Rey learned Shyriiwook when she was thirteen, fourteen, fifteen; the Erwin boys had picked up a Wookiee mechanic from the Kashyyyk system who was going to make all of their ships hyperdrive-capable and they hired Rey on a provisional basis to hand the Wookiee mechanic tools. It was a waste of time for everybody involved--the mechanic because she had to teach Rey enough vocabulary to ensure that she’d be handing her the right type of wrench, Rey because she could’ve done the mods herself and for a lot cheaper, the Erwin boys because they had gone out and spent three months bribing mechanics until they found somebody good enough for their ludicrous standards--but it means Rey can understand filthy mechanic’s Shyriiwook and that’s something, as it turns out.
“The droid is a piece of shit,” Chewbacca says to Rey when they’re repairing the Falcon, apropos of Rey asking him when he’d moved the box of spare Chedak parts.
“That’s not nice,” Rey says.
R2D2 beeps aggressively, Nobody asked you, asshole.
“She asked where the box of Chedak parts is,” Chewbacca says, presumably to R2D2. “I moved the box because some droids can’t keep their fucking hands to themselves.”
Fuck you, R2D2 beeps.
“Boys,” Rey says, and then she feels weird about it. “Come on, I just need another fastener for the subspace antenna.”
Staring balefully at R2D2, Chewbacca reaches behind himself and pulls a handful of fasteners out of what appears to be nowhere. He’s not been hoarding, exactly, but he’s been watching everything that Rey and R2D2 to do the Falcon with hard, narrowed eyes. Under Captain Solo, Chewbacca had been a laconic piece of muscle, muttering threats and punching things. Most of his threats had involved ripping people’s arms off and shooting them in the face. He’d seemed like a nice guy under all of it, like being mean was just part of his job description.
Captain Chewbacca, however, is a hardass.
“Thanks,” Rey says, leaning backwards and snagging the fasteners one by one with the tips of her fingers. The Falcon is a piece of junk, she’d been right when she’d told Finn that the first time, but now it’s a piece of junk with history. It’s a piece of junk that’s flown more jobs than Rey could daydream about and lived to do more. Rey’s never been part of a legacy before, and now she’s right in the middle of one.
The Falcon is Rey’s now, as much as being XO makes a ship yours. Before they take it on so much as a puddle jump across half a system, Rey’s going to make sure that every terrible modification and hidden tracker has been ripped out of the hull.
Come on, R2D2 beeps in a whining, droning tone. Give me something to do.
“No,” Chewbacca says. His head’s buried in the hole where the sensor dish used to be and his voice reverberates through the hull to echo around Rey’s ears. “Go away.”
R2D2 gives a loud, wordless exhale of screeches and wheels off loudly. Rey hears him bang into the side of a box of explosives and then reorient. She waits until he’s gone completely out of earshot and then she says, “Captain?”
Rey thinks, R2D2 is useful to keep around. Droids can do delicate work and he knows the ship. She thinks, He feels guilty about Captain Solo and wants to help. She thinks, Neither of us are going to fit into the electrical hatch to fix the sensor dish wiring.
Rey says, “Do you have the soldering iron over there?”
Too hyped to sleep, Rey brings supper--double rations!--and an ancient datapad full of cosmic specs and known geography of her destination system with her when she goes to visit Finn.
“Can you believe this?” she whispers to him. She has the datapad on her lap and has her plate of double (!) rations propped on Finn’s bed next to him, as if they’re sharing. “This planet’s got double rings and a dozen moons--the smallest one is only a hundred Imperial kilometres across, can you believe it?”
Finn doesn’t say anything, of course, because he’s unconscious. Rey dips a piece of bread into the acidic sauce that’s today’s dressing for the solid protein and stuffs it into the corner of her mouth. “Both of Jakku’s moons were enormous. This flight sim I used to love was all about exploring their moons.” She flicks the surface of the datapad with her finger, sending the schematics of Ahch-To’s smallest moon up into a 3D holo projection.
“Look,” she says to Finn softly, putting the datapad on his chest so that the moon is hovering over his head. “It’s got two major craters here, and here. They’ve been mapped cursorily but the moon isn’t viable for terraforming so nobody’s looked much further. This one looks kind of like a greeper, don’t you think?”
Rey gently peels one of Finn’s eyelids back. “Here,” she says. “Chewbacca says that he remembers everything from when he was in an induced coma, so I hope you remember this. Isn’t she beautiful? A hundred Imperial kilometres across!” She lets Finn’s eyelid close, watching to make sure it seals properly.
The holo projection is shivering gently; Finn’s chest is rising and lowering, slowly, evenly, like he’s asleep. He’s sort of asleep.
“I wish you could come,” Rey whispers.
General Organa assigns half a dozen experienced pilots to teach Rey how to map a series of untraceable jumps. “What am I, a dismembered arm?” Chewbacca mutters irritably as he’s gently elbowed to the side by Admiral Pavlova and her protractor.
“The fundamental step of an untraceable jump series is a back-and-loop,” Admiral Pavlova is saying, ignoring Chewbacca. “The annotated rests on the map are key--they tell you high-traffic areas with dense air traffic, ideal for refueling and noise cover--but the order that you visit them should be unpredictable and varied. There are certain options that are more appealing than others and I’ll walk you through those. Mac, where’s the sample map?”
A nearby petty officer says, “It’s right there, ma’am,” aggrieved.
“Right where?” Admiral Pavlova snaps, shuffling around a pile of transmissions read-outs and memory sticks. Behind her, Chewbacca rolls his eyes up to the ceiling and lets out a lengthy, irritated whine.
“Right there,” the petty officer says, pulling a chrome memory stick out of a pile of otherwise identical ones. He offers it to the admiral with a delayed, polite, “Ma’am,” and then pulls back. Rey watches him and Chewbacca make eye-contact, sigh in unison, and return to looking at the display screen.
With the sample map plugged into the display screen, Admiral Pavlova draws a series of straight lines with a stylus and her protractor. “All right, these are our minimum distance markers. Can I get circumferences on these?”
Rey knows how to plot a circumference on a display screen, but Admiral Pavlova isn’t asking her. Rey’s purpose here, for some weird reason, is to listen to a bunch of stuff she already knows how to do so that she can learn something new. She’d tried interrupting at first--“I know how to do that,” she’d said when Admiral Pavlova had painstakingly detailed how to log onto the distance-plotting software, and she’d been summarily ignored--so she says nothing as another petty officer types into a keyboard, staring straight ahead with a blank expression.
There’s impatience simmering under Rey’s skin; she’s been ignored before, had her skills maligned or misunderstood, had to fight her way out of a situation where she had been underestimated, but a militant obsession with an ordered way of doing everything is new and newly frustrating.
Chewbacca is grinning at her. “Trust the military to take something fun and fuck it up into something boring,” he says to her at a normal human volume; it’s Shyriiwook for whispering.
“All right,” Admiral Pavlova says loudly; it’s unclear at this point if she understands Shyriiwook. All of her straight lines now have circles around them, and she taps the ones that overlap so that their shared regions are highlighted in red. “These are our danger zones. Rey, you’re going to want to avoid these.”
“Okay,” Rey says. She tries staring at the screen to see if it makes her feel less irritated; it sort of works. The resolution of the display screen is very good, she realizes, and certainly better than anything she’s seen before. “Couldn’t I just assign each of the annotated rests a number and use a random number generator to make a visitation order? If any of them fall within the red areas, I can shuffle them. That’s better than a predictable order, right?”
Admiral Pavlova says, waspish, “That’s certainly an idea, isn’t it.”
Behind her, Rey can see Chewbacca slowly shake his head. “Han would’ve fucking wept,” he’s saying in an almost-undertone. “Un-fucking-believable.”
“She gave me homework,” Rey tells Finn. “And my own protractor.”
D’Qar is dissimilar from Jakku in a number of ways. Everyone is much nicer and food rations are for everybody, not just the people who can prove they’ve done their work. There are a lot of trees.
“It’s better coverage for lifesign scans,” Chewbacca tells Rey. They’re sitting on the hull of the Falcon, taking a break from repairs to eat supper. Clearly Rey’s fascination with the trees has been noted, because Chewbacca says this as Rey is updating him about the oxygenator.
“Oh,” Rey says. It’s conceivable, of course, that in a galaxy capable of producing everyone from Chewbacca to General Organa there’s room for a lot of different types of trees, but she’d still been surprised by them. They’re sort of like the ones on Takodana but they smell different--less damp, with more decay. Things in the desert shrivel up so quickly that they don’t have time to rot; Rey hadn’t realized what the scent was, at first. “Do they really? I thought most lifesign scanners could differentiate between humans and other organic matter.”
Chewbacca cackles loudly. “Yeah fucking right,” he says. He tears a piece of solid protein in half, scattering its dressing everywhere, and stuffs it into his mouth. “Your standard human versus plant, yeah, but it gets complicated when you’ve got species diversity. Have you seen a read-out for a lifesign scanner?”
Rey shakes her head slowly, licking her fingers. “No,” she says. “I mean, one of the simulators I used--there was one? But it was rigged, of course. A desert like Jakku, not a lot of background interference.”
“Fucking help that is,” Chewbacca says. “Hiding a base in a desert is begging to be found. If you want a barren landscape to hide you, you want something that interferes completely with infrared. A goddamn ice planet, for example.” Chewbacca makes a face, looking down at the dripping piece of solid protein still in his hands. “I think I froze one of my nuts off on that forsaken place.”
Rey says, “A whole planet made of ice?”
“The whole fucking thing,” Chewbacca says. “Listen, kid, if General Organa ever tells you that you’re being stationed on a remote outpost and that it’ll improve your interpersonal skills to be stuck in an igloo with a bunch of her idiot fledglings, you tell her where to shove it, okay?”
“Okay,” Rey says raptly. “What was it like? Was it cold enough that you had to worry about hull warping?”
“Please, the hull warping was a given. You wouldn’t believe what it did to the fucking electrics. Space is cold, sure, but Hoth was humid. A fucking nightmare.” Chewbacca shoves the last of the protein into the corner of his mouth, shaking off the dressing, and says, “Don’t get any ideas.”
“What ideas?” Rey says instantly. What would it be like, to see an entire planet made of ice? Rey’s seen holos of planet surfaces like that--one of her favorite simulators had a steep descent in the northern hemisphere of a planet where the pole had been capped in ice; if you didn’t get the trajectory right, you’d crash into and then through the ice and die--but she’s never seen one in person.
Chewbacca says, “That fucking idea, the one I can see forming in your idiot head.” He reaches across and flicks Rey in the forehead with a claw. It’s cold enough that Rey thinks he’s left some dressing behind; she rubs at her forehead irritably. “If you’re worse than Han, I’m leaving you on the nearest Mid Rim planet and you can find Skywalker on your own.”
Even though Rey is certain that he wouldn’t actually do that, she says, “If you leave me behind, this piece of garbage will collapse after half an hour in hyperspace.” It’s not an exaggeration; Rey knows a messed up piece of junk when she sees it, even if it is hers.
“No respect,” Chewbacca says balefully. “You and Baldy--kids these days don’t have the sense that God gave a fucking can-cell.” He means Finn, who hadn’t been able to shut up about the Falcon’s terrible crew quarters during the trip to Takodana.
“We have enough sense to know when the head flushes the wrong way,” Rey points out. “I still haven’t fixed that yet, by the way, so you should keep using the one on the flight deck.”
“For fuck’s sake,” Chewbacca complains. “What are you doing in there, then? I’m going to take away your wrench.”
“I’m fixing the oxygenator!” Rey says, outraged. “You didn’t let me finish before--the filter set is cracked, that’s why there’s leakage. We’ll need another set of filters, unless you don’t mind breathing mostly nitrogenous gas.” She glares at Chewbacca over the top of her plate as she licks the last of the dressing off of it.
Chewbacca says, speculative, “Atmo’s mostly nitrogen,” presumably just to be a dick.
The Falcon’s crew quarters are small and terrible but, like the rest of the ship, that’s because the Erwin Boys--and Duquesne, and Unkar Plutt--hadn’t had the sense of a desert greeper to leave well enough alone. There are posters of naked people tacked up on all of the ceilings and most of the bunks have padding that’s gone rotten and hard. General Organa had given Rey a line of credit for outfitting the Falcon again because the operation was technically one of interest to the Resistance and anyway, she had said, she didn’t trust whatever Han had thought of as comfortable accommodations.
There are separate berths for captain and XO and then a shared room for the rest of the putative crew, which is where Rey and Finn had stayed on the jump to Takodana. They’d ripped off the worst of the posters because Finn had said that the nipples felt like they were staring at him. After the external repairs have mostly been finished, Rey pulls down the rest of the posters, hauls out the bedding, and gives the whole place a thorough scrubbing that chases out all sorts of horrible space bugs and also a lot of dust.
Chewbacca empties the captain and XO quarters. He has a few boxes of things that he piles up on the tarmac outside of the Falcon and then at some point carts off. Rey thinks that these are probably Captain Solo’s things, taken to General Organa, but she values her arms enough not to ask.
The quartermaster on D’Qar is a very old-looking human named Gerbil. No one tells Rey that this is also the name of an animal for one full ten-day D’Qar week, so she doesn’t understand why Chewbacca laughs whenever Rey mentions going to see her.
“What do you want,” Gerbil says to Rey suspiciously the first time she comes by her office. She has a subterranean network of storage blocks that she rules from a tiny office packed with paperwork, small personal electronics, and fabric samples.
“Hello,” Rey says, because Chewbacca is the only person Rey knows who responds better to rudeness. “My name is Rey. Are you Ms. Gerbil?”
Gerbil stares at Rey and then says, “Drop the Ms.”
“Nice to meet you, Gerbil,” Rey continues staunchly. “I’m the first officer of the Millennium Falcon. There are some things we need that the general said I could talk to you about getting.” Gerbil is still staring beadily at Rey, first at her face and then up to her hair and down to her boots. She’s tall enough that she doesn’t have to hunch over her desk to see Rey’s feet.
“Rey, is it?” Gerbil says. She flicks her eyes up from Rey’s boots. “All right. The Millennium Falcon.” Her desk chair has wheels, it turns out; she spins around and yanks open a cabinet behind her desk without getting out of her seat. “Let’s see here,” she mumbles, and when she wheels back around, Rey sees that she’s dug up a memory stick with M. FALCON scratched onto the side.
It turns out that Gerbil has the Falcon’s specifications--down to bunk size, which Rey had thought to measure, and the make and model of the disinfectant dispenser in the head, which she hadn’t--and a record of every single item that had ever been distributed to the Falcon from her office. “This should be easy enough,” she tells Rey, flicking through various items received lists with her forefinger. “You’ll have to send the captain to receive the arms--I can’t issue that to an inferior officer--but I can get you the rest of it this afternoon. What’s your crew size and journey duration?”
“Two, and a droid,” Rey says. “I don’t--that is, the journey duration is unknown. General Organa thought it might be a full month; 48 D’Qar solar days.”
“Eighty days,” Gerbil says decisively, typing. “I’m going to put three crew plus droid, I know how that ship loves its orphans. Any expected skirmishes?”
Rey says, “Um.”
“Of course,” Gerbil says crisply. “This is the Falcon. Highly expected, I’ll make sure to get your gunner’s supplies filled. Captain Chewbacca’s bowcaster won’t shoot normal blaster ammunition so I won’t even bother but we’ll get you equipped with everything else.” She types very quickly for someone who looks like a battle droid with skin stretched on top; her fingers tap across the surface of her datapad quickly enough that it becomes a sort of droning noise. “Normal menstrual requirements?”
“Yes,” Rey says quickly, grateful to be facing a question she can actually answer. “That is--normal?”
Gerbil ignores this. “Please briefly describe your medical history. If you’ve experienced any of the following, say yes: anemia, asthma, bladder infections, blood transfusion, cancer?” She pauses.
“No?” Rey says. All she’d thought they needed was a few replacement mattresses and some disinfectant for the head. “That is, no.”
“Good,” Gerbil says, making a series of checks. She looks up at Rey impatiently and says, “Don’t just stand there, this’ll take a while. There’s a chair--somewhere.” She gestures at a pile of fabric samples. “Don’t sit on those, some of them are prototypes.”
Rey dutifully shuffles aside the fabric samples and finds a stool underneath. For lack of anything else to do with them, she holds them in her lap. “I haven’t really got much of a medical anything,” she tells Gerbil. Some of the squares of fabric are slippery; she has to hold them tightly to prevent the whole thing from slithering to the floor. “I broke my ankle once but I got it reset and it was fine after a few months.”
“Hm!” Gerbil says, scribbling at this. “Any surgical procedures?”
“No?” Rey says. A pile of silver-colored fabric squares makes a break for the floor and she has to clutch the entire mass to her chest. “Nothing. Really.”
Gerbil is watching Rey wrestle with the fabric samples. “Clothes?” she asks.
“What?” Rey says.
“Clothes,” Gerbil repeats, enunciating slowly. She stabs in Rey’s general direction with her forefinger. “Or is that it?”
Rey finds herself looking down at her chest--which is anyway a useless enterprise, because she’s holding a bunch of fabric in the way--and then back up. “Is there something wrong with my clothes?” she asks tightly.
“Absolutely not,” Gerbil says briskly. “But it’s my prerogative as quartermaster to outfit those under the general’s command.” She’s looking at Rey’s boots again. “Do you have an objection to something a little less careworn?”
Careworn is probably a nice way of addressing the holes in Rey’s clothes, but of course Rey has never had anybody offer her new clothing. She’d bought the boots because it was hard to scavenge anything in her size, but the rest she’d made herself, with steel needles and weeks of sore, prickled fingertips. Rey has so many things to love now, that belong to her--Finn, and the Falcon, and Chewbacca, in his peculiar way. There’s no need to hold on so tightly to her clothes.
“Um,” she says.
Gerbil says, “It would be a pleasure, Rey.” It’s spoken almost kindly.
“I--” Rey says, and then, frustrated with herself, “yes. Please. If you--wouldn’t mind. Yes.”
Before--before Finn and the Resistance, before Captain Solo, before Jakku--Rey had been sick. It’s a fuzzy memory, where bits of it are as clear as atmoshield and the rest is a kind of dazzling haze. Rey had been little and ill and she’d been sung to, to soothe her head. The actual song is gone; so is her mother’s face, and where they were, but Rey can still remember the feeling of cold water trickling down her throat, her collapsed body pulled together like a pillbug.
“I can’t really sing,” she whispers to Finn. “At least, nothing you should probably sing in a hospital.”
The day’s to-do list on the Falcon had taken hours, and then Rey’d had to go by Gerbil’s office to be fitted for her new jacket and pants. It’s late enough that most of the hospital staff is gone. The desert is quiet at night, with an uneasy stillness that speaks to things on the verge of collapse. In contrast, the hospital is almost overwhelmingly loud, full of stimulation and noise. Even though the lights are dim, Rey’s shoulders are tense and drawn up near her ears.
There’s no supper to share tonight, or datapads of exciting new planets to be explored. Finn’s breathing is steady.
“Oh, wa-oh,” Rey hums. “I’ll go easy there on my wa-ay, visit my la-aa-aady in her baa-aa-y. We’ll spend the da-aay and in the night-t-t she’ll ta-a-ake me down-n tooo her--”
The curtain across from Rey yanks open and Rey falls out of her chair, catching herself with fingertips on the edge of Finn’s bed. “Hey,” says Poe Dameron brightly but quietly. “I recognize that one.”
“Ah,” says Rey. “Well, it’s--a good one.” She has to shuffle backwards with her butt to reclaim her chair. She feels flustered, caught out singing a dirty song to Finn in his sleep, which is--ridiculous. It’s the only song she knows very well, and anyway it’s not like a pilot is going to call her out on bad language. Rey’s been living out on the flight deck long enough to know that Poe’s squadron gives Chewbacca a run for his money.
“A classic,” Poe agrees. He’s very attractive in a disconcerting way; Rey is grateful that he looks down at Finn instead of straight through her. “How’s our guy coming?”
“The same as yesterday,” Rey tells Poe. Finn’s eyes are moving behind his eyelids; the usual lazy sweeps. Rey should have brought something to show him--new specs for the Falcon, maybe, or--anything. Something. “I have to go soon--I was hoping he’d be awake before I left.” There’s no way to know how long she’ll be gone.
“He’ll get out of this one,” Poe says softly. He hasn’t made a move to sit, and he has one hand on the bed next to Finn, fingers spread out flat. “Somebody who’d steal a TIE fighter out of an Order of Ren ship isn’t going to let a little unconsciousness win.” It’s a hearty statement, said in an almost-whisper. Rey has seen Poe say stuff like this a half a dozen times before and it’s always been accompanied by back-slapping and head-grabbing, cheering and droids beeping ecstatically in the background. People say things like this when nobody is likely to contradict them.
“Of course,” Rey says quietly, because those two things have nothing to do with each other is true but otherwise unimportant. She knows that she and Finn will be together again.
After a few more minutes of silence, Poe asks, “How are the repairs going?” His fingers have curled; Rey’s been watching his hand. He’s knotting the blanket underneath Finn, tightly enough to make his knuckles pale.
“Nearly done,” Rey whispers back. Chewbacca and R2D2 still aren’t talking to each other, technically, but a week ago Rey had come back collecting their lunch rations from the canteen and had found R2D2 nose-down in the sensor dish’s electrical hatch, beeping placidly. “We might be ready by the day after tomorrow.”
Poe hums. He’s still looking at Finn, mouth lax, eyes very tender. It strikes Rey that despite his handsomeness, Poe might actually be a kind person. “And then you’ll head out?” he asks.
It’s strange how it doesn’t hurt as much to be the person leaving. Rey had been left behind and it had locked her in place, stronger than carbonite, a terrible burden of love. Rey wants to hold Finn’s hand and show him 3D holo projections of strange planets until he’s awake and they can explore them together, but scrabbling inside of Rey is a forcefulness and purpose that says go. It tempers her sadness in a way she hadn’t expected.
“Yes,” she says. “And then we’ll leave.”
As she proceeds through the post-landing checklist, Rey says, “I think it’s a good idea.”
“Of course you think it’s a good idea,” Chewbacca says from the co-pilot’s seat. “It’s your dumbass idea.”
It’s a good idea, R2D2 says.
“Nobody fucking asked you,” Chewbacca tells him. He looks over his shoulder at R2D2 and says, pointedly, “If you think it’s a good idea then I know it’s bad.”
Fuck you! R2D2 says. Like you have any better ideas, fuzz-face. He adds extra beeping onto the end, like the droid equivalent of sticking out his tongue and saying “nyah.”
Rey doesn’t think that Chewbacca is going to kick her off of the Falcon for speaking out of turn, since Chewbacca seems to respect people that tell authority to go fuck itself, but she bites back the first thing she was going to say and goes with, “It was just a suggestion.”
Chewbacca is staring at Rey’s face, eyes narrowed, like she’s a datapad he can read. “It wasn’t just a suggestion,” he says, accusative, pointing at Rey’s face. “It was an order.”
It might’ve come out as an order. “It wasn’t!” Rey says, offended. “Sir!” she adds after half a second.
She’s better at giving orders than you, R2D2 says.
“Shut up,” Chewbacca barks.
“It really was just a suggestion,” Rey says. She’s not quite contrite, since she knows she’s correct, but she’s heard so many of Admiral Pavlova’s lectures on respecting the chain of command that she’s going to have nightmares for the rest of her life about them. “We’ve done most of the vital repairs and we’ve restocked. We can wait until they put us on an exit list, or we can leave, tonight, and get out from under both Resistance surveillance and anything the First Order might manage to send.” When Chewbacca still looks like he’s mulling it over, she adds, “The Resistance surveillance is interceptable.”
“I know,” Chewbacca says, irritated. “Fuck.” He stares down at the dashboard as Rey makes a show of going through the end of the post-landing checklist, making sure everything has powered down properly. This is their second short run with the Falcon since the last of the major external repairs and the Falcon had run under Rey’s hands like it was purring. A piece of junk that could occasionally hit a sweet spot and purr.
“Fine,” he finally says. “Fuck it. R2D2, go refuel us. Rey, with me. We’re leaving in two hours, so no dawdling.” He shouts this last bit after R2D2 as he zooms off down the corridor to the exit, beeping excitedly. “No fucking blabbing to the other droids!” Chewbacca bellows. There’s no response.
Rey follows Chewbacca back to crew quarters where they stand together, looking around. Chewbacca is staring at individual places like he’s affixing them in his memory, or maybe he’s trying to recall if there are any last-minute changes that they haven’t managed to complete. Rey crouches down to drag the grate off of the main electrical hatch. She might as well double-check the life support systems.
A minute or two or thirty later, Chewbacca asks, “Did you say good-bye?” He’s been so quiet that Rey startles and burns herself on a line.
“Shit,” she mutters, sticking her finger into her mouth. “What?” she yells and Chewbacca’s head appears above her.
“Baldly,” Chewbacca says. “Did you go see him?”
Rey quickly looks back down at the fuses. “Yes,” she says. “Last night. I wasn’t sure if there would be time before we left.”
Chewbacca is quiet again; when Rey peeks up out of the corner of her eye, he’s still looking down at the top of her head. “Good idea,” he finally says. “Han was a fucking mess with people, you know. Every time we took off, I had to dig him out of the pilot’s seat to say good-bye to Organa. What a fucking nightmare.”
Rey hums in the back of her throat. She can feel curiosity burning there, rancid and sharp.
“The yelling, you would not believe,” Chewbacca says. “The two of them. Like my fucking parents.”
For lack of anything else to do, Rey concentrates harder on the fuses. They look fine; she unhooks one and checks the connection anyway.
Abruptly, Chewbacca says, “I’m resigning.”
Rey burns herself on the same fucking line. “Motherfucker,” she says, and then, high-pitched, “What does that mean?!”
Chewbacca props his elbow against the hatch’s opening and says, almost contemplative, “This captain job’s shit, you know.”
“No!” Rey says. She might be slightly hysterical. “I do not!”
“It really is,” Chewbacca continues. “Organa’s halfway up my ass about manifests and duty and the droid’s a piece of crap that won’t shut its trap and you have a serious inability to recognize and respond to authority.”
“I don’t know what that means,” Rey says, although she does.
“Ha!” Chewbacca says. “Right. Anyway, I’m resigning. Congratulations, you’ve been promoted.”
Rey is staring at Chewbacca; her finger smarts, because she managed to burn it in the same place twice, and she’s a full Imperial metre shorter than him because she’s down the hatch, as opposed to the usual half-metre. “I’m the captain?” she says. She sounds breathless. “You’re--making me the captain?”
“I’m not doing anything,” Chewbacca says. “I quit. You made yourself captain.” He’s still staring at Rey pointedly. It takes her a lot of seconds to realize why.
“Oh!” she says finally. “I hope--that is, would you consider staying on as my first mate, Cap--Chewbacca?”
Chewbacca lazily rolls away from the hatch and out of Rey’s field of view. “I’ll consider it,” he says. “How competitive is your offer?”
“You’d turn down a position on the best garbage in the galaxy? Surely you know better than that,” Rey says.
It’s hard to strike that playful note she knows that she needs; it’s difficult to pretend that this doesn’t matter to her. The members of the Resistance seem to thrive on pretending that everybody just happened to fall in with a band of idealistic revolutionaries and decided it wasn’t worth the bother to leave. The choices that Rey makes are deliberate and she won’t belittle them to make someone else comfortable.
When Chewbacca still hasn’t answered an alarming number of seconds later, she adds, “General Organa promised the Falcon’s crew medical and dental, also.”
Chewbacca says, “You’re the worst smuggler I’ve ever met. Seriously, you went with fucking insurance to sweeten the deal?”
Rey has never had dental insurance before. It seems like a fantastical thing. “Well?” she asks him. “Are you going to come or not?” She has to hold her breath as she waits for his answer.
“I accept your offer, Captain Rey,” Chewbacca says, finally.
Rey burns herself for the third time when she throws herself out of the main electrical hatch to hug him. She’s too ecstatic to pay it any mind.
“Welcome aboard,” she whispers into Chewbacca’s ammunition belt. In true Resistance form, he pretends not to hear.