Have you ever seen a tired Mandalorian? Well, the new bartender of the cantina in Nevarro sure never did see one before. But now he sat right in front of him. The Mandalorian hasn’t spoken much, only ordered. According to a local he is a bounty hunter, another said a mercenary or at least had something to with them. But they also said that he spends every evening like that: alone.
Every night he orders only one thing: a bowl of soup. It’s placed on the bar counter until he gets up and leaves the cold soup behind. He never eats it or touch it, as if it is waiting for someone else to consume it.
Today was just like that. He was sitting there with a bowl of soup next to him.
He wasn't sure how much time passed since he last saw Grogu. The days blurred together, with each sunset the memories of him felt further and further. But he still remembered the Jedi took Grogu.
Cara was telling him about the Jedi as Boba came back for Fennec, but once she told him what happened Bo Katan walked away. She didn't say a word about the Darksaber then and ever since then. He doesn’t know where she is or anyone else, except Cara, who insisted that he is coming to Neverro with her and the unconscious Moff.
Ever since then every day felt the same. Greef Karga – once he was told about what happened aboard the Imperial cruiser, and Cara Dune both agreed that Bo Katan will show up. The only question is when. Until then the Darksaber remains to be Din’s, but with each passing day it feels heavier.
“Can I get you anything else?” The bartender asked, but received no answer from the Mandalorian.
He almost turned around but a man approached the bar. “I would like a glass of milk.”
Something in Din mind clicked at hearing the voice, he heard it before, but he couldn’t place it. Once he turned around he realized who it belonged to.
Luke stood right next to him waiting for the bartender to get his order. Din looked up at him, but couldn’t say a word. He tried, but couldn’t to figure out what brought him here. He feared it’s related to Grogu. It had to be. Something must have happened. Someone from the Empire took him again or someone with a different affiliation kidnapped him. He had to be in danger.
But the Jedi was too calm. He silently took a seat next to Din and waited for his order. “I’m sorry to disturb your…” Luke noticed the bowl of soup. “…dinner, but I came because of an important matter.”
“He is hurt?” The Mandalorian asked.
Luke hesitated for a second, causing Din to get even more anxious. “No.” He answered. Din breathed a sigh of relief as Luke continued. “Artoo is looking after him.”
Din didn’t say a word, just turned to look at the Jedi.
“My droid.” He explained. “The real reason why I came is to ask how busy you are at the moment.”
Din averted his eyes from the soup and turned to the Jedi, a little confused what he means. “Why?”
Luke chuckled. “Grogu said you are quite popular. That everyone wants to hire the best and most skilled Mandalorian in the galaxy.”
Din's mind was full. First, with Grogu, the fact that he is alive and well. Then the Jedi, his sudden appearance and whatever he wants from him. And that chuckle. Finally what the kid, his kid thinks about him.
He could barely hear Luke's words from his own thoughts.
“I'm not looking for a bounty hunter, don't misunderstand me and I don't want to hire you for a job. I simply want to ask for your help to find something I wasn't even sure still exists.”
Luke waited for his answer, but as the seconds passed he decided to continue.
“I can pay you, if you wish, I—”
“No.” The Mandalorian interrupted.
Luke was relieved. He didn't want to pressure him into it or hurry him. “You don't have to decide right now. Take your time.”
“What are you looking for?” Din asked.
Luke took a second to think about what to say, how to explain the item the best.
But Din continued. “Is it some kind of… Force thing?”
Luke had to fight down a smile. It would have caused Din to think he is laughing at him and not finding his phrasing rather cute.
Grogu was right about him.
“It is.” He said with a smile. “I believed all were destroyed but Grogu is sure there was a Jedi who saved it.”
The Mandalorian remained silent. He tried to concentrate and listen carefully to each word he said.
“Grogu said it?” Din remembered when they were on Corvus and the Jedi said that his memories were dark, filled with fear. He was able to fight it? To remember?
“Yes.” The Jedi confirmed. "He might seem small and fragile but he very strong and wise, just like my Master was."
There was a curiosity in Din about what he said. “Your Master?”
“My Jedi Master. He was of the same species as Grogu.”
Din froze. “There are more like him?”
Luke sighed. “I only know one. He said he is the last one of his kind and he died thinking he was.”
After a long time Din felt a little bit better. He still missed his kid more than anything, but he knew he was in a good place. If Luke's Master was of the same species as Grogu he had to be a Jedi too. He found where he belongs. He found his home.
“I can't help you.” Said the Mandalorian.
Luke raised his eyebrows. He was almost sure he will agree, he did everything as he planned, but somehow it didn't work.
Din shifted in his seat, he was about to stand up, but before he could the Jedi spoke. “Can I ask why?”
The Mandalorian sighed. “No.”
With that he got up and walked out of the cantina.
He took a few steps when he heard someone catching up to him. Once he turned he saw the Jedi, now with the hood on his head.
“I just want to apologies if I was too intrusive,” Luke said as he followed Din. “It was not my intention.”
The Mandalorian suddenly stopped and turned back just enough to see the Jedi. “You are a Jedi, just like Grogu. He needs you to be his...” He motioned with his hands as he tried to remember the term. “Trainer.”
Like now couldn't stop himself and practically beamed once he said it.
“That's why I can't help you.” Din continued without noticing anything. “Because I have no role in his life now.” He said it. It hurt him, but he got it off his chest.
The night was strangely silent in Nevarro. The noise of the cantina was present, but not too bothering. A very few people walked around, all carefully, almost sneaking in the dark street, heading somewhere. Maybe home, maybe the place they wish that was home.
He sighed again, waiting if the Jedi has anything to say. Once he felt like enough time has passed he was about to turn around and walk away.
“But you do have a role in his life.” Luke said, but the Mandalorian took a step further, without waiting for him to reveal his –according to him, nonexistent role. “You are his father.”
Father. Grogu's father.
He was told being his father, not directly, not in serious situation, except that time...
“A foundling is in your care. By Creed, until it is of age or reunited with its own kind, you are as its father. You are a clan of two.”
But he did it. He found his kind, the Jedi and he found one who agreed to train him. Grogu is not in his care anymore. He completed his task. His clan is not of two anymore.
“Every child needs parents, blood related or not it doesn't matter. They need them.” Luke tried his best to explain why Grogu needs him. He had a wish to complete and he was determined to succeed. “He was alone for a very long time, frightened and scared. But he found where he belongs, and I don't mean the Jedi, he already knew that, I mean you. You and Grogu have a connection.”
He remembered the other Jedi words, about their connection.
“He's formed a strong attachment to you. I cannot train him. His attachment to you makes him vulnerable to his fears. His anger.”
“I thought being attached is bad.” He pulled himself back from his memories. “He needs to be with his own kind, to learn to use his abilities."
Luke took a step further to him. “I can teach him about the Force, but he needs his family. He needs you” He stopped for a second, unsure if he should say it, but he made a promise. “And you need him too.”
Din turned back, now his entire body facing the Jedi. “You can't come back saying that after I let him go.” There was a tint of frustration in his voice that Luke noticed. “I made a decision that day, to do what is best for him and now you appear to ask me to throw away everything because you want some kind of item?”
Luke didn’t answer. Not because he didn’t have an answer, but because he knew he was right. He asked too much and upset him. Not how he wanted it to go. He knew he can only make it right if he takes a step back.
“You are right. I asked you too much.” The Jedi admitted. “Nonetheless I will give you time to think and come back tomorrow.”
Now the Jedi was the one who walked away, leaving the Mandalorian at the dark and cold streets of Neverro in doubt and alone.