this is how
The Millennium Falcon, hyperspace
Finn’s sitting at the table in the common room, watching the little dejarik figures. Chewbacca’s been dosed with painkillers and is sleeping off his injury as best he can in the crew quarters. Han’s doing… something in the kitchen. Whether it will result in something edible remains to be seen.
The adrenaline’s ebbed enough that all Rey wants to do is sit and feel the rumble of the ship in her bones, so she does. She finds that if they leave the table alone long enough, the creatures start to fidget and shift. It’s oddly hypnotic in her exhausted state. Suddenly she’s very aware of Finn being right there, a warm presence that she actually welcomes. It’s strange, this wanting to be around anybody after having had nobody for so long: BB-8, Han, Chewbacca. But Finn most of all.
Han plunks down two trays on the table, blocking the projections.
“They’re not much, I know, but they’ll fill you up.” He looks embarrassed, like he should be providing something better. Rey takes one and starts eating. It’s hot, and more food than she’s eaten at once in a long time, which is really all she can say about them.
“It’s fine, thank you,” She says, and he wanders off, presumably to give one to Chewbacca.
She finishes eating and pushes the tray away. She shifts back, and Finn looks over at her, a warm smile on his face. He does that a lot, when they’re not running for their lives. She thinks she might have to see him do it more to figure out if she likes it or not, but she doesn’t object so far. His hand is right next to hers. She could reach out and touch it, but they’re not in immediate peril. She doesn’t need to lead him anywhere, and he doesn’t need to either. So she doesn’t.
“Come with me,” he says. Of course she’s tempted to walk away from danger, TIE fighters and stormtroopers shooting at her. But she looks at BB-8, the jacket Finn’s wearing, how he acquired it, and thinks about what’s been lost already. She can’t. It’s partially her responsibility now too. She doesn’t understand how he can be so vehement about running, after all they’ve been through, until she finds out he’s not with the Resistance at all.
Come with me, she wants to say. Whatever’s out there, it can’t be worse than a ramshackle freighter with a crew of questionable integrity, always looking over your shoulder without a legendary smuggler and his intimidating Wookiee companion at your back. And she’d be there too. She’s never shot a blaster in her life, but she’s a quick study, and she’s already saved his life. Twice. You’d be safer with us. With me. She doesn’t know where this fierce desire to protect this man she’s known for all of a day comes from, but she knows in her bones she would guard his life with hers.
In a life full of difficulties, staying put as he walks away is one of the hardest things she’s ever done. As much as she wants to run after him and grab his hand and ask him to stay, she has no right to stop him from leaving. So she doesn’t.
She does not expect to literally run into Finn, but there he is, along with Han and Chewbacca. She’s glad to see them all, of course, but he’s the one her heart leaps at. Chewbacca says something, and when she pieces it together, she hugs Finn, tremulous with surprise and gratitude. He presses his face against her shoulder, and she wants to close her eyes, make this little moment of joy and solace last.
“What’s he saying?” Finn asks.
“That it was your idea.” He snuck into a planet-sized base crawling with the people who terrified him most, that he was ready to run away from mere hours ago; and came back. For her. Nobody has ever cared that much, and it makes her chest ache with something she can’t really describe. She wants to lace her fingers into his, squeeze his hand and tell him thank you; but Han’s right, it isn’t the time. This is emphatically underscored by a great deal of blaster fire in their direction. So she doesn’t.
He looks terribly still laying there on the bed. It feels so wrong, a contrast to the blur of action and life she’s used to seeing from him. Dr. Kalonia has assured her that he’ll live, and probably make a full recovery.
“He’s young, and he’s strong, but it was a very serious injury. It’s best that he spends his time healing,” she says. Rey’s patted on the shoulder in what’s probably meant as a comforting gesture, but really, the only thing that will make her feel better is seeing Finn open his eyes and smile at her.
She wants to stay by his side until he wakes up, more than anything, but she has a mission. Quest, really, like something out of an old story. (She’s not quite comfortable with what that implies, her place in that sort of narrative; so she does her best not to think about it.) She wants to put her hand against his, feel his fingers press back in silent reassurance, feel his unspoken confidence that he has every faith in her. But he can’t, not in his current state. So she doesn’t.
“I’d forgotten what it’s like, having someone else around.” Luke says, breaking the silence of their meditation. Well, he had probably been meditating; she had been staring out at the ocean, thinking about D’Qar and the things--people--she’d left. “I’ve been left alone so long with my own thoughts it’s strange to hear somebody else’s.”
“So you can read my mind, then?” She’s not sure she likes this particular revelation, and for a moment she can feel cold metal around her hands and legs, a cruel, sneering presence pawing through her head.
He sighs, knowing he’s stepped in it again. “Ah, shit. Let me start over.” She didn’t think he’d curse. But he does: when he burns the porridge, while fixing the cranky old generator, when he forgets he has to deal with people other than himself. She feels bad she finds it comforting, that it makes him a little more human.
“The Force resides in all of us. It’s what we’re made of. You know that.” She nods. “And it connects us: parent to child, brother to sister, friend to friend. The deeper the bond, the brighter it becomes.” He reaches over and taps her chest, right above her heart. She’s surprised, because he doesn’t normally touch her outside of sparring. “Do you want me to show you how to see?”
“Yes.” He smiles at that, closing his eyes. He touches her mind, just a nudge, and she falls into that place inside herself, the one where she can see and reach out to the still pool/swirling current of the Force. It is both at once, existing in perfect harmony, in a way she thinks she’ll never tire of studying.
Look, he says. She recognizes a core of light as herself, and another one next to it as belonging to him. There is a thread, no, a line, between them; not weak, not strong, but one she instinctively feels will become brighter over time. (She also sees two lines radiating outward: one steadfast in its luminosity, another that looks like it’s weakening, and her heart aches.)
She looks back to her own, and sees a connection to another sphere, so bright it makes her flinch, even though she knows it’s all in her head. Oh. She feels Luke’s satisfaction as she finally figures it out.
I didn’t need to read your mind to know what was on it, Rey. I just had to look in the right place. And now you can too.
She opens her eyes to see him looking at her, a small, proud smile on his face. Eventually, it won’t be humbling. Today is not that day.
She gets up, dusting the grass off her pants.
“Where are you going?”
“We have to go back. We need to go home.” And when she started thinking of D’Qar as home, she’s not quite sure, but her heart lifts at the thought of being able to see it, and Finn, again.
He looks at her for a long moment, then nods. “You’re right. We need to take care of some things first, but we should be on our way soon.”
Practically no one is there when the Falcon lands at the base. She wonders if this was by request or out of respect for what is a ultimately private matter. The General is waiting, of course, as is her protocol droid. She does not expect to see the pilot (his name is Poe, she remembers), the one who helped Finn escape. The General and Luke embrace fiercely, and he says something to her that Rey can’t hear, but makes the General press her face against her brother’s shoulder and her body shake. She looks away.
Poe touches her shoulder lightly. “He’s awake. I thought you’d like to know.” Relief washes over her, so strong she thinks she might need to sit down right on the duracrete, but she forces herself to remain standing.
“Can I see him?” She asks. She’ll wait if she has to, but she doesn’t want to, not for a second longer, if she can help it.
Poe smiles. “Yeah. He’s been asking after you. Come on.”
Finn’s sitting up in bed reading when they arrive, BB-8 hovering protectively in the background. He grins wide when he sees her, and she has to wipe at her suddenly wet eyes, breathe deeply through the ache in her chest. If Poe notices he’s considerate enough not to comment.
“Come on BB-8, I think we should give these two some time.” He crooks his finger, an I mean it expression on his face. BB-8 moves towards the door, making a noise that’s not really translatable but sounds impertinent anyways. The door closes behind them with a hiss.
She sits down in the chair next to his bed. He’s still smiling, but softer now, like he can’t contain his emotions now that she’s actually here. She reaches out, cradling his cheek in her hand. He presses their foreheads together and she closes her eyes.
“I woke up, and you were gone. I missed you.” He says softly.
“I missed you too, so much. But I’m not leaving again. Not ever.”
She puts her arms around him, pressing her face against his neck. He pulls her closer, until she’s half on the bed and flailing for balance. She lands against him, close enough to kiss. He moves the little bit of distance between their mouths, cautious at first, then more assured, but still slow, unhurried, sweet enough to dizzy. He pulls away to breathe and she makes a noise, bereft. He laughs, amused but also pleased, and kisses her forehead, as if in apology.
She moves until she can tuck herself against his side, head against his shoulder. She can feel his lips against her hair, and she sighs, comfortable and at ease. There no longer seems to be any reason why she shouldn’t reach out for his hand and bring it to her mouth, kissing his knuckles softly before tangling their fingers together. So she does.