No one met them on the landing pad. Artoo beeped mournfully. Chewie nudged Rey forward, nodding at the rough path winding up the side of the windblown crag. She shouldered her pack and peered up into the mist, trying to make out something besides dark rock.
Her apprehension grew as freezing wind pulled at her clothes. Sure, she knew that not all planets were like Jakku, but this just felt so…wrong…
So lonely and lost.
Rey tried not to think about the fact that she hadn’t been alone since she left Jakku --- left safety --- and fell into the Galaxy. Before the something that held her, snapped at her heels, had kept her moving since she was five got a name; the Force.
Jumped, really, she thought wryly. It hadn’t occurred to her until Takodana, when Finn had traded a month of labor for a bunk on a merchant ship -- had walked away. She could have ended it back on Jakku. He was a hell of an in-fighter, certainly, but she had the drop on him. That would have been the smart thing. The First Order was ruthless, pitiless, but had a reputation for fair play. Of course, they made the rules, but in hindsight Rey was reasonably sure that they would have let her live. Maybe even rewarded her.
But, of course, she’d have had to let go of his hand.
He asked -- no, he wanted -- you to go with him.
And he'd come back.
No, she hadn’t been alone…Except for when she’d been strapped to that table, Kylo Ren’s presence prowling around the edges of her mind, trying to get in.
The first Force user she’d met.
She was so lost in her thoughts that she started when Chewie stepped up next to her. His huge form shielded her from the wind, if only for a moment, as he lowed gently in Shyriiwook.
[Don’t be afraid,] he said. [I know him. He’s a good man.]
He’s Kylo Ren’s Uncle. He’s Darth Vader’s son.
Rey squinted up at the mountain, and reached.
A presence -- she didn’t know what else to call it -- floated high up in the fog. Somewhere. Her apprehension grew - It was so faint, like heat shimmering on metal, waves distorting the shapes of the desert. A mirage.
She only saw those on the days of dangerous sun.
Rey grit her teeth and turned to face the path.
You can do this.
Rey nodded to Chewie, tapped Artoo’s dome, and started climbing.
It was rough going. The cold wind tugged at her limbs and moaned in the dark rock, filling her head with strange echoes. Gray fog muffled everything – save for the wind and the crunch of her boots, all was silent. She was grateful for her staff.
Rey was lightheaded when she reached the top. It must be the altitude. Add that to the vague sense of unease that had been creeping closer with each step, and Rey felt as though the cords in her legs were close to breaking.
But she snapped to full awareness when she spotted the pale figure standing on the edge of the cliff, gazing out across the dark water. Wind snapped in his worn cloak. The Force --- because that was what it was, wasn’t it? --- stilled as he turned to face her.
Rey all but staggered as a wave of sadness hit her. Their eyes locked. Swallowing, she reached into her rucksack and drew out Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber. She held out her offering and waited.
The gray, still-handsome man stared at her, the heat-shimmer of his presence filling the air. It chimed with a thin note of surprise as he recognized the lightsaber.
“I should have known,” he said, his voice rusty with disuse. A smile touched his eyes. Rey let out the breath she hadn’t known she’d been holding, and stepped closer.
“I got it from Maz Kanata. She’s a – I’m not sure, exactly – she had a place on Takodana. It was in her cellar.”
“The last time I saw that, I was holding it. In a manner of speaking,” said Luke. The metal tendons of his right hand clicked loudly. Again, that smile. “I was sure it fell all the way to Bespin.”
“She didn’t say where she got it,” said Rey. Luke Skywalker chuckled.
“Must be a hell of a story,” he said, and turned back to the sea.
Rey shifted from foot to foot, the lightsaber heavy in her hand.
“Do…Do you want it? Master Skywalker?” she asked.
Luke shook his head.
“Don’t call me that. And no.”
Whatever she’d been expecting --- a hug, a fight --- it wasn’t this.
Rey stepped closer.
“Chewie and Artoo are here too,” she offered. “I know they’d like to see you.”
“Are they?” Luke said. This time he was smiling. Rey whirled around in panic as, far below, the Falcon’s engines roared to life. She fumbled for her comlink, but the ship hit atmo before she could activate it.
“Shavit!” she yelled. I am going to kill that Wookie! She turned and glared at her companion as a wave of mirth rippled through the Force.
The old bastard was full-on grinning.
“What?” she snapped. The Jedi chuckled.
“I’ll tell you later. Come on,” he said. And jumped off the cliff.
“Kriff!” Rey dashed to the edge, her heart in her mouth. She just spotted the rippling edge of his cloak before he vanished into the fog. There was a faint splash, and then, a shout.
Oh, for the love of…
Rey was very glad that she’d brought her climbing ropes.
“You’ve really got this whole ‘eccentric hermit’ thing down,” Rey grumbled a few hours later, sitting as close to the fire as she could manage without scorching her hair. She was bundled up in a scratchy blanket that smelled strongly of Wookie hair, her clothes drying on a rock next to the thankfully large fire.
“Do I?” Luke asked, tossing a handful of pepper into the stewpot, disturbingly chipper (and dry ) for a man who had been running around like a crazed gundark the entire afternoon.
The Jedi had led her on a merry chase around the island, starting off with a ‘shortcut’ through an underwater cave system, followed by a flat-out run along a rocky beach that seemed to be made of razor-sharp rocks and unexpected crevices, and culminating in a slog up the almost vertical path (which seemed to attract waves the size of starships, how the rock was still standing defied everything Rey knew about physics) to his hut…Which was really more of a leaky shack attached to a cave with a blanket over the entrance and some rugs for insulation. Said leaky shack appeared to be a harsh breeze away from plummeting into the sea.
She’d been doing a massively successful impression of a drowned womp rat by the time they’d reached the rope ladder that was the only way up the last 100 feet of cliff. In any other circumstances, Rey would have admired the tactical savvy behind the setup – the ladder was only retrievable with the Force, and there was barely space on the ledge for one humanoid, let alone two. Anyone trying to get at them would be sitting ducks.
As it was, Rey huddled close to the fire and tried to sit as far away from the Jedi as she could. The food didn’t smell half bad, though…
“What’s in it?” she asked. He smiled that private smile again.
“This and that,” he said, and passed her a bowl. Rey spent a few awkward moments arranging her arms so that she could eat without giving him a show. She was really regretting leaving her only other tunic on the Falcon.
They ate in silence. Rey hung onto her focus grimly as waves of fatigue hit her every time she moved. Luke sat across from her on a thin mat, gazing off into the darkening mist, quiet in a way that would have been rather disturbing if she wasn't exhausted.
Finally, she put her bowl down. Whatever was in the soup had gone down well – her stomach wasn’t in knots the way it usually was if she ate so soon after a day scavenging in the Graveyard, and warmth was slowly flowing back into her limbs. It was…nice. Rey took a moment and shut her eyes, breathing deliberately in and out as her head cleared, shoving the pleasant post-meal drowsiness out of her body.
He was watching her when she looked up. The heat-shimmer was back. Rey flinched, despite herself, and thought of walls, of the brittle, rage-forged iron she’d cracked when she shoved Kylo Ren out of her mind. Skywalker’s shield…wasn’t. At least not from what she could see. It was as though he’d transformed his entire self into an inscrutable mass of energy. She couldn’t look too long without burning. In a manner of speaking.
Not like Ren, or Finn, or even General Organa, though there certainly were some similarities there…Her presence was more like a humid mist, full of constantly moving shapes, faces, and forms. Memories?
She didn’t know what to make of it.
“Why are you here?” he asked suddenly. Rey blinked.
“Why are you here?”
Confusion swamped her as he watched her through the fire.
“I – I’m here to train, to be -- “ she began. The words died as the heat-shimmer filled the cave.
“It’s all right,” Luke said. His presence hovered, barely perceptible on the edges of her senses. Rey braced herself for the assault.
“Would you like some more?” he asked, reaching for her bowl. “I think I might have made too much…” Rey’s stomach growled.
“Umm…Yes,” she said. Luke was still everywhere as he filled her bowl, but it was no longer strange. He wouldn’t come knocking without asking first. This was just him, settling in for the night.
“There’s a spare bedroll over in the back,” said Luke, when she’d finished. “It gets pretty cold up here, so you should probably keep the fire going tonight. I’m used to it,” he said, to her silent question.
Rey swallowed dryly.
“Give it a few days,” he said quietly.
“What?” Rey stared at him, incredulous. “But I have to!” She scrambled to her feet, her fatigue vanishing. Was he rejecting her already? “I have to be a-“
She stared. He looked up at her, his eyes cool blue pools. Inscrutable.
“Think about it. That’s all I ask.”
He began clearing a space beside the fire.
“Chewie will be back soon,” he said. “Now, you should sleep. It’ll be an early day tomorrow.”
Rey nodded slowly.
“All right. Master Sky ---“ He stiffened.
“Call me Luke.”
Rey nodded again, and offered a small smile.
“All right. Luke.”
She fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.