When they landed in the hidden rebel base on the fourth moon of Yavin, Dean didn’t think he’d ever had a more crowded arrival in his entire time in the Alliance. The five of them were met with a swarm of people – medical personnel, techs, mechanics, his friends and peers, and more. He could’ve sworn half the base had come to greet them.
He supported Sam as they hobbled down the Impala’s loading ramp, followed by Gabriel, Ree, and Bela, who sniped about not needing help to walk though she leaned on Gabriel anyways. Dean’s ribs were killing him, but Sam was in far worse shape, so Dean bit back his moans and kept hobbling.
Jo cried out when she saw them, rushing forward through the throng to hug Sam and Dean both around the neck at the same time. When she noticed Sam’s bandaged shoulder and arm, she barked for the medical personnel to come forward and get him on a gurney. She swiftly ordered Bela and Ree onto gurneys too (predictably, Bela objected still but climbed on).
“What about me?” Gabriel complained, gesturing to his swollen purple, blue, and yellow face.
“You can walk,” said Jo coldly.
Gabriel huffed. Dean laughed into his hand. After he’d left Sam in the med bay, Dean had sent off a message to Jo that they were on his way. He gave her a quick account of what had happened since his last message. She’d fired back a reply immediately, brimming with relief, and told him he’d be briefed in full on as soon as he arrived.
Benny enveloped Dean in a big hug. Dean slapped his back, relieved to see his friend’s rugged, bearded face. Dean pretended the embrace didn’t hurt like hell, covering his gasp of pain with a hasty cough.
“Good to see you, brother,” Benny drawled, brilliant blue eyes sparkling. “You know that’s twice in as many weeks I assumed you were dead. Bad habit to get into.”
Dean chuckled. “Tell me about it.” He surreptitiously rubbed at his ribs. I really need a tank session. Damn Azazel…
After that, Dean was embraced by Ash, who languidly informed him that he’d arrived just in time. In his absence, they’d explored the potential loophole in the Death Star and had formulated a plan.
“We’re havin’ the briefing tomorrow,” Ash said. “We got them buggers nailed, I tell ya!”
Dean was bone-weary and could barely listen to Ash and Benny (mostly Ash) recount everything that had happened since Dean had blasted out of Hoth with Bela and Ree. Between Ash’s twanging Ploomarian accent and colorful embellishments, the stories of mishaps and Imperial run-ins during the journey from Hoth to Yavin sound more like a work of fiction than actual events.
“I tell ya, Dean-o, we lost ‘em in the end, and it was with triumph and all manner of bad-assery that we descended to these here temples in the jungles of Yavin’s fourth moon…”
Benny shot Dean a few long-suffering glances over Ash’s shoulder as the younger man rambled. Eventually Benny managed to steer Ash away with some feeble excuse. Dean gave Benny a grateful look and continued on to the control hub.
Dean hadn’t slept much on the trip to Yavin; he kept busy making sure Ree, Bela, and Sam’s injuries were tended to and ensuring that they were all able to sleep. Admittedly, he was still recuperating from the beatings he’d taken at Azazel’s hands, but he was better off than the others, so their recovery time was far more important to him. That left him and Gabriel to pilot, and Gabe tended to nod off or wander away and entertain himself, so Dean took over.
Now that he was finally here, he was aching and dead on his feet, but he needed to check in before he could collapse. He was one of the leaders of the Alliance, after all. He had to know what was going on. Sleep and medical treatment would simply have to wait. Hell, it wasn’t like he bleeding out or anything.
Anna Mothma’s smile was wide and bright when she spotted him, and she immediately pulled him into a warm, gentle hug.
“Dean,” she sighed. “You made it.”
It never ceased to amaze him how positively ageless she looked every time he saw her, with her brilliant red hair and smooth pale skin. Despite it being more than a year since he’d last seen her or visited the Yavin base, she was radiant and unchanged. If he didn’t know better he’d estimate her to be close to his own age or even Sam’s on appearances alone, though then it would’ve been impossible for her to have been a political force back when the Galactic Republic still existed, back during the Clone Wars. The rumor was she had ancestors from Iego, though he’d never asked her to confirm it.
“How are things here?” He nodded his chin to the holographic battle plans spread out across the conference table.
Anna sighed again, tucking a lock of fiery red hair that had slid out of her bun behind her ear. “I assume Ash told you?”
Dean grimaced. “Ash gabbed about the journey here, and how it was for everyone from the Hoth base in far too much irrelevant detail. Benny steered him away before he talked my ear off.”
Anna chuckled. “Of course he did.” She touched his cheek affectionately. “You haven’t slept. You look exhausted.” She traced her thumb over his cheekbone. “And you’re bruised.”
He kind of thought that ‘exhausted’ and ‘bruised’ were understatements at this point given what he’d been through recently, but he simply couldn’t go lay down yet.
“You should see the other guy,” he joked weakly and Anna was not impressed by his thin attempt at humor. It was like she could tell exactly how bad he was hurting. She’d always had that look in her eyes that made him feel like his soul was being x-rayed. He cleared his throat and tried to divert her attention away from him. “Tell me the plan.”
She took her hand away but didn’t stop watching him with concern in her sharp hazel eyes. “Dean, you’re barely standing upright.”
He scrubbed his hand over his face, wanting to fight her – he had to know what was going on! – and realized she was unfortunately right. He was too tired to muster the energy to even think about fighting her, if he was being truly honest. And God, his ribs really freaking hurt…
“Tell me about Hoth, then,” he tried. His ribs could wait. He could make himself wait. It could all wait; it had to. The Alliance was more important than whatever Azazel had done to him personally and always would be.
She grasped his arm and steered him towards the door. “Later.”
“Anna,” he said gruffly, pulling out of her grasp. “I’ll go take a nap and get some bacta on the worst of it, and then come back for the plans, okay? But at least tell me about Hoth. How many?”
It had been eating away at him since he’d taken off in the Impala and he couldn’t stand not knowing a moment longer. His closest friends were okay – they’d met him on the landing platform – but…
Anna pressed her lips together, clearly not liking this one bit, but she knew exactly how stubborn Dean could be. She gave in and murmured, “Seventeen transports.”
Dean closed his eyes, the number hitting him in the chest like a bulk freighter. Only thirteen made it out? That meant thousands of casualties from the transports alone, never mind how many soldiers and pilots they’d lost on top of that.
“Over two thousand,” Anna continued, her voice brimming with pain. “Kevin Tran, Adam Milligan, Pamela Barnes…” She listed at least two dozen more names before Dean put his hand up unable to hear anymore and she trailed off sadly. He’d review the lists later.
He knew it’d had to be bad – had spent the last couple weeks stressing about that very thing. The Imperials had come down on them fast and hard. He knew if Bela and Ree hadn’t found the fried tracker on the Impala, the numbers would’ve been worse. And he’d asked, hell, demanded that she tell him. But listening to her tell him the final numbers and name names, made the casualties more than a worry: it made them horribly real.
He opened his eyes when she clasped his hand.
“There was nothing you could have done differently,” she assured him. She knew him well.
He swallowed, silently disagreeing – there was always something he could have done.
“Go to sleep, Dean,” she said. “Their lives will not be lost in vain. Sleep and heal.” Anna gave his hand a squeeze. “And when you wake up, I will show you how we are going to finish this, how we are going to take down the Death Star.”
The Emperor stood before the viewscreen watching the stars outside pass by, bored but not impatient. He listened to the officer behind him with detached interest as he tersely explained that they were several hours from boarding the Death Star and would have to take an even longer route due to a meteor collision two sectors over.
Lucifer was unconcerned. “The device is still holding?”
“Yes, m’Lord,” the officer confirmed.
The Emperor allowed himself a smile. See, Azazel’s tracking device idea had been a good one, he simply hadn’t executed it properly. Trying to blast the hell out of the ship you wanted to track was awfully counter-intuitive.
Instead, Lucifer let the Impala leave Cloud City, dispatching just enough fighters that the Impala’s crew thought they had truly escaped. They wouldn’t take too much damage, therefore not risking another blown tracker, and all Lucifer had to do was chill out on the Death Star and follow. It was kind of a genius move, if he did say so himself.
“Good,” he said, folding his hands before him. “Dismissed.”
He heard the officer scurry away.
Despite an annoyingly high number of dead Imperials, needing to scrape Azazel’s favorite bounty hunter off a landing platform, and having to kill Azazel, Lucifer felt it had all in all been a rather productive day.
It was going to be a sweet victory to finally see an end to the Rebel Alliance. He’d been waiting for this day for a very long time. Having his visions confirmed in reality was always nice; so far everything was proceeding as he had foreseen it. All he had to do was close his eyes to see a planet exploding into a massive fireball, to feel ripples of terror blast through the Force… It was beautiful.
He opened his eyes and refocused on the stars dotting the expanse of black beyond the ship’s long gray nose. The scarred skin on his face pulled slightly as his smile grew.
Several sessions in the bacta tank later, Sam felt… well, not completely terrible. Considering the shape he’d been in when he arrived on Yavin, he took that as a major win. His limbs still ached but his arm wasn’t numb and he could move it without crying out at the pain in his shoulder. The bruises and cuts were still visible, but fading, and he was pretty amazed.
He’d thought the med bay on Hoth had been advanced, at least compared to the stuff back on Tatooine, but the bases on Yavin was even more impressive. The Alliance clearly had friends in high places to be able to outfit their base like this.
Sam stretched in his bed, testing out the range of motion on his arm. His shoulder was still covered in bacta bandages, but he found he could now lift it to a forty-five degree angle without too much trouble.
The curtain surrounding his bed slid open and in Bobby walked. It was more of a limping hobble as he leaned heavily on a brace, but it was walking nonetheless. The last time Sam had seen him, the older man had been bedridden and temporarily paralyzed from the waist down.
Sam’s face split into a wide grin.
“Hey, kiddo,” Bobby grunted. “How’s the arm?”
Sam had been too out of it to properly talk to him when Bobby had visited earlier, but he’d been told by Jo that Bobby had stayed by his bed all night and through most of the bacta tank sessions as well.
“I can move it… mostly,” Sam replied with another smile, demonstrating his limited range of motion.
“Good enough.” The older man chuckled and plopped into the chair beside Sam’s bed.
He seemed hesitant then, and Sam could guess why: this was the first conversation they’d had since Sam had been at Bobby’s bedside back on Hoth. Back when Bobby had been about to tell him something important.
“Look, Sam…” he sighed, adjusting his hat absently.
“It’s okay, Bobby,” Sam assured him quickly, knowing where this was going. “I know you had your reasons.”
Bobby frowned. “Hell, I shoulda told you anyways. I shoulda told you the day you came to see me back on Tatooine – the day your mom…” He shook his head, frustrated. “Then you up and almost died. Twice…”
“It’s okay, really. I know now and that’s all that matters.”
Sam realized with a start that his friend’s eyes were glistening. “You shoulda heard it from me, Sam. I had a million opportunities to tell you he was your family – to tell ya everything, and I never did.” He sniffed and blinked rapidly, dispelling the shimmer in his eyes. “Shoulda made sure you knew you weren’t alone.”
“Bobby…” Sam swallowed hard against the lump lodged in his throat. “I wasn’t alone. I had you, and I had Jo. I was never alone.”
The other man turned his head away with another loud sniff. Sam didn’t know what to say next. Truth be told, he was still a little angry that Ellen and Bobby had kept this massive secret from him his whole life. He did wish he’d known sooner, even if he couldn’t be sure what he’d have done with the information if Bobby had told him back on Tatooine.
But he knew now, and he understood, at least, partially why they’d lied. Most importantly, he was grateful that he and Dean now knew the truth.
“Okay, that is way more emotional stuff than my usual quota,” Bobby said gruffly, clearing his throat. “Sam, did I ever tell you about the time your dad, Ellen, and I accidentally got a whole platoon of Separatist idjits to surrender to us?”