“So it is you,” Luke says, and that’s all.
Rey does not know what to say in response. She offers, finally, “It’s you,” because it is him, Luke Skywalker, still impossible for her to believe. Yet then she feels instantly foolish. What is she doing here, standing in front of a Jedi Knight and proffering the lightsaber his father built as if that were any explanation of herself at all?
She remembers, very suddenly, Han, and the memory overwhelms her like quicksand sucking her fast and immediate into nothingness. She lets her hand holding the lightsaber hilt fall, as Luke does not seem to be in any hurry to take it. “Han,” she says, and wonders how to begin, where to even start. “He—Kylo Ren....” She trails off. Making quite the first impression of myself, she thinks, and watches the way Luke’s face changes, how he looks young and old but mostly impossibly, achingly grieved.
“Yes,” he says; “I know.”
There is silence but for the wind and the distant sound of the surf crashing against the rocky cliffs below. It is a peaceful place, this planet that Luke Skywalker has exiled himself to—empty in every direction as far as Rey can see, and as far as she can sense. She wonders which of those extends the farthest; whether she can feel with the Force, now, beyond the range of her sight, her hearing, her heartbeat in her chest.
Han, falling to his death: but he had already been dead. Kylo Ren with the lightsaber, and Rey could feel the power of his triumph, the shocking wall of Chewbacca’s rage and grief and ohgodIfailedhim despair. How Han had reached out in his last moments with forgiveness, with empathy, with love, with such depth of compassion that Rey is certain she will never, ever find within herself, even if she tried.
She says, because it strikes her suddenly as she remembers all the stories she heard about Luke Skywalker and how he defeated the Emperor, and she cannot deny its truthfulness: “Han did what you would have done.”
Han, reaching out in forgiveness. Luke, reaching out in forgiveness. Rey, both hands closed.
Luke closes his eyes. “You say that as if it should comfort me.” She feels the totality of his grief and his guilt and his shame and it would bring her to her knees if she had not learned long ago to bear the weight of loneliness and despair. She wonders what he can sense from her—what he is reading from her now as she stands before him, whether he is looking at her in any way at all.
Luke opens his eyes. He holds out his hand. “Come,” he says, and takes the lightsaber when she passes it to him. There is something like a current between the two of them when they each have one hand on the weapon. Like wires crossed in the electrical paneling of a starship, and the way the electricity travels up your skeleton when you have to uncross them.
“This is an old weapon,” Luke says. “It has more history upon it now than it can bear. You fought with it?”
It is a question, but it is not.
“Yes,” Rey says.
Luke looks down at the lightsaber hilt. Closes the metal fingers of his right hand around it, slowly. “You should not have had to.”
She flashes angry at that, just briefly. She did not fight this hard and come all this way to be told that all she had struggled to do should never have happened, so that Luke Skywalker might somehow assuage—or amplify—his own guilt. She is shocked by the clarity of that thought and by the aggression of it. She wonders what is happening to her, even here—what has been happening to her ever since she first touched that lightsaber in Maz’s place and understood that everything she had ever known had not been all there was to know.
She struggles to find something to say and comes up with nothing. He is not what she expected, this man, tired and heavily cloaked and pensive and aggrieved. She can sense so much from him that it frightens her. Even after she began testing her abilities, pushing herself to her limits, she had not been able to read anyone so quickly or so completely as she can read Luke Skywalker, though she does not understand what she perceives. Is this something about her, or is it something about him? She cannot tell.
“I did what I needed to do,” she says. “He killed Han. He hurt my friend.”
“Finn,” Rey says, stung.
“Of course,” Luke says gently. “I’m sorry.” He looks down at the lightsaber for one more moment, and then hides it within his robes. “There are things we can see and things we can’t,” he offers in way of explanation. “If you have come to me looking for a Jedi Master, I’m afraid you will be disappointed. I am not one, and I am beginning to believe that I never will be.”
She is silent for a moment. “I came looking for answers,” she says at last. “And a myth.”
His smile is a shock, but a welcome one, and it lifts the darkness from his brow and gaze. “Those, at least, I hope I will have in plenty.”
She follows him along a different pathway of stairs than the one she took to find him, a steep staircase carved into the cliff face and leading down, slowly, towards the water below but never quite reaching it. He makes her dinner in the small cave where he seems to live. It is furnished to a degree: bedroll, kitchen area, a place to sit, a fire pit, a stack of what Rey thinks, but cannot be sure, are books—paper and ink, not light on datapad screens. She has never seen a book before. Her fingers itch to turn the pages, but she stays in the seat Luke has provided for her.
Awkwardly, she says, “Chewbacca and R2-D2 are at the ship. I didn’t know how long I would be gone.”
“They will wait a while longer,” Luke says, and continues preparing the food. Reluctance: strong and powerful. He is not yet ready to see faces familiar to him, no matter how many lightyears they traveled to be here and how many people died along the way.
Selfish, Rey thinks, and then feels badly about it. She knows all about selfishness. Sometimes it is necessary.
“Why here?” she asks when it becomes clear that Luke is not going to speak any further. “Why this planet?”
A brief silence. The sound of the fire. It is warm against Rey’s knees and face, and she is grateful for it; the air outside the cave had been cool and getting cooler rapidly as night approached on the tiny planet whose name she still does not yet know.
Finally, Luke rasps: “No sand.”
It is enough to shock a laugh out of Rey. “You too?”
His smile is gentle, his eyes faraway. Responsibility, she thinks. “Yes,” he says; “Tatooine.” He looks at her. “And you—Jakku.”
It’s not a question either, but she nods. Her heart has started to race in her chest—does he know, then about her family?—but his eyes dart away and he offers her nothing else.
“The star map you left,” Rey begins, but she is interrupted when Luke hands her the bowl of soup he has prepared. She takes it clumsily, not expecting it. He offers her a spoon, and she takes that as well and has to gather her thoughts once more. Her thoughts are things that must be gathered now, as if there is too much in her head happening all at once for them to stay gathered all on their own.
“The map,” Luke prompts her.
“Yes.” She is flustered, flushed. She misses Jakku, even all the damned sand, because at least there she had never felt so vulnerable and afraid. Even when she had stood face to face against Kylo Ren with a lightsaber in her hands, she had not felt this frightened. “Why did you leave it? For who?”
“For you,” he says, “but you knew that.”
She had, but she had needed to hear him say it. “Why?”
Luke hesitates. Sips several spoonfuls of broth, looking tired. “You will forgive me,” he begins, “if I am not yet able to tell you everything you want—and deserve—to know all at once. I have not had a conversation with anyone but myself in quite a long time. And there are some things, yet, that I must figure out how to say. That is one of them.”
She accepts this, but dubiously. What’s so hard about how the answers are said, so long as you have them? But she supposes that they have time for prudence. And Luke has more reason than most to consider the heaviness of the weight of the things he says, the lessons he teaches, considering—
“Will you speak?” Luke asks. “I know some of what has transpired while I have been away, but only pieces. And I wish to know how your journey has been, what you have done, in your own words.”
“There’s a lot to say,” she says; “I don’t understand most of it.”
“Neither did I, at the start.”
Somehow that is the acceptance and olive branch that Rey needs to start speaking, and she lets everything that has happened to her spill out like water, like truth. She tells him, every bit of it: BB-8, and Finn, and the Millennium Falcon. Han and everything that came after. When she gets to Kylo Ren, she falters for a moment, wondering what to say, what she should even call him.
“It’s all right.” Luke is not looking at her but into the fire. “Please, continue.”
When she tells him what happened after Kylo Ren captured her, Luke shifts. It has grown dark outside, and the fire has burned low so that it is difficult for Rey to see clearly. “You resisted him when he tortured you?”
He says it so plainly, torture—she has not wanted to call it that since she escaped. It hurts to hear it. “Yes.”
“I should not be surprised,” Luke says. “No...perhaps I am not. There were times when I could not resist him that way.”
Rey blinks. “How is this unsurprising, then?” Shouldn’t it surprise him that she, untrained, a nobody, had done something that he could not?
Luke smiles. “Tell me the rest. I am planning how to tell you.”
So she does: how she escaped and Finn’s return; Han’s death. Luke’s mechanical hand closes over nothing, over empty air, but he does not speak again until Rey finishes her story with the defeat of the First Order and how the Resistance found its way to Luke at last.
They sit in silence when she has finished talking. They stare into the fire, now little more than coals. She feels heavy after telling her story: it is the first she has heard it like this, each event after the other as it had happened to her. She wonders if Finn is all right, if he feels at home in the Resistance; what General Organa is planning next, because the First Order had been defeated but not destroyed.
“We should rest for the night, I think,” Luke says at last. He looks up and meets her gaze. “I must beg, once again, for your patience with me.”
She is surprisingly reluctant to give it, but does. She is exhausted; climbing all over the craggy mountainous cliffs has taken its toll on her. She is not used to walking on hard ground, without the give that sand has. “All right,” she says, and Luke sets out a bedroll for her near the fire and disappears outside for a long time before returning, finally, to sleep himself.
That night, she dreams.
It is like the vision she had at Maz’s place on Takodana. She feels it more than she sees it, and what she hears are echoes more than they are newly created sounds. She is standing on a planet of sand, the wind whipping into her eyes, but it is not Jakku. In the distance, a village screams and there is the flash of a lightsaber, blue, which she recognizes. Then, by a waterfall, she watches a woman, young and dark-haired and grieving, dip her fingertips into the pool and draw them across the surface. A figure cloaked as Luke is cloaked stands by her side and looks grim.
The dream—the vision—changes. Lightning; plasma; the robotic fingers of a prosthetic hand shifting. Rey is dizzy and wants to wake up, wants not to see any of this, wants sunlight and dawn. When she wakes, it is because someone in the dream took her by the shoulders and threw her down a long shaft, and she fell and fell, and when she looked up she saw a face she recognized but has never seen: Luke’s face, but young, already scarred, and frightened.
She wakes to silence and dim gray morning light. Luke sits by the opening of the cave, looking outwards.
“You have shared my dreams tonight,” he says quietly without turning towards her. “I am sorry. I have fallen out of the habit of shielding my dreams from others while in my solitude. It won’t happen again. Leia used to complain that she could see my dreams from star systems away.”
Rey sits up, shivering. It is cold and she has slept poorly, and she is angry and disturbed by the things she has seen in the night. “Do you dream often?”
“Every night.” Luke hesitates for a moment. “Do you dream, generally?”
“Not often that I can remember. Sometimes. Never like the vision I had on Takodana, though. Or like your dreams last night.”
Rey sits up and puts a shawl around her shoulders to ward off the chill. She wants to go outside and be by herself awhile, walk along the shore and the water, find a place to wash her face, but first she thinks there is something that she must ask. “Who were they? The people in the dream.”
“I suppose that much at least deserves an immediate answer, since I so carelessly forced my dreams upon you.” Luke looks out over the water. “My father. And my mother.”
Rey sits a moment. She thinks of the woman by the water, and the man wielding the lightsaber in the village. “What was your mother’s name?”
She knows Vader’s: Anakin Skywalker, before his fall.
“Padmé.” Luke sounds sad and tired. “Leia could tell you about her. She would tell it better, at least.”
Rey stands and starts to put on her shoes. Luke lets her do so without questions. Before she leaves the cave, she turns and says, “Do you dream about them often, then, when you dream?”
Luke is silent. His hood is down, and in the early light of dawn the gray in his hair and beard is apparent. He rubs one hand over his chin. “Not so often as I dream of others,” he says finally, and Rey lets him leave it at that.
She walks for a while along the cliff sides, looking for a way to get down to the water, but she cannot find any paths. The cliff faces are sheer and treacherous, and she does not dare try to climb down any of them. So she climbs towards the top of the cliffs instead, where green grass grows, jagged and wild, and walks upon it barefoot for a while, listening. She finds a small stream and washes her hands and face and wonders what Chewbacca and R2-D2 are doing, whether they will come looking for her or stay at the Millennium Falcon until summoned.
She wonders how Luke traveled to this planet. She has not seen any sign of another ship so far, and it seems that Luke has been here for a long time, indeed—several years most likely. Did he come here directly after he left, or did he wander elsewhere first?
There are so many things that she wants to ask him. She wonders when he will speak, when he will start giving her the answers that he claims to have but is so reluctant to share. She wonders how long he has been alone and why he chose this. She knows more than her fair share about solitude. She has never found, personally, that it yields many answers. Doubts, griefs, and regrets: yes. More than enough of those.
She is sitting cross-legged in the grass, enjoying the cold sun and the green and the fresh air (the smell of salt present even so far from the water), when she hears Luke approaching behind her. He comes slowly but steadily, bearing a wooden staff as a walking instrument. He sits beside her and offers her a small pouch, which she takes. Inside is a small handful of berries, nuts. She has not seen any trees or bushes so far on the planet.
“Where did you get these?”
“There is a grove on the other side of this island. I have been tending it, though it is wild. Food is present in this place, if not overly plentiful.”
She thinks of Jakku. “It seems more than enough.” The berries are dark, and bleed purple on the tips of her fingers, and they are tangy but pleasant to eat. The nuts are small with hard shells that she has to split with her fingers. She does so, and they both eat in silence, Luke with his own ration pouch.
“Are you frightened?” Luke suddenly asks. There are distant clouds near the horizon, but that is all. Everything else is clear blue sky, and when Rey looks over she can see it reflected in Luke’s eyes, like crushed glass, sharp.
Why does he ask? Surely he can sense her trepidation and anxiety. “Yes.”
He smiles again, that strange way he has about him: wry, not quite amused but something else, something other. “I’m sure you won’t want to hear me say ‘that’s good,’ but it is.”
She wipes her fingertips off on the side of her trousers, a small pile of shells from the nuts at her side. “Can’t you feel whether or not I’m afraid?”
“That’s not how it works,” he says; “not always.”
“Is there a way, then, that this works? One way?”
He hesitates. “No.” He looks down and sets his pouch aside. It is odd to see his mechanical hand bare in the sunlight. He says, for no apparent reason that Rey can decipher: “You’re like Leia.”
“You can sense what I’m feeling, I expect.”
“I—yes,” Rey says, confused. “Not all the time, though, but—” A lot, she thinks. “Is that not—not usual?”
“Not for me,” Luke says; “but I was always like this, and Leia was always like you. Mind like a steel trap. Did you know she resisted an interrogation by Vader when she was nineteen? Much in the same way that you resisted Kylo Ren.”
Luke sounds pained when he says both their names, as if he wishes to refer to them some other way but has chosen, for the moment, not to do so.
Rey thinks this over. “And you’re not like this?”
“Vader pulled many things from my head,” Luke says. That terrible sad smile again. “And so did Kylo Ren, many years later.”
Rey sits in silence. How terrible, she thinks: to have your own thoughts no longer be truly your own, to be pulled from your mind without your consent, against your will. She does not know how she resisted Kylo Ren—and she does not expect that she will be able to resist everyone, all the time, in whatever trials she may face in the future. But the knowledge that she can do something that Luke Skywalker self-admittedly cannot is—
A strange feeling. An alienating feeling. Somehow, it makes her feel even more alone than she already did.
“So,” she says; “I’m not sure I understand. You can’t sense, then, what I’m feeling?”
“Not precisely,” Luke says. “You shield your mind well. That is something that I have to deliberately do, with effort. I have not bothered to do so while you have been here. Though as I said earlier, I will at least shield you from my dreams from now on...and I could sense what you were feeling if I tried, perhaps. But to do so would violate the shields you have constructed.”
“I don’t understand,” Rey says again. “I haven’t constructed anything, I haven’t done anything at all.”
“Not consciously, no. But trust me when I say that you have done it, and done it very well.”
Rey sits there, thinking once more. What does Luke sense then when she is near? Is she a wall, a blankness, a nothingness where he is open as a book—as the saying goes—open like the sky above her?
She does not know which mental state is more a benefit—if either is in any sense inherently better than the other, except in the sense that, if untrained, one might let information slip into the mind of another that they had wished to keep secret, as Luke says he has done in the past.
“Could I let it down?” she asks. “The shield, or whatever it is?”
“Yes,” Luke says; “if you wanted to.”
He does not explain any further, and Rey presumes it is useless to ask for more information. She focuses inwards for a moment—feeling foolish and silly and far out of her depth—and wonders what she has to do; if it is simply a state of openness that she must reach, of vulnerability. But she does not know how she could get any more vulnerable than she already feels. She thinks back to how she had controlled the stormtrooper into releasing her, how she had focused then even though she had felt silly and frightened and vulnerable, and she tries to do the same now, but with herself.
There is a pause. The sky above is wide and bright, and the grass around them shifts quietly in the sea breeze, and then something shifts, and Luke says suddenly, “Ah. Yes, you are frightened, as you said...I suppose I have not been very comforting.”
“I’m not afraid of you,” Rey says. Her heart is pounding. “It’s everything else.”
“I am afraid.” Luke does not look at her. “Of you.”
She stares at him. She knows that he is not lying to her—he has not lied to her at all while she has been here, and she doesn’t expect him to start doing so. But she cannot fathom what he means—why Luke Skywalker would ever be frightened of her: of no one.
“I don’t understand,” she says, because it bears repeating; because it is true.
“I have asked you to give me time to think on what I need to say, and how to say it,” Luke says; “I have taken that time and then some. I have spent years here thinking of how to say these things to you and still am no closer to perfecting it than I was when I first came here. You must understand, Rey.”
It is the first time that he has said her name. It comes as a shock, that current again. She begins to understand, at least a little, what power her name can hold. Luke has turned to face her and is studying her intently, her reactions, her facial expressions. He is earnest and heartfelt and frightened, also—she can feel it. He was not lying to her about his fear.
“You must understand. I have done things wrong before and lost everything. Even lost things that were not mine to lose. This is dangerous. I know you know that this is dangerous, that who we are is dangerous—”
Who we are—the words like a scalpel to her neck, to her spine, who we are—
“—but there is more that you do not know, and it is my job to teach it to you. I have failed before. I have done it wrong before.”
Rey sits in silence, pensive. Luke is still searching her face, and she does not look away. She feels broken open now, with whatever defenses she had unknowingly placed around her mind now consciously lowered, and Luke Skywalker looking into her eyes as if he can see straight into her heart, her soul.
“There is something wrong in what we are teaching,” Luke says. He says it as if he must draw every word from his chest with extreme force of will, with great strength. He is hunched at the shoulders, earnest but burdened and Rey sees him, for a moment, as frail, his strength spent. “In what the Jedi teach. I knew this when I was young, but I did not know what it was or how to determine what it was. I went looking for history...I went to archives, to planets that had not been inhabited in thousands of years. I searched. And I saw the same pattern repeat itself throughout millenia: Jedi rising to the height of their power only to fall and inflict great grief upon the galaxy.”
He breaks his gaze with Rey now. She clings to his every word, seeking to understand.
“I feared becoming one of those Jedi,” Luke says quietly. “I thought that was the evil that I needed to fight. But I never realized that I could very easily become one of the teachers who trained and taught and raised a pupil who would turn upon me and all that I had built and make of it a ruin.”
“That’s why you’re afraid,” Rey says—suddenly, against her own conscious thought.
He meets her gaze once more. He looks tired, and old, and sad. “Yes. But you must understand—it is through no fault of your own that I fear you, but a fault of my teachings. The Jedi’s teachings. There is something broken at the core of what we teach. And I must figure out what it is, or else I cannot—will not—train another. If I cannot figure it out, I will not rebuild the Jedi Order even if the galaxy lies in darkness.”
Rey sits there like a stone. There is a hollowness in her stomach, in her head; she can sense Luke’s emotions, his sincerity, the intense sour color of his grief and shame for all that he blames himself for perpetuating: the iniquity within Jedi lore itself that has led people, for millenia, to fall to darkness.
“Have you?” she asks, at last. “Figured it out?”
He sighs. Here, now, the heart of his grief. “Not yet.”
“What if—” She hesitates. “I could help you, maybe.”
He nods, but slowly. “I have...thought that, yes.”
“When I was on Takodana, my vision—I saw so many things. Heard so many people I have never known....” She remembers it in pieces—how it had overwhelmed her, terrified her, how she has only just now begun to piece together what it all means.
At her side, Luke starts. “That voice,” he says. “You heard that?”
She tries to focus on what he must have sensed from her rememberings. A voice she does not recognize, whispering in her head. You are on your first steps. “Yes,” she says. “Do you—did you know him?”
Luke looks upset. “Yes. I have not spoken with him in quite a long time. He is beyond my sight now.” He pulls his knees up to his chest like a child, and it is unnerving to see him this way. “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” he says finally. “That was his name. My first teacher. One of the last of the old Jedi. He lived the end of his life in exile.”
Rey does not point out the obvious—that even after his first teacher died, Luke had still tried to emulate him: had chosen self-imposed exile as the solution to the wrongs he believed he had wrought. She is sure Luke is already well aware of what he has done and its implications. “You seem surprised that I heard him.”
“A little.” Luke exhales, slow. “He spent the last years of his life on Tatooine watching me grow up to be nothing there. It always—I thought about it, later. Why he followed me and not Leia, because he could have just as easily followed her. And I always thought it was strange that he never mentioned her—that it was Yoda in the end who told me.”
Rey does not ask who Yoda is, nor for Luke to clarify anything else—why Obi-Wan would have needed to follow Luke, why he and Leia had been separated from each other for so long. Luke is speaking now as if mostly to himself; as if he cannot see, any more, that Rey is still there.
“I wondered if perhaps he had made a mistake,” Luke says at last. “In the way that I would later—in our teaching.” A pause. “But it is good that you have heard him. It comforts me even while it vexes me.”
The sun above them has climbed past its peak and begun, slowly, to dip towards the horizon. Rey is beginning to understand how Luke could spend years here in thought: how he could chase himself in circles and never come to any satisfying conclusion.
“Did she ever train?” Rey asks out of curiousity. “Leia, I mean.”
Luke’s smile is fierce and bright and a shock to Rey: the most intense he has been since she arrived on this planet. “Oh, yes; she trained...though she has revealed it to very few, and those who know have not told her secret. She always feared that people would use her to get to me—though if anyone would have ever successfully gotten information from her that she did not want to give, I sincerely doubt. She is maybe wiser than I am, for she trained yet did not take the name Jedi. Maybe she saw the flaw in what we teach, though she did not know it, and turned from it.” He trails off in contemplative silence. “I do not believe she has chosen to use the Force since the day Ben left. Kylo Ren,” he adds, and he sounds pained and sad.
Rey swallows. She digs her fingers into the dirt at her side, feels the sharp edges of the blades of grass, the cool earthiness of the soil. So different and unfamiliar. As is all of this: so strange and new and frightening. She does not think she can face it alone, or even that she should.
“I need someone to teach me.” This she knows to be true. She cannot learn everything she needs to know about the Force on her own. “And I know it must be you, Luke.”
It feels strange to call him that, as if they are equals, peers.
He nods. “Yes, I know.”
“So....” She had not expected that. “You will teach me? Even though you are afraid?”
“Yes.” He pushes down his hood, and lets his face turn towards her bare and unadorned. “I did not come here right away after I left,” he says. “I traveled across many places in the galaxy—found maps like the one I left for you with R2. There were planets I visited in search of lost Jedi artifacts, Jedi teachings. Korriban. Yavin. Dagobah. Dantooine...others. I even tried looking for the lightsaber which you have brought me in the hopes that it might help me understand all that I had not yet understood.” He draws the lightsaber from his robes and holds it outstretched in the sunlight. It looks innocuous, innocent: not anything like a terrible weapon with a long, painful history, which Rey’s hands have now become a part of. “There are places that I must take you so that you can understand the things that I have learned and what I will try to teach. It will be a dangerous journey—and unpleasant. You will see things that you will wish you had not. But you will learn more than you could ever imagine.”
“And you?” she asks.
“Me?” Luke puts the lightsaber away and looks out over the far stretching sea. The wind moves his hair, and the sun puts a strange eerie light in his eyes. “I will learn, as well,” he says. “You will teach me in your own way. I need to understand what has been going wrong with the Force for lifetimes—for millenia. I will need you to help me do this.”
He turns and looks at her. “If you wish it, that is. I will ask much of you, and I hope that you will do the same of me in return. But it will not be easy. You will never be able to return to the person you were, or even the person you are now. You will change in ways that you will not recognize. And I cannot promise to have all of the answers or to always be here to help you. That is beyond my skill and my power and my heart, though I wish it were not. The most important things I ever learned, I have learned as a Jedi alone.”
Rey considers. She looks out over the sea, which the sunlight has turned green and gold and sparkling, so bright that it hurts her eyes to look at. She wants to dive in and swim and swim until she cannot see the shore anymore, until she is alone in all the galaxy, until she understands. She wants to rest on the ocean floor and watch the way light bends through water, through time.
She wants, more than anything, to understand. To help—to make right what has gone wrong, even that which went wrong centuries before she was born. She thinks of Jakku—the family she has waited all her life for. (Luke, at her side, shifts.) She thinks of Finn: whether he has awoken yet, whether he’s all right. Whether anyone’s looking after him. What would he want her to do?
The right thing.
And she thinks of everyone else: General Organa—Leia—how tightly she had hugged Rey just before Rey left to find Luke, as if Leia knew exactly the choice that lay before Rey; and Leia does, for she once had to make the same choice, and she chose her own path. Rey thinks of the pilot Poe Dameron and the torture he too faced at the hands of Kylo Ren. She thinks of Han: how he died for something he believed in, because he believed in it—because all the stories were true.
She thinks, too, of herself. Of time spent on Jakku in loneliness and mourning and solitude and isolation. How meeting Finn had been a revelation, even when it turned out he wasn’t a member of the Resistance. How as soon as she set foot on the Millennium Falcon and made it fly, she knew it would cost her something dear every time she left that ship. How the lightsaber had felt in her hands, cold and smooth, as she struck Kylo Ren down in the snow and heard the hiss of snowflakes evaporating on the red and blue plasma of their weapons as soon as they made contact. How powerful she had felt, and how afraid—how uncertain, but how right.
It is what she is meant to do.
She nods. Faces Luke, who is graying and tired and battle-scarred and gentle and nothing at all like she expected him to be, inscrutable and absolutely transparent at intervals. The weight of responsibility and legacy and history and eternity, all on his shoulders. She marvels that he has ever been able to carry it, and for this long.
“I understand,” she says. “I want to do this. I want you to teach me what you can.”
He smiles at her: gentle and crooked as always. She can sense his relief and his lingering doubts—about himself, about how to make things right. It is overwhelming to know someone like this—for him to know her in response.
“Thank you, Rey,” Luke Skywalker says. He takes her hand, just for a moment: rough knuckles and calluses. “And I want you to teach me what you can, as well.”