1. The shampoo comes in a small bottle with some variety of fruit plastered on the side. Rey turns it over. She turns it over again. She opens her mouth. Closes it. Looks up at Poe, who has frozen in the act of folding his clothes to stare at her.
“What?” he says. “Do you have a smell thing?”
“Some people, they get headaches from stuff like that. Is it a smell thing?”
“No,” Rey says. She unscrews the cap and takes a cautious sniff. It’s pungent and bright, kind of like that bottle of cheap perfume she found in the marketplace a few years ago. Not bad, though. “What is it?”
Poe sighs and sets his newly folded shirt down on the bed. “What does it say on the side?”
The Aurebesh looks like…well, like Aurebesh. A bunch of nonsense shapes lined up with exacting neatness on the label. Rey raises her chin and glares at him.
“I can’t read,” she says, sharply.
His cheeks darken. He shuffles his feet a little, avoiding her eyes, and Rey feels terrible. Honestly, though, why does everyone assume a scavenger from the armpit of the galaxy ever had time to pick up an alphabet book?
“Well,” Poe says at last. He runs a hand through his hair. “It’s a–let me take a look.”
She hands the bottle to him.
“Oh,” he says. “Bilaberry.”
She takes it back. “All right,” she says.
“You know,” Poe says, after a long silence in which Rey caps and uncaps the bottle, trying to decide if she likes it, and if she’d eat an actual bilaberry, should one present itself, “I could teach you–”
“I have Jedi things to do,” she announces, already power-walking to the door.
2. Finn introduces her to caf, which is bitter as high noon in the desert until she dumps three heaping spoonfuls of sweetener and half a cup of blue milk into it. Then she gets up, fixes a broken astromech, chats with Artoo, chases Finn, is chased by Finn, finds an old coin in the hangar and flips it until her thumb gets tired, makes a few modifications to the Falcon that she’s been meaning to make for months, and stands out in the rain for a while, catching falling water in her mouth.
Poe finds her on her bed two hours later.
“What’s wrong?” he asks, as Rey does her best impression of roadkill.
Rey waves a hand. “You drink that? For fun?”
Poe makes an adorably bewildered face. Rey drops the hand and groans into her pillow.
3. Jessika Pava, when not defying the laws of physics and good sense in her X-wing, is the best baker in the galaxy. After they drive the First Order off Dantooine, she makes a whole fleet of little pies, each flavored with the fruit of a different Republic world. Rey tries them all. The pta fruit tart swiftly becomes her favorite. She makes Jessika tell her the recipe and henceforth keeps a small, jealously-guarded stash of pta under her bed, nestled between the doll and the dried flowers.
4. There are worlds with shields of ice and great blades of black stone; there are night worlds and day worlds and worlds robed in perpetual dusk. She finally tries bilaberries, a whole fistful, staining her mouth and empurpling her lips. She dances at a festival on Ryloth, and maybe-sort-of-accidentally ends up married to a lovely young Twi’lek with sky-blue skin and violet eyes. She falls down a sinkhole on Endor and bashes her shin against a rock on Umbara and she falls asleep every night tangled in blankets and Finn’s gangling limbs. Luke makes her balance on one hand and lift rocks with the force, and he remains annoyingly cryptic about exactly when and where she'll be getting her very own lightsaber crystals, but when training is over he sits shoulder-to-shoulder with her and tells her stories about the first Rebellion.
She’s not sure, but this might in fact be what happiness feels like.
5. They’re on Coruscant when Poe comes into their borrowed quarters with a book. Rey sets down her cup of hot chocolate and eyes it.
“Light reading?” she asks.
“Actually,” Poe glances at the doorway; Finn peeks around the corner and gives her a nervous thumbs-up. “We were thinking that, you know, we could teach you. To read.”
Rey’s limbs have gone heavy. She swallows. “Read?”
“In Basic,” Finn pipes in helpfully. He’s still radiating anxiety, which isn’t helping at all.
Rey closes her eyes and counts to ten. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous, and she knows it and there’s nothing she can do about the leaden weight that seems to have settled in her chest, but she can be an adult about this, no matter how much she wants to hide under the covers and never come out.
“Don’t laugh,” she says, opening her eyes.
“Why would we laugh?” Finn demands, honestly bewildered.
Poe sits down next to her. “Hey.”
She sets her jaw. Her eyes are burning, just a little. It’s silly.
“I never had time to learn,” she says. “And anyways, it’s not as if there was anybody to teach me.”
“We’re not going to laugh at you,” Poe says firmly, settling the book in her lap.
Rey opens it. For a moment the wash of unfamiliar markings makes her want to throw down the manual and flee. She wants her AT-AT back, and the roar of the wind, the fear and the loneliness and the hunger, too. They weren’t good companions, but at least she knew what to do with them.
Then the moment passes, and she remembers. This is Finn and Poe; they’re not going to think badly of her. This is her home, out here in the universe. She belongs just as much as absurd shampoo or astromechs or Aurebesh.
“Right,” she says, crisply, to hide the waver in her voice. “What’s this one?”
Finn smiles, leaning forward, and tells her.