The scorching Jakku sun seemed to kiss her skin with an ardent glow, her brow glistening with shining beads of sweat as Rey looked over the desert land. It was a heated wasteland, filled with people similar to herself - abandoned and trying to survive. She pushed Jakku to the back of her mind, trying to forget how her parents had abandoned her under the whim of Unkar Plutt. She considered herself lucky to not have been traded as a slave at a young age. However, sometimes she wondered if that wouldn’t have been better. At least then she would have had an actual roof over her head. At least she wouldn’t have had to worry about whether or not she would have enough to scavenge to make that day’s portions.
Rey tried her best to not let her ill-fated past define her; she was now strong with the Force and by gods, she had endured even worse hardships since then. Yet the roads of her journey led her back to Jakku. “Why…?” she muttered aloud, her breath heavy as she crouched down and sifted her fingers through the sand. The feeling of the grainy ocean against her fingertips reminded her of her humble beginnings, and she grinned as she thought about her past once again. Every time she took a step forward she managed to take ten steps back. Did she return to Jakku to find some closure? Kylo Ren’s words danced in her head while burning into her thoughts:
‘They’re dead in a pauper’s grave in the Jakku desert.’
She wanted so desperately to search every inch of that scorched desert, so perhaps, in the end, that was why she landed here. Chewbacca remained in the ship, guarding it against potential marauders looking to make some credits. After all, the Millenium Falcon was on the watch list of just about everyone in the galaxy. She wouldn’t have been surprised if they’d been followed. However, her own intentions to come back surpassed everything else. Rey needed to know what happened. She would search the planet even if it killed her. Her tenacious thirst for answers coursed through her like the Force. She tried so desperately to break from it but she couldn’t help but to give in. Chewbacca was kind enough to accompany her to the planet, but she would be alone on this journey. Images of Finn, Poe, Leia, and Rose briefly entered her thoughts and she could only pray to the gods that they were doing okay to help garner strength for the Rebel cause once again.
As Rey said her goodbyes to her co-pilot, she found herself trudging against the thick sands of the desert. The wind howled, causing the grainy shrapnel to beat against her skin every now and then, invading her hair, her clothing, and any crevice that was exposed. “I didn’t miss this,” she murmured to herself aloud as she shook her head to see a waterfall of sand fall from her scalp. However, she stopped for a moment, as if sensing a presence from behind, just beyond her periphery. Could it already be a trick of the desert heat? No, that was silly. Shaking her head, Rey ignored the telltale signs of a familiar mirage that began to take shape- a dark, vague silhouette approaching on the horizon and growing larger and larger until they eventually came face to face. In her youth, she’d always imagined it was her mother or father returning for her; only to be inevitably disappointed when she squinted or blinked and the vision disappeared.
‘You come from nothing.’
Once again the words beat into her head, shaming her of her past. Kylo Ren wasn’t right. She wouldn’t allow his words to be fact. As she attempted to convince herself of this however, the feeling of being followed only heightened. Rey frowned, the crevices of her lips turning low as she gripped her staff and turned around. Her eyes widened - it was no mirage this time.
“Have you been following me this entire time?” she asked, looking at the figure only a few feet from her. Rey had let her guard down as her thoughts ran rampant in her mind; she wouldn’t let it happen again.
“Ever since Crait, more or less,” Ren replied easily. “Your actions are far too easy to predict, scavenger. Jakku? Really? Your survival skills are slipping.”
Kylo scanned their monotonous surroundings, squinting toward the distant sun and cursing its wretched heat. It was with great distain that he had trudged through the seemingly endless landscape of sand to get to this point.
Of course Ren had been wise enough to change his clothes in his pursuit of the young Jedi wannabe. His usual black garb was hardly inconspicuous against the tan dunes of Jakku.
He’d bartered for some brown slacks, boots and a cream-colored shirt as soon as he’d arrived on the miserable excuse of a planet. Kylo had cringed in disgust and nearly abandoned his plan altogether upon donning the articles, as the ensemble only reminded him of his scoundrel of a father.
However, the now Supreme Leader quickly shoved any thoughts of his complicated family history aside as he followed Rey, closing in on her primarily out of intolerance for the frankly inhuman environment.
It couldn’t come as too much of a surprise to Rey that he’d managed to find and track her here, considering they both had unfinished business since Crait. However, she was more than upset with herself for not recognizing his presence sooner. Their Force bond had admittedly weakened over that past months, and while Rey would occasionally feel small tugs of energy, she‘d refused to acknowledge them, effectively shutting Ren out. It was there now though- that familiar yet unnamable feeling, pulsing stronger than ever between them.
Rey’s hand strengthened on her staff as she glared at Kylo from no more than a dozen feet away. She rebuked him in every way, but she couldn’t sate her curiosity of him. There was so much she wanted to discuss since the throne room debacle. While he was a monster with an unstable persona to the rest of the galaxy, Kylo was something else to her - an enigma shrouded in black with a hardened past like herself. But Rey refused to admit that they had anything in common.
“You made your choice, Ben. What are you doing here? What do you want?” she demanded harshly. Her gaze was fierce, but Rey felt her stomach turn to knots as she met his dark eyes. She’d dare not show any sign of weakness now, but why did it pain her to look at him? Why, when they were together, did it feel like she was falling into an abyss and losing all control?