo says, “Yes,” and drops a blank datapad on his lap.

“Can I go to the ‘fresher first?”

Kaytoo considers it. “There is a sixty-seven percent chance you will try to escape out the window,” he says, doubtfully. “And a eighty-two percent chance you will injure yourself quite badly doing so, because your ribs are not fully healed. In case you had forgotten.”

“What if I swear I won’t try to go out the window?” Bodhi asks, his mouth quirking up.

“Then—yes, all right.” Kaytoo gestures him out.

When Bodhi comes back, not bothering to shower since he’ll probably end up in the ocean again, and Luke’s not there to help anyway, Kaytoo is still there, a looming dark shadow at the end of the bed. “You don’t wait around in the middle of Cassian and Jyn’s room like this, do you?” Bodhi asks, finding a shirt and pulling it on over his head. He sniffs the collar; it’s one of Luke’s. He shrugs and sits back down on the bed. “It’s a little creepy. Like the time you activated when I thought you were powered down.”

“I do not,” Kaytoo says, sounding offended. Then he pauses. “I did, once, when Cassian was away, and Jyn nearly shot me when she walked in the door.”

“That seems about right,” Bodhi says, sliding the datapad over to himself and switching it on. His mouth is dry. “I—don’t know where to start with this, Kay.”

“The beginning seems like the usual place,” Kaytoo observes, making the bed dip a bit as he sits down next to Bodhi. “Jedha? Your childhood? Cassian was six when he joined the Rebellion. He has a lot of memories that are hard to face.”

Bodhi looks up at him, wide-eyed. “Does Cassian talk about it?”

Kaytoo shakes his head. “I was present for almost every terrible thing Cassian has done or lived through. He doesn’t need to tell me about it.” He taps the corner of the datapad. “None of us were with you.”

“You were right next to me on Eadu,” Bodhi says. “In the co-pilot’s seat. When I shot those stormtroopers.”

“The first people you ever killed?”

“The only people I’ve ever killed,” Bodhi says. “Um. Directly.” He draws a shaky breath. “Everyone else—everyone else, on Jedha, on Alderaan—was because I was too late with Galen’s message.”

Kaytoo swivels his head down. “You think that? Still?”

Bodhi huffs a wry laugh. “Yes.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Kaytoo says.

“Well, thanks, Kaytoo, that’s very helpful.”

“Are you writing that down?”

“Uh—which part?” Bodhi rests his fingertips on the datapad.

“All of it?” Kaytoo suggests.

“That’s going to take a while,” Bodhi mutters, but he starts to type anyway, putting Saw’s fucking mindreading monster on the top.

“It probably has a name,” Kaytoo chides him.

Had,” Bodhi says. His hands shake. “It’s dead. I assume.” 

“Are you going to panic now?” Kaytoo asks.

Bodhi blinks. “I—no?”

“Well, that’s something,” Kaytoo says. “What’s next?”

It’s a shorter list than Bodhi expects it to be; Kaytoo edits it down even further to the monster, being captured, Jedha, and—

“Misplaced guilt?”

“What would you call it?”

“I had—five different things—you just erased them all,” Bodhi says, exasperated.

Kaytoo gestures dismissively. “They all fit under that category. You haven’t had any problem talking about most of those things lately anyway. Galen Erso? You named a ship after him. People talk to you about things that hurt all the time now, and you’re fine.”

“I yelled at Cassian,” Bodhi points out. “And Jyn. And Baze and Chirrut and—the squadron—”

“You're still hurt,” Kaytoo reminds him. “They know it's part of recovering. Do you think Cassian hasn't lashed out at me after a bad mission? Or at Jyn? And he loves her.”

His heart skips a beat. “What bad missions?”

“There were no bad missions,” Kaytoo says, hurriedly. “They were all—good. No problems.” Bodhi makes a face at him. “I’m not supposed to tell you about what went wrong,” Kaytoo amends.

“Oh, but I’m supposed to give up all my horrible secrets?” Bodhi taps Kaytoo’s arm with the datapad.

“Yes,” Kaytoo says, taking the datapad back and standing. “You can go now.”

Bodhi starts to say, sarcastically, “Thanks,” but then he looks up at Kaytoo, his eyes widening with the abrupt realization that—“You didn’t have to come on this trip at all—”

“What? No, I did, I’m going to—help—load supplies,” Kaytoo says. “Tomorrow. When we leave.” He tilts his head. “Stop looking at me like that. If you’re going to cry, I’m going to get Cassian—”

Bodhi rubs his hand over his mouth, and shakes his head, trembling. They’re all here because of me. “Thanks,” he says, softly, and means it.

Kaytoo closes his hand over Bodhi’s shoulder. “You’re welcome.”

*****

Luke’s lying next to him on the last morning before they have to go back to the spaceport and load up the Raptor, sunlight turning his hair and eyelashes to gold, refracting in the tiny grains of sand stuck to his cheekbones. Bodhi blinks, wondering why he’d woken up before Luke—and then he hears the light tapping on their door again. He gets out of bed, tugging half the sheet around him, and opens the door a crack to see Baze on the other side.

Baze peeks past him at Luke’s bare limbs. “That is what I thought,” he says, his eyes crinkling at the corners. “He can skip meditating with us if he is meditating with you.”

“Um,” Bodhi says, intelligently.

“You know. Listening to the body.” Baze grins.

“O—Okay, thanks,” Bodhi stammers, and closes the door in his face. Turns, and Luke is stretching and yawning, blinking sleepily at him.

“Was that—am I supposed to—”

Bodhi shakes his head, and gets back into bed, straightening the sheet over them. “Skip it.”

“You should come see the sunrise tomorrow,” Luke says, turning over and smiling at him. “There’s just the one, but it’s still pretty.”

“Two is better?” Bodhi traces his fingers lightly over Luke’s shoulder, making all the fine pale hairs on his arms stand up.

“Two is—hotter, I suppose,” Luke says, thoughtfully, sneaking a hand down to wrap around both of them. Bodhi tries to move and grunts in pain, and Luke halts, immediately, easing Bodhi onto his back and running his hands all over to check. “Sorry, sorry,” Luke murmurs. “Where are your painkillers?”

“Mood killers,” Bodhi mutters, but he points to the side table and Luke brings them to him along with some water.

“Maybe we should just stay in bed,” Luke says. “I’ll bring you breakfast.” He hops off the bed again and is out into the hallway before Bodhi can mention—

Luke, put your damn lightsaber away,” Jyn says, loudly, from the kitchen, and Luke is back, his face flaming red. Bodhi smothers his laughter in the pillow as he scrambles around for clothes, emerging more cautiously again a couple of minutes later. Bodhi lies back, listening to Jyn teasing Luke mercilessly, looking at the square of sunlight on the ceiling, feeling a bit like he’s floating, though it’s probably just the painkillers starting to take effect.

Luke returns with a hindian pear cut neatly into slices on a plate; Baze must be out in the kitchen, too. “Jyn ate the last peach,” Luke says, handing him the plate. “There’s more tea, though, if you want.”

Bodhi shakes his head and eats the pear, slowly, as Luke slips back under the sheet and snuggles up to his side. “So.”

“Yeah?” Bodhi says, turning carefully to put the empty plate down on the side table. He rolls back over, and Luke catches at his wrist—Bodhi holds his breath, looking into Luke’s eyes, confused, but Luke just shifts his grip so he can lick Bodhi’s fingers clean.

“Don’t—don’t do that,” Bodhi mutters. “You’ll put me right out again.”

“What—oh.” Luke drops his hand, staring at Bodhi’s scarred wrist. His face falls. “Stars, Bodhi. I’m so sorry. I wasn’t thinking—”

Bodhi licks his lips and says, quickly, “I mean, I don’t mind it that much, when you’re just—but I can’t control it.”

“Can I—try?” Luke holds out his hand, palm upturned, like he had on the Falcon, and Bodhi nods, and lets Luke close his thumb and middle finger in a circle around his right wrist, his thumb stroking gently over Bodhi’s scars. “Tell me when you need me to let go,” Luke says, and Bodhi nods and tries to keep breathing steadily, looking at the sand still crusted lightly on the back of Luke’s hand, the grease under his fingernails.

(—the—)

“Okay, okay, enough—” Bodhi says, his heartbeat too fast, and Luke lets go promptly, wrapping his arms around him and murmuring, “Stay here, it’s all right,” in his ear.

“Well, that’s definitely staying on the list,” Bodhi mutters, when he’s gotten his breathing back under control again.

“How often do you think you’re really going to have to deal with having your wrists bound, though?” Luke asks. “Keeping you out of Imperial custody is a high priority for me, you know.”

Bodhi splays his hands out to his sides. “Yeah, me too, but it was Yendor who fucked me up first, and there’s bounty hunters and all kinds of—” He sighs. “I’d rather not be trapped in my head while someone’s hauling me away.”

“I won’t let that happen,” Luke says, firmly.

“But—”

“No ‘buts,’” Luke says, and silences further protest with his mouth. And hands.

“I mean, I’m willing to let you keep trying,” Luke adds, a little while later, as Bodhi’s panting and trying desperately not to squirm under him for the sake of his ribs. “I could hold onto you right now?”

“Okay, yeah, do it,” Bodhi gasps, too aroused to think straight, and Luke pins his right wrist to the bed, over his head, not entirely gently. He struggles, and Luke eases off, everywhere, and he can’t hold back a whimper—“No, it’s fine, I’m—”

“Tell me when it’s too much,” Luke says, and although both his hands move back down onto his body, there’s still something keeping Bodhi’s wrist in place. Bodhi pulls against empty air, and Luke stops everything he’s doing just to watch his face, very carefully, and Bodhi moans softly and looks into Luke’s sunlit eyes. “I’ll let go whenever you tell me to,” Luke says, earnestly. His hands are resting on his thighs.

“I trust you,” Bodhi whispers, his eyes wide. He licks his lips and breathes; it’s better, not having anything actually touching his skin, he can handle it, he can, he can

“Hey, don’t go to sleep on me,” Luke murmurs, amused, and Bodhi’s eyes fly open; Luke is still kneeling between his legs, wrapping one hand loosely around him. “Comfortable?”

Bodhi—checks. “Yes,” he says, astonished.

“Not going to panic?” Luke asks.

Bodhi tugs, experimentally, and nothing—not a single awful thing— happens inside his head. “No.”

“Great,” Luke says, cheerfully, and twists his hand, and Bodhi cries out in utter, delirious shock as he comes.

He’s still shuddering with surprise and pleasure, as Luke resettles himself against the pillows, maneuvering Bodhi into his arms. “I guess that worked out pretty well,” Luke murmurs, kissing his neck.

“Better’n waking up out of it with Cassian and Jyn staring at me,” Bodhi mumbles, and Luke chuckles. “I think—I think, if it’s just the Force, and not anything I can feel, it’s not so bad.”

“Okay,” Luke says. “We can test it out some more, if you want. Not—in bed.”

“Mm. Later.” Bodhi burrows his face against Luke’s chest and lies still, watching the sun tracing shadows on the opposite wall. “Chirrut’s not going to lecture you about using the Force for that, is he?”

“Chirrut doesn’t really lecture me about anything,” Luke says. He strokes Bodhi’s hair gently. “He asks questions and makes suggestions. Unless we’re sparring. Then he mostly just laughs at me.”

“You still haven’t landed a hit on him?” Bodhi slides his right hand down between Luke’s legs.

“No—um—” Luke hisses out a breath. “I’m learning, I’m fast, but—he’s—” Luke throws his head back, his eyes wild, panting, and Bodhi grins. “Faster—”

*****

That afternoon, Luke successfully catches a fish, surprising himself, Bodhi, and, clearly, the fish.

Jyn takes a strangely long time to come down to the bonfire at night. Cassian keeps looking back to the house for her, in between checking to make sure the fish is grilled properly. Bodhi leans shoulder-to-shoulder with Luke, gazing up at the stars; Baze is making up constellations for Chirrut, drawing them in the sand with their intertwined fingers.

“—is not what a lightbow is shaped like,” Chirrut says, and smoothes the sand out under their hands. “You have forgotten.”

“It’s in our room,” Baze says. “I know what it looks like.”

“But you do not remember what it feels like,” Chirrut says.

“I see it, I think,” Luke murmurs. He points.

“I have no idea what I’m supposed to be looking at,” Bodhi says, trying to follow the path of Luke’s finger. “But there’s a lightsaber, over there—oh, and over there—”

“He is just drawing straight lines in the sky, isn’t he,” Chirrut says.

“Yes,” Baze replies, grinning at them. “Now, a lightbow—”

“You’re wrong,” Chirrut insists.

Luke snickers into Bodhi’s ear, kissing his cheek, and sketches a triangular shape in the air above them. “T-16.”

Bodhi shakes his head. “Lambda-class shuttle.”

Cassian grins and hands Bodhi a plate. “You can eat and stargaze—” and he cuts himself off, staring over Luke’s head.

Bodhi turns to look, and Jyn is strolling down from the house, wearing a sleeveless top and a long, flowing skirt tied around her waist, swinging a clear glass bottle in her hand. Her hair is down, and Cassian scrambles to his feet, gazing at her like none of the rest of them are sitting there. She grins, and drapes her bare arms around his neck, letting the bottle drop into Luke’s waiting hands.

“Please tell me that’s not—” Bodhi says, alarmed, as Luke pries the top off and the smell of it wafts to him.

“Yeah, Solo gave it to me. Said we all needed to get really fucking drunk at least once.” Jyn raises her eyebrows at him. “But that I should save it for when you were done brooding.”

“Oh, great,” Bodhi mutters.

“So are you? Done?”

Bodhi rubs his hand over his beard, and doesn’t answer right away, looking at Jyn with her arm around Cassian’s waist; Kaytoo poking an entire arm into the fire to retrieve something that’s fallen into the flames; Baze and Chirrut, arguing over the proper way to draw a lightbow.

And Luke, his eyes bright as the stars.

He feels that strange lightness in his heart again, like he’s about to lift off.

“For now,” Bodhi says, and reaches for the bottle.


Chapter Text

Bodhi heads straight to the Cadera the morning after they’re back from Sanctuary, at an early enough hour that there’s hardly anyone in the hangar bay to notice. The hold of his shuttle is scrupulously clean; it smells faintly of grease and at least one sweaty mechanic, but there’s no cloying tinge of bacta that he can detect. The rest of his belongings—the stuff Luke and Jyn and Cassian hadn’t moved into his new quarters, anyway—are exactly where he’d left them, including Wedge’s skifter, still tucked between the ‘fresher mirror and the bulkhead. He goes up and sits in the cockpit, running his good hand over the switches, flicking the comms on and off, wondering—

“Well, well, well, if it isn’t—”

Bodhi groans. “What do you want, Solo?” He turns, and the smuggler is leaning on one arm against the back of the co-pilot’s chair, smirking at him. Bodhi’s not sure if he’d simply failed to hear Solo coming, or if he’d slipped free of reality for a moment once more. He bites his lip and hopes it’s the former.

“You look better,” Solo says. “Less like a—” Bodhi holds up a warning finger at him. Solo shrugs a shoulder, and his smirk shifts into something kinder as he repeats, “You look better.”

“I'm glad you think so?” Bodhi mutters.

I'm glad, for Luke's sake.” Solo swings around and drops gracelessly into the seat. “Oh, don't give me those big sad eyes, I'm not trying to guilt you. Just relieved. You were making him—everybody—tense.”

“With all my brooding?” Bodhi asks, wryly.

Solo huffs a laugh. “Yeah.” He nods at Bodhi's hand, his still-immobilized fingers. “How long d’you have left before the doc lets you back at it?”

“It's not her who signs off on that,” Bodhi says.

“Who—?” Solo catches his expression. “Aw, hell, it's Draven's decision, isn't it.”

“I—he said I could handle supply runs, to the new base, but that was—that was before I blacked out in his office,” Bodhi says, a little startled that he’s admitting this to Solo. He examines his fingers, ducking his head from Solo’s alarmed look, and adds, sheepishly, “I don't know how to convince him I'm all right to fly.”

“Uh, we’re sitting in your ship right now,” Solo says. “Wait until you can, and then go—you know. Rogue.”

“Yes, perfect, that'll really demonstrate I'm stable enough to be trusted.” Bodhi fights the urge to put his head down on the console in frustration and close his eyes.

Solo nudges him lightly with an elbow. “Ah-ah, none of that.” Bodhi makes a rude gesture at him. “Nice. You touch Luke with that hand? Never mind, I don't need to know. Come on, kid, I've got just the thing to take your mind off your problems.”

“Jyn kept what was left of the bottle,” Bodhi says.

Solo sputters. “I'm not—is that—it’s six in the damn morning. No, come and help me and Chewie with the Falcon. Nothing you need both hands for.”

Bodhi eyes him suspiciously. “Did Luke put you up to this? Watching out for me?”

“Now why would you think that? Just 'cause they all went off to plan some new top secret mission to Onderon without us doesn't mean I'm here babysitting,” Solo says, getting to his feet. He thumps his fist on the headrest of the co-pilot’s chair. “Wasn't Luke, anyway.”

“Sure,” Bodhi says, skeptically. But he stands, too, and goes down the ramp after Solo, half-listening to his endless chatter and looking around at the other ships in the hangar.

Solo follows his gaze to the additional Y-wings docked alongside Rogue Squadron's X-wings. “Shandor Squadron, got in a couple nights ago.” He waves a hand and scoffs, “Y-wings. Won’t catch me in one of those.”

“Luke says they move like a sleepy Hutt,” Bodhi observes absently, looking at the individual ships’ modifications; there’s a two-seater among them, one of the very old models going back to the Clone Wars, with a gunner’s bubble turret between the main cockpit and the astromech socket. Another’s replaced the standard model thrusters on the detachable cockpit with Aurum thrusters, like maybe the pilot had a few bad experiences with ejecting.

“Maneuverability’s shit,” Solo agrees. “Speed, though. They could probably beat out your shuttle in a race.”

Bodhi spins on his heel, intending to snap defensively at him, but—Solo’s mouth is twitching up. “You’re trying to start something?”

Solo points at himself, loosely feigning innocence. “If I was gonna start something, I’d have said the opposite to a couple of the Shandor flyboys, and detailed the engine tweaks you and Luke worked so hard on together, and oh, let’s say, a few hundred credits would’ve changed hands—”

“Oh, come on, Solo,” Bodhi says, exasperated. He holds up his left hand emphatically and raises his eyebrows.

“Look, they said some shit about you and your ships, and I felt obliged—”

“—to throw me to the Danorian wolves,” Bodhi mutters. “I can’t—”

(He’d sat in the co-pilot’s seat in the Raptor after takeoff, and tried not to yelp at Luke about the difference between flying an empty cargo shuttle and one filled to capacity as they lurched towards space. Had been reluctant to reach for the controls, though Luke had encouraged him to try, because his head might’ve been better but his hand was not—)

But Bodhi glances back at the Cadera thoughtfully, now, and feels a faint, familiar thrill run down his spine, like when he’d bet on speeder races at home, or when Luke had sped faster than his father through the turns on Ord Ibanna. He takes a breath. “Okay, okay. End of the week. If I’m—if these work.” Bodhi tentatively flexes his fingers a little and looks up into Solo’s grinning face. “Fifty percent.”

Ha,” Solo says. “Thirty-five.”

“Forty-five,” Bodhi insists. “I might be going rogue for your bet, and Draven’ll kick my ass from here to Wild Space—”

Solo puts his hands on his hips. “Forty.”

Bodhi narrows his eyes, taking in Solo’s affront; there’s something halfway to insincerity about it. “How many other distractions are you planning to throw at me?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Solo says. “I’m just orchestrating a completely above-board race between some of the Rebellion’s most talented space jockeys, not including myself, while they’re between missions to save the galaxy—”

Bodhi sighs. “Okay, okay. Whoever’s gone and set me up for this, you can tell them I’m quite distracted now, thank you very much. Forty-three?”

‘Sure, kid,” Solo says. “You’re richer ‘n I am, but okay, fine, you can have forty-three percent of the take.”

“How am I —”

Solo claps him on the shoulder and nudges him along in the direction of the Falcon again. “You’re debt-free.”

Bodhi thinks that over for a while, as he attempts to get the Falcon’s computer to tell him something about why the hyperdrive isn’t functioning. He doesn’t owe the Empire anything for his years of schooling, so Solo’s right, there. But the thought of what he owes his homeworld, his people; what he owes his friends for everything they’ve done or tried to do for him—or Luke, no matter what he says—those debts can never—

“I can feel you brooding,” Solo says, from underneath the console. “Knock it off, or I’ll have to take you flying or something, and this ship’s not going anywhere until the hyperdrive’s fixed.”

“I’m not,” Bodhi lies, reflexively, but he realizes the computer’s display’s long since scrolled past the part he was supposed to be diagnosing. “The hell is wrong with your computer, Solo? It’s like talking to a Troig.”

“Yeah.” Solo’s voice is muffled. “Was hoping you might be able to talk the slicer droid brain around, it’s been having fits ever since we got back from Sullust.”

Bodhi looks down at Solo’s legs sticking out between the seats, feeling his face heating. “Blast, Solo, you’re—you’re—” His heartbeat quickens, and he can’t stop himself, his voice scraping, crescendoing—“You’re worse at this than everybody else—I’m supposed to talk to the messed-up droid brain because it’s like me? What kind of fucking joke—”

Solo sits up so fast he hits his head on the underside of the console. “Bodhi. Bodhi. Relax. I didn’t mean—look, you’re reading too much into every little—Wedge said you were jumping at shadows, but I didn’t—” He rubs his head, wincing. “I’m not trying to fuck with you. I swear. I’m barely trying to help. That’s Luke’s job.” He flashes a crooked smile, and that, remarkably, is what eases the frustration and pain in Bodhi’s chest. “He’ll tell you. I’m only ever in it for the money.”

Bodhi starts to open his mouth to respond, and Solo adds, hastily, propping a knee up and resting his forearm on it, “And no one’s paying me to watch after you, I honestly could use the hand here, sometimes the Falcon needs more help than me and Chewie can manage on our own.” He blows out a breath and rolls his eyes. “Not a metaphor for your situation either, don’t get any ideas about how much of a damn I give about you.”

—and Bodhi laughs, unexpectedly.

“What’s so funny?”

Bodhi shakes his head. “Just realizing I could definitely beat you at sabacc.” He settles back into the chair, trying to convince his heart to slow. It’s all right. I didn’t lose control. I didn’t—I wasn’t—

“Oh, yeah, likely story,” Solo says, getting to his feet, Bodhi's outburst already forgotten. He jerks his chin in the direction of the control panel. “Figure out that sad excuse for a slicer droid and I’ll play you after.”

But there isn’t time after; Leia and a Lieutenant Ematt call Solo and Chewbacca away—“Damn Shrikes think I’m some kind of leader,” Solo mutters, but he changes his jacket and brushes off his pants before leaving, much to Chewbacca’s amusement.

Bodhi follows them down into the hangar, and is instantly struck by the sense that he’s stepped out into a whirlwind, the kind that picked up speed and red dust as it careened across the desert before battering apart on the stone walls of the Holy City. Both Rogue and Shandor Squadrons are readying their ships; the ground crew’s calling back and forth to each other, and the sound of engines firing up echoes in his head like thunder. Kasan and Janson are bickering about something over her astromech’s swiveling dome, and Luke is—Luke is strolling up to Bodhi as if he hasn’t a care in the galaxy, dressed for flight, Artoo rolling along on his heels.

“Going out for a full drill with both squadrons,” he says, tilting his head and studying Bodhi’s face curiously. “I was hoping to train up on the new B-wings, but Admiral Ackbar’s not turning his pet project over to Rieekan just yet.”

“Oh,” Bodhi murmurs. Artoo offers a sardonic comment about how he’s just now started to get the T-65 the way he wants, but Luke doesn’t seem to catch it. “Have—have a good flight?”

“Thanks.” Luke beams and darts in to kiss him. “I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere.” He pauses. “I mean—”

“I know what you mean,” Bodhi says, looking down at where he’s unconsciously tangled his good fingers around the straps on Luke’s flightsuit. He lets go. “I’m okay.”

“We won’t be far,” Luke says, earnestly, and squeezes his arm. Wedge yells Luke’s name over the din, and Luke kisses Bodhi again before running off to his X-wing.

Artoo swivels his photoreceptor to point at Bodhi and chirrups that Luke is happy again, and that even though it’s not right to have been left behind when someone else—Kaytoo, Bodhi figures—got to go to the safe world

“Sorry,” Bodhi says, baffled—

whatever happened there—and Bodhi is both dismayed and impressed by just how much salaciousness an astromech can convey in a series of whistles and beeps—you should do more of it—

“Uh—”

you nerve burner, Artoo finishes.

“Artoo, are you coming?” Luke calls. He’s already halfway up the ladder into his X-wing.

“You know, that’s really not a very nice thing to call someone,” Bodhi says, and Artoo lets out a soft blat before wheeling about and rolling away.

Bodhi hangs around until Luke and the rest of the Rogues have taken off, watching the glow of the X-wings’ engines against the darkness, feeling more than a little wistful. Deciding to fly for Solo’s silly bet had been an equally silly impulse, but standing between all of his—his—ships, it’s a spark that’s starting to catch.

“But you are supposed to be recovering,” Baze mutters, doubtfully, when he mentions it once Chirrut’s decided apparently there’s no getting Bodhi into the right state of mind for quiet meditation in his quarters. “Not pushing yourself harder and harder while you heal.”

“He’s not coming with us to Onderon,” Chirrut says, from the floor, where he’s folded himself up into a meditation pose. “Isn’t that taking it easy enough?”

Bodhi leans forward on the edge of his bunk, resting his elbows on his knees. “What’s on Onderon?”

“Jyn will explain it all to you,” Chirrut says, waving a hand.

“Chirrut doesn’t listen to everything that is said in planning meetings,” Baze explains, in an undertone. “He expects the Force to show him his path when we get there.”

“I do not expect direction from the Force.” Chirrut crosses his arms. “I listen more than you think, Baze.”

“I was not being quiet,” Baze says. He turns his gaze back on Bodhi. “We are going to meet the Onderon underground. Jyn has been trying to make contact with them ever since Sullust. They would not listen until someone let it slip that we had worked with Saw Gerrera.”

Bodhi’s heart misses a beat. “What?”

“For a short time only,” Chirrut says. He holds his hand out, palm up, like an offering, his black sleeve falling down his arm. “It was what they wanted to hear. The heroes of the Rebellion working with their once-favored son. Especially Jyn, they are very interested in Jyn.”

“She will probably get a promotion if the mission is successful,” Baze muses.

Bodhi is struggling to keep up. “You worked with Saw? When—no, no, why?”

“He hoped to free our home,” Baze says. “And destroy the Empire.” He looks carefully at Bodhi’s face. “He—”

“Tortured me.” Bodhi clenches his good hand into a fist on his thigh.

“We did not agree with his methods,” Chirrut says, delicately.

Great,” Bodhi says, glancing around his quarters in nervous anticipation. But nothing comes for him out of the shadows; nothing tastes like sand or blood in his mouth. “Okay, okay—” He licks his lips. “Tell me about the mission.”

Baze visibly relaxes. “The underground is in charge of crashing the Imperial sensor net,” he says. “Kaytoo projects that he can get us on the planet in eleven minutes.”

“Eleven minutes? But—the longest the sensor net would be down before backups come online is twelve,” Bodhi protests. He swallows. “Maybe—maybe I should request to go with you?”

“Jyn asked on your behalf,” Chirrut puts in. “But Draven said he did not think you would be—ready.”

“But my ship is,” Bodhi mutters, plaintively. “What if—if I can prove I'm faster than Kaytoo’s projection?”

“By racing Shandor Squadron?” Baze asks.

“Yeah,” Bodhi says, warming to the idea.

I can—

I think?

Chirrut hmms softly, and says to Baze, “我相信—”

“你一直就說—”

Chirrut elbows Baze in the side, but Baze doesn’t budge a millimeter. “我相信他可以.”

“Maybe. 不是我們的決定.” Baze shrugs. “We are going to take down Onderon’s shield. Then Luke will come, with the squadrons, to attack Jyrenne Base. Destroying the ordnance center will keep the Imperials from supplying Airon sector.” He sounds a little like one of the generals, or like Leia, and Bodhi wonders why the Guardians still haven’t accepted commissions.

“Oh,” Bodhi says. “And then you’ll stay and help the underground movement, like on Gerrard V?”

“No,” Chirrut says. “There is too much to do now. We will be needed elsewhere.”

*****

Draven tells Bodhi the same, when he proposes himself as the pilot for the Onderon mission: “You’re needed elsewhere. After you’re ready.”

“I’ll be ready by the time they are,” Bodhi tries, but Draven lifts an eyebrow, and he slumps back in the chair.

“And—don’t think I haven’t gotten wind of Solo’s little game,” Draven adds. “So if you were hoping to demonstrate your readiness to me through that exercise, I’ll just send you over to Alliance Support Services that much sooner.” His mouth quirks up at Bodhi’s surprised expression. “I am a spy, you know.”

“I can help them,” Bodhi says, softly, setting that aside for the moment. “I—it’s just dropping them off—I’d stay with the ship and monitor Imperial frequencies?”

“I thought there was a time when you were all right with transport duty,” Draven replies. “Just so you could fly, Lieutenant.” His tone brooks little resistance.

“Yes, sir,” Bodhi murmurs. He looks down at his hands in his lap.

“If you are ready sooner than anticipated,” Draven says, relenting a little, “There’s a run scheduled out to Vulpter towards the end of the week.”

Bodhi blinks. “That’s—the Deep Core—what about the hyperspace security net? If I don’t have the right codes—”

Spies, Bodhi,” Draven says, amused. “There’s a hole in the net that some of Solo’s even less reputable friends use. It’ll be in your Raptor’s navicomputer if you go.” He stops leaning against his desk and walks around behind it, tapping his console to wake it up, but he looks at Bodhi sidelong. “Vulpter’s safer for you.”

Bodhi grimaces, and tries hard to keep his voice even. “With all due respect, sir, the last time you said that I ended up like this.” He holds up his left hand and wiggles his fingers the tiniest fraction. They don’t hurt, thankfully.

Draven raises an eyebrow and says, dry as Jedha’s desert, “Well, don’t let it happen again.”

*****

“Vulpter’s where Kaytoo was built,” Bodhi says, later, feeling like Draven's right, that he does only want to fly, that it doesn't matter where, or with whom. They’re atop the closed portside S-foil of Luke’s X-wing, and Bodhi is lying with his head in Luke’s lap while he reviews a datapad on Shandor Squadron’s performance. Artoo, in his socket, is burbling softly to himself, or possibly the X-wing’s computer. “Before they got cut off from the galaxy last year by the security net and turned into a safe world.”  

“I wonder if we’ve been supplying them all this time,” Luke says. He scrolls down a bit.

“Someone must’ve been.” Bodhi reaches up and tilts the datapad a couple degrees so he can keep reading, too. “Shandor Three’s starboard thruster keeps misfiring like that and she’s going to miss a turn and crash.”

Luke catches Bodhi’s hand and lifts it to his lips absently. “S’ok. I’ll make sure it gets taken care of. How many people live on Vulpter?”

“Four hundred million or so,” Bodhi says. “Mostly Vulptereen—oh, there was a podracer that was Vulptereen. Bolt somebody, good enough to be famous, not good enough to beat your father.”

Luke looks down at him and smiles. “Of course not,” he says, proudly. “D’you think there’s a course there?”

“I don’t know.” Bodhi thinks. “Can’t remember. If there is, maybe we could check it out together when you get back?”

“I’d like that,” Luke says, and is turning back to his datapad when the S-foil underneath them suddenly tilts—“Artoo!”

Bodhi yelps and clutches futilely at the pant leg of Luke’s flightsuit, falling away down the opening wing. Wide-eyed, Bodhi braces for collision with the curve of the engine, protecting his ribs, but Luke launches himself forward mid-slide and tumbles over and below Bodhi, holding one hand out to catch him. The S-foil locks into place with a jolt, and something grabs Bodhi by the waist, slowing his descent, and Bodhi realizes as he drops the rest of the way into Luke’s arms that he hadn’t been preparing to catch him one-handed—

“You’re getting a lot better at this Force stuff,” Bodhi pants, and Luke laughs, low in his ear, before sitting up and easing Bodhi off him carefully.

“It just happens.” Luke runs his hands up under Bodhi’s jacket and skimming along his ribs lightly. “You’re all right?”

Bodhi winces as Luke brushes over a tender spot, but it doesn’t hurt nearly as badly as he fears. “Yeah, yeah— Artoo, what the fuck—” He stares at the droid, who’s trilling that he’d forgotten they were up there—

“You better have forgotten,” Luke says to him, curtly. “You could have really hurt Bodhi—” Artoo whistles in alarm and apology, and Bodhi thinks he’s being sincere.

“I’m all right,” Bodhi says, to both of them, and Luke sighs in relief, putting his arms around him. Below, Wedge and Kasan are running over, and Luke shouts down, “We’re fine, it was an accident.”

Wedge calls back, “You believe me now?” and Bodhi laughs, and starts to climb down to them.

*****

Bodhi doesn’t race Shandor Squadron before they leave for Onderon; Kaytoo insists he shouldn’t do anything to the Cadera that might affect, well, anything about the mission. But before the week is over, Yraka’Nes agrees his hand is much improved, and gives him a number of exercises to do to make sure he’ll be all right to take the Raptor out on the supply run.

Which almost doesn’t matter anyway, because Draven casually informs him that Laren Joma’s assigned to pilot the run alongside him, and even though it’s his ship, she’s not coming off of injuries and torture and the whole host of other problems stil