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Small Invitations

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Looking back, Rey wished she had asked General Organa questions about her brother—the man she was crossing space to find, the man in whom she would be entrusting her future. What could she expect? What were his moods like? Who was he before his world burned down around him?

Those answers may have made things so much easier. Or maybe not. There was still so much she was unsure of.

Even after spending a month in his company, Rey couldn't figure out Luke Skywalker.

He wasn't unkind. He had easily accepted her presence on the island. He even seemed ready for what they had to do. It didn't hurt that he seemed to have known that she was coming. "I felt you approaching so long before you arrived," he told her once. "It seemed to take a lifetime."

But that didn't mean he accepted her other passengers. When she asked about Chewbacca and Artoo, he said, "They'll come to us in time."

"Will they know or will we send word for them?"

His brows knitted together for a moment. They relaxed with the release of a sigh. "We'll see."

His voice contained none of the exasperation Rey expected based on his refusal. There was no anxiety, anger, or frustration. There wasn't even a sign that he placing faith in the Force to show them all the right path. They—companions he hadn't seen in years—would just have to wait longer.

It was the moment she watched his manner with her. If she reached out, he pulled away. If she moved forward, he would take two steps back. He was avoiding her.

Rey would, on occasion, see him reach for her—a hand slipping forth to pull her up or guide her body into a particular stance. But just as quickly, the hand would vanish and he would guide her through verbal direction.

Rey never pushed the point, never expected the hand to catch hold of hers. She had learned long ago that others will do as they will and that one could only affect those actions to a limited extent. If something seemed peculiar but wasn't going to hurt her, she kept it to herself. She didn't know if he had even noticed her perception of his actions.

Still, she kept a mental tally of each near touch: when the invitations were made and how quickly they were rescinded. Some actions were of a "blink-and-you'll-miss" variety, so quick she almost dared not to count them. Others would linger for close to minute, hand almost dangling mid-air in search of a companion. Those gestures were ones she considered returning. But the mere thought seemed enough to send his hand back to his side.

He was, despite the small variations, consistent. She knew she would have to be the one to break the ice.

One day, she had felt him hovering over her during meditation. Her eyes shot open to catch him staring down on her, eyes narrowed. They soon widened and he took a step back.

"No, Master, wait," she said. She feigned an attempt to pull out of her crouch, rising up slightly before landing on her knees. "Please," she said, right arm extended, "I could use a little help."

Luke paused, eyes still wide. He seemed to contemplate for a moment before taking a step forward and taking her hand into his. Rey smiled and let him help pull her up.

She felt his hand start to leave her grasp. She cupped it in her right and said, "Please, stay a moment."

"What is it?"

Rey looked into his face, suddenly showing a concern she hadn't seen in their time together. "I'm here: for this and for you, Master. We don't have to be close but you don't have to pull away from me."

He closed his eyes and, for a moment, the worry seemed to deepen in his features. But then he smiled, broad and sincere, almost erasing years from his face. He placed his left hand on her shoulder and said, "I know, Rey. I really do."

"Do you?" she asked, her hands falling away from his.

"Of course. I don't mean to be distant. You...you're just going to have to be a little patient with me."

"I'm more company than you've had in awhile?" He nodded. "Then I can be patient."

"Good." His hand fell away from her shoulder and they stood staring at each other. "Rey?" he finally asked.

"Yes?"

He paused, poised to speak. But the smile returned and he closed his eyes. "Another time," he said softly.

Rey watched as he moved away from her. She waited, letting him get as far from her as seemed safe. Once he was out of sight, she let her legs give way beneath her, hugging the wall as slid to the floor. "Who are you?" she asked aloud. No one responded.