She's far more worried about Wolffe's state than she lets on.

He'd responded well again to the mundane healing methods she'd been using, sighing and relaxing in his sleep after the latest round of javun applied to his wounds. However, when he doesn't stir as the afternoon light turns into dusk (the days are longer here than on Coruscant, and the golden hours stretch further than the sunbeams scattered across the floor), Riyo begins to worry.

She can't let it show, though. What Rex needs right now is hope. What she needs right now is hope.

Wolffe will live, even if she has to personally blackmail the Goddess into returning his soul.

The house is dark and silent at this time of night, Rex and Ahsoka both having retired hours before. Riyo never disturbed them once they left the common areas. Privacy was a luxury that she doubted even existed from wherever they returned to between missions. She wasn't naive: Bail had clearly been recruiting and funding a rebelling force, one that she was helping to heal with her javun shipments, but even he had his limitations on how much he could set up and offer in only half a year.

She pondered over these and other stray thoughts from her makeshift bed on the chilly wooden floor in Wolffe's room. The couch had been her spot for the past days, but she'd been afraid that if something happened in the middle of the night, she wouldn't stir from her fitful sleep to be able to help.

So, she'd gathered up her pillow and pair of blankets– only the two, since all the others were currently split between her three guests– and settled in for an uncomfortable night. She knew she would get used to it, and that this was only a temporary arrangement. The hard floor was a small price to pay if it meant she was able to help.

As her consciousness became fuzzy in the minutes before she drifted off, Riyo watched Wolffe's sleeping form with eyes hooded from exhaustion. Was he always this still when he slept? Or was it merely a side effect of his injuries? Did he still treat everyone gruffly to hide his gentler side, the one she'd first seen after passing his interrogation on her "intentions towards Fox" with flying colors? Or had the war and this nightmarish aftermath snuffed it out?

She swore to herself, with only the still night as her witness, that she'd find a way to bring it back.


Riyo woke with a start, a stuttered gasp flying from her lips as she rudely snapped back into the waking world. It took her a heartbeat to remember where she was when she couldn't feel the soft dip of the couch beneath her, but the sight and feel of calloused fingers wrapping around her wrist did the trick. Her trapped hand was resting beside her head on the pillow, so Riyo's gaze was swiftly able to follow the length of her waker's arm up towards the bed. She was greeted with Wolffe's furrowed brow and intense stare.

"You're awake," she said blankly, unable to state more than the obvious in her surprise.

The crease on his forehead grew as his frown deepened. "What are you doing?" He rasped.

She didn't move, afraid that if anything broke this conversation, he would spook and draw away like a frightened animal. "I didn't want you to be in here alone, in case something went wrong," she honestly explained.

His eyes roamed her face, and Riyo did her best to remain still under his scrutiny. She had no idea what he was looking for, but it was only fair for her to allow him to search. After understanding what the control chips had done to the troopers, taking away any sort of choice and forcing uniform thought, the last thing she wanted to do was enforce any lingering push towards that mentality. His mind was free here.

A series of emotions streaked across his face, and she could almost see the gears in his head turning as he worked through each thought. His grip on her wrist loosened, but it was still enough that he could feel her calming pulse beneath his fingertips. She found it soothing, almost like he was seeking out evidence that she was alive and real and here with him. Hopefully it gave him a similar peace.

The words Wolffe finally settled on ripped the air out of her lungs.

"I'm not Fox." There was nothing accusatory in his tone; in fact, he sounded defeated. Hollow.

Riyo knew too well how that felt, how it could eat someone alive.

She shifted further on to her side, both so she could see him more easily and cover his fingers with her free hand. "I know that," she whispered, feeling the weight of her admission. "I know you aren't him."

His eyes narrowed in confusion as he tried to parse out some hidden meaning to her statement. "Then why are you here?"

That was like a knife to the chest, and she couldn't hide her subtle flinch. "Because you deserve to be somewhere safe. To be helped by someone who cares about you."

"I... don't understand."

She gave him a sad smile. "You don't have to. Just rest and heal, that's all I ask."

Wolffe watched her for a minute longer before his lips parted in a deep sigh and he eased himself fully onto his back once more. He kept his hold on Riyo's wrist, though, and turned his head so he could still watch her through his milky white eye, his brown one half-closed as his face pressed into his pillows.

"You don't have to sleep on the floor," he mumbled, curiosity overcoming his fatigue and allowing him to stay awake.

She shrugged with her raised shoulder. "It's easier to keep an eye on you if I'm in the same room."

He hummed blandly. "Y'say that like I'm a problem," he said lightly.

Riyo couldn't help but roll her eyes. "I say that like you have multiple injuries that are healing," she countered, earning a quiet snort from him in return.

"Yessir, whatever you say."

A real grin spread across her face. If he was able to sass her back like this already, she knew he'd be alright in the end.

They lapsed into an easy silence, one that didn't crush in on Riyo's chest for the first time in recent memory. It was nice, having a simple connection with someone again where there were no rules or expectations hanging over their heads. Simply two weary souls, clinging to each other on a rock surrounded by a swift current.

Wolffe was the one to finally speak. "He loved you, y'know. A lot." His voice was much softer now, and Riyo had to fight the urge to get on her knees and pull him into a hug in an attempt to fight the sorrow that clung to every word.

Or maybe she was being selfish, and wanted to beat back her own rising sorrow. It was much more muted than usual, not enough to have her curling up in despair, but still strong enough to summon tears to her eyes.

She squeezed his hand where it still rested under hers. "He loved you more."

She knew it to be true with every cell in her body, Memories of the few times she'd been privileged to see them interact and of the many instances she listened to Fox's stories about his batchmate flooded to the front of her mind. Fox loved his brothers so much, and Riyo loved him all the more for it.

The quiet this time was soaked in grief, but a more contemplative kind, very different from the drowning emotion Riyo often lost herself to. She was exhausted now though, emotionally rung dry from how much of the past she'd dwelled on that day. Wolffe's hand was warm and steady against her cooler skin, and it overwhelmed her tired senses as she began to slip back into a slumber. A fleeting thought wondered why he hadn't let her go yet, but the fog pulling down at her eyelids dismissed it as quickly as it'd come.

Perhaps it was a figment of her mind as she slipped into a dreamworld, but Riyo felt his hand move from under hers to slide up her wrist to her palm and carefully slide his fingers between hers. Their interlocked hands could now rest easily on the pillow, and she let out a contented sigh as she pulled them closer to her cheek.

A gentle whisper floated into the air, one that had a lone tear escape through her lashes and fall free.

"No, Riyo. He didn't."

He loved you most.