If you're familiar with my fics, this takes place just after Warriors Of Shadow.
"Ni su'cuyi, gar kyr'adyc, ni partayli, gar darasuum."
As he did every night, the clone trooper known as Milo whispered the Mando'a phrase to himself, followed by the names of his fallen brothers. Eyes closed, he swayed a little in the breeze that carried the scent of distant snow. Though he was not looking, he knew that the stars above his head were bright, pinpricks of light amid the gaping maw of atmosphere, and that stretched before him, the Alderaanian plain was laid bare before the jagged backdrop of mountains, standing sentinel beneath the shelter of sky.
While his Jedi general, Kalinda Halcyon, had been sent to the planet to conduct Republic business with Senator Organa, Milo and the rest of his squad were given the run of the guest quarters of the senator's estate. It was strange to be in an actual building for once – and a nice one at that – rather than crawling about the jungle or desert as he'd gotten used to in the past six months, but Milo knew that he would go wherever his general asked him; the realization occurred to him that she had a tendency to ask rather than order. Despite its strangeness, the idea made him smile.
"Couldn't sleep?" The sound of the Jedi's voice roused him from his thoughts, and Milo glanced in the direction of the balcony's entrance, where the dark-haired woman was emerging from the brick building. At first he felt a flash of something he categorized as embarrassment, as his initial thought was of her intimate relationship with Captain Stonewall, but he let the feeling go as quickly as it had come. Kalinda Halcyon came to stand beside him, placing her hands on the smooth stone of the railing.
Milo saluted her once, noting with confusion that she sighed and cast her eyes upward. "No, General," he replied. "I was performing remembrance."
Her head tilted as she regarded him. "Remembrance?" A moment later something changed in her expression and she nodded. "Of fallen brothers?"
"Yes, sir." He looked at the stars. "It's a Mando thing."
"I've heard Stonewall mention it," she said, tracing invisible patterns on the railing with the nail of her index finger. "But I didn't realize it was Mandalorian."
The wind sharpened and Milo considered putting on his bucket, as it would keep out the chill, but decided against it. "Not every clone cares to learn about Mando traditions," he explained, leaning forward on the balcony's ledge with an ease he didn't quite feel. "We're all taught some basic phrases and songs – useful for highly stressful combat situations, and to foster a sense of brotherhood – but some of us..." He paused, unsure how to phrase the thought. "It sticks with some of us more than others."
"It's your heritage," she replied. "Jango Fett was a Mandalorian, right?" The edges of her dark hair were lifted by the wind, almost reaching above her head to the sky.
Milo nodded. "But that's not all of it...Jango trained the ARCs, and hired Mandos to train the commandos. The rest of us picked up on the culture if we wanted. My squad-mates..." His voice trailed off and his gaze fell to the ledge beneath his elbows. The light from within the room behind him provided just enough illumination to reflect off of the minuscule flecks of mica, glinting as if made of starlight. "My squad-mates liked Mando'a, so we all learned as much as we could."
The Jedi was silent for a moment; he wondered if she was absorbing his words or if her mind had wandered afield of his mundane attempt at conversation. When she spoke, it caught him off-guard. "How does it go, again?"
He'd said the words every single night since Teyr, since well before he'd been recruited for her squad, so they slipped out of his mouth with what he supposed might be considered eloquence, though Mando'a often seemed bulky and gruff on his tongue. The phrase was followed with the names of his brothers who'd fallen in combat, those men who'd been lost within a dirt-red canyons of Teyr. When he finished, her eyes were wide and – he thought – odd and glinting, but he was still learning how to read the dark-haired woman's expressions.
"What does it mean?" Her voice was soft against his ears and not at all like the guttural thrust of Mando'a, or the whingeing of the Alderaanian wind.
Milo inhaled; he could taste snow and mountains, perhaps even stars. "'I'm still alive, but you are dead. I remember you, so you are eternal.'" Heat crept to his ears and he gave her what he hoped was a nonchalant shrug. "I know it's a bit simple, General, but I always thought it sounded nice." A memory returned to him and he chuckled despite himself.
The Jedi gave him a faint smile. "What is it?"
"My brother – one of my brothers – was something of an expert on Mando'a curses," he said after a pause. "Grant made it his life's work to learn every single swear-word he could..." He trailed off with a frown. Probably not the most appropriate topic of conversation with a Jedi Knight. Or a female. "Er...not that I would ever repeat them, General." He considered saluting again, but thought back to her sigh and decided against it.
The Jedi laughed, leaning back and tugging on the railing as she turned her face up to the sky. "It's okay, Mi. I won't say anything if you won't." She glanced at him, brow lifted. "I've been known to swear upon occasion, myself."
For several minutes they stood beside one another at the balcony's edge; Milo noticed that a spread of wispy clouds were starting to move across the sky, urged along by high-altitude winds. The temperature was dropping but he was only cold on his face. A surreptitious glance at the Jedi showed him that her skin was pricking, but she made no move to go inside. Idly, he wondered what she saw in Stonewall, what it was about the officer that differentiated him among the thousands of his brothers. Milo wondered if he'd ever meet someone who would look at him the way he'd seen her looking at the captain.
"Do you mind telling me their names, Milo?" Her voice shook the thoughts away and he felt a flash of concern that she'd read his mind, but her eyes on him revealed nothing but curiosity and – he realized – sorrow.
"Grant was a spitfire," he said after a pause. "Nothing scared him – ever. Well, missing a meal, but that's not too unusual among clones, I guess." She chuckled at this and he felt a flash of satisfaction. Grant would like to know he made a Jedi laugh. "He liked to tease everyone, but he could take it just as well as he could dish it out, so no one really minded."
"He was the fan of Mando'a curses?"
Milo grinned. "Yeah. Good old Grant and his swearing. He got better about it once we entered real combat. The COs didn't care so much for it, you see. But in the mess or in the barracks..." The words trailed off, but he could see that she understood.
After another pause he folded his hands and stretched his torso over the railing, tilting his head to watch the cirrus clouds that were filling the sky. "Spades was just the opposite. But he wasn't quiet...he was..." There was a pause while Milo frowned in thought. "He was careful. He didn't like to take unnecessary risks. Not that he was a coward," he added, sitting upright. "Spades wanted to make sure that we always came back from each mission alive and whole. He always put his brothers' safety first."Something caught in his throat and he tried to swallow it down.
"I wish I had known them," she replied in her soft voice. "They sound like good men." Blinking, Milo looked at the Jedi, realizing that he'd almost forgotten that she was there. As much as he wanted to say something in reply, he only nodded and turned his face back to the sky. After a few more minutes she glanced at him again. "Would you mind teaching me that phrase? Is it...okay if I use it?"
It was not the last thing he'd expected to hear from the Jedi, but it had certainly not occurred to him that she would ask. "Of course," he replied, straightening. "Mandalorians aren't picky about who uses their language, so long as your intentions are good." It took a few repetitions of the words, but eventually she was able to recite them back to him with accuracy. The last time she did so, she said a name, very softly, that he almost didn't catch.
As if sensing his question, she gave him a sad smile. "My first master, Jonas Ki. He was killed when I was just a girl." There was something in her tone that told him there was more to the story, but it wasn't his nature to pry. Her hand crept to the lightsaber at her hip. "This was his. I've never been able to use my old one since he died."
Milo smiled, only because the concept was so familiar. "That's very Mando of you, General." At her perplexed look he explained. "It's common to take an item from one who has fallen, a weapon or a piece of armor. Like the recitation of their name...it keeps their memory alive in your heart."
She looked down at the saber hilt but made no reply, and he wondered if he'd said something stupid. However, after another minute she met his eyes. "That's a lovely sentiment, Milo. Thank you for teaching me the remembrance." The clouds were thicker over the stars and it was darker all around them, save for the small bit of light emanating from the room behind.
"You're welcome, General Halcyon." She sighed again and he felt a flash of apprehension. "General? Is everything okay?"
The dark-haired woman shook her head, a half-smile on her face as she reached forward to put her hand on his forearm. "No, Mi. Everything's fine." The wind picked up and he realized that his cheeks were going numb; she gave him a knowing look. "You should get inside before you freeze."
It didn't sound like an order but he decided not to risk it. "Good night, General." He turned to head inside.
Her head inclined as she watched him go. "'Night, Milo. Sleep well."