Rey was on the Falcon, and with that realization came the certainty that she was dreaming; she was sitting in the co-pilot’s seat. Also, the ship was underwater.
It didn’t seem to hinder her movement; she was cutting through the sea just as easily as she did through air and space. An eerie blue-green light filtered through the cockpit viewports, wavering over Rey while she tried not to think of the havoc saltwater would surely wreak on every system.
“Nice job,” said Han Solo, slouched in the seat on her left. He gestured to the updated controls array and the new paneling on the bulkheads behind them. “Good to know I left her in capable hands.”
“Thanks,” Rey said, even though she hadn’t actually made these modifications yet, just sketched out plans for when she had the opportunity.
She shifted to face him, noticing that she was dressed in the rags which she had been only too happy to chuck in the garbage once the Resistance offered her something new. “Are you really here?” She knew that powerful Jedi could put in appearances after their deaths if they so chose, but Han was no Jedi.
And neither are you.
He winked at her. “Maybe. Interested in a friendly wager?”
She rolled her eyes at a slip of green darting past her line of sight. It was much brighter than the fish she had learned to catch in the shoals - the first fish she’d ever seen. “No wonder the general was always kicking you off her base.”
And suddenly she remembered. The general, and the Jedi, and the scavenger, and the smuggler at her side. Like figures on the deck of cards Poe had brought to the medbay to pass the time.
“Did you know?” She was surprised to hear no accusation in her own voice, not for him. She supposed there was little point in being angry at a dead man.
“Not at first. But neither did Chewie,” he added quickly, tapping his chest. “You carried too much desert-scent, all that sand and sun and wind. Never did like the desert. Almost died there once, you know.”
She drew her legs up and wrapped her arms around them, wishing she could ask. Maybe she knew the story already; maybe his telling of it would unlock memories that had been walled up for years. But she wasn’t sure how much time they might have.
Chin propped on her knees, she stared out into the water. “Why?”
Why did he leave me, why didn’t you tell me, why is your son so afraid, why did she lie to me when she held me like I was -
Han’s eyes were sad and kind, the exact color of the bitter earthy tea she drank to keep warm when it rained.
“You know I can’t answer that question, Rey. Any of ‘em.”
Rey snorted, hunching down in her chair. “What a shock,” she muttered, and implied something about his ancestry in Huttese.
He laughed, looking impressed, and despite herself she turned her face up to the sound. “Careful now, that’s your own family you’re talking about.”
“Family,” she repeated, reaching out to run her fingers over the shield controls. Somewhere in the depths a large creature belled out a sound that she could feel reverberating through the ship’s frame. It was impossible to tell whether it was mourning or joy. “I don’t even know what that means.”
“Sure you do.” He stood, stretching his legs, and regarded her with that crooked grin and more fondness than their brief acquaintance could account for. “I used to call you beek-monkey,” he said, reaching out to tweak her nose. “You were always clambering all over everything - trees, furniture, machines, people...”
Her throat grew tight and hot. “I’m sorry I couldn’t save you,” she whispered.
“That wasn’t your choice to make, honey.” He bent down, his broad hands on her shoulders, and kissed her brow. She closed her eyes, determined to remember this always, even if it was only happening in her own head.
When she opened them Han was walking away. He paused to glance back, holding up one finger in admonishment.
“You tell that boy I’ll be watching him.”
She pushed herself to her feet, her limbs feeling oddly heavy. “Wait -”
“Still gotta check the power couplings,” he muttered, ducking through the hatchway.
Rey sat up in bed - not her rough bedroll or the captain’s berth on the Falcon or her worn old hammock, but an actual bed. The too-soft mattress shifted beneath her weight and the sheet pooled about her waist.
“Rey?” Finn hoisted himself up on an elbow. “Are you all right?” His eyes were bright in the darkness. Like the green fish, she thought, and smiled. He lifted his hand to trace her lips and the tear tracks on her cheeks.
“I’m fine. Just a dream.”
He watched her face for a moment before nodding. Though he had never hesitated when they were being shot at or chased or mortally wounded, this was different; this felt quiet and new and fragile. But when she leaned into him his arms went around her at once. He lay back down, his mended spine curving to match hers.
“Finn,” she said, tucking her fingers beneath the collar of his shirt. “I have to go back.”
His grip tightened, but he sighed into her hair and said softly, “I know.”
Back to the rocky island on the crashing sea; back to the training she had abandoned; back to her past, to the lonely little cavern Luke Skywalker called home. Her father, by blood if not by practice - but that was up to her, he’d said. She had turned away in anger, in flight, though not before she saw pain break apart in his blue eyes. He could lift boulders the size of the Falcon, make flocks of seabirds wheel in concert over his head; this was the first time he had looked old to her.
Finn’s lips brushed over her temple and she smiled again, remembering Han’s warning. She’d tell him, but not now - not until she returned with Luke and Chewie, who still referred to Finn as “Big Deal” in the half-mocking, half-admiring tone for which Shyriiwook was particularly well-suited.
“But not right this second, right?” he asked anxiously. He yanked on the coverlet until it covered them to the ears. It had seemed too light for her to sleep comfortably until she discovered that Finn gave off heat like a sun.
“No, in the morning.” She raised her head to kiss him, framing his jaw in her palm. Even if they left the island immediately, she would have to plot a circuitous path through most of the map; that was how the Falcon had evaded several Order patrols. She hadn’t been nearly as careful on her way back. It was likely due to luck that she got through without having to fire a shot, as she was not on best terms with the Force at the moment. “Try not to fall into any comas while I’m gone, will you?”
“I’ll do my best,” Finn said with a solemn expression sustained for a whole two seconds before his face softened, his eyes crinkling at the corners. It reminded her of Takodana, when he’d said that she’d looked at him like no one ever had (at some point after she walloped him with her staff, presumably). “And you’ll...I don’t know, fly safe? Is that a thing people say? Fly true?”
She thought that it was indeed something people said; and she thought that if this was family, then perhaps Han was right. The way Finn had hugged her when she’d landed, his hands shaking just a bit, and back on Starkiller after running toward what he feared most instead of away. How Poe had always brought a blanket or an extra jacket during their vigil, draping it over her shoulders if she’d fallen asleep in her chair. The sound of laughter at the pilots’ table where no one had asked her questions, just offered a seat and a piece of buttercake. Chewie’s grumbling over whatever had most recently broken down and his growl of praise when she pulled off something fancy at sublight. And Leia too, even if she hadn’t found the words to tell Rey who she was - how she had listened while Rey explained all that had happened, letting her get through it before folding her into an embrace that tugged at something small and fractured in her heart. With Luke it would be harder, she knew. He had been alone for so long, just as she had. But at the very least they could start with an honest conversation.
“I will,” she said to Finn, curling closer into his warmth. “Because I won’t be flying alone.”