Hi all! I hope everyone is safe and well, where ever you might be, in these difficult times. I wrote this little short after finishing the Mandalorian (finally) in Lockdown, and I wanted to share it with whomever wishes to read.
Please stay safe and well, and may we all meet again soon.
The Mandalorian seldom remembered his parents, at least, not beyond that fateful day.
He felt it should have bugged him knowing this, and yet he had gone many years believing he did not have room left in his heart to grieve for them. He had lived that way for many years now, desperate to block the one memory that now defined him, willing to forget the sacrifice they made in his honour. They had died in exchange for his life, therefore for him to mope in their absence seemed like an insult. He did not allow himself to wonder if they would have been proud of him, dared not think of what they would have thought of him becoming a bounty hunter. He couldn't. So, in order to not think such thoughts, he chose to try and forget them all together.
And yet, on that day that had seemed boringly normal, things began to change when he found the kid. His mother's screams began to bleed through the cracks of his memory, his father's gaze flickering in and out of focus in his mind's eye. It had daunted him when it had begun, and it was in those moments he was thankful to his helmet. Freezing like that annoyed him as the memories of that day flashed before him, bringing back the emotions he had so desperately tried to forget. His heart would race in time with the pounding of the blood in his ears, the cry of his mother splitting his skull, the fear in his father's eyes shattering all hope. He had only been a boy, and that was a memory that should have broken him.
But it didn't. When the memories consumed him in those recent days, Din Djarin simply held his breath and waited for them to pass. At first he had tried to ignore the images, but it did not take long for himt to look and to embrace them. Finally, he could remember the colour of his mother's hair, and could see the strong jawline of his father that Din himself now mirrored. He remembered their faces, dismayed that he could not see beyond their terror, but it was enough.
And it was now that he began to think of the kid, the Child that was now as good as his own. They were on their journey into the unknown, hopeful of finding the Child's own kind as instructed by the Armorer. The Mandalorian did not know where to go from here, and simply hoped that fate would guide them, but for now, it was just him and the kid.
He had never considered a life with children. Why would he? He was a bounty hunter living a life walking a sphere, destined to repeat the same jobs only the players were different, and the journey was to never end. But it did. This was the first time he had played beyond the book, which was already rough around the edges, and honestly, it was exhilarating. And it was because of one strange, little green alien.
He would never forget when he found him, and the strange emotions that grabbed at him. The Child had not made a sound, not one, yet his eyes had swam with many emotions. Curiosity was the most prominent, though. His large eyes twinkled with it, his ears alert as he took in the Mandalorian, who should have been his captor yet would soon turn protector. It was like the kid had known, though Din would never know. It didn't matter, for that one meeting brought him to where he was now, and he didn't have a single regret.
Well, there was one regret, and it had been bothering Din ever since he thought he was going to die. If he had died, the kid would have had even less of him to remember (that's if he even did remember things), just a mask without a face to picture behind it. It was an odd thing, really. Din remembered his family in the worst of circumstances, but at least he remembered. However, he did not remember his savior, for their helmet blended in with the others. He would never know what they looked like, and that had bothered him for the longest time.
If he had died, would the kid have remembered him, or would he have blended in with all the other mask-bearing beings of this galaxy?
The Mandalorian sighed heavily, relaxing his head back into the seat. The kid had been quiet for some time, yet when he looked back to check, he stared straight into those huge, innocent eyes of his. They were quizzical, asking him a question that words could not form, and the realisation made Din actually chuckle. Are you alright? The kid was asking. A Child, who's life was wanted by many, who's life was constantly in danger, was asking if a bounty hunter was okay.
"I'm fine, little one." Din assured the kid, who chirped back at him. "It's not me you should be worried about." Din retorted, unable to stop the grin hidden behind his helmet. This creature had surprised him so many times, had taken hold of everything he knew and thrown it out the window without even realising it, and yet he continued to surprise him. Now he was arguing with a creature who found no words.
A little frown passed over the kid's face as he nibbled on Din's, no, his mythosaur necklace, as if he were telling Din, stop lying to me.
"You infuriate me, you know that, you little Womp Rat?" Din said, though there was no malice behind his words, only endearment. The Child yapped back at him, pointing accusingly, and Din chuckled. Stubborn little thing, he'd give him that.
The Mandalorian got out of his chair, stretching his arms above his head as he stretched his aching muscles. He had gone through so much, all for a creature he had no idea what to do with, yet he found the pain was more than worth it. The Child brought out the best in him, and he had absolutely no idea how to repay him. Did he need to? He felt he did. The Child was important for reasons unknown, so important that people were willing to give their life for him, the way Kuiil had, the way Din would. Was it the innocence? No. It was the caring, the need to help others when it tired him so much, and it was admirable in the eyes of a warrior with so much more experience in the hardships of life. The Child had saved the life of his bounty, had saved the life of his enemy. If his kind truly were the enemy, Din would see to it that the kid would never be his enemy.
Din turned to the little creature, who watched him knowingly as he nibbled the sigil. Slowly, Din lowered himself so that their faces were level, and the Child immediately spat out the sigil. His ears twitched warily, his eyes wide and questening. Behind the helmet, Din was smiling softly, though his heart was beginning to hammer in his chest. He remembered his parents, remembered his savior, and it was those images that drove him forward now.
"I don't think you know how important you are." Din told him, his voice soft. "Hell, I know I don't. But you do things to people, some things bad, but most things good. I don't think you understand just how special you are."
The Child made small, confused sounds as he reached up, gently touching the helmet he had grown so used to looking at. The touch was enough to startle Din, the contact almost the same as him touching skin. He sighed, gently taking the kid's hands and pushing them back.
"I barely remember my parents. I see only the bad stuff, and when a Mandalorian saved my life, I never saw their face. I don't want the same for you." Din paused, deliberating. "Things are different now. If I wasn't to make it," the Child chirped, his eyes disagreeing as he frowned. "Hey, I'm serious. If I wasn't to make it to the end of this with you, whatever the end may be, I want you to carry a memory better than the ones I have."
He leaned back, every instinct in his body pleading with him not to do what he was about to. But things were different. He had already broken so many rules, done so many wrongs in the hope of making a right, so what was one more? He didn't need to prove anything to anyone anymore; he only needed to prove his worth to himself and the kid.
Carefully but quickly, so as not to chicken out, he lifted the helmet from his head, placing it on the ground at his feet. The air cooled his face, and suddenly he felt exposed and helpless. For an absurd moment, he thought the kid would reject him, or recoil in disgust. He needed the kid to see him for who he was; a boy who became a man, nothing more and nothing less. He needed the kid to remember him as behind the human he was, and not the ruthless bounty he used to be.
But the Child stared, completely awed by what he saw before him. Slowly, he reached forward once more, his little hands touching the tip of Din's nose. He made little noises as he began to trace the features of Din's face, using both hands now as he explored. He pinched his cheek, pushed on his chin, and carefully traced the shape of his eyes. Din smiled the whole time, his heart warming, and it was as if he was seeing the Child for the first time. It was as if he were seeing his own child for the first time.
"This is me, kid," Din told him, poking his little nose. "The man behind the Mandalorian. If I were to lose the battle in protecting you, I want you to remember this face and not the helmet. Understood?"
At that, the Child's features brightened into a grin. He tugged on a lock of hair, laughing as he did, and Din found himself grinning right back. It was a relief, just to have the kid finally see him for who he really was. He would be happy to never show his face again after this, not even a glimpse, if it meant that this memory would beam brighter than any other. And that was what he would do. He would never take the helmet off in front of anyone ever again, for the most important being in his life at that moment knew the truth. No one else needed to know.
He didn't miss the disappointment on the Child's face when the helmet went back on a few minutes later, but Din knew it was enough proof for the kid to know just how important he was. So long as he carried that knowledge, Din would be able to protect him with a lighter conscience. He didn't know what the future held for the both of them, but it didn't matter. Din Djarin would protect the Child with his life, just as he knew many others would.
In that moment, knowing that the kid's last memory of his face would be a happy one, meant that Din knew he would die a happier man. It was enough.