Rey turned away from her packing, glancing over her shoulder to find Poe Dameron standing just outside the doorway of her temporary quarters. "Poe," she greeted with a smile. "Come in."
He was wearing what passed for civilian clothes around the Resistance base, and she was quick to notice he hadn't yet replaced the jacket he'd given Finn, though she knew he'd been spending hours mending that one as they waited for their friend to wake. At his side, BB-8 chirped a greeting, bringing a smile to Rey's face as she closed up her pack and stood.
"What can I do for you?" she asked, curious. She'd only met Poe very briefly, and most of their interactions since had been in passing as they took shifts watching over Finn.
Poe shifted, trying to appear relaxed, but something in his expression seemed uncomfortable. "I heard you're leaving soon," he said, his eyes sliding to her pack.
"I am," she said with a nod. She didn't want to, not really. Not with Finn lying so still in the medbay. Not with only the three days of rest she'd allowed herself. But General Organa's pain was like a fresh wound over Rey's heart, and being so close, with no way to block it out, was excruciating. There were so many reasons to find Luke Skywalker, and not enough reasons to put it off longer than she already had, though the general had urged her to take as long as she needed.
Poe nodded. "Well then, if you don't mind, there's something you should see. A recording."
Rey scrunched up her brow, confused. "What do you mean? A recording about Luke?"
"No." Poe looked away, rubbing at the back of his neck. "This recording is for you, specifically. It was left with BB-8 just before we set out for Starkiller Base. I only just found out about it myself, or I'd have come sooner."
BB-8 made a small sound of regret, beeping a long burst of code that Rey understood to mean that it was sorry for not finding her sooner but it had wanted her to be less sad, first.
"It's all right, BB-8," she assured, though her mind was racing. She had an idea of what was waiting for her, and she wasn't sure she was at all prepared for it. Still, there was no choice. Slowly, she sat back down beside her pack, the bed suddenly seeming hard and unforgiving beneath her. "May I see the message now?"
"I'll just…" Poe jerked a thumb toward the open doorway, obviously meaning to leave, but she held out a hand to stop him.
"No, stay," she asked, swallowing. "Please. I've a feeling I could use a…a friend, after this." She paused, then slowly raised her eyes to meet his. "If you don't mind, of course?"
He offered her a small smile. "No. I don't mind," he said, closing the door and taking a seat beside her when she offered.
BB-8 glanced between them, then rolled itself to the side of the room and activated the holographic recording.
It was Han. She'd expected it, but it still jolted her, a painful twist beneath her ribs. He was sitting in a room that looked as empty as Rey's, hunched in on himself and looking far older than he'd ever seemed to Rey during their brief acquaintance. He gave a deep sigh before he began to speak in a gravelly voice. "Rey. People like me, we don't usually get a lot of time for goodbyes. So I learned to hedge my bets when I could a long time ago. I hope you never see this message, but I know what I'm walking into, and I know why it might not go so good for me.
"So here it is. My last words, just in case. Leia'll bring me back and kill me all over again if she gets wind of this, but I think you need to hear this sooner rather than later."
Here, Han paused for a long time, seeming to gather his resolve. His back straightened, and he cleared his throat and said, "You were never supposed to get stuck on Jakku, kid." And suddenly, Rey's heart was pounding. "After Snoke got to Ben – after everything Luke was working toward was destroyed – your mom hid you there. You were so little, just starting your training. You couldn't have defended yourself then. She always meant to go back for you, but there was a battle, and she…she didn't make it. She died before she could tell anyone where you were." Han's eyes were imploring, begging forgiveness for a crime he hadn't committed, a thing that was no one's fault. "We never stopped looking, you know. Had to be quiet about it, because we weren't the only ones looking for survivors, but we never stopped. Me and Leia, we maybe went about it in different ways, but we…we never stopped. And Luke…I can't believe he would have, either. I think that's why he went to find the temple, because he thought maybe it would help somehow."
Han took a deep breath, his eyes closing, face scrunched up with an emotional pain that went so deep Rey was almost glad she couldn't feel it from the hologram. She realized that at some point, she'd reached out and desperately grasped Poe's hand, searching for an anchor. His fingers were strong and warm around hers, and it helped as Han finally continued. "Leia thinks Ben can be saved, and I want to believe her, even after everything he's done and all the pain he caused. But if she's wrong…Rey, if she's wrong, you don't hesitate. If it comes down to you and your cousin, you do what you have to to survive. No matter what."
His eyes opened. "When we met, you told me you were just a scavenger. But you're so much more than that, Rey Skywalker. No matter what anyone tells you, you better believe you're a hell of a lot more than that, and not just because you're my niece and I love you. I wish…" He sighed. "I wish I could've had more time to get to know you. Since it looks like I won't, promise you'll look after yourself. The Falcon is yours, and Chewie will follow you to the edge of the galaxy if you'll have him. Stay safe out there, kid. And when you find Luke, give him a hug from both of us. I guarantee you he needs it."
There was a knock on the door in the recording, and Han's head snapped up. The message terminated, and he disappeared.
Come back, Rey wanted to cry out, but the words jammed up in her throat and came out as a sob instead. Uncle, she thought, and of course he was, of course that was why she'd felt such a connection to him.
Too late. It was too late now, and bitter regret filled her at the realization.
"I won't ask if you're okay," Poe said at her side, still holding her hand in spite of how she must have been gripping his hard enough to be painful, to bruise. "But is there anything I can do?"
She shook her head, too fast, dizzying. "No, just." She sniffed, tears falling down her cheeks as she tried to get a hold of her emotions. "Just stay for a moment longer, please. It helps." He was calm. Surprised by all the revelations within that message, and who could blame him? But still calm underneath it, as though he knew that was what she needed right now.
"As long as you need," he told her. "What are friends for?" So saying, he tentatively wrapped an arm around her shoulders, letting her lean into him as she grieved for a man she'd known too briefly, for a family member she hadn't realized she had until he was gone. For a past she couldn't remember and a future that was all too uncertain. For a mother she'd never know and a father she was afraid to.
Soon, she'd go down and sit with Finn, and wish he was awake because she needed him desperately right now. Soon, she'd meet with General Organa – her aunt – and decide what to tell her about what she now knew. Soon, she'd take a deep breath, gather her courage, and say her goodbyes.
But for right now, she sat in a small room with BB-8 pressed against her leg and Poe Dameron rubbing her back gently, and she wept.