three years gone
“I’m home!”
Vidalu Na’an kicked the door of the dwelling open, a thickly wrapped package in her arms. Leigh snapped to attention, her memory processor whirring gently as returned to full function.
“It looks like you were successful with your mission,” she said evenly to the woman now bustling across the room. The droid made no move to help. If Na’an needed it, she would ask. Besides, human did not need to go far before she could spill the package onto their one table and start opening it. The dwelling where Na'an and Leigh lived together was small--a hut, really, provided by their employer away from the main worker's barracks--was packed to the rafters with work equipment acquired from years of odd jobs. There were very few surfaces remaining that could handle a package of that size.
“Yeah, turns out these parts cost more than they used to. And you know Petrikov. No more free repairs.”
Na'an rustled through the package for a bit before pulling a delicate chip from inside; she flashed it at Leigh, the chip's narrow conductive threads gleaming even through the clear packaging. "But hey, now that we've got tools, who needs him?"
Leigh regarded her friend for a long moment before responding. If her hologram had been enabled, she would have given Na'an a doubtful look. “You are not experienced with these kinds of repairs.”
“Oh, don’t be a baby. The parts are good, and we don’t have the credits for a professional. Just tell me what to do at each step, and we’ll be fine.” Before Leigh could protest, Na’an was pulling on her, bringing her body low enough for the human to clamber onto the robot’s shoulders. Leigh compensated by freezing up her moving joints below the waist; her body only rocked slightly as Na’an’s weight settled, and signed with resignation.
“Then I will instruct you," she rumbled, dialing down her nonessential functions and retracting the panel leading to her memory storage. “But there is no need to sit on me.”
The little woman only smirked. “Deal with it. Now, was it the blue wire I could disconnect first, or the fiberoptics?”
Na’an had always had small hands; even so, she had to move slowly and carefully in order to avoid jostling the delicate electronics under Leigh’s dome. As Na'an was the impatient type, Leigh had to pause her instruction several times, repeating herself when she could feel the human's fingers getting sloppy. Fortunately, once it was reachable, the burnt-out capacitor was easily removeable after a couple of wriggles, which both of them were grateful for. As the welder heated, Na’an spoke quietly, adjusting wiring.
“We’ve gotten another job.”
Leigh did not need to move to respond. “Oh?”
“Yeah.” Na’an nodded, tucking one loose braid behind her ear. She carefully re-routed holonet connectors into the new chip as she spoke, crinkling the fabric of her eyepatch as she squinted. “Noba came down with word today. Said the council’s declared fuel shortages, and the rest of the village can’t get their crops offworld with the current ration. Damn, these are tiny."
“Be careful, they spark. I assume you want to use our usual plan?”
"Was thinking so. Strip an abandoned ship of usable metals, sell the scrap somewhere on the Rim for fuel cells. In and out, nice and discreet. Sound good?”
“As long as we scan the ship this time."
Leigh paused for a fraction of a second as Na'an accidentally bumped her auditory circuit, anticipating that the woman would sound back with another retort. When she did not, she angled herself sideways, the gesture mimicking a human the human gesture of looking back.

"You sound disappointed."
Na’an grinned, smacking Leigh’s dome with her free palm. “Maybe. But stop moving.” Her image distorted wildly for a second, then adjusted as Leigh's visual circiut was re-connected to the repair. When the droid's cameras normalized, Na'an was already fousing hard on the last steps. “I mean, I know this area is technically within the Sith Empire, but we’re not fighting bandits off every month like I thought we'd be. But I’m used to that," she said, half-idly. "Hell, it’s probably for the best. Doc would never come to visit if it were dangerous. And who’d live here if bandits came that often?”
Leigh twitched, feeling the capacitor start with a sudden, pleasant pop. “Y-y-you probably would-d,” she said, hearing her vice modulate rapidly to its normal setting. “After all, they like you here.”
“Damn right. Farmers love me.” Na’an withdrew her fingers, allowing the panel to slip closed, and paused to lean over and peer at Leigh. “That feel all right?”
Leigh ran a quick diagnostic, the droid equivalent of holding her hand up to her forehead to check her temperature. “Coolant has in fact regulated itself. The repairs are not causing me any processing difficulty.”
Na'an sighed, then beamed. “Oh, good. I didn’t make you stupid.”
“Oh, shaddup.”
Na’an slapped at her again, laughing a little, then leaned down to press her cheek against Leigh’s slowly warming dome.
They were scheduled to leave the following morning. Leigh didn't believe in wasting time when there was an objective to fulfill, and Na'an would not consider keeping Noba waiting for the haul. A quick call to one of the farm's neighbors got them the use of his freighter, and Noba had already given them flight clearance...and neither Leigh nor Na'an was the type to pack much.
Besides, it was a long walk to the neighbor's.
Leigh's charge completed shortly before dawn, taking slightly more time that usual due to the power needed to finalize her new component's installation. Her dome glowed dully as she processed the small, empty dwelling in search of her friend.
Of course, Na’an was already awake. From the window Leigh could see her on the hill, perched on a high stump to watch the sunrise over the fields. She was shivering lightly, and as the droid watched she brought the heel of her hand up against her face. Leigh often caught Na’an compensating like this lately, rubbing at the socket under the eyepatch or cocking her head to the side to favor the remaining soft grey eye. Apparently, some grit had gotten under the lid that the human was too proud to seek assistance in removing. Leigh had warned her against just rubbing—after all the work they had put into the implant, it would not do to cause abrasive damage so casually--but apparently it itched too much to ignore some mornings.
Na’an had stopped rubbing at the eye; instead, she sat in the grass in a single, fluid motion to watch the dawn. She had become remarkably adept at stillness when she wanted over the years, seemingly melting into the background in every quiet moment. If not for the few flyaway hairs , if not for the leathers flapping in the breeze, even Leigh would have registered her as a statue or oddly shaped stone on resting against a stump.
Leigh left the dwelling quietly, and crossed the yard to the bottom of the hill. Not for the first time, the droid considered expanding her background data on her friend. In the last three years, they had gotten to know each other under certain...assumptions. As a result, much of what Leigh knew about Na'an from before three years ago---what Eliana Shan had known--seemed wildly incongruous. Some of the data matched, but other things...other things about this woman were either wrong or just...missing.
Like her tendency to just...slip away like that, looking out into the horizon. Was that something Eliana had never bothered to notice about her friend, that odd mix of high energy and thick, almost tangible quiet? Or was this not the way she had been before, and the Na'an she knew was an entirely different creature than the one her creator had known?
Maybe it didn't matter. Human beings were impossible to quantify some days. Either way, the sun was risen; they had to get quietly.

“What is it?” she intoned, breaking the silence.
Leigh’s question seemed to snap Na’an out of her reverie; she glanced over herself, looking vaguely surprised that she was still sitting on a hill looking out over Dantooine farmland. When she laughed, it sounded almost embarrassed.
“It’s nothing. I thought I heard something, that’s all.”

She stood and hoisted the blaster rifle over her shoulder, and patted the small bulge in her back pocket as she glanced back out again. Their small freighter was waiting out in the distance, a black spot against the fields scenting the air with wheat. Leigh paused, a space long enough for a human to notice, and Na’an noticed.
“Really,” she said, scowling. “C’mon, let’s go.”