This is the second story in a series. If you're interested in seeing the other parts of the series, please look at the other Clone Wars stories in my works.
They planned to meet in a bar. Din thought that was a strange place to meet a Jedi, but he supposed secret temples or mystic caves might not always be convenient. He scanned the dank pub, leaving his inspection of the agreed-upon booth for last. A hooded woman already sat in the booth, her back to the corner giving her a view of the entire room. The hood obscured her face, but he could tell from the distinctive silhouette that she was togruta.
He strode over to the woman and slid smoothly into the booth, leaning back and resting his arm confidently over the back of the seat. "I heard you can help me."
"That depends," the togruta woman said, her ochre features tense and uncompromising. "What do you need from me, and what can you do for me?"
Din's eyes narrowed. If this woman really was a Jedi, she wasn't really fitting in with their reputation as serene monks. Was this the kind of person he wanted teaching the kid? Din wasn't much better, to be fair, but that's part of why he was looking for the kid's people in the first place.
"I've got this kid, and he's got unique abilities. I don't know how to help him develop them, and I heard you could help," Din said.
"What are you looking for in return?" Din asked.
The togruta leaned forward in the booth, her fingers interlocking in front of her on the table. The motion revealed more of her face, and Din estimated her to be in her early forties, though he'd never been great at estimating togruta age. Now that he had a better look at her, he had to revise his earlier estimation of her demeanor. She may not possess the unflappable serenity he was expecting, but there was definitely something… unique about her. There was a depth to her eyes and a weight to her presence that spoke of pain, experience, and wisdom. In many ways that was more what he would want for the kid than what his picture of a perfect Jedi could provide.
"This child…" she said, "I heard he has a special talent for healing."
Was that unusual? Din had no idea what Jedi abilities or training included. What if what the kid did wasn't even related to the Jedi?
"Yeah. He does," Din said.
The woman's white facial markings furrowed as she considered. "Can I see him?"
"Will you help?"
"I'm considering it, but I can't commit before I see him."
Din huffed under his helmet, annoyed but unsurprised. He stood from the booth. "Fine. Come on."
The togruta woman followed Din out of the cantina and to the docking bay where his ship was docked. She didn't hesitate to follow him up the ramp and into the Razor Crest, and seemed unsurprised at the sight of the kid's floating pram in the living quarters. When Din opened the pram to reveal the sleeping child, though, she gasped.
"This… This is… Where did you find this child?" she asked.
"He was a bounty. The Imps wanted him for experiments or... something else."
Her blue eyes were wide in awe, an expression that seemed foreign to her face. "And you said he can heal?"
"Yes. He's healed multiple fatal wounds."
The togruta woman stared at the child for a long moment, and Din resisted the urge to fidget. Was she going to help him or not? What was so unusual about the child? He'd assumed that the child's abilities were normal Jedi fare, but maybe he'd been wrong. He'd never even heard of the Jedi a year ago, after all.
"I can help him, if he heals my friend," she said.
Din frowned, though the woman couldn't see it under his helmet. It was a relatively simple request, and one he'd be happy to agree to if he could guarantee it would happen. He didn't know if the kid could heal on command or what the limits of his abilities were. Hell, Din didn't even know if he'd be able to communicate the request to the little guy.
"The kid doesn't always understand me, and I don't know exactly what's wrong with your friend. It might not work," he said.
"I understand. As long as we try, I'll do it," the togruta woman said. She turned to Din, her jaw set in determination. She held her hand out to Din, and he shook it.
"You've got a deal," Din said.
"My name is Ahsoka Tano," she said, still holding his hand.
Din hesitated a moment. If he was going to entrust the kid to this woman, he should at least be able to trust her with his name.
Ahsoka Tano knew a surprising amount about Mandalorian culture, Din discovered during their several-day journey to the system her friend lived in.
"Death Watch, eh? That must have been an interesting childhood," she said, leaning back on her makeshift bench in the Razor Crest's miniscule living quarters.
The child babbled happily in his pram next to her while Din kept careful watch from across the small space.
Din shrugged. "I guess so. Don't remember much of any other kind of childhood."
"Well, organizations change, don't they?" Ahsoka said, tossing a stray arc wrench up in the air and catching it as she talked. "When I first ran into Death Watch they were terrorists trying to kill me, but by the end of the Clone Wars I'd allied with some of them to take back Mandalore."
"You were involved in the Siege of Mandalore?"
"Yeah, me and Bo-Katan Kryze spearheaded it."
Din's head spun at the realization that he was sitting across from a piece of Mandalorian history, and he was thankful he had this helmet to disguise his surprise. "I'd never heard that Jedi were involved. I thought Mandalorians and Jedi were enemies."
"Like I said, organizations change. The Jedi and the Mandalorians have a long and complicated history, much of it contentious. But during the siege we were allies. And I wasn't a Jedi anymore by then."
Din started. "Wait… You're not a Jedi? Then how are you going to help the kid?"
Ahsoka crossed her arms and shot him a long-suffering look. "Being able to use the Force and being a Jedi are two different things. I can still teach the child. And besides, I may not be a Jedi anymore but I was trained as one. If that's what the child wants, I can set him down the right path."
As if to emphasize her point, she tossed the arc wrench up again, then kept it levitating in the air with a casually outstretched hand. She floated the coupling over to the child's pram and lowered it gently into his lap and he burbled in excitement. Din frowned.
"Whatever we do we're going to need to make plans for his future," Ahsoka continued. "His species live a very long time, and I'll die before he's ready to be off on his own."
Din nodded. "Yeah I figured that."
It irked him to think it, but Din knew he should probably leave all that to Ahsoka. He wanted to get to know her better, to make sure she was capable of caring for the child, but he already had to admit she seemed much better equipped to meet the child's needs than he was. Din was a bounty hunter, a man raised on violence and struggle, and if he tried to raise this kid himself, he knew he'd screw it up. The kid would be better off without him.
"How come you need the kid to heal your friend?" Din asked, searching for a change of subject. "Isn't healing also some kind of Jedi skill?"
"It is," Ahsoka said thoughtfully. "But it's one of the rarer ones. Very few people have a gift for it, and on top of that this child happens to be of a race uniquely powerful in the Force."
"Really?" Din said, looking down at the small, green-skinned, bat-eared creature with a raised eyebrow.
Ahsoka nodded, smiling. "Yes. The most powerful member of the Jedi Council during the Clone Wars was the same race. I've never met someone stronger in the Force."
"So you can't heal your friend yourself?"
"I couldn't even heal a skinned knee," Ahsoka said wryly.
The kid lifted his tiny tri-clawed hand and floated the arc wrench back over to Ahsoka, who accepted it floating over her own hand and smiled indulgently back at the child. The two of them started a strange game of hover catch, and Din silently watched. She seemed good with the kid. Gentle but no-nonsense. And she obviously possessed some of the same skills the child had—she'd be able to help the kid with things Din couldn't even begin to approach.
"What's his name?" Ahsoka asked, eyes still on the wrench that floated between herself and the pram.
"I don't know," Din said.
"So what do you call him?"
Ahsoka snorted. "Really? You said you've been with him a year already. You haven't thought of something better to call him?"
Din didn't answer. He was the kid's father, according to The Way, but he viewed it as a temporary guardianship. He was looking for the kid's "people"—whether that meant his race or those with similar abilities—and once he found the right person that guardianship would pass to them. Naming the kid felt like something his permanent parent should do. Din wasn't cut out to raise the kid. The galaxy had conspired to make him a stranger to warmth, peace, comfort—all things he felt instinctively this child needed. He could protect him for a while, but he wasn't worthy to be the kid's father. He wasn't worthy to give him a name.
Ahsoka walked over to the pram and knelt in front of the kid, nuzzling his tiny nose with hers.
"You should have a name, shouldn't you?" she said in a gushing, tender voice. The kid giggled.
"You can't rush something like that," Din said. "Don't want to pick the wrong name."
Ahsoka stood and nodded in his direction. "I can certainly agree with that."
After a few days they arrived on Kamino, a water-covered land beyond the Outer Rim that Din had never heard of before. They entered the lower atmosphere and flew over a vast expanse of blue water towards the coordinates Ahsoka provided, and Din wondered what their final destination might look like.
"How did your friend decide to live here?" he asked.
"Kamino wasn't always as obscure as it is now," Ahsoka responded, her eyes on the horizon. "It was important during the clone wars. This was where all the clones were… produced."
"Hmm," Din said.
He kept flying towards their destination's coordinates, but as they drew closer, no floating city or land mass appeared visible on the watery surface.
"Are you sure you have the right-?"
"There!" Ahsoka said, pointing to the ocean below them.
"Just…" Ahsoka huffed in frustration, then shooed Din out of the pilot's seat, grabbing the controls and bringing them down to the surface.
"Hey-!" Din's protest died in his throat as a tiny building came into view, the modest structure built atop a small metal platform suspended on stilts over the water. There was just enough space on the platform to land, but only just.
"Sorry," Ahsoka said as she maneuvered the Razor Crest onto the platform, "It's a little tricky to spot, so I thought I'd save you the trouble."
"...Sure," Din said, fighting down the nausea their quick descent had induced. He didn't want to show any weakness in front of her.
They exited the Razor Crest, Din holding the kid in his arms and Ahsoka shouldering her pack. The grey sky chose that moment to start raining, and together they made their way towards the small durasteel home at the far end of the platform. It was a round, hut-like dwelling with a huge metal lightning rod on top, and Din looked warily back up at the sulky sky.
"Hurry inside, the thunderstorm's coming," a voice called from the building.
The front door to the home opened and an old man emerged, his snow-white hair gleaming even in the gloomy light. His hair stood in stark contrast to his tan, weather-beaten skin, the deep lines on his face raising Din's estimate of his age to at least seventy.
Hunched over to protect the child from the rain, Din followed Ahsoka into the building and the old man shut the door behind them. As soon as the door shut, Ahsoka pulled the old man into a tight embrace.
"Rex," she said with the relief of someone coming home from a long journey.
The man, "Rex," returned the hug, his full beard brushing up against her lek. "It's good to see you again."
He pulled away from Ahsoka and turned to Din. "And you've brought a guest." He cast a measuring gaze over Din, his eyes widening as they fell to the child in Din's arms.
"Commander... is that…?" he said, almost reverently.
"Yeah, um… Rex, this is Din Djarin and his ward. The child doesn't have a name, but you're right—he is like Master Yoda," Ahsoka said.
"Wow! That's amazing. Never thought I'd never see another of… whatever General Yoda was. So, what do you need from me?"
"We don't need anything from you, Rex. We actually came because I was hoping this child could help you."
"Help me?" the old man asked, confused.
Din was curious, too. Rex was old, but seemed otherwise in good health. And callous though the thought was, Rex was old enough that the urgency Ahsoka expressed towards healing him seemed… misplaced. This man wouldn't live too much longer in this galaxy, healthy or no.
"The child has a special gift for healing," Ahsoka said slowly, carefully.
Rex's brows furrowed, then raised as he realized Ahsoka's meaning. "I don't think that's something that can be healed, Commander."
Ahsoka frowned. "Well we have to at least try."
Rex shook his head sadly. "We really don't."
"Mind filling me in?" Din asked impatiently.
Ahsoka turned to Din, grimace still on her face. She pointed to Rex. "He's a clone. They age faster than regular humans. He should be around the same age as me, but instead he looks like he's got one foot in the grave already."
"Hey!" Rex said, offended.
"I don't know if that's the kind of thing the kid can heal…" Din said doubtfully.
"I know, but we're going to at least try," Ahsoka said.
"Commander-" Rex said.
"Stop calling me that." Ahsoka bit out with a sharpness that silenced the spartan living room.
Rex took a reflexive step back from Ahsoka, surprise and hurt evident on his prematurely aged features. Din turned his head towards the door, arm tightening protectively around the kid.
"Maybe we should step outside," he said, sensing the kid's distress at the tense atmosphere.
"No," Rex said, tearing his eyes from Ahsoka. "A storm's coming. The thunderstorms here aren't the kind anyone should be outside in. Comman—Sorry, Ahsoka—Let's talk in my room. Mr. Djarin, was it? Make yourself comfortable."
Din nodded to Rex, and Rex and Ahsoka left the room. Din let out a heavy sigh and sat down on a beat up sofa along the far side of the room, carefully setting the kid down beside him. The kid looked up at him, long green ears exaggerating the motion and jiggling in that distinct way that even Din could only describe as adorable. His giant black eyes looked up at Din, a question in their inscrutable depths. Din shook his head.
"I dunno either, kid. I guess we'll find out."