Han hadn't seen the sea in so long, and it reminded him of home although he couldn't remember the last time he'd considered Corellia home. There had been seas after as he traveled, but not like home and not like this – gray and stormy at the foot of this endless mountain.
He watched Rey reach the summit, walk close and then stop. Still in her odd scavenging outfit but the jacket she wore looked familiar – one of Leia's. Rey at least had survived Starkiller.
Han turned to follow her gaze and watched the hooded figure turn and push back the hood – one real hand, one metal…
"You need to get that fixed, Luke." Leia's soft voice rang in his head. Years ago now, Luke had been in the middle of replacing his old prosthetic when everything had gone to hell.
Luke focused on Rey, didn't see him either. The Jedi Master's hair was long and blown wild in the wind rising from the sea below and whipping around the island's rocks. He wore the Jedi master robes that Han and Leia had both told him did nothing but age him. Luke protested, with the slightest echo of the teenager Han had met so long ago. "I need to look older, they expect me to be older." Now he really did look like an old wizard.
But Han could still fill in the smartass kid over the lines. He swallowed around something in his throat – how had Luke lived here alone, Luke who always looked at the stars and imagined himself there? Luke who had come across the stars to try and save them at Cloud City?
Rey wordlessly pulled Luke's first saber from her bag and Han almost laughed to see her hold it out blade first. That girl needed someone to teach her to handle actual weapons – she thought everything was her staff. So Finn had survived too, or at least had given it to her. He cursed under his breath to see it. Bad luck, that was all it meant to him now. The only good it had done was let him save Luke's life that night on Hoth.
Silence for a long minute then Rey stepped closer. "Master Skywalker – this is yours."
Han could read the pain in Luke's eyes, almost feel it. So much gone wrong in so short a time. Everything they had fought for, dreamed of, gone.
Luke shook his head. "It's not mine anymore. You keep it, Rey, until you make your own."
"How do you know…." She dropped her hand.
Now he almost smiled. "I know a great many things – about you and how you came here. I heard the Falcon flying in."
She shook her head. "I didn't bring…"
"I know Han isn't with you. But he sent you to me, even if he didn't come. I know…" Luke looked straight at him then…
And Han woke from the dream with a start.
Where in the nine hells had that come from?
He had never seen that island and how would Rey know how to find Luke?
But the dream was as clear to him as the confines of the cell he was in and the shimmering force field of the front wall. His first half-hearted escape attempt from a cell with a conventional door that he'd hotwired, more a test to see if they really wanted him alive or dead, had landed him in here, on the possible reasoning that even Han Solo wouldn't try and run through a plasma field.
So he'd brooded and waited, trying to keep track of time. He'd stalked around his cell, getting his strength back. He'd watched First Order propaganda on the holo terminal meant to occupy him.
Waited. And thought, long and hard, from all the angles because there had to be some reason – some very specific reason – that the First Order had rescued him from Starkiller, spent time and effort bringing him back from death at the hands of his son.
Because he had always thrived on taking the most outrageous chance and turning it to his fortune, Han kept looking for an opening.
He closed his eyes to recall the details of the dream but the quick cadence of booted feet broke his concentration. Cursing under his breath, he saw the usual contingent of Stormtroopers, but this time they were trotting fast down the cellblock hallway. It was too early for the guard change. He got as close to the force field of his cell as he could. Something was going on – he could hear the distant echoes what sounded like explosions.
Under attack. Good. No matter what happened to him, if these bastards went down…
Then different footsteps sounded. He couldn't see but what the hell. Better to die on his feet knowing his attacker than waiting to be blown up in this cell along with the rest of the base.
"Hey! Who's out there?"
The footsteps faltered then started down the corridor. The angle through the field was bad but he gaped when Rey skittered into view, Luke's old saber in her hands, and dressed in black as Luke used to. He grinned as she moved toward his cell.
She stared as if she was seeing a ghost and Han drew a breath, realizing as he did that that was exactly what she was seeing. "I'm alive, Rey, real thing."
"But…." She snapped out of her reverie and sliced through the cell controls with her saber. She threw her arms around him as he stepped out. "You're alive! We…oh, you're alive!" She touched the heavy beard, smiling. "The General, Master Luke, Chewbacca…they…"
He tucked her against his chest for a long moment, reassuring himself she was real. "I know. They're gonna be in for a surprise."
At that, she pulled back. "Master Luke, he said we had to come here! But how did you –"
"Beats me. I fell off that gantry, sure I was breathing my last, and woke up in this station. Near as I can figure, I'm thinking Supreme Leader Snoke was saving me up to spring on Ben…Kylo."
Her eyes widened. "Kylo's here! Master Luke saw him, went after him…"
Han swore. "C'mon, then, we have to find them. You two didn't come here by yourselves, did you?"
She shook her head. "We stole a First Order ship. But part of the Resistance fleet followed us." She handed him the Stormtrooper blaster she'd slung over her shoulder, then started galloping up the corridor, Han on her heels.
"Yeah, I thought I heard the explosions. That's not all you two. Luke sent you here?"
"He said I should rescue any prisoners – are there any more?"
"Not on this block." He stopped her at the guard station, looking over the banks of controls. "But I'm sure there're more here – you didn't bring a droid, did you?"
"Artoo is with us – we left him at the hangar bay." She pulled out her comlink and handed it to him when he gestured. "Master Luke didn't tell me you were here! And he knew!"
Han laughed, shaking his head. "You haven't been training with him that long, have you? Luke lives for this. How did you find him – the map wasn't complete."
"Artoo had the missing piece."
He punched in a code on the comm and was rewarded with a familiar whistle. "Artoo, it's Captain Solo." The whistles and beeps were all surprise. "Yeah, I know, we'll both talk to Master Luke later. In the meantime, plug in and start releasing prisoners….yes, all of them. And anything else you can do to turn this place upside down."
Han changed frequencies but Rey shook her head. "I tried him earlier. He didn't answer."
"You know where he went, I hope."
"I have a general idea." She winced as he scowled and shook his head.
"One of these days, I'm gonna kick his ass. If we get out of here, remind me, huh? Let's head where you last saw him. Maybe you can home in on him with the Force."
Rey looked askance at him. "I'm not sure that's how the Force works."
Han grinned and palmed the elevator button. "Well, let's give it a shot."
Rey punched in the floor where she had left Skywalker, down further into the station.
"So Starkiller went down – the guards talked about nothing else but that…and when they were sure I was the only one around, Finn – FN-2187."
She smiled. "Somehow his story is everywhere. They all know about his defection."
He caught something in her tone. "Big Deal doin' okay?"
"Yes – but it was…oh, we have so much to tell you."
She slid out of the elevator before he could even cover her.
"Rey, dammit, get behind me."
She scowled at him, turning, and he reacted to the trooper advancing out of her line of sight and fired. He grabbed her and pulled her around the elevator bank.
"The Force doesn't make you invincible! Let me earn my rescue." He fired again at the troopers coming up on them. "Where are we going?"
"Back this way!"
Blast doors closed behind them, Rey led them unerringly through a maze of corridors until Han could hear the familiar hum of lightsabers, this time in combat. Ages since he had heard two clashing. They turned the last corner, deadending in a platform out over empty space. They were up half a level above the combatants. Han winced at the memory, then saw --
His hair was as Han had seen it in his dream, but he wore his Jedi blacks again, the old familiar green blade in his hands. Luke was poised at guard, his feet in that solid stance that looked unbalanced, until anyone tried to move him.
The other figure in black…oh, Ben. What in the galaxy happened to you? His son towered over Luke, in his own black clothing but that ridiculous helmet was gone. Han caught his breath at the scar down Ben's face.
The red saber was still spitting as Kylo swooped it around, as if daring Luke to make a move. "You won't win, Uncle!"
"I've already won, Ben." Luke smiled then and Han felt his heart lurch. Oh, how he had missed that smile. "I'm no longer the last Jedi. You and your leader won't stop us."
And Han realized exactly why Luke was a good two meters from Kylo. He aimed and filled the space between the two of them with a sizzling blast that Luke had been ready for and Kylo not.
"Great shot, Han!" Luke yelled, looking at him a split second as he started backing towards them.
"One in a million, kid!" Han shouted back and he almost laughed at his son's gaping expression, a look he'd not seen since Ben had been small and dazzled by his uncle's Force tricks. "Hi, son. Looks like you've seen a ghost."
Kylo turned to see him, screeching in pure rage. "You! You're dead!" He gestured futilely with his blade.
"I lived." Han aimed at his son, not sure he could pull the trigger but making a good impression nonetheless. Luke was falling back and Han wanted him out of Kylo's range. "Your Supreme Leader is wise. I guess he kept me around because he wasn't sure about you at all."
"There is no light left in me!" Kylo looked wildly between them, but the Jedi had moved out of saber range. "Coward!"
"I didn't come for you, Ben. I came for your father. Our time isn't now. It's still to come."
The whole platform shook as something exploded at surface level. Han fired at the space between Kylo and Luke again, then pivoted to hit a trooper coming up behind Kylo. "C'mon, Luke, let's go!"
Luke smiled again, raised a hand and Kylo himself was thrown back into the oncoming troopers. Then Luke leaped up to their level, vaulting the railing as if he did it every day. The Jedi had obviously kept up his skills. Han realized he and Rey were both staring as Luke charged up to them.
Luke stopped a half step. "C'mon you two. We need to start moving!"
They started back the way they'd come, as the explosions got louder. They stopped in an alcove, Han looking around. "So where did you leave Artoo?"
"Then that's our next stop, if you two Jedi can remember the way?"
Luke looked at Rey, who was smiling even as the station shook around them. "This one, always taking charge."
"Who the hell was the general, huh?" Han scowled at him. "One of these days I am going to kick your ass. Where the hell have you been, kid? You can't have spent five damn years on that island!"
Han turned his head to look for pursuers and missed the surprised looks Luke and Rey exchanged.
"Wait – how did you know –" Luke shook it off. "Now is not the time."
But Han looked back at him and they stared at each other, then Han moved as Luke did and for a long minute, embraced as if the world was ending. "I missed you, you miserable Jedi, you don't know." Han said against Luke's ear.
"Yeah I do. Missed you too, scoundrel."
Rey was scowling at them. "I thought you said hugs later! C'mon!"
They slid out into the corridor again as it shook from another explosion. "What'd you two come in?"
"First Order shuttle. Flew like an AT-AT with wings. Guess we'll have to take it to get back, though. Hopefully Poe won't blow us out of the stars."
"Leia'd kill him, he knows that. How is your sister doing, by the way? She give you hell for staying away? Like I'm going to when we get safe?"
"She's going to be better knowing you're alive. She and Chewie." Luke grinned. "And yes, she did give me hell, right, Rey?"
Rey growled at them. "If you two don't shut up –"
"I think your apprentice is officially in charge now." Han grinned. "Let's get the hell out of here before Leia's pilots take the whole place down."
"Sounds like a plan to me."
Getting to the shuttle was the easy part.
A squad of Resistance fighters was engaged with a fleet of TIEs as they climbed into space. Han was behind Luke at pilot and watched Rey's eyes widen as they dodged the first barrage. "Star destroyers. What a lovely surprise. Rey, get back to comm and raise somebody on our side." Han slid into co-pilot as she switched back. "You did steal an armed shuttle, right? I seem to remember teaching you that."
Luke looked at him with a sour expression. "Go to hell, Solo."
"Already been there, kid. Rey –"
"Black Leader, Black Leader, this is Rogue One – don't shoot us!"
Han raised his eyebrows at Luke, who shrugged. "Old habits die hard. And the original Rogue One was undercover too –"
"Rey?" Poe's voice crackled up from the comm, and Han pulled on a headset as Luke faked out three TIEs.
"Commander Dameron, this is Captain Solo. Unless you want General Organa to sic a very angry Wookie on you, you might want to give us a hand here."
Poe rattled the comm with an ear splitting cheer. "Yes, sir! Blue Squadron, form up on me!"
Han grinned at Luke as he thumbed off the comm. "That's presuming we all make it back in one piece."
"If you think I came all this way to save your sorry ass and get us killed now, you have another think coming."
They broke hyperspace at the edge of the system of the Resistance's newest base. "So did you tell her that you were coming for me?"
"Not exactly." Luke winced at Han's dark expression.
"What the hell did you tell her then?"
"That Rey and I were going to do some reconnaissance on a First Order Outer Rim operation, find out who was bankrolling them. We'd heard reports it was a Hutt, then we were going to get Lando involved…"
"You didn't tell her." Han strangled a curse. "Dammit, Luke, when the hell are you going to start telling us things?!"
The blue eyes narrowed as Luke turned on Han. "I was almost sure you were there. What do I tell her? I might bring you back from the dead but I wasn't sure? Bad enough I left, bad enough everything happened…then I get her hopes up? I…you don't know. I had dreams you were alive, visions, but I couldn't tell Leia. What If I was just…what if it was just a dream and you were still dead and we were alone?" He shook his head. "It's been very bad without you. For her. For me."
Han caught Rey looking discretely away out of the corner of his eye, but he focused on Luke. "Luke…"
"You're alive. I don't think she's going to care how or why. I know I don't give a damn." Luke closed his eyes, smiled when Han caught his left hand.
"I don't either."
They landed among the rest of the fleet at the new home of the Resistance, on a tiny field carved out of towering mountains. As they started down the gangway, Han looked for Leia in the midst of the techs and staff emerging from the base itself to see their fleet home, then saw her striding unerringly through the crowd to the shuttle, obviously seeing Luke.
"Some reconnaissance mission," she said sharply when they were in shouting distance. Luke smiled and Han hung back behind Rey, under the edge of the ship in the shadows, to enjoy seeing his twins reunited.
"Is that any way to greet your brother?" Luke smiled.
She crossed her arms as she stopped ten feet from the gangway. "When you risk my people on some damn fool mission, yes."
"Even when I bring back a present?"
Han took his cue and stepped down from behind Rey, who was bouncing on her heels and smiling. "Never thought I'd say this, but you should listen to your big brother, he's right every once in awhile."
Her mouth dropped open and before he could close with her, she'd run to him and he swept her up in the kiss he had so wanted to give her before he left for Starkiller. She was trembling in his arms and he was worried for a long moment when she didn't respond to the kiss. Then he was drowning in her again, as he always did when she kissed him. He wondered if it was some part of the Force he would never understand. When they broke for air, her breath hitched in a sob and he was near to joining her.
"He found you. We…oh, Han…"
"Might be something to this Force stuff after all." He drew back enough to see her, the brown eyes he loved shining. "Miss me, sweetheart?"
"Yes, you scoundrel, yes!" She hit his chest with her fist, then smiled through the tears. "That beard is awful."
"Yeah, I hate it too." He caught Luke trying to move back out of the corner of his eye and grabbed a black sleeve and pulled him over, sliding him into the embrace. "Don't you dare try and escape."
Leia looked from one to the other. "You two are not leaving, I don't care if I have to clap you both in binders for the rest of time."
"Sounds fun," Han teased as Luke rolled his eyes.
"C'mon. There's a Wookie who's done nothing but mope around this base without you."
Luke smirked. "I don't know how we're gonna tell 'em apart."
"Chewie's taller," Han shot back, smiling, pulling them under each arm as they headed toward the base.