Nothing could’ve prepared him for this—not the repetitive memory songs drilled into him as a cadet, Major Stacker’s collection of smazzo hits, even the joyous cadences that had accompanied their journey into the city—this is light made audible, this is a wall of sound that strikes him until he resonates with it, until the very air in his lungs shudders as though if he simply opened his mouth it would sing on his behalf. It’s too much—it’s like he’s being unmade, or remade, or removed from himself—and somehow not enough, like drowning on dry ground, like if he could somehow inhale the sound he would be able to breathe again for the first time in his brief life.
He doesn’t realize he’d closed his eyes until he opens them again and finds they’re full of tears. A rough swipe of his hand clears most of it, but when he glances over Wooley is openly weeping; on his other side Kenobi’s face is dry, but he looks cracked-open and yearning, lost. Isolated, somehow, so Cody reaches out just enough to bump his elbow, to remind him that he’s not actually alone. Kenobi’s expression shutters at the touch, but when he turns to Cody it shifts to gratitude and he returns the gesture in a momentary burst of warmth against Cody’s unprotected forearm.
Wooley’s still crying when the music finally ebbs and subsides to something more sustainable, so Cody loops an arm around his neck and pulls him close, like the brothers they are. Here, for a little while, their ranks mean nothing. Wooley comes easily, presses his wet face against Cody’s shoulder as if he’s still a cadet in need of comfort, and they sit like that until the choir starts singing a fairly basic call-and-response that even outlanders like them can join in on after the first few verses—*Long life, good health, and light upon your way*.