Hey friends! Welcome to my new fic! This story is inspired from an idea from #ReyloPrompts. I meant to write it in-universe, but it begged to be a modern AU instead and, I admit, I'd been really fun to write. It's a collision of Mandalorian and the ST, if Rey had been raised by Mando instead of alone. So some of it is about that dynamic, but don't worry, it is still a Reylo story at its core so the main focus will be Rey and Ben.
Anyway, hope you have as much fun with it as I do. I promise quick updates!
First chapter is from Mando's point of view, but the rest (except for one more from Mando later on down the line) is from Rey's.
GUIDE YOU HOME
.a modern au reylo fic.
chapter one: it's not much, but it's the closest thing they have
"There's still time, bro. Please."
The guy in the backseat speaks his urgent words into the glass of the window, pressing his face to it, looking at the dingy streets of lower downtown. Panic making his shoulders tense up around his neck.
Mando ignores him.
"C'mon, buddy, whatever they're paying you for taking me in, I'll match it. I'll pay more, even. How much?"
His wild-eyed gaze flicks to the review mirror, and Mando meets it coolly.
"Most people aren't this talkative after getting tased - twice," he says without empathy.
The man starts to swear, stringing a lace of colorful words so long they could fill a textbook. Mando tunes him out. He's used to this. It's part of the job. He navigates traffic with the boredom of someone who is too comfortable in their own town. Might be time to move on soon. He usually needs a new scene when it starts to feel this apathetic, but it's complicated this time. Roots have grown where he didn't want to plant them, and pulling up and out will be harder than before.
He smoothly sweeps into a parallel parking spot in front of the police station.
The perp brings a foot up to kick against the cage separating him from Mando. It rattles, but doesn't give.
"Dammit don't do this! I can't go to jail!"
Again, Mando says nothing. He's heard all this before. Some skips come quietly, and some come kicking and screaming. This one is definitely being a crybaby about it. Every time Mando brings someone in, there's some amount of bargaining or pleading, and it's honestly getting old. He's not as young as he once was, and he feels it in the ache of his muscles after wrestling this loser to the ground. He's not in the mood for this protest today, so he forgoes the part where he calmly reminds the skip about missing trial dates and making better life choices.
Most of them never do. He does a lot of re-arresting the previously re-arrested.
He gets out of the car and goes around to the other side, hand coming to rest on his taser at his side before he opens the door. "No funny business or you'll get it again. You want it again?"
The man shakes his head and issues a soft wail of despair.
Mando drags him out of the car and wrenches him to his feet.
Some officers are already coming down the steps to meet him, so he lets them do the work of hauling the groaning, protesting, cuffed man up and in. They give him a nod. They know him and they know what this is about. They'll save him the paperwork, which is one of the few nice things about staying in a place for this long. He nods back and returns to his car, a weary breath escaping him. His ribs hurt where the perp headbutted him, but otherwise he escaped this encounter unscathed.
It doesn't always go that way.
He heads down a single block and parks in an alleyway adjacent to a dingy little shop reading NEVARRO BAIL BONDS. A bell tinkles overhead when he walks inside.
Griff looks up from the computer, his brow ticking up in surprise. "You're back early. Couldn't find him?"
Mando eases himself into a chair on the other side of the desk — that rib hurts a little more than he thought. Might be bruised to the bone. At least he knows it isn't broken. He's had plenty of broken ribs before, and this isn't like that.
"I found him."
A slow grin spreads over Griff's brown face. "He's in?"
He claps his hands together and then raises them to the sky in an act of praise. "Mando, you've done it again. All these years together and I'm still surprised. You're worth every penny of your exorbitant fee. I probably shouldn't tell you that, though, or you'll charge me double. Well, don't even try it. No agent is worth that much."
"Yeah, yeah." Mando is tired. He isn't interested in the praise or the reproach. Griff doesn't like giving him twenty-five percent when other agents only get ten, but he doesn't have much of a choice. And Griff resents him for it. Mando kicks his feet up onto the desk. "The kid'll be in tomorrow. You find something like we discussed?"
Griff nods, wheeling his office chair away from his computer and over to a large filing cabinet. He pulls a thick file and brings it back to the desk. "I got the perfect one. Non-violent, according to what we know, but incredibly difficult. He's got warrants out everywhere. I might not be the only one after him."
Mando lifts a skeptical brow. "A skip with multiple warrants but who is non-violent?"
"Well," Griff hedges, giving him an innocent smile, "let's just say he hasn't killed anyone, at least."
Mando doesn't like that. "You couldn't find some mellowed out toker who just forgot to show up for his trial?"
"Sure, I got plenty of those, but that would be easy. I thought you said you didn't want easy." He flips the file folder open and motions to the first page. "Take a look and see if you're comfortable."
Mando sighs. He doesn't really like any of this. He flips the folder closed and pushes it back towards Griff. "I don't need to take a look now. She knows what she can handle. Besides, she'll let me come along tomorrow to hear the rundown, and you can tell me about it then."
"She will?" Now it's Griff's turn to look skeptical.
"Or she won't. Her decision." He stands again, leaning on the desk and staring down into the older face of his employer. "Either way, you're sure she'll have trouble with this one?"
"Sure. Well, I mean, it's not the most dangerous, not that kind of trouble, but I thought you said —"
"I said most difficult, not most dangerous."
"Right, that's what this is." He taps on the thick file folder. "Trust me, she won't be able to catch him. But you haven't really explained why you want her to fail. I'd rather give her something easy to start her off, like that toker. Is this some religious thing with you again? Don't be like that, Mando. You trained her, give her the chance to be as good as you. Or is that why? You're afraid she will be. You know I'll replace you with her if she charges me less but can do the same thing."
"You won't replace me," Mando said patiently. He straightens again. "This doesn't have to do with religion. I mean, she thinks it does, and I guess in a way it does, but I need her to see a different future for herself. This life isn't for her, though she doesn't know it yet. I need her to find that out."
Griff shrugs. "Suit yourself. It's your call. I just think it's a shame to kill the kid's confidence like that."
"She can handle it." He turns to head out the door, pausing to toss over his shoulder, "It's still twenty-five, Griff. Make the deposit."
Griff swears at him, the jingling of the bell above the door drowning him out as Mando returns to the dusk.
He leaves downtown, heading out towards the highway which leads commuters and travelers to the mountains. It's a short drive, away from the city and into the country, turning down a dirt road, taking him to an isolated trailer community. Technically it's a commercial RV park, and it does fill up during the summer camping season — with the proximity to the mountains and the spectacular night views of the city, it's a popular site for weekenders.
But it's just a little too far away from the mountains for the ski crowd, meaning in the fall and winter, it's practically a graveyard.
Mando's RV is one of three permanents. There is a retired couple in a sleek airstream cylinder with a little gated hexagon for their two small dogs and a garden gnome sitting beside their step. The other is a former police officer in a crusty old Winnebago. Mando's is somewhere in the middle, a modest Class C Super Diesel with enough room for him, the kid, and the baby, and virtually nobody else.
He pulls up and watches them out the window for a moment. They both must have heard him, but neither reacts.
The kid is tangled around an old motorcycle, grease-stained and hard at work with a socket wrench. The baby is digging in the dirt a few feet away from her, scooping it up and dumping it into his shoes, which are off and already overflowing. They're both suitably filthy.
She's not really a kid anymore, and the baby isn't really a baby either, and the confirmation of this makes Mando momentarily wistful. He's become painfully aware of the ephemeral nature of this little arrangement they've all got, especially in the last few weeks.
He gets out of the car and locks it, checking on the younger one first.
"Hey, buddy," he greets.
The five year old glances up at him and grins. "Hi, Papa."
Mando ruffles his hair. "Making a mess?"
He nods, not bothering to think about the logistics of cleaning up that mess. He doesn't bother trying to correct the familial name either. He can't get Dyn to stop calling him Papa, so he's given in. Second child syndrome, he jokes with himself. The name is stuck
He heads over to the motorcycle.
"Rey," he says.
She slides to her feet and stands, setting her tools on the seat of the bike and wiping her brow. This smears a smudge of grease across it, completing her look. The day is a cool one, autumn turning to winter, but she's still sweaty along her hairline.
"Hey Mando." She glances over at the younger child and starts in alarm. "Dyn! Stop! Your shoes are already filthy!"
The child looks at Mando for confirmation that he should indeed stop, and Mando can hear her little breathe of annoyance. He waves at Dyn to forget the command and turns back to the girl.
"It's fine," he tells Rey.
She presses her lips into a thin line. "You gonna be the one to clean him up then?"
"Right." She folds her arms and regards him without the affection a daughter would have for her father. But then, they aren't really father and daughter, and he's never allowed her to pretend otherwise. It's his own fault that she has that look in her face.
She's changed so much from when he found her nine years ago, but he can't stop seeing the scrawny little ten-year old she was, scrabbling around a tiny town in the desert of Arizona, starving and feral and completely alone. Now she's a grown woman, still skinny but no longer emaciated, grease-stained instead of dusty, independent instead of wild. He shouldn't feel a flicker of regret at this, shouldn't mourn her growing up the way a father would - as he has constantly reminded her, and himself, every day since he found her hiding in the back of his RV, two hundred miles away from where she was supposed to be, he is not her father. But he does feel it.
"So what did Griff say? Am I still good for tomorrow?"
Mando drags himself out of the memory at her question, and he sighs heavily again. "Yes, he has something for you. Listen, kid, you sure you want to do this?"
Her jaw sets, her eyes flashing with flint again. "I'm sure."
They've been over this conversation before, but he intends to make her go through it again.
"This isn't a good life for you, Rey."
"It's good enough for you," she fires back.
"It's dangerous. I've almost died. I have been seriously hurt."
"So have I, helping you."
"You've gotten lucky. We've never run into really dangerous trouble. At least, not when you've been with me. "
"That's kind of the point. I know what I'm getting myself into. Besides, it's always a lot less dangerous for you when I'm there. You aren't supposed to do this job alone. You need a partner. You don't run into as much trouble when I'm with you."
It is true, though Mando will not acknowledge this to her. He's always worked alone, but having this kid tag along everywhere meant that sometimes she jumped in and helped out, until eventually he just gave in and trained her. She is scrappy and tough and he can count on her in a tight spot. And she is good with people. She can get crazed skips to calm down with just a few soothing words. It feels like witchcraft sometimes, and scares the hell out of Mando, but he can't deny it is extremely useful.
The problem is that her skills with people come from a well of deep kindness, and Mando knows that this life will slowly chip away at that kindness until she is as jaded and careworn as he is.
Her light is too bright to give to this sorry profession of hunting down bail skippers and criminals.
"This isn't about me being better at my job, Rey. This is about what you're going to do with your life."
"This is what I choose to do."
"You've really given up on the auto shop then?"
It's a necessary part of this dance, reminding her of the other thing she is scary good at — machines.
Rey throws her hands up in exasperation. "I quit two weeks ago, which you already know, and asking me about it again won't make me go running back."
"You could make more money doing that than doing what I do," he explains. Again.
And it wouldn't be as dangerous, though he doesn't add this because for as long as he's known her, Rey has demonstrated a worrying disregard for danger.
"I'm going inside if you keep talking about this," she warns.
Mando relents, knowing full well that she will shut herself into a silent box of isolation if he keeps pushing. She's good at that. Being alone.
She was good at that before he found her, and she's had to be good at it since. It's not like he's great company.
"Papa, I'm hungry," Dyn declares. "Can we go catch frogs by the river for dinner?"
Rey makes a face. "No frogs."
Mando can't help it, he grins at the little kid. "You just like catching them, you don't actually like eating them."
"I love to catch them," Dyn agrees.
Mando rubs the stubble on his chin and considers. "I did just bring in a big one today. What if we got pizza?"
Rey's face lights up, like he knew it would. Dyn jumps up too, pumping his little fists in the air. Dust flies from his every movement like a cloud.
"Pizza!" he cries. "Pepperoni! Please can we get pepperoni?"
Rey goes over and takes his hand. "You're too dirty to eat anything. Come on. While Mando goes to get the pizza, we'll clean up. You go first."
Dyn's face scrunches up in protest. "I don't want to take a shower."
"I'm not filling up the bin tonight, that just makes extra work. You'll just take a quick shower. It'll be fine." She waves Mando off.
He turns with a peculiar feeling in the pit of his stomach and goes back to his car. Delivery doesn't come way out here, he'll have to go pick something up. But that isn't really what's bothering him. Tomorrow, Rey will take her first steps into independence and adulthood. And he wants that for her. Part of him has been wanting to be free of her since he found her. But he has grown fond of having her around, and not just because she's good with Dyn. She's been his tagalong companion for nine years. It's been so long, he doesn't really remember life before she came into it.
But as much as he doesn't want this household dynamic he has now to change, he doesn't want her stagnating in his pond either. So no matter what happens tomorrow, whether she succeeds or fails and realizes she's destined for more, Mando knows he will feel melancholy at the end of it. He didn't want fatherhood, and yet two little foundlings came into his life, and now he is having trouble with one of them getting ready to make her own life.
He shakes his head and pulls out of the RV park. If Rey succeeds, which Mando has fixed so she won't, she will try to become his partner in fugitive recovery. And he probably won't tell her no, because he is getting tired of it and having someone younger take the helm, who could calm angry criminals down, would be a mercy.
But she won't, and he'll encourage her to go back to the auto shop, and eventually she'll find a life outside him and Dyn. And he will be pleased, but it will also mean the end of an era.
So he will get this pizza tonight and they will enjoy it, and then tomorrow they will face what future lies ahead.