No one has ever told her that her newfound awareness would mean waking to a thousand phantom pains.
If she digs deep enough, she can pinpoint each one. The ache of General Organa's— Leia's— heartbreak always hits the hardest, but there are others, too. Nights when she gasps awake and is aware of Poe Dameron doing the same, on the other side of the base, with images of a hand reaching for them and clawing its way inside flashing through both of their minds. Still more find their way inside her head, their traumas like novels she can read.
Rey doesn't want to.
The Millenium Falcon provides solace at first, but eventually other dreams sneak into her head— these of a man who laughs at the galaxy and believes himself to be invincible. Those are, if possible, even worse, so she eventually finds herself on long nighttime walks in an effort to avoid sleep. Sleep is when she is vulnerable. Sleep is when her guard is down, so the solution must be to keep her guard up at all times.
Her walks almost always lead her to Finn. She sits beside him and holds his hand, and thinks about how she's grateful that she doesn't feel his pain as well. It's here that she's shaken awake, more than once, and almost always by Poe Dameron.
"Morning," he says, grinning at her crookedly. He never asks her why she's there so early. She never asks why he seems to come here at this time every day. She takes the caf that he offers her and sips it in silence, not really noticing when he pulls up a chair next to her, and not really noticing that his knee is pressing up against hers.
If she's being honest with herself, it's not the only strange place she's woken up. She finds herself half-inside the belly of a starfighter more than once, having dozed off while doing repairs. Once, BB-8 bumps up against her leg and breaks her out of another vision of the ocean, which had been interrupted by Kylo Ren mocking her loneliness.
She senses it, briefly, just for a moment— that mental sneer, the echo of a curious but sinister thought. It makes her fists clench, and it's all she can do to stop herself from storming off to the cells.
"No, I'm alright," she says. "I just need some food. And some company that doesn't want to ask me about using a lightsaber."
BB-8 accompanies her to the mess happily enough. He even manages to clamber up onto the bench next to her, doing that strange thing where he purrs. There's a little burning flame of happiness that she's never allowed herself to feel before coming here, and that little burning flame only grows when Poe and Jessika collapse onto the bench with her. Jessika nearly face-plants into her dinner, narrowly missing the bowl.
"If I never see another TIE again," she mumbles, "I will rest in peace."
"Rest in pieces, more like," Poe says, elbowing her. "What else is going to keep you on your toes?"
Jessika shoves him away, scowling.
Rey raises an eyebrow. "Rough mission?"
"Trying to break through the Ryloth blockade," Poe answers. He seems chipper enough, in contrast to Jessika. "It's not been easy on the Twi'leks lately. Used to be that all we could do was provide escort for ships trying to smuggle refugees off-world, but lately General Organa's gotten more optimistic about our chances for freeing the planet. We got chased off by a squadron of TIEs this time, though. How about you— busy with repairs again?"
Rey thinks about how she fell asleep into the fighter, and coughs. "Yeah. It's been slow going, but I think I can get the blue squadron X-Wing to fly again."
"Hey, nice going," Jessika says, perking up a bit. "Denee'll be happy about it. You sure you don't want to take one of ours out for a spin sometime, Rey? I've been waiting to see you in action for a while now."
"That makes two of us," Poe adds.
It's hard to deny their earnest faces, but Rey thinks about the nights she's spent wandering the base, and knows that piloting anything alone isn't in her best interests right now.
"Nah, sorry," she answers. "Besides, I think the general's going to be sending me off soon."
Poe gives her a look that makes her pause. His eyes search hers, as though looking for signs that she's been off-kilter, and she does her best to sink back into the Force when she looks back at him, determined not to give herself away. She tells herself that she can avoid this confrontation until the day of her departure— that Luke Skywalker will undoubtedly be living on some faraway planet that no one knows of, that she'll be able to sleep there.
BB-8 bumps into her arm.
"I dunno how soon," she adds.
"Too bad," Jessika sighs. "At least come with me for a round in the simulators, Rey. Please? Look at BB-8, you can't say no to that face."
BB-8 lets out a shrill whistle, then bumps into her arm again. Rey rolls her eyes, but can't stop herself from smiling.
"Yeah, alright," she says.
As she's dragged along by a giddy Jessika and a Poe with an evil smirk (one that says he intends to crush Rey in the simulators— like that'll happen), she decides that there's something to be said about finding a home. Albeit one where she can't sleep.
His first (and, in the beginning, only) visitor is his mother.
He doesn't speak to her. As far as he's concerned, there is nothing to say.
She doesn't speak to him either, though— and that aggravates him, for some reason. There is no anger within her, not that he can sense, and he cannot figure out why that is. He sits on the cot in his cell, facing the steel wall across from him. She stands in front of the ray-shielded door, hands folded behind her back in a stiff, military pose that he's never really associated with her before.
She doesn't speak a word. Oh there is no doubting the steadiness, the immeasurable sadness, and the tiniest flicker of hope within her, but none of that is expressed. Every so often he tries to flex his right hand, only to recall that there is a stump there. He wears his wounds with pride, aware that the Resistance is wary of providing him with a prosthetic, but not desiring one anyway. He's waiting for the day that Rey comes to him. He's waiting to see what she does when she sees the results of her power.
But when the outer door of his cell opens, it's only ever his mother, and she never speaks.
They're both of the Skywalker bloodline; stubbornness runs rampant through their veins.
It occurs to him, after the first week, that he has always thought of her as his mother— never once has the name 'General Organa' crossed his mind. 'Han Solo' had come easy to him, but she will never be Leia Organa. There is too much already there— of arms around him while he cried, and hands calming him after he lost control of his power when he was younger. The first real test, he now realizes, should not have been to pit him against Han Solo (his father). He realizes that now, but the damage is done.
She remains his mother.
The bacta treatments for his face and wrist do their job, and soon there is only phantom pain remaining. His face aches when the nights are cold. Sometimes, there is someone else there with him, recoiling in horror at the feeling, and he always smiles when he senses it.
Do you see it? he tries to ask, but she's always gone by then.
For once, the nightmare that Rey wakes from this time is her own.
It's refreshing, in a way. She hops off of her bed, used to this nightly routine by now, and doesn't even give thought to where she will go this time. Her feet don't take her to Finn's room as they usually do, carrying her inside where the Force whispers for her to go. She passes through the hanger, where there are a few pilots wandering around, but keeps to the shadows to avoid being sighted.
The outdoors are quiet, a falsity of peace. Poe is sitting atop the hill that the Resistance base hides beneath, his face turned up towards the stars. Rey plops down next to him, unsure of why she's here, but knowing that this place is as good as any for her to wait out the night.
"You haven't been sleeping either."
Poe's voice is rough, as though from disuse— or maybe screaming. Rey winces.
"It's war," he continues. "This kind of stuff happens."
"That doesn't mean it ought to."
"Yeah, I guess." He glances at her, then looks down at her hand as though asking for permission. Rey takes his and laces their fingers together, taking comfort in the warmth it provides. It seems to help in warding off everyone else's ghosts. She doesn't have anything else to do, so she silently starts to count the constellations that she's only ever heard of, but never seen. Poe is a solid anchor, something that she's never really had before.
"When you're having a bad time of it," he says eventually, "best thing to do is make sure you're not alone."
Rey nods. Then, because she knows what has him waking up gasping at night, she asks, "Do you have someone you can talk to about it?"
"Not really. You?"
"I'm not sure who would understand."
He squeezes her hand. "You and me both."
The nights are a bit less miserable, after that.
Leia has never dealt well with grief. She does what she's always done: she keeps fighting the good fight, and she looks after her own.
There is an additional step, this time, of visiting her son. It's selfish, but she wants to be able to look at his face and think he's here. Even if he isn't, not really. Not yet. He sits there and he doesn't look at her, and he tries to meditate and only half-succeeds. She can sense his building frustration and restlessness, and she knows that that isn't going to help him.
Her son is here, with her. Mere weeks after he's murdered his father— Han, oh gods. She shies away from that thought whenever it sneaks up on her. She shies away from the rage that tries to burst forth— why is everything always, always taken from her?
She finds something else to focus on when she finds Poe and Rey in a deserted lounge. The sight itself would not be strange, were it not for the fact that it's around 0300. She hovers in the doorway for a moment, watching as Poe tries to teach Rey to play Sabacc.
"That's— that's cheating, you're cheating!"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
Leia clears her throat, smiling fondly when the pair jumps, both heads swiveling around to face her.
"Is everything alright?" Rey asks sharply.
"Sit down Rey, please— everything's fine," she assures her. Poe, who had also sprung to his feet, sinks back into his chair. She can read the exhaustion on their faces easily enough, and doesn't have to guess that this is a nightly occurrence for the pair of them. She knows about their frequent visits to Finn's bedside, but she had been under the impression that those were the only times the two really interacted.
It seems that she's wrong.
"Though I don't know that a Force-user and my best pilot should be skipping sleep."
Sheepish looks appear on both of their faces. Before either she or Rey can say anything, Poe mumbles his apologies and hurries out of the room. Rey almost makes to go after him, but then sinks back into her seat. Leia takes Poe's now-unoccupied chair, fixing Rey with a concerned look.
"What is it?" she asks.
Rey looks her in the eyes once, then back down at her feet, swallowing slightly. There is so much familiarity in the gesture that it hurts Leia for a moment— and she doesn't miss the way Rey jerks at that. She feels a new concern building, but this— this isn't the helplessness she felt when her son left. She can do something about this.
"You can't turn it off, can you?" she says. "Now that you've found the Force, it's like the switch is broken. You feel things you know that you shouldn't." At Rey's startled look, she laughs. "When Luke told me I was his sister, I realized what I could do. We were all a bit high on adrenaline at the time, so I attributed what I was sensing to that, but once the frenzy died down, the foreign feelings were still there. All the time."
Rey closes her eyes, letting out a shuddering breath. Then, with her tone curiously blank, she says, "You've been to see him ten times now. And every time it's like… like you've found water in the middle of Jakku. Or Tatooine." She laughs, chokes on a sob. "I don't even know what Tatooine is. I got it from you."
Leia rubs a hand up and down Rey's back while she tries to get her breathing under control. It's a gesture of comfort that she remembers from her own mother. She doesn't let that thought get too far, another reminder of the losses she feels.
"I may not be a Jedi," she says, "but Luke taught me a few of the basics. I can help you learn how to get the sensitivity under control."
Rey's eyes light up, and that's familiar too. But in a good way, this time.
The pilot comes to him, eventually.
"I'm here to tell you to stop," he says, without preamble.
Kylo raises an eyebrow. "I see the Resistance does not put much stock in manners."
Poe Dameron folds his arms. "Don't change the subject. It's bad enough that you had to force your way into my head once. I don't need you doing it every night. So again: stop."
Ah, so that's what this is about. Kylo smirks.
"Any nightmares you have sustained since your capture are entirely of your own making," he tells the pilot. "I cannot help you. I don't think that the General would be overly pleased to hear that you've stormed into my cell."
"No." Dameron shakes his head. "No, it has to be you, somehow. There's nothing to stop you from using the… the Force, or whatever it's called. You're the only one who could be doing this."
"On the contrary." Kylo nods at the ray-shielded door. "I'm not sure where the General managed to acquire a midichlorian-dampening field, but I am impressed. I am greatly weakened here. Else I would have broken out and destroyed all of you ages ago."
Dameron's hands are shaking, but to his credit he doesn't once break Kylo's gaze. He really is trying his best not to be intimidated, but considering how he's dealing with Kylo breaking into his mind… well.
"Y'know," he says, voice a bit steadier, "I don't think you need the mask anymore. You certainly look the part of a monster without it, now."
He leaves, after that. Kylo knows that Dameron was referring to the scar, but he looks down at his hands, covered in Han Solo's (his father's) blood. Ordinarily, it wouldn't matter. This time he nearly screams.
(That night, his mother comes to him again. It's the closest he comes to speaking to her.)
"Just think about it, alright?" Rey asks. She places a hand atop his shoulder, squeezing it and smiling at him. There's so much hope in that smile that Poe nearly aches, but he thinks that he can feel it too. Right now, in the light of day, his nightmares seem like a small price to pay in light of their victory. The Resistance lives on. Rey is leaving to find Skywalker. The general, in spite of how she seems to need to prop herself up when she thinks no one is looking, is fierce during meetings and speaking as though there's an end in sight.
On the other hand… Rey is leaving.
He gives her what he hopes is a reassuring nod and smile, watching alongside the rest of the Resistance as she boards the Falcon and takes off, leaving for some unknown reach of the galaxy. He already feels a little bit colder without her around, without the comfort of her presence. It doesn't take much for him to recognize that he's been using her as a crutch (though he likes to think that he values her as far, far more than that).
The first thing he does is go see Finn again.
The second thing he does is sign up for the next available reconnaissance mission.
Jess volunteers to go with him almost immediately. If she's bothered by the fact that he doesn't say a word while they're out flying together, she doesn't comment on it.
Flying helps, in whatever small way that it can. He feels as though he can leave behind the weight of reality when he reaches for the stars. Here, he's the one in control. Here, he doesn't have time to think about being strapped to a chair while a thing in a mask clawed its way into his mind, ripping the information about BB-8 out of him without a care in the world. Those things all come back to him when his feet touch the ground, but in his X-Wing he can brush it away.
He used to have a foolish hope that confronting Kylo Ren would put some of it to rest. Maybe seeing the damage that Rey inflicted on him would help him to realize that he was no longer a threat. That had all gone straight to hell when he started to throw accusations around (because there's no way that the general would be stupid enough to leave Ren with full access to his power). Every time he thinks about confronting him a second time, he shies away from the very idea.
His daily life now alternates between taking any available missions, attempting to sleep when he's at the end of his rope, and visiting Finn.
It's when he doing the latter of those things that the general finally catches up with him.
"He'll wake up when he's ready," she says from the doorway, making him jump. She moves further into the room, her keen gaze making him stare at his shoes. "Right now he's resting, and healing. Things that you should be doing as well."
Poe laughs. "I don't know how to get our prisoner out of my head."
General Organa regards him steadily. "Yes, I saw the footage from his cell. For what it's worth, I'm sorry about what he did to you."
Poe blinks in confusion. "Why?"
"It's a long story." She moves to sit next to him, more fluidly than her tired eyes suggest. "I don't know if I can give you what you need for this, Poe. I've been helping Rey as best as I can, teaching her some basic shielding. As a non-Force user, there's only so much you can do, but I'd be happy to share what I know with you as well. If you think it would help."
Poe shifts uneasily. The general's words have an underlying current of power that he recognizes— one that makes him uneasy. "What exactly would this entail?"
She shrugs. "Basic shielding, like I said. You'd at least be better equipped to face someone like Kylo Ren in the future. It would take time, and patience. But if you're willing to learn…"
Poe isn't the most trusting person in the galaxy, but he's not a paranoid maniac, either. He knows about the Force, and is well aware that both Rey and Kylo Ren have some special connection to it. General Organa must have one too, though she never plays it up (and he feels kinda stupid for never recognizing it before). He knows that it's the Force that will ultimately determine the outcome of the conflict with the First Order— and that's something that he hates.
He trusts Rey, but she's off-world, searching for a legend. He trusts his squadron. He trusts Finn (Finn, brave Finn, who's been in a coma for weeks).
He trusts the general.
"Alright," he says.
Rey knows this place like the back of her hand, in spite of never having been here before. Each stone step is carved into her memory the same way it is carved into the rock, and each gust of wind doesn't chill her the way it should, considering she comes from a desert planet. The roar of the waves fills her ears and calms her heartbeat, which is quickened from the exertion. She knows this place, just like she knows the man who turns to face her with disbelief on his face.
Disbelief. Or maybe it's hope.
It feels like an eternity before either one of them move. He crosses to her and gently lowers the lightsaber back to her side.
"I think it belongs to you, now," he tells her. "What's your name?"
"It's…" Rey coughs, throat suddenly dry as she picks up on the enormity of his presence. "It's Rey."
He smiles at her, and she instantly recognizes the general in his face. In the sadness. "Hello, Rey."
"I'm going to tell you a story, Ben."
He twitches, but refuses to react any more than that. In spite of every part of him that screams denial at the name, he just sits and refuses.
His mother actually sits, this time. "It's a story you've heard before, I think. Though maybe you haven't heard this version of it. Force, I don't think I even know the whole story, but I'll do the best I can to do it justice."
Get to the point.
He can almost hear her smile, and curses himself. Of course she would hear him.
"A long time ago, there was a boy." She shifts slightly. "All he wanted was to leave the planet where he was shackled in slavery, but he also wanted to take care of his mother. In the end, she made him leave her to become a great warrior, because she was his mother, and she was always going to do what was best for him, in the end."
Jedi are hardly warriors, but his curiosity keeps him from interrupting.
"As the boy grew older, he grew to love a small group of people, but the intensity of his emotions were almost too much to deal with. He wound up putting his faith in the wrong person, though we may never know if it was for the right reasons. He did terrible things for that person's ends, and lost himself in the process.
"He had two children, however, and one of them had enough faith in him that he was able to find himself again. The other did not."
His mother pauses. "Ben… I don't know if I will ever have any faith in Anakin Skywalker. But I never should have lost faith in you."
Then why did you send me away? he wants to scream at her, but still he says nothing. He knows this story, but he knows the reality of it, and he wishes that his mother would not try to force this false tale on him. He has seen the truth. He will not be swayed, especially not by the weakness that his mother displays.
"That's all I came here to say," she tells him. "Good night, Ben."
Luke (her father) doesn't speak much.
She doesn't know why. She imagines it has something to do with being on a faraway planet for years, with only the wind for company. She knows a thing or two about sustaining yourself in the midst of an ocean of loneliness, but she also knows that she was bursting with questions and exclamations when she first left Jakku. She's bursting with questions now, but she knows that only a few will be answered by him.
Rey is still trying to figure out what words to use to convince him. Chewbacca and R2 are still waiting for them, down below, but even though Luke must know why she's here, he has said nothing about leaving with her— he's just asked her if she'd like to stay for dinner, and told her that she takes after her grandmother. She figures that it's his way of offering her an olive branch for…whatever it was he did.
Rey tries to tell herself that she doesn't know all the facts surrounding her abandonment on Jakku, but that doesn't automatically mean that it wasn't an abandonment. As a result, she doesn't talk a whole lot either. She accepts the bowl of stew from Luke (her father) and eats in silence. It's like being on Jakku, but not. On Jakku, she had no one.
She was no one.
When they've both finished their dinner, and she's helped Luke wash up, she finally decides that just coming out and asking is her best option.
"Will you come back to the Resistance with me?"
Luke pauses in his stiff movements. "I had hoped," he replies, "that you would be open to staying here and training."
"I can't do that." I won't.
He gives her a long look. He's been doing that a lot since she arrived, like he's trying to drink in the sight of her. She wonders if he feels any regret for missing her childhood— if he's imagining what it would've been like for them if he had had the chance to raise her (like she is). She knows that dwelling on what might have been is a mistake, but she does it anyway. It's a very sweet kind of pain.
"Chewie and R2 are expecting me," she explains. "I didn't bring a comm. They'll be worried."
"Are you open to training at all?"
Luke glances around his dwelling— a small cave, not far from where she had found him. His belongings are next to nothing, apart from the battered green lightsaber that he keeps on his belt. Rey has to wonder if he will miss it.
"Let's go," he says. She thinks she hears a fresh determination in his voice, and sees rejuvenation in his stride.
These are the first steps.
Kylo feels something very, very close to fear when his third visitor steps up to the cell door.
They found him.
"Rey told me you were here."
'Rey'. Rey, like they were already familiar with each other. Like she and Luke have bonded as father and daughter so quickly after she found him. That idea seems ridiculous to Kylo, and he snorts lightly, unable to help himself. It almost makes him angry, that she can forgive so easily. Forgive him for never coming to find her.
He can understand her not being angry with him about abandoning her, though— since he wasn't the one to do so.
Kylo could give his cousin the answers that he knows she must seek. She still hasn't dared to come and see him. He doesn't know what to think of that.
"Leia said you wouldn't talk. I can't say I'm surprised. We know all about stubbornness in this family. Except maybe Rey. I can't even believe it, she's…"
Whatever she is, Kylo never finds out. He sneaks a glance at Skywalker. The man isn't looking at him (at the object of his shame, no doubt), but he raises a hand in acknowledgement. It's tempting to make a quip about how old his former mentor has become, but (as in many things these days) Kylo can't bring himself to do so. It's like the energy to be defiant has been draining out of him, bit by bit, until he feels little else besides emptiness.
He tries to reach for his anger; it has never failed to fuel him in the past. It's like trying to keep a hold of sand.
The outer door slides open.
Rey blinks, looking between Skywalker and himself, and takes a step back. "I'll just…"
"It's fine, Rey." Luke gets up. "I don't think he's going to talk to me. Did you finish drilling?"
"Good. I'll see you later this afternoon for meditation practice."
She bows her head slightly as she passes. It's probably the most awkward parental interaction that Kylo's ever seen (and he's had plenty of those with his own parents).
Rey isn't like Luke. She starts pacing back and forth almost the moment her father leaves, pausing every so often to size him up. Kylo waits until her agitation has grown a sufficient amount before he finally speaks.
"I was wondering when you were going to want to talk, cousin."
"As far as I'm concerned, we're not cousins." Her voice is as harsh as the desert she hails from.
He shrugs. "Have it your way." He can't judge anyone for denying family.
"I don't understand you," she says. "You had a family who loved you. Luke— my…" She clearly isn't ready to call him 'father' just yet. "He's a wonderful teacher, so far. He's so— so kind. Why would you throw it all away for nothing? Power. Whatever it is you're after; I'm not sure. You had everything, and you gave it up."
"I guess that would depend on your perspective," he replies. "You grew up without a mother, but you also grew up without a mother who feared you would turn into your grandfather."
Rey gapes at him, then throws her head back in an incredulous laugh. "You—you think that that's why she's afraid?"
Kylo smiles before he can stop himself. "She was right, wasn't she?"
Rey folds her arms. "That's an oddly self-aware statement. Why are you talking to me?"
The sudden change in subject nearly throws him off-balance, but he quickly recovers. So far, she hasn't commented on the injuries she gave him (he'd almost been hoping she would). Instead, she's throwing questions about his family (her family) at him— to what end? Does she hope he will suddenly start bawling at the loss of Han Solo?
"Maybe I still think you can learn something from me," he answers.
"Of course," she says, sarcasm edging her voice. "Because the man who gutted his own father and killed hundreds of innocents is a man that I want to learn from. I don't think I've ever heard a greater joke than that one. Next thing I know, you'll be telling me that Snoke is actually a six-year-old princess who wears pink."
Kylo raises an eyebrow. "I won't deny that that would be horrifying."
Her face twists, like she doesn't want to laugh but can't quite suppress it.
Rey has stopped pacing, and is now looking at him with an unguarded expression. He can't exactly reach out with the Force to prod her mentally, to see what she's thinking, but he thinks he can feel her presence brush against his, out of curiosity. She doesn't do anything more than that, and the ghost of her presence is gone only a moment later.
In that brief moment he feels the light positively radiating from her, and it makes him recoil mentally. It takes all of Kylo's self-control not to distance himself from Rey physically, either. She has grown very quickly, if she's able to use the Force in such a subtle way (fighting back against him blindly was impressive, but very rough around the edges). He wonders if it was a mistake for him to fear Skywalker— perhaps she's the one whom he should fear.
"Leia seems to think that you won't be a monster, one day," Rey finally says. She moves over to the outer door. "But I'm not holding my breath."
Goodbye, cousin, he thinks. Judging by her flinch, she's heard him.
Poe's newly-acquired mental shielding has meant that he's visiting Finn at more regular hours. It's mid-afternoon, and he's due to go out on another surveillance run soon, so he's making the most of his time. Rey had joined him at some point, sitting next to him and letting her silence speak for itself.
He thinks she's doing better as well. She carries herself more assuredly. She doesn't seem to be wandering the base during the night hours anymore. Her training with Skywalker means that her muscles are already growing more toned, and her presence (which had been noticeable before) is almost formidable, now.
Poe knows her, though, and he's not intimidated in the least. Example: she's currently napping with her head on his shoulder. He's been careful not to jostle her, enjoying the relative peace of the medbay.
It doesn't last.
Rey gasps awake next to him, her eyes wild. At the same time, Finn— Finn—
Before he knows it, Poe is shouting for a med droid. Rey has grabbed one of Finns' hands, and is babbling almost incoherently while Finn blinks blearily at her. There's a small, joyful smile on his face, and it only grows when he spots Poe. At once, the droid is pushing them both back and performing a cursory examination on Finn. Poe gently pulls Rey back a bit, both of them holding their breath.
The droid is silent for a long time, but then it says, "We should be able to start bacta treatments tomorrow. I estimate, with time and patience, he will make a full recovery."
The fact that Finn falls back asleep almost immediately isn't enough to stop them from hugging.
The worst part about recovering from a lightsaber to the back is how slow he is now.
It doesn't seem to matter how many bacta treatments Finn gets— he still needs to relearn to walk, somewhat. Every step takes a little more effort than it's supposed to, but he pushes himself as quickly as Dr. Kalonia will allow so that he doesn't have to use the kriffing hoverchair anymore. He's allowed to practice using a blaster if he gets antsy enough, so that's something.
Most of the time, he finds himself either following Poe around the base or watching Rey's practice sessions with Luke Skywalker (Luke Skywalker!). The meditation isn't that fascinating, but the sparring is something else— for an older guy, Skywalker sure knew how to move. Rey has yet to beat him, as far as Finn can tell.
He settles into a routine, eventually— therapy every day, followed by sitting in on Rey's training, followed by shadowing Poe. He's grateful that none of them seem to mind his presence— if anything, they seem to actively seek him out if he doesn't show up.
The only thing he finds strange is the cold feeling that he gets when he wanders by the detention block— like a prickle on the back of his neck. He disregards it until Rey pulls him aside after dinner one day.
"I thought you should know," she tells him, "that we've captured Kylo Ren."
He feels his jaw unhinge. "Wha—?"
"He… he was hurt pretty badly after I fought him. It wasn't hard to bring him back here."
Finn shakes his head. "Okay, but… are you sure that's safe?"
"He can't escape," she states, sounding so sure that Finn almost has to believe her. "And he hasn't tried to cause any trouble, anyway. He just sort of sulks in his cell, most of the time. Doesn't talk to anyone. Well, he talked to me…"
"Are you okay? Was it okay?"
Rey laughs. "Not really."
She also chooses that moment to drop the bombshell that Luke Skywalker is, in fact, her father.
Finn thinks he may have fainted.
"You know, the conversations that the two of you have are probably the most painful conversations I've ever had the displeasure of sitting through."
Luke lets out a sigh.
Leia isn't about to be deterred by his world-weary attitude. "Both of you try. I have noticed. But that doesn't change the fact that you and Rey can't hold a conversation to save your life. Outside of training, that is. Somehow I don't think you want your relationship to be that of Master-Apprentice."
Luke winces. "Never liked those words."
"I'm just looking out for my niece. You know, have you considered bonding over growing up on a desert planet? I'd imagine that sand is a great thing to connect over."
"Ha-ha." Luke folds his arms, mirroring his sister's pose. "If you're not going to be helpful…"
Leia gives him a small smile. "I just thought I should let you know that I think she's willing to give you a chance. Don't mess it up."
Poe and Finn are making their way towards the mess when Rey goes racing past them.
"What's going on?" Finn calls.
Rey spins around so that she's running backwards, a brilliant grin on her face. "Luke's going to take me flying in one of the X-Wings!" She vanishes around the corner a moment later.
Poe actually pouts. "Man, I was hoping I'd get to do that."
Finn smiles, feeling suddenly wistful. "Come on, let her have this. Besides, I'm starving."
The outer door opens. It's Rey, for a second time, and Kylo makes eye contact with her almost immediately. He wonders if she knows that she is the only one he'll bother with. He briefly wonders why he bothers with her— a fledgling Jedi— at all.
There is none of the agitated pacing this time. She sits down on the visitor's bench almost immediately. She looks more curious than anything else.
"Ben," she says softly.
He jerks a bit. Whatever he had been expecting, it hadn't been that. "What?"
"Ben. It's a nice name. You don't really look like a 'Ben'."
He scowls. "That isn't my name."
"I think that your agony over your father's death says otherwise."
Kylo rears back, almost falling over in his haste to move away from her. He takes a ragged breath, almost hissing at the twinge of pain from his facial scar. Rey doesn't seem alarmed by his sudden frustration at all, and he doesn't know what to think of that.
"So," he says, recovering. "Your friend, Dameron, came to yell at me for invading his mind a while ago. I wonder how he would react if he found out that you've done the same."
Too late, he realizes that all he's done is confirm what she's said. She's already shaking her head.
"It's involuntary," she explains. "I pick things up while I'm meditating. Ben Solo is one of them."
He snaps before he can stop himself.
"I buried Ben Solo!" he snarls.
"Liar," Rey hisses back, suddenly not the serene woman who had stepped into the cell. "You tell that to yourself because it helps you sleep, maybe. But I've seen the truth— you haven't buried Ben Solo. You drag him along behind you. You're incapable of letting him go. I know it. Luke knows it. So does your mother."
Kylo bares his teeth in a grin. "So you admit that he holds me back?"
Suddenly Rey seems to deflate, and he sees so much of Skywalker in her that it throws him off. "I didn't say that."
"If you knew the Dark Side, you'd understand."
Rey shakes her head. "Thanks, but no thanks. I've had enough loneliness to last a lifetime."
"And you're not lonely now? You'll be one of only two Jedi, if your father has his way."
She smiles at him. "That's not how I see it. Just… think about it. I'll admit that I don't know what you really want, but I hear that prison's a great place to work it out."
With that quip, she leaves.
Later that night, the good general visits again. Kylo waits a few minutes, as does she, before he takes a deep breath and speaks one word: