Actions

Work Header

before the ending of daylight

Chapter Text

For Rey, the end of the world was just another day in Jakku. 

 

When the virus first broke out, Unkar Plutt had only forced her and the others to work harder in the hot sun and sand. It was just like the slimey man to seamlessly change his prior barely-legal business, to sending out his employees to scavenge for hard to come by apocalypse necessities. Rey still remembers the chaos of the stores, how people would fight over the last case of water bottles, a battered box of 6 granola bars. 

 

When it got dangerous, when the shelves were completely clear, stores boarded up and ransacked, Plutt just grunted and told her to start checking dumpsters. 

 

Rey had stayed for as long as she could, scavenging through the trash and fighting off hordes of people, both alive and undead, to find supplies for Plutt. She had still been holding out hope for her family to miraculously show up and whisk her away to a safe zone. 

 

The darker part of her would whisper. Why would they come now, at the end of the world? They haven’t come for 9 years. Why would that change? Now, she knew they were likely dead, had probably always been. Or she might pass them on an empty street, and they’d try to rip out her brain as part of the undead. Either way, she knew it was time to leave. 

 

Rey had watched as Unkar Plutt was bitten. She stood still, letting the ragged creature tear at Plutt’s flesh, did nothing as he screamed. Rey had thought about letting him slowly rot away until he was nothing but another brain-eater, but she hadn’t survived as long as she had by letting zombies freely roam. Rey felt nothing as she killed the undead hunched over her caretaker, her warden, her tormenter’s swollen body. 

 

She felt free when she smashed Unkar’s ugly, rotting head with the end of her staff. 

 

Now, Rey shakes the memory of Unkar away and continues stepping over the tangled branches and undergrowth of the humid forests of the Eastern United States. She knows she’s somewhere near Takodana, the last town she had seen Han. She had briefly teamed up with the old man and his mangy dog before they were separated by the unlucky timing of both a horde and an outlaw group attacking. 

 

Han hadn’t been surprised to see the rough-looking group of bandits. “I’ll take care of this,” he had grumbled at her, sounding almost like he was merely dealing with disgruntled customers rather than a bandit group roving the new apocalypse. He pressed a small gun into her hand. 

 

“I can take care of myself,” Rey responded, looking down at the dark thing in her grip. She had never held a gun before. 

 

Han had just looked at her, with something almost like fondness in his dark eyes. Rey remembered looking away, unable to face the old man’s look. He doesn’t even know me , she thought fiercely to herself. 

 

“I know you can,” Han said, his gruff voice tinged with exasperation now. He sounded like her mantra personified. Just another normal day . “We had a bad business deal. Nothing you need to involve yourself with. You get into the tree line and find me when it’s over.” 

 

She had only hesitated a moment before she turned and fled into the surrounding forest. Rey hadn’t survived as long as she had by letting herself get attached. 

 

She ran into a small horde at the edge of the woods, attracted by the noise. She had swerved to avoid them, ending up deep in the quiet forest, hands tight on her staff, gun tucked into the waistband of her pants. She waited for one hour, two, body completely still, before slowly picking her way back. 

 

Upon returning to the main outpost, Rey found nothing but silence, rubble, and the bodies of the newly-dead undead. 

 

Rey isn’t sure how long ago that was. Back with Plutt, she had been meticulous in counting the days. Now, the days bleed together in an endless cycle of wake, listen, be still , move, listen, stay still, still, was that a step, still , sleep, move. Her body aches with the effort of it. 

 

Rey catches the edge of her boot on a protruding rock hidden by the dense foliage. It’s only a lifetime of stillness that stops her from crying out as she stumbles. She stiffens and looks around the filtered green light of the trees for any sign of movement. She counts to 100, her muscles trembling with hidden exertion, before she moves on. 

 

I’ve gotten too used to being with other people, Rey thinks. Before Finn, before Han, she had always been on her own. She could take care of herself. Now, she finds herself jumping at every snap of a twig and loud exhale of her own breath without someone to watch her back. She can’t get used to such things. People don’t last very long anymore. Rey grips her staff tighter and moves toward what she hopes is west, toward California.

 

She imagines Han’s gruff voice, grumbling in that way of his. “You can’t just walk all the way to California kid,” he would say. Despite her weariness and the sweat stinging in her eyes, Rey smiles to herself. Even if it takes me forever, I’ll do it. 

 

With nothing to do but walk and listen for the shuffling sounds of the brain-dead, Rey thinks of another voice, one so familiar to her it’s as if he’s walking beside her now. 

 

“No, I’m telling you Rey, this guy was for real! There really is a Resistance. We can be safe there.” 

 

Rey rolled her eyes. “Finn, you don’t even know this Poe. He could be lying to you. How many times do I have to tell you there isn’t some magical safe zone?” 

 

“What do we have to lose? Maybe Luke Skywalker is the real deal, and he can find a cure? Shouldn’t we at least try?” 

 

Rey finds herself unexpectedly teary-eyed thinking about Finn, her first real friend. It’s not quite a funny thing, falling more on the line of sad or even pathetic , that it took the end of the world for Rey to make a friend.  

 

Finn had firmly believed there was a safe zone in California, conspicuously called the Resistance. “What are they even resisting?” Rey had asked, her voice hard. “Death? We’re all resisting that.” 

 

In the end, Rey had been too skeptical to believe him and too foolish to stray too far from Jakku, and even the kind and patient Finn couldn’t find another reason to stay. 

 

She doesn’t know if he is alive or dead now. She likes to imagine he found his way to the Resistance. If he is dead, Rey will find the way for him. She doesn’t want to admit it to herself, but having a place to go is the only thing keeping her going at all. 

 

Coming across a clearing in the woods, Rey decides to stop for the night. She finds a tree with sturdy branches and clambers up to a spot well out of reach of any walkers, and hopefully out of sight of any living enemies. Rey sighs as she digs around in her threadbare backpack. She’s on her last granola bar she picked up in the last town. She bites off a dusty half, the crumbs falling across her shirt, and sticks the rest back in her bag among her meager possessions. She’ll have to make a supply run soon, probably tomorrow, although Rey has always been used to the gnawing pangs of hunger. Using the hooks of her belt, she straps herself onto the tree branch as best she can. 

 

She tries to ignore the emptiness of her belly, the dryness of her throat. The hunger, the loneliness, the waiting. It's been the same for as long as Rey can remember. Just another day, she thinks as she drifts off into a fitful sleep. 

 

—————————— 



Rey wakes with a gasp. She had been dreaming about killing Unkar Plutt, reliving the exact moment she brought her staff to his head. 

 

She swung the blunt end down with all of her strength, intent on crushing the face sniveling and spitting up at her. In the split second before the staff connected, Unkar’s head was suddenly replaced with Finn’s, his brown eyes large and staring. She screamed as Finn’s skull met her staff, unable to stop the smooth wood from tearing skin, shattering bone— 

 

Rey just lets herself breathe for a moment, shaken, her chest heaving. She strains her ears, listening for any movement down below; she isn’t sure her scream was just a dream. 

 

She gives herself 70 seconds, breathing in through her nose, out through her mouth. Still, still, be still. When all she hears is the summer-thick sound of bugs and her own breathing, Rey unbuckles herself from the tree branch and slithers down to the ground, stretching her back muscles with a pop of joints. 

 

Looking for the sun, she heads in the opposite direction. Not for the first time, Rey wishes she had a better innate sense of direction, or at least a compass, or a map, or even memories of what the country had looked like before the virus. In all her years of living, she had never left the sandy town of Jakku, had told herself over and over there was never any reason to leave.

 

 She wishes she could have seen the world from the before

 

Rey trudges through the forest, tripping over tree roots and waving away bugs. The hot summer sun filters through the foliage, and Rey feels the sweat drip down her neck, her clothes clinging uncomfortably to her body. This is nothing , she thinks. Just another day

 

Several hours pass like this, until the sun is directly overhead and the trees finally clear, revealing the shimmering asphalt of a long-abandoned highway. Rey’s muscles clench around the rumbling emptiness in her stomach, a survival habit developed from years before the outbreak, when she needed to hide just how hungry she was from Plutt or else be beaten. 

 

There’s no one around now, and Rey decides to risk being seen by roaming gangs or hordes to walk along the side of the road, thinking of the half-eaten granola bar in her bag. She needs food, and soon. Right now, the highway is her best option to find somewhere to scavenge.  

 

Staying close to the treeline, Rey walks at a slower pace, trying to keep from sweating too much. She needs water too. She holds her staff close to her body, her fingers slipping along the wrapped grip. Wherever the Resistance base is, she hopes it’s somewhere cooler. 

 

A weathered green road sign appears in the distance. As she gets closer, she reads the faded white lettering:

YAVIN: 5 MILES. 

 

The knowledge that civilization, or whatever is left of it, is that close sends a wave of apprehension through Rey. The last time she was near a town, she had nearly gotten killed and was separated from her only ally. The fact that this ally had a car, even the piece of junk that it was, is not lost on her either as she wipes another wave of sweat and grime off her face. The Falcon , as Han had called it fondly, somehow had a semi-functioning air conditioner.

 

As she approaches the town, signs of civilization begin to become more apparent. Abandoned vehicles line the road, debris scattered across the pavement. All is quiet, no signs of corpses. If there had been any, they’ve been picked clean long ago. 

 

She’s now crossing into a former residential area, yards and houses and cars lining the block. Out in the open, without any cover, hundreds of eyes could be watching her from the dark surrounding windows, or a walking corpse could jump out from any number of concealed spots. Still, waiting for the cover of night would be ill-advised, she thinks. All the shadows would be darker, the hidden spots even more disguised. No, it would be much better to try each house she can find now, while there is still sunlight to see by.

 

The golden afternoon casts bright shafts of light across the front door of the first house, the wood steps showing early signs of rot. Lightly stepping over them, she creeps up to the front door, heart pounding. She tries the knob, and to her surprise, it’s unlocked. I won’t get that lucky every time , she thinks to herself. I can’t get used to it

 

The door squeals on rusted hinges as she pushes it inward. Wincing at the noise, Rey slips into the dusty, sunlit foyer, shutting the door softly behind her. She turns the lock with a final clunk, then waits, still as stone. She counts to 100, then 200, ears straining. When she hears nothing but her own breathing, she relaxes, but only a little. Only enough to move as quietly as she can, scuffed boots leaving fresh footprints in the thick coating of dust on the wood floor. 

 

The house, while clearly abandoned, used to be nice. Or at least, Rey thinks so. Even before the apocalypse, she had never lived with a foyer to compare this one to. 

 

Rey releases one hand’s tight grip on her staff to cover her mouth and nose, breathing in dust as her footfalls disturb the quiet tomb of the hallway. She avoids looking at the ghosts on the walls, family portraits still hanging askew in their frames. 

 

The hallway seems to go on forever, but eventually the wood gives way to the once-white tile of the kitchen floor. Rey notices the sun starting its slow descent past the window above the sink, glass cloudy with grime. She quickly slings her staff over her back, out of the way, and opens her bag. Pulling out the extra scraps of cloth she keeps crumpled at the bottom, Rey wraps her wrists and hands with the worn material. It’s another leftover habit from her childhood, when she would cut her hands on glass and sharp metal as she dug through the trash, hoping to find a scrap of food or something salvageable to sell.  

 

She makes quick work of the room, checking every cabinet and opening every door, even the fridge, which is mercifully empty, any rotten contents cleaned out long ago. 

 

But Rey is a scavenger, has been one since before the rest of the world was forced to be, and she doesn’t give up at the sight of an empty kitchen. She combs carefully through the rest of the house, rifling through drawers that smell of sawdust and mothballs, pads up the stiff carpeted stairs to search through every bedroom. 

 

By the time she’s searched every corner of the house, the sun is almost below the horizon, skimming the treetops in the distance. She figures she’ll go to one more house, find a place to bunker down for the night. Even if there isn’t any food, she’ll at least have a place to sleep tonight that isn’t a tree branch digging into her back.  

 

She exits through the back door, hoping to avoid any potential eyes or zombies on the main road. Hopping the fence between houses, she presses her body close to the back door of the next house, peering through the window. She sees nothing but a similar looking kitchen, also covered with a thick layer of dust. No one has been here for a long time. 

 

Rey tries the door. It’s locked. See? She asks herself, carrying a conversation in her mind. She hasn’t spoken aloud in weeks, let alone to another person. I’m never that lucky.  

 

She jiggles the knob, pushing her shoulder against the frame, but it doesn’t budge. Damn . She doesn’t want to break the window, worried about the noise. But if she stays here any longer, it will be dark. She could try any of the houses on the block, but what if they’re all locked? 

 

She waits, listens. There is no sound, just the wind in the trees. She weighs her options: she could try the next house. And the next, and the next, hoping one will be unlocked. Or she could just break in. She’s done it before. But if there’s anyone nearby, they might hear. Rey stands still, feeling the evening breeze tickle the hair at her neck. 

 

Broken glass, or broken door? She asks herself. She imagines a horde of zombies bursting easily through a busted door and shivers. Glass it is, then

 

Rey takes the end of her staff and quickly punches it through the bottom pane of glass, the one closest to the door handle. The shattering sound feels as loud as a gunshot in the silence, the glass bouncing off the linoleum tile. If there is anyone left in the house, they’ll definitely hear her now. 

 

She sticks her still-wrapped arms carefully through the gap, careful to avoid the sharp edges. She can’t afford to have any open wounds, and she sacrifices precious seconds to feel carefully for the lock, clicking the door open from the inside. She steps through and quickly shuts the door, locking it again behind her. 

 

Rey’s boots crunch over the broken glass, the room dim. The sun has dipped completely below the treeline now, and Rey decides to wait until the morning to comb the house. She doesn’t want anyone to see the light of her flashlight bobbing through the rooms, and besides, she shouldn’t waste the batteries. 

 

The rooms upstairs are thankfully empty. Feeling the stress of the day flooding her limbs with exhaustion, Rey collapses on biggest bed she finds, the springs screeching and sending up a great poof of dust. She curls around her aching stomach and falls into a dreamless sleep. 

 

———————————

 

The next several days pass in a similar manner. Rey wakes, swallowing around her dry throat, and methodically combs over the graveyard that is the neighborhood. She manages to find a few useful items: a long-opened box of saltine crackers, now completely stale; a rusty pair of scissors; and her most miraculous find: a large jug of bleach, the liquid sloshing promisingly as she pulls it out. She’s going through the bathroom of one house when she finds it, stuffed under the sink behind a pile of moth-eaten towels. At first, she’s happy to see the CLOROX logo staring up at her, knowing she’ll at least be able to sterilize supplies in the future. She’s trying to come up with a way to carry it when she tests the cap, sniffing the stuff to make sure. 

 

Rey pauses, sniffs again. While the smell of bleach is there, it’s fainter than it should be for such a large bottle of the stuff. Rey’s throat aches hearing the liquid move back and forth. She’s had to ration the last of her water even more, only taking one sip in the morning when she wakes up, and one at night before she sleeps. 

 

Cautiously, she dips a fingertip into the bottle and brings it to her tongue. Can it really be…  

 

She carefully pours out a little more of the clear liquid into the cap, her hands slightly shaking. She raises the cap to her cracked lips, taking a tiny sip. 

 

It’s water. 

 

Rey wants to cry with joy at such a discovery, but forces herself to keep her composure. She can’t waste any of her body’s water on something so stupid as tears. If I ration, this will last me for weeks , she thinks giddily. 

 

She’s walking between blocks in the afternoon sun, pack heavy with water ( water! She still can’t believe it ) and her other small spoils when she hears the heart-stopping sound of a motor engine. 

 

She’s still a few hundred feet away from the next house, open and exposed on the road. The sound is loud in the ringing silence, but sounds far enough away that Rey will make it if she sprints. 

 

Rey bursts into action, her boots pounding the pavement as she hurries to the house, not bothering to check for noise. To her horror, she rounds the corner of the street and finds herself facing some of the walking dead. They’ve been attracted by the noise, both from her mad dash and the revving engine. 

 

She counts them, eyes flicking back and forth across their ragged bodies. One..two...three...four... too many , she thinks, breaking off the count. Too many for me to kill alone

 

She’s almost to the house’s front door, and Rey hopes she’s lucky, just this once. She would take this one moment of luck over a lifetime of bad luck, if only this one door is unlocked when she needs it to be. She leaps over the scruffy front yard and slams her body to the door, yelping in surprise as she tumbles to the ground from the force of it, the door swinging wildly open behind her. 

 

There’s no time to reflect, no time for any thoughts at all. She scrambles up, hoping the door frame isn’t damaged, hoping the lock will hold, that the zombies will go for the owner of the engine instead of her. She slams the door shut and spins the lock, but the mechanism is jammed. Panicking, Rey grabs the nearest furniture she can find, a foyer desk, the coffee table from the next room, a few spindly chairs. She stacks them in a perilous pile in front of the door and hopes her lucky streak continues. 

 

Rey struggles to get her breathing under control, the air coming out of her mouth in large pants. Her knees are shaking. I haven’t survived this long just to die here

 

She isn’t going to wait and watch for the dead to catch her from the front room of this abandoned house. She clambers up the stairs directly behind her and enters one of the rooms, sliding under the bed. Dust coats her shoulders and back; she can feel the layers catch in her buns on the back of her head. Her water bottles dig uncomfortably into her back from where she lays atop her bag, her staff clutched in a two-handed grip. 

 

Be still . Rey holds her breath, listening. There is no sound of pounding at the door, and she isn’t sure she would hear the engine noise from her hiding spot. Maybe it’s just a person passing through. She hopes it’s just a single person passing through, and the dark part of her hopes the zombies chase them. Anything to survive another day. 

 

She counts, to 100, to 200, 500 seconds. She counts long enough for her heart to calm down, for her knees to stop shaking. It takes a long time. 

 

When she’s sure there aren’t any corpses breaking down the door, she slides her body out from under the bed, covered in dust. There’s still light to see by, just enough, and Rey finds the nearest bathroom. The latest rush of adrenaline reminds her how much she still needs to restock on supplies. 

 

She’s rifling through the cabinet behind the sink, tossing aside empty pill bottles and other trash. One of the white pill bottles rattles a little when she shakes it, and Rey eagerly twists the cap off, hoping it’s forgotten medicine. Instead, there’s only a strange black rectangle inside, like an old computer flash drive. 

 

Rey crushes down her disappointment. There isn’t any need for digital data storage these days. This won’t help her eat, or survive. She can’t even trade it for something, considering no wandering gang or lone person would even have access to a computer anyway. 

 

She tosses the bottle in the pile with the other discarded items, and notes how the sun has once again dipped below the horizon, casting the house in shadow. Even though Rey escaped today, she’s still on edge after such a close call. 

 

Rey spends the next hour ripping the sheets off the old beds and tearing the cloth into new strips, to be used for wrapping her hands and to shield her face from the sun. She’s leaving tomorrow. She’s spent enough time scavenging here. 

 

Laying down on the bed she hid under only a few hours earlier, Rey closes her eyes and thinks of Finn. She imagines him reaching the Resistance, imagines them welcoming him with open arms. Finn is luckier than I am , Rey thinks. He’ll make it

 

The mattress is soft beneath her head, and Rey sinks into it, exhausted from the adrenaline and fear earlier. 

 

———————————

 

She’s dreaming of Han, of the moment he pressed the gun into her hands, when she’s startled awake by rough hands wrapping around her upper shoulders and yanking her off the bed. 

 

The person presses her back against their front, the arms like a vice around her. She struggles, aiming her heels for their shins, their knees, but it’s like kicking against solid rock. 

 

“Let me go,” she snarls, and her voice cracks from disuse. It’s the first words she’s spoken to another human being in weeks. Fear makes her loud, and her finely-honed instincts make her wince at the volume despite still being crushed to a stranger’s body, unable to see their face. 

 

“I wouldn’t make so much noise if I were you,” the stranger grunts, the voice low and irritated. The stranger is a man then. Intimidating , Rey thinks, although she’d never admit it aloud. “It’ll only cause both of us trouble.” 

 

Rey snaps her head back, hoping to catch the man in the nose, but he’s taller than she thought. Instead, the back of her head smacks hard into what she thinks is his chin, and she’s temporarily stunned by the impact, slumping for only a moment in his arms. 

 

It’s all the time he needs to suddenly release her to the ground, facedown on the wood floor, only to immediately place his knee against her back, leaning his solid weight into her. She struggles with all her might, but he’s just too heavy. Rey hears him fumbling with some sort of linen, before the man ties a blindfold around her eyes. He then makes quick work of her arms, binding then behind her back. 

 

She recognizes the feeling of the sheets she tore up last night. The man doesn’t gag her, and Rey doesn’t stop writhing on the ground beneath him. “What are you doing?” She asks him. “I don’t have anything valuable,” she says quickly, and tries not to think of her full water bottles, the most valuable thing she has. “Let me go!” 

 

“If you don’t stop struggling,” he responds in his rumbling voice, “I’ll leave you here like this. And I’ll be sure to make a lot of noise on the way.” 

 

The threat of being attacked by zombies forces Rey to still. “What do you want ,” she asks again, and she hates the way her voice sounds small. 

 

The man doesn’t give an answer, instead hoisting her up as if she weighed nothing and laying her down on the bed. She hears the scrape of a chair and the groan of wood as the man sits down. 

 

Rey struggles to a sitting position and listens. “I’m looking for something,” the man finally says. “I know you have it.” 

 

Rey opens her mouth, indignant. “I don’t know what you’re talking abou— hey!” She exclaims, hearing the contents of her bag being dumped out on the floor, her meager things scattering across her feet. She hears the sound of her clunky, full water bottles thudding and then rolling away, the gun Han gave her and the rest of her supplies following. 

 

“I’m looking for something,” the man repeats. “A map.” 

 

“A map ? I don’t have any map,” Rey says. “Everything I have is right here on the floor,” she spits at him. “Thanks for that.” 

 

The man is quiet again, infuriating Rey. First he blindfolds her, then he can’t even do her the courtesy of speaking? She hears the soft pop of his knees bending and listens as he rifles through her things, shakes her bottles, hearing the unmistakable slosh of water inside. 

 

“I know it was here,” the man says. “And here you are.” 

 

“Here I am,” Rey agrees, her voice acid. “A person who has no idea what you’re talking about. I’m just here for supplies.” 

 

“Ah,” he makes a small sound of acknowledgement, of understanding. “So you’re a scavenger then.” 

 

For some reason, the word in his mouth, coming from this stranger’s deep voice, causes her to bristle. “Aren’t we all scavengers now?” She asks from under her blindfold. “Or maybe you’re just a coward, since you won’t even let me see your face.” 

 

She flinches back when she feels his hands near her own face. He’s wearing leather gloves. What is he doing — 

 

To her surprise, he pulls off the cloth covering her eyes. She blinks in the bright daylight streaming in from the window, highlighting a long, dour face, a wide mouth, dark furrowed brows. His hair is long and dark as coal, brushing the collar of his leather jacket. It’s a strangely misshapen face, bumpy with moles and features too wide, too big, to be considered handsome. A large scar bisects the right side of his face, only adding to the sense of imbalance. 

 

But most of all it’s the naked, open look on his odd face that sends a wave of trepidation through Rey. The soft daylight pouring in through the window shades his form in a delicate chiaroscuro, shadows pooling in the dips and curves: his large nose, below his expressive brow, his wide lips. It’s bizarrely vulnerable, without the blindfold acting as a mask between them. 

 

The man swallows, and Rey watches his Adam’s apple bob up and down his long throat. “Better?” He asks, and his voice catches on the word just a bit. 

 

“I don’t know who you are, but I don’t have what you’re looking for,” Rey says, shaking off the initial wave of shock. 

 

Just like that, the peculiar spell in the air between them is broken, and the man’s face shutters closed, like an iron wall slamming down. “If you’re not with the Resistance, then who are you? You just happened to be in this exact place? Where is the drive?” 

 

The drive? Rey has no idea what this man is talking about, and panic begins to set in. If I can’t convince him—  

 

“I’ve only heard of the Resistance. As a rumor,” she says breathlessly. “I’m...I’m looking for a friend. And just trying to survive, same as anyone. I don’t know anything about a drive.” And if I did, I’m not so sure I would even tell you , she thinks, her eyes flicking from the scar to the wide shoulders in his leather jacket. This man is dangerous. 

 

The man’s brown eyes search her face for what feels like minutes, hours, even though it’s only a few seconds in real time. He leans forward, invading her space. “You know I can take whatever I want,” he says in a low voice, and Rey will not let herself be intimidated. She glares back for all she’s worth, hopes this stranger will see she won’t be scared so easily. 

 

The seconds pass between them, the air heavy with it. He leans back suddenly, and Rey lets out her breath in a whoosh . “But I don’t need anything from a scavenger.” 

 

He stands then, and scans the floor again, scattered with Rey’s belongings. He kicks the gun away, causing it to skitter across the wood into the corner of the room. Rey watches him, body tense, and wills him not to take her water. He bends down, hand outstretched, and Rey holds her breath. When he comes up, it’s not any bottle in his hands. 

 

He tosses the pair of scissors she picked up a few days prior next to her on the bed. “I’m going to search this house. Don’t try to follow.” 

 

He’s done with her then. Rey watches him, waits. He leaves the room without another word and she listens to the sounds of him rustling throughout the house. She hears the cabinets of the bathroom opening, the doors of the other bedrooms opening, the dull clang of the kitchen. She waits, and is still. 

 

Soon, the man is finished with the search. She’s not sure if he found what he was looking for before she hears the engine sound from outside. So it was him before

 

Still, she waits even as she hears the tires peel away. She counts, for 100, 300 seconds. All is quiet. She watches dust motes dance in the light from the window. 

 

Finally, when she’s sure it’s safe, she looks to where he left the scissors on the bed beside her. Sure, he left her tied up, but he gave her the option to get free. Bastard , Rey thinks viciously, as she wriggles her body over to the scissors and works to cut the fabric around her wrists without cutting herself. 

 

It’s time to go. She can’t waste another second in this town. She gathers her supplies, stuffing them back into her bag. She’s slinging her staff across her back and walking out, past the bathroom, when she remembers the tiny black rectangle in the pill bottle she tossed aside the night before. She had thought it looked like a computer flash drive. 

 

That man, he was asking about a drive , she thinks. And he was convinced it was in this house . Could it be...   

 

She has to check. Maybe the drive could be a valuable bargaining chip, if it even is the thing he was looking for. She digs through the pile of pill bottles until she finds the right one, twisting open the cap. The black rectangle is still there, safely secured and untouched. She turns over the bottle, letting the thing tumble out into her waiting palm. She inspects it. It is a flashdrive. What could a man in the apocalypse want with a flashdrive? Even more, what does the Resistance want with it? 

 

She turns it over, noticing the strip of white tape on one of the sides. The letters BB-8 are scrawled in orange pen. She can’t help but think of Finn. Was he here? Was he involved in all this? 

 

Rey doesn’t know, but she decides to hold on to the flashdrive for now. A map of some kind, if the man is to be believed. She makes a small tear in one of her granola bars, slipping the small drive inside. It’s not the best hiding place, but it will have to do for now. 

 

Stepping outside, Rey shuts the door of the mysterious house firmly behind her. For the first time in what feels like years, she feels a small glimmer of hope, despite the events of the last twenty-four hours. She orients her body west, using the sun overhead as her guide. 

 

It’s just another day , she thinks, her personal mantra, as she sets her boots back on the road.